Monthly Archives: October 2013

1st Lesson from a (blissed out) friend

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This is my girl Terrie and her new husband Darren. Their wedding was the excuse for me going back home a million years ago in May. Since my two week vacation lasted almost five months, I had front row seating to their first newlywed months, and I learned a lot – A LOT – about relationships from them.

Terrie and I were sisters-in-law for twenty years, and then we traded that in and have been sisters-in-love for the past twelve, so you could say we’ve known each other for a while now. Believe me when I tell you, she never had that look on her face for the first twenty-five years of our acquaintance. But now? It’s her default expression. 

So I think maybe my girl’s got something to teach me about relationships. And maybe I’m (finally) ready to learn.


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It’s a no-brainer that she loves him. I mean, really? Just look at her. But the thing I saw over and over was how she loves him. That’s what I wanted to learn from her.

Now let me state here that Darren would never be the man for me, so I’m able to investigate their relationship without a shred of jealousy to inhibit my ability to learn. (No offense intended, Darren!) And this brings up the first, and maybe the biggest, lesson, because why wouldn’t Darren ever be the man for me (I mean, besides the fact that he is most definitely THE man for my beloved friend)? After all, he’s good looking, he’s fun and funny, he works hard yet leaves his work at work when he comes home at the end of the day. He’s a fantastic and eager cook, he cleans – often and well – and he’s been known to meet her at the door with a glass of wine, and dinner on the table. Apparently he’s also fantastic in other ways that shall remain unmentioned. So what’s not to love?


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Lesson #1) Sarah could learn to, um, not look for the downside. During what I judgmentally might view as Darren’s less-than-stellar moments, Terrie is completely relaxed, bright-eyed and calm. As far as I can tell, she isn’t judging her man at all. She is, in fact, enjoying him! I look at her, and what I think I’m seeing is completely unconditional love. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen it before. It is awe-inspiring. 

Now I have been more the person who, at the tenderest of moments, is thinking about what he (whoever) could do, or change, that I might prefer. I am, by nature and by nurture, an editor, an improver. Women all over the known universe share this trait with me, and are sitting back and itching to twitch their men this way or that, a little or a lot. And as we focus on what we wish were different, we become absolutely unable to love what is. And so, another one bites the dust. 


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As a highly observant person, I notice something interesting. I notice that I tend to do this same thing in all of my relationships, not just with men I’m dating. I look at that other person, and instead of seeing how amazing they are, instead of seeing their endless list of wonderful attributes, I see the buttons straining across the tummy, this one response that wasn’t exactly what I would have preferred, the ten minutes late. And I don’t just notice: I dwell on it. Let me tell you, this is a very effective way to mess up not just romantic relationships, but friendships as well.

I say with great admiration for myself that I’ve come a long way in this area over the last few years. But hanging with Terrie all summer, watching her not only with Darren, and me, but with everyone she encountered, showed me that I’m far from the summit on this mountain. And seeing the great joy and contentment she lives with every day now, I’m inspired to keep right on climbing.


Getting through it

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When I was freshly forty and going through the end of my twenty year marriage, I was diagnosed with depression. It happened like this: I told my barely-still-husband something, he immediately called our counselor and told her, and she advised him to either get me on medication immediately or get me to a hospital. He told me what she said and I, determined not to go to the hospital, called my dependable family doctor, who agreed to see me right away. I told him I was depressed, he asked me a few basic questions and then wrote me a prescription, which I filled, and kept filling, for the next seven years.

Depression was nothing new for me, but being desperate enough to be willing to take medication, was (I now understand that I had been chronically clinically depressed since I was in grade school). However, once on it, I simply could not go back to the way things were before. They still weren’t great, but they were endurable.


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After seven years of antidepressants – never comfortable being dependent on drugs, but preferring it to the black hole – I found a book (or maybe it found me): Energy Medicine by Donna Eden. I began doing her five-minute daily routine, and within two weeks I was off, and have remained off, the drugs. I never get severe depression anymore, at least not like I did for so long. However, I still get the blues, and sometimes I’m in the sh** for days or even weeks at a time. Like, for example, now. 

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I’m finally home from Michigan. I cook in my own kitchen and sleep in my own bed. I’m back with my sister, Beth, at last. And I have My Chauffeur, the man I met last November, who stayed neatly on the back burner until late summer, when he moved himself very definitely right up to my very front burner. (And who also, I might add, has even turned up the heat just a tad.) 

But even with all of this, I am still me, and I still get the blues. I miss my physical therapy team. I miss the friends and the sister I reconnected with. I wander around the house, every step hurting, and I can’t seem to motivate myself to write, or to do the chores that hang over my head, or, you know, anything. This morning I decided that if I’m going to be a real person in this blog, I’d have to write even when I’m in the sh**. So here I am. Writing.


