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Saturday, March 19, 2011

Love songs


Who doesn’t adore a love song? Maybe we all enjoy them in a different style, but the fact remains that someone is gushing out compliments to us through our stereo speakers. How can we resist? The truth of the matter is people who actually know us, possibly live with us, and can claim us as friend aren’t generally big on breaking into song when we enter a room. Sure they know all that is great about us. They know the heights of our talent, the scope of our potential. They’ve seen us at our best. They should be singing. Unfortunately those same people, the ones who know us best, have also seen us at our worst. Though we can impress them for a few scant moments, it will just become a dot on a timeline to them. And really if any Joe Schmo on the street cornered us and broke into ballads it wouldn’t mean as much.

No, in a world where we brush our teeth side by side, wash our make-up off, brush out our glorious hair-do’s, and climb into bed in our most cozy, garish pajamas it seems less likely as we age that anyone will burst out in song around us. In fact, we rarely look at the people we’re closest to. We don’t search for the best in them, but rather take them as they are… take them for granted as they are. My husband grew a mustache a few years ago. It was several days along before I blinked in conversation, leaned back with a creased brow, and asked, “Are you growing a mustache?”

It’s all tangled up in a concept called
mindfulness. Our minds are so busy mulling over the unimportant that we completely miss the moment we are in. We’re too busy in our heads to observe or appreciate. Do you remember childhood? Time clicked by slowly. It took forever after Valentines Day for Easter to arrive. Fast forward, and I mean fast, to now. We sit around the Christmas tree scratching our heads as we open presents thinking, Whoa it feels like last Christmas was just last week. Where did my year go? Our year was probably spent chewing gummy thoughts of worry, day dreaming, and anticipation.

Mindfulness is the skill of living in the moment. In fact, if living is a verb, the only way you can do it is to be present in a moment. We were better at doing this when we were children. Some moments we felt too acutely, such as any that would inspire, “Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet?” Much like gulping down your favorite dessert without running your tongue over it and savoring the bites, your life can pass by with little flavor. At some point we have to shock ourselves into a mindful state so we can see a world around us that will make us want to compose love songs. Just because nobody is singing to us, doesn’t mean there aren’t songs to be sung.

The trick is to look at the people around you and realize you’re only with them for a given time on earth before one or the other of you passes on to a different life. Each moment is temporary by nature. It’s with slight panic that I grab my youngest child each morning and swing her around in my arms saying, “Today is the very last day you’ll be this big.” Treasure up moments on purpose. Study the faces of the people you love. Pick up the phone and really listen to someone’s voice.

If you admire something about someone, sing your love song. If you’re not the breaking into song type, shell out a compliment. You don’t need to gush. In fact it can just be a smile; something that says, “You’re easy on the eyes,” or, “I’m not at all opposed to being in your vicinity.” What makes a moment wonderful and memorable are the eyes you’re seeing it with. I hope they’re smiling-love song eyes.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Winning Mr. Wrong


I finally got my hands on Winning Mr. Wrong by Marie Higgins. I knew I had to read it the moment I saw the cover on Amazon.com. My first thought was, Who cares what it's about? It's the cutest book cover I’ve ever seen, it must be owned and read!

Often you’ll find families that possess one common skill they excel in. Down the street from us there’s a family that oozes musical talent. Down the street from them, there’s another that has athletic prowess. Even further down the street there’s a family of high fashion. Our family of six…well, we’re good at maniacal laughter, even the kindergartener. When we’re thrilled about something, it isn’t rare to see one of us hunched over, brows pulled together, mischief glinting in our eyes, and a trilling, “Mwah ha ha ha,” filling the air as we rub our hands together. I'm sure I was in such a position when I opened the box containing Winning Mr. Wrong.

My children gathered around, hoping I’d ordered a game for the Wii. When I pulled out the book and clutched it to my breast they rolled their eyes and scattered. All the better for me! I only had a few spare minutes to begin reading before it was time to cook dinner. I can have a good book in my possession, ready to read…. Or I can cook dinner well. These are mutually exclusive situations. One or the other. At dinner I finished my Lemon Herbed Chicken Helper Whole Grain Pasta before everyone else. They stared dejectedly at the slimy lumps of starch on their plates. Being too polite to read at the table, I pushed my chair back just enough to satisfy decorum, and opened my book.

The sound of forks pushing food into piles on plates was punctuated by my delighted giggles. No longer was it just the thrill of owning the book with the darling cover. Now I was getting to know Charlene Randall. She is a delightful creature. I dare say she is the most vibrant and endearing main character I’ve ever read. One of the most satisfying things in this book is the feeling of uncontrived humor. So often you can feel an author trying to be funny. In this book, you don’t feel the author at all because the main character is so engaging.

Mr. Wrong could be one of two characters. Damien Giovianni, president of a company that creates hair and skin care products, inactive Latter Day Saint, Charlene’s neighbor, and woman magnet extraordinaire is candidate number one. He’s sensitive. He speaks that language usually known only to females, i.e. make-up, emotions, and style. He’s got better taste than the Queen of England. And if he’s enamored with you, he might even do your hair, bulging muscles straining against his shirt as he gets it just right. Though he would seem a perfect catch, Charlene is looking for a forever love and she’s seen him go through women like tissues in cold season. However, he makes a great best friend and advisor when she sets her sights on candidate number two.

Charlene’s old high school crush, Maxwell Harrington, reminds me of the Jeffry I had a crush on when I was nine. My grandmother sat me down on the couch one day, worried about my crazed fixation, and explained a principle that basically destroyed any hope I had of a normal crush for the rest of my life. These are words of wisdom that make you less jealous of Angelina Jolie, put high school popularity in perspective, and level the playing field of life in a way nothing else can. Grandma looked at me, merry blue eyes sparkling, love in her maternal smile, and said, “He sits on the toilet like everyone else.” Let me just give you a moment to picture someone you idolize, and let this sink in…… (Might I suggest a President, George Clooney - who would still look really good sitting on porcelain, or Taylor Swift).

Throughout the book I began to wonder if poor Max could survive Charlene’s crush. This is where my snorting laughter comes in. My husband would stir from wherever he was in the house and come to loom over my shoulder every half hour or so. “Is it really that funny?” I’d just nod and push him away as I cuddled further into the couch, biting my lip, completely lost in Charlene’s newest quandary.

I've read that laughter is alkalizing and can kill cancer. I think I’ll read this book every year just in case.
Winning Mr. Wrong is a fresh spin on romance. It is delightful seeing the world through Charlene Randall’s eyes. My daughter is reading it now and I’m magnetically drawn to the laughter. I stand over her shoulder, still giggling with delight when I think of the story line, and ask, “What part are you on?” I read over her shoulder for a while before I can pull myself away, glad that Charlene Randall and her antics can keep me laughing days later. Thank you Marie Higgins for boosting health at the Johnson house.