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February 2012

January 2012

January 17 The Beginning

Sometimes when we feel lost, even in the most familiar places, we need to begin again at the beginning.  Days pass, memories fade or become emblazoned and life simply flows, minute by minute.  We change... or not.  But if we can be still long enough to take a second look at where the journey started anew, we might find that it's just a matter of refocusing to find clarity.  So that's what I decided to do with my adventure in blogging.... revisit the beginning, July 2008.

Old tree


July 2008

July 31, 2008

It never ceases to amaze me that we are all so intricately connected even though we don't always have the opportunity to see it.

Last week I saw a rerun of ER. Alan Alda recited a poem and one line touched my heart so deeply that I embarked on a search to find the poem. I thought that they said it was by William Blake but the only key words I could remember were lake and heron and that proved fruitless.

Finally I decided to "google"... William Blake poem on ER... and would you believe that someone else was doing the same search two years ago and there it was, on a small conversation board. I'm sharing it today because I don't want to lose it again and perhaps there is someone else out there making peace with a life that is both precious and unpredictable.

The Peace of Wild Things
— Wendell Berry

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children's lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

What touched my heart and what I wanted to impress on each of us is ..."the peace of wild things who do not tax their lives with forethought of grief."

How much happier we will be when we release our white knuckled grip on the future fears that strangle the life out of this moment. When grief happens, we find the strength... unless we have exhausted today with anticipation of what might be.

Just for today, I will not be afraid. Just for today I will acknowledge how grateful I am for the little things that make my heart light. Just for today I will love the way I am loved and release all regrets and worries and the incessant day planner in my head.

Tomorrow we will start again... together.

 Every new beginning...

July 28, 2008

When life begins to change too quickly, when memories sustain you but life calls, imploring you to rediscover passion and joy, the only course of action seems to be to stand perfectly still. To allow the breeze of change to wash over and through you and just breathe.

I have grieved a seemingly endless grief. Most of the time it has been in silence, in the quiet hours of night, on the way to work, on the porch, in a crowd... at the grocery store facing Chef Boy R Dee.

I'm not completely sure how to move back into the flow of a life that doesn't have Shannon in it in the same familiar ways. I've been moving. For ten years I've done what I thought I should. I've talked as if I knew how to live with sorrow. I haven't given up on me or Shannon or life and I've searched to complete exhaustion for the hidden meaning in losing my only child so soon.

I'm hoping we can discover some of those answers together... and even if we only find that we are here to merely hold on to one another... that's okay too.

In the movie "Medicine Man", the last line is, "Life down here is very strange... but so very precious."

It is so very true.

Funny how we find

When we stop our frantic search

All we ever need

January 15, 2012

Beenie and meI've been told more times than I care to count that I think too much.   Shannon told me, after reading one of my 'better' attempts at poetry, that everything I wrote was depressing.  Perspective.  I thought I was deep.  Profound perhaps, insightful.  My dear sweet critic, whose favorite author was Stephen King, thought I needed to 'lighten up'.  Quite a commentary on perceptions.

Since my first post to this blog in August of 2008, I have been on a roller coaster 'write'.  I think they call it 'finding your writer's voice'.  My best ideas seem to surface in the middle of the night or in the bath tub and I'm either too tired or too wet to capture them.

I do remember waking in the night last night with my gratitude list scrolling across my mind's eye... Thank you for the feel of crisp white Shabby Chic sheets, thank you for the whisper of Chanel 5 and Old Spice, thank you for the lingering fragrance of hot buttered wheat toast, thank you for the familiar and ordinary moments in my life.  I would have been happy just to be grateful for a good night's sleep.

Last weekend I attended a workshop, "Manifesting your dreams in 2012".  Everyone hoping for something, a new job, a new love, a new car, a new outlook, a clean bill of health, a bigger house.  I asked, "Is it against some universal law... if I have manifest for someone else?"  And of course the answer was "YES".  We each have a path.  We each have lessons.  We can offer love and hope and prayer and support through those difficult times, but apparently we thwart another's progress if we interfere uninvited.  So... I tried during the course of the day, to discover what it is I want to "manifest" in this life.

