Tag Archives: friends
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Home, with party hats!

21 Sep

Home; I could stop writing now and most of you could relate to the emotions the word carries, but when it comes to words and emotions, I’m no minimalist.  Currently home is a small rental nestled deep in the flat plains in the expansive outreaches of southwest Texas, just on the cusp of the legendary Texas Hill Country; but to imply this particular house is responsible for evoking a sense of home within my heart is like saying birds like trees. The implication is far too general, yet oddly, too specific to authentically represent the complexities of absolute truth.

1103 24thwelcome to our world

front walkwayyard 3yard 1passion flower

I could play word-games by saying things like I’m in a transitioning phase, or have entered yet another level of self-discovery, or I’ve fully embraced the autumn of life, or even; I didn’t move back to Texas to die, I moved here to live, and, actually, each cute little quip would be true.  But truer yet is the fact that I’ve simply taken another mindful step in the natural progression of life.

Make no mistake; time is rushing past like a fastidious parade and one can either pretend to sit on the sidelines or concede that, in deed, he is responsible for the chaos and beauty of his own life. It’s not particularly why or how something begins, but how it is handled that builds character. I never forget that.

So I’m back in my home state, MIA only a few years although it felt much longer.  I’m resettling into myself, slipping back into my slow, southern drawl, stretching each vowel till it dissolves in complete silence in a natural death.  I’ve reconnected with the chicken-fried steak and sunsets that absolutely blow my mind.

chicken fried steak

sunset

I’m rising with the sun but maintaining night owl habits. I seem to need less sleep and am filling with energy.

Routine and consistency juxtapose spontaneous activity as Richard and I split time between two worlds, ours and our daughter, Billie, her husband, Brian, and two grandchildren who live down the street.  Their zest for life keeps us on our toes as we dash with renewed vigor in an attempt to share every minute offered.

Tonight we are attending an official birthday party for their dog, Maggie, and their cat, Bella.  Fig, our precious canine, is on the guest list, as is Loki, our mischievous scoundrel of a cat, who seems to have already made plans for the night.  Fig, however, never misses the opportunity to party.

dog in party hat

Although homemade doggie treats are on the birthday kiddies menu, I’m not sure what ours consist of, most likely not chicken fried steak; none-the-less, gifts and party hats have been purchased, the punch bowl has been removed from dizzying heights of ancient kitchen cabinets and prepared to receive a ginger-aide and fruit juice concoction guaranteed to curl chest hair.

In the process of down-sizing, we’ve unearthed pure gold. It hasn’t been an easy process.  Selling a home, packing and moving is a real challenge at any age but at 65 it’s a real stinker!  Our children live in Texas.  I was born and raised here; Richard was a Texan at heart who woke every morning to the reality of New Jersey.  When he first moved to Texas in 2006, he said he had realized a life long dream.

Against all odds, Richard and I found one another and built a good life together.  Now we are home again and it’s another beautiful day in paradise. And we absolutely plan on enjoying it!

rick and bev summer 2014

I love, I love not

17 Jun

Having grown past the shock of the persistence of aging, I found myself in a sea of remorse with nothing more than metaphoric water wings, of which I relied completely upon to carry me through each subsequent stage of grief.  The wings themselves consisted of waning bits of optimism, tireless stocks of hope and self-deprecating humor, the company of other relics caught in the same storm, and loving encouragement from my children.

the old gang

When least expected, I awoke from the madness feeling confident and completely at peace.  All signs of panic had vanished; it was as if having been victim of a terrible virus I’d assumed would last to the end of my times, I had spontaneously healed.

Thus, in earnest, began Phase II, a great reconciliation, of sorts.  It was an otherwise unremarkable period with the exception of occasional energy bursts and perplexing eruptions of silliness and laughter that oddly coincided with the arrival and duration of spring.

This amazing lack of anxiety caught me off guard; I began making lists of things to do, and then, quite un-expectantly, did them.  My dad always said there is something wrong with everything, and indeed, his philosophy proved true for me as I felt myself inexplicably turn from teacher to observer of the puzzling phenomenon called life.  Suddenly it no longer felt like a requirement to give my opinion on every subject entering my personal space, quite the opposite; I was compelled by invisible unknown forces to keep my mouth shut while listening to the opinions of others.

Although I’d sincerely tried to do this before, I had been unsuccessful. Strangely, this time it was a natural progression, a silver-haired right of passage that effortlessly squashed  the Queen EGO, who had, until that very moment, commandeered and dominated the entire mother-ship.  In subsequent days, I felt as if I’d awakened on another planet; so much of what I had grown accustomed to had disappeared.  But as weeks passed, I indulged in the novelty of sweet surrender, growing stronger but less attached everyday.  It wasn’t as if I no longer cared; I did, but the emotional baggage attached to evolving current and personal events had disappeared, leaving me fresh and full of vigor.

waking on another planet

Currently, I’m in what can only be called Phase III, the playground of the devil; a mental sphere separating old habits of strict discipline and strong opinions to a more abstract conceptual attitude about everything, as I simply continue to hold my tongue.  All of this change and I am still not afraid.

