Moving from I to We

Image courtesy of: http://greinyphotos.blogspot.com/

Love, having no geography, knows no boundaries, weight and sink it deep, no matter, it will rise to find the surface. ~Truman Capote

Dear Readers: Please read this post I wrote four years ago before reading my latest essay.

Moving from “WE” to “I” 

I am a big fan of the writer Elizabeth Gilbert.The first book of hers I read was the best-selling, Eat, Pray, Love, even though I had heard of her work through other essays and in previous books, particularly The Last American Man. I will confess I have read the former a total of three times -once a year from 2008-2011!  The book came along at just the right time in my life and, although our journey’s were not exactly the same, I could identify with many aspects of the pain and eventual healing Ms. Gilbert had experienced. However, when her next book, Committed came out, I avoided it like the plague! I did not want to think about even entertaining the idea of getting married and I was convinced that if I read it, I would somehow quickly jump back in the game. To affirm this notion, I would routinely drive by a friend’s house (a common route into town) and see her latest man’s truck parked in her driveway. I would physically react each time, unable to fathom even the thought of someone else regularly taking up space on my property or in my bed. I loved my independence; I loved the idea of not having someone to come home to every single day. And even though the boys were settled with me, it never was the same scenario as having a partner in my home.

I watched as other women and men I knew go through separations and divorces. Some became unmoored in their new status. Getting through the day -or dare I say- the year, was just about all they could handle. Others seemed to relish in being single and were perpetually dating, often finding themselves in troubled or serial relationships.(All this in a small town-very surreal.) I was grateful to be both independent and in a relationship that provided me with the safe distance we both needed.

Life continued. I faced the good, the bad and the ugly and grew to cherish the life I was making. The love I had for my now- husband grew stronger despite the distance and we made the most of our reunions together. Always on the same page when it came to our future, neither one of us felt compelled to marry just yet. But our commitment remained steadfast.

An old friend TB once said “Relationships are like sharks, they must keep moving forward or die.” Living separately at a long distance is unsustainable (never mind expensive) if you want to build a life together. For me, that is what marriage means. Yes, it is a legal contract bound by particular laws. There are benefits to a legal union, like being next of kin in health care decisions for your spouse, for example. However, those laws mostly come into play when the marriage is coming undone. For some, it is a religious contract. Depending on how you view faith, those laws can either serve to fully express your union as equals or repress and oppress at least one of you.

I am at a point in my life where I have let go of the false beliefs of needing a “soul-mate” or in thinking that I need a man to “complete” me. The former is a specious sentiment espoused by popular culture. It leads people into thinking that there is only one person in one lifetime that connects with your true self. We need to release that idea. Instead, how about intimacy? And I am not talking about only sex here. I mean the kind where being naked with someone is more metaphorical. It is that place where only you and he (or he and he or she and she) live and talk and breathe. It is a place where it’s nobody’s business but yours. And frankly, my husband and I do not need to complete one another. Yes, we have a life together, but we also have our own selves and our own inner life. If  you know that and respect that about one another, I believe it can be a healthy, supportive and loving relationship. No need to lose the I and replace it with We; it’s possible to have both.

I have Elizabeth Gilbert to thank for this post. Yes, I finally read Committed, but only in the last week! I felt I only could write this after I read her perspective on marriage the second time around. Again, while our journey’s were not the same, I could identify with the struggle in moving toward it once again. Ironically, I was more ready to read it after I got married! I also recommend The Signature of All Things and Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear.  If you want a compelling saga with a strong female lead character (and then some), read the former. For understanding and embracing your creative self, read the latter.  ‘Magic’ was a Christmas gift from Jenn  (and recommended by Emily) who both serve as loving reminders that my writing is worth doing and pursuing.

 

 

 

Discernment in the Din

Image courtesy of: theconversation.com

The Secret of Change Is to Focus All of Your Energy, Not on Fighting the Old, But on Building the New~ Socrates

When I lived up North I never took the landscape for granted. In times of trouble, the view from my kitchen window or my upstairs bedroom created a soothing escape. Long expanses of green,wide open white, bold colors, or the gong of spring peepers-it didn’t really matter- each season offered a sight for my sore eyes, music for my ears, fresh air for my lungs and a slower beating for my heart. Now I have to work harder to find a quiet spot in the most densely populated area in the state.

