My Favorite Things

I responded to a friend’s internet challenge, to post a list 3 positive things a day. When another friend started as a result of my challenge, I committed to an additional seven.

Here’s the first batch of positive things, and I hope they brighten your day.

josh waiting 1

Day 1:

  1. I’m grateful to my son who mowed the yard even feeling crappy and in intense humidity — it was a pleasure to drive down the street to home.
  2. I’m happy that I knit. I could give all 21 slots with a knitting related post.layout2_r1_c2
  3. I’m with Kim that cats make me smile. The world is better place because of our feline companions.

Day 2: 

  1. My garden has given us fresh tomatoes, potatoes, and zucchini, as well as lots of Tomatoesonvine2basil.
  2. I am lucky enough to have a granddaughter.
  3. Evenings are getting cooler in Asheville–so much less need for AC, and more chance for open windows, bird song, and breeze.

Day 3:

  1. machine-bestI appreciate breathing…all through the night. I got a loaner C-PAP machine and sleeping is true rest again. What a joy!
  2. I woke early this morning, and one of the first thoughts was “what am I grateful for?” — I attribute that lovely waking to this challenge, which has re-focused my mind on the positive in life.
  3. I’m grateful for metaphoric and literal “off buttons.” There’s a time to walk away from drama and ugliness (as well as a time to act) and knowing when that it lifts a weight and frees the mind and heart. That’s a miraculous thing.
  4. –Oh, and a bonus 4) — I’m grateful it’s Friday after a good week at work.

Day 4:

  1. beautiful bird croppedBirds — when I step out my back door each time I leave the house, there are always birds there — in the trees and scrub, on the feeder, winging by. Bird song and that exquisite flash of upward wing never fail to make my own spirit soar. What a gift that is, through good and bad times, just a bird can make me smile.
  2. Jon Stewart is always guaranteed to make me laugh. He reminds me (in a good way) of my late husband, Dennis, who also could always make me laugh.
  3. barilla3Good Gluten-Free Pasta is no longer a contradiction in terms. There are several mainstream brands making gluten-free versions and this puts some old favorite dishes back on the menu.

Day 5:

  1. zen051Celebration (1)Friends! I could leave it at that, but especially the unexpected close friendships of adulthood. Good friends laugh and grieve with you, make meals, trade favors, secret jokes, and masses of understanding and acceptance. God Bless Good Friends.
  2. With said friends, we drank a bottle of cheap (3.99) red wine that was good!
  3. There’s a new produce stand in my neighborhood. An enterprising older man from the Islands, or even perhaps Africa (lovely lilting accent, gracious and warm manners) has taken a vacant building and desolate lot over — he’s put up a large roofed area and has tables and tables of beautiful fresh produce. I stopped for the first time yesterday and bought 4 tomatoes for $2! We talked about things for a bit and then he gifted me with a giant organic tomato and wished be a great evening.

Day 6:

  1. I love the way Facebook helps reveal social connections and make them visible in ways I never paid attention to before social media. The spread of this lovely challenge and the interesting variations it has taken fascinate me. Like an old-fashioned game of telephone, spreading the message changes the message and the messenger.telephone game (237x136)
  2. When I stop and think of it, I realized I have been much loved in my life — many of those have left the planet now, but the love doesn’t go away. It lives in me and my memories and I can continue it on by loving others. What beautiful magic that is!
  3. It’s Monday morning and I feel no dread or sorrow or anger at the prospect of going to work this morning and the rest of the week. That’s a blessing — if you’ve ever experienced those feelings in response to work week, you know. It’s also a privilege to have meaningful work in a pleasant setting with good co-workers. It’s one I pray every worker can have. When I center myself around the thought of how blessed I am to have that, I feel the glow of gratitude and joy seep through me and a smile spread across my face.

Day 7:

  1. Gorgeous George

    Gorgeous George

    Pretty much the whole internet agrees with me that kittens and cats are an endless source of fascination: more personality and energy packed in those springy bodies than can be contained, so it leaks out in extreme cuteness and apparent wisdom. When I need to laugh, a silly kitten attacking something harmless with such zeal can always do the trick. And isn’t it great that there’s no prescription cost, or anything….

