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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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Uncategorized

It’s All For You

Hi my friend,

Once again, it’s been too long.  I would say that so much has happened, and yet that’s only true if one considers day-to-day life as a reasonable descriptive for endless activity.   It’s not that I am hustling to beat rush hour, get children out the door, committing sixteen hours to the workplace.  Been there, done that.  Somehow though, the days fall on top of each other, ignoring my exasperation with their speed.  So, with laundry in the dryer, the diswasher repair person gone, the shutters being installed and the Sirs running around offering love to any and everyone (oh, and cinnamon rolls in the oven),  I thought now would be a good time to write you.

The dishwasher repair person is from New Jersey – he’s been here before.  He and his wife moved here a year ago, and they too are adjusting to new rhythms, people, etc..  It’s awkward when you’re desperate to fit in, and find yourself feeling isolated.  The process of adapting is not nearly as fluid as the days are.  I smile because I hear my 92 year old father-in-law imploring me to ‘reach out, because no one is reaching in’…I’m reaching, Pop, I’m reaching.  That said, I’m also very short, so this whole reaching thing leaves me with my calves screaming (that was a joke).

And yet – there are neighbors who are nice enough when we see each other.  There’s a book club I joined.  I have made a friend.  And there’s a cashier at the local supermarket who gives me the biggest hugs whenever we see each other and compare notes on our grandchildren.  She reached in when she saw me buying enough cleaning supplies to dust and polish and wash an entire neighborhood (have I mentioned that I’m big on cleaning supplies?).  My first supermarket shop – and she hugged me.  Same thing has happened at the local CVS – the young woman with the purple hair (well, it varies) and spacers in her ears.  She’s a hugger.  The 13 year old who comes to Torah study – love that kid.

And so it goes – giving and receiving little tokens from the universe and marveling that I should be so lucky.  And do I pay it forward?  I try.  I need to do more.  Not only is it the rent we pay for being here, it just makes me feel like I’m doing something while I’m here.  The woman in the wheelchair at the gas station with two little ones in her lap and oxygen pulsing through her nose.  Does she need to know I paid her bill?  Absolutely not.  There’s no need.  The ladies who come every two weeks to clean my house and for whom I always bake (thus, the cinnamon rolls in the oven) –  though they are paid,  it just feels good to do a little something extra.  Listening to those who have so much to say and struggle to figure out how to articulate their thoughts.  As those opportunities arise, I open my arms wide.

I listen to a fourteen year old who has had a really lousy year – by almost any measure.  He doesn’t see that he is kick ass smart, erudite, cute, creative,  charming and wise.  He is slight, bereft, angry,  alone when he doesn’t want to be and indifferent to those around him simultaneously.  His peers are cruel and his teachers too overwhelmed I guess, to even notice.  So I notice.   And I get the chance to remind him that he is remarkable and talented and for reasons I don’t understand, he doesn’t dismiss me out of hand.  Being fourteen sucks on every level, but when you are a stranger in a world that doesn’t resemble anything familiar, it’s even worse.

This isn’t about whether or not I’m a nice person.  I’m ok as people go, but I know I can do better.  I know that the world is getting increasingly low on kindness and rich in judgments.  Are there reasons for this?  Many without question, and perhaps that is a topic for another day.  I’m sure we all have opinions about that.  So, I’m going to circle back to an earlier thought.  Those of us who are fortunate enough to read this on our computers, to have time to reflect, to worry more about the days flying by than how we will survive the next few hours – we’ve got rent due.  The world has given us much.

“Look at the sky:  that is for you.  Look at each person’s face as you pass them on the street:  those faces are for you.  And the street itself, and the ground underneath the street, and the ball of fire underneath the ground:  all these things are for you.”  — Miranda July

 

 

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friendship, humor, life lessons, love, marriage, sisters, Uncategorized

Who’s Stewart?

Hi,

There are many stories in here, so forgive the multiple parentheticals – recognizing of course, that really talented writers don’t use them often.  Ah well, I’ve never claimed to be a really talented writer.

