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“Why, if it was an illusion, not praise the catastrophe, whatever it was, that destroyed illusion and put truth in its place?”

Virginia Woolf, A Room of One’s Own

Major life events are like tectonic plates leading to seismic shifts. We tend to look back on our lives in a pre- and post-mindset. Life before The Big Thing That Happened. Life after it.

Looking back, there were times in my life in which I was obviously in the wrong… fill in the blank. Job. Relationship. Part of town. State of mind. Size pants.

After all, just because you can squeeze your tuchus into a pair of pants that are actually a size too small… well, that doesn’t mean that they fit. It means you’re squishing yourself into a cage for reasons other than personal comfort.

I’ve come to regard those endings in life as being off-ramps to the place I really wanted to be anyway. That wasn’t home. Those weren’t true friends. I wasn’t myself.

So any time I feel a twinge of regret or nostalgia, I remind myself that I’m not one to pine for what wasn’t mine. That wasn’t for me. I’m better off without it. Now I’m free of what didn’t serve me. Free to find what really works for me. This makes change feel less like a wound and more like a gift.

Having gone through a few things, it made me realize that others are going through things, too, and it might make them cranky. I’m going to remind myself not to take other people’s problems personally.

I can’t imagine what your backstory is, so I’m going to give you a free gift of your own: the benefit of the doubt.

Compassion, not pity.

Understanding, not judgment.

In a nutshell, when I assume everyone is doing their best, things are put into proper perspective.

As for the Big Things That Happened? Well, abrupt endings become another way of saying, Okay, Lord. I’m ready. What’s next?

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Fresh Bloggie Posts 2015.docxMusic adds so much joy to my life, and I like a wide range of genres, but my true go-to song is something of an unexpected gem.

It’s a version of the great gospel song, “I Love the Lord,” by a South African gospel group called Joyous Celebration.

Now mind you, I’m so pale I’m almost pink. So white that you can see my veins right through my skin! In fact, when I get my monthly infusions for MS, the nurse always says, “My goodness! You’ve got great veins.”

“Yes,” I respond, “because my skin is almost see-through!” And I joke that I could put that skill on my resume: great veins. Plus a winning personality!☺

So while this song is from another culture and is partially in a language I don’t understand, I simply adore the vibe of it and the wonderful young lady who sings it, Ntokozo Mbambo.

Of course, I must admit that when I first heard it, I thought, Oh my! She’s getting carried away, adding a lot of ‘verve” to a song that I’d only ever heard as a sedate, low-key ballad. But by the end of the song, I thought, Wow. I feel what she’s singing deep down in my soul.

In the improvised part at the end of the song, she sings, “I came to let you know that with God you can and you will make it.” And it feels like she’s talking to everybody in pain. “Just hold on a little bit longer, hold on, hold on…”

If I ever win the lottery, it’s only right that I should send that singer the money I would have spent on a therapist, because when she sings, it’s a healing session for me.

You can find yourself wondering: does anybody know what I’m going through? And suddenly you realize it. Everybody’s going through something. We can be there for each other, because at one time, it felt like no one was there for us.

Sometimes comfort comes from God through a conduit. It might be another person, a song, a bluebird or a rainbow. Look around: there’s always somebody who’s been through it, ready to remind you of this deep truth. You’ll make it. And when you do, before you know it, you’ll be singing a song for the next person looking for comfort. You can tell them from the heart: this, too, shall pass.

Listen. It’s not just that I believe you can make it. No, I know you can. And you will.

Like so many people, there’s nothing I like more than seeing a great movie on a big screen in a theater. At one point, I used to go every single week, partly because I had a writing gig as a movie reviewer, but mainly because I love to watch stories come to life. Along with the popcorn, I’ve found some crunchy nuggets of wisdom in dialogue from films I’ve seen – sometimes even universal truths.

When you want some inspiration:

Carpe diem. Seize the day! Make your lives extraordinary.

When troubles come knocking at your door:

I want to be alone.

You talkin to me?

Go ahead. Make my day.

When you want to keep it all in perspective:

Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.

Just keep swimming.

When you need to stand up to challenges:

Nobody puts Baby in a corner.

I’ll be back.

I’m mad as heck and I’m not going to take this anymore!

When things get hectic and hairy:

Toto, I’ve got a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.

Fasten your seatbelts, it’s going to be a bumpy night.

When you want to make changes in your life:

If you build it, they will come.

I am the Captain now.

When you need a reminder that you never walk alone:

I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

You had me at hello.

May the Force be with you.

If you think nobody sees what you’re going through, never forget that you’ve got a silent partner – always available on spiritual speed-dial (AKA prayer.) May your life always be blessed and your popcorn always be fresh as you create the story of your own life. Here’s looking at you, kid!

Credits, in Order of Appearance:
Dead Poets’ Society
Grand Hotel
Taxi Driver
Sudden Impact
Forrest Gump
Finding Nemo
Dirty Dancing
The Terminator
Network
The Wizard of Oz
All About Eve
Field of Dreams
Captain Phillips
Casablanca
Jerry Maguire
Star Wars
Casablanca

As I was making my son some Ramen, we sat in the kitchen and chatted. I told him the story of the first time I ever cooked anything for his father, some twenty-five years ago.

Oh yes. It was Ramen Noodles.

So I told my son that back in the days of yore, I made his Dad the Ramen, poured in the little seasoning packet, and put it into a bowl.  At that time, Ramen wasn’t as ubiquitous as it is now, and I had never had it before. I looked at the package. It showed a bowl filled with noodles, but I didn’t see any broth in the picture.

Is this noodles? I asked myself.  I thought it was soup, but based on the picture, maybe it’s just a noodle side dish.

I drained out the liquid.

Serving it to my then-husband, he looked puzzled.  “Something is missing here….” he said, explaining that it usually has broth in it.

My son laughed as I told the story.  Now, back in our time, I finished making his Ramen and poured it into the bowl. I handed him a spoon.

“Something is missing, Ma,” he said, smiling.

I had forgotten to pour in the seasoning packet!  Dagnabbit.

So I admit it.  I often order out or bring home meals from food places in our town. My son will actually get a better meal this way, with all of the ingredients included.

I used to feel guilty about this. But now I see that I’m doing the best that I can with the hand I’ve been dealt. My MS affects my memory and my cognitive abilities. For as long as I can remember, I’ve struggled to get my side dishes to be done at the same time as my entrée.  I remember once during a dinner party years ago, forgetting the two-cups-of-water to one-cup-of-rice ratio and reversing it. I was embarrassed that I couldn’t seem to master this skill that is so important in the life of a family.

Cooking, gathering over the meal, savoring tasty dishes.  It just isn’t something I’ve ever been able to do well. Some people who don’t do well with plants have a black thumb.  I guess I’ve got a black oven mitt! I’m sure Martha Stewart would look at my caved-in casserole, shake her head and say, “I’d rather go back to jail than have to eat this! It’s a bad thing.”

I’ve come to the conclusion that everybody has something to deal with. Don’t give yourself a hard time for what you can’t do; focus more fully on your gifts, and give that your all. Do your best to work around shortcomings – black oven mitt and all – and trust that God will take care of the rest. And put the pizza place on speed dial.

Have a Mary Little Christmas

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