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:

 

WIN_20170619_17_37_47_Pro_LI

 

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”.

 

WIN_20170619_17_04_46_Pro_LI

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:

WIN_20170619_17_03_24_Pro_LI

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:

WIN_20170511_10_36_29_Pro_LI

“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:

WIN_20170514_06_08_11_Pro_LI

 

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

 

 

Ode to My Ordinary Day: What a Writer Writes When She Realizes She’s in Love

Fifteen minutes of looking through my Google Gallery brought me to the realization: I am absolutely in love. And while I toy with the idea of how much to share of myself, the deepest parts of me can not be ignored and cry out to be publicized.

I am in love with my daughter. Someone once told me, “There is no doubt that you are having a love affair with your daughter.” I confess, we are caught up in mutual adoration.

You probably have experienced this type of passion: when in love, almost every song on the radio transmits meaning, and certain lines resonate more powerfully than others.

And while enjoying that “in love” feeling, it finally dawns on you: there is not enough time, while we are alive on this planet, to live all the moments I want to live with my beloved.

James Arthur says it perfectly in my most favorite-present-song-lyric, right now:

I wanna live with you

Even when we’re ghosts

Cause you were always there for me

When I needed you the most

-from Say You Won’t Let Go by James Arthur

wedding love

So, what does a writer do, once she realizes one lifetime is not enough to live all the love of the someone she loves?

She writes an ODE.

An Ode: “A poem…written in order to praise a person or thing.” -Longman Dictionary

As you read, I invite you to think about who and/or what you love: the person or thing that you desire to experience fully in this present life and, God willingly, in the afterlife, too.

Spring is coming. With it comes birthdays, graduations, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and weddings. An ode is a perfectly priceless gift to offer your beloved (s). My next blog will offer some suggestions on how to get started. Until then, bask in the bliss with me of pure love. And get inspired to start spring with an ode of your own!

Ode to My Ordinary DayGrace and sunflowers

As morning extends to day and then day into night

Daily chores and routines are the moments always in sight:

Cereal bowls, sandwich plates, pasta bowls smeared with butter

Move from kitchen, to table, to sink: my loved load of clutter.

The mystery of my heart is defined in her laundry basket

And we’ve got Legos, Monster High Dolls, and technological gadgets.

She loves to build. She loves to sing. She loves a good back rub.

She swims like a mermaid: in pools, oceans, and her bath tub.

Tfairy house building (1)hat first day we finally met, mankind came alive:

As God’s love lives in her fair skin and in her dreamy blue eyes.

She surely lacks little, as she asks with an endearing, “Mommy?”

Evidence is in her room: it was hit by a toy tsunami!

Last summer we went to a baseball game, to see sunflowers, and to play on the beach

Where she caught a lady bug on her finger, and kept it within reach.

When she let it go she said “Good-bye sweet bug.”

Without the fear of squishing it, there would have been a hug!

Kitty cats, time with Papa, and creative adventures,lady bug moments

Gymnastics, time with friends,  and sponge cake are her pleasures.

Daily chores and routines move seamlessly to our background

As fairy wands, dance routines, and scooter rides at the playground

Become parts of the party we call our life: It is our weekly cabaret…

Mothering, Mentoring, Doting, Enjoying: These are the things that make My Ordinary Day.

So there you have it: My Ordinary Day Ode. I am blessed to live this life with this amazing soul. And my hope is, in the spirit of James Arthur’s song, my little girl will one day say to me, in an ode of her own:

“…Cause you were always there for me

When I needed you the most.”

Enjoy your creative pondering! And the love of your beloved!

Blessings and peace,

Pamela Rae

How to Dance with Daffodils: Get Naked with Yourself in Meditation.

What’s a “mindful blogger” do when all she wants to do is write, but life (or shall we say a PILE of grading or laundry) gets in the way? Breathe? Yoga stretch? Repeat a mantra over and over? NO – what she does is get frustrated, and quite frankly, anxious too. And then, annoyingly overwhelmed.

Pema Chodron in her book, The Places That Scare You states “In Vajrayana Buddhism it is said that wisdom is inherent in emotions. When we struggle against our energy we reject the source of wisdom…When our emotions intensify, what we usually feel is fear. This fear is always lurking in our lives…Thus (by meditating) we train in opening the fearful heart to the restlessness of our own energy. We learn to abide with the experience of our emotional distress.”

