Extended Warranty

There is not any sort of warranty of the heart, of love. I know of a woman who after three bad failed marriages, finally found her dear one and moved into his stunning beach house, and was so excited for her last chapters of life to be finally filled with laughter and travel and cooking together with this man who swept her off her feet only to, less than two years later, find out that her fatigue was not just mid-life tiredness, but ovarian cancer and within a year she was not of this earth. I know of a young woman who married her dear one and had their baby nine months later and before that baby was one year old that husband died, right next to her, in his sleep, leaving the baby fatherless and her dreams broken. I know of a woman who married her dear one who she had loved from high school and they worked so hard to pay for their wedding, then build their dream house, and before they had lived in it a year, she decided she didn’t love the house or him really at all. I know of a woman who had been picking out engagement rings with her dear one the day before she got a phone call informing her that she was dating someone else’s boyfriend and did she know he had another whole life on the side, and was expecting a baby?? Despite their hopes and intentions, there was no guarantee that anything any of these women planned for was going to go as planned. We all get these spam phone calls day after day, that our car’s extended warranty is about to expire and we will suffer the expense of unknown and unexpected repair costs…but what about the warranty on love, on people, on relationships, on our hearts…is there any way to help defray the cost, or the suffering, from those repairs???

I poured my heart out last summer when I was going through an upsetting situation and experience with the man I loved. I was confused and sad and completely blindsided by some things that happened with him, and to us, and I kept thinking to myself, “I didn’t sign up for this” but, I did, in a way, didn’t I?? WE have no warranty in relationships. We jump or slowly fall into them, but it’s with these wide open hearts and big dreams and giddy tickles in our spines…We dive into a pool that has no sign warning us if it’s deep enough to jump, or should we just slowly step in, one toe at a time…We simply have no way to know what might happen, what will happen, what could happen, what might work, what could go wrong…NOTHING IS CERTAIN and there is nothing we can do about it.

We get into our vehicles every day, planning to go to work or the grocery store, and that day could be THE day, and there is nothing we can do about it…we can plan our days & our futures, but all we can honestly do is live for today, each day, right here and right now. NOTHING WE TRY TO DO, no scheduled maintenance, no best intentions, no hard work, no precise planning, can stop what is going to happen that is beyond our control. Period.

I had planned on a way to solve my problem this summer and nothing, at all, went the way I planned. So I had to roll with it, rather than fighting what was out of my control. Guess what?? That’s all any of us can do every day…there is ultimately nothing that we control, despite our best intentions. I asked people for help last summer, people I thought I could trust and on whom I should have been able to depend, and they looked the other way, so I just plowed ahead with what needed to be done. This scenario of last summer can be replayed over and over in my head, but to what point?? Things went wrong and I did my best to handle them, and no matter how much I might wish otherwise, what is done is done. My last summer is not much different than those women’s ovaries, husband, house, or boyfriend…meaning, they all had plans, and those plans didn’t work out, period. We only can respond the best way we know how, to what happens in, and to, our lives, because otherwise, we beat ourselves up to death with wishing for what could have been different or should have been different, but it’s pointless… because what happened did, and is now over…all that can be controlled is how we respond to these repairs that have no warranty…

We might do proper scheduled maintenance on our trucks but end up smashed into a telephone pole…because things happen, no matter the efforts we take. It sounds so elementary to compare a truck to life, but…you might tend with so much care to your marriage, or to your house, but an unexpected cancer diagnosis or a faulty circuit breaker box can take away your spouse and your house, no matter how faithfully your performed the maintenance. BAD THINGS CAN HAPPEN to our trucks, our houses, and our relationships, despite our efforts to care for them. That’s it. There is no warranty that any of our plans will go as planned. There is nothing that we can do about anything except to try to live within the understanding that we want to be good people, and happy, and functioning members of a civil society, but that’s it…all we can do is the work to be the best versions of ourselves that we wish to be. My dad has always said it best, tomorrow you could be run over by a pie wagon. Period.

