We live in a house that’s about 114 years old. Above the front door is a window which I’ve now cleaned. Our view; an overhead light under the porch roof, and atop a column holding up the roof is a robin’s nest and several baby birds.

I find myself going over to the door to observe frequently when I’m home. After the adult bird flies off, the babies, 4 or 5 of them, sit in the nest with their neck’s extended and their mouths open in silent plea; oh please come back… Their heads bob, I believe they have not opened their eyes yet, and their slender fragile-looking necks seem too slight to support the movement, yet all appears well with these newborns. It is completely fascinating to me.  BirdInNest2014

Those baby birds remind me of the fragility and uncertainty of life. We are born into we know not what. We grow and attain our “wings” to fly off from all that we have known into the great unknown of the adult world. If we are lucky enough, as I was, to only have a small bit of benign neglect, some typical sibling fighting, two obscene phone calls during my childhood, and a loving set of grandparents who gave me a safe and secure world in which to grow up. And my sense of the world as  non-threatening was rewarded for the most part.

“They” say we don’t know what we’re missing. For me that was true until I found out. I discovered the vast amount of love I had for my children, the extreme sense of responsibility for them and the desire and push to help them have good outcomes as adults. The profound shock of becoming suddenly divorced hurt so deeply because I did and still believe that 2 parents can make a better job [having more rest and someone to share duties and fun family time] than one worn out parent slogging to get through a day of too much work and more responsibility than one adult should carry.

And yet… and yet. Ask my youngest child if I was a good parent. I was his only parent at home from the time he was 3 and a half years old, right through his college years, and now past into his adult life. I remained focused because I had some great help from people, mostly women friends who cared a great deal for me and my own life outcome.   BirdInNest2014-2

–I was told to be the best person I could be, be happy, find fulfillment and joy and all of this would make me a better parent. So I did, AND found my artist self that I didn’t know existed. Wow, what a revelation. And oh what joy!

–I was told to remember to be grateful, and first I wrote lists and then spoke prayers and later wrote stories that encompassed gratitude, and finally found peace from my self-nurturing which has become part of the air I breathe- a necessity.

–I was told to dig deep and work hard to be my best and also to find resources for the empty parts. My dear friend Deb once held her hands together in a cup [while talking through my sobs over the phone] and told me to pluck each heavy responsibility off my shoulders and place them, after naming them, into her hands. She held them for me until I could resume. And she taught me that a friend would listen to the ups and downs of my children’s lives with appreciation and insight- and cover the lack of another parent in the home.

I share this with you, I give this to you. I hope it helps. This morning I rested from last week which was way, way too busy for me. Quietly sewing and watching something labeled a comedy which was not funny, yet touched me as a very human drama of life; making choices and mistakes and trying to figure out where to step next, what to think and believe, and how to let go and love. I think we can change, or else why would all those people be drinking coffee at AA meetings?

MyFavKnitI believe we can change; I’ve learned to be my own mother to myself and try to be whatever my children need from me; supporter, source of encouragement, giver, fount of love, and sometimes even of wisdom. And for one child I remain on hold, quietly loving and … in the background as that child requires of me. I’ve known 2 people with similar life stories of profound neglect, some abuse, and one has made self into a functioning and loving adult, and one stumbled for a very long time and maybe finally has found out how to approximate same.

–I was told; when the pupil needs, the teacher will appear. The trick though is to recognize the teacher. Who or what is the teacher? A person, an idea, an ongoing abuse, a need unfulfilled or filled to much or with terrible results. There are so many ways to the teacher. Open yourself up to it.

Believe in yourselves. Love yourselves. Be grateful and give back to others.

Life is indeed a very fragile and finite thing.

 

 

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A Tale of Bravery; written on March 6, 2013.

…11-year-old Evie Oxley, whose father, a fireman, is being treated for cancer and whose mother has recently been given the all-clear from breast cancer.

[Oxley] said: “The Duchess said I had been very brave, with my Dad being poorly. It’s tough at times but you just have to get over it sometimes and just be brave. If you’re not brave then the person that’s ill is not going to be brave either.”       The London, England Telegraph [www.telegraph.co.uk] 3/6/2013
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You just have to be brave. This morning a woman I met casually told me some of her life story; her child born with a kidney disease and to whom she donated one of her kidneys. His new kidney  lasted over 20 years, astonishing the doctors. Her son had a life fraught with medical issues, operations, stuff put into his body to keep it functioning- yet he married a woman who stood by him for almost 40 years until he died at age 60.

