Ode to an Old Friend

 

I heard from an old friend today

She read news of me

Tales of the latest chapter in my new life

Her gracious wishes were felt over the thousand miles between us

  I think of how long I have known her

High school years

Different circles

My memory of her dim

We met years later in a different small town

Young mothers of young ones

Her vivacity and attractiveness sweetly worn

  She grew into her womanhood with a savvy sexuality

 Men  drawn to her like moths to a flame

 She left them speechless and hungry and heartbroken

Single again together

Sharing tales of woe and grief and much laughter too

Summer days lounging in her pool

Listening to songs from the 197o’s and trying to guess the band

She held me up 

Unaware of how her kindness soothed me

 She fed me when I was hungry

Cared for my boys when mom died

 Always expressing admiration for my strength

My ability to keep moving over obstacles and holding my head high

Old friends are a warm blanket, chicken soup and a fine glass of wine

Time passes but the love in our hearts remains

 

 

Day 12.  This literally happened a few hours ago. Namaste.

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Moving Out of Comfort Zones

Image courtesy of: cocospeaks.net

For nine years I have been living outside my comfort zone. Previously, I had a steady vision as to how my life would proceed. But now I realize I was wearing rose-colored glasses most of the time! In August of 2007, my life’s plan was wildly disrupted and I was thrown into the turbulence of divorce. It was as if the earth had opened up and I was being swallowed whole into circumstances that were beyond my control. I spent the next five years in various states of unease and hardship as I navigated my way into an independent life. Along the way, however, I enjoyed moments of great peace, joy, grace, and a growing sense of inner strength that surprised me time and again.

As much as the independent life I had created brought contentment, it was unsustainable. In fact, it was becoming uncomfortable as the responsibilities of single home-ownership were beginning to become more taxing and overwhelming. Additionally, my boys needed to move forward into their own lives. The adventure was finished. I had done my job.

I am now literally in a whole new zone. I’ve said it before, I know! The climate makes me sweat profusely, and at times I think there are way too many sunny days. There’s a whole lot more traffic and this place seems so BIG to me.

Yet within this seemingly vast concrete jungle, there are delicious bits of paradise. (The paradise that brought people down here in the first place, the paradise that is at risk of getting lost for so many reasons). I have the comfort and contentment and continuity of a healthy partnership. A partnership that doesn’t pass judgement and is consistently patient and supportive, undemanding and full of humor! And, for the past year, I have spent many of my days way outside my educational comfort zone- teaching in positions that grew my brain cells and tested my creativity as an educator. It has been exhausting and exhilarating! But most of all, it’s been a gift. I found my community once again. A place which accepts and embraces me in all the ways I hoped.

In the nine years that my life turned in an unexpected and vastly different direction, I have learned a lot about myself and about who I really am. I have met and continue to meet some truly outstanding and amazing people. People whom I never would have crossed paths with if not for that dastardly day in August all those years ago.

Moving forward is a path that is rarely straight. But if you’re willing to allow the way to unfold before you, the detours may bring you unforeseen adventures!
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Image courtesy of: Quotesgram.com

 

 

 

 

Small Matters

Hi Folks! This is a post that I wrote when my blog was in its infancy stage- 4 months in. Per request, my soul sister, Emily asked that I re-post it. That’s the necklace she made in the photo! She is a talented metal worker and silver smith AND she is making the bands for my wedding in June! So fabulous to see how life has changed for the better. Enjoy the story!

Building A Life Of Hope

Remember there’s no such thing as a small act of kindness. Every act creates a ripple with no logical end. ~ Scott Adams

Last week’s severe storm in my region had me thinking about the importance of small things in our daily lives. I was lucky to have been spared the worst of the disaster having lost power for just three days and not sustaining any property damage short of fallen branches.  I missed my morning coffee that I brew in the pre-dawn hours and sip while getting ready for my day. Luckily, I live close enough to a Starbucks which opens at 5 am. What a treat! I drove there in the early morning darkness in my jammies and hoodie and savored each sip. I missed drying my hair but I was getting my haircut on day two anyway. My hairdresser does such a great job that my hair…

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Heaven’s Newest Star

Credit: drearoblivion.blogspot.com

 

An afternoon stroll

Spring Sunday just beginning to reveal its glory

A walk with the tribe

My small band of pilgrims paying homage

Honoring a life well-lived

In the grief a sprinkling of joy was present

Certainly love was winning the day

Though you lived many years you left us too soon

A memorable woman whose heart beats within us

 

Day 12.  A dedication to Barbara. A long time member of our faith community and our town whom we lost 3 days ago. Married for 6o years, mother to many, she leaves behind a legacy of love and kindness and earthly wisdom.

