“When there’s nothing left to be said, are you still saying it?” Old 60’s quote from who knows where…
Archive for the ‘meaning’ Category
“If you watch how nature deals with adversity, continually renewing itself, you can’t help but learn” Bernie Siegel
Even as I celebrate my daughter’s pregnancy and my son’s imminent marriage, I got terrible news last night. My favorite uncle, brother to the father I’ve been grieving on this blog, has pancreatic cancer. The very same cancer that took my father’s life. Lethal and fast moving. And, even though I wasn’t present when my father died, I now know it was a very painful death. A death my uncle witnessed. I feel sick at heart over what he has in store for him. What he knows he has in store for him. I always imagine, no matter where my illness takes me, that the doctors would give me enough painkillers that there wouldn’t be much pain. Apparently that’s not always the case.
This is the uncle who taught me to ice skate with my beloved twin cousins, Lenny and Joe, both already dead before their time.. He took us on wild sledding rides, the three of us screeching in terrified glee. He taught us to dive into our pool head first, hands properly pointed above our heads. To make a game of raking autumn leaves and watching him set fire to them…then toasting marshmallows, carefully, his hand on our wrists to be sure we were safe. He taught the twins, already raucous, to make practical jokes at my expense. He was the one who made noise on the roof for Santa on Christmas Eve, complete with bells for sound effects. Who truly enjoyed the company of us three little rug rats. And most importantly, who took us off the hands of our stressed out parents and provided a safety haven whenever we needed it most.
I want to run to him and see him, its been years. I will go with my aunt, his sister,when she is over the shock and ready to plan our flight. I confess I am terrified. It already feels so like what we went through with my father. I want to be strong and supportive but I’m afraid the similarities will curl me into a useless emotional fetal position..I keep telling myself that he’s not my father. He’s my uncle. I keep telling myself that he is 75. My father was 53. I tell myself that we all have to die of something. As he has said, he’s had a good run.
It doesn’t help. It doesn’t help at all. My roots are dying one by one, as nature intended. Thank God a new one is sprouting in my daughter’s womb.
(12 week sonogram found on youtube- NOT OUR BABY!)
I cannot even begin to describe what an experience it was to see the baby on the sonogram. I stood next to my son-in-law, my daughter of course on the examining table, holding her husband’s hand, as we watched in awe. That was no flat, lifeless screen as shown in the photo on my previous post. It was like an in utero video. At twelve weeks he was moving around, very active, and even sucking his thumb! There we were, three adults, dumbstruck. “Oh wow!” was pretty much the extent of the conversation from all three of us while the tech did her thing. My daughter’s “oh how cute!!!!!” periodically punctuated the conversation. She, as we all did, really melted when we saw the thumb sucking. That and our repeated question “is it a boy or a girl????” The tech kept demurring that she couldn’t be certain at twelve weeks, but finally, having found the penis, she announced “Its a boy!”
We all exclaimed in joy! My daughter was no longer carrying an “it” but a male baby. From the moment I heard it, I no longer felt merely the excitement of the pregnancy. Now he had an identity. I felt love for him . For that tiny little guy so active inside his mom. For Baby V, already named before his mom even got pregnant.
At twelve weeks, this baby was no future unknown. This baby was now.
And I feel so very honored that they invited me to participate in this intimate, joyous stage of their journey. I love all three of them with all my heart.
I’m happiest when I’m creating. I am totally present. It feels like God flows right through me. Peace and energy simultaneously! What could be better than that??? Pure joy! I honestly feel that both physical and spiritual healing continue to take place in me, the more I allow my creativity free reign. Poetry, jewelry designs, decoupage, photography- all of it. I’m working on a new jewelry design which i will show you later. I went to take photos of what i’ve done to show you guys but my battery was dead on my new camera 😦
Anyway, just thought I’d share a happy mood for a change. By the way, the photo is not me but my sister and dearest friend, who shares my joy as described here…she’s an incredible mixed media artist so we are starting a business together. God I love her.
I would like to introduce the brand new blog of my friend Viv: Zen and the Art of Tightrope Walking.
She’s a wise and witty writer, a wicked poet, and a sincere and cool soul searcher. Check it out!
In addition to the blues I’ve been experiencing lately, I also am feeling physically worse as I’ve been tapering down my prednisone. So though I did go to work yesterday, I had cancelled my attendance at bible study at my sister’s because I knew that by the time I got home at around 8 pm all I’d want to do is crawl into bed. There was no way I was up to going.
