Category Archives: Words for the wise

Stuff I’ve learned based on years of living.

What is a Frenemy?

Apparently, we need to add the word “frenemy” to our ever-increasing modern dictionary. It describes a number of situations — someone who is a friend but also a rival. Someone who you hang out with but you don’t really like. Someone who you like to be around in some situations, but not in others (i.e. I like her when it’s just us girls but not when we’re around guys.)

When I was a kid, I remember my Mom saying “With friends like these, who needs enemies.” It’s an old English proverb that essentially applies when friends act like enemies. I guess today those friends would be frenemies.

I really don’t need any frenemy in my life. If I have a friend who treats me badly, well, I don’t have any friends who treat me badly because I don’t hang out with people who treat me badly.

On occasion I will realize that I have not been a good friend to a friend. When it hits me, my heart hurts. Maybe it’s not returning a phone call or not doing something I said I would do. I always try to make amends because good friends should be treasured.

I guess, technically, I’ve had some frenemies in my life, when I was younger, but not any more. I like to keep my energies focused on good things. And if I had a frenemy, I’d want to know what the problem was and try to fix it.

I just saw the movie “Something Borrowed.” It’s being described as a movie about frenemies. I’d say it’s more like “With friends like these, who needs enemies.”

Mother’s Day reflections

Mother’s Day made me think about my Mom. But missing her is something I do everyday. Most of the time, it’s not that bad, just wishing I could talk to her or share something funny with her, or ask her how to do something simple like get a stain out of a shirt or sewing advice or just to chat about the Royal Wedding. 

Sometimes, though, in a random moment, I will miss my mom so badly that my eyes burn and fill with tears, my stomach churns and I feel a momentary wave of physical pain. There’s usually a trigger that causes this emotion — a song, a flower blooming, a memory that pushes itself to the front of my brain. In these moments, I have to take a deep breath and squelch it, hold my breath, look away.  Most of the time I can wave it off. Sometimes I can’t, and there I am trying to maintain composure as tears streak down my cheeks. Thank God for sunglasses. Sometimes I can quickly fumble for them and get them on my face before anyone notices.

It’s been almost two years since she died and I still find myself with the nano-second thought, “I need to call Mom.” And then it hits me that she really did die.

But each day that passes I am better. I realize the wonderful things she taught me and how valuable those lessons are to me. While I will never have the talent she had for painting, sculpting, sewing and luring plants to grow, I do have at least a thimble full of her wisdom, and I can emulate her love and pass it on. Through her love and incredible energies, I am able to love my husband and our daughters with every ounce of my soul.

A few weeks ago, a neighbor who is a young mom of three children, showed me the new addition on their house. “Don’t mind the furniture and how everything is arranged,” she said. “My Mom is coming in a few weeks, and once she’s here she will show me how to arrange everything and get everything in the right place.”

Thankfully I had my sunglasses on my head, so I could quickly pull them over my eyes to squelch the tears. I remember when I relied on my mom for the same thing — to come into my house and perform the “Mom’s touch” thing she was so good at doing. Sometimes she’d just change how the pillows on the couch were arranged or re-do the mantle or re-pot my plants. She made drapes for my bedroom, helped me redo the kids’ rooms and showed me how “free-styling” worked. She would always say, “Now if you don’t like this, you can change it back when I leave.” Rarely did I change a thing. Her ability to make something out of nothing, to change the look and feel of a room, were amazing to me.

Late on the Sunday afternoon of Mother’s Day, after Oldest Daughter had left for Dallas, Sweet Husband and I took a long walk. As we were crossing the bridge over the dry creek and about to take on the hill up to our house, we ran into the young mom and her mom. The young mom was pushing her daughther in a stroller. The Mom was walking beside her grandson. 

We had met her before, and so as we chatted, I asked, “So did you help your daughter get the new family room all arranged?” She smiled. “It’s such a beautiful room.”

I then recounted how her daughter had told me how anxious she was for her Mom to come and work her magic on the room. I could see how much she enjoyed hearing this and knowing how much her daughter valued her traveling several hours to help her with her house.

When my mom would come work her magic inside my house, I would watch and learn. I studied her as she sewed and I learned so much about this now lost art. She taught me how some things are just trial and error. You do it wrong, you rip out the seam, then you sew it again right. She bought me my first hot glue gun, back when no one had a hot glue gun. I still have it. Is there such a thing as an antique hot glue gun?

There were many things Mom tried to teach me that just didn’t stick. Like folding fitted sheets. Mom could fold them like they had just come out of the package.

But Mom did teach me about hot to make a home more homey. I learned to sew and made my daughters award-winning Halloween costumes. And Mom would be so proud of me, even though I knew that my sewing abilities didn’t hold a candle to hers. She was proud that I had learned from her and that we had these things in common.

I guess what I miss most about Mom is how she made me feel, how she made a room feel, how she made our family feel. She had so much love and she gave it so well. I will spend the rest of my days aspiring to do that.

There’s an old saying: A mother holds her children’s hands for a while, their hearts forever. That about sums it up for me.

Simple pleasures are the best

One of my favorite sayings is this: “Simple pleasures are the best.” I mean really, that’s a great statement. So I’m thinking, where did that saying come from? I’ve heard it all my life. It actually came from a commercial I used to watch when I was a kid.

At first I thought it was from a Folgers coffee commercial. But that jingle is “The best part of waking up, is Folgers in your cup…”

So now I’m thinking, was it a Cheerios commercial? No that was “Feeling Groovy.”

So I was forced to Google it. The commercial was Van Camps Pork and Beans. Does anyone even eat Pork and Beans anymore? I used to hate them because there was that little white piece of fat (apparently the pork) floating around, and I was scared to death it would wind up in my mouth and I might gag. The only time I ever buy Pork and Beans is when I make baked beans. The first thing I do is fish out all the little white pieces of fat, then add the brown sugar, ketchup, mustard and worcestershire
sauce, etc.

Okay so I’m off subject. Back to “Simple pleasures are the best.” According to my Google search, the jingle went like this:

Simple pleasures are the best,
All the little things that make you smile and glow,
All the things you know,
Life’s simple pleasures are the best,
Are the best,
In all the world.

And, so you know the tune, here’s the actual commercial from the early 1970s:

Now all that said, aren’t simple pleasures the best? A hand squeeze from your husband in church, an “I Love You” mouthed from your daughter as she’s pulling out of the driveway on her way back to college, a tail wagging dance from your dog as you walk in the door, the smell of a baby, a sip of cold Coca-Cola from a real coke bottle?

What are your simple pleasures?