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The Search for Meaningful

The Search for Meaningful

Trying to Slow Down A Little

Can any of you relate to being chronically overcommitted, well intentioned, but seriously depleted? I didn’t think so.

This was the case years ago, when I reached out to a friend who was also a spiritual advisor. When tempted to say yes, she suggested I pause and mindfully seek guidance from my Source.  We role-played ways I could claim this space for spiritual connection and contemplation. We practiced ways to graciously say no. I vowed to only accept opportunities deemed “meaningful”.

Soon after, the grade school librarian called and asked if I would be kind enough to come in and help with Aids. I took a deep breath and recited my well-rehearsed mantra. “Thank you for asking. I will give this some thought and get back to you”, I responded.

Step two.  It was time to ask for guidance. I would do this perfectly. I gathered my supplies. Retrieving a candle, I turned on soft music, and donned my favorite meditation bra. Breathing deeply, I sought the best reply.

AIDS…hmmm…was this meaningful? Who better than a nurse to come in and sing to the children about AIDS?  I knew a song about the AIDS quilt.  Yep, this was meaningful.

I returned the librarian’s call. She was very appreciative and wanted me there from noon to 3pm.  Now I love health education, but there was no way I had enough songs about AIDS to fill three hours!

“We sure don’t want the children burning themselves.” she continued.  “Burning?” I asked. “While dripping hot candle wax onto their eggs” she emphasized.

My mind raced. What Eggs?  I thought she said AIDS!  She was asking me to help the kids decorate Ukrainian Easter EGGS!  I could barely choke out a trembling response.  “Eggs… Eggs aren’t meaningful!”

I have no idea what she must of thought about my response. As you might have guessed, I spent the following afternoon meaningfully coloring eggs! I am pretty sure I heard laughter coming from the heavens!

America’s Got Some Talent

America’s Got Some Talent

I stepped off the stage to the sound of laughter and cheers.  Instead of a conference room full of nurses, the setting was a club in West Hollywood and the man following me was a talent agent. Had I just agreed to audition for America’s Got Talent (AGT)?  Was my mind playing tricks or had I lost my mind altogether?  Isn’t a guitar-playing, singing nurse humorist a little odd?  Clearly I’d never seen the popular television show.

As I stood among hundreds of fellow AGT hopefuls snaking for blocks around the Richmond Virginia Convention Center, “odd” was re-defined. Line-mates included a flamenco dancer, an intense cowboy pacing back and forth in pointy, purple, lizard-looking boots, and a man who could best be described as an accident waiting to happen.

I am not kidding.  Less than a block behind was an elderly black man. He was slightly bent at the waist and wore a broad smile. Tossed over his shoulder, were a pair of well-worn roller skates.  At his side was a young man carrying his grandfather’s inhaler in one hand and a 7-foot ladder in the other.

Just as I began morphing into my public-health-and-safety nurse persona (think Bruce Banner), my number was called. I considered trying to blend in with an inner city step dance team or running to my car. Instead, a small group of us were ushered before a “Pre-Heidi/Howie” judge whose personality and sense of humor appeared to be tightly coiled into the bun atop her Gen-X head.  No affect. No eye contact. No problem. I’d worked with plenty of physicians.

We were told to stand on the “X” taped to the floor and to cut whatever material we had prepared from 90 seconds to a mere 45. I estimated that it would take most of that time to stop my knees from knocking. It turns out the audition was really fun. The judge actually laughed.

This would have been an excellent sign had I been in the right room! I thought I was auditioning as a nurse comedian – a strolling “menstrual-singer” with a killer bladder-control song. But alas, I was billed as a singer, singer. You know, Whitney Houston, Carrie Underwood, P. Diddy.

After a several month wait, I learned I had not been selected. With a mix of disappointment and relief, I cancelled my Botox appointments and returned the Gina Lollobrigida head scarves and tinted glasses.The talent agent would like me to give it another go. We’ll see. I’m too old (and other things) to sleep my way to the top and I don’t roller skate, but I will work on a new ditty about pee and keep you posted!

Happy New Year

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year! Like many of you, I decided I would start the New Year off right by instituting an improved regimen of self care. OK, OK, with a few New Year’s resolutions. Call them whatever you would like, but I typically fall off the wagon somewhere between New Year’s Day and Super Bowl Sunday!

Because of this discouraging pattern, one December, I absolutely swore off making further resolutions. I recall that year clearly. It was New Year’s Eve and we were gathered with acquaintances, most of whom worked with my husband. As midnight neared, the hostess asked that we each share a New Year’s resolution with the group. What followed was a full array of stellar intentions.

First, I silently vowed that I would not betray my decision. Then, as the resolutions grew more and more impressive, I vowed I would only utter a resolution I planned to keep.

I was pondering whether I could realistically stop nuclear proliferation, when it was suddenly my turn. All eyes were upon me. I searched the recesses of my mind for a worthy goal. With great gusto, I announced that my resolution was to use more lotion. “Lotion? someone asked peering over her glasses. Yes, I replied firmly. “I like attainable goals.” 

I felt ridiculous for suggesting something so mundane until the man next to me began laughing. Smiling from ear to ear, he divulged that his resolution was to look for the humor in his every day routine…. and to use more lotion. Soon, like a partridge in a pear tree, lotion was incorporated into everyone’s resolutions until we were all rolling with laughter.

