Tag Archives: reality

The “L” Word

Standard

I just spent 10 days on the West Coast, Southern California.  The weather was awesome, the trip was great, and I’m hung over from jet lag!  But it was all worth it.

Today I slept in, went for a ride with a good friend, and we chatted and laughed, and chatted and laughed.  Somewhere in between we were also very honest.  Not the easiest thing to do, but always a good thing.

It’s back to work for me now.    Plans and things I’ve worked for, bills to be paid, responsibilities to manage, it can be a slap of reality.  Also, oneness, being alone.  I haven’t felt Loneliness in a long time, and I had hoped I never would again.  But I do.I do, and I’ll live.  And as I step back into my world, into my studio, and plans, I know I will once again be grounded, and all will be solid again.    “Fatigue makes cowards out of all of us!”.     I am tired.

No matter where you go in life, your mind, your conscience follows you.  You can ignore it if you want, you can cast it aside, obliterate it with food, or whatever other coping mechanism you use that keeps you standing, or trying to stand.    In the end, however, reality is there, and that’s okay.   It really is.  It means accepting it, even if you don’t like it.    I know personally that acceptance means peace, and I choose peace over anything else in my life.  Mostly because I’ve lived a long time without it.

In the end I will be true to myself, and I will find my grind, and all that happened will be placed in proper perspective, in a special place that memories go, memories that touch your heart, your soul.

Wishing you love, peace, and a break from reality!  And wishing you a reality that you love, and work hard for.  Love to you and yours…  Wishing me?  Sleep, and peace with oneness.

Advertisements

Experience…

Standard

“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!

Building a foundation

Standard

November came rolling in with the speed of lightning.  Where oh where did this year go?  It’s already November!  The time where I start reviewing my year, my accomplishments, my experiences, and start thinking about what I want to do NEXT year.    Good god I can’t believe how quickly life seems to be flying by.

With decisions to make, I took a breather from it today and rested.   Do you feel guilty when you rest?  I do, I feel like I have to be accomplishing something though my intellect knows, that isn’t the case.

Feeling fairly insecure these days.    Time to pull my act together and figure out what’s shaking.

Here is todays thought…. I am building a house.  All start from bottom.    If I put in a cheesy foundation, no matter what I build on top of it is at risk of falling.  But I am excited!  I want to build that patio off my bedroom, add a loft, beautiful windows towards the top.   In my excitement I jump ahead, I start working on the things that I am excited about.   Then, something happens, and I am brought back to ground level, to the cheesy foundation I built on.   Here’s the good thing.  It isn’t a loss, it just needs to be reinforced, it needs honing, attention, strengthening.   Then I can build onto it, 10 flights high if I want, all with patios, solariums, anything I can dream.   I will remind myself of this when I feel myself stepping backwards.  If it’s one of two steps, is that a bad thing, really?  I don’t think so.  I think it’s stepping back, reassessing, strengthening my foundation.  If I fly 10-12 steps backwards, then I need to concern myself, but not with one or two.  Sometimes it takes just that to get our bearings, perhaps a new view of it all.   Sometimes when I step back I can see that clearly the basis on which I built my life was and is healthy, other times there are things that I need to work on.  Nothing is a total loss, nothing is a total failure.  Even with failure I remind myself, can you call anything a failure that you work hard on?  That you take a risk at?  That you try for?  Failure, to me, is not trying, living in the fear, the what if’s.  

Soon I will be taking another leap into the unknown, unknown even to me at the moment.   I am fighting it, my hands clenched onto my yesterdays or onto things that are comfortable, familiar, things that I love, but I know that God doesn’t shut a door without opening a window… I know that if I stop resisting whatever it is I am resisting my life will go smoother, my soul will be settled instead of searching…  I am right where I am supposed to be.   I am right where I am supposed to be.

So, I’m thinking of reinforcing the wooden, pretty foundation with steel.  That will withstand everything!  That will keep me only moving forward, upwards…. Um, no.   First off, it would block the beauty of the wood that I so love, (it’s so easy to take what we love and lose site of it), and secondly, do I want a foundation that can never be altered?  What if I want to build a new house, start a new life…will the steel keep me trapped into my past?

