This morning I wake up at 330 am. Being the insomniac that I am I figure I will make use of my time instead of languishing in bed praying for sleep. Here I sit Continue reading
A while ago I watched a horror movie called The Babadook. I have always enjoyed a good horror movie but always left wondering about the intelligence of those afflicted by the evil entities that are usually the mainstay of such entertainment. The Babadook, the evil demon, is risen from the pages of a children’s book by the mere mention of its name. It proceeds to unleash terror by inhabiting the body of a widow with a young son hellbent on destroying monsters. In one scene, the monster opens the bedroom door with intent to take over. Instead of jumping out of bed and giving all to getting out of the bedroom, the haunted woman puts her head under the covers in hopes the Babadook will leave. Helplessness seems to be a big part of the horror film genre. In the movie The Amityville Horror, a family inhabits a dream house in Amityville, New York that of course is haunted. Although the stairs are dripping blood and a voice repeatedly warns “get out” the family remains, hoping all will be well if they ignore or not read any serious meaning to the events. How one ignores bleeding stairs and warning voices in the night escapes logic.
Unfortunately, it is not only scary movies that bring red flags of need for action. Every day we are given red flags that its time to move on or make a change. Be it in a relationship, job or any other life event. We often tell ourselves it will get better, the symptom will go away or others will change. We live in our own fantasy land of delusion. As humans, we may often feel the devil we know is better than the devil we don’t. It takes guts to make a change as often we are leaping into the unknown and have no idea where we will land.
As a health care professional, I have had the fortune and the misfortune of working with and knowing victims of domestic abuse. I have heard one excuse after another of why they could not leave. I have witnesseed women return to their abusers telling themselves it will all get better. Fortunately, I have never had the experience of being a victim of domestic violence and I would hope I would have the determination and courage to leave a dangerous environment. However, unless one has lived it, no one can say with certainty the outcome of behavior. When we do not feel good or worthwhile within our own skins, it may be easy to allow others to hurt us as we do not feel our own worth. Red flags are warnings meant to save our lives. They are our signs along our road we must learn to heed. If they are seen early and taken seriously they can not only save our lives but help us to help others. When something feels uncomfortable or “off” it deserves further awareness. Look, listen and pay attention. When the boogie man knocks, get out.
We all want it and many of us spend our entire lives looking for it. Happiness, the elusive entity that tells us we are all good on the inside. We are in love with life and life is in love with us. It appears it would be easy to find if we only had enough. If we only had enough money, enough family, enough trips, enough adventure, enough material goods, a bigger house. You name it, if we only had enough finally we would be happy.
We may feel it that nagging little feeling telling us that something is missing. We search outside for just the thing that will do it. We fail or refuse to look inside. Many of us fail to realize that what we are searching for lies within us. Of course a huge windfall of cash, the house we have always wanted, the fancy car or the exotic trips will bring us momentary joy but with time the joy lessens. The trip is over, the house needs repairs and the cash is spent many times wondering what happened. We see it on tv. We watch others around us laughing, smiling, enjoying and we wonder what we are doing wrong.
We in our civilized modern world are working longer and harder yet many fall further behind. We grasp for our gold as our children flounder and we wonder why our relationships are crumbling. As an ex hospice nurse, I have spent countless hours at the bedside of the dying. They often speak of regret, what they wished they had done. I cannot recall anyone telling me they wished they had made more or owned more. The major themes were related to relationships. Many wished they had spent more time or showed more interest in loved ones. They also spoke of wishing they had not been so serious or afraid of life. One man simply said “I wish I had said I am sorry more.” In our busy world, we tend to forget, we take others for granted. We believe when we finally have what we need or want then we will have time to tend to those left on the back burner. Unfortunately, in life there are no guarantees and what we ignore today may not be there tomorrow. Material wealth can never fill an empty soul or an empty heart. Take care.
