Looking for answers to life's questions

Archive for May, 2012

In Search of a Memory

It’s Memorial Day once again. The American flag is out at some of our homes, others just appreciate it as an extra day off. My ex-husband saw the weekend as time to watch the Indianapolis 500. He was never much interested in paying homage to our armed forces of all branches.

For me it’s different. I honor it quietly with gratitude as my own father served 20 years in the military at the tail end of WWII and through the Korean conflict. To him it was home and family no matter where we were. I think he started dying the day he retired from the military. My children’s father also served for 3 years during the controversial Vietnam War. He didn’t want to go and hurt anyone, but knew that volunteering had better options than the draft. He was a pacifist at heart but he served his country honorably. The military changed him in ways I could never have anticipated.

I wouldn’t wish the military life on anyone. It’s hard on the entire family. The men are gone for long periods of time while the family tries to keep going without them. The upside is that they make a stronger community than most. Everyone’s survival at home and in the field depends on it. I know it took it’s tole on our family and then again when I had my young family.

I will be very happy when no one ever goes to war again but I doubt that’s possible. There is too much money to be made by war. I have always felt that our government sees these young men and women as expendable and rarely treats them with the respect and dignity they deserve. They are also grossly underpaid. That I know from firsthand experience. Unfortunately, I think that’s true in most countries. I could get up on a really large soapbox here but I think it would be pointless.

I’ve seen firsthand what can happen to our service men and women when they try to mainstream back into civilian life. It’s rarely a pretty picture. When you see a Veteran sitting on the curb with a paper bag hiding their bottle, remember they are trying hard to erase horrendous memories from their minds. Many are so traumatized by what they have been through they can barely function. How are they supposed to be lucid enough to ask for help?

The military was my home as a dependent for many years and it was family. I miss that. It can’t be duplicated. I’ve never found as tight-knit a community anywhere since. We always ran out of money before we ran out of month. Then several of our friends would get together and bring all the groceries they had, combine them and feed us all. That’s what you call a melting pot.

I would rather miss it and never need another Memorial Day. My dad’s remains are buried in the Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery with other veterans. As is proper in this case, my mom is right there with him as they were for well over 50 years. I’m 1800 miles away so there is no chance to go visit especially since I still can’t drive very far. Maybe that will change soon. Tomorrow would be his birthday were he still with us. So I will think of him quietly and alone as well as my mother who did the best she could do with 4 wild children by herself most of the time. She would have made a good Sargent as well.

You can enjoy the race, have a great picnic, barbecue, or whatever it is you do on this holiday and still remember those who have given their all in service of their country and to you. Then give some thought to how we can end the cycle of violence against each other. It usually has to start in the home.

From my heart to yours,

In Search of a Good Massage

It’s been 2 years and 3 months since I woke up with what the doctors thought was Shingles. The next day it became Bells Palsy. It’s supposed to go away in a few weeks or at most a few months. Guess I fooled them. I have never done anything normally in my life so why start there.

Even with my vision I made a liar out of the doctors. The military doctors told my mother when I was 9 years old that I would be blind before I was 21 and to save her time and their money and take me home. That was the first time I ever heard her swear at anyone in English. We showed them. I can still see well enough to get around and I’m well past 21.

Now I want to find relief from this very weird illness. I finally gave in to the expense of it and found a place on the bus line that offers massage affordably, at least for the first visit. It’s hard to do without a recommendation. I called several places and a couple I didn’t get a good feel for the establishment. Now, I’ve had massages in 3 states by many different massage therapists. They are not all equal in quality. One of the very first I ever had here in California over 20 years ago was so perfect that it even had an effect on my emotional body. I was so sorry when that young woman had to give up her work after developing an autoimmune disease. She has been my yardstick.

I’ve had wonderful massages in my small town in Arizona by a woman who went back to school to learn other modes of alternative healing. I really miss her too. I’ve had massage therapists that talked more than they massaged about personal issues so I couldn’t take that time to forget my own. Then I got a sermon from a fundamentalist. If I’d had my clothes on, I would have left my offering and bolted. I kept running into that same women all over town for some reason but I never went back to her. I had several gifts of massage from my family with unknown therapists. It was like being gifted a house cleaner for a day and she turned out to be an 80-year-old who then tells me she doesn’t do any of the high work. You have to pay them for a half done job. Yes, that actually happened. It’s been a really interesting life.

