Friday, December 31, 2010

We Traveled So Far (Mary Chapin Carpenter)

Thanks again to all who never gave up on me these last five months, whether by active cheerleading or supportive patience - lots of reading and pondering has convinced me it's not about the "trying" but about the "being"... so I will try (ha!) to *be* more accepting of myself, in whatever form, in the future...

Time did march on since mid-July (my last wrenching post) and below is a recap of the "life before my eyes" in that abyss of emotional floundering - I would like to say I feel better now... and I do... but I also am more prepared to handle the ups and downs of the journey. Mixed Nuts, a really lame movie we watched Christmas Day with the exception of some amazing character actors (Madeline Kahn among them), had a great piece of dialogue:

"Just remember that in every pothole there is hope. Well, you see, pothole is spelled P-O-T-H-O-L-E. So if you take the P, and add it to the H, the O, and the E, and rearrange the letters... or contrariwise, you remove the O, T, and the L, you get "hope". So, just remember, in every pothole there is hope!"


Amen and blessed be - so... Top Ten Past Events, Good and Bad, to Close Out 2010:

10. I did go to Falcon Ridge this July, as I missed the 2009 festival due to Mom's illness/passing - it was amazing to reconnect with friends and music I only experience in person once a year, but are with my cyberly daily...

9. August 5 brought my 56th birthday - I can't even remember what I did, but I do recall telling everyone I didn't need presents, as I really already had everything I wanted...

8. After putting Mom's house on the market mid-April, we signed it over to buyers late-August - closure is always bittersweet and, sad as it is to think we've metaphorically and literally closed that door, we've also moved forward with our lives while keeping the memories...

7. My sister hosted a what-would-have-been-Mom’s-80th-birthday party in mid-September, attended by new and old neighbors as well as other friends - more bittersweetness ensued, as we celebrated someone who always celebrated life...

6. I experienced a personal and professional dream-come-true as I hosted the amazing Dar Williams in early-October at the concert series I've coordinated for the last six years - the evening was a success on so many levels (musical, emotional, financial) and I am beyond blessed. Photo of commemorative tattoo, a few minutes after inking, above - love and thanks to Kristyn... :-)

5. Terry, a friend from book club and the gym, discovered she had ovarian and stomach cancer, and there was only a month from diagnosis to her death on November 14 - it still doesn't seem real and she is much missed...

4. After being with his company for 25 years, the week before Thanksgiving my husband received pre-notification he's being let go in mid-February (they're outsourcing his role to another country) - rather than operating from fear, we are belt-tightening where we can but also thinking positive (along with networking his many resources) that there is something better out there for his talents and experience...

3. In mid-August, I finally got serious about a weight loss program and, as of mid-December, have lost 40 pounds - I look great, feel terrific and, after successfully maintaining through the holidays, will take off another 10 or so to get to goal as well as peace of mind...

2. For the last 10 years (since my mom's second husband was killed in a car accident in March 2000), each Christmas we have traveled to South Carolina to spend time with my husband's family and Georgia to see mine - it has been rewarding but also exhausting and expensive, and this year we made the conscious decision to stay home. We resurrected old traditions (put up a tree and over-decorated) and made new ones - we of course missed being with extended family but actively embraced the holiday in our own home for the first time in a decade...

1. Tonight we will go to a party (home by midnight to honor our champagne-in-the-jacuzzi ritual) and tomorrow finds us hosting a New Year's Day Open House - my wish for 2011 for myself and my friends: inspirational music, thought-provoking literature, heart-based camaraderie and awareness/intention to appreciate and enjoy!

SONG: We Traveled So Far by Mary Chapin Carpenter

BOOK: The Ten Things to Do When Your Life Falls Apart: An Emotional and Spiritual Handbook by Daphne Rose Kingma

POEM: crossing the border by Maya Stein

It hit her, crossing the border into Ontario. The drive from Ann Arbor
had been grey and wet, the rain coming in fat drops,
metronoming her windshield wipers. She'd settled into her seat,
like she'd done for the past 5,000 miles, reached for a stick of gum,
adjusted the radio dial, checked the battery on her cell phone.

The landscape into Windsor was flat, almost featureless,
though the bridge had been magnificent, a real piece of architecture,
the cables long and taut as ballerina legs.
But the strip malls greeted her cheerlessly,
the sky empty of welcome. She drove on, having filled up
on gas at her departure. Finally, the cornfields reappeared,
barns and silos rising out of the land again, and the first
hints of autumn announced themselves in the distant trees.

Maybe it was this particular rain, or that somehow
crossing the border had carried her even further from home,
or that the season's temporal beauty - so splashy now -
would tumble into certain bleakness and cold, but out of nowhere,
she gave the steering wheel a fresh earnest grip,
wanting to hold on to whatever it was
that was letting her go.

