Saturday, May 14, 2011

There Are Places I Remember....

As my life experiences mount and gather in my head, a theme has occurred to me frequently: There Are Places I Remember…. As we move along in our lives, the memory of certain things, places, and people, stay with us, even if just for a moment every once in a while. Something will remind us: a song, a phrase; I’ve even had memories of past somethings occur to me through fragrances. Such is aroma therapy, I suppose.

The place that has always and continues to stand out for me as my best, happiest place to be is on Missile Drive in Enfield Connecticut. Now, I will share with you that this experience goes back over forty years. What happened was, my family moved from Massachusetts to this new place, in the first of a few subsequent moves to subsequent states. I was ready for this experience, at age 13, because we had moved, to that point, infrequently (be careful what you wish for) and because it was a new adventure, strategically placed, as all moves were, during the summer in between school years. I remember we, as a family, drove to what would be our new town, and checked out various homes available for us to live in. One in particular was a unanimous winner; a small, brown home within a sprawling (or what seemed sprawling to a thirteen year old) residential community.I remember enjoying the feel of the place right away, including the surrounding community, and I remember how cool the push-button light switches seemed to me. This was the first place I would have my own bedroom, as opposed to sharing with my sister. Her room was cute because it had some built-in features, but mine was larger, and it was…Mine! I recall the decision was made for me to stay behind, with my grandmother, for about three weeks while the others moved into this home, so that I could finish exams at the end of that school year. Of course, this didn’t sit well with me for a few reasons, but I did manage to get through those weeks and am alive and reasonably well today.

Just about immediately, other young people my age gathered around the area where my new home was, to introduce their wonderful selves to me. One was George, whose last name I fail to remember now, who was “wicked” cute and lived a few homes down and across the street from mine. One was Skip, last name also forgotten, who was pretty much the neighborhood casanova, also cute but in a different way. He lived across the street on the other side of my new home. Another was David MacDonald. Yes I do remember that whole name; relatively easy. David was a nice guy, always part of this pack of guys, who eventually liked me more than I liked him. Then there was Kate Boucher – she pronounced it Bowcher; not the French version Booshay. Anyway, Kate was an intermittent friend who lived on the next street. My neighbor, Linda, who my folks thought might be a friend for me initially, ended up not being so. She had other friends already established, and was a bit on the snooty side, for some reason. Skip, my friend mentioned above, was completely enamored with her, almost as much as she was with herself. We did ride to school together in her dad’s car, but that was the extent of our interaction. Then there was Laurie Wallace. Laurie and I eventually became best buddies, pretty much inseparable until I moved on. At first, I kept her at a distance, because that’s what the others in the neighborhood did. The only reason for that I can recall is that her family was “different”, having  blended nine children. Some his, some hers, and I believe one or two mutuals. Laurie lived, conveniently, directly across the street from me, had her hair in curlers often, and was in charge of handling the younger children almost as if they were her own.
It had been quite a while since I felt the camaraderie I quickly felt within this group. They welcomed me into their circle easily, we enjoyed conversations, kick ball, planning for whatever our futures might be, going through puberty all at the same time. And there was that eventual, inevitable kiss with Skip. Just once as I recall. A quick one at the swing at some park nearby. Peck ~ and it was over. I was, of course, smitten, and feeling more than pleased that “The” guy seemed to have an interest in me. But, don’t forget, there was Linda.

Today, this place continues to stay with me for the friendships and what feels like so many events packed into the short time we lived there. I remember not having the best school year, socially speaking, but my neighborhood friends, who I could always count on, trumped that situation by far. I can see, in my memory, each of us walking  from our respective homes after school each day, to the place in the center of this “village” where we would automatically find each other and enjoy the afternoon.

We moved from this most favorite of my childhood places, within a year after arriving there. I recall the shock, horror, and complete sadness as my father announced this new move to our family. To New York. I recall, now brace yourselves, blowing kisses to my bedroom, on more than one occasion, as the tears flowed at this upcoming loss for me. I recall trying to figure a way not to go with my family, but found no one willing to adopt me and keep me in Enfield. We called it Thompsonville at the time. I recall the morning we moved, getting into the family car, none of my friends in sight, having said our goodbyes a few days earlier, I suppose. I recall sadly moving away from these cherished friends forever.
Laurie and I remained in letter-writing contact for a few years, as my family moved to New York, and onward to Memphis after my graduation from high school two years later. We did visit Enfield once for maybe a weekend, and I was pleased to find each of my friends there for that short time.

