Tag Archives: lessons

The itsy bitsy spider…

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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!

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And once again, the pendulum swings

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May has proven to be a difficult month for me.  In between praying for death with an abscess tooth, I have lost two women who were both significant in my life.

First, a woman who was like a second mom to me.  I met her at 19 years of age.  I would go to her, numerous and various times throughout my life when battered by the world and events.     She would help me make sense of it.    When in my early 20s tragedy struck when my brother’s girlfriend was in an automobile accident, killing both her (18) an her 14 years old cousin.)  I went to grief counseling, I went and talked to a couple pastors, none offered me the acceptance that came until I spoke to Judy.   I will never forget her words, that just helped me through this difficult time.  “What makes you think God only wants to be surrounded with old souls?”   I think of this statement whenever I hear someone young has died.

Judy was an intelligent woman who kept up on world affairs.    She loved her family, her partner, her friends, and I was so fortunate to be one of them.    When she smiled, the world smiled, it was such a nice scene.  I hope I always remember her smile.   She encouraged me, time and time again, and guided me (when asked) throughout my life.    I remember learning after stopping by to see her, that she had metastatic breast cancer.  I stuck pretty close to her after that.   Weekly contact, visits when I could.   I am so grateful that I did this, now.   I wanted to help her, as she has helped me throughout my life.  She was wise, patient, and incredibly kind.  She was so good to me, and I miss her horribly.  I can’t think of her without tears running down my face.  I know time will help me learn how to live and accept life without her, and she always told me she would always be there for me, even when I couldn’t see or hear her.  How blessed I was to have her on my side.

This morning I learned that my 90 year old mentor and friend, Barbara passed away.   It really hasn’t fully sunken in yet.    You know that protective denial we are sometimes gifted with when the pain is more than we can bear?   Barbara was an amazing artist, worked in several mediums.   She had traveled a lot, had seen so much in her long life.  I loved hearing her stories.  She was always so generous with sharing them.  The small town we live in will undeniably feel this loss, a community will grieve together.

Having only high school art class as education, I learned so much from Barbara.   She had a keen eye, an eye that instantly told me where my artwork needed work.    She was so creative, always painting for charities, for fund raisers for her beloved church, and writing articles for the Historians, or papers.    She had presence.   When she would attend my art classes, my students would look at what I did, then they would look over to Barbara to see what she did!   It was comical.   “When are we going to learn what Barbara just painted?”     I liked to jokingly take credit for all her artistic abilities and talent, I am smiling recalling this.   She taught me, and many of my students so much.

It’s been tradition for over a decade now that we would have a private ornament class, she, her niece, and myself.     The last time was in October of last year and I remember when her niece and i were looking at Barbara’s finished ornaments and realizing how much she had lost.  She was seeing things differently, forgetting, and i know that moment when we both saw this, we both started mourning for her then.   It is so sad to see someone you love with failing health.  It was hard to look at her last ornaments and not grab them to fix them.

I could go on and on about both of these beautiful women.   And I will in separate writing.    I am going to be 58 years old this year, this is the time when “losing people” typically begins.  It’s a cold fact of life, but it doesn’t make it any easier.    When I learned of Barbara’s passing I wanted to call my mom, she passed last year, and then I thought i needed to call Judy, who just passed two weeks ago.  My life as I know it, and the luxury of having these quality women in my life has changed with both their passings.  You always think you have more time…  at least I did.

So today, I just want to talk about these losses.   To suggest to you to reach out to those you love, even if for a brief phone call or visit.   Time waits for no one, and while both of these women lived much longer lives than others i have lost and grieved for, their presence, their smiles, their strengths and weaknesses will be forever present in my heart.    I know I am a better person for having known both of these women, and I know I am a better artist for having studied with Barbara for several decades.  How fortunate I was, how fortunate I am that I will take all they gave to me with me as I face the future without them.   Right now it seems fairly dark, but I know, this too shall pass, and the many gifts they taught and gave me, I will try to give to others.

