27 Dresses, chick flick with a message

musingIf you have ever been on the care-taker side of codependent; continuously putting the needs of others above your own, you need to see this movie.

The message of “27 Dresses” was one I sorely needed to hear. It was about loyalty and persevering in service to others-to a fault. It was about a journalist who intuitively pointed out the flaw of the caretaker and, deft as a counselor, kept his focus on the issue and the cure. It was about a best friend who admits her own moral compass does not always point due north, but still cares enough to hold Jane accountable.

In the movie “27 Dresses” Jane finally learns to speak up for herself. The things she says are truths that need to be spoken. But, she does it all wrong. Her friend Casey points out that she unleashed 20 years of hurt in a cruel way. Instead of just going straight to the person and speaking the truth, Jane waited until she was completely angry and then exposed her sister publicly. People suffered. Jane suffered.  Some important relationships were nearly lost.

I have been there before; both on the job and in the home.  It is a place where you perform a small intervention (as it was termed in communications class), but something goes wrong.  Either you do it horribly wrong or it is received in the worst possible way.  The result is a complete and absolute end of the relationship.  Talking has no result.  Apologies go unheeded. Reconciliation and restoration are out of the question.

Why is it so hard for a people pleaser – someone who really does care about others- to speak directly? How is it we think that covert hints are better than direct confrontation; clever exposures more valid than courageously speaking our own needs?  Is it wise to keep stuffing our own wants until we explode in overkill? As a result of covert, clever overkill; I have been accused of being mean and controlling for exposing the weaknesses and deceit of others, when I most want to be known as a loving and accommodating person.

27 Dresses” is also a story about second chances. It turned out alright. Jane was contrite about doing it wrong and she immediately acted on doing things right to the favor of her future.  Her sister took the chance to hear and be heard and it benefitted her future behavior as well. Both were better people for truth spoken and heeded.

Some things I covet from 27 Dresses:

1) friends who stick with you and hold you accountable until you do the right thing the right way; family who loves unconditionally,  and the chance to keep practicing until you get it right.

2) to be like Jane, tirelessly doing unto others what I would have them do for me.

3) to be so true to myself that it raises the bar of loving my neighbor as I love myself.

Pretty strong messages for a chick-flick, don’t you think?

Dreams of a white Christmas do come true

Merry Christmas!  Here in the high desert of Colorado – and in many other parts of Colorado – we are enjoying a white Christmas.

These boots were made for hiking; and that's just what they'll do
These boots were made for hiking; and that’s just what they’ll do
A very Merry Christmas from my house to yours
A very Merry Christmas from my house to yours
Look to the left; Mount Garfield
Look to the left; Mount Garfield
Look to the right; Grand Mesa
Look to the right; Grand Mesa

DSCN4579garfieldmesaDSCN4577trailHaving a new pair of hiking boots gives freedom and scope for the imagination about as well as would a new set of tires (I have one out of four); but, my boots can take me places the Subaru can’t go.  Maybe these boots will start walking and walk all over the world.




You can have your Christmas any day you want it

Smile interestedThe trouble with being alone and poor at Christmas is; folks almost expect you to feel sorry for yourself. Not being accustomed to RSVP pity parties, I threw myself wholeheartedly into as many Christmas activities as I could find.  Just because I am single with a starved bank account is no reason to avoid Christmas.

Fortunately, I do have friends and extended family.  I made it a point to accept the invitations that came my way; the GJHS choir extravaganza and the Schumann Singers‘ Joy to the World.

DSCN4461gjhsdecFree is not to be overlooked.  The first Friday Spirit of Christmas in Downtown Grand Junction featured carolers of every type and age on every corner and free carriage rides.   Being wanted somewhere else to spend time with grandkids, I did not stand in line for the carriage.

DSCN4493carriageThough my sparkling new dance shoes were lost on Halloween, I still attended the Teddy Bear Ball at La Puerta dance studio.  Except for the fun of bringing a gift for the Salvation Army, that was a bit ineffective for conjuring up Christmas spirit.  No bear hugs. I don’t know how to tango. My favorite leads were too few to go around.

DSCN4499schumanBut then, only half way through the month, came December 15 and with it my Christmas spirit and the thought that whether December 25th arrived or not, I had enjoyed a successful Christmas.

I shall try to assume the proper accent for each account.

