The Zing Effect

I never play the odds. My mind won’t lead where my heart cannot follow. The only time I’m all in is when I feel that special zing of excitement flow through me like a pulse of vibrating electric current. When I feel a good zing it doesn’t matter if I’m backing a sure thing or a three legged pony; I’ll anti up just to see where the game takes me. He wasn’t a three legged pony and he was no sure thing but the cut of his suite, the way it fit his shoulders…yum. I didn’t even need him to turn around to know he was for me. The zing was flooding all through me. I felt it in my chest, flooding to the tips of my fingers. My soul whistled a cat call out through my heart yelling, Honey! I’m right here. No sooner did the feeling fill me but that man turned right around and saw me.

It’s funny the way souls attract. I’m very aware of the moment my soul gets all excited about another person’s soul. It’s the zing that gives it away. It’s the zing that shouts out, Hey you! And that’s why I never play the odds. The odds would tell me he’s sophisticate and I’m self-educated and no way-no how is such a pretty bit of man ever going to notice the woman behind the counter in the polyester uniform. Yet he does because souls don’t care about the superficial. Some say fate holds all the cards, yet I know there isn’t an obstacle in the universe that can counterpoint a good zing. My man lifts up his bag and walks to the counter. I stand my ground, my smile offering unlimited serenity in a sea of manmade madness.

“Ma’am?” he starts off real slow, his eyes down cast, his hand resting on the counter over his ticket. “I’m supposed to catch a flight out to Chicago but the schedule over there says the flights been canceled.”

“Let me check that for you.” Taking up the ticket I type a little and look a little and the zing just keeps on keeping on. On my second glance up I catch his eye and smile. He has pretty eyes; the kind that sparkle all kinds of color all at once. A boring person would call them hazel but I know they’re flecked with gold and bits of emerald green and sea foam grey all jumbled up together. He has nice, nice eyes. “Well…” I drawl out the world a little, my eyes fixed on the computer screen. “It would seem that O’Hare’s shut down due to a blizzard. There are no flights scheduled to Chicago for the foreseeable future.”

“So I’m stuck!”

“You could look at it that way. Or you could think of it as a fortuitous extension to your sunny trip to L.A. We have palm trees and movie stars instead of wind-chill and snow drifts.”

“I could look at the upside.” He nods his head with sober resignation.

“Do you have somewhere you can stay?”

“Not as of yet!”

“Well I know a great little place that always has room for a friend. If you like I could give them a call.”

“That sounds nice.” He studies me a bit. “Your voice is familiar.” His smile is slow and hesitant, the kind of smile that seeks truth and spreads gratefully when it finds it. “You’re from Louisiana aren’t you?”

“New Orleans.”

“I’m from Baton Rouge.” Our eyes catch again and hold for a lingering moment.

“Louisiana’s home.” I shrug and smile enjoying the lingering connection like powdered sugar kisses. “I’m off work in 15 minutes.” The words tumble out from my lips as soft and slow as a shared secret. “Why don’t you meet me in the restaurant around the corner and I’ll buy you a lemonade. It’ll be nice to catch-up with someone from back home.”

“I’d like that.”

When he walks away the zing just gets stronger. I feel it in my knees, in my fingers. Even my toes feel ticklish. The zing is why I never back the odds. Logic and the laws of probability won’t allow what just happened. But a good zing? Now that’s physical proof that God’s got you by that hand and he’s leading you to the sweetest part of the cake. I like living a life of possibility, I like dancing in the unpredictable. I like the joy I feel when life offers me a new adventure all wrapped up in sizzling surprise. Best of all, I like the magic that happens when two old souls attract and say hello all over again.

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Mothers and Sons

mother's and sons

When my son crashed his scooter I patched up his cuts and gave him pudding. Pudding is the cure for all that ails us. It’s my go too medicine for post doctor’s visits, bad colds and scooter crashes. Nothing says, “There, there, you’re all better” like tapioca. My favorite brand is Kozy Shack because it really is Cozy. I taste it and I’m back in my grandmother’s kitchen watching her stir a large pot of pudding on the stove. Kozy Shack tastes like Grandma’s homemade pudding. It’s that good. But I digress.

