Julie, a lesson in human grace

It’s interesting to me that the last post I wrote addressed a fear that life might not provide enough to blog about.  The last few weeks have been filled with more than I can fit in one blog, maybe not even five.  Last night I woke up as is my way, at about 2:00 in the morning, my mind ready to formulate my blog post(s).  I’ve come to welcome the interrupted sleep, as it means I’m ready to continue on this journey with you, my readers.
I tossed and turned for at least two hours, my tears falling softly upon my pillow as I recounted the blessings and sorrows of my life.  I always feel a little bad for Rick on these nights, as I wrap my arm around him for comfort, and then turn away as my mind wanders into writing mode. We shift back and forth together, sleeping dancers, for however long it takes me to finish formulating my thoughts, piecing together the story as I would a quilt, layering the colors and feelings until the vision is as beautiful as my mind’s eye.  (Might not have mentioned I’m a quilter.)
In the wee morning hours, my mind usually finds comfort in my ideas for the upcoming post, and I am finally able to drift off.  It’s such fun to make my way to the computer to hopefully return to the ideas that kept me from sleep.  And in more cases than not, it’s with gratitude and enjoyment that I return.
The past few weeks have been filled with much movement and change moving forward, but at the same time looking back, which is what I want to address in this post,  a return to the past.  I don’t know about you guys, but I see patterns in my life.  I seem to pass through periods that delve into one subject over and over again.  Lessons come to me from all avenues about a particular subject.  And when that happens, I think  to myself that I have something to learn or to reconcile, and in some wonderful instances, just a cherished memory to embrace.
I have found myself revisiting many of my private historical landscapes. An unusual number of memories for such a short period of time have sidled up next to me hitching a ride which I’ve been more than happy to offer up, memories of loved ones who have left this earth, and also loved ones who I’ve chosen to take a different path from.  Either way, the disconnect of yesteryear was in most cases painful and difficult, so the reconnect has been nothing short of blissful, but also extremely emotional.
These memories deserve their own post, in honor of my past, so I will focus only on one in this post, my memories of Julie.
Julie is and was a lesson in human grace.
Julie … if  you know me, you know that Julie was my gal … my Clarence (angel) … my mentor, my life teacher, and in the end, one of my dearest friends.  I am sure my readers can relate and replace the character on this page with the names of their loved ones.
I lost a larger than life angel from nothing more than a human condition.  It took me aback, and it also took me years to reconcile my loss.  But I never lost site of what I’d learned from Julie
A Love Of … not in any particular order … laughter, helping others, cooking, children, her children, cleaning, rising to the occasion, doing your best, being the best of a friend/neighbor/loved one … and what I know she would want me to add is, doing something kind for another without looking for any reward.
When I met Julie, she was in the prime of her life, and I was beyond lucky to tag along on her journey with Chris, her youngest son… Paul, her oldest … and Chuck, her husband.  I was 26 when I moved in across the street from Julie.  Because of Julie, I do believe in love at first sight, because I fell head over heels in love the first time I met her, and that love never wavered.  I was a very unaccomplished young cook, putting it mildly.  And Julie was probably the best cook I’ve ever known.  I used to joke that she could put dog food on the table, and you’d walk away remarking how great the meal was.
We began what would become a cherished experience, cooking together, shortly after we met.  She took pity on me, or probably more likely my husband, and took it upon herself to teach me to cook.  For years once every few weeks about 4:00 I’d get a call asking if I was free to come learn another of her amazing dishes.  I’d drop whatever I was doing and make my way quickly across the street.  She would teach … I would learn … but mostly we just enjoyed those hours together laughing and sharing whatever was new in our lives at that time.  Julie ranks up there with Ron, who I’ve spoken of in previous posts, in terms of people that not only influenced my life, but changed it significantly.
Julie left about eight years ago, and a few months back, her husband Chuck finally made his way to meet her once again.  I have no doubt that they are dancin’ in heaven … she did so love to dance.
A few weeks ago I visited her youngest, Chris, and his lovely wife, Jenn, at their home in Florida for the first time.  It was so special to finally have and make the time to spend with them.  I felt such pride seeing the amazing man Chris has become, and enjoyed getting to know the lovely woman he has the blessing to be married to.  Both of Julie’s sons are amazing people… of course, they were raised by Julie.
As we entered their home, I stopped in my tracks … Julie was everywhere.  I had not anticipated this.  Our room had her bedroom set.  Pieces of her furniture adorned most rooms, artwork on the walls, a basket I recognized on a table, a teapot in the kitchen.  Chris and Jenn, of course, have added a great deal of their own decorating choices to their home, but even their taste, gorgeous but simple. reminded me of Julie.  She could create a space on a shoestring budget that you just couldn’t get enough of, a combination of good taste and good will went into her home … and visiting Chris and Jenn’s home surprisingly took me back.  I fought the tears for probably the first hour or so, but as I gave in and let the feelings wash over me, I quickly found that I LOVED being in and amongst her things.
For a few precious days, I basked in my memories and felt her close.  I laughed with her son like I used to laugh with her … and once again I was reminded that life has such gifts to receive if we reach back for them … so often, we find reasons not to.  (Reminder to self:  take time, make time, remember tomorrow is never a guarantee.)
There’s so much more to this blessed story that I will undoubtedly post about in time.  But for now, I just wanted to share this experience with you all in the hopes that you might find yourselves in my story.  If I’ve learned anything in my 62 years, it’s that we humans are far more alike than different.  We choose to show up dressed in unique garb of different colors, but that’s what makes it so much fun.  So many flowers to enjoy in the garden.  (I think I’ve said that before, and probably will many more times.)
Before I close, I just wanted to welcome my three new readers this week, even when I wasn’t posting!  Awesome … and blogging news,  wait for it … I now have 200 followers.  Compared to many bloggers, that may not sound like much, but for me, that number sounds like heaven.  Two hundred souls joining me on my journey … I breathe it in, then breathe it out in such gratitude.  Can’t wait to connect with you guys soon, lots to catch up on.
Namaste

