If You Can’t Run with the Big Dogs

12 12 2018

A few decades ago, I, like most of my peers, was struggling to climb the corporate ladder. It was a common goal for almost everyone I knew. We judged our self-worth by our paychecks. We were our job titles.  We strived to be the lead dog, but the majority of us found ourselves somewhere in the pack, which meant we were dealing with a lot of a$$holes ahead of us.

Now, in my retirement, I see that even the lead dog is in the harness. 

I don’t believe there is anything wrong in wanting to climb the corporate ladder IF that is what makes you happy.  If you are not fond of heights or unsure footing, though, why put yourself through that? Sometimes the view from beneath a tree is as lovely as one from a summit.

If you want to run with the big dogs, that’s okay.  I’m fine on the porch, visiting one.

This is Gabriel, a real BIG DOG- eighty pounds of gentle heart. He keeps me company in my massage therapist’s office.

All I Want for Christmas

5 12 2018

This holiday will be my sixty-fourth Christmas.  That’s a lot of Christmas lists! I’ve had lists for Santa that have included a rocking horse, a Betsy Wetsy doll, a Ouija board, roller skates, Beatles records, a piano, Wishniks, and, and, and, and . . .

Even though I still want to believe in Santa Claus, I no longer have a long list of “I wants” for the holidays.  I just want one thing this year. I want peopleto be nice to each other.  

I realize this is not an easily fulfilled wish. There’s a lot of not-niceness swirling around in the world.  It will only get better if we all try harder to be nice. I know I am not nearly as nice to others as I should be, but I am really making a conscious effort to do better. If I can be nicer, I believe anybody can do it.

I’m tired of playing the “choose a side” game in every aspect of my life.  To live in the constant agitation of being for or against everything; to always feel the need to defend or attack; to view the way in which people relate to every event, large or small, as either an affront or affirmation is just exhausting.  I am not playing anymore. 

It’s time for a new game. Let’s play nice.

Santa’s watching.

The Elf, Himself, brought to life by my talented sculptor friend Diane. http://troutmanoriginals.com/

A Month of Thanksgiving – Week Five – Marshmallows

28 11 2018

As a woman who came of age about the same time as Woman’s Lib (as it was so quaintly called in the ‘70s) started to come into the vernacular, I can tell you that my young career years were influenced strongly by the idea that I had to be “as  (fill in the blank) as a man” to be successful. What that meant to me was that I had to be tough.  I had to have a thick skin, powerful demeanor, and never blink. 

(One) Mission Accomplished:  I was good at my career and I earned a comfortable living.

 I also was exhausted from the weight of all that emotional armor. When I retired, I realized that I misunderstood what it meant to be a feminist (new term for Woman’s Libber).  Feminism does not mean I have to be anything in reference to men or other women or trees or anything else; it means I have the power to choose. Glinda, you beautiful witch, why didn’t you whack me on the head with that wand while you were trying to tell me that?!

So, today, after contemplating my steel-spined career years,I am thankful for marshmallows*.

I am thankful that the child in me whose feelings were easily hurt still exists. Having feelings to be hurt means having the ability to feel compassion, sympathy, and happiness.

 I am thankful that my unarmored self is able to absorb the shock of things inflicted, cushion their blows, and rebound from them with minimal damage.

 I am thankful to understand that softness does not equal weakness. What I saw as strength, in my younger days, I now see was a brittle façade, easily shattered and not worth the constant polishing required to maintain its appearance to the outside world. Softness is a different kind of strong.  By opening myself to what the world is, I can respond to reality, not fear what my imagination or others would have me believe.

I can choose what to enfold and what to bounce off.  It is a far more powerful and rewarding way to live when we stop being so hard that we allow nothing to touch us. Don’t block out all the goodness for fear of the bad. There is always more good. Always.

*A personal thanks to a dear friend who saw right through my defenses: 

Paula, you are like a burnt marshmallow. You may be crusty and a little bitter on the outside, but, inside, you are soft and sweet. 

A Month of Thanksgiving – Close Calls

21 11 2018

Just fifteen minutes ago, on the way home from a pre-Thanksgiving family dinner, I found myself jamming on my brakes as I rounded a bend in the road and found myself facing a line of cars stopped dead in front of me.  

