Themestream

It’s no secret that I have had a raging case of writer’s block since the beginning of the pandemic. It’s not just me according to the rest of my writing group. In our case it’s a matter of all or nothing. Some of us refuse to sit in front of a blank screen so we don’t even bother turning it on. Others are filling up page after page. I must find a way out of this so what could be more inspiring than finding the first (and only) payment I have ever received for my writing expertise. Don’t laugh now. This was over twenty years ago when Themestream paid writers a penny for each time someone read one of their posts. In digging through my archives, I managed to find eighteen of these articles. So here’s the plan. Since I have not been successful in coming up with anything new, I’ll just pull one out of the archives and write a THEN and NOW. Here goes the first one:

Lipstick          

THEN

“You need lipstick,” Mom used to say.  I was only thirteen and I didn’t think I needed it. When the Avon lady showed up and agreed with Mom, she shuffled through her bag. She lined up several little white sample tubes of pale pink lipstick.  “Try these,” she said.  I assured her I would try them.

I snuck into the bathroom and tried on the first pale pink shade. Ugh I thought as I tried to smear it off with a piece of toilet paper. Six tubes later I emerged from the bathroom, lips bright red not from lipstick but from removing it with scratchy toilet tissue.

Mom insisted I wear the Rose color to church the following Sunday. She always wore rose so therefore I must look good in Rose. I don’t think so. I licked my lips all the way to church hoping every tiny bit of evidence would be gone by the time we got there. I rushed into the bathroom and removed the stubborn traces. Mom came in and offered her tube of lipstick suggesting a fresh coat.

I never could get used to lipstick. I just never felt right. I never know – is it too pink, too red, too purple, too white, too orange, too brown? Is it me? Nothing feels right. I hate to see old ladies with red, or worst yet bright pink, lipstick. It is shocking against their pale white faces. I wonder what others think of mine.

My husband always asks me to wear red lipstick. Bright red lipstick. One time two of my friends joined my husband and I at our favorite Chinese restaurant in SF. I brought a tube of bright red lipstick. One by one we got up from the table and went to the restroom coming out with bright red lips. My husband never even noticed until we all started giggling.

Every time one of those offers comes around where you get free cosmetics, I jump on it. I must have collected hundreds of lipstick samples over the years. Each one I try in front of the bathroom mirror. Each time I feel thirteen again as I wipe it off with scratchy toilet paper.

NOW

Twenty years later, I am the old lady I used to think looked horrid with lipstick. You probably guessed by now – I just cannot bring myself to go beyond Burt’s Bees Lip Shimmer. Looking past the wrinkles, I definitely don’t feel thirteen again.

2021 Optimism

Optimism

Drumroll please. My word for the year is… Optimism

Because 2021 just has to be better than 2020, I choose not to reflect on last year and instead approach the new year with an empty page. No resolutions, no goals and no vision board (one only has to scroll past the last four posts to see how that turned out).

So tell me… what is your word for the year?

P.S. for those who are concerned about the physical and mental health of Herman and Myrtle, please remember @mzbull loves to exaggerate reality and names are changed to protect the innocent.

Balance

The labyrinth outside my door calls me. To the untrained eye, perhaps it is just a scattering of rocks. But to me, it’s the place I go to meditate. Or sometimes, just to walk. It isn’t a traditional seven circuit labyrinth. It’s what fits in my yard. It doesn’t matter that it is only four circles with four turns. It serves its purpose. 

On the first day of the shelter in place order I placed fourteen small stones at the entrance of the labyrinth, one to carry each day. I’d walk the first thing in the morning, pick up one stone, quietly observe the new day and all its twists and turns, and then place the stone into the center.

As we neared the end of our fourteen day quarantine, we learned it wasn’t over yet. The virus had run rampant and there was a new order. A month at least. I’d need a bigger pile of stones. And not just one for each day. If I were to maintain any sense of peace, I’d need to do a lot more journeys through this maze.

 My days began with the daily walk. As time went on, whenever there was something I needed to ponder, or when I felt restless or angry or sad, I’d take my emotions to that peaceful place. Each time I picked up one small stone at the entrance. I’d feel the weight of the stone. The coolness or warmth. The shape.

And when I got to the center of the labyrinth, I placed that small stone on one of the larger rocks. Each day I started a new stack. At the end of the day I could look at those cairns and remember each walk, the thoughts that crossed my mind, the weight of each rock left behind and the lighter journey out. Sometimes there was only only one small pebble. On other days maybe five or six balanced precariously one on top of another. I began to realize, the taller the stack, the more balanced I felt.

There would be 83 towers in that center now if nature had let them be but not all towers are built on a strong foundation. Some are built with careful thought and practice, balanced with precision. They fall easily, blown over by a gentle wind. Others are sturdy stones, flat ones, the ones that are simple to stack. The mass of stones that have fallen, lie in rubble. That is not destruction. It is a reminder that I can build a dream but I’m not in charge of the outcome. 

It’s all about balance.

1 Word Prompt Challenge January 2020

Sometimes we need a little challenge to get back into the swing of writing. In December I placed a post-it note on my screen “Butt in Chair – Write.” That didn’t work. January would have been a good time for a writing resolution but I snubbed that idea right out of my radar. Instead, I figured one little 31 day challenge might just do the trick. Only 50 words a day based on a one word prompt. After 31 days we were supposed to have finished one story, chapter by chapter. Being the rebel that I am, I concluded it would be perfectly fine to just post a daily post featuring “Herman” and “Myrtle.” Here you have it, exactly 1,550 words. Ending in a cliff hanger, of course. Gotta have something to keep me going.

Follow me @mzbull on Instagram. And if you want to join the fun, sign up for the February challenge #1wordpromptchallenge

Warning: Sometimes it takes longer to write exactly 50 words than it does an entire story.