Veterans of War

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Last night I eyed the little old man sitting across from me in the Taco Bell. He was wearing a WWII veteran cap full of medals and although almost ancient he sat ramrod straight as if an officer might call him out for sloppy posture. In his hand was a Sudoku book and he was busy placing the numbers when he wasn’t looking around the place. Suddenly, he looked directly at me, his shiny blue eyes piercing my soul and gave me a smile that warmed my breaking heart. Then he went back to his game.

I had come to Taco Bell after sitting alone at a table in a restaurant waiting for my fellow book lovers to show up for our annual party and book exchange. As I waited tears would well up as I thought about the previous evening when B and I decided to divorce after I realized there was no hope that his feelings for me would ever change. I was devastated and contemplating life alone or, God forbid, someday dating.

Sitting there in a room full of strangers I felt more alone than I have in my entire life. Crazy thoughts of “my family would be better off without me than putting them through this ” circulated around in my brain, and although I knew I would never act upon them, tears leaked silently as I contemplated how my 30+ year marriage had reached such a gut-wrenching low. As I scanned the email to ensure I was at the right place I realized I was a week early and decided I needed to escape all the holiday merriment going on around me. That is how I ended up at the Taco Bell across the street.

I watched the old veteran for several minutes. He looked happy yet I felt a sense of loneliness cradling his well-worn soul. I decided to take a chance and invite myself to dinner. When I asked if I could join him he looked delighted. He introduced himself.

“Ken?” I asked, wishing that my soon-to-be hearing aids had arrived.

“No Kent,” came the reply. “Like Clark Kent, superhero, although I am afraid the red suit would look a little wrinkly at my age.”

We both chuckled.

Kent was 92. He had been married to Doris for 65 years and she had died four years ago. They used to come to Taco Bell and sit across from one another enjoying each other’s company while playing Sudoku. He missed her and the life they had built together.

“What is my purpose here?” he asked me soon after introductions were made. “I just want to know why I am still here and what am I supposed to do with the rest of my life. I have no clue.”

“Well, that is obvious,” I replied. “You are suppose to be sitting here eating dinner with a sad middle-aged woman and telling me the story of your life.”

And so he did. He spoke of being too young to join the war when the United States was attacked on December 7, 1941, and how two years later, on December 7, 1943, the principal of the school told all the young men that he would grant them their diplomas, a semester shy of graduation, if they would only go and serve their country. Being the good All-American boy that he was; Kent went and signed up that day.

When he went home to tell his father, a WWI veteran that he enlisted; his father told him that he would regret it, but he didn’t believe him until his first Christmas far away from home, with guns firing in the distance, with regrets that flew fast and furious like bullets around his head. On that wintry night narrowly escaping death he realized his old man was right after all. He just wanted to be home.

“When staring death in the eye, men act in three different ways. There are those who want to flee, those who cry, and those who pray. I was one of the later but if I am honest there were times I experienced all three as I fought in the Pacific,” he explained.

Kent still marveled at his first airplane ride and laughed as he re-counted his complete and utter embarrassment at getting air sick and throwing up in a hat in front of the pilot. He talked about endless days at sea and wondering if their big boat would be someone’s prize target. And he narrated the story of a fellow veteran who was in the Merchant Marine, whose ship was stopped by the Japanese, after delivering supplies to the troops. For an entire hour the enemy shined a light on the American boat until turning off the light and slipping into the night.

“Why didn’t they kill us?” his friend asked the commander.

“We were high in the water so they knew we didn’t have any supplies and they didn’t want to waste their ammo on us. They just wanted to give us a bit of a scare,” came the reply.

Eventually, Kent ended up in Saipan surrounded by water and the Japanese. He recalled how the enemy would slip into camp and night with a wire garrote and strangle an unsuspecting solider and how they learned to walk with their back to the huts so no one could attack them from behind. But by far the saddest day of the war for Kent was the day a plane load of soldiers were flying home soon after the war had ended. As the plane took off over the base personnel could hear the sputtering of the plane and watched as soldiers tried to parachute to safety only to hit the roofs of the buildings because there was not enough time for their chutes to open.  The ones who didn’t jump drown as the plane went down.

“A whole plane load of boys who had survived the war and were jubilant to be going home only to die as they were taking off. It never made sense to me,” Kent said with a far-away look in his eyes.

We spent two hours talking about the mundane: weather, walnuts (he was a farmer) and dogs and important topics like war and marriage.

