Retrospect

StoneWe leave a trail behind us as we go along. Some trails are fairly straight, point A to point B. Others meander, go in circles or take sharp turns. The crumbs left behind may be perceived as stale bread by one and blessed food by another.

I recently had dinner with some old classmates, some of whom I haven’t seen in over 30 years. We spoke of our life journies and those of our children. We laughed and marveled at the passage of time. In remembering our school days together, where I remembered myself as self-conscious and shy, friends remembered someone brave. Where I recalled a vaccuum of self-confidence, they remembered someone who did whatever with no fear of what others thought.

This revelation doesn’t change my trail, but looking back with new perspective, I begin to truly appreciate the path I’ve chosen to travel.

LindaTCooper©2013
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Think It, Live It

A group of 30 or so high school kids came across my path today. Inside my fifty year old body is a girl about that age. She is shy and insecure, but has learned to compensate with self-deprecating jokes and an easy going nature. Dubious of any value her life’s experiences may hold, she is still unsure of what she wants to be when she grows up.

Recently, I have been reading about how our very thoughts shape our lives. That we become and attract what we think about. For most of my adult life, I have pursued my life’s passions and goals by a process of elimination. I try something out, determine that it isn’t exactly the right thing for me and then move on. Chameleon-like, I can adapt to nearly any situation. From a job that isn’t the greatest but not that bad, to a family gathering that didn’t turn out as expected, I don’t very often get too upset about things. I keep in mind sayings like – “live and let live”, “no biggy” and “don’t sweat the petty” – and that mindset keeps my blood pressure steady, allows me to sleep well at night and avoids any confrontations that might arise for someone else living my life.

But are those very thoughts confining me to live a life of acquiescence? The shy teenager inside me struggles today, this very minute, to identify the things I truly love doing, so I can concentrate on them. I want to ride the high seas of a passionate life so that later on, when I float again on smooth, calm waters, I will have something to share.

LindaTCooper©2013
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High Flying

Naturally, since I now work in the aircraft / flying business, it was a job requirement to go for a ride. With barely restrained trepidation, I climb into the small 1946 Piper PA12 Super Cruiser, strap myself in and clutch my knees with gloved hands. The pilot and my new boss is an animated, cheerful woman, several years my senior. Her enthusiasm for this business, this airplane and flying is contagious. She has already teased me about driving like an old woman in the snow, I must overcome my case of chicken and just enjoy this gift of an opportunity.

Our takeoff is smooth and effortless. In no time and only a small stretch of runway, we are in the air. Fresh snow paints the landscape and picturesque farms, normally hidden from view stand out as islands of pure white scattered throughout the western Maine forests. The Saco River twists and turns below us as we soar along. The plane jostles here and there, “just an innocent little bump” she tells me. I experience more turbulence driving over the frost heaved, pock marked back roads of my neighborhood. I forget to be timid as we slowly descend and skim our skis along a snow covered pond.

We circle around and land, back where we started. But not exactly where we started. I am different. I have felt the seductive powers of flight in a small aircraft and I will look upon my colleagues and customers with new understanding.

LindaTCooper©2012
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Synchronicity

It is an amazing feeling when something happens that is completely unexpected, yet undeniably right.

I have been job hunting. Out of work for nearly a year, I took some time to relax and enjoy my home and my husband. Being creative and day dreaming. After 20ish years working full time with a maximum of a couple weeks off in a row, the past 10 months have been restorative, surprising and at times frustrating.

I have slept a great deal. Always thinking myself a morning person, I found I want to sleep more than I ever knew. I haven’t set an alarm clock in months. Sometimes I get up at 6:30, sometimes at 8:30 but either way, it is lovely. Getting enough sleep is underrated.

I have slowed down. No longer racing from task to task, from place to place, struggling to keep up with…. well with what? With others? Keeping up with a reputation of being always available,  “online”? There are days that I go out and forget my cell phone. I think for a fraction of a second, “oh no! no one can reach me…” then I remind myself that I’m going to the grocery store and then to visit my mother and there will most probably be no emergencies. I log onto my computer and check my email to find that there are 38 messages. “Oh no!” I think. “I’ve made someone wait…” Turns out it was only jobsinme.com and a couple online magazines that were waiting.

Surprising how quickly time passes, even when slowed down. Frustrated that I didn’t accomplish more as each day passes. If you have a lot of time on your hands, procrastination is a formidable foe. Why rush? We’re slowed down remember? Well life is a balancing act and I have become out of whack. Until now.

