In honor of John

don  1

Two years ago I walked in to a physical therapist’s office not knowing at all what I was facing. I think back to that time in my life and it is hard to remember the fear and pain I was in all the time. It was so pervasive that I was unable to even sense how deep it was. I just lived with it. I did not know what flight, fight or freeze was and how the limbic system worked. I did not understand much of anything that was going to be presented to me in the following years. I had expectations of walking into his office and he would look at me, give me ten exercises and tell me to be on my way. “See ya next week.” I was so wrong.

Every week I would show up and like a terrified animal, I would wrap myself up as tight as I could get and almost cringe as I walked into the office or into his treatment room. I hated that yellow room. It scared me. But the daemons were all of my own making. It took months before he could even touch me to help me. Looking back it is hard to remember what it felt to be that scared all the time. It is hard to remember how hypervigilant I was all the time. I was a terrified human being whose bruises were apparent to everyone. I felt disconnected to everyone and everything. No one knows how really bad it was except John, who stood at the edge of the rabbit hole and extended his hand. It was his pulling me up to the next level that allowed me to fight for myself and ask for more help. His investment in me gave me strength and hope, something no one else had ever done for me.

Something amazing happened. I began to trust him. It was his faith in me and the courage he gave me that allowed this healing to occur. I asked to heal and I made a commitment to work on healing. My wounds were very big, some so deep that I did not even know all the pieces. Together we would eradicate the fear as they surfaced and together we would face them. I spent hours writing and sending him my thoughts; pages and pages of it. He patiently would respond with encouragement and hope. It was his hope, his light that gave me the strength to continue.

And I did continue. I found other guides who joined my crusade to aide me. I would crash and burn continually. I literally fell on my face once, but I spent hours doing face plants in a metaphorical sense. I think back and I wonder why would anyone go through something like this? Well, like the chicken, I wanted to get to the other side. We even would fight as I thought I wanted something I felt he was not providing. He was wise and knew in time I would get what I needed. Like a young child, he nurtured me and showed me that my impatience was not a bad thing but I needed to learn to trust. I still struggle with this but I am so much better.

My wheel has turned and I continue to grow. I have been blessed with a new teacher who I connected with a year ago. She has taken me places I never would have dreamed of before I walked into that small office two years ago. I write this in an effort to encourage others who are as afraid as I was to seek help and support. I am hoping someday I will pay back all that I have received by helping others find the strength to heal. I will never have the words to express the extent of my gratitude for all those who have helped me.

Tomorrow is my last scheduled visit with John. It is bittersweet because he has been such a huge part of my life. But because of his work with me, I know it is time to move on. I am hoping he will let me see him periodically.

Mr. Borden, know this: I will love you eternally. My gratitude will be demonstrated by continuing to work and grow and not falter on this quest. I know I was a challenging windmill, sir. Never doubt your power and magic as you do possess these things. My light burns bright because of your light. It will be with me always. Thank you.

 

Turing 60

river morning

This coming week, we are off to the River. It is the first trip this year. Usually, we go up just when the ice is flowing off and the trees are just starting to wake up. But we did not this year. I need the River so much right now. Next Sunday, I will turn 60 and I cannot think of a better place to be. I am struggling mightily with this. I have all sorts of phobias and fears associated with aging. The alternative is not very enticing either. I am grateful for being alive this long.

fledgling eagle

The last couple of years have been a review of my past. I have been looking at things with the guidance of some wonderful people who have helped me to see things for what they are. I feel I have grown wiser and more balanced. I would not trade the experience for anything and yet, I never want to go through it again either.

But now, here is this number staring at me. I cannot avoid it. My mother did not see 60. She died at 59 from an aggressive lung cancer. I was 23. I thought she was not really old. I remember her mother, my Gram, when she was 65 and she WAS old. She had kinky grey hair, and boney gnarled fingers. Her eyes were sunken with dark circles. She had a tough life until her daughter, my Aunt took her in. My Aunt and Uncle were millionaires and they took great care of her. Gram died in her sleep at 92. My Aunt died bitter at 89. Her life was her husband and my Uncle died suddenly six years before and nothing was the same for her. She too, went in her sleep while in hospice care. Although my Aunt was diagnosed with breast cancer at 21, she survived with no re-occurrence. She and my Uncle had a great life, especially in retirement. I never saw my Aunt as being old.

