Eternal Love Haiku

Love that formed in Heaven

Shapes and directs us

Into love eternal.

 

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“Be Not Selfish”

Since my mom died last December, my dad and I have spent a lot of wonderful time together. We talk about many things, and always we talk about Mom. Each time I visit, we go through a few household things to see what to keep, gift someone with, donate or throw away. When I packed up all of Mom’s beautiful clothes and shoes (she was a true fashionista), I went between laughter and tears. Laughter because Mom would deeply approve of ‘spreading the wealth,’ and tears because she wouldn’t be wearing the clothes again.

Dad and I have a lovely daily routine; he calls me at 7:30 am each day and I call him anywhere between 4:30 and 6:00 pm. We catch up on our mornings and our days; what we are doing, what we plan to do, and whether or not we slept well the night before. We always end our conversations with an “I love you,” and this is the structure upon which I build my days.

When I drive up to visit, we go out to have lunch, have a great time, and talk. We always end up talking about Mom and all she gave us, and how much we loved and admired her. We marvel on all her talents and gifts, her kindness, her great intellect, her sense of humor, her sharpness and wit—but mostly we talk about how she loved us, and how we loved her. It still seems amazing that this unique and wonderful person was part of our lives for so many wonderful years.

Dad is now attending a weekly grief counseling session given by our local Hospice organization. Mom was in Hospice for about three and a half months, and was given such exquisite care, kindness and sincere love from the nurses and staff. They became family to us. This session is helping Dad very much, plus it is adding more good people to his life. He always shares with me how the sessions are, and how much he gets out of them.

Just the other day he gave me a slip of paper; a copy of what he had been given in the sessions that read: “Be not selfish nor grieve for me. Rejoice and wish for Godspeed. I go to meet my cosmic Beloved.” Immediately I thought of my amazing mom; her spirit at last free of a painful body, knowing we are missing her but as always sending love and grace to us. I can just hear her voice saying, “I’m fine–I’m free! I’m always there for you, and don’t worry; we’ll be together again.”

My mom and dad have been the greatest love story I have ever known. I am so lucky to have been part of it for so many years. I grew up with love, kindness, joy, happiness and security–I was and am rich beyond measure for the parents with which I was blessed. Although I grieve the loss of my mother and best friend, I know that I have her love all around me each day. I also know that love never, ever dies.

I think on that phrase; “be not selfish,” often. Selfishly, we wanted more time with her; more adventures, more talk, more laughter, more love, more hugs and kisses. I can still hear her voice in my ears every day. But the truth was that Mom was ready to go. She had successfully lived with cancer for over 25 years, and lived well. When the time came that the medications and infusions no longer worked, her doctors told her she could  either have chemotherapy or simply let nature take its course.

Mom, being Mom, told the doctors in no uncertain terms that she chose Door #2, letting nature take its course. I believe that she had done every single thing she ever wanted to do in life, and had done it all spectacularly well. Dad and I to this day marvel at all she packed into one lifetime. I think we both feel that we somehow landed into this incredible person’s life not by chance, but by design. We loved her so much, and she loved us right back.

So we are doing our best not to be selfish, but to rejoice that she is where she wanted to be, and that she is finally free from the pain she had to endure for so long. We are learning that grief is not something you get over, but you learn to live with it. And that’s just what we are doing and plan to do until we too take our last breaths–live, and live well.

Thank you, Mom.

“Smoke and Mirrors”

Ever notice how most of the makeup and skin care commercials appear to always use the faces of young and gorgeous models? These sweet young things could smear mud on their faces each night and wake up looking fabulous. When you are young with reasonably good skin, you can go barefaced and no one would think you were anything but beautiful. What would really impress me is if they used an older face in the ads using products appropriate for older skin.

