Carry On

God bless the sensitive people,
The artists, the writers, the creators
And anyone who feels, too often,
That it’s impossible to carry on.

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Pro Voice

How many days and years,
centuries and eras
will ultimately pass,
before it’s safe to use our voice?

How many battles and insults,
warnings and judgments
will we need to endure,
before we realize we have a choice?

How many preachers and players,
misogynists and mama’s boys
will brazenly insult us,
before we drown out their noise?

How many mothers and daughters,
sisters and lovers
will continue to fight,
until there’s a reason to rejoice?

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Connected

“People have had enough, both socially and politically. This is becoming ever clearer. The anger, the sense of mass injustice, is rising. But, for the first time on our history, ordinary people are taking matters into their own hands, in a constructive, rather than destructive, way… Allow people to feel that they have a voice, and rights, and, come the Revolution, the lampposts will be empty!”

I hope you enjoy this inspiring post, which was a balm for my optimistic, yet somewhat down-trodden, soul. I, too, feel the stirrings of the disenchanted and know we each have more power than we dare to believe. And I, too, am hoping for a revolution!

As a US citizen, I breathe in the pervasive air of injustice, anger and apathy every day. My jaw drops when I watch the national news and hear people with power spew testaments to their profound detachment from us “regular folk” and from those who live in poverty. (Yes, there are starving children, right here in America!) And then there are the verbal assaults on women and the regular reminders of the physical abuse they endure every day, in places near and far.

One world, one people, one voice… Alien Aura’s “Connected” is an eloquent reminder to speak up!

I Love You!

I love you!

It’s become clear to me that these three words were meant to be spoken regularly to those you care for, rather than being saved for special occasions, like the “good” china. Love may be as precious as shimmering cut crystal, but it shouldn’t be hidden out-of-site or protected from clumsy hands. Real love should be given with abandon and the trust that the receiver will hold it dear. And if not? Love is never squandered. If it’s met with resistance or taken advantage of, be glad that you’ve had the courage to express your heart’s greatest joy. And have faith! For there will be many times when your love will be received with gratitude. Gratitude that matches your own, every time you have the opportunity to say, “I love you!” For that is the true purpose of love. Love was made to be given away, released into the space between you and another and into the infinite space of our magnificent universe. Indeed, love makes the world go ’round! And, just in case you care, like all good things, love will be returned to you. 

Dedicated, with love always, to Shari Lynn Carney.

Gone

I opened my Facebook page, intending to read something amusing to my mother, who was on the phone with me from her hospital bed. “Oh! I said, “There’s a message…But I’m not sure who it’s from.” To which my mother replied, “Go ahead and read it.” So I did.

The message was brief, with no slow build-up to its content, no easing me into the words I was about to read. There was only an “I’m sorry” and a misspelled word that jumped out at me, before I read the whole sentence. It said, “Shari was kill in a motorcycle accident.” I furrowed my brow and read it again. And then I slumped backward, shrieking and shaking and crying, still holding onto the phone as my mother asked, “What happened?” She asked again and then pleaded for an answer, until I finally heard her, when she yelled out the words. I forced myself to sit still, took a deep breath and said slowly, with precise diction, “Shari has died.” Then I said I had to go.

The next twenty minutes were lost to the kind of cry that’s come over me only once before, on the day my father died. I had been by his side when he took his last breath and remember driving away from the hospital, as the clouds changed shape and the colors around me bled and for a moment I thought, “Is this a flashback?” I knew it wasn’t, as sure as I knew I just needed to make it home. I drove carefully, gripping the steering wheel tightly, because that wheel was the only thing holding me upright.

When I finally reached my driveway and turned off the engine, I made it out of my car, into the back door, past the cat in the kitchen and onto the living room rug, where my legs buckled beneath me and I crashed to my knees, hands and forehead. Sounds came out of me that I never knew existed, sounds I was making that were beyond my control. A howling, a bleating, a wrenching cry from deep inside me; it was so powerful my torso rolled on its current. I remember I thought briefly, “What will the neighbors think?” But even if I cared, there was nothing I could do. I surrendered to my sorrow and my aching agony, until I was finally still and whimpering and totally exhausted.

