Sometimes you just have to STOP!

Traveling with Dad meant riding by his rules. He was the driver, so it was his way or the highway…no pun intended. Dad’s rule? Once we left the driveway, we drove until we stopped for the night, needed gas or reached our destination. Whichever came first.

To accommodate Dad’s militaristic travel missions Mom would pack lunches, snacks, cold drinks and, just in case, a pee jar.

One summer vacation, several hours into our car ride west, after a picnic lunch traveling at top speed and a much coveted bottle of cold Coke, only allowed on trips and special Friday nights, I had to pee. Dad never broke speed, his one hand on the steering wheel, the other holding a cigarette, his elbow hanging out the opened window.

Mom moved into action. She was on pee duty. She knew the drill and she didn’t seem to mind. Perhaps it was a little distraction to the monotony of Route 80 or perhaps she considered her options. Supervise and assist her 6 year old daughter peeing into a jar or let me do it myself and take our chances on my aim.

She climbed over the front bench seat of our white Rambler Station Wagon with the agility of a gymnast, pee jar in hand. She settled in between my brother and I and opened the repurposed Hellman’s Mayonnaise jar. I also knew the drill and dutifully went along with this absurdity.  After all, what did I know? I assumed cars came equipped with pee jars, just like AM/FM radios and power steering.

I filled the jar. I felt very much relieved, I had an empty bladder and had peed as successfully as my brother. I hadn’t spilled a drop.

Mom’s approach to waste removal was to toss the contents of the jar out of the window. I guess the number of fluid ounces of a mayo jar would not accommodate the entire trip with two kids aboard. I always wondered about the car behind us when mom did this. I think I asked about this once. I don’t remember if anyone answered. With all the car windows open it was hard to hear each other, so we didn’t talk much. I am not sure what our reason was for the same behavior at home.

So mom positioned herself for another successful toss. But, for some reason, this time, instead of throwing it out of my window, she reached into the front seat and threw it out of her window. Aerodynamics forced my still warm pee back through my open window where Mom and I unsuspectingly sat. We were drenched.

This was not supposed to happen. No one said a word.

Dad pulled over.

Sometimes you just have to stop!

XO
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Will you make the coffee…sweetie pie?

Tom and I drink our coffee in bed each morning. We use this time to talk about the day ahead, plan vacations, up date grocery lists, book get-togethers with friends, finish fights from the day before or sit quietly saying nothing. It is our morning ritual.

We take turns making the coffee. He likes his coffee stronger and with more caffeine than I do, so we custom blend our freshly ground beans, using separate ceramic cones, to make our first cup of morning joe.IMG_0026

This morning was my turn.

I put the water on, filled the cones with precise scoops of caffeine to decaf ratios, filled our mugs with hot tap water to warm them — something I learned from my dad — and sat down to meditate.

Last year, when I was taking my meditation class, I meditated every day. Sometime this year I stopped. I don’t know why, exactly, especially since I felt better when I began each day with mindfulness. Less bugged me, I moved slower and seemed to get more accomplished, and life made more sense in some bigger picture way.

Strange how we drop the things that support us. At least I do.

So recently, while on vacation walking the beach in the early morning, I made a resolution to begin my meditation practice again. I make resolutions two times a year. Once at the New Year and then again on vacation, when I am my-best-relaxed-self.

In keeping with my vacation promise, this morning as the water heated, I sat myself down, straightened my spine, yielded to the chair beneath me and took some slow deep breathes.  I began my meditation practice, again.

My mind cleared.

What a relief!!!

I maintained this for about 3 seconds. Then my to-do list took over. I took another deep breath, found my spine and let go into the chair, again.

So it went for the next 10 minutes.

Mindful awareness. Breathe. Clear mind. Relief.

Then… I need to remember to call about Jena’s student loans. Oh, and I want to get some more flowers for the pots on the deck. And I need to call Susan. I should get up and write this down. No, you are meditating. Don’t get up.

Breathe. Release into the chair. Ahhhh, I love this feeling. I should do it more often.

Do I want to get another dog? I miss having a pet, but none will be like Jeff and we are gone so long during the day, but I think small dogs can be left longer and their poop is smaller, so if they had an accident it is easy to clean up…

OMG. Breathe. Clear mind. Release.

The water kettle began to whistle.

I slowly left my spot, feeling a bit refreshed and proud of myself for following through with my promise-if only mildly successful- and brewed our morning coffee. I carefully carried the full mugs up the steps to the bedroom.