But Got had other plans for me. I was almost home after sitting for an extra hour in traffic, when I heard something in a novel I was listening to in the car. I identified with the character, who was having a badly needed spiritual experience, and suddenly felt a powerful longing to feel the presence of God.
My sister and I live very close to each other. There is a fork in the road in which her house is in one direction and mine in the other. As soon as I felt that longing for God, I no longer noticed my aches and pains and without hesitation called my husband to tell him I was going to bible study after all, and called my sister to say I would be there any minute. I was right at that fork.
When I arrived my sister was radiant. She had been praying, literally, “Lord, when my sister reaches that fork in the road, please help her to feel better, and make her turn left toward my house tonight.”
I don’t know why God wanted me there so much, but I do know that the chances of this being a coincidence were statistically ridiculous. And I did get to feel the presence of God and the Holy Spirit last night, we all did. It happened when a tormented client I have suddenly came to mind, and we prayed with all our hearts for a psychological and spiritual healing for her.
God works in strange ways.
“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you have imagined.” Henry David Thoreau
“There’s nothing sadder in this world than to awake Christmas morning and not be a child.”
This is another lovely story about the true meaning of Christmas.
The Gift of the Magi
By O. Henry
She stood by the window and looked out dully at a gray cat walking a gray fence in a gray backyard. Tomorrow would be Christmas Day, and she had only $1.87 with which to buy Jim a present. She had been saving every penny she could for months, with this result. Twenty dollars a week doesn’t go far. Expenses had been greater than she had calculated. They always are. Only $1.87 to buy a present for Jim. Her Jim. Many a happy hour she had spent planning for something nice for him. Something fine and rare and sterling–something just a little bit near to being worthy of the honor of being owned by Jim.
There was a pier-glass between the windows of the room. Perhaps you have seen a pier-glass in an $8 flat. A very thin and very agile person may, by observing his reflection in a rapid sequence of longitudinal strips, obtain a fairly accurate conception of his looks. Della, being slender, had mastered the art. Suddenly she whirled from the window and stood before the glass. Her eyes were shining brilliantly, but her face had lost its color within twenty seconds. Rapidly she pulled down her hair and let it fall to its full length. Now, there were two possessions of the James Dillingham Youngs in which they both took a mighty pride. One was Jim’s gold watch that had been his father’s and his grandfather’s. The other was Della’s hair. Had the queen of Sheba lived in the flat across the airshaft, Della would have let her hair hang out the window some day to dry just to depreciate Her Majesty’s jewels and gifts. Had King Solomon been the janitor, with all his treasures piled up in the basement, Jim would have pulled out his watch every time he passed, just to see him pluck at his beard from envy.
So now Della’s beautiful hair fell about her rippling and shining like a cascade of brown waters. It reached below her knee and made itself almost a garment for her. And then she did it up again nervously and quickly. Once she faltered for a minute and stood still while a tear or two splashed on the worn red carpet. On went her old brown jacket; on went her old brown hat. With a whirl of skirts and with the brilliant sparkle still in her eyes, she fluttered out the door and down the stairs to the street.Where she stopped the sign read: “Mne. Sofronie. Hair Goods of All Kinds.” One flight up Della ran, and collected herself, panting. Madame, large, too white, chilly, hardly looked the “Sofronie.” “Will you buy my hair?” asked Della. “I buy hair,” said Madame. “Take yer hat off and let’s have a sight at the looks of it. “Down rippled the brown cascade. “Twenty dollars,” said Madame, lifting the mass with a practised hand. “Give it to me quick,” said Della.
Oh, and the next two hours tripped by on rosy wings. Forget the hashed metaphor. She was ransacking the stores for Jim’s present. She found it at last. It surely had been made for Jim and no one else. There was no other like it in any of the stores, and she had turned all of them inside out. It was a platinum fob chain simple and chaste in design, properly proclaiming its value by substance alone and not by meretricious ornamentation–as all good things should do. It was even worthy of The Watch. As soon as she saw it she knew that it must be Jim’s. It was like him. Quietness and value–the description applied to both. Twenty-one dollars they took from her for it, and she hurried home with the 87 cents. With that chain on his watch Jim might be properly anxious about the time in any company. Grand as the watch was, he sometimes looked at it on the sly on account of the old leather strap that he used in place of a chain.
