Cycles and Stories

This story brought to you courtesy the idiot hunter-gatherer’s who wanted to know when herds would be migrating or the Shamans who either lusted for power and wanted to appear to predict when certain events would occur or truly just wanted to better understand the universe and use said knowledge to help their fellow man

Whatever the case, someone, somewhere, invented the calendar and it’s all been downhill since…

Sometimes,  the natural cycles of the Universal rotation and our forefathers’  ingenious ways of keeping us organized and controlled (clocks and calendars…and expectations of punctuality) converge to ensure I not only have a crappy day – but that I also spend all day arguing with myself about why or why not to obsess over the obvious patterns and  what those patterns may or may not mean…

About 2 weeks ago, I was going along, minding my own business, looking forward to the conference I had received a scholarship to – said conference was on Friday, May 23rd –

A week prior to the conference, something kept nagging at me – a little niggle I was forgetting something – –

I checked my Desk Calendar, my purse organizer and email calendars –

(yes, I took the Franklin Covey course and learned the 1st rule of keeping only one calendar – it didn’t stick)

As the week progressed, the quiet whisper became louder by increments, until it was nearly shouting at me that I was, in fact, forgetting something – and it just had to be huge – I rechecked my accounting software and bill pay – logged in to make sure all the websites I host are duly backed-up and no domains are due for renewal…

Everything is as it should be….

But the voice was not satisfied – next, I frantically cleaned my desk and read every sticky note there, checked the ones stuck to the wall behind my monitor and even went so far as to check my trash can, for the elusive neon orange note that would tell me what else I had scheduled for Friday, May 23rd that I had somehow forgotten – –

No luck.

Being the crazed woman I am, I called all the friends and neighbors I do chores for when they’re off having fun and I’m stuck home because of work and/or am too broke to go on vacation – – Brought them along my path of insanity while I grilled them,

“You’re sure you didn’t need me on Friday?   Maybe you thought you’d be gone Friday, but then changed your schedule and forgot to tell me?”

No, No, they assure me – you’re fine – you haven’t forgotten anything…

In desperation, I begged the Universe for help in remembering what I had forgotten that I’m supposed to do on May 23rd  –

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My inner-historian –

who looks rather like the stereotypical librarian of 1940’s fame, complete with tweed skirt, constrictive jacket, wire-rimmed glasses over pointy nose and thin, gray hair tied so tightly up in a bun, the bags under her eyes become wrinkles at the side of her eyebrows – – (No, she is not sexy librarian of pop-culture fame) –

came to my rescue.

“Shh!  Quit fussing and making noise.   You didn’t forget anything – Morgan graduates on the 23rd.  You have to be done at the job you gave notice at in February by Friday morning, at the latest – you just need to be firm and let them know you’ve stretched your month’s notice way, way too far.”

Gulp – she’s right – I hurriedly bring up my computer calendar and scroll back to May 23rd 2008 – sure enough, it was a Friday…

And suddenly, healing and time go by the wayside and here I sit- reliving May, six years ago –

Friday – 23rd – he graduates and is home by midnight though I stretched his curfew to 2am,  because he’s tired and stuffy from allergies – I tell him how proud I am of him graduating when I know he really just wanted to be done, two years ago! with the institution he believed, “brainwashes you into loving cubicle 9-5 world” –

Friday the 30th, when we went to the doctor because seasonal allergies seemed to have morphed into a cold, virus or sinus infection…

And Saturday the 31st, when his fever broke and he was feeling better…

Sunday, the 1st, when he was once again so miserable and fighting me about going to the ER…

Monday, the 2nd, when he came home from the doctors, pain free after getting a shot and ready to rest, as the doctor said he should – laid down and quit breathing 2 short hours later – – The sirens, the wild ambulance ride – the quarantined ICU room – with friends and family decked out in blue near-hazmat suits, because no one knows what, exactly, is going on –

Which brings us to Tuesday, June 3rd – when the specialists still know nothing about the why, only that he will never be off life support or breathe on his own again…

The calendar, one of man’s greatest inventions, has become my enemy this year –

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Why do I tell you this?   To remind myself and you that as we heal there are still lurking neurons and cellular memories that remind us we’re forgetting – – or burying — or there’s something left to be brought to the light and healed – –

It really is dealer’s choice – – it’s your inner world and you can durn well tell whatever story you wish about it!

