I have reluctantly admitted my guilty pleasure of watching Hallmark Christmas movies. I thought at first it was just an easy feel good moment, but recently a friend posted a picture of her with a popular Hallmark actor and I was shocked at how many of her friends admitted to watching them too.
Now, I dont mean to be unkind to all the people that work hard to make these movies possible. After all, we are watching them. The Christmas Movie Season is the Super Bowl of chick flicks. There is even an app this year, so, you don’t miss any of your favorites, but why is it a guilty pleasure? Perhaps it is the standard dialog and reused sets. Maybe the blown in now or worse, cotton batten. The slightly hokey titles and product placement doesn’t add much virtue either, so, why do we watch?
Hope. Hope that the season will finally be what we wish it to be. Hope that our childhood memories will bolster our melancholy. Hope that maybe this year that miracle will arrive. Hope that things will turn out just the way they should. It is the possibility, the hope of the future- the believing- if only for a moment, that life will be like a Hallmark movie. That everything will magically fall in to place.
Just like a steady diet of Hallmark movies would not nourish the brain, a steady hope of all being well would not nourish the soul. We wish for things, hope for things to be perfect, but in truth, they never are. Nor, would I want them to be. Our lives are lived through our perception. You can be happy with little and depressed with much. You might get what you thought you wanted, and realize too late, it was not what you wanted at all. It seems there is always something just on the other side of hope that we wish for and it is the striving, the overcoming of obstacles, the climb that makes us feel most alive.
Hope moves us forward. It has a sneaky way of multiplying into bigger and bigger hopes. It is the coal that fires the train of our dreams. The life we choose to live and the purpose by which we live it. Without hope, the train derails or rusts on the track. Dreams are lost or put on the back burner. The spring in your step disappears. The glow fades into dusk. Hope is as important as breathing.
The holidays can be a difficult time for many of us and it is an important time to practice self- care. If your new version of a perfect Christmas is take-out and a movie, then do it. If you need some time to gaze in to the fire and let the melancholy take over, then do it. Buy yourself a gift, have a pedicure, take a bubble bath- whatever works and as often as you need to. We spend so much time doing for others that we burn out, don’t enjoy any of it and then wonder why we are disappointed with the season.
So, if you need to, put on those fuzzy jammies, make some hot cocoa, and in the sparkle of the fairy lights watch a schmaltzy Christmas movie--even the comedic holiday movies are heartwarming enough to bump up the hope quotient.
I see the flurries starting outside my window, and like a child my heart races. I hope it is a white Christmas. Even though it is unlikely, I still hope. Christmas is a time for miracles and anything is possible.
I wish you and yours the happiest of holidays and a peaceful season in the New Year.
All animals have nesting rituals to prepare for a new birth. Parents begin their nursery preparation often finishing just in time. I did not have that luxury. I picked out the paint color, but my son did not wish to wait the six weeks until his due date, so, his dad painted while we were still at the hospital.
Giving birth can be an extraordinarily painful experience, but I suppose like any joyous moment you cannot truly appreciate the wonder without the pain. Thankfully, the memory of the pain itself becomes blurry or many women might just stop at one!
We continually give birth to new life within us. Experience, circumstance, time- all work to bring change and although we usually adapt without much fanfare, when we look back we can see how far we come. Sometimes we are forced to make more premature changes. The easy flow of existence and growth suddenly pushes us to make choices we might not be prepared for. And through the excruciating pains of labor we finally emerge, and a new life begins.
The pain once again, becomes blurry around the edges with time and we move forward ready to meet the next phase of our life. All of the preparations, worries, pain and doubt only serve to take away our peace because whether we want to grow and thrive, or not , it will happen eventually—sometimes it is a long, difficult period as we fight to stave off the pain and hold on to what we know, while other times it seems to happen easily and when we least expect it. No matter how we reach the moment, it will happen and eventually, the joy of new beginnings will be all we remember.
