Statistics, Studies, Realities

This is really absurd. I have written three opening lines for this post, and they all mentioned the weather, even though after the first time, I said, no, I am not talking about the weather. But each time I tried, a weather reference came through my fingers.

But I shall open with the fact that we love Skip’s bagels and omelette. We went there for years before we moved, and continue to return there each time we come back. We bought a dozen to take home and freeze.

Where we live, bagels aren’t the thing. There is one restaurant that has them, but they are not Skip’s bagels.

Do you like bagels? Just curious.

I was thinking about God and hearts and love and friends and disappointing people and accepting some decisions that must be made. Oh, I also thought about a conversation I had with a friend at my grandson’s basketball game.

We chatted back and forth with one eye on each other and the other eye on the game. It was a life discussion. It encompassed many topics, including health and eating and expectations and even death.

Boing. Boing.

She brought up a good point. She is in her early 60s and I was turning 67 the next day. She mentioned that we had both had good runs, full-life runs. And at this point, she really didn’t want to deny herself the pleasure of things she liked. In moderation.

Both of us have gone through breast cancer. She had more advanced case and had to go through so much more than I did. More surgeries and treatments and after-treatments. She is a trooper.

So, she knows of whence she speaks.

So, I have been thinking about things such as, is there ever a point that we throw caution to the wind or say, ok, no matter what others say, this is what I want to do, consequences accepted? Or, simply put, as Ol Blues Eyes crooned, are we going to go out singing, “I did it my way?”

There is living and there is LIVING.

Is length of time the most important part, or is the choice to live the life we desire, more important? Do we live by studies and statistics or by desire, thoughts, and, without other people’s or companies’ guidelines.

Do we live in the statistical grid or go about the life we see in our own mind’s eye?

This might be why I took my sweatshirt off on top of Jellico Mountain.

There is so much data that is massaged and manipulated to try to make us adjust our behavior. Within my life, I can’t tell you how many times studies have been done, exalted and then a few years later, proven to be wrong.

Boing. Boing.

We should do this. We should do that. Studies say that we should do this, statistics say you should do that.

The really came in my face, yesterday, when I watched one of my medical documentaries about Hopkins Medical Center in Baltimore.

A doctor who specialized in cancers in the female organs, who was wonderful, well respected, tops in his field and wonderful with patients, died a few hears after this episode had been filmed. He was 47, out running, and dropped dead from cardiac arrest.

I was gutted when I read that.

I can let things like that stick in my craw. It is more valuable a learning aspect than a study or statistic made up by people, groups or a company or organization, that most likely, has some sort of agenda.

So, my mind goes here and there and I finding myself in mental discussions with myself … and I ask, what is the way? What is the path of life, at this time of my life?

Does the Big Plan of life fade and be replaced by the one day at a time, mantra? One moment at a time? One life in a day?

If I die today, is this that place I want to be? What more do I want from this life that has already been, in time wise, toward the end of its run?

The statistics say that there are years left, but what if today is my last run? Have I done what I wanted and needed to do, said what I have needed and wanted to say?

I have a half smile on my face as I write this. I am smiling at the life I have lived, the questioning look is about the life that has yet to unfold.

Susan

Experience Is Portable

When we moved to my new beloved South, I threw out big box after big box of newspapers and magazines where my articles appeared. It was a virtual history of my world, my life, in writing. It was also a history of my writing timely pieces. I recall the first one published that had national scope, was about Elian Gonzales, the Cuban child who was sent back to Cuba.

Why did I do it … throw them away?

Because, sometimes, the baggage, even accomplishments of your past, must be let go to make room for future growth.

I do have copies of some of the pieces on a computer, but by no meas, all.

My kids didn’t want them. That was a lot of paper. And it was my take on life and not theirs. They are here to tell and write their own stories.

As I went through to lone box in our garage the other day, along with the Stars and Stripes, I found a newspaper artle written about me, not by me. It was from one of my previous lives, you know, a chapter of this one that was long ago.

There was a time when I sculpted people into puppets. Yep. And I do not like puppets. They are a notch beneath clowns. But I used them as a tool.