What’s this all mean? I am asking myself that very question.  What energy am I struggling against? And how do I “abide” in it?

As I have been grading about 20 plus hours of work, it has been a struggle. A struggle against staying put and on the task. But, I have stayed on task.  And what wisdom can that offer me as my intensity builds, as dishes pile up, and as laundry stays unfolded and on the floor?  I just do not want to look at one more written response, one more unfolded sweater, or dirty dish (note to self: I need to start using more paper plates – perish the conservationist thought!)

Life’s chores:

From a small task: cleaning out the dishwasher; to a larger task: opening up a new addition to a store. Whether it involves expansion or reduction, none of it, in its process, is necessarily pleasing. Yet, all of it is necessary.  I often think the glory is felt after the drudgery is gone. In the midst of the “chore” I hear the following:”What if I do ALL this work and no one notices? Or worse yet, what if my students don’t learn? Or worse yet, what if the customers don’t come? Or worse yet, what if the relationship fails?”

The above is what Chodron calls “the story we tell ourselves”. And, let’s face it – I’m a story teller by training, trade, and nature (maybe you are too?)!

And Chodron suggests somewhere in this churning of thought and emotion lies wisdom?

In my self-doubt, anxiety, and frustration

how do I gain the gem called wisdom?

She says, we open our heart to this opportunity in “sitting meditation”. Chodron says, as we sit and meditate, “we practice dropping whatever story we are telling ourselves and leaning into the emotions and fear.”

In my textual  annotations I wrote: ‘Abide with your distressful feelings.’ And I wrote: ‘With meditation you no longer hide from yourself; it’s a naked experience; you are a warrior who wants to dissolve the barriers between you and others.’

If I dissolve myself (or cause the barriers of protection to myself to disappear) this would require me to do one thing: get quiet in my mind and practice self kindness. It’s called “maitri” – complete self acceptance, according to Chodron.  Dropping the barrier to myself (or yourself – if you want to try it), then, would ask me to offer “Pamela” complete self acceptance: NAKEDNESS.

Um, yikes…

That means, I have to accept the dislike for the PILES: papers, laundry, dishes. I’d have to accept the PILES, too: I then might learn, love, and accept me for making them, more. NAKEDNESS.

Fortunately (thank you, Lord), Chodron doesn’t leave me there, unclothed and all exposed eternally with no advice. She says, once I get all “present” with that exposure and anxiety, I  should then free myself from “self-destructive patterns” by developing “a compassionate understanding”.

And so, sitting meditation saves the day.

Compassionate Understanding comes like this: Sit. Breathe. Feel the awareness of your body: from the top of your head to the tips of your toes. Then, reverse it: the tips of your toes to the top of your head. Breathe some more. Be aware of the sights, sounds, smells, and all the aches and pains. Yes, she reminds us, this practice goes against our grain.

It goes against our grain, Pamela… Ah-a!

“Stay…stay…stay,” Chodron says, “It’s like training a dog.” And dogs do not train well when we beat them. Dogs train well with kindness, compassion, and steadfastness.

And this is when I realize,  I have not really been getting naked with myself lately. Meaning, during my anxiety and my work load,  I have made excuses not to meditate: “There’s not enough time. I have another PILE to lessen.”

And in doing so, I have been rejecting my own inner wisdom.

So, while I may attribute the anxiety to workload and stress, I have been going with the grain: Go – go – going. That is what I have been trained to do.

Against the grain would mean, I would stop. I would meditate: tune in to my body, get compassionate with myself and stay there for a bit. Day in, day out. Month after month. Year after year. Then, Chodron tells me, I get to gain moments of clear-seeing. Not necessarily the face of God – but the face of me. With all her frumpy single mother tiredness, yet filled with her pixie-nosed beauty.

Acceptance, not rejection.

When we struggle against our energy we reject the source of wisdom.

I am my wisdom.

Meditation: I accept my energy: good, bad, indifferent. I love my energy: anxious, frustrated, busy. I learn from my energy: fearful, naked, exposed.  I will abide with this energy, and my heart will open…first to me. And then, to you.

