Tag Archives: Musings
Aside

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

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Naked Truth

20 Feb

Transparency is a popular word these days.  Along with buzz words like the War Against Women and Wage Inequality, transparency vies for a place of its own in competitive environments of media/politico/socio/economic Halls of Fame, pushing its agenda across a multitude of venues that are either frothing in glee or utter disdain at a seemingly never ending chain of bad human behavior.

The public need for vengeance and humiliation appears to have exploded like a watermelon packed with explosives as we sit mesmerized in our living rooms, or travel from place to place in the soft glow of cell phones, laptops, tablets and notebooks, or as we churn and steam over dinner plates prepared and consumed in front of television sets primed with intentionally choreographed entertain-o-news intended to evoke divisive rage.

In this kind of environment a transparency movement is inevitable, I believe, because something or someone must at least pretend to understand the plight of the little guys with their feelings of being misunderstood, maligned, oppressed, and dismissed.  Thus the transparency movement began calling out bigger boys like corporate greed, unemployment realities, the high and mighty1%; it began challenging assertions that America is a nation of takers, and that piss-poor- trickle-down economic policies will ultimately work.

Encouraged, transparency enthusiasts shifted gears until their tactics began to blur.  Soon it was impossible to distinguish one political machine from the other, and for simplicity’s sake, let’s just say two camps battle on, each raving over a litany of ill-will subjects such as Wall Street, political corruption, the Koch brothers, and a frightening epidemic of self-righteous foot in mouth diseased fools blubbering on and on about anything vaguely reproductive. Eventually, the pure idea turned into a loud, sometimes whiney movement nobly begun, dissolved in business as usual.

In spite of a resilient supply of pro-transparency advocates, the concept itself is not a well-practiced one.  It’s fairly obvious why politicians, bureaucrats, big money and traditional mass media shy away from exposing the truths of their deep pocket roots, but on one level or another, in spite of, or perhaps because of intensifying and intrusive traffic along social media highways, ordinary folks are beginning to take cover too.

We’re beginning to learn that there is a price to be paid for speaking up.  There is also the arrogant temptation that one’s strong personally-held opinions are so powerfully right-on that they should erase those of others who are equally sure they hold the key to what ails a nation.  There is the covert open door into our lives from sneaky powers that be.  There is the possibility that we’re never actually talking to the person we think we are.  There is a smoldering population of people waiting in fear or anger for a piece of ‘justice’.

All of this brings me to the point I’m trying to make: I have always struggled with the dichotomy of personal disclosure.  Is it better for the soul and the psyche to ‘put it all out there’, or will details and personal histories actually effect real change? And why should I believe my perceptions and philosophies might serve others as well as they have served me? And even if they do, who cares?

Even as I wrestle with the question, a grass root movement to drop off the grid and return to the privacy of the cave has begun.  New pioneers are stepping backward in time in monumental efforts to move forward.  Personally, I can relate to the voices that drive the wild herd deeper into the forests and mountains of anonymity.

It’s all a process.

I come from a long line of well-trained secret-keepers; breaking the habit is hard and painful.  It’s not so much that I love a happy ending, but more that I need one. On a personal level these past four years have been excruciating.  A long time ago I quit believing ‘everything is as it should be’ in spite of the fact that I’ve lost several New Age-y friends as a consequence. I remain steadfast, however, in my belief that there is something to be learned from each and every bit of bounty and crap that touches my life.  One might think I would be a master of wisdom by now, that in deed, we all would, but instead I find myself wrestling more and more every day with the demons of change and passing time.

I’ve chosen which side of transparency best suits me understanding that honoring that choice has cost me the warm, fluffy comfort of the old Pollyanna spirit that used to buffer and keep me safe from the great abyss.

In the past I’ve tempered each word with sugar and hope.  Not anymore.  Not now.  I’ve drawn a new line in the sand of the battlefields in my mind, and I’ve crossed.  It doesn’t matter who the hell I am, I have an opinion, and I refuse to stay captive to traditional boxes in spite of implied or absolute threats.

No magic parachutes or making nice anymore, my friends.  No spin, no bubbles, no unicorns or canned sappy endings.  All that remains in my hands after the blood has spilled through these fingers is the terrible, powerful girth and weight of my own true words.

 viking power 8 great

 

Observation in Grey: January

23 Jan

cedar waxwing 2

Low heavy sky.

