Tag Archives: friendship

What’s in your heart?

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The other day I ran into (almost crashed with our carts!) an old high school friend at Walmart.  I had seen just before I went to Walmart, on her fb feed that she had just lost one of her beloved furry kids.  Anyway,

I told her how sorry I was, and she was very gracious, but something she then said kind of shocked me.    “This is why I look the way I do today!”.    Wow!   Wow I thought.  To feel the need to say that to me, at 55 years of age?  We will both soon be 56.     It just struck me odd.  And perhaps its because for years now, I’ve not focused on the way I looked, nor the manner in which I dressed.  I admit, some of that had to do with depression, but when I see people I love, I don’t look them over from top to bottom.  I look into their eyes, and I’m paying attention to their words.

It saddened me, and also baffled me at the same time that she would be concerned of such.  A member of her family just died, who gives a shit how she looks?    Or have i just become too uncaring about this stuff?

She’s a beautiful woman, with the biggest blue eyes, and a gorgeous smile.  And she was in pain, I could see it written all over her face and in her eyes.  My heart hurt for her and her family.  I know how hard it is when our furry families leave us.  It’s painful as hell.    No one wants to say goodbye to such unconditional and gentle love and companionship.

So I’ve been sitting with that memory of our meeting.    And I’m not insinuating that she did anything wrong, but why did it stand out to me?   Why did that response come to mind for her, when she was sharing of her pain?

I suppose it could’ve been that I looked like crap.   Laughing.   And I didn’t have death of a pet (Thank God) to blame!    And I came to the conclusion that it wasn’t about her, it was about me.    I guess if someone is going to judge me by the way I look, for whatever reason, I guess I deep down know, they aren’t my friend!    I never once looked at her to think anything of her.  I wasn’t judging her, I was judging myself!  And with her comment, I felt like she was looking at what I looked like, not who I was, and the words I was saying to her.

How hard we are on ourselves.    This saddens me and continues to be the biggest issue I contend with on a daily basis.  I’m learning to be kinder, softer with myself, but it’s the first place that retorts back to old behavior, and I have to be vigilant with my self talk, turning it to positive.    There are some days, that’s all I accomplish.  Recycling old negative thoughts into positive ones.  With that said, the days are fewer and far between what they used to be.

What isn’t important to me is what someone drives, the diamonds or sapphires they wear, but I do look at their eyes, and I try to see what is in their heart with the limited time I’m with another.    Because THAT is how I want others to look at me!!!   But will they?   Doesn’t matter, it’s out of my control what another person thinks of me, and I’m grateful I don’t care today.    But here is where the whole process ended up for me.

What if?  What if we all felt better about ourselves, and loved and cared for ourselves.  What if we didn’t feel the need to “look” or “play” the part?     What if we stood one with our grief and said “I’m having a crappy day, I need to be gentle on myself?”

Are you one that can do that?      I dare ya!

So if the person reading this blog and whom I met in the Dog Aisle at Walmart, my bestest from way back in our teens, You are beautiful!   Your eyes are as blue as they were in high school, and your smile as bright.    Be kind to yourself!    Give yourself permission to grieve, and don’t judge yourself (or me) on the way I look!    Love ya girl.

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It’s Friday!

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Happy Friday to you!    Hope you had a week filled with peace, clarity, joy, and faith!   You define what your faith is!   But it seems in this world right now, it’s becoming harder and harder to believe that things are “going to get better”.     Maybe they will, but yesterday I met someone who really lifted my battered disbelief.

First, this person offered to me, free of charge, her painting stash.  She and her husband are moving, and she just didn’t want to pack it.   The minute I walked into her house I knew I was privileged to meet this sweet woman.    As we sat on the floor in her once dining room, with piles of “things” being packed, given away, I felt like I had known her forever.

She shared with me how she had a special needs child, who lived to be 24, many years past what doctors had predicted.   Love exuded from her as she spoke of him, it was an incredibly beautiful, and tragic story.

My curiosity arose long before I showed up at her door.     How many people do you meet who are openly giving, and offering of their treasures, and stories?   Have had dealings lately with a greedy person, so this was extra special to me.

With incredible grace and fortitude she shared her stories and excitement about a new chapter in her life, and I knew right then, I have received much more from her than the bundles of paint, surfaces and books she so graciously gave me.

I needed this experience.  I really did.    I left her house with my car full, but my heart fuller.    I had just been privy on a special soul, a giving soul, a healthy, beautiful, kind and loving soul.    I thought how her husband obviously knew what he was doing when he married her!   She’s a golden nugget, so to speak in terms of treasures.   Such wisdom, such beauty, such kindness.   I walked away hoping I will never forget this beautiful experience.

Such beauty does exist, and I was fortunate enough to be on the receiving end of her generosity, both with many material items, but more importantly, her happy, peaceful, beautiful soul.