Anyway, I was speaking with my builder last week.  A few years ago, her birthday gift from her husband was a girls’ weekend at an exclusive hotel.  These women have been friends for years; there are no secrets.  Well, with an abundance of alcohol there are no secrets.  And they imbibed – a lot.  One of her friends has been happily married for many years.  Great guy – sweet, attentive, doting – the kind of guy everyone else in the group holds up as the example when they’re arguing with their spouses.

After many drinks, her friend acknowledged that as much as she loved him, he wasn’t her ‘Stewart’.  Stewart was the one who got away.  Her college sweetheart – part dog, part romantic fool.  She was besotted, he was hormonal.  But she held out a fantasy, wondering for years, ‘what if’.

To abbreviate the tale, over the years her feelings for her husband have replaced that wonder.  She adores him – even though he wasn’t her ‘Stewart’.

I’ve never had a Stewart.  Perhaps it’s because I married often enough that by the time I hit 30, the prospect of a fantasy romance would have just enervated me.  I was a single mom with two boys under the age of five.  And honestly, being a mom was pretty much the only fantasy I ever really had that I insisted on making a reality (but that’s another story).

So let’s move on.

Have I told you that my sister is flippin’ brilliant?  On so many levels, this woman amazes me constantly (Debbie, I know you are shaking your head, telling me that this is same-sex, birth order bullshit – and even if you’re right, so what?  It is what it is.  Truth for sure – and some residual younger-sister-will-never-be-as-good neurosis for good measure).  She is beautiful, scary smart, talented beyond measure – and she is a writer – the legitimate kind.  In one of her recent stories she wrote “you fall in love with the way someone falls in love with you”.  Brilliant.

And true.

I fell in love with the way Andy fell in love with me.  He made himself fit into my life with such an abundance of heart, romance, delight – he introduced me to his magic and I was ultimately mesmerized.  He is my Stewart, but he isn’t the one who got away.  He’s the one who stayed.

We may fall in love with the vision of love that we see, but we stay in love with the person who orchestrated the imagery.  The person who may not be who we first saw (and are we the person they first saw?), but who’s in it with you.  The person who can be your best friend and some weird extra-terrestrial at the same time and still be cute.  The one who drives you crazy in every conceivable way.  I’m a kite;  Andy is an anchor.  He’s judgmental;  I’m not (but for my expectations of sub-contractors working on our house, but they’re not reading this).  We are opposite sides of the same coin – and that is the kind of love that can’t be fabricated by fantasy.

We fall in love with the way someone falls in love with us.  True enough.  We love the person who knew how to make that happen.  Perhaps I never had a Stewart because I have an Andy.  And even though this has absolutely nothing to do with what I intended to pen today, it is what’s been on my mind all morning.  So, I guess therein is another story.

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anxiety, friendship, leaving home, life lessons, moving, Uncategorized

Keep Moving

“My, my.  A body does get around.” – William Faulkner

Oh William, you have no idea.

We’ve moved.  We’re in our new house.  It is lovely, really.  True, the microwave doesn’t open, the dishwasher is confused about its purpose, there’s a wine fridge but it too is inoperable, and though I have a double oven, it has to be replaced or repaired.  Did I  mention that our refrigerator legs aren’t locked, so that it creeps along surreptitiously,  advancing with little notice until it kisses the wall?

Of course, as with every new house, there’s a punch list that is lengthy – and I now understand why it is in fact called a ‘punch’ list.

At night, our boxes multiply as if their souls were rabbits.  And each morning, I look around in disbelief that there are so damn many them.  The yard is not seeded, sodded or fenced, so the Sirs and I walk with our heads down – our neighbors must look at the mosh pit that is the front yard and shake their heads with displeasure.  Some of the doors don’t lock properly yet, but what the heck, I can always make someone a cup of coffee.

And yet.

