Thursday, July 28, 2016

How To Grow a Nation

Are you watching the Democratic National Convention? I'm obsessed with the whole political scene, even more than in 2008 when I wrote a post on the magnitude of electing the first African American President. It was snowing the day of the inauguration. I remember it well. I put on a white hat and gloves with a teal scarf around my neck and went for a walk, excited about the dawning of a new day for our country. 

Eight years later, things have turned downright bizarre. When the current President's own brother pledges to vote for the opposite party in the upcoming election and the Republican past presidents won't endorse the Republican nominee, you can sense how divided we have become. At this moment I am perfectly at peace with the fact that the "party" doesn't matter to me.  I am having my own party and asking myself these questions: Who is moral? Who is ready to lead? Who is experienced? Who would I trust with the the nuclear button? Who is simply a good person, an honest person? 

Who is the well-seasoned soul in the room? 

Even with all the rumblings of fear and displays of violence and uncertainty in the world, I know we'll be OK if we keep moving forward.  Positive progressive movement doesn't only apply to politics - it's vital for groundbreaking research, innovative manufacturing, idealist entrepreneurship, excellence in education, social and equality movements, foreign policy goals, and the conservation of our beautiful planet Earth.  

But how do we get there? Where is the standard?  How do we begin? 
You don't have to look very far for the answer. Change and evolution happens every single day in all our lives, mostly in the dynamic and hard work of personal human relationships.  It looks like grace when you don't deserve it and sounds like kindness when you didn't earn it. 
It walks like love just because love is love. It moves into something bigger. Something worthy of every stakeholder in the room.
 And it digs down deep into the walls of dirty dirt to bring up a new handful of roots you planted long long ago when nobody knew where love was headed. 

 Human interactions are the model for great nation building.

Because moving forward is just as organic to the sustainability of great relationships as it is to the forming of the world's finest models of peace and prosperity.  You can't have an unbreakable partnership without the desire to grow a deeper commitment to the one you love, a willingness to understand and forgive again, and a pot full of dirt. 
 Then you put in seedlings for birthing and expect them to grow.

You can't have a strong nation without fundamentally good and moral people willing to do the same.  

My life isn't perfect. 
Our world isn't either.
But I'll keep planting.
And digging.
And getting my hands dirty.
And tending my own garden.
Because when I find myself planting seeds in window-boxes in the silence of the hot southern sun or during a snowy inaugural walk, I feel a growing in my own soul. And a voice with the deepest strongest wisdom of all saying...

"Just plant, Mimi. Plant."

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Monday, July 25, 2016

Monday Mimisms ~ I Need An Ocean and A Long Strong Kiss

I'm here. 

It's Monday and long past time for a Mimism.  I haven't posted since May, which is when the perpetual trouble started. Have you ever wanted to lay low because the thoughts in your head are not suitable for public consumption? 

It's been the summer of decisions and time thieves. My mother's health is failing. She wants to tie up all the loose ends and revisit ancient history at the same time. It's important to her but I'm exhausted!  Some days she's the mother and we are shopping for skirts and shoes. Then in an instant I'm reminded by the look in her eyes that the mother is really me and we're shopping for inhalers and nightgowns.  How does predictable role reversal sneak up on a person? After all, it's life and I should have been ready.
I'm not. 
P.S. I need an ocean and a long strong kiss

And just why am I furiously typing at midnight like some mad blogwoman with too much on her mind? The ever-present saga of revolving doors. I'm dizzy.  Men.  Dating. Relationships. Lovely outings when I feel all grown up and ready to fall into Mr. Beautiful's arms. Until I don't. 
Fall, that is. 

I usually just trip.
Dating is i.n.s.a.n.e! And in need of therapy. Not me. Not them. The whole crazy system needs a psychiatrist.  It's warped like a bad bad version of a cancelled game show. Imagine The Newlywed Game played by people in the Big Brother house who don't even know each other but pretend to because they only want to win the game. That pretty much describes the rules of engagement during midlife dating.  The playbook is outdated (pardon the pun) and I'm reeling trying to read minds when all I want to do is get on with it. 

