A wonderful life

I have a number of favorite movies I pull out at least on a yearly basis.  They are all different, but what binds them is that they make me feel good in some way.  One of my old companions is “It’s a Wonderful Life,” about life’s adversities and the power we each have in life to conquer our own issues, but more importantly, the influence we have on others.  I have never watched this movie without crying (big surprise.)  The lesson is so simple and pure and yet so powerful.  We have much more personal power than most of us will ever know in this life.  I think that’s what’s so sweet about the movie, is that it takes an angel, Clarence, to show George the many ways he has changed the world … for the better.  And in my mind, George is you, my reader … George is me, my sweet husband and kids, all of my loved ones, and even those I’ve seen fit to part ways with.  We all have infinite power to lift others, to help others heal, and succeed.

Writing has been a dream of mine for years.  Sometimes I still need to pinch myself to realize I am actually writing a blog.  Funny how a dream is never what you think it will be… it’s better and worse in so many ways … always.  Right?  For the most part, this experience is better than I thought it would be, connecting with others … amazing experience I treasure.  The down side would only be the critical nature my mind can offer up, which is where my angels come in to this picture, so many Clarences I seem to have in my corner.

When I began the blog, no doubt it was terrifying.  But once I pressed send, it was kind of like being strapped into a carnival ride … you’re there for the duration.  When I was small, my friend Colleen and I climbed aboard the Scrambler.  We were pretty young, probably about fourth grade.  We laughed so hard throughout the whole ride that we never opened our eyes.  I can’t remember now who’s parents were waiting for us, but I just remember they thought we were feeling sick based on watching us with our eyes closed throughout the duration of the ride.  Quite the opposite, we had just had the ride of our lives.

This blog has felt much the same.  I do need to close my eyes and my mind at times once I press send, and allow myself a little while to return to the computer, but I’m always just about as exhilarated as that ride once I do.

Since I left work, I’ve been experiencing a huge limbo factor as you might expect.  And numerous times I’ve wondered, is the story over?  Have I written what I needed to write or is there more?  I’ve accomplished my goal, the yoga class, and the end of my career at Virgin.  It was a natural breaking point.  Was the blog over?  I could see both paths, and what I didn’t want to do was work to find something to post about.  The class offered up such great material … would life do the same?

That question on paper now is almost funny, but not when you are in your head thinking through continuing to place your soul on the screen on a continuing basis.  After weeks of pondering, I decided that life would always offer up a great deal to chat about, maybe just not three posts a week worth.  And that once a week would be a great goal.  Finally comfortable with that idea, last week I sat down to write.  I felt almost like I did when I started, excited, giddy and confident again, knowing I had a great deal more of the story to continue with.

And this is where my angels reunite with this post.  I received two comments on my wordpress account.  I many times receive comments from my friends on Facebook, God bless them, they have helped me (more than they will ever know) find the courage to continue and become even braver as I write.

But strangers are a whole different animal.  It’s like a hand reaching out from the dark.  They aren’t reaching because they are your loved one … they are reaching back to share their support for you, a complete stranger.  Having just finished writing in a sense a post where I was committing myself again to this blog (even though no one would ever know that) these two people sent messages that were beyond encouraging.  I actually sat for a few minutes quietly in disbelief after I read them.  If I had been asked to craft an exact message that I needed at that point in time, I couldn’t have done a better job.  Coincidence?  No, not in my book.

Their heartfelt messages made me think of my favorite movie, about imperfect wonderful George, his influence on the world around him, my influences in this blog and otherwise, and my readers’ influences on the world.  Magical connections … I’ve said it before in my blog, united we all could light the world.  I hope you all watch the movie soon and recognize the George in you.

My tagline from the start, “a blog about crossroads, change, aging, loss, health, stress, fitness, yoga, renewal …in other words life”  I feel confident now that we have much more to share with each other.  Thank you dear friends, for your amazing support.  And a special thanks to Paul and Charlotte for reaching back.

Namaste

Questions, Questions and Answers?

I’m sure there have been times to rival this period of my life, but it’s been a while since I’ve had so many questions for myself.  Should I?  Maybe not?  Can I?  Maybe not.  What will happen if I do?  What will happen if I don’t?