A fellow searcher asked me what I would do if money wasn't an issue.  I said that I would write, but I questioned whether or not I had anything to say that anyone would be interested in reading.  His advice ?  "Write!  Even if you think it's all been said before, it hasn't been said by you."

If I write what is in my heart it may be perceived as 'depressing'.  Shannon knew me better than anyone and that was often her perception even though she knew I wasn't depressed.  If I try to 'lighten up', as I did writing about my job... if feels contrived and unsatisfying. 

 You know that line in the song The Story, " these stories don't mean anything when you've got no one to tell them to"(, well that's the way I feel.  I'm not sure that I have anything worth sharing but my stories must mean something and that has to include you, the someone to tell them to. 

Most of our lives are intertwined.  We eat, sleep, laugh, cry, work, get angry, worry, love, inquire, discuss, remember and dream.  Why is it then, that so often we feel that we are making this trip alone?  That no one knows how we feel or could be this stupid, or afraid, or forgetful or misunderstood.  It is in being as open and honest as I know how that I find you and we can laugh or cry together, either way, we have someone to hold on to.  Someone who is as fragile as a butterfly's wing and as strong as a towering oak.  Someone like me only different.

Thirty eight years ago, I was given a gift beyond compare.  Fourteen years ago, I received another.  I'm not sure why I was so blessed but in the days and weeks and months ahead, I will revisit the moments along the way that broke me open and allowed me time to put the pieces back together.  I hope there will be clarity and meaning in the discovery....maybe for each of us.

Since Shannon returned to Heaven, I have been Humpty Dumpty trying desperately to put those damn pieces back together again.  They don't always fit and I don't look the same but to lay around in a puddle of broken pieces and egg yolk is unacceptable.

I really like Thomas Edison's encouragement...  "Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time. "

To know the ending

Might keep me from beginning

How sad would that be?


January 12

Facebook fascinates me.  I love being able to catch up with old friends.  See photos of the moments that make them smile.  I love the shared philosophy and viewpoints even if I don't agree... I respect them and applaud our freedom to express.   I don't quite get the endless complaining... or name calling or disrespectful comments ... but without a safe place to vent, it's hard to tell what might happen to those otherwise gentle souls.

Some days I really need to hear exactly what someone has shared.  Today was that kind of day.

A dear friend shared this thought today...  "I'm not hot or gorgeous, I don't have an amazing figure or a flat stomach. I'm far from being considered a model but I'm ME. I eat food, I have curves, I love my Pj's, and I go without make-up lots of times. I'm random and crazy, I don't pretend to be someone I'm not. I am who I am, you can love me or not. I won't change!! And if I love you, I do it with all my heart!! I make no apologies for the way I am. Ladies put this on your status if you're proud of who you are!"

So fitting, given that yesterday I decided to photograph myself in my work space.  I was splicing in the rain, in a tent, in a field.  I was dressed in really heavy duty coveralls, a fluuuffy vest and my work coat, circa 2007, with torn pockets and a faded blue hood.  In my tent I had a bright blue tarp on the ground, a short legged table, a shorter box to sit on, a tiny heater and of course, my Chic Fil A un sweet iced tea. Oh and my Panda hat and really bad safety glasses.  I had music on my smart little phone and because I was alone all day, it never occurred to me how I looked until a pick up slowed and the driver stared a little too long, to watch as I was preparing to clean up for the day.

That's when I decided to capture the moment.  I received a text from one of my favorite nieces.  They are all so wonderful and have made such wise. professional, career choices and it occurred to me that they have never seen me in my work environment.  They were so supportive when I was trying to follow my dreams with photography and art and continued that support when I opted to return to Verizon. These savvy young women were instrumental in convincing me to dip a toe into the technology of the day and I have to admit that I do love the sound of the "magic wand" alerting me to an incoming text ... Especially as a diversion from the cold rain beating on my tent and the steady stream of winter water flowing past my pink boots !

