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Archive for the ‘Life’ Category

Birthday

By:JLE

Tomorrow I turn one year older . I will be spending it in the NC mountains where the air is chilly and the colors of Fall are vibrant . My element for sure .
What does one year older mean to me ? It means another year I have been blessed to be alive . To breath the crisp autumn air, to marvel at the beauty of the earth in all its glory . To exist among all of God’s creatures both big and small . Another year of living, laughing and loving. Another year of smiles and hugs with the ones I love.
Another year I get to watch generations of my offspring live their dreams. Another year I get to grow and learn and evolve . I will never understand the failure to view life as a gift . To fail to live it to the fullest and To cherish every moment , with wonder and gratitude for every new morning . Every day is a new opportunity to discover all the little miracles that exist among us . Life is good, and whatever it throws at me, I will spend each moment with my face turned toward the light . Circumstances are no match for such a view of living . The world could crumble around me, my life could come apart at the seams, but no one can take away my joy that comes from within . It originates in the very soul of a person . That kind of joy will always find the tiniest glimmer of light in the darkest of darkness . Always find something to be thankful for , always have eyes that see the miracle and the beauty of life itself . And the God given gift that it is to be alive .

October 21, 2019

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Rest in Peace

My biological Dad passed away this week. April 1st 2018 to be exact. I did not find out until two days after. Apparently the very small family that is left of the descendants of Dominic and Celia Carlo could not get in touch with me right away. But I did manage to get to New York for his final wake and funeral. We were not close like most Fathers and Daughters most of my life for a host of complicated reasons, but never really anger or resentment on either of our parts. We never had harsh words with one another. My feelings about our relationship took many forms throughout my life but most importantly in recent years they were best described this way. He was who he was. He could have done better by me. But later in life he knew it, and tried his best to apologize. I know he loved me. And I loved him just the way he was. Simply because he was my Father. Yet another exercise in forgiveness, which always ends well for me.

Death has touched me personally more these past two years than in my entire lifetime. I am learning about grief in all of its forms and varying intensities. The loss of a Son in law, and now my Father. In addition, plenty of second hand grief of dear friends who have lost someone. My husband always reminds me that the older we get the more accustomed we will become to this painful fact of life. I am also continuing to learn the importance of forgiveness. Human relationships normally do not just glide happily along with ease. They take determination and the grace to understand that we are all broken in some way. They take work. It is why we say “Rest in Peace’ to those who have passed on and are finished with their work in this life. I truly believe the two most important reasons I am here , is to learn and grow and at the top of the curriculum, is love and forgiveness. There are no life lessons more valuable than this. Not in my book.

 

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Letting Go

 When I became a mother, I entered into a whole new existence. No longer did everything center on me. I moved to a place where everything centered around my children. They became my reason for living, and protecting them from the harsh realities of life was instinctual. But as they grew, I learned that you couldn’t protect them from pain, sadness, disappointment, hardship and even suffering because in this life, at some point, they are

At some point when my girls reached young adulthood, I had to face a hard truth. That it was time for them to make their own decisions and I had to let go of control. My role would be different. It would be about sitting on the sidelines of their lives and cheering them on. Watching them make mistakes sometimes and praying that they would make it through the consequences of those mistakes and learn from them. I remember that time. It was a feeling of freedom, relief and fear all mixed into one. But as the years went on and I watched them forge their way through life and create families of their own, it became easier and easier to relax, to trust and rest in the knowledge that I did my best as a Mom and actually raised good women. Watching their successes, their joys and their triumphs is one of life’s greatest pleasures. But, they would have to walk through some of their own fires in life and watching them get singed and even burned sometimes was painful for me as well, but continuing to be there, to help wrap up the burns, was my new role, not to prevent them.

Life brings more hardship for some than it does others. It is just the way it is. You never know in advance what cards will be dealt to you until you are staring at them in your hand. And there is no giving them back. You have to play the hand you are dealt; there is no other way.

It is this reality that brought me to a new place recently as a parent, to walk some ground I had never walked before on my life’s journey. A blazing fire broke out in the life of one of my adult children that had made the brush fires up to that point almost inconsequential, as her life was ripped open due to the sudden, and unexpected death of her still very young husband. And suddenly in the blink of an eye I was the parent of a little child again. A woman who is strong resilient and fiercely independent, was instantly transformed in my eyes into the little girl with the big brown eyes and pigtails who’s body I picked up and ran to the hospital with when she fell off of a wall and hit her head. The little girl who’s tears I wiped, and who I rocked and sang to and comforted all those years ago. I was not rusty. I was not at a loss as to how to react for it was instinctual. For months my life drifted quietly into the background and suddenly again I was waking up everyday asking myself what I needed to do for her this day.  

