Now, Do It Now

There are many clichés to cover the idea of’ reading between the lines, of mindfulness  in awareness, of reaching out before a need is voiced.  This is a good day for that.

We all know people who struggle, short-term or in a sort of perpetual depressive state.  Some struggle with loud bumps and moans letting the world know that this is a bummer.  Some struggle with times of being overwhelmed, drowning in details and no life-preserver in sight.   Others struggle with a quiet, “Fine–I am fine” when we know fine does not cover the pain.

So in case anyone is listening, this is Now, Do It Now Day, a day to put our personal concerns under the stack and take an action that will surprise and soften the life of someone in our prism.  A note, a phone call, handling a task that isn’t getting done, anticipating, understanding with true compassion and taking action.

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Peanut Butter Grandma and Little Frank

Yesterday was birthday 72, a reminder that one of these days the adjective ‘old’ will apply.  Not yet.  The hair is silver, not gray.  The step is quick and determined.  The denim shirts and Birks remain unchanged in the last 20 years.

Keeler Women’s Center has offered the opportunity to facilitate a journaling class.  Four Ordinary Women is reinventing.  We continue to do author events, speaking about our writing group, the process and the importance of women to women communication.  In addition, we now offer our experience to any group wishing to take the same route to adventure–writing, supporting and publishing.  Patti and I offer perspectives on that great concept, authenticity.

If you are a regular visitor to this blog,  Gentle Reader,  you know I show amazing restraint when it comes to letting you know that my grandchildren are beautiful, wonderful and amazing–that my children and my grandchildren are my Alleluia moments.  They are,and I do— show restraint.   Birthdays allow exceptions.

To Peanut Butter Grandma and Little Frank

Frank lives in Greenville, S.C., is a six-year-old pirate with at least four years of experience as Captain Jack Lobster and the author-illustrator of Peanut Butter Grandma and Little Frank, his birthday gift to me.   Frank and I are box people with arms and legs at the four corners, perfect people with giant smiles.   The story has it all, plot, characters, conflict and resolution–I get to keep my favorite lunch on the food group pyramid.

Happy Birthday to me.

Heritage

This isn’t a ramble, Gentle Reader.  Rather I need two stories, the telling of which will avoid a ramble.

Scott Simon of NPR published Baby, We Were Meant For Each Other. The book allows the reader to share the adoption journey that he and Caroline traveled as they found their beloved children.  Consistent with the honesty and talent of Mr. Simon, Baby has many layers.

While discussing the challenge of guarding the ethnicity and heritage of their children, Scott Simon told the story of the adopted son of a prominent political figure and a misperception that became a fact of the boy’s life.

The boy grew with the belief that he was Native American, Cherokee. Friends, relatives–everyone–accepted and honored this heritage.  His father became involved in Indian Affairs in his determination to protect that heritage.

Years later, the boy met his Scandinavian birth mother and they began to share  history.  Of course, the young man asked about his father, assuming that the Indian part of himself came from that man.   No so.  When  asked about ‘ethnicity’ for the birth certificate, the young mother said, “All American”.   Thus a Native American child was born and lived out the perception.

Scott and Caroline Simon have a beautiful and powerful story that carries a weight not given to my second bit of perception awry.

Growing up in Wyandotte County, Kansas City, Kansas enriched my life and I have treasured that experience in Four Ordinary Women and in this blog.  During a marathon volunteer session preparing food for a festival in Wyandotte County, the subject of early years had the usual prominent place.  “Remember when we…”   A large number of the volunteers shared most of their lives with one another, attending grade school in the building where we were working.   Seventy to eighty years in the neighborhood supplied laughter to enjoy over and over.

Bob and I are late comers to the group.  We work hard, smile often and listen with interest.  We are wise enough to know that our stories are not part of the fabric here.

Someone working nearby spoke of my elementary school located less than five miles away.  The person said, “Everyone from that school was ‘snooty’, thought they were better than everyone else.”

“Really?  Do I seem snooty to you?  Do I act better than anyone in this room?  I certainly do not feel that way…have no memory of ever feeling that way…have no memory of any classmates expressing that perception of being better than.”

The woman and I have lived full lives for over seventy years.  We worked side by side, spending hours preparing food, cleaning, volunteering for the success of this event.  Perception, snooty and better than, trumped the day.

Along 7th Street, KCK

Beautiful early morning in August, nice break in the weeks long heat, minimal traffic, our drive moves from industrial Fairfax to suburban streets.  Pocked with abandoned houses, boarded retail, Minnesota Avenue businesses holding steady, workers heading to the City Hall, Court House and a corner casino the drive brings many memories of early years in Kansas City, Kansas.  Hindsight is never that 20/20 of credit, but this place came close to a perfect village.

