Falling Down the Rabbit Hole

I think sometimes I am so caught up in my day to day grind that I forget what is happening around me. I complain because a class is cancelled or a check didn’t arrive on time or the damn squirrels are eating all the food out of my bird feeder…and then I am sharply reminded about real pain and suffering.

When someone I love is in unbearable pain, suffering in some way, my hear shatters with and for them. Recently a friend of mine was caught in the quagmire of grief and angst and there was nothing to be done about it. It was not pain of her own choosing but someone she loves more than anything. Her sorrow and palpable grief tore my soul asunder. I could do nothing to assuage her heartbreak, nothing but sit in the shadow of her hurt and to be present and bear witness.

Like falling down the rabbit hole, everyone who loves her is swept away in the torrent of her unspeakable, unshakable, unbearable agony. Down, down we all fall, tethered to her as she tumbles further into the abyss. All that can be done, is to fall silently, supportively, and soulfully into the darkness with her so that she isn’t left alone.

I know that I can’t heal or spare her this wrenching horror. I also know that by sitting in the stillness, the injustice, and sadness, I pray I am helping. It works against my nature to not be able to offer some solace or a game plan to ease her pain. Instead it is in the steadiness and assuredness, and the uncomfortableness, that I can show her my love, my loyalty, and my faith.

I try to remember and to focus on, all I can do is show up and pray that the waters will calm and she will commence sailing on smooth waters once again. Until then, I will weep, hug, laugh, and pray with every fiber of my being that she be free from this immense misery and that there will be a profound and magically lesson learned, after this tragic storm.

#friendship #sorrow

Masters Class..

I find New Year’s Resolutions often boring and predictable. I spent this New Year’s Eve ushering in the New Year with my Mom and three of her life long, good friends. I found their perspective and life views to cause me to stop, think, and review my purpose in the world as a woman, friend, and mother. I was honored to sit and be schooled by four teachers, (including my Mom) who have enlightened hundreds of students over the span of their collective lifetime. Silently and unwittingly, I had entered a Masters Class.

The evening was spent playing games, cooking, eating, watching a funny movie and talking, debating and sharing, no holds barred. These women are not shrinking violets. Each in their own right have achieved great success as teachers, mothers, educators, administrators, feminists, and women. They take their roles as educators very seriously. It is their calling and they know their stuff.

All but one are retired but I don’t think they know how to retire, at least in the conventional sense of the word. They are still in the trenches, in schools, their communities, and churches. Each continuing to make a difference with their wisdom, contributions and shared life experiences. I was in awe of how they approached retirement, life, friendship, relationships, motherhood, marriage, widowhood, and even death. The lessons were timely, valuable and as varied as the women who were sharing them.

First, if you can not hold your own in a debate, this is not the group for you. You can’t just “state” your position, be ready to defend it, be knowledgeable about it or you will be devoured with intellect and reasoning so strong you are instantly reminded of your third grade teacher tsking and shaking her head at your feeble attempt to answer a question, incorrectly and without raising your hand first. So come strong or stay home. No time for a Goggle check, if you speak on it then you must Know about that which you speak. If not you will be challenged, kindly but with intensity.

Second, disagreement is welcome, argument encouraged. I mean this in the most respectful and adult way. There is no name calling or disparaging remarks, no eye rolls, teeth sucking, or out right dismissal of anyone’s point of view. Seems strange in a world where it seems we can not hold two opposing thoughts at the same time, (Cognitive Dissidence, in case you’re wondering, I wasn’t wondering but I received an education about nevertheless). That’s the other side of being raised by teachers, don’t use a word or phrase if you don’t know it’s origin or meaning. It has the potential to be embarrassing as they are trained listeners. I learned the true value of a loving and heartfelt debate, valuing their choice of words, their tone, more than any ego driven need to win an argument.

