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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Life at Fifty-one Years and Counting

Life at Fifty-one Years and Counting

My Goddaughter spends a couple of evenings a week with me and there are times when I’m not sure if she’s going to help me keep my youthful exuberance and good health or she’s going to finish off what energy for life I have left.

Every outfit this young lady wears has some combination of layered tank tops with the word AeropostalĂ© emblazoned across her chest for everyone to view. She is making a statement to the rest of her generation. She can be preppy, explore her surroundings, and still be comfortable. I always opt for total comfort these days. In fact, I’ve become all about comfort in my clothes, my home, and my own skin.

My teen years were filled with bell-bottomed jeans that I split at the side seams to add even more fabric of contrasting color. I visited “hippie” shops where I purchased incense by the pound and bought music strictly for the shock it would bring to my parents. I was a nice person but I had a burning desire to be seen as a wild child. I couldn’t stand the thought of being out of control long enough to actually try smoking a joint or drinking alcohol but I struggled to appear “cool” to my friends. It took a while for me to find the balance I needed in my life to be professional by day and let my hair down by night.

My Goddaughter often argues with her mother over curfews, sleeping over with friends, school, boys, etc. It’s all perfectly normal because at her age life is all about her. It IS a big deal if she wakes up with a pimple on the morning school photos will be taken. It IS a big deal if her peers don’t understand her or include her in activities. It IS a big deal if her mother wants her to wear granny panties. After all, the teenage years are hard enough without the extra stress of imperfection.

I try to show this beautiful young woman who reminds me daily that she is “ALMOST fifteen” that life is about more than the little bubble we live in at the moment. Compassion, forgiveness, and self-discipline are all mandatory in our lives if we are going to be happy and prosper. We have to learn to work together and keep an open heart. We all have to bend sometimes and we all want to feel needed and important.

I’m trying to remember how long it took me to realize that I wasn’t personally responsible for making the Titanic sink or the Hindenburg fall out of the sky. I am one little pebble on a journey filled with rough stones and night winds. I’m not really sure when it happened but I did start to understand that absolutely nothing is solely about me. I’m pretty sure it was much later than my fourteenth year of life though.

Life can be weird when you hit the fifty year mark and it keeps growing more strange by the day. I accept that everyone has their own hang-ups and quite frankly, I’m too busy fighting off hot flashes and intense cravings for chocolate to really care. Maybe I watch my Goddaughter and think about how fast the years have passed in my life. Maybe I feel a twinge of my own mortality and sense that life as I know it is running out. Life itself is running out. Why should I be worried about whether or not my purse matches my shoes at this point in my life?

I really feel bad for my Goddaughter and her youthful innocence. She has so much learning to do. She’s going to have to find out who she really is and reach for her goals. I know who I am and I’m comfortable with myself. Maybe I’ll buy her one of those whales squealing relaxation noise machines to put in her bedroom for those times when her thoughts are racing and she can’t get to sleep until it’s time to get up for the day. Maybe she will help me figure out how to download my old Grand Funk Railroad music onto this darn IPod!

One of these days we’ll recall the memories we’re making as she goes through her teenage years and we’ll laugh and maybe even shed a few tears. Hugs will be plentiful and our hearts will meld together when we remember the joys and heartaches we experience as we go through these days of our lives. But that won’t happen anytime soon. She’s a teenager and I’m fifty-one years-old and still counting. I’m not sure what I’m counting now, I’ve misplaced it or forgotten it and my Goddaughter is too busy checking herself out in the bathroom mirror to remind me.

© Dianna Doles-Petry
April 28, 2010

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Questions for a Writer

Questions for a Writer

She asked me, “Why do you write poetry?”
I searched for a worthy reply.
I am driven by a need to be heard,
But answered, “I’m not sure why.”

I began a quest to comprehend rhyme.
I had many thoughts to convey.
The melody of a flowing river,
The sunshine I find along the way.

She asked me, “Why do you write stories?”
I write to touch hearts through open ears.
I create moments of pure delight.
I answered, “To chase away my fears.”

I used to be like this young girl,
With long hair spun from golden sunlight,
With no time for naps or worry,
I was eager to share a kiss by moonlight.

She asked me, “Why do you like happy endings?”
She is wise well beyond her years.
“I can keep people from turning to dust,” I replied,
Then I turned to brush away my tears.

© Dianna Doles-Petry

Friday, April 23, 2010

Panic Attack

My mother has dementia and for the last few years she's suffered with panic attacks. Several of my friends also have panic attacks. I feel blessed not to have experienced them myself but just watching my mother endure them has taught me that they are far more than just being nervous or a bit frightened.  They are unpredictable, life altering, and much feared.

