Seniors First

Posted by owner on July 31st, 2009 — in Memories

How I cringed at those words!  I know the cashier was trying to be nice and take care of me first but I could not help myself.  Now I know how an overweight woman feels when asked “when’s the baby due”.   Polite but terse I said to the cashier “next time please say ladies first.”   

I am 56 years old.   There.   I said it.   Okay, okay, I am 56 ½.

If you ask my age, I will answer without hesitation.  If you ask me, I will tell you I am fine with my age.   I will tell you I am proud of my age.  And I will point to my head of grey hair to prove it!  I wouldn’t want to be in my twenties or thirties again.   Forties?   Well, maybe.   But my reaction to the cashier’s words, where did that come from?   I started to wonder how do I honestly feel about age? 

·         Every time I see the envelope in the mail from AARP, I throw it away.   I do NOT care about the savings.   In fact I think they have a lot of nerve sending me this stuff.   I am not a retired person and I am not ready to retire.  I have been receiving those damn AARP envelopes for years!   I know people younger than me who are members “for the savings”.   All I know is if I become a member, I will feel old.

·         Forget the senior discount.  I’ll take it when I am eligible but not one minute, not one nano-second before.

·         My children have my permission to take immediate action if I ever do either of these two things:  come home with helmet-head hair or if I start putting  sugar packets and napkin-wrapped dinner rolls in my bag. 

·         Facelift?  No.   Oil of Olay?  Yes.

·         Whenever I tell someone my age, I always wait for the complimentary response “really?  You look much younger!”  It almost always comes.   We are, after all, a society of white liars.  But on those rare occasions it doesn’t, I want to grab them and shake them — tell me I look young!

·         When I see photos of long ago friends and relatives on Facebook, I wonder how they got to be so old.   Then I wonder if they would think the same about me.

I crashed my bicycle right around the time I turned 50.  On the table in the emergency room, bleeding, broken, swelling, bruises rising and fighting back tears, I felt stupidly old.   What was I thinking, riding a bike on the streets of Chicago at my age?  Childhood accidents never hurt so much.  I needed to learn to act my age.  Two days later I limped into the health club, determined to shake it off, get myself back in shape and up on that bike.   And I did. 

This is not a mid-life crisis.   This is a full blown I hate the fact that I am getting older crisis.  This is complete denial.   I hate the fact that I am edging up on 60.  I do pull-ups and dips and push-ups because I refuse to accept chicken-wing arms.  Every time a knee creaks or a shoulder cracks I pop glucosamine.  I slather on the sunblock to keep the wrinkles at bay.  I brush my teeth with my left-hand in a desperate attempt to stave off dementia.  Death doesn’t scare me half as much as a decrepit old age. 

Would it be nice to ride off into the sunset?   Yeah.   Would it be nice to sit in a rocking chair cradling a grandchild in my arms?   Most definitely.   Can I picture myself enjoying a leisurely retirement of travel and learning?  You betcha.  But I want to grow old on my own terms.   I want to be happy and pink with good health until I’m at least 100.   I want to be vibrant and sharp.  I want people to look at me and say “wow, look at her go”!   I want to be the poster child for how aging should be done. 

Growing old gracefully has its place, but I am not ready to do it yet.   The inevitable will happen.   But not without a fight.


Comfort Cat

Posted by owner on July 28th, 2009 — in Memories

The cat settled on my chest right over my heart.   Whenever I pick up a book and kick back to read, she becomes annoyed and demands my full undivided attention.  She goes belly to belly with me, purring loudly and placing her head over my chest, stretching her white paw up to touch my neck. 

“I know you’re here” I say to her and place one hand on her back while I juggle the book with the other.  I could shoo her off but I don’t.   The warmth of her little belly is soothing.   Her purring reaches deep into me, my body rhythms match her vibrations, gently massaging my soul.   I love that she insists on sharing a book with me and sometimes I read a passage or two out loud to her.  Her eyes lock with mine and her purring lowers as she listens to the words.   It doesn’t matter what I read, what matters is that we are both content.

