Things That Go Green In The Night

All Who Wander Are Not Lost

I suppose you know you’re a true fanatic when you find yourself outside at 5 a.m. watering and talking to the Mother of Thousands, who – quite synchronistically – has (finally) found “her” place in the garden.  And because she’s home, she thrives.

Ever since I’ve been on my own (it was 1976, after hastily marrying a professional surfer with a penchant for women, waves and weed), I’ve always had something green  to tend to.

In those early years, it was Pothos, Spider Plants and Wandering Jews in hand-thrown pots and beaded macrame hangers.  They could be found hanging in the bathroom, kitchen or – if I was lucky – outside on the patio.

It also wasn’t unusual to find weed growing in one of those same spaces, only minus the macrame.  I can still smell the buds, red haired and stinking up the air.

Yum.

As I matured and my home (along with my family) became a little larger, there were simple outdoor plants to care for:  A 50- year-old Camilla, rambling white roses along a fence, or a few pretty annuals.  Fortunately , watering and  the occasional trim is always enough to keep a low maintenance yard looking nice.  And a nice looking yard makes me happy.

Finding my Happy Place out in nature isn’t something unusual.  There are hundreds of thousands – millions! – of us out there.  We recognize each other by the slight green tinge to our fingers and a bit of dirt under a nail we missed.  People garden for all kinds of reasons and I do so for many.  One of the important ones? I hear God in the Garden.

With the sun warming my back,  perhaps on my knees bent over something in my hands, I often hear that Still Small Voice – the voice of the Divine.

I heard it again this morning as I was futzing in the yard.  I find myself instinctively in a “Spring Cleaning Mode” these days, even though we are well into Fall.  Oh, how I love this time of year.  It at once energizes me and breaks my heart – in a good way.  For some reason, I am particularly tender this time of year.  Things move me. And with the Season of Thanksgiving almost upon us, I find myself breaking out in spontaneous bouts of gratitude…many times, with tears streaming down my cheeks.  2017 has shaped up to be an amazing year, albeit not without it’s challenges.  I’ve experienced SO many answered prayers.  Prayers about the important things like faith, family, connection and healing.

This is also a season of LETTING GO.  And THAT is what the Voice was talking about.

I quit my job yesterday.  I’ve been there 6 months and just simply couldn’t bear it a moment longer.  This morning I woke up free from the pain and discomfort I’ve had in my head and neck for weeks.  It’s just GONE.   SO not a coincidence.  And the symbology isn’t missed.  That job has been a pain in my neck for months.  Thankfully, through an amazing set of  circumstances, it is over and I’m yet again amazed at the wisdom held in the soft animal of my body.  She KNOWS, intuitively and intelligently, what is best for me.  She speaks to me in pain and peace.  Her wisdom is true.

Not only am I pain free, but I can’t wipe the smile off my face.  PEACE  flows through my veins like a river, and joy bubbles up like a spring.   It’s a time for me to be (re)planted at home, tending my family and my garden, waiting for the New Great Adventure to arrive.  Like my Mother of Thousands plants, all it took was a SHIFT to different location to begin to thrive.

With a sigh of relief and a heart in overflow, I can say with all certainty…..

It is well with my Soul.

Serendipity Sunday

Life is full of magical moments and little synchronicities.

Several happened to me last week and many of them related to my cookbook project.  This might have been the coolest.

It’s been a long standing habit of mine to check two pages of any devotional book before buying it.  Well, I bought one this week based solely on serendipity.

This first photo is from a chapter I wrote back in the Spring entitled, “The Well Stocked Kitchen”.

A Well Stocked Pantry

Now this one:  A page from a little devotional book I picked up last week at the Good Will entitled, “A Grand New Day”.   It’s the page from my birthday, March 30th.

I’m still grinning ear to ear.

Happy Serendipity Sunday to you.

True Confessions of a Terrible Blogger

20150613_112004_resizedI’m a terrible blogger.

Long gone are the days when I would write a daily post, and then go around checking on all my blog “friends”, commenting here and there and interacting along the way.

When I first started blogging back in 2004 or so, it was a whole ‘nuther world.  Blogging itself was a relatively new phenom.  This was in the days before “Smart Phones” and tablets, social media and “monetizing”.

Before the “Like” button.

