This Thanksgiving

This Thanksgiving is about giving thanks, of course. And in that sense, I am very thankful for my friends. They have been my heart, soul, strength and more. It has been a tough year, but you they managed to keep me smiling, laughing, breathing, moving, and being. I could not have made it through without them. For everything, all the little (and not so little) things they have done for me that no one knows about, all the conversations, all the hugs, all the support, all the loyalty, all the LOVE. I made it because I stand on the shoulders of giants and angels. They mean the world to me.

Through all of the hard times, heart breaks, break ups, funerals, services, clean ups, break downs, cry fests, confusion, all of it, they were there.

Be a lamp, or a life boat, or a ladder. Help Someone’s soul heal. – Rumi

Life events happen sometimes that cause us to completely redefine not only who we are, but our life as well.  And when those events happen, it is almost like learning to walk again.  things that seemed so basic before, not must be relearned.  New paths in the brain must be made.  We must learn what that “new” looks like, and feels like.  We must get comfortable in our new clothes, so to speak, and learn to wear this new life, rather than it wearing us.

And this Thanksgiving it is also about new traditions.  I cancelled my travels to make sure that I am home for certain things. Funny how priorities can shift in a heartbeat. Tonight friends are coming over for the first annual Thanksgiving Taco Dinner – a new tradition for the night before the big feast.  Everyone loves tacos. They are easy to fix, fun to eat, and a breeze to clean up.

Heading over to a wonderful friend’s house for the day for Thanksgiving. Catching up with my girlfriends, laughing, crying and reflecting about the year. And maybe a glass of wine or five. Lot’s of food and good stuff.

But the other new holiday tradition, is having time for myself.  I need to get my house in order, get a few things organized. Hanging some pictures, finish some unpacking, making sure that I am OK for the next leg of this adventure called life.  Taking some time to breath and be solid.  Going to church, praying, and reading.

I love my life, as I have fought hard to get here.  Now I must make sure that I am capable and worthy of the life that I have been given.  And to celebrate with the wonderful people who are in my life as well.

I am surrounded by love, more love than I knew was even out there.  I have found my roots in the love and loyalty of my friends. My parents taught me how to be discerning in who is in your life and why.  A lesson that has served me well after they’ve been gone.  They knew that one day they would go from being my roots, to being the foundation upon which I build the rest of my life afterward. And I know that they are with me, even as I miss them so much.

To be honest, not much could be worse than last Thanksgiving.  The first holiday without Mom. I was depressed and grieving, as was Dad.  My relationship with my now ex was falling apart, even as I desperately tried to hang on. My Almost-in-laws were wonderful though, even setting a place for my mother at their dinner table, so we would feel like she was with us. The weekend was filled with sadness, grief, strive, arguing and being overwhelmed.  It was the end of the beginning in so many ways. That was when I realized that I was truly alone. And it terrified me.

What a difference a year makes.  Even though both of my parents are gone, even though that relationship is long since over, I am less alone now, and more surrounded by love, than I was at this time last year.  I am blessed. So raise a glass to This Thanksgiving.  It will be a first, but not the last, of it’s kind.

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The New Thanksgiving

This year is the year of the new Thanksgiving.  For me it is a time to find myself and the balance between honoring the old and making the new.  It is the acceptance that while the holidays of my childhood are gone, this is the time to honor and find myself.  It is a time to be with love 0 love of my family that remains, love of my wonderful friends, love of my life and love of the future.

This year, while strange and new, also shows me how much I have to be thankful for.  I am thankful to have had my parents for 43 wonderful holiday seasons.  I am thankful for the wonderful memories they created and the magic that was Thanksgiving and Christmas.  I am thankful that they loved me enough for a lifetime.

I am thankful for the family that I have.  Thankful for the love and family and friends during this time. I am thankful for the people i have met this year who will no doubt be a part of my life for many years to come.  I am thankful for all of the love and kindness.  I am thankful that I dodged a bullet and did not end up with my ex. I am thankful to be able to give and express love, to be able to accept love from others.  I am excited to be smarter, but not jaded after this past year.  And I am thankful for the smiles and laughter I have and will have.  I am thankful for my beautiful home that is safe and warm.  Thankful for an incredible career that I love, thankful for all that is in my heart.

This is a new Thanksgiving.  The circle is almost complete, and soon, another year will be done.  And a new year will start. And I will raise my glass, love my people and live life to the fullest.

