Tag Archives: choices

My dad

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In a couple of months my father will turn 81.  My father, a Navy vet who served his country, sent home money to his parents to help raise his younger siblings.  He is one of six children, the second oldest.

He and my mother had five children together.  Their oldest, my sister Karen, took ill at the age of six with meningitis. From that diagnosis she spent months in a coma, came out of it with the ability to only move her eyes. Intensive rehab brought her back from that, but she started seizing, (Seizure disorder) having numerous grand mal seizures a day, which reared her paralyzed on her left side, unable to speak, walk. The seizures slowly and continually kept taking from her.

My father became an apprentice, and learned to be an incredible carpenter.  He did this so that he could build a home for us.  He (and my mother) built two beautiful homes. He worked more hours in one week then I’ve probably ever put into a job in a month, and I don’t consider myself lazy.  A very meticulous carpenter, and a house filled with four other children, weekend runs to pick up my sister and bring her home and back, proved difficult for everyone, including Karen.  The more seizures my sister had, the more it took from her.   I cannot imagine having a child and having such an awful thing happen to her.  I cannot imagine what it must have been like having made the decision to turn your very ill and medically needy daughter over to the ward of the state.   I remember judging my parents.  Asking them “If I get sick, will you send me away, too?”   Now I cringe at the very thought of asking that.  I cringe at the slightest thought that they could have chosen better.  Who the hell am I to ask such a question?   How much their hearts must have hurt.  But responsibility of four other children, and having worked night and day to pay off medical bills that today would have been covered by insurance, my parents made a difficult choice.  A choice that I believe was right for Karen.  A choice that I now believe gave me and my siblings, a more “normal” life.  If you can define normal.

My father has a wonderful sense of humor.  My whole family does, really.    And no matter whose company I am in, it is with my family that the laughter is the strongest, loudest.   I learned at a very young age that laughter heals.

My father became a plumbers apprentice and then went on to work for a company who sent him (foreman) and his crew many hours away, which they drove back and forth each day.  My father made a good living.  We always had a balanced nutritious meal on the table, a warm bed to sleep in and even “space” of our own.  We never needed for anything, and were taught that it was because of my fathers hard work, that we had the good life we had.    We also were taught that we lived in the best country in the world, and that our freedom is due to the many men (and now women) who served our country, many whom never made it home.  It’s sort of ironic how the man who gave most of his life to a job for his family, had at one point became invisible, absent.  But working for this company enabled him to give his children a good life, a good start.   His absence was only because he was working to give us this.  The company didn’t appreciate him.  They offered his little for pension.  But he kept going, day after day, for his family.  I know not how to live so selflessly.

He was our loudest fan at softball games, my brothers hockey games.   I always knew I was loved, and while I didn’t agree or like some decisions he made, including ending a 27 year marriage to my mother, I humbly have long since realized, I have no right to judge him or her on that, either.  What do I know about

He and my youngest sister, Darlene, were particularly close.   He admitted to the three of us remaining children last year “Okay, okay, Darlene was my favorite!”   He looked at us like it was an awful thing to say, only to find the three of us bent over laughing.   No shit, Sherlock!   The truth is, they were great buds.  They fished together, they did so much together.  It is nice to look at pictures of the two of them together.   The way Dad looked at her, she was “it”!   And this is not to imply he doesn’t love us, or look at us with swelling pride.   They had something very special.     I remember sitting next to my sister when she made the phone call to dad to tell him that her cancer treatment wasn’t working.  She said “I’m so sorry dad”.    I recall a conversation she and I had, one of our last and she said “You know Donna, he came to every ball game of mine”.  She was talking about after my parents split.  “He would get there late from work, but he always came”.   I am teary eyed thinking about her smile when she said that.  For whatever he didn’t do right (you know what I mean), being her loyal, faithful fan made it ALL right.  My sister was an old soul.  There was and would never be any jealousy there.  She was ALL OF OUR favorite.

I’ve spent a lot of time reminiscing of late.     I do not know what it is like to be my dad.    I know what it is like to watch him age, lose physical and mental strength.  I sometimes have to look away so he doesn’t see my tears.  And yet, I know how very fortunate I am that at the age of 53, I still have both my parents.

I always thought I knew it all.   And for a long time I chased “his approval” foolishly.   That ended about a decade ago when I was unpacking my van, having been travel teaching.  He was helping me.  I pulled out a new painting and he looked at it, didn’t say anything, just looked.    I was tired, disappointed that he didn’t respond the way I wanted him to.  “Am I EVER going to do anything that makes you proud?”  I said with the sharpness of a razor.  I will never forget his expression.   His jaw lay on his chest.  It was that very moment I learned, my dad would probably never shower me with the compliments the way I once wanted him to, but he was proud of me.  And the chip I had on MY shoulder that day, hurt my dad.   “Of course I’m proud of you, Donna.  I love your artwork, I think you are very talented and I’m proud of all of my children.”   I have not, nor will I ever again question his pride for me.     I am SO over judging my parents on anything.  Thank God!   And now, I am working on doing the same for myself.   The crap we get into our heads!  It’s static!    It’s all just frigan static!

