Tuesday, July 24, 2012

An Ending, A Beginning

video

Classical, instrumental music is where I have found some of my greatest solace in the past 14 months.  Although the music itself has a its own voice that guides you, there are no words to tell you directly what the meaning or purpose is for that particular piece.  I think that is what I appreciate most in my new love of music.  When I listen to Dustin's piano or Yo Yo's cello, my mind can just get lost in the moment.  There are no words to ponder, just music to captivate your mind in the way that you want it to.

When I hear this piece "An Ending, A Beginning" by Dustin O'Halloran, I get caught in the moment of a beautiful, romantic, passionate love affair as the piano and bass compliment one another perfectly.

When choosing an image to place with this piece to share with you, I knew that there was only one that I wanted.  I Googled and searched online, but could not find it.  So, I went to the place where I knew I would find it, my husband's chest with some of his most valued keepsakes.  This Celtic image that I am sharing with you is one that he had tattooed on his chest, above his heart because it reminded him of us.

This song and its title do not remind me that a part of my life has ended and a new chapter has begun.  Instead, like the intricate and infinite image above it all pieces together like a beautiful song.  



Monday, July 23, 2012

The Alchemist

Click on this link to read
quotes from this book.
It was a book that I had heard of before.  I wasn't sure what it was about exactly but that it was known worldwide.  For some reason though, a couple of years ago when I first wanted to read this book, I never did.

Friday, I noticed it on the table in Barnes and Noble and I was reminded of how that was a book that for some reason, I had wanted to read some time ago.  I bought it and read it...wow.

This is not one of those books where summarizing the plot and giving my opinions would do it any justice.  It is one of those books that you read for you and you alone and take all that you can from it.  But I do just have to say a bit about it...

This book is about finding yourself, your true self and the journey and courage it takes to do so.  It is about fate and destiny and free will and choice.  It's about paying attention to the little things, trusting your gut, being honest with yourself, and having faith.  This is a very spiritual book and I think the reason that it is so popular worldwide is that it can speak to anyone regardless of their religious affiliations.

One of the messages given is of love, love towards another person.  I couldn't help but to be reminded of my last post "Something Beautiful" and what The Bishop of London had spoke about love in his sermon at The Royal Wedding.  There were many similarities among the book and the sermon and whether or not the sermon was inspired by this book, it is beautiful nonetheless.

In keeping with the theme of The Alchemist, I believe that I found, bought, and read this book at precisely the right moment for me to do so.  I don't think it would have had the impact on me had I read it two years ago.  I was in an entirely different situation two years ago and I was a very different person as well.  I am not only looking for love and to love again.  I am also looking for what is right for me in terms of where I live and what I do and I am fully aware of all of the options that I have.  More so than anything else, I have searched for a reason, a purpose in all that has happened.  A while back I wrote about the last step in my healing, which I don't feel I have quite reached yet and that is to use my experience and knowledge for a greater purpose.  What that is, I am not yet sure.  Perhaps now is the time for me to find that as well.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Something Beautiful


I believe that the love between a husband and wife should be like no other.  It should be a safe place where you can completely let go and let all of your guards down.  It should be a place where your beauty shines like no other and all of your imperfections diminish because of their irrelevancy.  It should be a place where you find yourself happiest because you are your true self and you are at home.  And for all of those reasons, it is a place where you constantly want to evolve, to change and to grow so that you can continue to give back to your love what they are giving to you… Joy.  Bliss.  Happiness. 


When William and Kate got married last year, I didn't wake up early to watch it.  I didn't DVR it.  But, I did turn on the television as I got ready for work and I did so at the most perfect of moments, the sermon.  I say that not because I am a religious person.  I am not committed to a particular religion, but I do believe.  I believe that there is a higher presence.  I believe there is something... more.

I found the sermon to be something absolutely beautiful. It captured the essence of what makes a marriage truly intimate and profound and I believe that had it not have had a spiritual presence, the words wouldn't have been as powerful.

