Poem: Food For Free


School Lunch Lines

with hair net lunch ladies

and cement paste potatoes

and spit filled ketchup

But today the book said:

159

(160 if you count 5-year-old Luciana)

Lining up outside

long before the prison-bolt door is let loose

drawn like a vortex

walking and sweating with bags and backpacks

or stopping in front from the city bus

and the cars stuffed full as they hope they will be too

“Sign the book”: is the weary demand

it is the Payment

The Price

for all you will get

Fill your bags and your belly

“I have no teeth, so no corn on the cob”

“No dessert because I am diabetic”

“I am homeless and live in the streets”

Gracias

Thank you

I am now the lunch lady

I give food for free

 

 

Hidey Hole


We are all looking for our own paradise:

  • Heaven
  • Money
  • Love
  • Success 
  • Beauty 
  • Fame
  • Security 
  • Happiness 

    Maybe though, it’s really just hidden away in some hidey hole within us. 

    Maybe paradise is very small and very quiet. 

    Maybe we’ve been carrying it the whole time.

    And maybe it’s time to whisper hello to it so it can creep out and whisper back. 

    Poem: I Am Flowers


    wpid-img_20150816_194741.jpg

    I am Snap Dragon

    with fire fingers

    which have lost their click

     

    I am Rose

    that has learned to kneel

    to hide my height

     

    I am Queen Anne’s Lace

    now a pauper

    begging for freedom

     

    I am Bird Of Paradise

    wings clipped

    roaming the sands

     

    I am Tulip

    mouth quiet

    because no-one will listen

     

    I am Bleeding Heart

    ever battling

    slowly dying

     

    I am Iris

    forever watching

    but never seen

     

    I am Freesia

    saving your soul

    while lost in the night

     

    I am Marigold

    filled with riches

    only a few can see

     

    And I Crocus

    much as I speak

    I’m heard as a toad

     

    We are Pink

    We are Hellebore

    We are Mugwort

    And Phlox

     

    Touch-Me-Not

    for I can never be

    reached

    wpid-img_20150816_194459.jpg

     

     

     

     

     

    Meaning


    It has been a week of contemplation and ultimately deciding to let go–surrender.

    For months now I’ve been preparing (with the online course) and then trying to get a job here. For any of you out there  who have tried in recent years, you may know it’s no fun task. Online job searching and applying has become, it seems, like all our communication now: a distant and computerized grind. It takes anything remotely human out of the chore. There is no more going into a place (like a store for instance) and asking for an application, where maybe you might have a real person see you. Everything is handled by some invisible robot now.

    So I have been reduced to my statistics, and sadly they aren’t good. And don’t believe the lies they tell you. This America we live in now (or maybe even before), isn’t the equitable place everyone may believe. No, it’s really about the bottom line. It’s not about knowledge or experience: age does not bring wisdom folks, it brings the fact that you may just cost too darn much. Or in their minds you might anyway.

    It doesn’t seem to matter that younger folks may not have the savvy for a particular job, or the personal presence shall we say (at least in some instances). I’ve noticed that many of the ‘kids’ seem too busy checking their phones to really know how to talk to a real person. But bosses and companies don’t seem to mind this flaw as long as they can keep hiring these kids cheaply.

    And I’m not even asking for a lot of money! I just wanted a job. So does my neighbor. But try as we might, we just keep getting rejections, no matter how stellar our resumes may look. So it was time for me to just take a breath, because honestly, my breathing was getting too rapid about the whole situation. I was getting Indeed.com anxiety. It was nuts!

    Enough already.

    During a meditation it came to me that it was time to give in. My arms were heavy from swimming against this current. Fair enough. So time to take another tactic.

    I applied to volunteer at the local soup kitchen. Within 10 minutes they called me. I start tomorrow at 7 am. No, I’m not a good person. This totally isn’t about being generous. It’s about me. I won’t lie: this is doing something for me. I need to feel like I have meaning.

    And it didn’t hurt to apply somewhere and have someone say yes.

    Joy Through Sacrifice


    Watching an interesting TED talk today about a young Arctic surfer (yes, you heard me right, that was Arctic surfer), he said something that really struck me–not about surfing, but about sacrifice. As you can imagine, someone who surfs in frigid waters does a fair amount of sacrificing.  He does it in part to get away from the normal tropic crowds, but also to take these amazing photographs. To paraphrase very loosely he said something like: most things worth any kind of real joy usually involve some kind of sacrifice.

