Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Purpose

I've been thinking a lot lately about the purpose of my life.

I know that the doctrine of the church says our purpose is to worship God, basically. But I think it must go beyond that. If that were our only purpose here we could just spend all our time on prayer and meditation and not much would be accomplished on earth. I think God gave us talents and abilities for a reason and its that reason that I wonder about.

I think especially when something as traumatic as my own circumstances occur in one's life, you question your purpose. What's it all about? Why do these things happen? I mean, if I had a purpose, and if I was sincerely attempting to fulfill that purpose, why would someone else be able to come in and completely destroy whatever you had done, or whatever your purpose was? It happens all the time - people are killed, disabled, prevented from completing their tasks on earth. And there is so much unfulfilled promise in so many people. Why?

Of course, these are deep theological questions for people more intelligent than I to answer. I have the questions - I don't have the answers. But I do know I've had to boil my life down to see what, if anything, I have accomplished that I could look at and think "Well - at least he didn't destroy that!" Its not easy to come up with an answer as I feel as though everything I've done in the past 40+ years has been untrue, not real. So I'm hanging my hat on this: perhaps one of my grandchildren, or great grandchildren, will be a great leader some day who will help the world in ways I cannot even imagine at this point. Sorry of like the "terminator" movies, right? I will never see what my purpose was, and I may never understand why the good I've tried to do has been ruined, but I can hold on to the hope that sometime in the future my life may have meaning for what it produced, even if I'm unaware of it all. It's all I have at this time, so I'll have to take it.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Lunch

One of my favorite scenes in "Blue Bloods" television show every week is the extended family sitting around the dining room table. I think because it reminds me of my own family ritual of getting together for "Sunday lunch" throughout the winter months.

My mother started the tradition years ago, having everyone come after church for lunch together. She did all the work and loved getting everyone together. In retrospect it was a great gift to all of us - one of her legacies really - because it taught us the value in touching base with family members on a regular basis. In this day and age its way too easy to go for many weeks without seeing the people who are really the most important part of your "community". We were able to watch each other's children grow, know who they were, enjoy their talents and personalities, and we also grew with each other, siblings becoming new people as we matured and learned from the world and each other. It was something I really treasure.

Since my mother left the earth we have tried to keep the tradition alive, although not quite in the same form. We take the summers off (with the exception of special occasions) and only get together every other week now, but it still is one of the best things about any weekend for me. I know I would rarely see some of these folks were it not for this effort, and they are too important not to stay connected to. They are my history and my touchstone. They help me keep my bearings and remember where I came from.

Just as in "Blue Bloods" we have our lively discussions and disagreements, but we love each other and at the end of the day that's all that really matters. I wish we could all fit around the same table the way the Reagans can, but at least we're all under the same roof, literally and figuratively.

I love Sunday lunch

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Lifted

Yesterday dawned sunny and bright out in the world here on the East End and that certainly helped set the tone for me for the weekend. Despite my empty days, having the sun shine makes it all seem better! That and the fact that I had an evening with friends last night, and another on tap for tonight, and Sunday lunch with my extended family here tomorrow makes this particular weekend seem more tolerable for sure. Our friends and family get us through, don't they?

Another great boost to my self-esteem came in an unexpected form on Friday night. As I think I've already talked about in my blogs, I've been working in the artist studio with my friend and mentor, learning to use the medium of glass fusing to create wonderful pieces of art. Its been over a year working with her and, this past seven months especially, its been therapeutic to say the least. Well in January my friend urged me to join some of the artist groups here on the East End, and last night there was a members' exhibition in Riverhead for one of them. I submitted a piece with trepidation, not feeling quite as "legitimate" an artist as those others who were no doubt doing so. Last night was the opening reception for the exhibition and I had a conflict and couldn't attend, but about 6:00 I received a text from my friend who was there with a photo of my piece on the wall and the message "The red dot means sold!".

Seriously? Seriously! I was over the moon to think that someone would consider my work "art" and actually want to buy it. I floated through my evening and still am feeling that sense of wonder at it all. I guess I can actually refer to myself as an artist now that I've sold a piece. Wow. A lift of my spirits, and a new life indeed...

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Saturdays

My Saturdays have changed so much in the past six months that I rather dread them now. They are days full of work and loneliness for the most part.

For all my life I've looked forward to Saturdays. I loved having kids home from school. I liked doing fun things with them when they were young. Early on my husband worked on Saturdays, but by the time we'd been married 10 years he changed careers and had weekends off so Saturdays became even more fun. We worked around the house in the morning, getting cleaning and house jobs done, so the afternoons were free for other things. During many years that meant high school football games or  some other school based event that the kids wanted to attend or were involved in. And even in the later years when the kids were no longer here, we found things to do together on Saturdays, which were our only days with only each other. I loved that. And I miss it now.