It’s funny how that happens in times of crisis. Real crisis, not the everyday bumps and bruises that we all need to experience to make it successfully in this life. The big, things, the tragic things. You recognize those things, when you see that strong responsible person that you raised unable to get up and brush themselves off. Not that they don’t want to, they literally can’t. You just know and you unquestionably become the parent of that little child again, and the process begins again of slowly letting go, like when they took their first step, or faced that first day of school, or stood up to that bully in the school yard. You stand close, but you slowly let go, again, as they attempt to carve their way through whatever pain and tragedy brought them to that place where they needed their parents again in a way they had not in a very long time. Depending on the severity of the blow, 10 days 10 weeks 10 months 10 years, you patiently let go as slowly as they need you to until they are standing strong against the winds of life once again and you move from being a fortress, a supporter, a guide to becoming more of a spectator of their journey, their biggest fan, smiling on the sidelines of their lives as you watch them soar. 

There is a memory burned into my soul that will be with me until the day I die. In fact there are a few memories like that related to this recent tragedy in my daughter’s life, some are hard to revisit as they are dark and sad. But this particular is neither happy, nor sad. It is just profound, and speaks to this very topic. It is the memory of moving through the airport, my husband and I, with the most precious and fragile cargo in tow. Our daughter and two Grandsons. Bringing them from their home in California where they lost the most important person in their lives, to rest, recover and grieve their loss in our home under our loving care. Their eyes empty of emotion and reddened with tears, a look of utter despair and ultimate trust in us, as we gently held their grieving hearts in our loving arms. Going through the motions of a process they had gone through many times, in happier times and for happier reasons. Moving mechanically, shoulders slumped, Mom clutching her boys, sons clutching their Mom and us, walking behind them with careful eyes on their every move, every facial expression, ready to pounce on their every fragile need. On the plane sitting strategically across my from my daughter, watching her clutching the remains of her deceased husband to her chest and waiting for signs of panic, knowing flying was difficult for her, even under the happiest of circumstances. Reaching across the aisle holding her hand with a lump in my throat. These memories will be with me forever. It was when I was called again to be that mother, before the letting go the first time.

Many months later I ponder the process of the past six months, as I watch her walk through the various stages of grief and I am struck with the realization that life sometimes comes full circle. Sometime we need to repeat processes. It has been a time of letting go just a little and then running to pick her up off the pavement and then letting go again. I am still very needed at this stage in her journey and it’s fine with me. In fact it’s an honor, and as she grows stronger in her journey there will be lots of letting go, again and again and again.  

By: JLE September 13, 2017

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Grief

I head over to her house to share in her excitement over a new thing being accomplished in her new home.

I just left her smiling with excitement in a text.

I walk in her door and my smile quickly fadeds finding her crumpled on the living room floor in tears.

A box half unpacked and his frequently used shoes spread out in front of her.

There are no words, only arms that hold and tears that flow.

She tied those shoes for him frequently in those last days when his legs were swollen with edema and he couldn’t tie them himself.

Grief is a monster.

By: JLE

Written June 2017

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Loss

 

Jerry,

We want you to know that we have your loves safely and securely wrapped in our loving arms. We are looking out for them and we are doing our best to comfort them over losing you. We will never be able to fill the hole that your absence has left in their hearts but we hope that being here to cry tears along with them helps them to feel a little less alone. You would be so proud of Tyler. He has been such a man through all of this. In the midst of his own personal grief that he keeps pretty private, he has shown such support and loyalty to his young brother and his Mom. His integrity is a testament to the Father you were to him. And Jay is a little mini you in so many ways. We see you in everything he does and says. He is your legacy. Danielle looks for you in every sunset and listens for your voice in the wind. She longs for you to visit her in her dreams. Her pain is great but we believe in time she will be able to feel you comforting her from where you are and reassuring her that you have not left her , really. Though she cannot see, touch or hear you,we know your spirit, all that made you who you are, lives on, in the hearts and minds of the ones you loved, those that loved you and were impacted by your life here on earth. I just wanted you to know we are taking care of them for you. Rest In Sweet Peace, Jerry. In God’s loving care.

Janet and Keith (Mom and Dad)

Written April 7, 2017

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If I accomplish one thing in this life I want it to be that I have left a positive message behind for my Grandchildren to take into the future world. Then I will not have learned the things I have learned in this life in vain. And hopefully your children and Grandchildren will grow up in a world that is a better place. So here are some things I think your generation needs to hear.

Don’t dismiss the wisdom of your elders, as irrelevant for the current times. They have much to teach your generation about lost virtues such as gratefulness, humility, and kindheartedness. Before you take a stand on something , educate yourself fully on what you are standing against or for lest you follow the path of fools. Your generation has limitless voices at your fingertips, telling you what to think and believe.  Most of them have an agenda. Blindly trust no one. Look at an issue from all sides, look behind the curtain and in every nook and cranny in your search for the truth. Stay of off the bandwagons of others. Travel your own journey and never follow mobs.  Do you feel you have a message for the world ?   Write a book, or make music, paint your message, but ultimately live your message before the eyes of others. Actions speak louder than words. It’s a lie that you must always yell to be heard. Sometimes the loudest voices are ones that are ignored because they deafen the hearer.  Look in the face of injustices and ask yourself how you may have contributed to it before you point fingers at others, then seek to be the first to turn it around in a better direction.  Take responsibility for your own mistakes, and never blame them on others or make excuses for them. Remember no one owes you anything.  Avoid victim mentality like the plague. It’s a prison. You will feel trapped  your entire life. Forgive, Forgive, Forgive. It frees your soul. Don’t allow yourself to become bitter or angry over the mistakes of past generations. Seek to learn lessons from your history and become a part of the solution, not part of the problem. Always spread love, not hate. Even when it is hate itself you are opposing. For returning hate with hate always multiplies it. Reject destruction of people and things, rather be a builder. Remember the world needs more peacemakers. Be a peacemaker, a helper, to the weak, the child and the animal world.

Finally do not neglect your spirit and your attention to spiritual things. You are more than a body and intellect. Every day, look up at the sky. Open your eyes and really look, you won’t regret it.  Look closer at the animals.  Don’t just take for granted that you live among them. There is a reason. Observe their behaviors. There is much to learn from them.  Live in Harmony with Nature, breathe it in, spent time observing and studying it, for there lies all the beauty and the secrets of your existence. You will never feel lost.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Maple Leaf

 
autumn-maple-leaf-wallpaper-3
For everything, there is a season, it has been foretold. When I was young and green, securely clinging to the branches of my family Sugar Maple tree, I thought it was the best I would ever be. But  here, now,  in the Autumn season of my life , rich with vibrant color that represents the wisdom of my age, I see what then,  I did not know.   Green to yellow to orange to red, I have graced this landscape with the glory of my aging, and have brought pleasure and beauty to my Mother Earth.  I release my grip from the branch on which I was raised, and flutter slowly to the ground with grace, knowing that returning to the earth from whence I came is my destiny in the cycle of life, and I will return, in season. 

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evolution-of-technology

Every day I see another rant, post or meme, from the older generation, knocking technology, particularly smart phones or social networking, claiming the development of these things has produced a generation of antisocial idiots. I for one am 60 years old. I grew up having to get my information from encyclopedias, dictionaries and telephone books. If a question arose, or we needed information, we had to wait until we could get access to these resources to find out what we needed to know.

We preserved our memories with snapshots taken with cameras that required purchasing film, and then turning in the film to be processed into photos. There were no selfies or unexpected moments captured instantly. If you did not happen to have a loaded camera on you, the moment was gone only to be preserved in your memory. We never knew how the photos turned out until we paid for the batch and got them back.

We escaped our mundane lives, by traveling to far away places, or living an adventure, through books that we borrowed from the library. We were allowed a limited number of books, and when we returned them on time we could borrow more.

We had transistor radios that we carried around waiting to hear our favorite songs when the station decided to play them. If we wanted to listen to music we loved anytime we wanted, we had to purchase records and tapes, if we could afford to, that is.

When people we loved moved away, we could only keep in touch through writing letters, mailing them, and waiting for them to write us back. Or talk on the phone if it was not a long distance call. We could only talk as long as someone else in our household did not want to use the phone. We could only hear their voice, or read about their lives in a letter.

I could go on and on, but let me fast forward to my life today. I do not think I was any worse for the wear growing up this way. But I also do not think I am any worse for the wear living my older years in the technology age either, if I embrace it and do not close my mind to its endless possibilities and its potential to enrich my life in a positive way.   Actually this shift has made me much more informed and knowledgeable about the world around me. It has also forced me to keep my mind open and always learning.

