Monthly Archives: March 2014

Lessons of My Tree – Part 2

Spring has finally arrived!  I, like so many, am ready for the warmer temperatures and the end to the seemingly endless snowfall we have had this past winter.  I am ready to spend time outside: basking in the glorious sunshine; breathing in fresh, clean air; listening to wonderful sounds of all of Nature’s glory; and, sitting in the shade of my tree!  Yes, you heard correctly, the shade of my TREE!!!!  For those of you who haven’t read my earlier blog about my tree, please do so now, as this won’t make a lot of sense otherwise.  (   )   When I went out to fill the bird feeder earlier this week, I was very happy to see buds on the tree branches.  I went over to my tree and gave her a big hug and thanked her for hanging in there with me.  I swear I heard a sigh.  And I felt her strength.  And I’ve hugged her each day since then; and she has given me strength each day since then.  I hope I’ve given her some too.  I don’t want to take all of her strength, as I want my tree to live and to thrive; I want the “tree man” who looked at her and said she was dying to be wrong.  I want to heal her and help her to live.  And she has.

She survived the “polar vortex,”  not just once, but many times this past winter.  She stood strong against the cold and piercing winds that shook her branches.  She maintained her strength when the ice and snow clung to her and froze her over and over and over.  She clung to life and has been able to show the “polar vortex” that she is stronger than its cold wind, ice and snow.  She is a pillar of strength of what is good and just in this world.  She asks for so little, just water and air, and she gives much in return: strength, oxygen, beauty, grace, shade, healing, etc. And even through her own suffering and pain, she continues to give out all that she can, all that she knows she must, as she knows, innately, what her purpose is on the earth. And she honors that purpose.

I have spent so many years searching for the purpose to my life.  I am not sure that I have found it, however, I do think that whatever I came here to do, I have either done or it will find me, as long as I am open to it.  Maybe I am tired of searching.  Maybe I feel like searching is taking up too much of the time I could be living.  Recently, I’ve spent more time wondering what my “legacy” will be, or if I want one. I do not have children, not human ones at least, so there will be no descendants.  My fur kids are spayed or neutered, so none there either (bet most of you didn’t think of your fur-kids as descendants!)  And, considering my cultural background,  descendants is where it’s at.  My parents worked hard, saved a lot and left us, their children a tidy sum when they died.  I will not have children to pass things down to, but I will keep my parent’s things in the family; I’m big on stuff like that.  I’ve taken a financial beating to keep stuff “in the family.”   But I digress.  Again, I wonder what will be my legacy?  Will I leave any mark that I have been on this earth?  Is that even important?  I am not sure what the answers to these questions are at this point, but I am beginning to realize that my tree may hold the answers for me.

My tree’s purpose is clear: to give the earth oxygen, beauty, shade, nutrients, healing, etc.  She has, probably, never questioned her purpose on this earth since was a little sapling.  She has always, probably, known what she was born to do and she has done it with grace and strength, the way she innately knew how to do it.  So, what can she teach me about her legacy?  After all, she has no saplings that I know of;  I never let those little maple “whirligigs” grow; you know, the ones that clog your gutters and get everywhere every spring! (Although I might try to grow a few this spring, just to see what happens, you know.)

So what will she “leave behind?”  For one, there will be an enormous hole in my life.  She will not be there to wake up to each morning or to say goodnight to each evening.  I will not be able to converse with her and gain strength and wisdom from her.  The shade won’t be there in the summer and the birds will not have a place for their feeder to hang in the winter.  Her beauty will be missed by all, as many comment about how much they love my tree.  My neighbor has even asked the “tree man” how to save her; she is very loved!  There will be less oxygen to breathe because my tree is gone, although I am not sure that will be one of the things that is thought of at the time.  And I know a myriad of other ways that she will leave her mark on this world that I that escapes me. What strikes me as I write this is that once I am gone, either by moving or death, the memory of my tree will be gone also.  But I think that is the way it happens with people, too.  My parents are remembered by their children and grandchildren; but their great-grandchildren never knew them and, so, the knowledge of who they were as people, will die.  Yes, there is a tombstone for genealogists or family who want to know, but they will never really know, they can’t.  Just as no one can really know my tree.

