Living Now


How much of our life do we spend looking forward or back? Countless moments wishing about the ideal new future we will have someday or ruminating endlessly over all memories we wish could be do-overs. The hands of the clock just keep spinning as our minds play these scenes in our heads; it doesn’t hold still saving those precious minutes for a later day. No, it marches on ahead in its endless walk toward the end of time, our time at least–and what have we really gained during these memory visitations?

It’s true, there are certain positives that can be created from walking away from the present down our other time zones. Going back in time can prevent us from making the same mistakes (hopefully) by learning what felt wrong to us. And going forward can help us plan so we don’t create some huge disaster in our lives by simply going blindly.

But too much of either maybe isn’t good, is it? Making mistakes is hardly completely preventable and thinking too much about them can fill us with deep feelings of shame and guilt. And maybe taking leaps of faith into future plans may not be such a bad thing–it’s called trust. Trusting your intuition will know when something is or isn’t good for you.

It seems to me the only really effective way to be able to survive with any sense of contentment and ease, is then not to spend quantities of time in the past or present. Rather to live most fully in the present.

“You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment. Fools stand on their island of opportunities and look toward another land. There is no other land; there is no other life but this.”
Henry David Thoreau

If one truly commits to doing this, and it is no easy task as the mind is constantly aiming to pull you off task, then life begins to open up before you with crisp alertness. As each sensory organ gets tuned in to the world around us, everything becomes heightened. Noises leap out, smells drift under our noses, scenery becomes more illuminated and our sense of touch more sensual.

As our mind tends to drift away from the now, which can happen every minute with the distractions of every day life, we can pull it back to this minute by asking it to notice: what do I hear? do I see? what am I feeling right in this second? It is giving us back the gift of time, and while the clock is still moving, it is our lover instead of our prison guard.

“Dost thou love life? Then do not squander time, for that’s the stuff life is made of.”
― Benjamin Franklin

So if we can wed our mind and time, and bring this union to one beautiful moment, then the child created stands still in bliss.

Being Human


“Being Human is more important than being full in the know.” Pico Iyer

I heard this on a TED talk the other day and thought it very poignant. One can interpret it many different ways I suppose. This gentleman was talking about what we will never know…that the older we get, the less we know.

Most people feel that with age comes wisdom, but maybe Mr. Iyer is correct. Maybe, instead we learn that as humans we really know very little. That with all our technology, science, predictions and machines–there is so much about the world around us, important stuff, that we simply just will never understand.

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We might predict if someone has cardiac disease, but not the exact minute they might have a heart attack, or if they will at all. So in the end, even though I moved here to help my Mother, I was not with her the moment hers came, therefore the incident became bigger.

Humans have never been able to predict love: when love will strike, who will be blessed with its arrow or when it will be wrenched away. For the ages poets, writers, painters and almost all creative people have tackled love within their medium. But none can truly define it. It remains a sacred mystery, one that is cherished, sought after and defined abstractly depending who is creating the script. It just is and anyone who has felt it understands it. It’s part of being human. We ‘get’ it, but a Webster definition…? Good luck.

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Is ignorance bliss? Maybe in many cases this saying is yes. With the onslaught of the internet and the overabundance of information, being in the know can be a dangerous thing. We have stopped being simply human and relying on those skills we once did that provided us the ability to survive. Our ‘gut’ told us what and who was safe or which way to go; we could sense when our body needed something or when something wasn’t right. Those subtle signals that made the hair stand up, or when we just knew someone was nearby even though we couldn’t see them. Now we ignore signals either about these invisible others (or we are overly sensitive about people different from us) and we are completely out of touch with our own bodies.

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How do we begin to detach, then, our ever whirring minds, so filled with all the data, and get back to ‘just being human’? Can we relearn to trust our inner selves again to become at least partially instinctual in our decision-making? It would be hard for many who have become so co-dependent on digital information. They must be ‘in the know’ for everything. Trusting in themselves would be a hard thing. Especially the generation raised on computers–they have been breast-fed on them, so how do they know otherwise?

For me, tuning in more and more–over many years–to my inner voice, the nuances of my physical self and trying to quiet my chattering mind has been a challenge. But it has been one I take on gladly. Because I am human, this is the animal I was born to be, and getting back to the bare bones of this beast is where I belong.

