“Let all of the poisons that lurk in the mud… hatch out”.
This happens to be my favorite quote. It’s from an old TV series called I, Claudius.
I was half of a young married couple back then, and my husband Dave, and I, both got a big kick out of Claudius’ dramatic declaration. We used it whenever possible, perhaps to the point of wearing it out. We might be hanging out with friends, having an intense political discussion, when one or the other of us, at the moment approprié, would shout “Let all of the poisons that lurk in the mud hatch out!” Those who were not privy to our inside joke raised their eyebrows as if to imply that we were crazy… which we were… because (as you may well know) everyone has some measure of crazy in them.
The Amethyst Choker…
My first amethyst purchase was a choker that caught my eye in the window of a curio shop in Dinkytown, a charming little neighborhood affixed to the campus of the University of Minnesota. I was living there at the time, in a lovely student high-rise called “The Chateau”.
My boyfriend (later, husband) Dave and I were out for a walk when I spied a gold plated choker, fully studded with chunky amethysts, gleaming in the afternoon sun. I had to have it! The price tag read $5. As a “starving student” it wasn’t prudent to spend $5 on a luxury purchase, but if something has a strong magnetic pull on you, and buying it won’t mean going hungry, then sometimes it pays to be impractical. The five bucks will long be forgotten, but you may have that special character piece that so resonated with you, that was literally (okay, maybe not literally) calling out your name – for a lifetime!
I didn’t buy the choker, and 40 years later I still feel the pang of regret when I think about it. Those rocks were huge! Do you have any idea how much that would be worth today!? Yowza!
How many times have you talked yourself out of buying something you really, truly wanted, because you were trying to be “good”? I’m not talking about buying every lipstick, electronic gadget, or cool jacket that catches your eye… I’m talking about those very occasional one-of-a-kind special items that you feel deeply drawn to, that might cause a pinch in your pocketbook, briefly, but won’t break your piggy bank if you buy it for yourself…
Like the Goth Doll…
In the nouveau bohemian district known as “The Short North” in Columbus Ohio, at a popular monthly event called The Gallery Hop, in an extraordinary goth shop (R.I.P.) that offered magnificent cemetery statuary, gargoyles, and old carved mirrors – there was a beautiful, dark-haired goth doll that just took my breath away. Wanna-be vampire that I was, this was tailor made for me! I have never come across another goth doll before or since.. at least, not in person. Oh sure, I can
peruse AliExpress and find a plethora of exquisite ball-jointed dolls to drool over – but – with prices that start at $200! This sweet, dark treasure, however, was marked at… drum roll… twelve dollars! Twelve measly dollars!!
“Ah, but I’m unemployed and it would be so irresponsible of me to buy this doll”, I sighed.
I held her lovingly for several minutes, lightly running my finger across her smooth, delicate face, twirling her long black hair between my fingers before finally mustering up every ounce of willpower I had to wrench my grip from the doll and… walk. away.
I would have survived the $12 purchase and had the one-of-a-kind kindred-spirit doll for life – but instead, I have the life-long regret that I missed an opportunity… the opportunity that just might have been a gift from my spirit guides or higher self, to lead me to that store on that day, to this extraordinary doll that would have served as a little bit of joy to lift up my spirits during a bleak period in my life best represented by the tarot card: Dark Night of the Soul.
Or the Painting…
For the first time in my life I had a job that paid better than minimum wage. It covered my bills – and then some! I was finally able to move out of the small, government subsidized apartment I’d lived in for 22 years, and into a condo of my own.
I spent weeks searching for the perfect wall décor to mount over my living room sofa. In the basement of a JCPenney flagship store there was a section full of nifty framed prints. I suck at making decisions, but after perusing the art for an hour or so, I finally narrowed it down to two huge sofa-sized paintings. One was a gorgeous print of a grand piano ablaze with light from a sunny window. Besides having my breath taken away by the magnificence of the light rays, I was drawn to a splash of red that was so scrumptious I could almost taste it. The feeling that the picture elicited was one of quiet solitude and deep reflection.
