It was a dark and stormy morn…

I awoke this morning to the guttural rumble of thunder and the heavy, constant drumming of rain on the roof.  A morning to roll over and sleep indefinitely.  A lazy Sunday.  I had family most of the week and felt a little tired, in a good sort of way.  I had passed off my Sunday morning duties at church to someone else.  Time to take a break.  Aaahhh.

Just as I was settling in for the long haul, my brain jolted and my body bolted and I realized I had a soccer match to attend.  I grabbed the phone and texted my daughter to find out if the game would be canceled.  Delayed by two hours.  Not bad.  Unfortunately the activity had thoroughly awakened me and I went down for coffee.  I guess my mother goddess didn’t intend me to sleep this morning.  The powers-that-be sent out a cancellation once I reached the point of no return.  I have no doubt the field was flooded.  We got a lot of rain.  (Soccer ball photo, Wikepedia.)

I’m happy to say, though, that I have spent the day on the couch with Lulu, reading, doing crossword puzzles, and some more mindless endeavors which I will not enumerate here.  Lulu loves all the attention.  She reminds me of Sam, a chocolate Labrador Retriever I had (my last pet).  Sam couldn’t get close enough to me.  Neither can Lulu.  I’m starting to think I may be allergic to her long hair but I’m trying hard to ignore the signs.

As the rain started to subside I stood looking out and remembering how I loved rainy days as a child.  Rainy days meant we didn’t have to work in the garden or the yard or the tobacco fields.  Then, as now, I spent much of the day with a book, or several.

Now that the rain has ceased to fall and the sun is trying to take center stage, I feel regret deep in my soul.  Why regret?  When I was a child, even a teenager, I would have put my books aside and gone outside and welcomed the downpour.  I would have squiggled my toes in the mud and I wouldn’t have worried about how wet my hair and my clothes got.  I would have felt joyful and free.  So why didn’t I do that this morning?  I didn’t think of it.  I think that’s sad.  Why didn’t I think of it?  My mom wasn’t here to give me permission?  Ah, but she was here.  She’s always with me.  And I could always talk her into letting me play in the rain as long as there was no lightning.

I’m making myself a note.  I’m going to stick it to the door or the fridge or both.  Go outside, Pat.  Play in the rain!  That’s what it’s for!

There are numerous songs about rain, and I like most of them, but this is my favorite.  It’s called “Baby the Rain Must Fall” and was featured in the movie of the same name, starring Steve McQueen and Lee Remick.  The artist is Glenn Yarbrough. 

Light one candle…or a few.

Better to light a candle than to curse the darkness. ~ Chinese Proverb

Yesterday afternoon the skies became almost nighttime black.  A storm was brewing and it looked ominous.  It hit with a fury — blinding rain, tree-bending wind, and angry thunder.  No problem.  We need the rain.  The temperature dropped to a bearable level.  I love a good summer storm.  I watched for a while from the front door, then settled in with a book.  Shortly the lights went out.

Well, I thought, there’s plenty of daylight left.  The power company will have us up and running before dark.  Sure enough, at about 6:15 the lights came on.  I high-fived the air.  As I lowered my hand the lights flickered and disappeared.

“Be prepared.” I told my best boy scout self.  I stashed my tiny travel flashlight in my pocket and put a candle and lighter on the nearest table.  With cell phone in one hand and reader in the other, I was ready to ride it out.

I LOVE modern technology.  I used my phone to go online and report the power outage.  I  read all my pending email.  (Now I need to respond to some of them.)  I played Solitaire and Sudoku on the reader.  I play those mindless games because they free up my brain and allow me to think.  I recognize that thinking sometimes gets me in trouble, but I do a lot of it all the same.

For obvious reasons, I was thinking last night about light, both figurative and literal light.  Literally, as night fell, I chose to add candles to my table in order to increase the light pool and my sense of visual security.  (See photo above.)  Figuratively, I started to wonder about the definition of light as I’ve perceived it most of my life.  I’m still working on the figurative angle, but my long-held perceptions probably come from religious/spiritual influences via my teachers’ and parents’ lessons on morals and values.