Oh, and then there’s the little voice I so dearly love who can truly scare the shit out of me on any question I might be contemplating.  (thanks, but pipe down.  I got this.) 

My cat sits quietly beside me as I write, reminding me that she wants a new bowl of food instead of the cat food I put out a few minutes ago.  I glance over every few minutes to see her patiently waiting for me to get a clue that the food on her bowl is not what she was hoping for.  I try to tell her that I’m writing now, and that the food I already put out is good food.  She’s deaf as a doornail (where did that phrase come from?  Any clue?  Another question that needs answering.)

63 days of freedom so far, future in complete question.  Phrases like “do what you love and the money will come” fill my head.  I want so badly to believe and stay the course.  But my master debater little voice has other options to consider every day, almost hourly.

When I was in college I was nominated by my counselor (such a dear woman) for a scholarship offered by the Bank of America.  It required that I participate in a debating contest of sorts with students from all of Northern California.  I was shy by nature, and had never taken a debating class.  I had experienced one speech class which I hated.  Being center stage was not my thing.  I was much more comfortable as a stage hand, so to speak.  (You can have a lot of fun as a stage hand.)

Digressing …  there were levels to this competition as well, if you made it through one competition, then you went on to semi-finals and then the finals.  I guess somewhere somehow I became quite the little debater as I placed third in Northern California.  Both at the time and in hindsight, I find that incredible.  But I tell the story not to pat myself on the back, although that would be okay too, but really to support a theory I have that I can argue and debate with the best of them (much to Rick’s chagrin.)  And these days, that darn gal is having her way with me.

I come to a decision one day that I will go a particular thought-out route, and she never hesitates to make her voice heard.  (No wonder I won that competition.  And sorry, Rick.)

This morning I had coffee with one of my dear yoga classmates, and bless her heart, she reminded me of what I already know, but can lose sight of.

I think I will be declining my second job offer to allow room for the path that I can see ahead … it’s only a glimpse on the horizon, but it’s there.  As I said in my last post … if only we could dive off that cliff but once, that would be so great.  But this effort takes a constant vigilance and continued dives, not to mention a few belly flops to achieve that brilliant swan dive.

I’ve come this far … I’m callin’ all angels and sending back a message to the universe that settling for a job I don’t want as opposed to pursuing writing and yoga, is not for me.  Holding my breath for the plunge and prayers that I don’t belly flop.

And kitty is happy since Rick got home a few minutes ago to rescue her from her plight of food she didn’t want.  Like I say, there’s always an angel somewhere waiting to help.

Stay tuned, and please send a positive thought my way.

Namaste, and thanks Ally for the lift.

The Wayward Trail

So many thoughts going through my mind this week on such a wide variety of subjects.  Last night was the first time in a while I awoke with my brain racing, and as sweetly as I tried to coax my inner voice, she would not settle down and go back to sleep.  She had a map to work on (these days she’s got 24-7 to figure these things out, you think she’d get a clue that the middle of the night is not optimal.)

It seems that the universe has decided this is the window to make plans to move forward on my dreams.  While I’ve tried to argue that I wasn’t quite ready for a number of reasons … still so emotional and a bit raw after the last few weeks, it seems Lady Destiny isn’t willing to wait … a blessing and a curse.  I have moved through this last week putting one foot in front of the other, so completely unsure of the terrain and whether my walking shoes would be up for the trek, but just listening to my gut, and taking a chance … remembering my yoga hike and the lesson that I could put one foot in front of the other uphill … even when I didn’t think I could, struggling for each breath.

Interesting how the breath works its way through every yoga move, and nowadays all the movements of my life, my choices, my triumphs, and sadly my sorrows.

My wayward journey continues and the further I travel down the path, the more enchanted I become.  Yet I still struggle every step of the way with the “shoulds.”  My dear friend, Ron, that I’ve spoken of in prior posts, used to teach that when you hear yourself say “I should,” it often times means it is something you might want to reconsider, as it’s usually not a choice of your heart.  It’s a condition you have decided you need to act on, many times out of guilt.  Not a great reason to do much.

I can become so confused pulled toward an old belief.  I think of the early settlers risking everything for their dreams, and I mean everything, including their loved ones.