Tomorrow I go back to work. I was anticipating being asked to join one organization for which I had interviewed when I heard of another opportunity. Within a few days, mutual friends put me in touch with a woman who is my new boss. Our conversation was effortless. I felt immediately comfortable even though I have zero experience with the industry I am entering. Everything about it feels right. Synchronicity at its best.

 

lintcoop©2012
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Valentine Love

I didn’t choose my family. I am bound with them through genes and shared experiences. Some people don’t share for long. Others share for a lifetime. Common life experiences read as separate and distinct stories over time. Some siblings are not friends; related yet distant and not invested in anything more than the occasional holiday meal. I take for granted the constancy of my family’s acceptance and affection. I love you all and miss you that are gone.

I chose to have children with no notion of who they would be. They can infuriate and frustrate. They can push and pull every button and loose hanging thread until I’m sure I will unravel. Yet there is something about them that I cannot resist. Perhaps it is the memory of their baby faces: grinning with a plate of spaghetti smeared all over them, determined as they rode their bikes in endless circles around the house, sweet smelling and angelic only as they slept. My heart is a deep pool of love for each of you.

I chose a partner and miraculously, he chose me. Together we have shared a life filled with precarious cliffs and exhilarating views, sprawling green meadows and cool summer waters. Among all the loves of my life, you are the only one bound with me by love alone, my one true valentine.

lintcoop©2012
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We knew it would be like this…..

Last summer, we nearly drowned in a sea of summer squash and zucchini. We ate it steamed and baked in lasagna. We shredded it into breads and muffins. We cubed it into stews and casseroles. We froze it in every form imaginable. We eventually composted it. We nodded to each other, “oh yes, we’ll be glad we did this when the winter winds blow.”

And the winter wind is blowing. (Well not today, it is actually sunny and beautiful and supposed to be in the 40’s.) But the ground is frozen and mostly snow covered.  There is a warm summer breeze, packaged into convenient sized portions, slumbering in our freezer.

Tonight, we enjoy turkey and summer squash soup. Seasoned with oregano and chives, we  close our eyes and feel the steam of the giant stock pot we kept at a rolling boil last summer.

Time to pull out the seeds and start all over again. We knew it would be like this.

lintcoop©2012
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The beauty of burl…..

Image

You see them out in the woods. Weird looking growths hanging off otherwise perfectly good looking trees. At a quick glance, they might be a bird’s nest or a cluster of leaves. But hidden inside can be a treasure of nature’s perfect artistry. There is no way to tell until a blade breaks the gnarly surface. The grains are intense and unyielding. The craftsman must allow the wood to guide his motions. There are stories being told if he is listening closely. Each story and piece inherently unique and rare.

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Addictions

I can’t look away from the television. It seems no matter what crap is being displayed; infomercials about work out equipment and the latest diabetes drugs, sappy predictable Hallmark movies or hunting shows highlighted with camouflaged country stars whispering their excitement. If there is movement on the screen, I am watching.

My husband turns on the television in the morning. At one time, it was to hear the news but we no longer get any news channels so that excuse is no longer valid. But still he turns it on. But then makes coffee, and putters in the kitchen. Shockingly, he can walk right out of the room and move on to some other task without batting an eye. I, on the other hand, lock on the screen upon entering the room. I sometimes manage to pour the coffee without spilling, since my eyes are still watching whatever garbage is being shown. I generally can find a spot on the couch without losing eye contact.

Television strives to smolder and put out any core of originality that I posses. Leaving nothing but a bleary eyed, zombie-like woman, clawing her way off the couch and up to bed. Where the television is glowing like a giant night light.

I vow to turn them all off right now.

lintcoop©2011

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You Got To Be Kidding Me

I have returned to the hospitality industry after a 25 year hiatus. I tend bar and serve at a local smokehouse and tavern. It’s a small place, seating about 50 people indoors, with a deck to accommodate more in good weather. I love this work. It’s like hosting a big party with a fully stocked bar and great food being cooked to order! And I get paid to make sure people have a good time! I admit I’m somewhat lame after working my shifts….

Recently, I was working a rainy Monday lunch. It filled up fast and I was soon running to keep up. A party of three came in and sat at one of our high top tables.  A woman and presumably, her husband – certainly her lover, in their mid to late sixties sat with a younger man, perhaps fifty five. They were elegantly dressed and all three well perfumed. The younger man had a strong accent. I decided it was Italian as he fit the part- tall, dark, thick black hair and smooth skin. The woman did most of the talking.

