Posts Tagged With: hope

Still Crazy After All These Months

Seven months today.

I thought by now I’d feel better, be on the upswing.

But no. If anything the cycle of grief leaves me reeling from an upside down outside loop (is that even possible?) and rockets into this cavernous roiling flame-filled pit of wild emotion I don’t even recognize. Anger, tears, blame, sorrow, regret; those words only skim the surface some days.

Sounds stupidly dramatic.

Kathy would say, “Oh, get over yourself woman.” Then we’d drive over to Freddie’s for their super skinny fries and epic fry sauce and a concrete mixer with caramel and nuts and fudge and two days worth of calories in one sitdown whine fest.

What an awesome listener. The world needs more listeners like her. What an honest, straightforward tell it like it really is talker. We need more of that, too.

If I were to follow her example when someone asks how I’m doing I would NOT say, “Oh, I’m fine!” Instead I’d say, “I’m a wreck!”

I miss her like crazy. I miss us. Our friendship. Our uniquely bizarre mix of humor, life’s experience and often wordless communication created five years of something beyond special.

Now, months later, there’s still this gaping hole of her absence. And I keep tripping and falling into it. Hurts every time. I just can’t seem to navigate away from the edge, yet.

Maybe someday. Maybe at the one year point. Y’think? I don’t know.

She’d be mad at me if I left this post hanging on a negative note. She’d be mad at me for the whole post, honestly. Oh well, she’ll have to come haunt me to shut me up. So there.

Here’s where I insert the jokes.

But just to be safe, (I don’t really want her haunting me) here’s a few fairly good, clean George Carlin one liners. (Hint: it helps to say them out loud in your best comedian voice, with a nice pause at the end for a rim shot, pa da, pum! )

  • If a turtle doesn’t have a shell, is he homeless or naked?
  • Do infants enjoy infancy as much as adults enjoy adultery?
  • Can vegetarians eat animal crackers?
  • How do they get the deer to cross at that yellow road sign?
  • Does the Little Mermaid wear an algebra?
  • Is it true that cannibals don’t eat clowns because they taste funny?
  • If the police arrest a mime, do they tell him he has the right to remain silent?

Alright already, I’ll stop now.

Laughter? Really?

I’ve found salvation and solace in laughter the past few months. It’s cathartic. It’s healing. It’s like medicine, without the weird side effects.

I’m fine. Really. Most of the time I am. I just have these moments that last a day or two or three. It helps to write it out loud, kinda gets it out of my system.

I’ll sign off today the same way I used to tell her goodbye. The same way I said goodbye for the last time.

“Love ya, Kathy. See ya later.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The title for today’s post is a take off on a song by Paul Simon, “Still Crazy After All These Years.” It speaks to me on so many different levels. You can listen to it here.

 

 

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Categories: Cancer, Death, Friendship, Humor | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Glass Tinted the Color of Rose

It’s Gratituesday! What a year! Our family grew by fifty percent this year! If a business grew that much competiting companies would be making offers to buy us out. We added a daughter-in-law, a son-in-law, another  son-in law, a granddaughter and a future granddaughter. Every child of ours experienced an amazing year of growth, love and forward momentum. What more could a mother ask for?

empty nest syndrome

empty nest  (Photo credit: butterfingers laura)

All that good brought with it a breathtakingly rapid emptying of the nest, which I’m still adjusting to. Mostly, it’s a good thing. What am I talking about it, it’s a wonderful thing! I must be low on oxygen now to think it’s anything but wonderful to have alone time with MSH, quiet time to write and read, parts of the house that actually stay clean and a schedule that doesn’t involve a spreadsheet and color coding.

The past three hundred sixty-four days held so much more good than bad this year. In fact, the good weighed more by far in quality and quantity than the bad. On a strictly symbolic basis, the sunny days radiated, the semi-cloudy ones still shone with brilliance, the gray days brought much-needed rain.

But I’d be lying if I pretended there hasn’t been symbolic thunder and flooding, earthquakes and tornadoes. This quote from the beginning of Dickens’ best book, A Tale of Two Cities sums up this past year honestly.

