Primum non nocere

First do no harm.  As much as I adore waxing poetic about how much love is in my life it’s a fact I often dismiss, that the love I have FOR myself, and the love I GIVE myself, is often insufficient.  When we read or hear about the term “self harm” it’s frequently in the context of teenage girls who cut themselves or boys who inhale solvent, but self-harm is sadly very easy to inflict…every time I eat something that is not healthy but simply delights my taste buds, every time I drink more alcohol in an evening than I know my liver can possibly metabolize efficiently, every time I choose to sit by the fire and crochet and watch Pride and Prejudice instead of taking a walk or doing some squats or crunches, I am committing the crime of self-harm, and while there are no statutes that could land me in jail, the sentence for these criminal acts is an adult life filled with dread and guilt and prescription drugs and doctor visits.  I’m a person who next month will no longer have access to affordable health care.  I received a notice that the subsidy I get now, which allows me to pay a price per month that I can afford, is going to go up six times, making it a monthly bill I cannot afford, and as a result I am even more aware than ever, that the expression, Primum non nocere, first do no harm, needs to start with my own cells.

I discovered last November, after my hysterectomy, and difficult and unexpectedly harder recovery from a cut bladder, that I have taken my excellent health and good fortune to have good DNA, for granted.  I take no daily meds, I have no disease, I have no illness, I have no problem for which I have to take pharmaceuticals which may cause any of the myriad of disgusting side effects that are explained in great and gross detail on every other television commercial.  Other than the gynecologist last year, I had not been to a doctor since December of 2012 when I was having Airborne for breakfast and Ny-Quil for lunch and for days felt like I had eaten a Brillo pad.  I count myself as one of the lucky ones in this way.  My father takes no medicines and has no doctor.  Other than thyroid hormone and blood pressure pills, my mother is not a participant in big-pharma either, and while I feel glad that my genetics have not predisposed me to medical disasters or diseases, I am well aware that it is my responsibility to my own self to care for this body.  My pretend husband and I will perhaps become real marrieds when I need to have access to affordable health care and can only get it by being a spouse, with a partner who works for a giant corporation, which he does.

I am a self-righteous jerk when I see a person in line at WaWa buying cigarettes, and then milk and orange juice with an EBT card, while wearing an oxygen hose coming out of her nose, and I get mad and think, I can’t afford health insurance but this jerk gets to smoke cigarettes and my quarterly income taxes have to help pay for her oxygen!!!  BUT, that is the world we live in, and so, I accept that my tiny business will contribute to the pot, that the poorer than I get to take from, while I work but yet earn too much money to draw from the pot to which I contribute…which seems horrifically unfair, but it appears that this is the way of the world…okay, off my high-horse of jerkiness…

I guess my point today is that I know it is my job to care for my own self as best I can.  Since August I have lost 19.2 pounds, and while I have quite a way to go to get into my skinny jeans, the fact that I am at least making efforts to get into my skinny jeans is, to me, a good start, better than just wishing to wear them and actually making changes to make it happen.  I did not drink any alcohol for 36 days when I first tried the Whole30 plan, and during that 36 days I also had no candy or baked treats or sugar or dairy and while I really struggled some days with all of it, all of it was not that hard.  I am now doing my own version of Whole30, but this version does not try as hard to be compliant and does enjoy an occasional cocktail or glass of wine, and last night did enjoy some mint chocolate chip ice cream…so what I am admitting is that I am not in fact living as purely as I should be living if my goal is to love myself the best that I can.

To counteract the tequila we bought in Mexico and have enjoyed since we arrived back home, and the box of Good & Plenty that I ate the other day at work and called “lunch,” and the ice cream I enjoyed last night but certainly did not need, at all, I’m today taking my first beginner’s yoga class at a new studio in a neighboring town.  I don’t know the last time I exercised “on purpose” but can tell you it has been a long time.  I read a text the other day that said, “this is the last chapter of your book that is 2017 and you are the author, so make it a good one” and I thought, yes, why yes I am the author and it is my last chapter of what has been a pretty good year, so this last chapter is going to have some healthier food choices and fewer alcohol indulgences and some Om chanting and some bending, breathing, and stretching and just maybe, and rather likely, I won’t only first do no harm, I will in fact do a great lot of healing…

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Ful of it

Thoughtful, thankful, plentiful, joyful, grateful, beautiful, bountiful, wonderful, helpful, colorful, flavorful, peaceful…you get where this could possibly be going, yes?  Life is so incredibly full of  ful-ness that it often makes me cry, particularly during this time of year.  My tears of happiness and blessing recognition during the  Thanksgiving season are not all that much different from my tears of happiness and blessing recognition during the other 51 weeks in each year, and sometimes I simply can’t hold in all that emotion.  There is much gratitude to be had, or is it given?  I’m not sure of the action word here, but I am sure of the feelings that are in abundance during this holiday.  When giving “thanks” is part of the requirement of the celebration, we all could think of something, even if it is only just one single thing, to be grateful about.

