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Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Week #24 - Popularity

Monday night while trick or treating my 8-year-old has asked me not to hold his hand.  There were a lot of kids from school around and, unconsciously, as we walked down the street I had automatically reached out to keep him close. He said he wasn’t a little kid, and I didn’t need to hold onto him.  I think all you parents will understand when I tell you that it broke my heart a little. This is not the first or last time that will happen while watching him grow, it has been a series of steps and leaps and bounds he has made since last June - some so huge that friends and family who haven’t seen him in more than a week or two remark to me how different he is, how he’s grown and changed.  

As a parent, you celebrate your children’s successes, and this independence is a huge accomplishment for him because when he was in kindergarten, my son suffered trauma at a daycare center.  For about 6 weeks, two older boys hurt him on a daily basis.   It has radically altered his life and his ability to react in social situations, and to read the clues of others.  He suffers from post-traumatic stress and is re-learning how to get along with children his age, to make friends, to fit in.  

He is intelligent, bright, and funny to the point of being goofy.  He has a very active imagination and is incredibly creative.  He can tell you anything you ever wanted to know about dinosaurs.  He can talk to adults, children younger than him and much older than him about anything and everything.  

Sometimes though, he finds it hard to walk into a room of his peers.  He would rather play by himself, or not go outside at all so he isn’t ignored or teased by boys his age.  He can be incredibly angered by the smallest of incidents that trigger some memory of his own helplessness and fear.  

He does make friends though, and is learning to trust in that.  He likes to go to school now and see them.  He is blossoming in new ways every day and I am grateful to watch it, and proud of his strength and courage to open himself to what could happen.  The alternative is to be afraid and closed off, to be singular - and you can’t really live your life like that, can you?   

He may never be part of the popular kids, engulfed by the masses, trying to fit in and do what everyone else does.  But he will be himself, making his own choices out of what works for him.  I'm not sure if I could be more proud of who he is.   

A few weeks ago, he wore a hat to school, and some kids were teasing him about it.  I told him that he had to make a choice to either wear it and understand that some kids wouldn’t like it and they may make fun of him over it, or to leave it at home and wear a different one knowing that teasing could happen, but understanding that it was okay to be who he is, and do what he wanted no matter what anyone else thought.  He wore it to school the next day and dealt with the consequences.

Monday was one more example of him making choices.  Sometimes I know that I hold on too tight because I have that lingering guilt that I didn’t protect him better, didn't see something wrong sooner.  I live with knowing he had to grow up faster and harder because of what happened to him.  I also know that I have to show him that trust is earned, and opening yourself to the lessons that happen in your life and still moving forward is important.  I am trying daily to teach him this lesson - Oscar Wilde said it - “Be yourself, everyone else is taken.”  

So Monday night, I swallowed hard, and opening my fingers, let him walk away.

Friday, October 28, 2011

GBE - Week 23 - Ownership

When I saw this week's topic, I had two different thoughts about the prompt which I thought were separate, and as it turned out were very similar.

I have been participating in Oprah's Lifeclass on OWN.  (Talk about branding yourself!)  The first class talked about ego, and how it got in the way of our true selves. It resonated with me because I am a firm believer that you must own yourself.  You must take ownership of your thoughts, your actions, your choices.  You must live your life learning who you are, and what lessons are brought to you.  If you find something repeating in your life, you can be sure it will continue to repeat until you learn the lesson.  At the end of the day, we only truly have ourselves.  No matter our relationships, our families, our friends and supporters.  We only have ourselves. 

I also truly believe that we cannot own another living being.  Not our husbands, wives, partners, girlfriends, boyfriends, friends, children.   I have a horse and 3 cats that share my life, I don't own them.  Even my 8-year-old, telling me about a dog he had seen said to me, "... and he was walking down the street with his person and he was SOOO cute!"  He understands that person was not that animal's owner, but the person who shares its life. 

Also, I have this thing about spiders.... don't like them.  But I think they are pretty amazing little things... creating webs that are intricate and, in their own way, beautiful.  I try to avoid them for the most part, but when they come in my house, I escort them outside, remembering that my ego says this is 'my' house and 'it' doesn't belong there.  Letting go of that ego, I realize that it has its own place in the world, as much right to be here as I do, and just because I am larger doesn't give me the right to kill it. 

