Archives for category: Contemplation

autumn leaves

I am feeling a little sad today. It usually happens at this time of year, just before autumn. I have noticed the light, shadows and length. The leaves are turning that deep green shade before erupting into colors. And, the vegetable garden is desperately pushing product despite much cooler temps this August. It’s a last hurrah before the transition into dormancy.

It also is the time of year that my best friend revealed to me that her cancer had returned. We sat on her couch holding hands and crying. It was the unspoken moment of knowing that her life on this planet was short.

I remember the afternoon light was less vivid for a summer’s day. The lace curtains, almost still, betrayed a periodic breeze. And, a dragonfly hovered close to the window screen. It is a moment that is firmly etched in my mind. We sat together like that for a long time. Words just failed us.

It has been ten years yet my sadness occurs with the persistence of the seasons. And, I still miss her.

We grew up together and she had the status of soul sister. We had families and lived close enough to share our lives. I always felt as if she would be there to listen, to care and to laugh. We joked about retiring together to a nursing home because our husbands would statistically predeceased us. We planned on sitting in rocking chairs, cats draped on our laps, we wearing shiny earrings and ill applied lipstick. It was supposed to be a long time away.

But, like most things in life, stuff happens but not as we have planned.

I recently visited with one of her daughters. She bears a remarkable resemblance to her mother. It was as if I was there with my dear friend, chatting and laughing.

It was bittersweet.

Venn Diagram Truth Table

Venn Diagram Truth Table

In the past, I would do almost anything to save a relationship … even one that wasn’t in my best interest. Until, I realized how much that “bad” relationship cost me personally. How many tears, disappointments, rejections and dismissals. It all adds up to character development and a greater experience of life lessons.

That’s a nice way of saying that you learn about life from stuff that was painful.

Relationships work best when similar needs and wants intersect. Pairing a pirate with a nun is probably not going to produce a harmonious arrangement of intersecting points.

And over the last decade, I have learned that salvaging is intense. Building is easy.

What’s the Difference?

Salvaging is picking up the pieces, the dregs of what once was. Building creates form and function from anew.

Back Story: A long time ago, I bought a house built from salvaged materials. The original house was almost done with construction when a fire broke out. The builder, not having enough cash to rebuild from scratch (the house wasn’t insured because it wasn’t completed), salvaged and scrimped to get the house rebuilt. He did some interesting things that would never work in today’s building code but we are talking about sixty years ago.

The house wasn’t plumb. No corner was square. The load bearing beam had lally columns (I could go on). You get the picture? The house was pieced together with parts that didn’t fit.

The original construction did fit.

Trying to salvage a relationship based on broken pieces or parts that don’t mesh is doomed. Like the pirate and nun example, there are probably no intersecting parts. Why waste time salvaging when building new is more satisfying and will lead to better relationships?

The Big Question

You always have a choice. The question is “Can you walk away?” Will salvaging get you want you want? Or will building something new work for you? There is a price difference. How much are you willing to pay?

IMAG0539

My daughter recently sent me a link to a post about Eileen Fisher designs and how that relationship of style (or no style for some critics) and a series of life long impressions connect together for something larger than fashion. It’s here for you to read and enjoy.

My daughter wrote, “It reminds me of you.”

I am delighted in a misty kind of emotional way. Somehow in all those days when my daughter was a little girl, her impression of me revolved around my personal taste and style. My deep attention to black, shades of grey and off white accents somehow touched a familiar place for her growing up with my wardrobe choices. I sense there was comfort in those remembrances.

I suspect I have influenced her greatly in many other ways … more important ways like living with integrity, cultivating personal satisfaction, and exhibiting empathy for others. But what keeps returning to me in conversations with my daughter is how I presented myself to the world.

A capable woman.

A woman dressed in Eileen Fisher.

thanksgiving-turkey-dinner

(Photo courtesy Delish.com)

We are nearing the great feast of Thanksgiving. What does it mean for you? Family? Friends? Football? Parades? A day off?

Originally, it was a time to celebrate all the abundance we have. The abundance of food. Our initiative and hard work to place that food upon a table. Family and friends to share in that abundance. It was communal and thankful.

It is interesting that the theme of abundance pervades this holiday yet we have made it a hallmark of scarcity. You are probably thinking I am way off the mark with that remark. Scarcity? Hardly. But let’s look at what this bountiful holiday spirit has become.

There are some retailers who have jumped  into Thanksgiving as a prequel to Black Friday. Now, while you eat your turkey, you can check your shopping list. You can load up on carbs to propel you through marathon shopping later in the day. The deals are time limited. You don’t want to miss out on all the SAVINGS.

Scarcity driving fear.

Instead of the holiday spirit of abundance, there is the anxiety of fulfilling that list.  And, who gains? Well, you … you can save big dollars on stuff. Stuff. Things. Wants. What marketers want to sell to you. Big abundance for the marketers.

And what do you lose?

The abundance of time spent with family and friends. The sharing of a meal meant to celebrate the harvest of the year. Something so earthy and genuine you cannot price it. The simple joy of a meal.

Which version will you pick? Abundance or scarcity?

6700482-Portland_Airport_at_Sunset_Tower_Parking_Lots_Portland(Portland Airport at Sunset)

Last night I was rushing from work to get to the local grocery store and then to a cookout. Bam. Bam. Bam. Until I saw one of the most beautiful sunsets stretching over the parking lot. The sky was rosy pink with bits of orange. Just spectacular.