When asked how he stayed married for 65  years he offered this advice:

“You wake up every morning, look in the mirror and tell yourself that come hell or high water, and am going to love this person no matter what. When you get to be my age you realize you just don’t remember those bad days but you do remember the good and the good far outnumber the bad anyway. Why hang onto bad feelings when you don’t have to?”

I told him my story. Married 30+ years, six kids, travel, building houses together and multiple moves to a man I had adored until he no longer adored me and did everything in his power to try to get me to leave. The night before, I had read him what he had written a year ago about how he loved to feel my touch and how much it meant to him. When I asked if he still felt that way he said, “No I don’t…. I’m just being honest”  which is his newest mantra. It was then I knew that it was time to end, what had been for the most part, the happiest years of my life with the person I adored most in the world. This veteran of marriage was being discharged.

“That husband of yours must be crazy,” Kent said quietly as he leaned forward and looked into my eyes. “Too bad he doesn’t realize that he’s got a good woman if she comes up and invites an old man to dinner. My wife used to do that too. Believe me when you are my age you are lonely and you appreciate someone taking the time to show you a little love and concern. But don’t worry, a nice good-looking gal like you will find love again. Just don’t waste your love on someone who doesn’t appreciate it.”

Sometimes it is amazing how God puts someone who we need right in our path when we need them which implants a beautiful facet of multi-colored lights within our soul.Yet, I have found that most of the time it is up to us to seek out for ourselves what it is that we need whether it be companionship, a safe haven or the quite assurance of a hug. For it is in the seeking that we find out what we truly need, that we become confident and brave, and it’s how we realize that we are never alone in this world even though it often feels that way.

Thank you Kent for being my guiding star last night. Your light helped to lead me out of the darkness into a world that is open to possibilities for this old broad. Your purpose in life seems fairly obvious to me…you are a beacon of hope offering your light to those that will take the time to listen.  I can hardly wait to see you next week when we meet for dinner again.  You truly are a great first “date” and you have given hope for the future.

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On The Road Again

The word SO is the beginning word of almost every sentence by people uttered ’round these parts.

“Soooo… you go down to end of the road and make a right”

“Soooo… do you want pickles on your burger?”

Soooo…. where am I?

Well, I am on the road writing this from the spectacular country of Canada. Unlike California, it is green, fresh smelling, and water is everywhere. Barns outnumber people, roadkill is abundant, and sole proprietorships like JOE’S GAS STATION abound. I love it here.

This is an interesting trip for me. I am traveling with my 81 yo father who is starting to have memory problems. Makes for some interesting repeated conversations that start with “I didn’t know that!.” (He did) and end with “What did you say???? ” (Said at the top of his voice because his hearing is also going.) Getting old isn’t for sissies (or for their daughters.)

This expedition is special. My father is beginning to mellow a little in his old age. It makes for a closer relationship with him being a much better listener than when I was growing up. He chooses his words more carefully these days too. These are nice changes that I appreciate at my age. I also realize that he may not be around much longer so I am trying to make this a happy experience for the two of us and cram my head with memories that will sustain me when he is gone.

Two months ago, I decided I wanted to take this trip to Canada when I became genealogically frustrated. For years I have searched for information about where GG Grandfather was born, who his parents were, etc. I finally got tired of barking up the wrong trees and decided to come to the source to see if I could glean any new information. I am not hopeful as record keeping was done as an afterthought in these parts until the later decades of the 1800’s.  But I also know that information can often be found where you least expect it so I am going with that mindset for the next few days believing if I wish it hard enough that it will come true. Tomorrow we head further north to the place where my GG Grandmother was born in 1835.  It is hard to believe that I will be standing in the same miniscule town where she lived in a log cabin all those years ago. It must have been hard eking out a living as a farmer or miner in these parts of the country. I often wonder if people today could do the back-breaking work that are relations did before we all went soft.

This afternoon Dad and I spent our time together doing research at the local  public library but came up short. We searched through books, family histories and microfiche and found nothing. But it was enjoyable because I can say with good authority that there is nothing like the smell of old books. There is something about that odor that is comforting and takes you back to places that smell like cobwebbed attics or ancient barns. Old, yet, familiar smells. Like the scent of your grandmothers old wool coat or your grandfathers well-worn boots which smelled of pipe tobacco and stood up by themselves over on the back porch. The funny thing is, while I found nothing about my family, I did find something about B’s purely by chance. The information was contained within a book about the Donnelly family. I first found out about this saga several years ago when I was researching B’s family. To my surprise and horror I learned that one of B’s relatives had probably been involved in a mob killing of several members of the Donnelly family. It was interesting to read about it today from a fresh perspective and learn more about the movie that was made about this small town tragedy.

