Experience Is Portable

When we moved to my new beloved South, I threw out big box after big box of newspapers and magazines where my articles appeared. It was a virtual history of my world, my life, in writing. It was also a history of my writing timely pieces. I recall the first one published that had national scope, was about Elian Gonzales, the Cuban child who was sent back to Cuba.

Why did I do it … throw them away?

Because, sometimes, the baggage, even accomplishments of your past, must be let go to make room for future growth.

I do have copies of some of the pieces on a computer, but by no meas, all.

My kids didn’t want them. That was a lot of paper. And it was my take on life and not theirs. They are here to tell and write their own stories.

As I went through to lone box in our garage the other day, along with the Stars and Stripes, I found a newspaper artle written about me, not by me. It was from one of my previous lives, you know, a chapter of this one that was long ago.

There was a time when I sculpted people into puppets. Yep. And I do not like puppets. They are a notch beneath clowns. But I used them as a tool.

The firts year that Winterfest at Kings Islan opened, they put out a call for artists and craftspeople to have booths in the Festhaus, where people ate and a show was presented. To this day, if Nick or I hear the song, “Food glorious food,” we groan.

Weird thing happened, they seemed to like my work and invited me. So I sat in the lower level of our trip-level in Mason, and inhaled clay dust and sewed puppet outfits.

That hwole Chritsmas season, from Thanksgiving until New Years, I was at a booth at the Festhaus, schlepping my puppet people.

Because they were unique, the pr man from Kings Island, took a liking to them and had photographers take photos. We became friends and would have lunch for years. He was a good man.

Somehow, Ohio magazine got wind of them and shot theym and they appeared on their cover for unique gifts. There was a blurb about them in Cincinnati magazine, and that is how The Bob Braun show found me. I was then doing workshops with kids, using making puppets, to teach communication skills.

So, I was asked to bring a couple of the kids, make a puppet of Mr. Braun, and appear on the show.

When I told my mom, here comment was, “It s too bad you gained your weight back. That was a real boost. I was 6 ft. tall and weiged 155.

Oh, to weigh 155, again.

I was also asked to make puppets of Robert Taft’s family. He was governor of Ohio. Carl Lindner was another one I was asked to do and Willard Scott was created as Carmen Miranda. That one, I did for the heck of it, sent it to him, and never heard a word.

I didn’t like doing the workshops with kids. I had to haul a lot of stuff. And frankly, teaching a group of kids isn’t my thing. I just couldn’t let them know that. But I am fessing up. I love teaching workshops with adults, especially women.

I remember at sign0ups for the workshop, one mother, a snoot, said, “My boy doesn’t need communication help. He talks all of the time.”

Uh-huh.

Some people don’t understand that communication is more about listening than talking.

Making the puppets went well with my solitary-isn, personality. No, I am not a total lonaer. I am a leader, too, if I am in a group. But I find that that s more perfomance art for me, an energy expender, where creating alone, and being able to learn at my own speed, quickly, is what I like.

I didn’t know all of this at the time. I was young. I didn’t have a clue as to who I was, which made me sort of lost. My energies were spent having and raising children. That, I loved.

My kids, all small at the time, would be given a hunk of clay and they would sit with me and make a puppet head (or creature). They have always know that I was a clayhead.

Bob Braun was very nice to be with. He knew how to do a show and make his scared guest look good. They people in the audience didn’t bother me, but those cameras and lights were something I hadn’t experienced.

My foray into people puppets only lsted a year or so. For me, life has been about learning and practicing and then moving on and taking that experience with me.

Experience, not boxes of newspapers. It travels much lighter.

Susan

To Be or To Do? That Is The Question

The word for today is peristalsis. That came to mind about 4:30 this morning. I decided that I like the movement of the word, which is similar to its function.

Rejoice. Hallelujah!

Our internal glory, our place of joy, enlightenment and growth sometimes gets lost in the whiskers of life, changes and problems.

There are times when reassessment is in order … when things shift and what was … now, isn’t.