Once again, my tree all ties everything together. My tree’s purpose is to “Just Be” and by doing so provides those that love her with the gifts that they need.  Once again, she is showing me the way, as my theme for the year is to “Just Be.”  Hopefully by doing so, I can give someone else a gift that they need.  Her legacy?  Well, I guess that is yet to be determined, as is mine, but she is teaching me…

 

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Happy Birthday Mom!

Today is my mom’s birthday.  At least I think it is, as I am not sure one actually has birthday’s anymore after they have died.  She would have been 96 today.  She is in a better place and no longer has to endure all the pain that she lived with for so long.  She died seven and a half years ago and I remember so vividly her telling the doctors, “I’m done. I don’t want to fight all this anymore.  I only want two things; to be with my husband and to not be in pain.”  I remember being so proud of her for being able to say what she wanted.  She wasn’t able to do that a lot in her life.  And I also felt surprise that she did not say that she wanted her kids with her.  After all, she always said that her family, dad and her children/grandchildren, were the most important “things” in her life.  But she made her wishes known and it was up to us to honor them.  This was a Friday afternoon in October.  On the following Monday, she agreed to hospice and signed all the paperwork.  My dad was released from the hospital on Tuesday of that week.  I remember telling her that dad was back, as she was “out of it” at the time.  She opened her eyes, smiled,and said, “tell him I love him.” Through my tears I did.  

I got THE phone call on Thursday morning that she was “gone.”  I had been with her constantly since Tuesday night.  I left to take a shower and change clothes.  I wasn’t gone more than 45 minutes, and she left us.  No one was in the room.  I think she wanted it that way.

I can’t say that my mom and I always got along.  In fact, we didn’t get along at all until I was older, much older.  Then we became very close.  She would tell me that she could talk to me in ways she couldn’t talk to anyone else.  I wonder if she said that to anyone else?  My mom was a master at making someone feel guilty, I’ve never met anyone better at it!  She was also passive-aggressive in getting what she wanted.  She had a temper when I was a kid and if I did something to make her really mad, I knew better than to go around her the rest of the day.   I know why, now; but I didn’t growing up.  Of course, my temper could match hers back then, at least when I was a teenager.  If I had been them, I would have put me in a “home” somewhere!  I was an angry kid.  I know why, now; but I didn’t growing up.  But as time went on, we both mellowed.  I think we both realized that life is too short to fight.  And, I moved out and then moved away.  That helped too.  

I spent a lot of time with mom the week before she died.  We talked about a lot of things.  A few of the things she said stick with me.  Some feel like they haunt me.  But the one that I remember everyday is when she told me: “There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t miss my mom.”  I get it, mom, I get it. 

Happy Birthday Mom!  I hope that wherever you are, you are dancing and having a beer (or two) with all the ones you love!  

Today’s Musings

Random thoughts that I am pondering this morning.

~Why can’t they figure out what the hell is going on with the “sores” that keep appearing all over my body?  One doctor says it’s X and the other doctor says it’s Y.  Then they prescribe different things.  No dermatologist, no skin scraping, no testing; just disagreement.  Meanwhile, I keep getting new “sores” and neither medicine is working!

~The sunrise was absolutely beautiful this morning, so who cares about a few silly “sores” anyway!  I am so blessed to see such a gift.  I love opening my shades in the morning when I let my fur-kids out and seeing the beginnings of the oranges, pinks, purples and yellows on the horizon.  It makes everything okay.

~I have volunteered to do something that I seem to have a mental block about doing.  I need to get past this, as I made a commitment.  I have it mostly completed, need to type it up on the computer.  Mostly, the problem is that I spend so much time reading blogs that I am tired and hurting from sitting at the computer so long!  I will feel better when it is done though.  So just do it already!

