Tag Archives: pain

Keep walking forward

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As typical of having been on vacation, I came home to a to do list longer than my arm.   Included in this was standing up for myself in a couple forums.  One with someone close to me, who is aging, and not a force to be reckoned with, another being the car rental place who tried charging me $179 more than what was contracted for.      I’m a passive person by nature.  I hate confrontation, but I’ve learned that in order to be in business for myself, and in order to take care of myself, I have to learn to do so.

Prayed the whole time I was handling both situations.    The first one was hardest, telling someone what they are saying is false, untrue,  no matter how strongly they rebelled against it.  And keeping my cool when I was being accused of something that I didn’t do, or would never do!   I think we were both shocked at how I handled the situation.  While I will lose some money in the deal, it is nothing compared to what could have been lost, had I not stood up for myself.  I will recover from this.     And I took NO satisfaction in having to tell someone I care about that what they believe to be true, was in fact, untrue.  But I did it.

Alongside that is the realization and reality that they are losing ground.   It’s easy to take others for granted, I mean, we do that to live.   We assume when we leave our yards, that all drivers we come in contact with are sober, able, and alert.    We have to drive defensively, and consciously, but we can’t leave our yard on a daily basis and think about the possible dangers of accidents, and sadly, more recently terrorists.

I was cleaning my studio and heard gun shots.   Now, I’ve lived around guns my entire life.   In past I wouldn’t think even twice about it, but not anymore.  I stop what I am doing and listen.   Say a prayer, and then try to move beyond what could be disastrous fear.    We have to have faith that we will go do our errands, go enjoy our vacation, if we are fortunate enough to have that opportunity, and know we will be home afterwards, tired, cranky, but alive and well.

I have heard some very painful, painful stories this past few days.  People that I know and care about are hurting, some with physical pain which in itself is a life changer, and some experiencing tremendous loss.  It’s always unfortunate when someone passes around the holidays.  The holidays are tough enough for most of us anyway.    And November has bee notoriously a very difficult month for me.  No matter what I focus on, and plan to counter the anniversaries of some very painful life changing events, it still comes up to smack me across my face, and try its best to rip my heart out through my throat.        I know this too shall pass.   It does.   But not without feeling it first.  I know I have no choice but to keep walking.   I think it was Churchill who said, and I quote “When in hell KEEP WALKING!”     Exactly.  Because we give in to the challenges, we stay right there in hell.     But sometimes it’s hard to forge ahead, and in the direction of where we need to go.    Sometimes the best part of a day is knowing you survived it.  It’s just a fact.

I have numerous things going on in my life, mostly all good, but not without stress.   The November crap hit me yesterday, and while it’s only Tuesday, I feel like it should be NEXT Friday!

The holidays are soon approaching.  Time to practice more patience with others, time to go the extra mile to help a neighbor, family member or friend.  Time to make time for someone who needs a hug, or a smile.    Time to let people you know how much you appreciate them, and even though we naturally take things for granted, many of us will experience difficulties that will remind us of how we do just that.

Here’s hoping your day is good, your life is going in the direction you want it to, and that you have a warm, comfortable bed to retire in tonight.     The older I get the more I come in touch with the fact that life really is about the little things, not the grandiose plans or dreams.  It’s about putting one foot in front of the other regardless of the terrain, and doing our very best on days when we know we aren’t feeling our best.    It’s just a fact of life.    My father used to tell us “to pull ourselves up by our boot straps!”      “You’re the only one who can do it for yourself”.     Today I can say, gratefully, that I did what needed to be done today, and while it wasn’t all pleasant, I did great.   Hope you did, too!

 

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Gratitude’s the attitude baby!

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Someone I care about is in the hospital, and has been through pure hell the past year.   I broke down in tears today thinking about her, and what’s she’s going through.  A reminder of when I went to Mass General thinking (after a surgery the week before) that they’ve give me a shot in the butt and some major antibiotics to take when I get home, only to have been admitted with serious infection.     I remember crying, calling my mom from the admission desk “They are admitting me to Bigelow 9”.  “Gigolo what?   Can laugh at it all now.

When you have serious illness, it sometimes provides you with acceptance of things from past that earlier that day, week, month, year, you could not.    And I think the same type of bargaining goes on when you lose someone.  “If you let me survive this….”

It was right around this time of the year, and I was in there for a lot longer than I wanted to be.  I remember thinking “I must be really sick because they don’t keep people in the hospital anymore!”.     When I finally turned the corner, my veins were blown out, and feeling like a pin cushion would’ve been a luxury at that point, they weren’t going to release me because I couldn’t drive home.  Well, I finally lied, found my way out of there.   I drove half way home to Leominster and then pulled into a Friendly’s.  I was so weak.  The only thing I had eaten was popsicles that week, when they would stay down.   So I ordered a fribble, and sat outside, feeling the cool fall breeze run through my disaster zone hair, and feeling so very grateful that I was finally out of the woods and heading home.   I sat for about 40 minutes until I finished the shake, which gave me the strength to get back in my car and drive the rest of the way home.