It’s funny as I age and realize just what an ass I have been in my life.  I’ve put my parents through some major worry, particularly when it comes to depression and mental illness.  I remember my second hospitalization.  My sister was with me at the phone.  She had brought me a teddy bear, I named him “Arthur”.  I think I was 24.   “Dad, I need to tell you that I’m in the Brattleboro Retreat.   I am getting help for my depression”.   “You have to pull yourself up by your boot straps Donna!”.   Of course I took that wrong, and he, being the age group that he was, wasn’t as educated on mental illness as he is now, 30 years later.     I was so hurt and angry.   Now I know, in HIS head and heart he was fearful.   My father “pulled himself up by his boot straps” over and over and over his entire life, to give to his children.    His heart, his head spoke from his experience in life, to hide the fear he had of what I would or have done to myself.  He wasn’t judging.  He was saying the only thing he knew to do!

I’m not sure why it’s taken me all these years to figure out how intelligent both my parents were and are.  And as I watch them losing ground, I am fearful of losing them.    I’ve been single for over a decade now.   My dad has always been there for me, to help me in any and all ways he can.   “I’m sorry, Donna, that I was focused on your brother’s education, and not yours.   I ignorantly thought that you girls would be taken care of, in marriage”.      There was once a time, and probably too long a period of time, that it angered me that I was raised with this mentality.  That the only way I would have a home is to have a husband.   But that has long since passed.   I am responsible for my choices.  I am responsible for marrying children, two of them!  I am responsible for where I am in my life.   If I had to do it all over again, I would have sought out college.   I know I could have made better choices for myself, could be financially secure, but I’ve also come to realize that even that isn’t as important as being a good person.   Doing my best, day in and day out, and living within the morals that I was raised and were taught.    The day I bought my house out from my ex-husband was one of the proudest days of my life.  I AM responsible.   I AM who I am because of the stable childhood I was blessed with, I learned the importance of family, and while I have no children or even husband of my own, I sometimes think about how difficult it is to keep my head above water.   I take pride in caring for and giving my animals a wonderful home.   And that is NOTHING compared to what my dad gave.    I am the strong woman I am today BECAUSE of my experiences.    I understand, now, why at the age of 30 when my 10 year marriage ended, how come that was so hard for me.  Because I felt like I was nothing without someone.    Oh my god have I grown.  Thank God!    And for all the things I thought my mom or dad did wrong, they did TWENTY TIMES that right!

I’ve watched my parents bury two daughters, their oldest and their youngest.  No parent should have to bury a child, but sadly, well, too many do.  I’ve watched both my parents battle cancer, and seen the anguish and hell it brought them to watch their three remaining children battle it too.     My dad has not had an easy life.  Like all of us if he had it to do over again, I’m sure he would have made some different choices, but my dad?  He’s only human.   My dad has led a good, honest life.  He knows what it is like to work hard for your family, to start over, and he will always remain “our father” in worry for his children.  My dad, what a great human he is!  He is visiting with my sister right now in NC.  I know he chose fathers day visit to mask the fact that I am his new favorite!   🙂

I have been blessed in life with an honorable man as my dad.  He really is my hero.    I am very grateful that I have had 53 years with my dad.   I am the good person I am today largely due to the good person my dad is.  Thank you dad.  I love you and you will always be my hero, and I, your little girl.

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No longer is there a sense of hopelessness…..

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As U2’s “With or without you” is playing in the background, I am thinking about a conversation I had with a friend earlier.    It takes incredible courage (in my opinion) to open up your heart to love.   As with anything, there are absolutely no guarantees, and I have learned the hard way that there is no security in a relationship, in a marriage.   I remember when that “trust”, that “innocence” was broken with me.   10+ years into a marriage for him to end it with a woman 16 years his junior.   Today I could not care less, he did me a huge favor, but at the time I dramatically felt like my life was over…. far from it.

Sometimes when I am lonely I think about what it would be like to meet someone, to fall in love, after all, single life has it’s ups and downs.   I remember a line out of “When Harry Met Sally”…..forgive me if I don’t get this correctly, I’m rusty…  Sally and her (old) boyfriend don’t want children or commitment because they could have sex wherever they wanted… in the kitchen…etc., and then one point in the movie she said “But the thing is, we never DID have sex in the kitchen, or any of the places we said we could!”   Ultimately learning that he didn’t want to marry her and her probably not being fully honest with herself.   At any rate, single life, I can do whatever I want, when I want.  I can paint until the wee hours of the morning, I can leave messes and clean them up later, on and on and on.  While these things are true, and I enjoy the freedom of such, it doesn’t make up for someone holding your hand, sharing time together. 

One seminar I taught this year I asked a group of approximately 20-25 women how many were single and lived alone, and was shocked to find 3/4’s of the room raise their hands.  I guess there is nothing special about my singlehood!  

