Sunday, May 12, 2019

A Bittersweet Mother's Day 2019

On this rainy Mother's Day, so many thoughts are ruminating in my brain. Mother's Day has morphed into another obligatory commercial holiday has that lost its original meaning. Even the founder of Mother's Day, Anna Jarvis, hated what her creation had become, a $5.2 Billion industry. 

Two years ago on Mother's Day we buried my mother's ashes. For those of us who have lost our mothers, the constant barrage of advertisements, emails, news articles, tweets, or reminders to buy gifts or send flowers or celebrate Mother's Day brings beautiful memories, but also heartache, melancholy, regret, tears and wishes that we could just have one more day, hour or minute with our moms.  This Mother's Day I'm thinking of all of my friends, coworkers & acquaintances who are mourning the loss of their mothers & sending positive energy and hugs into the Universe.

 I'm also thinking of a dear friend who is spending her first mother's day without one of her beloved sons, who was murdered two weeks ago today. Her Mother's Days will never be the same. None of her days will ever be the same. There will always be a hole in her heart as big as the Grand Canyon. This Mother's Day I am sending prayers to all of the mothers that have lost a child to violence, illness, accident or suicide. 

On this Mother's Day I am grateful to my mother-in-law, who raised her son to be a kind, considerate, empathetic, loving man.  She has welcomed me as a daughter and ensured that I feel truly part of the family.  Her support has helped me begin to heal from the loss of my own mother while I've helped her deal with the loss of her own mother. 

I am also filled with gratitude to my husband's biological mother, who made the decision to give him up for adoption, which gave him opportunity to live the life of Leave It To Beaver that he enjoyed growing up with my in-laws. 

So, I'm asking the Angels and the Universe to send comfort to all who have bittersweet memories on this Mother's Day.  

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Taking & Enjoying Vacation Days - The Importance of Work /Life Balance

While I've advocated the necessity of work/life balance for many years,  I haven't always taken my own advice. Deep within my psyche I continued to believe erroneously that if I worked the extra hours, checked my emails and voicemails while on vacation or PTO, tried to prevent adverse developments and went the extra mile that the rewards would outweigh the drawbacks. In a corporate environment that raises the bar each year, expects employees to go above and beyond even to meet expectations, has little toleration for the human fallibility and focuses on "areas of opportunity" for development rather than what one does well, it becomes easier to embrace the benefits of downtime, weekends, vacations, and celebrations of everyday life.
My husband and I celebrated our 13th wedding anniversary last weekend with a glorious stay at the Marriott Desert Ridge Resort in Phoenix, Arizona followed by a peaceful drive to Las Vegas by way of a stop over in Jerome, Arizona to check out the Caduceus Winery owned by Grammy winning Maynard James Keenan, who is also the winemaker. I made the conscious decision to enjoy my time away from the office, let go of the fear that something would blow-up, and anticipate that if it did, somebody else would handle it. I locked my work phone in the hotel safe. Out of sight; out of mind. I felt liberated.

During our stay at the resort we both let go of work, indulged in spa treatments, enjoyed drinks by the spa pool, sipped some fabulous wines and dined at delightful local restaurants. Although Todd was attending a trade show in Las Vegas, I continued my journey of self-kindness by seeking out those rare, hidden places of quiet away from the casinos, noisy arcades, and masses of humanity strolling up and down The Strip where I could sit in the sun and read my book to the sounds of a waterfall. 

Since I'm not much of a gambler, dislike crowds and smokey rooms, had no interest in any of the shows and saw no reason to shop in the same stores found in malls throughout the rest of the USA,  I had a manicure, tried a HydraFacial treatment (which was awesome), rode the New York New York rollercoaster, and explored the Shops at the Forum at Caesar's Palace, where I did manage to find an adorable pair of L.K.Bennett shoes for a song.

Although this interlude away from work ends tomorrow morning, I will continue to focus on the necessity of work/life balance, log off my laptop at 5:00pm whenever possible, and practice the self-care of yoga and Pilates regularly. 


Monday, March 18, 2019

Celebrating My Dad’s 87th Birthday

Although today is his actual birthday, my incomparable dad, Richard Copeland,  threw himself a 87th birthday party yesterday in celebration of life. He hosted a gathering of friends and family at The People’s Winery in his beloved city of Logansport, Indiana- the place he’s called home since 1954- in part because he can still pronounce the word ‘octogenarian’ and in part to mark the milestone of living a long and joy filled life.  