This link will take you directly to the full sermon given by the Bishop of London if you are so inclined to read it entirely.  However, I just want to post some of the words that I found to be most beautiful.
  • "Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire." So said St Catherine of Siena whose festival day it is today. Marriage is intended to be a way in which man and woman help each other to become what God meant each one to be, their deepest and truest selves. 
  • A spiritual life grows as love finds its centre beyond ourselves. Faithful and committed relationships offer a door into the mystery of spiritual life in which we discover this; the more we give of self, the richer we become in soul; the more we go beyond ourselves in love, the more we become our true selves and our spiritual beauty is more fully revealed. 
  • In marriage we are seeking to bring one another into fuller life. It is of course very hard to wean ourselves away from self-centredness. And people can dream of doing such a thing but the hope should be fulfilled it is necessary a solemn decision that, whatever the difficulties, we are committed to the way of generous love. 
  • Marriage should transform, as husband and wife make one another their work of art. It is possible to transform as long as we do not harbour ambitions to reform our partner. There must be no coercion if the Spirit is to flow; each must give the other space and freedom. 
  • As we move towards our partner in love, following the example of Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit is quickened within us and can increasingly fill our lives with light.
    This leads to a family life which offers the best conditions in which the next generation can practise and exchange those gifts which can overcome fear and division and incubate the coming world of the Spirit, whose fruits are love and joy and peace. 


Regardless of your religious beliefs or lack thereof, I hope that you can find the beauty in these words.  More importantly, I hope that you can find the beauty in the person with whom you have chosen to share your life with.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Runner

video

The title of this musical piece is "Runner" and it has become one of my favorites by Dustin O'Halloran.  This picture was taken at the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens about two weeks ago.  I was sitting on a bench, listening to Dustin, attempting to read, but my gaze was on the flower garden and my thoughts were wandering elsewhere. I was thinking about the process of moving on and how difficult of a process it is.

The hardest part is just accepting the fact that you have to move on whether you want to or not.  There's no choice... you either move on with someone new or you move on alone.  In just a few months last year, I feel as though I learned a lifetime of lessons.  There were lessons learned from the experiences that were happening in those very moments as well as lessons learned by reflecting on the past and learning from it with a new found knowledge and perspective.  However, now that I have all of this knowledge and insight, how do I use it?  I'm a thinker and an analyzer to begin with, I fear that I am over thinking even more and am making this process that much more difficult.

Finding someone new.  It's a process.  It's not one that I am really enjoying.  I've gone on a few dates and they have been nice.  I would say that they were positive experiences but they just didn't have the potential to be any more than that one time date.  I am not so sure about online dating.  It's not that I don't believe it can work (my sister met her husband online!) and it's not that I am embarrassed to be (attempting to) date online.  The sorting out process is just very tedious and can be disheartening. There are times when I wonder why so and so didn't respond back to me and at the same time I am wondering how on earth Mr. X feels like we would be a good match (when so and so could very well be thinking the same thing about me, lol).  Then there are the ones who write nonsense and awful pick up lines that make you want to gag and then there are the ones who seem very sweet but try as you might, you just can't ever imagine yourself becoming physically attracted to that person (and then that makes you feel guilty and shallow, even though physical attraction is a very important piece).  Agh!

I wish I could meet someone randomly, like on a bench over looking the ocean... (Maine, although that didn't end well... Cold, Cold Maine, lol).  However, most of the time I am with my son and as cute as he is, he's just not a man-gnet.  I understand though, when I see a man with a child, I assume he has a wife at home and it's just awkward to ask if him if he's single.  When I am not with my son... I don't know.  Maybe I need to make the first move (I initiated all of the meet ups that I have had or had planned on having online), ugh!  My friend suggested taking a ballroom dancing class or something along those lines to meet someone in an activity I have some interest in.  I have yet to do anything along those lines, so I know I can't complain too much.

I have been told by many people to date or to go on as many dates as I can.  I can see the logic in that, but I can also so the weariness of that as well.  I didn't date when I was younger and I know I missed out on some experiences (learning and otherwise) by not.  However, I know myself better now and I think that means more than anything else.  And the thing about me is that if I found the next one right away, it wouldn't bother me in the least.  I would rather be at home drinking wine, playing backgammon and watching an old movie on AMC with someone than to be out on another first date.

