Start where you are and do what you can

While it’s been miserably, bitterly, teeth-chatteringly cold these last two weeks, I feel a warmth in my heart and bones that is becoming, day after day it seems, my new normal…AND I love it.  For months I have been making changes to make my physical self better, ergo, making my whole being and whole life better, but change is slow, and I am terribly impatient, and have, since the new year, been beating myself up a bit when I stumble…which is often, and that doesn’t make anything better.

I woke up the other morning thinking about tomatoes; it takes six weeks, OR MORE just from the time you put a seed into a bit of dampened soil, for it to germinate and grow enough to be even planted outside, let alone thrive, and then it takes almost three months after the seedlings are in the earth, under the sun, with daily care and maintenance, to actually have a fully ripened, big fat glorious orb of reddish-orange goodness that is ready for you to eat!!! So why, I ask myself, am I so impatient for the changes that are taking place in me?  …certainly a more complex living thing than a tomato??!!

I’m pretty sure that you are not supposed to ‘Yadda Yadda Yadda’ yoga, and I won’t tire you with all of these feel-good hippie-dippie words that keep pulsing through my brain, but I will write that I have felt “better” since joining yoga classes than I have felt in a long while, and honestly, I feel pretty fabulous most of the time anyway!  In August when I started to eat cleaner and drink less alcohol I knew I was on the right path for me, I just felt like a better version of myself.   I have fallen off the wagon a number of times since, too many to count, but I’ve not fallen so far that I’ve not been able to climb back onto said wagon. My pretend husband and I had a wonderful vacation in November to celebrate my birthday, and palm trees and hot sun really are good medicine for just about anything as far as I’m concerned, so that trip to Mexico certainly got the ball rolling for all of this joy, these uplifting sensations, that seem to be part of my new normal, however, starting yoga seems to be the icing that my cake of life was lacking.  Icing and cake that I’m not supposed to eat, but icing on cake nevertheless!!!

In a number of classes the yoga instructor has asked, “you didn’t drive yourself home from the hospital the day you were born did you?” and goes on to discuss the ‘crawl-walk-run’ way of growing and learning and evolving, and it is a VERY good reminder, particularly for somebody like me, who used to be much more fit and much more bendy, and who is basically starting from the very beginning, where fitness or stamina is concerned, that I should not expect to do things right, or well, from the start.

Sometimes when I am supposed to be concentrating on my breathing and maintaining a high plank, or some other strange uncomfortable pose where my legs are bent in ways that seem like it can’t possibly be beneficial to the body, or conducive to positive thoughts, I find myself thinking about how I used to be…how athletic and strong, and fit and thin I used to be, and then I feel myself getting annoyed…but then this magical thing happens, my brain says, “PSST!!! hey, lady!! you are supposed to be thinking about breathing… in through your nose and out through your nose, four counts in, eight counts out,  and do you know what?  You are 50 years old, and a Nana, and some woman’s mother, and here you are doing push ups, and oh wait, look here, here you are bending your left knee over your right knee, and now you are lifting your legs up in the air and grabbing on to your own feet, and now you are pushing your legs up in the air and still holding onto your feet! and guess what?!!   it doesn’t matter what you used to do, how you used to be, how you used to look…all that matters is that you are doing  THIS right now!!!”

The yoga instructor says, “you can’t be 100% 100% of the time” and that really resonates with me.  I am the first to admit my greatest character flaw might be that I hate to be wrong, so the “fear” of doing something wrong, or not well, or not as well as the person standing next to me, is one of those issues I have to deal with…but half of my brain beats myself up every class, and the other half of my brain lifts me high in the air, on the shoulders of the universe and praises my every bend and every breath.  I feel on some days that I can do anything I set my mind to, and some other days I feel like I will never, ever, get to where I want to be.  In those moments I  think about this quote I once read;  Start where you are and do what you can.  In those few words I feel so free, so capable, so confident.  I never like to tell anybody what to do, but I feel pretty comfortable telling you this; if you feel stuck in any way…in any situation, just do this right now…Start where you are, and do what you can.

 

 

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Houses of the Holy

While you might think it’s Shamanic hokum, I “felt” this land when I was working on my site plan, while deciding what trees to cut down, and where exactly on the face of the earth I was going to build this house.  I walked the property and I leaned against trees, and I looked to the east, west, north, and south, wandering and twirling, eyes wide open and eyes closed tight, knowing from the blueprints I had drawn, exactly where every window and piece of glass was going to be, “seeing” the house already built, clear as day in my mind, so that I could visualize my views before I disturbed even one branch.  I stood down at the street and looked to the west, thinking about how long the driveway was going to be, and what, if any, of the house I wanted to be visible from the road.  I stood late one afternoon on a September day after work, in the dirt, after the trees were gone, while my “house” was just 12 stakes of rebar and some orange surveying twine, and knew I wanted another window to the south of my fireplace, simply because the view I was seeing from where I knew my kitchen sink was going to be, was too beautiful in that afternoon light to be covered by sheetrock, insulation, studs, sheathing, black felt paper, and wood siding…I saw my future self doing dishes and looking out that window, and knew I would never get tired of the light at the end of the day from that spot…

When I say and write that I love my house and my driveway it is not a fleeting happiness.  I built this house with every intention of living here until I died.  I know people much older than I who have never owned a home, let alone built one from scratch with their dad and mom and friends, and of their own drawn plans, and I knew then, and know now still, I am lucky and I feel grateful…

I recently started learning yoga at a new studio in our area and the one teacher has spoken, in every class thus far, about letting go of attachments, and so I am trying to understand how I can love “MY” stuff, but understand at the same time that I am really just the keeper at the moment of such stuff, the steward of this spot of earth.  There are some spaces where I feel completely at ease; comfortable and welcome and good, and there are other spaces where I feel awkward and out of sorts, and I suspect that everybody is in tune with their situational awareness, to the extent that we feel “right” in some spaces and “wrong” in others.  It’s no joke that as soon as I turn into my driveway, or should I now simply write, “the driveway,” I feel a peacefulness wash right over me…no matter what kind of day I have had, whether work was great or not, whether I am tired or dirty, or energized with makeup on, I get to this spot on earth and feel that everything is how it is supposed to be for me.

