Monthly Archives: June 2012

vantage points

Today is my birthday, I am 58. And I am happy. At 58, my happiness comes from internal factors, not external things. By now, like Anne Morrow Lindberg writes in Gifts From the Sea, I have shed many shells, especially the heaviest most cumbersome of all, ego. I am feeling free from the external pressures of society and its distorted definition of how my life should be.

 I really just wanted to post and acknowledge how wonderful this vantage point is in life and encourage you to look forward to it or for those of you already “here” , look ahead with anticipation. I look back on the journey thus far and I see my evolution. I see the certainties I have always known, my core that was there in college as an art student and in my youth. I was in a place of “truth”, a place where I stayed in touch with myself and what I believed.I read books like Lust for Life and kept in touch with “me” through journals and of course, I painted.  But, then, I see the detours I took. I consider these detours weakness in my journey – places where I was successfully influenced by external forces and I deviated from my core values.My fault.My bad.

 I feel I am back where I belong now and it is  comfortable and right, for me.  I do, at 58, feel some anxiety, however. It usually manifests itself as apprehension about the future for my children, and your children. I watch them as they go down their paths and hope that, for the most part, their decisions are authentic and come from a place inside of them, a place where it is only their voice, their spirit that they hear; I hope they can keep the noise out. But, I also know that with living, there comes inevitable “lessons” and we all need them so that at 58, we can feel we have gathered enough knowledge to feel, in some small way, that we have “arrived”.

So, today is my birthday and I’m happy. Thank you so much for the wishes; those wishes, those acknowledgments, and you are the “things” in life that, for me, matter.

b u
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b u

I am not happy with my post from yesterday so I am up early and re posting. I did not make the point I wanted to make; I was not successful in telling you what I wanted to tell you. Shit. I think, in simple, early morning raw words, I just wanted to say, let it be, be patient and let yourself evolve and be who you were born to be (and extend that offer to your children). I am so worn down from watching society tell us what we should be, laying out the blueprint for our cookie cutter lives. I am just offering a few words of support to firm up your feelings about who you REALLY are.
 I don’t watch much TV (I wish TV did not even exist) but sometimes in the late afternoon I need to do something mindless and I will sit in my chair with coffee and watch something – usually the Food Channel or the weather. Anyway, I cannot last very long because within 15 minutes I have been bombarded with so many “suggestions” on how to live my life all the while looking at these overly stylized fake people. Honestly, I feel like the most uncreative impotent person by the time I have absorbed 15 minutes of that noise. My husband watches a lot of the Discovery channel and History channel – I can support that – it’s the commercials and primetime that squash the life out of me.

 Anyway, back to the point – I don’t want some exaggerated stranger telling me where I should be in my life and what I should be doing and then continue on to “suggest” what is “normal” and try to make me feel bad if I am not “there” .That’s what I felt when I saw the daylily – it was there doing the thing it was supposed to do – blooming in the midst of neglect and not paying any mind to its surroundings – it just did its thing; it offered its natural beauty amongst and in spite of the adversity of its environment.

 It is difficult to not be negatively affected by the propaganda that surrounds us and even bombards us – especially now with technology literally plugged into our souls. This is the exact reason I started this blog, I had to rebel against the trash that was being pitched at me every day – I had to find a place where I could force myself to think of the simple things in life – the things that really mattered. It became a diving force to notice the dragonflies on the clothesline and the beauty of the midsummer sky, so that, in the evening, at the end of my day, I could document it and share it with you – simple, real words to read without propaganda and distortion. A soft place to land. Other than being an observer of life for nearly 58 years and an artist, I have no qualifications to say the things I say – I do not have a certificate hanging on my wall telling me I know everything, I am just writing what I see and, as I said, you can read it or not…I have to write.

Ultimately, this is where I go to be me and if there is something I write that inspires you to be you, I have reached another level of achievement and I feel especially happy. I tried once to not blog, but I was not able to …I have to write things down just as I have to paint. That is who I am and the whole purpose of this entry is to reinforce the importance of being who you are, not what someone tells you you are supposed to be. Anyway, to conclude, I hope you can battle and win against the propaganda that our world is laced with and, like the daylily from yesterday, b u.

if you have a few minutes, this video is wonderful … william emailed it to me a while back and i just watched it this morning; it seemed like serendipity that i watched it right after this post!