To my way of thinking, if I see the light, that’s a good thing.  It means I know which path to take.  I’m aware that I can cast a good or a bad light on any situation/person/group.  Whether I’m writing a post for my blog or figuring out what to say to someone who has stepped on my toes, if I have a little niggle in my gut that makes me wonder whether I’m doing/writing/saying the right thing, my answer is no.  If I don’t want it done to me, I shouldn’t do it to someone else.  I think of that as using my light in a positive way.

(Deep breath.)  I started this blog as a recently divorced and jilted woman.  Did I always practice what I said in the paragraph above?  No, I did not.  My excuse, if I’m allowed one, is that the pain was unbearable.  I wanted them to hurt as much as I did.  I’m healing now and I’m doing better.  At least I think I am.  That doesn’t mean I’ll stop telling the truth as I see it, but I would prefer not to strike out and hurt anyone else.  That’s not who I am.

(Another deep breath.)  A final note about casting a bad light on others.  Recently, my ten-year-old grandson told me, “Some people are prejudiced.”  I agreed.  We discussed it and I could see that he understood the concept. If your humor or entertainment consists of denigrating others, my boy would call that prejudice.  Have a nice day.

Nothing but blue skies do I see…..

Divorce–the “gift” that keeps on giving.

The painting on the left is called  Transluscent Fragments of a Broken Family.  The painter is Kenneth Agnello.  Click here for information on buying the original.  I find the painting both haunting and beautiful.  Perhaps that’s a good thing.  It makes me feel hopeful on some indefinable level.

I recently declared myself finished with divorce (on this site).  Okay, I didn’t say that to you, but I whispered it to myself.  I thought I could no longer be hurt by it.  I discovered last weekend that even though the divorce no longer has power over me, that is, power to hurt me as it once did, still I hurt when a child or a grandchild is hurting as a result of the actions of other parties involved.

On Saturday, my ex-husband D and his lady-love got married.  That’s fine.  I wish them happiness.  Really, I do.  Here’s the thing–they chose not to invite one of his stepdaughters to the wedding.  The other two were invited.  That meant that one young teenage granddaughter who would have liked going and being there with her cousins could not attend because her little segment of the family was excluded.  She reacted with anger, but it was not anger she was feeling.  The show of anger was a cover for the inner pain she was suffering.

I cannot begin to imagine what sort of thinking went into their decision; I can only conclude that the D I lived with and loved those many years would never have imposed that sort of punishment on an innocent child.  How I wish I could have protected her.

Tonight I am sad.  Once again I have a tear in my eye.  I thought I had shed them all.

My life…a project?

It takes half your life before you discover life is a do-it-yourself project. ~ Napoleon Hill

My response to the above quote:  For some of us, it takes more than half.

My life is a series of projects but I don’t know that I have ever thought of my life as one of them.  I don’t know why not as I can make a project of almost anything–mowing the lawn (front yard today, back yard tomorrow), painting the bathroom (This one has been in the planning stages for about four years now.), running errands (I have a specific order so that I make the best use of my time, gas, etc.)  You name it, I can usually create a project around it.

Sometimes my self-confidence is greater than my ability, especially artistic projects such as the one pictured here, which is now underway.  I’m reading a book called The Scent of God: A Memoir by Beryl Singleton Bissell.  As I was reading today, I highlighted the following passage: …I possessed an outsized sense of my abilities and set to work with gusto.  There is so much me in that statement that I laughed aloud when I read it.  I start out with grand ideas of a masterpiece and usually end up with “adequate.”  I seldom, if ever, meet my own expectations, but I do get compliments, and even praise, from others.
Of course many of my projects are for church and church folks are usually nice, and grateful for my effort.  Knowing that maybe they are just being nice helps me to keep a perspective, but it doesn’t slow me down at all because I must create and play with color.  It’s intrinsic; it’s who I am.  I don’t have a choice.