My Aunts Ashes and Flowers

MY Aunt B

My father lived to be 71. He went in pieces. He had several bypass surgeries and had his leg amputated when he was in his early 50’s. His side of the family has factor V Leiden which is a blood condition that causes clots. They did not know much about it back then. His mother, my Nana, had it too. He slowly built up plague on his tubing and that caused him to lose the leg and other plumbing issues. It is his illness that causes me great fear. I also have the condition. There is nothing to do about it accept take Coumadin. I was diagnosed with it in 2003 when they found five clots, one located almost in my heart. I was totally blessed and have written about the experience as they all miraculously disappeared. But every time I have cramping in my legs, which I have often, I think…crap…here it comes.

dancing geese

This past month I have been having some major health issues. I have been like the golden goose and passing kidney stones. This condition came about from being over medicated years ago. The drugs caused my right kidney to stop working. I got it functioning back to 41%. This past few months, I have been passing stones again after none for several years. This past week, Tuesday, I was pleased to give birth to triplets, one stone being almost an inch long. One of my dearest friends, who lacks sympathy, has decided I should polish the stones (I have over 30 ) and open up a jewelry shop and call it Pissery Barn. In reaction to having a slow moving collection of stones in my urinary plumbing, I ended up becoming toxic. My output slowed down and what was coming out was battery acid. Yes, I have an immensely high threshold for pain. This was coming on for a couple of weeks. I finally went to the doctor who immediately reacted with more drugs. These drugs, I think, have caused another reaction which is to thin my blood too much. Yesterday and the night before, I was in horrible pain with leg cramps. The solution was to simply stop the drugs and eat a salad.

End of day

End of day

But all this, after not having anything so critical was very scary and disheartening. And then…there is turning 60.

I know I have so much to live for. This is the best time of my life so far. I have something I never had before and that is feeling safe. I think the fear of being so ill suddenly shook my newly built foundation. I have so little faith in western medicine. It was just like I was just getting my head fixed and my spirit in line and then the body went out of alignment. I have heard though that this is not that unusual in the healing process. I am hopeful that this too shall pass. I will find solace in the beauty and peace of the River and I am sure it will help heal me.

What amuses me is that the age of 61 does not bother me a bit. Maybe I will just skip 60.

all photos @jdemeis 2014

Musings on Mother’s Day

SAMSUNG

It is the sign of the changing of the season when Mother’s Day rolls around. All the nurseries open and flowers are available to purchase for the eager gardeners. I am one of those people who wait all year for this. I used to take off from work and go to the nursery to purchase my annuals. I would walk around grinning and nodding to other shoppers who found this ritual to be a total renewal in the faith that life continues on. For some women, this is a time to celebrate children. I am not sure why we have to pin point a specific day for the honoring of child birth, other than to sell cards and flowers. I think it is more important to honor people all the time. But some would say that is my sour grapes speaking.

I am childless. Oh, it is not for lack of trying. I just never was blessed. I went through a lot of the fertility tests and did all the things that were supposed to help. But my husband at the time was not of the same mind, so we never delved into all the reasons why. That is to say in a delicate way, I am not sure if the issue was with me. When the conversation comes around and people are pontificating that they have no regrets, I pipe up that I do. This is the one thing in my life if I had a do-over, I would. I wanted children since I was a child. I had names picked out. I kept things for them to give them when they came into my life. There is nothing I can do to change that now, but I do feel I have the right to be regretful about this.

I have had wonderful children come into my life. I am still in contact with some of my favorite students who were mid-teens when we first met. Many of them now have their own families. I am very close to my two nephews and love them to pieces. But they are in Florida and only talk on the phone with very sporadic visits. I am hoping to end up living nearer to them at some point.

My husband’s family is pretty close and yet, there is a huge gap between his feelings of connection with them. We spent this weekend in the hospital because his father had a huge scare. He seems to be ok, but then, we are not being told the whole truth by his older brother. When we visited Dad without anyone else in the room, he told us he has end stage renal disease. He also said he is not planning on making his 94 birthday which is in October. I am not sure how severe the situation really is as he is not on dialysis and it has not come up in conversations at all.

The real issue this Mother’s day is his Mom. She has dementia and probably Alzheimer’s. Joe does not spend time with his mother and so we only see her with the family and she is pretty quiet but very nasty. This concentrated time this weekend really highlighted how bad she has gotten. The stress is probably what put Dad in the hospital. They have been married 64 years. She is totally dependent on him and yet is horrible to him. So the family is facing putting her in Memory Care where she will get the care she needs and my father-in-law (FIL) can get stronger and have a good remaining life. You can see the pain and guilt it is causing my FIL, but something must be done as she is becoming dangerous. She is wandering in the night, and has other issues. He deserves better care for himself.