At 90 years of age, the woman I met told me she’s outlived her husband who loved and supported her and their family. She outlived her child. She lives alone now and very proud to announce that she takes care of herself. We exchanged stories in a short period of time. And at the end she told me – she’d never forget my bravery! I should only have her courage, strength, humor and presence when I’m 90.

The Dynamics of Happiness; written today, right now, composing my thoughts as I type!

“There is something infinitely better than happily ever after. There is happiness. Happiness is a living, dynamic thing…and has to be worked on every moment for the rest of our lives. It is a far more exciting prospect than that silly static idea of a happily ever after…”   Mary Balogh, author; Slightly Married,  2003.

I create art and currently have artwork for sale locally. What does this have to do with happiness? Someone who asked to exhibit my things was unhappy with my decision to pull out. Unhappy, disrespectful, raging and cursing. Through my years of living I’ve learned some lessons, and one is to own my feelings and my actions, but I do not own your unhappiness. I do not own your bad behavior toward anyone,and  especially when pointed toward me.

So this story is Feb2013 about the way we expose our negative inner stuff; our pain, dissatisfaction, unhappiness.  I believe when our cup is filled with sadness, bitterness, unfulfilled hopes and dreams, too little sleep, or too little joy, and we strike out at others, these negative feelings can almost be touched, they are so tangible. The receiver is often filled – not with compassion, but depending on what is thrown at them; surprise, disappointment, anger or  [fill in the blank here].

If you need help, just ask. If you need a hug, stretch out your arms and I will respond and hug you. If you need someone to listen, just approach and express that need. I am content and happy and sometimes joyous. What I cannot – will not do is lower my own mood,  my own standards, in order to absorb your unhappiness. While the quote I used comes from a romantic viewpoint, the bit about happiness being dynamic rings true to me. All of life is dynamic. Can you not remember if your are this unhappy, you will at some point, if you work at it, be this level of happy?

Seek your Inner Wisdom

What if you listen to your Inner Wisdom and you don’t hear anything? Or you can’t figure out the message let alone the way to follow it.

I like to sit down and make lists. I like to use keyboard or paper and pen and write my concerns and often just leave them. Sometimes stating those questions, concerns, and letting them “stew” a bit gives us time to find an answer or for an answer to find us.

There is nothing mysterious about finding answers or finding our “inner wisdom.”  Know that our answers change as we live our lives. Our answers reflect our own complexities; age, problems, issues, expectations and what we’ve learned to date.

Here’s an example. When I decided to go back to college at age 50+ it was to gain a skill, to challenge myself, to get out of my funk. All of that happened and so much more.  I gained increased skills that did not lead to a paying career. The experience and what I learned opened new paths inside me, confirmed my artistic ability, my sensibilities, and provided me a great thrilling challenge.

March-2

There is no “the end” until The End. There is no end to the possibilities of feeling pride in ourselves, in feeling delighted, pleased, fortunate, contented… in wanting to share with others who we are, what we love, what gives us courage, and where/how we find respite from fear, and what we hope and dream.

REMEMBER: Until the last breath our lives are filled with the beginning of another chapter of Your Story. The story about your “one wild and precious life.”      ( phrase by American poet Mary Oliver)

*And please do not copy the images here [Bad Karma], they are part of my art.

I love self-help books. If memory serves, this love began before I was diagnosed with cancer, but certainly after the initial diagnosis, when I scoured the main library in the large Southern town we lived in then, and found a book to refute the [standard] medical advice I’d received from 3 successive cancer specialists. I actually found the Doctor quoted in the book, and made a decision based on the biopsy results and my strong desire to decide how much of my original parts would be removed in an effort to get rid of the cancer.
Presently I’ve noticed there are so many books about how to live and be healthy, in shape, encourage children/babies to be smarter, musical, learn to knit…whatever. And then there are books that explain to us how to be happy. I’ve given this some thought.

HOW TO BE HAPPY.
1. Know yourself. If this takes a lifetime, then so be it. Take the journey, see the sights along the way, learn new routes, make new friends…

2. Decide what you value and find others to be part of your life who can accept your values, or maybe even share some of them. The quote at left: “This is not a letter, but my arms around you for a brief moment.

3. Find ways to be calm, get energized, give love, receive from others [because that is a gift in itself] and challenge yourself to grow. Learn new things, try to do something a new way, dare yourself to change a habit…

4. Enjoy your life. Most of us do not know when we will die. Don’t put off the next vacation, or watching your child, or sitting quietly stroking a dog or cat.

So that’s my advice. Take it or leave it. Feel free to write me a check for $19.95, then tear it up and throw it away. Now didn’t that feel good? Smile and I’ll throw in some free ginzu knives !!!