What about the project that is my life?  I’m not a list maker.  Well, I make mental lists all the time but I seldom write them out.  Maybe I should.  I don’t know.  I think making lists, mental or otherwise, is a way of stating goals.  Over the years I’ve made and achieved numerous goals.  I have to admit to you and to myself, though, that my retirement has not always been goal-specific.  In other words, I haven’t made a project of it.  I consider that a mistake and I’m working to change it.  Take heed, you readers who are younger than I.  That would be most of you. 🙂

This paragraph would go under the heading of “thinking out loud.”  Thank you for indulging me.  I think it has taken me longer than average to get beyond the fairy tale aspect of my marriage and life in general.  I always thought of my ex as “the love of my life.”  That sounds absurd to me now.  It’s as if I made him my project.  Does that make sense?  That must have put a hell of a lot of pressure on him and our marriage.  My goal/project should have been our goal–our marriage, our life together.  When it turned out that we no longer had that common goal, it would have been nice if we could have talked about it.  We didn’t.  It is done.  Now I must remind myself that I would not have learned all these  lessons by staying in what had become a stagnant relationship.

Note:  My blogger friend Kim has a list of her favorite books on her blog.  That’s where I found the memoir I mentioned above.  Check it out.

Who’s on first?

Have you ever explained something to someone and neither of you understood what the other was trying to say?  When no matter what you said you couldn’t make your message clear?  It becomes a comedy of errors sometimes and you just have to laugh about it.  Abbott and Costello did a skit called “Who’s on first?” in their 1945 movie The Naughty Nineties, which perfectly demonstrates what I’m talking about.  It gets funnier every time I hear it.  Click here if you’d like to watch the clip.  If you’re a baseball fan you’ll love this. It’s a classic.  And hilarious even if you’re not a fan.

I recently had a conversation with a woman at church.  We were making plans to combine the Portuguese and Spanish services on Sunday and I asked her a question about the order of songs in the service.  I usually create the schedule, with the help of the pastor, on Friday night at rehearsal.  This time a third party, M, had set up the schedule.  She didn’t understand what I was asking and I was clumsily trying to explain.  After a bit of incomplete/incompetent (on my part) dialogue, I looked at her and said, “I don’t understand.”  She replied just as simply, “What don’t you understand?”  Aaarrgghh!  Deadlock.  I’m laughing as I recall this incident.  As it turns out, it was my not understanding the Portuguese that was causing the problem.  I realized that after she went back to rehearsing her music and I was able to focus singly on what was in front of me.  As soon as I caught her eye, I gave her a thumbs up to let her know I had resolved my issue.  Fortunately we are both mature enough to realize it was no big deal.  Unfortunately, that’s not always the case.

On a more serious note, have you ever tried to communicate with someone who doesn’t want/refuses to communicate with you?  Well, I have and it isn’t pretty.  The last years of our marriage I begged D to talk to me.  He wouldn’t.  Or maybe he couldn’t.  I guess I’ll never know which but the one thing I do know clearly and without doubt–we weren’t talking.  And I know what I think–he had already removed himself from our marriage.  His mind, along with his conversation, was elsewhere.  Once communication has broken down, the door is wide open for miscommunication to occur.  One partner will take a word, a phrase, or even a small sentence and isolate it and obsess over it and make it into something much worse than it was ever intended to be.  It’s so sad when that happens because it’s proof that real interactive dialogue is gone and the relationship is taking a nose dive.

I remember one time when I knew we weren’t connecting with each other verbally, and  I decided I should write him a letter.  (Back in the early days of our courtship D would write me long, sweet letters.  I still have them.)  So I wrote him a letter explaining my feelings about something; I don’t remember what, but probably our inability to communicate.  I closed by saying that either he didn’t get it or he didn’t care.  I also told him I preferred to think it was the former.  After a slow and difficult separation and divorce, I finally had to acknowledge it was the latter.  He got it.

An aside:  If my sweet brother Jack were alive, he would be 71 today.  He hated sharing his birthday with Ronald Reagan.  🙂    I still miss him. 😦

Things don’t make me happy.

