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Archive for the ‘going home’ Category

For far too many reasons; some I understand, some I do not…  I am not a Holiday person.

I have great memories of Holidays spent with cousins, Aunts, Uncles, Mother, Dad, a brother, sharing food and laughter and traditions that were so much a part of who we were, who are family was.

But now, Mother and Dad are gone, my brother and I most of the time, do not speak, most of those Aunts and Uncles are long gone, and many of those cousins with whom I would play capture the flag in a pitch-black basement and with whom I would share hugs and laughter, would rather not share any space with me, because I’m gay and they are “Christian” and in their hearts and minds, the two do not mix.

And so, I am left with no family tradition, for basically, there is no “family” with which to share it. There are moments when the loss of these things overwhelms me (watching It’s a Wonderful Life, singing Silent Night, etc.) and I find myself wiping tears away and wondering what we all wonder when things and people are lost from our lives. How did things get so crazy? Why is family not family anymore? How do you spend half of your life with these people, and then not see them or speak to them for the other half of your life?

And then I understand: These feelings? This is just life.  I know I could have never become this grown-up person I am had I not left the confines of that small town and broke the hold my conservative family had on me. We don’t share the same values, we don’t value the same lives, we don’t agree on politics, we don’t really agree on much of anything. I’ve learned to be grateful for the memories, and for those people who helped me grow and loved me as best they could.

For many, myself included, the Holidays are memories of simpler times – not always better times, but certainly simpler times. From what I see, there’s way too much pressure on making the holidays perfect – perfect decorations, perfect food, perfect gifts, perfect, perfect, perfect.

None of us are perfect, no holiday will ever be, or should ever have to be, perfect.  Susan and I love our time with the kids and the grand kids. Our beautiful tree sits in the corner and puts a magical glow over the living room, but perfect would never even enter the conversation. We take the holidays one day at a time and enjoy whatever that day brings us. Just being with her, well that’s all the holiday I need in my life.

Embrace whatever you must to get you through these weeks. If you watch the movies and listen to the music, let yourself go to those places that make you cry. It proves that you’re human, it proves that you’ve grown and become stronger.  It shows that you’ve made a life of your own, but you also remember from where you came.

Say Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays or just smile and say nothing. There are no rules to follow for getting through the emotions and memories that always find their way to your heart.

And as you go into 2017, remember to sprinkle kindness wherever and whenever you can. The world is going to need kindness.  Bigly…

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Each of us have moments that are life affirming. Moments that make you understand why you’re here, and exactly what it is that matters in your life.  Yesterday I had one of those moments…

I was standing in the mist, at a fence, waiting with my camera in hand for my granddaughter Courtney to walk into her college graduation. Waiting to capture that moment with her proudly wearing her cap and gown, living in the moment for which she had worked so very hard.

As I waited for her, I found myself thinking about my life; this life that had brought me to this fence – to this misty moment. It wasn’t an easy journey getting here; and yet this life that I live now is the easiest thing I have ever done.

For those who have lived a lie – you know of what I’m speaking when I say that life is not always what it seems. I spent years pretending I wasn’t gay; when in fact I knew I was gay from the moment I understood what gay was. I’ll save the whole life story thing for another time; just let me say it flashed before my eyes as I was waiting for Courtney to come into view.

The one thing that was clear to me was that my life was meant to have Susan in it.  It’s been 33 years, and still I know she was, and is, the love of my life.

Without Susan – I would have never been waiting for Courtney. I’m not really sure where I would have been, but it wouldn’t have been at that fence waiting for this most special of moments.

Without Susan – I wouldn’t have these children and these grandchildren who have blessed my life, keep me young and fill me with a certain kind of love I never knew existed.

Without Susan -I would never have understood the importance of living a life that’s honest and open. I would never have understood that any other sort of life isn’t really a life at all – it’s only a dream; an illusion of life.

Without Susan – I would have missed so much of what is right and good about living, about loving, about struggling, about putting down roots and watching them grow into these beautiful things called children and grandchildren.

I was pondering all these deep things when I looked up and saw this beautiful smile and saw Courtney waving at me. I wiped away the tears, focused my camera and snapped the shots we’ve all waited years to capture.

I walked back to where Susan and the rest of our family was seated and sat down, weary from all the emotion. Susan put her arm around me and asked: “Did you get to see her? Did you get the shots?”  I smiled at her and said: “Yes, and so much more…”

Life?  It’s about love – that’s it.  Love…

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So, here I am – this baby booming, white woman wondering what it is I can say about the unrest in America that will not upset anyone on any level.

