Does This Fit Here?

My grandmother did crossword puzzles. So did my dad, in pen. My one brother would photocopy both the morning and afternoon newspaper puzzles and we would sit around the dining room table doing them, almost as if it was a race to the finish. Another brother used to pore over jigsaw puzzles. Still a third brother liked the logic puzzles that came in the Dell Puzzle books. Mom likes Sudoku. I was fascinated by the Rubik’s Cube. I like them all. In fact, I like word games, puzzles and just about anything that challenges my mind, that is, except for the puzzle that is my mind, which is the greatest challenge of all.

Even the artistic expression I’ve settled into has been somewhat fractured. I choose to blog about anything and everything that pops into my head. There’s no stream of consciousness and it would be impossible to put the individual posts into any semblance of order that would make any sense. I dabble in mosaics: cracking up pieces of tile and glass, and attempting to create a masterpiece of recognizable images. Most of the rest of what I do is graphic art, at best. Even when I sing, I do parodies of some of my favorite songs, never singing them the way they were written, but always in an attempt to make someone feel touched, loved or when it’s really good, embarrassed.

It should be no surprise, then, that I am, in middle age, attempting to piece together the splintered elements of the puzzle that has been my life. Now, I suppose, is the time when most women go through this: when their kids have grown and gone, when they’ve settled into a new normal with regard to their body, their health, and their sex life; when they have a whole lot less time in front of them than they do behind them. It isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it isn’t an easy thing either.

Having discovered much about myself through honest introspection, and having overcome some of my demons (we all have them); I have survived the hurricanes, tornadoes and earthquakes of life. And now, when things have finally settled down, it’s the aftershocks that have to be put into place… like the last pieces of the jigsaw puzzle, or that one last word you can’t get, even with the crossword dictionary or the internet.

What I have learned is that when you try too hard to seek happiness, you are often disappointed. When you attempt to please others to validate yourself, you do yourself a great disservice. I think the best way to find that happiness, to validate yourself and feel real and complete peace of mind is to live your life authentically. Listen to and follow your heart and the pieces of your own puzzle will fall in to place naturally.

Lobster in the Sky

Day dreaming, for me, has become my great escape.  There was a time in my life when other things were my way of gaining attention, avoiding unpleasant situations or simply numbing myself to the harshness of the world.  Today, I can happily say that my path is well defined and much, much safer.

Most little girls dream of being movie stars or brides.  I didn’t have that luxury.  I was a kid who was self-absorbed and fearful, self-doubting and uneasy, insecure and apprehensive.  I tried too hard to fit in, and it never seemed to work.  The only place I was comfortable was on the stage in a play, and I was good, but then, I was acting as if I was somebody else.  Singing into a brush with me as the only audience…

There were very few people who understood and accepted all of this in me.  My parents had to.  It was a time when emotional and mental health in children was not on the front pages.  They didn’t recognize it and they didn’t know to help.  If they did know, they didn’t know how.  Making angels in the snow, but knowing they would melt away…

As a young adult, when my theater days were behind me, I took to drinking.  A lot…  Not a good solution.  There were very few dreams then.  Mostly nightmares…

I stumbled through a few years of this, maintaining a job, a marriage and parenting.  Somehow I emerged unscathed legally, financially, professionally and my marriage intact.  I had a guardian angel that interrupted my path.  This was no snow angel.  It was someone who reminded me that it was okay to dream again. It was then that the artist in me began to unfold.  I started work in mosaics, and the pieces began to come together…

The daydreams today are no longer filled with angst and fear.  Worry doesn’t take me to dark places.  In fact, since I live in Florida, there is no opportunity to make those snow angels. I write, I sing, I play musical instruments, I read, and I cook. I also have a new pastime. My nephew used to do this with my mother.  I’ve taken to lying in the grass and being at one with nature.  Staring at the sky, I try to see what the clouds look like.  Yesterday, I saw a lobster in the sky.

My Book is a Short Story

I don’t know what happened to chapter one and chapter two.  All I know is that I had a taste of reflection on chapter one when I attended my summer camp reunion last month.  Camp song lyrics came flooding back to my memory and rolled off my tongue as if it was just last summer that I was swimming, playing volleyball, sailing, skiing, performing in a play, competing in color war, being homesick, and then crying because I didn’t want to go home.  I also had the opportunity to reflect back on who I was then, and see who I am now, understanding that life changes you; sometimes for the good, and sometimes it’s not so good.  Thankfully, most of it has been great, and that you can’t go back and rewrite once it’s been published.

Chapter two went just as fast.  My children are no longer children.  They are both young adults making their way in a challenging world.  Hopefully, we gave them a strong enough set of morals and values, sense of right and wrong, feeling of confidence, affinity for family and respect for mankind.  They both live far enough away from us now that I have to depend on that.  I long for the days when I could toss a ball with my son in the front yard, or help my daughter with cutting out flowers from magazines, sitting cross-legged on the floor in her room.  And now, every time I see a family with small children, I say to the young parents, “Don’t blink.”

People always told me Chapter Three would be my time… or our time.  We haven’t quite figured it out yet.  While we have had the blessing of falling in love all over again, we don’t have the energy or the interest to pursue the life we had before children.  We’re much older, and it takes some getting used to.  We’re still working, and certainly not financially independent, so all of our dreams have to wait a little longer, so I imagine you could say Chapter Three is really just a prologue to Chapter Four.  We do laugh a lot.

I am not permitted to discuss what I want to happen in Chapter Four.  I made a promise and I intend to keep it.  The one thing I have learned is that there are no guarantees.  I stay appreciative of every subplot and every page of my story, hoping that once in a while it’s a real page-turner, but that most of the time, its slow and steady, and ultimately, my book will be considered a short story classic.