My name is Elvira and I’m an alcoholic.

My name is Elvira and I’m an alcoholic.

(My ego, Elvira)

I got sober at the age of 25. That means for over half of my life, I have not touched a drink. There is much discussion of ego among my sober friends and I.  And somewhere in the last year, I decided to give my ego a name. Elvira seemed fitting. For one, she has the big boobs I wanted when the breast cancer afforded that option 18 years ago. That didn’t go the way I intended, but the cancer did go, so I really can’t complain.  

This morning in the shower, when I was talking to God about writing, the suggestion was made that I introduce Elvira here and speak using her voice. So, here she is!

Elvira: Well THIS is interesting. For all of the times I have screamed for attention, today, Lucinda decides to give me the floor.  

Lucinda: You know, Elvira, you really can be a brat! I have the best of intentions for things like learning to have delayed gratification when it comes to shopping or dating and you just sit in your big chair over there staring at me, shouting bad advice like “Ah go on, spend the money. You can’t take it with you.” Like you have nothing better to do. 

Elvira: Well I DON’T have anything better to do. 

Lucinda: Actually, that’s not entirely true. Did you know that by definition of the word ego, you are a person’s sense of self-esteem or self-importance? The difference in you, Elvira, is that you want to be all important and it just doesn’t work like that. Another definition of you sees you as the part of the mind that mediates between the conscious and the unconscious and is responsible for reality testing and a sense of personal identity. So, I think we should work together. And I want you to understand that I am the alpha in this relationship. Capiche?

Elvira: I’m listening…

Lucinda: Elvira, you and I have one simple job to do. And that is to love.   That is pretty simple. But it is not easy.  Now the first thing you think of when I say that is boys. Romantic love. That is only part of it. That is just a heart’s desire we share. But the love I am talking about here is a universal thing. It is our purpose in the short time we have left here. 

 Clearly, you have trust issues. And you seem to have a God complex and a want to be in charge of me. Well, you are not the boss of me, girlfriend. You are not. I surrender my will to God on a daily basis with the intention of being of service to the best of my ability each day with whatever I do, whoever I talk to, however I spend my time, money and energy. But you get so impatient with God’s plan for us. Why?

Elvira: Well, I have known much disappointment in life with you. And I just want to have some fun for the time we have left here. What is so bad about that?

Lucinda: Nothing. Nothing at all, but when you try and bend things to go your way rather than allowing them to go the way God has planned, you end up creating your own misery and that spills onto me. I know, for example, that you and I have heart’s desire to grow old with and love another in a romantic partnership.

But your lack of trust and fear of being alone with and getting to know me kept us in a marriage that was not happy for anyone for most of 24 years and since that time that same lack of trust in God’s plan and fear of being alone kept us both in relationships where we were settling for less. Don’t get me wrong, we learned lessons from all of these, but we stayed longer than necessary in a couple of them and across the board, there was a pain in the endings that could have been avoided altogether had you and I joined forces years ago and learned together to trust that God would take care of us and taken the time to know each other then as we do now.

Elvira: Yeah, well, I didn’t see much evidence of that care of God growing up with you. I mean, where was God when your mom left us alone all the time?

Lucinda: I get it Elvira. It looks like we were alone. And it felt that way to me, too. But it turned out that we were safe. Right? Nothing happened that I can recall anyway. So here is the deal. Let’s look at facts over feelings. The feelings we shared were those of neglect, lack of love and abandonment. And maybe there was some truth in that. But our mom always came home and in her absence, something kept us safe. Do you see my point here?

Elvira: I am beginning to, yeah.

Lucinda: I think everything that did or didn’t happen to us so far in this life that may have caused pain was a well learned lesson, sometimes more than once that we can now, moving forward for whatever time we are still here, avoid re-learning if you will just work with me here and be a little more patient and trusting.

Elivra: That sounds easy, but when it is Sunday afternoon, and we are alone AGAIN in this pandemic isolation that has droned on for five months, aching for companionship, I just want to talk to boys.

Lucinda: Look, Elvira, you are preaching to the choir. But let’s “play the tape” as they say. Let’s say we meet someone online who is nice enough and let’s say we agree to have coffee and let’s say you make me forget that there is a pandemic because you can be pretty persuasive and we get up close and personal when we have no way of knowing short of a test that is not 100% reliable as to whether they or we have this virus, is it worth the risk?

I know this is a marathon. A waiting game. To see when the coast is clear. So why don’t we just indulge each other until things are safer. We can make nice dinners for each other like we would for a special someone. We can watch great movies. We can play great music. We can make happy art. We can call people who might be lonely. We can share LIVE video of the beach with people who are landlocked. We can write with the hopes of inspiring others who are in the same boat with this pandemic fatigue. Basically, we can give to each other and share with others and when I say until the coast is clear, hell, we have the Emerald Coast of the Gulf of Mexico 5 minutes away where we can go every day at a safe distance from others to get filled up on God’s beauty and the gifts of the Universe. We can love from a safe distance and get filled up in return.

This will all change, Elvira. I don’t know how. I don’t know when. But I do know it will change. We will go to restaurants again. We will hug our friends again. We will go to the movies again. We will have parties again. But until that is a prudent thing to do, let’s just accept what is, take it a day at a time, and make the best of it. 

Elvira: Ok, but I am gonna need a dog, cake and cookies and ice cream. And I mean the good stuff from scratch, and Ben and Jerry’s and Haagen Daz, not that other store brand crap.

Lucinda: Fair enough, Elvira, fair enough.

Let’s Hear It!-A Surefire Way To Beat The Pandemic No Touch System

Let’s Hear It!-A Surefire Way To Beat The Pandemic No Touch System

I am starving for affection.  I live alone. And I am sad that prudent measures of healthy living in the midst of a pandemic include not touching others. So I looked it up and the definition of starve is “suffering or death caused by a lack.” I don’t feel like I am dying, but a hug or two sure would be nice.

As I write this I have done some research and learned that there is a thing called Touch starvation. It even has an alias. Skin hunger.  

“When you touch the skin,” explains Tiffany Field of the Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami, “it stimulates pressure sensors under the skin that send messages to the vagus [a nerve in the brain.] As vagal activity increases, the nervous system slows down, heart rate and blood pressure decrease, and your brain waves show relaxation. Levels of stress hormones such as cortisol are also decreased.” Touch also releases oxytocin, the hormone released during sex and childbirth to bond us together. In other words, human touch is biologically good for you. Being touched makes humans feel calmer, happier, and more sane.

Without touch, humans deteriorate physically and emotionally. “We know from the literature that lack of touch produces very negative consequences for our wellbeing,” says Alberto Gallace, a neuroscientist at the University of Milano-Bicocca. He explains that humans are inherently social creatures; studies have shown that depriving monkeys of physical contact leads to adverse health outcomes. Our brains and nervous systems are designed to make touch a pleasant experience, he says. “Nature designed this sensory modality to increase our feelings of wellbeing in social environments. It’s only present in social animals that need to be together to optimize their chances of survival.”

For four months now, I have missed being able to show my affection for my friends. I have felt like the loneliness in this time has been exacerbated by not being able to touch those friends that I do see while practicing social distancing. I am humbling myself to admit that too because this world has become so big on autonomy and technology that I think the need for physical contact has been dismissed and devalued. 

