Saturday, December 31, 2016

Turning corners

Well you know you've turned a corner in your journey when, instead of feeling abandoned and sad about being alone, you begin to appreciate your new found freedom and space. Here are a few of the things I've been enjoying these past few weeks:

1. I love deciding what to watch on TV and not having to think about anybody else's desires
2. I've expanded my space considerably into empty closet and drawer space. I know I need to clean stuff out, but when there's so much room, why bother?
3. I love eating when, what, and how I feel like it. I could have a snack at 4pm and that could be it for the night. So much easier on my diet.
4. I'm beginning to enjoy the freedom to come and go as I please without checking in with anyone else. Now sometimes that makes me sad because it seems as though no one else really cares about where I am or what I'm doing, but then I remind myself that before, when I was living a fantasy life, no one really cared either. It was more of a courtesy on my part. I just didn't realize it at the time.
5. I'm enjoying the ability to be slow about putting things away and picking up around the house. With two people in a space it seemed more important to put shoes away, for instance, rather than let someone trip over them. Since I remember where they are and won't trip over them, I can leave them in the same place and not put them away for hours if I please.

Of course there are many more instances of the little things that make life different, but not necessarily bad. I do see the negative since to these things because, after all, accountability does make us more civilized and thinking about someone else's needs is not a bad thing! It helps us be less self-absorbed, or so it should. I'm not sure that was true with my other half, but it was for me in any case.

So there are some things I simply won't allow myself to do. I always make my bed in the morning so I feel better about coming to my room at night. I refuse to leave my coat on a chair overnight - it has to go in the closet. Because I truly do not want to become a complete Neanderthal. But sometimes, a little bit of non-accountability is not a bad thing...

Friday, December 30, 2016

Wet/gray

It was a dark, wet, gray day yesterday and I admit I wish it had been snow instead of rain. I didn't have nothing pressing on my schedule other than running some errands like the dump and the pharmacy, which I was able to do in the morning before the rain came down, so I was happy to stay at home the rest of the day, doing some binge TV watching and knitting on a project I'm anxious to get done.

I find as long as I'm doing something productive I don't feel guilty taking an easy day. As I was knitting I was also working on something in the kitchen for New Year's Eve, so I felt quite happy to be accomplishing things while still staying home and spending a good deal of time on the couch. Usually those kinds of days are snow days. This was a bit different, listening the the calming sound of rain hitting the windows right behind my head, and I liked it.

Perhaps this is a sign of my age - the age when most people retire and spend much of their time like that. Or perhaps it was simply the sign of a tired lady who's been busy with the holidays and happy for a break from all that. I'm either case I was feeling my age. I don't mind it, I embrace it. But I also find some level of consternation in it. After all, I'm not the type to sit all that much and were that to be my entire future I'm not sure I could bear it. But I don't think it is. And once this weather passes and I'm done with my easy day, I rather thing I'll be up and out in no time, once again clamoring around from one activity to another, happily keeping busy and feeling as though I have purpose in the world.

So yesterday I simply let it happen. I cooked, I knit, I watched, and I rested. And it all seemed very, very nice.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Adjustments

I've been making a lot of adjustments to my life based on my new reality and now that the holidays are pretty much over those adjustments continue. With a new year coming on quickly I feel as though I am ready to make all the changes needed to become as independent as I need to be and will be able to find contentment in my new life. Its not the life I ever imagined for myself, but I need to accept it since its been handed to me on a nice big silver platter. There's not a thing I can do to change it, so I need to deal with it.

Its funny how we think we know what our life's trajectory will be. I figured I would live out my life here as a married woman, or perhaps a widow, somewhat comfortable in the home I've created and secure in the finances we worked hard to secure. But when life throws you this kind of a curve ball everything is suddenly in question and one needs to alter both perceptions and plans to meet the need. I never expected that everything would be pulled out from under me, and that's been a difficult thing to come to terms with. When everything in your life comes into question, including your memories and the times you thought were happy, it shakes you for sure. Nothing seems real anymore and I find myself questioning everything I thought I knew and everything I counted on as truth. It has taken me down to the absolute base of my existence and I am re-thinking everything, from my own self-awareness to my ideas about life in general and what it is we're meant to be doing here. I haven't had any great awakenings in that area, but I do know that the only constant I trust in now is God and I lean on that for my strength when I feel weakest.

