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Traveling into Autumn

Hello, how has your summer been? Yes, it’s been a hot one this year. I’ve enjoyed the summer; my son came to visit over 4th of July – so you know I loved that. And now we’re on the cusp of autumn. I’m so ready for ‘pumpkin spice’ season that I went a little crazy at Marshall’s. I found a pumpkin spice body scrub and a pumpkin spice shower gel! I’ve been in heaven with my showers.

A med tech position became available at work, and I will be moving into that job! I’m very excited about the career move for me. Instead of going out into the community to help our patients, I will be working only at the Hospice House. I’ll become a certified (and licensed) medicine technician and will get competencied in other procedures that are not done in the field. It also means I will be working 3 12-hour days a week. I still do not have a start date for this, but hopefully it will be soon.

I’ve been preoccupied this summer with my Winnie-puppy. Can you believe she’s going to be 15 this November? She’s had a rough few months lately with various health problems. But over all we think she still enjoys life and has quality. And you know me, I’m going to worry myself silly over her. Seriously, I’m cooking all her meals now!

The last two weeks at work have brought Covid to the forefront of life again. The onslaught of rising numbers in our community has hit us hard. At work we’ve gone back on high alert again. It’s been extremely exhausting to go into a home, and later that day have the family call to say someone’s tested positive. Last night I cried, I’m so emotionally fatigued with it all. I saw the following poem, March On (below), which I found very fitting. And today I discussed this with my coworkers which helped, they always know how to support and encourage.

I believe that catches you up on the last couple of months for me. I hope you’ve had some fun this summer. And I sincerely wish you good health and safety as we travel into Autumn.

MARCH ON
You’re probably wondering how on earth we find ourselves in the the tail end of 2021, when we haven’t even begun to process how traumatised we were by 2020.
You’re probably wondering what happened to the time in between.
You’re probably feeling as though your life has stalled, paused, as though you’re playing catch up, re-learning how to walk, as it were.
And the truth is, you probably are.
The truth is, that we are in no way prepared for the onslaught of 2022, nor are we in anyway over 2020.
But that’s ok.
We are all the same.
Confused, dazed, slightly untrusting, wary.
Fatter, a touch more cynical and a whole lot more tired.
But we are here.
And just as Lady Time keeps marching on,
so shall we.
You don’t have to know the way.
You just have to trust.
March on and trust.
Better things are coming.
~Donna Ashworth

If I felt that May was the start of summer, then I think June is full on summer fun! It’s also my Boo’s birthday, which is incredible to realize he’s turning 36! That really tells my age, doesn’t it?! Leading up to his birthday, I always think about the days leading up to his birth. And subsequently, on his birthday I’m deep in my memories of the day he was born, and about bringing him home. During my pregnancy, I remember asking my sister ‘what was I supposed to do with my baby when I brought him home from the hospital?’ I truly didn’t know what the first thing was I should do. But somehow, we came home and I figured it all out.

These stories we hold dear to our hearts. My family is a family of story tellers – both my mother’s and my father’s families. Whenever I’m with my family, be it my brother or sister, my son, nephews & niece, or even my best friend, we retell our memories – our family history. I remember one of my father’s visits here, he and I were drinking coffee one morning talking about my son and the choices he’s made in his young adult life. My father proceeded to tell me about when he was 16 and wanted to drop out of school so he could go work. This was the path his brothers took. As he weaved through the details of graduating school all the way through to how he ended up in the job and career that provided him a good life, my father was no longer my father but just a guy. A young man who didn’t know how to but faced life, made big decisions, and figured out how to be a man. He made a place for himself in the world.

I see how this man who I always viewed as my “dad”, walked the same path as me – as all of us do. This path of life; experiencing insecurities, braving the unknown, making adult decisions when you’re not yet there. Figuring it all out. I also look at my son. Here he too has faced life, made decisions, took chances, and has made a place in this world for himself. There’s comfort in this. Comfort in knowing that all these things in life that I’m learning, discovering, and exploring are all well-worn paths by many who have traveled them. Simultaneously, we are cultivating the path for our children and the generations to come.

