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Archive for the ‘spiritual growth’ Category

I am compelled to write today, for I must think out loud…
Hard work is a blessing that I miss very deeply. Has it been 7 years since I lost my job? It is as if it has disappeared, and now is only a faint image on the side of a discarded old milk carton. “Missing: Julie’s job. Last seen in Westlake Village, California. January 2010”.
I long for the old days of the gift of being cursed with the early morning demands and slowing down in my car balancing my coffee cup in one hand, putting on lip gloss with my other hand as the yellow light looks down upon me with a condescending glance as it dares to turn red just above my head, out of reach.
Today, I quietly carry the burden of longing to have the mental and physical strength to work once more.  I dare not say this out loud because what I desire immensely, really, is to hear about a friend’s day at work and I do not want my truth to leave them with odd feelings of discomfort. “What are you doing? Tell me everything”, I say, as if they were on vacation in a beautiful countryside villa. “What was on the agenda? What did you wear? Who did you see? Where did you have lunch? What did you talk about with the other tourists?” Oh, to be a part of that rat race once more.
Not too long ago, I foolishly pushed my body beyond it’s limitations day after day while I ran in this undesirable race that I miss so terribly this morning. I miss it so much that my heart aches. Somehow, I managed to work for 11 additional years with this horrific illness until my body and my mind gave out and my job was taken away from me. (Twice. Two jobs.)
Chronic Lyme Disease and the co-infections are a tricky foe. I try to hang on tight to this horrific unfortunate roller coaster ride. Free falling. Exhausting. Frightening… I did manage to actually give an attempt to socialize a couple days ago at my neighborhood annual street party, but now I must continue to pay the price for using all of my precious energy. I did not pace myself well enough. Perhaps I still need that yellow street signal just above my head to tell me, “Caution – slow down Jules!”…
Today I have made the decision to accept that I am unable to count traffic lights as they turn from yellow to red on my way to work, instead, I choose to count the blessings that I can see from my bedroom window. 3 beautiful quail, a couple humming birds, another bird being outsmarted as it chases a crazy old moth zig-zagging about, white puffy clouds – and the changing shadows on the ground from the morning sunshine… Soon I will step outside just so I can say I got outside today. I know the familiar fragrance of my own back yard will fill my spirit with gratitude.
Perhaps I will call my son just to thank him (once more) for everything he does for me. No fun for my boy to have had a sick mama for half of his life. I find him to be the most compassionate, caring, funny young man that I know. In fact, if he wasn’t my son, I’d want him to be my friend, you know, I mean, if I met him at work, or something. My son and I both have gotten good at counting our own special brand of blessings and knowing just how lucky we truly are…
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My friend shared with me that his beloved 12 year old pup suddenly passed away. This has been on my mind…

As a result, I am mindful of when I was 4 years old & living with my family in Michigan with my Doberman, Hans. I have vivid remarkable memories of Hans. He was a true Doberman Pinscher, as the breed is known for being, “Always Faithful”. He was a big boy – I remember the age I was standing eye to eye with him & then I grew to be a little taller. My father was a brilliant dog trainer & the original animal lover. And my big brother & I loved playing with Hans in our back yard in the winter snow & the summer grass. Quite often, as I dashed out our back door, my dad would hand me a small paper bag full of trash to toss out in the big metal can in our yard. Each time, Hans would hide behind the trash can & as I approached, suddenly Hans would leap out & he’d jump & hop around me with glee! I laughed till my sides hurt! I fell for this again & again as he continued to lovingly play his own brand of hide ‘n’ seek behind the big trash can. I never got my dad to admit if he taught Hans how to hide & tease me in this way. But what I do know is that when our family suddenly moved into a small apartment the summer of 1962, before I started kindergarten in California, sadly we did not bring Hans with us. I am unable to remember where my beloved play mate’s new home would be that day – but I do know Hans took a piece of my heart with him. I wonder if it is possible to fill that special void of the loss of a fine dog. Perhaps it is due to that lost love that we must freely give to every dog we see in our new life with out our faithful friend at our feet. I do know, that with out the great companionship of Hans, the unexpected fun & laughter, the feeling of being protected – I would never have experienced that great level of unconditional love & compassion – as my heart grew to realize I’d never see Hans again, I experienced a painful sense of loss at much too young of an age. Hans was one of my greatest teachers. Perhaps my first teacher. My memories of Hans are my strongest childhood memories of Michigan when I was only 3 & 4 years old.