Nothing we do can ever prepare us for the kind of betrayal I've experienced. It goes against everything you were taught growing up, like treating other people the way you want to be treated - the golden rule and all that. Sometimes despite our own good intentions and pure actions, others can treat you badly and your kindnesses may never be returned to you. That's a tough lesson to learn and I wish I had better prepared my own children for the reality of it, because I certainly wasn't prepared.

But I have learned a lot about evil in the world and the willingness of others to be the conduit for that evil. I'm not the Pollyanna I used to be and I don't see the world through rose-colored glasses the way I used to. My biggest challenge now is not to allow myself to become tainted and bitter. Because that's NOT a lesson I want my children to learn.

With a new year facing me I'm making my own resolutions, which is not something I normally do.  But I do want to make myself less vulnerable, wiser and less trusting, but also more inclined to see the good in people. Because I realize now that not everything that looks good is, and not everything that looks bad is either. Hopefully I'll remain innocent enough to believe the good in people but not foolish enough to ignore the bad. Not every again. Ever.
 

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Empty

Today my visiting family leaves here and the house will be empty again.

There is only one cure for an empty house and that is staying busy. I'm planning a lunch date, some shopping trips, and probably some housework just to stay as busy as I need to be to forget how lonely this house has become. I could have traveled with them back to their home out of state, but I knew it was important for me to learn to adjust to the changes I'm facing, so I decided to stay for now. I'll drive myself in a couple weeks to see them, which forces me to do two things I don't want to do: be here alone now, and drive through NYC again. I dread it all, but I'm determined. There are times when one's stubbornness does come in handy and serve us well. In my case that's right now.

I'm thankful for a new year coming up. There's freedom in a blank calendar. And there's hope in new months ahead. I know that 2017 will be a better year for me than 2016 was. I'm counting on it.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Mild

The weather has been nice and mild over this holiday which is great for those traveling, although I think in other parts of the country not so much. I understand in the midwest there were storms which will no doubt be here soon enough, but hopefully not affecting my family as they head back to PA or to visit relatives not yet seen.

This was a wonderful Christmas for me. Funny to say that because it was sad in so many ways, but I enjoyed it for the most part. Of course I was well aware of the missing elements in my life and I did miss being with the person I love, the one I've spent the past 44 Christmases celebrating. But I was surrounded by other people I love and there was lots of activity in and around my house to keep me preoccupied and distracted. It was only in the hours of darkness that I had time to think about loss and change. I tried to focus on the great life I had, so many years of happiness, but with all that in question now its hard to do. Sadly, many of my memories are tainted now, full of questions and lacking answers. So I need to begin making new memories, and this was a good start.

Holidays are about family and if we don't have family, we make it. Fortunately for me I do have family - lots of it. So between them and the good friends in my life I know I'll have many good memories ahead of me.

It doesn't quite make up for the ones that are lost now, but it helps a whole lot. And that's plenty to be thankful for.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Afterglow

And now its the day after and the warm and fuzzy feelings are still alive in my heart. Church, family time, grandchildren, laughter, and lots of love are the things that keep me fully immersed in the glow of Christmas today.

Oh there is plenty to do today. I need to clean up from the chaos and make a trip to the dump (if they're open) to get rid of all the trappings. I need to plan out my week now as company stays until Wednesday and then I have things to do around the house. I will take advantage of the slow week and start the laborious job of cleaning my closet out since I have lots and lots of clothes to get rid of. Losing weight makes for full closets and its time to empty them again! I've been squeezing things in and now I need to get rid of the old and make space for the new so I'm not causing wrinkles in everything because of overstuffing spaces. I need room to breathe. I need to air out my closet, and my life, and begin the process of freeing up my space and my heart and making room for newer, better things. Its a new year coming and I'm getting ready.

