Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Long work day - wide spectrum of human experience through my office - birth and death both - and so much growth as well as pain. I love my work. Tired tonight but happy. Ruth is here to teach gymnastics in the morning. I'm beading again, a little - just little glass beads on wire. I felt mindful placing yellow, red, orange and green tiny beads on wire together - playful sunshine necklace - in my office alone at the end of a long winter work day.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Out of touch with blogging and with myself. The last few days my mood had just been off center. Not every minute. Bob and Zachy and I walked at McKinney Falls today and ach shared his four year old view of that familiar sweet trail. We supplied the words "deer, bark, robin, woodpecker, nest" On Saturday the kids and I danced to drumming at Centra market cafe - much of the afternoon under the oaks with people from all over town - not a crowd - a real community feeling group. Bob stayed today because he couldn't come until Saturday night because of the good computer class he took. I think I'm missing him more this year, but scared of the change involve in his coming home. I wish life weren't so expensive. I wish decisions were easier.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Zachary and I haD having a pleasant (if cold for Texas at 38) day together. We've had lunch of turkey and noodles with peas, played ball, and worked on the learning program Bob set up for him -also worked wooden puzzles from my childhood and the girls'. Zach really likes puzzles right now. We played outside a little but Zachary announced "My tummy is cold!" and we came in for hot chocolate. These Mondays are a pleasant preview of retirement for me. One day a week like this is about right at this time.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

It was sunny today and in the sixties - though cooling off fast as the sun goes down. It was strange and pleasant to be walking around coatless for the first timein weeks. Despite my anxiety about taking the kids to church this morning, all went well. The First Communion class is large (we meet in the church school's cafeteria) and seems very well structured. Danny enjoyed today's session as did I - one of the tasks being looking back over memories of family events including the baptism of the second grader in the class. Ruth and I have been sorting pictures and had recently set Danny baptism pictures aside - so thinking about that day and those pictures was easy for me. I'm always touched by how much kids (maybe people of all ages) enjoy it when people they care about remember their lives in loving detail. I guess that should be self-evident, but it feels important to remember.

Saturday, January 20, 2007


Courage is a handle
by which fear can be borne -
no mystique to that
no character trait,
courage, is a choice.

Victoria Sullivan Hendricks 1/18/2007
We are cold and wet still - but wet - high thirties and low forties - not frozen. It's odd that the ice was so present - and now is so gone. Transformation of landscape by the elements for sure. I do like living somewhere where there are seasons to at least some extent. The bare trees look so different - bones against the sky - than they will in a couple of months - first in flower then in leaf. Its been a happy couple of days for me - a good visit with RuUth and Chris, and today all three grandkids. I cooked old fashioned family meals today - meat loaf, turkey with noodles and peas, muffins - and everyone wanted seconds both times. That felt good. Bob says the computer class that is keeping him in Corpus this weekend is worth taking - he's learning a lot. And I feel like I'm getting some handle on the house. I love the way Ruth rearranged the living room and the futon bunk (bought inexpensively and successfully on Craig's list) in the back room is a delight to the kids and Ruth and Chris too. For a large part of the afternoon Ruth and KK camped out on the top bunk making friendship bracelets out of embroidery thread, some of which my Grandma Anna wound patiently around papers to save it. I love the continuity of crafting through the generations. I'm nervous about taking the kids to church in the morning, mostly because Danny starts his classes for first communion preparation and I am his helper person and feel akward being a nonCatholic and also just challenged by being part of something so important in his development. The people at the church know all about our interfaith family and they are very nice to me. I'm just nervous. The sun may even shine and the temperature get into the fifties tomorrow afternoon - first time in over a week. Memory is short(mine at least). I can't pin point the last sunny day.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Robert Kennedy's Statement on the Assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.Indianapolis, Indiana April 4, 1968