My entire life since the summer I turned 5, when ever I see a Doberman, my joy filled heart gravitates towards him & I hear myself softly say,”Haaans! I remember you. Thank you for teaching me about unconditional love. I will love you forever, right back!” For I too, am “Always Faithful”.

Budge in uniform 1955

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I continue to whisper out loud, I am doing the best I can, of course I will be ok and this too shall pass – I know this to be true. However, with that being said, I just had to share my truth for today with you, my universe outside my window.
 
I do not sleep well, however, last night I slept from 11pm straight through to 11am this morning, until the pains in my body woke me up like an angry old-fashioned alarm clock. Every ounce of my body felt like I had gotten bounced around in a bad car accident, or perhaps I stumbled and fell down a flight of stairs like a lifeless rag doll. This is nothing new and the description of the physical pain isn’t necessarily needed to make my point here… It’s the description of the emotional let down that haunted me since my tear filled eyes opened this morning. As if some kind of a grief for my own body landed heavily on my emotions during my sleep last night. It has not lifted from me for a moment today. A ball and chain wrapped around my emotions along with a king python showing no mercy. An emotional death grip.
 
Yes, yes, of course I count my blessings. Yes, my faith is strong. Yes, I have everything I need. But all around, every tiny crevice of today, was rough. Every movement of my body. Every thought that passed through my brain. Every beat of my heart. Every blink of my eye. Every moment I kept my focus in front of me. Tying the bow on each shoe lace. The hair touching the back of my neck. The lost voice of encouragement. Today. Today was an enormous insurmountable death defying effort as I gently wrapped my hand around the handle of my great-grandfather’s cane. Please, let’s keep our balance.
 
My list of things to-do will wait for me. Unanswered Emails will stand by in their inbox. Messages from doctor’s offices on my voicemail will wait. My cat, and my father’s cat, will still nap on the foot of my bed in their perfect harmony. The lizards and Quail will still stop to look in at us through the sliding glass door. The laundry will still patiently wait to be washed. My car will still be there when I feel up to driving it. And the sun will surely rise again tomorrow.
 
Nonetheless, somehow, without my permission, life is passing by too quickly for me. Like learning how to play double-dutch jump rope for the very first time, I am unable to skillfully jump in and join my friends. And my friends, bless their hearts, they continue to play outside without me – and I get that – it happens. But today I opened my eyes and something had shifted like Andrea’s Fault deep below my surface. Today I do not have the energy to be “happy for them“. Today I had a realization of the soul that I have officially missed the last flight to freedom as I struggle to withstand the force of the exhaust that successfully pushed me to the ground on the filthy burning hot runway in the desert.  
I have a grueling fantasy that maybe, just maybe, they are missing out on what I still possibly may have to offer. They are missing out on the beauty of my humble back yard. They are missing out on the nature that unfolds before my eyes as fall begins to get closer to winter in the desert.
 
As I continue to remain at rest in my bed, I look out my large south facing window and see the silhouettes of the trees darken on Tucson, as this particular day of important painful spiritual growth comes to an end. I’ve come to know that, “slow is the new fast”. Why not? It could happen. So, I’ve personally granted the body to take all the time it needs to get as well as it can. And that will be enough for me. And in this moment, as I witness the white stars begin to appear outside my window to the universe, I become acutely aware of what a blessing the life is that breathes in and out of my body. I am blessed – and for that – I am enough.