I will admit that adjusting to my new physical surroundings has been one of the biggest challenges to living here. Strip mall landscapes replace the trees and swamps -ugly monstrosities offering plenty of nothing. Car dealerships, fast food joints, car washes, big box drug stores, coffee shops and fast food joints all competing with one another for your attention and hard-earned cash. And the signs! Oh the signs! I’ve told my husband that this area must be the only place where both strip clubs and churches use the same flashing neon advertisements. They’re completing distracting, flashy, and in no way enticing in their invitations to “Join us”.

I am unused to this cluttered busyness and heavy traffic stopping and starting along six lane boulevards. Of course, I would be giving a false impression in stating that the New England area lacks crowded highways and clogged main streets during peak travel times. But given where I worked and lived, those areas could easily be avoided and shortcuts were always available. Moreover, a trip to a more urban area or strip mall sprawl was an occasional occurrence.

I fear I will never adjust to the noise and traffic density beyond the walls of my house and its verdant park view. At times, I identify with the Grinch in the scene where he’s holding his ears as he thinks about the “Noise! Noise! Noise! from Whoville on Christmas Day. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UsMlsDgMXJM)

Changing my mindset is the key to changing my attitude. Some of what I am currently experiencing is part of a universal adjustment to a very major life change. For now, I cannot change where I live. So I’ve tweaked my routine. I bookend my daily commute with quality music delivered by a hip local radio station.  My current occupation is located on a bucolic campus where the only sounds I hear are birds and the youthful loquaciousness of students. I get outside whenever possible. I have set goals to explore the local quiet spots and venture beyond my own environs to seek them out.  My husband and recently kayaked through some lush mangroves which offered comforting green tunnels,tranquil waters and a kind of hush that I haven’t experience since I moved here. Simply lovely!

Building a new life takes time. I will continue to miss key parts of living up North-my boys and closest friends, my faith community and the mountains. And when the need has arisen, I make a plan and get on a plane. I’m learning to trust the process and allow my new life to unfold and reveal itself.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the Meantime….

Do you ever notice your shadow when you’re outside on a sunny day? I’ve never paid much attention to it; perhaps because cloudless days are fewer in New England or perhaps because I no longer have that childish wonder at the sight of it. On a run last week, I noticed the full and extra long length of mine and it got me thinking about my current life’s path.

I still remain surprised that I live in a place of palm trees and low lying land. I drive to work as the sun makes it debut (it rises just a bit later on this side of the Gulf) and wonder, “How did I get here?” (A line from the Talking Heads “Once in  a Lifetime” comes to mind https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=98AJUj-qxHI.)

Then I start to think about the  2016 Lenten theme of my faith community up North. “Walk with Me” is the one for this season. Admittedly, I missed the deadline for getting it published in the booklet so I decided this post would be an alternative means to share some thoughts.

I am old enough to know and accept and embrace that life’s path is never straight.  Even if you operate under the illusion of the straight and narrow, sooner or later you wake up to the fact that you actually may be going nowhere. (Again, cue another Talking Heads classic “Road to Nowhere”  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AWtCittJyr0.)

It occurs to me that the precursors to the seismic changes in my life came about on walks with friends or other loved ones. I distinctly recall a question posed by a friend back in 2005: “Are you spiritually hungry?” Realizing that I was in fact in great need of fulfillment, I entered a community that opened my heart, mind and spirit and, in turn, helped my sons gain some safe ground in a time of severe turbulence.

Then I think of the long walks I took with my husband before we were even dating. First, a morning  hike in the woods and later, a longer walk on the beach (the very same one we were to be married on years later!). Intense, open and honest conversations took place that day in late 2008. Our lives were never the same after that time together; we began a journey that overcame distance and trying times in our independent lives.

A steadfast and true walking companion will always be Emily. My heart warms at the memories of Sunday afternoon ambles in the bird sanctuary with her dog Blaze. These trips were never wholly planned; usually a text or call to drop whatever and go. Things were shifting both in small and large ways during those times. Mother Nature allowed for openings in the clouded spaces of our thoughts and worries.

Surely, I would be remiss if I did not speak of those wondrous mountain hikes with my youngest son (joined on occasion by Emily and older brother). I have written about all of them in previous posts but in looking back, I believe they were symbolic of a relationship that had come full circle. The rough patches were behind us; we could manage the toughest and steepest paths knowing the reward was waiting for us at the summit.

