New Year’s Eve

This time of year has been hard for me. Not 2016 in particular but beginning with Christmas through New Year’s Eve. I usually breathe a sigh of relief when all this is over.

Maybe it’s because I don’t have a family–children, I mean–and am not in the majority, i.e., in a heterosexual couple, “normal,” if you will. I’ve been an Other most of my life. In the ’70s and ’80s I reveled in it, demonstrating and proclaiming words like liberation and patriarchy. In the ’90s I bought my first house with another woman. We were a couple for seven years and remain friends to this day. No kids, though, just a dog and two cats. I felt welcome in my neighborhood Northside, the up and coming urban and gritty gayborhood.

Now I’m retired and live on a road that used to be country (there’s a horse and a cow half a mile away!) but is turning suburban. I love my acre and creek and privacy among the trees. I live alone if you don’t count two dogs and two cats.

Yet I make it a point to invite women writer friends to my backyard deck. We toast our imagination and friendship and this is good. They are consciously chosen family, many of them. We share deep reflections and cry and laugh together. Some of us are crafting poems, others hope to write a Great American Novel. I love facilitating these classes and getting to know them so well.

It is morning on New Year’s Eve. What is it about it that so often has filled me with dread? I think it was those early years of drinking and drug experimenting. Being at parties with strangers. For much of my life I have known I felt separate. In recent decades I have worked on this: through Landmark Education, through zen meditation, through Siddha Yoga. Connection had become my mantra.

And this is good. I have chosen to focus on what unites us as people rather than separates. Certainly 2017 will not be easy with a President I abhor. I am disheartened to say the least. But a few relatives I love voted for DT and I still love them. Who said politics is ever easy? Who said life and loving comes easy?

This evening I will spend quietly in front of my fireplace with a new love who came to me in the spring. We have had a tough beginning, parting and coming back together. I do not take a moment for granted! I feel loved and this is the best wish I could wish for on New Year’s Eve.

stay close…

anything is possible

Post by @arganesh3.

Source: anything is possible

Sitting at my father’s grave

Dear Dad,

It is nearly one year since you left this world. I came to your grave, not a usual thing for me to do on Memorial Day, but I knew it would mean so much to you to have flowers put on your gravesite.

I chose some fresh flowers from my yard, such as they were, knowing it was the intention rather than their impressiveness. By the time I got myself out the front door, sunscreen on, and a big straw hat to protect my face, it was nearly noon.

When I said [my visit] would mean something to you, I’m sure part of it was projection on my part, looking in a mirror. Yes, this visit means something to me as well.

Our reconnecting after not communicating for–was it twenty years?–meant much to both of us. I give credit to Landmark Education for urging me to make that call to New Mexico. Although I lost touch, my sister Linda always knew where you and your next wife travelled. You were glad to hear my voice; amazingly, you recognized it after all those years. That call was more easy to make than my anxiety had led me to believe. Eventually I made a trip out West to visit. And it was good.

Then when your wife (after the long ago divorce from my mother) was ill and dying, you two returned to Ohio. You received support from your adult children. After her death, you and I began going out to eat together. It was what I called “your breakfast at lunchtime.” Cracker Barrel, Bob Evans, Big Boy–you had your favorite servers at each one. I bit back my vegetarian rigidity and loosened up a bit to enjoy a few hours with my father.

But that’s the past and you are no longer available for those breakfast sessions. Now I sit here in the hot sun with the noisy traffic on Colerain going shopping on the Memorial Day holiday. I sit on the edge of your plot; there is some grass now but it is obvious that the ground is fairly new. I was there when they lowered you in your coffin. Frankly, it still creeps me out, no matter how many times I see it. It seemed unreal–or perhaps I had to be numb to witness it at all.

It’s All About Me, anyway, this journaling, this blog, and my witnessing the end of a life. I know some day, some month, some year, I will face this, too. Not knowing how much time is left has been a huge zen koan for my life.