In a conversation with a friend recently I shared about loneliness.   I shared how I have to keep myself busy, or my mind heads to dark places, places in which I shouldn’t nor can allow myself to go.   Just like years, decades ago when I thought my life was over when my marriage ended, today I shake my head and laugh at that.   Of course it didn’t help that he was threatening to sell the house on me…believe it or not, I was a sliver of the person I am today, experience gave me that.   But then I would sit in my spot, like a good wife, waiting for him to decide if he was coming home or not.   My girlfriend, Janice said to me one day “How long are you going to do this, Donna?”   My answer?  “As long as I need to do this”.  It was only a couple months after that when I stood up for myself, realized he couldn’t sell the house out from under me because my name was on it!   Fuck you!   I started to fight back, to fight for my life, I didn’t know which direction I was or wanted to go, but I had valuable knowledge.   I knew where I DIDN’T want to go!   I was done being a door mat.   I remember very well the day I went to my ex-husband’s employment where both he and his girlfriend worked.  I asked to speak to him.  He came out, looked at me with anger, an attitude of “how dare I come to his place of employment?”   The only words I had to say to him were…. “I want a divorce!”   Man did that feel good!    Well, after that for several weeks he started finding excuses to stop by the house, etc., but it was too late.  Go with your little girl, go away, leave me be.   I started to be proactive with my life, I quit my job with reasonably good pay, went to a job at minimum wage which was $6 an hour.  I didn’t care.  I was starting over and I wanted to entertain, to try my hand at living a creative existence, believing in the talents that time allowed me only to do a few hours a week, or month.  After all, married life is different from singles life.   Now I eat when I want, then that wasn’t “allowed”.   Yes, when I think about how controlled I was, allowed myself to be I can no longer identify with that person.   As I started to break outside of his “safe circle” the marriage started to disintegrate.   I started to design in needlecraft for Leisure Arts & McCall’s and because I was working full time, too, and the majority of our marriage carried the insurance, I was tired of being told that I didn’t need television, although when he wanted to watch a football game I can remember how he went out of his way to fix the antenna so it came through for him.   My first royalty check was $2,400.  I took it upon myself to go and order, buy, a large satellite dish.  (Remember them?)   Eight years living without cable surely wasn’t the end of the world, but it was something I wanted….. so I got it!  This, however, was the beginning to the end.

When I think back on that time I cringe.   Poor Jim, the next and last serious relationship I had, paid the piper for the “sins” of his predecessor.    No one, particularly a man, was going to tell me what I could or couldn’t do!   He caught on quickly though and now as I look back on that, with a smile on my face, I realize he used reverse psychology on me.  Too funny.

I used to worry about what would become of me?  Where would I end up as I age?   I am already feeling physical limitations on what I once was able to do in taking care of my house.   I never planned to be single in my 50s, but hey, there are much worse things that could happen.   I think about the Golden Girls, when they first started the series I believe they were in their 50’s.    My best friend and I have a pact that we will live together, perhaps her sister, and whomever else.  The plan is to get a house big enough where each of us have our own bedroom, sitting room, bathroom, and we would share kitchen quarters.    Hey, futures have a way of falling down in midflight, perhaps that will never happen but I do know, wherever I end up, I will be okay.    I have “started over” a couple times in my life, I can take care of myself.  That doesn’t mean I am anti men.  Truly not, but I believe in myself today in ways I never thought I could or would ever. I pursued a career in teaching decorative painting.  While I cannot and will never be able to say I am the most paid, or the most popular, that is okay.  I have accomplished what I had set out to do and that was to be a national teacher.  I knew I could do it, and I did it.   I am not only a strong woman, a survivor, but I am a determined one!    I will be okay!

One positive about having some crappy painful things happen is that you learn what is and isn’t important in life.   I no longer live in the fear that I once did.  I no longer worry about what tomorrow will bring, as I know I will do my best, and what will be, will be….. Okay, sing with me “The futures not ours to see….”     I will be okay.

So, the point of this share today I guess is to start believing in ourselves.   Drop the fear, the nervousness about the unknown, pick one thing you want to do for yourself and do it.    I have chosen my next journey which I will begin in January with a girlfriend and frankly, I’m excited about it.

Hey, I may have a small home, drive an older jeep, but I love my jeep!  And I love my home!   I also love (for the most part) what I do for work, when I am able to work.  I’m a pretty fortunate woman.  God has been good to me, but it didn’t come easily, nor without hard work.   This year I started to look at my accomplishments and realized… Wow!   I did what I wanted to do!  When exactly did that happen?  It just happens with perseverance, baby steps.   Jeff Olson speaks of consistency, this man has made companies trillions and trillions of dollars with that one principal.  Keep showing up!  

I shall now retire to the warmth of my bed, fight with my animals for a comfortable spot to sleep.   I hope I get a good nights sleep, but if I don’t, I will survive.  Tomorrow I will get up and do the best I can of what is in front of me, that is all anyone can ask of me, that is all I can ask of myself.    It will be more than good enough because I will give it my all one more day.   Gratitude, that I can, mentally, physically, gratitude that I am where I am and unlike many New Englander’s tonight, I have power, heat.   Many are without due to an ice storm.  Gratitude, gratitude, it truly is an attitude!

Sweet sheeps!

Just do it…..

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With my jeans cutting at my waist, I took another bite out of the Dunkin Donuts I was eating… YES, INSANE… and thought to myself “I need to lose weight.  I repeated it as I slurped it down with a Coolatta…”I need to lose weight”.

I am my own worst enemy, I think we all are.  I know I would be independently wealthy if I could come up with a formula, a way to get so many of us out of the nasty cycle of “Knowing and not doing”.   I get inspired or motivated for a couple days, then it disappears as the sweets pass through my digestive system. 

Beating myself up doesn’t work, it only serves to rear me more poundage!   I definitely have that one down.  So… what?   What is it going to take to stop me from eating compulsively?   I have come to view addiction entirely different than I once did.   I know what it is like to not be able to stop, being out of control with a substance, mine being food.  Frankly, it sucks.

When I turned 50 I felt like a million bucks.  I had lost weight, was exercising…at 52 I am once again fighting the battle of the bulge.   I have acknowledged where I am, I’m not happy with myself, but I am also not going to make it my New Years Resolution to lose weight.  It’s NOT happening.   My New Years resolution may differ slightly, but it will always be “obtain and maintain peace and serenity”.   Huh, I guess feeling good about my physical self certainly can play a part in that, right?

I have an eating disorder.  I have had one since I was 15.   I will not share the manner in which I lose control, I will however share with you the thought process that powers this.  So many (too many to write), I will number them or bullet them.

1.  I walk into a room and peruse the room.  Am I the fattest in the room?  On the plane?  In a restaurant?

2. Well, maybe THESE jeans will look good on me….

3. Is this outfit thinning?

4. What am I going to eat for lunch (as I take my last bite of breakfast)?

5. Why can’t I be normal?  I look at thin people and watch them, watch them eat, watch what they do… Why can’t I be one of “them”?

6. Okay, I’m going to put some Velcro on the ceiling of my bedroom , that way when I jump off the bed to fit into these jeans my hair will stick and it will remind me to eat well that day!

7.  What are they thinking?  How fat and unattractive I am?

8.  I don’t want this person, or that person to see me, I don’t want ANYONE to see me….. isolation

9. If I lose this weight….. fill in the blanks with ANYTHING!   I will feel better, I will look better, My refrigerator will smell better…. yada yada…   Everything “good” is contingent on my losing weight.

10.  Well, I’ve already blown in this morning, I might as well eat what I want today, tonight.

11.  I can’t go here… or there…. I’ve got nothing to wear and….I don’t want anyone to see me

12.  I must be premenstrual, you know, bloating  (It has been 12 years since I menstruated).  YES too much info….. Laugh with me

13.  I’ll start tomorrow

14.  Well, I didn’t get french fries with my order, I’m eating better!

15. Always looking for the magical outfit that makes me feel good about myself, makes me like how I look….

16. I need to take my scale in for an alignment…. it’s off

17.  If I could eliminate the stress in my life, I would get thin

18.  I use food to cope

19.  I can’t help myself

20.  If I can eat ___________ one more time, I’ll be happy.    (Ate it everyday that week)

21.  Is what I am ordering to eat suggesting to dinner guests that I overeat?

22.  I don’t want to do anything today, I just want to put on my comfortable sweats and hide from the world.

23.  If I have eggnog in the fridge it will help me get out of bed tomorrow morning.

24.  The damn dryer…. !

25.  Pretty up the face, throw on the jewelry…. I look good!

26. But my mother doesn’t make these pies often…and what if she dies and I can’t ever eat them again? Go ahead… LAUGH It is hysterical!

27. I’m just not meant to  be thin

28.  Thin is a four letter word

29.  I can’t afford to buy healthy foods

30. “Do I look okay?”

Okay, I’m going to stop there simply because I could go on all night.  I can come up with 1000 thoughts that go through my head on this topic weekly.   I understand, now, the alcoholic, the drug addict, the sex addict…who cannot stop.    I am a food addict. 

Here are some things that I have learned this year.  (Yes, this year)

1. I am ALWAYS the fattest girl in the room, on the plane, in a restaurant… because that is all I see for myself

2. There is not any pair of jeans that will make me feel thin

3. There is no outfit that will ever make me look as thin as I want to be unless I am thin wearing it!

4.  I am driven by food.   I live to eat, not eat to live

5. It is up to me to make choices that will help me get thin and stay thin.   Sure, someone else may have the benefit of a faster metabolism but that isn’t all that keeps them healthy.

6.  I weight too much for the Velcro to hold me up off the floor

7.  Looking anywhere else but within myself is not going to feed my soul.  It doesn’t matter what anyone thinks.  Someone can think I’m as wonderful as chocolate (notice the reference) but unless I feel good about myself, it means bo diddley.

8.   I don’t want anyone to see me, and I don’t want to be held accountable for my choices (in food)

9.   Here’s the deal….  If I make my happiness all contingent on being thin I will never find true happiness

10. Okay, so I screwed up this morning.   I can get on track at lunchtime, or I can eat the thousand pounds of candy and gain more

11.  I have a whole closet of clothes that I can no longer wear.  I refuse to buy new clothes.  I have maybe 8-10 articles of clothing I can wear right now.   Perhaps this will “help motivate me”….. Please, I look to everything to motivate me….  NO!  I don’t have appropriate clothes, so I cannot go!

12.  Menopause….deal with it baby!

13. I will start right now.  I will set a date and get excited to begin that day

14.  The only thing truly healthy to eat at McDonalds, Wendy’s or Dunkin Donuts is nothing!

15. There is NO magical outfit that will make me look and FEEL the way I want to feel unless I am thin….. PERIOD!

16. I do not need to know how much I weigh, but I do need accountability.   Someone ELSE weigh and measure me??????

17.  Hmmm how do I eliminate stress?  Divorce, murder….?

18.  I may think that food helps me cope, but it doesn’t.  It is a myriad.  I use food to “escape”

19.  I CAN help myself, I am the only one who can…. what will I do first?

20.  Deprivation only leads to bingeing

21.  Ummmm, I can order a salad and diet soda and it is MY WEIGHT that is going to give me away, not what I eat in front of someone!

