Attention Friends & Family (and all who stumble here unaware):

You may or may not have received notifications of a new website/blog associated with this one (madranchwife.com).

Gracelyn has branched out and can now be featured at:

http://www.thehistoryofwomenssuffrage.com

Her website began as part of her Girl Scout Silver Award. She has now added a “Current Events” page which will feature various and sundry topics. There is a place for you to subscribe to her website/blog for any and all updates. Just enter your email and let magic take its course!

At least we believe this is how it will transpire. Because I have the power of the purse, so to speak, her website is attached to mine. This has been troublesome at times, but there is no way around it for the time-being. Thus, there may continue to be confusion for awhile as to who is exactly posting new content as who, but bear with us. We’ll find a way to make it work.

Do check out her site, if you haven’t already. She set it up all on her own. The only parts I contributed were, as mentioned above, the purse/financial backing (Ha! As if I’m a “financial backer…”) and the role of camerawoman.

It is late. I am tired. I simply do not have the stamina I used to and the bed is beckoning.

Vaya con dios mis amigos/amigas.

These are interesting times indeed. Be safe. Be healthy and for the Goddess’s sake…wear a damn mask.

Blessed be.

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Fire and Ice (Guest Post by Gracelyn)

I have read of people with hearts made of ice.

They shatter, freeze again, and go on.

 

My heart is made of fire;

It burns with every moment,

Every second an inferno.

But some things are too much

For a heart such as mine.

Every moment, every tragedy,

Every second of sorrow,

Freezes out the flames, and

Shatters them, and

 

My heart is made of glass,

And I’m left to pick up the pieces.

My heart is cold;

It is frozen over,

Like the walls of

Brick of sorrow, mortar of tears,

 

And my heart is made of ice.

 

Blessed be to all.  We will survive.  We sleep tonight to wake tomorrow to fight another day.

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The state of everything

I’m sitting on my porch and can see the mountains in the distance. And the sky is blue.  And I don’t smell smoke.  Today is shaping up to be a glorious day.

Thing is–every day can be a glorious day.  Even the ones that begin with smoke heavy in the air and no mountains in the distance.

It’s all in how I frame it. The last several months I’ve had to work hard on being in the moment, on being grateful for what is–not wishing it would be different.  This is, at times it seems, an exercise in futility.

Something is always beckoning for me to be irked by.  Someone is doing something that I feel I must comment on.  Someone said something that I am absolutely positive deserves a stinging response from me.

The truth is so much starker than that.  In reality, there is nothing more important than the breath I take right now.  Right here, right now.  This moment is all I have.  What I choose to spend that moment on will dictate how the next moment unfolds.  The trick for me is realizing this and being able to take a step back, taking that deep, cleansing breath and saying to the Universe: “I am here.  I am present.  Give me what you’ve got.”

Then I can move to the next moment.

Easier said than done.  So much easier said.

I don’t know what it is in my psyche, what was laid down long ago or what has been added to since, but it is truly a daily struggle for me to live peacefully.  To be serene and calm with the world swirling around me.  I wrote to someone that I long for serenity and stability in my world.  After I typed those words I thought how absurd they were.

I am in charge of how serene or stable my world is or can be.  Yes, there is chaos, confusion, despair, injustice dancing all around me.  But I do not need to jump into that miasma.  I can take a step back, take a deep breath and decide for myself and the health of my family how to proceed.

I can plan a path through the uncertainty. There is much to be said for the saying “I am the captain of my own ship.”  The chaos doesn’t dictate to me my actions.  I can choose to pick my way through it, knowing when and where to engage, knowing when to back off.

I’m being intentionally obtuse about said chaos.  There is no one single thing that is irking me, that is causing disruption in my soul.  It is a collection of where we are today as a nation that is creating this unrest inside.  I cannot put words to paper, so to speak, regarding the angst I feel as the angst is multi pronged and threatens to overwhelm me.  To drag me under into that swirling black hole of despair.  I am close to it.  I have been dancing at the edge of it for many months now.

