Wednesday, November 21, 2012

So thankful

On this night before Thanksgiving, I thought I would take a moment to remember all of the many things for which I am thankful.

And I am....SO thankful.

When I was little, Thanksgiving was a flurry of turkey and mashed potatoes, stressed out female relatives slaving in the kitchen, endless piles of dirty dishes, turkey wishbones, football on the tv, wax pilgrim and Indian candles, crunchy piles of fall leaves, and long car drives to the Quad Cities where my grandparents lived.

This year, our Thanksgiving will be simple. We are going out to dinner, so I have plenty of time to write, and pause, and just say thank you for all the blessings of my life:
  • for afternoon walks with my husband on the new nature trail just blocks from our home.
  • for unexpected vintage treasures, like the two yards of tiki fabric I found at the thrift store today.
  • for my daughter, who is fifteen, sweet and smart, and has not yet tormented me with teenage angst.
  • for a job that I love - teaching and writing at Moody Bible Institute.
  • for my automatic coffee maker that inspires me to put my feet on the ground at 5 am.
  • for rock and roll music that moves and inspires me...for Buddy and Elvis and Patsy and Johnny.
  • for my family, now spread apart in Florida and Oregon and Chicago. We share so many memories and have weathered many storms. I love you all!
  • for our health - praising God for mom's recovery from breast cancer and my mom-in-law's successful stent surgery. thankful for doctors and healing and survival.
  • for my goofy dog,  Buddy, who greets me every morning and stares at me with adoring eyes.
  • for friends who love to shop and dance and eat out and talk about obscure things that only we understand and appreciate.
  • for Door County and its miraculous sunsets and delicious fudge and cherry pie.
  • for God and His Word that speaks to my heart and feed my soul.
  • for the Streetwise vendor who always gave me a smile and is spending this Thanksgiving in a better place.
  • for costumes and creativity and Cheese Days and Acen.
  • for Chicago with its soaring buildings and winding river, glittering storefronts and masses of tourists.
  • for each of readers. You are amazing! I appreciate that you take the time to read what I write and to leave your comments. Thank you!

Have a blessed Thanksgiving everyone!


Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Magic of Toni Perms

When I was in middle school, in the 1970s, my mom used to give me Toni permanents.

They came in a box just like this and inside was a pamphlet that displayed photos of different hairdos. All of these, it promised could be magically achieved if you rolled your hair a certain way.

I would take the pamphlet to my orange-flowered bedroom with its amazing orange, avocado green and gold shag carpeting and carefully study the photos of the pretty models. My favorite, I remember, was a lady with gently waving curls and a flower tucked behind one ear - very Hawaiian chic. In my mind, I imagined that I was that woman - a flower in my hair - the hit of Wolcott Junior High School.

My mom would lay out all of the necessary supplies and carefully wind each bit of my thick dark brown hair around the spindly pastel colored rollers. Then, she'd squirt each roller with a noxious smelling liquid that would make my head feel icy cold.

And, then, we'd wait. And wait some more.

The bathroom, attached to my parents room on one side and the kitchen on the other, was my incubation room. I would wait as the minutes ticked by slowly and the fumes made me just a bit dizzy. The whole house was soon invaded by that weird plasticky egg smell of permanent wave solution.

I would sit on the toilet stool, carefully wiping the dripping solution off of my face with cotton balls, and study the photo. This time, I thought, I'm going to look amazing....exactly like that Hawaiian lady. Glamorous!

Finally, the kitchen timer would ding, and my mom would return. She would unwrap each soggy roller and toss them into the sink, leaving me light-headed and free with delicate ringlets all over my skinny head.

The trouble was, that every Toni perm turned out exactly the same. It didn't really matter how you rolled the rollers, you were left with extremely tight, frizzy, uncontrollable curls.

My hair trauma continued when I decided it would be a smart idea to cut off my long hair so I could look exactly like Dorothy Hammill of ice-skating fame. She had this amazing bob that would swing out behind her in a an arc when she performed the Hammill Camel. I wanted that hair do.

Armed with another photo (my downfall, you see), I walked to the neighborhood salon, my pocket full of babysitting money, and showed the middle-aged hairdresser my picture. "Well," she muttered. "I don't know. You have a lot of collicks."

The results were not very memorable. But, my hair was definitely shorter.

Looking back, I can't help but laugh at some of my attempts at hair-glamour. After Dorothy, I think my next role model was Toni Tenille (of Captain and Tenille) with her cute, perky, rolled under hair cut. I cringe when I remember trying the shag. In the 80s, I had voluminous spiral permed hair that reached below my shoulders. Now, I'm back to a simple bob - much easier to style when I'm up at 5 am.

For girls of all ages, your hair style is important. Owning your first curling iron or blow dryer is a rite of passage. Whether it is a disaster or not, your hair is a part of the joy and dismay of being a woman. The task is never quite done - the results are never exactly what you want - but it definitely contributes to the way you feel about yourself.

Who were your hair inspirations?


Monday, November 12, 2012

What Rob and Laura Taught Me About Marriage

The media often gets a bad rap. They are accused of setting bad examples, pushing boundaries and showcasing infidelity. And, it’s true. Watching shows like The Bachelor or Desperate Housewives probably isn’t the best advice for those who are seeking a permanent and stable relationship.

