I’m not much of a women’s mag reader. There’s too many of them and too little time for reading, which is a sad fact for most adults. But I do notice headlines while waiting in grocery store lines. The former newspaper editor in me can’t help but zero in on headlines. So I found it worth noting that three of them, Family Circle, Woman’s Day and Ladies Home Journal, currently contain articles on beating stress, as if the month of May is as charged with stress as January is charged with regret. (January magazines always boast tips on losing holiday poundage).
I actually can’t argue with the timing. Life is a bit stressful on the Edge at this time in my life. And stress, unlike a few too many inches in January, is a selfish little monster, a gobbler of hours and energy. It’s far more complicated than calorie-indulging. Deeper. Thicker. And I’m of the mind that you can’t whisk it away by reading a page of tips sandwiched between Recipes for The Finicky and Summer Haircuts You’ll Want To Keep All Year Long!
But certainly there is a place to start. There’s always a place where you start.
I read the articles.
There was cross-over to be sure. And some no-brainer, across-the-board tips like learn to say no, exercise, get enough sleep, meditate, eat healthy.
But in the end, past the tips I hadn’t thought of before, like stop comparing myself to other people, lose the fascination with perfection, be thankful for what I don’t have (there are hundreds of heartaches I do not own, hallelujah), we have to learn to live with it. One of my all time favorite movies is The Princess Bride. Among a boatload of great lines is this one uttered by Westley as the Man in Black when Inigo insists on knowing Westley’s identity. “Get used to disappointment,” the man in black says. Get used to it. Why? Because it’s the nature of the planet we live on and the people we share it with. And how do we get used to something? By familiarity, dangnabit. The more exposure we have to that which addles us, the more we become its observer and less its slave. When I become an observer, when I can maintain perspective, everything shifts. It doesn’t change. But it shifts.
Desserts become sweet again.
And there’s always June to look forward to . . .
My dear friend Mary tagged me this afternoon to play Eight Random Things. I was never very good at tag (worse at tether ball and dodgeball) but I shall give it my best. Here are eight random things about me. And if you read to the end you will see whom I have tagged!
First, these are the rules:
1. Each player starts with eight random facts/habits about themselves.
2. People who are tagged need to write their own blog about their eight things and post these rules.
3. At the end of your blog, you need to choose eight people to get tagged and list their names.
4. Don’t forget to leave them a comment telling them they’re tagged, and to read your blog.
EIGHT RANDOM THINGS ABOUT ME:
1. I have two crooked pinkies. They bend at the second knuckle at an artsy 24-degree angle towards the ring fingers. I used to pretend my pinkies were little girls, the ring fingers were the mommies, the middle fingers were the daddies, the pointers were the big sisters, and the thumbs were the pudgy brothers who insisted on standing two steps below the rest of the family. No joke.
2. I sang with my high school ensemble at Disneyland.
3. I don’t like mayo.
4. My sister, Lauren, (two years older than me) told me once that white butterflies suck your blood. I believed her. I still cringe when I see one.
5. I detest escalators. They scare me witless. I take the elevator or stationary stairs if given the choice. If I have no choice, I have to hesitate, count, and pray before committing to one.
6. I grew up on calamari, artichokes and avocados. My mom is a great cook.
7. I once bought a ticket to go to the top of the Eiffel Tower. When I got to that square thingy—the gift shop and observation deck that’s slightly above ground level — I chickened out. It’s my life dream to go back and take the top.
8. I’ve always wished I could play the violin.
Every year on Mother’s Day — for the last few years anyway — I’ve let my sons take me to an action flick. That’s right. Not a chick flick. An action flick. I’ve seen Van Helsing, X-Men 2 & 3, both Spiderman movies and probably a couple others on Mother Days gone by. My sons love Mother’s Day. They think I’m the best mother in the world.
I can live with that.
Well, this year, we had Mother’s Day today, because my youngest will be on a school trip on the real deal and he didn’t want to miss it. You can’t blame the guy. We saw Spiderman 3, on opening day no less. And I have to say it wasn’t a bad way to spend time with my beloved heirs. Yeah, the movie was a little cheesy in places — it has to be. You can’t expect a script that calls the arachnid hero “Spidey”on occasion to be all business. And it’s got to appeal to eight-year-olds — who are notably big fans of Kraft singles.
I laughed in places where I’m not sure I was supposed to laugh. Like when Peter Parker goes Goth. (I don’t think that’s a spoiler. If you’ve seen the previews you’ve seen Spiderman in black)And there were a couple lines and scenes that were Velveeta-ish. (But I loved the scene in the French restaurant. It was funny and poignant at the same time. Chick-flicky!)
But the thing is, the plot of this movie — when you strip away the special effects, the chase scenes, the thrills — is all about forgiveness. That was the movie’s blessed sweet side. More than once the movie-watchers (that would be us) were told that revenge is a poison that kills from the inside out. And that you always have the choice to do the right thing. Always.
What mother doesn’t want her sons to learn that?
Every now and then I pop over to Technorati to get a read on the pulse of my web presence. It’s a vanity thing. Like Googling my name. I tell myself I do this to see how my books are doing. But in truth I want to know if anyone really knows who I am. It can be a humbling experience. Or enlightening one. I don’t do it very often.
Anyway, there is a a quote from Matt Nolastname on the Technorati homepage that always makes me smile. It also kept me from creating my own blog for many, many moons. “71 million blogs . . . Some of them have to be good.” Perhaps you can see why I smile. And cringe. When I went live with Edgewise last week, the blogosphere went from 71,000,000 blogs to 71,000,001. There’s a touch of the absurdly funny there.
The world truly does not need another blog. This was my mantra all those months (okay, more like a couple years) while I read friends’ blogs and posted on friends’ blogs. The world does not need another new blog and I don’t need to have another child. What can I say that hasn’t been said before? Or will be said tomorrow?
Okay, stop right there. If I really believed that, I wouldn’t be writing books. Certainly not fiction. There are no new stories, only new ways of telling old tales. Every story has been told before. The remarkable task of the novelist is to discover new words to describe old plots. What can I say that hasn’t been said before is the wrong question to ask. The right question begins with the word how. How can I say what has already been said before? How can I reinvent Cinderella or Moby Dick or Tale of Two Cities? How can I tell a tale of redemption or quest or sacrifice using old words in new ways?
If there’s no way to to do this, then the world doesn’t need another new book, either. May it never be.
So. The truth is I finally realized I can live with knowing I am a just a voice among a million voices. How did I realize that? Because I am already doing it. With books.
And my other fear? That other thing that kept me from creating my own blog all those months? The fear that I would actually say something brilliant and no one would read it or, dare I say it, pay for it?
Let’s just say delusions of grandeur keep my world an interesting place and provide fodder for the muse. They remind me who I am. Eventually.
This is the beginning of a little experiment.
For months I have toyed with the idea of birthing my own blog and for months I have been hesitant to take on the little darling for surely she will need to be fed and watered and loved and cared for. That takes time. And skill. And an expense of creativity that I might need for projects that help feed and clothe the real people in my house.
But I am feeling a little daring today. Secretly so. No one really knows I am here. Not yet anyway. I am going to do my motherly best not to neglect this lovely little place. It will be a test of my resolve, most probably.
Let’s see how I do. . .