The first time I met Lela Davidson I decided pretty quickly that probably the only thing we had in common was that we both have uteruses. She had perfect hair and perfect clothes and is petite and cute… kind of the opposite of how I see myself 362 days a year. I mean look at this woman:
Not only that, but she said something mildly off-putting about thrift-store shopping. If you know me, you know that sealed the deal. I felt sorry for her, really. Bless her heart.
A few months after our first brief meeting, I attended the annual weekend conference for the Arkansas Women Bloggers where Lela was the keynote speaker. She’s a blogger-turned-author, which is one part of her life, unlike the petite cuteness, that I’m making an effort to emulate. (Let’s face it, I’m never going to be petite.) Her session was called “The WHY of Blogging”, and it was exactly what I needed to hear as I was experiencing a bit of a personality crisis in terms of my writing.
I learned a lesson that weekend… one that I have to be reminded of regularly, unfortunately. We humans, and maybe especially we female humans, share a lot more similarities than we have differences. Lela was self-deprecating, funny hilarious, candid, and stuffed with good information about being a writer, finding your voice, and being “authentic”. Well, as stuffed as a cute, petite little person can be.
Because Lela and I are now the dearest of friends *cough* on Facebook *cough* I have had the good fortune to review her latest book, “Who Peed on My Yoga Mat?” If I didn’t already get the lesson of same-ness and girl-power from that conference, I would have figured it out reading this book. I was laughing out loud as I read it on my Kindle.
That’s right, Lela, I bought a kindle JUST TO DOWNLOAD YOUR BOOK!
Actually, I asked for it for my birthday. Same diff.
Lela shows no fear in her writing, which is a trait I envy with every green bone in my body. She says what she thinks, about everything and everyone, and doesn’t seem to care who wants to punch her in the face. The beauty of it is that she insults, cusses, calls bullshit, and uses phrases like “hang down titties”, but she still manages to be adorable. But one of my favorite things about her is her parenting style.
In the essay called “Red Light, Green Light, Shut the F*#k Up” Lela rains down condemnation and self-righteous anger on the idiotic rule her child’s school instituted that called for children not to speak louder than a whisper to each other during their lunch break. I have eaten lunch with my son on many occasions and am also prone to rolling my eyes when they do the *clap – clap – clapclapclap* thing to get the kids’ attention and tell them to be quieter. I get that it’s loud in the lunchroom…but that’s kind of part of the deal with kids though, isn’t it? Make them be quiet in class, but for crissake, let them sing show tunes at lunch if that’s what they need to do to let off some steam. School is stressful! How are they going to build meaningful relationships with kids who will then teach them important life lessons when they turn on them in 6th grade if they can’t carry on a simple conversation over chicken nuggets?
In “Promises to My Teenagers” she quotes Nicholas Cage from the movie Peggy Sue Got Married:
“What’s the point of being a teenager if you can’t dress weird?
This is absolutely one of the most treasured bits of wisdom that my mother ever passed down to me. Just as Lela promises her kids in her essay – my mother let my siblings and I do whatever we wanted with our clothes and hair, because she knew that we had to go through the right of passage of “dressing weird” to figure out what normal was for each of us. My mother used to line us up before we headed out to concerts to record the moment on film. Now, mind you, it was the mid-80s, so there was some serious costumery going on. (Much of it scavenged from local thrift stores!) We were going to witness the brilliant showmanship of The Thompson Twins, Adam Ant or Boy George, and there was an expectation of outrageousness attached to that kind of show. (Is it obvious I spent my teens somewhere other than Northwest Arkansas?) And now I share the same attitude with my own kids. Color your hair, wear makeup in colors that are not found in nature… but don’t make decisions that will stick with you forever until you’re a little more certain who you are going to be and what you’ll be doing when forever gets here.
Here’s where I bring it home: With chapter headings include the subjects of motherhood, married life, neighbors, being 40-something, “Who Peed on My Yoga Mat?” would make a great holiday gift for the women in your life. As long as they don’t mind cussing and talk of titties, botox and orgasms. I haven’t finished reading it yet, but one of the things I love about a collection of essays is the devotional-like quality of them. I can read one or two while waiting for my son at piano lessons, or just before I go to bed, and get something out of them without having to rush back to the book later because the arc of the story hasn’t been completed. This is also a great feature of having a Kindle with a sweet orange case… it’s cute and petite, but it might contain some naughty words, just like Lela.