When I find a way to harness the power of instant discernment I'll let you know. For now I'll continue to enjoy the endless array of men willing to "explore the possibilities" they didn't want in the first place. How did predictable Mars/Venus insanity infiltrate my everyday existence once again? After all, it's life and I should have been ready. 
I'm not. 

Am I too picky? No. I think the problem is that I'm too picky too slow! Does that make sense? I'd rather forgo six or seven dates of wasted oxygen and couch kissing (well, that was nice...) wondering if he's the one (until he isn't) just to save time for the next candidate. Did I just say that? Candidate??! Oh how pedestrian and political my life has become.   Rewind. Start all over.  Rinse. Repeat. More Friday night failed cooking disasters (his poor tummy) then the left boot of fellowship from Yours Truly or oh-he-who-promised-to-call-but-didn't strikes again.  
Ain't nobody got time for this.

 But I am having a good hair life this year (unlike a few real candidates) and I haven't lost any emails (that I know of) and the ONLY reason I know that my bloglegs are returning as we blogspeak is that I continue to use unnecessary and annoying parentheses and run-on sentences galore while adjusting my wrinkled couch skirt in public. 
Yes. Finally.

My pencil skirt has seen a few washes ya know...

See ya soon.  

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Sunday, May 22, 2016

Happy Bloggaversary! Ten Years of Mimi Writes

Welcome to Bloggingham Palace! 
This month marks the 10th anniversary of my blog, Mimi Writes.  

My first blog post on this blog was written May 25, 2006.  Life flew by with the stroke of a pen it seems.  I am one of those quirky individuals who chooses to stop and write it all down. Of course I didn't write it all down for the world to see. But if you know my blog and have read me all these years, most of you manage to read between the lines.

Message In A Bottle blog
Dating Profile Of The Day blog
As I shuffled through thousands of blog posts and several other blogs (yes, there are others!) it struck me how many names I've had: Mimi Lenox, Mimi Queen of Memes, Mimi Pencil Skirt, Mimi Lenox Founder of Blog4Peace, Mimi Queen of Bloggingham, Your Majesty..... There's the zany dating profiles site and Message In a Bottle. Fitting....because in that parallel universe called my real life, I also wear a lot of hats and crowns. And since my chosen profession is in the performing arts/teaching arena, playing a part on a blog isn't much of a stretch.

The Queen's Meme
http://mimiwrites.blogspot.comIt didn't prove difficult until the blog marched on year after year and I found myself trying to compartmentalize and synchronize Mimi at the same time; a challenging task when you're a serious writer one minute and a fictitious "Queen" with an imaginary castle, dog and cat, the next. Somehow, it all works.
 When I wanted to be humorous I'd write Dating Profiles of the Day (which also began in 2006). When blog memes became all the rage,  I started The Queen's Meme as Mimi Queen of Memes. We had seventy players the first week alone. I created the dreaded castle Dungeon for bloggers who didn't complete their memes. It was all in lighthearted fun. Later when life and time management kicked my prissy behind, I had to stop writing weekly memes; but to this day, The Queen's Meme is available to anyone who would like to borrow a meme or two. Just return it (aka link me, please) as you would a cup of sugar from a friendly neighbor.
Homer The Palace Dog

Homer The Palace Dog arrived on the scene and began to have conversations with the Queen. Yet another character to converse with. He has been my faithful companion for ten years.

Don't ever stop blogging, my friends. If you want your writing published, you never know who is watching. Good things happening on the blog and in my life!  Off-blog my grandsons were born. They are the light of my life. My poetry was discovered here by Blue Mountain Arts Press and published in 2013.

