Once Upon a Time…

Once upon a time…I had a good job.

I had money; not a lot certainly, but compared with my financial situation for the past couple years, I was FILTHY rich. I even had benefits, health insurance and a company matched 401k…whaaaaaat??!! Then a mean witch called “corporate downsizing” robbed me of my job and most of my savings. She’s a bitch all right, with a capital B. Yet somehow I can’t complain. Well, I could; and truthfully, I have. But since then, I’ve realized how much I had to lose in order to see what’s really worth holding tight. I had to lose clothes shopping at my favorite stores. I had to lose eating out for lunch every day. I had to lose my daily trip to Dunkin’ Donuts. I had to lose weekly movies and expensive vacations. I had to lose even the cheap vacations. I had to lose all the extra BS that seemed to be necessities at the time, in order to live a life of true necessities. I’ve learned that more money coming in, almost definitely means so much more money going out; that a bigger paycheck doesn’t always last that long when you have to expend soooo much just to keep up with creature comforts.

I’ve learned that coffee in a french press made at home is better than Dunkin’, and way better than Starbucks. I’ve learned that a summer morning spent reading on the front porch surrounded by flowers is an excellent way to spend some hours. I’ve learned that yoga in my living-room can be just as good at stress-relief as yoga in an expensive studio. I’ve learned to truly live on a budget and that I really, really love mac-n-cheese for dinner. I’ve learned that a phone call to your best friend who lives across the country is the very best form of therapy. I’ve learned that being caught in a torrential downpour at a kiddie amusement park with the best friend and her brood is a truly cleansing experience, that jumping in puddles is  awesomely messy, and that fireworks are truly the best.

The best thing I’ve taken away from this time-out, is that I found my voice in my writing. I never had the time before. It was always “later,” or “someday,” or maybe even “never.” I always had the words, but I never had the will or the nerve to put them down on paper (or laptop). They were constantly floating around in my head, bursting at the seams, only to be crammed down again and locked into the dusty box of “one day.”

I’ve learned what true depression is, what causes it, how to cope with it, how to heal from it, and how to plod on every. single. day.

I’ve learned that while money is great, friends and family who love you and support your dreams is even better. If you have a “time out,” don’t be discouraged. Use it as an opportunity to hone the skills that may have been lying dormant all these years. Look inside. Look forward. Look to the flowers, and trees, the birds, and bees, to the sunrise and the sunset, to those you love, and even those who make your blood boil. Love those who can make you giggle and value those who make you think. And always, always keep looking up.

Keep reaching for your goals, my friends; and never be satisfied with giving up.

downpour

evan

ana

tigerlily

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Hold Out

Hold out for hope when none is there.
I will not give in to despair
Or wet my hair with tears each night
And stay awake til mornings light.

I’ll walk in greener pastures soon
Beneath warm sun at midday noon.
And underneath the stars we’ll play
And share the secrets of our day.

I’ll eat again til I am full,
And rest beside you in that lull
That comes with twilight’s steely light.
You’ll read to me into the night.

I will dream of pleasant times;
And file away some lovely rhymes.
Sing me tunes I long to hear,
And hold me close til morning’s here.

*originally written on Dec. 16, 2011 and recently published in the poetry anthology Ground Zero by Nicholas Gagnier of Retcon Poet

Ground Zero

Freedom in Friendship

love

William Shakespeare’s Sonnet number 116 has long been a favorite of mine. But more recently I came across the above quote by Adam Clarke. At first I found it difficult to hold both of these statements to be true. On first look they seem to be mutually exclusive, such opposing ideas that I feel my brain being tied into a knot. For my purposes I don’t speak of romantic love but of friendship (but I love my friends, so forgive me my broad interpretation). Here is my quandary: when does faithfulness in a friendship cross the line into lack of self-respect, by staying when things are terribly dysfunctional? On deeper inspection, I find these quotes to be quite complimentary.

Shakespeare is indeed right when he says “Love is not love which alters when it alteration finds.” Love is faithful and kind and patient and covers a multitude of sins.

Clarke is also right that “love requires love as its recompense,” for true friendship must be reciprocal in nature. Genuine friendship is not an exchange of goods, services, and presents; a “this for that” mentality does not make for a lasting friendship. The only thing required is the exchange of goodwill, kindness and truth spoken in love. A friendship without mutual respect and the permission to allow each other to grow and change creates shackles rather than freedom.

Maybe I should be reading these quotes the other way around. There can only be loyalty, love, and faithfulness in a friendship (love which does not alter) when friendship has been given freely (love begetting love) first. Love does not flee at the first sign of trouble; adversely, love does not require oneself to be bullied, manipulated and disrespected for the sake of loyalty.

As a Christian these quotes will only get me so far. Scripture is really my only compass to navigate the choppy waters of evaluating my relationships. I have found the following verses particularly helpful:

“friendships” to avoid

Proverbs 18:24
There are “friends” who destroy each other, but a real friend sticks closer than a brother.

Proverbs 16:28
A troublemaker plants seeds of strife; gossip separates the best of friends.

