Blizzard Bound

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Funny thing about snow bound days. They go by quickly. I always  plan on “catching up”  but somehow all I’ve managed thus far is a bit of dusting, cleaning the tub and putting my laundry away! Oh, and yoga too…

I was awakened early early this morning by the snow plows on the street and my own plow guy. My driveway is very long and sloped in places- it would take hours and hours to shovel just once. In fact, shoveling has been only attempted twice in the twenty-six years that I’ve lived here. Once, in late1992 when I was vastly pregnant with my youngest and the beast of a snow blower (bigger than I could handle) was broken, leaving my then husband to take on the task alone. He spent the next month accompanied by crippling back pain, relief only found by visits to the chiropractor. Five years later, he was nowhere to be found (off on an adventure).  With the boys too young to help and me overwhelmed, I called the teenage boys next door to clear us out. So,when my ex left nearly 8 years ago, a friend suggested I get someone to plow me out. (The snow blower was older than me and once again quite dead.) The service is a life saver and worth the money. I’m lucky that it is not expensive as my guy has known my situation.

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We still need to shovel though. There are places the plow can’t get around. For some, it would be the equivalent to clearing their own driveway. I try not get negative about the task, especially those times in the recent past when I’ve been by myself (boys away at school). I am still  young enough and in good shape. Plus I love being outside!  And the boys-both grown-know what to do. In years past, we made them get out there and take care of those areas that needed to be cleared. They naturally gravitate to the work-such a good thing for me and for them.

Round one is now done. We are expecting more snow until at least 1 am tomorrow. Wilson, my youngest son’s best friend, had fun clearing out his spot. He got word that #2 son was able to use his long arms as a human wiper (my boy is HUGE!) so he figured his whole body was the equivalent! My oldest caught the photos with my phone. (The first 2 through a window screen.)

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The boys are upstairs bonding over a Top Gear  special.  I am writing and pondering a hot shower and perhaps a bit of work on the scrapbook project that I want to complete before I get married and move.  I remember this is my last winter here and take it all in.

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I count my blessings even as these hours zoom by and the weather forces us to stay put. We have heat, food and each other.

 

A New Take on Being a Bold Woman

Credit: www.pinterest.com

(with Thanks to Emily who sent it to me!)

I love new perspectives and interpretations on ancient stories. Specifically the ones you may hear in a house of worship. Two Sundays ago we heard the story of the three kings and their visit to Bethlehem. These astrologers believed in the messages from the heavens and the story goes that they followed one particular star all the way to the birthplace of Jesus. Their journey was loosely reenacted during a portion of the service with the ‘kings’ passing paper stars out to us. Each of these had a word on the back  and were selected at random; we didn’t know what we got until after we picked a star. Our task was to keep this word with us for the rest of the year and look for moments when we may need it or even use it.

My word was ‘boldness’.  For those who know and love me it’s a word that suits me and one that may not stretch or make me uncomfortable in any way (like a pastor receiving  the word “faith”).  I am a woman who is never afraid to stand up for herself-the strong feminine and feminist figure forthright in the face of unfairness and injustice. Yep. That’s me!

So this word, this word. What am I to do with it?  How will I use it in a new way? Am I already doing it?

Since the publication and reblog of my post On Being a Bold Woman, I decided to contemplate and maybe redefine (at least for me) what it means to be bold. Now, I know the year is young but it doesn’t hurt to at least begin to examine alternate avenues of how it can help me as I move forward into a new life in June.

Shortly after receiving this word, Steve (a fellow parishioner) stated that he felt that it took great courage to up and move myself to a whole new place especially after spending my entire life in this region (now that would be nearly 54 years!). Yeah, yeah. True. True. I am heart and soul a New England girl.  Give me hills, mountains nearby, the brisk Atlantic waters and the big white church in the center of town. A place where practically everyone knows your name. There is a lot to be said for that feeling. I will miss all of it.