Biting wind and bitter cold.

The emeralds and languid turquoise of

summer reduced to neutrals.

Inside this old house drafts refuse to be tamed.

From a window as cold to the touch as ice

I watch for a sign.

Atop thin tips of willowy branches in a barren bush

a Cedar WaxWing inspects a world stripped of nonessentials.

We are so close our eyes lock.

Each studies the other.

What are we looking for?

What do we hope to find?

Where is the thread that connects us?

Wind gusts, howls.

The ancient Magnolia bends in its breath.

From far away, a dirty plastic bag has filled with bluster and taken flight.

Now it rushes between the bird and me.

Cedar Wax Wing cocks his head, but doesn’t fly.

It’s a stare-down of epic proportions,

one animal exploring another,

each with needs,

each searching,

each starving to death to know.

©bss

Anticipating Change

28 Oct

Curving up West Mountain2

It’s dark and damp outside, the product of three drizzling days of lazy rain.  No thunder or drama, just the persistent mist of late autumn on the mountain, the last vestiges of a once brilliant floral floor falling in decay, while the canopy above explodes in blasts of impulsive color.  Crisp air carries the musky scent of wet soil as the temperature plunges, leaving the forest vulnerable to the stark nakedness that will soon follow.

All summer the woods expanded, reaching closer to my door, but now they are shrinking in a slow retreat that will widen the spaces between each magnificent tree and end, eventually, in the white silence of fallen snow.

These are the busy days; the squirrels are fat, darting in and out of hollows and thatched crevices with their jaws stretched to capacity with nuts and fallen fruit.  Foxes move deeper into their dens, and the light twilled sounds of songbirds are overcome by strong, scratchy notes coughed from the throats of crows and ravens.

The steady circadian hum that marked the onset of slow summer nights has been replaced with pure silence, broken occasionally by the howl of coyote in the distance, or the harsh, splitting assault of a poacher’s kill shot.

Black canvas skies feel deeper.  Stars, lit like votive candles, punctuate vast dark fields. And the intensity of light traveling for thousands and thousands of years emphasizes the emptiness above, accentuating constellations described by an array of mythical stories intended to remind us of our vulnerabilities to the wills and powers of the unknown.

images

Between night and rain, the most amazing clear days lend themselves to preparations for winter as I harvest and dry herbs from my gardens,collect seeds, trim baring bushes and fruit trees, cover thinning flower beds with fallen leaves, and thoughtfully redefine the perimeters of our home in anticipation of the uncertainties of the coming winter season.

Inside, I’m refinishing old furniture I’ve drug around for a lifetime and adding fresh paint to faded walls.  I’ve finished quilting my holiday quilt and look forward to hanging it on the walnut quilt holder Rich built for my displays several years ago.  I’m thumbing through old fall and winter cook books in search of comfort food recipes I can revamp and up-cycle into healthier versions of themselves in order to provide my family with sound nutrition that keeps the coziness and reassurance of traditional flavors.

I’m nearly manic in a nesting mode, yet more peaceful and happier than I can recall being for a very long time.  I’m paying attention to every detail in every moment and learning from mistakes I make along the way, but being kind to myself at the same time.

I’m feeling appreciative to this old body that has carried me through all the years of my life in spite of how badly or irresponsibly I treated it in younger times.  I would never dream of altering it, lifting, tucking, cutting off and throwing any part of it away in order to retain some silly semblance of youth.  For me, that would be an exercise in futility, and an insult to the organic process of being born, blossoming,  progressing, then fading and dying in a natural way.  I’ve tended the bedsides of too many hospice patients to waste my time holding on to surface matter, learning from their experiences that joy and satisfaction comes from living life well in the present moment, no matter its length or challenging circumstance.

I feel like a kid on Christmas Eve waiting for Santa because Rich is retiring, for good this time, at the end of December.  January 1st is kick-off day for our journey together through the Golden Years, no matter what they bring or impose.

on the front porch

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.

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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.

