Thursday, March 22, 2012

Dreams Really Do Come True

My friend, my dear long-time friend, is getting married next weekend. The picture above shows how these lovely and loving people looked when they first met, as star-crossed lovers, many decades ago. She was newly-divorced and tied to New York by a joint custody agreement with her ex. He was barely separated from his unhappy marriage partner in Montana. Yet when they first encountered one another at a professional conference, both of them felt the magical soul stirring which made their meeting unforgettable. They corresponded and spoke on the phone some, but to avoid compounding their mutual sadness, they went about the business of life apart, because they had to.

My girlfriend married a second time and was prematurely widowed after just a few years. She dated and had one long-term relationship, but never forgot the man she felt had really looked into her heart, and she kept a flame burning there always for the wonderment of his presence in the world.

The sun and moon make their cycles; children grow and become parents on their own; we age and change and continue to seek fulfillment. And the world, too, changes around us. Indeed. On a lark, my friend used the technology of today, Facebook, to perhaps get a glimpse of her long lost love. And it worked.

Once again, they communicated via the Internet, phone and e-mail. And then he invited her for a visit to his new home in the southwest. Their work brought them together on the East Coast as well, or perhaps he made his schedule veer that way. And then she, who was always anchored in and anxious to leave the "old home place", finally, happily, was able to sell it (even in a horrible real estate market) could move in with her one true love.

There are not many people who have been so consistently present in my life as this woman. We worked together professionally, celebrated one another's milestones and achievements, and held one another's hands through desperate moments. She was the one who made the match between me and my husband. And now, as my friend approaches age 60, I get to celebrate the best match she's ever made. Next weekend she and her beau will be officially united. Certainly not because they need to, but because they want to and are daring enough to make their lifelong dream a reality.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Time to Plan Ahead

We can chart our future clearly and wisely only 
when we know the path which has led to the present. -Adlai E. Stevenson

At dinner with friends recently the conversation veered in the direction of "solving the world's problems. You know those discussions, focusing in alternately on human relations, the economy, politics, and climate/environment. And the challenges we face in trying to achieve safety and justice in each of those arenas. Of course no real solutions ever come from the flow of opinions, but by listening with an open mind and putting in my own two cents, I gained some ideas that shifted my perspective and hopefully influenced others slightly as well.

In the discussion that honed in on economy and energy, there were folks who believe "technology has helped us develop the lifestyle we enjoy today, and technology will help us out when fossil fuel is gone" and others who believe that "the only answer is to give up the modern lifestyle, and live like we did in the old days." I was a bit surprised by how many times my comments reflected, in one way or another, my participation in Transition Hendersonville and Transition Asheville

The Transition Towns initiative seems to me to be a sensible melding of those two positions: employing our creative, cooperative talents to create new technologies and effective solutions and proactively, voluntarily reducing our dependence on non-sustainable behaviors that diminish our chances for long-term survival. I'm really enjoying the people I'm meeting and the skills I'm learning through The "Transition Town Initiative." It is a mindset spreading virually around the world.  

Here's a video the summarizes where we've come as a species in the developed world, where we're headed, and how we can pitch in now to prepare for "business as unusual" in the future. I hope you'll consider finding and investigating whether you want to participate in a transition group near you.


The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.
Eleanor Roosevelt

Monday, March 19, 2012

It's So Hard to Wait

In our region master gardeners tell us that May 15 is the magic date when it's safe to plant outdoors. Supposedly that's the latest date when a frost could still occur. This year, it's been so beyond spring, summer-like that it is nearly impossible to hold myself back from planting. Easter is still two weeks off, but the daffodils and star magnolias have already bloomed and gone, and the forsythia, cherry trees, and hyacinths are now fired up and dancing gaily. Even the peonies and the day lillies are beginning to poke their way up. I think they're about two months early. I'm excited to see that the blueberry bush I received as a volunteer appreciation gift from the NC Arboretum last year is sprouting new growth. All seems right with the world, no matter how unnatural this seasonal pace may be.

Highbush Blueberry
I've controlled myself on my frequent visits to the deck garden. I've only trimmed a bit of dead wood, reduced the mulch cover from the potted strawberries and dared to sprinkle some marigold seeds collected from last year's plants in the pots where I hope they survive to get an early start. But I won't plant new veggies or flowers until, well, at least till Easter has come and gone. I promise.

Instead, I've begun to turn the sunroom into an incubator. Cuttings from my wintered over geraniums, begonias and even impatiens are taking root in short glasses filled with pebbles. I'll transplant them to outdoor window boxes later on. The two tomato seeds I planted in peat pots last week have put out their first two cotyledon or seed leaves. So exciting!

I rotate the tray daily to encourage them to stand up straight as they wait for the more-recent plantings to join them. They also get spritzed every morning, along with the tray of peas I've prepared.

