Tag Archives: growth

The itsy bitsy spider…

Standard

I had fully intended to have a Donna Day, pj’s, Bose, paint brush in hand.   I did all of these, but I have been distracted all day, combined with the untreated ADHD, we are talking some major bouncing today.

Received some very hard news this morning that is not up to me to share, but I have been sick to my stomach all day.   Perhaps one day I will be able to share on it all, but right now I cannot, and will not until I have permission.

As everyday comes and goes I am always reminded of how short life is.   To see my great niece and nephew’s pictures on fb, I am shocked at how much they have grown and matured.  There has been so much that has happened this year, in the past year and a half, that I can’t even keep up.   My head feels like I am on a hampsters wheel this minute, trying to wrap my head around all the changes.   I think of my dad who will be 85 in a couple months, and how difficult that situation is, I guess when your parents are that age you have to think about their passing, but Lewy Body Dementia.    NOT FAIR.  But NOTHING has been fair in my family.

I have been feeling good, accessing some hard times and working diligently on the book I promised myself I would write 10-15 years ago.   As a creative I sometimes feel like I am channeling, because I sometimes read back what I have wrote, or painted, and I think “who did that?”   And just when you think you’ve caught a break, something else shows up to knock you to your ass.  Yes, I know, this is life.  We were never told life would be fair, nor was I born with a silver spoon in my mouth.   But I come from strong line of parents.   Brave parents.   I have often shared about how they taught me to be resourceful.    As an artist it is a wonderful trait and skill to have.

Right now I am not centered, and I am walking in circles, and if I allow myself to feel anything today it is anger.  But we all know that anger is a whole lot easier to feel than emotional pain, or sadness.    I have thought about those souls who “cut” themselves.   It offers relief from their pain, their torment, but of course it’s temporary.   But what I am reminded again today is that everything is temporary.

In my life I have vacillated through much.    Decades ago now when I had to have a sportscar, or designer clothes.   Those days are long gone.   That doesn’t mean I don’t have dreams or see cars that I like and say “damn”, it’s just that for a long time, I have struggled with basic survival needs.   Right now while I am not where I want to be, but I am so better off than I have been in a long time.    I sometimes think to myself “When I get here, I will be okay, etc.”    Then days like today I am reminded that TODAY, this moment is all we have.   Rather than beat myself up for where I wanted to be at this point in my life, I am taking a very deep breath tonight, saying prayers of thanks, and asking for  the ability to help someone I love.

Life isn’t about money, yes, it is easier to have it, I remember the days fondly when I could buy whatever I wanted, but now those things mean very little to me.   The greatest commodity we have is time.   Tomorrow is promised to no one.    The successes in my life have to be celebrated each day, not as certain intervals that I think would bring me more happiness, or at a lower weight, or whathaveyou.    Future’s have a way of falling down in midflight.     So today I am right back to basics, and feeling grateful for where I am, that I have a comfortable bed to sleep in, that I have food in my refrigerator, that I have a place called home, and that as far as I know today, right now, I have my health.   Cannot stress enough how if you have your health you have it all.    If you don’t understand this, you one day will.  I think it’s a right of passage per say.  When you or someone you love is faced with serious illness, the gift that comes out of it if you’re strong enough to grab it, is perspective.

I take things for granted, we all do.    We leave our driveway and take for granted that we are going to go to the grocery store and come back with food, safely.     We take for granted much.    And yet, how I feel right now tonight, is that it is the recipe, or all that we take for granted that really can define your life one day.    It’s the smaller things in life, the tiny steps, the smiles, the tears, reaching out your hand to someone in need, these are the things that really matter.    I am reminded when I spent some time at Mass General Hospital with serious illness, infection, and the night prior to being admitted I had been bitching about my hard mattress, and stupid shit that the next day, upon admission and realizing I was in a fight against time, none of that mattered.  It didn’t matter.    When I passed the danger zone and was released and I drove myself home, and I got home, the very things I had been unhappy with a week before were now embraced, loved, as luxuries.

