Exposed…

I’ve had some incarnation of the bob hairstyle for most of my adult life.  I’ve grown it out to a longer shoulder length, but then I just end up cutting it back to some form of a bob.  There was one,time, when I was a young mother in the 90’s, that I went really short because I was a big fan of Country Singer, Martina McBride.  We are the same age (6 months apart) and our first babies were born within days of each other.  I also thought (and still do) that she is drop dead gorgeous!  I was hoping a little bit of her gorgeousness would rub off on me through wishful thinking and getting a cut similar to hers at the time.  Here is the inspiration:

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Here I am, not quite reaching Martina’s realm of beauty, but a short cut was certainly the way to go when I had 2 young children practically back to back!

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Well, now many years later, I’m having a go with short hair again.  Who knows?  I may decide to keep some incarnation of the Pixie cut for a while.  I usually like my hair best 2 weeks after it has been initially cut.

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Not sure if it was the most practical thing to do right before it gets cooler here in Austin, TX, but one thing is for certain, I will always love tweaking my hair, whether it be color or cut.  It’s one of the great things about being female…we have so many ways to reinvent ourselves!

Finally Finished!

I started this dress project in August as part of a dress making course at The Stitch Lab in downtown Austin and didn’t finished it until well after my course had ended.  I felt totally defeated because I felt there was no way I could finish the collar and do the button holes and buttons without some serious hand holding.  The dress sat in my sewing room for a couple of weeks until I felt I could face it.  I decided that instead of button holes and buttons, I would put some pearl snaps on it since I felt I could accomplish that with some you tube help and I think it turned out quite well.  Not perfect, mind you, but acceptable enough that I have worn it out on a few occasions.

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I haven’t decided if I’m going to continue the journey in learning how to sew.  It’s very hard for me.  You see, I’m not good at following written directions or have the patience for it. It is also very time consuming.  It’s really just easier to buy something, but that defeats the original purpose in me wanting to learn to sew…to not cater to unethical fast fashion.  I must admit that it is very gratifying when a project works out, but oh….the agony of defeat!!!!!.  It’s also kind of cool wearing an item that no one else has, so there is that.  Maybe my reasons for not wanting to continue are absolutely the reasons I should stubbornly soldier on and keep trying.  Time will tell…

Middle-Aged Angst

So what is a person who has, as Bill Clinton put it so eloquently in his speech at the Democratic National Convention, “has more yesterdays than tomorrows”, to do with the rest of their time on this earth?  It’s a question I’ve been wrestling with since my mother passed. My mother was someone who enjoyed life’s simple pleasures, but it isn’t that way with everyone.  What will bring happiness?  What will keep me relevant in a culture that does not appreciate its’ seniors?  I watch people, and the human condition is of great interest to me.  Maybe it’s because of my early theatrical training…I don’t know, but I have been watching the middle-aged and seniors with great interest to evaluate what to do and what not to do.   Here are a few things that I’ve done recently (for better or for worse):

  1.  Got a tattoo!!!!!!!  Yes, I know, this is a very cliché thing to do, but I didn’t do it just to do it.  The standard tattoo isn’t my personal style.

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No, I headed down to True Blue Tattoos in downtown Austin with art work that is classy and not trashy…at least in my mind.  It was a picture that is very symbolic in many ways and is just, well…me.

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I went in armed with my copy of Lewis Carroll’s “Alice in Wonderland” and “Through the Looking Glass”.  I love these books because of the silliness and absurdity.  Very much like life to me.  Much like Alice, I find myself trying to make sense of a world that I am existing in for the time being, but find it hard sometimes to understand.

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(I will be adding some of the critters at a latter date!)

The above quote resonates with me as I tried to find a reason to stay a member of the LDS (Mormon) church and also to find a shred of tangible proof that any of the doctrine is true.  Ultimately, I could not.  Joseph Smith was not a chosen prophet of god.  What he was, was a polygamist who also practiced polyandry.  All of the others that came after him are not god’s chosen and inspired.  They are just men.  Nothing more.  Like for Alice, a clear-sighted realization came.IMG_3549IMG_3553 (1)IMG_3559 (2)

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I did have an active LDS church member comment on my tattoo, saying that I was defiling the temple that god had given me.  This came from a person who weighs about 300 pounds and didn’t get that way by eating healthy or exercising, which by the way, I do.  Who is defiling their temple?  The woman who eats crap and doesn’t move the body she was given or me?  I do view my body as a temple and am grateful enough for it to take care of it.  My tattoo is just a pretty piece of artwork that I chose to hang on mine.