Love in the 50th Year

The were married 50 years ago today, in a small town on Florida town. I usually had to remind them what day it was.  They always got a kick out of finding out.  They loved each other so much.

Their anniversary was always the start of the holiday season and the start of everything happy and festive.  This year is different.  It is the first holiday season without them.  It is the first year that I am alone.  Except that I am not alone.

I have so much love surrounding me this holiday season that it is magic.  While this holiday season will have it’s melancholy moments, and there is no way to escape that, it will also be better than I thought it would.  There is love everywhere I look.  I cannot go back to the way the holidays were, but I can move forward and celebrate the new life I have and am making in front of me. I can let my friends and love ones hold me in those sad moments, barrow their love and strength.  And I can smile and laugh through tears.

Mom and Dad, I love you and miss you every day, so very much.  But you raised me to be strong and get on with life.  You raised me to make you proud, you raised me to rise.  Happy 50th anniversary, to the best parents in the world. I was so blessed to have you as my parents, to you have you as examples of how love should be.  To have parents who loved me enough for a lifetime.

Magical Navarre

There are times when we all must get away, administer some self care and have some fun. For me it was needed especially before the holidays.  It was a spontaneous trip, but one that sounded wonderful – Navarre beach in the cool weather.

And indeed it was.  The weather was perfect, warm during the day and, cool at night.  There was quiet time walking on the beach at night, wading in the cool water, chasing the waves and watching the tide roll in.  The waves crashing on the shore is one of my favorite sounds in the world.  It is bliss.

The beach is bliss, at least to me.  A place to recharge and find adventure. Between the waves, the sand, the food, the drinks, the hot tubs and the bliss, the beach is perfect.

When we are in our favorite places to recharge, it seems that that is were the magic happens. Maybe because we are open and care free, maybe because we are taking the time to really listen to ourselves and appreciate life. Maybe because we feel safe.

And sure enough, that was the case with me. And something else magic happened as well.  My parent’s 50th wedding anniversary is today, they were married November 21, 1967 In Jasper, Florida.  While I was the Beach I wrote a letter to them, on a small piece of paper the waitress gave me. I wrote the letter right after lunch, and my eyes misted as the words formed on the paper. The letter was short, but sweet and heartfelt. And for the first time I let someone else read it, the message to my beautiful parents. I let my vulnerability show and gently gave the sheet of paper to another hand,  for another set of eyes to read and another heart to feel.

And then it was time to go into the water.  The water was at first cold on my feet, but I quickly acclimated and soon it felt wonderful.  It was cleansing in a way it had not been before.  The waves were big and the tide was strong as I swam.  I had, the letter in my hand and by the time I looked down, part of it was already gone; the angels on the tide anxious to give it my my parents.  And so I swam a bit more, chose a wave, and released the remaining part of the letter and smiled.  I knew my parents were there, smiling with me, holding hands in the mist of the sea, gently caressing my cheeks and the waves washed away the grime and sadness of the months prior. To let go and let be, to mentally prepare for the last celebrations of the year, and the coming of all that is next.

It was magic.

And the rest of the weekend was spent in quiet calm, in smiles and laughter, in appreciation and in fun.  The food was good, the drinks were cold, the music was festive, the beach was wonderful.  I came back simultaneously tired and invigorated, ready to start the holiday season, keeping what is important close to my heart.  The magic of the beach is exactly what was needed.

Oh Navarre beach, I will return to you soon, you magical place.

 

 

The Blessed Risk Takers

Blessed are the risk takers, soothsayers and poets; the empaths, the impassioned and the alchemists.  For they are the ones who know the joy and pain and pleasure of humanity.

I have often written about taking risks and always remaining curious about the world around you. I believe this with all my being. It is one of my theories in life that when you stop being curious about the world around you, about life in general and the people in it, then you stop growing.  You cease to truly live and are only existing.

So much joy is found in asking questions and discovering the world around you.  The people, the stories, the adventures.  Life is amazingly beautiful, if you take the time to look around.