The firts year that Winterfest at Kings Islan opened, they put out a call for artists and craftspeople to have booths in the Festhaus, where people ate and a show was presented. To this day, if Nick or I hear the song, “Food glorious food,” we groan.

Weird thing happened, they seemed to like my work and invited me. So I sat in the lower level of our trip-level in Mason, and inhaled clay dust and sewed puppet outfits.

That hwole Chritsmas season, from Thanksgiving until New Years, I was at a booth at the Festhaus, schlepping my puppet people.

Because they were unique, the pr man from Kings Island, took a liking to them and had photographers take photos. We became friends and would have lunch for years. He was a good man.

Somehow, Ohio magazine got wind of them and shot theym and they appeared on their cover for unique gifts. There was a blurb about them in Cincinnati magazine, and that is how The Bob Braun show found me. I was then doing workshops with kids, using making puppets, to teach communication skills.

So, I was asked to bring a couple of the kids, make a puppet of Mr. Braun, and appear on the show.

When I told my mom, here comment was, “It s too bad you gained your weight back. That was a real boost. I was 6 ft. tall and weiged 155.

Oh, to weigh 155, again.

I was also asked to make puppets of Robert Taft’s family. He was governor of Ohio. Carl Lindner was another one I was asked to do and Willard Scott was created as Carmen Miranda. That one, I did for the heck of it, sent it to him, and never heard a word.

I didn’t like doing the workshops with kids. I had to haul a lot of stuff. And frankly, teaching a group of kids isn’t my thing. I just couldn’t let them know that. But I am fessing up. I love teaching workshops with adults, especially women.

I remember at sign0ups for the workshop, one mother, a snoot, said, “My boy doesn’t need communication help. He talks all of the time.”

Uh-huh.

Some people don’t understand that communication is more about listening than talking.

Making the puppets went well with my solitary-isn, personality. No, I am not a total lonaer. I am a leader, too, if I am in a group. But I find that that s more perfomance art for me, an energy expender, where creating alone, and being able to learn at my own speed, quickly, is what I like.

I didn’t know all of this at the time. I was young. I didn’t have a clue as to who I was, which made me sort of lost. My energies were spent having and raising children. That, I loved.

My kids, all small at the time, would be given a hunk of clay and they would sit with me and make a puppet head (or creature). They have always know that I was a clayhead.

Bob Braun was very nice to be with. He knew how to do a show and make his scared guest look good. They people in the audience didn’t bother me, but those cameras and lights were something I hadn’t experienced.

My foray into people puppets only lsted a year or so. For me, life has been about learning and practicing and then moving on and taking that experience with me.

Experience, not boxes of newspapers. It travels much lighter.

Susan

Dr Zhivago and 2019

Anyone up yet? The New Year is almost over, so get moving.

Yesterday, I watched a good show about Boris Pasternak, the author of Dr. Zhivago.

It took him 20 years to write the book. The story is incrdible. Life in Russia during his lifetime, was precarious, at best, especially if you were a writer or artist. You wrote what please the party, or you padi the price. Russia, and so many other countries, have had many terrible leaders. Brutal. It still goes on. It has always been a question of mine, why so many leaders of countries, are crazy, and I mean horrifyingly, murdering maniacs.

Dr. Zhivago was quite a bit Pasternak’s life. The Lara character in the book was based on a real person. His lover, mistress and stoic love of his life.

To get at Pasternak, the party went after his lover, tortured her and put her in prison for 4 years. At the time she arrived and was interrogated with brutal tactics, his lover was pregnant. When she was 6 months pregnant, the party told her that she would get to meet with Pasternak.

It was a lie. They took her to a morgue where there were noxious fumes, and made her stay and stand for hours and hours. She believed the took her there because Pasternak was dead, in the morgue.

He wasn’t.

The day after that, at 6 months pregnant, she miscarried.

Word o the prgnancy had gotten to Pasternak.

But his lover was by then, doing hard labor. It wasn’t until a new upheaval in government forces took place, that Pasternak’s lover, was released from prison.

Pasternak thought that he would greet his loer and their child.

That was one of the points when Pasternak decided that in the novel he was working on, he would have to tell the story, the truth, about what went on in that country.