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One of the things I’ve learned to do when struggling is to remember happy times. That’s what all these pictures are about. I also look at other things that make me happy. Here’s a link to one:  http://www.wimp.com/movesmercury/ . I stole this from FaceBook. It’s a guy dancing, and the music is great, and it makes me smile all over my whole face. 

And here’s another one, an improvisation between Bobby McFerrin and Richard Bona. My heart sings with them in this incredible duet:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iimMKWF7SK0&list=RD02aE8b4VyY6ck 


Nothing lasts forever; everything is always changing. Happy times fade, sad times are forgotten, to be replaced by hope. I started this post after an increasingly tough week, struggling with my discouragement. But after looking through all my pictures, seeing how much joy I’ve had, I know I’ve got lots more ahead of me. Maybe even right now, in this minute, all by myself.

Really? You call that a harvest?

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Once upon a time, like in Spring of this year, I had high expectations for a particular type of summer. Beth (my sister, with whom I live) and I had spent lots of blood, sweat and diligence working on our organic garden, which up to that time had given less than stellar results. We amended the soil, we sought the advice of experts, we practiced companion planting and rearranged what we planted where. We planted early and had lots of robust seedlings growing in our big, bright windowsill, which we planted out with care and tenderness. In addition, we had added a beehive to our yard to insure excellent pollination, and the bees seemed productive and happy. We had every reason to be optimistic.

Then came the big surprise, my fall off a ladder while vacationing back East, and I got to spend the summer in wholly unexpected ways and places, leaving Beth with the job of nurturing the garden and harvesting our bushels and bushels of delicious, healthy organic produce.


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Maybe you noticed the picture. Trust me when I tell you it is not photo-shopped, and yes, that is an iced-tea spoon. Apparently, the garden gods got the message that our garden was meant to be feeding Lilliputians. Beth harvested a whole lot of tomatoes that were fingernail sized. I’m not kidding. They made grapes look like overachievers. But at least she got a whole lot of those. Most of the other plants acted like they were born to be greenery. Even our zucchinis refused to produce. Who ever heard of buying zucchinis in August when you’ve got four different varieties (supposedly) growing in your home garden? And yes, we did actually get two kinds of melon. You see them here. That’s it, that’s the entire melon harvest. And it breaks my heart to tell you, even those little (key word: little) gems were simply not worth eating.

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But wait, you may say, at least you have bees, busy, thriving bees to lighten your hearts! You think? Tragically, the mystery killer that is destroying honeybees world-wide is no respecter of persons. After a fantastic start, with brood and honeycomb increasing exponentially, the bees suddenly, and for no apparent reason, started to disappear. Within a few weeks, the hive had succumbed to wax moth. Sigh. It’s not all bad news: our beekeeper claimed a swarm, albeit a small one, and brought it to us last week. Though small, it looks to have a lot of gumption.

My recovery is taking a lot out of me, and I can get discouraged. But Beth, bless her giant heart, bolsters me. She still believes in our garden, and our bees, and my ability to dance again someday. When I can’t see it for myself, I can look through her eyes.


Hodgepodge Ramblings

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This morning as I sat at the computer to write, I felt the old familiar panic rising. So I got up, grabbed my journal, ignored the sudden imperatives to wash dishes, take a shower, do my exercises. I grabbed a colored pen – red: bold and strong – and set a timer. If all else fails, open to a blank page and set a timer. I have someone in my life now, someone who will say, “Did you write today?” If I say, “No,” he says, “Why not?” Whatever answer I give, he calls me out. “Excuses, excuses,” he says. He’s absolutely right, of course. 

Oddly enough, so far in our minute-long relationship, I don’t resent this. It doesn’t make me twitch my shoulders and set my jaw and wish to be left alone so I can crawl into a handy corner and suck my thumb because no one understands how hard it is to be me


No, instead I think of his use of the personal pronoun “we.” I think of his plans for our future, how he talks as though he is the one responsible for our health and well-being, for keeping us fed and clothed and sheltered. I bridle at that, not because I don’t secretly long to be taken care of by a strong, handsome, loving man, but because I want to do my part in this enticing creation of ours. This is new for me! This is exciting for me! It is easy and scary and intimidating and (ugh!) wonderful! I don’t understand the changes going on these days in my heart and my mind and my body, and some of them are discouraging and startling. But over all I’m content, strangely happy, sometimes even exhilarated to be me in this time and in this place.

My leg is healing and often my walk is more of a hobble. My spirit – my psyche – has its own share of necessary healing and it, too, often hobbles when I think it should be walking, or running. . . or maybe even dancing. I’m scared to ride my bike, scared that I’ll fall, or blow out my knee again. But I love riding my bike! In the past, I’ve been a successful bike rider, and gotten great joy out of it.

I observe something similar in my writing. I love writing! In the past, I’ve been a successful writer, and gotten great joy out of it. Still there is a fear that goes along with me, keeping me off the bike, keeping me off the computer. It is an old, familiar companion. But it won’t keep me off the bike forever. It won’t stop my next book. And it won’t keep me from opening my heart.