Back Where I Belong

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“Don’t wish me happiness I don’t expect to be happy all the time… It’s gotten beyond that somehow. Wish me courage and strength and a sense of humor. I will need them all.” ― Anne Morrow Lindbergh, Gift from the Sea

Each year I spend my vacation by the sea.  On the Cape.  Usually by myself.  And a dog or two but only Toti Nonna now.  She isn’t really considered another person, she’s a phenomenal creature all to herself.  And each year I feel as Pablo Neruda does… “It’s well known that he who returns never left”.

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I don’t sight see, I eat out less and less, I’ve stopped bringing back souvenirs for everyone, I simply go and exhale. I have rituals and traditions.  I drink my coffee on the beach each morning because there is nowhere else it tastes better or cools off to just the right temperature.

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We have a routine, our morning walk on the beach, journal writing, photo walks, the farmers market and spending time with friends.

It seems I come by this honestly.  My grandmother, my father’s mother insisted that she be taken to the sea at least once a year.  She needed the sea air, needed it. I never understood it until it crept into my own life.  I must always get back to it.  The smell of salt air and cedar are life sustaining to me.

It’s my hope to get back and never leave at some point, I feel that coming closer and closer each time I find it harder and harder to return, even to my beloved Stowe Lane.

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For those of you that believe I’m idealizing the Cape, the sea, the way my hair feels and the way my skin turns bronze and the way all my aches and pains disappear even though I’m sleeping in a completely different bed you’re wrong.  Your opinions are appreciated but I get it that life goes on wherever one ends up evidenced in the fact that I’ve ended up on Stowe Lane.  I get that you arrive with all of your stuff and your work and your imaginings, I’m under no delusions that a place changes things.

My work is becoming more and more solitary, the changes in the industry are taking care of themselves we are no longer that upstart company with an entrepreneurial spirit. I’m no longer interested in being the inherent dowager queen or a formidable force.  When I think of the word retirement I know I won’t stop working but I’ll be doing joyous work, teaching, writing, gathering and preserving stories.

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The people who so desperately needed me are standing so beautifully on their own, my obligations to others are becoming fewer and fewer and my responsibility to myself is gaining momentum. I am looking ever forward to getting back to the sea for good where I can be that woman in the neighborhood, the gardener, the writer, the teacher, the woman whose home is always wafting the neighborhood with delicious aromas and who can always be counted on for a laugh or a listen.  I am seeking perhaps what Socrates asked for in the prayer from the Phaedrus when he said, “May the outward and inward man be one.”

I am looking forward…

Everybody’s Got a Story

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My intent today was to speak fondly of four men who each have a story. I don’t know their story but it is evident in the lines on their faces, the words from their lips, the music they listen to, and the job they are doing.

I adopted these painters as my four Eldons. You remember from the series Murphy Brown. He was her painter, he was quirky, he was a perfectionist, clearly bi-polar one day up the next he could have been seen as lazy. He came to do the job but never left until he ended the series by saying, I’m finished. Meaning his work was completed. It’s not lost on anyone that at some later date he indeed was “finished” long before his time. That became his story.

The Eldons came nearly a month ago, following closely after the very pretty construction crew boys that were removing and replacing boards, hammering away and, well, bringing some much needed “improvement” to the look of the neighborhood. These boys, however, did not yet have a story. By contrast the Eldons weren’t pretty.

I got to know the four Eldons over fresh baked banana muffin tops (because the 11th commandment is thou shalt not throw away bananas) eaten on my deck in the pouring rain. They were power washing, they were surprised at the kindness and grateful for the hot coffee and the small break. It went on from there, they showed me kindness, called me by name (as I did them) and did the best they could to get me back on my deck quickly. It’s true what they say about not knowing what you’ve got til it’s gone, my deck is integral to my mental health.

And then they were finished. My guess is I’ll never see them again but I’m grateful for the work they did and the kindness they showed me. I hope the story they tell themselves includes the good work they do and the fact that they have overcome “something” in their lives.

Earlier today there was a mass shooting in Orlando that took the lives of 50 people and wounded 53 more. I don’t know their stories either but I know that all they were doing was dancing. I am loath to say that these were members of the gay community as I want them to be seen as members of our community, my community. I want so badly for people to stop being labeled and exterminated because of that label in the name of yet another label.

I have no words for why. I have no words for the fear or extremism that makes one human think they are superior to another. I have no words for the heartbreak I feel for that loss, for those families and for my ever changing country.

The only thing I have words for is the power of kindness, the art of good work no matter where on the hierarchy it falls and the hope that everyone’s story overcomes their labels.



The Power of Pitching a Fit

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If you’re anything like me you probably think you’ve got it all together. People come to you and ask your advice, you struggle with not fixing things for everyone anymore and sometimes you actually succeed. You’re a safe place, people can say anything they want to you and it goes nowhere beyond the conversation. Vent away, of course you feel that way, I’m so sorry this is happening, you say to whomever needs to hear it.

You find yourself saying these things time and time again and then sometimes you wonder where those same people go when they’re feeling fabulous. Not to your house as it turns out. And so it begins that crazy mixture of self-pity, I never ask for anything rant (except that you take two minutes each week to read my tiny little blog), why am I always alone story you tell yourself right before your back starts aching and your hip doesn’t work right and you have a headache every day and your hair is as big as Diana Ross. You see where this is going?

It happens to all of us at one time or another. When the stuff of life starts manifesting in your body I don’t care how many affirmations you recite, how much praying you do it won’t work until you pitch a fit. The cares and woes of all your people are safe with you, they feel better and you are better for being there but summon up your petulant child and start stamping your feet, crying your eyes out or dancing/running/walking it out of your body when you feel it coming on. Howl at the moon, punch the bobo doll, find a way to sweat it out. I’m not kidding it works.

Don’t let it fester as if you are everyone’s personal vessel of troubles. Yes, you are a kind hearted soul that somehow finds yourself with a head full of everything that’s happened to your people in the last six months/years/decades. Remember it’s not your stuff, get rid of it, the helping is done now let it go.

Don’t let the situation worm its way into all of your own things you’ve been putting aside. Because God knows you can make a mountain out of wink when you’re in this state of teary aches and pains and why’s and why nots. Remember you have people too. They would be happy to say what you need to hear if only you tap them on the shoulder, or shoot a text or show up for lunch as it turns out. It’s not your job to take care of everyone else first, it’s your job to take care of you first. If you’re empty for yourself you’re empty for everyone else too.

Indulge your temper tantrum, with those who’ve seen it before. I am eternally grateful for my besties, the ones who cheer when I pitch a fit…because they know like they know I’ll be fine in a minute. Ok, I’m done now.