Growth is difficult. Change is hard. Seasons come to pass, and we look back and think: how did I end up here? I am a bit of a fatalist and believe that every moment, every meeting, and every choice we make is part of an intricate map that leads us exactly where we need to be. Not that it cannot be changed or adapted by how we get there, but the basic core of our life that resides in our soul, is always constant. The road may be long and twisted, taking us down many paths. We might get lost along the way and have to ask for directions- (men can ignore that part, since they never do!) but regardless we will still end up at the same place. I prefer the wandering method as there is much adventure along the way.
Others wake up one day and say; this is my road and I will follow it to the end. They stay on the straight and narrow and it works for them. Is their surety a form of advanced knowledge? Have they reached a point in life where they have come closer to their true self than others or is it simply the mix that allows us all to coexist and is required to help find our way? It would be terrible if everyone was wandering lost- or equally so, if all followed the straight path.
Unfortunately, so many are wrapped up in their own opinions and little worlds of technology that we often are afraid to reach out to the others that could help facilitate out journey. So much anger and fear causing so many to retreat within. What a shame, when the many can offer so much; if not propel our journey, at least enrich it in some way.
Not everyone on our path is meant to stay with us. Some journey a way beside us and then veer off to their own paths. Some we cannot cajole to move from their purpose to take “the road less travelled” along with us, while others take us by the hand and remain on the path with us as long as they are needed. Yet, in the end, it truly is a solo journey.
With each new birth, we move forward with a chance to create a new life, learn new things, and grow closer to our true self. Painful? Often. Scary? Yes. Worth it? Absolutely! Like a baby, we can only trust our inner voice and those that support us on our journey. We have no idea what lies ahead or how we will get there, but growth will unfold as we move forward. Life, death, rebirth : the endless cycle.
I have been painting and laying floors. I am re designing my habitat to prepare for the new birth. This time, I have had plenty of time to get ready, yet, I pushed it to the very end anyway. It’s almost here, just keep breathing through the pain, all the wonder and magic of new life is just on the other side of fear.
I have always had an adventurous spirit. I’m not complaining or anything, but sometimes it does get me in to a bit of a bind. Since I am a writer, I’ve been considering the best way to capture some true stories in a fictionalized way.
Writing is difficult. It is a way to say all the things you cannot speak, but the thoughts somehow come out under the guise of a character: any resemblance to a person living or dead is purely coincidence. I think we all know why that was added to the information page of novels. Writing this way, whether consciously or not, can take a physical and emotional toll on the author. Often after I finish a novel I need time to decompress, to let go of that world and those people(characters) that have filled many days and hours.
So, what of writing a memoir then? How does one manage the inevitable pain of revisiting the past? The happy memories will help, but each memory carries with it sights and sounds and scents of a different time. Some better than others. And it seems that once you delve into the memory pool, other things you haven’t thought of in years begin to come forward. Each moment carrying you to other moments until you are immersed in a sensory explosion of emotions.
I am immensely grateful to have these experiences to share. No matter how embarrassing some might be… the most pleasure I get from writing is when someone says: I could relate, I’ve been there and I’m glad you told it the way it really is. It creates a sense of community and sometimes, that is just what they need.
Not all my tales are pretty. Not all are happy go lucky, but I’ve always made my choices knowing that sometimes, things don’t end up the way you plan. Sometimes you get lost. Sometimes you give up. And sometimes, you make bad choices. Still, I would not change a thing because what if…
It’s not for the feint of heart. Often my friends who’ve chosen a more secure lifestyle, say: I wish I could travel alone, live in another country, give up my day job, follow my heart… Sometimes they can but are afraid. Sometimes they have obligations, but more often I think they enjoy the vicarious fantasy of it all, but know it is not their path. I have always encouraged others to live their dreams and maybe someday they will too, yet, I caution them--it isn’t an easy choice. When envy raises their head and they whine, I ask them to walk in my shoes for a minute. Most do not take me up on it.
I still have plenty of adventure ahead. I’m not sitting debating how someday old age will find me, I’m deciding how to pack the most in to every day I have. With the loss of my parents and the inevitable departure of my now adult son, I find myself on the precipice of a freedom I’ve never known. I have always been a wanderer and soon I will be off again. Our worlds change every day. In a heartbeat, nothing is the same as you’ve known it, but when you open yourself to new places and new people, that happens more often than not.
