Sunday, May 23, 2010

Out Of The Box And Out On The Town

Me on the townHave you ever seen so much eyeliner on one person?  Go ahead and say it, I admit I went a little overboard on the “smoky eye” look.  But it was all done in an effort to get out of that “mommy box” and into a new way of having fun.

I have been going out with friends more now that my children are grown and basically on their own.  I have so much freedom now and I have no intention of sitting at home and waiting for someone to invite me to join them and to rescue me from boredom.  I’ve been there, done that.  I have to rescue myself or just put myself out there.  I am not a “bar” kind of girl and I can never see myself hanging out in a club but an occasional night with a group of friends in a club sounds like fun as long as it doesn’t get out of hand.  I’m a little old for that.

Through my dance classes, I have met some amazing women.  They do things.  There  is no competition.  There is a LOT of support.  We are very different people but we enjoy so many of the same things and we motivate each other.  They have motivated me to get the heck out and do stuff.  Stuff I would not normally do.  And I’m having so much fun.

On Friday night, our friend Kisa was performing as a part of her burlesque troupe Salome Cabaret.  She is one of the founding members and has been recently selected as a performer at The Burlesque Hall of Fame in Las Vegas, one of only 12 people in the country to be selected.  It’s kind of like the Miss America of burlesque from what I’ve been told.  Kisa and her troupe have been teaching classes and Friday night was the class graduation.  She invited us and we happily accepted, excited about this new experience.  I had been to one show before but the other girls had not ever attended a burlesque show.

We are girls who like to dress up.  I don’t actually own any “dress up” clothes.  I mostly buy clothes for work or play and since I have lost weight, I had nothing.  So Friday afternoon, I went trolling the mall for something sparkly but casual.  And I just happened to pass by a really cute pair of quasi-gladiator sandals with a great heel height that would work for a night out or for work.  With a sparkly casual shirt and those cute heels in my bag, I headed for home to get ready.  

Have you ever had one of those days when everything just worked?  I touched up my makeup . . . okay, the smoky eye thing was a little more than a touch up.  I threw on a dangly pair of earrings.  Since I have been growing out my hair, some days it works and some days it just hangs there.  I didn’t have a lot of time so I just plugged in the curling iron and hoped for the best.  I threw a couple of curls in the top layers, shook my hair forward and flipped it back.  Oh my goodness . . . I think I might have looked a little bit hot!!!

There is something about feeling good inside that allows you to put off a little bit of a glow.  I felt good and I think I was pretty much glowing when I went out the door.  And I felt that way all night.  It really was not an ego thing.  At all.  It was more of a confidence thing.  And it felt good.

The show was amazing – much better than the first show I had been to.  The crowd was great.  We had a great time together.  As we were sitting through intermission, one of my friends was asking about my son whose birthday party was the next night at a local club.  She asked how old my son was and I replied that he is 24.  She said “You are too hot to have a 24 year old” and I laughed.  The man that was sitting next to me said “I’m glad you said that ‘cause I was was going to say it”.  I said thank you and laughed again.  It was just a teensy bit creepy but it was nice to hear anyway.  I think it was the glow.

Today I am back to a normal amount of eyeliner and wearing my shorts, t-shirt and flip-flops.  There is something to be said for normal life too.
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Sunday, May 9, 2010

Happy Mother’s Day

family 1980
Whether you believe Mother’s Day is a commercial creation that originated with greeting card companies or that the day was created to genuinely honor motherhood, Mother’s Day is a special day.  Over the years, Mother’s Day has changed in many ways for me and none has ever been as different as it was today.  

When I was younger, I wanted nothing more than to make my mom happy on this special day.  She was my hero.  I wanted to draw her a picture or make her something special out of construction paper and crayons.  As I grew older and more self – centered, I never seemed to pay attention to what she might want but ended up buying her what I thought she needed or what a commercial showed me ALL mothers want.  I mean, if I had paid attention I would have realized that my mother never wore anything but Shalimar perfume but I got her a small bottle of whatever the latest cheap perfume was that was being advertised for Mother’s Day that year.

Later I became a mother and the day became about me.  Since we never lived close by, I always called Mom to wish her a great day but I was focused on me and my kids.  My kids picked me flowers, drew pictures, made me breakfast and made me feel so special that day.  I felt like I was their hero just as my mom was mine.

Today was different.  Mom has been gone for five years.  And for the first time ever, my kids are not at home on Mother’s Day.  My daughter is living in Atlanta and my son is working.  My daughter called me early today and my son and I spent a few hours together this morning before he left for work.   My siblings texted me to wish me Happy Mother’s Day as did many friends and even some of my kids’ friends.  I have had the day to myself which is fine but it is different.  I’m not sad or lonely.  Ok, maybe just a little, but it really made me think about this day and what it means now.

