You Little Witch!

I heard my mother say this to my young niece when she refused to give my mom a kiss good night. In that moment I no longer felt crazy. My mom had just given me the greatest gift that she could give…validation of her demand to be loved.


Hearing my mom’s accusation to a child, other than me, that didn’t give her what she wanted assured me I wasn’t making “it” up. I hadn’t imagined that it was my job to please her or make her feel important. I saw second hand how she withdrew her love. If mom didn’t feel special, ain’t no one gonna feel special. I crafted a childhood career of getting what I needed by giving her what she wanted. My early training in the art of manipulation.


I wrote her wonderful mommy poems rhyming my way into her good graces. I decoupaged them to wooden plaques so she could hang them on the kitchen wall to remind herself of how well I played the game with her. I made her look good with my high grades, my get along attitude and involvement in all the right activities. I was who she wanted me to be…unless I wasn’t.


I had this other side of me that just couldn’t fly right. I argued on behalf of animal rights as my family went hunting. I refused to wear animal fur (so my mom told me the saleswoman had assured her it was fake fur encircling my hooded face. I soon caught on and had yet another reason to distrust her). I stood against the war in Vietnam to my Major in the Army dad and Commander in the Coast Guard uncle. I railed against their bigotry and knocked on the door of the only African American family living in my neighborhood to sell them Christmas cards. I developed healing rituals which I practiced in attempt to transform this family that made little sense to me. I was always fighting fights for the underdog.


In these moments, I was a little witch too.


It was no coincidence that one of my favorite books as a kid was, Little Witch, by Anna Elizabeth Bennett. I still have it on my bookshelf. Little Witch was different from her family. They didn’t understand her. They didn’t like her for the same reason. So she found ways to secure herself in her self, despite her lack of belonging to her own flesh and blood.


This story gave me hope as a youngster. I wasn’t alone. I identified with Little Witch feeling like the outcast. I understood her many attempts to fit in with her family, as well as, her refusal to give up on herself. Little Witch bolstered my courage to fly in the face of my family.


I went on to read many books about young witches. I came to identify with them. Still do. I assume, except for the wicked witch of the west-who, in the book Wicked, was simply misunderstood-witches are intelligent, thoughtful, insightful women that see life a bit differently than most. In fact the word ‘witch’ means wise woman, or did many moons ago.


In 2nd grade I won the Halloween costume contest wearing a mother made witch’s costume. It was great, complete with a big pointy hat donning strategically placed patches of plaid fabric. As the winner, I lead my class in the elementary school Halloween parade. I belonged. A fleeting state of being for me. Little did my mom know what paradox she created sewing me into that costume. She was too busy letting everyone know she made the costume.


When Jena was in middle school she and her friends decided to trick or treat as the Wizard of Oz characters. One guess who Jena wanted to be…I was so proud. My Little Witch. So I proceeded to make her a Wicked Witch of the West costume. It was great, complete with a witchy hat full of black tulle trailing down her back. I stayed up very late the night before she needed it to finish it. I was on a mission. I knew exactly what I was doing. I was passing the broom to my daughter.


I love witches. I resonant with their misunderstood-ness.


But what I admire most about witches?


Witches don’t kiss anyone they don’t want to kiss!


You Little Witch!

It’s Not Polite to Stare

Yesterday as I drove down a residential city street, a man in a white pick up truck pulled out of his parking place headed in my direction. I noticed that instead of looking out of his windshield, as is suggested and preferable, he was intently peering out of his passenger side window at something on the sidewalk. As a result of his wayward stare his oversized truck was headed down the middle of the street-straight toward me.


“What are you looking at?” I yelled as I looked to the sidewalk. The answer. A sweet young girl walking down the sidewalk in her summer skirt and t-shirt. “Really?” I impotently yelled through closed windows, “You are old enough to be her dad-first of all, you are going run into me or another parked car-second of all, and have a little respect-third of all.” (Is there a third of all?)


This morning on my way to work while I waited at a stop light, another man in a pick up truck-what is it with men and pick ups-had his head stuck out of his window to ogle a girl walking past. When he couldn’t twist his neck any further he used his rear view mirror to lock on. I began yelling again, this time hoping to catch his eye letting him know I saw him being a lech.

I get the attraction. I look at men and women too. I am attracted for many reasons. I think they are beautiful. I like their outfit. I don’t like their outfit. I like their dog. There are many reasons to look at one another.  But when guys are looking only at boobs and butts, as if the woman is on the side walk is there for their pleasure, it is time to teach them some manners. I wanted to slap their faces.