When we truly quiet the mind, turn off the data stream and just be the beast, we become in tune with the Universe and all things sacred.

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Cray-Cray?


As the hurricane is getting closer to where I live, I’m wondering if I notice its pull on the human beings around me? Am I imagining it or is it real?

Certainly humans are overly preoccupied with the weather now that we can have a minute to minute account of what it’s doing via social media on our phones and computers–this with a full onslaught of radar, photos, video and people telling us about the death and destruction about to hit us. No wonder everyone gets coo-coo.

I HAVE LOTS OF WATER!!

Are people better off not knowing? Well, probably not, because at least we can prepare, but wow, one would think it’s the end of the world rather than the possibility of a power outage, wind and some flooding. But maybe it’s just something to talk (complain?) about.
The endless lines for gas, the empty grocery shelves, the incessant talk about what our work wants from us. These folks have obviously have never lived through an ice storm and the following 11 days of no power in sub freezing weather after! Now that sucks! At least it’ll be warm here. Not to diminish the issues that may befall us…just that getting cray-cray is of no use.

HERE’S WHAT A VEGAN STOCKS 🙂

But clearly this kind of thing brings out the best AND the worst in folks, as I’ve experienced both in the past couple of days.

My most wonderful neighbors, who were just hanging out yesterday having a drink or two, chatted with me about the upcoming storm. I asked about preparations and two of them offered to help me get ready! They came over and together we put up my hurricane panels, a job I had never done before. They assured me too, that I have the special windows and should be OK. When offered money or a bottle of wine, they flatly refused, saying that this is what neighbors do for each other! Wow, finally a neighborhood where I belong and where folks are kind and caring.

On the other hand, my desk mate went off on me today. Instead of simply telling me something I was doing bothered him, he got very personal about it. It got mean and hurtful. And when we talked later, he took no responsibility for how it made me feel. While this didn’t totally surprise me, it was rather out of the blue and seemed ‘stormy’ that he should attack me the way he did.

IT GOT UGLY AND SPOOKY AT WORK.

Luckily, I’m used to it there and have learned so much better how to handle these things. It bothered me, but I will let it pass over me like the hurricane. It won’t change me any more than any weather pattern will change me.

In instances like this we can let the pressure make us or break us. We can pull together or decide to let the burden of stress be so heavy that we lash out like the items we haven’t battened down.

It’s really up to us how we want to be and how we want to come out of this: surrounded by our own wreckage or in good shape because we all worked together to prepare.

I’D RATHER BE PEACEFUL.

Poem: Never More!


There are days 

That feel 

Like the Raven 

Sits right above 

My shoulder 

Peering down 

On me

With tiny dark eyes. 

She twists her head 

Back and forth 

Scrutinizing 

Looking for that shiny thing.

But on those days 

That Raven sits-

The days she is sent 

To pull off glittering gelt-

None she will find. 

For rather it be

A bird of Poe

Ominous and dark 

Seeking out one who dwells

Deep within a tunnel 

Away from the light. 

Raven comes

Drawn to the black 

Yet looking for glimmer. 

I listen 

As she tries to speak me

And slowly feel the gloom lift.

She whispers in my ear:

“Never more!”

Up Up Up


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“Sunshine on a cloudy day….”

OK, so maybe it wasn’t so cloudy out, but I’ve been feeling cloudy on the inside. Some cranky things have been happening lately that have put me down in the dumps. And this move, while good, is tough. Me, with my OCD nature just runs things through in my mind, so it can be very noisy in there. It provides my little brain with added stimulus that makes me edgy.

This is why today when I did my walk through of the apartment and met my new neighbor, my mind was somewhat eased. My Mom came too this time and it was the first time she saw the place. She gave it her stamp of approval, which made me happy. And I met my new neighbor who appeared very pleasant, so I’m off to a great start living in this new community. After all…this was the point in the first place. She said: if there’s anything you need, don’t hesitate. Gee, I’m not sure anyone has said that to me since I’ve been here!

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Maybe everything is coming up roses?!