~ It is going to feel like Spring today and I hope to get some time outside to enjoy it!  Or at least accomplish something that has to do with warm weather.  After all, Winter returns tomorrow, with cold temperatures and the possibility of more snow.  Will Winter ever give up and allow Spring to arrive?  Are we going to go straight from Winter to Summer?  I hope not, I love the blooming of Spring and the warm days/cool nights.  One of my favorites is the light green of the budding trees with the purple of the budding Redbud trees.  That is just gorgeous!  Hopefully I can get a picture this Spring to post on here.

~I am thinking it would be a good day to give the fur-kids a bath.  Of course, I can’t say this out loud or they will hide the rest of the day!  They really need one, it has been way too long.  I don’t like to do this chore any more than they like to get a bath.  It hurts.  And I spend a couple of days recovering.  It seems silly, but it is true.  It only takes a couple of hours to give baths, but afterwards, I can barely walk.  But since I have nothing much going on, it seems like a good time. Now if I can convince myself of this when it warms up this afternoon.

One last thought for today:  I know that I am so blessed in so many ways.  I think of all the people who are homeless, who are hungry, who are truly alone; and I realize how much I have been given.  And then I think of all the families of Flight 370.  I can’t imagine their pain.  So, yes, it is all perspective and looking on the positive side of life.  Most of the time I am able, sometimes I forget.  

Positive thoughts to you all…

The “Golden Hour”

As I am getting my coffee this morning, I look out my kitchen window, which faces east.  The sun is still low on the horizon with its oranges, pinks and purples lighting the sky.  I notice that my neighbor’s yard looks ablaze.  I do a double take. At first, I think they must have yard lights on it is so bright.  Then I realize that because their house faces east, that is the sun lighting up their yard.  It has hit it just right and I have been lucky enough to catch the sight!

It is amazing what we can see when we really look.  I was fortunate to go out a few days with friends last fall on “fun days.”  We would take off driving and go wherever the car/driver led us.  We would stop when someone wanted and take pictures or if someone had a particular destination in mind, it could be requested.  One of the women, who has studied photography, in this group said something that has run through my mind ever since.  About an hour and a half before sunset one day, she became excited and said, “we have to get to the park now, it is almost the golden hour.”  I asked what “the golden hour” was and she explained that it was the hour when the sun/light was “perfect” for taking pictures.

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I had never thought about a time of day when the sun was “perfect.” I have always thought the sun was pretty perfect all the time.  Of course, I had never thought about the “light” for pictures, other than not taking them facing the sun.  Since then, I have paid more attention to some of the photographers I know who take landscape pictures.  They almost always use the time around sunset to light their work.  I do not mean that their pictures are of the sunset, but the picture has the light of the sunset in it, the “golden hour.”

As I think about the “golden hour,” I can’t help but think of it as a metaphor for our lives.  So many of us spend our entire lives working to make a living, trying to “find” ourselves, and running the “rat race” of life.  Until our “golden hours” arrive.  Suddenly, the light is right!  We can see our soul again!  The soul we could see in our childhood, but lost when we had commitments and bills; when the “rat race” overwhelmed us.  And when we see our soul, our passion comes alive!  We can see what we want to do, what we want to be and the path to getting there.  The blessing in the “golden hour” is that it illuminates it all before us, all we have to do is…GO.

It sounds so simple, to just “go.”  It never is.  We have to walk past the darkness of our fear and that stops a lot of people.  The biggest fears I have heard are: 1) What would people think?; 2) What if I give up what I have and I end up not liking the new thing?

Most people who think they know me, would say I worry very little about what other people think.  People who really know me, know that I worry way too much about what some people think!  I am trying to get past that. I know that I can’t please anyone, so I’ve got to please myself (okay I started singing that line, you can sing along if you know the song)! It’s the emotional part of me that I am still trying to convince.  It no longer stops me from doing what I want, however.  Now, I try to just do what I need/want to do and let “them” deal with how they feel about it.  I guess it all comes down to living your own life or allowing someone else to live your life for you; whether you want to be free or be a prisoner.

