I’m Quirky. How about you?

EA-59When my life coach Jan Rose Distel asked me to list ten ways in which I’m quirky, my first thought was, “Who, me? I’m as normal as boring dry toast.” But after a few moments of reflection, I realized that I could rattle off a list as quickly as I could twirl my pinky finger ring for good luck.

What about you? Are you quirky, too? Think about that as you read my list.

1. I talk to dead people. All the time. I’ve always felt, rather than seen, that they are around me. I have no problem with that. So far, they’ve been friendly. When I was a child I had a friend named Karene. My mom called her my imaginary friend but I knew that was ridiculous. Karene was right there. When my little sister was born and mom named her Karene, I liked that little baby okay but I knew she wasn’t really Karene.

2.  I channel stories from dead spirits. I know, so far this all sounds weird. When my psychic friend wanted to hypnotize me to do a past life regression, I thought that was weird and that it would never work with me. I told her I’m too strong a personality to be hypnotized. Never mind, a few minutes later I was out and telling amazing stories from dead women. The psychic thinks those were my past lives; I think other women, maybe my ancestors, were sharing their stories with me. Those stories are the crux of my ancestry quest novel Becoming Jessie Belle.

3. I do indeed twirl my pinky finger ring for good luck. I’m very superstitious about this. If I were to leave the house and forget the ring, I’d be afraid of having a bad day. I’d even go back for it; it’s that important to me.

4. I’m a Coca-Cola addict. I mean, like a drug addict on crack. I used to have a favorite saying when things went haywire: “I just need a Coke!” A nice, cold, glass bottle – not can or plastic as I was a purist connoisseur – always did the trick and made me feel better no matter what. A year and a half ago I gave it up cold turkey because soda really isn’t good for us. Do I miss it? You bet. When I see a Coke ad or see someone drinking one, my mouth salivates for the taste. I consider it one of my biggest accomplishments to have given it up.

5. I get style advise from my dog. I let my Sheltie LuLu help me pick out what to wear. When I can’t decide what to wear, I hold out two choices. Whichever one my dog noses first gets worn. So far, no one has ever appeared to be appalled at my appearance. And LuLu seems pleased with her choices.

6. I’m claustrophobic. I don’t do enclosed small spaces like elevators, MRIs, or small planes. But remote old cemeteries in the dark of night don’t bother me at all. Go figure.

7.  I’m a rabid Zorro fan. Old, modern, film, television, book, or comic book – it doesn’t matter. I have a Zorro collection, including my own movie replica sword. I fell in love with the “Fox” when I was a child and thought I’d grow up to be Lolita Quintero. (The dark-eyed, dark-haired, beautiful heroine.) I wore a  Spanish comb with an old curtain on my head for a mantilla veil. I didn’t exactly grow up to look like Lolita – not even close – but the story’s message about striving for social justice stuck and will be with me always.

8. I’m a Gemini with a genuine dual personality. I want to be everywhere all the time but don’t want to leave home. Let me explain: Wanderlust hit early and led me to a career where I traveled the world. I felt like a child of the universe, feeling comfortable just about anywhere, and loved my homes away from home. There is definitely a gypsy in my soul. But at the same time I love nesting, and want to be in my cozy house with my husband and pets. I want it all.

9. I have a favorite shirt. It’s so old the fabric is about to disintegrate. But I can’t give it up. It’s my shirt. It’s a blue New Orleans House of Blues twill that was given to me by a bartender at church one Sunday in 1996. I’m not kidding! The House of Blues rented a church in downtown Atlanta during the Olympics. A typical bar with live music at night, it held a gospel brunch church service on Sunday morning. The bar was open. When I commented to the bartender on her cool shirt, she took it off and handed it to me. Literally, the shirt off her back. I’ve treasured it ever since.

