For You, My Dream Reader

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Poetry is the reason I started this blog, specifically to write posts about the backstory to my poems. Since I began writing poetry several years ago, after a deep dive into a black hole, each written word formed a solid step upward that brought me closer to sunlight and air. I found abundant life everywhere!

Through that trip to hell and back, I have become convinced that anyone can choose to walk a different path. The only requirement is desire. My journey into poetry has transformed my way of thinking, from why experiences happen, to understanding that each of us has the capacity to create a positive outcome of our own deepest dreams and wishes.

We are infinite beings of energy who have within us the power to change the world in a great way. When you really think about it, we humans have created our current reality. Our own realities are as varied as our personalities.

In walking the path, intimately observing nature, slowing down, and noticing simple things, I have discovered a whole new wonderful world. It has been there all along. My own shadow seemed to be the only thing blocking the spectacular view.

When You Look Up is not only the title of my poetry book, but it is a way of life for me now. Look up toward the trees and sky. This one action has the capacity to open your heart and soul to the beauty that is all around us, every second of the day.

I choose to look up. Come walk with me awhile. Let’s notice miracles together.

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Time

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Those of us who hold a special place for dogs in our hearts understand their unconditional love and devotion. Some of my best friends are dogs. They always have been and always will be.

If I could be so loving, if the world could be so loving, can you imagine what life could be like? Dogs do not lie. They tell you when they are happy and show you when they are upset. They don’t hide behind a facade. If they like you, you know it immediately. The opposite is also true.

Some time back I read an article about actor Katherine Heigl and her devotion to her adopted shelter dogs. She spoke of the love they shared and the joy they brought her.

It reminded me of how I saw my mother quickly deteriorate from a dreaded diagnosis: Dementia. Part of her brain died, most likely caused by a stroke. Her high blood pressure was a factor. Because of this brain issue, she could not stop her thoughts from coming through her mouth. She had no filters.

Some of this was difficult to endure. Unlike her prior self who was quite reserved in public, she once told her doctor he had beautiful eyes. A couple of times she swore like a sailor. Sometimes her words or actions became uncontrollable. Once in a while, she would again become lucid.

It was odd, because she knew what she was going to do before doing it and told us so. Once, she warned us that she was going to push the plates onto the floor. She did. Once she told me she was going to run over my foot with her walker. She did. She couldn’t help it.

We sisters cried and laughed, along with Mom. She knew something was wrong, but said often she was sorry but couldn’t help it. We knew. It was beyond anyone’s control.

We were losing our mother. She said she felt like she was going crazy. She couldn’t add numbers anymore. She became paranoid. I felt absolutely lost in how to help her. All we could do was take things as they came and not force compliance, while keeping her safe.

The more I read about the disease, the more I understood our job was to take care of her without upsetting her delicate situation. I became somewhat meditative when I cared for her by not taking anything personally and by becoming nonjudgmental.

I came to understand the loving devotion my mother had for her family and felt fortunate to be so well taken cared for as a child. She put her family first, ensuring we were healthily fed from the garden my dad grew and cleanly clothed and schooled, having time for play and adventure. We went on vacation every summer.

I owed her the same. Fortunately Mom could still function in many ways and remembered us fully. My sister was and still is involved with hospice and home health as a counselor, so brought in those services.

What I did not realize at first was how exhausted my sister became from being the major caregiver. I wondered what the benefit was in trying to make our mother comfortable while seeing my sister’s health decline. We ended up hiring around the clock care for Mom and Dad, later than we should have.

Now I see Mom’s fast decline and transition as a blessing, not only because of what I have read about and seen with Dementia and Alzheimer affected brains, but also because of the negative affect it had on my sister’s health. There must be a better solution.

As for the dogs I mentioned earlier, Ms. Heigl experienced extreme difficulty putting her dog down. He was suffering. Her veterinarian persuaded her to do it out of love for her animal, focusing on the dignity every living creature deserves. It was not an easy choice.

Time, is a simple, lighthearted poem with a contemplative message. I only hope that when it’s time for me, when my quality of life becomes outweighed by a lack of enjoyment and substance, someone who loves me will consider available choices. After all, I’m a lot like a dog, most likely a Golden Retriever.

Quote from ‘Burnout’

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Is this what burnout looks like to you? It is certainly how I have felt before…

This is actually a monk seal resting (they hunt at night) on the beach in Kauai, Hawaii. If I were to be burned out again, Kauai would be a nice place for it.

Burnout

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Have you ever been burned out? I have succumbed to complete exhaustion, frustration and disappointment when things were not working out or not headed in a direction that seemed worthwhile. It was like reaching for and chasing the carrot, sometimes for years, but never being able to catch it. After struggling very hard to find it but not being able to, I just wanted to give up.

Getting close to the carrot a few times in my life felt nearly fantastic. At one point I had a plan, or at least a dream, of ‘retiring’ at age 40. It would free me. It didn’t work out that way.

I reset the goal to age 50. That plan got completely torpedoed out of the water. I continued to struggle and strive for the one thing that would bring me peace and contentment, the elusive carrot, just out of hand’s grasp.

