Words – That Make Up A Life

There’s a book in me, waiting to be written; one book. Probably, everyone has one book. I’m thinking that maybe we all have an obligation to write it down. We, each, have a right to say our words, record our thoughts, share our life with the world. Everyone, everywhere has a story. I’m going to tell mine. I need to tell mine. Something inside me, all around me is telling me to say these words. 

It’s time. 

Stop making excuses. Get the words down. What’s stopping you? Fear? Haven’t we talked about this? Don’t you know that fear just holds you back? Just write! Write like there really is no tomorrow. Tell your kids all the words you want to share, just in case. Tell your friends what they meant to you. Tell your ex-husbands (living and passed) that they played such an important role in your life. Tell your parents, even though they are long gone, that you forgive them, that you understand now. Tell the world your words. One book.  Just one book.  But you need to write it.  It won’t write itself!

Ok, so here we go again. It seems like I’ve tried to start so many times. Once, I even got so far into it that I did a little research on how to publish. That was the last time, actually, but every time something happens that makes me close the file; save it…but stop.

Words. They are just words.  And I tell myself that my words are not so special. My words are no more important than another person’s words so why do I think that my words should be printed and bound for others to see? Why do I believe someone would  actually read it? Why?

I’m going to tell you why.

Guided Memories

Over the past several years, I feel that my reflections have seemed guided. I have written about my life experiences and then, through the act of writing, I have gained new insights, seen my thoughts play out a different way. Heard a voice…come from somewhere; inside my head. 

And with the help of that voice, anger turned to understanding. Frustration became moments to remind myself to just breathe and go with the flow. And joy…joy has become delicious…savored because all too soon, as I have learned with anger and frustration; it, too, passes.

I have learned that I can not expect life to go the way I plan. In fact, that is the one thing I can count on. If I don’t expect things to happen, than I am not so disappointed in some results, or afraid of what might happen.  Instead, I am far more excited about the unexpected gifts.

It’s been the act of writing that has become my meditation, my muse. Words flow into my thoughts as I write. Sometimes, these thoughts seem to be coming from someone other than me. How else can I explain what happened when my anger towards the relationship I had with my mother turned into an “aha” moment of understanding and compassion? How else can I explain the fact that I found life lessons inside every hurtful memory of two failed marriages? And how else can I explain how painful it was to have my daughter and her family move so far away but, somehow, through writing and long meditative walks in a woods, I found the strength to become her strength again.

Writing. Every day. Three pages. Hand written.  That’s what it is now, but in the beginning, it was simply tapping away on a computer; writing what flowed from my brain onto the page. And then, pausing every once in awhile to look out the window or stroll through the woods to see the beauty of life and to breathe.

So, my plan, now, is to share my thoughts, my life, my words with others. I know that they’re just my words. I know that everyone has their own words. But maybe, just maybe, if I write mine, others will see their words as well. And maybe, just maybe, others will be able to take a break from their anger or frustration, anxiety, or sadness, to stroll to a window, or take a walk in the woods to see the beauty in their life, too. 

This time, I will start at the woods and work my way backwards. This time, I will start at that window. And I will share the words that filled my head, the words that guided me, step by step, to today.  I’m going to try, day by day, to share this view of life.  There’s something in me right now that believes that now is the time.

So, hang on.  More is on the way! 

 

Those Dreams That Haunt You

Many times I dream, but more often than not I forget them the minute I wake up.  Once in awhile there is a dream that lingers in my brain and simply cries out to be brought into the light of day.  I just had one of those dreams.

It Takes Place In a Storage Facility

I was walking by these storage units. Each was open and people seemed to be selling their wares.  I was a visitor walking past so many vendors.  I ran into an old friend.  She and I had been great friends years ago.  She was displaying her baskets.  I remember how much she loved making her baskets.  We hugged and she simply said, “I decided it was time to share these.”  We didn’t talk about the years that had passed without even a word between us.  We just simply enjoyed the moment.  Then we saw another man wonder by; another visitor like me.  He looked depressed, walking slowly and reflectively, and he looked especially old at that moment.  He smiled when he saw both of us. It turns out that we knew him. We shared the moment and then separated.  I continued walking past vendor after vendor, lingering on thoughts of these past friends.

And Then I Realize That No One Is Selling Their Wares

I happen onto a heated discussion between a vendor and a passerby. The passerby wanted to try a piece of the vendor’s prized carrot cake.  It seemed to make the vendor angry. Why wasn’t he pleased? It was then, I think, that I actually realized that no one was selling anything.  These were displays!  People were displaying the things they loved the most!

