The First Husband: A Book Review







I read the blurb on the back of The First Husband, by Laura Dave and was pretty sure I’d enjoy what I found between its covers. I have to say that I was wrong. And right.

I should probably explain.

Annie Adams is living what she thinks is a pretty good life. She writes a syndicated travel column and her work takes her to all sorts of wonderful places. She and Nick, her live-in boyfriend, both adore their dog, Mila. Everything seems to be going along alright, but then without warning, Nick announces that he needs a break. Of course, there’s another woman in the picture, though Nick swears that nothing has happened with her yet.

Annie & Nick are suddenly Annie. And Nick.

Still reeling, Annie meets Griffin. Things move along quickly—really quickly—and before you can say rebound madness, Annie marries Griffin and the two move across the country to his home town.

Okay, I don’t want to reveal too much but suffice it to say that as they got settled and life got messy as life tends to do, I found myself not liking either guy all that much. From my standpoint, Nick became a permanent part of the past the moment he walked and I just wanted Griffin to stand up and man up. In a relationship-centered book like this, readers need to be rooting for someone and for a while there, I kind of thought Annie should just chuck them both and start fresh. It might have helped if Annie herself were easier to relate to. I didn't always "get" her and as the story's main character, that was a fairly substantial problem.

All in all, I’d say The First Husband is worth a read, but I wouldn't move it to the top of the TBR list. Dave’s writing style is comfortable and engaging, she has a keen sense of observation when it comes to the human condition, and by her story's end, she'd shown everyone's heart. Plus—and this is big—she doesn’t resort to creating overly cutesy characters, a too common occurrence in light reads. So even with its considerable shortcomings, if you're looking for something light and easy to fill an afternoon at the beach, this one might do nicely.





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Just so you know, I was compensated for this BlogHer Book Club review but all opinions expressed are my own.

Oh, and you wouldn’t like it if someone stole your words, so please don’t steal the work of photographers and graphic artists to provide images for your blog. For today’s image, I snapped a quick shot of my copy of the book. :O)


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What Lies Beneath






This was written in response to an exercise I posed in my last post. I thought since I was challenging everyone to ask themselves some questions, the least I could do was to give them a go myself. If you haven’t already done so, you might want to go and take a quick peek at Underneath it All before you read on here.


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She’s frequently barefoot, or in well-worn leather sandals. Docs when the weather cools or when she treks through the woods behind her house. She doesn’t hike so much as she wanders. Quietly. Reverently. Sometimes she carries her camera, sometimes only a jug of water. Always a notebook, just a small spiral one for the walks, which she tucks into the back pocket of her faded Levi’s, a short pen held in place by the tunnel of wound wire.

That’s how most of her mornings begin—breakfast and then a bit of wandering. She’s back long before the sun gets hot, back to pull a few weeds from the garden before she heads inside. The house is small and cottagey. Some might feel claustrophobic in the place, but she’s cozy there, its old walls as welcoming as the weathered cardigan that hangs from her desk chair. She looks around and smiles at her surroundings. Nothing matches, not in a department store display kind of way, but the pieces come together to create a hug of a house, inviting her to curl up in the book nook or sketch on the sunny back porch.

It had been a stroke of luck to find the place, just on the edge of the artists’ colony that was once a Mayberryesque town. The few businesses there are busy still, their patrons committed to supporting one another and buying locally whenever they can. The house had been in need of repair when she moved in, and in truth, will probably always have a project in the works. It was structurally sound when she found it, but beyond that, had needed everything. Floors to be sanded, old wallpaper to be stripped. She walked in and saw opportunity where previous lookers had seen only hours and hours of hard work. She crossed her fingers and put in an offer.

She started in the kitchen, peeling back several layers of wallpaper until she reached bare wall. The fridge, stove, and deep porcelain sink had all been in place for a few generations, but needed only good scrubbings to bring them back to their original luster. She loves their retro style, very much the same as her own. She found an old wooden farmhouse table and stripped it down. She’d begun to sand it smooth and then reconsidered, realizing that its imperfections only added to its beauty, every ding and groove representative of a moment in its long history. She painted the table a deep denim blue and found four mismatched wooden chairs to put around it. Each of those got new paint, too: one brick red, the second a rich, mossy green, deep mustard yellow for the third, and the last was treated to a few coats of spicy pumpkin color. The chairs wear matching seat cushions, plump and comfortable in a cream and denim check that coordinates perfectly with the table.

She’s strong and lean, her muscles toned from walking and working in both the garden and the house. She takes deep pleasure from the work, each swing of a hammer and stroke of a paintbrush an act of love. There’s an old Jeep in the garage, but more often than not, she hoofs it into town or rides her bike, a simple coaster brake cruiser with a roomy wicker basket attached to its handlebars. She returns with long loaves of bread, hunks of cheese, and thick slabs of fresh butter. Most of her groceries come from the CSA, which provides an assortment of seasonal produce as well as eggs, jams, and on occasion, a package or two of farm-fresh meats. She buys sweet homemade wine from the farmers, too, and once in a while, she smokes a little pot.