I am in a couple of support groups where hugging hello and goodbye is common practice. And this is especially good for people like me, who don’t get physical touch at home.  Since March of this year, these groups have, for the most part, taken to the online rooms of ZOOM, where we get to see those we love, but the touch needs met by the hugs hello and goodbye are gone for now and into the foreseeable future. And I miss it terribly. 

One of my most affectionate groups of friends are those that I spend all day Thursdays and half day on Saturday with at a place called Stuff Dreams Are Made Of in Jenks, Oklahoma. In this modest craftsmen house, full of vintage everything from postcards to buttons to trinkets to marbles and toys, we gather to make art. A different theme suggested each week. Some weeks a scribble is the starting point. Others a mandala of mixed media finds or doll making. But really, we gather to make connections. The art is merely a by product. 

And our practice there for the year and a half I have attended religiously to grow my soul with the use of paint and found objects in the company of like minded travellers is to welcome each person as they arrive with hugs all around. Everyone gets up from their button sorting, doll making, painting or gluing to literally get in line and welcome fellow creatives into the room. And we all do the same whenever someone gets up to leave the house. “Hugs!” Linda exclaims, upon each arrival and departure. And we all follow suit, as she is like our Pied Piper of Passion.

When the pandemic rolled in, we had to take a break from gathering at Stuff Dreams Are Made Of. A month to honor the mayor’s “Shelter In Place” order. Stuff Dreams Are Made of was forced into slumber.

From mid March to June, I went through withdrawals. Gone was my reason to load up my art supplies on Wednesday night for the 15 minute drive across town to this magical place where my friends and I would gather to create art, eat, pray, love, laugh and tell stories. 

Gradually, we started back up getting together to make art. A couple of times in the interim, I would sneak over to meet Linda over a social distanced Happy Meal in the driveway, the chosen faire of every Thursday when business was as usual. We all suffered through chemical soaked apple slices and skinny dry burgers just to get to  the toys that have been proven to be the stuff whimsical art can be made of.  And meeting her helped. It gave me a reason to leave the house with the payoff of seeing my friend.

(Happy Meal Art)

The Stuff Dreams Are Made Of woke up from its long springtime nap on the first Thursday of June, opening its doors to a social distanced small group of masked creative zealots. And I was first in line. 

It was strange at first. I felt socially atrophied. So when I found myself back in the social setting with these people, I found myself talking rapid fire for the first five minutes, saying practically everything I might say over an entire day. It was like the dam had burst and I had Post Lockdown Tourettes. 

But the lack of physical contact for all of these weeks, that was something else to adjust to. And while we are back at our art making, we can only see smiles in our eyes as the rest of our expressions are blunted by a piece of fabric that acts like a barrier blocking good things and bad. 

After a few Thursdays of not being able to hug hello and goodbye, I had had enough.

About a week ago, when I walked through the doors right after the door opened at 9am on Thursday, so happy to see my good friend and proprietor of Stuff Dreams Are Made Of, Linda, I looked at her, and I clapped. “I am clapping my hug to you!” I said and she grinned her big kid grin and joined me. I slapped myself silly from hand to hand as an energy came from it that surprised me with relief.   There was something tactile in that touch, even if it was just one of my own hands slapping the other. Two senses were sated as I could hear the smacking of skin on skin and I felt some real satisfaction. Some touch need met. 

(Let’s here it for Linda, Janie, Pamala, Emilie and Abby!)

So as the others began to arrive, one at a time, we welcomed them in with applause, explaining as they looked at us funny, “We are hugging you with applause!” And they reciprocated. This went viral in a good way as each person came and went throughout the day of arting as a group.

(This is the Stuff Dreams Are Made Of)

This may seem silly, but if you think about the world we are finding ourselves in, where human touch comes with a potentially high risk until further notice, why not get creative? For those of you who live alone and are used to the hugs from fellow travellers, who are choosing to be careful when it comes to physical touch, I dare you. Try this! And if I am right, let me know what you experience. 

In the wise words of Herbert Spencer, 19th century english philosopher, biologist, anthropologist, and sociologist:

“There is a principle which is bar against all information, which is proof against all arguments and which cannot fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance-that principle is contempt prior to investigation.”

Let’s start a new virus. One that won’t need a vaccine.

Things are looking up. Because I am.

Things are looking up. Because I am.

(My viewpoint)

I decided this morning that I would start looking up again. Literally. Because when I do, I see things that I normally would miss. The heart shaped clouds after coming up from a shelter. Where we went to be safe while a tornado passed over. 

And while grey days may seem, well, grey, this one is not. Because I looked up. I was sitting on my porch. In my rocker. Writing my three pages that I do each day. And as the pandemic crept into my mind and my words, I stopped. Got up and went outside to finish. Intentional actions to have nature and the outdoors serve as my backdrop. 

When I go to the beach, I watch God turn on the lights in the morning. So while I am not there yet, the sun is here. And so is the morning. So, I looked for what was up. There in the sky. In the treetops. And I listened. For what I could hear. All of this centering me. Making me right-sized. And while there was no constant of waves crashing into the shore or seagulls and sandpipers running nervously to entertain me, or periwinkle blue with a soft moon hanging up there,  there were plenty of things to see. To draw my attention up. Away from the arrogance of my weight of the world attitude. 

(February 2020-Miramar Beach, Florida)

As I began to write about the heaviness I have felt from sheltering in place for most of four months, I stopped. Because writing about it was making me FEEL heavy. Instead, I chose to look and to listen. And what a show it was.

In the top of a tree I guess to be 40 feet tall, I saw this vertical branch. Naked from leaves. But on top, there sat a bird. And I thought to myself, “I want to be that bird!” What a view I would have. And I could fly. How cool would THAT be! Just then, another bird hopped on the pole at the top of that tree. About a foot below the top bird, this one standing up sideways. That is amazing. That a bird can stand up with its feet on a tree branch that is straight up and down and that bird can be sideways. Like that is normal. Which for the bird it is. Well that bird was not happy with its place on the pole. And it hopped to the top. Again as if that was just normal. To let the top bird know that he was going to give up the throne at the top of the totem. Now it’s a video game. ANGRY BIRDS. They both fly away.

Directly below on the ground is a bunny rabbit. My yard and my neighborhood a Wonderland of bunnies. Like a habitat. My back yard hosts bunny hop parties on a regular basis. Pretending to be frogs as they literally hop over each other. Sometimes my back yard looks like a Jiffy Pop party of bunnies hopping all over!

As I listened, I could hear trucks and cars. Whirring and rushing on the highway nearby. Then the birds broke out in a chorus. Morning doves on bass. Squeekers and squawkers. In my yard the loudest but the next block birds sang back up. With the melody of the breeze blowing through the leaves of all of the trees.

With all of this entertainment, I pondered with a greater perspective this weight of the world that I choose to bear. Why is THIS so hard? The world has born the weight of disease and pandemic, of social injustice of anger and hate and fear for centuries now. So what is the difference? And then it dawned on me. The difference is that what I could numbley observe on the even news as the tragedies of wildfires flames filled the screen, or the wars in afghanistan were shown on the screen, I could just turn that all off. Why? Because I saw that as not MY world. And while it always was, I chose not to see that. THIS time I recognize that what is happening today-the pandemic, the political division, the civil unrest just happens to be in my backyard. Not the one with the bunny hop, but the one that I think about. Because it’s on my turf. In my city. In my country. And that is where the arrogance comes in. That now I can justify claiming that I feel a heaviness. Because it is happening around me and indirectly some of it to me. 

