26 November, 2011

Secret Santa

The names are on a sheet of paper.

The Mistress of Ceremonies is dressed for the draw.

She had big shoes to fill in the style department from last year's Master of Ceremonies.
2010 Master of Ceremonies

And the Gale family annual Secret Santa draw has begun!

Meanwhile, the locals observe the tradition with absolute befuddlement....

...and decide to engage in more amusing activities.

My husband's side of the family is scattered all over the U.S., so each year the grown-ups draw a Secret Santa. We load our Amazon wish lists, set a limit and let the giving begin! This tradition helps us save our money for spoiling the kiddos...
Iris & Ramona
Leo & Elena

Family is the elixir to all life's troubles. May the upcoming holidays bring you abundant joy that lasts all next year!

11 November, 2011

Finding the Through Line

On the tracks, not off the rails.
Warning: The structure of this post is silly but the ideas are honest. Roll with it.

Yesterday afternoon I had drinks with a friend in town for business. We always have a nice time chatting about everything under the sun. During our visit, he brought up a question I also had on my mind. Don't you just love it when you are on the same wavelength of thought with someone? It happens every once and awhile, and when it does I like to run with it.

My friend, whom I've known since grad school in Iowa, felt he's changed so much over the years he was curious if he had an overall through line. What were the core foundations of his personality? What has remained constant through time? Meaty existence questions. 

Inciting Incident Where No Basement Rambles on Contemplation of Self
Giving birth to Ramona forced me to go inward and contemplate the self more than I've ever done in recent years. To borrow my friend's metaphor, I too have felt a quieting of the cages rattling within. And perhaps that is what the through line of any personality truly is: the presentation of your best qualities to others while you have an inward drama unfold, fraught with tumult, comedy, tragedy and sometimes melodrama. 

Rising Action of Understanding the Self
I know the little girl I was is different from the young woman I was, and the young woman I was is different from the older woman I am today. I celebrate the fact I have identified and overcome some ridiculous behavior patterns and kept the ones I think are the basis of who I am. Much like a play, if there is no change, nothing happens. And atrophy is the enemy in the action of a play and life.

We are constantly editing and adding to the script that is our lives. I believe the hardest part understanding ourselves is we hold within us all the drafts of our personality. We have to carry the past, present and future of who we are. If you know someone long enough, you carry many drafts of that person, too. This can be why we get frustrated with people--they might be referencing an earlier draft of yourself and not seeing who you are in the present. You want to say, I've grown, thank you! I am not that person anymore! Can't you see I am an ever-evolving into who I am?!?

Further Rising Action
During drinks with my friend, we were both able to say the things we are not anymore. But the lingering question was well then, what am I after all the things I know I am not?

I know I am not a person who runs away from what is true anymore. I used to feel so unworthy of honest, calm and rational love that I found any and every way to reject it. It was as if I was a moth to the flame and I latched on to anything that would be hot and colorful and scorching to the senses. I would form irrational attachments to people, places and events. I would do anything but actually accept that I was very much worthy of abundant joy and happiness. Don't ask me why, but the idea of a cool, relaxed and mature love was something I simply felt I hadn't earned. 

But damn it, I have earned every bit of it. My children remind me of it daily. Their love is so overwhelmingly wonderful I have to stop myself from tearing up at least once every day. Ramona tries to say "Ma Ma" or Iris and I cuddle on the couch and everything is right in the world.

Also, I am the luckiest girl on the planet simply because I get to be in the presence of my husband every day. I have tried so many times in my life to not accept the fact he loves the heck out of me. He has seen every part of my personality, all my goodness and bullshit and still says, "yes" to it all. That is exactly what I've always needed.

As the drinks ended and I drove my pal to the airport, I thought more about his questions (even though I was singing The Cure and being ridiculous, I was multitasking in the mind). My answer to my friend's questions is he has always been a good person, has always been awkwardly charming and has always been a good friend to me. He's seen some ugly UGLY stuff from me and so far is fine with it. Thanks, friend. That is incredibly important to me.

As a grad student in a playwriting and dramaturgy program, we were always taught to make strong choices with characters in our plays. They must undergo some dynamic element of change or the play's action with suffer. Throughout our lives we will either grab at an earlier draft of our behavior patterns or we rewrite it and move forward. It is that simple.  

I raise my glass to the current draft of my life. Cheers to the draft you are working on or living in, dear readers.