When bad energy comes into my space, the space, I feel it everywhere… in my clenched up jaw, wonky belly, and every nerve under my skin…it is a physical sensation as well as a deeply mental feeling…when my space “feels” negativity my whole body feels it…I know, I know, a house is not a living thing, but in a way it is…she likes to be warm when it is cold in the winter, and she loves on a crisp day to have her windows wide open and let the cross breezes freshen her up, she likes when the grandchildren come tumbling happily through her doors, even when they’ve not wiped their feet, and she hates it when they come over feeling sad or stressed or scared, but then, something magical happens…her doors open wider and her good energy envelops them and they know they are here in her peaceful space, where they are loved unconditionally and the energy is pure and good and right…

Her doors have slammed shut, never to open again, behind those who brought her no joy and only confusion or unsettling sadness…I am thinking, on this first morning of winter, how this house, my house, this space on earth is the place where I am most grateful and most comfortable, and if that is not holy, I’m not sure what is…

Ode to joy

I have been, in general, a very happy person for all of my life.  When my parents tell me I was a perfect child I never think they are joking.  When people have teased me for replying “fabulous” when asked how I am, it often confused me since I am, for the most part feeling fabulous almost all of the time!!!  The few times in my past where I truly felt deeply unhappy, and had profoundly unsettling feelings that my life was lacking the joyousness that ordinarily filled me up to overflowing, were times when I did not listen to that little guiding light/gut feeling/voice in my head…that all knowing sense of truth that so many of us try to think our brain knows better than…It doesn’t.  That little voice is the biggest guide and moral compass we have to knowing what is right and what is wrong, in general, and FOR our very own being, and for some incredibly inconceivable reason, so many of us, so many times in our lives, ignore it or try to hush it or quiet the message…when it’s really the most important voice in the universe.

The other morning I took my third yoga class of the month since joining a new yoga studio in the area.  Not the 3rd class of my entire life, but good grief did it sure feel like it!!!  For a woman who once used to be a girl who did flying splits, and who stood up against walls and laid her head upon her knees, and used to do leg extensions in door jambs, and be able to lay her forehead on the floor in front of her in a straddle position, I moved, these last three classes, like a woman who has been in a coma or some sort of vegetative state for the last 33 years!!!  R*’s flexibility seems to have devolved to ZERO, despite having a physical job, I clearly lost much if not all of my physical fitness over these last many years.  I can write and speak from experience that the well known expression, “use it or lose it” is absolutely applicable in this instance of flexibility and strength and endurance.  I’ve not used it enough and I am starting from scratch, as far as my body is concerned, as far as flexibility and strength and stamina are concerned!!!  I am hoping that muscle memory is real and one of these classes the old me, who was so strong and so flexible is going to burst back to the surface…but this blog is not about any of those things… I had a very emotional and somewhat strange “hippie dippie” experience in class and wanted to share it…

Three women who I loved very much died this last year; my friend Susan last December, my Mimom in March, and my friend Candyce in October.  My friend Susan and I had not seen each other in years, my Mimom and I had grown apart over the years after she moved out of state, and my friend Candyce was a real friend but who I never met in the flesh, but the relationships were loving and important to me for as long as they lasted. Each woman mattered to me, each in her own different way and none are of this earth anymore. The song that was playing at yoga was very meditative.  It had a line that went something like “I love, love, love you more than ever before” and I was in this pose on my back, with my legs bent and crossed and with my hands grabbing my feet and pulling my knees into my armpits (yes, really, that is what the instructor said) and the words of the song were vibrating in me, like deep in my core, and I had this thought that, at that moment, I loved my own self and my own life more than ever before…like everything was aligned.  And then, this strange tingle, sort of buzz kind of feeling, started in each of my feet and each of my hands and I swear that it felt like I could “feel” the voices of these women at all of my corners and edges…like loving me and encouraging me to love me…it was like a hum, or a buzz, but deep inside of me, and I heard swirls and notes of words and phrases but none that were clear, and yet they all were clear, even though they were all overlapping…it was like all these vibrant colors and no colors, all under my skin…and then when the instructor said to slowly sit up and slowly open our eyes, as I opened my eyes, these hot tears just spilled out down my cheeks…I did not feel sad, I felt so full…it was strange and wonderful and magical and very wierd.

A few years ago when I was struggling to find balance in my brain, my friend Donna mailed me a book called “Meditations from the Mat” and it was full of short stories, some poems, some mantras, but all culminating in the importance of quieting the mind and how to think, or not think, and the use of yoga for both physical and mental well being.  When I read parts of the book years ago, I don’t know that I “got” it, but I must write with honesty that at yoga on Sunday, during this intense feeling of perfect-ness, I think I understood the point of the book…the brain is magical, and I think when we learn to train our brain to focus on the beautiful bits of life, and what feels so good, rather than any of the negative, or mad, or sad bits of life, that don’t feel good at all, we are better for it.  I am leaving the house now to go to yoga before work, just like I did yesterday, and I don’t know what I will feel while I am there, and I don’t know if any of these women will come to me again in this way, but I got the message loud and clear…my joy is pure and it comes from a place of pure love, and I found it inside of me, on my back and on a mat…

 

 

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…

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…