Gimme Shelter


Yes I am sheltering in place even though Mother Nature is about to unleash her wrath and fury upon the land where I live. I’ve received numerous worried phone calls and texts from friends and love ones of concern at my half-baked plan to stay. Their feelings that I should evacuate, or should have days ago, have been coming across loud and clear.

Agreed, it’s all a bit freaky. The worst hurricane in the Atlantic in history!! Yikes. This doesn’t leave for a good nights sleep mind you. And yet, I plan to stay and wait it out. Am I simply nuts?

Well, no, I don’t think so. Having been an emergency worker for 20 years, I wouldn’t choose to shelter in place without giving it some good hard thought and without reasons. Maybe my reasons are emotional ones: my pets and my mother, but I still feel the gamble is worth it.

Where I live is not in a flood zone and my apartment building is a cement box. I’m on the first floor and have hurricane windows on most of windows and on the ones I don’t, I put up my shutters. I have candles, canned food, batteries and will fill up lots of things with water, including my bath tub. And then I will simply wait.

Sure, we may lose power, but after being without power for 11 days in New England in the middle of winter without a wood stove, I guess I can handle it. I have a small battery charger for my phone, and if my car doesn’t get wrecked, then I can charge my phone in my car to let folks know I’m OK.

As long as my Mom, my pets and I’m OK, I really don’t care if I lose stuff. There is nothing I own that is more important to me than my ‘family’. Things can always be replaced. If it blows away or gets wet… so be it. Maybe I’ll end up in the land of Oz…

And the upside of these disasters is that it always brings out the best in humans. Maybe Mother nature does this to reminds us of our need to care about each other. My neighbors have been great. (Note: my neighbor for Canada flew BACK to be here for his Mom and just stopped by to make sure I was alright and didn’t need any help!)

So, yes, I’m staying and hopefully it won’t be a mistake. If it is, well, it won’t be my first mistake. If it’s the last, well…we all gotta go sometime.

Oh, a storm is threat’ning
My very life today
If I don’t get some shelter
Oh yeah, I’m gonna fade away

The Rolling Stones

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Little Thoughts


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When thoughts start to clutter my mind now, especially ones that take me away from the present, this is my new mantra:

I am here now; I am alive; I am healthy; I am grateful.

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“Extended bliss is boredom of the existential kind.” from the book NutShell  By Ian McEwan.

Just Right


“In the right place, under the right conditions, you can finally stretch out into what you are supposed to be. ” — Lab Girl by Hope Jahren

 

How long do we wait for the right place and the right conditions? It may seem to some of us that we take a long time to stretch out; that we spend much of our lives contorted and bursting apart just to come together again. I have.

The right conditions seem to involve some sort of special magic; a particular brew that mixes together to concoct the spell where the microcosm in which we move feels easy and the skin that we wear no longer needs tailoring.

Some folks that we meet seem to have been born with this magic as they whirl around with the twinkling Universe hovering nearby. But most of us aren’t so lucky. Some of us seek it, but I see now this maybe isn’t how it works. It may be more like how a seed turns into a tree. It’s just dumb luck. It just waits encased in its shell until all the conditions are perfect and then bursts forth into the world.

But most don’t get this far.

Maybe I’ve just tried too hard to make everything happen. Can I be more like that seed? Just quietly sitting on the forest floor gathering the magic conditions to crack me open. Will I be one of the lucky ones?

And once I am that wonderful entity, crawling with life and fluttering with each breath of wind, my roots firmly reaching in all directions: then I will know I am who I am supposed to be.

Ironic??


Is it ironic that I saw this Mockingbird perched upon the American flag  today: July 4th, 2017 given the state of our nation?

Maybe this bird understands something many folks seem to be missing these days….

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Art: Blazing Hope


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Hope, I am perfectly willing to admit, is one of those things I’ve relied far too much on. My life hasn’t maybe been as tidy as I’ve wanted it to be, but I keep thinking it’s OK because I always have that thing called hope. It can be plastered on anything really and comes in handy for so many situations…

For you see, the discussions for me happen pretty much in my own head: over and over. That looping of thoughts, both of all the stuff that I shouldn’t have done–(it doesn’t last for too long anymore)–and that almost immediate glow of hope trying very hard to wipe out those other stale ruminations of the past.

So I talk with myself constantly (sometimes quite out loud)–trying to set the hope free: that burning hope. I figure if I keep this chatter on long enough, maybe eventually it will set ablaze and blast off into reality.

Poem Art: Elusive


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I had a conversation today with a person who played a prominent role in my past. He said something that triggered a visceral, and for me, odd reaction. It was odd, because it surprised me, that I could feel such a ‘gut’ feeling (like I had been punched in the gut) to a very simple thing this person said in a perfectly normal conversation. It wasn’t like we had delved into the past or were reminiscing… and yet, the comment, in a sense, was about the past, because it referenced a place we had shared together.

This moment touched off many thoughts in me. Like what constitutes relationships and ‘falling in love’ with someone? And is love even the right way to approach a relationship? Should it be more about wanting or needing something–for yourself; in others?

Certainly at my age, love seems a far cry from where I am these days. My relationships with people close to me seem to be based on things much more involved than love. Things that seem even more important and lasting than love if that makes any sense. The things that keep people together–the glue.

Those of you that have lasting relationships of any kind know what I mean here, so I won’t explain what I am talking about. Love can be fleeting and fickle and hard to get a grasp on. But we can still build strong, solid and meaningful bonds even after the love may turn into something strange or convoluted. Or maybe if the ‘love’ was strange from the start.

So can I re-evaluate life and how to live it more openly? To be open to a different way to to be with someone if love isn’t the defining point? It’s another perspective really, but not unfamiliar. It’s a theme that has repeated in my life.

What is the ‘want’ then…or the ‘need’? These become the hard questions to ask. Because simply hoping to exchange love with someone, I feel, is not where I should place my hope.

It seems it should be in far more reliable, tangible and maybe simple things that will help to grow a connection with someone else; things that will ultimately not vanish, just in case the love remains elusive.

 

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!”