Falling

Early Fall days are some of my favorites.

The change in light, the change in colors…..the change in me.

The vapid summer days here in So Cal drain me, both physically and energetically.  Yes, I love the sunshine and – occasionally – the longer days. But we’ve had a helluva hot, humid summer this year and I couldn’t be happier that darker cooler mornings are here with the promise of nights sleeping with open windows vs. A/C dronings.

Suddenly, I feel like cooking again. Hearty, earthy dishes like pot roasts and soups and fruit pies.  The gem-like ambers, oranges and browns of nature have inspired me to decorate for Halloween. I’ve been feng-shuing, decluttering and re-organizing and

I feel like writing again.

It’s been nearly 6 months since my last post and about that same length of time since I’ve written anything for my book (and thank you to those that reached out to make sure all was well in the midst of my silence. It is and I am. Thank you, Jesus, for curing the incurable).

I recognize several things contributed to my stall out.  Life happens and priorities shift. For example, I’ve been working two full days a week since the end of May, and I’m also responsible for making sure our grandson gets to school by 7:50 every morning.  My morning routine – and typically my most creative time – has altered.

But in all honesty, it’s been more about motivation. I mean, even with a printer that didn’t work and a computer that barely did, I could’ve been writing.  I still journal most days.  But the book or the blog?  Well…I just haven’t been feeling it.

Thankfully, lack of inspiration isn’t a permanent condition.  Ask any artist.  Everyone goes through dry spells or blocks.  Muses can be fickle companions.  Then again, I tend to enter new projects with all pistons firing and my foot to the floor – which might be why I seem to excel at short term commitments and struggle a little with those that take a loooonnnnggggg time to complete.   I like to finish stuff.  Check it off my To Do List.

Or maybe, I just like Instant Gratification.  Ha!

But I’ve learned the importance of giving myself the grace to put something down and to feel my way through my creative endeavors.  Sometimes the best thing I can do to reboot is to walk away.  Like, literally, take a walk.  Hike in nature.  Socialize with friends.

Live life!

In years past, unfinished projects use to mock me…. half finished piles creating feelings of guilt and (depending on how much money spent on supplies) shame. But if Cancer  taught me anything, it is this: Life is short so focus on who and what is really important – and let the rest go (temporarily or permanently, depending).

So.  Here I am. Yesterday I cleaned and reorganized the office and the computer is fixed.  A new printer is being delivered on Tuesday along with a new mouse pad to replace the one I LOVE but was looking as grimy as our grandson after a day at school.

And I’m writing…..

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The house and yards look festive.  It’s a nipply 70 degrees, the windows are opened wide and the sun is just peeking over the hill.   I’ll be doing breakfast and a little shopping with girlfriends this morning, and then enjoying the rest of the day doing “whatever” since all my chores are done.  Maybe I’ll plant a few seasonal flowers or make that wreath I’ve been thinking about.  Or, maybe I’ll just enjoy the peace and quiet of an early Fall afternoon with the house to myself.

Fall. My favorite time of year.

 

Stormy Days

lightningI am an early riser.

This morning, it was 2:30 a.m. (No, that isn’t a typo.)

It’s been this way for some years now, for varying reasons.  Most, I believe, are physical but not all.  Certainly, in the last few weeks, that hasn’t been the case.

It’s the stuff in my head.

For almost two years, the whole “C” thing – and all that entailed – caused many a sleepless nights.  I don’t think that’s unusual.  Recently, it’s something – or, rather, some things – other than that.

Odd dreams where I’ve seen the same “terrorist” looking guy more than once.  Wondering how this whole ‘end of life’ thing with Mom is going to play out. Worrying about my daughters health, our finances, what I’m going to make for dinner.

And then there’s the circus called the U.S. Presidential elections.  Wish I could say, “Not my circus, not my monkeys”, but – unfortunately – this circus very much impacts our lives and I have a natural political bent even in the best of times.  With this Freak Show, I’ve been consumed with what’s going on, what’s being revealed, and what is being kept secret.

It’s one thing to have concerns – even fears –  about external foes: ISIS, Russia, Iran, North Korea, China.  The terms “World War III” and “Nuclear Weapons” are being bandied about a lot these days, and it’s scary stuff – especially when you consider who has their finger on the button (be it a suitcase or an Oval Office).

God help us all.