I think one of the things I most miss is the future that isn't to be now. I was very much looking forward to my husband retiring soon, going part time this past fall and eventually being completely retired once SS was available. I had so many plans for our new found time together - weekend trips to various places, projects to do together, and just more time to do the things we enjoyed. That's all gone now and Saturdays remind me of the loss. I think that's why I don't like to even get out of bed on Saturdays anymore.

Some Saturdays I lie in bed thinking about the empty day ahead, with no meetings to go to and no one to need me, and I wish I could just sleep the day away. Its hard to motivate yourself when you don't feel necessary in the grand scheme of things. And Saturdays make me feel that way.

I'm hoping to one day have more purpose to my weekends, because even Sundays can be lonely for me now. It makes me want to travel just to get away from this empty house, but I don't see that as an option in the near future. Besides, what fun is that with no one to share the adventures?

I was not meant to be alone, I know that. But its my reality now and I need to adjust to it. Perhaps being alone wouldn't be as difficult if I had good memories to keep me company, but even those are gone now. And knowing that life will forever now be solitary (and lonely) for me is hard. For the most part I think I've adjusted really well. And I'm happy most of the time. But then....along comes Saturday...

Friday, January 27, 2017

Bittersweet

Almost three years ago now I lost my best friend to cancer. And my life was changed dramatically.

I know now that, beside my mother, she was the only real accepting person in my life. She took me just as I was, warts and all, and loved me for who that person was. She was a "soft place to fall" as Dr. Phil says - and the only one I had after my mother died. (I used to think I had my husband for that but now realize I never did, so once she was gone I was on my own. I just didn't realize it until recently!)

Anyway - her son just had his third baby - a little girl named Catherine Anne. I am overjoyed for them (they already had two boys!) but it is a bittersweet moment for me. Its the first grandchild that my dear friend will never meet. At least on this side of heaven.

It makes me teary to think about this unfair part of life and I wish it were different. Our grandchildren are what give us joy and purpose in our later years, just as our children did before them. I know my friend would have doted over this little girl, just as she did over her other grandchildren. They were the love of her life, just as mine own are for me. My heart aches for her never getting to hold this baby and I know I will fight tears the first time I meet her myself. I'll be admiring the baby, and telling her parents how beautiful she is, but I'll be thinking about my friend and missing her. And wishing she could be here to lavish love on this little one.

I may never have another person in my life that cares about me the way that she did, or that I could trust the way I could her. But I can do my best with my own life now and make sure I never, for a single moment, take for granted the gift of life that I have and the opportunities I have to love and cherish my own children and grandchildren. I truly have a wonderful life.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Motivation

This has been one of those lazy mornings what I haven't had much motivation to get myself moving. it was a non-walking morning, when I wasn't meeting my friend for our regular early walk, so when it was so dark and so rainy outside I simply pulled up the covers and stayed in bad a while longer than usual. Even now I'm having trouble making myself do anything as simple as empty the dishwasher. It must be the low pressure system - my favorite excuse for everything!
Fortunately I've already been to the dump and already read the paper. Oh, and there is my weekly load of laundry in the washing machine. But other than that, with little on the calendar for the day, it won't be easy to get myself going.

My life has changed so drastically in the past year its hard sometimes to get my mind around it. My husband and I had been planning on his retirement and I was very much looking forward to doing things with him on days like this. We could take on a new project around the house (there are plenty that need tackling!) or simply take a drive to the beach for lunch, watching the surf tossing in every direction and talking about life. Instead I'm facing a day alone, still getting things done around the house, but not with anyone to share conversation or contact with. I miss that. But I don't grieve over it anymore. I've learned not to grieve over something that didn't really exist.

I know I'll get myself going soon. Its still early - and the sun is supposed to come out mid-day, which is always a good motivator. I have a busy weekend planned so these empty days are rare and sometimes good for reflection and relaxation.

I think I'll simply sit back and enjoy it.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Geese

I just came in the house from buying groceries for the week. Family Sunday lunch is here at my house which means I had a lot to buy - I provide the main dish and the others bring the sides. Anyway, the minute I opened my car door at home I was greeted with a very familiar, but surprising sound: geese overhead.

I knew exactly what I'd see when I looked up and I was not mistaken - there they were, two distinctive V formations of them, all flying in the general direction of northwest. Where were they going?

Its late in the season for them to be flying south and I suspect they are here for the winter. Perhaps they are a flock from Northwest Harbor? I have no idea as they were out of sight in no time at all and the sound gradually diminished. But I always take joy in that sound. To me its the sound of nature, or instinct, of survival, of so many things. And I'm not used to hearing it in January.

I love the sounds of nature as long as its in nature and not in my house. I recently had an opossum in my basement, but that's the subject of another blog. This particular sound, geese flying overhead, was welcome and invigorating. I loved it.

It reminded me that life goes on, that nature envelops us, and that its all good here on planet earth, on the East End of beautiful Long Island. And that was a very good reminder indeed.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Long days

Yesterday was a long day at home for the most part. Had the weather been nicer I would have been out and busy, but the high wind and heavy rain made me question any thoughts of venturing out and I stayed home for the most part, working on a sweater I'm hoping to finish for myself soon, and watching some TV. I also spent some time on my still unfinished closets, trying to get them ready for once again holding my clothes!