Today I finally also found another position at work that was worth applying for within my own department. This is the break I’ve been waiting for since I got there. It was announced at a staff meeting. I couldn’t believe it. It’s for an anesthesia tech position. This position is much more autonomous than being a secretary, in the rooms setting up for the anesthesia department. I asked some of the anesthesia dept and they said ‘go for it!’ I also asked a couple of the guys that do it during the day, although they are both new doing this job. They thought I could do it no problem.

So I ran to HR during lunch and whipped off an online app. When I got home, I actually read what the job entailed because I never bothered at work! Well, they wanted someone with scrub tech, EMT OR paramedic experience!! So I kind of can’t lose. Unless of course they decide to discriminate based on my age/sex. Don’t laugh, they do it without saying they are doing it.

It’ll be a later shift, but I’m fine with that now that I’m moving close to work. No problem. So fingers crossed. I’m just so glad to be getting away from my very crazy landlady. And now maybe there’s a new prospect at work too.

Things may just be looking up up up…….

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Welcome??


“Live free or die!”–this was the refrain I was used to hearing from where I just moved. A war cry I often made fun of when I was there, especially as a paramedic. We would change the saying to: Live free AND die when we’d arrive on scene of a motorcycle accident, no helmets, the person dead or dying. Ayup, no helmet laws…that’s right folks, do whatever you like for sure. It’s your life despite best practices and safety information! Go ahead: live free and die for sure…keeps me in business.

It was all a big joke, but many there took their freedom very seriously. And, I suppose, with good reason. In a world, where Big Brother seems to encroach upon us in so many aspects of our lives with all the rules and regulations, I kind of get it.

I, for one, have never been so good at following all of the rules. The ones that didn’t make much sense to me, or seemed unfair or unjust–well, yeah, I definitely went outside those boxes. In that way, I related completely to the above sentiment. It makes me nuts when someone tells me to do something that I deem as irrational or I simply know to be incorrect because I have proof. It gets all my hackles standing on end.

And I must admit, I’m not very good at being quiet about it. I’ve always had a rather big mouth–for as long as I remember. Pressing the boundaries and getting myself in trouble. Not exactly self-righteous, but willing to go against the establishment.

So here I am facing The Establishment like I never have before: buying a condo! It’s a whole new experience for me. I was always afraid I might not be able to do it and to ‘fit in’ and follow The Rules of folks telling me just what I could and couldn’t do with reference to how to live. But I had no idea to what extent it would happen until I went to my ‘orientation’ meeting today. There was reams of paperwork and boxes to check off. It was nuts.


Already a bit crabby missing work because they only have it during the week, something I felt rather archaic–maybe I was already a bit prejudiced I admit. Sure, it’s ‘an active adult community’ (this meaning 55 and over), but that means many of us work for goodness sake!! So why not run some of these after hours or on weekends?? I suppose because the office lady doesn’t want to come in then…but sheesh.

This meeting is mandatory, even though I had already met with someone from my particular building. One can’t close until you go and get some paper from them for the title company!! She didn’t want to overfill the class, meanwhile (if you include a couple) I was the 5th person. Really, 5 is too many? She’s afraid someone would ask too many questions. But instead, SHE talked in redundant circles, about nothing. Garbage, what colors to paint your house, where to park your cars… Are you joking? An hour and half later, I thought I might scream.

And even though she told us to hold all questions until later, she snipped at me with the one question I had, which was never answered. Ahhhh! It was crazy. And there were so many rules! I’m not sure I can go to the bathroom without checking with someone first. Or at least…the color of the toilet paper I buy…


No, but really, it all seemed rather silly, but I’m sure once you move in nobody even cares. And when she said there’s a woodworking club that the MEN are in (I asked if woman can join…yeah yeah, I was being smart)…I thought: maybe I’ll start my own club. Like the rebel club. Or the people who use weird toilet paper club. Or those who never listened during meetings in high school club. Or the live free or die club….

Or maybe I’ll just go into my cute little new condo, shut the door and mind my own business.