The care and feeding of older skin is a whole different ballgame. While I won’t spend much time on my hair, I will take time with my face. I start my morning routine using a gentle cleanser, then clean it off with warm water on a textured washcloth (which acts as a gentle exfoliating), followed by swiping a cotton ball dipped in witch hazel over my face and neck as a toner. I use a good moisturizer with sunscreen that works with my skin (dry), then followed by a subtle base makeup. Now comes the fun part: concealer and the “magic stick.”

My concealer is one of the things I cannot do without because it does exactly what the name implies: it conceals. Basically, I dot it on all my problem areas: dark spots (there are enough of them to warrant playing Connect the Dots), red spots, under the eyes, etc. Then I blend it in to keep up the appearance of fairly flawless skin. (Seriously ladies; it’s all smoke and mirrors, but it WORKS.)

Then comes the magic stick–this is a just a fancified pencil consisting of a luminous makeup used for highlighting cheekbones and under eyebrows. It usually comes in skin-flattering shades such as light gold, pink or pearly white. You can pay an exorbitant amount of cash for one at the makeup departments in the mall, or pick up one at the Dollar Store (usually in pink) for–you guessed it–a dollar!

The fact that it is luminous spreads a whole lot of optical kindness on your face; anything *luminous reflects the light. And if your skin reflects the light, any flaws are much less likely to stand out. Major bonus: that luminous touch also gives the appearance of youthful skin. (Told you it was magic!)

Once those basics are done, then comes the rest of the makeup; blush, eyeliner, mascara and eyebrows. I have exactly three eyebrow hairs on one side, and four on the other. So I’ve learned to be an absolute Da Vinci with an eyebrow pencil (the trick is to blend with an eyebrow brush after using the pencil). The end of the whole deal is lipstick; these days it’s raspberry-tinted lip moisturizer.

I’ll just bet that all those young and lovely models they use for makeup commercials look positively radiant when they roll out of bed in the morning. That’s youth for you, and we’ve all enjoyed it immensely. But working with older skin is a different story, so it requires a bit of time, magic and confidence.

Actually confidence is the  most important part of looking  good; hair, makeup and body. There is no point in mourning how we used to look; just do as the song says: “accentuate the positive.”

*Another way to illuminate your look is to wear pearls; pearl earrings and necklaces also reflect light and give your skin a softer look.

Following Our Own Road Map

Years ago, I worked at AAA as a map marker; that is, when people came in to plan a road trip, we would create a *TripTik to show them the best routes to take. This always included up-to-the-minute road construction areas, information and directions to hotels on the way, fun spots, shops, restaurants, etc.

When you think about it, we all come into this world with a “road map.” We may be born to parents who badly wanted children, and after having them, did everything they could to make a great life for them. We may be born in a terribly poor area where food, shelter, water and education are scarce. We may be born anywhere in this world, and we come with infinite potential. Our circumstances may be modest or opulent, but we come to Earth for a reason.

True, it may take our whole lives to figure out our purpose here, but I believe that we are given subtle nudges in the directions we need to go; little hints and helps along the way. We may not always pay attention to them, but they are still there. For example, think of the jobs you’ve had over the years. Did you get them because you were working toward a grand plan for your life? Did you just ‘fall’ into them out of convenience? Did you know as a child what you wanted to do for work? Did you just drift from job to job with no particular direction?

Say that from a young age you deeply desired to become a doctor. Your interest may have started with a child’s book about anatomy and how the body works. You may have had a wonderful doctor who took the time to explain things to you and answer your questions; that person may have been your catalyst to become a doctor yourself.

But say that, despite this burning ambition, you come from a family where money is tight; you know that you are going to have to work hard to get scholarships to fulfill your dream. You may even volunteer at a hospital or nursing home to get experience to ready you for the study ahead. Sure, it’s not going to be easy, but if you are determined and creative, you will find a way to afford what you need and achieve your goal.

For those of us who didn’t have a ‘grand plan’ for life, we still find we are drawn toward certain jobs, people, interests, etc. It may take us longer to figure ourselves out, but for the most part, we get where we need to be. For example, **Chi Chi Rodriguez, famous golfer, had a huge number of obstacles to overcome before he made a name for himself. He had so much stacked against him, and yet he pursued his passion relentlessly.

