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Life Lived Fully

 

 

“What a wonderful life I’ve had!  I only wish I’d realized it sooner.”  – Colette

Colette was a French author whose books give a sense of a life fully lived.  Yet, even she regretted that she hadn’t appreciated her good fortune earlier on.  It was only while writing that she learned to see how lucky and happy she was and to praise life.

I know that I have been tardy in realizing how rich my life has been.  It is often only in retrospect that I can see the beauty and feel the joy.  How beautiful that day was!  How much I was loved! How lucky I was to have such good friends around me!  What a beautiful child!

Why didn’t I see what was happening right before my own eyes? Why couldn’t I seize the moment?  It’s good to remember, but it is amazing to live in the present and to cherish each moment while it is happening.

 


In Memory of My Other Mom, Dorothy

January 23 is the “death day” of my second Mom. Dorothy Eshenbaugh was the step-grandmother of my last partner. I’ve blogged about Dorothy on many occasions. During our brief five years as my “Mother-there-ought-to-be-a-law,” we experienced a lot of life together; there were ups and many downs. But the love between Dorothy and I was always stable. We had a hell of a lot of fun together; we played a lot of Dominoes, laughed our asses off, and cried some too. We’d get mad at one another, like everyone does, but it never lasted for very long. She always knew the easiest way to solve a family argument would be through me and not her step-grandson. Dorothy didn’t like it when we weren’t talking. I remember how she would often hold my hands and those of my partner’s in hers and she’d say; “Now fella’s we have to stick together. We’re all we’ve got as family goes.” You see, Dorothy had a respect for communication between family members. Dorothy was in end stage renal failure, and hadn’t spoken in a few years to her sister, Betty or her mother. But Dorothy and I worked on a beautiful letter that she mailed to her sister so proudly one day. Dorothy was going to put an end to the silence.

Dorothy hardly gave the envelope enough time to get through her own post office before she started checking her mail for a response from her Betty or mother. Then, weeks went by and then months. Dorothy’s sad attitude gradually lifted and she shrugged it off and said, “Wasn’t meant to be I guess.”

Dorothy died on January 23, 2008 of end stage renal failure. I often feared that when the end would come for her that she’d be alone; I knew that was one of her biggest fears as well. When she transitioned from our earth, her beloved companion Rascal was at her side. Dorothy joked that Rascal in a strange way looked a bit like her deceased husband, Robert, who was the love of Dorothy’s life! You know, I never could really disagree with her! I think somehow Robert reincarnated into that dog!

My former partner and I knew that Dorothy’s prognosis didn’t assure us any real definitive time with her before the end would come. So, we made every birthday and holiday as special as we could for her. In the five years that Dorothy was in my life, she lived life. She went to church every Sunday and put in a prayer request for my ex and me every Sunday as well. Dorothy was a good mother to me, at a time when I didn’t have one. My own mother died many years before I met Dorothy. When Dorothy learned my mother was deceased, I could see how she put herself in that role for me. I never complained one bit. It felt nice to be loved again in that way that only a mother can.

I know Dorothy is at rest and still living fully in another plane of existence with her beloved Robert. These beautiful memories I hold of our time together and knowing that Dorothy is once again reunited with her husband who she loved so much, make it easier each day to feel a little less pain about the loss and the feeling of that space filled by joy and happiness that things are as they should be.

Dorothy’s mother and sister eventually learned of her death. I always knew and felt so strongly that someday, even though my former partner and I were no longer together, that I would, in some way shoulder the responsibility of informing them of  the details of their family member’s demise.  The situation did unfold that way as my ex-partner never told them. When Betty reached me and I had given some of the details of Dorothy’s life those last few years, I inquired about that damn letter, which, they never received. Dorothy’s sister Betty and I have, through this odd process, become a unique pair of friends. Good friends in fact. We’ve never met in person (at least not yet anyway) and most of our communication is through email. Betty and I have a connection though. I have made a personal commitment to myself that this summer, I am going to make a trip to the small Texas town Betty and her family lives in, and have an opportunity to meet them all. In a strange way, they already feel like family to me. I almost found myself writing to Betty the other day, “We’ve got to stick together Betty, we’re all we’ve got you know…”  I know Dorothy is smiling as she’s standing next to her Robert, as she watches the friendship form between us.

To Dorothy, I send wishes of eternal peace, love and happiness, and all the “Robert time” possible.  Before you know it Mom, someday you’re going to realize I’m there with you too, and then you better get out a good set of Dominoes, OK?  Love you so much, Mom.

Your son,

Mark.

 

Those Few Special Friendships

 

“A friend is a gift you give yourself.”  — Robert Louis Stevenson

More.  Some of us have come to believe that more means better.  But there are some things where less is more, and one of them is a close friendship.  The truth is, we don’t have many special friends, and that is exactly what makes them special.