My previous cat, Mojo, passed away four years ago while I was on vacation in Spain.   I boarded her at the vet and for the last few days of that trip I made a daily phone call to check on her progress or lack of it.  Usually she stayed with my daughter whenever I was gone, but Jill and I were taking this trip to Europe together.   I did what I thought best for little Mo.   Advanced in her years, I thought who better than the vet to care for her during my time away.  She must have felt abandoned.  Her little heart gave out the day I returned home.   I went to the animal hospital to pay the bill and came home with her empty carrier and my tears.

After Mo’s death, I decided I would not have another pet.   Too much work, I was too busy.   My move into my new condo coincided with my daughter’s transfer to Florida.   Her new apartment would not be available for a month. Jill begged me to take her cat,Bennie, during the transition .   I protested.   Moving myself, I worried that Bennie might scratch my new wood floors or pee on the new rug.  

“He knows you!   You’re the only one I trust.”  Jill said and so I relented.   The perfect houseguest, Bennie waited for me each day to come home, rubbed against my ankles, curled on my lap for a snooze.   When Jill finally came to take Bennie to his new Florida home, my heart broke a little.   Jill laughed at all the new toys he accumulated during his stay and the bag of organic food I supplied to go home with him.  Still I resisted bringing another pet into my life. 

Three years later, I adopted this new cat on a whim, calling her simply Kitty.  I rescued her from the shelter and it took awhile for us to get to know each other.  Now she is my companion, my comfort.    She recognizes my footstep down the hall.  I hear her soft meows as I turn the key in the lock.  She flops down on the rug, exposing her soft thick furry belly for a quick scratch.  Kitty entwines herself around my ankles as I prepare her food.  She supervises as I write, sticking her nose in front of the computer screen.

Her special language, the different meows, purrs and stares, is now the music of our routine, our daily dance.   A soprano’s meow for attention, a soft mew as I pet her back, a tiny impatient cry for food, she sits next to her basket of toys when she wants to play.   Kitty is demanding and particular, assertive in her need for attention and just as assertive when she wants her nap.    But it is when she sits with me as I read that I feel our connection most, our lives dependent upon each other for daily sustenance.  Her presence has brought joy to my life.  How had I forgotten the comfort a cat could bring?     

Savoring the Unexpected

Posted by owner on July 24th, 2009 — in Memories

Yesterday was an experiment.   In her book Entering the Castle Caroline Myss suggests trying the following exercise for a day:

  1. In the morning write down five things you are certain will happen that day.

  2. If these things do not happen, what impact will it have on you?

  3. Were your expectations met?

  4. Be open and watch for anything unexpected that comes your way in the same day.  What does the Universe send to you?  Write those things down.

  5. What had the greatest impact on your day, the expected or the unexpected?

Thursday morning I wrote down five things I felt were certain or expected and what would happen if they did not occur.  My list included:


  1. I will walk to the gym and workout.  If I don’t I will feel fat and lazy.

  2. It will be a slow day at work because the boss is out.  If I get busy, the day will go by faster.

  3. I will register for the Earth Journaling Workshop.  If I don’t I’ll just register another day.

  4. I will have lunch with Sue.  If not I will eat alone.

  5. The book I ordered will be delivered.  If not it will come the next day.


As I looked at my list I realized that there was one other thing of which I was certain.   These were not life changing items.  Nothing much was hanging in the balance here.   If my expectations were met that would be great but if not, I would not die.

The unexpected things that happened on Thursday were:

·         I stopped at the convenience store to buy a banana.  I waited while the cashier helped a man find something on the shelves.   When they came up to the register I stepped aside so the cashier could ring up the man’s purchase.   The cashier instead rang up my purchase saying “seniors first”.   AGGGHHHHH! 

·         Went to the Farmer’s Market with some co-workers.   Along the way we came up with the idea to do a boat cruise during lunch the following day.   I called the boss and, with his blessing, I scheduled an impromptu employee outing for the following day consisting of a pizza lunch followed by the architectural cruise on the Chicago River.   I managed to get the tickets for the boat at 50% off.

·         Invited to go to the Farmers Market.   Picked up a sage plant for the empty pot on my balcony.

·         A friend decided to join me at the workshop.   We will be able to drive up together and split the cost of the gas.

·         Mark Buerhle of the White Sox pitched a perfect game! 

·         I walked home from work in a warm, refreshing rain smiling all the way.   A young man passed by and said good evening to me.   His smile matched mine and I could tell he was enjoying the rain as much as I was.


So what was the impact of the unexpected?  

You may think that I found the first item on my list to be negative but actually that cashier gave me a lead in for a blog!  My thoughts on aging are forthcoming!

Office morale soared when I pulled together the impromptu employee outing!  Everyone bubbled the rest of the day in anticipation.   The fact that I managed to treat twenty-one people for under $500 made the boss happy as well.  I know I am good at what I do but this even surprised me.

The herb plants sat on my kitchen counter for about an hour before I planted them out on the balcony.  All evening the sage mingled with the aroma of my lilies (which are still blooming, by the way).   Soaking in a bubble bath could not have rejuvenated or relaxed me anymore than those lovely scents that filled my home.  It left me refreshed

Having someone to share the six-hour ride to the workshop as well as the cost of gas is terrific!

As a life-long White Sox fan, I can only say YEAH!  Buerhle’s perfect game was almost as good as the 2005 World Series!

My walk in the rain was the perfect ending to a perfect day.

Thursday felt like a mini-turning point.  This exercise brought awareness to everything that happened and deep appreciation — make that deep delight! – in my day.  The delight was contagious, spilling over to others and into the next day.  

Postcard to the Universe:   keep it coming!


The Pheasant Feather

Posted by owner on July 21st, 2009 — in Memories

Fair warning — I am feeling philosophical today!   Yesterday I was listening to Marianne Williamson again, specifically the third CD in her set on Manifesting Abundance.   I find Marianne provocative, she really gets my mind cranking.  Her message is strong and positive yet I find myself straining against her words.  

Marianne encourages (this time she avoids the word “should”) that it is through thanksgiving and praise that we find fulfillment.   I agree.   She encourages us to let the darkness of the soul go, to rid ourselves of it completely and only embrace the light.  At this point I shout “wait a minute!” 

A Native American friend once gifted me with a pheasant feather.  You might not think this to be much of a treasure, but every time I consider it, every time I touch it and look at it, it tells me something new.   The feather, its pattern, reminds me of my life path.   At the bottom, the markings are a bit disjointed and asymmetrical and are reminiscent of my difficulties bringing together the sum of my parts, the physical, the mental, the emotional and the spiritual.  All parts have beauty but there was no alignment.  Eventually, as they rise up the feather, the markings grow together in harmony.   For me the feather represents moving up and bringing the parts of my being into wholeness.  Holding it brings me comfort and peace.

I use the feather as part of my meditative practice.   Once, as I sat in stillness, the feather began to vibrate and move in my left hand.   Suddenly it jumped, flipping over of its own accord.   My eyes flew open and I struggled to regain my focus.  To my surprise, I saw the back of the feather was completely dark – beautiful, but dark.   After all this time, I had not noticed the back before and immediately knew there was a lesson here. 

First, of course, to be more observant!  More importantly, it brought to my mind the dark side and the light side, as it relates to the two sides of my being.  As I studied the feather with new eyes, it dawned on me that the pattern on the “light” side is actually a pattern that integrates both light and dark.   When the markings come together in a symmetrical, even pattern – a balanced pattern – that is when the feather is most beautiful.  What a wonderful thing to know!  What a wonderful thing to strive for!  That true beauty can only be achieved through a balance of equal portions of dark and light. 