22.  I want to participate in my life, in society…

23.  Eggnog WILL inspire me to get out of bed in the morning…. and go back after indulging!

24.  My pants, my sleeves are shorter because I am heavier…. FACT

25.  There is a difference between wearing jewelry or makeup because I like it, and wearing it to hide behind it.

26.  Um…. Stocking up (in eating pies) now will not get me thin later….

27.  I can be thin, I have to make changes for that to happen

28.  FAT may not be a 4 letter word but it is one powerfully negative word, noun

29.  I either pay now (good food) or later (doctors)

30.  Of course my family and friends aren’t going to say “You look like shit, your gut is hanging over your jeans, by the way, nobody wears white socks anymore, you need a gps to find your third chin.

Humorously written, sadly true.  My thoughts are consumed with food, fat.    I remember when I had lost 30 lbs was on my way to being thin (which I did achieve, but didn’t maintain) I couldn’t believe how much time I had by not THINKING about or wishing I was thin!  The truth is, it is very hard to motivate ourselves, to find inspiration to give up what brings us comfort, what tastes good.   There is no magic pill, vitamin, outfit, one thing that we will not gain from!  

I want to lose weight because my knees hurt, because I want to feel better about myself, because I want to look better, because I want to be healthier, because I love myself………………………………………………..”JUST DO IT” -Nike…….

 

 

 

The warmest glow

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I have just spent the past few hours painting the UGLIEST ornaments ever.   I kept hanging in there “keep going, you’ll be glad they’re done tomorrow”…..  Honestly, it has been like a Lifetime Movie….. I hang in there, it’s got to get better… and then it suddenly ends and you realize you were bamboosed!    We are talking UGLY!

This evening I went out with Lilly.    I looked around me, houses filled with lights, smoke pouring out chimneys.   Outside it is blistery cold, and looking into a home at night, lit, always makes me feel better.    I used to look into the windows and think “What is their story?  Are they happy?”  Always envisioning the perfect life.   I still love to look into windows as I drive by (I promise you, I’m not a peeping Tomette nor am I a stalker) and look at how the walls are decorated.  Soon there will be Christmas trees, lights in the windows.   I will once again e envision perfect lives as I drive by, wondering what that feels like?  Only the thought will only last a few seconds long, and I remind myself that everyone is subject to pain, to disappointment, to sickness.   No one is exempt, no one flies through life with only sugar sprinkled on their souls.   My life is normal, like everyone else’s.  Every family has their cross to bear, in my family it is cancer.  Other families have been torn apart and beaten by alcoholism, addiction, gambling, abuse.    No matter how perfect the houses look on the outside, how beautifully groomed the windows, the yard, hard times have, at some point, have fallen on the residents of each home. 

Some hide their challenges well, others, like me, lay it all out there… if you only KNEW what I didn’t share with you! 🙂   Some will mask their emotions, their feelings with a fancy car, pretty smile, beautiful clothes.  Some will be focused externally, thinking that will bring them serenity, wholeness, happiness.  And then there is some who, in spite of all the difficulties that life dumped on them, they will smile, genuinely, their joyous attitudes will shine like the brightest star.  This is the family, the people, the persons who have lived through the most difficulties.   They understand the preciousness of today, this second, they understand that there is so much that has or will happen that is out of their control.  In spite of their frustration, they will get the most out of the day, relinquishing any desire to try to change that which they cannot.   They have learned not to pound their head against the wall in frustration.  They have learned to not kiss off this moment because of what happened yesterday, or worried about what tomorrow will bring.  They have learned to put things in proper perspective, to let the small things go, and the majority of things are insignificant.   They live life fully, they handle their challenges, probably on their knees, surrendering.  Perhaps they will cry, fall down for a few days, but they are smart enough, strong enough to let it go, to forgive, to love, to be one with their God.   They have learned that some days feel mundane, but what a gift that is, to have the freedom to laugh, to sit, to just be.

Me?   I have learned so much in my life, and I have a long ways to go.   I do not trip on my future, but I do at times cling to my past.   I am usually able to have perspective on that which is insignificant, that which is vital, that to which I am able to make a choice…. Do I let whatever is troubling in front of me… go?   Or do I grab onto it, do I take the bait and go on that emotional turbulent carpet ride?

As I looked back at my own home, the lights that were on in my living room, I noticed how warm my lights appeared, the warm yellow glow that was visible from the outside.    My walls are warm gold, so what reflects will emulate the warm in the room.  How beautiful, I thought.  How beautiful!    To passerby’s this may look like the perfect room.  I suppose some will go by and think that whoever lives here has the perfect life, or if nothing else, better than theirs.   One day something will happen that will change their looking for happiness outside of themselves.  The grass isn’t greener on the other side, it is just how we view it.

Walking back into the house I was immediately comforted with the warmth of a fire, the heat from the furnace.  How lucky I am, I thought to myself.  How rich I am to have a home, a place to call my own, shelter from the storms of life.  How perfectly imperfect my life is.   In days ahead I will remind myself of the reflection that was coming from my own window, one of warmth, one of beauty.   I will smile at the choice of colors I have decorated my home with, they reflect what I want in my life..

I liked the reflection from my home.  I was and am happy with what was visually pleasing, but more importantly, I love what is inside of it…reminding me to forfeit the external distractions that take my focus away from what is most important to me, and that is, what exists inside of me.  

 

Try

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I find myself in unfamiliar territory.  I think it was easier when I felt like I didn’t have choices in my life (to my detriment).  Now I realize I have more than enough choices but the decisions aren’t coming easy.  I realize some of it is taking responsibility for my actions, my choices.  It really is easier on one level to just take what is given you.    It is also defeating.

