Saying Goodbye…and Hello…

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I said goodbye to New England over the past few weeks and it hit me hard. Although I moved away eight years ago, a friends guest room in Connecticut “had my name on it” and the welcome mat of my son’s Boston apartment regularly welcomed me, so I still had two great places to “hang my hat” whenever I was inclined to come up north for a visit. I realized with my Adios that I had only said Hasta la vista before now and over these weeks I have been digesting this while helping to pack up both of those cozy havens, filling boxes and bubble wrapping artwork for their next homes, one in Central Florida and the other in Southern California. Not until I got in the car to drive away from both these “second” homes, did I feel the full effects of their loss.

The house in Connecticut “closed” and the last box in Boston lay ready for the moving truck as I headed south to spend a little time in my hometown of Breezy Point, New York. Driving past the Copley exit on the Mass Pike, emotions gripped me, ones so guttural that I almost had to pull over. Thankful for leftover Starbucks napkins in my car’s console, I wiped the tears before they hit my lap and kept on keeping on along the highway. The salty drops wanting to fall were ones of love and joy, of sorrow and regret, of success and failure, laughter and grief. They represented feelings never felt and others addressed but clearly not fully processed until now. There were also tears of hope and promise as I thought of my son and his fiance, about to begin the next leg of their journey across the country as he focuses on a job promotion out west.

The sentiment surfacing as I watched the city disappear in the background was simultaneously gratitude and resentment. The two coupled might have confused me in their pairing but I understood that the latter was just an old habit trying to insist that I cave and turn it inward. “No thank you,” I have too much practice now in gratitude taking precedence over the tug of resentment around past choices. The feelings rising from deep inside me were overwhelming in their own right, but together with the breathtaking view quickly being relegated to the rear view mirror, they could have unnerved me if not for all that I have to look forward to back at home, the one my husband waits for me to get back to down south.

Still, tears pressed at my eyes until they were no longer containable by a few measly brown napkins. They were ones of grace, of holding on and letting go, forgiveness and understanding. Tears of loss for former homes and decorations left behind, for reminders of walks to work at 100 Federal Street, to coffees on Newbury Street, shopping on Greenwich Avenue and ice creams with friends at JP Licks. As I cried, finally unabashedly, it was for what I didn’t know when I lived up here that I wish I had and for what I did know that I sincerely wished I hadn’t. I cried for love covered in fear and fear covered in anger, for defenses, offenses, boundary lines and lack of each. For a devastating miscarriage, nine years ago while living here and for my healthy grown son who will always my little boy no matter where he lives, no matter what.

The tears spilled for all that took place in New England and for all that might have so long ago. Wait, was it really a mere eight years ago when I left? It seems like forever.

This trip that I have been on, up here in New England, a journey a month in duration covering tracks back and forth and back and forth again Connecticut, Boston and lastly New York has been a lifetime in itself. All that transpired over these weeks, leads me to believe that the universe is conspiring to put things in place for me. In jest (I think) I was asked whether I was ill, because I was told that from the outside looking in it seemed as if I was getting my affairs in order. Situations crossed my path offering chances for amends, both mine and others, in such a way that God was clearly asking me to work at dotting and crossing some as yet un-dotted and uncrossed i’s and t’s in my life. During these weeks, had I been a witness, I would have watched myself right-sizing things before my eyes and although I was the main player, what was happening around me was absolutely orchestrated by the source I know as God and his universal actions.

The simultaneous letting go of both of my havens in New England was perhaps nothing short of divine intervention. Each brought with them opportunities to be of service and to say goodbye to the Northeast and hello to Florida on yet a deeper level. The serendipitous events happening so regularly during my recent stay made it so that all I could do was chuckle at God’s grace. Things like going to see my childhood home and witnessing it standing ready for a tear down felt like some sort of last hurrah moment and the smell of honeysuckle in the backyard took me back, so far back.

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Impromptu conversations were filled with blasts from the past, as I bumped, literally, into old friends, a former beau and even my ex-husband (no joke). All of these occurrences seemed part of some divine plan for my future peace on an out of this world or other dimensional level. To top things off, I spent many hours with my very first mentor who is terminally ill and she so clearly said a graceful goodbye to me on our last visit, even before she leaves this earth, with her eyes and the squeezes of my hand.

