anxiety, discretion, friendship, inspiration, life lessons, love, mindfulness

What’s Love Got To Do With It? A lot

I want to thank Bill who writes the blog drbillwooten.com  for posting a quote this morning which has been echoing in my head –

“In the life of each of us…there is a place remote and islanded, and given to endless regret or secret happiness.  Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside wakes.” — C.E. Jung

Let me qualify this, before you leap to the notion that I’m advocating a narcissistic approach to life, centered totally on yourself with no consideration given to anyone or anything else.  Back it up my friend – let’s slow down and just take a little stroll, ok?  There is little risk that any of those who read this are on the cusp of world domination, figuratively speaking (if for some reason you are on the literal cusp of world domination,  I think it’s best I don’t know – just remember to please be kind when you assume global power).

I worry about my friends and family the way my Sirs can worry a bone.  Archie can spend hours considering a new bone from every angle, holding it tightly in his paws, refusing to consider a walk outside or a diversion of any kind.  I get it.  And so today I’m writing to all of you who have been on my mind – I love you, but I also need to get some sleep.

You are so incredibly worthy and deserving of all the happiness that you seek.  And you’re going to find it.  I wish I could tell you that it’s located on aisle six of the supermarket, next to the shaving cream.  On sale with no coupon needed.  The good news is that the cost isn’t prohibitive. The less-than-good-news is that it’s where we seldom choose to look.  Step inside yourself for a minute.  What do you see?  My hunch is that you see a lot of what you don’t want to look at.  So, we shut that door and look outside.  And our lives become “if..then” statements. ‘If this person loves me, then I will be happy.’  ‘If I could just get her to do ‘x’, then all would be good’.  ‘If I get this promotion, then I’ll be set’.  And – what if none of that happens?  We push that away.  Don’t want to think about it, because we’ve already set the level of expectation.

But where do you come into play?  If you spoke to yourself as you would your best friend, looked in the mirror through the eyes of one who loves and cherishes you, gave yourself permission to love yourself with the same passionate devotion with which you approach others – what would you do today?  How would you take care of you?  Would you let someone you love waste one moment of his/her time on sorrow that is avoidable?  Would you ever let someone you adore, cede control of his/her sense of self to anyone?  You wouldn’t of course – that’s what makes you such a fantastic friend.  Perhaps to everyone except yourself.

I’ve gotten myself so lost at times that it’s taken me years to get back to someone I recognize.  It happens.  And finding that I detoured and went so far off course that I couldn’t even figure out my true location is not a foreign exercise to me.  I’m still learning to give myself a break, nurture the little kid in me, still the voices in my head that continue to insist that they know what I should be doing, when arguably they no longer really know me at all.  I look in the mirror and some days I can’t stand what I see.  And I have a very strong able-bodied imp that jumps up and down every time I try to give myself an ‘atta girl’.

But – and it’s a big but – I know if I listen for too long, I will go down a path I would rather not travel.  I want to love this life enough to feel joy with who I am – choosing to sit here at the round table, with the sun on my back, jazz playing softly in the background, writing to you.  I choose to travel inside every once in a while to see how I’m treating myself, and to remember that I’m more ok than I probably think I am.  And more importantly, I can’t dismiss my own neurotic idiosyncracies by focusing on everyone and everything except them.  They’re as much a part of me as any wonderful qualities I may possess.  So be it.  I’ve gotta expend a little emotional energy on me.  That’s what my best friend would tell me.

My best friend would remind me that in her eyes, I’m wonderful and worthy and important. A best friend would not let me put the onus of my happiness on anyone’s shoulders and would urge me to get happy with me first.  Because a friend loves like that.  Can you be your own best friend for a little while?  Take that tentative walk inside and find all the wonder that is there and try to make peace with what is not – and still love you like crazy?

That is my wish for today – that you see yourself as I do.  That you embrace your magical, wonderful, generous, funny, lovable, silly, serious, slightly nutty, ridiculously talented self as I would if you were here.

anxiety, friendship, humor, life lessons

My Fingers Are At War With My Brain

I am writing this from my new laptop – a MacBook.  Lovely little piece of equipment – I have named her Lucy (as in “Lucy, I’m h-o-m-e”) with the hopes that we will enter into a long-term relationship of mutual respect and understanding.