Third, dismantling, attacking, and categorizing other women is not allowed. Collectively these four women have raised ten plus children and they know that there is no value in teaching a lesson with pain attached, life teaches us that lesson whether we like it or not. They are forthright, well spoken, intelligent women who have continuously worked on uplifting, educating, and supporting children and adults for dozens of years. They believe that Information is power, freedom and independence. They have marched, and challenged the status quo. They have lived through the free love of the 60s, the civil rights movement, women’s movement, mother’s movement and they are not done yet, not by a long shot. 

Fourth, no two women are alike. Each one is a strong woman in her own right, working their entire lives and making creative and difficult choices, often alone. Their decisions and sacrifices have affected their families, their careers and themselves. Still you won’t find a drop of bitterness or martyrdom to be found among them. This is a group of women who get the job done, no time for muss or fuss. No time to wonder if they will get the credit for all of their hard work, (and I can say from experience, they do not). No time to sit around and whine about who is doing what, when. If something needs to get done, big or small, these women are on it. They are practical, ingenious, problem solvers and they don’t get nearly the recognition they should. 

Fifth and finally, I sat back and watched and learned more in one night than I could ever write about today. I sat, in rapt attention barely moving as they shared eloquently the lessons of their own lives. l listened and I learned about being a woman in her 60s, 70s and 80s. I learned about being a mother, for a life time, (I know we know we are mothers forever but these women exemplify what a mother is and the dance that is required as their children have grown). I learned that I can speak up and out and frankly that I should at every turn, particularly when injustice is being done. I learned the true meaning and the treasures of life long girlfriends who support and love each other through the challenges, joys and pain that life brings. I learned how to fall spectacularly and continue to get back up, again and again with dignity and integrity. 

I will leave you with some last words of wisdom from the oldest member of the group answering the age-old question, what is your New Year’s Resolution? She paused and thought about it for a moment, and she said, “I am living my New Year’s Resolutions every day in the choices I make, the people I love and cherish, the work I continue to do, and in the way I live my life. I don’t have any new resolutions, just to continue living, learning and loving.”

Yep, I will say it again, this was a Masters Class and these women should be on the cover of Time’s most Influential Women of their Time. As teachers they have taught these principles, shared these principles, prayed over these principles with their own children and the many children, many of whom are now adults, that they had the privilege of teaching over 50+ years as Educators. Retirement is only a word to them and these women are graceful, strong, real, honest, hardworking, dedicated, beautiful, intelligent, resilient, and extraordinary. Their lives are a blueprint for how I hope to live my life as I grow older. 

Thank You for your hard-earned lessons, Mom, Ann, Beth, and Pam. And thank you for sharing them, albeit unknowingly, with me. Much love.

 

Happy Thanksgiving Day!

Reflections
Reflections

I hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving day filled with family, love, laughter, and Joy.

Today is a day for reassessment, reflection and resolution. To look around at the blessings in our lives and to be thankful for those who sit at our beautifully decorated tables, to be aware that some people have no table to gather around with their loved ones, and for those we’ve lost, whose spirits now reside beside us at our table of gratitude and love.

Thanksgiving is a perfect reminder that though our lives are often filled with challenges and strife, our numerous treasures are always closer than we think. Today, hopefully we are sitting across from all the people we love and whose presence in our lives are the real gift of this season.

I wish all of you a Happy Thanksgiving and I am thankful for the guidance, lessons, art, laughter, joy and love I have received from each of you. I will keep all of you in my heart as I say Thanks.

 

With Peace and Gratitude.

#Gratitude

Under the Bridge
Under the Bridge

Happy Mother’s Day…

Happy Mother’s Day!

I would like to take this moment to thank my Mom who has been my champion and my tough love coach throughout my life. I learned from her how to stand through a storm and how to be an independent thinking and self-supporting woman. Our, complex and sometimes difficult relationship has evolved into a wonderful friendship, and that my be perhaps, the greatest gift of all.

