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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.

 


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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.”

 


When Some Part of Your Life Seems Beyond Your Control

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God delays, but doesn’t forget.”  — Spanish Proverb

 

Each month, I find it more difficult to meet my expenses until the end of the month, on my fixed income. As each month’s end grows closer and I find myself without enough funds for essentials like food and medications, I find myself sinking into a dark hole of depression and anxiety. I worry that I’ll become severely ill, as happened last year, spending months in the hospital. In today’s still lingering economic downturn, it’s frustrating for anyone who has lost a job or met financial setbacks.  Those of us facing financial difficulty suddenly feel curtailed, with the rhythm of our lives changed in a way we never anticipated.  But the Universe slows us down for a reason.

There can be gifts in adversity.  They can give us some much-needed time alone, time to think.  Being alone gives us the chance to find ourselves in a new way.  We may be surprised to find some previously unknown inner resources.  A period of waiting through adversity can also turn us to our Higher Power, God, or the Universe when the solace we need is beyond the capacity of people to give.

It’s challenging to be able to do nothing when the world tells us that we must take action.  When action isn’t possible, accepting the circumstances of our lives enables us to experience the value of being, and not doing.

 


Omnipotent and Ageless: Your Majesty the Baby

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“In the difficult are the friendly forces, the hands that work on us.”  — Rilke

Too often we imagine life as sort of a magic carpet ride taking us wherever we wish to go.  Perhaps we’re watching television and an ad hooks into some fantasy we have in our mind and convinces us the world is at our beck and call.   We are omnipotent again, just as we were in infancy – “Your Majesty the Baby!”

But what would such a “magical” life yield in terms of change and growth?  Why would we even bother to strive if we could have everything we want or crave?  We would be the same at age fifty as we were at thirty and fifteen and five months – “Your Majesty the Baby!”

We need change and for the most part a majority of us are able to welcome it, even if change means some difficult growing pains.  With a little guidance from the Universe, we can strive toward an abundance of goodness.  We are omnipotent, but we are not alone.  We are part of a human community, and we can be in touch with that Power which is beyond ourselves.  That is the real miracle!

 


You Are In Integrity

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

 

Embracing the New ~ Imbolc

 

“An old error is always more popular than a new truth.” — German Proverb

The Wiccan celebration and ritual for Imbolc is fast approaching February 2nd. Imbolc brings the end of winter and of course a time of great change toward spring. Spring, even here in the desert southwest means new, rebirth, regeneration. I find that I often feel uncomfortable with the new because it causes me to reach out and expand my vision.  This may be painful and I don’t like the pain that comes with change.

My life at times is cozy and gives me a curious kind of comfort and reassurance.  When lonely or anxious or hopeless, I have at times turned toward unhealthy behaviors.  I am used to it and don’t need to do much to keep on going in the same old way.

Suddenly, I have seen the error of my ways.  Discovery, disgrace, legal issues, isolation, despair, the loss of a partner, the contempt of friends – all possible consequences of that cozy, complacent turn to my old behavior.  Yes, I may have awakened one day to find that my old behavior ruined my life!  This awareness has caused me to begin reaching out for the hard process of change.

Making difficult change is painful, but that pain is preferable to the agony caused by the inevitable outcome of unhealthy behaviors.


Ask for Help

 

“Asking for help does not mean we are weak or incompetent. It usually indicates an advanced level of honesty and intelligence.” — Anne Wilson Schaef

I’ve received a lot of help lately. Most from my dearest friend and some from people I never imagined I would receive so much of their time or efforts.  I don’t like to ask.  I’ll spend more energy talking about how hard it is for me to ask, than the energy I’d expend simply asking for what I need.

Many of us may have grown up in isolation and with shame being constantly reinforced the way I did.  Help began to feel like a luxury reserved for other people.  I thought I didn’t deserve it.   I thought I should be able to handle everything.  I failed to realize just when I needed help, because I’m so accustomed to living life in a “crisis mode.”  I tell myself that my concerns and problems aren’t important enough to bother somebody with.  Then, when life becomes really complicated, I blame myself for feeling overwhelmed and almost unable to act.

But we all deserve help.  We deserve all the help that we may want and need, whether it’s a ride to an appointment or for someone’s shoulder to cry on when we’re sad or upset.  We are worth the time, effort and concern of others – not because any of us is different, but because we are the same.

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Bitch, Bitch, Bitch

 

“Kindness it is that brings forth kindness always.” –Sophocles

 

“That guy on Facebook is being a total ass to me today.”

“What the fuck is her problem?  Did you see how that woman just looked at me?”

“That is so fucked up!  What’s wrong with this world?”

— Mark on a bad day.

 

“Bitch, bitch, bitch. That’s all you seem to be doing today” my friend Scott said to me; after listening to me spew negativity for a bulk of one morning together. His words got my attention.  Why would I blame the world, when it’s me that is out of sorts?

Life after all, is neutral.  It is our moods and attitudes that affect our view of things and the responses we receive.  If we are seeing life through the dark glasses of downheartedness, then we can’t blame the world for seeing grim.

I know that when I’m at ease with myself and feel at home in my life, other people seem friendly and serene.  A smile begets a smile; the simplest greeting elicits a friendly response.  And when I’m considerate to a neighbor or friend; it sets good deeds in motion.  Kindness is contagious.  I really do believe that it is kindness and love that make the world a brighter, better place.



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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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