Panic Attack

I can't breathe.
I'm choking on air.
Help me move,
I'm glued to this chair!

I can't get out,
Can't open this door,
My feet won't hold me,
They're nailed to the floor.

I'm in a black hole,
I'm out of control,
Please God, lift me up,
I'm being swallowed whole.

I can't breathe,
My heart's full of fear,
I can't stand the pressure,
Help me get out of here!

Thoughts are spinning,
I know it's real,
Don't tell me I'm crazy,
I know what I feel.

You think I can fight it?
I can just turn my back?
Each second is Hell,
During a panic attack.

© Dianna Doles-Petry

Friday, April 16, 2010

Laughter Really is the Best Medicine

Laughter Really is the Best Medicine

What makes most of us laugh? A good joke, happy memories, or someone else laughing? I tend to laugh at myself a lot now that I've hit middle-age and things that used to seem very important don't seem to matter as much. Yesterday, my Goddaughter and I were sitting in my yard swing talking about everything from purses to why boys think they need to show off so much. She asked me a question. I honestly do not remember what it was but I just looked at her instead of giving her an answer so she asked again, and again, until finally she said, as she crossed her arms over her chest and huffed, "Could you just answer the Damn question?"

Courtney, my Goddaughter is fourteen years-old and for some reason, I laughed and could not stop stopping when she said that to me. Once I started laughing she starting laughing too and neither one of us could talk because we couldn't stop laughing. My belly hurt all evening because I laughed so hard but it was a good kind of pain. A few years ago I would have been upset that she used the word "Damn" but yesterday it just seemed very funny to me.

Today I was in the supermarket picking up the weekly supply of groceries and I spotted a pig on the store shelf. It was not a real pig...what were you thinking? It was an outdoor garden ceramic pig that appeared to be swinging from an old tire. Since several of my lady friends know that I rescued a pot-bellied pig a few years ago they enjoy teasing me about pigs and sending me little piggy gifts from time to time. I purchased this garden pig with the intention of bringing it home and hanging it outdoors near my yard swing and photographing it to make postcards for my friends.

Once I was home I removed the pig from display box and set it on the dining room table so I could take it outside a bit later. I went into the kitchen to start dinner and before long I heard an innocent, infectious laugh coming from my dining room. My mother had found the pig on the table and was laughing at it, or she thought, with it. She had a glazed look in her eyes and there was no other thought in her mind at that moment except laughing with the pig.

It brought me comfort to see her laugh so easily. She wanted to keep the pig with her when she went to bed and I placed it on her night stand. This little piggy may not ever make it outdoors to the flower garden. This little piggy tickled my mother's soul this evening brought tears to my eyes.

My mother takes nine different pills every day but not one of those pills ever makes her laugh or remember a face. Laughter really is the best medicine anyone can have. It cleanses our heart and washes away our fears even if only for a short while. This little piggy was good for my mother and good for me. I saw happiness in her face again. I could not have planned anything that would have touched my mother's spirit like this pig touched it.

There really is nothing better for our body or soul than a good laugh. Without even realizing it, my mother taught me another life lesson today: give into to your laughter and laugh until your belly is sore and your heart is content. It really is one of the best things we can ever do for ourselves.

© Dianna Doles-Petry

Thursday, April 15, 2010

A Truck Driving Life

A Truck Driving Life

Blacktop calls out to me,
White lines lead me away,
I sing along with the radio,
Listen to audio books each day.

Big city lights all shining bright,
Once made me smile and dream,
Now they just mark off the miles,
They’re not as beautiful as they seem.

Back when I was a younger man,
With so much world left to see,
Everyday felt like an adventure,
Change and aging never worried me.

Blacktop calls out my name,
It’s my job and I must go,
It pulls me in like quicksand,
It’s the only kind of life I know.

Could have been a doctor somewhere,
Maybe a high class diplomat,
Instead of a worn out truck driver,
Rolling down a paved welcome mat.

Guess it’s too late to change my ways,
I’ll keep living one payday at a time,
Unless God calls me to the Pearly Gates,
Or truck driving becomes a crime.

I’ve been around and seen it all,
People and cities coast to coast,
Hauling freight and I’m never late,
There’s no time to brag or boast.

I’m leading a truck driving life,
Say a prayer when I turn the key,
God, please keep me safe on the highway,
Protect others by guiding me.

© Dianna Doles Petry