Friday, March 6, 2015

Natural Instincts and Back to Basics

Harbinger

 What's astounding is the five minutes worth
of trailing flocks of snow geese that pass overhead
weaving black and white lines
of distant honking
to the northeast.
I'm looking up for guidance, for reassurance,
 they are following ancient patterns
they see through our map of upsets,
connecting to what is good,
what is right, what is natural and
they know what to do,
they are hauling spring in behind them.
 
-Mary Kate Protzman
 
 
 
This poem was on today's post of a wonderful group I belong to.  I read this poem over and over again, as it really struck a chord with me.  More precisely, the words "they are following ancient patterns they see through our map of upsets, connecting to what is good, what is right, what is natural and they know what to do", struck a chord with me.  I thought about nature and the wild, how we as humans, have lost our touch with nature and what is wild in us.
 
As it was snowing 11 inches of snow yesterday, I sat and watched a show about people looking for houses to buy in the Caribbean.  Get-away homes, permanent homes, homes to escape the hustle and bustle of "real life."  Most of these cities or towns that these people were looking for homes in, were poor towns if it were not for the tourists.  The locals, they live a very, very different life from the ex-patriots that were coming there, to escape the hustle and bustle.   

As these people were being shown homes they may be interested in, I was amazed at what these people found necessary to have in their "island homes."  Although they all said they wanted a home that truly seemed native to the area and had a real Caribbean feel, they were wanting all of the modern day conveniences of  their homes back in the States.  I sat listening to these women complain that there wasn't a dishwasher in the kitchen, no double sink vanities in the bathrooms, kitchen cabinets that weren't custom made cabinets or counter tops that weren't granite.  It all kind of made me have a sick feeling in my stomach.  These people sounded so shallow and materialistic.  Although they said they wanted to get away from their hectic lifestyles and live a simpler, more relaxed Island life, they could not possibly imagine sharing just one sink with their spouse in a Master bath or having to wash dishes by hand, or prepare food on a counter top made of wood or God forbid, tile or formica.   I don't know about other people's partners, but I know that Robby and I could very easily brush our teeth at one sink and learn to take turns if he needed the space to put in his contacts while I needed the space to wash my face.  We have a dishwasher, and have not used it since our wedding reception and I have no idea what our counter tops are made of, but I know they are not stone of any kind.

When did we as humans, become so selfish and greedy?  Why is it that it is only the animals of the wild that know how to live simply and make do with all that has been given to them in nature?  When did we lose touch with reality and self preservation? 

I look around my home and there is so much excess.  So much I don't need and don't have to have.  I live in a house that is 100x's bigger than I need.  I have a pantry full of food that I rarely ever eat or use.  I have a closet that has shoes in it that I rarely wear and clothes that I wear only for "special occasions".  I am a hypocrite because I despise people who feel entitled and won't "settle for less" but yet, by outward appearances, I look like that person.  Granted, much of what I have, I have bought at thrift stores and second hand stores, but still, I don't NEED all of it.  I don't USE most of it. 

We don't have to follow our natural instincts anymore because we have so many other things and APPS to make those decisions for us or we simply just go with what we believe will be socially acceptable.  My husband and I always laugh when we see the news during a snowstorm and they are showing people walking to go get breakfast or dinner because the roads are too bad for them to drive their car.  They get to the restaurant and are mad because it is closed due to the bad weather.  Why is it that people cannot stay at home and COOK their own breakfast or dinner?  Or they go out to get coffee!!!!  Really, you can't make your own cup of coffee at home, but you hope that others have risked their lives getting into a coffee shop to make a cup of coffee for you?  Really? 

I grew up in a very modest home with 5 other people.  We had one bathroom that we all used which had one sink, one toilet, one tub.  6 of us got out of the house everyday, on time, for school and work without fighting over the bathroom.  Our kitchen cabinets were not filled with food we didn't eat and people would come over, look in my mom's fridge and wonder how on earth she would produce a meal out of the few things that were in there.  And let me just state, we never went hungry or didn't have food on the table and almost all of our meals were cooked, not heated in a microwave or poured out of a box and certainly not bought at a restaurant or fast food joint.  I was raised by a mom and a dad who did not waste and did not have excess.  I grew up with those values and may have lost them along the way to some extent.  But I strive to get them back.  I strive to start living by instinct again and natural impulses.  I want to get back in touch with the "wild" side of my being and trust in the ancient patterns, know what is right and natural and connect with what is good.