I need to learn how to enjoy the process more and to appreciate it for what it is.  The funny thing is that I am not in a rush to meet someone or to get remarried for that matter.  However, I do miss feeling connected with someone very much.  Another thing that I learned is that you can't force things to happen as well.  There are good people, bad people, and the right one out there.  I'm not worried about not identifying the ones that are bad for me.  I am worried about not being able to distinguish a good person from the right person because I think the lines are very blurred and many of us find ourselves with good people that may not necessarily lead to true happiness.  As I keep on saying, I want amazing.  So like a runner, I need to remain persistent (and positive) so that I never just settle.  And perhaps I was swayed by the title of the music, but it seemed to fit my thoughts almost seamlessly.

Monday, July 16, 2012

15 Years

My 15 year class reunion was held a couple of weeks ago.  First off, OMG... I am that old!  Second, I actually did attend and I had a great time, a really great time!

My best friend and I actually had to talk ourselves into going.  We didn't go to our 10 year reunion and that didn't bother either of us.  I wouldn't say that my high school years were awful.  I was active in sports playing year round in soccer, softball, and basketball.  I was on the student council and the honor society, woo hoo.  But, I wouldn't say that my high school years were great either.  I had some close friends, friends from my teams, and just random people friends, but there was just something... lacking.?.  Or maybe I didn't feel like I truly fit in (big surprise?)

So why did I go?  At first I thought that there was no way I was going to go because of all that had happened with my husband.  I felt that reunions were places where everyone caught up on the last x amount of years of their lives, showed off, etc, etc, etc.  So I didn't want to subject myself to questions and give answers to people that, for the most part, I haven't seen in 15 years.  But, I decided to go for two reasons.  First one being that part of my healing process was to accept what has happened.  It is part of my life story and one that I am not ashamed of.  I am not ashamed of my husband or the life that we lived together for nearly as many years as I have been out of high school.  The second reason was that my best friend would be there with me.  She has been one of my main supports not only throughout the past year, but for the nearly 20 years I have known her.  

My graduating class had about 130 graduates.  There were only about 30-40 of us at the reunion and what a great group of people they were.  The conversations were casual, no one was "showing off" (like they do in the movies), and there were no probing questions.  I know that some people knew already that my husband had passed away (not sure if they knew how) and only 2 people made a comment to me about my husband because they knew I was married and they were both extremely shocked and sympathetic when I told them.  Neither of them asked any further questions.  

We had a great dinner and great conversations.  After dinner we went bar hopping, yup I did!  My best friend and I hit the dance floor and stayed there all night.  It was a hot, sticky night and there was no AC, so we were both a hot, sticky mess on the dance floor, but we didn't care.  We were tearing it up (or so we thought)!  And I had a awesome night!  Thank you DHS Class of '97! :)

Sunday, July 15, 2012

An Old Friend

When I was young I used to have pen pals.  I remember signing up somewhere and receiving this list in the mail of other kids who had also signed up for a pen pal and how excited I was about it.  There was even a book series called "Pen Pals" and you could send away for a pen pal with them, which I did.  I had pen pals from Italy, Norway, Australia, Ghana, and the United States.  I did not have them all at the same time, and the correspondences all lasted for different amounts of time as well.  But I had one that was my favorite, she was from Italy.  We wrote the most and for the longest period of time.  I feel as though I was around 10 years old when we started.  I know that by the time I was in high school our correspondence was fading until eventually we stopped altogether.  I do remember that my pen pal contacted me in college and we went back and forth a few times, but we didn't stick to it.

Last week, my dear old friend from Italy found me on Facebook!  I can't even tell you how that made my day.  I was truly so happy that she found me (and funny that I never thought of looking her up) as she had to do some digging.  I go by my married last name only on Facebook and she only knew me by my maiden name.  She said that she remembered my brother's name and found me through his list of friends.

She looks great, just as I remembered her!  She is still living in Italy, in the same city she grew up in.  However, she is an author.  It's hard to get any information about her from her Facebook page because it's all in Italian, lol.  But we did write a couple of messages to one another to "catch up" a bit.

It's funny... you never know who is out there thinking about you.  I think we all underestimate the impact that we can have on one an other's lives.  I am sure that she didn't think that she would have made me smile and beam the way I was when I saw her and that she really did make my day, but she did.  She brought back happy, innocent childhood thoughts and memories.  I guess I have Facebook (???) to thank for that. :)

Precious Moments

It is not that often and it is very random, but over the course of the past 14 months, my husband has appeared to me in my sleep.  I have to admit that there have been times that I wished so badly to see him and there have been times when I had thought about him so much on a particular day that I felt that my mind would incorporate him somehow in my dreams.  However, all the wishes nor the thoughts ever produced an appearance.