My thoughts are how sad that this is how she is going to end her life. She has three children, none can help her now. She is horrible to everyone as the confusion of dementia is scary. Her children see her as a twisted monster, and not the mother who gave them life. She will spend her remaining years alone as even with the family close, she has no clue as to who we are sometimes. Yesterday as I sat with her, she was peaceful and enjoying our visit. But she was lost, and repeatedly asked where her husband was. When we were sitting with Dad in the hospital, we called and his sister put her on the phone so she could talk to him. His face completely changed and you could see and hear the love they still have for each other. This whole weekend has reminded me how precious relationships are.

My Mom died when I was 22. I have been without her for almost 2/3 of my life. There have been many moments in my life when I miss her. I am lucky that I have had great female friendships that have connected me with the nurturing part of my soul. I am by large, a nurturing person too. I connect with Mother Earth so strongly and get my strength from her. My garden is my refuge, my plants and animals are my children. So today, I honor the part of us all that sustains and gives us strength to grow, to love and be loved. I honor the Mother in us all.

 

 

Fear fighter

Spring on Lake Ontario

Spring on Lake Ontario

When my parents were growing up, there whole world was tenuous at best. They came into the world at the end of World War I and by the time they were young adults, they were facing World War II. In between there was the depression. My mother’s parents separated and my grandmother moved back to the farm in West Virginia to have help with her two girls. My father’s brother and father died tragically in a car accident on a rail road track at the hands of a fast train when my father was 3. I watched my father’s business dissolve and he lost sequent employment until he finally was forced to retire without any pension and live on social security. I was with my mother as I witnessed the ravages of cancer take her at 59. I was bedside when my father crossed over 11 years later. I lived through the time as he adjusted to only having one leg. He had an amputation when he was 54. Their life was based on fear.

They lived in a time when how things look was more important than how things were. They were taught propriety and keeping up appearances at all cost. My parents were extremely judgmental. My father felt it was his duty to evoke his opinion on every difference in a person including the color of their skin. My mother was appalled by any person whose appearance was less than perfect especially weight. She never had an issue and was blessed with the ability to eat like a horse and remain tiny.

Their marriage started out with all the trappings of being very wealthy and successful. My father was excused from the war because he was a sole heir. My mother began her family with the comfort of domestic help and doting grandmothers. All of this was lost by the time I was five and by the time I was 14, they were living in an apartment and my mother was employed for the first time since she was married.

They lived in fear and they were angry. Both of them drank every night. Their ritual of cocktails, as they called it, was their escape of their world. It began as a habit of glamour and social acceptance and became their island of peace. Unfortunately, the results of their self-medicating turn ugly and their anger was often leashed upon me. I was the last at home as my other four siblings had moved on with their lives. My mother and father instilled fear in me and they taught me to be judgmental as it was necessary for survival at the time.

I am writing about this because I am working very hard on letting go of fear. It is extremely hard for me and I have to work on it every day and every minute. I have learned techniques to establish a sense of safety when I recognize that fear is creeping in. I hear my parents’ voices with their exaggerated warnings. I hear their voices also in judgment. This is the hardest thing to cut out as I replay their criticism willing. And while I am getting better at not uttering out loud comments about people, I struggle mightily with silencing the critical and nasty voice in my head. It is because I believed them.

I had to focus on why the two people in this world who had the power to influence my being more than anyone would be so cruel. It is because they lived in such abject fear. It is their fear, not mine. It was their world, not mine. I can forgive them as I understand and I can release their grip. I would not have been any better in their circumstances and I think few would. But it is not my truth.

So every day I am allowing the cleaning out of their thoughts. Sometimes it is painful but with the understanding that I am no longer buying into it, I can release it. This is a slow process as it is very deep. I had thought I had gotten past the need to do this, but then I realize that it is a step process. And this is what I want to share more than anything.

When I started the work I am doing on myself, it was overwhelming all that I had to deal with. I am not one for going slow. As I peeled layers back, new raw sores would appear. There were times when I would think I was never going to get through and eventually I did. I am sitting here in the realization it was and is all perfect in its manifestation. There were some huge hurdles that needed to be jumped and then removed. And with every jump and successful landing, I became stronger and mightier. I am quite confident that the path is peppered with more and will be through the rest of my life. It is called being human. But every time my feet hit the ground again, I am fortified for the next. I realize, actually as I am writing this, that I am not as afraid. There is movement forward when you work at releasing the things that weigh you down. Ah, the pun of what I just wrote. We will save that for another time.