And through it all, Passternak loved his mother country. Earlier on, he could have emigrated to England, with his parents, but he had to stay … for the love of Mother Russia.

The road to publication for Dr. Zhivago, was treacherous. It is a testament to the strong will of many people, that it saw the light of day Government forces worked with all of hteir power, to stop it.

WEll, that is more than I intended to write.

But it might have to do with my mindset this moring when I woke up with a rap in my mind. Not Lin-Manuel Miranda, but it heped me get some juices going this morning, this first day of 2019.

So, don’t laugh. Or, do. That is good, too. But here it is.

Resolution, revolution, dissolution

Young folks dying, old folks crying

What’s the game? You know my name?

Guns a-blazing, life’s amazing

Where’s the hope? It’s dead from dope.

On the corner, another mourner

Flags have staff, That’s no laugh

Deep pockets rule, Man, I’m no fool

Yes, life a mass, y’all kiss my ass

Truth don’t matter, amongst the chatter

Words abused and missed

Used as arrows to kill the sparrows

Truth is dead, killed with lead

Taken from my head

I’m going to go to bed

To dream the dream I used to dream

Where life was fair and grass was green

Illusion, delusion, wishful thinking

Is the world really man’s for the making

Losers weepers finders keepers

Including countries fraught with war

Is this what we’re living for?

We are not enemies, we are not friends

Will this be where this story ends?

Depends, depends it’s time to choose

For there is so much for us to lose

We blame, we shame, we do all we can

My God, my God we diminish man

Can we change this? We can. We can.

A movement can start across this land

Just slow our tongues, thy will be done

To raise civility above liability

And share the love instead of hate

and span hope to the Golden Gate

Resolution, revolution, dissolution

Find solutions

“Schlemiel! Schlemazel! Hasenpfeffer Incorporated!”

“Schlemiel! Schlemazel! Hasenpfeffer Incorporated!”

My granddaughter has a skating costume that has a large, “L” on it. Her synchronized skating team skates to the Laverne and Shirley theme song.

Imagine a group of some 30 or so young girls, in their circle skirts and “L” sweats skating around the rink, in 2018, to the theme song to a show from 1976.

To those of us who were around at that time, you probably sighed and got that oh, no, feeling, when you read that Penny Marshall, Laverne had passed away.

Something is wrong with this system. The system that gives us so much and then swoops in on angel’s wings, and takes life away. It is something I can accept but not get used to.

Penny Marshal fir her names, both Benny and Laverne.

I read that at one point in her career, she was hurt, bummed, because she didn’t get parts because of her look … not your standard Hollywood cutie pie.

She didn’t see how her smile and askewishly real humor, resonated with millions and millions of people.

But she found her fit. She was Laverne, a beer capper in Milwaukee. She was the yin to Shirley’s yang, and they made us laugh. And Squggy and Lenny.

I loved watching them get ready for dates and thinking about dates. I loved their relationship and their apartment. They were real, not some people with unattainable lives.

From what i read, Penny didn’t have a great plan to be a huge actress or director. She just did it. She grew from actress to successful movie director. And she also had her disappointments, things that didn’t turn out as well as she had hoped.

Years ago, I read that she and Carrie Fisher were best of friends and celebrated their birthdays together. I bet they were a hoot together. Both with wry senses of humor,

Carrie is now gone, too. That death also stung.

Isn’t it weird? I didn’t know either of them, but I mourned them. (Good grief, I accidentally typed ‘mounted them’ instead of ‘mourned them.’)

They would have appreciated that typo.

I don’t imagine that any of the young girls on my granddaughter’s synchronized team keen who Penny Marshall was. Maybe they don’t have any idea of what the letter “L” on their sweaters stands for. I don’t know.

As I sit here in my big room, looking out at the grayish silver trees behind my house, glancing at The Boy, sleeping on the couch with his head on a pillow, hearing the heat click on, and knowing I have much to do, today, I have to reset my head from far away mourner, to joyful gift wrapped and Santa helper.

I was glad that Penny lived to be 75, She had had health issues for years, getting lung cancer that had spread to her brain in 2009. The National Enquirer at the checkout counter gave grave warnings about her impending death.

But she showed them.