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.

Crossroads

I began this blog at the end of January, three short months ago.   My tag line …  “A blog about crossroads, change, aging, loss, health, stress, fitness, yoga, renewal … in other words, life” could not have been better worded.

It’s actually hard for me to believe that all  of this … the THIS that has filled my 38 posts to date … happened in a three-month period.  I find myself taking deep breaths the last fews days, needed deep breaths to help center myself, trying to balance in my new surroundings.
I will never again believe that I can’t accomplish a great deal in a short period of time.  Earlier in my blog I commented on a quote I heard in the yoga class … something to the effect that you can change your life pretty dramatically in only months.  As I round this corner, I see the truth in that statement.  And not that I want to change my life drastically every few months, but when it’s necessary or life presents circumstances which require change, it’s good to know I can do this.  Anyone can.
This last week was filled with so many closures.  I received word from the cemetery that my mom’s marker was finally done.  (Seems they have a shortage of companies that manufacture these particular markers.)  I opened the mail to see a picture of her plaque, ready to mark her final resting spot.   Emotional … the feelings rose once again to the surface.  I didn’t even remember what I chose to write on her marker.  Goes to show what a state of mind you are in going through the death of a loved one.  Seeing the picture reminded me that all I wanted was for her to rest in peace, given the unrest her soul suffered during her lifetime.  No need for fancy words.  Rest in peace, Mom.  It was perfect. “Julia” played on the Beatles channel on my way through the canyon the following two days after I received the letter.  I hadn’t heard it since the yoga class.  Coincidence?  I think not.
After two years anticipating the end of my job at Virgin America, my job did just that, it ended.  After what seemed such an eternity waiting for the merger to complete, the closure came in a flash.  I will share what I wrote to my coworkers …

“Today at 1:45 I closed out of the windows on my computer for the last time with Virgin America.  As happy as that makes me in one sense, immediately the tears began to stream down my face.  I walked around my house for the next hour in a daze.  The end came unexpectedly, one day early … I wasn’t quite prepared.  Not that another day would have made any big difference, but somehow I just wasn’t quite ready.