The ground is shaking and you just can’t seem to get your stable footing. You no longer recognize all that you thought you knew. You are on a journey but have no idea to where. Life tosses curve balls, sometimes strong enough to knock the wind out of our sails. Loss, illness, grief, any so called misfortune can set our path awry.
10 years ago my curve ball was cancer. It came out of nowhere and landed in the midst of my liver. Having no risk factors and being what I considered healthy, it landed in a time of my life where things seemed relatively calm. I thought I had it all figured out. I knew where I was headed. A diagnosis of cancer changes things. It causes a body to wonder why or what and brings the thought of death up front and very close. It causes one to question. I had been given a reprieve as the tumor was large but slow growing and able to be removed. I was going to survive but now what? I had been spared. Now what was I going to do with the rest of my time and how did I want to live?
When we set out to live a life that is truly ours, often we are met with demons and dragons along the way. We know what is calling in our hearts and souls but others close to us cannot feel what we feel. They cannot feel the pull of our soul or hear its whispers. They want us to come back to where and what we used to be. Familiarity brings comfort. After trauma, no matter the source, we no longer are the same. Something has changed. We struggle for a time to make sense of it all. We may even try to go back tothe person everyone else knew and loved especially when the road ahead looks uncertain. We want to jump back into the box. This is when we must continue our walk. When the path gets tough, we need to be tough. We need to understand there will be rocks and holes and pitfalls. We need to be prepared to fight the dragons and stand in our power. As long as we hold onto our soul’s calling and walk on the face of fear, we will eventually reach the other side of the bridge. To face fear and uncertainty requires courage.
Twas the day of Christmas and all through the house I sit here with my family in Eleuthera Bahamas. I am feeling very blessed to have my family here sharing this island paradise. There is no tinsel, tree or a multitude of presents. There is no brined turkey, stuffing or mashed potatoes. There are no stockings hung on the mantle. We are taking a break from tradition. Every year my family has celebrated the traditional Christmas since I was a child. Sitting together 6 months ago, we decided to make a change. We love Eleuthera and have had the privilege of visiting every other New years Eve for the past 4 -5 years. Of course this is change and not all of us are taking to it like ducks to water. There has been a little discussion about missing the usual fare, the lights or the smell of cedar, but we understand the importance of change and being flexible with tradition as change is the only constant in life.
I watch my father now maneuver from a wheelchair. Due to a back injury he is now in the chair at least for the next few months. This was the man who danced around the pool on our last visit here. This is the man who was a regular in the kitchen as he made his mouth watering rolls. Now he navigates a different terrain, one of a disabled individual. I watch my own relationship with tradition as I now navigate a new way of being in a long term relationship with my mate of over 30 years. Yes, we understand how uncomfortable change can be. Many of us dig in our heels and lean into tradition and familiarity even when it no longer serves us but we can allow change and growth to forge a new path. Change will happen, whether we want it to or not.
2 days ago a dear friend’s mother died. I had marveled at how close the two of them had been and watched as he cared for her in the most tender of ways. She had undergone a mastectomy 2 years prior and the outcome of her health always weighed heavily on his mind. I watched as he mourned her death with great anguish and spoke of the emptiness he would feel without her.
We cleave to our mothers as they were the first ones who saw us and gave witness to our being. They were the ones we could call no matter the hour or the day. They were the ones who were supposed to love us through thick and thin. However that is not always the case as with some the relationship with mothers can be tenuous and often leave feelings unresolved. Even in strained relationships, a mother’s death leaves a deep void.
The death of our parents makes us all orphans, a term my sister in law had used at the death of her mother in a hospital emergency room. We realize that we are up next. There is no longer a buffer between us and the grim reaper. For many of us that leaves a big pill to swallow. Our realistic mind knows we all will die one day but in the interim we hope against hope that maybe we will be the one to be immortal. We just cannot fathom our own mortality. We watch our loved ones bodies wither and the vibrant souls we once knew we feel are gone from us forever. Death scares us.