Today I'll stay in the warmth of the afterglow but tomorrow, we start over. There's nothing like a new year dawning to get us into gear. And I am so ready.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Christmas 2016

   Merry Christmas One and All - and God Bless Us, Everyone!!! 

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Christmas Eve

I've been looking forward to Christmas Eve for days now, knowing it meant the fun would begin. The family arrives, the parties will commence, and no one has to think about the real world and all its issues for at least the next few days. With most people having Monday off, it makes for a very nice long holiday weekend.

Today we'll gather at my daughter's house for brunch, which will, no doubt, stretch into the afternoon nicely. We'll go to church tonight at 5, and then perhaps make the drive to Sag Harbor to see some family over there. I have no plans to end my life the way Jacob Marley did, wishing I hadn't wasted time and regretting things undone. I am going to treasure every second of it all.

Tomorrow we'll go to church again and then come here for a long day of celebrating and opening gifts. The kids will make it a special occasion, as they always do.

It will be difficult when the holidays are over because I'll be alone again and those are the times your thoughts can be intrusive. But I'm also determined. Determined to make a new life, to be happy, and to move forward. Life is too short not to enjoy. And so I will

Friday, December 23, 2016

Making merry

I'm realizing now how much of our sense of well-being and happiness lies within ourselves. I've always known that we choose how we feel in many ways, but now more than ever I see how determination and choice make all the difference in our lives. Because I'm actually looking forward to Christmas now.

For months I've been dreading the holidays. I didn't want to be alone, I didn't want to be reminded that rejection and pain have been my daily companions for six months now. And I didn't want to feel that sense of loss that is so real when someone you love lets you know your feelings were not returned to you. I didn't want to face the reality of my new life and the holidays would make me do it. I really didn't want it.

But clearly, with the passage of time, and the support of the people who do love me, I've been able to come to a place of peace with my life now, and I'm cautiously optimistic that this holiday season is going to be one of more joy than sadness.

I can't wait for the family to gather on Sunday, reminding me that I have so many people in my life that love me. I can't wait to go to church Sunday morning and be reminded that God is in control, that He loves me completely, and that He also has good thing in store for me in the weeks and months ahead.

None of us knows how long we'll be in this earth, and at my age we certainly are aware of our shortening time here. It's precious and its worth enjoying. And I plan to do just that. No more tears and no more desperation. I may not be ending my life the way I expected to, but that doesn't mean it has to be a sad ending. Its up to me to make it a happy one. And that's what I plan on doing.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Me time

Today I'm doing things for myself. I'm relaxing this morning, maybe going out for a few stocking stuffers, putting gifts under the tree, going out to lunch, and just enjoying "me time". Its the end of an era for me, moving from a long-time relationship that I expected to last forever into a time of taking care of myself and the people I love. And its a good thing.

I have only a few tins of goodies to deliver before the final days wind down and I'll do that today and tomorrow. And Saturday when the family is all together I'll find great joy in my many blessings. It will be easy to forget about the hardships and pain this past year has brought because I'll be spending time with the people who really count, doing the thing I most love. There will be no time for sadness - that much I know.

I'm hoping all the people I love find joy this holiday because its been a hard year on all of them too. But hopefully, when they see me moving on, they'll be able to do the same. That's my prayer for the new year. And for the holidays.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Done

Today is my final entertaining day - I have an annual luncheon here for some colleages (i.e. friends) from work and that's the last thing on my "to-do" list. By 9:00 this morning I had been to two grocery stores and attended a board meeting and now I'm home finishing up the preparations for lunch. I'm organized enough to take a break and blog, and feel the day will go quickly. Tonight I have one enjoyable concert to attend and then - done!

I enjoy all the busyness of the holidays and, especially this year, I find it part of the celebration. I love being with friends, I love entertaining, and I love all the baking and gift giving that go along with it. In the next two days I'll deliver a few packages of baked goods or candy, get my packages tagged, and get the house ready for company as my daughter and her family arrive on Saturday. The days that follow will be joy-filled and I am more optimistic about my life and my circumstances than I ever have been - or at least in the past six months. That's a good feeling.

