Inspiration where are you?

I often think of writing. I day dream of how therapeutic it is to run my fingers over the keys and have something pour on the screen that is not foreign to my soul. It is not work.  It is not a copy of someone or something else. The words belong to me and me alone. It is my perception of art and mine alone. It is snarky comments and love letters and tales of comic mischief. It is a work of love and passion and inspiration.

So why is it so very hard to connect to the inspiration? My life is certainly not dull. I am part of my very own love story, my offspring challenge my every breath and our travels are nothing if not worthy of a wordy tribute. Yet my collection sits stagnant.

I may seek the answer for as long as the heart seeks the definition of perfection. That ever evasive, constantly changing kaleidoscope of beauty and mercy.

I crave inspiration.

I want to hear the click clack of the keys and see the stark white screen disappear.

So where is it? Where is my muse? Why can’t I just find the magic that makes me move to the nearest electronic and tell my tales? If you’ve found the secret I beg you to share.

I promise not to tell.

Advertisements

The Family Tree of Life … wait, what?

The Family Tree or The Tree of Life … whatever you call it the symbol is deeply embedded in religious and spiritual beliefs. You will find it popular for genealogy and history buffs, elementary school home projects and with artists of all kinds.

The definition is as wildly varied as is each tree. Rarely depicted in exact form or feature. A basic Google search brought me the following definition:

“In this way, the tree of life is a symbol of a fresh start on life, positive energy, good health and a bright future. As a symbol of immortality. A tree grows old, yet it bears seeds that contain its very essence and in this way, the tree becomes immortal. As a symbol of growth and strength.” unknown

I’m sure you have heard the joke about the family tree being full of nuts. It’s generally the absolute truth and is especially for my own. A few weeks before my epic trip up north my mom sent me photo which would make a permanent mark on us all, literally.

My phone was blinking with a message waiting as it often does, only this time it was my mother. Some people might roll their eyes or sigh seeing another text from mom but not me. I love them. I guess after years of not speaking little blinking lights seem to have the positive power to keep all the old darkness away.

This time she sent a photo.

She had found a piece of jewelry online, or I think that was what it was. I have since lost the texts, little did I know such a simple thing would turn into a worthy story. I don’t remember the words but I complimented the piece. I had just purchased something similar while on vacation. I had hung it in my kitchen window days before our conversation. An interesting coincidence. The symbol she shared was a Triple Tree of Life design.

Whether it was she or I who decided it would look amazing as a tattoo I do not recall. I will give her credit as she is the visionary among us.

She decided we should all get this tattoo of 3 trees and set about to sketch it. She proclaimed her tree to be the middle and my sister and I would be to the left and to the right. Her image came to live in a circle and she began to add leaves separating each mature trunk and expansive branches. She asked what leaf shape I preferred and I chose the hearts. My sister would be assigned the scroll shape leaves.

And so it was shared and agreed, we would get these trees symbolically tattooed to our individual bodies to represent the true roots and togetherness despite growing into separate entities.

That would be that except for the fact that now we needed an artist willing to do the same design on separate occasions and for a reasonable price. Oh, and a tiny detail, I happen to live in another state, they each in separate cities. I was going to be in town for a short window so my appointment had to be scheduled in advance.

Like a true champ mom had her appointment first. I wish I could have been there but alas the miles add up and I wouldn’t be there for weeks.

Second my sister got hers, a little larger than ours, much as she does everything. She laughs louder, is a little taller, and has bigger chickens. (It’s not a competition, sis.)

When it was finally my turn I hobbled in, limping on a broken foot with the fam. Mom, Dad and my sweetheart in tow. For the record I didn’t know the foot was broken at the time, not that it would have slowed me down any more than it did. I didn’t need the entire clan for support either but I won’t lie … I did enjoy the entourage.

Mom introduced me to the artist as the daughter from out-of-state and reminded him she promised to bring me in. Now here I was. She was so excited, proud even to be presenting her family to the man with the needle gun.

