Eleven Years

On the sixth day in the month of September of the year 2005:

A cell phone rings.

“It is your father,”

says the somber mother

to the busy daughter.

“He has been taken

to hospital…a stroke.”

 

Eleven years ago,

my Pop transitioned;

he left body

and went to Heaven.

One is never prepared for death-

especially that of a parent.

You know it will come eventually,

makes sense intellectually;

a matter to run from emotionally.

The day before he was to die,

he kept calling my cell line.

Over and over, he tried.

too tired and busy was I.

“I’ll call him tomorrow,”

I thought, fully justified;

not knowing he would not then

be alive.

Did Pop sense

his time had come?

Is there something he needed to tell

his eldest one?

What did I miss in

missing his call?

Did he go

thinking

I cared not at all?

Along with grief,

from guilt I found little relief.

Over and over,

in my mind,

I wrestled with my use of time.

Questioned my responsibilities:

Were they aligned with my priorities?

Eleven years later,

older,

a tad wiser,

I can begin

to myself forgive.

We do our best

in the moments we live.

Perfection, not the final goal.

Missteps, falls –

a part of it all.

Lessons learned

in his life and death-

Thank you Father!

No more regrets.

 

 

 

Blue

 

what you say about Blue

is really a reflection of you.

what you think about her,

a mere child, another’s daughter,

only reveals

your mind’s fodder.

it’s all about you,

Beloved,

never “the other.”

about the lens

through which

you see

your world

and your brother.

look deep within,

my Friend,

see finally

the depths of

your own self-hatred.

bring up to Light,

the memories,

tragedies,

stories

against which

you constantly

struggle and fight.

the ones that state softly

with great malignancy

only that

you’re ugly and unworthy.

beware,

going there.

for, ego will be scared.

it will deny,

try to you from yourself hide,

play with your mind,

saying:

“don’t go within,

too much of a burden;

play always on the outside to win.”

alas,

illusion, so easy,

often trumps reality

for many.

brothers, sisters, family –

we must re-member what we truly are:

Shining Stars,

servant spirits on a human journey

born of Him

to fully manifest

only our highest

and very best

Self.

Nothing else.

 

 

Au Cœur

Walking around

the City streets,

this piece of graffiti

I repeatedly meet.

It reads

to me:

Protect your Heart.

“Why?”

I wonder.

“Is such a thing

even possible?”

I ponder.

Is not

The Heart

meant

to be used,

broken open

and well spent?

Le Cœur,

it will never relent,

nor exhibit

sustained discontent,

doing that

for which

it was sent.

The grand design,

the clear intent

for us to be truly,

in life, content.

Strong and resilient,

The Heart,

also very smart,

crafted this way

from the very start.

Unlike a piece

of rare fine art,

The Heart

is not made

to be placed

on a wall

deemed too delicate

to fall.

No, no, no, no, no!

Not at all!

I contend

to me and friends:

Lay bare,

Le Cœur,

even as scared,

it’ll take you there,

that place,

that divine space

where only

COURage makes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

mystic bonds

Souls intertwined

no matter the distance and time

elapsed

between the physical and the mind.

Namaste, we say,

each other’s Light clearly see

and then immediately retrieve

where we last left our story.

No beat missed,

no talk of business,

only laughter

born of pure, present bliss!

Effortless

seamless,

we fall back into resonance.

Creating anew

and out of the blue;

recalling the old,

all once joyously told.

This is no stranger,

this familiar unfamiliar face.

Rather a beacon of grace,

a safe space,

a peaceful place

for healing

and life-affirming

embrace.

 

 

dear b.,

first and foremost, I love You.

Your love for Me, in turn, I hold in great and eternal gratitude.

Our relationship has grown beyond that of friends…

no, more like Kindred Souls to this particular end.

hence why the current page in our long and storied sojourn,

feels decidedly like a deep and painful burn.

we’ve always rooted for the other,

always encouraged one another to dream bigger and fly ever higher.

You, perhaps better than any other, know of My wanderlust and constant restlessness.

You have been privy to how My Spirit lifts, is renewed and healed by following My bliss.

