Search

chicwhitesheep

SPEAKER OF THE FLOCK

Month

March 2016

The Spring Equinox Paradox

“In the Spring, I have counted 136 different kinds of weather inside of 24 hours.”–Mark Twain

Oh my heavens, Spring has sprung, my dears.  I know this because the school system has informed me they are taking a “break” and they’re giving the reason for said break as “Spring.”  But let’s also please note that one of these days off is called a “Snow Day.” Which is stupid, but at the same time makes total sense, because it is March in the South, and anyone who has ever bought a sleeveless Easter dress knows that technically a Snow Day could still happen.

I think Spring is a great illustration of a paradox.  If Spring were a person, she’d be that friend of a friend that comes up to your table at dinner, wearing 3 scarves and open toe boots (talk about a paradox: boots that require a pedicure to wear them??  Why are you doing this to me, Fashion??) and an armful of jangly bracelets.  She’d airkiss everyone at the table and tell a bunch of stories that require lots of hand gestures and all start with “Y’all are going to think this is so funny…”  She’ll gush about the locally sourced butterbean hummus and then breeze off so quickly the menus fly off the table and you look at your friends like, “WHAT just HAPPENED??  I love her, but I’m so glad that’s over.  I’m exhausted.”

(Incidentally, have you ever noticed that when someone starts a story out by saying, “Y’all are going to think this is so funny!” it rarely turns out to be all that funny?)

So, anyway, y’all are going to think this is so funny.  I’ve come up with all the ways Spring starts out being cute and bubbly but then ends up being a scattered, smothered, covered hot mess.

1.  YAY!  The days are longer!  Yes, the days are longer.  As a matter of fact, each day gets longer and longer by very small fractions.  And by those same small fractions, it gets harder and harder to explain to the children that they MUST go to bed, even though it is still light outside.  Even though you lay it out very clearly each of the 5 times they come down the steps after you’ve forced them into bed.  Even after you’ve explained the earth’s rotation around the Sun.  Even when you’ve demonstrated several times how to “just close your eyes and lie very still.”  Small fractions of your sanity chipped away, friends.  Just love the longer days.

2.  Oh, and we have Spring Break!  It’s like practice for Summer Break!  Oh my heavens.  No school for 10 days.  Everyone at home.  All together for 10 days.  Let’s think about how 10 days is about 1/8 of the length of Summer Break.  Can’t wait for 8 TIMES THE FUN AND ACTIVITIES.  Practice makes perfect, right?  My children’s school does Teacher Appreciation Week shortly after Spring Break.  Coincidence?  I think not.  The levels of parental appreciation of teachers has to be at a year-long high after Spring Break.  We can’t believe the teachers have made it this far and heaven help us all when the parents have to take the reins again in just a few weeks.

3.  Everything is just growing and blooming and it is all so beautiful!  So true.  Everything IS growing and blooming!  The weeds are growing all over the lawn.  The children have grown right out of all their clothing and shoes.  And as for blooming?  I think there are actual plants budding inside my head.  If someone took an x-ray of me from the neck up, I would not be surprised to see an azalea taking up residence there, it’s spiny branches poking the back of my eyeballs and little pink blooms tickling my ears and the back of my throat.  This brain azalea is being consistently watered by my weepy eyes and nose.  I don’t think I’m alone here.  If you take a look around, it seems that Spring has brought the entire Southeast to tears with its wonderfulness.  Beautiful, indeed.

4.  The weather is so nice!  We should open the doors and windows!  Oh, I do love it!  It IS so great to open the doors and windows!  For about 2.75 days.  Somewhere around Day 3 of Spring, opening the doors and windows becomes a choking hazard.  The clean, fresh laundry-scent of Spring’s Day 1 gets replaced by pollen particles the consistency of airborne quicksand.  Oh, and guess what else is back?  Bugs.  Swarms of bugs.  Forgot about those, didn’t you?  Well, they are back, they didn’t forget about YOU, and they don’t want to be outside, either.  They want to be in bed with you.  Awww, how sweet.  Shut the damn door.

5.  We can wear shorts and flip flops!  Oh dear God.  The shorts and the flip flops.  Can one ever be truly ready for the shorts and the flip flops?  Friends, these toes are simply not ready for Prime Time.  This caterpillar would like to stay in the cocoon a little bit longer, please.