This over 50 thing is really working out for me in an internal way.  Doing a lot of work on being who I am, and I'm owning that!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

GBE #2 - week 22 - Safe haven

*** My thanks go out to Brenda, Joyce and Beth because in reading their posts on this topic, they invited this one!!

When I was a little girl, I lived in a closet for months and no one seemed to mind.  I was the 5th of 6 children, so space of my own was hard to come by.  I shared a room with my sister, Nancy, on the 3rd floor of our house that had a large closet built into the eaves.  It was large enough to hold my twin bed and I could sleep looking out.

I’m not sure if I wanted to live in there because it it was my own place, or if it is my nature to seek time alone. I was born in June, a Cancer - sign of the crab.  The crab retreats inside itself when threatened, and will only come out when it is ready. I embody this trait.  Being alone though, I never feel lonely as I can entertain myself quite well with books, music, and my own imagination.  I have created a safe haven inside myself, which I believe we all need to do to get through our days whole.  
This is not to say that I don’t share that inner world with my family, my friends, my man.  I do, but I have more of myself to share when I can pull back within and feel right with the world when I have need.  It has taught me to hear my inner voice, to open to all my senses, and to form my beliefs about this life I am in.  
 
That time to just be who you are is something that I tried to give to my children.  My two girls, grown now, are very creative, and my proudest moments as a parent have been watching them march to the beat of their own drum.  My 8-year-old son shows me that need for his own space too - he begs me for boxes to build his own Iron Man suit, a time machine, a laboratory, and most recently, a dinosaur costume.  We currently have a T. Rex domicile in the playroom.  He loves his time alone to grow and explore his reach, but he often invites me along to the late Cretaceous, and I am glad to go there with him. 

Thursday, October 13, 2011

GB2 - Week 21 - Clarity

Five weeks ago my world turned upside down with the news that the man I love needs some fairly serious surgery.  Since then my mind has been rushing about, running down avenues I would rather not visit, or creating checklists of things I need to do or say or think about.  Even in sleep I don't think my head gets any rest.  Each new specialist and test paints a more frightening scenario, a larger sense of urgency, and decisions must be made soon. 

I remind myself to not live in fear of what tomorrow can bring but instead to take in these moments and appreciate each one for what it is.  I have been truly blessed in my journey through this world and he is part of each day's gratitude.  These hurdles are both difficult and challenging but there is no choice but keep moving through each of them.

I must confess that sometimes, inside me, there is the little girl curled into a ball with her hands over her ears, eyes closed, screaming that she is not ready and she cannot handle this.  Until I do.  Life continues on and dinner still needs to be cooked, the laundry needs to be folded, and the boy still needs help with his homework.  I can't stop long enough to be overwhelmed.  I have to choose to be weak or be strong and if you know me at all, there really isn't any question about which path I'll take.  I will do what needs to be done.

Sitting on the couch tonight, our kitten crawled onto my chest and collapsed her purring, cuddly self there.  One of our other cats immediately followed suit.  They knew I needed the comfort they could bring.  In those few moments, I got clear on a few important lessons.

I am loved unconditionally. 

The Universe has given me abundant gifts to cherish.

Laughter lightens your heart.



Comfort comes in many forms.



Each moment is precious and not to be wasted. 

I challenge you to find clarity in your life and share your wisdom with the people who are most important to you, and with me here. 

Monday, September 5, 2011

children - GBE2 - week #16

I have been out of the loop for weeks now as life has been in fast forward.  Edging my way back in this week with something I wrote years ago about my daughter.  There have only been one or two other things that I have ever written that flowed out of me the way this did - with deep emotion. 

On another night when I couldn't sleep years ago, I wrote about my grief and loss and pain with no expectation that the feeling would ever go away. It has now, but that night it was alive and thundering through me. Grief ebbs and flows at its own pace, with its own will.  It taught me to not give up hope.

For Bridget -

I am grieving, i am grieving..
for the sunlight on your hair and sweet butterfly kisses that you sprinkled on my face
another time, another place...
as you skipped and danced and sang your little girl songs
of happiness and unicorns.
and oh, i had you then, your hand in mine, smiles and rainbows,
and dreams of little ponies you would ride.
but time went by, and you grew on, and didn't sing so many songs
until you found your feet again.

that October day when I drove away in the moving van, with you left behind,
......your choice, your choice....but did you feel abandoned and alone?
I wasn't home but gone away..
did i lose you then? was that the time?

that cold January night with you at work, your life fractured when one broken friend would never come home again.
couldn't put the pieces back together and...
did i lose you then?

or was it some far away and long ago that i don't know when you lost your way?
but i am here where i've always been, and no matter what they say, you can come home again.
you are my child, my child.

and tomorrow will bring a reckoning that had to come, and i am sad and aching with the hurt it's done
and i am grieving, i am grieving...
because you are my child, my child.






