31 January 2010

Dear Brigid

I am feeling all kinda prickly and like pretty bad company. Gosh, aren't you glad you stopped by? Since I moved mother in and have been caring for her, I have these times where I am kind of blue. I can't put my finger on anything in particular. I don't really mind preparing meals or dispensing meds. Checking on her, repeating myself many times. Well, some of it makes me roll my eyes. There isn't really anything else I want to do, or where I would want to be. I am a little bored maybe, a little lonely. Like after you bury someone, people are there and checking on you, then within a couple of weeks they just want to move on and not bring it up to you. I get that. I do that. I mean, ultimately it is just you and that's how it is supposed to be. So, I am in the eye of the storm. Initially there was lots of attention and there will be again when things are worse. But we are coasting right now, and I am glad for it, but, yawn. Blech. Yuck.

Since I defined for myself the need to receive the love there is and not shut it out, I thought I would chose an act of kindness bestowed on me and see if that doesn't turn things around.

This one is about Brigid.

Since I have the task of cleaning out the house I grew up in and where my mother lived for 50 years, I have felt the need to get rid of things from my own home. I put a message on my FaceBook page that I had some knitting magazines and would anyone want them. Brigid claimed them and sent her address. I know Brigid from the Oklahomans on Etsy. We have crossed paths at a few craft shows. I have even met her mother, who is a hoot and a doll. Like mother, like daughter. I was quite happy to ship my stack to Tulsa. She sent a 'got it and thanks' message, all was happy and complete.

Then I received a box.
I was in shock. Just delighted. Brigid sent a cute note of thanks. She FOUR of her handmade scrubs. All of this was just to be nice and say thanks. But the part that was just on another level was the necklace.
It has two birds and my favorite blue. So personal. She spent her time and energy on me. Beyond that, she personalized this necklace just for me.
Interestingly, Brigid's grandmother is in a bad way. I hope this makes you feel better, dear girl. I am near tears writing this. Thank you, Brigid. I feel the love. I receive that. And it did file those prickles right off me.

28 January 2010

Tennessee Magpie

In keeping with a recent  post where I talked about my admiration for Rebecca Sower, I continue, in a sense, here with a recent trip to Tennessee. My husband's mother lives there and we've visited a few times. I absolutely love Tennessee. It is familar to Oklahomans in that the pace is like home and the people are friendly. However, it is greener and rockier. I just love it.

Three things were nice about this trip. First we got to see the new house that Phyllis and her boyfriend built. Boyfriend? Partner? Husband-ish? Gorgeous place with sunrise over the ridge. Phyllis is really a pleasure to be around. We just don't see each other often enough, not even every year. If I didn't like her we would see her constantly right? She has such great personal style as well, especially when it comes to jewelry. She isn't afraid to wear big artistic pieces. Lovely.

Second good thing is that when we got there I was just coming off my Silver Bella experience and two Rebecca Sower classes. Knowing that she lives in Tennessee, I kept thinking we were traveling the same roads she does. I love Tennessee. She loves Tennessee. It does explain her sweet, clean ways, really, to see her home state. I looked in all her windows, but she never answered the door...

The third great thing about this trip was going to antique stores I'd never been too. Also, it was good to be flying with the concomitant limited space for purchases. That helps inhibit my impulse control issue and limits how much I drag home. While there, I started buying buttons. Like jewelry, you can collect many, many buttons and they do not take up much space. A brilliant new obsession. Here is a calendar plate, another obsession, with earrings, another obession, and buttons that I found on our day. Look, travel size!

Phyllis gave me some buttons once she saw what a freak I was being for them. She let me look through hers and take what I wanted. I had to use such restraint not to just take the whole box.

I mean, I liked Phyllis before, but now...are you kidding me?

Finally, I did realize there was a fourth good thing. The taffy. Also, I did not go to nor look in the windows of the Sower home. She won't tell me where she lives...odd.

