Friday, May 30, 2014

Do You Hear What I Hear?

I was wearing my new jazzy spandex jogging capris and my brand new Apple ear buds when I left the house for my morning walk.  It was a bit chilly, so I went back for a light sweatshirt.  I got a really long one since I was not sure the 'hood was ready for the total spandex experience from me just yet.

My ipod was already secure in  the small fanny pack around my waist and and didn't want to put the pack  over my sweatshirt, so grabbed my ear buds that were hanging from under the sweatshirt now and just popped them in my ears.   

I had a full hour of disco hits '70's on my play list.  Yeah, Baby.  Makin' my way to Funkytown.

When you walk at the same time every day, you tend to come across the same people.  Conversations are rare; we morning walkers prefer just waving and smiling to one another. The day was beautiful, I was full of energy and those tunes were good ones. "It's Raining Men!"  "Ring My Bell!"

I had the volume up and may have even broken out into song once in awhile.  (Can you blame me?)  My hips were swaying and my head was bopping along with the tunes,  "She's a Very Funky Girl!"  I waved to all my regular peeps as I dance/walked by.

The only thing that nudged me (and only slightly) from my Dancing Queen reverie was the downward tugging of my ear buds. I reasoned the sweat shirt was forcing the wire down.  Or, maybe the new ear buds were just heavier than my past ones had been.  

Oh well. I was too lost in the music to do anything about it.  "Shake Your Groove Thing. Shake Your Groove Thing. Yeah. Yeah."

I continued to wave at my fellow morning people, including some I didn't know.  It was that kind of morning, you know? I smiled at all the kiddos walking to school.  They looked at me and smiled back, obviously in awe of my super-speedy-groovilicious walking. "Le Freak! C'est Chic!" 

It was on the last block of my three mile tour of the '70's that the tugging on my ears got to be too much, I pulled up on the cord to discover that the wires of the ear buds were not, as I had assumed, just caught on the edge of my sweatshirt.  

Oh my.

Oh no.

My ipod was indeed hidden from public view, but the wires from it had descended down and been caught up in the crotch of the heavy duty spandex before swooping up to my ears again.  Yes, that cord was really worked in there.  

Those I passed by must have thought I had a direct line to my nether regions, and was listening pretty intently.

Judging from my facial expressions and nodding head they could have assumed that the news was pretty fantastic!  

Well, OK!

(Hey!  At least I wasn't listening to a scary novel or a boring news program.  Imagine what they would have thought the report was then!)

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Fitbit Fever

OK, OK, here’s that post on the Fitbit you all begged for.

I have been wearing a Fitbit for about three years and am kind of nutso-crazy about it.  It’s like a pedometer on steroids, tracking your steps, activity level, stairs, and even your sleep if you would like it to. 

The best part is it records all this on your computer so you can see your progress over time.  Your buddies can also be on your leader board, so you can see how active you’ve been compared to them.  All four of my sisters have Fitbits and three of them are on my leader board.  These women are beasts about walking and a couple of them are extremely competitive.  (Maybe Betty is too, just a little….) 

Anyone who has a Fitbit can tell you it pretty much rocks his or her world.  My buddies who have Fitbits know what I am talking about.  It’s the first thing I grab in the morning and the last thing I take off at night.  It’s a great way to get your steps in during the day.  You can just plug the sensor into your computer, leave it there and it will pick up your steps whenever you get within fifteen feet. 

If you need some extra motivation or just want to see how far you are walking, a Fitbit might just be the thing for you. 

Happy Walking, My People!  Let’s stay healthy out there!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

What Betty's Feet Are Wearing This Season

Oh. My. Gosh.  It's time to take a break from my soul-searing commentary (I hear you cheering out there!) to focus on the really important issues in life like leisure-time footwear.

As many of you know, I love to walk.  Kia Louise and I are up every morning for a three-mile jaunt.  In the past I've had some pretty good shoes and some pretty good socks, but recently the stars aligned and I got new ones of both at the SAME TIME!  Ahhhhhhhhhhh!

This is my second pair of Brooks Glycerin 11 shoes.  The company is coming out with 12 any day now,  but I'm an impatient badger who couldn't wait so I bought another pair of 11's.

I have been a Thorlo girl for years, but these super-duper Distance Walking socks rock my world.  Seriously.

With these socks and these shoes, I am a very happy maniacal walker!  It's like I have tiny mattresses and box springs strapped to my feet.

I don't believe I have every written about my fitbit, but it is an important part of my life.