As to the second fear, what’s to say you cannot go back if you do not like what your soul is leading you to?  I do not, however, believe that will happen.  I do not think the soul is ever “wrong.”  Our listening skills may be off.  We may “hear” what we want to hear, and not what our souls are really telling us.  We may be too afraid to listen at that time, so opportunities may pass us by.   But I do not believe that our true soul leads us in the wrong direction.  We just have to be able to really hear it.  That takes a lot of quiet time and reflection.IMG_0304

Maybe that is why the light of the “golden hour” is so special.  Maybe that is why we can see things so differently through the lens when the light shines so distinctly at that time.  Its the time when things quiet down, become still and start to settle in for the night.  It is the time when we can listen and truly hear, without distractions of the day.

Gratitude and My Kids

I have decided that I am not a prolific writer.   I am a prolific thinker.  Now I just need to be able to turn that into written words! Not that every thought I have is worthy to be written, far from it!  Most I would be embarrassed to share.  You know the ones; why did they put that stupid show on TV?;  can’t that person drive their car faster than 15 MPH?;  Do you really have to get up at 6 AM to go outside?  But now I do want to share my thoughts.

The window in front of my desk faces east and there is the most gorgeous sunrise this morning!  (If I didn’t have a big utility pole with a transformer on it I would take a picture and shared it with you.)  It is red and pink and orange, like fire rising from the dark horizon.  It meets dark clouds that won’t let its light through, yet it powers on, never ceasing, until it wins. It has given all the clouds light, just on the underside, so they are pink and orange bursts of cotton candy floating in the sky.  Isn’t mother nature grand!  The sunset was much the same last night, although I couldn’t get a picture of it either!

What this made me think of is gratitude!  All the “things”in life I am so very grateful for, that I hold dear in my heart.  None of them are things, unless they represent some other intangible “thing.”  Like my house, I am very grateful for my house, as it gives me a safe , warm, dry place to be. And my car, because it allows to get to where I need to be, whether that be with friends, family, doctors or whomever.  But the “things” I am really grateful for are not things, they are people.  Like my wonderful friends in St. Louis, with out whom I would literally not survive!  My great friends in Quincy, both new and old, who have given me support and love.  My family, some of whom have been by my side through everything.  And my kids, without whom I would never have survived everything, everyday!

I have three furry, four legged kids, who are the center of my world!  You know the saying “Love me, Love my dogs,” well, I might take that to extremes!  The oldest is Rudy and he is “Da Man” of the house.  He found me at the Humane Society when he was 9 months old!  I was very lucky!  He is almost 12 and has diabetes, which I think I am finally getting under control.  He is a good boy, very loving and mostly well-behaved.  Any behavior problems he has is strictly my fault; he needs more exercise, which I can’t give him.  That would just about be it!IMG_0893

Then there is Alli, who is the “middle child” and is almost 9.  She is a beagle, might be full and might be a mix.  She was  a Humane Society rescue also.  I’m not sure who found who with Alli.  I think I felt very, very sorry for her.  She had been there over a year and no one was interested because she is…weird.  She has so many funky behaviors that she drives me nuts sometimes, but I have to remind myself how abused she was and how scared she was before she came to live with me.  She didn’t walk across the floor, she crawled on her belly.  Now she runs and barks and barks and barks and barks…  You get the picture!

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Last, but certainly not least, is Willie. The Princess.  The Ruler of the House.  She is going on 6 and is a Mini-Doxie.  She is also very stubborn, wants her own way, thinks every toy in the house is hers and is generally obnoxious!  She is also my baby.  That about says it all doesn’t it.  Yes, the baby of the family does seem to get away with more, or at the very least, gets more coddling.  I try to give them all the same things…if one gets a treat all do, if one gets a new toy, all do, etc.  She is little though, so she spends more time on my lap because she fits.  She also sleeps under the covers next to me, because she fits and because Rudy won’t!  My friends get on me because I spend too much time loving on her and not enough on the other two, so I have tried to be more fair about this.  I suck at it! I do keep trying though.

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See, a face you can’t resist!  Okay, they ALL have faces you can’t resist!  At least I can’t!  Of course, I can’t resist any puppy’s face. And yes, they are all puppies to me, no matter how old they get!