I have chosen the word appearance purposely because there have been three ways in which my husband has appeared to me.  One is in a dream.  In all of the dreams that I have had, I am fully aware that he has died, but in the dream the death didn't really happen.  In most cases, it was faked for one reason or another and I am always relieved that it's not true and angry that I was put in such agony in grieving.  The second appearance I call a visit.  These just feel different than a dream.  I haven't had too many of these, but the feeling that I have both during and after the visit makes me feel like he came to me, to see me, to visit.  The third of these appearances are also a visit, however, it's me that has gone to see him.  During my visits, I am again aware that he is dead, but I am also very aware of time and that there is not much of it. I have only had one these, until today.  Until today, there has never been any verbal communication between the two of us.  I have spoken to him, but he has never spoken back to me, until today.

I wasn't planning on taking a nap today, but for some atypical reason my son couldn't fall asleep on his own so I joined him, he in his crib and me on the bed in his room.  I remember when I first started to waken, how I was on my stomach, forehead in the pillow, body straight and stiff.  When I fully awoke I rolled over to a more comfortable side position and from somewhere a tear rolled down my cheek.  That's when I started to remember all that happened while I slept.  As I recalled the bits and pieces, it started to make me cry.  However, the lines and creases that my face makes when I cry felt too familiar.  My eyes felt as if they had already been wet.  I noticed that they felt heavy too and then I finally realized that I had a headache as well.  I know what it fells like to cry a little and a lot.  When I woke up, I cried just a bit.  It wasn't enough to make my body feel the aches of crying a lot, which is how I felt.  I laid there for about thirty minutes trying to recall as much as I could and trying to make sense of everything.  The physical state that I was in fit cohesively with what happened in my sleep.  I remember what I feel are just bits and pieces of my visit.  I do not recall how it began or even how it ended and I am uncertain of the sequence as well, but this is what I do remember...

It was summer and I was standing on the ground, below a house, which reminded of the homes in the Outer Banks, where they are raised to avoid the water and flooding.  I feel as if this house was ours and I could see my husband, he was wearing a red polo and jeans and I feel as if there was an older lady talking to us, but more so to my husband as I didn't recognize her or recall any details about her.  There were flowers and gardens around the house and that's what my husband was working on.  Our son was also in the dream, here and there.  He was interacting with his father, playing and laughing, nothing out of the ordinary.  I remember being now in the back yard which reminded me more of an English  garden with brick pathways and lots of shade from the trees.  The tress couldn't keep all of the sun out as its rays found their way in.  I remember sobbing.  Terribly.  I remember my husband noticing and looking concerned.  Then I remember sitting on chairs together in the garden and looking at his face.  I remember reaching out to touch it.  I remember the heartache I felt because I knew that I was in a moment with him, just a moment.  I knew it wasn't going to last, but he didn't.  I don't recall my exact words, but I remember telling him that he's not in our future.  He didn't believe me and stood up and began to walk away.  I got up and followed him.  He knew the how, but didn't know it happened.  He turned to me and said, "You know how to stop it," as if we had time traveled to the past and could redo things.  My reply was, "I didn't know." Whether it was the past tense that I used or the look on my face, but he understood.  We held each other and cried.  I remember asking him if there was anything that he wanted to tell us, anything that we should know.  Our son was with us again and standing close enough to his father so that his hand was on his head and he could touch his face, although I didn't see my son's face throughout this entire visit. He said that he was so happy to be our son's father for the short period of time that he had with him.  He also said that he wanted our son to have a happy family.  When he said this, it was as if I could feel these words and their genuinity.  A small picture frame appeared as he said these words, near our knees and I don't know where it appeared from, but in this picture was me, my son, and other man that I didn't see, but I knew that it wasn't my husband.  I don't know if this was the true end to the visit or how we said goodbye if we did because that's all that I remember.

