Uncategorized

And There You Have It

Hi my friend,

How has your week been so far? Are you finding time to check in with yourself as the driving beat of daily have-to’s increases as the holidays near? Come sit for a minute – I think you’ll appreciate this.

So, I have re-entered the world of exercise – or rather, a modest introduction to the concept of movement. It was quite depressing at the outset, with all these modifications being made for she–who-cannot-bend. I’d alternate between sensing a whiff of possibility in the air and then catch a tear slipping down my cheek, for I couldn’t help but wonder when the hell I became incapable of doing the most mundane stuff?

Anyway, cut to Saturday when I met the trainer for a Pilates session – just me, her and the reformer. No accommodations but for my height (let it go, Kanigan). It was fantastic! Each discreet movement reminded my body that it can still engage – and even suggested that there were some muscles I had yet to meet. In the midst of this delight, Christy said to me “Isn’t it great? You’re feeling your power again. Consider this past year AFGO.”

And what, may I ask is that?

Christy told me about the elderly grandmother of someone she once knew who referred to every plot twist in life as AFGO (Another F–king Growth Opportunity). After laughing at the visual this prompted (white bun, rocking chair, orthopedic shoes…), I delighted in the way it tweaked my thought process.

Most of life doesn’t happen as we plan – there are arguably more times when we have to adjust our thinking to the reality presented. How nimble we are depends upon our state of mind far more than our ability to physically bob and weave. Shaking my head and smiling, I considered the impressive number of growth opportunities I’ve had, while hoping for gazillion more. I welcome most of them – after all, I’m learning to be nimble. I do Pilates.

Have a good day, ok?

aging · friendship · honesty · life lessons · love · Uncategorized

Some Trips Are Longer Than Others

Hi there,

I know – it’s been a while. I’m not sure if you’re still passing this way – and it’s certainly understandable if you’ve changed routes. After all, there hasn’t been anything here to see for more than a year.

But if you’ve stopped by – it’s good to see you. Clearly I’ve been gone – and I’m tentatively back. In the interest of abbreviating a very long year – I got sick. If you listen to my hematologist, rheumatologist and every other ologist I’ve seen – I didn’t know how sick I was. The year has been a blur of blood transfusions, biopsies, a bilateral hip replacement and a brain that went wonky because my blood was so compromised. I had to get multiple assurances that I was clear-headed enough to even try writing again. The thought of appearing more nutty than I usually do was a bit too much for me to handle.

I’m better now. I’m a version of me again – one I sort of recognize and occasionally don’t. I lost a year of mobility and engagement with the world. These days, my body is a cranky participant in my efforts to get a bit stronger – thinking it prefers being sedentary to the aches and strain of movement (honestly, I can’t even call it exercise – it’s more like wishful thinking with a beat). But, I can tell you that the return to normalcy is greeted each day with an emotional ‘thank you’, even if my body and I occasionally disagree. There are no more hospital beds, occupational therapy tools and elevated seats. I can put on my own socks thank you very much. I can engage in the most mundane activities – driving, food shopping, laundry – and I think each is pretty damn fantastic. Musing over the monotonous with a significant amount of delight.

And yes, there’s also some fear – fear of a recurrence (the autoimmune world is at best dystopian, at worst just plain freaky), an awareness of how much I am unaware of – I could explain the list, though I don’t think I need to.

So, I’m going to re-enter the community and see how we do. The musings won’t be this intense – they weren’t before and life doesn’t ask that of me now. I’m just going to keep my eyes open and my heart full – and we’ll see what happens next. Thank you for stopping by – see you soon.

faith · friendship · life lessons · love · Uncategorized

Where are my words

My dear friend,

We exchanged emails last night – and now I’m without adequate words.  This post will not do anything justice, and yet…I feel like there’s so much I want to say.

