I’m allowed to change my mind.

Today is an exciting day. Last night I slept upstairs for the first time in almost a year. Since I came home from rehabilitation last December, I’ve been downstairs in the guest room. IMG_1108Yesterday my daughter and I cleaned my room and carried my clothes back upstairs. I suddenly came to the realization that I belong in my bed. I don’t like feeling like a  guest here. It took me a while to go to sleep but once I did, I slept all night. Lulu didn’t have any difficulty making the transition. She went to sleep straight away.

After falling down the stairs last year, my first thought was that I should sell my house and move to a one-story place. It seemed reasonable, the right thing to do.

As time passed, though, I started to feel more and more unsettled about that decision. Fortunately, I can change my mind. And so I did. The thought of downsizing a second time became a great weight on my shoulders. It’s too heavy and I’m unwilling to carry it. I have the option of doing it later — or not.

I feel lighter and happier than I have in a long time.


Changing perception.

When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves. ~ Viktor Franklchange

I was working at the Food Pantry the other day.  Well, several of us were sitting around talking because we had no clients, no one who was seeking food.  I hope the fact that we had no clients that day is a good thing, that it means no one in our neighborhood was hungry for at least a day.  That’s my optimistic view of the situation.

We volunteers have some good chats on slow days.  I try not to let my divorced status define who I am, but at the same time, I am very open to discussion of my situation just in case it might be helpful to someone who takes the time and trouble to ask questions.  I usually prefer to assume that the questions are sincere and not prying.

One of the women asked if I mind living alone.  I have to admit I hadn’t thought about it in a while until she asked.  (That’s a sure sign that I’m doing well, don’t you think?)  I considered the question for a moment and responded, “No, not really.  I do have a cat after all.”  I went on to tell her that I missed my husband horribly for a long time but I don’t anymore, that I have adjusted to what is, and am content.  She said, “That’s a really good thing — learning to be happy where you are with what you’ve got.”

I’ve thought a great deal about that statement.  It certainly sums up where I am today.

Back at the beginning of our separation, I read somewhere that it takes a year of recovery for every five years a couple is together.  At the time I had trouble wrapping my mind around that notion, thinking “I don’t have that much time.  Let’s just get on with it!”  I have learned, though, that it has proved pretty accurate in my case.  I wanted to hurry up the healing but I wasn’t able to.  Some things take time.

I no longer think too often about D and our marriage.  Oh sure, things pop up but I don’t dwell on the negatives much.  I have thought about my ex this week because he had a birthday a couple of days ago.  I considered sending him a happy birthday text but then I asked myself, “Why would I do that?”  I don’t hate him.  I don’t dislike him.  But I don’t like him very much either.  And I don’t owe him anything.  I guess I’m idling here in the middle and it’s a pretty good place to be.

Oh, okay.  Happy birthday, D.  Thirty years is a long time and old habits die hard.

People change and forget to tell each other. ~ Lillian Hellman

A walk in Tarheel country.

I’m visiting daughter #2 and her lovely teenage daughters.  Their husband/father is traveling.  He just left Kenya and is now on his way to India.  Even though I’m delighted to be here with them, my heart is heavy because another relative and her family are facing serious difficulties which I will not write about in this space.  The hardest part is that I can do nothing to make their road easier.  I went for a walk to look for beauty and to try to give myself a change-of-scenery shock treatment.  The first thing I noticed was this crocus, fooled into thinking it’s spring.

It’s a beautiful day in Chapel Hill and there are signs of early spring in all directions.  Hard to believe that they’re expecting snow starting around noon tomorrow.  Hopefully the temperature will not get cold enough to kill all the blossoms.  I’ll head for home early in order to avoid bad roads.  No snow predicted for my neighborhood.

If you’re a James Taylor fan you will recognize this street sign as the title of a JT song.  Actually  two North Carolina men–James Taylor and Reynolds Price combined their talent and wrote “Copperline.”  You know the smooth voice of Mr. Taylor but you may not know Mr. Price.  He was a professor at Duke University and writer extraordinaire.  His novels have entertained me for many years.  He was master of the written word and won awards for his writing.  Click here to learn more about Reynolds Price.

Apparently this little university town is friendly to Obama.  That makes me happy.  I spotted a black Volvo wearing this sticker on its side.  Obama took North Carolina in the last election.  I’m hoping we’ll be a blue state again in 2012.  Obviously the driver of this car hopes so too.