10.  I’m phobic about germs. Usually. I use hand sanitizer like water. I wipe down my computer, phone, and iPad with antibacterial wipes. I do the same with the kitchen counters, then wash them with soap and water to get rid of chemicals. I use my own pen when signing a credit card receipt. I use toilet paper to cover the handle when I flush the toilet in a public place. In a hotel I use my wipes everywhere and barely touch the comforter as I pull it off the bed so other people’s germs don’t get on me. But when I’m working out at my health club I can tolerate any amount of sweat, dirt, and even rap music. Totally unlike me. Must be my Gemini personality at work again.

Okay, fess up. How are you quirky? Anything like this, or do you have weirdness all your own? Think you’re not quirky? Think again.

Comments are welcome.

Strike a Balance

Balance-640x360Every time I read the phrase “life balance” I’m amazed that it even still exists. The first “Life Balance” seminars I conducted were thirty-five years ago. It was a hot topic in the late ’70s and early ’80s with books like You Can Heal Your Life and The Feminine Mystique being big hits. My own book from 1983, The Saga of a Superwoman, about not trying to be all things to all people all of the time was bought by corporations in bulks of hundreds to give to their female employees.

So way back then I assumed that by now everyone would be so informed we’d all be as good as Olympic gymnasts on the balance beam of life.

Me, too.

But the endless popularity of the topic is evidence to the contrary. That evidence is all around us with frantic parents, droopy-eyed commuters, and store clerks who can’t stop texting. Do you see yourself in any of those? Too many people are mired in what writer Nancy Forbes calls “the cult of busy-ness.”

I used to spend an entire day in my seminars doling out advice about how to streamline our days and find that elusive life balance. I’ve since decided that it isn’t all that hard.

There are some obvious tips, like start saying “no” to your kids every time they ask for one more activity to join. Sometimes teaching them that they, too, shouldn’t get caught up in busy-ness is the best parenting you can do.

Apart from that most obvious tip, there are three things that you can easily do to begin tuning down your lifestyle. The first are free and the last will cost a nickel or two, but is well worth it.

Firstly, take a walk. Yup. That’s it. Get out of your house, apartment, office, gym, classroom, shop, car, bar…. and walk somewhere. Look at what’s around you. Touch a tree or two. (Hugging not required, but feel free if so inspired.) If you’re in the city, look at the people on the street. The key is not only to get your body moving but to get your mind moving, too, away from the ordinary. Let yourself take in nature, clouds, people, animals, and uncirculated air. As corny as it sounds, reconnect with nature.

Secondly, read a good book. Let your mind escape to new places and your thoughts encompass new personalities. Use your imagination. Get lost in the book. Leave your life behind. You don’t need to buy books or own a Kindle or even search too hard. Just go to your local library and ask for recommendations.

Thirdly, try yoga, if you don’t do it already. If you do, make sure you let yourself leave your daily schedule, mental reminders, family harassments, work woes, and everything else on the other side of the door. Let your yoga mat be your place of peace, your escape from the rest of the world. This is a place and time just for you, just for renewing your soul. Remember your soul? It’s that part of you that so easily gets lost in the chaos of daily life. Get it back on the mat.

Don’t worry if you think you can’t do yoga. I’ve done it for years and am still quite  clumsy at it. I don’t care. I love it. My instructor, Sue, is marvelous at doing a basic pose and then saying we can stay there or go to the more advanced version that she demonstrates. Ha. I usually “stay.” At age sixty-six, the stretches feel fantastic and smooth out this body after other workouts during the week and far to many hours sitting at a computer. Go ahead; give it a shot. If I can do it, you can, too.

Best of all is that I have to focus so hard to do the poses that there isn’t one moment to worry, fret, or bitch in my head about anything. For one hour my entire existence is focused on not falling over. It’s a great metaphor for life.

Strike a balance of your own. Do whatever it takes to stay out of the morass of busy-ness that consumes so many. Take a walk, read a good book, and try yoga. Let your mind and body belong to you, not the rest of the world.