 The Peace Globe Movement (aka beautifully spiraled out of control and takes up most of my online commitment with a Facebook page of 36,000 fans as we

The Peace Globe Movement (aka beautifully spiraled out of control and takes up most of my online commitment with a Facebook page of 36,000 fans as we speak. I stopped trying to find and count them in 2014 when we hit the 10,000th participant.  As of 2016, all continents and 214 countries/territories in the world have flown a peace globe on their websites and social media pages. We speak for peace every day on the blog and each November 4th, which is the official day of BlogBlast4Peace in the Twitterverse, Facebook universe, and Blogosphere. I am incredibly proud of this movement and honored to carry that title.  Peace bloggers are near and dear to my heart.

Baby Boy

Why do I write? I've splashed my life on paper since I was seven years old. I wrote a poem and took it to school. I hid diaries under my pillow in the 70s under lock and key. When I became a grown-up writer, I realized that my words sang best when I embraced that frightening word - vulnerability.  It is the only path to an authentic voice. And you really do have to live what you preach.

Persian Patticakes
The courage to be vulnerable when you might end up with pain sounds crazy, doesn't it? But I think that when openness becomes a liability in your life you can do one of two things - as long as you do them with the good common sense God left on your doorstep: You can run away at the first sign of trouble and never learn the lesson in front of you or you can plunge headlong into it and risk a few black and blue dreams.
What have I done? Both.
That's life. On and off the blog.
And I wouldn't have it any other way. 

Here's to another ten years of writing and blogging. And friendships!
Baby Beans 2011
You've lived with me through broken bones, broken relationships, adventures gone awry, resurrected relationships,  calamity (!) dating disasters, cooking disasters, Bloggingham Palace floods and fires, car wrecks, much silliness, the creation of a peace movement, the death of my father, the birth of my grandsons, and the rebirth of me time and again. I wouldn't have opened myself up if I hadn't known you were out there listening and nodding.
 On occasion I struggle with the idea of censoring myself, holding back, covering up and paraphrasing...then I realize that is not who I am. And not what people want to read. 

Thank you for reminding me of that when something awful and beautiful shows up all in the same day. It's all good.

This blog is my home. And you are my readers and friends. I appreciate all of you so very much and the encouragement and love you've always given me.

Leave a link and comment below if you are still blogging. And please, have some cake.

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Saturday, May 14, 2016

Shut Up and Shut The Door

Peace globe by Nanna Aldrich Murakami in Hawaii

Today I took a silent day.
I haven't said a word to anyone all day. I haven't even answered the phone. 

My week has been so exhausting. The noise in my daily world is deafening. My name is called, my skirt is tugged on, or my shoulder is needed about a hundred times a day (not kidding)...and that's goes with the territory. But it's NOISY. And stressful. And exhausting. Did I say exhausting? The last week has been non-stop crisis, meetings and problems at work. Sometimes I feel as though I'm in a tunnel of buzzing bees. 

Last night I came home and went straight to bed. It was 7:00 pm! I woke up at 11:00 am this morning. Yep. That's T.I.R.E.D.

I've done nothing all day but blog peace globes (brings me peace), eat bananas and oranges (brings me health), drink coffee, curl up with a book (Rumi) and nap yet again. Tired.
The next ten days will be hard with performances and final exams. Then I'll have a nice long rest. Forced silence is the surest fastest way to center yourself. Turn off the television. Don't listen to music. No sound on the PC. Choose what you will allow into your world for a couple of days. It's wonderful. Shut the door.

There's a certain peace that comes with silence. It's deep and deafening.
Go get you some.
Peace Globe By Nanna Aldrich Murakami in Hawaii

 See you next week with a very special post. Peace.
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Sunday, May 8, 2016

A Mother's Day Story ~ The Recipe Box

Everything we do in life is about relationship. Our actions say little about what we're actually doing, and everything about why we are doing it. 
Take muffins, for example.

Muffins remind me of my mother. She used to make "mayonnaise muffins" when we were little. I loved them.
Over the years I learned to make them too, but they never turned out as well as hers.
Because my mother and I are as different as night and day, two mismatched peas in a non-pod, two sisters of the same mother it seems, it's important for me to occasionally cross the divide with a muffin day.  Why this gulf? As an infant and for a long while afterwards, I initially mother-bonded with my grandmother because mama was too sick with a heart condition to care for me.   I didn't realize until many years later how that necessary and unfortunate trajectory in my early, formative years shaped the way we eventually learned to communicate, or should I say, the way we don't communicate. 

