Inspiration

Something’s Gotta Give

I’ve always had a natural inclination to look for (and find) the pattern in things….the webby gossamer strings that connect one thing, one person, one event to another to produce a certain outcome.

So it’s no surprise that I’m here writing on the blog again after 9 months in absentia.  Why? Well, I’ll have to go back a bit.

Over two years ago and after nearly 9 years (oh, gawd), I dumped my Facebook account. For real.  I say that because, like any addict worth their weight in denial, I had taken “breaks” and “vacations” and “time outs” from the platform only to jump right back into the energetic cesspool within a short period of time.  I did this over and over and over again. I uninstalled/re-installed the app on my device of choice more times than I can count, and each time I went back, I felt weaker. More powerless.

Hooked.

But in December of 2016, after a long and increasingly painful journey, I shut ‘er down for good and never went back. Praise Jesus! And I did this in order to draw up positive, real-time life boundaries I hoped would greatly impact my well-being and relationships.

The positive effects could fill an entire blog post.  But it didn’t stop there.

Last year I ditched my Twitter account after a shorter, albeit equally dysfunctional time. Anyone who is even vaguely familiar with the cultural changes that the US has undergone in the last 3 years, particularly as they relate to social media and the “mob mentality”, will understand what I mean. I kept engaging in The Crazy, and I didn’t want to. I didn’t like it. It’s not who I AM.

Again, the positive effects were felt almost immediately. But I’m still not through.

This year, as new as it is, brought with it yet another tie I felt compelled to unbind.  I un-installed the Instagram app from my phone and now only check it infrequently from my PC – and only because I have kids in another state and they post there. It supplements the texts and phone calls that feel too few and far between for this Mama.

The overall impact of De-SMing my life over the last 2+ years has been incredible and, I believe, long reaching.  Gone is the neurotic twitch to check my phone every few minutes. (A habit I now find annoying when others to it – sort of like the self-righteousness exhibited in some ex-smokers or new vegans. I’m trying hard not to be that way).

I’ve also said goodbye to the impulse to make every important (or, dare I say, vaguely routine) moment of life documented, photographed, tweeted, or uploaded.  I no longer feel drawn into leaving passive-aggressive comments.  You know the type….those “helpful” little critiques or suggestions, the “friendly” countering of another’s ideas or opinions, the pretend prescience making me think I could possibly know the full intention of a poster’s thoughts from a minimally worded status update that may or may not hold grammatical or spelling errors.

I’m no longer on the receiving end of these things, either.

In the free space I’ve created by wiggling out of the Web, I am very rooted in real time, real life. I’ve also rediscovered a couple of my favorite pass times:  Reading (these days to the tune of 2-4 books a week) and writing.  

The two go hand-in-hand, you know.  At least, for me this is true.  Hindsight has shown that feeling inspired to write is directly proportional to the time I spend reading.  Not just skimming an article here or there, but a fully submerged, time-warping dive into a good story.  The kind of story where you see the characters come to life in your mind’s eye, moving through their sorrows, joys and adventures with them, and are left feeling slightly (ok, greatly) annoyed when the demands of life intrude. Time to get on with your chores, go to an appointment, or take a shower.

And so, I’m writing. After playing around on a cookbook for some time in a “scrapbook” format, for the last two months I’ve been putting recipes and photos together in a systematic way in a program that allows for printing.  I’m super excited about it and figure I’m about two-thirds done with the initial input, with nearly 50 recipes in a half dozen categories.  Who knew that my long held habit of photographing the food I made would one day payoff?  Turns out that I already had nice photos for most of my “important” recipes, the cover art, and all but 2 of the dividers.  My goal is to have it finished and printed in time to give copies to a select few family and friends by years’ end.  Christmas presents, perhaps. And I think my family is enjoying this journey as well, as I’ve been cooking up things I want to add to the book, just so I can take photos of the ones I still need.

