Love

Valentine’s Day is approaching, and I decided to write about LOVE. It’s a funny thing, Love. You may spend most of your life either looking for it or wondering about it; but when it arrives, you are almost always surprised. It doesn’t give a lot of warning. It just shows up with a parade of crashing cymbals and blaring trumpets, overwhelming you with new sensations, sounds, and feelings. Then, it moves next to you with a quartet of strings, softly swaying your heart and soul. Soon it becomes a somehow familiar melody that keeps running through your mind. Ultimately, you succumb to the joyous music and it penetrates every fiber of your being, until it becomes a part of your every breath and thought.

I have been in Love before. I have also been infatuated, had crushes, and been in varying stages of lust before. But when the REAL THING comes along, it is very, very different. This Love is the greatest gift of all, because it is transformative and all-consuming. Every single atom in the Universe takes on a new meaning, and the simplest of actions or events have significance. I now have a greater sensitivity to the beauty around me in Nature, in Humankind, and in the vastness of the Cosmos.

I am sure there are cynics among my readers who will assume that this is hyperbole, or that I am looking through rose-colored glasses. But I am here to tell you that this kind of Love actually exists. I am experiencing it daily, and I am as flabbergasted as can be. I have not known these feelings before, and so they astound me.

Those of you who are already familiar with all of this may chuckle with recognition, or sigh with fond memories. But for those of you who, like me, have spent decades wondering if this Soul-Mate kind of Love can really happen…….please take Heart. Literally. Because it can, and does happen.

I hoped and dreamed for years that someone would come into my life and really understand Me. Someone who really gets me. Someone who loves me the way I love Him. Well, he arrived.

Happy Valentine’s Day, dear readers. I will leave you with this quote which the remarkable Vladimir Nabokov wrote in a letter to his wife:

“You came into my life-not as one comes to visit…but as one comes to a kingdom where all the rivers have been waiting for your reflection, all the roads, for your steps.”

The Answer, my Friend……….

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Theodore J. and I were walking back toward the house after our short stroll down the street the other day, when I stopped in front of my home and looked at the Maple tree that sits at the edge of my front yard. There, next to the tree, was a singular seed pod, or “helicopter” as we call them, floating on the breeze. It was, to my eyes, not attached to anything, but just staying afloat on the currents of air that were blowing sweetly that late morning. I watched this miraculous effort with great astonishment. How in the heck was this little seed pod staying airborne for so long? I marveled at the way it rose and sank, turned sideways, and yet never fell to the Earth. I was mesmerized for what seemed an eternity (probably only thirty seconds).The breeze just kept blowing and this small helicopter kept flying.

Theodore was very patient, and kept quite still as I continued staring at this spectacular feat. Finally, we walked the thirty or forty feet to our driveway and went inside. I thought about what I had seen, and continued to be amazed. Then, I remembered that sometimes if I really pay attention, the Universe will shoot me a message. Here is what I think I was meant to glean.

I am the helicopter seed pod. I am out here alone on the wind, struggling to find my way to a grounded and safe place. I am scared, and seemingly fluttering without direction; yet, there is something holding me up in these breezes and allowing me to soar and float, without any control. I need to let go and trust that Something to keep me in the zephyrs until it is time to slowly and gently come back to the solid place from which I started.

So, that’s it then? I need to trust the Universe/God/ the Angels to keep me flying until it is time to touch down on Earth again. I was very satisfied with this conclusion, and felt somewhat better about my plight as I went forth into another day of uncertainty and confusion.

Then my daughter, the brave and beautiful Caroline, came over to visit me. Once she was inside and through with the usual noisy greeting ritual with Theodore, we got ready to go on an errand. As I pulled out of the driveway, she looked to the right side and she asked me an unusual question: “Hey,  Mom, did you see that Helicopter seed thing outside that was attached to the Maple Tree?”.  As we drove by and it was still floating on the breeze, I replied that I didn’t see the attachment: I thought it was just being kept aloft by the wind. Caroline tried to show me the almost invisible filament of spider web or some other magical string that was attached to the seed pod and connecting it to the tree. I could not see it. But, because her young eyes are much stronger and keener than mine, I knew she was right. It was connected. This explains why it was “floating” for so long.