The Year of the Royal Turkey

The Year of the Royal Turkey

Every Thanksgiving for many years there was one turkey in our home who escaped harm. It was a 3 pound turkey molded of chocolate and wrapped in decorative foil. Any other time of the year chocolate of any size and shape would have been fair game (pun intended), and immediately devoured.

We took delight in the way Aunt Callie’s annual hostess gift added to the table décor, but after a huge meal followed by pumpkin pie it was easy to pass up inexpensive chocolate. Often the bird remained intact and was replaced by its Easter Bunny equivalent. This year would have been no exception were it not for a moment of sheer desperation, precipitated by an unusually bad case of PMS.

It was a dark and stormy winter afternoon. Feeling premenstrual for at least 96 hours,. I was bloated, cranky, weepy and generally feeling sorry for myself. I was particularly stressed because my husband was away in London on business. The children had been more demanding than usual and were finally down for a nap.

“OK,” I thought. What do I tell others about self-care? I squeezed into some exercise clothes. I recalled those commercials claiming a little physical exertion decreased the symptoms of PMS. I groaned. Never mind. Next, I prepared some herbal tea and sat down to complete a journal entry and add an item to my daily “grateful list.”

“Hmmmmm”, I thought. “Something good about myself or my day. Let’s see. I almost did one sit-up…..and…. there must be something….Oh, yes, I’ve been particularly nice to small animals“, I scribbled pathetically.

The phone rang. It was my husband describing an evening dining at an authentic English pub. I glanced at the leftover Spaghetti-O’s cemented to the tray and one leg of my son’s high chair. A Currier and Ives scene came to mind as I wistfully envisioned the peaceful English countryside.

That was it. I feared I was going over the edge. I reached into the cupboard, groped for Turkey Lurkey, and in one swift move, ate off the entire head!

Sniffling, and sputtering bits of foil, I hung up on my bewildered husband and headed to my room for good cry followed by my own nap.

Later, I tossed the body of the turkey into the trash, paused, and on second thought, retrieved it. Smoothing the wrapper around its little neck, I held the shiny foil toward the heavens and regally decreed the Headless-Foil-Turkey serve as the international symbol of PMS forever more. Off with their heads!

You Made the Plate?

You Made the Plate?


I Could Do That!

When my children were young I spent a lot of time trying to make the “Mother of the Year” list. I’m sure you know someone ranked on that very list. One of those mothers whose house is tidy, whose van is tidy and whose three exceptionally well behaved boys will dress in matching Christmas-themed sweaters without being beaten or bribed. That was the very scene when I answered the doorbell to find my tidy neighbor and her tidy boys delivering a plate of gingerbread cookies. “The cookies! I exclaimed as they entered. Look at these darling cookies! Can you believe these cookies?” I gushed. My friend smiled and added, “Oh, and I made the plate.” “You made the plate? You made the plate?”, I stuttered incredulously. In front of me were carefully arranged and meticulously decorated  gingerbread people and houses. They were iced exactly like the gingerbread images on the serving plate. Identical in every way. Our reigning Mother of the Year explained she had purchased fabric and affixed it to a clear glass plate using decoupage fluid. “It was a snap”, she said. I think most people would have thanked her, wished all a Merry Christmas, and shut the door behind them. I did, but before the door ever met the frame, I had this thought. “I could do that! I could make plates for everyone I know; the teachers and swim team coaches, the mail carrier and my co-workers.” “But wait”, I continued. One plate isn’t much. I could make plates for every season! I could use spacers between Jack-o-lantern plates and Easter egg designs, shamrocks, and pilgrims. My sisters-in-law would open the box, remove the raffia, and be so impressed. Yes, this craft would prove my mental health for the new year. The next day I bought 60 plates. Yep, 60. I had plenty of time given that it was only December 20th or so. I cut fabric into circles and soaked them while attempting to scrape the adhesive price tag off of each and every plate. I used my nursing scissors, I tried a razor blade, I used my teeth. With sticky decoupage running from my hands to my underarms, I applied and smoothed the fabric onto the bottom surface of each plate while trying to keep the opposite side clean. I balanced these plates on top of red solo cups to dry and did my best to keep two children, a cat, a dog and an angora bunny from brushing (or hacking fur) near them. After dinner, I realized the number of usable plates was dropping with each edge-trimming mishap. I used my nursing scissors. I tried a razor blade. I used my teeth. Ok. I was down to 47 plates. Later still, I abandoned a plan to hand paint and add a greeting to the back of each plate (as my neighbor had done). Instead, I grabbed a can of glossy sealant and began spraying them. I sprayed plate 16 and plate 27 and plate 35 before turning to look back. To my horror, there was some sort of chemical reaction occurring. I found myself running around the basement trying to smash down and smooth out bulbous pockets of air forming faster than I could deflate them. That is when I heard my husband’s voice from the top of the stairs. “Couldn’t you find a little project that doesn’t require quite so much swearing during the holidays?”, he dared to ask. I went to bed. The next morning I took a closer look at the what I hoped I had salvaged. In the light of day I could see that almost all of them had some strand of hair or bunny dropping or other unpalatable object sealed between the glass and the fabric. You can’t give someone a plate of cookies only to find an added surprise lacquered underneath. Never mind this project or making the list. I guess I should have tidied up better. Now then, anybody care for a for a store bought fruitcake easily opened with your teeth? P.S.  Every time I tell this story someone from the audience approaches or e-mails me to get specific directions for doing this project. What?