Thursday, June 21, 2018
All of a sudden after a software update, either my MacBook Air decided to shun my printer, an Epson Workforce 545, or the printer went into permanent hibernation. I checked the Epson website for an updated driver. The site allegedly identified the OS operating system on my Mac. However, there was no radio button providing an option to update the driver. I was stymied. Not that the Workforce 545 had been working well recently anyway, but I attributed the problem to our remote location that required a Verizon wireless home cantina system for internet access.
After troubleshooting for several hours, I gave up. I had to return a pair of AGL flats to Nordstrom, which necessitated printing the return label and return form. Since the shoes that I wanted to return cost more than a replacement printer, the solution was a no-brainer.
It wasn't until i started researching the best option for a new printer that I learned just how far printer technology had evolved since I'd purchased the Epson All-In-One. Okay - I didn't realize that the printer was at least 5 years old - which is nearly neolithic in the tech environment. I began to understand the problem. The printer was ancient not even fit for Goodwill.
I went to the Best Buy website and found just the right thing - an HP Office Jet Pro 6790 that works with Apple Air and was on sale to boot - just a third the cost of the AGL sale shoes I needed to return! So, I ordered the printer, which was available for pick up at my local Best Buy within 12 hours.
When I set up the printer this evening I was astonished to discover this "smart printer" has the capability to automatically order ink when then levels get low...for the nominal price of $2.99 per month.
It is hard to believe that I grew up in a time when one basic black bakelite rotary dial telephone per home was the norm, that students embraced the high of sniffing mimeograph handouts, that most people were fortunate to have 8 television stations, that it was unusual for people to have central air-conditioning, and making copies required carbon paper. It seems like only yesterday! And now, my all-in-one printer/scanner/fax machine (really, who sends faxes anymore?) will automatically tell HP to send me ink when the machine gets low!
Monday, June 4, 2018
Over the past few years when I visit my dad in Indiana, I spend some time looking through the decades of photo albums that my mom organized and take photos of the photos with my iPhone to share with family members and friends. Fortunately, Mom was rather scrupulous about writing the names of those in the pictures and the dates taken. The pictures are collected in albums identified by the time periods in which the photographs were taken.
At first, I concentrated on copying all of the pictures of my mom when she was a little girl and then a young woman in an attempt to know that part of her that existed before she was a wife and mother. Then I found my Dad's baby book filled with pictures of him as a flaxen haired, chubby infant.
Looking through these albums brought me back to my childhood with my siblings, the neighbor kids, my grandparents, cousins, school mates, our beloved dog Jinxy, the changing furniture in the house as the years passed, events long forgotten. There had been a time when looking at these pictures horrified me. I wished they could be buried in a pile of rubble. How could I have looked that way! Why on earth did I wear that? What about that hairstyle!!!!!
Today I look at all of these pictures with gratitude that my parents documented our lives so well- even if many of the images are off center or missing feet or a bit out of focus. I can look at the people we were with loving affection, with nothing but fond memories bubbling to the surface, wishing that for just one moment I could reach back in time to whisper in the ears of the those who are no longer here to say, I love you, one more time; to tell my awkward, insecure, fearful, always dreaming younger self to embrace with positivity and gusto all that life has to offer, to take chances, practice self kindness, and to forgive myself for my humanity, that perfection is no attainable. But alas, there are no Three - Eyed Ravens in my family! So, I will cherish the feelings I associate with the memories.
Monday, May 7, 2018
Nothing registers the passage of time more than realizing everything one owns is not only no longer au current, but discontinued. This evening it occurred to me that I was drinking wine from a discontinued Royal Brierley York goblet, and eating dinner from a discontinued Spode Chinese Rose salad plate with a discontinued Wallace French Shell fork. I purchased the newest items, the York crystal and Spode, during a period of “spite shopping” in 1992 when my former spouse left me in Hong Kong for a period of time with no money in the bank. I used credit cards to take my friends from the American Womens Club out to lunch or dinner in exchange for cash. I also treated myself to some pretty dishes and crystal thanks to the “generosity” of Visa, MasterCard and American Express. Wow! 1992! Where did the years go?
I’ve been using the same Wallace French Shell stainless flatware daily since 1985. The pattern was classic at the time, more than $60 per place setting, and heavy weight Japanese quality. The French Shell has accompanied me on all of my moves from Indianapolis to Dallas to Taipei to Hong Kong to Lewes, Delaware to Frederick, Maryland and finally Winchester, Virginia. A few years ago I noticed that we were missing a couple of spoons, a dinner fork and a dinner knife. I found that Replacements, Ltd. carried some pieces of the pattern and ordered replacements for the missing items - only to discover upon delivery that this was a different, substandard, larger sized French Shell manufactured in China. The pieces didn’t remotely resemble my set. And the weight was feather weight. When I called I was told that it is impossible to find the Japanese made French Shell. I sent the items back and began to understand that everything I owned was pasts its prime~ not quite antique, but certainly discontinued.
Royal Brierley was established in 1776 during the reign of King George III. As an American, I was intrigued by an English company that was founded the year the American colonies declared Independence from England and started a revolution. Unlike many fine crystal patterns that appear solid and almost squared, Royal Brierley York was all delicate curves. I longed to sip champagne from the elegantly curved, cut glass flute.So, in my spiteful mood, I bought 6 champagne flutes. During visits to the Reject China Shop and the HArrod’s seconds in London, I managed to complete my crystal wardrobe. I still caress the flute when I sip sparkling wine today. While Royal Brierley is still a brand in 2018, the company was absorbed by Darlington. York was long ago discontinued. But occasionally I can find a treasure on eBay from somebody who has no idea. Just today I nabbed 2 champagne flutes for $15.49!
The history of the Spode Chinese Rose dinnerware pattern intrigued me. My Chinese Rose is a reproduction of an 1816 Copeland-Spode pattern. My family named is Copeland. My father’s ancestors arrived from England in 1635. The historical family connection called to me. It is with some regularity that I turn over a piece, looked at the Copeland-Spode 1816 stamp, and feel part of the history. I’ve been fortunate to find pieces on eBay from England, Australia and the USA to replace serving pieces or bits that I’ve broken. But I use it everyday and have done so for at least 20 years. I don’t “save” things I love for special occasions. Life is short and every minute is a special occasion.
Ultimately, I feel a sense of satisfaction that I’ve been able to enjoy, everyday, these things that bring me joy. Why shouldn’t I feel delight eating my morning cereal from a beautiful bowl?
Thursday, April 26, 2018
|Tieks Electric Snake|
This topic resonates with me because yesterday I returned a pair of shoes that I’d ordered online from Nordstrom and stumbled across a sale that called to me. I returned I pair and returned home with three.
My shoes have gotten steadily more expensive over the years: primarily because I have worked hard for 35 years and realized that it is better to purchase a selection of shoes that I love and will wear until they disintegrate rather than multiples of fashionable less expensive shoes that hurt my feet and fall apart after one season. And heels of any height beyond the currently fashionable kitten heel have started to hurt. Not only that, I’m more likely to be distracted and step off of a curb in a clunky way risking life and limb wearing heels. I must admit it vexes me to admit it. This from a woman who used to run through airports in stilettos of 4 1/2 inches or more. Now I can barely totter from one room to the other on such stilts.
From a shoe addict of a certain age (as the French would say) I’ve discovered these brands work for me:
|Marc Joseph Cypress Hill|
Ballet flats: Tieks
Only available at www.tieks.com
There are Facebook groups devoted to love, lust and appreciation of these shoes. Ties are foldable ballet flats with no elastic. They do not rub or cause blisters and mold to your feet. After purchasing my first pair about 4 years ago, I’ve never been able to wear another ballet flat. As I type this I’m wearing my Poppy Tieks, a color I love so much I accidentally bought them twice.
|Lewit Cara Mule|
Driving Mocs: Marc Joseph New York Cypress Hill.
There are a few boutiques in Florida. Purchase online: www.marcjosephnewyork.com
|Paul Green Julia|
The designs are fabulous, fit true to size, and are comfortable right out of the box.
Last fall I was in LA for a mediation and became disenchanted with the shoes I’d packed. Nordstrom in Santa Monica beckoned to me and I followed the call. I found a divine pair of Paul Green blush patent kitten heel pumps on sale and have been sold on Paul Green ever since. I must confess however, that I cannot bring myself to pay full price. If you can find Paul Green on sale, take the plunge. High quality. Maximum comfort.
Kitten Heel Pumps: Amalfi, Stuart Weitzman, & Donald Pliner;
I’ve found these pumps on Amazon, various department stores, Zappos.com and 6pm.com
Eileen Fisher footwear is consistently good quality & provides comfort - although some styles are bit stodgy. There are enough cut shoes to keep me looking!
