On Loss and Carrying On

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Today marks yet another anniversary of my dear friend JJ passing away and this year, the passing of other, more well-known people has added to the sense of loss. David Bowie, Prince and too many others to mention have left this earth and moved on but not without leaving an imprint on our hearts and in our souls. I will still hear songs by Bowie and Prince, just as I will replay conversations I’ve had with JJ. I still hear my father’s voice when I’m lost and seeking guidance and hear my mother’s voice when I’m doing something that I know would cause her concern and/or anxiety, so in that way, they live on because I will not forget. I will not let the sense of grief and loss keep me from living the life I know they all (well, maybe not specifically D.B. & Prince) would want me to. I believe strongly that we are all interconnected and the more I try to be solitary, aside from everyone else, the more I realize that’s not really possible. What my loved one goes through, I am emotionally right there by their side; when someone is angry and hurting, those feelings project out of them and I feel as though a barrage of emotionally-charged arrows are heading straight for me, like heat-seeking missiles. When I am with someone who is depressed, I cannot help but feel for them; I have been there, I know the way and I know how dark it becomes. I can tell myself it is their problem, their burden to bear and logically it is. But there is a voice that tells me that if I am able to help, I should. If I have a light to give this person to help them find their way through the darkness, how can I not offer it? If I bring happiness or even a temporary relief of a great burden or guilt, does that not benefit me as well?

Prince and David Bowie are part of the soundtrack of my life and they will call to mind the times I’ve had, good, bad and amazing with my friends, my family and you, my dear readers. I will do my best to cherish the good times and not let the loss overshadow the gifts that I’ve been given. When all else fails, I’ll put on their music and just dance.

That’s how I’ll get through this thing called life.

Out of Limbo

I have been in limbo many times in my life, as I’m sure you all have. The Catholic faith refers to Purgatory, the place between Heaven and Hell, or the waiting room of the Afterlife, as Purgatory (I’m pretty sure they don’t refer to it officially as the waiting room of the Afterlife, but I do). You are neither here nor there, but somewhere in between. When a loved one is sick and when there is a particularly difficult diagnosis that’s more like a death sentence; when someone is suffering from a crisis of any sort, be it physical, mental or spiritual. This is what I define limbo as, in my world. The time between realizing I’m terribly depressed and when the medications/therapy/prayers start to lift the heavy blanket of sadness that is my own personal Purgatory. The time between Monday morning and Friday afternoon and between the first day of summer until winter’s arrival are classic examples. You get the idea, I’m sure.

I have come to a point where I am realizing that I have been in emotional limbo for some time now about many people, places and things. I have been, subconsciously or consciously, holding my breath, waiting for something to happen, for Life to deliver my heart’s desire right to my door and I have been accomplishing absolutely nothing because all of these expectations/desires are based on the actions of outside forces; they are nothing that I have any power or control over. Talk about a guaranteed way to heartache and disappointment! So I have chosen to step out of limbo, out of unrealistic expectations, or any expectations at all; just let it be, whatever that is. It’s great to have goals and dreams but it’s important for me to realize that dreams don’t always come true, people will always be who they are at their core and whatever is comfortable for them is what will always be. Change isn’t everyone’s cup of tea and some have a life-threatening allergy to it, so to “Be the change you seek” I now believe means to change yourself and leave the rest of the world alone if you want to have any friends. Not really, but again, you get the idea. Helping people is at best a two edged sword, so why do I insist on grabbing the stupid thing with both hands over and over again? My definition of helping is more than likely someone else’s definition of torture, intrusion and unwelcome/unsolicited advice. I have to keep reminding myself of that when I think I’m doing something positive.

Life is my classroom and the lessons will never stop. It’s not failure if I learned something and I have learned a great deal in the past year. There have been some amazing times, incredible memories that I will always have and nothing can take that away (short of dementia, of course) so I will put my focus where it makes me the happiest, which is within my own personal hula hoop or sphere of influence, if you prefer.

That is the only space in this great Universe that any effort or intention I set forth will be met with success or failure, but it will be based on only my actions. There is a great illusion of control in that and I like that.

Dear Future Me

Dear Future Me,

By the time you read this, you may be really, really old. I hope you are and I hope you are taking good care of us. I am writing to remind you of a few things I hope you haven’t forgotten, but fear you may have. Remember when you promised to be grateful and not take things for granted? All of those aches and pains and moments of forgetfulness you may have been experiencing belong in your attitude of gratitude, your prayer of thanksgiving. For having grown old enough to have those aches and pains is a gift and must been seen as such. If you are to lament each and every time a petal of youth falls from the rose that we are, you will miss the beauty of the rose entirely, for your attention is on that single petal.