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way.” ~Charles Dickens

As true as that may be, today, though, this Tuesday of Gratitude, I’m focusing only on the good, the blessed, the wonderful, the hope, the light and the heavenly.

selfshooting through rose-colored glasses...

selfshooting through rose-colored glasses… (Photo credit: jmtimages)

Today I choose to look back through a window tinted the color of rose.

Tomorrow is a whole new year. What will its days and weeks bring? Hold on to your seat and keep your hands and feet inside the ride at all times, it’s sure looking like a doozy.

(If you haven’t had the chance to read A Tale of Two Cities, or if it’s been a while since you have read it, I’d suggest a plan in the coming months to pick up a copy, be it tangible or digital and familiarize yourself with his wisdom and words. You’ll be glad you did.)

Categories: Books, Family, Gratitude, Gratituesday | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Planting the Green, Green Grass of Home

October is spring time for me and I don’t live in the Southern hemisphere.

I can explain.

I grew up with four seasons. The traditional ones. Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall. Three months, more or less, of each. Winter was the brutal months. Walking to the bus in the near blizzard conditions made me question my desire for an education. The first few weeks of sledding and tubing and snowman construction got old quickly when the snow melted and pooled around my toes in galoshes. I did not like the cold. I still don’t.

Umpteen moves later we’ve temporarily settled, for the past 15 years, in the Phoenix area. Two seasons exist here: hot and warm.

Because of the southwestern desert heat during the summer months of April through September, I stay inside with air-conditioning keeping me cool and sane. Sure, I venture outdoors in the early morning hours before the sun comes up, and after the sun goes down. When the sun’s visible, I try to avoid being out there. It’s brutal. One hundred ten, one hundred fifteen, and that’s in the shade. I get cabin fever stuck inside so much.

If we had a pool I’d be out there more, but that’s a luxury, even here.

By time the temperatures drop below a hundred and the evenings cool into the seventies I feel like a bear that’s been hibernating all winter. Finally, I get to go outdoors, breathing unprocessed air, walking, biking, gardening, swinging kids at the park, picnicking, hiking, living.

I often and mistakenly call the fall months springtime here. Weird, but that’s how my brain processes finally being able to escape the indoors.

photo-18 copy 11I just spent four hours outdoors overseeding my winter lawn with rye grass seed in my backyard. If I don’t do this the cooler temperatures force the Bermuda grass into hibernation mode and I look out on three hundred square feet of dead looking grass until April. It’s not much fun to play on or lie on, or walk barefoot in. Not to mention the dead stuff gets tracked into the house and makes a mess. So, environmentally irresponsible or no, I scalp the lawn, spread the perennial  rye  grass seed, layer on the topping mulch or, (gross) steer manure, and then water faithfully three or four times a day for a week or so.

The end result?  A lush, living, breathing carpet of green as a foreground to my raised vegetable and flower beds.

While spreading the dirt over the freshly scattered tiny seeds, I thought of all the seeds I’ve planted over the years. Vegetables, flowers, grass. Some grew and some didn’t. Some shot up tiny seedlings and then died off. And some took off and grew into incredible plants with a yield that would do any master gardener proud. I just never know what results to expect.

That’s so much like my life.

photo-17 copy 17I’ve put effort into things I thought would produce happiness and satisfaction. I’ve spent time with people I believed I could help or who needed what I had to offer. The various seeds I’ve planted boggle my mind if I think about it much.

And just like the vegetables, flowers and grass, some of my seeds have done nothing. Some looked promising and then died off. And some became a rich and stunning plant that gave back more than I ever put in.

I’m afraid I might have planted too much meaning and hope among my grass seed today. I get a little antsy when I do that. Putting myself into something scares me every time. Over-investing myself in anything feels particularly risky.

Oh well.

I throw the seed out there. I water, I fertilize and I hope.

Categories: Gardening, Hope, Nature, Outdoors | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Needing That Thing with Feathers

(My Mom had bleeding on the brain last night and emergency surgery this morning.)