I love my mother. I love her very much.
But sometimes I miss her in ways I can't explain.

Enter the muffins.

It is her recipe. But I made it my own. 
Typical of our journey.
Instead of white flour, I used whole wheat. Instead of lard, olive oil. Instead of whole milk, low fat. Instead of sugar, blueberries. And a touch of honey for dipping. It was easy to alter the ingredients to match my grown-up needs in my own grown-up kitchen. But it was, admittedly, a hollow effort to soothe a gaping hole of connection I wish I could fill as easily as the batter filled the muffin pan. 

 If I could make that magic happen, I would fill each mold to overflowing with all that is good about her, from her beautifully handwritten recipes to the cast iron pans I remember. They would ooze from honey laced crevices in smokey, sweet drops on a simple plate peppered with a pound of butter...and freckled remind me of my mother's freckled hands and the way they wiped the apron. Somewhere along the edge of a pristine butter plate would lay a silver butter knife with scalloped edges, cutting into the sweet smell of substance that only a mother's love can fill - the way it cuts into my heart on muffin days.

 I would only use her recipe. I would not try to change. I would not grow up. I would stay in her kitchen. I would learn to like lard and pretend it's good for my soul. I would watch her stir the bowl and try to memorize the steps. I would make a holy mess just to wipe my hands on her apron. Then I would eat every one of them gone 'til the very last drizzle hit the porcelain and the last morsel of flour hit the floor. She would smile in silence at my goodness and I would pretend I didn't miss the woman I might become. 
Her script

I never could pretend for long. 
My script
For just as surely as hot bread melts whatever the knife is carrying, I would wake up to the smell of sweetness and long to feel the touch of that honey on my skin - the one ingredient I could see in my mind's eye - and it would land somewhere soft and knowing that only a mother would know.  It was the one ingredient I would have added and the one she never used.
I longed for her to understand that while I share her handwriting and wrestle to this day with her boisterous spirit, I cannot be anyone but who I am.

Because the worst of her is brevity and the worst of me is length, I filled my spoons with words on paper while she wrote beautiful lyrics in pans of love.

There amidst the vanilla and chocolate lined bowls at her sink, I found a voice of my own, but it was not made of muffin pans and whisks. And while we are strikingly similar in feminine ways and she is in her own right glaringly independent, the tangled tale of my mother and me lies in the messy truth that I don't know where her handwriting ends and mine begins.  And that is a beautiful thing.


 Today there is the smell of bread baking from an old recipe box. 
 The spillage makes it sacred, the stain makes it new.

So it is with mothers and daughters.


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Monday, May 2, 2016

Monday Mimisms ~ Dancing With Unmentionables

I suppose in light of the fact that I've been away for a couple of months, I shouldn't mention the unmentionables. So I won't..... 
mention the unmentionables. They're not to be mentioned you see. 
I needed some time to unclog the blog. 
And yet I keep accumulating unmentionables. 

Not much has changed.
And everything has changed.
You've heard 'The more things change the more they stay the same' or something like that, right?  It proved to be true in a myriad of ways - my great superb lesson of 2015. And then change turned to chance and back to change once again.

Life is circular you see. There are some revisits you need to revisit. Some circles that need one more bold line of color in the coloring book of your life. And then there are circles you get stuck in, like a merry-go-round in a dizzying nightmare, and you can't stop spinning 'round and 'round. You're screaming for the ride to stop but no one is there to help you....and then you wake up.... and realize that you have to get off this ride all by yourself. 

Since the first of the year, I've experienced these whirling revisits in my family, in my personal relationships, in my career.  Circular lessons. Over and over. The Universe is trying to get my attention. "Hey, Pencil Skirt! Haven't you noticed that this scenery looks awfully familiar?"