I had a massage planned today for the day before my last day, since my last day I would be going down to the bay area to turn in my computer and badge.  But instead, as I traveled the little highway into town, I was no longer looking ahead.  I was looking back over my shoulder at such an amazing experience.  The ride into town can make me emotional any given day as I gaze at the beauty that surrounds me in our little town of Cool, but today such an empty feeling rose from my heart, and I probably understood the term bittersweet better than ever before.

I will cherish my free time going forward devoting myself to all of the passions I’ve not had the time to pursue, but letting go of this Virgin experience and Virgin family is harder than I ever imagined it might be.

I think back to the day I interviewed.  As a business owner of a small landscaping company seven years ago, I found my insurance rising so high that I needed to problem-solve.  I didn’t want to give up my business, but I also needed a job that might offer insurance, a part-time job.  The list of employers that offer part-time positions with benefits is quite small.  I think airlines and Starbucks might be the only two on the list.  So, it was a pretty simple choice, I was going to look to the airlines to solve my problem.  It was actually my husband, Rick, who said, hey, why don’t you look into Virgin America, I’ve heard good things about them.

Good idea, honey, I’ll do just that.  I went online, pressed send, and was attending an interview a few weeks later.  I drove into the parking lot of 555 Airport Boulevard feeling quite resentful if I’m truthful.  I didn’t really want a job.  I wanted insurance.  I wanted to continue playing in the gardens.  I walked through the doors a bit begrudgingly, and some hours later (man, long interview process) I walked out the double doors praying to the heavens above that I might be lucky enough to actually get this job.  I spent the following days wishing and manifesting.

There are different families I’ve come to belong to during my life.  They are all unique, and I don’t find them all that often.  They are special, made just for me.  What I’ve come to recognize is that when I find a new group that will some day feel like family, I know it.  I feel it from the first moments.  And I am drawn in like a moth to the light.  It feels like I’ve made my way home, and that is what it becomes.

It’s been quite an adventure these past seven years.  And I won’t list all the ways in which I’ve grown and changed, but I’ll just say that I would have missed out on so much had I never been fortunate enough to work for Virgin America.

I’ve enjoyed working with such an amazing group of people, both at the airport and at headquarters.  I’ve always been so proud to say I work at Virgin America … because we stood for something great.  I will take that pride with me going forward, along with such sentiment for all of you I have come to know and love.

Life moves forward, money changes hands, deals are closed, investors line their drawers with hundred-dollar bills … but no amount of money can ever equal or match what we Virgin America employees walk away from this deal with.

Thank you all, from the bottom of my heart, for sharing this great experience and sharing yourselves with me.

Cheers to all of us … and cheers to Richard.

Sue”

I’ve remained in a bit of a daze the last two days.  Lots of tears, but also anticipation for what comes next.  I’ve arrived at the crossroads I spoke of in my tagline.  The past is the past.  The future reaches out to me.  It is a NEW DAY.  It is a clean slate … and there are a few highways I could venture down.   But I know where my heart is pulling me … and I am beyond excited to put one foot behind the other making my first few steps down the road that beckons me.
Taking a celebration vacation first … so I will be quiet for a week or two.  I look forward to the next chapter, and sharing it with you all.  As always, I thank you for tuning in.  The journey is so much richer shared.
Namaste
A PS few things I want to mention.
The blog picture was taken unknowingly by my dear teammate, Faye, as I left the building.  I’m so grateful to her for preserving this moment in time.  I sent it to a few friends and posted it on our work FB page.  One of my oldest dearest friends, Colleen, responded saying, “Wow a picture is worth 1000 words.”  Couldn’t have said it better, Coll.  And I also couldn’t have been luckier to have a life-long friend like you.
And Margie, your text the other morning meant more than I can say.  From one kindred spirit to another, we have so much to learn and catch up on.
 
