Tag Archives: loss

I Know Where Love Lives

“You keep your mansions of gold
Buddy, I don’t care
‘Cause I know where love lives”
– Hal Ketchum

So, let me tell you a little about what’s been happening at my house lately.  Actually, it’s kind of the same thing that is pretty much always happening at my house. Richard, my gorgeous new husband who happens to be a musician, is learning a new song.

And here’s what happens at our house when Richard is learning a new song.

Nothing.

That’s right. Nothing.

The man has a one-track mind, people. He decides he wants to learn a new song (or anything new for that matter) and his focus is on that one thing and that one thing only.  He’s like a dog with a bone, man.

Example?  A conversation in the living room the other night:

Me:  Richard, did you hear me?
Richard:  *singing and playing guitar*
Me:  Richard?  I was talking to you.
Richard: *singing and playing guitar*
My daughter: He only listens if it’s about a song. Sing it to him and see if that works.

Oh yeah. This is how it is, folks.  And you want to know a secret?  Want to know how I really feel about that?

I love it.

I know, I know.  I know what you’re thinking. Oh, they’re newlyweds. She thinks it’s cute now, but just wait…  And hey, I’ll give ya that. Maybe you’re right. Maybe one day it’ll drive me nuts. But right now?

Nope.

And here’s why.

I’ve been hearing a lot of pretty sad stuff in the news lately. One, in particular, is something that has happened to a fellow runner in an online running group I am a part of. Now, I don’t know this woman personally. Let me just give that disclaimer upfront. But I feel like I do. She’s a woman; a mom; a runner; a fellow human being. I identify with her in many ways. But there’s one way that (but for the grace of God go I) I don’t identify with her. She was in an abusive relationship. Note the word was. She is no longer in that relationship anymore. Why? Because her husband…the father of her four children and the man who took vows before God to honor and cherish her…took her life last week.

Just like that, she’s gone.

You hear news like that, and you can’t help but think of your own life. It’s human nature. I’m no exception. First, I feel a sense of disbelief. That can’t possibly have just happened to someone who is just like me. Next, I feel sadness. Such overwhelming sadness for those four kids who have to face this world without their mother, and with a murderous father in prison for the rest of his life.

And then, my feelings almost immediately switch over to something else. Gratitude. That’s right. I feel grateful. I can’t help it. It may sound horrible to say that–it may sound overwhelmingly selfish–but that doesn’t make it any less true. I immediately thank God that I will never know how that poor woman felt in those last moments of her life. I’ll never know what it feels like to fear the man I love.

Never.

So, when you put it like that…it makes a little one-track-mind singing seem pretty trivial, doesn’t it?  I’m in love with a man who fills our home with music. So, not only does it not irritate me when his mind is stuck on a song…it fills me with an indescribable joy. My heart fills with so much love for this gentle, tender, good man that I just cannot believe that the stars aligned in such a way that brought him into my world.

So, back to the song. The song he has been learning is called “I Know Where Love Lives” by Hal Ketchum.  Here’s a little snippet of the lyrics:

There’s a house on the edge of town
It’s a little old, it’s a little run down
Full of laughter and tears and toys
Crazy things only love enjoys

I know where love lives

I know where love lives
She’s sitting on the back step in the evening air
Sea green eyes and her chestnut hair

You keep your mansions of gold
Buddy, I don’t care
‘Cause I know where love lives

Wow.

Nope, our life isn’t perfect.  Yep, we get on each others’ nerves at times, no doubt.  But you know what?

I know where love lives.

And that’s the greatest gift I could have ever imagined.

lovelives

Photo credit: Bobbi Jo Scott

 ***

“Sometimes we should express our gratitude for the small and simple things. Like the scent of the rain, the taste of your favorite food, or the sound of a loved one’s voice.”
– Joseph B. Wirthlin

More Than Words

“I found I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn’t say any other way – things I had no words for.”
– Georgia O’Keeffe

I was just recently given an awesome opportunity to be a part of an art exhibit.  Yep, you heard that right.  An art exhibit.  Me…the girl who can’t even draw stick figures…in an ART exhibit!  How do ya like them apples?!

Okay, so there was a bit of a catch. I wasn’t allowed to draw. Or paint. Or color. Or create stick figures. They just wanted my words.

Words. In an art exhibit!

When I first heard about this idea, I was a little confused. Um…you want my words in your art exhibit? Come again? But once I started getting into and realizing what this whole thing was about, I was blown away by the idea.

