Multi-tasking

How often do you manage more than one thing at a time? I can handle two things at once if I have to—talking on the phone and fixing dinner, watching television and folding laundry. But, that’s about my limit.

What if I told you, you had to think about ten things at once?

First, you’d have to stand up really straight and, no matter what else you were doing, you’d have to maintain that posture. Second, you’d have to remember never to look down—you must always keep your head up.

Third, you’d have to learn to count music. Fourth, you’d have to memorize a series of foot, arm, and head movements. Fifth, you’d have to sync those movements with the music. (Wait, are you still standing up straight? Why are you looking at the floor?)

Sixth—for women, you’d be in high heels and moving backwards—oh, wait, did I forget to mention, you have to do this with a partner? You see he gets to go forward, but don’t get too comfortable, guys. You men have to lead your partners using only your feet, body, and hands—no talking, okay?

The seventh thing to think about is that when it’s time to perform, you can’t let the 18 cameras rolling around distract you. Number 8 on the list is ignoring the four people staring at you from behind the raised dais. Trust me, their constructive criticism is only meant to help you.

That brings us to number 9—you have to make sure there’s a lot of chemistry between you and your partner. Should be easy—you will have known each other at least week.

One final thing (number 10)—by the time you hear the announcer say, “It’s time for Dancing With The Stars!” it will be too late to go to the bathroom, so don’t wait until the last minute!

 

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Flexibility

 

Burk and my daughter Jolie (a few years ago)

When my son was about twelve, I dropped him off at the hair salon for a haircut. About ten minutes later, our stylist called me. “Uh, Lynn, Burk says he wants me to cut his girlfriend’s initials into the hair on the side of his head. He says it’s okay with you—are you sure?”

Is it crazy that I was? When Burk had asked me if it was okay, all I could think was—“he’s not having anything pierced, he’s not getting a permanent tattoo, he’s not smoking anything or cooking drugs in the garage—why shouldn’t I let him do this?” And, more importantly, what would he learn if I told him “no”? That I didn’t respect his ideas? Or that I was more concerned with other people’s opinions than I was with his feelings?

I don’t take credit for the confident, sensitive man he grew into—it’s just who he is, but I did try to make choices that supported his confidence and encouraged his sensitivity.

So when you’re taking your nine-year old granddaughter to her first Broadway play and she insists on wearing jeans instead of the cute dress you bought for her, don’t argue and get frustrated. Remember that although she’s only nine, her opinions matter. Then, smile and hug her and tell her she’s beautiful no matter what she wears.

And when your ninety-one year old father wants to eat toast and ice cream for dinner, don’t tell him he should have something healthier. Remember that although he’s getting old, his opinions should still matter. Then put the grilled chicken away, drop some bread in the toaster, grab a couple of bowls, and dish up some Blue Bell Homemade Vanilla.

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These days I don’t get to vote on his hairstyle, but he makes really good choices!

Because, my friend, hair grows back and nine-year olds look really cute in jeans and every once in awhile we should probably all have toast and ice cream for dinner.

No Wings, No Harp, No Halo? No problem!

 

Did you know that angels don’t always have wings? I can tell you a story that proves it.

While my mother was alive, my father was our favorite entertainment. He made up words and sang silly songs. He laughed himself to tears with his own bad jokes. But when my mother died, his laughter seemed to die with her.

A few months after her death he had heart surgery. We were very worried about him—he was 78 and depressed. Can you imagine our surprise when, only a few days after surgery, he was smiling and laughing more than he had since my mother’s memorial service?

It wasn’t until a few weeks after he was released from the hospital that we found out that he’d had been doing more than recovering during his hospital stay.

We found out, in fact, that while he was in the hospital, he had been “courting” his very attractive (20 years younger!) nurse, Gail. He told us that, at first, she had refused several of his invitations. Poor Gail, we could have told her that was futile. My dad (AKA Prince Charming) was, when he wanted something, irresistible.

Less than six months later, she accepted his proposal and they were married. With Gail by his side, Dad smiled and laughed and his blue eyes danced with joy and mischief.

Gail challenged him with her quick wit and sharp mind. She learned to play golf, although tennis was her game.  She adopted his friends, and embraced his chaotic, slightly crazy family.

And, in his nineties, when his balance began to fail, she walked next to him and held him up. She cut out newspaper articles for him to read and found television shows for them to watch. She invited his friends and family for dinner.

She never stopped encouraging him. She never stopped loving him, and, when he was with her, he was always smiling.

Maybe some angels have wings, but I can assure you that at least one of them has red hair and the most generous spirit I’ve ever known.

Dad and Gail

 

 

Flexibility

When my son was about twelve, I dropped him off at the hair salon for a haircut. About ten minutes later, our stylist called me. “Uh, Lynn, Burk says he wants me to cut his girlfriend’s initials into the hair on the side of his head. He says it’s okay with you—are you sure?”

Is it crazy that I was? When Burk had asked me if it was okay, all I could think was—“he’s not having anything pierced, he’s not getting a permanent tattoo, he’s not smoking anything or cooking drugs in the garage—why shouldn’t I let him do this?” And, more importantly, what would he learn if I told him “no”? That I didn’t respect his ideas? Or that I was more concerned with other people’s opinions than I was with his feelings?

I don’t take credit for the confident, sensitive man he grew into—it’s just who he is, but I did try to make choices that supported his confidence and encouraged his sensitivity.

So when you’re taking your nine-year old granddaughter to her first Broadway play and she insists on wearing jeans instead of the cute dress you bought for her, don’t argue and get frustrated. Remember that although she’s only nine, her opinions matter. Then, smile and hug her and tell her she’s beautiful no matter what she wears.

 

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(These days he doesn’t ask my opinion about his hair cuts!)

My Favorite Authors Part 2

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Dorothea Benton Frank—Ms. Frank’s novels are as southern as buttermilk biscuits and black-eyed peas and just as delicious.  Many of her heroines are over fifty (thank you Ms. Frank!) but they are far from old.  They are funny and active and delightful.  They struggle with whether it’s okay to have a boyfriend when you are no longer young enough to be a girl and he is no longer young enough to be a boy.  I settle into her books the way I settle into a comfortable chair in front of the fireplace when it’s cold outside.

Elizabeth Berg—the first novel I read by Ms. Berg was Talk Before Sleep, but I should warn you not to start reading this amazing little book if you need to go to sleep!  Since then I’ve read everything she’s ever published, and I have NEVER been disappointed.  Ms. Berg’s stories remind me of the tiny Halcyon pillboxes my mother used to collect—works of art so carefully and precisely rendered that a world can be held in the palm of your hand.

Susanna Kearsley—I only recently discovered Ms. Kearsley and am so very happy I did.  Historical fiction meets fantasy meets romance—ahhhh, there just aren’t enough of them!  Please Ms. Kearsley, write more!

Katherine Reay—another recent discovery—thank you Goodreads for helping me find new authors.  So far I’ve only read Dear Mr. Knightley, but I was enchanted by the quirky heroine.  Samantha Moore uses the language of Jane Austen heroines with an ease I envy, and Ms. Reay taunted me with glimpses of the true character behind those Jane and Emma and Marianne quotes until I was tempted to skip ahead just to ease my own anxiety!

Now my dear readers,

I hope you’re beginning to understand how MUCH I love a good novel.  Please, please tell me about some of your favorites!