My son crashed his scooter. He cut up his knee and was just fine until we went to change the bandage and found that the gauze had stuck fast to the scab. Horror struck, my son sat on the bathroom floor and refused all medical help. He’s ten now which means that he doesn’t have to do anything we tell him to. So we sat on the floor with him offering up salve, Q-tips and my grandmother’s advice. “Pull the band aid off fast honey. Doing it slow will just prolong the pain.” The look of horror he gave us after this bit of advice is forever emblazoned on my memory. So we sat, coaxed and cajoled for a good hour while he fought, cursed and accused us of thinking thoughts of unconscionable cruelty.

Children are god’s way of testing our sanity. I’ve failed miserably and come to the conclusion that crazy and child rearing are like oil and water. At one point as he yelled at us to not touch the band aid, I began laughing hysterically. There was no good reason why. The moment was far from funny but we’d reached that point in parenting when the good parent stands by and watches the crazy parent snap. I snapped and Dan sat there looking lost between his strong willed son and his madly euphoric wife.

I could have pinned Duncan down, removed his band aid and then washed out his deep cut. The old me would have done that. The old me was tough and efficient. The old me cornered injured horse and dressed their wounds no matter how bad it hurt them. The old me got things done. The new me is more compassionate and far less organized. The new me picked up her son, sat him in her lap and rocked him until we’d both calmed down enough to deal with our wounds. In the end we pocked, prodded and prayed the band aid off with gentle kindness and no old fashioned efficiency.

I like this new me, I like that my hardnosed, grab the bull by the horns upbringing has sloughed off enough to where I can sit, listen, crack up, recover and still stay nice. Maybe it’s the years of therapy? Maybe it’s my loving marriage? Maybe I’m just a better person then I was? Whatever it is, Duncan and his fear of pain were heard. No bandage was ripped away and no one’s boundaries where pushed. In my war with the moment I didn’t get mean or forceful, I just laughed until I found my patience, my peace and my unending love for this funny little boy who shares my life. God bless children, mad mothers, patient fathers and the tub of Kozy Shake pudding that made everything better in the end.

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Locating your Authentic Self

Locating your Authentic Self is an important step towards relational intimacy. It is impossible to experience deep sustaining love if you are hiding behind a role. In life we misplace our true identity behind labels and ideas that obscure the person we really are. Removing the layers of pretense and fear driven identity can be an intimidating undertaking. Only through authenticity can you find freedom, joy and true love.

Fake identities manifest through fear, loneliness and a need to please, protect or be accepted. These labels come from parents, siblings, society, educational titles, or they may be self-applied. Labels start small but they quickly take on a life of their own, crippling their host’s ability to live authentically in the process. False identity states: I am not a whole person until you know this fact about me. Or, I wouldn’t be good enough for this moment if you knew the real me.

My most destructive false identity came with childhood. I was told that I was, drifty, irrational, difficult, bossy, too sensitive and controlling. These labels grew into, Bitch and finally Crazy Bitch, a title I took to with zeal. I wore it like battle armor, ready to shred my life and my family. Being Crazy Bitch, offered me a way to escape the permanent victim hood I was raised in.

When my husband first asked me out I said, “You don’t want to date me, I’m crazy.” Was this my truth? At the time I thought it was. After years of being labeled, of rebelling, and of being labeled again, I developed an identity that said I was crazy, untrustworthy and mercenary. He looked into my eyes and said, “You’re not crazy.” I remember how sad I felt for him. I knew that at some point I would shred him, break him, hurt him the way I had my family. I overcame my destructive false identity and have a healthy authentic marriage because of his love, trust and support.

In my book Magdalena’s Shadow, I introduce my audience to Coco, a girl who struggles with finding her true identity. Her story begins under the labels: idiot, unlovable and crazy. As the story progresses her labels grow to encompass: model, single mother and whore. Coco could succumb to these labels but like so many of us she strives to overcome the labels she was branded with. Guided by a strict code of personal integrity, Coco begins a compelling search for personal freedom, self-worth and lasting love.

Freedom is yours when you rise above unwanted roles and other people’s beliefs about what you should be. Sit down and list out the roles which you identify with and ask yourself, “how does this role make me feel?” Question, “who would I be if I didn’t believe this about myself?” Listen carefully to your heart’s answers. Be still with your authentic self. Take time to bond with the feeling of just being you, even if only for a moment. Stripping away the layers of false self can feel scary. It helps to understand that the false self has no integrity, is incapable of lasting love and lives wholly outside of intimacy because intimacy cannot be achieved in the presence of a lie.