We have a long way to go.

First of all, I’ve always been a ThinkPad person.  All my earlier relationships have been with its different iterations.  I knew what it was going to do before it did it – not needing to look at the keyboard, understanding the nuances of its prompts, able to keep multiple conversations ongoing without any need to cajole, plead or praise excessively.  We knew each other.  My files, saved pictures, ideas for future posts, etc resided in ‘my places’.  We made space for each other and dare I say it, had that kind of intimate knowledge of each other reserved for only the closest of friends.

However, my ThinkPad was beginning to resist my ‘Good Morning’, refusing to awake until I re-booted multiple times.  It was beginning to bristle at my demands and would arbitrarily just shut down while we were still talking (so to speak).  It was becoming clear to me that we were tiring of each other – and we hammered out the details of our cyber-divorce.  Right  now she is upstairs, happily sleeping on a bookcase, thrilled to be rid of my furious banging and rants that I always directed at the screen.

Lucy is a laptop with a mind of her own – which I respect.  I like independent thinkers.  But she’s not even trying to be a pal.  I can’t find the delete key (on this keyboard, ‘delete’ is really ‘backspace’), different applications keep bouncing up and down seeking my attention and don’t even ask me where my files are (though I know they’re here somewhere – I think this is a little passive-aggressive, but let’s not go there).  To  move the cursor down, I have to move my finger up on the mouse. It took me twenty minutes this morning just to figure out how to get the power cord extender to work.  Clearly we are going to have to take this relationship very slowly.  In fact, I am going to take her to a relationship specialist at Apple on Thursday – we have got to work on how we communicate with each other.  Right now I’m making all the concessions in the name of maintaining a happy transition.  She’s not doing a damn thing except sitting here pointing out my spelling mistakes and frankly, digging in her heels about what she will and will not do.  Everyone insists how intuitive these MacBooks are – all I have to say to that is ‘ha’!  She’s intuitive alright – she knows just how to make me feel like a nimnut.

I will rise to her challenge though – I am determined to make her my good friend, whether or not this is a relationship she would like to see move forward.  We are going to learn how to talk with each other, remain open and available and delight in our journey.  I will keep her clean and shiny and promise not to dribble coffee on her keys.  She will show me where she has hidden my pictures, quotes, secrets and bad jokes that I never can remember.  This is going to be a union made in techno-heaven.  We are going to love each other with devotion.  We will dammit. But first I need to find an instruction manual.

anxiety, discretion, friendship, humor, life lessons, love, mindfulness

Over-thinking And Missing The Point

See High Above – Marlena Morling

You step outside

into the early morning

in autumn –

 

And at the exact same instant

a scrap of paper

floats over –

 

High in the blue

blustery library

of the air –

 

You look up

and you see it rushing

and lifting

 

even higher

into the transparent layers

of the sky –

 

And at once,

you know

it is a message –

 

A message

that there is no message.

The scrap of paper

 

is just a scrap of paper!

It is weightless

and free

 

The world is just

the world –

And you are exactly

 

who you are –

Also floating now

high inside

 

The invisible

balloon of

another moment.

What if we could just let it go?  Give ourselves the grace of not second-guessing, seeking the ever-deeper answer, reflecting on our belly buttons until we can no longer remember why we got so engrossed in the first place (hint – there’s nothing going on worthy of self scrutiny of your navel)?  What if we took the worry du moment and greeted it, acknowledged it for what it is and then remember that whether or not we hold it, its resolution will come?  How would our day unfold if we wrote our sorrows on bits of paper and cast them into the wind – for whether we clutch them with tight fist or hold them loosely or let them go – the only thing that will change is the cramp in our fingers?

I hold onto things for too, too long.  I carry them with me as if they are some unique treasure that must be coddled and cared for, when realistically they have little long term value.  The typical takeaway for me is that I shouldn’t have wasted so much emotional energy.  ‘Lesson learned for next time’, I tell myself.  And this little voice in my ear laughs and wonders who I’m kidding.  The truth is, that which should be held onto for that extra moment longer are often the things we miss as we’re moving on – a hug that transmits love, a conversation with a friend who just needs you to be one, a tumbler of Grand Marnier in front of a fire (or hot chocolate with marshmallows – and you have to get to the marshmallows at the perfect in-between-time when they’ve melted but are still formed).