"But I don't WANT to look at that again. I closed that chapter many moons ago," I whined. 
"Ummmm, no. It was just a bookmark," said the wise and Omnipotent. "You need to finish the book."

Shhhhh.....hear it comes. The unmentionables.  
 I was blessed this year with a few incredible and unexpected opportunities for that wonderful thing called closure. That thing we all want and need when a meaningful relationship suddenly ends. When a friendship surprisingly withers. Or when someone we love dies. Since last August, I've lost two aunts, an uncle, and watched some of my closest friends bury their own as well.  
So, we stand at gravesides and caskets, staring into the unspoken. 

 The Universe, God, Whatever-You-Call-Yours, wants you to have peaceful closure. I'm convinced of that. I said peaceful closure. And that's on YOU, not them. You're not responsible for how they choose to handle theirs. Want your joy back? I'm about to push you off a cliff and into a hurricane. Here's how it happens:

We begin conversations we thought were forever muted and find ourselves knocking on doors we thought were closed. Invitations come. Mercury Retrograde reverses in our favor. It's as if karma itself wants another chance to right a wrong before it spins totally out of control and whacks the bejeebus out of all concerned and we realize....we may never have another opportunity to heal. To forgive. To understand. To perhaps even find the strength to love unconditionally and without expectation. To choose to stay or go. Again. So, we step into yesterday with fear and trembling. Knowing what fear and trembling yesterday held, that's not an easy assignment.
But it's going to be all right. There is no other choice. We take the step...

And here we stand with the choice to run or stay and finish our business.
What will you do?

Oh, I hope you will stay. Be brave. Because gravesides and caskets are real. And there is no open door to that conversation. 
It's hard to get closure with a dead person.

 Wait for that merry-go-round man to ask for your ticket one more time. It happens out of the blue. You don't even know you NEED it until the man shows up. Hold out your hand and climb into the seat. Buckle up, oh, you'd better buckle up, because it's gonna be one helluva ride.

And, finally, you're locked into a time warp, stealing a piece of time that belongs to only you because it's your lesson to learn and no one can learn it for you. Sometimes you have someone to dance with. Other times you must find it alone. But there is ONE thing that is absolutely essential to the process. And it's dangerous, mind you, but worth it. 
OPEN your heart.

 Open it so painfully wide you think all the blood will flow out at once - but it doesn't. 
You wonder when the hemorrhage will start - but it doesn't. 
Your heart pounds fearfully into your chest wall like seagulls crashing into windowpanes.
Ignore the urge to dial 911 and leave it open.  Don't you dare close it up again. 
Because people with closed arteries die. They hunker down in self-protection and squeeze until no blood can move and life is gone.

You are in control of an open heart.  You control what you allow in and you control what flows out.

Once you're in the thick of it, say what you need to say. Don't leave one word unsaid. Choose your words and own them.
Make your choices. Own them.

 A thing called truth will start to creep in. It will rearrange your head, your heart, your blood vessels, your bones. Your entire perspective is about to change. Your life becomes more colorful.  And before you know it, wisdom takes root, replacing those rose-colored hopes and dreams with a pesky little thing called weeds.  You need those weeds. The ones with the thorns attached. They scrape and cleanse. It's going to hurt. Just a little. As they attach themselves - those strong sturdy weeds of wisdom - to the part of you that needs what it came for.  They remove what stands between you and the rest of your life. You will come to understand that prickly pain is the necessary part.

And the most beautiful part.
Somehow you know.

Because you're free. 

I have been blogging this blog for nearly a decade. The ten-year anniversary of Mimi Writes will happen this month. I founded this space on the promise of authenticity. To myself. To my readers. It's always been about the evolution of me, my own struggles, and sharing my words as honestly as I can. I'm not about to change that now.  

I'm back.
Same pencil skirt.
New insight.