They Were Sharing Their Dreams

Then it dawned on me:  that’s why my friend was sad.  He seemed to have nothing of significance to share. I remember him as a very smart man, full of passion for his job, working long past normal work hours and long past his formal retirement date. But, when he finally stopped going to work, his dream ended.  This job that had consumed his life left him with a huge hole. Now, here he was walking past person after person who seemed to have realized other dreams; dreams that didn’t earn money, that weren’t  “jobs”.  They were passions outside of work.

The Storage Unit

This location; this storage facility, today, was bursting with excitement.  Dreams had been brought out of storage.  Dreams were being celebrated by their owners.  Those dreams weren’t big deals to anyone, maybe, other than the dreamers. “I make baskets.”  “I make  really good carrot cake.” Dreams, so many dreams, brought out of storage to celebrate and share on this day.  So many dreams are left in storage while we work on the things that we think will make us important.  For my friend, his job was his dreams.  Now it left him sad and empty. My other friend seemed content.  She’d had a good job too but she had moved on. She was content with her projects.  They were her projects, after all.  Like them or don’t like them:  she didn’t care.  Yet, she was thrilled to share them on this day.

So Why Am I In This Dream?

While I was dreaming, my thought was that this might be a great place to try to sell my nature photos; the objects of my current pastime.  But when I realized that no one was really selling,  I woke up.

I was puzzled and needed to continue to ponder this dream.   I felt bad for my sad friend.  It was his sadness that had me thinking…My work had been my passion too.  When I left, I felt that same hole.  Did he represent me?  Or did the other friend represent me?  Was I walking past the vendors because I have yet to accomplish my dream? Will I someday regret letting life pass me by and not finding my life dream? The thing was, I didn’t feel sad. Other people’s sites left me inspired. What is it that I’m doing that fills me with joy; that thing that I do for no pay and it would be something I would never sell?  I wanted to figure this out.

And Then I Did!

I have the opportunity to spend beautiful time with four little people.  I gladly do it for no pay. My grandchildren make my heart sing.  Fighting fires with my four year old grandson or racing Hot Wheel cars up and around his Super Ultimate Garage, listening to my two year old granddaughter burst into full out sentences, singing songs to the one year old granddaughter and watching her make connections with pictures in books, and now snuggling with my one week old granddaughter.  This is the gift that has been given to me.  This is the passion that I have found since retiring that fills me with joy.  And, I share this joy as often as their parents allow. And there is something that comes from sharing joy.  Joy spreads!

What a wonderful dream.  What a wonderful time pondering its meaning.

And, wouldn’t it be fun if everyone pondered what their passion is?  But it has to be something that you don’t do for money.  It has to be something that simply brings you joy.

Today’s Challenge To Myself

To have a beautiful life,
find the beauty in everything.
Sarah Marie Thompson

Ok, I need to play this out. This is the month from hell. Rethinking it as beauty, is today’s challenge to myself.

My daughter, her husband, and my grandson are leaving.

Sadness

Beauty

I will no longer take care of my grandson 3 days a week. What a gift it has been to have been allowed to care for him for nearly 2 years.
I will miss the time I have spent with this daughter.  She was so insistent that I get involved with her passion.  So, I spent time volunteering to stuff envelopes, run errands, and help out at events. I was able to be part of the magic that is First Stage, a children’s theater academy.  I was able to help my daughter but I ended up feeling like part of a greater family.
I worry for my daughter.  She has left friends, family, and a job she loved to make this move. I am proud of my daughter.  She loves her husband so much.  She is, selflessly, turning the spotlight on him right now. That’s true love.
And the hardest part of all is that they will all be so far away.  Thankfully, there are such things as Face Time now.  Video chats can happen every day, if we choose.

I am moving too!

Sadness

Beauty

I somehow found myself renting a place that actually faces a nature preserve. This beautiful space has been my meditation space for 3 years. I am moving closer to another daughter.  We can easily walk to each other’s place whenever we want to.
When I first moved here, the animals that came out of the woods, scared me a bit.  Raccoons would peer right into my patio door at night.  Now, we have become comfortable with each other.  I will miss their visits. I, now, have such a beautiful appreciation for the gentle nature of animals.  They have taught me so much about resilience, risk taking, and simply being gentle with myself.  Their messages will live with me forever.
The paths into the woods were just steps away from my back door.  Walking these paths has become a time of true meditation. I have found something that brings me peace when I am troubled.  I know, now, that it’s worth a small drive to spend time in such a sanctuary.
Why would I leave such a beautiful place?  Rent!  My income will not increase but the rent goes up each year.  That fact makes it too difficult to stay. My rent will go down substantially with this move allowing me the extra cash I will need, now, for airline tickets to visit my other daughter and grandson.