Why is it that every time – every time I look up at the sky and ask “Please?” and say “Thank you” (which I do often enough in a day that I probably am developing a reputation in the neighborhood as the lady with the dogs who walks around talking to the sky), I am lighter?  And if we know that our most peaceful moments come when we let go, do we insist that each time we don’t, we’re justified for doing so?   I swear to you I have some thoughts on this – and I know you do too.  In the interest of perpetuating my adapted version of National Listening Day, I’d rather hear why you hold on so tight, when we could instead release such encumbrances?  What do you think?  Anyone feel like letting go of the string?

discretion, friendship, inspiration, life lessons, love, mindfulness

Here’s An Idea

According to NPR, the day after Thanksgiving is the National Day Of Listening.  The concept stems from their highly successful StoryCorps Program, and the theory is that the most important way to honor someone is to listen to him/her.  To hear a story with full attention, so intent that you could integrate it into a memory worth saving.  Listening with your mind free of anticipated responses, shopping lists, wandering thoughts – can you quantify the value of such a gift?  Can you imagine how much it would be appreciated?

Ask someone to tell you a story.  If you are indulging in some quiet after the deluge of family and friends, listen to the silence.  It too has a tale to tell.  Our stories matter, they are our perspectives of personal history and seminal moments,  unfettered joy and unhealed wounds.  They define us far more than adjectives.  They shape us far more than any exercise regimen (which is not a knock on exercise).  Yet, when was the last time you heard a tale?  And, what would be the story you would tell?

To me, that is where the wonder of this season is – in the giving of one’s heart while lending an ear.  And in being awed by the gift we’re given every time we  listen.  Happy Friday everybody.

 

 

 

discretion, friendship, inspiration, life lessons, love, mindfulness, music, parenting

Home Ec.

“Hem your blessings with thankfulness so they don’t unravel”

Good advice, though I can’t sew.  I can’t even loosely baste a seam.  I failed sewing in the seventh grade, for the teacher didn’t consider it fashion forward to have the armhole of my jumper positioned at the hip.  I didn’t do much better at home economics (yes, they had courses such as this – let’s save the shock and awe for another day, shall we?), though I excelled at pudding.  And passing notes.

Which retrospectively suggests that I had my priorities straight even then – as long as you had good people around you, everything else would follow.  Take care of the ones you love.  Pass the notes, hold the secret, righteously defend (“Mimi would be an exemplary student if she were a bit less social”).  Ah well.  It is with this limited skill set that I have built my house.  Ultimately I bought the drapes and learned how to cook.  And though no one would mistake me for Martha Stewart, I’d say this is a pretty awesome home.  People curl up when they get here, they nestle in.  Shoes come off, defenses are shed, talk is uncensored, silence is religious.  There is nothing more transcendent than this.

Our Thanksgiving plans got derailed by my little surgery a few days back and we’re staying here instead of heading up to New Jersey.  The kids will be with their in-laws.  And as much as I will miss the noise, the laughter, the hugs – I am fortunate enough to have all this love around me every day.  The air is filled with “I love you’s”,  each room holds secrets told in whispers that repeat as favorite lyrics co-written once upon a time, and there is comfort in the sighs of the couch as I settle in to listen to the stories of home.  When I feel the sun on my back and I find magic in this very moment, I know that my bounty is as massive as my gratitude.

So as many of you head points north, east, west or south – travel safe.  Eat a lot, laugh more, grab a nap.  Take a walk, give out hugs.  Share your love.   Enfold these moments in your heart, for they will become the most gorgeous aspects of your home.  They become the most treasured parts of you.

anxiety, discretion, friendship, humor, inspiration, life lessons, love, mindfulness, music

When There Are No Answers

“There are years that ask questions and years that answer.” — Zora Neale Hurston

It really is a little frustrating to consider how long it’s taking to get back into my groove.  I’m still crazy tired,  remain in stitches (though I’m not laughing), swollen, sore and without the energy to even consider where my get-up-and-go has relocated.  I know it hasn’t even been a week.  I’m petulant.  I don’t care.  This place I’m sitting in feels like really thick  pea soup and I don’t even like pea soup.  At about this point in my kvetching  I begin to talk to myself (needless to say the tone is harsh and very imperious – you don’t argue with a voice like that).  In effect she says, “Will you just knock it the hell off?  So what?  You’re uncomfortable?  Get in line and in the interim, puleeze shut up.”  And I do.