I have bad news for you, for all of our fellow citizens, and people who love peace all over the world, and that is that Martin Luther King was shot and killed tonight.
Martin Luther King dedicated his life to love and to justice for his fellow human beings, and he died because of that effort.
In this difficult day, in this difficult time for the United States, it is perhaps well to ask what kind of a nation we are and what direction we want to move in. For those of you who are black--considering the evidence there evidently is that there were white people who were responsible--you can be filled with bitterness, with hatred, and a desire for revenge. We can move in that direction as a country, in great polarization--black people amongst black, white people amongst white, filled with hatred toward one another.
Or we can make an effort, as Martin Luther King did, to understand and to comprehend, and to replace that violence, that stain of bloodshed that has spread across our land, with an effort to understand with compassion and love.
For those of you who are black and are tempted to be filled with hatred and distrust at the injustice of such an act, against all white people, I can only say that I feel in my own heart the same kind of feeling. I had a member of my family killed, but he was killed by a white man. But we have to make an effort in the United States, we have to make an effort to understand, to go beyond these rather difficult times.
My favorite poet was Aeschylus. He wrote: "In our sleep, pain which cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart until, in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom through the awful grace of God."
What we need in the United States is not division; what we need in the United States is not hatred; what we need in the United States is not violence or lawlessness; but love and wisdom, and compassion toward one another, and a feeling of justice toward those who still suffer within our country, whether they be white or they be black.
So I shall ask you tonight to return home, to say a prayer for the family of Martin Luther King, that's true, but more importantly to say a prayer for our own country, which all of us love--a prayer for understanding and that compassion of which I spoke.
We can do well in this country. We will have difficult times; we've had difficult times in the past; we will have difficult times in the future. It is not the end of violence; it is not the end of lawlessness; it is not the end of disorder.
But the vast majority of white people and the vast majority of black people in this country want to live together, want to improve the quality of our life, and want justice for all human beings who abide in our land.
Let us dedicate ourselves to what the Greeks wrote so many years ago: to tame the savageness of man and make gentle the life of this world.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

The ice is melting and its a whole new show watching and listening to that - qite amazing really - not just icickles dripping but big chunks of ice (little ones too) falling out of trees. There's about a half inch accumulation of ice on the bench in my front yard. Ice falling and breaking up is loud. I can even hear the cracks and crunches inside the house, and when I stand out on the porch its quite a percussion concert. The newest warning the news people are giving us is to be "aware of falling ice" if we are out walking - and that's a new and kind of scary one to me. I probably will go out around noon, whdn most of hte ice will probably have already fallen. I need to dress now. One last client is kindly coming to the house. After that I should be able to be mobile. I will kind of miss being in with no reason to go out - haven't felt lonely or confined at all. But life and commerce must go on.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

My icicles are three days old and the biggest ones are almost two feet long. The trees are all still coated in ice. Another ice storm may come through net Tuesday. This is alot of winter for Texas. I've been seeing clients here at the house - should get out and to the office after the melt.

Being inside - and the tone of discussion in my writing group - has gotten me introspective. We've been focusing on soul or essence and personal power in Skywriters' discussions and I've written down alot of what I believe about those topics today. Seems to belong here.

I'm actually talking about "soul" - a unique spark of life force separate from personality with which I came into life and with which I will go out of it.
I believe soul is not damaged by life experiences, but gets buried beneath them sometimes - so the individual is living out of personality only, without access to all cylinders. I believe soul does not die with the body, though I don't know or really care on what terms it continues. Of course this is religious, mystical, or superstitious thinking depending on your perspective, and highly subjective.

Belief in soul - indestructable essence beneath personality - really helps me in my work as a therapist, because I don't get discouraged by the terrible stories people have lived through or the mistakes they have made. I believe that no matter how hurt we have been we have the freedom to do the work (and it is hard hard work) to act not out of reaction to hurt but out of values.

And I think it is belief in my own soul and a the importance of genuinely living an expression of same that gives me the willingness to work as hard as I do to come from love not ego on a moment to moment basis. When I talk about living out of my wise woman - about the importance of choices, I'm talking about keeping my outer life as true to essence as I can. - about avoiding living reactively or giving outside forces any more power than they absolutely have.

Is this way of looking at myself in the world a crutch? Maybe. I don't care. I can live this way with this belief system and be someone I want to be most moments. That's enough for me.

As for personal power, its there whether I pick it up or not. I can use it to chase my own tail, to hurt others, or to seek healing and create solutions. I get to choose hundreds of time a day. Tools - interpersonal, psychological, financial, mechanical, intellectual - enhance the effectiveness of my power - but only choice determines its direction My power to do good and my power to do harm are equal. The difference is choice.

So that's a lot about my core values -which I depend on to keep my life operating.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

I am indeed laughing at myself watching it sleet in my bathrobe at 10:00 on a Tuesday morning when I would ordinarily be at work. Sleet bounces! Those of you in northern climes know that I'm sure, but this Texas/ southern California woman is getting a kick out of seeing the little sleet particles bounce hard off the frozen leaves on top of my hedge. Not something I see often. Going to have to rearrange my work week here, and still enjoying getting alot done at home.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Today I've been iced in - only went out in the driveway to take out the trash and feel the cold - examine the ice on the trees (not on the sidewalk yet, but they say that's coming) I'm glad it was a holiday today - no guilt or decisions about staying in. The next couple of days may be more complicated with clients wanting to see me and the roads icy and the buses probably not running. We'll see.