2.  Well, the next thing I did was also a cliche…I got a new car!  I know that lots of people get the “mid-life crisis” sports car, but I was content to get a little car that wasn’t a mini-van or SUV!  I’ve come to a point in my life where I don’t have to transport any more than 1 or 2 passengers at a time or need extra seats to seperate fighting kids.

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I’ve always wanted a Subaru (don’t ask me why) and have had a blast driving this little zippy Impreza!

3.  I picked up a new hobby.  I started learning how to sew this past March.  The whole process has been gratifying and infuriating at the same time.  It’s a skill that will take YEARS to become proficient in and I’m afraid I won’t live long enough to get to where I want to be!  I know, I know…it’s about the journey!

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In recent weeks, I’ve seen examples of how I don’t want to age.  We all know the saying that comes with ageing “being stuck in your ways”.  I think as we get older, it is key that we don’t.  I’ve seen that with many seniors, they get stuck in a period of time mentally when they have felt in their prime.  They become stuck in their opinions, the way they dress…I know you get the picture.  Many of us will unwittingly come to a point in our lives where we stop experiencing, stop growing, stop learning and therefore remain stagnant for the rest of our lives.  We shrivel mentally and physically, becoming a burden to loved ones, but I’m certain that it doesn’t have to be that way.  I believe that, genetics aside, how we age is directly affected by the choices we make.  We have the power to feed and move our bodies now, so that we stay strong for our so-called “golden years”, but we also have to embrace the future and not hold on to the past or “the good old days” with dug in heels as many seniors do, in order to continue to grow, to experience new things, and be open to new ideas.

One of my biggest fears is that once my kids have families and lives of their own, that they will dread having Jim and I visit because we are old fuddy duddys who can’t stop talking about the old days and are negative about everything and only talk about how our bodies are falling apart!  I want them to look forward to our visits!  I want to be able to relate to their world… the current world and be optimistic about the future.  I don’t know…maybe the latter is a pipe dream.

What do you think?  Getting older is inevitable, but we can remain youthful in spirit, don’t you think?  How do you plan to “live” and not just “exist”?  What are you doing or planning to do for your golden years to keep your presence on this planet relevant?  Oh, and in case you are wondering…the above will not be my only tattoo (wink, wink)!

Practice Makes Perfect?

A few months ago, I watched a documentary about the “fast fashion” industry called “The True Cost” and also read a book on the same subject called “Cheaply Overdressed”.  What I learned quickly became a “light bulb” moment in my life.  I’ve worked retail for many years, and you know…ignorance is bliss.  Until it isn’t.  In March of this year with the help of a friend, Hilde Westenhaver (domestic goddess), I started my first tentative steps in learning how to sew.  Jim got me a sewing machine for my birthday and I sold a bunch of clothing I wasn’t wearing to use the money to buy supplies for my new endeavor.  Hilde got me started with the making of a pair of shorts (a la Madewell style!) and I have been taking classes at “The Stitch Lab” in downtown Austin.

So far, I have taken a Beginner’s Crash Course and made a tote bag (successful), a “Know Your Knits Class and made a skirt (unsuccessful…I’ve since learned that knits need a serger.  I purchased one.), a “Zipper Class” (semi-successful), a “Garment Series” (semi-successful…I chose a dress pattern and learned that sleeves are hard), and a “Pattern Picks” series where you pick a pattern from about 10 choices.  Here was mine:

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This is the “Washi Dress”, made by Rae sewing pattern.  The fabric is a linen-cotton blend (my favorite in the Texas summers!).  I also used a cotton batiste to line the bodice with.

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Finished product.  Success!!

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I learned a new technique called “shirring”.  It’s funny…I had no idea how this was done.  It just so happens that this is achieved by the use of elastic thread.  Who knew there was such a thing!  Not I!  But here you go…Magic!

I loved how this dress turned out, so I quickly set out to make another while the techniques were still fresh in my mind.

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The second dress has a different neckline and is sleeveless because I hate doing sleeves right now and because sleeveless clothing shows off my favorite fashion accessory right now…my new tattoo (more on that in another post)!

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Now, neither dress is perfect.  I have yet to complete a “perfect” project.  This is sometimes a hard pill for me to swallow because I’m a perfectionist in many ways.  I’m not naturally a patient person.  I want what I want yesterday.  Becoming a parent helped me learn to be more patient, and like parenthood, sewing has taught me to be more patient by humbling me.  I knew when I started that learning how to sew was not going to be easy for me.  I don’t possess the mechanical brain to construct or make things.  I know how to style clothing.  I know what to look for to spot couture clothing.  But before this spring, I had no idea what went into making an item of clothing.

