Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Yellow Bracelets

Lance Armstrong won his seventh Tour de France today. She wears his yellow bracelet to remind her of what she needs to do, after having gotten it as a gift from her daughter. “LiveStrong” is written on it and it is a concrete reminder to her of what she needs to do, to make a new life for herself.

The wearing of the yellow bracelet is also an important reminder to her of the very roundabout way that she came to this point in her life. She’s been moving in this direction for a long time, only she just had no conscious realization of it.

Many years ago she had a sister. When she was thirty, her sister died after trying to beat the hell out of Hodgkin’s disease. If anyone could have cured themselves on will alone, it was her sister Regina. There was no negative talk about not surviving, there were no final *good-bye’s*…. as she wasn’t leaving. She had chemo up until the day before she died, always with the hope that it would change the course of this disease that was killing her. Her sister was one of the first people ever to have had her bone marrow harvested while it was still healthy, and given back to her in the form of a bone marrow transplant when she did not respond to conventional treatment; when it became apparent that she was not in the 98% of people who were treated and cured of Hodgkin’s.

Her sister’s death was one of the single most defining moments in her life, when she thinks that subconsciously she realized that she didn’t have a life, not really. Sure, she was someone's wife, but that wasn’t going very well at the time…and yes, she was the mother of two children who she cared for and loved dearly….but who was she really? What defined her as a person? This defining moment in her life set her on a course that has lead her to where she is today. Sometimes a mess because she’s impatient with the process, certainly lonely at times, occasionally overwhelmed, and yet, still oddly happy. She’s amazed as she sits here and writes this, that she can say she is “oddly happy”. Especially tonight, when being “oddly happy” is a struggle. She is still hoping to be completely happy one day too, and knows its part of this process that she dislikes so very much.

According to her counselor, she should be enjoying this whole *getting a new life* process. Joan tells her that people make the most progress when they are trying to work out these dramatic changes…make these transitions and come to places that they can then be happy in. When that happens, she wants to sit back and coast for a while….because she thinks this is way too much work. Right now, she just wants it all to be done and she wants the *happy life*…she wishes it just wasn’t so hard to get. Sure, as compared to the lives of many other people, she should feel grateful. After all, she’s alive…. and she’s in good health…. and her family loves her and supports her…but she still needs the yellow bracelet as a reminder that no matter how hard this is, she needs to “LiveStrong”.

After the death of her sister she found her way to hospice. It became an outlet for her grief. Her work with hospice lead her back to school; back to a college career she had pretty much flunky out of many years earlier. It’s amazing what a few more years of maturity and a concrete goal can do for your GPA. If not for her first college career, she would have graduated with her two year degree and a 3.9 GPA. Not too shabby she thinks.

Going back to college is where the transformation to becoming this person she is today began. It gave her confidence that she had never had in the past. It made her realize that she had opinions that mattered to people. It made her realize that she was bright, and that she could do things that would never have occurred to her in previous years. It made her feel like she existed in the world. It was, and is, an amazing feeling, even today.

Her sister’s death just shy of age 24 made her realize that she wanted more in her life, and it gave her the confidence that she needed in order to go out and find it. She still wants more in her life. Hell, she wants it all….she wants everything. After all, let us not forget that she is also a *Goth Woman* and they are “single minded in their quest for whatever it is they seek”. But, this Goth Woman still needs the symbolism the yellow “LiveStrong” bracelet provides for her. It reminds her that she still needs to go to the gym, even when she doesn’t really feel like it. It reminds her that when things are not going her way, she needs to find a way to deal with them and move on. It will help her focus on getting through Statistics, which she needs in order to finally obtain her Bachelor’s Degree...and finally, it reminds her of how hard her sister fought to live and that what she is doing now, is nothing compared to that.

