Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Self Acceptance

A certain amount of life-review is going on with me. Suppose it is the culmination of the events of the past three years and my recent near death debacle. When I think about when I was most happy over the last decade, it was when Steve and I bought our house and, days later, married. I felt settled, content and satisfied that my life had come to this. My parents liked my husband -- a new experience for me! Husband number one - nope. Wife number one - definitely nope.

Finally, here I was with a spouse that I could take to my parents' home; we socialized together, drank martinis and became silly together.  And Steve adored my mother.  I loved my new home and the lovely park like lot it sat on.  I had a hammock out front -- my "Happy Place," I called it.

When Steve's Parkinson's became worse, it was clear that we needed to move to a place where he could be cared for as his disease progressed.  We sold our much loved house only a few years after we moved in.  It was the move from hell.  Steve was no help at all, and that was only partially due to PD.  I carried the load on this one.  And it pissed me off.  Then I felt guilty for my anger towards him.  After all, he was ill.  

The next couple of years were a blur for many reasons, both his and mine.  I think about what I could have done differently and feel bad about the times I did not rise to the occasion.

I carry 'guilt' not only for those times, but previous relationships as well.  I am hard on myself.  I am working on this.  This quote came across my Facebook feed today and really spoke to me.

From Buddhist teacher Jack Kornfield. "A quality of mature spirituality is self-acceptance, rather than guilt, blame, or shame for the ignorant acts we've committed or the fears that still remain within us. It understands that inner opening requires the warm sun of loving-kindness. In deep self-acceptance grows a compassionate understanding. We are asked to touch with mercy the parts of ourself that we have denied, cut off, or isolated. Mature spirituality is a reflection of our deep gratitude and capacity for forgiveness.

Excerpt: "Bringing Home the Dharma: Awakening Right Where You Are"

My stumblings were born out of my ignorance, or out of my human shortcomings. I endeavor to pluck the memories of good deeds and good things that have also (abundantly) populated my life. It is a never ending exercise.

Monday, August 15, 2022

Moving Along

Well, hallelujah, it's only 71 degrees outside this morning.  We have been enduring hellish heat this summer, breaking records.  The air feels marvelous.

In two weeks I'm hosting a concert in our clubhouse, and the air conditioning is not working.  Given that we live in an HOA and have to run decisions by many people, and get bids from three contractors, it is not likely it will be fixed by the concert date.  Either the day will be mild and we'll meet inside, or it won't, in which case we'll find a shady spot under the trees.  I'm counseling myself to live gracefully with the uncertainty. Our musical guests are a folk duo who tour frequently and perform at house concerts.  Since my condo is not big enough, I'm using the community clubhouse (or not).  Bob and Judi live in California, and I used to perform with Bob back in the day.

We met at an open mic, and along with another fellow, formed a trio. It was the first time I made a serious effort at practicing my singing and songwriting.  I was a marginally good guitar player, but Bob and Chris made up for it with their instrumental skills.  Back then I thought I would make a career out of music, but I lost my mojo and I truly don't remember why or exactly when the three of us went our separate ways.  It's hard work, being a musician/singer, and if you don't have that fire in the belly it's just not going to happen.  I admire people like Bob and Judi who take their talent into the world and have an actual career.

Bob recently urged me to read Joan Baez's autobiography, "And a Voice to Sing With," primarily for the chapter on her relationship with Bob Dylan.  I had just watched the documentary on Dylan's Rolling Thunder Revue that toured the country in 1975 (the year I graduated high school).  Joan joined the tour, as did many others (including Joni Mitchell) and it was a chaotic free for all most of the time.  Though I admire Dylan's talent, he was a real cad.  Not honorable in his relations and seemed to enjoy screwing with people's minds.  In Joan's book she confirms this.  

Like any artistic community, there are some real difficult characters in the music business.  Sometimes I think I dodged a bullet when I didn't pursue that line of work.    On the other hand, musicians have a large community of like-minded friends who come together to produce that magic that is music.  There's a lot of pleasure in the music camps, the songwriting workshops (I did one with Ronnie Gilbert) and the performances.  I haven't seen Bob in roughly thirty years and I'm looking forward to both the concert and the conversation I'll have with him and Judi about their years on the road and their lives as working musicians.

You can listen to their music here.  

Sunday, August 7, 2022

What Lies Beyond

"Grief Sucks.  Life moves on."  I recently read this.  And, yes, indeed, grief does suck, and life does move on.  Eventually, even those dear to you grow weary of hearing about your grief.

Certainly, I have experienced a lot of grief in the last few years.  As has my daughter, and friends; my sisters.  At some point, however, it's time to turn my attention to other things and to reengage life.  My recent experience with my own possible demise was a stark reminder of how quickly everything I take for granted can be taken away.  Either my health condition, a car accident, a random act of violence, or some other catastrophe (just ask them in California or Kentucky).

My doctor says it is likely that I won't feel quite myself again until November or December.  The body takes a long time to heal.  In the meantime, I try to keep up with the laundry, the house cleaning, the meal making.  I've scheduled a carpet replacement for my small living room.  I prefer hard flooring, so I've engaged a company who will rip up the wall to wall and lay down some vinyl.  I'll hire another group to move everything out of the living room and into the garage for a couple of days, then move it all back.  I won't lift a finger except to write the check.

A few days after that is complete, I am hosting two friends who will entertain us with their songs.  They are making their way across the western states performing house concerts.  Jaeger and Reid, they are, and if you're interested you can Google them.  I had set this up with them well before my stomach surgery.  I am somewhat tempted to cancel because of the perceived amount of work involved, but really, my part is small and doable (order cookies and drinks for intermission), and I would love to sit and listen to their music with my friends and neighbors.  It's something positive.  I want positive.

On the one side is a friend losing her brother, another friend needing to place a spouse into memory care, and another losing a home to a forest fire.  We need to survive.  We need to imagine our lives long after the tragedy has passed.  The alternative is to let the tragedy dominate our existence and to turn our world into a small, dark place.  I'm not down for that.  Don't misunderstand: it's important to honor whatever has happened and to take our time absorbing the magnitude.    When you are able, lift your eyes to what lies beyond.  Let it stir your imagination, and maybe your desire to step outside the dark circle.

What does life still have waiting for you?  What is the next adventure?

You Can Go Home Again

 I took a vacation in the first week of May.  I went back to my high school and college stomping grounds, still populated by many friends of...