Friday, December 25, 2015

Reflection and ?

It really is just a day on the calendar, so we made it up.  It really would be more reasonable to mark (as many of my friends do) the dawn at the end of the longest night of the year.  But instead, etched into my aging spirit, is the tendency to take some time between today and the first of January to reflect on where I have been and what changes I would like to see for the coming year.

I refuse to make resolutions.  It is important to me, to my own sense of integrity, to be a person of my word.  I do not make promises lightly, and that includes to myself.  I think we are all somewhat diminished by the way the whole thing has become a big joke.

What I have sometimes done in past years has been to encounter a passage of scripture or a quote that somehow speaks to me for the year.  I'm expecting something will jump out to me in the next week.  I also usually encounter some thoughts or themes that feel like signposts pointing me along the next little stretch of personal roadway.

This last year I have been celebrating so much of my past as I reached a milestone age.  This year has also brought much joy, with a new grandson and another on the way.  But there is some bittersweetness in that.  My baby having a baby feels like someone wrote "the end" on the story of my own motherhood.  I know that isn't true, but I feel what I feel, and this feels like an end.

But in that end, I am looking for a new beginning this year.  I thought part of this would be accepting the ending, but instead what is popping up to confront me is asking me what comes next?  More than that, it is asking me what I want, not for my family, what do I want for me?

My heart is seeking simplicity.  I am not certain, but I think from now until the weather turns hot, my focus is going to be on shedding excess belongings.  I also want to declutter my schedule: especially ingesting media that is only meh just because it is there and effortless.  I need to make room and time for the things and people who bring me joy.

What do I want more of in my life, just for me?  Long, meaningful, one on one talks with certain, select people.  More creativity; especially writing and music. And I want to give more, especially I want to make more to give to the people I care about so that they will know that I value them enough to spend time on them.

I also want to, finally, give myself forgiveness, offer myself the grace I extend to others.  I know I will never be perfect, but my guess is that you aren't either.  It is not arrogant for me to say that despite my flaws, I am not a bad person.  I want to try being my own friend.  I want to make sure I am on my own side, that I've got my own back.  I want to stand up to the voices in the back of my head, and shout them down so that when someone says something to my face, I know how to respond, not just curl up and die inside.

But there is still another week on this old year.  I haven't found my quote yet.  I have put the period on this year.  And now and always and always, mixed in with my thoughts, I am listening for God's thoughts.  Always, the best place to be is right in the middle of the flow of being where he puts me.  And the only thing I've been hearing pretty clearly is that I'm not done yet.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

So now I'm old and I'm f'ing dissapointed

The end of the year of celebrating a significant birthday is almost to the end.  Big whoop, I'm old now, feel free to ignore any future birthdays.  The truth is, there are many things in my life that did NOT turn out the way I hoped, I am am fucking disappointed.

NEVER ONCE did Simon and Garfunkle drive by while I was singing to myself and ask me to be a backup singer.

We do not routinely travel to other planets.  We still barely leave earth and I have to accept that I am never going to.  Doesn't look good for my kids, either.  I mean, maybe some aliens will come by and show us the way or something, but I still probably wouldn't get to go.

I am NOT a famous poet.  I have not even been published.  Please overlook the fact that I'm scared shitless to submit stuff.  This is my list, so I get to whine about it if I want.

The world has not recognized the superiority of any of my offspring and made them RICH and famous so that they can support me in the manner I would like to get used to.

I never got to sleep with...ew, gross...nevermind, he got old too.

Sometimes when I look in the mirror I see, no not my mother, I see my father when he needed a haircut and his hair was all standing on end and his eyes looked crazy.  WTF?  I get that aging is inevitable, but whiskers?  Really?

And I am so disappointed you could even say that I'm pissed the fuck off that people are still being judged by skin color.  I really thought we were changing the world.

We protested.

Not just skin color, but gender.

And war.  What happened to peace?  I helped smash the shit out of an old car one time as a fundraiser for Another Mother for Peace and I wasn't even a mother yet?

We were powerful, we were going to change to world.  Seriously, where the fuck did we go wrong?  I am mad as hell and I may be old but I'm so mad I'd be willing to go out right now and join a protest.