I'm hoping everyone is as content as I am right now. It hasn't been an easy road to get to this place. But sometimes the best victories are the most hard-won.


Tuesday, December 20, 2016

All is calm

I think I've found a new sense of calm in my life, and I'm really enjoying the move to this new place.

For so many months now I've been in turmoil, emotionally up and down, knots in my stomach half of the time, and having no idea where my life is headed, which is fine when you're twenty but at my age its pretty unsettling after a lifetime of planning and trying to be prepared for the end and what it will being. So its been a really difficult year for me.

But I am feeling much more focused now. I feel as though I've gotten some pretty clear signals from the unknown areas of my life and I'm accepting the realization of what's to be. With the strong support of my family and friends I'm beginning to see the other side of this quagmire and truly feeling optimistic and looking forward to what's to come. It hasn't been easy.

I know there'll still be rocky days ahead and I know I'm not over my grieving process, but I also know the worst is over, hopefully. And that's a great feeling.

I also know I'm a strong woman and I will come out of this a stronger, smarter, more independent person than I've ever been. It's not the ending I would have chosen for my life, but the realization that what I thought I knew and what I depended on wasn't even real, has helped me come to this place. I'm hoping the final chapter of my life will be more about truth, and finding my authentic self, and that's something to look forward to.

This week, as we head into Christmas which is all about hope and peace, I think I'm really there.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Countdown

So I have my list for today, but I don't feel particularly pressured to get the things on it accomplished. I need to check a few things off the list at least, but whatever I don't get done today,. I'll get done tomorrow. Because this week is all about easing in to the big weekend...gently.

Most of the pressure is off. The shopping is done, the menus are planned, the grocery list is complied - I just need to take my time every day, slowly crossing things off that list and making sure I take the time to enjoy the many things the holidays bring. I want to take a drive some night to see the lights around town, in the places I haven't been this month. There are streets I've yet to drive down and I want to see what those homeowners have to offer.

I want to leisurely shop and enjoy the special things the local stores are offering. There will be things at the grocery store never to be seen again until next Christmas. And sales to enjoy if I take the time to walk around and look. I won't join crowds anywhere, but in town it will be easy to look around.

I'll be making some candy because what I've already made is long gone already and I still have friends to gift. Candy is the perfect thing, neatly tied up in glassine bags with red ribbon and a tag. My friends have been wonderful to me this year and I want them all to know how much I love them for it.

I will certainly drop in on a few special people to say hello and offer a hug. Because that's what we do when we hope for the best for the people we love.

This is going to be a great week. I am totally looking forward to it.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Seasonal

This weekend has been one of seasonal busyness. I've had shopping, parties, cooking, family - all the things you have during the holidays. Its expected, its frantic, and its fun.

Now, for a couple days at least, I have a nice slow and easy schedule. I need to shop for stocking stuffers. I need to pick up a couple last-minute gift cards. And I need to get the wrapped gifts out of the attic and get them tagged and under the tree. I have one more day of entertaining - a luncheon for the special people who help me out at village hall every day of the year - and one more shopping trip - and I am totally done. Its not too much for this week, which is going to lead in to the weekend, which is when the best memories and the most love is going to happen.

I think this is one of my favorite weeks of the year, followed quickly by next week. Because this week the anticipation is great and next week the warm glow of the weekend will keep me content until next year when we get to do it all again.

This will not be the easiest Christmas for me, but I am determined to make it a good one. Because I know that my blessings outweigh my hardships. And because I am so grateful for the baby born in Bethlehem that has made all the difference in my life. So bring on Christmas. I am ready.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Journey

The past six months of my life have indeed been a journey for me. To say I've become more self-aware would be a vast understatement. I've done more introspection and made more new discoveries about myself than I ever thought possible, especially at this age.

My weight loss has been only one piece of the journey, but it's opened up a window into my soul I haven't look into for a very long time. I am realizing now how much my own self-esteem and sense of self-worth has dictated how I look on the outside, and my new ability to see value and  meaning in my life has allowed me to really begin a healing journey that's been a long time coming. I can see how other people's actions and behavior toward me on the past twenty years have affected every part of who I am, including my physical being.And it makes me sad to think other people had that kind of power over me, but glad I can finally see it.

