Listening to the Landscape of the Heart: What a Single Mom Does With Time Off: UPDATE!

I love to talk but, I am listening more. To others, yes. And mostly to the landscape visions of my heart. Three months ago, I got honest about feeling depleted: not knowing what to do with myself when my vibrant nine year old is off adventuring with her dad. When I attended my 30th high school reunion, I re-found my fifth grade best friend, Jenn. My heart stirred. I wanted to see her again. I wanted to recapture the fun, silly, “class dreamer” that thrived during high school — I wanted to see her (meaning Pamela) again, too.

So, I meditated. I listened. I got clear. And I planned.

I began to envision the things I love most: walking with a friend on the beach, farm fruits and flowers, nostalgic novels, memory making with my parents, and grooving to ELVIS (yup, I said ‘Elvis’).

Then, I pulled out the calendar, projected ahead, set dates, sent text messages, and penciled in the plans on the paper calendar (yup, I said ‘paper calendar’)

This past weekend was the realization of one of those projected “dates”: a morning outing with my friend Jen. Despite a cloudy day, Jen and I planned to eat breakfast, stroll, and reminisce at Front Beach in Rockport, Massachusetts.

It became our time to become chatty-giggly-preteen-girls again! 

 

We spent the morning revisiting over fluffy omelets in Nate’s Cafe, reimagining frolicking fun in a stone tower overlooking the sea, and recreating high school memories in a scenic garden: “We could play cards in the tower overlooking the beach…” I dreamed, “…or we could redesign our Senior Pictures, as they would look today.”

We giggled. And we did it!

This is our mini-senior-picture-photo shoot revised in present day! (circa 1987)

We laughed: “This is what forty-eight year old women do for fun; they  ‘photo shoot’ each other!”

We also deeply appreciate the roses,

the clapboard homes sitting at the shore,

and the open, warm hearts of one another.

Before we said goodbye, we projected our next outing (maybe camping with our significant others: her boyfriend Bruce and my daughter Grace). In our final conversation, Jen sweetly stated, “Pam, you were so cute. You planned this a month ago.  I am so glad you did.”

“It’s how I need to do things,” I stated,  “I have learned. If I want to enjoy my life, the moments I get to re-energize, then, I project out, plan, invite, and show up.”

We embraced. We let go. We now hold on to next time.

As I continue to explore the Landscape of My Heart, I realize that this is what living is really about. Yes, projecting and planning. But mostly, embracing, letting go, and holding on to next time.

We view our ‘unfolding’ life much in the way we gaze at an ocean vista, taking it in all at once, and then one sentimental section at a time. We then allow the memories to be re-lived like the foamy waves moving onto the shore…one at time. There’s then a gentle joy in placing our hands in that liquid-like dreaming. It makes us want to reach out and embrace again and again and again.

So to my gracious girlhood companion, thank you creating new happy-memory ripples this weekend. Thank you for projecting and planning with me. Thank you for embracing the Landscape of My Heart. I carry you there, forever, and I hold on to our “next time”.

With Blessings and Peace,

Pamela Rae

 

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On Taking Myself “Not So Seriously” and Undoing My Cultural Conditioning

I go “deep” a lot. In this intensity, I ask myself the big questions: “Why did I say that?” “Why did I do that?” “Why did I EAT that!?” Recently, I figured out that my answer is in “cultural conditioning”, a topic I plan to explore all year long with myself and with my grade 10 students.

Forgive me,  but I didn’t even know Cultural Conditioning really existed until three years ago when I first read the memoir Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom. In one of their Tuesday Talks, Professor Morrie Schwartz asks Mitch, his former student, and now a high profile sports writer: Why do people need to be number one? What is “wrong with being number two?” With this question, Morrie also completely silences a crowd of basketball fans cheering “We’re number one!”

That is a perfect example of “Undoing Cultural Conditioning”: Asking ourselves, and the crowd, “What if we believe the opposite to what the “standard/norm” states?”

Just “google it” (talk about conditioning!), and here is what will come up: “cultural conditioning is the unconscious process by which we are socialized to adopt the ways of thinking or behaving.” 

No, ‘Undoing Cultural Conditioning’ is not us playing the “Blame Game” for our life gone wrong.

This is the Conditioned BLAME GAME: “it was my co-parent’s (ex-husband’s) fault that we got divorced, my mom’s fault when my Italian temper flairs, and my teachers’ responsibility that my work was more important than goofing off for hours after school, and now as an adult I NEVER have fun.”

Playing into these resentments, anger episodes, and the “all work makes Pam a dull girl” life is just old news. Old News that can be re-vised.

Here’s HOW:

This year, is the year to see how it feels to entertain the OPPOSITE thought, TO TRY TO write a QUESTION in THE OPPOSITE of what society, the church, and even my beloved family have taught me (or conditioned me) to believe.

Then, I will try it on in my mind, and potentially an action, to see if the “new belief” feels better than the Conditioned one.

And IF I get serious, it looks like this (hold onto your chair and hair!):

  1. What if divorce is the beginning of the life we really want to live, instead of the ending of, or evidence of, the failure of a “commitment” we could not keep?
  2. What if Staying Single and Childless means we are adventurers! We love ourselves so much we want to nurture our own soul completely?
  3. What if when we have a temper tantrum, a mean streak episode, a negative thinking pattern, or finger pointing moment it is because we have triggers that are easier to nurture rather that nix? NOT the other person!
  4. OR, what if, when someone is cruel to us, we decide to go soft (and maybe silent for a bit) on them, instead of thinking about a 100 ways to get even? OR, what if I say to them, in the moment of their meanness, after taking a deep breath in and then a long breath out: “You are hurting my feelings, please stop.”? Then ask: “Why are we in this place of hurt?” And LISTEN.
  5. What if, before we go to work each morning, we spend 25 minutes in solitude and in breath. Maybe we add a couple yoga cat stretches — instead of hitting snooze 5 times? NOW, there’s an “Undoing”!
  6. Lastly, What if, what if, we wear “cat ears” to work? Even if we work on Wall Street! Even if it seems not ‘gender appropriate’ —

YIKES! Can we brave the storm of embarrassment?kittenearsNow, I am NOT saying we have to have “National Cat Ear Wearing Day”

(although that would be FUN)

or that we throw out the idea that first degree murder is definitely WRONG.

