Trusting In The New Year Ahead

As a child I moved constantly. My dad was an architect/ home builder and we often lived in half built houses while he finished them off and then sold them. It was a pain of course having to change schools, leaving “best” friends behind, and feeling my way during those first weeks in new schools and neighborhoods. I did it though, often missing what I’d left behind. It wasn’t until I was in highschool that I stayed in the same school with the same classmates that I finally felt I really had a home. But when I graduated I moved to Vermont with my parents and went to college there. Another new beginning. Bill and I met there, got married there, and that’s where our kids were born.

We left Vermont in 1979 and came to Virginia where we’ve been ever since. For the most part I love the weather, except for  hot and humid July and August. The rest of the year is pretty awesome though. We moved here to the Charlottesville area in 1985. Since then we have moved three times within this community. Each place we have landed was perfect for us at the time and when we needed something new we moved on.

We’re still in Charlottesville and continue loving it. The new home we moved into in November is perfect for us right now. We’ve been able to simplify and find that aging is easier than it would have been in the lovely home we recently left. This place is smaller, better organized, and easier to take care of. And we continue to still have the friends we made here.

We’re still getting settled, but we’re warm and cozy and enjoying the array of birds at our new birdfeeder. Even the resident blue birds come to feed. I’ve never had them come to a seed feeder before. When summer comes I’ll be offering them meal worms to keep them around. Our aging kitty, Lilliput, is now an indoor cat and is no longer a threat to the avian and rodent communities around us.

All of us have just moved into a new year. There will be more fresh starts and adventures ahead. What are you hoping for in 2018? What will bring all of us joy during the next 12 months? What will we bring with us that will sustain us during possible trials ahead?

I’m bringing TRUST as my word for the coming days and continue to work with last years word, PAUSE, which I still need to work on. I trust that the days ahead will be filled with love, kindness and ease. I hope to continue to pause when life gets tough, remembering all of the things that I am so grateful for … including family, friends, and you, my followers.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

The Word for 2017

When you see the light stop and take another deep breath.

When you see the light, stop and take another deep brea

Wow, Happy New Year!  Where does the time go?

We’ve all had people tell us, “Life ain’t easy.” And all of us would like to escape the pain and anxiety brought on by that thing called life, especially those things that we have no control over. We constantly struggle to set things straight and keep our hearts from aching. We cling to the past, take revenge, utter nasty words, give those who disparage us the finger, and maybe worse. Loss, illness, rejection,the political situation in our country and the world, can send of us off into a state of rage, depression, and angst that keeps chewing at us until there is little of us left. We give up, slam a door behind us, climb into our caves, and rant to ourselves and anyone else who will listen.

One of those things I have always struggled with, especially in the last couple of months, is my reactivity. Like when someone says something nasty or critical to me or someone I care about. Or when another driver parks his or her car in the spot I’ve been trying to get into for the last 15 minutes. Or when I’m on a six hour flight and am seated next to a screaming toddler and a parent who doesn’t know how to handle her child. I can also be triggered by certain words, people who look like other people who have been abusive, and certain public figures.

Too often I embarrass myself with snide remarks, critical push back,  nasty looks, or sighs that can only mean I’m pissed off. While I experience brief satisfaction in doing those things, it never lasts. I break down in tears because I’ve made such an ass of myself, along with feeling a deep sense of shame. None of that does anything for my sense of self-esteem.

You’d think that after living with my mother for seven years and writing a book about it, that I’d be an expert at pausing before putting my foot in my mouth. But being as human as anyone else, I tend to forget what I’ve learned. I’m always amazed  how certain issues we thought we were done with rear their ugly heads somewhere down the road, reminding us that we’re truly never done.

So once again I’m planning to seriously work on this problem by relearning to PAUSE before I react.  If I can count to ten, take several deep breaths before I say a word, or take a quick time out, perhaps I can tame my wild feelings.

So I’m saying,“whoa,” to myself. I’ve chosen PAUSE as my word for 2017, in hopes of leaving that ugly part of myself behind. I’ve made little signs as reminders to stop and breathe. I’ve taped them in places where I’ll see them every day. There is one at the bottom of my computer screen, and one on the mirror in my bathroom.

I also plan to take time to pause in other areas of my life. It will help  me to stop and rest when I’m feeling exhausted and overwhelmed.
And perhaps the PAUSE sign on the refrigerator help tame my appetite after having spent the last two months overindulging in the season’s fabulous food.

Do you take time to pause before reacting to a difficult situation?

Have you chosen a word for this New Year?

