HIGHS and LOWs with Mother Earth

I love Mother Earth and Father Sky especially as I feel the clouds cuddle me while riding my moped with its high-speed two-cycle motorcycle engine. I am distracted by seeing cans and bottles thrown to the roadside, feeling sad for mother earth and those who do not love themselves; so how can they care for her?

So, a few years ago I signed up as an Adopt-A-Highway volunteer for a few miles of Coddington Road, Ithaca, NY where Mother Earth’s beauty is exclaimed with waterfall gorges aplenty. Alas, beer cans aplenty ravage the ditches. Pepsi, a few Coke, Mountain Dew thrown in. It’s impossible to express the satisfaction I feel as I lower myself into the ditches and climb out to the “high” of salvaged beauty.

There are times when the cans are filled with dirt and weeds. Once, cigarettes stuffed a can so full that it took me more than ten minutes to pull them all out. I’m sure my fingers felt the distaste of soggy tobacco. But that is not the worst of it! Another time I found bits of some animal after its beer party. At first I couldn’t make out the parts of the pink flesh; after continuing to pull, hard, as the can openings are small, I came to a larger piece with a tail. A second mouse’s head appeared, this one more intact, even more difficult to remove. I felt the low of disgust as well as the high of completing this maybe 20-minute task. Was I freeing the can or the dead mice?

Another time, I found myself removing animal hair clumps, pulling, and pulling, determined to empty the Keystone beer (most frequent brand landing on my road) can so it could be recycled. I’m guessing it took me near 30 minutes to empty, and guessing it was the remains of a rat?

Only since January 2020 did I decide to keep track of how much money I have accumulated from these many cans and bottles. As Memorial Day approaches, the sum is $43.90. WOW! As the weather has warmed toward spring, I’ve been excited to drive to many waterfall hikes in central New York that I have never been to – continuing what my best friend, Gaylee, began with her Guide to Central and Western New York Waterfalls. She left Mother Earth plane May 3, 2019, yet her spirit is with me in new villages, gulleys, creek beds, to waterfalls which fill me with overflowing pleasure. I lean down LOW to pick up cans and bottles discarded in these places too, while selecting heart rocks from water-wonders to make borders for my flower gardens. To remember not only Gaylee, but also how Native Americans have cherished Mother Earth, most recently demonstrated at Standing Rock, where my granddaughter Denali joined them.

I greatfully adopt Mother Earth as my HIGHway.

 

Hol-i-Daze

 

Holy cow! I cannot stop smiling, after seeing holy referenced in relation to the word holiday, a holy day before the 12th century. As a psychotherapist, I have delved deeply into my vulnerable tears: broken down the dam(n) of repressed childhood hurts, becoming magnificent waterfalls flowing, yes flowing down my cheeks, creating singing creeks on my face. To the point of telling everyone, “crying makes me happy”, first heard from my male Bangladesh client years ago.

My tears became ‘holy’ to me, washing away long held anger at the church and my mother. It is not a fun re-creation – which is what a holiday is supposed to be.

Right? Yet, I felt so excited when my tears opened my eyes to seeing the message within the word EVOLution. I think it was around the turn of this century that I saw LOVE in the mirror image of EVOLution seen backwards. I have written of this revelation in my books, especially EVOLution of an Orgasm – retitled EVOLution of my LOVE because someone in my dentist’s office complained that the first title was not a family-oriented book. Maybe 3-4 years later, 2007, all-of-a-sudden I saw a fuller message in the word EVOL-u-ti-on. In the mirror: no-it-u-LOVE, saying it out loud. I jumped out of my chair, up and down, joyfully screaming: “WOW! That is the whole meaning of evolution! WOW!” Sometime later, I am gazing at the word HEART(s); one after another the words spill out:

Hear

Ear

Tears

Hert (phonetically)

She, he

Share, ARE, as earth, star, heat, eat, tea, hate, star(ing)

Rare

Which became a sentence:

Hear the hert through your ear as tears of he or she share who you really ARE. Then as the earth feels love…you will become a star, shining to heat your hate out…staring into the rare heart of LOVE.

I felt as if I was on holiday.

A celebration…relaxing with my connection to everyone and everything! Holy cow! The day I wrote this essay, I went to my usual lunch place, Ned’s pizza, and there on the counter was a magazine with a front cover advertisement for CBD Fresh Mozzarella imaging a cow being elevated by a hot air balloon! Holy cow! or Holy Mackerel Andy as my dad would say! *

 

  • When I googled Holy Mackerel Andy, I was surprised to find that it is a song sung by the Treniers in 1957.