So, here’s how it worked.  Our local Ashe County Arts Council paired up local writers with local artists. (What their criteria was in this selection process is beyond me, but somehow they managed to pair me with exactly the right person. I know that without a doubt.  My artist partner Gerry and I clicked from the get-go.)  Once our pairs were determined, we were given a “project.”  I was to give Gerry something I had written, and she was to give me something she had painted.  She was to use the writing I had given her to inspire a new work of art.  And I, in turn, was to use her painting to inspire a new written work of art.

Pretty cool, huh?

And then, as part of an exhibit that opened up on September 10, each artist/writer pair’s work was hung in the art gallery together – side-by-side with the piece of art that inspired their creation.  The official reception for the artists and writers and anyone who wanted to view their works was on the night of Friday, September 12. Gerry and I found each other and, while standing near our display, found ourselves overcome with the emotional responses our work brought about.

Now, I can’t speak for Gerry, but as a writer – this was pretty new to me.  I’m not used to “watching” people read my work.  You know?  I write it – I send it out in the world – and then I just hope it touches someone somewhere who may have needed to hear it. I may get feedback sometimes, but it’s rare that I get to actually see their responses.  This night, though?  Oh, this night was so different.

morethanwords

Photo by Chris Arvidson

This picture here to the right is a photo that my dear friend and fellow writer Chris Arvidson took that night.  I would have remembered this moment forever even without the photographic evidence, but I can’t believe that she was so eloquently able to capture it at just the right time.  This woman, among others, was actually moved to tears after reading what I had written and seeing Gerry’s painting that accompanied it.  The photo captured her turning back to us to tell us how much it had meant to her.

Wow.

Isn’t that the coolest?

This is why I do what I do, people. This is why musicians make music. Why singers sing. Why painters paint. Why actors act.  We do these things for this moment right here.  To know that for just one moment in time, two human beings became one in their emotions. Someone out there looked at what we created and said, “Yes.”  That’s it.  Just yes. Yes, I have felt that.  Yes, I know that feeling.  Yes, I know you.  Thank you.  Thank you, thank you, thank you.

I’m telling you people, there’s nothing like it.

morethanwords2So, if you’re local, do yourself a favor.  Go by and check out this exhibit.  It will be on display through October 4th at the Ashe Arts Center, located at 303 School Avenue, West Jefferson, North Carolina. Gerry and I are just one of many pairs that have contributed to this, and each story, poem, painting, and piece of artwork tells a story that you need to hear.  Come by and have your emotions reawakened.  After all, that’s the beauty of art in all its forms, isn’t it?

(And by the way, you’ll definitely want to see what Gerry created from my poem Escape.  A photo just wouldn’t do it justice. You’re going to want to see this one in person.)

And now, in closing, I’ll leave you with the poem Gerry’s market painting inspired me to write.  It’s entitled “Market Visitor.”

Thanks for being here, my fellow humans!  Stop to notice something special today, won’t you?

Market Visitor

What’s that I see coming near?
She must be lost. Why’s she here?
She stops to stare—is it at me?
Oh how I wonder what she sees.

What’s that she’s taking—a photograph?
She wants my picture? What a laugh!
Surely there must be some mistake,
What image is here for her to take?

“Hello there, old girl,” she says with glee,
“Oh, what a sight you are to see.
The forgotten beauty of a long-lost saint—
Ah, what a joy you’ll be to paint.”

An artist? With an interest in me?
Underneath all this ruin, could she see?
The people I’ve seen come and go,
The life I’ve lived—how does she know?

Does she see beyond the tattered boards,
The broken windows, rotting doors?
As she gazes at outer walls worn thin,
Does she know of all the life within?

Can she hear the laughter of children at play,
Hear the hustle and bustle from back in the day?
Does she see the past once filled with life
The fun-filled days, the peaceful nights?

The pleasantries once exchanged within
The constant motion, ceaseless din—
Are now only memories in this silent shrine
Slowly fading away with the passage of time.

And yet with one visit, something feels refreshed
I pull myself together, try to look my very best
For the story behind these shadows might finally be seen
All because one artist took the time to stop and notice me.

– Melissa Halsey Caudill, 2014

Robin Williams

“This news hit me as if I actually knew him.” – random Facebook poster

Robin%20Williams-7I want to talk about Robin Williams.

But I don’t just want to talk about him per se. I want to talk about why the news of his death yesterday hit so many people in such profound ways.

Now, first of all, I’m no psychologist. I have no degrees in psychology or sociology or psychiatry or anything else that ends in a “y.” I’m no expert. But now that those disclaimers are out of the way, let me tell what I am.

Human.