She wears her hair long and natural, and ties it back when she works. The small pond beyond the trees calls to her and she answers, stripping off her tee-shirt and cutoffs to wade into its cool depth. Trees and water have always been her muses, and in this place, she finds both creative inspiration and calm.

Her hippie style and attitude fit well with the other residents of the small community, mostly artists and farmers. Though she generally likes to write at night, she often takes a notebook or sketchpad into town in the late afternoons, where the old town square is usually busy with painters, musicians, and artisans of many talents. She sometimes wonders how she came to find such a peaceful place and peaceful people, and shakes away any passing doubts that she should be more upwardly mobile. They are a family, the oddballs and eccentrics, and she is one of them.




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You wouldn’t like it if someone stole your words, so please don’t steal the work of photographers and graphic artists to provide images for your blog. Today’s images courtesy of Morgue File, which offers lots of wonderful, free images for public use.

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Underneath it All






Many of the best conversations I have are with her. Love, religion, family, responsibility, hopes, dreams, successes, failures, disappointments, war, crime, justice, injustice, body image—we cover it all. Last week, she made a casual comment that led—as our casual comments often do—to a lengthy discussion about how we view ourselves. More specifically, how the “inside” us doesn’t always look like, dress like, or live the life that the “real” us does.

Try something for me. Close your eyes. Wait! Read the next few paragraphs first and then close your eyes. Okay, eyes closed, get comfy. Breathe. You don’t have to get all meditationy, just take a minute to inhale and exhale a couple of times. All set? Okay, now envision the life you would lead were all of your current obligations suddenly stripped away and only you remained. I’m not suggesting that you want to get away from your current life or flee from the people in it, I’m simply asking you to consider only yourself for a few minutes. Don’t worry. Neither your boss nor your loved ones need to know that you’re taking this little mental excursion.

There’s no spouse, children, parents, siblings, employers, coworkers, clients, friends, or neighbors to worry about. No one’s needs, preferences, or opinions to consider. It’s just you, with a world of possibilities before you and the only goal is to envision the you and the life that lines up with the person you know yourself to be. Way down in there. Under your clothes (it’s okay, I won’t peek), under your job and your house and your need to pack lunches, drive carpool, write that report, schedule that appointment, meet that deadline, and make those phone calls. Who are you?

Where are you? What are you wearing? What does your hair look like? Your style? What are you doing? Where do you live? How is your home furnished? What do you eat? How do you fill your days? How do you earn money? What do you spend it on?

Take your time. Cruise around in the inner you for a while. Smile at that person and start up a conversation. What time does (s)he (you!) get up in the morning and when do you rest your head to sleep? Do you have pets? Hobbies? What do you drive? How do you unwind? Do you even need to unwind in this fully authentic existence or have your stressors melted away?

Feel free to share some of your observations, if you want. Keep them to yourself if you’d rather. Either way, from here on out, when you’re making decisions about the direction your life should go, when you’re balancing the wants and needs of those in your life, please factor in the person you just spent some time with. That person deserves to be seen and heard, too.



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Written for this week’s GBE topic, “Self.” If you’d like to blog with us, just clickety-click. All are welcome!

One more thing: You wouldn’t like it if someone stole your words, so please don’t steal the work of photographers and graphic artists to provide images for your blog.

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GBE 2: Blog On -- Week #54: “Self”







GBE 2: Blog On -- Week #54: “Self”


As always, the guidelines are simple. Blog on this week’s prompt in any way you see fit. Once you’ve posted to wherever you normally blog, drop the URL to your post into the comment section below.

REMINDER: use the URL to your entry for this week’s specific topic post, NOT to your blog’s home page!

If you haven’t already done so, you are welcome to join GBE 2 at its main headquarters over on Facebook (We have over 260 members and we’re still growing!). Just visit GBE2’s Facebook Page and request to join the group. Everyone is welcome, so tell your friends! :O)

Oh, and people always ask what GBE stands for. It’s Group Blogging Experience. The original GBE was started over at MySpace by a fabulous woman named Alicia. She headed up the group for close to two years before deciding that she’d run her course with it, so she stepped away.

Last year, Alicia and I, along with a few others who’d been a part of that original group, were talking on Alicia’s Facebook wall about how wonderful that experience had been and before I could stop myself, I announced that I was going to start a blogging group in the same fashion as the GBE. With Alicia’s blessing, I swiped the name, added the 2, and the rest is history.