I have it easy, I’m leveraging nothing more than money and a bit of comfort and stress, small prices for realizing a dream.

As hard as I try to gravitate to new music, I return to my Kenny, One Chance at a Life, as I write and think and process and decide … will it be a return to comfort or will I take the chance.

I think of Kenny’s lyrics, endless second chances and I question the heavens above, reminding God that I made the swan dive, I chose the new life, I held my breath and jumped, and I still have to make the choice again and again. (Really?)  I find that so interesting, and as much as I hate it, I love it.  I am being tested and questioned again and again the last month or so … Sue, are you really ready to make this choice?  In so many words, that’s what the universe has sent to me.  And believe me I have waivered, which is why I believe the question keeps recycling.    ”For love and money I’ve made a lot of dumb mistakes in  my time,” another Kenny line.

I have been so tempted to take the easy road.

But today, this day, I feel a pull, a renewed ever so strong pull, or maybe a breeze to help me leave it all behind, another Kenny line, and opt for the choice of yoga and writing and all that I love.

My journey continues … and it seems I chose my title wisely … it is a wayward trail.  Wish me luck to remain true to course, following that light in the sky beckoning me forward.

Namaste

Let it Be

Last week definitely continued in the vein it began, learning of my friend’s passing.  Sadness and unpleasant news arrived numerous times during the week to tug at my heartstrings (actually it was more than a tug.)  It seems to me life needs to remind us from time to time that we are not invincible, nor is anyone around us.  And if I give that some thought, I guess that’s fair.  I don’t much like the reminder, but it does in the end circle around to me feeling so grateful for my life, my health, my loved ones, and all my other blessings.

Ever notice how bad news comes in three’s?  I enjoyed a great day with my sister-in-law in Truckee on Thursday, a very old tradition that we have recently resurrected.  We used to hit every store on the strip.  These days we are lucky if we get one or two in before we’ve found a quaint restaurant to settle into some corner and yack till the cows come home.  (it takes the cows a while)  On her way home she was involved in a collision with a semi -truck coming the opposite direction.  With only a foot or two to spare, she avoided what would have been a head-on collision.  Deep breath needed for that yoga move.

The following day I received the third of my negative stories, the health of another friend in question.  By Friday evening, I just wanted to throw myself down on the floor and cry, too many reminders of how fragile life is.

But … I had another yoga seminar to attend this weekend, a short one to learn about assisting students.  The class was scheduled for Friday evening and Saturday afternoon.  As I left the house, I reminisced to myself about the beginning of my teacher training class in February.  On some level I felt as if I was returning to that huge endeavor, but reminded myself on my way out of the driveway that this was a very short class, and a great chance to meet up with many of my classmates from the first class plus a few new ones, and that I had indeed finished that original hurdle.  As I drove through the countryside toward the center of our tiny town, the universe punctuated my sad week with two tiny dead fawns on the side of the road, clearly having been hit by a car.  (Okay, I get the message.)

I gave into my tears … they were overdue.  It wouldn’t be the first time I drove through the canyon with tears streaming down my face.  My yoga peeps would think I looked normal.  The class went quickly Friday night, and we met again Saturday at 1:00.  We began with a yoga session, followed by the course work.  The short yoga practice was actually perfect, not too difficult, but enough to get your blood flowing and break a sweat.  We concentrated on the mechanics of the poses as opposed to a flow.  As we neared the end, my dear teacher Tess, who makes any class such an adventure, said “we must experience the darkness to recognize the light.” 

I can’t even now recollect what that statement followed, why she even said those words.  (Of course, maybe in the big picture it was just for me.)  But I almost gasped out loud, in fact, I think I did.  Tears filled my eyes, and the remainder of our yoga practice I thanked the heavens for the reminder of why last week had been necessary.

I finished the class on a high, and came home so happy to spend the following day celebrating Father’s Day with Rick, a man I think is a hands-down great dad, to his own kids as well as a step-dad to mine.  We spent a lovely day doin’ what we love most, spending time in our home and our yard.  As the day was coming to a close, Rick said, “honey, come here, quick.”  He was standing at the end of our garage.  Up the driveway was a deer with her tiny tiny fawn …. so damn darling.  They trotted up the hill, a true joy to watch, and a reminder that as brutal as life can seem at times, there will be a light to catch hold of if we keep our eyes and hearts open.

