Category Archives: Friendships
I was explaining to my son exactly why I went on a vacation to California, leaving him and his older brother in the care of their father.
“Yeah, yeah, yeah. I know. You’re going through a mid-life crisis.”
I spun around so quickly, I think I scared him. The only reason why my youngest boy didn’t receive my full wrath after that remark was because I figured he had been parroting the words of my ex. He had to have been. Who else would be so closely affected by me wanting to escape from responsibility for a mere week (out of 1,144 weeks that we were together)? The one man on this planet to have tried – and succeeded – to have guilted me from doing those things and seeing those people who really fed my soul. (Okay, so I allowed it, but still…)
“Mid-life crisis” is usually said with a judgmental and condescending tone. To me, this phrase smacks of negativity. As if reaching this point is a bad thing, as if we’ve stepped over to the darker side of the tracks.
Anyway, whoever whispered that choice little phrase into my son’s ear needs to hear what I have to say.
Self Discovery is the new Mid-Life Crisis.
“Mid-life crisis,” I think, is being in a place of self discovery. It’s when we look around and reassess our life and say, “Hey! There I am! I had no idea I would enjoy something like that.” So we start playing and doing things we’d forgotten to have fun doing. Stuff we’d stupidly put on hold for… what? Whatever we were doing that we felt took precedence over our own needs, could have been tailored to work around or with us. If we hadn’t shelved the fun or passion for so long, we never would have gotten to this point in the first place. And while we’re in this state of “confusion,” our loved ones sit back and patiently wait for us to “come back” to our senses. Will we ever come back? I hope not.
I believe those with the tsk, tsk attitude might be a tad frightened when people like me wake up one day and say they’ve had enough. I’m a threat. I can single-handedly shake their tree and leave them scratching their heads, wondering what just blew through their forest. I’m a break from their safe routine.
The reality is that this state of mind should be encouraged, for it is through the process of finding out what makes us happy, that this happiness will undoubtedly spill over into the outside world, not fester and breakdown, such as what happened to me not too long ago.
So, today, on my 50th birthday, I find myself still making up for lost time, and with a little help from my friends, the road to discovery has been over-the-top amazing.
The joy I’ve found and the joy I have yet to find will be for my friends and family as well. So, here’s to 50 more years of self discovery…. Cheers!
It’s a double-edged sword. A two-faced creature. The stuff that either makes dreams come true or shatter into itty bitty tears. It’s the glue between relationships – personal or professional. It’s what raises the bar for a lot of us or, if not met, can disappoint and crush.
No. It’s not love.
Expanding on yet another post I wrote almost two years ago about boxes and labels and expectations being a big part of that, I’ve come to another crossroads in my still-developing life. I’ve been willing to accept that I cannot be contained, cannot be categorized, and I’ve reveled in that freedom. But it wasn’t enough. Others still criticized and pushed their expectations on me to be a certain way and, though I stood my ground, I’d found old habits threatening to resurface. I felt guilty and wanted to bend to their will.
So this time around I’d made it perfectly clear. Do. Not. Expect. Anything. From. Me. I am who I want to be, not who you want me to be. Not my job to fulfill your expectations.
It was easy for me to wrap my head around the fact that their expectations were their issue. Not mine.
Some people complied, some people didn’t and that, honestly, annoyed me because, damn it. I expected them to respect my request.
Ahh, but I’d gotten caught in my own box of expectations, didn’t I? It didn’t occur to me until my cousin mentioned that she was waiting for someone to do something and it wasn’t panning out. She then added, “Oh well. That’s my expectation. Gotta let it go.” This ah-ha moment hit me like a nice 2 x 4 across my ego. I had to release the expectations I had of others. Yeah, I know. I said “duh,” too.
It’s brilliant. Obvious and simple, but brilliant. I’d thought of all of the little expectations I’d had of other people and I just had to laugh, starting with the expectation that others will release their expectations of me. A close second was how events or situations should turn out. Unpredictable at best with all of the possible outcomes, it was far easier to release that expectation then to try to control something I had no control over.
So, yeah. This expectation thing is a two-way street, a journey that if everyone took, could very well circumvent a lot of frustration. As much as we might like to, we cannot control and we cannot predict what another will do. We can only observe and try to respect.
Happy Valentine’s Day!
I don’t know about you, but I love, love, love getting a letter or greeting card or email from my friends and family. I tend to get wrapped up in their daily goings on, or whatever person or event is causing them grief or joy. Sometimes I’ll hold on to the letter or save the email so I can read them over and over again just because of what is written, how it’s written, or just…because. I so adore my friends and family. I’d imagine some of you may feel the same way.
