Tag Archives: friends

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

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

Hawk Watching & Halos of Light

hawkYesterday, marking 8 months, sent the hawk to watch over me as I sat at my desk, paying bills, checking the emails coming in and contemplating my life as it is now, a long floating journey to an unknown landing. The hawk, who usually lands at the top of a nearby towering pine tree, landed in the tree closest to my window, closer than ever before, and sat contemplating me in between gazing at the landscape. I felt protected somehow.

Each month that goes by brings new challenges and just when I think I’ve gotten a grip on things, a new mess is dumped in my lap. Does it really take a year to get things straight? I’ve been told many times to wait a year, that it takes a year to get used to things, to settle things and to figure out a new place in the world. It feels like forever at eight months.

The hawk stayed watching me for over an hour perched in the tree. I felt his presence and it was somewhat comforting, making my day less lonely. The house was busy last weekend, with a visit from my eldest daughter and my youngest, my little granddaughter. It was family filled, busy, chaotic and reminiscent of the many family gatherings over the years as we all came together to introduce little Margie to friends and family. My daughters surprised me for my birthday with a homemade chocolate raspberry cake (our family birthday tradition) and everyone sang. During the singing, as Nicole videotaped, she noticed a halo of lights moving around me and near the cake. Of course it was a reflection of the candles, but yet, it hovered near me, above me and next to me during the singing of Happy Birthday. It startled Nicole and when we watched the video the next day, we were all a little teary and speechless.

fullsizerender-28Sometimes there are things that can’t be explained. Sometimes the longing for what was is overpowering. Birds appear, Honda Pilots escort me as I drive, lights appear, and yet, as I fall asleep asking for a little help getting through all that I am dealing with, it is harder to feel the connection. I want to believe that I can communicate with my partner of 37 years because how can such a strong connection be gone, even with the separation of time and space? It seems so much stronger than that.

I am dealing with the messes, the stuff, the remnants of odds and ends left undone in the wake of a sudden departure. I am tired of “adulting” as Danielle calls it. I am tired of being the only one to deal with the complications in my life that used to be shared. Divide and conquer. Now I’m left with cleaning up the works in progress that Gary left. My life, without these, seems painfully simple and I suppose one day, it will be.

The holidays are a particularly challenging time when the aloneness is in juxtaposition to the blatantly obvious togetherness and celebrating going on everywhere. It is possible to feel alone even in the middle of a group of people and it is especially hard during this solstice, the darkest days of the year. The cold, dark night sends me to the couch to get under a blanket and zone out watching television.

I am looking forward to the return of the light, the coming warmth and the signs of spring to come. I am hoping that I can have a rebirth too, and enter into a life that feels more like I fit in somewhere, that I can make new, happy memories and land on a solid foundation.

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Filed under death, Family, hurdles, Life thoughts

Independence

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It’s Independence Day and I am practicing. I started the day with family in my nest and as they flew off in different directions, I found myself sitting alone in the moment. The day loomed before me, hours of nothing and my mind filled with lists of things to get done. The tasks are really mine alone and though I can ask for opinions and assistance I am draining my resources.

Today’s theme reminds me to try to think of things I can do by myself so I start with laundry, my old standby. I tidy up from a weekend of the hustle and bustle of busy family to the sound of the old Kit Cat Clock, getting everything restored to its original status. Beds made, bathrooms restocked with fresh towels, leftovers disposed of and those hours are still there.

I decide to take care of business so I log on and file a luckily purchased insurance claim to get a refund for the tickets to a concert hopefully purchased back in March. The claim requires documentation to support the needed refund so I attach the death certificate. That should suffice and I am notified by email that I should hear something within 10 days.

I’ve been Independent for a couple of hours when I hear the familiar ring tone of my sister calling. She provides a much-needed pep talk filled with good suggestions and experienced advice, the kind sisters know how to dose out, with measured understanding and sympathy. There is no time limit and I relax into the comfort of our conversation, the kind you can have with someone you’ve known for almost your entire life and have shared parents, childhood bedrooms and the majority of the firsts in your life with.

