Have I done any good in the world today…..

Recently a friend’s Facebook post asked others to examine how they think. Not what was on their mind, but how their mind presented information about their day. Some people think in pictures, some in words, some hear their own voice, some here an entire radio play with parts, some have a movie in their head; humans usually have more than one approach to information processing, but usually one predominates. Me, I have a soundtrack.

My Blog post titles are all lines from my current top 40, usually ( but not always) the first line of the #1 spin of last week. OK, really the last few hours if I blog daily, but the point is, if you are my age, and process like me, the last sentence ended in Kaycee Kayson’s voice. Why?

The things we expose ourselves to repeatedly form branches in the tree of our head where the flowers of thoughts, feelings and actions grow.

When life is hard (because it is sometimes), I become sad, grief is real and settles when least expected. Like most people my age, I grieve multiple types of loss – people who have died, faith in past paradigms and their accompanying dreams, fractured future plans, and people who are absent through choices, theirs or mine.

I also become incredibly frustrated. Sad seems to increase my craving to control the things I can’t. Things like when, how and who gets cancer; the unfair distribution of wealth in our nation; meanness, gossip and judgement about myself or others by others; how many flying food induced clothing changes I have to make in a day; that I can’t drive…. I won’t continue, I only did this free association train to demonstrate a fact I have learned.

I notice that when I focus on my frustration I slowly circle into smaller, prettier, and more selfish concerns, until the world becomes all about me and my problems. The spiral gets tighter until I am consumed by anger; impatience, and may I even add hate, with and toward things and people, grows to a destructive perfect storm.

However if I focus on my choices through kindness, gratitude, and usefulness, the things I can’t change are still there but damage is mitigated to myself and others.

Because life isn’t fair and really, really bad shit happens to really, really good people (see “unfair”) I have learned what my top 10 songs need to be when I am in the eye of a hurricane.

Today I am on my third shirt because my hand is busy marching to its own drummer today; my first friend here (closest to my age, similar health) 911’d out and probably won’t be back; I still don’t know where my bed is; most troubling someone I deeply love and their child I also think is wonderful are going through something I can neither help with or change.

So my top 10 playlist repeats in my head. #10 on the list is Ella Fitzgerald’ s version of Wonderful world. It is also the first line in yesterday’s blog. I hear the songs of my soundtrack in particular versions and voices, not necessarily the best known, and really unsure how my brain picks the performance to add to perma play.

#9, is mine and my sister’s Suzanne and Diane singing a hymn together a decade ago.

Perhaps tomorrow I will tell you another, or maybe not, all I know is I am now off to do some good in ways I still can.

P. S. Today’s post went easier than yesterday’s. I started at 7 am, finishing editing at noon. Probably still needs more editing but posting as is!

Namaste

I see trees of Green, red roses too…

Writing currently takes a level of concentration I find difficult to accept; I start to write, the thoughts in my mind seem to flow until I open WordPress and begin to type. I cannot remember how to do paragraphs on my keyboard or where to enter the title. I cannot find the songs I want to play while I blog.

Somehow my mind remembers a typewriter better these days and I look for the return bar, I hit the key that says return knowing that somehow on this program and this keyboard its more difficult than that.

And I almost put it all away again and go to bed, early as always because the evenings darken the shadows and unravel the rememberings.

I know I am the baby here in my landlocked silver aged cruise. Meals are tasty and prepared by others, no longer do I seek out a away to get what I crave, be it food or adventure, but a way to crave what I get. Activities, friendliness and food all expertly tailored to us, the target audience, the great ship of senior and assisted living sailing around the iceberg of age and illness.

I’d rather not be doing this, but at least I am doing it someplace safe, someplace fun, surrounded by the love of friends and family.

However, a year ago I was still working my last week as a nurse, not ignorant of how fragile life is, and not unfamiliar with stormy life seas, but as FB keeps reminding me, ignorant of the iceberg in my path.

Maybe I’m fiddling on the Titanic, however it’s still truly a wonderful world.

Good Morning America, How are ya,

So I will be posting the next two poems for my 31 in 31 later, but for now I am just going to try and post a blog about my ride on this magic carpet made of steel.
The most important thing I have learned is to love America’s Native Son even more than I did before the trip. Best movie I’ve ever streamed has passed by this windows. All my views have justified my lifetime love of trains, 

The food is tasty, most people swear by the Train French Toast, it was good, but Iam stuck on their continental breakfast with oatmeal and berries for breakfast, a  square croissant for midmorning coffee and later a yogurt snack. All three of my Hobbit breakfasts (1st, 2nd and elevensees for under 10$ when I am in Coach and delivered free in 1st class (except the tip). Dinners are presented as pretty as the food is delicious. My favorites are the tender and perfectly seasoned Southwest Chicken Breast and their vegetarian plate.