Even with that I believe I have been given what I need.   One of the most obscure challenges (?) I have found in life is self will.    I know that this uncertainty will pass, clarity shall fall upon my restless soul and I shall walk in the direction that I am supposed to…I will be given what I need, I will be guided.  Right now I need to sit with these thoughts, these feelings, as they are important and will serve as an important part of my acceptance…Yes, we have choices, yes we can do just about anything we want to do.  I do feel peaceful, serene when I believe I am walking in the direction that God wants me to walk.   I call it “in alignment”.

I have also learned that I sometimes confuse anxiety with excitement.  That same feeling.   Sound nuts?  Well, yeah, I suppose I am!.

I said to a close friend the other day “I know I am supposed to write, I have known since I was an adolescent that this is what I’m supposed to do”…so, I want to pursue this.   He said “Donna, you ARE a writer!”   My eyebrows rose as my head fell forward a bit.   I guess, I guess I am!

There is a song that I heard on the radio the other day, have added it to my favorites list on Spotify, it is “Try”, by Pink.   Yep, it is a song that resonated and continues to throughout my daily thoughts.  Try….try.   Success isn’t necessarily in the outcome, but on the journey, the trying, the doing…..

Tomorrow I am going to try harder…. 🙂

 

 

 

 

Whitney Houston

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Last night I stopped at a local store to pick up some snacks to bring to my uncles.   This place is like a soda/beer distribution place.  Anyway, my eyes caught the glimpse of a man who was in the hospital just months ago with liver failure due to alcohol.   Typically he will say Hi, this time he didn’t.  There is “bad blood” so to speak between us, as his association with Jim was one that I knew would be trouble, and it was.  Anyway he disappeared into the beer cooler, came out with a case of beer underneath each arm.  I wasn’t surprised, even though I heard he was sober, I was however saddened.   How can anyone watch the  insanity, destructive manner that an alcoholic or addict displays and doubt that they aren’t sick, but weak?  Would a healthy man give up his home, wife, children to go sit and drink?  Would a healthy woman leave her children, let her life fall apart, all for the sake of beer? liquor?

I thought about this a lot last night.   Once angry at this man for being a bad influence on someone I loved very much, and someone whom addiction controlled, I have long since been praying for him, and his family, for his health, mental, physical and spiritual.

Tonight its all over the news that Whitney Houston has died at the young age of 48.  A woman who has been struggling painfully and whose struggles have been in every newspaper, rag magazine, and more.   I sometimes feel sorry for “famous” people that they aren’t allowed to go through their struggles without public scrutiny.  I know I wouldn’t want that for myself.   Still, as I say that, I was reading the articles, some of them anyway.   This absolutely stunning, beautiful and enormously gifted young woman who was destined for greatness, and then years later a woman whose struggles with drugs was not only plastered on the front of every magazine, newspaper, or hollywood gossip tv show, but was evident in her face, the darkness under her eyes.  Her eyes, once filled with life, shine and beauty later revealed dulnessl, sadness and withdrawn.    I don’t know too many people who would wish this upon themselves, or even their worst enemy.   At one point she had gotten her act back together, looked like the beautiful and talented Whitney Houston that most of us loved as she sat on the stage of “Oprah”.  Later it was “revealed” (rolling my eyes here) that she and Oprah had had it out afterwards.   Now we sit here at the time of her passing, shaking our heads, some shedding tears…what a tragic ending to a beautiful life, I say this assuming it was somehow related to drugs or alcohol.  Not necessarily an overdose, but something that manifested physically throughout all the years she was using.   Most alcoholics do not die of cirrhosis, but of heart failure, or physical manifestations that have been created by the overuse and abuse of alcohol.

I remember how angry I would get with Jim, and at times how ridiculously naive and foolish when I thought “if he loved me” he would give up drinking.   Love doesn’t have anything to do with it.  The good news is, some find this as their bottom, or a beginning.  A chance to start over, get help, save their marriage, their ass, their home, etc., but many do not.

Long gone for me is the anger, the rage that once ruled me when I was with an active addict.  Life gets complicated, but quick.  It gets insane, and things roll out of control at the speed of lightning.   The negative affects this has on themselves, their family, their friends plays out like dominos.  Clearly, no matter what Whitney Houston died of there are many mourning.  I’m confident that there are family or friends who are left with the lingering sadness and frustration, the humility of knowing…they couldn’t “save” her from herself.   She walked through hell with her addictions, as does any addict.

I am not “pro addicts”, I hope that is not how I sound.  My heart goes out to her family, friends who have to live with the reality of her passing, and most second guessing if they could have helped.  The “if only’s” run parallel and steady with the grief process.

I have many friends who have gotten clean and sober.   Some arrogantly will slam others who are still using, but most?  Most are so damned grateful to be one of the “chosen few” who survived that they aren’t judging another, but basking in the beauty of their lives.

Surely one thing we have learned over the years with the access to the internet, television, magazines, media is that..no longer are addicts stereotyped as dirty, unkept street people who drink out of a paperbag.   Here is a very sad example of fame, fortune, incredible talent, and yet she was not exempt from addiction.

Recalling when I started to really grasp the disease of alcoholism, how enormous, powerful and destructive it was.  It was at that moment that I placed additional words at the end of some of my shares.  “I have been affected by the disease of alcoholism and addiction…. and I’m very grateful I haven’t been afflicted with it”.