Let it be

If you just let nature take its course you always win. I have realized all too graphically throughout my life that this is truth. I really wasn’t planning on an entry today – so much to do when you return from a trip, but I was outside and I walked past my tumbling down and mostly rotten garden shed, a sight that can send negativity through my shallow worldly concept, when I noticed these  daylilies growing there so beautifully not minding at all that the space they shared was “unsightly”; they were going to bloom and  be beautiful; they were going to do what they were meant to do, because it was time, no matter what the environment, not any different than a dandelion that struggles and finds its way through the crack in a sidewalk.
 I am one who believes that Nature has all of the answers; we just need to be able to open our minds more to “see” and this daylily standing there so graceful and proud in front of the tumbling down shed allowed me to do just that.It was taking its course, regardless of what superficial manmade occurence was going on around it. I suppose that if we could be more patient with life, with our children, with our careers, with ourselves, we would realize that Nature will prevail and all will be what is intended; we will blossom, when it’s time, but never before.

The determination of the daylily took away the self-inflicted stress I was feeling – you know that anxiety when you come home after a trip – so much to do!!! –so I “released” and continued to walk through the yard to “see”. I saw how big and busy the dragonflies were by mid-June and noticed the figs were a bit early this year. I saw the zinnias standing there rigid and ready to be cut and put in a glass vase in my kitchen, I saw my mother’s four o’clocks – seeds she scattered 27 years ago when i moved here, I saw the concord grapes that I am sharing with the squirrels and the birds and amongst all this glory of summer, strangely, I saw Fall; I saw the grapefruits and oranges heavy on the citrus trees and the pecans quietly growing in their little pods; they made me think of the cooler weather and the holiday season that follows and that felt good; Nature’s promise that life will go on.

I took a few shots just to give a visual on some of the goings on of summer and hope that you “see” and can “let it be”.
concord grapes for “sharing”

something beautiful that just “appeared”

beauty from my mother


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Here I am in Boulder, at the threshold of another chapter of my life; this one is going to be about adult children finding their way, a way without their parent’s “participation”. I could title it “I Got That Mom”. It’s good, it’s what I set out to do, raise them to be independent and to be courageous and creative enough to follow dreams, but it’s poignant; it’s hard to say goodbye to a role I cherished for 31 years.

The most arresting certainty that things in my life had changed happened at a very unlikely place; it occurred at a rest stop in the middle of the wheat fields of Kansas. My husband and I had been traveling for hours on Hwy. 70 and it was time to stretch our middle aged legs after miles and miles of “amber fields of grain”. We finally came upon an abbreviated sort of rest stop and pulled in. Right there at that moment I realized something was over – it hit me in the heart when I saw only my husband up ahead on the sidewalk – the kids weren’t there anymore but like a figment, I could so easily see the four boys with ball caps and abounding energy and Elizabeth garbed totally in pink with sunglasses and sandals trailing behind or holding one of her brother’s hand. It was there in my mind so vivid and clear and it was difficult admitting that “we will never pass that way again.” That wonderful part of my life as “mom” is over; the kids are gone.

 I am happy about where all of them have gone and I am certainly enjoying the ease of travel but it amazes me how momentary times of your life are – they leave your reach so quickly it seems. Anyway, I am here in Boulder with the twins and they are having a wonderful experience and are writing the chapters of their own lives. I am now more of an onlooker and I think that in time, I will grow to love this more passive part I now have. I hope I have done my best and I look forward to reading each new chapter they write.

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what to do?

I couldn’t sleep past 5 am this morning even though my bedtime last night approached midnight. It’s good though, I have wanted to see the summer sunrise and hear the silence in my house and I did this morning. There is something special about the beginning of a day – the feeling of aloneness, a place to connect with yourself before the rattle of the day distracts you and you become the chameleon once again. I can see myself more clearly  and I can admit my fears and flaws  and I can get to know me a bit better here in the very early morning when the world is somewhere in the distant and I am “alone” in it. I set goals for myself in the quietness of this morning, simple things like starting a canvas I have already created in my head and packing away the childhood memories in Matt and Drew’s room and then more difficult things like completing  the unending book I began nearly a decade ago, a memoir about Miss Sue and another goal to untie a few more apron strings, to “let go” , to redefine my role as mom and view it more as a sideline “job” while , all the while, wearing my heart on the outside– this is tough after so many intense years of being in the middle of things but it’s rather restful also – less doing and more enjoying. This post is going nowhere…

