Halfway to 100


Happy New Year everyone! I have been absent from here and have set my New Year Intention to spend my time with more purpose; less Face Time, more face-to-face time. Basically, be mindful and be present. We’ll see how that goes.

Last month, I was fortunate enough to celebrate my 50th birthday, which is by far my most highly anticipated birthday ever. Turning 50 was basically a miracle for me; I never thought I would live much past 21. I’ve spoken before about how becoming pregnant with my son saved my life, by taking me off a path that was heading straight for heartache, misery and ultimately, death. That was a huge shift in my thinking, my priorities and the beginning of the end to my selfish, all-about-me attitude. It was time to grow up and cast aside the foolish, dangerous ways I’d lived for years, step out of the darkness and into the light. Even after I had Devon, there were many dark nights of the soul, so to speak and I was never sure if my will to live and love for my son would be strong enough to ride out the overwhelming desire to sleep without waking. So – that is one reason I celebrate this birthday, the grey hairs and the frequent midnight bathroom trips all with equal vigor. It is a gift, all of it.

I hear other women refusing to tell their age, cease celebrating birthdays, lie about their age, become seriously depressed at the prospect of another birthday. I know a great deal of this is the obsession of society with eternal  youth; Frankenstein would have a never-ending supply of willing subjects if he advertised for a “volunteer subject” for a product testing that promised eternal youth. We see it already in the multitude of products, procedures and poisons available at any beauty counter, drug store, gym, department store and possibly even Dollar Tree stores. I have also set an intention to judge not, whether aloud or to myself, so I am not going to disparage these women. I don’t know them, but I feel for them. Aging is a privilege, it is not guaranteed nor is it a right that we all have. It is largely a series of choices, attitudes, environment and that “other” something that cannot be explained, which I mark up to faith.

I don’t know how many years I have left to live but I do know that I will celebrate each and every birthday until there are no more. Every year, I receive gifts of new friends, reuniting with old friends, creating wonderful memories and learning lessons, usually the hard way. Each day I find beauty in everyday places, I see hope burning brightly under a mountain of darkness; I see kindness in strangers and heroes in everyday people. I see angels among us, fighting for our very souls. I see children educating parents and educators teaching compassion and social conscience; I see the never-ending battle of good vs. evil, in all forms and fashions.

This gives me hope, helps me to realize that I am not an observer or passive participant in this life, unless I choose to be. I have power, I have compassion and I have a voice.  This isn’t to say there are not still dark nights/days of the soul and mood swings that make me question everything, rude neighbors, ignorant individuals and racist jerks who flip a switch in me that is red hot and would definitely earn me a spot on Santa’s Naughty List, if the thoughts were made into actions. I have moments of absolute, pure rage in traffic and I’m certain that wouldn’t enrich the lives of those around me if I were to voice my thoughts and frustrations. I just know now that I can choose to jump into those moments of madness, a willing participant in an exercise that ends with me feeding myself tons of poison and expecting the other person to die or I can choose to breathe and let it go. The moments of unpleasantness, pain and depression do not negate the positive, which includes hope for the future. I can’t control the world, but I can control how I choose to live; my intention is to do just that. No longer a leaf at the mercy of the wind, I will set my course and with determination and intention, arrive at my destination, wherever that may be.

Thank you all for following me on this grand adventure, for your generous praise and for all that you do.

You rock.

But you already knew that. 

Scotland -Part III

The day after Christmas 2015 found me at the airport, excited, tired and ready to be on my way back to Scotland. I had arrived at the airport at an unreasonably early hour (per my request) and had thoughts of my previous two visits and wondered what this visit would bring. I’d been there all alone, with eyes wide and full of wonderment for my birthday in December 2014, met someone in July that multiplied the happiness, the pleasure of traveling and exploring, not only Scotland, but our personalities, our experiences, hopes and dreams, fears and flights of fancy. I didn’t think I could be happier than I was on my first visit, but the second visit changed all that. What would the third visit bring? Would it be even better or would I have raised my expectations so high that they couldn’t help but fall short? These questions swirled around in my mind as I walked the airport, burning nervous energy and trying to fill my mind with something other than those unanswerable questions.

