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…..


Monday, February 16, 2015

Mish Mash Snippets

1. Here it is: my house in the ever snowing winter of all winters in Massachusetts. For three weeks we have had one storm after another. The snow is as high as it looks. In Boston there is another 18 inches or so more than this. We're all sick of it but Bostonians are a gutsy lot. I'm proud to be from here. 

2. The realtor called today with news. "A woman wants to rent your apartment. She gave me a deposit."
"What is she like?"
Hesitation: "She's from India."
"I don't think it's a problem because she says she doesn't use curry when she cooks so it won't permeate the rugs and walls."
"I don't care about that. Is she nice?"
"Yes, very."
"Did you check her employment and finances?"
"Yes, she's employed and pays her bills on time every month."
"Okay then. That's great."
"Some people don't want to rent to people from India because of the curry."
"Not a problem."
Me: Yay.

3. The hospice center called today with a message. "We want you to know we're here if you need help in grieving." I don't need help. The thought I keep having is that I was loyal and present for my Mother for all the years she needed me. So this is what the absence of regret feels like, and it is a feeling as valuable as love. 

4. This book I am writing: here is mother-of-four Christine talking about her sister Louise and their childhood. 

Anyway, when Louise returned from the convent, things got easier for me again although my freewheeling privacy came to a halt.  She kept track of my homework and curfews and had the audacity to read my diary about Anthony and my breasts.

“Absolutely NOT!” she hollered downstairs, ordering me to leave the breakfast table and appear before her in my no longer private bedroom.

“Listen to me, Pip. Not now at thirteen, not later at sixteen. Your body is a vessel of God. You have to keep it chaste until you get married.”

“What does ‘chaste’ mean, Louise?”

“It means nobody touches your privates.”

“What about kissing? Because Anthony kissed me with his tongue and I liked it. Are you sure you know about this, Louise? Anthony told me if I let him touch my boobs I will feel it down here and it will be great.” I pointed. 

“NO, NO, NO” Louise screamed. “You’ll go to hell.”

The hell part was enough for me. I admit I kissed and humped my way through my teenage years but no boy got under my clothes until my first husband Norman and he must have been no Anthony, because even when I managed to stay awake, it was all pretty iffy.

5. So what else is new? Nothing but more snow. :^)


Saturday, February 07, 2015

The Turtle and the Duck

Not that I don't have reason to worry. 

It's a fierce winter and pipes can freeze, roofs can leak, power can fail. 

And I'm swamped by real estate matters: caring for our dream house in Provincetown in a blizzard, caring for our house here in Western Mass when we're there not here, my mother's house, should we sell it?, a little condo I bought as an investment years ago that now needs a new kitchen and new windows and a full makeover--$$$ I hadn't expected.

And the Income tax return for last year.

Re-applying and testing to renew counseling license.

I could continue.

It's a time of transition all right. Big and small and many decisions ahead. I am working and and I am yearning and trying to see my Jessica and the kids at least twice a month and I am writing a book. 

And I should say I am going to the gym a few times a week, because I should be doing that, but I can only say that's barely half way true.

Still, last year I made some fine decisions for myself. 

The biggest and best was to start living like a turtle. Turtle Living. This means I still get things done but I no longer let them overwhelm me to the finish, because I do a little here and a little there, sometimes more, trusting that in time I will finish. And I usually do finish. But I don't angst over the weight of the finish line. 

I took care of the garden and the yard and the bills and my work assignments and my chores and my travels this way all last year and I've done fine. So I'm turtling my way through life, officially.

This morning I to my surprise have added another approach: living like a duck. Duck Living

This means I do what I can, or not, when I encounter people or situations that upset me, but then I let the upset roll off my back, like a water off a duck. I am not (as often) holding on to stressful people or events, officially, as of now. I will be polite and forgiving to even difficult people, normally, but I'm moving on from stress or confusion if that's what's best.

I should probably include one other thing that seems to help me humongeously. Each morning, first thing, I spend at least 30 minutes sipping my coffee and reading the newspaper and sometimes just sitting, staring out the window. This sets the tone for my day. Unlike my old way of jumping right in to whatever greets me.

Finally, I am cooking and baking uncharacteristically. And I still feel good about my book. I'm writing and researching and organizing and forcing JB to listen to me read chapters out loud. I have a plot :^)

In a couple of months, I will know more about where I will live and when and why. I will know more about the role of $$$ in my life ahead, and whether or not I will lose the weight I shouldn't be carrying.

In a couple of months, I will still be living like a turtle and living like a duck. It works for me.

And I may add another animal or two.