I am also NOT suggesting that certain ways to safely pound a hammer, confidently boil water, or strategically drive a car get revised either!

World chaos is not the goal.

What I am suggesting, is to take a look at our pain (or our pleasures) and try to figure out if we are living out a pattern because society, our parents, or our teachers placed it there.

And, one way to get there is to become “conscious” (instead of unconscious – as the definition suggested) of our “conditioning”. We can do this by taking time to breathe, stretch, contemplate, and EVEN HAVE FUN more.

Especially if we can get conscious in the moments

where we feel a triggered ‘rush of negative emotion’.

I invite you to ask yourself as we enter into this fall season: “What do I enjoy?” “Why do I say that?” “Why do I do that?” AND YES “Why do I EAT that?” And if your answer is something like, “I don’t really know” or “That’s how my dad did it”, please go to the next level of thought:

which means attempting a degree of intensity that might feel awkward…

…being silent in your breath. Try a full minute to start. Set the stove timer, close your eyes, sit up straight by elongating your spine, and breathe in and breathe out softly. Hold your attention on the breath.

When the timer goes off, STOP. Now. Open your eyes.

Then, whatever you discover, acknowledge it –

be nice to yourself about it –

be compassionate to YOU.

Love yourself no matter what the discovery may be,

even if no discovery happened today, at all.

And then, after this meditation I like to respond by:

  1. Giving myself permission to smile. After all, I made space for important ‘work’ here.
  2. Looking into the eyes of someone I love. Love is the Great Healer.
  3. Going someplace pretty in nature — or at least imagining a delightful spot: nature relieves my need to be so ‘serious”.

This photo initiates all three responses from my soul: Smile. Love. Delight.

sunflowers bridge 2017

I go “deep” a lot. Yet, I am going “light” more, too. Asking BIG questions of my inner self pulls out the need for this kind of self-compassion.

Ultimately, I am undoing my conditioned habits of mind, discovering who I really am, what I really believe and honoring Pamela.

The residual effect: becoming more compassionate of others.

My hope is to Gift my sophomores at least a comprehensive level of why they behave and act in certain ways. And to feel my compassion as they process it along the way.

In the meantime, I am still going to “google it” when I have a question, have Italian temper tantrum moments, and maybe even point a finger (or two).

However, the laughter and love I offer to myself afterwards will encompass my Being…

And hopefully, if you know me, yours too.

With Blessings and Peace (and a ‘cat eared’ smile),

Pamela Rae

 

 

To ALL Hurricane Rescuers, Responders, Rebuilders: You Are the Eye of the Storm

I had an evil dream on Wednesday night: I witnessed a young African American boy get shot, heartlessly in the back, in the most unsuspecting way. He fell to the ground and lay, helpless on his stomach, face down, and completely still. Although he bled profusely, his heart still pumped strong, sustaining his young potential-filled, innocent life.

After achieving this destruction, the raging, furious killer did not leave the scene. Instead, the killer hovered, trying to ensure that his victim, as well as several other innocent victims on this same scene, were most assuredly deceased. This hovering, relentless murderer had succeeded in stealing the life of all his victims, all except for this one strong child, who lay still, just about to rise, just about to crawl to seek help…

…and the furious killer approaches him again, ready to completely gun him down…

…but then a glimmer of hope appears. It is me. I show up to help him.

In this young man’s bloody gaping wounds, he teeters on being killed head on by this evil force, and when I appear, I appear, NOT as a person, though (remember, this is a dream!), but as a Calm Voice. Not fully as an angel. More of an energy source. A Rescuer.

I whisper in his Ear: “Do not cave in. Stay down. Appear dead. He will leave. Then, rise.”

As I speak this quietly, there is no panic in the survivor. With gratitude, he listens. The destructive force, satisfied, departs. The young man rises, moves to safety, and thankfully survives.

Upon waking, in a state of concern, I decided to process this dream. As, this dream was part of my homework assignment as a Light Writer.

You see, I have been taking a writing course with Martha Beck ( a writer and renowned life coach) called Be the Light, and my assignment was, “after a meditative state (for me it was sleeping and a dream), return to consciousness having received a gift of knowledge.”

My dream was my meditative state.

My “A-HA Moment” was when I became The Rescuer.

The ‘Knowledge Gift’ is:

 as a teacher

I offer a place of refuge, calm, and hope

for my struggling, and often very troubled students.

As a teacher, I am always a Rescuer, a Responder, or a Rebuilder.

Hope is found in my classroom.

That hope is my voice.

That hope is me.

However, Much like the Eye of a Hurricane,

The hope is not a permanent solution.

It’s a RELIEF…

A place to learn, process, and believe that life can and will get better.

And isn’t this true of anyone who comes into our life, offers genuine kindness when we are surrounded by the worst, caught in a tangled mess, that we have fallen victim to?

People who are kind are the EYES of the “Hurricanes of Life”.

They whisper sweet musings, offer a cup of water (or tea with honey), or they may even say something that, many years later, as we lay face down wounded, is whispered back into our memory and saves us.

Or, in the midst of a real hurricane like Harvey or Irma, The EYES may literally be the ones who pick us up from swirling waters and become our heroes, as they lead us to safety. And the ones who show up later to help pick up refuse and rebuild.

So, as the raging Hurricane forces continue their relentless harm, I am sharing with you, my readers, the poem I wrote originally dedicated my students (based on my above dream).

I wrote this poem as a reminder:

together, in the solidarity of helping and learning,

by offering one who is weak our strength,

we can and will overcome all darkness.

I now, on this September 11, 2017, include in the poem’s dedication  ALL literal and metaphorical Hurricane Hope Holders. ALL Rescuers, Responders, Rebuilders of Hurricane Harvey, Irma, and those yet to pass us:

Thank you for being the eyes of kindness, strength and care in such fierce times.