Letting go 2014

falls TSP

Yesterday was a beautiful day in upstate New York. I put all the laundry and shopping off my to-do list and my husband and I took a ride in the Finger Lakes. The trees on the outset were not showing any promise but by the end of the day, they had sprouted and lawns were greening up. We headed to an Amish store where I buy my oatmeal. We then proceeded to a state park I had not visited since 1986. I did not tell my husband about the memory attached to the park because I wanted to see what would come up for me there.
Back in 1986, I was married to someone else. And that someone else betrayed me by having an affair. I found out in the worse way and it destroyed me. I knew he was unfaithful, but I never had to really face it. There was no escaping it as he had to tell me he had the possibility of passing a STD on to me. The humiliation of it all was so great. At that particular time, I wanted to save the marriage and so we headed off to a park to walk and talk. This place has a falls that is magnificent. The idea of being in a neutral ground was mine. What happened out of this was to be with me forever.
We got to a place where there was an overlook. In those days, they did not protect everything from the stupidity of humans. You could walk to the very edge of the rim and look down. It was very high and dangerous. I am not one for heights. I walked to the very edge where a tree was growing and wrapped my arms around the tree. I lost all awareness of him or anything else except this one thought: If I let go and fall, all the pain will be gone forever. I was so hurt I seriously contemplated letting go. I have never shared that.
I did not let go, not of the tree and not of the pain. We walked the hiking trail (those were the days when I could hike for miles) and he continued to share his tale of lies. I asked too many questions and he fed me crap for answers. He continued to lie about the situation by declaring it was a one shot deal and it was over. I of course found out it was nine months in the making and he never ended it. In a last ditch effort to hurt me during our divorce, he sent me something in an envelope with her return address on it.
I worked very hard on saving the marriage. We remained married for another 16 years. They were not good years and he continued to lie. He became violent and very angry. He pinned all his errors on me saying I caused him to be that way. I should have sought help sooner, but I was too afraid and ashamed. It is this knowledge of helplessness and shame that I want to help others learn to survive by offering counseling. One day he pushed too far and I realized I was at the lowest point possible. He requested to bring his girlfriends into the home for overnights. I had moved out of our big bedroom into the guest room at that point. He left for a hunting trip and I went to a lawyer. He was served at work in front of all his asshole buddies who were also doing similar feats of crap to their wives. It was the beginning of learning to be a warrior for me.
But yesterday, with my gentle and kind husband, I could no longer walk to that spot as it was fenced. There was also no hiking to be done. I was just grateful we could walk even a very short trek to the current viewing area. The falls were there and not much else had changed except me. I was so glad I did not let go back then.
As we continued on with our day, we went to several other falls so I could take pictures. As we were driving I realized that I had let go. I let go of the pain and I let go of the shame. Being honest, I have not completely let go of the anger but it is truly a tiny part of me. I think it remains so I will continue in the fight to help others. My ex and I parted legally in 2002 and that was the last I ever saw or heard from him. We had spent almost thirty years together. It took over twenty-eight years for me to realize I had finally let go of that tree. But I did not fall, I learned to fly.

cu falls

Thanking Raphael

raphael

I was newly divorce living on my own for the first time in my life, ever. I had noticed that my middle finger on my left hand would get very cold and numb. I smoked. I figured it was Raynaud’s or poor circulation. Sometimes it was fine. I also drank a lot and I mean a lot. One night during a pretty heavy binge, I fell on the stairs. I remember thinking I had not spilled my drink that I was carrying and was actually proud of it. The next morning, I had a very funny feeling. I was off to pick up some kitties to come live with me. I got to the destination, and felt completely awful. I was dizzy, sweating and I could not feel much. There was a loud buzzing and when I walked, I walked with a lean to the left like I was walking in a circle. Someone took my pulse and said they could not find it. I feigned I was fine and actually drove home. I remember literally crawling up the stairs and passing out in bed. I woke sometime much later and my side of my face was numb and buzzy. I tried to eat, was not too successful and went back to bed. The next day, I was better but I was scared. I called my doctor and she said go to the hospital immediately. I have never shared this with anyone except the doctor.