When my daughter, Jena, turned 21 we took her out to celebrate. My son’s fiance was singing at a local club so it was a perfect celebration. As we sipped our drinks, Jena her first legal one, I perused the room. My eyes caught a 50-60 something year old man, slight build, polyester suit, talking with many different women. I noticed when the woman turned her back his eyes went straight to her rear end. When she turned back toward him it was her boobs he zeroed in on. I felt a hot flash coming on.


Then, to my surprise, he was next to me and walked right up to Jena. He stood way too close to her and said, “Don’t you look sparkly tonight.”


I couldn’t help myself. My body moved into action before my brain was even consulted. I put my body between Jena and this lounge lizard. After his gaze left my breasts to meet my eyes, I squared off with him, “I am her mother. You need to back off!”


“Oh mama bear. I was just telling her she is sparkly,” he said, his reptilian tongue striking the air between us. “Back off,” I growled, puffing myself up to stand a good bit taller than him.


He walked away.


The kids were amazed, both that I intimidated him to leave and that what he did bothered me. Perhaps you have to be in your 50’s and menopausal (make my day) to be intolerant of one more man’s bad manners. Maybe you have to be a mom of a young woman to feel the fury that moved my body between them. Regardless, Jena gave me a hug and thanked me. She got’s impolite to stare. I had her back.



The story doesn’t end here…this creep circled back. He wound his way around the bar to where we stood. He stopped in front of my husband. “You have one uptight wife,” he pronounced.


Tom held his gaze, man to slime ball and like waving a fly away from your food said “Go away.”


He did.

Don’t Always Believe What You Think

We all do it. We make up stories. We conjure what others think of us, we invent what will happen if we speak up or take action, and we ruminate on what someone meant when they said, “that,” to us. The problem with all this is…almost always, 99.9% of the time, more often than not, the story we make up leaves us feeling like doggy poop! We tell ourselves the worst possible scenarios, with the most devastating endings. We heckle ourselves with, “They said that because they don’t like me, I am so weird, no one really cares anyway.” We conclude, “Something awful is about to happen (I will lose my job, be left, be rejected).” At the end of all this we feel very, very bad about ourselves.


Sound familiar?


Recently I made up the story that everything I said in my meditation class was really stupid. What every one else said was eloquent and enlightening. I didn’t stop there. I told myself that no one really cared what I had to say anyway. As I looked around the room I could read on my classmates faces that they agreed with me. “See,” I said to myself, “I am right, so just keep quiet. Don’t say another thing.”


I am what you may call a sophisticated self criticizer. I corroborate my story by interpreting the other persons non verbal cues-body language. “See they blinked, that means they are secretly rolling their eyes. They crossed their arms, everyone knows what that means. They cleared their throat…they sat down, they stood up, they scratched their nose.” I could go on and on. The beauty of this is it is one more way I tell myself my story is right. How I love to be right!


The truth, however, was I had no idea what my classmates were thinking about me. I just knew what I told myself they were thinking. Worse yet, I believed myself. I noticed what I told myself they were thinking sounded an awful lot like what I was saying about myself. “What a stupid thing to say, no one cares…” Hmmm. I see a pattern here.


I say nasty things to myself then tell myself some one else is saying it to me. Very clever, my dear Patricia. What a system. Too bad I lose…every single time.


My solution? If I am going to make up a story, make it a kind one. One that leaves me feeling loved and respected. Instead of assuming what I say is stupid, what if I assumed someone in the class liked what I said and that it had value to them?


In graduate school, my mentor, Ed Jacobs told me, “50% of the people are alway going to like you and 50% of the people are always not going to like you. Why not stand with the 50% that like you?” If I took his advise my stories, albeit still made up, would leave me wanting to hang out with myself.


I will no longer believe everything I think. Unless it is kind.



I am baby-sitting my friends dog, Ruby, this week. Ruby is a love. She is a rescued dog, (always the best), goes to University of Pittsburgh each Tuesday as a therapy dog (for homesick freshman) and she lost a front leg to cancer last year. As I write this she is on the couch with me (don’t tell Tom) snoring. I love reaching over to rest my hand on her.

My dog, Jeff, died unexpectedly, last October. Tom and I had gone to NJ for the weekend to visit my mom who was in the hospital. My son, Landon, watched Jeff. He called that Friday night concerned, “Mom what’s wrong with Jeff?” He explained Jeff had fallen down and peeed himself. I had no idea what was wrong, but figured I would take him to the vet on Monday. Saturday morning the phone rang. Continue Reading