My dream did continue on because what I remember next was that my son and I were on the roof of our house.  I am not sure if it was the same house as in the first part, but being on the roof made me feel as if we were home, in NYC.  However, this rooftop was bizarre.  There was a fence on two sides of the house to prevent anyone from falling off.  However, the third side of the house had a hill that allowed people to walk from the ground level to the rooftop.  And there were people walking up.  I remember and older lady with a young girl walking up.  I recall wondering why people where walking up to my roof and then I wondered why the lady didn't bring the girl over to my son's swing.  There were tarred paths on the roof and the roof was made up mainly of flower gardens and it was very shady as this roof reached up to the thickest part of the treetops.  The fourth side of the house, well... I don't know if there was one because it seemed to go on forever as if my rooftop was a park and my home like a hobbit's.  I remember feeling the need to walk to the far end with my son and I want to say to catch a bus.  However, I do not recall ever walking out there with him and that's all that I remember from that part of my dream.

A visit, a dream, call it what you will, but it stuck with me all day.  I am sure it's lasting effect will keep me company tomorrow as well.  My head and my eyes felt awful for the rest of the day.  I cried hard and for long periods in my dream, but I must have been in real time as well.  I didn't wake my son, atleast I don't think I did, but those physical effects were not imagined.  At first, it was nice for me to see him again as I don't have these dreams and visits as often as I would like.  However, thinking about what I had to tell him and some other things are making me try to avoid analyzing my dream and just taking it for what it was and most importantly what he said to me.  His words, the first spoken to me, about our son.  Twenty months... that's all the time they had with one another.  Those moments truly were precious just as the moments in this visit were precious for me.



Friday, July 13, 2012

Sweet Home...Ala...bama!?!

I just got back from a week and a half of a mini-vacation which included a week in my hometown, which is no, not in Alabama.  However, this post's title was inspired by the Reese Witherspoon movie, rather than the song.

Overall, I had a great time and it was really nice to stay for a whole week, which I cannot remember doing since... my college days??? However, it turned out to be an interesting week as well...

I am from a small city with a population of about 12,000 people.  It's a place where everyone knows everyone and everything, or so they think, lol.  The first two days back "home" was refreshing.  My parents' house is quiet.  They have some land, a vegetable garden, and a few flower gardens.  My son loved it as he was able to channel the inner farmer in him.  My son also adores my father and had a blast spending so much time with him.

I busied myself with going to the salon, a play date, my nephews' baseball game, Zumba, fireworks, 80's music and dancing at the pier, the beach, shopping, a house party, a family reunion, and my class reunion, phew!

Although I was quite busy, by the time Wednesday rolled around, (I was there Sunday to Sunday) I was starting to feel that old feeling of being out of place all over again.  That refreshing and relaxing feeling that I felt surrounded by for the first few days was fading, and quickly.  The longer I was there, the more people I saw.  The more people I saw, the more gossip I heard.  The more gossip I heard, the more I formed opinions about those being gossiped on and the ones telling me all the drama.  And most of this was coming from my family (I have a big one, with lots of cousins!)!  I have always thought differently than the "others" and I think that's partially why I left and never really came back.

However, as the week went on, I started to think things over in a different way.  Feeling different is very isolating.  I have spent a great amount of time finding differences between myself and others and focusing on that to the point where I did isolate myself and it's a lonely place that I do not want to revisit.  So, I started to think about connections and commonalities that I have with different people.   And you know what, it worked!  I was more social, less judgemental, and just happier.  As I thought about this more, I feel like I have done the same thing in other areas of my life, in particular, my lunch group at work.  I am much closer to those colleagues now than I was just months ago.  And it is because I looked for commonalities to build on rather than differences to divide.

There will always be differences among people.  That is a given.  What I am looking for in any relationship is for genuine commonalities.  I am not going to pretend anything to fit in and I don't expect and want anyone else to do the same.  I think finding myself in this past year has helped me to achieve this mindset.  That and my father told me that I had the most sense out of everyone in the family.  Thanks dad... hope that pays off!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Hysteria

Last week I went to a theatre and saw Hysteria, an indie movie.  It's a British movie and you know my love affair for all things British, lol.  But besides that, it was really good.  It took place in England in the 1880's and was about... you guessed it, female hysteria.