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cactus heartI’ve missed writing immensely. I just have not been up to it. It’s not because I’ve been on vacation. It’s not because I’ve been too busy throwing dinner parties or something. And it sure isn’t because I’ve been out riding my bike. The reason I’ve missed writing immensely is, well, because I’ve missed me immensely. My life as I knew it – as well as the woman who lived it – seem to be long gone. Not just with my chronic health challenges. But at this moment, it is my truth, that as soon as my 85 year old father was diagnosed with his cancer, something shifted within myself as well. The shift happened deep with in my soul. And since I said goodbye to him the morning of February 20th, 2014, my heart has been missing – perhaps misplaced in Tucson somewhere.

What an amazing lesson I’ve learn as my life was turned upside down in a heartbeat – the greed of both of my father’s ex-wifes came gushing towards me.  Now, I’ve seen cheap. And I sure have seen frugal. But, greed? Never have I seen such a sight. It is quite unattractive in a person. I can see now why greed is included as one of The Seven Deadly Sins.

I’ve had to pull the plug on my dark thoughts quite often. And it sure can come out in my writing. Which is bringing me back to the beginning: I’ve missed writing immensely – it is just too dark to share.  And I miss my father so deeply that it’s completely unbearable. How do people do this? I do not know how they have gone before me, but for that I am grateful. Yes, I am grateful for every woman who has shown me that it is possible to continue living with out their father. I am sorry for anyone’s grief who has walked this path before me. For now I understand. For now I know.

It has been too long since I have felt good physically. No one really can actually know the depth of my health challenges – I believe the reason is that it is so personal. And because what I really need in a conversation is hard to come by – don’t give me unsolicited health advise – give me encouragement. And the only person who filled me with encouragement my whole life was my father. He was not perfect. But he never left me. He did not speak negatively of his ex-wife (my mother) when she walked out on us when I was a child – he gave me encouragement as he himself tried to do the things “the mom” is supposed to do.  He did not offer much advise unless I asked – but he sure did give me encouragement! Someone like that is hard to come by. I miss the lost art of encouraging words. I miss my father… I am grateful and honored that I got to be his voice. And I am grateful and honored that I’ve been given the opportunity to be in Tucson.

As for my heart, it is just misplaced, I’m sure I left it here somewhere. Soon, I will hear God’s voice directing me towards it. And just maybe, just perhaps, it will be better than it ever was before…

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Once I thought that I’d live in California forever. But I didn’t.

Once I thought that my dad would live forever. But he was not able to.

I never ever thought that I’d live in Tucson, surrounded by my father’s memories.

But suddenly, I do.

I’ve never known the depth of this grace.

I’ve never known this level of humbling fatherly love.

My gratitude is bottomless. My blessings quiet me.

My love is deep. Therefore my grief is deep.

I am a lucky girl because I am my father’s daughter.

the little road to my refuge. I never thought it would be a place to begin to heal, but it is...

the little road to my refuge. I never thought it would be a place to begin to heal, but it is…

I am just going through the motions day after day, missing my father immensely.

But it is with these motions that I will persevere & find my way & a new life.

Because this is how my father taught me to live.

Keep on pushing until I reach the top of the mountain.

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For the better part of my life I’ve jumped into a nice hot shower, gone to bed and fallen fast asleep.  Who doesn’t, right?  For approximately 5 years now, the level of the Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue that I live with has made these 2 things incredibly difficult, painful and troublesome. I’ve come up with several survival plans to manage these necessities of life. However – during my father’s illness and passing and the domino effect that still continues to follow – it’s been quite, shall we say, challenging.

For tonight, I will execute one of my little feeling better tricks: The Gratitude List. More often than not, writing it works a heck of a lot better than thinking it… And I am so grateful, that, somehow, I am still sober…

I am grateful for the Tucson clouds.

I am grateful for the Tucson clouds.

 

I am grateful for my favorite flowers.

I am grateful for my favorite flowers.

 

I am grateful for, Peaches, my father's cat.

I am grateful for, Peaches, my father’s cat.

 

I am grateful I live on a quiet cul-de-sac.

I am grateful I live on my father’s quiet cul-de-sac.

 

I am grateful for the times I remain hopeful that some day I will live pain free.

I am grateful for the times I remain hopeful that some day I will live pain free.