For now I'm happy with my progress going through and reorganizing things in the house - continuing to pare effectively. And I love the living room the way RUth rearranged it last week - whole new confirmatin of furniture we've never had.

I've used some of the extra down time to write and think. One response to a question on my HCC board seems to belong here too. Based on the book Aging Gratefully by Naomi Judd, Paula asked us two questions. My responss follow.

What am I thankful for about aging as I have experienced it so far?I'm grateful I've have gotten this far - have gotten so much life experience and so many experiences of loving and being loved, learning, teaching, laughing, crying. I'm grateful for meteor showers in the mountains, having stood in the gardens where Monet painted, three times cradling new grandchildren and the chance to watch them start to grow up. Thousands of related and unrelated moments - more unfolding each day. At the moment I'm grateful to be sitting in my house with warm feet watching the icicles grow outside.

I'm grateful for the authority of my relative age - for having learned what I've learned and that many younger people do seem to want to learn from me. I like being the matriarch of my family and an elder in my profession - that younger therapists come to me for ant-burnout hints and wisdom training.

I'm grateful that my body works well enough and that I don't often regret that it doesn't look young any more. It isn't.

I'm grateful that I've been able to see my parents' through their lifecycles and bury them with grace - that I was able to be what they needed to be in the end. I'm grateful that my daughters seem ready and willing to do the same for me as time comes.

I'm grateful for all my losses (and the love that preceeded each of them). I know life is fragile and rich and precious and I can't claim ignorance if I don't live it while I've got it.

I'm grateful for the concept of living from love not ego - of living as the wise woman, even though I don't manage it every moment. It is a touch stone, a key concept to come back to.

What do I want more of as I age?

I hope for a time of not working and Bob not working - mornings waking together and lying in bed a while, talking, cuddling without any immediacy or shoulds - just being.

As I move away from professional obligation I want more spontaneity, being able to just up and go or keep the phone off the hook all afternoon - fewer interruptions - more introspection, couple time, travel. I do want a few more good trips - especially Yellowstone in winter.

I look forward to stepping back from the matriarch role to an advisor role - old woman in the wings - consultant but no longer expected to stuff the turkey or haul the toddlers around. I'm not there yet, but I think it will be good to be that very old woman, exempt from kitchen and carrying duty but sitting by the fire with the stories and the mirror - to help the younger ones slow down and see truths, both hard and renewing

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Texas version of a winter storm is upon us - rain turning into freezing rain. In fact its a real winter storm by anybody's standards reaching down from Illinois. We Texans just aren't as good as dealing with it. Right now it is just rainy and 36, but the next two days, maybe three days are supposed to be sleety. It was funny in the grocery store last night - not hugelypicked over. Anything that could go into soup was gone or vaishing, all the ordinary sizes of tomato sauce, sausage, meat extremely picked over. Bob is stressing because he should be driving back to Corpus tomorrow afternoon in the worst of it to be there for his class and to start the computer class he is taking Tuesday night. So he should either leave early - this afternoon instead of tomorrow afternoon, or stay longer . He doesn't want to leave early, but I think his work ethic will get the best of him.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Today has been a more energizing day. Ruth rearranged all the furniture in the liing room - really different, everything oriented in different directions, and we got the new futon bunk set up in back. There are still piles in more places than I like, but the house is becoming managable - or at least approaching managable. I had a stupid and very painful accident today - pinched the four fingertips of my right hand in the joint of the garage door. It was awful. The concept of unbearable pain is a cliche but i was screaming and cussing and truly didn't feel like I would survive or be able to settle down. Ice helped, but then I couldn't stand the cold and started screaming about that. Time is what really helped. i am amazed that my finger tips seem to be OK, sore and a little swolen feeling, but functional for typing and even beading. I really didn't imagine I would be able to use this hand for the rest of today. Bodies can be amazingly resillient. On a more serious level regarding resillience, Paul, of whom I have been writing, is home from the hospital and was feeling well enough to go out and listen to music last night. The odds are still stacked against him, but it is just nice that he is doing better right now.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

I am so tired tonight - Ruth and I fed the kids supper and helped with homework. We thought they would enjoy a cheese hominy meal but they did NOT. They did eat, but it was sad that a meal we intended to be a treat didn't work out that way. The house is topsy turvy in process of reorganization. I hate this stage, but I will like it much better than before once the organizational effort is complete. Right now though there is not one place I can rest my eyes without seeing disorder or something that needs moving. Yuck! Maybe I should just go to bed.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Its good to have had a pretty ordinary day. Zachary played and learned on the Disney Preschool program Bob set up for him. Its really col, and exciting to watch him focus and learn new skills, computer and cognitive. The program works in exercise breaks for the kids and calls the stretches cute things like "elephant ears" and "balance beam". Zachy and I did them together and laughed which was fitting wince today was "laugh out loud day" on his program. This is a new treat, this Disney thing. Thank you Bob.