You will not cave in.

You are our Pause of Peace. Our Glimmer of Growth. With you at the helm, we will not only rebuild, we will heal.

Here’s OUR Declaration of HOPE (written as a poem): 

The Eye of the Storm — by Pamela Rae

The storm is descending;

Ocean and earth swirling with a ferocity of wind, water, and waste.

Intensified by gripping fear, biting panic, and bitterest of evil…

How is it that Inspiring Seas and Clouds of Clarity become Devastation Demons?

This is the nature of the Hurricane.

 

Then comes the Eye:

An angel’s voice in the midst of the chaos,

Singing a momentary song of solace,

A refuge from tangled intensity.

The Eye is a slice of what is desired:

Meaning in the most un-meaningful;

Relevancy in the ripping irrelevant;

She is the pause of peace.

 

What is the Eye of the Hurricane?

A sign of hope in the midst of destruction.

The glimmer of growth in gashing, gaping wounds.

The calm voice in recklessness of rage.

 

This is the Eye:

Temporary shelter for all who are truly unsheltered.

Harmlessness in hissing horror.

This is also the Eye:

The center of a hurricane.

A portal the heavens open,

As a singular signal of hope.

Just before the worst crushes down and around.

 

Take warning:

In the presence of the Eye do not rummage through the rubble.

Wait.

Breathe.

Watch.

Learn.

 

Although the Eye speaks of peace,

She warns that life will still go haplessly wrong…

Heed her warning.

 

 

Not a permanent presence, the Eye acknowledges:

Pulverizing brings purging. Then peace.

But first,

Trauma will hunger for Healing,

Homes for Rebuilding,

Communities for Renewing.

 

To some, the Eye intensifies anxiety.

 

Do not fear the Eye.

The Eye is not the ferocity.

Though she stands at the storm’s center,

Here is where her power lies:

The raging storm surrounds her.

Yet, she caves not in.

She prevails in what would seem to crush her,

Because she is the energy source in the darkness,

She transforms the rage into rays.

 

Who is this Eye?

I am this Eye.

Because,

I am your teacher.

I overlook your tragedy,

By creating a celestial calm in the worst of your conditions.

I am this Eye,

By soothing corruption through my whispered words of sanctuary.

I am this Eye.

 

As your teacher,

Let me be the Eye of your Hurricane.

Let me stand at your pain’s center,

Offer you a poetic pairing to match your misfortune,

And tell you a tale of others who have gained glory, gorgeousness through despair.

 

I will not cave in.

 

The storm is touching the edge of this earth.

Yet, I am the Eye who longs to look into your eyes.

From darkness of devastation, we will bring light.

Together we will weave whisperings of hope.

We will be the Eye.

 

I am your teacher.

At the center of our hurricane, as the storm descends,

We will weave whisperings of hope.

As this is the nature of the Eye,

This is the nature of the teacher.

I am the Eye.

Be the Eye.

 

In the days of repair and renewal ahead, may we continue to pray for the deepest of healing caused by all the literal and metaphorical hurricanes in our hurting world.

And I pray that healing, that rebuilding will truly come.

Blessings and Peace,

Pamela Rae

American Rapper Nelly Nails It: “It’s Only Just a Dream” as Our Lover Named “Summer” Departs…

It’s true. Shakespeare did say it best, “All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women merely players”. The great bard warns us: realize that you are an actor in a ‘temporary’ life, because your days will come to a conclusion. Take advantage, Shakespeare advises, always give your best performance!

And when it comes to cautionary tales, Nelly nails it too. in his 2010 melancholy “love-lost” song Just a Dream, he reflects “So I traveled back down that road, Will she come back, no one knows, I realize, yeah, it was only just a dream.” Some journeys are transient, Nelly urges, you will wake up, and the good times will be just a memory, so fully enjoy your beloved!

It then occurred to me,

“Isn’t Summer the Lover we all long for?”

And, as she gets ready to depart,

Nelly, you (my dear reader), and me can be sure of one thing:

this 2017 ultimate lover, named Summer,

like Nelly’s long gone ‘shawty’, is not coming back!

So, what’s a warmth-deprived New Englander to do?

Nelly says something in the second stanza of his rap, that picks me up from a potential depression: “Cause I can still feel her in the air, See her pretty face, run my fingers through her hair…”

Thankfully, no one or no thing, Nelly suggests, be it a lover or a warm summer evening, ever leaves us without some lingering, happy memories…

I notice, as Nelly croons, he’s all constricted emotionally inside: “She left me, I’m tied, ‘Cause I knew it just ain’t right.” Clearly, at the moment he sings, he is so sure — she WAS the ONE. And he states, “I blew it.”

In other words, he didn’t appreciate her. So, she left… And I can relate.

Because, in New England, our greatest love affair is with Summer. She IS “our” ONE. We wait for her, nine long chilly months. Whether we appreciate her or not, she always arrives. But, she always leaves…

Through icy-cold sleet and mounds of snow we fantasize of her arrival.

And upon her long awaited knock on our door, oh we know, she is BETTER than the fantasy.

For two months, we then play like small children in a wide open field — the possibilities for adventure seem endless!  And like any good lover, she (or he) shows up well adorned. Our beloved brings flowers. Our beloved brings sweet treats. Our beloved holds us in warm arms and showers us with endless affection. 347363B5-9570-449B-AAAC-33A0D931F3FE

Our beloved is Fun. Delicious. Delightful.

We bask in what Nelly says, “She was (or is) so easy to love.”

But then, our adored Summer does “move on” from us…

Oh, it’s true, Dear Nelly:

“It just ain’t right.”

Why does she need to leave?

We didn’t ride our bikes enough, wade in ocean waters long or deep enough, sleep late enough days — and I know I certainly need to eat a whole bunch more sticky cotton candy, powdery fried dough and refreshing gelato before this shindig passes! Sleepinggracie (2)

Nelly, I understand the internal tug of not wanting my lover, my Summer, to leave me… maybe, if I could give her just a bit more appreciation… then, maybe she would STAY…

Nelly with remorse you state, “Now they’re gone and your wishing you could give them everything.” And I begin wishing the same.

