The Screen Door Slams…

If you are a Jersey girl like me you might think I am fondly referencing Thunder Road, but no…I am feeling an ache for a time, not so long ago, when every morning I heard the screen door slam as two joyful, laughing little girls bounded into my house, in their pajamas, before their mother had even made their breakfast or had her coffee, to look for their Elf, Everbloom Woodsong. If you have small children or grandchildren you might have read a book called Elf on the Shelf. In the story, on Thanksgiving night the Elf arrives from the North Pole and the Elf goes back every night to advise Santa about the behavior of the children. Let me tell you, it is an extraordinarily effective tool for behavior modification. For a month, as the Elf returns to the North Pole on the night of Christmas Eve, to help Santa with all that work, and does not come back to your home until next Thanksgiving, the children are positively stiff with worry or fear if they misbehave in the presence of the Elf, at least my wee-ones were!

Two little girls, who live next door to me, who are the daughters of my daughter, and the lights of my life, got a book and an Elf on a cold Friday in 2010, named her Everbloom Woodsong, and for seven holiday seasons they blew through my door first thing every morning for a month to look for Everbloom…she only once forgot to “go back” to the North Pole and it was because of bad weather! Ha-ha! We found Everbloom hiding in a Fiesta ware pitcher once, over top the stove, we found her in the wine rack once pretending to be a bottle, we found her reading books, we found her hanging from the loft balcony railing, we found her on the sofa, under the table, sometimes in the bathroom! That Elf worked really hard to trick those girls but they always found her, and they then could go home and get on with their day!

The eighth holiday season, only one little girl came one morning after Thanksgiving, and then a few days later, and then a week went by…and I felt an ache, a pull, a pain really, feeling that this bit of childhood magic was one that had had its last days…so on a cold November day, before the 9th holiday season arrived, two little girls who live next door to me got a letter, a beautifully penned letter on white glittery paper, adorned with snowflakes and sparkles, from the North Pole, to Barnegat, NJ on planet Earth, that was from Everbloom…telling them that so many babies had been born since they met, and that she was really needed at the North Pole, and how they were older now and would surely understand, and that maybe, someday, when they were grown and if they were mothers themselves with their own wee ones, they might meet again one day…I saved that letter, framed it, and it is now a decoration and part of my holiday joy. I look at it every time I go up my stairs. It makes me smile and frown at the same time. I miss many things about my granddaughters little voices, their wee joy and wonder, their laughter, that they used to treat this house like an extension of their own, the way they came here and went back and forth so many times over the days of their lives, but more than anything, on a gray winter morning near Christmas, I miss the sound of the screen door slam…

Where have all the good times gone?

Fact of my life: I had more fun and more laughter, and more ear-to-ear smiling in the last six months of 2012, which were the first six months of knowing a man I fondly started calling “the drummer boy,” than I had had in the 26 years of adulting, prior to meeting him. No matter what happened later, or during or since that first six months of knowing him, this is a fact that I could not deny when faced with a heavy decision that I couldn’t take lightly during the last few months…to give up and turn away or to press on and try again…When your life skids out of control, like it hits a patch of black ice and you horrifyingly spin-out, and you are not shy to share that your life had become totally and painfully unmanageable, it’s not always easy to get realigned and back on your path with grace or dignity of any sort…there are people who know your life was wonky for months and people who know how hard you cried and how sad, scared, and sullen you were for many weeks…so I can’t just wave my wand like Hermione, or do that nose wiggle like Samantha, or fling my high ponytail like Jeannie and make it all go away.

WHAT I can do is live fully today with how things are today. I can move forward with my head held high and know in my heart I have done the right things, taken the right course of action as a good and compassionate human, and know that for me, for this moment in my life, I am perfectly imperfect and okay with that. If my choices and decisions turn out to be wrong, then that is another lesson for me to learn in the future, and if my choices and decisions are right, then I am glad for them and glad that I followed my gut and did not let the opinions of others, or difficult circumstances during a difficult period of several weeks, sway me too far from my empathetic and compassionate and loving soul.

