Category: Friends

Searching For a Miracle and A Dog Named Dug

With all due respect to dogs, I’m totally a cat lady. I love cats. I can’t help it, I feel connected to them. But I also have quite a soft spot for most all animals. Both wise and helpful to their humans, animals are special.

And they’re also somewhat dependent on us. Which is why I kicked into gear for a dog named Dug. Dug, a black Labrador retriever, is our neighbor. We don’t know him, or his human family. But last week, that didn’t matter.

I was just getting ready to leave when I thought a bomb went off in my front yard. BOOM – car alarms blaring – people screaming. I have never heard that sequence of sounds in real life, and didn’t know what was happening beyond noticing a speeding parade of first responders appearing out of nowhere, zooming down my street.

We live inches from Boston’s city line, although inside a woodsy oasis of urban conservation land. It’s still the city, where scary things we try to ignore happen every day. But bombs going off? I was nervous, I couldn’t see beyond our tree-lined property and wondered if the BOOM came from the small private college across the street.

In spite of searching for any breaking news, it took hours before we learned what happened. An 18-wheeler had taken out a car, throwing both its driver and a dog into the road. Although the hit shredded the car, the driver was miraculously ok. The ambulance took her to the hospital, but the dog…where was Dug?

Neighbors, the police, animal rescue – we all searched for a dog we didn’t know, dredging through the muddy woods running alongside the busy road, batting away mosquitoes, removing brush and woodsy debris along the way. But nothing.

Was he injured? Dead? Lost? They said it would be a miracle if he had survived. My heart was breaking.

So I dug deep and tried to conjure up my best psychic abilities. We’ve all got intuition – surely I could locate Dug. I tried, without success, until dusk. So I gave my phone number to the police and neighbors, and tried to let it go. If only I could.

After dinner I stepped outside to shake out my kitchen rug, and that’s when I heard it – barking, loud, big-dog barking coming from the woods behind our house. Sir Husband quickly ran into the woods with our neighbor. The two of them called and called, hoping it was Dug.

As I stood at the edge of the woods trying hard to wait, my cell phone rang.

“We have Dug! He just came home,” said the unknown woman from the accident. “I don’t know how he got here but your search must have somehow directed him home, and he seems just fine. Thank you so much, thank you.”

I’d say maybe that was a miracle.

Everything is connected. Everything.

 

 

 

 

Solitude or Social Life? Only Time Will Tell

A long time ago I loved my daily doses of solitude. By 8 a.m. all three boys were at school, and I reveled in the peace and quiet. Every stay-at-home or work-from-home mom knows that feeling. You can pee with the door open, eat in the living room, put family mayhem aside and do what you want. I don’t minimize the gratitude I have for that time. Solitude in small doses is so sweet.

But life evolves however it’s going to, with or without our input.

I had this big thing in my head when we moved home last summer about reconnecting with people – friends – from my past, as if they would welcome us with open arms and we would pick up where we left off.

But I forgot about one thing – time.

What a big surprise it was when I realized most of my peeps who were in my life here then – people I really cared about – are actually not in my life here now, although they still live in the exact same places. While I took a major road trip through four states and eight houses over 14 years, they just kept living their lives, while I was trying to survive mine.

I always knew I would get back here, and as much as my old stomping ground looks the same, it’s also completely different. Somewhere along the way my kids grew up and I lost my people. Time has a way of changing everything.

So I’m facing a solitude I really wasn’t expecting. And for a gal who thrives on a tightly-knit tribe, it feels a little too quiet. Although I am far from lonely. Being on the other side of extreme hardship, dreams coming true, marital bliss – it’s a wonderful place to be.

And since we’ve finally caught our breath and are savoring the simplicity of normalcy, Sir Husband and I realized we’re missing something important. A meaningful social life. We had some good times through the years, and yea, we miss our good friends.