When Della reached home her intoxication gave way a little to prudence and reason. She got out her curling irons and lighted the gas and went to work repairing the ravages made by generosity added to love. Which is always a tremendous task, dear friends–a mammoth task.Within forty minutes her head was covered with tiny, close-lying curls that made her look wonderfully like a truant schoolboy. She looked at her reflection in the mirror long, carefully, and critically. “If Jim doesn’t kill me,” she said to herself, “before he takes a second look at me, he’ll say I look like a Coney Island chorus girl. But what could I do–oh! what could I do with a dollar and eighty- seven cents?” At 7 o’clock the coffee was made and the frying-pan was on the back of the stove hot and ready to cook the chops. Jim was never late. Della doubled the fob chain in her hand and sat on the corner of the table near the door that he always entered. Then she heard his step on the stair away down on the first flight, and she turned white for just a moment. She had a habit for saying little silent prayer about the simplest everyday things, and now she whispered: “Please God, make him think I am still pretty.
“The door opened and Jim stepped in and closed it. He looked thin and very serious. Poor fellow, he was only twenty-two–and to be burdened with a family! He needed a new overcoat and he was without gloves. Jim stopped inside the door, as immovable as a setter at the scent of quail. His eyes were fixed upon Della, and there was an expression in them that she could not read, and it terrified her. It was not anger, nor surprise, nor disapproval, nor horror, nor any of the sentiments that she had been prepared for. He simply stared at her fixedly with that peculiar expression on his face. Della wriggled off the table and went for him. “Jim, darling,” she cried, “don’t look at me that way. I had my hair cut off and sold because I couldn’t have lived through Christmas without giving you a present. It’ll grow out again–you won’t mind, will you? I just had to do it. My hair grows awfully fast. Say `Merry Christmas!’ Jim, and let’s be happy. You don’t know what a nice– what a beautiful, nice gift I’ve got for you.””You’ve cut off your hair?” asked Jim, laboriously, as if he had not arrived at that patent fact yet even after the hardest mental labor. “Cut it off and sold it,” said Della. “Don’t you like me just as well, anyhow? I’m me without my hair, ain’t I?” Jim looked about the room curiously. “You say your hair is gone?” he said, with an air almost of idiocy. “You needn’t look for it,” said Della. “It’s sold, I tell you–sold and gone, too. It’s Christmas Eve, boy. Be good to me, for it went for you. Maybe the hairs of my head were numbered,” she went on with sudden serious sweetness, “but nobody could ever count my love for you. Shall I put the chops on, Jim?”
Out of his trance Jim seemed quickly to wake. He enfolded his Della. For ten seconds let us regard with discreet scrutiny some inconsequential object in the other direction. Eight dollars a week or a million a year–what is the difference? A mathematician or a wit would give you the wrong answer. The magi brought valuable gifts, but that was not among them. This dark assertion will be illuminated later on.Jim drew a package from his overcoat pocket and threw it upon the table. “Don’t make any mistake, Dell,” he said, “about me. I don’t think there’s anything in the way of a haircut or a shave or a shampoo that could make me like my girl any less. But if you’ll unwrap that package you may see why you had me going a while at first.”
White fingers and nimble tore at the string and paper. And then an ecstatic scream of joy; and then, alas! a quick feminine change to hysterical tears and wails, necessitating the immediate employment of all the comforting powers of the lord of the flat. For there lay The Combs–the set of combs, side and back, that Della had worshipped long in a Broadway window. Beautiful combs, pure tortoise shell, with jewelled rims–just the shade to wear in the beautiful vanished hair. They were expensive combs, she knew, and her heart had simply craved and yearned over them without the least hope of possession. And now, they were hers, but the tresses that should have adorned the coveted adornments were gone.But she hugged them to her bosom, and at length she was able to look up with dim eyes and a smile and say: “My hair grows so fast, Jim!” And them Della leaped up like a little singed cat and cried, “Oh, oh!” Jim had not yet seen his beautiful present. She held it out to him eagerly upon her open palm. The dull precious metal seemed to flash with a reflection of her bright and ardent spirit. “Isn’t it a dandy, Jim? I hunted all over town to find it. You’ll have to look at the time a hundred times a day now. Give me your watch. I want to see how it looks on it.” Instead of obeying, Jim tumbled down on the couch and put his hands under the back of his head and smiled. “Dell,” said he, “let’s put our Christmas presents away and keep ’em a while. They’re too nice to use just at present. I sold the watch to get the money to buy your combs. And now suppose you put the chops on.