When you have gone through a difficulty or tragedy or sadness, or an event that is all of those things, it is rather easy to dwell on the bad parts and linger there, but it is not a good place to be, a cesspool of resentment and rage really, who wants to stay in THAT??!! Not me. When your brain is in a kerfuffle and you are struggling with choices to make and actions to take, thinking about all of the good times and how they outweigh the bad times is an effective tool for decision making, at least for me. When you are sad you can easily allow yourself to hold onto and linger with the sadness but then the good times memories get quashed and squished and are harder to access…best to file away the sad and refocus on the glad, in my experience anyway!

There are so many GOOD MEMORIES in my mind that are so much better, and so full of love and laughter from so many GOOD TIMES that they easily outnumber the bad feelings that are still quietly lingering in the background of my brain from a recent bad chapter in this, in general and overall, pretty great story… It is the right thing, for me, to move on with an open heart and an open mind, and to be honest, set and follow some new boundaries and some new “rules” for myself and how I interact with others, and how I care for myself, but to be clear it’s the right thing for me to move on with a positive mindset to create more good times and make more good memories, putting the bad feelings to bed in a way, really inducing a coma for them if I’m being totally honest…just be gone!! with a wave of a wand, a wrinkle of a nose, and a fling of ponytail…POOF!!

We, this drummer boy and I, are certainly are not the first couple, and won’t be the last, to go through a very bad event or series of unfortunate events and decide to try to repair what is damaged and strengthen what is still good, like that great lyric from PINK, we’re not broken just bent…we are certainly not the only couple who are two pretty good people who went through a pretty bad time…we are certainly not the first couple to have to have some difficult conversations to find our common ground again in order to move on…and we are certainly not the first couple to have to have a heart to heart HE-Said-SHE-Said about things that caused raised voices and were argued about.

I’ve lived long enough to know, whether people share their personal lives and personal business out in the open, or if they keep things totally locked and private and to themselves, “in house” so to speak, that more goes on behind most closed doors than anybody wants to admit…I just keep my door open I guess. All the good times you might see other couples having posted on social media, your neighbors or your friends going out and having fun, or famous people you read about in google news, are not always what they seem…sometimes good times are illusions that tell a tale and not a truth.

I suppose I want to be comfortable with the ugly parts of adulting and the sad parts of growing as a person, or the difficulties that often arise if you stay alive long enough…I am ending this year with a wide open heart for all of the good that comes to your soul with welcoming in a new year. I am totally comfortable with envisioning myself years from now, laughing, but rather horrified, at what a crap of a year 2021 was, and being bright eyed with how delighted I am, my future self that is, that 2022 and on was so much better, and so filled with good times, and filled with more memories made of more fun and laughter…the good times are there for the living and the taking and the doing. I shuffled my brain, reorganized my files so to speak, to make some room for more merry memory making!

Other “F” words

Forgiving and Forgetting are the words on my mind this morning. THE “F” word does not trouble me nearly as much as these other two…I have no problem muttering under my breath for somebody to go F*off, F* yourself, go F*ing die, but “I forgive you” or “let’s just move on and forget about this” well, those are doozies for me!! I F*ing loathe them!!! But they are necessary in the art of letting go and growing and they are the F words of my own “Super Soul Sunday” today.

I finished a memoir last week, written by a young monk who basically said, well, the way I summed it up for my own understanding was, what good is dwelling on somebody who hurt you, or lied to you or did you wrong, when instead you can just forgive and move on?? We hurt our own selves every day and we lie to ourselves every day and we do some things wrong almost every day, yet forgive our own selves and just try to move on and do better, so why do we make it hard to give that same kindness or empathy to somebody else??? This was a very small book that packed a big punch! On the author’s web page he is described thusly: “Timber was born Jewish, ordained Buddhist, uses a Hindu mantra, and his morning meditation is a Catholic prayer. His altar at home features a statue of Jesus, one of the Buddha, another of Saint Francis of Assisi, and they get along just fine. On paper, Timber Hawkeye is a bestselling author, a podcast producer, a publisher, and an international public speaker, but in person, he is just another friendly face in town.” He signed my book when I bought it and wrote: To RStar, discover the freedom and the beauty of letting go…and I took this to heart.