Sure, the platforms themselves were pretty rustic compared to all the bells and whistles available today.  We had a small handful of options for templates and such.  Corporate websites weren’t yet using a blog as a generic marketing tool.  “Click bait” would’ve been mistaken for some sort of fishing apparatus. But oh, those were great blog times.  I sometimes miss them in the middle of the night.

These days, I “think” about writing here far more often than I actually do.  One reason (the main reason) is, I’ve lost the plot. I don’t know what my motivation is….the whole “WHY” of it.

I’m not an “expert” on anything.  I haven’t any earth shattering wisdom to impart, a book to promote,  or a service or product to sell.

I have no interest in trying to be “someone”, or garner an adoring crowd (well, actually, that part sounds pretty good.  haha!)

So why write here?  What is it that keeps me coming back (albeit sporadically), year after year, even after weeks and months of being MIA?

It’s simple, really. I long to connect.  To reach out and touch someone and maybe, if I’m lucky, have them touch back.  To write something and have someone say, “Hey, me, too!” or “I totally get you!”

Being “get” cannot be rated highly enough.

One of the most unexpected developments of having been diagnosed with breast cancer almost 2 years ago was how it would impact my relationships.  I’ve written reams about it in my journal, and mentioned it briefly here (I think….)  And I suppose much of the changes stem from how the news – and the treatment journey itself – impacted me.

Unless you’ve walked a mile in the shoes of someone who’s been told they have the Big C, it’s hard to understand, even if you are close to someone who has or is going through it.  See, you can’t be in their head.  You aren’t there in those dark, solitary, sleepless hours in the middle of the night with your thoughts running amuck.  Hell, even my own family doesn’t know some of the stuff I had to deal with – emotionally and physically – because I didn’t want to burden them any more than they already had to deal with.  I still don’t.

Long story short, and not surprisingly, I’m not the same person I was 2 years ago.  For example, I’ve essentially ditched the New Thought/New Age/Alternative spirituality stuff I had been practicing for a decade or so.  I found that 97% of it was pretty useless when it came to dealing with the diagnosis.  My beliefs were tried by fire.  I am, most assuredly, a Jesus person again.  NOT a fundamentalist.  You can’t “unknow” or “unexperience” certain things.  I love and support my gay friends and the LGBT community at large.  I still swear up a storm and I don’t go to church (although, if I could find one where I “fit in”, I would go in a heartbeat).  I still believe in the Feminine Face of God, and the Mystery of the spiritual realm.

Physically, I’ve changed, too.  I don’t have long dyed hair and acrylic nails any more.  My face is different….a little more battle-scarred and war-weary.  And my wardrobe.  Ugh!  After being away from the corporate environ for this long, and after going from 2 incomes to 1, well, the word “limited” comes to mind.

Hell, some days I don’t even put makeup on except maybe my eyebrows.  They are a MUST HAVE, if I want to avoid looking rather alien.  I didn’t have much before and, after chemo, things didn’t improve.  At least I got my lashes back.  Mostly.

Another big change is how I spend my days.  I am, by and large, living the life of a retiree – even with my part-time bookkeeping job (which, as it turns out, is VERY part-time).  My days are spent doing mundane “housewife” things like cooking and laundry and cleaning.  I actually don’t mind that, interestingly enough.  And I have plenty of time (if not money) to do the crafts and classes that I enjoy.

I never did relate to the “cancer survivor” meme, even though – technically – I am one.  Never joined a support group and don’t have a single piece of pink-ribboned paraphernalia.  Going through breast cancer was more like going through an ugly divorce or a death or some other trauma. I am doing what I can to put “that phase” of my life in the past as much as possible considering it was – well – cancer.

So I didn’t come out of that phase with a tribe of “sisters”, even though I was told I would.  In fact, some friends have drifted off into the sunset.  Why?  I dunno…Changing interests or lifestyles, maybe?  Some of that is to be expected, I suppose.  In July 2015, when my BFF broke up with me  after my 2nd round of chemo (and right after I shaved my head), I had a big wake up call.  Another one, I should say.  It was the understanding that some people can’t handle the tough times…the really tough times.  Times involving a drastic change in availability, or appearance or energy.

Times of facing one’s own mortality.