 But there comes a time in your life where you have to shake things up. Make a change just for yourself. Small town life can be stifling at times. And things happen where you could feel like a stranger in your own neighborhood. Signals for a change for sure.

Moreover, I spent years needing to be outwardly bold -what with standing up to my ex-husband who attempted to leave me destitute and without shelter. Who, at every turn neglected his financial and emotional responsibilities as a father. Yeah, yeah he is a broken man but he needs to help himself now. No longer my problem. I purposefully carved out a new life for myself and my sons throughout it all. It was not easy and at times truly sucked. But here we are!! The life that was created simply planted the seeds for new growth for each of us.

Maybe this new boldness is a sleeping giant. The big steps may not need to be taken quite yet. In the meantime, perhaps I can rest. Conserve my energy as I prepare to venture into the next wild phase of my life ( oh yes, I do expect it to be!).  In so doing, perhaps I can reshape my definition of a bold woman. In fact, I have already begun.

Ready?

A bold woman does the best she can.

A bold woman asks for help.  She knows not EVERYTHING can be done alone.

A bold woman keeps it simple. She does not create or allow for drama in her life.

A bold woman lets things unfold. She is wise enough not to maintain control all the time.

A bold woman rids herself of unnecessary things. She creates wide open spaces and room to breath.

A bold woman does not engage in negative thinking.  She knows it weighs her down.

A bold woman keeps moving forward even when obstacles are placed in her path. She stays strong.

A bold woman stays present. She knows each moment is precious and rich with positive potential.

A bold woman always offers up to the Universe her highest wishes for the best possible outcome. In doing so, she dreams BIG!

 

So dear readers, what do you think?

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.

 

 

Untying the Knots

 

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A season unfolding

Held close this year

Remembrances of loved ones newly and long gone

Thoughts turn to those here

Present

But some not quite

Some whose path is lonely

Fraught with regret

Some where Darkness

sheds light on the coulda shoulda

as the year’s end draws near

 Yet how much is their own doing?

Their focus on what they didn’t get or don’t have?

Another year another reprise of not fixing their own brokeness

Not delving deep within

‘Tis the time when light is hard to find

It is but a pin prick 

in the deep dark corner of your soul

Awaiting its unraveling

A beacon of self love

and hope

and faith

and your own Amazing Grace

Wrapped in a Black Bow

Credit: www.idolbin.com

Today I gave myself a gift. It’s wrapped not so neatly in a word document for now. I’ll unveil it after the new year and I’ll share it with my therapist but no one else. It’s a letter to my ex-one that will never be sent; yet one that needed to be written. One last bit of closure. A chance to shut the final door on the house of shame that I once lived in.

It’s funny how the past reveals itself in unexpected places within our hearts. I understand that it is a normal process when undergoing an enormous life change. (I’m getting married in six months and moving to a new house for those who are new to my site.) It is important to examine these nuggets, these itches that don’t seem satisfied with just a mere surface scratch.

Sometimes I do wonder if I will be permanently scarred by the emotional and verbal abuse that plagued my first marriage. I no longer consider myself a victim nor do I present as one. I am a survivor, I think. Although that seems like such a heavy and misapplied term given that there are worse things that humans have endured compared to my experience. I mean, really, I have an amazing and very happy life now. I don’t wallow in past hurts. I’ve gone through all the stages that victims of abuse pass through on the path to healing. I’ve been lucky enough to have been in therapy two years before the marriage ended; I had acquired the basic tools for surviving the dismantling and its endless aftermaths.

Maybe I am more of a karmic avenger for others who themselves have been or are currently in a similar situation. Because I have lived in my community for nearly twenty-six years, many, many people have seen my transformation. Some have needed an ear, a shoulder to cry on, or words of wisdom to help them through their journey. (And for those of you in blogland, it has always been my sincere wish that this space serves the same purpose through my posts.) When you’ve been there, done that and crossed to the other side, people seek you out. They see it. They sense it in the way you carry yourself. They want some of that! And why not?