In the span of time that I have assumed the position of a lump, so much has been happening around me that perhaps my absence of movement is by universal design.  Someone’s heart is aching with the uncertainty that comes with self-doubt and fear of loss;  another prepares for a familial re-arrangement that will demand her energy and facility with the emotional bob-and-weave.  One friend works to rebuild her family’s factory post-Sandy, ending each day more exhausted and spent than the day before,  knowing full well that tomorrow the day begins again.  And another story is beginning as an amazing soul works to establish herself in a new position which combines her tremendous talent with her equally impressive sense of aesthetic.  I see a person I care about being forced to consider new employment for reasons which make an ethical retired HR exec break out in hives.  No one is curled up on the couch right now, covered up in the deliciously soft and worn blanket with the embroidered words “just be”.

My friends are caught in various stages of the years that pose the queries.  Some perhaps are closer to answers than others.  And if there is one thing that we all share it is the need to embrace the times when we just don’t know, when the answers are elusive (perhaps because we’re asking the wrong questions),  and the only option available is to keep asking.  Keep being uncomfortable.  Wonder, doubt, assert, withdraw, huddle, hide – and ask.  Now is not the time to stop asking, for closure without answers that feel good in your skin,  is no closure at all.  Learning to love the questions is a little like learning to love being out of balance.  Out of balance means that you can grab for something to keep you from falling without having to hold onto it forever.  Out of balance means that you see the world with the perception needed to focus on one thing – and perhaps seeing it with the most exquisite clarity.  Out of balance means that you are exercising the emotional muscles that have to be toned to keep you upright, albeit shakily.  Love the  questions as much as you seek the answers.  They must be posed – this is their time.

I too am asking questions all the time — from the mundane (why can’t they just find out what is taking up real estate in my jaw) to the more complicated (what is my next dance step?  what music feels right?  what am I waiting for?).  This is the time and I am not shying away from the exercise.  Yes, it makes my heart beat faster, tears fall with a little less censorship and sometimes I’m sure that I am jumping out of my skin.  And then I focus on an enormous blue jay holding a twig of crepe myrtle in its mouth, knowing with certainty he’s off to build a future.  Aren’t we all?

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anxiety, discretion, friendship, humor, inspiration, life lessons, love, mindfulness

That Space In Between

Home from the hospital – sore, swollen, fat jaw, bruised eye.  You should see the other guy.  Seriously, he looks great because I was asleep during my limited introduction to the doctor’s graceful hands and exacting instruments.   To add insult to injury, I think I even shook his hand before the procedure began.  Of course, I befriended the nurses, anesthesiologist, anesthesiologist’s assistant, nurse’s aide, phlebotomist and the volunteer who checked me in.  My interest is genuine and it also hedges my bets.  To like me is to help me if I need it and I really try to be a likable kind of patient.  Because mostly all I seek is a smile, a little reassurance and a cup of coffee.

I woke up with my heart pounding in my ears – “You’re awake!  You’re alive”  I silently repeated my name and address,  the names of family members, all the dogs we’ve had in proper order.  Wiggled my toes, fingers, nose – all present and accounted for.  Kelly the red-haired nurse who got engaged two weeks ago and is trying to plan a Christmas wedding because she’s also two seconds pregnant, brought me some ginger ale.  Ah, the art of sucking soda through a straw with a fat jaw is a challenge.  Half of the soda stains my hospital gown, the rest manages to make it down my throat.  “Where’s your pain level Mimi?”  About six, I gesture with my fingers.  “Do you want me to give you something for the pain”  Nope – just want to go home and put my head on my pillow.  Someone give Andy permission to get me home.