I hope you get to experience this, too.   It renewed my faith in mankind.  Yes, I said it, I’ve been feeling fairly discouraged of late.    She gave of herself with little effort and absolutely no airs about her.     I am very grateful for all!!!

Sadness

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Today was a challenging day for me.   As fate would have it, I learned that someone I care about is ill, very ill.   Further complicated by a parting of ways between us.  I couldn’t even remember the incident, or exactly what happened, I knew I was upset, but the “final” visit, I have no memory of.    When I learned of this, haphazardly, I felt like I was going to toss my cookies.    It doesn’t sound good, not at all.

I had also been inadvertently told that she had just learned of this last night, and was home from hospital today.  All I could think of is being left alone to think about what she was told.  I had a full list of things to do today, rose early to do them.  The list was set aside two hours upon rising after learning this news.

When you learn something like this, it really doesn’t matter what happened.  I think it’s important for each person to acknowledge and say what they couldn’t say prior.  And that was the case when I walked into her home, her bedroom where she was resting.  I didn’t know how or what I’d find, I just said a prayer for strength and courage and went and sat with her on the bed.  It’s a HUGE bed that she hates.   I wasn’t sure if she was happy to see me or not, but I grabbed her very soft hand and said “I’m sorry”.     She looked away.   “I have something to tell you”, I nodded.   What she shared next was one of the “moments” I hadn’t recalled, and a bit of it came back.    She expressed how hurt she was, and how she didn’t even want to address it or try to fix it with me.  “Friends don’t do that to other friends”.   I said “Your right, they shouldn’t”.

It wasn’t easy hearing how I had hurt her.   And sadly I don’t recall the incident she spoke of, I had thought our estrangement was just a mutual thing after a couple bad experiences.  I said the words that I needed to say, “I’m sorry I hurt you”.

I helped adjust her pillows, asked if there was anything I could do for her.  Asked if she wanted me to leave, “no, I don’t want you to leave”.     Then she shared another incident that hurt her and I guess the look on my face said what I didn’t need to verbalize.   It was nothing I had done, nothing I could do.   She said I’m sorry, I thought you had.

My mom showed up a few minutes later, I guess she knew where to find me.  I had dropped her off to get her car that was being serviced, the second $400 we put into it this month, and just drove away.     I didn’t know if I should go see her.  I wanted to.  But I didn’t want to upset her.  I just didn’t want her sitting alone with this news.   What happened between us didn’t matter, was unimportant.

She was very tired, and apologetically needed to give in to sleep.  We said our goodbyes.   I held her hand before I left and told her I would be in touch, and that she could call me if she wanted or needed something.   She thanked us for coming and said “Donna, I’m really glad you came”.    As I walked out, drove home, I felt numb.   But numbness isn’t really the word for it, if it hurts, its not numb, right?

This is a person who I had spent many hours with, driving around back roads, in my home, or hers.  She’s almost 20 years older than me,  I’ve always tended to have older friends.   We have shared with each other things we’ve never shared with another.   We were good, close friends.   I was frustrated with her about a few things that need not be shared.  I was even angry at one point.    It wasn’t until she had brought up what she needed to say that I vaguely remembered it.

I thought about the couple things that I had remembered, that annoyed me.   And I questioned, was she sick then?  Is that why she forgot to do what she promised to do?    And at that very moment I was reminded AGAIN, how important it is that we be kind to others.  We know not what will eventually unveil itself.   It never occurred to me that she was sick when this broken promise happened.   I felt like shit, for a few minutes.  I allowed myself to feel bad about that, but then I had to forgive myself.  I didn’t know.  And it wasn’t that I was unkind to her, although her words said it was a look I gave her.

We think we have all the time in the world to make amends, forgive, or fix things.   We don’t.   This was a blatant reminder for me of the things I take for granted.  And I’m a pretty grateful person.    But I guess I had more to learn.

So, I decided I needed to go to bed, and I opened my bedroom windows.  We are being plummeted with rain.  Rumors are there was a tornado 40 miles from us.   I laid in bed, realizing, I needed to write about this.   It’s all consuming.    And now I’ll go crawl back into bed and listen to the rain fall, and think of what perfect weather it is for this day.   It should be a dismal, damp, wet night both inside and outside of my home.     Because today was a hard day, and I’m very saddened by what I have learned.

That’s all I need to say.  The rest I will wrestle with myself.    If there’s someone you care about and are at odds with, rethink it.   Is it really that important?  Do you have both sides?  Is the silence worth the loss of time?    Only you can answer that.

Grateful I went to see her.   If you want to say a prayer for her, I’m sure she would appreciate it.     Goodnight.

