Friday, December 30, 2011

Attraversiamo


"When two divorced people get together, four people get into bed." ~Jewish proverb

It’s relatively safe to say most people will never forget their first love. Not their name. Not the place in time.

And, with the passing of time – most first loves take on an almost idyllic fantasy of what could’ve been. The bad is forgotten. The reason that love was lost fades. Only the moment of falling is captured as a snapshot in the heart and mind. Forever.

Same goes for a first marriage. Over time, the bitterness fades and all that remains is deep-rooted longing for outwardly different outcomes. The desire to never have experienced the process.

And in extreme cases the inability to let go. Move on. Forward.

Striving to become someone’s last love means learning the skill of acceptance. It’s an art only mastered by the definitely mature.

In a perfect world, all unwanted baggage would be checked at the gate of opportunity.

If you want to know where your own heart is, look where your mind goes when it wanders.

Sometimes, I wonder what actually goes through his mind when someone mentions her name.

Does it always make him draw a breath. Does it still tug somewhere deep inside.
Will anger always be a disguise for resentment and regret.

And, will he live the rest of his days in fear of provoking an old ghost.

My greatest desire is for him to save the best part of himself for someone that truly deserves it. To not lose the best years of his life stuck in the past.

Loving someone is the easy part. It’s figuring out what you can accept and what you cannot compromise that gets complicated.

The hard part is the act of making your new partner the priority. Above a career. Above the popular vote. Even above the demands and wants of young children.

It’s sizing up the mountain before the long climb. Taking a deep breath and a giant step. Uphill.  

Saying you’re over an old someone out loud is only a mechanism to convince yourself you’re ready. In the quiet stillness, when you’re all alone – that’s when you finally realize what becomes the truth.

Is it right to give up on your last love when it’s clear the depth of your love for them becomes not enough to see you through the differences?

When the choice to change appears unchosen.

When the gate is never reached. When baggage claim becomes the permanent destination.

Letting go of the past doesn’t make one weak. It’s the opposite. It means finally being strong enough to grasp tight to something better. Happiness.

At any given moment every one of us has the power to say this is not how our story is going to end.

Go ahead. Check your bags. It’s time to let go. 

Attraversiamo.

The line is drawn. Cross over. To me.

“We must be willing to let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the life that is waiting for us.” ~Joseph Campbell


Dance with me,
~Daisy

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Along the road

“Sometimes your nearness takes my breath away; and all the things I want to say can find no voice. Then, in silence, I can only hope my eyes will speak my heart.” ~Robert Sexton

One day I had a reflective discussion with myself. It was before the beginning of the end. I vowed I would live all the remaining days of my life alone. I would find solace in the laughter of my children. I foretold a life of nothing but hard work and chores.

For me, there would be no true love. And that was an acceptance I was glad to make. I decided I would become a romance novelist instead. Throw myself into the arms of my characters. And I was hell bent on making this scenario my reality. I would never again be the second choice for any man. Anyone. I would be the heroine on the page. Being rescued by my own pen.

As John Lennon would claim, it was then, in that span of time, that life happened. Life would then be defined as before and after…him.

He arrived in my life precisely as Rudi’s prophesy said he would. With a vengeance and daring me to ignore him.

Bold, with a touch of whimsy. He was unlike anything I had ever known a man to be. And to say I was swept away is an understatement.

Because of circumstances out of our control, we were brought together to be taken right back apart.

I battled God, in those early days. I failed to understand how two people so destined to be together, could be separated so quickly. But, the more I didn’t understand at first – the more that man taught me the meaning of the daisy.

In a society built on instant gratification and limitless freedom, we were imprisoned by chance and circumstance. Instead of tradition and convention, we had stolen moments and written words.

It made me respect the process. You see mature love is a process. It was a process of getting to know me. For who I really am. And a process of getting to know someone for who and what they really are.

I would sit in my bedroom late at night and long to hear his voice. To touch his hand. To see his eyes smiling at me.

But that wasn’t meant to be. Not then anyway.

Instead, I wrote to him. Without fail. I would tell him everything. I had no barriers. What I felt for him crossed all convention, space and time. He had become an extension of myself.

And like a daisy, his love for me was loyal. And strong. When others would have taken a different road, he took an exit. However, his exit was straight to my heart.

It was there along the side of the highway of my life, he asked me to stop. And smell the roses.

This story. My story. Is one of the greatest love stories ever left unwritten. Until now.

