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Saturday, July 26, 2014

Fear and all its unruly children are just mental constructs

You know how they say all emotions are either born of love or born of fear? By that reasoning, the anxiety I'm feeling this morning is fear-based, though I'm not really clear what it is I fear on this bright, balmy Saturday. Essentially nothing is different today than it was yesterday, though I miss my husband and son, who have gone ahead to Antigua where the funeral arrangements for my husband's father are proceeding. My husband and his brother sat with my son on a beach the first evening, the three of them sipping beers and watching the sunset and reminiscing about their father and grandfather. There were so many good stories and warm laughs. It made me happy to think of my son with his father and uncle, the three of them on a beach as night slipped in, toasting the one who gave them life and was their best example of what it means to be a good and loving man.

Someone I profiled for a magazine sent me flowers this week. She was really happy about the story. I opened my door one morning and there it was, a long box with a cobalt blue mason jar vase that I just love, and unopened buds inside. I've been photographing them daily because I am alone in the house, and it is unnaturally tidy and quiet, because the news of the world blaring from the TV was giving me a stomach ache so I turned it off and am burying my sorry heart in the sand and all the while the flowers on the table are unfolding with vibrant color and life, so we are having a conversation, at least until tomorrow when my girl arrives and the world will right itself and my emotions will be love-based, and we will fly to Antigua to join the men and the rest of the family under a cobalt blue beach sky.







Thursday, July 24, 2014

Flight plans

I am in a perfect storm of details related to my aunt's estate and the selling of her apartment and staving off bank foreclosure on her reverse mortgage, and what to do with all the perfectly good furniture in there which no one has space for, not her daughter or her granddaughter, and definitely not me in my little three-bedroom apartment that has already absorbed my mother's things. I'd hate to see Aunt Winnie's stuff go into a dumpster. Maybe someone at the church around the corner can use it, and there's an idea, we should check into that, even though those who will need it most won't be able to afford to move it, so we'll need to figure that out, too. It's all logistics and timing now that the will has been probated. We need to get the apartment cleared out so the painters can come in so we can sell it in a timely fashion and pay off the bank and hope there is enough left for her daughter and grandchildren and great grands so we can carry out her wishes.

In the midst of all this I am making flight arrangements for my girl to fly home from Chicago and for the two of us to fly to Antigua. My husband and son left this morning and are already there. I stayed back to travel with my daughter who will have to leave her internship a week early in order to attend her grandfather's funeral. We won't talk about the cost of all this because I am doing my thing where I tell myself the universe is plastic and all of this will work out somehow and we will cover the thousands of dollars in airfare and thousands more in funeral expenses, and (don't laugh) I've pasted a little post it on my desk that says "Money comes to me frequently and easily," and let's all manifest that, shall we?

The most exciting thing in my world is that my girl will soon be home and we will travel to Antigua together and she is the most wonderful traveling companion (so is my son), so there is that to look forward to. Then in two weeks we will travel to Jamaica to see my mom, just the kids and me, and I hope she lasts a while longer because I couldn't stand to lose her right now. Every death brings back all the others, and my father in law's death brings back the loss of my own dad, and Aunt Winnie just a couple months gone, and all the old ones inching out the door, and me hoping and praying they do a little cha cha and take their time. And I'm really a little incoherent and scattered right now, trying to keep all the details straight and the to do lists attended to, so I might not be here as much as usual, or else I might.

But hey. This sweetheart is coming home. That's enough to lift any heart.




Sunday, July 20, 2014

Butterfly Garden


We will be traveling soon, and I'm not sure how much I'll be able to post here. We will see. I do want to say thank you for your condolences on the passing of my father-in-law, for whom both my husband and my son are named. He was a good and generous husband, father, son, brother, uncle, friend, my husband's lifelong inspiration for what it means to be a man. Now, his family will endeavor to send him off in the manner he deserves. That's a butterfly garden my husband and I passed by on the walk we took last evening.


Saturday, July 19, 2014

Now they are together, whole and strong, and they understand everything


My husband's dad, my children's grandfather, died this morning. He had been in the hospital for the past few days, getting weaker. My wonderful father-in-law was a giant among men, one of the finest souls I have ever known, everyone's favorite as his sister said. He was my husband's hero to the end, with his big resounding laugh that never failed to get you laughing, too. I always felt as if God was in that laugh, which is to say, Love was in that laugh. Now he is reunited with his beloved, and I like to think of them up there in the blue radiance, showering grace and light on us all.


Thursday, July 17, 2014

We all know


"What is really happening when we feel the ache? What is it we truly want? ...

"There is no fulfillment in it. No meaning. No luminosity. No joy. No love.

'This ache is loneliness. This ache is boredom. It is the sadness we cannot shake. The anger we're trying to hide. The fear that grips us in our solitude. The insecurity, anxiety and stress tightly wound into a ball lodged in our solar plexus that demands release. We crave something authentic. And yet we reach for its opposite. A band-aid. A balm.

