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untitled for now

It began with a rope. Not any rope, a riata.  A long coil of hand braided leather with a running noose used to catch livestock, tether animals or showboat one’s cowboy roping skills. Riata, lariat, lasso made of genuine rawhide was my spouse’s newest tool (toy, hobby. obsession).  More unusual than the riata is the fact that my spouse and I are in our sixties, live in a metropolitan midwest city and have a few chickens that do not qualify as livestock.

The big fella was excited and professorial about the intricate processes and art form of riata making. My reaction was perplexed irritation. The pitch about the exercise and skill building fell on my deaf ears. I don’t recall seeing any noose loose in the front yard. I can relay, with conviction, that the riata became another decorative fixture in our living room.  She was a perfect companion piece to the soapstone bust of an African man now wearing one of the big guy’s Stetsons. (more to be revealed)

Angel Face

Sweet Angel Face,

Tomorrow you go to kindergarden. How is that possible? You do have a way of pushing some limits like your premature arrival, selecting your own outfits, and being wildly persuasive with your point of view. You, sweet child, are of stardust and possibility. I know you are excited and ready to make friends, learn in a classroom and practice being big.

This grandma is holding time and best intentions for your new adventure. You will always have me standing ready to hear your stories, thoughts and ideas and to laugh together. No one lights me up the way that you do. Grandpa and I are your biggest fans.

Not Raped

Never raped, not me, not yet. I don’t identify as being traumatized in sexual ways as a kid or young adult. Instead, I was an object or recipient of ‘little transgressions’ perpetrated by males. These incidents have surfaced from 50 years ago. Tiny sexual assaults and sexual harassments in my earliest work experiences –the life lessons about what it is to be female.
• Walking along a road at age 11-12 saw a boy riding a bike toward me on the same side of the street. I did not know him. He punched me in the breast as he rode past.
• I did a lot of babysitting. The husband was responsible for paying the sitter and taking her home.
On several occasions, different men, would try to kiss me, cop a feel or speak in ways that made me uncomfortable.
• While in grade school I was working in the concession stand at football games. Men or boys wanting to be men would leer and make salacious remarks about my body. I pretended I hadn’t heard or didn’t understand and gave them ordered items that were paid for with a smile.
• Sitting in summer school Typing class (pre-keyboarding), I noticed a boy swatting in the dark
Hallway trying to get my attention. We made eye contact. He gestured, spreading two fingers apart. When my face registered confusion, he forcefully pointed below my desk and rudely gestured to spread my knees, so he could look. I had on a skirt. I mouthed NO angrily.
He ran. I was rattled, sweaty and felt sick. This is the first time I have shared this from
56 years ago.
• At 15 my summer job as a soda jerk was always uncomfortable working alone with the owner
on Sunday nights. Business was slow the last couple of hours. I would broom the entire parking to escape to his creepy stare and create safe distance. This began the sharpening of gut speak.
• By 17, I worked at a downtown shoe store selling bags, hosiery and cashiering. The manager was a peeper, (voyeur) assigning me to dust and restock high and low shelving as he hid or positioned himself to try to glance up my skirt. I learned to navigate by calling him out in a humorous way. Unsatisfied he became bolder telling me what customer he planned to visually violate making me sickly complicit.
• At 18 walking with a few friends in broad day light, boys on bikes rode up behind us and goosed our behinds. Eighteen-year-old me thought this was racism, today I realize it was sexual.

I never told anyone. I reasoned this is a part of growing up. I think I remained confident and competent particularly about work. As I woman it was apparent to me this is a part of the world, the truth of being female. We females develop work- arounds, strategies to better protect themselves. The truth remains, the evidence cannot be refuted, even “tiny transgressions” teach females they cannot be safe of body, work, income, identity or freedom.

AutoFrustrate

I sent a quick text to my boss at work today.  I referred to patients in our usual abbreviation ‘pts.’ My dutiful file system photo album, entertainment, education, a.k.a. phone; changed it to say pets. In essence I bothered her at work while I am enjoying a day off  asking how we can obtain MP3 players for our pets. Granted, she is a dog-owning, canine lover but sometimes these little corrections might lead someone to think I’d fallen off the wagon….and on to my head.

My Little Shopper

The Littles, our young granddaughters are here often usually under Grandpa’s watch. They are familiar with everything in the house and quick to question variations especially about foods and activities. As a gleeful grandmother of girls, I shop for them often. Nothing extravagant, just play clothes, undies and pjs. I keep stuff on hand in case we need to clean up to go out in the world or changes due to spills or accidents. My favorite is getting them bathed and ready for bed.

I keep this stuff in the bottom drawer of my night stand. Hailee, the oldest and ringlet-headed leader, is all about new clothes, checking for any new items and getting first pick. That nasty habit COMPARISON begins so early. Sometimes I’ll buy them the same outfit to avoid a fight or because they are so close in age they could be called ‘Irish Twins.’ (Lordy, I hope this isn’t insulting given my Catholic roots and advancing age.) It tickles me how excited and curious they become over a package of panties, just like a lot of us big girls. Maybe it’s the prospect of new elastic.