The brevity of life eventually makes prophets and soothsayers of us all as we observe the cycles and repercussions of evolving life.  I can sit for hours watching the wind play in the trees.  I can lose myself in the flight of fire flies, or I can calmly observe younger generations rushing into each day with the zeal and urgency of a mob of small children with new toys they don’t want to share, or with the apathy of defeated orphans.  I can sign a dozen petitions a day, write letters to politicians I know no one of power will ever read, and make 10 telephone calls a week imploring one person or another to do the right thing while feeling as if my entire body is floating above the lunacy of it all.

fireflies

As far as the drama unfolding across the world that bravely, or foolishly, is fastidiously shared via social media, I have a pretty good idea how it will all end.  It’s like watching a re-run of history repeating itself as if no one was paying attention the first time around. And I can choose to either shake my head in disbelief, or consciously disconnect from the chatter of angry old men and women who’ve soured on everything that doesn’t fit under the narrow microscopic lenses of their own philosophies as they systematically crack the whip across the backs of the unfortunate.

I can do all this without falling apart.

Sometimes I make eye contact with everyone in the grocery store.  Other times, I stare at my shoes, leaving my tongue at home on a comfortable chair, or in a loaf of rising bread, or in the melodies of old Patsy Cline songs.  Some days I love the world, some days I do not.  Some days I relate, see myself in everyone else; but there are days I look past every face letting each blend in a massive blur of anonymity, and I feel absolutely nothing.

grocery store crowd

My New Age friends are quick to say everything is as it should be, but they’re full of bologna.  No one is supposed to starve to death.  No one is supposed to be raped or tortured.  Philosophically speaking, some days it is sunshine, others, it is rain; but even in the depths of the darkest storm, even with the floor boards coming loose and tripping us up,  we can agree to quit fighting ourself, understanding that if everyone else did the same thing, the world would immediately begin to heal.

I don’t worry much that there are so few years left in my life to live, instead I worry for the quality and abundance of those left in my children’s and grandchildren’s lives.

Morgan's birthday 2012

chris and billie  Brian and kiddos Crissy and Trent Chris and kids roller rink

ashley

I refuse to wring my hands or join the angry disillusioned masses of seniors scorching the good earth as they march against time trying to bring back the old days.  The old days are gone; we need to learn from them.  Today didn’t just happen; we formed it, all of us, but many of us will die, leaving the mess for others to clean up even as they struggle with their own generational responsibilities and challenges.

The only constant in my off and on love affair with life are the feelings I have toward children.  Their plights and futures put an extra kick in every pump of my heart.  I worry about all of them; borders and nationalities mean nothing to me.

Last month, I watched a child standing in a food line with her mother who apparently has Down syndrome.  There was nothing I could do to change the trajectory of her life.  That gives me pause; reality hurts my soul, but reality is also the cold earth warming in the early days of new spring, and fresh life growing in mossy clumps across the base of winter worn trees. And soft tunes carried on the wind from the strings of a child’s violin to the rocking chair on my back porch.  And clouds gathering.  And bad news on the television every day, and weddings and births.  And hope for future generations.

 

 

 

 

 

 

West Mountain Wisdom

24 Apr

west mt 2

I never know when I’ll find myself on that mountain.  Going there is more instinct than thought.  West Mountain draws me like a magnet, but before leaving Seabrook, Texas, it was the Seabrook Ship Yard that called my name.

seabrook shipyard 1

 A small winding road off Hiway146, oftentimes under water from impulsive tides and persistent land erosion, faithfully led me past yachts moored in covered shelters, and sailboats loosely attached to floating piers, opening like a subtle bloom into a grassy field lined with pink and red oleanders and a fine assortment of lazy palms.  I’ve parked my old Chevy a thousand times at the point overlooking an arm of Clear Lake that passes beneath the fancy Kemah Bridge, merging unceremoniously with the Gulf Bay.  The bay runs for miles and miles through small, scattered coastal towns on its way to Galveston Island, where it explodes in deep blues and, closer to shore, unassuming hues of sienna and umber.

I was exploring my new neighborhood nearly 30 years ago when I stumbled across this perfect oasis, a comforting hidden harbor that seemed to sense my need for soothing isolation.  We’d lost a child I was emotionally attached to in the busy pediatric hospital where I worked.  Christopher was a ward of the state.  He was fair with soft blond hair and amazing blue eyes, and in spite of a myriad of physical disabilities and disease, he managed to ignore the ventilator pumping breath through his tattered, fragile lungs, and the tracheostomy and feeding tubes he’d endured from birth, to play happily, most days, in his crib.

Everyone loved Chris, but Chris was my baby in the sense that I’d cared for him as a student nurse, and then joined the unit he called home when my studies were complete.  I’d shared almost all of his tiny, 2 year old baby life and was so much richer for the gift of having the opportunity to do so.

Christopher died on my day off, and no one had thought to call me.  It was just an oversight, everyone thought someone else had called me; it happens.  When I showed up for my shift and his bed was empty, I was devastated to learn we’d lost this delightful, brave child, andI  took it to heart the same way I took every death I co-experienced throughout my nursing career, each being deeply personal and intensely important to me.

So the day after I’d learned Christopher had died, I discovered my own safe haven and thereafter, for many, many years to come, found myself sitting in its tall, thick grasses, the salty/fishy scent of the sea filling my head with naturalness and inner peace.  Every visit I made transformed loss into peace, and helped ground me emotionally.

seabrook shipyard2

The Seabrook Ship Yard was my growing place.  My wounds healed there.  The chaos and drama of external life and qiet intuitive inner life met there, supporting each other as I worked to define what kind of woman I wanted to be.

Now I live in the mountains and these deep silent woods transform me once again.  Every time I visit the Peak of West Mountain, I discover a new truth or remember a long forgotten piece of intuitive knowledge I’ve misplaced along life’s long, jagged highway.  Sitting high above the city amongst dogwood, pine, maple and great elms, I am suddenly surrounded by everyone I have ever loved, each perfect soul already having completed his worldly journey.