 

Alas, direction

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Tonight I am flying high.  No, not on sugar, though I do have it running in my veins, but because what seemed to be a very long, much anticipated and grueling time that I have been “in waiting” for direction has finally arrived.     And comically, or rather ironically, I really don’t know the logistics or to what is going to unveil itself to me, but I can tell you, when the spirit hit, a couple weeks ago, I forced myself to walk in faith.  To just keep doing what I believe I was “supposed” to do.

Like negative space in a drawing, painting, or room, waiting for direction is anything but comfortable (unless you are privy in past to “wait for it”).  But I’ve lived long enough to know in order to have peace we have to find comfort in the uncomfortable, and those things that come after the longest time, and that time feeling like purgatory (No, I’m not catholic, but my mother was raised in this religion, I also pay attention to those people that are the happiest, the most peaceful, serene, and I listen to what is beautiful in their life), so when a break comes, a ray of light, or hope really, it is so incredibly wonderful.

In youth I was quick to jump, to “find” whatever it was I thought I was supposed to experience.  Maturity has taught me, nothing worth having comes easy.  Nothing.  And if it looks too good to be true?  It probably is!

So tonight I have five paintings started.  A still life, floral (2), a rooster, and  for the life of me I can’t remember what the fifth one is.  All started this evening when I got home from a day that felt purposeful, important, helping others, others who weren’t practicing the kind of drama that belongs on a stage (or in a helium balloon that floats fastly and quickly away), but real life, illnesses, frustration, and just needing a fresh advocate come in and help.  It feels so good to me to help others.   My last therapist wrongfully suggested the reason why I help others is because I get “kudos”.  I looked straight at her, without hesitation and said “If you believe this to be true?  You have never given to another from the goodness or your heart, and RECEIVED the loving touch of God blessing you.  I feel it.  I don’t seek for permission, admiration, or for others to pump up a broken soul.  I am not broken, I am not in need of friends, and I am certainly not in need to be validated as worthy.  I learned from the age of 10 or so that to give is to receive.   It’s one of my most cherished gifts in life.  And to fully understand this, give without the other person, or recipients KNOW you are doing it, and tell nobody, not.a.soul!

Of course, as with anything, there are extremes, and there are takers out there that will rob your heart from the generosity that we’re meant to feel, to do, to be.   That’s where lives lessons kind of kick you in the teeth.   Oh how I know this place, and I have no desire to return there, but I will.   That old familiar feeling of caring or giving too much to another will shadow a day, or two, but I’ll jump back in and try it all over again.  Just not necessarily with the same person, but sometimes, YES, the same person.

So, I really need to get to bed, but I don’t want to put the brush down.  It’s flowing, and creativity is at my optimum.  It’s a wonderful, wonderful, place to be.  So grateful I struggled so long in purgatory!   Because even if I wake up tomorrow and the creativity has fizzled, tonight?  What I’m feeling tonight?  Was worth the wait.  Keep in mind, I don’t know what’s ahead of me, I don’t know ANY details, I was just given a direction.   It’s exciting that something I once thought was so insignificant can and does bring me so much joy!

 

May peace be with you, and may you bask in the glory of “knowing” which road or path to take.  Love to you!

Quality peeps

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I’ve made mistakes in my life… but, if you learn from them, are they mistakes or lessons?  I’ve been in relationships I had no business being in, friendships with people who were incapable of returning it.   I have been burned badly by people I once loved, and I’ve chosen a partner well below my class.  I know that sounds awful.  I know it does.  But trust me, I have so learned from all of these.

But one thing I am really good at, now, is choosing quality people to surround me.   I have very good people in my life.   I realize this more and more, when I hear things that go on with friends, and others.  If I have chosen you as a friend, into my heart, into my life, I see beauty, authenticity, and trustworthiness.   I no longer dip my toes into the sea of selfish souls that can suck the life out of you.  Been there, done that, ain’t interested in going back there anymore!

Seriously, I am good at reading people’s energy.   I have loved some of my friends from the first time I met them.   Likewise, I have gone out of my way, WAY out of my way to avoid dark, selfish souls.

If you are my friend, there is not much I wouldn’t do for you, if you are first helping yourself.  And when you can’t do for yourself, I will do for you, too.  But I’ve learned boundaries and borders.  I can spot a user a mile away.    I prefer to have flawed, kind people in my life.   I love people who have been to hell, and clawed their way back, who accept their shortcomings, and are not afraid to show them to me.  Who also possess the quality of being able to see beyond themselves.    People who love nature, animals, and cry at something cruel presented or witnessed, and laugh at themselves, first, and then others.

I believe you can only truly laugh at others without vain, if you can first laugh at yourself.  I am pretty good at this, and my friends?  They are too.

If I’ve chosen you in my life, if you are my friend, I want to thank you for being who you are.  For showing me, proving to me that good, quality, kind honest people still exist in this world of turmoil and dismay.  Thank you for sharing your obstacles with me, and for being my friend.   It is because of you that I am able to face another day in a sometimes very difficult time.   To know you are loved, liked for who you are, flaws and all.