Contradictions in Place

17 May

Is it just me or is life full of contradictions?  The sweetest people I know have diabetes and can’t eat sweet things, those with the biggest, most generous hearts have heart disease, and the friendliest folks I’ve ever met, often are pretty lonely in everyday life.  Those with the biggest smiles have been forced to invest thousands in rotten teeth.  And some of funniest people in the world are depressed. 

I’m in a new phase.  I am the consummate observer these days, working like mad to detach myself from the prospect of falling into modern culture’s habit of discounting or discarding the elderly amongst us.  I’m in this phase as a matter of self-defense, being that I am one of the elderly amongst us these days. Populist judgment isn’t the only conceptual ideology I’m detaching from either; I’m dropping old wives tales, cultural mythology, political rancor, mainstream media and processed foods.  (Well, I’m giving that whole process food thingy my best shot anyway.)

I’ve been forced to reevaluate my life once again, (seems its a cyclical process), and as I enter that whole practice of introspection, I realize I’m in the autumn of my existence, but not to worry, fall has always been my favorite season, (followed by winter and spring.)  So I’m looking at it this way: I get  to spend, hopefully, years in my all-time favorite seasons!  Also, how apropos for a person like me who believes in an afterlife, that spring should follow winter’s death.

My mother is 86 years old.  She often tells me the Golden Years are hard and cold.  I hope not.  I’m personally expecting them to be the most introspective years of life.  I’m visualizing a quieter, slower time with a great deal of rocking in my favorite old black rocking chair, staring at the trees off my deck, and spending long hours in the peaceful solitude of quilting.  But the truth is, I don’t know what to expect, no one does. So, under these particular circumstances, the best thing I think I can do is to be aware and not waste precious time being frustrated.  I believe I can save myself a great deal of grief  by watching the signs along the way, because I know that everything is connected.  One thing leads to another, and that leads to fresh opportunities and change.  My observation that life is full of contradictions arose from my introspective space where I concluded a person can be so sweet or kind to others that he ends up giving pieces of himself away, never fulfilling his own need for sweetness, and out of a sense of exigency or self-preservation, his body responds; his pancreas slowing, or simply shutting down.  Maybe the same can be said of one who has dealt with a broken heart, or the person who continually helps others, but never asks for help himself. 

I know this is the truth: the earth is changing.  I see it in the woods where I live.  I see it in the animals here.  We are all part of this good earth, an extension of naturalness under assault.  I can live with as small of a carbon footprint as is personally possible, but I cannot change the velocity of world-speed, or the stealth-like consequences of progress. Still, I have power; I can observe and consider paths chosen and paths ignored, and I can add those observations to the well of learned wisdom I share with others.

My bones are tired; they are swollen and sore from a life full of activity.  Still, they press on.  The person with the greatest heart I have ever known is my husband, Richard.  He has persistent heart disease.  Rick and I met and married in 2003.  I thought our love would heal him.  What it did was make him stronger and more determined to do the right thing for himself. I can’t list everything marrying Richard has done for me; there’s not enough paper in the world, but his love saves me everyday.  

I recently shared my life philosophy with a blogger friend of mine, telling her I approach every day as if it is a vacation day.  No matter how busy I am, no matter how many tasks must be completed, I’m off the clock!  On vacation, you give yourself time to rest, time to heal and regroup before stepping back into the real world.  Vacation is my real world.  I have permission to sit out a day, or a week, or a month, whatever I need because  I give it to myself.  And I watch the signs, follow the trails and mysterious hints nature gives.

Today it is overcast outside, drizzling rain, cool, crisp breeze;  a day best spent tending to inside things … like sitting on the covered deck blowing bubbles.   

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Whoo! Hoo! Super Duper Sweet Blogging Award

5 May

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You can imagine my surprise!  How great is this?  Recognition from peers is a beautiful thing that inspires, encourages, and affirms we are heading in the right direction!  Now it’s my turn to shine a light on others.  Please take time to explore the blogs below; if you do, I guarantee you’ll walk away knowing a little bit more about the world, others and yourself.

Rules to this award are:

1. Thank the Super Sweet Blogger who nominated you

Mind On the Loose is an amazing woman who inspires us with stories reflecting the history and traditions of her family, her hopes and passions, and a litany of on-going and revolving projects. Her curiosity about the ever-changing science of electronics is quite impressive to a technologically-challenged admirer such as myself. Mind On the Loose provides a welcoming community setting for anyone looking for a place to share.  I hope you visit her soon.