So what is my point? Quite simply it is this. The one thing that is constant as I look up for what I can see, is the world keeps on turning. The birds keep on flying. The wind keeps on blowing. And the sun keeps coming up. So I have decided that I will relinquish my heaviness. To the thing or the being that made all of this. Whoever or what ever did and does this is WAY BETTER at managing the world than I could ever be. And while I can play a part in affecting change in this world, I cannot do so if I think for a minute that part of that task comes by carrying the burdens.

I heard it put this way. There is faith. And there is trust. When I go to the circus and I look up to the high wire, I see the man pushing the wheelbarrow. He has done it a hundred times. And I have faith he will get across. But when I think about getting in the wheelbarrow, it becomes about trust. So just for today, I will trust. And just enjoy the ride, looking up as I go. And I must say that this attitude as it is not even noon yet, hasd lightened my load. And the view from the wheelbarrow in the high wire is breathtaking.

Turning 6 Right-Birthday, Pandemic Style

Turning 6 Right-Birthday, Pandemic Style

2020, The Year of Perfect Vision

“This shit is hard.” Words spoken by a friend who went to Harvard to describe living life on life’s terms. Wiser words could not be more true than at this 100 plus day mark of living through a pandemic. 

But that is not what this story is about. If anything, it is more about the cure. At least metaphorically. And for me, part of the cure for my prudent isolation is found in daily walks. In my modest neighborhood. I love seeing the different houses. It is not a cookie cutter neck of the woods. Rather, many modest mid century homes, about 1200 square feet, mine with original hardwood floors and based on the 12 or so remaining prongs, a dishwasher of the same era. 

(My Happy House)

In THIS neighborhood, no one has an electric garage door to foster the ability to slip into your home, without knowing or engaging with your neighbors on the street.

So one day, about a month or a year or 5000 weeks ago, in the spring, I was winding my way home from a mile or so walk when I heard the sound of a bird. It appeared to be coming from a house on my street. Imagine a house that squawks like a crow, and that is what I heard. I slowed to see a figure in the window, obscured by a screen to reveal a child. I guessed to be about 6 or 11. It was hard to tell. The child had longish brown hair, but I could not discern girl or boy. 

(Sloan’s house.)

A few days later, I saw that the child was a little girl as I rounded the bend from a walk to find her in the front yard with her father. I got excited. As her dad and I chatted, discovering that we were both writers and painters, she marched into the conversation, hell bent on being heard. This one is tenacious and very bright. I had her pegged at nine or so. Wrong. She was just five years old. And this precociously charming child had done just that. Charmed me. And for the record, the definition of precocious, (adjective. unusually advanced or mature in development, especially mental development: a precocious child. prematurely developed, as the mind, faculties, etc.,) is a compliment and perfect description of my experience of the five year old adult human being in the works who goes by the name of Sloan Gallagher.

On our next meeting, I had a delivery. I was thrilled to present her with some of my prized loon feathers that I had found and collected on the beach in Florida  as I spent my February there. “Did you know that there is a bird who has polka dotted feathers?” I began my cocky spiel about this fascinating fact. I had placed a few in a ziplock bag and at a safe social distance, laid them at her feet in her yard. Sloan picked up the bag, and with a flat affect that did not miss a beat, looked me straight in the eye and said emphatically, “I like seagulls.” The fact that she was not a bit reluctant to speak her truth was so refreshing to me. This person had not had a drop of the “What can I say to make you feel good about what I don’t like when I say it” koolaid. “So noted.” My reply with a smile of pure endearment that stretched across my face. 

The next delivery was more sea bird feathers. The ones with no spots. They were Sloan’s favorite. I am still smiling to think of this child’s bold honesty. My ego was busted that my polka dot story did not impress. But my spirit, which has been a little low with this isolation was elevated to new highs. 

A few more weeks passed. I deliver little bags of this and that. Feathers, paints, shells, canvas and paint. She painted this beautiful picture with what I had given her. Giving me more than she could know to see her joy and exuberance as she too lives in isolation. 

(Beauty)

One day, I stopped to say hi, and as I am talking to her dad I learn that this little human is about to have a birthday. Number six. Which is really just a technicality as I see it. This one has a very old soul. I see her channeling Scout from “To Kill A Mockingbird.” And innocent wisdom and love for ALL things and people. I love the irony that the day she was talking to that bird it could well have been a mockingbird. She was indeed one.   

In the middle of June, I stopped to say hi. Chatted with Sloan’s dad as I learn Sloan is about to have a birthday. On June 25th, Sloan was gonna be six! As she clamors her way into our conversation, I ask her what she wants for her birthday. “My dad is getting me a remote control car.” At this point, her dad goes into the house. In his absence she says, “So if you want to leave anything here for me on my birthday you can.” I am beaming. Inside and out. Again at her boldness. “Ask and you shall receive” is a verse she has down pat. Good for her. “Well I won’t make any promises, but what else do you want for your birthday?” My rhetorical question as my inner Santa has been channelled, already planning and plotting on how I could make her day better knowing there would be no birthday party. Since that innocent ritual celebration has been postponed until further notice, I knew I HAD to do SOMETHING. “I’d like a remote control plane.” “Okay. We shall see.” My parting words as I walk two doors down to my house with the bright pink door which I could not open fast enough to tell my daughter of my plan. My daughter worked for a time at a hobby store with the specialty of remote control everything. She had had remote control Jeeps and drones of her own, so I knew she was the one to ask. “We can get her a drone.  Something where replacement parts would be cheap. It would be a good way for her to learn.” She was infected with my enthusiasm as she spoke her words. So the order was placed for the perfect drone for a perfectly delightful young woman who I wanted to see happy on her birthday.

So at 6:00 am, just after my normal wake up time on June 25th, 2020, the sixth birthday of the future and the hope of America, I snuck down the street. With her parent’s permission, I set up a surprise in her yard. Her favorite colors were pink and purple, so I took purple and white crepe paper and wrapped the porch rails to make an “x.” From there, I ran streamers to a big box in the yard. Full of pink and purple paints, Strong Girl themed Happy Meal toys, a brown plastic dollhouse hutch with windows and doors that open, a blue and white dollhouse armoir that opened up also, a red dollhouse fireplace,  seashells and glue sticks and shells and all of the rest of my seagull feathers-all with the suggestion to “make believe’ and “make art.”  And in front of the box was my once prized color print of The Butterfly Alphabet.” A photo array of actual images taken in over 25 countries over 25 years by Kjell B. Sandved. A photographer with a beautiful eye that saw 26 letters of the alphabet and the numbers 0 thru 9 in these breathtaking images, all represented on this framed poster.