I have to admit that I was familiar with the diagnosis of this "ailment" however, I was not aware of the practices used to help relieve women of it.  I cannot imagine going to my doctor and having my pelvic massaged to help relieve me of my "hysteria"... OMG!!  This movie does explore this, but does so as... discretely(??) as it can.  However, that only adds to the comedy of the movie and makes it that much more... enjoyable.  This movie also leads to the invention of the vibrator.  I'm not sure who was more thrilled though, the patients or the doctors.

So why am I posting about this movie?  Well, I think it's worth viewing.  But, more so than that, it lends itself nicely to the 50 Shades of Grey phenomenon.  This is what I find so baffling... I know that women are fully capable of cheating.  However, I feel as though I hear so much more about men, men in general being cheaters, dogs, playing games (etc., etc., etc.) and sex seems to be burning at the very core of all this extracurricular activity.  Yet at the same time women are finding something very lacking as well as it's women who are clearing the shelves of 50 Shades and then comparing their sex lives and husbands/partners to Christian Grey, and going out to sex shops hoping to bring some spark back into the bedroom.  Woman held this same desire back in the 1880's (and before) which  was essentially the cause of hysteria.  Women were not being satisfied sexually then as it seems so many are not now.

So if both men and women are not happy with their sex lives (and I know I'm speaking in general terms) where is the actual breakdown?  Two sides to every story, right?  Both sexes are at fault just as it takes two to tango.

As I have posted so many times now about moving on and dating, sex is a real concern for me.  It is such an important part of an intimate relationship and communicating about needs, wants, and desires is very important.  Couples do need to be compatible sexually just as they do in any and every other way, especially long term.  It is too easy to become comfortable with time, but not the good type of comfort.  The type of comfort that turns into stagnation over time which turns into boredom and unhappiness which can then lead to actual cheating or fantasy cheating whether it comes from the Internet or a book.

I have to admit that just yesterday, I gave into the hype and curiosity and bought the first of the 50 Shades trilogy.  I have not finished the book yet, however I have read enough and I am pleased to say that my socks have not yet been knocked off by that of Mr. Grey.  And while I am not in any sort of relationship now, I did spend nearly 13 years of a monogamous relationship to think back on.  Communication, acceptance, trust, and the desire to step out of your box to please and to be pleased and to not let that all go away with time... If this is a true desire, then it's not as much as it may sound, if both parties are on board... no contract needed.  ;)

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Shanghai Girls

I just finished reading the first of many books I hope to read over the next couple of months.  This came recommended to me and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  I definitely pass on the recommendation to anyone looking for a great historical fiction read.

This book takes place in 1937 in Shanghai.  The two main characters are sisters who come from a well to do family.  They are considered "beautiful girls" and are living the life in Shanghai.  All this changes once when their father loses both his and the girls' money and is forced to arrange marriages for both of his daughters to repay this debt.  The sisters, Pearl and May are both educated with westernized  views and they are devastated by being forced to marry.  During this time, the Japanese are attacking China and not only are these girls trying to escape marriage, they are trying to escape the attacks on their country as well.  Eventually they make it to America.  But not before losing their home, both of their parents, and their innocence.  Their struggles and hardships continue on in America as they have to face immigration, prejudices, and succumb to the life arranged for them through marriage.  (There was also an event, a tragic death, that I was not expecting nor was I prepared for it.  It caught me off guard and it hit close to home.  However, it is a common reality and just added another layer to this book.)

Essentially, the life that they knew and the life they planned for their future is lost.  This is the connection that I made with this book.  No one can truly know what the future holds.  We can plan and hope, but that's about the best any of us can do.  However, I think that we need to be careful not to let the planning and hoping control us to the point where we forget to enjoy the moment and to just live.  (This is the message that I took from the life of Old Man Louie in the book.)

What I thought was very fascinating about this book is how the sisters, Pearl and May, lived almost identical life experiences; however, their own stories and perspectives are so different.  This is hinted throughout the book, but it is not directly addressed until the very end.  It was just a reminder to me of how there are always two sides to every situation and that we can only see what we choose to see or what we want to see.  What is revealed before us makes such an impact on the choices and decisions that are made about life and how we each choose to live it.

The truth may hurt, but it is better to face the truth and to grow stronger by dealing with it rather than to live in the shadows of denial.