From your local community news reporter: A good time was had by all at the annual ladies luncheon at the home of Coni Wolfe (Mrs. Steven Wolfe) on Surface Creek near Cedaredge. For the two weeks preceding the luncheon, Mrs. Wolfe had busied herself about the kitchen preparing delectable treats including cranberry jalapeño cheese spread, pecan tarts and sugar cookies.  When the guests arrived, a choice of hearty and tasty soups simmered on the stove, along with apple cider.  Several of the guests carried with them a bag of some sort.  Items in the bag turned out to be borrowed books returned or exchanged for additional literary reading. Women in attendance included retired and non-retired teachers from Palisade and Grand Junction High Schools along with a few old friends and new business acquaintances of Coni Wolfe.  Many of the ladies were heard to remark how nice it was to see each other again.

An Idol Nutcracker critic: “I expected a lot from you when I saw your name on the program.  A lot. You’re not just any old high school boy.  You have a history of dance and trophies won in competitions throughout the region.  But, frankly, your lifts looked a little weak and unsure.  I was surprised, you being a BMX rider and all that.  You had that spotlight stolen from you, stolen by veteran professionals from New York City.   But, we’re still expecting great things from you a few years down the line.”

Yes, Saturday December 15, I enjoyed two big scoops of Christmas.  My cousin was her  generous, hospitable self. I had a kind and interesting travel partner for the trip to Cedaredge.  The Grand Junction Symphony Orchestra members played to their potential in the orchestra pit and the professional dancing and acting on  stage was enough to take your breath away. CMU students AJ Labrum and Sofia Robinson were especially memorable in roles dancing as Arabian Coffee and Dew Drop Fairy.

May all your Christmases be WONDERFUL!  This one is turning out to be white.


But words unsaid can hurt me

Cherry Odelberg - I write about relationships Photo credit Kevin Decker 2010
Cherry Odelberg – I write about relationships Photo credit Kevin Decker 2010

“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”  Well now, that’s a laugh.  Of course words hurt me.  Oh, I know this saying means well.  It was made to encourage; meant to be used as a retort of confidence; to proclaim to the world, “I am not down yet. Up and take another. I’m letting the words roll off like water off a duck’s back.”

But, suppose, just suppose you know someone whose love language is words of affirmation; what then?  Words unsaid might hurt more than words of derision.   Day in, day out to be starved of love and be called upon to rise to the occasion and make bricks anyway – without straw.  Like a baby who is never comforted by touch, might not that soul shrivel up and die; blow away with a broken heart?

I am old, and have heard a few hurtful phrases in my day. Though they hurt, I am a wordsmith and can retaliate with craft. I can fight with words, parry and evade, even brandish the retort, “Sticks and stones…”  But words unsaid?  Those are an insidious phantom I can never best.

Writers deal in words, hug a writer, better yet, praise a well turned phrase.  Trust me on this, a writer will get more mileage than anyone else on a soupcon of affirmation or reward. 

Would you like your closure before or after death?

ProbingI have heard psychologists recommend it as important to get closure before the death of  a significant other; to confront the father who abandoned, the mother who neglected or the parent who exacted too violent a punishment, however just. I know healthy adults who had these conversations with aging parents with happy result. Sin was acknowledged, forgiveness was offered and accepted – sometimes even begged.

When death comes unexpectedly soon and we are left with question after question and no closure; what then?

Many years ago, when I was a fresh divorcée; raw from every attempt to keep a husband who wanted freedom, I heard a panel of young widows on Focus on the Family. They were discussing with Dr. Dobson the pain of their loss.  One said the most painful time was when she saw a man checking out at the store.  From behind, he looked like her husband.  She resisted the urge to run throw her arms about him and was devastated when he turned and the illusion was broken.

I knew something of that experience, and longed to give my response. Though the finality of divorce is a bit stickier than the finality of death; in a small town, the chances of actually meeting my estranged husband at the store were real. So too, the possibility of seeing him with another woman. Restraint was essential, denial useless.

Over time, I came to see that denial might have been faced with healthy result much earlier in the relationship. I endeavored to write a novel about it-to help others with my experience. That book and two others remain works in progress.

TTTD Ebook promoEnter psychologist turned author Bonnie Grove whose book “Talking to the Dead,” deals with similar issues of love and loss, appeasement and denial – and closure.  Only this is closure with the already dead.

What do you think?  What would you want? Is it better to unmask denial or betrayal and find closure with the living; or to discover, after death, those things you never wanted to know?