And being human [See what I did there?], that makes me somewhat adept at understanding my fellow humans. (Well, sometimes….) In fact, I’m pretty fascinated with other humans. Why they do what they do, what motivates them, what makes them so different, so alike, etc. And a few of my fellow humans have had a response to Robin Williams’s death that is reminiscent of the responses to many other previous celebrity deaths. What response is that, you ask?  Let me summarize:

Why do people care so much about a celebrity death? Stop posting all of these “RIP” messages on Facebook for someone you don’t even know. What about all the senseless deaths in Gaza, Iraq, etc. etc. Get your priorities straight, people! Being famous doesn’t make his life any more meaningful than anyone else’s. What about the soldiers that die every day? What about this, what about that…why is he getting so much attention? It’s a shame you people don’t put as much thought into the real problems of the world as you do into some celebrity’s death…

And so on and so forth.

You’ve seen them, right?  Maybe you’ve even posted them? Or at least thought them.  And hey, I get it. I do. I hear what you’re saying. I really do.

But I want to tell you why you’re wrong.

I used to be the same way. Seeing the outpouring of grief over a celebrity used to fill me with almost a bitterness in a way. I had all those above thoughts, and more. But this time is just different somehow. Hearing of the death of Robin Williams suddenly made me understand something that I didn’t understand before about celebrity death grief.

I just lost someone I know.

Now, of course, I don’t really know Robin Williams. I’ve never met the man. But, like my fiancé Richard said when he heard the news, “I feel like I grew up with him.” See, that’s just it. Robin Williams, and other celebrities, are people that have impacted our lives in one way or another. We turn on the TV, and there they are. We watch a movie, and there they are. They portray situations and events in their roles that give us something to identify with. We remember them.  Especially actors like Robin Williams – the ones who have been around for quite a while. We connect them to events from our past because they were there.

Let me explain.

When I think of Robin Williams, the first thing that immediately pops into my head is Mrs. Doubtfire.  And let me tell you why.  The movie Mrs. Doubtfire first became popular right around the time that I was living in Germany. There’s a scene in the end of Mrs. Doubtfire where Robin Williams, dressed as the old lady “nanny,” gives a speech about parents and children.  He talks about their physical location and the love that remains between a parent and child no matter the distance that may be between them. I hadn’t seen the movie, but I can remember opening a letter from my dad back in the states (my step-dad was the one in the military and I lived primarily with him and my mom), and in the letter my dad told me to be sure to watch that movie. He said there was something at the end that he wanted me to pay special attention to.  So, when I watched it, and heard that part, I cried.  I knew my daddy loved me…even though I had only seen him twice in three years.

And you know who was there for that moment that I remember so well?  Robin Williams.

I know that’s a stretch. But psychologically speaking, I don’t think I’m the only one who connects these people to events from my past. They’ve always been there. We’ve always known them.

And then they’re gone.

And in the case of Robin Williams – here we have lost this man who, on the surface, appeared to be full of happiness and laughter. And what took his life?  Depression. Oh, how we can relate with that.  Don’t lie – you know you can.  Who among us hasn’t felt depression?  Obviously not to the extent that he must have, poor man, but we know that feeling. We know the overwhelming sadness. And, we know what it feels like to paint a smile on to cover it up. We identify with Robin Williams. We identify with his family, with his pain, with their pain. We have lost one of our own.

It’s not a sadness that needs to be belittled.

Now, I’m not saying that the other events of the world are not worthy of our attention. Of course, we need to be saddened by all of the atrocities that are occurring overseas right now. But, thank the good Lord, we can’t identify with those atrocities like we can with the death of Robin Williams. We feel the most deeply over things that affect us. Maybe that’s selfish, but it’s just human nature.

Think how silly it sounds if you put it this way. What if mine and your fathers both passed away at the same time, and I got downright angry at you because you weren’t as sad over my father’s death as you were over your own father’s death. How ridiculous is that?  Of course, you’re not going to be as saddened over my family member as you would be over your own. You know your father, you don’t know mine. Both are human lives that are lost, but one affects you more than the other. It’s just the way it is.

See the connection?

And that’s all I want to say about that.

Rest in peace, Robin Williams. I am so sorry for the loss that your family is facing right now and for the pain that you felt while you were here on this Earth. I hope you know what a legacy you have left behind you, and I hope you and your family will get the respect that you deserve through this devastating time.

Thank you for being here.

Thank you for the memories.

Thank you for giving us the laughter that you couldn’t seem to find for yourself.

***

“No matter what people tell you, words and ideas can change the world.”
– Robin Williams

…You Lose Some

“The greatest test of courage on earth is to bear defeat without losing heart.”
– Robert Green Ingersoll

I’m a Loser.

loserThat’s right.  Capital “L” and all.  La-hooooo-za-heeer. (Said in my best Jim Carrey/Ace Ventura voice.)

