Category Archives: change

13 Months: Through The Looking Glass (Reflections on entering the 2nd year.)

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The 21st is a hard date to face each month. A month ago I was standing on the other side, the Looking Glass in front of me, looking over my shoulder at the first year, my past, hesitating to step through to my future, but really, what choice did I have? I can’t live in the past, with regrets, and wishes don’t make the future a reality. So, I stepped through and I find myself here, on the other side, insecure in my uncharted territory with a million decisions to make and myself the ultimate consultant.

I am fine most of the time, well maybe ¾ of the time, as long as I stick to my routine. The decisions are hard, the weekends can be hard but I’ve gotten used to the nights. I’m fine and some of the time I even enjoy the time alone, to think, to write, answering to only myself. I have a home that stays clean, food that I like to eat in my refrigerator and half as much laundry to do each week. I’ve almost stopped waiting for someone to come home.

It is different here, on the other side of the Looking Glass. The world looks different and feels more uncertain, but I am trying to create a landing pad, a place to feel at home and friends to share some good times with. I am making different memories while struggling to keep the old memories alive, the good ones, the laughter, and the adventures shared. This side of the Glass has a long road stretching out ahead and I am traveling light, taking only what holds memories, is beautiful or needed, letting go of so much. Not just hopes and dreams, but also the weight of all that is carried through a lifetime.

A Looking Glass is for looking through, but once I’m through it, I can look forward and while I can’t see too far down the path, I can see a day at a time. I can plan a day at a time. I can live a day at a time, with gratitude that I have these days and that I have this path to walk on. I am fine, most of the time, but having the support of my family and friends is the buoy keeping me afloat. You’re asking, me answering, I’m fine most of the time. Thanks for asking.

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Filed under change, choice, death, grief, hurdles, Life thoughts

Metamorphosis

                                Last Spring

 

Last year, in the spring, my favorite time of year, I was shocked into retreat. I became a small newborn shell of the person I was, lost and stagnant and felt like a little caterpillar egg, waiting to hatch and to become something new and different. My prior life was suddenly gone and I had no frame of reference, so, I stayed in the safety of my egg, waiting.

 

After a few weeks I came out of my egg, more by force than by choice. There was nothing else to do but to emerge, look around and see what I was facing, so I did. I began to look for familiar things, yoga, the beach, work of course and the children. I looked for friends and family and for ways to occupy myself. I resided in the familiar, but everything was different now.

                         Starting to Bloom

As small as a caterpillar, I crawled along, nibbling from the familiar and attempting to try a few unfamiliar things too. I traveled alone, I traveled with my daughters and I connected to everyone I could. I found out who my true friends were-the ones who stuck around and cared. I rediscovered the importance of family and traditions and I found joy in my new granddaughter. I wrote more, read a lot, found strong roots in feminism and awareness.

I grew and became more than the small egg and more than a small caterpillar crawling along alone; I became bigger. I was still me, with my sadness, insecurities, and fear of this new, unknown life and though I had new experiences that felt good, the winter brought cold and darkness and it was hard to find any light. I retreated.

 

I spent the winter in the cocoon of my routine, the security of my home with cozy fires and getting inside out of the darkness. I spent weekend mornings in the safety of my flannel sheets and most nights with the company of the television. I waited for Gary to walk through the door but of course he didn’t. I stared at his collection of cars, his clothes and it seemed surreal, the magnified sadness of the winter only kept at bay by keeping busy.

Then, last week, the rain stopped and I saw the first lupines and poppies blooming in the Canyon. The birds once again wake me with their songs and sit on the wires in pairs, some building nests in the lavender bushes. The hills are lush green from the heavy winter rains and the trees are filled with buds. I feel comfortable beginning to nibble my way out of the cocoon, or at least a bit of the way out. I am not quite ready to emerge, my wings still wet and new, but I can imagine flying.

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Filed under change, death, grief, Life thoughts, writing

Sixty-five

         Perseverance can pay off.

Sixty-five is a monumental year for most. In years past, it used to be the time to retire, but no one retires these days. It’s a year that means senior discounts begin, and Medicare. The brochures arrive daily, advertising Medicare options, reminders that it is time to enroll, and encouraging offers from the Neptune Society. None of it is needed now.

March 3rd, the day Gary would have been sixty-five and now, in the year of firsts it’s the first time we haven’t celebrated his birthday.

Sixty-five used to seem old, but somehow, it doesn’t seem that old anymore. I am nowhere near retiring, in a way; I am just starting out again. During this year of firsts, there are more than just holidays to contend with, there are the first time experiences like negotiating a new car deal and even though I ended up getting help from a friend’s broker, I felt confident, thanks to years of listening to Gary talk about the car business, talking the car talk and was clear about what I wanted.

There is the first time tax preparation, gathering the documents, touching every page. There is the feeling of pride when I am told I am an “accountant’s dream.” I’ve always been organized and learned a few years back to understand finances enough to make sense of my life.