I loved this place on Missile Drive in Enfield Connecticut; more accurately, I loved these friends who made me feel a part of their lives and I loved having them in mine. I recall them with love and with a caring that will likely stay with me, since it has been quite a while now, and I can still conjure up wonderful memories of them and our time together. Thankful, I am, to have known them and to have had this wonderful experience.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

An Understanding.....Happy Mothers' Day

Many of us lament a childhood which was less than we feel it should have been, less than we know we deserved as those young people trying to figure it all out. It is a fact that each of us had a different experience with our parents back then when we looked up at them in awe, for strength, for security and for that unconditional love. My own experience is certainly not what I'd like to share here today, it was less than I deserved, lacking in many ways, it is what helped form the woman I am today.

I have just spoken with my mother. For me, speaking with either parent is a chore. It's true. I admit it. And, this is true for various reasons with each of them. My mother is a kind soul who has been afflicted with an anxiety for life as long as I've known her, and considerably before I was in the picture, as she has shared. We are not alike, we don't have the same values or opinions or thoughts; there has been anger between us and a lack of consideration and that unconditional love. Over the past few years, and as a result of both a physical and emotional distance between us, my mom has shared her own experiences of lack and discomfort and "feeling like a piece of shit" as she wandered her way through childhood. She has shared a story of her dad, a silent, ungiving man who could think of nothing to say to his daughter as he walked with her to a job he found for her. Not one word. Sixty years or more after these incidents, she recalls vividly a transference of his silence into lack within her, judged by her father to be less than because he could not find, did not have any words of conversation, camaraderie for her. She has shared stories of a family who was disjointed, walking on opposite sides of the street from each other for reasons no one knew. This, the result of a crazy woman my mother's brother married at a young age who was allowed to wreak havoc on his family for years and until she died. My mother, at one point in her young life, lived with her aunt and uncle for a time while she recuperated from what I would consider to be a nervous breakdown. She was completely intimidated by the man she married, and lived too many years in distrust and lack of individuality.

It was important for my mother to bring me into these parts of her life. It was important to her that I understand she has remorse that she did not, could not rise to her children's deepest needs, while she continued to push through a life of fear and discomfort and not knowing. And as a result of both parents being human and dealing with life in the best way they knew, they raised two daughters with self-esteem issues and fears, to struggle in adulthood for that "perfect" place as they see it for themselves.

A while ago, a short while ago actually, I came to an important realization; one which allowed me to move out of that fog and to step higher within my own life. I realized that both of these people did the best they could. As cliche as that statement is, and I shudder to use it, it is truth. While they maintained a life of basic comfort for us, each of them, being human, had their own issues, fears, goals, good and bad days. As my mother spoke, I understood she is not an evil person, I know she is a lovely person, actually, who did not wish anyone's pain, but was dealing with her own. Today, she is much the same as back then, with the exception of the sharing. With the exception of the realizing. What a wonderful breakthrough! The start of healing. While my mother and I might never be close in spirit, I can and do appreciate what she has brought to me within these conversations. I empathize with her struggles. I know now, without a doubt, it is and never was, about me or my sister.

I am guilty of less than stellar choices with my own son. No one is immune. No one is perfect. Many of us have thought about the past and wonder what life would be if only we'd done......something else. And the best we can do for ourselves and for those we love is to put those thoughts away. The best we can do is work to find what we need, what we love, and pursue those things with diligence and vigor and passion. As we become those people who are happy in our individual lives, we radiate that happiness and joy outward into the universe, for all to take part. We smile more often, we have an aura of love we share easily.

So to that I say, Happy Mothers' Day to the beautiful women everywhere who have struggled, who have raised children less than perfectly, and who rise above all of that a little every day to become who they want to be.        Cheers to us all.        And Love.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

The Struggle Within

The weekend has arrived! YaY! I, like almost everyone, look forward to these two little, fleeting days away from the 8-5 week day world. YaY! Especially in the warmer climate, it's a treat to enjoy the sunshine, feel the warmth, be leisurely, coffee nearby.

I also struggle with this leisure. I struggle with the voice inside which always tells me I could be, SHOULD BE doing more - something unnamed, out there in the universe, something which doesn't call to me loudly enough for me to hear it. That something I believe I long for.