I am not better than anyone else.  The things I saw in those people looking for their "island home" that I didn't like, are the same things I see in myself that I don't like.  I don't want to be better than anyone else, I just want to be a better me.  I am on a quest, a journey, to make changes in my life.  Small changes that will add up to a bigger change over time.  It is hard looking inside at times and seeing things about myself I don't like.  But it has to be done if I want to be a better me.  And if I am going to rant and rave about the ways of others, I better be prepared to defend my own ways first.  In the words of MC Yogi...."Be the change that you wanna see in the world, just like Gandhi."  I am no Gandhi and never will be, but I will be the best me I can be.

 

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Life Is Busy

Wow!!!  Today is the last day of the first month of 2015.  This month has flown by.  This year, 2015, is a year I have been waiting for since 2004 when my life changed drastically.  I have not been looking forward to this year, but I knew it would arrive no matter what.  This year is a year I wish to drag by, pass ever so slowly and if Summer never came, it would be fine by me.  But at the same time, this is a year that I hope to prove to myself just how much I have grown and changed in my mind set and in my inner strength.  Few people in my life know of the event that changed my life in 2004 and why this year is such a big year to me.  In time, as the Summer gets closer, I will probably write of the event in more detail, as that will be my coping mechanism.

This new year has had me making multiple trips to Richmond to help one of my brothers organize my childhood home and prepare it to be placed on the market in about 2 weeks.  This has been both emotionally draining and spiritually healing all at the same time.  Spending time in my parent's home without them being there anymore, conjures up many, many feelings.  At first it was not so difficult and sorting through things that could be tossed, donated, kept or sold was easy.  But as things become more personal and the home I know and have loved all of my life, is being stripped of everything that is familiar, I start to find it more difficult to let go.  Moving ahead is what we need, must, do.  We have no choice.  None of my brothers nor I wish to buy the house and live in it, so we must sell it.  While my head understands this and it makes perfect sense, my heart is breaking a little each time one more thing is donated or deemed "junk".  With each bag and box placed either in the trash or in our car, we are one step closer to letting go our our childhood home.  The odds and ends that I decided I had to keep, have found places of honor in my home and when I walk past them, I find myself whispering "hi mom and dad" or "I love you" or "I miss you both so much."  It is nice seeing these little reminders throughout my home and seeing that I was able to find a way to fit them into my eclectic idea of decor.  I pray that whomever moves into my parents house, finds it to be the HOME that we all loved for all of our youth and for most of my parents adult lives.  I would love to see a young family move in and find a way to make the house their home.  I don't really want to see an elderly couple move in because that just means in the near future, it would be up for sale again.  I have always hated driving past old houses I have lived in and loved as an adult, and seen how the new owners don't take are of it the same way, or ripped out all of my flowers or gardens I planted.  I am pretty certain it will hurt 100 times worse to see someone not take pride in my childhood home and let the gardens go and not keep up the yard as my parents did.  My mom ALWAYS said, "This house may not be much to anyone else, but to me, it is my Castle."  And she meant it, she LOVED that home so much and took so much pride in everything she did there.  Please God, let someone else just like that, find that home and make it their Castle too.





In the time I am not in Richmond, Robby and I have undertaken the job of painting the entire inside of our house.  Moving things in from my mom and dad's had made me want to freshen things up around here this winter.  It is the perfect project for this time of year since we can be outside.  But, as much as I love painting our house inside, I am ready to be done.  I would much rather be in my studio painting something creative on a canvas or a wooden board.  I have started seeds already for the vegetable garden this year and am trying to stay on top of that.  I have so many different varieties of plants I want to try and the only way i know to do that, is grow them myself.

And one last thing, like so many other people who have a "word" for each year, I have one for this year.  It shall be the word "Free".  I want to be Free of paralyzing fear this year and for now on in my life, Free of guilt from past mistakes I have made, Free of grief and sadness that I don't have control over.  Free to experience all the beauty that life has to offer, Free to express myself through my art, whether that be cooking, painting or gardening, Free to be the very best mother, wife, sister and friend that I can be.  Yes, 2015 is a year I have dreaded for the past 11 years, but I am determined to make it be a year that will leave a positive imprint on me and not a negative one.