Do you have one?  Wouldn't you like a long, detailed post about mine?

Wishing you happy, healthy days!

Monday, May 26, 2014

Memorial Day Monday Morning Flowers

Happy Memorial Day to all.

A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself.

                                                                                     --Joseph Campbell   

Thursday, May 22, 2014

What's In a Name?

It would have been so easy at the time of the divorce. 

All I had to do was check a little box on the forms and the courts would have changed my name back to my maiden name. 

Easy, right? 

Well, perhaps in a legal kind of way, but not in an emotional one.

A name is a complicated thing, isn’t it?  We have little or no control over the name we are given at birth and usually we grow to accept that name.  We rarely question if it is good or bad, it just IS. It was set for us and we settle into it. 

When I married in 1981, I had enough of a taste of modern life to know that some women were keeping their last names after they got married.  When I mused aloud that perhaps I would keep mine, my husband-to-be let me know he did not like the idea at all. 

So, even though it was not exactly the last name of my dreams, I did what my sisters had done, my mom had done, and countless generations of women had done.  I dropped my maiden name, took my husband’s last name and I didn’t look back.

During the divorce, I rationalized keeping my married name.  Everything I had and every organization I was associated with knew me with that name.  It had been thirty years.  My career was built around it, my house was in that name, and all of my bank accounts and credit cards were in that name.

I considered my children, who weren’t really children anymore.  My sons were 19 and 24 at the time.   Their world had pretty much exploded.  Would my change of name only add to their sense of confusion and loss?  I wanted them to know I was still very much their mother.  I wanted that identification with them that a common last name would give me.

And then there were the purely irrational reasons.  Part of divorce is the division of assets-- a ruthless process of taking any and all things we had together regardless of emotional attachment and dividing them down the middle.  I had the crazy thought that if I changed my name, my ex-husband would, in essence, be getting our sons. 

I see now that I was in a pretty stunned state at the time and honestly, with my sons leaving for college and my husband leaving the marriage, I didn’t know who the heck I was anymore. I clung to that name because it represented who I thought was.  My role as a wife and mother was connected with it.   As I stood on the edge of this new life, I did not know what else or who else I was or could be. I kept the name because at least it was familiar to me, unlike the new life I was facing.

A year or so after the divorce, I reviewed my situation. I had been through some pretty intensive therapy to help me move into a new life.  I had worked to understand what had happened in the relationship.  I started to take on financial and household tasks that at one time I would have considered too overwhelming.  I had totally renovated my house so it bore only a passing resemblance to the old one and I had moved into a new relationship. 

I knew I should feel like I had moved into the future as a different person.  Still, there was something that was holding me back.  I thought about it.  I still had that name—that name that was mine, but not really mine.  It was the name given to me by someone who didn’t want to be associated with me anymore. It was a name that, well, didn’t fit me anymore.  I thought about it for a long time and decided that maybe it was time to change my name back to my maiden name.

I called the only two people in the world who could have stopped me: my sons.  My older son, a Sociology major and kind-of-new-age guy understood immediately and didn’t skip a beat, “Go for it, Mom,” he said.    

I called my younger son, a pragmatic boy who doesn’t show his emotions readily.  “Well,” he said, his voice halting and unsure, “I could have a problem with that, Mom.”  I held my breath.  I was sure this was the opportunity to discuss the emotional toll the divorce had taken on him.  This was going to be the conversation where he expressed his true feelings. I had been waiting for this and was ready. 

I went into my therapy-mom-mode.  “Tell me about that,” I said, my voice soothing and reassuring.  “Well,” he said, “I have you down as back-up for my rent if I ever miss paying it and if you had a different name, that could really screw it up.” I couldn’t help myself; I laughed and I assured him I would be there to pay the rent no matter what my name.  “Oh, well then,” he said.  “It’s all cool then.” 

So I did it.  I went to the courthouse and changed back to my maiden name.  I was engaged to my fiancĂ© when I did it but I explained to him that though  I loved him very much, I just wanted my own name again and I intended to keep it even after we were married.  He understood and was wonderfully supportive.  When the papers came officially declaring that the change had been made, I was happy but I was also scared.

This was my opportunity to create myself without the pre-formed molds of wife and mother to fall into.  I had gotten married when I was 21.  I followed all the dictums of society and now here I was, but who was this person?  This was my chance to find out again.  I was scared to death that I would find out that the old Betty was not there anymore and that this new, old name no longer fit me either.  Could I get back to the essence of who I was?  Was that girl I once was still within me?  I felt lost.  Then, I found my first camera.

