Doodle Therapy

I’ve doodled all my life. I draw hearts, flowers, cats, little cartoons, designs (I fell in love with zentangles, too), faces, Egyptian eyes, angels, fancy borders and seashells. It’s relaxing and harmless. If I have a felt pen in my hand, I automatically start making little pictures that please me.

I’ve read that people doodle for many reasons; it helps some people to think better, or it’s a stress relief, or just a way to express ideas. I do it for fun, and just because I love the thin, sharp black lines of all my “doodlage.”

Some say it’s a waste of time; I see it as a way to stretch time. Certainly no one will see my doodles in a museum, nor will I become famous because of them. They are a harmless, easy way to bleed off energy and stress.

Perhaps my little drawings say something about who I am or wish to be; perhaps they are just doodles and nothing more. But looking at where I am in my life right now, doodling is a little get-away.

Writer Sunni Brown, author of “The Doodle Revolution,” says this:

“Writers (Mark Twain, Sylvia Plath, Franz Kafka, to name a few) and inventors (Thomas Edison) were avid doodlers.

“Whenever you look at a notebook or a journal from any intellectual or hard-core creative, you see doodles,” Brown says. “There’s a reason for that.”

“Our highly visual brains see words as images, she says. Doodling, which unites different neural pathways in the brain, opens us up to greater insights, better information retention and higher levels of concentration, getting us closer to those coveted “a-ha” moments, she argues.

“Rather than being a sign of disengagement or distraction, doodling keeps our mind occupied and focused, she argues.”

I say that doodling is a little gift we give ourselves. It is a creative way to listen, too. I don’t feel right unless I have a finepoint black Sharpie in my hand. If  I’m talking with someone on the phone, I always doodle. It somehow enhances the conversation.

It is said, interestingly enough, that people who doodle are good thinkers and have good imagination. What a great excuse for doodling! Just tell any doodle nay-sayers that you are only enhancing your mind.

Works for me!

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It All Comes Down To This

These days I drive up each afternoon to my parents’ home to help put my mom to bed. It’s more than that, though–we talk and we laugh at old jokes and memories, and I rub her feet while we talk.

It becomes harder for her to remember each day that I am coming over; I call her from the road and she is so surprised and happy that I am going to be there.

She has limited time on this earth, and the metastatic breast cancer that is slowly taking her life makes her mobility and pain a little worse each day. Some days toward nightfall she is a bit confused. Hers is a gentle form of sundowning, and we all roll along with it. We tell her that everyone forgets things from time to time, and that it’s all right.

Often she cries a little, and we get through that, too. During the days, she loves visitors and phone calls, and most days are good days. Her appetite is excellent, and she enjoys the lovely and thoughtfully-prepared meals that dear friends bring over for her and my dad. I myself have made more soup than I ever have before in my life. Much of our produce from our garden; fresh, crisp broccoli, jewel-like cherry tomatoes, larger peach-yellow tomatoes and zucchini, and soon (hopefully) some of our late-plants peas–ends up in their refrigerator.

My dad will be 91 this Saturday; seven years older than my mom. He wants to be there for her and care for her, as do I. Although we both know that the cancer will take her in the end, that end is not yet here. So while she is with us, we cherish all those minutes and hours and days. My dad and I are closer now than ever, if that’s possible; another gift of this time.

We do not fear death; my mom and dad and me. We know that it is simply a gentle call back home where we all will be someday. I have been told that people in my situation have “anticipatory grieving.” While I would rather just enjoy what time Mom has left with us, I still find myself flooded in tears imagining that last day.

I ask myself if I have done enough, am I doing enough now, have I told her often enough how much I love her, have I made her know that, because of her, I can stand alone in this life with confidence? Does she understand that it was she who showed me all that a person can be? Can you ever say “I love you” enough? I don’t know the answer to that, but I say it over and over and over again.

It all comes down to this–my being there for my mom is my entire focus. The time is soon coming when I know I will be staying there for days and nights on end; that’s all right. Bless the Crankee Yankee who, when his mother was dying at home, wouldn’t leave her side for a minute. He has lived through the sorrow of losing a mother; he knows that simply being there trumps everything.