So, why now this time, after an extraordinary adventure granted unto Me,

You, seething with anger born of internal frustration and pain, lash out so emotionally violently?

first and foremost, I love You; and from love, great compassion and recognition flows.

I see into You, Beloved B.

I can see the great challenge of living within a body of such fragility,

a body, once so strong (as mine, you may perceive), one designed to walk, to travel, to live independently.

with an extraordinary mind, Spirit and imagination like Yours, you were not meant for bed confinement, relegated to one small room in deafening silence.

we, the “able-bodied” go out and play; you have no choice but to stay.

I see into You, Beloved B.

what would you have me do and say when it is the benevolent Universe that wills all this way?

shall I, in fear of losing you, keep My joy from You, hide, shrink before You, so that You do not continue to resent and dismiss “me” in the depths of your pain?

is that the way forward for us? no, just prideful and inane.

We are better than that, both know better, and have the capacity to do and to be better.

The only question: together, will we?

I see You and it takes Two.

 

 

 

 

 

Take It where you can get It

For most of my life, fashion was a four letter word. It felt so foreign to me, so irrelevant for the “intellectual” I fancied myself to be. This perspective made me a bit of an anomaly within a family dominated by “fashionistas” – women (a mother and sisters) who love heels, make up and beautiful and sexy clothing. To and for them fashion (what a woman wore and how she wore it) had the potential to empower, it communicated something about you to the world and  – perhaps most importantly – to yourself.

I vividly recall arrogantly rolling my eyes at women who obsessed over shoes – like, really? My look of defiant choice was head-to-toe black – show nothing, reveal nothing, force all to focus on my intellect, for (I believed) therein lies my only gift of value.

Life has a way of continuously challenging our perceptions, humbling us in all ways. One often does not see it coming, these lessons. So, at age forty, I decide to do something different, get out of my well-established comfort zone, and try something new. This resulted in the purchase of my first pair of jeans – yes, at age 40!!! Before this time, I abhorred jeans. I believed they were meant for skinny girls only, curvy girls need not apply. So, nervously and riddled with shame and trepidation, I slipped on a pair of jeans – doing exactly as my idol and mentor, Eleanor Roosevelt, encourages: what I fear most. The jeans fit beautifully, lovingly hugging my every curve. I was utterly astonished at the me I saw in that mirror! I stood up a little taller, felt a tinge more confident and  – dare I say it – bloody sexy! The power of fashion lesson one of many to come.

A year (and over twenty pair of jeans later), I felt emboldened enough to try on heels. I remember thinking that as much as I love my penny loafers, sneakers and flats, I was now a woman of a certain age. I needed to dress like a woman to feel more like a woman. This does not make intellectually sense; it cannot, as this is all on the visceral and emotional level – the level I consciously chose to ignore\runaway from for forty years! That place was way too messy, unruly and unscientific for the science geek intellectual I so very carefully crafted myself to be. One simply cannot control or reason one’s way through that place.

So, I try on my first pair of high heels – at age forty-one. Truly I tell you, it was love (and, ironically given we are talking about four inch heels here, comfort) at first fit. Something just clicked inside of me, something within was set free and made more at home. That something: my sensuality. I felt for the first time that I can be – indeed, I am – smart and sexy. Those two components of my personality seemed to always be ill at ease with each other, unable (and unwilling) to comfortably occupy the same space within me. It took fashion (jeans and heels) to begin breaking down the silos of my personality and help me to see and perceive myself holistically. I am not just this or that, I am this and (all) that! Heck, we all are!

Fashion took me to that realization, that place of growth and evolution. It was not the myriad of spiritual books I inhaled or the countless hours of blissful yoga practice or quiet time spent in solitude journal writing – those all took me to other places and likely helped to open/soften me to the power of fashion as a means of self knowledge, expression and creativity. 

What commenced with jeans and heels eventually led to a little make up on my face – a dab here and there to highlight and sculpt. Now, there is even – gasp – more color and texture in my wardrobe! I am more comfortable using fashion as a vehicle to tell a story and share a little more about my personality, revealing and exposing different aspects of me. Surprisingly, in lieu of diminishing my intellect as I had feared, making myself up (using a variety of clothes, shoes, makeup, perfume, jewelry, etc.) only serves to enhance my intellect, providing it with much-needed context and a little more flavor, if you will.