Today Lance Armstrong, a cancer survivor, won his seventh Tour de France. If Lance could accomplish a feat such as this, with the help of his yellow bracelet, she should be able to make her new life a reality too. She just wishes that her new life would happen sooner…oops…she keeps forgetting, this is her new life, bumps, bruises and all…..it’s a good thing she has this yellow bracelet.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Indelible Ink

She sits on the dock at the end of the street, watching as the sky to the west darkens into night. The pinkish-purple hue fades into dark blue and then black as the lights from the boats out on the bay, twinkle like red, green and white stars, dancing on the water. For so many years of her life she’s come to watch this show and this year, even though it’s a *getting a new life* year, is no exception.

As far back as she can remember, the community she lives in had some sort of summer fireworks display. Many years ago, the show always took place on the 4th of July. She grew up on a dead end street with neighbors that had all lived there for years. They bar-b-qu-ed together, helped each other build sheds and were just generally supportive of each other, but not in an obnoxious way. People knew how to mind their own business too.

Toward evening when the out-of-towners would start to arrive her neighbors would spread lawn chairs across the street and park themselves there for the show. That was long ago, before the trees grew so tall that they blocked the view.

She remembers climbing out onto her neighbor Sara’s roof one year in order to have a better view…that was after they had walked almost to the bay and decided the roof offered a better vantage point. She does not remember what the view was like from the roof; just the idea that she was up there at all, was quite an overwhelming moment. That was the first and last roof she ever ventured up onto. She does believe that in order to qualify as a roof-sitting event, one should have to climb out a window to get here……that taking an elevator does not count.

When first married in her twenties, she stopped paying attention to the fireworks. She didn’t go to the bay, her neighbors who sat in the middle of the street, were not sitting there any more because of the big trees, and she was busy with other things. She did find it entertaining however, to watch all the cars and what seemed like thousands of people, all trying to get down into this small area of her community, and then back out again. A moving mass of people, all walking in the middle of the street, while cars tried to maneuver around them. It was amazing that as a rule, no yelling and shouting ensued. Of course, that’s because these were all fireworks watchers; she thinks they don’t yell and shout at each to begin with.

For a number of years, the fireworks stopped. She almost didn’t notice, until one year, when they started again. By then her first child had been born and exposing her to this wonderful display became very important. She found that fireworks still held their original awesome beauty for her and realized that not only had she missed them, but felt a need to pass along this tradition to her child and then to both of her children.

Some people complain about the mess, the crowds, the traffic that these shows bring to the community. She thinks those are the people who don’t actually watch the fireworks; they just like to complain. People, who enjoy them, watch with enthusiasm. They watch with awe. They watch with the wonder of children. Among all the hundreds of people she sat among tonight, she did not hear one word said in anger, or complaint. They were happy to sit and watch and “ooh”, and “ah”, as fireworks that looked like waterfalls and dandelion puffs, came to life in the air.

She sat on the dock tonight in the dark, lovingly surrounded by her family. Her daughter who is now a young woman, but who first came to that dock as a baby, her son, happily perched atop of fire truck nearby, her brothers and their families, her mother…. and her father, who was off riding his bike somewhere. She looked out over the water and watched the boat lights out on the bay, bobbing red and green and white….And as she watched these beautiful fireworks light up the night sky, she thought about how one day, she might not live here anymore. She felt time moving on and wondered where a new life might take her. But no matter the future, she knows that these moments are etched in indelible ink, right into her heart.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

She Wants to be a Goth Girl

Yes, she wants to be a *Goth Girl*. For some time now she’s suspected that there’s a Goth girl hidden inside of her, just screaming… well maybe not screaming… maybe moaning would be more the right word…to get out.

One day, she stumbled upon a Goth girl by the name of Moliere. It was through her interaction, or really indirect interaction, with Moliere, that she discovered her inner Goth girl. Of course now at her age pulling off Goth girl is probably not a possibility, but she’s pretty confident she’d be able to pull off *Goth woman*.