“One moment in time”…. you shared and spread so much  joy and enjoyment to so many.  Thank you Whitney Houston.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tYFHAvULvJ0

Rest in Peace Whitney Houston, rest in peace

 

On Principle….

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Maturity has taught me that simplicity is the answer to a happy life.  So I try to let go of the small things.  After you’ve experienced traumatic or life/death experiences you learn quickly that 99% of all the things in life are in fact small things.   Hereditary genes and behavior had me believing that to worry about something would and could actually change the outcome of whatever it is I’m worried about!  Craziness!  Learning to let go, stay calm, understand that doing nothing and not worrying is doing SOMETHING and also personally learning the power of prayer I do quite well with this these days, though like every other human on the face of the earth, I have my days when I fall short of well.

There are so many avenues I could take to write about with this very topic… Letting Go, Faith, Acceptance, Simplicity, on and on the topics are flowing through my mind, but as a friend suggested to me a few months ago, try to keep your blogs short, otherwise no one will want to read them!

The point I want to make today is there are times to let go of the outcome, not to worry, and there are times to stand up on principle.  While this may cause some disturbance to your serenity and peacefulness, I believe that given who we are, our morals, standards and integrity, and the lack thereof that appears to be happening more and more in the world, sometimes personally, I feel the need to say “Enough is enough!”.

Now for those of you who are on my facebook and read my little excerpt about the Days Inn in Attleboro, MA it would be natural to jump to the conclusion that this is what I’m referring to, and to a small degree this is true.   I am, however, talking about on a whole a conglomeration of things that have happened lately that have me disappointed, frustrated, and feeling the need to take a stand in a few areas to be true to myself and my beliefs.  Sometimes there are things that are just wrong!

We of course, have control over how much we involve ourselves and allow these times to seep into our life.   It also would depend on the magnitude of how it weighs against your beliefs, thus sometimes giving birth to the most amazing passion of some people who devote their life to the cause.    When passion sparks, are you listening to it?  

The twisting and turning of our guts is typically our instinct telling us something.  Are we listening to it?   Upon further exploration you may just be amazed at what unfolds, and what beliefs and passions have been cocooned inside of you, waiting to be set free.    Trust in yourself, your instincts, and stand up for what you believe in, but choose your battles wisely as it is so easy to lose track of the finer simpler things in life that matter so much.  For me it is my family, my friends, my creativity…. and lately Starbucks frappucinos!

A new day, a new dawn…..

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In a couple of hours the sun will rise, marking a new day.  A new day, a new beginning.  A chance to start over, to check off some things on our To Do lists, an opportunity to work, make money, to earn out keep.  An opportunity to start a diet, or blow one, to be cognizant of the gifts right in front of us or flip off the jerk who cut you off in traffic, or both!   Today is full of potential, choices, decisions.

My grandparents had this picture and saying hanging in their kitchen for as long as I can remember that said “Today is the first day of the rest of your life”.  I painted it for them when I was quite young, still had short term memory, good elasticity in my skin, and a small waist!  It’s been a long time since I’ve visited my grandparents house, which is now my Aunt’s house.  I bet you that painting is still on the wall in the kitchen, knowing my sentimental and loving Aunt.

If today is the first day of the rest of my life, I want to start out on a positive note.  I hope to patient and kind to others (and come to think of it, myself!), to appreciate my life and all that it entails including the good, the bad and the ugly.  To be responsible, be able to pay my bills, be a positive participant in this world.   To perhaps make a difference in someones life, to bring a smile to their face, to help someone in need, to use my god given talents, to live simply and simply live…. and to do all of this with a smile on my face, with an open heart, surrounded with laughter.

It begins with one simple step, then another.  Now if I can only get my butt out of bed!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 

Have a great day!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

It’s all small stuff….Gratitude is the Attitude!

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When my sister died I vowed that I was going to start living differently, to live each day to its fullest, to not take my life, others, things for granted…to be more grateful.   The grief process and what followed for me was extremely difficult.  I remember thinking about that vow and feeling like I had failed at that because I wasn’t happy, the challenges seemed too insurmountable and more times than not I wanted to just give up.  What I have learned, however is that the storms  of our lives test us, teach us and show us what we are made of.  While it appeared to me that I had lost my way, that I was not being true to the vow I had made to myself, I was indeed.  Why would I think that the trails would be without sweat and tears?  Each step walked in rocky terrain with hopes of greener softer turf was in fact dangling that commitment to myself like a carrot in front of a horse at a race.    Fortunately for me, I have reached a softer time, an easier time, gratitude comes more naturally and it is typically my first choice.   I am  living my life in accordance to that vow I took several years ago at my kid sisters funeral.  I wonder sometimes if  it has been the accumulation of disappointments, difficulties, or the tried and true manner that no matter how dark times had gotten, I was blessed with more days, opportunities to start anew.  What was it that brought me to this point?  Why is it that for many of us, it takes trauma, life altering illnesses or events to truly appreciate our lives? Yet I realize for some, they never get here.

I have stated before that I am no longer tolerant of “drama” and I have little patience now for what I call “luxury problems”…a broken nail is a broken nail, it will grow, it is not the end of the world.  I remind myself not to compare with others but to relate.  I have and do live my life one day at a time because for one, I am easily overwhelmed with the possibilities of tomorrow that may NEVER come.  The things I fear and found myself fearing in the past?  Typically never came to fruition.   I have not only survived, but grown through the very few things I feared that did come true.   I was always given the strength, the people, places, the fortitude I needed to prevail.