When I came home from all day making art at “Stuff Dreams Are Made Of,” I was met with a visit from Sloan and her dad. She was ELATED at what she found when she woke up a year older. “I loved what I got. Thank you!” Her words as she and her dad handed me a tupperware container with homemade chocolate ice cream. I had signed the note I left her “Love Lucinda and Abby” so Sloan could not wait to hand me two gift bags. “This one is for you. This one is for Abby.” I told her Abby was gone as I invited her and her dad to stay for a moment. “Make sure you give that to Abby.” She insisted as I placed it on the porch. All in our masks as if that were normal, we hung out for a beautiful moment. Sloan had the cutest mask. Kid sized with camouflage dinosaurs on it. “I like your mask!” “I like yours too!” Her six year old telling my six year old as she sees my puppy dog face on the mask that I wear because I could not stand for people to not see me smile. “I like your eyes.” As we comiserated over how cool it was that the dog’s face was placed just so to make the wearer’s eyes be in just the right spot to look like a dog person hybrid. I opened my bag to find one of the shells I had given her on a red string that was in the box I had given her, three popsicle sticks, two bobby pins, three different buttons, a purple fuzzy ball with one googly eye,  a small styrofoam ball and the direction to make some art with these things. (Mission accepted. I will post my work here later.)

AS I talked to her dad, who was kind enough to stand there with the sun in his face so that we could visit, Sloan began to pluck long leftover lilly leaves from my garden. “I like your grass.” She said, as she stood there with a fistfull of 18 inch blades. “I want some more.” She interjects in a hushed voice into the conversation. “Help yourself.” I say back as she plucks to her heart’s content. And boy was MY heart content. “I like to put grass in a vase.” She said as her dad and I giggled. 

What they did not know was that I was having an emotional day. While I was in my happy place making art, I was beginning to feel the grief over the fact that my daughter and I would soon be parted. By 800 miles. A distance that has never been more than a twenty minute drive. At age 22, she is moving out of my house where I have enjoyed her for most of a year and into her adulthood. Living on her own for the first time. And I am moving too. To Florida, The place where they have the most amazing seagull feathers. And those boring polka dot ones. I had a good cry about that. Not the feathers, but about leaving my daughter. Necessary tears to honor the loss of what has been, tempered with the hopes of what is to come in our relationship in the future. “Visit a lot.” Sloan said, as they started their 2 minute walk home. Knowing that is not likely, I told her we could meet in a Zoom room, a tool we have both used during our #covidvacations. Hers for education. Mine for human connection and fellowship.

I will look forward to this possibility. To bear witness to the bringing up of this special human, who gives me much hope for the future of us all.

(Two 6 year old friends. I am 60, but the 0 is silent.)
Pandemic Pie and Offspring Gratitude

Pandemic Pie and Offspring Gratitude

I am setting a timer for five minutes. Then, I am going to write as much as I can of things I am grateful for.

Annnnd GO.

I am grateful for the time with my daughter since March 1st as I get ready to move 800 plus miles away from her. 

I am grateful for seagulls, sandpipers, white sand, blue water, green water, drinking water, food, shelter, clothing, 

Keys, prayers, mediation, friends, family, my pink rug, my turquoise table, my happy meal toys, art, whimsical brains, colorful ideas, words, letters, 

This, you, me, legs, arms, faith, fear, pain, growth, grief, joy, grace, salt, pepper, hello fresh, cake, cookies, 

The dog that is coming, the love that is coming, the friends that are waiting, 

My car, my health, my breath, my yard, 

The rabbits, my eyes, seeing color, my art, my sense of humor, your sense of humor, 

You reading this, me writing this, 

The sun, the moon, the stars, the sky , clouds, rain, dark, light, full spectrum lamps, 

Paint, medicine, vitamins, zoom, blue books, 

Writing, music, theatre, 

Pauses, 

Coffee, spaghetti,

Chocolate, chocolate, chocolate, 

Seeing color, tasting flavor, feeling love, feeling warmth, suntans, flip flops, beaches, towels, umbrellas, cameras, pictures, photographs, 

Education, growth, compassion, empathy, openness, teachability, 

Listening, speaking, laughing, crying, 

Deepak, Oprah,

you, 

Shoes, Kate Spade.

The timer just stopped.  But I am not going to. Because there is so much more. I am so glad that all I have to do is this moment. Right now. Until all of the moments add up to one day. This day. And this day is a beautiful one. Because I woke up. Still breathing. That’s a win. 

(My Kate Spade Shoes)

It’s pandemic season. And I find it like living a marathon. I am choosing to be with me for the most part. Only seeing a few people in person and at that, with a distance between us of six feet, or, according to the screen saver at the Home Depot checkout counter, six pies. 

I saw this yesterday when I went in to get packing supplies. On one side of the screen is a universal sign for “person.” Like on bathroom doors. On the other, the same image wearing the orange Home Depot apron. Between them a horizontal line with arrows on each end. Above that line, the words “six feet.” Below the line, “six pies.”  I am wondering. Do people have to be 12 inch pie eaters to work at Home Depot? 

(This wasn’t it, but I like it.)

Mine are more like 10 inch pies, so I will keep a seven pie distance from you. And then when you go, I will eat the pies. But I like cake right now. So how about a seven cake distance? Yes. Three yellow birthday cakes with chocolate cream cheese buttercream frosting alternating with four simple chocolate cakes with cream cheese ganache frosting. The recipes from scratch coming from Bon Appetit and my kitchen. 

I have learned to like cooking since March 2020. And over ninety plus days, I have added three food groups. Cookies, cake and Hello Fresh. 

I choose to not go to restaurants. I think I have had less than a dozen delivery or pick up meals in all of these weeks. Instead, I have slowed the the pace and enjoyed dinner. At the table. With my daughter. What a gift. Delicious. And the food is good too. Hello Fresh. Delivering to our door every Tuesday. A box filled with Hall of Fame recipes. All of the ingredients. No waste. Exact amounts. And colorful simple recipe cards with simple instructions. Just wash the produce, cut or slice or zest or dice. Bake or boil no trouble or toil. My daughter and I have taken turns with preparing the meals and cleaning up after.

Prior to this pandemic, I was not a fan of cooking. I have had anorexia in my history. Buying groceries, keeping them in my house, planning a menu, getting the ingredients-all have been great stressors in my past. Exhausting mentally. 

But now, thanks to the pandemic state in which I reside, I have upped my game. Not just assembling food groups like a chore. With the same chicken legs and rice and tuna and salad. I did the bare minimum to nourish before and while my body’s needs were met, I was missing out on so much in my soul. 

The Zen of thinly slicing scallions. Separating the white from the green. Zesting bright yellow lemon. Patting dry chicken like a mom who dries her baby’s butt. There is a nurture in meal prep. And while this may not be news to you, for me it has been a daily headline. Of Color. And texture and flavor. 

Crispy Parmesan Chicken
with Garlic Herb Couscous & Lemony Roasted Carrots

That has fed my body. My soul. And my spirit. Not just by preparing. Or cleaning up. Both of which have been gifts to be grateful for as doing the task forced being in the moment . Not just for the delicious tastes that met on a plate. Orange carrots roasted with olive oil and salt and pepper, topped off with the zest of a lemon and some of its juice. No wait. There’s more! Next to this vegetable was couscous. Who knew? I didn’t! This gooey, slippery bland on its own food that looks like tapioca in the pan could take on such flavor from garlic and butter and scallions and salt. But wait. There’s more! Next to that, what was once a sad saggy breast, naked with not even skin, transformed by salt, pepper, sour cream, pancho bread crumbs, fresh shredded parmesean and smoky paprika into a lightly crusted juicy delight. 

