50 Shades of Grey

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There. I got your attention.

You were expecting an expose exploring the lurid, titillating details of the sexual escapades of Christian and Anastasia. Sorry. I misled you.

My 50 shades are shades of “gray.” No salacious sexual exploits, but rather the myriad of blurry shades of life. The way I’ve always seen it, this world offers very little in the way of black or white. I sometimes wish I could see the world in those stark, well-defined lines of demarcation. You know, like you’re either a racist, pro-gun, fundamentalist, deplorable Republican, or you’re an elitist, commie, snowflake Democrat. Seems to me that would make life pretty easy.  No thought required. No painful mind-bending internal strife about the possible merits of a middle ground.

But alas, my lot in life has always been to trudge through the dingy, murky, misty shades of gray. Not just in politics, but in pretty much everything. Male/female/transgender. Black/White/Latino/Asian. Southerner/Northerner. West Coast/East Coast. Rural/Urban.  Shit, it really hurts my brain to not find an absolute. I’ve always been a semi-tortured soul who can’t seem to settle on the black and whites, the rights and wrongs, the good and bad.

But it’s not like I didn’t try.

As a pig-tailed little girl, sitting in a hard wooden pew in the back of the Southern Baptist Church, cowering as Brother Cobb slammed his fist onto the pulpit and watching curiously as his VO5’d hair flew in his face, I tried to take in his diatribe about homosexuals and their “abomination” in the eyes of the Lord. I tried to follow his “righteous” condemnation of those sinners who imbibed in demon alcohol, fell to the depravity of dancing and God-forbid, indulged in the Devil’s card games. But that was on Sundays.

On Saturday nights, I floated through my parents’ parties, admiring couples swaying to Billy Vaughn records, while others clinked their high balls and whiskey sours in celebration as a pair triumphantly reveled in their poker winnings.  And it just didn’t look sinful. It looked fun. It looked alive. It looked happy. After all, my parents and their friends were pretty cool, in a Mad-Men sort of way. They weren’t black and white, cut and dried. Some were Republicans who marched for civil rights, while others were Sunday School teachers who frequented Saturday night VFW pool halls.

Oh, the angst of doubting the absoluteness  of life, of people, of politics, of everything.

 

 

And though it’s taken me 50 years, 50 shades of gray struggles, 50 self-help books and therapists, 50 ways of wrestling with the disconcerting feeling that I don’t belong on either side of black or white, I’ve finally come to the conclusion that God himself/herself is not black and white either. The beautiful and diverse collection of nature and humanity confirms this for me. It’s right there, in an unending myriad of shades. And I think they are all beautiful.

 

 

Showering With Mozart.

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Every day, I shower with a 225-year-old musical genius. And every day, he inspires me as I soap up, scrub yesterday away, and emerge with a sparkling new canvas for the day. But it wasn’t always this way.

Actually, sometimes it’s not this poetic. Sometimes, we just exchange a cursory acknowledgement and it’s all business. But most times, when I push the button and the playlist begins, and I step into the warm water, the magic unfolds. I don’t know what it is about Mozart. It’s not like I’m a classical music aficionado. My childhood was Porter Wagoner and Dolly Parton, and my teen years were Styx, Queen, K.C. and the Sunshine Band and Earth, Wind and Fire. I don’t really know how Mozart snuck in there. But from the first moment I heard the notes, my brain lit up and something epic was triggered…seriously.

Being a chronic overthinker, shower time had always posed a daunting and even dreaded daily chore. Not the actual showering of course, but the down time it provided. Down time that I would fill with pondering the dismal plight of the inner-city kids I tutored every week, feeling the angst of the latest political fights on social media, or beating myself up over the flabby tummy I was lathering up.  So after years of emerging from the shower mentally and emotionally exhausted, I came up with the idea to shower with the one person who most calmed and inspired me, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. And it’s made all the difference.

moquote_follow_feelings_mozart-by-croce-1780-81When the Clarinet Concerto begins, my mind calms, my heartbeat slows and I’m filled with gratitude for the warm, cleansing water and the peace the music brings. And then, it starts:  The possibilities unfurl before me. A new business idea. A creative solution to a nagging problem. An encouraging thought about how lucky I am to have such great friends. A sense that there is so much more life to be lived, adventure to be explored, ways to be of service. Mozart spurs my authentic self to come out and play. It’s as if he reached through the 225-year time warp, and like e.t. with his laser-red finger pointing to my heart says, “I’ll be right here.”

And after a time, I shut the water off, grab a towel, thank Wolfgang and put him back into his playlist until tomorrow when we will meet again. And then I begin my day.

A “Tail” of Two Dogs.

There are two very important dogs in my life. Bo is our 9-year-old Bichon. Tully is my oldest daughter, Meredith’s, 5-year-old miniature golden doodle. There are many things about these two to share with you, but let’s start with the introductions:

Bo:

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  • Birth date: 8/21/08
  • Purebred Bichon Frise (more in a future post)
  • Prince of all Princes in the house
  • Allergic to humans, wool, maple tress and dust (more in a future post)
  • Is a Cat/Dog: “I will allow you to hang out with me, but it’s on my terms.
  • Has never done anything by the “book.” You know those dog books.
  • Sleeps til 9 or whenever you make him get up
  • Is completely oblivious to T.V.
  • Cardinals fan.

Tully:

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  • Birth date: 10/16/12
  • Golden Doodle
  • Poodle- brown, Golden retriever.
  • Prince of all Princes in the house
  • Has seizures, still investigating?
  • Is the cuddliest, most sensitive,emotional dog I have ever seen.
  • Has the sweetest temperament, but a most intimidating bark.
  • Gets up way too early.
  • Watches TV, especially passionate about animal shows.
  • Kansas City Chiefs fan.

 

 

 

It’s all interesting.

This blog is a long time coming. For years, I’ve threatened to write. Write a book. Write a magazine article. Write a blog. Know what kept me from actually doing it? I find it all interesting. See, I find everything and everyone in this world so interesting, and I mean everything and everyone.  Dancing, birds, the internet, Democrats, advertising, Africa, country music, Russian history, holistic heath, education, Netflix, photography, The Bachelor, Mozart, Republicans, small towns, big cities…I could go on and on and on…

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In fact, I find everything and everyone so interesting that I could never decide what or who to write about. How could I choose? You see my dilemma. I finally just decided not to decide. As author Barbara Sher puts it, “Refuse to Choose.” Yeah, Barbara, I’m stepping out, and I REFUSE TO CHOOSE! And this blog will be my celebration of all things and all people, as I have experienced them, see them now, and imagine them in the future.

Here goes…