6.  Warmer days are ahead!  They are.  And before we know it we will all be reduced to a puddle of sweat, enduring heat advisories and sunburns and electric bills that would make a 1%-er cry.  But before that gets here, how about a random weekend of freezing temperatures?  Just to keep things interesting.  It’ll happen right around the time we pull out the shorts and the flip flops and spend the day planting delicate flowers in our yards for growing and blooming.

Spring, I love you.  Spring, I hate you.  But either way, you always make me cry.

 

Advertisements

The Mirror Has Two Faces

“Mirrors should think longer before they reflect.”–Jean Cocteau

About a week and a half ago I sat in a beautiful, crowded church in Atlanta with about 1,500 other women (and roughly 7 men), awaiting the arrival of one of my favorite authors, Glennon Doyle Melton.  A year ago I devoured Glennon’s book, “Carry On, Warrior,” and I regularly follow her posts on social media and her incredibly popular blog, Momastery.com.  I put quite a bit of effort into making it to this speaking engagement.  I arranged for childcare for the day, made sure all my regular duties were covered and drove from Greenville, SC to Atlanta for the program.  All the planning must have had me pretty scattered, as I discovered halfway there that I FORGOT MY FLIPPING WALLET.  But it was ok, because Glennon talks a lot about “sistering,” and I got to be the recipient of that wonderful concept, as my good friend whom I was visiting took care of me for the whole day.

So, here I am sitting in this lovely church, buzzing with polite, well-heeled ladies, and my role model Glennon appears, with her kind and supportive Sister and we all settle in for a listen.  She gives us her story, and it is honest and raw, but she delivers it with the right amount of self-deprecation and wit so as not to fall into a pit of dull seriousness.  It is a masterful balancing act and I want to love her more.  But, to be honest, I was kind of like, “Meh.”  What was going on?!  Why was I not giddy with excitement over this?  I thought to myself, “I mean, she’s good…but…maybe TOO good?  She’s just SO cute, and SO funny, and SO relatable and there are just way too many ‘SOOOO’s’ for me right now.  Hmph.”  I’m still enjoying myself and the talk, but I’m a little deflated.

Then Glennon gets up from the stage and she walks down the aisle toward me in the back of the church (I was raised Baptist and old habits die hard; my comfort zone lies in the back quarter and balconies of all sanctuaries).  She sits down, and looks in my eyes, and begins relating a story about herself.  She said that earlier in her life she had a hard time getting started with her writing, because every time she came across another author with a style similar to her own, she was overcome with the feeling that she could never be as good as that author.  That every time she thought she had created something good, it felt like there was someone else who was doing the same thing, but better.  Why would she put her ideas out there if someone else had already done it?  She went on to talk about the idea that many times women view other women through a mirror.  They look at their peers, they form their assumptions about them and compare them to the assumptions they’ve made about themselves.

OK, so Glennon wasn’t really sitting beside me when she said all this.  But it felt like she was talking DIRECTLY to me.  And I am back to loving her again, because I never really stopped, I just got a little jealous, I think.  And my summary of her ideas barely scratches the surface of what she really said, but I cannot stop thinking about it.  It’s been rolling around in my head since it entered my ears.

I am so, so, so guilty of this, and have been for way too long.  Just before the presentation that night, I went to dinner with a group of ladies, some I was meeting for the first time.  I looked around the table and saw a group of dynamite women.  Successful careers.  Business owners.  Heads of households brimming with children being prepared to be responsible members of society.  Women who are:  Stylish.  Fit and healthy.  Socially conscious.  Funny and kind.  I saw all these things and fully appreciated them!  And then I held up my mirror and saw my own perceived flaws reflected back at me.  A career abandoned.  Subpar creativity.  A curator of unfinished projects.  Often overwhelmed by what some would view as a non-challenging life.  Socially awkward.  And my lipstick was almost certainly too bright.

It took Glennon metaphorically sitting beside me in that church to make me realize how automatic this way of thinking has become to me.  How old was I when I started doing this?  A teen?  A tween?  Long enough that it’s become an automatic response.  “Hi, nice to meet you!  You seem like a lovely person.  I’m maybe, sort of lovely, but I’m also sort of a troll.  Enjoy your evening!”

