Category Archives: One life, many stories

Saying Sorry Doesn’t Mean You’re Wrong

Picture this for a moment: There is a family gathering and someone, let’s call him Talker, is less than sensitive during a conversation — maybe too honest, maybe forgetting that adults, unlike children, filter conversation for the sake of peace and harmony.

One thing leads to another, and Talker hurls careless words like blades. Words directed at another family member and it’s obvious they cut deep — unnecessarily so.

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Some folks detest lack of sensibility in any situation, let alone in a party setting.  So, they pull Talker aside and say: “Cut it out. Grow up. Show some tact.” That leads to additional words, none pleasant. Things are eventually worked out, but resentment  builds like a distant storm.

Feelings are hurt, egoes are trampled upon, and silence replaces laughter for a while.

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Eventually, everyone is back to talking, having fun. There is laughter, but it’s never the same for some participants. They go home with this heavy feeling — Talker was wrong … but maybe, just maybe, they should have kept quiet. Should not have said everything they said to him. Trying to see both sides, maybe there’s more to the story — a nuance they don’t know. Is there?

To right a ‘wrong’ — this is family, after all — calls are made, apologies offered. We want the bad feeling to stop. Value relationship more than  ego. There’s guilt. So many reasons to call.

We’re comforted by the words we hear, by the promises made. Everything is fine. Maybe. Lingering doubt remains, but peace of mind feels so good.

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So, what say you? Apologies: force them out, regardless of the situation, to make bad feelings go away?

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Photo credits:

Peace Out Art Print by Skye Zambrana | Society6; artofagoodapology.jpg; i_wouldn__t_trust_you_anyway_by_mssirpercy

Survivor

Real life stories percolate for some time, and eventually they must be told. Here is a short one (aside from the name, I changed very little).

Survivor

The trouble with Paige was she never smiled. She had no physical defect, but would not allow herself that simple act. Even her laughter, and she laughed, sounded like crying. Something inside her rebelled against the notion of happiness.

Why, I wondered … what had happened to her? I tried to ask, but she’d change the subject. Never discussed her past, birthdays or family; only her friends spread all over the country.

When she shut her office door with a loud thud that morning I left her alone. I wasn’t in the mood for cajoling, for peeling back another layer.  

The call came on Monday morning, the day after a weekend party filled with good food, music and friends. With lots of friends, except for Paige. She eschewed anything remotely extravagant, worked twelve-hour days, and donated twenty percent of her salary to all known and unknown causes.

 “I have breast cancer,” Paige said into the phone. 

“No.” Besieged by emotion, I stuttered like a broken record. “When … How do you know?”

“Wednesday. Found the lump while taking a shower on Wednesday and saw the doctor on Friday.”

“But it could be benign. You get the results back?”

“They gave me the look. The doctor, the radiologist. Nothing from the lab yet, but they gave me the look. It’s cancer.”

Everything she predicted came true three days later when I sat outside her oncologist’s office, waiting for Paige. She wanted to hear the news alone, but I insisted on driving her there. With legions of friends all over the country, Paige lived alone in her two-bedroom apartment on the west side of Los Angeles. Alone and loving it, until disaster struck.

Now, her toughness peeled away layer-by-layer exposing the helpless side of the most difficult person. What took a lifetime of resentment to harden her took one word to break. Cancer.  She didn’t weep, but she was broken. Her eyes glazed over now and then as we sat waiting for the nurse to call; the eyes behind the mind likely to have ventured into a darkness she needed not visit – because, I decided, she was going to beat this damn thing.

“Stage three HER-2 positive estrogen negative cancer,” Paige said when we reached the parking lot.

She went on to say HER-2 is an aggressive form of cancer, one that tests positive for a protein called human epidermal growth factor receptor 2. Not good. 

I put my arm around the shoulders of my friend whose short legs, she’d once complained, kept her from walking fast but took her so quickly out of the oncology department I almost slipped down the steps, struggling to keep beside her.

She took no calls for three days. The mutters of discontent were gone, replaced by defeat stares.  

