Tag Archives: wisdom

An Equation for Evolution, This Week At Least

25 + (20 – $5) + 20/20  = 500

Let’s start with 25…

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I’m in the lower left, grabbing my left boob in an archaic inside kind of joke thing that we did back in 1990.

I’m still processing everything that happened this weekend at my 25 year college reunion. One thing that has sat with me for days is the idea of evolution. A friend complimented how much I had “evolved” at one of our class parties. At first, I tried to turn it into a joke–like I was winning the tiny trophy for “Most Improved.” Then I corrected myself and accepted her gift of that word. She meant good things–how we navigate growing up successfully when we develop and diversify based on the things that happen to us. I have done that. We get our edges worn away and we figure out what works. Yep, done some of that, too. We keep moving and changing. We grow. So yeah, I guess I have evolved in the last 25 years.

+ 20

It’s been 20 years since I married Fartbuster, as of today. I wonder what it would be like to sit across a table from the me that was me 20 years ago and listen to her. At 26, I was excited to be getting married…FINALLY. wedding-407487_640I don’t think I ever took a moment to ask, “What’s in this for me?” All I wanted was To Be Married, so I married the person I loved at the time. I didn’t spend much time thinking about What I Wanted In a Partner. I thought that love was enough. I didn’t understand much about the other two things–honor and cherish. I didn’t consider whether he honored me and I figured he would learn to cherish me. I did love him. I think he loved me. But we were 26. How would I see that young woman–would I pity her, admire her innocence, or get fed up with an earful of her bullshit?

-$5

At the rehearsal dinner 20 years ago, I walked across the restaurant and knelt down beside our family friend, Wally. My mom snapped a photo as I handed Wally a crisp $5 bill. After a quick “Do you remember that time…,” Wally and I roared with laughter over something I had told him 6 years before.

The summer between my junior and senior years of college, my then boyfriend went on a long vacation with his family. I felt miserable and alone, and super jealous that he was cruising in Greece while I was working as a temp secretary in a credit office. My mom and I were over at Wally’s house for dinner one night and I kept moping and sighing and missing my beloved. There was a teensy bit of angsty wallowing going on.

Wally got sick of hearing it and told me to get over it, and knowing Wally’s acerbic tongue, it was along the lines of “Young love, my ass.” He and my mom laughed. I shouted, “Y’all think you know everything just because you’re older. I’ll have you know that I know myself and I love him and I will always love him!” Wally hooted and snapped, “I bet you FIVE DOLLARS that you don’t even know where that boy is five years from now.”

"Oh YEAH? We're young but we are IN LOVE."

“Oh YEAH? We’re may be young but we are IN LOVE.”

Wally was right. I had no idea where that boy had gotten to, and here I was marrying a different true love. So I paid him his five bucks.

(20/20)

Twenty twenty hindsight. I’ve acquired some of that over the years. That junior in college really did love her boyfriend with everything she had–but it didn’t last another year. And the young bride handed over $5 in recognition of what a wise old friend knew that she didn’t. The divorced woman at 31 learned the hard way that she should have asked some sharper questions before making those vows. The widow at 36 didn’t have anything to regret, but everything to lose. Now the mother at 46 looks back on them all with loving kindness.

Given the 20/20 nature of hindsight, I feel empathy for the me that was a few hours away from marrying Fartbuster twenty years ago. I’d give her a hug more than a talking to, because she was doing her best.

Evolving is about going THROUGH life experiences, not trying to skip them or stay safe or rush past. When life ends up teaching a tough lesson, my hope is that I will pack it up for the journey and keep moving.

MD39The-Best-Way-Out-Robert-Frost-Posters

=500

And this is the 500th post on Baddest Mother Ever. I’ve learned so much in this space and over these two years. To accept who I am now and accept that I was doing my best back then. To love, honor, and cherish MYSELF above all others, even the ones I love. May we all continue to evolve.

