LOVE

I found something last night in one of my notebooks I had written on 11/16/2016, when I asked myself if I could create an acronym for love.  This is what came to me:

L - Listen

O- Observe

V- Value

E- Empathize

Listen - "to wait attentively for a sound".  Listen is a verb, an active word.  Too often we are listening only to come up with our reply, or we butt in and do not give people a chance to speak.  Another word for listen is hear - "to listen to; give or pay attention to" One of the things my mom taught me was to pay attention to not just what people are saying and doing, but why they are saying and doing what they are.

Observe - "to regard with attention, especially so as to see or learn something".  This word is also a verb, a word of action.  It ties in to the above, pay attention what is underlying why people are doing or saying certain things, not only what they are doing or saying. 

Value - "to regard or esteem highly".  Another verb.  When you value a person, you listen and observe to learn and understand the why of what they are doing, not just the what, even when you may not agree.  

Empathize - "to experience empathy", which is "the psychological identification with or vicarious experiencing of the feelings, thoughts or attitudes of another".  That is a big one and requires us to come out of ourselves and into the experience of another.  Or, the other, as is sometimes used.

In my own life, love has most often called upon me to step out of what is comfortable.  To not make the easy choice, but the difficult one.  To suspend what I would most like to do for the sake of another.  Not out of my need to be valued for what I can do for someone else but because I value them as a person and think about what they might be going through.  Working to join them in whatever it is they are going through and to be with them in that.  Whether or not I agree is irrelevant,  and I don't get to decide whether or not what they are feeling or going through is valid.  

We can all listen more, observe more, value more and empathize more.  Coming out of yourself for the sake of another is not weak, instead it shows an incredible amount of strength.  

How Do You Answer the Big Question?

What would you do if you could do anything? I often like to ask people this question.  And this is the question we get asked periodically at different times during our lives.  Most of the time I never knew what to say.  I would be envious of those who seemed to know exactly what they wanted from their life and marched after it.  They knew what they would do, and they were doing it.  

I never knew I could create my own life.  For a long time I had no idea I actually could design my very own custom life.  Sometimes you don't know what you don't know.  I took things as they came to me, and lived a lot on auto-pilot.  But all along, things were stirring.  I remember watching the first Lord of the Rings movie in 2001, sitting in my cubicle thinking and knowing there had to be more but I had no idea what or how.  

It is not for the faint of heart.  From that point on, my life took me on an incredible journey.  And now, through more than a few years of deep self-work and excavation, I am doing it.  I am creating and designing a life I love.  Filling it with people I love, and things I love, and finding out what my interests and passions are.  I don't know if there is one true passion.  I guess the thing I think about most is writing.  That is the place where I go deep inside and lose myself.  But I am sure interested in a bunch of other things, like photography, traveling, history, languages, music .  

This life I have chosen is not easy.  In fact, it's damn hard sometimes.  Living with people, scrambling to come up with rent, patching together odd jobs.  But I learned something.  Well, a few things.  40 hours a week working for someone else does not leave me with the energy I need to create.  And writing is that sweet spot, where my dreams touch the Earth.  Now that I have found it, I am not about to give it up.  So I do whatever is necessary to protect it and nurture it.  Quite frankly, I don't want life to be "easy".  I want to always be growing, learning, changing and evolving.  

There is no retirement.  I hope I'm still writing and traveling when I'm 90.  I use that because that is how old my maternal grandmother is, and she just got her first cell phone.  I think the myth of retirement is that, a myth.  We wait and we wait and we wait and sometimes it pans out and sometimes it doesn't.  I refuse to believe the best thing I can hope for is to work some job with great benefits and hope I have enough energy left to do things when I'm 65 or 70.  Who knows if I'll make it that far, or my pension, 401k or Social Security will.  I don't want to "retire".  I intend to live a full, vibrant life.  If I have learned anything, as cliche as it is, there are no guarantees.  

GO!!!  One of my very best friends frequently posts this on my Facebook status updates.  And notice, it is an action word.  So go!!! Go towards your dreams, whatever they are.  Cultivate those ideas whispered in your dreams.  Pay attention and say yes.  I promise, you life will take a magical turn.  But be warned, once you open that door and go, there is no going back.  


Happy Birthday Mom.

Today she would be 67.  Born Linda Dianne Hawkins, she was my mother for 33 years of my life.  It seems so short when I type it, and seems rather unfair.  But, through some very dark long years, I have made my peace with it.  I dare not wallow in the why because I will never know.  