“I wished for nothing beyond her smile, and to walk with her thus, hand in hand, along a sun-warmed, flower-bordered path.” ~Andre Gide


Dance with me,
~Daisy







Monday, December 12, 2011

The choice to be remade


“There are always two choices. Two paths to take. One is easy. And its only reward is that it’s easy.”

Opportunity is everywhere. And in the stillness, you can often hear it knocking. Even if the sound is faint. As this year ends, I have been in thoughtful reflection of the opportunity before me.

See, not very long ago, rock bottom became the solid foundation for which I began to rebuild my life. Finding myself in a new city, managing a new home and demanding career, while being the provider for a brood of small children has been daunting.

There are days where on my list of things to accomplish, written in my unmistakable handwriting, I write a reminder.

“Don’t forget to breathe.”

A message to myself to get up each day and be present. A daily box to check in my list of tasks.

Of course, I didn’t intend to be alone at this juncture in my life. No one gets married to get divorced.

And my intentions were never to be the only one. To clean the house. To pay the bills. To do second grade math at the kitchen table. To potty train a little boy. To be judge, jury and executioner when one daughter pulls the other’s hair.

There is a popular song on today’s radio that speaks right into my heart every time it plays.

“You are more than the choices that you've made.

You are more than the sum of your past mistakes.

You are more than the problems you create.

You've been remade.”

That’s exactly right. I am more than the choices I’ve made. The decisions that led me to where I am today will not define me in the future.

My life adds to more than the sum of my past mistakes. My failures make me a success story.

I create more than the problems assigned under my name. I create love. I create life.

I have been remade. The opportunity to begin anew. To have a second chance to do it right the first time.

When opportunity began knocking at my door, it was faint. But gradually, it became stronger. And now, the sound has become the voice in my head.

If it hadn’t been for my past choices, mistakes and problems – I would never be able to appreciate the awesome gift before me.

The gift to bend. Not break.

The gift to fail again. This time under my own volition. And succeed. Survive.

To be remade.

The gift of the daisy.

“To live is to choose. But to choose well, you must know who you are and what you stand for, where you want to go and why you want to get there.” ~Kofi Annan

Dance with me,
~Daisy

Monday, November 14, 2011

The rules of war


“After a long, hopeless war, people will settle for peace, at almost any price.” ~Salman Rushdie

Everyone I ever knew that had gone through a divorce had his or her own version of a horror story. It is absolutely evident divorce brings out the worst in people. Every skeleton hidden in the closet is dragged out and publicly displayed for review and commentary. And, the person you were supposed to trust the most in the world seemingly becomes your enemy.

After having lived through my parents’ divorce at a young age, I vowed to not allow history to repeat itself. I wanted to be the one that left quietly in the night. Took no more than my fair share. Never spoke a cross word about my husband in public. And, end up friends. Maybe not buddies. But definitely tolerable.

That philosophy was all fine and good, until the first shot was fired. The shot heard ‘round the world. Or in my case, around the town. Our church. Our social circle.

I’m convinced every divorce has that day. The day of the first shot. After that, the rules change. Even in the beginning, it seemed more like petty drama of a couple breaking up than actual life threatening maneuvering. I guess I paid little attention to the devastating effects of those first few firings from the enemy, onto my peaceful battlefield.

Maybe the reason I failed to understand the rules of this kind of war was because simply, I thought there were rules to war. Even in modern combat, there are lines that just aren’t crossed. And tactics bordering on terrorism that stay out of the combat zone. Especially when children are the hostages.

I decided no matter how dirty my once lover, turned enemy was playing – there was a certain standard I wouldn’t get below. My friends and family sang in my ear about the high road. They all told me how good it would feel in the end to not play those games.

In essence, I set my own rules for war. My rules stated no matter how bad it became or how angry I was with him, I wouldn’t do any one of these three things:

·      I will not intentionally hurt myself, or my children.
·      I will not intentionally hurt him. 
·      I will not destroy our personal property or possessions as an act of revenge.

Although paved with good intentions, the high road is very lonely. I spent many nights alone with my phone off, so I didn’t have to see or hear the latest comments or gossip. I left the community where I spent decades, quietly. I did not shout from the rooftops all the list of done-me-wrongs, nor did I try to correct the mistruths floating about me at the post office or coffee shop.