Ok. I am turning my thoughts around. I am making myself smile to have had the opportunity to laugh along with her and be proud of what she accomplished. She left a formidable legacy, including no a group of young girls who happily skate, wearing Laverne’s signature “L” on their sweaters.

If they only know.

So, for Laverne,let’s give her a rousing …

“Schlemiel! Schlemazel! Hasenpfeffer Incorporated!”

And have a beer.

Susan

Do Not Let Us Fall Into Temptation

When I heard that the pope wanted to change the translation of what I call, “The Lord’s Prayer” and Catholics call the “Our Father” I thought, oh great, let’s monkey with something else.
 
Perhaps it was because, while perusing FB last evening, I saw a post that said that someoneradio stations were pulling the song, “Do You Hear What I Hear?” because it was offensive to schizophrenics.
 
I commented, “is that a joke?”
 
I mentioned it to Nick, and he said, “No, it is no joke.”
 
Good Gucci bags for all.
 
So, I put up the hood on my new Duke sweatshirt and slunk into my recliner.
 
Oh, for the record … now really a Duke fan, but I was freezing while walking through T.J. Max and walked by a bright blue Duke sweatshirt and thought, hum looks like that is warm and it will fit and I grabbed it. Go Blue devils. Whoops. Shouldn’t say that … it has the word ‘devil’ in it.
 
As a writer and as a human with a bit of an attitude aout words, I really dislike certain words being hijacked and pretty much put into political correctness time out.
 
We have become way too sensitive and silly.
 
So, back to the above Our Father.
 
I am not Catholic, so, it really isn’t my business as to what the pope says or what he does. But that doesn’t stop me from observing and being interested in the Catholic Church, as it has held a fascination with me since my upbrining in Norwood.
 
I loved the Catholic churches in Norwood. There were many, each with its own school where kids wore uniforms and got off school for lots of Holy Days and they had great festivals.
 
They were much more exciting than the NPC, Norwood Presbyterian Church. Although the Mama’s cookies and Kool-Aid were good at vacation Bible school, most of the time, being a Presbyterian was rather bland. And don’t get me started on trying to find a runner-free pair of panty hose to wear to church.
 
I have believed, probably naively, that there are certain things that “just are.” Things that you don’t change.
 
That has been a great fallacy in my thinking. I learned that things change. When I was little, I thought certain stores were always “there” and always would be there. It caught me off guard when stores closed or even worse, changed names. Mabely and Carew, McAlpins, Shillitos, and these days, Time Warner, into Spectrum.
 
I dislike rocking my mental hourse in such a way.
 
So, since this is jumping around a bit, let me through in that the sun is out and the skies anre the Carolina Blue and I have gifts to wrap and I need to vacuum.
 
And life is good.
 
Back to the pope.
 
I was ready to tsk, tsk, his idea before I even read what or why. I can do that, you know … think things before I think things.
 
So, I looked up what the pope wanted to do. I was ready with my sarcasm and snickery attitude.
 
And then I read what and why he wanted to change.
 
I agreed with him and saw what he was saying as a positive.
 
It goes baack to words, translations, and words getting lost in translation.
 
“Lead us not into temptation,” was the passage thta the pope thought was not in the vein of what God wanted. Now, who really knows what God wants? Go ahead, argue about that, but it is just a visceral type question.
 
As I sat and said the Lord’s Prayer, which has that same line … and I found that everything else is said in a positive way, one of praise and prayer and was not in an accusatory way. But tht line, “Lead us not into temptation,” according to my understanding of what thepope was trying to convey, makes it sound that God sets us up and waits for us to fall. In truth, if you believe it, that is not the God that is spoken about in the prayer. And don’t we, as humans, set ourselves up for temptation?
 
So, I found that a very good study of the prayer and in my mind, the pope went up a pedestal, in my book.
 
A better way of saying it is, which some French churches have adopted, is, “do not let us fall into temptation.”
 
I like that. Viva La France!
 
After reading that bit and seeing how I had almost tripped myself up with a snarky mindset, I was pleased with myself for doing a bit of maturing, growing and finding my open mind.
 
That was an excellent start to my day.
 
Susan

Seeing The Light

Ho, Ho, Ho,
 
No, I wasn’t calling anyone a name.
 