So there is my gratitude list: My Kids, My Friends, My Family, My House, My Car, Sunrises, Sunsets and I know there are Hundreds of Others that go on the list! But that will be another post for another day, when I am thinking of them.

Expectations and Arthritis

I like to ponder. Today’s ponder: Why can I not “Just Be,” live in the moment and let go of expectations?  It seems no matter how hard I try, I continue to have expectations of myself, other people, situations, and even of the weather. And sometimes my expectations are met and sometimes far exceeded. And there are other times, like today, that they will be let down once again. It’s just a silly little thing, a walk in the park with the dogs and some friends that won’t be able to happen because of the weather and how it affects the joints when one has arthritis. It doesn’t seem to matter what kind of arthritis, just arthritis. Yesterday, It was 50° and sunny, tomorrow the forecast is for 50° and sunny, And yet today it is in the 30s with clouds and a chance of rain and snow. What that does to the joints just amazes me. And no matter how I try to ignore it, tell it to go away or take pain meds to mask it, it just stays with me. And I hate, HATE complaining! Those who know me well can see it in my eyes even when I try to smile through it so as not to ruin the party or anyone else’s good time, so I try real hard to just be alone if the pain gets too bad. But today that won’t work, as you see I have friends coming in town and I’d planned on having time to take all the dogs, my three and their one, to the park for a walk. Then come back relax, laugh and enjoy. So now, I need to figure out a way to make at least the second part happen despite the pain. And I can do that, I just get so tired sometimes of having to work so hard at it!

And on another subject, also related to joint and arthritis pain and expectations, I have discovered that my Dragon Dictation no longer works with the new update of the Mac operating system. Now that’s not really good news, however I did discover that Mac has its own dictating program built in to its operating system! One has to be careful as I found out if you choose the wrong option, everything you say AND your contact list will be sent to Apple for them to translate to text and then sent back to you (they also store all your information). I just don’t think Apple should have all of my information, so I chose not to do that. I am finding as I dictate this, that I will have a lot of cleanup to do, which I did not have to do with Dragon Dictation. So I’m going to test it out and see if it will be worth it to use the dictation program. If it is, it will help with my writing quite a bit, as typing is one reason why I don’t write as often as I’d like. It is kind of amazing as I look at the word count. I usually have a hard time typing this many words but I don’t seem to have any trouble speaking this many words, does that mean I talk too much? Nah, couldn’t be! If you could see all the mistakes that the dictation is making this would be a very comical post! However, the OCD part of me would never let this post go out the way it is currently displayed. So I will fix it, after all I am a fixer! Another fun thing about having rheumatoid arthritis, the things that you can fix become less and less and your frustration about that becomes greater and greater. 

So I’m not really sure how I will plan my day for friends to spend time, but I’m sure that we will figure it out and have fun. For that is what it is truly about! It doesn’t really matter what you do; it really matters that you’re together, that you care and that you’re willing to take the time to be there. So that is really what today is about: not the activity, not the food, not the drink; just the friendship, the being there.  Oh yeah…there is that theme of the year thing...Just Be...so I won’t plan my day…I’ll just let it BE!

PS: (Can you have a PS in a blog…well I am, so I guess I can.)  It didn’t take me that long to edit, so it may be worth it. Not sure it will be though if I am writing a lot, like working on the book I am writing.  It would take too much time editing all the capital letters in the wrong places, the words it didn’t translate correctly, like “lettuce” for “let us,” and it kept putting “Matt” in for all kinds of words!  Guess it’s time to call my nephew, Matt! LOL

Self-Worth Doesn’t Have to be Proven

As I turned over the Thought for the Day calendar page this morning it read “I am neither too little or too much.  I do not have to prove myself to anyone.”  Wow, I thought, isn’t that the damn truth!  No I really didn’t think that.  What I really thought was, No I really don’t have to prove myself to anyone. Not anymore.  I am just me and that is all I want to be.  Sure I have aspirations and I will achieve them, not all of them because I can’t physically do all of them anymore, however, I can achieve most!  My bucket list? I don’t know that I have one; maybe that is something I should create too.