For those of you who use Twitter, the hashtag for the group's posts is #GBE2, and we can increase readership if we all tweet early and tweet often. ;O)

That’s it! Easy-breezy-lemon-squeezy!

You have until Saturday (6-2-12) to post your blog and leave your link…

Again, this week, our prompt is: Self

Ready. Set. Blog!

Happy blogging!
Beth




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You wouldn’t like it if someone stole your words, so please don’t steal the work of photographers and graphic artists to provide images for your blog.

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Round Circle Me






It started with a moment of silliness. My smallest grandson, tired and not yet two, was sitting on my lap. I was wearing a weathered hoodie, the ends of its drawstring frayed. He tickled my nose with one end, I brushed the other against his ear. He giggled. I ran the feathery cotton softly around his face, paintbrush-style. “Around in a circle,” I said, stretching the word around so that it lasted until the tattered cord reached the top of his forehead, where it had begun.

He grinned. “Again,” he said.

So I did it again. “Around in a circle,” I said, following a path from the top of his face, down one sweet baby cheek, under his chin, and back up to the starting point. Then I dabbed the end twice on the top of his head. “Your hair,” I said.

That was followed by his ears, his shoulders, his belly, his fingers. I tapped each twice and identified the parts as I touched them with the soft end of the drawstring. I moved back up and touched his neck, his chin, his lips, his nose. I dabbed each chubby cheek, then his eyebrows, eyelashes, and forehead. I ended as I’d begun, around in a circle. He smiled. Softly and with a deep breath. Meditation calm. “Again, Grammy.”

So I did it again. This time even gentler, my words not much more than whispers. I brushed over his eyelashes and he took a moment to open his eyes. Sleepy. He tipped his head and looked at me after the circle. “Again.”

Before I could finish the third round, he moved forward to rest his head on my shoulder and he fell asleep. Happy and content, both of us. The next day, he climbed up on my lap. “Round circle me, Grammy?”

It became our naptime routine. I’d round circle him as many times as he requested until he was ready to sleep and then I’d hold him a while longer until I was ready to put him down. When I’d visit his house near bedtime, he’d ask. “Round circle me?”

He loved it, but I’m pretty sure I loved it more. His mom tried, but he shook his head. Grampy wanted to give it a go and was denied. Round circling was just for us. And it was magic, nothing less.

As two has grown closer to three, round circling has become a less frequent request. He sometimes round circles me and occasionally asks me to return the favor, though I think now, the invitation comes more from him knowing that it pleases me, rather than his own need. He’s getting big.

Soon-to-be-three and I have a different naptime routine now. He lies on my couch and I sit on the floor in front of it. He takes my hand and asks me to lay my head down beside his. I happily comply. I tell him I love him. He says, “I love you, too.”

We stay that way, faces close enough to feel the others breath, and we smile. I tell him I’m lucky and even though he knows the answer, he asks me why. I say it’s because of him—I’m lucky because I have him—and he closes his eyes. “Me lucky, too,” he says and he falls asleep, still holding my hand.



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You wouldn’t like it if someone stole your words, so please don’t steal the work of photographers and graphic artists to provide images for your blog.

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Moving Forward






This week’s GBE writing prompt is, “Pick a line from a book and write from there.” I chose the book, The Secret Life of Bees, by Sue Monk Kidd. Not wanting to take forever to choose a beginning line, I grabbed a book from the shelf, opened it, and selected a sentence from the two resulting pages. Though my entry was written quickly during a lunch hour and had to settle for attention that was divided between it and an egg salad sandwich, I enjoyed this one a lot and hope to try something similar again soon.


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She pulled at the front of her dress, opening an airway along her bosom, big and soft as couch pillows. Her baby drew in greedily and she settled back against the bench, wisps of her hair fluttering in the late afternoon breeze. She rested her palm on the infant’s cheek, traced his eyebrow with her index finger, and smiled.

This was her favorite part of the day. A precious respite nestled between the hours spent building a business that would never have her name on the door and the solitude that descended and itched like a woolen blanket after she turned her key in the door to what should have been her haven. Instead, the tiny bungalow squeezed her until she fought to breathe, its walls, floors, and furnishings reminders of all that she’d lost. All that they had lost, she and this boy, rosy-cheeked and unaware of the injustice that had come to him so early in his life.

She walked through the house most nights after her son was settled into his crib, chubby legs folded beneath his pajama clad rump, a plump thumb in his mouth. She’d run her fingers over photos of her husband, his broad face smiling and telling a lie of robust health and promised longevity. A face that was supposed to wrinkle beside hers after days and years and decades of working and playing together.

When morning came, she was often still awake, drunk with grief and exhaustion. She counted on the spray from the shower to buy her some hours of productivity, though its impact was progressively lessening. It was only her son’s laughter and tears that kept her going, his need so constant as to propel her forward, if sometimes blindly so.