Some days it seems all I can do to take another step.  I hesitate to even type those words.  I live a life of immense privilege.  I have everything I need at this moment to be secure in my survival.  My little family is healthy, safe and sound.  We have what we need–physically.  But emotionally and mentally and spiritually, we are hurting.  We see what is transpiring all around us.  Some people are able to walk through this life without being overcome with emotion at the suffering all around.  They are not bad people.  They are not uncaring or cold or hard.  They are simply able to walk a path for themselves that doesn’t get mired down in misery and despair.  I envy those people.  I have always been highly sensitive to suffering.  Perhaps that explains my career paths.  I am keenly aware of emotional pain of others–both the two-leggeds and the four-leggeds.   I seem to absorb this and internalize it….at which time it wreaks havoc on my own mental health.

I’m in that place now.  A constant stream of emotional pain seems to be bombarding me from all sides.  I find I need to turn it off for my own survival, but at the same time I am forced to keep moving forward into those areas of perceived pain.  I cannot disengage completely as I would like to.

I am not sure if any of my words make any sense.  I just know that sitting here with the cold breeze (fall is surely close) and the blue sky I am aware of the blessings in my life.  I am aware of the need to affirm my gratitude for those blessings.  I am also aware of the absolute necessity of recharging my soul.  Girding myself for the battles to come by taking a step back when I can and learning to be in the moment of peace.

I have this moment.  I will relish it and be grateful for it.

Namaste.  Blessed be.

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Irish Eyes by Gracelyn

Irish Eyes

The Irish are a people so starstruck,

It’s said they always see fairies before their eyes,

And if this is true, as I believe,

It might explain their lovelorn sighs.

 

In that land, far away across the sea,

Where Kings clashed

And tempests raged

And stories are told of other days,

In that land so lush and green

Is held a piece of me.

 

For I can hear her singing,

A song I’m unable to ignore,

And though I’ve never been there,

I long for her distant shore.

 

An American girl too far removed

From her native island,

Although I have no claim to make,

I feel it is my land.

 

I wish I could go there, 

And traverse the land that I admire,

But for now my heart shall evermore

Pine for the shores of Eire.

 

The inhabitants of my native shore

Are cheerful, living on their island.

And when I join my family,

It will be in Ireland.

 

Happy belated St. Patrick’s Day to all.

Blessed be.

 

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Brittle

brit-tle
/’bridl/
adjective
1. hard but liable to break or shatter easily
Synonyms:
breakable, splintery, scatterable, fragile, frail, delicate, frangible, rigid, hard, crisp
Antonyms:
flexible, resilient

I’m brittle.

I’ve just come to this realization.  I didn’t used to be this way.  I used to be flexible and resilient, bending and not breaking.  No wind gusts knocked me down.  The roiling waves of San Francisco Bay and the Farallone Islands didn’t fell me.  I held on to the railing of that boat and swayed and moved with the rhythm of the ocean, while all around me fellow whale-watchers turned green and succumbed to Mother Nature’s assault.

I marched through life, girded for battle against those who told me first I was “too professional, not laughing enough, too stuffy” and then a few short months later “you’re not being professional, you’re not doing it right.”

I’ve been bullied since the 1st grade when a group of classmates held me still, around the corner of the building at recess, while one little boy peed on me.   I fought back by learning cursive during lunch period and doing 5th grade math in the hallway with another fellow student (he wasn’t the urinator).

In 4th grade my nickname became Dogface because I dared to excel in my studies.  I studied harder and continued to get A’s.

In 6th grade, proud of my new zip-up boots that were close to the latest fashion item, I was quickly surrounded on the playground by a group of girls who told me how utterly stupid I looked with my pants rolled up to mimic the knickers they wore, showcasing my new boots.  I kept wearing the boots.

In 7th grade, a girlfriend became jealous of my quarterly leather bookmarks with my name stamped on it, given as reward for straight A’s.  She organized the rest of the group of girlfriends to shun me.  I kept getting those bookmarks.

I could continue on through high school, college, graduate school, veterinary school.

But I’m looking for light and love this morning, not darkness and despair.

There were some very tough times.  Scarier the older I got as the darkness got darker.  But no matter how low I seemed to get, no matter how overwhelming the depression, I never broke.  I swayed.  I bent…sometimes all the way over to touch the ground it seemed.  But I never broke.