We can spend a lifetime planning, arranging, collecting, preparing, and one blip can and will take the comfort, the wind out of our sails.   We find ourselves at the mercy of life.   I hope this person who is so sick tonight catches a break, and I hope that she, too, will be heading home soon.   Her husband, her family needs her.     Until she does I will be praying, regularly, frequently, for her health.    In the end, we know God is in control, those of us who believe in God, and while there is some comfort there, the waiting, the meantime, the present can be so overwhelming.  If you’d like to offer a prayer for her, I know it would be greatly appreciated, or send her good vibes.

So I’m tired, heading to bed shortly, will be on my knees tonight praying for her and her husband.   They are so tired, so worn.    She just hasn’t been able to catch a break and my heart hurts for them.

Me?  I’m feeling pretty grateful at the moment.   The painful memories have faded some for me, and gratitude has built a wall around that awful time for me.    I know, I was very fortunate.  And it’s probably time that I do the things I “bargained” to do, if he’d get me through it.   And I’m recalling the trip home where I no longer had concern for the petty things that once plagued my peace.     Acceptance.     Perspective.     Life has a way of knocking you beside the head when you least expect it!

Wishing peace, love, and joy to each of you reading this.  I hope today you have found acceptance to the things that blocked your peace, and if you’re in the middle of muck, I pray that you’ll be given what you need to get you through, and beyond it.   Peace.  xox

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.

On love

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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

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Walking through grief

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The past couple days have been rough, with migraines and frustrating bitchiness.   This morning I was allowing myself to get really bent out of shape over nothing, when I sat down and jumped on facebook.      I hope the migraine(s) are behind me, I think it’s related to barometric pressure, my head feels like it isn’t attached to my body.  Strange, and adding to the Bitch of the Year award!

As I surveyed my facebook feed, I read a post from a friend who is really a very lovely woman, a woman of faith, ridiculously talented, and kind to the core.     She posted about two children who touched her deeply today, and made her smile while she was gassing up her car.    It lightened up my mood, until close to the end where she spoke about telling the kids mother how much their kindness and friendliness meant to her, and today or all days, as her sister died early this morning of cancer.   Tears flowed down my face then.

I immediately sent her a message, offering condolences, and thanking her for her share.   My mind swept back to the very days my sisters succumbed to cancer.    I was broken, and I was angry at God for allowing this to happen.  And so began a war between he and me, for months on end.   I defied my morning praises, and no longer prayed at all.   How could he allow this to happen?

In time, I learned and accepted that death is a part of our life, and that fairness doesn’t really play a role here.  But my friend, who had just said goodbye to her sister, was talking about how good God is, and how much this experience helped her, and made her smile.   I cried as I reread her beautiful, lovely, words.    How amazing that she was at peace, or I should say, more peace than I had when my sisters took their last breaths.

I sat in silence, trying to compose myself, get my emotions into check, and while I would like to say the bitchiness melted away, it did not, but I was so moved by her share, and her eloquence, awestruck with her compassion and faith.     When she replied to my message she spoke words I understand too well, about not knowing how she will do this without her sister, her first best friend.    Her words lent clarity to me of how I felt, too.

I remember thinking how cruel it was that the birds still chirped, that life still went on, even though my sisters lives were over.   I remember people telling me “time will heal”.  I also remember being firmly (and probably belligerently) adamant that NO ONE would tell me how to grief, how to walk through this atrocity which had been handed down to my family.   Grief is a journey, a necessary journey that is so individualized.   There is no right or wrong way to grieve, though I hope I handled it with even a small portion of the grace that my friend did this morning.

At this time another friend texts me that she knew and was related to the pedestrian who was hit in Brattleboro yesterday and who died later from her injuries.    Many eyewitnesses have shared that she walked right out in front of the car, the driver was not at fault.  But that driver?  Is devastated.    I saw pics of him with his head in his hands, crying.  Of course he was.  What person wouldn’t be?    And then she shared that this person had also just lost two siblings to cancer.    I was relaying all this to my mom, and we shared how grief is an alternate existence, if you will.   You’re not in your right mind, your preoccupied, sad, emotional, and that may be a part of why she aimlessly walked into traffic.  How incredibly sad.

So, tonight, as I write this, I’m thinking about all that transpired this morning and how it changed and altered my piss poor thinking.   I am still working through some crap, but for the most part, I’ll be crawling into bed very grateful that my day may be frustrating, and my head may ache, but I had a fairly uneventful day given two other peoples lives that changed drastically in a moments time.