The bicycle rides my cousin and I took some mornings were among the best parts of my time here. We covered turf I knew by heart as a child, turf that now looks different but still hosts so many memories. As we rode, I recognized that home has really been so many places for me. Getting to spend time visiting the town I grew up in, the one rebuilt and reborn after a hurricane named Sandy’s devastation a few years ago has helped me to come home in my heart. Within all the pieces and parts that took place over these past thirty days or so, I recognize that I am truly committed in my efforts to maintain a purposeful life no matter where my feet are or where they will be going forward.

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I am on my way home today; headed south after packing and carrying, moving and cleaning. Heading back to where I happily live after spending time trying to be available to the friend with the guest room and to my son (and his fiance) who always stood at the doorways of their houses with open arms. The boxes we filled with fragile things will be trekked south and west across the country. Glasses wrapped tightly await wine and lemonade of future guests in new dining rooms and on new porches. Framed photos in tissue now, will soon be on new walls or old relocated bookshelves. They will say, “Remember me, this moment, this Kodak one, the one you captured in my smile when we were in that other place?”

As I drive away from Boston now, for good, or at least for now for good, I wonder if perhaps someday I will live here again with my husband, near to some of our future grandchildren. If so, however it will be several years away, so for now my son and future daughter-in-law head to California, my friends to the sunshine state and I … I drive towards home. I head home to my husband who never once asked me to come back before I was ready to during these eventful weeks. My husband who understood that I needed to pack every box I packed and to wrap every glass I wrapped in paper, even though they were not even my glasses, my boxes. I needed to touch everything I touched before it went onto a moving truck, not just the one that would be driving these things to their next destination, but the quasi-moving truck in my heart.

Yes, I am on my way home now thankfully, satiated in my heart in so many ways. This trip has been exhausting but I would not have changed a moment of it. The time I spent with my cousins, brothers, nieces, nephews, childhood friends and mentor could never be valued because they are priceless. Thank you that I got to say goodbye during two funerals that took place while I was here and may those help me to remember how fast it all goes. Thank you for so many things that have fallen into place in my life, these past few weeks and even before. Thank you for the order that has been availed in areas apparently needing order. Thank you that I am not sick, whew, but “oh so well” and oh so joyful. Thank you for readiness for the next chapter, the one I pray will be a healthy happy one for all of us travelers, wherever we are, wherever we go and wherever we come home to.

 

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It’s All About YOUR Bass! YOUR Treble!

It’s all about that bass, about that bass…no treble…

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Dang, I LOVE that Youtube video! I love watching the confident shakes and cocky smiles on Meghan Trainor and her video cast. I love the simple girliness and wish, wish, wish that more young women, heck any women, would feel comfortable enough to move like that.

I was watching it recently and wishing I could help to make a profound change in the way women in our society see themselves! Shortly afterwards, I was sent a blog post by email.

Over my years sponsoring women and “working a program” I have discovered that although they come into “the rooms” looking to stay sober a day at a time, there is so much more that they are really looking for. Most of them are searching for a way to love themselves. To own their “booty,” whatever size it is. And to learn that it really is all about getting to a place of being raw and confident and shaking it, no matter what its’ size the way Meghan Trainor does.  “It’s all about [their] bass!” Sometimes these women that come into my life are easy going. They show up ready and eager to take suggestions. In the fellowship we call it “willing to go to any length.” But more often they only “think” they are willing. And that’s where the opportunity comes in for me to grow with God.

The blog I read today was by one of these women. She is someone that I sponsored for a few years. In it, she wrote about a suggestion I had given her. It is one that I have given often over the years, to stand before the mirror every day and say, “You Go Girl!” As I read, I began thinking about all the women along the way that I have said that to. All the times I have chuckled over that advice and the gallons of coffee consumed while doing so at Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts. I thought about all the moments shared, some wonderful but many frustrating. And I felt grateful that through all of them I have been willing to offer whatever I had to give, even if sometimes it was simply the message of “You GO girl!”

In this blog, the woman owned that she really didn’t “like me” along the way. And as I read, I had a moment of grace, knowing that I was receiving a gift. It was so helpful, so unbelievably helpful to read her words, because I realized that I hadn’t been wrong. I had often felt that dislike in my gut, but hoped it wasn’t true, so I remained willing to be willing to help anyway. I continued working to love her until she could love herself, because it was what my heart told me to do. What had been done for me.