I sincerely hope my short visit has been some comfort to you–indeed, for us both.

Another Mother’s Day

I lost my mother in 2007.  The anniversary of her birthday came and went in April. I usually write about her then but did not. Am I not a loving, dutiful daughter?

For one thing, I am getting “real” about my mother having passed. And, although she is not physically present anymore, I sometimes feel her presence, her spirit, if you will. The wind chimes I got her for her deck came back to me after her death. I hear them often; they are comforting as well as beautiful. My two sisters and I text, remembering our mother, as we try to be there for one another.

So this morning as I sat before my fireplace on this chilly Sunday, the theme for my reflection is evident. I sigh yet it is a sigh of acceptance. Perhaps her first-born has finally grown. For acceptance is the final stage of Kubler-Ross’s phases for grieving. One can accept reluctantly but not kicking and screaming in denial (for that would not be acceptance).

I lit incense to the goddess mothers in my living room. If I pause to look and listen, there really are mothers all around me.

 

Coffee with the Goddess

Backyard goddess & me

This retiree had a few hours this morning before she snapped into action in the outside world. So I took my cup of coffee to the Goddess in my backyard.

Although I have researched, I have never found who She is. Janice and I bought her in Kentucky (of all places!) on our way home from Red River Gorge back in the ’90’s. Over the decades, she has shrunk–no, not osteoporosis but her body broke off from her base so she lost twelve inches. Short like me. And for a time it seemed that many of my goddess statues, mostly small ones, lost their heads. I took it as a clear sign to ‘get out of my head’ and not overthink so much.

So my Backyard Goddess lost her head in a move one time and got super-glued back together. One inspired time I added a glittery necklace and it now (mostly) hides the damage as it decorates.

I leave a plastic yard chair out there in front of Her and the circle of rocks. Symbolic. Not used often. But this morning, with the air crisp as autumn and this mortal rising earlier than usual, I sat in the chair.

In our brief time together, here were Her messages for me: “Well, hello there!”/”Better to drink green tea, my dear.”/”Shouldn’t you be writing?”/”Nice to see you again, even if briefly.”

Of course, She is right about all these as goddesses tend to be. But as I returned to the house and my schedule noted on my calendar, I remembered that I’m a goddess, too.

Hello once more, meditation!

Sunday morning. New resolve. I can, will, and must begin a regular practice of meditation once more. Trust me.

So I set the timer to twenty minutes. Lit a candle, sat on the floor in front of it. I decided: no mantra, no severe zen stance (I’ve done them all). Instead a simple cross-legged position, back to the sofa, old dog lying nearby. Was Winnie meditating in her dog way?

Here are thoughts that arose as I sat for fifteen minutes: flame of the candle–nice, better if I close my eyes? Back to the flame. Airplane flies over my house–damned Green Township pathway! I’ll be flying soon–Paris, hurray! Oops, stop it, Phebe, let the thoughts float by like clouds in the sky…..

In between these concepts, I did have a few moments of No Thought. So when I peeked and the timer told me “three minutes more,” I was disappointed.

Yes, disappointed! For I was just getting started. “Getting started” — an odd concept since there was No Where To Get to in my meditation. I reset the timer for ten more minutes. Ahhhh.

That new Sia song insisted on wafting through my head. Notice, float by. Tears. Surprising. Oh, earlier I had remembered my father, recently dead (whatever this means). “Where are you, Dad?” I inwardly asked. Maybe this is one reason I’d been resisting sitting in meditation. Feeling. Feeling my father’s recent death. Feeling my recovering chest incision from February bypass surgery. But, wait–then I felt tears of joy: my new internist. She has knowledge and caring. Knowledge and Caring. What more can a patient ask for?

Back to the candle and its wavering flame. Wavering. Yes, kind of like the baby meditator I have become after not sitting quietly for some time. Beginner’s mind begins again. And there is nothing wrong with that.