These tiny plants will be separated into paper muffin tin liners and given, one per family, to the members of the High Vista Community Garden at our first organizational meeting of the season next weekend. This party favor is meant to reinforce my garden motto, "Give Peas a Chance." Honestly, the anticipation of all the fun to come is a force to be reckoned with.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

We Are The Heroes

We're facing challenging times. Seems like there's more than enough to worry about. A sluggish worldwide economy, natural disasters, inflammatory media, wars in the Middle East, conflicts in Africa and Asia, global warming, domestic abuse, an epidemic of childhood obesity. Lots of troublesome issues, now as always. Many people are hoping for Superman to show up or be elected to "make it all right." I just don't feel that's the answer.

Here's a poem I wrote in 1993 (before Barack Obama ever had a campaign slogan.) It's about real heroes who are close at hand. Please excuse my feeble attempt at making it a rap song, but I think the content still hits the mark.

My Hero - originally called, "Mr. Pos"

We Are The Heroes For Our Times

Our problems look enormous and the world seems bleak,
So listen up people to what I speak.
Hear my words, 'cause they're not absurd -
"Fight doom and gloom, beat creeps and crimes,
You are the hero for our times."
Open up your ears, 'cause my words are true,
You are the hero...and you...and you.
Yo, pay attention to these hip hop rhymes,
For we are the heroes for these times.
We are the heroes for these times.

Hey, no matter where you're at, you're in for stormy weather.
Yeah, we're all in this together.
Our problems can't be solved by any one election,
That's not enough correction; we need a new direction.
It's not up to Mr. President,
For in America we are the government.
You've got to participate to build a world that's really great.

Look in the mirror and you will see,
You are the one and you are the key.
Look below the surface and you will find,
You're more than body, heart and mind.
Answers don't fall from the sky that's blue.
They come from the power inside of you...and you...
...and, yep, me too!

So as this hip hop song goes round and round,
Get in step with its positronic sound.
Yo, get in step with its positronic sound.

If you want to have an impact, get back on the right track,
It's a fact, Jack -
We can eliminate what's rude and crude,
But we all have to watch our own attitude.
Hey, look into your own attitude.

Now is the time to get upbeat,
Put our heads together, so our minds can meet.
Use your will to create a new beginning,
Everyone is winning, and it's only the first inning.

Danger everywhere triggers off fears - has for years -
But we can overcome with the force of bright ideas.
Human beings are the most adaptable of creatures,
With a ton of classy features,
We're the dream team!
So listen to my scheme.

We have our differences, and they make us strong,
It's OK to sing your own song,
But we've got to get along.
Let's take responsibility,
'Cause freedom isn't really free.

So pitch in, make room, go the extra mile,
And do it with a smile!
Let's focus on what's going right - what can be done,
And let's have FUN.
Our brightest visions can come true,
I make it happen and so do you...and you...and you,
And hey, you too!

So I'll conclude by repeating the message of my rhymes,
We are the heroes for our times,
We are the heroes for our times!

Every enthusiastic child, woman and man,
Say it with me - "Yes, I can!"
Ev-er-y enthusiastic child, woman and man,
Say it with me - "Yes, I can!"

I am asking, "Is there someone to carry out my plan?"
Let me hear you, "YES, WE CAN!"

Monday, March 12, 2012

Hill? What Hill? Did You See a Hill?

Here's me in 2005. Jumping for joy with my Granddaughter Lily. In mid-life. Living the good life.

Who knew that In June of 2006 the autoimmune liver disease which had been surreptitiously attacking my body for fifty years would have achieved its evil advantage. By August of that year, when my son Chuck came to visit his ailing step-mom, this was what had become of me.
I was down to 80 pounds...
and clearly did not have long to live.
Through the power of self-help and the support of friends and family I was able to get on the liver transplant waiting list at NY Presbyterian Hospital-Columbia Medical Center (that's a story, by itself, for another time). With the strength of prayer circles far and wide and what I believe to be a series of miracles, I was able to reach the top of the list and on November 20, 2006, the liver of an anonymous donor (deceased) was transplanted into my near-dead body. If you've ever had any doubts about the value of organ donation, take a look at this. This is me two days after the operation.

Happily able to eat again.
After three months of challenging but gratifying post-op recuperation, On March 11, 2007, I celebrated my 60th birthday in New York with a new short hairdo and a new lease on life.

The following day my unimaginably wonderful husband, caretaker, soul mate, and best friend helped me back into our Subaru for a return journey to our real home in the mountains. Here's us at the Welcome Center at the border between Tennessee and North Carolina.

Needless to say, turning the big 6-0 in 2007 was a happy milestone.

While I'm amazed and immensely grateful for the five years of borrowed time that has passed since then, enabling me to reach 65 in 2012, I must admit I'm finding this a most difficult rite of passage. Honestly, 40 was a no brainer and at 50 I felt in my prime, but receiving that Medicare card in the mail? That was a smack in the face. There's a point in life where you have to admit that you are officially a Senior; and now I've reached it. Shopping in the junior department is long ago. Googly-eyed stares from men on the street is a thing of the past. There's quite a gap between me and even the forty-somethings.