Still, there was something larger at play, I think. A force or spirit or a higher power that reminded us to stay present because it was present. The moments became richer and sweeter as a result.

So here in this new place and space, I bring my full self. Each day is different; I feel as if I am in a tremendous labyrinth with many paths I can follow. So I do. I remain open to new possibilities along the way, knowing my journey and my destination are one and the same.

Between Certainty and Doubt

Credit:www.liveluvcreate.com

Standing at the window she looked out at his car backing out of the drive

and wondered what she was saving her feelings for

She nearly said “I love you” the night before

He was clearly waiting for her confession

She couldn’t keep up

Her heart had been closed off for so long

She had forgotten the rules

Of course she loved him 

But the words dried up in her mouth before they could escape into the air

This affair was no practice session for the next one

She knew it in her gut and he did too

The angst and agony and the suffering

that comes with the human condition

pulled her away from the edge

of the one great leap into the blissful abyss

Would her fear of making him feel better

somehow be a loss that would make her feel worse?

 

Day 29. In the process of digging through an old trunk, I came across a yellowed piece of paper in my twenty-something handwriting.  Some anonymous long quote about the risks of loving another. I held onto it and this is the result.

Ever-Changing Groove

Credit: udomag.com

Moving in forward motion

Aware of time passing

Living in a continuum of small moments

A flow unfolding

Releasing cascading energy

The past perfectly placed

              Purged

Tapping on my shoulder

               No more

Never whispering in my ear

                 Or 

Causing my stomach to lurch

                 And

My heart to palpitate

Approaching future is on the edge of palpable

Controls in the hands of the unknown

 

 

Day 18.  The inspiration for this one came from Suzanne over at Arts and Fiction (http://artifactsandfictions.com) Check out her post:

                        Seeking wisdom

 

Home

Credit: www.nickischroeder.com

Sometimes I want to retreat into that quiet

The space between the noise and the chaos

Abandon the trivial

Embrace the meaningful

The world whirls around me

And I stand in its eye

I want to leave the misery

and embrace only the joy 

I want to sit in the early morning quiet

and listen as the earth wakes up 

I want to hold close my loved ones

and soak in the ordinary moments

that give life to extraordinary memories

Small pieces of  smiles

and laughter

loving tears and deep embraces

 

Day 16. Late, way past my bedtime. A lovely night at home with family. Enjoyed a delightful dinner with a bit of spirits. These are the days I will always remember.

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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Skin to Skin

 

Credit: en.wikipedia.org

When he first held her she was all skin and bones

Rail thin

Emaciated

Drawn looking with hollowed cheeks

He held her gently for fear she might break

She seemed as delicate as bone china

Seeds of romance were planted

Enriched in the soil born from gracious tending

Seedlings took root

Then were transplanted

Growing stronger with every lustful union

He wrapped her in white downy covers

Cocooning her and feeding her with the sweetness of his love

She began to bloom

A lustrous buttercup flower

Rounder

Displaying curves and small handfuls of flesh

She’s bursting

A luscious garden

Born again

Sown from seeds of love

 

Day 11. Inspired by one word: fleshy

Before I Go

Credit: www.wallallies.com

My oldest asked me to write an Easter story just as the April poetry challenge got underway. I reminded him that I did write one two years ago (Traditional Non-Traditions , a worthy read for background).  I guess he wanted a fresh take on a not-so-old tale. But in keeping with the spirit of this month, I am also inserting a poem:

                                      Before I go, can we see one more show?

                                      Before I leave, can you tell me you still believe?

                                       Before I’m gone, can we see another dawn?

                                        Before I go, can we find another road to hoe?

                                     Before I leave, can we find more mountains to achieve?

                                         Before I’m gone, will you let me ramble on?

I guess our Easter story is a kind of resurrection. It seems so long ago that our family life fell apart. For a while there, it seemed the three of us were torn asunder. Separated from each other and even our own selves. Perseverance, determination, along with letting go and the gift of time (which does heal) gave birth to a new incarnation. A strong trio-thick as thieves- settled in and grew up together. We spent time in the wilderness, pondered our fate and learned who our true friends were. Our new life enriched us, and like all good things, allowed for more treasure and more joy.

And now we are all ready for a newer, fresher start. When spring is done and summer has just begun, we’ll go on to new lives, knowing full well that yes indeed we have risen!

 

 

 

 

 

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?