It’s been a few evenings since I read that brief message. I’m calm, now. And numb. And I know I need time. I’m being gentle with myself, putting one foot in front of the other, hour by hour, day by day. I make progress, but then I’ll trip over a memory and begin crying again, holding onto whatever’s nearby for support. My history with Shari stretches back for decades, so there are many reminders and they’re everywhere. They’re in the vase on my dresser, in the cupboard with my flowers petals, in a photo on my refrigerator, in the scent on my skin. But Shari’s not here, anymore, she’s gone. And I just want her back.

Lost

Please send me your comfort, and send prayers up to heaven. I’ve lost one of the best friends in my life. She taught me so very much, about love and forgiveness. We shared secrets and dreams, tales about lovers and loss, we marveled at Mother Nature and turned her inspiration into craft. For years, we were each other’s soft place to fall. She loved me, unconditionally and I loved her right back. And man, did we laugh! I can still hear hers ringing… And her hugs? They were the best in the world. She radiated such goodness to those that knew her; I know I ‘m not the only one weeping tonight. You were always an angel, Shari, but now you have your wings. Don’t fly too far, yet. Linger and help us all through our loss.

Benched

A couple of weeks ago, I traveled home to visit my family and friends. It was my final “Victory Lap” before I return to work and lose the freedom to get out-of-town whenever I please. (It was BIG fun; I’ll share more about my trip at a later date.)

My last stop was my daughter’s place in NYC. Somehow, during the four-hour trek from Manhattan to Massachusetts, I injured my right arm from my “frozen” shoulder down to my fingertips. With time, there’s been some improvement, but I’ve reached a plateau. Yesterday, I finally said “Uncle” and called an orthopedist. I also emailed a “Therapeutic Yoga” practitioner I learned about recently; her husband happened to overhear me complaining that I was unable to accomplish anything but “Child’s Pose,” as he was measuring my apartment windows for new screens. (Ah, blessed be serendipity!) And after a wee bit of research, I visited Amazon.com and ordered a highly rated wrist band and a jar of the all-natural miracle potion that I’d brought to my mother. (It’s worked wonders on her badly sprained elbow.)

Unfortunately, what aggravates my wrist injury more than anything is typing. I’m using one finger on my left hand to write this, and it’s a very slow process. So, for now, I’m on the “injured” list. I hope I’ll be back to regular blogging soon. Also, I’m sorry that I’m unable to thank those of you who are now “following” me. At least I’m still able to read; I enjoy the wonderful array of writers here at the WordPress community. See you in my “Reader!” Be well!

Joy is…

“Joy is what happens to us when we allow ourselves to recognize how good things really are.” Marianne Williamson

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Have We Met?

Is it possible to say “Thank You!” and “You’re Welcome!” with just one sentence? Is it plausible for someone to give and receive in the same moment? Is it realistic to say you know someone, if you haven’t ever met? These questions and their answers (Yes! Yes! Yes!) prompted me to ponder being a reader, a writer and, most recently, a blogger.

If I had to squeeze all of my feelings about blogging into just one word, it would be gratitude. I am deeply grateful to “meet” you here in the WordPress community. Not just to “meet you,” as in “Hello, my name is Laura,” but to meet you during the invisible action that is communication in it’s purest form. It’s when I meet someone heart-to-heart, soul-to-soul in the wonderful, safe place trust has built, where I feel free to share the deepest parts of myself, knowing I’ll be received with kindness, free from judgement.

In these precious moments, I often discover that not only are my thoughts and experiences understood, but they are shared. To feel understood is one of the most precious gifts I ever receive; maybe my gratitude springs from our shared need to feel we “belong.” Whatever the reason, nothing comforts and inspires me more than knowing I’m not alone. It gives me the courage to move forward every day, no matter what challenge I may be facing. It fuels my intention to be of service to others, no matter how small or grand the gesture. It makes me love.