Life is busy, but it is full of love, love for me and love for me to give to others.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

The Importance of Tradition

So, yeah, this Christmas has the potential to SUCK.  I can EASILY slip into a state of depression over both my parents being gone and not having either one of them here with us for the Holidays.  And believe me, the majority of the time, I am really depressed about it.  I had just become use to my Mom not being a part of the Holidays anymore and then my dad dies also.  This is huge for me because the past two Christmases that mom wasn't here, we would go pick up dad in Richmond on Christmas Eve day and drive him to our house where he would spend the day and night with us.  We would all wake up on Christmas day together, and if the boys were at their dad's, we would wait for them to show up and then open gifts together.  It was so wonderful having dad here.  We would drive him back to Richmond on Christmas afternoon because he would have his dialysis treatment the next day and wanted to be home early enough to rest up and get to bed on time.  That won't happen this year.  Also, this is the first year that my mother in law has completely changed how our Christmas Eve will be, so the one other tradition I had become accustomed to over the past 10 years, is no longer the same.  I am a creature of  habit and tradition.  It is hard for me to let go of those traditions. When you lose both of your parents, you have no choice but to let go of all your traditions.

Ever since I got divorced 12 years ago, my holidays have never been quite the same or special.  Now that my kids are so much older, it is even more of a struggle to get excited about a holiday.  Every other one is not spent with them, and the ones that are spent with them are usually only for the day of the Holiday and that is it.  For a momma who is use to tradition, that is a hard pill to swallow.

This Christmas I have really struggled with getting in the groove.  I had ordered Ann Voskamp's The Greatest Gift to help me navigate through the Advent season and find some meaning.  It has really helped at times and at other times, my depression gets the best of me and I find myself honorary guest at a huge Pity Party.  Yesterday, I finally decided to stop being such a baby and get into the spirit.  I found out my kids would be here on Christmas Eve and half of the day on Christmas day and that was enough reason to finally make me want to go get a tree.  So my husband and I went out to the woods, found a crazy cedar tree that I deemed perfect, cut it down and brought it back into the house.  I proceeded to decorate it with my mom's Shiny Brite ornaments she passed down to me and wore some vintage red and green ragg socks that had belonged to my dad.  I made my own evergreen decorations for the doors, like my momma would do and just tried my best to turn my attitude around.  My parents always had a real Christmas tree every year for as long as we were still coming home for Christmas.  I knew that they would be very disappointed in me for not getting a tree just because I am sad.  So, I put my big girl panties on and found a tree.

Today I spent the entire day baking cookies from my mom's recipes.  Her Pecan Sandies and her Cheese Wafers.  Now, my mom had a real knack for writing out the ingredients in a recipe and nothing else.  No directions for mixing, what temp. to preheat oven, how long to bake, etc.  I should have paid better attention when I was little, but of course, we never think of those things then.  The cheese wafers I was really nervous about.  I haven't made them ever, even though every Christmas I look at the "recipe" and say, I can do this.  This year, I took the bull by the horns and did it.  AND, they turned out wonderful!!!!!!  I was so pleased.  Now, I ended up making `11 dozen cookies and I am fully aware that 3 of my sons will be here late Christmas Eve night until mid day on Christmas day at which time they will leave and go back to their dad's.  Why on earth I made 11 dozen cookies for basically Robby and I, I have not a clue other than, it just felt right.  Maybe I will be surprised by some amazing guest who has a hankering for Pecan Sandies, Cheese Wafers and Peanut Butter Cookies.  We'll see.

While I was baking away, I played Christmas songs like the songs I heard growing up....... Perry Como, Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, you know the ones.  All of a sudden, I was overwhelmed with joy and a sense of Christmas.  It all became crystal clear what Christmas was about.

Tradition......the handing down of statements, beliefs, legends, customs, information, etc., from generation to generation, especially by word of mouth or by practice:  (according to Dictionary.com)

Tradition, something that I think as a daughter/female, is more important to me that it may be to my brothers or other males.  I have been stripped of so many of my traditions, it is hard for me to get a hold of any holidays anymore.  But yet, they are what helps me plant my feet firmly in any Holiday.  They are what let's me know what is expected of me.  When I don't have traditions to follow, I am lost.  But today, I took those traditions of my Christmases way past, and found a way to work them into my life.  I felt a sense of calm and peace while baking my momma's recipes and listening to classic Christmas songs on a turntable that belonged to my daddy.  I pray my momma saw me today, trying to carry on her traditions in my very un-traditional household the best way that I could.   I pray that she saw the happiness it was bringing to me to use her rolling pin, her pastry brush, wear her apron, read her recipes and follow somewhat, in her footsteps.  I hope my daddy found happiness in me using his old turntable, playing old records and smiling all the while.  I just know that it is what made my day for me and really put me and kept me in the spirit of Christmas.  Whether anyone else will notice or appreciate the traditions I carried on today, they made me happy.  I don't have any daughters and really doubt that any of this will pass down to my sons.  Perhaps someday there will be significant others in their lives and maybe they will care what I tried to do for my kids as far as traditions and some will be passed down.  Making new traditions with your family is very important and so is carrying on a few from your past.  I myself, am so thankful for them because they are the only thing that have managed to pull me up out of my funk this Holiday.  They aren't the same as my momma and dad being here, but at least I can feel them in Spirit and that is all I have left.

