You do not have to be good You do not have to walk on your knees for a hundred miles through the desert repenting You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves ... (Wild Geese by Mary Oliver)
I cannot help it. This time of the year rubs off on me. Good will and self reflection energy rises up and envelopes me. I find myself joining in the taking stock and making resolutions for the future thing that happens all around. It starts with the giving thanks syndrome during the month of November.
Returning to therapy surely helps to move along the process of looking back and thinking forward. Mind you, I am not so much in the mood to be looking back lately. Although I understand that old stuff gets in the way of present situations, I thought I had cleared all that out, unloaded the heavy load, left it all behind. Come to find out, not so fast, little Lady. Old wounds twitch and prickle when the cold and rains arrive. Ah, how well I remember those. They are playing a familiar tune. Wavering between 60 and 10 years old, moving in and out of it, feeling surprised when I look in the mirror to discover the reality of right here and now. A relief really - to be in the now.
At this stage all I can do is resolve to understand me more and more. Not reload the heaviness of my past on my shoulders or behind my tired eyes. Just use it to reflect on, like a well known picture with old familiar senses, sigh with an aha, and move on with being the 60-year old me I am fast becoming.
A couple of responses to this post ... to share here ... reminding me how fortunate I am to have such constant, wonderfully supportive friends ...
From one ...
My darling friend, you are ALSO able to fly like an eagle or a swallow with your big heart and clever brain, so swoop around! I am going to send you some stuff for the thinking forward bit. I love you both before and after!
And ... from another ...
Lovely thoughts dear friend on returning to therapy. I wanted to validate that you can call anytime and rant in my ear or laugh or cry and I'll be a listener. Time difference is not a concern for me. Anytime!
Now, I need to know where you got the shirt you are wearing in the latest picture on your blog (in my humble opinion, the best photo yet)? You are, by the way, looking younger and younger with your new haircut, continued weight management and loss, and shedding more heaviness from the past. But the shirt is to die for and I want one!!!! I'm probably out of luck because you got it in some exotic place in your travels.
My early morning walk, where for the first two miles I get my "ya-ya's" out and then during the second half I see more clearly, notice birds, sky, and trees, feeling the air on my face, and discovering forgiveness, gratitude and joy in my heart.
Barack and Michelle Obama.
Loving my siblings and mama: for their working so hard to understand and accept me these past seven years or so, and for their hanging in there with me through some painful times.
Our glorious Thanksgiving meal that Tom creates, slowly, surely, with grace and love of really good food.
Music from Gilad's talented soul through piano, or bass guitar, ringing through our home once more, where it has been so silent these past long months without him.
The saved hibiscus that keeps right on blooming day after day since it was saved.
And ... finally ... my good friend, Ilene, who sent me the following list of things to talk about at Thanksgiving for dysfunctional family functions ...
What song brings up the happiest memories for you?
If you were a car, what kind would you be?
If you were given a thousand dollars with the rule that you couldn’t spend it on yourself, what would you do with it?
What was the best day of your life so far?
If you could change places with a celebrity, who would it be and why?
If you could go to a fancy restaurant and price were no object, where would you go and what would you order?
What is the best way to cheer you up when you’re down?
What is the one thing you’ve done in your life that you are proudest of?
What was your favorite childhood game or toy? (For kids – What is it now?)
If you formed a band, what would you name it? What kind of music would you play?
If you had the choice of a day: Would you rather choose a day 10 years ago or a day 10 years from now?
If you could have 1 superpower, what would it be?
If you could live somewhere else for a year, where would you go?
If you knew you were going to spend a year in a science station in Antarctica, what 3 things would you most want to take with you to do when you weren’t working?
What do you think is the secret to staying young at heart?
When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? Do you remember why? (For kids: What do you think you’d like to be and why?)
What bargain would you love to find on eBay or at a garage sale?
What do you really, really hope someone will invent soon?
If someone gave you a gift certificate for a tattoo, what would you get and where would you put it?
Which would you rather be: A famous athlete, a great singer, or an important politician?
Happy days ahead to one and all. I give thanks for all my readers, whoever you are, out there!
Quotes of the day: [thanks to a colleague at work for these]
Thanksgiving Day is a jewel, to set in the hearts of honest men; but be careful that you do not take the day, and leave out the gratitude. ~E.P. Powell
What we're really talking about is a wonderful day set aside on the fourth Thursday of November when no one diets. I mean, why else would they call it Thanksgiving? ~Erma Bombeck, "No One Diets on Thanksgiving," 26 November 1981
Thinking about friends, or as Cheryl and I have started calling us all: "virtual commune members."
All dispersed, dispersing to different ends of the country, and the world, finding our spaces and places for the next stages of our life journeys.
Always supporting, ever loving, sharing the deepest secrets of our souls. All striving, ever searching to find out who and why we are, have become, seeking joy in the moments together or apart. Sharing our families, loving each other's, hoping for one another, cherishing each other, milestones and beliefs, sorrows and happiness, all become ours, parts of our lives together or apart.
Being there. Virtually, in reality, through waves of energy - some say - some feel - some know - some believe. Accepting and believing our stories, being on each other's side.
I wonder, how could I ever have become who I am without my friends?
Then, when it seems we will never smile again, life comes back [quote on a greeting card given to me by my dear friend, Susan at the end of August]
I have decided to start my count down to Thanksgiving earlier this year. I have much to be thankful for, and as the days become shorter and colder, I find myself withdrawing inward to the warmth and depth of a grateful soul. What a year this has been. No doubt about it, I have had the time of my life on so many levels, I hardly know where to begin. As evening falls I begin the contemplation. The first blog post for giving of thanks.
Last year I began by sharing my Christmas cactus plants, which bloom in all their glory always a few weeks prior to Thanksgiving. However, on the eve of beginning this countdown, I am thankful for a new addition to my plant fold. While driving up to the farmers' market today I noticed a large Hibiscus lying by the side of the road waiting forlornly for the garbage truck to arrive any minute to throw it away. Leaves were drooping as the plant lay abandoned in the crisp, cold air. I could have sworn that I heard the small tree crying out to me to save it from its imminent demise, and so I swiftly turned the car around, stopped by the side of the road, and carried the ailing plant into my car. Before heading out to complete the weekend shopping of fresh fruits and vegetables, organic unsweetened soy milk, almonds, and other such goodies, I wandered into the plant store for a large pot and new, fresh potting soil. "I've just saved a gorgeous hibiscus from destruction!" I exclaimed to the store owner as she helped me choose the pot and gather the bags of soil to drag to my car. "Ooh," She replied sadly, "Who would throw out such a plant like that!"
I talked to the old plant as we traveled around the town shopping for this and that. "We'll soon be home," I said soothingly, "and then I will give you a nice warm home and lots of water to drink." I could sense the plant lying in quiet desperation across the back seat of the car. As soon as we arrived home, I unpacked the groceries and ran excitedly into my study to make space for the tree. Ada ran around with me sniffing at the new pot and rubbing against it to make it her own. After placing a few small stones at the bottom for drainage, I gently laid the roots into the welcoming soil, and poured in two full cans of water.
A few hours later, I looked up from the computer and over at the Hibiscus. In a matter of a few hours, its leaves had become strong and shiny, reaching up and out, and one of the buds had raised its head out of its drooping position.
Tonight, as the countdown begins, I am thankful for my new Hibiscus.
This morning, I stumble back into my office, eyes barely opened, carrying my cup of wake-me-up coffee, and when I turn on the light I see that the Hibiscus has thanked me right back: