I leave Tulsa soon after nearly 50 years of calling it home. That’s a lot to think about. And in that, I have reflected on the fact that there have been people who have been a great part of my healing here. Mentally, physically, spiritually, financially, creatively.
So it is fitting that I express my gratitude for some of these people. Also, I am struggling not to worry about things getting done with my move and gratitude seems like a good way to be present. And pump myself up for the packing that I am putting off until later today. I figure, if I spend some quality time being grateful out loud, the quantity of the time I do spend packing will be more productive. That, or I am just honing my skills of procrastination and avoidance. I’ll go with the first.
These people listed are part of my God Squad mostly in the last two years. If you are not on this list, it does not mean I am not grateful for your part in my healing. It means I have this brain and that this is what said brain came up with. I am going to list them in alphabetical order and leave off their last names out of respect because for all I know, they may be in witness protection. No one is first. Or last. But they will always have a last-ing place in my heart. They all worked in concert. So here is the song.
Abby, Carolyn, Dewayne, Kristin, Linda, Lorrie, Margie, Marilyn, Sharon and Shelly.
Abby is my 22 year old daughter. I have lived with her this time for several months. She has given me the opportunity to practice living in harmony with someone I love. It has been good for my soul. I have grown as I practice my intent to let her be. Not to advise. Or mom, unless it is requested. It was suggested to me that when she was 18, I had done all the momming. And that anything from then on would be “life consulting.” I add to that, “only if asked.” That has been the key to us growing closer in authentic relationship. And I am grateful for every minute. The meals shared, binge watching “Dead To Me” on Netflix, (CHECK THIS OUT-dark comedy but funny as hell IMHO) The attack of the maggots. That’s enough about that. The laughter. The conflicts. The resolutions. And sitting. Together. In the same room. Just talking. About family history. Hers and mine.
I pray that the bond I feel to her now will stay as we both move on into our respective adulthoods. It will be her first time on her own in the world. And while I have been here a minute, I feel like I am just starting out too. I know I have grown up some more for having been with her. She has an old soul. Wise beyond her years. We clock it at 40 years old upon her birth 22 years ago, so by that calculation, she would be 62 wisdom wise, so that makes her two years older than my time since birth. And at times, wiser.
Favorite part of this experience? All of it, but especially the communication that we were both diligent to practice. That, and the cake that she made. Bon Appetit Simple Chocolate Cake, bringing the pleasure of good things made from scratch back into my life. She was made from scratch too. And what a pleasure to watch her from that moment on. I could not be prouder. I mean I could go on and on here, but I am mindful not to embarrass her. Too much, anyway. I love you Abby. The world is a better place for you being in it.
Next up Carolyn. Carolyn was plunked in my path at the precise moment I needed her. She is one of the wisest and kindest humans I know. We met in a dimly lit room that had big recliners covered in sheets lining both walls. About eight or nine as I recall. The room was long and narrow. At the end of the room was a tv screen showing relaxing videos like aerial views of the water crashing onto some exotic beach somewhere. With palm trees and charming simple beach homes. The sound in the room matched this serenity with soft, meditative music of soothing sounds of instrumentals. We were there for different reasons, yet the same. Healing. In the form of community style acupuncture.
Thankfully Dewayne is next on my alphabetical list, so I will introduce him now. Dewayne is the facilitator at Maplebrook Acupuncture, master of the healing art of acupuncture. And the way he practices offers much to be grateful for. To explain, as he goes from chair to chair, in a low voice that is still audible, you can hear him practicing his art. And talking to the person he is with about their pain that brought them there. Some go for infertility. Others to avoid invasive surgeries. And for me, I was there for physical and mental pain relief. As it turned out, I got spiritual relief too. The perfect storm of hearing the music, seated in comfort, reclining on a remote beach all converged. To cause healing.
Also a part was that when he would talk to people who came in with severe physical pain like MS or migraines or really bad knees or insomnia or anxiety, I got to get grateful. I had my own issues, but some had it worse. This sense of community proved therapeutic in that way. Intentionally designed to hear and learn and be thankful. For what was being given and what was being taken away.
On my first visit, I bop in the door my chatty self. The first person I hear is Carolyn. She is seated in her usual back seat, not a place she spends time in her front seat life. And what a gift she was to me. I can’t remember what she was saying, but I liked her immediately. She asked lots of questions, but she was smart and kind. So, as I quickly picked up I could chat with hushed tones, chat we did. Fast friends. Thanks to the universe. And we became friends.
I don’t see her as I did then, not at all really at this point, but she is with me quite often. When I look at the oval ceramic dish that looks like someone made it at a paint your own pottery class, with these words in lime green “Eat, drink and remarry.” I think she passed it on to me knowing I wish to do so. That, or the fact that she had done so 6 times and decided getting it out of the house could break the cycle. To be fair, her first six were before she was 35. Her number 7 is a keeper of at least that many years now.
