I fell asleep one night twenty-seven months ago and awoke to a startling change in my life. Back then I never imagined how it would affect me so deeply, so profoundly. Today when I awoke it became very apparent to me that my life would never again be the life I had known for the last twenty years and surprisingly I found I am totally unprepared.
Funny how people take their everyday routines for granted. Some people never give it a thought, while others plan every moment. Some people love their jobs, while others drudge themselves through it. I suppose I had a mix of both ways, but mostly I loved my job. The people I came to know, the help I was able to give, the feeling of accomplishment I experienced completing a difficult task. All of those experiences gave me purpose. I didn’t really know until today what it meant to know I can never do that job again, never meet new young people, never have a conversation with a scholar that left me breathless and learning something new or even having a debate over our different outlooks on life. It hit me like a ton of bricks today and the sadness of this forced retirement engulfed me beyond my imaginings.
I still feel too young to be retiring, but alas not being able to use my body as I did before that day twenty-seven months ago has changed all my best laid plans. I never would have believed anyone who told me I would be so lost and so sad just from leaving a job, but I am those things and more. Even writing, which I always believed to be my future, has lost its luster and appeal lately. It astounds me thinking that my purpose is now gone. Good advice is ever flowing my way and ideas from others about what to do with my time now, but none unfortunately wear my shoes nor have my personality so all the good intentioned words of wisdom don’t help me at all. I compare it to the loss of someone dear. Everyone at the funeral says they are sorry for your loss and I’m certain they are, but it doesn’t validate what you feel from that loss. Well, when you are forced to give up something you care about, as I was, it is the same as experiencing the death of a beloved friend or family member. There truly is no consoling. As all hurts heal I have no doubt this will also pass in time, I just don’t know how much more time needs to pass until I can feel like my old self again or if in fact, I ever will.
Am am I feeling sorry for myself, probably yes. Do I have a right to? Without a doubt. Maybe something will change again in my life one day soon that will allow me the privilege of feeling I have a purpose on a daily basis. Who knows? Change is certainly apparent everywhere for everyone, just do yourselves a favor and don’t take what you have for granted. Appreciate it, go ahead sweat the small stuff cause the small stuff matters as well, savor all of the moments because you may fall asleep one night and awaken to discover your entire world is changed and you can no longer have the purpose you have today.
Everyone wants to be happy. It’s more than an adjective or adverb, noun or verb. It’s an actual feeling. It’s hardest to do when you are a young adult because all of the troubles in the world are on your shoulders. However, if one would learn to push the negative out and allow the positive side in, I am willing to bet that happiness will start to infiltrate the soul and before you know it…you will find yourself …happy! For me, I can jump-start the process of feeling happy by listening to music….happy, uplifting, danceable music! Maybe for others it would be a movie or perhaps a book, or maybe just a smile from a fellow human being. Whatever the start is pay heed to it! Follow it through. Allow yourself the luxury of feeling happy.
I decided to be happy even though another year has gone by and I am no better nor worse than I was a year ago! As I reflect upon my life these days (which I always seem to do around the date of my birth) it becomes more and more apparent that although I have had trials and tribulations, as most of my fellow human beings, for the most part I have had a good life up to now. A GOOD LIFE, now that isn’t something everyone can say. As I think back and see my childhood, my teen years, my young adulthood and now, I have had the support of family and friends always in one form or another. The people I have met have kept my life in perspective. My life is enriched first and foremost by my family. I have a terrific family. Sure we are all a bit nutty here and there, but no more so than most. My life is enriched further by my friends. I have made so many wonderful friends. Sure they are all a bit out there at times, but those are the times that make me laugh the hardest! So I have concluded that people really do create love.
Even though it’s about to be my birthday and people tend to be a bit nicer when it’s one’s birthday, I have to honestly say that most of my birthdays have been memorable and happy. Yep, I said it …happy! It’s actually a euphoric feeling when one decides to be happy. It isn’t the same as when something makes you happy. It isn’t the same when people wish you happiness, either. It’s more of an inner peace. A gift to yourself. Choosing happiness in the face of adversity, choosing happiness in the face of illness, choosing happiness in the face of poverty, is truly a unique and rewarding feeling. Truth be known, only you can do this for yourself. Happiness is the one true choice a person can make for themselves. All it takes is a decision to be happy. To look at the sadness that surrounds you and the awful things in the world that you can only pray will change and decide that you will do your part to better it by first caring about those things and then do something about them with a happy outlook. I decided that I can’t change things as I would like them to be, but I can accept them and I can make a difference with every word I write and every smile I give. That is how I choose to make a difference and give the gift of happiness by being happy. I have heard through the years that when the person in the household who keeps everything together is happy than the whole household is happy. Same applies to the person on the job or anywhere. If that person is happy everyone is happy. I have tried it and I know firsthand that it works. Happiness is infectious! So infect people with happiness wherever you go!