Those are long days though when I don't leave the house. I'm not by nature a solitary person and
I miss having someone here to talk to at those times. I don't mind being alone most of the time, but long days like that bring home to be the loneliness that many folks must feel when they are home bound. I hope I never have to experience that first hand, but my little glimpse of it is enough to make me know I'd rather not be in that position.

So again, lots of time to think when home alone for such an extended period. And think I did about many things.  My life is still a bit unsettled so there's that. Details vex me when I dwell on them. I still have questions about the things that went wrong in my life and what I did to cause them. And although I do trust God to take care of me, I still am anxious over the future. So - there is plenty to keep my mind occupied these days!

Today I'm grateful to be getting out again into the world where there is so much distraction and energy. After way too many hours alone, I need that.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Messages

Its interesting to me how we often are sent the same message in various ways and then as we mull things over we gain new insight or wisdom. God's work perhaps? I like to think so. Yesterday was a perfect example.

In the morning I was up and dressed for church fairly early so I was reading the paper, and then, still knowing I had time before church, began scrolling through Facebook. Of course it was filled with photos and comments and nastiness over the inauguration and yesterday's marches all over the world for women's issues. (As a child of the '60s no protest or march or national debate ever throws me too much and I see it as our purpose as citizens to make our views known. As an elected official I see a small microcosm of the citizenry and experience all the ugliness of both the politicians and the electorate first hand. Its not always pretty. But it is what our democratic society values - every citizen's right to be heard. There are just as many unpleasant people who want to be heard as there are pleasant ones, and within every group are bad seeds. That's just humanity. So, I loved the recent events and all that went with them.)

Anyway, I read one post that quoted Abraham Lincoln when he said "A house divided against itself cannot stand". Of course the original quote was from Jesus Christ and he was talking about the church and dissension within the ranks of the early church.

Then...I went to church. Our scripture in church was about divisions within the church - not the same scripture as Abraham Lincoln used, but very similar - also talking about dissension and how we need to work together for the cause. The pastor likened the church to a family.

So that caused me to spend some time thinking about those things as I sat at home knitting in the afternoon. And I was encouraged in my thoughts because I was questioning whether or not it was OK to have this kind of division in the country. But I had this realization: I come from a large family and there are often disagreements among its members. I love my brother and sisters but don't always agree with them. I love my children too, but again, not always on the same page. But I don't remember any instances where any of us were uncivil or unkind to one another over those differences. And it occurred to me that those differences, and our reactions to them and each other, are what allowed us to grow. We learned from each other and we learned to understand things from another side. And instead of dividing us, we grew closer together. We became a stronger family unit, not a divided one.

And that's the lesson we need to learn as a country. Rather than looking at the person with an opposing view we need to listen to them, learn from them, and grow in understanding and love. Only then will our country be stronger and "undivided". Because we are a family too and we need each other.

Anyone who lives in a vacuum stagnates. I'm not the same person I was fifty years ago, or twenty years ago, or even one year ago. And that's a good thing. My prayer is that even if our leader is too much of a narcissist to understand this, we as the citizens of this country can. We need to listen to one another, learn from one another, and value one another's views. We need to hear each other. We...
the people.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Dreary

These winter days with rain and overcast skies are dreary for sure.

Yesterday I had family over to celebrate a grandson's birthday, so that helped pass the time. Today I'll go to church and that's always the highlight of my weekend. But once I get home, and considering the weather report, I'm in for some dreary and boring days here.

Well, its not like I don't have plans. I still have drawers and closet space to clean out - the completion of a project begun many weeks ago. Most of the spaces are cleared out now, but there still remains some sorting and tossing to do. I may get that done this weekend with the rain fast approaching.

And then, once the tossing is done, I need to vacuum, dust, and scrub every corner of those spaces, many of which have not seen the light of day in many years now.

And after that, the reorganizing. I need to take my new clothes, of which there are enough for a wardrobe but not an abundance, and rededicate the spaces I have, making it all neat and organized as it hasn't been in a very long time. I've even tossed a lot of old wire hangers in the trash and look forward to using nice store bought ones in the future. It will feel really good to get this project completed.

After its done I tackle the home office....

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Wet blizzards

Looks as though we're in for a wet weekend. Its already wet and nasty out there, but starting tomorrow we're going to get inches of rain into Tuesday morning. Monday will be a miserable day.

I'm glad it isn't snow. I've never minded s good snowstorm in the past, because I looked at them as found time, when I couldn't leave the house and enjoyed games with my family, or TV binge watching, or popcorn and hot chocolate. But this year is different. This year I'm alone in the house and being stuck here means loneliness and quiet. I spend enough time alone these days and I love the fact that if I get tired of being here I can always jump in my car and visit one of the kids, or go to a movie, or whatever I want. Snow means staying close and that means no fun.