If you are reading this blog, whether you are a stranger or someone I know, like me, you are probably living a really good life.  Sure the news makes you mad, or you just put on your black pants and your dog rubbed up against you before you could get out the door, or your husband’s inability to get his dirty clothes actually into the hamper annoys you and indeed, if you hear somebody yell “mom!” one more time before you have even had your first sip of tea, we get it, you could really blow your stack…but you have a television to watch the dreadful news, a dog that loves you, or a husband and clothes, and a house or children and warm tea…you HAVE, even if you are, in the big scheme of things, a have not…It’s easy to be full of ful-ness.

Even those who are struggling with demons or grief or financial hardships or are aching with loneliness, are living a life that is far better than a great number of people who are also alive at this very moment on this very planet.  There is so much sadness and despair and need and wanting in this world, and that my life (and likely yours as well) has so little of any of those things, still makes me shake my head in disbelief …why me?  why am I this blessed?  why did I get so lucky?  I suspect we all ask the questions, and in no way does the questioning diminish the importance of the wondering, and this time of year especially, it is easy to be overwhelmed with realization of such good fortune and to be completely at a loss for words because there is so much that is good.   You could be living in Biafra! was one of the things my dad would say to us when either my sister or I complained, while we were growing up, and while I did not know, or really even care, where Biafra was at that time of my life, you can be sure I understood what my dad was getting at…

I wore Calvin Klein jeans, took multiple dance classes, my sister had horses and pets, we were never cold or hungry, we took a yearly family vacation, we had nice houses, my parents had good jobs, a happy marriage…we never ever “wanted” for anything… our father insisted we say grace every night before we ate dinner because “there could be a drought!”  From a young age we understood and learned that much of the world was  suffering much of the time, and my parent’s recognition of the fact that we were not suffering, any of the time, is one of those gifts they gave to us without realizing they were giving it…they cultivated in me a compassion for others who have less that has not waned and I find the older I get, the more empathy I have…babies are being neglected and abused, children are being molested, teenagers are being indoctrinated, families are being bombed and raided and people are hungry…it’s true that there is so much that is devastating here on planet earth, but I feel quite strongly that if your life is not full of any of that sort of suffering you might consider expressing your thanks whenever possible…

Even when my wallet is thin, my heart is full.  THAT is something for which I am thankful.  Even when my pantry or refrigerator seems empty, I am able to create a delicious meal to feed the people I love sitting at my table.  THAT is something for which I am thankful.  When I am feeling sad or worried, I have friends and family who would give me their ear to listen or their shoulder to cry upon.  THAT is something for which I am thankful. Even when I have had a restless night of sleep, at least I had crisp clean sheets and a comfortable mattress on which to toss and turn, under a good roof and upon a solid foundation.  THAT is something for which I am thankful.  It’s not hard to be full of the ful-ness and, zero calories on second helpings!  Even better, you never have to adjust your belt or switch into stretchy pants.

 

Name that tune

He was listening to Robert Plant and I was listening to Robert Smith.  He knew every lyric to every Rush song of every album he owned, and I knew every lyric to every R.E.M. song of every album I owned.  When he was an actual rock star, playing drums on the Sunset Strip, I was a young  single mother watching Fraggle Rock with my toddler.  While he was touring the country and giving interviews to metal band and musician’s magazines, I was interviewing babysitters for my preschooler.   He was having hot fun with different hot chicks in different cities and I was making hot meals to nourish a growing child’s brain, and working hard to keep my house hot in the winter to warm her growing little body.  His need for hot, and my need for hot, were not at all the same kind of heat.  We were not in tune.