Sending this out for family to read. It kept coming to mind all morning and all afternoon as I sit here 600 miles away when I want to be there with all of you. My heart is there in the room with you!

“Hope” is the thing with feathers

BY EMILY DICKINSON

“Hope” is the thing with feathers –
That perches in the soul –
And sings the tune without the words –
And never stops – at all –
And sweetest – in the Gale – is heard –
And sore must be the storm –
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm –
I’ve heard it in the chillest land –
And on the strangest Sea –
Yet – never – in Extremity,
It asked a crumb – of me.

And then:

 This verse came to mind and keeps running through my head:
“Be strong of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord the God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.” – Joshua 1:9

Sending my love and prayers and hope.

Categories: Family, Hope | Tags: , , , , , , | 4 Comments

The White Flag of Surrender

I have a few questions for you.

  • Do you ever want to throw up the white flag and surrender?
  • Does admitting defeat seem like the only way to win?
  • Is giving up starting to look like your only option?
  • Will abandoning all hope give you some kind of peace?
  • Do the words “I’m done!” wait to leap from your mouth?

give-up-bg

If so I have a question for you:

  • How do YOU stop yourself from calling it quits?
  • How do YOU keep moving forward?
  • What do YOU tell yourself when things look hopeless?
  • Have YOU ever actually given in to the giving up feelings? Did it help?
  • WHY do you keep trying when you want to throw up your hands in helpless defeat?

In short:

How do you keep on keeping on?

No, don’t worry, I’m fine. I’m always fine. I have my coping strategies, my work arounds, my pick-me-ups, my support network.

I’m just wondering how other people do it.

I stand in awe of what others manage to get through. I’m amazed at their ability to withstand challenges that would wither me.

So I’m just curious about you.

What’s gotten you through the tough spots?

Categories: Hope, Wondering | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

A Bird in the Hand and a Few on the Line

English: Dark-eyed Junco (Junco hyemalis hyema...

“Hope is the thing with feathers

That perches in the soul

And sings the tune without the words

And never stops at all.” – Emily Dickinson

Way back in the time of the dinosaurs, I learned this poem. Once in a while it pops back into my head, unbidden, but clear as a bird song in the early morning air. It’s something I’ve held on to lately, hope, not the poem. Hope for what? I’m not sure. Hoping for good things to really happen. Hoping for the impossible? Hoping I don’t fall short.

Maybe I shouldn’t over-analyze it. Maybe I should simply enjoy the way the words trip over my tongue and roll out. Maybe I should just let it work its magic on my subconscious.

Speaking of birds…

Isn’t this a fun picture?

Birds in a row

Birds in a row (Photo credit: The Wren Design)

The Most and the Least

 “The very least you can do in your life is figure out what you hope for. And the most you can do is live inside that hope. Not admire it from a distance but live right in it, under its roof.” – Barbara Kingsolver, from Animal Dream

I like the thought of living under hope’s roof. I can visualize myself not simply being hopeful but living a life under and protected by hope. Something has to counteract all the negatives, right? 

Killdeer Broken Wing Display

One more word image of a bird

“Hold fast to dreams,

For if dreams die

Life is a broken-winged bird,

That cannot fly.” – Langston Hughes

Some days, for some of us, hope is elusive. But there are always dreams, aren’t there? That’s something.

Looking for a good day ahead where I can. It’s out there, just gotta keep my eyes open.

Happy Monday!

Categories: Hope | Tags: , , , , , | 3 Comments

“Profound Fear and Extraordinary Hope”

Fourteen years ago today, Elie Wiesel gave a speech at the White House as part of the Millennium Lecture Series titled “The Perils of Indifference.” You can read it here.  I would strongly encourage you to read its entirety.

DAVOS,28JAN03 - Elie Wiesel, Professor of the ...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Many years ago I read “Night,” Wiesel’s book about his Holocaust experience. I have read many books on this topic but none shook me to the core as this one did. 

There was no holding back, no reserve of anger carefully stored for later. He gave this reader no simplified synopsis of a horrific experience, no tight bow of conclusion, no hope for a future in a world where such things can happen.

