Posted in Life As I Know It

It’s More Than Okay to Be Silly

The Stache Stands Alone.
The Stache stands alone.

Sometimes teachable moments come with wigs and fake mustaches.

For those of you who know me personally, it may come as a surprise when I say that up until this weekend, I’m pretty sure my husband and I hadn’t yet mortally embarrassed our son, Tony. Sure, there’s been lots of “Mom, would you please stop (dancing, singing, being generally goofy, etc.)??” After all, I am me. But this weekend brought a little more significant mortification potential.

A dear friend’s birthday party was also a costume party, and Mike and I knew it was our calling to attend as the 80s pop duo Hall and Oates. The look came together pretty nicely and included a mullet wig for Mike/Hall and a black, curly wig for me/Oates.

Mike grew some sideburn chops for his look, and with a little coloring help, they blended right into his mullet that was fanned out into a coif of 80s glory. Daryl would be proud.

I'm Oates.
I’m Oates.

My Oates wig could also serve as the wig Jan Brady wore in her attempt to get noticed over Marcia in the Brady Bunch movie parody, as well as Groucho Marx or Mr. Kotter (at least that was the word on the street). To complete the rockin’ look, I sported a groovy ‘stache (see above) that just may have looked like a newly born puppy snuggling on my upper lip.

We looked authentic, as some people might say. Others…might say other things.

Since the party was a surprise (and kids were included), we kept our son out of the loop so he wouldn’t spill the beans, and when we did finally explain, he was apprehensively excited. “You’re going to wear those?” While he thought it was very funny, he also had the nervous laugh of someone who didn’t know if he should run away from home now or later.

When we donned the full look and got into the car to go to the party, Tony’s mortification settled in. He was wearing his Halloween costume which, though it was a biker skeleton dude, was still much subtler than his parents. We all enjoyed pulling up to stoplights and seeing people notice us, but the idea that people we knew and loved were going to see us making fools of ourselves was unsettling to him.

We reassured him that it was going to be better than all right—it was going to be downright fun. Over the course of the ride, he accepted that he was going to live through whatever the night might bring.

He is our kid, after all, and he does have a very big silly bone. But he is also at that stage of weighing what other people think and deciding how much all that matters—and sometimes that doesn’t make it easy to embrace your inner silly.

At the party, there were people in varying degrees of costume—some full blown participants and others who had a little something on in the spirit of things. I think I’m safe in saying most people were amused at our look. From the bad hair to the increasingly moist ‘stache (how do you mustache-wearers eat and drink with that thing?!?!), there were lots of giggles to be had. Let’s just say Hall and Oates kissed a few times. Let’s just say it was weird.

Over the course of the night, Tony went from being embarrassed to wanting to wear my mustache and wig.  He realized that it was more than okay to be silly—it was a whole lot of fun. Fun for us and fun for others. Sometimes you just gotta let your hair down. Or your fro out, so to speak.

I hope the lesson sticks for him, but I know it will be a lifelong journey of knowing that it’s okay to let the silly out. Luckily, he’s got a mom and dad who can be pretty serious about being silly.

The wigs are put away for now, but they can be ready at a moment’s notice…

Posted in Life As I Know It

And Then There Were 52

know nothingThis is my 52nd post. Not quite exactly a year ago, I started this little blog. By “started,” I mean actually committed to writing it. It existed in other incarnations for…years. But a year ago, I told myself that I was going to post every Monday, and I have lived up to that internal promise. I’m glad for that. Continue reading “And Then There Were 52”

Posted in Life As I Know It

The Be All and End All

Go ahead and pull for HOURS of fun!
Go ahead and pull for HOURS of fun!

Stretch Armstrong had his 15 minutes of fame when I was a kid. He was a rubber doll whose claim to that fame was his elasticity. You could stretch him to extremes and he would eventually revert back to his six-pack abs self. I didn’t actually own one, but a friend of mine did. It didn’t take us long to decide—along with probably every other kid who owned one—that we would see if we could stretch poor old Stretch beyond his limits.

It didn’t take long till we met with success.

And you know what lurked inside Mr. Armstrong? Jelly. Well, I don’t know what the official substance was inside of him, but it was certainly jelly-like. It oozed. Poor old Stretch wasn’t invincible after all.

Over the years, I’ve found myself relating to Stretch—I’m sure you can relate, too. The pulling and tugging of life in many different directions leaves me ready to ooze all too often. Of course, if being stretched thin meant I actually was thin, I might be better able to deal with it, but…it really means that I may be one tug away from seeping jelly.

I know I fall into the trap of thinking that if I am not everything to everybody, I will let people down. People I love and care about. And who wants to do that? But if you think about it, not only is this a ridiculous way of thinking, it’s actually a bit prideful. Am I really that awesome that I can do everything for everyone? Pretty heady, don’t you think?

The origin of the phrase “be all and end all” is attributed to Shakespeare’s Macbeth, and it has come to mean that if you are the “be all and end all” of something, you are the ultimate—there is no need to look further. Well, if you know anything about dear ol’ Macbeth, things didn’t turn out exactly as he had planned.

In fact, his thinking that he had to be the Be All was his End All.

No, I'm good. Really--I'm good.
No, I’m good. Really–I’m good.

And letting myself be Stretch Armstrong can be my End All, too. While I’m not hoping to assume the Scottish throne, I must come to terms with reality: I am not a superhero. Elastigirl resides elsewhere.

And that is okay.

And for every other person who is being yanked and pulled and tugged…it’s okay for you, too.

This means that occasionally, the word “no” should come out of our mouths in order to make our load more manageable. This means that sometimes people will be unhappy with us because we were not able to do something for them. This means that it is okay to lie down and take a nap when we need one. This means that pancakes for dinner can be an absolutely fine choice when it helps you survive the day’s schedule. This means…that you have permission to give yourself some grace and fall short of what you had hoped to accomplish for the day.

This means you can let yourself off the perfection hook that is a big, fat lie anyway. (More on that another day.)

Maybe what we should do with our Stretch Armstrong bodies is give ourselves a hug—because we could sure use one. Well, now that I think about it, that would look pretty weird. After all, we don’t want to look like we’re making out with ourselves. People would talk.

Maybe instead we should just lighten up and remember that we’re doing the best we can—even when it’s a far cry from where we really want to be. Because being the “be all and end all” isn’t the be all and end all after all.

Posted in Bits & Pieces

Garage Assail

GarageSale“This is the last time I’m having a garage sale!” has come out of my mouth at least a half dozen times, but…this time I mean it. For real. Seriously. The whole process is loathsome to me, and…I’m done.

You would be correct if you are assuming I had a garage sale this past weekend.

Yes, we made a few bucks at a time when it really comes in handy, but…it was indeed my swan song.

What about garage sales do I find dreadful? Well, it’s a bit of an anxiety trigger for me, I admit. One issue being that every sale before this last one, I have had the joy of dealing with a mom who argues with people about what excellent quality her things are and what she paid for the items when she bought them retail. She reminds me of Rocky Balboa in the corner of the boxing ring crying out, “Cut me, Mick!” so she can get back in the ring and remind the person who was looking at a toaster that “they don’t make them like that anymore,” and then proceed to explain that the toast that comes out of said toaster is delectable.

Let’s just say that my mom isn’t cut out for garage sales. And…neither am I, I realize.

Not for the same reasons, though. For me, it’s the overwhelm of culling through the stuff, hauling, setting up, closing up, setting up again, tearing down, boxing up, and giving away gsalethat is what I am pretty sure I can live without from here to eternity. With my mom laying low on this one, I thought I may have a better time, but the stress of getting “open” our first morning manifested itself in my being less than pleasant, and that’s when I realized that maybe it’s best that I live up to my vow to skirt future sales.

I chose not to mark prices on anything and just go with whatever came out of my mouth when people asked. The main goal of the sale was to purge a lot of “treasures” that had accumulated over time and were really just taking up space. I told myself that people were paying me to lighten my load to the Salvation Army drop-off. And I got rid of a mountain of stuff and made scores of people smile as they heard my pricing.

