Living life through my mugs

Published on Wednesday, 30 November -0001 00:00
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I never know the person I'll be from one day to another. Heck, most times I can't predict hour to hour. My life is scattered and fragmented.

Depending on the moment or the need or the task at hand, I can be a mom, spouse, friend, daughter, sister, school volunteer, homework helper, shoulder to cry on, pet owner, exercising dieter, trend-follower, consuming shopper, consuming chocoholic and every so often, a writer.

I'm sure you can relate. We wear lots of hats, don't we?

I don't actually own a hat to represent each of my roles; I've never looked good in hats. That's okay, because I do have something perhaps even better: a cupboard full of coffee mugs.

Yep. I can be any given person on any given day and I've got the java jugs to prove it.

Most of my mugs date from years back. I've acquired them one by one. A glance into my cupboard will yield you a synopsis of my past (and present).

Let's start with the obvious. Sitting front and center on the shelf is the mug labeled, "Mom." I wouldn't and couldn't be complete without that identity. Sipping from my mom mug is good for a variety of generalized situations: kissing boo boos, washing a team jersey in time for the afternoon game, contemplating the supper menu, finding lost library books and of course, helping with homework. Most days my mom mode mug fits in my hand like a well-worn potholder; it does not get a whole lot of shelf time, if you catch my drift.

I can't say the same about the mug from my college days. It's a holdover from my dorm room Ð and no, it was never a vessel for any beverage that rhymes with the word, "deer." My college mug touts a message: "Life is a song." It reminds me of free and easy days when one of my biggest responsibilities was getting to class on time. Come to think of it, life was like a song back then Ð most often one by Bruce Springsteen or Bob Seger, if I remember correctly.

Similar to stray cats, most of my mugs found me; I didn't go out looking for them. This is true of the promotional mug that came packaged with a bottle of coffee liqueur. Like my college mug, it is used only to house drinks of the non-intoxicating variety. Still its essence and vibe makes me feel a little "party-ish." I reach for my liqueur mug on days when I need to escape to a tropical island with white sand beaches. My mug doesn't exactly transport me, but the liqueur reference provides an essence of adventure (well, sort of).

Occasionally (but not often) I reach for the mug decorated with a watercolor version of an iris (my favorite flower). It's a leftover from my heavy-duty gardening days. Not surprisingly, they went by the wayside right around the time I obtained the mom mug. Eventually I hope to return to drinking from my iris-embellished watercolor mug on a regular basis. Some day.

I handpicked my most recent mug acquisition. It is bright yellow and made from the highest quality ceramic. I knew I had to have it when I spotted it Ð in its golden gilded glory Ð sitting nonchalantly on the shelf at the dollar store. My daughter left home for college this year and her favorite color is yellow. When I want to be reminded of her, which is often, I grab my new ray-of-sunshine mug.

The mugs in my cupboard are extensions of me. The collection has expanded over the years to meet the evolution that has unfolded as my life. Little parts of me reside in each cup. Depending on the day, I can be anything from a reminiscing ex-college student to a cat-loving pet owner (and everything in between).

Today, I was none of the above. Today was unique and different Ð more unusual than a watercolor iris or sunshine yellow mug kind of day. Today I went to the cupboard and reached way in the back to find the cup adorned with just one word: "Jill." Despite all the wonderful roles I fill in life, every once in awhile I like to be just me. How boring is that?

Jill Pertler, award-winning syndicated columnist and author of "The Do-It-Yourselfer's Guide to Self-Syndication" is collecting fans on Facebook on her Slices of Life page. E-mail her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ; or visit her website at