When I was little, between the ages of 1-14 I had many ambitions.
This was inspired by my brother’s dinosaur fascination. We lived in one of the barn houses near the parade ground at Clark Air Base. These old houses where built for the tropics, up on stiltsWe had a big chalk board at our house at Clark and I would draw jousting horses and he would erase them and draw dinosaurs. Then he would write “SAVE” on the board, which I had to respect because the teachers at school did that, and I didn’t think it was good form to erase. So I latched on to the interesting folks dressed in desert khakis with curious hats and notebooks in my brother’s dinosaur books and that fed my ambition.
One of my best friends studied to be an archaeologist and I always loved her accounts of going on a dig.
2. Taster at Chef Boyardee
In 1966 we moved from the Philippines to Albuquerque, New Mexico. My Daddy was in the Air Force and he was assigned to Kirtland Air Force Base. It was a very pleasant sojourn. Our big family was housed in a former piece of a hospital. Our bedrooms opened up onto a long corridor and the bathroom was industrial sized. I was fascinated with some odd things. We had a floor polisher and I loved shining the corridor and my bedroom. I loved American TV and there was an ad for Chef Boyardee that appealed to me:
Now that I look back on the ad, I understand it completely. The ad was full of children my age, it reminded me of the lively world of the Catholic Philippines that I was far from, the long table reminded me of meals with the family.
In real life, I ended up cooking for large numbers of people. As a twenty-something I embraced cooking as and easy way to have fun and make people happy. When I was widowed at 25, I lived in a house with friends and there were always a lot of people over for dinner and cooking for everyone was a happy occasion. We shared food like a family.
Later, I had my own big family and every night for decades I cooked and fed my own table. Then they grew up and started their own kitchens and food preferences, but we can still fill a large table in a moment.
During that time in Albuquerque, I got hooked on Batman and greatly admired the noble philanthropist, Bruce Wayne. I couldn’t think of a better or more fun profession than giving away money to deserving folks. As I got older, I always was attracted to generosity, and stories of people who helped. Robin Hood, St. Queen Elizabeth of Hungary, were my heroes.
In real life, philanthropy (albeit micro-philanthropy) is a part of life. I love KIVA and the Franciscan Family Apostolate, and Food for the Poor. I figure tossing even a mite into a plea adds up. The gospel of the Widow’s Mite is a rule of life.
Between fairy tales and childhood games, I always thought I would make a great queen. Princesses didn’t have enough authority and were always being married off by clueless king fathers.
The Wicked Queen in Snow White stunned me. “Wow she has power but she is misusing it,” I thought. My sisters and I would play a game of claiming chairs and pieces of the house when we were small. “I’m the Queen!” I’d shout.
Then my sister, Lizzie would counter with, “No, that is mine, because I am the Empress!”. I lost my attempt at territorial expansion because I forgot that there was a title greater than queen.
I loved the power of the words, “I command you!”
Of course shouting that as a 7-year-old is different from a 30-year-old with an army. But……sometimes I think if people would just do what they were commanded to do, everything would work out better. Don’t laugh. Democracy (which I prefer to monarchy as a real life political system), works. But really, some people should be told what to do. Especially during a government shutdown.
Well, I didn’t get a crown, but I married a prince. When you go back in Bud’s genealogy you collide with a wall of kings and queens. I always knew he was special.
As the mother of many children I had plenty of years of telling small people what they should do. I think I was very benevolent and they love me very much so it worked out.
When I watch royal dramas the level of intrigue and nastiness is horrible. Real life is much more terrible than imagined life, so I am happy with my small dominion. My current subjects are one dog and four cats. Life is good.
When my father had his first bi-polar break that landed him in a hospital, I was my mother’s stalwart hospital visitation companion. I’m not sure in this day it would be considered an appropriate place to bring a ten-year-old but kids are tough and I loved my Daddy so I was happy to see him in any shape.
In that world, of long corridors and vending machines (I loved to get candy bars), I was introduced to some interesting people. I met a king, a great aviator, and the smartest man in the world. In the psychiatric area of a hospital, amongst the patients there is incredible tolerance for each other. At least that is what I observed. I gained a lot of empathy for the mentally ill.
In real life, when I was very young I married a brilliant young man who had a piece of sadness that wouldn’t go away and he committed suicide.
When I married Bud and became a mother empathy for the mentally ill never went away, it only expanded. I’ve always been hyper aware of the genes that are in my family DNA and have been very aware of the necessity of kindness and stability when raising children. So far, so good. The kids are great.
After I finished my journalism masters, I threw myself into a year of training to be a licensed NeuroPositive life coach. While it is not a psychologist degree, it is in the realm of mental health. A happy mind is a healthy mind. I can see where random acts of rumination impacted people I love in a terrible way. Now I know how to stay in an upward spiral. This is something I can help people with right now.
Here I am, writing. It was always the idea, planted in my head by my third grade teacher long ago and far away at Wurtsmith Elementary School by Miss Jeanine Scherer. She praised a poem I wrote and said it should be printed in Highlights Magazine for children. I’ve never forgotten that moment of recognition and elation.
Louisa May Alcott, is a kind of patron saint for me. We have made repeated visits (more like pilgrimages) to her house in Concord, Massachusetts. She was an awesome role model.
Then there is the actual practice of writing. Writing liberates. The act of putting feelings and observations into words makes them real. Otherwise they are fleeting thoughts in our own heads, as ephemeral as morning mist.
From where I sit at 56, I see the importance of writing your life down. If you don’t you will vanish when you die. You will become a record at Ancestry.com, but no one will know your story. Guess what? When you are dead and have great-grandchildren, something as innocuous as “I lived here.” becomes gold. Your descendants will want to know everything about you.
You may not believe this, but it is true. Every single thing about you and what you have lived is important to people who aren’t even born yet.
I wanted to be a nun because I was a devout little girl and loved my faith very much. (I still do.) I got very high marks in CCD during my school days at Clark Air Base. I loved, “The Sound of Music.” I also was inspired by St. Therese of Lisieux, and the ranks of beautiful nun saints portrayed in my saints biography books.
I was in awe of missionary nuns who lived like those archaeologists I admired, in all sorts of difficult habitats. Their lives seemed full of bravery and adventure. What I didn’t like was that nuns had to cut their hair and change their names. Those were the days. Now it seems nuns like short hair because they are so busy, and they are perfectly entitled to keep their names.
The more important thing was that I realized, becoming a nun was a calling. I wasn’t called to that life, but to a life of marriage and children. Still, I keep an eye on all the positive news I hear coming out of convents and communities of religious women around the world.
When I need prayers, I have my list of convents to email, and I always get a return email and an assurance of prayers. I always follow-up when the prayers are answered.
So rather than being a nun, I am a supporter of women religious all over the world. They are amazing.
So there you have it. Archaeologist, Food Taster, Philanthropist, Psychologist, Writer, Nun. This post started out light-hearted, and ended up serious. I’m really a serious person anyway. There is always more to the story than what is on the surface.
Whoa, 1609 words. That was easy. This is my 1,112 entry into my blog. It adds up, doesn’t it?