Now I had to reexamine my previous conclusion. Perhaps I was not just being carried by the Wind. Maybe I am being kept aloft by the most imperceptible of filaments: my tight circle of friends who love me. These wonderful beings are calling me, writing me, and checking in on me to see how I am doing. They are sending funny lines, supportive messages, flowers, cards, and lots of love my way. This is my lifeline. These are my spider-web unbreakable ties holding me up until I can find my way to float safely home.

The Aretha Franklin Effect

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When Aretha Franklin died last week, it stopped me in my tracks, and made me think about the Effect that her music had on me since 1967. When I purchased the album “I Never Loved A Man The Way I Love You”, I was just 16 years old. As I listened to track after track, I was mesmerized by something; I was, in hindsight, too young to completely understand what I was hearing, but I knew there was something in that voice, those lyrics, and those melodies.

I played the album over and over again until it became scratchy and flawed from use. I could not get enough of that combination of angst, sorrow, heartache, resignation, and sarcasm in songs like “I Never Loved A Man”,” “Don’t Let Me Lose This Dream”, and “Baby, Baby, Baby”. There was also another set of feeling and sentiments that arose with the iconic “Respect”. Even though I had no romantic experience to my credit at that time, I felt a connection to Aretha when she told her man what she wanted and needed from him. All of it was powerful and earth-shattering, and I wanted whatever that was!

When I reflect on how many of her songs were part of the soundtrack of my young adult years, the songs seem like a collection of the long-kept letters of a sister, cousin, aunt, or close friend. The letters that are bundled in my den closet, ready to be re-read at a moment’s notice. When I listen to these tunes now, they bring back memories, happy and sad, of another place and time; a time when I was learning about heartbreak, the joys of first love, the sorrow of permanent loss. The Aretha Effect is one of the companionship of fellow sufferers, the elation of sharing newfound freedoms and empowerment, and the bond of sisterhood that makes all women connected.

Merriam Webster defines “soul” as: “A strong positive feeling, as of intense sensitivity and emotional fervor”. So that’s what it was I was hearing and feeling way back in 1967. No wonder I wanted IN.

Thank you, Aretha, Queen of Soul, for bringing me your great gifts of creativity, passion, and love through your Music. You’ll always have quite an Effect on me.

Division and Subtraction

103_5027It is the Fourth of July, 2018. As I sit in my office and look out at the peaceful and idyllic setting that is my back yard, I am conflicted today. Should I in any way acknowledge or “celebrate” this anniversary of our Country’s birth? I don’t feel very much like waving a flag or watching a parade today. It feels, somehow, so hypocritical to do anything “patriotic”, when there is so much division and strife all over America.

Yet, there are tugs at my heart when I think of the brave people, including my own family members, who have served in the Armed Forces to preserve the Freedoms that we would celebrate today. Am I dishonoring their sacrifices? Am I forgetting all that has gone before because of the train wreck that I am watching today?

In 1776, when this Country’s Independence was at stake, my British ancestors had left for Nova Scotia, being Loyalists to George III, and my Italian and Irish ancestors were not here yet. In subsequent wars, my relatives fought to defend their adopted homeland. They came here seeking refuge from poverty, starvation, and discrimination. They worked hard, raised their children, and made this Country stronger and better by being good citizens and contributing their talents and skills to the workforce and the communities in which they lived. All were Immigrants and Refugees in the purest sense.

So, my DNA is part of that complicated woven fabric that has created a garment we call the United States. It has flaws in its warp and woof; but it has remained intact enough to still be worn, holes and all.

The kind of tearing apart this garment is undergoing today may take away important components of the whole piece. Can we still wear this coat of many colors  with dignity? Or will the ripping make it so torn and tattered that we can no longer even tell what it was? I am not certain. But I do know that I feel very disheartened and sad for our Country. Maybe I am, despite my Tory heritage, a Patriot after all.

 

 

What? Me Worry?

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The other afternoon I was sitting on my couch in the living room, when my peripheral vision picked up a young couple walking down my street. Since it is February, they were bundled up in winter gear and walking slowly on the icy street. I noticed the man had a baby carrier strapped to him and I saw a tiny head leaning forward out of its front.

I immediately started worrying about the baby. With my Generalized Anxiety Disorder and neurotic fears on so many levels, I would never have carried my daughter or any child in one of those carriers. Or a backpack. Or any other unsafe device. I thought about how very, very different people are wired: how their nervous systems are set up to allow such (in my opinion) terribly unsafe situations for their children. Yet, here they were: calmly strolling down the street.