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As I was reading her words, I was thinking of when I started this little blog a few years back and shared it with her. Now, reading the blog she has started, I realized that I had done my job. The one that God had asked me to do for her. And I felt a desire to watch the Youtube video again and shake my booty along with Meghan. And all I could think of as I did so was, “You GO girl!”

~ Honoring Where Love Comes From ~

In a prior blog I wrote about not getting stuck in frustration because love isn’t coming from where you think it should and honoring where it is coming from.

That hit home for me today. I was loved and honored. I was validated and reminded that all is right and good in my world today. I was not judged, not even for an instant and I was set free from a crippling need to be right in a situation that was not mine to be right in. I was heard and was told that we all sometimes are afraid and we all make mistakes once in awhile. I was guided back to my core of serenity – gently, gracefully and patiently and reminded to have gratitude for how much I have and how far I have come.

I was Loved.

Once again today I was gently nudged by my soul sister, nudged to look towards the direction of God’s arms which were wide open and ready to embrace me. And ever so graciously, I was told that because I overlooked that they were also wide open yesterday, and I forgot to be grateful then, it doesn’t mean I failed.

I was Honored.

When I shared that yesterday’s truth was shadowed in an instant and triggers rose so rapidly that everything I know to be real and true and good was negated, I was told that “it’s OK.” After speaking about my need to be protected, winning over proof that there was nothing to be protected from, I received a smile and a nod of understanding. And when I expressed that I forgot to remember that we are all doing the best we can and already are perfect in the eyes of our Creator, I was reminded that “I am human.” I was shown very gently, that I do not today, or ever have to apologize for stumbling, because we all do sometimes.

I was Validated.

After sharing that sometimes what I “feel” seems so true, even though I know that “feelings aren’t facts,” we were able to chuckle. And confiding that “somewhere deep down in the recesses beyond my need to be right,” I know that I am often wrong,” provided us with a belly laugh. Then, when I asked why these feelings, these emotions sometimes become so palpable that they take over, I was offered a hug. And in the next moment I was thanked for a time long before today, when I had been able to love, to honor and to validate my beautiful soul sister in the same way she was doing for me today. A time when I was remembering all the good things there are to remember and was grateful. A time where I wasn’t forgetting.

And all of that, to me, is Love. The listening, the hearing, the speaking, the laughter, the hugs, the tears and the smiles. The sharing, the reminding, the hard truth, the soft landings, the back and forth and the taking turns with all of it. And right now I am focused on where I got this Love from today and not on where I didn’t get it from yesterday because of all the human-ness that got in the way.

And now I know, again, until I forget and need another reminder, that if or when I become stuck in “how something makes me feel” so rapidly that everything else falls away, I will get through. And if my feelings try to take on a life of their own and I start to lose sight of God’s open arms or of how much there is to be grateful for, I can remember today’s chuckle or smile or hug.
I think I can. Wait, I’m sure I can. Because I was Honored. I was Validated. I am Loved.

Stylish Woman

“Who is that woman over there, the one so put together?” “How does she do it?” “What’s her secret?” “Why do we notice her?” “What is it about her that makes her seem so comfortable in her skin? It’s simple. After years of trying to figure out what the latest fashion trends and “musts” were, she now makes her own fashion statement. She is herself. And part of that statement comes across with the first thing she puts on even before she opens up her closet door. The thing she wears each morning even before selecting her garb of choice for the day. Her fifty something smile, the one that knows that there are no fashion rules to follow because there are no “they” out there making them.

This smile is the one she wears each day that says “I am going to be comfortable both in what I wear and in how I feel because I decide I am.” The one that knows if she wears whatever she wears, with a “rock star attitude,” that she will pull it off beautifully and without breaking the bank on the latest Vogue must.

The smile that, as a necessary undergarment, reminds her of her daily decision to be grateful and happy with who she is and to be comfortable in her wonderful self. The one that radiates energy and then reflects back to her a confidence that she owns for herself before exuding it to others. The one that never goes out of style.