It takes supreme psychic bravery to free yourself and move forward out of an unhealthy relationship. The hard work of healing can take you down roads that are often dark and full of pitfalls. It is at times very uncomfortable. Sometimes you find yourself on a temporary detour when you least expect it. (Like me, this month).  Most of all, it takes time, lots of time.

Are you ready to receive the best gift of all?

What About Forgiveness?

Credit: sufiuniversity.org

I’ve been thinking a lot about the concept of forgiveness lately. I’m not sure I fully understand what it means or maybe I am on a journey towards getting a grip on the whole idea. I am sure that I have practiced it. And I am equally certain that I have been forgiven by others.

I have heard time and again of the importance of forgiveness as it frees you up to let go and move on. But I’m not quite in agreement with that advice.  We are told if we don’t forgive that we are holding onto a grudge or anger or allowing ourselves to continue to be a victim. No, no, no!

Forgiveness is a weighty matter and depends upon the circumstances of another’s transgressions.  It is equally dependent on whether the other party has sought to make amends, take responsibility for the pain caused to the aggrieved party or practice redemptive actions.

If someone has not actively done any of that, how can we really forgive? We can accept what has happened to us, grieve and live the pain for a bit and move on to a new and perhaps (if we are lucky) an even better life. I believe acceptance of what happened to us is not passive in nature at all. My current life is living proof of this fact as many of you who have been following me well know.

Here’s what I can do.  I can compliment my former spouse for making two good decisions in his life: marrying me and divorcing me.  Because he married me, I received two gifts that will last a lifetime and beyond: my sons. They are living proof of two decent human beings who understand life’s purpose and bring joy and steadfast love to their world.  Moreover, because he divorced me, I received a second chance at a better life. Everything that has happened to me, the experiences, the people, the places I have seen and the joy I have known would NEVER have occurred if he did not choose to go. Both my sons and I would have missed out on the riches that all these things have brought to our lives. Imagine that!

So here is what I can forgive: his inability to fundamentally commit to family life. The man just does not have the capacity because of his family of origin’s extreme dysfunction. His original wound has not healed. I have genuine sympathy for that young man who suffered because of one parent’s indiscretions. At the beginning of our life together, neither one of us would know the degree to which this informed our marriage. Over time it increasingly held me hostage and spilled over until it took the form of neglect as well as emotional and verbal abuse.

And that is what I cannot forgive yet.  Do I expect an apology? An acknowledgement?  Maybe. Or perhaps if I saw glimmers of hope in his relationship with our sons I could take that step. So far not so good.

In the meantime, I continue to live out loud. A free woman. Let loose from the chains of harsh criticism and passive aggressive behaviors. Walking lightly-some say floating- on this good earth.

 

Renewed Liberation

 

Haunting Thoughts…

Ruminations and Deliberations …

Affirmations of His Implosion 

His Dearth of Self-Examination 

And Unending Needs for External Gratification

Just  a Twisted Quest for Self Satisfaction

A Mere Existence

Never Present

My Fertile Heart

Unearthed

Revealed

A Treasure for Mine and Another’s own Good Keeping

My Soul once Secluded

Pummeled into Submission and Secrecy

Sings without Restraints and Restrictions

My Mind once Sculpted So as to Please

Unselfishly Speaks for Itself

 A Voice Resonating and Resounding

My Body Once Picked Apart

Used and Discarded

Now  a Scrumptious Delight in the Tender Hands of Another

Where once My Very Being was at Stake

Torn Asunder by the Winds of His Words

I Reemerge Retooled

One Righteous Babe

Ready for Reckoning

 

 

Holding On and Letting Go

Credit: background-pictures.picphotos.net

I washed my hair in the kitchen sink as soon as I got home from work.  I had nowhere to be so it wasn’t for appearances sake; I simply couldn’t stand the look of myself. Taking a shower was too much work, what with taking my clothes off and all. I simply wanted to feel refreshed and cleansed without the effort.

