Wednesday, February 24, 2010

It's Time

I began this blog nearly a year ago at the urging of a friend, a fellow writer who believes I have a story to tell. Interspersed with amusing anecdotes of everyday living, I have shared some of the sad events that have shaped my life. Those are the posts that have inspired me the most and have generated the most heartfelt responses from those that follow my blog or happen to run across it.

Certain events have occurred over the past year or so that have tried my very sanity. While I am trying to live a normal, uneventful life filled with work, home and husband, people I love dearly who are in crisis and are suffering are causing me to desperately seek ways to help them, save, them, fix them, love them enough so that their pain goes away. I do not know where my need to be the resucer comes from; I only know that I cannot turn away from them. So their pain is my pain. In order to save myself I hold a belief that I need to save them.

Therapists, wise friends and family members tell me that it's not my problem. They say this not out of lack of compassion for those who I am worried over; they are trying to help me because they are worried about me. I love them all for that concern. But, I cannot turn away from those I love. I know I can't "fix" their problems, undo choices they make for their own life, but I have one weapon in my arsenal that I truly believe can help. I can write.

Writing has healed more deep wounds than I can ever recount. One thing I do know is that telling the truth of things, for me through writing, that pain can be worked through. So, I am going to write my story from beginning to present day and in my heart I know that I can shed light on the demons that have haunted me and that I know have caused indirect destruction to those who are also victims of a tainted history.

I don't know whether I will post entries here or publish in a more traditional way, but my book is now being written. This is something that has been a long time coming and I believe I am now ready to meet the challenge. One thing I can say for sure, I am feeling lighter and free of some of my burden already.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

How Does My Garden Grow?

I love to see things grow. Be it children or plants I love to witness the process: children as they move through their many stages of development, flowers when they bloom, or plants when they produce their delicious vegetables. Living in a desert I have been challenged in trying to grow anything that can live past the summer.

The other day my grandson Aiden and I schlepped to Star Nursery and loaded up our little red wagon with herbs, tomato plants and fragrant hyacinth flowers. I couldn't wait to put them all into the soil I'd prepared for their arrival. Every day from now on I'll go out and practically try and will the plants to grow before my eyes. I am an eternal optimist. Within months, when the hot sun hits and remains for four months, I'll be lucky to have one or two plants remaining.

It was my grandmother Oberlander that gave me an appreciation for growing things. Her home, the one where I grew up, was filled with plants; the grounds of our property were overgrown with flowers and trees. Her favorite, I think, were cactus. When I moved to Las Vegas I took her to the Cactus Garden at Ethel M's in Henderson. Filled with embarrassment and fear of getting caught, I watched as she made her way snipping pieces off of plants and stuffing them in her purse. She could take a clipping of most any living plant and grow it into a showpiece. She could take any item: a rock, an old shoe, a chipped cup and turn it into a happy home for her plants.

When I moved to southern California, I was thrilled to know I could pretty much grow things year-round. I reveled in turning the dirt over, enclosing my garden patch to keep the chickens I raised out. I would happily weed the flower beds, careful not to disturb the roots of my seedlings. Watching a tiny seed grow into a 6-foot sunflower is awe inspiring to me.

Here in Las Vegas I have had to be a bit more creative in how I approach the growing of things. Container gardening has been the most successful. Like my grandmother I envision almost any receptacle as a place to plant; an old, discarded bookcase is the home to my newest purchases.

Through trial and error I've had to figure out the best locations on the property where the sun doesn't shine for a full twelve hours each day. I have some success and that is what inspires me to keep on planting.

A Pepper tree that will need to be replaced

Aiden and I will go out later today and water our new plants. He was in charge of digging the little pocket the plant would be placed in and then carefully placing dirt around its rootball. My grandmother may have left us a while ago but she is still teaching and inspiring. Through me I will pass on her love of things that grow. I can hardly wait to hear the embarrassed gasp from one of my own grandchildren when they take me to a botanical garden and in horror watch me snip cuttings and slip them into my purse.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

My Life is Written All Over My Face

The landscape of my face is changing. I have lines around the eyes, between eyebrows, on my forehead, on the sides of my mouth, and, as my husband pointed out, above my upper lip. I knew those vertical lines were there; it looks like I was a life-long smoker, but it wasn’t until my partner pointed to them and said, “Where’d they come from?” that I, (I can’t believe I’m saying this) thought, "maybe Botox?”

I am so adamant about not having plastic surgery. I can’t stand that alien look on so many who have become obsessed with the practice and I vowed I’d never go that route. Although I am none too happy about those noticeable lines criss-crossing my face, I think my Botox consideration was a fleeting one.

I cannot imagine having something foreign and unnatural injected in me just for vanity’s sake.

One of my very dearest friends, Kathy, is my inspiration for growing old gracefully. It’s not that Kathy is my aging mentor or anything, she’s actually just a couple years older than me; rather it is the attitude she has always had about older people that inspires me. She is drawn to the beauty of aging.

Hands that are work-worn from years of toil are a sign of character, someone who has worked hard all their life

Wrinkles that line an aged face tell the story of a life well lived.

A back bent or a cane-assisted walk tells the tale of a body that has journeyed far and done much. Eyes and ears that no longer work as well as they used to must have, in their day, seen and heard amazing things.

These physical changes are but a reminder that the passage of time has a natural effect on the human body, and what is wrong with that? Why are we so determined to fight the natural aging process? Sure, I want to age in a healthy manner that allows me a long time on this earth, but I don’t want to spend my time, energy, money, and emotional well-being on worries that I don’t look good enough.

I am drawn to a natural beauty, be they young or old. So I am hoping that as I continue to age, I can maintain myself in a manner that pleases me when I gaze into my mirror. I may not ever be satisfied completely - there will always be ways I think I can improve, wistful thinking about what once was, but I am pretty sure that I can talk myself down from doing any drastic procedures.

No, I want to be one of those beauties, inside and out, that my friend, Kathy admires. I want my hands, face, body, and senses to inform me of the places I have been, the things I have done, the events I have been witness to. I’m okay with the changing landscape of my face. It’s my map to where I’ve been and to where I am headed.

It is, to be sure, the Cycle of Life. 

By the talented artist, Carole Bourdo