Sunday, July 23, 2017

A New Reality at 58 - Embracing My First Birthday Without Mom

This is what 58 looks like!

Last Friday I celebrated my first birthday without my mother. Since it was my 58th birthday  I realize that I’ve been far more blessed than many in that I had my mother for 57 1/2 years. In the early morning hours I lay awake recalling past birthdays with Mom & Dad calling and singing slightly off key, the beautifully thoughtful cards Mom made that incorporated photos or thoughts that resonated, the cake she make for my 10th birthday decorated with astronauts and the lunar module to commemorate the 1969 landing on the moon the night before, and the last birthday gift purchased in a boutique on the walking mall in Winchester, Virginia - a metal rendering of The Tree of Life created by a Haitian artist from an old oil drum.

Fathers Day 2017
Although I experienced a few moments of melancholy bittersweet memories where I fought back tears, I’ve reconciled with my new reality and made the decision to celebrate life, embrace my  good fortune and be kind to myself. 

Celebrating our 11th Wedding Anniversary in Charleston
Earlier in the week I’d attended a management training program outside of Philadelphia and had originally planned to spend Thursday night and drive home Friday morning. But instead I opted to drive home so I could wake up in my own bed with my husband by my side and then sip morning coffee on the deck enjoying the beauty of our back yard and the peace and serenity that fills me when I watch the humming birds at the feeder, the cats chase insects, the butterflies and bees pollinating, and listening to the song of the grasshopper, katydids and cicadas. 

While I’d originally planned to take the afternoon off work my plans were thwarted by the untimely death of my company laptop as it was necessary to ensure that the replacement, which had been inconveniently delayed by a suspiciously non-specific UPS “traffic incident”, had the requisite software and security authorizations before my next trip on Monday.

Loving the wind in my hair - still driving a convertible!
Fortunately, the technology angels were with me and ensured that my week long laptop frustrations had come to a favorable resolution at just the right time - 2:30pm - so that I could enjoy my birthday indulgences: a hot stone massage with lavender aromatherapy and a peppermint scalp massage followed by a pedicure. As the therapist massaged the knots of muscles from my neck, shoulders and upper back with the sounds of soft classical music in the background and the scents of lavender and peppermint in the air, the stresses of life oozed from my pores and I felt at peace with life and the world. 

I still enjoyed the delight of my dad calling and singing Happy Birthday from his new cell phone and listening to him tell me about his trip to the amateur circus in Peru, Indiana with a neighbor - the first time he’d been to the circus since we were kids. My heart smiles when I think how he continues to embrace all that life has to offer despite his losses. 

Civil War Era Machinists Hat by Dirty Billy!
To conclude my celebration of life and indulgence, my inimitable husband decanted an over-the-top bottle of wine from RdV, prepared the broiled-not-fried crab cakes that enticed me to marry him, presented me with cheesecake from Fresh Market, and watched a couple episodes of “The Fall” on Netflix. 

Throughout the day I knew that Mom would have been proud to know she had raised me to be resilient, to appreciate experiences and the people that share our lives instead of things, and to keep on living a joyful life. 

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Still Struggling to Locate My Lost Muse

It has been a little more than 6 months since Mom died and I’m still struggling to locate my literary muse who has taken an extended sabbatical. While I am endeavoring to focus on my blessings, the flexibility my job offers, my good fortune of sharing my life with my inimitably understanding spousal unit, and our focus on creating an Eden from the hardscrabble rocky terrain on our ridge at the edge of the Shenandoah Valley, my interest and ability to write has been impaired. It has been so much simpler to play Candy Crush, watch Jeopardy, drink an extra two glasses of wine, or sit on the deck staring up at the night sky with lightning bugs flashing through the trees than to try to recapture my voice.

But I feel compelled to try to recapture my ability to write my blog which has provided me with a creative outlet and an opportunity to share my thoughts and opinions whether anybody ever reads what I write or not. This type of writing I find therapeutic. But I’m still trying to adapt to my new reality and continue to experience writers’ block.

The writers’ block does not extend to my professional world. My job involves a great deal of technical or legal writing that must send clear messages to internal and external customers about contract analysis or evaluation of risk that an insurer must consider when determining how to value a tort claim. This type of written communication must be clear, concise, fact based, analytical, politically sensitive and an awareness that any note, letter, email, text or missive could be scrutinized by a judge sometime in the future. 

Alternatively, my blog posts are personal reflections / opinions of where I am in my personal life, what I am thinking at a particular moment in time, how I feel about various disparate issues, what shoes styles intrigue me, which flowers make me happy, how I am dealing with aging or grief or what is on sale or whether Civil War re-enactors make an effort at authenticity or whether I envision drones delivering my wine when I retire so I don’t have to engage with the general public at Walmart or how yoga benefits me physically, mentally and spiritually. 

Then again, perhaps my excitement over the impending 7/16 return of Game of Thrones is enough to bring me out of my self imposed hibernation, reinvigorate my psyche, and give me the impetus to get back to my blog.