But, I have seen good examples of love and marriage on television. As I look at my own marriage of 20 years, I can see how some television and movie examples often ring true and highlight the best (and worst) aspects of love.

1) The dashing hero doesn't often make the best husband. In Gone with the Wind, Scarlett seems destined to be with Rhett Butler. He is strong, outspoken, impetuous, and pops randomly in and out of her life. While they have lots of sizzle, their marriage is a disaster. Contrast the Butlers with the more ho-hum relationship of Ashleigh and Melanie. Boring? Maybe. Stable? Definitely. Ashleigh and Melanie are loving and devoted to one another in a quiet, consistent way.

2) Couples who laugh together, stay together. Many of the tv couples I most enjoy are funny. Lucy and Ricky. Rob and Laura Petrie. Ray and Deb Romano. Laughter is the heart of a relationship - if you are tickled by his sense of humor, it will help you out of many arguments. If she makes you laugh, you will have a hard time staying upset. Even when I watch Lucy create a huge mess and try to cover it up, I know that Ricky will not be able to stay angry with his goofy and loving wife.

3) Patience is a beautiful and redemptive part of marriage. One of my favorite love-story movies is 50 First Dates. Although humorous, Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore play a couple who are struggling with a major setback – she has no long term memory. In order to stay married, Sandler’s character must work every day to win the heart of his wife. It takes amazing patience and dedication to wake up each day and realize you must re-win the trust of the person you love. The ending scene, with the couple and their child, makes me realize how marriage takes work. And, that true love is patient and kind.

4) Hard work, even adversity, increases the bond between a husband and wife. No one said marriage was going to be easy, but trials do have a way of bringing people closer together. Consider Charles and Caroline Ingalls in Little House in the Prairie. Based on a true story, this television couple reflected the real-life drama of pioneer couples who faced illness, rugged climates, lack of supplies, medical emergencies, and solitude. They were forced to do everything together. There is a scene where they are building their first home, and Caroline is forced to help Charles lift the heavy timbers into place. He hates to have her help, but he needs her. Perhaps working together shows us how much we need one another.

5) Real relationships don’t happen in a few weeks. I must admit that shows like The Bachelor can be a guilty pleasure. I love watching couples meet and “fall in love.” Yet, I know that it is not really love. It is infatuation, at best, or lust, at worst. Relationships set on tropical islands and hot tubs are destined to failure. They are rushed to pick out rings, hurried toward commitment. Their love has not been tested. They do not really know one another. It is usually only a month or two “after the final rose” that the relationships begin to splinter and the tabloids report that the couple is no longer together. Love takes time. It must grow until people become real – thorns and all – and face their difficulties. Ask any couple who has reached a milestone anniversary...they didn't get there easily.

6) All couples fight, but keep your fights clean. Bad fighting leads to divorce. I think it is impossible to be married without fighting. Once in a while, I meet couples who say they never fight. I don’t really believe them. But, I have seen fighting get ugly – and it always leads downhill. For a bit, I was a regular viewr of The King of Queens. It happened to come on exactly when my night was winding down. I also loved the show because, like Doug and Carrie, I have my in-law living in the same house. However, the episode that I am thinking of is when Doug and Carrie begin to tape record their fights. In an effort to get help, they talk to a neighbor who is a professional counselor. He notices that their fights often degenerate into personal attacks and name calling. What I learned? Don’t attack your husband or wife. It is very, very bad. Work hard to walk away, cool off, and keep arguments under control.

7) Enjoy, even celebrate, one another’s quirks. I think of Cliff and Claire Huxtable of the 80s Cosby Show. Cliff had a passion for hoagie sandwiches and tried to fix plumbing problems – much to his wife’s chagrin. But, she adored that side of him and was quick to let him know. What if Desi didn’t appreciate Lucy’s wacky side? While all quirks get annoying, we must remember that these are often the very reasons we feel in love.

8) Don’t keep secrets or lead separate lives. In one episode of The Dick Van Dyke Show, Laura has a secret checking account. When Rob finds out, he begins to suspect all kinds of wrong doing. The innocent secret balloons into something much more problematic. Although it is tempting to keep some things to yourself. Secrets can have a destructive effect on marriage. Many of my modern day friends have separate checking accounts and take separate vacations. They may not share even one mutual hobby or activity. That is a recipe for disaster. Another King of Queen’s episode featured Doug and Carrie going their separate ways for movies and restaurants. The problem is that this grows a division between you. Do things together…remember that separate lives and separate beds were all-but eliminated by Mike and Carol Brady.

Real life, real marriage is not a 30-minute tv sitcom. It is not even a two-hour chick flick. A part of the difficulty is that real couples are more complex and multi-dimensional than the characters we love on screen. True love is definitely not always easy. Sometimes we forget to laugh and enjoy one another.
Maybe that's why we enjoy these couples. They give us hope. They make us smile. They show us examples of what to do...and what to avoid. They make us laugh at ourselves and realize that, despite it's troubles, marriage can be fun.
I think we can learn a thing or two from these fictional depictions of love.