I once had the great pleasure of meeting this man and shaking his hand. Although I am not a golf fan, his story moved me tremendously. It was an example to me that you truly can do anything if you work hard enough for it. What we may call ‘luck’ just may be part of our DNA, nudging us toward the life we are meant to live.

*Basically, this was a marked-up map showing the correct routes to take to get to a particular destination. Needless to say, this was way before GPS. I wonder if there are still “TripTikers” in existence.

**From Encyclopedia.com:

“Juan ‘Chi Chi’ Rodríguez was born on October 23, 1935, in Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico, an impoverished area near San Juan. The fifth of six children, Rodríguez contracted rickets and tropical sprue when he was four years old, both caused by vitamin deficiencies. The illness was nearly fatal and left his bones thin and very sensitive to pressure and pain.

Rodríguez, who often went without shoes, knew pangs of hunger and deprivation. He didn’t own a toothbrush until he was a teenager, and brushed his teeth with soap and his finger or a piece of charcoal. Despite prohibitive poverty, his father, who worked 16-hour days cutting sugar cane and never made more than $18 a week, instilled in Rodríguez a deep sense of commitment to helping others. Many times Rodríguez saw his father, although hungry himself, share with an unknown child or family who, he said, needed it more. Rodríguez never forgot.

Despite his slight size, just five-foot seven inches tall and 130 pounds, Rodríguez had incredible hand-eye coordination, even as a child. He could hit rocks and bottle caps pitched at him with a stick, and he became an expert at using a broomstick to hit bats that would fly into the house. According to the Latino Sports Legend website, he ‘learned how to play golf with clubs fashioned out of guava trees and tin cans hammered into balls.’ By the time Rodríguez stepped up to his first game of real golf, he could hit the tin-can ball more than one hundred yards.”

 

 

 

Journal to Clarity

Although this blog has become sort of a “go-to” journal, I still find that putting an actual pen to actual paper keeps me honest. Oh sure, I can always rip out pages I don’t like, but it’s like breaking a deal with myself. I do however admit to burning up all the journals I wrote when I was married to “wasband #1” because my entries were not truthful. They depicted a life I wanted to have but didn’t. Even after nearly 20 years, those journals just didn’t ring true and I realized they weren’t worth saving.

So—why journal? I do it because having the written words on paper gives me an authenticity I enjoy–and can’t deny. For example, this weekend I am attending a wonderful two-day seminar called “Letting It Go.” It was strongly suggested to all of us who are attending that we do two things prior to showing up for the seminar:

  • Recognize that feelings are going to be stirred up big time in mental preparation for this seminar. We may or may not find we are anxious, angry, upset, weepy, worried; all to be ready for the clearing to come.
  • Keep a journal of what is going on in our heads and hearts. (This will also be the journal I will take with me to the seminar.)

This time, I am keeping a journal filled with what is on my mind and heart and not treating the journal as if other people will read it. Keeping a journal is a way for me to stay honest and keep things real for me. At this stage of my life, I am pretty dang sure that I am none of the following:

  • a saint
  • another Mother Theresa
  • a flawless person
  • a constant giver and listener
  • a constant inspiration

Realizing all that, my journals are for me and my own progress; no one else. But I do know that I am trying to be the best me I can be. Keeping a journal helps; it keeps me honest and it reminds me that while I am not perfect, I am doing what I can to be better. And right now, “better” is not bad at all. Here is what else I know about keeping a journal: splurge a little. Get yourself a nice-looking journal (mine has kitties all over it), and a really, really good pen. Trust me, it makes a difference.

Oh, yes, and don’t judge yourself when you write. Just WRITE. I hope that you find your own thoughts on paper as clarifying as I find mine.

P.S. Don’t be afraid to doodle in the journal, too! I do it all the time.