  2. It’s the last few days of August and I’m not dreading September. Between world events and personal losses, the 9th month had assumed a pretty bad rep in my mind. This year, it’s pretty much just another month — I’m excited to see fall arriving while I mourn the loss of fresh tomatoes and basil. I see the sky lightening in the morning a few minutes later each day. But I don’t want to take to my bed with the covers over me! There’s a song “Wake Me When September Ends” that used to match my feeling, but now it’s just a song again. Since I loved September and its promise of autumn and new starts, I’m grateful to have it back.
  3. Sisters. I have only one official sister, who I love and adore and hope to continue laughing, playing, cooking, knitting, arguing and hugging for decades yet to come. I also have several sisters of the heart that joined my inner family over the years, and they too are a whole bouquet of graces.


With special thanks to Kim for starting me on this, I say with joy, And So It Is.

Stealth Healing

dennis flowersSometimes we know we’ve healed by what hasn’t happened.

Yesterday was the fifth anniversary of my husband’s death. And I didn’t grieve.

I still think about him often, still cry occasionally, miss him frequently, and love him always. But I didn’t grieve his loss yesterday. Instead, I bought flowers.

Healing is as natural as blooming and dying, and just as intense or gentle depending on the moment. Sometimes it slips upon us unawares.

Thanks Dennis, for the good and the less-good, for the happy and sad, and for the intention to love always and to strive for the best in us all.

Enjoy your flowers.

Got the Blues…

Christmas 2007

One lingering effect from my husband’s death a little over two years ago, is the loss of my love of the Christmas holiday.

Don’t get me wrong, my appreciation for the Christ (Truth) wherever and whenever I find it has not diminished. But the celebration of the Winter Holidays — the traditions: carols, the greens,  the tree, the baking, special holiday movies (I haven’t watched them again yet), making gifts, the sheer delight and burgeoning excitement — all gone.

This year, I’ve felt tiny tickles of it. Like a delicate poke at my side, a whispered, “joy to the world — remember?” from deep inside. I did a little Christmas shopping yesterday, and felt mild pleasure at getting things for people. I feel, what, convalescent?

Perhaps that is all it is. Christmas was a special time for our relationship — as it is for so many, of course. I miss the old Dennis, who entered into it all with enthusiasm. I miss the partner-in-crime at spending too much on Josh. The anticipation of surprise. The shared moments of understanding, of heartbreaking delight. I just miss…

I also trust. Joy always returns, Love is everpresent. Happiness is a choice – or rather, a continuing selection of choices that move us into the shining stream of it. So I’m choosing. Today we’ll get a tree (just a small one to start). Drag out the lights and ornaments.  Ooh and aah over them, select the right one for each spot. Put on the holiday music in the background. Eat the first batch of cookies while we work. I’ll lean into the tingles of joy, the moments of delight. I’ll accept the pain and aching empty of missing. I’ll choose to celebrate, not to mourn. And it will get better and better and better.

Happy Holidays to you … may you have joy and peace in whatever ways you celebrate at this ending of the year

Namaste,

L

Closure – finally!

Twenty-five months to the day after his death, Dennis’ estate is finally closed.

He died with $1154 in assets and it cost $1159 to take care of his cremation and probate costs. Two creditors wouldn’t release their claims inspite of a letter from me as administrator letting them know the estate was insolvent. Finally though, probate deemed they since they hadn’t responded in over a year, we could close things up.

The relief is enormous. It’s still spreading gradually through my system and my life. I had no idea that the business of death could be so deeply held inside and have so much connection to the reality and emotion of death.

Nonna used to say something that sounded like “engor” — which meant “enough,” or “finally!”  I agree.

Wake Me in October

My Father, undated

September is a really tough month for me.

The 7th was my husband Dennis’s birthday (he would have been turning 58).

My father’s birthday was the 13th. My Nonna’s the 16th, and my cousin Lisa’s was the 19th.  All gone. 

On top of that, the anniversary of my father’s death is the 18th, and it will be two years on the 20th since Dennis died.

Yikes! No wonder I just want to take a long nap.