A dive into hopelessness shoved me right into burnout’s reality. I couldn’t function and felt like things would never get better, but always knew if I just hung on, I could pull myself back up out of its grip. I did.

After searching, reading and contemplating nature, I now realize there is no carrot. It is an illusion. We only have Now. Contentment only comes when we find a passion about what we are doing in the moment. Once we make a habit of it, we feel much more alive and involved.

I’m now looking happily toward the magic number of age 62 when I hope to ‘retire’ from my current job, but also living in the Now much more than I used to. My life is not always exactly how I want it to be, but no more thoughts of disillusionment exist in my mind. I now feel blessed that I am healthy and able to work and grateful for the opportunities it brings me daily.

It is with pure pleasure that I commute. My focus is on the traffic, surely, but also am thrilled in noticing nature open her gifts in the now, every day twice a day during my workweek.

Oh, my Now still has dreams and wants, no doubt. It is simple. It takes planning and is completely reachable. One step at a time gets me there. There is not really there, it is here. I enjoy the journey just as much as, if not more than, the destination. The carrot is no longer in my thought process. It doesn’t exist anymore.

I do have a wish list of things I want to do in life. I want to visit my family more often and share enjoyable activities. I want to become enchanted by synchronous fireflies in the Smokey Mountains and write about it. I want to hear sandhill cranes as they migrate through the Platte River and write about it.

I want to be mesmerized by the Northern Lights and write about it. I want be in the middle of the monarch butterfly migration and write about it. I want to drink in the beauty of fields of tulips in bloom and write about it.

I want to feel the earth tremor from the large animal migrations in Africa and write about it. I want to SCUBA in far off tropical places and come away with photos and stories of creatures and scenery and write about it. I want to become a better photographer and add my photos to my stories.

As for right now, this very instant, I am grateful for the sunrise, my morning tea, a good night’s sleep, the hilarious song of the mockingbird and the sound of rain falling. I never run out of things to be grateful for. Now is my ticket to freedom to engage with people through conversation and activities that encourage sharing of ideas and insight into looking at my world in new ways.

Since writing Burnout many years ago, I have come to understand fully that what we focus on, we create. I am responsible for creating my own burnout through my thoughts. I now have the power to create my own magic through my thoughts. Life is fantastic right Now, this very instant.

Opening

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    Sometimes I forget to remember we are energy and as energy beings, our lives consist of a series of never-ending waves, with peaks and troughs, just like the ocean. Every living creature experiences these highs and lows along with everything in between. To deny it is to deny life.
    It’s when we get stuck in the bottom of the trough that our body, mind and spirit can begin to shut down. We settle deeper into the valley and find ourselves sinking through it alone, down toward the realm of despair and hopelessness. I’ve had some experience with this in my life. Many of us have. Opening is written for all of us.
    It’s as if we become frozen in our thoughts and cannot fathom any possibility of ever finding a way back up, toward the light and air and life. We must hang on for the duration of the ride. It does get better. It has no choice. We do have a choice of how to react to the feeling when despair is seeping into our thoughts.
    Melancholy, like all else, does not last forever. Everything is changing, always. Nothing stands still in nature. It’s just a temporary lull in our energy body. We hold on because we know in our hearts things will get better. Nothing stays the same. It cannot.
    Perhaps a change of scenery wakes us, or maybe talk therapy or sometimes medication, or a combination of these. We can choose to self-medicate, but it doesn’t help much and can make us feel worse. We owe it to ourselves and anyone we care about to hang on and get help. It’s always just a phone call away. We can also learn to be proactive.
    We finally begin surfing back up the trough slowly toward the peak. When we finally reach it, we ride it with exuberance and joy, wanting the feeling to last forever. It cannot. We must focus on the joy we feel throughout our body; our happiness in that very moment. We must remember this feeling. It keeps us centered.
    It is this beautiful memory that carries us through the next trough. It will come. When we prepare ourselves for it, we can remember and choose to ride through it much more easily and spend less time there.
    Like nature, we sometimes shine brightly and other times not so much. If every sunrise was spectacular every day, completely predictable, the joy in watching it would fade quickly.
    Birds will continue to sing and wind still blows. Rain falls down and leaves grow out. Seasons change for a reason. Nature needs her rest to gather energy for the next growth spurt. We remember this and know it deep in our bones. We begin again with our soul slate wiped clean, ready for a new day. We learn and grow. We open up to life.
    When I see a particularly beautiful sunrise, I feel washed in perfection. Most mornings the sun comes up without much color or depth. That’s what makes a spectacular sunrise all the more special. It is rare and unique, just like each of us.
    If we try to keep a baby from walking or a tree from budding or a star from shining, how successful do you think we will be? Opening reminds us to allow the darkness of the trough and sit with it for a time, because after the darkness, the sun always rises again in the eastern sky.
    It gets easier and easier to navigate all the different waves of our lives, up and down and up again. We begin to notice as we surf, the peaks and valleys become easier each time. We come to see life as magical and beautiful. This is where contentment lives.