Wednesday, December 7, 2016

December 7th

If I'm not mistaken, today is Pearl Harbor Day. Of course I don't remember Pearl Harbor, but I certainly heard enough about it in my life since the generation just before me lived through it and it was still fresh in their minds. I've heard all the stories about where people where and what was going on and of course, about the aftermath. Similar to the stories I tell my own children about Viet Nam, or the day Kennedy was shot. Its passing down our own history as well as our nation's, letting our descendants know of the important place certain events had in our lives. We hope it helps them understand us - know us better - and we hope they learn from history.

I remember my grandfather talking about WWI in the same way, how we should never say unkind things about the Salvation Army because they were the ones on the front lines where he was, serving the men coffee and helping wherever they could. This while the USO was far behind them in safer places. He never forgot and neither have I. The Salvation Army is one the charities I always remember when I can. I do it for my grandfather and for the young man that he was all those years ago, being ministered to by angels in different uniforms.

So today we remember the events at Pearl Harbor that dragged us kicking and screaming into WWII.

And I also remember my brother's service during the Viet Nam years because he was stationed in Pearl Harbor and I was able to visit him there. I still remember the solemn boat ride out to the Arizona Memorial. There were no words spoken. It was something I remember to this day, each detail of the memorial, the ship clearly seen below the water's surface, the wall of names...quite a sobering thing for a then eighteen-year-old girl to experience.

I wish all eighteen-year-olds could experience those things. Pearl Harbor, Flanders Field, Arlington, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, the Viet Nam Memorial, etc. Because its only when we consider the cost of war that we know how we feel about it. Seeing all those crosses in so many cemeteries across Europe, with names and dates clearly announcing that all who lay under those crosses were barely adults at ages like 18 and 19. A heavy price indeed.

Today I'll think about Pearl Harbor. And that wall of names. And I'll pray.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Grief

I think the most difficult thing about grief is the fact that you can be rolling along, really doing well and not falling into the pit of it for weeks as time moves on, and then suddenly, BAM! Something happens and there you are back into the middle of it all again.

I remember an incident when I lost my mother ten years ago. She had been gone about a year and I honestly thought I was beyond the stage where something could suddenly and without warning trigger the tears. But there I was in the IGA when the person in front of me turned and saw me and said "Oh - hi - your mother was a lovely, lovely lady". I had no idea who this lady was and I was totally unprepared for my reaction. I swallowed hard, said "thank you", and hurried out of the store so I could cry in the safety of my car.

Something very similar happened to me yesterday and it took me with such deadly force and so suddenly that it took my breath away. Here I was working on weeks of calm, even emotions, not even being close to tears for so long, and something happened in the morning that set me on a journey that lasted throughout the day, including anger, tears, grief, and loneliness. It was shocking in its unexpected nature and I am still reeling from it.

Grief is for sure one of the most difficult of human emotions to navigate. It takes you from zero to  hundred in seconds and blindsides you with a ferocity that is unreal. I've only experienced this kind of grief twice before, and I shouldn't be taken by surprise this time around, but I am.

I guess its something we just never get used to.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Weeks

Many people dread Mondays and I understand that because it is the beginning of the work week. But I have to say that even when I worked a Monday-Friday job I always looked forward to Mondays. For me they represent new beginnings - a chance to start over again. And I love that.

I don't generally turn my calendar page until Sunday or Monday every week. And that's when I evaluate my week ahead, looking to see how busy it will be and planning my strategy for getting things done. I try to figure out which days I'll have free time for getting errands done, as well as working out the details in my head for every day's schedule as I'm often going from East Hampton to Southampton, and even to Sag Harbor all in the same day. I don't like to think things through too early because I need to keep my stress levels down to a level I can handle. This is how I manage my health lol!

So - today is the beginning of a new week. Some days are already pretty full but others are waiting for my attention. I think I should be able to finish my cookie baking this week as well as some candy making, so its a promising one for sure. And by this time next week I expect to feel pretty organized and ready for the holiday.

And that is always a really
good feeling.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Integrity

The other day I was reading a friend's blog and had a hard time swallowing what I thought was a pretty direct hit at me. I have always enjoyed his opinions and his writing style and often see things I agree or disagree with, but have never been upset at anything written before. This time I was. And that disturbed me. Not so much because of what he wrote as much as because of my reaction. Was his observation correct? Because I felt that it was a comment about my integrity and that's something I hold pretty dear. I feel as though I've spent my life  protecting my integrity so when it comes into question it becomes a real earth-shattering moment, right or wrong.

The line that hit me was this: "Yesterday I heard many say, I don't like it, I know its wrong, but it is the law. What does that say about their character?" And since I'm one of the people who said basically that, I took offense and stopped following their posts. And I could have argued the point further and explained my stand more clearly, but I decided to simply back away.