I also want to thank the friends, sisters, teachers, strangers, and mentors who supported and challenged, pushed and shoved me into the woman I am today. Each friend, whether in my life now or in the past, has given me something valuable and everlasting and I am grateful for the lessons I learned from each of you along the way.

To my friends whose mothers have passed away, I know that today is bittersweet and I share in your sorrow and rejoice in the love that your mother’s shared with you and probably me, when they were here with us. Though they may be no longer with us, their presence is so strong, I know you feel their love and support, strength, and wisdom, through the stratosphere and beyond, because a mother’s love knows no bounds, no end and no beginning, the true definition of everlasting. They are angels you know by name.

To my friends who are not mothers, I hope you have had a peaceful day of reflection over the love you have received from your mothers, aunts, friends, sisters, confidants, and mentors. Imagine all the people who have touched your lives and helped you to stretch your wings and fly.

Finally, I would like to thank my beloved and adored sons, Noah and Jordan. For without them I would not know the motherhood joys of success and the staggering amounts of agonizing moments of self-doubt that consume all mothers, worldwide. They taught me to live what I speak, to show them who I am, faults and all, and to love unconditionally, with abandon and delight, holding nothing back.

I am blessed this Mother’s Day, I know that I didn’t get here alone and that my debt to all the women who have helped mold and shape me, has not been paid. Take heart, I have heard you, learned from you, and I appreciate all that you have done for me. I believe I am becoming the best version of who I was meant to be and I thank each and every one of you from the bottom of my heart.

 

 

 

Personal Shopper or Santa’s Elf?

I remember as a child thinking that a whole year, seemed like a lifetime of way too many tomorrows. Nowadays, the year seems to whizz by in a flash. Now my sons moan and groan that next week, next month or next year, will never get here fast enough. This year, I feel the exact opposite.

It seems like just yesterday I was running from one store to another searching for the perfect gift, at the last-minute, (don’t judge), and wrapping them in a marathon session while watching Scrooge, any drinking spiked eggnog. I am a procrastinator, and when it comes to Christmas, I don’t really get into a groove until the 25th or the 26th and by then everyone else is Christmas carolled out.

Maybe it’s the flailing panicked dash from store to store getting the “right” gifts, or the canned Christmas Muzak blasting through tin speakers with intermittent sale advertisements peppered with false cheer. Perhaps it’s the commercialism, the artful dance of dazed out consumer and ravenous proprietors that makes me oily and used. I’ve gotten to the point where I am just pushing through the holiday frenzy with barely time to enjoy the Holiday Spirit. Although I may indulge in a few spirits to get me through the throngs of  holiday shoppers who couldn’t be bothered to carve out their shopping time, parsing it out in drips and drabs over the past year, instead of rushing last-minute into the stores waving lists overhead, shouting and sweating in their  numerous Christmas layers. I know I already said I am one of these people, I thought it deserved another mention.

Although I haven’t reached “Humbug” status, the pressure is on to make this Christmas even better than last year. Frankly, I may be creating the problem myself; trying to top those spectacular “WoW” Christmas days when the boys were small and we got to play with the toys on Christmas day. Now it’s gift cards, video games, ipods, kindles, and worse yet, the dreaded, “just money,” requests. No more trucks, or puzzles or remote-controlled helicopters, (that we as parents had to play first, strictly for safety purposes),  But we were included and involved in the Reindeer games, tracking Santa, and making Santa cookies. Instead I have been reduced to becoming my children’s Personal Shopper. Is that why I am so grumpy? 

So, in an attempt to bring Holiday cheer to myself and everyone around me, even if it kills me, and should you also need Holiday cheer, I will post a photo designed to remind me that “Christmas Time is Here” and it’s not just about the gifts!!

And don’t forget, the end of  2013 is looming and the ushering of the 2014th year, is right around the corner. Then we will be bombarded with the 2013th end of the year highlight lists, but I’m getting ahead of myself. I remember when I thought 1999 seemed impossibly far off. 

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to All!!

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