Tomorrow we will head out early as Dad likes to get a jump on the day. I think he believes that he has a limited amount of hours left on this earth and he doesn’t want to spend them laying in bed. No, by golly,  he wants adventure.  He wants to see new places before he passes. And he wants to find THE BEST chicken sandwich that has ever graced a hungry customers plate. This new attitude of his inspires me to want the same for myself.

So here I am on the road again. Just me, my old man and some new memories that the two of us are collecting along the way. Today, I am grateful to have this opportunity to learn about myself, my father, and my past. It truly doesn’t get much better than this!

BTW, you know you are in Canada when…

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Storms and Baggage

I wait in the shallows

Like a fish hooked to a line

Splashing frantically

Mistaking love for oxygen

Your words driving me backwards

As you release the hook

That has pierced my lip

And held me still for so long

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Like a gale churning and throwing

Our life far, far away from

All we knew

I am here

You are there

Yet, your words

And sometimes the lack of them

Take me under

Scraping the sandy bottom

Of what our relationship used to be

I think I can no longer be with you

Because you do not know who you are

And in not knowing

You drag me down to skin and bones

Clinging to life, yet lifeless

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I am a soul who still wants to dance

Unafraid of your pronouncements

Of whether that movement

Is good or evil

I want to feel the wind for myself

Let life wash over me again

Unhampered by your sea walls

Meant to keep the shoreline in place

I have done the work

I was meant to do

Have you?

For now I wish

To let the unknown be born

Let the necessary changes occur

Which will free us both

As we are no longer one

We are now separated by a quay

Of hurts larger than the boulders

Which have created it

I want to find wisdom

In how I am living

In what I am feeling and doing

Touching and tasting

No longer content to munch on stale bread

I want the life force

Of action and touch

I want to look outwards

Not back towards your shadow

Which tries to hold on to mine

Refusing to free it

But now…finally

I’m throwing my baggage to the sea

So once again I can be me

Do not try to retrieve it

There is nothing new there for you

All it contains is what

You already rejected

Time and time again

No, let that baggage float out to sea

While I go pack again

With those things that are

Meaningful just to me

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What It Means To Love Someone Fully

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Yesterday, we had a Marriage Encounter meeting at our home. It was fantastic and the people who came were interesting and good, kind folks. One of the questions that we shared in our circle was: When I first met you did I know what it was to love someone fully?

Of course, for me, the answer was no. When you marry young, I don’t think anyone knows what it is to love fully. I think we try, God bless us, but until you have lived with someone for quite a while I don’t think it is possible to even fathom what loving someone fully means because it often means different things to different people. I think having experienced a history together is necessary for this type of love to come into sharp focus.

I can say that for a very long time I was selfish (maybe still am) because I was demanding to get my needs met by B because they had not been met as a child. I should have been wise enough and mature enough to meet my needs myself but I did not understand the complexity of what that entailed and the depths you have to plumb within your own soul to accomplish that. I also tried to make B love me in ways that were comfortable to me instead of ways that were comfortable for him because I was unwilling to change. I clung to ways I was familiar with instead of having faith in the love B had for me and that his way of showing it was also valuable.

And so yesterday, when I answered the question, I replied that I still did not think that I knew what loving B fully means. But today, after much contemplation, I want a re-do because I think I may have been wrong. Why? Because:

  1. If I am fighting to preserve my marriage through the worst of times and on those days where it seems impossible to keep putting one foot in front of the other but I do it anyway; then I know what loving someone fully means.
  2. If I eliminate major flaws within my own personality by reducing anger and increasing peace in order to save my marriage; then I know what loving someone fully means.
  3. If going to painfully sad counseling sessions to learn about myself and to try to learn to look at things from my loved one’s point of view, while listening to the pain and hurt I have caused them, and actively attempt try to remedy that hurt; then I know what loving someone fully means.
  4. If  I am actively looking for reasons to be grateful for everything wonderful and wondrous about my spouse; then I know what loving someone fully means.
  5. If I am working hard to see the good in my spouse and I have faith that he has my best interests at heart; then I know what loving someone fully means.
  6. If I step out of my comfort zone to do the things that make my spouse happy without expecting anything in return; then I know what loving someone fully means.
  7. If I work hard to improve communication between us in order to reduce misunderstandings; then I know what loving someone fully means
  8. If I take responsibility for my own actions instead of blaming; then I know what loving someone fully means.
  9. If I make the conscious choice to find ways to love my husband each and every day event though he may not be at his best; then I know what loving someone fully means.
  10. If I provide my spouse with gentle encouragement; then I know what loving someone fully means.
  11. If I talk to my man in the way I would talk to my best friend; then I know what loving someone fully means.
  12. If I decide that I will do whatever it takes to make things work between us; then I know what loving someone fully means.
  13. If I am actively working to keep that sense of aloneness between us at bay by finding opportunities for connection; then I know what loving someone fully means.
  14. If I let go and decide to trust my heart to B completely, then I know what loving someone fully means.
  15. If I work to put my spouse first… above work, committees and all the other countless things that need our attention; then I know what loving someone fully means.
  16. Being with my lover through the daily grind is easy but if I choose to be with him during the hardest of times; then I know what loving someone fully means.
  17. If I practice just listening instead of fixing or giving unwanted opinions; then I know what loving someone fully means.
  18. If I work on being fully present and in the moment; then I know what loving someone fully means.
  19. If I share my feelings in a kind and appropriate manner; then I know what loving someone fully means.

Let me say, that I think it is important that you do not lose yourself or what you value in order to love someone fully or have them love you back; for that is not what love is about. And let me also convey that this list is not meant to imply that I do these things perfectly or even well. But I can state that I think I am much closer to knowing what loving someone fully means because I am actively practicing what it takes to show that love everyday, instead of acting as if these things will take care of themselves. It means that although there are times that I fail and disappoint both of us; that at least now I am now mindful and aware of what loving B fully might mean and I try to act accordingly. It means that these are things I want to do of my own accord instead of doing them out of some sort of obligation or expectation. And it also means that although I will continue to have to practice the art of loving B fully each and everyday; that I have faith that because of my love for him, that I will get it right eventually, and that I will be kind enough to grant myself some grace until I do.

 

Friendship

This morning I had a long overdue coffee date with a wonderful woman. We are about the same age and are both on the road of discovery about ourselves while deciding what we want the second half of our lives to look like. We have a lot in common in many regards and I hope she is on the way to becoming a good friend.

After coffee was over it occurred to me how much I miss having close female friends. Sometimes I miss it so much it feels like a piece of me has been ripped away and left abandoned out on an isolated road. Alone.

Don’t get me wrong I have some wonderful friends. But due to our constant moving or their moving; these women that I cherish and love are scattered throughout the United States. There is N… my been with me forever friend who has seen me through my youthful indiscretions and has nursed me through the past year. There is C who knew me as a teen and with whom I share a birthday. There is L who makes life something to laugh at and enjoy to the fullest even when I am whining like a baby. And there are several other special ladies who I know would be there for me if I picked up the phone. But what I need at this juncture of my life, and what I miss most, are a couple of good girlfriends to go to coffee with every Thursday to catch up on each others lives.

It is hard making friends at my age. It’s an art really. The type of art I have really never possessed in sufficient quantities… because I don’t do acquaintances. I do… “I’ll save your life if you’re in a raging river”… types of friends. I would do anything for them and they would do just about anything for me. These are the plunging off a cliff, Thelma and Louise, kinds of friends.  Frankly, there are not a lot of people I want to risk my life for or go down with at my age. But I am still willing to try to find those kinds of inspiring and fun people and offer them all that I have to give… which is quite a lot.

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There are other reasons I find making friends difficult. Sometimes when you have special needs children with challenges it makes it difficult to make friends. Most people have no clue of all the things you have to do to make your life work. They don’t understand when you have to cancel at the last-minute because of a major meltdown that is occurring ten minutes before you are supposed to meet. And being around others whose children also have challenges can be draining for both people because it seems as if too often you are both drowning at once and just holding on by the thinnest of branches. While things have improved in my household sometimes I feel like past behaviors hold me back because I am unsure when those issues will rear their ugly heads again. It makes me afraid to risk “those” looks and “those” whispers from someone I thought was special only to find that they really aren’t. Sometimes I wonder if that isn’t how my sons with autism feel.