There’s a tiny park in the neighborhood with an old family cemetery.  The cemetery is surrounded by a stacked stone wall and was the burial ground for the Purefoy family.  The best I can tell the family was/is a prominent clan in this county.  I loved ambling through and reading the headstones.

As I was strolling past the shops in the neighborhood I spotted this t-shirt.  I must say that no one talks about this town without mentioning Carolina Tarheel basketball.  This is Coach Roy Williams pictured on the front of the shirt.  Since we’re in the Bible Belt, I find the message “Get Heeled” rather funny.

There were some humorous items inside the shop, too.

I love the piggies.

And the brilliant rooster.

I arrived home warmer than when I left and feeling a little less sad.  Pictured on the left is a trellis on the side of my daughter’s house.  Here it stands at attention waiting for a better day, a day of flowering transition.  Our family could use such a transition.  We’ll try to plant the seeds needed to accomplish a blossoming of better days.  We can do it.  We will do it.

Ego–his, hers, mine.

…I made a conscious effort to think like a person who doesn’t put himself at the head of the universe. ~ Sam, in “Skipped Parts” by Tim Sandlin

I’ve been thinking about this post for quite some time.  I’ve done a little research on “ego vs. healthy self-esteem.”  Little is the key word here. I even listened to a Q&A session with Eckhart Tolle in which he discussed this topic.  I find him rather difficult to listen to even though I do respect his writing and his opinions.  There is a great deal of information “out there” about ego.  So much, in fact, that my mind got boggled by it all.  Alright, I admit it, it doesn’t take a great deal of something to rattle my brain.  I read a little and came to the conclusion that my opinion is just as valid as some of those I read online.  Hehe.  How’s that for ego?  Or is that self-esteem?

  • self-esteem–How much you respect and accept yourself.  Your concept of how worthy, valuable, lovable and capable you are in society.
  • ego–An inflated opinion of yourself often accompanied by a belief that you are superior to others.

I’ve been trying to understand how or whether ego contributes to or causes divorce.  I think it could do both.  (I’m in way over my head here and I’m trying to find a graceful way out.)  The best I can tell, healthy self-esteem is a good thing.  Ego is not.  And if my self-esteem goes too far in either direction, the ego takes over.  Once my ego takes over, I do things that are not good for me.  If what I’m doing is not good for me, then it’s probably not good for my relationships.

So…When D started to have an affair with S, he started avoiding and neglecting me.  Over a period of time his inattention eroded my self-esteem.  Once my self-esteem became wounded (unhealthy), I started acting in a way that further damaged our relationship and our marriage.  That’s one scenario.  Another might be that I was already operating on too much ego and that might have been the reason he strayed.  Or maybe not.  I don’t really like that scenario.  (Ego?)

Bottom line–I can’t analyze, in retrospect, the ego of D, nor of S, nor even my own with any degree of accuracy.  Therefore this exercise in self-esteem/ego is a waste of time.  To quote an elderly priest D and I used to listen to when we were on the road together: “It matters not how the donkey got in the ditch.  Just get him out.”

I hereby promise myself that I will give up the search for what caused it and just get myself out of the ditch.  I mean it!

Hello blue skies; bye-bye depression.

Blue skies                                 Smiling at me                          Nothing but blue skies                     Do I see.  ~ Irving Berlin

A brisk walk in brisk weather is a cure-all.  The sky is blue but I’m not.  I have places to go, things to do and people to see.  Better get busy.

Peace to us all in this fresh new year!


Do you talk to your GPS?  I do.  I have a female American voice whose name is Jill.  And frankly, I think she has a bit of attitude when she says, “Recalculating.”  My response is usually, “Too bad, Witch (with a b).  Just do it.  Why did you want to go that way in the first place?”  I don’t know why I haven’t changed the voice in all this time.  I’ve had her for several years.  Maybe I should try British Jane for a while.  It would be worth it to see if there’s any hint of sarcasm when she says the word.  Better still, and I don’t know why I haven’t thought of this before, maybe I should choose one of the male voices.  Wouldn’t that be fun?  A man in the car with me!  I would probably have to comb my hair and put on lipstick before hitting the road.

This card is from Recycled Paper Greetings.  To me, an animal lover, it looks a little gruesome, but since it is cartoon style, we know that Santa, elves and reindeer will hop right up and continue on their way.  Talk to your “voice.”  It’s better than not talking at all.  I think.  Maybe.