 

Days Like This

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The house is quiet. The kind of hush that comes from the end of the holiday season and the bitter cold of winter’s kiss. The tree came down today and along with it all the decorations which filled this small space called home. I am at once sad and relieved. My last Christmas under one roof with my sons. No matter that a new life, a new start awaits us all-change is difficult. I don’t need to say good-bye to the warm memories of all the shared holidays; they are in our hearts and minds forever. Even though my boys are in the twenties (oldest turned 24 yesterday!), the little child in them still exists during this time of year. This despite their responsibilities as young adults at work in the wide and wacky world!

Last night as we sipped champagne, my youngest son’s best friend remarked as to how rich we are. We are indeed awash in abundance.  This wealth does not come from living an overly large home that is pristine in its vapid sterility. At best it is cozy with photos of family gracing shelves and tables. Moments of warmth and love captured and held still in time. Places experienced. The refrigerator door is covered and cluttered with quotes of the famous and not so famous ( that would be us!) and more photos-especially of the boys through the years. Our bedrooms reflect who we are and serve as a haven after long days when the outside world causes chaos.

Our wealth comes from a multitude of sources. We’ve grown into our present life through the fits and starts.  The rocky adolescence made worse by their father’s shenanigans and ultimate abandonment was tempered by the saving graces of therapy, our awesome faith community and the determination to always make joy and positive memories amidst the pain.  We mined loving nuggets of gold from these times.  We grew a new and better life.

So here I sit on this chilly January night, holding fast to all that is good. Preparing once again for a new phase. Glad to keep one another close as we walk the path together for a short while longer until the road diverges.

 

 

Trails, Tales and Tails

Credit: www.taylorlenz.com

Sunday morning dawned perfectly. Cool, slightly humid and cloudy. My youngest son and my closest friend were headed up to the mountains for the day. I had spent the previous few days picking out a location and preparing the gear and gorp for the trip.  I was confident and excited; the hike was considered “moderate” and we had options to attempt other trails in the vicinity as time and energy allowed.

As we pulled into Emily’s driveway, her gorgeous black lab stood at the doorway. He is a special dude as far as labs go and I thought it would be great for him to join us.  He was unsure of where he was going (new car and why is Mom with me in the back seat?) but was quite delighted when we stopped at what was to be our first spot for the day.

Much to our surprise, the trail that we were originally going to start out on was inaccessible due to a bridge wash out. The woman at the desk gave us an alternative destination where we could pick up the trail a few miles up the road. Now, when you get to this part of the mountains, you have to do a lot of traveling in one direction in order to turn around to get to the other side of the road. This should have been an omen for the rest of the trip, but hey we were prepared, we could go with the flow. Time was on our side anyway.

After parking and checking our gear and the map, we set off. The dog was having a good time with the exception of the fact that he would bark at hikers coming from the opposite direction (it was his first hike-still a pup at 18 months despite his 75 pound size).  Soon, however, he became distracted by the presence of another dog whose company he kept for the remainder of our hike to our destination.

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We were feeling just fine, having hiked for about 1.6 miles over fairly easy terrain. I was looking at the map when another hiker peered over my shoulder to sneak a peek at possibilities for him and his kids. As we were chatting, my son gave me his secret signal- “You wanna try for the summit?” said his eyes. And if you know my friend Emily, you know she is always up for an adventure.

Now, I had already knew that the trail took on what was described to be a “rock scramble” as it got closer to the summit. Never mind the fact that it was also a 4,000 footer ( the Easter hike was 3,755). Of course, we had no idea what the rock scramble was actually like; but in these parts, climbing large slabs of granite are par for the course. Plus, time was on our side anyway.

So we set off into ignorant bliss. We were working hard, the sweat sharing space nicely between our backpacks and backsides, soaking our hair and dripping from our chins. The trail grew loud with a  silence so rare that we stopped for a bit to listen.

Credit: dailey7779.blogspot.com

And then the going got a bit tougher. Huge, somewhat slick slabs with gaps between. Not too hard for a human but terrifying for our four-legged friend.  At first the beast (as he is lovingly called from time to time), would stop to think about his next move.  But after one too many of these, he decided that he’d had enough. He started to walk back down the trail!  We managed to get him back and we commenced a new means of getting him through the rough bits.  We thought by showing him how to get up, he would follow along. This did work for a while but then he would stop again.Then Emily lifted his front paws onto the rock followed by his hefty rear. I don’t remember how long this went on but it became a series of stops and starts with my son taking over the role of the Dog Whisperer. Between Emily’s heavy lifting and my son’s sweet encouragement, the dog began to gain confidence.

