Tag Archives: Appreciation

The Evening Star

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evening star over cemetary

An infant’s cry cracks the dawn of a day in all eternity

And who’s to say what will unfold and what shall be his destiny

By mid-morning all the lessons learned, freedom is at hand

And play ensues till afternoon when he becomes a man

Then work and duty call on him to strive for his success

But by the eve, he realizes more want for happiness

The fire of the afternoon has burned to smoldering coals

And he’s warmed by his memories as he faces being old

But it’s in the early evening when twilight fills the gap

Between the burning heat of day and slumber’s cozy wrap

It’s here where peace and contentment wait

Like the twinkling evening star

Barely visible unless you concentrate upon the very far.

Before the night overtakes it, it has a solemn place

To witness, as it stands alone

The utter state of grace

Can I Love You Less?

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“It’s a love like no other.”

baby-lovedAt least that’s what I’ve been told. I’ve also heard, “It’s the purest unconditional love” and “Like nothing else on Earth.” Maybe for you it is. But that’s not me.

You see, I recently became a grandparent, and all my grandparent friends congratulated me with sentiments like these. But I don’t get it. And it makes me feel like maybe I’m missing something.

Did I not love my children? Wasn’t that unconditional love? I cried when my babies were handed to me. I was overjoyed as I counted their fingers and toes. I saw my own hands in my son’s long fingers. Can anything compare to that?

Did I not love my husband? There were times it felt that our hearts melted together and we knew that in that moment we were both the same.

Do I not love my siblings? For certain, I love them and my friends unconditionally. They are who they are, and I accept that. We’ve shared joys and sorrows, fun and laughter. And even though I don’t speak to some of them very often, I still feel the same. Our history is still shared. Our memories are interwoven.

I loved my parents my whole life, and even though they’re both gone, I love them still.

I love my sons, both of them, equally. They are totally different and each has talents and characteristics that make him unique. I love that about them. And it doesn’t matter whether they become rich or successful or live as a struggling artist. I will always love them with all my heart.

And don’t all parents feel that way? So how is it that people freely say they love their grandchildren like never before? Do some people actually dole out less love to their children than they did to their parents? Or worse, do some people share less love with their aging – perhaps dying – parents than they do with this little person only months old?

Evidently, they do. They hold back their hearts. I don’t understand it because we are the ones who lose out. When we hold love back because of hurt. Or when we hold it back out of fear that it won’t be returned. Or when we hold it back out of anger or because we think others aren’t worthy. Or worse, when we believe we aren’t worthy.

The way I see it, love is not something that is dependent on who the recipient is…whether your parent, spouse, child or neighbor. Love is a result of the giver. You either give love or you don’t.

Wouldn’t it be amazing if you felt the same love for your father, despite his dementia and constant need for attention, that you do for the infant with her inability to communicate and total dependence?

And of course you can. Because it’s your decision how much you love.

It doesn’t matter that you have a history with someone or not. It’s the same with this little baby girl who hasn’t yet spoken my name – or should I say the name she will eventually call me. Does it matter that I don’t have to put her to bed every night? Does it matter that she looks equally like her other side of the family as she does mine? Not at all. But then, it never mattered with my sons either. It didn’t matter how they did in school. Or whether they excelled at sports. I love them fully. I don’t think I could love anyone more. Or less.

Because love doesn’t vary with the way others behave. It’s not love that changes. Love only varies when we decide not to give it.

It’s just a choice we make to feel or not feel it. And like every other decision, we can change it. We can give our hearts the freedom to love everyone. Equally. Because it’s our heart to give, it’s our choice how “in love” we feel. And once we open up our hearts and treat everyone with the love they probably don’t “deserve” but need just the same, the whole world changes. People know when they’re being treated with love. And they return it the same way it was given.

So do yourself a favor. If you want to be loved unconditionally, you must love others the same way. And without fail, they will love you back. All of them. Every time. They won’t be able to help themselves.

And believe me when I say it’s possible. Because I couldn’t love you less.

The Dying of the Light

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Spring was pleasant

Ephemeral

Naïve

Blossoming hopefully in the dewy morn

Until steamy, hot red skin

Wiped summer from my brow

When loyal Sun prolonged the noon

Then August washed it away

Amidst thunder and lightning

And torrents of hurricanes

Falling into the arms of autumn

To cool my head and warm my heart

Finally harvesting what I’ve been tending

All this wonderful life

Now facing and bracing against it

Planning for winter’s cold

Hibernation

But not yet.

Chill nights are relieved by tender light

Gray-blue clouds blanket golden trees

Cattails gently sway, counting down the days

I could take September forever.

The Last Word on Suffering

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I had an epiphany. I finally understand the crucifixion.crucifixion

It happened like this.

Event One:

I was staying with a friend who told me that she had trouble sleeping. After several days, I asked if I could make an observation about her inability to find sleep. She said “No, I’d rather you didn’t. A lot of people have given me advice about insomnia, and they don’t understand my problem.” I answered “OK. That’s why I asked.” But she continued, and I listened in order to try to better understand her perspective. (I’m paraphrasing)

“Sometimes when there is an experience of deep trauma while you’re sleeping, and then fear of what might happen again, you just can’t let yourself be “asleep at the wheel.” I found her self-awareness and ability to communicate her exact dilemma inspired, but her inability to want to heal it perplexing.