 

NOTE: from The Book of the Two Ways, written over four thousand years ago: “the gods I created from my sweat, but mankind is from the tears of mine eye.”

No foolin…I love my COUNTRY

 It’s February 2020 and I am listening to NPR’s Onpoint, focusing on how we can know we are being told the truth by our government. One guest is a man raised in Iraq under Saddam Hussein, “a dictator who could kill anyone who didn’t have a photo of Hussein in their home or questioned who is imprisoned in a central Baghdad building.” I am shocked by this environment where he admits he had to lie to his children, his family, in order to survive.

Then, I think of my dad who emigrated to the US when Hitler was rising to power, being a rebel youth at age 17. He knew no English when he arrived; only an aunt and uncle in NY City who mistreated him so he eventually was on his own as a garbage collector or elevator operator, only able to speak, “going up, going down, watch your step please.” I am saddened as I write, being aware of the struggle for all of us to be free, to become ourselves. We humans have all been “traumatized” (word the Iraqi man used to not know the truth) by not knowing the truth. Of love.

And now more deeply appreciate why my dad became a US citizen, joining the US army to fight in WWII against his homeland of Germany. And why I have a vivid memory of our family’s 4th of July tradition: to walk to Cornell University’s Schoellkopf football stadium, to sit and watch several marching bands play in various formations, holding the American flag high. Everyone rose to stand as the flag floated by to exit the stadium when I see my dad tap the shoulder of the man in front of us saying: “Please remove your hat in respect of the American flag!”

My dad and many others (my mother was a nurse who took care of soldiers such as my dad) fought for the EVOLving liberties we experience in America – and yet President Trump tells thousands of documented (fact-checked) lies and tells the truth tellers it’s FAKE news.

I comfort myself knowing the historical pendulum swings from liberal to conservative, where progress stalls before lurching forward with: Black Lives Matter, Women’s Lives Matter, Gay Lives Matter, and Mother Earth Matters.

And why hiking to the many waterfalls of Ithaca, NY. and having a love affair with the National Parks, having hiked, and/or camped in 54 of them is another immense appreciation of how the TRUTH makes us truly FREE!.

I am a lucky girl!

 

 

 

 

Are we really STRANGERS?

For months, morning waking contains graveyard-like thoughts: Is my life worthwhile? Meaningful? Will my good health last? Memories…which ones last and why?

Maybe a week ago, I was climbing into my Jeep Liberty and suddenly am surprised to see a man walking in shorts toward the antique shop I just exited – called FOUND – where a LARGE painted fisted finger points at him and the stairs entering  FOUND.

It’s 13 degrees Fahrenheit!

I start to drive out of the parking lot, and abruptly turn in a circle to park in that lot again.  I walk into FOUND, finding that twenty-thirty-something bronzed attractive man. His flashy brown eyes and my gray-blues meet as I vocalize “Aren’t you cold in shorts? Where are you from?” He tells me he’s from Mexico and just came from the gym. Bashfully, I ask if I could take a photo outside so the huge finger can point at his boldness. He requests: “Please send me the photo.” I do. He replies, “Thank you!” If only I was 40 years younger.

A few days ago, I am dancing at a local winery and notice an elderly couple that I sense I have seen/met before. They are both under 5 feet tall, so at the break, I bend down on my knees next to their table to inquire about my familiarity. We’ve figured out it was at the Cortland Country Music barn a few years back. I ask: “How old are you? You dance so well together.” She’s 90 and he is 92…and brags that he has 20/20 vision with no need for a hearing aid. I am inspired to live another 20 years, and leave saying to them, “Don’t say no one has gotten down on their knees for you!” Laughing together, no longer strangers.

Then, yesterday, I was possessed by the idea to buy a small rug (3 ½ x1 1/2 feet) that would fit perfectly between 2 other much larger rugs in my bedroom: covering the ugly indoor-outdoor dirt-brown-wall-to-wall carpet. I drive to Mimi’s Attic, my usual go-to-gently-used furniture store where I bought one of the other 2 rugs covering most of the unpleasant installed carpet. The usual box of rugs has no small rugs; disappointed, I wander around until my eyes settle on a small rug hanging over a room dividing rung. The colors would blend with my other 2 rugs, connecting earth tones of red, yellow, orange and bluish gray. The rug’s label reads “Iranian prayer rug.” Being raised in a christian fundamentalist religion that I rebelled against and left at age 38; I am still healing from their strange abusive use of prayer. (I do ask the Universe to keep me safe on longer drives, and to send healing love to ill friends.) I sleep one night on my decision to buy the rug which now lies quietly between the two larger rugs, fitting perfectly.