But wait! Right at the height of Nelly’s regret, he does something spectacular!

He begs us, the objects of our lover’s affection, to do something right now, before it is too late, it is the opposite of remorse it is revel:

“If you ever loved somebody put your hands up; if you’ve ever loved somebody put your hands up; if you’ve ever loved somebody put your hands up.”

Nelly cheers and chants it out!

AND right now I PUT MY HANDS UP! I Cheer it out!

Because if summer is my lover, before the inevitable departure, I want to touch her, stare into her eyes, linger on an Adirondack chair with her, and study with her the bees that are busy on all the flowers she has gifted me!Gracie at bridgs (1)

I want to throw a Frisbee with a hyper-active dog, and grab a kayak, take along my best friend, and float fast down a river rapids one last time before we say “goodbye”.FY 8-24-17 (1)

I want her to know: I love her. I appreciate her.

And I will always welcome her back!

I want her to know it now.

Because, Summer hasn’t left me yet!

Shakespeare and Nelly. Both are great philosophers. Essentially, they preach the same thing: life is passing us by. Life is a summer blockbuster film, with buttery popcorn and booming surround sound, visceral while attending, but our awaited experiences will be over before we know it.

And as our Summer comes to her pretty close, I invite you to get quiet (or get raucous if you prefer!), travel down memory lane, revel in the warmth of your sunny memories, and go out and create a couple more.

It is not too late.

Grab your Summer lover, one last time. Stare into that pretty face. Run your fingers through that silky hair. Feel that love-in-the-air moment by taking a deep, long, glorious breath. a place to playjpg

Enjoy the “US” while you have the “us”.

Because before you know it, you will open your eyes and start singing the refrain, with Nelly, and with me, “It was only just a dream.”

Now, stop reading and go throw that Frisbee!

I am wishing you a lovely lingering Summer Dream.

And in case you do get a bit melancholy:

There’s good news: Summer is the lover who will always return 🙂

Blessings and Peace,

Pamela Rae

My Love Letter to ‘The A.H.S. Class of 1987’ Following Our 30th High School Reunion: The Ties That Bind US

 

There are ties that bind us.  The year 1987.  The acronym A.H.S. The school colors: red and white. And the beauty in eyes, smiles, and personalities that have not been seen in years, but are never forgotten. Here’s my proclamation of love to you all and the ties that forever bind us.

FIRST and FOREMOST, there’s Dave. More handsome (um, and muscular) than ever, who, when he hugs us in his strong welcoming arms he communicates “I love you”. And, best of all he actually says “I love you” out loud, too! With equal strength of conviction. Dave, We love, and appreciate, you too. And, by the way, you deserved to be first for assisting Diane in this AHS Class of 1987 Reunion Effort. (Diane, please keep reading –you really are WICKED most awesomely important — but, this is what we call a writer’s ‘hook’! It is designed to make us all want to read to see if I mention you! So, keep going…)

Then, there’s John. Oh funny ‘Farmer’ John… your sense of humor and wit have not lost their sparkle. Your boyish charm wins our hearts again and again and then, again. That charm was not lost on me! Thank you for the Margarita! And for getting us all on the dance floor.

There’s Gayle. Our World Traveler.  My sweet, kind  girl-next-door lovely childhood neighbor and friend. We admire your adventuresome spirit!  Thank you for, without reservation, greeting me as though you were simply, once again asking if I could “come outside and play”. I enjoyed our outing. Let’s do it again!

And Jenna. Our Glinda the Good Witch. Good you are, and  oh so a little bit ‘bad’ too (which is ‘good’ of course)- which means we like your spicy fun spirit, you are vivaciously alive!  And you brought that home with bold topics, and your badass super hot good looks! Keep it up, sistah!

Speaking of good looks – there’s Dana. Our supermodel. And our super kindness role model. She’s Our Survivor (you Tough Warrior Princess you). There’s a light and love that radiates out of you that my words can not capture, but certainly your outer gorgeousness is beautifully out shined by your inner gorgeousness. Hard to imagine, true. But the whole class will surely testify to this truth.

Then, Jeff and Geoff. Our cool rock-star guitarist; and our spikey haired down-home-boy-next-door-apple-pie redhead. Both gentlemen are good-looking. Both good hearted. Both really always rocking a lifetime of ‘cool hair dos’. Thanks for not letting us down! One bearded (Jeff). One spiked (Geoff). What cool hair-look will you bring in five years? Looking forward to it.

And Jody. Our California Beauty. Who says to us all, “I think of you and wish you well all the time.” And she really means it. And she asks, “How are you?” And she really wants to know. We feel warmth in your presence – your radiant smile is our sunshine. With your sincerity, it’s summer year round. We love summer. Thank you for keeping us warm last night.

And there’s Diane!!!!!

How do we thank Diane?

The planning. The dedication. The follow through to reunite us all. Five Year after Five Damn Year, you always do it, Diane! The slide shows. The food. The ‘unknowable details of a reunion’. Well, Diane you live and breathe the details. And it shows.

You never disappoint. How do we thank Diane?

“THANK YOU, DIANE!!!!” You embody AMAZING.

Oh, and THE epitome of High School Sweet Hearts: Jeanne and Gary. Still holding hands (at the reunion — let it be known that I saw the sincerity of it) 30+ years later. Your 30 year commitment is an experience I will never live (and that really is ok), but it’s one we are all honored to witness. You two are a beautiful couple — in love and looks! Cheers to you both! Stay strong!

Then there’s the Sherwood Sisters. Spritely images of fairy-dust-like pixie prettiness. With smiles that still glow and inspire. Inseparable. Not rivals (as far as we can tell anyway!), but real friends. Fairy tale role models for sisters across the globe. And did I say they are pretty? They are VERY pretty.