Tuesday, July 19, 2011

GBE 2- Midnight

It's coming on midnight and here I am again, unable to sleep, wishing all the words filling my mind could be emptied here on the page leaving me void so rest would come and dreams could close in to fill the space.  Then again, my dreams of late have been connected to my missing cat, Esme, and during most of them I am sending her pictures of our house and urging her with all my love and energy to return to us.  In some of them, I hold her and pat her and tell her she is loved and missed so desperately.  I see that she is healthy and happy and fending well for herself.  She rubs against me and twines around my legs, thrilled to be near me.  I worry for her safety out there against predators that are more knowledgeable, faster, hungrier, with bigger weapons for attacking.

One night last week my dreams showed her with our cat, Lefty, who we put down a month ago.  She was rubbing against him, and he looked right at me.  Did that mean she was with him?  Or did it mean that he was looking out for her as he did when she was young, from wherever he is now?  His energy was strong and sure and she trusts him so.  With him gone now, I don't know that we will ever see her again.  I'm still grieving for our Lefty and not sure whether my grief over Esme is premature.  I try so hard to hold on to hope. 

People have told me stories of how their cat was gone for days, weeks, months, and showed up one day as if it had never been gone.  My daughter's cat, missing recently as well, came back a few weeks later, down a few pounds and with a fever, but happily home. 

When is it time to say I've done all that I can?  How long can I obsess on every message in a dream?  Or stop constantly checking the answering machine hoping that someone found her? When will my eyes stop searching the ground cover as I drive anywhere?  How do I move forward and let go at the same time?

It's already a brand new day and I am here, waiting still.  If you can feel me, Esme girl, come home. 

Sunday, July 10, 2011

It's hot in here!

Menopause sucks! It's kind of like the first 3 months of pregnancy.  Not the happy glow of 'oooh I'm bringing a new life into the world', but the nausea, sleeplessness, too warm, hormones raging' part.  Hot flashes are not over in a flash.  Night sweats that make you change your clothing or discard it all together.  I have never been so unhappy in my world, in my life, in myself as I have been these past few months.  I see the amazing blessings in my life and they fill me up, and yet, my mood swings are terrible and I have been difficult to live with.  I think the worst part of this is that my memory is gone.  I can't remember where I put my cell phone, keys, who I wrote that check to, whether or not I fed the cats, that I need to do laundry, pick up a fly bonnet for the horse, or just where I put that list of things to remember to do.  This frustrates me daily.  Taking something for it is really not an option.  I strive daily to find some peace and be grateful and to have a happier outlook.  I'm trying to believe it can't last much longer.  Maybe tomorrow will be a better day. 

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Sir Lefty

Almost 7 years ago, my sister entrusted me with the care of her family's cat.  She was moving and wanted to make sure that all the noise and packing and confusion didn't upset him, so she left him with me.  In the ensuing days as she moved and tried to unpack and settle into her new house, an amazing thing happened - Lefty became a part of our family.  He slept as close to the boy as I would allow.  He tried desperately to make friends with our other cat.  He adored all the attention.  After a few weeks, we agreed that he could continue living with us since there was no love lost between him and their dog and other cat.  

Lefty became a fixture in our household, always a gentleman.  A true gentleman.  A well-behaved and well-groomed cat, his name "Lefty" came from the fact that he was left behind when my sister's neighbor's moved out.  It has always seemed less than fitting for him. My mother can never remember his name and always calls him "Lucky", and that he is.  He is battle-scarred from his days in the hood defending his turf.  I remember a time when no cat would come within a three-house radius of us.  There has always been such a regal air to him, right down to the way he places his feet, and chest out, head tall, he would stand surveying all his eye could see - his kingdom.  After seeing this face he presented to the world, I would often call him Mufasa from "The Lion King", as that is how he seemed to me.  Strong, proud, defending his family.  When my friend Anita met him, she saw the same regal air and he became "Sir Lefty" - still the gentleman, ever chivalrous and charming.

Unfortunately the years pass, and after he got into a brawl with another cat and lost, I was told he needed to become an 'indoor cat'.  And so he did.  He never really liked it but he'd lost a step, and even he knew it.  Still, he would stand at the door rather pitifully hoping that I would let him go, and on warm summer days with supervision he would have romps in the yard.  Every once in awhile he would get out when I wasn't looking, but he would always show up after an hour or so ready to come back inside, knowing that he didn't rule any longer.