It was on a Wednesday when she chose healing, just as it had been a Wednesday when she’d been thrust into the whirlwind that drew her deeper and deeper until she no longer recognized a way out. Her parents were waiting on her doorstep when she pulled into the driveway, her mother’s hand cupped inside her father’s. They’d offered a room and their help months earlier, after the last of the grief casseroles had been eaten and their dishes returned to neighbors and coworkers. It had felt like an intrusion when they proposed that she and the baby come home with them, and she’d been indignant at the notion that she was weak or incapable. They’d tried to explain, but she refused to listen, angry at them and the world. They still had each other. Both sets of grandparents were still alive and vibrant. They knew nothing of the pain she was in and she resented their assumption that they could help her to cope with what they couldn’t possibly understand. She’d sent them on their way and though she spoke to her mother by phone several times a week, she was careful to conceal her growing anxiety and depression.

Seeing them there, uninvited, she thought about putting the car in reverse and driving back to the park, to her favorite bench. Instead, she inhaled deeply and turned off the engine. By the time she’d removed her son from his carseat, her parents were beside her. She handed the baby to her father, who hoisted him onto his shoulder, wrapped his other arm around his daughter, and kissed her hair, resting his head atop hers for a moment. She felt her mother’s hand on her back and she turned. She looked at the older woman and saw herself, eyes moist and reflecting the same emotion she felt when her son was hungry or feverish, wanting only to make him better. She wrapped her arms around her mother’s neck and buried her face into the soft, familiar scent and just as her son did when she drew him close to provide comfort, she knew that somehow, she would be okay.




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Written for this week’s GBE topic, “Pick a Line from a Book and Write from There.” If you’d like to blog with us, just clickety-click. All are welcome!

One more thing: You wouldn’t like it if someone stole your words, so please don’t steal the work of photographers and graphic artists to provide images for your blog. Photo courtesy of Morgue File, which offers lots of wonderful, free images for public use.


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GBE 2: Blog On -- Week #53: “Pick a Line from a Book and Write from There”






GBE 2: Blog On -- Week #53: “Pick a Line from a Book and Write from There”



As always, the guidelines are simple. Blog on this week’s prompt in any way you see fit. Once you’ve posted to wherever you normally blog, drop the URL to your post into the comment section below.

REMINDER: use the URL to your entry for this week’s specific topic post, NOT to your blog’s home page!

If you haven’t already done so, you are welcome to join GBE 2 at its main headquarters over on Facebook (We’re nearing 260 members and we’re still growing!). Just visit GBE2’s Facebook Page and request to join the group. Everyone is welcome, so tell your friends! :O)

Oh, and people always ask what GBE stands for. It’s Group Blogging Experience. The original GBE was started over at MySpace by a fabulous woman named Alicia. She headed up the group for close to two years before deciding that she’d run her course with it, so she stepped away.

Last year, Alicia and I, along with a few others who’d been a part of that original group, were talking on Alicia’s Facebook wall about how wonderful that experience had been and before I could stop myself, I announced that I was going to start a blogging group in the same fashion as the GBE. With Alicia’s blessing, I swiped the name, added the 2, and the rest is history.

For those of you who use Twitter, the hashtag for the group's posts is #GBE2, and we can increase readership if we all tweet early and tweet often. ;O)

That’s it! Easy-breezy-lemon-squeezy!

You have until Saturday (5-26-12) to post your blog and leave your link…

Again, this week, our prompt is: Pick a Line from a Book and Write from There

Ready. Set. Blog!

Happy blogging!
Beth



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You wouldn’t like it if someone stole your words, so please don’t steal the work of photographers and graphic artists to provide images for your blog.

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A Lovely Little Handbasket






Some weeks back, I saw the preview and shook my head in old lady disgust. Don't Trust the B---- in Apartment 23 . Really? Are there no limits? “Hell in a handbasket,” I muttered, channeling my inner geezer.

Then I watched the show.

I don’t watch a whole lot of TV, but Wednesdays at my house are “park, eat, and watch” nights. We tune in to Survivor and then my super-favorite, Modern Family. Survivor is an hour, but Modern Family is only half that, which leaves the second half of that hour open until we settle in for the delicious evil that is Revenge. Because Modern Family is such a huge hit, ABC can toss pretty much anything into the slot following it and assure themselves some viewers. Not long ago, they launched Don’t Trust the B in Apt. 23.

I was sure I’d hate it. I was ridiculously wrong.

For the record, I don’t do guilt, but if I did, I’d feel a little bad about loving Chloe and the gang. I don’t, though. Not even an itty-bitty bit. Who could hate a girl who sees a group of cute busboys and expresses the desire to turn them into busmen?