Too bad it's past my bedtime.  And tomorrow I have got to do my laundry.  That really wears me out, so I might need a nap.

Just as long as you understand how really disappointed I am.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Why I got a Disney Annual Pass this year (and why it will probably be my last)

My daughter and I stood on Main Street USA a few weeks before Thanksgiving 2005, our arms wrapped around each other, sobbing on each other's shoulders, while fake snow fell all around.  At home, the phone kept ringing with calls I didn't want to answer, mostly the hospital asking when I was going to make arrangements to deal with my husband's body when I couldn't even talk the the mortuary 'till the next day.  Your husband just died of an unexpected heart attack, what are you going to do?  We went to Disneyland.

Disneyland is an escape, magic, a place I never have to grow up.  There are so many memories there.  I was born 4 days before Disneyland first opened it's gates, but my parents we not amusement park people, so it was nearly 10 years before I walked through them.  During my single mom years, I still managed to take each of my boys on a one-on-one special day.  During my years homeschooling my daughter there were a number of years we had passes.  There are few places in the park that don't hold some memory for me of my children and now of my grand-children.

I had a pass in 2005, my husband only got to use his a couple of times.  I had a pass in 2010, but I was having a lot of problems with gout and didn't feel I got nearly enough value out of it.  This year, Disneyland and I are turning 60, and I got a pass again.

People say to me "It has gotten too expensive."  I get it.  When I was a kid you could spend the day there, with lunch, for about $20.  But gas was under thirty cents a gallon.  Rent on a basic 2 bedroom apartment was under $100.  My mom made good money, around $5 and hour.  Rent for a two bedroom in Orange county now runs over $1,500 a month if you are lucky.  Relative to that, a one day pass is a deal, and there is so much more to do in the park than "back in the day."

Never the less, this will probably be my last annual pass.  It isn't the expense and it isn't that I don't still love those magic moments.  It is that I am just feeling my years.

It is so crowded and people have gotten so rude and pushy I feel like I can't even walk and just look around without being in the way.  I know part of that is my perception, but it really does take a lot of the fun out of the day.  I also don't have energy or patience for more than just a few hours of it at a time.

And it is harder for me to get into and onto and out of this and that.  My knees and ankles are not as reliable as they once were.  The boats for Small World and Pirates seem so low, he steps onto the the tram seem so narrow and treacherous.  I know they won't move 'till I'm seated, but that doesn't help, I just feel like I'm holding up the line and in the way.

There are to many places where you can't even pause to take a picture anymore.  You have to stand in line to get close to the statue of Walt and read his famous words. and yet you can't walk without someone suddenly stopping in front of you to take a selfie.

And for every memory I have of a time with a child, or my aunt, or the Girl Scouts, there is a ride that is no longer there or so altered.  No one remembers the Swiss Family Robinson anymore, so It's Tarzan's Treehouse.  I love Star Tours, but I will never again be shrunk down to the size of an atom.  I don't begrudge the changes, I'm just old and nostalgic.  I think I'm done.

But I do say I probably won't get another pass.  Life has a way of surprising me.  This year I am being surprised with a third grandchild.  Who knows what changes my happen between now and our 65th year.

But this year, I go when I have time, when I feel like it, often by myself.  I walk the park with my memories.  In my mind I hold little hands and my husband's hand.  I hear my Aunt tell me about New Orleans Square. I sing It's a Small World with my Girl Scout troop.  I remember a little pink princess.  This place will always be part of who I am, and even when they are sad, it is still my laughing place.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

mirror wanted

There are three basic rules in a dysfunctional family: don't talk, don't tell, don't feel.

I learned the lessons well, and have spent many years trying to unlearn them.  I have learned to not always be quiet, and I have worked hard to tell my truth. Expressing my feelings, though, in public?

And it isn't just negative feelings.  I mean, that is obvious with the other rules, you can't show anyone that you are less than a happy, normal family.  But it also is not safe to show good feelings.  If I liked something, loved something, wanted something, dreamed something, hoped something - that was something that could be taken away to hurt me.  If I was excited or joyful or proud, that was a place I needed to be brought down, taught my place.