I share this story because of Father’s Day, in memory of my Dad. I think back to when I was embarrassed by the way he breathed! Do I need to clarify that – yes, I was in throws of puberty! Years ago I sent a card to my father that contained the saying by Mark Twain, “When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years.” I still smile when I read this.

Wishing a beautiful Father’s Day to all, remembering special family memories. And I hope June is filled with summertime fun. The kind of things that you’ll talk about years from now!

It’s May!

Ah, the month of May! I love May, and not just because I was born in May. The weather is starting to warm up, why it’s almost the end of school and start of summer.  I also think it’s very appropriate that Mother’s Day is in May, with all the plants sprouting and blooming, and all the birds building their nests and hatching out their babies.

Naturally, my own mother is at the forefront of my thoughts. How I deeply miss her, how very precious she is to me, and what a genuinely, special person she was. The older I get, the more I realize what an exceptional mother she was.

Did I ever tell you about my first day of kindergarten? Leading up to my first day of school, I had my plastic Halloween fangs ready. I thought I’d surely make lots of friends and really be liked if I wore those to school. I do remember being so excited about it. But then when Mom brought me to school that first day, something changed. I no longer cared about those fangs. In fact, I was petrified! I did not want to be there. I cried and I begged Mom to take me home. It didn’t matter how I begged or what I said she did not take me home. Nor did she push me into to class and leave me.

After talking with me about what was so upsetting to me, she offered to stand outside of the classroom door where I could see her. And she stayed there the whole time. For two full weeks, my mother would stand outside of the classroom door for my half day class. It took two weeks for me to feel secure enough that I no longer needed her to stand there. Poor thing, she couldn’t even sit, she had to stand so I could see her head out of the window.

I have thought about that a lot over the years. There are not many parents who would do that. Most would explain to their child that every child must go to class by themselves and the mom or dad leave. The rationale of not giving into (or rewarding) the undesirable behavior. I love that she didn’t buckle under at the nun telling her to just leave and I’d be ok after a little bit. She stood strong with me, and for me. She handled it all the way she thought best. How lucky am I, to be so loved.

I also think about my first Mother’s Day being a mom. Christopher was born early June, so I was very pregnant that Mother’s Day. My sister-in-law, Diane, gave me a coffee mug that says “New Mommy Mug” and has little rattles, teddy bears and such all over it. I still have that mug and use it regularly.

I sincerely hope that all of us can take a moment out to remember good memories of our mother or special woman on Mother’s day, and celebrate this woman who raised or influenced in a nurturing and loving way.

The Prophet: On Children by Kahlil Gibran:

Your children are not your children.

They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.

They come through you but not from you,

And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts, 

For they have their own thoughts.

You may house their bodies but not their souls,

For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, 

which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.

You may strive to be like them, 

but seek not to make them like you.

For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

You are the bows from which your children

as living arrows are sent forth.

The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, 

and He bends you with His might 

that His arrows may go swift and far.

Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;

For even as He loves the arrow that flies, 

so He loves also the bow that is stable.


Time is such a crazy thing! If we had to define or describe it, we might say something along the lines of a measurement of hours/days/minutes to help sort events. Or even perhaps we look at time as a dictator pressuring us not to be late to work or having too many demands requiring your attention right now. But what time is to me, is confusing. Just yesterday I read that April the giraffe died. If you are unfamiliar with April, in 2017 she was watched by millions via livestream as she gave birth at the Animal Adventure Park in NY.  Naturally, I was quite saddened by the news. But shortly after hearing this I received a call that a dear work friend’s husband passed in his sleep. It was unexpected and a complete shock to everyone. In the flurry of activity of support to my friend, and afterwards returning to my world of routine Saturday chores, I all but forgot about precious April. Time does that. It mixes you up. It pulls you in various directions, sometimes spinning you around enough to disorient you then letting go of you.

What if I had said to you, exactly one year ago at the very early stages of the pandemic, ‘just give it a year and we’ll be starting to make discernable improvements.’ I, for one, would have said, “A year?!” I was shocked when early predictions started saying perhaps in July we’ll be better.  Gosh, that would have been better! But again, this factor of time. Actually, all that I, we, really have of time is this moment.  