So–here we are, my mom and dad and I, sharing one more life experience together. We have shared so much else together, all through the years, and this time is good time.

More Jokes!

Ok, everyone–it’s time for more jokes. Life is short, but laughter is long. Oh, and by the way, if you are offended by the Jewish jokes, please know that I am Jewish by marriage. So I can tell Jewish jokes, the same way I can tell Mainer jokes because I was born in Maine.

…did I ever mention that this is a non-PC blog? Enjoy the laughs!

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It’s Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final, and a man makes his way to his seat right at center ice. He sits down, noticing that the seat next to him is empty. He leans over and asks his neighbor if someone will be sitting there. “No” says the neighbor. “The seat is empty.” “This is incredible,” said the man. “Who in their right mind would have a seat like this for the Stanley Cup and not use it?” The neighbor says, “Well, actually, the seat belongs to me. I was supposed to come with my wife, but she passed away. This is the first Stanley Cup we haven’t been to together since we got married.” “Oh, I’m so sorry to hear that. That’s terrible… But couldn’t you find someone else, a friend or relative, or even a neighbor to take the seat?” The man shakes his head. “No,” he says. “They’re all at the funeral.”

Two campers are hiking in the woods when one is bitten on the rear end by a rattlesnake. “I’ll go into town for a doctor,” the other says. He runs ten miles to a small town and finds the town’s only doctor, who is delivering a baby. “I can’t leave,” the doctor says. ‘But here’s what to do. Take a knife, cut a little X where the bite is, suck out the poison and spit it on the ground.” The guy ruins back to his friend, who is in agony. ‘What did the doctor say?” the victim asks. “He says you’re gonna die.”

A guy is sitting at home when he hears a knock at the door. He opens the door and sees a snail on the porch. He picks up the snail and throws it as far as he can. Three years later, there’s a knock on the door. He opens it and sees the same snail. The snail says “What the hell was that all about?”

Two campers are walking through the woods when a huge brown bear suddenly appears in the clearing about 50 feet in front of them. The bear sees the campers and begins to head toward them. The first guys drops his backpack, digs out a pair of sneakers, and frantically begins to put them on. The second guys says, “What are you doing? Sneakers won’t help you outrun that bear.” “I don’t need to outrun the bear,” the first guy says. “I just need to outrun you.”

A guy dies and is sent to Hell. Satan meets him, shows him doors to three rooms, and says he must choose one to spend eternity in. In the first room, people are standing in poop up to their necks. The guy says “no, let me see the next room.” In the second room, people are standing with poop up to their noses. Guy says no again. Finally, Satan opens the door to the third room. People are standing with poop up to their knees, drinking coffee and eating danish pastries. The guy says, “I pick this room.” Satan says okay and starts to leave, and the guy wades in and starts pouring some coffee. On the way out Satan yells, “O.K., coffee break’s over. Everyone back on your heads!”

A guy joins a monastery and takes a vow of silence: he’s allowed to say two words every seven years. After the first seven years, the elders bring him in and ask for his two words. “Cold floors,” he says. They nod and send him away. Seven more years pass. They bring him back in and ask for his two words. He clears his throats and says, “Bad food.” They nod and send him away. Seven more years pass. They bring him in for his two words. “I quit,” he says. “That’s not surprising,” the elders say. “You’ve done nothing but complain since you got here.”

My grandfather always said, “Don’t watch your money; watch your health.” So one day while I was watching my health, someone stole my money. It was my grandfather. (Jackie Mason)

Two guys are walking down the street when a mugger approaches them and demands their money. They both grudgingly pull out their wallets and begin taking out their cash. Just then one guy turns to the other and hands him a bill. “Here’s that $20 I owe you,” he says.

A Jewish grandmother is watching her grandchild playing on the beach when a huge wave comes and takes him out to sea. She pleads, “please God, save my only grandson. I beg of you, bring him back.” And a big wave comes and washes the boy back onto the beach, good as new. She looks up to heaven and says: “He had a hat!” (Myron Cohen)

I went to the psychiatrist, and he says “You’re crazy.” I tell him I want a second opinion. He says, “Okay, you’re ugly too!” (Rodney Dangerfield)

They say animal behavior can warn you when an earthquake is coming. Like the night before that last earthquake hit, our family dog took the car keys and drove to Arizona. (Bob Hope/Gene Perret)

A guy shows up late for work. The boss yells “You should have been here at 8:30!” he replies: “Why? What happened at 8:30?”