So Happy Trails! Be Happy Together! Smile! Act as if your life depended on it, because actually it does!
All of my life I have been fascinated by love or the idea of love. Is it solely emotion or is it an idea within one’s mind? Or perhaps it is a combination, something I have come to think of as the emotional mind. Growing up my mother always told me, “There is no such thing as love”. As I matured I realized she was caused so much pain from love that she chose to cut it from her life as best she could. As I grow older, I am beginning to understand that statement more and more.
I’m not referring to a parent’s love for a child or vice a versa. Although that can exhibit the same disappointments at times. However, that sort of love doesn’t fade. Painful or not it remains. Joyous or not it remains. It is the only constant I have come to believe in, for not matter how cruel or unmanageable it may be at times, the love we feel for our children is always there; and the love a child may feel, even for an abusive parent, is still intact after all the hurt has been inflicted. It is a true phenomenon in life to me.
I have been romantically in love a few times in my life. All of those times started out euphoric. The feeling was always good and always left a desire for more of the same. Unfortunately, I have also experienced great pain from those very same feelings of love that brought me such pleasure in the beginning. It has baffled me my entire life and has resulted in extreme skepticism about love and what it is and what it may be. Quite a while ago I wrote the poem, What is Love and perhaps it wasn’t considered great by those who viewed it, but for me it spoke of my conflicted beliefs about love and how one can never be certain that it truly exists no matter how wondrous the lovers or spouses seem.
It has been my experience that with great love comes great pain. For to love someone a person must care about everything that involves that person. For if one didn’t care, then how could it be love? For is not love the desire to make the other person happy at all times? For is not love a feeling of empathy for the other? For is not love an expression of complete desire and need of the other? If those things are not felt than I say romantic love is not present. Perhaps the feeling is carried over from that which we felt in childhood. A need to belong, a cure for loneliness, a comforting gesture, and even a dependency. That is the love felt by a child, but surely not romantic love. Romantic love must be a combination of all those things; and above all the absolute wish for the well-being and happiness of the other person. That is so very hard for human beings to do. To be able to sacrifice, for lack of a better word, their own feelings for that of another. My belief is that to love that way is to experience what love is and the trick is to continue to love one own’s self while experiencing it. So technically, it is not a sacrifice at all, but a willingness to commit to a feeling felt so deeply it is unexplainable.
So is love a reality of the heart? Or is it an illusion of a human’s mind? These are age-old questions and I suppose the answer will continue to elude us. I will tell you this, I would choose to experience always the euphoric aura of romantic love, but would forgo it completely if I knew that with it comes the excruciating pain it can bring. Happy Valentine’s Day!
What is love?
Love is a moment, and too often it passes without a second thought. It’s the one moment in your life in which everything is right. Your faults and failures don’t matter. Love is the moment you know why you’re here; it’s the answer you’ve sought. Love is the absence of emptiness. Love is the sole reason you feel emptiness. Love is a changeling.
It is different feelings in different people. Love is a defined human emotion tugging for comprehension within the center of reason. Love is the confidence to be. Love is essence of beauty. Love is felt. Love is neither intelligence nor a theory provoking process. Love is the core of humanity’s beliefs. Love can be paradise. Love can be excruciating pain. Love is a personal expression of inner self. Love is a mystery waiting to be revealed. Love is the driving force in the pursuit of happiness. Love is self-deprivation in a quest toward selfishness of the highest form by creating happiness in another. Love is what you feel it is and not what you think it is. Love is unforgettably embedded in your being once it is truly experienced. Love is a lifelong search.
With those words came a shock of disbelief, until I heard from her sister, Roxanne who confirmed what I was afraid to face, my beloved friend Wanda passed away from a heart attack on January 30, 2014 at the age of 59.
I am still shocked and I feel her gone from this earth and the sadness overcomes me. Never again will I be able to hear her laughing at my shenanigans. Never again will I hear her childlike innocence over a secret I shared with her. It was as if I shocked her with each adventure of mine that I revealed to her. No I haven’t traveled the world or climbed any mountains, but every little thing in my life that happened and I told Wanda about it, I felt like the most well-traveled outrageous woman ever, sort of an Amelia Earhart or an Auntie Mame, and she made me feel so great! When I was troubled or worried it was Wanda who made me laugh with her and all of a sudden everything vanished and it was funny. This blog tonight isn’t about me though, it is meant to be about one of the most amazing women I have ever known.