I often blog about my writing successes on here.  Last year, I wrote about winning first place in the essay category at the Chautauqua Festival Creative Writing Competition.  Then, I went on to tell you about my first published work appearing in the Chicken Soup for the Soul series, and now I have a second story appearing in another Chicken Soup for the Soul book, which will be available in August of this year.  Pretty awesome stuff, huh?

But you know what I don’t often blog about?  All the other submissions I’ve sent in.  Or better yet, all the rejections I’ve received.  And trust me, there are PLENTY of them.

Yesterday, in fact, I received two rejections in one day.  That contest I won first place in last year?  Didn’t even place this year.  The next Chicken Soup for the Soul book that’s coming out after the one in August?  My story wasn’t chosen.  These are just two loser-ish examples (did I mention they happened in ONE DAY?) but there are many more where those came from.  I sent my boyfriend Richard a message yesterday saying “Okay, I’ve received two writing rejections in one day. Tell me I’m pretty.”  (Yeah, I probably won’t be winning any awards for my sense of humor anytime soon either…)

Why am I telling you this?  Well, after my rejection-filled day yesterday, something dawned on me.  I had some pretty good luck straight out of the gate last year.  Now, mind you, I’ve written all my life – as early as I can remember I was giving poems to people as Christmas gifts (did I mention that I’m also cheap?…)  But it wasn’t until a few years ago that I started sharing my writing publicly- starting with this very blog site you’re looking at now.  After the positive feedback I received on my blog posts, I decided to take a chance at submissions.  Lo and behold, I won that essay contest (my first submission EVER!) and then it was shortly followed by a call from Chicken Soup asking to print the story I submitted to them. Whoa! Talk about your beginner’s luck! But soon after those first boosts to the ego, the rejections started coming in.  Magazines didn’t want my essays. I didn’t place in other local writing contests. My blog stats started dropping. And for a brief moment, I sort of felt like giving up.  But you know what?

I didn’t.

And why didn’t I?  Well, I was one of the lucky ones who had been blessed with the feeling of winning.  I knew that just because I “lost” a few times, that doesn’t mean that my stuff wasn’t “good.” It just didn’t get chosen this time.

I kind of have this theory.  I think every life is filled with a certain pre-destined number of wins and losses. And I’m not just talking about writing submissions here.  I’m talking about all that life has to offer – in your professional life, your creative life, your personal life – all of it. They’re not all going to be losses, but they’re not all going to be wins either.  As far as this writing thing is concerned, I was honored with a few of those wins upfront. But in other aspects of my life?  Those wins took a little while longer. I had to go through quite a few defeats before I got to the winning portion. In fact, I’m in the middle of a few defeats now.  But you know what gives me hope?

I know that my time to shine is coming.  I just haven’t gotten to the winning portion yet.

You get it?  You buying what I’m selling here?

We don’t always get the wins up front. But that doesn’t mean they’re not coming. It’s so tempting to give up, isn’t it?  It’s so hard to believe that the good stuff really is out there somewhere.  But it is.

It is.

A few years ago, after my second divorce, I had pretty much decided that a “win” in the love department wasn’t possible.  And then, out of the blue, I met Richard.  And you know what?  That wasn’t a “win” either.  Oh, it is now, don’t get me wrong.  But at first?  Phew.  Let’s just say ours isn’t your typical “their eyes met and it was love at first sight” story.  (Well, it was for one of us…but I won’t get into that right now…)  I could’ve given up on this too.  And trust me, I wanted to. But somewhere deep down, I had a feeling that a win was coming. And you know what?

I was right.

us3Richard and I have what I’ve only dreamed about in the past. I honestly had no idea that a relationship could be this good.  This sweet. This tender.  This supportive.  (WINNING!)  But believe me when I tell you this – it was NOT easy.  I had to take the losses before the win.  Sometimes that’s just how these things work.

I’m so very glad I didn’t give up.  Look at all the love I’d have missed.

Are you going through a loser phase right now?  Hang in there, my friend. I have a feeling a win may be just around the corner.  Just don’t give up before it gets here.

***

“Defeat doesn’t finish a man, quit does. A man is not finished when he’s defeated. He’s finished when he quits.”
– Richard M. Nixon

To the Girl at the Bar

“He’s not your prince charming if he doesn’t make sure you know that you’re his princess.”
― Demi Lovato

Dear Girl from the Bar,

I’m sure you don’t remember me.  But I certainly remember you.  In fact, I don’t think a day has gone by since I saw you over a month ago that you haven’t crossed my mind.