24 January 2010

The Newspaper

In an effort to receive the love that exists and too often goes unaccepted, I would like to honor this simple gesture. My husband places the  newspaper at the foot of my mother's bed every morning. Every single morning. My mother reads the paper front to back, every word. She always has. He knows how important the newspaper is to her and places it there for her to see first thing of a morning.

It is such a simple act for him. It is so huge to me. I receive the love and acceptance of our situation that he demostrates by doing this.

19 January 2010

Ms. Sower

I have flatly decided not to do a post about Haiti. I am sure we all feel the same impotent horror about the situation. When I first heard about an earthquake there, my first thought was about Rebecca Sower. She is an artist I admire greatly and she writes the first blog I ever followed. I am frankly infatuated with all things Rebecca. She has visited Haiti on missions efforts. Haiti is clearly a part of her heart and therefore her blog. She had just returned from Haiti and had been posting about the people she had fallen in love with. She doesn't talk about the work she does there for them, she posts about the love and joy the Haitians have given to her. She brought Haiti to me. I think she would be extremely proud of doing that. So when I heard about the destruction there my first thought was about how close we came to losing Rebecca. Small. Selfish. Egocentric. But there it is. I will not talk about my feelings that have evolved from that moment, but I will tell you to read Rebecca's blog for a tender look into Haiti and the lovely people there.

I will also tell you about Rebecca and how she has touched me. I was given a link to her blog about a year ago by Jemellia. I became smitten by her work as has the world. She is well known in her field of ephemera and collage. I love the Internet so much because you can admire someone, get to know them and also purchase their work. I bought an art quilt pendant from her last March. It was packaged lavishly and sweetly.

The pendant is so lovely and delicate yet durable.

Jemellia and I went to Silver Bella in November and took both of the Sower classes offered. We loved just looking at her. When you admire someone and then get to take their class, work with their materials and have them right there to answer questions...it is...I am unable to describe it. I was star struck. She is so willowy and soft spoken, sweet, delicate but also firmly grounded and exudes a kind of glow and quiet confidence. I esteem her. We just loved looking at the simple way she wore her apron. This just made Jemellia and I swoon. The twist on those straps...

We took her Cigar Box Assemblage class. Here is the kit. It was so hard to open it. I just really wanted to be present for the three hours we got to be in that class. I knew how precious that time was and how it would affect me. It is a snow globe in my mind, I can return to it, give it a shake and feel shiny.

For this piece, I used little photographs of my family. Rebecca said something about not having borrowed relatives.

Look how pretty the final product was. This is the sign of a great instructor. We were all able to complete a high quality piece of art.

The next class was the Hodge Podge Journal. She is known for her assemblages and for her quirky little journals. Another kit. Open it Robin, just open it...

Along the way..

My journal remains unfinished. I only want to go back to the kit and materials when I have the time to really be there. It is a way to connect with how much that woman's work inspires me. I want to honor that. I know that sounds so, kinda like, I need a real friend or something. But, I enjoy having an elusive love like this with her. It doesn't need to make sense to anyone else.

On vendor night she was right next to our 2 Birds In A Pod booth. While that must have been a bit of a disapointment to Ms. Sowers, we were thrilled just to watch her work. So calm. Such class. Oh and her apron. Just...hugable.

Seriously, we look a little alike right? A little? Look how puffed up I am next to her. What a joy. Really, what fun.

Thank you for getting to this point with me. Now you know how I feel about Rebecca Sower. Reading her posts about the Haitians she loves makes me realize how founded my admiration for her truly is.