As we sat sipping our coffee, Tom looked over at me and said, “ You look beautiful this morning.”

I startled. “Really?” I asked, aware of my bed head hair, unwashed face, and sleepies in my eyes.

“You’re glowing.”

“Really?” I am not very articulate in the morning.

As I moved through my day, feeling the residue of mediating, I wondered if what Tom was seeing was my few moments of internal quiet, my breath reaching the bottom of my lungs, my bodying giving-in to the support of the chair, and my spine lengthening to open my torso.

I never thought of meditating as a beauty regiment.

It’s another good reason to keep it up.
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The Friends I Paid For

 

I’m on Cape Cod. My first time here was in 4th grade. I was invited to join my childhood friend, Carol Dowd, and her family for their two-week vacation. I was miserably homesick for the first week–then fell in love with the Cape the second. Provincetown is one of my favorite places in the world. I haven’t been to that many worldly places, but I suspect P’town will always remain a top pick.

 

I am here to be with my very dear friends Debbie and Susan. I met them in 1994 when we all showed up at the Gestalt Institute of Cleveland for a two-year training. I call them my $6000.00 friends. That was the amount of the tuition. They were and are well worth every penny…a great investment!

 

Debbie invited Susan and me to come stay with her in Orleans and teach at the Cape Cod Gestalt International Study Center. After considering the offer for a nano-second I said a giant, “YES, I would LOVE to!”

 

The weekend began with Susan’s workshop, Ultimate Self-Care for Women. It was transformative. Susan’s gentle interest and keen eye helped the 6 of us unfold our internal mysteries using meditation, drawing and journaling. I re-remembered I hold everything I need to be the person I want to be. Each time I return home to this knowing I feel relief with a bit of a challenge mixed in. Sometimes I would rather believe the next book I read, class I take, or therapy session I have, will hold my answers. They may all support my return to myself, but what I need is me. Showing up over and over and over for myself. With myself.

 

I also reconnected with the awareness that when I make a judgement I stop hearing or listening to the other person. Hmmm.

 

And I came to the question, “What if this-life-is all just one big experiment?” (Just?)  If so, perhaps there is truly, no right way or wrong way. What if the experiment of life is similar to Edison’s thoughts about his failed light bulb experiments…we now know a thousand ways the light bulb (or life) doesn’t work.

 

As I write this to you I am “retreat relaxed,” sipping red wine at the kitchen island as Susan and Debbie prepare dinner. I am aware that although I am physically hungry, I am so full; with myself, with 3 days of sharing in a group of honest, brave women and with my love for these two women in front of me.

 

I am at home…

 

PS.

On the lighter side…I want to share with you my journey from Boston to the Cape, only a 25-minute plane ride over water in a very small plane. As I walked across the runway, with my 6 fellow passengers, to what looked like a toy plane, it occurred to me that small planes can be dangerous. John Kennedy flashed into my head and I began to consider an alternative mode of travel.

This is Iris. She has NO FEAR….

 

And then I saw Iris. And if Iris could do it I could too.

 

So, I said a prayer and climbed in…

 

As we ascended to a “comfortable cruising altitude”, low enough to see big fish in the water, I thought of all of you, dear readers and how you might find this scene very funny. So I distracted myself from my worry by taking a few pictures to share with you. And I thought if you found my camera floating in the Boston Harbor you would know my last thoughts were of you.

 

Here they are:

I don’t know if my hips will fit through that door…

Shoot. I can’t get my last picture to load onto the post.  So I will tell you about it because next to Iris, it is my favorite. It is a picture of the planes air conditioning system. The pilot is holding his window open…

 

A Honeymoon with a Mental Health Diagnosis

We arrived on Saturday to Playas Las Tortugas. Tom moved right into his comfort zone. I didn’t. While he read and wrote, I sat and stared. I couldn’t settle within myself. I didn’t recognize myself or much else in this unfamiliar place. I knew we were clearly not in Kansas anymore.

 

On Monday Tom read to me, from the AAA Mexico tour book, a description of what can happen to travelers visiting new cultures. It is called Cultural Immersion and Displacement. This was a new construct for me. As he read I realized I was experiencing both. Continue reading

Staycation

I am taking this week off and staying home. A staycation. My spell check hates when I type the word, it wants to correct it. Seems my spell check isn’t the only entity wanting to challenge this breach in normalcy.

While planning this break I ran head long into a nasty belief of mine. It was a surprise attack and left me terrified.  My reptilian mind, the part of my brain that wants me to survive no matter what, informed me of the facts according to it… Continue reading