Category Archives: Inspirational

GYPSY SOUL

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How many of you were gypsies/bohemians/hippies way back when?  You know, the ones who hopped in their VW bugs in the 70’s and drove to California to find themselves? Yeah, me, too. What were we looking for; what did we find?! 

Bux1fMwCAAAJt1xSearching…searching…searching. My soul has always been looking for something.  Always been hard to settle. It was like a petulant child who would not, could not sit still. I got bored easily and was always searching for something I never ever found.  Never content. Never satisfied. Thinking I could always do more and would not allow myself to be stuck in something boring, boring, boring. My search was always about finding excitement and meaning and, of course, adventure.

I wanted to be an actress, a singer, a dancer, a writer. I was so sure I was going to “make it!” I wanted to play the piano and the guitar and write songs and become a famous troubadour. (unlike a matador!) I studied acting and dancing in Princeton and New York; roamed the streets of New York looking for work; went to California hoping to be “discovered” and ended up doing no more than community theatre. Then I half learned to play the piano (without ever owning one) but wasn’t half bad on a guitar I did own.  I was always writing songs…sending them out…they are forever lost in space. I wrote two novels and countless short stories submitting and receiving rejection letter after rejection letter. Although I did have some success in publishing…only not enough to even pay for groceries. It was disheartening and disappointing. After awhile I guess I just lost my edge.

I am so much older now.  But not much wiser. Life has set me back a little. I still dream way too much and am ever hopeful for things I’m not sure I’ll ever realize. These days, it seems the only searching I do is for my glasses. And that restless soul has been quieted somewhat by writing about it like this or having a glass of my favorite “beverage” like that.  I still dream of living in Topanga Canyon with Keith Carradine (don’t ask). But even the ever-so-cool Keith has laid down his guitar, cut his hair and put on a suit in the name of an acting job. So it is a good thing, I guess.

I would still like my books and articles to be published so I can stop living hand to mouth.imageIn the meantime to look at me, you’d never guess that underneath it all is a latent hippie with modified bell bottoms, a needlepoint gauze top (which I still own) and love beads listening to Loggins and Messina, Dan Fogelberg and the Eagles. I may seem like an ordinary, mellow, middle-aged person who has come to terms with life.  But the fact is, I haven’t. I still host an assortment of daily dreams. And I kind of know that one day I will still buy a yellow convertible VW bug and ride up the coast of California, although I’ve developed a fear of heights, and the cliffs might prove to be a bit daunting. No matter, dreams are necessary for simple survival…part of the plan. And they are still all there underneath the appearance of an older, wiser me.

 

THE NOTHINGNESS OF DOING NOTHING

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A garbage truck rumbles down the road clattering and harrumphing noisily as the air brakes screech. The trash cans clatter over and over again as the truck stops at each house. Another noisy truck with a delivery of stone for a neighbor arrives…boom, boom, boom, the tailgate lifts and tons of stone plummet to the ground in a thunderous crash. A back hoe starts pushing the stone around. A cat cries from somewhere outdoors; the seagulls shriek. So much for a peaceful morning.

There is nothing much on my agenda today except that I am, indeed, supposed to be resting. Something I just have a hard time doing. Fact is I don’t know how to relax.  I don’t know how to give in to all that needs to be done and just sit.  Some people have it down, but I’m just not one of them. I sit up in bed reading my morning devotionals trying to find some meaning or parallels between the lines. The weather is cloudy and rainy and cool, dampening my mood. My cat purrs quietly by my side, content with nothing more than being with me and having me gently stroke her head. I wish contentedness was this easy for me, but the fact is, I have never really been content. I sip hot coffee from a mug with the inscription, “Faith isn’t always a leap. Sometimes it’s just one little step after another, with lots of falling down and getting back up in between.”

unnamedFiguratively, it seems that lately I’ve been doing a lot of falling down and getting back up. My latest predicament is that I have literally fallen down and gotten back up but have broken my toe while doing so, snapping it like a pretzel at the base of my foot. It’s surprising painful. I mean, it’s only a toe, and I only have to keep it taped and wear a clunky boot to protect it, but it has, in fact, cramped my style. I don’t do much in the form of exercise, but I love to walk. That form of exercise is relaxing to me. Now when I hobble down the road a short way to give my dog Bella some sort of exercise, I start to feel the throbbing. And the dorsum of my foot starts to ache, so I hobble right back to the house. I miss playing with and chasing my two little grandsons around. And I know it’s only a toe, and I know so many others struggle with so much that this is only relative to a chipped nail. I get that. It’s not major…just annoying.

