Monthly Archives: April 2013

WASTING AWAY…

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IMG952235The only good thing about walking Bella on this cold, dank, miserably rainy day is that there are no other dogs in the park to contend with, meaning Bella is calm and my shoulder won’t be yanked out of its socket. You’d have to be crazy to walk on a day like today, but if we weren’t all crazy, we’d just go insane. It’s not really the only good thing about the day, though. The thing I like best about a rainy day like today (besides booze in the blender) is the way my imagination runs wild and takes me to another place and time where I can blissfully daydream about living another life as I defy gravity. 1213121327

Most times I escape to a place that’s usually South and mostly sunny.  White, sandy beaches, clear blue water, good music and happy people dancing in honky tonk bars.  No shirts, no shoes? No problem!  Today I’m wasting away in Margueritaville on the cozy little island (or is it?) of Key West. Cozy isn’t really a good adjective…crazy, maybe…would be more fitting. Tonight I’m dancing to an Eagles wanna-be band at the Hogs Breath Inn where a flirtatious man with a cute smile once whispered in my ear that he’d dance with me in a heartbeat if he weren’t there with his girlfriend…WHAT?!?! Naughty…

I stroll through the quaint streets and little shops surrounded by lush, colorful vegetarian. (Damn, I just blew out my flip-flop!) I visit Hemingway’s house and run my hand along the walls of his little studio above the garage where he wrote his classics.

Wedding-Key West 158 I breathe in the musty air, hoping a bit of his brilliant spirit will enter mine. I pet the descendants of his many cats and wish I had a home such as this where my cats could meander about safely and freely. I close my eyes and dream. Wedding-Key West 154

I’ll toast him in his old haunts tonight…Sloppy Joe’s…and while there maybe enjoy a cheeseburger in paradise!

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Wedding-Key West 170Later on I hop a boat that takes me to an island with an outdoor bar and restaurant on the sand lit by tiki torches.  I sip unusually decadent mixes of exotic cocktails and enjoy the faint music playing in the background highlighted by steel drums.  I remember a story I once heard about a man who worked as a powerful but stressed-filled CEO who gave it all up and ran away to become a bartender at a beach bar.  Brilliant idea, I think.  I wonder if the man serving me my drink is him.  I wonder if I could get hired…1214120844

I stroll the promenade in the moonlight. People are coming and going…all at ease and having fun, unwinding on this tiny key lime slice of tropical paradise. I go back to the house, which is painted in brilliant colors, adorned with tropical furniture and artwork.  I’ll have a house like this of my own some day. I sit out on the lanai closing my eyes and listening to the sounds of the night and then wake to the annoying “cock-a-doodle-do” of the roosters that roam aimlessly about.

Bella barks abruptly at a squirrel she spies scaling a tree (or is it a rooster?!) and rattles me back to reality.  She splashes in the puddle, transforming me into a muddy mess. Reality bites…

So pardon me while I search for my lost shaker of salt. I’ve learned that if life gives you limes, make margueritas.  Sail on…sail on…sailor…Wedding-Key West 107

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CHANGES

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Ch-ch-ch-ch-Changes
(Turn and face the strain)
Ch-ch-Changes
Oh, look out you rock ‘n rollers
Ch-ch-ch-ch-Changes
(Turn and face the strain)
Ch-ch-Changes
Pretty soon you’re gonna get a little older
Time may change me
But I can’t trace time
I said that time may change me
But I can’t trace time

I wish I knew what kind of changes David Bowie was going through when he recorded the song “Changes” back in 1971.

Changes, changes, changes…life is full of them. Good, bad, indifferent. You change your looks, your hair, your location. You grow up-changes. You graduate from school-changes.  You get your first job-changes. You meet Mr. or Miss Right-changes.  Mr. or Miss Right turns out to be Mr. or Miss Wrong-changes.  You meet another Mr. or Miss Right-changes. You get married-changes.  You have kids-changes.  You get divorced-changes.  You lose your job-changes. You lose your money-changes. You lose your house-changes. You get another job-changes. Get your money back-changes.  Get another house, maybe-changes. Then you meet another Mr. or Miss Right, maybe-changes.  Or maybe not. You move again-changes. On and on and on it goes.  Changes here; changes there; changes everywhere.

They say that change is good, and that is mostly true. I think it’s hard.  Hard and stressful and unsettling.  But that’s just me. Maybe I’ve had too many changes. I could use a little constancy. The winds of change blew my family’s way again this past week…another move…another readjustment…another life-altering change. But it was a good thing, all in all, because things as they were could not continue. So it was bound to happen – more upheaval, more readjustment, more changes. All good for the most part.

And the most awesome thing I have found about change is that it’s not forever.  It’s usually only for awhile, and the time you have while settling in is comforting.  But before you know it, change happens again…and again…and again…whether you’re ready or not. The key is in your ability to keep standing no matter how hard that wind hits you, or if you should fall, it lies in your ability to get right back up again. After all, the end is just the beginning…there is always another path.

So get yourself a fresh start – look ahead, not back. Change.

 

BAD THINGS HAPPEN FOR GOOD REASONS

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I was kind of mad at God last night. I felt that a really bad joke had been played upon me, and the freakish coincidence in which it happened blew my mind. I couldn’t imagine at the time why He would allow such a thing to happen.

On a beautifully warm, sunny day I made my way to a popular place in Pennsylvania where quaint little shops and fun eateries line sidewalks along the river.  I was meeting up with my daughter, who was visiting from Florida, and her friends.  It was a 1 ½ hour picturesque drive to get to where I was going – to the state in which I used to live.  We had a nice lunch and happy conversation, and then ventured onto the sidewalks for some browsing time. At one point I was left alone on the sidewalk with her friend and baby as the others went to put some things in the car. The sidewalks were jam-packed with tourists.  I was enjoying people-watching. And then, suddenly through the bustling crowd emerged a familiar face – the ex-husband with the woman he left me for.