Dressy Flat Mules: AGL and the Lewit Cara Mule (Nordstrom)
This is where I ran amok yesterday. Sigh!
Thursday, April 12, 2018
A wise man makes his own decisions, an ignorant man follows public opinion.” Chinese Proverb
One of the greatest accomplishments a modern woman can hope to achieve is the ability to stay true to herself. There are constant onslaughts by the media, employers, family members, spouses, fashion gurus, counsellors, psychologists, teachers, politicians, universities, social media, clergy, friends, coworkers, and the little voices in one’s head that begin talking at 2:00am that try to tell us how to think, how to act, what to say, what not to say, how to be, what to believe….that is can be a monumental challenge to celebrate who we are individually and to stay true to ourselves.
That is not to say that we should ignore common sense. I have been working on enhancing my soft skills and my inner Eliza Doolittle for many years. I come by it naturally. My inner Madame de Stael or Mary Wollstonecraft has been difficult to quash. But I understand, in certain circumstances, that my natural self can be a hindrance and should be tamed. No doubt in the 18th or early 19th Century I would have been labeled and denigrated as a bluestocking if I’d been fortunate enough to be part of a salon.
Despite the difficulties it is important to maintain the substance of who I am, who you are, who we are and refuse to compromise to please others. There is so much pressure from public opinion to think a certain way, vote for a particular candidate, react predictably, embrace truths that others believe one should embrace, or agree with a certain ideology. But I will not compromise my inner soul or being because others disagree with me, think I am somewhat strident or opinionated or goofy or brash or cerebral or Libertarian. And it is okay.
Like Popeye said: I yam what I yam.
Wednesday, April 11, 2018
I suppose the concept of Wabi-sabi resonated with me because I've always been attracted to objects with flaws. When I lived in Asia I would seek out objects in the local markets that spoke to me. I was always attracted to and collected works of art that had cracks, chips, fissures, irregular paint or carving, some facet that rendered it imperfect. To me the imperfection made the object special, unique, unlike any other. Not to mention the imperfect objects were also available for a discount!
The discussion this evening explained that Wabi-sabi is rooted in Zen Buddhism and originally associated with the Japanese tea ceremony in which the handmade vessels of irregular shape were considered beautiful in the imperfection. I feel gratitude that I can appreciate the beauty of imperfection and embrace it. Perhaps my 5 years in the east altered my concept of what is of value and what constitutes beauty in conjunction with my love of the Romantic poet Keats and his Ode to a Grecian Urn: 'beauty is truth, truth beauty,' – that is all / Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know".
To often I see that those of us in the west crave perfection instead of finding beauty and truth in what actually is. I've belonged to some groups on social media where people obsess about a 1/16 inch perceived difference in the stitching on a pair of handcrafted shoes, take photos and ask compadres for insight as to whether they can see the flaws! They can't see the beauty in the handcrafted shoes because they expect perfection for the price they paid. But handcrafted items should be expected to be imperfect. People are not perfect. I do not aspire to the unattainable perfection!
Wabi-sabi is authentic. It is a crack in an antique yellow ware bowl. It is the off-kilter gait of our two 3-legged cats. It is the gap in Lauren Hutton's front teeth. It is the beauty and charm of a worn Persian carpet. It is the comfort of a well loved book that has dog-eared pages. It is the beauty of an ugly shaped but tasty heirloom tomato. It is the appreciation an ancient, dilapidated building or collapsing barn that still radiates beauty. It's my appreciation of the landscape filled with uneven terrain, patches of ground covered with rock that will not support growth, wild berry briars that cannot be tamed, a ski slope driveway that needs resurfacing, our unfinished screened in porch, and the little dents in the sports car. I can celebrate and appreciate the imperfect and the authentic.
I am filled with gratitude that Paulette caused me to consider Wabi-sabi this evening, which reminded me of my love, contentment and appreciation for the imperfect people and things in my life. For how can an imperfect person really expect to be surrounded by perfection?
As I've learned in Al-Anon - progress, not perfection - leads to peace and serenity.