We are all on our own journey. Looking for something that fills that sacred place deep in our soul. Sometimes we find it, but it can be tenuous. Sometimes it fills us so full, we are bursting with it and other times we must journey on until it is our time. I have pushed through fear and indecision and heartbreak, yet, I still rise each day and hope to conquer my fears again. I have experienced true joy and unbearable sadness. To that end, I am grateful that my life has been so full of feeling. I have logged miles and days and years of living and still I carry on searching for more.
Will I write of my adventures? I am not sure. Perhaps they aren’t as thrilling as I think, but if I do, you can be sure that I will tell it just like it is (or was)—and if not, I’m sure my characters will tell it for me.
One thing you can be sure of, each new step of a journey is scary. I am not the bravest person, but I do it any way. What are you afraid of? You will probably come up with many answers, but start small and one day, you will find the adventures that are waiting for you.
Audio Arts Collective @eSensual is a unique way for talented audio creators to gather together and mutually increase audience awareness, sales, Patronage and more.
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Some years ago, I read about medical phenomenon called Broken Heart Syndrome. Being a romance writer, I added it to my file of tidbits that might make a good story someday.
From www.heart.org: Broken heart syndrome, also called stress-induced cardiomyopathy or takotsubo cardiomyopathy, can strike even if you’re healthy. (Tako tsubo, by the way, are octopus traps that resemble the pot-like shape of the stricken heart.)
Women are more likely than men to experience the sudden, intense chest pain — the reaction to a surge of stress hormones — that can be caused by an emotionally stressful event. It could be the death of a loved one or even a divorce, breakup or physical separation, betrayal or romantic rejection. It could even happen after a good shock (like winning the lottery.)
Broken heart syndrome may be misdiagnosed as a heart attack because the symptoms and test results are similar. In fact, tests show dramatic changes in rhythm and blood substances that are typical of a heart attack. But unlike a heart attack, there’s no evidence of blocked heart arteries in broken heart syndrome.
Although at the time of learning this, I smiled thinking back to teenage years when I would lament that I would certainly die of a broken heart if some boy or another wanted to break up, I now realize there is nothing romantic about heart problems.
Did Elizabeth clutch her chest when Mr. Darcy walked away? Did Jane Austen write that angst from experience while her own heart palpitated and ached? (Most likely, but still, she did not die of a broken heart.) Does every chick flick end up with ‘the chick’ dying? No! Though writing from a place of pain is often the most creative and productive time for many writers.
We read of long time couples who die within months of one another: the family shakes their collective head and sigh, she was broken hearted and could not live without him. I always believed that to be true. And perhaps in some ways they are the lucky ones, not the others that must learn to live without their true love for the rest of their days. I reiterate from last month’s blog: 'Rabbit, how long is forever?' 'Sometimes just one second.' Aside from the grief, pain, and death, to know that one has been loved so completely is indeed romantic.
And what of the lovers lost, forbidden, unrequited? What of those who made plans and dreams that never came to pass? The miles that separate the touch of so many? How about those that spend their nights weeping into a tub of ice cream or a bottle of wine? The tough ones who push through with false bravado? Do they not too have Broken Heart Syndrome? And is there a cure? Yes, but it isn't an easy pill to swallow. Time is the only cure for many, and if not a cure, then surely a way to keep the symptoms in check and prevent further damage.
Though, fortunately, I am not suffering from the Broken Heart syndrome, I recently began taking a medication for my racing pulse. Normal resting pulse for me is around 90, but the DR said we should control it and see what happens. I was horrified! How would my heart pound when my lover stepped through the door? Would it no longer race when he whispered my name?
Well, after a week, that was the least of my worries. I quickly became a walking shell of a human being. Dazed and confused… unable to drive and little energy for pounding or anything else. It was as though a fog had settled all around me. Ah, but the quiet of 70 pulse rates, the lack of thudding in my chest, and the lazy days were not without benefits.