My husband was a mirror for me - he understood and would tell me when I was hiding.  I don't have a mirror anymore.  I don't know if I am letting people see my joy.  I don't know if I am sharing my hope or my pride.  I think I probably am not, because I am feeling pretty cut off.  I am feeling that people don't know me and I'm not having conversations that go beyond the lightest surface of things.

It doesn't help that I am an introvert.  It is really easier to just withdraw.  In a group, the conversation will usually move past me before I have a chance to fully form my thoughts, let alone speak them.

So I'm writing this here.  I need someone in my life who is willing to sit in silence sometimes.  I need someone in my life who is willing to call BS as needed.  I need someone in my life to be a mirror, show me when I am hiding and keeping it in.  Sometimes I go for days without saying one word that isn't polite social stuff, passing humor.  Sometimes I go for longer than that without feeling I have connected meaningfully.

I recognize that I'm not easy.  I'm sorry.

Friday, April 3, 2015


I was just sitting here thinking about a friend.  Well, not exactly a friend, someone I kinda know 'cause someone said we should be friends so I friended her and didn't really feel like I had a lot in common with and still don't really know her except what shows up on my news feed but you know what...

She is an amazing person.  I mean really cool.  Nothing about how she looks or talks or acts would clue me into this, but she does this really mind blowing art.

So I started thinking about all the people I know, all the people who I admire, and some who irritate me. I started thinking about all these lovely, erudite, complex, cool, strange, creative, faithful, brilliant, obnoxious people that I know. And I wonder why they call me friend.

I think I'm boring. I have passion, but not a lot of energy to back it up. Art dances in my head, but rarely makes it much farther. I'm not terribly attractive. I'm nice and I can be funny sometimes and I know I'm my own worse critic but....

I am my own worse critic, but....

Here is my prayer for today: God, help me hear the kind voices of my loving friends today instead of the cruel voices of my past.

Help me understand that there is a reason I have so many amazing friends.

Help me see my own amazing.


Friday, February 27, 2015

Spock Crush

Why would a teenage girl lust after a TV character whose main trait is a lack of emotion?

Well, I mean besides the part that he was beautiful in an exotic way.

I don't know about the generations that followed me, but I can speculate about those in my own age range, we who were just beginning to blossom when the voyages of the starship Enterprise first flew across our screens.

I think it's a daddy issue.  Think about it, our daddy's were of the age when men were men.  They were WWII vets.  Their role models were John Wayne and James Arness.  Our dads were tough and hard and distant, or pretended to be.

It was the dawning of the age of aquarius - barely.  Family gender roles that had been set in stone were just beginning to shake and shift.  Hair was growing longer and freer, flowers were beginning to be added.  And hey, maybe all wars were not noble.

And here comes this series set in the future that pushed the boundaries of what you could talk about on TV.  There were races working together, including (gasp) a Russian!  There was the first interracial kiss on TV (even if they were forced by aliens, and they didn't really show it).

So, here is your average young geek girl, feeling her hormones stir.  Her daddy is a man of his time, cold and distant.  Of all those hunky guys on that starship bridge, why Mr. Spock?


Because what could be hotter than dream about being irresistible and eliciting emotions from this beautiful man that doesn't do emotions.

If you can dream that, maybe you can even dream of a daddy that can express love, and maybe, someday, someone else as well.

I have admired Leonard Nimoy for many reasons in the years sense, and I am joining with many others today, marking his end on this plain with tears in my eyes.

And lust in my heart.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

The magic of the story

I'm a Disney girl.

Oh, I don't run around sporting the characters and I don't know all the trivia.  But the magic of Disney has been a part of my whole life.  Disney land opened when I was four days old, and in my childhood the TV shows were not to be missed.  My family didn't go to movies much, but I would usually get to tag along with someone's family when a new came out.  Didn't make it to the park 'till I was 10.

Living just down the freeway, my kids had a different experience, especially my youngest, and annual passes became a part of our lives.  We have all learned a lot over the years: map reading skills, line and crowd patience, and about the magic.