As the rain falls outside my window, it matches my emotions.   Today is a hard day, May has been a tough month, and life is so short.    The pendulum of life and death has hit hard this month.   And this, too shall pass.

 

Experience…

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“I remember standing on the corner at midnight, trying to get my courage up.  There was this long lovely dancer in this club downtown, I loved to watch her do her stuff.  Through the long lonely nights she filled my sleep, her body softly swaying to that smokey beat, down on Main Street…”

In 1980 I was at a Bob Seger concert at Boston Garden.  When it was announced that they were recording this concert for a new LP (yes, I’m that old), I was standing on the chair, screaming, jumping up and down!    It was a great concert.

In 1980 I was almost 20 years old.   At the concert with a guy that died a young death in a snowmobile accident.   He was 27 years old, with a wife and two kids.  We were long gone as a couple, but we both loved music.   We went to many concerts in the short time we were together.   He had big blue eyes, curly blonde hair, and was a big guy, someone who I felt protected with when we went to a “Black Sabbath and Blue Oyster Colt” concert in Boston.      My god, there were more people tripping than straight.  But I digress.

I often relate music to times in my life.  More so than not.   The memories can be very vivid, and can raise me up or drop me to my knees.  It wasn’t until later in life that I learned what real hardship and heartache was.  And don’t get me wrong, as a young person, love is a hard thing, especially lost love, but now, I think back and smile, grateful for the memories.    Some things weren’t meant to be.   And as true with most things, as I lived out portions of my life, I would understand why things didn’t work out the way I wanted them to, or had hoped they would.   I see young people and I think “My God, was I really ever that young?  That innocent?”   Hell YES!

It’s been many years since I stood on that chair screaming and singing my lungs out.   And when people say “he or she has changed”, I smile and listen, but my thoughts are “Have they?”  Have I?     Yes, life has a way of smartening you up, experiences have a way of defining moments that change the course of your life.   But are we the same?

Best as my experience tells me, when you knew someone in your youth, if they were good, kind people, then chances are they still are.   And if they were an asshole?  They may still be!      Life dishes out suntans AND wet towels!   Sometimes the wet towels are so heavy it takes everything you’ve got to keep moving.   But experience has taught me it helps to toss the wet towels, grab from it all that you have learned, both good and bad, then drop it in its path, and continue on.

Maturity is a beautiful thing.   In life we learn all kinds of things about people, ourselves.   I learned at the age above in my life this relationship was not meant to be.  While there was pain, it passed.   And I’m very grateful that I wasn’t his widow at 27.

The kind of people that draw my attention are the people who have walked through hell and kept walking.    Because NO ONE’s life is perfect, and some of us have learned the value in being honest about it.   That doesn’t mean you stay sitting in the sand, with the wet towel around your neck.  It means you learn to be kinder to yourself, to accept change, and you learn the type of people who are deserving of your time, your heart.

Real people, with real issues.    I like people who have survived major shit.  Why?  Because they know who they are, they know what they don’t want, and what they do, and they value the smaller things in life, like the values of a person, not their mistakes.  And when we can finally accept that about ourselves, those of us who are blessed to live long enough to figure that out, there is comfort and peace in knowing, everything is as it should be, even if we don’t like it.

Very grateful for my life, and where I am today.  Is it perfect?  Not even close, but it’s mine, and I plan to make the most of it!

Today

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“Today while the blossoms still cling to the vine, I’ll taste your strawberries, I’ll drink your sweet wine.  A million tomorrow shall all pass away, ere I’ll forget all the joy that is mine, today”.  John Denver, “Today”.

Feeling fairly defeated at the moment.   Have been making great progress in my health, and I know how important that is.   But I was kicked in the teeth about an hour ago, after checking on one aspect of this thing called my life here on earth.