Her road was treacherous – surgery, radiation, recovery – but Paige did it; a year later she was cancer-free. Three years later and she’s back to seeing the doctor for yearly physicals, like everyone else. And to celebrate, she returned to her grumbling, her dissatisfaction with … everything.  And that’s fine with me, because that’s my healthy Paige.

A Short Book Review and Vacation Inspiration

Often we concentrate on deep thoughts or challenging moments to stimulate the mind and come up with stories — to find inspiration — and in the process miss the great in life, such as reading a book or the picturesque scenery outside our window. 

Where do we find inspiration? Let’s start with reading.  

I don’t do many reviews, and, full disclosure, the author is a writing friend, but that doesn’t take away from the merit of her new book, out from MuseItUp Publishing.

PART ONE (A short review)

“Crumple Zone has drama, suspense and mystery all wrapped up in one.

Lara looks to get away from her disappointing life in Seattle and in doing so she walks into one full of conflict — albeit of a different and more potent kind — when she meets Enrique in the Atacama Desert of Chile. Talk about a change of pace and scenery. The author takes us to one of the most barren yet beautiful places in South America. Aside from the greatly woven suspense the book deserves high marks for the descriptions and scenery.

In Lara and Enrique we have two people from two very different backgrounds and cultures who find themselves in an emotional place in their lives, a state of mind filled with false impressions. By following them along the way, I was wrapped in the physical, emotional, and psychological aspects of two colliding lives. And that makes for a great read … from start to finish.

A suspenseful book, interesting characters, and a storyline that might keep you reading late into the night. I highly recommend it.”

PART TWO.  

Inspiration — where do we find it? Does it come to us freely? Do we analyze thoughts or emotions, look back at life, go on vacation?

Well, we recently traveled to San Diego, CA. And San Diego, with its beautiful scenery and quaint neighborhoods, is a ride of brilliance, but while there any thought of inspiration eluded me.

Ideas spun around in my head fighting for attention, but nothing surfaced … not even enough for a flash story. However, as I look through the photos, ideas spark and seem to organize into the beginning of something comprehensible.

Here are a few pictures:

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Sun rays over the bay

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The view from the thirty-sixth floor

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Street performer in the Gaslamp District

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An island in the distance.

Life is full of inspiration — whether provided by a book, a weekend getaway, or reflections upon life.  So, I’m curious: how do you find yours?

Y is for Young at Heart

Remember how good it felt to goof off as a child? When laughter came easily, skipping and jumping brought the simplest joy? Relaxing and letting go at the end of the day … no problem. Sleep, oh I remember sleeping so well as a child.

Then we grow up, as we should. But while taking on grownup worries and tasks, there’s a part of us — I know this is true for me — that stays young. We’re young at heart.

I still want to laugh, and I do, giggle and goof off. Granted, I’m not what’s referred to as old at 43, but hey, that jumping I did as a child does a number on my joints now.

I feel the changes, oh, yeah. The aches, the inability to stretch and exercise as well as I did. But dang it, I still want to have fun. Get together with girlfriends and act silly, go to carnivals and amusement parks, put on make up just because, and color my hair in rainbow colors. And dance, oh, I love dancing.

I lived in Europe in my teen years, when ABBA were big. Disco dance, remember?  “Dancing Queen Feel the beat of the tambourine, oh, yeah …”

I don’t do all those things mostly due to lack of time, but I squeeze some in. And why not? If fifty is the new thirty, then forty is the new twenty, right? Can’t say I was all grown up at twenty, though I did a great job pretending I was.

I sometimes see people of a certain age on the street dressed and made up as if they’re never too old to be young at heart. And I say, good for them. Laughter comes easily to them, I can tell, and that’s wonderful. Laughter is good medicine, good for the soul, contagious. All true. When I laugh — I mean really laugh — I feel good.

So, here  is to staying young at heart and celebrating your inner child. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go crank up Dancing Queen.  

~~~ How do you stay young at heart?

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Photo credits: Young at heart, from galaguru.com; abba-dancing queen, from brokeassstuart.com