The best part of the meal?

The face across the table. 

That I have gotten to see for so many dinners. 

Because of the pandemic. 

My silver lining dinner date. 

Abby.

(Me and my daughter, Abby.)
This Is The Stuff Dreams Are Made Of

This Is The Stuff Dreams Are Made Of

(IT’S THURSDAY!)

Stuff Dreams Are Made Of is both a shop and a place to create. Just off the charming street of Main in Jenks, Oklahoma, home to antique malls and small town folks businesses is where you will find it. From the outside, it’s just a modest craftsman bungalow. Plain and simple. Bookend boxwoods under matching porch rails topped with identical pillars. 

But don’t judge this book by its cover.  Once you cross the threshold, you forget everything behind you. At least I did. 

There is so much for the eye to see.  Kind of a curiosity shoppe. Two big tables welcome 8 or 9 people with a space to create. Bins and bowls and tables filled with finds from generations past-old marbles, postcards, teacups, valentines, matchbooks, dolls, letters, buttons, dollhouse furniture, old tins, sequins, wooden boxes of every shape and size, vintage toys, shadow boxes, old keys, vintage jewelry, fabric, ribbon, yarn, paper, canvas, glue, paint- all in a miraculous sense of order throughout the three rooms and butler pantry downstairs, as well as the munchkin height room at the end of the stairs that run straight up the middle of the house.

The walls are covered too. Mostly mixed media masterpieces created during open hours, but also some previously created art work just begging for a repurposing. 

And that, for me, is the draw. Mixed media art. To take an existing canvas. There are many to choose from. Some for $2, some donated for free. Then, breathe new life into it, using any material that floats your boat. 

My favorite is this collage I made using Vogue Magazine images and other found objects. The original painting underneath I am sure has a story. It was a general with three stars on his uniform. I left that exposed because I am a giver of stars. That is a story for another time.

I started going to Stuff Dreams Are Made Of over a year ago. To create. I am religious about it. Because making art is healing. For my soul and brain. Every Thursday and sometimes on Saturday. 

And I had company. Always Linda. She is the shopkeeper.  And giver. And helper. And sharer. And listener. And knower. And seeker. And teacher. And (only by request) opinion giver. And creator extraordinaire.  And my good friend. Anywhere from three to six people might come and go during open hours. Regulars. Emilie would show up with her quick wit and beautiful heart. Pamala with her unique talents and contributions. Heather with her smile from ear to ear. Lisa with her quiet wit. Mary with an entire craft room in tow. Janie with her brilliant mind.  Ann with her ladybugs and great giggle. Lauree with the laugh of the century. Elaine with her sense of humor. Shawna with her impeccable spirit. Dwight with his quiet gifts. Paul with his attention to detail and great taste in flowers and women. 

I was there every Thursday. All day. Nothing could keep me away. Not heartbreak, insomnia or even chronic pain. I was and am fully committed to the creative process. Every Thursday.  

Lunchtime is a ritual of Happy Meals and “Your Holiness” prayers. 

I have over a dozen toys proudly displayed around my home. And it’s true. They make me happy. 

(Linda and I picking up Happy Meals.)

I continued into my second year until the doors closed temporarily due to pandemic. Even then, Linda could not be stopped. To encourage continued creating, there is a Giving Tree outside the shop. Offering goody bags with things to make art with every Thursday for curious passers by encouraged by the sign on top to “TAKE ONE.”

(The Giving Tree)

Linda would offer a suggestion for what people might do while there. Things like:

Dollmaking, Mixed Media Mandalas, 365 Days Of Thankfulness Jars,

Start with a: Rock, Dragonfly,Triangle, Heart, Scribble,Rock, Game Board

Making An Altar To Love.

I rarely did the theme of the day. I always had more than one idea of what I wanted to create. And Linda allowed it. No rules, except for the ones we learned in Kindergarten to clean up our messes. She tolerated me. I sprawled out over three people’s spaces the minute I walked in most days. Linda lovingly had me corral all my stuff.

I healed from a lot through creating in this house. With these women. And a couple of men. While the mood for the most part is light to honor the time for creating, (politics and religion are checked at the door) when someone around the table has a hardship, it is lessened around the tables of Stuff Dreams Are Made Of. It was just a by-product that beautiful art was created in the process as grief was shared and lessened and lessons were shared and learned. 

I think I can understand how those women who gathered for quilting bees felt. What an incredible exchange can be made among people who are smack dab in the middle of creating. The brain goes to a relaxed place and healing happens. And art is the by product.

Also much laughter. There were times when a tiny plastic banana became a phone which was passed around for each willing party to have a chat with whoever was on the other end. When the phone was passed to me, the voice on the other end was hostile and uppity. With an Italian accent.   I think it was a zucchini that called on the banana phone, but I will never know. There is no way to trace the call.

On Halloween, I got married to Frankenstein by a grieving woman.

I will say farewell to Stuff Dreams Are Made Of in the coming weeks. And I will miss the laughter. And the tears. And the celebrations. And the Happy Meals. And the incredible supply of objects to make into art. And the 10 cent trinkets in the old hard case suitcase in the front room. I had to elbow my way between Emilie and Pamala on several occasions to get in on the new additions before they got nabbed.

The one thing I won’t miss is Thursdays. Because wherever I am, Thursday will be there too. And I will continue my commitment. To make the world a brighter place, if only on my living room wall. By being fully committed. To the Stuff Dreams Are Made Of.

Thank you Linda. For your vision. Your heart. Your generous spirit. You have taught me much more than just how to become a better artist. You have led by example and shown me how to become a better person. And a better friend. Thank you for that. I love you very much. 

And so it is,

Amen.

(Linda Reynolds, Owner, Stuff Dreams Are Made Of -323 W. “A” Street, Jenks, OK, USA.)
Joy, Party Of One

Joy, Party Of One

Since this is the only day I get, today I decided to choose Joy. All day. And I’ll be damned if that has not been what the day has been filled with ever since. 

It started with me waking up, thinking about staying in bed after going to bed, struggling to fall asleep, vibrating from the news of the day. Then realizing I actually had things to look forward to, so I got up.

I went into my routine. Writing three pages, reading devotionals, meditating with Deepak for 26 minutes. (He comes to my living room every morning. For free!)

When writing, I was identifying various feelings like excitement, sadness, fear and joy.

Excited because I get to move from landlock status in Oklahoma to Emerald Coast Gulf of Mexico status in Destin Florida a month ahead of my original September 1 escape plan.

Sad that this means I will have one less month in the same house with my favorite person on the planet, my daughter.

Fear. The usual suspects. Money, having enough, not having enough. Making friends, not dying from Covid or the next beer truck I don’t see when I’m crossing the street. Same shit. Different day. Blah, blah, blah. Exactly that. I write the same list of fears as if it is part of my diet. And I am sick. Of that!

So using my year of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy fact checking, I realize:

I have a lot

  • Going for me. 
  • To be grateful for. 
  • Of friends. 
  • Of talent that can be monetized.

Which brings me to the topic of THIS day. One in a series of which all I get is this days, and I choose. JOY.

That doesn’t mean I won’t feel other things. 