Last night I went to a 24-hour grocery. When I got there, the guy was locking the front door. I said, “Hey, the sign says you’re open 24 hours.” He goes: “Not in a row!” (Steven Wright)

I can’t think of anything worse after a night of drinking than waking up next to someone and not being able to remember their name, or how you met, or why they’re dead. (Laura Kightlinger)

I was on the subway, sitting on a newspaper, and a guy comes over and asks “Are you reading that?” I didn’t know what to say. So I said yes. I stood up, turned the page, and sat down again. (David Brenner)

Two Irish guys are fishing. The first guy reels in his line and sees that he’s snagged an old bottle. As he’s taking it off the hook, a genie pops out and promises to grant him one wish. “Turn the lake into beer,” he says. The genie goes “Poof!” and the lake turns into beer. He says to the other guy, “So what do you think?” The other guy says, “You jerk. Now we’ve got to pee in the boat.”

TV commercials now show you how detergents take out bloodstains, a pretty violent image there. I think if you’ve got a T-shirt with a bloodstain all over it, maybe laundry isn’t your biggest problem. (Jerry Seinfeld)

A father is explaining ethics to his son, who is about to go into business. “Suppose a woman comes in and orders a hundred dollars’ worth of material. You wrap it up, and you give it to her. She pays you with a $100 bill. But as she goes out the door you realize she’s given you two $100 bills. Now, here’s where the ethics come in: should you or should you not tell your partner?” (Henny Youngman)

A guy tells his psychiatrist: ‘It was terrible. I was away on business, and I emailed my wife that I’d be back a day early. I rushed home from the airport and found her in bed with my best friend. I don’t get it. How could she do this to me?” “Well,” says the psychiatrist. “Maybe she didn’t see the email.”

I have a large seashell collection, which I keep scattered on beaches all over the world. (Steven Wright)

My sister was with two men in one night. She could hardly walk after that. Can you imagine? Two dinners! (Sarah Silverman)

My wife and I took out life insurance policies on each other — so now it’s just a waiting game. (Bill Dwyer)

I was coming back from Canada, driving through Customs, and the guy asked, “Do you have any firearms with you?” I said: “What do you need?” (Steven Wright)

A lady at a party goes up to Winston Churchill and tells him, “Sir, you are drunk.” Churchill replies, “Madam, you are ugly. In the morning, I shall be sober.”

I was so ugly when I was born, the doctor slapped my mother. (Henny Youngman)

I bought a box of animal crackers and it said on it “Do not eat if seal is broken.” So I opened up the box, and sure enough… (Brian Kiley)

A guy asks a lawyer what his fee is. “I charge $50 for three questions,” the lawyer says. “That’s awfully steep, isn’t it?” the guy asks. “Yes,” the lawyer replies, “Now what’s your final question?”

Stuffed deer heads on walls are bad enough, but it’s worse when you see them wearing dark glasses, having streamers around their necks and a hat on their antlers. Because then you know they were enjoying themselves at a party when they were shot. (Ellen Degeneres)

An old woman is upset at her husband’s funeral. “You have him in a brown suit and I wanted him in a blue suit” The mortician says “We’ll take care of it, ma’am” and yells back, “Ed, switch the heads on two and four!”

A Catholic teenager goes to confession, and after confessing to an affair with a girl is told by the priest that he can’t be forgiven unless he reveals who the girl is. “I promised not to tell!” he says. “Was it Mary Patricia, the butcher’s daughter?” the priest asks. “No, and I said I wouldn’t tell.” “Was it Mary Elizabeth, the printer’s daughter?” “No, and I still won’t tell!” ‘Was it Mary Francis, the baker’s daughter?” “No,” says the boy. ‘Well, son,” says the priest, “I have no choice but to excommunicate you for six months.” Outside, the boy’s friends ask what happened. “Well,” he says, “I got six months, but three good leads.”