It’s a whole thing altogether, though, when you realize your own government is bad to the bone, and We The People are really just pawns in their Game of Thrones. We now need protection from the very institution that was created to protect us!  The Washington Elite and the Global Cabal have made it clear that they could care less about us.  We are disposable to them.

And just typing that makes me want to smack someone, or scream, or stick my head in the sand (or in a bottle of booze) and pretend it all away.

I’m REALLY going to need a mental cleanse after November 8th (if not before)

Knowing it’s futile to lay there in bed and try to think my thoughts away,  I got up, and played Gin Rummy for a couple of hours. It distracts me.  It breaks the cycle of worry. It can even be fun.  But it doesn’t necessarily make me feel better.

With an hour to go before people started stirring about, I had enough of that and did what I should have done from the start: I poured myself a fresh cuppa, sat at my little kitchen table, lit a candle, and prayed.

Within a few minutes, it started to rain again.  Gently at first, and then in big fat sheets. Blessed, wonderful, Hot Damn! rain! It sprinkled here on and off all day yesterday, with even some thunder and lightening thrown in, and I swear I could hear Earth groan with pleasure.  Even one day of rain in drought racked SoCal is a huge deal.   The air gets fresh, Nature get a quick wash down, and the temp actually drops below 75.

When I heard the thunder start up again, I threw open my kitchen door, stepped outside and looked North where huge bolts of lightning lit up the dark.  Great rolling claps of thunder sounded overhead, and I could just see the shapes of the clouds in the predawn light.  It looked like a massive rib cage, with a giant Heart in the center.  The thought crossed my mind to try to capture it in a photo, but I didn’t want to leave.  I didn’t want to chance missing IT.

I wanted to praise!

Raising my hands and relishing in the beauty of the Storm, I recalled reading that God’s Voice is as thunder, and His appearance as lightning.  It made what I was witnessing even more beautiful, and it seemed the bolts were in sync with my thoughts.  My mind was being cleansed and refreshed with Living Water.

And that’s when I heard, “Grandma!  Grandma  Can you hear it?!?”   Padding into the kitchen, his eyes bright and wide, his hair tousled with sleep, was my Angel.

Pushing back into the kitchen, I stepped inside and said “Yes, Bub!  I sure do!  Isn’t it awesome? Come here and let’s watch!”

And just then the kitchen – and my heart – glowed with Light. Holding his little body in front of mine, we stood and watched and clapped and laughed with pure joy at every clap of thunder and every bolt of lightning.  Oh, what a miracle!

I’m still smiling about it.

You gave abundant showers, O God,
You refreshed your weary inheritance.
Psalm 68:9

Not Another Manic Monday

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Shhhhh……don’t tell The Boss, but I’m playing hooky today.  And while I have to use some much valued vacation hours to pay for it

I…

JUST….

COULDN’T…

GO…

IN

No, I don’t have a hangover.

See, after a half dozen weeks of high stress/low sleep, my body and emotions said,“oh hell no!” when it was time to get ready for work this morning.  Thankfully, the situation that’s been taking up space in my head since July came to a positive conclusion yesterday, and – break out the champagne! – life can resume normally. (Whatever that is!)

On the plus side, after years in Menopause Boot Camp, I’ve learned how to hold down a full time job while dealing with insomnia, worrisome “others”, and all of my other responsibilities and still manage to appear relatively together.

But only on the outside.

On the inside, I’ve been a fucking mess.  You would think that after all these years, and all that Enlightenment, I’d be good at dropping the Good Little Soldier routine and just let my shit show.  But no…I can’t.  I won’t.

Right or wrong, true or false, I believe that if I have a melt down, “they” will freak out.  If I fall apart, “they” will, too. Who will keep it All together if I don’t?   It’s my job – my mission, even – to make those in my care (three generations worth) to feel at peace, and that It’s All Good.

So I do what I have to do.   I put on a stiff upper lip, pull up my Big Girl Panties, and get on with the business of taking care of business.

Only when the Crises has passed do I allow myself to fall apart, and almost always in the comfort of my own home when no one else is looking.  Hence, the need to take a day off – because even though The Man knows, he doesn’t know.  Only Those that see my midnight tears, and hear my 3 a.m. prayers, really understand.

Oh, it’s not like a few close friends weren’t in on what was going on.  They “got it”, and prayed and supported me.  Thank God and the angels for them.  But there is a limit to how much another person can realistically be there in our dark moments. There are just some Valleys of Shadows that we have to walk through by ourselves.