My children and I walked away with barely any of our personal belongings, so as not to create any unnecessary battles of insignificant (or significant) household items. We begged and borrowed from family and friends to fill our rental home.

I followed all the rules.

Most days, I was the only one.

Looking back on the process – I can say that truth and honor were victorious. Although, the scars from my war can never be measured. Or forgotten. And some of them will take a lot of concentration and strength, to be forgiven.  

Would I have fought a little dirtier in the war, should I know now what I didn’t know then?

No.

Daisies bend, not break.

And I will not break my own rules. Not even for him.

“If we lose love and self-respect for each other, this is how we finally die.” 
~Maya Angelou

Dance with me,
~Daisy

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Friend of my soul


"We do not need to go out and find love; rather, we need to be still and let love discover us.”
~John O’Donohue

I am an Irish girl. Years ago, I read about the Celtic tradition of Anam Cara. The idea of finding your soul friend held such intense depth and longing. It became the ultimate intimacy. To me, finding a soul friend was more important than finding the acclaimed soul mate.  

I have this fantasy of sitting on a porch swing with my Anam Cara. Complete silence. Swaying in the breeze. Satisfied. Feeling as if the best conversation in the world is taking place. That to me is the very definition of two souls flowing together.

Or, being thrust together in the middle of a family crisis or tragedy, coming out stronger in the end. Safety. Friendship. Connected by a love and respect bound so deep it cuts across all barriers of reasonable and rational thinking. That's Anam Cara.

When you first make the acquaintance of your soul friend, it’s as if a magnetized field is drawing you together. It can’t be ignored. At least, that’s how it was for me. And still is. After all this time.

When I met him, everything from before began to fade away. Disappear. Years and years of struggle and strife melted into the background. Just as Rudi’s prophesy indicated.

I know with extreme clarity and certainty, my Anam Cara has been with me every day of my life.

The first time we talked, this man asked my favorite flower. What a funny question, I thought. Before I had time to answer, he told me I reminded him of his grandmother, and her favorite flower was in fact, a daisy.

At the time, I thought it was probably just a coincidence. So, I kept the prophesy of the daisy to myself.

As the days turned to months, I became awakened. My life began to have meaning. Not again. But for the first time. It was when I least expected and all but turned my back on it, that it happened.

Anam Cara discovered me.

The power of powerful friendship, his friendship, made me a survivor. It carried me through some of the darkest days of my life.

I came to rely on him heavily during the last year of my life. More than the air I breathe. He was my soft place to fall when the world was spiraling out of control.

And when I thought the world was going to crush me under its weight, his words kept me sane.

Yes, words. Words to live by.

To seek shelter from the storm.

To remind me I don’t break.

To heal my heart with his hands.

My Anam Cara is my pen pal.

I owe him my life. And a porch swing.

“Are you upset little friend? Have you been lying awake worrying? Well, don't worry...I'm here. The floodwaters will recede, the famine will end, the sun will shine tomorrow, and I will always be here to take care of you.” ~Charlie Brown to Snoopy

Dance with me,
~Daisy


Friday, November 4, 2011

The best person I know


“Above all, be true to yourself, and if you cannot put your heart in it, take yourself out of it.” ~Hardy D. Jackson

Right before the beginning of the end, my family was set to celebrate the remarriage of one of my favorite uncles. My uncle had found happiness and grace with an old friend, and my family was honored to soon witness their ceremony.

This wedding was also merely days before Rudi left my life. I remember sharing with him about the upcoming occasion. He told me to pay attention during this weekend away because something profound would happen to me. In fact, he felt this weekend was directly tied to not only my future, but to his prophesy.

I remember clearly exactly when it happened. “It” being defined as the moment I knew my life was changing. I became a different person in exactly that instant and there was no going back. Ever.

The church was filled with family and friends. The wedding was about to start. I sat in a pew surrounded by my children, husband and relatives. Faint sounds of babies crying and children stirring filled the air. The music began to play and the beautiful bride walked down the aisle. The wedding was starting. My uncle and his new bride were beaming, eyes glistening and hearts thumping.

It was then that one of my children needed a restroom break. I remember my husband jumped up and removed the child from the church. And they never came back. Later, I found out they decided to play outside instead of participating in the ceremony.

But the real point to the story is what was said inside the church. The words spoken by the pastor my husband never heard. This message altered my course in life.

The pastor invited every one of the adults in the room to reflect on our partners. Our significant others. Our spouses. Or even those just in a casual relationship with each other.