The reality is that with a circle of angels and a firm belief that there is a God, I got home pretty damn quickly.  And now that I’ve got nowhere I have to be, I will settle in and calm down, spend a bit more time soothing the voices in my head that tend to repeat stressful moments over and over – and over.  The whole thing took far longer than originally planned, for they removed two nodes instead of one.  But it’s all good – between the slices sent to microbiology and the samples to pathology perhaps we’ll know exactly what these interlopers are made of and how we can kick them out of their residences. Hey, maybe there’s a poem about neoplasm in here!   I hesitate to write too much because I still have a lot of meds in my system.  True story – after one of my spinal fusions, I received a call from work with news about a fantastic year-end merit bonus I had received.  Good manners being important to me, I immediately sent off an email to the Chair and the Vice Chair thanking them profusely for such largesse.  A few days later when I was corpus mentos, I read the sent email and it looked in part  like this –  “Thank you so much – I amrealyslpeesed…”  Was I horrified?  Yup – and when I called them they each laughingly assured me they were archiving the messages as a sample of when my writing ability eluded me.  Nice guys.  But I learned the valuable lesson that it is better sometimes to defer your communications until you are able.  In fact, there should be a warning label on medication which says “don’t drive or operate heavy machinery and if you feel inclined to write something, move away from the keyboard and whatever you do, don’t hit ‘send'”.

So before I make a WordPress fool of myself (wouldn’t be the first time, though it may be the first time it was unintended), I’m going to sign off.  Thank you for your prayers, your smiles, your sunshine, your teasing.  Thank you for your good wishes, better friendships and outstanding support.  Thank you for grinning if you find this sounds a little un-Mimi like and still read it all the way through.  And when I can lift a glass of something less benign than ginger ale, I will raise a glass to you.

 

Uncategorized

Something in here for me to remember on a daily basis – how about you?

Dr Bill Wooten

“Life isn’t about keeping score.
It’s not about how many friends you have
Or how accepted you are.
Not about if you have plans this weekend or if you’re alone.
It isn’t about who you’re dating,
who you used to date,
how many people you’ve dated,
or if you haven’t been with anyone at all.
It isn’t about who you have kissed,
It’s not about sex.
It isn’t about who your family is or how much money they have
or what kind of car you drive.
or where you are sent to school.
It’s not about how beautiful or ugly you are
or what clothes you wear,
what shoes you have on,
or what kind of music you listen to.
It’s not about if your hair is blonde, red, black, or brown
or if your skin is too light or too dark.
Not about what grades you get,
how smart…

View original post 199 more words

discretion, friendship, humor, life lessons

At The Risk Of Being Redundant, May I Repeat Myself?

No one living in the States has been able to avoid the news of General Petraeus’ resignation upon the discovery of an affair with his biographer, Paula Broadwell.  This isn’t a post about the implications of his decision, issues of cyber-security and/or who will succeed him at the CIA.

The press and pundits keep referring to this dalliance as ‘an extra-marital affair’.  Isn’t that redundant?  If a person is married and is having an affair, by definition isn’t it ‘extra-marital’?  And typically the reaction to the idea of something being ‘extra’ is usually positive.  “Extra-strength”, “extra-special”, ‘extra-ordinary”.  And from where I sit in this instance “extra-aneous”.  We got it the first time.

This reminds me a little bit of poorly written street signs.  “Caution children at play” – what are we supposed to be warning them about?  “Deer crossing” – who knew deer could read and were limited to crossing roads at appointed places?  Is a “quiet car’ on a train really silent?  I’ve yet to sit in one – snoring is a noise, keys tapping on a keyboard, requests for soda…all emit sounds.  I’m sure you’ve got examples of your own – which I’d love to hear.  I particularly wonder about signs that say “blind person crossing” – how the heck can they see that?   Don’t you think it would behoove us just to keep our eyes out for someone who may have visual limitations?

I wonder if that’s why there are so many possums born dead in the middle of the road.  There are no signs for them.