“Saw you?”  Hmmm.  That’s probably not the right term.  “Stalked you” might be more like it.  I could not stop watching you.  You commanded my attention and it has taken me weeks to figure out why that is.  That’s why I’m writing you this letter today.

womaninbarI’m sure you didn’t notice me.  I was the girl sitting with the other wives/girlfriends of the band.  We weren’t typical attendees of this particular bar, so we sort of grouped together in our little corner – just there to watch the guys in our lives do what they love.  But I couldn’t help but notice you.  I’m not sure at what point it was that you caught my attention exactly.  I just know that at some time during the night, I started watching you paying an awful lot of attention to some guy.

Now, see, I’m a people watcher. When I first noticed this attention you were giving this guy, I assumed you were a couple.  Why wouldn’t I? You were draped across him, rubbing his back, standing right next to him…things like that.  But the more I watched, the more I started to see that my initial assumption was incorrect.

This guy just flat out didn’t like you.

I know that may sound harsh, but I have to call it like I see it.  The more you touched him, the more he pulled away.  The more you asked him to dance, the more he seemed to not want to.  You would practically barge your way into his line of sight, and he would physically turn his body so that he wasn’t looking at you.

Now, I know that sometimes it’s easier to see things when you’re “out of the box” so to speak. I know that maybe my vantage point called for a better view than yours, but surely you couldn’t have been entirely immune to this treatment.  Could you?

I even saw you kiss him at one point, for Heaven’s sake. The guy was completely taken aback.  By this point, you had become a laughing stock among he and his friends. Once you turned your back to him, he made a show of wiping the kiss off of his face and laughing with the guys about it.  I don’t know how else to tell you this, other than to just come out and say it…

You made an absolute fool of yourself.

Now, why have you stayed on my mind?  Why have I thought of you almost daily since that night?  Why did your embarrassing scenario strike such a chord with me?

Oh, I know why.

Lord, honey, I’ve been there.  I’ve soooo been there.

Now, granted, I’ve never planted a kiss on a stranger at a bar, per se.  And I suppose I’ve never exactly thrown myself at a guy I barely know. But you know what I have done?

Stayed somewhere I wasn’t wanted.

I have hung around in relationships way past their expiration date.  And why?  Because I was idiot.  Like you.  (No offense.)  I thought if I just tried a little harder, maybe he’d finally see me.  You know?  If I just did this a little better, or that a little better, maybe then he’d finally realize I was worthy of his attention. Of his affection.  But you know what?

It never worked.  Not once.

I wonder what happened when you got home.  Did you cry? Did you wonder what you did wrong?  Did you wonder what’s wrong with you?  Oh yeah, been there.  I’ve looked at myself in the mirror with such confusion and hatred before that it was scary. I’ve picked myself apart…my fuzzy curly hair, my flawed complexion, my crooked teeth. I’ve yelled at myself for being too outspoken, too demanding, too talkative.  Too this.  Too that.  I’ve been more mean to me than anyone else ever has.  And why did I do that?

Because some guy didn’t like me.

Some stupid, inconsequential guy.  I let a stranger’s value of me replace my own value of myself.  I adopted their view of me and replaced it for my own.

What an idiot I was.  What an idiot you are.

Anyway.  I know you won’t see this.  I know you don’t remember me.  But again, I just wanted to let you know that you’re on my mind.  I wanted to let you know that for a moment, our lives crossed, and I saw myself in your defeat.  You reminded me of how I never want to feel again. You reminded me of how ridiculous it is to place my worth in someone else’s hands.

You reminded me that when I’m loved, I’ll know it.  I won’t have to chase it.  It will chase me.

And better yet, you reminded me that the real love I should be worried about – is the love I have for myself.

Thank you for crossing my path.  I hope you learn to love yourself one day too.

Love,

One Who Gets It

[P.S.  You are waaaaay too good for that guy.  He was a dork.]

***

“When your self-worth goes up, your net worth goes up with it.”
– Mark Victor Hansen

Flower Garden Theory

heartgarden

Flower Garden Theory

Our hearts are flower gardens.
Each morning we arise and tend to them –
Water
Soil
Fertilizer
…and out we step into the world.
People pass by.
Hurriedly, we share our garden with pride
“Look!
Isn’t it beautiful?
Here, take a flower for a while!
Just bring it back, ok?”

And what happens?

Some bring the flowers back
Beautiful and bright as ever
Well–tended
Sometimes in even better shape than before
We put them back in their rightful place –
The garden is as perfect as ever.

But sometimes.