 

Turkey talk

I’ve had a fire softly burning  this week to put my thoughts to this post. I’ve been thinking about kids and young adults making their way in the world.  Growing up is no easy task for, I would guess, many people.  There are a few lucky souls I believe who can say they had a blessed and happy childhood.  But I know far more people who can’t really say that.

When I came of age finally able to strike out on my own, while that was heavenly in many ways, personally I was a mess.  I think back to my twenties, and of all the decades, my twenties would be my least favorite, hands down.  In retrospect, I might have been one of the lucky ones, I found my therapist, Ron, by the time I was 23, so by 26 I was beginning to blossom.  But looking back, I was far from healed truly.  In a much bigger picture that can only be seen in retrospect, I was beginning my life, and in the early stages of shedding the drama that my parents left me with.

Years ago I read a book by Lillian Hellman entitled Pentimento.  The title means “a visible trace of an earlier painting beneath a layer or layers of paint on a canvas.”  Do you love that as much as I do?  The meaning  speaks to me of our lives … that girl I was at 26 only exists today as a trace beneath the layers of paint that have been applied over the years. I love my painting these days, but by golly, it’s been a work of art that has taken every minute of every day of every year since then.  And if my guess is right, it will continue until my painting is done, also known as until my life is over.  The work of creating and defining and improving myself I don’t think will ever end until I leave for higher ground.

As I thought about writing this post, I kept thinking about the turkeys that roam around our home.  Rick and I always call them a gaggle of turkeys , but I just looked it up, and it seems that a group of turkeys should more accurately be called a rafter of turkeys?  Gaggle … rafter … whichever, I couldn’t help thinking about how they travel together and the sounds they make with each other.  What a racket they make.

We as humans act much like those turkeys.  We  come into the world so pure and sweet, but from about day one, we are being bombarded by our loved ones and all they come to our story with.  We begin learning from a tender age about our parents’ sorrows and their insecurities, and in most cases, about their parents’, and so on.  The lessons aren’t taught necessarily in actual words.  In probably more cases than not, they are taught by actions.  There is no doubt that we continue to learn painful lessons from our parents for the following 20 or so years.  And not because our parents don’t love us, quite the opposite.  I think in most cases they are trying to save us from their sorrows and disappointments, so they warn us over and over again.

If my mom told me once, she told me one hundred times, that if I didn’t slow down, I would have a nervous breakdown just like she did.  I knew from my young twenties, that she wasn’t right about that belief, just like I knew she didn’t know how to drive on the freeway.  Years later I would congratulate myself on a basic instinct that told me her pain (nor her lack of driving abilities) did not need to be mine.

Back to those turkeys,  I always say,  we  just need to look to nature to understand our actions and behaviors as humans.  Families tend to act like a gaggle of turkeys, each gobbling louder than the next, working so hard to be heard and understood and above all, WARN our youth about what we have endured in the hopes that they won’t go down the same road.  As  I said, the gobble gobble starts in the minute we are born from a whole host of loving souls … otherwise known as our family.

Is there any wonder by the time we are about twenty heading out into the world that we are a bit confused and conflicted.  In most cases, we are just happy to be away from the incessant gobble gobble.  I believe it’s then the true journey of the soul begins.  It’s where we learn what of the gobble gobble resonates with us, and we begin to slowly but surely leave the excess non relevant gobble gobble behind.  It is no easy task.  And it doesn’t mean we leave those loved ones behind, we just choose not to carry their sorrows, their beliefs, their dreams with us, as we need room for our own dreams that we will be developing along the way.