Afterwards, I immediately felt more beautiful. There’s been no one home to affirm this, but that is not the point. I just needed to be more comfortable for myself.

I think the weight of my bad hair day was a metaphor for my state of being this week. The roller coaster of inner emotions, simmering thoughts and reminders of past hurts and anger showed up in my tresses!

I have been told that this is all part of the grieving process and of letting go- especially the part about being angry. So what to do, what to do.  Not much action is necessary, I think. I’ll sit with it for a while, but not wallow in it. I’ll stay quiet. Offer it up to the universe. And breath in. Breathe out.

Cranking It Up a Notch

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Credit: www.its-not-about-the-hike.com

“Because in the end, you won’t remember the time you spent working in the office or mowing your lawn. Climb that goddamn mountain.”

                                                       ~Jack Kerouac

Is there such a thing as a hiker’s hangover? Possible proof of this phenomenon revealed itself this morning-the day after a grueling, not quite miserable climb on Sunday morning. Physical exhaustion and its accompanying aches tempered my usual enthusiasm for greeting a brand new day this work day Monday!

The window for hiking before the snow flies in the mountains is closing fast. Having reached our goal of  climbing Mt. Lafayette, the plan for the remainder of the season was to enjoy smaller elevations that afforded good views and the fundamental satisfaction of playing in the great outdoors.

Welch and Dickey Mountains (elevations ~2600′ and 2700′ respectively) in the Waterville Valley is a loop hike that seemed to meet the criteria for my son and I. We headed up for a half-day adventure with his closest friend, Wilson (not his real name), my pal Emily and her beautiful lab, Blaze. The forecast was for cool temps (50 degrees F) and a possible shower around noon.

As much as I was anticipating the day ahead, I was also functioning on very little sleep. I had gone to bed well after midnight and woke up at 5 am to get ready. (The night before was another adventure story which I will share in my next post!).  I was not going to let a little sleep deprivation get in the way of an “easy” family hike. But my hubris would definitely be a factor in the little known challenges this hike would bring to bear.

The drive off the highway brings us to remote country roads fairly quickly.  This hike is off the beaten path with houses separated by vast acres of green. The smell of heat burning in wood stoves is in the air- a bit damp after some days of rain the previous week. The sky is clouded over, lending itself to a day of low energy. Not many hikers are seen in the lot as we approach the trailhead.  Evidence of late autumn and windy storms is present on the path. Leaves cover the trail’s tree roots and rocks. The pungent odor of their last breaths fills our noses. We arrive at the first of Welch’s ledges quickly.

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Views here were pretty decent despite the partial cloudiness.  The mass of rock was well worn but served as a foreshadowing of what lay ahead.  This mountain and its sibling would prove to be a test for all of us.

Much of the climb involved wide open expanses of granite that sloped to varying degrees depending on the path’s direction. This was fine for a little while and would have been a blast on a sunny day. The previous week’s rain left much of the slab slick and slippery. It didn’t take me too long to start losing my confidence as I attempted to scale the moss covered sections.  I went from 0-8 on the panic scale at one point and just sat down and cried. I was genuinely afraid of falling back and then down the mountain! Blaze came over and licked my face and Emily and Wilson gently talked me out of my anxious state. My son took my hand and walked me further along to a safer point on the trail. He said to me: “This climb is going to be a test of your Strong Woman Syndrome!”  Exactly what I needed to hear!

Credit: nhdfl.org

When we reached what we thought was the summit, it started to rain (no showers as the forecast had stated). We donned our rain gear and plodded further along. My boy said he was glad for the conditions as they served as a test. He was right. We had been spoiled by near perfect weather conditions on all our earlier excursions; I was glad to be prepared but dreading the rest of the hike.  We encountered more moss and lichen covered stones before the final ascent of mountain #1.

