Friday, 30 January 2015

The Story of our Lives

I often say when we sit on a bench watching people go by, when we look at people at stop lights, when we see houses fly by as we drive through a community, that everyone has a tale to tell. Each person in every vehicle, every home, or walking along the road, has a life filled with hopes and dreams and woes and heartbreak.

This week the sun grew stronger and we went back to Pier 19 Restaurant. The three-dollar margaritas bought me a delicious buzz and a small sideshow of dolphins. While we sipped, soaking in the warmth and water, many people strolled to the end of the pier where we sat and began a conversation. And, it struck me—not only does everyone have a story, they are also anxious to tell it.

En route, we stayed in Indianapolis. I went down for breakfast and the young man spooning out eggs was talkative. It was his first day back to work and he was happy to have had the time off because his brother came home with his first baby. A boy. Cute as a button and, wow, his brother had a baby. He’d never been an uncle before and he wanted the world to know about it.

The next morning we were in Arkansas. The weather forecast was dismal, predicting mass flooding and potential tornadoes. I scooped the eggs onto my plate as the cook told  me about another flood when she had to decide whether to try and walk home or not. The water was high and she had small children waiting for her. “Well, I figured if Jesus could do it, so could I.” And, she did, though I’m not sure she actually had to walk on water to accomplish it.

The other day we stopped at the local beach bar, the Wanna Wanna. We met a retired couple. They had taught together throughout their careers and had stayed in the peripheral of each other’s lives. Her husband died eight years ago, and she kept meaning to reconnect with her colleague. She didn’t until he had a stroke and could not return home without care. She took up the challenge and they are now incredibly happy together.

These folks learned very little about me. Not because I'm not willing to talk but because they didn’t care to find out. They wanted to share their lives, their stories. As well they should. They were rich and meaningful. And, I listened. Because that’s my job. To mark the stories of our lives. Not just my life. Our lives.

Saturday, 24 January 2015

Life is made of ever so many partings welded together. ― Charles Dickens, Great Expectations

Newly arrived in our vacation home, ready for our first snowbird experience, we plummeted into the dark abyss of depression for a few days. The weather was lousy, the house unfamiliar and motivation to do anything was lacking. Two cats in separate corners, we slowly, suspiciously licked our paws, wondering where the enemy hid. Why? Where was it coming from? If we complained, were we not doing an incredible disservice to our colleagues still at the helm, to every person who was fighting something far greater than our…our what?

We do not tend to wallow, especially simultaneously, yet even knowing we had no right, we dipped into a melancholy neither of us understood. But, I think, it has been revealed. This week, the sun shone. We uncurled and moved toward its warmth. We also unravelled this strange emotional turmoil, batted it around and saw it clearly for what it was.

The marble in the graveyard of our careers was clean and pristine, a reflection of our innate personalities—planned and organized. It had stood there since June, isolated, alone and unacknowledged. We had not mourned the loss of professions that meant so much to us, peer groups that are irreplaceable, the piece of us that will never find a home again. It is the loss of youth, of years of hard work and dreams, of infinite aspirations.
This week, we inscribed that marker with our stories and said goodbye. And, we got resoundingly drunk as we re-shared those tales that, woven together, are the tapestry of our working lives. Thank you to each of you who has contributed a strand.

Saturday, 17 January 2015

Unleashed Joy

Like many others, we have long anticipated out first year of retirement. Dirty little secret—we got to do it at a ridiculously young age and feel like we have stolen the crown jewel. And, truly, we did. It just hasn’t felt like it the past few weeks.

If you don’t know why we are in South Padre Island, Texas, scroll back a few blog entries. For those of you who are loyal followers, (Hi Cathy, Zan Marie, Spesh, Nicole, Suzanne, Connie, Ro), you know that we are here with the best of nostalgic and romantic intentions. Well, we can sing all of the reminiscent Whorehouse lyrics we want, but it doesn’t soothe a snowbird’s desire to escape the cold.

I have done little writing this week. I have floundered beneath the weight of six degrees of rain and self-pity. I keep trying to rewrite the opening of Raven’s Path but it falls as flat as I feel. I look around our lovely South Padre home, the rain pelting, the windows rattling with each chilling blast, and it is frustrating to know that I would have accomplished more at home in minus twenty temperatures.

Yet, if I look for it, there is gold in the dullest of hills. We took the girls to the beach the other evening. Another gale was blowing and it was stinking cold. A lone couple passed us on the pristine 34-mile beach, their dog off the leash. After they passed we thought, why not? We unleashed the girls.

They romped and played. They chased seagulls and waves and challenged the relentless wind. For half an hour, they knew true, unadulterated freedom for the first time in their eight years on this planet. DH and I laughed with joy at their joy. 

When we let the girls go, they experienced a newfound sense of liberty in a fresh setting. We gave them an emotional “knowing” they have never experienced. When they cry or yip in their sleep, I pray it is because their dreams now have an exciting new context and that they feel time and again the joy of their first real unleash.

(As I post this, the sun is shining and the temperature rising. Perhaps a little good karma for seeing the silver lining?)

Saturday, 10 January 2015

This Moment Is All There Is—Lenny Kravitz

Many of the sites I follow have focussed on the tradition of goal setting for a new year. I think it is wise to do that, to have some sense of where you are heading. There is truth in the old adage, “If you don’t know where you are going, how will you know when you get there?” That sense of destination can be a great motivator. However, there are caveats. If you keep your eyes solely on that goal, and it remains out of reach, it can undo your enthusiasm and defeat you. Or, if you do get there through singular focus, what did you miss along the way?

I want to be a published author. That is not in sight yet, but I am certain it is around the bend. Yesterday, I read several chapters on plot and structure. I wrote a little…very little. I visited all of my writing sites. I took a long walk with DH and the girls. We cooked dinner together and cuddled afterward as the wind picked up and the evening grew cold. Those were my benchmarks for success for Friday, January 9, 2015. Each one important to my end goal, each one rewarding in the here and now.

Remember to honour the touchstones. It is as important to acknowledge each professional and personal step you take along the path to your destination as it is to set your sight on a final target. Work to recognize all of the small daily objectives you accomplish. Not only do these pave the way to your grander ambitions, if you celebrate them, they keep you in the moment. And, those moments add up to your life. Don’t let them slide by because you are too busy peering down the road.


Monday, 5 January 2015

Road Trip! Are We There Yet????

Are we there yet?
Yes, we are. Finally. And we are safe. Actually, beyond safe. We are snug and secure and, possibly, just a wee bit inebriated in our relief. Travelling has turned bags under eyes into hound dog replicas. I keep telling myself that that is okay. I am getting older and it shows. And that is just fine. Perhaps the R & R will soften the caverns but, really, I am alive, well, and happy.
Four days on the road; no snow but a threat of flash flooding and tornadoes, and we are comfortably ensconced near the most amazing beach I believe I have ever seen.  And, it is a three minute walk from our house!  More than that, we sat in the sun by our little pool in the backyard and celebrated the 8th birthday of these two little fur-beings who bring nothing but laughter and love into our lives. It is not as warm as I would like, but it doesn't matter. It does not get any better. Happy birthday Ginger and Spice!