Dennis, about 2006

Trying to Trust

zen030TrustThe card for today is called “Trust.”  Can’t you just feel the bottomless sensation?

Falling, twisting, letting go, sailing, floating… safe.  At least I hope so.

Sometimes it’s harder than I like to “lean on the sustaining infinite” (quoting Mary Baker Eddy in Science & Health), even though I think I know it will be there, supporting and upholding me.

September is a challenge:  from Dennis’ birthday on the 7th, through the 1st anniversary of his death on the 20th. In between are 9/11, then my father’s, cousin’s and my grandmother’s birthdays (all are gone), followed by my father’s death anniversary, then 2 days later the wrap-up of my first year as a widow. 

Yuck! Too much death to celebrate in one month.  Which leads, in a backways way, to me knowing, without doubt, without equivocation, that I must just lay back and trust Spirit, because I certainly can’t move through it all on my own steam.

So I take deep breaths, sit with the losses, let the peace rise up like an warming up-draft from the deep valleys of God’s love. So I float, gentle as thistledown, to a soft landing in the now. Safe, beloved, and at peace again.

And so it is.

Harmony

Zen058Harmony

Harmony

I started to say that I am wordless today, but clearly it wasn’t so.  It is Dennis’ birthday — he would have been 57. 

It’s also the anniversary of the last time I saw him.  I brought him a festive goody bag — Pepsi, snacks, tobacco, a new book, some other odds and ends. We visited but he was pretty spacey and depressed.

None of the other residents at the group home had known it was his birthday until I arrived. Then everyone wished him the best and made a friendly fuss over him.

Two weeks later he was dead.

So my own words aren’t enough today. I’m staying busy, and plan to meet friends this evening to toast the best of Dennis’ life and tell stories of the amazing man he was before mental illness struck him down.  I am grateful for the harmony I have achieved this year with the help of some amazing support people (you all know who you are, don’t you?).

Here are the words of wisdom and healing from the Osho site about the card I “drew” at random today:

Listen to your heart, move according to your heart, whatsoever the stake: A condition of complete simplicity costing not less than everything…. To be simple is arduous, because to be simple costs everything that you have. You have to lose all to be simple.That’s why people have chosen to be complex and they have forgotten how to be simple. But only a simple heart throbs with God, hand in hand. Only a simple heart sings with God in deep harmony. To reach to that point you will have to find your heart, your own throb, your own beat.

Osho Dang Dang Doko Dang Chapter 3

 Commentary:

The experience of resting in the heart in meditation is not something that can be grasped or forced. It comes naturally, as we grow more and more in tune with the rhythms of our own inner silences. The figure on this card reflects the sweetness and delicacy of this experience. The dolphins that emerge from the heart and make an arc towards the third eye reflect the playfulness and intelligence that comes when we are able to connect with the heart and move into the world from there. Let yourself be softer and more receptive now, because an inexpressible joy is waiting for you just around the corner. Nobody else can point it out to you, and when you find it you won’t be able to find the words to express it to others. But it’s there, deep within your heart, ripe and ready to be discovered.

Peace, Love and Harmony to you all – and to you Dennis, always.

Wonderful Lyrics

Music is such a grounding and transforming force!

To me, the lyrics have always been the most important part of “pop” music (from Sinatra to  the Beatles to Amazing Grace to Lou Reed…. and to whoever I’ve not even heard yet).  “Days,” written by Ray Davies (the Kinks) has been part of today’s inner soundtrack to me.  

I know the song from the Kirsty MacColl version. No surprise that it was Dennis who turned me on to Kirsty’s music.  What an amazing talent she was!  Here’s a link to the You Tube of her performing “Days”:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lOKWqtocXWs&feature=related.