Seems to me – no matter what I might say, someone will take it wrong and before I can blink an eye, feelings are hurt, words are spoken, and there is more chaos, more anger, more dissent  in a world already filled with way too much anger and intolerance.

Let me simply say this; I grieve for America. I grieve for all of us. Every age, every religion, every race, every gender, every sex, every political party, every protestor, every mom, every child; every single one of us.

For the thing that unites us is that we are all Americans – and this – this is the thing we all tend to forget from time to time. We are all Americans.

Is the bar equal for all of us?  Absolutely not – but that doesn’t make anyone more of an American than another.

I can’t sit here and say I understand the life of an African American living in the neighborhood called “The Avenue” in Baltimore, MD.  I’m a 62-year-old white woman living in a nice neighborhood in San Diego, CA. What on earth can I possibly know of their life? It would be wrong of me to even speculate on any of it.

What I can sit here and say is simply this; “I’m sorry.” I’m sorry people in your American feel it’s okay to judge who you are by the color of your skin, or who you love, or what you believe, or where you live, or how much money you have – or don’t have. I’m sorry you feel unwanted, unloved and unheard in an America where every citizen is supposed to have an equal voice. I’m sorry politicians are more concerned about money and power than they are about doing the work of the people. I’m sorry.

The bottom line for me is this – I treat every single person I meet with dignity and respect. I am not a bigot – I am tolerant – (I’m a lesbian – I understand and know what intolerance looks and feels like). I try and send into the world a feeling of love and acceptance, even when I really don’t understand because it’s not my job to judge –

It’s my job to love…

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Ready or not – another year looms in front of us – which also means another year is behind us.

The question is – what will you do with this New Year – this 2015?

I am not a New Year’s resolution sort of gal. I have found that my resolutions – as great as they may sound – are too far-reaching – and in the end I am more disappointed with myself for falling short – once again – of the demands I have placed on myself.

There are no resolutions this year. No lose weight, no write a blog a day – no take a picture a day – none of that has even crossed my mind.

There are only the promises I have made to myself to be a better person. I can be kinder, I can be more loving, I can be more understanding, I can be less judgmental, I can be me.  A better version of me – but me.

I spent a portion of yesterday (New Year’s Eve) afternoon at Ft. Rosecrans National Cemetery.  There was a woman and her little daughter, both wrapped in blankets, sitting in lawn chairs beside the grave of a fallen solider. The grave was new – so this woman’s loss was new – our nation’s loss was new.

My heart ached for her loss – for her pain – for her suffering. It was in that moment that I realized I needed to live my best life, and it was in that moment that I made those promises to myself to be kinder, to be more loving, more understanding.

People are suffering every single day. They survive things I can only imagine. They beg for food – for money – for clothes. They live in boxes. People face Cancer, Alzheimer’s. They die in War…

I know I won’t be perfect every single day, I know I will make mistakes. Still – I’m going to be a better me.

How about you?

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I recently read this Native American tale that tells the story of a young boy speaking with his grandfather.

One evening an old Cherokee told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people.He said, “My son, the battle is between two wolves inside us all. “One is Evil – It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.“The other is Good – It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith.”The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather: “Which wolf wins?”The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”

It’s easy to feed the Evil Wolf – Blame everyone in your life for your troubles –that way you don’t have to take any responsibility for anything you’ve said or done because – well – it’s not your fault – it’s the way you were raised, or taught, treated or whatever excuse you can make others believe is responsible for your behavior.  You can be this arrogant, rude, unkind person who skips through life unaware of the hurt and despair you’ve let in your wake.  You’re unaware – because you don’t care. Why should you – it’s not your fault.

The Evil Wolf is the easy way out. It’s simple, it takes no thought, and certainly allows you to hold onto old hurts, self-pity, anger and grudges for as long as you like – it’s what I call wallowing…

I will admit to feeding this wolf many years ago…

The Good Wolf – well – that takes some work. Joy, peace, hope, humility, kindness, generosity, truth, compassion… these things involve others – and emotions and a sense of belonging.  This means you have to show up – emotionally and physically.

Serenity comes only when our soul is untroubled and at peace. And we are only untroubled and at peace when our lives are lived for the common good.  At least – this is what I have learned about my life.

I’m not saying the Evil Wolf never gets fed – I’m saying I try and keep it to a few hors d’oeuvres every now and then – because well – I’m only human.

The Good Wolf is the one I try and feed on a daily basis.  Love, Hope, Compassion – these bring me Joy. I don’t want anger, envy, jealousy, regret, resentment or ego in my life. Why would anyone?

