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Monday, November 24, 2014

If the Trailer's Rockin

It's been a while since I’ve blogged. Why? Well, let’s just say that my life has radically shifted—everything shakable has been thoroughly shaken. (Thank you God/universe/big bang/karma/my own stupidity.) I won’t go into the gritty details, not in this paragraph anyway, but let me just say that life hasn’t turned out according to my script. You might want to put on a bib because writing about this could get really messy.

Soooo, 57 is a stable age. Right? One would think that my 401K would be locked and loaded, my mortgage paid off, my credit rating stellar, and my vacations well planned…I’m imagining annual treks with bffs, sharing morning mimosas, toasting our lifetime achievements.

Surely by now I should be self assured or at least pretty-damn-sure…breezing about in trendy linen clothing, taking a bit of Botox to soften the years, laughing too loudly at parties, and hosting family gatherings, where grand kids tumble across my expansive lawn, parading about in red white and blue gingham, proving that my life has been fruitful, my heritage proud.

It seems a woman of a certain age should be both financially and personally stable. At least that’s the message the media has been powdering my arse with forever, triggering a discontented itch—causing me to crave a much younger, thinner, richer version of myself, thus suffering for years over what I’m not—thinking if I only had the accessories I would be happy.

Oh. My. Gawd. Somebody give me a lobotomy so I don’t think like this any more! I wasn’t born to perfect my resume, decorate the house, or buy into the herd mentality that a good life should match your high dollar sofa. I wasn’t born to amass an acre of stuff so that my kids can sell it off like the pulled gold teeth of a cadaver. I was born to experience life not promote capitalism.

I was born to overcome the scary, and the ouch, of my youth. I was born to grow brave enough to question everything so that I can figure out who I am, and then perhaps help others to see who they are too. But mostly I was born to love, and then, whether I like to admit it or not, to die.

Yes die. That’s the natural way of this world and I am tired of death being presented as some sort of evil surprise. Of course I speak of old folks dying, not of the young. When a young person dies the loss is stunning, and the grief wider than the echoes of eternity, because their experience here was cut off, and we miss them, but for the rest of us old farts, death is our ticket to renewed vitality. Be a little more appreciative.

I always thought that the two paths spoken about in Stairway to Heaven, and all those other songs and stories, were heaven and hell, but now I know that the two paths are truth and lies. I’ve believed too many of the lies, and the scary stories that sprang from them, which caused me to lose touch with myself. For most of my life I didn’t know how to live it. I was struggling with a stringy ball of threads, pieces of fears and fables collected over the years, none of them long enough to knit a mitten of truth.

Why bother writing about it now?—because if I don’t write I’m going to explode. And now, after some major shifts in my life, I feel a drive to put things on paper. I’m not really sure where to start so I’ll start with this morning, and then weave in and out of the past present and future.

My husband, Mike and I have just moved from our spacious 2500 sq. ft. home to a 300 sq. ft. trailer, which has been permanently parked on a jungly lot behind a big house, and although I’m thrilled to be able to finally hang a sign on my door that says, “if the trailer’s rockin’ don’t come knockin’” I’m a bit squeamish with the whole ordeal…sort of like the way you feel when you first try canned tuna fish…yuck—wait for it—wait for it—YUM! Well, I’m still waiting for the yum.

Our decision to move into this tuna can wasn’t much of a decision; it was actually our only option if we wanted to stay in Florida and live independently. Our home was in foreclosure, and because of our stinky credit rating (due to said foreclosure), rental agents were holding their noses and crossing the street when they saw us coming. When this little trailer hit our radar at the 11th hour we jumped at the opportunity like a couple of greedy seagulls on a Mc-fry. The universe had finally spoken! We felt lucky to have it and still do.

Right now I’m typing at my booth. I have to sit center in the seat as the flooring is a wee bit soft in places, and lord knows what a pain in the ass it would be to fall through the floor before my first cup of coffee. Anyway, sitting in a booth makes me feel like I’m in a diner. I keep waiting for, Flo to refill my coffee.