Giving thanks where thanks is due can be every day of the year, not just on a Thursday in November with turkey and pies. Despite all of your efforts to work hard, pay your bills on time, get yearly physicals, not participate in habits that damage your health, this year could still be your year to go from this earth…you don’t know and nobody else knows either…there is no extended warranty for us. None of us gets a phone call telling us that we can have another five years for this low today only price…you could answer your phone or look down at a text in your car today and those would be your last five seconds on this earth…things happen…you don’t know and can’t plan for it. All we can do is try to do what feels right to our spirit and hope for the best. Literally, nothing else can be done. This week of Thanksgiving, do that dear readers. GIVE THANKS. If anything in your plan, has gone as planned, give thanks. If you have a dear one and things are nice & lovely, give thanks. If you have a safe home and food on your table and in the cupboard, give thanks. If you have good health in your body and good relationships in your circle, give thanks. There is no extended warranty, find thanks for whatever is…now…

Rumour has it…

I read a quote recently that said something like, “sometimes people who need help don’t look like people who need help” and that walloped my soul and whacked my mind…we all wear masks in a way don’t we? Most of us play a role; some part we perform that is not necessarily our true self, or who we think we are…it’s the parts we auditioned for…earning husband, doting wife, obedient daughter, athletic son…cookie cutter parts of the “right” way to be, and some of us play multiple roles throughout the days of our lives. I’d say most of us try every day to engage in some meaningful way with others, and sometimes while we play our parts we are dying inside from any number of maladies…as the holiday season nears, please dear readers remember that everybody is likely fighting some sort of battle, and not all wounds are noticeable on our outsides, and scars are very easily hidden behind masks…Everybody hurts, sometimes, as Michael Stipe has told us all. When we hear bad things about other people, or bad things that happened to other people,or something that person did-experienced-said, whatever, most of us pause for that briefest of moments with one of those “so glad it’s not me” thoughts or relief, but rumours and stories are easy to misconstrue or to misinterpret and I am just reminding you, all of you dear readers, that what we all see on the outside of each other, or hear in a retelling, is not what always is.

I have always been a rather open person. If I put it out there then I understand I am open to criticism, however, I don’t have to absorb the jabs or duck from the punches…I can let the opinions of others go in one ear and out the other…I can heal on my own time by my own rules…I can be happy some days and sorrowful others…I can take as long as I need to tend to my upsets and if I choose, I can rapidly sweep any tears away and move on immediately with a new purpose and renewed sense of what will, or won’t, work. I can set new boundaries and nobody has to know where I stand but me, and I can slam the door on my “openness” just as fast as I kept it ajar…I watched the interview with Oprah and Adele the other night and I felt deeply connected to much of what Adele said, and how she was so open and honest about how writing made her address her feelings, and how being a mess in the public eye has its challenges, but it also lets other people see, and know, that it’s okay to be a mess and then you dust yourself off and start all over again. I loved how genuine she seemed about her roles as a woman in her personal life and not just the public mask she gives to the world. Oprah quoted her, that she is not shy or embarrassed to fall apart and I loved that, because on the surface, she sure looks put together; extraordinary talent, exquisite looks, enormous wealth…things any one of us would covet and she too was a mess, fell apart, and had to pull herself out of the ruts she felt she was stuck in…A PERSON WITH MILLIONS OF FANS probably cried herself to sleep just like you or I did…A person with more money and success than any of us can even imagine, and will never achieve, probably had days where she felt like a total loser and a shit of a mom, and sat on her sofa wondering how things could have gone so wildly wrong, and could not believe her good life could feel so bad…A PERSON WHO SEEMINGLY has it all, felt exactly like the rest of us have felt.

She has millions of fans. I have, I think, less than 300 followers, so amuse me a moment while I compare myself for a brief bit to Adele, but… I feel like it’s a good thing to BE OPEN and BE HONEST when things are going to total shite, and not just being open and honest when you are bragging about your honor roll kids, expensive vacation, over priced new car, or spectacular engagement ring, or perfect spouse…all of which are lovely, and fun to see on social media and via text or in real life, BUT life is not always rainbows and butterflies!!! Life is all too often dreadfully sad or scary or infuriating, AND IT CAN LOOK LIKE A PINTEREST PAGE while it is spectacularly imploding!!! I think it is a gift to everyone when you are comfortable enough in your flaws and failures to take off your mask and let the world see you. It gives those who might be too scared the freedom to break free from all the mask wearing…rumour has it that she really is a mess, rumour has it that his credit is maxed out, rumour has it that …LOTS of stories are behind the masks…let us try to be kind to those who are hiding still…