I want to teach my daughter resilience.  I want to teach my daughter how to bend and not break.  I want to pass on to her that at the lowest points of your life, it is always better to fight back, to stand tall, to reach for the stars, to ignore the haters, to find the love, to smell the flowers, to cherish the sunsets.

But I’m faltering lately.  The last three and a half years have withered my spirit.  They have dimmed the light.  I fight daily to appreciate those sunsets and the snow-shrouded trees, the cerulean blue skies, the crisp winter mornings.

But I’m still brittle.  Some days I feel I might just snap off a piece or two of me.  And then what?  Do I super-glue it back on? Will that work?  Do I want it to?  There are parts of me that I don’t recognize now.  Parts of me that have become so deeply rooted in me the last three and a half years.  Hate, fear, darkness, despair.

No.  I will not let the Dark Side win. I will be the 1st grader who fought back, the 4th grader who continued on, the 6th grader who didn’t let the bullies win.  And so on and so on and so on.

I have been here before.  Bullies are bullies are bullies.  They are not me.  They do not define me.  We each get to say who we are.  We each make our own story.  The bully in the Office with no corners doesn’t get to make me break.  I have fought for too long and for too many reasons to give in now.

I will be the person standing on the deck of that little boat, swaying with the waves, bending not breaking.

“These are the times that try women’s souls…”

 

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Hello everybodyeeeeee!!!!! (in my most awesomest Grover imitation)

Sesame Street Television GIF

(I don’t think that plays the audio, so you’ll have to search your memory.)

BUT.  Do I have news for you. Holy buckets, holy guacamole, holy cow, holy moses, holy toledo, holy everything.  Hold on to your hats, your neckerchiefs, your knickers–whatever else might not be pinned down.  We have had an insane (INSANE) few months and I figured it was about time to let you in on it.

I don’t even know where to start.  The beginning might be the best.  But where exactly is the beginning of the chaos?  Hmmm.

You know those worksheets the counselor gives you–that tell you to circle all of the stressors in your life, at the current moment?  The ones that sort of rate the top stressors, like moving, a new job, a birth, a death, a marriage, a divorce.  Life-changing experiences basically.

Right.  Well, we ticked off a WHOLE bunch of those starting February 1 of this year.  Since that time it feels like I’ve been treading water in a swimming pool that just keeps having water added to it, so that at this time my nose is barely above the surface.  Kind of like when the iceberg calved a chunk of ice the size of Greenland (yes, the island nation that wasn’t for sale) into the North Atlantic Ocean and the water rose.  I’ve got some icebergs calving and some sea levels rising.  And some circuses to run and some cats to herd.  With a few chickens added in just for fun.

What in the Sam Hello am I blathering on about?

Major. Life. Changes.

Dear Husband (from here on out referred to as “DH”) decided to explore new career possibilities.  At the beginning of February he unfurled his wings and began working for a land reclamation company, headquartered several miles away.

Yes, this created a domicile disturbance.

We looked high and low and prayed to the realtor gods & goddesses.  (Yes, those are a thing…you didn’t know this?)

Someone said the right thing to somebody or some god/goddess and voila!  A new house/home.

I’m leaving out the weeks and weeks and weeks of hair-pulling-out madness in trying to get a mortgage for said house.  True and utter insanity ensued.  My theory: mortgage companies don’t really want you to get a mortgage.  They make the hoops impossibly high and impossibly small that you are required to jump through, so that eventually your spirit is broken and you walk away saying “I didn’t really want to buy that house anyway.”  Holy Mary Mother of God but that was intense.

On the other hand, because the process was fraught with ups and downs rivaling Mt. Everest and the Marianas Trench, by the time it came to sign the papers and walk in the front door of our new home, we were all exhausted.  Saying goodbye to our little slice of heaven that had been our refuge for 10 years seemed like an afterthought.  Dear daughter (DD) and I were incredibly worried at how sad we might feel.  We weren’t sure what the Universe had in store for us and were hesitant to take the first step to find out.

Oddly, our first sign that we were going to be ok came as we drove home from signing the papers for the new house.  The title company was a few hours away so we’d left mid-morning.  A storm must have come through while we were away as the road in was a muddy mess (something which I do NOT miss).  As we approached the overhead, the sun was setting in the west and shining brightly, as if the Heavens had parted and our last drive in was being serenaded.  I came around the curve and lying on the ground, blocking the road, was the overhead!  Toppled over into our path.  As if to say “it’s ok that you go now; our time here has been magnificent and I have stood guarding you faithfully.  But now I’m weary and I need to lie down and rest awhile.  So go on your journey, with my blessing.”