Somehow though, the idea of duplicative language seems particularly hurtful when it comes to the actions people take outside their marriage.  Just say ‘affair’ and let it go.  It hurts enough – we all get that whatever happened,  occurred outside the marital construct.  I’ve come up with some other messages that would elicit more explicit reactions and understandings. “Smile” – the here and now is pretty good”; Give people the better side of yourself and see what happens”; “Children – if you’re playing, be careful of the monkey bars and stay away from the street”;  “Deer – cross wherever the heck you want, but look out for cars”.  Let’s keep them easy and clear and to the point.  Oops, I guess that was iterative.  I guess this is something we all have to work on.  And I leave you with this one which I think is priceless..

 

 

friendship, humor, love

More Chairs At The Round Table

Well the Sirs have their cousins visiting for the next few weeks.  We had a meeting the other day to talk about how they were to host their guests..As you can see, they were being quite attentive, if not revealing their enthusiasm about expanding the neighborhood reach that two new members may afford.  It was early.

Part of the Knights’ code involves graciousness and impeccable manners to all who enter their kingdom.  The arrival of Sirs Harpo and Otis of Manhattan, NY proved no exception.  There was a lot of “Hail fellow, well met”, sniffing of armor (so to speak) and conversation about news from the North.  Harpo is the most venerated of the Sirs, lively yet weary of child-like folly at the age of fourteen.  Otis on the other hand is eight going on two.  With no disrespect intended, this is not a gathering of the canine equivalent of Mensa.  But each is of grand heart and cheer, so all else can be forgiven.  After all, there are few national security issues taking place here, and most certainly no lands left to conquer (although Maid Molly the Golden Retriever next door  is definitely our equivalent to Lady Guinevere).  And she’s an equal opportunity flirt, though her heart is clearly devoted to Sir Theodore.  Unfortunately, Molly is quite big; Teddy is quite small – and they have yet to figure out how to slide each other their phone numbers.

So…meet Sirs Otis and Harpo..Being our city cousins, adjusting to life in the suburbs is a little bit of a challenge.  But my hunch is that within the next few days, this will be a posse to contend with – and hopefully good buddies.


“Outside of a dog, a book is a man’s best friend.  Inside a dog, it’s too dark to read” — Groucho Marx

anxiety, discretion, friendship, inspiration, life lessons, love, mindfulness, motivation, music

So Much Love

My in-laws celebrated their 63rd wedding anniversary yesterday.  What do you say about two people who have successfully navigated the tricky waters of marriage and have spent  far more time together in their union than as single people alone?  My mom used to say you never really understood another couple’s relationship unless you slept under their bed.  I have no intention of crawling under anybody’s bed –  least of all my in-laws.  So, I can tell you what I see.  I see two people with a profound abiding love, who memorized the steps to their dance and have never tired of the music.  I see a man who will go to the ends of the earth for the girl he fell for only yesterday, who protects her with a stoic dignity that requires no bluster or bellow.  You don’t cross Pop when it comes to his wife.  And why would you – seeing and celebrating their love teaches more than most life lessons – and without the pain it usually takes to learn something once and for all.  I’m not going to pretend to understand the chapters of their story, the private moments that define their relationship, the challenges they have faced.  I can marvel and applaud their love, their devotion and their unity.

Next Wednesday I go into the hospital so the surgeon can remove one of these little gremlins that has taken up residence in my jaw.  Though we know it’s benign, we still don’t know what they are, or frankly why the hell they’re there.  All will be well.  I know this – it’s not a Pollyanna thing.  I’m not saying that I have no anxiety – that’s just disingenuous.  But as long as we can keep this to one procedure, I’m good.   I’m good because of my small constellation of friends who have been circling me like the angels that they are.  My friends who don’t ask me to let them know what they can do, they just somehow know what to do.  My daughter-in-law who just checks in with a  concern that leaves me weepy (there’s nothing that can make me weepier than my children).  I’m good because of Andy, though sometimes his sensitivity chip is disengaged.  Because even when he misses the cue, or waits for guidance I can’t provide because I’m groping around in the dark, he really loves me very hard.  And in that way, he’s like his dad.  And in that way, I’m a very lucky woman.

In these chilling days with winds that blow in personal moments of uncertainty, we gravitate to those elements that warm us, anchor us to the ground so that we don’t fly away on the breeze.  I look at my in-laws and know that together they are in the most loving of hands.  I look at my husband and I know I am home.

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