I thought about every possible negative scenario. What if he slips on the ice and falls forward on the baby? What if the baby somehow slips out of the carrier? I went on for a few minutes, and then was diverted back to the  You Tube video I had been watching.

Now sometimes the Universe gives us messages. We do need to pay attention to get their full meaning, but I really believe the messages are there.

I wish very hard every day that I could stop worrying. I wish I did not have anxiety issues that prevent me from doing things, and cause me uncounted hours of unnecessary agitation and fear. But, I have come with this wiring, and all I can do is try each day to overcome it as much as possible.

As I continued to think about the young couple, a few minutes later they reappeared heading back home. I looked out at them again, and saw that the “baby” in the carrier was, in fact, a cat. I had been worrying about their cat.

Now it is my understanding that most cats, if they take a fall, will land on their feet. So, no need to worry even if Kitty had slipped out. I think I need to work harder on letting go of my fear and anxiety. Pretty funny, huh? Message received.

 

 

Frozen

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We just had a storm that ended in a freezing rain which coated everything outside. I look out my windows upon a world that is Frozen: encased in a silvery wrap of ice. It’s lovely, but difficult to navigate. Just like the Holidays.

This year has been a tough one. I have said it before, and it bears repeating. I, like many of my friends, have been having a hard time getting into the Christmas Spirit. The list of reasons is too long, (mine includes losing my Mom, getting diagnosed with an illness, and adjusting to the “new normal” of that diagnosis) but you know how hard the daily infusion of bad news is for the minds and souls of each of us. Enough said.

The thing about Holidays, is that many of us carry the “Hallmark Card” syndrome within us. We believe, deep down, that the images of perfectly happy families and cheerful celebrations among totally functional groups of relatives are Real, and we should be a part of those images, which are Frozen within our consciousness. We should be singing Carols, drinking festive punch, greeting guests at the wreath-laden doors of our homes, and sharing special intimate moments with our partners.

Well, Virginia, there may be a Santa Claus, but a lot of the rest of this stuff is Madison Avenue humbug! No, I am not Ebenezer; I just think we’ve been sold so much that pressures us each Holiday into thinking no matter how many blessings we have, it is never enough. We are stuck with goals that are unrealistic and that make us, in the end, feel sad and guilty and exhausted.

The first thing we need to do is let ourselves off the hook. If your Christmas doesn’t look like the final scene of “It’s a Wonderful Life”, it’s all right: hardly anyone’s Christmas looks like that. We are imperfect creatures and that’s okay, too. I think the Person whose Birthday we celebrate had a few things to say about that subject; we are bound to fail as part of the deal of being humans. So take a breath, and have a sugar cookie.

As the Grinch found out, Christmas will come without the presents and bells and pantookas. It will come anyway. It may find you sad or tired or depressed or sullen. But it will find you. If you decide to make it welcome, your Season will be happier and less stressful.

Some of my friends are sad because of the loss of a loved one this year, and some are sad because they feel the accumulation of too much loss over the past years. Some are lonely, living lives without the comfort of a significant Other or family to share the Season. Some are sick, and struggling with just getting through another day, much less a Holiday. But for whatever reason, their sadness seems magnified by the Hallmark reminder of all they don’t have. All of these are valid reasons to feel like you don’t want any part of Christmas, and it should just go away.

However, I am here to tell you that we can enjoy this time if we want. We just need to let ourselves appreciate the little things that come our way, and forget all the Frozen pressures we keep carrying around. I am telling you this, dear Reader, because I need to tell myself these things and remind myself to look outside that commercial box so beautifully wrapped. I need to make a short list of real blessings, and stop there.

So, here it is.

  1. I am healthy enough to enjoy writing, talking with friends, listening to music, watching Christmas movies, hugging my dog, laughing at myself, and eating good food.
  2. I have lots of brilliant, witty, talented, compassionate, and loyal friends.
  3. My Family loves me.
  4. I am insatiably curious, and still interested in making each day better than the day before.
  5. I live in a place where I am free to speak my mind, make my own decisions, and feel safe in my own home.

I am going to refer to this list frequently so that I can remember what is important. I am going to allow only happy memories to flood me as Christmas Day approaches. And, as always, I am going to pray for the World to Give Peace a Chance.