I suppose its just one more thing that's lost its joy for me. There's a long list of those. But I've been trying to look at them as changes, not necessarily losses. My life is different now. Not bad, just different.

But when a blizzard comes I wish I had a friend to
sit it out with...

Friday, January 20, 2017

Grandsons

I have three grandsons who celebrate birthdays in the next couple weeks. One is today - the youngest at three. One is tomorrow, and the last in about two weeks. Those two are the same age - in 6th grade and beginning to look very much like teenagers. All of them growing way too fast. And each of them as unique and special as possible. Each with attributes that will serve them well and beautiful souls that I pray will one day serve God and man with all their hearts. And be good to all the people in their lives.

Having five grandsons has been fun for me because I finally think I understand boys a little bit better. When I had my own children I had my two girls first, and that seemed pretty easy to me because I knew how girls thought and why they did the things they did. The two boys came last and they were a totally different story.

I still don't really "get" the male species. Probably even less so since the events of this past year unfolded and my marriage - to someone I thought I knew intimately but realize despite 44 years was a stranger to me - fell apart. They certainly do seem to be from a different planet at times and in my own experience with the men in my life, I find them pretty untrustworthy and lacking in integrity. I would like to think that's not true of the entire species, but I have no proof otherwise so for the immediate future at least, I'll go by that as my way of judging them. I need to meet some exceptions to that rule to fully grasp its falsehood. No offense to any of them reading this, just understand I'm only going by my experience. I hope for the world's sake my experience is not the norm. I just don't know!

But these grandsons are very special. Men don't seem to be born with those ugly traits of deceit and narcissism, and I wonder how they come by them. Is it when all that nasty testosterone kicks in? Is it something we mothers do wrong? Or is it a societal thing, unique to this country? I don't know the answer. But I know there is danger ahead for these precious boys that I love so much. Right now they are young, and innocent, and so special to me. And I hope I never have reason to see them in any other light. And I hope that their fathers, who so far show promise as good men of integrity and honor, help them find their way in the world of bad guys. Its my prayer today and always.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Daylight

The days are getting visibly longer now and its welcome by me. Not so much for the late afternoon as for the mornings. Because leaving the house at 6am to walk is much more fun in the light than it is in the dark, not to mention getting out of bed.

Yes, I find the exercise part of my life to be much easier in the summer than the winter just because of the way I naturally wake to the daylight. I don't like hearing an alarm clock and it seems as though, even when I've had plenty of sleep, its much more tempting to pull the covers up and stay in bed when its pitch black out there. Somehow the light of morning makes me want to get up and go.

We're a long way from that at this point, but by the time we get back from our morning walk the daylight is definitely beginning to creep up the horizon and when I looked at the clock at 4:45 last night and realized it was still not completely dark out there, I knew we were making progress.

Yes, I'm not a "summer" person in terms of temperature and humidity - I much prefer taking my walks in the winter actually as far as that goes. But I do love being out there watching the early light in the sky, waking up the world around me as I walk down the street. I'm looking forward to that again...

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

more progress...

About 4 weeks ago now I was meeting a friend for breakfast at a local eatery and as I walked to my table I recognized an old friend at one I was passing. He saw me, jumped up and gave me a big hug, and said "I've been thinking so much about you and I want to tell you something: It gets better. I promise."

He was, of course, referring to the circumstances that rocked my world and left me alone and shaken to the core. Everything I thought I knew and believed was taken from me and I've been floundering around in a strange new place, no longer being sure of my footing or of the people around me. It was a sincere, warm moment that meant the world to me, because he's been through his own traumas in life, including divorce and then the death of another spouse. He know what he was talking about.

And now, weeks after that encounter and months after my trauma, I've learned that he was right. I've certainly become accustomed to my new life, and things have certainly gotten better.

In thinking about it and remembering the pain I was in a few short months ago, I'm grateful for the progress. I'm not sure whether its because the mind and body can only handle so much and eventually the self-defense mechanisms click on, or whether I've just grown immune to the pain, but I think its more about recognizing the truth and learning to accept it than anything else. I am, by nature., a person who wants to "fix things". I think my initial response to the brokenness of my life was to try and "fix" it. Acceptance of the fact that I cannot change other people, can't change the past, and can only move forward in my new life, trying to make it better than it was before. I'm at peace now. The tears don't come often and the pain has subsided. There will always be some, but the sharpness has dulled and it doesn't hurt as often.

I think its safe to say my friend was right. It might have been slow to come, but this is definitely progress...

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

The studio

One of the real lifesavers for me this past year has been time spent working as an artist in my friend's studio.

About a year ago I began going to a friend's house to play with glass and learn the art of glass fusing. She's a retired art teacher who's now enjoying her time pursuing her own talents, and she's set up a studio in her basement for fusing glass, with lots of supplies and a kiln and long generous tables to work on. She invited me last year to come join her one evening and I've been going pretty weekly every since, discovering my long lost love of art.