a display of last year’s ambition
It’s nearly noon now and I have some reoccurring thought in my head. It’s about change, lifestyle change. I can’t maintain the appetite of my youth – I have to let a few things go before I get weighted down with age and upkeep. I think I will begin with the garden. I have been gardening in one capacity or another since I was 15; Miss Sue taught and inspired me then. I have, by early June, semi abandoned mine and as I look at it I realize it is like a child and needs a lot of attention if it is to blossom and reach its potential. As I look within myself I realize I am not willing to give it the time it needs, at least not now. I have discovered this wonderful place to give me compensation, however, the local Farmer’s Market. I will limit my garden next spring to a square root box containing tomatoes bell peppers and eggplant and maybe cucumbers. Done.

an easter egg chick
 I am still debating about my chickens at this point. I really do enjoy the fresh eggs and do not trust anything in the supermarket so perhaps I will scale down my flock from 18 to just 4. This will have to take its natural course of course, for I do not cull chickens. From this bucolic scale down I propose and post, I hope to unveil time – time to paint, write, and leave, just for small excursions probably to visit my nomadic kids.

Then there is the question of this house – this huge great old house where I raised my family – what do I do? What do we do – us who have rooted ourselves in memories and a place and now want more flexible time and less domestic work; it seems a choice between sentiment and pragmatism – who wins? It’s a great place to accommodate my large family but nearly each day of the year, after Elizabeth leaves, it will be an oversized space for just two people. I do not want to be its slave nor do I want it to be my money pit – I can think of so many other places to throw money, places that make a contribution to someone. I am not prepared to answer this nagging question just now, I think more needs to unravel before I know the answer. I will just pay mind to the contents at this point and try to lighten the interior load and perhaps one day soon, I will know what to do with the rest.
It’s difficult dealing with the wonderful memories of this place – perhaps I stayed too long?

Ok.There you have a fair portion of a summer day’s idle rambling – questions posed, few answered. Exhausting, but it does help to write it down.

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Be mindful of these moments

I did something powerful this week; I reached a breakthrough in my healing, my getting past the deep emotion attached to losing my mother;  I went to City Park in New Orleans and I had Elizabeth with me (and a camera). It has been almost exactly 15 years since I was there. It was the last little adventure I had with my mom before her death in august 1997. She didn’t feel well that summer of 1997, tired and not much enthusiasm towards things but she did want to see Elizabeth ride the century old carousel “before I die” she declared. How often do we carelessly use that catch phrase, “before I die” – I never took it literally; sadly, however,  it was prophetic .

 Anyway, we did go to the City Park in New Orleans that summer – my mom, myself, and all five of my children – Jon was 16, Will 14, Matt and Drew 9, and Elizabeth 2. It was a fun day, we had spent the night before at the Hotel Monteleon on Royal and went to the park the next morning. The old oaks were still there as well as Storyland – things I remember as a child . The big feature, however and the reason for the visit, was the carousel. It was, at the time, 91 years old.

 “Since 1906 little kids and kids at heart have enjoyed the “flying horses” of City Park’s antique carousel, one of only 100 antique wooden carousels in the country and the last one in Louisiana. The carousel, featuring the masterwork of famed carousel carvers Looff and Carmel, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and its renovation garnered national attention and praise from the National Historic Preservation Society.”

My mom was so right in her prediction – Elizabeth loved it, again and again and again. I see my mom sitting on the nearby bench watching Elizabeth  go around and around. I wondered why she was so intent on and content to  just sit there. Now I understand , she was feeling so badly then; there was a yet unknown cancer inside and these were her last days. I look back, as we all sometimes do, with regret. I had no idea that my barely 65 year old mother was that sick and that this trip would be the last one with my 2 year old daughter.
 I often go back to that day and relive all that I can to keep the memory alive,  but until yesterday, I have not been able to go back to that physical place. After hurricane Katrina, I was so sad that the park had taken on so much water and damage but thanks to the good people of New Orleans, the park is as it was. I was able to see a bit of stress on some of the ancient oaks but I feel certain they are being cared for and will outlive me. Elizabeth was a good sport for me and let me photograph her around the park – we went to the places I remember her going with my mom.

Curiously , the girl operating the carousel saw us and when the last child was gone, asked if I would like a picture of Elizabeth on one of the horses. 

With a bit of a blur through the lens, I saw her  again and I knew my mom was there , perhaps on the bench, watching.

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