There’s always one of my uncles who watches a boxing match with me and says “Sure. Ten million dollars. You know, for that kind of money, I’d fight him.” As if someone is going to pay $200 a ticket to see a 57-year-old carpet salesman get hit in the face once and cry. (Larry Miller)

I went to a restaurant with a sign that said they served breakfast at any time. So I ordered French toast during the Renaissance. (Steven Wright)

When I went to college, my parents threw a going away party for me, according to the letter. (Emo Philips)

I knew these Siamese twins. They moved to England, so the other one could drive. (Steven Wright)

A lawyer dies and goes to Heaven. “There must be some mistake,” the lawyer argues. “I’m too young to die. I’m only fifty five.” “Fifty five?” says Saint Peter. “No, according to our calculations, you’re eighty two.” “How’s you get that?” the lawyer asks. Answers St. Peter: “We added up your time sheets.”

A man goes to a psychiatrist and says, “Doc, my brother’s crazy, he thinks he’s a chicken.” The doctor says, “Why don’t you turn him in?” The guy says, “We would. But we need the eggs.”

I would never want to belong to any club that would have someone like me for member. (Groucho Marx)

Sincerity is everything. If you can fake that, you’ve got it made. (George Burns)

If this is coffee, please bring me some tea. If this is tea, please bring me some coffee. (Abraham Lincoln)

New York now leads the world’s great cities in the number of people around whom you shouldn’t make a sudden move. (David Letterman)

Last night, it was so cold, the flashers in New York were only describing themselves. (Johnny Carson)

At the airport they asked me if anybody I didn’t know gave me anything. Even the people I know don’t give me anything. (George Wallace)

I want to have children, but my friends scare me. One of my friends told me she was in labor for thirty six hours. I don’t even want to do anything that feels good for thirty-six hours. (Rita Rudner)

Mario Andretti has retired from race car driving. That’s a good thing. He’s getting old. He ran his entire last race with his left blinker on. (Jon Stewart)

Three comedians are shooting the breeze at the back of a nightclub after a late gig. They’ve heard one another’s material so much, they’ve reached the point where they don’t need to say the jokes anymore to amuse each other – they just need to refer to each joke by a number. “Number 37!” cracks the first comic, and the others break up. “”Number 53!” says the second guy, and they howl. Finally, it’s the third comic’s turn. “44!” he quips. He gets nothing. Crickets. “What?” he asks, “Isn’t 44 funny?” “Sure, it’s usually hilarious,” they answer. “But the way you tell it…”

My grandfather is hard of hearing. He needs to read lips. I don’t mind him reading lips, but he uses one of those yellow highlighters. (Brian Kiley)

I always keep a supply of stimulant handy in case I see a snake, which I also keep handy. (W.C. Fields)

A car hits a Jewish man. The paramedic rushes over and says, “Are you comfortable?” The guy says: “I make a good living.” (Henny Youngman)

Waiters and waitresses are becoming nicer and much more caring. I used to pay my check, they’d say “Thank you.” That graduated into “Have a nice day.” That’s now escalated into “You take care of yourself, now.” The other day I paid my check – the waiter said, “Don’t put off that mammogram.” (Rita Rudner)

We had a depression fair in the back yard. A major game there was Pin the Blame on the Donkey. (Richard Lewis)

Animals may be our friends. But they won’t pick you up at the airport. (Bobcat Goldthwait)

I was thrown out of NYU. On my metaphysics final, they caught me cheating. I looked within the soul of the boy sitting next to me. (Woody Allen)

Two old actors are sitting on a bench. One says: “How long has it been since you had a job?” The other actor says “Thirty two years — how about you?” The first actor says, “That’s nothing. I haven’t had a job in forty years!” The other says, “One of these days we’ve got to get out of this business!”

Two old ladies are in a restaurant. One complains, “You know, the food here is just terrible.” The other shakes her head and adds, “And such small portions.” (Woody Allen)

I had a cab driver in Paris. The man smelled like a guy eating cheese while getting a permanent inside the septic tank of a slaughterhouse. (Dennis Miller)

L.A. is so celebrity-conscious, there’s a restaurant that only serves Jack Nicholson — and when he shows up, they tell him there’ll be a ten-minute wait. (Bill Maher)

 

Keeping All the Plates Spinning

Although I am not a marathon runner, I have been racing all my life. “Hurry, hurry, hurry!” said my too-fast beating heart, and “Go, go go!” said my over-taxed brain, and “Run, run, run!” said my tired feet with their fallen arches and the big bunion on my left big toe. And unthinking and unmindful of my own tired heart, body and brain; I hurried, I went, and I ran.