And then the moment of absolute doubt and absolutely no turning back. The big boy just sat. Tired. Ready to give up. My son had climbed a few yards ahead, relaying the news that the next bunch of rocks were sideways.

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Impossible for the dog.  A risky possibility for us. Other hikers were descending at this point, having completed the summit from a much more difficult trail with ladders!! 

Credit: www.franklinsites.com

They were certainly feeling the challenge of the descent and were not heartened by the news of what lay ahead just as were equally discouraged by the lack of a good trail alternative. They suggested we take the tram down for the dog’s sake.  (We were truly fine physically but exhausted mentally and the idea was tempting.)

As we were pondering our possible fates, the party that was at the lake caught up to us and brought with them it a bright spot of encouragement. First, a way to bushwack through the woods and second,  a mere 500 feet to the summit!

Once again, the butt lifting began, with me holding the leash, sitting down in case the dog pulled and sent me rock bouncing. Success! He made it to me as I quickly handed the leash to the Whisperer and began a series of slow twists upward in order to right my body for the remainder of the climb. The walk in the woods was easy and we were relieved that the summit was within reach while at the same time feeling a bit nagged about the descent.

My son and I climbed the summit tower with views that were stunning and affirming of why we like to hike.

Credit: adventurehiker.blogspot.com

The dog rested and drank a bit, observing the endless “tourists” who arrived via the tram. This particular mountain is overwhelming popular in winter as a skier’s destination (one of many in the area) and the tram is put to full use in season by those who love the sport.

I have to confess here that I could not turn off the voice in my head about the dog not being allowed on the tram. But I did not to speak out loud about it until we knew for sure.  We took the short walk over into the noise of fast food, a bar and seemingly endless people. Sure enough, no dogs allowed and no real help from one of the operators about a good way to get down. Until… a wonderful man who works  at the food counter suggested we go down  a ski trail that while longer, we get us closer to where we wanted to go.

Now, I know hiking is not allowed on these trails, but I had a feeling that 1) he felt sorry for us and 2) this might be one they suggest to desperate hikers off the record! Going down the trail only validated why I don’t ski; you have no choice but to go fast for long periods of time at the whim of gravity. But the dog was great and we got down in an hour.

And there we stood at the base lodge.  Thinking about hitching a ride, then ditching the idea. We started to walk ‘south’ to the car hoping to find a path. We came upon a state park and asked directions but the teenage girl only confused us and we only confused her. ( In reality, she knew what she was talking about!)  She did suggest we take the bike path, warning us that they don’t usually let pedestrians on it (second time in one day we bent the rules).

Onward we trudged. Anxious for the end. We came to the inevitable fork in the road. Right or left? Which way is south? No sun to act as a guide. The notch’s highway above a beacon of hope. We go left. It starts to rain.  The path is eerily quiet with just one viewing of a cyclist.

Credit: hikenewengland.com

Next, a beautiful bridge with a view of a 5,000 footer my son wants to climb some day.

Credit: responsibleenergyaction.com

And then I realize something is not quite right. If we were going south, the mountain would be behind us on the other side of the bridge! We go back and forth about this for a bit, walking further, then stopping to get out my phone.

Now you may be wondering why we didn’t use any of our phones in the first place. Truth is, we thought we were going in the right direction. Plus, I am not in the habit of using it as a GPS regularly; it never crossed my mind. Until now. And we were so wrong.

At this point, Emily was ready to sit at the park with the dog while we walked back to the car. A seven minute drive and probably a 30 minute or so walk. Then she spies a group of 3 people and their dog.  She walks quickly toward them yelling “Excuse me, excuse me!” She explains the situation and they happily offer us a ride. Of course, they can only fit 2 of us in the car with their dog so my son and I agree to hop in with these complete strangers who looked like they dropped out of the sixties. Beads, bare feet, flowing clothes and a cold bottle of wine in one of their backpacks that was clearly being consumed by just one of them. Her glassy eyes and dreamy look were a dead give away.

I am realizing as I write that this is the first occasion in which I have accepted a ride with strangers!  Possible dire scenarios streamed through my head but I had to dash them and trust nothing bad would happen. Plus, my son is big and strong and tough. Nothing like good physical reassurance!

Penny and her brood were nothing but sweet and when I mentioned that my son probably would love a beer now, the younger woman offered some of her wine. He politely declined as we made small talk about memories in the mountains.