Published in 1960, a mere fifteen years after the events of which he writes, I would have been surprised to find, as many other holocaust writers oddly provided, a reconciliation.

I found myself reading book after book of such atrocities, not by choice, but as an unwilling onlooker in a horrific accident, unable to turn away. Staring gape-mouthed at the unbelievable, I kept reading. Until one day I had to stop or be swallowed up by the darkness of it all.

Depressive by nature, I’ve known I can’t subject myself to so much sorrow, so much sadness. And yet, I had allowed myself the slow slide into hopelessness through my reading and study.

I climbed out of that depression, dragging behind me the weight of all I’d read, all the hurts I’d tried and tried not to empathize with.

When I came across his speech from fourteen years ago, I was interested to see what forty years had brought about.

He was still honest, he was still direct and his words still stung with some anger, but there was a difference.

The final paragraph spoke volumes. And the last five words of his speech, to say the very least, surprised me.

“I think of the young Jewish boy from the Carpathian Mountains. He has accompanied the old man I have become throughout these years of quest and struggle. And together we walk towards the new millennium, carried by profound fear and extraordinary hope.”

Elie Wiesel – April 12, 1999

English: Elie Wiesel, aged 15.

English: Elie Wiesel, aged 15. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Categories: Hope | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

A Tiny Wisp of Hope for the Day

feather

(Photo credit: matthewvenn)

“Hope is an unbearably precious thing, worth its weight in feathers. If that’s too much to think about, best to tuck it in a pocket anyway, and make it a habit.” – Barbara Kingsolver, from “High Tide in Tucson, Essays from Now or Never”

Feather

 (Photo credit: gemsling)

 

Categories: Mental Health | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

Sacred Spaces

The Pediatric Intensive Care Unit of a hospital is not a place you want to spend time in.  I found myself there once to support a friend and her family.

When a child’s life hangs in the balance, people from all walks of life, of all faiths or no faith, search for peace, understanding, hope, answers, or a higher power to intervene. Whatever help they can find, however they can find it, they reach for it.

Over the course of several days I found myself in a beautifully designed, peaceful space we called the “chapel.”  Stepping through the doors into the oval-shaped room, with its opaque stained glass trees and gently rounding edges, felt to me like passing into another world.  Sounds muffled, voiced muted, lights diffused, peace hovered.

Lest you think it was simply my own personal reaction to the room let me offer the following incident.

Leaf lamina. The leaf architecture probably ar...

Another friend and her husband came to visit and had brought their own young children as I told them I’d be happy to keep them entertained while the two sets of parents visited. We explored the child-friendly waiting areas with giant chess pieces, the floor that lit up when they stepped on the tiles, some really awesome larger than life toys, and gigantic Lego bricks.  When the play area finally got boring I suggested we go upstairs to see what I told them was a beautiful tree room.

I had said nothing of the reason for the room, had not mentioned it was a chapel.  I simply thought they would enjoy the colors in the stained glass and the unique shape of the room.  When they walked into this room of glass and wood, of reflection and prayer, they immediately quieted their voices. They explored as children do, with fingers touching the different textures and colors of glass and gliding along smooth surfaces.  A small wire and bronze tree sculpture garnered their attention with its tiny leaves and gracefully arching branches.

And then to my surprise, the seven-year-old boy said “hey guys, we can meditate here.”  There was no fussing, or complaining, they all simply sat in a circle in the middle of the room, some in the lotus position, some with crossed legs, hands held just so resting on each knee.  This tiny group of children, who five minutes ago were bouncing wildly through a play area, settled into a brief quiet meditation.

I felt suddenly out-of-place and far too noisy simply sitting on a chair watching these amazing children respond the to climate and spirit of a room.

I believe the prayers, and tears, hopes and pleading that happen in that room remain long after the visitors leave.  Those private tears and supplications for miracles and healing become a part of the walls, the glass, the wood, the very air.  The room becomes infused with hopes and wishes. The very echoes of heartstrings stretched taut to breaking create a sacred space, a haven, a respite, a connection to something more.