It’s a special gift she has, to walk into an establishment and become the official honorary host. She takes charge in the mom-est way ever and she does it so well. She shows us off and takes ownership even though we are moms ourselves and tower over her in height.

It might also be a red-head thing. It’s sort of endearing.

I was invited into the artists chair and I happily plopped down, arm up on the rest and head back taking it all in. There was a glass case to the left against the wall with piercing jewelry in it. On top of the case was an entire brown bear skin with yellowed teeth and claws. The bear skin seemed shockingly out-of-place yet so at home there perched menacingly about 8 feet in the air. I didn’t ask about the bear but may next time.

My eyes shifted to a back room which I suspect was the piercing room. I suggested mom get her nose pierced. She didn’t miss a beat and declined. It was hard to rattle her.

We continued to chit-chat with the artist about my current ink, where I got it and that it was unique. My mom, from her seat in the corner, pipes up with a question. Asks what the oldest person the artist had ever tattooed.

Good question.

Guy covered in ink and wearing purple gloves continues to gently press into the skin on my arm and pauses before he shares his reply.

He begins the story with how he had to help an elderly lady into the tattoo chair. A frail, tiny old woman. He might have said she had an oxygen tank or a walker or something, painted the picture of tiny sweet grey hair granny type. He got her into the chair and she advised she wanted a touch up tattoo. Not kidding. She wanted to touch up the roses on her earlobe. He described being scared to break her, being so gentle as to not hurt her.

She was a champ.

I can only hope to be that bad-ass someday.

Mom was intrigued. She asks if it is harder to tattoo old people skin (yep, said that) and she mentions something about being worried she might be too old for tattoos. It is possible I guess she was fishing for a compliment. I don’t know. Forgive me, Ma, if the words are wrong there but this story is as I recall it. Also it happened.

She got good news however you look at it, she wasn’t the oldest he had ever tattooed (he laughed at her for that) and she was in the fairly young range of people who come in for ink. I think she blushed but it was hard to tell from the reflection in the glass case. I was still concentrating on the insanely large teeth on that bear skin.

He went on to say with plenty of moisture skin will be good for tattooing for a long time to come. She is probably sitting somewhere with some Skin So Soft right now. I know I have upped my moisture game. Old lady skin be damned.

It was over quickly and I marveled at how beautiful my new tattoo was. We paid and tipped well and made our way back for the party that afternoon.

We ate and drank and took pictures and ate some more. We showed off our new ink in singles and in triple to anyone willing to smile and nod.

Our tattoos are a symbol of who we are. Joined at the root but each branched to our own. My mother with her leaves, which symbolize for me life and change. My sisters scrolls symbolizing what I see in her as great wisdom, boundless intelligence and strength. Lastly my hearts, which for me represent love unconditional with a notation on some limbs a barren place for broken hearts for which I am grateful to never forget.

*Thank you to my mother for designing such a beautiful tribute to family, forgiveness and bond. Also for feeding us constantly when we visit. Those baked beans though … yum.

*Thank you to my dad who has kept us safe since we were wee girls. That’s what dads do. They also make safety videos so you don’t hurt yourself playing in the yard.

*Thank you to my sister for being ever-present in my life even when we don’t speak. Also for the moonshine that tasted like paint thinner. You’re the best sister I’ve ever had.

Never trust a heated seat

Decided to take the wife’s car to work today. Not because the cute little convertible would be top down, tunes up.

No.

It was chilly today and I wasn’t feeling the cruisin’ in the little red soft top thing. I drove it because I failed, yet again, to put gas in my fuel guzzling V8 SUV engine. It was literally on E when I went to leave.

I had no choice really but to take her car. Call it lazy if you will but I didn’t have time to go get gas and get to work on time.

Fast forward to thr end of the day. 10 hours later. It’s dark and it’s cold and I just needed to make it 40 minutes to home.

Just 20 minutes on the freeway and 20 on back roads then I’d bein my driveway.