And while I can pray and let go and believe and all that happy crap, Being Strong can be a very scary, exhausting, lonely road.

Some of you will know what I’m talking about.

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Time to shower,  have a good cry and take a nap.  Truly,  I have so much to be thankful for!  Why, in just a hand full of hours I’ve got a Girls Night Out to get ready for. I’ll be attending a special cocktail and discussion reception prior to the closing night of  “Twelfth Night” at one of our local theaters.  It’s set in the 1920s flapper era.  How fun does that sound?

By then, I’m sure I’ll look fabulous!  Why, my outfit is all picked out, some makeup will hide the dark baggy circles, and I’ll be all smiles.  No one will be the wiser that I’ve just finished a trek through hell because

It’s Show Time!

*note: The photo above was taken a couple of weeks ago on a very special day.  My future daughter-in-law invited me to go with her entourage to look for a wedding dress!  Yes, my son is getting married next March and I couldn’t be more thrilled.  That’s my hand with the turquoise ring and age spots, and FDILs is next to it on the right.  :) And while I didn’t take the photo, I brought the champagne and glasses to toast the occasion, with four generations present.  Yes, so very much to be thankful for….and here come those tears!

Friday Fiction – Up In Smoke

A writing prompt came across my Reader this morning called, “Friday Fiction” – the brain child adopted child of Rochelle Wisoff-Fields over at Addicted To Purple.   The photo prompt immediately caught my attention – I’m a lover of all things vintage – and prompts are a great way to get the juices flowing, creative or otherwise.

The idea is to use the photo as inspiration for an original story, 100 words or less.  So here it is, my first contribution to Friday Fiction: “Up In Smoke”.  It came in at exactly 100 words, but only after culling some I really wanted to keep.  LOL

antique-deskPhoto Credit:  Photo by Jan Wayne Fields, Rochelle’s husband

Gazing at her grandfather’s desk, Neeley remembered the man who once occupied it’s chair for hours pouring over the numbers he meticulously kept on his tobacco crops.

Once so familiar and beloved, with his ink stained fingertips, twinkling green eyes and the smell of smoke that clung to him, Richard Jamestone was now a complete stranger.

When she stumbled upon three journals hidden in the attic, Neeley thought she had discovered a treasure.  Her heart lept at the thought of learning more about this man who was so kind and gentle with her.

What she discovered instead was murder.

Growing In The Garden of God

Years ago, a decade or more, I had a friend describe herself to me as a hot house orchid type of woman.  She was convinced that we gals are all like flowers…each of us identifiable with one type of flower out of the plethora of beautiful choices available. A floral representation of our spirits.

When I told her I didn’t feel like a flower at all, but like an Oak Tree, she offered to pray for my self esteem and any feelings of unattractiveness or lack of feminity I had.  And so, with tears in my eyes and head hanging down, I thanked her, because oh!  How I wanted to feel…to BE….beautiful and feminine, exotic and lovely, fragrant and desireable.  And Oak Trees, apparently, weren’t any of those things……

Fast forward to another lifetime.  To Now.

I’m am just finishing the last few tracks of Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes CD series on the wise woman archetype called, “The Dangerous Old Woman”.  My God!  If it were possible to fall in love with someone by their voice alone, I am totally in love with Dr. Estes.  She has this amazingly warm, honey-toned voice filled with passionate expression and wisdom.  Sometimes I get so engaged in the sheer sound of her voice, that I have to shake myself out of this ‘zone” I get in, so I can really hear what she is saying.

I don’t have the time to do a complete review on this incredible, life changing work right now.  Maybe I’ll write more posts on it later.  However, let me say this:  For someone like me, who had almost no familial history passed down to her (all of my grandparents were dead before I was born, for example), this series has been gold! For the longest time I felt like I had no “past” to draw upon.  My parents were a somewhat typical 50’s generation couple: dad was a young and upcoming executive for a major manufacturing company and mom was all about creating the right appearances – both in our home and on our persons – to support that.  Even though I had something like 14 aunts and uncles, and more cousins than I could count, half of them were in the Midwest and completely unknown to me. The other half – the California contingent from Mom’s side – were busy doing what they always did at family gatherings:  The adults ate, drank and partied together while us cousins were stashed safely away in another part of the house to play.