Writing this cookbook, which includes snippets of personal and familial history and antidotes, has given me a sense that I will leave my kids and grand kids a “legacy” of sorts, linking one generation to another.   My hope is that, along with actually USING the thing, they will find it to be a source for feelings of connection to their ancestors and finding the warm soul-fuzzies – the GIFT – to be found in feeding people good food.

Of course, it’s equally possible that,  over time, my book will get shoved to the back of a closet or boxed up for storage, eventually finding its way to the trash or donated to the local thrift shop.  My ego demands that I hope not, although in the later case at least there would be the chance someone like me, someone who collects vintage and unusual cookbooks, would snap it up.

Maybe.

But for now, I don’t care what happens TO the book. The main thing is that I’m putting it together.  Finally.

And I’m writing again.

Daily Inspiration, Inspiration, Life, Love, Relationships, Spirituality, Women, Writing

I’m Moving

Almost exactly 3 years ago to the day, I was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer.

At the time, it seemed this news – and the 18 month healing journey I would have to undergo – was the end of the world.  And, in many ways, it was.   I was physically, emotionally, and spiritual stripped to the bone and then some.  The pieces of my life fell dead to the ground, bit by bit,  along with my hair.  I lost so much… my career, friends, a sense of self…All swept away.

And during the blackest hours, I lost hope that I would survive.  All I had to hold onto, literally, was the promise of better days – a better LIFE – as I kept my eyes on Jesus.

Fast forward to today.   I am a happy, healthy Stay-At-Home Grandma, carpooling my grandson back and forth to school, drum lessons, karate, and Brain Balance.  I take long morning walks in the park that make my soul sing, and spend as much time in the garden as my fingernails can handle.  My husband and I, our marriage renewed as well, are members of a loving and supportive church family where we are making new friends and are in community with people who believe like we do.

This past December I was accepted into the Master Food Preservers Program, offered through UC Davis Extension, and classes started last week.  I am back in school learning and practicing another of my interests – home canning and food preservation – while having the opportunity to make  even more new friends.  I also get to volunteer at local farms, farmers markets, the OC Fair, and more.

Next week, I’ll start my part time job working through Tax Season (February – April) in a local CPA’s office while HomeBoy is at school.   Last year when I did this,  I REALLY enjoyed not only the work but the people, so when they invited me to come back again, I didn’t hesitate to say, “When do I start!?!”

This morning I’ll be heading out to attend a workshop entitled “Craft Your Creative Vision For 2018”, and then get my hair done.  (YES, it grew back and YES, I am blonde again! :) ).  I’m looking forward to hearing what the instructor has to say, and how I can take things to the next level because frankly, they are pretty awesome right now.  But, greedy wench that I am, I’ll take MORE of the good stuff any day!

The life I live today, this life of freedom, joy, creativity, renewed faith and new friendship, wasn’t something I could “see” 3 year ago. But it was THERE, waiting for me, just as God promised it would be.  All I had to do was take one day at a time, keep the faith,  keep moving and remember:

It Ain’t Over Yet

Daily Inspiration, Inspiration, Life, Love, Relationships, Spirituality, Women, Writing

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.

Inspiration, Life, Love, Spirituality, Women, Writing

A Pocket Full Of Feathers

They’ve been popping up everywhere.  Slightly curled and snow-white, some small and downy, others larger and a bit more robust.  I find them laying in our yards, and scattered all along the walking trail, like angelic bread crumbs.

White Heron feathers.

It’s my habit to put things in my pocket when I walk, and the feathers are no different.  A small handful in a dish sits in my living room where I can see it regularly.  These feathers are a reminder.  An affirmation.

Having walked this neighborhood for three years, finding an abundance of these particular feathers everywhere is unusual although seeing the birds themselves isn’t.  There are several waterways nearby and herons fly over head regularly.  I caught this big guy – a Blue Heron – hanging out with a couple of buddies a few months back.

Herons are rich in symbolism and no one does Animal Speak better than Avia over at What’s Your Sign.  If you have a moment, hitch a ride over to her place on this LINK and check out the full spectrum of Heron Symbolism.  You’ll understand why finding so many of these feathers is nothing less than supercalifragilistic during this season in my life.