My friend drove me. I told her there was something wrong with my finger. The put oximeter on my finger and I remember they said they thought the meter was broken. They put it on another finger, and it was a strong reading. Back on the bad finger, and it was ridiculously low. They told my friend to go home and pack me a bag. Little did I know it was going to be 11 days later before I just left.

They put me in an observation room and I was left there over night. I do not remember anyone coming in to check on me. I thought one thought; I was as alone as anyone could possibly be. I was not scared, I was alone. I remember thinking in the dark, as the room had no light, which on reflection was very strange, that I could just let go. No one would care and so I did. The next day is a blur, but I ended up having my left arm sliced open and they pulled an inch long clot out of my left wrist. Somewhere in the next day, they scoped me and found five more clots. One was in the subclavian artery close to the heart and was the size of a jelly bean.

This is not about the surgery. This is about what happened the night before the surgery. The doctor had told me to get “my affairs in order.” My dear friend came and signed the health proxy and all the other crap that makes the doctor feel better if he messes up. The prognosis was grim, but they were going to perform open heart surgery and hoped they would not move the clot the wrong way or any other ones.

That night, I had the room to myself. The patient who was in there with me had crossed over. Not a good sign. But I was totally numb to the whole thing. I was not panicking which would be my normal reaction. Around midnight, a thunder storm blew in. There was a huge window and it faced Lake Ontario which was off in the distance. I had a beautiful view. I heard someone approach and sit next to me on the arm of the huge chair I was in. Now I think of it, he perched as there really was no place for him to sit. He was a young male nurse. I was instantly struck by his presence and we did not say much. He just asked if he could sit with me. As I am writing this, eleven years almost to the day, he said hardly anything. But he stayed with me. I was in awe of the lightening which was fierce and fabulous. We did not talk about the surgery or anything. But I felt comforted and calm with him there. I can barely describe him visually: young, male, dark short hair and a square but very pleasant face. He wore blue scrubs. But I can remember distinctly the calm and assurance he provided me. I think I asked him if he had other patients to see and he said he was assigned to me or something similar. I was fine with that. He stayed the whole storm. When he went to leave, he leaned over and kissed me on the forehead. I thought absolutely nothing about it until years later. Nurses do not kiss people.

I just spent the past weekend in a spiritual retreat to continue my lessons on Spiritual Healing Touch. I never got the whole angel thing and struggled mightily with the concept of spirit guides and guardian angels. I had connected with one guide this past year and I have learned to rely on her subtle messages when I quiet my mind. The past month, I have also felt the presence of others who I joking refer to as my posse. They are still nebulous but I am often aware of the sense of support of others coming from behind me. Believe what you will, as I had a lot of doubts about this myself. This weekend, a couple of the techniques required calling on angels to support the healing. At one point, before we started a treatment, you call a specific angel to help. I called on Raphael, who is an Archangel of Healing. (I did not know that when I called him. That was just the name I used. I just google it) I felt someone behind me and then become part of me. It was so overwhelmed I was crying during the whole treatment. My partner thought there was something wrong but they were tears of joy. I actually felt the same thing a couple of more times last weekend. It was amazing, but I would not have believed it two years ago or even six months ago.

So back to the night of April of 2003. I now know this nurse was not a nurse. He never came back. No one had a clue who he was at the hospital. I just let it go and did not think about it much until the other night during a guided meditation. I am not going to go into that. What I will share is what happened the next morning after his visit. I was prepped for surgery, and there is a funny story about the walk to the OR, but I wrote about it once before. The short end of the story is I woke up in the ICU. I patted my chest and realized they did not cut me open at all. They had knocked me very deeply out and re-scoped me. They found nothing. There was not a clot to be found. I stayed in ICU until I was thrown out for being such a wise ass with my friends. I stayed in the hospital for nine more days because they were sure I was going to pop a clot somewhere. I made friends everywhere and I actually was allowed to walk around the hospital as there was nothing wrong with me. I never found that nurse from that night  and I was on the same floor.

I had no one to take care of me and my dogs and if I had had the surgery, the chances were not good that I would have been ok afterwards. They diagnosed is a hereditary disease called Factor 5 Leiden. Since then, I have been able to help my family become aware as my brother has it and one nephew. My father died from it and his mother had it.

To my midnight visitor: I just want you to know how grateful I am for your love for me and your miracle healing. I never said thank you. I was blessed as anyone could be. Thank you.