12 January 2010

Girlfriends Are Essential

Lots of blogs I follow...wait, I follow lots of blogs. I am a collector, ney, hoarder of blogs. I often compulsively collect things. The nice thing about collecting blogs is they are free and take up little space. Except from an anxiety standpoint. I have actually had to start treating my blog list like I treat my closet. One in. one out. At a certain point many years ago I felt like my closet was choking me. It had become that big Venus fly trap, Audrey II, in the musical. So I went through all the clothes with a machete so to speak and pruned. Honestly, this takes a few times to get it all clean. There are unnatural attachments to clothes. I also have a cure for that. If there is something in your closet that you just can't get rid of, but also do not wear, try this: put it on and wear it. Trust me, a day at work in a sweater with shoulder pads and beading will make it quite it easy to part with that garment.

This was not the point of this post initially, but I will get around to the point. Or not. I am under a great amount of stress and have a hard time staying on topic.

The rule for my closet is 'one in one out' and you probably can understand it immediately. For each new garment entering, one garment must leave my closet. They do not have to be equal, two new sweaters may push out a purse and a pair of sandals. It helps maintain a constant number of garments. I really like to challenge myself to 'one in, two out' but frankly that second item may just be a pair of socks or a tank top. Don't forget about underwear. Please realize it is time to let go of the pair of period panties with hippos on them.

So I am a blog collector and when that list of blogs I follow hit 100, I instigated the 'one in one, out rule.' It is really hard to cut a blog. What if they only have 8 followers? They will know I have abandoned them. Number of followers is a bit like a grade, right? It is important to know if your grade is an F. Either step it up or drop out. Currently with 25 Blogspot followers I have a grade of D. I feel like I have stepped it up, and maybe I am also a D blogger. I still get so much out of this blog. I just hope my followers don't cut me. I also hope I don't cut myself.

So I started this post by saying 'lots of blogs I follow' then went on about following. That really is my point. I am a follower here on the internet. I have a whole life here. Blog friends. I also have some real friends. Quite a few. I do not however, collect real friends. I develop real friends. Real friendships are an entity like a marriage and almost all that implies. Commitment, intimacy, gifts, surprises, cards, looks, dirty looks, rolling eyeballs, snarky comebacks, fights, rage, tears, disappointments, ad nausem.

I have always felt friendships are so important. Really I have always put friendships first in my life. I am extremely loyal, to a fault, as they say. I was always far more hurt at a break up with a friend than with a boyfriend.

No idea why I developed this. I think as a little kid I realized I couldn't really count on siblings so I turned with a near obsession to my friends.

All that compulsion and obsession has really paid off. I have unbelievable, really, epic friendships. I also have some neofriendships here in Blogville that are amazing, an otherwise over used word that fits here well.

My original sentence was about many of the blogs I follow...well, many of the blogs I follow are defining a word or phrase for the year. I have been thinking about this and realized with my aforementioned low slope learning curve, I need far more than a year. I worked on forgiveness and shame for, uh, decades, but quite intensely for about four years.

I will not name a word for the year but for the horizon, the new frontier. I have rip roaring rage. Do I really want to chose RAGE as my word? I don't have to, it chooses me. It explodes out and holds me over the edge of a cliff. It erupts and lava floes form burning and scalding loved ones in their wake.

What I realize is, of course, rage is just a symptom. It is a childish, impulsive, reaction to a deep fear. That fear is probably, most of the time, the fear of feeling alone. Ergo my intense need for deep connections with people. Oh look, I am human.

I love my time alone. I need loads of it. But feeling alone is different. I have felt alone my whole life. Alone. Also, I have always felt loved. Paradox? Hmmmmmm. It is not enough to be loved. For me is about bonding. I have a bonding issue. I never realized that until this recent stress of my mother's illness, frailty and end of her life, which I am watching in my own home.

However, I really do not feel alone. For the first time.

So having close friendships and a wonderfully loyal husband wasn't enough. I needed to open myself a little further and receive that love and connection. Wanting it, and having it is not the same thing as receiving it.

So there. My new thing, my defining word, the new frontier is...receive. I will honor not just friendships, but the essential, powerful, quality of friendships in 2010 like never before.

Girlfriends are essential.