And yet, she realized it was time, her own muscles tired
of engaging only to leave her heart frayed so thin.
The exchange was untenable, staying rooted to a past that charmed
and even, occasionally, soothed, but no longer fed.

She had opted for the country road on her way
to the big city, but soon it became clear this wasn't a day
to get lost. The road required an oddly painful slowing. Construction
and idle drivers kept interrupting the steady pressure of her foot
against the gas pedal. The single lane made it difficult to pass.

And though she preferred these roads, their changing scenery and
unexpected finds, she saw the delay they would cost her journey,
and with reluctance, she returned to the highway's swift efficiency.

There is no easy way to cleave the heart
from loving. It does what it does impiously, inopportunely,
uncalendared and unseasoned. What she carried with her she gave
with a lack of deliberation, discretion, scurrying
to greet every opportunity to add to the pile.
But the act of filling had not made her full.

Instead, she was twitchy with worry. Emptiness and sorrow
had attached themselves to her most joyful, generous gestures.
She knew something in her was flagging, losing steam and grace.
She knew she could not puppet this theatre any longer.

The road was wide and clear. Somehow, the rain seemed less
rigorous here, and she turned off her wipers in time
to see the city rise into view, skyscrapers pushing into the clouds.
It would be a lie to say that she was healed, heart full as an udder again.
But I can tell you she was precisely where she needed to be, even
in her brokenness, and she would know where to go
from here.

QUOTE: “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.” ~ Theodore Roosevelt

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Prayer for My Friends (Terri Hendrix)

I am in process of attempting to "get unstuck" - I promise a more detailed, personal and catch-up entry tomorrow... but, in the meantime, here is what I put together, but never posted, for Thanksgiving. Deepest gratitude and boundless thanks to those who have loved me, supported me and reached out... even when I pushed away - you will never know how much it means...

November 25, 2010
Being Truly Thankful
Beyond Counting Blessings

When we are in the state of thankfulness, we are in a higher state of awareness,
gratitude at our doorstep. Often when we practice being thankful, we go through the process of counting our blessings, acknowledging the wonderful people, things and places that make up our reality. While it is fine to be grateful for the good fortune we have accumulated, true thankfulness stems from a powerful comprehension of the gift of simply being alive, and when we feel it, we feel it regardless of our circumstances. In this deep state of gratitude, we recognize the purity of the experience of being, in and of itself, and our thankfulness is part and parcel of our awareness that we are one with this great mystery that is life.

It is difficult for most of us to access this level of consciousness as we are
very caught up in the ups and downs of our individual experiences in the world. The thing to remember about the world, though, is that it ebbs and flows, expands and contracts, gives and takes, and is by its very nature somewhat unreliable. If we only feel gratitude when it serves our desires, this is not true thankfulness. No one is exempt from the twists and turns of fate, which may, at any time, take the possessions, situations, and people we love away from us. Ironically, it is sometimes this kind of loss that awakens us to a thankfulness that goes deeper than just being grateful when things go our way. Illness and near-miss accidents can also serve as wake-up calls to the deeper realization that we are truly lucky to be alive.

We do not have to wait to be shaken to experience this state of being truly
thankful for our lives. Tuning in to our breath and making an effort to be fully present for a set period of time each day can do wonders for our ability to connect with true gratitude. We can also awaken ourselves with the intention to be more aware of the unconditional generosity of the life force that flows through us regardless of our circumstances.

And yesterday's StoryPeople lesson:
Rules for a successful holiday:
1. Get together with the family
2. Relive old times
3. Get out before it blows

SONG: Prayer for My Friends by Terri Hendrix

BOOK: The 7 Great Prayers: For a Lifetime of Hope and Blessings by Paul McManus and Tracey McManus

POEM: Thanks by W. S. Merwin

with the night falling we are saying thank you
we are stopping on the bridges to bow from the railings
we are running out of the glass rooms
with our mouths full of food to look at the sky
and say thank you
we are standing by the water thanking it
smiling by the windows looking out
in our directions

back from a series of hospitals back from a mugging
after funerals we are saying thank you
after the news of the dead
whether or not we knew them we are saying thank you

over telephones we are saying thank you
in doorways and in the backs of cars and in elevators
remembering wars and the police at the door
and the beatings on stairs we are saying thank you
in the banks we are saying thank you
in the faces of the officials and the rich
and of all who will never change
we go on saying thank you thank you

with the animals dying around us
our lost feelings we are saying thank you
with the forests falling faster than the minutes
of our lives we are saying thank you
with the words going out like cells of a brain
with the cities growing over us
we are saying thank you faster and faster
with nobody listening we are saying thank you
we are saying thank you and waving
dark though it is

QUOTE: “Thank everyone who calls out your faults, your anger, your impatience, your egotism; do this consciously, voluntarily." ~ Jean Toomer