Member


“I refuse to join any club that would have me as a member.” Groucho Marx

Groucho

Everybody know this fellow, right?? I felt a bit like him today when I was ‘interviewed’ by the condo person (it was supposed to be people, but one didn’t show), for the place I’m buying. Before moving here, I had never heard of such a thing. Being interviewed before you move into a building?? Say what? You mean to tell me I can’t just buy an apartment and move in? This was definitely not like that state where I used to live–someone would probably pull out a gun before they would be interviewed for something like this…I mean you’ve got to be kidding. “Live Free Or Die” baby…don’t you know?!

But OK, I’ll play by the rules. What could they possibly ask me, right? Or could they?

When I showed up today at 3pm, I was early and waited outside…by the mailboxes. It’s not as cryptic as it sounds, because there is a little area to sit with a table. But one would think the president of the building complex (there are multiple complexes) would invite you in for a cup of tea in a more welcoming way. But no, when she came, it was pretty much all business. Take copies of my papers, take my check, ask a few round about nosy questions and that was that. And, in the end, she was the only one there.

I got the paper signed that I needed–I guess accepting me into ‘the club’. Or whatever. I’m not exactly sure what that signature represented. And I’m not sure if they can exactly turn someone down or what you’d have to do to make them say no. Maybe act like Groucho Marx? Maybe if I had walked up with a big hairy moustache smoking a cigar and darting eyes, they would have thought twice. Who knows? I didn’t push it…yet.

So I clutched all my official papers to my chest and scurried over to the condo office to get stamped with approval to be part of The Club. Oh wait, I have to first take an Orientation class so I know how to live there first!

What, wait? A class? Rules of how to live around other people? I know, I know…it has been a long time since I have and I may have forgotten. If I don’t refresh my memory,  I might just do something stupid like get my mail naked or leave dog poop everywhere I go. Yeah, I guess I should go…

Or better still, I could do like Groucho, and could consider not being a member of any club that would have me as a member??

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Staying Awake


Someone said this to me recently and I thought it was quite interesting and relevant to my life:

“I just try to stay awake and see what comes into my awareness.” 

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So much of life (mine anyway) can easily get lost in a state of unawareness and a ‘sleepiness’ of the mind. With all the activity and hustle/bustle of the world around us, we can become easily distracted and therefore less focused on what’s right in front of us. And that’s not all really: in our own personal lives we all juggle many difficult issues, or even just responsibilities in general, so it can–at times–simply be overwhelming to stay awake and be aware.

My ADD type of personality too can be focusing on one thing, and then get pulled away by something more interesting, or loud, or colorful. Concentrating on the task at hand, or the person speaking to me can often be a challenge depending on the environment I’m in. Often I feel guilty that I don’t go out on weekends, but I recently realized that my introverted and ADD character simply needs to recharge for the next work week. When I am constantly bombarded, day after day with sensory data and distractions–it’s system overload.

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It’s within the quiet moments that I am at my best ‘staying awake’. And in these moments of alertness is when the magic can happen: creativity, peace, insight and clarity. My deep awareness becomes enlightened and I see things more sharply, smell odors more deeply and hear with more resonance.

This blog has helped me to stay awake. Gathering material has helped me to be a seeker, keeping a watchful eye for beauty or curious photos. Listening to things now, I hear them wondering what they mean on a different level. It has awakened another part of me.

Maybe the older we get, the more awake we get–I would hope at least–and the more aware we become to the world around us. We’ve walked among our fellow humans longer so have a wider perspective-or should anyway. Our memory banks are filled with many resources from years of experiencing life.

So now our job is to simply remember not to slumber through life, not to let life’s drag on us keep our eyelids heavy to the world around us. And if they can remain open and seeking, then maybe–hopefully, something interesting will come into our awareness. And this is what brings meaning to our lives.

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Goodbyes


Goodbyes are convoluted and strange things.

Some goodbyes can come from a place of pain and sorrow. Two friends who have worked together for years, and now one is moving far, far away–and it’s the last day they will work in the same place. Oh, they will still always be friends, but this goodbye certainly changes the nature of their friendship as it morphs into another shape, more nebulous, less tangible and not as easy to grasp.

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Or the goodbye we say at a funeral, the quiet moments surrounding any loved one’s death. This one-sided, mournful, hollow goodbye cried out into the unknown. Some believe it may be heard and that we will meet again, but on this earthly plane, those tears, that goodbye can no longer be shared with the one that is gone.