I was saying that the spirit has risen and is shining in one lit candle and thre fake ones.
 
On my desk, as part of my new enlightenment, I have a lavender oil candle lit. I like to stare at the dancing flame. I find it a marver that, though, we can’t really see the movement in the air, we see a bit of life that shows us that life is there. It is all around us. We just don’t pay attention.
 
I also just blew on my left hand. I felt the breeze, the movement of air. And get this, I just took a piece of heavy paper and fanned it by my face and felt air move.
 
Yep, I am back! Looking at life through any avenue I can take. There is alos a plexiglass container on my desk, that holds The Boy’s treats. I just noticed that there is a reflection of the flame shining on it.
 
Simple, maybe magically simple, explained by science. Yet, it amuses me. It is like being n a cavern and yelling and hearing the echo. This is an echo of light.
 
There were some days this week that I wondered if I would ever look at life as I had before. Those aren’t fun times. Recovery isn’t always easy. It can be work, too. You are told to take it easy, relax, let things go.
 
That can be stressful for me, especially if you have anesthesia brain and are not seeing the forest for the tree sap. Illness and not being in control and having to take medicines that help one thing and mess up another, can wreak havoc on your psyche. Is this the new you? The icky new you? Will you return to the old you, that really had its weirdness, too, or will a new and improved version show up at your door like Mary Poppins, and grow your new life?
 
I have a term for this mental confusion. It isn’t a nice term. It is two words and the first word is cluster. The other one, take your choice of a prime four letter word.
 
So, you try to listen when people say that it takes time and you try not to compare yourself to the 35 year-old guy on YouTube who had an ablation and participated in a race the next weekend.
 
It isn’t that it is “poor me,” … for me it is more like, “Oh, Shitzu,” where do I go from here?
 
And you finally, remember to talk to God and pull pback and stop fighting time and energy and phantoms of imaginary futures that are less than your fancy.
 
“Thank you, God. I am sorry it took me this long to say that.”
 
Silence.
 
“Thank you for the blessings and the people who helped me and, say, (this is in the back of your mind because when you pray and talk to God, you really don’t want to wear your asshat), can you please give me a sign, a sign that says life can at least get back to parts of the way it was?”
 
And then I think, Eh, I was not necessarily in a good place. I was playing Russian Roulette with eating and using my brain more than my body and yep, maybe going back to the old me isn’t the best thing, after all.
 
So then, my boundaries came down and instead of being afraid of the future and looking at this as a permanent position, I breathed deep with my new and improved heartbeat, and gave God time to chew on what I said and to give me that sign. Yep, I sometimes use God as my dumping ground … but usually a bit late in the process … after I have churned things up and made a stew and tried to fix things myself.
 
Sometimes, my name shoud be Half-Ass Backwards.
 
Then like I said, yesterday, I finally got myself quiet enough, took moved my orange collapsible fear canisters andopened my mind and heart.
 
That is when the healing began.
 
I was fighting healing. I didn’t want to put the time, thought and energy into healing. I just wanted to be fixed. But that isn’t how life is. At least, rarely.
 
It can be so easy to look at this moment in time and plant yourself on it and forget about life as a whole, a living breathing organism, like my little flame I am looking at as I type.
 
I am sure glad that God has a bigger plan for me and that I am simply his tool do some good on earth. I can say that if “I ruled the world, it would be better.” But the truth is, if I ruled the world, there would be way too many paintings of weird looking women, words, everywhere, a tidy kitchen but a mess of wars and stupid human stuff that I wouldn’t know how to deal with.
 
The light is not only at the end of the tunnel, but it is right near my face, flickering, warm and kind, saying, “Come on, Susan, let’s dance. You are breathing, life is good. And keep the flame alive.”
 
Susan

All In Good Time

I thought about making up a story about a Finnish Christmas, complete with reindeers and dancing snowflakes and all, but then I started picturing the Flying Monkeys from “The Wizard of Oz,” a movie that scars me to this day, and decided to talk about other things.

This mornng, about 4, soon after Winston came head first onto the bed for his morning moments ot laying with his head on my pillow, I decided to get up and make ssome hot lemon water. I am not doing tea. I am not juge on herbal tea and am staying away from caffeine. I tuened on the hot pot and went through the old bag of lemons … threw out a couple of moldy ones and kept the good ones, then decided to go into the guest room and lie down on the bed.

