Gotcha!

Don’t you love that moment when you know you’ve been taken for a ride but are not exactly sure how it happened? Or at least, don’t you love it when it happens to somebody else? My husband complains that I throw things out too often and too fast. According to him I’m a compulsive ‘binner’ (from the British word ‘bin’ meaning ‘garbage can’). The temptation was hard to resist when, one day, as we were both in the kitchen, he started slicing some cheese for his sandwich. I’m talking about hard-crusted, aged Gouda cheese. Four golden and luscious slices of expensive cheese, lying there, on the cutting board. He turned around to take his bagel out of the toaster oven. That was my window of opportunity. I moved fast and hid the cheese under a plastic container. He reached out to the counter to pick up the four slices, his plate in his right hand. I could tell that in his mind he was already enjoying the rich and sharp taste of the cheese. His private trip into dairy heaven came to an abrupt end when he noticed that his pieces had gone missing. There was nothing there; just a few crumbs, that was all.

“What happened to the slices I just cut?” he said.

“Those were slices? They looked like crust to me; I just threw them away”, I delivered with as straight a face as I could manage.

“No, tell me you didn’t; it’s just not possible. Geez, two seconds, I turn around for two seconds and they’re gone?” his voice was a pitch higher; his anger, tangible. He was mad. Really, really mad. It was no laughing matter: some extra sharp, delectable Gouda imported from Holland had found its way into our trash.

I met his eyes. It must have been the hint of a smile on my lips that gave me away. And there it was, good enough to eat: THE MOMENT! The split second of recognition in his eyes. He was starting to understand that I had just played a joke on him but he was still not quite sure what to make of it. After all, the slices of cheese were still missing. And re-appear they did, four pieces miraculously recovered by a devoted wife. I was dying with laughter and he was doing his best to try and remain upset. “Gotcha!”

What’s your special and funny moment? Make me laugh! 🙂

Copyright © Maryse G. Copans – January 2010

 

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CLUE-FULL

Board games come in all shapes and sizes. “The Game of Life” takes you on a make believe life journey: job, family, house, accidents, taxes, and even a mid-life crisis. The ultimate goal is to retire to Countryside Acres with loads of money and a light heart.  ‘Chess’ introduces the contrast between light and dark. The careful advance of pawns –each moving in its own unique way- to secure victory.  ‘Monopoly’ is all about amassing money and acquiring assets so as to ruin your fellow players. ‘Blokus’ tests your strategic skills one colored piece at a time.

 

Then there’s “Clue”. It‘s different. It does not involve money or taking your fellow humans down. It’s about the quiet search for “who did it?” You walk into Tudor Mansion and learn that your host, Mr. John Boddy has been murdered. Your task is to determine who the killer is, where he committed his crime, and with what weapon. And so you move from room to room, collecting clues and making suggestions…

 

Clue as the game of life. Sooner or later we all find ourselves in the big mansion of our unrealized dreams and silent yearnings. We live our lives avoiding the key questions, reading books in the Library, or whipping up plans in the Kitchen, until we come across the dead body. We have to face the fact: The Old Self has been killed. How? We never left the house. Who did it? With what weapon? Was it Ms. Boredom with her languid sighs? Or General Judgment with his violent strikes to the head? Mrs. Betrayal may have lost it and gone straight for the heart. Professor Loss with his quiet way could be the culprit. He’s patient but deadly. Or was it a conspiracy?

 

We start looking for clues; we investigate. We were cruising along nicely, going through the expected motions and following the rules. What happened? Why can’t our retirement be peaceful? Why is our king threatened with capture?  The mansion, once filled with life and laughter, becomes an empty shell where our sobs echo and our questions remain unanswered. We miss the Old Self; we want her back.  We look for her in the Study where she left a blank page on a frozen computer screen. We feel her in the Billiard Room where the game was interrupted, and in the Conservatory where the plants look sad and wilted.

 

That’s when it happens. Whether it’s the luck of the draw or divine intervention is irrelevant. We see it. There’s a door hidden behind the bronze statue of a knight. We get closer and push it open. It’s a secret passage. We walk the long dark corridor, our steps keeping steady with the beating of our hearts. We come out in the Lounge. We know the room well: the green couches haven’t moved and the piano remains silent. But the lights are on and a new piece of music, one we’ve never played before, lies open on the coffee table. We run to the Hall to check the front door locks and notice that the dust on the old photographs is gone. There’s a new frame with a picture of ourselves we do not remember being taken. We hear noise in the Dining Room. We rush inside. A surprising scene welcomes us: new guests have arrived and are enjoying themselves. Mr. Enthusiasm is using the Knife to cut the celebratory cake; Mrs. Acceptance is untying the Rope that held Miss Perseverance captive. And Dr. Patience is moving the Candlestick so as to light Ms. Hope’s beautiful face. We’re shocked. Is this the same house? Where’s the dead body? The murderer? We hear music coming from the Ballroom. There we’re invited to join in a new dance, encouraged to partake in a never ending game in which strategy and chance are replaced by intuition and faith. We walk in and timidly embrace the woman we are becoming. Slowly, we start swaying to the tune of Life, in step with our New Unique Self.