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The rose began as a bud, taking time to open fully; once that has happened, it is inevitable that it will slowly begin to die. For with each life there is a death, for each sunrise there is a sunset. Age is no different and therefore it is my hope that you are celebrating each and every morning that you wake up, see the beauty in the trees, the skies that create the masterpiece that is nature. That you hold the hand of the one you love and tell him so, a hundred times a day for a hundred lifetimes, should you be so lucky. That each ache and pain is testament to a life well lived, a milestone reached, challenges met and a host of obstacles overcome.

So, if you are wishing for a younger body or yearning for a day long past, please don’t. We have lived that part of our life and we are now entering yet another new phase, new chapter and new adventure. It will be unlike any we’ve experienced before (an ongoing mission to seek out life after A Certain Age) and just like a carton of ice cream, it’s the last few spoonfuls that are the tastiest because you know after that, it’s all gone. Live that life, love it without fear or agenda, just with pure love for the experience of being. Be the change you seek, continue searching, traveling and exploring. Be ever the student, asking questions and gaining understanding. Never say you’re too old, it’s too late; say yes and then take it on faith that things will work out. (Well, faith and a reasonable plan of action, of course). Let faith rule over fear and believe, truly believe, then go for it.

Just a gentle reminder in case we’ve forgotten or gotten distracted by The Ways of the World. Focus, grasshopper!! This is the best part!

Love,
Past Me

 

Audrey, Sabrina and Me

You know when you’re feeling like you need a serious escape from reality and there’s that one movie that will always provide the best storyline, soundtrack, visual effects, eye candy or all of the above? That movie for me is Sabrina (the original movie, not the one with Harrison Ford) with Audrey Hepburn, Humphrey Bogart and William Holden. The costumes by Hubert de Givenchy like this one


and the music like this

it’s the classic story of the ugly duckling transforming into the beautiful swan; I love this movie for too many reasons to list. It takes me away from the modern world of cell phones, twerking, political nonsense and the poo-slinging that is part and parcel of our process to a place of glamour, fashion and a glimpse into the world of the wealthy and privileged from the perspective of a chauffeur’s daughter as directed from the master director, Billy Wilder. A girl’s crush and unrequited love and the journey she takes to find herself; returning home a woman and meeting her said crush on completely different terms. Gorgeous and changed, yet still in love with the man as before. The story is a classic to be sure but Audrey gives it that touch of magic that comes from within and shines onscreen, brighter than the priceless jewels. Her beauty is not only in her gowns, the diamonds and pearls, but her eyes are the real treasure the camera loves; glittering with mischief and a knowing that hadn’t been there before. I love her, I love Bogey and I love this movie.
The first time I saw this movie I couldn’t take my eyes off Bogey; he was playing a role I’d never seen him in before; the straight-laced business man, older brother and yet, a romantic gentleman who dances with Sabrina delicately, kissing her “from David” with the cheeky comment “it’s all in the family” afterwards.

The next time I watched it, Audrey held my attention and I related to her heartbreak when she had to go away. Every time I watch, I relate to it in a different way, as my life experience has changed, but the music and the transformation will always take me to a comfortable place of escape and fantasy. Some things never get old, only improve with time.

My takeaway from this movie is that we are able to transform; to go beyond who we think we are, to become who we would like to be. Intention, determination and a belief in self are helpful in making the transformation and loving oneself is the best form of love you can seek out.

Black

Black is the creation of all colors joined together;

black is the color of my heart, lacking its tether.

It was the blackest of nights when my heart died;

black from despair were the tears that I cried.

 

Black is the mood that most occupies my mind;

be it darkness or fullness, I cannot define.

Black is the heart of a woman scorned

Black were my eyes on the day I was born.

Yet, black is a comfort, the landscape of the deepest sleep,

Black is the velvet sky, a-glitter with stars upon high.

Black is coolness,  shade and sweet relief from the scorching sun,

Black is the beauty mark on the lip of the one you love, your dear

Black is strength and solidity; to face what must be faced with or without fear.

Black is my constant companion, my oldest friend

Black is the color that is to greet me, in the end.

Blissfully calm, quiet and cool

like jumping into a nighttime pool.

If the end is really just the beginning,

so long as the world keeps spinning

Maybe there will come a time for me to see

The beauty in the darkness around and within me.