My life and the labels used to describe it don’t define me. My life is what I make of it and is described by how I define those labels. Mother is one of my labels, but what does that mean? To me that meant I didn’t work full time until my youngest was four. To someone else that means being a working mom right from the start. Which one is better? It’s not for me to decide; I need to choose one for myself. The label, widow, also describes me, but what does that mean? To me it means my best friend died way too soon and is missed so much. There are many labels, like nationality (Indian), religion (Muslim, Christian), and skin color, but what does that mean? Are you married? If so, I should ask, what does that mean to you, because what that means to me doesn’t matter. I am a person, therefore who I am is personal, in contrast to a label which is not. I can choose labels for others, but I cannot trust my preconceived notions of what that means. I can’t just choose a label for myself; I must also choose its meaning.
Into each life, rain events must fall. Each one changes us in different ways. Marriage, divorce; birth, miscarriage; success, failure; a long-term sickness, cancer, death of a spouse, loss of a job, graduating from college, or moving far from home. Some will make me stronger, tougher, or happier, or maybe weaker, soft, or sad if I let them. I want to be able to see myself as an amazing person, whether anyone else sees it or not. It’s not easy with all that life has thrown at me, and knowing these are small compared to what others have faced, but I believe it is possible to be shaped by all of life’s events in a positive way. It may take moments or years but it’s worth the effort.
- Cascade / Events that Shape
- The view from Cascade is breathtaking! I was told it would be worth the effort.
- The trail is hard; rocks, mud, and water. The peak is solid rock and wind.
- Surrounded by the highest peaks, Marcy, Giant, and Dix.
- Rock slides and stunted trees. Both evidence of hard winters and shallow soils.
- The rugged Adirondacks. Tough as the trail, vast, and amazing.
Yesterday, on a small plane, I really and truly thought I was going to die. The massive clouds over the Adirondacks looked like a solid wall as we headed into, instead of under or over, them. They weren’t solid, of course, but they weren’t fluffy either, jostling the plane in every direction. With no visibility, I wondered where the mountains or another plane could be hiding. We passed through two more cloud banks before the sky opened up and we could see the runway. At one point, I noticed the pilot didn’t appear concerned at all. He was calmly doing what pilots do, so I took comfort in that, even though I still held onto my seat. Sometimes, when my life is surrounded by thick clouds, I need to trust others and believe them when they say there’s no need for concern, there are good things yet to come, there is hope, I won’t be sad forever, I can heal, I am strong, and I am loved. When I lose sight of these truths because I’m too close to what’s happening, good friends, inspired only by love, can steadily support my wings until I’m able to find clear blue skies.
I recently camped by one of the most amazing sights I’ve ever seen. This wasn’t my first trip to a glacier, but the Spencer Glacier, only accessible by train, rises out a glacial lake littered with blue and white icebergs. The view, as we made supper in our makeshift kitchen, was something I’ll possible never see again, and to be so close to these icebergs in small rubber rafts was the most incredible experience. Even more incredible was the people I shared this with – my son and his wife, and my grandson. The four of us crowded into a 2 person tent playing Go Fish, team work to turn the water pump handle, skipping smooth glacial rocks, breaking up the ice on the surface of the lake to discover secret passageways between the “bergs”, a game of iceberg soccer where my grandson, as the goalie, learned the phrase “I own this”, and another phrase, “Get out of town”, on the train ride home. Extraordinary experiences, far exceeding the normality’s of everyday life, photos capturing uniquely beautiful memories, and cheers to a remarkable trip with craft brewery beer and chocolate milk. What more can I say except, truly astonishing!
The wind has been blowing for more than 24 hours with huge gusts. I thought I’d wake to leafless birch trees, but most of the leaves are still there. Is the tree holding onto the leaves or the leaves to the tree? Their yellow color indicates they’ve already succumbed to the cold and yet it seems as if the leaves have decided it’s not time to let go of fall just yet. There are things in my life I’d like to hold onto forever. Some of these things are good for me but others are not, even though they bring me comfort. It’s been over a week since I watched TV; something I thought I couldn’t live without. It’s been that long since I’ve enjoyed my daily dose of peanut butter and chocolate chips and I’m doing just fine without them. I hold onto notions I have about myself that may be true or not, but I believe and hold onto them both. If only I could loosen my grip, like I did with those things I’ve recently done without, then the untrue and unbeneficial would start to fall off and I’d be left with what’s true and beneficial.