But how would you feel if you received a letter, addressed to you, from overseas, from someone you didn’t know? How would you feel? Wouldn’t you be curious?
Well, that’s what happened to Mr. G.L. Solomon, living in Sydney, Australia. In Naomi Bulger’s novella, Airmail, his very lonely, very mundane, very routine life takes a turn when he receives a letter from a woman he doesn’t know, who lives in New York. This odd, mysterious, quirky woman, Anouk, continues to write letters to him, confessing the random workings of her mind, and he continues to read the letters, still content in his life, sitting in his home halfway across the world. Until, that is, one day she writes him, claiming to be writing from “the other side.” Believing Anouk is in trouble, Mr. Solomon steps out of his comfort zone and into her world in New York, leaving all that is familiar to him, determined to help her in any way he can.
What happens from that moment on, can be nothing but life changing for Mr. Solomon.
Airmail is a brilliantly written novella by Naomi Bulger. It’s one of those stories that lingers in our minds long after the book is tucked away.
I had the opportunity to hook up with Naomi this week and ask her a few questions about the story, and I am thrilled to share our conversation with you!
I love the premise of Airmail. What inspired you to write it? Were the characters based on anyone you knew?
Thank you! If I’m honest, insomnia inspired me to write Airmail. I originally had a completely different story in mind, one in which a girl traveled the world writing letters to a stranger, and through those letters the stranger (and the reader) would learn about her adventures, her romances, her journey. But while I was writing I went through a particularly bad bout of insomnia, and I guess it really messed with my mind. It probably didn’t help that I wrote under a flickering fluorescent light a lot of that time, too. Before I knew it, the girl had a ‘reverse stalker’ and within a very short period of time, she was (or believed she was) dead! She never got to leave New York. I struggled for a while with trying to wrestle the book back to my earlier vision but, in the end, I gave up and decided to keep writing and see where the story would lead me.
To answer the second part of your question, the characters aren’t based on people I know, but the old man, Mr G.L. Solomon, was created in part by a close friend. I was struggling to write the character of an old man in a way that convinced even me, let alone anyone else. So I work-shopped him with my friend, an actor. I gave my friend a brief outline of the old man’s character, then started posting letters. I would hand-write the letters in the character of Anouk, and send them to my friend’s house (addressed to Mr G.L. Solomon) in airmail envelopes. I even pasted used US stamps onto them so they seemed to come from New York, rather than my Sydney house around the corner. After reading the letters, my friend would talk with me about the old man’s reactions. Things like, “He can’t read Anouk’s handwriting” came first. Then “He has developed a routine around how and when he reads the letters,” and, “He used to be annoyed when they came, but now he is curious to know more.” Together, we built up a picture of this curmudgeonly old man, who is so very real to me today.
How long did you take to write Airmail?
This was a quick book to write, I’d say only six weeks. But that was the first draft. Subsequent drafts and work with editors in both Australia and the US took literally years.
Is there a message in Airmail that you want readers to grasp?
I don’t think I wrote Airmail with a message in mind, it’s not a book that’s intended to teach. That said, I think the central message that came out of this book is to “own your own stories.” Things happen to us in life: the very good, the very bad, and a whole lot of everyday stuff in between. But if we try to edit any stories out of our memories, even the bad ones, we are not being true to ourselves. Everything that happens to you in your life helps make you who you are, that unique and special you.
Airmail has a very unique cover. Who did the design work?
I love the cover of Airmail, it was done by my publisher’s in-house designers. I talked with them about the kind of mood I wanted to create, for example the vintage postage feel, and sent them some Polariod photographs I had taken myself during my research for Airmail. But I was prepared for something completely different, and willing to accept their marketing know-how over my aesthetic. They came back with this cover, even using some of my Polariods on the back, and I just loved it.
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This is definitely a not-to-be-missed read. And….no book review would be complete without a giveaway! So go ahead and leave a comment below, be it a question or random thought, and I’ll put your name in a hat, from which a winner will be drawn and announced tomorrow.
Speaking of tomorrow, I’d love it if you would join me when I give you the low-down on Naomi. She so deserves a day of her own…Yeah, she’s that good.
You know what it is. Sometimes it’s hereditary, sometimes it’s picked up from the environment we’re in. It can be in the air, easily passed along from one person to another. A lot of the time we’re scratching our head wondering where the hell it came from. And it’s not gender specific. Both male and female can be afflicted.
Though there are a few people in the human population who are immune to this, like, say Mother Teresa, most of us are able to steer clear of it, but even the toughest ones can fall prey.
