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February 2014

February 4, 2014

I love those little stories and quotes that friends post on Facebook.  One day when I'm far more organized I'm going to create a file just for those little whispers of inspiration and wisdom.

Yesterday I was reminded of the one about plates and 'sorry'.  You know the one,

- Grab a plate and throw it on the floor.
- Okay,done.
- Did it break?
- Yes.
- Now, say sorry to it.
- Sorry.
- Did it go back to how it was before?
- No.
- Do you understand?

I thought about it all day.  How many times have we said or done something in a thoughtless or insensitive way and then imagined that we could make it all better with "I'm sorry"?  I'm certainly guilty I'm sorry to say.   But it's true, and easier to understand when we imagine ourselves to be the one injured instead of the one injuring.

Our tender places are so strong and yet so fragile.  Our feelings get hurt and we get the apology and shrug it off.  To forgive is Divine and all that... but it's harder to forget.  Harder to go back to the place where we were whole and unsullied with cracks and gloppy hardened glue.  And how many times are we expected to sit quietly and put all those little bits back together before we become unrecognizable?

Remember in the movie "City of Angels" when Nicholas Cage was frantically trying to come up with a last name that would satisfy Meg Ryan and he looked up at the cabinet and said 'Plate' ?  I've decided to keep that image in mind so that the next time I am tempted to be rude or thoughtless, to speak in a moment of anger or fatigue, spewing words that once said can't be unsaid... like unringing a bell... an Angel named Seth Plate is going to pop into my head and remain unbroken.

That is my plan, anyway !



February 3, 2014

This morning at 7:45 I sat in the very bright waiting room of Access Eye.  Yearly exam.  I looked down at my black mo~hair jeans ( mo hair on me than the cats ) and the blue gray paint splattered across my cranberry sweater.  I had bathed and dressed and applied some makeup because I remembered pondering the wisdom of mascara...but in that moment I wondered at what point I had quit worrying about my appearance. 

Work attire was always blue jeans and boots.  My favorite shirts were white waffle weave, soft and easy to move around in.  Since I retired, I really haven't made any changes in my wardrobe.  Feeling old and fat, I guess I ease into comfort rather than fight with fashion.  But sitting in those bright lights watching the rain through the very reflective clear glass windows, I felt self conscious and small.

There is something magical about having your pupils dilated.  The world glitters as if being viewed through a star filter.  Everyone has a halo and their fashion sense becomes irrelevant.

Several hours later I was sitting in the waiting room of the Gastroenterologist waiting for my friend who was dozing through the indignity of a colonoscopy.  We had laughed about being each other's "person" and how lucky we were to have each other but it still felt strangely awkward to see the photos of her pristine colon including appendix.  I was delighted that she was perfectly healthy but as I listened to the extremely kind physician explain the details of the exam, I couldn't help but think of how it must feel to spend your days, saving lives, one a** hole at a time.  Thank goodness my inner censor stopped me from saying it out loud.

I was still wearing hairy pants and a paint splattered sweater but my sweet 'person' didn't seem to notice.  Drove her home to sleep off her lingering "Loopiness" and came home to watch the DOW tumble and consider what I would do if my entire retirement account evaporated.

So naturally, in that optimistic frame of mind I decided to work on our taxes.  Looking at last years' bank and credit card statements has brought me back to the present moment, missing my Mom so much it hurts.  It seems impossible that this time last year I was shopping with her in Culpeper.  Making the rounds.  Produce at Aldi.  Petsmart for kitty litter and cat food.  WalMart for Valentines for the little boys.  Lunch.  Doctor visits. Conversations and plans and everyday errands.  One week later I took her to have her car inspected and that was the last time she drove. 

Gram 2

We all miss someone.  It is inevitable.  Even in the everyday, extraordinary ordinary, there is someone who is part of who we are, who we have become, whose absence leaves us feeling like we've lost our keys or put our socks on the wrong feet.  I'll let you in on a secret.  One day last week I was rushing.  My thoughts were all over the place... everywhere but in the moment.  I bathed and dressed and brushed my teeth and as I reached for the hair drier, there were my neatly folded panties.  I hadn't even realized that I had put on my socks and jeans and shoes and forgotten my panties.  So I undressed and started again.  In that moment I was embarrassed and a little stunned and relieved that no one would ever know. 

So I'm sitting here, fingers tapping lightly on the keyboard wondering why on earth I felt compelled to share this afternoon.  Oh Well !

Maybe it's because I'd like to think that there are other people out there who have days ... years ... like this.  Disjointed and awkward and scattered and foolish. But you are still able to sigh and smile because you are exhausted but in one piece. 

Or maybe, if you are having one of those days and feeling like the crazy one, in mo hair pants, you will read this and in some magical way that defies logic, know that we will be starting over tomorrow ... stretched and harried and frazzled .... together, and it's all going to be okay.

You Never Know ~ Feb 2

I want to share a story from a book I'm reading... "Still Here ~ Embracing Aging, Changing, and Dying" by Ram Dass.


"Once, there was a farmer in a village who had a horse that he treasured.  One day the horse ran away, and the farmer's neighbor came to his house to offer his condolences.  "I'm so sorry for your loss," he said, trying to be a good friend.  "You never know, " the farmer replied.  The very next day, the horse came back, leading a beautiful wild mare alongside him.  Again the neighbor piped in: "That's wonderful !" he said.  "What a stroke of good luck!"  The farmer replied, "You never know."  A few days later, the farmer's son was trying to break the wild horse in, was thrown to the ground, and broke his leg.  Of course the neighbor came over to say how sorry he was that things had gone badly.  The farmer replied, "You never know."  A short time later, the Cossack army came through the village in search of young men to fight in the war, but since the farmer's son's leg was broken, he was allowed to stay at home.  "Aren't you a fortunate man!" the neighbor said when he heard the news.  You can guess what the farmer replied.  The point is that we never know what changes will come, or how they'll affect us.  The law of impermanence, anicca, requires that if we want to reduce our suffering we learn to weather change as gracefully as possible, remaining open to what we do not know."

I am aging, changing and dying, every minute of every day... but I am also living, and that's the part that requires embracing all the rest. 

Change makes me anxious, churley, difficult.  It's when I attempt my white knuckled grip on all that is safe and familiar....that I need to be reminded that I can only accept the gifts of living with hands wide open. 

So for today, in this moment, my mantra will be "You Never Know".  I will say it with a smile, and make a valiant effort to accept it with as much grace as I can muster.