This is the first time I have been nominated for a blogging award, and it’s name fits so well, not because I’m sweet, but because Sweet is my maiden name!   So, many,many thanks to Sabrina, whose mind is on the loose, for including me in this award.  I’m so happy we’re friends, but we most likely would never have even met if it were not for WordPress!

2. Answer five super sweet questions: The 5 sweet Questions are: 

  • Cookies or Cake?     Cookies! (mostly)
  • Chocolate or Vanilla?     Chocolate!
  • Favorite Sweet Treat?     Italian Cream Cake! (Neither chocolate nor cookie, whoops!)
  • When do you crave Sweet Things the most?     3:00 (PM and AM!)
  • Sweet Nick Name?     ittyMac, a combo of maternal and paternal grannie’s nick names: IttyBitty and MissMac.

3. Include the Super Sweet Blogging award image in  your blog post  (See above)

4. Nominate a baker’s dozen (12) other bloggers

Here, we go!  I’m following Sabrina’s example of giving you an idea of what sort of content you’ll find in the blogs I’ve nominated to share this amazing sweet prize!

The Empathy Queen – is a sincere, sometimes heart wretching journey through life and all that means. Pure, straight up honesty and amazing candor expressed humorously, punctuated, when least expected, by a precise and smooth sense of irony.

Humoring the Goddess – Back from a blogging hiatus, this funny, relevant blogger takes a swing at aging in a fast forward world continually changing.  This blog is a wild, fun ride you won’t regret taking!

Meganhasocd, The War in my Brain – A tug-a-war some days, a sail boat ride across a placid lake on others, The War in my Brain delivers a hard message softly, and with humor that always leaves me thinking; which, I believe, is exactly Megan’s intention.

Foreignly – Enlivening Dreams – is written by a student sharing his “ideas about various subjects ranging from humanities to science, but mainly on personal development…”  I think this is a very interesting blog, and being able to communicate with a young person on the other side of the planet is just too cool.

South of Where – is a blog I have only recently explored.  I found it while reading a response comment on an unrelated blog.  It was stumbling into treasure, for me.  At first, I thought I could see my own life in her words, but later I realized it is the author’s perspective that makes hers special to me.

Kmosullivan – is an advocate for women and setting socio-economic, cultural and community bars higher.  I’m drawn to the author’s use of humor and current events, and always enjoy the personal stories Kelly shares.

Writings of a Mrs – is the journey we follow as a woman works through the process of achieving her dream to make writing a profession.  Family photographs, poetry and personal musings bring us along for the ride!

Forgiving Dreams – thoughts on life and living the dream – covers a myriad of subject matter ranging from current events to spiritual musings.  This blog is where living  a Sustainable Green Lifestyle intersects, nicely, I might add, with the fast paced challenges and changes of Corporate World.

World’s Worst Moms – Well, if the blog name was actually intended to represent the truth, I’d have to be the first one to say, “I want one of those!”  Humorous, serious, relevant.

Cranky Caregiver – Grandma says – cracks me up!  If I could take life on like Grandma does, I’d have a lot more pep in my step!  Funny, fun and accurate.

Jenny Kissed Me – JeGlatter  This blog takes me into the space in my head that poets share with both the splendor and the abysses that are part of celebrating and surviving a deeply introspective life.  Her words are so fluid, it feels like I’m swimming.  She is great, not good.

Second Half Woman – follows the journey of a single woman exploring the second half of her life and sharing with gorgeous photography, poetry and personal musings along the way.

5. Notify your nominees on their blog

There; all done!  Thanks again, Mind on the Loose!

The Freya Principle

14 Feb

In the Wizard of Oz, Dorothy found herself dropped from the sky into a strange and unfamiliar land after a terrible storm.  When my inner hussy bullied her way into my world, I could certainly relate.  The realization that my good princess days had ended in the snap of painted fingernails, was both shocking and intriguing.  The truth is there was never any good princess days in my life, only my illusion of such nonsense, to which I’d clung with serious tenacity.  Shaking myself loose from the fairy tale wasn’t easy.