"What would happen if instead we simply sat and felt the ache? What would happen if we stopped running? No one has ever died of this ache. You are not alone. We all feel it. We all know. The ache is like a knock at the door. We look through the peephole and don't recognize the stranger waiting on the other side. We're frightened. What will happen if we open the door, if we let the stranger in? What we don't realize is this: The stranger is not a stranger. The stranger is us. The stranger is a part that we have shunned, cast off. The part we need to embrace in order to once again make ourselves whole.

"Consider the ache as an awakening."


From Discovering Your Soul Signature by Desai Panache
Photo of porch by Acestyles

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Friends



"If you ask me how long I'll be your friend, my answer will be, I don't know, 'cause I really don't know which one is longer. FOREVER or ALWAYS?"

(I just like the picture.)

Common Ground


An old friend from college reached out to me on Facebook. We were close during freshman year and always sympatico but we long ago lost touch. He fell in love with and married a woman from our then circle right after graduation and they have lived happily ever after. Their girls are now grown, the older one married. He and his wife went to Chicago for the weekend and they went dancing, he said. He wrote: "It helps to do things like this sometimes. It makes me feel as if I am still alive."

As if I am still alive.

I read once that it is important for couples to do new things together, that experiencing the mutually unfamiliar with another person bonds you. But my husband doesn't have much time for extracurriculars lately. He goes to work, goes to meetings, comes home and just wants to crash. Meanwhile I've been at home working all day and I'm ready to get out the house. We're a little out of sync over here. I'm not complaining, just taking in what is.

For the moment, my husband is very involved with our little church in transition. They are seeking a new minister, and as senior warden, my husband is helping to push that big stone up the mountain. I am not much of a church person though I do chat often with my higher power and I definitely like the concept of guardian angels. But I've just never been that church-every-Sunday-join-the-committees kind of soul. He is.

He has meetings most nights of the week and is on community boards and is very much keeping that little neighborhood church with its many needy souls humming along. His vestry managed to organize the fundraising and renovation of the beautiful but crumbling house that will serve as the rectory for the new minister. It is a city landmark building, which meant additional hoops to jump through in the renovation. But they did it. At the start it seemed an impossibly huge task for a poor little church whose basement gets flooded every time there is a hard rain, so that the undocumented homeless who shelter there come evening have to move their cots into the sanctuary. But somehow, they got it done. I am so impressed. They had the final walk through just last night.

Also last night, in a soaking rain, my husband was pumping water out the basement along with the resident jack-of-all-trades who is also the mail clerk—a lot of homeless people get their mail at the church. And now, after three years of what is called "appreciative inquiry" they are on the verge of hiring a new priest. I think it must be very satisfying to know that without your efforts the whole enterprise might have collapsed. I'm proud of him for the way he has stood in the breach for the various constituencies of the church, the people who sit on the steps all day because they have nowhere else to be, the recovered and recovering addicts, the homeless and the ex-cons who found religion, the college educated liberals with a passion for social justice, the former 60s radicals, the elders in search of community, the musicians and artists and activists, the people of all colors and persuasions who have found a place to belong. In many ways, my husband is their common ground, the one they can all relate to, the one who can translate the various and often competing concerns among the different groups.

Where was I going with this? What am I really saying here?

That I need occupation beyond my work. I need my own cause.

So I can feel as if I'm still alive.


Monday, July 14, 2014

The Brothers Scott


Ever watched the two tall drinks of water known as The Property Brothers? Twins Drew and Jonathan Scott transform horrific fixer uppers into lucky people's dream homes. There are certainly worse background accompaniments to a morning of editing a manuscript about reclaiming one's dreams. This morning I worked along with Drew and Jonathan, looking up only occasionally until the moment of the big reveal, at which point I put down my pen so I could properly salivate over the open concept interiors they had put together. Always open concept, the HGTV buzz words, along with stainless steel backsplashes and granite counter-top kitchen islands and double vanity bathrooms and rain head showers and flowing hard wood floors. And then I come back to reality, to my own open concept living area and kitchen with scuffed maple floors, which is hardly what people are talking about when they describe their fantasy space to the Property Brothers. The show takes place only in Canada, of course. Everything would be way too expensive to undertake here. But a girl can dream.


Saturday, July 12, 2014

Something about this picture


I see the little girl face hiding right there in plain sight in the grown up face with the black eyeliner, the 20-year-old concentration. Gosh, I miss this girl.


And here's another snap, this one from back in the day. Just because. (I won't go into it because in the mood I'm in, I might cry. Suffice it to say, it all goes way too fast.)

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Tilt and whirl


I'm wrestling with myself. I'm supposed to go and meet someone for drinks tonight, a person I have worked with but never met in the flesh, a lovely and funny woman over the phone, with a fascinating life story. I like her very much, and yet the introvert in me wants so badly to cancel, or at least postpone, even though I know I need to show up.

I'm not socially inept. I manage just fine once I do actually arrive but the agita associated with scheduled activities other than meeting already known friends or associates or anonymous communities (such as the co-working space), leaves me ruminating all day on how I might avoid the occasion, even when I know the grown up thing to do is just go.

Why is showing up so hard for me? What, really, is the source of the physical and spiritual anxiety I feel when faced with putting myself out there? Why is showing up so deeply uncomfortable to contemplate? Shouldn't I have grown beyond this by now?


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