07 January 2010

Book Shelf: Best of Aught Nine

I was a reader as a kid then kind of backed off once I was pursuing science in college, then graduate school, seven years of research, and 20 years of teaching. Reading was work so I liked to use my hands for spare time and relaxing. In the last years I have started reading and realized I can't die, I have too many books to read.

My friend and I started a book club. It went like this...I was on a driving trip with my husband. In. An. R. V. That is a whole other story. Anyway, barrelling down the road in the big bus, I finished the last page of the best book I have ever read, closed the book, hugged it and sighed aloud.



Sound of that Cummings diesel pusher engine and 18 wheels, more or less.

I was telling Beverly that. Of course she asked "what was the book, who wrote it, how did you come across it, what was it about, how did it smell, glossy or matte?"

So we formed a book club about 7 years ago. We meet each month. The hostess selects the book and brings it to the last month's meeting, sells it to us, then feeds us while we talk about the book, taking home a new one.

These are my favorite five from 2009, some are book club books, some were on my own 'to read' list. I can highly recommend any of them.

5. Chocolat by JoAnne Harris. This was made into a movie years back. The movie is good but the book is a delight. Takes you to a chocolate shop in Paris complete with a priest with a secret and a bit of magic. There is a sequel as well which is on my 'to read' list.

4. The Middle Place by Kelly Corrigan. An autobiographical story about a young mother's breast cancer journey at the same time her father is diagnosed with cancer. It is actually upbeat, funny, and you really want to meet these people. I immediately googled videos of her because I really felt like I got to know Kelly. I missed her when all was said and done.

3. The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory. Have you seen any of the Showtime series The Tudors? I love Tudor England and this is a long story with tons of detail in a historical setting. Settle in and read and read with reckless abandon across the years of patriarchal English loves and lives. This is part of an entire series of exploration of the lives of woman in medieval England. Oh delicious, thank you Phillipa.

2. The Wisdom of Menopause by Christiane Northrup. I have never recommended a book more. Don't wait until you think you might be in perimenopause. Realize it can start in a woman's thirties. I do not joke about PMS or menopause. I think it is fine amongst your girlfriends but I hate when women are seen as irrational and defective because of natural hormonal ebbs and tides. These things give birth to babies, wisdom, traditions and bonding. This book is a road map to loving the changes.

1. Joy in the Morning by Betty Smith. Oh Betty, sigh. She wrote A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, another favorite of mine. This book explores young marriage. So simple. These gals from the 20s and 30s didn't examine their lives and spend time feeling unhappy whilst looking for joy. I can learn so much from that. The simplicity of a good bar of soap or bread, getting a meal at all. The smell of your husband. Sounds in the hall. My favorite book of the year.

Thank you for a great blogging experience in 2009. Comments have really been my favorite reading of the whole year. please don't be afraid to leave them. I am a comment monger, yes, I am.

01 January 2010

Oh One Oh One One Oh

Did you wake up reflective this morning? It is a new year and a new decade. I have been looking back and forward which is really my constant state anyway. The present moment is always my most elusive one. However on this bright morning, introspection seems appropriate.

New Year's Eve ten years ago at the edge of the millennium, we chose to spend it with my dear friend, my chosen sister and her family. My new husband and my newly turned 6 year old drove 4 hours to a small town to my girl's house. She and her husband had set up their simple quiet lives in a beautiful small town, tucked in the pine, near the freshest bluest lake in the state. They had two boys and a life I admired, but knew wasn't quite for me. It was always such a respite to visit them and live their Christ, neighbors and family sort of life.

While we were there I smelled marijuana. Her husband was sneaking outside and smoking pot. Listen, in the old days they allowed smoking in concert venues and they weren't just smoking Virgina Slims Menthol Lights, right? I have seen Kiss, Queen and Boston. Tom Petty, Flock of Seagulls and the Grateful Dead for God's sake. I knew the smell of some Maui Wowie, okay? I was so shocked that with our little kids right there he would be doing this. I never told my friend. How could she not know?

