Monday, February 27, 2006

New Season

Winter has been brief this year. Too brief, really, to suit her. She needs to feel the cold in her bones and the shivering in her soul during the winter months. She was born and raised in the eastern part of the Country and her sense of normalcy comes from distinct seasons: Summer, Fall, Winter, Spring. When one of those seasons wimps out on her, she feels, though maybe gratefully so, hearing her speak of it, that the world is changing too quickly. She speaks of her desire to live through Eternal Spring, and speaks of it even as her heart is telling her she's lying; even as her eyes give her away.

And now, before Winter ever blew in, it is ending. The sun was never that deceiving white-hot orb floating out there, causing her to cuss and run back inside for more clothes because of its deception of warmth while shining through a below-zero morning. When it was shining this winter, it was not deceiving, it was bringing warmth to the earth, making it a surreal season.

Now, today, there the sun hangs, forcing her to shed clothes, forcing her to open screens, causing her to cuss because she seems to have missed Winter.

And Spring comes marching in...forcing its way through the curtains, bouncing around through the yard, heating everything not covered with an unnatural warmth.

Nothing she can do will stop it. Nothing can make it slink back and wait for its time End-of-March/Beginning-of-April, or even The First of May. It's on its own course so she will welcome it...tomorrow.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Fragments

She is fragments, not a single person or a single soul, but a collection of souls and people. She is someone for one friend and someone else for another friend. She is a name for her family, a different name for her lover. But the time will come when she puts up the wall and pulls the welcome mat inside, places it INSIDE the door for awhile, welcoming everyone to leave her alone to be herself.

Grief and Life

She has been grieving the loss of two friends; and the loss of her innocence. She had to say goodbye to her childhood because Barry and Bill took that with them. On the flip side, she has come out stronger and with much less fear of living AND dying than before. She has learned the importance of finding a passion and the importance of connections.

The past is important but not as a means to the end. Her history is hers and hers alone and it is to be cherished and loved. Her birth home is still there and time stands still while she connects with it. Time never commences again, she simply walks away.

She has accepted herself. And isn't that the ultimate goal?

Friday, February 24, 2006

Time

She has been meditating. Jason listens to Sinatra and the couple dances still to Sinatra in 2006. The falcons save our lives.

The truth might be this: That time stands still...the movement is from US. The secret might be that we have to jump back and forth between the dimensions, and that might be the Afterlife. When Moon River plays and we feel a tug at our hearts or when we hear a story about Al Capone and have a familiar feeling, it could be because we have crossed into that time. We have memories of our past lives.

Time stands still. The only reason anything changes is because of our movement through it.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Lessons

She's learned a lot today already. It's 10 AM and she has been glued to The History Channel for the entire morning.

She learned that Dulles Airport was the first jet port in the United States and was opened in 1962.

She learned that the DC-8 aircraft was called the paper plane because it started to sell to airlines while it was still on the drawing board, literally.

But the thing that she learned that floored her was this: With all our technology and all the time we have had to perfect our technology, 15 of our airports still use falcons, yes, the actual birds, to keep other birds away from the runways to prevent crashes caused by bird impacts with planes.

We rely on FALCONS to prevent crashes of those gigantic, fantastic, technologically advanced super jets on take-off and landing. With all our computers and our education, we rely on a falcon to scare other birds away from runways so we can safely land our planes.

She thinks, "My, my, my, how misplaced our vanity is."

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Death

And her day continues. Approximately 7000 thoughts per hour are zinging through her brain.

She has spent most of today evaluating fear. And she has realized something comforting: Billy died. Barry died. Gramma died. It's okay for her to die, too. It's not scary anymore. She isn't going to wake up in the night and lay awake imagining herself in a coffin, her body no longer working, sleeping forever, because she knows that life continues even after this body stops functioning. She knows this now because she has people who have stayed with her, who are telling her that there ARE purple butterflies and that someday she'll be ready to take her net and catch them, too.

But then there is a new fear taking shape. Suddenly she has realized that her own parents are old. That they might exit at any moment and that she is going to have to step up to the plate and where there were five Cowsills to step up to the plate, there is only one HER, and a brother who will fall to pieces. Now there is that fear...that she'll be totally alone to cope with that loss. The realization that we all die has finally hit home.

The realization that this roller coaster has only been shut down for a short time for repairs, has hit home, and she knows that at her age, she will be in the last car up the hill and screaming all the way down, over and over and over again.

How Do You Tell?

Sometimes it is impossible to tell the difference between sadness and happiness, joy and depression, elation and let-down.

Someone asked her today how she was handling these unexpected, sudden deaths in her life and she said, "I feel nothing. I feel no emotion, no pain, no sadness, no grief...just blank...or else I feel overwhelming emotion, pain, sadness and grief... and am numb."

Today she has a project. Today is a day for self-evaluation and planning. Today she plans to wrap her head around all of this and decide where she sits.

No drugs, no alcohol to make her number. No squeezing her eyes shut to see if she can find tears. Just quiet meditation and decision-making.

It might be painful to watch her struggle.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Lonely

Today I was feeling lonely. I'm never alone for long, but was feeling the need to connect with my friends. As the morning ticked along, I was fragmented, distracted.