There is also the issue that most women’s lives are so full that they barely have time for the friends they currently have much less making time for someone new in their lives. With old friends you know what you have and how to relate. Most people just don’t have the energy to figure out the quirks of a stranger. And I get all of this. I truly do. But damn, it just means that so many of us are missing out on something that is so good.

But really, I don’t want a lot of friends. I just want a small group of coffee klatching Thursday morning women to hang with. Some 40-60 something gals who won’t try to convert me. Won’t try to change me. And will love me despite all my idiosyncracies.

With all the lonely people out there you would think it wouldn’t be that hard to find but it is. Which makes me thankful for all that I do have in my life. Yet, I am greedy and I want more. Much, much more.

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Complacency

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Throughout almost my entire life I have often taken on what I have “perceived” as injustice. I have fought to change things within the school system for my kids.I have tried to protect my patient’s autotomy and rights. I have stood alongside like-minded people as we protested for change. I have said the “unpopular” thing that has needed to be said but few wanted to. But all of this concern comes with a price. It extracts a huge part of the stillness and the gentleness that you need to go through life without going crazy.

When I was younger I used to look at older folks and wonder why they had gotten complacent and just accepted the status quo. I swore I would never be like that…but I am becoming that way and frankly I think that I might want to. Because the amount of energy I expend trying to right the wrongs is tremendous and I just can’t afford to do that anymore if I want to stay sane and live a peaceful existence.

This reflection is a result of last night when I attended the annual contract signing meeting for our diving club. Sure it’s a small blip in the scheme of things but I had concerns that the owner was not coaching our children as much as was expected/promised and she is the expert as well as a judge. She knows her stuff but she has a habit of blowing off parental concerns or saying things will change and she is not held accountable so nothing changes. So in the meeting I stated that she had missed at least two rotations of 50% of the practices which caused a big to-do with some of the other parents. We are paying a lot of money for these lessons and I want to be sure that what is promised is actually being delivered…which it is not.

Needless to say, I went home totally stressed and disappointed. Some of the parents who felt the same way did not have my back like promised. Sadly, in the end I accomplished nothing and pissed off some people because they are YES men to the owner of the club. And of course there is the unspoken feeling that if you say something it will effect your child’s coaching.  SIGH.

Last night I didn’t sleep well. I tossed and turned for hours and I woke up feeling stressed and unhappy that I took on something that needed to be said but will be paying a price for it.  My peace of mind is disrupted and the “happy place” I have been cultivating inside me for the past year feels anything but. And if I am honest, when I look back the amount of time I have spent fighting the “system,” whatever it may be, has most often not produced the results I had hoped for. And so I have concluded that I must stop fighting the fight because it is so disruptive to my own soul.

I would like to think that despite all of this I will do the right thing if called upon. I think we all do. We like to imagine that we would be the ones hiding our fellow Jewish citizens in our attics should the need arise. But yet, I have to wonder if complacency in the small areas of life soon reach into the larger and more important ones. I wonder too if complacency makes us lazy, afraid, and unwilling to risk our own comfort for a greater and far more important purpose; if it becomes our new a comfortable norm.

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And so today, I am leaning towards incorporating complacency in my life which essentially to me means putting my comfort ahead of everything else and sticking my head in the sand.  It means not rocking the boat, not championing a cause and not trying to fix things. For it appears to me that if you want to cultivate some sort of inner peace you can not do these things.

Frankly, complacency scares and disappoints me, but at my age, unfortunately, so does the fight.

 

 

 

 

Halloween Hooters

Sigh. Today I was invited to a Halloween party. Usually I wait to the last minute to get a costume and as  result I get to choose between two: this and that.

But this year I am getting a jump on things. I’m shopping early and there are so many choices when you don’t wait until October 30th to find something to wear.

In case you haven’t guessed, I am not a big fan of Halloween. I don’t like dressing up in funny costumes. I don’t like slogging my way through drunken people with sharp tails and dull wit, being haunted by Casper the Ghost, and smelly vampires who are dressed as blood-sucking politicians. I also don’t like the fact that evil is personified in the face of an 8 yo slasher who comes to my door. But what I really distain is the fact that woman are objectified no matter what the costume is. Frankly, I don’t know if I am just jealous that I will never look like these women again or if it really does offend the feminist in me. For instance take a look at these halloween designs.