I hear their voices in woodland sounds and see their bright shining faces smiling back at me from a deep canopy of trees. I feel their presence in every pore of my skin, and every hair on my head. Every time my little car climbs that beautiful mountain, the Universe challenges me to see things differently, and challenges me to walk directly into the fire unafraid.

Those who have come before me give me the vision to realize nothing is impossible, and they remind me that every little thing that happens in this life offers another chance to grow.

I scattered the ashes of my ex-husband on that mountain.  He’s growing wild and carefree in those woods, and each wound he suffered, self-inflicted or absorbed by the blunt intentional force of others, heals cleanly, mends wholly.  His memory and triumphs are born again with each new season.

Curving up West Mountain2

Today as I rounded the final curve going up the peak, my iPod began playing Amazing Grace.  I chuckled to myself.  The song got it right, I was blind but now I see; but the song doesn’t go nearly far enough.  I can hear too, and I can understand; but mostly, I can feel.  And here on this perfect piece of sacred earth, I can share what I’ve learned with others.  I sat on the mountain for a long while.  The longer I stayed, the calmer I felt.  When I began descending, another song clicked on the iPod, but that’s another story for another day.

 

The Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award

23 Jan

sister-hood-award

I’d like to thank Irene Waters: Reflections and Nightmares- Writer and Memoirist-   Http://irenewaters19.com  for nominating me for the Sisterhood of the world Bloggers Award. I thoroughly enjoy Irene’s blog; her photography is amazing and the insights she offers about life’s journey are always enlightening.  In the blogosphere, I’m still sort of a Newbie, so receiving recognition for my work, which is really my pleasure, encourages me to keep sharing my heart.

~ ~The Rules ~ ~

  1. Provide a link to and thank the blogger who nominated you for this award.
  2. Answer ten questions.
  3. Nominate 10-12 blogs that you find a joy to read. Provide links to these nominated blogs and kindly let the recipients know they have been nominated.
  4. Include the award logo within your blog post.

~~Questions~~

1.  Your favorite color…. Green

2.  Your favorite animal … I love them all

3.  Your favorite non-alcoholic drink …. Chamomile tea

4.    Facebook or Twitter….. Facebook, I’m still figuring out Twitter

5.    Your favorite pattern …..  Spirals

6.    Do you prefer getting or giving presents…. Giving

7.    Your favorite number … 11

8.    Your favorite day of the week … Thursday

9.    Your favorite flower …. Echinacea

10.  What is your passion? ….. Reading and writing Poetry

There are so many deserving blog sites and so little time.  I’m going to list and link a few of my fem-favorites understanding not all will be able to participate in the nomination process.

http://humoringthegoddess.com

http://secondhalfwoman.wordpress.com

http://tllsci.wordpress.com

http://theempathyqueen.wordpress.com

http://www.wantonwordflirt.com

http://forgivingdreams.wordpress.com

http://thehipgrandmother.wordpress.com

http://momof3isnuts.wordpress.com

http://mainstreetmusings.wordpress.com

http://architar.wordpress.com

Don’t worry about hurting my feelings; I assure you, I completely understand time constraints.  : )  I do hope you all visit any link that speaks to you!

*** Please note: the blog address for Wanton Word Flirt has been corrected.  Please explore this delightful site at http://www.wantonwordflirt.com

Finding Calm in the midst of Chaos

6 Dec

the sky is falliingWeather reports zealously predicted the emergence of a winter storm of near epic proportions.  As I listened, I was struck by the sound of rising alarm in the voices of meteorologists who paced like caged tigers, and I wondered again where the days of calm and objectivity had gone, seemingly having disappeared like two old friends descending the last mountain, looking back over their shoulders to companions left behind, giving a final thumbs up to them, as if nothing would ever change, as if time and the world would repeat itself as it always had when the sun rose each morning; but the world did change, and comfort once gained from soothing, consistent voices vanished in a populist culture of serial disasters, each horrible and mesmerizing; each uglier than its predecessor, yet understood to be just another wrung on an endless ladder of adrenaline-driven-drama yet to come.

Hoping for the best, planning for the worst, we drove to the market in preparation of the power outage that was sure to come.  How did we know the power would disappear?  Well, actually we received a text message from Entergy explaining that 8,000 workers were on their way to the area, and that outages were expected to last “5-7 days”.  It seemed more a promise than a possibility.

As we drove, we passed 3 or 4 gas stations, each with long, winding lines and a carbon monoxide fog hanging overhead like another warning, or perhaps, a final obituary.

Inside the store, signs of the new world shrank the warehouse sized building into the likes of a small parlor filled with warring tribes, each combatant wearing armor, his or her eyes straight ahead, and the cold dead stench of fear rising.

The bread aisle was empty.

The water aisle was empty.

no water

A half-gallon of milk cost $4.43.

I had a bag of tortillas in my hand until an old man shoved me and snatched it away; pushing his cart away as fast and hard as he could.  On any other day, perhaps he would have offered to reach it for me, taken it from the high shelf and put it in my hand, or maybe he might have smiled as we passed each other on Aisle 8.  But today he was not himself, or perhaps he had never been more himself until the very moment he stole a bag of tortillas from a stranger’s hand.