12 years of battles have deemed me irresponsible.  I don’t want to share what I’m talking about, and I know I’m not alone in this but what I will say is this, those times when it feels like you just can’t win?   Times like I’m experiencing right now, this very second, I need to do something for myself, to ground myself.  I need to say prayers of thanks for the progress I AM making, and the rest will fall into place I suppose, if they are ever supposed to.  I can only do my very best.

On a much lighter note, I went and had an ice cream cone with my friend today.  We were laughing and our usual goofy selves (always belly rolls), anyway, we get out of the car and we parked next to a vehicle, there was a man standing there waiting for his two sons to get out of his van.   I was dressed in raggedy, ripped at the knees, capris, and an oversized Boston Red Sox t-shirt, I’ve been working today.  As true when we spontaneously head out for a ride, I had some paint on my hands, but nothing major.   My girlfriend looked pretty in some pistachio colored blouse.  At any rate, the guy looks at us and rolls his eyes.

So as we’re walking to the counter, we stand behind these two women, one who whistles very loudly using her fingers, pierces flesh, I swear.  Totally unconcerned about thos around her.  I said to Chris “I guess we know who that whistle is for?  Hey, at the count of three, lets turn around and reciprocate an eye roll when he walks up”  “Okay she says”.    1, 2, 3 …

We turned around and offered to him the same eye roll he gave us.   When I turned back towards the counter to order, I was laughing.   I don’t really care what this guy thinks of me, or how I or my friend looked.   But I wanted him to know that I saw him do that to us.    Chris said he was grinning smartly, I don’t know, I never looked at him again, but I referred to him as “whistle man” when we got into the car.  “Show me what face you made” I said.   So she makes this very funny strange looking face because she’s not the talented eye roller that I am.   I about laughed myself into wet pants.  “I guess we’re going to have to change our strategy for next time someone does this to us!”     It was nice to laugh.

But that really isn’t what is bothering me.   I think it’s funny that we did this.  And yes, I’m aware that a bigger person would’ve walked by and ignored.   But as I said to my friend “He knows nothing of me, what I’ve been thru, what I’ve survived, the kind of person that I am.   Screw him!”    But the blatant disrespect and supremacist attitude is typical of what this world is like now.   Disheartening, yes.    Did I take it personally?  Nope.

The ice cream was delicious.   It was a three scoop Pistachio Nut that I slowly and skilfully ate in between the belly rolls that followed in our trip to the grocery store.

And now that I’ve sort of purged some emotions, I’m feeling slightly better than I was before I sat down.  The keyboard is a coping tool for me.   Go get yourself your favorite ice cream!  Enjoy it with a friend.  It surely makes meeting asses funnier when you can share it with someone!

So, I’m off to try to nurture and get beyond the feelings of being defeated.  And I’ll say a prayer of “thanks” for meeting whistle man.   It’s always good to have examples of the people you don’t want to become or be like!

 

With every goodbye, we learn

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Saturday night.  I’m painting, with music in the background.  Finally got to town to get a few groceries, as we’re going to get another 12-18″ snow tomorrow.  The scraping of the windshield is old.

Have been reflecting today on many things.  For one, how the gift of age brings you knowledge.  Important knowledge.  Unfortunately our bodies wear out as we become brilliant!  But seriously, I’ve been through enough in my life to know, it may be dark now, but it won’t last forever.  One day I will feel better, and before you know it, that which caused me angst or grief becomes background flack.  Nothing you really miss over time, but you always remember the lessons.   Pain is a great motivator for change.   Pain is much of the reason why people change themselves, their lives.

I’ve also been thinking how grateful I am that I have good, sound, (well, somedays!) intelligent parents.   I’m grateful for the upbringing I had, and while I’ve skated in dangerous territory, I have the strength of my parents morals and standards, to hold strong too, as they are now, mine.