To clarify, we did not know each other existed either, but that is not the point of this story.  We were living, and had lived, two completely different lives.  Diametrically opposed I suppose you could say, just not at all relatable to each other, with no chance of our paths intersecting. We missed knowing each other by seconds, hours, days, or months as teenagers; we roamed the same halls in high school for a couple of years, and had a great number of mutual friends, yet nobody, not one person, ever introduced us or thought we should know each other.  As teenagers, I almost always had a boyfriend and he almost always had a girlfriend, and he liked short girls with long hair, but I wore high spiked heels and had short spiked hair.  It’s no wonder he never noticed me.  He lost his parents as a teenager and from some stories I’ve heard,  was something of a Lost Boy much of the time, but I had incredibly strict parents and was grounded much of the time throughout most of my teens. We were not in tune.

I suppose when I think about it, it is only “right” that we never even noticed each other back then, but here we are as ‘middle-aged’ people, quite in love for over five years now, and still laughing about how we were not at all on the ‘same page’ EVER in our lives before the July night when we first met.  He knows what I am thinking almost all of the time, and it is not unusual for him to say exactly what is on my mind before the words come out of my mouth.  We think the same thoughts about most of the same things.  We are the best of friends, practically inseparable, and are like the Welch’s concord grape jelly to the other’s Jif extra crunchy peanut butter.  We are in tune.

I’ve read countless novels and memoirs, and seen plenty of movies to understand that there is a universal understanding that the universe brings you the people you need to know when the time is right for you to know them.  It sounds quite a bit like New-Age mumbo-jumbo The Secret sort of malarkey doesn’t it??  BUT, to a woman like me, it sounds perfectly believable!  To be clear, there are countless things about us now that are not perfectly agreeable…for example, his desire to watch football or sports, or play golf when there are chores or yard work to be done, and I am sure there are lots of things that I do that drive him nuts, namely being annoyed that he likes to watch golf or football on a weekend afternoon more than he likes to do yard work or chores!  (insert laughter here)  His desire to watch tv at night as a way to fall asleep, is in complete contradiction to my desire to read books at bedtime and then sleep deeply in a dark and silent room.  As you can clearly surmise, this is not a blog in which I will blather on and on about our stellar compatibility and blissful cohabitation all these last five years, but it is a ‘thank you’ of sorts to him, for being, over all, a very good fit for me; a woman who, before him, did not, or could not, find a man who could otherwise so seamlessly fit at all so well into her world…

Do you remember the show?  “I can name that tune in four notes!”   Much like knowing a song in only four notes, I believe we know a lot in the first few moments that we meet somebody.  I learned the hard way; the brutally awful and dreadfully unexpected hard way, that the words people say and write are not at all the same thing as WHAT or WHO a person is, or does, and behaves.  To explain that I was a bit skittish and hesitant to expect or anticipate ANYthing, when I met this man five years ago, who  I now love, and from whom I feel so loved in return, is a gross understatement.  I had, just the year before, been an unknowing participant in a big bamboozle, where a person projected and presented a persona that was so false, and so horrendously inaccurate of what and who he actually was, that I was not at all open to meeting anybody, and honestly had told a number of friends that despite my enjoyment of being part of a couple, I had everything I needed in life and would be perfectly content to never date again if that is how it had to be for me.  I did not think I was up for the challenge of meeting somebody again.  I was “over it” so to speak.  Three times I backed out at the very last minute when we were supposed to meet…cold feet, legitimate fear, or just disinterest in another potential heart-breaking & soul-crushing disappointment.  I  was very timid and certainly not interested in the shock of an unsuspected let down.  How glad I am that the third time I cancelled our meeting he chose not to take my ‘no’ for the answer.  Had he accepted my “no, it’s too late, I don’t feel like going out” we might never have met.  He might have simply given up and found me too annoying, or to be a woman who might require more effort than he was willing to exert.   We are, more often than not, now acting like a couple of crazy-in-love teenagers rather than “older” people.  I think he is as happy as I am that we did finally meet, and did finally find ourselves on the same page, in the same story…

After a fantastic time in Mexico for my birthday, where he surprised me with a special meal and beautifully set table at a romantic French restaurant, he surprised me again with a  party the night we arrived back at home…he surprised me with a room full of friends, and my daughter and her husband, and my parents, and in the second that it hit me that I was being surprised, as I noticed familiar faces, saw the balloons, and a moment later heard the word  “surprise!!!”  I realized with tears in my eyes that there might never be a relationship when two people are totally in tune all of the time, but that I have finally found the melody and the harmony to the lyrics of my life, and I know now that when the music feels like a love song most of the time, it’s a tune that should be celebrated…

 

 

 

 

 

 

Making Wishes

I can tell you with total honesty that almost every wish that I ever made never came true.  I can tell you with total honesty that almost everything I planned did not go the way I hoped or anticipated.  I can tell you with total honesty that almost everything I thought would happen for me, or to me, didn’t.