(I went looking for an image to use for this blog and found the one I posted…. It took my breath away when I found it in a Google search for Raphael which I did after I wrote this blog….wow)

Lessons learned from Fury’s storm

shrew

Today I learned a valuable lesson. It had been coming for a while. I am going to share some of it because I am pretty sure this is what I am supposed to do. The day started off quiet and peaceful. I had an appointment at 10 am which I was looking forward to. My husband was asleep. I was quietly going through the 485 emails that had piled up during the week.

I also check on the weekends to see how my bank accounts look. I got into Joe’s just fine but I could not get into mine. The system wanted to verify it was me with a phone call. I did not want to wake up Joe so I said I would check later. I thought it was very strange and had me a bit upset. Yesterday, I came went to use my computer and the screen was blank…not black, blank.  It had crashed and I thought holy smokes, but I got it up after a complete reboot. It has never done that before.  So when the bank thing happened, I was already on alert.

Joe got up and was sitting on his computer as I was getting ready to go make my call. He stops me and announces that his credit score was ***.  I stopped to look over his shoulder and said how did he know that? He said he had filled out something on-line…..My heart stopped completely. I said, “WHAT? Did you give them a social security number?”  He said yes. The next thing I knew I was screaming at him all sorts of things. I do not even remember what I said but it was horrible and vile. I was spitting I was so angry. I had just gone through something with him about giving out information, especially social security numbers and I had screamed then. This was so out of control that I did not even know who I was. I do not think it was possible to have that much anger and hatred bottled up. Of course I had gone to panic mode with my inability to get into my account and I thought maybe  someone had hacked my accounts.  The panic and fury was so overpowering. And yet, it was also intoxicating.  I cannot explain that right now.

The lesson learned was not to protect my accounts. They are, hence the phone call. I have other safety measures in place. My computer had gone out for whatever reason and it wiped out my cookies. So that was the need for verification.

No, the lesson is what happened to me physically. The anger came from within, deep like a fissure erupting. Once it was flowing, it was impossible to stop it. I am not sure that the anger was at all about what had just transpired. Maybe it was more for all that has transpired for a while. I hold on to things and stuff them down. I then take a plunger and shove it in further. “ Nice girls do not get mad.” I heard that voice and I kept quiet. Years of repression from being a nice girl are within and need to spew. I have anger for so many transgressions and hurt and downright physical abuse. I have the right to be angry. May be my timing is not so good…..ya think?  The lesson is that I need to temper the reaction to the right cause. I maybe need to let off steam, but I need a better medium.  But having said all that, it was only part of the lesson. The other part is what all that bottled up anger did to me and what I did to myself when I released it. Fortunately I did make my call and it helped me get calm pretty fast. My peaks and valleys are still deep but not as wide.  I had a wonderful call and then went and sat outside with the dogs for a while.  I realized I was frozen and it was too late. I was all crunched up and my gut reeling and my head hurt, which are all my reactions when I am in a freeze. I was still very sensitive and easily angered still. We went shopping and I calmed. Then this is the lesson and one I will try to keep in my forethought so maybe I will not get so frigging angry.  Because when I calmed down, the inflammation set in and I was almost unable to walk. The lava pain surged through my body. I was in so much discomfort that I felt sick to my stomach. I am way out on taking my shot, I was two weeks over due. Long story why I did not take it. The issue today was from being so tightly wound that when I released it was like snapping a rubber band. Take your hands and tighten them up into a fist. Try to hold that for a so long as a minute and then release it. There is relief but also residual pain. This is what it feels like but it in many places like my main joints and not so main joints. It is because I had flooded my system with so much cortisol that the reaction was inevitable as much as any steroid withdrawal can be.

So lesson learned. Cool it or else. That has to be my motto until I get a better handle on the sympathetic system. My amygdala is like a nuclear reactor that is so very close to a melt down because it is firing too hot. I do not have normal reaction when I get angry or afterwards. I hope I can do this. Understanding all this really helps and I think moving forward that this type of therapeutic work must include training the client/patient to understand what is going on with them physically. There is freedom in understanding, if not helpful to move on.

I did feel bad for being so vile and so I did something. It was huge for me to do. I trusted my husband and try to explain to him the last year and half and what I have been learning. I am not sure if he got it or if he just felt better for not being the total cause. Maybe both. If you read this and think, what is the big deal? The big deal is because I had to trust him enough to share this part of me which is so very personal. It made me incredibly vulnerable to someone, someone very close and…. Well others who had the same role in my life would have used this as an exposed belly and chewed me up at the first chance. We will see if this information will make any difference. I did not tell him to acquit myself of guilt for being so angry either. I did it because I can no longer get so angry and I asked him to think about his actions.  This is a big test.  If you care for someone and they have lung cancer, you do not offer them a cigarette. I did not tell him about my past as that does not matter in this relationship at all. I just explained how I am and how I got there is not important anymore.  He said he was grateful for me telling him so much and he said it made a lot of sense. But …will it change anything. We will see. This is a very big step for me. Today seemed to have a lot of major things happen and I admit I am exhausted.