It is a very quiet room. There was a new blanket that my daughter bought when she was here. I put that over me and thought of her and the kids and grandkids and decided to go into a bit of a relaxation mode. Have good thoughts. Work on it. And enjoy serenity.

There have been so many things that have looked like a scattering of pick-up sticks. Thoughts here, thoughts there, thoughts that didn’t do me any good, which I still think were anesthesia induced, plus fear and unsettledness. Yes, gratitude, too, but that hadn’t been at the forefront.

I was feeling that I was becoming a victim of myself.

I don’t do victim well … or for long.

So, as I lay there, I weeded through the garden in my head. It has gorgeous flowers, spikey weeds and wild flowers that pop up when I least expect them to.

Yes, the reset button was in gear

I figured out what was not working for me in my life, in my thoughts and behavior and habits. And then opened my heart to what could and should take their place. For slots I emptied of residue that just wasn’t cutting it, I fthought of an action or something easy, doable, to replace it.

As I mentioned to my family, of late, I finally know what my breaking point is. In a certain way. The way I have dealt with stress and hard situations , has been to stand strong, get through it, be a warrior.

That is all well and good, but if can also take a toll, if you don’t know how to release it.

So … that is part of my awakening.

It felt good to acknowledge that. The earth didn’t quake. The sun still didn’t come out from the grey. No leopard jumped into our car.

I can’t explain how I will deal with this, but I going to figure it out.

There are some steps I plan to take that will get me where I want to go in terms of health, joy, laughter and engagement. I feel lighter just thinking about it.

This year, I have laid my life into many people’s hands. People have tried to help “fix” me. Through most of it, I didn’t feel broken. I didn’t feel breast cancer. I didn’t get “hurt” in the car wreck. I didn’t have a heart attack. But things were going wrong.

People were there for me. When I think back on how well each of these, plus Nick’s medical problem, went, with people taking our hands and leading us through the medicals system maze, it is very, very life affirming, as far as humands and technology go.

They did their jobs.

And now, it is time for my growth spurt as a human, to begin, again.

It has taken me a while to see that this is a anew beginning. Yes, I see each day as a new beginning, but this is a NEW BEGINING.

It is up to me to write the next chapter of my life … in a new year. Pretty cool, huh?

Here is one for you. I am so into silence. I love peace. I love, love. I love joy. I don’t have time for so much of what is out there and thrown in our faces. I shall choose, more carefully, what I see, hear and read.

I am eso excited about focusing on love, joy, laughter, kindness and good things, that there is nothing but wonder ahead of me.

Oh yes, the shitzu will no doubt fall and I will find myself having to make choices about how will I react. What happens might not be up to me, but my reaction is. And that is what I will work on.

Time, has to be only of this moment. It can’t be projected or controlled or sat upon. I have to keep that in mind.

And frankly, I am glad I don’t have an IV stuck in the back of my hands.

It will be fine. It will all be fine.

Susan

To Be or To Do? That Is The Question

The word for today is peristalsis. That came to mind about 4:30 this morning. I decided that I like the movement of the word, which is similar to its function.

Rejoice. Hallelujah!

Our internal glory, our place of joy, enlightenment and growth sometimes gets lost in the whiskers of life, changes and problems.

There are times when reassessment is in order … when things shift and what was … now, isn’t.

One of the interesting things about life, that I have found, is that not once in our lives, does time stop. Oh, yes, it seems to stand still, of we wish we could hold a moment in time, but we can’t. Time moves.

Our lives move, too. From birth until death.

Some humans work at planning their lives. One of our earliest forays into conversation is when someone asked us, as a child, “What do you want to BE when you grow up?

Another version of the question is “What do you want to DO when you grow up?

To a young mind, those questions seem the same. As children, I didn’t distinguish the two questions.

But now, I see them as very different. One is occupational and the other is our soul, beliefs, values and, well, who we are.

After having a lifetime of professions and titles for what I “do”, the stage I am in and on, is an extension of the question “What do you want to be?”

