Monday, March 19, 2007

The Gracefulness of just being....I saw her again at the gym, in her shiny kelly green leotard and her shiny beige tights.
She looks great, she must be at least 75 years old and I stare at her often, she catches me staring and I smile at her, she smiles back. I don't imagine she knows why I stare but it is purely in deep admiration of her. She, the small framed woman who is, and probably has always been true to herself. The rest of us on our treadmills, in our 30's, 40's, 50's trying desparately to hide beneath the layers of over size clothing -- perhaps even our husbands over sized shirts to hide our shame or embarrassment of a small bundle
of fat. I call my leotard lady Lucille....she just looks like one, tiny red curls cling to her head, over-sized glasses and red lipstick. She stands out in the room as a kind reminder that life is good and you just have to grab it and go with it. I long to tell her that I hope that someday I too will find the courage to wear a shiny leotard and embrace the gift of life in all of its forms. Lucille has, without knowing, become a sign of the future for me. A sign of hopefulness, longevity, letting go and embracing it all, as it comes.
Watching her always brings a gentle smile across my face, even when its been
a hard day. She reminds me of the truth. The truth, that we are what we believe, that we can bring upon ourselves unconditional happiness in small ways, that letting go of our pre-conditioned behaviors can be very good for the soul.
When my son was little, I use to always say to him "be true to yourself and you will always find your way home". I live by this most of the time and there are times when I need gentle reminders to take me back to my purposefulness. This has been a very trying week professionally and I needed desparately to step back and reach deep inside to find peace and forgiveness in my soul. I remind myself of what my truth is and that is, to be generous with my heart, intentions and to forgive myself and others. This does not mean allowing others to walk all over me and abuse me but if I can model my truth to others, healing might happen all around. I make a vow to give with my heart, spirit and soul and to continually count my blessings big and small. For truly, as I see it all around me, the world and everything in it, is a gift of immense proportions.
Blessings to Lucille and all of those who on a daily basis work on bringing hope and inspirations to others.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

"I want to Marry a lighthouse Keeper", or so the song goes.........and here is my second happiest day.....
In the fall of 2003, my son turned 11 years old. As many 11 year olds wished, he wanted another Laser Tag party. I, having had enough of such events, not to mention the ridiculous cost for a party that last an hour and a half while also leaving you with a lasting headache........decided that my child needed some outdoors, no electronics, kinda birthday. I decided to book a weekend in a lighthouse, which made its restoration money from also being a bed&breakfast. I had heard about my fated lighthouse from my friend Lisa (who at one very disturbing time in our lives was also my daughter-in-law) - she was married to my ex-husbands eldest son. Lisa and I are the same age, married to father and son, divorced from said father and son. Oh well, really interesting stuff but for another time. Lisa and I are great friends and each year we try to keep the connection with our kids by going away for a weekend together. My son is her daughters uncle (yeah). Lisa and I had planned to take the kids to this lighthouse but at the last minute Anna, her daughter could not fathom doing this.

I decided to go along with my plans and take Jon and his friend Julia who was also turning 11. They were not allowed to bring any electronics and were encouraged to bring binoculars, sketching pads and pencils ..oh, and of course books. I brought along my book, a wine glass, and a bottle of good wine. I had spoken at length with the Lighthouse keeper re: our trip and what not to bring. He told me there was no TV and I should absolutely not bring a hair dryer (their power source being very limited) and if I planned to go out at night I should bring a flashlight. I was told to park in the lot and that I would be walking about 1/2 a mile through a nature trail to the lighthouse. As we started our trek through, truly, one of the most beautiful paths, I have ever seen, I couldn't help but notice the delight in the kids after complaining all the way there on our three hour drive from Long Island to Upstate. They explored and laughed running through the path as young children do on a wonderful adventure. The lighthouse is lovingly surrounded by the Hudson River and the Esopus Creek. The natural beauty of its surroundings really takes your breath away.

When I walked in I was greeted by a woman who was a volunteer of the lighthouse, giving tours and a bit of history. I told her I was a guest and asked if the keeper was around......just as Allen, walked in the room. Just like I knew it would happen, I looked at him, he looked at me and we knew that we'd finally found one another. after a lovely weekend, it was time for me to leave. It was Labor Day and a Monday, the lighthouse keepers day off and instead of leaving at the regular checkout time, we sat around admiring all of God's incredible gifts.

Allen and I dated from that day on......let me tell you what a great deal I got dating him.....Nothing has ever come close to being as romantic or as peaceful as staying at the lighthouse. I was so fortunate to sta
y in all seasons and really experience all of its beauty, from fog in the early morning, thunderstorms that would take your breath away later rewarding us with a rainbow and to snow drifts so tall that it was like climbing small hills. The peacefulness of the winters and the surprise to my waking eyes of deer swimming across the river. Never had I seen such raw beauty.
In July of 2005 Allen and I were so blessed to get married at the Lighthouse, amongst our wonderful friends, family and our children. It was a perfect summer day, no wind, no rain, no humidity and the most beautiful setting I could've dreamed of. Allen and I had prepared most of the food, friends set up, and the next lighthouse keeper cooked. Everyone had a part in it. It was the kind of wedding I had dreamed about but could never imagine having. To have found my soul mate, friend and to love again while including the most important people in my li
fe -- I simply could not have asked for more.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Last night, I pushed myself to go to a yoga class. I know that it will benefit me in many ways but the class starts at 8:30 and ends at 9:30 which by my standards a little late for a weeknight. I decided I had to go after my 14 year old started lovingly wrestling me because he had nothing else to do. I say, "how about reading, studying, drawing," nope, not for him. He's been punished, and I hate to use that word, I'd rather look at it as giving him time to reflect on making better choices, for slacking off on school assignments. He is not allowed to watch TV or play video games during the week at all. So being 14 and trying to torture me by poking, tickling, and invading with great zest my personal space, I decide I need to get away from this torment of the evening. Let me say that I do love this attention which would not come if he had TV and Video games but my body is not what it use to be and his vigor at wrestling me is exhausting. He did try to wrestle with the dog but after a while, poor Buster, could not keep up and went to hide.
Off I went to yoga at 8:30, when all I really wanted was to curl up in comfy,
warm (and perhaps not so attractive) clothing. I perk up at bit as I get there (its 15 minutes away) and decide to make the best of it since earlier in the day my body was not behaving, causing Siatic pain on the right side. I limped around most of the day to my embarrassment. The yoga instructer is an older gentlemen, maybe in his 60's. He is quite agile, making me feel even worse because truly I am not flexible at all. Most positions are challenging for me especially anything that requires standing on one foot. Those positions that require laying down are body friendly to me and my favorites. I wonder if anything like that exist, that is not happening in a senior center? The setting for my yoga class is not optimal, there is a lot of banging around from the weights being lifted and I swear, thrown (it is in a gym), The soothing, meditative music often gets drowned out by the heavy rock music pouring through live a sieve from the gym. The room was rather chilly, and laying my achy bones on the floor was just not a feel good moment. Even the instructer commented on the chill. As it ends and I have completed my last sun salutation, bearing cold feet, hands and nose, I feel rather relaxed and loving. I am ready to go home to my husband and son and feel a great feeling of love and gratitude for them. All is good.
Upon getting home, I notice its dark. Iam disappointment at not being able to spread this love; everyone is sound asleep. I go into into my son's room and his energy and lack of TV has put him to sleep. I kiss his head and smile. In the next room, my husband is gently snoring (not really) and I kiss his head. When I crawl into bed
I thank God for my blessings and feel deep comfort that everything is as it should be and for a moment I feel great peace.One of the great pleasures of my son's loss of TV and video games is the quality time we are spending together talking, playing chess and just being a family.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Just before the Second Happiest day...
There were some pretty significant events that occurred prior to my second happiest day. They are important, in that they lead me in a very different direction than what I thought, on the day when I moved out of the home I shared with my first husband. When we got divorced I had no job and had just finished getting my Masters in Clinical Social Work. I purchased a small home not too far from him and my son's elementary school so that Jon would feel some sense of stability and safety. This happened in the summer of 2000. The year that followed would knock me off my feet and nothing was ever the same. A little background is required.