In her lecture, Marianne went further and used the analogy of the half full / half empty glass that we all know so well, saying that it is better to view the glass as half full.   But I have to ask, why judge the glass of water?  Would it not be better to see it for what it is – a half glass of water?  If I see it simply as a half glass of water I am then open to the full range of possibilities.    I can choose to fill it to the top or I can choose to drink it down.  I might dump it out and fill it with something wonderful and new.   Or maybe I will let it sit for awhile until I know what it is I want to do.   There are so many options and using discernment rather than judgment give me more opportunities.

I have to thank Marianne.   Although it is my opinion that her thought process does not go far enough, she pushed mine to realize that to achieve the true beauty of the soul, I need to embrace both dark and light and replace judgment with discernment.  To recognize the situation, the emotion, the thought or action for what it is, acknowledge it and embrace all aspects completely.   Then I will have the information I need to move forward.

The Attraction of Flowers

Posted by owner on July 18th, 2009 — in Memories

According to the principles of Feng Shui, if you place flowers in your bedroom you will attract romance into your life.  Romance is not on my priority list, but I do love flowers.  At least two or three times a month I bring home some flowers just for the pleasure of it.

Today I stopped at the Division Street Farmer’s Market and bought a spectacular bouquet of lilies.  The flowers are massive, as big as a baby doll’s head, and glowing in shades of pink, white and yellow.  There are at least twenty blooms, about 1/3 of them already open.  No perfume could ever compare to the delicate scent, I wish I could bathe in it.  The farmer took great care wrapping the flowers, I could tell they were precious to him.

Division Street is 1200 north in Chicago.  I live 1500 south so I had about a four mile walk to get home.  Along the way a few women commented on the flowers cradled in my arms but what surprised me was the reaction from men. 

·         As I crossed the LaSalle Street Bridge, an older gentleman looked over and said “how are you today?” 

·         A young man walking along Wacker Drive looked at me, smiled and said hello.

·         As I strolled through Greektown, another gentleman said hello and actually tipped his hat.

·         The CTA worker at the Halsted Stop asked “where did you get those flowers Miss?”  (Love that, being called Miss).  As I answered, he dipped his head to inhale the scent.

·         A studious-looking young man near the UIC campus smiled and waved. 

·         I stopped at a little café to pick up some lunch.   The counterman laughingly thanked me for bringing him flowers.   He found them beautiful and also wanted to know where I purchased them.

·         As I turned the corner to my street, another young man nodded and said hello.

Who knew?  Men like flowers!  This so caught me by surprise.  But it completely validates the Feng Shui principles.  So, ladies!   Fill your arms and fill your home with flowers.  It will make you and the men in your life smile.



The Longest Drive

Posted by owner on July 18th, 2009 — in Memories

After reading my blog Dragonfly Days, a friend recommended the book Waterbus and Dragonflies by Doris Stickney.   It is a lovely book that uses the story of the transformation of the nymph to dragonfly to explain death to children.   Although written for children, the story of the dragonfly transformation and how it can never again live underwater applies to every life transition, to other kinds of loss.  This book made me remember the longest drive.   

Frustrated at his situation, Bennie banged back and forth in the box, meowing loudly.  Jill refused to give him any kind of sedative for the long drive from Chicago to Missouri, but now listening to his unhappiness she regretted her decision.  “Don’t let him out of the box!” I insisted as she started to reach in to him.  Stressed already from the day and the drive, I did not want to have to deal with a cat bouncing around the car.  Jill was transferring to her new job in Moberly, Missouri, a small, rural town near Columbia.   A few days before the move, I received a call. 

Mom?   Mother’s instinct, I knew immediately it was a distress call.  This was a call of physical pain.  Carrying a box to her car, Jill slipped on the wet leaves on the curb, twisting her ankle.  

“I am on my way.” I said.

Thirty minutes later, I swung onto her street and thankfully spotted an empty parking space near her building.  She was waiting for me and I helped ease her into my car.  She looked at me and laughed through her tears.  

Your rescue clothes” she said. 