    That gave me pause.

    wpid-20150113_075440.jpg

    I began thinking about some of the things that take sacrifice but bring joy:

    • 9 months of carrying a baby: the worrying, the weight gain, the hormone shifts, the vomiting, the swelling, the potential dangers involved…
    • being in a relationship: any kind really. It’s constant ups and downs, bargaining (with the kids, partners, co-workers, family members), tears, give/take, compromises, giving away parts of yourself at times
    • having a dream or goal: these can take huge amounts of time, money, changes in lifestyle and re-evaluating ourselves for the final outcome
    • moving somewhere new: leaving friends and family behind; leaving a career or job, doing something scary, taking a leap of faith
    • starting over (with a job/a person/or alone: leaving your comfort zone, stretching parts of yourself you may not know you had, or totally remaking yourself
    • helping others or someone else: living with less than normal, learning about other cultures (which maybe is uncomfortable), focusing less on “me”
    • giving up something completely: getting used to life “without”, feeling what it’s like when others perceive because we are now “different”
    • changing our point of view for the greater good: getting into arguments (political/family?), battling within ourselves over the old point of view, reconciling what’s right/wrong
    • coming out: about our sexual orientation, addictions, mental health, illness, abuse, political view or anything else we’ve been keeping inside for fear of judgement, shame or condemnation
    • sharing our home with animals: limiting our work day, getting up in the middle of the night, cleaning up hair, poop and vomit off the floor
    • Waiting: for anything you want, it can be excruciating at times because we are a culture of wanting everything now, having patience is like hot iron swirling in our bellies…the loss of precious time while we wait
    • standing up for what you believe when others around you don’t agree: this can be going to rallies or being a vegan, it can bring agitation or arguments from others, confrontations or simply tiresome questions
    • sharing our home with children: never having peace and quiet (or rarely); suddenly realizing you have to sacrifice so much and become a very good teacher when you hardly know yourself (or much else for that matter…)

    There are so many more things…what can you add to the list? And it all comes down to mindset like anything else really. We give to get. Nothing comes easily really.  It seems like many things feel like work these days, and trying to pick out the little pieces of joy can be tough. But when you think about the sacrifices we make all adding up to something beautiful–that it’s the wrapping surrounding the gift inside, then it doesn’t feel quite so much like drudgery. 

    So when you are climbing that next mountain and it feels like hell: the boots are giving you blisters, the sweating like a banshee and the mosquitoes buzzing around your head: remember that when you get to the top you will see this incredible view of the world below. Every step you took to get there was worth what lies before you as you look out. See it as you breathe the joy and try to remember that you couldn’t have experienced the splendor without a bit of pain.

    earlier 2

     

    Buried Treasure


    There are some folks that search for buried treasure. Some of that treasure may be from sunken ships from long ago that legend tell tales of gold and jewels that went down with these vessels. Divers search and may come up with some beauties, or may find only fish and wood in the depths of ocean, or maybe nothing at all. But it might be the journey alone that draws these seekers, the hope of treasure and wealth and a visit into the past.

    I’ve read of current day treasure hunts: wealthy men hiding trunks of money and producing hints with maps given in books that hungry hunters must purchase in hopes of finding the loot. Is it bunk and a lucky gent making his own treasure on unsuspecting innocents, or is there really something hidden waiting for some brilliant detective who can unlock the key?

    wpid-0627140540b.jpg

    For me the buried treasure is of a different kind. It’s not material. In fact, I’ve been making efforts to rid myself of material goods, including ones of “value”. What is value anyway but what it means to someone. True, gold and diamonds have value if one tried to sell them in our market, but even these go up and down in price and they can sometimes cost so much they become: invaluable. Museums must hold onto pieces that are such treasures as to become priceless.

    No, things are no longer what I am pursuing, but still my treasures have been buried. I’ve felt rather like some great explorer that has gone on a long expedition to some unheard of place to find my gems. The natives were not always hospitable and the climate often harsh. The tools I brought with me I found, at times, were primitive and didn’t quite do the trick as I tried to dig and dig to find this deeply hidden trunk of goods.

    The maps I had were often handed to me by people who had no idea where I needed to be or what I was looking for; they were crude and often in a language I did not understand. So I tossed them aside and plunged on, sometimes through jungle brush, other years in desert heat sucking the water out of my pores. But I knew if I kept going, eventually I would find the goods.