But youth, and I’m talking in your teens or twenty’s, depending on what you’ve been through, you don’t necessarily know at that age that things will fade, things will improve.  That doesn’t mean you stay laying in “wait” of it.  Because I think we were granted “free will”, and that gift can destroy us, if we let it.    But the strength of experience, that can sustain you for much.  It’s so unfortunate that at the toughest parts of your life you learn who is and isn’t your friend, who is loyal, who is worthy of being sent out to sea, but this, too, strengthens us.  We come wise.   The trick is not to become bitter.

I also see how things were prepared for me, to “get strong”.  What I mean by that, a divorce that I didn’t want but that a couple decades later I AM SO GRATEFUL it happened.  My life has been so much better than it was then.  But I was afraid, and I was young.   And while I didn’t know if I would get through it, I did, and I met someone else, and I worked on myself, and worked through the crap of it all.  I became a better person for it.  A person who at that time learned, I CAN accept, I CAN get beyond, I CAN grow, and learn, and start anew.  Then, when cancer starting ravaging my family, and the loss of my kid sister, that was so much larger than any divorce for me.  But I saw how going through the divorce years before had strengthened me.  So when my sister took ill, I could be there for her, and I was.     And then months later, her passing, the strength and wisdom I gained from that helped me, once again, start over, and say goodbye to someone I needed to say goodbye too.  And it took every bit of me to do that.

This is not to downplay loss.  Not at all.   In the end I had to accept the loss of this person, not just to booze but to death.  So, I can look back and see the times that brought the most growth for me.    And I’m a pretty strong chick!  Gotta tell ya!   But even in this, there are days I could easily fold into the arms of a trusted, and surrender myself in tears.

I’m thinking all of this because of a place where someone I care about is.   Man, he’s getting thrown a lot of lessons, and pain.   But I believe he will make it.   Once he starts building HIS life again.  I will be praying for him, and asking my faithful prayer friends to do the same.  He is a survivor of sorts already, freed from people that the average person would not even know exist, and trust me, I hope you never do.   But there are some pretty sick, ignorant people whose very ignorance is a bit scary to someone who follows rules and works for a living, and for everything they have.

So, that’s it for tonight.  I need to get back and finish the fifth rooster I’ve painted this week.   It’s been enjoyable, and I’ve regained some confidence with the brush.  Just have to do it, and say no to the negative.

Happy night!  Hope yours is, too.

“50 things about me!”

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1.)   I get teary eyed and goose bumps when I see a big old Red, White & Blue flag flying

2.)  One of the proudest days of my life was when I bought out my ex-husband, and owned my own home!

3.) I am the middle of five siblings

4.) I have known love

5.) I hope to be half the person my dog thinks I am!

6.) My mentor is an 87 year old retired art teacher who I just adore.

7.) I have been in a room with someone I loved when they were told they had only a short time to live

8.) I have EXCELLENT taste in friends.

9.) I find great joy in making things…. Art for one

10.) I have had more surgeries than I can to share!

11.) My home is like my womb, and I hope it’s comfy and inviting to all my guests

12.) I do not like to cook

13.) I rarely lose anything

14.) I am not a morning person, have never been

15.) I was unable to have children, so I guess I married them

16.) I believe in God, and I’ve been blessed to see his work in my life

17.) I believe if you give to another it comes back to you, tenfold

18.) I do not feel my age mentally, but physically I do

19.) My most creative time has been 10pm – 2am

20.)  I despise phones, but I love what my Iphone offers me

21.) I have smoked one cigarette in my life (at age 15), and I had a headache for 2 days

22.) I love Bailey’s Irish Creme

23.) I believe when a door is closed, a window is opened, or visa versa

24.) Music is vital to my happiness

25.) I have had the following cars:  1976 Subaru (Turquoise), 1980 Subaru Coupe (New), Renault p.o.s., 1988 Honda Prelude (new),  Pontiac Fiero, 2003 Subaru Wagon, 86 Jetta, 91 Jetta, 2003 Honda Odyssey, 2003 Jeep Liberty, and I now drive a 2002 VW Passat with 270K!