A couple weeks ago I heard a quote that was so profound that I had to immediately look it up and verify what I had heard. Then I printed it out to hang by my desktop computer where I often put Bible verses or other quotations that touch my heart and need to be part of my awareness, always. It was written by a Greek poet from hundreds of years ago by the name of Aeschylus. And this is what he said:

And even in our sleep, pain which cannot forget falls down drop by drop upon the heart, until in our own despair against our will comes wisdom through the awful grace of God.

And that grace, and wisdom, such an amazing gift from God, is what sustains me and what I am so grateful for right now at this pivotal point in my life. At my age. Who'd 'a thought???

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Concerts

Last night I attended my grandson's music concert at the Middle School. It brought back a lot of memories.

I was
trying to figure out how many programs of all sorts I have attended in that auditorium over the years. I can't even count there are so many. Of course for me that was the junior and senior high school and I attended there myself for six years. Then with four children of my own I spent many years at various school programs over the course of so many years, and now, with grandchildren, history is repeating itself again. The seats have changed - they're gray now instead of the spring green they were for far too long - but everything else is about the same. Now coats of paint and new stage curtains but otherwise, I could walk back stage, go into the music room, and probably pick out my old instrument locker.

There's something wonderful about spending your entire life in the same little town. There were names in the printed program that were very familiar. Were they grandchildren of my classmates? I looked around to see if there were familiar faces. There were some but not from that long ago. Perhaps I wouldn't recognize them anyway after so many years.

It was a night of nostalgia and multiple flashbacks. Life is funny sometimes. I've thought so often lately about my past and wondered if I could go back and do things over what would I change? Being in that auditorium certainly made me ponder that again. And indeed, how would we change our lives if we were able?

An impossible question to answer. But my circumstances certainly bring out the thought.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Ice box

They're calling for really frigid temperatures beginning later today. Now that's something to look forward to!

So far its been a nice mild winter but as we all know, that must end at some point and I guess this is it. We'll soldier on though and get through these icy, windy, snowy days and just do what we've always done: knit, read, bundle up, and wear our boots. Its not the end of the world.

I'm actually looking forward to a little snow Friday night. "Little" is the key word there! I enjoy a covering on everything because it gives the winter world a feeling of magic. Strange shapes take place as upside down planters, summer furniture, and all manner of outdoor plantings take on different forms. I love guessing what's underneath some of the mounds that appear after a fresh snow. And nothing is prettier than that white blanket that makes the outdoors look like a page out of The Chronicles of Narnia. I love it.

I don't like shoveling and I don't like driving in it, although I can do both and dealing with a little snow doesn't keep me at home. I can only knit for so long and then the cabin fever sets in. So I gladly pull on my boots and head out into the cold to do the things I want to do. My mother, Buffalo bred, would never abide by that! I think of her so much during the winter and smile at the memories she created on snow days. She was always the first to get her boots on when we were young and she loved to ice skate, so winter was all about fun for her.

SO today we enter the ice box for the weekend, and then next week things will be a bit more temperate. Fortunately where we are here on the East End, the ice box doesn't usually last too long.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Ice

This morning I got up early to head over to Southampton Hospital for my volunteer time only to be greeted with the news that one of my most feared occurrences might be in play: black ice.

Nothing scares me quite like the potential for black ice. I remember a late afternoon many years ago when we were returning from a family outing about 4:00 in the afternoon. I don't remember where we had been but we were coming from Southampton with all the kids in the car. Suddenly when we came around the corner just past Water Mill the traffic suddenly came to a crawl. We couldn't quite figure it out for a couple minutes, until we saw the first car go careening off to the shoulder. Then it became crystal clear: black ice. The entire roadway, which looked wet, had become suddenly a sheet of ice and traffic moved all the way into Bridgehampton at the rate of about 2 miles ah hour. Even at that speed there were cars off the road, turned around, slipping and sliding in every direction, and I was terrified. It was one of those things that happened so fast it was impossible for road crews to respond quickly enough.

We were lucky enough to get through that incident without a scratch but having the most precious cargo in my car made me terrified of crashing. I hope to never be in that position again, but I think about black ice many times when I head out early in the day before the sun has had a chance to wick off any moisture on the roads.

Winter is surely here now and all that goes along with it. Let's hope we survive it in one piece and remember that April is just around the corner.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Struggles

Yesterday, and Saturday for that matter, were both days of struggle for me. I keep thinking I'm making progress emotionally, and honestly I guess it is progress, just two steps forward and one step back all the time. So progress is v e r y slow.

I fully expect that family and friends are tired of my struggle. I try not to share it with too many people and most of the world thinks I'm doing well, so I'm happy to perpetuate that idea. And honestly I guess I am doing pretty well, but there is this impatient part of me that wants to feel normal again, and I'm coming to terms with the idea that "normal" will never be the same and I need to adjust to a new normal. Its just not one I'm too crazy about and I miss my old normal. Of course I know now that what my life used to be was not really normal anyway, but I thought it was and I was happy with it. What a mess my life has turned out to be.

So this is the new question I'm asking myself lately: Where do I want my new normal to go? And the follow-up questions: What do I want it to be like? Does it involve a move to a new community? Does it mean a new church? Will I be happier in another place where nobody knows me and I can begin a new journey? What would that look like if I did make a move? Is it only a matter of time or do I need a fresh start someplace else? Etc. etc...And finally, how do I get the answers to these questions?

I suppose the bigger issue is that no one has the answers to these questions and even if I made a decision it might be the wrong one. Clearly I'm not very good at making major life decisions so maybe I should just withdraw from the world and let decisions be made for me. I can honestly see why people do that. I understand a lot more about why people do the things they do now, that's for sure! But ultimately, that's not me. I'm a control freak, which is part of the problem lol!

I know that happiness is a fleeting thing and we need to discover it within ourselves. I'm trying hard to do that. But during my life I've never been terribly happy with myself and all my happiness has come from outside sources. So the idea of looking within is foreign to me. And I think its not going to be all that easy.

Oh life. What an unexpected turn you have taken.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Carols

Today is the annual "Lessons and Carols" service at my church and I always look forward to it. The entire service is scripture lessons and Christmas songs, arranged to tell the story of Christ from prophesies to birth, and I enjoy it every year. One of the best parts is getting to sing Christmas carols.

Christmas carols are most enjoyable because they're only used once a year. Other hymns become more common as we bring them out at any old time, but the carols are only used in December and January and I think because of they we anticipate them more. I have my favorites, of course, and some are not the most popular ones. I'm the same way with the more secular songs, like "The Little Drummer Boy" which I detest but most people love. My own favorites are dear to me for different reasons like childhood memories or school concerts.

I have no idea what we'll be singing this year in the service because for the first time in many years I'm not participating in the choir, which I'm sad about but it was my choice. I just haven't felt ready yet to return to all my pre-trauma activities, especially those that remind me of the sadness I'm still trying to come to grips with. It may be the holidays but some things remain in a state of unhappiness and thus the days are not always easy. But today, singing the Christmas carols, will hopefully remind me of happier times when I was a child, singing in the tiny little church I attended in Southampton for so many years, singing with my parents and siblings in the pew and learning how to harmonize.

I am learning to pull memories from long ago to get me through. And today will be one of those times.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Sunny Saturday

Well its a beautiful sunny Saturday in December and as beautiful as it looks out there, it's very cold! Winter is surely upon us now.

I was inspired in fact. In my morning travels I wandered down to the Senior Complex in Amagansett where they were holding a craft type Christmas fair. A dear old friend was going to be there selling a book she and her son put together about her life growing up in Montauk back in the 1930s, and I wanted to support her and buy a copy for myself. My shopping is done for gifts but I can always shop for myself!