Taking Time Out

After the Rain, December 1, 2016

After the Rain, December 1, 2016

This is what I wrote in my Newsletter on December 1st. I’m passing it on to you, my blog readers, so that you’ll know that I won’t be posting for the rest of this month.

Oh my gosh, it’s December 1st, and with Thanksgiving and all the holiday preparations, I haven’t written anything ahead of time for this newsletter as I usually do.

I do have news, though. And that is that I’ve decided to take the month of December off from the internet. I will not post any blog posts until January. I’ve gotten overwhelmed and lost in the drama and emotional results of the election. I need time to find myself again and reconnect with my muse and spirit. I want to concentrate on positive things and prepare myself should political holy hell break loose after the inauguration.

I will be checking my emails and reading blog posts, and if something of interest shows up, especially on writing and books, I’ll post it on my author page on Facebook and on Twitter. I will send my next newsletter of January 1st, and my first blog post of 2017 on January 3rd.

I send you warm wishes for a peaceful and happy holiday season, and may the New Year bring us all together so that our world will be a gentle place where we can all live in love, safety and peace.

“We’re always in some kind of mood. It might be sadness, it might be anger, it might be not much of anything, just a kind of blur. It might be humor or contentment. In any case, whatever it is, that’s the path.

When something hurts in life, we don’t usually think of it as our path or as the source of wisdom. In fact, we think that the reason we’re on the path is to get rid of this painful feeling. In this way, we naively cultivate a subtle aggression against ourselves. However, the fact is that anyone who has used the moments, days, and years of his or her life to become wiser, kinder, and more at home in the world has learned from what’s happening right now. We can aspire to be kind right in the moment, to relax and open our heart and mind to what is in front of us right in the moment. Now is the time. If there’s any possibility for enlightenment, it’s right now, not at some future time.” -Pema Chodron

We writers count of reviews of our books as a way spread the word and get our thoughts and feelings out into the world. If you have read or are about to read my book, SCATTERING ASHES, A Memoir of Letting Go, please leave an honest review of it on Amazon. It’s very easy to do, and can be just a few words. I’d really appreciate it.

Promise And Possibility

Doing simple knee exercises in the kitchen.

Doing simple knee exercises in the kitchen.

It’s mid-January in a brand-spanking new year and oh my, I smell promise and possibility in the air. The aroma of pine left over from the holidays is gone. In it’s place is a freshness I haven’t been aware of since Bill started having knee problems eleven months ago when he was rehearsing for a role in a local production of the Fantastiks. Because of his pain he had to give up his role at the very last minute. Needless to say it was a big disappointment for my Sweet William, and 2015 became The Year of the Knee filled with frequent long waits in doctor’s offices with little to show for it.

After a week at the Duke University Diet and Fitness Center in Raleigh, North Carolina, last August, it became undeniably apparent that the knee would need to be replaced. At seventy-five years of age, Bill had never been in a hospital except to be born and as a tiny kid to have his tonsils out. So for him, spending time in a hospital and being cut open was a frightening prospect. October and November found us checking out two surgeons who came highly recommended, one at UVA Medical Center and the other at our new, private, award-winning hospital, named for Thomas Jefferson’s wife, Martha.

We made appointments with both doctors and saw the one at UVA first. Even though Bill really wanted to go with Dr. Swanson at Martha Jefferson, he signed up for a December first surgery date at UVA because the pain was getting worse and interfering with his ability to be completely involved in his life. We also knew that getting a surgery date in the near future with Dr. Swanson would be difficult because of her sterling reputation.

But in early November we saw Dr. Swanson and even though the earliest surgery date she could give Bill was in late January, there was no question as to who would do the surgery. Dr. Swanson, is known for her success with replacing knees and how quickly her patients get back to living life to the fullest. Because she doesn’t cut any muscle, and the knee replacement parts are custom made for each person, there is less time spent in the OR than there would have been had he gone to UVA. As the holidays approached and Bill was having more difficulty than ever moving around, and Dr. Swanson’s team called with a new date: January 4th.

We arrived at the hospital at 7 AM on that given day. In the OR at 10 AM, Bill was awake and in his room by 1:30 PM. Bill was smiling and relieved when I found him in his room. That afternoon he walked to the bathroom with the aid of a walker and nurse. The next day, he took a good walk down the hall, before participating in an hour-and-a-half long physical therapy session. He did all of that again in the afternoon and afterwards was told he could go home. Exhausted, he decided to wait until the following day, and after repeating the same two PT classes came home to his own bed the next afternoon.