My friendships have undergone a serious pruning.  In spite of that, the relationships I have with myself, the God of my understanding, my husband and my children are all stronger than ever.  I’ve made a few new acquaintances and friends along the way, although no one (yet) to fill those BFF shoes. But I appreciate these women when we spend time together.  We laugh and have fun as we get to know each other better.

But in my heart I believe there is one special woman out there.  One who is also looking for me, wanting the same sort of “sisterfriend” relationship I want.  Someone like-minded and enjoys the same things.  A woman who  makes the best of things and lives life  – every day – to the fullest.  She’ll be down to earth with a good head on her shoulders and a smartass remark on her lips. And we’ll laugh our asses off, A LOT, even when we’re crying.  It’s just a matter of time before we are connected.

CONNECTED.

Connection.  That feeling you get when you know someone is there for you, and you for them, during good times or bad, happy times or sad.  When the people involved experience the strength and comfort that comes from doing life together vs. going it alone.

I want more of that in my life. In real-time.  Because as wonderful as online friendships are, they aren’t the same as those where you actually DO stuff together, physically, in the same space.  Words written on a page (or in a text) are not the same as those spoken face to face, eye to eye.

Maybe even heart to heart, when someone needs a hug……

CONNECTION.

I may be a terrible blogger, but I give great hugs.

It’s just a matter of time.

Journaling – A Journey With Soul

Last week I was asked to write a guest post on journal writing by a wonderful woman who is an internationally known author, singer, and creative mentor who uses and teaches journal writing as a healing modality.  My post will be published on December 13th, but because it will be under my real name – and I write Anonymously here – I won’t be linking up.  However,  I can publish it here and now.  Because it had to be 600 words or less, I edited quite a bit out.  Maybe in the future I’ll expand on my own journal practice in future posts.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

20161129_054136_resizedIn 1969, for my 12th birthday, I received my first “Diary”.  A hard-bound book covered in daisies, it contained pages of blank lined paper and,  most importantly, a lock and tiny key.

Diaries! That place where your secrets were kept, secrets needing to be protected from the watchful eyes of parents and snoopy little brothers.  I can still see myself laying on the bed, my bedroom door closed, filling pages with big loopy lettering made in No. 2 pencil. I wrote about other girls, first periods and first bras.  I poured out my heart when I wasn’t invited to a party.  I chronicled my parents fights, and that night I accidentally discovered them naked in the pool.

I wrote about boys.  A LOT!

There was something exciting about each new diary started.  They whispered of POSSIBILITIES. NEW BEGINNINGS.  FRESH STARTS.

I’m not sure when diaries became ‘journals’.  Little hard-bound books were eventually replaced by steno pads and spiral notebooks.  It didn’t matter what they were called, though.   That FRESH START feeling didn’t change.

In the 70’s, I wrote out all the angst and longing of a teenager that didn’t feel like she fit in and so desperately wanted to.  In the 80’s, my journal absorbed the crazy-hot desire of a single 20something trying to make her way in the world, where I often waxed poetic.  Words poured out of me, filling empty hours and a deep-rooted need for self-expression.  I wrote about other girls, who was dating who and the heartbreak of not being invited to a party.  I chronicled the liberation of not living under my parents’ roof.

And I wrote about boys.  A LOT!

It was after my first child was born in 1986 that my “Morning Time” was also born.  Working full-time, I found it easier to stay awake after his 5 am feeding than to go back to bed for an hour.  It didn’t take long before I discovered the treasures to be found in the quiet solitude of Predawn.  I would sit at the dining table with my coffee and journal, gazing out the window while body and mind awoke.  I watched the changing seasons of my life reflected in the big Maple tree in our backyard, and I wrote and prayed.  Intentions were set for the new day, my head and my heart purged, and blessings counted.  During the brief periods when I didn’t practice it, I felt the difference – and not in a good way.

30 years later, I can still be found in the wee hours with my journal and coffee although, thanks to menopause, it’s more like 3 a.m.  (I wrote through THAT, too!).   While the hour and view has changed, my journaling journey hasn’t.  It’s still the best friend ready to listen without judgment, the husband who never zones out, the psychiatrist who doesn’t requirement payment or an appointment. And perhaps, most profoundly, it’s the Ear of God that’s always Present.