My friend was fortunate to be able to hold his mother the night before her death. He got to rub her hair and smell her skin. He got to tell her he loved her and take in any parting advice she had for his ears. He told me how difficult it was to watch her leave. He also knew how fortunate they both were as she was now free of pain and had died at home surrounded by her loved ones. We will all grieve the loss of loved ones and if we are fortunate, we will have made peace with the process. Early on in my career I had the good fortune to sit at the bedside of the dying as a hospice nurse. I got to be witness to last words, last thoughts and last regrets. I got to be present with others at the most vulnerable time of their lives, it’s physical ending. Sometimes we do not have the luxury of saying what we want to say or spending those precious moments as no one knows when death will come. Be it in the still of night or the brightness of day, with a rush of speed or a long journey into the unknown, it will come for us all.
I woke up this morning with freedom on my mind. As I was lying in my relatively uncomfortable bed, I pondered what it means to be truly free and if any of us truly are. As Americans, we give a lot of lip service to the notion that we are some of the most free people in the world but yet in some ways we are as restricted as many others. We just don’t realize it. We are led to believe we are free to speak, free to travel or free to be ourselves. Take a look around. Can you see how sisters and brethren are being threatened for wanting to love whomever they choose regardless of sex, age, race? Can you see how those who dare speak against brutality or injustice are black balled and denied opportunity? There is a price to pay for standing strong and living our truth.
Perhaps our government is more efficient at making us believe the lie that we are free. Maybe if we close our eyes and think long enough it will be reality. Governments have a way of making its slaves actually believe they are being cared for. The slaves are given perks and as long as they feel they are getting a piece of the pie, life is good. Any self sustaining society knows it has to have a stable working slave force to keep functioning. Why would it behoove the powers that be to have its citizens refusing to do their duty by producing more tax payers? The machine needs to be fed. Who could tolerate adults having freedom by working fewer hours, encouraging learning through travel or being independant or controlled by big brother? One cannot expect to meet financial goals by taking time off to schlep the world.
Conformity has become our norm. Everyone is expected to walk the same trail or else risk the ridicule of the group. Peer pressure is very real and often times when we stretch our wings looking for our truth, others may not take it too kindly. There is a price to be paid for true freedom and unfortunately many are not willing to pay the price.
Recently a long time friend started a conversation with me on race. I have thought long and hard over the years about race and how it has impacted everything around me. As a black woman, I had felt relatively or thought I was relatively immune to the racism impacting so many of my fellow black Americans. I tried to be a chameleon and actually believed if I walked the walk and talked the talk I would fit in, I would become one where race would not matter. I could be “color blind.” I thought by developing white friends, going to a mostly white university or by even dating and marrying across racial lines, I would remain unscathed. That day we spoke of race was a day I realized I had failed.
The scene is set and as I close my eyes, I know exactly how it will unfold. It begins innocently enough with us speaking about the current state of affairs in the world, the past election and where we suppose we are all heading as a country, as a world. I voice my concerns for myself and others like me who are feeling threatened in a time of racial upheaval. I speak in a calm tone hoping she is listening and able to express a modicum of understanding. Instead my words hit upon deaf ears with my friend becoming threatened and questioning why all minorities are blaming whites for the state of the affairs. She goes on to state her desire to return to a time when race is not such a big issue. To me that means a time when blacks are subservient and will not dare bring up such a topic or risk bringing about their own demise. Needless to say, I take offense however remaining calm. Her words quickly turn to tears as she wonders what else white people can do to prove they are trying to help. We allow the conversation to transmute itself into something more benign all of the while I can not shake the restless feeling that something is seriously amiss. I feel a need to scratch deeper but allow time to soothe feathers. I also feel a need to absorb what has happened and what has been said. This is my friend of several years. This is someone who would come to me at a moment’s notice. This is the one who I share so many intimate details of my life and yet here is a place I cannot reach. I hear her anguish but at the same time feel my own. I am angry and feel as if once again someone is asking me to explain and absolve their guilt. It is in my knowing that I understand the centuries of pain and despair felt by my ancestors and when she tries to compare finding her roots to me finding my own, I am even more angry. I watch the fury in her eyes and the adamant behavior signaling she feels right and exact. I realize this is the priviledge she has and she fails to understand how it impacts her and those around her. She wants me to forget and go thru life pretending as if it does not matter but to me it does. It matters maybe now more than it ever has. It matters enough for me to have to pick the scab off of the wound and dig to the deeper part of the infection. I know I have work to do on myself as well as my relationship to the world and those around me. I trust it will be difficult and I trust I may lose loved ones along the way. For me, it is now or never.