Days

kirsty maccoll cover
Thank you for the days
Those endless days, those sacred days you gave me
I’m thinking of the days
I won’t forget a single day believe me

I bless the light
I bless the light that lights on you believe me
And though you’re gone
You’re with me every single day believe me

Days I’ll remember all my life
Days when you can’t see wrong from right
You took my life
But then I knew that very soon you’d leave me
But it’s alright
Now I’m not frightened of this world believe me

I wish today could be tomorrow
The night is long
It just brings sorrow let it wait

Thank you for the days
Those endless days, those sacred days you gave me
I’m thinking of the days
I won’t forget a single day believe me

Days I’ll remember all my life
Days when you can’t see wrong from right
You took my life
But then I knew that very soon you’d leave me
But it’s alright
Now I’m not frightened of this world believe me

Days

Thank you for the days
Those endless days, those sacred days you gave me
I’m thinking of the days
I won’t forget a single day believe me

I bless the light
I bless the light that lights on you believe me
And though you’re gone
You’re with me every single day believe me

Days

Deep Cleaning

02-02-09 002

Josh with rear view of George

My son Josh and I just finished a long afternoon of hard work!

I have a storage shed in my yard that hasn’t been cleaned out for several years. It was a hard job physically and emotionally.

My late husband used to stashed all the stuff he knew he should get rid of but couldn’t bear to out there…

You know how it goes: none of the boxes was meant to live out there for long. Any moment he would have gotten to them. I found vet papers for Little Miss dated January 2003. That was in one of more recent stashes.

There were piles of recorded-from-TV video tapes, coils of stereo wire and miscellaneous connectors, microphones and stands; old users’ manuals from long-gone appliances; several score of empty music cassette boxes; long missing tools, and stray household paraphernalia.

Then there were the music cassettes.

Literally hundreds of cassette tapes he recorded from the radio, from LPs and later  from CDs — all just stacked and jumbled in cardboard boxes.

I waded through the mold, spiders and dust to pull out all the tapes I could find of Dennis himself playing music. All the rest I threw away, painful though it was.

Den's Birthday w/ Josh & Alley, 2005

A happy moment on Den's Birthday, with Josh & Alley, 2005

His music though, will be lost if I don’t preserve it.

Dennis was an amazing guitarist, great songwriter and pretty fair vocalist — but he didn’t read music. He used to record himself on cassette, label the tape “me” and just put it aside!

I salvaged a couple of dozen of such cassettes among the hundreds of others: “Music from the Heart of Space” and Alan Watts talks from NPR  recorded by Dennis in the 70’s; Live and alternate mixes of Eric Clapton, The Beatles (together and singly), Peter Gabriel, David Bowie, Phoebe Snow, Brian Eno, and other greats; an array of obscure singer-songwriters; old blues guitarists, and classical “classics.”

Now, grimy, mosquito-bitten and satisfied, I’m ready to call it a night. I’m very grateful to my son for helping and for being with me today as we cleared away the last remnants of Dennis’ physical presence and lay one more piece of the past to rest.

Lunch Time Moments

I’m lucky enough to live only a mile or so from work, so I often come home for lunch.  My arrival home today was an opportunity to just marvel at some the changes these last two years have brought.

I used to come home filled with anxiety — what would I find?  Dennis’ depression was so unrelenting the last few years of his life that I often encountered a dark house, with hungry cats, dishes in the sink and silence fraught with misery.

I would be momentarily afraid he’d done it — killed himself — and would gird myself to check his room.

Dennis, Christmas 2007

Dennis, Christmas 2007

By 2007, it had grown seriously scary.

One time, I came home at lunch to find food in the bathroom sink, his tobacco rolling equipment in the refrigerator, the front door open, and the electric stove on — with a paper plate inches from the coil. 

When I found him in his room he was so out of it he didn’t know what day or year it was, and had no memory of any of his actions of the previous couple of hours.

In November of 2007, Dennis moved into a group home because it had become so clear that it wasn’t safe for him at home any longer. 

He died in his sleep September 20, 2008. 

For many years, he’d been the light of my life, and I of his.

The darkness of bipolar disorder, anxiety and various other mental and physical issues robbed us both of that long before he died.  His death finally freed us both from that despair.

patio pots, July 2009

patio pots, July 2009

So, today, I came home  for lunch and picked flowers from the garden. Leftovers are reheating in the microwave, and I’m posting these reflections.

I don’t suppose I’ll ever stop missing the Dennis I loved all those years. My best  friend, husband, and partner.

But I do know he’d be really glad I’m out there picking flowers.