26.) I am my own worst critic

27.)  I believe food tastes better, and possessions are more appreciated when earned or grown yourself

28.) Sometimes I think about growing old, and I wonder if I will

29.) I am very grateful for my parents and their love for me

30.) The best advice given to me (or that I heard) was “Step back, look at the situation before responding, hence reacting

31.) I believe that everything happens for a reason, and that life is like a 100 piece puzzle that we will only get 60-70 pieces to connect

32.) I know mental illness intimately

33.) I love being near or close to bodies of water, I find it tranquilizing

34.) I hate snakes

35.) Family comes first, always

36.) I know what lost love feels like

37.) I am a cancer survivor

38.) I have laughed so hard I’ve wet my pants

39.) The older I get, the smarter my parents are!

40.) I believe we are responsible for our own happiness

41.)  I don’t like the state of the World.  It saddens me

42.) I have been physically abused before

43.) If I had to do it over again, I would have become a graphic artist

44.) Nature grounds me

45.) I like who I am, I am honest, kind, caring, and I love to laugh

46.) I have lost two sisters to ovarian cancer

47.) I fear more loss

48.) I love animals

49.) Fall is my favorite time of year

50.) I am an extrovert who heals and recoops like an introvert

Whose next to share their list???????????  I dare 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!

 

 

 

 

On loss

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My uncle died this morning.  He was my mom’s youngest brother and only living sibling.   His life was far from easy, having been in a very bad automobile accident in his teens.   I have been thinking about how hard it must be to be the last survivor of your siblings.    I do not have a death wish, but I do not care to walk through the pain of losing my surviving sister or brother.

It feels like I have lost 20 years of my life.   I find myself reflecting back to what seems a couple years but reality, now 10, 15, 20.   My parents are in their 70’s, my dad will be 80 this year.  The older I get the “younger” the years become.   I remember thinking I would never make it to 21…31…41…51 and I’ve surpassed all.

My parents found relief when my oldest sister, Karen died 2 years ago next month.  Karen’s life, like my Uncle’s was not easy either.  I am so not “up” on what is politically correct, both severe handicaps, both experiencing brain damage.    I heard the same relief in my mom’s voice tonight as I did when Karen died.   I know it is that she can die knowing he is okay.  She had promised her mother that she would watch over him, take care of him.  My mother did her very best.  My Uncle wasn’t always an easy person to get along with.   He could become belligerent, defensive when there was no threat to him.   Because of his mental and physical challenges he, like my sister, were in harms way of others.  I remember too well, the gifts we bought my sister, only to have them stolen from staff who were taking care of her.  Pitiful.  What kind of person could take from the handicapped?  Pitiful, may God be with them.   My Uncle, too, was manipulated many times over in his life.   Very sad to think about but sadder to think of the person(s) who did so.

My mom was with him, holding his hand when he passed.   I can’t help but think about all the defensive actions he took against a woman who loved him, who was only trying to help him, because he was persuaded by the greed of others.   I can’t help but think that when he opened his eyes this morning, my mother was the only one with him, he understood her efforts.   I can’t help but think how he felt when upon opening those eyes he gave her a great big smile.

My Uncle could squeeze the poop out of a buffalo nickel.   At one point when he was getting food from the local food bank, he sold the huge bars of cheese for $4.   When my mother found out she was aghast.   How could he do that Donna?   We laughed.   We found this out one of the many times he was in the hospital.  My mom gave his neighbors some of his food so that it wouldn’t go bad.  A male neighbor said to my mom “You mean, I can have the cheese for free?  I don’t have to pay $4?”    You couldn’t blame him, however.  His limitations played a part in his entire life.   When we were talking today we shared this memory and once again, laughed hysterically.  What’s worse?  He selling the cheese or the man who didn’t know it was available free to him as well and paid him $4?

I remember my Uncle fondly.   I remember as a youngster being “afraid” of him because it was obvious he was different.   I think back on that now and feel sad, yet I was just a kid, what did I know?