So I get in, I figure out where the switches and buttons are in the dark and I roll out. I remebered there are heated seats … yeah … bun warmers.

Sounded like a solid plan.

I reached into the tiny space along side the seat and pushed the button to begin the warm up count down. “Soon” … I thought to myself “I shall be toasty and warm and speeding home.”

It was a good plan. There’s just one little thing.

Her car shakes a little at high speeds. Like something might fall off it and your life could be in immediate danger. Like an explosion of parts at 75 mph and nowhere to escape. Like a go cart you built with your friends with duct tape and youthful dreams.

The heat works though. I figured it out the hard way.

While I was both hands gripping the wheel for dear life the seat was heating rapidly. To say my rear and thighs were warm would be an understatement. It was getting hot up in there. Like HOT. I was starting to worry my leggings would catch fire.

“How hot does this thing get? Wtf!”

Christmas song on the radio, something about roasting chestnuts on an open fire. I start to worry about my lady bits. I wonder if I will still need to wax if my pubic hair melts off. I’m serious. It was really, really burning down there.

All the while I can’t really lift my thighs from the flaming bucket of hot coal because that would mean taking my foot off the gas. Something I dare not do for fear the car will just fall apart right there in the road. I thought about reaching one hand down to find the itty button to turn off the hell fire but I couldn’t take my hands off the wheel. I didn’t want to release the death grip. What if the steering wheel rattled off? It could happen.

So there I was. Sweating it out to some Country Christmas on the radio, hoping that the strange smell was from the Taco Bell I left in the car at lunch and not the fat melting off my thighs. Which, let’s be real probably smells the same. I don’t have an ass and thunder thighs like this from filling up on carrot sticks. If I am ever on an island alone with a group of people they should eat me first. If you are what you eat I’m prob the first ever meat steak that tastes like freaking cheese fries .

So I finally did it. I made it to the off ramp. At the red light I found the button and turned off the seat heat. I lifted each leg and butt cheek to release the steam and wiped the sweat from my forehead. I cracked the window to let out the stench of 5 hour old taco wrappers and I made the final portion of the journey home.

Never have I ever been so glad to get out of a car. Or have a chilly butt.

Making my own sugar scrub and imagining my death scene

We went to the beach about 2 weeks ago and for the last few days my gorgeous tan has started to peel like glue on a preschoolers fingers.

As I reached for more lotion I wondered how hard it would be to make a scrub.

I’m a tall girl and not tiny. I’ve got curves in the right places (plus some, whatever). The point is you won’t see me buying enough fancy scrub for my whole body. They don’t sell tubs of the stuff big enough anyway.

I did a little search and *voila* a recipe with simple enough ingredients I could probably whip it up and scrub up these flaky legs.

It couldn’t hurt. I mean what’s the worst that could happen?

I grabbed the big container of coconut oil and a spoon. As soon as the spoon touched the smooth white surface it stopped. The stuff is solid. So I think to myself I will microwave it. Pop it in and look for the sugar.

By the time I realized the container was still in the microwave I had found a bowl, measured sugar, spilled some, wiped it up and wondered to myself where the coconut oil went. Ooops.

I get it out, it’s no longer solid but a clearing mess with white globby things of unmelted goop floating around. I scoop the goop chunks and start stirring it in the sugar.

It smells fainternet-meme-of-cat-at-spa-with-cucumbers-on-eyes-and-wearing-a-bath-robefabulous. I start feeling crafty and wonder if I could be famous for sugar scrubs one day. It could happen.

I don’t remember what the recipe called for but I thought it was about half and half so I kept eyeballing sugar and oil scoops until I thought it was just right. I put half into a cute little jar and the other half in an empty plastic container to take to the bathroom with me. One can never be too thrifty.

Plus we only had one tiny jar.

I was feeling extra fancy so I lit the beach scented candle and started the bath.