Périple

J’avais perdu ma carte d’identité.

Je n’étais qu’une mouche dans le vent,

une idée qui flotte,

une petite fille abandonnée.

 

Trop de cachets dans mon passeport.

Des valises closes et anonymes.

Sanglots muets en forme d’adieux :

une rêveuse découragée.

 

De corridor en couloir,

de silence en chagrin,

les paysages se transforment.

Une voyageuse en transit.

 

Avions, trains, tunnels.

Voyages en dedans.

Départs retardés ; accident.

Un corps meurtri qui renait doucement.

 

Un ticket supplémentaire m’entraine

dans un périple nécessaire.

Phrases nées d’idées ; images sur papier.

Une artiste émerveillée.

 

Mon visa de passage est périmé.

Je choisis de m’installer.

Le vent dans les ailes :

une exploratrice retrouvée.

 

Mon cœur adopte sa deuxième nationalité.

Clavier qwerty amadoué :

les mots annoncent le port d’attache.

Une femme réconciliée.

Words

I wrote this in the fall of 2007 when I first discovered that I could play with words in English, my second language. I’ve been following the dream. Please do not let go of your own.

Words are obscuring my vision;

they’re screaming for attention.

Words of advice, of comfort, of love;

tales of sadness, of pain, of doubt.

 

Who am I to claim the power 

to create, to charm, to conjure,

feelings of wonder, of grace, of bliss;

tears of chagrin, of loss or distress?

 

 Words are flowing from nowhere. 

They obviously don’t want to care

that I’m new to the language of the heart.

On paper, it’s a brand new start.

 

 “Trust”, they implore,” listen to your dreams.

They are true even when it seems

that the road is too long and hazardous.

It’s an illusion. This is your purpose.

 

 So grab the pen and inspiration will flow.

It can strike any time. You just don’t know.

Be ready and let the writing be written,

Accept the gift; the rest of your life’s begun.”

 

 Copyright © Maryse G Copans – January 2010

 

Somewhere Between December and February

My thanks to Patty at www.whynotstartnow.wordpress.com for providing the first link in my chain of thoughts…

The entrance hall is the first place our guests see when they step into our house. As they remove their jackets, drop them on the bench, and proceed to the living room, I often wonder how much of the space they take in; what impression, if any, our green walls, high ceiling and skylight make on our visitors. When I first saw what is now our family home, the brightness lured me in. The house was talking to me: “These are happy walls. Come and join me. I’ll be yours.” I could have set camp right there and then. It felt warm and secure.

Hallways come in various lengths and degrees of brightness. Old mansions’ foyers, though dark and drafty, are filled with paintings that tell their past and present stories. European monasteries are built around their cloister, a covered walk that lets in the light and fresh air and where nuns or monks could hear God’s wind sing through the open colonnade. Modern schools have long corridors where students are to sit when they get too chatty or distracted to remain in the classroom. But when the bell rings the whole place fills up with chatter and bursts out with activity: papers on the floor and forgotten backpacks. Transition to the next class or packing up and leaving for the day. Hallways are part of life whether tamed or rambunctious. 

January is a month of transition. The door has closed on December with its romantic snow and festive lights and has not quite opened on February with its chilly promise of spring drowning in chocolate hearts and multicolored tulips. Trapped between the joy of Christmas and the prospect of warmer days I’ve been falling into the familiar doldrums of my birthday month. I’ve turned the first weeks of the year into a dark and scary passage instead of converting them into a bright room where I can take off my shoes, look at the pictures on the console, and dream of what is to come. I’ve forgotten that it is a space that vibrates with memories, quiet hopes, and resounding trust.

What we take in from a transition is entirely up to us. We can choose to sit on the floor like scolded students or we can pause and listen to God’s voice floating in the air. We can grab our bags and run for cover or we can laugh our way to milder weather. January is the hallway of the year. Step inside. These are nurturing walls and they’re yours.

Copyright © Maryse G. Copans – January 2010

 

The Way Home

Following the childhood trails (see Bonnie’s and Cathy’s posts at www.windshieldthinking.wordpress.com and www.trufflesandtea.wordpress.com), I’ve been gathering flowers and humming old nursery rhymes…

Five little piggies. The first one went to market and looked at the stalls, smelling cheeses and breads, touching fruit, or buying flowers. The second was in no mood to venture outside and stayed home with a good book and a glass of orange juice. The third piggy loved meat and swallowed a juicy chunk of roast beef while the fourth, a vegetarian, would have none of that: he ate a light salad instead. The last little piggy, tired of gallivanting in the meadow, ran all the way back home yelling “wee, wee, wee”, so happy was he to know that food and warmth awaited inside the familiar walls.