I ponder time quite often; it seems to be interspersed along with many of my wondering thoughts. Speaking of wondering, I am tracking miles in my many hikes and walks. I dearly love to ‘saunter’ the trails. I was able to get to Florida and see my son and my best friend recently. Thankfully with my vaccines and good precautions, it was a safe trip. And my God was it so good to see them. That had been the longest I’ve gone without seeing my son.

As we’ve shifted into spring, I hope the beauty of the earth in all it’s blooming glory will brighten and inspire you. Wishing you a peaceful and beautiful month.

From my heart to yours!
I haven’t written since February, and what a year it has been. There were many times I had thought to send an email out and would even start to formulate my thoughts. But my energy was lacking. After returning from AZ for my father’s funeral in March, I sort of withdrew. Covid was a contributing factor too! I retuned and was right in the middle of working in the community and navigating a pandemic. Thankfully, and I believe because of diligent efforts, no one in my department got sick. And just when I started to consider going to the hair salon, there was a dramatic surge again. I told my brother that I don’t know how a year could take so long to get through yet fly by at the very same time. He speculates it’s that we didn’t have our usual events that mark a year. Beit the 4th of July get togethers, vacations, or the usual birthday celebrations. These social occurrences marks places in our lives and in the year, and this year we didn’t do these things.

While I am one who’s routine life remained relatively the same, I did enroll at CSM this year and am working towards a degree. Wow! It has been hard and stressful – and yes, fun too. With different changes at work (a lot of those) I contemplated a couple of different career paths (still with Hospice/MedStar), and I had some very big and good revelations. I realize I really love being bedside and having direct patient care. While I don’t think I’ll graduate before I retire, I am really enjoying getting this education. Thank you MedStar!

Christmas has come and gone, and I’m sure for most it was different. It was for me too. But there was a lot of good, very good, with this Christmas. A very dear friend and Hoop Sister stopped by my house just before Christmas. After a quick but very wonderful visit with her as she was leaving she said, “from my heart to yours.” I was so struck with that endearing statement. The only other person who has ever said that to me was a very dear patient that I had the honor of caring for before he passed the very same day she visited. At the end of each of his visits he would pat his chest at his heart and then reach for my hand and say, “from my heart to yours”, and I would do the same to him and we’d hold hands. May he be at peace with his beloved.

So now we’re looking at 2021. One of my sister-in-law’s said she wants to have a New Years Eve party with a big target that reads “2020” and everyone can shoot it or destroy it in any way they choose. While that might seem fun in some ways because dear God it has been an unbelievably tough year, I have no illusions that January 1, 2021 will bring any dramatic change. So, I am looking forward to 2021. I have a lot to be very thankful for. I will be getting the vaccine very soon now, and hopefully in the next several months this Covid pandemic will mostly be a bad memory for all of us. I sincerely wish you peace, good health, and much success in the New Year. From my heart to yours~

Tough Start

Happy belated New Years! I had a very tough start to 2020. With much sadness, my father passed away in January.  I had planned a trip to see him, and timing was everything.  The last I had heard just before leaving to go out was that he was coming home from the hospital on Tuesday, and I was arriving the day before. But that was not what happened. I knew his health was declining, but I was blindsided by his passing. Ultimately, I am so very grateful that I was there at that time.

My grief took such an unexpected path. My work in Hospice has provided an education not only in death, but in grieving. The grief I experienced with my mother’s passing was not at all comparable to this. With her passing, I felt so totally lost. I felt such an enormous void, not only in my life and heart but with my spirituality. Thanks to Hospice (even though Mom had not been in Hospice they still helped) and Fr. John, I worked though these voids.

My grief now has affected me more on a global level. If global is the right word. I’m still very much processing it all. I am profoundly sad. My father was always there, even though he was on the other side of the country. He was my direct connection to all I’ve been in this life. To my childhood and claim to Arizona, to my sense of restlessness and wanderlust.