My brother, my husband and I were thrilled to experience the outpouring of love and affection that his friends, neighbors and community shared with him, a child of the Depression who married the love of his life, taught young children how to read, embraced his adopted town, devoted many years to serving Cass County, raised his children to be good citizens, traveled the world, and shared his plants, knowledge and love of the community with everybody he met. We saw what so many of us in the 21st Century miss- a sense of belonging to a seeming Norman Rockwell view of America. It is an America we want to believe in. My dad has friends who care about him. That is golden.

I feel so fortunate to still have this wonderfully kind, spirited, loving, exuberant, creative father who keeps on going like the Energizer bunny still healthy, agile, sharp minded, and looking forward to his next project.....this spring a new patio and deck to enjoy the song of Miss Wren, the beauty of his flowers, and a comfortable place to enjoy a whiskey and a cigar with friends who stop by.

Happy Birthday, Daddy! ๐Ÿ˜ 

Saturday, February 9, 2019

The Effects of Enhanced Political Correctness & the Chaos in Virginia Politics ~2019

It is difficult to avoid feeling just a tiny bit of schadenfreude over the implosion of the Democratic leadership in Richmond, Virginia. The liberal politicians, television and radio personalities and news pundits that have advocated trial by mob, conviction by social media, judgment based upon innuendo or opinion, and vilification based upon hearsay when allegations of political incorrectness, sexual misconducted or racial insensitivity are levied against conservative or Libertarian leaning individuals are finding themselves in the uncomfortable position of having to create eristic arguments to ignore the scandals or feed their own to the sharks as collateral damage in the political Hunger Games. 

Racism is wrong. Discrimination based upon sex, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, disability,  color,  or preference for cats or dogs is wrong. Sexual assault is inexcusable. However, we have to look to our collective history and accept that change moves at a different pace depending upon culture, location, environment, the influence of parents or classmates or friends or the political climate. 

In an ideal world one could flip a switch and change discriminatory attitudes. But change takes time. People who have found recovery in 12 Step Programs learn that it takes just as long or longer to recover from stinking thinking as it does to sink into the abyss of addiction. At the time of the Civil War, there had been the enslavement of Africans for 250 years. It took another 100 years after  the Civil War to pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Considering how long the disgraceful practice of systemic discrimination against people of color existed in this country, we've come a long way in the last 55 years. We still have a long road ahead of us, but instead of vilifying everybody who acted with insensitivity in his or her past, why can't we celebrate how they have changed attitudes, converted prejudice into activism or youthful idiocy into compassion.  

I make no excuses for Governor Northram or Attorney General Herring. I did not vote for either, dislike their political agenda, and would love to see them both resign. But, I refuse to judge the suitability for political office in 2019 by the actions of these individuals 35 years ago. Who among us is free from youthful insensitivity? Who at the age of  15, 17, 20, 22 or 24 really thinks that he or she will one day run for public office? Should one's life be destroyed because of youthful indiscretion?

With regard to Justin Fairfax and the allegations of sexual assault, I will reserve judgment. It is critical for the Commonwealth of Virginia and its citizens to take the allegations seriously. But I believe in fairness, the rule of law, the right to a presumption of innocence and refuse a rush to judgment of Mr. Fairfax just as I refused to judge Justice Kavanaugh without corroborating evidence. Besides, the allegations against both were arguably paltry compared to the sexual improprieties of former President Clinton. 

Perhaps now that the character assassinations and muckraking tactics utilized by the political left has caused the probable downfall of the democratic leaders in Virginia, a state of significant political strategic importance, the architects of this type of political gamesmanship such as Dianne Feinstein,  "Spartacus" Booker,  and Mazie Hirano will think before flinging mud. 

I know....not a chance!

Monday, January 14, 2019

Dreaming of Spring While Perusing Plant & Seed Catalogs

After spending this  past weekend snowbound, enjoying the beauty of the winter wonderland while resisting the need to clear the walkway, vehicles, driveway and deck, I was thrilled to receive my first plant catalog of 2019 in today's mail from Brent & Becky's Bulbs. I tolerate winter and inclement weather. Because of my geographic location in Northwestern Virginia, it is impossible to escape despite being "technically" in the "south".  To survive the months where my feet stay numb from the cold, I dream of the approaching spring and start to think about planting flowers, shrubs, fruits, vegetables and herbs. And, my Dad shared photographs of his pussy willow starts that he cultivated from cuttings, which really started my mind churning. 