It’s impossible not to take things for granted, otherwise we would live in constant fear, etc.   But in the classic christmas movie, I cannot for the life of me remember the name of it right now, but he grabs the broken stair bannister and smiles, celebrates it.  I think if we can recognize that everything here is temporary, so you do your best (if that’s who you are, and you give it your best, and if it’s a hard day, you hope tomorrow will be better, but if for some reason you don’t wake up tomorrow, or tomorrow comes with more calamity, what were the simple things of yesterday that you had that you wish you had on this new day?

I am not a religious person, I am highly spiritual however, and I try not to judge others, but I fail, and I give my life my best, and some days, I can’t get out of my own way.    I win, I swear like a parrot at times because it makes me feel tougher, and that somehow I will not be hurt again, or being tough will keep others at bay.  Whatever.    It’s all so stupid, it’s meaningless.

Life isn’t about hiding from the hard shit.  It’s about walking through it, and if you’re fortunate, coming out the other side.  It’s about growth from A – Z, it isn’t about the destination but the journey.     How brilliant our lives would be if we were appreciative of the smaller things.

I am going to try to be kinder to myself, I am going to try to slow my mind down, feel each step as I take it, and look around to what is there, and I hope I will become more aware and appreciative of the things that I take for granted.   I have been doing this somewhat with my painting.   I used to paint something to finish it.  Not anymore, I work on it slowly, sporadically, I think about it, where I want to go with it, what I like about it, or what I don’t.   It has made me a better artist.    So no doubt, slowing my ass down and recognizing all that I have to be grateful for, will make me a better, happier person.

Go forth, in love and acceptance of yourself and others.  And I pray that from this moment forward I will not overlook the itsy bitsy things that are more precious than gold!

Advertisements

Stepping towards a dream

Standard

I just recently took a big step in moving towards a dream of mine.  It’s been a LONG TIME coming.   I remind myself that I am investing in myself, not the list of others I’ve invested, some foolishly.

Having to learn new things is great, but I  no longer learn at the pace I did when I was younger, and the need to repeat the paragraph a couple of times before I fully comprehend it.

Aging man.   Should be easier!    Ya make it through the times where you do not have any idea what you are doing, in youth, looking for others approval, and even in maturity at times.   Ya get your life together, thinking you’re doing well, and then your faced with facts of aging.  Not pleasant.   And I know I am in my late 50s, considered to be the new 40s,,, I NEVER WANT TO RELIVE MY 40s EVER AGAIN.   It was by far, the hardest, worst times in my life.  Illness, death of sibling, breast cancer, another close death, reconstruction, with complications all the way.    Yup, I’ll take my 50s, and though I’m not as sharp as I once was, I’ll figure it out.   I’m mostly referring to my parents, my dad now.   The new challenges that aging creates, if you are so fortunate to grow old!   It just ain’t right!

So as I take this step there is excitement, ambivalence, hope, fear.  “What if I fail?”  But darling, “What if you fly?”

 

 

If you could do it over again…. what would you change?

Standard

If you were given one point in your life that you could return to, and could change the direction you were going, what would it be?   Do you see this as a regret?  As growth?  Or the ole “hindsight is 20/20”.      I’ve been asked on numerous occasions, if you had to go back and do it all over again would you want to?    My stock and honest answer is always “If I could go back with the knowledge that I have now!”

So let’s look at that.   At what age would you be again?  What decision would you make differently?  And more importantly, what changes, and what outcome would you be looking for?

When I was a teen “artex” was big.   And I did this wall hanging for my grandparents “Today is the first day of the rest of your life”.      Recollecting difficult times when a loved ones future was counted in “days”, what would you want to do for the “rest of your life?”