In her memory, my brothers and I all have an angel tattooed on our chest, over our hearts.  I'm not sure she would like to be memorialized that way, but she is our angel.  There have been times when I have heard her speak to me very clearly.  Not in an outloud kind of way, but in a spirit to spirit kind of way.  Think that's weird?  Yea, so did I.  

We think we have things all figured out.  But after Mom died, I realized I had very little figured out.  And most likely never will figure most things out.  One thing I did figure out: I could no longer live life as I had been.  Everything changed.  The building of my life imploded and I had to pick through the rubble deciding what to keep, if anything, and what to rebuild.  This has been a very long and sometimes very painful process.  

They say time heals all things.  I don't think it's just time.  Many people have had lots of time and are still bitter about what has happened in their lives.  I also think it's a choice.  I knew that bottoming out and spiraling into that deep dark hole of grief did nothing to honor my mother's life.  At times crawling and scratching, I made my way through and out of the darkness.  

I scan my heart for remnants of pain.  Yes, I miss her.  Yes, I would give pretty much anything to have her back, even for a day.  But the fresh pain is healed over.  I don't exactly know when, but I know it has.  My emotions carry a huge scar, a reminder, but I don't live there anymore.  I know the story, but I don't live the story.  

Dark nights of the soul are part of us, but they don't need to define us.  I am thankful for all that she taught me. I am grateful for the many people she impacted in her life.  I am honored by the love she bestowed on me while she was here.  I could not have had a better mother for me.  I carry all the love with me that she generously gave to others, while never making us feel neglected.  

I always thought she balanced between the physical and spiritual worlds more than any person I knew.  She lived in the light and was not afraid of the darkness.  I saw her walk in and rescue people from the dark many times.  She never gave up, not once.  She always believed in us.  When she talked to you, she knew you.  She knew the mailman, the grocery clerk, the homeless man in the park.  And she prayed.  Always and forever praying.  

Our home was filled with warmth and laughter.  Though we did not have a ton of material things, she was always there, and we always had enough.  Things got difficult during her sickness for our family, but the one thing I remember is that she and Dad were friends.  No matter what happened, that never changed, because they always loved each other.

If you would have told me twenty years ago this is how my life would unfold, I would not have believed it.  Living life without a parent is difficult, I'm not gonna lie.  I can't tell you how envious I am of people who can call their parents and go to lunch.  I don't have that luxury anymore.  No matter how amazing Mom was, she is physically gone.  And that cannot be undone.  

So in honor of her, love.  Dream.  Find the beauty in the world, because it is there.  Listen to the music, because she always did.  She instilled a fierce independence in us, and never held back on her love.  We should not either.  If she had something to say, she would tell you, no matter if you were the CEO or the janitor.  Make sure the ones you love know it.  Live your truth and be authentic.  

I remember her voice, her warm hands.  That crazy curly hair.  Her love of snow.  A warm, tidy home, with something always cooking or baking.  Her love of words, and writing.  Daily music in the house because she constantly played the piano and sang. She loved antique jewelry and old books.  She was firm, never raised her voice, but kind.  What she said, she meant.  She left me with so many words of wisdom, I keep many of her notes close at hand to read when I need some encouragement.  

I wish I could hug her one more time, or see her smile.  I wish she could know her grandchildren, and her great granddaughter, Audree.  Little miss Audree is the first girl to be born in my immediate family since me.  I have a suspicion this little one may carry some of the essence of my mother's spirit with her.  In her little face, she carries the wisdom of the ages.  

Of all the cards we received at her memorial, this is the one I still keep with me to this day, and how I choose to remember her:

Happy Birthday Mom!!  I love you!  

 

BestThings: Wednesday Edition

What to do when you can't sleep?  Walk down to the public dock, enjoy the cool breeze off the river and hope you don't fall in.  Because honestly, there's no one there to save me if I do. Luckily, that did not happen.  So here I am writing about the "best things" from today.

Morning. Where do I start?  I spent the morning at home, meditated, did yoga, wrote morning pages, took a long walk, found a house I love, watched the hot construction workers replacing some deck beams next door.  Objectifying?  Absolutely.  Nothing wrong with a healthy appreciation for some toned men with their shirts off.  It was a HOT one today.  

Afternoon.  Uber can't seem to get their act together.  I had the "opportunity" to give my "Partner Support Specialist", Patrick, a Lyft ride this afternoon so he could get me the $500 bonus because the "system" was having technical difficulties.  I think he just wanted an excuse to see me again.  I am pretty awesome....and yes, I am feeling a little sassy tonight.  I gave a few other Lyft rides here and there while enjoying the A/C in the basement at my actual home.  