You find the magic of Walt's dream woven throughout the park.  It is in the details.  When your eyes roam you often notice little bits of detail and decoration so that, no matter how often you go, you can still find surprise and delight.  It is in the constant music that always adds to the sense of place.  It is in the almost obsessive attention to keeping it clean.

And it is in the story.

Every path you walk down, every ride you ride, has a story.  You feel that even if you don't notice it.  I became acutely aware of this recently because I noticed a few exceptions.

Now I'm not talking about the rides that are just zippy, flippy fun action rides, though those often have a story as well.  But I'm thinking more of the classic get in a decorated pod on a track and go through the story ride.  It can be a wild ride through the western mountains and almost getting blown up.  It can be seeing so many experiences through Pinocchio's eyes, and then that elusive glimpse of  the blue fairy near the end.  It can even be going through all the countries of the world, and right after you pass through the US everyone is all in the same beautiful white and gold land singing together. (So we are the closest thing to heaven?)

So, these exceptions, well, I really don't want to name names, but...

There are a couple of the more recently added rides, oh, 5 years or so, that don't have the story.  Oh, they have sequential scenes based on a movie or based on some characters,  but that is all it is, a series of scenes.  You ride past and think 'Oh, look, that's the part from the movie where...' and you come out thinking about how cleverly they handled the technology, but you don't feel you went on an adventure.  They ride didn't have it's own story.

And that matters, and I will say it again and again, so much of who we are, so much what we remember and how we think of ourselves, depends on the stories we tell.  And for all the detail and the wonder and special effects, stop telling the stories in the Disney rides and you have lost the heart of Walt's magic.

And in the magic of our own journeys through life remember: details matter, music sets the mood, cleanliness makes things nicer, and always, always, remember to tell your story.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Love today

Cheese and crackers.  That was our special treat for those times when we had the house to ourselves, lingering in bed late at night or on a weekend morning.  We would ply each other with cheese and crackers and more cuddles, and more. Then he got a better job and we got a microwave, and miracle of miracles, we moved up the food chain to nachos.

I see so many of the younger couples I know struggling with adversary, wanting to give more to each other and their children, and I just have to smile.  I want to grab them and hold them and help them know, these are your good times.

Now, don't get me wrong, cars that run and Disneyland, being able to take a sick kid to the doctor and still eat, money in the bank and fun on the weekend, all that stuff is great.

But those hard times, those lean times; testing the limits of what you can do without and still love each other and still make fun for your kids, those times are priceless.

This is how your kids learn to hang tough and make their own joy when times are hard.  They grow in confidence and find out that it is ok to swim against the stream.

And this is when you really get to know that your relationship is not about what you have, but the people you are when you are together.  The whole of your relationship, your family, is so much more than any of you can be alone.

And yes, I know you can't see this right now.  Right now you see car problems. Right now you are wondering how the rent is going to be paid.  Right now you may be dodging a bill collector, facing a lay-off, or looking at a little plastic stick with a plus sign and going "Crap, now what?"

But one day, one of you will be alone, looking back, and thinking about cheese and crackers in bed, and rolling in the crumbs.  And you will smile and wish that you had appreciated how good it was at the time.

Hold your love close, this is the time you have, this is the life you have. Treasure it. Happy Valentine Day.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

What I think I believe, for now.

I try not to get in these conversations about spiritual/religious practices.  But sometimes I do, and I'm trying really hard to figure out how to say what I mean.

I think a relationship with God is very individualized, so it isn't supposed to look the same for each person.

I don't think rituals are necessary.  They can be helpful to some people, but for other people they just get in the way.

I don't think you have to be a great scholar or theologian.  I think God meets us where we are, who we are, and works with us to be our best self.  Some people do that better with books and deep study and convoluted theories, other's don't.

I don't think you have to go to a regular meeting, but if that is useful to you I think that is great.

I think God is love and the opposite is fear.  I find myself highly suspect of any spiritual system that seems to build more fear.

I think people are born/created with natural gifts and talents.  I don't think we understand all that much about them, have not begun to imagine our possibilities.

I think that spirituality that denies science is not well informed.

I think science that denies spirituality is limiting the scope of study.