Yoga, ever an inspiration and a reminder of how wondrous this life we lead is, even amidst the sorrow.

Namaste

P.S.  Lorene, words cannot express how grateful I am that you are okay.  And Tyler, new father with much to accomplish in this life, love your attitude.  Never change that.

P.S.S.  Monday morning I caught an early morning yoga class.  The teacher, Franchesca, who has truly a beautiful voice, closed our savasanah singing Let it Be … no music behind her, just her pure sweet voice.  Being such a Beatle’s fan, I love this song any day, but this day it was just what I needed.  I could not believe my ears.  Just in case I had missed it when Tess delivered my message, the angels saw fit to send it once more.  I’ve started this week with a peacefulness and gratitude for my blessings, the gift of this day and both the light and the dark.

“Let it Be”  (one verse)

And when the night is cloudy

There is still a light that shines on me

Shine until tomorrow

Let it be

I wake up to the sound of music

Mother Mary comes to me

Speaking words of wisdom

Let it Be

..

Friends

Friends are one of life’s amazing gifts.  They aren’t souls that gravitate toward us because they are part of our family, a work associate, or some other mandatory connection that you happen to enjoy (or not).  They enter our lives randomly, and the connection is immediate. Some call it chemistry, and there is definitely that…  there’s an ease we feel in their company, an absence of a need to try too hard, and in most cases a shared sense of humor.  I’ve never had a good friend that I didn’t laugh with … a lot.

My experience has been that friends come in all shapes and sizes and for all different lengths of time.  Some will only be with you for a specific part of your life, for as long as they are needed.  I have thought of those friends as my outside circle.  My inside circle has always been something altogether different, and those relationships have in most cases passed the test of time. Maybe because I was an only child, my friends took on an elevated importance in my life.  I have been beyond blessed and rich when it comes to friends.

A few days ago my dear friend, Cindi, sent me a text asking me to call.  At our age, it’s never good if a friend texts you asking you to call.  Not to be negative, but it’s usually news they don’t want to deliver via a text.  And sadly, my suspicions were correct, we had lost our dear friend, Carrie.  What compounded the hurt when receiving the news, is that I didn’t even know she was ill.  Life is interesting … some friends leave you for whatever reason with a great deal of drama, and some leave so quietly that you didn’t even know they were planning to go.

Carrie came into my life in my young thirties … our girls went to preschool together.  Our children were three years old in a class with an amazing teacher.  There were four of us mothers who gravitated to each other just as our children did the same.  It was a toss up who was enjoying who more, the kids or us moms.  Between us four women, we had a total of nine children, but this class in particular consisted of my Amy, and then Natalie, Taylor and Stevie, three girls and one boy.  We all shared a few precious years together, but in the last year of preschool, Mindy, who was Stevie’s mom developed brain cancer.  We lost Mindy in a short time.  Losing anyone is hard, but there are a few circumstances that rip your heart out more than others … to name a few, a child dying or a young mom dying leaving behind her kids.

We grieved Mindy’s loss and secretly thanked the heavens above for the reprieve.  Cindy, Carrie and I had been granted a stay … we would enjoy watching our children grow into adolescents and from there adults.  But the lesson would never be forgotten.  Giving birth to your children is one blessing, watching them grow up is quite another. 

Carrie and I lost touch for a number of years as our children were not in the same school district, but about ten years ago, we reunited.  And just as most old friends find, it was like no time had passed.  I enjoyed all her same sweet personality traits, like it was yesterday … the way she told a funny story, giggling all the while telling it, her fabulous sense of humor, and the look in her eye as she finished the tale asking only with her expression for your take on this hilarious narrative she had just shared with you.  They were such crazy life anecdotes about aging parents and the like, and always full of the ridiculous, so it was ever so much fun to join in and share the humor with her.

Carrie and Paul visited us probably a year and a half ago, spending a great weekend with us hiking.  As I piece together this story in hindsight, it was probably after that visit that she became ill and my mom also began to decline.  As our lives went in separate stressful directions, neither of us knew what the other was up to, and it wouldn’t have been unusual to lose touch for months or even a year.  There was just that comfort between friends that when the time was right, we would reunite with stories to share.

