Even when you step into life, chances taken aren’t always the ones you expect. The milestones in our life seem to have a plan with rules and the normal roles expected of us. I’m one for structure but I need flexibility within it. How to say yes, how to say no, on what basis.

Love is a motivator—one we all desire. My first love took me to Puerto Rico, I wasn’t scared or worried to enter a new culture or learn a new language. Fear came years later when I realized that I had made a mistake. What I took for love was masked by adventure, my values of integrity while caring for a culture and creating a home had been compromised. Conventional wisdom kept me tied to the invisible moorage of a ship, named Society, one I couldn’t rock. My partner cared more about what people thought of his image, rather than imaging growth. Could I take the leap and create a new life, find another way.  

Would saying yes to others be safer than saying no? How can you move forward when you can’t see the path? Would retuning to my old life be one of failure or courage?

What are the chances that the next step will take me somewhere wonderful. My Bubbie’s saying, you never know what is around the corner, offers hope but obscures the dark shadows of the past and the potholes that appear as oases.   

I remember studying statistics in college—predictability of what-ifs, logical conclusions to measure outcomes. The odds of something happening. In the business world that might matter, in terms of the heart and soul, guarantees of success have more to do with pivoting, twirling, dancing new steps.

When I returned from Puerto Rico, I had gained deep friendships, an appreciation for plumbing, electricity, the ability to dance like a bona-fide Latina, and most important my fluency in Spanish paved the way in all my positions in the corporate and retail world. My heart suffered even as it grew.

Love moves us to places where we don’t expect. The illusion of control disappears as a parent’s motherly love supersedes reason and the self, recedes to offer guidance to another being. The chances of my two children colliding on our narrow driveway coming from school, and the other going to work were nil. And yet it happened. Unforeseen paths take you where you might not want to go.

For years I struggled with my CEO position, having taken a path into the corporate world. The company excelled with my direction, numbers saw soaring profits and I had compensation that fed a family of five easily. A nagging sensation of pandora boxes held my stomach in knots, and yet I stayed until the one factor I hadn’t considered. The owner had lost face, no one listened to his rantings, so he forced me out. 

I’m an optimist but not the lemons to lemonade maker. I recognized the unforeseen consequence of the forced departure reawakened my soul. Another leap of faith had me open a restaurant at age 52—a novice who then suffered the  2008 downturn in the markets.  Was I wrong, to take a chance?  Fourteen years later, the answer was no, as I retired with the sale to my honed manager.  But in 2008 the answer was yes, the struggle froze and pushed me. 

Life’s curves have messed with my trajectory—the odds of having one’s spouse and one’s mother with cancer diagnosed at the same time made me an expert in procedures, medical billing, caring deeply.

How do you prepare for the unknown? What is avoidable, predictable, and unforeseen? Looking around the corner, taking a step forward has a deeper significance since a car struck me recently on my daily walk, fracturing my pelvis. And yet here I am a month later walking on my own. My thought wasn’t why me, but better me, than someone else. For over time I had cultivated a strong mind and body of fortitude.

Chances are of two kinds, one you take, or one given to you. The path is never clear. No matter the outcome the reaction is what connects directly to one’s core. In all my escapades, the resulting journeys have brought me back home to my center. How I arrive varies. Life is an open ticket. I’m grateful for each new step, each new chance to grow. 

Thanks to www.Wordsmith.org and A.Word.A.Day with Anu Garg, I have received for the last twelve years in my in-box a “word” with pronunciation, meaning, etymology, and  usage.  I must confess that the words eek into my brain and sometimes into my stories. Here are two words that struck me as noteworthy:

bred-in-the-bone
PRONUNCIATION: (bred-in-thuh-BOHN)

MEANING: adjective: 1. Deep-rooted. 2. Habitual; inveterate.

ETYMOLOGY:  From the old proverb “What is bred in the bone will not come out of the flesh”, implying something deep-rooted cannot be removed. Also recorded in the form “What is bred in the bone will come out in the flesh”, meaning deeply ingrained traits will ultimately reveal themselves. Earliest documented use: 1470. 

droog
PRONUNCIATION: (droog)

MEANING: noun: A member of a gang; a henchman.    

ETYMOLOGY: Coined by Anthony Burgess in A Clockwork Orange, from Russian drug (friend). Earliest documented use: 1962.

My Usage:   

The droog insisted his meanness was bred-in-the bone, but I knew different, his tattoos were of tear drops falling from a broken heart. 

Good fiction creates empathy. A novel takes you somewhere and asks you to look through the eyes of another person, to live another life.

-Barbara Kingsolver, novelist, essayist, and poet (b. 8 Apr 1955) 

What wisdom can you find that is greater than kindness?

-Jean Jacques Rousseau, philosopher and author (28 Jun 1712-1778) 

My recent accident has kept me from writing. Healing the body takes time and I don’t want my character, Sealy, to suffer like I did. I prefer to let my feelings and insights percolate through my system before I come to any conclusions. If I don’t, writing doesn’t inform. In some distant future, a short story will have a great description either through the eyes of the driver or the victim. Meanwhile, Sealy and her friend Paul, explore theories of origin and genetic consequences.

 I don’t usually like alternate reality books, or ones where science prevails as the motivator in the plot line. These two novels took me by surprise, and I highly recommend them.

The Unseen World by Liz Mooretakes you back and forth from the 1980s to 2009 and rounding out the story line the 1920s through 1950s. The characters are out of sync with society and technology. The story challenges your definitions of family, love, and intelligence. I found myself reading late into the night devouring the crumbs left behind of a person you know thoroughly and not at all.

A Children’s Bible by Lydia Millet, while a great read, disturbed me in unforgiving ways. The hearts and wisdom of the young children and teenagers outstrips the nonchalance of the parents. When an unforeseen hurricane and subsequent pillage of an island occur, it is the bond of a sister and brother and the ingenuity of their enclave that creates meaning and compass to move forward.

Here is the link to my latest performance with Seven Stories.  

VIDEO: Watch ‘7 Stories’ storytellers talk about Coming to/Adjusting to America – The B-Town (Burien) Blog (b-townblog.com)  
I’m the first storyteller. Enjoy.

If you’d enjoy a talk with your book group or other writing groups, contact me here.

Does Anyone Know Me?

Between the lines
Of my power
Do you see the creases
Of my smile
Lines like the folds
Of old shoes
Worn with relish.
The urge to laugh 
Beyond the rushing
Waves of doom.
My off key voice
Not made to sing
I dance the salsa
On the lines
Between the fold.
Am I alone?

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