Another global aspect of my grief is how we carve out these lives for ourselves. How each one of us strives to mean something, not only to our loved ones but to matter and to be a part of all this. And we do, we create these relationships and areas of importance – whether it be to our families, our church, or jobs, friends… – and then we’re gone. To what avail? Besides a few people, who will your life matter to?

All this sounds so dark, but I am acutely aware of the duality it all represents. We have this life, this precious life and it’s up to us what and how we live it. What we create for ourselves, and how we experience and enjoy the richness of possibilities.  Perhaps we should live life more hedonistically, actively seeking pleasures (and we should!). But then the Buddhist nature points out and directly confronts suffering. Again, this duality. So just as I sit with my grief, my thoughts go around and they explore.

In this month of Valentines love, my wish for you this month is to feel so loved. To realize what a beloved child of the Universe you are! And to love and to be loved!

Laughing for 7 mins

I recently read online the following Daily Habits that will change your life:

  1. 1 hour of exercise
  2. 2 liters of water
  3. 3 cups of tea
  4. 4 colors on your plate
  5. 5 mins of meditation
  6. 6 songs that motivate you
  7. 7 mins of laughter
  8. 8 hours of sleep
  9. 9 pages of a book
  10. 10 reasons to be thankful

Pretty easy to see these are all good ideas. The one item listed that gave me the most thought was number 7 – laughing for 7 mins.  Yes, laughter is great for you, but how do you generate 7 full mins of laughing daily?  Well, last night my work Christmas party provided me with a lot more laughing than 7 mins!

Two ladies I work with are always in charge of the games – the steal a gift game and the saran wrapped ball – because they always bring a bit of naughty and mischief into these games. If you’ve known me for any length of time at all, you know that playing is something that I’m always trying to fit into my life and is important to me.  Working in Hospice, our jobs are pretty serious in nature – so all of us together – playing and laughing was priceless!  To see these adults forgetting propriety and playing just like when we were kids! To see these men and women getting on the floor to play – yes, some of us needed a helping hand to get back up, and grabbing that saran ball from each other… I repeat, priceless. Not to mention how freeing it was to let go of my usual decorum especially in this world of everyone’s a winner. No, it was a dog eat dog game last night, and I was in it to win some!  Good times and good laughter.

Our next New Moon is early in the morning on Dec 26th. While I will not be holding a New Moon Hoop this month, I will sit in meditation and prayer.  So this New Moon also coincides with a solar eclipse.  It means all possibilities are on the table and you can rightly put yourself at the forefront of new plans for the future. This is the ideal time to make a fresh start – so write your new goals on paper! I have heard many people express their anticipation for this New Year and that it will be a better year.  I sincerely wish that for everyone.

During these holidays, I’m hoping you find peace and joy throughout. But I’m also wishing you more than 7 mins of good hearty laughter as well.

My Christmas Prayer,

May all who work for a world of peace and reason be granted the gifts of strength and courage… may the good that dwells within every human heart be magnified… may the blessings of truth and understand be ours…  may the joys of the Christmas season dwell within all of us… and as we grow and build for tomorrow may we live in sympathy with all others.

Yesterday I went to the mountains in VA to pick apples with my sister and nephew.  Even though the apples were slim pickings, we had a wonderful day.  My sister always has this way of making whatever we’re doing a little more special.  She had packed this really yummy picnic for us, and even brought a blanket to sit on. We sat on the crest of a little hill with beautiful views of the rolling hills of the apple orchard nibbling yummies while relaxing and talking.  She told her son that our parents had brought her to this very same orchard when she was a little girl. Not that she’s all that old, but to think about the rich history in those trees and in that ground. To picture my brother and sister all young and running around, picturing my parents young and happy, all picking and eating apples and having fun.