 Like my pink boots and panda bear hat, life is so much gentler when we can giggle at ourselves.

Photo 11

Cold drippy work days

Yellow tents and bucket trucks

Who could ask for more?

January 7

My 57th birthday was the day after Christmas.  My Mom had a brunch and everyone was there except for Jules and he had to work.  Deciding that I wanted to make Gavin a "Family Album" for his birthday was easy.  Convincing each member of my family to pose for photos, not so much.

Then again, an empty picture frame, held in front of your face magically dispels inhibitions and provides the vehicle for fun.

IMG_0532This is Gavin and his "G-Gia". 













Aj4Of course it wouldn't be fair to ask my family to do something that I wouldn't do myself, so I also included some self portraits.

It may seem ridiculous at first glance but life and time demand so much and before we know it we're almost sixty and memory starts to fade.  This may not be the way I want to be remembered at "almost sixty"... but then again, I sort of get the feeling that there are Angels giggling at my long overdue dip in a little "happy".

All too often, mostly when I'm alone, I allow myself to wear "sad" with too much comfort.  During the holidays, I miss Shannon more than I have words for... even after almost fourteen years. 

So this year, on this birthday, I allowed myself to feel "happy".  Little ones have magical powers.  They fill you up without even trying.

In years to come we'll laugh at our silliness.  But I am sure that this family album will always be one of our favorites !


IMG_0517IMG_0521IMG_0503(Aren't they the best sports ever?)

Counting my blessings

Has never been easier

Frame by golden frame !

January 6

I'm not totally convinced that change is possible.  This is day six of a brand new year. "This book is yet unwritten".  I've gained two pounds, stared with amazement this morning at the "jiggly bits" that have formed around my middle and upper thighs and I've only logged one mile on the treadmill.  I have not prepared one meal at home this week unless Biscotti and coffee count and I missed three days in my diary/blog.  I missed the seven o'clock webinar last night, too tired to take off my heavy duty coveralls and climb the stairs.

On the other hand... I have made the bed every morning.  The Christmas tree is in the backyard next to the bird feeder and although the ornaments and lights are not back in the attic, they are in boxes lining the hall.  I have worked a very cold week.  Thank you notes are written and mailed.  Snapfish family album is created and I DID receive the discount even though it took hours to unravel the on line restrictions to the coupon !

Shannon's roomI have made a real effort to linger for a few minutes each morning to really feel the warmth and comfort of home, to appreciate the subtle changes in Shannon's room that remind me that moving forward doesn't mean never looking back. 

I realized that each morning's silent conversation usually begins with "Dear Father please hear my prayer" as if God might not listen.

Expectations.  We all have them even when we plan not to.  Disappointments inevitably follow.  Doing the same thing over and over expecting different results is the definition of insanity, are any of us sane?  That's where hope comes tapping softly. 

I hope that today I will make better, healthier food choices.  I hope I will appreciate more than I take for granted.  I hope I will not forget to turn the water off when brushing my teeth.  I hope I will succeed in lowering my cholesterol.  That's really all we can do in this new year.  We start out with resolve and intent and watch for success on the horizon.  We celebrate our subtle changes and trust that when it really matters, we always come through.

Purple Pansies gaze

Across a frozen expanse

Envisioning spring

January 2 Pajamas and Elves

I have some very old pajamas. They are waffle weave, pale yellow with lots of once bright green frogs all over them. Some of the frogs have their arms wide open in anticipation of hugs, some are dancing, some are simply smiling, some are even wearing crowns... the frog prince or princess perhaps? Anyway, they are really well loved pajamas, the kind that Shannon referred to as "comfortable as a second skin". Making the decision to stay in those pajamas while I had my morning coffee with Jules, un decorate the Christmas tree , rearrange furniture and launder curtains was risky. There is always the possibility that someone will come to the door and catch you being you but it was a risk I was willing to take in the interest of comfort .... until the door bell rang.