Loving WORK

 

Even in my seventh decade I still struggle with feeling conflicted…between responsibility and carefreeness – where’s the balance? Is there?  Isn’t being a parent the most important work? On New Years day 2020, I hiked in upper Buttermilk Falls State park, a carefree day, not seeing psychotherapy clients (my part-time job). No plans. No one to be responsible for. My two daughters are doing well, having responsibility for their own children: my three granddaughters.

I wander off the beaten path that I’ve walked hundreds of times since my youth. It’s my hometown. I never tire of waterfalls, the music of flowing water. I lost my best friend, Gaylee to cancer 6 months ago, my hiking partner who began a heart-rock garden in a nature preserve in our hometown, Ithaca, NY., about 7 years ago. Since, I’ve collected many heart rocks from various parks, locally and internationally. New Year’s Day I spot a fat one – 3” thick and maybe 6” wide, perfectly heart-shaped. I write GAYLEE on it with the edge of another stone, letters of white. The earlier snow has melted…but not my missing her. I take a photo and send to my family and her partner, Jim. It’s no longer work to cry like it used to be growing up in a society still saying “I’m sorry” when tears arise.

I walk to see a taller rapid white waterfall and as usual I must take a photo of the two of us. (Less work to be lonely.) I cross over a stream I had never paid attention to before and saw a partially flat rock sticking out from the bank to the water. I pull it out, seeing a resemblance, an abstract heart-shape, completely flat. Instantly, I knew I wanted it as part of my flower garden pathway. I positioned it in the stream so dirt (mother earth) was washed off.

It wasn’t difficult to lift. Carrying in the crack of my left elbow, and in the fold of my right hand. Every 100 yards or so I must give my arms a rest, so lean it against a tree as I take in the bare beauty of oak leaves thick under my rubber boots. The sky is soft gray (Gaylee’s last name is Gray) which color I used to dislike, so non-descript, I now wear: my fuzzy gray coat and her gray-checked bathrobe, fondly. Probably, nine times I’ve lowered my heart-rock to Mother Earth in order to rest my arms, when a man walking by asks if I want some help.

I reply, “No thank you; it’s good exercise.” Little does he know; my heart feels pride in this work.

 

 

GIRLfriends and BOYfriends love

 

I lost my two best friends in 2019. My girlfriend Gayle to cancer. My boyfriend Antoine to a mental institution. Both were the most loving persons of my seven-decade life; the ones I could cry with anywhere, anytime, and for as long as I needed. It may not be surprising with my girlfriend as she was a psychotherapist like myself, although I remember a few years back while at the Psychotherapy Networker Conference in Wash DC where I was giving away my books at the BEYOND TALK THERAPY booth, one therapist saying: I can’t do “vulnerable” or was it be?

For me, vulnerability is what makes a best friend, (Karamo says it is the word for 2019) the best. Brene Brown says vulnerability is essential in order for us to connect with one another as her Ted talk went viral. Often, I hear ‘so-in-so is my BFF’ (best friend forever) …I guess that has to be in my heart, as my BFFs are no longer present in body. Surprisingly, Antoine was drawn to me because I cried in his arms, awkwardly for him, on our second outing together, hiking to waterfalls, where I become a waterfall of tears myself. Yes, I’ve cried with my four husbands, especially the fourth because I had evolved to becoming a primal therapist foundationally while being licensed as a Marriage and Family Therapist. But Antoine is unique, saying he was drawn to ‘being us’ although much younger than me, because: “I want a real relationship where I can talk about anything.”

In my own healing process, through connecting to my childhood pain, feeling ‘overwhelming grief…into unspeakable love,” as Washington Irving says, that I also connected to some of my past lives: one as a prima ballerina in Paris. I sensed Antoine and I were together back in the 1800s, as in this lifetime he has a natural ability to dance as do I. (Maybe we are a present-day Harold and Maude?)

I have made non-gendered friends with the feeling ‘helpless’ as a child and now as an adult, because I don’t understand how Antoine’s life, after achieving a master’s degree in physics at Cornell University, being so loving, now lives in a world of mental illness.

Worst Fears?

 

I

Veteran’s Day 2019 I was feeling pleased, maybe even proud that my day was planned well, during my usual 15-20-minute yoga routine. The tree pose is held for 60 seconds as I gaze out my apartment’s large window onto a field, a pond, and a backdrop of forest. I relish my daily view.

Soon, my hot coffee made at home is sitting in my Jeep Liberty cup holder.