Chloe, played beautifully by Krysten Ritter, is a party girl. She’s snarky and wildly promiscuous. If there’s a wrong and a right choice in front of her, she will decidedly take the path of instant gratification.

Fresh from Indiana, June, played by the terrific Dreama Walker, moved to NYC to begin her dream job. On her very first day in the city, June finds that her new boss is wanted by the Feds for embezzlement and the company is kaput. June’s job is gone, as is her ability to afford her fabulous New York apartment.

Guess who needs a roommate? Yep. And guess who moves her stuff in? Right again. What ensues is madness. Perfect, inappropriate, hilarious madness.

Oh, and James Van Der Beek plays himself on the show, and not just in a cameo. He’s a regular cast member, Chloe’s best friend. Watching him both promote and poke fun at himself is worth the watch time alone. Good stuff.

You can catch up on all the Don’t Trust the B episodes online (there are only six so far, so it won’t take you long)—and I recommend that you do. Just leave your guilt at the door. It’d spoil all the fun.




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Written for this week’s GBE topic, “Guilty Pleasure.” If you’d like to blog with us, just clickety-click. All are welcome!

One more thing: You wouldn’t like it if someone stole your words, so please don’t steal the work of photographers and graphic artists to provide images for your blog. Photo courtesy of Morgue File, which offers lots of wonderful, free images for public use.


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GBE 2: Blog On -- Week #52: “Guilty Pleasure”





GBE 2: Blog On -- Week #52: “Guilty Pleasure”


As always, the guidelines are simple. Blog on this week’s prompt in any way you see fit. Once you’ve posted to wherever you normally blog, drop the URL to your post into the comment section below.

REMINDER: use the URL to your entry for this week’s specific topic post, NOT to your blog’s home page!

If you haven’t already done so, you are welcome to join GBE 2 at its main headquarters over on Facebook (We’re nearing 260 members and we’re still growing!). Just visit GBE2’s Facebook Page and request to join the group. Everyone is welcome, so tell your friends! :O)

Oh, and people always ask what GBE stands for. It’s Group Blogging Experience. The original GBE was started over at MySpace by a fabulous woman named Alicia. She headed up the group for close to two years before deciding that she’d run her course with it, so she stepped away.

Last year, Alicia and I, along with a few others who’d been a part of that original group, were talking on Alicia’s Facebook wall about how wonderful that experience had been and before I could stop myself, I announced that I was going to start a blogging group in the same fashion as the GBE. With Alicia’s blessing, I swiped the name, added the 2, and the rest is history.

For those of you who use Twitter, the hashtag for the group's posts is #GBE2, and we can increase readership if we all tweet early and tweet often. ;O)

That’s it! Easy-breezy-lemon-squeezy!

You have until Saturday (5-19-12) to post your blog and leave your link…

Again, this week, our prompt is: Guilty Pleasure

Ready. Set. Blog!

Happy blogging!
Beth





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You wouldn’t like it if someone stole your words, so please don’t steal the work of photographers and graphic artists to provide images for your blog.

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Goin’ All Hillary: The Natural Woman Revival






No matter how they feel about her politics, past or present, Hillary Clinton is doing something I think almost all women will appreciate. She's chucked her makeup bag and is sporting both natural hair and rather geekalicious glasses. I’d like to formally add my stamp of approval to both the new look and attitude.

The topic of appearance, especially as it pertains to women, has been buzzing louder than an off kilter blow dryer lately and boomer women are taking the reins in the new revolution to natural. Hot-diggity-damn-dog.

I started wearing makeup at 13. The cosmetics age-rule in my house was well established long before I hit puberty. My sisters were allowed a teeny bit of eyeshadow and a touch of lip gloss at 13. Foundation and mascara had to wait until 16. Although they came along twenty years before I did, the same standards held for me. So enamored was I to match faces with friends who had more modern-thinking mothers, though, that I stopped by my best friend’s house every morning before school to apply mascara and after to remove it. Rebel woman, I was. Badass to the core.

In the years between that first application of eyeshadow (70’s blue, baby!) and now, I’ve started all but the rare flu day with a shower and then a quick makeup session. I’ve worn makeup to shovel snow, shop for groceries, and write my columns—from home. I delivered my babies while wearing makeup, for the love of Pete. Ridiculous.

We women can be a foolish lot. Instead of celebrating our gifts, we tend to look for and focus on our imperfections, magnifying them until they overshadow all that makes us shine. Even worse is that we tend to view normal as flawed. It’s not enough that we typically weigh our shortcomings more heavily than our achievements. No, we also like to lock in on some nonexistent ideal and then mentally line list the ways in which we fall short. We actively seek out reasons to put ourselves down.

