Monday, December 16, 2013

Fa La La La Yule



The atmosphere in our house has finally become more festive. This took a bit of an effort on the part of Sparkle Fairy and me, as the Hub has been depressed over struggles with work.  I don't know why, but it is very difficult to find anyone here in South Florida who wants to work. I know such people exist, but when it comes to our business we have experienced very little luck in wooing them over to our doorstep.  I believe part of the issue to be the transient nature of this place. Lots of people arrive in South Florida with big dreams and little motivation, or dreams of lying on a sandy beach somewhere while the money they need to live magically rolls toward then on the waves.  That said, I personally know quite a few people in South Florida who are highly motivated and in possession of a fantastic work ethic, so I know they exist.  Maybe there are just fewer of them in the world of construction. But I digress.

This weekend, we sparkled up the Yule tree and the Hub strung more lights in the trees in our front yard.  He put up a few lights last week but I was secretly a bit disappointed that he didn't put out more.  Usually he gets excited and a little crazy and I'll walk outside to find him up on the roof trying to balance an inflatable Rudolph with a blow up Santa, a mad scientist expression on his face. This year's attitude is more subdued, but we've managed to tease some spirit out of him, and I'm glad for that.  

The heat has not subsided much to date.  While our nights are cooler and some days the temperatures are a wee bit lower, the 80+ degree weather seems reluctant to leave us.  My northern family and friends scoff at me when I complain, but I'm a northern girl at heart, and I've been down here for enough years to have cultivated a deep longing for changing seasons once again.  Of course, left for a week in weather that ventures into the 20's, I might start whining.  One is never sure, as we humans are prone to the romanticism of times and places past.  

This weekend at the ArtsPark there was a Christmas festival.  Our little family ventured over, albeit late, and listened to a very dynamic gospel band while watching people stroll past, some decked in Santa hats, others sporting face paintings from a booth that was offering them as well as balloon figures.  The music was a bit too much for me,  but if you were the sort to enjoy lots of "washed in the blood" types of lyricism, you'd probably enjoy it. For me, the trees in the park were the high point of the evening. The park at Young's Circle is home to some of the most amazing trees  I have seen in a long while.  I wonder how I'd forgotten about this; I complain about this area's lack of extensive forests while right down the street is a beautiful park containing trees that are truly magical.  Live oaks stretch their graceful arms in all sort of twisting directions, while Jacarandas grow thick and tall. At least, I think they're Jacaranda trees.  I need to do some research regarding that.  Walking between these trees on Saturday night, I could easily imagine picnicking beneath them with Sparkle Fairy, or reading a book stretched out on a blanket in the sheltering shade of their branches.  We truly do need to open our eyes and our hearts to witness the wonder around us.   

And a new weeks begins! 

Sunday, September 8, 2013

A Hard Good-Bye Long Past





It's been almost a full year since the passing of my friend. The initial shock of her leaving has worn off, but the sadness and the missing of her has retained it's vigor.  This morning I was reviewing a gratitude list that I've been keeping for some time now. Nestled between the other entries was one that read, "Cooking in our kitchen with Lisa". I wrote that quite a long time ago- a couple of years ago, most likely- but I clearly recall that day. After the meal, we stood by the sink, me washing and her drying what couldn't be cleaned by the dishwasher.  She laughed as I told her I'd never been joined in the kitchen before. For her, growing up in an Italian family with siblings and other relatives present, partnering in the kitchen was commonplace. I enjoyed that day immensely.  I still think of it sometimes as I stand at the sink alone.  While I cook in the kitchen with my daughter often, it's rare for me to have another adult by my side. And because the kitchen is somewhat of a sacred space for me, that day with Lisa was doubly special. 

When I first had my daughter, Lisa was one of the few people I trusted to help me care for her. She helped me to find my voice at a time when I was still a bit shy and timid. Once, when we were at the beach, a grimy man who was stumbling about the broadwalk reached out to touch my then baby.  Lisa, admonished him immediately, telling him in her raspy voice, "Don't touch the baby with your dirty hands!"  I was grateful that she'd spoken up when my own voice felt so uncertain.  I have since grown and changed a great deal; I can hardly recognize the mouse I once was. But Lisa helped me to get to where I am now.   

For a new Mom, everything in life revolves around our new little one.  We accept this, usually without much thought, but appreciate it was someone thinks to do a little something for us too.  In my early days at home with wee Sparkle Fairy, Lisa would sometimes come by with a little something for us both. She might bring a toy or a trinket for the baby, and would give me a candle or some lotions. It didn't matter what the gift was; it just felt good to be considered, to receive that love.  

When Sparkle Fairy grew a little bigger, Lisa would sometimes babysit for her. Our daughter adored Lisa, and until recently would shy away from the mention of her name. It was difficult for her to acknowledge Lisa's death; she was a part of our girl's life from the beginning.  We have a ritual with potato chips- Lisa used to tell Rachel that the folded over chips were the best (aren't they though?!). They'd sit at our kitchen table, and when either pulled a folded chip from the bag, they'd hold it high in the air before chomping it down.  To this day, those potato chips are Auntie Lisa chips.  

The last time Lisa and I communicated, I told her I loved her and would see her when I got back to Florida. I could feel in my solar plexus that she was in some sort of trouble but she never told me what was going on.  I had no idea how sick she'd been, or that she'd almost died already over the previous months. I don't blame anyone but myself, really.  I'd distanced myself from her a little bit because I'd had some confusing experiences with her during which her addiction was fully in charge.  While I was familiar with the dynamics of addiction and could handle some of those painful moments, my daughter could not. I didn't want her to see Auntie Lisa at her worst. She was so beautiful at her best. I wanted my girl to know her for that. For the past year, I've regretted that I didn't find a better balance with this situation. While I don't have any false notions that my presence would have changed the course of her life (if she could have gotten well for anyone it would have been her daughter, but addiction doesn't care how much we love our family, or our friends), I do wish she'd been aware of my support for her. In my heart, I never gave up on her. To the last day, I held a shred of hope that she would be able to make the changes she needed to make in order to live.  It was not to be.

I miss her. 

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Dancing With Dragonflies




Summer began to exert its full fury about a month ago. Suddenly, it's so hot outside that the act of breathing causes me to break a sweat. Some of the Moms in our home school group meet at the beach weekly and I have no idea how they handle this weather while sitting on a towel over hot sand. Even in the shade, 
the sweat runs in rivers down my body and I start to break out into hives. I guess my Irish skin was just not made for this type of climate. 

I've been thinking a lot about gratitude lately.  I keep a gratitude journal, and each day I try to add something to the list. The really wonderful thing about the act of writing this list is that most days I'll open the book thinking about one thing that sparked my gratitude but end up adding several more items beneath the original.  It seems that once we open our hearts to being thankful we throw  wide a doorway to awareness of many more beautiful things we might otherwise have missed.  Gratitude chases away my arch enemy, depression, which allows me more energy for hanging out with my daughter,  being creative artistically, exercising, and all sorts of other activities.   It's almost magical the way gratitude operates, but I have to live my day with eyes open to the awesomeness of the little things as well as the big.  A few days ago my heart was momentarily captured by the sight of dragonflies dancing over our back lawn. One in particular, a red dragonfly, caught my attention. Her iridescent wings and jewel like body sparkled in the sunlight and I felt privileged to be witness to her summer frolicking.  The enchantment of nature has the power to halt me in my tracks if I choose to take notice.  There is great healing there. 

And so, as Thursday rolls her doors open for business, may you notice the sparkling jewels in your day. Don't let them dart past unnoticed!!!