We may not speak or see each other for years at a time, but you are always with me, carried safely in my heart, my thoughts, and prayers.

I’ve been truly blessed, but it also comes from experience and making better choices for myself, because I deserve the best life has to offer, that’s why I chose you!

 

 

 

 

Happy Birthday, my friend

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We were so young when we met.  My God, were we ever that young?   The first time I met her she came to my house with my brother.  Dressed classy, wearing a very wide brim hat, my brother introduced her as his date.   I laugh when I think of this, because I know her very well know.  She has this one look where she puts her head up in the air, as if daring fate to come get her.    At first I thought she was a snob.  I suppose that is why I laugh when I think of that face.

A disastrous marriage to my only brother, two sons that have brought so much joy to my life.  A friendship that has spanned over broken relationships, deaths, 30 years.    She was more than my sister-in-law, she was my friend through so much.   The laughter, the tears, the fears.   We have helped each other walk through some very painful parts of life.   And more important than that, we have LAUGHED our way through it.   Things that you never thought you could joke about, become humorous with someone who knows you like a book.

As years came to be, and she shared of her childhood, struggles, I grew to respect her more each passing year.   It isn’t easy for someone who has been walked over, to stand up and fight back.   But she has.   Stereotypic essential relationships that should have gifted her with confidence, esteem, and overall sense of self respect delivered exact opposite, or was meant to.   I witnessed things over the years that made me so sad for her.   But also, made me love her all the more.

After the divorce, and a bitchy evil “step mother” stepping into the scenario, I was summoned more than once to cease my relationship with her, after all, we were no longer related!    But that only served to set my heels in deeper.  Why would I sever a relationship that was essential to me?  Why would I sever a relationship based on lies that were being told about her?   More than once, more than a handful, I got into shouting matches with my family.   I was the bad one, for keeping up the relationship.   Shaking my head.    Yet it was this woman who stayed up with me ALL night, for months on end, playing Literati, helping me walk through some of the hardest times of my life.  No, I guess we were no longer related, but we were friends.  I know we will always be friends.

I have seen her shape from a broken uncertain soul, into an amazing woman.   Now a grandmother, she and her husband took a plunge and moved across country.  I encouraged her.  It was time.  Always a mother, she would still be available as she was when near, and this day and age of technology, a phone call can now be face to face, expressions inclusive.   But it was time for them to do for themselves.   I don’t think it was an easy decision, given the level of family commitment they have, but it was a good decision, for all.

I’ve watched my nephews mature.  They are GOOD human beings.  I’m proud of them.   Was she a perfect mother?  Why YES ( 🙂 )…. who EVER is perfect?   It’s impossible.  We are designed to be perfectly imperfect, she, no exception.    For whatever she would do differently today, she taught her children to NEVER GIVE UP.   It is okay to take a couple day sabbatical, but then?  Then you get up, and you start over.   Defy the powerful forces that had great potential to tear flesh, break your spirit.   Put your head up high, and walk however you must towards self love, acceptance, success.   Stick that nose up in the air if it helps you walk through fire, whatever it takes!    This is why I smiled at the beginning of the blog.  That snobbish look she can give, I know what’s behind it.

She has walked through fire.   She has taken my hand and walked with me, through fire.   I am in awe of her strength, and the person she has become.   I’m proud of her and what she has done with her life.  She is courageous, intelligent TO A FAULT.   I don’t care if her last name has changed, or where she is in the world, she will ALWAYS be my sister-in-law, and she will ALWAYS be the mother of two beautiful souls that I love dearly.   I am grateful for her existence in my life.

As typical, I sit here with a sign from above.   I am laughing, because I smell birthday candles.  I have actually gotten up and looked around my house to make sure there is no flame anywhere.   I bet you I know who is sending you birthday wishes from the other side!   The same person you drove 3-4 hours in bad weather to say goodbye, who adored your boys, too.  Or maybe?   It’s the person who I know loved you deeply.  The woman who I know you loved dearly.   I know when she died you were broken, felt like the truest form of love you had ever experienced had all been lost.  But it wasn’t!   You passed on what she taught you to your boys, and I know will, your grandchildren.   She exists in you, and no doubt, is very proud of you.

Thank you for all your love, support, friendship, hours spent listening to me.  Thank you for loving my art, for caring about my family in spite of all the difficulties in the past.   Thank you for sharing some of the BEST belly laughs I’ve ever had.    I am grateful for your existence in my life.  I am grateful for you.

On this day I want to wish you a very happy birthday.  You deserve the best.  You have fought your way through much, and you are still standing, as beautiful as ever, with the best looking legs I have ever seen on a real person!    Have an awesome day!   I love you, and I look forward to many more years with you and our “boys”.