It caught me off-guard; for a moment, I needed to step away from the crowd, so I huddled next to an end-cap of nonessentials like cotton balls or hair color.  Narrowing my focus, I listened to the sounds emitted from the surging crowd.  Expecting growls of altercation, I was surprised to hear excitement, like a growing anticipation for an adventure yet defined.  At first I believed I was witnessing the emergence of community, a gathering of like-minded souls preparing to endure shared battle, but the longer I listened, I more clearly I began to understand, and I trembled with the knowledge that what I heard was more akin to observers at a public hanging, or a gathering of the pious howling in jubilation at the burning of a accused witch.

Rich and I left carrying nuts and fruit, a couple of bags of chips and 3 bottles of marinara.  We drove like lunatics away from the crowds, weaving through debris already strewn by the wind throughout back roads and city streets.

Once home, we dug through the Recycle Bin, dragging out empty plastic bottles that we washed with hot, soapy water.  After they’d dried, we filled them with fresh tap water.

We unpacked winter blankets.

We filled a basket with candles, matches, flashlights and batteries.

We ate peanut butter sandwiches and shared the last piece of pumpkin pie from the back of the refrigerator.  Then we snuggled under the knitted blanket I’d bought at an estate sale from two daughters who didn’t want it, who had valued it at $3.00, never understanding the emotion and time, the love and careful attention their mother had invested in it.

Then we turned on the outside Christmas lights, rolled up the blinds, settled in, held hands, and watched the snow begin to fall.

snow flakes

A Versatile Blogger Award ~ A gracious way to acknowledge others and their Blogs

6 Oct

versatile-blogger-award-green I’m always thrilled to accept an award, and humbled when I think about how much reflection and attention it takes for a fellow blogger to thoughtfully compile a list of nominees. Thanks to The Empathy Queen for this nomination! I will try to do her justice by following the rules although I’m not really keen on rules of any kind. Because The Empathy Queen is so super cool, I’m putting her site at the top of my list even though it may be interpreted as a bit redundant or kind of weird.

Giddy with anticipation, I am going to try to pull myself together and begin.

The rules I received are as follows:

THE RULES :

1. Display the Award Certificate on your blog.

2. Announce your win with a post and thank the blogger who nominated you.

3. Present 15 deserving bloggers with the award.

4. Link your nominees in the post and let them know about their nomination with a comment.

5. Post 7 interesting things about yourself.

I enjoy many blogs, but I’m limited to 15, so I’m going to nominate those that most move me to the bone with one emotion or another, hoping that others will explore them and discover the magic!

In no particular order:

http://theempathyqueen.wordpress.com/

http://humoringthegoddess.com/

http://forgivingdreams.wordpress.com/

http://soulgatherings.wordpress.com/

http://tllsci.wordpress.com/

http://architar.wordpress.com/

http://southofwhere.wordpress.com/

http://wantonwordflirt.com/

http://xroguegirlx.wordpress.com/

http://mainstreetmusingsblog.com/

http://mentalinthemidwest.wordpress.com/

http://secondhalfwoman.wordpress.com/

http://storyshucker.wordpress.com/

http://meganhasocd.com/

http://worldsworstmoms.com/

Okay, that was the easy part, but now it’s time to list 7 interesting things about myself. Hmm, let’s see…

1. Like my friend, The Empathy Queen, I have a hard time handling compliments.

2. I’ve never missed an episode of Project Runway. Ever.

3. I love to wear novelty socks.

4. I bake all of our bread.

5. I’m a published poet.

6. When I was 6, I thought I saw the Easter Bunny but it turned out to be the milkman.

7. I quit holding my stomach in when I turned 60.

If there was a #8, it would be about how I feel every time I get a new Comment or Like on either of my blog sites. When someone new Follows me, I celebrate by eating a forbidden food like a real cookie, not one of my husband’s sugar free jobs.

I am sincerely, from the bottom of my heart, tickled to death when my work is read, and I thank each and every one of you for your kind support.

TPhoto_00001 (6)

A Glimpse into the Irreplaceable Past

22 Sep

 yardsale2

Sprawling across the front lawn belonging to a 75-ish woman, yesterdays Yard Sale was the result of the mental planning and great physical efforts of two other women, one 45-ish, the other 35-ish. The 40-something gem is a jewel of a woman of whom such a description aptly fits, but the same could be said of the others relative to the fact that one is her mother, and the other, her best friend.

The odd duck in the lot was me, the 65-ish old chick who lives next door to the gem and her best friend.  I was propped up by the presence of my own best friend, Rick, my husband, who attended the foray in the capacity of muscle, security, neighbor, buddy, and loyal assistant.

The day was perfectly beautiful with bright shining sun and a slight breeze, and temperatures’ ranging from the low 60’s to low 70’s.  Having decided to forego listing our sale in the classifieds, the weather proved our best advertisement, drawing sleepy heads, weary of too many days of unseasonable heat, out of their air-conditioned caves and back into the streets in search of community.

It was a very good day to make new friends, which we did, but what impressed me most was the symbology of the items we’d each chosen to sell.  It was a clear representation of the past in a spectrum of odd collections displayed in a mishmash fashion across plastic tables, in acknowledgement of sentimental journeys spanning generations.

Each item we discarded was a piece of our individual and collective pasts.  I can’t speak for the others, but I’d struggled for weeks culling out cabinets and closets trying to come to terms with letting go of objects that represented my past in a genuine effort to simplify the present.  For me, nothing is simply what it appears to be; that small glass bowl with its etched lid is the party I hosted when I was 25 and all my girlfriends were nearly weightless in joy and anticipation of the futures they’d planned.  It was toddlers toddling around our knees, picking cookies off dainty trays and eating them with the kind of zeal only a child can express.

etched jar

The two decorated stacking boxes were freedom at 51, they were inner courage surfacing, lust and excitement coming of age when I felt for the very first time, it was finally my turn.  Putting price tags on them for $2.50 and $4.00 seemed a slap in the face to the most extreme journey I’d taken in my life.