This was going to be the year we started planning our travels, a year we would enjoy the rewards of our years of work. This was supposed to be the beginning of the golden years, but there are a lot of things that aren’t fair these days. In this time of discrimination, deportation and deceit there are people fighting for equality, fighting for health care and fighting for opportunity.

This is a time of broken dreams and broken hearts. Our hearts ache for loss, but also for the hate that seeps into the unnoticed cracks, the hate that is dismissed and ignored and the cruelty seemingly “normal” people subliminally inflict on others. I’m more sensitive to the broken-hearted and the fearful now.

I am starting out again on a path that I selfishly feel is my own, but a path that many others walk alone with me.

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Life Goes On

fullsizerender-28It’s been nine months since Gary died and as I woke up early yesterday to get ready for the Women’s March in Los Angeles, I thought about how much has changed in these nine months. The 21st day of each month is a reminder that life can change in a moment, with a phone call in the middle of the night, with a doctor’s diagnosis, when a loved one is suddenly gone. Life can change in a day, with the unexpected results of an election, with the division of friends or family, with the looming uncertainty of the future.

Life goes on for me in a much different way than I could have ever imagined just over nine months ago. I’ve learned to live alone and when asked yesterday if I have plans for today I am reminded by my daughters that my tasks for today of doing laundry, writing progress reports, preparing for the upcoming week ahead and if the rain lets up, having coffee with a friend constitute “plans.” I had always thought plans were plans with others, with Gary or with friends, but now plans with myself are the new normal.

Life goes on in our country too, but in a much different way than I ever imagined it would be nine months ago when we were filled with excitement and enthusiasm about the possibility of the first woman president, with the hope for a different future for my daughters and future granddaughter. The realities of today are fearful monitoring of the news, trying to figure out what is real, and slightly terrified that some of what I hear could actually be real. Nine months ago hope was an electrifying force, today we have to muster up our own hope and courage to embody the change we want to see, that we need to see, that our country needs to survive.

Life goes on for me, with small changes at a slow pace. Learning to cook healthy food for myself instead of making do with a frozen waffle for dinner. Learning to go to sleep and to wake up alone and learning to live in the present instead of planning and hoping for a future. The future is an unknown commodity. My friend said to look for one bit of happiness each day and to gather those as flowers in a vase. My sister gave me a “happiness jar” to fill with little notes written when something good happened so I can reflect back at the end of the year, but I remember when the days had more than one happy moment and I didn’t have to keep count because I knew that more would come the next day.

Life goes on for our country because we, the people, are our country. We gathered together yesterday by the hundreds of thousands, in Los Angeles, the count at 750,000. We stood in massive crowds, peacefully, smiling at each other and chanting together, holding amazing signs with heartfelt messages. We walked through crowded downtown streets, on a sunny day, a break between rainstorms, warmed by comradery and basking in hope. We took a break from feeling alone, from watching depressing news, and made our own news, together.

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      photo credit Nicole Weisberg

Life goes on for me, for my daughters and my family. We made it through the holidays and move towards the last few landmarks to come before reaching the year anniversary. We find some moments of togetherness, some happiness and are adapting to this different life. New things now seem important, the new responsibility of maintaining the rights that were not in jeopardy nine months ago. We have created some new habits, checking in on each other more often, letting each other know we are home safely at night and saying goodnight. It’s good to have a close connection and to feel cared about in a world that can feel isolating.

Life goes on for our country and today as storms pound through Los Angeles, I smile thinking about yesterday, when we were smiled upon by the first sunny day in a week as we marched. The weather paused and gave us hope on a hopeful day. Today everything is washed clean and I hope our momentum continues and elevates. Today we must continue our search for truth in the midst of “alternative facts,” for hope on the other side of this despair and for unity to emerge through the tactics of divisiveness. The Women’s March gave evidence that we are not divided by religion, race, gender or politics but united in our belief that our desire for democracy, for a free country and for love to win as the power to heal us.

Life goes on for me as I crave real talk, the kind of talk that is deep below the surface. Through the connection to others, to those caring people in my life, I have avenues for my raw feelings, my bubbling emotions and worries. For those brave enough to jump in the deep waters of connection, I am grateful. A friend said that these nine months are beginning to be enough time to give birth to a new and active movement within me. Just as with bringing my daughters into this world, nine months seemed to fly by, but nine months also seems like forever.

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Filed under change, death, Election, Family, Life thoughts

Getting Through

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2016 was a year of getting through things.

Radiation, surgery, death, a memorial and the scattering of ashes

It was a year of new financial responsibilities and for letting go of things.

It was a year filled with loneliness.

 

There has been the first anniversary, birthdays and holidays without Gary.

2016 was a year of disappointments and lost elections, the loss of hopes and fear for the future. This was a year when so many left the planet.

2016 was a year of new things, new babies, weddings, new experiences, new responsibilities, and new goals.

This was a year that started with hope and ended with uncertainty, with many people afraid to look forward.

