Monday, April 16th, 2018

Brooding

Boy, it’s hard to stay true to Truth Burping. It’s so tempting to put a good spin on life. And I do have plenty to good spin about. But today the thought that is in my head is “brooding”.I love words. I trust them. I thought maybe I just wanted a break to muse which has a nice meditative quality to it. “Oh, I think I’ll just gently muse about my life. But no, I trust my unconscious and it just won’t let go of “brooding”.

And wouldn’t you know it, the definition is “deep unhappiness of thought”. Darn. Or “feeling sad, worried, or angry for a long time”. Yikes! Where did my joy go? I prefer the definition, “engaged in deep thought”. Some dictionaries focus more on how a person looks rather than how they feel. Merriam Webster talks about being serious and sad. Bingo. I am serious and sad right now. I carry a lot a lot a lot of joy. That’s my default position but I am sad and serious today. Here’s why.

I am not sure how I want to spend my time and that irritation is trumping my joy. Writing (with deadlines) is demanding and takes time. I love it. I love this. This is my truth place. I’m already slipping away from brooding as I write. I love my kids and grandchildren and some live very far away. Mexico is good, very good. We have an entire alternate life here, which takes us away from our other alternate life and home. Reading is essential to my breathing. Lots of reading.

This could be all an embarrassment of riches except for one thing.I have a major deadline approaching that burdens me. It’s called death. (Are we still having fun?) It looms. I have ten more truly productive years—if I want to produce!! Am I morbid? No realistic.

I have always been aware of death from the time that my brother’s fiance’s family were killed in a car accident caused by drunks. Grandparents, parents, nine year old boy, 9 month old baby. One seven year old girl lived as did my brother’s fiancé. This is when I learned to cherish.

I write this on the date my dad died. I forgot thinking about taxes.Then my daughter texts to say my granddaughter had a bad dream about me—that we were in a bouncy house and I went into a section full of light and she tried to follow me but I was gone. Well, then.

I have two projects with deadlines, people wanting to be clients, five grandchildren I enjoy as people, a husband writing a major tome, a million books to read, beauty to relish and grocery shopping to do.

I am brooding but I now kind of smile as I say that.It’s too important sounding. I want to choose how to spend my life energy with careful choice or go totally random and enjoy the ride. But I’ll probably choose a touch more of denial and go my merry way.

The awareness of finite time can be a pain in the—-neck or a gift to stay awake. Not “or” Both.

I have a very funny story about literal brooding of chickens that involves Hubert Humphrey. Later. I’m too busy brooding with the touch of a smile.

 

 

 

 

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Monday, April 9th, 2018

Lovely Pang of Grief

My parents have been dead for twenty-four years. Weird. They had great deaths. And great living.They were quite alive until the very moment of dying. They died easily and within ten days of one another. My mom died on April 5th, my dad on April 15th of the same year.

I have wonderful stories about their deaths—funny and poignant and not terribly sad, which does not mean I was not hit hard. On another day, I will tell the story fully. Today, I’m saying I’m surprised by a wave of grief.

My mom died three minutes after my April 4th birthday so the two milestones are automatically intertwined. Megan’s birthday is three days after the date of my dad’s death. I was just made an officer at Hannaford the year my parents died and never got to tell them.

Some years, I sail right through this crazy first fifteen days of April. Happy, sad, happy, sad, bewildered. This year I have a sharp grief. So I will honor it and be a sad and still.

At their funerals the mantra was, “Oh we had fun.” “Oh we laughed.” I can’t think of a better descant for a life. And I hope, that 24 years after my death, my kids might have a renewed pang of grief missing me.

 

 

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Thursday, February 22nd, 2018

BEING AT HOME IN TWO CULTURES

I have been attneding the San Miguel Writers Conferencebeing at home in two cultures for the past week. It is a side benefit of living  in San Miguel during February when the conference is held. It started thirteen years ago and is now a major big deal. It is a cross-cultural event and highlighted for me the importance of being at home in two cultures.

People from all over the world come and big names speak. I remember when Margaret Atwood spoke a few years ago. The hotel ballroom was packed (3000 people). Margaret was speaking and all of a sudden a deluge of rain closed down the sound system. There was a bang of thunder and lightening and (for whatever reason) the sound came back on full force. Ms. Atwood paused and looked at the ceiling and said, “I just love punctuation!!” The conference is like that.