Saturday, February 17, 2018
When I began reading Robicheaux this morning, James Lee Burke’s 21st novel involving his iconic alcoholic lawman with demons, nightmares from Vietnam and growing up poor in the bayou of southern Louisiana with his commitment to justice for the downtrodden, I felt as if I’d reconnected with an old friend. I first met Robicheaux in 1993’s In The Electric Mist With The Confederate Dead and have indulged in reverie with Dave and his best friend Cletus Purcell for the past 25 years. David Lee Burke’s writing is lyrical, poetic and mesmerizing with the feel of Spanish moss dripping from live oaks, the sounds and smells of the bayou, and the mystical visions of the long dead, as if they still walk among us. Unlike many authors who have written series, Mr.Burke remains at the top of his game at 81.
In the first chapter of Robicheaux, Dave reflects, “ Like many my age, I believe people in groups are to be feared and that arguing with others is folly and the knowledge of one generation cannot be passed down to the next.” In the current political climate this truly resonated with me.
Be it mental health issues, gun control, defense of the 2nd Amendment, conservative, liberal, progressive, libertarian, immigration reform, cats vs. dogs, parenting, historical context, personal responsibility vs. the nanny state, or any other topic upon which people vehemently disagree, I’ve come to appreciate that no matter how salient the points, well documented the facts, or persuasive the rhetoric, my arguments will not convince those who disagree with my beliefs to change their minds. Conversely, those who take a position opposite of my beliefs will not succeed in altering my views. The 24 hour news cycles and social media have given anybody with an opinion a platform from which to preach, which has polarized the nation.
Nor can we truly share the knowledge of life’s experiences with a younger generation because the knowledge gained through experience cannot be taught. It is impossible to impart to a young person what it means to go to sleep at age 25 and all of a sudden awaken at 45, wondering how the years passed by so quickly, barely remembering some experiences that were life altering at the time. One cannot explain how life throws us curve balls, knocking us off one path into the weeds and that it is sometimes necessary to trudge a few miles or years in the weeds before we find another path, how strongly held beliefs gradually change through the years depending upon experiences.
Anger is too much with us in the 21st Century. Argument or debate can be a healthy way to exchange ideas or at least help others to understand another’s beliefs, position or understanding. However, the anger that appears to fill people today seems all consuming, perpetual, blind, closed minded, strident, divisive, and unproductive. Perhaps it is folly that I have enjoyed being a bit of a protagonist; however, I am well aware that I’m unlikely to change anybody’s mind. Perhaps this is a reason that my old friend Dave Robicheaux’s wisdom affected me.
Saturday, February 3, 2018
I tend to experience seasonal affective disorder when the time changes and dark falls upon us in late afternoon. As a person born in the midst of summer I crave the sun. Sunlight infuses my being with joy, positivity, energy, optimism, and general well-being. The time between Thanksgiving and Groundhog Day is dark, cold, depressing, and causes me to hibernate, to avoid socializing, to stay home, and withdraw. Perhaps the reason is associated with the weather or challenges that I've experienced during this period.
This year was particularly challenging. Mom passed away at the end of 2016. This was my family's first holiday season without her delightful home made funny Christmas cards, a house decorated with multiple Christmas trees and 15 nativity scenes, her smell, the sound of her voice, the warmth and humor that I've relied upon. I was worried about how my dad would deal with this first holiday season. Although he had his moments of sadness, he has exhibited a resilience that amazes me, an attitude of gratitude for the decades he was able to share with my mom, and a realization that his role now is to celebrate every moment of life to the fullest with friends and family. I admire his ability to embrace life more than I can articulate. And I treasure the time that we've been able to spend together in a new way.
We've also lost two of our favorite feline companions. Sweet Nicholas, the elder statesman who appeared miraculously on our porch last Christmas, the day I learned that Mom was failing, spent just a bit more than a year providing us with love, comfort, and joy as he deteriorated from squamous cell carcinoma that eroded an ear and his nose. The vet opined he was in his 15th year when he came to us, asking for nothing but love, food and a place to feel safe. Within a week of his passing across the Rainbow Bridge we lost another sweet cat that was young with no discernible health problems. We don't know the cause. We know only that we felt sadness at another loss.
My wonderful father-in-law was also hospitalized in Michigan with pulmonary problems, MRSA, and bronchial problems. As a stoic midwesterner he resisted seeking medical treatment, fully expecting he would recover on his own. But I feel grateful that my mother-in-law was able to convince him to go to the hospital. He lost weight, lost energy, and worried us terribly. But he is recovering slowly and will hopefully be able to get back to the golf course in the spring.