As I weaned myself off the medication, I could feel the curtain lifting and could see the clear skies around me. I will probably have to start something new, but until then I am enjoying the return of ‘me.’ I am working hard to do all I can to control my physical issues without drugs and trying to remember that I have survived broken hearts before and so, I shall again. Ice Cream may not be the best choice, but I admit it does help. Everything in moderation…
Stress, depression, loss, heartache can all cause very real physical problems and should never be dismissed. It is often the strongest that end up with problems as they push their issues down and carry on until it presents in a physical way. It has been a long, complicated season for me. Much has changed and continues to change, and I have finally learned that there are many things I cannot fix or control. I must simply breathe, trust and let go of the things that make me crazy.
If you ask the romantic in me, I’d say, ‘my heart has been broken so completely that it cannot be fixed’ but the truth is we just need to take more time for ourselves. Time to breathe, to take care of our bodies, our minds. Time is the best medicine of all, so, take all you need- your heart will keep beating while you do.
Besides, it would be terrible to win the lottery and have stress take you before you could claim your prize!
Author's Note: If you are experiencing any chest pain, shortness of breath or heart related issues, call your DR or 911 immediately.
DST will soon be upon us and the days are already growing longer. It has been a long, frigid winter and I am looking forward to more sunshine.
The adjustment of an hour can sometimes take days to recover from. Almost a mini jet lag of sorts, but then, time zones have always been an issue for me. Interrupted sleep, the urge to do more, difficulty in justifying down time all grow stronger as the spring turns to summer. After long months of hibernation, it only makes sense to hurriedly prepare for the lazy days of summer.
So, time marches on… we often think there are not enough hours in the day, busily hurrying from one task to the next until our bodies say enough and we drop in to bed. But time moves at a different speed for everyone. Yes, 60 seconds make a minute for us all, but how we perceive that minute is our reality of time.
When life is good, and love is new, we say: I wish this moment could last forever. When life is challenging it brings to mind Alice’s question: “Rabbit, how long is forever?” To which he replies: “Sometimes, just one second.”
We have such limited time on this Earth, we should be cherishing every moment, but often the days go by unheeded and turn in to years, then decades… when our time comes to move on will we wish we had more time? Or will we just wish we used the time we had differently?
And what of the moments and memories that are timeless? Family and friends that have always been the closest to us. People that even after months or years of not seeing one another, pick up right where they ended the last time. Does time then stand still during the moments apart? Are vivid memories a moment from our past or a simply a way to relive these moments time and time again?
They say the ancient calendar and time keeping systems were created as a way to follow the stars, track the weather cycles and give people a way to manage a day. But even without tracking the hours, days, months of our lives, time continues and shows us the natural progression of life. The cyclical nature of things. The urgency to do or the time to rest. Life does, and will go on, whether we choose it to or not, how slow or fast that occurs is up to us. DST may give us an extra hour of daylight on the clock, but the time is still the same as it was the day before. One long moment from birth until death.
So much time is spent on our phones and computers. Whittling away the hours reading ‘fake news ’and watching cats play with yarn or babies bouncing on a chair is easy. Before you realize it, hours have passed. Some days, the only human interaction we have is through a text message.
We always think there will be time. Time to reach out, to right a wrong, to fix, to change, to grow. While we don’t know how much time we have left, we can take those moments and make them count. We can build memories that will give us moments over and over, we can love enough to transcend time. We can share our time with those who need it most.
Take a walk and really look at what is around you, read a book, phone a friend just because. Look up and smile at someone passing by, ask the clerk ‘how are you today?’ or even play with your dog. It only takes a moment and really, how long is that? Besides, you have an extra hour to fill, so, why not give it a try.
Tick-tock. Time waits for… and all that. I think the Super Blood Blue Moon Eclipse has stirred things up. The New Year always brings thoughts of rebirth, starting over, trying again or simply moving on to new and different things.
They say- whoever, they may be- that endings leave room for new beginnings. That old memories can hold us back from a clear path forward. That we can keep them tucked away in a box to be admired from time to time, but not letting go of the past can mean we are destined to repeat our mistakes.
Past memories are integral in creating who we are. Good memories, bad memories, even fuzzy memories are all stored within us and help us to make decisions every day. Sometimes they will poke us hard and say, “You really don’t want to do that again do you?” Or other times they cheer us on to new heights: “Remember, you accomplished that, so, you certainly can do this!”