While looking at the sky, I noticed how pleasant the air smelled. I heard the dull drone of traffic from behind a stand of trees. And, because it was an open mall, music was broadcast for the shoppers. I don’t remember the tune.

And then it hit me …

This is like a movie where the main character has an epiphany while the world chugs along uncaring. There was a deep visual quality of the sunset over all the parked cars. And music to help frame the scene.

Here I was in my own movie except it is my life.

It’s like traveling to a foreign land and only looking through the lens of a camera at all the wondrous sights. Taking videos  so you’ll remember how great this moment was without actually experiencing it.

Later when you return to your home, you’ll share your moments. Review them. Savor where you have been. Years later, maybe forget where it was taken.

But were you really there? Has the moment etched into your being on a conscious level or were you just on autopilot saving your “conscious moments” for the really important stuff?

Are you living your life or acting in it?

IMAG0421

Waiting for something to happen is tedious and puts your life in the hands of others. Really. Are you content knowing that someone or something has your life in limbo just because?

Stop being passive in your own destiny. I hear people bemoan and point to other people and circumstances as the reason they lack, didn’t make it, or failed.

Look Inward First 

All the planning in the world won’t do a thing until you move. Until you take that first step. Until you own it. You have everything you need to make the decision to change. But you have to act on that decision. No excuses.

It’s Simple

Once you get that you are the person who decides how you will live, act and speak, then it is simple. Speak your truth. Act your truth.

The Hard Part Is The Introspection

You know what I am talking about. The uncomfortable place where you meet your worst fears. The silent time knowing yourself.  Crying time over loss. Curiosity for what you don’t know. Reassessment of what you value most in life.

Decide today to do something for yourself. Be a participant in the life you breathe. Act every day in a way that supports who you are and mean it.

Do something today. No excuses.

If you don’t see the video, click here .

My daughter sometimes enlightens me like a comet.

We were discussing how I am finally releasing my stuff from storage and going to either sell, donate or trash the possessions that have been sequestered for several years now. I have paid several times over the replacement value for the stuff.

A piano. An old style television container made of wonderful cherry wood. Waterford crystal. Linens. First grade art work. Books. Stuff.

I was struggling with that decision until my daughter recalled a scene from the film “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade“, the one in which Sean Connery plays Indy’s dad. Indiana is attempting to reach the chalice of eternal life while being held from death by his father. Elsa, another character, had just fallen to her death trying to salvage the chalice in the earlier scene.

Sean Connery says, “Indiana, let it go.”  There is a moment of realization that he, Indiana, must give up trying to recover the chalice and save his own life otherwise be doomed like Elsa.

I remembered the scene vividly. The loss of the historic chalice weighed against his own life.

I faced having to let it go … the stuff that has given me a sense of history. The life I used to have decades ago. It is an anchor to my past. But, like an anchor, you can’t really go anywhere. Never venturing that far from the anchor’s circle.

I don’t want that.

Where in your life do you have to “Let It Go”? Are you circling the same territory? Stuck in the same water, never setting sail?

Time to let it go?

IMAG0404

Even though it’s only 58 degrees F, I ran around the house this morning and opened the windows. Open windows mean I can hear birds, leaves rustle,and the general noises of the city. It’s comforting. It’s a connection.

Never a fan of air conditioning (although I will admit that in certain parts of the world it is necessary), I have spent decades in climate controlled environments. Insulated from the world outside. Kept mildly chilled. Like a wine cellar.

All the internal distractions were human/machine generated. Interruptions by co-workers, whirring of copier machines, clicking of keyboards in use, phones ringing, people speaking loudly. But when you work alone, the solitary work of writing, where is your controlled environment?

The writer’s office is a portable venue. The hum of humanity at a coffee shop fills the void with the activity of a faux connection with people. Writing outside has a serenade of creatures in the trees, insects in the grass, the sounds of life.

Maybe the dead silence of nothing is unnerving to the creative process. That distractions actually spur the creative thought process.

I wonder what did Michelangelo’s studio sound like? Was it the sound of chipping stone that created a brilliant backdrop? Did Edison have a constant boiling beaker for a muse? Did the scratch of chalk on a blackboard enlighten Einstein?

What do I need to hear to channel a character’s dialog?

At present, I hear the chirps of a chickadee and the caws of crows. Little else. No other background noise. Will the words erupt?

Where do you do your best writing? What’s your best environment for thought creation?

North Bridge, Concord, MAThere comes a time when death becomes more friendly, almost embracing. My uncle was admitted to a hospice yesterday and doesn’t have much time remaining. The entire transition from being present in life to becoming unaware was a matter of weeks.

The hospice is a subdued environment with welcoming volunteers and medical staff. The gardens are meticulous. The prayer room a place of solitude and solace. There is a noticeable separation from the frantic and directed pace of the living to the quiet and unknowing world of those who are navigating that last journey.

My cousins sit and watch their father die. It’s not a well choreographed event. There are fits and starts. Long pauses of rest. The flat screen tv flickers images that sometime catch attention. It’s a process. An undetermined length of time. Ushering a family member into the next.

And, there are all the memories. The feelings of sorrow and guilt mixed with humor and pain. It’s life. His life. No one should die alone.

Because there is forgiveness. Forgiveness for life’s transgressions. For unpredictable events that shaped other people’s lives. For emotions that tore family ties.

Forgiveness lets you accept and move on with life. To be present with the dying. It’s the grace of being human.

%d bloggers like this: