My mother had a diary. She wrote in it quite often during my childhood. I don’t know if she wrote every day, but quite often. She was the inspiration for me to get my first diary, the inspiration for years of journaling. Her entries were … Continue reading My Mother’s Diary
I was listening to a podcast by Michelle Obama earlier today. She was discussing women’s health and talked a bit about our fear of aging and our general dislike of our own bodies. It’s a common belief, but I’m not sure I understand anymore. Sure, I have disagreements with my body. I’m not happy that I have seizures. I would like that to change. But, at 49 years old, I have to admit that I look in the mirror and I feel pretty good about what I see.
I don’t see the image that society would call a a model or a superstar. What I see though is a story and that story is far more valuable than any commercial image that we’re sold.
I see my scars. I see where my cat jumped on my face when I was asleep some years ago, missing my eye by only an inch or so. I see where my friend’s dog took took a chunk out of my arm leaving a mark that looks strangely like a smiley face. I see that reminder on my finger of when I was maybe six or seven and I wanted to see if I was strong enough to break a glass with my bare hand, I was. I see the reminder of swimming with friends in college and jumping off the cliff and the memory of when my puppy in his over energetic play landed on my ankle causing it to break, and the lines of surgeries most notably my my VNS implant that keeps me safe from seizures. My scars are like a physical storybook of myself.
I look at my hair. It’s wild. It’s always been wild ever since it started growing when I was two years old. But now, it’s something special. It’s turned almost entirely white. It’s been turning this way for years. I never really got into coloring it. I dyed it at home a couple times, but just for fun. The white means a lot to me. My father’s hair was silver or white since black and white pictures. I don’t know if anyone remembers or knows what color hair grandma had before hers turned white. They both had the most beautiful white hair. I look in the mirror and I see them. How can I not embrace the gray that reminds me of these beautiful people who are now just memories?
I look at my body. There’s extra here and there. My muscles aren’t as toned as they used to be. But, I take good care of myself. I eat healthfully. I walk and do yoga and maybe some other workouts. Still, it’s the body of someone who’s lived some years. Yet, I think of my mom. At my age she’d lost one of her breasts to cancer, was bald, and dealing daily with the impacts of chemotherapy. I cannot feel anything less than extremely grateful for my body and all its flab.
I look at my face. I see that turkey chin that never used to be there when I was twenty and I see all my aunts and uncles and who I am becoming. I am reminded how all of these supposed imperfections tell me who I am and how proud I am to be this person. I have been gifted this life in this family and my body tells me each day who I am.
Tomorrow would be my mom’s 92nd birthday. Wow, it’s hard to believe she’s been gone so long, 36 years since her last breath and she’s still impacting lives. Isn’t that the strangest thing? Our bodies may be done, but our spirits really do live on. … Continue reading Living Life With Love
It was on July 7th, 1984 at 3pm that my Mom passed over into the spirit world. She’d had a recurrence of her cancer and had spent the last days of her life in the hospice unit of one of the local hospitals. I was … Continue reading Honoring Life
Today’s words are in memory of a childhood friend and in honor of those who are surviving right now in situations less ideal than my own.
We’d just started our sophomore year of high school. It must have been maybe the second week of classes. I don’t remember the exact date. What I do remember is walking into school that day to find my classmates in the hallways crying. Eventually the pieces came together. There had been a party. Kids were drinking. He was beaten. He didn’t survive.
We went to a small school. Some of us had known him since kindergarten or maybe even before. Now he was gone and a space in our lives was empty.
I was talking with some of my students yesterday. They’re in college now, just a few years older than I was when I first learned how alcohol can kill. They reminded me that people today do just like we did then. They use alcohol and drugs to fight boredom and frustration.
I’d been talking with one of the staff of Someplace Safe this week too. We know that alcohol and drugs plus people stuck together with limited outlets means an increase in violence.
If you’re reading this and find that this staying home thing is increasing your drinking, I am going to ask you to take a look at how that drinking is impacting you and your relationships with the others you’re sharing space with. Are you being respectful to yourself and those others? You and your relationships are worth more than the bottle.
If you’re one of the people who’s in an unsafe space. First, I send you love and strength. You’re not alone. Please, if you are able, call, email, or text, your local domestic violence support group, a friend or family member, police, or someone else you can trust. These are hard times. We all need our support systems. Groups like Someplace Safe are finding creative ways to keep working and get people into safe places out of harm’s way. You deserve to be safe and treated with caring and respect.
Take good care friends.
My stomach is still in recovery mode so breakfast and dinner were small and healthy.
I decided that Sunday is my day to go out to eat this week. It fit well with having been low on calories the past two days (down 3 lbs) and not interested much in many foods with my stomach still being out of sorts. So, lunch was pizza. It was okay and I was okay with just some raw veggies and hummus and a bit of cottage cheese for dinner too. I don’t think I’ll need any more today. I hope my stomach is back to normal tomorrow.
It is a help though that I happened to get sick right as I decided to stop eating out again. It gave me a reason to go enjoy myself and now I can enjoy the tasty and healthy things that I picked up at the grocery store on the way home and maybe try out some new recipes.
I suspect it’s simply part of the reality of being middle-aged, my sickness. It happens periodically, though not monthly, and lasts about a week. You’d think there was a better way of being female than having hormonal changes to deal with so much of your life. Ah well. It is life and many have these changes so much worse than me. I remain hopeful that continuing to improve my diet will improve this piece of my life too as will a bit more aging. There are benefits to aging after all.
It’s getting to be that time of year again. Some years it passes with barely a notice. Other years I find myself thinking about it for weeks as it nears. The anniversary of my mom’s death is coming up again on July 7th.
