Friday, April 29, 2011

In Your Easter Bonnet ...

Remember that old song? "In your Easter bonnet, with all the frills upon it ..."

Alas, somewhere during my lifetime the Easter bonnet went the way of the Easter parade and white gloves. In fact, Jackie O's pillbox is the last hat I recall seeing on a woman's head unless she was at the beach. Or happened to be Queen Elizabeth. Or an African-American church lady. Oh, those hats! Make me weep with envy, especially when I think of all the bare heads in my own church.

I used to have hats. I loved hats and occasions to wear them. I had a hat covered with pheasant feathers, a felt slouch that made me feel like Greta Garbo, a cloche of white roses. I wrapped them in tissue and put them in boxes to keep them clean. The time between removing the hats from the boxes became longer and longer and eventually the hats disappeared during a spell of intense closet cleaning.

I did wear hats during chemo. It got so I could spot a fellow sufferer a mile off by the hat on her head. No one else wore them.

This year, I noticed an advertisemment for hats in a store ad. Pretty hats with brims and flowers. Hmmm. Could hats be making a comeback? Did someone else besides me recognize the perfect diguise for a bad hair day, let alone a no-hair day?

Went to church Sunday and gasped. Someone wore a hat. A perky yellow straw hat that sang out "Spring!" An Easter bonnet.

I hope more women follow her example. A hat is necessary accessory, not just to disguise a bad hair day, but to make a statement. Choosing the right hat reflects who you are. A hat can lift not only your mood, but the spirits of those who see you. A hat makes you feel feminine and yes, let's use that old-fashioned word, ladylike. I can't see a young woman cussing like a sailor while wearing a frilly hat.

African-American women already know this. In our hearts, we know it, too.

I could seque from this to a metaphor on writing, but I'm not going to.

Sometimes a hat is just a hat.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Just do it

When my middle son and his wife moved to Texas, I planned to visit them ... soon. But something else always seemed to take precedence. We drove to Florida, to New York, to Ohio. but not to Texas.

The trip seemed so long, and let's face, it unfamiliar. I had been to those other places before. I knew the rest areas and the best places to stop and eat. I had a favorite motel if we decided to break the trip up into two days. And so I kept putting it off.

When I said I didn't want to drive that far, someone suggested flying. Oh, no, too much hassle and besides I'd have to drive to the airport in Charlotte. I hate Charlotte traffic.

I looked into taking a train, but the price was higher than an airplane and it took four days. Not for me.

So when my son announced they were thinking of moving to California, I said, "Well, that's a long way to go for a visit."

'Mom." Pause. "You can not visit me in California just as easily as you don't visit me in Texas."

Wow. Talk about a wakeup call. Had it really been 10 years since they moved from Louisville? And yes, we did visit them there.

So, I said to myself, I'm going. Now. I thought I would have to go alone, but my sister agreed to go with me. We set a date, notified the kids -- in their forties, but still kids to me. (My mom was calling my sister and me "you girls" when we were in our sixties.)

We set off, armed with a Google map and TomTom.

We made it. We had a grand time, the kids were wonderful hosts, and I saw parts of the country I never thought I would see. Our only problem was getting lost in Houston traffic, but we managed to get back on track to arrive at our destination. Now I wonder why I waited so long.

Isn't that like writing a book? You think about it, you make tentative plans, but never start. Then something happens and you know it is now or never. At first it goes along easily, but then you bog down. The plot is going nowhere, you can't see your way to the ending you visualized so clearly.

Then you find your way out and go on and suddenly realize you have accomplished what you put off for so long.

Happy travels!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

It seems I still have a job

One of my long-deferred dreams was to take a trip to Texas to visit our middle son and his wife. I kept postponing it, always busy, always thinking I'd have time. Then he announced they were thinking of moving to California and I decided to follow Rabbi Hillel's advice, "...if not now, when?"

So my sister and I decided to drive down, leaving her husband with mine to fend for themselves. (Note: their idea of fending was to go out for breakfast, lunch and dinner every day we were gone.)

What has this to do with writing? It was like having written a book instead of telling everyone you are going to write one. Making the trip was similar: now I can say I did it, not that I am going to ... someday.

Three days after our return, I attended the daylong Carolinas Writers Conference. I was impressed that the main speakers gave their presentations and then went on to attend the workshops just like the attendees: accomplished writers both teaching and learning from fellow writers. I came away with many new ideas, not only about improving my craft, but also improving how I approached it.

When I retired from my full-time job, I thought I would have loads of time to write. It hasn't turned out that way because I am constantly sidetracked: volunteer work, part-time paid work, books to read, housework, a husband, and yes, spontaneous trips across the country.

But what I heard, over and over again, was treat your writing like a job. It is your career. Have a work space that is yours alone and set definite hours.

I do have a work space, but my hours have been wildly erratic. This is going to change. After setting definite number of hours to work each day, I plan to set goals. I do this all the time in my head, but I realize now that doesn't count. So now, I am going to write my goals on paper and give them a deadline. My hope is that looking at a list of goals each morning and noting the date they should be accomplished will make me keep my butt in my chair and my fingers on the keyboard. No surfing, no reading e-mail, no games until that day's goal can be marked off with a checkmark.

I think I can do this.

I got to Texas, didn't I?