Have a wonderful weekend.
Have you ever noticed that sometimes, when you let go of trying so hard to make things happen, they just appear on their own?
There’s a bunch of you reading this right now and saying “No, actually.”
I know, I know it doesn’t happen nearly enough to me either. It usually happens when I finally say “F**K it. I don’t care. I’ve had it and I’m not trying anymore.”
Yesterday I spent the very, very… did I mention very… rainy day making lists. Lists of things I needed to do, lists of things I wanted to do and then more lists on how to do them. When I’m feeling overwhelmed or out of control I make lists of what is important to me. Most of the time it helps calm me down. Even when it’s a very long, seemingly insurmountable list, I still know where I need to start and what I need to do.
One of the few things on the list without a list of steps to make it happen was friendships. I haven’t been a great friend over the last few years. I’ve let many of my friendships fade away because I just haven’t made the time to take care of them. I need to change that.
It’s not that I don’t love these people, but when they called to get together I was with my kids, working, studying, going to school, etc… Something had to go and that was the only thing I could spare, although I really couldn’t.
So, recently I’ve been trying to arrange get togethers, coffee, drinks and/or dinner, anything to bring those people back into my life and off of the fringe.
All of the other things on the ‘to do’ list seem to pale in comparison to renewing these friendships. So, I’ve been working hard at it.
And then yesterday in the middle of all of that planning and list making a wonderful new friend reached out and just made my day. Truth be told, she made my month. Sometimes amidst all of the planning and making things happen I forget that wonderful unplanned opportunities present themselves and that friendships are what we all really need and belong at the top of the list of things that are important to me.
The greatest sweetener of human life is friendship. To raise this to the highest pitch of enjoyment, is a secret which but few discover.
I think it’s time for me to be more child-like. I’m tired of being adult about everything.
I was on the beach yesterday watching a family with small children. One curly-haired, blue-eyed, cherub of a girl complete with a yellow bikini making a sand cake for her mother and her slightly older, more serious looking, brother in his boxer bathing suit with small blue whales on them eating a juicy peach and singing a song I don’t recognize. They are adorable, sweet, angelic…oh wait he’s ripping the shovel out of her hand and screaming, “MINE”, she has her mouth open but no sound is coming out, she’s standing up, still no sound…wait for it, wait for it…WOW. She lets out one blood- curdling scream and falls backwards into the sand. Her brother looks on, unfazed, and then continues digging the hole he had been neglecting while eating his lunch. She screams some more and her parents, clearly embarrassed but not unfamiliar with the theatrics, try to quiet her. “Don’t be a baby”, Dad says, while her brother is completely absorbed in digging and singing.
Oh please, let her scream I want to say. How I wish I could do that. Just once. Like say when the guy stole my parking spot or when the woman on the cell phone cut in front of me in line like I wasn’t even there.
Right down on the ground screaming. Can you imagine?
I think we could learn a thing or two about feeling our emotions without apologizing or holding them in from children. How do we get so repressed? Of course throwing yourself down and wailing isn’t the answer but maybe more honesty in our emotions is still an option.
In order to understand who you truly are you must examine your past. The past shapes you but I believe that each person has the responsibility to decide what they keep and what is not useful or might even be dangerous to hold on to from their past. Sorting through your early past can be a mix of joy and pain for some lucky people. Then there are others that don’t have a lot good to say about thier childhood. The best thing I can say is that it made me who I am.
My mother, and father for that matter, had issues. There were huge issues that prevented them from parenting me. I know those issues preceded my birth but they seem to have escalated with every year of my life. One parent was always stealing me from the other. I spent long stretches in New Orleans with my mother and her sister and then back to New York with either, both parents, or just my father. My mother tended to take off. Most of these issues were related to drugs and alcohol but I’m sure a fair share was just plan old mental illness. A therapist told me she thought it would be helpful to read the book “The Glass Castle”. She thought I could relate to it. I have it, and read the first chapter, but can’t seem to get much further. I probably should read it but having seemingly lived it I prefer to write my own stories.
