Thursday, August 10, 2017

change of focus

When I spend time dwelling on things I can't control I'm doomed. 

Living alone is hard in that it is challenging to get out of your own head. 

But looking outside of myself, the bigger universe and how small I am, and finding joy in the 
little things... birds joyfully singing, white puffy clouds, a bubble bath, a loving memory, a child's hug or laugh, washing my hair, a fresh cup of morning coffee, writing a kind note, the smell of the earth after the rain, reading a quote of wisdom or hope ... fills me with the stillness and peace that I crave.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

a safe place

As I sit here with a homemade blueberry muffin and cup of coffee I think of how writing from my heart is my happy place... what people today call their jam. But expressing and going to that place in my heart where all the feely and deep things are has been a slippery slope. It's sometimes a place that's hard to sort out... and then when I do hit a sensitive spot I can flinch.

It seems I've been too much of a hyper-vigilant over thinker for too long now. I'm sometimes jumpy and often my faith has turned to fear. Loss and disappointment has left me hobbling along at times. Although I mostly function just fine, some parts may have to be urged along to catch up and get back in the program. I'll still manage to be in this dance of life, but might not know all the right moves or when the music starts and stops. But I haven't given up trying... to do better... as I learn to be better.

So today... as the storms come, real or imagined ... and the worries of life try to take over... I will find ways to be still. To find that place where peace and calm dwell. To seek it out... To seek out the One who knows me and loves me.... created me and kept me safe all these years. I will put my life in His hands and if I take it back again I'll be quickly reminded nothing good comes from that. I'll remember that it's not about trying hard all the time, it's often about letting go and surrendering. It's about finding the place where you know you're safe ... and can hopefully reach out a hand to encourage someone else find that place too.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

a distant memory

This was my dad's fruit tree "experiment" that didn't work out. About 45 years ago now.

He was always doing something interesting on our country property when I was growing up. We had chickens for a while and he constructed a coop and fenced yard for them. In the daytime they'd often be let out to forage outside of the coop's boundary. These were very healthy chickens and the epitome of happy and cage free!

One night I was walking home up to the house from a neighbor's (I had been babysitting) and heard a baaaaukkkkk that scared the daylights out of me! I had just walked past one of these little fruit trees that had a chicken roosting in it. She had failed to get back into the coop with the others to roost inside and flew into the tree for the night. A memory that has stayed with me.....

I was brought home from the hospital after my birth to this house. This was the home I grew up in. The one my memory returns to again and again. Though it has been inhabited by another family now for about 25 years, it will always be .....

.... my New Jersey home.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

life as it is

Real life doesn't always resemble a Hallmark card or Norman Rockwell picture. Not mine anyway. When I was younger I thought I knew it all. I thought I knew how to navigate my life and family in a way that would keep all bad influences out and I'd be able to control what my life would look like. I thought I could mold circumstances and people to ... yeah... basically be a picture-perfect family.

How could I be so naive?


On the outside it may have seemed all was fine, but it wasn't.

There was a divorce.

Then there was a new love that was everything ... Edd... How lucky... how BLESSED was I!! Beyond all expectations. But that wasn't to last when he got sick.... and had to leave.... (How I miss him! But that's another blog post.)

And I have a daughter who has struggled with drugs... for years ... and had a baby one year ago..... but has now been clean and sober for five months and that is a miracle in itself. My prayer is for her to continue for the rest of her life to learn and grow and mature.... to make up for all those stagnant insane years.....  This little grand baby is sweet and precious and it's hard to imagine the world without her.

Would I have chosen this one to come into the world at this time... and in this way? No.. but she is here now and deserves to be loved and cared for and .... to have a wonderful #1 birthday party tomorrow!!

Another daughter is divorced with a beautiful 20 month old daughter who is delightful and beautiful and adorable beyond words!! But there's been struggle.. and disappointment ... and pain. My daughter is awesome and a wonderful mother, hard worker and doing an amazing job.

Life. I sometimes handle things well, and other times feel like my emotions are being thrown around like clothes in the dryer... my heart isn't as resilient as it used to be.... if it ever was. I feel more fragile somehow. More vulnerable. I know now what loss feels like ... and I don't like it. I know I have little control over events and my faith has often turned to fear. Maybe that's the worst part of all.

But I am learning that all I can do is what I can do... I often can't nor could I ever make everything right... but I do have the ability to be kind and encouraging and offer my heart to others who need to know they are loved. To listen and be present. To love so someone knows and feels it. I fail though... often.... And I, all of us, need to have our own boundaries and know ourselves enough to be able to say no to things we can't handle... and let others handle their own problems. I can't save others... we just can't... as hard as it is to watch them struggle. We can offer a leg up though right? Sometimes we can.

But those who care... and are present... and kind.... and show compassion.... and let us know we have value.... they mean the world don't they?