You know, I think this worked. Maybe just for the moment but this was a great way to refocus my brain.

Out Of Darkness

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It’s been years now; twenty-one to be exact, since I was shocked into the realization that you had decided to leave.  You left!  Done.  Over.  Your “Life” would breathe no more.  Your “Life”, finished.

I screamed, “NO!”  I sobbed and, through the tears, I raced…raced to grab your girls.  Raced to hold them, to let them know that I was still here.  I didn’t want to let them go. But “Life” moves on.

People wanted to talk.  People needed me to answer questions.  People wanted to cry with me. In my head, I’m thinking that they also wanted to judge me.  “This is your fault!”  But instead, I heard people say “I should have known.”  “I should have seen the signs.” “I should have reached out.”  “He called me yesterday and I didn’t have time to talk. I should have taken the time.”

Time passes.  “Life” goes on.  Events happen that you should have been present for.  Your girls graduated from high school.  They went on to college.  You were not there to help them choose career paths.  They, each, spent a semester in London.  I worried for both of us for their safe travels and returns.  You were not there for their college graduations either, or to help encourage them through job interviews, or to move them time and again from apartment after apartment and finally to real homes.  I walked both of your daughters down the aisle on their wedding days and you missed the birth of your first grand child.

You missed it all…or did you?

Twenty-one years have passed since you left.  You didn’t even say “Good-bye.”  Everyone has a “Life” journey.  Were you supposed to end your’s at that moment?  Were you supposed to just disappear?  You know, your choice changed our “Life”.  Your decision changed our journey.  You know, we still remember you.  We still grieve your choice to leave this “Life” behind.

Yet, out of the darkness, your girls have grown strong, supportive, resilient.  Out of the darkness, we still hold each other tight.  We want to believe that you have been there still.  Out of the darkness, we, now, see you in a different kind of “Life”.  We think it was you who kept them safe in London, helped them find great jobs, made sure that the sun shined bright on their wedding days.  And it is you, now, who watches over your grandson. who is the joy in all of our lives.

Out of the darkness,  we know you are there and we love you…still.

Fast Forward

Morning Pages, my journal, has become an important part of my morning routine.  It has been a place for me to share my joy and my sorrow, my anger and frustrations.  No one needs to see my words, ever, unless I choose to share.

The past blogs have been about a potential change in my life and how I processed it through words on paper.  I had to stop sharing when the pain became too deep.

I didn’t stop writing daily in my journal, however.  Over the past two months, there were moments of dread…hope…devastation… fear…realization…grief… acceptance…and now today patiently waiting to get to the other side.

Sprinkled in amongst the elements of change were moments of normalcy, even joy.

Life.

It’s all there.  Documented for me to review.  What I see is that, after scratching out all the anger (you can see it in my handwriting as well as in my words), I found my way to understanding.

My daughter is moving far away.  She is taking, with her, my job, my joy, my grandson. Change is hard on everyone.

She sat, calmly, while I cried.  She stood, strong, with her man. Time passed, and we didn’t talk about it.  Instead, we focused on the daily activities of the baby; superficial conversation to keep the tears from my eyes.   At one point, in my journal, I wrote what I knew I needed to write:  “Let go.  Let God.”  I put this in God’s hands.

It was at this point that I started listening, hearing words that weren’t spoken, out loud, but still so clearly evident.  My daughter. I started hearing my daughter. The words were there, behind her eyes.  A mom knows.  This was breaking her heart too.  But, she appeared, on the outside, to be happy about the opportunity for “an adventure” as she called it.

When I found my strength, she could let go of her’s.

She cried. “I’m afraid.”

“Me too!” is all I could say back.

But, at least we were talking together again. And then I could hug her and tell her how much I love her and that everything was going to be ok. And, I could once again be the support that she counts on with words of encouragement.  “This is an opportunity, a door that has been opened for you.  You would always wonder what was on the other side if you didn’t pass through this door.”

My journal documents the daily, gripping pain that I no longer shared out loud with her until it became monotonous even for me. My god, get over it already.  No one is dying!

And then, in the middle of the despair, my other daughter marries.  The clouds parted.  Joy and sunshine filled a few days. I practiced a toast over and over again until it became part of me.  Words of deep love for my daughter; my daughters. Words that tell our story:

“When their dad died, in 1994, we became a very tight unit.  We watch out for each other.  We help each other.  We have laughed and cried together, listened and loved each other through everything.”