And Joanna… We love you.  As the song says, “someone to count on”. And as we missed the ‘1987 group picture’, because we were recounting our lives in our 3 minutes of ‘ladies room’ chat time, I would NOT change the opportunity, or the memory of our ‘catching up’ EVER. Thirty years later, I CAN still count on you. XO and TY!

Then, there’s Brian. Still handsome. Still clean cut. Still a gentleman. Still a dancer. Still so wonderful to talk to. Still a beautiful heart. Your girlfriend is a lucky lady… And you are still so fun! And still so sweet. Keep dancing, Brian! You have both found lovely dance partners.

And there’s Fire-fighter Rick! May I repeat — Fire-fighter Rick. How does any one reunion attendee compete with the valiance in THAT? Um, We don’t. Valiant you are, Rick. You came to me, conversed with me, as though no chasm of years were between us. Still my favorite homeroom buddy, you may save me from the perils of flames any day! Can someone please second my motion?        — “thank you!”

Oh, and Jennifer G. My forever friend. My soulmate. My classwork colleague. We dock our little boats near one another for a short interlude every five years. You step onto my boat for a bit. Then, off you sail, again. You know what? Life’s waters are prettier, deeper, clearer with you occasionally sitting by my side… Pretty. Deep. Clear. My Forever Friend Jen. Keep wandering – it becomes you — but also please ‘stay’. If anyone can figure out how to do that, my artist friend, YOU can.

And then there’s MY sister: Coleen.

Where would my heart be, my breath be, my life be without you?

You are my ‘North-Star-Friend’. If it sucks, I call you. If it’s great, I call you. If it’s mediocre, hello!, there goes your phone!

We are NOT partners in crime.

We are Crime:

We can always find a way to make wrong right. OR right wrong!

Let’s keep at, and keep getting away with it! It’s what Dad would have wanted! I love you. Thick, thin, or sin. AND I’ll stop there! (*wink*)

Then there’s my classmates I do not mention here, but you were there. But Because there is not enough ‘cyber-space’ space to write it here, or was not enough time to visit last night, I acknowledge you too. I appreciate your soul. The glance we gave to each other in our ‘eye-corners’ means so much. Glances hold glimmer, too.

And LAST, but NOT LEAST:

There’s YOU:

Our Classmates who were there in ‘spirit’ but not in ‘body’. Whether you be “ill”, “too distant”, “unavailable” or “passed on (I love you, Brett)”, YOU were there.

Because, as I said, there are ties that bind us…

You know, there’s a Red and White Thread that can not be removed from your soul.

It’s tethered to an A.H.S. Acronym. It’s linked to a number: 1987.

And All these Threads are steeped in the Love of Our Memories.

So whether you came and conquered the dance floor, or were kept away, know that our chord is forever and tightly tied.

Not just by numbers, colors, and acronyms.

Our chords are also of loves, losses, windfalls, sicknesses, or beaming stories of health (and health yet to be – we love you, Rodney).

We are tied.

And be it 5 years from today, or be it tomorrow, our threads will pull us back together again.

Because we are a portion of an A.H.S. tapestry.

And some things just can’t be loosened.

Until then, A.H.S. Class of 1987, I wish you love and light.

With Blessings and Peace,

Pamela Rae

 

 

 

 

 

 

We Experienced Blue Apron: Here’s Our Four Unpaid, Honest Reflections – ENJOY!

Have you been wanting to try one of those “Meals in a Box” companies but you were just too skeptical to take the plunge? Gracie and I dove into a box with Blue Apron this past week. We paid for three meals for two people because we had a reduction of price coupon (40 dollars off the first delivery). Also, we knew we would want to blog about this!

In my last post I joked about still trying to figure out “how many potatoes to buy each week.” So I figured, why not let a supposed-expert do it for me, right? Not only did they hit the mark on exact quantity, but they figured out how to get my nine year old to try new food varieties. Here’s our observations and reflections:

  1. Pretty arrival PRESENTATION: They packaged the foods like a BIG gift and then a series of “little gifts”(which are cutely labeled Knick-knacks):WIN_20170623_14_59_52_Pro_LI The produce is fresh, the meats are tightly-leak-proof packaged, all items are portioned then ‘sticker labeled’ to indicate which meal they match. There is a large recipe card accompanying each meal to guide you through the preparation processes. All of that we enjoyed and found helpful.WIN_20170623_15_04_09_Pro_LI WIN_20170623_15_00_47_Pro_LI
  2. Practical PRICE and SCHEDULE: Without a coupon, the cost of three meals for two people is 59.95. That is about $10.00 a meal per person, with no cost on shipping and handling. An average weekly trip to the grocery store runs me about $75.00 to $100.00. What I figured out is that during the summer, my co-parent has Grace for two week night dinner meals. That means that I can logically make three meals a week, save on gas to the grocery store and the risk that “extra unnecessary eats” make it into the cart. You can also SKIP weeks.  With vacations or other eating plans for the week, this is a good option. My next shipment (because I did skip a week) is Friday, July 7th. I went on the site to check it out. It has already been processed. Therefore, if you know you will be dining out or headed to a summer cook-out, I think it’s best to know this two weeks in advance and put in for a SKIP when managing your deliveries. Another note about scheduling: before you can view ANY menus, the company does ask for a method of payment to be given up front. So, be sure this is something you are up for trying before you race to the site. For now, we see these scheduling options matching our life-style. I plan on heading to the market tomorrow for three nights of meals for this week. Going to try to do it in less than $50.00! We shall see… Maybe it will be an ‘addendum blog’.
  3. Pleasant PORTIONS and PREPARATIONS: I managed to get Grace into the kitchen as my helper at least once. She was curious and really wanted to try her knife skills!
    Cutting Veggies BA

    See the cute brown paper “Knick-knack” satchel on the right? Clever, uh?

    This was rewarding for us both, as working as a team is always beneficial to our relationship. Two thumbs up on this aspect. I personally enjoyed “plating” the dishes – something I do NOT normally do, but since the recipe calls for this, I said, “Why the heck not?” Here are our other two PLATED meals:

    Chicken plated BApron

    The potato salad on the right I prepared as a ‘cold’ salad. The recipe calls for ‘warm’. Because I adjusted it, she loved it. The purple cabbage scored 2 bites only. Oh well. I will eat the leftovers with tomorrow’s lunch!

