Thursday, November 27, 2008

Being thankful

Another wonderful Thanksgiving today, spent with our circle of friends and neighbors, where we ate too many carbs and I KNOW there was too much butter in everything. We laughed. We cried. We played a silly game and answered silly questions. We ate pie.

It was a fun day, spent with people we love. It doesn't get much better than that.

I'm so grateful that we live here and that we have wonderful friends and neighbors who care about us and who we care about in return.

I'm grateful for second chances and new beginnings. Living here was one of those. Being with Tony was another. There are things in my life right now that I wish were a little better, but those two could NOT be better than they are.

I hope your day was filled with good food and friends, and that you have a gratitude list too. It makes everything easier when we keep in mind our joys and our happinesses.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Marking another year

Today is my birthday, my 61st, another year into this seventh decade of my life.

It feels like such a short time since I turned 60 last year, and THAT is one of the great lessons of aging: as we age, time speeds up. I want time for this birthday. I want good, quality time. And I guess it's up to me to make my minutes and hours and days to be just that, hm.

In this last year my hair is longer, greyer. My face has more lines in it. The texture of my skin is changing, although it smooths when I slather on rich moisturizing cream (lesson for those of you who may be under 40 -- always, always moisturize your face and neck and arms and legs).

My braces are off. My smile is big.

We spent time with extended family in Nashville and in Ashland. We watched movies, TV, read. We survived several days without electricity and a summer of smoke and fires. We got mad and we got over it. We laughed with our wonderful Red Bluff circle of friends.

We have an adult child living with us again.

Through it all there is a common thread: we create our own destiny. We are responsible for the choices we make and the consequences of those choices. We get to choose whether to be happy or sad, to be grateful or to be angry, to change or to stagnate.

There are days when that is the only thing that makes sense to me -- that we have a choice about our actions. It isn't that I always like the alternatives, but there ARE choices, even in harsh economic situations and unsettling times.

We do all we can, where we are, with what we've got.

That'll get me through this next year too, with the hope and many prayers that if I keep putting one foot in front of the other and keep a grateful heart and stay open to the goodness of the Universe, we will be all right.

Can't speak for anyone else: what they do is THEIRS, not mine, to manage.

But I will be okay.

I am so grateful to see all those grey hairs and life-lines in my mirror, and to begin another year. I am grateful to have second chances and new beginnings at life. I am HUGELY blessed by a wonderful circle of friends and girlfriends in this little town, who have already honored me with wonderful food and parties and gifts, and who continue to hold me close in their hearts with love and kindness.

I hope I return to them some of the joy and love they give to me.

May I never lose sight of the gratitude of this moment, this day. It is all we have, right now.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Watch for the angels

The Daily Om, which I've mentioned before in these posts, today had a really lovely piece about angels among us. Basically, it says that "their words or actions may help us see ourselves more clearly or remind us that our situations will turn out the way they should, or they help us cope with with difficult situations.

And I needed the reminder that things can change quickly, that all is not angst and worry, and that the only constant is change.


Nothing stays the same. Everything changes. Nothing lasts forever. I know this is true.

It also reminded me that people come into and go out of our lives for reasons, and that our lives touch others either to learn or to teach. I've learned from and been sustained by the caring of so many friends over the years, most recently these past three months by my wonderful girlfriends (and some of their husbands too) in my little town. (Never in my life have I had so many friends who have been so supportive and caring! How blessed is that!)

I believe I've been put into situations in the past to teach. I've also learned a lot from others who I've encountered, some of them in such unlikely places! But I believe in the old saying: when the student is ready, the teacher will appear.

I need to remember that there ARE angels around me and open my eyes to see them, to listen to them, to accept their caring and love. I need to remember to keep asking the universe for what I need for ME, and to be aware of the teachers who appear in my life to help me.

I need to have faith that my children have angels around them as well, and that when they are ready to see them, the teachers (angels) will be there for them.

When we ask the universe for what we need and want (for ourselves) -- I believe that we get answers: yes, no, or not yet. One of my teachers told me once that we should ask for "this, or something better" when we ask -- and I do. It works. Sometimes the answers come in ways you don't expect, but they do come. And I have always been okay.

Tonight I ask for clarity, for acceptance, and I offer gratitude for my friends and family, who surround me, flood me, with love and concern and caring. I feel it. Thank you.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Quietly contemplating choices

After a couple of days of turmoil on all fronts, lots of fear and ice weasels, lots of reading about coping and consequences, we are in a place of relative calm tonight.

Our child is safe and okay, and has made some decisions about where she wants to be. For my part, I am determined to give her back the power I've assumed on her behalf over the last few months, and to stop treating her as though she were an errant teenager.

For this moment, I believe what she is saying is the truth.

And if it is not, that too will eventually come out. Truth always does.

But everyone deserves at least a couple of do-overs, y'know? So this is one.