I have learned the hard way that revisiting them in an effort to change things, make it right, fix something, is futile. The only option we have is to use them to make different, hopefully better, choices moving forward.
Can we count on them to make sure we never make another mistake? If only… but then again, would we want that? Then how would we know the next time…
The world has changed so much in the last few years, I know that these growth spurts are important to progress and when my great-great grandchildren look back at our present they will see it very differently, but for now we still have a chance to rewrite our future history. Every day is a new beginning, a fresh start and with our growth we need to be cautious that we do not make the mistakes of our past.
The day of the eclipse I rose early in hopes of gaining some insight and guidance from this powerful lunar event- or at least see it moving through my piece of sky, but the weather did not cooperate. Thick clouds and snow flurries. Instead, I tuned in to the live NASA feed and watched from the warm comfort of my home. As the event unfolded, comments from all over the World scrolled across the screen. I sat and watched with almost 100,000 other strangers and yet we were all joined by a common goal. To witness the incredible beauty and wonder of Mother Nature at her finest.
As I read through some of the comments I noticed that every third one or so, was a wish for peace and prosperity. Not just for themselves, but for the world. I began to weep with the magnitude of this moment. Strangers from all across the globe wishing for the same thing. I believe the Universe has heard those wishes and taken them in to account. Perhaps, we now have a chance to move forward remembering our past, good and bad and begin making better decisions.
We all have the same DNA at our core. We are (mostly) programmed to want the same things. So, it would serve our World if we concentrate on that and let go of all the “fake news’ out there. It is important to be aware of the changes, they remind us of past times that were a mistake. They also remind us there is so much good in the World. It is more important to move forward with hope and peace in our hearts. With a collective wish for peace and prosperity for the World.
I know I sound a bit like a bleeding heart, but honestly, is there any other way to save our world? Will we live the reality of the few who wish to dictate our choices, or will we bravely continue to pave the way for a better future?
Some may say, I can’t make a decision, that I’m always straddling a line, (the curse of a Libra) but I know that I must look at both sides carefully because usually, there is some merit to both– or at least I can make myself believe that long enough to make a decision. We all believe what we choose to and that is our reality. Is that wrong? I don’t think so? Why on earth would we choose someone else’s idea of reality to guide our lives.
We may only have one chance here on Earth. Maybe in alternate universes we are experiencing this life in other ways, but without knowing that, this is our reality. If we can come together with a better vision of reality for our future, a collective consciousness of reality for peace, then we just might be able to make a difference.
Only half awake, my Facebook feed came up with Rod Stewart, a longtime favorite, singing Auld Lang Syne. Maybe it is the coming super moon landing on the first, maybe it is the end of a year that perhaps wasn’t my best, but the poignant rendition made me start to reminisce.
The very lyrics remind us to not forget the past. The good and bad times, the changes, and most importantly the people that have come and gone in our lives. Although the literal ‘raise a cup’ got out of hand somewhere down the line and New Year’s Eve is often a time to drink to excess, the kindness of raising a glass to those we love is always a good idea.
I began to think of NYE past and how in my youth, I too, partook in a bit of excess, but as the years went on I realized that nothing was more satisfying than ringing in the New Year with the people that mattered most in my life.
I have lived through Y2K and the end of the Mayan Calendar. I have heard prophecies claiming numerous dates that the world might end, and yet, here we are. I wanted to look back at 2017 and sort through the many challenges and heart aches that made it a difficult year, but then I realized, I’m still here, too. I made it and despite much adversity, I still have hope that 2018 will be a New Year full of promise.
A year to try again. To make plans, dream dreams, and live life. It is difficult to live “the life you’ve always imagined” you will find naysayers at every turn. It’s too risky, it’s crazy, ridiculous… the list goes on. It is also very easy to slip back into the familiar, the comfortable, the easy. Your old life is constantly knocking on the door trying to find a way back in, but once you have cast it away, it is impossible to live that way again.