Between such friends, there is a bond of understanding, honesty, acceptance and love that is valued even more over time.  Trusted friends offer us the opportunity to learn to be intimate and to let ourselves be known as we truly are, time and time again.  From that mutual sharing, we receive what we need.  We can take certain risks, secure in the knowledge that the friendship will endure the test. With our special friends, we don’t have to worry about being perfect because we’re loved for who we are; the way we are.  These friendships possess an innate freedom.

Special friendships can be platonic or romantic. It doesn’t matter. Through good times and bad, we begin to sense a divine triangle of growth and love between ourselves, our special friends and our connection with the Universe.

To my close friends, Trish, Andrea, Scott, Kevin and Gregg, “Thank you for accepting “me” as me. The five of you were the special friendships I had in my mind when writing this blog.”

 


You Are In Integrity

“You are in integrity when the life you live is an authentic expression of who you are.” — Alan Cohen

 

Integrate Healthy Sexuality Into Life

Sex is one of the nine reasons for reincarnation.  The other eight are unimportant.”  — Henry Miller

Henry Valentine Miller (December 26, 1891 –– June 7, 1980) was an American novelist and painter. He was known for breaking with existing literary forms, developing a new sort of novel made up of autobiography, social criticism, philosophical reflection, surrealist free association and mysticism, one that is distinct always about and expressive of the real-life Henry Miller, and yet is also fictional. His works of this kind are Tropic of Cancer, Tropic of Capricorn and Black Spring. Henry Miller also was known to write travel memoirs and essays of literary criticism and analysis.

It is good and healthy to laugh about sex – as long as the laughter is on the side of life.  Sex, after all, is part of the life force, and if it is surrounded by caring and honesty, it leads to a joyous intensification of our relationship with others and with the world.  Then sex, like laughter, integrates.

Too often, laughing about sex betrays uneasiness, shame, disgust, and the want to hurt.  We talk about “dirty jokes” and consign sex to the bathroom.  We split off sex from other feelings and surround it with taboos and rituals and mockery.  Viewed in this way, sex isolates us.

We need to learn to talk about our sexuality in a proud and affirmative way. Talking and laughing in a group, or with a friend, or with a loved one, is one of the steps we take to bring sex into the open to take its place as part of the diversity of life.  Own your sexuality.  Talk about it without shame and claim it a vital part of life.

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The Miracle of the Butterfly

 

 

A butterfly is a miracle,
A divine creation that fleets,
After propelling the caterpillar within,
An array of predators he cheats!
– Dr. Maisie

Do you suppose it’s true; for a human being to ever see a butterfly in our lifetime is a miracle?  Someone shared this factoid with me a few years ago, and then I heard Katie Couric mention it just before she left the “Today” show.  After hearing that, I did some searching of the Internet, looking for some data that would give me the odds of one seeing a butterfly or not in one’s life.  Surely, someone has done the research and worked the numbers, haven’t they?  I found that someone worked the odds for the Monarch butterfly; specifically those that have been tagged to give scientists the ability to track their migratory path and successful arrivals to their seasonal home.  For someone to see a tagged monarch, the odds are over 3,500,000 to 1.

I love butterflies.  The butterfly is a symbol of hope in for me.  This past October and November found me riding the bus back and forth to the same appointment each day. From the bus stop, I walked along a jogging path used by a middle school or high school.  From the very first trip I made, to my very last, each day I was “escorted” by a pair of Monarch butterflies that would fly seemingly while performing the tango.  I can’t be sure if it was the same pair each day, but I am telling you honestly that every day two butterflies flew right along me for that one-third of a mile hike I made.  At a time when I was feeling so lost, alone and afraid, there was my symbol of hope, right there at my side.

From what I can recall from Katie Couric’s brief mention of the odds of seeing a butterfly on this earthly plane and in our lifetime, it is important to note that even though our population has exploded, we still are not populating the planet all that densely.  There is still about 7.5 miles between each human on earth if the entire surface was livable.  Then there is the butterfly’s struggle from larvae, to pupae, to the big show of the transformed winged creature all worth noting.  There are so many predators and things that could go wrong in this transformation.  Perhaps it just isn’t necessary to know the odds.  I think I’ll just be satisfied knowing that each time I see a butterfly, I’m witnessing a miracle!

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A Symbol of Hope ~ The Butterfly

A SYMBOL OF HOPE

A butterfly lights beside us like a sunbeam
And for a brief moment its glory and beauty
belong to our world
But then it flies again
And though we wish it could have stayed…
We feel lucky to have seen it.