As to my beverages on the train, just say choices are many and their best quality, including coffee (sigh) is, well, they are ample.

 Train travelis comfortable! The reclining coach seats are wide enough for my fluffy butt and I sleep pretty well there, the bed in the sleeper car is like being rocked gently in Momma Earths arms. 

Overall the service has been excellent, and fellow passengers, both local and international,  are friendly and kind.

Crowfae says when its all about the destination, fly; but once or twice in your life, slow down and make it about the journey  and take the train.

Day 6: 31 in 31

Thoughts while waiting

I keep the TV off at home

Sheltering from Hurricanes, mass shooting, hateful raves of small and disrespectful men debating lives they wish to rule

choose not to understand.

We are what we consume, and the news will infiltrate my dreams, squelch my natural courage and compassion.

So I shelter my soul beneath chosen silence.

But,

The TV in the station is perpetually on,

I drown in repetitive fear and hype

even through the barrier of music and my earphones

spewing from Fox on one side

Across from CNN.

No escape for those who wait.

My adrenaline levels

long for legs that always work when I will them.

No shelter in this culture of fear

And hyperbole

I wait to evacuate.

Day 3:31 in 31  Front Porch Epiphany

It started in the west, behind the break of trees

A racous caw of alarm,

“Coming, coming, coming!’

Other corvid voices adding “Closer, closer, closer!”

“Coming! Coming coming!”

“Flee, flee, flee!”

Innocent of cause, I watch and listen.

I cannot hear the engine noise carried on the breeze

until long after the Chikadee aand whipporwhill, the finch and jay

join the siren song.

“Evacuate-ate-ate, Evacuate-ate-ate!”

“Fleeeee we will! Fleeeee we will! Fleeeee we will!”

“Go, go, go; hope, hope, hope”

“Fly fly, why?”

“Not me, not me, not me”

“Shhh,”the mother sparrow says to her late brood, “we stay stay stay.”

“Danger! Danger! Danger!” the murder echoes through its ranks.

Even the donkeys on the next door farm begin a warning bray.

The mockingbird, city born, makes siren sounds as it flit from tree to tree.
Then I hear the engines south of me, and see them come

the metal beasts that eat the trees.

The roads needed clearing, a man a house,

and every pen a page.
I understood the need they met, these ripping, gripping teeth of steel

but never understood before, how those who live there feel.

What would you do if I sang out of tune…

So my last blog mentioned a third person in Connecticut to thank for keeping me alive, but this will not be that story. For one thing, so much of that story is their story, and for a second, two stories are more than enough to establish the fact that my guardian angels wore very human faces.

I did thank Grace face to face, and we talked of her daughter Marie, who died of breast cancer as an adult, and who I knew and loved as a child. Grace and I reminisced, shared stories of our lives and current paths. It was lovely, I was thankful for a chance to say thank you.

Gratitude is the theme of this rock star farewell tour.

From Connecticut I took the train South to Georgia, my foster mother Connie met me at the station after the train paused an interminable 2 hours just 10 minutes from the station waiting for freight trains to pass.

Staying breathing, heart beating is not enough, I needed to learn how to live. I needed to finally experience the foundational Maslowian need of safety, unconditional love. Connie and Ed met that need for me.

Connie loves to quilt. Nothing is trash in her scrap bag, and color studies of otherwise incogruent prints bow to the will of her quick fingers and become a warm and cozy work of art.

Wiz(Ed) sits like Yoda, laughs like a Buddha and facilitates the most FUNctional outcome in whatever he is facing, whether it’s pruning a storm torn tree or picking the evening movie.

They are the seed source for so much of what is right with me. I worry that I am a disappointment to them. I have nothing to give them, not even the comfort of knowing we walk the same spiritual paths.

Which is how I am reminded that this is where I learned the taste of unconditional love.

I ask in my meditations for a chance to be a small service to this family that has been so much for me.

In the car with Connie that morning, Heather (third child) calls soliciting an adult to vacation with them to Orlando. Three children, all with some level of special needs; three adults pretty well necessary. Connie has prior appointment with soon to pop pregnant woman. Other Grandma has health issues.

