Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Change?

I was not an easy child.  No, I wasn't "naughty" nor was I a discipline problem, but I was not exactly a dream-come-true of a little girl and so much of that carried me through my developmental years, and into my early adulthood.  I've done so much of the self-analysis stuff and have filtered out the pieces that are no longer important to recall or to further analyze.  What I do carry with me however, is the understanding that change was never an easy task for me and I was not ever allowed to build up resistance to it or to master the skills necessary to come out of the end of a tunnel unscathed.  As soon as the words "I'm not happy" slid off my lips, my mother bailed me out without encouraging me to "give it a try" or "wait it out".  So, to this day, I am not well-equipped for changes and I do continue to wonder what it's all about.  Can't knock a gal for trying.

So much of it has to do with fear.  Fear of the loss of control.  Fear of the inability to manipulate my environment, on the smallest and largest scales. When I taught childbirth classes, many years ago, I carefully explained that it was fear that was at the heart and soul of the perception of child-birthing as a painful process.  While I knew that I could never, ever replace the pain of contractions, I knew that it was possible to mitigate this by breaking up that fear-tension-pain syndrome.  Amazingly, in a lot of cases, it worked. Loss of control.  Huge.  Change.  Huge.

It's been almost a month since we moved into our new home.  We worked together as a team, for weeks before and then, during the time of the actual move, and we're still at it.  We amazed ourselves at how hard we worked and how strong we proved we were, and are.  With only the assistance of a set of strong men who, on the move in day, transported our largest pieces of furniture, we did it all by ourselves and neither of us suffered so much as an ache or pain.  What validation!  We're in now, getting more and more "settled" in what I refer to as our "interim" move.  We have no idea of our future, we're not unique for who does?  But it feels better for me when I look at this new life as maybe not forever.

Each day gets better, feels more like "me" living here.  We're getting to know our new home and we're making friends with it.  The noises coming from our neighbor's and their weekends with friends on the patio adjacent to our bedroom window, are fading from my list of things that are going to rob me of my happiness.  Little did we ever expect that we would be forced into making our bedroom into a "cocoon" with special drapes that block out light and attenuate sound.  It's turning out to be an absolutely lovely place, getting more and more Zen each day and by the time the season is over and the neighbors have returned to Florida for the rest of the year, we will have created a space that would never have been had we not been forced to take control or our environment.

Change.  It's huge. I wish I had known that it was a process, that it required thought and dedication and that it was and always will be, simply a vector, a swift arrow that points to a better place and that control is never lost, it can only be given away.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Coming Soon.....

If only to have something familiar back in my life

Soon

I'll write about Tony Bennett and Lady GaGa

And

Governor's Island

And

Change and how it gets harder when we get older

And

Who knows what else but I'll write.

Soon.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Carpe Diem


Finally, taking a moment, a breather from packing and cleaning, to get ready for an important part of my month, my writing group.  We're back at our beloved Cape Cod Chat House and we'll be meeting on this lovely morning to share what we have written.  This month, the prompt came from a group member who is getting ready to attend her fiftieth high school reunion.  The organizer of the reunion has asked her classmates to write a four-hundred-word-or-less summary of their lives in the past fifty years.  She's asked that they put down on paper what has been important, significant or otherwise meaningful.  I suspect that she was specific because she wanted to avoid the usual litany of "I did, I have, I am, I was".  So, in keeping with the word-limit, I'm ready for today and, after completing this exercise, I realize that I am so much more ready for this and all my today's, than I ever thought possible on that day in June, 1965 when I graduated from high school. 

Thank you Sister Mary de Lourdes.


It has been fifty years since my high school graduation.  Fifty years of life. A quick glance in the mirror reminds me that so much has changed.  I live in an older version of myself, in a world that has changed, exceeding the expectations of a seventeen year old, yet still holding the promise of more to come. It is a world filled with super-sped technology and I wonder at times where I fit and what have I done to contribute.
It was a wise Sister Mary de Lourdes, my high school French teacher, who, for some reason I cannot recall, handed out a short poem in class one day.  Little did I know at the time that it would become the platform for the remainder of my life, the framework for all that would follow. Somehow I sensed, from the moment I received that little gift, that while it might not always be easy, it would be worth the effort in embracing every word and carrying it all forth.
I still have my health, along with a number of great memories.  I live in gratitude, taking little for granted.  I am grateful for the wisdom the years have delivered.  I understand much more now and have achieved the confidence to recognize why I was chosen president of my freshman class in high school.
I value love and love giving it.  I enjoy sharing with others, giving over receiving. I have served others in ways that have been an honor and have gotten great pleasure from simply being there in times of need, offering strength and hope to those who thought they had run out of both.  My measure of success has emanated from the adherence to these standards, not much more. So, the past fifty years, while they have slipped away as proverbial thieves, have been fulfilling and successful for I have, indeed, lived in accordance with what Sister Mary de Lourdes hoped for each of her students and I am eternally grateful to her for sharing these simple words.
The glory of life is to love, not to be loved. To give, not to get; to serve, not to be served, to be a strong hand in the dark to another in the time of need, to be a cup of strength to any soul in a crisis of weakness; This is to know the glory of life.
(Author unknown)


Thursday, May 14, 2015

Please.....