My sister took me to see her regular massage therapist in Oregon. She was wonderful but I couldn’t get there unless my sister took me and then had to pick me up. Way too much driving to be practical. She even did some craniosacral massage on my head. Then I moved once again.

I’ve had some uncomfortable experiences at various Day Spa’s. I’m no longer young and slender. Lack of balance has left me cautious about a lot of physical movement. Unfortunately, the lack of balance hasn’t slowed down my appetite. So I’m rounder than I’d like and a little embarrassed about getting a massage. These young ladies at the Spa treated me as though I was their best customer with no visible signs of disdain. I felt welcome and comfortable there.
Thankfully, I was introduced to a really good massage therapist. Erin, my new massage therapist asked what areas needed special attention. I let her know about the damage the Bells Palsy had done to the nerves in my head affecting my neck, shoulders and face. Duly noted, she proceeded to find all the tender spots while simultaneously sending me to my version of heaven. I asked during the second visit if anyone had ever melted through the massage table. At that moment, I honestly could have. That’s when you know you’ve had a great massage.

I’m not sure why women more commonly get massage then men. We as a nation consider massage a luxury reserved for the decadent and wealthy. But it has in the last 2 weeks aided my healing process enough that I have started to try driving a bit more. The dizziness is not as overwhelming as before and the headaches have subsided. Maybe it’s the relaxation of the nerves and muscles around them that’s helping. To me, massage should be included as one of the first lines of medical assistance. The chiropractor I went to see here locally suggested it would be more help than he could offer. He refused to adjust me again fearing doing more damage. So there you go.

Some insurance companies cover chiropractic and some even cover acupuncture but rarely massage. What a shame that is because so many could benefit medically from regular massage. I signed up for a series of 3 massages because they were offered at the discounted price. So I get 2 more trips to heaven that I’m excited to experience. Erin was more wonderful the second time than the first. Imagine how grand I will feel at the end of 2 more visits.

Treat yourself to the experience of a lifetime if you’ve never had a massage. If you’ve put off getting another, consider it an investment in your health. I think it’s a better value than health insurance. Even a bad massage is better than none. But a good one, there are no words to describe how it heals the soul.

From my heart to yours,

In Search of a Good Mother

On this Mother’s Day weekend I want to wish all of you who are mothers a great, love filled day. Being a mother is the hardest job in the world as well as the most rewarding. On the other side of the coin, it can also be the most heartbreaking.

Mothers’ Day brings up so many emotions for many of us. If our child or children don’t acknowledge us on that day does it mean we were not a good mother? What is it that makes a good mother? I can remember in the early years of my first marriage, the greatest insult my husband could hurl at me was to proclaim “You are just like your mother”. Then the fight was really on.

I had a very difficult relationship with my own mother for far too many years. I was so grateful that our relationship was finally mended long before her passing. Mom was raised in Germany while Hitler was in power and had all the warmth and nurturing ability of a rock. But was she a good mother? Absolutely! I made certain to let her know. What I received from her was a desire to do it differently with my children. To balance the strength and independence she instilled in us with love and compassion. I probably already mentioned that when I was 10 I started looking for my adoption papers being certain that these people couldn’t possibly be my real parents. I think lots of kids feel that way growing up. Mom used to threaten me when I had done something to upset her that she was going to send me away to boarding school. I kept wondering what it was I had done so wrong and how could I do it again. I’d have my bags pack in a heartbeat. I think it took the wind out of her sails that I was looking forward to being sent away. Moms, don’t make idle threats. I know I drove her nuts and when my daughter went through adolescence, yup, she got even with me. Nothing new under these stars.

I’ve apologized to my children many times for my inadequacies as a parent. Mom didn’t have a book of directions that came with the four of us and I didn’t get one with my kids. There are no directions. We are flying by the seat of our pants. I used a lot of tough love and hugs. Mom couldn’t hug till she was quite advanced in years and you could tell she was uncomfortable but stretching herself. Dad didn’t hug either so they were a matched set. Mom created in me strength so many only wish they had. I shine in emergencies, never getting rattled until the crisis is over. I wouldn’t change it for the world.