To point out we can feel appalled to find we are starting to forget – to acknowledge the quiet whisper that says forgetting diminishes our loved one – a review of the the fine line between remembering without pain, forgetting through repression and revisiting memories because we finally can do so without disintegrating –

– the moments that come along in bits and pieces when we are surprised by the little imp of memory/grief that  jumps from hiding in the bushes and bites us soundly in the arse –

I tell you because I’ve spent days thinking about how a silly alignment of the calendar days/dates – that will undoubtedly occur again and again in the future – set me down the path of making up stories that are on par with those concocted by the Pyramidiots – stories that try to make sense of just why my inner world was so insistent I pay attention to the exact eeriness of this year’s calendar – stories made up to explain, understand, give higher meaning to events or just comfort myself -all swirling around my inner sanctum:

“Hmm – interesting – – My sons were born 8 years and 3 days apart – Nathan will graduate 8 years after Morgan died – that must, simply must, mean something – why is there never a numerologist around when you need one?”

“My back hurts – is it because I’m trying to hold on to memories I should let go, or is the heat lamp therapy tearing down brick-by-brick the huge walls I’ve built in my system?   Am I unwinding the ball of ill health or simply adding more imbalance to that which already exists?”

“Think I’ll map out how many more times I’ll endure Friday May 23rd  – 3 times?  6?   If I eat healthy, exercise, meditate and journal, will it make those years easier to handle or just ensure I must travel through more of these cycles?   Wouldn’t it make more sense to sit on my couch watching reality TV while eating Cheetos, guzzling beer and chain-smoking?  Why keep the torture alive for decades on end?”

“Which is better?  A. Map out every year May 23rd falls on a Friday – so I can be prepared and take reasonable preventative action or B. Try to forget that May 23rd means anything – surely after all the tapping, journaling, meditation I’ve done, I should be able to think of this without going loopy – what’s wrong with me?”

“Nothing – you just haven’t completely healed yet – quit fighting it and hang on – soon, it will be July and it will all be better – you know you always have an awesome July!”

“If Morgan were here, he’d tell you Drama class is over – – “

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Did I ever tell you the first 3 years after he died I had to look at the calendar to remember if he died on the 3rd or the 4th?   Because he was ill, because I couldn’t or wouldn’t sleep, at home or in the hospital – because I took a nap during the day to avoid all the friends and family I didn’t have answers for and stayed awake at night when there was no one who needed me to make a decision or give them comfort – I lost track of the days – – I tasked others with reminding when I had to be somewhere –

Maybe this year’s angst is all payback for shunning the gift of forgetting that Mother Nature gave me at the time – did I bless her and thank her?

Nope, I dutifully double-checked the calendar in subsequent years to see what date Tuesday fell on that spring – until finally, June 3rd was burned on my brain and I was no longer being gently (or irritatingly) corrected by family members because I mis-remembered what date it was…those who couldn’t stand the pain of me asking, “Was it the 3rd or 4th?  What date was that Tuesday?”

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There are stories and games we play with ourselves as we navigate the world – some are inherited – some we make up –

Some serve us – Some confound us – Some merely keep us entertained until such time as we create a new one –

Life may be hard at times and fragile at others, but always, we have the gift of stories to navigate whatever comes our way.

 

 

 

Catching 400

After my little Housecleaning venture, I realized what a fool I’d been – Though I follow many, I do have favorites and it occurred to me that it’s very simple to go to my “Blogs I follow” list, clicky-click and work my way back through those I love and hold dear – –

Meaning, some of you have already had to log in and see umpteen Likes/Comments waiting approval from TamrahJo – I imagine a scene of sighing and eye-rolling, “Why can’t she just keep caught up?” you exclaim in frustration!   My bad, yet you all are so talented, you trigger memories, quotes and such that I, in my childlike state, simply must share about!