Going deeper, I feel that maybe God is once again working His mysterious ways. Maybe He knew I needed a break…figuratively and literally. In a way I feel like this is another lesson in learning because I’ve just come off the stress of two very demanding, albeit non-financially lucrative jobs. Fact is this time is a much-needed reprieve and time of reflection. If only I could try to benefit from the nothingness of doing nothing.  If only I could stop the worry and start trusting in what the future holds. It’s got to be good, right?! I’ll chalk today’s gloom up to the rainy day because I know this, too, shall pass. I get out of bed determined not to worry so much and to trust more, and, oh yeah, to try to relax.

 

THANKSGIVING REFLECTIONS

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ThanksgivingThanksgiving is the time, of course, for giving thanks, and you don’t have to think very hard or look very far to start counting your blessings. I like to consider myself a thankful person, even in the face of adversity. I’m not always as positive as I should be, but I’m thankful.  When I was a young girl, I used to make a little production about writing my blessings down on paper on Thanksgiving Day.  They would be simple, something like:  Thank you for my mom and dad and brother and grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins. Thanks for Gigi my dog who follows me wherever I go.  Thanks for my best friends Gayle and Tommy. Thanks for our color TV.  Thanks for my teacher Miss McGurk…I really like her a lot. It was all very simple and to the point because at that age you don’t think into the depths of what true thanks entails.

As the years have unfolded, giving thanks on Thanksgiving Day has become deeply reflective and maybe a bit more complicated. Not everyone gets to live in that Norman Rockwell painting depicting the perfect Thanksgiving. I’m embarrassed to say that some years, depending on where I am at that point, I become a bit arid on the subject. Circumstances like the loss of loved ones or financial blows or job changes that didn’t turn out for the better or health problems or loneliness.  I’m sure others who are going through the ups and downs of life may have similar feelings. It’s just that sometimes our perspectives get strained and fuzzy, and it’s hard to imagine that things will ever get better, even though they usually do.

At these times I like to try really hard to look at my daily life and at the little things that make me happy.  It mostly revolves around nature and pets.  Like admiring a gorgeous pink and blue sunrise over the bay or making wishes on the thousands of brilliantly twinkling stars in the clear night sky.  Enjoying the splendor of a full, round blue moon. I admire the spectacular magnificence of the ocean or the colorful array of autumn leaves or the ability to breath in the clear cool air on my daily walks. I snuggle with my pets who make me laugh as I enjoy their amusing antics. I try to savor good food and try new recipes. Mostly, I try really hard not to dwell on the “what ifs?”  It’s not always easy.

So, if I can offer a suggestion to those who need a boost on this Thanksgiving Day, if you’re losing hope…give thanks that tomorrow is a brand new day to begin again.

If you think you’ll never get ahead financially, give thanks that you have enough for this day.

If you’re lonely, have faith that you never know what surprises may be in store for you.

If you have a roof over your head and heat to keep you warm on these frigid winter nights, remember you are luckier than many.

If you’re sick, be hopeful in your doctor and medicine and that in time it will get better.

If you’ve had a good dinner and your belly is full, you are truly blessed.

If you can get up in the morning and move at all, try to remember there are those who can’t.

Minimize the negative; accentuate the positive, even when it takes all the strength you can muster up to do so. And just keep it simple.

For my expanding family which includes my beautiful, brand new grandsons, my friends, relatives and loved ones. My faith. My crazy pets.  A place to live. My health. Work. Good food.  Creature comforts.  The beauty of nature. The promise of hope. In all of this I give thanks to my dear, sweet, generous God.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.

THE GREATEST LOVE I EVER KNEW…

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greatest…just happened to come in two!

From the late-night phone call nervously announcing their impending premature birth, to running frantically through the airport barefoot (no time to put my shoes back on) as I try frantically to catch the next plane to Florida, to the long ride to the hospital and past the four security checkpoints, to the maternity room for my first “love at first sight moment” with these two precious little baby boys, I’m hooked. Twin grandsons! Imagine that?!? Doubly blessed! Twice the love!

Now I’m this grandmom-type person called “Mimi.” As any grandparent will tell you, there is absolutely nothing that can describe that proverbial soft spot you immediately develop in your heart the first time you see them and hold them. As you breathe in their sweet scent, the joyful tears pour from your eyes as a knot forms in your throat. You remain speechless, sobbing uncontrollably as you kiss their precious, little heads for the first time and gaze at them in wonder.