TWO wishes (or plans or hopes, whatever you like to call them) did; when I found out I was going to have to become a mother, I wished, desperately, for a girl, and later, when I signed up for my very first college classes after her first birthday, I wished to do better in every class than everybody else.  Those are the only two things that “worked out” for me.  Nearly 50 years of making wishes and only two actually came to be.  This is not a woe-is-me pity-party blog, this is simply a recognition that life can be rather splendid even when nothing really ever goes your way, because I can tell you with total honesty that hardly anything ever went my way, and still, I am really happy.

I have many memories of making wishes as I blew out my candles on birthday cakes year after year.  I never stopped wishing, I never stopped dreaming, and I never stopped thinking “always on the bright side.”  I never stopped making “plenty of deposits in my karmic bank.”  I just simply felt, believed maybe, that life is a whole lot better when you remain optimistic.  EVERY day doing your best to find a silver lining, because, well, why not?  There will always be clouds so you might as well look for the silver linings.  Which brings me to the paragraphs about silver linings…

Here is a photo of me on my 20th birthday as my baby tries to blow out my candles.

Here is a photo of me on my 40th birthday as her baby tries to blow out my candles.

I can tell you with total honesty that somehow, although hardly a thing went the way I hoped it would go, and hardly a thing happened the way I wished it would happen, here I am, just weeks before my 50th birthday, silver lining seeker that I am, completely overwhelmed with one simple fact that has followed me for all the years of my life on this earth; I have loved, and been loved, more than I ever could have possibly wished for.  On even my darkest days the silver lining of my life is that I always had somebody to love, and knew that somebody loved me.  While it’s true many people judge their success or failure in life by what they have amassed or achieved or attained, if we choose instead to judge success by how much love we have given, and have been given, I feel like I could be a winner.

During the summer I was in line at the market at the beach where I work and a lady in front of me was buying lots of “goodies,” muffins, cookies, chocolate milk…and I said to her, “that is a fun bag of groceries you have there.”  She said how excited she was, that she was going to see her grandchildren that day, and that she had not seen them in over a year.  She was wearing a diamond ring on her finger that was as big as a dime.  She had a handbag on her shoulder that cost more than I earn in a month.  She had on Tory Burch flip-flops that cost 10 times what I paid for my Havaianas, and she had not seen her grandchildren in over a year…you want to talk about feeling rich??!!  I said to her that I hoped she had a great visit and that I live next door to mine.  “You live next door to your grandchildren?” she asked, and then she said, “I would give anything to have that.”  A lady who left the market and got into a car that cost more than I make in three years of work, with her fancy purse, and her big fat engagement ring, in her $198 flip-flops would probably really love it if she saw her grandchildren more than once a year…I felt like I could be a winner…

We all value the elements of being alive, the experiences of life if you will, differently, and while I am sure many people would rather be rich than loved, since I am far from rich, and I have no idea what it would feel like anyway, to have plenty of money and to not worry, month after month about it, so clearly I can’t  compare them, but I do know what it feels like to be loved, and it feels really, really good.

When I am around my wonderful parents, I sometimes think, if you are lucky enough to have parents like mine, then, you’re lucky enough!  When my handsome affectionate drummer boyfriend smiles at me or kisses me, and my toes curl and my spine tingles and my belly gets those butterflies, I think to myself, I am crazy in love with this man and oh how I wish we met when we were young, because I could have been feeling like this for the last 33 years!  When my daughter texts me a photo of her radio screen while she’s in her car, showing a song that she used to love, and bringing up my memory of her singing her heart out to it beside me in the car when she was little, I feel loved. When my granddaughters lean into me for hugs as their school bus pulls up to the driveway, or thank me for some kindness, or text me out of the blue, I feel loved.   It might have a value of ZERO to many, to have those feelings, and that is okay for them, but it turns out for me, it’s a bit of a big deal.