I’m sitting in my little office, surrounded by pictures of my family – parents who I miss daily, Andy, my boys who are now men, daughters-in-law, granddaughters.  This is where I feel most comforted, most bewildered, most loved.  I have one of your photographs framed here too.  An abundance, truly.  It can make my heart hurt.  I whisper “thank you, thank you” throughout the day.  I can think of no better mantra.

We’ve never met, yet I feel like we’ve known each other for years.  How do I console you when I am literally across the ocean?  How do I begin to articulate to you – a man of faith and family, deep love and incredible grace – that I have an ache deep within that exists with yours.  How I pray for a miracle, even though I know that you and your wife have made peace with something I am railing against.  Yours is one of those once in a lifetime loves – and though I believe it transcends time, I want you both to celebrate it together forever.  Petulant, I know.  Selfish, I agree – for this is not about me at all.

I pause to look once more at your magical new grandson, as he is held with some distractedness by his toddler sister.  Her eyes are luminous, filled with some whimsy and a little mischief.   You are literally in the midst of the alpha and the omega.  One struggles with this most profound of extremes.  Yet, you sent me peace last night.  How can that be?  In your deepest sorrow, you offered me gratitude for feeling the telepathic connection that has caused us to write each other out of the blue for a few years now.  How can that be?

Cherished friend, I wish you peace.  I am thankful that your faith is deep and your family surrounds you.  I wish your beloved wife time…time to delight in your love and the love of her children.  I wish she could stay.  What can I say, I’ve never been one for small wishes when it comes to those I hold so close in my heart.  Needless to say, I’ll check in again soon, perhaps with better words – though that’s unlikely.  What can one say when there are no words?  Only these random murmurings.   Much love..xx

duality · honesty · inspiration · Joe Klaas · politics · Uncategorized

The Truth About The Truth

Hi,

Remember that great scene in “A Few Good Men” when Jack Nicholson vehemently states, “You can’t handle the truth!”  I love that.  Because we skirt so many truths out of fear, reluctance, discomfort, personal disgust – I could go on.

Does that mean we are dishonest, horrid liars?  Absolutely not – in fact, I really like us as a species.  For every awful, despicable action that we witness, there is a generous, loving gesture to be seen.  We are cool, talented, smart, and have great music.  Our hugs can nourish us; our humor evokes hiccups, stomach cramps and a warmth like nothing else.

But are we honest?  I mean, really, really honest?  When we insist that we are our own worst enemy – um, not sure about that.  I think we’re honest with ourselves to the point of disquiet.  If it causes us too much agita, we move on to the issues we can handle.  Joe Klaas writes, “The truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off”.  We certainly can feel self-anger – I’m just not sure if it’s about the stuff that whispers to you in the dark.

Don’t misunderstand me, please – I’m not the icon for honesty.  As a kid, I thought I invented lying – rationalizing (and perhaps to a degree rightly so – or so I believed) that my parents would freak if I came clean.  Obviously to a kid, that means you don’t want to get in trouble, and I hated getting in trouble (of course, who does?).

As an adult, some truths are harder to face, and perhaps if the effect of keeping them hidden causes little harm to yourself or others, those defense mechanisms arguably should remain in working order.  After all, they’re there for a reason.

But the big ‘but’ to me, is the illusion of all truth all the time.  I think that in and of itself is a fallacy.  I think we hide from certain truths, deny others and refuse to even consider some.  And perhaps the admission of this is the most honest we can be.  Personally I think that’s ok.

I’m not suggesting that we shouldn’t look deeper, harder and with a more fearless eye. We may learn something about ourselves that really can free us from certain emotional binds that inhibit blood flow.  In fact, I think it’s a courageous thing to do.  I also think that in reality it is the fear of what we might find that makes us our own worst enemy.  Surrounding ourselves with a sycophantic chorus that assures us that our flaws are minor and our assets too numerous too mention – I’m not sure that gives any of us the love, understanding and perspective we deserve.