With a cup of fresh hot coffee as my companion, I braced against the cold eastern winter morning. We keep winter clothes hanging in the entryways here...gloves, scarves, nice warm coats, an extra sweatshirt...

I bundled up and stepped outside onto the front porch. Anytime I step outside I close my eyes and turn in a circle a couple of times so I won't know which direction I'm facing, then open my eyes and try to see everything in my line of sight like I've never seen it before that moment.

When I looked up at the sky, facing east, I saw the sun beginning to wake up and knew that that sun was the same one my friends would be looking at today. I saw some high, wispy clouds floating eastward and knew that some of my friends would look up and see clouds in their cities and know that those clouds had passed over my head at one point in the day, most likely.

It's really not easy to feel lonely when you know you share the stuff that nature is made of.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Girlfriends

I was just thinking this morning how awesome it is to have other women to share life with.

We understand each other, and we work very hard at gathering our friends around us, so that as we get older, we don't have to try to find those people; we can just relax and enjoy life with one another. I always seem to question why I'm here, and today I think I might have stumbled upon part of the reason...to fill my heart with emotions and my mind with pleasant memories and my soul with my girlfriends.

Everyone we speak to is an acquaintance...but it takes someone melding with your soul to be a real friend.

Thank God for my girlfriends! I'm so proud of them all. XXOO

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Purple Butterfly

There will come a time
When we have to go -
And we'll know.

But not before we've
Rehearsed these words with a sigh -
Remember the Purple Butterfly.

Kathy McWhirt
12-15-02

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Oceans to Mountains

A few summers ago, Don and I went to Colorado on vacation. We planned it oh so carefully, as we do each trip we take. Months and months with the brochures and AAA Tour Guide books and Internet sites so we can get a good look at where we're headed. There's only a week, and we are known to pack a hell of a lot of sightseeing in that week.

No sitting around a hotel room or enjoying the spa or the pool for us. We are up at 7, having breakfast by 9 and in the car by 10 AM, heading toward new worlds. We have been known to take a six-day trip and stay in five different settings on that trip. Neither one of us will die saying we wish we had seen Leadville, Colorado, or Hoover Dam or the Grand Canyon. If we're near it, we'll be seeing it.

The second trip we made to Colorado, we went to Garden of the Gods which isn't far from the famous Pike's Peak. We went to the Visitor's Center there and sat in on some lectures about the geology of the area...and then the instructor said the words that have echoed in my head for the last ten years: We are such a drop in the bucket with our 100 years of life on this planet. You're looking at mountains that used to be the ocean floor before the water receded to leave them towering thousands of feet in the air. You're looking at millions of years, and you think your life is long? A hundred years? Or less? MILLIONS and MILLIONS of years!

When I think about that, it boggles my mind. When I drive to the top of Pike's Peak, I'm not even sticking my head above the water that once covered that massive mountain! And when I think of living 100 years or less, it's like I see someone holding their wet hand above the basin of water and letting one little drop splash on the surface. I'm a little drop of water in the big sea.

Sometimes that frightens me a little bit, sometimes it thrills me.

When I stand on the shores of the Pacific Ocean and squint to see as far as the horizon will allow, I'm watching a time lapse documentary of the water slowly receding, and I know that miles below the surface of the briny sea are mountains as fantastic as the Rockies or the Sierra Nevadas or the Smoky Mountains. I know that there are peaks that will be snow-covered in a million more years, most likely, and still there will be plenty of ocean, and another million years will pass and there might be a new peak, but still plenty of ocean.

The oceans breed the mountains. What a comforting thought!

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Taking Barry Home

I can't wait to get Barry home and settled in so I can feel like he's content and happy, finally. I think I'll be a lot more content once I know he's gotten where he wanted to go.

Venice Beach

This past Sunday, just four short days ago, though it seems like an eternity ago, I was walking on Venice Beach with my best friend, who is also, lucky for me, my family, Tracy, trying to capture a photograph, no, that's not right, trying to capture a video of the beauty of it before jetting back across the country to my home in Indiana.

I know what home is. It's where your heart is. That's where my heart is.

Having always been a bit of a wanderer, not really feeling like I actually belonged anywhere, I was very stunned the first time I realized that that is where I belong. Maybe I lived there in a past life or maybe that's going to be what my Heaven is...or just maybe I'll get there during this particular Life Walk.

When I am walking on the boardwalk, in sight of the Pacific Ocean rolling onto the shore, trying to entice me into its surf, is when I am happiest and most content. I've gone through all the self-evaluations. I know that being on vacation is less stressful, so we cling to the place that makes us feel that way. I know it's different if you have to work in a place to make a living so you can live there. I know all the pros and cons. Believe me, I've sat up nights making lists of them. The pros so far outweigh the cons.

The biggest con up to this point has been trying to find a job at my age, but fortunately, my job is intent on keeping up with the technology that allows me to telecommute even now, always, as long as I live within the same exchange as the hospital, but they are also wanting to expand their horizons, so making it wireless and possible for me to telecommute daily from California is within the realm of possibility for me, within the next couple of years...be patient, then move West, young woman, right?