    Pasta Plated BApron

    This pasta dish has shrimp in it. I was doubtful Grace would like the red sauce, not  normally part of her food repertoire. She asked for seconds! I added the bread 🙂 Notice the ‘in color’ recipe card above? I like my presentation better 😉

    4. New taste combinations = More ADVENTURE, Better NUTRITION: Let’s face it, I already know how to cook. I know how to add personal zing and zest with adding or leaving out ingredients. And, this is exactly what I did. I added grape tomatoes to the salad, bread to the pasta, and left out the carrots in the cabbage slaw. I knew to go cold with the potato salad and leave out the Cajun on my daughter’s chicken. With healthy drizzles of olive oil (Blue Apron suggested), Greek olives in the pasta, and a colorful palette, Blue Apron can help me maximize the “try it” phrase. And that she did! She even asked, “Can I taste it before you put it on my plate?” That was a first.

    Eating Steak from BApron

    I gave her ketchup (organic, of course) to dip the roasted potatoes in. I ate mine au natural.

    Are you thinking you might want to try this experience?

    Overall, I would give Blue Apron and the “Meal in Box” adventure a 4 out of 5 stars. The green pepper enclosed was not so pretty looking when it arrived. Luckily, I had a fresh red one waiting in the crisper drawer. I added some red lettuce to the butter lettuce in the above salad for a “crispier” texture. And I do feel the price to be a bit on the high end. However, when you read Blue Apron’s story, they are the only middle-man. They directly source from farms they choose and they base their menus on what is farm available. The thought of all this appeals to the Mother-Earth-lover inside of me. It helps that if you want to recycle all the card board, apparently they will come get it!  I sinfully trashed it (sorry). I’m willing to change that, however.

    Trying Blue Apron got Grace to eat more varieties of veggies and help more in the kitchen. They didn’t pay me to say that; they don’t even know I wrote this. Those are my honest reflections. I hope one might help you decide if this experience might be right for you!

    If you go for it, I’d really love you to hear your reflections, too.

Blessings and Peace,

Pamela Rae

From Depletion to “Feasting on My Life”: What a single-mom will do with “time off”

The divorce depleted me: mentally, emotionally, financially, materially, and even physically. If you’ve been following me, you know I have been recovering.

Maybe no one even knows that I am running on fumes, from looking at me. Most days.

And that is how it is supposed to be.

After leaving the marriage with only the clothes on my back, my daughter, and a large sack of random sundries — the reality is, two years later, I’m still figuring out how to begin “My Life Again”. This is a new revelation, mainly, because, this Father’s Day weekend I reached the finality of my depletion stage: the point where empty can’t feel any emptier and lack can’t feel any lonelier.

I didn’t know I hadn’t reached “E” yet. I was pretty sure I had.

I thought I was filling the tank back up! But, I am now mindful that I needed this particular lonely experience to grow me in my personal understanding a little bit more.

You see, Grace’s lively spirit is an Omni-presence!

therefore, my allowing of the “feeling” of emotional depletion is rare – it’s practically impossible when she does joyous things like this:

 

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Donut Diving!!!

 

 

 

But being alone on this holiday, with no place to go and no one to do anything with, trying to find solace in loads of laundry, dirty dishes, and deck cleaning made me miss her more than usual.

I missed “Us”.

 

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She has water in her mouth that she is about to bubble out and spit at me! Little Vixen!

 

But mostly, I have discovered, I missed me.

“How are you doing?” friends and family often ask.

“I’m still trying to figure out how many potatoes to buy for just the two of us,” I jokingly respond.

But what I realized I am really saying in this fake ‘potato-scenario’ is: When I am alone, and everyone else is busy with the living of their own family lives (which exactly what you all should be doing) this single-mom-who-has-no-where-to-go asks herself , “Where do I go? What do I do? And who do I go with?”

Here’s my light bulb moment: I don’t care about the potatoes. Or, how much laundry needs folding. Or cleaning those day old dishes.  These things I am using as a cover for my cold lack of going to lunch (or pilates) with me.

The funny – or not so laughable point – is that my inner being, upon waking on Sunday, Father’s Day morning, asked my outer being (we will call her ‘Pamela’ — because that is who she is) out on a hiking date. So, I didn’t HAVE to be lonely.

Inner being said, “Pamela, I am dreaming of a breezy hike at Maudslay State Park with you.”

And here is where the humor ends: Pamela stood her inner being up. Pamela really wanted to go.  She wanted to see trees delicately move in the wind and the fingers of sunshine causing ripples on the river.

Pamela chose not to open the door when her inner being knocked.

And in this bottoming out, in this dramatic-loneliness-act, I was reminded of the Derek Walcott poem which says it best:

Love After Love by Derek WalcottThe time has come to greet inner-being-Pamela with elation, again. To drink with her the wine and eat the bread of life. Or in her case sip the steamy coffee and savor the fresh cookies!

To stop being her stranger. To give back to her ‘her’ heart. And to have the favor returned. The time has come to stop ignoring her.

This is the image of the woman  I will “peel” off of the mirror…WIN_20170619_17_00_26_Pro_LI

I will give her the love letter stored on the bookshelf (it’s a juicy one!).

We will pour over the old photos.

We will laugh at the desperate notes of days past.

We will fall in love again… I am taking her to dinner.

And we will sit — but “Sit” is merely a suggestion! – Who can sit when we can bike ride, walk, swim, hike or down-ward dog as we FEAST on life?

I will love Pamela’s face (smile lines and all, I promise)

as much as I love Grace’s face:

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Gorgeousness!

And we will find “Love after Love”.

We will no longer be strangers wondering “What do we do? Who do we do it with?”

We will know the answers.

We will fill up the cup that is depleted with our FEAST on life!

We will start with dinner…

 

…Do you have any restaurant recommendations?