A couple of years ago he had a broken hip (?).   My mom wasn’t able to do for him as much as she did because she, too, had physical limitations at that time.  I would go to my Uncle’s, pick up his grocery list and try to pull the $20 bills out of his hand that he didn’t want to let go of.    He still owes me $60 from the last time I went.   I had forgotten this, my mom hadn’t.   Again, we laughed.

I saw him 2 weeks ago when I was leaving a doctor’s office and he was walking in.   My mom and he looked so much alike.   He, of course, had more hair on his face.    I kind of chuckled when I saw that he was finally wearing the new glasses my mom had arranged for him to get a few years ago.  He wouldn’t wear them.  He wanted to “save” them so he wouldn’t have to buy another pair in his lifetime.   As comical as I find all of this, I also saw the pain, the anguish some of this caused my mom.   She only wanted to do right by him, and she worked hard to do so.   I think she did great.  There were times when her patience was truly tested and she had to walk away to maintain composure.   She loved him.   He was her kid brother.   As difficult as he was, as stubborn as he could be, she loved him.    She really did love him.

When I think of some of the things my mom has had to endure in her life I am in amazement of her strength.   A strong willed personality, a strong intelligent woman, it doesn’t settle well within me to see her aging, to see my father aging.   I realize how fortunate I am to still have both my parents, I also realize if they die before me I will feel like an orphan.  I depend on my parents moral support, their advice.   I guess you know when you’ve grown up when you realize your parents DO and DID know what they were talking about.   Ahh, if I only knew half, now, of what I thought I knew then.

I will go to bed tonight envisioning my sister’s welcoming my Uncle on the other side.   He loved all of us kids and was particularly close to Karen, my oldest sister as he spent a lot of time with her when she was little.  My mom and he lost their mom too young, but older than many.  I suppose we all think of those we have loved and lost that it was too soon.

With teary eyes I just looked up into the sky to see if there was a particularly bright star.  My heart is in my throat at the moment as I think about life, as I think about death.    I’m not afraid to die, I am, however, afraid of losing others.   I barely made it through the grieving process with my sisters, with Jim.   Yet, death is a part of life, just as birth is.   The old adage “there are 2 constant’s in life…. death and taxes”.    I

I meant what I said earlier.  I do not want to be the last sibling to die.   I don’t know what is in store for us, for me but I hope that I will not live through another siblings death.  It will be hard enough accepting my parents.   One of the three of us will be the last to die, it’s a fact of life.  Not easy, but a fact of life.    My girlfriend lost her mother unexpectedly and quickly a few months ago.  She is a mother, a grandmother.  She struggles still.   I’ve said before, I don’t think we ever really heal.  I think that times teaches us how to coexist with the pain.   I’ve watched my parents lose their oldest and youngest daughters.  My heart hurts at the thought of it.   That has to be one of the most painful things in life, losing a child.    It must truly suck.  I think sometimes that my mothers strength was not only out of need, but faith.   Like my Uncle, my mom’s life hasn’t been easy either.   There are times I want to smack her, but those times are few and far between.  I value her opinion, and trust me, she is more than willing to give it!  I value her advice.

Rest in peace Uncle Hank.  I want to believe you are reunited with your parents, your brothers, your nieces.   You deserve to be walking in the house of the Lord, it’s time to rest, the dense path you carved through your life has come to close but you will not be forgotten.   I will always laugh at some of your antics and smile at the thought of you.    Rest in peace….  ♥

Which came first, being chicken or the ego?

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For those of you who have read my blog, you know I am a fan of the ID (Investigation Discovery) channel.   This morning I was doing some housework and “listening”.   The commentator shared a comment that struck me to a point of heightened eyebrows.   He said “If his reputation is damaged, his life is over”…which ended up being the motive for killing his soon to be ex wife.    I sat down, grabbed the remote control, rewound it…Yep, that was what I heard.  “If his reputation is damaged, his life is over”.