It’s certainly no way to  keep up with the Joneses, as you really can’t compare your cars or your vacations to a text I received with heart emojis from a little kid…you simply can’t compare material things to love things.  In these many years on this planet, at least that I’ve  learned.  While it’s true that all my years of making wishes on birthday cake candles did nothing really, in the big scheme of things, here I am  loving and being loved in ways that some might only dream of.  So funny really, for me, this is what ‘came true,’ and it was nothing I ever even wished for…

 

I don’t know where I’m going, but I sure know where I’ve been…

I am soon having a birthday, three weeks actually.  I am told it’s a “big” birthday, but I love my birthday any year, every year, so to me they are all pretty big, but I get it, this is quite the thought, to have been alive for a half of a century to celebrate the “big 5-0!”  I will not be at home for this birthday, and I will not be with my mom and dad for this day and I will not be with my daughter, or her daughters, for this day.  I will be with the man who makes my heart sing, in Mexico, at a resort, on a beach, probably drinking a very non-whole30-compliant cocktail, maybe for breakfast actually.  A trip we saved up for, for years, and while we have watched many, all really, of our friends and families take vacations, and wished them a good time and safe travels, we were always wishing for when it would be ‘our time,’ and here it is, our time to have an adventure together!  I am planning to be beside some sort of Mayan ruin in Tulum on the day my parents celebrate the day they first became parents, and I suspect I will be thinking about where I have been, and where I have yet to get, and how infinitesimally small I am in the big picture, in the big scheme of things, in our big galaxy, in our big universe on my “big day.”

I have been many things in these years on this earth; I have been a much wanted baby daughter, I have been a much confused teenage girl, I have been a not very well cared for wife, I have been a read a book every night I tuck you into bed mother, I have been a cheated on girlfriend, I have been a top of her class college graduate, I have been a hard worker, I have been a prosecutor’s office volunteer report writer, I have been a pack a day smoker, I have been a person who quit smoking, I have been a read a book before I tuck you into bed Nana, I have been a design your own house with your mom and build your own house with your dad woman, and I have been a so lazy on a Sunday all I did was go from my bed to my sofa and crochet and watch Pride and Prejudice in front of the fire kind of person…

I have been many things to many people, and I have been many things to myself…I have been so blissfully happy and I have been so breathtakingly devastated.  I have been so proud and I have been so disappointed.  I have been so fearless and I have been so scared.  I have been so confident and I have been so embarrassed.  I have been so strong and I have been so weak…I have been a shoulder for a friend to cry upon and I have needed a friend to cry to…

If I have learned anything as I begin my 51st trip around the sun, it’s that I can be and have been, whatever or whoever I need to be, when I need to be her.  I have loved so much that I thought I might explode, and I have hated so much that I thought I might actually be capable of violence…it is amazing when you think about different moments of the life you have lived and realize how so very far you have come and what you have experienced, and yet, how there is so very much you still want to do…

I saw a photo a few weeks ago that said “Wonder Woman is a state of mind” and I have been thinking about those words since I saw it.  I have become the person I needed to become for every situation I have lived through thus far.  I’ve also had a lot of thoughts these last few weeks about the life I still have to live ahead of me, and what ought I do with the lessons and experiences that were my “before.”  Like most women, I guess perhaps men too, I am not at ALL where I thought I would “be” by the time I turned 50, and I never achieved the success I worked to reach, or the financial comfort I worked to secure, or the world travel I hoped to enjoy, but I did learn a lot in these years on this big blue ball…of ALL the things I have learned I suppose the most important is that I can get through anything, as  I found out, sometimes really by accident, and sometimes in the most painful and horrid ways, and I am MUCH stronger than I thought.

I found out that I can take a lot of upset and still come out smiling and hopeful, and full of optimism for another day.  I found out that I can handle so much more than I expected I could.  I found out that even when you think you can not take one more breath because things are just not going your way, you inhale again and things somehow sort themselves out…not necessarily how you wanted them to sort out, or maybe the resulting outcome you were expecting did not materialize, but you wake up the next day and the sun is coming up and you survived hours that you thought might finally be the hours that do you in…

These are all the BIG thoughts I am thinking as I near this BIG day.  As I write this morning, this day is the 1st anniversary of my daughter’s new marriage, and the speech I wrote for her that day started with, “as a parent, you can’t wish for much more for your child than for her to be happy and loved” and as I think about those words, I think maybe as a person, you can’t wish for much more than this for yourself, than to be happy and to be loved…and here I am, both.