The fact of the matter is that mirrors are terribly unreliable.  Anyone who has spent any amount of time in dressing room is familiar with the idea of a “skinny” mirror and a “fat” mirror.  And then you have to figure in lighting and angles and all sorts of other factors.  Sometimes I do my makeup in my bathroom and think it looks pretty good.  Then I pull down the visor in my car and open up that mirror and am HORRIFIED.  Almost as bad as accidentally having your cell phone camera turned around to selfie mode.  Almost.

Brows in the bathroom mirror vs. brows in the car mirror.  Eeeek.  Always keep tweezers in the car.

Let’s try to imagine a time before mirrors were all around us.  Before selfies and photo filters.  Back to when the only time people saw their reflections were when they walked down to the river and leaned over for a drink.  What do you think they thought the first few times they saw themselves?  Did they look at that image and think, “What an amazing creature!  What is it?  Look how it moves just like me!  Is it thirsty like me?  Can I get closer to it?  It looks like other creatures I’ve seen, but a little different.  Do the others know about this?”  Or did that person look in the river and think, “Damn.  I look all wavy and wet.  I don’t even want this stupid water.  I’ll just be thirsty.”

I’m going to venture to say that if I’m thinking and writing about this whole mirror thing, and Glennon has dedicated a whole section of her talk about this whole mirror thing, then that must mean we can’t be the only two people out there guilty of this phenomenon.  There are multitudes of us going about our days, interacting with people all while holding up a mirror.  And we’ve been doing it for so long, we don’t even realize all the places we’re holding up our mirrors.  Which leads me to another idea.  Do we sometimes judge another woman based on what we think she thinks of us?

In my role as a homemaker (do you like how politically correct that sounds?), I have the “opportunity to view” (a.k.a. “burden to endure”) my share of daytime television.  The formula of a soap opera relies on misperceptions and miscommunications.  We pity the poor woman who hastily breaks up with the love of her life because she catches him kissing the town harlot.  But actually, he was just giving the harlot mouth-to-mouth while standing up!  But then he’s so wounded that she would break up with him he never explains it to her.  And the town harlot is so vicious and self-serving she would never tell the truth.  It’s a game of near misses and misunderstandings.  And so it is with our mirrors.  We assume that another woman is giving us the once-over and arriving at the conclusion we don’t have our act together, when maybe she’s actually holding up her own mirror and wishing she could have what we have.  Of course, there is the chance that woman IS actually, judging.  Heaven knows there are certainly plenty of judgies out there.  And, by the way, giving someone mouth-to-mouth is not really a thing, so, uh, if your man tries to use that as an excuse, BE SUSPICIOUS.  I don’t want to be naive in my dealings, but I want to adopt an attitude of grace that will keep me from jumping to conclusions.  Sometimes it’s just not about you.

I have no advice on how to combat this whole mirror thing.  I’m just trying to note it.  And maybe by putting it into words I can reinforce my efforts to STOP IT.  I want to look around at all the tables with all the women and see their good qualities and then STOP RIGHT THERE.  It’s not about me, and it’s not about you.  We’re all here for something different.  And the mirror is getting in the way of all the other things there are to see.

I always start these posts with a quote, but for this one I want to end with a quote, too.  It’s from a Jimi Hendrix song, and it’s wildly out of context, but it also sums up all I’m trying to say:

“I used to live in a room full of mirrors; all I could see was me.  I take my spirit and crash my mirrors, now the whole world is here for me to see.”  

 

 

 

 

With Deepest Sympathy

“Sorrow can be alleviated by good sleep, a bath and a glass of wine.”–Thomas Aquinas

Approximately 8-10 times a day, a young man who has barely cleared puberty sings sweetly to me these words:  “Is it too late now to say ‘sorry?’  ‘Cause I know-oh-oh that I let you down.  Is it too late to say ‘sorry’ now?”

Oh, Beibs.  It’s too late for a lot of things, but saying “sorry” is not one of them.  In fact, the constant presence of your question in my car makes me realize how many people in my circle deserve an apology from me for some transgression.  So, taking a cue from Jimmy Fallon’s hilarious Thank You notes (Sorry I’m lifting your idea, Jimmy.  Please sue me so we can meet.) and my natural inclination to say “Sorry” to everyone for everything (sorry, feminists, for reinforcing the terrible habit of women everywhere to apologize for existing) I’ve put together a few heartfelt condolence messages to those people for whom I have sympathy.