I think it has always been about relationship with God.  People often need to make it more complicated, and he/she lets us because we are completely understood.

And I understand about being hurt by other people and wanting them to get what is coming to them.  I understand about thinking that there needs to be clear rules, right and wrong, lightness and dark.  But on this earth, in this life, we have been asked to walk this path between the mount of blessing and the mount of curses, and that path is a path of trust.  Sometimes there is ambiguity, because that is part of learning about the ways that it is not just about what I want.

And I know that I have more path to walk, more to learn, some of this may change, and your milage may vary.  More and more I think it is also about being ok with that as well.  In the end, I don't think it is about how far I get on the path or the end of the journey, but rather about trusting the next step and being at peace with my traveling companions.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Pondering the pivotal

In early 1970 my parents moved me from my Southern California Jr High to a small town in Florida where K-12 were all basically on the same campus.  This move happened in the middle of the school year, and happened to be the first year this school was integrated.  I cannot even, for the purposes of this post, begin to explain the levels of culture shock to my little, hippy Jesus freak spirit.

But the school was also going through it's own shocks, so I really don't know how much of my experience was my own dislocation or the times.  This was a very old school with so many established traditions, in a time when traditions were being challenged left and right.

One whole set of traditions concerned honoring Seniors.  There was a prime section of the cafeteria reserved for the Seniors.  When we had school assemblies, the front center section was left empty.  Then everyone would stand to honor the Seniors as they marched in to fill their reserved seats.

My Junior year the continuation of these traditions was put to the entire 7-12 grades.  My senior year, seniors went unhonored.

I have this suspicion that if only the Seniors had voted, my class would still have enjoyed all these honors.  And being a member of that pivotal class,  I could really see it both sides so clearly: to continue the tradition and give honor to those who had worked for years, or to discontinue the tradition in keeping with this new era of equality.

I have often seen this same struggle in the various organizations I have been part of throughout my life, the struggle between maintaining traditions and moving forward to more inclusion.  There is never a way to make everyone happy, and there are always going to be some who feel especially wronged or slighted in the process.

You might think that I would have some profound insight by this time.  I don't.  I still think people who have worked hard deserve to be honored, but that everyone should have access to all the cookies.  I still think traditions are lovely and give us a sense of history, and can also bog us down and keep us from needed growth and change.  I still think that we need the wisdom of those who came before, but that everyone should have a voice and be heard.

We are able to do things united into organizations that are beyond the reach of individuals.  But is it inevitable that organizations will always come to a place where the individual often feels devalued?  I don't know. Ask me again on another day and I might think I do, but for right now, this evening, I'm just to tired of the struggle in my own thoughts and feelings to even keep the conversation going.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

What Now?

Here is a life goal, don't know where or when I picked it up: to die well.  To live up to my responsibilities to my family and then, when I was done, get the f out of the way with the least fuss possible.

So much in my life has reinforced this, from the way my elders have passed on, to my conviction that my life has relatively little value in the larger scheme of things. I'm just not that important.

I'm not saying my kids don't love me. I'm can be a fun person, and I still have a bit of wisdom to share. But seriously, they have their spouses and kids and jobs.  They are moving on, getting life done.  I see their need for my and my relevance fading. I sure don't want to burden any of them with needing to wipe up my fluids even if I don't know them anymore.

So half-kidding today, I made the statement that my next major goal in life was to die a good death.

And I was told in no uncertain terms that this would not be allowed.

Doesn't matter how useless I am or how much my upkeep costs.

I am not to be allowed so much as a DNR order, if I even think about dying, I can just forget, they are going to wring every last bit of life out of me.

This is going to take some processing.  I guess I always thought that they all mean more to me than I mean to them; and I don't mean just my family, I mean the world in general.

Seriously, I did not even realize anyone would care that much.  I don't know what to do with the feeling.  What in the world am I supposed to do with being loved?

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Self serving blindness

I try not to think about it, because it still makes me go grrr.  I didn't feel up to doing something I really enjoy, so as I wasn't going off to do the fun thing with everyone else it was forcefully suggested to me that I clean up everyone elses mess while they were gone.