“The magi, as you know, were wise men–wonderfully wise men–who brought gifts to the Babe in the manger. They invented the art of giving Christmas presents. Being wise, their gifts were no doubt wise ones, possibly bearing the privilege of exchange in case of duplication. And here I have lamely related to you the uneventful chronicle of two foolish children in a flat who most unwisely sacrificed for each other the greatest treasures of their house. But in a last word to the wise of these days let it be said that of all who give gifts these two were the wisest. O all who give and receive gifts, such as they are wisest. Everywhere they are wisest. They are the magi.
Image copyright Jupiter Images 2008
Myself? I’m happy with who I am and what I’ve done in this life. It took me a long time to grow up. Very long. Through one marriage and into the second, where I finally, finally grew my wings. (Thank to the snuggy, supportive nest my Alph made for me.)
I went back to college pregnant with my second child and delivered her between semesters. Twenty five years later that child became my colleague and partner in our psychotherapy practice. Imagine that?!! The joy I feel from this is beyond measure or description. But more than that, I love that we are able to give our services to those who cannot afford it. Kind of like Robin Hood. We get the max from our affluent clients and give it back, time wise, to our less fortunate ones.
I’ve learned to enjoy fun. I never played at all until a few years ago when I looked at some application which asked me to list my hobbies. I didn’t have any. For me, an A type, learning, seminars, learning, work were all I ever wanted to do. (Tightly held secret: we shrinks rarely apply to ourselves the very things we try to teach our clients.) It so bothered me that I thought: what have I always wanted to try? For me? That turned out to be decoupage. Hours and hours of learning how to do it, but playing, enjoying the process, the creativity. Creativity had always been what sustains me, but I’d put it aside in my quest for achievement. Now I’m making jewelry. Another joy in the process. If my efforts produce lovely results, great! If not, I still had fun. I’m also waiting for my new camera to arrive (thank you, Amber, for putting the bug in me!) because I’m longing to express myself by capturing the other love of my life: nature.
If I should die today, my career goals would have been accomplished. I would die knowing that I became the therapist I always wanted to be, who helped a lot of people. The ones whose heartfelt thanks cannot begin to be measured and who I will never, ever forget. The ones who trusted me with their pain and their wounds, who inspired me with their courage, and who taught me so much.
Have I become the woman I wanted to be? Well that, too, was an evolving process. First I wanted to be a homemaker and stay at home mom. When that changed and I wanted to get an education and a career, the trouble started in my first marriage. That’s not what he signed on for. And in all fairness, that’s not what I’d originally agreed to. We were so young. We just couldn’t navigate these choppy waters. We were only 21 when we married for goodness sake! Babies! What did we know about relationships? Giving?Flexibility? Growth and change? Nothing. Nothing at all.
It was a very painful divorce. Volatile, yet so sad. But as Carol Burnett once said, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.
My onset of lupus and subsequent stroke have actually been blessings too. Not a life lesson I would have chosen, but they were not exactly electives in the school of my life. I’ve had to learn to rely on others which has been a humbling experience. A giver all my life (parentified child) it has been hard to learn to receive. Also…very nice…and quite beautiful. And, of course, having come so close to death, I’ve learned to appreciate every moment of every day, and to thank God for the gift of my life.
I read somewhere once that we’re bound by our fate only as long as we accept the values that determine it. I never forgot that. In fact, reading that, and getting it, is probably what changed my life. I got rid of my culturally imposed role of what a woman should be, and I learned to define myself. My self. MY self.
I learned that personal authenticity is my primary value, and always will be.
So if I should die today, I would die happy with my journey. Happy that I died as ME.
What if today is the last day of my life?
These are the kinds of things you think of when you’ve had a stroke. I’m having symptoms which are scaring me, but I’ve spoken to my internist, and my rheumatologist’s nurse. Neither thinks its an emergency. She’s comfortable waiting for the rhuematologist to get to the office in a couple of hours to run my symptoms by him.
But I’m thinking it might be an emergency. For that matter, anything in life might be. A car accident. A heart attack. Getting struck by lightening. I got struck by my stroke four years ago this month, actually. You don’t exactly expect these things. But once you’ve had a stroke, and you read the statistics for recurrence, you become acutely aware of your physical vulnerability and of course your own mortality.