It’s another adjustment, and while it comes with a range of emotions, adjusting is something I seem to do well. So just like when the kids were little, I am really enjoying the pause. Because I know without a doubt, it’s only a matter of time.

 

It’s Easy To Say Self-Care But Pretty Hard To Do

If there’s one thing to be said about my family, it’s that we are adept in a crisis. I hate to say it, but it’s our strong point. Maybe that’s good, although it comes from a long history of crisis control, which is not a good way to live.

griefWhen a good friend unexpectedly died recently, first the shock of her death overtook us all. My boys jumped right in to support of her son – their close friend – who lost his mom, and I did the same with her whole family. It was natural to us.

Then I realized a few days later, that I “took it on.” I mean seriously took it on – as if she were a member of my own family, or close enough that I needed to participate in a hands-on way. I felt “attached” to it, an automatic internal response to deeply feel the situation as if it were my own. Pretty overwhelming.

Sure I was emotional – it was very upsetting. Back in the day she was one of my closest friends. But we hadn’t seen each other in a while, although was in my heart and recently on my mind. And as sad as I was, she wasn’t my family. I could feel my own sadness without automatically feeling her family’s sadness too.

I thought about her son – who is the same age as my son – and how my son might feel if I had suddenly died. Everyone does that to some degree, we put ourselves in others shoes and our empathy naturally surfaces when we hear about tragedy. But I’m so used to having tragedy in my life, I only knew how to respond as if this was my own crisis. I actually didn’t have to take it on the way I did.

calm-lifeWhen I noticed this for the first time the day before her wake, the message was loud and clear. This is someone else’s tragedy and I could feel it differently. At arms length. I could think about this situation from an outside perspective, and even respond to it that way.

No to mention, I also had my own personal stuff going on that required my attention at the same time. I almost couldn’t deal with the timing of her funeral and my personal needs on the same couple of days. My sons too. They wanted to go, but they had their own priorities that could not be ignored. And they were ok with supporting their friend from afar, that was the best that they could do.

There’s a fine line between self-care and self-sacrifice. It’s a tricky balance that often feels difficult to achieve depending on our life circumstances, and conditioning. Not to mention it takes practice.

I recently read a “doctor’s orders” prescription for self-care:

Rest when you are tired. Do something fun every day. Breathe deeply. Absorb the Divine healing stream. Mother yourself well. And of course – enjoy life. (Because sometimes, as we are quickly reminded, life can be too short.)

The paradox is that while self-care may feel selfish, it’s the only way to care for or help others in their times of need ~ the last and most heartfelt message I will ever have from my friend.

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Spare Me Your Toxicity, I’ll Take Insight and Kindness Instead

This is the little story that caught my eye on social media the morning after Thanksgiving.

Thinking of the young woman walking in a dress and high heels on the cold Thanksgiving day; the young man that had the nerve to leave her at the gas station when she was in the bathroom; all of the people who passed her by; and my brother and niece who picked her up and went way out of their way to take her home.

Wow. Hmmm.

Until the heartfelt kindness shown by someone’s brother, it’s safe to assume there was no Thanksgiving spirit going on for that woman in the dress and high heels. No feasting on good food, family togetherness or reasons to feel gratitude, seems more like pain and cruelty. There are a good amount of people who don’t enjoy a Normal Rockwell family portrait no matter how much they want it or how hard they wish for it, or even pretend they have it.

shoesThere’s always one, or maybe a few, sitting or standing next to you who make you stop and wonder. You are just trying to live your life happily, peacefully, you know – the way you are entitled to by the simple fact you are alive. But like the noxious smell of gasoline, there are some who make you feel sick.

You ask yourself if it’s you. You look in the mirror again and again, maybe even for years, you have tried to understand why some people don’t see how they come across – or more like won’t see. Because to them it’s you, it’s always you not them. You are the problem no matter what.

But you know deep down in your heart of hearts that just isn’t the case. You’ve worked hard, learned, evolved, grown, and you know beyond a shadow of a doubt that they will likely keep living from their own little closed-up space that prevents them from valuable soul-inspired insight.