As I have often said, the Universe has its own way of slowing us down when we are running too fast and too long. Just this week, I lost my part-time job, my parents gifted me with one of their cars (the Crankee Yankee and I have been sharing one car for a long time now), as well as a cash gift.

Voila–no need to hurry, go or run. If you have read my post, “The Last Days of a Legend: Part 1,” then you know that my 83 year old mom is dying of metastatic cancer and is at home with my dad, and is on Hospice care.

Point is, there is now TIME. Time for me to run up to my parents’ house as often as possible, help Dad with chores, and most of all, spend precious time with my mom. I can help her in and out of bed, into her chair in the den and her other chair in the living room, in and out of the bathroom, and so on. We have even played Scrabble as in days past (and she STILL beats me!). She is very tiny now, and it is increasingly harder for her to walk with her cane or her walker. Her feet and ankles swell, so I rub white lilac lotion on her legs and feet and work the swelling down. We talk about all our time together, and how amazing it is that throughout all our years together, we have been both mother and daughter and best friends. And how rare that is!

Just recently we went through the family photo album; pictures of me as a baby, toddler, child, and so on. Also there are photos of my young mom; movie-star beautiful, graceful, beautifully dressed and poised. I used to think that she was the most glamorous woman in the world.

Then there are dashing pictures of my dad; young and strong and so handsome. And all those good looks wrapped up in the kindest of hearts, the most loving, sweet and good person–a real dad in every sense of the word. Page by page of birthdays, anniversaries, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year, and so on make us laugh and smile. Cats we have loved and lost, old and new friends, school days, school plays, graduation days; so many, many good times and memories.

And now, at this stage of my life, I find myself with less plates to spin. I have time to spend with my mother—my light, my North Star, my best friend, my teacher, my mentor, my partner in crime and Scrabble partner, and we share awful jokes and word play. This most amazing person who  gave me life, who guided my first steps and heard my first word–this incredible mother of mine is getting ready to leave this Earth and go back to her true home. Although I know that we will all be together again some day, I will miss her with each and every beat of my heart.

This is only another passage, wrenching as it may be. And now that I have fewer plates to spin, there is more precious time to be together as mother and daughter, best friends, as two women lucky enough to be both related and chosen.

Please–do NOT let your own spinning plates rule your life and your precious time. Choose only the ones you really have to keep spinning, and let go of as many as you can.

 

 

When the Universe Desperately Wants Your Attention

Did you ever notice that, when it’s time for us to move forward or move on and if we don’t initiate it ourselves, the Universe will step in and make the decision for us? If it can’t get our attention in any other way, we will either get sick, have an accident that slows us down, or a life event happens to a family member and they need our help, or we are forced to leave a comfortable situation because ultimately, it wasn’t good for us.

We cannot go forward unless we let go of the past; it’s a case of either having your cake or eating it–you can’t have both. When the Universe needs you to go on to a new phase in your life, you get hints along the way. Oh sure, you can ignore them all you like, but the hints will keep on coming, and in fact get stronger because you need to move forward. If you don’t initiate it yourself, an event will pop up to push you forward, ready or not.

As bad or shocked as you may feel at the time, you will know fairly quickly that you actually needed to move forward. And since you wouldn’t or couldn’t do it yourself, the good old Universe stepped up to help you. When it happens, you are upset–your previously familiar and comfy way of life has been turned upside down and you feel you have no solid footing any longer.

However, ask yourself these questions: have you been working so hard that you have ignored family and friends? Did you get so obsessed with what you were doing that you let important time slip away from you? Did you want to start something new but were afraid to do it? Again–the Universe knows you need a change and that you won’t do it on your own, so–BOOM! The change comes and you’ve got to roll with it.

We humans as a rule hate and fear change. It’s always uncomfortable, and it never seems to come at the “right” time, although when you look back on it, guess what? It actually was the right time. You may or may not believe this, but we are all here for a reason and a purpose. There is only one of us in this world, and we are necessary. You may be thinking, ‘what, little old me? How am I so necessary?’ Trust me, whatever role you came to Earth to play, it IS necessary, and YOU are the only one who can do it.