What a great time!

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Five minutes after I arrived home from a painting convention today I fell into bed.   I was so tired but fell asleep and woke up with a smile on my face.    What a great time.  I taught three classes, had AWESOME students who kept me entertained and were ever so willing to hear my funny stories.   It’s so good to laugh, isn’t it?

My first class I was 5 minutes late to.  I got caught in city traffic.  I’m not used to that!      I refused to get upset about it, and when I arrived at class my students were happy to see me, they all pitched in, got everything together, helped set everything up and we were off.    Only help, love… no criticism, anger.   It was a very nice way to start the convention.

The first day I left my purse in a public seating area.  Fortunately one student (who was actually in my class last night), brought my purse up to the desk, very wisely took action and it was returned to me while teaching a class.   I wasn’t even aware that I didn’t have it!   Now move forward to last night and one of my wild friends from upstate VT had left her purse somewhere and they had it in lost and found.  How VERY NICE it is to know that there are still honest people out there who care.   It renews faith in humanity, ya know what I mean?

The first class I taught was Sallie Snow woman, everyone did great.   I suggested and they were excited about getting prints made of their painting and making their own Christmas cards!    I look forward to seeing them…. (Hint Hint…. send with chocolate!)   No, just kidding.  I’m off sugar.

Also during class a friend, fellow artist stopped in to visit and gifted me with a pack of her cards which are prints of some of her many beautiful paintings.  It was so nice!    It really made me smile!

I also realized that I had unintentionally left two pertinent colors at home on my table.   Well, I didn’t fret.  Two crazy assed friends from Maine were able to help me.  As we went up to their room they were entertaining me with a very funny.    I see panty shields in my future conventions!

Things worked out smoothly, without planning that I was able to see girlfriends and spent time with them between classes and commitments.  I love it when things flow with little or no effort.

Last nights class which we named “Saturday night live!”, we were laughing so hard that the teacher and students in the classroom next to ours ran over to find out what was so funny.     I love it when everyone is comfortable sharing funny stories, particularly female stories.  My goodness, it is so healing!

All day Saturday I was feeling “dizzy”.   Sort of “falling over” feeling.   About an hour into class last night my students were busy so I sat down, threw one leg over the other and realized that the sole of my dansko had disintegrated.    CHUNKS of rubber were missing, and the thick sole on the heel was gone!  No WONDER I felt dizzy.    I had seen all this black stuff on the carpet and wondered who the heck had taught in there the class before!    It was chunks of my sole!     Today as I walked around the trade show my every other step my shoe would stick to the cement floor.   It was so funny.  I drove barefoot on the way home, afraid that my shoe may stick to one of the peddles.

Another time I was trying to get my girlfriends attention who was sitting at one of the front tables.  Gail!  Gail!   Gail?   It was like she was in another world.  Even the girls sitting behind said “Gail, Gail” and she didn’t respond.  I just figured she was entranced in her “ever so her” usual acts of helping someone else, in this case the woman sitting next to her.    A few minutes later I was talking to her and said “Gail” again and she said “Michelle!”    I KNOW HER NAME!   I KNOW HER!   We are twin daughters of different mothers.  Why the heck did I do that?   Have you ever been so tired that you do such stupid things that it makes it all the funnier?    She also told me that she told her husband if something should happen to her, he is to split her painting supplies up between her friends and call me….  FOR A DATE!     Is that not the sweetest thing ever?

Yeah, it was a wonderful time.  A very busy time but many great memories were made, beautiful paintings were done, lessons were learned and laughter could be heard all over.  It rocked!     As I drove home, I thought about how kind, caring, and the sisterhood that decorative painting industry holds.   Helping one another, sharing stories, supplies…  What a great group of people.   I will remember more as I unpack and get back to my life.  I know I am forgetting to share other funny stories.   These are gems nuggets of gold that will keep me warm in the coldest of winter to come.

I am so inspired that I want to stay up all night and paint, but I’m just too tired to unpack my jeep!   But what a good tired… what a good tired.

Yes, I am one fortunate woman to have god given talent that I can share with others.  For all the wonderful and long term friendships and new ones started that have sprouted from teaching.   I feel very blessed.   As I head out to Long Beach, CA in 10 days to a Nerium convention, I know that there I will be with childhood friends, long term friends and will meet new friends as well.   I’m a very fortunate woman.   God has blessed me with so much.

Love to all…..

He was my friend

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A childhood friend died last week.  A very kind, compassionate intelligent person.   I am saddened.