The end tables were tradition.  The handmade Christmas ornaments are hopes I once held for a houseful of grandchildren clamoring each holiday season to help Nonnie and Newt decorate their tree.

I know in my head, none of these items are actually pieces of my identity, only small material representations of dreams I’ve dreamt and discarded along the way as the path turned one way and then another, and each old ideal diminished in the face of a new and far brighter reality.

identity art

But the struggle to release is real.  It’s a mother entering the winter of her life finally realizing she simply must cut the cord and set her grown children completely free to flounder and fall before soaring amongst the stars in the boundless sky.  It’s burying a dead ex-husband and allowing the truth to exist by accepting that each flaw in the relationship helped you learn how to fill the tiny cracks that kept you fractured from the deepest, most authentic aspects of yourself.

It is understanding how embracing the hard times and then letting them go, strengthens your fortitude, making it easier to face the deep unknown.

It’s not a tattered old crocheted blanket; it’s the tears you shed creating it as you divested yourself from longings that, if followed, would deeply affect your children’s lives.  It is not a silly piece of art; it’s your father’s imagination, your mother’s strong hands, your sister’s laughter, your brother’s serious side, a glimpse into the irreplaceable past.

But at the end of the day, hard choices must be made.  Sitting in the shade with new friends and the love of my life, making new friends, placing old treasures into stranger’s hands, I’m cutting loose threads of the past in order to create a clearer path for today.  Even so, late in the day, when a man hassles me over the price of my two decorated boxes, I pass on the deal, deciding to keep this particular symbol for myself.

The seasons of our lives are not loved and respected because of successes we enjoy, nor are they despised and weakened by the challenges we face, but are to be richly honored for moving us each closer to authenticity and the inner sanctuary of unconditional love and absolute peace.

The wise know without the storm, there would be no majestic cliff from which to stand and observe the seemingly random, yet perfectly organized chaos of changing weather.  Without rapids in the river, sharp ridges would not be tamed into smooth stone. Yesterdays’ Yard Sale brought five people together uniting their pasts by sharing and releasing a variety of personal treasures.  These treasures attracted other collectors, and in the process relative strangers journeys’ intersected in an act of true community.

Last night I dreamed I was in a boat that was being carried by rushing currents through a narrow river stream.  Branches from a forest of trees created a low canopy that was ominous.  I could feel my heart beat faster and faster as the water drew my small boat closer to the obstacles ahead, but just as I was about to be hit in the face by a branch, it would suddenly arch toward the sky, freeing my way.  For miles I traveled watching the beautiful spectacle.  My daughters were standing on either side of the riverbed, each peaceful and smiling.  They waved as I passed, then turned and walked away.

I saw my deceased ex-husband on a hill.  He was standing with Rick.  As I approached, he shook Rick’s hand and then faded away.  Rick walked to the edge of the shore, waiting for me; then he slipped easily into my boat.  Suddenly the boat was a ship, and the sea lay open and inviting before us.  And when I awoke this morning, I swear I could taste salt on my lips and hear waves breaking on shore.  Yesterday was a beautiful season.  So is today.

season tree

  And I know tomorrow will be too, no matter when it begins or how long it stays.

Ambivalence: Dealing With It, Understanding it is Fear’s First Cousin

2 Sep

I always experience a blend of excitement and sadness this time of year. It feels like each day is suspended on a great curve or a massive arch, and having passed the midway point in yet another season, summer achingly descends toward its inevitable end while fall waits around the corner, giddy with anticipation. For summer, each ever-shortening minute seems to mourn the loss of delicate carefree days, but fall is like a child anticipating the first day of school, bursting with energy and full of endless possibilities. 

I hate to see the flowers go, but I love the spectrum of autumn colors, and savor the thought of shorter days and lengthening nights; its nature’s way of slowing us down, bringing a little work/rest balance to our lives.  When the forest erupts in nearly indescribable color, there’s pep in my step that is missing in the heat of deep summer.  I love the bounce and the crisp air that carries with it a hint of wood burning in distant fire pits and fireplaces.  Still, I miss the elegance of blossoming flowers, the sound of bees congregating over the oregano and thyme, the fragrance of sage and rosemary, lavender, Thai basil and lemon eucalyptus.

my love affair with flowers continues MY STUFF1

Each year the changing of seasons is a bit different from the last.  If it’s been a particularly wet summer, the landscape captures the story of persistent rain beating the ground, distending the earths belly with forced feedings that erode fragile ecosystems, destroy newly fallen seeds, and drown insects and other small creatures.  The bodies of summer are carried by rushing streams of rainwater until snagged by mounds of debris that have collected in nooks and crannies across uneven ground.  These makeshift cemeteries will be their last resting place as they ferment and dissolve back into the earth that bore them.  The initial fragrance of rain intersecting dry earth deepens to a musky scent before succumbing to the eventual stench of decay. 

Even the trees seemingly weep, their branches weary, and bark swollen.  While I celebrate the bounty of water, simultaneously I mourn the loss of my precious flowers as they lay their heads to the ground in absolute surrender.  Manically, I’m up again watching the birds feed on fat worms plucked from sodden grasses, easily satisfying their appetites in a ritual of sustainability and regeneration.  If summer has been cruel, if skies have refused to provide water to the dry pleading soil below, the landscape withers in brittle tales of want and desire.  And the earth splits in spidering cracks and crevices, creating safe havens for insects, invertebrates and small mammals. 

cracked earth 1

The trees on the horizon shrink in rising dust, their parched leaves defeated, and dropping by the handfuls with even a hint of a breeze. And as far as the eye can see, there is a backdrop of scarcity and woe.  Soon we move indoors in search of something more, leaving the earth to endure the scalding heat alone.