Throughout my life, I’ve tended to not participate or try things that I knew I wouldn’t be good at.  I tend to stay in my comfort zone and do the things I know I will be successful in. I’m painfully aware of my limits and shortcomings.  That is exactly why I’m determined to continue to learn how to sew.  I naturally get impatient because I think my progress is too slow or I get angry when I don’t pick up a skill right away (hello zippers and sleeves!  I’m talking to you!!!), but that is when I have to shut a part of my brain off and let another part take over.  Rome wasn’t built in a day and I will probably not become a couture skilled sewist in my life time, but I will continue to try.  I don’t have many regrets at this point in my life, but I do regret not learning to sew earlier in my life, especially when I had a grandmother and mother who did sew.  When I was younger, I would watch them sew and complete projects and think there was no way I could ever learn, so I never tried.  Shame on me.   I’m determined to redeem myself.

So, I will remain optimistic.  This is what I bought at Half Price Books today:

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And I signed up for another “Garment Picks” class at “The Stitch Lab”.  I’m picking a more difficult pattern this time:

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The only question is which view to pick!  I’m kind of leaning towards View B because it has front pockets, gathered skirt, AND buttons!  I haven’t done anything with buttons, so here we go…

My Last Born

Sixteen years ago, on July 26, 2000, Colin Michael Busick, was born and completed our little family.

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My second little ginger came swiftly and easily and has never given us one bit of trouble since he arrived.  Easy to laugh, even-tempered, and always a smile on his face, he was the dream child for a young mother with two other young children.

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Colin has always had an active imagination and used it when he transformed himself into a Bionicle:

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Or participated in the dance classes I taught:

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It was only natural that he would latch on to gaming and music.

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It is so bittersweet when your youngest starts school.  Colin was my constant companion until he started kindergarten, so the only thing I could do was to keep busy when he started school.  I started teaching group fitness classes at L.A. Fitness to distract me.

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When Colin was 8, the music frenzy started.  He started with piano first, and then clarinet once he got to middle school.

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We were so lucky to be in Leander ISD with it’s awesome music and arts programs!

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And as it always happens, time flew by and before we knew it, Colin was a Timberwolf!

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(First Uniform Fitting)

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(Hot Summer Practice On the Blacktop)

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(First Show Freshman Year:  “For Whom The Bell Tolls

And the Award Winning Sophomore Year: “What’s Opera Doc?”

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It was a wonderful thing to watch this outstanding band win the Texas State 5A Championship!!

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Our Gold Medalist!!!!!

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The award winning performance!

Summer band practice starts tomorrow and this is going to be an exciting season, as the band is gearing up to go to the granddaddy of all band competitions…The Grand Nationals in Indianapolis!!!  Can’t wait to see them “bring it”!

It should be noted that Colin has also picked up the trumpet in the last year.  His goal is to march with a drum corps this next summer and get the experience he needs to pursue Music Education.  He wants to be a band director.

This year has also brought changes and milestones:

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Music Milestones…

And first girlfriend!

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It doesn’t surprise me.  Colin is polite, kind, funny, smart, and handsome. Yes, I’m biased, but I’m sure Colin’s Emily agrees!

As wonderful as it is to watch your children grow up and become interesting and wonderful adults…sometime I just wish I could wind the clock back…just for a moment.  What wouldn’t I give to be able to kiss this little face again!

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Colin, I feel so fortunate and blessed to be your mother…

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every single day!

 

I’ll Think About It Tomorrow…

My mother was finally buried today.

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This past week I feel as though I’ve been in a haze since my mom passed a week ago.  I thought I would be able to get a practical handle on things, because truthfully, I started mourning my mother when I heard about her Stage 4 stomach cancer diagnosis this past September.  Granted, it has been years ago, but I use to work for a group of general surgeons and oncologists typing up chart notes and Stage 4 cancer always ends the same no matter what you do.  There is almost never a “miracle”.  After hearing her diagnosis, my main goal was to see her as much as possible, as she was in Los Angeles and I live in Austin, TX. and I’m so happy that I got to do that.  When I wasn’t with her, I kept in touch often by phone, but towards the end, our conversations ended after 5 minutes instead of 2 hours, which was the norm for us.

My mother’s memorial service was last Wednesday, and even though I couldn’t be there, my daughter, Chloe, called me and kept her phone on, so that I could hear it.  My mother didn’t want a memorial service.  She never wanted anyone to make a fuss over her, but I’m glad there was one.  It warmed my heart to hear others memories of my mom.

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The images of the burial are painful to see.  The week since she died, I have found myself just trying to stay busy.  Anything to keep from thinking about my mom not being here anymore.  I so much want to just call my mom the phone and crack up with her, but that’s not to be.  It’s hard for me to think about…I’m not ready to face it yet.  So, right now with the help of Xanax, I will follow Scarlett O’Hara’s mantra…”I’ll think about it tomorrow.  After all, tomorrow is another day.”.