Too many times on these programs the motive is to hide a secret, a dirty secret.   I didn’t listen to what he was hiding, I didn’t care.  This phrase just struck me.  “If his reputation is damaged, his life is over”.   Really?

I thought of how stupid that comment was.    Mind you, I am not underestimating the mentality or ego driven homicides that happen everyday.   I think the word “narcissism” can be used to describe many of these murderers, these criminals.   Narcissism not being quite as cold as evil.   So why did that comment bug me?

It is simple.  It has been the roughest, most difficult times in my life when I experience the most growth.  It is when I am humbled that I become one with my gratitude.  My mind isn’t bouncing from here to there, with a tongue that flippantly says “I am grateful…”.  The truth is, I am grateful daily, for the things I do recognize as gifts in my life.   But when I am humbled, when I am scraping bottom and feeling like my happiness is gone forever, that my life now has no purpose, that my pain will never end, my bruised ego gets pushed to the side.  What replaces it, at first, is a steady flow of self pity.  But eventually that gets old and I’m forced to look at my situation, my shortcomings, my problems head on.   The very thing that displaces my hurt ego has the impetus to become an eventful, meaningful, powerful change in my perspective, thus my life.

I recall two occasions in my early 30’s when I went through what I then called “hell”.  One being a divorce from my second husband with whom I had been married for 10 years.    Now, I was working full time, I had good benefits, I was receiving good pay, but his “threats” to sell the house out from under me ruled my mind.   Between the loss of love, betrayal, and images of a cheating spouse in which I had compromised too much over the relationship (basically myself) and the loss of my home being threatened, what was “clear” and indeed a lie was that “my happiness, my life is over”.

As I think about that now I shake my head, in fact I am right now.   Much worse things happened to me in life, and while not invalidating the pain of a broken marriage, it was a time of incredible growth, painstaking growth.   My girlfriend Janice was my saving grace during this time.  Ever my confidant, my friend, my support, I doubt I would have made it through without her.  Not because it was insurmountable but because my unhealthy mental state was leading me down suicide alley.  My crushed ego, my “security”, my life had been turned upside down, thus my thinking not only what would obviously be unsettling, but the mindset in itself was a mine field.  I was my own worst enemy.

Twenty years later, another long term relationship having ended, a new career in the arts which I seeked out, I realize that what was totally devastating then, was the beginning of my life!   Engulfed in misery and pain, it can only last so long before one self destructs or can no longer look at themselves in the mirror.   I certainly didn’t pull myself out of this by myself.  I was given people, places, things that put me in alignment with my desires IF I dared to step away from my sorry self loathing, pain.   The event of this painful divorce helped ready me for the next major change in my life.

What that divorce brought me was the beginning of understanding, there is no security in marriage.  There really is no security in any relationship except your relationship with God, source, whom or whatever you call it.    As difficult as this time was in my life, it would later seem insignificant to things that happened in my life.      It was the beginning of my paving out my life in the terms I wanted it, what I wanted to do, to become aligned with that which I believe I was born to do.   I don’t believe we have one purpose but many.   That time in my life, that separation, divorce actually became my security!     I survived what I thought I never would, and not only that, became a better person.   I was being “pushed” to the next phase of my life.  All I had to do was show up!   But how difficult that can be when we are in despair.

So the comment “If his reputation was lost, his life was over” really made me think about how grateful I am for the things in which dropped me to my knees.    I am grateful I was humbled, I am grateful that I felt humiliated and embarrassed and 100 other things.   My life today, my security today is not based on another person, and while I am considered poor financially, my life is rich with color, family and friends.

I seldom carry “secrets”.  I have learned that we become as sick as our secrets.  I share openly events, both good and bad in my blog.   Chuckling as I recall a male friend saying to me “For someone who is afraid of intimacy you sure do share some personal things in your blog!”   I looked at him and said “Well, I wouldn’t talk about my sex life… even if I had one!”

