The Pink Notebook

Essays on Asking & Receiving

Category: HuffPo Posts

Actually…Who Knew? 10 Things My Mom Got Right

When I was a rebellious child and teen, my mother wasn’t right about anything that related to me. She thought she was, but she wasn’t.

Now that I’m in my 50s, it turns out she actually was right. Unfortunately, she didn’t live long enough for me to get it and acknowledge it to her. So sorry, Mom. I hope my daughter gets it before I’m gone, but if she doesn’t, well, it will probably just serve me right.

It’s not perfect amends, but maybe a Mother’s Day retrospective will go some apologetic distance, and maybe get some of you reflecting on what your mom may have actually known. If so, and she’s still alive, please tell her so.

Here are some of my revelations that Mom tried to convey way back when…

1. I actually do look better in short hair. I finally cut it all off a few years ago, mostly because I got tired of trying to make it work. Turns out it didn’t work because I stubbornly refused to listen to Mom when she said, “Your face shape is perfect for a pixie cut.” They called them that back in the day. “Just like Mary Martin in Peter Pan.” I prefer to think of Ellen, but yah, I have found the hair that fits my face. And I’m so happy. Complete strangers come up to me in weird places and tell me that I’ve “inspired” them to do it, too. Crazy, but nobody ever said that to me when I had long hair.

2. Blue actually does look good on me. When I was a fashionista teen, I hated that my mom kept telling me “blue was my color.” I don’t know why really; maybe it just wasn’t a cool color when I was in high school, unless it was the denim blue of jeans. But now I find that my skin tone, eye color (blue) and hair color really light up when I wear some shades of blue – like turquoise, or teal. Red is still my favorite color, but I have blue things, and I’ve made my peace with the idea that it’s a good color.

3. Being over-dramatic isn’t just annoying and stressful to others, it’s actually self-damaging. I was the ultimate drama queen. Everything was a story…everything was emotion-filled. I yelled and slammed doors when I was mad. Everything was a big production. Not surprisingly, I did well in high school theatre. But the older I get, the more I realize how much anxiety and pressure I dumped on myself when I expended so much energy in catastrophizing everything. Seeking peace in my life started with first asking, “What’s the worst that could happen here? Really?” and going from there. The annoying to others part…that’s really covered in #4.

4. I actually should think before I speak. (Corollary: Not everything I think necessarily should actually come out of my mouth.) Yah. Big one. I always thought that being totally honest meant you had to say what you were thinking in every situation, with everyone. I didn’t understand what discernment, or filters, or boundaries, were. Not all the way there yet, but I’m definitely working on it.

5. Actually, I can be my own worst enemy. Sad, but true, Mom. She always would say this when some disaster befell me, and it was always in a voice tinged with sadness, and a shaking of the head. I thought she was just being dramatic, so it made me angry. I now see that it actually hurt her that I was self-destructive. I see this now so clearly that I’m a mom. Moms’ hearts hurt for their kids when they see them hurting themselves. It will ever be thus. Sadness for what they have to suffer, and acceptance of the reality that as a parent you are helpless to prevent it happening to them.

6. It actually does matter if a family sits down to at least one meal a day together. This I didn’t figure out until my daughter got into her teens and started missing the dinner meal with me. Our daily connection didn’t happen, because that was the one time of day we had been able to count on, if no other.

7. Life actually is short. Is this something we ever get when we’re young? Probably not. And maybe that’s as it should be, but I sure get it now. Approaching the big 6-Oh! this  year makes me crystal-clear on that subject.

8. It actually doesn’t kill me to say I’m sorry. This one I wish I’d gotten a lot sooner in life. As a result, I have a long list of life amends to make now, and I’m getting busy with that. I’m also learning that there are right and wrong ways to do it.

9. I really don’t know what I’m talking about. Okay, okay, I said it. I had no idea what I didn’t know when I was young. The more education and life experience I got, the “smarter” I thought I was becoming. And then a funny thing started happening. Everything I learned begged 10 more questions to which I didn’t have the answers. It was as if there was a natural formula of the universe revealing itself to me, and it looked like this: Knowledge > = Knowledge <

Happy Mother’s Day in heaven, Marguerite Alice Freidenberger. You were right all along.