I actually wanted to pursue art as a career when I was in school, but bad advice from a guidance counselor and low self-esteem sent me in another direction, and I've always regretted it. I can see myself as a graphic artist, designing posters and flyers, something I've done for so many groups I belong to over the years. But with no degree it was never a career option, so my artistic side has been relegated to handwork like knitting and sewing and making posters of signs for my own events. Now I've discovered this wonderful art of glass fusing and I'm in my happy place at last.

Recently I joined some local artist groups and hope to begin showing my work soon. It's a dream come true to me. It remains to be seen whether I can ever make money on my art, but it certainly is bring me joy, and that, after all, is what art is truly all about now, isn't it?

Monday, January 16, 2017

MLK Day

Its hard not to reflect back on things you remember on a holiday like this one. I was in my real formative years when the two Kennedys and Martin Luther King were all assassinated. Those were difficult days in this country-great unrest and huge changes in our society were taking place. The newspapers of my youth were full of civil rights protests, Viet Nam reports, and youthful dissidence everywhere. There was so much happening it was like a whirlwind and I totally understand now why my parents and others of the WWII generation were confused and afraid of what they saw happening around them. To me it was just normal - it was all I'd ever known.

Of course Martin Luther King was not beloved by all in the years leading up to his death and many saw him as a "rabble rouser". But in hindsight we all know he was an important figure in a time when his presence and influence was very much needed.

It's interesting to me that this week his holiday coincides with the week of the presidential inauguration that's so divisive too. I'm the one who's fearful now, just as my parents were before me. I hope and pray that the balance of power that our forefathers set up will hold the line and keep us safe, but I'm not sure. I hope we're not entering into another period of great unrest here because they are hard to live through.

One of the most interesting things to me about this recent election is that I've lived through dozens of them now, each one with some voters being happy and some not. That's the way it goes in a democratic process. But never have I seen the level of fear, and anger, and real concern as I see now. I'm a pretty moderate person politically and I've voted for both republicans and democrats in my life, but never have I distrusted and worried so much about an outcome before. Whether or not my choice won was never so important. This time I am afraid. And I see so many posts on Facebook about how "liberals are sore losers" or similar name calling. But I know because of my own conservative leanings that this is not a "liberal" or "conservative" thing. This is an integrity thing. This is fear for our country being led by an immature, narcissistic, egomaniac that will be in a position to take us to bad places.

Where are our Martin Luther Kings when we need them? Because we need real leadership now.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Dusting

Last night we had a dusting of snow - enough to cover everything but leave the roads nice and clear. My favorite kind of snow, really!

This morning I left the house for the dump at 7:10 and the world looked pristine. The almost full moon was still visible on the horizon but it was daylight and everything was white. It was really a beautiful way to start the day. I drove down the street marveling at the beauty a simple layer of snow can bring to everything, and took note of the way it changed a dull winter landscape of browns and grays into a brilliant view. Within an hour the sun was bouncing off the surfaces everywhere and it was as pretty as any summer day.

We are still in January so we surely have weeks of winter left, and there will be more snow for sure. This one will disappear in an hour or so as the temperature is already above freezing. But for a lovely hour its been a real treat - easy to maneuver, not slippery, and just as pretty as a picture.

Happy Sunday!

Friday, January 13, 2017

Home

Its going to be hard to come home to an empty house today.

I think that's been one of the biggest challenges for me, coming home to an empty house. Not so much during my day-to-day activities because that was normal, but coming home from a party or other social event, and now, coming home from a trip where I was with family for almost a week, well those are the hard times.There's something about wanting to come in and tell someone else about your adventures that I miss. Or sorting through the mail and doing the laundry with someone else. Its truly the little things that make our lives and those are the things we miss when they change.

I'm sorry for people who go through these changes without family and friends around. For me, those contacts have been my lifeline. Even still I get phone calls from friends checking up on me and often inviting me to a movie of dinner. And of course the grandkids are what keep me going, giving me reasons to laugh and providing lots of love and hugs. Human touch is hard to do without. Thank goodness I haven't had to.

So today I come home to my empty house. But its been a great week and I look forward to seeing the ones I've been missing. There's always a up side to everything, isn't there?

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Activity

Being at my daughter's house is such a nice reminder of the times I lived in a house full of kids.

I loved having four children once the baby/toddler years were over. Oh, I love babies and toddlers too, but taking care of them full time over the period of fifteen years is exhausting. (I sometimes wonder if my husband stopped loving me then, when I was so tired every night I could barely stay awake at 7pm and rarely wore anything other than jeans and sweats.) Toddlers are the funniest and most fun of any age, but they do take a toll on us as parents.

I liked the busy years, when the kids were involved in sports, theater, music, and youth group at church. There always seemed to be someone coming or going at the door and we had to squeeze dinners in during very small windows when everyone was home. But those were wonderful years. And being in a home with that craziness is fun for me again. It reminds me of those good years and makes me for those kids I loved watching grow into amazing adults. I loved being around them then and I miss seeing them every day. So this visit has been a real tonic for me.
nostalgic

I remember saying goodbye to them in the morning, having the day to myself, and then running them all over the place in the afternoon and evening. And while I'm here I take every opportunity to do that with the grandkids as well. Because I always found those car trips to be when the best conversations occurred.