The police car, siren wailing and red and blue lights flashing, arrived just as I was coming to a stop. There was glass and debris in the road and a very mashed little sedan off to one side.  I noticed a person with a very small child; they were holding hands, waiting in the cold. Looked like everyone was okay, except for the car.

Whew!  What a close call.  Had they pulled out twenty seconds later, it could have been me who hit them, Had the vehicle that did hit them been going faster, there could have been more than a car damaged.

Close calls like these, especially at the holidays, bring our good fortune into even sharper focus, so tonight, I am thankful for all the missed misfortune in my life and in the lives of my family and friends. 

I hope you all make some close calls tomorrow – pick up your phone and let the folks you love, who are too far away to join you at your feast table, know you’re thankful for them.

Close Call of the Clumsy Kind . . . when the board that falls on your face while you’re cleaning your garage does not break your nose, just skins it . . . Thankful!

A Month of Thanksgiving – Heartache

14 11 2018

Okay, I know this looks bad, but stay with me for a moment. This week, I am thankful for my grief.

 No, I am not glad for my losses – that’s a whole different thing –  but, given that loss is inevitable in life, I am grateful to have hadsuch magnificent people in mine to mourn. 

As the major holidays of the American calendar bear down onus, there are legions of us whose festivities will be seasoned with salty tears, whose songs will falter when a lump rises in our throats, and whose eyes will roam the places those we miss used to be. These are not signs of weakness. These are not punishment for gathering to celebrate. These are reminders that we were gifted with those precious years with our beloveds and when we keep the traditions they loved alive and when we join with others who loved – and were loved by – them, they are with us. 

My dad, about sixty-four years ago.
My sweet Jessica.

Grief is the portal through which we allow the love of our family and friends to share our loss and our immense good fortune (Life IS good). For me, grief  is that door to the room in my heart where, when I cross that threshold, there are happy memories on the other side. We must keep that door open to welcome in all the goodness of our lives. 

Would I rather have not experienced loss?  Of course. Is it possible for anyone to avoid loss in life?  Of course not. The reality is that we will all experience it. My grief has made me appreciate more about my life, love my family and friends more freely, and hope to encourage you to do the same.

I am thankful for all I have had and thankful for what I have. I am thankful for you, my friends.

A Month of Thanksgiving – Late Bloomers

7 11 2018

In these first few days post-Daylight Saving Time, it’s been a little challenging for me to feel anything but cranky, but today a few stalwart friends demanded my attention and showed me somethings thanks-worthy.

These are my late-bloomers.

The fuchsia and impatiens are just too stubborn to give in yet to the frosty evening temps we’ve had.  I know they’ll be gone soon, but their tenacity reminds me that sometimes, even the fat lady will do an encore, so don’t quit too soon.

The sweet little perennial geranium blossom, all by herself, after her cousins have all sung a rousing magenta chorus in June, has the grace and courage to take center stage for a solo performance.  She deserves a rest until next spring, but she must’ve known I needed just one more song.

I’m thankful for other late-blooming things in my life, especially friendships.  After college, I immersed myself in the machinery of career and family and, from the time I was in my twenties until I was in my fifties,  I did not make friends. 

There was a time when thought I did not need friends, when I thought I could not be a friend to anyone, a time when I believed that no one would want to be my friend. Now, at almost sixty-five, I find I was happily mistaken; I have a few good friends. These are friendships born of common interests that led to the discovery of common ethics and common ground.  These friendships have grown quite naturally and have blossomed beautifully – and without a load of manure!

So, this first Wednesday of November, I am thankful for my late-blooming friendships.  They are more reliable and more beautiful than any hot-house forced blooms.

Thanks to you, my friends.

Don’t Try Any Tricks!

31 10 2018

Halloween was one of my Jessie’s favorite holidays. She especially loved to answer the door, exclaim over costumes, and hand out treats.  We continue to learn from my sweet girl.

Be neighborly.

Compliment energetically.

Share joyfully.

Here are our official Halloween photos of Rebel and Piggy Stardust – no costumes, this year, but, as you can see, there were still treats.

Rebel’s the perfect color for this season!

Star is a little less professional in her posing than Rebel, but she’s cute.

Treats! Treats! Treats!