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.