Like me, for example. I contracted a bout of this many years ago after being around someone with a similar affliction. It was short-lived, fortunately, but from that day on, I’ve been diligent about keeping myself free and clear.
What is this Nasty? Pure, undiluted Meanness.
The day it hit me, I had a slap-in-the-face reality check. After some particularly choice words from my ex over the subject of laundry, of all things, I came back at him with a line so vile, so below the belt, both of our jaws dropped. Neither of us could believe that I, one of the nicest people I know (okay, I’m in the top 100 of those I know), could have actually said what I did. It was so out of character, so…so…not me. All I could do was close my mouth and slink away. I couldn’t even say I was sorry. Because I had meant it at the time. That was the part that shocked me – that I was even capable of saying something so hurtful. Since that day I have kept my mind and mouth in check, because the look on my ex’s face will burn forever in my brain.
But what about others who do this on a constant basis? Earlier this week some friends, including “T” from Give Me A Valium With My Latte, and I were talking and the conversation turned to women who were nasty, bitchy, and just plain mean. We’re not talking about comments in the privacy of our own homes or amongst friends, but out-in-public mean – words intending to hurt, words that travel with such high velocity, they embed in others, compelling the receiver to “pay it forward,” or at least shoot it right back at the originator with intent to maim. It has a ripple effect and unless we’re skilled at dodging that bullet (which few of us are), many of us tend to get defensive, ball up our fists, and get ready to throw the insults right back.
That is an example of a short-lived case, sort of like the flu or a cold. As soon as the offending person leaves our orbit, we’re back to our sweet selves.
I see that situation on a daily basis with my boys. Separated, they are angels. Together, I’m packing my bags, ready for a Tijuana run just to avoid their energy. My oldest asked me once, “Mom, why is he so mean?” I wanted to shake him into next week and ask, “What do you expect when you treat him the same way?” But I didn’t. We’d had that same conversation at least one hundred times. There was no need to repeat it. My words obviously weren’t going to be sinking in anytime soon.
Some people, unfortunately, are raised in that nasty kind of environment, so when they step out their front door, they are ready to face the world with a frown and a bad attitude. They are the ones who suffer with chronic meanness. They are the ones who have no intention of entering rehab. They are the ones my friends and I were having a “discussion” about this week.
It’s sad, really. Friends and family are alienated from our lives because of the words they choose to utter. (My big brother and I, for example.) Cultures are separated because of the inability to reach for a positive or grateful thought.
I’ve never understood the concept of being mean to one another, to purposely set out to dig under another’s skin until they bleed. Perhaps it feeds the need to feel superior. I don’t know. Like I said. I don’t get it. “T” and I, along with many of my friends, prefer to live in a “no drama zone,” and I think that’s where I’m going to set up house. Not only is it easier on the body, but just think how much money we’ll save in Botox injections. Sheesh.
I was all ready to do a post about something completely different than what this has turned out to be. I was chatting with a good friend about what my blog was going to be about and he suggested posting on the insanity of the Christmas season. My reply was that it was overdone and I had already touched upon it in a prior post. Besides, I thought later, I really wanted to keep away from the negative side of the season, the side of which my children, the youngest one anyway, seems to have been sucked into – the lists, the wanting more and more – I want, I want, I want – without regard for anyone (me) else. The whole thing was making me cranky. I didn’t need to add to it.
So I set upon a path for a completely different blog, but I kept thinking about a post that Give Me a Valium With My Latte posted on Facebook today, and once again, the direction of my blog shifted, and I began to smile.
The spirit of Christmas had entered the building.
We all know times are tough for many and this time of year adds a little more pressure on those who struggle financially. The desire to please and the desire to keep a roof over our heads crash in the middle and communication just breaks down. But we find a way, somehow, with cutting corners here and there, or whatever it takes to make it through.
As it turns out, kind and loving people are stepping in and lending a hand, just because that is what resonates in their heart. They have been dubbed the Layaway Angels.
These incredible people have stepped up to the plate and hit home runs for many, many people who used the layaway option at K-Mart stores as a way to purchase gifts for Christmas. Before these people were scheduled to pay off the balance of their purchases last week, many of these earth angels had taken care of the balances for these customers, leaving them in tears – very, very happy tears. For those fortunate enough to have been touched, this will be a Christmas to remember.
You can read the full story here. It’s not very long, and well worth your time. The video had me in tears.
To me, this is what Christmas is all about. The giving. The love. The reaching out. It could take the shape of a check, a hug, a plate of homemade fudge, a warm meal, or the gift of song. Whatever works.
Happy Holidays, everyone!