Some things I’ve learned…

Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better.  It’s  not.  ~ Dr. Seuss

I like to have a project in the works.  Now that I’m working on this banner for the Spanish community church service, I awaken in the morning eager (after I’ve had my coffee) to assess the previous day’s work and to determine what part of it I’ll do today.  It’s a joy to watch it unfold.  It gives me a goal, albeit short-term, and it engages my artistic bent which is a more dominant force now than it was in the past.  Well, I guess the bent was always there but I have more time to devote to it than when I was working and taking care of my children.

I’ve been thinking lately about the wisdom of Dr. Seuss.  I believe that he taught us so much more than reading.  The Seuss quote above comes from his book The Lorax, 1971.  It’s a powerful environmental message.  If we had learned it back in ’71 when he wrote it our planet would be in better shape than it is today.  I don’t know whether it’s on any academic required-reading lists, but it’s certainly on mine.  When I was married to D, I had my very own Lorax (environmental conscience).  I’m happy to say he’s better looking than the one you see pictured here on the book cover.  🙂  D was a recycler long before it was the thing to do.  He cared “a whole awful lot” and tried to make it better.  I thank him for that.  He raised my consciousness several levels by being that way.  I don’t think he saved any of these beautiful “Truffala Trees” but I’m pretty sure he saved some other kinds.

Two days ago another blogger, lifeandothermisadventures, commented on my post about forgiveness.  She mentioned a book that she said was helpful to her.  The book was When Things Fall Apart by Pema Chodron.  The same day I went down to my local book shop and found that book and several others by Ms Chodron.  I sat down to examine them and determined that I needed the one called Taking the Leap:  Freeing Ourselves from Old Habits and Fears.  My thinking was that 1) things fell apart quite a long while ago and 2) I still have habits and fears that I don’t want to foster any longer.  In the book that I chose there is a chapter entitled “Getting Unstuck.”   This title jumped off the page, I think, because my daughter and I had recently been discussing the fact that sometimes we get stuck in our “recovery” and we can’t seem to continue the progress we have achieved up to that point.  Old habits feel too comfortable and we are afraid to take that next step.  I’m always amazed when the stars seem to align and send me a powerful message.  The last star in this alignment was a statement in my morning uplifting message which I read in Spanish.  (I read in Spanish to try to keep my language skills up to snuff.)   I read that “too often we sit back and wait for others to change instead of taking stock and figuring out how we need to change.”  Of course I knew this already but how easily I slide back into my old habits and let my old fears consume me.

In summary, the things I’ve learned are:  I am much happier when I have a project.  I care a whole awful lot about the environment and about how I treat other people.  I can’t change others; I can only change myself and how I react to them.  I could probably use more structure in my daily routine.  And last, I’m going to Peru in May, 2012!  Woo hoo!

Learning to forgive…again…and again.

We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive.  He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love.          ~ Martin Luther King

Some lessons are harder to learn than others.  Sometimes I think I’m a really slow learner.  For example, when I learn to do something new on my computer or my cell phone, if I don’t repeat it in a few days time, I won’t remember how it’s done.  I think that learning the lesson of forgiveness works the same way for me.  It would be nice if I could simply say, “I forgive” and let it go and never have to revisit that issue again.  I certainly always mean it when I say it.  I think what happens to me is that the hurt is multilayered and has many facets.  That means that just as I let one layer fly off on butterfly wings, another layer takes its place.  Maybe the human mind is that way for a reason.  Or maybe it’s just my mind that’s weird in that way.  What I have begun to understand is that each new layer is sneaky.  I may have to wrestle with it for days before I recognize what it is.

I don’t know how accurate my self-diagnosis is but I know I need to change my approach.  I just noticed that I used the word “wrestle” in the paragraph above.  I think that word might be key to my solution (my healing).  Why am I wrestling?  My new mantra will be something like this:  “I’m relaxing into forgiveness today and every day.”  I feel better already.

An addendum:  I have written before about forgiving.  I write about it in order to sort out how difficult it is for me to manage sometimes.  I hope I don’t sound as if I am the only one who has something to forgive.  Nothing could be farther from the truth.  I won’t bother to list things I’ve done that I hope will put me on the receiving end of forgiveness.  Such a list would depress me beyond repair.

Blackbird, fly.