I love that I have landed.  I may not be able to find my way through this morass even with a compass and clear head (I lack both) – but I am home.  A place to create new memories, walls that will hold laughter and baby giggles, words from family and friends, new secrets and old stories that are told and re-told for their lessons and familial value – all will be protected by this structure.  When you cross our threshold, you will know you are welcome.  I think that is what I have missed most about our old home (other than the fact that my kids were still under the roof).  It was ‘home’ to all who entered – shoes were off, people curled up on couches, succumbing to those drooly kind of naps, big Thanksgiving dinners, intimate moments with friends around the kitchen table.

I wish my whole family was local, but I am so, so grateful for those who are here.  I think as you get older, you treasure ‘home’ differently.  It isn’t about acquisitiveness any longer – on the contrary, that which isn’t essential to your heart is purged – it’s about holding on to that which is most important to you.  And reveling in it.  Perhaps therein lies my impatience.  I want to find the pictures of my parents, the cards my sons gave me when they were small.  I want to ‘feel’ my life in what I touch.

Andy keeps telling me to go slow, that this isn’t a marathon – he’s right of course.  I’m driven by a compelling force to snuggle into what I know, before I begin to create something new.  If our fence was up, I’d have one foot in the new and the other in the old.  Barring that,  I’m just going to keep going until I uncover all those priceless treasures that I have missed for almost a year.  And whisper with delight and gratitude, ‘There you are!  Thank you for waiting for me!’.

Ok, time to get started –

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aging, anxiety, faith, friendship, holidays, inspiration, life lessons, love, Uncategorized

Heartbeats

The year is coming to a close…and I struggle to write of joyous moments and rhythmic episodes of delight.  I know they were there – as I often say, in those spaces in between.  They were in the moments with Sophie’s head on my shoulder or singing (so to speak) on our walks; listening to Sienna imitate all the animal noises she knows and feeling the tenderness of her cheek; watching my sons as adoring fathers…the incredible kindness and love of friends near and far; the excitement of a new home (which with a little luck and prayer we will get into next week); sunsets that took my breath and sunrises that gave it back…

Yes…undeniably there have been moments, magical, wondrous moments.

And yet, this has also been a particularly strange and disorienting year.  Certainly being in temporary living quarters, without Andy more often than not, has been particularly upending.   Somehow as we get older it seems we lose more people – or perhaps age makes us more sensitive to these departures.  And in every corner of the world, there is pain – palpable, horrid, unrelenting pain – that one can’t ignore.  The faces of children – hungry, broken, scared; real-time nightmares from which one cannot look away.  I spend a lot of time seeking comfort, for it all hurts so damn much.

And I don’t get it, I swear I don’t…I don’t get hate, vitriol, bias, ignorance…I don’t get power grabs considered more valuable than the heartbeats of our children – anywhere in the world.  What are we doing?   Kleenex stock must be doing really well, for I’m certainly using my share.

And yet…yet, I hope.  I hope that you all receive all that you wish for and wish for all that you have.  I wish that the orbit of the earth, spins just slightly askew, so that we can stop perhaps, rewind and try again to create something enduring and universally  reflective of the beauty of the heart.  I hope…for all of us..

“Hope

Smiles from the threshold of the year to come

Whispering, ‘it will be happier’ –  Alfred Tennyson

 

most-influential-blogs-of-2012 (1)

inspiration, Joe Biden, leadership, politics, travel, Uncategorized

Joe Biden and me

Back in the day when biglaw was  my professional home, I was a road warrior.  United Airlines loved me – I still have one of those ‘million miler’ logos on my membership card.  And I was a global services member which elevated my travel still further.  It was heady, I admit.  I share this only to put the story in context.  Why would I be in first class flying from Frankfurt to the US?  Why would someone with a carnation in his lapel come on board to welcome me into my seat and thank me for traveling with United?  I’m tellin’ ya – crazy..