I perched on the toilet and grabbed a little scrub and started to rub it on my legs. It wasn’t quite liquid, not quite solid, but definitely messy. Some dropped on the floor to make little sugar splats and the rest coated my shins like a sour gummy candy.

I thought it best to probably get over the tub so not to make a mess. I tried to balance with no such luck. My one foot landed into the super scalding running water. In my genius I jump in with the second foot because balancing wasn’t working out.

* pro-tip: your oiled up hands will not hold you up on linoleum. 

I hurry to the front of the tub and turn the water to cold, at this point getting out of the tub seems more dangerous than boiling to death in it.

Remember those dropped sugar globs? Death waiting. I’m not going out there yet.

I get the water just right and settle in. I smoothed the scrub all over my legs and it feels so heavenly I think I should do as much of me as possible.

There is now coconut oil in my eyeball. How does this even happen?

The bathroom is really starting to get a tropical feel. I had closed the door but not turned on the fan so it was getting really steamy. Really stuffy.

Suffocating really.

My entire body is covered in oil and my pores can’t breathe. My lungs are filling with what Yankee Candles considers the beach. This is starting to seem less and less fancy. This might have been a bad idea.

I rinse off. Actually  considering how well water rinses oil I just moved water around but we’ll say I rinsed. I drained the tub and stepped carefully onto a towel in the floor.

Then it hits me.

That light headed, I don’t think I can make it to the bathroom door, dizzy feeling. The one your mother warned you about; the sitting in a hot tub for too long kinda feeling. The one where things get fuzzy and your legs feel weak.

I consider what my dead body will look like when my wife finds me. I’ll be collapsed in a bath towel – right there in the hallway. This will not due.

I wonder if she does find me dead if she will notice my ridiculously moisturized skin.

I have my doubts.

She will probably just wonder where all the sugar went.

Bravely I made it to the bedroom and collapsed into a heap on our bed. I let my body temperature cool while searched for more scrub recipes.

Next time? Adventures in coffee grounds and safflower oil.

I just might make it big one day.

I can’t wait.

Summer sniffles and the zombie apocalypse. That escalated quickly.

If you have ever watched the History Channel or stayed awake long enough in History class you have heard about the worst plagues ever to be recorded.

The Black Death 1340 – 1771

Smallpox  430 BC ‘ish- 1979

Influenza Pandemic / Spanish Flu 1918-1919

The Common Cold Summer Edition 2016

That’s right. I just put a summer cold in with the worst things ever to happen to humans.

Am  I stretching? Maybe.

Am I being a little insensitive? Probably.

It could be the cold meds or it could be that I don’t really care about being politically correct among friends. We are friends after all aren’t we?

It feels a lot like something terrible is happening here, my throat is on fire and my nose is producing an awful lot of mucus. 

I have tissues stuck in my nostrils and I feel like I may need another box of Kleenex soon.

 I can’t seem to swallow and my head feels like it is in a vice.

I have a sneaky little cough that creeps up only when I need to talk.

 

I spared you the picture of the tissue in my nose. You’re welcome.

 

Which is what I do. I talk. All the time.

Right now when I speak it sounds like a small animals plea for help.Kinda squeaking, sorta whispered and definitely muffled.

It feels like giving a speech under water. 

Distorted face and all. 

Just blubbering and desperate attempts at cohesive words. A comical attempt to breathe and speak without the aid of my nose. 

All this open mouth gasping makes delivering oxygen to the lungs I have not yet coughed up very, very difficult.

Then there are the coworkers who don’t dare to cross my doorway. Like there is an unseen germ barrier they are safe from. If they hover just a couple of inches from the safety of the hallway they might not need to be decontaminated.

This can both good and bad.

Sure there are some co-workers I don’t really mind to not see for days but we do have to accomplish things here in the office. Put on your hospital mask and let’s get this meeting over with. We have flow charts and spreadsheets to look at. Let me just wipe off that drool.

I think I may actually have heard the sound of an aerosol can behind me when I left the common room. 

The faint smell of Lysol wafting behind me.