The best thing about living in this tiny trailer is that nothing is too far away: bathroom, refrigerator, TV, pepper spray…they’re all within 10 steps of my centrally located booth. The worse thing about living in a tiny trailer is that everything is so close that it makes me to feel claustrophobic and off balance. I already have a collection of interesting bruises from bumping into shit. One looks remarkably like Jesus with an Afro, and I’ve spent half the morning trying to figure out how one would sell a bruise on Ebay.

Back to gratitude…we are to the moon and back grateful to be here, in a trailer home of our own, and even though my 4lb Chihuahua causes it rock like Elvis when she changes positions, and the only place to put our big screen TV was at the foot of our bed, so that my husband spends most of his spare time in a cinematic coma, nesting like a pin-eyed pigeon on a drive-in movie screen, we are extremely thankful to have our own little space in the jungle.

Happy Thanksgiving America, and to the rest of you...Happy Everything!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Winging it

I always sensed that something vital was missing from my life. Was it a person? A situation? God? I wasn’t sure, but I automatically looked outside of myself for answers, which, if I were to write a book on how to give your power away, would be titled, ‘Looking Outside of Yourself for Answers.'

I’ve spent my entire life dodging the shadows and measurers, those who delight in defining others. I’ve feared God, myself, and the future—flinching each time life made a quick move.

I’ve wrestled with the meaning of life, invested myself in the study of death, and tried using crazy glue to reconstruct the ashes of 10,000 yesterdays.

As a child I had a fascination with birds, always wishing I could fly high above the stained sidewalks of my gritty life, so high that the stains blurred into bunnies and well kept gardens, seeing the entire scope of existence all at once and finally “getting” it.

Well, after wearing down countless pair of shoes I’ve discovered that I do indeed have wings, and the joy that this discovery has brought into my life is unmatchable.

My wings are the knowledge that everything that I’ve ever needed to live a full, and authentic, life already resides within me, and that the best way to express this life is through bold creativity. Creativity is the voice of my soul, where inspiration becomes conception and concentration flows into timeless meditation.

Actually, I was about 51-years-old when I first discovered my wings, and began writing my first novel, Cosette’s Tribe, and I was 56 before I put brush to canvas, expressing joy through color, so it is never too late to begin.

But oh how tragic it would have been if I had never discovered my wings, and had spent my days anchored to my own limited stories, or even worse, bowing to someone else’s image of me in order to win their love and approval, never becoming brave enough to fly.

Genuine love coaxes us to open our wings. It challenges us to try new things, hushing shame and judgment, while inspiring us to leave our fearful little nests and launch our hearts into the endless blue.

Flying is a practice, and it requires lots of room, so give your wings the space they need to fully open. Breathe. Embrace your magic, and remember my dear one…you were formed from stardust and love; believe the rumors of your greatness.

Wing it!

Monday, April 14, 2014

The Kid Got to Me

I met a girl, 17 and lean—her feet pointing inward, causing knees to bump foreheads as she spoke of her future plans—describing dreams as distant as the milky spills of new galaxies, pale against the pitch black uncertainty of the universe.

I found myself bowing to her naiveté, discovering a bit of my younger self in her newly set eyes. To be so eager and unafraid, like a rocket launching for the first time, piercing the conditioned “you cant’s", and the "don’t you dares” rocking life like a bubble-wrapped renegade from mom and dad’s front porch.

When she told me that she wanted to write books I knew that she had suffered. Only the scarred would dare to write, to make sense of, or at least to look at, the entrails of life. I wanted to pry, to find out why this perfect little prom princess would want to write books. What had happened to make her look inwardly, away from the rockets and the blistering pink of youth? But of course I’ll have to wait and see. Perhaps she’ll be a literary star, or pen cookbooks featuring a thousand ways to use cranberries. I don’t know.

I only know that the kid got to me.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Run Like Hell!

Humans can be porcupinish in nature. You get too close and their adrenaline kicks in, triggering a panicky spray of barbed quills, homing in on your most vulnerable places, usually the face and eyes.

And why would one place their face so close to a human? Because of love and friendship of course. Because someone has to take the risk, step in deep, show their soul, and because one is willing to believe the best, for the conflict exists only within the mind of the porcupine, who cautiously welcomes you in, keeping the quills slicked-back, until you request some authenticity in return, which is perceived as a massive threat, thus triggering the impulsive attack.