This is a blanket apology, I guess…. If you haven’t logged in to find me cluttering up your notifications box yet, count your lucky stars and know your day is coming – – 🙂

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I started sweating what to blog about earlier last week, when I found life quiet enough to once again take frequent sojourns here in WordPress land and discovered I was nearing my 400th post mark – – for those of you who are frequent posters, you are free to laugh  – – for those just starting, truly, it’s no big deal since this coming August, I’ll have been blogging for 4 years – – or, more accurately, I’ve had a WordPress account for 4 years – – which breaks down to less than 10 posts per month and is by no means anything to brag about – since I quite frequently do 60 posts on one day and go deep undercover for months at a time – –

Here’s the Highlights:

Apparently, if I ever want to take blogging seriously and establish a niche, I really should limit myself to reviews and How-to’s as they are my most consistently popular posts – I”ve decided against taking this seriously because reviews and how-to’s require remembering to take pictures before/after – hours spent in Photoshop labeling parts and different stages of construction step-by-step lists and really, just what could I say I was an expert in, given my God-given nature of flitting from one brilliant idea to another with no time spent learning the fine art of mastery on any of them….

Since first starting my blog here I’ve moved from writing about self-help/healing and social/political causes to nattering on about all the different perspectives, observations and silly nonsense that is catching my attention this week, day, nanosecond.   A friend once laughingly said to me:

“You know, in various circumstances, it’s appropriate to say, “That’s so last year” or “So last season” – For you, you’re safe in saying, “That’s so one minute ago”

Since BallyBin’s inception, I’ve moved 4 times (only once due to my own planning and volition) navigated a divorce and recovered from a stroke.    I’ve gone from a workaholic to someone who celebrates when I can work 4 hours at a time without needing to rest.    I’ve shared the heartbreak and distress over the loss of my son/dad which precipitated the 7 years of massive changes and challenges (I started blogging mid-way in the journey).

I’ve spent countless hours in front of my computer, discovering other bloggers and chatting at all hours of the night because I wasn’t well enough to work or confident enough with my stroke Elmer Fudd voice to socialize in person – those of you who were my only social contact during this time kindly refrained from pointing out all the typos my right hand made during my stroke recovery process, offered your support and ideas when I struggled with an obstacle and made me feel not so alone and despairing as I watched many of you deal with your own struggles and come up with some really awesome solutions –

Over the past 4 years and 400 posts, I’ve made friends in countries I didn’t even know existed – I’ve learned to be very grateful for where I live and to understand even more fully the strength of the human spirit –

I’ve virtually visited and seen sights I may never get to in person, through your talent with a camera and willingness to share.

I’ve learned that my story, as rocky and unsophisticated/un-enlightened as it is, seems to hold value for some – that what I get excited about is a shared passion by others and reminds me there are always, always some birds to flock with when you’re feeling alone and out of sync with the rest of the world.

So I guess, instead of attempting to write some in-depth analysis of our current economic system, or plumb the depths of the human soul, or tell you once again about building a Garden of Eden in my backyard, I’ll simply make my 400th post about you –

Thank you from the bottom of my heart – I may have made it to this point intact, anyways, but not as inspired, comforted and joyful as I did by being allowed to share in your journey.

Happy 400th to all of us.

Housecleaning

I missed spring cleaning this year due to furiously whipping out websites for launch – I’m now into summer activities that result in lots of dirt, mulch and other wonderful things being carried thoughtfully into my domicile by both the dog and me.

Dishes are rinsed and stacked in the sink until 3 meals have passed, at which time, I must do them in order to serve the next meal.

(Ain’t I clever?  I have just 6 of each: plates, glasses, bowls, saucers, cups – my own way of controlling how messy my kitchen counter gets… Only problem with this is it limits how many people you can invite over for a dinner party…)

But this morning, another kind of housecleaning is on my mind – I’ve been down and cranky lately – tis the time of year for anniversaries I’d rather forget and I’m trying to cut myself some slack over the whole deal, but once again, I find myself trying to grind out the season from mid-May to mid-June.

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As I scrolled through my WordPress reader this a.m., I realized that my reader reflects my journey these past few years – in it I find the bloggers who chatted with me when I was recovering from my stroke and didn’t have much in-person social interaction –

There are those in the community who have also survived the loss of a child and I watch as both they and I overcome stumbling blocks to our healing.