We are all one.   A person’s financial wealth may societally be high on the totem pole, but that doesn’t make them a better person, or exempt from loss, illnesses, pain.    Perhaps one of the most significantly positive events in their life could be LOSING that societal “security”.  As there really is no security in that.   We are all one in the same.  It is not only basic needs that uniforms our lives similar.    We may have different colored skin, drive different cars, live in smaller or bigger houses, and for some, boxes, we are all one.    We may only be an event, a thought away from new perspective, a perspective that probably will not come without painful consequences, but our lives as a result of this could very well in fact become more purposeful, more meaningful.

I often say that I wouldn’t wish the journey of cancer on anyone, but I wouldn’t trade my personal growth for the world.    Sharing my life’s journey with others is in itself, humbling, but what another person thinks of me no longer rocks the core of my existence.   If nothing else my words are there to help another whom is walking a similar journey.  We are all one, we are all susceptible to things we fear (or don’t fear), and we are all a work in progress.

As has been proven repeatedly to me in my life… when I am aligned all that I need is put in front of me.  After a day of thinking about this, I logged into facebook and read an excerpt from Dr. Wayne Dyer’s new book “I can see clearly now” which speaks of this very thing but much more eloquently! 😉  Validation, a sign, proof for me that I am on the right track.  I am right where I am supposed to be.  My thinking is clear and my perspective on healthy ground.

Life’s classroom

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As I am cramming to finish my new designs, I flipped the television on.  The last thing I had watched was “Frasier”, so it was on Hallmark Channel.    I wasn’t paying much attention at first, if you’ve ever watched Hallmark movies you know they are heartfelt, sort of sappy, etc.  Because I needed a diversion from the obsessing I was doing on my paintings I started to listen.

Now lets back up three days ago.  Lilly and I were out cruising around on a back road, one of our favorite things to do.  It makes me smile to see her stretched out with her nose out the window.  My little bear cub.  I smiled as I noticed how content she was, how happy she was.    Not to dwell on loss, but I had thought after Brody passed that I should give her to someone who has another dog.  She was so distraught, withdrawn, sad for months.   It was so sad.   Well, as I watched her in the back seat of the jeep, my mind thought about how grateful I was that I didn’t give her away.   She has had a lot of trauma in her short little life.  I didn’t want to abandon her, too.   Further reflection I realized, it wasn’t really about HER pain that wanted me to let her go, but more about MY pain.  I was already in pain, and seeing her like that was a constant reminder.

Back to Hallmark, in this movie a couple lost their young daughter to a wreck.   As my mind wandered I have always been surprised that the divorce statistics for couples who have lost children are very high.  How could that be?  How could they have brought this beautiful being into the world, lost her, and turn away from each other?  Well, I thought about my feelings towards Lilly’s pain.  A constant reminder.  It was awful to see her in such pain, and because of my own, I didn’t feel like I was comforting her.   I wonder, is this why many couples lose each other after the loss of a child?

I shrugged my shoulders, surrendering to the past thoughts that I didn’t understand it, nor do I still.   There are high statistics that men leave their spouses, even with longevity of marriage under their belts, they choose to leave when the woman is diagnosed with breast cancer.   Wow.  I was dumped by a guy I was dating one week after I had my first cancer surgery.  I remembered telling my oncologist at Mass. General Hospital and she told me “Sadly, Donna, it is not uncommon”.

Returning mentally to painting, I acknowledged one of the many mysteries of life.    Always a classroom, I have looked at life often as a 50 piece puzzle.  Initially we may get 10-15 pieces, more or less, to the puzzle, over time we may gain more as we travel the road of life.  Sometimes, a rarity, we understand after some time why things happened the way they did, but I believe the majority of the time we will go to our graves not having all pieces to the puzzle.  This is where faith comes in.  Many think we will learn the “why’s” as we meet our maker…. me?  I guess I feel that way, too.