Remember the blind man that Christ restored to full sight? Many people have said, “oh, that poor man! Blind all his life, and for what? Just so that Christ could perform a miracle?”

But think of the blind man in this way: he played an important part in Christ’s teachings, and was a living example to everyone who observed this miracle. His part in Christ’s life and teachings is now part of the Bible, read by untold thousands of people. This man was chosen to play his part, and because he did, we all remember him, and therefore, remember Christ’s teachings.

The Universe really does want the best for us, even though sometimes we doubt it. Take for example Drew Lynch. He was a runner-up in the finals for America’s Got Talent this year. His story: he was playing softball, and a stray ball hit his throat, causing extensive nerve damage, and he has stuttered ever since. He admitted that he ‘used to be a real jerk,’ and this forced his life into an entirely new direction. It changed him from an arrogant self-involved guy to a sweet, appealing and genuinely funny person whose comedy is not only self-effacing, but hilarious. He has made that stutter work for him, and you never feel bad for him–you just want more comedy from him.

Imagine the set of circumstances that had to be in place to put Drew in this position, AND end up as the first runner-up in America’s Got Talent! This would never have happened if that softball missed him. Imagine that! Or, as I like to say, “no coincidences.”

So pay attention to those whispers (or shouts) from the Universe. It’s NOT kidding–it has your best interests at heart!

 

 

The Too-Crowded House

Years ago I heard this tale about a woman who complained when her husband brought his aging mother to live with them as she was too old to be on her own. The wife tried to make the best of it, but it had to be said that one more person made the already-small house seem terribly small.

There was barely enough room inside for the wife and husband; they had moved into the little house on the edge of a forest after their four children were grown up and gone. There was a tiny kitchen, one bathroom, a bedroom and a sitting room with a fireplace. Their gardens were at least twice the size of the entire house, and they also owned a small enclosure for their milk cow, a pig, a sheep, some chickens, a pair of ducks, and three fat barn cats who slept in the loft.

The wife felt bad about complaining to her husband, so she decided to talk things over with her priest. She put on her best clothes, picked some produce from the garden and made the half-mile walk to her priest’s home. He thanked her for the vegetables, and gave her a cup of tea.

“Now how can I help you?” asked the priest, smiling at her. The wife told him about her husband bringing her mother-in-law into the house to live with them, and how crowded the house was now. The priest nodded and smiled and told her what a good man she had who would take such tender care of his mother in her old age. The wife agreed, but said that it made things awfully crowded with her there.

The priest pursed his lips, took a sip of tea, and looked up at the ceiling. Finally, he smiled and said that he had a solution to her problem.

“My child, you must bring your cow into the house,” he said.

“What?! How in the world am I going to fit our cow into the house along with us?” the wife cried. “That’s crazy! How in the world will that help us?”

But the priest just smiled at her, and told her to come back in a week to tell him how things were going.

The wife trusted her priest–he had married her to her husband, and blessed all of their four children. So, shaking her head in wonder, she walked home, told her husband what the priest said, and moved the cow into the house.

Strangely, her mother-in-law didn’t blink an eye, and, that night under the brown-eyed gaze of their cow, they ate supper together.

The next week the wife saw the priest again, and he asked how things were.

“More crowded than ever!” said the wife. “Honestly, no one can even move, it’s so crowded.” She expected the priest to tell her to put the cow back in the barn, but instead he said, “Now bring the pig into the house.”

“The PIG?!” the wife cried. “How in the world will the pig fit in the house with the cow already in there?”

But again, the priest just smiled and said he would see her in a week.

This went on each week; the sheep came into the house, then the chickens, followed by the ducks. (The three cats of course preferred to sleep in the hay in the loft.)

By this time, the wife was ready to pull her hair out. She went to the priest, told him she didn’t have any more livestock to stuff into the house. To her great surprise, he said, “Good. Now put the cow back in the barn.”

Mystified, she walked back home and walked the cow back in the barn. A week later, the priest told her to bring the pig back into the barn; the next week, the sheep, then the chickens, and then the ducks.