One day last week bare-footed Hailee emerged from ‘her room’ wearing a pair of fuchsia socks that matched her outfit. Grandpa and I complimented how pretty they looked. When her folks arrived, her dad commented, “You have socks. Where did they come from?” “My room,” she stated. Her mom teasingly said, “In your room, where?” Hailee turned and looked at her mom and replied, “I got it from the I-need-it-drawer.”   End of conversation.

Oprah for President

Oh, and I do mean O what fun to imagine the campaign and term or two with Oprah Winfrey as commander in chief.

She already has millions of fans, is a powerful, impassioned, and proven orator. She has demonstrated grace, courage and humility in the public eye for decades with limited scandal. Oprah connects with people, all kinds of people. She is interested in understanding and influencing through education. Oprah READS, an art lost on the current White House tenant. Can you imagine the President’s Book Club?

There’s no topic off limits.The great is not prone to childlike tantrums or bullying.Oprah is far more likely to win someone over through reason, kindness, keeping them close,or sending a few of her favorite things.
She relies on research, evidence relying on professional and expert advice and in her decision making and strategy formation.

Powerful Leader

Oprah knows who she is and is confident. She needn’t blow her own horn or protest too loudly as does the incumbent. Oprah is in the habit of lifting people up, never  putting them down, belittling or name calling.
On the practical side, if O was president we would have dogs in the white house. Regarding the national deficit,her entourage is small compared the generations living on the nation’s dime today.We understand Oprah is not above a bit of nepotism- Gayle is definitely a part of the package.

Oprah is a media darling. She came up through the newsroom as a reporter and understands the power and sacred trust of a story and the effects on its audience. Oprah is fun. She loves the arts and is curious about the world. Oprah has invited us into her home, shared recipes, and sent many home with leftovers. She remains frugal and detail-focused. She expects her Tupperware to be returned. Oprah is trust worthy.
We have seen her at every size and in her pajamas. We’ve danced with her, thought we were backups for Tina Turner. Oprah creates intimacy and relationship. Sometimes we learned more than we wanted or needed to know about very intimate topics.

RV sales, Fly Fishing and our National Parks visits would all increase with replays of the Oprah and Gayle
Camping adventure.

I feel happier, encouraged and hopeful about the future of this country with this little fantasy. Feel free to add and embellish about Oprah as President.
Michele, Party of One

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fishy

Bemused today realizing a single beta fish at Selah House has 1) survived; 2) provided so much interest, amusement, work; and 3) become a social media star.  Yep, this flashy teal-finned fishy photo bomber has had 6 postings in three months. Staff were approached and a recent regional conference and complimented about the savvy use of pet fish photos. The thrilled marketing team learned that other centers were now trying to compete. Can you believe that a beta fish from a barrel now has established social media name recognition as Frederick the Fish?

Freddie wasn’t “all that” when he arrived in water filled plastic bag. None the less the girls were thrilled. His sequined skin and feathered fins were pretty.  I really didn’t anticipate a great survival rate for him. My prior pet fish experiences were of the church carnival or county fair variety where ping pong balls targeted your selection. You know, the goldfish you bring home in a bowl or plastic bag who dies within 48 hours or sooner if you took it on the midway rides. Frederick’s housing was a starter model, a modest plastic semi-circle with about a quart of water capacity.  A tacky image of foliage was included for a backdrop for the little bug-eyed guy.

Over time the tiny cold-blooded fish with peacock plumes inspired stories, listened to words meant for no else’s ears yes, he listened deeply and never judged. He companioned many a young woman as she spoke to family, wrote letters or journaled, never once editing their words. Frederick, was encouraged by the girls to find his voice, and as they found their own, he had no words, only thought bubbles. Can a pet fish become beloved?

But what irks me his rise to social media fame. He entertains by simply living. Meanwhile I try to entertain with meandering thoughts and stories.  Frederick the Fish easily outpaced my word count with flashy flips of his fins.

Erma Bombeck and Me

Erma Bombeck Writer’s Workshop 2016, a.k.a. # EBWW2016 or #2016EBWW for the tweet-worthy, was more than a treat for this twit! It was a dream, albeit a dream of only three year’s duration.  I learned about the Erma Bombeck Writer’s Workshop from a new friend while in Fargo, North Dakota where I was exploring and learning about the Business of Public Speaking from the amazing Renee Rongen.  Participant Lanelle Vasichek mentioned her plan to sign up to attend in 2014 EBWW. When I heard Erma’s name uttered my head whipped round cranking back the clock 3 decades.