It struck me though how much time I have spent trying to prove myself to someone else.  Whether it be my parents, a sibling, a lover, a colleague, or a friend; I have spent an enormous amount of my life proving my worth to someone!  I don’t really think I am alone in this.  We all do it everyday.  We have to; it is the way our society works.  It is not always a negative.  We have to be able to show that we have the ability to perform our jobs well.  We have to show that we are capable of handling finances in order to get a house mortgage.  We always have to demonstrate that we can handle responsibility in any situation before we are given more.  That’s just the way it works, and that’s not a bad thing.

What I am really talking about is proving our self-worth.  No one should have to prove self-worth.  Everyone is worthy!  Just by nature of being born.  It doesn’t matter on what side of the tracks you were born or raised.  It doesn’t matter what career you chose.  It doesn’t matter if your liberal or conservative; christian or pagan; black, white or purple; straight or gay.  What does matter, at least to me, is that you do the best YOU can.  Not the best I can, or the best John Doe can, just the best YOU can. And since no one can tell what that is, there is no one who can really judge you!  So proving someone else’s self-worth, really is not a possibility!

I have really struggled with my self-worth in the past two and a half years.  That is when I lost my job, my career, because of my health issues. I was told by three doctors I could not work anymore.  I had based a lot of who I was on what I did.  I was raised with a strong work ethic. Without a job, a career, I was totally lost.  I felt like I was falling into a deep, dark, black pit.  I had to move from the four acre place I was living, which is where I grew up; and into a small house with a postcard sized yard.  I’ve sold about all I can that has value to pay the bills.  And I kept sinking deeper and deeper.  I stopped laughing; people no longer interested me; I could not reach out; the mask would not work anymore; and,  my eyes could not hide the pain.  Some people gave up trying to help and went away, they just didn’t know what to do or didn’t have the energy to keep trying.  I get that and I get them.  And then there are the ones who stayed.  The ones who supported me: gave me the emotional lifelines to keep me going; the financial help to pay the bills; helped me figure out how to survive; spent time with me when I was not very fun to be around.  And my “kids.” Three furry kids: Rudy, whose 12 and has diabetes; Willie, whose 5 and is the Princess of the house; and Alli, whose 8, and, god love her, drives me insane!  Without the three of them, I’m not sure I would have made it through all of this.  I know there are a lot of people who have thought, and some have said, that I could not “afford” to keep them, and financially they are correct.  They just didn’t get that I could not “afford” to give them up and still stay alive.  Of course, I filed for Social Security Disability in August of 2011, when it became clear that I could not return to work. (Even though I still planned to try to.)  I was denied twice and then had to wait for a hearing.  Anyone familiar with this process knows that it takes a very long time!  Well, my time finally came last week, I had my hearing, and I believe it went well.  Now I wait, yes more waiting, for the official outcome and hopefully some income.

Since the hearing, and the positive feeling that my lawyer and I have about it, it feels that I am rapidly climbing out of the deep, dark, black pit.  It is still there and I am not totally free of it, however I can see light again.  And I wonder, how did a man (the judge) affect my self-worth in 10 minutes? How did he, whom I had never met before, allow me to come up out of the pit, when all the people who really care about me, were unable to do that?  Was it validation by an outside source?  Was it that he held my future in his hands?  Or did it have nothing to do with him personally.  Was it that the “system” had finally come through for me?  I am not sure.  I haven’t figured all that out, and I am not sure that it even matters.  (Except that I am an analyzer, so I will chew on it.) It just is what it is.  And my self-worth has increased.  I do feel validated.  I still wish I could work.  I still wish I was able to work.  But I have accepted that I can’t.  I think I am done with that battle.  At least for today.

So my self-worth?  It gets defined by me.  It’s not about what I can do or what I can’t do.  It’s about who I am.  It’s about what I believe.  It’s about what I value.  It’s about how I spend my time, because that reflects what I believe and what I value.  It’s about how I treat other people, because that reflects how I believe I deserve to be treated.  And it is ultimately about love…because who and what I love, and the way I love, is reflection of my soul.

How do you define your self-worth?