I was unpacking some storage boxes that I had not opened for years and years when I saw it: my Kodak Instamatic X-15.  

If you are a photographer, you probably still have most of the cameras you have ever used.  They become a part of you.  You remember the intricacies of the buttons, the weight of the body in your hands, the sound of the shutter, and the way the viewfinder almost seems to mold itself to your eye.  My mother had purchased this camera for me when I was in eighth grade. I smiled as I held it in my hands, feeling the lightness of it, the way it fit into my hands again so easily and naturally.

Then, I opened it to peer into the dark body and there, back in the hinge I saw it:  my name, my full maiden name written in my mother’s handwriting.  She had been afraid I might lose the camera and this was her way to assure it would be returned to me.   I stood there, and knew right then and there that the essential person I am is written in my soul—it always has been. 

That girl that held that camera all those many years ago was still the person who held that camera.   A verse from Jeremiah jumped into my head, “ Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you; before you were born I set you apart.”

My mother, a victim of dementia, does not speak much these days, but in this little sticker, in that ink, I heard her voice loud and clear.  “Of course you know who you are.  It’s inside of you.  It’s always been inside of you.”

I think we all go through stages and changes in our lives that question who we are.  At the time, we may confuse who we are with what we do.  We may cling to old versions of ourselves because we fear we can’t create new ones or get back to the essence of who we once were before the roles and responsibilities covered it up. 

Getting back to that essential being takes times and effort.  You may have to look through some old boxes of thought you’ve kept the lid on.  You may have to open some doors that have long been shut and you may have to peer into some pretty dark places, but that person IS there, waiting for you to come and find him or her again. 

As for me?  Changing my name was not easy, but I am so glad I did it.  It was exactly what I needed at this stage in my life.  Each time I get a credit card changed, or write my return address with my new name, I feel lighter.  I feel like I've shed something that wasn't mine to carry in the first place. 

This comparison might be outdated now, but with my new name it feels just like I’ve got a fresh roll of film and I’ve advanced it to number one.

I can’t wait to see what develops.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Monday Morning Flowers

Happy Monday!

Hope your week ahead is a good one.

There are beautiful flowers popping up all over the place here.  

What a wonderful time of year!

Hope you have a great week ahead.  Any special plans?

The fact that I can plant a seed and it becomes a flower, share a bit of knowledge and it becomes another's, smile at someone and receive a smile in return, are to me continual spiritual exercises.

   --Leo Buscaglia

Thursday, May 15, 2014

My Three Peanut Life

I have a very personal relationship with peanuts.  

Don’t believe me?  I’ve eaten peanut butter almost every day of my life.  I start every day with it and sometimes end my day with it.  Many times I have peanuts as a snack during the day.  

For a long time roasted, salted, shelled peanuts were my favorite.  These fat beauties were my snack of of choice during the period of my divorce. 

One day in the midst of that madness, weakened and sad, I sat on my patio with my good ol' bowl of peanuts, hoping beyond hope that my familiar ritual would help me feel better.

Sniffling, I hugged my bowl and suddenly realized that fewer than fifty percent of the peanuts were whole.  The rest had been separated from their other half—the half they had grown with, the only other half they had ever known—and that other half was lost to them forever. Lost. All because of some outside force had tumbled them around like life does at times, but even if one side of the peanut had wanted to stay with the other side of the peanut, one side of the peanut wanted to get away to the other side of the can and be close to another half of a peanut who apparently gave him something the other half couldn’t even though that other half had been willing to try and that half really missed the other half and now that half would never be with that other half ever again….  

Well, I think you get the picture. 

Then and there, I went into a weeping and wailing fit that caused dogs to howl and the neighbors to shut the windows and lock the doors.  

Oh, I was a mess, I tell you.

I switched to almonds for a little while after that.

Of course, I eventually went back to peanuts, got through the hideous divorce process and am now a very happy Hoody’s roasted-and-salted-in-the-shell girl. I sit on my back patio smiling and cracking those shells open like a hamster on amphetamines.

The other day I picked up a long peanut and cracked it open to find three nuts inside.




I have a three peanut life!   The first peanut was my childhood—smaller than the rest, kind of misshapen, but still very good.

Then came the middle peanut—a fat, rich and full nut.  Thirty years of a happy marriage (well, until the end) and those years of mothering!  I loved every single one of them.  Being a mom of my two young boys was the greatest experience of my life and my heart is so full of memories I will keep alive forever.