Fortunately, I've learned that it is necessary to move forward, keep a focus on today, and accept what is. We celebrated a lovely Christmas with my dad and then drove him back to Indiana to see his newly painted bedroom and cozy enclosed back porch. When we lost our beloved pet, I researched breeders and plan to welcome a beautiful ragdoll kitten into our home in the next few weeks. She already has a name - Mindy!
There have been changes at work; I will now be working for a woman that I love as a friend and a colleague and feel blessed for the opportunity. I've also come to realize that I do not want to walk into the jungle with a target on my chest and my back in my professional life. At this juncture I want a work - life balance.
And I continue to try new things. This morning I had my first Pilates reformer training session and I loved it! Wow! Still learning new things and embracing opportunities to focus on wellness. I do hope to integrate this new core strengthening workout into my repertoire!
Apparently I am still my father's daughter - embracing change with resiliency, optimism and joy.
Thank you, Dad!
Friday, December 15, 2017
Resiliency is a key theme in my recent meditations on life. Just short of a year ago the world as I knew it came crashing down when my mother’s health started to rapidly deteriorate. I didn’t expect it. Although she has suffered a fractured pelvis and recurrence of breast cancer in 2016, I believed, as did the rest of her family and friends, that she was invincible, forever resilient, and immune to death. Most of us thought she would live to at least 100. When she was admitted to Indiana University Medical Center the week before Christmas and the nursing staff referred to her as a geriatric patient, we were mystified. It never occurred to us that Mom was geriatric, much less mortal.
Dad called me Christmas evening, said he needed me, and asked me to come to Indiana immediately. I was numb, in denial, and fractured. I was also worried about Dad. My parents has been together, inseparable for 62 years. I feared, as did my brother, that Dad would crumble. He did, temporarily. But as my Aunt Virginia kept repeating to me: “your father is strong”. At the time I had doubts; I had doubts about my father’s ability to cope without my mother. I had doubts about my ability to weather the loss; however, Daddy has shown amazing resilience as have I. We’ve both emerged through the fog of pain and loss stronger and more resilient than I could have ever imagined.
I’ve realized that both of my parents raised me with the tools and ability to survive and overcome loss, sorrow, fear, unexpected change, disappointment, career challenges, the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, depression, trials and tribulations, tumbles into an abyss of despair and death of those most precious.
I feel gratitude for my ability to rise from the ashes like the Phoenix of mythology. If I were ever to get a tattoo, it would be of the Phoenix, representing my resiliency. I know I am a survivor. As I learned during my years in Al Anon recovering from the insanity of living with an alcoholic spouse, I have no control over other people, places and things - only my reaction or attitude. And I choose resiliency.
My father is coming to spend Christmas with us in Virginia this year and I know that we will celebrate our memories of the past and our determination to embrace the present and our time together with joy and gratitude.
Sunday, November 26, 2017
The Chalk Man pulled me into the story from the Prologue on Page 1 which begins "The girl's head rested on a small pile of orange -and-brown leaves." The narrative then shifts immediately from 1986 to 2016 when the narrator, Eddie "Munster", reflects on the series of horrific events in the small English village that would haunt him and his childhood friends [Hoppo, Metal Mickey, Fat Gav & Nicky] for the next 20 years.
I found the story creative with the characters at 12 years age using bits of colored chalk to send one another messages in code. Each member of the gang used a different color to identify who had written the code. Of course, someone discovered the code and began to create mayhem.
There were a couple of Twin Peaks moments that didn't quite ring true for me; and I did not find Eddie to be a sympathetic narrator. Instead he seems a bit of a creepy, dysfunctional alcoholic.
I also found the repeated reference of a Waltzer confusing since I was unfamiliar with the term. I figured out that is must be a carnival ride. But I had to Google the term for confirm that.
C.J.Tudor is an engaging writer. I found it hard to put down for the first 3/4 of the book. Towards the end, however, the story seemed to lose a bit of steam. Ultimately, the ending for me was a bit contrived and unconvincing.
The Chalk Man is one of the better mystery/thrillers that I have read in quite some time. Despite its flaws, the book is a solid read in the genre and I will happily look forward to reading the next book by Ms. Tudor.