Evening.  Tonight I had the great pleasure of having dinner with John & Lois (and Tony), dear friends whom (who?)  I love a lot.  Lois made Chicken Parmagiana, pasta, salad and a delicious chocolate zucchini cake.  We talked about family and travel, shared cocktails and coffee and got caught up on life.  I promised it would not be another 5 or 6 or 10 years until we saw each other again.  There seems to be a lot of that going around.  Reconnecting with people.  And it's good, all good.  The moon tonight is so beautiful, it puts me in a very romantic mood.  Now...if I only had someone to share it with....

Sometimes I feel like I have all this love to give.  Well, not sometimes, all the time.  I'm not always very good about getting it out there, I'm definitely better with words than I am talking half the time.  I don't know, I've felt something shift in the last few weeks or so, maybe even the last month.  And I'm talking personally now.  Maybe I'm not ready to "settle down", and maybe I don't have to be.  But I think I am ready for the greatest adventure in my life....love.  Not just any love, but a true love.  I am a master at being alone...Malcolm Gladwell says it takes 10,000 hours to master something.  I've got being alone down, maybe a little bit too much.  And I'm probably going to look at this tomorrow and think "why in the hell did I write that?" but hey, it is my blog.  I have learned there is something freeing about being completely honest and vulnerable about what you want.  So that's it.  I'm publicly telling the world and Universe at large that I am open.  Open to love and open to romance.  Who doesn't want the adventure of a great love story?  I most definitely do.  




BestThings: Thursday Edition

Friday.  I woke up excited today because tomorrow I'm leaving on another road trip.  So there will be some travel blogging coming up too.  I'll be heading to Idaho for the 4th and then on to Montana next week to see my Dad.  I am so happy to be getting on the road again! But first, pesky things like packing and laundry.  I intend to be up very early tomorrow so I can get the bulk of my journey done before it gets ridiculously hot.  Wait...it's been ridiculously hot already. 

Friends. I spent a good amount of time talking to my best friend yesterday morning.  I'm going to visit her in Idaho.  As we were talking, we came up with a new plan for part of time in Idaho.  We are going up to the Stanley area to camp out for a few days before I head on to Montana.  Her boyfriend works up there on a road crew so we will get to spend some time together in the camper.  AND we are going to visit a ghost town!  Super-excited and I see some photo opportunities coming up.  Time to get out my Road Atlas and figure out the route from there to Missoula.  

Routines.  It took me all morning, but I did morning pages, blogged and did my morning yoga routine.  Sometimes it's just like that.  I spent some time talking to my brother too, down in Oakland.  As a result of getting up late and doodling all morning, I did not get logged in to Lyft until early afternoon. 

Lyft. I picked up a few passengers in the afternoon, then decided to come home and take a break.  I do not always like driving in the heat of the afternoon.  It works better if I drive in the morning, then login and drive around 6pm to 9 or 10.  And that's what I did yesterday.  I took more than a few people down to NW.  So busy!  I decided I like picking up on the East side and doing most of my work over there.  I do not enjoy driving downtown much.  And good God!  Pedestrians are so dumb sometimes.  Luckily no mishaps.  When I'm driving, I gear down mentally and chill out, concerned only with getting my passenger(s) safely to where I am taking them.  I had come home and was just about to logout when I got a ride request from around the corner.  So, I took my last guy down to NW Portland.  He was super-nice, a great ride to end the night with.  Earlier I had picked up several youngsters who were clearly high and guess where I ended up taking them?  Not Taco Bell, but close.  Stella Taco on Alberta.  I got in the car to take my next ride and thought, "Whoa!"  If I could smell the weed, I'm certain my next passenger could.  Always an adventure.  We had a very long conversation the whole ride with one of the girls who was having a very hard time figuring out how the billing for Lyft worked.  Finally I think they got it sorted out.  Lord!  

Sunset.  There is nothing more beautiful than driving across the Broadway bridge while the sun is setting.  It was incredibly beautiful last night.  I only wished I could have stopped and captured the image on film.  The sun framed behind the Fremont bridge is something to behold indeed. And at that time, the world is lit with the golden light of the fading sun.  I wished I could stop on the bridge and absorb the view.  Maybe tonight I'll figure out where I can park and walk out and snap some photos.  I am blessed to live in an incredibly beautiful city, and sunset is one of my favorite times to drive.  It always feels like magic, the time between times.  And I fell asleep to the light of the nearly full moon.  So much beauty awaits you if you simply pause to take it in.