I have to tell you this brand new role as granny is pretty darned cool! It’s indescribable. It’s the next best thing to becoming a parent, only better! This all-encompassing capacity to love is surprising, especially coming from a jaded heart that’s almost given up on love. I’ve turned into a pile of mush, wanting to do nothing else but cuddle them in my arms and protect them from the big, bad world.photo

A few months have passed since that miraculous day they entered this world. They’ve already grown in such leaps and bounds. I’m trying to slow life down so I can savor every tiny milestone, but it’s not working. I miss them when I’m not with them.  The moment I leave their house, I want to go back because I’m afraid I might miss something. The tug on my heartstrings is awful.  The greatest joy so far is the big toothless grin I get when they see me. Do they really recognize me?!  I feel like a rock star. Be still my leaping heart as my cup runneth over with love! I melt into a puddle when I hear their baby babblings as they discover their voices, which startles them at first. I can hardly take the preciousness, if that is a word. It’s just so priceless!

I’d like to gush on, but for your sake I won’t. So much more is yet to come, and I can’t wait until tomorrow to see what they’re up to and to report on their adventures!  Mostly, I can’t wait to see how long I can continue to travel on this earthly journey to watch them grow into the very best men they can be. Their parents will make sure of that. God willing, I’ll be here to see for a very long time to come.

But for now, all I want to do is rock them and sing them sweet lullabies as they contentedly suck on their bottles, looking up at me wide-eyed and curious with those big blue eyes.  They’re probably wondering who this lady is. What do you think, kids?! Just call me Mimi!

 

 

LIFE IS FRAGILE

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Life is fragile. The mind is complicated. What we tell ourselves we believe.

untitledRobin Williams is gone. A radiant spirit full of laughter and fun and talent has departed. I don’t get it. I, like most, can’t comprehend the complicated answer to the question of why.

It must have taken a great deal of agonizing courage and pain for him to choose to walk away from life. To leave forever those he loved. That would be unbearable for most. I can’t help but think that he contemplated his departure for a long time. It couldn’t have been something he did on a whim. His unhappiness must have been intolerably overwhelming in light of the way he chose to leave this world.

Robin’s magnitude of success in life seemed immeasurable. His stellar career; loving family; celebrity status. It all superficially seemed grand. And yet, something inside of his mind, something he told himself blurred his vision. It’s not that he didn’t seek help; he did. It’s not that he had a horrible life; he didn’t. But there was something inside of his brilliant mind that wouldn’t allow him peace in his own existence.

What we tell ourselves we believe. That’s why it is so important not only to be kind to others, but to be especially kind to yourself…to believe in yourself and to be your own rock of support and encouragement. To have faith that no matter what it is you’re going through, it will get better. And never give up.

To Robin – Wishing you the peace you sought. To his family – Wishing you much courage and strength as you grieve your beloved.

EMBRACE IT

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happy birthdayI hit a milestone birthday recently, and I’ve had mixed emotions about it. At first, I dug my heels in and felt as if I were mebeing dragged kicking and screaming into the next decade. I held on so tightly to the old that my body stiffened, refusing to face the new. How could I be this age when I didn’t feel any older? How did I end up being this old anyway? Sometimes I felt like I was 18, but when I looked into the mirror I could see the inevitable changes in my body that I’ve fought against all these years. It’s a very tiring battle; one that isn’t so easy to combat. When my daughter posted a picture with my actual age on Facebook, I was mortified. And when I let her know how upset I was, she said “Embrace it!”

Embrace it…Embrace it…I thought about it over and over again. Being my age isn’t easy to embrace. Trust me. Yeah, yeah, life doesn’t always turn out the way you planned, blah, blah, blah. That’s a given. But things that brought me to this place in time are amazing events in my history. There’s so much joy along the way and so many gifts and blessings. They definitely overshadow the not-so-great things that have occurred to the point that they don’t hold a lot of relevance in the present.IMG_5073

I’ve realized that the one single most important thread that weaves through my life, strengthening it with each passing day is the love that surrounds me. The love of two of the all-time greatest daughters in the whole wide world. The love of my brother, my son-in-law, family and friends that are the very best ever. And then ultimately there are my two brand new twin grandsons who make me want to go on and live as long as I can hope for and reach decade after decade so I can watch them grow and see the promise of their lives unfold. For them my cup runneth over with so much love in a gushy-heart new kind of way that can’t be explained. In the past during times of trial I used to question how much more I could take; now I know I can take anything life has to offer as long as I have this love that surrounds me like a warm, fuzzy blanket…with threads of new and old intertwining…to keep me strong on the journey of where my life leads me.

So cheers to me…Happy 60th. There, I’ve said it! It’s out! Embrace it!!!