Some bring the flowers back…not so beautiful
They haven’t taken care of them at all
They are wilted
Withered
Thirsty
We put them back in as best we can
But they no longer belong.
They are changed.

And sometimes still.

Some don’t bring the flowers back at all.
They didn’t realize they weren’t theirs to keep
They have cast them aside
Forgotten
(Or maybe they are thieves)
The garden now has an empty spot.

Our hearts are flower gardens.
Each morning we arise and tend to them –
Water
Soil
We make adjustments.
We remove the dead flowers from yesterday
(They didn’t make it through the night)
We adjust the borders to fill in the empty spots
Our garden is smaller
But still beautiful
…and out we step into the world.
People pass by.
We share our garden with pride
(Perhaps a little less pride than yesterday, however)
“Look!
Isn’t it beautiful?
Here, take a flower for a while!
Just bring it back, ok?”

The cycle repeats.

Our hearts are flower gardens.
Each morning we arise and tend to them –
Water
Soil
We make further adjustments.
We remove more dead flowers
Adjust the borders for even more empty spots.
Our garden is smaller
But still beautiful
(Sort of)
…and out we step into the world.
People pass by.
We start to share our garden…
But the pride has decreased
(Is it worth showing anymore?
Can they be trusted?)

We change our minds.
We keep our gardens to ourselves

For if we keep sharing…
They may disappear.

Our hearts are flower gardens.
Fenced-in.
Private.
Secure.

Purpose

“The important thing is that men should have a purpose in life. It should be something useful, something good.”
– Dalai Lama

purposeblog2I visited my grandmother in the nursing home over the weekend.  She has Alzheimer’s Disease and is, unfortunately, in the later stages.  Meaning, she has no idea who any of us are.  And while this is still heartbreaking, most of us in the family have gotten used to it.  We know what’s coming when we visit her.  We’re ready for it, and we expect it.  We’ve learned to live with it.

Unfortunately, however, she hasn’t.

One thing she kept repeating over and over again during our visit was this one same question, “What am I supposed to be doing?”

Each time she asked the question (not remembering she had just asked it seconds earlier), I would respond the same way, “You’re not supposed to be doing anything, MawMaw. Nothing at all.” And each time, she’d say, “I’m supposed to just sit here?”  I’d tell her yes, and then the cycle would repeat itself.

And then, in addition to her question, I started noticing other things around the room that seemed connected to what she was getting at.

Now, we weren’t visiting in my MawMaw’s private room.  When we arrived at the nursing home, she had been moved to the ‘day room’ for activities with the other residents (which she didn’t seem to want to participate in).  So, while visiting her, we also saw a lot of the other patients.  And while there were a variety of levels of illness (as well as a wide variety of personalities), one common theme seemed to stand out at me.  The theme that my sweet grandmother was trying to convey with that one question she kept asking me.

The search for purpose.

Take one lady for instance.  She kept pushing her little wheelchair around firmly explaining to people that they were not allowed to go certain places.  In fact, she’d block their path if they tried.  (Which in one case resulted in a kick to the leg of the other person in his wheelchair as he was simply trying to go through the doorway. Yikes!)  While little Miss Bossy Pants was an annoyance to all concerned, I started to realize that she was just appointing herself with a purpose.  A misconstrued purpose, maybe, but a purpose nonetheless.  Her job was to tell people where to go and not to go.

And this same lady at one point (when everyone was apparently in their appointed places and she had allowed herself a break from guard duty), rolled herself over to a hamper near the door and, with curiosity, opened the lid and peered in.  What she saw was a mound of dirty, used towels.  So, what does she do?  One by one (until the nurse caught and stopped her), she pulled them out, placed them neatly into her lap, and started folding them and putting them back into the hamper.

She had found a purpose. Folding laundry.

Another woman sat at her table and made bread. No, she didn’t have any flour or shortening or bowls or an oven or any of that. Not that you or I could see, anyway.  But nevertheless, she sat at her table and mixed and kneaded the dough, placed it on the table, patted it out, etc. It took me a while to figure out what she was doing, but once I did, that same thing hit me again.  She had found her purpose.  She had to bake biscuits.  And she was content in doing so.

In every person lay the same idea.  One woman chose to sing, another chose to yell at her kids (who weren’t there)…the list goes on and on.  What looks to those of us in our “right” minds as unnecessary chatter and activities, to them are anything but unnecessary.  They are, in fact, very necessary.  To their livelihood.  To their well-being.

To their sense of purpose.

Which brings me back to my MawMaw.  While sitting there, I was reminded of a quote I once heard.  I couldn’t remember it exactly, but when I got home, I looked it up.