Conclusion: We choose to hold onto our suffering and we believe no one else can understand it.

Event Two:

I watched a woman be a total bitch to a guy who liked her. She actually laughed at him. He turned to me – a person he’d met a few days before  –  and shrugged.  I shrugged back.

Conclusion: People deliberately cause other people to suffer through their unkindness.

Event Three:

I recently related a story about how I was humiliated as a kid. As I told my friend about it, I realized I could still feel the betrayal of people I had believed were my friends. It still brought my eyes to the verge of tears and my throat clenched as my breathing grew shallow. I finished my story in a cracking voice.  I was that kid again. I am that kid still.

Conclusion:  We are all children, wounded and not knowing why.

Catalyst: My 50th Birthday

As this big day approaches, and coincides with the arrival of my first grandchild, I’ve taken to reviewing the journey so far. More to the point, I’ve actually started a travel journal. So, as a good middle-aged adventurer, I’m creating my bucket list.  But, before I could start thinking of all the things I want to do, I needed to make a list of what I’ve already done (and thereby prove I am indeed ready to kick the bucket).

After logging the places I’ve been and cool stuff I’ve tried, I thought I should record other milestones of my life. What have I experienced that other people haven’t or won’t? What traumas have I survived?  I thought about that last one for a few minutes. It’s a long list. And I’m very grateful to say Everything. I’ve survived it all. Not only that, but I’m thriving, happy and at peace. I’m glad I focus on the good stuff because boy, I’d be totally sad if I just thought about all that other crap. And then I questioned the Universe – Why do people hold on to their pain? Why do they cause others to suffer? Why do we tolerate witnessing this abuse?

And the answer came:  Because they don’t get it. People feel alone in their pain yet are too afraid to share it. They even feel that no one could possibly understand their suffering.  They believe that their grief or loss or heartbreak is somehow unique. They insist on describing – sometimes in great detail – all of their symptoms. Often they repeat this list over and over until they believe that the symptoms are the cause of the pain. They hurt others and stand by as others are hurt to reassure themselves they are not the only one suffering.

So back to my original point – the crucifixion.

Bottom line: It seems to me that the only way Jesus could stop people from wallowing in their own ego-driven self-pity long enough to be kind to others and not perpetuate the inhumanity we inflict on each other was to set the bar.  It’s the all-time-great decision of one man to say:

“Look, no one’s suffering is bigger than mine. I totally can relate. Get over yourself. We all know pain. We all have witnessed cruelty. Once and for all, you haven’t suffered any more than anyone else, just differently. If you need an example, look at me. Been there. Done that. I get it. I might not know your particular brand of pain, but then again, you don’t know mine. Just know that we share it. Now stop it. Quit your fuckin’ bitchin’ and put on the big panties. Focus on all you are, have done, and have survived and go help someone else. You’ll be amazed how happy you’ll be when you just do that. Forever.”

Silent Song

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In the peaceImage

At the edge of the deep

Silent corner of my mind

Lives the song of my life.

As the music of the clouds

And rustling breezes birth

A symphony in lush woods,

Lingering thoughts of distant places

Remind me of long-ago lyrics

And the rhythm moves me on.

It is the harmony of tides

And frequency of waves

That urge this traveler

To remember the movements

Of the distant past.

Lost in this voyage of time

Peeling back the layered years of my heart

I come to the song I’ve known.

Entering the quiet woods

Of my restless mind

I learn to sing.

Get in Line

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The food court.

When it comes to eating, does it get any better than this?

I mean, obviously it’s not the most gourmet or luxurious environment, but where else can you – and everyone else – get such selection? You can order up whatever you want – sushi or stir-fry, pizza or subs, tacos or burgers, deli or salads, even smoothies and fro-yo. The worst part is deciding. Once you do, you may have to wait in line and then maybe do a little scouting for a table, but where else can you get exactly what you crave with so little effort?

It’s a lot like life.

We are surrounded by amazing abundance. Everything that anyone could possibly want is within reach. It doesn’t always look like what we think it should… (You don’t always need linen napkins) …but as far as variety goes, it’s out there, like the most amazing buffet. What a blessing that the hardest part is choosing – what career, who to partner with, when (or if) to have children, where to live, how to spend our time. Of course, once we choose, we may need to be patient or put out some effort to make it happen, but the choices are ours to make, and the options are limitless.

(Me? I’ll have a little of this and a little of that, but I don’t worry about missing anything. I’ll be back.)

Never Again

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I woke up thinking that today is my last day.

Or it might as well be.

Recently, a divorced friend of mine said that if she would’ve known that the last time she made love to her husband was THE last time, she would’ve made sure it was great.

This got me to thinking. First, that I know what she means. I’ve had relationships end suddenly and you never really know when it’s the last time… last hug, last kiss, last good-bye.

We all have these feelings about things. Regrets suck. So how do I fix it so that it doesn’t happen again? Everyone always says that today is the first day of the rest of your life. That just makes me feel like I have lots of time, and that opportunities are knocking, and the future exists. But it doesn’t. Not yet anyway.