Maybe it wasn’t really saying that.  Maybe the wood had finally rotted out at the base; maybe the storm that had come through blew it over.

But DD and I like our interpretation as it helped us to say goodbye.

So, we moved.

This is already long enough.  You don’t need me to elaborate on the move.  Suffice it to say:   “We moved.”  I’ll spare you the intensity, the chaos, the madness, the sadness, the eagerness, the excitement, the exhaustion, the friends and family who helped, the apprehension, the fun, the not-so-fun.

Spring (which is pretty much nonexistent here) yielded LOTS of snow at our new abode.  Holy moses.  Snow in May and June (on the Summer Solstice no less).

End of year dance recital, summer camps (first ever week-long sleep-away camp for the DD!!) including Survival Camp and Camp Wild, Theater Camp to put on a production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream and dance camps.  Mountain bike rides, dinners with friends, hiking with canine buddies.  Rainbows, rain, wildflowers.  Bright blue September skies.  Fall foliage.

Saying goodbye to old friends.

 (Belle Dog, see earlier post for her)

Welcoming new ones.

Meet ELLIE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Now you’re caught up.

I’m sure I’ve left out myriad details and colorful tidbits, but it’s late.  And I’m tired.

We’re not far from our previous abode, but we feel we belong here, in our new slice of Heaven.

The coffee is always on.  The dogs are always ready for new faces to lick and belly-rubs to receive.  Stop by if you’re in the neighborhood.

Be grateful for what is.  This moment is all we have.  Soak up the sunshine.  Smell the aspen carpet.  Be dazzled by the brilliance of Nature’s palette.

Blessed be.

 

 

 

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One last time…Belle taught us how to say goodbye

~Belle Coyle~

 

We said goodbye to Belle this afternoon.  For those of you that didn’t know Belle, she was my mother’s faithful Golden Retriever companion for the last many, many years.  She filled the void left by Scarlett, though in ways that no-one could have predicted.  Scarlett, for those that recall her, was a princess.  The Princess of Golden Retrievers.  Quiet, restrained, composed, dainty.  Heck, she even drank water in a dainty way, with absolutely nary a drop on the floor or spilling out of her mouth when she was done.

Enter Belle dog.  Belle was a stray, rescued from the street, somewhere in Kansas.  She was, to everyone’s best estimate almost a year old when she charmed my mother and wound her way into her heart.  That happened instantly, a sort of love at first sight if you will.

Me?  It took much longer for me to be charmed by Belle dog.  MUCH longer.  She was a force to be reckoned with, barreling down the stairs and charging into whomever was lucky enough to enter the house.  She was a gangly Golden, all legs, with unfettered exuberance for life.  Breakfast time?  Don’t stand in the hallway or God forbid be on the stairway when Belle came roaring out of mom’s bedroom.  I can’t tell you how many scratches appeared on the door of my car, as Belle felt the need to jump up to greet me before I’d managed to turn the car off and step out.

Gracelyn was 5 months old when Scarlett died.  And a few months later Belle dog arrived.  Naturally, as a new mom, I was wary.  Naturally.  I was also incredibly nervous about how my tiny mum was going to contain this irrepressible Force of Nature–this dynamo that seemed to be a canine version of a pinball, let loose in my mother’s house.

I will be the first to admit that Belle dog and I didn’t see eye to eye on many things.  I withheld my affection as I was trying to protect my little girl from any harm that could be caused by this whirling dervish/Tasmanian Devil in a Golden Retriever body.

However, the harder I tried to stand back, not make eye contact, be restrained in my communication with Belle dog, the harder she tried to make it happen.  Her efforts to engage me intensified exponentially.  Today, I cannot remember exactly when it happened, but at some point I began thinking that it seemed Belle dog had something to say to me.  And that she was trying and trying and trying to get my attention so that she could tell me what it was she so desperately needed to tell me.  To be honest, I was irritated that she wasn’t like Scarlett.  In my humble (albeit narrow-minded) opinion, I thought mom needed another Scarlett.  A Golden Retriever that was dainty.  Refined.  Quiet.  Mild-mannered.  Would not run into her and lay her flat just because she was excited to eat.  Would sit quietly by her feet while she read the paper and not bark at every car that drove by.

In my narrow-minded opinion, Belle dog was not that dog.  Again, I am not sure what caused me to stop and think “perhaps Belle is trying to tell me something?”  I remember catching her eye during one of her attempts to maul me with love and enthusiasm when I walked in the door.  They were reminiscent of another’s.  My beloved, darling Sundance,  Scarlett’s sister.  Not like the Labrador that would haunt me later in life, but like my Golden Girl Sundance, who died a few months before Gracelyn was born.  (That is a story for another day.)

I began to question whether Belle was attempting to tell me something.  I mulled that thought for awhile and the next visit to mom’s I turned to Belle and gave her my full attention.  I asked her what was so important that she had to tell me?  I sat with her a long while.  I asked her if she was trying to let me know something that maybe had to do with Scarlett or Sundance.  After a little longer, I felt a sense of peace wash over me and had the distinct thought in my head “I’m not Scarlett.  I know that.  But I’m good and I’ll be good and I’m so happy I’m here.  Scarlett wants me to take care of your mother.”

And just like that, Belle dog and I had a wonderful friendship.  She had finally delivered her message.  I had finally set aside my narrow-mindedness and let her in.  She still greeted me every single time with love and enthusiasm and unbridled joy.  And I still had to quickly get off the stairs when I heard her barreling down the hall.  But it was the beginning of a beautiful friendship, because I took the time to listen.

So, once again, my narrow-mindedness was simply that–narrow minded.  I know nothing.  Belle dog was exactly the dog my mother needed.

Belle became Belle dog because Gracelyn had a Belle doll at the same time we were getting to know Belle dog.  It was easier to distinguish them and to us, she is Belle dog.

Belle dog died this afternoon, going out on her terms, making mom second-guess her decision for the briefest of moments.  She asked for some dinner, cause it was dinner time.  She ate some green grass, cause the spring to summer shoots are the sweetest.  She barked at the new car that pulled up, wagging her tail eagerly to see who was coming to visit.  She lay in the grass and watched the world from the porch.  Cause that was what Belle did.

But, when it was time, she closed her eyes and left this earthly existence in the briefest of moments.  She was ready to go.

Tonight, all I hear, over and over in my mind, is the song from Hamilton in which George Washington asks Alexander Hamilton to write his farewell speech.  Alexander can’t believe it’s true initially, but eventually honors the President’s request.

The words that are ricocheting in my brain:

I wanna talk about what I have learned
The hard won wisdom I have earned

One last time, the people will hear from me
One last time, and if we get this right
We’re gonna teach’ em how to say goodbye
You and I
Mr. President- they will say you’re weak
No- they will see we’re strong
Your position is so unique
So I’ll use it to move them along
Why do you have to say goodbye?
If I say goodbye, the nation learns to move on
It outlives me when I’m gone

One last time, the people will hear from me
One last time, and if we get this right
We’re gonna teach’ em how to say goodbye
You and I

When any one of my canine companions have died, I choose a song for them that exemplifies their life and my experiences in sharing it with them.  This song has been on repeat all evening, and maybe because Belle dog was a commanding presence, just like General Washington and then President Washington.  She filled up the room.  She had an irrepressible spirit that was larger than life.  And tonight she died with a gentle, quiet wisdom that helped us all to say goodbye.

For Belle dog:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uV4UpCq2azs

Slainte Belle dog. Slán abhaile.   (Cheers Belle dog and safe home.)

 

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Everything old is new again

A hackneyed phrase, to be sure.

But never have more truer words been spoken.  Or written as is the case this morning.

I’m sitting in my chair.  My comfy, red, gorgeous, serenity-filled chair.  This is where I go when I need comforting, due to a myriad of reasons.  Headache, body aches, heartaches.  Everyone needs a place of refuge.  This is mine.

I digress.