I am feeling a lot in the department of growing pains because I am doing a lot to grow in many areas, so I am good with that.

What it DOES mean, however, is that my focus as of 9am became this. “The JOY that is God guides me NOW.” Today. All day. This is my mantra. 

And here is my report so far. 

9 am. Decision to choose Joy begins after declaring it to about 30 witnesses.

9:30am. Went to dentist to get a crown. They didn’t give me the one I asked for, the one with the sapphire in the middle that I was gonna wear on my head, but oh well. And while I was there, I had a blast. Because I was focused on Joy. Each engagement from the front office to the dental assistant to the doctor, who has been filling the holes in my head for over thirty years was a total gas. Minus the gas. 

We laughed and talked about Florida and dating sites and cooking and kids and jewelry and parenting. I left fully sated. Social outing number 1.

Next stop, alterations for my daughter’s work pants. And once again, being focused in joy, the encounter was joyful. The woman who owned the shop and I (me through my cute mask with the puppy smile painted on it so that when I put it on I look like a happy dog person hybrid because I hate not being able to show my smile in public) had a delightful exchange. About pants and hems and daughters and enjoying our conversation right while we were having it. She even said that the last person she had in her shop and she had the same conversation. About how much these little exchanges of routine errands are now mid pandemic social treasures!

Now to get the eggs. I have put this off, so puppy mask on I go to the grocery store! Get the eggs, look at the humans. Not unlike an eager puppy wanting to lick their faces and get petted, but that would have been weird. And socially inappropriate. Instead, I gathered eggs, hair and nail vitamins and shower apples.

And this is what I told the sweet lady who at self checkout with the boring blue mask, reduced the cost from organic shower apples at $500 a pound to the rightful insecticided shower apples price of $1.29 a pound.

“What is a shower apple?” She said. “I’m glad you asked. A shower apple is one of the many dining experiences that happen in my shower when my daughter is using it. I know, because I harvest shower apple cores during my showers on a regular basis.”

Time for lunch. And a delightful phone call with a fellow creative who dismisses her gifts a bit and me giving her an on the spot pep rally in her ear about life. 

Then, a phone call. Money coming to me for work that comes easy to me. So much joy!

Now for more joy! I filled out my application for my next home to be. A lovely apartment with a fountain view just off a Florida bay. One with the desired natural light in the form of a wall of windows in my living room, a window in the adjacent patio wall as well as another window on the next wall above the dining space! If you know me, you know I am solar powered and that my current picture window is something that I will be leaving behind. So yay for new windows and more joy!

Next up, a conversation with a beautiful young woman. One riddled with the Universe playing pranks on us. In a good way. We were reading something written decades ago, but the relevance on the page was talking about world events just like those we are having today. We laughed at the irony as the book we were reading is one that the Universe uses to prank many people all over the world.

Then, I met with my shrink. She has been providing care for me for over two years. With a clinic that has met my needs since 2013. This includes ten stays in the psych ward. But that was not all. They could only go back to 2011. And that was not my first psych ward rodeo. That story, in its entirety, will be told later.

For thirty years, I have been under the care of a doctor for what has been at times a very cruel brain chemistry. And in that time I have become something of a mental health care connoisseur. Also, an unofficial psych ward concierge. During my last hospital stay in 2018, and I do mean LAST, the staff there knew me and my history. They had participated in saving my life and getting me back to functioning many times. One day, a young woman in her thirties came in for her first, and I suspect only psych ward stay. When she arrived, the nurses asked me to “show her around.” So I did. I told her, “You’re going to do great here.” Words she chose to have tattooed on her chest and the last time I saw her a few months ago, she was doing great. Engaged, building a home and successfully running her creative business.

Today was a pivotal moment in that I will only meet with my doctor one more time. Before she goes on with her career in the state of Texas and I move on with my life to the state of Florida. 

As a teaching hospital, they would assign me to a resident psychiatrist for a one year period during which they provide me with medication management and in this case psychotherapy. And along the way, there was always an attending physician to oversee the training. This offered me some degree of continuity, which was helpful considering one of the residents I got to see for a year once laid her head across her arm on the desk during our session. Kind of like a little kid who is too tired to hold their head up. I’m hoping she chose pediatrics.

But in my case with this resident, I had the privilege of being in her care for over two years, as I was quite ill when she came on the scene. My marriage of 24 years had come to an abrupt end and I got very sick in the throws of my grief.

During the two plus years, using a combination of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and medication, she helped me get well. And let me tell you, the before and after pictures, if there were any would have had you questioning if the person in the before was the me you see today. 

Today, I got to thank her and the attending, who I was just going to joke with when he came in at the end of the session. I do say to my friends that I suspect they feel good about their jobs as they have seen me go from 7 medications to 2 and being unable to leave my home or feel anything at all to the livewire contributing member of my life that I am today getting ready to start a new life at the beach.

But what happened instead was a flood of emotion. Gratitude. For these doctors and this clinic and hospital that has been at the center of my mental health care inpatient and outpatient for the last seven years. I was moved to tears and the attending even said he needed Kleenex when I finished telling them how grateful I was for the care they had given me. 

So, yeah. I’m gonna dare to say, that now at 7pm, I have successfully had a day filled with joy. And I still get to hang out with my daughter.

As for my mantra. “The JOY that is God guides me NOW?” 

It was and is my truth. AS long as I choose it. Every step of the way.

Blursday, Meptember 58th, 2020

Blursday, Meptember 58th, 2020

I went to meet a friend last week for coffee. We have known each other for five years.We are close. And we have been separated by hundreds of miles since November. 

“Let’s meet at the same Starbuck’s where we first met five years ago.” She said. 

“Great. We can sit outside. I look forward to it!”

When I pulled into the parking lot, I saw her there. In her truck. Waiting for me. And it got different. What would have once been two friends getting out of their cars and hugging each other tights while this one screams or yells or makes something of a scene for the joy at seeing my friend, that is not what happened. 

In Tulsa, Oklahoma where I live, our mayor had us shelter in place for the month of April. 

Then, on May 1st, we were open for business.

In less than two months, the death toll from COVID19 worldwide has gone from 50K to 371K. In the US, from 6K  to 106K.

Those are daunting numbers from where I sit.

Now there is a practice called “social distancing.” Kind of an oxymoron. Or a mixed message. Definitely a shitty thing to experience as a social creature.
I love people. I am a people person. And while I say I have acclimated here to the experience of not being social in person, I do really miss. People. 

Our coffee date got complicated really quick. She had a mask on. I had a mask on. Mine is the face of a smiling dog, which I got after hating the experience of having my smile covered up at the grocery store. The plan was to sit outside at Starbuck’s for coffee. But the weather was wet and all of the outdoor tables were stacked up. Not an option. 

Now, before we have even begun to have our reunion, one that was meant to be coffee and then a walk together to catch up, we were facing potentially life and death decisions, just to think whether to go inside for a coffee. 

I am not yet comfortable with the idea of being inside a restaurant where there might be some human incubators having coffee so instead, we decide to go to a nearby neighborhood to go for a walk. 

And when we went for our walk, that too, was different. We were constantly being mindful of keeping our recommended six foot distance so that spit from laughter wouldn’t try to make one of us sick. Walking on opposite sides of the neighborhood street. When people would pass by with their dogs or partners, everyone spread out, as if one of us smelled REALLY BAD. 