Here I am at 62 still finding new dreams.  What a gift life is.  And while it might have been amazing to know in my twenties what I know now, I’d probably be long gone by now, as I  do so fervently believe life is about lessons.   My painting would not be nearly as beautiful had I finished it years ago.

Thinking back through my life up to present day, the journey has and continues to require a few necessary requirements, a dream or goal, perseverance, faith in a higher power as well as myself, and the willingness to work hard to achieve what I need.  It still remains sometimes easy to neglect what I need to do for myself, even when I know what  it is.  I think it might always be a little like that.  After all, if life was that easy, this world would be a much different place.  It’s not easy.  So, it’s up to us to figure out what makes us tick, what feels like a tick, and what tickles us.  They are three different things, each important in their own right.

I know yoga makes me happy, makes my heart soar truly, and yet over the last month when I have felt so down, I didn’t turn to yoga to help.  I’d like to say it’s just not ingrained enough, but I think that’s a cop out.  I am, once again, just human.  And sometimes I don’t gravitate to what I know I need.  And maybe that’s enough for where I have been, getting over being sick and anticipating the end of something I have felt a passion for, my job at Virgin America.

In the end, I return to the fact that, we humans are a puzzle.  I have faith in something higher than us, waiting for the time when we do choose to help ourselves.  That’s where our life changes and also the path where I believe we start to feel the higher powers lifting us along our journey.

I will close with a story about my dad, someone you readers have not heard much about yet.  I’m sure you will in time.  My dad probably taught me the best lesson ever about never taking my passions for granted, and more importantly, never wasting any blessing waiting for another day.  (I’m still human and overlook this lesson at times, but there will always come the time I remember…I love his voice reminding me.)

Without going into too much detail at this point about my father’s youth, suffice it to say he suffered true heartbreak as a child. He developed a love for music as a young boy, and it became his passion.  His father, for whatever reasons, rejected my father, and blatantly favored my father’s sister.   Thank goodness his mother took an opposite stance and from what I know supported him at every turn.  He worked at paper routes as a boy and any odd jobs he could muster up to pay for his music lessons.

He made his dreams come true, becoming in time an accomplished musician.  He played both violin and sax.   Family pictures line my hallway, treasures that I stop often to visit.  I have a number of pictures of him as a young man in various bands, and another in a group that played on a cruise ship, in the era of Titanic, so nostalgic.  I will use one of them as my post picture.

His passion came to a tragic halt when in his twenties, traveling in a storm, he crashed his car traveling over black ice, his arm out the window.  He spent a number of months in the hospital healing, and in the end they were able to save his hand, but his fingers would never again play music.

As a child, this story was lost on me.  He was just my dad, with the funny scar on his stomach from the skin they used to graft his wrist, and the stiff and missing fingers.  I think in retrospect his heart was broken beyond repair, but he never let me see that.  He had his demons for sure when he drank, but when he was sober, he was a light-hearted man for all he had been through.  He never passed up a chance at playing a practical joke.  As a child, the dog, the bird and I fought for his attention when he walked through  the door at the end of his work day.  He took his time with each of us.

I never knew my dad to be a musician … tragic really.  I didn’t see that underbelly that most likely defined my dad.  I was left with a man who never complained, but always had his music playing.

I loved him more than I could ever put to words, until he broke my heart.  And that’s what I mean when I refer to the gaggle of turkeys.  They can’t help themselves traveling together making so much goddamn noise … neither can we as humans.  We will all hurt each other in time.  That’s a given.  What’s much more important is what we learn to forgive both in ourselves as well as others.

My dad taught me more lessons than I will ever be able to count, but one that stays with me consistently, is this … never take for granted your gifts, whatever they may be.  Make the best of them every day, because you just never know when that passion or that gift will become only a memory.

Celebrate life … celebrate yourself with every single solitary flaw you possess … they will all come together to make a beautiful painting one day.

With love and namaste …