It’s been while listening to the stories that Dr. Estes tells in her series that I realized just how much I missed out on.  For eons, peoples of  all cultures, all over the world, have passed down their collective experience and wisdom through the art of Story Telling…the elders to the youngers.  They did this while they worked in the fields, or around the pots hung over the campfires.  They did this while they did handcrafts and woodworking and tool smithing.  There were stories that covered every aspect of the human experience – from life to death to beyond.  I honestly can’t remember any wisdom stories shared with me as a young person.  Well, there was that drunken uncle pinching my newly forming breasts at Thanksgiving one year, offering his bit of wisdom:  “THIS is what the boys will be after!”

Sure, my mom – who was orphaned at 17 when her folks died a day apart – would frequently wax sentimental after a few vodkas.  I occasionally heard about Grandmas’ sewing, or Grandpas humor.  But no “Stories”, if you know what I mean.   Not like the ones Dr. Estes shares, from her own culturally rich heritage, nor the stories she’s acquired through her studies of indigenous peoples.  For example, the world is replete with fairytales that are shared – as if by magic – by many cultures, with only little revisions here and there.  They ultimately relay the same Truths.  The same Cautions.  The same Hard Earned Wisdom.  My youth was filled with the stories I got from books.  The adventures of Nancy Drew.  The occasional Bible story from children’s church.  And tales of life on the high seas, mostly lived by men like Captain Horacio Hornblower, and Captain Bly.

I’ve found myself soaking up the stories and myths on this CD series like a desert soaks up the rain! They’ve nourished my soul – touching me deeply in places that I didn’t even know I buried, and causing new life to bloom.

Back to being an Oak Tree….which I still feel like is a pretty good representation of Who I Am, only now – years and hard won experience later – I now celebrate and embrace!  Even more so after hearing Dr. Estes tell the story of the old tree from her village…a magnificent 100+ year old tree that – after finally succumbing to an incredible lightning strike that split her from top to bottom – ended up being filled with treasure.  Literally!  Countless numbers of items…from cards to tools to clothing to toys…that had found their way (either by winds or human hands) into the deep crevices of her limbs and trunk and roots over the years.  Some of these precious treasures – spanning entire generations of the village – had wood literally growing around them, as if in the safe keeping of a mother’s palm.

Women, Dr. Estes says, like Trees, are the Keepers of  Treasures.  Women, like trees, mature and harden and grow stronger through wild storms as well as gentle showers.  No longer frail, thin sapplings, the older Tree  – sturdy, scarred, shading, more fruitful – stands like a powerful Guardian of the woods.

Women, like trees, are the holders of Ancient Wisdom….

Last week, I had a dream.  In the dream, I found myself travelling through a village towards a steep hillside.  On the hillside, was a grove of giant trees – like Red Woods (my favorite) nestled close together.  As I got closer, I could see that the red bark on their massive trunks had been roughly hewn away and there were faces on them!  Gentle, heavily lidded eyes and strong, powerful noses.  Lips curled in almost smiles and eyebrows shaped like bridges.  As I climbed, I used these beautiful, magnificant faces as handholds and footholds to help me.  Up and up the hillside I went, my steps sure and quick.

When I reached the very top, I found myself on a path that wandered into the distance.  Within the first few steps, I came along side another tree – a smaller tree with thick greenery – that was absolutely buzzing with hummingbirds!  One particular hummer – as big as a sparrow – left her perch and flew right in front of my face.  I could see that she was an older bird…thicker than the rest…a little scruffy around the feathers, but her eyes were bright and her beak strong.  Her eyes!  They looked INTO me, not at me, and as if making up her mind that I was satisfactory, she allowed me to touch her…practically purring like a cat as she enjoyed my fingertips stroking her.  She tilted her head and pressed it against my palm and then quickly jumped to my shoulder where she nestled in my hair, and became my travelling companion.  I swear she was smiling.

It was here that I woke up, with a lightness of heart and a vibration of such pure happiness, I didn’t stop smiling for hours.  My dream told me a story that night.  An encouragement, of sorts, to use the ancient “wise woman” wisdom that was available to and in me, to  guide and support me as I continue  on my life’s journey.  I felt a knowing that everything and everyone I needed would be there for me – available to me so that I could take Joy with me as my companion.  Never alone.  Never without Help.  That even the Impossible was possible!

With the help of the Wise Old Trees.