    There were years that I walked in circles. And sometimes I would just lay down and cry. Sometimes I had the strength of a tiger and the eyesight of an eagle, feeling like I was closer and closer. But then the treasure would slip away and I would have to start again.

    wpid-20140822_130332.jpg

    I’ve learned over the years now, that the maps I needed were with me written in an invisible ink only I could read. They were my maps to find my treasures. When I looked really closely, I noticed that the path lead me through all those places I had gone: the jungles and deserts and around and around–it’s where the trail led, I just hadn’t seen it before now. None of it was by accident.

    And all the people I met along the way, they were in the Legend of the map, part of landscape I was meant to wander on path to the treasure. In fact, when I squinted just right, I saw that I actually had found treasure in each of these villages! There were markings showing that’s where some of the jewels were: the people, even the ones I thought were hostile had given me something I didn’t know, a tiny gem of knowledge.

    But after walking, searching and following this map–and scrutinizing it carefully, I saw something that brought wonder to me. It appeared I was coming very close to the buried treasure that I had been chasing for so long. Maybe I’m only steps away now it seemed. The map showed it was at the center of everything: bright and brilliant, overflowing with energy.

    I’m almost there now. The treasure. My treasure, buried–inside of me.

    wpid-0520142142a.jpg

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    The Good Battle


    There are certain moments in life where we are given a gift that sets us free. News that lifts us high and helps us to remember life is good and beautiful. Lately I have been given many of these moments and for them I am truly grateful.

    It is so easy, with our fast paced, whirlwind lives, to take life for granted. To forget our connection to family and friends. We press on so hard into our daily tasks that we may not stop to look around us to see the wonders that abound. They are all around if we just take a second to see them.

    Feeling compelled by life to have material wealth, we sometimes lose spiritual well-being. We take jobs that make us unhappy or keep people near us that really prove to have negative energy.

    Because I am getting older and finally see the wisdom in serenity rather than money, my choices from now on will be very different.
    This is my promise to myself.

    As my Mother heals, I reflect on my good fortune to be able to be near her and help get her stronger. It is a blessing that such an awful thing can actually turn out to be something wonderful because it has bonded us so closely together. She is an amazing woman and together we are invincible.

    And I also got a new lease on life today, which I will not take for granted. I’m grateful because I know that not everyone is as lucky as I am. I wish it could be so for all whom I love. But together we fight the good battle, and we’ll win anyway.

    Because in the end, our spirits will all collide and meet somewhere someday anyway…….

    Out The Door!


    From a really bad thing came a really good thing. Today my Mom and I decided I should quit my job. As many of my long time followers know, I was really unhappy in that job anyway. From the beginning that position has been hard for me with difficult co-workers, rude doctors, unreasonable managers and unkind people in general. Not what I wanted in a new position.

    I felt that when I moved here, that one priority was to be relaxed and enjoy my place of employment. Stress from years of working in the Emergency Medical field had taken its toll and I was ready for a big break. But admittedly I took the wrong position offered to me from a couple of offers. Figuring this was somewhat within my field and giving me the opportunity to meet more people and slightly more money–I jumped at this one.

    wpid-20141102_102731.jpg

    How wrong I was! Money should never, ever guide us, and I should have known better. And while I did meet some very wonderful friends that I hope to keep, the bulk of the folks there were more of the same uncaring healthcare ‘professionals’ that would sooner spit on you than help you.

    So when the opportunity arose to help my Mom get well, you didn’t have to ask me twice to walk out the door. I didn’t even give two weeks, which is not my style at all. I’m not sure I’ve ever done that in my life! But with her health, their attitudes and my degree of frustration, I was out.

    To my great surprise and gratitude, my boss was very kind and understanding about it all and even said if there was anything he could do he would. If there were more words like this, maybe there would be more retention there, but sadly he is not the one to talk to most people. It happens I go to him because he’s nicer.

    wpid-0805140746.jpg

    Sadly it’s the loud mouths that run the place who either pretend to be nice or just plain aren’t nice or have their favorites. Of which I was not one. And I am proud not to be! I’m always glad not to be part of the crowd that played games or is too afraid to say what I feel for fear of pissing them off. Bah!

    Because I know in my heart what is really important, and it’s certainly not any of those silly folks who can’t walk their talk. It’s about family, real connections and honesty. And hopefully when Mom gets better, it will be time to find a new career. But this time it will be nothing to do with human healthcare!!

    wpid-0607141246a.jpg

    Back Of The Queue


    Having been in healthcare in the US for 20 years, I know what a poor system it is and how one must really know how to navigate within it or get lost. Plus one must be an advocate for ones-self or have an advocate, or simply get lost.