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NOW IS YOUR ONCE UPON A TIME

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I have a weakness for fairy tales and magical adventures, especially the Cinderella kind. You know, the once upon a time where you wish upon a star and your dreams come true as you live happily ever after. Of course, life doesn’t always turn out that way, does it?! For some, maybe; for most, not so much. So the other day when I saw a little girl wearing a bright purple tee-shirt with this exact logo, “NOW IS YOUR ONCE UPON A TIME” it touched my heart and questioned my perspective on how to live life. It was an in my face dare kind of moment and one which everyone should heed.images5QQR0VZ6

I write this especially as a bit of free advice to all the fresh-faced, eager June graduates who are just starting out on their journey. (And, oh, how I envy you and wish I could do it over!) These things I have found to be true since I have moved back to the stern of the boat of life. The truth is you have to create your own storybook life. Your own once upon a time. You have to aggressively chase your dreams. It doesn’t just happen like in the fairy tales. You can’t just wait around wishing upon a star for, say, the perfect job to fall into your lap. You can’t make a better life for yourself if you stay locked up in that ivory tower scrubbing floors waiting for your fairy godmother to free you or for Prince Charming to come along. You have to awake from your slumber and rethink eating apples from strangers. You have to be bold enough to take that trip down the rabbit hole and discover a new wonderland. Face it, no one’s going to find your lost glass slipper and rescue you.

As you graduate, remember that today is the day your story begins. Right now. And the beauty of it is that each you get a chance to continue your story or begin anew. Keep trying and keep reinventing yourself. Remember that no one else will do it for you. At some point, fate will step in and see you through. And don’t get me wrong, I still believe in fairy tales but in a proactive kind of way.

You can still wish upon a star but be willing to reach up and grab it. If you lose your glass slipper, search until you find it, no matter how long it takes. Kiss the frog; stand up against the dragons and don’t be afraid to walk through the forest alone. Dare to dream but actively work as hard as you can to make your own wishes come true. Hopefully, your once upon a time will have a storybook ending and you’ll live happily ever after!

I’ll Love You Forever

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It’s a cold and rainy night, the wind is howling, and I’m feeling kind of lonely. I sit cuddled up in my easy chair with Bella trying to entice me to throw her ball as my cat purrs peacefully by my side. I have a lot on my mind…more changes…all good. I’m a little apprehensive since there is fear in the unknowing, especially change you don’t see coming. Not a fan. But the changes I see coming are exciting, so I’m anxious in a good way.

I received a gift today from a friend…two baby books and a grandmother brag book. Yes, my baby is having a baby…two in fact! Twin boys…twice the love! I’m so excited I can hardly contain myself. One of the gifts was a book called “Love You Forever,” by Robert Munsch. photo2 It’s about a little boy who goes through the stages of childhood and becomes a man. It’s also about the enduring nature of parents’ love and how it crosses generations (this, by the way, is the description on the liner). I used to read this book to my girls when they were little. I always cried because it’s kind of sad in a way, especially if you picture yourself as the mom who is growing old. As I read, my younger daughter Megan used to watch me intently waiting for me to cry. I can still see her beautiful blue eyes peering up at me from her round, cherub face, rosy cheeks, blonde pigtails bound high on her head. Now she is having babies of her own. My heart aches tonight for that little girl.

The other night my older daughter Katie curled up next to me in my chair like she used to do when she was a little girl, telling me about something on her mind. I thought about how I missed the nearness of her. I miss the warmth and comfort when all three of us cuddled up and read. Now they are all grown. I just don’t know where the time goes.

In a few short weeks I’ll be holding my precious little grandsons. I’m imaging what they’ll look like, how big they’ll be, the sounds they’ll make. I’m praying all goes well and trusting in God for all good things. I’m wondering how my life will change for the better with the arrival of these precious bundles from heaven. I try not to think too far into the future because I want to enjoy each day and not fret about how fast the time will go before they are grown. I tell my daughter to cherish each moment with them, especially infancy, which will go by in a wink of an eye. I’m already trying to slow time down before they are even here. I’m looking forward to the liveliness of new life, and the joy they’ll bring. The new, fresh air they’ll breathe into our family. I’m so excited!!

But for now I’ll just sit back and relax as I await the new arrivals. I’ll hold my girls close in my heart as I read:

I’ll love you forever,

I’ll like you for always,

As long as I’m living

My baby you’ll be.

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EVERYTHING WILL BE ALL RIGHT IN THE END

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I’m a quote-aholic. I can’t help but think when I hear something poignant, that the universe must be talking to me.