And they still do.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Cold

Its been pretty cold these past few days and I'm reminded that its winter! But then again, its mid-January and winter is well on its way to passing in no time at all. The months go quickly these days and with my life still in flux the months seem to be clicking along pretty well too. It will be over in no time and we'll wonder how time passed us by so quickly.

I'm looking forward to a few things this winter so I'm not dreading it. I enjoy the cold and even like snow so long as it doesn't over-stay its welcome, turning into slush and ice in the process. I can deal with a little inconvenience now and then in exchange for the beauty of a new snow, turning everything into strange objects of white and making the winter landscape bright again.

The thermostat is supposed to climb now so I'm guessing by the time I get back to eastern Long Island the snow may be gone and getting around won't be a problem. Until the next time of course. And I imagine there'll be a few more before spring comes in about 8 short weeks now. Time. It truly does wait for no man.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Colors

In looking back over my last few posts here I realized that every illustration is in black and white. I think its time for some color.

So often my blog reflects my mind and where I am in terms of my happiness and contentment. I look back over the years I've been doing this and see a good deal of those things reflected and that makes me sad because I know now how false my place in life was. Knowing that nothing was real for so many years makes me see everything differently now and question whether I would have been better off knowing then what I know now. I do believe the truth is always better than fantasy, so I do wish I'd been wiser and less ignorant of what was going on around me, but seeing how happy I was just makes me sadder now.

But all this reflection is also a sign of my better health mentally as I'm coming to terms with the betrayal and lies and the pain of grief is beginning to wane. As I told my children a few weeks ago, I'm finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel and I'm no longer worried about it being another train coming from the other direction. My heart and mind are beginning to find peace again, which I'm very grateful to God for. And my friends and family. All of it is teaching me that despite the horrible things that happen to us in this life, there is good to be celebrated.

So the color is coming back. These past few days have been ones of deep thoughts and sadnesses revisited, but color is all around and I'm grabbing it when I can. I'm in a good place at last.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Solitude

Its amazing really how we can sometimes be surrounded by people and yet feel as though we're completely alone. You see it on a subway train in NYC all the time - people in complete solitude on a crowded train. They're reading, or listening to music on headphones, or just in their own dreamworld, completely oblivious to the clamor and noise around them.

I've experienced that a lot these past months as I've often been with people but mentally in another world altogether. I sometimes struggle to stay with the conversation around me as I drift off into thoughts about my life and the recent things that have happened. Its difficult to always be "in the moment" when so much of my thought process is dwelling on the past right now. I'm always thinking about things that happened, mulling over the "what-ifs" and the "whys". Everything, including every memory, is tainted now and my thoughts are never far from the questions about my existence and my purpose in life.

I read a quote recently about how memories are all that are left when we get older and that's perhaps the most difficult thing about my life right now. My memories, even the really good ones, have all been tainted. Many are ruined forever and lost to me in my happy place. And that's one of the most painful things about this turn in my life. I know I can make new memories, and certainly plan on doing that, but time is short for me now and I'll greatly miss all those years of wonderful memories I can no longer enjoy. I miss them very much.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Friday

As I sat in my living room Friday morning watching the snow fall through my big front windows I was reminded of how hard it is to be alone at times. Snow days are certainly one of those times.

I used to love snow days when the kids were young. WE would bundle everyone up, go out to make snowmen or walk to my parent's house. I remember a time when my girls were small - one about a year old the other maybe four - when we lived down the road in an upstairs apartment. We got them snug and warm in the sled with a seat on it to hold them securely. Wrapped in blankets and barely able to see under their warm hats they looked adorable with the baby in front of the older one as my husband pulled the sled and we headed out to walk down the street. In no time at all my husband had turned the sled over with his lack of focus and they both had faces full of white stuff. (That should have been a clue to me that his cavalier attitude toward the things he should be most protective of might become a factor of pain in my future, but at the time I found his easy-going nature to be amusing and fun!)

As the kids got older I would often stay inside when they went out to build their snowman, and stand over the stove making legitimate cocoa with real milk. When they came in I was ready for them, with mugs full of marshmallows and warmth and arms to help peel off their layers of wet clothing, placing them on the old-fashioned cast iron radiators to dry.

In my later years when the kids were gone it meant settling in for a television marathon of movies or TV shows not yet watched, but always there was someone to be with. The business of being alone is new to me and not always enjoyable.

But I loved the snow, the quiet, and the opportunity to take stock of things. I decided its better to be alone than to be with someone who neither values you nor takes care of you. And I realized that as much as I'd love someone to talk to, I'd rather they be someone who wanted to be with me the same way.

