Thursday, July 25, 2013

A Cover Girl Kind of Life

There’s something so appealing about cover girls on vintage magazines. 

They look beautiful, wistful, hopeful and joyful. 

I think I'm charmed by these artful covers because they convey a mood of years gone by that seems simpler, happier, calmer. A cover girl kind of life. 

But the cover is just the pretty outer layer of what's within the magazine. Past the cover, inside on the pages are the contents. 

Where everything that fills up the magazine is contained. The standard, ordinary stuff of articles, ads and stories. 

Just like a life filled with pages of events and activities is covered by an image that represents a heart and soul.

Normal, ordinary busyness fills the daily pages of my life. 

Sometimes the pages are filled with extraordinary beauty. Sometimes they are wearisome and perplexing. But sometimes small moments of wonder are the cover to the contents of my ordinary days. 

Last week I saw a hummingbird as I sat on my courtyard one evening. I can't remember the last time I'd seen one. I wasn’t even sure it was really a hummingbird hovering above the screen. 

It danced for a few seconds. Then I heard the humming. I watched it flutter above me for a few more seconds and then it was gone. 

I was wonderstruck. And I was curious about the meaning of hummingbirds. 

I discovered that they symbolize joy. A reminder that life is to be savored. 

I stopped to think about what landed on the pages of my life that I'd overlooked in the past week. 

All that happened behind the cover of my daily schedule. Beyond the commute to work, interactions with colleagues, and conversations with friends. 

I remembered the sweet surprise from my friend Bree of a cup of my favorite coffee (vanilla hazelnut from Einstein Bagels) sitting on my desk when I arrived at work. 

I thought of the email from my friend Kate, who reminded me of God’s promises for anxious situations with just these two sentences: “God is good. He is faithful always.” 

An impromptu dinner and shopping invitation from my friend Katherine was filled with girlfriend chitchat in the midst of a busy week. 

Little things. That are easy to overlook.

Looking for moments of beauty on the cover of my days isn’t always my first inclination. 

Worry, busyness and a focus on myself can splash over the pages of my life, making it harder for me to see the flashes of loveliness. 

I don't want to overlook them. 

Because recognizing and remembering them is the spark to help me through all the problematic, baffling and difficult pages of life. 

I'm appreciating the moments that turn out to be beautiful, wistful, hopeful and joyful. 

That look a lot like the cover girls on my vintage magazines.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Causing a Commotion

I had a house guest for a few days last week. 

He didn’t talk or eat or drink. I hardly knew he was there, but having him caused quite a bit of mayhem in my house. 

My guest was an uninvited lizard. 

He had crawled under the weatherstripping of my door and when I opened it coming home from work one night, he raced in with me. 

By the time I got the broom, he ran to my floral rug and then I lost him. I couldn’t see him in the dark pattern of flowers and leaves. 

I shook out the rug. I vacuumed the couch that sits on the rug, shaking out every pillow. I shook out the drapery panels hanging behind the couch. 

No sign of him. I was sure at some point – probably late at night -- he would make his presence known by running across the room or appearing out of nowhere and scaring me like crazy. 

Every night, I’d look in the track of the sliding doors and shake out the drapery panels but I never found him.

Over the weekend my niece Devon spent the night and asked if I ever found the lizard. I said I was sure it was long dead. 

She asked if a lizard could climb stairs. 

She asked if a lizard could walk down the hall to her room. 

She asked if a lizard could climb into her bed. 

I told her not unless he was a circus lizard. 

But after our morning pancakes, I saw him. 

In the corner behind the door. 

Still very much alive. Where he'd been hiding, I'll never know. 

Even without food and water for four days, he was still as lively as he was the minute he crossed my door. 

Maybe he was a circus lizard after all. 

I raced to get the broom. Devon said she’d watch him so we wouldn’t lose him again. I opened the door and he ran the other way toward us. 

After several attempts, I managed to cover him with the broom and sweep him outside. 

We slammed the door. 

Devon and I flopped down on the couch and she said, “What a commotion that was.” 

I couldn’t have described it better myself.

A friend asked me how my week was. I said I had some drama. With a lizard. 

He said he liked lizards. He said he wished his drama were only about lizards. He says that kind of drama is calmer than his drama. 

It got me thinking about the things we allow to throw our lives into an uproar. 

God lets us make our own choices. To some extent, I can determine what kind of drama I’ll allow in my life. 

So often I've wished the waters and waves that wash over my life were peaceful and calm instead of swirling with storms of my own making. 

Although I have good intentions to approach a situation with calm words and prayerful thoughts, it doesn't always work for me. 

I don't think good intentions are the answer. I'm not sure I have it figured out.

But I do know that God's perspective is different than mine. 

He promises to be by my side as I tackle life's chaos. He promises that calm waters are found in him. 

I take this to heart. 

For all of life's tumults, including the mini-drama of creature-catching. 

Because I'm sure that's not the last one that will get into my house and vanish. 