A Sentence That’s Always True

Last night, just after I had taken my antibiotics and some ibuprofen to battle strep throat, I wrote my gratitude list for the day.  My body felt gross all over from the fever and my throat felt like raw glass every time I swallowed.  So in my list, I wrote “I can go to the doctor when I need to,” and “G took care of the kids so I could rest.”  I added a few more lines about the kids and my excitement over BlogHer.  For the last line in my gratitude list, I wrote, “This too shall pass.”ring

When the throat pain woke me up at 5 a.m. that morning, I thought it was postnasal drip.  By lunchtime, when the pain continued to escalate, I remembered our pediatrician saying, “A sore throat without a cough is strep,” I didn’t wait any longer.  Went straight to the doc in a box and felt great relief when I walked out with a positive strep test and a prescription.  I know that I will feel better in about 24 hours.  I know now what I’m dealing with, I’ve taken the actions that I can take.  Now I rest in the knowledge that “this too shall pass.”

But where’s the comfort in “this too shall pass?”  This proverb is often attributed to King Solomon, but it also appears in the works of Sufi poets.  I’ve heard it told that King Solomon asked his greatest wise men to think of a sentence that is always true, under every condition and in every situation.  The wise men, after much consideration, presented him with the sentence “This too shall pass.”  Solomon had the sentence inscribed on a ring so that each day, he could turn the ring and remind himself of something that was always true.

We most often hear this phrase in tough times, when we remind ourselves that the pain of today will pass.  The sore throat will heal.  The teenager will come around.  The job situation will resolve itself.  The budget won’t always be this tight.  Sleep will come tomorrow night.

Do we remember to say it on good days too?  As my son runs towards me to give me a hug, do I put down my phone so I can hug him with both arms?  When my daughter wants me to play some complicated game that she’s invented herself, do I make the time?  When the frogs are croaking outside, do I sit and listen?  Because this too shall pass.

One of the greatest lessons I’ve learned with time, with grief, with joy–is that this too shall pass.  The great lie that my depression used to tell me is “you will always feel like this.”  That’s not true.  The great lie that anxiety tells me is “you will always feel like this.”  Nope, it passes.  Physical pain, emotional pain.  It passes.

Every night, I sneak into my son’s room after he’s asleep to run my fingers through his hair.  Because this too shall pass.

Saturday Snort–Say What??

You-clearly-look-confused-lYesterday, I made reference to a traditional Polish proverb:  “Not my circus, not my monkeys.”  Here are some other odd sayings from other languages…

  • Hebrew: You don’t threaten a prostitute using a penis.
  • Russian: Don’t threaten a hedgehog with your naked butt.
  • Korean: You got a cat to watch your fish. (you came up with a solution that didn’t solve anything)
  • Norwegian: Taste is like the butt. It’s divided.
  • Finnish: Climbed up the tree ass first (idiotic)
  • My Grandfather:  You’re going around your ass to get to your elbow.
  • French: Having noodles framing your asshole (lucky)
  • Arabic: You bury me (I love you so much, I want to die before you do)
  • Spanish: I don’t even have a dead guy at this funeral (I don’t have a dog in this fight)
  • German: Two idiots, one thought (great minds think alike)
  • Russian: In times like these, it helps to remember there have always been times like these.

Ten True Things

Here’s a list of truisms that floated through my head this morning between 6:33 a.m. and 8:00 a.m.:  The Dreaded School Run.

  1. “Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.”   (Ben Franklin, who clearly did not have Jon Stewart and Steven Colbert keeping him up until all hours.)
  2. “Never argue with a fool.  Onlookers may not be able to tell the difference.”  (Mark Twain.  This also applies to a grumpy 6 yr old.)
  3. “Charity begins at home.”  (My stepmother, Big Gay.  All the kindness in the world stems from the patience and love we share with each other at home.)
  4. “There’s a reason God gives children to young people.”  (My Grandmama Eunice, who raised several and did a fine job.)
  5. “Always pay attention to your rear view mirror.  What’s happening behind you can be far more dangerous than what’s going on in front.”  (Mom, who clearly drove with a snarl of little children in the back seat.)
  6. “Never buy a house on a yellow line street.”  (Vickie, my first realtor.  Who wants to raise kids in all that traffic?)
  7. “Don’t tailgate someone driving a Dodge.  They’re already mad and they’ve got nothing to lose.”  (Daddy)
  8. “What goes around, comes around.”  (Myself, laughing at the dumbass who PARKED in the drop off lane at school then couldn’t get out.  Hate it fer ya.)
  9. “Mind your pennies and the dollars will take care of themselves.” (Another from Big Gay, and the reason I had a yogurt instead of pulling through a drive through.)
  10. “Friends multiply your joy and divide your sorrow.”  (a coffee mug I saw once)

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If You Walk Out of Your Panties…

Yesterday, I shared with you some sage advice about fools from my father’s side of the family.  Today, let’s turn to my mother’s side of the family.  I’d like to share a nugget of advice that my Grandmama Irene told me 30 years ago that I have never forgotten:

“If you ever walk out of your panties, just keep walking.”