It takes work – insight – it’s hard and uncomfortable, it’s so much easier to blame instead of waking up and really seeing who we are and what we are putting out there into the world. It becomes a right-wrong thing. You were wrong so I left you at the gas station. No you were wrong to leave me there.

A few minutes after I saw that little story, I heard a news report that statistics show more and more young people are having heart attacks and strokes. They didn’t say it was due to one particular thing because there are so many thingspeople…situations… that create stress. These physical repercussions, including illnesses like cancer, are sometimes referred to as “wake up calls” to living better – more healthily, more clean, less stress, less toxic whatever it is.

Wouldn’t it be nice if the wake up call came before our life was threatened? How do we feel better in spite of things or people who make us feel sick, who have no interest in addressing their own poison?

We’ll never really know what happened with the woman in the dress and high heels. But when you really think about it, truthfully it’s our journey and ours alone. Thank goodness for kind strangers who stop to lend a hand along the way.

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Everybody’s Got A Story, And We Sure Stick To It

Story of my life. Everybody’s got one. Anybody want a do-over? Like hitting stop on a Netflix movie and watching something else? Not so easy to do when it’s the story of our life.

It’s usually built on our past, made of memories, and what perplexes me is why people stick to it like glue. It’s our personal narrative that defines us. But why? Who says we have to live by our story like it’s written in stone? And why are we so invested in it, especially if we don’t like it?

everyones-storyI noticed this about my own life when a few years ago someone whispered in my ear that she was tired of hearing me moan and groan day in and day out. It was like I had my unhappy story on instant replay. I constantly focused on the same miserable theme over and over, no matter what was going on. I had a good reason for it, my friend didn’t deny that, but she told me if I didn’t start to re-think my story I would never feel better about my life.

I got what she was saying, intellectually. It’s the whole change your thoughts, change your life thing. But that’s huge. I mean how do you even do that? First of all most of us don’t even recognize it – we’re just living our life, doing the best we can. When she pointed it out to me I was a little defensive. It felt natural to just be me – however I was being.

never-too-lateNot to mention, it seemed impossible to just let go of my history, let go of the unhappy happenings and the situations that were part of my day-in and day-out existence. Was I just supposed to pretend that things were not as they seemed or appeared or felt, or in all actuality, were?

Well…yes. I don’t know if it’s habit or simply human nature to be invested in our story. We live it, sometimes in such a deep rhythm we actually get lost in it. Then we become a magnet for like-minded storytellers. And if it’s a sad story, we get caught up in that particular vortex. After all, misery loves company.

let-goI knew my friend was right, but I realized after losing most of my happy tribe from my drama and doom I knew I would have to change my thinking and as hard as it felt, invest in joy instead. I had to not only want it, but be willing to give up my story. It was definitely a major task.

I saw on the Today Show that genes determine 50 percent of our happiness and circumstances account for 10 percent, which leaves 40 percent up to us. Whether that’s true or not, what it comes down to is how badly we want to feel better. What we’re willing to give up in order to make gain. Whether we will opt to work with our situation as it is, not the way we wish it was.

Whether feeling joy is worth letting go of the pain.

No need to overthink it. It is.

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Click here for some facts and tips on how to feel the joy.

 

A Name Is Worth A Thousand Words, A Friend Is Worth Forever

When the nurse called my name to take me back into surgical waiting for a minor procedure, my heart skipped a beat. “Dorothea” she said, looking directly at me since no one else was in the waiting room. “You mean Deborah?” I said. “Oh yes, Deborah. Sorry I thought it said Dorothea.”

That normally would have meant nothing – mispronouncing my name. But it mattered then, because my friend Dorothea just died — and her wake was that exact evening. Clear out of the blue, boom, dead just a few days earlier. And the nurse called out her name.

angel-starsIf that doesn’t make you believe in angels, or some sort of cosmic Divine, not sure what would. I could tell you about my bathroom light flickering like crazy although the bulb wasn’t burned out just as she was crossing realms and I didn’t know it. Or how I heard her voice talk to me as if she were right there next to me. Maybe she was.