I also actually made banana cake from scratch tonightusing my mother's old hand written recipe. I'm always thinking I'm going to use old bananas that way, and I haven't been. Tonight, success! I'm about to taste it.

News wise it was an odd day - a HazNet response to a bunch of dead birds in downtown Austin (apparently neither bird flu nor toxins in the air) and a horrible smell all over Manhatten for an as yet unknown reason (also not considered a huge threat)

A good day to stay home, play with the kid and bake.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Bob went back to Corpus this afternoon and I've been quiet in the house, cleaning a little, beading, sorting the events of the last week. I think I'm in denial that Bob's pneumonia could have gotten awful and killed him. It didn't. But we never know. I've been at the hospital with Paul and Lydia and watching them love each other and hold on makes me very thankful for all the love in my life and very mindful of life's fragility. I've felt tender toward everyone these last few days and worked hard at living kindly. And I've thought about Kerry a lot.

For Kerry

They could be us,these two,
I see you in the bed and me
in the chair, gasping for air,
craving to wail and throw up,
but sitting instead, petting your head ,
You taught me not to count on tomorrow,
not to measure joy or sorrow,
to hold on and abide, beside,
not to fear fear but to know, death cannot win
We did not give in. Love without end.

IT isn't all life and death though. Bob and I watched the film Hobart Shakespeareansabout a remarkable teacher whose rules for his kids are "Be Nice. Work hard. No shortcuts." I woke up this morning wanting to talk to the kids about house rules here, based on those rules. We did talk and came up with three. "Be kind." (we like kind better than nice. KK says nice is a tired word and kind seems to mean more to us.) "Pay attention" We mean to our own efforts, to each other, to what's boing on around us - as in both listen and be mindful. "Do your part." I have felt happy today with those rules and while the kids were here we all refered to and followed them. They are not rules for kids only - every bit as much for us adults.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Bob is feeling better, coughing less. i'm really enjoying having him home - both living here and not working. I think retirement might eventually feel good if we could just relax and be - not always trying to get things done. I enjoy these slow evenings. I have been working and that has been good too. Death still seems all around. My business partner Kent's father is dying, if not tonight in the next few days - in his eighties, finally caving in to all kinds of cancer after a long fight, survivor of the Battle of the Bulge, sweet spirited man, good father and grandfather even if he is an Aggie. And Paul, my young friend with the brain tumor has taken a turn for hte worse - seizures and apparently not conscious. That's so scary. He may not even have time to know what's happening to him, to gather his good byes. Death does take us on its own terms.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Hard day and I don't know why. Bob is home for five extra days and it feels so good to have him here - sweet and present. He is recovering from pneumonia (caught quickly and responding to antibiotics thank God)so he is taking some days off work and just present in the house reading and hanging out - not miserable. Having him here feels great, but I'm still anxious and shaky trying to get my work schedule back in play. Nothing feels right yet. I still have doubts about 2007 and I'm still trying not to.

The nation buried President Ford today. I remember him so well - as a smiling presence in the aftermath of Nixon, Watergate, the coming of the nation not to trust its leaders. I remember him as someone I thought was trying to do a decent job in a hard situation. His wife Betty had breast cancer when he was in office and came forward with her own recovery from alcoholism and drug addiction. It was a big deal - her honesty in that time. Now comedians make jokes about the Betty Ford Center, but it was a good thing she did. It is strange to see her so old now. The guard is really shifting, the generations fading and blooming in turn. I realize I am closer to the old than to the new when someone writes in wonder of the oddness that we, in the sixties, actually expected our politicians to behave honorably and were shocked when they didn't. The really odd thing is that I still do. Still am.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

So many catch up entries to add from bits and pieces stored in other files and in my brain- Its a new year - 2007 - odd for it to be 2007 when I remember thinking as a seventh grader that I would be OLD in the year 2000. I don't feel old at 57 (new birth year too.) I also don't feel as energized or encouraged as I'd like starting any new year. I don't feel hopeful regarding this new year and I think I'm cheating it - need to muster some hope and give the year a chance. The moon is full tonight and the light is coming back, a few minutes more each day. I want to lean into the rebirth of life force, to feel the pulse of the earth quicken gradually as spring approaches - but it is early winter yet and my mood is wintry, not dismal but somber and stripped down.