Most days I remember to thank God that I’m alive and alert and have no noticeable loss of physical function, from which He miraculously spared me.I thank him for my family, and my work, and for every beautiful aspect of the four seasons as I experience them, day by day.
Of the legions of doctors I’ve met with for my various health issues, no one can believe that the perfectly normal looking, active professional woman sitting before them matches the carnage of a brain in the MRI also sitting before them.
But today I’m more focused on wondering if today is the last day of my life. No one, of course, knows the date of their death. Yet every living creature, on one particular point in the line of time, wakes up one morning… and no longer exists the next.
Think about that. Wakes up one morning and no longer exists the next.
So feeling as I am this morning, I have to ask myself…what if? And what comes to mind, first, is that I have not managed to get into a personal relationship with God. With Christ. Other Christians talk about it but I don’t know what that means. (If my sister is reading this I’m in deep trouble!)
A personal relationship with the Almighty???? I picture the Almighty Presence, that gorgeous glow in the sunshine, spilling through the tree leaves and the clouds. I feel Him, and I see Him, in the wind. I pray to him and to His son. I thank Them. I beseech Them. I acknowledge them. But..it doesn’t feel personal…. more like wonder from afar…
The Christians I hang out with “walk closely” with the Lord. I go to bible study with them but truthfully it feels like The Emperor’s new clothes when they talk of their relationship with the Lord, of their experiences of deep connection with Him. I myself have felt a deep connection to nature, His creation, since I was a child. ..But that’s not what they’re talking about…. So if today is the last day of my life, and I go to meet my Maker, will He welcome me? Will he know me?
I have no doubt of heaven. None. I know. I’ve had signs. I feel it in my soul to be true that I will be going home again. And my earthly family members who have passed before me will be waiting there to welcome me…with much rejoicing, to use a biblical word.
Then there are my husband and kids. But I’m getting tired now, and that’s another whole post. (There will be a Part 2 to this post not long from now.)
And since I started writing this, I got a message from my doctor not to worry. No emergency. Thank you God that its not my time today.
At least I think not.
Image from www.globalcollage.com
“Life isn’t about how to survive the storm, but how to dance in the rain.” Author unknown.
An elderly Cherokee was teaching his grandchildren about life.
He said to them, “A fight is going on inside me, it is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves.” One wolf is evil………..he is fear, anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, competition, superiority, and ego.
The other is good……… he is joy, peace, love, hope, sharing, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, friendship, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith. This same fight is going on inside you, and inside every other person, too.”
They thought about it for a minute and then one child asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”
The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”
C. FreeFoto.com 2008
“There is nothing in a caterpillar that tells you it’s going to be a butterfly.” Buckminster Fuller
Oh, what a wedding it was! Everything and more than we’d dreamed of since she was five, when I caught her in our yard literally kissing frogs because, “I have to find my prince, Mommy.” She apparently squeezed one frog so ardently that she frantically presented it to me because she…well….she couldn’t wake it up.
I raised my princess to be strong, assertive, and independent. She did not need Prince Charming to save her or rescue her, but she did find a Prince Charming who is fairy tale handsome, protective, nurturing, kind, strong, gentle, and generous. (And yes, also an alpha male!)
Oh, what beautiful babies they will make!
They’re twenty eight, have been together for seven years, and lived together for the past two. So her new husband already felt like family, it seemed to me. Yet witnessing for them as they signed their marriage license, and watching them go through the ritual in the church, somehow made me love him differently. Because now he IS family. He will be the father of my grandchildren. He will take care of me when I’m old, if I should need it. He’s that kind of man, a good man. And so is his family. Our tiny family, long since dwindled from what it once was, has somehow been blessed with in-laws who have already absorbed us into their tribe. We have long yearned for this void to be filled.
They looked gorgeous. They looked madly in love, even after all this time. They never left each other’s side but ate and danced and laughed the night away. Their song was “I Could Not Ask for More” by Ed McCain. But I found this one on YouTube sung by a female vocalist, with video clips from The Notebook, my daughter’s and my all time favorite romantic movie. The lovers here remind me of my new newlyweds:
I truly could not ask for more.
Find out at Sanity Found’s Ramblings.
I am because you are.