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

life with a dog... my dog

I've tried several times to add another dog to my home and family... besides Norman and I.. and each time I've come to the same conclusion.

I'm a one dog woman.

We are just in sync to the daily activities. He knows me. I know him. We coexist very well and are vaguely equivalent to an old married couple who just get each other.

When I leave to run errands he waits for me in the laundry room that connects to the garage, sleeping in another little bed there, listening for my return. He knows I always come home again....

He goes to bed when I do. Waits for the signals and recognizes when it's time to retreat to his little bed next to mine. I tuck him in and tell him what a good boy he is and give him extra pats and scratches.

When it's time to get up he follows me to the kitchen knowing he will go outside first before his breakfast. He looks up at me for direction every time... comes inside and then chows down before retreating back to the bedroom to watch me eat a light breakfast. He waits to see if he might get to lick the plate .... usually not.... but he's happy anyway jumping up on the bed when I finish.... to get a few pets and scratches.

When I exercise and do my yoga he joins me in the exercise room. He jumps up on the chair and takes a nap until I'm finished and then we go back downstairs. He likes to stay with the pack... however small our little pack is.... he and I.

He follows me into whatever room I'm in. If I'm busy, he takes a nap. If I go outside in the yard, he wants to come. He is ready to do whatever I want to do.

Dogs really are the greatest of companions.

I've enjoyed taking care of other dogs on a short term basis, and I've wished I could have a larger pack, but it just doesn't feel right and would be more than I could handle being the only human living here. I'm just one person without anyone else helping out.

And that's okay. Sometimes you have to try things out to know what you can do... and what you can't.

So ... it's me.... and Norman....

Norman helped fill the enormous void after Edd died. He helped fill the void after I lost Nicky, the dachshund before him. He is a dog that's always been full of life and energy. Sometimes too much energy... And he's aging now as dogs ... and all of us ... do. But he's still faithfully by my side... and he's earned my respect.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

the cardinal in my yard

I first photographed this bird back in May. When I looked at the photos I noticed just how disheveled he was. His neck feathers were sparse and he looked a little sickly. He looks a bit worse now.

But it's July and he is still seen regularly in my yard and is active and full of life. He drinks from the birdbath and I throw him seeds from time to time. He returns day after day and just blends in with the life and rhythm of things. He sings beautifully as he sits on the roof or the bush outside my bedroom window. 

Tonight I heard his familiar song and stopped what I was doing to look outside. I followed the sound and saw him near the ground under the same bush... but he wasn't alone... he was feeding and seemingly caring for his spouse. He was definitely schmoozing up to a female cardinal. Although he looks as though he has had a rough life, he seems to be fairing just fine for now. He may be old. I read they live about 15 years! He's not a perfect specimen of cardinal, but I like so much that he hangs around. He seems very happy to have this yard as his home. And I like to keep fresh water around.... 

Legend implies that when a cardinal is seen it's a visitor from heaven. A reminder that you are loved. This one seems especially strong and worldly and wise. Like he's been around the block a few times. And he knows things. That's what I choose to believe anyway.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

how things change

Slowly..... consistently.... subtly.... so no one really noticed what was happening.... we've moved as a society. Mostly all of us have been effected, but those who are young and on social media most of the day are effected the most. As I think back to my own growing up... and then into my 20's and 30's, it was so different in that people didn't have so much information about what everyone else was doing. We had to call a friend up and talk to them or visit.... to know whether they went on a trip, or got their hair done, or went out to dinner, or got a new dog, ended a relationship, started a new one, or began a new exciting job.... Now people post about anything and everything. 

I'm not saying it's bad. I don't really know if it is bad or good. It's the way it is, but I do think there are certain changes that occur inside of us as we concentrate too much on what everyone else is doing. It wasn't as prominent back before this social media generation. People are so much more apt to compare themselves with others instead of living their own peaceful existence. Seems wherever you go people are so wrapped up in their phones so as not to miss something going on... and of course if you're doing something fun, you better let others know about that too.

Oh, that people were more present. Often at the checkout line or just walking my dog I pass people with headphones on... Whenever they have a spare moment people are looking down at their phones, in the car talking... and driving... often swerving a bit.... 

Am I getting too old and cranky? Sigh... maybe.

I just wonder where it's leading. I think of my own granddaughters and wonder how driven they will be to measure up to someone else's definition of what's valuable or fun or popular or worthy.

I so want them to know they are worthy just as they are. They are enough and they don't need to be  more or greater or compare themselves to anyone else. They are unique and valuable and precious.

I get excited to see this trend toward simplicity and I hope it continues. I really hope people can put social media, their phones, their devices into proper perspective  .... and give them a rest. I hope we can get back to some old-fashioned simplicity. 

I don't think everyone is depressed as this quote implies, but I do believe thinking others have it better than we do and reading what others are doing on a regular basis can make some think they don't measure up. 

Just my two cents.