I looked down and she was right.  Over the last few years, although she lived on her own, there had come periodic calls of distress.  Three flat tires, a kidney stone attack and an anxiety attack brought on by the onset of fibromyalgia; each time it was the same – jeans and an old sweatshirt – the clothes I always threw on whenever I needed to quickly come to her aid. 

Oh Jill.   When you’re in Missouri, who is going to rescue you now?”  And I erupted in tears.

And so that Saturday I found myself driving my oldest child away from home.  She sat in the passenger seat, a cast around her broken right ankle, crutches in the back, and an unhappy cat stuffed into a cardboard box with crude air-holes cut into it.  Illinois is a boring state.  Mile after mile, it all looks the same.  Flat, brown, treeless and open, there is nothing to break up the monotony except an occasional cornfield or cow.  Our radio station faded hours ago with no suitable replacement and so we rode along, making small talk to keep our tension at bay.   Earlier in the year, my divorce had been finalized and shortly thereafter, my father passed away.   Those things were hard, but this felt so much worse.  Ever the adult, I tried to maintain control, putting my emotions on cruise control. 

This is actually a good thing.  You are young so it is the best time in your life to move around the country.  Having this on your resume will be so great for you.   Have you let them know about your accident?  Will you be able to somehow get to work?  It’s not like Chicago, there is no public transportation.  What will you do?  When is your furniture arriving?  Well, at least I get to see where you are living.  I just rattled on and on making noise. 

Don’t worry, Mom.  I’ll be all right.” 

We decided on a plan.  It was a Saturday but the truck with her furniture and car in tow would not arrive until Monday.  After unloading the few boxes in my car, we would purchase an airbed for Jill and a few other items to make her as comfortable as possible, pick up some takeout, and camp out in her new apartment for the night.   With the extra pillows and blankets in the trunk, I would make a bed for myself on the floor.  The next morning I would begin the seven hour drive back to Chicago, leaving her on her own. 

“Mom, I need a pit stop.” 

I pulled onto the off ramp and turned into the parking lot of a truck stop.  The definition of the middle of nowhere, the truck stop was a dusty pre-fab building that had succumbed to the weather, curling and rusting around the edges.  Empty fields bordered on all sides, not even a cornstalk to break the view.   Jill managed to hop out of the car on one foot while I wrestled the crutches over the seat.  Sensing her departure, Bennie cried piteously. 

Here, get some bottles of water and anything else you want” I said as I passed a twenty to her.   She clutched the bill in her hand, and steered away, unsteady on her crutches after the cramped drive.

I sat in the car, holding the steering wheel.  As if echoing my thoughts, Bennie’s cries became mournful.  “Hush” I said, putting my hand in the box to stroke his soft fur.  He desperately nuzzled against my hand, seeking comfort.  

I know, I know” and I started to cry, the tears came out in a rush, great gulping sobs. 

I couldn’t breathe, my chest hurt from the lack of air but it was nothing compared to the pain spilling out of me.  My daughter was leaving me.   I came face to face with the fact that I would be alone and it was more than I could possibly bear.  Was I destined to a life alone?  Was I important to anyone?  To be sure I had rescue clothes, but what good are rescue clothes if you no longer have someone to rescue?   She didn’t need me anymore.  I cried through the irony of it.  For the need, after all was really mine and there was no way to fill it. 

I noticed Jill thanking a man as he held the door of the convenience store for her.  Suck it up, suck it up.  You cannot let her see you like this.” I used my t-shirt to quickly wipe my face.  I grabbed a tissue and blew my nose as I watched her crossing the lot, trying to manage crutches and a plastic bag of water and snacks.  It was difficult but she was doing it and my heart lifted a little at the thought that my daughter was, after all, a beautiful, capable adult.   She would be all right, the question was would I?  Jill reached the car and I leaned over Bennie’s box to open the door.  Grabbing first the bag, and then the crutches from her, I quickly got everything stowed so she could ease into the car. 

Are you OK Mom?”  “Yeah.  How about you?” 

“I’m OK.”

I started the car and we pulled out of the truck stop and back onto the highway.