A good handful of energy healers, astrologers, comedians & philosophers for when life hurts so bad you must simply immerse yourself in works that promise there is hope, Saturn will quit retro-grading at some point and you have the power to make it all better – and if you don’t know how right now, they’ll at least tell you a joke, share a quote or warm your heart with a story.

Sprinkled throughout are those creative artists and photographers who sometimes grace their artwork with snippets of poetry – a quick journey to the world of beauty and a reminder that I really ought to ‘point and shoot’ my camera more carefully –

The published, self-published and getting-ready to publish writers who share their tips, tricks and challenges so the rest of us don’t have to reinvent the wheel, should we ever decide to write for a living.  From these folks I also learn about new software and technical how-to.

When I’m feeling snarky about things I don’t like, I have a whole cadre of folks who keep me informed about why the economy is like it is, what social justice arguments are taking place in their neck of the woods and how to survive a zombie apocalypse or build my own fortress should I ever take the next step in becoming a hermit…

Right next to them are the folks who know how to grow their own food and how to turn some barren, sandy soil into a work of art with a shovel, some garden soil and xeriscape plants.  They show me how beautiful I can make my recycled tires with just some power tools and paint as well as a 1001 uses for discarded wood pallets and plastic 2 liter bottles.

My reader is actually my life story – it’s a tale of where I’ve been and what interested me at the time – it’s a indicator of how I’m doing today (jokes, inspiration and gardening ideas, please, I’m too depressed to save the world or care what a government across the sea is doing, at least for today – – )

And it’s a story of letting go, too.

I noticed this morning that subjects I used to follow avidly, I now skip over – that conversations that used to amuse me no longer do and some grass-root movements no longer seem as viable as they once did.

So I did some housecleaning on my follow list – and sat here pondering how much I’ve changed these past few years – which was rather cheering, since I awoke to pain and longing for my son this morning and railed against the fact that I still take a nose-dive every year around this time.

Once again, the WordPress community is owed my thanks – whether we journeyed together via the reader for a short or long while, you did make a difference for me.

Thank You.

 

 

Another Hurdle Jumped…

Occasionally I share when I’ve gotten past a challenge that appeared in the wake of grief and/or stroke.   I think it’s important for those of us who have walked down the road to yell encouragement to those behind us  –

So I must share with you two personal challenges I dealt with this past week.

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I don’t do funerals unless it’s my responsibility to send the loved one off in style – I never really have, unless I intimately know the deceased’s family/friends.  Why?  Well, because I’ve always chosen to grieve in my own way and to me, showing up to the funeral is a way to show support to those left behind and let them know how well loved their special person was, rather than a part of my personal grieving process.

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I’ll share my warts and intolerances now- it really chaps my bum for speakers at a funeral to be so torn up they can’t get through their portion of the services without loud outbursts and incoherent sobbing….

I know, I know – I’m a HardArse – but really – we only have one chance to do a funeral right, and over the years, the funerals I regretted attending the most were the ones who paraded a litany of ‘speakers’ past the podium who could barely squeak out two coherent words – To me, this does not honor the one that’s gone – My Own Opinion and you’re welcome to disagree with it if you want.

I commented on this once and a family member informed me that it’s “healing for others to experience the raw grief” – Maybe so, but for me, Raw Grief is dealt with in the privacy of one’s own home or in the loving circle of supportive friends- when you’re publicly honoring your loved one, you’d best have your act together or hire someone who does.

The family will remember the funeral – they may have videotaped it – this is not Comedy Central or Reality TV – it is their reminder of how they said goodbye to their loved one – it is not the time or place for Amateur Night

Okay – I’m done ranting – – Back to the original story….

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After my period of losses in a short time frame happened, I was even LESS enthused about funerals.   There were ones where I genuinely wanted to love & support the family – but I chose to do so through cooking, cash gifts and behind the scenes help.  When asked, I wholeheartedly offered whatever I could, but begged for understanding that I just couldn’t attend the actual services…just not yet…

Funerals triggered too many unhealed portions of my soul….

