Is That Lucky Charms In Your Pocket Or Are You Just Having Breakfast?

I am reading a book and its main character, a woman in her thirties, often flashes back to her teen years. During those remembrances, she speaks of a good luck charm she always carried with her, the chamois bag that held it safety pinned inside her pants. At night, it lay under her pillow.

At first it seems like a childish thing to do, but upon further reflection, don’t we all armor ourselves as adults with items that give us comfort and confidence? Clothing, jewelry, a purse, photographs; I have even heard the ever-present water bottle compared to a baby bottle, a security blanket of sorts. And who among us is not tethered to our phones like a lifeline or talisman?

But what about the more unconventional options? Is there an item you would attach to the inside of your big girl/big boy pants right now if you knew it would not be discovered? Is there an object that would bolster you and make you feel less alone in the big, bad world? I have given it considerable thought since learning of the girl’s practice and I can’t think of anything I would want with me other than the acceptable grown-up accoutrements listed above. We are so conditioned to make it “on our own” that it’s difficult to remember a time when we allowed ourselves a little help, even if just an illusion.

As I continue on with the book I will revisit the question and, honestly, I hope I come up with something. Life is hard and I am all for giving myself extra protection from its daily challenges. I certainly don’t need more junk in my trunk, but I will gladly find a place in my pants for a boost of courage to find my place in this world.


A Contact Hi

While cleaning out the bathroom closet, I came across a box that I instantly recognized. It held a few pairs of contacts, the last of their kind that I had never gotten to wear once my sight became impaired. They had a long expiration date on them at the time, so I kept them in the hopes that I could some day use them. But their shelf life has run out; the saline solution they were packaged in has dried up and the once round discs are now shrunken and shriveled. I had a moment where I wondered if I could still pop them in without thinking or looking like I used to and had they not been passed their use-by date I may have tried.

It was a strange feeling to hold the familiar box and its contents, which also included a travel kit and plastic contact cases. Putting “my eyes in” every morning for twenty-five years was mindless, as routine as washing my face and brushing my teeth. It is one of so many things that came to an abrupt halt that morning when I woke up to total darkness.

No matter how organized or diligent you are about clutter and cleaning out closets and other storage spaces, the vestiges of your life can still appear and surprise you. When I reached to the back of the shelf and put my hand on the box, I knew immediately what it was just by feel. I dropped it as if it had burned my hand. It hadn’t, of course, but it did shock my head and my heart. It’s still difficult emotionally to remember what once was, let alone be reminded of something so foreign to your life now that you had forgotten it, even though it was something you did every single day. But there is a sense of pride?, relief? that I hadn’t thought about having imperfect sight that could be corrected with glasses and contacts. As each day passed and it grew closer to the month and year stamped on each sleeve, this daily ritual faded further and further away from my new reality. When you live with the relics of a different life inside you, discovering one that isn’t shows real progress. Though never worn, these lenses allowed me to see things clearly one last time.


Would You Pass On The Past?

I was talking with someone the other day who is dealing with a new loss. They told me they had read somewhere to ask yourself the following question to help put things into perspective. I will use my mom’s death and my vision loss to demonstrate:

If I knew I would have just 47 years with my mom and just 47 years of full eyesight, would I say “no thanks” and not have had them at all?

The answer, of course, is no. My second thought, if I remove the emotion, is that 47 years is a long time. But when you love someone, even an entire lifetime is not enough. And as for a physical ability, living without one now I would have to say the same thing. Not. Enough.

It is the Circle of Life that we should lose our parents but I have found it to be incredibly difficult and dare I say, unacceptable. The moment Mom took her last breath I could not conceive of living the rest of my life without her. As for my vision, there was no precedent for waking up blind nor warning. I am grateful to have seen so much before that morning, but I have thought, on occasion, how different my experience would have been had I been born legally blind versus knowing what I’ve lost.

I don’t know if this way of looking at what you have lost is helpful but I thought I would share it. Just like our grief, the healing process is unique to all of us. What connects us, though, is that life goes on after loss, no matter how many years you had, have passed or it has taken for us not to miss what is gone so much you can hardly breathe. Whatever your time variables, maybe this question will offer you a new point of view. Forty-seven years was not enough for me. But if this post offers comfort to just one, that will be enough.


What Would You Attempt If You Knew You Would Fail?

My nephew qualified for the next round of a home run hitting contest and my husband and I went to cheer him on. He’s a good ball player but he is not ever going to be the next Hank Aaron. He knows it, his parents know it, his biggest fans, his aunt and uncle, know it and going into this competition expectations were low all around. My husband and I talked about this while sitting in the stands, away from the rest of the crowd.

“Do you think he’s nervous?,” I asked. “No, I don’t think so,”, my husband replied. “He’s so used to playing in front of people and is comfortable on the field and at the plate,”, I confirmed. “He knows he’s not going to win so the pressure’s off. I guess that’s a good thing,”, my husband added.

“Or is it?,” I challenged. “You never know, anything could happen. Every time we watch The Amazing Race, teams think they’ll be eliminated because they’re so far behind, only to find out it’s a non-elimination leg or another team has lost their clue and can’t check in at the mat and the behind team remains in the race.”

Yes, I am referencing a reality competition show in a philosophical discussion. You’re lucky I’m not quoting housewives. It doesn’t change the question: If we think we don’t have a chance, do we not try, or does it give us permission to be loose and not anxious and, therefore, be able to perform at our highest level? Or, on the other hand, does expecting to lose become the only possible reason we cannot win?

Perspective is everything, said the legally blind woman. In the case of my 12-year-old nephew, I think he knew what he was up against and it was a black and white issue for him. At his age, boys can be under 5’ tall or over 5’ 7”, with a weight difference of over 50 lbs. As adults, we see the same obvious disparity but we also know that so many other factors can play into success and failure. And yet, even we felt less than confident about his chances.

We, however, were not the ones at the plate. And no matter how big or loud your cheering section is, when you come up to bat it’s all you. You can believe in yourself despite the odds. You can know what you’re facing and decide to relax into it and take your stance on a cloudy, drizzly, less humid summer morning. The third option is a combo: show up and approach the unlikelihood of your coming in first wearing nothing but your spikes and your defeat / don’t even show up at the ball field because you figure what’s the point?

I don’t know what was in my nephew’s head as he waited on deck and then stepped into the batter’s box to take his ten swings. Whether it was option one or two I will never know. But it wasn’t option three and I can only hope that that’s the one he never chooses, as life reveals its blurred lines and gray areas to him. After all, option three does not get you French toast with your aunt and uncle after the trophies are handed out. And my nephew, well, he loves French toast.


Fortunate Son

Upon finding out that I have a bird, the first thing people ask is, “Does he talk?” This always bothers me because there is so much more to Piper and his brethren in feathers than their being able to speak our language. After receiving this fortune in my cookie, my standard response to this question moving forward will be, “Would you want yours to?”


Write Brain, Left Brain

Although no longer in corporate America, many of the behaviors I employed during that chapter of my life are still a part of my daily routine. Truth be told, they have been with me since childhood: to-do lists, self-imposed deadlines, planning and organizing.

What I have found, however, is that my work these days is of a much more creative nature and not so easily completed as tasks with a more logical bend. Finding inspiration is organic, with no quantifiable steps to get the job done. And for someone who lives and dies by her lists, well, I’m surprised there isn’t more brain damage than my optic nerves as a result of the War of the Right and Left Brain. Unlike “workout”, “schedule dentist appt” or “research public relations firms”, writing an essay or speech requires an idea and mental stimulation. For me, when I have that combination, or it has me, really, it flows effortlessly. But some days, despite it being on the to-do list, nothing comes. And that makes for a very long day, hours of feeling unsettled by unfinished business.

I never thought much about the creative process until I found writing to be my full-time job. The word “process” is misleading; no systematic approach exists for me when it comes to a blank screen filling up with words. Learning to maneuver between driven, rigid expectations I have set for myself and a daily creative endeavor is a challenge every single day. It’s needing to bake a cake for a birthday party that night but having none of the ingredients at your disposal or even a recipe.

If we are lucky we get to explore all different aspects of ourselves. Some fit quite nicely and stay, while others don’t feel right from the moment we try them. And sometimes, the new part and the old part of you have to come together so you can be every bit of who you are. Living my life since my vision loss has been an exercise in this every moment that I’m awake. But in regard to my writing, it’s more of an internal condition than a consequence of my sight situation: Type A personality has an artistic side.

No matter how much you and I struggle with our contrasting personality traits, we must find a way to not just coexist but let them all thrive. And if we really think about it, I’ll bet we can find a connection. Look at me: The Great List Maker. If a list isn’t creative writing, I don’t know what is.


Clue: She’s Not As Smart As She Thinks She Is

Answer: Who is Sister Rain?

My gifted gift-giver friend gave me an Echo last Christmas. She also sells seashells by the seashore. Alexa has become a great addition to the family. I have yet to explore all her many features but I use her for common requests on a daily basis: the time, setting alarms, music and word definitions as I read. Five times a week, I play Jeopardy!; a dozen new questions are available Monday through Friday. All the elements from the television show are included: Alex Trebek, the music and the actual announcer opens each game with, “This Is Jeopardy!”

Like most of us who have watched the program, I expect to be pretty good at this game. Plus, there are no other contestants and no pesky buzzer to contend with. This is my first mistake of many. The best score I have had is eight out of twelve on a few rare occasions and the worst, one correct, thankfully, is a rare result as well. My average grade is five.

Alexa resides in my dining room, a central location in my house. A lot of meals have been dished up there and now every day, there’s a big ole serving of humble pie.


A Waist Of Time

“Sometimes when I’m home I realize I haven’t pulled my yoga pants
up all the way to my waist and I wonder,
Am I that lazy? Have I completely given up?
And then I assure myself those questions are ridiculous.
After all, I AM wearing pants.”

— Sister Rain


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