These wolves – This good and evil – It’s a choice we all must make in our lives. At some point, we all have to look around and realize that the common denominator in all of our tails of woe is – you/me. And the common denominator in our tales of happiness? It’s also you/me.   It’s our choice – it’s our life.

So… Which Wolf Do You Feed?

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For the past 2 days I have thought of little other than the fires that are burning to the North and East of my home here in San Diego County. It’s been unusually hot in San Diego County – over 100 – and windy. The sort of weather we expect in September or October – certainly not in the middle of May. And yet – here it is.

Susan and I are safe – We have electric – We have the internet – We even have a portable Air Conditioner that keeps us quite comfortable. We have food and water and a bed to sleep in. Our children and grandchildren are safe – but  others are not so fortunate.  My heart breaks to watch the devastation and see homes going up in flames. I feel helpless and without a sense of stability. There is this sense that all is not safe in our world.

Southern California is dry – I mean – 100 year drought dry.  The canyons that surround our home are filled with things that would probably ignite if someone just has the thought of a burning match.  Add to that the signs that tell me there could be unexploded weapons buried there – and you have the formula to keep me awake at night when fires are burning.

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I’ve also been thinking the past 2 days about the people in the world who live with the threat of fire and bombs and gunfire and death every day of their lives.  I can’t imagine how their lives must be. In certain parts of the world – this is their life – this is what they know. There fears are mostly a reality, and my fears seem minuscule compared to what they face.

But, the thing is – these are my fears, and this is my home – mine and Susan’s. I understand that most of our things can be replaced. Still, I love where I live and my neighbors could never be replaced. I’ve never lived anywhere where I have been so loved, so cared for and accepted for exactly who I am. Susan and I are safe here; and that means more than you could ever know.

Everyone wants and needs to feel safe in their home. Safe from abuse, safe from violence, safe from prejudice, safe from harm, safe from a world that sometimes chooses to belittle and judge.  We all deserve such a life, such a home, such a refuge. We are blessed with such a place.

Now – if I could just do something about those unexploded weapons that are scattered all over this place I call home…

Keep San Diego County in your thoughts and your prayers.  We need all the goodness we can get…

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Lots of “stuff” running through my mind this morning – you know what I’m talking about…  Nothing in particular, just a whole bunch of jumbled up thoughts that didn’t seem to have comas separating them.

I decided to take myself to my favorite spot by the Pacific Ocean in La Jolla to just clear my head, and place some comas in the thoughts that were running amok in my head.

On the drive over to La Jolla, I was listening to my Frank Sinatra station and there was Peggy Lee singing:   ♫ “Is that all there is, Is that all there is? If that’s all there is my friend, then let’s keep dancing – let’s break out the booze and have a ball, if that’s all there is…” ♫

Of course my mind went there… Now, Theresa Caputo – The Long Island Medium – tells me every week on her show  that this most certainly is not all there is, and the noises and voices that happen in my house tell me that this most certainly is not all there is, and my Christian upbringing tells me that this is most certainly not all there is – but still – my mind went there as I was singing along with Peggy Lee.

What is this really is all there is.  What then?  What have I done with my life?

Once I had parked the car, my camera and I went for a long walk. We saw birds and flowers and seals. We listened to the ocean and seagulls and the wind as it hit me in the face. I put my camera in the car – grabbed my lawn chair – and I sat on one of the cliffs by the water, and I simply listened to what the Universe was telling me.

I’m going to be 62 years old this year. I haven’t always lived a life that was good and honest, and I haven’t always been the best person I could have been. When I look at my life now and know that I have more years behind me than I do in front of me, I think about things in an entirely different way.

What’s done is done. I can’t change anything, and honestly, I’m not sure that I would. Every decision I made, every mistake I made, every turn in the road – it’s brought me to where I am right now and made me the person I am right now.

And right now – I’m a happy girl. I have the love of a wonderful woman who makes me happier than I ever imagined I could or would be. I have friends that love me unconditionally and make me feel special, cherished and cared for. My brother and I have contact with one another – it’s not constant – but you know what – it’s contact – and I’ll take that over no contact at all. My ex-husband and I are friends – as we have always been. My biological family who disowned me – well – they still disown me – and that’s okay. It’s okay because my family, the biological ones who have stood by me,  and my friends who surround me, they love me big time!

I try to live a life now that is filled with love, peace, joy and happiness. I try and be there for my family and friends, and I try to make things as easy as possible. I don’t like drama – I don’t like conflict. I love my friends, my family, and my Susan more than they could ever know.

So Peggy Lee – If this is all there is – I’ll consider myself lucky and blessed to have had so very much…

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