Winter views

In an attempt to change my attitude, we decided to head out and have breakfast at our favorite place and then go to the lake. The water was calling me. I need actually a River fix, but we can only go to the source of the River, Lake Ontario. We live about 12 miles from the southern shore. The weather was not bad yet, but they were calling for Lake effect snow today. I am glad we did go out earlier because this is about four hours later and sure enough, as I write this it is snowing steadily. winter lake view This is looking out over the lake and a private beach area. We like to come down here in the summer and walk the pier.pier in winter        This is the bay outlet which is only partially frozen.   There were swans and duck swimming in the icy water.   swan on winter water

The bleakness and frosty wind was not conducive to taking pictures. We come down here a lot in the summer to enjoy the sunsets. You cannot really see the pier that extends out into the lake. It is fun to stand on the bridge which they remove in the summer to allow the outlet to be open and watch all the boats go out into either the lake or the bay.

The rest of the day will be spent working on a course I am taking or sitting in our new chairs. The boys beat me to it.

new chairs               asleep in chair

 

Away in the Manger…

This time of year is beautiful in its traditions. For me, it is a time that I cherish the good memories of my childhood, which are few and far between. But there is one memory that is a skill given to me by my Mom. She was an artist and when she decorated the house she did a beautiful job. She did not work until her late fifties and had domestic help right up until I was about two, so she had time to devote to her home decorating. She passed the skill on to my brother whose homes have been in Better Homes and Gardens. My homes, not so much. They lean more to comfort than fashionably decorated, but have always had an abundance of plants and flowers inside as well as outside. I too decorate my house for the holidays as much as time will allow me to.
My mom liked to paint and draw. But her gift was to take natural things like flowers and greenery and make them into art. She loved gardening and that was also something she passed on to me and my sister. But her greatest gift was to bring nature into the house and use it for adornment. Christmas was an excuse to step things up a notch. She so loved the art of flower arrangement that she was a leader in awards in her Flower Club and became a district judge which was a coveted role. My sister and I both participated in Junior Garden Club. One year my sister did something with a fish bowl and goldfish as part of her entry in a competition. The fish died before the judging and my sister gave up. She was not very good anyways and I do not think she enjoyed it. I did. I won a couple of awards including the top Junior Achievement Award at a State competition. We moved out of the District and my Mom had to go to work and so the garden club circuit ended by the time I was 13.
The Christmas memory I treasure is putting up the Crèche or manger with all the little statues. I have the one that has been in the family my whole life. I am guessing that it has to be at least 75 years old. It has been through a lot. I have touched it up and I am very protective of it. I remember the years my Mom asked me and me alone to help her with putting it up. Each figurine is packed in a ton of tissue. There are the three wise men and a camel, a shepherd and sheep, various barn animals and of course the family including a not so baby Jesus who lies in a wooden feeding trough. But the figures I cherish the most are the angels. There were three. One is on one knee in pink, there is a blue standing one and then there was a young little one in blue.
The little angel was my favorite. Since I was taller than my Mom by the time I was ten, I got to put her in her special spot on the top of the wooden structure that represented the barn. She was my favorite and always the last to be put in the scene just before baby Jesus. But as I was typing this story, it hit me why also she was so special. My Mom said that this particular angel represented me. It was younger than the other figurines and she was not thin like the other angels who are very slender.  But she was the protector of the Crèche and the family. I never got it when she said it so many years ago. But it was the role I was in my family. I was the caregiver for both of my parents until they passed and my sister for years. I still am keeper of all the family heirlooms and photographs. I am the protector of all that was my family and sacred and special. Believe me, there is not much.
Every year, the mantle would be covered in greenery, lights, candles and beads. The design was never the same. I can remember one year she took dried materials and spray painted them gold to look like huge medallions that went on either side of the mantle up to the ceiling. They were spectacular. The whole display was a fire hazard as they were devoted fire watchers and had one going quite frequently. There were always poinsettia lights in the display. There were red lights with silk flowers on them that look liked poinsettias. This was back in the sixty’s and not a common thing. Fortunately, they are more common now as I have had to replace them a couple of times.
I do not sleep well this time of year. It has plagued me most of my life. I have horrible dreams and sleep in fits and for short duration. I can remember leaving my bed and coming down the stairs to sit by the dying embers of a fire in the fireplace and just looking at the mantle. As I was older, I would often pray for the peace the figurines would seem to have. Christmas has never been about the presents for me. It is about the beauty of the lights and decorating and the peace and serenity of a silent night.
I do not spend as much time as my Mom did doing my displays. But I enjoy doing it every year as I feel the rare connection I had with my mom. The first year I live alone after my divorce, I covered my new house with silk flowers and greenery and a small tree with pink lights. Matter of fact, the decorations were most pink, which is my favorite color. It was stunning and very Victorian in its theme. I hate to take everything down at the end of the season, which I stretch out as long as I can. The Manger is the first to go up and the first to come down as I do not want it to get dirty and dusty. I started a tradition of my own which is to write down my wishes for the New Year and put it in the bottom of the box. I give thanks and tuck it in with the tissue. Last year’s prayer was not answered at all as I wished for Bishop to remain healthy and for Joe to enjoy his work. Bishop passed a month ago and my husband was let go from his position. However, Bishop did not suffer and my husband likes substitute teacher better. I can look at it that there was some resolve.
As for the littlest angel, she was smashed one year when my cats decided to pull the velvet drape I had them arranged on off the table. I did not have a fireplace at the time and they did not understand sacred space. I was devastated and held on to the pieces of her for years. I could not fix her, which is also very telling. She remained in an empty film container tucked in the box. It was the year after my Mom died, also very telling. I remained the caregiver for about 13 more years for my father and sister. The broken angel is now somewhere in all the other Christmas stuff in the closet downstairs. I do not pull all the hundreds of ornaments out anymore to put up on the tree. It is too small. There is so much Christmas stuff now since I have my Mom’s, My Aunt’s and my own collections. I am hoping that my nephew will someday accept some of the older more special decorations and the coveted Crèche. I am hoping he will pass the tradition on to his children. But it will always be my Mom I will see and remember. His children never met their Great Gram.
The display is never the same. I have not finished decorating for this year, so here are some from last year.