Don't give me up for gone.

I'll be back next week.

Starting the packing project along with the finalization of everything it takes to make a life-change and it ain't easy.

But it will be so worth it.  I promise.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Poet, Not

No,she isn't turning two, in fact, she's closer to turning ten. But, she and her sister have long been my muses and today, this just popped into my head as I prepare for a meeting of my writers group.  The prompt is "anything to do with poetry".  I really have a hard time with poetry.  I do love it and interestingly, I find that poems are among the very few things I can recall from my years of schooling.  I always wanted to become a teacher and "playing school" was one of my favorite past times.  Poetry was part of my imaginary curriculum and little Stevie Honneker was an excellent student. I used to march home with him, he lived up the street, an show him off to his parents, so proud of my accomplishments until the day I realized that they were not speaking Hungarian, that they were not calling me "Cubbina", something that I mistook for a word of praise in their language.  They were calling me "Chub-ina" because I probably was. Story over.

So, here it is,

Lucy Turning Two

It’s National Poetry Month and I am feeling the tug to do something about it
I know I am not a poet
I cannot write anything that is not true; my curse
I feel responsible as if it were up to me to rescue a cause that might be forgotten
to give it life, to breathe into it as if in my hands rested a balloon waiting for a birthday party to begin, for the children to enter, all dressed in their fancy clothing, ready for cake and ice cream and party favors at the end
And as I do this, I ruminate in and out of my conscious thoughts, waiting for the signal for the party to begin, and I am transported back in time
I see a beautiful little girl, cheeks rosy, eyes wide in anticipation, a room filled with balloons
a party atmosphere, stage all set
a little heart beating rapidly, wiggles and giggles
 a little girl, just turned two, about to welcome her entourage of bestest-ever friends, also two
I see them giggle and wiggle as they enter; eyes, like little torches, awaiting the feast about to unfold, cake and ice cream
the stuff  toddler dreams are made of
Through eyes clouded from my tears, I watch the child, drifting dreamily in her party dress, as she delivers to each of her little guests, a token of her appreciation
 the words, “thank you for coming to my party” pass through a tiny valentine
 sweet pink lips, too sweet to bear
Lights out, I see the room softly illuminated by the glow of two candles set upon that field of dreams and I hear a tiny chorus of happy birthday to a princess

as I watch as the first heiress to the family fortune of love push her tiny finger into the foamy sea of white butter cream as the rest of her days, still just a vision in the eyes of her proud parents, await their turn to become memories

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Mother of the Year

In my morning ritual, I include a visit to two news apps on my phone. Both are New York papers, neither of them very esoteric but they do report the news adequately and most of the time, the articles are on a local level, either in Westchester County or NewYork City. I am shielded from feeling shamed about my choice of The New York Post over the New York Times, currently being a resident of New England.  The Post carries a lot of the same new articles as Times but reports them in a much juicier, less erudite style if I may.

Already  this week, there has been a lot of news, national and international.  Ashamed as I am, I must admit that I have very little knowledge of what's happening locally because my head will explode if I have to read one more article that tells me that kids are dying like flies from drugs and ultra-liberals have proposed an answer which, instead of being tossed into the first toilet passed, became a front pager.  The insane idea was to open "safe" clinics, staffed by nurses and doctors, where drug users could come, shoot up, and get not only clean needles, but after-care from professionals should they over dose.  I've worked as a nurse in a detox unit, helping drug users to safely do quite the opposite and find the idea of asking nurses and doctors to work in a "safe shooting gallery" offensive. And don't get me started on the time and funds allotted to training police officers and supplying them with Narcan while programs get cut from schools and teachers laid off.  Do not go there with me.

So, this morning, I read more about the terrible tragedy in Nepal, the loss of yet another thousand lives on top of the thousands about which we had already heard.  Unavoidable, no warning, nothing to grab on to, no way to stop it. Earthquakes and tornadoes.  Nature's most terrifying acts of defiance. I cannot imagine what that is like, such utter loss of control with such complete loss of everything as a result.

Next, in the Post, a lengthy article, written up in the style that draws me to keep reading and turns the Times readers away, furious and indignant because their intelligence was insulted.  Damned the scholars and full-speed ahead, I plowed into the headline, "Baltimore Mom of the Year: 'I don't want him to be a Freddie Gray".  This, in the aftermath of the death of a young black man in Baltimore at the hands of local police enforcement.  The online article warns of explicit content. Toya Graham, in exercising her maternal instincts, minced no words.  She's the mother who turned on the evening news and saw her own son on TV throwing rocks at cops in the streets during Monday's riots. She told it like it was and she's become a national hero after smacking some sense into her son Michael and dragging him back home without one thought to who might be observing her behavior. She referred to herself as a "no-tolerant mom," one who does not play "that", one who has done her best to shield her son in her home, grounding him in the past to keep him off the streets. At one point, she tells the news reporters that she knows she can't do this for the rest of her life and comments "Is he a perfect boy? No, he's not. But he's mine!" From her language and her actions, I'm kind of guessing she would be a Post reader but from her statements, I would love to see her on the Supreme Court. Videos of Toya Graham, taking action, have gone viral.  By now, millions of others have had the opportunity to observe, first-hand, the art of taking control. No, Toya did not have to deal with a tornado or an earthquake. She was not facing a tsunami, She had a kid, one who's future she's hoping will be a better one for her current stance and her courage to do what comes naturally. She followed her instincts and hopefully she's not only taught Michael, but millions of other Mothers and kids the lesson that there are things that we can change if we realize that we have to power to.