I have never been a materialistic person, except when it comes to my art supplies.  I have spent a lifetime trying to make a difference in someone else’s life.  And I’ve learned that this is one area that I cannot or will not “skimp”.   Why?  Because it grounds me, my creativity defines a large portion of me, but most importantly, it brings me peace, something that I strive for on a daily basis.    If granted one wish, what would it be?  Some would say “win the lottery”, others would say “one more day”, and my answer would say “peace”.   I would like whatever days I have remaining to be at peace with myself regardless of others and their actions.

I look around my studio and I see the multitude of mediums that bring me joy.   And there are days, like the last couple of days, where I cannot accomplish that which I want to, and I cannot find the peace I long and strive for.  Sleep becomes my best friend, and even then, when that which isn’t settled starts to rear its ugly head in dreams, then I know, it’s time to look at something, and probably something that I don’t want to.  Gulps.

“If this world makes you crazy and you’ve taken all you can bear”…    When you stop telling yourself, or allowing others to tell you what you should or shouldn’t feel, what you should or shouldn’t do, what you want or don’t want in your life;  When you quiet all outside feedback, and self defense, or the like, then you are sitting with your truth.    This can be a fairly lonely place to be, but getting back to peace, I’ve learned in my life that if I cannot find peace, then chances are very good that there is something in my life that I’m not accepting, that I’m not looking at, or allowing myself to look at, feel, then find acceptance in.     In short, acceptance for me equals peace, no matter the topic, the rights, the wrongs.

When was the last time you shut out the world, and all of it’s influences, including people, belongings, actions, and just sat quietly with yourself.  Have you ever done this?   What “truth” did you come to?  Was it good?  Was it bad?  Indifferent?  Colorful?  Black?  White?  Have you ever really been alone?  Have you allowed yourself the freedom or being alone?  Or do you see that as scary?  Unthinkable?  Frightening?  Lonely?

I’ve known loneliness in my life, and I’ve known and experienced great love.   I’ve also spent the majority of the last 12 or so years alone, and once getting over the initial shock, and realizing after many black and blues and heartache, that I don’t need someone beside me to “validate” me, or my worth, and likewise, someone whose selfish goals are to somehow gain from your reaps, (but worse?) tragedies.

I find much more peace now in solitude.   I am good company for myself, and my interests and desires to learn and create keep me chugging away along the road that is sometimes paved and other times, barely visible, but I set my sights on what I want, and when I do that, when I focus on that (again, without “static” from others), it becomes attainable and the finish line may be the focus, but it isn’t the prize.  The prize is the growth and experiences that happen while getting there.

These days solitude means peace for me.     My home is my haven, and I only invite those in who understand this, who want what is best for me, who come to visit me with all my bling or scars with desire to know where I am, what I’m doing, where I’m going, without judgement or hidden agendas.   And if I am only inviting these types of creatures, or people into my home, then why would I also allow my own behavior to squelch my day?   Self sabotage needs to go, yesterday.

 

Negative space

Standard

I’m getting some much needed alone time.     With music (therapy) in the background, windows open, I am painting today off an easel, a piece I had designed many years ago.  I’m not painting it the same way, nor with the same paint.   Today’s version is more realistic, and the palette much brighter than that of before.    I attribute that to high pigment paint AND my own growth as a woman, as an artist.

So I’m not using the old reference photos for anything but placement.  Basically trying to keep my life simple, because I recall the agony I had when first sitting down to design this piece.  It initially had a couple of watering cans in it, and it was too busy.   Back when I analyzed the shit out of everything, I would sometimes “fill” my paintings to the brim, instead of breathing, detaching, and appreciating or recognizing the need for negative space.  MUCH like the alone time I am having today.  I don’t mean to infer that I’m negative, not in the least today, but my alone time is crucial and vital to my peace of mind, creativity, and general health.  Therefore, I’m comparing negative space in a painting to alone time in my life because it’s needed and I’m usually pleased with the end result.