Today is a perfect example of that angst. Today is a Saturday with a few plans, mostly an unusual occurrence. I also have a few hours before the first event kicks in, and I find myself feeling awkward, guilty, for not having made "more" of these first hours of the day. Shouldn't I go for a walk, or visit that gym I'm paying for and haven't seen in months? Shouldn't I clean the house or at the very least, read something worthwhile? Shouldn't I?! YES!!! The voice screams to me - DO SOMETHING, ANYTHING!! And yet, my deepest, innermost preference is to do what I always do - opt to sit and think and maybe write a bit, and drink coffee and contemplate how long it is until I must move. That is my preference, and if you ask me, that is a flaw in my character. Few, according to me, would settle for this nothingness; few would have this nothing life. But I choose it - every day. And I ask myself why.

I have no idea the reason I feel more comfortable with nothing than with almost anything. It is who I have always been. It is likely my form of hiding, which, for me is as equally comforting as disconcerting. Nothing I have tried in an effort to be more acceptable to myself has greeted me with the love, the passion I desire to be true to whatever "it" is. I continue my search.

And in the meantime, the clock ticks. It ticks away the morning, the day, a life. And the voice haunts me to be someone else; the person I believe I SHOULD be; certainly not the person I am. I's a journey, a voyage, whatever the choice of terminology, and it is true. This desire to be someone else will not likely come to fruition; not in this life. All I can hope for is to come to a point where I understand and honor who I am now, with the ongoing changes, as well as the ongoing challenges. And the beat goes on....

Saturday, February 19, 2011

What About Death?

A 42 year-old father of a nine year old daughter is buried in the precious earth today. A man who was, by all accounts, a successful and loving father, husband, friend. A man dedicated, through active military duty, to his country. A man I knew only briefly and slightly; his wife and I were colleagues and friends some years ago. And now he is, suddenly, inexplicably ...gone from his family, his life. And on this day of clouds and barren trees and coolness in the air, I think about him again. I think of that video which shares with us his surprise for his young daughter at school back in December, when he was just home from Afghanistan. I think of that hug and the, "I missed you so much" in his voice. I remember how proudly he shared photos of her. No, I didn't know Mark well, but I know this is an excruciating and deep loss, and most poignantly for a young girl who enjoyed a closeness with her dad that most of us long for.

Depending on what we believe, we can justify something like this happening, by saying he was a good man so was called to heaven, or maybe his work in this life was done, so he returned to the universe to become ready for the next one. None of us knows, of course, and most of us attempt to justify these horrific events in our minds, make some sense of what has happened, because it makes US feel better. I can't imagine Mark's wife, Cindy and his daughter Samantha standing at his wake, or at his graveside, without my mind screaming, Why? What must their minds be screaming? How many days, years might it take for their lives to be anything close to what they thought they would be? Why do things like this happen?

There are no real answers to these questions. We work around them the best way we know, until we find our comfort in the loss. But it is at times like these, when my world, albeit far removed from Mark's family's, is shaken. The ultimate realization makes me consider my own spirituality and ways to wrap my thoughts, my feelings around this truth, trying to answer the question of why. There are so many facets of what this event will cause; how his wife will move on, what his daughter's life will now be without her dad.

Everything changes. Our peace is individual, and found within our intuitive selves, and it is totally human to mourn for such loss. This brings back to me, the absolute truth that we have only now, this moment. We can plan, hope, and of course, that is what we do within our lives, but ultimately, all we really have is now. And with that, my thoughts, my healing and peaceful energy are sent to Cindy, Samantha and the rest of Mark's family, that they find their comfort in Mark's living and accomplishments, and in the love he shared with them all. Peaceful journey, Mark.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Dear Bonnie...A Letter to My Younger Self

omygod, Honey!! Please don't be afraid to lose, to be wrong, to err. The biggest gift you can give to your young self is to try, to put every fear out there to be tested, because the fear will lose. Try everything that is in your heart and mind. It is not an embarrassment to be wrong; we are all wrong from time to time. The real error is in hiding and in pulling the blanket over your head for comfort, because when you do that, notice the lack of breath, the walls closing in. You are smarter and braver than you imagine. To strive every day, to be the best you, is a gift of the universe, the intention of your soul. Baby steps are ok - just step - step out into the sand, walk the miles with a smile. It is amazing out here and I want you to experience, to flourish, to break through that shell to see it all.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