It was the first time in over 3 yrs that I’d seen him – since the day I found out and told him to leave. I stared at them for a moment, and then looked away.  My heart pounded in my chest. I didn’t know what to do or say. Then my zodiac sign of Cancer personality did what I knew best to do – retreat. I ignored him and pretended I didn’t see him. I’m not sure that he saw me, even though he glanced back. Maybe he was playing that same game of denial we both knew so well.

I felt the scab of healing rip off, and I couldn’t stop the bleeding. When my daughter found out, she was livid. I’m sure she was scouring the streets for his face and practicing what she would say, as I was. I regurgitated my feelings of anger. They asked if I wanted to leave, but I would not let him ruin my day. They hugged me and looked at me with sadness – maybe pity. I remarked that if I didn’t have bad luck I would have no luck at all. But that, in fact, is not the case because my life since then has had more blessings than I can count. One immediate blessing was that we never saw him again.

forgiveness2My chest was tight with anxiety and pain that night. I called my aunt who knows me well and also talked with my older daughter as we rehashed what happened and searched for a meaning. It was good just to talk, unload and get reassurance, but there was no answer to my question of why.

Later that night I picked up a book I had recently purchased called “Ten Prayers You Can’t Live Without” by Rick Hamlin. I turned to the chapter on forgiveness.  It was there that I found my answer. It said that working on an old grievance can be a guilty pleasure, self-justification, a repeating refrain in our heads.  Our hurts can so define us that letting them go is like erasing our personalities, a frightening prospect.  It went on to say that forgiveness is like the bell in a church tower.  You pull on a rope and let go but the bell keeps ringing and ringing, slower and slower until it finally stops.  When we forgive someone, we take our hands off the rope.  But if we’ve been tugging at our grievances for a long time, we mustn’t be surprised if the old angry thoughts keep coming for a while.

I’ve wondered why I can’t get past this. I seem to be standing still in my life and enjoying the pity party I’ve been throwing for myself.  Now I finally realize what I have to do.  I need to forgive him in my heart. After all, I take responsibility for part of what went wrong, but now I have to let go of the rope of hatred and bitterness so I can live my own life once more.

My neighbor Eva said a verse in Italian to me the other day that her father used to say to her.  It means “Bad things happen for good reasons.”  Yes, the process I went through to end that marriage was hard and bad, as was seeing him yesterday, but I feel like I can put it behind me now for all the good reasons to come.

There are no coincidences. God knew exactly what He was doing when he let me see him yesterday with her. It wasn’t some twisted practical joke after all. I woke up feeling better today about everything. Like a heavy weight was lifted from my chest. Today I’m washing my hands, taking a deep breath and moving toward the light.  Another plan well done, God!

100 BLOGS!

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As I write this today, I am celebrating my 100th blog! This is it – the 100th slice of my life shared with you! I hope you’ll allow me a moment to digress from the usual, and I trust with all my heart that you won’t view this as narcissistic.

When I first set out on this journey to find an outlet for the things I wanted to share, I had no idea how this would play out.  All I knew was that I wanted an outlet for the things floating around in my head. The dilemma was where and how. I’d had more than one 🙂 rejection for submittals to newspapers and magazines over the years since, to use a well-worn metaphor, publishing is a very hard nut to crack. (sorry) But I did have some luck with certain articles. I am also confident that blogging has led me to a current stint as a newspaper columnist.  me

In the beginning, November 2011, my daughter Megan suggested a blog spot in WordPress, and that’s where this journey began. I was surprised at how easy it was to get started and was elated to finally have a place to let my freak flag fly! Would anyone read my blog? I questioned.  Would anyone care? But then…what a rush!  My first “like.”  My first “comment.”  My first “follow.”  So many surprises from so many different people!

The broad spectrum of followers is mind-boggling.  They come from all walks of life – healthcare providers, moms, dog and cat lovers, chefs, neuroscientists, singer/songwriters, students, actors, retirees,  teachers, comedians, models, fashion designers and artists to name a few. I have reached people from all over the United States, and worldwide – England, Germany, Italy, France, British Columbia, India, Australia and Estonia!  It’s amazing to realize that someone in England is enjoying my blog with a cup of tea and a crumpet or that I’ve made a good friend from New York City whose life is so eerily parallel with my own that I can almost call her a soul mate!  Then there’s my cousin in Tennessee reminiscing along with me about Easter Day at my grandparents’ house as she reads, or the Roman man who writes his blog in Italian, to the Australian Dad raising a child on his own. It’s the “WOW” factor for me!

This site has unwittingly become a history for my children as well, although I don’t think they realize this quite yet. As I share stories about myself, my parents and grandparents, I hope they will take things to heart and discover the true beauty of their heritage.  Blogging has allowed me to be silly one day and introspective the next.  I’ve not only been able to share my views on everything from bologna to Prince Harry, but my insights on day-to-day life – hopes, fears, dreams, children, crazy pets, love, marriage, yummy recipes, the sadness in the loss of a loved one, weathering a major hurricane, faith in God! All of which I have discovered, have a commonality worldwide.  Pet blogs are the most liked;  inspirationals are the most commented on.  One way or another, I’m getting through to so many on so many different levels, and it fills my heart with gratitude to each and every one of you who have taken time out of your busy day to take a look.

So in a word – thanks.  Thanks for reading and liking and commenting and allowing me to share my world with you.  Thank you for giving me this outlet to make you laugh or cry, think or reflect, believe or imagine, consider or suppose. Whether you live in India, or two houses down, you mean more to me than you’ll ever realize, and I feel honored to think of you as my friends.