Today I wrap up my first week at Habitat For Humanity, and – in a word –  it’s been AWESOME.  The work itself is rewarding and fun.  But more than that, it’s the people I’m working with that is so exciting.  I’m still getting to know everyone but I can already tell these are some great folks.  Most of them are volunteers, under 30, and really love what they are doing.  After a decade working in a toxic waste dump, this is like heaven!

I also attended the first of The Write Page writer’s group meetings.  Held 20160511_200607_resizedat the Katie Wheeler Library, an old Victorian built by an Irish immigrant who turned out to be the grand daddy of our county, it’s a combination of so many things I just love! About 30 of us ranging from 18 to 80….newbie college kids to old-time journalists and representing at least a half-dozen nationalities…all share the common bond of loving the written word.  I’m already learning so much and can’t wait for the next meeting!

My tribe – my NEW tribe – is coming together.  My new life is coming together, too.  The feeling is indescrible after such a long, solitary and difficult season.  Sure, there are still bits to add to the picture – a great paying part-time job, for one – but I know it’s coming.  I know.  Grace is surrounding me.

My peeps and a pocket full of feathers.  What a great day to be alive.  Think I’ll go for a walk before work.

Who knows what I might find.

The Wild Pomegranate

A Change In Direction – A New Blogging Journey

GraceUpsideDown

2015 is proving to be THE Year of Radical Transformation for me, catapulted by a diagnosis of Breast Cancer that I received back in January.

Like most people given the news that they have a life threatening illness, my first thought was, “This can’t be happening!”  It’s true what they say, you know.  You never think it could happen to you. I’ve always been a strong, independent, capable woman.  After receiving the news just prior to my 58th birthday, I was feeling anything but.  Instead, I felt fragile and petrified. I wasn’t sure what to do, where to go, and who to talk to, to get my life back!

Mostly, I acutely felt my mortality for the first time ever.  This shit could kill me.

Breast cancer has impacted every aspect of my life, not just my health.  My relationships, my job, my spiritual and emotional lives, my finances and my sense of self have all been enormously impacted – I will never be the same.

And I’m beginning to think this may be one of the best things that has ever happened to me.

I’m learning so much while on this journey, and here’s one thing that I know for sure:  While there are definitely moments of gut wrenching fear, pain, and loss, there are many more moments of receiving unconditional love, peace, healing, and extravagant Grace.  Life has a new preciousness to it now.  I savor and find pleasure in the small, simple things, all while taking an honest look at what’s really important to me and how I want to live out the rest of this wild ride called LIFE.

There are still good things yet to be experienced.  GREAT things, even.  My best days really are ahead of me!

If I only stay in a place of SURRENDER, TRUST and BELIEF….

So, you may have noticed by now.  The Wild Pomegranate is gone, and Grace Upside Down is here with a new look, a new name, and new direction.  I have felt The Call to blog primarily about my own “dance” with breast cancer (love this term coined by Susan Weed, The Wise Woman!) and all the stuff that goes along with it.  However, not all posts will be BC related.  This is another thing I know: Breast cancer doesn’t define me.  It’s only one season in a long chain of seasons in my life.

But this dance is honing me and purifying me like a great big Fiery Furnace of Alchemy.  The lead is turning to gold.  I am going to come out of this thing bearing Gifts and I want to share them.  I will come out this deal in better shape than I was going in.  For all intents and purposes, I will be a completely changed woman, more ME than I’ve ever been, and yet different in innumerable ways.  Ways that I want to be in alignment with the highest version of myself and my purpose.

My hope is that what I provide here will be helpful to others engaged in their own dance with breast cancer, as well as caretakers and anyone else who might want to stick along for the ride.  That being said….

To My Subscribers:  Some of you have been with me since the beginning in 2007.  Please, please, please know that I will not take offense if you decide to unsubscribe in the face of this new direction I’m taking.  I totally get it if it’s not for you.  THANK YOU for the time that you did spend with me here, and I wish you much health and happiness!

For anyone else who decides to stay – and for the new people who make their way here –

Welcome to my Initiation.