I’ve recently learned to love my curls, after spending decades blow-drying them into submission. I’m happily going gray. An utterly inept optometrist left me with severely damaged corneas more than twenty-five years ago and I was forced to give up contact lenses, so I’ve always been bespectacled. And my middle-aged, I’ve-had-babies belly is a small price to pay for both a half-decade of living and the privilege of motherhood, so we’re friends now.

But here’s the thing. Even though all of that is progress, it’s still bullshit. None of it matters. Yeah, it’s all sorts of dandy that I’m good with what I see in the mirror—even buck naked—but what really matters has nothing to do with the exterior.

Time and energy are finite resources. Instead of concerning ourselves with the color, texture, and thickness of our hair, number of wrinkles on our faces and how to minimize them, or the size of our asses, we really need to redirect our attention to stuff of substance. Stuff that will last longer than perky boobs and cheerleader thighs.

I’m not anti-salon or anti-makeup. I’m not even against cosmetic surgery for those who want it. But somewhere on our quest for self-love, we’ve learned to value outward beauty over kindness, intelligence, humor, and achievement. Let me say that again: We’ve learned to value outward beauty over kindness, intelligence, humor, and achievement.

I’m not sure I’ve ever met a woman who didn’t at one time or another comment negatively about her body, face, or hair. Most of us have had less than nice things to say about all of those. We hate the scale and we scowl at mirrors. Twenty bucks says that all of us have sized ourselves up and declared ourselves lacking. And we do the same to other women. Sure, she’s brilliant, educated, and accomplished, but she has a unibrow. Or bad skin. Flabby arms. Crooked teeth. Cankles.

Who gives a rat's ass about ankle size? Sadly, we do. Even sadder is that is that we plant those poisonous seeds in our daughters. We gush to little girls about how beautiful they are. We compliment their eyes and their hair. We give air time to crap like Toddlers & Tiaras.

Did I tell my daughters they were beautiful? Absolutely. They were and are. My son, too. He was a gorgeous little boy who has grown into a wonderful and yes, handsome man. I told all of my children they were beautiful. They also got messages celebrating their wit, wisdom, strength, character, and boundless possibility. Those far outweighed the “You’re so pretty!” stuff.

Now to give ourselves that same healthy balance. When asked about her new, more relaxed look, Clinton seemed unfazed by the attention it’s getting. In recent days, she’s said, “Because you know, if I want to wear my glasses I'm wearing my glasses. If I want to wear my hair back I'm pulling my hair back” and “You know, at some point, it's just not something that deserves a lot of time and attention.”

It’s wonderful to feel good about how you look, but genuine self-esteem doesn’t come from having shiny, bouncy hair. Following dreams, being unabashedly ourselves, developing our talents, and celebrating all that is wonderful about us brings a level of self-acceptance that far surpasses the kick that comes from catching a glimpse of a pretty woman in the mirror. It’s abundantly clear that Hillary Clinton understands that. I hope more of us catch on.




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A few friends have recently posted pieces along this same line. Please check out Jane, Melanie, and Graciewild.

One more thing: You wouldn’t like it if someone stole your words, so please don’t steal the work of photographers and graphic artists to provide images for your blog. Today's photo courtesy of Sanja Gjenero.

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2012 A-Z Challenge Wrap Up: “All April Long” (with a Sincere Apology to Kid Rock)






All April Long

*** Sung to the tune of All Summer Long, a song I really, really love but may never think of in quite the same way again. ***


It was two thousand and twelve, my time was short, my hopes were high
Caught somewhere between an A and Z
Bloggin’ with the masses, we had to move our asses
It was challenge time, and not just the GBE


Ahh, ahh, ahh
Ahh, ahh, ahh


Workin’ through each letter
Hopin’ to get better
‘Cause the simple ones came first, like C and D
We were livin’ on the internet
And man I never will forget
How many friends stressed big for X and Z


And we were lookin’ to our hosts
Tryin’ to think up brilliant posts
Sometimes desperate ‘nuff to just post our favorite song
Sipping whiskey out the bottle, not thinking 'bout tomorrow
Bloggin’ our way through the alphabet all April long


Bloggin’ our way through the alphabet all April long


Keepin’ eyes upon the clock
Hearing every tick and tock
Missin’ midnight meant you’d blown your day’s deadline
We'd write out something rough
Barely edit, think good enough
Click publish and we knew we did just fine


And we were lookin’ to our hosts
Tryin’ to think up brilliant posts
Sometimes desperate ‘nuff to just post our favorite song
Sipping whiskey out the bottle, not thinking 'bout tomorrow
Bloggin’ our way through the alphabet all April long


Bloggin’ our way through the alphabet all April long


Now nothing seems as fun now that the letters are all done
And wow, we thought those days would never end
Sometimes I read a post and am sure I love it most
And think, man I'd love to blog that way again


Man, I'd love to blog that way again


And we were lookin’ to our hosts
Tryin’ to think up brilliant posts
Sometimes desperate ‘nuff to just post our favorite song
Sipping whiskey out the bottle, not thinking 'bout tomorrow
Bloggin’ our way through the alphabet all April long


Bloggin’ our way through the alphabet all April long


Bloggin’ our way through the alphabet all April long


Ahh, ahh, ahh
Ahh, ahh, ahh




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And for those of you unfamiliar with the real deal, here’s Kid Rock’s total awesomeness:








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Please check out my fellow A-Z Bloggers!