It has morphed into who I have become.

Many of the things I have done, occupation-wise, study-wise, experience-wise ,by choice or demand, has evolved into who I have become.

An interesting thought to me is that one of my occupations, took hold so much and gelled so deeply into me, that it actually has braided over to be part of who I have become.

Writer.

There have been times when I have struggled. Just being, and being who I am, I felt, wasn’t enough. Simply being myself, without “doing” wasn’t enough.

I should do this. I should do that. Perpetual motion of the mind, placing more value on the what I do, versus who I am. Maybe it is or was an earning my keep thing. Perhaps it is societal rumblings and expectations. I have often felt that I needed to earn my right to life.

I look at the walls of my house, the art, the things that are around me and I see many things I have done.

In a way, they are me. But in a way, I can separate myself from them and not really recall making them.

When I think back to my occupations, the days I was in the workplace, I was never any of those occupations. They were skills. I did them to the best of my abilities for you I was at the time, but none of the occupations was me. Marketing director, sculptor, real estate broker, software company CEO, workshop teacher, etc … I did them all, but they weren’t me. With each, there came a point when I said, no more.

But in each one, I learned and what I learned, I put through a sieve, and brought onboard the parts that I would build into who I have become.

Why do these thought matter to me, now?

Because once again, the last four months or so, my life has taken unexpected turns.

Years ago, when I was in real estate, a friend who had gotten into the business because I had, dais, in a very distressed and exasperated way, “Why are there always so many problems?”

I laughed, looked at her and said … “That is wat we are paid to do … solve problems.”

She said that from that moment on, she got it.

And then, she quit.

That knowledge, that nugget, that life is often about solving problems, and releasing those you can’t solve, to a higher power, is something that plays out over and over. And I have to remember that when my blueberry basket gets tipped over.

There are times, such as recently, when I have had to dive under water with my eyes open, and do the breast stroke. I might not see clearly, but I must do it.

As humans, we often have to swim through uncharted emotional, fearful, uncertain waters. But in doing so, our muscles get stronger. We become stronger than we knew we could become.

After initial shock and a bit of flailing, I find that I get in a rhythm. The opposing currents subside andI get in a flow of the new and strange. And for a while, I have a new normal.

The new normal rarely lasts. Even life doesn’t last. But the ride, this wonderful ride, with its twists and turns and earthquakes and whirlwinds, when there are days that we wonder how we will get through, and times we wish would last for ever, is a real trip.

And for that, I say, Rejoice! Hallelujah!

Susan

La Ploop

It is a mountain morning here in Clover. Cool, clear and chipper.

The backyard and outside are inviting. If I try, I can imagine that I am in Cades Cove, one of my special places. It would be nice to be there, but I am content with being here. Today, I don’t want to run away from myself.

The birds are skirmishing and I want to tell them to settle down, things will be all right. They might not be what you expect or desire, but they will be fine.

Yes, both feet are under me. The darkness of recent events with Nick have passed. Other situations are still in flux, but they will have to figure themselves out without me sorting them out. I have tried, trust me, but it is time to step back and return to my own life and things that I can control.

Good Grumpy Old Men, I can sound like I am picking lint out of navels.

Life involves a certain degree of naval lint plucking, doesn’t it? You feel washed by other people’s problems and forget things like boundaries and the fact that each person makes his or her own decisions.

Living other people’s lives is exhausting. Sometimes, I have to figure out the difference between support and enabling.

Winston was looking for his buddy, Tucker, when I took him out. Tucker’s mom stepped in and took care of The Boy, when Nick decided on joy-riding in an ambulance and partaking of hospital cuisine.

I have wonderful neighbors. Thought I felt alone last Friday, yes, a week ago, today, I found out that that we weren’t. Offers to help day or night, have been givenIt made me feel so much better. Several delicious dinners have been provided. And words of comfort have flowed.

The leaves on the trees have stilled and the birds are quiet. That makes my thoughts go in a different direction.

The Boy has come out to the porch with his tennis ball. Now he is staring at me.

We are just being.

I read Brad Pitt was having a heck of a time with Angelina Jolie and I read that Ben Affleck stopped at Jack in the Box on his way to rehab. Dennis Shield, Bethenny Frankel’s on again off again boyfriend died of a drug overdose a couple of weeks ago.