10. Mother really does, actually, know best. It is true that our elders know more than we do and they deserve our attentive and curious ear. But moms (and dads) even more so. Nobody on earth will ever know you or love you with the fierceness and hope for your life success of your parents. They are not be perfect, or always healthy enough to love you in the way you should be, but no matter who they are, they have a bond with you that nobody can ever share.

If you’re a mom, Happy Mother’s Day. If you’re a son or daughter, think about sharing this with your mom on Mother’s Day. It may start a conversation you’ll remember forever.

Ask, and you shall receive…

A New Year, A New Way

In 2002 or so, I wasn’t in the best place…physically, mentally, or spiritually. I was struggling with my life and music was my savior. I was actively writing songs for myself and for a friend’s band I played in called Jo’s Diner.  One day, for whatever reason, I decided to make an EP (a short version of what used to be called an “LP”…a long-playing record, or album.) The EP was called Fragile Heart and it contained six songs, five of which were mine. A colleague I performed with graciously agreed to play sax on the little project, and we recorded it in another friend’s studio in Saskatoon…

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The Gift of the Other

Celebrating the best birthday gift of all

Today is my birth year birthday. I was born in 1958, and today I turn 58 years old. I was only recently acquainted with this special birthday and decided it was a random reason to do a little thinking. (Apparently there’s also a “golden” birthday, which happens when your birthday falls on the day of your birth [i.e. if you were born on a Thursday, every birthday that falls on Thursday is golden.] I think. If you know it’s different, please comment!) But only the birth year birthday happens once in a lifetime. Continue reading

What I Learned About Life From Berry-Picking

Abundance, Perspective & Opportunity

When I was a pre-teen, we moved out of the city to a rural acreage. We did this because my brother had died tragically at 19 in a car accident, and my mother couldn’t bear living in the house where he’d been raised. It was meant to be a fresh start for our family, and it was full of new adventures. The first thing that happened was that my sister and I got horses. The property housed a large dog kennel operation, which we inherited. It became the focus of our lives for the next seven years.
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Healthy Blackberry Crisp

a recipe

Prep Time: 15 minutes (not counting berry-picking! 🙂
Cooking Time: 45 minutes
Cooling Time: 10-15 minutes
Time to table: 1 hour 15 minutes
Servings: 4 (I always double this at least, bake in separate pans and freeze the extra.)

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Ivanka Schmanka

or, The Moral Dilemma of Fashion Vs. Politics

So I grew up in Kansas at a time when the state was Republican, but had a Democrat as its governor. Is it any wonder I was politically conflicted? The older I get the more I realize that left and right party ideals are not nearly as black and white as they used to be. And in those decades, the traditional two parties have devolved into a spectrum of grays, like center Republicans (are they conservative Democrats?) and other splinters like the Tea Party that some describe as just a smidge left of the Ku Klux Klan.  So these days I define myself more by what I feel is right and wrong to me rather than by a party affiliation. Continue reading

The Perfect Pity Party: So much pity; so little time

5 Rules & 3 Theme Ideas

Why me, Lord? Maybe you just received divorce papers. Or you broke your favorite cut glass serving bowl from your grandmother (not that I just did that), or were rejected when you asked for something. Whatever the disappointment, sometimes you just need to throw yourself a feelings feté.

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The Perfect Mother’s Day Gift for New Mothers: A Crystal Ball

(First posted on May 6, 2016 on the Huffington Post)

I’m Skyping with my friend Marie the other day, and as we’re solving the world’s problems, the subject turns to the upcoming May 8 holiday celebrating moms. We’re both moms of now-adult children, so it makes us a bit reflective on the subject. She says, “I always said the perfect Mother’s Day gift would be a crystal ball…The perfect gift you could never have.”

“Hah! No kidding,” I reply.

But what if there was? Continue reading

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