This book will be published in January 2018. I was provided with a courtesy galley of the book through BookBrowse.com in exchange for an honest review. ****
Sunday, November 19, 2017
It has been on my mind for some time .Thanksgiving 2016 was the last time I saw my mom when she was purportedly healthy. Of course, none of us knew she was hiding knowledge of her true condition, that her cancer had resurfaced. But I didn’t suspect. Should I have had an inkling? Perhaps I should have noticed she didn’t have the same levity, spring in her step, fortitude, go with the flow type of attitude. She ambulated fine for someone who’d had some numbness in a foot and leg. Todd & I both commented on how well she appeared. But she seemed a bit off when the group of us went to Monk’s BBQ for lunch, followed by tastings at two wineries the day after Thanksgiving. She’d always loved our wine tasting expeditions. She seemed a bit tired, but I attributed that to the rounds of radiation she’d recently completed. She told all of us she was cured.
It was odd that she declined to buy a top she really liked at Talbots when we went shopping with my mother-in-law on Black Friday. She complimented me on my hair, encouraged me to buy a navy pin dot pantsuit and dissuaded me from a pair of houndstooth trousers. She tried on nothing.But it didn’t send a signal to my brain. It never occurred to me that within 5 weeks she would be gone.
I wish I’d taken more photographs. I wish I’d hugged her more and harder. I wish I had known this would be the last time we would celebrate a holiday together. Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday because of the focus on family and gratitude. The tears still spill from my eyes at odd moments. I grasp onto the belief that whenever I find a shiny penny in an odd place that it is a message from Mom, telling me she is with me in spirit as an angel looking over me. I wasn’t ready to lose her. I thought she would live to 100, like Todd’s grandmother, a stoic, midwestern women who could not be defeated by mere health issues. She never considered herself old. Neither did we.
The milestones throughout the year have passed with some sadness; but this holiday is the one that Todd and I always hosted for our extended families. We celebrated the opportunity to have our loved ones travel to Virginia and allow us to cook for them, coddle them, treat them, and thank them for all they have done for us. They raised us to be good people and we celebrate them for that.
This year it will be different. There will be a hole in our hearts. But my father, brother, father in law and mother in law will join us and we will celebrate that we still have one another. We have some other Indiana refugees that will join us to give thanks for our blessings. I am filled with gratitude for my incomparable husband, my ever thriving dad, my resilient brother, and my wonderfully loving in-laws. I know that with our friend and family joining us we will weather the storm.
Saturday, November 18, 2017
Oprah recently released her list of 102 favorite things for gift giving in 2017, a list eagerly awaited by her millions of fans who would otherwise have no idea what to buy or where to buy it. Just as zillions of people would have no clue what to read without Oprah’s recommendations. Just by advocating reading, Oprah has done humankind a great service.
But what of those curious people out there who stumble upon my blog and wonder what appeals to a literate, red wine loving, 58 year old blissfully married woman employed as an AVP in insurance claims with a mortgage, car payment, a passion for plants and a posse of outdoor cats that keep the rodent population at bay on three rocky acres in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia?
Cable Crew Neck Cashmere sweaters from Talbots
Garnet Hill Cashmere Shawl
Fry Jordan Strappy Tall Boots
Marc Joseph Mocs
Thursday, November 16, 2017
As I’ve gained wisdom through the years through life’s experiences I’ve found the first lines of this soliloquy by William Shakespeare in As You Like It truly resonates with me.
All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts,
This quote seems as insightful today, perhaps even more so, than it was during the late 16th Century when the play was first performed. We have such a greater knowledge of the world stage and our morphing roles within in it. We are all actors within our family dramas, local communities, work environments, states, countries, continents and members of the human race. The passage of time makes the different roles seem as we have lived multiple lives - at least that is my perspective. Sometimes it hardly seems possible that I’ve played some of the roles in my past.
One of my first memories is from the age of 4. I recall being a happy child looking out the window of my brother’s bedroom, seeing a school bus at St. Bridget elementary, and looking with excitement to the time that I could join those grown up kids at school.
The next stage I recall my student days feeling awkward, aspiring to a perfection that could not be achieved, worried that I would never measure up and would disappoint myself and my parents. In high school I developed anorexia and tried to starve myself. Thinness meant beauty, fitting in, an indicator of future success. But all I achieved was additional insecurity.
My university years passed by in a blur. I had the good fortune to spend a year in England; to travel through Europe with a backpack while staying at bed & breakfasts, exploring places that I’d dreamed of seeing during my childhood, meeting fascinating people, and exulting in independence. I also became involved in my first dysfunctional relationship with a college professor. Fortunately, he dumped me long distance.