She’s always loved wearing black. She thinks it’s cool and sexy and elegant. Goth girls and women wear a lot of black. She would love to wear a long black tulle skirt, with black combat boots. Goth girls would be wearing black fishnet stockings as well (and very probably a black thong), but not Goth women…..black thigh-highs might work very well for them though.

Her version of Goth Woman would not include the pasty white skin and black hair, or the requisite tattoos. She might be able to manage a few new piercing though….maybe a small diamond stud in her nose…but then again, since she will be needing a new job in the near future, maybe not. She could also not pull off the black hair. She’s a Goth woman with the cool black clothing, long auburn hair and a tan. She does on occasion wear three earrings in each ear, a toe ring and ankle bracelets….a hint to those who pay attention, that there very well might be a Goth woman lurking inside.

It’s really more about the attitude she thinks. Goth women have a certain mind-set. They are somewhat unconventional in nature. They have a certain *twinkle* about them. She loves her *twinkle* and is so very happy to have discovered that she has one.

Goth girls and women she thinks are fearless. They see what they want and they go after it. The hell with what anyone else thinks. They are single minded in their quest for whatever it is they seek. At least that’s her take on being Goth. She actually hasn’t done much research into the whole Goth thing….she’s just making all this up as she goes….but she does think the clothes are cool and she really likes the attitude. You know what they say, attitude is everything…….

Update September 13, 2006: This Goth Woman got her nose pierced for her birthday. And how cool and hot it is.....

Monday, July 04, 2005

A Kiss at a Parade

Her son threw her a kiss in the middle of a parade he was marching in today. How unexpected and lovely a kiss it was, too. She went to the parade with the expectation of seeing him march with the fire department that he belongs to. A little wave and maybe a smile was all she was expecting, the kiss threw her for a loop. It brought back home to her all the things that are wonderful about this child of hers. He is a *care taker* only she doesn’t think he realizes it.

From the time he was a little boy he has always been aware of the feeling of others. Watching him walk by she is reminded of the little boy who in third or fourth grade, started asking her to make an extra sandwich for one of his classmates, who he reported would come to school each day with no lunch. At that time she remembers thinking about what a wonderful little kid he was. She made the extra sandwich for three or four days and then the light dawned on her. Why didn’t the teacher notice that this child had no lunch? Why wasn’t this child eligible for reduced, or free lunch? Of course she made a call to the teacher that day. The teacher was so moved by the kindness of her child, that he became student of the month. She’s not sure if he actually remembers this, or realized what a big deal it really was.

Her son has been *a man on the go* from the moment he took his first steps. From the moment he took off she’s has been saying “Nick, stop running”…. “Nick, slow down”. She’s come to the conclusion after all these years that Nick will always be running. She wonders if he has the capacity to slow down. He is ever working on one thing or another….going one place or another. She hopes that her *mother voice* plays in his head when he’s involved in something she would consider *iffy*. She hopes that when he’s out with his friends, he hears her voice saying “Please, never drink and drive”. Sayings “Please, never get in a car with someone who has been drinking”. She remembers telling him once that if anything bad were to ever happen to either himself, or his sister, she would never be able to recover. Her life as she knew it would be forever over. That she would never be able to survive. She hopes he listens and she hopes the *mother voice* will continue to play in his head, forever.

She has tried for all these years to go to anything that her children are involved in, even now that they’re pretty much grown. Her son is a drummer, among many other things. Currently he is in two different rock bands. A *Death Metal Band* as she and his sister refer to one , and a much mellower rock band….she likes the mellow one much better. She’s pretty good at listening to *Death Metal Rock* too though. From all the years of traveling in the car with him she actually developed a taste for some of it….but certainly not all. Needless to say, if either band is playing in the area, she tries her best to attend. Her son tells her that when his band gets signed to a record contract, he’s going to buy her a condo. She thinks he feels a need to take care of her, even though she’s getting a new life, one in which she wants and needs to take care of herself. But she is happy that he thinks of her.