Our flight was delayed for reasons that were not made quite clear.  Unclear that is, until Joe Biden, John Kerry and Chuck Hegel came on board.  They had been in Afghanistan and there was a problem with their plane.  So they were flying United.  And here I am, in seat 1A, one of only two people who had been pre-boarded trying to look  as bemused and nonchalant as possible.  John Kerry walks by, nods at me and sits behind me in 2A.  He immediately gets on his cell phone and calls…Ted Kennedy who was in Texas campaigning for Obama.  In a toneless and enthusiastic voice, he sang ‘Happy Birthday’, joked a bit and said his good-byes.  I thought that was so touching, and was debating the appropriateness of turning around and saying something; Kerry put his sleep mask on and remained stationery and inert throughout  boarding, take-off, etc…

Chuck Hegel recognized me, but couldn’t place the face.  Andy and I had seen him and his wife a few times at the movies.  He took his seat, took out reading material, and after take off, engaged a bit with the gentleman next to him.

Not Joe – Joe sat in his seat to eat, but beyond that was up and talking with everyone.  He was carrying a copy of the magazine ‘Country Home’ and told me that Jill told him he’d be in trouble if he didn’t come home with an opinion about some proposed redecorating project.  He laughed, he kibbitzed, so comfortable in his skin, so untouched by the mantle that he wore.  It was the most intimate and delightful flight of my hundreds.  Thanks to Joe.

When we landed at Dulles, we met again at baggage claim and he asked his Secret Service guys to grab my bag too.  As we walked out, my husband and son were there, Matt’s eyes wider than usual.  Joe asked if I wanted a Starbucks, and I declined.  I wanted to get home.  And so did he.  It was a courtesy.  Of course, Matt couldn’t believe I turned down the offer.  In retrospect, neither do I.

Yes there were times too, when Joe and I were on the same train heading to or from Union Station in his days as a Senator.  He knew everyone in his ‘usual’ car, every ticket collector, their families, their stories.  You could feel his affinity for others – and you just wanted to be around the guy.

Why write of this now?  Yesterday’s emotional tribute to him at the Capitol affected me.  To hear bipartisan, emotional appreciation for someone – for anything – was a moment’s balm during these unnerving times.  Somehow it doesn’t surprise me that it would be because of Joe.

And know what?  It doesn’t even feel presumptuous calling him by his first name.

C.S. Lewis said, “For what we see and hear depends a good deal on where you are standing:  it also depends on what sort of person you are.”  Hey Joe, thank you for the time I got to stand with you.  Best.flight.ever.

aging, anxiety, bias, politics, Uncategorized

Defining Purpose

Note to you, my friends – this post contains some political opinions which may likely differ from yours.  I respect yours; thank you in advance for respecting mine.

Hi,

The night merged at some point with the morning, although I honestly can’t tell you at what point that happened.  Yet here we are, 5:00 AM – the Sirs walked and fed, the sun preparing for its entrance stage right, and somewhere behind the clouds, the moon is tiredly anticipating some rest.

I’m over-caffeinated, over-tired, and my thoughts are a muddled reflection of both.

I alternated between watching our election returns and watching ‘The Crown’ on Netflix.  Arguably one offset the disbelief that informed the other.  I despair of the choice the US has made.  It isn’t the despair associated with backing the losing candidate – one reaches a point in life where loss is not unfamiliar; rather something that winds its way around the soul, infusing it with a sense of dread, a shortening of breath that mimics a mild panic attack when one tries to determine what is going to happen next.  I am not going to offer you chapter and verse of my concerns and/or fears – they matter little in a forum which precludes dialogue.

My mom told us that following Kristalnacht, my grandfather went to synagogue with the belief that what was needed was more prayer.  Whether his assessment was right or wrong is not for any of us to say.  He lost brothers and sisters in the Holocaust, my mother bore the internal scars of a survivor with a burden on her teen-age shoulders that was unfairly weighted.  Yet, my grandfather, grandmother, mom and uncle made it here along with a few other relatives.  Was it faith that got them here?  Certainly, there were millions who perished who were equally righteous.  Serendipity?  Luck of the draw?  I have no idea.  I do know her reverence for this country, the way her eyes welled when she even mentioned Ellis Island – her belief that her life was to be lived for those who had not.  She was a complicated woman; she was a woman of valor.

Her perception of her purpose for being was fraught with ambivalence.  How the heck can an adolescent assume the responsibility for so many lost lives?  How does an adult fully actuate when she identifies herself with such a legacy?  Somehow it all got distilled into taking care of her family – and that was both a blessing and a burden, I think.