We grew up together, he was 2 years younger than me and his family lived just a couple miles away from mine.   We rode the same school bus to elementary school, and a very long early bus to and from high school.  We would normally try to find a seat near each other.  He was one of my favorites.  He had big hair, which hey, back then it was in style!  Not that he had much choice in the matter.  This was out sized only by the cutest grin he nearly always had on his face.  Whenever I would see him, he made me smile.  Whenever I have thought of him in past, I would smile.   When I think of him now I smile.  He was a love.

I remember one day on the bus we were in seats next to each other chatting.   There was someone a few seats ahead who had been by themselves the whole distance.  I saw him looking at them through the corner of his eye as we were talking.   He put his finger up in the air signifying “one minute” and with that I watched him scoot to the seat in front of the person who sat alone.   I tried not to watch, but I know I smiled.   Yep, I knew what he was doing.  He didn’t like to see anyone hurting, or sad, and certainly lonely.  I don’t know if this person was lonely or not but within seconds he had this person laughing, smiling, chatting.   I looked over at him and grinned, he winked.  A heart of gold, he had a heart of gold.   On one of our times waiting for the school bus when snowball fights ensued, he had thrown a snowball at a friend and a piece of that flew off and into my eye.   He didn’t take any satisfaction in the success of hitting his target, he was right next to me, his arm on my shoulder “Are you okay?  I’m so sorry, are you okay?”    Every day he asked me if I was okay until I finally said ENOUGH!    Caring.  He was a caring soul.

On our too infrequent passing’s, visits in the aisles of grocery stores, Walmart, Home Depot, we would stand for an hour or two each time “catching up”.  Audible laughter, always.   The last time I had seen him was at a Home Depot, he, his wife who we also grew up with, and we must have chatted for 2 hours.  It was great.  I remember walking away from that visit feeling good and taking comfort in the realization that he was still the very special person I knew from 25 years prior.  He still cared about others, he still was compassionate, funny, and he still sported that adorable grin that I loved.

The world doesn’t seem as warm or comfortable to me right now.   It was nice knowing that  he and others like him were somewhere out there in the world.   If it had been decades since we saw each other, we picked up where we had left off.  There was nothing artificial about him, he was genuine, authentic.   A few days prior to learning of his passing I was bombing around on back roads in my hometown waiting for a friend to get home from work.  As I drove by his family home I smiled and thought of him.  I had hoped that we would cross paths again this holiday season like we had so many other times.   I’m saddened to think that this will not happen, but even sadder to think that his family, his friends, all that loved him are now starting the difficult journey of grief.  Eventually the healing process will begin, varying times and lengths between all.  But I assure you, this man will never be forgotten.  His kindness, his quirkiness, that grin of his that I adored will always make me smile, and I’m reminded of the quote, I have no idea whose “They may not remember what you look like, they may not remember your name, but they will always remember how you made them feel”.   He made people feel important.  For me, his presence brought relief and comfort to a sometimes painful existence .

I pray for his family, his friends as they embark on life without him in it.  I pray that his children will always know how special their father was, what a good person he was, what a kind soul he was.   I will certainly miss him, but I will always remember that grin, the kindness and compassion he gave to others, and I will always be grateful I knew him.  To know him was truly, to love him.

Tall goings vs short comings

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The past week has been trying, challenging, and disappointing to me.   In reviewing this week I know why I have had the desire to build a cabin in the woods and live far away from others.  Safe from the harm of insincerity, of cruelty, of pain.

As a kid my mother used to tell me “If you have one true friend in the world, you have it all”.  Well, it took me almost 50 years to figure out that my mother did in fact know what she was talking about throughout my life, and that this statement of hers was beyond truthful.

I was never really close to a lot of people.   A high school sweetheart whom I’d rather swallow mosquitos than spend time with now.   As an adult I have happened along many wonderful people, many to which I call my friend.    What does being my friend mean to me?   Well, what does it mean to YOU?

Life is about growth.  This I believe.   If I have to be under foot or on the phone with someone every day, every week, every month, it will never work.  Why?  Because right or wrong, I keep a distance for myself, for my own sanity, for my own protection or self preservation.     I’m not unique in my experiences, I’ve been hurt, burned and bruised by others.    For me I would rather put my energy into my art, my talents than risk losing another piece of my heart.   Sadly, I do not want to be like this.   I don’t believe that is what God would want from me.  Every day I struggle with the choice to let others into my life, into my heart.

Today I was crushed when someone I thought was a friend slammed me into a corner, accusing me of something that I am not guilty of.   Wow!   At first I took it with my tail between my legs.  A few minutes later I was ticked off and hurt.   Anger is hard for me.  I am learning how to deal with it.  In past I have swallowed oodles of food or whatever other addiction I picked up or vacillated through.  None of them work anymore.  None of them fill the void of loneliness, of heart-break, of fear.    I believe it’s supposed to be this way.  Why?  So that I can once again climb into the cart of self improvement, or growth.  So that I can live, learn and laugh through the many trials and tribulations that life dishes out.    I have fought against black and white thinking my whole life.   Either something really was, or it really wasn’t.   Finding the grey areas have taken time, patience.  There is no quick fix to this.  This thinking, as destructive as it can be to myself, I am realizing is also destructive towards others.   We all have our shortcomings.  We all have our challenges, our struggles.