I wish for all of you, a Christmas filled with old traditions and the beginnings of your own new traditions.  NEVER underestimate the impact these traditions have on your family and loved ones.  There will come a day when that is all they have left and they will want those traditions more than you know.

Merry Christmas to you all!!!!
.            

Thursday, December 4, 2014

I'm Trying


Faith is not something I have always had.  I mean, I guess I have had it, but I never really felt it.  So, I guess that means I didn't really have it.  It's funny how when you lose someone you are so very, very close to, like the two people who created you and brought you into this world, you start to feel like you have to have faith, you have to believe.  You have to believe that there is something greater that their souls go to when they leave this world.  That their bodies don't just rot in the ground or in a coffin and that is the end.  I can't believe that, I won't believe that.  What is the point to our lives if that is all there is in the end?

There have been few times when I have really felt like I needed to have something bigger to hold on to.  When I had to believe or I could simply not carry on.  I begged for there to be more and for a second chance once when I was looking death in the face and I have begged for there to be more when my mom died.  Now that my dad has died also, I have decided that simply begging isn't enough.  I have to believe.  I have to commit.  I have to not doubt that which I cannot see.  How can I expect there to be more when I won't commit to believing that there is?  And more importantly, what do I have to lose?  If there isn't more, then i will never know the difference.  But if there is more, oh my goodness, why would I want to miss out on that simply because I wouldn't believe?

It will be a process, it will be a time of learning and questioning.  It will be a journey but one I am willing to take.  I am so blessed to have people in my life willing to teach me, to walk beside me and help me.  There is something bigger.  I have to believe it, I have to live it, I have to let it into my heart.  If I ever want to stop not allowing myself to see the joy in the Holidays and the birthdays that come along, the Mother's Days and the Father's Days that I no longer can celebrate, the anniversaries, the start of the new Seasons, then I have to believe that there is something MORE!!!  That God IS. That my mom and dad are exactly where they BELIEVED they would be when their spirits left this world.  That they are together again, maybe not as husband and wife, but as something even more amazing and wonderful.  That I will see them again.  So this Advent Season, I am beginning my journey.  I may stumble along the way, I may have my doubts, but I will stick with it and I will find  my way.  It may not be by this January, when dad and mom would have both celebrated their birthdays, it may not be by April, when they would have celebrated another year of marriage, but it will happen.



Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thankful for........

Thankful For:

My husband, my kids
My brothers, their families.
My friends, their families.
My health, my home.
My simple life.
My pets.

My God
My childhood.
My gifts and talents.
My desire to try new things.
My willingness to live and let live.
My ability to let go.

This Thanksgiving is a tough one.  Robby and I are by ourselves and he is sick.
The past two Thanksgivings were so wonderful, spending it with my 
brothers, their families and my dad, that it makes this one 
so much more difficult.
Every year it seems the Holidays are a little less Holiday-ish than they
use to be.  
I guess this just happens as life goes on.
But, in spite of it all,
I have so many blessings in my life.
And since my mantra is now, 
Choose Happiness,
I will be happy today for the things I have,
the things I am thankful for.
This will be enough,
as it is much more than many people have.
I miss my mom and dad,
I miss talking to them 
and 
especially on the Holidays.
But I am thankful.

Happy Thanksgiving and remember to find something to be thankful for.


Wednesday, November 5, 2014

My New Year's Mantra


Today makes 2 months since daddy passed on.
Today, I came up with 2015's Mantra:
I CHOOSE HAPPINESS

This will be the last mantra I ever set for a New Year and I am starting it now.
There never needs to be another one.
This one covers it all.
With Happiness in my heart,
fear, sadness, anger, grief and guilt
have no room.
Happiness in my heart only makes room for 
LOVE.