I hang up and feel better, ready to step into Independence again and take a hard look at the living room bookcase. I am kind, but ruthless to the departing companions. They have been read, pages turned and information absorbed. It’s time for them to be shared and knowing they will have a new life allows me to feel less sad filling the bag, as long as I repeat that over and over in my head. New life, new life, new life…

It occurs to me that is what I wish for myself as I practice my Independence, a new life, a chance to feel some peace and some calm without waiting for shoes to drop. A life with some hopefulness, healthy habits, creative hobbies, a family circle with a different configuration but love as strong as always and friendships old and new.

With planes flying love overhead and the promise of fireworks approaching, the sky seems filled with celebration, recognition of hard-fought freedoms. I look up at the pink tinged turquoise sky (my mom used to call it sky-blue-pink) and look for a sign of Gary; birds resting on the wires, hawks circling, bats coming out to feast, the first stars twinkling but like the new moon, almost invisible, he hides somewhere, making my Independence the only thing to hold on to tonight.

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Filed under choice, Family, Focus, Independence, Life thoughts

Pink Slips and Red Faces

I don't think pink is my favorite color anymore.

I can’t help it. The only thing on my mind now is the sad state of affairs at my wonderful little mountain school which is unfortunately ruled by a large insensitive school district and an even larger and cold-hearted State.  The wonderful staff of 16 has been sadly divided into the haves and have-nots.  Those having received pink slips and those who have not.  The pink slips are not pink, and are not slips.  They are cruel white letters notifying my friends and co-workers that they will no longer be employed as of July 1st.  Their classrooms will be vacated and another displaced teacher will move in.  Our school family will be torn apart and all of our work, building community, sharing lives, stories and  commitment to the education of our charges will be forever changed.  These dedicated teachers will move on or move away, their lives forever changed through no fault of their own.  They will possibly change careers, locations, and living situations.  Some will leave to teach in other countries.
Who is to blame for this dismantling?  The same greedy people who caused the collapse of the economy, the tumbling down of the housing market, the elimination of thousands of other jobs and the change of the world economy as we knew it.  People whose thoughts and views do not extend beyond themselves and people with no foresight, compassion or vision for a future that includes prosperity for those outside the circle of  power.
Phrases like “No Child Left Behind” are irrelevant as obviously most children will now be left behind, fall through the cracks and suffer in the silence of class sizes exceeding 30 children.  There will be no winners in the “Race to the Top” because all will wallow at the bottom-teachers, students and parents who dreamed of a better life for their children.  When these parents, elected officials and business people get older, age and depend on the younger generation for medical attention, and care taking, who will be there to do it?  The untrained masses?  Those who have the scars of betrayal left from these decisions to short-change their education?  The red faces of the embarrassed, short-sighted “officials” will not bring satisfaction to those of us affected by today’s actions.
Questions are many and answers are few.  There are, however, the faces of these teachers who are being forced unwillingly out of their classrooms, they are the faces of my friends.

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Filed under Life thoughts, Pink Slips, Teaching

My “girlfriends”

I have recently started having “play dates” with two of my mother’s friends.  My mother passed away in October of 2008, but luckily for me, I inherited her two wonderful friends, Helen and Libby.  These women (both in their 80s) have invited me to cultural events, movies, dinners and lunches and I always include them in our holiday dinners, continuing a tradition started years ago.  I have friends of all ages, but these lovely women of my mother’s generation tell me stories of long ago and people from their past.  They educate me about early Los Angeles and are more knowledgeable that I am about movies, theater and literature.  So I am learning a lot by listening and enjoying experiencing time slowed down, time to sit and listen and time to talk about new subjects.  I am making time to include visits in my schedule and my new women friends now join me when I volunteer monthly at a shelter in the city, which happens to be located right in the neighborhood where they spent their childhoods.

Sometimes things come full-circle and just work out.  These evolving friendships stem from friendships that my mother (and father) enjoyed for years but I was determined not to lose touch with these women who meant so much to my mother and have been part of our family for so long.  Sometimes a little effort goes a long way and the benefits for everyone are simple but special.

Think about someone you know, or have contact with and next time the opportunity presents itself, slow down enough to talk to, and most importantly, to listen to that person for a bit.  The good feeling lasts longer than you would expect.

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Filed under Family, gifts, Life thoughts