It has been a while since I have been able to truly be curious about life and all the miracles involved. Healing, planning, organizing, and general upkeep took a lot of my energy. It took all of my energy actually.  It reminds me of the song:

A time to be born, a time to die
A time to plant, a time to reap
A time to kill, a time to heal
A time to laugh, a time to weep…

A time to build up, a time to break down
A time to dance, a time to mourn

…and sometimes it is necessary to take some time from all that is magical and external, to heal what is sacredly internal.  But when that time is done…

We often feel as if we are bursting at the seams with life, opportunity and adventure.  As if the door has flung open on a spring day after a long, cold winter. It is as if we are seeing the world in color for the first time and cannot get enough of the colors.  The hard times makes us feel joy from such a deeper place than before, that it’s almost blinding in a warm and wonderful way.

I was afraid this holiday season would be filled with sadness and grief.  Indeed, it is there, just below the surface.  But I hear my mother’s voice, see my father’s gentle smile, and know my best friend Rex’s words of enjoying every taste of life is possible.  I hope I make them all proud.  In a way, I am living life for the three of them too….I am forging my own way, creating new traditions, as I carry them with me, I carry their hearts in my heart (thank you ee cummings). They are with me, everywhere, in everything I do and see and say. Their love tickling my heart as I smile and look up at the sun, feeling the warmth.

And I am back to myself. I am taking risks, blazing my path forward. Love of life, thirst for knowledge and a hunger for love are guiding me, but mostly, prayer and the Hand of God, as He directs my path. I am willing. I am done waiting.  I am ready. Life is here. I will be like a sponge and drink every drop of every magical moment.  I will discover what is behind the wall, the curtain, the door.  And all of it is mine for the taking, I do not have to choose.

I will smile, and laugh, and love, and kiss, and have wine, and be with friends, and make memories, and be with family, and those who I love and who love me the best and most.  I will sit by the fireside, making moments at the hearth of life.  I will love life with all that I have in me, with every fiber of my being, with a calm cool passion that will burn those who are not worthy of a seat at my table.  Once again, my heart beats fiercely and freely.  The air is crisp in my lungs and the Earth is soft under my feet. With faith lading me, love calling me, and life lighting the path, nothing is impossible.

Hang on, it is going to be an incredible adventure.

Waiting in the Ready

I have recently been asked how you know that you are ready for a serious relationship?  When you have been through so much and have had to rebuild yourself, taking time to just focus in on yourself, how do you know when you are ready? My answer was and is follows:

I have been through a lot, a lot of pain a lot of loss. But I’ve also been through all of that alone, something I don’t want anymore. The work that I had to do on myself was necessary to heal so that I could be a whole person when I offered myself and my heart to someone else. I don’t believe in half-assing it, or only being a broken version of yourself. You need to be whole. And I don’t just want to be in a relationship because I don’t want to be alone. I’m fine alone, I do alone very well. So I don’t need to be in a relationship, but I want to be. Because I want to enjoy life with another person, I want to build something larger than myself, I want to see the world with someone else. I’ve served my family well, I took care of my parents to the very end. And now I want to take care of my partner, and have them take care of me. I’ve given myself the lives of others, and it’s time that I give myself to building my life with another person, so that we can build our lives.

The fact is that after a hard emotional experience, including the end of a long term relationship and you have to take time to heal. If you don’t you be toxic for anyone who is around you because will bring your issues into the next relationship. And that is not fair to the other person

No one signs up to be a rebound relationship, so why put someone else through it? It is not kind. You will also attract the wrong kind of partner and be willing to accept mistreatment if you are not healed first. That is because many times our self-esteem takes a hit after the demise of a relationship.

When our self-esteem is low, we end up making decisions out of fear, not love – fear of being alone, fear of being hurt, fear of being abandoned. Decisions made out of fear are never the right ones and will usually end in disaster.

In this day and age, it seems like many ex couples are almost in a race to see who can get the best, hottest replacement the fastest. Don’t do it.  Sit a few dances out if you must, but make sure that you are healthy before getting back in the game. The one who gets another the fastest often is the one who ends up in an unhealthy, co-dependent relationship that is harmful to all involved.  It solves nothing but rather perpetuates the issues of both individuals in the new relationship. And relationships are hard enough without dooming them to failure.

My most recent ex rushed out and now has a 19 year old; he is 50. A 50 year old essentially dating a child and taking advantage of her issues for his own nefarious benefit is not healthy nor does it show any honor. Don’t be like him. Take time to heal; spend time alone and get to know yourself, go to therapy, get a hobby, do whatever you need to do to make sure that you are emotionally stable enough to benefit another human being.