“I am here for a purpose and that purpose is to grow into a mountain, not to shrink to a grain of sand. Henceforth will I apply ALL my efforts to become the highest mountain of all and I will strain my potential until it cries for mercy.”
– Og Mandino

Those are some powerful words there.  How much do we take our purpose for granted?  How much do we complain when we have to go to work, or when we have to drive kids here and there, or when we have yet another activity to have to show up at or to have to devote time to?  Do we ever just stop to bask in the beautiful, yet forgotten, meaning of it all?

We have a purpose.

I turned to my sweet grandmother, with all of this on my mind, and I finally had an answer for her.  The next time she asked me, “What am I supposed to be doing?,” I had her answer.

“MawMaw.  All you have to do is just let us love you.”

purposeblog1

It’s time to rest.

I know that wasn’t enough for her.  And I know she won’t remember my answer for any length of time.  But regardless of whether it seeps into her aging mind on some level, it still remains true.  No, there are no more children to take care of.  No more laundry to fold.  No more dinners to cook or beds to make or groceries to be shopped for.  My MawMaw is right – there is nothing left that she is supposed to ‘do.’  It is time for her, whether she wants to or not, to simply rest.  That’s all.  Just rest.  And to a woman who spent her life as a wife, mother of nine, step-mother to many others, and grandmother and great-grandmother to too many to count, I’m sure that’s a tough blow to take.  But whether she realizes it or not, although there are no physical activities left for her to take care of, her purpose still remains strong and true.

She’s still here because she still has a lesson to teach us.

She may not realize that, but I do.

Thank you, MawMaw.  Because you are serving your purpose, I’ll now go on to serve mine.

(And I’ll try to remember to appreciate every moment of it….)

***

“As far as we can discern, the sole purpose of human existence is to kindle a light in the darkness of mere being.”
– Carl Jung

#tbt Poetry – Silence

In keeping with my “Throwback Thursday” poetry idea from last week, here’s one from 2011.  (Didn’t throwback too far with this one.  Truthfully, I seem to have misplaced my old poetry folder in my recent move, so I’m still searching.  I’ll get to the really old ones as I soon as I find that darn thing….)

***

Silence

Nothingness.
Quiet.
Confusion.
Silence.

Memories begin to drift back to the noise…
Back to the happiness,
the lights, the sounds,
the laughter
Spinning around at top speed on a merry-go-round
Filled with smiles and giggling children and chirping birds
“Tickets, get your tickets!”
Come ride the ride!

Then suddenly…

Silence.

Where did it go?
Was it even real?

I want my money back.

silence

#tbt Poetry – Forgotten Mistress

“A poet is, before anything else, a person who is passionately in love with language.”
– W. H. Auden
I see everyone posting these “Throwback Thursday” photos on Facebook, so I have decided to do my own little blog version of it.  Every Thursday, I plan to post an old poem that I wrote, together with the approximate year it was written.  I used to write a lot of poetry back in the day (not great poetry, mind you) before I started writing the essay/short story style writings that I now prefer.  So, let’s dig out some of this old stuff and broadcast that old undeveloped talent, shall we? 😉

First up, is Forgotten Mistress.  Written in 2003.

Forgotten Mistress

I am looking in the window-
Standing on tiptoe to see-
Watching the life go on inside
The life that doesn’t include me

I see the family that loves him
Who will always welcome him home
I see the good times that abound
As I stand here all alone.

I wonder, Does he see me
Out of the corner of his eye?
Am I included in his vision
As the walls keep me outside?

Am I the secret no one mentions-
The dirty reminder of a fall?
Or have I already been forgotten
Not even thought about at all?

I know that I should turn away
From this sight I cannot bear to see
From watching the life go on inside
The life that doesn’t include me.

But yet, I stand here waiting
For that invitation I will never receive
And I’ll remain outside this window
Until I can find the strength to leave.

mistress

V-Day Giveaway

“A bell is no bell ’til you ring it,
A song is no song ’til you sing it,
And love in your heart
Wasn’t put there to stay –
Love isn’t love
‘Til you give it away.”
~Oscar Hammerstein, Sound of Music, “You Are Sixteen (Reprise)”

Ahhhh.  ‘Tis the season for romance, right?  Chocolate hearts, teddy bears, lovey-dovey sweet nothings….

Blech.

I know, I know…I’m very happily in love and should be happy about Valentine’s Day, right?  Well, I am happy that I’m in a relationship with such a wonderful, amazing man.  Don’t get me wrong.  But the idea that it should all be centered around one day?  Eh.  Pardon my French here, but I just think that’s a bunch of BS.