Proverbs 22:24–25
Don’t befriend angry people or associate with hot-tempered people, or you will learn to be like them and endanger your soul.

friendships to cherish and cultivate

Proverbs 27:9
The heartfelt counsel of a friend is as sweet as perfume and incense.

Proverbs 18:24
A man [or woman] who has friends must show himself [or herself] friendly. And there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother [or sister].

Ecclesiastes 4:-12
Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone? A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.

A Winey Conversation

I love my friend Bobbis. His real name is Rob. One night at a Christmas party, while wearing the antlers of truth, we sat in a circle and admitted our most embarrassing nicknames. In elementary school he was given the nickname “Bobbis Bobuardo.” He hated it. So it caught on. Then he really hated it. He hated it so much, that it still makes him angry even after two decades. It makes him so angry, that I am left with no choice but to call him Bobbis at every opportunity. He is extremely patient with me.

Tonight Bobbis and I shared most of a bottle of wine (and whine), some laughs, some hugs, and even a tear or two. After two glasses of wine our conversation struck me as being especially hilarious. I’m sure I’ll read this tomorrow and be like “Say whaaaaaaa?? That’s not even funny.” But much like waking up from a crazy dream and realizing I’ve just discovered the outline and plot of my upcoming bestselling screen-play, right now I am convinced it is brilliant. Bear with me:

**********

“But to be a sugar daddy don’t you have to have some sugar?”

“I could be daddy. I just don’t have too much sugar.”

**********

“Hi.”

“Hi.”

“Sorry, not you. I was talking to the dog.”

“Wait…what?”

“Well I know you already. I want her to like me.”

**********

“Lemme ask you a serious question…”

“Ok.”

“If I won the lottery do you think you’d ever hear from me agai…”

“Nope.”

“Dammit, why does everyone say that?!”

**********

“You know, all of my Christmas decorating will culminate in one year. Have you seen national lampoon’s Christmas vacation? Its gonna be like that. I’m going ape-shit with Christmas lights…then never again.”

**********

“If had to pick one person to describe me…no wait…listen…it would be three people.”

“Ok, who?”

“Dwight Schultz, Ellen DeGeneres and George Constanza.”

“Who the hell is Dwight Schultz?”

“Ya know…Murdoch from The A-Team.”

“So you would pick a lesbian woman as a celebrity who embodies your personality?”

“And two men!”

**********

Thanks for always being there Bobbis Bobuardo, and for supplying me with endless hours of conversation.

And since I am still wearing the antlers of truth, I will admit that my most hated nickname growing up was “Krisinini-dukatinie”…shortened to “Dukey.” A four-year old little girl with the nickname “Dukey.”

You’re welcome.

wpid-IMG_20130630_020649.jpgThis was the wine we decided on.

wpid-IMG_20130630_020733.jpgAnd this is why we made the decision…girls night in.

Let’s Not Fight

Take my hand and let’s not fight.
Bring me with you into the night.
Carry the lantern and lead the way.
I promise to follow. I will not stray.
Summon your courage and do not fear.
Dance with me to the tunes that we hear:
Celebration and hope to come soon,
And the songs that carry a mournful tune.
If it gets too dark and we’ve lost the way
We’ll relight the lantern while on our way.
We’ll bath in the shallows under dark skies.
As we walk on, the sun shall rise
And lend us the courage we need to keep on
Until we find ourselves back home.

originally written on 8/24/11

Blue Dreams

I dream about you frequently,
Of the things I didn’t say,
How I never came to visit you
Once you went away,
About the life we used to live
Before it all went wrong.
I’ve known you almost my whole life.
I’ve loved you all along.
Now you’re coming home real soon,
In only few short weeks.
The dreams have since been turned to fear,
That you’ll want nothing more from me.
I dream about you constantly,
Of the things I never knew.
I’ve failed you terribly my friend.
These dreams are ringed in blue.

blue

Blazing Days

Do you ever have a day where your brain feels slightly blurry;
When even simple tasks are riddled through with worry;
When you long to lie in bed with the cover pulled up o’er you,
Cocooned against the darkest thoughts that always buzz around you;
Received the cheer filled platitudes like “Fake it til you make it,”
But the energy and effort is more than you can tackle?
So I lie inside my mind and retreat into that place,
And e’en though it’s frightening feels like the only space
Where I can let the walls down and give myself a cry.
And waking from disquiet dreams I ask myself, “But why?
Why can’t I see the world through the spectacles of truth?
Why does every view I take, seem a dingy shade of blue?’
Do not try to cheer me as I make my lonely walk,
Or give me simple fixes. I don’t want that kind of talk.
Love me still or leave me. This is part of who I am.
Do not try to fix me. Just take me by the hand.
Keep walking forth towards blazing days.  I won’t be far behind.

originally written on 11/27/11

Hazel Eyes

I’d really like to know
where it is you go
when trapped in thought
behind those hazel eyes.
Anger first. And now surprise.
Sometimes joy. And then there’s fear.
Who’s voices do you hear?
Smilelight and firelight flicker o’er your face,
Soon replaced by stormy clouds of rage.
Iris green and ringed with blue,
Speckled with an amber hue,
Lost in thought behind those hazel eyes.

hazel