I have to say that this became a climb of pure strategy. One or two of the boys would go ahead to check out the best possible way on the route and there were times that bushwacking was the best option.  Other times, I just held my son’s hand as I repeated: “Just keep walking”. Or as Wilson sang: “Just keep swimming, swimming, swimming…” He provided the comic relief for our troupe and gave himself a chance to celebrate the boy that still lives inside him. He was a joy to hike with as we watched him traipse and tramp his way up and down and over and even under obstacles.

Credit: alltrails.com (picture this rain-soaked!)

Now and then we would get a break as the trail traveled through groves of trees.  Rocks still ruled but I was never more grateful for the sight of mud!  I cannot recall reaching the top of Dickey. By then the weather was so poor it was hard to enjoy any sort of celebration. Emily did snap a photo of us somewhere. Our faces a witness of wetness and weariness.

It is important when facing a challenge not to lose one’s sense of humor or inner mental toughness. You’re doomed if you don’t. Plus, you wish away time well spent with others who have your back.

One big surprise came upon us as we were making our way:

Credit:www.flickr.com

This is the saddle between Welch and Dickey on a good day (the dog’s name is Salty). Climbing through this was a load of fun!

We just kept coming upon one big slab surprise after another with each step needing to be purposeful and planned. As one hiker said to me as we were making our way down, “There are no heroes on mountains.”  He is right. Better to be cautious and careful and keep the risks to a minimum!

I guess the hardest part for me was the final set of ledges. Straight on traverse with a clear drop-off.

Credit: Google.com ( I think this is the right one!)

Lots of talking through this one. Emily was right with me; she is an assuring presence on the mountain and in my life.

I have no regrets about the choice of climb this round. Hiking experiences are inherently unpredictable; one has to prepare for the worst and always hope for the best.  And be ready for a challenge regardless of the elevation! For me it is always about the company you keep and the memories you make. That’s what makes the mountains matter.

 

Special thanks to Emily for inspiring the title for this post!

A Stella(r)Story

Credit: www.astrologyforearthrenewal.com

Stella knew for certain that she would never really miss Mick; only the idea of him. She was relieved when his piss stopped showing up on the toilet. He was once a stunner of a man in that rough around the edges sort of way. Compact and short, his presence loomed large whenever he entered a room. She liked his vehement attention at first; his passion for her was electric. Stella was stunned by his voracious appetites and his seemingly unending attention.

Stella wasn’t what you’d call a classic beauty. Kinky ashen curls decorated her cupid-like visage. Petite, with hips that swayed enough to turn heads and breasts that Mick compared to buttercups. He’d come home from work at the pit, shine himself up and lose himself inside her.

The ride was high for years.Two bountiful boys kept them on their toes and further fueled their passion for each other. And like a fast speeding car that encounters one hairpin turn too many, their affair flamed out. Mick’s craving for cards and the accompanying vices soon got the best of him and them.

The arguments and the silences that followed only got more fierce. Money got tight and then nearly nonexistent. He lost himself in the drink now; his once alluring bearing shrunken. He lurked where he once pranced. And then he seemed to just disappear.

Stella rose up. She wasn’t one to snivel nor shrink from a tough situation. Working the lunch crowd gave her a boost; her tips paid the rent and the hard work fueled her rather than leave her wasted. Months went by. The boys grew strong and steady under the tough but loving gaze of their mother. They would not mess around.Their fear of her disappointment outweighing any possible consequences brought by teenage temptations.

She had grown into her own woman. Stella-Bella all the men called her. Each one desperate in their desire for her. But she would have none of it. “Been there. Done that,” she said. Stella was sure that real love would knock on her door eventually.

And in a sheet of downpour on a windy April afternoon, he did. Soaked and battered and need of something warm, Jack slipped out of his drenched jacket and into her life.