Is this something beyond medicine? Or is it the ultimate medicine?

Or is it something else altogether?

Alaska forest - trees

What makes a space sacred?

Sacrifice. Need.

Intention. Tragedy.

Belief. Dedication.

Blessings. Desire.

Reverence.

Consecration.

Promises. Nature.

I know I certainly need more time spent in the sanctuaries of my life. The peace that comes as I take a solitary morning walk amid some of earth’s grand greenery is well compensated. Time spent contemplating life, or merely emptying my mind, brings a calmness that permeates my day. Other places I consider sacred can imbue meaning and  hope in my life as I spend time and allow the atmosphere there to settle in and around me.

Life moves fast and can be fiercely painful at times. Going somewhere silent and sacred can lend balance and offer a balm like nothing else can.

Do you have a sacred space somewhere in your life? If not, do you need one?

Stained Glass

Categories: Mental Health, Outdoors, Wondering | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Weeds and Wildflowers

It’s Gratituesday! Today I’m thankful for the tiny green shoots of wildflowers I have popping out all over my front yard.  There’s a promise in those sprouting weed-like growths. I know even though they look like weeds, and grow like weeds, they aren’t weeds. They’re going to produce masses of yellow and orange African Daisies and bunches of satiny orange California Poppies in another four to six weeks.

To appease the HOA I set out a couple of signs that say, “Wildflowers Under Construction.” I don’t really want to pay a fine for my “weeds” or get out some mean weed killing chemical.  I want to see the yard burst into golden waves of color.

wildflowers under constructionI find the symbolism of these flowers particularly appropriate for the challenges I face in my life, large or small.  What appears as something terrible, something troublesome, with time, often, not always, but often, in the long run becomes something positive and memorable.  I’m not about to proclaim gratitude for trials, oh no, not me. But I am willing to concede that I learn from going through hard times.

There’s a beautiful song, written by Stephen Foster, which I found particularly moving a few years back when the tides of trouble breached all levees and inundated my life.  It became an anthem for me of sorts, or a prayer, which I still hum often and think out loud and verbalize while on my knees.

“Let us pause in life’s pleasures to count its many tears,

While we all sup sorrow with the poor;

There’s a song that will linger forever in our ears;

Oh hard times come again no more.

Tis the song, the sigh of the weary,

Hard times, hard times, come again no more.

Many days you have lingered around my cabin door;

Oh hard times, come again no more.”

For me, as for many, if not all, hard times are not a one time event.  Hard things press in on us and weigh us down with a weight that is unfathomable. Finding a small thing like the shoots of wildflowers pushing through the weight of rocky soil can bring hope and send a song through the air that lifts the weight ever so slightly.

Looking For Signs

I look for signs of hope all around me. Not just in springtime harbingers, but in everyday life.  A newborn’s mewling cry. A teen’s energetic laughter. An older couple holding hands. Help being offered when a need presents itself. Kindness extended, smiles proffered, handshakes offered. Birds chirping. A toddler’s rowdy chaos. Blue skies.

The lyrics of this haunting song continue:

“While we seek mirth and beauty and music light and gay,

There are frail forms fainting at the door;

Their voices are silent, their pleading looks will say

Oh hard times come again no more.

Tis a sigh that is wafted across the troubled wave,

Tis a wail that is heard upon the shore

Tis a dirge that is murmured around the lowly grave

Oh hard times come again no more.”

I want to put a “Wildflowers Under Construction” sign on the doors of certain houses that I know.  I wish them vision to see the shoots of green that are pushing tentatively up through the rocky ground they’re walking on.  I want them to hear the song of hope, however quietly it may lilt in the air. I pray they feel a gentle tug of hope encircle and lift when all seems lost.

I watch for hope, for signs of life and laughter and good things to come.  Being small, they aren’t always easy to see. You have to look closely. They’re everywhere, can you see them?

Mark O’Connor, James Taylor, Yo-Yo Ma, Edgar Meyer – performing “Hard Times Come Again No More”

Categories: Gratitude, Gratituesday, Outdoors | Tags: , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

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