The wife went to see the priest after all the animals were back in the barn. He gave her a cup of tea and asked, “So–how are things in your house?”

The wife said, “Wonderful! My mother-in-law helped me clean the house and we are now cooking together. ”

“And the house? Is it big enough for the three of you?” asked the priest.

The wife smiled at him and said, “You know–it’s just right. We have plenty of room!”

The priest just smiled.

 

Finding Our Purpose

Ask any school-age child what they want to be when they grow up; they will tell you that they want to be a nurse, a surfer, a circus acrobat, an engineer, a dancer, a train conductor, a fighter pilot, a singer, a Marine, a traveler to foreign lands, a super hero, a concert violinist, an archaeologist, a painter, and so on. They can see their future as a straight path, lined in bright lights, showing them the way to their dream. It’s all so clear to them!

Remember feeling that way? What did you want to do when you grew up? Did you achieve your dream, or did you change your mind? Did you do what you wanted to do, or what was expected of you? Do you believe that it’s too late now to try something new? Or is age just another springboard to new ideas, new jobs, new interests, new passions?

I wanted to be a famous writer ever since I was young. In fact, I was so sure that I would be one that I told my math teachers that I didn’t need to know about numbers; after all, I was going to be a writer. (Funny thing–it turns out that you need numbers just as much as you need words.) In fact, in order to live a full life you really need to learn all you can about everything–math, science, history, literature, art, chemistry (especially if you’re going to bake!), psychology, physical education–everything. When you are exposed to so much learning, you have a better chance of finding your place, your niche, your interest, your thing.

In my own case, I spent most of my working life as a technical writer, which, while not terribly arty, is an art form nonetheless. I learned to make complicated concepts simple and show that they follow a process just like anything else. Clear and concise writing is actually quite creative: you have a product that needs a user manual. You can make no assumptions that the person reading it knows anything about the product, so you have to be both specific and *consistent. Basically you need to explain how to start the product, run it successfully and stop it.

Much of my time is spent in creative writing, though; this blog, instructions for various people, poems, children’s chapter books, narratives, plays, and so on. Where I can’t always speak clearly, I can be clear with words. They are my shield, my translator, my main vehicle for communication. It really is my “thing,” and I’d rather write than almost anything.

Now, that said, as I’ve gotten older I’ve discovered new interests; ones that don’t require me to be young, pretty, active or even terribly smart. I am slowly but surely learning to play the ukelele–certainly one of the happiest-sounding instruments ever invented. Just playing my little bits of songs makes me happy.

I became interested and then involved in studying metaphysical practices such as meditation, Reiki, learning how to manage my emotions and moods, and natural techniques to feel better and live better. They have become such a part of my life that these practices are old friends to me now. When I received my Reiki Master Practitioner license last month, I knew that I did not want to have a “practice” and set up a business. This is certainly not to say that there is anything wrong with setting up a practice to perform Reiki, massage therapy, etc. I just know that that path isn’t going to work for me.

My plan has always been to offer Reiki to those I feel may need/accept it. Generally I feel drawn to someone before I offer it; I get a feeling that Reiki may help them or at least help ease them through whatever it is they are going through. Whether or not they accept it is completely up to them. I don’t charge for this, although I might barter services; i.e., a Reiki session for a foot massage, or an hour of house cleaning. It all works out, but mainly I get to give back. I have had a very good life so far and this is a way I can “pay it forward.”

Believe me, I never dreamed I would ever do this when I was a child or even a young adult. I was lucky enough to have extraordinary teachers and mentors who opened my eyes and heart to new interests. We may have had aspirations to be singers when we were young–and with hard work and good breaks it could happen. Or we may just use our songs to soothe our babies, inspire someone or simply just amuse ourselves.

But however things turn out, we will find the path for ourselves. Often that path shows up suddenly and without warning, and before you know it, you are on your way. Have faith, believe you will find your path and purpose, and above all, don’t be afraid to stick your neck out.

…after all, that’s how turtles make their way in the world–they stick their necks out and their bodies follow.

*Nothing riles me like reading a manual that calls something a “widget” on the first page, then calls the same thing a “doodad” or “thingy” or “whatzit” in the next couple of pages!