Back to the wooden drawing board, but with a smile on my face.   Now I can step backwards and examine my bottom floor knowing it is built on not just wood, but the strength, the disappointments, the difficulties, the smooth times.   It is not a borrowed foundation, or a facet, but the foundation of my life that I revisit from time to time, it reminds me who I am, where I came from, what I have done… and then I can look to my future with stability.  Though ever so easy, am I looking so much into tomorrow that I am not standing in today???????   “What do I want to do, where do I want to go, now?”    We’re told hindsight is always 20/20.  Yep, it is.  So stepping back a bit is not a bad thing, but an opportunity to look at the whole picture, and hopefully, each visit, recognizing growth from the time before.  Today is all I have, what am I going to do with it?  Am I working towards a dream? Am I at minimum working in the direction I wish to go?  Am I appreciating today, the present?  My past is but a lesson, it is not a gps to my future.  I need to remind myself of this.  Yes, some things come back to haunt me, but perhaps I need to learn something else from whatever it is resurfacing?  

Throwing you a hammer, apron and nails to build your foundation on, or at minimum, revisit it! 🙂

 

 

Setting boundaries

Standard

Once in a while I come upon people with whom my gut instantly tells me… Alert! Alert! Alert!    Nowadays I listen to my instinct and what it is telling me.  Experiences have taught me many things:  what to do, what not to do in certain circumstances.   One important thing it has taught me is to identify as quickly as I can when something or someone is a problem.  This means to shrug off the tendency to deny, or make light of a situation, to assess the person or actions in question not in a judgemental manner but how and where there is a problem between us, then to make choices as to what boundaries need to be set.

The more tired I am, the clearer my vision and ability is to identify problems areas.  When I am rested, alert, and at my best I am busying myself by working on a positive attitude, perspective thus ignoring or disregarding negatives, aversions, etc.  Exhaustion automatically lowers my defenses.  It takes too much energy and effort to deny, to avert.  It is during this time that I am able to directly examine, identify and protect myself or others by setting some rules, drawing some lines, making some choices for myself as to where I will and will not go, or where this person may or may not tread.   Unfortunately it is not always wrapped in the softest and prettiest presentation.  At the same time, I am also my most vulnerable during this time because while my defenses are down to my own defense mechanisms, they are also down to others.  I have to be aware of this.  But typically, setting boundaries for me is much harder when I am at my best.  Strange, huh?

Sometimes I mistake firmness in myself as being rude.  It is not.   Firmness is simply the level of integrity in which I choose to set these boundaries and hold to them.  Many a day have I set wishy washy boundaries that were quickly discarded or forgotten.  I have learned that with some people all I need to do is to very gently mention my comfort zones and they instantly and respectfully responsive, honoring them.  With others it is sometimes important to draw a line in the sand, and more so at times is a necessity to erect a fence.  Some people are more astute at manipulating their way around your boundaries, and firmness and fences are necessary.  Therefore I remind myself, this is not being rude, it is being firm.  It may not be the way I would like to deal with them, but sometimes it is indeed necessary.

How interesting it is to detach from my feelings for others and just observe.  I learn much about other people, and much about myself in doing this.  Alongside of this is how difficult it can be to find a vehicle to carry and ditch the body of the person who crosses my boundaries! 🙂

Picket Fences

Standard

I was one who had the traditional fairy tale with the white picket fence.   A handsome husband, cottage style home a couple kids, happy home, so much love, flower gardens, stability, security and more.     The handsome husbands came and went, the cottage style home, well… I thought I had to have a husband in order to have a home, the day that I closed on my house and bought out my ex husband was one of the proudest days of my life.   I still own that home, it is not my dream home by any means, but it is a place that I have lived for over 20 years, and have matured much in.   It seems to always need work, but I love my home.  The old adage “There is no place like home” is so true for me.

 I have learned that the borders of the picket fence dreams can create shadows that actually keep you from getting what your heart desires.  The shadows keep the very light you need from coming in, blanketing darkness and boundaries set around the very ground you want to be welcoming.   The fairy tales, the thoughts, the dreams all carry with them expectations that for me were a set up for disaster, for disappointment, for failure.  They were unrealistic, based on a sense of unreality so how could they possibly live and grow?