It is 1980, I was still living in the Bronx, was in my first year of college, and I was 17. I had gone with friends to the beach in the late afternoon after all the crowds were gone. I had a good book (so I thought), I can still remember the title (A distant Shore - not a classic) because it was in the inside cover of that book that he wrote his phone number. It was an overcast day and smelled overly of low-tide. I was laying on a blanket reading my book, when laughter from across made me look up. There were about 6 guys talking and laughing across the way, my eyes connected with one and I just knew that there was a connection of some sort (could it be that he was gorgeous, uhmmm). He later came over and introduced himself and we talked for a bit. He gave me his number. His name was Dennis. Someone I would have a relationship with for over 20 years, first as lovers later as friends who loved each other. Dennis and I dated for a long time. I was madly in love. Five years into our relationship I still got butterflies. He was 10 years older and not so committed. He dated others but we'd still be together. We had an understanding that he was not the "committing type' but I felt loved and he was my best friend. Even years later, I knew I could call him anytime, any day, at any hour and I knew I could count on him. When we broke up for good, I met my first husband and married very quickly. He called, I went and he begged me not to do it. He thought I was too young and my husband to be, too old. My husband represented stability, he wanted only me, he was settled and wanted a wife. Dennis and I remained friends over the years; meeting for lunch once a year but speaking on the phone more often. We heard about each other lives, successes, children etc. He had a daughter from a relationship and later I had my son. We often joked that we'd meet at 70 and get together once and for all. We spoke freely of our love for each other, understanding that we'd made different choices. We laughed about the possibilities of any future union, with some sadness in the air. After my divorce and my move, Dennis and I spoke frequently about getting together for dinner and catching up. At this time he was living with someone. We laughed about our poor timing, I was divorced and he had finally settled into a serious relationship. In late August of 2001, he called to wish me a happy birthday. It was late at night, around midnight, and we spoke for a long time looking back on the years and how quickly they went by. We talked about our lives, expressing pride in each others accomplishments. I told him how very much I loved him, and how very proud I was of the man he was. He was a firemen for over 25 years and was immensely respected by all who knew him. I put myself through school while getting divorced. We had lived many moments together and all who knew us understood our great love. I remember one of my mother's friends telling me before I got married that she knew that Dennis was the love of my life and though I could love another, nothing and no one would ever change those dynamics. She was right.

On September 11th, 2001, Dennis died in the World Trade Center. A week before our dinner date. I cannot speak of this time because, the truth is, that it brings on raw pain. Five months later my niece died and three months after that my sister Lily died. I was in shock and had little time to recover from any of it. I was grateful for the last phone call and even the thought of a missed date. I felt blessed for the moments with my niece and many days spent with my sister during her illness. It was my year for growing up and realizing how very precious life is.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

"In the depth of winter, I finally realized that within me
there lay an invincible summer"
~Albert Camus
A long time ago a dear friend gave me this quote as a reminder that there are always better days ahead. My first marriage was to a much older man who I cared about deeply, I would even go as far to say that I truly loved him. I was 24 and he was 48. He was a widower with 4 older children when we married. I was young and idealistic, thinking that I was going to make up for some of the pain of losing a wife and mother. I really had no clue. We endured 13 difficult and sad years, but the one thing my ex-husband and I still share is the love we have for my son Jonathan, if nothing else. I will always be grateful to him for the gift of my son.

Nothing in my life prepared me for what I would feel during my pregnancy and the birth of my son. It is quite possible that I bonded closer to my child during my pregnancy because I was so lonely. My husband was very hesitant to our having a baby, I thought it would be what would bring us together. I was wrong about that, but I was right in the fact that my son was th
e greatest thing that ever happened to me. During my pregnancy my husband drifted further away, and I grew closer to my unborn child. It was truly incredible how lonely I was, yet, I was the happiest I had ever known possible. My husband did not touch me, he never reached out to feel for the wonderful movement within me. I would say, " oh my God, feel this, he's moving," he declined and I stopped asking. I grew bigger and he withdrew completely.

I loved being pregnant, I felt blessed in a way that seemed so undeserved. Everyday I thanked God for being so good to me, allowing me to become a mother. After 48 hours in labor and an eventual c-section, I delivered my son. I still well up when I think back to this moment in my life because truly no accomplishment has ever come close to this moment. One day the nurse walked in to my room while I was holding my son and she said, "what's the matter" as I cried, I told her that my mother had told me that my whole life, perspective and everything I believed in would change forever and I realized she was right. Nothing would ever be the same. No longer would I be free of worry and the love that I felt at that moment could have filled all the oceans in the world.

My son is now 14, I worry about him, hoping that I have shown him strength, perseverance, love, generosity, kindness and good values. Sometimes he is typical of most children that age, he can be selfish, unfocused, and will often take the path of least resistance. I try to model the opposite of these things and present him with opportunities to gain the first qualities. In these times of video games, MTV, and television that is often demoralizing, it can be a hard struggle for a parent. I am not giving up though. I vow to direct my son even when he is resistant, and at times angry with me because at the end of the day, I know that he knows how much I love him and that is why I will always challenge him to think, react and challenge his own purpose in life and examine his own character.

Prior to my second marriage, my son and I were on our own for 6 years. I did not date often (3 times actually and never a second date), for I knew I was not emotionally ready. I had to figure out somethings for myself. Examine why I made certain choices and how I could make a better and different life for myself and my son. I had vowed to spend at least one major holiday and birthday by myself to ensure my own emotional growth. Though the road that lead me to where I am was bumpy to say the least, I gained a much smoother future because of it. Best of all, I got my one and only child, truly a gift that I don't take for granted and one that I give th
anks for every single day.

The second happiest day will follow soon....