But that doesn’t mean I accepted everything. While I totally get that some people really like to bargain for their finds, I am not a fan of someone trying to quibble over something marked 25¢. Especially when it’s something for which I should legitimately have asked much more.

Perhaps that is why I decided to stand on principle with the little man that wanted this beautiful blanket for 50¢ when I had asked him for only a dollar. Even when he tried to explain to me that since he was a little man he only wanted to pay a little for the blanket, I smiled and told him, “No…I’m pretty set with the dollar.” He smiled back but didn’t seem to register what I was telling him. It may sound terrible, but in our haggle tango, I was not ready to succumb to his charm. Perhaps it was because he had shown me his wad of money when I had to break his twenty dollar bill so he could pay 25¢ for something else.

He came back later that day, and my husband saw him the next day, too. I admired his tenacity, and had he shown up at closing, I would have simply given him the darn thing (which no one else had asked about) to reward his persistence. But for whatever reason, I chose to stand my ground with him. Mom should be so proud.

Garage sales bring me to an obvious assessment: people are crazy. From the ones that don’t even turn their cars off because they are sweeping in and out looking for a specific something to those that spend loads of time debating whether to buy a decent dresser for a mere $3, it takes all kinds—and we are clearly a nation of overabundance. My dad used to say “one man’s junk is another man’s treasure,” and that is certainly true in the garage sale world. I can’t believe how much, well—junk—left our house this past weekend. I hope our buyers are enjoying their new treasures.

When the last of the leftovers was packed away, we were exhausted but lighter. There was a definite satisfaction in having survived yet another sale. Our last sale. I mean it. Quit smirking—I’m serious.

Posted in Life As I Know It

Embrace the Wedgie

A few years back the family headed up to Wisconsin Dells for one of those intense indoor waterpark experiences in the dead of winter. The kind where it doesn’t matter if it’s 356 degrees below zero outside because you’re in a climate controlled indoor experience that is nice and warm (though the humidity is approximately 172%).

Humidity aside, it is a great time to go down many crazy, zig-zaggy water slides and have some sopping wet fun. Me being the practical (aka miserly) girl I am, I didn’t want to wear my good swimsuit to go down all the slides. After all—I might wreck it—and where would that leave me come summer? (I know many women are shouting, “At the mall with a great reason to get a new suit!” but I find shopping for swimsuits about as desirable as eating my own hair, coughing it up, and eating it all over again. Too graphic? Maybe, but I think you better understand my feelings on swimsuit shopping.)

There was just one problem with my thrifty plan: the elastic had up and died in my old suit. Luckily I brought a pair of swim shorts to go over the suit (hey—I never claimed to be a fashion maven), but this did not solve the problem. While the shorts offered coverage, the exhausted elastic meant that every time I went down a slide (or pretty much did anything), the suit gave me a nice little wedgie.

I grew somewhat adept at demurely fixing the wedgie each time my suit scurried its way north, but it was a constant nag on my swimtastic experience, and it was really dampening my spirit.

And then I had an a-ha moment.

I realized I needed to embrace the wedgie.

Sometimes all you can do is hang in there as best as you can.
Sometimes all you can do is hang in there as best as you can.

You see, I was fighting it because I knew it wasn’t supposed to be—but what if I accepted it as reality and embraced it? What if I told myself that the wedgie was supposed to be there? It was in this moment that I realized that embracing the wedgie meant that I needed to stop fighting physics and work with it instead.

Granted, this took some getting used to, but from the moment I told myself “let it stay—this is my new normal” I felt a bit of a shift in dynamics (as well as my wardrobe). I owned that wedgie, and that made it less annoying.

When our time there was up, I gladly threw the suit in the garbage, but I didn’t forget the lesson. There are experiences in life where what is happening is not ideal but also inescapable for that span of time. I can fight against it and maybe have a moment’s relief, but the annoyance will be all the more frustrating the second it returns. Or…I can accept it for what it is—a “life wedgie” that I need to put up with for a while, and by doing so, lessen the nagging irritation.

And there you have the simple moral of the story, my friends: sometimes you need to embrace the wedgie in order to have as much joy as you can flying down the water slides of life.