My life will go on.   I will heal from the hurt as I always have.   I will continue on the path that I’ve worked on the majority of my life – self improvement, growth.   I will learn from this, and with God’s help, I will not let this take me back a few steps unless it is to gain momentum to move forward.

Today is no different than the lessons of yesteryear, perhaps a bit of a refresher?   Today I will drop a few tears, say a few prayers and tomorrow, when I awake, hopefully I will feel better.  Life goes on.  Life always goes on even when you think it’s cruel, when you’ve experienced an enormous loss and still, the birds chirp.  How can that be?   This is life.  This is a lesson in life.  Some of us get it sooner than later.   Either way, it doesn’t change the lesson, but the intensity of it.

Yes, I’m angry.  I’m very angry.  My therapist would tell me this is good.   I am sitting with this anger, sitting with this disappointment.    Such is life.  Such is life.

 

 

How stupid can I be?

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What an interesting night I had last night.   There are four of us who kind of look out for each other, having met at a particularly vulnerable time in our lives.  We check in with each other, and help each other as we can.  One of the four is in a bad way.   It is very hard to hear and see this.   Cutting us out slowly, which would be fine if he was moving on to better things, he is not.  He is struggling.  This kind, gentle, intelligent, sensitive man is, in my opinion, in a bad way.  Having been majorly betrayed by those he trusted and loved most in the world, it is very hard to watch someone you love go through this.

With goodness in our heart and looking out for his welfare, all with good intentions, my girlfriend and I (2/4) decided to drive up to see him, to check on him.   20 degrees out, it had snowed yesterday, not ideal driving conditions.   Also, heading out at 9;15pm at night, with a 35 minute ride ahead of us was not the smartest thing we could do.

Off to Dunkin Donuts to get hot chocolate and iced coffee we made our way north to the town he lives in.  Both of us frustrated with the hard winter we are having, alone with the responsibilities and challenges of singlehood, we validated for each other the sometimes harsh realities and difficulties in basic survival.  Living in Vermont, New England is expensive.  It is beautiful, but it is expensive.   Winter presents more challenges, and while we are both survivors, we are also limited.    I am fortunate, I have wonderful neighbors.  They help me out when they can with the yard, shoveling, salting the icy walks and drive.  It is nice to know that others care.

Now in pitch dark, with very little light from the moon, no street lights, and no lights in houses showing signs of civilization, we first took the wrong road, quickly figured out after going up this long windy drive.    We found the road he lives on, and it is very secluded there.  It’s quiet beautiful.  He enjoys his solitude and he certainly can have it there.   As we made the left into his long and windy driveway we noticed his car which obviously didn’t make it up the drive,  was in a few yards from the road.  There would be no driving up in 4wd to check on him.  In the pitch dark, in heavy 3-4′ of snow in areas, we decided to let things be.    As I backed out, which was difficult to see, we went off the side of the road into 4-5′ of snow.   Stuck.   Stuck.   Stuck.

For a good hour the two of us worked on getting unstuck.  My girlfriend who is as short as I am tall, had the idea to put twigs and branches underneath the tires.  It would have worked if we had better access to the bushes.  Thankful I had kitty litter in the back of the jeep we put that in front and behind the wheels, kicking away snow as we go.  I had on my big LL Bean boots, with no socks.   Brilliant of me…   Now drenched, her up to her waist and mine to my thighs, below freezing our efforts went in vain, sliding back down into the hole.   My girlfriend has neuropathy in her feet.  I was getting very concerned for her, she would not be able to feel the cold, thus the perilous frost bite that comes after being exposed to the cold, and soaking wet, that long.   After realizing that we needed assistance she messaged our friend who we are assuming was in bed.   This is a person who wants to be left alone.  I know when I am in that place I just want to be left to my own demise, and unfortunately that isn’t particularly healthy or helpful… Anyway he messages us “Are you kidding?  Get in the car and stay there, I’ll be down with the snow blower.    IMG_1238Jumping back into the jeep, turning the heat on, we realize there is only cold air blowing…no heat.  Great!  After 15-20 minutes he made his way down the very long windy dark drive with his snow blower.  He was not happy.  I asked if he was mad at me and his only reply was “Yup”.  And then informed us he had locked himself out of his house…   After 25-30 minutes of snow blowing a shovel was necessary to get below the jeep, the tires.   Of course I didn’t have one.   He got into the jeep to see what exactly it was doing to determine how to get us unstuck.  Not familiar with the vehicle he is seeking the 4wd buttons and hits the sunroof button.  Snow collapses in all over him.  He maintains his composure, have to give him credit for that.   This is a very kind person, very kind.  Clearly he didn’t want to see us, and obviously didn’t want to be out, now at 11:30pm getting us unstuck.  He hikes back up his driveway now going further to his barn to find a shovel.  He returns, by now I have my girlfriend staying in the jeep, soaking wet jeans, up to her waist, sub freezing temps, he shovels for several minutes, has my girlfriend drive as he and I pushed.  He, obviously with much more strength, falls flat on his face after the jeep moves but not to a point where we were unstuck.   More shoveling.  He slips into the drivers seat and we push as he goes in reverse.  He succeeded and backed the jeep rather quickly down to the road.