I love my friend. But I don’t love the situation we are still in with respect to health safety and the fact that the prudent measures to preserve that include keeping those we love at six foot long arms length. 

My arms are tired of it. And so is my heart. But I know that I am powerless over it. It is what it is, that phrase that annoys the shit out of me, applies. 

And while I am truly grateful for the things I have been able to do during this time, this part feels like punishment. And no one did anything wrong.

I am nervous about the future. This is going to take a while. And I can be tempted to join others who are close in proximity, out to dinner, gathering for coffee. 

A few days ago, I went to the park with less than ten friends. This is the most social interaction I have had since February. We sat six feet or more apart. Some wore masks. There was one who chose to sit right next to another. They do not share the same home. I felt like I was watching reckless behavior. At first, I was angry. And judgmental. The anger came from fear. I was also jealous.

I want to touch my friends. And I want to be touched. I am lucky to live with my daughter who I get to touch. I used to meet with large groups of friends on a regular basis. We would crowd the room of a Sunday School class, thirty or forty of us. Lining the walls in little kid chairs. All sharing experience, strength and hope with each other. Laughing. Crying. I am fortunate that I still get to meet with these people either by phone or on ZOOM meetings with video. But it is not the same. 

At the park with the small group, I left that gathering high. I was stimulated by the human engagement, albeit at six plus feet apart. We were in the same space. Three dimensional. I could hear everyone’s responses as people shared one at a time. In the ZOOM meeting setting, there is no way to look around a room when someone bares their soul to see the compassion on the faces of those who are listening. To feel that sense that is only possible in person. A body gathered. In the flesh. That is spiritual. And I miss it terribly. 

Tonight, I sat down to watch a movie. I had a wonderful productive day. A ZOOM meeting at one end, a conference call in the middle. And a gorgeous sunny day around all of that. A couple of calls with friends. Packed a little for my upcoming move to Florida. Hung out with my daughter who lives with me until she went fishing. I made a nice dinner of shrimp and zucchini with garlic butter pasta and baked chocolate chip cookies with a date with me and my couch and a movie to look forward to.

And once I sat down to watch the movie, what I got was not that sigh of relief or satisfaction after a productive day. Instead, I felt ill at ease. Because I am alone. And tired of that. It is not that I don’t like my company. I have been better alone with me in recent months than I have been in many years. It is just that there is so much of that with this pandemic. It is the fact that the option to have a friend over or to go be with a friend has risks to consider. 

I fear that it will wear on me. Like water on a rock. And that I will put myself in a vulnerable place health wise to join those who are laughing along the restaurant cafes in my neighborhood. So at least, I thought if I write it all down, maybe by sharing with you, I won’t be alone. And I can get on with my movie.

In case you are wondering, it is “St. Vincent” with Bill Murray and Melissa McCarthy. A feel good comedy that I have seen and selected as part of my delightful day. And I do feel better. So thanks for listening.

Gifted

Gifted

May 31, 2020 The Year Of Perfect Vision

I write three pages every morning, 99% of the time. Along with that, I have a dedicated time for prayer and meditation from which I get up and go into my day. Lately, I have noticed that those are the best two hours of some of my days. 

So I decided today in writing those three pages to try something different. Because lately, I have had some dis ease in my days after those two yummy spiritual and safe hours parked in the corner of my gray couch looking out my picture window. 

This morning, I wrote to my God. Starting a conversation. I like to think talking to my God is a prayer. One that my God is always at the ready for. In fact, I am almost certain that for my entire life, my God has been waiting eagerly for me to engage. In a relationship. 

So, if I apply the things I do in my human relationships, the ones that I nurture with time and conversation and listening, I thought to myself, “Why don’t I have an ongoing conversation with my God today, starting with these three morning pages?” 

I strive to live my life in 24 hour increments. I believe that those things we call days were set up to have a beginning and an end with rest as a key part, in order to survive some of the events that take place in that 24 hour period in the world we live in. My God is clever that way. Setting up a finite timeframe in which to live my life. 

I say “my” God, because I don’t want to suggest that there is only one God. I mean, there may be. Or maybe there is not. I do not know. But for me, I choose to say my God so as to not confuse my belief system with some that are associated with the word God where people have been harmed in that setting. I respect ALL beliefs of whatever a person chooses to pray to, worship, believe in, surrender to. Also, it really is not my business to judge anyone because I don’t know much. 

“So God, what do you want from me today?” I opened it up right away. Requesting marching orders. Opening myself up for an assignment. Which I got. I went on. “Please show me as I go. I really want you there. I know that you have always been there. The times I did not feel your presence, were the times that I was shutting you out. I am sorry God. Forgive me. And thanks because I know that you do.

You are so kind and generous too. I have noticed this. I also see that you are not pushy. And man, are you ever patient. Sitting there. Open to my call. And if you are in a place called Heaven and there is a Phyllis Bunn there with you, the one who hosted me for 9 months before I launched into the world, I am quite sure you have sore ribs. From her elbow. Digging into them.” “Ok God, my kid is there and she is not looking to you. She is living in her head again. Maybe you could use that Facebook thingamajiggy and put one of those memories in her face. You know, the ones where she WAS talking to you and reading from books that made her mindful of you and then she shared them on the Facebooks!’” I am pretty sure that if there is a Heaven and a God that lives there, that God is taking naps because of my mom. Constantly nagging for her kids on earth to get in touch. Be cared for. Things that she failed at through most of her life as a mother.

In my conversation, I found myself expressing my gratitude. It just came out that way. It was not even my intent, yet. “God, thank you. I know that all those time when I was afraid, you really were there. When I had breast cancer, you saved me. Twice.

The first time when you spoke to my gut that while I had a garden variety breast tumor, I needed to seek treatment 1400 miles from home. In Costa Mesa, California. And that because of that, when I returned home to do the recommended chemotherapy and that doctor greeted me with the news that my cancer had returned, was incurable, that I could be made comfortable for two years. And you dropped the mic God when she went on to say that the chemotherapy medication she had planned to give me was the one mentioned in the only bit of scientific fact I remembered from the frightening journey through cancer that the drug she was recommending did ABSOLUTELY NOTHING in those tests to kill those cancer cells.

So thanks, God, for saving me twice, as I listened to your inner nudging from my place in a ball on the floor of the lobby of St. John’s Hospital in Tulsa, OK. There on the phone, that doctor who took the tumor out an left it somewhere in a dumpster in Orange County said “I have no confidence in what that doctor is telling you, “ followed up by a whole week in California, scanning every inch of me, only to find that there was no cancer recurrence.

You saved me God from the malpractice that could have killed me.”  I need to remember these things, even though writing them down brings some strong feelings of remembering the terror I felt at that time 17 years ago.

“So God, I have noticed that when I go into my days lately, that I feel less in touch with what you want for me. I strive to do what is my purpose, but the connection to you just gets so remote, like the farther away from my morning time, the farther away you become. And I see that it is me who allows that distance to come in. So I am happy for the anxious thoughts that have plagued me here lately. Over my future. Short term and long. Because it is a direct signal to me that I need to be in better contact with you. And talking to you via writing is a great way for me to do that. So thanks. For the gift of the awareness that when things become difficult, there are actions I can take to change that and that you are all over it. Whenever I simply reach out.” Just writing this is centering for me. 