One of the interesting things about life, that I have found, is that not once in our lives, does time stop. Oh, yes, it seems to stand still, of we wish we could hold a moment in time, but we can’t. Time moves.

Our lives move, too. From birth until death.

Some humans work at planning their lives. One of our earliest forays into conversation is when someone asked us, as a child, “What do you want to BE when you grow up?

Another version of the question is “What do you want to DO when you grow up?

To a young mind, those questions seem the same. As children, I didn’t distinguish the two questions.

But now, I see them as very different. One is occupational and the other is our soul, beliefs, values and, well, who we are.

After having a lifetime of professions and titles for what I “do”, the stage I am in and on, is an extension of the question “What do you want to be?”

It has morphed into who I have become.

Many of the things I have done, occupation-wise, study-wise, experience-wise ,by choice or demand, has evolved into who I have become.

An interesting thought to me is that one of my occupations, took hold so much and gelled so deeply into me, that it actually has braided over to be part of who I have become.

Writer.

There have been times when I have struggled. Just being, and being who I am, I felt, wasn’t enough. Simply being myself, without “doing” wasn’t enough.

I should do this. I should do that. Perpetual motion of the mind, placing more value on the what I do, versus who I am. Maybe it is or was an earning my keep thing. Perhaps it is societal rumblings and expectations. I have often felt that I needed to earn my right to life.

I look at the walls of my house, the art, the things that are around me and I see many things I have done.

In a way, they are me. But in a way, I can separate myself from them and not really recall making them.

When I think back to my occupations, the days I was in the workplace, I was never any of those occupations. They were skills. I did them to the best of my abilities for you I was at the time, but none of the occupations was me. Marketing director, sculptor, real estate broker, software company CEO, workshop teacher, etc … I did them all, but they weren’t me. With each, there came a point when I said, no more.

But in each one, I learned and what I learned, I put through a sieve, and brought onboard the parts that I would build into who I have become.

Why do these thought matter to me, now?

Because once again, the last four months or so, my life has taken unexpected turns.

Years ago, when I was in real estate, a friend who had gotten into the business because I had, dais, in a very distressed and exasperated way, “Why are there always so many problems?”

I laughed, looked at her and said … “That is wat we are paid to do … solve problems.”

She said that from that moment on, she got it.

And then, she quit.

That knowledge, that nugget, that life is often about solving problems, and releasing those you can’t solve, to a higher power, is something that plays out over and over. And I have to remember that when my blueberry basket gets tipped over.

There are times, such as recently, when I have had to dive under water with my eyes open, and do the breast stroke. I might not see clearly, but I must do it.

As humans, we often have to swim through uncharted emotional, fearful, uncertain waters. But in doing so, our muscles get stronger. We become stronger than we knew we could become.

After initial shock and a bit of flailing, I find that I get in a rhythm. The opposing currents subside andI get in a flow of the new and strange. And for a while, I have a new normal.

The new normal rarely lasts. Even life doesn’t last. But the ride, this wonderful ride, with its twists and turns and earthquakes and whirlwinds, when there are days that we wonder how we will get through, and times we wish would last for ever, is a real trip.

And for that, I say, Rejoice! Hallelujah!

Susan

Green Is Not My Best Color

It’s not an attractive color for me … green.

Especially, when it is caused by that green dye of a bit of envy.

Yesterday, I didn’t feel all that great. A summer bug, plus, my bones, joints, back, hips and leg, were revolting from what I have made them do this summer. My eyes were blurry, too, and I was out of sorts and just felt puny It was the second day of such nonsense.

But, I went to Lowes in the morning and nought big cement stones, came home, lugged them out of the wagon, and placed them where I had raked up pea gravel. I need them to make little spots for my two little chairs I had bought to sit by the garden. Unfortunately, my good buy chairs, had pointy feet,and if you sat in them, you went down through the pea gravel and into the dirt. Way down. Hence, the stones.

It worked. I covered the stones with pea gravel and placed the chairs on them and tested each one. Tick that box.