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Monday, February 15, 2016

Monday Mimisms ~ When Alejandro Beamed

It all started when little Alejandro attempted to interrupt me during journal time. Tugging on my sweater like a tenacious gnat and smelling like a recently eaten peanut butter and jelly sandwich, he looked up at me and said, "I'm done with my work, Miss Mimi. Here it is!"
*putting on teacher voice* "What do we do when we're finished with our work, Alex? (and not letting him finish..) ..."we put it in our folder, right?" 
"Yes, Miss Mimi...but..."
"So you go ahead and leave it there and I'll check it in a few minutes."
A dejected Alejandro dropped my sweater sleeve like a jilted mosquito and walked away with folder in hand. 


*putting on teacher BRAIN*
Wait a minute. Alejandro never even does his work much less finishes it! I need to see that folder and I need to see it now. What has he written? What is going on? What is he trying to tell me? Is the school on fire??! It must be important or he wouldn't have stopped crashing paper airplanes long enough to write anything. Write? Write? Wait... He had a pencil???!! 
This is serious.

"Alejandrooooooo.... Alejaaaaannnndro.....would you come back up here please? I would love to see what you've written in your folder today. I'm so proud that you've finished it."
He beamed. He walked. He handed over the evidence. I tried to disguise my skepticism. He's written exactly 4 sentences (4 days work) in three weeks you see.  I had reason for disbelief.

I opened his Daily Gratitude Journal and this is what I saw...

 Have you ever wanted to crawl into a hole and stay there until the rapture?
My eyes welled with tears. My faced flushed with embarrassment. My heart hurt. None of that mattered though. Alejandro was beaming at me. And I drank it in like the nectar of loveliness I so desperately needed at that very moment.

*putting on teacher HEART*

 "I am grateful for you too, Alex. Thank you! This means so much to me.
 And this is excellent work today."
More beaming. More shuffling. More peanut butter breath.

It was reading day. I put on some calming piano music and all the kids wore witch hats and costumes, huddled in the corners with Harry Potter and R. L. Stine, Chicken Soup books I'd found at a yard sale and everything in between. Quiet. Noses in books. Pillows on the floor. Sprawled and entwined all over each other with books in their hands. It was a beautiful sight.
And me with my journal and pen nestled underneath my own book choice, trying to scramble my thoughts on paper before I lost the feeling of magic I got when Alejandro taught me to pay attention to sweater tugs and big brown eyes of impatience.

I watched him throughout the rest of class. He was a different little boy. Reading. Obeying. Not an airplane in sight. And why? I needed to figure it out. Why was he so compliant and eager to please me? 

And then it hit me. 
It must have been yesterday. While the rest of the class finished independent vocabulary work, I'd sat by him for about 20 minutes, helping him find definitions and spell new words.  He was behind (as usualllll) and he needed to catch up. "You've got it now, Alex. That's right. Good job..... Yes! I like the way you used context clues to figure that one out. Wow. You're almost finished....Keep going. You can do it... and on and on..." 
I remember him looking up at me at one point as if to say, "Well, Duh, Miss Mimi. I'm smart ya know."
The more I praised him, the harder he worked. He was quick and smart, eager to learn and giddy to finish his work like the others. Determined.

So that was it. He needed my attention.
Plain and simple. He just wanted my attention.
He wanted me to be proud of him.

I thought about all the moments in my life when I'd been quick to dismiss people because I was too busy to look, too distracted by the endless tasks and expectations to really listen to them, too battle-scarred myself to want to hear another word from the non-compliant airplane throwers of the world. Tired. Worn out from the day. Overwhelmed.

I may not be on target every day as a teacher. I am not a perfect teacher. I am not a perfect human being. But I'm learning to love my imperfections and embrace what they teach me. My impatience met his impatience. His brown eyes were large and needy. So are mine. 
And what is it that he needs more than perfect vocabulary?
Miss Mimi's love.

So tomorrow? And the next day and the day after that I'll make eye contact with Alejandro, even if just for two seconds, even if I'm surrounded by a thousand other little munchkins. I'll praise him for something, even if it has to be the way he made that plane beautifully curve through the air of my classroom. Even if....

Because that's all he needs.
And I can do that.


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