“Will you come to one of our houses, we will bring you back in daylight?”   NO.   Good grief, all of our good intentions turned into more work for him.  We ask again “No, I have a long day tomorrow”.   With that he made his way back up the drive to the snow blower and headed back, in the pitch dark, on the long windy drive.

As we jumped into the jeep to head back home we were both quiet for a couple of minutes.   What a disaster this has turned out to be.  And how stupid we, intelligent, obviously educated to the dangers of winter, went off in the middle of the night to very rural back hills Vermont.   I apologized profusely.   My girlfriend is very cool, and like any single female who lives in Vermont and owns your own home, you have to be tough or very wealthy to hire things done.    We had both maintained our sense of humor through it all, and that continued on the way home though now our moods are a bit more somber.  Assuring me we’ll all be well, she is a good friend.

The 30 minutes drive back to her house with soaking wet jeans, no heat was long.  Both of us were shivering.    I asked her to message me in a few minutes as to how she felt, again concerned for her with all the challenges she has physically.  Both she and I have compromised immune systems.   This was really not a good thing.    It took me another 20 minutes to get home, now past 1am, I read a message from her that she is okay, drinking tea, dry and we bid each other a good nights sleep which we both had no doubt, was not going to happen.

Both of us having two dogs to take out before bedtime, both of us doing so with our already wet clothes because the last thing you want to do when you get out of them, when you peel the jeans off your body, is go back out again.   With our dogs taken care of, we went to bed…

About 5am the chill started to dissipate my tired body.  Covered with 3 comforters, surrounded with animals whom serve as little space heaters, I laid and thought about how stupid I had been.  I grew up here, I know better than that.  I let my concern for a friend taint my better judgment.  I really screwed up.  I put not only myself but my two friends in harms way.  THINK Donna… THINK.   My therapist is not going to be happy with me regarding this one, having discussed and worked on making my own welfare first.  I failed last night, and I failed two friends.

I fell asleep about 6:30, woke up to the phone at 8:30.    Off to help out my mom as a good daughter would.   I’m just arriving home, tired, very somber and very grateful that we are all okay.

I’m not sure when we will hear from our friend again.   We surely pissed him off more.   On the trip home we discussed how he must realize how much we care for him, and that now it was time to step back and hope he makes his way out of the darkness.   We are not totally helpless, we surely can pray for him, send good thoughts his way.

I haven’t heard from my girlfriend for 9 hours.  I know she had two doctors appointments.   I am hoping that I will find her in good health though undoubtedly fatigued.   I am about to set up the vaporizer in my bedroom to hopefully stunt this cold coughing that I picked up overnight.  She was coughing prior to our trip, so obviously there is concern for her there. Update: I just spoke with her, she is doing alright, encouraging me to let it all go… it’s over, done…IMG_1239

I guess the lesson,  todays lesson…. we cannot help someone who doesn’t want the help.  We can reach out our hands to offer our support, but we can’t fix this for him just as he couldn’t fix it for us, had it been one of us in this place.     I do believe it will be a while until we hear from him again.   I do want to believe that when he comes out the other side we will sit in our favorite diner, laughing about last nights adventure.   I do hope he is able to take away from this that we are his friends, that we care, very much so.    If wishes were horses, we would all ride….

Am now heading back to the warmth of the comforters piled on my bed, grateful that we are all okay.     The fireplace that normally offers penetrating heat, well the tank is on “e”.   My fuel gauge is at 1/4, and we still have a couple months of cold winter weather so I’m keeping the temperature at 62.  My house made some very loud and scary sounds, twice now. I am concerned about the roof. Tomorrow we are getting freezing rain, ice… this could prove to be interesting. The older I get?  The older winter in Vermont gets.  As I sit in my house with now four broken windows, portable air conditioners that didn’t make it out of the windows before snow fall, a door which will not open…I’m thinking maybe it’s time to give it up, give up winters in Vermont…My beloved Vermont.

Okay so I’m not stupid… I just didn’t exercise my best judgment!

If you want to bet on anything today, bet that I will not share this experience with my dad…. he taught us to be smarter than this!