I was sitting at a stop light adjacent to my son’s preschool, where he went 20 years ago, and could hear the wee ones playing on the playground, just like it sounded back then. It was an Indian Summer day, sun shining, the leaves on the tree-lined street turning shades of beautiful autumn. I closed my eyes and let the breeze drift through the car window as I waited, listened, and remembered.

“I’m ok Debbie. I’m ok” she said.

friends-for-reasonThat’s where I met my friend Dorothea – Dottie. We were young moms, similar in age, our boys were in the same preschool class. They became fast friends, and so did we. We spent the next decade as BFFs, just like our kids, and even our husbands.

When I opened my Facebook last week to quickly check messages there was the post by her son, only minutes old at the top of my feed. I burst into tears. It was visceral, I didn’t even know where it came from. I fell out of touch with her a few years ago, not by choice, sometimes life just gets so crazy. She was now divorced, I was now remarried, our boys are all grown up.

But I was excited to see her again – when we recently moved back home we were going to reconnect. Not anymore, I didn’t get the chance to say hello…or goodbye. This circle of life thing is something. But it is what it is. And life is life, in all of it’s joy, sorrow and baffling unpredictability.

true-friendsI wasn’t sure what to do with it. I have never experienced the death of a friend. Loss of friends, sure, but as cliche as this sounds, with life there is hope. Although I hate cliches, especially when there is some kind of tragedy. Like there is nothing but the present moment. We all know this, intellectually we all know tomorrow is only a promise (another one,) but let’s be honest. Who really lives like that?

They’re not really sure what happened, and I will never know. I just knew my old friend who had a big smile and an infectious laugh. Someone who loved her son more than life itself. Someone who was there with me for a lot of years, in all of our unrefined glory.

Anyway, peace to you dear friend. And as they say, life goes on.

 

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Stockpiling Starbucks Before A Storm Is Definitely Self-Care

img_3018Remember Hurricane Matthew a couple of weeks ago? It pummeled a heck of a lot. Storms can be so scary. But even when classified ahead of time as potentially historic events, they’re easy to downplay in spite of the build up and hype, because they usually come clear out of the blue. Literally sunny, gorgeous blue-sky weather turns ugly on a dime. You know it’s coming from the high-tech radar, the spot-on predictions and the images of the areas it’s hit on its path headed toward you, but it’s hard to appreciate because of the calm before the storm.

We were fortunate this one didn’t make it to our northeast coast, we are usually a storm hub. But even if it did, some of us are a little lax when it comes to pre-storm prep. I’m always perplexed at what we might need. Batteries, check. Bottled water, check. Peanut butter and bread, check. I’m not good at disaster planning, so I tend to draw a blank when I have to consider what life might look like in the wake of a violent storm. My brain just freezes up. Then as the storm approaches, I close my eyes and hope for the best.

Not my friend L though – she’s a seasoned survivor of sorts, a hearty lifelong New Englander, and high-level nurse who is used to major catastrophes. Not only has she seen a lot in her life, she’s endured a lot. So when Category 4 Matthew was predicted to hit her new Carolina coastal home where she recently moved, she didn’t bat an eye.

img_3164As the pre-storm prep began around her and people were not only rushing out to get their supplies, but evacuating for safe ground, she sat at Starbucks sipping her latte watching the hectic craze. Her husband calmly got the generator ready, stocked up on food for the dogs and secured the last jar of peanut butter on the grocery store shelf. L wasn’t worried.

Until Starbucks put a sign on the door – Closing early Friday for three days due to Hurricane Matthew.

This simply would not due. Recovering from a serious health issue, L sits in Starbucks every afternoon enjoying some quiet time. It’s her healing respite place, where for an hour she gets lost in peaceful relief. It’s her safe self-care spot.