Well, it’s now almost the end of January and I’ve been back about 3 weeks and I have to say, this time was such an incredible experience. I couldn’t have scripted a better visit, traveling and exploring again, but this time, with hours in the car, talking about nothing and everything at once; taking photos like a mad tourist while speeding down the highways and two-lane roads. Sometimes the only car as far as the eye could see, with endless stretches of gorgeous landscapes, skies full of strange clouds I’d never seen back at home; sunsets and sunrises so beautiful, it takes my breath away each and every day. Being so far away from everything and everyone I know, I found myself. I found the calm I’d always prayed for, the serenity I didn’t think existed and the ability to live fully in the moment, not looking back in regret and not looking forward with fear and anxiety. This couldn’t have been possible without the company I was keeping; I have been a solitary creature by choice most of my life but this was comfortable, effortless and I had the feeling that all was right with the world.

That being said, returning to reality is rarely effortless or comfortable and this time was no exception; the higher you are, the harder you fall. The dizzying heights I had occupied while in Scotland gave way to the deepest depths and dark days (and nights) while my spirit tried to break free of the shackles of everyday life and return to the freedom and wide-open spaces I’d flown; now seemingly a dream I had dreamt. Remembering the calm and trying to get that thought to translate to feeling isn’t the easiest or most natural thing for me to do; I am more prone to go worst case scenario and lock the memory away, for the pain of being away from such bliss is too much to delve into. But this is a new year and the time for change is always, so I am embracing my pain, along with the pleasure the memory holds. Bittersweet is a flavor we’re all familiar with and while it’s not something I’d want to taste at every meal, it’s one of the flavors of life, so it will make an appearance from time to time. Every piece of pain contains a lesson, something learned or experienced that will last far longer than the original discomfort that bore it. It’s easy to say and hard to remember when it happens, but it is a choice. I choose to take the bitter with the sweet, the pain with the pleasure and the heart break with the bliss.

I choose to get up and try again. I choose to belief this, too shall pass. I choose to believe that I will return to Scotland, hopefully again and again, until I am an old lady tottering along with a cane, telling my grandchildren about my time in Scotland over and over again, until they can tell the stories themselves, word for word.



The Winds of Change

“The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails”

William Arthur Ward

I came across this quote back in November and wanted to write a post around it but couldn’t figure out how to convey what it says to me, specifically. I’m going to try now, so bear with me.

I’ve long believed that I was powerless over circumstances, that I was like a leaf in a storm; at the mercy of the wind, with no say in where I would go. I went along with whatever the group mentality was, never questioning whether it was what I wanted to do, where I wanted to go or who I wanted to be with. By doing this, I set up myself up beautifully for great disappointment and the role of the ever-suffering victim. I gave away my choices, my voice, my power and then couldn’t figure out why I was always so unhappy; why I had no sense of self, no idea who I was. It has taken me many years and a great deal of wrong turns, heartbreaks and utter despair to realize that no one had made me a victim, except myself.

Now, that’s all fine and good, but what could I do with that great revelation? We’re talking a lifetime of identifying as a follower, how could I un-learn all those behaviors? How could I reclaim my voice, my power? I had no clue, but I did know that if I didn’t try, nothing would ever change, except to possibly worsen. There is another saying regarding a long journey and it beginning with a single step; that is exactly what I had to do. One step. One different thought. Turning left instead of right, speaking up instead of suffering silently, making one decision to change one thing. They all add up. Just as a bad habit is formed over time, the same is true of a healthy one. I had been living this way my entire life (40-something years) and I would have to have great patience and determination if I wanted to change.

Now, a little over a year free from alcohol and I have found my voice, I am slowing realizing the extent of how much power I gave away and am in the processing of getting it back and then some. I have a greater sense of self, of purpose and of value. Needless to say, every day isn’t like a scene from some ridiculously happy and upbeat musical, but it’s good. The challenges will always be there, although their form and delivery may differ, I will still have to find the strength to make good choices while allowing myself to be human. The words “failure” or “victim” can never be used again when I’m thinking about who I am, what I am. I am a fighter and I will fight the good fight until I can no more. I am looking forward to each next day, each new lesson learned and each victory celebrated. I will keep steadily on my course, my mind focused on my destination, eyes open for whatever beauty appears and gratitude in my heart for the people that have loved me through thick and thin. And if the seas get rough, I’ll adjust the sails.