The good news here is that, there are many more fences available than just the perfect picket fence!   Made out of materials that may be grown in your own back yard, sowed and clipped with your own hands, the materials though different are nonetheless beautiful and depicts a new story.  A story of hard work, devotion, imperfection, and perseverence, a story of commitment, which ultimately ends up with an end result unique to your personality, your own strengths, weaknesses, your own life, not a preconceived tale filled with expectations based on anothers standards.   You, me, we all have the ability to create our own fences, boundaries.  What will yours be?  Will they be a show piece?  A statement?  Will they be artfully crafted?  Will they depict the perfect home?  Will they create a wall of privacy or an archway for flowers?   Will the substance be grown in your yard or bought from a blacksmith?   The choice is all yours, the message you want to dispense to the world is up to you as well.  For me, I’m done with the picket fences, the idealist picture of perfection.  It isn’t what I wanted in the first place, but I DID want the security, the stability that I believed came with it.   I have since learned that there is no stability in the picket fence, nor even the marriage that may have brought the home or fence into your life.  It’s important that the security be within yourself.  That you feel whole, good with yourself, and with God, and the rest will all fall into place.

May you find security within your higher power (God), may you find happiness within yourself, and may your days be filled with time and creativity to design and ability to lay out your own… in your own fibers…

Most importantly, enjoy!

Grieving…

Standard

My chest is heavy again, no longer from those awful iron turtle tissue expanders, but from a broken heart.  I went to bed last night with a 300 lb chest, woke up this morning with what felt like an added 100 lbs.  I want to be a positive person, and I think most times I am.  Today my heart is at war with reality.  This post will probably be sad, so if you don’t want to go there, stop now.  But sometimes, life is just terribly sad, and to be true to ourselves means to feel them, to work through them, but to still keep walking at the end of it all.

Out of 7 in my immediate family, 6 have been diagnosed with cancer, so far one death resulting.  My older sister had breast cancer at age 40, my mom colon, and then 5 years later kidney, ureter, my dad had prostate, and then last year my brother and I were diagnosed, he with colon & rectal, myself with two different breast cancers.  My kid sister died 7 years ago this month to advanced ovarian & uteran cancers.  It has been a hellacious few years for my family.  Two different gene mutations have been identified, BRCA2 and HNPCC or better known as Lynch Syndrome. 

Your thoughts I bet are automatically going to “where did she grow up?  Was there a radioactive or carcinogenic water? ground?  I grew up in a small town in New Hampshire, bordering Vt.  We lived probably 20-25 miles from a nuclear power plant.  I do not believe this contributed to my families misfortunes of cancers.  I am, however, very suspicious of environmental contributing to this, as if you look at all the cancers on the street where we lived, it seems more than “normal”.  But what is “normal”?  These days some cancers are caught earlier (Thank God).  The earlier the diagnosis the greater the chance of survival and better prognosis.   Clearly my family has had more cancer than the average family.  It at times can be very unsettling, frightening.  But as with anything in life, all you can do is your best, and the rest is out of your control.  This is where Hope & Faith come in.

In my younger years I always believed that everything happens for a reason.  Today I want to believe that, but my soul has been tried with much pain and disappointment.   So this is something I am working on.  I do know that since finding out the news of Jim’s death that my heart isn’t the only thing in turmoil.   I learned from my sisters death at 38 that life just isn’t fair.  Questioning Why?  Only further served to upset me, because there are some things we are not meant to understand.  It did, however, take me several years to accept the death of my kid sister to cancer.  The death of Jim at 46 to alcoholism is just as sickening to me.  Both are insidious diseases.  When my sister was diagnosed I immediately left to be with her, not returning home for a couple of weeks.  This was hard on Jim’s and my relationship, and his drinking escalated then.  Clearly he too was having difficulty accepting what was going on, but his “choice” as I thought was to drink.  This made for much resentments to me.  Here my sister was doing everything she could to save her life, and yet he was drinking his away.   Cunning, baffling.  Perhaps he did have a conscious choice then to stop, but I truly believe now that the disease was so intricate in him, this is all he knew how to do.  Jim was a sensitive guy, when sober he had many emotions. He had a gentle loving spirit.  When he drank, it numbed those feelings in him, and then he could cope with life.  Emotional pain is difficult, and it can be debilitating.  It has been for me.  The older I get the more I learn how to deal with it, and that is simply, One day at a time, sometimes one hour, one minute, one moment…  I am not blaming myself here for his drinking, I am simply stating what hindsight has brought to me.  Jim had me to walk with him for years, and I him.  My not being there during this time contributed, I believe to his drinking, but that is not saying I was doing anything wrong, or that I was responsible.  I’m saying that  what he depended on for grounding was uprooted.  Right/wrong/indifferent, it is what it is.  I was just as dependent on him for grounding.  I have since learned to depend on myself, and I wish that he had learned that too.  He was VERY giving and available to friends, and only in the way of his drinking was he selfish.  At least he wasn’t with me.  Quite the contrary.