I don’t know how much more blessed or lucky I could hope to be as this birthday nears…I don’t know where I’m going, but I sure know where I’ve been, and my heart keeps on beating and loving and growing, and I keep dreaming and imagining and planning…I never stop believing that the things I think are important, do matter, and I never stop believing that every day I can make some difference in some way to some body, and that being positive is good for my mind and my body and for the people around me…I have far to go but I have come so very far and I am, after all, the author of the rest of my story…

Cross Words

I have been trying these last few days to wrap my head around how a person can have so much hate in his heart, and for himself, that he would plan to kill dozens of people who just wanted to have fun at a concert listening to live music, outside, in a city.  I have been trying these last few days to wrap my head around how a person can have so much disregard, anger, derangement, I don’t know WHAT to call it, that would make a person want to kill people he did not know and who did not do him wrong, in a mass shooting.  I have been trying these last few days to wrap my head around how a man can order equipment to modify guns that he already owns so that the only purpose of the modification is to kill a large number of people in the shortest number of minutes.  I guess what I can’t understand is what words must have been going around his head during all of this planning…

I understand ‘crimes of passion’ like when you walk in on your husband making out with his secretary, or find your wife in the backseat of your car with your gardener…I get that.  I get it, that that kind of fury could make a person pull a gun and kill the person who is causing the pain.  I do not “get” what must be in a person’s brain to bust out windows in a hotel suite and take the weapons that he modified to randomly shoot people who he did not know, so my mind has been heavy with thoughts about what words we let linger in our brains.  An unthinkable attack, by a man who obviously thought a lot about what he wanted to do and was going to do.

The words that we let sit or swirl or rot in between our ears becomes our hour after hour narrative.  I feel like a mentally ill person who has access to weapons probably has a very different internal narrative than a man or woman who enjoys venison or elk and has guns for hunting, or a husband and wife who like to shoot clay pigeons for fun on weekends in the fall.  I think that there is nothing wrong with having a gun for hunting or sport or if you are one of those fearful folks who “needs protection” then fine, even to have a gun to feel you can better protect your family and your home, okay, I get that…but none of those things are related to a mentally unstable person and his choice to murder numbers of strangers. The narrative that would make a person purchase many more guns than a “normal” or “reasonable” person would ever need for any thing, and modify some of them to be nothing more than killing machines I imagine, is not at all the same narrative as that of a man who goes to Cabela’s for a new gun for deer season.

I think about the words that must have been going through that man’s brain, and wonder what happened to him in his life that would make him think whatever he was thinking, to want to hurt so many people.  How much hate for others and hate for himself must have been living in his brain?  How many cross words must he have been thinking, over and over and over, to do what he did?  It makes me terribly sad.  The words that we, the collective WE, let live inside of us, I believe become us…think happy thoughts, just like Peter Pan told us to, really matters to me…happy brain, happy everything.

“Do good work.  Be Kind.”  I say these words every single day at 7:06 am and again at 8:07, first to a seventh grader with brown hair and brown eyes, and lastly to a fourth grader with blonde hair and green eyes.  My Nana duties include getting each of my granddaughters on the bus every day as their mother gets ready for her work day as a school teacher.  I decided on the first day of school  that I would say these words every morning to each child.  I decided that life is hard, no matter who you are or where you are or how old you are, and that it is possible that my words each day are the ones that would linger longest in their little growing brains each morning, and that it matters, very much what those words might be and how the words might make these children feel.  I feel so sad for these families of the 58 victims of the shooting in Las Vegas.  I feel so sad for mothers who lost their daughters and fathers who lost their sons and brothers who now have no sister and girls who now have no boyfriend and so on and so on…I feel terribly sad for all of these people who lost somebody and I feel terribly sad for the killer…I feel angry of course, and wronged as a civil law-abiding human, BUT I do feel sad that somebody could have so much suffering awfulness in his head for so long.  Cross words linger and rot and poison and I think if we could all just try a little bit harder to say kind words, to express love, to comfort and care, it could, however infinitesimally, make the world a better place…