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Until We Meet Again…

This morning I lost my beautiful mother, Aida Salas Bustamante Rundquist, to a long and horrific battle with cancer.  It doesn’t seem fair that my mother, who had a massive heart attack about 8 years ago and almost died then, should have to endure something so much worse.  The full impact hasn’t hit me yet, as I was not with her at the end (because I live in another state), but I know that in my family, there will be a huge void that will not ever be filled.  For 42 years, my mother was the heart and soul of the little house on Sanford Dr in Culver City, CA, and though my siblings and I don’t agree on much…on this fact I’m sure we can agree.

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(Engagement Photo)

Though I was not with her at the end, I did visit her often during the span of her illness and my kids, husband and I were able to spend last week with her for one last time.  There is a flood of memories rushing through my mind right now, so indulge me for a moment…

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(My mom, my brother Edgar and me.  I love my mom’s late 60’s, early 70’s style!)

My mom was proud of her Mexican heritage, but she became a proud American just shortly after I graduated high school, when she applied for U.S. citizenship in the 1980’s.  I remember attending the ceremony and watching my mom proudly waving her American flag.  It was very important to her to be able to vote in this country.  Up until the last 3-4 weeks of her life, she was up to speed on all of the crazy election stuff that’s going on right now.  I know she will miss being able to vote in this upcoming crucial election.

My mother came to this country not knowing a lick of English, but quickly set out to learn, often utilizing American soap operas to do so and befriending hippies to practice on!  It would have been really easy for her to just stick with Spanish, since she was living in Southern California and the fact that my dad spoke fluent Spanish (due to his mission for the Mormon Church), but she wasn’t content to do so.  She set out to learn to speak, read and write English successfully.  Sometimes though, she would have a mix up (much to the amusement of her kids).  For example, in high school, Ingrid and I went with friends to see the movie “Footloose”.  She later asked, “How was the movie, “Shoelace?”.      When we kids pointed out the mistake, she just laughed at herself.  Sometimes she would just crack herself up and it would take quite a while for her infectious laugh to stop.

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My mother was also a KICK-ASS cook.  Two times a year she would make her famous tamales for Halloween and Christmas and shared them with the neighborhood.  It got to the point where the neighbors were anxiously waiting for her wonderful tamales.  Her salsa also, cannot be rivaled…I don’t care what anyone says!

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My mom had a bohemian, artistic, romantic and passionate heart.  I have vivid memories of her singing at the kitchen sink while she washed dishes. She also taught herself to sew  (without a pattern!) and we kids benefited with the BEST Halloween costumes.   Through her talents, we were able to transform ourselves into Indiana Jones, Alice In Wonderland, Snow White, Spiderman, Batman, Jaws, Princess Leia and so on.FullSizeRender (17)  (Mom and me.  That’s Venice Blvd. in the background)

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My mother was a complex woman, who took pleasure in the very simplest of things.  She loved to paint and garden and took great pride in her front and backyard creations.  She also LOVED a good burger and a good mambo!  I think that the two things that hit her the hardest about her illness was the fact that she could no longer keep her garden up to her standards and she could no longer enjoy the food she loved.  She also missed being able to play hostess, which she was so good at!  Anyone who came to her door was treated as if they were royalty and were fed as such!

My mother also had unconditional love for her children.  Even when we chose to do, say, or live in a way she didn’t agree with, she continued to love us unconditionally. In fact, despite my mother’s heart attack, my mother did, in fact, own a perfect, loving, empathetic heart. My mother has a strong faith of the Mormon (LDS) church and when she was younger she served in callings for her church.  As time passed, though, she preferred to fly under the radar when she served humanity and practiced the true love of Christ.  She often went out to dispense blankets and coats to the homeless, not shirking to give out hugs too.

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(A park in Inglewood, CA)

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(With my first born, Keegan James)

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My dear mother, I will not see you put in the ground in a hermetically sealed box because you are not in there.  You live on when I look at these faces…the faces of your beautiful grandchildren who you have left a permanent and beautiful mark on.

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You live on in the people whose lives you touched.  You live on when I hear Chloe talk excitedly about a plant or cooking. Your life print is so strong, that the memories I have of you in life are stronger than the memories I will have of your death, I am certain.  I’m no longer a practicing Mormon, but for you, mom, I will hold on to your belief in the afterlife, and instead of viewing your death as an end, I choose to view it as a beginning.  And instead of saying “goodbye,” I shall say, “Until we meet again.”

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