Which brings me to the issue of integrity. If one's integrity is called into question is it such a big deal? I mean, no one knows a person's heart or intention with the exception of the person them self. So why care? I mean, why should I care if someone thinks I'm not of good character? I guess the answer to that lies more in my upbringing than anything and that reflection reminded me of many things my mother said over the years of my youth. I remember this one: "When you are young, you make your reputation. When you are old, your reputation makes you!" And I also remember this one: "What price would it take for you to violate your integrity? Is your integrity worth lying for so you can save a few dollars on the price of admission?" (This was in response to the suggestion that I could say I was younger than I actually was to get in to a movie for a cheaper price.) The answer of course is no price would be worth it.

These are the kinds of things that stick with you for a lifetime and my mother's cautions come back to me time and again. I'm still struggling with the issue that forced this self-examination, and I'm still offended that my integrity and character were questioned because I think this person is wrong about that, but I'm happy to have the opportunity to think about these things. Because that's what ultimately makes us better people, isn't it?

Saturday, December 3, 2016

December weather

Generally speaking I love the weather in December. Today is cold but not freezing and so far at least, I've only worn a winter coat twice since the colder weather set in. I like that. My favorite times of the year are the ones where I can throw on a heavy sweater or light jacket with a pair of gloves and head out the door. Heavy winter coats with scarves and hats are a bother and I use them as little as possible, even in the coldest months.

I've gotten pretty good at judging the weather from the temperature I see on the television every day. When I get up for my walk at 5:30 I turn the TV on and see what it shows. As long as its in the 50s I settle on the lightest work-out jacket in my arsenal. When it dips into 40s the lightweight sweatshirt comes out. Once its down to the 30s the heavy weight sweatshirt is pulled from the closet and I add gloves and a headband to cover my ears. Its down to a science now. And with the exception of wind, I know exactly how to bundle up against the cold. Of course the wind adds a whole other dimension and that's another story.

So far no measurable snow has fallen on the East End and I'm happy with that too. I do look forward to the first pretty snowfall, but I don't want to see a lot of the white stuff, especially this year when I'm on my own in terms of shoveling and clearing. This I am not excited about at all.

But today, and November and December so far, have been delightful. I'm hoping to get through the holidays exactly like this.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

December

Well here it is, already December, and I'm thinking it came pretty quickly this year. As difficult as the past five months have been, they have gone quickly by, as time seems to do more quickly the older I get.

This will be a busy month. I know I have things booked for every single weekend and I plan to keep busy out of defense as much as anything else. If there's an opportunity to do something, I'll be doing it. If there's time to go to a show, or concert, or opening, I'm going. I need and want to be as busy as I possibly can to make the time go as quickly as possible. Its the best thing I can do for myself right now.

I wish so much that my mother was still alive because I would love to be taking her to all the things I'll be doing. I know I was too busy when she needed me the most and now I wish I had some of that time back again. Isn't it odd how the times we have extra hours to spend with someone they aren't there, and the times they're there we have no time? Its one of the ironies of life I suppose. But still, she could still be alive at 91 and I sometimes resent that we had to lose her so early. These would be good times spent together...if only.... We would both be benefiting from it.

But as with so many things, life is not what we would always want it to be. Its a challenge for sure and a puzzle as well. I have so many questions to ask God when and if I ever get the chance.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Enough

Well I must say I'm totally on schedule for the holidays so far. I've purchased and wrapped all the gifts, the decorations are up, I've mailed out my Christmas cards, and I've started baking Christmas cookies. I'd say that since its not even December yet I'm doing pretty well.

And yet - I'm always at this place on this date and somehow the panic still sets in at the last minute, every single year. Suddenly Christmas will be two days away and I'll be stressing about whether I've forgotten anyone, if everything is wrapped and ready, if I've picked up enough stocking stuffers, even if I have enough food in the house for the family that will be here. For whatever reason I worry too much about being organized enough, being prepared enough, basically just being "enough". And I think that's really what it boils down to at the end of the day. I wonder if I'm ever enough.


And this is the biggest concern I have for myself during this unsettled period in my life. I worry that my sense of self will be damaged beyond repair and I'll never again feel as though I get close to being "enough". Its something I've been striving for all these 64 years, and I still haven't quite gotten there, and now...well let's just say I've taken a major step backwards in the process.

So during these next few weeks, when I'm keeping myself busy and trying to get everything done on my multiple lists of things, I'm going to be stressing about meeting my own expectations as well as those of the people around me. Because I have always been, and will always be, my own worst enemy in that area. And the holidays, when I want everything to be perfect, are an invitation to failure. Recognizing that is the first step. Perhaps this year I'll finally realize that I am enough. And if anyone, including myself, doesn't get that, well too bad.