I was away for a few days last week after Thanksgiving; friends invited me to spend some time at their vacation home in the Virgin Islands. I was grateful for a chance to not HAVE TO DO ANYTHING OTHER THAN BE. I read and wrote every day and did a lot of contemplating about a lot of things. I realized that I prefer the happiness of my personality when I remain positive and hopeful and optimistic and cheerful even in the face of difficulties or sadness. I realized after finishing this book, that I do really work hard to practice the two F words of forgiving and forgetting, but sometimes the opinions of others or the words between my own ears make me steer away from that freedom, of forgiveness, and I do not want to be a woman who dwells on bad stuff, or sad stuff, or old news of old wrongs or pains. This kind of behavior does not serve me.

When somebody hurts you, and they apologize with sincerity, and you accept the apology there are two pretty important steps that come after; forgiving and forgetting. You can disagree with me all you want, but I feel pretty sure that these are necessary for moving on, whether you ever speak to said person again, or not, these steps are part of the healing process of a hurt, and if you don’t take the time to do one, or both, there are thoughts and emotions that linger and they can EAT YOU ALIVE for the rest of your life. Staying angry at a person who has wronged you is, as I misquote the Buddha, like holding onto a hot coal and thinking the other person’s hand will burn.

Accepting a humbled and heartfelt apology is a challenge in and of itself, but in order to not dwell on any event that caused suffering you have to let it go…literally, the only way to not suffer is to not hold onto the hurt and once you say, I accept your apology, you can’t then go backwards over and over and discuss the event again, it just stirs up the sludge that has settled…forgiving and forgetting is healing.

I suffered some difficulties over the summer that left me bereft, and I needed to start this new year with a clear head. I needed to move on from the thoughts of what had happened and I needed to change the narrative…things could have been exceedingly worse than they were, and so for me, forgiving and forgetting is how I let go. I am just turned 54. I might have one week left on this earth or I might have forty more years, who knows??!! WHY would I spend one more minute lingering with any thoughts of what went wrong over a period of 13 weeks or so of one summer, when I have lived many summers that were much happier, and I potentially have many summers ahead of even more happiness??!! Thoughts that do not serve me of events and behavior that can be forgiven and a summer that can be forgotten seems like something that I can control and choosing to control these thoughts, forgive and forget and let go, feels good. I am a happy person and I am a cheerful person and the only person I can control is me. The things that somebody else did wrong are things I can’t control, but how I deal with them is. The things that people said or the opinions that people have, are things I can’t control, but how I listen or comprehend and then act accordingly, or not, are.

Forgiving and Forgetting, well that doesn’t mean that I was not angry, or sad, or hurt, or mad…forgiving and forgetting FREE ME. That might be the best F Word of all…FREE. I am free to choose happiness. I am free to choose to look on the bright side. I am free to say, I forgive you and I accept your apology. I am free to look back on nearly a decade and ask myself, “Was it a relationship of 50% joy and 50% crap?? Was it a relationship of 90% some kind of wonderful and 10% dreadfully woeful??” Is this the barometer for everybody?? No, but is it the barometer for me?? Yes. We all have choices every day to make…do we merge or yield, keep smoking, stop drinking, take up jogging, stay at this job, move from this house, cheat on our wife, lie to our husband, quit, love…choices that either free us, to make room for more happiness, or freeze us, stagnation and in a constant state of dwelling on bad news. I am choosing the F words that make me feel mighty fine…forgiving, forgetting, freeing me to keep choosing joy and creating it wherever and whenever I can…the glass is nearly full all of the time for me, and I don’t intend to let a total crap of a chapter in a whole book of life turn me into a glass half empty kind of person…I let go.