Before I could cure the darkness, I had to understand the light and its power.  I needed to figure out how to access that power, and what I was supposed to do with it.  I had to untangle miles of jumbled cable lines that short circuited the way I’d approached anger, hiding it inside, repressing its fury, refusing to acknowledge its presence in any way, and allowing that vicious cycle to fester into subtle self-loathing that over time, manifested as depression.

The problem was me, but not me in the way others believed.   No fundamental flaw existed; I was not the walking soap opera I appeared to be.  Slowly I began to understand I’d wasted a great deal of time trying to meet the expectations of others without having a clear vision of what I wanted, what was important to me. By the time I figured this out, I was alone.  I can’t say that was something I’d counted on, but in hindsight, it needed to happen.

This particular phase of my life was deliberate, filled with intention and ritual.  One of the rituals I enjoyed was Friday night at Barnes and Noble, where I’d cruise the aisles in search of literary wood to stoke the fires of inner growth.  On one such occasion, I found myself seated on the worn carpet between Women’s Issues, Psychology, and New Age books, each vying for attention.  My hand brushed against the spine of a book about Norse Mythology on the bottom shelf.  Without thinking, I picked it up.  The pages fell open, revealing words I needed to read under the chapter heading: Freya, Goddess of Sex, Beauty, and War.  A black ink illustration portrayed the Goddess’ likeness, an angular woman with fiery eyes as sharp as swords, content in her anger, giving an impression of pride and intimidation and sexual confidence.

Again, my eyes settled on words waiting for them in a short tale that recalled Freya and her desire to possess a brooch she had admired in a silver smith’s window.  It was incredibly detailed, catching sunlight and sparkling like diamonds.  Freya was a Goddess used to getting what she wanted, and she wanted that brooch.  Entering the shop, she was greeted by a horrible little man, bent and knotted.  He was a dwarf, but misshapen as he was, he might as easily been confused with a troll.

Freya told the man she wanted the brooch in the window.  He replied it was not for sale.  His adamancy drove her desire.  The shop owner told Freya the only way she would ever own the brooch was if she agreed to sleep with him and his three brothers.  The thought disgusted Freya, but she was a woman who knew what she wanted.  The dwarf’s terms were nonnegotiable.  Freya considered her options: walk away from the treasure she wanted, or have sex with four disgusting, little men. 

The following night, the Goddess of Sex ,Beauty, and War went to the dwarfs’ home where she proceeded to meet the terms of their agreement.  Freya won possession of the jewel she longed for, and in the process, learned an important lesson.  In the days that followed, Freya could be heard bragging to the Gods about her adventure, telling them the four brothers had been the most magnificent lovers she had ever had.

I closed the book, dubbing the story, “The Freya Principle”.  The moral of the mythological story was multilayered.  First, we must know exactly what it is that we want.  Then we must come to terms with what we will sacrifice in order to achieve the goal of acquisition.  Sometimes that boils down to your best bet.  Sometimes that boils down to a matter of trust.  Sometimes it requires a leap of faith. But details of the unknown are always sketchy, that’s why we fear change as much as we do.  Staying in a familiar situation feels safer than gambling on the unknown, although change always facilitates awareness.

Second, we cannot make assumptions based on visual perceptions alone.  We need to go deeper into ourselves and the circumstance that confronts us.  The goal isn’t the destination; it truly is the journey. 

Third, last, but not least, conquering our fear in pursuit of inner growth is rewarded many times over by unexpected pleasures we experience along the way. 

Once I’d made my decision to redefine my life in spite of my fear of the uncertainty of change, I’d taken the first step that was the first of many to follow.  Whenever I wobble, my mind carries me back to that night at Barnes and Noble, reminding me how important it is to keep my eye on the prize and to search through all the surface debris of any situation for its greater, intended content.   And then to have the courage to apply it to my own life.

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When someone comes to mind, let them in!

26 Jan

When someone comes to mind, let them in; sit with them.  Try to understand why they have appeared.  Pay attention to the way you feel.  Get out a pencil.  Make a series of dots from the message in  your brain, to the face in  your mirror.  Connect them, and let them live.