A visiting nurse came once a day for three days to check his wound and a physical therapist came for seven days to keep him moving. Last Wednesday when that service ended he went out for physical therapy and greatly impressed the therapist, with whom he’d checked in before surgery. He’ll be doing that twice a week for several more weeks. At home he’s moving about the house with a cane, but still uses his walker when he goes out. The therapist said that he’s doing great and that maybe he’d be driving sooner rather than later. Watch out world. This guy has been down for almost a year. The places he will go!

I’m doing well, and happy to be getting back into a routine in my studio. PTSD comes back to haunt me now and again when I’m stressed and this occasion was no exception. Memories of my mother’s hospital visits and her behavior colored my thinking. But now at least I know what is happening and know what I have to do in order to stay on the bright side of things.

I’m back to posting my usual Tuesday morning blogs again, along with a newsletter on February first. The book is in good hands. I’ve selected the cover and will reveal it later when everything is completely certain. I plan on revamping my website and finishing the filing of extraneous papers that are still sitting around in various piles around the studio.

In the meantime I’m enjoying the very early blooming of the beautiful hellebores in myIMG_0094 garden and taking walks in the neighborhood earlier in the morning as the days lengthen. My sympathetic knee pain is gone and with Bill being a Super Hero and doing most things for himself again, I returned to pilates and yoga classes this week. I also had a massage.

Even with all the cold and possible snow later in the week, Spring is on its way. The best is yet to come!

Wishes For A Mindful New Year!

IMG_0009Once more the year has rolled into its final week. Like everyone else, I anticipate what’s to come as the New Year begins? Who will be our next President? Will the wars in the Middle East spread further and further? And what will our country’s role be in trying to find peace? Will cold weather finally arrive and bring with it snow or freezing rain destroying these tiny gems I photographed on the day after Christmas?

There are also very personal wonderings. How will Bill’s knee replacement surgery go? Will my daughter’s fight with lyme disease finally be over and will she return to perfect health? Will I sell tons of books when my retitled memoir, SCATTERING ASHES, A Memoir of Letting Go, is published on September 20th? Yes, you heard that right, a new title which I think works oh so much better. And yes, it will be available on September 20, 2016.

Every December I choose a word to carry me through the next year, as a reminder of what is most important as I travel down the path I’ve chosen. As this past year has slipped by, I’ve found myself falling back into an old pattern that makes me extremely uncomfortable when I allow it to take over my thoughts.

Its name is Worry. I’m afraid that my predisposition for getting worked up over things has taken over my thought process and kicked mindfulness out the door. As a result, I spend too much time imagining what might happen to me, my family, or the world. I’ve also found myself kicking myself in the butt for mistakes I’ve made in the past and my sometimes pissy behavior.

Worry and Regret are not things I want to  carry around with me. So I’m going back to a word that has never been on my list of New Year Words, but is most important in that it has helped me in the past and will help ease my way through the coming months with a bit of sanity.

If I can bring back being MINDFUL during the next 365 days, I will be very pleased with myself.

I think it will take some work to be present in each and every moment, so it won’t be particularly easy or happen over night. And perhaps it shouldn’t be a New Years Word at all. Maybe it’s a Rest Of My Life Word. But I think all New Year Words do that eventually anyway. Or so I hope.

In the last week, I’ve started rereading, When Things Fall Apart, by Pema Chodron. It’s one of her greatest, though all of her books are. It certainly is apt as I observe the state of our world right now. This particular book has helped me through some of the worst years of my life. Her encouraging words reach into my heart, helping to release my unease.

I want to be more appreciative of all of the good things, like those beautiful, little daffodils in the photo at the top of this page that don’t usually bloom here in December. Or these funny Halloween pumpkins that turned intoIMG_0006 something otherworldly by the end of November. They seem fossilized. Very out of season, they make me smile when I pass by them on my walks.

Today, I’m trying to be present NOW. It’s all I’ve really got. Those mistakes and bad behaviors I mentioned earlier happened in the past. Why run them through the wringer one more time?

As for the future, it hasn’t happened yet. For right now, I’ll concentrate on typing these words while I listen to robins singing happily outside in leafless trees. Later, on my way to lunch, I’ll notice the fine mist that is falling and how it gently settles on my hair.

What are your reflections on the coming year and what is it you want most to happen?

 

I’ll be taking a break from posting here for the next few weeks
so that I can be present for Bill as he begins recovering from his surgery 
scheduled on January 4th. 
Please send along prayers and healing thoughts.
They are greatly appreciated.

My monthly Newsletter will be published as usual on January 1st,
and is the story of how I became a writer.  Subscribe to it at the top
right hand side of this page to have it delivered to your email address.

I’ll be back here on my blog on January 19th.

Happy New Year to All!