Anyway we left the next day as I have zero desire to spend anytime in the presence of drugs, I mean, I have a medical license I would like to maintain and a small child I would like to keep. Later my girl would reveal to me more shocking details in the same vein as my discovery. I will only say that this guy was not a good guy. He was a decidedly bad husband and father and a slovenly man. I have never known of a worse husband. I will not tell you the things he did, the list of the things he hasn't done is shorter and includes murder, armed robbery and child molestation. So there's that right?

But what ensued over the rest of last decade was me hearing these terrible discoveries she was making, and me saying she has to leave him. Leave him, divorce the bastard. Leave. Get out. But she so loved him and had a deep commitment to her marriage. She believed she had to forgive him and stay with him to keep him alive. She made a vow to God when she married him to stay with him forever.

Uhhhh, expletives here. That was so hard to swallow. So hard for me to understand. So about 4 years into their cycle of discovering something bad, confront, fight, and forgive, I started to realize how codependent I was on her marriage and problems. I was so angry. First I was mad at him. Then I was mad at her. I anguished over it. I started to realize one morning while working in the garden that this friendship with her was supposed to teach me some very important things about loving someone. And, oh lord, the big frontier...about forgiveness.

Yuck. I do not heart forgiveness.

I realized I would have to forgive this lousy husband of hers. I realized she would never leave him. If I wanted a relationship for a lifetime with her, pause...wanting a lifetime relationship was not even on my radar screen. She is my family, I would never forsake her. Never. So I must let go and forgive him. I realized how little I had forgiven myself. Oh shit, oh dear. It was on, dog. I had to forgive myself.

That divine moment started a many year journey for me into the murky world of forgiveness. I had done so much therapy and unearthed all the ugly things before. But I had not ever reached the depth that I needed to really let go of the dark parts of myself. The prayer "forgive me" is not enough for me. My learning curve has a very low rise with a long arch. Nearly flat.

So for about 4 years in the last decade I walked and thought. Asked and prayed. Wrote and drew. Meditated and read. No forgiveness was coming. I was able to let go of a lot of anger about my friend's husband. That was my playground for forgiveness. But my own forgiveness was really about shame. Oh ugly, dark, deathly shame.

It was not until I had the darkest most necessary depression of my life almost 2 years ago that I started to let shame go. The great majority of it burned up pretty quickly once the right crucible occurred. A necessary depression. A winter. A seed. An egg. The shell cracked, then broke and someone emerged that is carrying so much less guilt and shame. Oh, I highly recommend a depression like that for you. I just let myself be there. Waller a bit in the sadness and not feel ashamed for the depression.

I will say it. I no longer feel ashamed for feeling depressed. That was the key to a very strong lock.

So it also healed the anger I felt for my friend. It took about a year and a half for me to break the codependence, mostly break, I still need to have a little I guess. But we as friends, broke a bit. I don't know if she knew how messed up I was over our friendship but we went through some bad days together. Interestingly she was leaving her husband. He had actually spiraled so far down she realized there wasn't even a spiritual grappling hook big enough to salvage that shit.

Jewelry piece by Ingrid Dijkers which reads 'the shell must break before the bird can fly'.

So yesterday on the last day of 2009, on the last day of the first decade of the millennium, on a blue moon, my girl's divorce was finalized.


I actually felt sad a little about it. After wanting it so bad for her, it was not ultimately the outcome I wanted. I had hoped that man would get better, be better and give her the life with him she never had. Give the boys a fine example of who to be instead of an excellent example of who not to be. But it wasn't going to happen.

What a great lesson that decade provided to me in the form of a relationship with this beloved woman.

I love you shiny girl. Oh one, oh love.

Now find a great life for yourself this decade. Heal. Please know that your marriage and your struggles helped hurt, scar, teach and feed me.
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