A dream is a wish your heart makes…

Cinderella got the boy when the odds were not at all in her favor.  I love the Dinsney cartoon and to be clear, I have seen the Drew Barrymore “remake” Ever After, probably as many times as I have seen Cinderella.  I believe, BELIEVE, in the stories, what my Mother always made be understand, be a good girl and good will always come to you, and what my father in his beautifully philosophical way taught me about making plenty of deposits in my karmic bank, that being GOOD and doing what’s  RIGHT and working hard, will always win in the end…

I’ve struggled and wrestled and battled through all  my adult life with the green eyed monster, “O, beware, my lord, of jealousy;  It is the green-eyed monster which doth mock.”  I’m not too proud to admit that I have cried myself to sleep a number of times in my life as a woman with the “what is wrong with me?” question swirling around my brain as I watched or knew women in my life who were “getting” the dream when I was not.  I hated myself, loathed myself, when I drank myself into nearly a Cognac induced coma the Christmas night my sister got engaged.  I have drank myself into dreamless sleeps many nights after being at weddings, looking at new engagement rings, wishing somebody I knew happiness, laughing at a bridal shower or a baby shower or any one of the occasions when the spotlight is on some other woman living her dream and it is embarrassing, deeply, to be this kind of person.  But alas, it is who I am, or who I became, and I am hopeful that someday I will “SEE” the wrongness of my thoughts and change.  But, change seems so slow and arduous when it is one’s self that needs changing.

I can change a room by rearranging the furniture and getting rid of hideous Thomas Kinkade prints and switching out some lighting.  I can change a space by painting a ceiling and painting the walls and painting the trim.  I can transform a yard by planting decorative pots and adding colorful annuals and flowering shrubs and pruning overgrown bushes.  I can transform a property,  a house, or a room, but still can’t seem to remodel me.

I’ve never walked away from a job and said, no, can’t be done.  I’ve never declined an opportunity to make a house or a yard better with my magic touch…all my work is always done with love, truly, I love what I do and whether I’m cleaning a refrigerator for a millionaire or raking leaves in a random yard, I do it from a place of caring, it’s just how I work…I’d never dig up a garden and then NOT plant it.  I’d never sand a wall and then NOT paint it, so why?, why I ask myself, do I constantly and consistently walk away from the job of reconstructing that which is me?

I have smudged, prayed, wished, had my tarot cards read, my palm read, have read too many “self-help” books to name…and I keep dreaming, yearning, waiting, to have the strength to be who I think I am, or ought to be.  I’ve been told I am “maladjusted” I’ve been told I am “bi-polar” I’ve been told I am “confused” I’ve been told I am “immature” …I’ve been told I am many things, and have at times believed these words that have come from the mouths of others.  I suppose I need to tell myself the right words, the true words, the helpful words that I know are the core of who I am, what I believe in, what I stand for, and believe them above all, because as juvenile as it may seem, I still deep down in my very soul believe “When you’re fast asleep, In dreams you lose your heartaches, Whatever you wish for, you keep.  Have faith in your dreams and someday Your rainbow will come smiling thru.  No matter how your heart is grieving, If you keep on believing, the dream that you wish will come true.”

Awake, Aware, and in Awe of it all…

…and you may say to yourself, well, how did I get here??   …is it that it’s dark at 5 that I feel blah, or is it that it is Christmas decorating time and I have not decorated anything that I feel blah, is it that our island is in ruin and I feel like I am chasing my tail running in circles with so much to be done and not getting enough done each week that I feel blah, is it just that my hormones are a mess and I just had my 45th birthday 21 days ago that I feel blah…I have so many questions and not many answers.  This is new to me.  I was the girl who always got the “A” and the extra credit…I was the girl who always had answers.

There are some “messy” parts in my life at the moment, and the slightly O.C.D. natured parts of me do not like messes, of any sort.  I am aware, painfully and sleeplessly so, that the only person who can “fix” these messy bits is me.  I’d like to write that I’ve got a plan, detailed ideas of how to take action and clean it all up,one step at a time, one day at a time, one task at a time, but I don’t.  I don’t know where to begin.  I suppose noting that I have a bit of a mess on my hands is at least the first step.  I know people who literally have huge messes to clean; people whose lives are still being picked out of debris piles on streets, and sifted through sand piles in what was once their driveways, or plucked out of the wet marsh lands that surround the place where their houses once stood…my mess is more figurative, less clear…but I suppose,  when I think clearly about it, the clean-up is the same.  One piece at a time.  One step at a time…and so, another clean-up begins here at the Jersey shore…


T:   three wee-girls, the awesome drummer boy, togetherness.