In one of our meetings, I shared with her about my life and my spiritual journey. “This book is important.” Her reply as she recommend the book “Your Holiness” by Debbie Ford. And boy, was she right. As someone who doesn’t typically enjoy reading because I struggle to pay attention, this book captured mine form the start.
The author was a sober woman. Something I related to. She passed away from cancer on February 17, 2013. February 17 is the anniversary of the day I got sober at age 25. This gives me chills still today. I don’t believe in coincidence. I do believe in a Higher Power consisting of the Universe, God, sometimes Jesus, groups of fellow seekers-always a spirit inside of myself that all conspired on my behalf to put Carolyn in my path so that I would read this book. It is a text. I refer to it regularly.
The book is full of prayers. The idea being that we all have a holiness. The prayers a way to connect that from our holiness inside to the holiness outside. For someone who doesn’t like to read, I could not put it down. You can tell by the cover that I all but devoured it. It has been a key part of my spiritual growth.
I went through some heartbreak shortly after I got the book. I used it five times a day to pray. Religiously. And I don’t practice religion at this point in my life. The healing was indescribable. So I am grateful for the pain that brought me to Dewayne that introduced me to Carolyn who got me closer to my God.
I have shared one of those prayers here. And I shared them out loud on a regular basis with friends on Thursdays when we took our happy meal lunch break from making art.
If you are a seeker of spiritual growth, I highly recommend this book. And to you Carolyn, thank you. For being love. And Dewayne, thank YOU. For your healing through poking with the deftness of a Faberge Egg painter.
Next up Kristin. A licensed therapist by trade, for me she was a spiritual guide. We would talk at set times, sharing our mutual experiences. With life and our joint interest in living it with integrity and honesty as contributing members to the planet by our works. She listened a lot as I talk a lot, but she also shared her experience and wisdom. And most important, she loved me. Out loud. With her words and her direction. And always her honesty. Thank you Kristin. For taking me this far. I love you.
“YAY! IT’S LINDA!” Except we would usually share this exclaim. “YAY! IT’s THURSDAY!” Because every Thursday, from 9am to 4pm, we would be together with the common goal of creating something beautiful. Art. She created a space for me and others too, although I relish the times when it is just me and her. It is called “Stuff Dreams Are Made Of.” see other blog for my tribute. Here, I will tell you that I have known Linda for over thirty years. And have had the good fortune of being in the room with her on several occasions. Always amazed at her kindness coupled with authentic integrity. As a woman and a friend. I think there have been a couple of times she has taken issue with me. In fact, she would reach out to me on those occasions to resolve her concerns. But the way she did it, was so kind, there were no stings of the truth that was said where I might have caused pain or harm shared in the way that she did it. She could teach a class on kind person 101 and would make this world a better place for anyone who took the class. You know how I feel Linda, but I’m gonna say it anyway. “I LOVE YOU!!!!” And I thank God for making you and putting you in my path. Also, “TOMORROW IS THURSDAY!!!!!!”
Which brings me to Lorrie. Who brought me to a place of courage. I watched her as she led by example as she had lost much, grieving out loud in front of God and everybody. With integrity. And grace. Without self pity. An attractive trait in a world where I have known grief and felt it alone. Largely because we, as a society in my experience, aren’t well practiced in the art of being with someone who is in pain over the necessary losses of our lives. Death, divorce, sickness. It takes courage and time and patience and the willingness to be uncomfortable to sit with someone who is hurting and just Let. Them. Be. I have known losses in all three categories and when Lorrie rode into Tulsa from Texas last fall, she was put in my path by my God. He does that. Puts people on my path.
When we met, I had suffered a loss of a love. One where one day I was told someone loved me and a week later learning that he had a one out of five chance for living. While he did not die, our relationship did. Which is about the time I met Lorrie. And she paid me the greatest compliment. She allowed me my pain. Building my confidence that it would not kill me. Encouraging me to invite God in. To sit with my pain and release it by feeling it. And when I would say, “yeah but what if” to the fact that I was afraid that if I started to feel it, I would tap into a reservoir of so much unhealed pain that I would drown, she would simply calmly point out that God had gotten me through my pain in the past, encouraging me to trust the process.
Never once did Lorrie try to fix it or make it go away. Even when I wanted her to. Paying respect to me and to my necessary healing process from necessary losses. With great humility and surrender she would just encourage me to ask God in. Something she had done right in front of me, which gave her credibility in my book. She has been a spiritual advisor. And for that, I am indeed eternally grateful. Thank you Lorrie. You are a great example of a woman who walks in grace and courage. And I’m happy to pass my daughter on to you as I make my exit. I love you very much.
My Margie is next. Also from Texas, they grow good people there. Margie found me online. Wanted to paint fun furniture. And once her small town skepticism decided I wan’t a murderer, (when we met at a Starbuck’s, she told me later that she wanted to be sure I wasn’t a murderer. I hid the bodies really well.) she and I began working together. On painting happy furniture. Rich with pattern and color. We did that together for a time a few years ago. Then, life happened and we were apart.