This dear readers is just a gentle pre-season nudge to remember that all of us, shall I write “all??” rather than some, or most, well, I think it’s true; all of us have suffered at one time or another with either a bad habit, a bad break up, a bad job loss, a bad addiction, horrendously bad decision, a terrible illness, an awful relative…SO much can be said about a person when all you see is what is on the outside…but rumour has it that what you see is hardly ever what you get…her highlights may be flawless and her manicure never chips but she sits and cries in the parking lot at Target wondering where she went wrong..his success is apparent by his fleet of work trucks and philanthropic generosity, but he goes home alone and sad to an empty house every day and wonders why he can’t find a meaningful or loving relationship…they get honor roll marks, they belong to all the right teams, but there is no laughter in their kitchen, there is nobody to help them with their homework or to wish them sweet dreams because their dad is already passed out and their mom is out at Macy’s buying things they can’t afford to fill the empty spaces in her soul…These are the people in your neighborhood, it’s going on right under your nose behind nearly every mask…What shows is not what is…the rumours that we hear about people and their lives are just words, their reality sometimes bites, and bites hard and causes wounds that can never be soothed, and for which there is neither a pain reliever nor an antibiotic that can heal…

If you are lucky enough to have no secrets, no scars, no mask, then please do spread that pure and purposeful clean living to others…Don’t be a judgmental jerk, be a giver of good vibes, positive advice, beneficial tips, opinions with kindness…There are people who are very much in need of love, support, resources, or guidance, and you don’t know they are so deeply in need because it doesn’t show… it seems to you like they have it all, but it’s not real…they need some help but it’s hidden from view. If you share your gifts of “how to make it in this world” or “look how I turned things around for myself” it might inspire someone to take off their mask and turn over a new leaf, make a change, make a choice, do something different that supports their future better self. I suppose my point in all these words is that, as the holidays near, just make that tiny nudge to always remember that a little kindness can go a very long way, a daily dose of gratitude is the best medicine you can take, and a smile to someone suffering might literally make their day or holiday season. If somebody falls, don’t look away and laugh, look them in the eye and reach out your hand to help them up….rumour has it that the holidays can be happier for the not happy, if you generously gift some of what you have in abundance, to those who are in need…

Don’t Look Back

In anger…oh, a new day is breakin’…you’re not going that wayyou’ll miss what’s right in front of you…artists write and sing about not looking back for a reason…it serves no positive purpose. We’ve heard it in songs and read it in books and it makes sense; unless you need to see what tripped you and made you stumble or fall, or to measure how far you’ve come from said stumble, what’s the point of constantly looking back?? I’m hard-pressed to find one. I try not to dwell on things, hold grudges, dredge up the past too frequently, or focus on what once was, rather than what could be…I really try not to beat myself up with all of that I wish I had known then what I know now stuff, or I could’ve handled that better-I should’ve handled that better self-flagellation…it’s like a little self-help book in my head that never closes, working hard to keep the words in between my ears good words. Looking back to errors in judgment or words you wish you could erase is just beating yourself up for no useful reason. I am focused on perpetually moving forward and moving on, “press on” my mom says when I do stupid things, flub up, or fail…press on. I think of myself as such a hopeful and positive person that it simply feels “off” to stay angry, or sad or upset for too long, it does not sit right with my soul and it certainly does not do right for my smile.

Do I forgive and forget too easily? Maybe. Do I sleep better than most everybody I know? I think so. EVERY night I talk to the universe and I say my little “prayers;” if I was a jerk I am sorry, if I acted selfishly I am sorry, if I was an a$$hole I am sorry, if I purposefully did something wrong I apologize and let it go…I suppose it’s no different than praying to God, or Gods and Goddesses, just the vast universe that is everything…putting it out there, in case there really is a greater power, something more than this, and letting me be free of any upsetting thoughts and pressing on. *I am truly sorry if I was not my best self today and I will try to do better tomorrow* seems to me to be as good a prayer as any. When my life has been VERY very bad or sad, the reality for me is that it’s been far more ‘very good’ and ‘very joyful’ than anything else. The highs have outweighed the lows in every year of my life on this earth. I don’t want to dwell on any long ago past upsets or more recent wrongs, I don’t want to remember stinky-sucky-sad feelings or upsets, they are over, done, gone… there is no point whatsoever in remembering things that don’t feel good and that don’t bring about good thoughts. Every single second, the second before, or the day before, or the week before, is gone…over…every single second is a new second to turn things around, turn a frown upside down as the kids used to say, move on, move up, flip a flop, make your fail into a fixxer upper. I alone am in control of the words I let live in my head and I alone am in control of my feelings and emotions so why on earth would I want to think about things that already happened, and make me sad, when I can just be present and happy and looking ahead to what joys might next come my way?? I am moving forward…growing.