What if I do everything like it is my last day?  It’s not that it ‘might’ be my last day, or that there’s a ‘chance’ I won’t see tomorrow. It is truly the last today. Things will inevitably be different tomorrow. Situations will change, opportunities will change, circumstances will change. Some people will enter my life and some will leave it, and if I’m half the person I hope to be, I’ll be different too.  I will learn something today that will change the way I think or feel tomorrow. I will never again see things the way I do today.

So as I take the time to eat this nectarine, I’m slurping up the sweetness it has offered me and letting the juice run down my chin because I will never eat this nectarine again.

Around the Pond

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Mindfully setting my foot on the path, I inhale the flavors of the woods. The morning rain and afternoon sun have merged into a comforting haze hanging in the solemn forest. The cedar wood chips comprising the trail release a dense fragrance like red wine underfoot while vines of honeysuckle dangle perfumed flowers overhead. As I breathe in the moldy sweetness of the damp leaves and the humid air settles around me, all the tension of my body is released as if I’m embraced by a dear old friend.

As the retiring sun sinks below the treetops, it sparks the last drying raindrops on the broad leaves of laurels and young oaks. Like diamonds set to light my way they shimmer and twinkle and draw me out of the cool shade of the overgrown briar toward the exposed hillside.

The edge of the knoll has been mowed close and in the stillness, the intensity of freshly cut grass erases other thoughts from my mind as it mingles with the earthy aroma of mud that randomly sprouts fingers of tiny mushrooms. Defiant dandelions tower their tall wispy seed heads over yellow buttercups trailing from the sunlight to the dappled boundary of the tree line.

A rustle from the thicket makes me stop and guess ‘friend or foe,’ only to watch a squirrel bound from shrub to tree trunk. His claws scritch and scratch as he scrambles up the smooth bark of a large sycamore and rests on a sturdy branch drenched in blinding beams of golden light. Camouflaged by the noisy climb, a courageous rabbit ventures out from under the bramble to nestle in and nibble a tranquil patch of flower-topped clover as evening arrives.

Just ahead where the trail turns to meadow, a few robins quickly scurry to maintain their distance from me and then surrender to flight as my pace closes too soon. Disturbed is a duel of doves, and the coos of their panicked flurry warn a persistent drake pursuing a reluctant duck, now relieved that her suitor has been distracted.

Although never intending to menace my neighbors, the blackbirds join the commotion, whistling and chirping advisories as well. The long screech of a red-tail hawk shreds the remaining silence and looking up in wonder at the soaring predator, I know that no movement goes undetected in the realm he reigns.

The vivid reflection of the sky and trees on the mirrored water makes me want to dive into that other world and swim through the clouds painted on the surface. As my trek takes me round the pond’s perimeter I walk nearer the cattails and tall grasses that disguise the hideouts of nesting geese. Turning toward me, a pair of identical birds extends their necks and wings to threaten against my intrusion. Respectfully, I retreat in silence to reassure the nervous parents I mean their brood no harm.

As I near where the path turns back to concrete and draw closer to the hum of the highway in the distance, a momentary sentiment rises slowly within me, like that of a departing guest who must leave her hosts at the station, already missing the travel not even having returned home.

I take one last breath of moist and scented sunshine to help this place linger within me just a little while longer.

Until we meet again.

It’s All That

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D-day.

In my lifetime, the only meaning this really held for me was Blitzen von Normandy. It was her birthday.

I will never – no matter what happens in my life – miss anything the way I miss Blitzen.

From the day I picked her up and said “Do you want to come home and be my puppy?” and she reached up and licked my chin, to the day the vet ran the IV to end her suffering, and she reached up and licked my chin and forever closed her eyes, she was a perfect creature.

They say that there’s only one best dog in the world, and every kid owns it, but she was truly it. I’m not talking about a good dog or a smart dog. Blitz was a perfect German shepherd. (Except she was afraid of the garden hose, and well, thunderstorms too, but that’s another story.)

But that’s not why she’ll be the only thing I will ever grieve. It’s because I will never again care about another thing.

I don’t have a favorite sweater or a piece of sentimental jewelry or an album of photos I couldn’t live without. Although I inherited lots of stuff from my mom and dad and a few things of my grandmother’s, none of it holds any meaning. It’s true there are things that remind me of people I’ve known or experiences I’ve had, but their value is not intrinsic. The memories are not of the house or of the old car, or even the big table we all gathered around. All of those things have come and gone, but the memories are and will always be mine, and I’m thankful for that.

It’s not that I don’t appreciate having nice things. I do. I enjoy them while they’re here. It’s just that I learned over the years that to attach yourself to something, no matter what it is, is to invite sadness. It seems like any time I start to value a particular thing, that’s when it breaks, or gets lost or stained, or shrinks in the dryer. These little annoyances remind me that I’ve done it again. I put value into something that doesn’t matter.

So I will make an effort to value the true in life: this moment in time, the love I share, the service I provide, the art I express, the laughter we create together. The rest of it just collects dust and will be one more thing that has to be packed the next time I move.