This year there’s something different again. I realized it the other day. While my health is good, I am entering “the cancer years.” My mom was about my age when she was first diagnosed with breast cancer. What a strange thing to think about. Walking down the street, it just came to me and I realized that were I in her shoes I’d only have six year left. How bizarre.
Personally, my plan at the moment is to continue on for at least another forty or fifty years and to maintain and improve my health along the way. Still, I find myself thinking of her and the fact that we don’t know when our end is coming.
Mom was a religious woman. God was her center. I don’t claim her belief system, but I recognize in myself the same importance to believe. Where she spent her hours in prayer meetings and churches, reading the bible, and fingering rosaries, I lay down my tobacco and breathe, walk and burn the sage.
It’s a good time to recognize my similarities with the woman I loved and still love 35 year after she’s crossed over the river. Nearly 48 years into my life and I am still getting to know myself. That’s powerful. That’s good.
Still, it’s scary to make another mammogram appointment. Yet, I will go in, breathe deep, and know in my heart that my path is long and is to be filled with health and good things. It is for me to live each day. Cancer was her story and it is not mine. I am thankful.
My friend Walt used to tell a story. He’d tell people of an Anishanaabe elder who spoke of the fire at the beginning of the world, “No” he’d say ,”before the beginning.” All the people sat together around that fire with the creator. One by … Continue reading Who Am I?
It was probably over twenty years ago that I had the idea of collecting stories from my father of his youth. My plan was to write a book.
Now, two decades later the story is changing. I never recorded those stories and the time has gone by. My Dad turned 90 this past March. His memories are leaving him. I got to see him this weekend. I made the trip home, almost 500 miles, for our family reunion and just to spend a little father-daughter time.
It’s a new time. I remember when I was a little girl watching Dad tossing the seed corn bags over his shoulder, throwing hay bales, working on farm machines, doing all the work that needed to be done. I remember him sitting in the recliner reading his Sunday paper, sitting in the hospital room watching Mom die, taking up his place in the kitchen after she was gone.
My Dad never graduated from high school. He wasn’t meant for the classroom. He’s always thought that because he struggled in school that he failed, that he was somehow dumb. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Dad’s journey started on a farm in Port Washington, Wisconsin the second of four children. His father died when Dad was seven. Within a few years the family had to move to town and Dad was working for neighboring farmers to make a little money and follow his passion as it became clear that school would never be the place for him.
When he grew up he joined the Navy where he served for several years before marrying my mom and starting a family. He eventually started farming with his father-in-law and went on to continue farming for over forty years while he also worked full time at a power plant and, for many years, sold seed corn.
He knew the fields like the back of his hand. He knew every road in the county. This weekend he and I went out for a ride. We went to visiting and stopped at a couple cemeteries. We talked about the fields. He confused the soybeans and the corn. We drove the roads he’s ridden for nearly a century. He told me that he didn’t recognize where we were.
But still, we traveled and we talked. When it was time for me to leave to return to my current home, he held my hand and looked my eyes and smiled. It was a smile I remembered. I saw it before. I saw it on his aunt’s face. Sr. Christine was in her 90’s when she held my hands for the last time and smiled with such sweetness and love, that combination of wisdom and childlike beauty that age creates.
My being is divided. I would both love to see my Dad again, to hold his hands, to hug him, to take another drive, to talk some more and I am mostly ready to say goodbye. He’s been and continues to be my hero. That never changes. The question remains what to do about that book?
Continuing my Turning Toward meditation this morning, I find myself asking if my attempt to look at my need to seek control might not have some aspects of seeking control within it. Still, it was an interesting exercise and I appreciate what I saw and am left to wonder what might be opening up.
This morning I mentally walked into the meditation acknowledging that I struggle with a need to find some control in my life. Many years ago it came to life in what maybe was properly labeled as anorexia. Recently, life has been pretty stressful and I saw, just for a moment, some old tools resurfacing. Twenty plus years after I thought my battle with my eating disorder was over I found myself thinking about how I could cut my food consumption in some unhealthy ways. Thankfully, today I have a wealth of other tools in my collection that I didn’t have two decades ago. I was able to look at myself and say “Woah, I don’t want to go down that path again. What’s happening here? What do I really need?” Thus, I meditate, write, balance time with good people and to myself, walk a lot, and with the spring am starting to garden again and eat the fresh veggies that I’ve grown in community with others. With help, I’ve also been able to address some of the things that have caused the stress. One by one they’re being taken care of and life is smoothing out again.
Still, I wonder about that control piece. Why do I need to be in charge? Why do I avoid asking for help? I’ve found some answers in meditation of late, but it feels there is more. Yet today, the question refused to be acknowledged. Instead, the meditation took me to the woods. It was the woodlot on the back of the farm where I grew up, just a tiny patch of trees, but big enough for a little girl’s dreams and firewood for the stove in winter.
I saw the box where we used to store some of wood cutting equipment, at least I think that’s what used to be in that box. I never did much with it. The woods was a play place for me mostly. It was where Hawkeye lived, a chickenhawk who was my symbol of grace, strength and freedom as a child. It was also home to unicorns, fairies, and an array of other magical beings as well as the creatures of this world. There were tall trees that had fallen and made wonderful climbing toys. It was a magical forest.
Hmmm…. maybe this morning’s meditation was simply reminding me of a time and place where I didn’t need control and it was ok
That’s the thought for the day. Thanks for reading. And, thanks to Feedspot for adding Sustainablelifeinaction to the to top 75 Sustainability Blogs! https://blog.feedspot.com/sustainability_blogs/