Evenings are one of the few rewards we find for having suffered the dog days of summer.  Late afternoon often marks the arrival of migratory birds in search of something to eat or drink,  Their musical voices are soothing and reminiscent of old women haggling in a market place.  By dusk, when fireflies begin to light the hem of the woods, we return to the thick, warm air, languishing in lawn chairs, shooing flies and gnats from the corners of our mouths as we talk about the weather, or dream aloud of cooler days to come.

I match each season to the cadence of my own life.  On the cusp of fall, I find myself finishing projects I began in the spring and nurtured all summer long, and compiling list after list of things that must be done in preparation for the cold, dark void of winter that is building just around the corner. 

I’m plucking the dry heads off daisies, sunflowers and Echinacea and scattering their seeds throughout my gardens.  I’m preparing a list of bushes and tree limbs to prune in late October.  I’m harvesting and drying herbs to use in the cold months when their roots are resting beneath ice or snow.  I’m starting construction on small Halloween gifts for the children on my street who delight me year after year with their eager faces squealing “Trick or Treat!”

MY STUFF 2 halloween door

I’m a little early with what I call my Annual Fall Clean-Out, the time set aside to sort through everything I’ve collected or saved since early spring. I’m editing the clutter.  If I don’t, everything I own suddenly owns me, and I become a slave to their upkeep.  I’m getting too old for heavy cleaning and shuffling stuff from place to place anymore, so I’m downsizing in my own way.  I admit to the absurdity and obvious conflict of being both a serial cleaner and one tittering on the abysmal brink of hoarding, and confess that I run myself wild saving for what may or may not ever happen, while throwing away what isn’t actually needed.  I understand that I am my own particular disease just as much as I am its own particular cure.

bandaide on heart

Today is September 2nd.  Outside, if feels as if summer is still with us, but our calendar is filling with autumn activities.  Soon the leaves will turn and begin to fall, and I will pile them on top of all my flower beds to insulate against the bitter cold that lies ahead.  Summer was slow starting for us this year, and already the night temperatures are dipping into the 60’s.  I remember standing on our deck on the fourth of July and telling my husband that winter would arrive soon.

“Sooner than we’ll be ready for it, I fear,” he said.

Time passes so quickly these days.  It seems we are always looking over our shoulders toward yesterday, yesterday when the babies were born and life was joyfully packed with activity and pseudo-drama.  Yesterday, when everyone we loved was still alive, still laughing or causing grief.  Yesterday, when tomorrow seemed a million years away.  But I’ve no time for ambivalent thoughts today.  My sister telephoned; she and her husband and my brother and Mom are coming for a visit at the end of the month.  I have so much to do before they arrive…and there is so much to look forward to, so many busy pleasures and rich experiences for Rich and I to explore before the bone cold winter hand knocks at our front door and whispers our names.

old couple in love 1

  

 

 

Keeping Secrets and Caring for Our Shadow Side

19 Aug

top secret stamp itty

It’s a challenge at times, especially when they rise to the surface, refusing to be ignored.  I can push with all of my might, using laser-beam focus, but it doesn’t help a bit.  Mama used to say ‘some things take on a life all of their own’, and if I’ve learned anything, it’s that every single thought, every action and consequence, does exactly that.

A few minutes ago, this was a blank page; now it’s a presentation of my personal beliefs.  Each time I strike a key on the keyboard, the page develops into something more complex than it was when I decided to sit down at the desk. I could stop writing now, but even if I do, I’ve already planted a tiny seed that could grow into a monster, or turn into dust that will simply blow away.

It’s a risk I can’t wait to take.

The world is alive.  Sometimes I picture myself as a tiny cosmic dot hanging onto the bushy outer fur of the world as it races across countries and vast bodies of water, timelines and contrasting poles, picking up speed without breaking stride.  It takes every bit of my strength to stay in place, and not be shaken from the world’s great back like a dog would shake off fleas.

There are days I can admit I am a parasite, and other days I am certain I am a vaccine.  But in either state of mind, I am honest with, and forgiving of myself.  It takes a lot of energy just to talk, but it takes me much more to be silent.  My mind is an ocean churning.  There are dangerous rip tides, under tows and furtive currents to be considered.  There are the whirlpools of life and death struggles playing out beyond eyesight.  My mind is full of formidable forests growing from its sandy floor.  There are centuries old shipwrecks hiding bones and lost treasure.  There are species of fish never before seen. In the sea, I am not at the top of the food chain, I am a little fish in a very big pond; that’s how my mind sees my body, and I can either be lunch or a servant to the brain that owns me.

ocean surge itty

I love the sea as much as I am frightened by it.

For years friends urged me to write a book.  My response never wavered, “Who am I to tell anyone how to do anything?” I would ask.  Yet here I am, shooting off my mouth about my philosophy on secret keeping.  I’m able to rationalize this by convincing myself that no one here has ever lost any money over anything I’ve said.  I’ve never tried to present myself as an expert on anything; I’ve never tried to sell my ideas.  I have sold poetry I’ve written, but I don’t do poetry on the two blogs I write.  I keep blogs the same way I used to keep journals.  Getting older has its perks; I’m no longer interested in what others think about me, and while I know I’m not an authority on any given subject, at this age, I give myself permission to say what I think.