Healing is hard work though, because you must not only face, but conquer your demons. You must take an honest look at yourself in the mirror and take stock of what you do and don’t see.  You work on yourself and your shortcomings.  That takes courage. It also takes patience.

So how do I know that I am ready and that I am whole? I guess when you are ready, you feel it. And I feel good. I feel happy and excited about the future again. I do not feel like I need someone around, but I do want to enjoy life with another. There is nothing to prove to anyone. I am not worried about who is or is not impressed. There is not rush either. I have faith in the process that slow and steady is the best way, and I have faith in God that what is meant to be will be. I want love, I want to give love, and I want to build a life with a partner. I am not perfect, but flawed and complicated. And that is OK. No one is perfect, so maybe the key is to make sure that you are whole, as imperfect as you are, and find a whole person whose imperfections compliment your own. Then be honest and enjoy the adventure with an open heart and sound mind. So hang on, because this promises to be quite a ride.

Helping Others to Success

They say that one of the best ways to help yourself is to help another person.  This is very true and I am seeing that again from personal experience. I am helping my nephew with goal setting and how to make those goals into reality. This has made me realize how lazy I have been with my own goals, or maybe just very busy with other things in life. But now it is time to refocus and start back.  In a way, my nephew nd I are going through a similar phase – new beginnings, trying new things and accomplishing our dreams.  We are both starting over, if you will.

But how do you even start?  I don’t know what works for everyone, but I do know what has worked for me.

Have pride:  First you must have pride in yourself, in your dreams and in your abilities.  You must look around at where you are and have enough pride in yourself as a person that you want better than what you have right now.  Pride gets a bad rap, but it is what will help motivate us to rise and do better, be better and want better.  Without that level of pride, we just slump on the couch and accept whatever is given to us in life.  That is being too passive.  No one accomplished anything great by just accepting.  You accomplish great things by knowing that you were destined for more and better, that where you start has no bearing on where you end up.

Take an active role: This goes along with the above. You must take an active role in your life.  If you don’t care enough to be active in your life, no one else will either Don’t; just sit back and take it. Stand up and make it happen for yourself.  Make opportunities, seek them out, take them when they come.  Once you make your wishes known, the Universe will start lining things up for you.. And opportunities beget other opportunities.

Do at least one thing:  This combines two theories of mine into one.  First is an Elanor Roosevelt Quote: Do one thing every day that scares you. And the other theory which is do for yourself first when you are attaining your dreams.  For instance. While my nephew is with me, I have asked him to do things around the house to help put.  But before that, he should research schools, their admission requirements and places that are hiring.  He should do these things for himself first. And the older you get the harder it is to do for yourself first. But the people who love you will understand and will be there for you to help and cheer you on.

Get rid of the dead weight: We have all had those people in our lives who suck all our energy away and into their drama and problems. Don’t get sucked in. It is easy to let these people get us sidetracked with their drama, conflict and useless tale chasing.  While everyone has a messy life every now and then those who are constantly going through drama and conflict need to be cut.  If those people stay in your life. Then days, weeks, month, or even years in some cases, can slip away before you know it and you have not accomplished any of your goals and dreams.

Have a ridiculous work ethic:  Too make it, you must first make up your mind as to what you want, then you must be willing to work harder than you have ever worked in your life to make it happen.  You must believe it with such passion that it has no choice but to happen. Visualize your success, make a goal board, do whatever you must do to stay motivated to work toward what you want.

And pray:  For me, because I am both spiritual and religious, this is actually one of the most important things. I pray for guidance and wisdom in my choices. I pray for opportunities and patience in waiting.  I pray for a lot of things. For me, my faith is an integral part of success and accomplishing my dreams.

Never listen to the odds:  The odds don’t matter. I have never thought about the odds, because in my mind, they do not apply to me.  I will simply keep going until I either succeed or possibly change my mind.  I know, you are not supposed to change your mind, but sometimes it does happen.  When I was growing up, I was going to be an academy award winning actress.  Now, that still may happen, but I became a writer instead, because as I grew my dreams changed. Even then the “odds” were not in my favor, if I ever stopped to pay attention to them.  But here I am, writing away and being happy.

There are thousands of books written on the topic. But helping my nephew has motivated me.  After such a tumultuous period, it is time to get back to living, loving, taking risks and building the life of my dreams. The best way to help yourself, is by helping others.  You learn about that person, about yourself, about the process and you build up some good karma.