I bought two bags of black mulch that I wanted to spread around my 4 spires discount bushes that I had planted,but I didn’t have the energy and the sun was beating down and the humidity was oppressive.

Normally, I would push myself. But I couldn’t. I went into the house, took a shower and washed my hair and then did something that I don’t do … put some pajamas on, signed up for the PBS Passport and watched “The Great British Baking Show” for a couple of hours. I had no ppm and not only that, my body hurt.

I laughed when I thought, “Gardening is good for you.”

Uh-huh. Tell that to my back and bod.

In the afternoon, after watching John, a young British law student, win the contest, I went and sat on the screened porch, and looked at magazines.

I used to love magazine, but then my eyes went bad, so I had some years when I didn’t subscribe. I still don’t read that well off of paper, but I love to look at pictures, and will hone in on some articles or recipes.

“Southern Living” is one of my favorite magazines, as is “Southern Lady.”

I picked up the “Southern Living” and perused it. There is something fun about flipping the pages of a lovely magazine. I do anticipate finding something that I enjoy, on the next page.

That is when I came across som lovely pictures of gardens. I looked at the article. It was written by Francis Mayes, the author of “Under The Tuscan Sun.” Nick and I had seen her speak at an North Carolina event January, before last.

At first, I thought the article was about her. But Mayes turned out to be the author. The piece was about her home and the 30 acres she and her husband purchased in North Carolina.

That is when I noticed my skin turning green. It turned a deeper green as I continued to read.

Mayes’ house has beautiful gardens. Many were there when she bought the place. They were well taken care of, mature … just plain beautiful. I read how she had art shows at her place and had a nifty skeletal greenhouse structure where her artist friends hung their work. She mentioned the large number of people who would come and have drinks and look and buy art.

Forest green.

Her house had a wonderful look. It had been there a long, long time and had history, along with numerous outbuildings. One had been converted to a writing place and artist’s studio.

Double forest green.

Her husband gave her a chain saw for their anniversary.

Triple green.

And she had a bunch of workers to come in with big equipment to clean out and area that was towards the river at the back of their property.

I looked up. I tried to move my aching bones. Little twitchy impulses came to my legs, again. I think they are coming from a goofy nerve in my back. When I did get up, my hip caught. I walked like a question mark.

I saw a photo of Mayes, walking on a path by her glorious garden. Shedin’t look like Shrek, as I do. She didn’t have a bead of perspiration, much less. Sweat water-falling down her face.

I bet she didn’t stink … didn’t need a shower … and her body wasn’t revolting.

Gracious, I wasn’t. It would have been better if I hadn’t felt like I’d beaten hit by a rampaging flower cart.

But there I was, feeling puny, soaking in green envy.

Her writing had afforded her with a beautiful garden and a place I would love. By George, even a movie was made from her writing. People went on pilgrimages to Tuscany and women dreamed of a romantic life abroad. I know that when I was in Tuscany, in the town of Cortona, I thought of that book and movie and Mayes as I walked the cobbled streets.

For a moment, I felt a failure-ish feeling. I can do that to myself … especially if I am not feeling well.

The green color washed away as my thoughts changed. I made them change because I knew that kind of thinking was not in my best interest. Human? Yes. But by now, I should know better.

I immediately thought of Nick and my kids and grandkids and what Nick and I have created … given the world … four wonderful humans, who are giving, generous, kind and really do care about others.

They are my garden. They are the fruits of my labor, (literally).

Today, I go to the orthopedic doctor. I am sure he will look at me like I am an idiot as I tell him that I lifetime stones and dig and lift clay and big plants and bend over and weed and then sit slumped in a recliner.

Yep, some of this is self-inflicted.

So, around 1:30, I will wear anything but green, and go and complain to someone who is paid to listen and help me put things back into whack.

And then, when I get home, I will begin to write a book called, “Under The Compost Pile.”

It should be a best seller.

Susan

My lemon seed has sprouted!   My African violets are lovely and I am going to try to sprout an avocado seed and plant more lemon seeds.