The Power of Touch

Posted by owner on July 14th, 2009 — in Memories

Like a lover, he gently cupped the top of my head then glided his hand down the length of my hair.   I pulled back in shock.   This stranger happened to be standing next to me at the open air festival.  After he touched my hair, he smiled at me then turned back to his group of friends.  I looked at my friend Tami and she shook her head in disbelief, saying “That was strange.”

This man could have been my son our age difference was that great.  What made him think that he had the right to touch me in a seemingly harmless but intimate way?   It seems such a small incident, to touch my hair, but it left me feeling violated.    I felt uneasy the rest of the evening.  

What should I have done?   What could I have done?   Those questions keep popping into my mind.   And it has prompted me to think about how we touch people’s lives.  I have deep respect for the power of touch.   It is the most intimate of the five senses and this incident took me back in time.

“He’s coming!   Richard Simmons is here!”  The energy level was as high as Richard’s shorts the day he came to school.  As part of his work with Special Olympics, Richard planned to film an exercise class with children of special needs.   Trucks with cameras and film crews parked outside the gym, thick cables snaked across the floor and school personnel hovered around like groupies.   Startling in a red sequined tank top and striped shorts, Richard ran around the school, bouncing with the kids on the playground and yelling at the top of his lungs.   Our class of first and second grade children was to be filmed exercising with Richard and the kids were excited with the exception of Eric. 

At seven years old, Eric was average height but thin.   He had a mop of brown Beatles length hair and wore thick glasses that magnified his eyes to twice their size.  Children with special needs are remarkably like other children.   They crave affection and praise, they socialize and play, and they shun those who are much too different.   Eric sat alone.  He did not want to be touched and would shriek if anyone brushed up against him.   Still adjusting to my first week as a teacher’s aide, I looked over at him worried he might be assigned to me.   Everything I knew about autism came from the movie “Rainman”. It was not something I thought I would encounter in my everyday life. 

As the class readied to go, the teacher turned to me. 

Eric needs to stay behind.   He would be impossible to control during filming.   I need you to stay with him.”

As the class left, I sat at the desk looking at Eric.   Once the door closed, he relaxed.   Rocking back and forth in his chair, Eric called out the multiplication tables in a singsong voice.   Very quietly I rose and walked over to the play area.   I pulled out the magnetic board and numbers.   Sitting on the floor, I placed some of the magnets on the board aware that Eric was watching me closely.

Three plus five equals” and Eric yelled “eight”.   Nine plus one equals ten”.  The game began.  

As fast as I placed the numbers on the board, he shouted out the answer.  It didn’t matter if the problem was addition, subtraction, or multiplication.  Robotic, he yelled out every single answer correctly.  I placed the board and numbers on the floor, pushing them to him.  Eric grabbed the board and numbers then moved to sit with me settling between my outstretched legs as if it were the most natural thing in the world.  I sensed that if I initiated contact, if I touched him with my hand he would shriek, but he found this gentle nearness acceptable.   I leaned back on my hands and listened to his singsong occasionally giving him a problem to solve.   As he shouted out the answer he would turn to look at me.   A nod of my head satisfied him and he continued his game.

When the class returned to the room, the teacher stood with her mouth open in shock and surprise.   Later she pulled me aside and asked me what I had done to reach through to Eric. 

                “Nothing.   I let him do it on his own terms.”

McCarthy’s Garden

Posted by owner on July 11th, 2009 — in Memories

As children, flowers carried our hopes for the future.   We plucked petals one-by-one to the chant of “he loves me, he loves me not”.  We brushed golden dandelion heads on our chins for good luck and later tucked our wishes into their seeds before scattering them to the four winds with our breath.  We traded sloppy handfuls of wild flowers in exchange for praise and hugs from our mothers.  We combed the clover looking for the magic of four leaves and wove daisy chains into our hair.  As children, flowers were a natural form of prayer.