Written for this week’s GBE topic, “Parody.” If you’d like to blog with us, just clickety-click. All are welcome!

Oh, and you wouldn’t like it if someone stole your words, so please don’t steal the work of photographers and graphic artists to provide images for your blog.

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GBE 2: Blog On -- Week #51: “Parody”






GBE 2: Blog On -- Week #51: “Parody”


As always, the guidelines are simple. Blog on this week’s prompt in any way you see fit. Once you’ve posted to wherever you normally blog, drop the URL to your post into the comment section below.

REMINDER: use the URL to your entry for this week’s specific topic post, NOT to your blog’s home page!

If you haven’t already done so, you are welcome to join GBE 2 at its main headquarters over on Facebook (We’re nearing 260 members and we’re still growing!). Just visit GBE2’s Facebook Page and request to join the group. Everyone is welcome, so tell your friends! :O)

Oh, and several people have asked what GBE stands for. It’s Group Blogging Experience. The original GBE was started over at MySpace by a fabulous woman named Alicia. She headed up the group for close to two years before deciding that she’d run her course with it, so she stepped away.

Last year, Alicia and I, along with a few others who’d been a part of that original group, were talking on Alicia’s Facebook wall about how wonderful that experience had been and before I could stop myself, I announced that I was going to start a blogging group in the same fashion as the GBE. With Alicia’s blessing, I swiped the name, added the 2, and the rest is history.

For those of you who use Twitter, the hashtag for the group's posts is #GBE2, and we can increase readership if we all tweet early and tweet often. ;O)

That’s it! Easy-breezy-lemon-squeezy!

You have until Saturday (5-12-12) to post your blog and leave your link…

Again, this week, our prompt is: Parody

Ready. Set. Blog!

Happy blogging!
Beth




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Talking to Strangers





He thinks I’m weird. In fairness to him, he’s not judging harshly. I most certainly am weird. He’s a talker, but he prefers conversations with people he knows. Me? I’ll gab with anyone, though mostly, I listen.

Some folks like to travel, some play golf. The world is filled with gourmet cooks, coupon-clippers, rock climbers, hoarders, and inventors. Everyone carries a bit of their childhood with them, most have been brokenhearted, and all but the very lucky have had moments when they wondered if they’d ever be alright again. Lucky in love or lonely, but afraid of commitment. Filled with light or grasping desperately for just a glimmer. Weak. Frail. Strong. Invincible.

We’re hormonal, justice-seeking, hand-holding, and happy. We mourn, lick our wounds, and lash out, sometimes unprovoked. We cradle our loved ones or push them away, dance with blissful abandon or lower our eyes and pray to remain unnoticed.

Most of us are odd combinations of polar qualities. Most of us are weird. And for me, there is nothing more fascinating than listening to someone tell their story.

He can stand in line at the store, sit beside someone in a waiting room, and let the guy in to fix the dishwasher without exchanging more than a nod or a few perfunctory words. In those same situations, I tend to start with small talk that frequently leads to the shopper, patient, or repairman telling me about their hobbies and heartbreaks.

That makes my day.

I met Jerry when he reroofed our house last year. I was taking the garbage out and he was eating his lunch. He held a bag of Doritos out and I shook my head, but I stayed outside for a few minutes while he finished up. He’s raising two teenagers on his own. He’s doing a good job but he worries that he might drop the ball and they’ll pay the price. His wife left a few years back. She didn’t just leave him; she walked out on the kids, too. The constraints of marriage and motherhood simply became too much to bear, so she packed a few things and moved on. It wasn’t him, she’d said. It was her. She needed to shake herself loose. He’s not angry. I’d be angry. He is a little scared.

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I don’t know her name, but I recognized myself in her as she stood beside me waiting for our turns to check out at Kohl’s. Her arms were filled with tiny outfits and she could barely contain her happiness. I commented on the adorable little dress on the top of the stack. Her daughter had called earlier in the day, after her ultrasound. It’s a girl. The woman said she knew it was silly to be so excited, but she couldn’t wait to have a granddaughter. I assured her that I understood. I told her that when my daughter and son-in-law stopped by with the pictures from her ultrasound and I found that my first granddaughter was on the way, I immediately ran out and bought a tea set. We both laughed and when a line opened up and she moved forward to pay, I congratulated her again. As I was paying for my purchases, the soon-to-be grandmother was walking toward the exit and even from behind, I could tell she was smiling.

