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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‘Transitions’

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‘Transitions’ became the first of many poems I continue to write regarding the transfer of the soul from this world. For me, it is not about religion. It is not about science. It is about faith in the Universe. It is about the nature of things. It’s about energy.

Much has been written about this topic. Energy does not disappear, but evolves into another form. I believe this to be true of all living creatures, including humans, animals, and plants. I believe it to be true of all elements that make up our world.

Birth and death and everything in between are natural progressions of life. It is so interesting how happy we are when a baby is born and how sad we are when a loved one dies. This is natural.

Though inevitable as life itself, death in our culture carries a certain habit of fear of the unknown for the dying and an enormous feeling of loss and abandonment for those left behind. It challenges us no matter that our religious beliefs or faith-based spirituality prepares us for all of it. This is a deep disconnect in our beliefs and psyche. Not all cultures are so disconnected.

When my own parents passed, I knew in my heart they had a long and (mostly) happy life. They were elderly. I knew their time was coming and mentally prepared myself. I also know my mother was afraid. I felt her fear in her last hug. She did not want to let me go. This was three weeks before she transitioned.

Grief takes on many forms and is as individual as each of us. There is no right way to grieve. I became extremely ill right after mom died and was bedridden for two days with a fever and cough that would not quit.

Their deaths still hit me like a fist in the stomach. It was my longing for them that brought me grief. They had been in my life forever. I missed them deeply.

Elephants and other creatures show grief and loss. This has been well documented. I watched tearfully as a young doe grieved for her sister I had just shot during hunting season many years ago. I can still hear her bleating when I think about it. I felt like a horrible person for having killed her. I haven’t picked up a weapon since.

What I have learned in life is that grief is a necessary process. It takes the time it takes. We cry, feel lost and alone, cry some more, and eventually move forward. This is key to healing, but being stuck in grief is no way to live our lives. Our loved ones would never want us to remember and honor them in this way, though some of us just cannot move past it. Our lives become crippled by death.

‘Transitions’ was written for a coworker a few years ago who lost someone. I believe that the spirit never dies. I believe energy always transforms into something else. Our universe is made of energy in flux, always moving and changing. We are no different from the world around us. We are part of the endless cosmos.

When the time comes, I hope I will welcome it, but I might fight death. I really don’t know until I’m in the moment. I don’t feel afraid to die, but that does not mean I want to die. I intend to cross the veil in my sleep approximately two to three decades from now. Peacefully. I fully expect a smooth transition.

When I die, I know I will see my loved ones again. I’ve had dreams and visions of our reunion. All family, friends, and pets will be the welcoming committee, with the pets out front. They are the unconditional lovers. It will be a coming home party of the grandest kind.

Death? Eh, it happens, just like birth. I didn’t fret about coming into this world and I’m not going to fret about exiting from it. I’m going to embrace the possibility of change, of transitioning into something new. A rebirth of spirit. It’s the only way I know how to live.

What about you?  I’d really like to read about your thoughts and insights about transitioning. Thanks for reading.

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.

Forks In the Road

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    We are all different people with varied histories traveling along the same roads in life. We meet new aquaintances and friends along the way, share the road for a while and veer off in a new direction.
    When we care about someone and they begin taking a path that does not quite mesh with our value system, or vice versa, separation on some level naturally occurs.
    We have a choice. Most of our differences fall into one of two categories. We can either learn to accept or at least leave room for openness and exchange of opinions and ideas. That’s where we grow.
    Differences are what help us evolve as humans and come to a deeper understanding of each other. We form our own values from this place of understanding. Communication is a back and forth exchange of ideas.
    What can happen too easily is we begin to shut down or turn away from each other. We might even slip down the icy slope and land in a muddy snowbank of intolerance. It’s a very dark place.
    Communication can too easily break down entirely. I certainly am not the best communicator. I am working on improving that aspect of my personality. It can be challenging, but it is in our challenges where we find the deepest learning and growth.
    Occasionally we find ourselves in an awkward position of either surrendering our own power to please another, or having to protect ourselves from further attempted control by severing all ties.
    I’ve been on both sides of that fence and have learned that giving my power away is not a solution to anything. Ever. It creates deep resentment and anger, usually with both parties.
    True resolution takes patience, effort and a willingness to meet somewhere in the middle to find common ground. This is where the deeper challenge comes in. Our truths are never the same.
    Sometimes they’re so disconnected, it’s hard to find a starting point. We all interpret everything in the world differently, based on our life experiences and what we’re born with: the nature and nurture thing.
    Miscommunication, including dodging an issue and avoiding confrontation are just a few of the obstacles we learn to maneuver through in the race toward understanding. Some people are just better runners than others. It’s easy to trip over the hurdles and crash land into the unforgiving gravel of separation.
    I have been told by more than one person that I am difficult to live with. It’s true. I’m OK with that, but I am working on becoming a better me. I wouldn’t expect more than the same effort from anyone.
    Isn’t that the point? Expecting someone else to change isn’t going to solve a thing for me. My focus needs to be on self-improvement, not other-improvement. Just think for a moment what our world would look like if we all shared this one habit for a day.
    Traveling in different directions from others is not a bad thing. Sometimes we need to walk along the path alone, at least for a little while. It allows our innermost beliefs to emerge and light the way toward choosing the fork in the road that fits our own needs.
    The fork we choose is our soul’s journey. It is on this journey where we can find the nature and reflection of our true selves. We bring that best self to our world to share and help create a level of better understanding and ideally, peace. Yes, I am a dreamer. It’s the fork I chose.