Beneath the Surface – the Past always Catches Up with you

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Bill Cosby’s arraignment for “aggravated indecent assault” i.e. multiple rapes and alleged rapes has shocked the nation; especially his long-time fans and admirers.

Cosby represented the all-American family and basic goodness. He made us laugh. He made us smile at our own foibles in parenting.

His story reminds me of a similar one about a former cop who got arrested for child porn and spousal abuse.  Known for protecting others, he couldn’t protect his own or himself.

And what about the neighbor’s husband who ends up in the headlines, after his death, for his reputation as a pervert and philanderer. When the grieving wife settled his affairs, she discovered letters and other evidence of his misdeeds in his desk; confirming what she suspected, but could not prove. She continued to find the tell-tale signs of his indiscretions long after he was gone.

The past always catches up with you. Some people manage to keep the surface of their lives smooth and unfettered, but deep within is a raging sea. What triggers these unexplained blips that appear in an otherwise normal existence?  Is it a controlling environment and too much stress? Or simply a need to indulge a secret and a hidden piece of life that no one else has access to?

My husband and I share an office which I’m discovering is a big mistake. He sits right behind me. While I’m trying to create, he reads his emails and laughs out loud. At other times, he shares his mail or what’s off the top of his head. When my children were young, I learned to continue regardless of the interruptions or noise. But as I’ve grown older, I’m finding the ability to focus is more difficult.

I usually head for my desk when I wish to write or catch up with things. To do this requires concentration and imagination. My husband follows me like a puppy dog into the office. I should feel flattered that he likes my companionship, but my irritation sometimes boils over in unflattering ways.

I go to the office when I want a moment of communion with my higher force and muse. The other day I listened to some Christmas music from “Child of the promise” a musical production written and arranged by Michael & Stormie Omartian in the year 2000.

The solos by Elizabeth and Mary fill me with joy and allow me to worship in a way that is only possible with music. Of course, that brought protests from my husband, who looked upon it as an intrusion  into his space, even though I was there first to be alone. He views the office as his and his alone.

God gifted me as a writer and an artist. So why then did I have a large family and demanding spouses?  Alone time has always been rare and difficult to find.

I had friends who were writers that found a means to create. One put a hair dryer on her head and concocted stories in a whirl of white noise? Another friend locked herself in the bathroom so she could think and pound out her thoughts without being disturbed.

I used to create on my daily walks. My husband would jog ahead and I’d commune with nature and create subject matter. Sometimes I’d use this time to pray and converse with my higher power and muse. Now he no longer jogs, but walks beside me, usually expounding upon some political angst or philosophy. He uses me as his sounding board and silent companion. I end up feeling frustrated for lack of two-way conversation or the “space” I so desperately need.

Sometimes I lose my cool. And sometimes he does, too. When you’re with someone 24/7 you have to make space in order to survive. If you can relate, be sure to define the times and places where you need a quiet spot for down time. If you fail to do this, don’t be surprised if you end up in a screaming match wondering what just happened.

Those Awkward Moments – Filling in the Gaps

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A Joyful Heart, 11 x 14 pastel

A Joyful Heart, 11 x 14 pastel

Some things, if repeated often enough, catch on. Take the word “awkward” said in a sing song voice after someone puts their foot in their mouth or there’s a lapse in conversation.

It happens to all of us. When my husband and I were dating, he’d fill in those silent spaces by saying: “Yup, yup, yup.” I tease him about it now; but obviously, when we were getting to know each other, he felt uneasy when there was a “pregnant pause” between our exchanges.

I’m a writer and an artist by trade so I’m better on paper and canvas than in verbal discussions where the bold and the loud hold sway. Maturity and life hurdles have given me muster, but essentially “chit chat” is not one of my strong suits.

Once I bumped into a mirrored pillar in a department store and said “excuse me.” When I looked up and saw that the open-mouthed face staring back was mine, I laughed in surprise. It’s healthy to laugh at yourself. When things go wrong seeing the humor can soften a bad situation.

Like the time my teenaged boyfriend walked me home from school and the elastic around my waist band snapped. I felt my slip crumple to the ground. Hey, at least it wasn’t panties! I stepped out of the slip, rolled it in a ball and carried it under my arm as we walked home. Nothing to fret about. Just another reason to make light of an embarrassing scene.

"Kindred Spirits" 30 x 24 mixed media on canvas

“Kindred Spirits” 30 x 24 mixed media on canvas

Another time I wore my skirt inside out to a meeting. I didn’t notice until half-way through the speaker’s message, and then I turned three shades of red thinking that the frayed seams and ragged hemline announced my stupidity. A quick trip to the girl’s room fixed my dilemma before any fuss could be made of it.

Waiters and waitresses are notorious for being on the receiving end of complaints by getting skimpy tips and insults. A waitress once spilled a glass of soda into my lap and apologized profusely. I could tell by her body language and facial expression that she expected an irate tongue lashing. When I smiled and said, “Everyone makes mistakes,” she breathed a sigh of relief. How could I not forgive her when I’m a klutz myself by nature?

On the news recently, someone pulled out a gun and shot someone for spilling a cocktail on his expensive suit. Many people take offense at far less than this. The world is turning into a population of whiny, short-tempered egoists who want their lives to progress without any problems. Pity the person who gets in their way.

Awkwardness is part of growing up, for Heaven’s sake; a stage of life prone to accidents. Arms and legs grow faster than we know how to use them. One day we’re short people with the perspective of a pup, and before we know it we’re towering over our parents but still under their rule and command. This odd time needs to be handled with patience and good humor.

"Shimmy Shake" 11 x 14 acrylic in black box frame

“Shimmy Shake” 11 x 14 acrylic in red box frame

My first marriage died from lack of humor. When you can’t laugh at yourself, or you resent other people teasing you or playfully trying to ease you out of a bad moment, you’ve got a compatibility problem.

Irritable, touchy people hate it when you try to cheer them up. They’re afraid that if they laugh or give into humor they might lose control and compromise their dictatorship.

Shouting from behind may get people to move, but real leadership beckons from the front with words of encouragement that say: “You can do it! Come on – follow me; I’ll show you how. Let’s do it together.”

Patience and kindness can bridge those awkward times we find ourselves in. No one has a “right” to make other people miserable or to constantly demand his or her own way. Relationships require that both parties get something out of it. Unpleasant personal encounters and dealings with other people should always be courteous and respectful, period!

"And All that Jazz" 11 x 14 acrylic in red box frame

“And All that Jazz” 11 x 14 acrylic in red box frame