I had an odd experience this year. My own cross-cultural confusion paralyzed me. I have been speaking primarily Spanish for the past two months. My social relationships have all been with our Mexican neighbors. I was hit hard by the sudden large block of Americans. I was going to say, “wave” but that word is too gentle. I was suddenly reminded of my cross-cultural work within the global company I worked for–The DelHaize Group. The American companies and leaders were surprised and irritated to learn that they were perceived as arrogant, dominant and loud. I have to admit that this was my experience at the conference.

I  felt shoved aside, invisible and ignored. There was no welcoming accessibility. I would have to be aggressive, intrusive and determined to make contact. (That is what Americans might call friendly.) The networking had a frantic quality of quick skimming to check on the value of the person standing or sitting next to you. I was most comfortable with Mexican participants, an Iranian woman, a Swedish woman and a quirky wonderful woman from New Mexico. I had lost my cultural footing.

This is not a new experience for me. I lived in the jungles of Panama with the Teribe Indian tribe for two years followed by a year in Puerto Rico. I was three years away from the United States. My first moment in a grocery store was a crisis. I had a panic attack in the cereal aisle. So many loud colors and choices screaming at me. I did deep breathing and slowly found my way out of the store, to my parents’ house and took to bed for a week.

I soon go from Mexico to Maine for a two week trip for doctors and book publishing work and to see family there. It will be a familiar and gentle trip. But I am on the same cusp I lived with following my Peace Corps experience. Who, what and where is my home base? I have lived on the edge of two cultures for quite some time. My husband has joined San Miguel this year. He writes a column for the local newspaper, has joined the Rotary Club, a kayak club and a Sufi center. (Yes, he is eclectic to put it mildly.) I say ‘no’ to joining in some kind of loyalty to Maine as  my primary connection.

I think of myself as a global citizen. Almost all of us are whether we want to be or not. I don’t think there is any going back to tight, tight, country boundaries—with or without a Mexican boundary wall. And so we/I have to widen the experience of what is “home”. As a global executive, I had to learn to keep all of my worlds alive and real and not shut one off as I traveled. If I didn’t do that, there was hell to pay when I got “home”.

I have been saying too much “no” to keep things simple and my worlds separate. I am coming out of that kind of retirement. I am committing to a larger “yes”—to complexity and complication and cumbersomeness. And to staying very alive, even if uncomfortable and sometimes homesick without knowing for what home. Being at home in two cultures is an essential modern skill with far flung families/tribes connecting and disconnecting often. The cultures don’t have to be exotically different like Maine and Mexico. Think of family differences particulary as kids marry. Think of bi-racial children. Think of The trick is to not shut off one world to be in the other. Being at home in two cultures.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Sunday, February 4th, 2018

Aging Well Takes Energy: Balance is What is Needed

Aging Well Takes Energy

Here is a lovely quote about aging well from an email sent to me by my soul pal. Enjoy
growing older or old is more complicated than i realized. i used to think it was a simple given of life. now i realize that aging well or meaningfully takes energy, like staying upright in knee deep ocean water as the undertow of receding waves strains our ability to stay upright. i must generate the incoming motion in my life.
i look more closely at people my age and see significant diversity. those with enthusiasms and passions seem most vital. those without seem to be shrinking and becoming flattened cartoon caricatures of their former selves. i don’t wish to become larger but neither wish to become one dimensional. for some reason the memory of Borden’s “Elsie, the Contented Cow” comes to mind. contentment is an achievement if it is the result of having a purpose and not the voluntary forfeiture of dynamicism. life without purpose seems like just being Elsie, an inert bovine chewing her cud over and over.
the good news is that every morning is a new opportunity to draft, edit and revise; to realize or learn something i haven’t before; to grow as well as to be. perhaps we are all trapeze artists stepping between solidity on a fine wire with a balancing pole. we place one foot intentionally in front of the other while keeping our eyes focused on what is directly ahead and off the ground far below. maintaining our balance, rather than speed or showmanship, is needed.

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