While we have endeavored with mixed success to carve a bit of Eden from the hardscrabble landscape on our windy, rocky ridge for the last thirteen years using a pick, Cub Cadet and 24 inch auger,  we haven't lost our optimism and have started to see that sometime in our lifetimes there may be an area of lushness at least around the backyard deck. Trees are beginning to mature. We've discovered shrubs that will tolerate the harsh conditions. And we've learned to use vines and planters to bring color to the deck. 

Last year was the first time we tried raised garden beds with Mel's Mix using the square foot gardening method.  I tried starting some plants from seeds indoors. There was a lot of trial, error and lessons learned. I discovered peat pots dry out quickly. Miss just a few days of watering and everything wilts. None of the peppers survived. The tomato plants thrived until the continued torrential rains with nominal sunlight throughout summer stunted the production of actual fruit. The melons did well until the raccoons pilfered them. The African marigolds were beautiful. I planted those in the raised beds to deter pests; however, this type of  marigold grew so huge that the flowers blocked the minimal sunlight we had from the seedlings. I misjudged some companion planting, underplanted beans, and waited too late to plant lettuce, spinach, peas and other cooler season vegetables. The first planting of potato did well. The deer ate the fall crop. Note to self: build the fence!!!

I also discovered that it doesn't make sense to plant tulips on our property. I love the vast variety of colors and shapes of tulips available. Deer eat tulips. Deer eat tulip bulbs. So, I will plant no more tulips. Deer tend avoid daffodils. So, I've learned to appreciate daffodils. Squirrels like daffodils; but our roving attack cats have protected the property from thieving squirrels. Regretfully, they've made friends with the raccoons and the deer are fearless. 

So, back to dreaming of springtime and planning the garden. Before long the crocus will bloom, my feet will warm and the cycle of life continues. 

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Happy New Year 2019

Happy New Year! It is the dawn of 2019, which seems inconceivable to me, a child of the 60s, teen of the 70’s and young adult of the 80s. When I started my career in insurance claims in 1980, I could not fathom that I had an anticipated work life of 45 years. With a lifetime ahead of me, as a 20 year old college graduate, I imagined career success, a fairytale marriage with a stately Georgian house in the right community, two girls with perfect complexions that would arrive after my 30th birthday, a fashionable wardrobe curated from Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus, Talbots and cute boutiques, and vacations to world class beaches or exotic locales. In my imagination, my life was planned to perfection. I was a modern woman and ready to roar, break the glass ceiling, have ‘it all’.

The Universe had other ideas. While my life has, to a great extent, been one I could not have imagined, Fate knocked me off my chosen path and left me at times wandering aimlessly through a morass of pain and confusion, complicated by my inclination to try to force solutions or outcomes which nearly always backfired. While I enjoyed early professional success, I made the critical decision to give it up to follow my then husband to Asia. For that I have no regrets. That decision afforded me the opportunity to live in Taiwan and Hong Kong and travel the world in comfort for more than five years. However, there was a price to be paid: a controlling, alcoholic spouse who  I allowed to subjugate me, emotional trauma, financial collapse, and the loss of unrealized dreams.

For a long time I was poisoned by resentment. But I found healing in Al Anon groups in Hong Kong, Frederick, Maryland and Winchester, Virginia; gardening; yoga; meditation; and a newly discovered spirituality unaffilated with organized religion. My choices did not always resonate with my family; but I found my revised path. 

I’ve found peace, serenity and gratitude with my second husband, a Renaissance man of sorts who constantly challenges me and encourages me to try new things. Instead of kids, I have two stepdaughters, five grandchildren and a sanctuary for abandoned  felines. My career trajectory has stalled; but I’ve finally made peace with that. I wouldn’t trade the adventures that I’ve experienced, the highs and lows, the spiritual journey, my domestic tranquility or peace of mind for more responsibility that would interfere with my enjoyment of life.

I am on the cusp of 60. Born in the Chinese Year of the Earth Pig, I’ve come through the cycle. 2019 ushers in with the Year of the Earth Pig once again. 

2019. I feel optimistic. I feel grateful for my blessings, my family, my health, and the opportunities that are ahead. Welcome New Year๐ŸŽŠ