I’m sitting in my chair listening to John Denver’s Greatest Hits blasting down the stairwell from my daughter’s room.  She discovered my old 33 vinyl album at Grammy’s house last weekend and has been addicted since.  Thanks to so many of us of that age wanting to slip back in time, small, portable record players were created so we could do just that.  Now my daughter has discovered my childhood/early teen years and much to my delight, I am transported to a different time and place.

John Denver is a balm for the troubled soul.  The words, the melodies…they soothe the mind.  My mind anyway.  I wonder how he would write about today’s issues.  In his later years, his songs were about finding peace.  They seemed more contemplative, more zen.  I wonder what he would have to say about what is going on in this country today.

For now, I’ll listen quietly to the sounds of my childhood and wrap myself in their loving arms.

We will all be ok.  I believe there is enough goodness and light and love to blanket this country and scrub away the hate and anger.  It will take time, but we’ve been here before.  We can do this again.

From “Sunshine on My Shoulders:”

If I had a tale that I could tell you
I’d tell a tale sure to make you smile
If I had a wish that I could wish for you
I’d make a wish for sunshine all the while

Here’s to sunshine .

Blessed be.

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Letter to Gracelyn

My dearest Gracelyn~

You are the most beautiful, loveliest, smartest, wisest, kindest, funniest person that I know.  And the fact that you are my daughter is simply delicious.  Spending each and every day with you is a joy.  I could not imagine my life any other way.  I thank the Goddess, the Universe, the Great Spirit, the Great Mystery, everything there is to thank that I am lucky enough to be your mother.  To be your guide on this journey here on Earth.  

I treasure our time together.  I treasure our relationship.  I sincerely hope that as we move forward on our shared journey, the relationship we share will continue to grow and flourish.

As your mother, I am keenly aware of the passing of time.  That is no secret to you.  I have tried to not be too melancholy about the speed with which you have grown up.  I have tried to make sure that you know just how very much I would not trade one single second of ‘now’ for any day or moment in the past.  It has all been a wondrous treat, each successive day outdoing the ones that have been put to bed.  

All of this being said, I think that both you and I are faced with the difficulties of acknowledging the passage of time, the changing of the seasons if you will.  We know but we don’t want to know that everything is marching on, forcing us to let go to make room for what is to come.  Letting go is so very, very hard isn’t it?  Letting go of things, tangible objects, as we grow out of them, or they become old and frayed.  Letting go of seasons as the winter and snow move to spring and then to summer and then to fall.  Only to start all over again.  Letting go of old friends, like our very dear Buck.  And soon Belle.  

Life is a series of letting-gos, isn’t it?  It is a constant snapping to attention of our conscious thought that we need to sever a tie or ties.  That we need to move on, move forward, move upward.  We need to make room for what is to come, for the bright, bold splashes of color just waiting to be experienced.   We need to live without attachments so that we may be unencumbered to receive the bounty that this world has to offer.  

It is my duty, my job, my responsibility as your mother to help you learn how to let go.  To help you learn how to move forward without difficulty.  To greet each new change in your life, in our lives, with open arms, a willing heart and a happy soul.   

For a while now, we have danced around the edges of some necessary letting-gos.  Both of us, I think, not eager to meet them head-on for fear of what that might mean.  Or what that might look like.  How it might change our experiences going forward.

I have avoided answering the unasked questions for as long as possible, not knowing how to say what needs to be said.  But I’m no longer comfortable with avoidance and I’ve had to think carefully about what words I should use.

I also am acutely aware that I want to be the one to whom you come when you need help, when you need a problem solved, when you have a question that needs answering.  This means the hard ones as well as the easy ones…..I don’t have the luxury of picking and choosing which one I’ll try to solve.  I need to be there for all of them.

Why am I writing all of this you may be thinking at this point.  Truth be told, I’m stalling.  Sometimes I can say it better with the written word, but now I’m not so sure. 

You are concerned about celebrating Easter.  Not so much because we are a very religious family and we believe in the Christian version of the holiday and you are excited that Lent will finally be over and Jesus will rise from the dead.  But more because of a big, slightly irreverent bunny rabbit with an Australian accent that will deposit loads and loads of chocolate in this household.  Correct?

Which is a wonderful reason to be excited, I do agree.  Chocolate is perfection.  Right up there with coffee.

I’m sure you’ve picked up on my hesitation, my reluctance.   But I also know that you are very, very smart and have danced around the asking as well as I have danced around the answering.  