But Margie showed back up about a year ago and together, we made some fun, pretty furniture, had lots of laughs, a few tears and one squabble, but on top of all that, she was and is a beautiful example of someone who truly loves God. She does so in a different way than I do, and taught me a thing or to. A solid foundation, I describe her faith like the roots of a big tree. Running deep into the earth, while mine was just beneath the surface. On top of painting, we prayed together. Daily for a time. And that was so rewarding. She is back in Texas now, but she will always be in my heart. I like to call her “My Margie.” And I love you, My Margie. Infinity.
My friend Marilyn was in my life many years ago as a friend around finance. But on a spiritual level. And about two or so years ago, I “happened” to see her going to the same elevator as I was. That planted a seed. So when I was facing money concerns because I was hurting, and my history is one where pain + money = grand disaster, I reached out to her.
I have spent much at my pain and my loss and what was my empty God-shaped hole in the past. So as I entered the true grief after my marriage of 24 years ended, leaving me with money and pain in relatively equal measure, I knew I could be in trouble if I even thought for a second I could walk through THAT healing without pissing away a lot of money if left to my own devices. So while almost in a catatonic state for most of a year, I would meet with Marilyn. She would sit by, having courage to allow me the pain I was walking through. Which was made worse by my brain chemistry in the area of crippling anxiety and depression. But my spirit showed up. In spite of it all. Once a week, as long as she was willing, I would meet with Marilyn. And in the midst of grieving a horrendous end to a not great marriage, not only did I maintain sanity in the bank account, I paid off several thousands of dollars worth of debt. And I truly doubt that without her coaching and company and friendship over lunches where I would just sit there quite ill, I would not have accomplished that feat. So to you, Marilyn, thank you. For showing up for me. When I could barely do so for myself. I love you.
Now for Miss Sharon. I never called her that. But she has earned the title. And many people do call her that. Having endured more than ten people should have to, Sharon shared with me. Her heart, her soul, her wisdom and her truth. A survival of so much that impresses me still for the small part she has entrusted me to know. This woman has pushed a boulder bigger than any rocks I have EVER had in my bag. And yet, she forges ahead. She would say to me, “Just keep it moving.” In response to my hurt feelings or resentments for others after walking me through the way out of them.
We would meet and Sharon would speak wisdom. One time we were at the Village Inn on Harvard in Tulsa. She always said a prayer before we had our times together. And on this occasion, she said her prayer. And the next thing I knew she spoke. But not really. I mean, her mouth opened, but the words coming out, I knew were God talking. Saying to me that I could have whatever I wanted in this life. That is me paraphrasing because my memory can suck. But the message I will never forget. What I heard was God saying “I am here and you are capable of anything in this life. With me in it.”
She made spiritual work fun. In fact, every assignment was tagged by the phrase “have fun with it.” This woman, who others hand picked as a good fit for me when I was in really rough shape, knows how to have fun. And we did. She is also a life coach, which I got for free. She is generous and has much to offer. And she took me a long way into my healing, encouraging me to always be seeking. Spiritually. Words I will never forget. Much like these, when I was complaining about something I can’t even remember. But I know it was important at the time when I called her. “Did you eat today?” Sharon said and I thought, “How nice! She is worried that I am so upset I may have forgotten to eat. “Why yes. I had an avocado and…” Her point was not did I eat, but more to the point that perhaps if I focused on the fact that I had food to eat, I might shift my complaints to become an attitude of gratitude.
Sharon was a huge part of my current great life as it was re-formed at the hands of wiser folks like her. And she is gifted with her skills to reach people who others cannot. I am not an easy case. So for helping me get to the point that you did, Sharon, I say thank you. I will always owe you a debt of gratitude. I love you very much. And I wish you the best as you “keep it moving.”
Then comes Shelly. She is a seer. But I met her for massage therapy. When I saw Dewayne for acupuncture, he suggested massage to enhance my healing. I had a three level fusion in my neck and carried much pain in that area when I arrived. Shelly Valued me from the start. I bartered with her with some furniture I had painted. I said, “will you take the two pieces in exchange for five massages?” “No.” “I will give you twelve. I had undervalued my work at that time. But she did not. thus helping to rebuild my esteem in the process. Let me just say that I have had massages in my life by some really talented people, but Shelly is gifted. She had worked with college athletes, so she knows her anatomy. But the greater gift she has is her “knowing.” I did not have to say to her what was bothering me in what body parts. She could read me. And she did. SO Shelly, I want you to know YOUR value to me. It is not measurable. It is that great. Thank you, my fellow Yankee transplant. For being such a generous friend and amazing masseuse. I love you!
Now that I have said all that, I have managed to run out of packing time for the day. And I have no regrets. And MUCH gratitude.