I am sitting in a small bar in Baracoa Cuba as I write this. Yesterday a friend sent me a text with information from our US president Donald Trump. Apparently he is warning all Americans to stay away from this island due to the recent problems some diplomats in Havana have been having with hearing loss and other brain maladies apparently from an unknown sonic device of some description. There has been very little investigation although enough for Trump to give this warning. His so called concern is said to be for the safety of Americans. In this mind of mine, it is highly doubtful Cuba is the cause of this problem but with that being said there is a need for some to make the Cubans pay. Realizing any significant loss of tourism only hurts the Cuban people, the games continue.
Yes, it is important to get to the bottom of what or who is causing the problems as all are concerned for the health and wellbeing of the diplomats. The safety of the average American in Cuba is appreciated but likely highly overblown. As an American in Cuba, I have never felt in harm’s way. I have walked the streets both morn and night. I have been met by an occasional beggar but mostly well meaning individuals. The president’s concern should be reserved for the maladies that are befalling the US. With crime high and many lacking the basic necessities of life such as health care, one would think his concern is misplaced.
It saddens me greatly that the citizens are often pawns in these games of politics and are the ones who suffer the most. The US embargo has been a failure of massive proportions and has not changed anyone’s mind for 50 years. However, there are some who continue to hold out hope that if the citizens suffer enough, change will come. The people are resilient and no doubt will continue to survive. None of us know what change will come or when. We can only hope it will be for the betterment of Cuba and its people.
I sit here this morning thinking of fate. My mind has a tendancy to dance and run all over the place and can sometimes take me to places even I cannot comprehend. 2 days ago while crossing an intersection, my life almost ended. As I crossed the busy street in my well steeled car, another driver ran a red light heading to the driver side of my vehicle. As I watched the scene in what seemed to be slow motion, the steering wheel of my car immediately lurched right sending my vehicle into a 90 degree turn. As I braced myself for impact and eerie sense of calm pervaded my body and I had the feeling of my car floating as it lurched out of the way of the oncoming vehicle. At that moment, I expected to at least have the front end of my car clipped by the driver. There was no screeching of tires or any effort on the part of the other driver to stop. He sped on as I gathered myself and turned my car to head home. On that day by all things logical in my mind I should have been killed or seriously injured. As I drove home in a daze I could not help but think about fate and what had saved me. For many years I have felt the hand of my ancestors from the unseen realm. My grandmother has long been by my side serving as my guide or guardian angel. Her presence is often felt as I go busily about my day. She was with me that day.
I thought about how quickly life can be snapped in a matter of seconds and no one leaves until the work is finished. I thought long and hard what it is the spirits are asking of me. What is left here for me to do? 10 years ago I was also spared from a rare life taking cancer. Spirit had been instrumental in assisting me in locating the tumor and proceeded to once again take the wheel. I am left with the questions of what and why. I am also left with the understanding that perhaps it is not yet time for me to know. Maybe in time the answer will be given. Perhaps it is just another reminder to get out there and enjoy life, to attend to things that need attending, to speak the unspoken and to appreciate being present and alive. Spirit might have thought I had forgotten. Rest assured spirit, I will not forget.