I used to volunteer at the jail, when I was in college, every Tuesday…it was my day off, my daughter was in school, so it seemed like a good use of time…I worked with incarcerated men and women and every Tuesday when I got into my car at the end of the day I would sit in the parking lot and smoke a few cigarettes and cry my eyes out. Every Tuesday before I drove home was a Camel Lights-sob-fest, but it got all the heavy thoughts in my mind, out of my mind…it was a mental cleansing, something of a mind eraser. I would cry for the people who were stuck in a cycle that they simply could not seem to get out of, I would cry for a system that seldom seemed very just, I would cry for the people who had nobody who cared about them, nobody who missed them, nobody who wanted them to get better, do better, be better…I cried for people who looked back, hour after hour at how they could have done something other than what they did…their whole existence was looking back. I cried for the women who had lost custody of their babies, and I cried for the men who teared up when they told me how it hurt them, how much they had disappointed their grandmothers, and it all broke me, every story, every Tuesday…broke me into bits. Broke me into a woman who wanted to change the world, broke me into a woman who was sure she would get a job in the criminal justice system and find a way to make it better…and while I never got my dream job or changed the world, those broken feelings also built me into a deeply compassionate and empathetic woman, those feelings of despair that I had for others blossomed me into a person whose gratitude, daily deep gratefulness and thanks, became the thing about me that makes my world so bright, even when presented with various forms of darkness.

If every time you made a bad decision you let it eat you up inside and beat you to death with sad feelings and negative thoughts about yourself, that would be so stupid right??!! I mean, seriously, we are flawed humans, most of us make some bad choices at one time or another, and to be clear, some many more, and more frequently than most, but none of us are perfect…but why let imperfection keep you stuck in a bad mindset?? Just step off, get lost, let it go…not one good thing comes from focusing on the past or negative experiences that already have happened. Not one good thing…

Last week I had surgery on Thursday and turned 54 on Saturday. When you are stuck on the sofa you have plenty of time to reflect on important things if you choose to…Every year I like to think I can be a better version of the me that I was before. Each birthday is an opportunity to take an inventory; is my mind sharp, is my body strong and limber, how is my house and yard maintenance, how is my body and mind maintenance, how are my relationships…these are not moments to dwell or dig up old news, these are moments to reflect upon and from which I go on…I find great joy in the idea of being a better version, in some way, or all ways, of myself in the year ahead than I was in the year I leave behind. So on the sofa, with my leg on an enormous pile of pillows, I thought about how will I be a more positive me, and it was not a waste of time, it might be the best time I spent with myself in months…during my minutes, or maybe hours of thinking deep thoughts, I thought a lot about what my friend taught me years ago, that maybe she read in a book or maybe learned the hard way herself; that the narrative between my own ears is the only story that really matters and the only words that really matter, and I concluded that my positive outlook, my optimistic way of looking at the world, my way of pressing on, IS ABSOLUTELY the way I want to be.

Do I forgive and forget too easily? Maybe. Do I want to be happy and live happy and try, if possible to spread that happiness to others?? Yes. Am I going to sometimes look back and rehash bad thoughts that should not be remembered?? Probably. Am I looking forward to moving on into a new year with fresh starts and wisdom generated from wounds that are now healed?? Absolutely. Am I going to keep thinking about upsetting situations and events of the last year? NOPE. We have an expression in yoga class, “finding comfort in the discomfort” and for me that is Ardha Chandrasana, a pose that I simply am fearful of, and dare I write, I hate it, because I am always scared I am going to fall backwards, and fear is uncomfortable, and that is not only applicable for yoga class it is applicable for LIFE!!! Fear is uncomfortable. Fear of falling backwards is uncomfortable. Finding ease in the unease and comfort in the discomfort matters, I believe it matters more than I have a vocabulary to explain. Now, maybe to you it doesn’t matter. That’s totally fine. That is one of the beauties of this life we get to live, we choose what to think about and what to act upon, or not. We choose. When I regret something I wrote, said, or did, I recognize it for whatever it was, an error in judgment, or a mistake, and I move on…EVERY SINGLE DAY is a new day. LITERALLY EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENED THE DAY, WEEK, MONTH, OR YEARS BEFORE IS OVER. A person can think over and over and over, about things but all it is is infecting your own mind of thoughts of the past. Don’t look back is my thought process right now, a new day is waiting every day.