Posted in Wit's End

The Monotone Masseur


Want to send me into LaLaLand? Rub my feet. Or at least give me a gift to have someone else rub my feet. And so it was that I was headed toward my second foot massage the other day, as I had been fortunate enough to receive two “foot reflexology and massage” gift certificates for Christmas.

I went for my first one a few weeks ago, and though it was different than I expected (more body massage than foot), it was still quite delightful. It was an interesting little setup, with these Lazy-Boy type chairs that recline to fully horizontal. Throw in the fake fire “burning” on the big screen TV, a little ethereal mood music, and I was game. The young woman who took care of me did a lovely job and I actually had my mind taken off of things for a while.

Then there was my second massage.

The first time I went, I was the only person in the large room of about 10 chairs. This time, there was another woman off to the corner…with a guy massaging her. A guy? The thought hadn’t crossed my mind that there would be masseurs, as well as masseuses (yes, I’m all about the proper massage therapy terminology). Hmmm…that would be a little weird, I thought to myself. No guy besides my husband has ventured to lay hands on me in that way for eons. I just closed my eyes and tried to relax.

I heard this low, monotone voice say, “Hi. I’m Patrick,” and I opened my eyes to see a young 20-something set down the soak bucket in front of me. He did not sound unlike Patrick Star from SpongeBob. In fact, if there was a line-up of guys you would think least likely to be a masseur, his number would be called again and again. “This should be interesting,” I thought.

While my feet soaked and got less “footy,” Patrick started on my head and shoulders. “Let me know if you want more or less pressure,” he droned. Now, for whatever reason, I never like to tell someone who is giving me a massage to go easier—some sort of twisted sense of pride? Whatever it is, it’s stupid. Patrick started in on my neck, which is a big ball of tension, and I thought, hey, this may be okay…then he moved to my scalp. I didn’t know if he was breaking off strands of hair or simply ripping them out from the follicles, but…wow. The noise inside my head sounded like a mob of angry crickets. But I took it, dammit.

By the time he moved to my arms, I was fairly certain he was making it up as he went along. He seemed to be trying to relocate my never-been-dislocated shoulder. I figured maybe he was stretching out my socket. Then he did some sort of weird finger tap dance up and down my arm. I swallowed a giggle and wondered if I was on Candid Camera. But when he moved over to my other arm and did the exact same thing, I realized he was either a very good remember-er or there was a method to his madness. Slowly but not-so-surely he made his way down to my feet. His technique of pat, press, and poke made me wonder just what sort of massage school he had attended, but I hung in there.

He could be perceptive, though—as when he asked, “Too hard?” after he pushed into the arch of my foot so deeply I was certain my spleen had exploded. (I’m no expert in reflexology, but I’m pretty sure he killed my spleen in that moment.) Perhaps it was the convulsive movement that mimicked being electrocuted that hinted to him that he had been a bit too firm.

At some point, it became all about survival. After the foot portion of the rub, it moved to my back, with the chair fully reclining, and me on my stomach. Talk about feeling vulnerable…with my gluteus MAXimus at the mercy of “Hi. I’m Patrick.” The poking, pressing, and prodding continued.

I realized I was now much tenser than when I first sat down. My claustrophobic self was just concentrating on breathing (the little “face ring” that is supposed to allow a person to breath easily never quite does the trick for me). I may have even promised God that if I survived this I would strive to be a better person.

To add to the ambiance, the woman in the corner was now making odd grunting and moaning noises. I wasn’t sure if she needed help or a cigarette. Just as I was concentrating on ignoring her animalistic noises, Patrick took me by surprise and bent my recently operated on knee back beyond its acceptable range of motion. It was at that point that I overcame my “massage machismo” and nearly barked, “No!” I think I stunned him, but he was a good listener. He didn’t even try the other knee, and I wasn’t going to remind him, either.

By the end, I briefly entertained the idea of asking the receptionist for my “I Survived Patrick” t-shirt. Instead, I’ll make sure to request the woman from my first visit. In fact, I may need to schedule that soon, since I still haven’t untangled myself from Patrick’s masterpiece.