Self-care is a big deal – and not something many of us take too seriously unless there’s an incoming storm. L only recently learned about self-care since she’s spent her life caring for others. Now it’s her turn – not even by choice, but by necessity – and it’s a new concept for her. It’s hard to shift gears, and takes practice, time and daily commitment. How could she tend to herself if Starbucks was going to be closed?

sbSo she stocked up on three days worth of her specialty drink – her preparation for the storm. Whatever it takes she thought – a hurricane is an invasion on her healing time.

That’s my life story – invasions on my healing time. When I finally opt in for self-care, it’s often usurped by someone or something that in that moment appears more pressing. It seems when we need to rest or recover, unless our issues are visible or in plain sight, it’s hard for people to comprehend.

Although she wasn’t particularly safe batten-down in her home, L made it through without any repercussions. She texted me in the thick of it, a cup of cold Starbucks by her side. “This is horrible. Next time I’m heading out if it’s higher than Category 1.”

Self-care…in the eye of the storm.

 

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You Don’t Like Me Being Myself? That’s A Shame, I Am Who I Am

Is it just me, or is anyone else noticing that people around them are quick to defend their thinking, quantify their judgements, and sometimes even shut another person down. I don’t know if it’s the political season that has people all stirred up, an overall shift in society that culturalists will eventually sort out, or if it’s simply about myself.

I’ve noticed this for a while now, and it came to a head for me when the other day I ran into a former BFF. I say former because many years ago, eight to be exact, she “broke up” with me. I was in the thick of my earlier life’s drama, and honestly it was bad. So although it was heartbreaking at the time I did the grown-up thing and accepted it.

hemingway-quoteShe wasn’t the only one, over the course of the next few years I lost almost all of my best-friend tribe. On the fringes of understanding it, I tried to sort it out. My life was a disaster, so I was who I was at the time.

Although a few things nudged at me about how I came across, the bottom line was I was dumped essentially for being me. Looking back through my life though, I hate to admit it was a common theme, sometimes even I found it tough to be around me.

So the other day I accidentally ran into my old “friend,” and she was fairly shocked. She knew I had moved away, but didn’t know I recently moved back. It was a strained conversation but pleasant enough, more than I thought it would be. So I casually asked her if she might want to get coffee or lunch and this was her reply ~

“Hmmm. Let me think about it.”

prove-worthOoooh. Ouch. That’s how I took it anyway, because it’s been a lot of years. Life has a way of changing people for the better or the worse. In my case I know I’m different and better – evolved and grown – in fact I may have totally changed. I told her that in not so many words but apparently it wasn’t enough.

I got this sick feeling in my gut which was a telltale sign. I have let all my old baggage go, but it was clear that she has not.

But it’s not just her response that is on my mind, it is in several places I turn. What is it that people don’t like about someone just being themselves? It must challenge comfort levels, something I know I do.

no-one-is-youI just love how honest and raw you are, not trying to be anything but yourself, a friend recently said to me. Her words meant so much, they were the acceptance of who I am.

That seems rare these days as she also pointed out – It’s so refreshing in a universe where everyone is addicted to the theater of social media.

Is that what is perpetuating the prevalent “I am right and you are wrong” rigid, uncaring attitude?

Hmmm.

Let me think about it.

 

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Feeling Rejected? Mourn It And Move On

identityHere’s where bloggers can get into trouble. People see a post that although is anonymous, they know is about them, or they think it is, and they back off from interacting with us – even if the post was all good. Not because they are angry – or maybe they are – but because they are afraid. Like how a lot of people are afraid to speak to the media. There’s something intimidating about it I guess. When other people take you into their hands, especially public hands, all of a sudden you’ve lost control – of your persona, your self-image, your perceptions, maybe even your identity.