After nearly 50 years, I’ve journaled my way through marriages, divorces, births, deaths, and more sorrows and joys than I can count. Most recently I wrote my way through a breast cancer diagnosis and 18 months of treatment.  Frankly, I don’t know how I would’ve survived without it.  Writing is healing.  It’s cathartic.  It’s revelatory.  It’s doesn’t care if I’m happy or scared, strong or weak, or blonde, bald or gray (smiling).

A journal is unconditional in its acceptance of all the Flawesomeness of my life.  All I have to do is show up – authentically and faithfully – to reap it’s magic:

The Alchemy of my Soul.

Enough Is Enough

taco-lasagna

Yesterday I needed to do a little grocery shopping. After thinking through what was needed to supplement what I already had for making meals for the next week, I visited three different stores looking for the best prices. I picked up Halloween candy, grapes and a cantaloupe, a huge package of chicken quarters and breasts, the big jug of the Coffee Mate my daughter uses and a jar of salsa  needed for the Taco Lasagna I was making for dinner.

And  paid for everything in quarters.

Earlier, I had sent ou a big THANK YOU for the change jars my husband and I both keep that produced $30 dollars.  It would be enough.

Mumbling something to the cashiers about garage sales and not wanting to lose money in “fees” at the CoinStar, I managed to stave off most of my embarrassment at piling up the coins for payment (and was particularly relieved when no one was behind me in line.)

There is money in the account for rent and a couple of bills needing to be paid before next payday.  There’s a $100 bill in the change jar that I can use for groceries or gas. And, in case of an emergency, there’s always  credit cards.  So it’s not like we are destitute.  I don’t expect we’ll even be late on anything.  But it felt better to use the coins, to conserve what we have.

See, we are in on of those “In-between” season.  Having gone through our entire savings over the last 18 months while undergoing breast cancer treatment – and all that entailed  – we just happen to be in-between the time when money is so tight is squeaks, and some relief on the not-too-distance horizon. With careful planning, and a lot of God’s grace, we are going to make it through this time just fine.

Come December, and the last of 17 months of COBRA insurance payments will be made.  That’s $650/month.  My husband is expecting his annual bonus check come the first week in December, too.  And it looks like my part-time bookkeeping job is starting to give me more hours.   Fast forward another 7-8 months, and hundreds of dollars will be back in my husband’s paycheck when a 401K loan is paid off. So, all things being equal, by this time next year we “should be” in a much better place.

PLEASE. (smiling)

It’s having that relief in sight, and seeing every day miracles of provision, that keeps me from getting blue.  Actually, I am feeling a deep sense of heart-satisfaction and peace right now in spite of the squeeze.

Several years ago, I had this moment of clarity that broke my heart  AND filled me with the realization at just how short the human life really is.  I realized that an entire season  of my life was over – a major one! – never to be experienced again. I was staring my own mortality in the face.  How FAST it all went (even if, at the time, it didn’t feel that way)!  In a breath, it was gone – that Long-but-Short season of being a young, newly married woman creating her first home, bearing and raising two babies, and facing more years ahead of her than she did behind her.  So much promise and possibility in those years, even while I clipped coupons to stretch the food budget,  made trips to the pediatrician, and sewed costumes for school.

There was a lot of magic going on in those days, as I made “something out of nothing”.  I still have a binder full of recipes cut from magazines for using hamburger 50 different ways, and making casseroles out of  leftovers.

Even back then, being a two-income family was a necessity if one (a) arrangementswanted to stay off government assistance and (b) wanted to provide a decent (lower) middle class existence for a family. While in my heart I longed to be a stay at home mom, my pragmatism was what drove me.  I would rather have my kids safe and sound in the “extended family” environment of a good babysitter while I brought home the bacon, than to subject myself to food stamps and, them, to poverty just so I could “stay home”.  As it turned out, I was a job creator myself, providing the income for another mom to stay home, while bringing home money and health benefits for my entire family.  In retrospect, it was worth the trade-off.  My kids didn’t suffer.  They were loved, and knew they were loved, by not only me and my husband but by a “village”, so to speak.

Can a child EVER experience too much love?

Boy, there were some tough at times, to be sure.  Sure, we made do with nice second-hand furniture, and help from my parents.  When the second baby came 15 months after the first, and expenses doubled, I truly didn’t know where the money would come from for childcare, pediatrician visits, diapers, formula and clothing for two little growing bodies.