I don’t need … things to make me happy.  A nice quiet place to unwind at the end of the day, beautiful views, a few good friends.  What else is there? ~ Nicholas Sparks

I chuckle as I look at the beginnings of this post.  First the title approached me all on its own.  Days later I found this quote which seemed to support the title.  Then I remembered Dr. Seuss’s “things” and I couldn’t resist bringing them along.  I think they lend levity to what could be a serious, even heavy, topic.  My love of Dr. Seuss grows day by day.  Who else has consistently encouraged children (and their parents) to make up a word that sounds right when you can’t think of an appropriate, existing word?  Love it!

Back to the topic at hand.  For several months I have been thinking about my years of accumulating “things.”  Why did I ever imagine I needed so much stuff?  And why do I keep things I no longer use? (I can honestly say I’m making progress on this one.)  When I moved here I was aware that one person didn’t need this much space but I  needed room for my stuff.

I spent a great deal of time alone when we lived in the mountains and I often got very lonely.  I would go shopping just to get out of the house.  And the house was so big that I could always find a new rug, a piece of pottery, a painting to enhance its appearance.  I occasionally bought clothing, but more often it was something for my showplace of a house.  It’s as if I were trying to fix a gaping wound with a band-aid.  (I got that last sentence from my oldest daughter.)  There was a hole in my soul and I was trying to fill it in all the wrong ways.

Now as I sift through my belongings I feel sad, embarrassed, greedy, overwhelmed, selfish.  I could go on with the adjectives without even consulting a thesaurus.  Suffice to say I don’t like who I was, but I’m now making positive changes.  I cringe when I think about those years and realize I could have been supporting several third world families on the money I spent on stuff.  What was I thinking?!

So here I sit in a house that is less than half the size of the previous one, yet it’s still big enough for a family of five or six.  (Talk about a carbon footprint!  Egad!)  I’m trying to bide my time until the real estate market rebounds so I can sell this place and find a more appropriate home.  I try not to think about the fact that the money could have been better invested since I truly believe I did the best I could under the circumstances and given the emotional trauma and pain I was in at the time.

I think I’m finally on the right track.  I consider very carefully before I buy anything.  I make better choices than I once did.  I don’t buy things for the house.  The house and I are becoming happier as the clutter decreases.  They say that it sometimes takes a jolt, a shock, even a tragedy to force a needed change on some people, so I guess they’re talking about me.  As I inch toward the person I really am, the person I’m meant to be, the trauma and pain continue to diminish.  One day, maybe I’ll be able to look back and thank D for this divorce.

Writing this caused me to cry a little, but not too much.  And now I feel better.  If you’ve read this far, thank you.

All the wrong reasons.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    

All the Wrong Reasons                                                                                                       ~ Tom Petty, Jeff Lynne

Trouble blew in on a cold dark wind
It came without no warning
And that big ol’ house went up for sale
They were on the road by morning
Oh, the days went slow, into the changing season
Oh, out in the cold, for all the wrong reasons

Well she grew up hard and she grew up fast
In the age of television
And she made a vow to have it all
It became her new religion
Oh, down in her soul, it was an act of treason
Oh, down they go for all the wrong reasons

Where the sky begins the horizon ends
Despite the best intentions
And a big ol’ man goes up for sale
He becomes his own invention
Oh, the days go slow into the changing season
Oh, bought and sold, for all the wrong reasons
Oh, down they go for all the wrong reasons

This song has taken up residence in my brain.  Not just the tune, but the words as well.  Some singer/songwriter poems stand alone.  Bob Dylan’s and Leonard Cohen’s work, for example.  Those guys are true poets in my opinion.  This one by Tom Petty and Jeff Lynne needs to be sung.  With the music, the Oh becomes Oh, oh, oh, oh.  But even when I quadruple the word, reading it doesn’t strike the same chord (no pun intended) as when TP sings it.  I want to share it with you to find out if others feel the same way.  Click here to listen.

I’ve tried for days to figure out what I’m supposed to learn here, if anything.  It has caused me to reflect in a way that I wouldn’t have, had my daughter not given me the CD for Christmas.  I wonder how much of what we do when we’re young do we do with intention and logic and an eye to the greater good.  It’s not that I think I had sinister motives ever; it’s just that I wasn’t mature/experienced enough to understand the far-reaching consequences of my decisions.  I think the same is true of most people; and in particular, I give that bit of grace to D, my ex-husband.