For 2011...and For Life

I am not a resolution maker person. Not that I don't have areas I'd like to improve upon - as a matter of fact, big ones; I just don't wait until one year passes and another begins to make such decisions. Today, though, it seemed fitting that my next steps were awakened as I read a friend's facebook post asking, "What promises would you make to yourself if you knew you could keep them in 2011?" Simultaneously, I recalled a recent conversation with a friend in which she excitedly shared her plans for a more active career, while my desires include less career and more fun. I realized how opposite our goals are, and how deeply I feel mine.

I am one extremely fortunate woman. In two years I have accomplished much. I moved to a state I love, I live in a community I love, found a great job, and- a plus- I don't hate going in each day! I enjoy excellent health, wonderful pets, a 2001 vehicle which gets me where I need to be. I have a wonderful son and a few close friends. I am at a weight I never thought I'd see, and don't remember being at - ever, and I am happy there.

My next challenge is to be in love...with me. Truly in love with the person I go to sleep with and wake up with every day. Truly in love with what I see in the mirror, what I feel in my heart, even a pass when mistakes are made.

Anyone who has consciously made life-altering changes, as most of us have, understands our reactions, those inner voices, are an ingrained part of our programming, therefore, we don't think about them at all. We simply follow the path as always, without recognition; even when the path doesn't feel exactly right. I am fortunate that I do recognize, and I act. My life has unfolded greatly and wonderfully over the past two years, and I can sense that it is now time for this major challenge, so that I will continue to grow and to realize a life of true happiness. I would love to have more friendships, I would love to feel a deep contentment with my life-whatever I make it to be, and I have been considering the possibility that I might want a partner to share with. All of these "wishes" will be granted, when I know my worth, fall in love with my spirit and soul and simply grin at mistakes, brushing them off as one would a falling leaf from a shoulder.

For me, the process will include catching those inner scoldings and turning them into a softer, kinder voice. To tell myself that I am OK as I am, and the trickier part-to BELIEVE it! Including when my coarse hair is having a mind of its own, including the times I forget a word, do something completely wrong when I thought I was doing it completely right, or even react as I wish I hadn't. Just as importantly, my process will include a deep confidence that we are all here trying to live our best lives--every one of us. There is solace in understanding we are all "one", ultimately, within nature. It is the belief that I am part of something much larger than my small world which offers me comfort within my struggles; that, plus success in achieving a purpose I've determined to realize.

I look forward to continuing what I have started and to confronting challenges. I know I will find a love for life which will translate into a happiness I have sought, but wasn't quite sure how to accomplish. How interesting, how freeing to know the answer begins here where I am - from the inside.

Friday, December 17, 2010

It's Time....

I have a peaceful feeling this holiday season. I was once the excited child, filled with anticipation and joy for that one day a year when things would magically appear under our christmas tree, and the cookies and milk left for santa would be gone in the morning. I cherish those memories! As a young adult, I continued to enjoy making the holiday season special with decorations, gifts, and the camaraderie of friends and relatives. Setting up the day for my young son was especially fun and I loved watching his beautiful eyes in awe on that special morning. The holiday season always brought with it a happy spirit, an anticipation of something special about to happen.

I have also felt the opposite of this joy for the holiday season. Through various life events, I have found myself all but alone on some christmas days, few gifts to buy for cherished friends or relatives, no special party plans; exactly like those people I read about or saw on television, but never dreamed I would be. From one extreme to the other, to be sure, like the see-saw; very high, and oh so low. It was difficult to believe that I had stepped from one place to the other in one short lifetime.

This year, there is a sweet difference. There is no doubt, the day itself will hold little for me in the way of special whatevers. Instead of mourning that fact, though, I feel the brink of a new discovery about to happen. I feel a new attitude for this season about to emerge. I believe I will begin to identify what I want it to be, for maybe this, and certainly future holiday seasons. I can buy into the commercialism, the believing these few days each year should be this or that, lest I fall to dust. But I choose not to do that now. I am going to settle with it somewhere in between that child who felt the magic and that woman who sat alone in the dark feeling sorry for herself. Everything changes. This, I must say, feels really really good. Wish me Luck!