If I have to lie to keep a secret, I don’t keep it anymore; I set the darned thing free.  I haven’t had to do that but a couple of times in my life, but each time I have, I’ve felt robbed afterwards.  No one has ever forced me to divulge anything, but I have been convinced to submit to another person’s will before.  Going against my own values is never good; it’s an act of weakness that makes me ashamed of myself, and I hate feeling that way.

Anything can be a secret really.  It doesn’t necessarily have to be heavy information.  Maybe it was nothing until you decided to elevate it by designating it as a ‘secret’.  Nothing moves a non-issue to the front of the line like good branding.

I have lots of secrets.  If I let them go, I lose part of my mystique, and I’m not about to voluntarily give any of that up at this stage.  I have so many secrets, matter of fact, that I categorize them with indexing ranging from recipes to sex.  (Got your attention, didn’t I?)

Whatever task I attempt, I carry my baggage along for the ride.  I’ve gotten rid of most of what I wanted to get rid of, but I’ve kept an awful lot.  My husband is a fixer.  He always wants to improve everything from a situation to a point of view.  I resist being fixed.  I read a book years ago about Native American philosophy and was transfixed by the whole Shadow Side perspective.  There is light, and there is darkness.  The author explained his ancestor’s respect for the difference between the two, and their understanding of the necessity of each.  Without the light, nothing will live or thrive.  But there are times the light is threatened, and to ensure its survival, man calls on his shadow side to protect it.

light and dark itty

Calling forth the shadow is not done lightly, nor without ceremony.  A ceremony sets an intention; in the case of protecting something as important as a value or the ability to live the kind of life one loves, it is the starting line.  A purification/dedication fire is lit and dancing begins.  Prayers are offered to the Great Ones above.  Finally, paint representing the savage nature of the shadow inside, is smeared across the face.  Then the battle begins.

warpainted woman face itty

The author emphasized the importance of knowing when to pull out one’s shadow and when to put it back again.  To enjoy the acts involved in destruction is to become stuck in one’s shadow. To be stuck in darkness prohibits light.

I appreciate the truth about myself, but it doesn’t matter to or affect anyone but me.   I’ve learned how beautiful the light is, and how necessary it is to ensure its survival.  I’m comfortable with my shadow side too.  The secrets I keep, keep my shadow alive.  I respect any memory that has impacted my life so powerfully that I chose to keep it secret.  I’ve given a name to my shadow side, (that’s a secret too), but I often consult her opinion on issues before I act; I find her wisdom invaluable.  I choose my battles carefully these days, but once I determine a battle is completely necessary, I light a candle, set an intention, ask the Universe for support and guidance, and then I do what I believe is best, no matter the price.

victorious woman standing in low tide itty

Dealing With the Past Everyday, Whether it’s Horse Poop or Ice Cream

9 Aug

I’ll speak for myself, but I know for a fact there is one other person who agrees with my philosophy about the past’s influence on the present. Because of that, it makes it easier for us to comfort and lift each other up whenever needed. Lynette is my best friend although it will 10 years in October since we last saw each other. If I dwell on that fact, I emotionally hemorrhage; so on a lighter note, here’s a photo of us back in 2001 or 2002.

Hugs Lynette and Bev

Most of my followers probably expect me to be satisfied with the silver lining in the dark cloud, but finding satisfaction depends on surviving the storm and being willing to assess (and reassess) its damage. Sometimes it seems we are victimized by outside forces we can’t control; and there are cases when that certainly is true: a serious illness, the loss of a child…but 98% of the time, whatever smacks us upside the head has everything to do with an issue we’ve been trying to avoid. The issue and the storms we find ourselves in rarely seem to connect, but after doing the inner work , we find they do.

sea storm BLOG

I have a past as colorful and choppy as mosaic art; it can also be compared to a Pointillist landscape composed of thousands of tiny dots placed on a canvas in seemingly random order, but when viewed from a distance, each individual dot becomes an integral piece in a cohesive story.

                whole face pointillist

In 2000, when I opened a door, my world changed. I tried to pretend it away, but once opened, some doors can never be closed again. Because I was such a master of hiding the truth from everyone who knew me at the time, when I entered that door, my support system fell away, and I found myself on the journey of my life, alone.

Opening one door leads to opening another, which is exactly what I did. But here are a few interesting observations I made along the way: sometimes what lies on the other side of the door is too beautiful to look at for long. Sometimes what appears to be a diamond turns out to be broken glass. And often we simply can’t make our minds up about which door to open in the first place, so gingerly, we turn the handles, meekly peeking in; but once we discover the secret behind the door, we close then open it again and again,  doing that whole  c-r-a-z-y thing where we keep expecting a different outcome while doing the same old thing.

hallway with doors

The great thing about opening doors is the fact that you find the courage to walk on the tight rope of each individual, unscripted moment of life without a safety net, and OMG!, that’s a powerful feeling.

Although for several years I lost my familiar community of family and friends, I wasn’t actually alone for very long. Wandering the hall of opened doors, there was, at first, only a trickling of equally timid souls weaving in and out, walking close or around me.  But the deeper into the guts of the unknown I traveled, the more lively and heavily populated the crowds became.

Lynette was one the earliest hall-walkers I met, and once introduced, we buddied up for the duration of the trip.