Take, for instance, this afternoon. It’s just another cold winter’s day on a lazy Sunday afternoon. I’m trying to learn how to relax, which has never been part of my nature. So after spending most of the morning running around, going to the park with Bella, etc., etc., I force myself to sit and watch a movie mindlessly, but instead, start to write this blog. Far be it from me to sit and do nothing. 🙂

imagesThe movie is one of seen a number of times…“The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.” It is about a group of older people who travel to India to live out the rest of what’s left of their lives. Each has a story of growing older, feeling useless in retirement, feeling unlovable through divorce, feeling tossed aside, washed out, used up. They’re hoping that India will be a place for them to make a new life with what’s left of theirs.

The movie is chock full of quotes, life lessons and the stuff that makes you rethink everything you’re doing in your own life. I am impacted again and again throughout the two hours of a movie so beautiful and idealistic that I want to cry.

And so, I’d like to share these treasures with you:imagesA9HVHVMQ

  • Can we be blamed because we feel like we’re too old too change? Too scared of disappointment to start it all again?
  • We must get up in the morning and do our best. Nothing else matters.
  • Nothing happens unless we first dream.
  • There is no past that we can bring back by longing for it. Only a present that builds and creates itself as the past withdraws.
  • The only real failure is the failure to try.
  • He who risks nothing; does nothing; has nothing. What you could have done should have been more than nothing.
  • Don’t you know that you can have anything you want? You just have to stop waiting for someone to tell you that you deserve it.
  • Initially you’re overwhelmed, but gradually you realize it’s like a wave. Resist and you’ll be knocked over. Dive into it, and you’ll swim out the other side.
  • The measure of success is how we deal with disappointment.
  • Your future will be different. Your fear is that it will be the same.
  • What’s the use of a marriage when nothing is shared?
  • Most things don’t work out. But sometimes what happens instead is the good stuff.
  • I know you’re off you game…lost your footing…lost your confidence maybe. But you are a thorobred. You’ll be back.
  • When someone dies, you think about your own life. And I don’t want to grow older. I don’t want to be condescended to. To become marginalized and ignored by society. I don’t want to be the first person they let off the plane in a hostage crisis.
  • Don’t just cope…thrive.
  • If I can stand on my own two feet, so can you.
  • Prepare to be amazed. Take my offer of a vision of the future.
  • Celebrate change.

And my favorite:

  • Everything will be all right in the end. If it’s not all right, then it’s not yet the end.

Take just one quote (or all of them!) to heart and let it/them settle in and take root as you journey through this labyrinth called life. All will be well in the end.

FOLLOW YOUR HEART…THERE’S LESS TRAFFIC

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0208141143Follow your heart…there’s less traffic. I saw a flag the other day with this aphorism imprinted upon it, and it seemed like an apropos thought to ponder on Valentine’s Day.

How many of you have actually followed your heart?  Me?  Not so much. I got caught up in the whirlwind notion of love and took a detour. I thought I was in love, but things eventually changed, and I spent most of my days wanting and needing more. I now know that he wasn’t the one.  Maybe I was lazy…or lonely…or thought it would eventually work out and be great.  But it wasn’t. Not following my heart was quite a big mistake, and I’ve often wished that I’d gone down the proverbial road less traveled.

Why is there less traffic when you follow your heart? Because that road is yours and yours alone.  It’s your journey…your choices…your twists…your turns…your destiny.  If you follow your heart without listening to all the noise and opinions from others around you and what they think you should or should not do or where you should turn or pull off, then you’re left to discover your own path. I don’t really think many people are brave enough to do just that. That’s just my take.

It requires a lot of time and effort to actively pursue what you want in order to get exactly what you need.  Sometimes you settle for what comes along instead of finishing the journey to see what you really set out to find.  You think you are happy and that it’s enough.  But usually it’s not, and you end up yearning for more…more romance…more excitement…more compatibility…more…more…more. Never satisfied…always restless.

Does the total notion of being crazy, wildly, passionately in love with the right person really exist?  Yes.  Absolutely.  I’ve seen people who’ve nailed it. I know they are the lucky ones who traveled down that road of their very own where there’s less traffic and listened only to their own heart. They are the ones who shut their ears to the Negative Nancy’s and Naysayers. It’s not an easy trip; in fact it’s a hard and lonely expedition. But what you find in the end is well worth the journey.

Happy Valentine’s Day to those of you who have finished their trek and are contently happy with their destination. And to those of you have taken a wrong turn or two but have found their way back to the highway of their heart’s desire, I wish you fortitude to stay the course until what you seek is finally found.

P.S. I bought myself the flag as a reminder to stay the course 🙂

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