Next stop “Relaxation Station” …mind the gap

I do not relax well. I want to be a person who can comfortably be comfortable doing nothing, but…I am not. I want to be a person who can sit and read for as long as she likes, but when there are other things that need to be done, or let me rephrase, I feel that they should be getting done, I can’t relax to read if I feel that NEED/DESIRE to tend to tasks at hand. I want to be a person who can sit and binge a Netflix show, or series, or sit and crochet while I watch Sense and Sensibility or When Harry Met Sally for the bazillionth time, but I am a person who simply can’t seem to EVER relax enough to be comfortable doing nothing but RELAXing.

Dear R*, You are going to do exactly what the doctor tells you to do today. He already told you, at your last appointment, that you will need to plan to miss several days of work and rest with your leg elevated for at least four days, preferably six. He joked that he hoped your had Netflix. You will do what the doctor orders and your leg will heal better than if you are an idiot and do too much too fast. That is all. With love, R*

I am having a surgery later today on my “bad” leg and when it is healed I hope to never have to use the expression “my bad leg” again, but I am old enough to know that if I don’t do the work of healing, the surgery to fix a problem will not be as successful. I suppose it is much like the lady I sometimes see at Wawa buying cigarettes whilst holding her oxygen tank under her arm like a purse and the hose blowing up her nose…it takes a doctor AND a patient, to make healing successful. It is not some self aggrandizing “look at me, I’m not a lazy person” thing, and it’s not, at least I think it’s not, some mental disorder, this odd inability to relax and do nothing, it’s just not me to be fine with being still.

What is curious is that, since I joined yoga, just about four years ago now, I have learned that my breath and my breathing and my thinking about my breath and breathing can completely control my mind. I take breathing at yoga class VERY seriously. When the teacher instructs me to pay attention to my breath I pay attention to my breath. I don’t let my mind wander, I focus on breathing…so my point is, I have the control of my self to spend 75 minutes many times a week focused on my breath and I think this practice will help me to focus on healing my leg…if my mind starts to wander to laundry that could be done, or cleaning that could be done, or office work that could be done, just like in yoga, when my mind starts to wander I pull it back to focus on my breath, so to heal these next days, when my mind starts to wander I will pull it back to focus on my healing. I might do an exercise where I close my eyes and breathe and do my yoga practice in my mind…I am kind of excited about that…to be supine, with my eyes closed, focused on my breath, and see the poses and the motion and the flow in my brain…to be active while being inactive. I simply am not a person who is ever comfortable, what?? Being Comfortable??!! RELAXING??!! It is absurd. BUT for the week I have to be comfortable doing nothing; nothing but sitting or lying down with my leg highly elevated, for a minimum of four days, and preferably six…Relaxation Station, I’m getting off at your stop!!!

To be clear, in the cold and dreary winter months when my work is significantly slowed down, and I really do have a lot more “free” time, and if it’s raining, raw, or snowing and I am home during the day, I do indeed LOVE to be here and not have to do anything. When those days happen I am so content to cook or crochet or watch a movie or write or, my favorite thing, go on a loud music cleaning frenzy, I mean this is stuff that makes me SOoooo happy, and I am VERY COMFORTABLE BEING HAPPY. Doing things that make me happy when I am “Stuck” home is not feeling stuck at all, but they are also activities that are not resting, and resting is really what I have to do, starting later today when my friend drops me back off here at home. To Relax, or relaxing, is just not something that I am generally comfortable with, but today it is a must…so I am going to go for it with full enthusiasm, I’m going to embrace the laziness, I’m going to avert my eyes if I see a cob web, I’m going to pretend that both my legs have to be elevated, so that I am less likely to say something like, well, I’ll just vacuum for a minute, or some crazy idea I might have to do something OTHER than relax. I won’t be able to use the stairs for a few days, so I shall not be writing while I am relaxing. I have a basket of new yarn and ordered Apple tv and I guess I am just going to go for it…Relax, Be Comfortable doing nothing. It will be fun to see how I make out…It will be fun to see if I can be comfortable just being, and my yoga of the mind is something that I am a bit tickled by, so it could be I might get off at this stop “Relaxation Station” more often in my future!!