During one of the episodes of ‘The Crown’, the Queen Mum, still mourning the loss of her husband, her home (ok, Buckingham Palace isn’t exactly homey, but still…), reflects that these losses were deepened further by the loss of her purpose as a mother.  Her girls were grown, their paths understandably not reflective of any maternal need.  And so, she wonders what her purpose may be.

Switching back to the election results with tears spilling down my face…I’m identifying way too much.   Here I sit, in a temporary house with and without Andy (he’s still working in VA),  my sons fabulously grown, retired from a career which was defined by taking care of others and anticipating strategies for future success (within my purview).  What is my purpose now?  What is my place in a country in which I am not sure I am a part?  We have done such a powerful job of alienating each other, pouring vitriol as gas on a flame.  We have blamed and shaken fists, self-righteously proclaimed opinions with no regard for debate and conversation.  We have been disrespectful and judgmental, narrowing the width and breadth of love for humankind, replacing it with some weird sense of superiority.

So, before I devolve into Alice when she was carried along by her own river of tears, I demand to know what am I doing here?  What the hell is my purpose?  Here’s my short answer – I’m here to chart a path where I can make a small impact (let me tell you how challenging it is to try and volunteer anywhere – no, better save that for another day), I’m here to show that there is more to this world than self-important excuses and justifications for things that are just not justifiable.  I am here to love my family and small circle of friends to whatever degree they need that love.  I am here to breathe deeply and try to blunt some of the painfully sharp edges that reflect our current narrative.  One smile perhaps at a time, one genuine moment at a time.  I’m here to grow really, really, really old (I pray reverently) and take up my small space with unflinching love.  Even when I don’t see it.  Just means I have to look harder.  So world, I’m coming for you…after I take a nap.

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duality, faith, life lessons, mindfulness, music, sisters, Uncategorized

Oxymoron

Hi  my friend,

The night was sleepless and I’m wide awake…and the co-existence of contradictory realities seems to prevail.  I am a contradiction in terms – held together by the small inhalations between words.  You’d think that living within duality would at least offer up some deep slumber at the end of a day.  Ha.

Here’s one for you – I stopped believing in atheism a long time ago (yes, an oxymoron with a little hint of humor).  About the time I stopped writing everything in lower case and pretending that I was a potential hybrid of joni mitchell and e.e. cummings.  That said, I still belief in disbelief, if disbelief equals wonder and incredulity and stuff that’s just really hard to believe.

I believe in God.  I believe that there is something that I can’t adequately explain and seek daily, even though I know it’s there.  We have conversations (ok – I do all the talking, but given my profession and personality, that’s not too common).  Perhaps as my sister notes, the older we get, the more comfort we seek – whether it be in a more spiritual grounding,  greater connections with others, opening our eyes and arms a bit wider  – or all of the above.  One’s world may become more circumspect while one’s outlook widens….see what I mean?

I believe in humankind despite our reiterative behaviors of intentional cruelty and deplorable injustice.  It exists within the same construct as acts of graciousness and generosity that I witness everyday.  I cry over both.  And a sunrise can be as comforting as a sunset.  Go figure.

So much for the theory that it can be absolutely one thing or another.  Life is beautiful and unforgivably ugly.  We seek forgiveness when we find it difficult to forgive.  We ask for people to be held accountable and shy away from personal responsibility.  We’re a funny species – which makes me wonder why we came up with ‘oxymoron’ – it’s not a particularly appealing word.

And yet –

Faith is unassailable.  Small wonders are unassailable – the magnificence of a child delighting in the way a flower yields to its touch;  the silliness of dancing while taking a walk (me, with my earphones on, and yes, I did make sure there was no one around); those kinds of hugs where you feel completely surrounded by love and warmth; sunlight on spiderwebs…

And somehow it is through that prism that we look everyday – how we hold our days, each other, our lives.  Through its angles we are fractured and we are gorgeous,  a spectrum of dualities that make no sense and yet belong together.  So I repeat, go figure..

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