Why were so many of these otherwise nice people who like me (1) oblivious to their own messes, (2) think that I was staying behind because I didn't want to do fun thing, and (3) assume it was ok to tell, not ask nicely mind you, to labor while they were gone.

Why do people complain about dishes in the sink, unless they are their own?

Why do other people hair in the sink gross us out, but we will ignore our own?

Come on, be real, we all do it.  The thing that distinguishes a considerate person is that they are able to see these things through the other person's eyes and take action.  The take action part is just a matter of deciding that you will not be lazy. But the seeing part is trickier.

Self-serving blindness, we all do it sometimes.  We all only see the side of the story that is going to make us the good guy, or get us out of the job we don't want to do.  So instead of confronting the really hard to talk to people about cleaning up after themselves, to pick on the meek old ladies who have cleaned up after themselves and make them clean up after everyone else, as well.

And meek old ladies have their own self serving ways.  We have years of accumulated knowledge of observing masters of passive aggressive behaviors.  We also have patience, and really long memories.

And in the spirit of my ideal of being honest and upfront in all my dealings, I admit to my own self-serving blindness.  I'm not good at confrontation and yeah I'm still pissed off.  So there.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Creative Inclusiveness.

I was moved to tears because someone in a far away kingdom received an award. One reason is because he really deserved it, but more than that, it gives me hope.

In this medieval game I play, inclusiveness has become a big issue in many ways.  I'm not going to get into all the issues, but I want to say a bit about why it matters to me. I mean, I'm not really part of any minority that might worry about exclusion, at least not on the surface.

But I came to this game late in life.  Many people who are playing and are my age have been doing it from a much younger age; they have won their accolades in times past and are resting on their laurels or nests or whatever.  But that isn't me.

Let's be real, in many ways this game favors the young.  Fighting, camping, schlepping stuff, putting in long days of service is so much easier when you are 20 or 30 than when you are 50.  Or 60.  I am convinced that the day will come sooner than I would like that I simply can't do it anymore.  And as the population in our group ages, there are more people needing help than there are younger hands coming in to take up the slack.

But then there's Justin.  He is caught by a debilitating health situation that keeps him mostly home.  And because of this and the slow response of the disability system, he also has strict financial limits.  But he still plays this game and plays it hard.  He serves many people with questions of heraldry, helping with finding names and designing devices.  He does it all from his home, online.  He does it so much, that when he was Skyped in to an event this past weekend and presented with an award, they said they received recommendations from seven different Kingdoms.

And tears ran down my face, because it gives me hope.  Hope that there will still be a way for me to make a difference even if I can't get out there and do it all.  Hope that the C in the SCA will stand for looking beyond the way that things have always been done so that everyone gets to play.

Inclusiveness matters.  Even if you have never had a reason to feel excluded.  Especially if you are the young, the strong, the majority, the one without any barriers.  Justin is a lot of fun.  I have been told that I am a lot of fun.  Take the game as seriously as you need to, but don't forget the fun.

BTW, if you would like to give Justin a little help while he waits for disability, here is a way:

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Wanting poetry

I am befuddled by poetry, by the writing of it.

I have met a few professional, published poets (even though, of course, that is not how they make their livings) and they talk about the labor of crafting a poem.

My experience is that a poem happens almost by a will of its own.  words form in my head, need to flow out.  I almost feel like it is a process that should be done privately.  I really don't understand my own computation to commit poetry and then share it.

I would think it must all be be bad, but there are always some people who like it.
The only time it is not liked is when I work at it, when I try to do it, when I craft it.

I wonder if it is that way in all arts, that some work hard and craft, and other's just can't seem to help it.

The other part that, well, makes me ponder is that if often feels like a prayer.  Even when the subject is the most profane, or most ordinary.  But my heart feeling is one of offering, of holiness.

I would like to spit out, extrude, commit more poetry.  I would like to make it happen more.  If feels like what I am meant to do, even though I think I'm probably doing it all wrong.

But really, that is kind of the point I am making.  I don't know how to do it.  I don't know how to make it happen.  I have studied and studied but still don't understand creativity.

I only understand snatching at the occasional bubble as it floats by.