As usual, I park in Wegman’s lot, ready to buy a hot or warmed freshly made bagel, when I see I have forgotten my purse. Stupid! I say out loud, (I just typed ‘stuoid wrong), yet within 5 seconds, I’ve thought of the possibility of laundry-quarters being in the glove compartment. I smile, knowing now I don’t have to waste time to retrieve my purse, as it’s not needed for my next planned task.

Yes, there are several quarters loosely lying in my glove compartment! Then, I remember how smart I was, sitting in my jeep, about to leave home, and thought to retrieve my gardening gloves from the garage. Does that mean my fear of aging is lessened?

Just yesterday, I’d visited my best friend’s gravestone, held her ashes in my hand, while I tell her how much I miss her, just 70, when cancer grounded her. Today, I am one of the lucky golden girls driving to another friend’s garage to retrieve 8 boxes of my books that she has stored. They are heavy. And hard to hold onto as I step down a flight of stairs. I feel greatfull. (misspell intended)

My next task is to gather 2 large bags of mulch from a village highway departments pile, which is on my way home, sorta. A short backtrack needed. As I drive, I am thinking I’d like to try a new road to see if it connects, as it feels to be in the right direction. Sorta. Boiceville Road is unfamiliar to me, smiling as I pass a development which might pass as doll houses, each a different color, you could call ‘apartment-houses?’ At the next stop sign, I turn right and within a ¼ mile, 2 mulch piles appear along with another smile on my face. SMART girl, I think. No backtracking necessary; only aging allowed.

 

II

The first day of spring 2018, I met a 25-year-old Cornell grad student at The Range, a local bar in Ithaca, NY, where I love to dance. We became an odd pairing, – like in the Harold and Maude movie – except Antoine gleefully lost his virginity with me (and 19 -year-old Harold didn’t with 80-year-old Maude). I am 72. Although he was struggling with despair, no longer wanting to finish his PhD in physics, he was loving, fun to be with, and intensely questioning the meaning of his life. He was already seeing a school psychologist but being in love was the medicine that helped him finish his Masters: “I couldn’t have finished without you.”

Being with a Marriage and Family Therapist, utilizing a primal feeling process as a foundation, Antoine learned to be in touch with feelings of anger he had buried by being the good boy – the “pleaser.” Being from France, he returned to his homeland in July and we continued an intercontinental love, flying back and forth over the Atlantic. By December, Antoine’s anger became rage and I almost didn’t fly to Guadeloupe as he had planned for our New Years. I was afraid. He was working with a Primal Therapist and I was assured he’d be okay; a prescription of Xanax in hand if needed. We had a glorious week, processing food and feelings while experiencing hiking to waterfalls, strolling through botanical gardens, swimming, making love, kayaking, snorkeling and scuba diving. He experienced two evening dips into fear, which Xanax and sleep redeemed. Just after Valentine’s Day 2019, he had a breakdown that necessitated a psychiatric hospitalization. With WhatsAp, we communicated daily until July 13th, when he showed up in Ithaca unannounced except by texts saying he’d been to Texas, bought a gun, and was threatening his own life as well as mine.

My fear upped the ante, so I had to call the police, and his parents in France. I never thought I’d have to obtain an order of protection from a man who was faithfully trying to heal his pain. He was escorted out of Ithaca by bus, flew to France and remains in a mental hospital at this time. How did this loving man turn into someone I feared?

 

III

One morning in 1976, my 2-year-old daughter Megan went missing. What else can you feel but panic. I called the police and searched our college town neighborhood. Within 20 minutes, the police called back to say she was found in a bar about one block away. Some kind man had called the police too. The rush of love, when she was returned to my arms evicts tears now.

And, when Megan found herself running in the dark at age 14. We were visiting cousins of my then husband, in Florida, an unknown neighborhood to us. Megan and I had started on a run as dark was approaching. She didn’t want to go as far as me, so she turned back, assuring me she could find her way, despite the looming darkness. When I returned, she hadn’t. My heart kept pounding, ‘I must find her!’ It’s the most monumental fear of all time, to lose one’s child. I got lucky.

WEEKEND special

This past weekend I flew to Detroit from my home in Ithaca, NY. To visit my oldest of three granddaughters, Denali. She is studying for a master’s degree in Business Administration, while I’m taking my last online prerequisite course in order to apply to Ithaca College’s Master in Education beginning June 2020.

It is our special one-to-one time, a rare gift as during the holidays other family members bite off her time too. She texts me, “Bring your dancing shoes; salsa dance Thursday night.” She’s in class, so I ride the ‘Smart Bus’ for an hour to meet her; to have dinner at Karls, one of her favorite restaurants. I’ve never been IN Detroit (only the airport), so I’m in her smart hands, and into her warm arms as she runs to meet me at the bus stop. Denali’s love is extra special (tears) to me – as if she is the loving spirit of my passed-on daddy.