 

“Come again?” you might ask, as you clutch your pearls and lean in across your chicken salad plate.  Honey, you heard me.  I don’t stutter and your ears don’t flap.  If you ever walk out of your panties, just keep walking.

Grandmama Irene is 94 and has amassed a wealth of great advice over her years.  I think of her whenever I make a big breakfast because she always said, “Breakfast is the hardest meal of the day to get everything hot at the right time.”  Or when I’m cooking a big meal–“Wash pots as you go along and you won’t have such a mess when you’re finished.”  If it’s too humid, I don’t make divinity candy because she taught me that candy just won’t set if there’s too much moisture in the air.  (Well, to be honest, I’ve never made divinity because it’s too damn hard, but I know to BLAME IT  on the humidity.)  On budgetary matters, I hear Grandmama saying, “Pay your bills THEN buy your groceries.”  She’s right–you can always eat beans if the power bill was high that month.

But no advice compares to the jewel in the crown:  If you ever walk out of your panties, just keep walking.  I think I love this piece of advice so much because it came out of the clear blue.  It’s not like I was walking along with Grandmama Irene when my panties tangled up around my feet and she saved the day with sage advice.  Nope.  We were just puttering around the kitchen, probably cleaning up after a holiday meal, when she grabbed my wrist and said with a great sense of urgency, “Oh!  Ashley!  If you ever walk out of your panties (finger pointing for emphasis), just.keep.walking.”

She was born in 1918, in an age when elastic was…less dependable.  Now, I’m not one to reveal specifics about how this life lesson was learned, but back in the 1940’s on a lovely summer day, a lady might have found herself walking in downtown Atlanta, right past Rich’s department store, when her elastic decided to head south.  Should one find oneself on a sidewalk in a metropolitan area when one detects a certain “breeziness” in her skirt, one must NOT attempt to retrieve said underthings.  LET THEM GO.  Keep walking.  To quote a more modern sage, Obi-wan Kenobi:  “Those are not the panties you are looking for.”  Once they head south, they are no longer your panties and you will compromise your dignity if you stoop to pick them up.  They are feral panties at that point and belong to the street.

Keep Moving!  Nothing to see here!

Keep Moving! Nothing to see here!

Why do I share this advice with you today?  Because as I was walking through the parking lot at work this morning, I see a bright pink pair of cotton panties lying right there on the asphalt.  

Someone’s mama has raised her right.  I bet you a dollar those panties are still there at 5pm today.  

If you’re thinking, “That’s good advice, but it’s never going to apply to me.”  Maybe not, but let’s take it from the specific panty-dropping probability and take a more metaphorical perspective.  Just think of the life situations where this applies!

  • Do you have a cheating husband?  Girl, he has walked out of your panties, so just keep walking.
  • Have you been eating right and exercising?  Hey!  You walked out of your panties!  Keep walking!
  • Are you breaking free of the bonds of appropriateness and embracing authenticity?  Sister, it’s time to walk out of those panties.
  • Is it time to leave the past behind?  Walk out of your panties and keeeeeeeep walking.

Not everyone is lucky enough to have a Grandmama Irene, so PLEASE share this advice with everyone you know!  Keep it breezy!

 

gi and vivi

P.S.  Some of you have asked for a photo of Grandmama Irene herself.  Here she is at Vivi’s first birthday luau, talking about cake.  She has been famous for her homemade cakes for half a century!  

Three Wise Sayings About Fools

“If I owed a man a fool
and he wouldn’t take [insert name here],
I couldn’t pay him.”
— Joseph Garrett, my father’s father
 
 
“God takes care of fools and little children.” 
–Eunice Garrett Flournoy, my father’s mother
 
 
 
mr t 
 
–Mr. T, my father’s third cousin, twice removed