And besides, I haven’t always been deliriously happy on Valentine’s Day.  As some of you may remember, this wasn’t the case for me last year.  Richard and I had split up.  (And, believe me, Richard just loooooves when I bring this up….).  I wrote a blog (a year ago today actually) about how I had attempted to see Valentine’s Day in a different light that year.  And it worked for a while.  It really did.  But then, a few days later, you’ll see the blog I wrote on the day after Valentine’s Day.  (Aptly titled “The Day After Valentine’s Day…” Man, I was creative back in the old days…)  I had psyched myself to get through that day, and then felt the sadness all over again once it was over.

So, again, yes, I am much much happier this year.  I’m so grateful that Richard and I made it through the hurt and sadness and found our way back to each other.  But regardless of my status this or any year, I still hate the thought of the turmoil that Valentine’s Day puts people through.  I know many people who are recently single who are bracing themselves for the dreaded V-Day just as I had to do last year.  And why is that?  Isn’t every day hard enough on the brokenhearted as it is without having to rub their faces in it once a year?  And if you’re not amongst the brokenhearted and are in a loving relationship now like I am, should you really need one particular day a year to remind you to be good to the one you love?  And do you really need to be pressured into buying expensive gifts to prove said love?

Well, I certainly don’t think so.

So…with that rant out of the way…let’s get to the point of this particular blog.  I decided that maybe I should do a Valentine’s Day give-away of the Chicken Soup for the Soul book that my story is in.  While, yes, it is a book filled with happy love stories, it’s also a book filled with real love stories.  And some of them, just like real life, don’t necessarily have such happy endings.  The book is divided into subject headings and one of them is entitled “Let’s Forget this Ever Happened.”  Another is called “It’s Not Me, It’s You” and contains a story called “Worst Date Ever.”  Anyway, you catch my drift right?  These stories are real.  And I think it’s important for us all to remember that there are a variety of “statuses” out there on stupid stinky ole Valentine’s Day.  If you’re not one of the ones in a happy relationship, don’t sweat it.  When we’re in a place of sadness, it’s easy to get it into our head that we’re the only one feeling this way.  That everyone out there has a partner and we’re the only one who is alone.  Well, you’re not alone.  Ever.  And here’s how I want to show you that.

If you read this blog, I want you to comment below.  (If you’re reading this on Facebook, you’re welcome to comment there too if you can’t figure out how to comment on the actual blog site).  I want you to tell me what your relationship status is, and how you plan to ‘celebrate’ Valentine’s Day.  And I want all the stories.  From the good to the bad to the ugly.  If you’re happily in love and plan the sweetest V-Day on the planet, go ahead and tell us about it.  We’ll try not to gag.  And if you’re miserable and hateful and spiteful and grumpy – I want to hear your thoughts too.  Really.

Why am I doing this?  I want people to read the variety of answers that I hope to get.  I want people to see that in the answers to this question, there probably lies someone out there in the same position you’re in…as is always the case, no matter the circumstance.  We are just never ever alone.  Really.  We’re not.  Will my plan work?  Eh, I don’t know.  But I’m willing to bet that if people participate, it’s at least going to be entertaining to read, don’t ya think!?  And keep in mind, I don’t want an essay or anything.  Just one sentence will do.  Whether it’s “I’m single and I plan to curl in a ball and cry into the wee hours of the morn,” or “I’m deliriously in love and plan to chronicle ever single moment of my dinner/dancing/smooching lovefest on Facebook for all the world to see,” we want to read them all.  Well.  Sort of.  😉

Chicken Soup Dating GameAnd, then, on the dreaded V-Day, I will put all of the commenters names in a hat (or bowl or scattered all the floor, whatever) and I will draw a name at random at 3:00 p.m. and will send the winner an autographed copy of Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Dating Game.  Check back here on my blog for the winner’s name and instructions on how to claim your prize.  If you’ve already purchased a book from me, enter anyway!  You can give it as a gift, maybe even with a copy of this blog so they know why you’re giving it to them.  Or, you may even opt to participate but not accept the prize and allow me to draw another name.  Either way – you’re a winner.  Right?  Let’s spread the love, people.  (And if I wasn’t a struggling, broke wannabe writer, I’d give you something better than a book, but hey – you can only give what ya got, right?…)

So.  We good?  You understand the rules?  Ok, then.  Let’s do this.  Ready, set….comment.

Seriously.  Show someone they’re not alone this Valentine’s Day.  That may just be all one person out there needs to know.

***

“If you have only one smile in you, give it to the people you love.”
– Maya Angelou