The first door I opened, the biggest one, the one responsible for prompting the entire journey, was a door I kept opening and closing. Even as my ever-changing perception of what was on the other side vacillated from horror to ecstasy and back, I never slammed it shut. After a few years, I decided the best thing to do was to turn away from it.

winding trails

What walking away taught me was that entering it in the first place was the best choice I’d ever made, and that trying to completely seal that particular door would prove impossible in this lifetime. For me, that first door represents the precise group of Pointillist dots that form my legs. Without keeping everything I experienced on the other side of the door in my heart; I would not be able to move forward.

While not quite afraid of the pivotal door, for me it’s like the sea, I have a healthy respect of its power while admiring its seductive ruthlessness, its beauty, and the impulsiveness of unyielding focus. If I pretended the past never happened, I’d be doomed to repeat it.

woman and sea merged BLOG

 

I’ve been working everyday since 1997.  And I’ll continue to work for the rest of my life, if that’s what it takes to support the world I created having opened a series of amazing doors.

A Wise Defense

26 Jul

If you try your best, it is still quite difficult to shut out the noise of the world, perhaps that’s not a bad thing because little would change without collective outrage against the status quo. But there is only so much energy a person can expend before annoyances burgeon into total outrage. A thoughtful person who deeply knows him/herself respects the boundaries he sets in efforts to keep enough energy available to successfully run the Mother Ship. A good rule of thumb: Carry social concerns and controversies in direct proportion to weight you can safely bear without causing damage to your mental and physical balance. Do what you can to further causes you are passionate about mindfully; that’s another way of saying the same thing.

The desire to continue my own inner journey is often inspired by observing the chaos of others. The further they move from the light, the more driven I become to reflect its radiance.

Life is the teacher, we are students. Some learn quickly, others never try. Some people in the classroom act out, hoping to illicit a response from others. Often it works, distracting many from tasks at hand. There are pools of negativity everywhere we look. They have always existed, but the smaller the world becomes with the tools of social networking, the more aware we become of their existence. Social media consists of many students of the world. Some use global social media in an attempt to increase numbers in their angry crowds. Like follows like, but loud attracts the attention of many who have not yet formed strong consciences regarding issues presented; thus, it is a formula that, sadly, works.

When I hear, read, or witness words of hatred, I am inspired to react in two different ways. The first is to fall into the abyss, heat rising in my gut, evoking a primal urge to strike back. The second is to intercede and settle the matter, hoping against all odds that the terrible hate-filled events were mere misunderstandings. These are initial reactions, but both are far from practical responses.

Throw hatred in my path and even though I want to kick it out of the way, I have learned that’s like kicking a hornets nest, or trying to reason with a rattlesnake. But as a human, emotions must be respected, so I allow myself to experience the feelings of having been offended, and then I move in.

For me, the best way to accomplish this is to try to identify the source energy of the particular hatred involved, examining everything I discover from a philosophical perspective. Almost always hatred can be traced back to fear. Each of us shows our true colors by the words we choose to speak, by the banners we carry, the projects we begin and the arguments we end. To create something beautiful and beneficial does not require one to be a god, but a steward of positive intentions, deliberate actions, and unwavering focus. All that is needed to destroy is a carefully chosen word of dissent angrily spoken.

Words are powerfully constructive tools when used to build, but they are weapons of mass destruction when intended to destroy. Conflict cannot be avoided in life; for me, the goal isn’t to be giddy with hope or combatively defensive, but to counter the extremes in a spirit of generosity, choosing to use language fostered in the quiet, practical countenance of inner peace before speaking, or setting words to paper.

Throw a rock at my right eye; I will not offer my left as your next target. I will not throw another stone at you. I will not satisfy your cruelty with screams or tears. But I will look you in the eye and I will know you. I will see your weakness and your fear. I will maintain my peace, and the fact of knowing you as I will, shall weaken the hatred that propels you to do and say irrational things.

I cannot shout louder than an angry crowd, but wisdom and introspection will protect me from catching hatred’s demoralizing disease. There is a cure for hatred. To find it, we’ve only to look inside.

Image

When your heart takes over the show…

20 Jun

The signs were there.  But my bossy brain, as disciplined and intent as a Sumo wrestler assigned them to the wrong room, unwilling to admit she may have made a mistake.  When the body revolted causing a scene, the doctor was called, and well-intentioned-rationalizing-I-Can-Do-It-Myself-Sumo-Me was sent to detention hall where I’m trying hard to blend.

It is not asthma, the drain of wind from great sails; it is not the gut gone tight and bubbly in the gladiator coliseum of social and political riot.  No, it is the sweet, red pump that drives everything.

As often is the case in this world of doublespeak, the tests that had moments before been reported positive, coiled, rose and struck like a snake interrupting my happy dance; and the interpreter of medical lingo on the other end of the telephone, (her voice as calm and cool as a summer melon cut in half), explained that was bad news.

So now the road forks, one sign pointing toward doom, another toward freedom; but the third trail marked by the largest sign of all, its path rutted by the passage of thousands of determined feet.  This is the direction I have chosen, the sign marked Onward, with Hope and Determination.

On June 26th, at 10:30 in the morning, my body will join the long line of silver headed warriors lying on gurneys in front of the alter of stainless steel doors that are as cold as a gnat’s teat, watching through a veil of numbing drugs, as the doors swing open then close like jaws around the lives of the hopeful.  Just like a busy ice cream shop, or a government office, I’ve been assigned a number and will wait my turn for the Great Oz while my best friend/lover/husband grinds his teeth in another room the same way I’ve ground my own for him each time he has taken this trip.

 My heart is huge.  My heart is durable. My heart is not close to giving up.  I’ll be back soon.  You’ll see.

And PS, I love you all.