I’m not shy about sharing my blog, that’s what most bloggers do. We write and want people to read it and feel something, relate, discover, even feel validated. We don’t want them to turn away.

suck-it-upWhen I moved home after 14 years gone I had hope, not even expectations, but hope of renewing lost friendships from all those years ago. My memories – the few I do have in spite of situational amnesia – are good. So I thought that maybe for some of my old tribe, their memories would be good too. But now I’m not getting that vibe. It’s not that they are shunning me, but some are brushing me off without batting an eye – which feels hard when I extended a kind hand built on a cherished past. They simply aren’t responding to my gestures. Way to burst my bubble people.

As we know, life is not a fairy tale. We just want it to be. Of course I wanted some big happy reunion, and why not?

sometimes-only-paper-will-listen-to-youSo when we get the blow off, or the polite ‘thanks but no thanks,’ we start to wonder what’s wrong with us. What did I say or do that makes them not want to be friends again? I know I have a lot of baggage but I literally left it at the door – my other door – the one I moved away from. I never put it on the moving truck because I didn’t want it anymore. Don’t they know that? Can’t they tell? Or is the brush off not even about me?

I’ve always been an outsider. Picked last in gym class, bullied, made fun of, betrayed – that’s a big one. Betrayal leaves damaging scars that are very hard to ignore. So it’s hard to assimilate being ditched. We can tell ourselves it’s not us it’s them, or we can try to accept and let it go. If I am going to raise my vibration like saints or Jesus or da Buddha – rise above that level of fear-based living and into a higher space of love – then I have to say ok, briefly mourn it and move on.

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My new thing, that I say to myself of course, is “So be it, I tried. I wish you goodness, see you in the afterlife.” Yes I believe in an afterlife, and it’s comforting to think that in that “place” everybody loves everybody and it’s nothing but happiness and joy.

That’s the bottom line really – happiness and joy – that’s all we want. So I’ll keep extending it outward, even if it’s rejected. What else can I do. Well…I can blog about it.

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Pleasant Days Are Ahead In Spite Of What We’ve Lived

 

lets be fairiesI’m ready to write about sunny days – this summer we had so many. But when it rains it rains hard. As I drove my youngest to school yesterday in the remnant downpours of the weekend’s hurricane, he sobbed. It’s not comfortable to watch your young-adult teenager cry like a baby. Nor is it the same as when he was a baby because consoling him doesn’t work as well. Or in my case, at all. No matter what I have done (or not done because sometimes we need to back off from our teens,) he has been resistant to our recent move, starting a new school as a junior, and our supporting him through this transition. I get it, I really do.

fineHe’s gone through way too much for his tender young age. It’s heartbreaking on every level. I haven’t done so well myself – sometimes it’s impossible to wrap my brain around our former years of trauma, even as an adult. And my body still reminds me via physical pain every single day.

So I dropped him off then drove home shedding my own tears. This isn’t something I can just “fix,” which is awfully hard. When we can’t fix our child’s upset, what can we do?

hilltopI reached out to his guidance counselors, we are fortunate he actually has two. Both are skilled veterans who know their game, my son is quite lucky to have this built-in support. Because as I tried to cope with his upset, I struggled with nowhere to turn. I can’t go to the guidance office…or keep moaning in my blog…or to friends. After all, I’m grown up, I have to deal with it. I knew that going into this role.

So I scroll through social media, hoping for relief, and instead see all the parents who posted their smiling kids happy on the first day of school. That’s hard – I don’t have that picture to share. I spent most of the day watching the rain out the window, feeling quite a bit of despair.

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But somewhere between dropping him off and afternoon pick up, a miracle must have occurred. He was like a different kid. Oh sure he said school was terrible, but then proceeded to tell me ok things about his day. He wasn’t shut down or miserable, he talked the whole way home. This may be the first time he’s done this in months, or possibly even years.

I noticed the sun had just come out, it was shining through rain clouds. What a difference a day makes, or even a few hours. It’s amazing when there’s a ray of light. He did it…I can too.

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