While I bought the book, ordered a beautiful print from her son of a haulseiner on the beach at sunrise, and then turned to walk out. Not wanting to insult the other people there selling their wares I slowly passed by their tables remarking on their lovely items, and then stopped in my tracks at a table selling knitted and felted things. I happen to adore felted hats. I own two and they are the most comfortable, warm winter hats you can buy. I had to try some on.

I went through the assortment fairly quickly, thinking I wouldn't find anything to fit my unusually large head, but sure enough, there were a few that did. I eliminated the ones that were too similar in color or style to the ones I already own, narrowing the field down to two, and finally chose a beautiful black one with a deep purple brim that will go nicely with many of the scarves that I have. I bought it.

I never expected to spend so much money and wish I had been disciplined enough to resist because I really can't afford such luxuries right now, but I walked out with a new hat for myself, thinking "Merry Christmas to me!"

I don't expect to be getting many gifts this year since my husband was always so generous at Christmas and that won't happen again, so I suppose it made me feel better buying it, knowing I need to take care of myself as well as the people I love. With no one to pull by the arm, drag to the table and say "I'd really love this hat" to anymore, I suppose its OK. But I still feel a little bit like I should have shown more restraint.

Oh well. By next Christmas I should be over that impulse. For this year, I'm just going with it!

Friday, December 9, 2016

December weekends

I find that the weekends in December are amazingly busy every year.

All I need to do is open the newspaper and there are at least a dozen things that I could do this weekend. When one has an already busy life, which I do, it becomes a challenge to make schedules for every day, and difficult to choose what direction to go. I want to see and do everything, every concert, every movie, every open house at every store - I really love this time of the year for the options offered all the time.

The frustrating thing is trying to decide what to do. Do I want to attend the concert in Sag Harbor, or one in Southampton? Would I rather listen to The Messiah or generic Christmas songs? Do I want to participate or sit back and enjoy the ride? There are way too many choices to make, and I want to do all of them. Every year I wish we could stretch out the holiday just a couple more weeks, which clearly the retailers are trying harder and harder to do, but with Thanksgiving coming first its hard to get into the Christmas spirit any earlier.

Well tomorrow night is a toss up. And while there are at least two events I very much want to attend, I don't drive well at night so driving to either Sag Harbor or Southampton is not a great idea. Being alone means having to make those kind of choices too. But I'm thinking I may just stay at home and do my annual viewing of my own favorite Christmas movie, "It's a Wonderful Life". I'm sure I can find it on Netflix or Amazon Prime. And its been such a busy week it might be nice to sit home in my pjs and just have a good cry.

Then again, tears have been way too common this year so maybe I should get in my car and head to Sag Harbor.

Oh, the choices we need to make....

Thursday, December 8, 2016

MIL

Today is the date my mother-in-law was born back in 1921. I named this blog "MIL" because apparently in this digital age of "texting short hand", that's the term for "mother-in-law". Sometimes I need to stop and figure these texting terms out because they're new to me, but this one I've got!

When I think about my parents, and my in-laws, I always think about the war. Of course that refers to WWII, which was always referred to by them as "the war" as though there was no other. It was the defining event of their generation, just as the unrest of the 1960s, the civil rights movement and Viet Nam, were of mine. I always watch any documentary or movie that highlights the 1940s with them in mind, knowing that those were their formative years as young adults, in the teens and twenties, watching the chaos in the world around them. Just like the '60s are impossible to imagine by my children, I'm sure the 40s are for me. But I try. Because I know those war years are what made my children's grandparents the people they were, for better or worse.

My mother-in-law was a practical, kind, spiritual, loving woman who raised her children with her heart and soul. She loved her family and she embraced strangers and friends alike. In her later years, when Alzheimer set in, she even brought strangers home with her for tea. She was easy to love.

Today, knowing the things I've learned this past year about her family and her life - things I had no clue about before - I respect her even more than I did before. Because now I know she had her struggles, her pain, and her sadness. But she never let those things effect the way she treated any of the people she loved. And that's an example I want to follow. Thanks Dot. Between you and my own mother, I have a very high bar to reach. But I shall continue to try.

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.