“Are you the Easter Bunny?”  That is a question that all children eventually ask their parents?  Just like “are you Santa?”  

The answer is not simple, actually.  Because really, I am not Santa.  Nor am I the Easter Bunny.  Or the Tooth Fairy.  Or Jack or the Sandman.  There is no one Santa.  No one Easter Bunny.  

These Guardians are bigger than any one person.  Their work has gone on longer than any of us have lived.  What Santa and his friends do is simple, but it is powerful.  They teach children how to believe.  How to believe in something that can’t be seen or touched.  How to believe in magic.

Both you and I know how very important magic is, how very important it is to believe in things we cannot see.   To believe that the Universe is holding a message for us when one of our Animal friends crosses our paths.  Or when we sense the Thin Moments, those places that Celtic beliefs describe as passages to the other worlds.  

Magic is believing in things you cannot see.   Christmas is magic.  You and I have experienced this from the beginning.  Long before you were trying to get born into this existence of yours, I loved Christmas.  I adored the Christmas season.  The lights, the music, the smells, the tree, the decorations, the finding the perfect gifts to give, the baking.  All of it.  It’s all magic to me.  Then I had a sweet little angel baby doll that I could teach all the same magic to.  The Universe blessed me with you!  On the Winter Solstice no less, intensifying the sheer joy of the season.  Santa is simply one part of the magic of the Christmas season.  

We all need to have magic in our lives.  We need to be able to believe in something that we cannot see or touch.  Maybe that is the miracle of Santa and Pete and the Bunny and all the other Guardians.  They are the beginning of our belief in the magic that is all around us.  We must be able to convince ourselves that even if something can’t be held in our hands or measured, it still exists.  Like love.  Or  the belief in yourself that you are everything you need to be at any given moment.  

I have been the person who helps the magic get done.  Just like you and your magic tricks.  I have been the magician who fills the stockings and wraps the presents and hides the eggs.  (Yes, Dad helps. 🙃)  Just like my mother and father did for me.  And their mothers and fathers did for them.  Perhaps you will someday be the magician for your own children (or Bella’s).   The real magic for me has been seeing the joy and discovery on your face at these special times.  

But this doesn’t make me Santa.  And it won’t make you Santa, or the Easter Bunny either.  Because, as I wrote above, Santa and the rest of the Guardians are bigger than any one person.  Santa and the Bunny and the Guardians are love and magic and hope and happiness.  I’m just helping to facilitate their message.  

The miracle of Christmas and the Winter Solstice and Easter are not in what we get or in what we see, but what we feel and imagine and in what we give to create more love and magic and hope and happiness around us.  Your feelings of Christmas or Easter or the Winter Solstice are yours, to hold in your most cherished place and wrap them up with pretty paper and a colorful ribbon and bow.  To store your hopes and dreams and magic in, to be shared with those around you, to be given out to bless someone else’s life with.  That is the true meaning of these holidays I think.  To make them so magical and so beautiful and so filled with joy and traditions and smells and sights and sounds that we want to share as much as we can with others.  To give that magic and beauty and joy away to others.  

By letting go of some of our childhood beliefs, we make room for other beliefs.  We allow new and different magic to flood in and fill up the space.  It doesn’t mean we won’t celebrate these times and days and seasons as before.  We’ll still have the magic.  It’s just that we’re moving along in our journey to the next stop.   It means that I don’t have to avoid looking you in the eye for fear I’ll give something away.  It means I don’t have to worry about spoiling your magic, because we’ll be creating new joys and adventures.

I will still fill your stocking and hide your eggs.  I consider myself on the Guardians team and it has been my greatest joy to do so.  You are on the Guardians team too now.  I figure it’s our job to make sure that the brilliance of the magic is never dulled, that those around us can be reminded of it always.  

Sort of like the Force, you know?  It’s all connected my dearest.  The tapestry of our lives is woven through with silver and gold iridescent threads.  If we are quiet, calm and still we will be blessed and able to see these wondrous strands.  It is our sacred duty to share that lustre with those we meet along the way, to pass on the magic.