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Since my stroke drastically affected my speech pattern, AND since I still descend into Elmer Fuddism (yes, it’s a word, look it up) when overtired, ill or stressed, I have not done any public speaking since October of 2011.

Before my Chatty-Kathy ways were hobbled by Elmer Fudd, I eagerly offered to present training sessions, low/no cost classes and spoke at a variety of work and volunteer functions.  I like public speaking – I once had the dream of earning my living that way.   But when the stroke affected my speech, I dutifully put that all behind me and looked forward to a future that did not include me speaking in front of crowds.

I mourned the loss of this part of myself – stuffed those dreams into the memory box of my soul and moved on.

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This past week, a friend of the family’s passed away – – at a young age- – – leaving behind three children.

This friend and his family have been there for me and mine in countless ways over the years, especially when my dad and son died, as well as when the rest of my world fell apart.

I hurried over as soon as I found out to see how I could serve.

The family asked if I would share the memories folks have of their loved one at the funeral, for those who couldn’t be there and those too torn up by grief or too introverted to do so themselves.

GULP – –

 I said, “Yes – whatever you need – I’m here.”

But I came home and wondered if I should have said no…

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When I was 9 or so, I was awakened in the middle of the night by my Dad’s voice.   I crept out to the kitchen to see what was going on, as my Dad was leaving the next day for a distant state to perform the Masonic Funeral services for a Brother who had passed.  He was often called upon to do this and I’d never really given any thought to why he was asked, or why he did so.

When I tiptoed in and asked who he was talking to, he told me he was practicing for the next day.

I wanted to know why and I’ve never forgotten what he told me:

“Sis, a funeral is the number one place where you can have the best intentions and motivations but still manage to put your foot in your mouth and wound those who are already hurt.  If you’re to speak, it’s best to practice before you do so.”

After my own adult experiences with what folks say and do when trying to help you after the loss of a loved one, I know that not only was his observation correct, but a whole lot of people in this world didn’t have a Dad who shared this valuable information with them.

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So this week, I attended a funeral for the first time in 5 years and made it out in pretty good shape.

For the first time in 2 1/2 years, I spoke before a large audience – no one thought me the village idiot and more importantly, I managed to do my part in a way that that was satisfactory to the family and other members of the community.

I personally think I escaped Elmer Fuddism, because I Ordered the Universe to make it all turn out right.

Ordering the Universe around is a dangerous thing, and I suggest you only do so when the stakes are high and in service to others – otherwise, it often backfires…

The Universe is kind enough to immediately respond when I deem something High Priority – I’ve always been grateful for that.

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In reflecting upon this past week, I realized I had to tell you –

No matter what wounds you carry or what disabilities you’ve encountered – there is always a way to be the person you wish to be.  It may take awhile or some ingenuity, but I believe it can always happen.

I may not know first-hand what you’re dealing with…

It may happen sooner or later than the 5 years it took me…

But if You Desire to do what you’ve deemed as Important, I have no doubt you’ll find the way –

Grace descends and blesses you when there’s work to be done and you know, in your heart, it’s your job to take care of.

Keep the Faith and Never Give Up Hope.

And What do You Think?

I’m buried in finishing Inheritances.   The 12 or more hour long writing days may be getting to me.

The “print button” for beta reader benefit has not been yet pushed as I re-read the entire manuscript and realize things I thought I had included, I had actually written on my blog or in my journal – and had not included in the ever-growing manuscript.

As ever more information is being added, I’m starting to have niggles of self-doubt –

For you see, the original manuscript contained short journal entries, to set the stage for the sharing of what I’ve discovered during my journey of grieving.    As I add items, I’m finding it necessary to include some of the longer journal entries, to adequately portray my perspective at the time, or the coping choices I was making, in order for the following text to have any, well, context.

My niggling of doubt inner critic is going something like this:

“Who would want to read this?   People are looking for options and answers, not just another sob story.”

And so, I ask you, dear WordPress Community, what do you prefer?   Do you like knowing what’s really going on behind the scenes, or would you rather just hear about the lessons learned and the gifts received without the personal stories these realizations were borne in?

Thanks for any/all suggestions, opinions and “Stop procrastinating and finish the damn thing, already” comments, in advance!

😀