In Alanon we learn the three C’s.  We didn’t cause it, we can’t cure it and we can’t control it.  Humbling.  Humbling is a key ingredient to growth and on the flip side of that is gratitude.  I believe that those in this world who have “less” have much more gratitude than those who have “more”.  That is not implying this is true with everybody, but as humans we tend to take much of our lives and the everyday gifts for granted.   Things happen that bring you to a point of humbling or humility and as you process through that, hopefully you become aware of what is really important in your life.  The diagnosis of cancer, my sisters death, Jim’s passing are all examples of that for me.

To be mindful of your every moment brings about many surprises.  If I am to list off the things that bring me joy & happiness, and touch my soul, I would list off the smaller simpler everyday things in my life.  My nieces smile, comments, watching my animals or patting them, painting, tea with a friend, laughter,  feeling a cool breeze on a hot day.  These are all things that money cannot buy, these are all “gifts”.  I am blessed with so much, I know this.  Not only am I grateful for gratitude, but I am grateful for my ability to BE grateful. 

This pain in my chest will subside over time.  Grief is the hardest trek I’ve ever encountered in my life.  The stages of grief let us know we ARE in fact working through it, but it is never as quickly as we desire.  In the case of my sister, or Jim…. the pain that I felt after their deaths, the heartache, in no way compares to the tremendous joy that they both brought me.  And yes, that is true even with Jim, the alcoholic.  There were very painful times the last year and a half together, and certainly after we split.  We do not stop caring just because they aren’t with us.  We do not stop worrying because they are out of sight.  But we learn that we are not their higher power, and that we can always pray for them, even after their passing.

I am grateful for the time I had with Jim.  I am grateful for the memories, and even for this pain because I know that I have loved, truly loved.  While I wish there were more, it has to be “enough” now.  I am grateful that my cancers were found before metastasises and that they were able to do what they have done for me.  And though I do not LIKE everything, certainly any of this or my families battles with cancers, I am choosing to look to the positive.  Every diagnosis brought a better appreciation for life and new appreciations for those enduring it.  I am grateful for this day, this very moment, for all the colors and noncolors that I see.  I am grateful that just for this day I can feel this pain and yet be grateful at the same time.  I have grown.

There are positives in everything, we have choices as to which direction we choose to look.  But I believe too that there are times to cry, laugh, dance, and mourn.  And right now I am mourning and holding onto the positives, as this is HOPE.

It’s over…

Standard

I sat there staring at the computer screen.  He DIED?  He is dead? Denial takes over, No, No, No, it isn’t him.  I read on, the obituary verifying his childhood schooling, time served in the Navy and yet I still denied it.  For probably five minutes a war raged  between reality and denial.   Then I read his parents and brothers name as survivors. Oh my god, he died… This can’t be.  Tears streamed down my face at the speed of a rolling river.  My heart sank, and I suddenly felt like I was going to vomit.  I grabbed my cell phone, my hands shaking, I realize I do not know the number.  Back to google.com, where I found his obituary… I found his parents phone number, misdialed it twice because I was crying so hard I couldn’t see the numbers.  Third time is a charm…  His mom answered.  This is Donna Scully…. “hi Donna!”…. her voice was her cheerful self but with a very tired solemn tone that I wasn’t familiar with.  Rolling my eyes now at feeling the need to use my last name, but it had been 4.5 years since Jim and I had parted ways and probably 3 years since I last spoke to his mother.   I had kept tabs on him not in an obsessing way, but I always felt the need to know where he was in the world.  I never stopped praying for him, in fact I would hold the paw of Brody, the aussie we got together and say “it’s time to pray for daddy!”.  Last week being the last time.   I had never given up hope that he would find sobriety, that I would hear from him again.  A few months earlier  I had heard he had married the woman he met in a bar just a couple months after we parted, a new drinking buddy and together they moved to the Virgin Islands.  When I heard this it only confirmed to me what I already knew inside 4.5 years prior when we parted.  He is going to die of this disease, he is going to die.  ” Is it true, did Jim pass?” I asked.   “Yes, she said with a short sigh.  Yes Donna, he died in December.”  The dam breaks.

The love of my life, the man I spent almost a decade of my life with and had once intended to spend the rest of my life with is dead.  It’s over, I thought to myself as I lifted my shirt to wipe away the continuous flow of tears.   

There are three possible endings for an alcoholic:  Recovery, institutionalized, or death.  How I wished he had been in the first category.  This beautiful, intelligent, funny, kind, hard working, fun loving man has died of an awful awful disease.