Many difficult years followed but I always knew that I wanted a different life and a family of my own. There was something in me that knew life was not supposed to be the life I grew up in. I knew it even when it was happening. Years later when I worked with children I would see that in a select few. That knowledge, that although they come from chaos, they had no intention of living their future that way. It seems to be very important factor in how difficult the future will be for those individuals.
At 16 my parents lost custody of me and I lived in a group home with other kids that were incorrigible runaways. Of course I had nothing to run from, I was homeless, but 35 years ago there weren’t a lot of places to put me, and parents rarely lost custody of their children.
Now before you think that I’m writing this to run my parents into the ground, please know I’m not. I believe people do the best they can. Sometimes their best sucks and you need to distance yourself from them. I did that but also took care of both of them until they died a few years ago. I did that from a distance too, because I know what was best for me.
I also believe that at a certain point in life everyone, no matter where they come from, is responsible for their own actions. I have spent a good portion of my life working with kids to help them see you don’t have to be your roots of origin. Taking responsibility for your life gives you power and control over it. Not necessarily the easy route but definitely the only way to really change your circumstances.
Having been raised the way I was is exactly what was supposed to happen to me. I read once that they only true forgiveness is when you are grateful for the experience. It has taken many years to be grateful, but I am. I have utilized all of my experiences to become who I am. I really like me now and I am the sum total of all of my experiences, both good and bad.
For the next two weeks I am renting a gorgeous old house in Nantucket, Massachusetts. The kids are here and they’ve brought their friends. Friends of mine are also here. We’re quite the large, laughing, loving group. I look around this 214 year-old house and wonder what the lives of all of the people within these walls entailed. How much happiness, sorrow, regret and joy happened in this house? How many of those people were able to take the hand that life dealt them and make a beautiful house of cards as I have. Yes, I treat it like a house of cards because you never know what life will bring. Happiness like this is a very delicate and fragile thing. I feel incredibly grateful for my past that has brought me to this point in my life. There is very little I would change, huge mistakes of my own included. It doesn’t define me but it certainly helped mold me. I just continue to make alterations in this evolving project that is me and am constantly deciding what stays, and what needs to go, in order for me to be healthy and productive.
|“I’ve never tried to block out the memories of the past, even though some are painful. I don’t understand people who hide from their past. Everything you live through helps to make you the person you are now.”|
Thank you to Genie Speaks for nominating me for the Illuminating Blog Award. Yesterday started with an award and ended with an award. There were all kind of great happenings in between too. If I had to pick a “groundhog day”, yesterday would be high on the list.
The best part of these awards are that I get to possibly introduce people that read my blog to some other really wonderful writers such as Genie Speaks. She is one of those writers who always has something interesting to say and says it in a way that you want to just pull up a chair and have a cup of coffee with her. Please take a look at her blog.
Okay, now I have to share one random thing. I am not one of those people with a clear path, my life seems to be the stringing together of random things, but I’ll give you just one.
- Share one random thing
I have had many jobs in my life but the one that I am most proud of, enjoyed the most, and did for free, was as area coordinator for an organization that brought children, ages 7-12, to the United States from Northern Ireland, mostly Belfast and Derry, for six weeks in the summer. These kids came from rough circumstances during the most recent worst of the “Troubles”. I raised the funds, placed them with host families and coordinated events and did a lot of promoting. I was even featured on the World News Tonight with Peter Jennings. Most importantly, this experience allowed my family to bring the same girl, Sarah, from Belfast back each summer for 10 years. She has become a lovely young woman and works with a community development organization in Belfast. She always told me one day she would do something to pay me back for bringing her to the U.S. each summer. I always told her to pay it forward. Now she does, everyday.
Okay, now for the really fun part. I get to share five bloggers whose blogs I consider illuminating. To illuminate is defined as to provide intellectual or spiritual enlightenment and understanding. The following people do that on a regular basis:
- Nominate 5 Blogs:
My wish today is that you have a day exactly like I had yesterday and that you all keep writing!
Love After Love
The time will come
when, with elation
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror
and each will smile at the other’s welcome,
and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you
all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,
the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.
“Often people attempt to live their lives backwards. They try to have more of what they want so they will be happier. The way it actually works is the reverse. You first must be who you are, then love what you do, in order to have what you want.”
– Margaret Young
Just about through step one and moving forward in to step two….