There standing on our front porch were the "Cookie Elves". My first instinct was to hide and pretend we weren't home...but with no curtains on the windows, I knew that I had been seen. I hadn't brushed my teeth, I hadn't combed my bed hair, I was wearing no foundation garments beneath my well worn frog pajamas and my house looked like a Christmas tornado had just blown through, but these were our favorite elves and they came bearing cookies for goodness sake.

I opened the door and apologized but they didn't see my mess. They smiled that wonderful way elves smile, gave us our cookies and laughed with us about our mutual menageries and the problems that come with multiple critter households. We talked about returning to work and how cold the weather was going to turn, the bag of squirrel food that was scattered across the porch and my brightly colored Santa ribbon.

When they waved goodbye as they headed down the walk, and I closed the door behind me, I realized that I had forgotten how I looked. I had forgotten the frogs, the fir needles, the bare windows and boxes of ornaments. I had relaxed into a moment with friends that far surpassed superficial. These friends love me for me. They don't care how I look, how my house looks or if I'm wearing raggedy jams at noon.

The cookies are delicious, by the way, and we have eaten more in a day than we should have, but each tasty morsel reminds me of what really matters....we do, to each other. What a gift !

Raspberry thumb prints

Second day of a new year

Cookie Elves with hugs !

(Suspend all haiku expectations please, this is a work in progress : )

January 1, 2012

I've been doing some thinking about writing, blogging, sharing... and my plans for this newest year include, shorter entries... like post cards.  The year I spent exchanging haiku with my sweet friend in California was not only fun but required creating snapshots of life, descriptive and revealing, distilled into three lines totalling seventeen syllables.  It was incredibly difficult, like trying to describe an emotion when the vocabulary has yet to be imagined.

I'm also considering using this format, intimate, solitary, to write letters.  There are so many things that are left unsaid when life ends unexpectedly.  No, I'm not planning on leaving any time soon but who knows.  If I discovered that I only had a year to live how would I want to do that?  The truth is ... we always live as if we have forever.  As if tomorrow will always be there to do the fun things that today's chores don't allow for.

I want to try, with your help, to find what really matters in every moment of this newest year... and to appreciate, to savor, to enjoy.  I thought after Shannon 'left' that happy wasn't going to be a part of my life.  Happiness was frivalous and periferal and if I could embody a quiet joy, that would be enough but now I'm not so sure.

Yesterday was planned.  Our beautiful live tree from "Crazy Joe's" is just beginning to drop needles and I'm ready to take it down and move it into the woods.  New bedding for Shannon's room, a way to create a space for both of us, brighter, lighter, subtle shifting.  Wash curtains and iron the new dust ruffle, but plans are not to be a part of 2012 without embracing, whole hearted-ly, flexibility.

Christmas tree

Pondering a return to work on Tuesday without my splicing partner makes me sad.  He was part of last years' reduction in force and is moving toward bigger and brighter things.  I will miss him.  His favorite response to any of my moaning was, "It is what it is Miss Jan".  I learned a great deal from this young man, two years younger than Shannon.  With any luck the truth of  his words and his positive outlook will buffer my attitude when patience runs thin.

There is a gentle stirring, like a whispered excitement that there are wonderful things just over the horizon in this new year.  I feel it in that tender spot just below my breastbone, just above my navel.  It brings tears to my eyes when I acknowledge it.  Perhaps that is where we experience what we can't always see.  The memory of who we really are, our unspoken connection to the Divine.  I'm not sure but it fills me with a calm that is all too often missing in the whirlwind of my life.

So I breathe it in.

Sweet, gentle, peaceful moment.

I remember you.