Such is true of food, as well.  I’ve been off sugar since April.   The first week was HELL.  I had headaches, quick trips to the bathroom, dizziness, and generally feeling like all I wanted to do was pick up a pop and drink it.    Anything to quiet the toxins that were being excreted from my body.    A week later I started feeling better, and stronger, and now some 14 weeks later I’m feeling SO much better, dropped a few pounds, and my goal is to remain happy and kind to myself.   The inner critic that resides in the darker parts of my mind is silenced at this moment.   When I catch it coming to forefront of my mind, I do what I was taught to do while learning to meditate.    Acknowledge it, and then go back to focus.   It helps.  And I’ve learned that it really is the smaller things that help me, not the large and drastic changes the critic sometimes pushes me to believe I need.

Music is a huge source of happiness for me.   Today, as my playlists echo throughout my studio, I acknowledge where the song takes me, the people that were in my life at that time, situations, circumstances.   And then when the song is done, I do it all over again with the next song.    I have several playlists that I’ve made, one all about my life, songs that come from the most significant times of my life.  And I’m here to tell you, “significant” wasn’t necessarily  big events like marriage, but reaching understanding, un-complicating my life from worry, finding peace, acceptance of things that LARGELY contributed to the bright side of, and improved quality of my life.

I’ve no answers for others, this in itself is a valuable piece of information.  I can’t live my life or make decisions for someone else, just myself.   And some days I have all I can do to do this for myself.    So the point I’m trying to make is, ridding myself of the clutter, both mentally and physically, in all aspects of my life have gifted me with this day of feeling happy.   I’m much looser with my painting, I’m focusing on the moment, and in the moment, and enjoying all this “negative space”.

Hope yours is going well, too!

 

On love

Standard

It seems much of my life I have spent questioning my decisions.   I’m sometimes afraid to make decisions for fear that I’ll regret them, rarely has anything to do with the consequences.   I guess, in short, I lack self confidence, in some things, and then in others, I stand strong, tall, stoic to criticism with the ability to see clearly and fully that my decisions are just, sound, right.     Why the variance?

I had some crap dreams last night.   I will include that Trump was in one of them.  Rolling my eyes.    I don’t normally dream about our 45th President!   So why now?

When I access the parts of my life that include pain, disappointment (and we all have it), I weaken and have a tendency to “feel it” emotionally.

I’m reminded of a poem I came across at the young, ripe age of 15 that finds its way back in my life on occasion, and when I need it most.   The woman who wrote it was young at the time, and I remember reading something she had written on it saying she has never understood the depth of interest and popularity of it.     I found that interesting, because for me, this poem helped me stand up after assaults to my being or character.   I’ve shared this poem with many people during challenging parts of their life.   So why would it mean so little to her and so much to those of us who used to it carry us through difficulties?

She wrote about specific things that I have experienced, and I suppose, love and youth, or youth and love.   Earlier times in my life when love was defined differently than it is today (Thank God!).    “Kisses aren’t contracts”, we all “get this” when we experience the end of relationship, of death or loved one and we find ourselves alone.    The most important part for me was and still is ” So we begin to bring ourselves flowers”.    Hence, what I still continue to learn, to love and take care of myself versus others.

Of course I still lend a hand and my heart to others, but I’ve learned to first make sure I’ve filled my own needs.    I’ve also learned that it’s okay to have needs, it’s not selfish to take care of yourself, or put yourself first.    So perhaps, the answer to the author of the poem not understanding how or why her early poem was so popular is because, she learned with only one lesson to give to herself, or to love without losing herself.  And then there are many people like myself, who only after heartache and discord, learn, and even after that, continue the cycle until we finally “get it”.    Our hearts want one they want, but what if our idea of love is whacked?    I’m reminded that the “definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over hoping for different results”.

For whatever the reasons, I still love this poem, and while I no longer cling to it like I did as an innocent 15 year old girl, as a 55 year old woman, I reminisce and bathe in the memories of “love”, and how over the years I’ve learned to accept self love!

Here is the poem by Veronica Shoffstall

Image result for after awhile you learn the subtle difference between

 

Artistic growth

Standard

As I continue with the art challenge to post pictures of my artwork for 6 days on my facebook page, I am having an internal conversation with self.

I look at the scenes and see how much I’ve grown as an artist, and always, as a woman.   I have been trying to find my very first painting to post, alongside my last.   I think what I need to do, for my own sake, is to repaint an earlier piece.

I know it’s important that I honor every part of my journey.   I am mostly self taught, with a few classes with awesome teachers.  I’m now looking to take some classes on painting animals, because I’m enjoying it very much.  The roosters I’ve been painting have come easy for me, but when you add the body, the sprawling and presence of many beautiful feathers, I become perplexed and sometimes, overwhelmed.  But I know I can do it, I can learn this.  I know i will.

Most of my earlier Santa’s have taken on a provocative look.   I will share this lightly.   Most of my Santa’s noses ended up looking like male genitalia.   My students and I would laugh over it, and many comical, highly amusing stories have come from my earlier work.   Perhaps now I can paint noses as I’d have to reach deep into my long term memory to paint male genitalia!   I say that laughing, laughing more, and laughing loudly.

Just like our growth as a person, an artist has to start somewhere.    The ideas and things that I have in my head that I’ve yet to put to canvas are so different from my paintings of past.  But that’s because I’ve changed, we all change.   I’m not the same person I was when I designed and painted prior.   I see things differently, and my colors and interests have evolved.   Honor the process, Donna, honor the process.

God speed to you and yours

Like sand through the hourglass

Standard

The past couple weeks I’ve had to take a hiatus from working on my house, given that I lifted my mantle off the gas fireplace and wrenched my back.   So I have found myself sorting, tossing, and thus, revisiting my life with notebooks of writing, poems, boxes of pics, and more.  Where the hell did the last 54 years of my life go?

Further depth came after the tragedies in Orlando.   I will not even go here.  I will say that I have been and am praying for all those affected by such monstrosities.   I am saddened beyond words, of what has and is transpiring in this country, in this world.   I pray for ALL of us.

But I will admit, there is something more going on with me.   I don’t fully understand it, nor am I questioning it, but I am at peace with so much, even in spite of all that is going bad in this world.   I FEEL something coming.   I have random thoughts of what it may be, but I’m not going to go here either.  What I want to share is, I’m accepting myself for who I am, where I’ve been, and finding peace with all that I wanted to be, do, but probably never will.

While looking at pictures from my past, I feel the moment, I recall the times, the feelings, the good, the bad, and the beautiful.   I am aligning with who I am.   And while I want to lose 75 lbs, and more, I am finding peace even with that.  What if I don’t?  Do I want to spend another minute of what’s left of my life worrying about or condemning myself for NOT  BEING PERFECT?

It’s interesting, the story of my life told in pictures.   I have known great love.  I have known great pain.  I have accomplished a lot on my own, without formal education, and I have met SOOO many wonderful people in my life.   Many friends have come and gone, and that’s okay, it is just the ebb and flow of life.  Today, tonight, as I write this blog, I am right with all that has transpired in my life.   I have found peace, and for that I AM TRULY THANKFUL.  If my life ends tomorrow, I am okay with it, because this place where I am is amazing.

I am grateful I was there with my sisters through the illnesses that stripped them of life.  I am grateful that I spent almost a decade of my life with a man who shortly thereafter, drank himself to death.  I am grateful for this “fat” that encompasses my body, because it helps me feel protected from an uncertain world.    Feeling safe anywhere today, is a big thing.   But most importantly to me, I am thankful that I am a good, honest, hard working person who finds pleasure in the simplest of things, in nature.   I don’t spend my time wishing I was in a relationship, or with anyone else, I am happy with my life.   I have learned the most through every tragedy and laughed immensely through much.