We must move forward, so for 2017, I will look forward to good health, success, more writing, learning to play the ukulele, growing friendships and savoring my family. I look forward to finding a landing-place, with hopes of creating a life that feels full.

In 2017 I hope for a better world that resonates with peace, with compassion, with humanity.

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Dodging Acorns

img_2689If life imitates art, then I guess it can also imitate fables like Chicken Little. My life is a lot like that lately and I find myself dodging acorns. On many days it feels like the sky is falling and I’m looking for someone to tell so that I can be reassured that it isn’t really falling, it is just life. Life with it’s suddenly appearing hurdles and inconvenient inconveniences. As my sister reminded me, there is never a good time for an inconvenience.

These minor annoyances aren’t the real acorns, the real acorns are the larger life hurdles that pop up suddenly when I realize there is yet another new situation to navigate such as negotiating a car repair, or taking the trash out every week. These things aren’t huge, but they are new to me because I always had a partner to share the responsibilities of keeping a home.

Then there are the larger acorns looming ahead, things I will encounter soon, negotiating a car deal, going through every item in my house in an effort to “downsize,” finding a home, packing everything in my home and moving. I thought many of these decisions would be things Gary and I would be deciding together, like where we would go on our next vacation, but in this new life, the one where I am alone, it’s a new, unfamiliar game.

I try to remember to take one day at a time, or sometimes an hour at a time. I navigate running into well-meaning friends and acquaintances that hug me and ask how I am doing when my only answer is a slight smile and tear-filled eyes. I get through each day, but I don’t see a future yet. I get through each day but the days without plans are hard. I get through each day, but I don’t have a lot to look forward to at this point. I’m working on those positive affirmations. I’m making lists.

Things I am grateful for:

A comfortable place to live

Food to eat

My friends and family

A rewarding job

My health.

 

Things I am learning:

To change heater filters

To add washer fluid to my car

To handle car repairs and maintenance

To make a fire and enjoy it alone

To eat dinner alone

 

Things I want:

A home.

A life with purpose.

A life filled with friends and family.

A clear sky, or at least one with very little chance of acorns.

 

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The World has Changed in Seven Months

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                         Looking for light.

Today marks seven months that Gary has been gone and in those seven months everything has changed, in my life, in the country and in the world. Nothing is familiar and nothing is the same, holidays coming and going like mountains to climb and descend. The anticipation is somber and the days are long. Seven months ago the embrace of family and friends provided some security in the foreign world in which I was now forced to live. I gathered courage from their encouraging words: “You’re doing so well” and “You are so strong.” The truth is I am not so strong and much of the time paralyzed with the insurmountable tasks of unraveling my formally entwined life. The truth is there are many lonely days and nights as I learn to live alone and to be alone. The truth is that I cannot see much point (or fun) in cooking for just me and I miss cooking and eating together with Gary. I haven’t figured out how to have purpose and I spend evenings watching mindless television. The best I can do is take myself to yoga to practice breathing.

I have tried, over the past seven months, to focus on moving forward and to feeling gratitude. I have expressed gratitude to my family and close friends. I write about gratitude and make lists of things I am grateful for. I am very grateful that Gary did not suffer for long and that we, his family, did not have long roles as care givers, watching him drift away. I try to remember how much worse it could have been and I know others who did have to suffer much more. I am grateful for my job and to be part of a caring community. I am grateful to live in California for many reasons, but to be honest, the climate in our country, the overwhelming negativity and hatred expressed by so many, has hit me hard and like others I know, has intensified the grief cycle I was already immersed in.

It is hard to believe it has been seven months. It was somehow easier at first when I had so many tasks to take care of. I could lose myself in the busyness of it all. Now, those things have settled down a little and I find myself face to face with the holiday season. Normalcy, with Gary barbecuing turkey and thoughts of him making latkes next month, is gone. I haven’t found a new normal yet. I haven’t figured out how to do more than exist and get through each day and am floating without a landing in sight.

I think that now many people share these feelings. Of course there are many others alone, those who have also lost loved ones and those who are separated from loved ones, but now there are also many who have lost faith and confidence in our future as a country. Families are estranged and friendships are strained. For me, an already sensitive person, it sometimes feels like a very heavy burden. Life can change in a minute and there are no guarantees. Life has changed dramatically and each of these many minutes over the last seven months have felt like a trip into a dark tunnel that I travel hoping to see if there will be any light at the end.

Life certainly isn’t perfect, including relationships. Governments aren’t perfect either, but somehow losing the familiar, the known, someone who honestly cared, is a difficult idea to comprehend. The loss of hope, optimism for the future, the future as we expected it, is a crushing weight and wearing a mask of positivity can be exhausting.

Seven months, from the hope of springtime, to the darkness of winter. The months come and go and I long for the light to return, for some sign of hope and the chance that things can feel normal in a way, a different kind of normal, but one that sits comfortably and allows enough space to breath in and then to exhale.

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