Messy lives. Money. No money. Fame. No fame. Money. No money. Hearts are broken at all levels. Bad decisions are made. People treat people they love or loved, like shit.

There really is no figuring life out, is there? As soon as we think aha, something happens and we, say, “What the hollandaise?”

OH, there is Mr. Woodpecker. He excites me. And there he goes. Skittish. Must have had an emergency on his branch.

It is a random thought, but I hope I don’t outlive my mind.

I am trying to decide whether to give people who brought us dinner and sent treats, my homemade sals or chili sauce. I know they will get a card with one of my paintings.

Back to my neighbors. As you can imagine, Nick and I miss a lot of parties and things because he doesn’t feel real chipper. I think people understand that. But even though we aren’t able to make a lot of things, they make us feel that our presence is missed, and I think that is lovely.

There are 3 goldfinches at the feeder. Nick just came out to sit. And he left.

You know what got me though the last few days?

The little things. My hot tea. Checking my propagation bins. Figuring out where to move which plant to get better light. Dead-heading some flowers. Talking to my neighbors and seeing their eyes full of concern. Knowing that the kids are back in their own lives. Having lunch with my daughter-in-law and laughing about stupid stuff.

Yesterday, I made myself laugh. I decided, after listening to a French song, that French people don’t poop. The ploop. I must go la ploop. And eat a baguette.

My toes have straightened themselves out. For the time being. Oh, ploop, the ugly birds arrived in a group.

But I clapped and they are gone.

A week ago, I thought that life as I knew it had ended.

I love it whenI am wrong.

Susan

For The Love Of Writing

 

Just as there is a life cycle for a flower, in the public eye, or in the minds of some people, there is a time when people should exit the stage, leave, go fishing, take a hike.

Having written for going on 25 years, I am probably, one of those people who might have past their expiration date, as far as a reading audience goes.

I have thought about that, a lot, recently. Should I hang up my fingers and brain and words and exit the writing world, stage left? Are readers bored with me? Have I said everything ad nauseous?  Have I told stories over and over and over?

Probably.

Even as of yesterday, I mentioned to Nick, I think I am past my expiration date. I got off of Facebook for a purpose. Many people read my words and wrote that they enjoyed them. But that does not mean that they will follow you, stay with you, search you out, if you move from their comfort or energy zone.

That is humbling. But I also know that that is just people. Life is busy and priorities set in and lives take different directions. My life moths along. I move from different necceary duties and work and move on with new interest.

But writin. Writing and photography,  have never abandoned me. Readers might disappear, publications I have written for have come and gone and changed and love fresh voices of a new generation.

I noticed the shift after 9-11. There was a seismic shift then and with the market kefuffle in 2008.. For a while, I changed with the market. I found publications for my work.

Then I developed a nice following of readers on my FB blog. But FB bothers me. I love it and hate it. It has good technology that is often used in a less than forthright way. Politically, and otherwise. So, jut as I am independent politically, I decided to write independently.

There are more formatting options. It is mine. and that is nice.

All of that being said, what I am learning from this little venture, is that the bottom line is … independent of whether a large number of people read my words, or only a few, I love to write. It really is a spiritual thing for me. Though I have retreated. Somewhat. From a busy life, to one of gardening, nature and nurturing in a smaller way, writing makes me feel alive. It is how I sort my thoughts and let the world know that I have been here, I have learned, done some things well and screwed up othert things, and that is all part of the life I have built.

It really is a joy to touch people in some way, to strike a note of life that rings true, or is absurd, or cracks people up.

In this world of marketing, social media, LIKES, SUBCRIBES, and GOOGLE ANALYTICS, sometimes the point gets lost in my head. Not everyething can be measured in numbers. If one person reads and it affects them, it is worth it. And if I write for myself, it is worth it, too.

I am still learning to figure out life and how to live in this technology driven, results oriented, society.

But as long as the birds fly, butterflies have magic wings and the preying mantis visit, you will find me working in my garden, finding love in some aspect, everyday, and sipping tea ,,, I will write and take photographs that bring me joy. Sharing it is just a bonus.

Susan