In many ways, where I am right now reminds me of surviving and completion of treatment for breast cancer.  It was freeing.   I had (and still have) no room in my life for luxury drama, or bull shit.   It’s actually a little frightening how vocal I can be now regarding this.   The tiny filter that I once had is almost entirely invisible now.   The older I get, the freer I feel about speaking my truth.

Long gone are the days when I worried about someone liking me, or what they thought of me.   I’m right with myself, with God.   I’m right where I’m supposed to be, and it feels good.

I hope that you are finding peace in your life.  I hope you are, too, realizing how precious life is.   How every second of every day is not promised to anyone, and in the blink of an eye your life, and those lives around you, can be altered drastically.  Anyone hearing of the massacre in Orlando, can you help but think this?

Sending you love, light, and as I mentioned earlier, prayers for the world we live in.

 

My dad

Standard

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.

Signs…..

Standard

Ahhhh, internet.  I have been without internet for a while.   I’ve missed writing.  I’ve missed surfing the net for just about anything that I wanted to know.   It’s been a very long winter here in New England.    COLD!    I keep my thermostat at 50-52 degrees, use a duraflame heater I bought last Fall.  It’s supposed to cost .25c an hour.   We shall see.    This has been one, if not the hardest winter I recall.    So very grateful my girlfriend and I put plastic on my decrypted windows.    I snuggle on the couch crocheting (because the weight of whatever I’m working on adds warmth) wearing a scarf, hat, wrapped in blankets.   Sounds ridiculous it is what it is.  It’s been  a VERY long winter.   Oodles of snow, ice.   Just as I started to feel relief with daylight savings time, warmer weather, I am now facing roof leaks, and the snow that the beautiful sun is dissolving is seeping into my cellar.    I’m so friggan over winter.   GO AWAY!   Bring on the mud!   My driveway looks like an ice rink.  There is ice probably 4″ thick.    Joy, joy, oh joy.   Still, I have gratitude for having food, clothing, shelter.  Maslow was a smart man, eh?   I was feeling pretty sorry for myself until I learned that a friends house was destroyed by fire.   I guess I don’t have it too bad after all? Have been struggling emotionally, which isn’t abnormal but it’s been more severe of late.   Any New Englander would tell you that they are ready for Spring, I’m so not alone.   But this is deeper than cabin fever.      I’ve made some decisions that, if I follow through, will improve the quality of my life.   These days I find myself asking that question often.  “Will buying this (or that) improve the quality of my life?    Will this action bring me peace? serenity?   And if it doesn’t, I walk away.  I’m getting too old to be heading in the backwards direction! It came to me why I’m struggling so.   I know living in the past is fruitless and hijacks the present.  I’ve been working on changing that.   Though there are still things from my past that I cannot get past, I find it interesting how our subconscious mind “remembers”.     There is no escaping it, so I guess the answer for me is to do my best, acknowledge when these feelings, thoughts come up, and then try to detach from it, to not give it additional power.    I’m sure you would agree, much easier said than done! I’ve got Spotify blaring I the background.   Music, oh beloved music, I shudder to think what life would be like without it!  I have missed   My comfort, joy, muse…. I believe in signs.   I believe in messages from heaven (and probably some from hell!)  🙂   This evening my girlfriend treated me to dinner.  We went to one of my favorites, our favorites “Friendly’s”.   While enjoying both food and company I noticed a young couple come into the restaurant.   The girl was wearing a sweatshirt with “Wolfeboro” on it, with a moose embroidered underneath.    This was a definite sign for me.  A much needed and appreciated one.   Both serving significant meaning to me, and offering comfort through the difficult right now.   Thank you, D… Thank you!   I love you ! Are you open to messages and gifts from the “other side”?  I once would have cared whether you think I’m nuts or not, and now?   Now I don’t.     Progress!  Even if our beliefs differ, that doesn’t mean I don’t wish you love, as I do.   I wish you all goodness, peace.  I’m grateful to be at a place now where I recognize, we all have our individual journeys, lessons.  I’m grateful I have no desire to control another’s path, and I’m working on my critical judgment of others, and of myself.    I want to walk through the rest of my life with peace, hope and faith that I will be given what I need to become the person I want to be, am supposed to be.   I want to treat myself with the same love and respect I have for loved ones.   It’s time!