The other print was also quite nice: an outdoor scene of a European café. It had all of the colors of my living room, and I really liked it. But I didn’t love it like I loved the piano picture.
My sister, who is very opinionated and never has any trouble making decisions, said “Get this one!” (The pleasant European scene). “That other one is sooo depressing!” That said, she took off for the appliance department. I stood there between the two paintings, feeling utterly torn.
While I ruminated over my choices, an elderly stranger with kind eyes approached me. He said, as if reading my mind, “Never buy art based on how it well it goes with your furniture; Always buy art that appeals to your emotions.” (I have since wondered if he was an angel who materialized a body just to impart some pearls of wisdom.)
How I wish I’d listened to him!! When my sister came back I had to make a swift decision. Partially influenced by her, and also with the perfect color scheme in mind, I bought the $150 European café… and I have figuratively kicked myself a thousand times because I didn’t buy the one that appealed to my heart! Now I can only enjoy the piano painting when I close my eyes and try to remember the sunlit window, that brilliant patch of red, and the music it evoked in my soul when I stood there in the store, staring at it and wondering “what to do… what to do..?”
In each instance, in hindsight, I wonder what the big dilemma was… the answer was so simple: buy the dang thing that resonated with the essence that is me! You only get so many chances in life to choose those extraordinary items whose true value goes way beyond the money that you paid for them.
I missed out on the gilded amethyst-laden choker, the doll with the dark eyes, and the ethereal piano in the sun. On the other hand, I still have my lovely book-bearing fairy statue, the hand-crafted King & Queen of the Tarot bookends, and the Franklin Mint Irish Princess doll, which I have not regretted buying for one second, and which still evokes a symphony of joy in my soul every time I look at them!
I wonder... what special object caught your eye, that you talked yourself out of and wish you could go back in time and retrieve? And what treasured item did your impractical side win out on, for posterity?
© by Kat 2017
I am someone’s mother.
In an otherwise lackluster existence, largely spent working or looking for work, there has been one bright, shining miracle-of-my-life who has given me countless moments of joy and unconditional love, without which, I seriously don’t think I would still be here.
It was a rocky start though. And I blame it on my saintly mother ;)
Mom always joked (or at least, she tried to pass it off as a joke, but I could swear there was a hint of evil gleam in her eye) “I hope someday you have one just like you!”
Evidently I was a handful from the get-go. I grew up hearing all about what a nightmare it was for my poor mom, who got no rest with a colicky infant. A neighbor once told her that until she got to know my mom, she (and the entire neighborhood) feared I was being beaten, based on the incessant screams that emitted from my evidently very healthy vocal chords. Mom was at her wit’s end, exhausted from lack of sleep, and suffering from post-partum depression.
And this – this, she wished on me?!
Oh sure, when I was young her “mother’s curse” made me laugh. How awesome was that… me, a feisty bundle of energy that made my presence known in the world.. Haha! Awesome me!
Sure wish I'd known about jade's "magical" qualities 40 years ago! I would have bought up every milligram of jade in Cleveland. My Bundle-of-Joy came wrapped in a blanket of colic. I didn’t sleep for 4 months!
“Pumpkin” was a marathoner of infant stamina… on his 4th day of life he went a full 21 hours in a row without sleeping a wink!! (I want to bitch-slap women who boast “Snookums sleeps so much I just have to nudge him to make sure he’s still alive”). Ha. Ha. Ha. (grrr)
Every night, I trekked up and down our long apartment hallway, jostling my son up and down as if I were a human carnival ride. (No simple holding or cradling would do). I did this for hours on end.