The good news is I am almost oblivious to the uncharacteristic avoidance of my work team as I am the general disgust on friends faces as I shove another tissue into my nostril.

My trashcan is overflowing with snotty little ghosts and the bags under my eyes make me look like a zombie.

Sounding more and more like a frightening history lesson in human suffering isn’t it?

I am barely awake having taken so much OTC cold remedy and barely getting any sleep. 

Sleep is such a generous word. 

I really mean something more like trying to rest in an upright position while ranging from ice-cold shivers to blanket throwing sweats.

 All the while sniffling and coughing and generally annoying my wife all night. She loves it when I wake her all night fighting to fluff the pillows and adjust myself for optimum mucus flow.

I could easily snag the lead role in a horror movie featuring the undead.

While I wait patiently for my chance to be a zombie movie star I will be over here all alone in my office. Half asleep and surrounded by a fog of disinfectant. 

 Whimpering, sniffling and coughing the song of my people. 

The song of the common cold. 

The song of the flu-pocalypse.

 

 

 

 

The day they ate all my cocoa almonds and the world almost ended

It may seem a little dramatic for a blog title … “The day they ate all my cocoa almonds and the world almost ended”  but it’s the truth.

I was having a bad day at work. I had skipped lunch because I knew we would be celebrating one of our favorite friends birthdays that evening.

My wife on the other hand had the day to herself and decide to get her snack on.

She found a hidden bag of cocoa almonds tucked away in the pantry. A delicious dark chocolate snack I was saving for a day of all days. The kind where you want to eat something deliriously chocolaty for dinner and wash it down with a chilled bottle of wine.

I wasn’t even so upset about it when she text me. She was giddy. Like she found a pot of chocolate wrapped gold coins at the end of a Skittles rainbow.

I didn’t pout when she told me she opened the bag and sampled the goodness inside.

It was alright. Really.

I was focused on making it the rest of my work day and getting to the restaurant on time. I knew what I was having when we got there too; a buffalo fried chicken salad with ranch, a couple beers and a big ole piece of that red velvet cake we bought the birthday girl.

To say I was hangry by the time we got to our favorite lakeside patio and were seated would be pretty accurate. I was both agitated by work events and starving from a lack of lunch break.

I needed sustenance … pronto.

We were seated and approached by non other than the server from our last visit. The one we didn’t like. The one who was slow to fill our drinks or even check on us last time. I was hopeful that this visit wouldn’t be a repeat.

I was so naive.

We did get our appetizer, and our first beer. He did take the cake to the cooler for us and promised to bring it out when we finished our meals. That was about the extent of my hopefulness.

Our friends orders came out wrong and missing side items. Our food never came at all. He never came back to check if everything was alright. I was getting more and more anxious and well … pissed off. I watched other tables get their orders. I watched the sun slowly setting on the horizon. I watched a small child nearly fall into the lake and  most importantly I watched my glass empty.

I was getting more and more irate. Have you ever witnessed a professional in the business of customer service be under served? It isn’t pretty. I said bad words. I shot a glare across the breezeway that made the server want to jump right past that unattended kid and into the lake.

Our friend flagged him down and forced him to confront our table. He nodded that he understood our complaints and ran off. A manager quickly came back to smooth things over. She made it all well, apologized for ruining our evening and summoned the remainder of our order.

We finished our meal and a second round before I requested the special item we brought in with us be delivered. The manager looked at me quizzically, she had no idea what I was talking about. Or she did and realized that this meant not only was dinner a disaster but it was a special occasion.

In the end everyone was fed, we shared cake with other tables and the helpful manager. Our bill was comped and we were given coupons to come back, all totally unnecessary as we are regulars and would have come back anyway. It was a nice touch though and I appreciated the efforts.

The end of the night came and I strolled into the house, put down my bag and went to turn out every light in the house so that we could go to bed.

I walked into the kitchen and there it was … my bag of almonds. Or should I say the bag that held my almonds when I left that morning.