And it was time to reconnect, I had been thinking of her for a month or so.  She was on my list… I’ll never think of my list quite the same after this.

Our original circle of four has now suddenly become two … a new reprieve, a new lesson about appreciating the gift of watching your children become adults, perhaps marry and become parents in their own rite.

Cindi said something kind of interesting to me when we talked … she said “I imagined this conversation in your blog.”  She was right, this would make its way to my blog about crossroads, change, aging, loss, health, stress, fitness, yoga, renewal … in other words, life.

To Carrie, wherever she is, I send my love and sadly my regret.  I know she is beyond such earthly cares, but nonetheless I hope she knows.  And to my readers, get on the damn phone and call any loved one you have been thinking about, or text or do whatever you do to share that blessed connection you feel with them.

Namaste

The photo is of my daughter, Amy on the right, Taylor (Carrie’s daughter) in the middle and Natalie (Cindi’s daughter) on the left, and sweet Mindy behind in the big white collar.  Like mother(s) … like daughter(s)…always laughing.

Free

Slowing down is an interesting process.  My history, as probably most of my readers, has always been a fairly fast-paced hectic lifestyle, but I would have to say the last ten years were some of the busiest most demanding years of my entire life, for a number of different reasons.  Suffice it to say, my train has been barreling along at top speed for most of that time, so this experience of being unemployed, kids grown, grandkids still but a dream, parents off to higher pastures… leaves my days up to what I plan, which isn’t too much right now.

For the first week or so after my job ended, I was busy with a celebration trip to Hawaii, but once I returned home and Rick went back to work, the reality of this new chapter of my life definitely set in.  And as excited as I was, I also felt terrified to be without my income as well as the other perks of being employed.  I didn’t even get one day into unemployment without beginning to worry, whether or not it was warranted.  Man, that inner voice sure doesn’t hesitate to offer up negative imagery.  Yikes.

For about a week or so, I felt as if I’d done a truly beautiful swan dive from, of course, an extremely high cliff in some amazing tropical land, but seriously, I was screaming and flailing all the way down, not exactly a pretty picture.

It took about a week for me to settle down enough to realize that this was not a worst-case scenario story.  As my defenses let down, I was able to look at the whole picture and realize that I would be fine in the end, and more than that, that I would actually most likely find I that I loved this new chapter.

The conclusion of my employment, as it turns out, has been almost as time consuming as beginning a new job, so many things to figure out, insurance, where to move your 401K, trying to get all your ducks in a row.  I’ve spent hours on the phone, and on the computer, at doctor’s visits before the insurance ends, and even finally after 12 years of procrastinating had a colonoscopy … I’ll save the lessons about that for a whole post, without too much detail about the process … blimey.

As this week begins, I only have a few loose ends left, and I find my thoughts quieting down and moving toward my passions.  I am marveling every day at the ability to take my time with whatever I am doing.  It’s a lovely experience for me, and makes me realize how much I probably missed moving so quickly.  And it’s not that I’m regretting anything, just studying life, and enjoying this gift of time I have been given.  I hope to use it wisely.

We all are unique beings with different tastes and desires.  What I’m being drawn to is spending more time in nature and with my loved ones, also writing and  yoga.  This morning I took my usual walk over to the lake (really it’s a pond trying to run with the big dogs) and sat at my usual picnic table next to the pond watching the wildlife.  The fish were surely jumping, and the sky was as blue as blue can be. I typically stop for only about five minutes as there’s a list of to do’s a mile long waiting back at home, but today, there was no list a mile long.  I had a list, but it was manageable, not to mention nothing that needed to be done today, so I took extra time on my bench.  The breeze came up, and as it moved through the trees so full with their spring growth, I basked in the sunshine listening to the music of nature, the sounds of our earth.  Mother nature’s melody is as beautiful as any notes we humans can create.