bright mantlemantle 2012

 Angels

 

Lessons from my dogs

I have to apologize if I seem to be absent from posting and commenting. My WordPress account is messed up. I cannot do things I could before such as read blogs without shutting my IE down. I go to comment on blogs and it won’t let me. Hopefully this will post ok.

What I have learned from my dogs.

These are my new doggies. We have had them now for about three weeks. They are wonderful.  Browny is the son of Cookie and it is not hard to guess by there names who is who. Little Ms. Cookie is a little loaf of bread on legs. But she is anything but mild manner. She is alpha to her son. But she is Daddy’s little girl.cookie 11-13   Browny is more attached to me but they both are very smart and loving. These pups have gone through rescue three times and for the life of me I cannot figure out why. They have not had a vet check yet, but I would never return a dog for having a health issue. Most of my dogs have come to me when no one else wanted them, a couple of them with some serious health issues that cleared up. This is Browny who is a tad hyper at times, but is still under the age of two and shows it. Borwnie in the window They have taught me so much. Browny is very in tuned with me and knows when to jump into my arms and love me up. He was the more scared of the two and now is much braver. they both demonstrate fear with loud noises, sudden movement and shrink if they think they are going to get hit. His favorite thing is to lean on me in bed and flip on his back for belly rubs. But when he looks into my eyes, I see such trust. I need to learn to trust like he does. He has had a lot of adversity in his short life and yet, he knows what safe is. I am still learning that. Feeling safe and having trust are both very difficult for me.

I love coming home from work, tired and frazzled and letting these guys out to explode into the yard. They barely touch the ground as they push and shove each other like horses let out of the gate at the races. They fly around the yard in wild abandonment and glee. This is their method of discharging their tension.

rough time finding a place to call home. I think it was because they were waiting for me and my family. I miss Bishop, and still see him in the shadows. I know he would approve of them loving me. He would have loved to have someone to paly with like this when he was younger. My Toots, who was his first sibling did not know what play was. Bishop had a best friend, Rusty, who would go to the park with him or come over to play. When we got Bubbi, they would run like these guys do. These little guys have taught me life moves on whether your ready or not. And you make of it what you can. Excellent canine lessons. The guys are forever home and in our hearts.

Miss CMr.B