I am amused at the fact that the things I worry about are just my perspective. And that worry is a choice. But more than that, today I decided that worry is more than a choice. Worry is an insult to my God and all that has been done for me to date. It is dismissive of the many times I have lived when I should have died or killed someone else for my choices and actions. I drove drunk many times. More than I can remember because most of the time that I chose to drink, I would black out and do things that I did not remember until the horrible recounting of those who were with me at those times.

For that, I could have been a felon. Killing someone with a moving vehicle. Or killing myself. 

If I look at my life from the perspective of how many times I could have died, I would be a cat to the infinity power. Way more than nine lives have been gifted to me.  These are just four. In my book they each count for way more than one lifetime.

  1. Sober from the disease of alcoholism
  2.  Recovered from the disease of Anorexia
  3. Cured of the disease of breast cancer
  4. Healed of the chronic desire to kill myself on multiple occasions over half of my life.

I have been accepted! Into the gifted program. Yup. Me! 

Gifted with life. Repeatedly. When I was ready to throw it away. Gifted with a creativity that is a direct connection to my soul. Through writing, painting, making people laugh. Making people feel valued. Inspiring others to tell their truth by sharing mine.

Gifted with time.

Gifted with energy.

Gifted with a voice.

Gifted with money.

Gifts not to be squandered but to be spent wisely. So just for this day, I will do that. And with that, I am going to stop for now. Because I get to go outside in the beautiful sunshine. And breathe because I can. And walk because my legs work. And straighten my house. Because I have been gifted with shelter. And fold my laundry. Because I have been gifted with clothing. And cook my daughter dinner. Because I have been gifted with her and a kitchen that has electricity and appliances and food in it. 

And tonight, I get to bake cookies. Because at my house, after 90 days of social distancing during a pandemic, cake and cookies are now a food group. And these cookies, I will get to share. With someone I love. Who does not live here, but who is alive and who I have a relationship with today that I never thought I would.

One last thing. I challenge you. As you read this. If you are feeling hopeless, look for one thing in your day. To be grateful for. Even if it is just that you can’t find something to be grateful for. Be grateful for that. Because I can promise you that if you just keep breathing and showing up, that can change. For the better. And that hope can be a part of your life.

Also, I love you.

Lucinda

Teach Your Parents Well-Lessons learned from my offspring

Teach Your Parents Well-Lessons learned from my offspring

May 30, 2020 The Year of Perfect Vision

The older I get, the less I know. And that works for me. Because that gives God something to work with. Teachable gray matter.

And I get some of my greatest lessons from young people. You know, the ones who get a bad rap. The millennials. I try to be mindful of the lesson teachers. Meaning, I never know who my messenger from God is. It might be the person with the foil lining their stocking cap. God uses everyone.

And last night, God used a 22 year old. Who was born at 40 on the wisdom scale, which makes her 62. While science says her brain won’t be fully cooked for three more years, her soul is intact since before her physical day one.

We talked about George Floyd. And the police. And the world. And our society. And I got schooled. Because I sit in my little box, judging from my one tiny perspective the big blue marble that we all live on. And that is one limited, finite view. If I thought there was a right and wrong to how to look at things, I would miss so much. And I have done that. Set in my ways at more than twice her age, I think I have wisdom. And while that may be true, I don’t corner the market on that.

The conversation started with enthusiasm. Excitement. Sharing of beliefs and ideas. Probing questions and answers exchanged between us. It was exhilarating for me. But the more we discussed what is happening in the world from two views, the more frustrated we each became from our seats. And what began as an energized exchange, was quickly drained of all power by the facts of the contents.

I make it a habit not to watch the news. My reason has been that the things that I see, like Charlottesville or the politics of our day leave me quite literally sick. So up until March, when there began a pandemic, I stayed happily ignorant. Justifying this by saying, “I just need to take cover when they sound the tornado sirens. I’m good.” And left it at that. But I’m not good. And I can’t leave it at anything. Anymore. Because me sitting here ignorant of the world around me is irresponsible. 

While I spent my evening after our conversation writing, I found myself happening on a Facebook LIVE video. At first, I scoffed. “Just another talking head. Bleeding out loud about the world events.” Also, she was a person of color. And while I like to think I am not prejudiced, I was raised byu a racist from the depression era and while I am not proud to admit it, I have not completed the unlearning process of that white bread childhood. 

Shame on me. I hadn’t even heard a word. I made that judgment just by looking at the face of the young woman who had over 200,000 views on this video and honestly, that was the reason I stayed. And listened. I thought if that many people were listening and watching what she had to say, it might be good to see what that draw was. I shared her video on Facebook because what she said disturbed me. Her caption read, “I’m scared. And you should be too.”

What I heard was a well articulated fear for the safety of her children and her own safety and the humiliation she had suffered while trying to take care of and make feel safe those who were sworn to keep her safe. She said it better. And she said something about Atlanta that told me she lived there.

What I did not realize, because remember, I don’t watch the news because it makes me sick was that there were riots going on in her back yard and that she was literally fearing for her life and the lives of her children.

So I got over my bullshit and I watched the news. And while I can sit back at a distance from my little box and see the whole world stage from the safety of my white bread living room, not everyone has that privilege. And more to the point, I cannot sit here worried what people will think of me if I express my true feelings about what I see in the world today and claim to be a person who gives their life daily to the service of my fellow human. 

So here is what I see. A planet. With lots of water and land. And people. And on my neck of the woods, there is an echelon. Of people. With the ones at the top, looking down on the rest. Like the suites at a sporting venue or the racetrack. Protected, well fed, with fancy suites. While most of the rest of the people are in the cheap seats. 

And these are the people who do the work so that the ones in the suites can have the money from the work of the backs of the people who do the work to afford the suites. 

And the people in the suites like it when the people in the cheap seats. Fight. And suffer. Because then maybe none of them will look up to notice that the ones in the suites are having a party. And I would say the party was on the people who work’s dime. But it’s much more than that.

In our conversation, I was schooled to the fact that there are school teachers who do their noble work, only to have to go to work at Home Depot at night, missing their family to do so, in order to just survive. Just as I write this, I am getting the same frustration as I had when we talked last night. I need to keep my head out of the sand. And stay informed. And above all, I will ask God, what can I do to affect change? Truly. Because I have taken for granted the freedoms I have had. The ones my father fought for in World War II. The one I have that when I drive my car if I get pulled over, I can be free to get my wallet out of my purse without fearing that the officer might think that because of the color of my skin, I might be drawing a weapon and shoot me. The freedom to live in a country where those who were slaves and built so much of this country are still slaves. To fear. And that is wrong. 

I listened to the other view last night. Two actually. The one in person I treasure. And am so grateful I stayed open. Before we talked, I was judging the riots I had heard about in Minnesota. “That’s not going to help. People are going to get hurt.” Really Lucinda? People are getting more than hurt. People are getting murdered. Wake the fuck up. What I heard from both of the young women was that maybe this is not a riot but a revolution. Perhaps it is necessary for the greater good. 

I don’t know. And that works for me. Because there is a lesson going on here. And it is my duty as a human being to show up for class.