And hang around for four days, causing quite a commotion.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

My Family's First Fashionista: My Grandmother

I love fashion, jewelry and makeup. 

I always have, except for a brief stint in my early teens, when my mother despaired that I’d ever do anything to tame my crazy hair or have an interest in wearing makeup. 

But then my family’s fashion genes kicked in. 

My grandmother was a fashionista. I have a photo of her at age 16 with strings of pearls wrapped around her bobbed hair. 

She always said the photographer wanted her to look like a flapper and wound them around her head just to stage the photo. The pearls weren’t even hers.

But she was a glamour girl. 

She always wore makeup, especially red lipstick, and she had drawers full of costume jewelry. 

Well into her eighties, she still made sure she wore jewelry and makeup, even though she’d say, “This old crow has no need for jewelry." 

She said the same thing about an old crow like her not needing makeup as she peered into her compact mirror putting on her lipstick and rouge (as she called it). 

When my sister and I were in college, we asked her if we could have a few pieces of her jewelry and she generously offered them up. 

We wore her jeweled pins and rhinestone chokers and were the envy of our girlfriends around campus. 

Years later, wearing her vintage jewelry prompted compliments and an invitation from a friend whose husband holds an annual jewelry sale. 

He sells his samples from throughout the year for bargain-basement prices. Nothing is more than $5 and the sale is a jewelry-lover's dream. 

Recently I’ve gone shopping with a few friends who have asked for my opinion on clothes, makeup and jewelry purchases. 

I get a little nervous because I really only know what styles and colors look best on me. And I'm not so sure about what looks good on everyone else. 

But I go with them and grab armfuls of clothes and head to the dressing room, hoping that I’ll figure it out as I go along. 

I veto busy florals and bright prints. I debate with them over the length and fit of a dress. 

I approve of the high-heeled shoes that make the outfit oh-so-chic. 

But I'm hoping they know I'm not really a style expert. I'm just an opinion-giver. But maybe that's all that's required of me. 

Maybe I worry too much about being skilled and an expert. If I hold back and do only what I feel qualified for, then I have a feeling I'll be missing out on a lot. 

Because there's no formal training required for the art of encouraging, supporting and affirming. 

I'm sure there might be better things to worry about than hair and makeup, fashion and jewelry. 

But spending an afternoon with a friend and sharing our hearts over lunch and shopping is important to me. 

When I look at a photo of my grandmother looking so in vogue in her red shoes, clutching her red purse and gloves, I feel a connection that reaches across the generations. 

I like following in her fashionable footsteps. 

And you never know, I just might share my super-secret jewelry source with my friends who ask me to accompany them shopping. 

As long as they know I'm just an amateur stylist. And promise not to hold me responsible for a fashion faux pas.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Feels Like Summer

Although the Fourth of July feels like summer’s halfway point, it’s really just the beginning. 

By the calendar’s authority, there’s still plenty of summer left. 

I grew up in Pittsburgh where each season makes a clear-cut appearance. But living in Florida, it’s hard to keep track of the months and holidays because they all feel one way. 


It feels as if summer slides right into winter. 

I sweat through September and Halloween and all of a sudden it’s Thanksgiving and Christmas is on the way. 

And it still feels like summer. 

But I like having some of summer all year round. With just a splash of the other three seasons thrown in. 

And if I could choose, I’d like the season of summer to be where my life permanently resides. 

I’d choose to sprawl and lounge, basking all the time in the sunshine. 

I'd like my life to be about cherries, berries and cream all year long. With none of the pits and pitfalls. 

But it doesn’t work that way. 

And I’m learning to appreciate the other seasons. 

The seasons of waiting to hear from God on which way I should go, the seasons abuzz with excitement and anticipation, the seasons of pausing to reflect and meditate, and the seasons of wrestling with heartache and difficulty.

Because those cooler seasons are when I learn the most. 

About God, about myself, about others. 

And I have so much more to learn about others. About giving and accepting and esteeming and encouraging. 

This week, a friend sent me a message that he felt God put me in his life for a reason. 

For this season. To encourage him. To move on to the next season of his life. 

Seasons are short. Friends come and go. Opportunities arrive and depart. Seasons change. 

I know that my life can't always be filled with firecrackers, sparklers and big bangs. 

Sometimes what I’m doing fizzles, cools and gets snuffed out. 

But even though it feels like my life is at the halfway point, I'm learning that there’s still plenty of summer left.

Summer Berry Trifle
I bake a white or French vanilla cake (Duncan Hines) in a 9x13 pan according to the directions on the box, but you can use store-bought angel food cake or pound cake, too. I use strawberries, blueberries and raspberries, but any kind of berry will work. 

2 pkgs cream cheese
1 cup sour cream 
1 container Cool Whip
2 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla

Beat together the cream cheese, sour cream, sugar and vanilla until creamy. Fold in the Cool Whip. Cut the cake into small pieces and layer the cake, filling and fruit in a deep bowl or trifle bowl. (I start with cake, but you can layer in any order, as long as the top layer is the filling.) Garnish the top with fruit. Chill.