I have had access to the internet at home, through a desktop computer for about 13 years now. I currently own an ipad, a kindle tablet and a Smartphone. If I need to know something no matter where I am I have instant access to endless sources of information at my fingertips. I can capture any unexpected moment with a photo, and can review that photo instantly and retake it if I need to, then instantly share it with loved ones.

I love to read. And I still visit the library, and new and old book stores occasionally, because I love the charm and nostalgia. But I also have a wealth of books available to me at my fingertips on my portable wireless devices, whenever or wherever the mood may strike. I used to love to listen to audio books on tape or CD in order to read while riding a bike, or running or even housecleaning. But back in the day, it required, again, purchasing or obtaining these audio books from the library, and playing them on a cumbersome CD or tape player. Now I have any book I want to listen to at my fingertips on any of my multiple portable devices.

My children, grandchildren, parents and siblings all live in other states. But I can see their faces every day if I choose, through a Facetime call, or Skype, or a social network status that just informed me that my Grandson got a base hit in his game today, complete with photos of the special moment or even a video. I can play a game with a friend, relative or stranger from anywhere in the world. This would not have been possible in my youth.

I carry my Smartphone everywhere. Yes it is my phone and people can call me on it anywhere but oh it is so much more. It is a portable connection to my world. It is my camera, my video camera, my books, my dictionary, encyclopedia and history book. It is my telephone book, my US mail service, my portable bank, newspaper, television, radio. It’s my writing paper, stationary, journal and my game board. It’s my access to an instant coupon while standing at the register in a store. It’s a long-awaited correspondence from a friend and a reconnection to an old friend. Most importantly it’s my connection to loved ones I don’t see sometimes for months.

I have only scratched the surface. But I think I have made my point. Balance makes a healthy life. Although I can instantly pull up a beautiful high-definition photo of an autumn forest scene and post it on my Facebook page along with an inspiring quote, by no means does that take the place of an actual walk in that forest hearing those words of inspiration rained down on my spirit by my creator. It has not replaced these moments of walks in nature nor face to face conversations with people, nor real hugs rather than cyber hugs. It has only added to these life experiences, making connections with people and the world around us possible despite obstacles. One of the most loving families I know today are a high technology family. But they also hug and talk and play together even more than I remember doing in my childhood.

My fellow older folks. Please lets not label and generalize about an entire generation because we as humans obsess a bit too much over things that are new and exciting to us. Every generation has that challenge. Remember the weird girl in school who always had her nose in a book, a physical book? We called her a bookworm. She was antisocial because she did not know how to balance what she loved with what she needed. She is not much different from the 15 year old girl with a smartphone today that has to be reminded about balance. Remember being so obsessed with your favorite band that you walked around with your radio or tape player to your ear and did not socialize with the relatives when they came by, or how your parents complained because you spent too much time in your room listening to your records instead of hanging out with the family. My grandmother used to always comment on how music in her day was something the whole family shared together. In her day, every child learned to play the piano, every household had one, and each evening after dinner the family would sit around and listen to one another perform. This family tradition had died or was dying when I was growing up in the age of musical recordings. We didn’t grow up stupid, untalented  or antisocial because of it. In fact we raised the genius kids who invented all this technology that some, like myself enjoy in my Golden years. It would be narrow minded to presume that because this generation learns differently than we did, they are not smart.  The tech savvy people I know are pretty brilliant. Have you ever had a five year old show you how to download an application to your phone ?

I know there will still be some who will disagree with me, and by no means am I suggesting that  everyone should have a smart phone. If it’s not your thing, do without it, but I will end by saying this. Technology is by far, not the enemy of our grandchildren’s future. There are much worse threats out there.

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daydream_sky_by_pagihari

People who write don’t normally sit down and say, Ok I am going to write now, as if turning on a switch. Writers talk to themselves a lot. Their inner dialogue leads to inspiration that can strike randomly at any time and anywhere. 