After being over-wrought with negative emotion, for several days, the great poet William Wordsworth in his poem “I wandered lonely as a cloud”  does exactly what Chodron suggests above. As the lines below convey, Wordsworth makes himself sit on his couch and get “vacant”. Notice: no one else is there. Notice: the solitude or “aloneness” becomes blissful when his mind, after laying down for a bit, recalls some daffodils.

Wordsworth’s joy is not there first. It comes during his meditation:

For oft, when on my couch I lie
   In vacant or in pensive mood,
They (the daffodils) flash upon that inward eye
   Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.

So, according to Chodron and Wordsworth (two literary greats, if I say so myself) how does one learn to “abide in the experience of emotional distress”? We get naked with the realness of our stress by sitting (or laying down — get comfy, friend) on our couch and quieting down.

Even though every inch of our brain is screaming at us to finish our piles of work. Then, Wordsworth says we will have a “flash” of something happy (like daffodils or the smile of someone we love), while Chodron tells us we will be the “flash” that will bring happiness — our inner beauty, conflicted or not.

My challenge to myself this week is to go against the grain: instead of “go – go – go” I will “slow… slow …slow”. And with that, I will be the dancing daffodils in my “inward eye”.

Care to join the dance?

Blessings and peace,

Pamela Rae

 

 

 

Sickness and the Single Mommy: “Florence Nightingale” Helps Me Recover

 

Immobilization. That darn stomach bug that has been going around completely knocked me down. It kicked me off of my two feet! As I lay in bed, covered in blankets, a hooded sweatshirt, and a hat – freezing and sweaty – I thought, “surely death is near”. But worse yet, I thought, “I’m a single mom of an eight year old who has not yet experienced my inability to care for her.” This second thought pained me more.

Despite my usual mommy-super-powers, I was Superman, and this bug was my kryptonite!

While I will spare you the grim details of my gut wrenching symptoms, this mindful mommy has a mini-tale to tell: one of heart-opening love.

As soon as I realized my legs were giving out, I left work and drove straight to my daughter’s school to dismiss her. I knew once I entered the house, there was no way I would make it back out to meet a school bus! We zipped home. I peeled of the work clothes, armored up with layers and hit the hay. There were very few directives for Grace. She said she was hungry. I said “you’ll have to find something”. And I was passed out – cold.

Here’s what I remember in my unhealthy blur: Grace sat at the kitchen table, ate a snack, did her homework, and then asked to play on her Ipad. A good friend texted me: “Do you want me to bring you and Grace dinner?” I think I replied: “Not hungry. She is. Yes, please. TY”

Then, I heard the door bell, a precautionary “who is it” (we also have a peep hole, thankfully), and some parts of a conversation: “How was your day? I am sorry Mommy is sick…I brought you dinner…”

I remember the kind presence standing over me, placing a tall glass of ginger-ale at my bed-side, the healing hand gently placed on my head, and a “keep resting please”.  And then our meal-bringing-ginger-ale-giving super hero was gone — in a flash.

But a new super hero arrived: My blue-eyed, flaxen haired compassionate beauty, Grace. It’s true: she could have (and probably should have) ignored me. I certainly wouldn’t have blamed her – any sensible human should avoid any stomach flu victim! Hell, it’s self preservation, folks! I get it.

But, Grace became my Florence Nightingale.

“Mommy, would you like more ginger-ale?” She poured a new glass and brought it to my lips with a bendy straw (love those things – GREAT invention!)

“Mommy, here is a cold towel for your head.” Let me tell you, a wet, icy, scratchy dish towel never felt so sublime! Her patting was gentle, too.

“Mommy, how about some lotion for your back?” My sweatshirt was lifted up, and smooth, fresh from the bottle lotion was rubbed gently on my lower back. Man that stuff was COLD! Yet, she was right. It soothed me. It smelled clean. And I was “out” again.

When I woke up, about an hour later, Florence was back for her repeat duties. This time, she added: “I love you. I am worried about you. Should I call Grammy?” I think I said yes. But I drifted off again.

