stuff that makes me think

wrinkles, and the stories they tell…

Wrinkles should merely indicate where smiles have been“.

Mark Twain

The first, and only, self-drawing I drew, revealed my sixty year old self…all wrinkles revealed. The drawing instructor frowned at my page and suggested merely, “You are not that old”.

Later, it dawned on me that I could not frown and smile simultaneously, so there was no way that I had accrued that many wrinkles…yet.

But it’s been many years that I’ve seen stray white hairs adorn my crown–my inner secret agent was on the prowl for any wayward signs of aging at each private mirror I encountered. I colour them now so people don’t overestimate my age; ten years older I look without the help of my salon friend, Erin.

I am now no longer a dirty blonde. I vacillate between fake blonde and golden brunette…that mousey, natural colour washed me out anyway. It doesn’t feel authentic to me, but neither does white at forty, so I’ll surrender to salon-coloured.

As I self-photograph, I’m also discovering there is more than one chin responding to gravity.

Now if I open my hand and pull hard up to the Eve’s apple, I have a taut chin.

My body language might be misconstrued as I walk through the grocery store, pushing up with one hand, holding my chin high. So this inexpensive version of plastic surgery just won’t work most days.

What would it tell the world? I’m choking?IMG_0923[1]

Apparently I’ll have to settle in and get comfortable this next half of life.

“You’re only as old as you feel”, they say.

I could live in my self-delusions if I didn’t have children. They continuously remind me of the ‘olden days’:

“Mom, look at how my bangs wave up high. They almost look back-combed, like the olden days”.

“Mom, did you hear that song? Sounds like the Bangles, from the olden days!”

“Mom, where were you when Adam and Eve were kicked out of the garden?” (okay, no one has asked that, but the concept that I ALWAYS have been was evident since they came into mental awareness).

Nope, not always been here. Haven’t always understood life and stuff the way I do now.

The only thing to which I can be certain, the only thing I can know FOR SURE, is that I don’t know as much as I think, and that I’ll always have an awful lot to learn.

In honour of this last half century, I decided I would upload that glamour photo to my About page–that to which I am capable of looking like, though it only happens three times a year, and eclipse the above ‘pretend facelift’.

Of course, I am a homeschool mama, so you will almost NEVER see me look like this in real time. Rather, hair pulled into pony or clip, dark rectangular glasses hiding my grey orbs, and au casual style.

This is why I believe people look older, despite their plastic surgery: their eyes reveal the many stories they have seen. There are stories behind my grey eyes…stories of sadness or regret, stories of euphoria, stories of compassion or fierce anger, stories of boredom and delight. There’s a lifetime of stories (or a half a lifetime?)

It’s been ten years since I began to share these stories, that ooze through my fingertips–and I’ll keep telling them. No one can know the precise reasons they were placed on this earth. I like to think, for me, it has to do with Telling…Telling Teresa.

If I could write a book (hee hee hee, maybe I am…), I would like to weave a few fundamental lessons I’ve learned through the stories of my life:

1.  The greater part of our happiness depends on our disposition and not on our circumstances…said Martha Washington.

2. Don’t do what everyone else is doing. Do what you want to do. And do it with all your gumption.

3. Don’t care deeply what other people think. Yes, they can be a healthy mirror to who you are or how you think about life. Yes, you can learn from others. But all too often, their opinion means TOO much and dictates your opinion of yourself or important things in your life. It doesn’t need to.

4. Circumstances don’t dictate happiness. For the smaller things: learn to take a deep breath and remember, life won’t always be like this. I will figure things out. I don’t have to figure everything out right now.

Circumstances, like new stuff, only make happiness temporary: my new minivan will eventually look old and the power door will no longer work. The fridge is smaller than it should be, but at least I get to fill it. The kids are too loud, but at least there’s proof that they’re vibrantly alive.

Now I am not talking about when your aunt dies, or you get divorced, or you bet and lose the house. You should feel sad, mad, bad…feel whatever you’re feeling. Own it. And then figure out how to settle those feelings so you can keep going on, in whatever time feels appropriate to do it.

5. And yet I am talking about when your aunt dies, or you get divorced, or you bet and lose the house. You get to decide if you’re happy. Capture your charmed life, cause there’s always something hard around the corner to which you weren’t expecting and will thwart your best intentions. If you work at nothing, you’ll get nothing; aim at something and you’re more likely to hit it.

6. Include people in your life that bring value to your life, or that you can bring value to. Including people that boost your image, or you feel you must be included for reasons to which you’re not convinced, or just because everyone else is doing it, is a reason for self-induced frustration.

7. Give more than you expect. Life is about receiving, we can’t deny it, though some of us try. We like to consume yummy food, we enjoy entertainment, we like to see new things, go on field trips, read new books, meet new people, but it’s when we give that we feel most alive, most meaningful.

8. Don’t let angry, frustrating or disappointing feelings keep you occupied. If you could hire a court reporter to record all your thoughts, you’d quickly discover which feelings, or thoughts, consumed you. And it might not look pretty. Your thoughts give meaning to the events in your life.

I think almost never does someone intentionally try to hurt you.

There, that’s an audacious statement, right?

Something someone says might hurt you deeply, might make you feel angry, might even do personal damage that requires you to sift through what you believe about yourself because their actions negatively affected how you saw yourself.

You might be in the habit of seeing the world against you, seeing messages of devaluing, seeing others try to show you up…All that’s a reflection of THEM, not you.

It is possible to engage your feelings differently and see them in a different light. Just cause you’re used to thinking them, doesn’t mean you have to…

9. Life is like a box of chocolates…you never know what you’re gonna get until you try one…SO try them all…um, ya, this quote is plaigarized. Besides the obvious insight: that eating a variety of chocolate makes you happy, life is too short not to seize each moment. Live life to the full–in freedom and grace.

Fall 2013 088

I’d like to thank Mark Twain (the fellow to whom I share a birthday). He was correct: wrinkles indicate where smiles have been.

Life is grand, ain’t it? Raise a glass of Chilean Malbec to the life stories you’re given and I’ll toast: carpe diem, seize your day!

November 2013 297 IMG_1815  November 2013 172

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