Today was an awakening.
Nothing out of the ordinary,
just an understanding that came over me.
Another dream a few nights ago,
telling me again that they are okay,
and to please LIVE.
Live with Happiness.
Life is for the Living.

I spent some time outside today.
It was rainy, cloudy, dreary by anyone's standards.
But I sat down and the chickens came over to me,
my dog laid down next to me,
the birds darted and chirped around me.
All of the simple beauty of my life became so clear to me.
I couldn't help but smile and laugh.

I took this photo with my Ipod
and when I looked at it,
I saw it.
Pure Happiness.
Yes, life is good.
Life is for the living.
I am ALIVE.

And so, 
though I will never stop missing you both
and wishing you were physically with me.
I will move forward and live my life
the way you loved to see me live it.
Full of laughter, love, little adventures
and crazy ideas.
And I will know you are there,
watching, rolling your eyes, smiling and laughing.

Today and for now on
I CHOOSE HAPPINESS!

Friday, October 31, 2014

Remembering and Reflecting



My Mom hated having her picture taken and she probably hates my whimsical rendition of her even more.  But if she can see this painting, I hope she sees what I was trying to capture were the things that made her my beautiful mom.....her beautiful blue eyes, her gorgeous white hair and the gentle smile and look she could have when she was letting her guard down and just letting herself feel loved.  The pearls around her neck represent the beautiful gift my dad gave her when they married.  Pearls that I have the honor of owning now but find myself to scared to wear for fear of losing them.

Three years ago today I lost my mom.  A quick, swift blow to my world and the rest of my life.  She was snatched from us in a blink of an eye, clearly a decision God made and was certain of, for there was no doubt she would not return to us in any form.  Regardless of how much my heart hurts because of that swift swipe of her life, I am so thankful for her that it happened that way.  It's how she would have wanted it.

The past three years have not been easy and try as I may, moving forward seems to happen at a snails pace.  My dad was my inspiration to move forward everyday because somehow, he, the person who loved her more than anyone, found the strength to get up everyday, accomplish what needed to be done in the day, care for himself, be productive and carry on.  If he could do it, then surely I could do it.  One month and 26 days ago, Daddy left me and went to be with Mom, ironically at just about the exact same time of day as she left us.  Actually, it's really not so ironic at all, they were one.    I guess he just didn't feel like getting up and doing it "all' everyday anymore and I can't say I blame him. You did an awesome job daddy, and I am so proud of you!!!!  I know you were tired.

Some people deal with death really well,  I am not one of those people,  Many people find comfort knowing their loved ones are in a better place.  I may believe that they are in a better place for themselves, but my selfish heart believes that the better place for them is here with me.  But I am tired of being sad.  I am tired of yearning for someone, or now for two someones, to come back to me or answer the phone when I call.  I don't want to be sad anymore.  I want to create art that is happy art, not art that is helping me work through DEATH.  It's enough already and surely people are tired of me still grieving.  But the thing is, just about when I thought I was going to be able to move on with mom's passing, daddy had to go and die.  Damnit!!!!!!  And as if losing your first parent isn't bad enough, losing the second one is worse.  It's final.  I have no more parents.  I am an orphan.

The best I can hope for is to find a way to keep moving forward.  My art is how I best express myself these days.  As pitiful looking as it may be, I keep putting myself in classes with super inspiring artists, real artists.  My work compared to their's is juvenile and messy.  But, it is mine and it is helping me express what I need to express.  My hope is to start focusing my art on something new and different.  Something inspiring and refreshing for me.  I have some tough days ahead with clearing out and closing up my childhood home and letting go of my attachment to it.  But I will keep my daddy's strength and determination in the front of my mind and will move forward and hope to make mom and dad proud.

Mom, I love you and miss you so much, but I know how overjoyed you are that daddy is there with you now.  I promise I will try and find comfort in that.  Halloween will never be the same ever again for me.  But hey, I just thought of something........you lost your mom on Halloween and yet every year you still insisted on going and getting candy to hand out at the house, knowing very well you would probably only have a handful of trick-or-treaters.  You wanted to be sure you had candy for whoever may come to the door.  I guess I should let you be my role  model and learn to celebrate this Holiday again.  I hope for you, there are trick-or-treaters in Heaven and you get more than a handful come to your door.  I love you and if you want to ring my doorbell tonight just to let me know you are happy, I promise to answer and have a frozen Snickers bar ready to hand you.                      

Happy Halloween Mom!!