Well, Grammy never arrived – certainly, not to her fault (in yoga we participants silence our phones – lol). But my Florence kept duty. Never wavering. She showered herself. Put on her own pajamas, and read herself a book. No directives from me at all (shall we say: a first).

Amidst her bravery, my Little Florence spoke words of concern, while holding back buckets of tears: “Mommy, I am really worried about you.” Fortunately, by this point, I’d had a couple ladies room visits — but I am sparing you the gory details, remember – and a couple hours of restorative sleep. 

So, the improved-health-light was visible at the end of my sickness tunnel. Grace did NOT have to tuck herself in. Thankfully, my legs were wobbly, but now working! I expressed reassuring words of my soon to be renewed health to my Miss Florence.

Before I knew it, my lovely little nurse was fast asleep. Her turn to be out cold! We had both had a rough afternoon and evening.

Oh, and yes, Grammy, did finally call back. She apologized for her immersion in downward dog, while I was performing my stomach-bug-poses, and she now volunteered full duty. Yet, it was no longer needed. I was weak, exhausted, but moving forward, and headed back to bed.

So, what mindful lessons do I bring to this “Sickness and the Single Mom”  blurry episode?

Everyone needs and deserves a Florence Nightingale: someone to offer “an endless supply of compassion…fiercely dedicated to alleviating a patient’s suffering”. While I received several texts, a phone call from mom, and an amazing dinner-delivery (all appreciated 100 times over, thank you), my own “Lady with the Lamp” was my source of survival, and hope.

My hope for you is, if (and most likely when, unfortunately) you enter your own dark tunnel of illness that your Lady (or Gentleman) Lamp Bearer will show up and guide you through the depths of your illness, so you can view the warmer light of hope ahead.

Also, I hope that you will have smaller “lamp bearers” too: text messengers, love offerings from your family (kind words from a mom, a dad, or an aunt or uncle, perhaps), and maybe even a dinner-deliverer.

And, if you can not imagine who these people may be right now, or how they may make it to you when you need them most, my prayer is that they are on their way to you.

You know,  Florence’s family did not want her to go into nursing. Instead of backing down, she is forever hailed as the “Pioneer of Modern Nursing”.  You may not know who your Nightingale is, at present. They may be pioneering their way to you. Yet, I believe that person exists in all of us: to bring a cool drink, to offer words of love, or maybe to bring some sweet smelling lotion.

To receive a friend, we must be a friend. And I am proud to say, I think my daughter is going to have a lot friends. There is no doubt she is an excellent one to me.

Wishing you a Lamp Bearer. It’s the best.

Blessings and peace,

Pamela Rae

What Will Make Me Happy: Reframing My Desires with Martha Beck

My List:

1. A trip to the Bahamas (with Grace) – swimming with dolphins.

2. Someone taking me to dinner – I’m thinking romance here (or bona fide, intimate friendship).

3. Plenty of money in my bank account – no worries about if I’ll break even this month.

4. More time to rest, exercise, linger over a good book – I’m thinking more free time.

5. And, as Martha Beck would say: Creative Problem Solving.

In the book Finding Your Own North Star, Martha Beck is taking me, the reader, on a journey to find my “essential self” — which she explains is the part of me that is my true North (my life purpose, my joy-bringer). This “essential self” is often in opposition to my “social self” (the side of me that thinks about what Everybody else might say or think about me – or as we have called it before “The Joneses”). One treasure of this journey of the essential self is me really knowing what brings me happiness. And, a way to get there.

I’m kind of old. So, there is a lot about me, just from reaching my forties that I know brings me joyful feelings: I am open to and enjoy exploring new ideas; I love coffee, yoga, meditation, learning lines from favorite films, and spending time with my daughter. Tulips, deliciously scented candles, and varying hues of blue are all yummy, too! Also, I tend to lose all sense of space and time when I am teaching a great lesson, watching Grace smile, or feeling “in love” (with a person, a place, thing or even an idea – oh how I love nouns; Let me count the ways…).

All of the above bring joy.

“But, wait, did you imply you are NOT happy?” you ask. For me to answer in either definitive  direction is a process. And before you feel sad or sorry for me, let me clarify the journey: mostly, I know what brings or adds happiness to my overall life experience — such as the potential for gaining My List above. Of course, I know that “stuff” can add to life’s joy factor!