Blessings and peace,

Pamela Rae

p.s. Stay tuned for our summer adventures!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Tale As Old As Time: How to “Create a Moment”

When your daughter tells you, “I’m not wearing dresses anymore,” please don’t take it lightly. Get moving!  Call your local professional photographer – or a friend who enjoys photo ops with flair – and schedule an appointment pronto. Now, run to Kohl’s with your 30 percent off coupon, grab the latest D-Signed for Girls Collection, and “princess it up”  before you run out of  precious “girly-girl time”.

It’s Time to Create a Moment!

She’s only nine, but Grace knows who she is and what she likes: baseball, basketball, gymnastics, swimming, and going fifty miles per hour on her scooter (helmet on, of course) down a hill – while I’m sweating anxiety beads the whole time.

I’m only forty-seven, and I know who I am and what I like, too: poetry, Pilates, hot coffee even on hot days, meditation, slow walks at sunrise, and I like her in “dressy” dresses.

Yet, despite our contrasts, Grace and I do reside together mostly in harmony. I credit Disney. We are both die-hard fans of all films, channels, garb, and paraphernalia.

So, in order to force time to standstill,  I knew I could Create a Moment when I came home with these two Disney D-Signed Belle dresses, and she’d  happily play along.

So, My KEY advice to get your female sports enthusiast in a dress?

Make it into a theatrical production — With these Belle fashioned frills, costumes were DONE.

Now, props.

Get THE ROSE (or Aurora’s spinning wheel – whatever your theme, find the prop). Lucky me, I just so happen to have a generous friend whose husband embodies artistic finesse and skill. He had already designed and fashioned his rendition of the “forbidden flower” for their little girl. So, that was a quick and easy, “May I borrow your daughter’s Belle Rose?” and BOOM (as my students would exclaim), props DONE.

Next, RUN to the photographers as FAST as you can

before momentum is lost.

Then, CREATE the scenario for your little actor: “Grace, you are Belle. I have told you not to go to the West Wing, several times. But, as usual, you have your own glorious mind, you don’t listen –”

ClarkeP_PortraitSimple Beauty's Rose

Next comes her exuberant (and welcome, as she is in performance ZONE now) interruption: “— oh, and you walk in and catch me right as I start to remove the lid! Mom, you then need to scold me!”

YES. She invited me to scold her. I leapt at the opportunity.

What joy! Between laughter and some serious finger waving we captured my sternness and her dismayed surprise. Moment created – DONE.

Wait…

Don’t let go yet, however.

Slow down the reel on this Oscar winning performance…

Take a minute, look her in her eyes,

Remember back to the days when she wouldn’t resist the frills,

get face to face, nose to nose…

ClarkeP_PortraitSimple Pure Light

And smile proudly at your headstrong, self assured, sports-loving-lady.

She’s going to be just fine. No, she’ll be better than fine. And so will you. And so will you.

Cheers to Creating Moments!

Blessings and peace,

Pamela Rae

 

On Appreciation: Happy Mother’s Day and Happy Teacher Appreciation!

According to collinsdictionary.com when we ‘appreciate’ something, or someone, we 1. recognize its good qualities, 2. understand it and know what it involves, 3 are grateful for it, and 4. value it highly. And as Teacher Appreciation Week passes the baton to Mother’s Day, like gentle sunrise moving into the brightness of early morning, it is my hope that despite the stormy weather, that today we feel especially grateful for the people in our lives who give wholeheartedly in the spirit of love.

I am feeling especially grateful today,  as a Mom and as a teacher. First, because this was unexpectedly delivered to my classroom on Tuesday:

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“To my favorite teacher – who will surely leave the world a better place than when she found it. Happy National Teacher’s Day! From your former student of the Class of ’02.

And secondly, because these cards were lovingly handed to me yesterday:

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Happy Mother’s Day, Mom. And thanks for giving me such a good life!!!! 🙂

 

First, what’s the curious story of the long stem yellow roses? When reading the card, it’s clear that the former student is displaying an understanding of “recognizing good qualities” and “knowing” what teaching involves. But more importantly, and complimentary, is this individual chose to acknowledge me and my dedication to my profession, fifteen years after graduation.

Many colleagues probed deeper:

“Are you still in touch with the student?”

“No.”

“What kind of student was this Giver?”

“Kind. Intelligent. Introspective. Valedictorian.”

“Do you have any way to get back in touch?”

“No”

“Would you ever have expected such an outstanding gift? After all, it is a vase filled with one dozen long stemmed yellow roses – with glitter on the leaves…”

“No… Yes, yes – statement making, yes.”

All of my short replies, are simply short because many of own questions go unanswered.

But, here is what I do know: the Giver and I truly enjoyed our time learning together; the Giver and I composed, read, and explored the content of English and analyzed the deeper implications of the subject matter as a team; the Giver and I laughed a lot, spoke about life a lot, and mostly acknowledged one another’s humanness, daily.

Special, yes. Unique, no. It is what teachers DO. Everyday. Without any questions… with ALL of their students. It is special by nature of the honor to work with young, growing, trusting minds. Not unique. That is the standard. Period.

I think it is the Giver who is uniquely intelligent, here — who in the quiet introspective moments of the Giver’s life, and in the understanding of the value of the teaching profession, woke up on National Teacher Appreciation Day and said, “She has waited long enough to hear the words. She deserves to be told, today, of all days. And so, she shall be shown my full gratefulness. Because, she is my favorite.” The ultimate kindness.

Shown, felt, and fully appreciated by me! Thank you, kind Giver!

And the gesture is held in absolute AWE…

…because I feel respected and AMAZED. And because I GOT to be the FAVORITE! Lucky me!

And when I go into the quite introspective and intelligent moments of my life, AWE and respect is acknowledged, in each waking moment that I get to live out my “dream profession”. It’s just that some days, I get to live in the glow of AWE a bit more than others. And on Tuesday, AWE was served times one dozen roses, and fragrantly!

Now, what about my ‘giraffe’ Mother’s Day card? When reading the card, it’s clear that the Giver “highly values” her quality of life! Um, thank goodness! The “dream profession” of teaching is, along with me, her generous provider. How wonderful is that?!