One big bad wolf. He yearned to break the pigs’ front door open and to bring his huge body and appetite into their kitchen. He had good luck with the stack of hay and the pile of sticks. Fond memories. Breaking through bricks proved much harder and landing in a pot of boiling water was not exactly his idea of fun. The tune those darn pigs sang while he ran for safety drove him mad: ‘Who’s afraid of the Big Bad Wolf’? Not the piggies; not anymore. What about us? As we go about our days, between market and home, do we feel secure in our steps or do we fear what’s going to come down the chimney?

A flower. One of my Twitter buddies is a talented photographer whose posts of a gorgeous red amaryllis are respectively titled “Red Riding Hood” and “Red Riding Crown”. The flower graduates from little girl lost in the woods to queen status. How? She blooms. Her bright petals open up to take in the light. She grows taller and declares -through her bold color and delicate shape-what she stands for: dazzling and tender beauty.

One’s journey. I’d rather be compared to a royal flower than to a bunch of pink fleshed mammals, yet I’m willing to delve into the wisdom of those seemingly silly childhood rhymes. We each harbor different desires and follow different paths.  We venture away from home and cross life’s many bridges. As we travel even further from our native pastures, unknown shadows creep up and scare us: we’re afraid of getting hurt; of hurting others; of failure; of success; of loving too much or too little. We’re afraid to die. We stall or push ahead all the while yearning for a safe place to catch our breath and recharge. We want to go home.

All the way there. Home can be a house or a bench in the park; the embrace of a dear friend or a lover’s kiss. It comforts and soothes for a while but does not fill the secret places inside that dream of lasting quiet and joy. That inner home is shaped in our hearts as we tend to the soft voice that murmurs of what we truly love, of what we truly want. It is built one spiritual brick at a time as we dare have faith and move forward.  When the whispers grow into a song that will not be silenced, we are called to turn to the light and, like the proud amaryllis, we find the strength to become all that we were born to be. We blossom and bare our unique and vibrant colors. We’re not afraid to live anymore. We’ve found our way home.

For a picture of Queen Amaryllis, go to www.capturethesoul.wordpress.com and scroll down.

Copyright © Maryse G. Copans – January 2010

 

The Third Question

The first question took me to the kitchen where I made sticky buns and bathed in the aroma of cinnamon (see “Cinnamon Rolls” on this blog); the second led me to cupcake pops and the art of having fun (“To Lick or not to Lick?”). I’m ready to take my chances with the third:  “Do you always feel inclined to write uplifting?” asks my friend Bonnie (windshieldthinking.wordpress.com). “Sometimes I enjoy the mire”, she adds, “getting dirty and then coming clean.” It’s tempting: I’ve written about the frightful nights of my childhood when my dad spanked me for waking the family up; about my mother’s fall into depression and dementia after his death; about the head injury that’s left me with balancing issues and PTSD; about my niece’s untimely passing. Why not publish and show the world how resentment, anger, and pain muster forgiveness, acceptance, and joy? Why not join the band of voices that comfort the world with their tales of trials and struggles?

Author Gretchen Rubin’s new book “The Happiness Project” was released a week ago. She decided while riding a bus that she could be a happier person and she set out to research how it could be done. She then did what is done these days: she blogged about it (happiness-project.com) and got published in print. As she practiced what she learned, she uncovered “Four Splendid Truths”. The second is my personal favorite: “One of the best ways to make yourself happy is to make other people happy; one of the best ways to make other people happy is to be happy yourself.” Her fans enthusiastically agree: the book is currently number 6 on Amazon bestsellers’ list. Happiness projects are the hip New Year’s resolution.

As a wife and mother I know all there is to know about making others happy. Making myself happy is a work in progress but the one thing I know for sure is that revisiting the rainy days of my life only serves to keep me stranded in the darkness and is no recipe for happiness. Choosing to focus on what makes me come alive, on the other hand, fills me with warmth and excitement. When I breathe from that place –balmy and bright, like a day at the beach- my friends and family take notice and feel happier too. I call it “The Happiness Effect”.

The word ‘effect’ is defined as ‘the power to produce results’. (dictionary.com).This power comes from within and is activated by steeping goodness not by brewing mud. The much anticipated result is this: instead of simply enduring life’s many upheavals we slowly get the hang of dancing through the storm. Clouds are the signal to grab our shoes –equipped with non-slip ‘in-soul’. Rising winds tell us to start swinging to the rhythm of our happy memories. Lightning lights our path and thunder keeps the beat. When the hail comes, even though we’re drenched and cold, we manage to skip to the exciting part: we’re not alone. The maelstrom is attracting attention. As we take onlookers by the hand and spin in unison, they join the party and bring their friends. Once the storm passes we sit and bathe in the sun. We savor. We dream. We celebrate.

Yes, I always feel inclined to write uplifting. Because I believe in the mighty strength of optimism and hope. Because dancing through life is a lot more fun than drowning in quicksand. Because being happy makes me happy, which makes others happy, which keeps me happy!

Copyright – January 5, 2010

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