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Last Saturday, we had the tub in the upstairs bath refinished. Tom, the technician, is the same age my husband, but looks a lot older. I offered him a cup of coffee and he politely declined, saying that his doc allows him one cup a day and he’d had it on the ride over.

While he waited for the stripping agent to work its magic on the existing finish, he told me about his wife. She died three years ago, at 46. He’d been tired and had gone to bed early. She stayed up to watch a little TV. When he came down in the morning, he found her on the living room floor, but he wasn’t immediately alarmed. She liked to toss the sofa pillows on the floor and pop in a DVD. It wasn’t uncommon for her to conk out before the final credits. He knelt to shake her shoulder. She was gone. An autopsy revealed that she’d had a heart attack. At 46, with no warning signs.

She’d been a wonderful wife and had made his life beautiful, he said. She was a fabulous cook and held him and their sons close. He wondered aloud what a woman like that saw in him and how he’d managed to keep her for over 25 years. He wiped away a tear. I did, too.

In the two years following his wife’s death, Tom had three strokes, one of them substantial. He didn’t really want to fight his way back, but when his son and daughter-in-law announced that he was going to be a grandfather, he knew he needed to make his health a priority.

His grandson is two months old now. Tom lit up when he spoke of the little boy who he was going to visit after he finished the job at my house. He said that a few weeks ago, at the baby’s Christening, he felt his wife’s presence. He held himself together, he said, until it was time to take pictures, when he needed to walk out into the vestibule to collect his emotions. When he returned and stood with the family to be photographed, he left a little space between him and his daughter-in-law—the space, he said, in honor of the woman who should have been standing there beside him.

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He thinks I’m weird. Some folks like to travel, some play golf. I talk to strangers. Everywhere, at every opportunity. And it makes me really happy.







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Written for this week’s GBE topic, “The Stranger.” If you’d like to blog with us, just clickety-click. All are welcome!

Oh, and you wouldn’t like it if someone stole your words, so please don’t steal the work of photographers and graphic artists to provide images for your blog. Photo courtesy of Morgue File, which offers lots of wonderful, free images for public usage.

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You (Really, Truly) Have No Idea



There’s honesty and then there’s honesty. The first kind requires nothing more than a refusal to lie. Some believe that to be nearly impossible, but I disagree. It’s been my policy for a long time now and without question, I think honesty is actually the easy route.

The second variety, though, is a whole different animal. It’s a willingness to just pour it all out there—the sweet and the salty—and let it simmer. While I’m pretty much an open book, I have chapters that require a passcode to read, and the list of those with the code is a pretty short one.

Much shorter, say, than the gazillion readers who’ll happily turn the pages of You Have No Idea, written by Vanessa Williams and her mom, Helen Williams. Honesty, the second, more courageous kind, fills page after page, chapter after chapter. All sorts of good.


Biographies can be great or they can be the most torturous of reads. Puffed up egos often become evident in these types of offerings, but in this case, honesty trumped ego—much to the benefit of the Williams women and their readers.

As I read, I turned back corners of the pages when I encountered lines that spoke to me. By the time I’d reached the end, my copy of the book had a ridiculous number of dog-eared pages. I’m not going to share all of them with you (you’re welcome), but I would like to highlight just a few.

  • Vanessa Williams on how her mom loved nice things for her home and her dad loved to build them for her: “My childhood home was a brick-and-mortar love letter to my mother.”

  • Helen Williams: “…I couldn’t express my disappointment in words and there was his head—just available—waiting for me to whack it.”

  • Vanessa Williams: “I peed on a stick while playing a nun and prayed that I wasn’t pregnant.”

  • Vanessa Williams: “I thought I understood what it was like to be heartbroken. The moment I saw my dad’s lifeless body, I realized I had no idea.”

Then there was the scene that felt a bit like a replay from something I’ve lived. Milton Williams, who had been a stellar husband and father as well as an all-around good man, was dying. His wife, Helen, had to let him go—had to give him permission to go. I’ve done that—the heartbreaking granting of permission—and I felt the pain of it all over again as I read her words. “The night before Milton died I whispered in his ear, “You can go now.””

Finally, Vanessa Williams shared the words she prays, which are very close to my own. “God, I surrender. Just show me the way and I will follow you. Let me see the signs.”

You want more now, don’t you? I completely understand. Go. Read. And dog-ear your own copy. You’ll be glad you did.



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This is a paid review for BlogHer Book Club but the opinions expressed are my own.

One more thing: You wouldn’t like it if someone stole your words, so please don’t steal the work of photographers and graphic artists to provide images for your blog.

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