We, my sister and I, are always very reflective on our lives, on our parent’s lives, and our family.  When we go to NY we always talk about our parents traveling on the same roads when they were first married, going back and forth between their parent’s homes.  When we go to Arizona to visit our father, we usually make trips to the Mesa, or other areas that hold special meaning to us growing up there.  Always riddled with stories of our memories there.  And in Virginia, having lived there in several different times and areas, we always recall memories when we’re in those areas.  Seeing something here that brings to mind a memory from when I lived in Wisconsin that I need to share. It’s not just my sister and I that do this – it is our parents, our brother and both sides of our family that are memory keepers and storytellers.  We grew up with our aunts and uncles, our grandparents and cousins all keeping these memories alive.

Our children have heard most of these stories many times already, but I think that they enjoy them. I know when my son was a teen he would roll his eyes at my repetition of things he’s said and done when he was little. Now he grins when we repeat these same stories.  As he’s gotten older he definitely has more interest in our family history.  In fact, recently we spent hours on the phone looking at family pictures together, with me sharing who’s who and where and when.  I like to think that our children take ownership of their heritage and their place in this ever growing legacy of our family and our lives.

I know for me I feel very connected to something bigger than my immediate everyday life.  With my father and brother so far away it helps me feel closer to them. That by them being so special to me, that I am that special to them.  It’s part of what is keeping my mother and all my deceased loved ones very much alive and in my heart. It’s helping my son, nephews and niece see the bigger family, their heritage. To remember we are a part of something much larger than what we simply see in our daily lives.

Speaking of my son, he is planning on coming up to visit early next month.  And then “it” all begins: many family birthdays, all the holidays, and all the holiday preparations! I’m thinking we need a Reiki share.

Wishing everyone some moments to embrace your own heritage and your own memories that fill you with knowing that this world is affected and special because of You!

 

Autumn is here, my most favorite season! But what a summer it’s been. I’ve been hiking – in fact I completed a day hike on the AT (Appalachian Trail) logging a little over 11 miles on the trail in one day. It was a great hike mixed in with small moments of doubt, some really aching knees, and a big sense of accomplishment. Now I’m looking at the next section and working out logistics for that hike.

I recently spent a quick weekend trip to see my father. He’s been dealing with some big health issues so it was very good to be with him. He is such an inspiration. One that I didn’t appreciate when I was young, but now am genuinely impressed and inspired by him. The day I arrived in Phoenix it was 109 degrees! It’s been a while since I’ve been in temps that high and boy did it feel good. Yes, it is a dry heat and that makes a difference!

This fall I’m looking forward to seeing my nephew when he returns to the states on his teaching break, and for my son’s annual fall trip up here. Plus all the family birthdays and then the holidays coming up! Also Marvin and I will be celebrating our 20th wedding anniversary. That’s quite a milestone.

This life of mine, ever evolving. I recently read this quote by Nisargadatta Maharaj, “Once you realize that the road is the goal and that you are always on the road, not to reach a goal, but to enjoy its beauty and its wisdom, life ceases to be a task and becomes natural and simple, in itself an ecstasy.”

I hope your summer wraps up filled with wonderful memories. And that your road into autumn filled with beauty and wisdom, leading you to ecstasy!

Last post I told you about my hiking goals. To bring you up to date on my fitness achievements I’ve been on the Whiteoak Canyon trail on Skyline Drive, and I’ve built up my jogging distance.  But yesterday I tried a whole new adventure – and one that I’m still wondering if I’ll attempt again. I traveled the entire Three Notch Trail on a bicycle. That was 22 miles sitting on a very hard weird little seat. Oh my goodness, but my “saddle” hurts!

Last month we made it down to see my son and his new home.  That was such a wonderful trip. This is his first home purchase, and I am so impressed with what a grand house he found.  I was with him on my birthday and my best friend and her husband came and helped us celebrate. While the day was not designed or intended to be a “birthday party”, it definitely was one to me!  And I had an incredibly fun time.

Why is it when my girlfriend and I get together, we seem to revert to being young teens again? I can be in the pool with my husband, son, even with other kids it doesn’t matter, I just swim along. But put Bethany and me together in a pool we’re doing cannonballs, water ballet, and we play! I still giggle at this 10-yr old boy’s expression watching us play.

I sincerely hope you’re playing, exploring and enjoying the start of your summer.