I hope my mom knew how much we all loved her.  I think she did.  I know how much my kids love me because they tell me and show me all the time.  What I thought about today was that there are so many mothers in my life that I can honor.  My mother-in-law and her sisters and sister - in - law have always made me feel a part of their family even long after my husband died.  My aunt has reminded me that she learned so much from my mother and she continues to keep me close.  I always thought she was the coolest mom and now her kids do too.  Most of my friends are mothers and when we talk about our kids, we all learn from each other and divulge stories we might never tell others.  My sisters and I discuss both our childhood as well as parenting and we share advice and remind each other what Mom would have done.  I read bloggers who are moms and they make me laugh and cry.  

So I realized today that Mother’s Day is not really a day about me or my mom.  It is about all the mothers in my life, the women who have influenced me in the past as well as those that touch me every day.  It’s about all mothers, and women in our lives, even if they are not mothers yet.  

Happy Mother’s Day.
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Sunday, May 2, 2010

Pay It Backwards

wkm wkd graphic3.tifA few years ago, there was a movement that began in drive-thru lanes.  I believe it actually started at Starbucks.  The idea was to pay for the order of the person in the car behind you.  Just to be nice.  Of course, the person in that car, because their order had been paid, then paid for the car behind them.  Servers working the window said they had seen it pass through 7 or 8 cars at a time.  It was inspiring.  And I vowed to do this myself.

I have long been fascinated by the Random Acts of Kindness movement.  I try to be a nice person, to help others.  I try to treat others as I would like to be treated.  I open doors for people and leave the change in the “take a penny, leave a penny” bowl, I tip well, I do things for friends and family, I give to charity.  But rarely do I do something so direct for someone for absolutely no reason.  Mostly because I struggle when people do something nice for me.

Last year, my daughter and I were eating at a Japanese hibachi style restaurant.  It was a slow Sunday evening and they were not busy.  There was a family at our table that appeared to be parents, their grown child and the grown child’s spouse.  They were apparently frequent diners as they spoke to all the servers and the manager came over an talked with them, using their first names.  They ordered several appetizers, sushi, and one of the most expensive dinner combinations that included a lobster tail.  My daughter and I were friendly but mostly we were involved in our own conversation.  When our dinners were prepared, the cook placed a lobster tail on a plate and placed it in front of my daughter and me, indicating that our dining neighbor had purchased it for us.  Surprised, we thanked him several times and enjoyed it.  Sort of.  As we left, we thanked him again.

Later in the car, we discussed the incident.  I admitted that I felt a little suspicious, a little guilty, a little offended even.   Suspicious – why would he do that?  What does he want?  Guilty – I should do something for him.  How do I repay this?  Offended – does he think I can’t afford lobster?  What if I am allergic to lobster?  Who does he think he is?  But in the end, I just said “thank you” because I didn’t really know what else to do.  My daughter said she felt all the same things.  We had a very long discussion about feelings and our tendency to over-think things.

Some time later I was sitting in the line at Chick-fil-A, thinking.   It went like this . . . I should pay for the man behind me.  I am lucky that I have a job and a home and the ability to pay for someone else’s dinner at a drive-thru.  Then I started to think way too much. . . That man behind me is in a huge truck.  It looks new.  What if he is offended?  What if he thinks I want something?  There are so many people that need help, why should I help a man in a giant, expensive truck at Chick-fil-A?  Stop thinking and just do it.  You are over-analyzing the situation and judging him.  The goal is to just be nice.  Maybe he is rich and grumpy and this act would cause him to be nice to some other poor person tomorrow.  

And by the time I got to the window to pay, I had talked myself out of it.  Then I spent the next few hours feeling stupid and a little guilty for turning a random act of kindness into something altogether stupid and even a little unkind.

I shared this story with my daughter and friend Robin.  A few days later, my daughter was in a drive-thru and decided to make up for my craziness.  She had a small order so she decided to pay for the person behind her.  She told the server at the window who thought she was just so sweet.  My daughter felt happy.  Ahhhhhh, this is the way it’s supposed to be.  Then the server told her the total for the car behind her; $12.56.  (I don’t really remember how much it was but it was like 4 times what her order was.)  She said she thought she was paying for one person and didn’t consider that there might be more people in the car.  Suddenly, she was a little ticked.  I think her exact words were “this idea sucks!”  When she shared this with Robin and me, we all laughed at our experiences and decided that we needed to find another way to be nice to people. 

I think Robin did it right though.  A few months ago, she was in line at a convenience store.  There was an older woman in line in front of her and it was taking a long time.  The woman was going through her wallet and pockets, trying to find every penny and she was still short of the total.  The clerk was waiting and the others in line were getting impatient.  Robin stepped forward and paid the difference, just a few dollars.  The woman thanked her with tears in her eyes.  Robin told her it was not problem.  The woman waited outside the store and when Robin came out out, thanked her again, asking what she could do to repay her.  Robin told her that she hoped the woman will get the opportunity to help someone else one day and that would be thanks enough.

Robin felt great, the woman was grateful.  Robin saw someone in need and she helped them.  She didn’t over think it or worry about the feelings of the person she helped.  She just did it because it was the right thing to do.  That is truly a random act of kindness.
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