Lately I’ve been thinking about a girl from high school.  It happens from time to time, I think about her; she’s like a left over shadow from the past, tugging at my sleeve, not letting go.  Joyce and I were never friends, and I can’t recall if she had any, but surely, she did.  I must have been too busy trying to be cute to notice; I must have been too bored by lunch when she would enter the cafeteria seemingly without moving her feet, but gliding on a cushion of air, her water-blue-liquid eyes searching for an empty chair.

She made me uncomfortable because she made me aware.  It was as if she moved in slow motion, her hands so deliberate I ached to reach across the desk that separated us in English, and slap them silly, make them hustle, respond, claim a larger, stronger place in the space she filled; but of course, I did nothing.

Joyce moved too slowly to finish class assignments.  She didn’t look like the average dumb kid; there was a certain air about her, an innocence, really.  I don’t know why, but each time I see her in my mind’s eye, she is wearing a blue dress with a white Peter Pan collar, with pearl seed buttons splitting her chest in two equal planes with budding breasts, breasts the size of a girl in the seventh grade, not a senior ready to burst apart the world with her bare hands.  No, Joyce’s hands weren’t strong enough, and too white, to burst anything apart.  And she was too slow, like molasses pushing up the trunk of a tree, trying to reach the tiny, green leaves on the top branches, but pooling instead, close to the place where the roots disappear, deep in dark earth.

I remember watching Joyce write on a clean piece of notebook paper; it was like watching someone complete a ritual or say a prayer.  With her left hand, she smoothed the length of the paper as if checking its surface for dust or palpable imperfections.  After she’d satisfied herself that nothing was there, no inhibitors to the strength of imagination, no deterrents to concise, clear thought or written language, she ceremoniously placed her left hand on the outermost portion of the upper left side of the page, and deliberately, as if getting ready to draw one perfect note, placed the tip of her Lindy Pen on the first blank line on the blank page.  Each letter she formed was a labor of art or love, or perhaps the act of a blind woman climbing Mt. Everest, unsure of each step, but pushing ever so cautiously ahead.

There was part of me that could relate to this strange girl, like a seed pushing out of its pod, sprouting new growth but on top of the ground, roots, never forming.  And tiny leaves unfurling, stretching skyward in search of solid ground, not realizing it was reaching in the wrong direction, not understanding that one is born with his roots in the ground, or one is not; not recognizing that one can walk, at the end of his life, through a cemetery recalling aloud the history of his clan, or one can be cremated, set loose in the wind because he never found his place in the soil of the earth.

Joyce and I shared the same mirror, one moving slowly, the other rushing; both trying to fit in.  The day the principal interrupted fifth period to announce Joyce’s death in the same voice he used to announce pep rallies and bake sales, the pit of my stomach rose to the back of my throat.  He said Joyce died in a car wreck, and he told us he knew we would miss her, and that we should all be very careful driving home that afternoon.  His words were secret code; every girl in the room caught the gaze of every other, and soon we were nodding in unison.  The boys never caught on, except perhaps the one whose sweet words  had left Joyce so few options.

Several times a year, we’d lose a friend to the nightmare of a Home for Unmarried Pregnant Girls where keeping your child was unheard of.  The shame and humiliation, the double standard razor wire, was simply too much for some girls.  Losing our chance for an education made an already impossible situation even worse.  So while boys got a nod for sowing wild oats, girls were sent packing in shame, our lives interrupted forever…because who ever really recovers from such a thing?

Joyce, the deliberate, pale girl who was not my friend has come to my mind again today, reminding me why it is important to remember her name, and her story.  Joyce is the cross burning in all of our yards, screaming for justice that never came, not in her life, and perhaps, not even in mine. Time is turning in on itself; already women in several states have lost control over decisions concerning the healthcare of their own bodies, in spite of battles previously won to ensure such choices are kept personal.  Zealots are pointing angry fingers in our faces.  State Congresses are punishing us with unnecessary invasive procedures for making choices that do not align properly with religious ideology.  And politicians are opening the car doors for Joyces’ all over the United States, handing them the keys.

Part of me hates that Joyce is visiting again; but I suppose she feels quite strong about what’s happening these days.  So I’ll sit with her for a little while, and share her story with you.