Just before dawn approached and my little cherub finally nodded off, I laid him gently in his crib, collapsed into my bed, slipped under the indescribably comforting electric blanket, and… stared at the ceiling for 2 hours, my body shaking, anxious that the baby would wake up any second now… and then, the moment I fell into blissful REM, the cry for sustenance rang out once more like an unrelenting car alarm, jolting me into the icy cold air to stumble, zombie-like to the kitchen to warm up a bottle of milk.
The “mother’s curse” was complete: I had one “just like me”!
... And I would do it all over again for the privilege and joy of being "Pumpkin's" Mom! *
If my son, who is all grown up now, and his wife, ever have a child,
I hope they have one ...
© by Kat 2017
“If Liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear”.
~ George Orwell
George Orwell was way ahead of his time. His sci-fi novel, “1984”, had a profound effect on me (long before 1984), resonating with my soul’s core. It was almost as if my spirit came into this body fighting for mankind’s freedom… in theory at least. In reality, I have not only not made an impact on anything of importance in this world, but I have developed a sense of hopelessness, at times, that comes with the realization that as far back into human history as our awareness reaches, there has never been a time of peace on this planet. It’s enough to make you give up on people… But don’t! There’s still time.
Turquoise. An ancient stone whose energy will help you to communicate with truth. Said to be the bridge between Heaven, Sky, and the Earth. Facilitates honest communication from the heart.
Oy, that’s a tricky one! As a Sagittarian with one foot never far from my mouth, honest communication has been the Wreck of the Hesperus in the sea of my life.
Upon walking the fine line between helping and hurting, when is it okay to act as the catalyst, to say what one needs to hear (or, more specifically, what you assume they need to hear) – and when are your words better left unsaid? There are no colorful, geometric signposts to clearly guide you down that road.
There has never been a time so accommodating for impulsive speech as the present, with our keyboard-ready Social Media platforms such as Facebook, on tap for all who yearn to speak. And it matters not whether the speaker is a sage wordsmith or a fool – all are free to sow seeds of soul-changing wisdom… or to swallow their big fat feet! I have done both. (The problem is, I often can’t tell the difference between the two!)
For years, my teenaged niece Abby couldn’t post enough selfies on Facebook. Everyday brought a new selfie and a barrage of assuring comments that let her know she was beautiful. It disturbed me. I saw a very fragile girl with a poor self-image, who was crying out for help.
Everyone else saw a teen having fun with a camera phone. Every time I saw this pattern exhibit itself on Facebook I wanted to scream at her friends: “Stop! You’re encouraging her to equate her self-worth according to her looks and her body weight!” But I didn’t say it. She lives several hundred miles away and I didn’t know her except on social media. I know how fragile teenage girls are, and I didn’t want to be the self-righteous aunt who butts in to criticize, and ends up being despised.
When Abby ended up in a treatment center I did send her a letter expressing my thoughts, dispensing advice, and sharing some information about her grandmother, who also had serious self-image hurdles as well as an alcohol addiction (which typically accompanies low self-esteem), and which, ultimately, caused her premature death.
I will never know if my communiqué was helpful, harmful, or neutral… but I felt compelled to send it anyway. I feel I would fail my soul if I didn’t at least try to communicate with people who are in pain – and I believe that all of us are in pain at one time or another. Some are always struggling with their inner demons; some manage to stay even keel most of the time, but not all of the time; and some always appear to have their life under control (which of course, is a façade).
Ultimately, Abby surprised me, and served to show that not all troubled teens (or adults, for that matter) end up as casualties in a world so boot-camp harsh that many don’t survive their personal challenges. But Abby did – in spades! She not only made it through her course of treatment – she capitalized on it! She faced her fears, took the proverbial bull by the horns, and became an outspoken voice and shining beacon for other young people. She did the talk circuit for schools and other venues, made motivational videos, and won awards. She has recently graduated from college with a degree in psychology, and plans to make helping teens with eating disorders her profession. She is going for her Masters in Non-profit Management. Her grandmother would be SO proud of this Little Engine That Could… (this little engine that DID!)