H:   house, health, hugs.

A:   affection, acceptance, attitude-adjustments.

N:   new love, new dreams, new future.

K:   kisses, kindness, karmic deposits.

S:   soul-sisters, sage smudges, supine Sundays.

…sure, the list can always go on, but spending a few minutes thinking about thanks, is a good lesson in figuring out what matters to us today and why.  We “deserve” nothing, are “entitled” to nothing, and in my ever so humble opinion, must earn all that we cherish, whatever it may be.

One could say that really giving thanks is having the wisdom to do it daily; but reality bites us too often, more often than not, and we simply go about our lives, seldom pausing long enough to say to the universe, or god, or to those who matter dearly to us, “Thank you,” for, well, whatever…so today I am very thankful and I hope I can train my brain to start to give thanks daily for all that is good and all that is right in my world.

Hold your tongue

One of my favorite lines from one of my favorite movies, (please don’t mock me, I love the film) Ever After, “do not speak unless you can improve the silence,” says the evil stepmother…I love the line but seldom heed the advice.  I wonder sometimes if I say things purposefully or if I just don’t think before I speak; both occurrences leave me wishing life had a rewind button.

I have often said and written these last four months that I am happier than I have ever been, that I was fine before with my “alone-ness” but that I love life so much better now that I am part of a pair, a couple, a unit, and then too frequently, carelessly I utter some statement or thought that, as soon as the words have left my mouth, I wish I could take back…I suppose we all do this, we are after all only human, we all have failings and regrets, and make mistakes, but still, I can wish to be better at being human.

I started a mental list last week before my birthday of things I want to change about myself, both on my inside and my outside.  I want to change them, the list is not terribly long, but then wonder if I have the energy to do so.  I wonder if wanting to make changes has any value at all, or if it is only the success of changing that matters?  I am of the mindset that the wanting and wishing carries no weight whatsoever and that it is only the purposeful act of changing a behavior that has significance.

I drove out early this morning to get coffee and to look at the bay; the beach road in my town is finally open, and I got to see some of the destruction that the recent storm has left in my town.  The sky was black with a perfect white crescent moon and so many stars, and I made a mental note that life is seldom so black and white, it is vastly filled with shades of gray…we can be happy or sad, in love or not, fat or thin, rich or poor, but really, the reality is, most of us are usually somewhere in between.  Words are this way I guess as well…they have definitions, but the context in which we use them, or the tone in which we utter them, is part of the gray…words alone can be misconstrued, misinterpreted, misunderstood.  In my effort to be better at my humanness, I want to hold my tongue when the words will not improve the silence, because after all, there can be no misunderstanding from a quiet smile, the touch of a hand, a loving glance, a gentle nod, or a soft kiss…those actions speak louder than words…

Mean Girls

I have known a few mean girls in my life; some personally in high school, maybe  one or two in grade school, and a couple just through stories of awfulness in my adult life,  and one last week  too close for comfort.   I find that for a girl like me, who I think most consider to be almost anything but mean, they are not easy to deal with, they confuse me, how they choose to behave and act.  They and their behavior are anathema to me.

Last week, here at the Jersey shore, we met a girl named Sandy and I think I can safely write that none of us liked her very much.  She stormed onto our island and into our neighborhoods and took everything from some of us and nothing from others.  We knew she was coming…for days, so we planned as best we could for her arrival.  She was more fierce than some of us expected and blew through town faster than most of us anticipated, but she left behind heartache and destruction like I only had seen on television and now have seen with my own eyes.

A very dear friend of mine lived in Bay Saint Louis, Mississippi a few years ago and met a very mean girl named Katrina. My friend did not have time to get over her bridge before the storm hit her small town and I have seen her photos with my own eyes and heard her stories with my own ears, and because of all the loss she suffered, and how deeply painful her recovery was and how long it took her to regain a level of comfort, and because I love her, I took the weather reports seriously and I prepared as best I could. In her honor I took the weather reports for tidal flooding and storm surges and 100 mile an hour wind gusts earnestly.  I had plenty of gas for the generator, plenty of food that would not quickly spoil, plenty of flashlights, candles, cash, and moved all my patio furniture and art around the yard and things that could smash through the windows…we prepared as best we could, here down by the bay in Barnegat, and then we very anxiously waited.