He told us marriage is sacred. And the art of a long and fruitful marriage is to find the right person. Of course, right? Wasn’t this Love 101? The last thing I needed or wanted was another fairytale story about soul mates and true love. Afterall, this hadn’t been my experience with marriage.

But, the pastor went on. He told us to look at the person we came with, and he meant really look at them. Stare into their faces, look in their eyes and see them for who they really are.

I sat there without my partner. His spot was empty. I couldn’t see him for who he was in that moment, because he was gone.

Everyone else inside that church faded away and the pastor started communicating only with me. We were the only two in the room and his message was delivered right to my soul.

Chills went up and down my spine and my breath caught at what he said next.

He told me if the person I was with in life was not the “best person you know”
then don’t be with them. Look at your partner, he said. Are they the person to which I measure above all others? This person should truly define what I feel are the best values in life.

He repeated it again, just for me. Life is too precious to not spend my days with the best person I know. And the union of holy matrimony is too important to settle for less than I deserve. Less than what I believe is the most life has to offer.

I looked again beside me. All I saw were the faces of my children. No partner. I started to think about him in a general sense and I realized what I had known all along.

Rudi was right. My future became clearer.

My uncle’s wedding was beautiful. During the wedding dance, a weight was lifted off my shoulders. My body and soul floated freely to the music. I felt more alive than I had in a decade. It was almost as if I had been given permission to stop settling for less than the best.

What happened to me that day reminds me of this quote: 

“Those who danced were thought to be quite insane by those who could not hear the music.”

The best person I know can hear the music in my heart.

Dance with me,
~Daisy


Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Feeling homeless


“Peace - that was the other name for home.”  ~Kathleen Norris

As a child, my family moved every few years. I learned at an early age that home was where your family took shelter together. Where love abides and laughter fills the halls. We could make a home anywhere.

However, after moving so much in my youth, I longed for stability in my adult life. I had the idyllic fantasy of putting down roots in a house, the same house for all the days of the rest of my life. I envisioned myself as a white-haired grandmother walking through my home and pausing in each room. I saw myself reaching out and stroking a wall with my fingertips and feeling decades of memories come flooding back, warming my soul.

Before the end of my marriage, I sought out my mother for advice and comfort. Interestingly enough, she has worked in real estate for more than 20 years. If there’s one thing she knows, it’s houses.

I confessed to her my sorrow and struggle over leaving our marital home. Separating my children from the house we all loved. She knew I didn’t want to end up in a string of rental houses with boxes stacked in the corner and someone else’s problems to keep fixing up.

Mom’s advice to me was simple and understood, “never fall in love with something that can’t love you back.” Her words became my mantra over the first difficult months, when I found myself in a tiny hamlet of a rental house with its creaking floors and drafty windows. Her words kept me strong when I no longer had my warm garage to park in or my beautiful kitchen to cook meals.

I took her words to mean I shouldn’t fear giving up my beloved house because at the end, it was only bricks and mortar. Where you reside needs to be more than a house, it needs to be a home.

 A home filled with love, laughter, warmth and protection. Protection from hurt, anger and anguish. Tears shouldn’t readily fall in fear and uncompromise.

It hasn’t been easy this past year. It’s hard not having my own house to go home to each night. To constantly need permission to hang a photo on the wall or change paint color in a certain room. I always have a feeling of “temporary” and I can’t shake the unsettled anxiousness running through my veins.

I am the type of person that longs for a stable place to stay. I’ve moved so many times and traveled so frequently. However, I’ve done everything in my control to make our new environment inviting and warm.

I want my children to know and understand that wherever we are as a family, our love survives. No street address defines who we are. And temporary is just that.

Someday, we will fall in love with a place that will love us back. Forever. Until then, I keep sweeping the floors in our rental house and restacking the boxes lining the outer edges of my bedroom. And more often than not, I add water to the vase of fresh daisies on my table.

And on my radio, I sing along to this song…and sometimes now the tears don’t fall. Maybe I am finally ready to move away from the house that built me.

“You leave home and you move on and you do the best you can
I got lost in this old world and forgot who I am
I thought if I could touch this place or feel it
This brokenness inside me might start healing
Out here it’s like I’m someone else
I thought that maybe I could find myself
If I could walk around I swear I’ll leave
Won’t take nothing but a memory
From the house that built me”
~Miranda Lambert

Dance with me,
~Daisy