Abby’s peers listen to her; she makes a difference. She speaks in venues that invite conversation and comments. Her platform is one made specifically for the participation of those who come to hear. But what about the rest of us, who have no “license” to dispense advice… who see a problem and want to “fix” it with examples of our own struggles based on our own experience of trial and error, or of observations of others who have gone down a similar path? When is it okay to point out a negative that is so clear to you, in hopes that a future disaster might be prevented? Should we always sit back and watch as someone we love implodes, because, it’s “none of our business”?
I’ve pissed off my nephews… all of them… multiple times! (Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea culpa). But dammit, I can see what they can’t, and how could I live with myself if I don’t say something? I’m sorry, but there is no way in hell that I am going to “like” comments that are hostile, misogynistic, rash, or otherwise harmful to the individual or to society! When they post (just to site one example) an inflammatory vent against their friends for not sharing their posts, I think to myself “WTF? Where is all this anger coming from?”
Having lived several decades longer than my nieces and nephews, I have learned that not writing, not calling, and not sharing posts does NOT mean that someone is dissing you! It does NOT mean that they don’t like or care about you. It does NOT mean that they are disrespectful or do not appreciate you. It does mean that the days and weeks and months are moving at warp speed and somehow the things they intend to do, the friends they meant to call, always manages to be just ahead of them, and they never quite catch up. You can relate to that, right? I think we all can.
It could mean that maybe they are in a depression over a break-up or because of their failing grades. Or their father beats them and their way of coping is to retreat within and block people out. Or they barely have enough time to fit their jobs, their chores, their homework, and their artistic compositions into their busy schedule… and keeping tabs with all of their friends consequently must sit on the back-burner for a while. Or… incredible as this may seem… they might have never even seen your posts!
That actually happened. I couldn’t help myself. I see this sensitive, very talented kid post tirade after tirade against his friends, and I am compelled to point out perspectives that I feel he’s not even aware of. I want to help. I want for him to shed the negative attitude, which I recognize as very low self-esteem manifested as paranoia, and understand that he is responsible for his own self-worth, and that the world (and his friends and family) are honestly not against him. Unless you actually have a mob of torch-bearing villagers charging after you, yelling “Burn the Witch!”, chances are pretty good that people are not against you!
I could refrain from exercising my right to dispense “honest communication”, but if I don’t point out the obvious, who will? Certainly not the 33 “friends” who “liked” his diatribe against the “disloyal” friends! I guess the 33 are the “loyal” ones…? Thanks but no thanks! I would rather be the annoying friend that cares, than be a loyal sheep who feeds and encourages paranoia.
That said, I must also be honest and admit that when the shoe is on the other foot (in-mouth-disease), I don’t like it either! I have plenty of well-meaning friends and family who take it upon themselves (ad-nauseam) to let me know what my (in their humble opinion) shortcomings are – and when they do, I want to flick them on the head! “Yes, I’m fat, so what? No, I’m not a glutton, my metabolism took a powder 30 years ago. No, I’m not going to go on the magical diet that your friend went on, and you think I’m so daft that I can't see that your story is a not-so-veiled attempt to ‘help me’” (Grrr!)
Ultimately, you have to make the decision whether or not to “communicate honestly”. And with friends and family it is always a gamble. You can play it safe and say nothing, or you can risk your relationships knowing that even if your words cause anger and ire, you have planted a seed that might help the other person mature somewhere down the line.
There is one seed that I pondered “planting” a thousand times, but never did.
Her name was Mel and she was a co-worker in a department of young folks that felt like one big happy family. But whenever we saw Mel coming, we cringed. This girl didn’t know when to end a conversation, nor had she the ability to exchange simple greetings in passing. Just like the neighbor who was the bane of my mother’s existence in the 60’s, who came over every afternoon with 2 packs of cigarettes, a thermos of coffee, and the proverbial kitchen sink – when Mel approached your work station, she was there to stay!
I had a stack of paperwork to do. It was my job, after all. It was the reason my employer paid me, and frankly, I wanted to do my job, which I actually liked. But the boss wasn’t in on Saturdays, so Mel, who always did the minimum amount of required work, felt she had free rein to socialize. When I say that Mel would corner you for 2 to 4 hours at a time to talk your ear off, I’m not exaggerating! I even tried once, to get away from her by using the bathroom excuse… but…. she actually followed me to the bathroom and (for real) continued to speak as I sat on the toilet!
And as if being caught at the mercy of Mel’s monologue wasn’t bad enough, it was an assault so excruciating as to be akin to water torture. All she ever talked about was her perfect husband, who worked at (prestigious company) and her child, who was evidently fashioned from angels’ songs and kittens’ sighs.
Someone finally came up with a tactic that helped to rescue peers in need. When Mel had monologued someone to the point of stupor, one of us would ring up the phone at the desk of the person being held captive. It was a clever ploy that usually worked. Still, it only meant that one person was saved… there was still a whole department of other helpless victims to ambush!
Over the years I often wondered what it was that compelled Mel to talk… and talk… and talk… And why was she oblivious, if she was, to our plight and to her character flaw? What made her assume that her soliloquy was so important, that nothing anyone else had to say was even worth listening to?
I thought she should know. I assumed she didn’t, because who would bore people to death like that if they had any awareness of their problem? She was married.. how could her husband stand living with her? If that sounds mean, it isn’t intentional. She was a nice person outside of her narcissistic social faux pas, and for her sake (as well as ours) I wanted her conversational skills to be welcomed, not loathed, as I knew that as long as she had this problem her presence would be dreaded by everyone around her, for the duration of her life. But how does one go about telling someone that they are making a pariah of themselves… without offending them?
Answer: you can’t! You have to make that choice: sacrifice yourself to help someone who is going to be utterly mortified and hate you forever if you confront them… or… keep silent, knowing that the very sight of this person is causing dread in others, and that it can be fixed with the person’s awareness of the problem and some focused intent to change, or with professional counseling.
I chickened out.
I may “have the right to tell people what they do not want to hear” – but sometimes I choose to play it safe and hope they can overcome their social misgivings and addictions without any more suffering than is necessary. But, when I do choose to stick out my neck and put my foot in my mouth, it is always with the hope that I have planted a viable seed that will someday grow, even if it means losing friendships – and (sigh!) family relations – along the way.
But one thing is for sure… I will NEVER “like” or support a social media post where someone is lashing out at their friends, lovers, ex-lovers, the opposite sex, other cultures, etc., unless it’s something I really do agree with – or at least agree that the person is justified in feeling the way they do.
A post declaring that "most girls are bitches" is not one where I will click the "like" button. I tried to point out the fallacy of that statement on a Facebook post once... and most of my friend's friends were ready to lynch me.
If you support someone who is being irrational, acting from emotions, or promoting a belief that is detrimental to society (for example, that women are “whores”, or everyone is “against” him, or a parent who lost their child because they got distracted should be convicted, or that people deserve to starve if they are not duly employed) just because they are your friend – then you are contributing to a very real force of negativity amassing in Mass Consciousness that is only going to perpetuate the problems we have with one another in this reality soup in which we all dwell.
Thought is energy. Emotions are energy. Belief is energy. All those energies need to go somewhere, as energy does not die. Where do you think it goes? Negative energy manifests as hurricanes, earthquakes, civil unrest, war, anger, misunderstandings, relationship implosions, disease, terrorist acts, and every kind of breakdown, meltdown and heartache that humanity has suffered throughout our known existence.
Communication is paramount for understanding. But we have to know when to speak and when to listen. And we also have to learn how not to feed into negativity or spread it or support it.
So put down your torch and stop following the mob! You have a right (in fact, a duty) to be true to yourself, even if being true to yourself is not a popular opinion and doesn’t get you any “likes”!