Yet, what I am interested in exploring, with Beck’s help (and with Life’s assistance, too) is this thing she calls Emotional Happiness (EH).  In my “Emotionally Safe Environment” my EH will blossom, like a spring tulip.

What is an Emotionally Safe (ES) Environment?

It’s where I can dig out my “shrapnel” from my past hurts, childhood wounds, and crummy experiences (and we have all had some CRUMMY stuff by the time we get to forty, right?). Then, I allow healing.

In “Chapter Seven: Repairing Your Emotional Compass”, Beck has lead me through diagnosing my emotional injuries (like ‘stuffing my anger instead of standing up for myself’), then to treating my wounds (and all those in my frontline tribe of friends who are a ‘sane and sympathetic audience’, um – thank you!), to having compassion for myself (a tough road considering I am a life-long perfectionist).

So, as I get real with myself and heal, in a gentle way, and in a safe place, with safe people (my ES environment) “bursts of enthusiasm and new ideas” are born from my inner healing. So True.

So, how does this ES Environment bring EH?

According to Beck, it’s all about the deal with me finding my “essential self”: my life purpose, my joy-bringer- What Will Make Me Happy!!!!. On My List it’s more about gaining number 5: Creative Problem Solving, than number 1, 2, 3, or 4.

You see, number 5 has nothing to do with things or other people.  According to Beck understanding “my own basic needs, not external circumstances” will bring me EH (Emotional Health).  On My List 4 out of 5  involve external circumstances (1, 2, 3 and 4), such as people’s actions (more vacation time or a boss giving me a raise, for example)…

…I even thought of adding a non-negotiable number 6: Grace’s good health and happiness.

The trouble is this: If I continue to depend on another person’s behavior (like my daughter no longer debating dinner options) or a hoped for experience, Emotional Happiness may not be attainable for me.

Because what Beck suggests here, as a happiness booster, is a shift in thought: What is the emotion I would be feeling if I had all the stuff, the relationship, and all the money I want?

My “emotional” answer: Fulfillment. A basic need for me is to feel that I am realizing a desire, or feeling fulfilled.

So, using Beck’s wisdom, how do I (or WE) go about getting that feeling?

If I get what I want, I will feel fulfilled. For example, how do I feel fulfilled without getting that luxurious Bahamas trip?

SIMPLE: What I really want is to fully and zestfully experience my life.

So, what I do now, is reconfigure what my present resources can do.

Beck says, “Reframe your desires”.

Here’s My New “Reframed” (and accomplished) List:

  1. Find fun water adventures, locally with Grace: We went to Salisbury Beach Reservation and saw the wild seals sunbathing on the rocks! Mammals are mammals after all.
  2. Enjoy dinner with a loving friend or family member: We had Chinese with Auntie #1, homemade chicken soup with Auntie #2, and French toast with strawberries with a favorite friend at our own comfy kitchen table!
  3. Appreciate the money I do have: It brought us to Disney on Ice, and I didn’t worry about how I was going to pay for going to “Disney”!
  4.  Achieve more Free-time: We had school vacation this week! Daily Agenda: Rise later and read more! Done.
  5. Creative Problem Solving: a best friend came over and helped me comb over paper work and find a solution that my eyes could not find! Thank you, Bestie!

Fulfillment. That’s it. That’s what made me happy this week. This was my “essential self” in action. I didn’t get a raise or luxurious trip. Yet, I am fulfilled.

Months ago my “social self” would have compared these apples to someone else’s apples. I really did care what someone else thought…I did. But, sadly, back then, I had not created an Emotionally Safe Environment for myself, either.

Certainly, My List (first one) is still attainable. “And, what about non-negotiable number 6?” you ask. Fortunately, Grace is doing great! Surely, she’s lining up a debate for tomorrow’s breakfast: eggs vs pancakes. Heck, it might be fulfilling to have both! Certainly, it’s achievable.

If you were to reframe your desires to achieve happiness this week, what would your list look like?

Feel free to share! And I offer cheers and love to your “essential self”!

Wishes of fulfillment, too.

Blessings and peace,

Pamela Rae