How did I get this age?

Standard

While gazing out the window today through the brilliant green branches that hover near, I thought about time. How time eludes me, how slow it goes when times are tough, and how quickly when they are good. Yet still, even after the storm passes it seemed to pass at a very fast pace, just not as quickly as when all is well, flows smoothly.
Have you ever turned on the television and seen how your favorite actors or actresses have aged? Or on facebook see posts of gadgets that you used as a child and they are now “Remember when”? Looking at your family, your friends and wonder how the heck did they get old when I am still young, spry and have elasticity in my skin? But seriously, I looked down on an 8x magnifying mirror the other day and almost had a heart attack. Who is that? Who is that woman in my rear view window?
I think of myself as in my 30’s, only with more aches and pains. Last night I looked at single men in my age group on Match dot com and couldn’t believe how old they looked. How is it possible that I am 52? How? And yet no matter how old I get, my sister will always be 5 years older than me! Saving grace.
I have on several occasions been asked “If you had it to do over again, what would you change?” Well, for one, that BIG hair in the 80’s! I wouldn’t have gotten married so young. I would have waited until my 30’s, or even 40’s. I would have gone to college to be a graphic designer or fashion designer. It comes natural to me, but without proper training, well. I needn’t say more. I have sketches of sweaters and vests I plan to make this Fall/Winter. I have a book that chapters have been written and rewritten, and still… unfinished. I have paintings that are 75% finished, not many, but a few. I have blogs in draft form that I never published, edited, followed through. Sometimes I think that by not finishing all of these things, most certainly the book I’ve been writing for years and years, that I won’t die before I do it. A twisted sort of thinking that God will not take me before I finish these things. HA! Who am I fooling?
Now, as I sit here writing this, looking around at how my living room is decorated, with solids, plaids and florals, I wonder…Does my home reflect my age? Or more? Does my home look like an 80 year old woman lives here? Does it reflect my artistic abilities? The settled life that I lead? And on the flip side of this, what does my future hold? Will I finish the projects above or find myself living my dream(s)? Or a better question, will I jump off the cliff into faith and chase them?
Obviously today I am reflective. I am grateful for how things are today. As imperfect as they are, my life is good. Of course there is always room for self-improvement and even some material things, but my life doesn’t nor has it revolved around such. I say I don’t measure success in material form, but if I didn’t, would I want more? Is it wrong to want more?
So now I shall go put the freshly washed sheets on my bed. I will put on my 2.5 reading glasses, settle into a good book, which surprisingly to me is the Bible. I have tried over the years to do just so, but could not understand or interpret it and now it suddenly makes sense. I will plaster my legs with arthritis creme, and hopefully fall asleep for a lengthy, restful period of time. Before I close my eyes for the final time, I shall thank and praise God for my life, for my family and friends, all that I have, and my health. I will ask for guidance for what I am supposed to do tomorrow, and for strength and fortitude to face something I must face tomorrow… and when and if I wake up in the morning, I will give praise for another day, another opportunity to work on my unfinished projects, plans, another opportunity to expand my horizons, to spend time with those I love, for another opportunity to see childhood toys in antique shops. I will not look down on an 8x magnifying mirror tomorrow, I will however honor the skin that shows aging and give thanks for the anti aging creme that I love and sell. I will honor my aches and pains, put a smile on my face, walk through the challenges with my head held high with the grace of an aging woman, not the emotions of a child…and I shall make the most of this day. Have a great day!