Feels like home

The feeling that I get in my belly when I pull into my driveway is something a lot like love.  I get that tingle in my spine as I head down the lane in those seconds that I begin to see my silver roof, and a sensation that I can’t describe when I begin to see, peeking through the cedars, my green stained plywood siding, and almost every time I have the same thought, thinking about how heavy those 4×10 boards were to move, as I pre-stained EVERY SINGLE ONE of them, 84 to be precise, in February of 2009, just four months after I got my building permit.  The anger I felt the other day when I discovered that SOMEbody dropped SOMEthing on my floor in the kitchen and put a big ding and gouge in my walnut boards, which I installed myself,  2 1/4 inch piece by piece, literally choosing which length of walnut I wanted to go where, row by row by row, in the late summer of 2009 and the coat after coat after coat of tung oil I applied that September, was an anger that a person should not “normally” feel over a damaged walnut board…it was more like the anager one would feel if one was punched in the face, but I was so mad!!!  It is, after all, just a floor…

My love of these walls and the things contained in these walls is perhaps not normal, but it’s me.  Every time I walk upstairs and see my Eames chair in the loft, I laugh to myself, how I so dearly wanted it, and saved for years to buy it, and yet I hardly ever sit in it.  Every time I come into my office to write bills for customers or to write for my pleasure, I laugh at what a disaster and mess this office space is, which needs to be repainted and reorganized and purged and cleaned, yet I just don’t make the time, and chuckle at how messy my upstairs life is compared to my downstairs one!  It is just thoughts about my space and my place on this earth, but I feel so much love for this place, that to say I’ve become teary eyed daily over these last few weeks of storms is not an exaggeration.  Listening to so much suffering on NPR interviews, and seeing so much loss and devastation on the news and the weather channel on television, with people saying how they are so grateful to be alive, although they are sad they have lost everything, is making my heart break a little bit every day for these people after these back to back to back hurricanes…

The father of my grandchildren has much, most of his family, in Puerto Rico and those residents of that island, OUR island, are suffering terribly this very hour.  I  know and love a woman who moved here from Bay St Louis Mississippi after she lost her home,  and nearly every possession she had, during Katrina, and I know people who lost most of what they owned and had to rebuild their homes after Sandy, and my mother stayed on her island during 1962 and knew many who lost much, and her mother knew many who lost most in the 44 storm before that…we live where the views take your breath away, and we know that to be so close to the ocean and the bay comes with the risks of damage and loss from the ocean and the bay.  Knowing the risks does not diminish the sadness when it happens though…

Almost every morning, I marvel at the way the sun kisses the tippy top of the cedar trees, as I walk back up the driveway from the bus stop.  Almost every night I watch the evergreens that surround the field out my west windows go through a trippy rainbow of color as the sun sets behind them.  I am in love with the house and everything around it, and I can’t stop thinking about these people who now have no house, no trees…everything became nothing in 24 hours…I have been thinking about my love of my home and wondering if I would have the courage to be so bold and brave, to say those words, “oh I have lost everything I worked so hard for, but I have my life”  I mean, I literally heard those exact words on the news the other day from a woman in Puerto Rico, and I thought, Wow!  so brave…I think I would just want to curl up and die.

Buddhism, Hinduism, and Taoism all teach the importance and practice of detachment.  Asserting that if we are not attached to things or people or ways of being, we won’t suffer so in this life…that the clinging to the things, or clinging to the way we want things to be, is what causes suffering.  This got me thinking this week about how much I AM attached and to WHAT!!!  I look no further than 36 feet behind me, across the office to the stairs and across to the south side of the loft to that chair and see that my attachments are strong and too many!  My metal roof above my head!  My handmade wood ’tiles’ under my feet, that my dad cut into rectangles for me from each 4×8 sheet and I routered, EVERY SINGLE ONE, and then predrilled holes in a formation that I had drawn  with a Sharpie on a piece of paper, and then made a plastic template for, and then painted purple, and then screwed in stainless Star head screws!!!  Oh good grief!!!  Talk about attachments and clinging…

I am practically in tears thinking about how much happiness building this house brought me and how proud I was of all I did, “what on earth is wrong with you??!” you might think exasperatedly…I am clearly too attached to this house.   THEN I think about what and who is in this house, and then what and who is next door to this house…LOVE is all around me!  oh my…it is just this never-ending loop of love and attachment! AND so all these feelings of sadness for so many suffering right now, on this planet, through the strong force of mother nature, has my heart so heavy and my mind so scrambled…will life be easier for me as I grow older, to care less and less about ANY of this??  I don’t have an answer today to my question.  I just know that I feel so deeply for all these suffering people in a world that is so full of suffering every day anyway…