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It is June 11th once more – today is my son’s 29th birthday. The following is a re-post of the day of his (fast) birth… And today, during this time of grieving for his grandfather, it is a joy for me to celebrate the man who my son has become.  After putting himself through night school for 2 years, my son received his MBA shortly after my father passed.  Not only do I celebrate my father’s life – I also celebrate my son’s huge achievement and my excitement for him and his brilliant future.  My son is my family. And what a blessed family I have…

Here’s the post I wrote 4 years ago, HAPPY DAY OF BIRTH, SON:

For many years on his birthday, I’ve called my son at 10:08AM – the time he was born.   I get a kick out of being that kind of mom.   25 years ago I was only in labor for 3 hours.   (Yes, I said three hours.)  When we arrived at  the hospital and got on the elevator, the contractions were so intense that I had to awkwardly squat down on my knees for fear I might fall from the pain.  Some how I spoke through my agony as the elevator started to move, “Oh my God, this baby is ready to be born”, I gasped to my then husband.  The people riding on the elevator with me did not say a word as the doors opened when we arrived on the maternity floor.   A couple of people helped me up and off I waddled – on my way to give birth!  My son was over due, ready, and starting to be born while I was still in the labor room (I’ll spare you the details) and by the time they finally wheeled me into the delivery room, Tyler was on his way!  I noticed my doctor had not even arrived yet.   “Where’s my doctor?!!”  Needless to say, things were getting a little exciting during my speedy “FedEx” type of delivery and apparently I thought that was as good of a time as any to start screaming my head off.   No, not like a woman in labor, but, perhaps like a woman who was witnessing a murder or something.   At that exact moment, my doctor literally burst through the doors of the delivery room.  He held his cloth face mask over his nose and mouth with his hand as the untied strings hung freely and  touched his plaid shirt.  As he was holding the face mask in place, I noticed he had on a beautiful, big artistic silver turquoise ring with a matching watch and band.  Incredibly masculine.   I felt relieved at the sight of my cool and hip doctor and stopped screaming as I got back to business and continued to push.  To my dismay, my cool doctor started to scold me for screaming at the top of my lungs – he had heard me from down the hall.  “Geeze.  Well, where have you been?”  I said to him.   And then he started to explain how first babies usually don’t arrive so quickly while one of the nurses started tieing his face  mask on for him while another helped him with his scrubs while I was pushing and pushing and . . .  then  . . . . silence  . . .  “It’s a boy!”   More of that silence.   (But he is lavender?  Are they all like that? Lavender?)  More silence followed by my son’s father crying and barely getting the words out, “I knew it was going to be a boy!”  He looked at me and said, “Can I hold him first?”  I nodded my head, “yes”.

The silence that was getting my attention was that my son was not crying, he didn’t even peep.  Not a sound.  It made me feel uneasy, I mean, after all, he was lavender too.  I did not remember receiving a memo on lavender babies.  “Is he ok?”

“Yes!”

“Why isn’t he crying?  Isn’t he supposed to cry?”

“You know what?  I don’t think your son feels like crying.  He is just fine.  A fine, healthy baby boy.”  I’ll never forget my doctor’s words.

Quiet new son Tyler was being held by his grateful sobbing new daddy.

And that is pretty much how my baby boy has been for most of  his 25 years, incredibly mellow, cool, calm and collected.  Totally together during any kind of confusion, chaos or stress that life can bring.   He just has that kind of demeanor, along with an occasional  joyous loud laugh that makes anyone want to laugh along with him.

Yep, amazing to think he was born 25 years ago.   My son was born in 1985.  I got divorced – as well as sober – in 1987.  The odds were completely against me to make it on my own, let alone be a good sober mom.   No child deserves a drunk parent.  A drunk parent can change even the most mellow of kids.   There is no reason or excuse to be drunk, especially when there is a solution and a joyful way of life to be found.   It is always possible to find a solution, eventually.

My last drink was on August 1st, 1987.  My 30th birthday.  I was ready.

My blessings are abundant.

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