There in the kitchen of my childhood home my mother was reading the Erma column to me. Her favorite past articles were meticulously cut and stacked in my mom’s steno notebook Occasionally Erma’s wit and wisdom were taped on the refrigerator door as semi-jovial reminders for offending children or a clueless spouse to reiterate Mom’s position concerning household chores, laundry, or god forbid, why driving a hole into a wall to hang ANYTHING should not be a capital offense.  Erma Bombeck columns, books and appearances on Phil Donohue or elsewhere were highlights to her.  Mother was fun in those times. Erma brought out the laughter and connection of spirit in her and began a shift in the mother daughter relation when I could see my mother in those stories.  I heard my mom again in thinking about the Erma columns.   My avid interest about the workshop within driving distance from home quickly became wistful, melancholy and within days forgotten.

Not so for my capable, get her done friend Lanelle. She went. She LOVED it. Learned loads and made wonderful connections and vowed to attend again sometime.  She encouraged me to check it out. Erma and my mom, Florence, a.k.a. Hank, spoke to me out loud. Seriously! The 2016 event was posted as March 31st– April 4- at least that’s how it appeared to me. My mom birthday and wedding anniversary was March 31st.  She died on April 4th.  I knew then that she would approve of this expenditure and journey toward personal improvement.  Though not much of a long term planner, I put the dates on my electronic calendar. Every couple of months I would check for updates. Limited size, popularity, and all the amazing writers who had attended added to my anxiety. Maybe the only think I pursued with more vigor was childbearing /adopting to become parents.

It was a kind of sacred journey filled with many unknowns and all the unnecessary fears and doubts about being out of my league, misguided, my shameful wanting of MORE.  A Sacred Journey- ABSOLUTELY true for me.  Doubts and fears escalated markedly upon arrival when the first question was, “Is this your first time? Oh, you’re and Erma virgin!”  I cringed, started to sweat, thinking CRAP, It’s a CULT .  The cheerful, loving and excited banter, seeped through my crusty cynicism. The passion was infectious. Every good cruise begins with the mustering. Might as well don the lifejacket and get it done.

What a journey. So many others have shared themselves and their experiences at the EBWW demonstrated their writing proficiency and storytelling ability.  I shared daily reactions daily with my lovely cousin and her husband, my Dayton hosts of  5 Star quality lodging and hospitality. I visited my aunt, mom’s only sister, soon to be ninety. I could string a three strand necklace of the pearls gathered at this treasured experience.  It seems though I need to do this a pearl at a time, taking many dives.

I’ve come up for air several days now since the workshop, thinking, processing, spewing parts of the story, testing a listener of two’s interest. Tonight I put down my scepter, straightened my crown and perched upon this chair having basked in the Erma Bombeck experience to assume  duty to tell my stories.  Because everyone has a story and they are worth being told.   More about cruises, crowns and on becoming a queen are topics to be addressed sometime soon.   Thanks for reading. It’s great to get your reactions and feedback because I spend way too much time as a party on one.   Michele

Blogging 101 Day 9

It’s hard to explain what draws one to another. For instance, scrolling through hundreds of URLs of Blogger 101 participants I selected checked out five of six. Two of the sites lingered with me. http://kenwhitehawk.com and kidneyingaround.wordpress.com.
Both address much of the unseen or poorly understood, Native American, Ken Whitehawk honors sacred traditions and is gifted in seeing beyond the here and now doing psychic readings.

Kidneyingaround’s author has a great sense of word play, and speaks with an authentic patient’s experience of both political activist and someone affected by chronic illness and depression.

It’s always about the conversation and how a story unfolds.
http://kenwhitehawk.com/contact/?contact-form-id=50&contact-form-sent=145&_wpnonce=52747225ce#contact-form-50
Sometimes my job is to be a vessel or container for words. Sometimes a messenger while other times a touchstone or connection. I love the journey of learning and living.

In the Beginning

Blogging 101 Day 2

When I started to write it was with the intent of working toward some larger projects. The blog was to test material, to build confidence. The dream was to publish a couple of books I have in mind that are wildly successful and to be asked to read my own words to audiences. I’ve learned much in the process- the biggest of course is how little I know.

But I do know with certainty the importance of words gifted to this reader as lifeblood, an essence to living each day. So I will keep plugging away. In the meantime I am called to share stories, strength and hope as professional speaker. With that in mind, I’m making some changes to my site. I hope readers will respond and stick around.

If we happened to meet in an elevator or at a business or social function here’s my latest introduction.

Hi I’m Michele Wood
Nurse. Speaker. Crusader. Entertainer. A trained observer, fascinated by Humans –especially their interior and private parts that fuel writing and story-telling guaranteed to teach and amuse. A big, colorful, lifetime of experience, service, strength and hope are my credentials.
Looking for strategies to heal, improve and revitalize your organization, employees, and community? Could you use a jolt of child-like wonder, hopefulness and peace? Do you want your team to feel strong, confident, understood, respected and absolutely capable? Invite me to visit. I’m in the business of restoration, repurposing, laughter, and making people better.