Friday, April 24, 2015

Clean Break


After seven solid years, a period of time that we set aside in our lives for "being available" and for retiring from what we were doing before, we're getting ready to move again.  The property selection and purchase have taken a lot of my time and taken me away from what I like best to do in the mornings, write.  But, there's always a story or a word in my mind.  I'm sure that the people who tell me that they "can't" write have the same thing going on, it's just that they publish their thoughts before writing them down, by speaking them out loud.  Once you've published, it simply isn't going to work the same way.  So, I keep the thoughts, juggle them around in my own brain, and hopefully, find myself with my fingers on the keyboard, ready to bring it all on.  While I refer to myself as a person who only writes essays and opinions, I somehow think I'm more of a memoirist in hiding.  So much of what I write is based upon what I am experiencing or have experienced and oftentimes, I use the tool to make more sense of it all or as my personal documentary.

This morning, my brain received another prompt.  As I waltzed around my living room with my dance partner, the dust mop, the words "clean break" broke through.  I was unusually happy to have received such a prompt and that I had the time to play with it, to wonder why those words had come to me.  A few weeks ago, I wrote about Proprioceptive Writing and for those who read that and still do not understand it, this is a classic example.  In processing the words, I ask myself what do I mean by them and where do they fit into a bigger picture or a future write.  I'm delighted to think that I have acquired the skill and that I can put it to good use.  That far surpasses my experiences in trying to learn Algebra or how to string pearls.

The day after we had the offer on our condo accepted, I visited with my father and during our conversation, I asked if I might take Mom's set of pots and pans on to the new home.  A few years ago, when she was feeling well, she bought a nice set and now, they sit in the kitchen cabinets untouched.  I figured it was a reasonable request, one made to a man who eats frozen dinners exclusively.  He said "I'll have to think about it" and my heart sank.  I became angry and bitter about the answer.  After all, I was there, having coffee with him, coffee that I brought, after doing his grocery shopping for the week, a chore I have done for the past three years without failure.  I politely replied that it was okay and vowed to not ask again.  The following week, after grocery shopping, we sat down to coffee again and now it was his turn to bring it up.  "When are you moving?" was the question.  I replied and then, "I don't want you to take anything from the kitchen".  I was not surprised but in an instant I got the picture.  It was a total epiphany in one tiny slice of time. And as I thought, a bolt of lightning went through my head and the words "when we die, we understand everything" appeared.  No, I wasn't dying, but all of a sudden.......I understood.  "Okay, Dad, I get it.  You want to leave everything just as it was when Mom was here, don't you?" He nodded and seemed relieved that his rejection of my idea was not going to be met with an emotion.  "It's fine. I think it is very sweet of you and I totally respect that". And then, I thought of the coffee pot story, one to which I had attached so much sentiment.  Not long after Mom died, I asked for the large electric pot to replace a broken one at our house. Why would he ever have need for a ten-cup pot? Instead, he told me to use his credit card and buy myself a new one. I seriously mistook the gesture for one in which he might have recognized all the favors done and thought it nice to have a new coffee pot in return. Alas, I was wrong, I understand that now.

I'm not Mom.  I don't want to be Mom. I look a lot like Mom but I'm Lynn and every time I show up, I bring a vision with me. Mom. Granted, some people who lose people they have loved, are happy to have carbon copies who are still alive.  My Mom was that good, that loved, that irreplaceable, my father's One-And-Only, and I'm a constant reminder of what he no longer has.  Sure, it's hard for him but think about how incredibly difficult it is for me. He probably would be happier were I to open the door and throw his groceries in.  He sits in his sun-room with me, drinks coffee, only to be polite or to have the minimum of social contact required.  He does not enjoy it nor do I.  We both do what we have to do and I'm not always certain that what we do is good for either of us.  He needs to really feel her loss, to really get it that she is not there and never will be. That she will not be clanking pots and pans around.  He still needs to grieve.

In orthopedics you learn that there are two basic types of bone fractures, simple and compound, that one is less complicated than the other and heals quickly. A simple fracture in totally internal, along clean lines. A compound or Greenstick fracture is one in which the bone actually bends, sometimes penetrating to the outside, and they are nasty little fellows.  They take more time to heal, cause more pain and more complications but eventually, they do heal, scarring is very likely to occur, and the affected limb might look different. My father has suffered a massive compound fracture.

I need a clean break.