Sunday, February 22, 2015

Two Parts


Part 1: Reflection

 Do you think this statement is true? I do. For various reasons I've been thinking about my life past and future. Probably because my Mother has died, probably because of the reality and likelihood that JB and I will soon move, probably because the world and politics and climate change and human affairs seem more discouraging by the day: I find myself leaning into the values I was taught in childhood. Honesty. Responsibility. Love. Compassion. Generosity. Simplicity.


My parents brought me up in this six room Cape, built by my Father and Grandfather. We lived modestly but never without food and clothes and Christmas presents. My Father was as simple as a man could be: he was a proud bricklayer, came home every night covered with dust, made jokes at the supper table, fell asleep watching television. Except for one incident when my Mother insulted his Father and he lashed out at her, I don't recall him ever worrying. Not ever. He accepted things as they were and he lived without questions. During the four months that cancer slowly killed him, even then he was at peace, trusting my Mother to decide what was best and never once questioning why or what was happening. 


My Mother died the same way. Both my parents had difficult childhoods. Neither made it past sixth grade. Both were poor. My Father's stepmother disliked him and my Mother was the youngest of sixteen. No pun intended, it seems to me that they built their lives and their family brick by brick.

They someone managed to give my brother and I grit. Confidence even. And values that even now push through.

Some who know me think I've had an easy peasy life. But really, is that true of anyone? Sooner or later we face loss, disappointment, worry, ambivalence. "But who in their right mind wouldn't want to live?" my Mother would ask off-handedly and she meant it every time. She was glad to be alive and that was plenty for her.

Why am I thinking and writing about this today? The weather's at fault. It's been an inside winter of thinking, remembering, reflecting. What now? If you're lucky or unlucky, depending, every so often life gives you a blank canvas. New decisions. New directions. But no guarantees, and that's a potential for sure problem because our minds crave guarantees and do their best to make us nervous when we don't deliver. Blank canvasses happen when people lose their jobs, lose their health, lose their bearings. And sometimes they happen just because the universe informs that it's time. For me, it's time: a new chapter's ahead. It's exciting, unknown, uncertain.  I have hopes and plans. I'm open to the unpredictable. I don't welcome change, but I know better than to resist. 

There is melancholy as I write this and I know it's obvious. All I can say is yup. That and hope too. 

How about you? What are you up to these days? How do you feel? Where are you headed? Surely I'm not alone.

Part 2: Weather Report  

 Here's a glimpse: Boston and Massachusetts in the midst of snow and more snow. Those are cars buried in those mounds. It's been kind of unbelievable. Not as horrible as the national news makes it sound, but the weather has definitely made havoc of transportation and plans and work and worries about ice dams and weak roofs and frozen pipes. 





I speak for most of the East Coast. We're done. Can't wait to see a crocus.

Meanwhile, I pick up my colors and words and begin again…..

love
kj

27 comments:

  1. Having worked with the elderly and the dying I can say without a doubt that that statement is true. The people who were born with a silver spoon in their mouth and married into money are usually the most difficult patients. They have this sense of entitlement; they feel above sickness and hardship. I think of one patient (she was not dying) who went on and on and on about her hemorrhoids. It came across that she didn't deserve this as if it belonged to anyone else but her. She would talk often about how her husband left her well off and that she deserved better and the doctors were not willing to help her. That said, the poorest of patients, the ones who have had difficulty in life are the most gracious and kind. They do not question their lot in life. It is what it is. Now of course this does not describe every patient but for the most part it is true.

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    1. hi birdie, i think people who have it too easy too early in life don't know how to bend and bounce. i agree those folks can be obnoxious; sometimes it's probably because they don't have enough coping skills in their toolboxes (or make up cases) :^)

      i've worked hard not to think so much. I'm happier when i coast, come what may.

      love
      kj

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  2. I'm always amazed and a little sad to hear stories about wonderful fathers. My father wasn't a bad man but he was a very angry man. I never had a conversation with him my whole life. How sad is that? He was a dictator but he loved my mum something fierce.

    I've been feeling very melancholy as well. Crying at the drop of a hat. Wondering what is wrong with me. Finding myself unacceptable to world and myself again. And people dying, friends dying. I look ahead at the rest of my life and realize it will be like this until I die as well. The realization isn't making me good company lately.

    Hope your snow stops soon.