    Luckily my Mom has me! The elderly in this country are forgotten about in more ways than one, and within the healthcare system is one BIG way. As a friend said: they get pushed to the back of the queue. No-one cares…not really. Many can’t speak up for themselves, have poor insurance (and we all know it comes down to money) and don’t really know what’s going on anyway.

    But not only am I a healthcare provider, but I have a big mouth. A bad combination if someone isn’t doing their job. Hey, I’m the best patient  or advocate in the world, if the people are treating patients like they are supposed to do. That’s because I know what it’s all about: how hard the patients can be, the thankless hours, the endless paperwork, the nasty co-workers and crappy management/jobs. I get it all. So I tend to be very nice until you cross the line of not caring or not doing what you are trained to do.

    wpid-20150211_075408.jpg

    So when someone gets sent home and everything is still wrong, the person is still way too sick–we have a problem Houston! When the home-care RN comes and finds actual data to back this up and tries to call the Doctors and no-one returns phone calls…. well, you can darn well believe this ex-healthcare provider AND daughter is going to be making some phone calls herself.

    And they ain’t gonna be pretty!

    Come on people! Are you serious here? Is it really only about the money or what? Does anyone care anymore??

    So after a rather FIRM, shall we say, discussion with the doctor’s secretary…she said in a very meek tone: hold on please. Oh, yes, I’ll hold on alright. And then I was put through…imagine that!

    I finally got a PA on the phone. And finally some resolve. No, Mom won’t go back to the hospital…ever again as a matter of fact thank you very much thanks to all you people! No, that wasn’t an option. And I don’t blame her one little bit. But after much convincing, she did agree to go tomorrow (instead of waiting until Tuesday) to see her Doctor that did the procedure. Thank goodness… It took some doing because she’s fed up with everything, but I was firm with her too. There is just too much going on and she deserves more. I won’t let them turn their backs on this patient.

    She was the boss for a long time, but I am now.

    You can bet I’m going into that room tomorrow too. And this time, I’m calling the shots!

    wpid-20141031_141002.jpg

     

    Three Pets


    So I finally decided to change it up here, get out of my dull life, try to get into this place and be more proactive in my life. Who would have ever thought that I’d hit a major road block with a great attitude like this one?

    No it’s not that I’m broke or have no credit…In fact I have wonderful credit. I’m gainfully employed and have a good work history. I can give good references, have lived in places for long times too. You could do a criminal background check on me and find that my murder charges are from a long ago….ha ha. No seriously folks, not even a speeding ticket.

    Honestly, I’m your model citizen. I’ve owned my own homes for most my life really, but have moved here and have chosen to rent instead. Partly because I still own a home and am still trying to sell it and partly because I just don’t want to own right now. But I am the kind of person that would leave something better than how I found it–at least I think so.

    So why can’t I find a place to rent? It’s not for lack of places, or resources even. There’s a simple, and to me unfair and silly explanation:

    It’s because of the number of pets that live with me!

    I’m the watch cat Mummy


    Where I live now, in this state, just about every living situation–even if you plan to buy something is governed by rules and regulations that restricts pet ownership. Many say none, some say 1, all rental buildings allow only 2 and some have size limitations. It’s nuts to me. So you can have two eighty pound dogs, but not one little dog and two cats. One guy had the nerve to ask me if I would just get rid of one of my cats! Obviously not an animal lover! I told him I didn’t drive all the way here, alone with my three pets just to give them away. His place wasn’t that great! Sheesh.

    I’m feeling sad too Mommy


    Right about now I’m feeling pretty low. I’m starting to know what it must feel like to be blocked out of housing, to have someone say: the likes of you can’t live here.That may sound crazy, but I felt like that as we went from one place to another and got turned away. My heart was thumping.

    It might as well been the color of my skin. Because this is me, loving my animals is who I am, defines me as a person. Just like you can’t wash off the color of someone’s skin, you can’t tell me to just stop loving my pets and having them be a part of my life.

    And anyone who doesn’t get that clearly has never been a pet lover. It would be like me telling someone to just get rid of one their kids! Seriously, would he have done that to someone else if they only allowed two kids in that place? Laughable.

    That guy was a ninny Mom! Don’t even listen!


    Nope, they’re coming with me wherever I end up. We’re in it together and they depend on me to make it work.

    And you can bet I will!

    We’re all together xoxo