I then stumbled into the insurance industry. French majors had few potential employers calling. In the days before cell phones, computers, the internet, etc. we relied on college recruiters, paper resumes, and the newspaper want ads. I accepted a job as a trainee claims adjuster with the now defunct Commercial Union Assurance Company in Indianapolis. I had no idea what a claims adjuster actually did. But… I took the job anyway, learned the business, and ultimately cultivated a rewarding career out of the accidental job. I’ve yet to meet anybody that dreamed of working in insurance claims.
Quite by accident I met for first husband. I was visiting my aunt and uncle in Dallas. My Uncle Clyde introduced me to a family friend hoping we would hit if off. We didn’t. But he suggested I call his best friend who as just moved to Indianapolis. I called. We had one date. He had nowhere to go for Thanksgiving so out of pity I invited him to my parents’ for the holiday. Four years later my mother commented that it was his 5th Thanksgiving. My parents loved him. I liked him and thought marriage to this individual would make sense. There was no passion. No great love. Just easy companionship. It was a mistake. I tried to change him. After some years I succeeded to some extent, but I truly disliked my creation. The most wonderful result of our marriage, however, was the role I was next able to play - that of an American expatriate in Asia for five years. I’ll save that role for the next post.
But I’ve come to believe that by the time I was 28 I had already acted in 5 separate and distinct plays portraying different roles during each phase.
Wednesday, November 15, 2017
Over the years I’ve shared that I learned valuable lessons regarding reinvention and self-healing in Al-Anon. While I’ve shared my story with various Al-Anon family groups I hesitated to tell part of the tale publicly because of how it would affect others - particularly my mother who was an adult child & niece of alcoholics.
Most of us learn coping mechanisms in childhood that we don’t associate with anything in particular. We accept our loved ones for who they are - even when they cause us pain. I had often wondered why my siblings and I had initially chosen damaged partners. My first husband was an alcoholic. My interim relationship was with an alcoholic that I thought I could change. Fortunately, through recovery programs, some therapy, and personal spiritual development I was able to break the bonds of insanity and embrace a healthy life and marriage based upon mutual respect, love and humor. It was in Al Anon that I realized some of my behaviors were inherited.
It took some years before I completely understood that I had married an addict and was spiraling into total dysfunction, despair, and the inability to trust my own judgment. Addicts are adept at disguising, lying, misrepresentation, and manipulation. At the time I discovered the extent of the deception I was living in a foreign country, had no access to my passport or money, had not been employed for five years, and was completely dependent on my alcoholic spouse. This was not the life I would have chosen for myself. However, I was seduced by the opportunity to experience life in Asia as an American expatriate subsidized by a corporation seeking to expand in a vibrant world market.
The house of cards came crashing down like an avalanche. My then husband, a former international salesman of the year for a multinational company, was terminated. He didn’t tell me he was no longer employed; however, I knew something was wrong. I felt adrift. He pretended to continue to go to the office in Hong Kong. It was only by happenstance that I discovered, through the intelligence gathering of a Canadian friend, what had happened.
My then husband continued to lie to me. I became so enraged that I frightened myself. All of a sudden I knew that I had the potential for violence within me. I sought help. I found an Al Anon meeting at a church on the island. When I was asked what brought me to Al Anon, I confessed that I was afraid I could have strangled my spouse. The only thing preventing me was fear of incarceration in a foreign prison. They others laughed and said that was normal. I was in the right place. I would find help, healing, peace and serenity. It was a long and winding road that took years; but eventually I found recovery.
When I finally started to emerged from my cocoon, I found myself transformed, completely changed. My very being transitioned from negative to positive, from fear to fearless, from dependence to independence, from false bravado to self confidence, from neediness to contentment, from insecurity to empowerment, from judgment to acceptance, and from denial to reality.
The journey has been a rollercoaster. But I am filled with gratitude for every experience that taught me the lessons that have brought me to where I am today. Were it not for the extreme challenges that cause pain, heartache, and discontent, I would not be able to fully appreciate how far I’ve come and how blessed I am today with a wonderful eccentric husband, I job that gives me fulfillment and flexibility, a home with acreage and peacefulness, some true blue supportive and loving friends, and our posse of abandoned cats. Oh, and really tasty red wine. Wine, cheese, olives, garlic…….