Patience has never been one of my virtues.

It is such a small world anymore. Living 2000 miles away and getting back to see my family often is not only possible but necessary and probable. I probably would see them no less often, honestly.

Here's my dream day: Get up at sunrise. Go to Starbucks for a pastry and coffee. Wander over to the Washington Street Pier and sit on a bench that straddles the sand and the surf so I can take in the ocean to where it disappears and the beach and buildings until they disappear on the horizon. Even sitting here at my desk I can close my eyes and hear the sounds of voices around me, muffled by the cushioning of the ocean spray each time a wave comes in...or maybe that muffled conversation all around me is just softened by the contentment in my own brain. The ocean doesn't allow much intrusive conversation. It's talking way too loudly for us to be able to speak of petty things in its presence. I can visualize a wave curling up on the ends, the ends being its hands, clapping them over its ears and chanting, "I can't hear you, I can't hear you!" when the conversation on its shores turns unhappy. No wonder all our troubles disappear while we're there.

I will sit and listen to the ocean, take in the words of wisdom, then go to my apartment. In my dream, it's always a small, cozy apartment, a few stories up, facing the street, so I can always hear the people passing by and look out a window and see them heading for the beach. So I can always hear the traffic, with a big palm tree right outside that will wave in the wind. I'll go to work, do my eight-hour day, transcribing for my hospital back in Indiana. There will always be fresh lemonade and iced tea in the fridge. When I take a break, I'll walk quickly to the nearest spot I can get to to see the ocean, with a glass of cold lemonade in hand, Annie at my side...breathe it in, make a snapshot on the back of my retina, go back to work. Annie will lay on the sofa while I work and watch the street below, just as anxious as I to get outside and down on the boardwalk with the crowds.

At the end of my workday, I will call a friend and take them with me to the beach. I'll walk to the Sidewalk Cafe and have a salad and a Corona, walk home as the sun is setting. I'll crawl into bed with Annie laying at my feet, and fall asleep with the window open, listening to the distant sound of the surf, smelling the salty air, full of the sights and sounds, ready to start the same the next day. Always the same, it will be, and some might find that boring, but I'll find that sweet.

And if my people decide to join me there...even sweeter.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

The Ice Queen

About the only way I can pick something to read anymore, is on the recommendation of someone else. There are a few people in my life who know me so well, who I share so many life quotes with, that they know how to decide when to share a book with me. Trying to pick out something on my own seems like a futile waste of time, usually, as I get wrapped up in trying to find something that identifies me, and it becomes apparent I barely know myself, but a few people know me so well that they understand what words DO identify me. Sharing books, I think, is one of the most intimate relationship definers there is.

This past weekend my friend, Eileen, shared "The Ice Queen" by Alice Hoffman. I started reading the book when I settled into the plane for my flight from LAX to Chicago Midway and finished it on the one-hour jaunt from Chicago to Louisville.

The first few sentences of the book are: "Be careful what you wish for. I know that for a fact. Wishes are brutal, unforgiving things. They burn your tongue the moment they are spoken and you can never take them back."

Eileen and I have had a close friendship for a couple of years now, made closer by walking nearly parallel paths through this woods, learning to rely on one another now and again, knowing when our paths were about to cross the way you know when a dear friend has passed on before you receive the news.

Then, our friendship was cemented when she read those sentences and knew the importance of passing "The Ice Queen" on to me, with a little card hidden inside the bowels of the book that read, "Life engenders life. Energy creates energy. It is by spending oneself that one becomes rich." This pretty much identifies Eileen. She gives of herself constantly and in that book, passed a bit of herself to me. I'll be passing a bit of myself to someone else, and I hope then that person passes herself to someone else.

Sharing books is sharing oneself. It continues life. It identifies us. It passes on a kiss and a hug and a shoulder. It is so important to pass on words dear to our hearts.

In my life, I've loved you all.

Sandstone

You might have noticed that the style of blog I chose was "sandstone." There's a reason for that...I absolutely love the beach. I'm especially fond of Venice Beach in California. I love the boardwalk, the ocean, lazy mornings wandering down to the Sidewalk Cafe for breakfast with my cousin, Tracy.

I'm going to live there.

I get content in my life here, then I visit there and I realize that I'm not really content here at all. That my real life is out there. People try to tell me I wouldn't enjoy it as much if I was out there living day to day, making a living. But they're dead wrong. To be able to sit and look at the ocean at the end of everyday, or the beginning, to be able to sit at the Sidewalk Cafe and have breakfast, just to be able to listen to the sounds and smell the smells and watch all those people...gladly would I work my ass off out there! That's where my soul lives.

Tracy said it best this past weekend when we were there together. She said that she had a feeling that was her reality. That that's what her real life is, and then her other dimension is back in Texas. It was very profound, the way she said it, and I think she's right about that. Sort of like everyday here, sitting transcribing, is my fake life, and my soul is back in Venice, looking at the ocean. That's probably why I can manage to sit here without losing my mind totally.

I woke up thinking about "home" this morning. I know my job is going to be able to go with me at some point, and I'm just holding my breath for that moment!