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/
I wonder when I became a care taker rather than someone to be taken care of and what the balance of these things is? When did I decide that others were more valuable than myself and have I changed my mind?
My meditation of late has led me to a practice of turning toward. I’m being encouraged to take a look at something in my life that troubles me and sit with it for a bit. I’ve been recognizing that I am a “wonder woman.” I’ve known it for a long time, but this practice is encouraging me to look at it and see where it comes from. I help people. That’s what I do. That’s what I do for a living and that’s what I do for a life. I don’t like being helped though. I don’t really trust it. I like to be the one in charge of the process or simply just to do whatever it is myself.
The last two days as I’ve done this meditation laying in my bed I could feel my body tied down and the rock in the center of my stomach as my mind took me back to childhood again. Doesn’t it always go back to childhood? We must have all been messed up as kids.
This time it was back to grade school. I remember being really excited about going to school. I loved books. I wanted to learn. I wanted make friends and to have a nice teacher who cared about me. It didn’t totally work out that way. I did have nice teachers who cared about me. I learned a lot. I had a couple friends. But, I went to a small school so I wasn’t only picked on by the kids in my class, but by the entire school.
It was the 1970’s and 80’s. Grown ups didn’t step in much if at all to deal with bullying. I was just told I needed to get over being shy without being given any tools to do that. In some sense, it became my fault that I was being harassed. So, day to day I struggled. I wanted to have friends. I wanted to be a part and to have fun at this school that I’d dreamed of. I wanted to feel safe there. Instead my stomach was permanently clenched and I dreaded every moment never knowing when my tormentors would get me next. I tried to hide in plain sight. It sounds unbelievable to me now, but I don’t think I ever, in six years, asked to use the bathroom during school hours because I didn’t want to draw attention to myself. I just held it until I got home.
That wasn’t ok. I needed a grownup to help me and the other kids develop our relationships. There’s nothing to change now about what happened then and that’s ok. It’s just good for me to acknowledge what I needed and didn’t get and now I can move on. What happened then isn’t the determinant of what could happen in other situations if I allow myself to be helped or taken care of. I don’t need to always protect myself by being the one who only takes care. I can both take and accept. We each can.
Thank you for reading my thoughts today.
My beginning meditation practice continues to open my vault of memories and encourage me to look at myself asking questions of my experiences and responses. I don’t believe that there are bad people. I believe that there are people who are injured and need healing. I wonder now if that doesn’t make life more complicated? Wouldn’t it be easier to just be angry and just give up on the possibilities of forgiveness? What hurt and anger do I hold for myself when I don’t give it to others?
Many memories are resurfacing these days, some good and some sad or scary. One that I was surprised to see again came from sometime after I graduated college. I was back in town for some reason staying with friends. One of them had an extra bed in his room where his son usually stayed on weekends. That was where I was going to sleep. I felt totally safe. I’d been friends with this guy for several years. I was tired from my trip and went to sleep before he got home. When he came in that night he slid into my bed and began to grope. I swatted his hands away. He got up and went to his own bed. Neither of us ever spoke of what happened.
In seconds I went from feeling completely safe to terrorized with just a touch. He’s gone from my life now. We just didn’t stay in contact after I left town again.
For years I didn’t have a name for what happened. I’ll admit I didn’t know which bed in that room was his and which belonged to his son. I did blame myself. I said to myself that maybe I’d gotten into the wrong bed that night and maybe that caused him to think what he did was invited and ok. He was my friend. In my mind, I couldn’t translate the idea that it could possibly be assault. He wouldn’t hurt me, right? He walked away when my body stiffened and I swatted his hands away.
I had no name for what happened. All I knew is that the trust was broken and I couldn’t go back to that place of trusting again. I didn’t want to blame him, after all I don’t believe in bad people and what happened scared me and emotionally hurt me.
This morning I looked up the definition of sexual assault on several different online sites. I saw two things that struck me. It is any unwanted sexual contact. It is never the victim’s fault.
Maybe twenty years later now and I have a name for what happened. It was sexual assault. I can call it that. I can be part of that ever growing community of women who’ve been assaulted. No one wants to be part of that community, but a community it is and strength grows there.
It wasn’t my fault. It was his. I still don’t believe in people being somehow bad or evil. But, I will say he was responsible for his actions and what he did was wrong and hurtful and I didn’t deserve it.
Now, it’s time for me to get up from that bed in that room twenty years ago and walk out into the light of a new day. Thank you for sharing my journey.