I do have a problem with control: I like knowing what is going on and alllllll the details -- always have, and that has caused problems in my relationships with my daughters in the past. If I really get honest about it, I think I see the "right" thing to do, and I push and push to have it go in that direction.

For me, the hardest thing is to let go of that control. While I say "I am powerless over people, places, and things," I often don't actually ACT it. or believe it, I suppose

My brother would agree that I am and always have been fairly bossy. (ooo...that is SO hard to admit, especially where I know he's going to see it)

And I also have to admit that my own life has not always been a textbook of the best or the right way to live. I've screwed things up pretty well any number of times. No, I never suffered horrible consequences like getting thrown in jail, getting arrested, gravely serious injury (although I bear a few scars here and there, and there are a few instances I really don't like remembering), or doing injury to others, at least injuries that are visible.

But I'm sure I gave my mother and father more than a few sleepless nights, and caused my ex some major heartburn. I'm sure I lost a few friends -- although I'm not sure that they were all that great a friend to begin with.

So the lesson I need to find in this is to accept the consequences of my own behavior, of my own choices, and to let go of the need and the desire to direct the choices and lives of others -- my daughters, my dear husband, or my greater family and friends.

It simply is NOT MINE TO DO. Not mine to manage.

Whatever my daughters choose to do in their lives are theirs to manage and to live with. I will never, ever stop loving them. But I am not responsible for their choices. I cannot control their mistakes. And we ALL make mistakes.

Mine in this instance was probably in jumping a bit too quickly to conclusions, and trying too hard to control things.

If there is risky behavior from either child, it is they who will bear the consequences. I cannot save them from that, try as I might. And to jump in to either condemn or rescue is equally as bad.

So tonight I will turn my attention to myself, and ask for the serenity to accept those things I cannot change. And for the wisdom to know the difference. I don't lack for courage, but wisdom to know has definitely been an issue in the past. I just didn't realize how great an issue it still was.

And I am grateful that she is safe and okay for now, that she has made a CHOICE to be where she is, and that her people radar has kicked in enough, at least, to override her stubborn nature and allowed her to see the danger.

I will turn my worries and fears and control over to the care of God/dess, and try to keep myself on the path to serenity. This is a journey. It matters what I do every day. But neither will I beat myself up unnecessarily. It is about progress, not perfection, and I am working on my own issues.

Thank you for your prayers and your love. It is all that which has brought this to be where it is tonight, of that I am sure. Keep them coming -- and I will hold you close in my heart and in my prayers as well.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Another line

We're in the process of drawing another line with yet another daughter.

A reader just today left a comment on this post, which certainly fits with our current situation although circumstances are a bit different.

Boundaries are necessary in our lives, else we end up doing everything for others and leave ourselves high and dry. Or we compromise deeply held values and beliefs. Or we expose ourselves to dangerous situations.

Unfortunately our daughter doesn't know how to draw good boundaries for herself and we believe she may have chosen to engage in extremely risky behavior, jeopardizing her already precarious mental health, her physical health (which is also already compromised), and our home and safety.

All of this stems from long-ago issues that were most clearly not her fault; however, her subsequent choices have led her to this moment, and she has to take at least some responsbility for making those choices. At this moment, she seems to have chosen a path that will lead to serious consequences.

I can pray that she will decide she doesn't want that and that she is willing to take the hard journey back to sanity and to health, and I will support her -- we ALL will -- to the extent that she will allow us. Until then, just as with our other child, we must pull back and stop enabling.

It's the hardest thing I've ever done.

Please light a candle for her. Say a prayer that God and Goddess and all the angels will bless and keep her safe. And please say one for me too. Throughout these past three months I have felt the collective support and love from friends near and far supporting me and loving me. Please don't stop now...

Saturday, November 08, 2008

What I know for sure

.... you know with certainty the following 3 things:
(1) if you are living and breathing, you will pay taxes;
(2) someday you will die and meet your maker; and
(3) there are more slimeballs in this world than rats in a NYC tenement.

That's a quote from a fellow freelancer written in response to another list member's story about not getting paid for work done.

But it's a pretty accurate way to see things, I think.

Wish it weren't so -- that #3.

There are a lot of good people, too, who will help you, give you good advice, stand by you when you're hurting, and give you a shoulder to cry on.

I'm grateful for those. It's not easy for me to let them in when I'm hurting, but I've tried, and it's their collective supportive energies that have sustained me over these past months. I try to surround myself with good people who are the kind of friend to me that I try to be to them.

That's what it's about: giving back and also being able to receive kindness and generosity. Loving your family and friends. The rest of it has some importance, but it's not what will sustain you in hard times.

Y'know what I mean?

Friday, November 07, 2008

Art! in our town, tonight!

Tonight is the sixth annual ArtWalk in our little town, sponsored by the Tehama County Arts Council of which I am a member and past president.