If you analyze your past and look at the times you felt the most alive, you will find a good starting point to finding your true self. And though we all have responsibilities, we must on occasion dream about the life we would live if we didn’t have so many; “I musts.” We must not use it as an excuse! Life can be a long and twisted path, but if we don’t make changes we will never grow, never get much further down the road.
I started small. Made little changes. Silly things really and it took several years and the help of the few that believed in me, to make the leap. Yes, it was risky. Yes, I’ve made mistakes and most certainly I still have responsibilities, but as I look toward many new choices that I must make this year, I only know one thing for sure and certain: I am not going back. Not getting on the treadmill to nowhere. People will shake their heads and gossip behind my back. Do I care? Sometimes, but why would I let that stop me from living my life?
I have lost many people over the last few years, in many ways. In retrospect, I have spent most of my years either alone or feeling alone- either by choice or circumstance- and I have learned some important lessons. Ultimately, we all are alone in our journey, but those who walk with us down the path are integral in helping us find the way. Those who decide the road is too treacherous, would have only held us back anyway. I've heard it said that “Some come into our lives as a blessing, some a lesson,” Well I say: A lesson is a blessing. Without them we could not move forward.
Each time we move forward, change routes, recalibrate and start anew, is just as scary as the first time we set out, but for each lesson we receive we bank a little more confidence, a little more faith, clarity and a little more certainty, that we are on our true path.
When I was a child I took part in many family road trips, and like many others, was fascinated to find the moon following our car so closely. So, as the Super Moon rises on a New Year, I will take comfort in knowing that light will always be there to illuminate my path no matter where I go and the lessons I have learned will guide my tentative steps. I may not end up where I have planned to be, but that is okay, because I will end up where I am supposed to be.
Whatever paths you choose, and wherever your life lessons lead you, I wish you a happy, healthy, and prosperous New Year spent in the company of those you love.
Now, won’t you raise a glass with me: for Auld Lang Syne?
Endings are often difficult. As another year comes to a close, I look back on the many I have been through this year alone.
Sometimes they come as part of a plan, an inevitable chain of events. Sometimes they come with no warning and take your breath away. And sometimes, they are welcome after a long arduous path has found a dead end.
Regardless of which form they take, it is always impactful. Sometimes we dread what we know is coming and then by the time the moment arrives it seems almost anticlimactic. Worrying only served to drag out the pain before, and did nothing to shorten the loss after it happens.
Sometimes you cannot possibly be prepared enough and no matter what you try to ease the pain, it does not make a dent in your grief. Even the good endings have their own set of issues: Guilt, regret, apathy…
And there are also the endings that come and are ignored. Life continues on as before and we choose to act as if it does not matter. That somehow if we let it slide, things will magically change the eventual loss. Perhaps, it is only a partial loss or simply a change of status that will never go back to the way it was before. These endings are vague and can almost slide by unnoticed but for the niggling sadness that continues day after day as you wait for the dawning moment of realization.
Experiencing loss effects everyone differently. The holiday to season offers plenty of time for reflection. Memories of family and friends of days gone by. An ornament that reminds us of someone that is gone from our lives. A recipe that transports us to grandma’s kitchen. A tradition that has been passed to a new generation that will become a special memory for them someday when you are gone.
I lost my mother last month, her name was Joy. With the holiday season upon us I am constantly reminded of her in songs, decorations, and movies that proclaim, Joy to all! I am making the effort to make sure my family experiences as much of that joy as possible as they too deal with the loss.
As I look to 2018, I know that I will, as we all do, continue to experience loss, but I also know, that there will be much joy and many new beginnings just around the corner. Hope is the cornerstone of life that keeps us searching, propels us forward. The world is struggling to find its way right now and trouble seems to be on everyone’s doorstep, but we mustn’t lose hope.
With Christmas comes a slow, warm melancholy that allows us to feel sad. As the snow falls softly outside my window I am reminded of the quiet of winter. A candle burns in the window lighting the way home and the twinkling lights on the tree remind me that there is still magic out there, you just have to believe. Well, I still believe.
I wish for you a holiday season filled with Joy and magic and a happy, healthy New Year full of incredible new beginnings.