I wish you a restful nights sleep, and an uneventful (almost boring) day tomorrow.  Life can change on a dime, and it does.  We find ourselves walking through life without those we love most in the world, and I have since learned that the birds still chirping as we walk through grief is really a gift, because life does go on for some.    How easily, how naturally we take things for granted, at least I do.   And I think I’m a pretty grateful person, but obviously imperfect and still learning about life.   Aren’t we all?

 

Acknowledgement

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For those of you who have experienced the loss of someone close to you, you will understand what I am writing about.     It never goes away, at least not for me.

Fourteen years ago today my kid sister died at the young age of 38.   She had been diagnosed just ten months before with Ovarian Cancer.   I’m not sure what hurts the most.   The journey through it, where we did our best to comfort her and bring her to any treatment allowed, or the endless missing.  I think it’s the missing.

Fourteen years and I still cry when I acknowledge this.  But if I don’t, it makes its way through illness or pain, so it’s best to nod to the memory than deny it, at least for me.

At 37 she and her partner had just bought a house and had moved in just two weeks prior to the emergency surgery that was previously scheduled a week or two later.   I remember it all so well, and I’m trying hard to not go there today.  To just honor her, and tell you what a great person she was.

I can tell you that she worked very hard and knew how to play.  She had a boat, snowmobiles, a toy for every season.   She loved to fish, to play sports, and was a natural athlete.   She had an old soul, I think about this often, wondering if this played a part in her short life.  A natural observer, she was always warning me when to shut my big trap, or when I had gone past “obnoxious” she called it.   Laughter through tears is my favorite emotion.  It’s one that I experience a lot when I think about her.

One would think that after fourteen years you wouldn’t on occasion say to yourself “I have to call her, and tell her this!”    It happens less each passing year, but it still happens.

She was my dads bud.  I mean that with every part of my being.  She loved hockey, she loved fishing and shared these things with our dad.   We all share memories of this with her.   It was rather comical last year when my father admitted one day “Okay, Darlene was my favorite”.   The three of us laughed until tears came out of our eyes.  “What?”  “I’m sorry” he said.   “Um dad, we have known this FOREVER!”    I think he really believed it would shock us.   NOT.   I was sitting beside her on her couch the day she learned she was not going to recovery from this, and she called dad to tell him.  “I’m sorry, dad, I’m so sorry”.

So it was on this day that my, our lives changed.  For years I described things as “happened before she died, or happened after she died”.   I didn’t mean to.  It was just a game changer.    My life changed.  I changed.

I remember asking my cousin Marie, who came down to sit with me just hours after I learned she had died “How am I supposed to stop loving her?”   “You never will, Donna” she said.   How did she know?    It was through my sisters death and living life without her that I learned, love doesn’t stop just because someone you love died.   Nor does life stop, as cruel and vulgar as it seems at the time.   “How can the birds still sing?  How can people laugh, how can anything go on when my life has just come to a screaching halt?”   But it does.  But I have learned something beautiful within all the sadness and that is that love doesn’t ever stop, for me it continued and miraculously grew and still does, all these years later.

So on this day, I acknowledge that hope changes.   At first you pray for a cure, you pray for treatment to work, and then when that stops working, you pray for strength and a new doctor, another treatment, and more.   That is until you realize the suffering is going on too long, and you start to pray for God to be merciful with her, with them.  Please, take her soon.   Yes, hope changes.

I miss you every day.  There hasn’t been a day in fourteen years you’ve been gone that I don’t think of you.  You are part of me, you always will be.    I can still close my eyes and see your face, the little tiny mole above your eyebrow, and see that beautiful smile that radiated wherever it was shown.

Time does teach us how to coexist with such loss, but it doesn’t heal the broken heart.  I think because even when you pray for an end to the pain, and there is relief when that happens, the missing?  It never stops.

 

(end note:  I wrote this and posted it on 4/8 but for some reason it’s showing the 9th which I find interesting, because I actually found out about it just minutes after midnight on the 9th)

 

 

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.

Is there alcohol in heaven?

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Today has been a hard day.  No particular anniversary, minimal physical pain with the exception of that place that resides in my chest and harbors my heart.

My sleep schedule has been largely disrupted, but that’s okay, I am getting A LOT of work done.   What happens, however, is a crash and burn.    But it’s the best sleep next to anesthesia!  I am one who loves being knocked out.  LOVE it!   When my time comes to die, I hope to be wide awake, waiting for that light.

As I slept hard, and what feels comatose, my dreams consisted of people and places in my past.  People who have passed.   Normally I wake up, can shake off the initial pain (remembering… realizing…  reality) and be grateful that I saw their face, eyes, smile, heard their voice once more.  But not today.  Today I am lingering in a world that no longer exists.  My head knows this, my heart doesn’t want to hear it.