McCarthy’s backyard was my first garden.   Our family lived next door to the McCarthy family on a street of narrow city lots, concrete gangways and alleys.   Tiny postage stamp lawns and yews hemmed brick two and three flats with the occasional bungalow in between.   We ran and jumped rope on concrete except for those magical days when Mrs. McCarthy would open her gate and invite us into her garden.    Stepping through the gate on a hot summer day, the grass would immediately cool our bare toes.   Sunbathing  on the lawn, stretching our baby oiled limbs on old towels, we pretended we were as sophisticated as the teenagers on the block.  That is until the sprinkler came out and we would quickly revert to our childish ways, running and hopping through the spray. 

A birdbath stood in the center ringed with fiery geraniums and white river stones.  Tall lilacs lined the back of the house, their scent an announcement of spring.  Pieces of angled brick separated a three foot strip between the lawn and fence, giving space to a mix of perennials and annuals. Stately iris, sunny daffodil, tabby colored tiger lilies and broad hostas ran along the fence interspersed with petunias and teddy bear-faced pansies.   As the lilacs faded, the roses would step in, forming a trellis of scent that protected us from the smell of the alley. 

Each morning before school I would stop, peeking over the three foot tall chain link fence and take deep gulps of the fragrant air to carry me through the day.  One morning I bounded down my back steps to find a garden gloved Mrs. M digging and thinning the lilies of the valley.  She smiled at me from under her straw sun hat. 

                Would you like to take some flowers to your teacher?” she said. 

I nodded my head yes and stood impatiently shuffling from foot to foot.   The other kids were already halfway down the block but she took her time, reverently placing lilies of the valley on sheets of newspaper.  

                This will keep them fresh.”   She wrapped wet paper around the bottom of the stems, sealing it in with wax paper.  She rolled the newspaper full of flowers into a cone, leaned over the fence and placed them on top of my books. 

                Thank you!”  I quickly sped down the gangway, running to catch up with the others for the walk to school.  My eight year old arms struggled to balance books and flowers forcing me to slow down.   I ended up walking by myself, but I didn’t care.   The tiny white bells of flowers and leafy green stems delighted my nose, making me feel giddy.   I felt important to have this beautiful gift for my teacher.   As she opened the wet paper, she clucked over the flowers and brought them to her nose.  I beamed when she asked me to fetch a vase full of water from the janitor’s closet, proud that I managed the task without spilling a drop.

We lived next door to McCarthy’s for over eight years, moving to the suburbs when I turned twelve.  Mrs. M is well into her 90’s now and I see her from time to time at weddings and funerals.  A tiny, delicate lady, I always take time to share my memory of the lilies of the valley with her, telling her how it prompted me to plant them in my own garden.  I bend low to catch her soft voice in my ear. 

“You are so kind.” she says. 

And I simply respond “it was a lesson I learned from you”.




Reiki and Catholicism

Posted by owner on July 9th, 2009 — in Memories

The New York Times recently reported that the Bishops of the Catholic Church have launched an investigation into the lives of American nuns to determine if they are adhering to the tenets of the Catholic faith.   Nothing precipitated this.   There are no reports of wrongdoing on the part of nuns, at least to my knowledge.  American nuns may have thrown off their habits but they live good lives of service running schools and hospitals.   What caught my attention is that part of this investigation is focused on the use of Reiki in Catholic hospitals.    An excerpt from the article includes:

”Besides these two investigations, another decree that affected some nuns was issued in March by the Committee on Doctrine of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. The bishops said that Catholics should stop practicing Reiki, a healing therapy that is used in some Catholic hospitals and retreat centers, and which was enthusiastically adopted by many nuns. The bishops said Reiki is both unscientific and non-Christian.”Nuns practicing Reiki and running church reform groups may have finally proved too much for the church’s male hierarchy, said Kenneth Briggs, the author of “Double Crossed: Uncovering the Catholic Church’s Betrayal of American Nuns,” (Doubleday Religion, 2006).Mr. Briggs said of the various investigations: “For some in the leadership circles in Rome and elsewhere, it’s a piece of unfinished business. It’s an effort to bring about a re-establishment of a very traditional, very conservative set of standards for what convent life is supposed to be.”