She asked for a wine list. Being a smokehouse and tavern, we don’t really have a wine list so I started rattling off our house wines and some of the others I knew we stocked. She settled on a Kendall Jackson chardonnay for the three of them. She asked the price so I told her I thought it was $5.00 and that I’d check. Her husband asked for a beer instead, an IPA, my personal favorite. I cheered him on and brought their drinks. I had checked the price of the chardonnay and it was $6.00 rather than $5.00 but with a dozen other tables needing attention, I forgot to mention it, as I worked to get their order placed.

The woman drilled me on the preparation of the baked fish dish, the freshness of the seasonal vegetables, and settled on both, with a side salad and Roquefort dressing. It was just the way she said it. Bear in mind that a tall customer sitting at a high top table is often looking down on me as I’m not much over five feet tall. This woman used it to her advantage, looking at me through glasses perched on the tip of her nose.

“The salads aren’t pre-made are they?” She asked me haughtily. She turned to her younger companion.  “I despise an ice cold salad.”

The meal progressed and everything was agreeable. Thank God. I continued to run back and forth trying desperately to keep ahead of the people who kept coming and coming….

When I checked with their table, the woman informed me she wished to purchase the beer glass. It was a standard “pint” glass with the Boston Red Sox logo on it. I told her I would check on a price. I did and was told that we didn’t sell them. We only had so many and couldn’t get more. So I told the woman.  “Too bad. Its quaint.” She said.

When I presented the tab, the woman whisked it from the table. Immediately she noticed the wine price. “You said $5.00 for the wine.” She demanded. I couldn’t spend any more time on this party so I simply agreed to change the price. I left them the amended bill and continued to take care of my other customers.

Twenty minutes later, they had left and I got around to cleaning off their table. The beer glass was gone and the tip was tiny. You got to be kidding me.

lintcoop©2011
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Deadheading

My husband and I went out for Thai food not too long ago. The meal was excellent and just before we left, we hit the restrooms. It was a long drive home. As we exited the restaurant, he grinned at me and said, “I’ve done something your mother would do.” I couldn’t have been more perplexed at this comment until he pulled out a tiny pinched off piece of plant.

“It was dying in the mens room so I’m going to bring it home and let it grow in the light.” He laid it tenderly on the dash and we went home where he followed through. It is starting to show strong signs of life as I write this.

As a middle aged woman happily writing from a tiny closet room in her quiet house, I cannot imagine the allure of the Maine Mall. It is enormous, crowded and expensive. A place I avoid at all cost. Well one exception is a Borders on the outskirts. I have been known to dawdle there for hours. But when I was a young teenager, living an hour away from the Maine Mall, I couldn’t imagine a better destination for any given weekend afternoon. It didn’t happen often but I recall one occasion my mother took me to the mall. I’m sure I changed outfits a million times before going, in case I saw someone I knew. You know the drill.

My mother changed her outfit only once. She put on clean clothes replacing those she had worn to milk the goats and savagely squash cabbage worms one warm spring morning. It could be that we were getting glasses. That would require a trip and a visit – pick frames and then wait for them to be made. It guaranteed at least an hour just hanging around, window shopping. We rarely shopped. We found things we liked and then bought them at Reny’s.

My mother, knowing something about young teenage girls, allowed me to go off on my own for a time. We agreed to meet at a central location near an indoor park of sorts. Benches and landscaping created a semblance of outdoors for those poor souls who needed nature’s comfort and renewal amidst concrete and endless displays. I fairly skipped away from her and navigated to some of the favorite hang outs I heard my friends mention. The friends who went often to the Maine Mall.

I may have found someone I knew but normally did not. After wandering around looking for familiar faces, not looking much at anything else, I found my way back to the area where I was to meet my mother. There were escalators near the spot and as I rode down, I noticed a woman perched at the edge of some gardens. She was snipping leggy shoots with her thumb nail and neatly picking off dead petunia blossoms. Passersby turned to watch the woman and a small child stopped, tugging on his mother’s hand and asking a question. I wondered to myself if the woman worked for the mall.

To my surprise and considerable embarrassment, I realized as I approached that the woman was my mother. Clean clothes or not, she was drawn to garden no matter where she went.  “Mom! What are you doing?” I demanded in a forced whisper, hoping no one could hear. I’m sure my eyes were rolling.

“Oh I’m just deadheading dear. These poor things aren’t getting any attention. They’ll be much happier now.”

I love you mum.

LindaTCooper©2011
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