At last we arrived back at the car (actually in 7 minutes!). We said our goodbyes only to be heartily greeted by two other strangers who were hanging out at the car next to ours. We were quite confused and were thinking that maybe something happened to the vehicle. Something did; but not what we expected.  The gentleman handed us a note that he was going to leave us if we didn’t come off the mountain soon. Here’s what he wrote:

                      Hi,

I am apparently an idiot! It is my gear in your backseat. I though it was my friend’s car, and when her keys wouldn’t work, I apparently locked it, then went to ask her what the secret was to getting her car started. My car keys are in the pack, so I am stuck here. Please call me at xxx xxx xxxxx to try and connect.

My son and I burst out laughing. Nancy and Dan were relieved. Of course, of all things, we had forgotten to lock the car up!  All of our valuables were with us, thankfully. This incident just added to another set of unexpected events.  Once Dan got his gear, they invited us down the road to his car for a beer (see, wishes for a 21 year old can come true!). We explained our situation and told him we would join him in half an hour.

We hit the Notch highway hard, trying to remember which exit to get off. Nothing looked familiar but a sign on the right indicated to me that we overshot the one we wanted.  We quickly got off doing 60 mph in a 50 zone, found a turn around and head south once again. Tires were definitely squealing as my son righted the car ( another 21 year old’s wish come true I suppose!).

Credit: en.wikipedia.org

At last we found Emily and the beast! We told her our new tale and of the invite. She was game of course!  The clock said happy hour anyway.  We got to Dan and Nancy quickly, relaxing with  a PBR and Long Trail, swapping stories and relaxing before the long ride home.

On the drive back, we reflected upon our day, at first thinking “Well if we hadn’t decided to go to the summit or “if we hadn’t decided to bring the dog”…. But really that is just silly. We were safe. We had plenty of fuel and gear. We were physically fit. The decisions led to us to one of the region’s more beautiful vistas, a sense of accomplishment and meetings with perfect strangers who helped us remember that most of humankind is generous and good.

 

 

 

 

 

Sideways Stories in Life

Credit: sachakalis.deviantart.com

Did you ever feel both present and nonpresent? Did you ever notice the rapid passage of time and more so, the rapid changes all around you? Do you ever feel sucked into a vortex where your life as you knew it no longer exists? Do you feel that your world is spinning out of control because of one powerful person’s decision that you cannot change? Do you feel that when you’ve already experienced the worst another rogue wave in the tide of life knocks you down?

It is August 1st. The last August in this house for me. Having been away for most of the summer, I have a different perspective on my hometown of 25 years. Some of it is physical. Newer and bigger houses are being built next door and across the way along my tiny and narrow road.  The selling price is beyond belief and the socioeconomic divide just got wider. We miss our old neighbors; the ones you could borrow sugar from or the ones who brought you homemade chicken soup when you had the flu. The ones whose kids you watched over when they were all so young. The age of McMansions has finally cast its net on our side of town.

All change is hard. Neighbors eventually leave. New families move in, taking advantage of the good schools and prime location. Who can blame them? But we already miss our quiet and the working class feel of our spot. What this means for us in the shorter and longer run will soon reveal itself.

The sons continue on. Moving forward in their jobs with possible newer prospects on the horizon. What this means for  them in the shorter and longer run will soon reveal itself.

The responsibilities of my job will be changing at the end of the month. What this means for me and for future job prospects elsewhere will soon reveal itself.

All of what we are experiencing is the natural flow of life. We try not to fight it. We stay positive. Old anxieties creep in, of course. But Heaven knows we have had it so much worse (and this is not bad at all, it is all good, good, good). That helps keep everything in perspective and gives me the energy and wisdom to be there for others.

It is my turn to pay it forward. To give back to others when others gave back to me all those years ago. Good and loving friends are experiencing tough upheavals and wrenching turmoil in their lives presently. I can identify with their pain. I am witness to how it changes both their inner and outer selves, as at one time that was me. Their children were my children.

I wish I had a magic wand. Saying it will get better seems trite and untrue.  Better how? They wonder and worry and grow weary by the moment. It is hard to be present when your past feels like a lie and your future appears bleak. You not only feel like life has gone sideways; you feel sideswiped.

When yet another problem arrived at my doorstep, my father would tell me that it was just another rock in the road that I needed to move. Sometimes those stones were pebbles and sometimes they were boulders. Looking back (and yes  forward, there will be more!), I have come to understand that those obstacles became the foundation for my new life. They didn’t break me. I fashioned them in the form of hope and an inner strength that I never knew existed.

My friends far and wide and those near and dear, you are in my heart and mind as I write this meditation. Stay strong. Be well. Look up for inspiration. The Universe has a message just for you.