A picture taken of me recently shocked me. I’ve been eating too much and walking not enough. It’s amazing how easily a photo captured the truth I’ve been denying for quite some time. I’ve said, one more piece of pie won’t hurt, you’ll eat less tomorrow. I’ve said cleaning the house or walking the kids to the beach is enough exercise. I’ve substituted all the summer outside projects for my daily short power walks. I don’t function well in the heat so there’s another excuse. In the winter, the weather is uncooperative and who knows what other excuses I’ve use to not exercise. Time to make a change. Is it motivation I’m lacking or determination? What would motivates me? Something from without, like another person who has overcome more than me. Determination comes from within; something I need to hold in my mind. It’s constantly changing my will to achieve something that seems beyond my reach. So here’s what I’m going to do; buy some super sticky notes, write what it is I’m determined to do on a dozen or so, and place them everywhere I need inspiration to live a healthier lifestyle that will change me forever.
Looking down at my grandson sleeping, I couldn’t help think about this amazing person, and his sister, that their grandfather never got to meet. Hard to believe it’s possible to feel both extreme joy and deep sorrow at the same time. He won’t get to help them load up their camping gear, grab the canoe, and head out on a wilderness adventure. He’ll never get to take them fishing or get the chance to tell them his stories adorned with exaggerations and humor. He won’t get to see them grow into fine young people sprinkled lightly with his one-of-a-kind gift for being more than just the sum of all that life throws your way. I count very fortunate all those who call themselves a grandparent, for they lived long enough to behold their children’s children, who they’re free to simply love and enjoy, adding to these two aspects of parenting that are so often overshadowed by the rest. I am truly blessed to not only meet my grandchildren but be present for a good part of their lives. For me, grandparenting is one of the greatest privileges and opportunities I’ll ever have and I will make the most of it.
I saw this plaque in a shop window: The thing I love best about my home is who I share it with. Nice sentiment but I doubt it’s true. People are complicated and difficult. I’m complicated and difficult. Why would anyone think making more than one person live under the same roof would make them love each other more? I love my bed, workshop, TV, and books; inanimate things that neither love me nor hurt me. I should include my kitties too for one reason; they show me unconditional love. I’m sure they don’t understand and get ticked off when I disturb their sleep several times a night, but that’s not what they show me. It doesn’t matter what I do or don’t do, they love me. Imagine what relationships would look like, in the midst of complicated and difficult, if each person went in the direction of unconditional love first. No matter what, our eyes, hearts, and minds would choose to see with unconditional love first, so that everything said and done would be through this amazing filter. How much weight would be given complicated and difficult if this was my approach? Damn, if the answer isn’t zero!
“Grief is not different to physical pain. . . We have to accept it and understand that it comes in waves. You have to allow yourself to let it come and let it go. You will learn to let it walk alongside you, . . . You will absorb it as part of you.” I recently read these words, and wished I had found them sooner and posted them on my refrigerator. When grief arrived it waited, while I fought against it and stepped around it, to be accepted. The saying, you can’t hold back the tide, applies to grief as well, for waves of it certainly do come. How often or strong, or when, is unique to me. I’m just learning to let it walk with me, neither as a friend or an enemy, but as a sometimes very opinionated acquaintance. Grief carries my anger, fears, sadness, and immobility, preventing them from sinking so deep as to never give me the chance to let them go. It seemed at first that all grief did was steal my joy, but now I would call it borrowing and then returning it when it’s needed, as it becomes a part of me.
After going to the dump and recycling center, I feel lighter. The stuff I take is no longer useful so it’s just taking up space and getting in the way. It’s a continual process of accumulating and discarding. I try not to generate too much trash or collect temporarily interesting stuff that I’ll quickly lose interest in and question why I wanted it. Occasionally I go through rooms and closets looking at my stuff, asking if I need or want it. If I just want it, that’s OK, but I better have a reason other than I’ll use it someday. I can look at me in a similar manner. I collect harmful habits, thoughts, and actions that not only don’t benefit me, but are hurtful to me and others. They can easily crowd out all things good and cause undesirable changes in me. On my own or with some help, I need to grab a trash bag, take a look, and start throwing all that’s useless or stinky out of my life, heart, and mind. It’ll be hard to look deeply with the intent to find stuff to permanently throw away, but feeling lighter will be worth it.