After the smile, the next thing she selects is her lingerie. Her choices are based on items that are fresh and crisp, not a loose thread or snag in sight. Always bright and clean, never shabby, slightly worn out or tattered, they are pristine, always soft, always silky and always sexy even if she will be the only one to notice that day (although her man often does too). She is dressing lovely for herself these days, first and foremost, and that’s what makes all the difference. Like the artist’s first coat over her primer smile this layer sets the tone for what will be worn above and its’ whispers of lace always put an extra bounce in her step. She has learned that this area of splurging is utterly worth it because these articles remind her of her perfect femininity in a world that seems to question its’ perfection. Because she cares about her comfort as a priority, she is unwilling to be distracted or annoyed by an uncomfortable clasp or too tight bodice just to look good, and the selection here each day is critical. But always there is silk or lace or satin, because it feels so delicious on her skin. It is a must for her these days.

The next choice depends on what’s up for the day. Is it work that beckons or play? A sporting event or the theater? A casual walk or a date for lunch or dinner? Her itinerary matters to select what is worn, but how she wears the selection matters even more. Today it will be a skirt. The hems offered in her closet are mostly mini since she’s got great calves and is not afraid to show them. She doesn’t believe in fashion rules based on age and knows that she will rock the navy Calvin Klein that she opts for today. Her blouse of choice is an antique white silk with tortoise buttons that will be great over her camisole. She selects a pair of low heels in navy and is more than OK with this decision. Since she admittedly always struggled in her six inch heels, they are now six feet under, replaced by a lower more comfortable option which still gives her a lift without rendering her off balance. To finish off her wardrobe for the day she picks a red wool shawl. It’s Bergdorffs’ label and she has them in every color as one of her signature staples.

The shawls remind her of her fashionista grandmother who showed that shawls are not just for little old ladies, because even at seventy three “she” had never, ever resembled a little old lady. “Keep your fashion statement simple,” her grandmother would say as she sprayed her Chanel No. 5. “Simple but classy,” like Coco Chanel. And after closing the closet door for today, our fifty something woman is ready. She reaches for her Chanel of choice from the vanity. It is No. 22, and with it she gives the room a spritz before walking through the mist. It’s off to have a day. A wonderful stylish and classy day. She is ready for it. Ready, willing and able and she never even looked through Vogue to find out what to wear. Maybe she should write to them and tell them about the smile.

PURPOSE!

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Sitting with coffee this morning my thoughts go to “Purpose.” Taking small sips while allowing the word to be my mind’s focus I breathe, in slowly, out slowly.
The house in morning stillness, that awesome quiet wonder it sits in until it wakes after I wake, there is nothing on my mind but this seven letter word. And slowly, gradually, yet within seconds, I have come to a place within this place. A home within this home I sit in and I breathe.

Yes, this place of arrival is one I have been to before, but each day there is a necessary remembering to get back here. To this place of purpose, of fulfillment, of grace.

“Purpose.”

Breathing in and out still, the coffee mug in front of me now forgotten, lungs filling to capacity and then emptying slowly only to fill again, there is a sense of awe.

And I wonder: What can be done today? What can I DO? Why am I here? I mean HERE? Is there some piece of life’s puzzle that will come to me today? Some tiny mis-shapen solution that will fit so perfectly into the reason for all of it? At least for today? A sense of ‘“yes” I have found it’ that will come to me? I wonder. And as my shoulders move up and down with my breath there comes a knowing. “Yes,”

Sitting still and focusing on this simple word, within an instant I feel source energy pulsating through me. Inside of me. Ah, the wonder at the sudden realization that blood flows even now in the stillness around me, that it is traveling through my veins, working, awake inside of me. Heading instinctively to cells and organs on a mission, with a purpose.

And there is a sense that all of it is so important suddenly. That maybe I am important. That perhaps all of the work I can suddenly feel going on inside of me at this moment, right now to sustain me is important.

Remembering the cup in front of me I am brought back to my surroundings. And the house awakens. Taking a big gulp of morning’s elixir I open the laptop and check the thesaurus – “Purpose.”

Purpose: Reason, Point, Aim, Use, Goal, Objective, End, Resolve, Persistence, Perseverance, Target, Tenacity, Principle, Idea.

This seven letter word crossing my mind this morning has put my head a little higher, my shoulders back a little taller, my brow has unwrinkled just a bit, my heart feels full. Really. And for today I know there is a reason. I know that there is something that I can do, will do that will be part of it. Part of the plan that the universe knows and holds in trust. The puzzle piece will find its way, perhaps without my knowing. But it will be placed where it goes. It may be in the corner, or in the middle, but it will go in, because I have decided to work towards it.

I am grateful. I have a Purpose. For today.