We encountered school buses this first week of return to classes.  Many corners had families waiting.  The  children of many colors were beautiful, some eager, some clinging, some even crying but the family stood together going back to school.  I wanted to be part of it, part of the classrooms where new family type relationships formed in safety and acceptance.  Wonder why it is that, as we grow-up, we unlearn many of the best lessons of our childhood school days?

Raised To Be Sleek

In Michael Perry’s book Coop, he writes about the funeral of his young nephew, Jake. The room was oppressive with grief, the choking sadness of a child’s death.   Michael looks around at the ‘sunburned old dogs’ with Brylcreemed hair approaching Jake’s father.  Each man there, knowing that there are no words to comfort, nothing to ease the ache, but there because that is what we do.  Michael’s stray thought wonders at the juxtaposition of craggy faces, work-worn and weary, slicked with the grease and smell of hair.  He  writes, “At times like this I am grateful I was not raised to be sleek.”

I love that.

I love Michael Perry’s perception that grieving touches the heart, no matter the look of the mourner. I love the acceptance of everyman, no matter his dress. What matters is the need to share the grief, to do something to make the pain less crushing.

“…not raised to be sleek.”
My dad was born in 1910, a long time before education and experience brought us to our easy enjoyment of cultural diversity, our acceptance of everyman. But Dad knew all that without education and experience.

Some family lore has him graduating from high school and the flip side says he quit high school to earn money so he could impress Mom. Heads or tails, the story works.

Our Kansas City, Kansas high school (1950’s) had some cultural diversity though not the degree enjoyed today.  Wyandotte County definitely had class and color lines.  Dad saw color, but color had no other significance than shades of skin. His friends were as diverse and they often filled the big kitchen bantering with us and filling the house with laughter.

Dad was bandbox perfect in his personal appearance, but the scruffiest kid could come to our house and be welcomed. Dad really believed that idea that every moment is just that–a moment, a snapshot in a life.

Actually, the lingering aftermath of the depression probably prevented us from being raised sleek, even if our parents hoped for that. But I believe that Dad saw people as good, as a reflection of one another mirroring only the best.

I am grateful to Michael Perry and his book for reminding me of this wonderful part of who my father was, of the depth of this special side of his character.

Pony Poop?

One of these beautiful days, I will convince my friend, Tim, that he needs to meet each of you via blog comments.  He is my elementary, high school friend and neighbor from Tauromee Avenue, St. Peter’s Grade School and Ward High School, Kansas City, Kansas.

Roots run deep in KCK.  Just ask any Dotte and they won’t need those seven steps to Kevin Bacon as connection to most other Dottes.

How I wish the following lines were mine, but they are not.  They are Tim’s.  “In a room full of pony poop,  (all Pollyannas) are happy because somewhere in the room there is a pony to ride.”

So I am waiting at the doorway, saddle at the ready and smiling in anticipation for the moment that this current medical mess gets rinsed of pony stuff.  The sunset beckons.

Shameless Self Promotion

Words spoken by our publisher—Shameless Self Promotion.  Advice given about a year ago as he planned to launch Four Ordinary Women at the New York Book Expo, June 2009.

Three months later the economy claimed another victim and the publisher closed the doors.  Those words, Shameless Self Promotion, became our only means of marketing and publicity.  That thousand step journey multiples exponentially, but Patti and I continue to believe in our book and work towards the success of our efforts at very open communication.

Actually, Shameless doesn’t have the same meaning as it did in June of 2009.  What was difficult and almost embarrassing has a new and livelier flip side.

I love this book, Four Ordinary Women. I love the memory of the process of bringing it to publication.  I love the concept of open communication.  I love the finished product.   There is no shame in any of that.

Amazon.com has about a dozen reviews of our book to further spark your interest.  Copies are available from our website                                    http://www.fourordinarywomen.com  as well as from Amazon.com and Rainy Day Books in Fairway, Kansas.

On June 23, 2010, 6:30 PM,  we will have an author event at the Plaza Branch of the Kansas City Library system.   This is, of course, open to everyone and we invite and encourage you to attend.  The RSVP phone number is 816 701 3407.  In a few days, the library website will have another RSVP connection.

In-town Gentle Readers, please consider coming to this event.  We want to meet you, to hear your comments, to share your stories, to be in the company of you, our Gentle Readers.