Looking back through the lens of maturity, I think I feared fashion on some level. We tend to fear the unknown – like we fear the dark. On some level, perhaps, that fear is based on our knowing that the unknown will change us, it will take us somewhere inside that we do not feel ready to explore, force us to see and face something we are not ready to confront. But we must. We must grow, we must evolve, we must become all that we were meant to be. This only happens by going there – to those hard and icky and darn uncomfortable places.

Take It where you can get It. Indeed growth and insight come in the most inopportune times and often wrapped in the most deceptive of packages (fashion – really?). When the student is ready, the teacher does come – just not looking the way the student would expect!

Grandma’s Last Gifts: Two Guiding Lights

On this day, thirteen days ago – just five days after 9/11 – my beloved Grandmother Julie left the Earth. Her passing was the first significant loss I had experienced, and it changed me – forever. It changed what I thought I knew about death and dying. I have come to see now that her passing was yet another invaluable gift she bestowed upon me. I am forever grateful.

Mummie Julie, as we her grandchildren lovingly referred to her, was always gifting me. Whenever I saw her, she would sneak me a twenty dollar bill or more. “Do not tell your mother,” she whispered with a mischievous glint in her eye. “This is between you and me.” If it wasn’t money, it would be her glorious food (how I miss her cooking) served abundantly and with much love.

A few days before she was to be rushed to a hospital emergency room, at a birthday party she hosted for the latest addition to the family – her great-grandson, she gave me a most unusual gift. It was a large laminated picture of me taken at my college graduation. In it, I am chubby checked and smiling. As I looked at the picture, I recalled the deep pain and darkness that lurked underneath that smile. Sensing my heavy heart, my grandmother had me turn the picture over. The first words I read, written in delicate cursive:

A smile never makes an enemy, but often wins a friend.”

I chuckled. My grandmother was not one for a lot of words. Still, she knew her granddaughter very well. I was always smiling no matter what was happening inside of me. She wanted me to keep smiling, to see it as a gift rather than a weakness and a burden, and to then use this gift for good.

Just to make certain that I received this message (again, this grandmother knew her granddaughter’s stubborn heart – I could not hide from her), there was a poem written clearly in print. The poem, You Tell On Yourself resonated deeply in that moment and continues to every time I read it to this day – thirteen years later.

LOL! Grandma was prescient – no wonder she laminated her last gift to me. If she had not, it would have been worn down by now! I read that poem, savoring every beautiful word every year at least three times a year – sometimes more. I cling to it whenever I forget or dislike who I am. It has saved me from delving into The Abyss almost as many times as has chocolate!

Truly I tell you, this poem has become my guiding light – it reminds me to foster integrity, it reminds me that we are indeed each other’s keeper, that we are connected, that we influence each other and that we, indeed, are always telling on ourselves – there’s really no hiding who we really are no matter how heavy and elaborate that mask we so carefully craft. The poem also reminds me to pay close attention.

I still do not know who authored You Tell On Yourself . I send countless thanks to that creative Soul!

Until today, I have never shared this story of my grandmother’s last gifts to me – the picture, the saying, and the poem. They were mine – between my grandmother and me, our last little secret. It just dawned on me that grandma did not ask me to keep this gift between the two of us. I think this was deliberate. Again, this grandmother knew her granddaughter’s heart. She knew I would share her last words – her precious lessons to me – when I was ready.

And so I share:

You Tell On Yourself

You tell on yourself

By the words you speak, by the friends you seek,

By the way you employ your leisure time,

By the use you make of your dollar and dime.

You tell what you are by the things you wear,

By the spirit you, your burdens you bear,

By the kinds of things at which you laugh,

By songs you sing, just a paragraph.

You tell what you are by the way you walk,

By the things of which you delight to talk,

By the manner in which you bear defeat,

By so simple a thing as how you eat.

By the books you choose from a well-filled shelf–

In these things and more – you tell on yourself.