Last  year, when we moved to Maine, he once again had room to roam in our subdivision.  At 17, he didn't go very far.  I was thrilled that we had such a great summer so he could return to those glory days, even if his kingdom had been reduced to a perimeter search of the house, a quick jaunt into the woods to relieve himself, and then long days of sleeping on the front porch at his post as 'guard cat'.  

He had a long, hard winter.  Arthritis catching up with him, at 18, he started losing weight, not eating as much, sleeping a lot longer.  Only in looking at pictures from last summer in the last few days have  I really seen how he has been failing.  Late this spring, he had a fairly severe infection, and has never really come back from it.  We had been gone for a few days and on our return, he barely lifted his head to greet us.  He has good days, 2 this week in fact, but only after we had him in to the vet again.  Two out of seven days will never be enough.  He has brought so much to our lives and I cannot fail him now.  We are out of options to help him, and holding him in my arms in the back yard a few days ago, when he was having trouble standing, I knew that it was time to let him go.
 
Tomorrow, I will take him in to the vet so he can pass on without pain.  My heart is breaking as I sit with him and hear him purr and watch him turn his head into my hand so I can scratch him just so and he can hug me.  I know he knows it's time.  A can of his favorite food now, he is still taking care of me feeling my sadness.  Soon, I will give him a few last kisses and I will leave him sleeping.  The morning will come too soon. 

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

"You can't get there from here"...

This expression is often used with a heavy accent to point out the fact that roads and routes do not seem to follow a linear pattern in Maine.   The more I drive in Maine, the more I understand why people say this.  Today,  I headed out to find my new equine vet in the town of Gray, and people used this expression twice giving me directions.  I did not have a high level of confidence that I would find it.  One stop and one phone call later, I arrived unscathed but thoroughly confused on how I'd actually achieved the feat.  I have the navigation gene from my father.... BAMMIT!!  In conversation, I was told that many of these 'roads' (and I use the term loosely) in Maine used to be parts of farms - cow paths that were paved over. 

Due to the complete improbability of returning home on the path that led me safely there,  I took a different road (wrong turn) and headed off on adventure... ohmy.  Uhm.. GPS, you say?  Yes, that would be lovely, but it was even more confused than I was, hence my return trip brought me home to Freeport from Gray through Cumberland.   (I can feel all Mainers shaking their head... and tsk-ing right now.)  My cell phone was likewise useless.  I went Southwest for a while only to turn and come back Northeast. So, basically, I drove in a circle for almost an hour.  Ay caramba!

I do not like being lost.  I usually call it "finding a new way to my destination", but today, I felt like I was wasting time and gas. 

On a positive note, I did see some beautiful horse barns, some lovely houses, beautiful landscaping and plants blooming.  Also, while I was driving in circles, the sun made a brief appearance to reacquaint me with what is supposed to be Spring.  It has gone back behind the clouds now that I am back in my driveway. 

Next time, I hope to find a better way home... and just in case, maybe I should bring another form of navigation. 

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Notes to self....

I believe it is important to go back periodically so you can see how far you've come.  To begin here, I'm going to re-trace my steps.  This was some good advice I have tried to follow for the past 3 years, a compilation of lessons I've learned and have written down to remember.  

Notes to Self,

Do not be so driven by your vision that you negate the input of others. Your gifts are meant to be shared with those who contribute to the richness of your soul. These blessings in your life should be combined.

Take time to reflect, and be cautious about being caught up in a timeline of your own making.  The world evolves as it will.  Be open to it and let it fill you.  You cannot fill it with trivialities no matter how you try.  The universe laughs when you make plans.

Never regret reaching out your hand.  No matter how often it is slapped away or ignored, this act of love is so much more than the simplest of gestures. Your heart is there.

There is a fine line between owning who and what you are and bragging about it.  Should you find yourself not lost in the majesty and enormity of what has been given to you, step back and remember that you are no more than the conduit of some great magic.  Humility should be your key word.  To whom much has been given, much is expected.

Always remember in each moment that you are loved.  Should you go through your life with nothing more than that, then you would be rich.  To pass on your way with the diversity of people who share your journey and to live each of those moments to their fullest is to lead a worthwhile existence.

Believe.  

Find wonder.  

Seek happiness.  

Imagine. 

Trust. 

Dream.

Manifest your life.

Choose joy.