– Author Unknown

Butterflies have always been thought of by me as a symbol of great hope. This photo, which was recently posted by a new Facebook friend of mine, reminded me of that fact. With butterflies now fresh in my mind, and eager to share the butterfly as a symbol for my readers, I am including this image because I feel it best reflects the unlimited potential that is available to all of us.

This image can serve for us all as a reminder of our unlimited potential through the love and support we can give to one another each day – to the best of our ability. Reconnecting with the butterfly is one step toward reclaiming happiness. I am setting out to free myself from depression and negative thinking. I will do all that is necessary. I will do what is healthy so that like the butterfly I can gracefully maneuver my way through the rest of my days.


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Courage is a Lot Like Love

The Cowardly Lion with Dorothy

From the Wizard of Oz: The Cowardly Lion with Dorothy

“Courage is like love; it must have hope for nourishment.” -Napoleon

In the story, The Wizard of Oz, Dorothy, on her way down the yellow brick road helps the Scarecrow from being impaled on the pole he has been on, helps the Tin Woodman move again with a simple oil can and encourages them and the Cowardly Lion to journey with her and Toto to the Emerald City. The Scarecrow wants to get a brain, the Tin Woodman a heart, and the Cowardly Lion, courage. All are convinced by Dorothy that the Wizard can help them too. Together, they overcome obstacles on the way including narrow pieces of the yellow brick road, Kalidahs, a river, and the Deadly Poppies.

When each traveler meets with the Wizard of Emerald City, he appears each time as someone or something different. To Dorothy, the Wizard is a giant head; the Scarecrow sees a beautiful woman; the Tin Woodman sees a ravenous beast; the Cowardly Lion sees a ball of fire. The Wizard agrees to help each of them, but one of them must kill the Wicked Witch of the West. The Wizard provides the Scarecrow, the Tin Woodman, and the Cowardly Lion with a head full of bran, pins, and needles (“a lot of bran-new brains”), a silk heart stuffed with sawdust, and a potion of “courage.” Because of their faith in the Wizard’s power, these otherwise useless items offer a focus for their desires.

Courage never operates in a vacuüm; we can always try hard and see ourselves as courageous about something.  We also need to believe that there will be some consequence to our acts of bravery.  It seems we are all looking at the long-term for a deliverance for ourselves and others.

Love, too, needs a sense of future, time to develop and flower.  It is only passion that lives for an instant and passion, like the red rose, doesn’t last out the full year.

So I believe, love and courage are similar and work together for our own good and the good of others.  By working on ourselves through a form of personal growth and development we treasure love and courage as we find ourselves with greater wisdom and more abundance of peace with ourselves and others.  I believe that this is one of the ways we have faith in the long-term and in things that endure. No one is suggesting we can change overnight, but with love and courage and the hope on which they depend, we can all work wonders! I believe in my courage to change day-by-day.

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You Are Wonderful and I Love You

 

 

“Words can sting. Words can hurt.” – Mark Schmitz

“Self-love, my liege, is not so vile a sin as self-neglect” — William Shakespeare

I’ll never make a feeling of true safety by seeing my self-image in terms of my character defects. To give my shortcomings such power is to make sure that I will never have enough faith or strength to continue forward; I am either condemned to live in the past, trying to change it, or to the future, trying to control it.

The only safety is in the present, affirming the positive qualities I have. Even if I’m in deep sorrow this moment, I can feel safe by appreciating that I can to grieve, which takes courage and passion for life. Appreciating my many good points is a way for me to counteract the fear that eats away at my security.

There are some ways I can affirm my self-worth. I can choose affirmations from my affirmation jar, ask others for positive support, list my good qualities and include my progress in my journal or blogs. I deserve to have the freedom that comes from feeling safe within me, not replaying the tapes that hold the hurtful words said in the past. Rather than saying to myself now – “You’re too skinny” or “You’re not attractive,” I can say “You’re wonderful and I love you.”


How to Get to Forgiveness

One is, as One is.


“One is as one is, and the love that can’t encompass both is a poor sort of love.”  – Marya Mannes

I have struggled to find the way to forgive myself and others.  Forgiving isn’t easy.  Writing this blog isn’t easy.  I am carrying so much resentment and hurt around with me.  In fact, when I’ve been deeply hurt or victimized by someone else, I may feel I can’t forgive. Yet, for my peace of mind and to let go, I may finally try.  It’s been suggested by a close friend that forgiveness is easier under certain conditions: a positive connection with the person we want to forgive, a deep relationship with the Universe, and lots of time.

Forgiveness is often preceded by grieving fully; we must first heal from the harm that was done to us. Through the honesty, power and wisdom gained through personal growth we are gently led through the process of forgiving ourselves and others. Many of us have also experienced the Universe’s unconditional forgiveness which gives us a model.  I acknowledge my responsibility for my actions, I let go of resentment, I grieve, and, finally, I forgive.

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