She remembers over the years, talking to other mothers, mothers of the kids her son was friends with. She remembers hearing them say how their adolescent sons wanted nothing to do with them….didn’t want to be seen with their mothers…didn’t want to be seen being dropped off at school by their mothers…..didn’t want anyone to know they had mothers. That was so NOT her son. Sure, he hated it when she would scream from the sidelines at a soccer game. She thought she was being supportive, he didn’t always see it that way though. He knows that she speaks her mind and would sometimes have a problem if she spoke it in front of others, but often she couldn’t help herself. Sometimes saying things in front of others was the only way to get his attention. Her son was the young adolescent who would give her a kiss good-bye in the car when she dropped him off at school, no matter who was watching, right up until he drove himself to school. That’s who her son was, and still is.

She stood at the corner of this small town that she lives in…small town America. She watched as her son came by, marching with the fire department that he belongs to, carrying a flag, tattoos on his arm….and she watched as he raised his hand to his mouth and threw her a kiss. How lucky is she to be the mother of this remarkable son? She thinks about what a wonderful moment that was to just be in……

Friday, July 01, 2005

Where is the Manual??

She wonders where she can buy a copy of the “Learning How to live in the Moment” manual. Her very good friend Susan told her that it should come with the book on “Raising Children” …..You know, the one you’re supposed to get upon bringing a newborn home from the hospital, but that nobody ever seems to actually come home with.

Somehow she seemed to muddle through the *raising of the children* part, at least so far neither of them has become an axe murderer….and she did it without the instruction manual. Yes, one is into tattooing himself rather extensively, but so far, it’s been confined to one arm and part of a leg. She’s even recently asked him if his need to tattoo has anything to do with the fact that his parents were breaking up. She’s still concerned about scarring her children for life, even though they are pretty much adults now. As far as tattooing himself goes, it’s been something he’s talked about for years and she believes him when he assures her it has nothing to do with herself and his father.

She wonders how one *lives in the moment* when she can’t seem to concentrate on a moment long enough to do so? She thinks that maybe she has temporary Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD). Temporary since she has only been experiencing it since last summer. She’s hopeful that maybe someday it will cure itself, that since she didn’t always have ADD, one day it will be gone and she’ll be back to normal.

What is normal anyway? She’s forgotten what normal use to be and thinks that maybe she never really was *normal*. She thinks that *normal* probably changes given whatever situations life throws your way. Her situations have been pretty intense of late, at least to her. She could deal with not feeling normal if there weren’t drama of one kind or another involved. If she could learn to live in the moment, then maybe the drama would subside and she could just…. be.

How do you stop your mind from going a million miles per minute? Unless she can stop herself from constantly thinking, she will never recognize the moments she’s trying to live in. This is where a manual would come in handy. One could go to the Table of Contents, find the chapter on “Slowing Down Your Mind” and follow the directions. She’s a visual learner and likes to see things in writing; they make better sense to her that way. Having your mind going at top speed, always looking toward the future and the long term goals she has, as opposed to the short term goals, is exhausting and sometimes even makes her cry. The ability to live moment to moment and enjoy each and every one of them would be such a relief for her at this point.

Currently she’s reading “The Complete Idiots Guide to Zen Living”, hoping that it will assist her in recognizing *the moments* so that she can take the time to live them. Unfortunately she has still not gotten past Chapter 2 yet, but she’s working on it. Her concentration has not been the best lately, so getting through “Zen Living” has been a bit of a trial.

Her goal for today is to try and at least recognize some *moments* in her day and maybe even enjoy one or two of them. She is going to plan to enjoy posting this piece on line, at the very moment it appears. If she can anticipate the moments prior to them appearing, then maybe she’ll have a better chance of living in them. She wonders if this will qualify as *living in the moment*? Maybe not, but she might be a little closer. She’s still going to search for the manual though. It must be here somewhere…….