I have seen every kind of mother imaginable. We’ve all seen the over-indulgent, permissive moms. Thank goodness I didn’t get one of those. I’d rather have the rock, thank you very much. Then there are the moms with a mean streak a mile wide who are totally overwhelmed by parenthood and lash out with a loud slap or an arm grab and shake. They didn’t get a how-to book either and were probably raised the same way so that’s what they know to do. I’ve met moms who love enough to let their child go to a family that’s better able to care for their child. I have also met moms who gave away or used their children for the price of a fix. When you look back at their history, no one seemed equipped to be a parent.

So how do you tell if you are a good mom? Well, I guess if your children are willing to let you live with them while recovering from a long-term illness, that’s a good sign. This Bells Palsy of mine has tested all my relationships. I am fortunate that both my children and my sister who was a child of my heart have all stepped up willingly to help me heal. They have been there for me through 2 divorces as well. They are strong, independent thinkers with huge hearts and always give it to me straight just like I gave it to them growing up. I don’t need anything else to know I’m wished a happy mother’s day. I was able to be there for my mother and I miss that rock every single day. I think I also found the book. It was in my heart all along and there was a happy ending.

From my heart to yours,

Most mothers are instinctive philosophers.
~Harriet Beecher Stowe

In Search of Possibilities

I did a very scary thing this week. I got behind the wheel of my car and drove myself to the grocery store. Several stores in fact. Since my daughter is in Oregon now and has a full-time job there, I’m on my own to get groceries unless I want to wait for my son to take me on the weekend. I hate weekend shopping. Please don’t let the cops know I’m out there. I’m being very careful and taking my time. I also drove at low traffic times. When I got home and had put away the groceries, I found I was totally exhausted as well as exhilarated. I’ve only tried to drive one other time in the last 2 years and find I still get annoyed with slow, stupid drivers. I may be dizzy but I’m alert and not texting.

While shopping, I came across a magazine I love but rarely buy because the price is substantial. It’s called “Where Women Create”. I love seeing others’ work studios and their collections of creative implements. I usually just leaf through the pictures but this time I decided to read the first article from the publisher, Jo Packham. Interesting thing about synchronicity is how it’s always there if you are open. Jo Packham spoke of her collection of this and that with the expectation of it all one day becoming a finished item. When in reality she only finished maybe 10 percent of them. She found joy in taking them out periodically and looking at them for the possibility they expressed. Jo also used a term she borrowed from Artist, Kelly Rae Roberts. It’s a term that I know fits perfectly with who I am.

We are “Possibilitarians”. I think it’s a wonderful term for those of us who have been collecting fabric, lace, ribbons, patterns, sticks, stones and pinecones. I see possibility in everything. My sister called me a hoarder. She insisted I had too much stuff. My sister has no hobbies or memorabilia. Those are my toys and I love to play with them. Hoarders can’t let anything go. I find no difficulty in donating things that I’m certain I see no possible future for in my lifetime. I promise that single-handedly, I have donated truckloads of possibilities to make room for new visions. This illness (Bells Palsy) has also put into perspective what it is I truly love to do and what needs to be released. That magazine “Where Women Create”gave me a new lease on my creative life. I see potential again.

My sister-in-law called yesterday and we discussed our hobbies and how we have so little energy to pursue them. She has considerably more health challenges than I and most of our energy goes toward breathing in and out. There are over 1800 miles between us and I realized that most of us need to be inspired by a creative community. I accomplished so much more when involved with a quilt group or an embroidery class. The camaraderie is what I miss most of all as well as the challenge to get something accomplished by next class or meeting. It’s so easy to procrastinate when you are isolated. Most of my creative materials are in storage in Oregon. My stuff here in my son’s house is disorganized. So last week was spent organizing the ribbon embroidery to see if there was something that could actually become a finished project with some success.

With the summer heat coming, I will be spending less time outside in my beloved dirt. It will be an early morning or late evening affair. Now will be the time to once again become a “Possibilitarian” in the cool of the air conditioning. I still have to have time to read from the stacks and stacks of books and magazines that inspire me each day as well as find time to journal and write to friends and family. I could get so much more done if my interests weren’t so wide and varied. It’s a curse I passed on to my children. Sorry about that my loves.

As long as I’m a “Possibilitarian” I will never know the meaning of the word “bored”. I am not sure if it’s a word I have ever used. Now, procrastinate, that’s one I’m way too comfortable with. So my magazine has inspired me once again and I hope to be an inspiration for others who are debilitated. There must be joy in the creating to be worthwhile. Time to get off my pro cras tinate and back into joy and possibility. How do you find your “Possibilitarian”?

From my heart to yours,