Ah yes, despite the end of the marriage I thought would last forever, my second peanut was very good.

And now!  Now! Now I get a third peanut of life.  


A nugget of goodness!  How lucky am I?  I get to start again with a man who adores me, who thinks I am just about the most fun person ever, and who honors my creativity.  I am healthy and happy and ready to grow in whatever direction I choose to.   I have my past memories and my wonderful children, but the years ahead belong to me and I plan to make the most of them.

I am grateful for my three peanut life!

(And for all the nuts who read my blog and put up with my nutty ideas!)

Monday, May 12, 2014

Monday Morning Flowers!

Good Monday, My People!

Do you have a great week planned?

Isn't it wonderful that every Monday is a new chance to start over?

Hope you all had good Mother's Days!

Let's go out there and do good things for the world!

I am determined to be cheerful and happy in whatever situation I may find myself. For I have learned that the greater part of our misery or unhappiness is determined not by our circumstance but by our disposition.

--Martha Washington

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Wedding Report

Saturday was a very special day.

Philip, Brian's son, married to his love, Vanessa!

Brian and I got duded up for the event.

The ceremony was beautiful!

Good friends surrounded us.  (This was after I had danced A LOT, hence, the hairdo alert.)

It was such a happy day for all!

Don't you just love weddings? 

Friday, May 2, 2014

Veggie Love

I know what you people really come to this blog for.  You pretend it's out of intellectual curiosity, a thirst for knowledge, and answers to life's biggest questions.

Yeah, right.

I know you really drop by out of a lurid desire to see the lush colors and lascivious curves and folds of vegetation that I occasionally post.

Well, it's that time again.  My box of local organic produce arrived today.  Let's stick our snouts in the box and see what we got.

Oh yeah, baby!  Yeah!

This week's selection included spinach, radishes, black kale, celery, Romaine lettuce, rainbow carrots, purple onions, Pixie tangerines, Eureka lemons, and Hass avocados.

Oh!  And speaking of veggies!
Remember this picture of our new garden I posted on April 8?

Here it is today!

The recent winds and heat have not done the strawberries any good, but I am hoping they survive.

As many of you predicted, the squash is trying to take over the box.  

Ah well, I am so proud and happy with my first attempt at gardening.

Hope you have happy days!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Beauty in Both

There is a depth, a steadfastness in living in one area your entire life.  

I think of my friend, Elaine, living on her family farm, treading the same floors and fields that her great grandparents trod.  

People who have deep roots in a community—roots that go back generations—sometimes have an understanding of the landscape and character of the community that others do not.  

Leaving my home in California and going back to my Kansas hometown last week, however, makes me glad I am a transplant. 

There is no doubt that I am now a California girl.  I am happy to live here.  The lifestyle, weather, and mix of people suit me.  

There is also no doubt that I am a Midwesterner at heart.  Green fields dotted with black and white cows, a red cardinal in a cottonwood tree, the smell of lilacs in the spring, the texture of a bale of hay—all these things touch something deep within me. 

Landing at the airport in Kansas City means landing amid fields. Last week as we touched down, I looked out and smiled at all that beautiful space, uninterrupted by roads or buildings.  Then I heard the guy behind me, a thick New York accent coming through, “Look at that,” he groaned.  “Nothing but fields.  How do people stand to live here?”  

My first impulse was to stand up and give him a Betty Glare, but I refrained and instead felt sorry for him. 

It occurred to me that there is a danger to living too narrow of a life.  

Moving from one region to another does not insure perspective, but it does help.  Not everyone is guilty of such narrowness of outlook.  However, many people who are born and raised in California are often sure it is Heaven on Earth.  The New Yorker behind me no doubt thought his birthplace superior.  Country songs hail the South.  Midwesterners often discount other ways of life and Texans?  Well, we won’t even discuss Texans.  

Pride in your home region is good. The danger comes when people of a region discount the validity of a life lived outside of that region.

Now, I love my home state of Kansas but my politics and driving habits veer more towards California.  I am privileged to feel at home in both the Midwest and California.  My plan is to live in California the rest of my life, but I’ll always make trips back to Kansas—to look at those fields, to breathe that air, to visit with my people there. 

On those trips, as the plane approaches the runway in KC, I’ll smile to see those open fields.  

Then, when I land in LA, I’ll smile to see the complicated crossword puzzle of traffic below me.  

There is beauty in both.