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And there are angry goodbyes. Maybe two of us agree to say goodbye and both feel the heat of the word between us. When we turn our backs and decide to walk away, cut our losses and be done. But sometimes one takes the brunt of goodbye from another and is left standing alone and bereft of all that once made them whole. These are devastating goodbyes. These are almost worse than death in some ways as they are not finite so they leave us feeling in some ways this duplicity of hope and inadequacy.

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There’s just the simple goodbye: see ya later, bye bye, adios, au revior, ta ta… Like I’ll see you tomorrow and it’s no big deal. The thing to remember, though, is that we never know about tomorrow and what can happen. Things can suddenly change and maybe tomorrow won’t come. Maybe we won’t get the chance to say goodbye.

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So then, goodbyes hold all this meaning depending on how it’s used.  That old saying of ’till we meet again’ is something we should keep in mind, maybe replacing goodbye with it. And even if we’re angry and want to walk away, can we do it on a positive note: take a deep breath, remember the good times (if there were any) and close the chapter peacefully? It’s not always possible or practical, but when it is, it builds good karma one would hope.

I will close with one of my favorite goodbye (of sorts) speeches of all time. Because, maybe this is, after all, just one big dream. And when we wake, well…who knows?? Maybe all the goodbyes won’t be necessary as the scenery is different and the actors all still live and are part of your company. Yes, yes….maybe it’s all just been one bad dream……

“If we shadows have offended,
Think but this, and all is mended,
That you have but slumber’d here
While these visions did appear.
And this weak and idle theme,
No more yielding but a dream,
Gentles, do not reprehend:
if you pardon, we will mend:
And, as I am an honest Puck,
If we have unearned luck
Now to ‘scape the serpent’s tongue,
We will make amends ere long;
Else the Puck a liar call;
So, good night unto you all.
Give me your hands, if we be friends,
And Robin shall restore amends.”

A Midsummer Nights Dream–By William Shakespeare

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On that note: merry meet and merry part and merry meet again!

Mockingbird


There are tons of Mockingbirds where I live now. I hear them and see them every day and this has made me wonder about them and their possible significance in my life. When I walk the dog at 4 am, I hear one in the same tree serenading me. I’ve read that it is a rare bird that will sing in moonlight. How lovely!

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Fly me to the moon…..

It reminds me of a poem I wrote many, many years ago, when I was just 21 and about to get married for the first time. It started:

The first bird of the morning called to me

And I answered…

That’s all I recall of the poem, but I was writing about a Mockingbird. The marriage ended, but my memory of the Mockingbird song has not.

Peterson’s Field guide says of the Mockingbird song: “…a varied, prolonged succession of notes and phrases, each repeated a half-dozen times or more before changing. Many Mockingbirds are excellent mimics of other species.”

One wonders what nature was thinking to have this species mock other birds? Mocking in humans is often considered cruel and is discouraged. To mock another is in a way to make fun of their song or their voice. But somehow the Mockingbird never appears anything but lovely and bold in her sweet aria.

They say: imitation is also the highest form of flattery. So then, maybe this bird is merely trying her best to blend in to the chorale around her? I’ve always been very outspoken and said my own thing and usually disagree with the current crowd. My refrain is rarely in sync with others and this has caused me much heartache.

In the book “Animal Speak” by Ted Andrews, he says of Mockingbirds: “Whenever the Mockingbird arrives, look for opportunities to sing forth your own song. Follow your own path.” Maybe by knitting the ideas and voices of many, I’ve tried to speak out boldly like a Mockingbird in my own way.

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We are family!!

I know it is a protective bird, flying at me if I get too close to its nest. And they are fearless and will live near humans–that’s why I see them everywhere here! They seem to love to perch up high and belt their anthems, always with a sharp eye on the observer.

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I’ll be watching you….

What does this mocking, mimicking, bold and fearless bird mean to my life? I am trying to learn my song, but also blend the chorus of others into a melody so that my song becomes richer and more beautiful. I have absorbed from others their songs and listened to their wisdom and woven it into my own verse.

And I am finally learning to stand up on the highest point and sing out loudly without fear of what others might think of me. To be bold and fearless like the Mockingbird and to protect those people and ideals I hold dear.