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    1. aw deb, this made me sad. it's hard to figure that a man could and would love his wife devotedly and not be able to give that to his children. i'm glad you have a gentle and good man in your adult life.

      those are healing tears (as my friend renee used to say). you have every reason. there is nothing wrong with you. nothing at all. yes, life is hard and loss comes, but so does joy and abundance. hang in. spring always comes.

      love
      kj

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  3. Stopping by, thinking of the words I spoke at my husband's memorial service... I so envy our cats. They just work with whatever hand life deals them. They don't worry about tomorrow and they don't regret yesterday. They just take things in stride and figure things out as they go, because they put one foot in front of the other and go on.

    Sometimes that is what it takes--putting one foot in front of the other, until it gets easier.

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    1. thank you teri. i think that about trees too. i read somewhere that we don't look at a tree and think 'it would be better if you did this or changed that.' we just accept. in all, i do that pretty well, but i'm thrown when i hit a rough patch i don't see coming. which life kind of requires :^)

      thanks for this comment, teri xo
      love
      kj

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  4. Nope no regrets, don't look backwards and say "God damn i shouldna done this or that!" My parents didn't come from money but one was a genius literally, ranked in the 150 IQ range but a prick to me, and the other came from pure class and is my true mentor to this day though she is 8 years dead. Both were completely educated, the old man went from a hs diploma in 1945 to a BS, MS (chemistry) and a PhD. in Chemical engineering by 1951. Moms had her MSW by 1947--me nada, zip, nothing for initials after my name. never dared for them but all of my siblings have them 2 or 3 sets each. *shrug*

    I don't get to wanting to go backwards when life was really easier though harder to navigate. I can stay here in the slum and make fun of it or I could move to MA and make fun of that as well.

    Ya know kiddo, one thing you do, do is worry too much about what goes on the canvass. To hell with it, just start painting and when fate places another on the easel just start painting, you know people can be successful without having to think about whether they start walking with the left foot first or the right. Got cabin fever. Throw off your clothes and go for a naked stroll through the back yard, as long as the cops don't show up and haul you away for observation, I guarantee you, you'll appreciate whichever cabin you're in.

    Worried about tomorrow? That's like trying to smoke a cigarette still in the pack on the rack in the store. *shrug* Make today's plans when you're sitting drinking coffee in the morning and even then no more than an hour ahead.

    When it warms up to the 50's your whole perspective will change, but then take that walk in your bikini because more neighbors definitely will be nosing about because they are just as squirrely about everything on their plate too.




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    1. mark, 8 years is not a long time and i know how much your Mother means to you. no degrees for you, but smart genes. that's obvious :^)

      sometimes i get it and sometimes i don't. thank god for the times i do :^)

      love you, buddy,
      kj

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  5. "But who in their right mind wouldn't want to live?” That’d be me then, at times.
    Hard knocks may make you a stronger person but they, in the end, tire you out to the point where you just cannot face another one of them. Melancholy is my middle name. And frequently I am the life and soul of the party. Go figure.

    I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t struggling against the odds. Everything is easy on the face of it now; I am grateful for my comfortable life; for the first time I can relax but the years of strife have caught up with me and made me physically ill.

    This all sounds dreadful, but one thing is true: like childbirth you forget about the pain of it all when it’s over and just going with the flow is the only way to be.

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    1. friko, i would indeed like a cup of coffee with you! i have no doubt you are a hoot and i love your honesty.

      we all struggle and if we're smart we end up appreciating and being astonished that we're upright and grinning

      love
      kj

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  6. Ah, the vagaries of age...
    No use complaining, either. Each step is self-discovery, I think; and that is the greatest gift life can give us. When we stop feeling and observing, we might as well be dead.

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    1. 'nuff said there, rosaria :^)

      love
      kj

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  7. Kj, I wake up to a blank canvas everyday. Having no money (ever) and I got rid of credit cards 4 years ago, anything can happen and usually does. I keep thinking that since my art gets better and better that I should be selling more of it, but that does not seem to be happening, I however am still counting on it in my old age.
    I don't worry though, no matter what things always work out, and I have come to trust that. Life is a great adventure and I am happy to be alive and healthy.
    I do think some people have easier lives than others, but we all have stuff no matter how easy it seems to others.
    Happy adventure KJ, the less we resist the better things go...xoxo

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    1. hi annie, this reminds me of a lesson i found to be very important: it's best to accept first and then decide, not the other way around…

      i wish grand riches for you from your worthy art. and if not that, i wish enough.

      love
      kj

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  8. its this unrelently snow. it seems as if it will never stop and never go away. I feel like we will just go on and on with shoveling and leaking roofs ( which yes, I have) and ugly grey, black snow mounds. If we get another big storm I have going to go to bed and wait until spring.