And then, I offered up a toast that was more actual suggestions for a happy, successful marriage:  Watch out for each other.  Help each other. Laugh and cry together.  Listen and love each other through everything.

I looked at both my daughters, on this day, and saw beautiful women standing strong by their men.  And, I was a proud mom standing strong with my daughter; my daughters.

We have a bond. No move will break that bond.  But even today, as we count down the last two weeks before they move, I write again, “Let go.  Let God.  I feel I have.  At least, I’ve tried.  Letting go, doesn’t take away the grief.  It just removes the battle.”

Each day, my outward strength has allowed my daughter to grieve.  She is leaving a great job, wonderful friends, and lifetime of connections that has made her so successful.  She is allowing the light to shine on her husband now.  Her courage is amazing.  Still, she cries.  Seeing your daughter stand strong with tears in her eyes, is humbling. We have come full circle.  I smile.  I raised a daughter to be strong.  She is now giving strength back to me.

I Write, I Write. Everyday, I Write

Journal Entry - July 26, 2015
Part Nine of how Morning Pages(my journal) 
helped me process through a change.

I write.  I write.  Every day, I write.  Yesterday was everything many dream of.  A quiet, peaceful day with nothing to do.  And I did nothing. Oh well, that’s not exactly true.  I cleaned my little home, then went for a walk in the woods.  Someone had told me that mosquitos don’t like the smell of vanilla.  I had to try that out.  Come to find out, it’s true! It’s a little messy, spreading vanilla extract all over yourself and I walked through the woods smelling like a cookie but it really does repel mosquitos!

Then, back here to just sit and decide what next.  I watched a lot of TV and then got sad thinking about my grandson.  If they move away, this will be my life everyday.  This quiet, peaceful existence…everyday…BORING!!!

I didn’t want to dwell on it.  I’m trying to let God handle it.  I went to bed early and slept until 5:30 am.  It felt great.  And now, laying ahead of me, is today.  It’s Sunday.  Nothing to do.  House is clean.  Plants watered. Weather beautiful.  I’ll walk the woods this morning and maybe again this afternoon.  I can’t spend money right now.  I need to save for other things.

It’s a strange time, right now, in my head.  I’m empty of light.  I read through other’s posts and I don’t care.  I try to think of something to write and I come up dry.  Empty. I wanted to be that person who could help guide others to the light.  Right now, I think “Find your own way!”  I’m in protective mode.  I’m waiting for the bomb to drop.  I’m working out how I’m going to respond on that day when I hear the words.  I’m trying to be ready in case God’s plan is to move them away.  Slow, deep breathes…Slow deep breathes.

When I walk the summer woods, it’s hot and humid and still.

IMG_8464 IMG_8467Animals move slowly. Birds sing a little less during the day.  I breathe in the oxygen of the leaves and I walk, trying to think of nothing.

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Then, in pops thoughts of a brother who died homeless, and an ex-husband who took his own life, and I feel guilt.  I should have done more, tried harder, been better.

I’m alone, right now, maybe because I deserve to be!

I need to STOP taking the blame…or the credit for every other person’s journey.  I am not that special!  Remember?  My brother and my ex-husband did as they did of their own accord.  To think that I caused it is being pompous.  Each of us has our own power to play out our life the way we want.  I, right now, have the power to get on with mine!  Find other interests, meet other people.

But, right now, I don’t want to.  Right now I am choosing to be alone.  I am choosing this!  It is not a punishment.  As I chose, yesterday, to sit and watch TV, I will choose today to maybe do the same.

We’ll see.

Last Thing I Wrote Was “Help Me Breathe” And You Did Just That

Journal Entry July 20, 2015  
Part Four of how Morning Pages(my journal) 
helped me process through a change.

Been gone from here for three days.  Went to Dancing On The River’s Edge, our little tradition that started when my brother died.  Today, I return to dealing with thoughts of my daughter moving away but for three days, I had the beauty of the Wisconsin River, love of friends and family, a little good music, and mosquitos to take my mind off of it all.

I asked you to help me breathe.  You did just that.

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…Then, I was home; sitting, relaxing.  I get a text from my daughter with a request to watch my grandson a couple extra times in the month of August.  My heart says “Absolutely”.  My mind says, “Let her figure it out without me.”  And so the horror of them leaving replaces the beauty of the river, the peaceful flow, the incredible sunsets and sunrises, the sounds of the cicadas and frogs, and the music.

For a moment, I was breathing again. In amongst the stress and commotion of the camping trip, you helped me see that life exists all around me and it’s stunning and beautiful.  I just have to open my eyes and look.

Thanks for the reminder.