I have no unchangeable plans. I may not be capable of full shifts, any real level of lifting, making the split second life saving decisions, or verifying med calculations anymore, but the rest of my job I am still pretty good at; the playing games, singing songs, observing and being present.

We negotiate my restrictions and I get my questions answered and suddenly two dreams, two more of my twenty wishes, are coming true.

It’s Tuesday morning. It has taken a whole week to complete and edit this entry, but one week ago I agreed to be here, in Orlando, being of service to Connie and Ed grandchildren and daughter at ( wait for it) Universal Studios Orlando aka Harry Potter paradise.

Sunday I sat in a church between Connie and Ed, unfamiliar with the hymn, the phrasing and notes escaped me and my voice carries because I love to sing, but nobody even flinched.

I am so grateful. I am useful, even as my skills change.

And today, I am seeing The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

I am happy.

I more than get by with the help of my friends, I am high on the joy of this chosen family.

Who are these children who scheme and run wild…

Three is a magic number, three legs stabalize a stool, three points define a space and tragedy they say comes in three; there were three distinct times between the age of 12 and 19 when a small blip of kindness on the part of a person with no investment in my existence made all my crazy adventures possible.

My last blog told the story of the first, This is the story of the second, a time in my life where joy was as hidden as the sun this misty, moisty seaside morning. And very fitting for a second story, it involves two boys, well men now, and men we thought then, and I woman quite grown. Reality was we were merely puppies, rolling and growling at shadows; tumbling and rolling,  tugging at the seams of real life with our sharp milk teeth.

It was spring, and I was truly alone in the world, hungry for food, hungry for meaning, hungry for touch and thoroughly adverse to anything that looked like love. My heart had been ripped away by my mothers slow death and scattered to the tides by abandonment.

I practiced laying on the train tracks, rolling away as it hit the turn. I was afraid of hurting anyone else.  No, I could not do that to the conductor. No thought of razor blades this time, to risky that someone I knew would find me, and I wanted to be gone, but an accident would save anyone from the guilts and regrets that plagued me from one I loved’s suicide attempt.

Don’t understand why I am wired this way, perhaps the need to take on the worlds pain made my adolescence harder, but I was and am wired to be kind and to be useful, nothing more and never accepting of less.

So now I knew this ending would be a a carefully orchestrated accident. I would start swimming out from the shore as the tide turned and swim until exhausted, I was known for taking risks, and at night, sliver moon, I would not be visible.

The 24 hours passed, the deep mist in my soul had not cleared. I changed to jeans, their weight would make it easier to accomplish my goal. But then the phone on the wall rang, TC said he was home and bored. the sun was still up, I had time to go over, hang out with him, listen to music, make him laugh. And then there was his brother Danny. Adorable, funny and unpredictable as everything. 

The details of the late afternoon escape me except for a small collection of Emily Dickinson poems from Danny, Elton John on the stereo and lots of talk about death, life, a favorite snippet of lyrics, the meaning of beauty, whether this girl or that girl was hotter, and always a bit of talk of the ever enigmatic Carl Frye III. We would lay on our backs on the bed next to each other, usually more interested in the way our thoughts entertwined bodies melding. But we were puppies pretending to be dogs and just discovering the magic of libito, and I was so empty that the evening was inevitable. and for a moment I was real again.

But then I noticed it was dark and I wanted to leave, your voice sounded a little hurt when I started dressing, and I said, “I’m done.” You asked my just to stay. And your brother came in and made jokes at us and so somehow I stayed.

And like so often happens if we just stay, for the night cares slittle about our faith, it just ends.  The morning dawned golden, the cold grip on my heart loosened, and as I lay listening to TC and Danny lightly snore, I was horrified how close to the edge I had come again, how they had saved my life.

I never told them thank you until now.  Actually admitting to planning a suicide isn’t something one does lightly, to admit it happenned 3 times, each three years apart, is well, crazy.

 When I entered the military I turned my back on my childhood, cut my ties that remained, and sought a new beginning. 

But whenever  another circle to close.  I have been trying to make this trip for 7 years. I guess it was time.

 TC and his wife hosted me here in Mystic with unequaled hospitality. A sincere thank-you and watching the two dogs are hardly a fitting reward for saving a life. 

 Monday I leave on the train. I am not sure that TC and Danny and I ever really understand each other, they are golden haired, silver tongued, blue bloods with wives and refined tastes, and I am a red-headed pirate who only loves her children, the road and the sea. And my friends. I love my friends.

and they are these.