Saturday, February 23, 2013


Did you ever have a week when something keeps popping up in your life over and over again? Well, this week that would be balloons and me.  Balloons have been calling my name, silently imploring my mind to pay attention to what my heart has been noticing.  It started at Red Robin. My daughter and I went there for lunch and there was a little boy, darting away from the grown up person whose hand he had been holding. They were starting to leave when I saw him eagerly dash over to a tangle of  primary colors and hanging down strings that made up the bunch near the cash register.  He plucked out a bright yellow balloon and clutched the string with small but determined fingers. “It’s windy out, you better hold it tight” warned Grandma.  Side note.  Yes, I am thinking it was Grandma.  You know how you make up quick stories about people you see out and about? Me too, I do that all the time. I had instantly decided this was Grandma with Grandson, out for a special lunch because it was a sparkling,  sunshiny winter’s day and who knows how many of those we are going to get during February bleakness.  Anyway, Grandson told Grandma that the balloon would be just fine, as he clutched the thin string.  “We will see what happens,” said Grandma gently, smiling at Grandson. That was it.  She did not tell him that it might blow away, she did not check to see if he was holding the string tightly enough, she just told him to see what happens.  My child development brain was delighted.  Grandson was going to be able to figure out on his own how much strength and strategizing it will take to keep possession of his bright yellow treasure on this sunny, but wind blowing day. Wise Grandma. Lucky Grandson. And yes, as they ventured into the parking lot the wind bellowed and beckoned and the balloon string lurched and pulled. Grandson quickly figured out how to hold on tightly enough to maneuver that bright, yellow balloon safely into Grandma’s car, and off they went!  So that was my first balloon lesson of the week.  Scientific principles about wind and resistance learned by small boy courtesy of Grandma letting him figure it out all by himself! 

Driving home from Red Robin, a vivid memory made its way to the forefront of my mind. I thought about my father, my children’s grandfather.  I adored my father.  My father adored my two children who in turn adored him back. When he died my children were little, but not too little to be very, very sad.  About a week later we were home and my children each had a balloon, I don’t remember why or how.  But I do remember my son Z requesting to go outside in the backyard. He wanted to send his balloon “Up to Grandpa.”  And so we did.  Z and my daughter M released their balloons into the puffy cloud sky.  We had not talked very much yet about where people go when they die. I was still too raw. But somehow, in the minds of my children, Grandpa was up in the clouds and he was to be the recipient of these two balloons, released with much love, some tears, and a firm belief that the journey of said balloons would culminate in making their way directly to Grandpa. And, somehow,  the healing process began . . .

A few days after our Red Robin lunch, my daughter had a brief stay in the hospital.  It was almost evening and she wanted an Italian Ice. While walking to the nurse’s station that had a cute little mini-fridge filled with juice and Italian Ices, and surprisingly, turkey sandwiches, I glanced inside one of the patient rooms.  It is hard not to do that, human nature I guess. There was an older woman alone in the room, lying in bed.  She appeared to be quite ill, and my mind started to make a story again.  She is sick, no one is with her, there is no family close by, this is very sad. But then I saw them. Two heart shaped balloons, tied to the foot of her bed, that said “I love you.” Quick story revision. She was not a lonely woman, facing her illness in solitude and isolation.  She was well loved. As I, in a relieved state, pondered this new development two adults and a child came down the hall and turned into her room. I heard the laughter. I imagined the hugs. The balloons had told the story much better than I.  And the child giggled. I peeked again.  And the balloons danced. I realized  how important it is to be open to the extraordinary within the ordinary. The balloons have much to share.  And I have much to learn . . 

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The Power of the Shower

I get such grand ideas in the shower! It really is my best time of day. Though those same ideas may not seem as innovative and illuminating at 4:00 in the afternoon, when I am formulating them at 7:00 am in between the drops of deliciously hot water splashing on my back, they seem positively world changing.

I don’t know why anyone hasn’t invented a write on/wipe off board that can be mounted in the shower to jot down wonderful early morning thoughts. All I need is a simple white board, (well maybe one with cool and colorful designs would be nice, I love cool, colorful designs!) and a special, super nifty waterproof marker with ink that somehow could still be easily wiped off the board. That’s not too much to ask, is it? Right now, when these sometimes downright amazing thoughts come to me, I have to repeat them over and over like a mantra until I exit the shower and then race, slip sliding all the way to the ledge of the bathtub where I keep a pad of paper and a pen (and yes, I know that is weird but it is what I do!) to write those golden thoughts down. By that time the water has dripped all over the paper and an hour later I have very little legible evidence of what I may have been thinking, let alone tried to write.

And though I enjoy multi-tasking as well as anyone, it is a bit challenging to keep my shower routine in my head, (shampoo, conditioner, detangler, etc., ) while doing my chanting at the same time. There are times when by the time I leave the shower, my thoughts and ideas are gone, usually never to be remembered again. Of course, with very careful chanting there are times that I have recalled what I wanted to write down, but because of careful chanting, forgot the conditioner and detangled twice instead. Agh! 

So, anyway, there was one idea that amazingly stayed with me all the way until I dried off and was able to write it down without one smear on the paper by occasional, errant water droplets. I remembered reading on Facebook that Melisa Wells was enthusiastically encouraging people to submit essays for a show called Listen To Your Mother 2013. And the subject matter was, of course, motherhood. I am the proud mother of two young adults, M and Z. And as amazing as they are, for some odd reason, my two very spectacular young adults were not what I felt inspired to write about. I knew I had another story to tell. Deep breath. It was not a story that I had ever written about before. Another deep breath. Did I have the courage to send in my essay? Slight hyperventilating. Okay, I told myself. I am just going to stop thinking about it and do it! Time to get out of the bathroom and onto the computer. And I did. I wrote my essay and quickly, before I changed my mind, emailed it to Melisa Wells and Tracey Becker. Once I pushed “send”, that pesky hyperventilating started again. Breathe in, breathe out. I probably won’t get an audition anyway. Breathe in, breathe out. 

Fast forward to a week later. I got an audition!! I can’t believe it!! I really can’t believe it!! Oh my, I have to go through with this now. Do I? Yep, I have to, I can’t back down now. Practice, practice, practice, practice. Loving advice from M, Z, and my incredibly patient and supportive husband, G. Work their suggestions into my essay. Practice, practice, practice, practice. It’s here. The day of the audition. What do I wear? Do I have gas in the car? Can I get down any breakfast? Something comfortable but nice, yes, and NO! The audition was scary. Just reading my words out loud to two very nice people sitting behind the table who warmly welcomed me into the audition room was very scary. Somehow I did it. In a brain foggy haze I heard the words, “Thank you, we will let you know one way or another in about a week.” Stumble out and drive home without really remembering how I actually got home. This was not my typical crazy shower idea. This was real. And I was not sure why in the world I had done this. 

Fast forward again, one week later. First I saw a FB post in which Tracey Becker so eloquently and kindly explained that there was so much talent out there, they wished they could put on two shows, but of course they couldn’t. So many excellent entries ended up in their “No Folder,” it was breaking their hearts. Any tiny bit of hope I had at that point was gone. I started my justification thinking, telling myself that the important thing was that I tried. Just like I used to tell my children when they were little. Just like I sometimes still tell them even though they are not little anymore. And I had my essay. Nothing could take away the words that were finally on paper now. Ok, I am alright with whatever happens. 

Fast forward a few more agonizing days. And then it came! The email that started with “Congratulations!” I could not believe it!! I was going to be in the cast of the 2013 Listen to Your Mother show! Unbelievable!! And a few hours later the cast list came out in print. My name was really there. Minor hyperventilating again, which I am somewhat feeling again as I write this blog. Oh yes, the blog. I quickly realized that everyone on the list wrote blogs except for me. Which was fine. Really okay. Even though their names were all in red, linked to their blogs which made for fascinating reading, and my mine was the lone name in black. And then I started to think. If I can get a part in the show, maybe I can blog, too?? Cue Eleanor Roosevelt’s quote, 

                                        “Do one thing every day that scares you.” 

Ok, I’ve definitely got that one covered this week. Which brings me to today. I am, with my very first blog ever, going to encourage anyone who may be reading this to come to Listen To Your Mother 2013 on May 5th at the beautiful, historic Athenaeum Theater in Chicago on May 5th at 2:00 pm. Click here for tickets.

 And if you happen to find a really cool and colorful shower write on/wipe off board, let me know! I happen to strongly believe in the Power of the Shower.