Oh, and the giraffe — As a totem animal (which how I came to realize the giraffe is the perfect symbol for me is a different blog post – for another day…) the giraffe symbolizes, according to the linked site, that I have learned to make my words count and learned to share my awareness of my surroundings with others.

Is that me or what?? At least, me “in the making” 🙂

Thank you, Dear Daughter for knowing and acknowledging me!

The birds are starting to chirp… sunrise (even if it can’t be seen on this cloudy day) has moved into the brightness of early morning, Mother’s Day Morning.

My hope for you today is that you get to experience (and offer) the many definitions of appreciation. Whether you are a teacher or a mom, or serve both these roles in some capacity in your life, know that I “understand and know what it involves”.

And I appreciate you…

…that’s why I wanted to share my roses and my card with you.

You make “the world a better place”. You give someone a “good life.”

And I sincerely believe it. And wholeheartedly value it.

Happy Teacher’s Appreciation. Happy Mother’s Day.

Blessings and Peace,

Pamela Rae

 

Real Love Arrived: And, I’m So Glad I Get to Tell You About It!

The clouds are clearing. The trees are greening up so nicely. The tulips have said their “hellos” and are moving into their “until we meet again” sentiments. And a new sense of hope is blooming in me, and maybe for you too, as the sun is shining today!!

I apologize for being absent for a while. The cold and rain of the unlike-spring weather pulled me down, and so did the murkiness of my life.

You see, I have been taking a writing and self-inquiry course with Martha Beck titled Write into Light: Be the Truth. In the course, participants have immersed in what Beck calls the “Archeology of the Self”. This is a process by which a writer stirs up a past trauma (like a loved one’s death or bad break-up — something BIG) by imagining going back to that moment of traumatic space and then free-writing about it for about 15 minutes. Next, the writer digs deeper into the BIG hurt by exploring a single line, in the finished free-write, that holds a resonating yet painful truth. Then the writer writes about that for a bit. Martha Beck calls this “the inhale”. It’s step one of the “writing into the light” procedure.

The second step, which she calls “the exhale” is where the writer — me and the other course participants — expose a positive truth learned from the trauma, in a less than 500 word composition. As class members, we writers, who now have anointed ourselves “Light Writers”, share our written insights on an online forum with our teacher, Martha Beck, and our fellow “Light Writing Tribe”. There is about a 1,000 of us. Yup, ONE THOUSAND fellow- self-archeologists are in my writing tribe!

One thousand Tribe Light Writers

to share my scars and revelations with.

This exposure, in this writing course, has been like total bare bones nudity! And, it’s been painful. Painful because I have stirred up the mud of events I  supposedly put behind me… So, in my other writing, I had to go quiet for a bit, to let all the muck settle…And it finally did.

And, I am ready to share with you my clarity:

There is so much good in the world to presently enjoy and to really love, especially now that the blooms of spring have arrived! They have arrived!

In Sharon Salzburg’s book titled Real Love she says, “The more we cultivate mindfulness, the more we clearly we see and appreciate what’s right in front of us, unclouded by judgement or expectation. And the more we cherish the life around us, the more we cherish ourselves. It’s a powerful equation.”

This is a bit cliché, but, while I was in that murky cloud of self-inquiry of what was supposed to be “Light Writing”, I was judging myself. And this ‘judging’ is the opposite of what Salzberg encourages, above. And of course, opposite to what Martha Beck’s objective was, too.

You see, Pamela’s ‘failures’ were exposed again.  And even when I was writing my ‘positive revelations’ (the exhale), I didn’t love, or even really like, anything I wrote.

“Why?” you ask.

“It’s not real enough or good enough” the writing critic within me scolded. And, for awhile, I believed her.

Struggles with self worth have always been a pattern for me. Like an endless winter, lack of self esteem makes me feel like spring will never come. And then, I get stuck.

And so, to overcome my insecurity, at the end of the “Be the Truth Light Writing” I had to give myself  some “Breathing Room”.

For me, “Breathing Room” looks like a combination of Martha Beck’s “inhale” and “exhale” exercise: it’s the time I give to myself to process the resurfacing of old pain. It’s a weighing of the good against the not so good… It’s meditation…It’s mindfulness…It’s taking as much time as I need… It’s rest…It’s the space to heal.

“Breathing Room” is like the promise held in the buds of spring.

And spring eventually does comes. And flowers do bloom.

And people do eventually heal.

Hating cold, like low self worth, for me is equal to “judgment”. “Expecting” life, or weather for that matter, to be consistently warm is an illusion. What is real is the second chance we all get when buds appear… or when forgiveness is offered. Or when self forgiveness is finally accepted. That’s the blossom.

Pain is a dark dictator. It’s true, I visit that country from time to time, but I don’t live there anymore. Judgement and expectation are not my “home”. Today, I choose to reside in what Salzberg refers to as real love: appreciating what is right in front of me, by refining by mindfulness practice with self compassion and by cherishing my present moment.  And all I have to do, is show up.

So, this morning, “showing up” is exactly what I did…

And this is what arrived:WIN_20170507_09_27_50_Pro_LI

When did they blossom? This morning? Two days ago? A week ago? I don’t know, because I was too busy looking at the clouds and hating the cold. But today I actually saw the flowers of spring, because today, I saw the sun, because today I was rested and healed. That’s when I decided to show up… and there you have it: I fell back in “real love” with my life.

Because Winter Is Over.

As Salzberg says, “The more we cherish the life around us, the more we cherish ourselves. It’s a powerful equation.”

So, this morning, with my self-and-sunshine-cherishing, I finished the equation that becoming a Light Writer Tribe member originally challenged me to become: I dug deep; I honored the pain that has made me “me”. Then, I cast aside judgement and expectation. And the bud of hope bloomed!

Spring HAS arrived!

Real Love is mine to have — and yours too.

And, I’m so glad I got to tell you about it!

Thanks for listening 🙂

Sending you many blessing and peace,

Pamela Rae