I consider myself a spiritual person and I pray and meditate daily.   I am neither journalist nor quantum physicist and therefore can offer only my personal opinion.   I received a Catholic school upbringing but the tyranny and exclusivity of that religious institution alienated me early in life.  The Catholic Church and I may have parted ways but that early indoctrination continues to poke at my psyche.

  A male dominated organization, the Catholic Church has been troubled for so long.  Instead of enlightenment and reform, it clings to its dark-age mentality striving to keep its followers under its antiquated thumb.   We shake our heads at Islamic treatment of women as second class citizens.  We are horrified at the polygamy of the fundamentalist sects of the Church of the Latter Day Saints.  But I have to ask, is the Catholic Church  any better? 

 It is the 21st century yet Catholic nuns are still relegated to a subservient role with no true potential for church leadership.  And yet of all Catholic clergy, they are the closest to doing God’s work as educators and healers.  Should they be reprimanded for emulating Jesus through the laying on of hands?  At the heart of it, that is what Reiki is, the laying on of hands to channel healing energy and love.

As an RMT I can only speak from personal experience.  Not too long ago a client came to me.   A cancer patient undergoing weekly chemo, she sought relief from the side effects of her treatments.   On a weekly basis she was poked and prodded with harsh instruments and chemicals.  At the beginning of our session, I placed my hands gently upon her back allowing her to get used to my touch.  As I touched her, she released a huge sigh.  I asked her if she was okay.  She sighed again and said

“This is more than okay.  It is so good to be touched with kindness.”

Whether or not you believe in the power of Reiki, what is so wrong with being kind?

Black Sapote Update

Posted by owner on July 7th, 2009 — in Memories

Black Sapote Update 1

I shared the black sapote dream with my Osteopath, Dr. Z.   Dr. Z is a gem who cares enough about his patients to listen.   He takes a holistic approach to medicine and considers everything relevant, even a dream about fruit.  He took notes so he could research the b.s. (whoa – now there’s a Freudian slip) for me. 

During my next appointment a week later, Dr. Z excitedly came into the exam room.  

“I confirmed everything you found out about the black sapote but I couldn’t find any around here either.   But I think you can find it in jars on the internet.  If you find it, let me know.”

Back to the internet, I searched and searched for a site that would sell preserved black sapote.  No luck.  Stymied in my search, I decided it best to put the black sapote out of my mind, but it persisted, popping up in my conversations.

“Let me tell you about this dream I had….. Have you ever heard of the black sapote?”

I needed to put this aside and I did – for a day or two.  Then I went for my next appointment with Dr. Z.  

“I had dinner with a friend the other night.   He recently purchased several acres in the Amazon Rainforest and plans to build a spiritual retreat.   After I told him about your dream, he was so intrigued he decided to plant black sapote trees on the property.   And he’s thinking of growing other exotic fruit trees and selling the fruit to help support the retreat.   Isn’t that exciting?   Your dream is an inspiration!”

This further fueled my frustration.    Back on the Internet, I searched to find a vendor.  Twenty minutes later, I sent off an email to Rivers End Nursery and Farm in Texas.   The next crop of fresh black sapote will be harvested in December however frozen black sapote is available.    Frozen fruit is not quite as appealing, but neither is waiting six months for the crop to come in.  Responding to my request, I received the order form.

Cost for four frozen black sapote at $3.50 each comes to $14.00.   Tack on a packing charge of $10.00.  Since the fruit is frozen and must be shipped in a cooler overnight, add another $40.00 for a total cost of $64.00.

 I completed the order form but cannot bring myself to fax it.   I can’t justify spending over $60 for 2 lbs. of frozen fruit and for what?  Will eating this fruit bring me any closer to figuring out the symbolism of my dream?   In my dream I tasted this fruit – do I really need to taste it in my waking life?   Do I need to bring the unconscious to consciousness?  Perhaps I am meant to chase down the meaning rather than take action. 

The hunt goes on…..