It is just a wonderful event in downtown Red Bluff, with 21 stores opening their doors to local artists and the public, and featuring wine tasting, food, music, and wonderful, wonderful artworks of all mediums.

I'll have four photos at Heartfelt Designs as will my honey, and there are three floors of art in that venue -- not only are there lots of wonderful photographs from the Tehama County Photo Club, but there are vibrant paintings, imaginative sculptures by Jay Murphy (who I interviewed earlier this year), and fiber art -- soft alpaca socks, hats and vests, gorgeous yarns, rugs, clothing and more.

But what is really great is how so many people come to downtown and walk up and down, dipping into each venue to see the art, sample food, and talk with the artists. It brings people together to celebrate the creativity in this county.

Redding has a similar event once a month -- the ArtHop -- which is tomorrow night. I wrote another story about one exhibit in this month's event which celebrates Shasta County veterans and their service. I'm hoping to get there for that reception.

Life is richer when you have art in your life. If you don't create it, then go see it. Buy it. Surround yourself with things you like to look at or music you love to hear. It makes a huge difference in your mood and your overall wellbeing.

See you tonight?

Monday, November 03, 2008

Passages through time

The third anniversary of my mother's death was Thursday -- Oct. 30 -- and according to pagan tradition, the "veil" between the worlds thins on Oct. 31, so the spirits of those who have left this earth are closer to us.

I spent much of the day thinking about her, about those last hours of her life and her peaceful passage into the next dimension. While I miss her, the raw grief has diminished. Time heals. And I've also come to better accept death as a part of the life cycle, I suppose.

While I am spiritual, I'm not sure what I really believe about spirits. I have, however, felt loving spirits around me from time to time. Those presences have comforted and helped me through some difficult moments. If it's just my overactive imagination, I don't care -- it's sort of whatever works.

There are churches who believe in "spirits" and explain bad things or actions as a "demon" being in you -- actually, we had that experience not long ago when a mental health professional attributed a demon with the source of unhealthy behavior. THAT was scary to me, frankly -- not because I believed there was a demon, but because the professional blamed the demon for inappropriate actions -- as if you can absolve yourself of responsibility for your actions because of a demon?

But the title of this post is Passages, not spirits. I'll leave more of that to another day.


And we are in November -- our birth month, the transition month from autumn into winter, of losing the leaves as the earth prepares to sleep for some months. I like November. I like the rain, the blustery winds, the promise of hot chocolate and cider, the preparation of feasts for Thanksgiving, the sharing of lives and gratitudes.

I don't like that we're seeing lots of ads for Christmas already, and that seems to be the focus for any retail store. This month is the gratitude month, and I like to savor it first. Christmas will come in all its gimme-gimme-buy-spend-expectancy all too soon.


Both Tony and I have now had cataracts removed from our eyes, and we each see better than we have in years -- me since early childhood (if even then), and him for at least 20 years. While I know it is not so easy for everyone, we are tremendously grateful for renewed clarity of sight. I still cannot get over the fact that I wear neither contacts nor glasses at the moment, other than occasionally using cheaters to see fine print. Yes, I'll probably have something for driving. But for normal sight -- especially for computer work -- I see better than I ever have without any correction. That is truly a miracle, and I am grateful to doctors and nurses who performed the operation, and for those who have worked through hundreds of years to perfect this procedure.


Election Day is tomorrow. We all voted by mail this time, and will watch along with the rest of the country to see what happens tomorrow. I confess to being very nervous that another election will be determined by hanging chads and Supreme Courts. And while I can't wholeheartedly support either candidate, I believe Obama may offer my generation better healthcare options than McCain. And I'll tell you, that's a HUGE factor in our lives right now, as it is for the millions of other babyboomers as we count down to Medicare and Social Security.


We entertained my ex and his new wife this weekend -- they were here to see our daughter, and it was a very pleasant visit. Actually, his wife, Susan, was a high school student of mine when I taught in a tiny Missouri town back in the early 1970s! I liked her very much then -- she was a good student, loved literature (I taught English), and enjoyed analyzing words. We also knew her in college -- she attended the college where my ex and I both worked at that point. They reconnected last winter and it was practically love at first sight. I'm very happy for them both, and I still like her very much. And I'm grateful that he and I are friends and that we both want to do the best we can for our daughter.


Each 24 hours is a gift: it is all we have, this moment, this day. We get to determine how we spend it, what we do in it, how we look at it. In this day we get to choose if we want things to remain the same, or if we want to take steps to change a part of our lives that we don't like. Change - meaningful change -- doesn't happen in just 24 hours (generally anyway), but we can take a step to help move it along the path. That's what I tell my daughter. That's what I tell my brother. And that's what I tell myself. Every day.

What do I want to change? What can I do in this moment, this day, to help that happen?