After dinner, we retreat to her spacious apartment of 1930’s origin so we can change my clothes for salsa; she’s wavering on whether to go as it’s late: 10:43pm? My energy encourages us to proceed to her car. A large wooden floor welcomes us into the bar. She grabs my hand to pull me onto the dance floor where I lead her in salsa. Soon I was asked to dance which surprised me as the leaders are much much younger than me – more like Denali who is 26. Maybe a couple were in their forties. I’m 73, 5’9” with long straight hair, the natural color brown that my mother wore until she died at 80. (Maybe she had 10 gray hairs? Maybe that helps me?) Denali and I were both asked to dance until we left at 1am. Her tight dress and my tight jeans had a fabulous time! I’m extremely greatfull to be healthy and to be with Denali!

Friday, she has no classes; still we both study for 2 hours, and she helps me with my Economics quiz before we walk in Belle Isle for 2 hours. Our conversation flows like the Detroit river beside us. Gently. Easily. Deeply. Lightly.

She spotted a striped shiny green frog, colors I’d never seen before. I spotted a Great Blue Heron standing nearby us, me encouraging Denali to come closer. Quietly. Although cloudy, its reflection is seen. Clearly. I took photos delightedly. With no awareness as to why. Until, I wrote in my journal the next morning.

Denali and I continue our afternoon with a tour of the Nature Conservancy’s Aquarium and Botanical Gardens where we were photographed stooping under an Angel’s Trumpet loaded with very light yellowish blossoms. Hugely. Friday night we dance ballroom where everyone is 30-50 years older than Denali and I was surprised that she liked it…she says because she’s learning new dances where there are novices. Not so intimidating.

Shockingly, we couldn’t find any dancing in Detroit on Saturday night after we explored a couple vintage secondhand shops and ate a Yemenian dinner. Denali, then suggests she read an essay to me called, The River, by Adrienne Maree Brown.

Intimate, like realizing the Great Blue Heron’s reflection was significant as reflecting on who I am in my journal. What I feel…like great love for Denali, whose name means the great one.

Are there really accidents?

       I am one of those ‘supposed accidents waiting to happen.’ I was conceived inBremerhofen, Germany at the end of WWII, by rape.

I have written several times about my origins, because I learned that my dad was not my biological father by my mom shouting, “He’s not your father!” in anger, when I was 16. Was this an accident? It was my life’s most painful trauma; my trust was broken with the dad I loved and defended for years against my mother’s ugly accusations. Those painful moments unconsciously kept me from showing unbarred physical affection to my dad.  No longer was I able to hug him close like I do my two daughters and three granddaughters.

My dad wrote weekly letters to me while I attended Cornell University’s School of Nursing. In the 1990s, I reread those precious letters, sobbing in therapy for the loss of never being able to talk about what he addressed in one of his letters – to know the reason for my lack of being affectionately demonstrative. He never pressured me or asked me WHY to my face. I wish he had. I wonder still what I wrote back to my dad. After he died, I never found my letters to him, although I did find a few cards I’d sent to him extolling my love and appreciation, like on Father’s Day. I am sad and happy all at once, like when I take moments to look at photos of us being together hung on my living room wall. On my refrigerator door.

It’s like we’ve been in a car accident and I am the only survivor. Like when he died of a sudden heart attack at age 60; no chance to understand or repair our ‘accidental’ heart-broken distance created on that fateful day when I was 16.

Anti-abortionists say abortion is only acceptable, if the mother’s life is in danger, or if she is raped. Yet, I am glad to be alive!

So, am I an accident? Am I meant to happen?

 

 

SHORT cuts not so good?

I lost my best friend, Gaylee, May 3, 2019 – her six-year struggle against cancer lost – but never our enduring love. Her partner, Jim, and son, Damon, requested that remembrances said at her memorial June 29, 2019, be no longer than 5 minutes. I balked. Like Gaylee’s gray-silver wavy locks throughout her chemotherapy; her hair thinning, but not lost until her friend Gabrielle cut it short about two months before her leaving us. One month later, she proudly shows me her head shorn, enlarging her blue eyes to being bigger than life, like her ability to love!

I write her eulogy. I edit her eulogy. I say her eulogy out loud. It is 7-8 minutes long. I type it up as is. I have not lost the old voice which echoes please others more than yourself.

I ask myself what would Gaylee want. I hear her voice (tears) more loudly: “Keep your commitment to love.” The last, not lost, words I hear from her lips four days before leaving this earth plane. Never my heart.

At her memorial, tears sprinkle my cheeks as I read for eight minutes.