So, I am in the airport waiting on a delayed flight, just thinking about stuff. I like what is going on inside my head and want to write it down while it is fresh in my mind, so, out comes my iPad. 
The following is just that: My random thoughts about stuff. And pretty “spot on” to the thoughts I often entertain.
I think that love is the cure to all that plagues the human race. Others will argue, no, God is. The fact is, I agree, since I do believe that the concept of God and Love are synonymous with one another.
Peace and harmony are high up on my list of must haves for my life. I would rather move on with my life than waste time and energy on negative situations. 
With that being said, I do not necessarily run from challenges. I often find myself compelled to play a role as peacemaker, problem solver or voice of reason. However, I choose my battles wisely, avoiding conflict when I do not feel it is worth the effort and risk to my own balance. When I do feel a conflict is worth the effort, I take special care not to allow the negativity to suck me dry of my energy. I wear a sort of armor, a shield against the negative forces that can rob me of my peace. 
I do believe however that I cannot change people. And that love and the desire for peace needs to be a two way street. When I fail to enlighten people, or bring clarity to a situation enabling others to break free of their bondage, that’s when I decide to move on. The turmoil will not serve me well. I am saddened by people who are prisoners of their own hate, bitterness and  jealously. But I will go my own way with a prayer in my heart for them rather than be infected by their disease.
Some would say, “wouldn’t suffering alongside the suffering be a more loving  thing to do rather than abandoning a sinking ship ?”Well misery does love company. That is true, but the world of negativity is far from a  lonely place, as miserable as it may be.  Sometimes the true peacemakers are the lonely ones, misunderstood or dismissed as idealist dreamers of fairy tales and happy endings. 
I don’t mind being described this way. I just journey on trying to preserve the love of the life I have been given, the people I live with and the world we all live in. 
There is a better existence beyond  this life, where love will prevail and peace will reign. I am certain of that. 
JLE

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The Stages of My Life

the-path-of-life-carrie-bennett

1:Birth to Twenty
These were the years of growth and discovery. Here I learned to dream. I learned to hope. I learned I could find comfort in my hopes and dreams. I learned I could cope with difficulty by drawing from a strength within me, when there were no resources from the outside. I learned there was more, more than what we could see with our eyes, or touch with our hands. I discovered magic and miracles and secrets that not everyone knew about. I learned there was more to me than a body and a mind. I learned I had a spirit/soul and that it was very special. I learned I had power that no one could take from me. I also learned that not all people were good, And that there was a lot to fear in this world. That I had to protect myself because there was no one else I could depend upon on to do that. I also learned that I could fly. In fact I could soar to great heights if I so chose. I learned that nothing was really impossible if you wanted it bad enough. I learned to believe.
2: Age Twenty to Forty
Here I chose a path that took me on a journey away from my true self. In my deep need for love and acceptance I followed romantic love on a march to the beat of someone Else’s drum. All the dreams and hopes and wishes of my youth were put away in a box on a dusty shelf as I lived to please others and seek my self esteem through the roles I played in the lives of others . My spouses opinions were mine, as well as my preferences, tastes, and all manner of things. I was a mere extension of someone else. As for my soul, I turned to organized religion, shrinking my innocent spiritual freedom into a list of do”s and dont’s to follow the crowd, and again, gain the love and acceptance of others. Until I faced hurt and betrayal and lost all that I thought was important to me. It was then that I discovered what was truly important. The Spirit inside of me. And it was the best thing that could have happened to me. The darkest hours really are just before dawn .
3: Age Forty to sixty.
Here all the things I learned in childhood I finally was able to put into practice. I returned to pursuing dreams . I resumed my youthful practice of hope. The strength I learned to draw from within as a child served me well at the start of this stage and I was more fearless than ever. I realized I still believed in miracles and magic. During this stage I have discovered who I am. In body mind and spirit. I found my own opinions and tastes and preferences as an adult me. I discovered skills I never had the chance to develop. I accomplished things I never knew I could. I learned to nurture myself. I weeded out the things that help me grow and the things that do not. . What serves me well in this life and what does not. What is healthy for me and what isn’t. I have learned balance. I have learned that I am on this life journey for a divine reason. That I will make mistakes along the way because I am not perfect and am not expected to be. And my creator loves me unconditionally. And that the best way I can love my creator in return is to love that which he loves so dearly. Myself. I have learned that forgiveness of others and oneself is tremendously freeing. I have learned that what others think of me is not nearly as important as I thought it was in my youth. I have discovered that good relationships are all about balance. If you make them all about you, you will lose people eventually. If you make them all about other people, you will lose yourself in the process. I believe that love fixes almost anything but people don’t always know how to define love correctly.
As a child I learned how to fly, and I do that regularly now. I soar to great heights in my spirit. Because I am truly free.

So here I am at another twenty year mark. Will this be the beginning of yet a new stage ? I cannot wait to find out.

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