Now, I don’t know about you but the history books I was taught from stated that pirates had scurvy, rickets, no teeth, poor hygiene and lice. Lots of them. And frankly, I don’t know how these poor pirates would make it out on the high seas with such skimpy clothing. Looks like a guarantee for deathbed pneumonia and burial at sea to me.

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I suspect that B would like this one and what man wouldn’t?

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Having a woman grant your every wish followed by a wide eyed “Yes Master” is probably every man’s dream.Of course, this also encourages that harem/polygamist idea that has been  floating around in the back of their heads since they were six too. But frankly, if Jeannie is suppose to represent a Middle Eastern woman she needs to put on more clothes.

The Angel vs. the Devil on my shoulder thing seems to be another men’s fantasy.

 

And one can easily see why they are such popular characters. I don’t know what Bible the designers are reading but it certianly isn’t the King James. Yet, the most gruesome thing of all about these particular costumes is being forced to wear 7 inch heels to a Halloween party…now that is just worse than burning in hell!

I have recently noticed the candy bar costume has come into vogue. The first thing I will say is that she looks like a Mounds Bar not a Snickers. But what bothers me more is that this is obviously the kind of outfit should come with a warning that every leering weirdo guy will hit on you uttering the words “I enjoy eating snickers” as a part of them melts while imagining that they are removing your chocolate coating.

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I also have a problem with the action figure costumes. While Wonder Woman may be able to get the job done I suspect it would be twice as hard when you are having to constantly worry if your nipples are showing and pulling up your bustier between punches. And the cape? Well, it isn’t made of ermine to keep you warm as you are flying through the night sky. And how does she avoid gigantic goosebumps when being photographed in the middle of New York in 32 degree weather?

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Next up…the animal costumes.

 

Okay, as far as I know all of these creatures can give you rabies. That’s bad enough but that zebra tail looks like something out of an S&M show. That rabies/S&M combo seems just as terrifying as ebola. Cat’s or bummies are both very soft and furry…the benefit of wearing these…I don’t have to shave for several months.

I know there are many men who think that women look good in a uniform and these certainly don’t disappoint. I suspect if the Armed Services used these woman as recruiting tools that we would have an overflow of dedicated new soldiers.

Of course there are always those in the SERVICE industry. I tell you what, if all the hospital nurses looked like that they would be filled to capacity (the hospitals that is)

Yes, Halloween costumes for women this year look like what you would wear to a masquarade ball at a sex club. So I decided to take a gander at the men’s dress up gear.

 

Appears that they only have the penis costume which comes in large and larger. I like costume this because it makes it easy to spot the biggest dick in the room very easily and steer clear.

Which leads me to the costume I have picked out. It seems appropriate for a 55 year old woman…not to frilly, not too fancy, it comes in a very slimming color and I don’t have to wear heels or panties!

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Blessings In Daily Life

As I contemplate my life with or without B I have come to the realization that there are several things in my middle age that I am striving to recognize and hold onto in one form or another. These are the things that are important to me and I am learning to value them even more as I age. They are also what bring meaning and blessings to my life and I want to experience them with eyes wide open and appreciate the richness they add to my spirit.

The things I want to have/experience on a daily basis are: Peace, Acceptance, Connectedness, Joy and Love.

Peace-I want peace in my heart meaning a satisfied and content heart.  I want a peaceful life meaning tranquility rules the roost with harmony following close behind. Peace that is a quiet and calm state of mind no matter what chaos is swirling around you. This also means having to practice patience in order to achieve it along with Sitting In The Silence.

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Acceptance- Acceptance is probably best said in this way:

God grant me the serenity
To accept the things I cannot change;
Courage to change the things I can;
And wisdom to know the difference.

It is also accepting my children’s autism and loving them for who they are. Accepting myself in a deeper and more true way. It is being accepted for who I am in my relationship with my spouse sexually, mentally and spiritually. It is just accepting the day for what it brings me and not always trying to change things about it.

 

Connectedness- that feeling that the bonds you have with others are real, meaningful and as valuable to you as they are to them.  It’s a feeling of coming together and being absorbed in all that we share and all we are doing. Its being vitally and mindfully in touch intellectually, in spirit, and in presence.  Its a form of oneness.

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Joy- I want to find joy in the journey…all of it. I want those fleeting moments of joy like the birth and a child to become more common place and easier to experience…like smelling a rose, watching your kids play soccer, and watching the moon rise on a hot summers day. Joy a feeling of great pleasure and happiness, and even more important, it is allowing ourselves to recognize and appreciate how good things really are on a daily basis.