Blackbird singing in the dead of night                        Take these broken wings and learn to fly                         All your life                                                                         You were only waiting for this moment to arise.             ~ The Beatles

Sometimes I can see more clearly when I walk at night, figuratively speaking.  I can hear better too.  As I walked one night recently, I kept hearing the words “in the dead of night” in my mind and then I started to hum the tune  It took me a while to come up with what it was in the dead of night.  By the time I made my neighborhood jaunt twice around, I realized–“blackbird singing.”  Of course!  Blackbird singing in the dead of night.  As I pondered the notion of a bird singing at night, I noticed a waxing moon rising over the rooftops juxtaposing the street lamp, looking like the very opposite of what they actually are in terms of size.  I didn’t know what, if anything, the blackbird had to do with the moon/lamp photo, I just knew I needed to snap the scene.

My brother and I used to listen to bird sounds in the early summer evenings.  We would try to imitate them.  One of our favorites was the Northern Bob White.  It’s a type of quail and despite its name it’s very prevalent in the southeastern United States.  The Bob White’s call sounds like its name so J and I would whistle and wait expectantly for the bird to answer.  That would mean that our calls were fairly authentic, or so we thought.  Both of us were pretty good whistlers but in the world of whistlers my brother was one of the best I’ve ever heard.  He always told me that he got more responses and I agreed because he was my older brother and I adored him.  Another favorite was the Eastern Whip-poor-will  onomatopoeically-named for its call.  Again, J and I mastered the call and whip-poor-wiiiiled until the bird stopped responding or Momma called us in.  We often heard a variety of owls.  Sometimes the hoo-hoo of a Barred Owl which is the sound most people think of when they think of owls.  Occasionally we heard the eerie sound of a Screech Owl.  My brother, being the bigger wuss, was sure something was coming to get us and headed for home.  I still laugh when I think about it.

So…do blackbirds sing in the dead of night?  Indeed they do.  The male sings to claim his territory, to attract a female, or sometimes a young bird will sing just for practice.  Typically, dawn is birdsong time, but it seems that in urban areas the street lights create a false dawn and the cacophony starts early–in the dead of night.

An interesting aside about this Beatles song:  Paul McCartney said the blackbird is a symbol for the black man in the Civil Rights Era in America.  He said, “We were totally involved in the whole saga which was unfolding.  So I got the idea of using a blackbird for a black man.”  If you would like to hear the Beatles singing this song, click the link above.  Sarah Mclachlan does a beautiful version, too.  Click here if you want to hear her.  I prefer Sarah’s version.

“It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood.” ~ Mister Rogers

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and my neighbors are displaying their support with these pretty pink bows on their mailboxes.  They give the neighborhood quite a festive look, belying the seriousness of their intent.  About one in eight American women will develop invasive breast cancer in her lifetime.  The USA and the UK have the highest incidence of cases with Australia and New Zealand close behind.   Men also get breast cancer but in very small numbers compared to women, thus its status as a woman’s disease.  I didn’t mean to start this post with such a downer but I do think it’s important and deserves our attention.

I noticed as I walked today that it’s a perfect and perfectly beautiful fall day.  There are still flowers blooming in some neighbors’ yards.  This wonderful pink blossom matches the bows well, don’t you think?  This is a vine that twines around a mailbox and is still rife with blooms.  I think it’s a clematis but there are many varieties and I couldn’t find one enough like this one to make an identification.  And now I’m thinking that I don’t really care what it is as long as it continues to flourish on my neighbor’s mailbox for me and other passers-by to enjoy.  I will miss it when the first freeze nips it.

I’m starting to see a little change of color in the leaves now.  For the most part it’s a few leaves here and there and nothing to write home about, but I did spot one tree that has a fairly significant amount of color.  It’s a few doors down from my house so I can keep my eye on it as it achieves its full depth of crimson.  And that’s assuming that neither rain nor wind will wipe it out before it reaches opus status.  We never know what Mother Nature has in mind.

I’m happy to say that my walking has increased as the local temperatures have decreased.  I don’t like to whine about my health and I try not to, so I will simply say that I haven’t been feeling well for several weeks.  My walking is working wonders and I’m starting to feel better.  When I don’t feel well physically I don’t feel well emotionally.  It’s one of those “chicken or egg” puzzles.  I believe strongly that the two are connected/interdependent.  But just in case, I have an appointment with a medical doctor next week.  I’m hoping she can help me to rule out some things and maybe get to the bottom of some others.  Perhaps there will be no need to speak of it again.  That’s the outcome I expect.

I love walking the neighborhood and seeing the seasonal decorations my neighbors have displayed.  It puts me in the mood to get out my Halloween “stuff” and get in the spirit.  (Not a bad pun, huh?)  I have already put my spooky, or not so spooky, garden banners out.  I always enjoy this one.  It reminds me not to take myself too seriously.