This life is filled with give and take, ups and downs, challenge and triumph. I have memories of carefree, childhood discoveries, tales of travel and adventures from my “glory days” and those joyous, life-changing events, like the birth of my beloved daughter. I’ve enjoyed the many simple pleasures we’re all blessed with from one year to the next. I also remember days when loss and grief seemed insurmountable, when depression stole my will and spirit and my recent years of illness, when I wondered if I’d ever be my “old self” again. Then came a cancer diagnosis and the frightening thought that I wouldn’t live another year. Luckily for me, that fear was short-lived; my cancer was caught in Stage One and I responded beautifully to my treatment protocol.

When faced with my own extinction, it wasn’t long before my priorities became crystal clear. I had plenty of time to reflect on my life story and to decide how I want to spend the next chapters. Plotting my intentions was quite simple; I said to myself, “I’ve always wanted to ____ ” and filled in the blank, over and over. I realized I wanted to write “in public” and decided a blog was the perfect place to do it. So, you are now part of my new chapter, where I share my stories and listen to yours as my heart overflows with gratitude. So, Thank you…You’re Welcome…It’s wonderful to meet you!

Dedicated to Anna Quindlen
For Living Out Loud and for helping me realize I have something to say.

Picture Perfect

The first image I saw today was a photo of Katy Perry, sitting on the edge of an unmade bed in her bra and panties. Millions of people will see this photo, since it graces the cover of Rolling Stone magazine. What people won’t see is the “before” image of Katy, which wasn’t “perfect enough,” so it went through the Photoshop editing process. The changes are so subtle that I wondered if I’d ever see an untouched photo of a woman in print again.

I realize that people in the beauty and entertainment industries feel a greater pressure to look “perfect” than those of us who live outside the public eye. However, many men and women create unrealistic standards for themselves and retouched photos are repeatedly blamed for inspiring impossible expectations. I’ve often told my daughter how beautiful she is, because it’s the truth, despite any self-criticism she may inflict upon herself. We’ve spoken more than once about the standard headlines that appear on the covers of “women’s” magazines. These include some variation of the following: “Get Your Body Bikini-Ready!” – “The Fool-Proof No-Carbs Diet!” – “Your Perfect Hairstyle” and “Flawless Make-Up, Day to Night!”

As far as my own body goes, I’ve one of those folks whose metabolism makes gaining weight difficult. I also have a low cholesterol level. I can eat the foods I enjoy and not worry about my weight. In fact, there have been times when I’d have welcomed some extra pounds. One of these instances occurred last year, when cancer and its treatment caused my weight to dip to an all-time low. Over the last few months, I’ve been eating three square meals a day and snacking in between, in an effort to reach a healthy weight. During a recently check-up, I was thrilled to learn that I’d reached my goal and then some. That evening, while preparing for a visit home to see family and friends, a new reality set in. With the exception of the sweats I usually wear, none of my pants fit! It took some extra time, but I finally gathered enough clothing for my two week vacation.

While staying at my mother’s home, she encouraged me to buy new clothes and generously gave me some money towards a shopping spree. I drove to the local Marshall’s and dove in. After settling into a fitting room, I was pulling on a pair of jeans when something new happened. I faced myself in the mirror and noticed that I had a belly! Actually, two bellies; one from my C-section and one from too many ice cream sandwiches. Suddenly, there I was, sucking my abdomen in and frowning as I noticed the bulge that stubbornly stayed above my waistband. I was confused and disgusted and heard my inner voice scolding me. And then I was yanked into a new reality: I was guilty of judging myself by the very standards I thought I was immune to. It was quite a moment, and not a very proud one.

I’ve had some time to think about that day and I’ve come to some conclusions. There may always be times when I compare myself to other women, be it someone I know or an image in a magazine. What’s important to me is to separate the expectations I’ve been fed by the media from those that I’ve set for myself. I want to celebrate my body, thanking it for serving me well during my lifetime, especially during the last few challenging years. I want to honor my body by providing it with healthy food and regular exercise. And I want to love my body, no matter what shape it takes, because right this minute, it’s perfect!

Katy Perry Rolling Stone

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