Life is a series of choices. Do I miss the friend I used to enjoy being with on days like this? Of course I do. But knowing what I know now makes those times together somehow not as much fun as I thought they were. Fantasy is not a substitute for reality and my reality is better now. Some choices are easy and some not so much. Its the difficult ones that lead to compromise and that's not always a good thing.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Travel

I plan to do a little traveling this week and it seems a good time of the year to get away from home. Although I must say I've been enjoying my fireplace of late, sitting up to knit or read or watch a little television with the warmth of the fire making for a cozy space. I do love a good warm living room in the winter, enveloping me with the coziness of the season and allowing me to spend lots of time with my feet up. No need to be busy until 9pm when its dark at 4:30! I've been known to climb into my pjs lately by 6:00 - something I would never do in the summer when its still daylight outside! There's something to be said for that.

I think of winter as my "down time", although I'm just as busy now as I was in August. Its a different kind of busy though, one of holidays and cooking, entertaining indoors, and lunch out with friends. I love being indoors for the winter months. After all, it just makes the long summer days that much sweeter when they do arrive! By March a bit of cabin fever does tend to settle in.

I hope to be refreshed when I get home in a few days, but one way or the other I'll have been away, and that's not a bad thing at all. Coming home to my cozy house is all I could possibly ask for.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Debris

I just spent another two hours in my bedroom cleaning closets out. Its embarrassing to even admit this, but I have bags and bags of clothing to go. But the cleaning process has provided me with a lot of time to think as I go through my clothes.

I've struggled with my weight since I was a child and its no surprise that the struggle followed me into adulthood, but I've gained some insight to the issue of late. I realize that there have been times when I've had this problem under control and those times have been the happiest ones of my life. Those were periods when my self-esteem was high and I was happy and content. And then there were times when things were not as good, and my weight showed it.

I've been sorting into three categories, because all of the clothes I owned before October of this year are too big for me now. So some bags go to Maureen's Haven (the local homeless shelter, perfect for sweaters and sport clothes), some go to the bins at the dump from St. Vincent DePaul (old tee shirts, jeans, etc) and the great majority are going to Dressed for Success (for women who need clothing for job interviews and business meetings, etc). This way I don't feel as though I'm tossing good clothing and someone in need can use them.  So far I have 13 bags ready for Dressed for Success. And I'm not done yet.

One of the interesting things is that some clothes still have tags on them. I look at them, pulled from the back recesses of my closet, and I wonder why. And then I remember bringing that piece home and finding it was a little tight, but I really liked it so I put it away for that time when I lost enough weight for it to fit just right. (Anyone who struggles with their weight will understand this mentality.) Regardless, I raced right by them in my quick weight loss and now none of them work. I even had a "goal dress" way in the back that's about 30 year old. It's huge on me now. I have sizes 14, 16, 18, 1XL, 2XL......all packed into white garbage bags.

My big epiphany was this: For the first time in my life I feel good about myself. I realize I'm in the process of getting rid of the things that are no longer good for me. I'm streamlining my closets, my relationships, my home, and my mind. I'm taking back my life and learning that my self-worth is not predicated on what someone else thinks of me, or how someone else treats me, or how anyone else lives their own lives. I'm in control here and this is a new beginning. And I'm never going back.

No need for debris in my life anymore. From now on everything makes me feel worthy and loved or it goes. I wish I'd learned that lesson many years ago. But even at this late date it feels really good to understand it.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Time

Its really difficult for me to get my head around the idea that this is the year 2017. Yikes.

As a teen reading books like "1984" and thinking that was so far into the future I couldn't even imagine it, I often thought about the year 2000, wondering what that would bring. Funny isn't it the way we imagine our futures to be? Mine certainly didn't turn out the way I imagined it, although that's not all bad. I could never have imagined that I'd be the mother of four amazing children and grandmother to ten beautiful grandchildren. But then again I did think I would find someone to love and be with them until one or both of us were dead. So there are so many good things we can't foresee and so many bad ones we don't want to.

I certainly don't think I deserved the good things my future held, but neither did I the bad, so it all seems to work out in the end, doesn't it?

I suppose at the end of the day its a good thing that we can't look into our future and know what lies ahead. In my case if I had avoided the negative I would have lost out on the positive, so I suppose  I have to look at it as a net gain, and that's the best we can possibly hope for, isn't it?

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

PBS

I always listen to my local Public Service Station on the radio when I'm in my car traveling to and fro. Today I was listening to "The Writer's Almanac" which is a regular feature by Garrison Keillor that highlights literature, both prose and poetry. On today's show he read a poem that really spoke to me and I thought it was worth sharing. Here it is:

The Woodcutter Changes His Mind

When I was young, I cut the bigger, older trees for firewood, the ones
with heart rot, dead and broken branches, the crippled and deformed

ones, because, I reasoned, they were going to fall soon anyway, and
therefore, I should give the younger trees more light and room to grow.

Now I'm older and I cut the younger, strong and sturdy, solid
and beautiful trees, and I let the older ones have a few more years

of light and water and leaf in the forest they have known so long.
Soon enough they will be prostrate on the ground.  