It was like the final smack in the face.

One tiny chuck left in the bottom of the bag. The kids had polished off the sweet open bag of goodness like it wouldn’t be noticed.

I took a deep breath. Then another. I turned off the lights and took a shower. I climbed into bed unable to turn to the wife. I just couldn’t make her understand why I was so damn mad. My work, my birthday dinner surprise, now my almonds. My cocoa almonds!

When I was a child I was told once the world wouldn’t end if I had a bad day.

Yesterday it almost did.

 

Real marriage advice – life, love and not speaking to each other

It has taken me awhile but I think I have learned a little about relationships, marriages in particular. It can be such a beautiful thing, hand in hand with the intention of growing old together, raising your children and retiring to rocking chairs on the front porch. Then there are days where you can barely stand the sound your phone makes when they send you yet another text message, to which you will also be ignoring.

I have put together 7 age old ridiculous tips and some alternative real life advice from an actual married person.  Actual advice for us long term ball and chain type couples; the gay, the straight, the somewhere in between  … because we all at some point need to step back and just laugh at ourselves.

Never go to bed angry.  Seriously? Who is this helping if you stay up way past your working adult bedtime?

SHUT THE HELL UP AND GO TO BED. Your co-workers will thank me for this tip in the morning. You can hash out whose turn it is to clean the bathroom another time.

Always compliment your lover. I only agree with half of this. Do not throw around over used, thoughtless words you think she wants to hear.  She doesn’t. She will stop buying into your lip service pretty quick. That is no good for her self esteem. All you are doing is encouraging your partner to not believe anything you say. Ever.

Always be sincere. If she is looking hella hot in that dress, by all means tell her so.

**I use the pronoun “she” here but this applies to everyone. Keeping in mind this is  written by a woman who is married to a woman … I use the feminine for everything. This advice could easily be just as good for that gorgeous hunk of a man in your life.

Be reasonable in your expectations. I don’t even know what this means. What exactly is a reasonable expectation? This varies wildly. If you were raised outside of the jungle you know how to behave in society and with other people. Don’t stress about what you are expected to do as long as you aren’t being an asshole.

Real advice: No really. Just don’t be an asshole. The only expectation should be that you are kind to one another and expect that no day is ever the exact same as the one before. Roll with it together.

Trust each other. This is a hard one for me personally. Do I trust she won’t leave one day with our dogs in the passenger seat and a trail of dust behind her? Sure. Do I trust she won’t drink the last of the wine or eat all the fancy ice cream? No.

Real advice: Don’t cheat on her or eat all her ice cream. Done.

Figure out your finances before you tie the knot. Uhh, we have been married awhile and we still havn’t figured this out.

Real advice: You are on your own here. I have no advice. We make the money, we spend the money.

Be affectionate as much as possible. For the sake of everyone around you, please, we beg of you do not do this. It is rude and we will tell you to get a damn room.

Real advice: In the confines of your home or around a private corner in public places by all means grab a quick feel or smooch like teenagers. All is well and good until you are holding up the line at Target looking deeply into each others eyes.

Handle your disagreements in a healthy way. We all know that couple that breaks up and makes up all the freakin’ time. Stop it. Don’t break dishes, don’t drive off squealing tires, don’t call names and never, ever tell them you don’t love them. There is no glue to mend that kind of thing and spray paint and ribbons are not a fancy fix all. No matter what you read on Pinterest.

Real advice: Be honest, take time if you need it before you respond, use your best inside voice. We learned about not throwing tantrums and using inside voices in preschool yet sometimes we forget as grown adults.

The very best advice I have ever been given was to learn from successful couples who have amazing, healthy, happy marriages. Learn from those who know they are not perfect but they keep working on it anyway, those people are the successful ones.

Most of all be willing to laugh at yourself. It’s a lot better than being laughed at.

Leave me your best marriage advice in the comments below, I would love to hear your best “real” advice!

 wpid-wp-1432838209051.jpeg