Love- Probably the hardest to define but I certainly know that it encompasses and transforms joy, acceptance, connectedness and peace into something knowable and something better than when they are on their own. Its adoring, cherishing, infatuation, devotedness, and attachment too. Love is a many splendid thing…and much, much,more.

 

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These are the blessings of life and if we allow ourselves to recognize them we will see them at work each and every day. I am greedy for more.

 

 

Fences- A Positive Post

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Yesterday Paul needed to get some service hours in for Scouts. He elected to paint the fence at our church. It was hot and the fence sat square in the path of the intense rays of the scorching sun. Six hours spent working in the sun is difficult for anyone but even more so for a young autistic teenage boy with no previous painting experience. Fortunately, one of the older members of our congregation (R) was there to provide guidance and cheer him on.

I love it when old and young connect. There is something almost magical that happens when wisdom meets youth. Learning occurs in an unstructured setting and life’s lessons are conveyed easily. More importantly, both parties share those things that are important to them and greater understanding of the world and each other is obtained by both.

When he arrived home Paul was stoked and could hardly wait to tell me about his afternoon. But it wasn’t the fence he talked about. It was the connection that he made that mattered the most to him.

“Did you know that R served in the Korean War?” my sweet Korean boy asked.

“I had no idea,” I replied.

And so Paul sat with me and excitedly told me all that R had shared with him. Things about the war, what the country of Paul’s birth looked like back then, and how his life had changed because of his service. They also talked about what boys did growing up in the 40’s, how times have become more complicated and R’s ideas about the important things in life. But most of all Paul gained a friend. A man who could teach and discuss without being parental. A person with whom Paul could relate his troubles regarding peers in school and his concerns for the world as he navigates becoming a young adult.

It’s funny how sometimes in doing things for others you gain something special and totally unexpected for yourself.  This weekend Paul learned from R the value of a friendship with someone older and wiser than himself. He learned to share problems and issues and listen to good advice in return. And more than just learning about how to paint fences he was also taught how to mend a few too.

 

 

 

 

Significant Moments In Our Lives

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Sometimes I wonder if it is really true that we can count the exact moments something truly significant happens in our lives. I know in my life this appears to be true. Those moments for me seem to revolve around loss, death, birth (or seeing my children’s faces for the first time and knowing they were meant to be a part of our family) and really intense conversations such as when B said he may want a divorce. They are moments in which I can still recount conversations, almost word for word, and the feelings that accompanied those exchanges. I remember the smells, the background noise, and the stillness of the air as the force of the words hit me; sometimes driving me downward and sometimes making me soar. Pain and joy are what I have found at these times; usually one or the other but rarely both.

I have come to understand that we recognize these momentous moments because they seem to have a life of their own, rising up to meet us, with the force of a tsunami, and we have no choice but to acknowledge their arrival. For me, recognition has often come in the form of  a swift deep ache in the pit on my stomach which threatened to drop me to my knees.It can happen with a look or with the first word. I can count on both hands those moments which sent a shiver up my spine which then exploded into my brain. A realization that something was about to change because of what I was experiencing or witnessing right before my own eyes and the fear that often accompanied it.

Yet, as I have aged I have also come to see that sometimes we only recognize the significance of these momentous moments later on down the line in our lives. Those for me are the hardest…these later recognitions because often I think I would have chosen to do things differently or respond in a different manner if I had understood how life altering that space in time would become later on. This recognition is making me examine how I respond to things NOW so I don’t miss those really important and few chances that we have to step on a different path in the future because of how we behave in those moments of the here and now.

Sometimes I wonder if it would be better or worse to have more of these momentous moments. Would they come mundane if they were to occur more often? Would we fail to feel that deep love or sense of failure if these occasions showed up in our lives too often? Would we forget that sense of appreciation? And if these moments only happened once in our lives would we always wonder if THIS WAS THAT MOMENT and never just live in the moment? Would we feel a sense of disappointment if that was all there was and we knew there were no more possibilities for these moments to occur?

I don’t have the answers to these questions but this I know…that whether we look for these moments or not and whether we recognize them for what they are; they are the moments that invite us to change if we just have the courage to do so. How we respond is up to us and so is what we take away from these times. We have the power to make these moments whatever we choose and we also know that because life is fluid how we view them in the future may be quite different than in the past. And lets hope that we give them the attention they so deserve.

Copyright CLD 4/4/16