Where the hell is this all coming from?  Certainly the disingenuousness of the news here in the States, the frustration I feel at all the crap that’s circulating and frankly soiling the air I breathe.  A little self-reflection, a little candor, a lot of humility and a recognition of the failures in our humanity would be welcome.  Whoever you’re for or against is not the issue – what is at issue is the absence of honest self-reflection, for starters.  And frankly, if you’re an enemy to yourself, how can you be for anyone?  Just sayin’.

aging · friendship · grandparenthood · inspiration · marriage · parenting · Uncategorized

Of Paradoxes and Pop

Hi,

So here’s what’s been rolling around in this very addled head of mine…My neighbor Gary is an avid gardener.  So much so, that we have never spoken about anything else.  He came to the door a few weeks back to tell me that our grass was being over-watered and that I should adjust the scheduling of the sprinkler system.  Ok, done.  The other day he flagged down my car to advise me that my grass wasn’t getting enough water (I’m abbreviating the conversation to keep this thing going).

Everything needs water – but not too much.  Every meal should be savored – but not so much that you get heartburn.  My cyber pal David (davidkanigan.com), is pondering the extremes of emotional bungee jumping, as I extol the state of balance.  But highs are awesome – it’s the lows that suck.  It’s all a paradox (sidebar – Annie LaMott’s Ted talk on her 12 rules of life and writing – enjoy it).  I got it – and to a ridiculous degree, it’s all a cliché.  Until of course, you get to some lessons I’ve learned from my father-in-law.

Sid calls me his favorite daughter-in-law, and he in turn is my favorite father-in-law.  Of course, we are also each others’ only person in that category, so for me, it’s an easy win.  He’s 92, one of the greatest generation, the head of Andy’s clan and he wears that mantle handsomely.  He recognizes the magnificence of my sons’ as fathers – and tells them.  He literally beams at the mention of his grandkids.  He’s vibrant and engaged and has become the official greeter to his community.  Going up to strangers, introducing himself, inviting people with an outstretched hand and an easy smile.  He’d win “Most Popular” if they had such awards for adults.

Pop has an easy walk, this kind of strolling gait that is unhurried yet purposeful.  He broke his foot a few weeks back, which only slightly inconvenienced his ability to dance at his granddaughter’s wedding.  His two granddaughters wheeled him onto the dance floor, he was handed the mike to sing along with Louis Prima and no one eclipsed him from that point forward.

And yes, now that his boot is off, he’s got golf to return to, bridge of course…you get my drift.  Pop’s unassuming and humble, he’s warm and truly finds no fault with anyone in his ever-widening circle.  He reaches out – with no hesitation.  If you surmise that I love him, you’re right.   I think he finds self-absorption boring – too much is happening for the over-examination of one’s self, or the pursuit of that kind of attention from others.

My parents were too young when they passed away.  I’ve written about them extensively and will not do so now.  What I will say is that neither was able to show me how to grapple with getting older.  I’m grateful for Pop’s lessons, because other than learning how to  play bridge, I try to play this life as he does.

Pop was married to my mother-in-law for well over 60 years.  And he still called her the ‘most beautiful woman in the world’.  We all were deeply worried about him – would he be able to get past the grief, heal enough to make a life for himself, etc.  And here’s the paradox that Pop taught me, the only one that doesn’t make me crazy.

You don’t get past grief (I knew that part);  you don’t get over love and you still live.  One can argue that it is a religious requirement to do so (it is in Judaism) – which is a pretty high imperative;  so is doing it for the spirit within that begs to sing.  Love and grief co-exist.  One doesn’t cancel out the other.  Losing someone you adore doesn’t give you permission to exempt yourself from life’s dance.  They are not different sides of the same coin – they are the same side of the coin.  There is no better moment to thank my father-in-law than today, there is no better reason than his patient coaching and his love.  What can you say to someone who asks the world to be his guest?  Thank you for the invitation, Pop – I gratefully accept and I love you.

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