I find it so uncomfortable when a person has to get up in front of a lot of other people to try to garner enthusiasm and participation and it just falls flat.  It’s really hard to work a tough crowd, and so my condolences are extended to Group Fitness Instructors.

richard simmons

Dear Group Fitness Instructor,
In times like these I find it difficult to express my condolences in a meaningful phrase. And, actually, during your class, I find it difficult to express much of anything besides the desire to make it through the next 45 minutes of my life without passing out. Please know that I have the utmost admiration for your enthusiasm surrounding getting us all fit and, in other circumstances, I would probably laugh heartily at your jokes and may even take the opportunity during this awesome song to “get funky.” Especially if it were a little darker in here and vodka was involved. But at the moment, I’m having a hard time forgetting the fact that my legs are about to give out and I can’t keep straight all the instructions regarding when I should breathe in and when I should breathe out and how my shoulder blades should be pinched, and keeping my knees over my heels to be able to also give you an enthusiastic “HUH!” on that kick. You’re a good person, you’re good at what you do, and I’m sure it must be very hard to cast your optimism on such an unresponsive crowd. All I can do is be here for you every Tuesday and Thursday at 9:30. It is my sincere prayer that during this difficult time you can find comfort and peace in your flat abs and perfectly sculpted arms.

Sorrowfully yours,

Sweaty, Red-faced Lady in the Back Right Corner

Oh, teachers.  What would we do without you?  So many things for which I’d like to thank and offer condolences.  You all get a virtual flower arrangement from me.  

Dear Teacher of My Child,
The hurt you are feeling by making the decision to give out your personal cell phone number to the class may seem incurable.  And you are probably right.  But each week, each month, each year, the hurt will fade.  And then, one day, you will look up and remember, perhaps with fondness, that time I called you while you were out to dinner with friends to ask the very important question of whether a pond is a body of water or a land formation. The sharing of your cell phone number was a great help to my family at a time when Google failed us. And your succinct answer, given after your realization that this call was indeed happening resulted in making my daughter very happy to know something that her mother did not. I assure you, she has never forgotten it. Not a single detail of it. We relive it often. Please know our thoughts and prayers are with you.  You will move past this, you will be happy again and one day you will look back at all the calls you received and realize how many people cared for you and the crazy ass random facts kids these days are tested on in school.

Call me anytime (you’re in my phone, so I may or may not answer.  Just leave a message and I’ll get back to you, maybe.  Actually it would be better if you text, you know how it is with kids and all that.),

THAT mom

As long as it’s hair TRIMMING, and not hair REMOVAL, a visit to the salon is my most favorite thing ever.  But I can only imagine the despair people in the beauty business experience when faced with the lump of clay that believes the right defrizzing cream can turn them into a gorgeous vase filled with beautiful flowers.  I’m making you a casserole for your freezer as soon as I can.  

julia in the beauty chair

Dear Sweet Hairdresser,
I am so sorry you are having to go through such a horrible ordeal.  I wish there was some magic spell I could do to relieve you of the pain you must feel every time I come to your salon clutching a picture of  Carrie Underwood, Kelly Ripa, or “that cute girl on that show?  You know the one?  The one with that cute haircut!  You know who I mean.”.  Whenever, however, with whoever you feel most comfortable with, talk, cry and allow yourself to grieve that Pinterest was invented and people like me think that all you need is inspiration from my smartphone to turn me into a supermodel.  My condolences on this hard day that is upon us, a time we have to say goodbye to dreams of hair the good Lord did not see fit to give to me to have and for you to work with.  Please know that I know you are doing the best you can, and your efforts are appreciated.  How you find so many kind ways to say, “You are not Jennifer Aniston and I am not Chris McMillan” is truly an amazement.  Your gentle words of encouragement every 6 weeks are uplifting to me and I am sure many others, and I can only hope to return the favor in some small way.

Thoughts and prayers to you,
Hausfrau Who Should Probably Just Get a Wig and Be Done with It

 

Well, since I’m all out of virtual stationery at the moment, let’s go ahead and wrap this up.  I offer my sincerest condolences to any of you dear readers who have to put up with situations like these in your every day lives.  Just know that I’m here for you and call me if you need ANYTHING.  As long as it’s not super labor-intensive or terribly inconvenient for me, I’ll be somewhat content to help you get through this.  Good talk.

 

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