Funny how things speak to you at different times in your life. This one, I guess, just resonated because of my age and the way our perspective changes as the years do. In any case, I thought it was worth saving and going back to occasionally. And so I am....

Dinner

Last night I had dinner with friends and was reminded once again how important social interaction is to us when we're living alone. I've read that for the elderly especially, being alone can mean real isolation and serious issues surrounding eating well and taking care of oneself, and I can see how that happens. Because its so easy to curl up with a book and just stay alone. Fortunately I'm not there!

I stay busy enough during the day and still get out a lot at night, but sharing a meal is even more important I think. There's something about breaking bread together that makes conversation easy and opening up our hearts part of the menu. Being with good friends, whether around your own table or at a restaurant, is good for the soul. In so many ways.

By the time I got home, which was early really - 7:30 I think - I felt lighter and more content just being with people I love and hearing their opinions and sharing out lives. There's something about that kind of intimacy that's important for our souls and when we no longer have a partner to enjoy it with, our friends fill the gap. It was a short couple hours, with nothing special discussed or decided, and yet I felt as though it made my week.

Friends have been my lifeline this past year. I think the same will be true for the coming one.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Cleaning out

I've been busy this weekend cleaning out my bedroom closets. After a very significant weight loss I'm finally tossing three sizes of clothing that I've held on to just on the chance I might need them again. I'm determined this time not to gain the weight again because I feel so much better, and being alone makes the maintenance easier. I eat when I want, what I want, and can easily watch everything that goes into my mouth without distraction. And the memory of all those clothes, not to mention my aching knees, will hopefully provide the needed impetus to stay on track. So...out with the old and in with the new.

I'm distributing all this old clothing to various charities-the bins at the dump for the lowest end (old tee shirts and such), Maureen's Haven for warm sweaters and sturdy sport items. And Dressed for Success for my work and formal wear. I would love to see the nice things used by someone who can benefit from them. So, there's been lots of sorting and packing going on, with bags of clothing everywhere. And I'm not done yet. After about 5 hours in, I'm guessing I have another 5 hours of work left in the closets.

Once the room is cleared and closets reorganized (and mostly empty) I'll be finding ways to organize some of the other things in the house, making use of the new space upstairs for storage. Perhaps some of the Christmas stuff in the attic can come down to my bedroom for easier access next year.

Once the room is cleaned out and I'm able to save some money, I'm looking forward to new carpeting and a new bed - smaller than the king that's in there - making my room more spacious and creating a nicer sitting area. Things are pretty tight up there right now.

New years are good for new attitudes and new styles...not to mention new lives.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Second

Its the second day in to the new year and my upbeat mood continues. I feel lighter and more peaceful than I have in a long time now. It feels good to find some peace of mind after such a tumultuous year.

I notice many people heading south for the winter now and I have mixed feelings about that. On the one hand I don't envy them because I don't particularly enjoy hot weather and this time of year here is fine with me weather-wise. Until its icy and slushy of course. But nevertheless, I enjoy the seasons.

But on the other hand I do envy the opportunity to get away, to travel with s loved one, to meet new people and have new adventures. At my age that's a nice thing to look forward to. So I wish them well on their winter sojourns. I would like to be having one of my own. But right now my "sojourn" is more about re-focusing my life and figuring out what it is I want of it right now. My future, which I thought was secure and sure is now in question and I need to take stock of where it is I want it to go. So while I may envy those traveling I also know I have my own traveling to do - just not the kind you need to drive a car or take a plane to accomplish. My traveling will be about finding the place in my mind where I'm "home" and where I can be content with what is. Its not a trip I wanted to take, but its one I'm going to embrace. Because right now I'm very much looking forward to that trip.


Sunday, January 1, 2017

2017


I've never been one to wish time away - its far too precious for that. And never is the preciousness of time more apparent than when you get to be my age. And yet, I must admit to being happy to see a new year appear today. I welcome 2017 as a new page in my life. A new chance at doing things better. A new opportunity to do something good with my life.

The year 2016 will go down in my memory as the darkest time I've lived through. Had I known how much pain could be endured because of a personal relationship I will admit to having doubts as to whether or not I would ever have entered into one. But who could know? The Bible tells us that love endures all things. But surely even the best of mankind could not want to repeat the kind of pain that rips the heart out and leaves one gasping for breath. I certainly couldn't.

Fortunately for me I have more than one person in my life who brings me joy and its that fact that has kept me sane throughout this, my worst year. And, as so many people told me it would throughout these past months, it has gotten better. I suppose the human heart can only take so much pain and therefore the mind does its work to help us move on from heartbreak and trauma. And... I know that this new year, this 2017, will be one of discovery and contentment for me. Discovery as I uncover the authentic life I was supposed to be living, and contentment as I continue to learn who I am and what the future hold for me now. Suddenly I'm looking forward to what I hope will be many more years, rather than longing for the end to come quickly. And my faith informs me that God is in control. And those things all add up to a rosy future.

Bring it on!