I was very lucky.  My house,which I built just three years ago, is 17.3 feet above sea level.  I knew this number because I helped site my property and was involved in every single phase of construction.  I heard over and over on the weather channel and radio that an 8 to 12 foot storm surge was expected here and because I am just tenths of a mile from the bay, I anticipated no major flooding, but because I live in a beach community, I knew that many of my neighbors both here on what we call the mainland, and across our bridge on what we call our island, were either at sea level or just above it and I feared for what that storm surge would do to them.

Yesterday in the late afternoon, after almost 7 days, we got power back.  I felt almost guilty for being so happy, because hours earlier I drove through a friend’s neighborhood and saw one of the prices to pay to have a waterfront view and the Atlantic City skyline as your back deck scenery…30 foot boats blown right through the backs of houses and out the front doors, houses pitched and perched at such an odd angle because they were nearly swept off their slabs and seemed to be standing by only the strength of a few 2 x 4 boards and some 10 penny nails.  I saw piles of debris in front yards, entire contents of homes, mounded up in what was once a front yard and what is now a brief history of a life lived, ready for a dumpster.  I know people both personally and indirectly who will not be “home” again for at least a year…so imagine my “guilt” that I sit here in front of my working computer, under lights, with heat, when I know that for many, all they want right now is what I have…a hot cup of coffee, a comfortable chair, and internet access…

I work on the small barrier island that was so badly damaged during this storm.  My family has been on ‘the island’ since the late 1840’s, but none of us live there anymore, it is however where I make my living.  My customers are all rather wealthy philanthropic professionals from Philadelphia and some from north Jersey who had the good fortune to buy beach properties when they were somewhat attainable or affordable to the upper middle class years ago, or who are simply part of the 1% in today’s economy who have the good fortune to have sufficient disposable income to not only buy a home at the shore, but to be able to afford the property taxes.

I love my customers.  Some of them treat me like a sort of helpful daughter, some of them simply are good to me and “find” work for me to do around their homes, some of them give me work all summer long and make lists of projects for me to do in the winter, and some only need me in the spring and fall to open and close up, but they all are dear to me, and are I say lovingly, my bread and butter.  Because of them, I have the life I have: Because they ask me to plant their flower pots, rake their yards, fill their gardens, pull their weeds, paint their bedrooms, freshen up their fascias, pressure wash their decks, and scrub their bathrooms, I am a single girl living in her dream house.   So I feel a bit guilty, that I am now going to be part of a major clean-up and “rebuild” of our island, that as winter nears and I normally am freaked out about hoping to find steady work for the winter, instead, because of this storm, I pretty much will have plenty to do all winter long…because of their loss I will have plenty of bread and butter…feeling secure through somebody’s misfortune is a confusing sensation.  Gratitude mixed with sympathy.

The man I share my life with came home yesterday and said, “people are being nice to each other.”  He announced this as if it were some surreal complexity of human interaction, but I knew what he meant.  Here in the southern part of the Jersey shore, we have something of a disconnect; the tourists versus the locals.  We locals don’t like that some of the tourists often have this rude horrific accent and demeanor, and needlessly honk their horns and often, in line at the store for example, we don’t interact much…an odd modern day segregation, us and them.  He noted that people were smiling at each other, speaking kindly to each other, asking, both curiously and with care, if somebody suffered damage, did they need anything… He told me that during the 17 plus years he lived in southern California, one of the most noticable differences he found when he came back to visit, was how nasty and moody and on edge people were in New Jersey compared to the pleasantly dispositioned southern Californians he lived amongst.

So we have suffered here at the Jersey shore from the mean girl named Sandy, but if somehow through her brutal treatment of our communities, we have found a way to pause before we are unkind to one another, and found a way to care about our neighbor in a way we did not before, and found a way to be less materialistic and less self-centered, then maybe, just maybe, we will be better off as a community because we met a mean girl named Sandy…