We will still have all we have had at these special times.  It’s just that now you’ll be more a part of the magic.  Learning how to create and give and make things special.  We’ll still bake cookies and dye eggs and decorate and watch movies.  We’ll revel in the magic of all that life has to offer at these special times.

I love you with every fiber of my being.  I am so very proud of the person you are, the person you’re becoming, the person you are yet to be.  

I love you to the moon and back, my dearest Gracelyn Cassidy.

Love, 

Mom 

(aka Guardian Team Member)

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Mom, quit being so melodramatic.

You know you’ve done it right when your beautiful, brilliant, wise, all-knowing daughter parrots back to you some of your bestest lines.

I made a statement the other day and maybe, just maybe, it might have been a wee bit on the dramatic side.  The 12 year old human that I live with immediately came back with “Mom, quit being so melodramatic.”

That stopped me in my tracks.  I realized that ok, yes, kind of, maybe, I was waxing poetic and entered into the realms of exaggerated melodrama.  As is my wont.  On occasion.  Many occasions.

I realized after a bit of reflection that I can easily get to that state these days.  I also realized that I routinely use that same line on the aforementioned 12 year old.  I think I’m hyper attuned to wanting to raise a daughter that is strong, self-confident, level-headed, intelligent, even-keeled, rational, wise and able to leap tall buildings in a single bound.  I want her to not meet the world with the emotional turmoil that I experienced during my high school and after years.  I want for her all the peace and calm I so desperately sought and did not encounter until well into my 4th decade on this beautiful planet.

For whatever reason I experience the extremes of emotion.  I always have, I do now, I forever will (I expect)–world without end, awomen.  (A shoutout to my Catholic upbringing.)  My husband, on the other hand, is pretty even keel.  It takes A LOT to shake that tree.  He is forever telling me “don’t look behind you, keep your eyes ahead of you.”  Now, he’s talking about when I’m driving, not looking in my rear-view mirror so much, paying attention to what’s in front of me.  But every time he says this I am reminded of how it applies to life as well.  I can easily get stuck in remorse and regret about what has been and then jump right into worry and fear about what might be.  Forgetting to be in the now.  Right here, right now.

Living in the moment takes away the melodrama.  Living right here, right now doesn’t afford the time to spin in circles, creating a whirlwind of chaos and worry.

I have wanted to teach my daughter how to greet life, each day, each minute, with equanimity.  With a  sense of peace and calm and acceptance and gratitude.  Some days I think I get there and I think I’m doing ok getting that life lesson through.

Or at least I thought I was doing a fine job of that.

I realized, after her comment to me last week, that I’ve let the last two and a half years affect my psyche.  Who hasn’t really?  I don’t think we can just put our heads down and ignore the drama and the chaos that is our current government.  That would be an abdication of our responsibility as citizens of this democracy.  So I’ve kept us in the fight, in the ring.  We’ve marched, we’ve written postcards, we’ve bought t-shirts.  Well, I bought the t-shirts.  Her pajamas include an HRC campaign t-shirt and an Elizabeth Warren “Nevertheless she persisted” t-shirt.  The news is on most days (luckily no television here, but my trusty satellite radio beams cable news shows easily.)

We are saturated in the daily hijinks of the man-baby running our government, as well as his minions.

I am fast approaching enough, to be honest.  I am starting to change to the jazz station more frequently.  I scan my Twitter feed in the morning for the updates and then log off.  There is nothing new to learn.  Every day is simply a rinse, lather, repeat episode.  He does or says something outlandishly outlandish, followed by general outrage and disbelief (as if we could possibly be surprised anymore by anything) and then we move on to the next one.

I’m tired.  I’m exhausted.  I’m being melodramatic because I’ve lost my center.  I’m not on an even keel and I don’t like feeling this way.

The chaos and drama and hate and fear-mongering of the last two and a half years have been truly mind-numbing and exhausting.  They have all collectively affected our spirits and if you’re like me, they have drained you of your essence.  We are better than this.  I am better than this.  I am more than a whole bunch of f-bombs.  I am more than the melodrama.

I am the mother of a 12 year old girl fast growing up to being a young woman who will embark on adventures yet to be told.  I have the formidable task of preparing her to meet those adventures with a clear head, loving heart and indomitable spirit.  (And that’s not being melodramatic.)

Blessed be.

 

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