I know, I know, "You're only as old as you think you are." But my slowly aging friends who are still comfortable saying, "She's only 65" with a straight face? I think they're in a state of denial. There's no "only" conceivable to appropriately place before that number. Almost all of the generation before us is gone. We're now the senior citizens of our time and getting older by the minute. 

The old adage goes, "Fake it till you make it," so I'm adjusting my thoughts in line with Mark Twain's philosophy. He said, "Age is mind over matter. I don't mind, so it don't matter." Age 65 and getting older by the minute. All righty then. You'll see crows feet proudly crinkling the corners of my wise old eyes and delicious smile lines framing my sassy-old-broad grin as I say, "Hoo-rah! I made it!"

April is National Organ Donation Month: Currently more than 110,000 men, women and children are awaiting organ transplants to save their lives. Thousands more are in need of tissue and cornea transplants to restore their mobility and sight. Register to be an organ, eye and tissue donor today and provide hope to those who wait.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

And again

I couldn't help sharing this illustration.

 I copied it from a blog post in Art-is-try, by my friend Erin Keane. Erin found it in a children's book recently, as she worked on some creative challenges.

For me, like watching puppies and babies, it's a great reminder of what it looks like to really let go of tension and accept the gift of this moment, this day. 

Enjoy all your moments.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Continuous Beginnings

On Continuous Beginnings
original art by Sharon Lamhut Willen


Beginnings are cool places
Where no one is well-known
And nothing has gone wrong yet.

Daring, scary places
We never get over
Until we grow fond of
Continuous beginnings.


There is no personal history.
 It’s always the first inning.

Today is a new gift to enjoy.
The challenges of yesterday
Have either evolved or devolved.

No time is the same as this time.
Progress is a matter of
Continuous beginnings.


Each day for as long as
We’ve been counting and before

The same things have been happening

To different people
In different places
Again and again and again.
Continuous beginnings.

Monday, March 5, 2012

In Tough Times

Doesn't this quote from Pema Chodron strike a familiar chord? It is an echo of the wisdom expressed by my friends in the Soul Sisters Cook Club. There are no coincidences - the message is worthy of being reinforced, over and over.
"As long as we're caught up in always looking for certainty and happiness, rather than honoring the taste and smell and quality of exactly what is happening, as long as we're always running from discomfort, we're going to be caught in a cycle of unhappiness and discomfort, and we will feel weaker and weaker. This way of seeing helps us develop inner strength. And what's especially encouraging is the view that inner strength is available to us at just the moment when we think that we've hit the bottom, when things are at their worst." (from Practicing Peace in Time of War) ~ Pema Chodron

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Seasonal Stir-Up

Spring Fever (from Wikipedia)

I've had both this week - and in spades. Restless energy accompanied by a debilitating lack of concentration - I wanted to do everything creative and productive and restorative and culinary and horticultural and...and...and.... But, at the same time, was unable to focus for a minute on anything. Started projects and piles of paper and supplies collected on every horizontal surface in every room.

I was plagued by symptoms that were either horrible allergic reactions to the burgeoning bloom (trees, shrubs, flowers coaxed into early awakening by the unusually warm winter and 70 degree spring days we've "enjoyed") or an actual undiagnosed illness. My sinuses were so swollen and painful that the only way to approach relief was to curl up in a fetal position and push myself into dreamland through rhythmic (though necessarily shallow) breathing. Much as I needed the stress relief of a good yoga session or some aerobics, I was prevented from doing any exercise (no Wi-Fit indoors, no walking outdoors) by joints screaming in pain anytime my body was upright. Neck, elbows, fingers, knees, ankles and beyond - if it could move, it hurt to do so and throbbed or ached if left alone. Oh woe was me.

Remember Aunt Polly giving Tom Sawyer Castor Oil to fight Spring Fever? Well, her instincts were on target. Honestly, I think it's a real disease. Spring stirs up the swamp water in me every year. My desire to bring forth something new swirls powerfully from deep in my soul to the surface of my consciousness, where it unfortunately meets up with all manner of resistance. As my skin and respiratory system are busy struggling to adapt to an onslaught of tiny new particles in the air, my interest in food and subsequent digestion become erratic, adding lack of nourishment to deprivation from quality sleep. Down and down I go physically, and that's when my spirit sinks. It would not be inaccurate for me to scream at this point, "Help! I've fallen (into a depression) and can't get up."

Rx for survival:
  1. Take it as it comes, accept the reality of my personal frailties.
  2. Give in to the forced "vacation" - no workout, no blogging, no web-surfing, no tax prep, no seed starting, no Spring cleaning.... 
  3. Repeat four times daily, "This too shall pass."
  4. Drink lots of water, eat what pleases, and begin the use of antihistamine tabs.
I hope your week was better than mine and that you'll accept this as my apology for my recent disappearance.