And there it is lying on top. It’s always on top. The oily stain of “that should teach you”. But it rarely does, for the heart is both predatory and pollyanna, risking all for the hunt and the soul softening hug of answered friendship.

Sometimes I want to hide from people, and at other times I want to spray them with some of my own quills, but mostly I just want to love them.

How do you hug a porcupine? Bravely and wholeheartedly, expecting nothing in return, while being prepared to run like hell.

Love bears the scars of trying.

Leah Griffith

Thursday, February 27, 2014

I Left a Hot Pot of Coffee for This?

It's early, and eerie, and I’m getting goose flesh as my morning walk leads me into some really dense fog. I have to push myself across the threshold of hesitation, for who knows what lurks in this heavy haze? And to think, I left a hot pot of coffee for this.

Each day is a gamble, but most days, I’m bright blue with optimism—the sky is mine, as is the sun and the moon. But on foggy mornings, when my faithful witnesses have vanished, and the familiar markers of life have morphed into storybook giants, angry she-bears, and spiky plants with mean points waiting to poke out my eyes, how do I motivate myself to keep moving? Do I continue on only because walking backwards is impossible?

I’m amazed at the amount of faith I have in the moment—this flash of now that calls itself life and holds everything with such casual tension, often disarming me by droning on and on like a monotone math teacher, and then shifting my world with sudden brilliance like so many stars kaleidoscoping from heaven.

I move forward, trusting that the odds are indeed allies.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Cupid Must Think I'm Stupid!

Valentine’s schmalentine’s, who gives a crap? Is this day just for daters and maters or for the general population? I’ve been married 35 years and I’ve yet to get a valentine gift. Of course I’m not the type to make a fuss. I like to silently seethe.

Actually, I come from Worcester County, which happens to be the home of the first Valentine. I think I should be demanding preferential Valentine treatment. And I would, if I thought it would do any good.

In grade school we used to exchange cute little cartoon Valentines. Do they still do that or is it considered sexual harassment? I used to be in love with a kid named Stephen Sweet, and man was he sweet! Of course he loved Phyllis what’s her name, and not me. But each year I would savor the fleeting intimacy between Stephen and I as he placed a tiny white envelope on my desk….” I was always hoping for this:

But I got this instead:

So you see, my Valentine expectations were lowered long ago, and since then I've learned to lower them even more still.

I no longer hope for roses, perfume, romantic dinners, and expensive chocolates, but make due with, yard trimmings, deoderant, Marie Calendar’s in-home menu, and thanks to my new cardiac diet, red Jello.

I’ve come to believe that Cupid has a nasty side, sparking inappropriate relationships for hundreds of years, getting our sappy little hopes up, only to have love blow up in our faces or go as flat as a couch potato’s ass.

Cupid doesn’t mention that love has stinky feet, hogs the blankets, burps louder than a marching band, and thinks that a night out is putting on a clean shirt and eating dinner in front of the TV.

So, I finally get it. If this girl wants a memorable Valentine’s Day she’s got to create it for herself. No more waiting for hubby to sweep me off my feet (or to sweep the front porch for that matter). I’m taking this holiday into my own capable hands!

Ha! Cupid must think I’m stupid!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

A Soft Surrender

I was taking my usual walk
when I noticed a fallen leaf on the grassy path ahead.
I couldn't help but feel a pinch of pity
wondering if this leaf knew that it was dying.

I paused
waiting for the rise and fall
a faint pulse
but the leaf remained motionless
staring into the dappled underbelly of a former life.

Could it see the flitting birds above
whose cares blended well with green?

And what of the greedy squirrels
dropping acorns as they ran
the soft thuds of a midwinter snack
was it jealous of them?

I remained still
pondering this gentle slip of gold
wishing it would somehow rage against the inevitable
maybe catch a swift breeze
ride it higher than blue.

While wondering about all these things
I respectfully snapped a photo.

Upon viewing the simple image...

I realized
that I knew this leaf very well.