    I love that little Cape Cod house, you know I do. Probably needs updating but it's way way cute.

    16 kids? 16? wow. wow.

    Miss you and hope to see you soon, OK?

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    1. mim, i have never experienced a winter with so many inside leaks and frozen pipes and shaky roofs. our pipes in ptown froze this week and thank god we were here.

      our little cape house is quite darling and i will be glad when you are sitting in it!

      yes, 16 kids. my mother called to her sisters in the end. i didn't mind one bit….

      love
      love
      kj

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  9. I can't imagine what it must be like to be snowbound as you have been this winter. I once read that some of the world's great religions were born in cold and snowy climes...all that time inside to think, I guess.

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    1. amanda, probably not everyone has been as sedentary as i, but it's true that contemplation has been on the increase :^)

      love
      kj

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  10. Oh dearie, what a wonderful and wise post is this. I wish I could write like that, but somehow I am not philosophical enough ;-)

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    1. wieneke, i am definitely philosophical :^)

      thank you and love,
      kj

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  11. I wonder if anyone has "an easy past". One thing I love about being in my life is the opportunity being auntie gives me to play a part in the lives of my nieces and nephews. To offer unconditional love and acceptance knowing that these strengthen the very core of a growing person. I would definitely trade my past in for a happier one, but not unless I get to keep my present :^)

    I hope the snow is melting. A thaw cannot be that far off surely? And how's the wringing going? xx

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    1. hello jos! i love your take on this. i feel the same way. it matters greatly to me to influence and create memories for the littles in my life.

      you sound great and that makes me very glad. you deserve every bit of it.

      the writing is coming along :^)

      love
      kj

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  12. My parents grew up in poverty and through hard work and strong values raised us in a simple but incredibly loving home. I wouldn't trade that for any of my well-to-do friends upbringing. And I agree that what may appear to be an easy life is probably missing something. Everyone has their cross to bear.

    I went through a period of confusion when I semi-retired without knowing what the next chapter would be. For a planner it was very disorienting. But in hindsight I know that that period was very valuable, giving me time for self reflection and focusing in on my core values. "To everything there is a season" and all that . . .

    . . . including winter : )

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    1. 8, easy to look back after the death of a parent and what i'm looking at is a good and solid family and childhood. in some ways you and i are on the same timeline, i think. i've never before had time to my liking as i do now. i'm glad i'm working and i'm glad i'm writing and i'm glad for the little kids in my life, and my married life and my surroundings. and too, i don't welcome the heavier thoughts that visit me, but i treat them with respect and patience :^)

      here's to daylight savings time and spring!

      love
      kj

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  13. As to whether I think the statement is true, I had rather be an easy person with an easy past, strength being overrated in my book. It’s like a car with 600 hp in that, if you need it, it’s good to have it. Otherwise, it’s not worth the cost.

    I sure envy you your parents! Mine had their strengths but were weak overall. Of course, even with your parents, it strikes me that they were happy by nature but lacking in depth and certainly in education.

    “What are you up to these days?”

    I sort of have my blog for that, you know, although when I heard the DOJ report on Ferguson, I wondered how you were taking it. I wasn’t surprised that the officer wouldn’t be prosecuted or that many of the people in city government were racist, although I’m always surprised when people are so improvident to say stupid things in official emails. In other news, Peggy flew to Mississippi on Monday, and I just hope to god she can get back next Tuesday. I’ve pleaded with her to never fly in winter if she didn’t have to, and I hope she won’t pay dearly for ignoring me. Their area temperature yesterday dropped 21-degrees in 11-minutes, and everything should iced over by now.

    I should mail you a crocus, eh. As bad as the last month has been in your part of the country, it has been sublime here, and sublimity here is as rare as 1,000 feet of snow there (you must be approaching that number by now, eh?).

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  14. You have me thinking...my mum died suddenly on Nov 1, 2013 and it still feels like yesterday. Not easy. But your ost is beautiful and thought provoking and somehow 'healing'. xx

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