And today, coincidentally, I received a sweet gift from my yoga teacher.  When we began our class, we were asked to fill out a questionnaire.  One of the questions was, if I remember right, to select a word that described how you wanted to feel at the end of the class, or maybe just in general, not really sure exactly how the question was worded.  But what I remember writing was “free.”  I wanted to feel a freedom that I knew had been missing from my life for quite some time.  I remember feeling a little funny about selecting that word, because I felt it could be misconstrued.  But nonetheless, it is what resonated with me, so I wrote it down.  I felt that the answer could be misunderstood as my wanting a freedom from my husband or my kids, or perhaps interpreted in regard to my mom passing, none of which was what I was yearning for.  No, the word simply meant a chance to spend my days exactly like I have been doing the last few weeks, choosing how my day will play out, gravitating toward my passions, opening new doors for new adventures, connecting with people, enjoying nature.

I opened the package from Tess with a note and a bracelet with the word I had selected.  “Free.”  I smiled to the heavens above, and sent a silent nod to Tess for being so thoughtful, and intuitive as to when that gift should arrive.  Life rarely disappoints me.

I know that this freedom will ebb and flow in my future, because that’s just life.  But for this moment in time, I will embrace this blessing with great enthusiasm and gratitude.

Endless second chances to take it once chance at a time … Kenny Loggins … the breeze has come to take me and it’s a sweet ride.  Thank you also, Kenny, for writing a song that never tires for me.  It lifts me, inspires me, and reminds me about what is important.

Namaste

A New Chapter

This life I lead never ceases to amaze me, the twists and turns along the road that in hindsight make up the story of my life.  At this stage more so than ever before, I realize the importance behind the words “the life I LEAD.”

I think it’s easy to forget that WE LEAD ourselves down the paths we travel.  The past month has taught me a great deal about my choices, my experiences, and the consequences for the choices I’ve made.  And while an argument can be made for the fact that life presents circumstances at times that we don’t choose, nor do we have any control over, what we DO choose is how we respond to these situations.

I used to joke to myself about my mom in her later years, that if there was a hard path or an easy one she could be going down, by God, she was going down the hard path, and you know what that meant … I was going right down that path by her side.  God bless my mom, there was a great deal of truth to my private joke, we usually took the E ticket ride (aging myself with the Disneyland rides in my day.)

And perhaps I’m more like my mom than I believe, as I have many times taken the path less traveled, and there have been major bumps along the road, but where we do part ways is that I’ve rarely been sorry for the choices I’ve made, mistakes or not.  And even though my mom suffered greatly with a lack of confidence in herself, somehow she managed to pass the seeds of confidence along to me, and with the help of the many angels I’ve already mentioned numerous times in my blog, I’ve come to this juncture in the road where I can see so plainly all the crossroads that lie in front of me.  I feel as though I stand on a mountain, the view behind me also clear as to how I arrived here, the choices I made that drove me here, and the fact that I have no one to blame for my life except me, and no one to thank for my life except me, my parents, God, and his many angels (not particularly in that order).  Pretty profound, right? (I don’t know about you guys, but I think I’m really starting to sound like a yogini .)

I find it interesting  when I take away anyone to blame but myself, that actually it’s very healing, and for me, that idea opens my heart to all things new.  And I hope it does the same for my mom and dad, wherever they may be.  The healing of souls, that divine connection that occurs when a child is born of two beings, that Godlike thread that weaves its way through our human hearts must exist beyond this dimension we know as Earth.  And I’m no scientist nor philosopher, but my good old Nebraska common sense passed down from my mom tells me that the sky, the oceans, the forests, streams and lakes, the flowers and trees, the faces and hearts and especially the eyes of those I love, and those of the people I’ve yet to love, could not possibly be random, so I’m left with the belief that our story does not end on this plane… not even close.

This new chapter of mine feels as if it has wings … and I may crash and burn with the best of the original aviators, Alberto Santos-Dumont or the Wright brothers … but in the meantime, it sure is exhilarating.

It’s only been a little over two weeks, and I’ve got more things to talk about than Carter has pills.  I’ve made plenty of notes, and I will be catching you up.  But to begin this new chapter, these are the thoughts that I find myself breathing in … and I invite you to share these breaths with me to see if you can’t catch a bit of what I’m feeling.  It only takes a little courage in your own ideas and wishes, that  long uneasy inhale, and then a slow exhale breathe into your dreams.

Namaste, my friends.  Missed you all, and happy to be writing again.