There were many many mornings before work spent in prayer and a lot of tears.  There were also sublime moments of gratitude and overwhelm when “things worked out”.  We never went without anything important.  It might come in at the last-minute, but the money was always there to pay the mortgage, or to buy food  or to put gas in the cars.  We even had a little extra for pizza on the weekends, something special for the kids on their birthdays, and goodies under the tree from Santa.

Later, as a single mom of two teenagers, there wasn’t  money for college but both my kids have held jobs since their teen years, and have since grown in their respective careers.  Now – at 29 and 30 – they are wonderful people and productive members of society.

With a lot of hard work, and even more of God’s grace, we made it.

Fast forward to today.  There are three generations under our roof again, having banded together for a season because we can all do better together than we can do apart right now.  Once again there are “children” to care for.  A family to cook for and nurture.  A child’s laughter and wonder to experience on a daily basis.  It’s like I am experiencing a renaissance of my Motherhood years…something I thought was long gone.

Here I am again, cutting coupons and looking for creative ways to make “cheap” cuts of meat taste yummy.  (Which is an oxymoron these days.)  I am being extra careful to use up, reuse, make do, and make sure to shop smart – and, where appropriate – in quantity again.  It’s not easy, with 3 adults and 1 growing boy.  There are some challenges when adult children move back in.  My house isn’t as neat and quiet as it was before a 7-year-old lived here full-time.  But Oh! It’s been satisfying on SO many levels!  Deep and heart wrenchingly so, as this time around, at 60 years old, I am so much more mindful of the fragility and fleeting preciousness of life here on Earth.

Ok, so I kinda swallowed my pride, put on a “face”, and used quarters yesterday.  BFD!  No harm was done to me in the making of those purchases…except for, maybe, my ego.  The Taco Lasagna was delicious, the rent check is in the mail, and my grandson had a wonderful Halloween treak-or-treating and handing out the candy that Grandma bought earlier in the day.  $15 worth of the good stuff.  Peanut Butter cups, Tootsie Pop suckers, and malted milk balls.  YUM.

Just like my kids back in the day, he hasn’t a clue there are medical bills  to be paid.  He has no concept of the exorbitant and ever-increasing cost of living that is crushing the middle class. All he knows is he is safe, warm, well cared for, and well-loved.  The adults in his life are – collectively – providing everything he really needs.  (Even if Mom DOES have to say “No” to buying the 37th wrestling action figure…at least, for now).

And so, I find myself frequently choked up and on the verge of tears as I witness God – again and still – miraculously providing for us.  For example, I wrote my floral design teacher to tell her I couldn’t make  this next session because I didn’t have the material fee, and hoped my course fee could be applied for a future class when things were a little better.  She told me to come anyway.  To come in early, in fact, so we could chat.  I left class Saturday with a beautiful arrangement, a bag of pumpkin seeds to roast, and a heart full of love for her.

Then there was last Friday, when I went “Treasure Hunting” at the Good Will to pass some time, and found the most adorable top for my daughter  ½ off – a whopping $2.99.  It ended up being the “perfect” thing for her to wear to a big family reunion she was going to.  It fit like a glove.

bowl-of-pomsMy husband does a little handyman “side work” for a rancher friend, and ended up coming home Saturday with a HUGE bag of pomegranates (so many I gave some to a friend), a ton of fresh beef (4 lbs. Of ground and a nice looking roast), and a crisp $100 bill!

It’s really mind-blowing, sometimes.  In the very middle of a difficult season, I feel such gratitude.  Such JOY.  It’s like a deep river of satisfaction and peace running through my belly, holding me steady and refreshing my soul.  I feel it when I peel carrots and potatoes for a big pot of stew, knowing the family will smell it as they come in the door, hungry and tired after a long day at work.  I am awash with it as I fold my grandsons clean clothing, or witness his excitement at a freshly carved and lit Jack O’ Lantern or hear him tell how he made Super Student at school – again! – this week.

Seasons come and go. Good times and bad.  Hard times and easy ones.  Abundant times and slim pickings times.   Healthy times, and not.  For everything thing, there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.

And, if  you’re lucky, some seasons actually come around again.

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat, or about your body, what you will wear….for your Father knows that you have need of these things.  But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you.”  Matthew 6:25, 32-33

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