A friend, consoling me said “It doesn’t matter how long it’s been”.    I thanked her for that.   No, it doesn’t.    Last night’s dream still has me walking on shaky ground, many hours later.  I know I can’t go back, if I could, I would’ve by now.  Someone I need to walk through this day, embrace what is, be grateful for what WAS and is, and let it go.   But that’s much easier said than done, at least today it is.

I wonder, is there alcohol in heaven?    Hiss at me for suggesting such.  But when you’ve loved and lost someone who is or was an addict, there is some peace in knowing, their fight, their plight with their demons has passed.

We drove past a church where a service was being held for a young man who died of an overdose.    My heart hurt for his family and friends.   “His mother said there is some peace in knowing, it’s behind him”.  I nodded, thinking about what I said above.   Yeah, I said to myself, and I pray that it will carry her through the hard days ahead.

To grieve, to mourn is not anti God.  It is not a horrible thing to do, and while it is hard, for me, apparently today, it is necessary.   For those who have on occasion suggested differently or in a bit of kinder, less harshful words than “Move on”, I bid you, how the hell does one do that?

Last night I visited the past.   A past that ended tragically, but one that was also filled with immense love, memories, and some of the best times of my life.   Today I’m trying to get back to acceptance, beyond the pain of loss that revisits on occasion.   I know I will find my way, but right now?   Right now my heart hurts.  I am longing for acceptance, and soon.  I know why I’m feeling this way, I know that I have to face one of my own demons…. fear.  Fear of being hurt again.     But will I?

Missy Higgins “Scar”

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”.

Spring… I’m jumping on springs!

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It has been a very busy week for me, but a good week.   I have been “good tired” from all.  It’s a wonderful tired, unlike that of depression, pain.    I have been feeling so well I don’t want to change anything, or “rock the boat”.   Now past the fear of “losing it”, I am very much enjoying it.  It seems like a lifetime since I have felt this good.

A conglomeration of a perfected drug regime, two years of therapy, twice, sometimes 3 times a week, monthly appointments with my psychiatrist, what seemed to be a pouring of pain from my soul was and is met with compassion, suggestions, coping skills.   I am humbled, I am grateful for both my therapist and psychiatrist.  I am grateful for my desire and commitment to taking care of myself and learning, at the age of 52, how to love myself.    I’m not fooling myself into thinking this is “happily ever after”… I know better.  There will be times ahead where I will need to delve deep into all that I have and am learning, but today, right now, my life is exempt from further loss, pain of such, or depression.  Hallelujah!

I participated in a festival of arts in Massachusetts this past weekend.  It was the first time in years that I set up a booth with my artwork.   Having passed the torch and props to neighbors and friends who have started a new business, and who were so generously willing to lend me some of their antiques and displays to have the booth, I went well prepared.   At first I was a bit nervous, as I unpacked my wares, but in no time I got into it and enjoyed the process.  Every travel teaching gig, every show, no matter how well organized and prepared I am, I inevitably forget something.  This trip?  I forgot what I selling!  My packets!    It worked out fine.  I did not dwell, in fact, was able to laugh at the ridiculousness of it.

I spent a day and two nights with my girlfriend from Newfoundland, Canada whose normally 9 hour ferry trip turned into 3 days and 3 nights, they were “stuck on ice”.   As she was sharing the story I just kept shaking my head and laughing… only Anna Marie…only Anna Marie would experience something like this!  Well, that and the 799 other passengers whose plans were largely squelched in ice.

It was so nice to connect with others again.   Heck it was nice to SEE others again.  What seemed to be a very long endless winter, thus isolation from even neighbors, shelter from the storms, has ended.   Hope, new birth, warm temperatures and sunshine have returned.   It was evident on the faces of all who attended.   Winter’s in New England are not easy, and we survived another!   It was enjoyable sharing about art, life with friends and students of past, and some, the future.   It was also wonderful to hear compliments on my artwork, and feeling sincere concern from many who inquired as to how I was feeling, understanding the depth of darkness I have crawled out of.   It was nice seeing sincere happiness from others that I am doing so well.    Grateful…I am grateful. 

With my house once again turned upside down with what remains of my booth, I am sitting, looking at it with admiration.  I did it!   I did it!  I really did it!

As the train is passing by, only resting from whistling once every 6 seconds, I am very much aware of my surroundings, I am very much aware of how fortunate I am to have woken up this morning, to a new day…granted another day.

My psychiatrist told me that I get into trouble because I stop doing what I need to do to stay well.  Not intentional, not even consciously.   I have been vigilant of late in continuing and committing to doing things to help myself.  Grateful…I am grateful.

Grateful…I am grateful.