When trespassed or violated, harmed by another I have learned to forgive as quickly as I can and move on.  I need not tell the other person that I have forgiven, as selfishly this internal act is really not even about them.  It is a gift to myself.  It frees ME from the torment, the rage, the victimization that all keeps me from the very state that I so desire in my life…. peace, serenity.

I heard the expression last night in my cancer support group “Who do you pray to?”  While this was asked more as “Who is your God?, Higher Power?”  I ask myself daily “What are you grateful for?  What is more important to you?”   Getting pissed off about something that happened to which I am truly powerless over, allowing something to snatch away my peace, serenity is giving away the one thing in life I DO have control over, and that which is most important to me.  Because without either of these, my decisions, choices, the manner in which I view my life, love myself or others all goes to shit.

There are so many gifts in being diagnosed with a potentially fatal disease… you begin to look at what is important in your life and start to pluck out the weeds and invasive plants that threaten your personal “yard of life”, you learn to protect it at all costs.  You learn that in doing so, things take a natural order, they work out as they will, without your giving up hours, days, weeks to worry, without your trying to unsuccessfully control that which you truly cannot, thus you realize you are blessed with time to just enjoy the very essence of your life, your existence, others existence.    The white picket fence goes up to protect your new found discovery that your life really is very fragile, it has nothing to do with how pretty it looks, that is just a bi product.  The veil of denial drops as you realize, you ARE touchable, you are not bulletproof, oh how dear the simple daily things become.    And you begin to focus on all that is right in your world and spend time in the quiet solemn of knowing…Gratitude is in fact an attitude…and where you place your focus, “who you pray to” or not, will either guide you or dislodge you.

I am so grateful that I know enough to BE grateful for the little things in my life.   Everyday I am granted more opportunities to let go of the small stuff, and you know what?  That little book is right, it’s ALL small stuff!

What do I want to do with the rest of my life?

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A few months ago after my cancer surgeries were behind me, and my brothers cancer treatments were behind him and he was healing and mending… for the moment my family could breathe, I could breathe… reconstruction had started, but it would be a long road, it wasn’t urgent… Breathe in, Breathe Out…  I awoke from a dream with the last thing I heard in a very strong authoritative but caring voice “What do you want to do with the rest of your life, Donna?”  As soon as my eyes opened I looked all around me to see if someone was in the room.  Wow.   This was another one of those spiritual dreams I have, this was a question that was directed at me, and something that I really had to think about.   You have another chance, this is the last part of your life, what do you want to do with it?

I focused on that question daily for a few weeks.  Were there places I wanted to go?  What did I want to accomplish?  Were there things I wanted to do?  Things I wanted to see?  I answered Yes to a couple of those questions.  But as days passed and I thought more and more about it, the real question became “What makes you happy Donna Scully?”  Because for certain, what I want for the rest of my life is to be peaceful, serene and happy.   So given a few personal things, places, accomplishments that I am working on (aka my bucket list), I determined something that was very amazing to me.  It was this:  It is the simplest and smallest “things” in my life that brought me the most joy.  Things, moments, events that money could not buy.  I would like to share a few:

-Anything to do with children, particular my niece Brianna, age 6 (BUT SOON to be age 7, just ask her!).  Her expressions, her questions, her insight, innocent, her smiles, and even her tears.    This little girl can make all my problems and pain go away for the moment with just one hug or one lil smile.

-Spending time with my family.  I love spending time with my nephew Ajay, age 19.  He told me a couple of weeks ago that his friends said to him “Dude why are you always spending time with your Aunt?”  And he said he told them “My aunt is cool, she’s an artist, I like her!”.  Even recalling this makes me smile.  I like listening to him, and the other day I was blessed to spend time with both he and his brother.  I laughed so hard, the two of them had me in tears.  It just made my whole day, week, month?

-Playing frisbee or ball with my australian shepherd, or watching him nap.  I also take enjoyment in caring for my animals.  They are all spoiled, doted on, and I like knowing that their lives are good because I make it that way for them.  They are so deserving of love, and fluff!

-My work brings me joy.  To paint, design, to teach.  To see a student succeed, excel, be satisfied with their painting.  There is nothing else like this, it is a wonderful feeling.

-To sit outside and feel the sun, a breeze against my skin, watch a bird fly.  Nature is truly awesome.

-Virtually anything I do on a regular basis, even dishes!  If I can just relax, let go of my worries, and just embrace the beauty of the moment.

I was sharing with my girlfriend yesterday, with modern technology things should be so much simpler for us, yet they seem more complicated.   The convenience and simplicity of online banking or connections is complicated by the darkness of criminal minds.  Many are tormented with financial problems, this is a high stresser.  There are so many things that add to our stress in everyday life.   It is always amazing to me how much smoother my life goes, and how much happier I am when I am not stressed about finances, or smaller things.  It is then that I realize how much I really enjoy the smaller things in my life.

What do I want to do with the rest of my life?  I guess continue what I’m doing, work on my bucket list, and most importantly, quiet the voices of stress in my life so that no matter WHAT is going on in my life, I will always be grateful for my todays.  I really just want to be happy, serene, and peaceful!