We met when we were in our twenties. We both worked at New York Life Insurance Company in Manhattan. Never in a million years did either of us think we would wind up as bookends. She a proud African-American woman and me a Caucasian mutt (Irish, English, Scottish and French) woman. Both of us were considered middle class at this stage of our lives, but we knew poverty and were trying to overcome it. Neither of us believing we had so many things in common. We did though, the more we talked the more we knew we were extremely similar in every area, we bonded from those discoveries and we stay bonded throughout our lives. We trusted one another. We never judged one another. We shared all those intimate details without hesitation, laughing through the other’s shock at our behavior at times. We were similar to two of the “Sex and the City” girls. A bit out there, taking risks and trying almost anything at least once. I can only remember two times in over 35 years seeing or hearing Wanda cry. She didn’t cry in front of people, she tried to show toughness, but her niceness always shined through that facade.
Even though there are a dozen of antics I could reveal, I choose not to divulge them, because I know my friend wouldn’t want that and I will respect her. The two of us couldn’t help but hang out together once we realized we were almost the same person only of a different race. Our friendship grew despite the disapproval and jealousies of our other friends. It was our fault though and we knew it, but still couldn’t help just hanging out together every chance we got. We still loved our friends, we just couldn’t share all the things Wanda and I shared with one another without feeling judged. You see Wanda and I just simply accepted each other and neither of us ever judged each other or anyone else. We never talked about others and how they were or what they did. We just simply were friends. We met each other’s families and they became our family. We met each other’s boyfriends and future spouses. We went to each other’s weddings and childbirth. We suffered together through breakups, sicknesses and accomplishments.
As we grew older we stopped seeing each other, each of us involved in our own worlds of marriage and motherhood. However, we never kept out of touch. At least once a year we would talk about what was happening in our lives, we would catch up as if we saw one another yesterday. We would always remember one another’s birthday. The only regret I have is that I was one of three Godmothers to her only daughter, Shanell and I didn’t keep up with Shanell. Not because I didn’t want to, but because my circumstances through much of my life, didn’t give me the privilege of choice. However, I have always been proud of the honor Wanda bestowed on me from the moment she asked me and I still feel that honor. Wanda knew I felt this and always understood why I couldn’t demonstrate it as I wanted to, she never held it against me and always updated me about Shanell. Wanda loves Shanell and her granddaughter, Nekiia with all her heart and of this I am positive. Wanda was always Wanda. She never changed in all the years I knew her.
She was very ill the last few years, but told me recently that she had her numbers under control, except for her sugar. That was always fluctuating because, like me she was addicted to soda. In the last three years, I tapered off the soda and replaced it with bottled water because like her, I developed diabetes as well. She was on medication, I came off medication but still have fluctuating numbers. Wanda couldn’t escape her need of soda, it was just stronger than her willpower. I understood. Now she is gone from a heart attack. I don’t know what happened yet and I’m not sure what led to the attack, but it doesn’t matter. Right now the only thing that matters to me is that I live in a world now without Wanda. My Wanda the funny, bubbling, secretive, caring, genuine, magnificent Wanda. A true friend, a real friend, a best friend a woman with substance, humanity, and heart. She was brave when needed, strong when needed, subdued when needed. She had wisdom beyond her years. She had love as great as Venus and conquered whatever hate she felt long ago. If it seems as if I am exaggerating than you didn’t know her. She was a humanitarian, a wonderful loving grandmother, a loyal and trusting friend. I loved her ever since I got to know her and I love her still. How I will continue in a world without Wanda being in it is beyond my thinking. I cannot imagine it. She kept me grounded. I had no fear, no mistrust, no doubt when I was with her no matter if we were live, online or on the phone. She exuded such a positive, welcoming aura that no secret was too secretive, no wild or risky act was too risqué. She was so accepting of all of it.
She also was fiercely protective of her loved ones and would be stern when she felt it was necessary. She was stubborn and class conscience, she would let you have it if she believed she was right and you were wrong. She was just like every other mom I have ever known, taking care of her family the best way she knew how. She will be missed beyond any of these words, but I needed to write them. I wanted the world to know that Wanda left her mark. That she is still loved beyond words. The world and I lost a precious human the other day and all I hope is that she is in a place where she is pampered, protected and pain-free. Wherever she is they are lucky to have her.
Wanda I love you, I miss you and I wish you rest in a peaceful and comfortable place. You will always be my beloved, trusted friend.
It’s been quite awhile since I posted anything on my blog. I haven’t had much oomph lately nor much inspiration for my thoughts. I am hoping that in this New Year I will receive insight that will open up avenues that will be of interest to those who follow my thoughts in words on paper.
So much goes on during the holiday season that I get lost in the hoo
pla of it all and my mind is a bevy of ideas and projects. Not that I did very much except gift buying, decorating and bit of baking. All but a fraction of what I used to accomplish. As a matter of fact, the Christmas decorations are still outside my house. It’s been too cold and snowy this January to get them down and put away. Maybe by St. Patrick’s Day!
Just wanted to touch base a bit and let my followers know I’m still alive and kicking.
As soon as the words come flowing…..this blog of mine will be growing. See you soon.
Being truly grateful to our military past, present and future as well as to their families seems such a small gesture when one really thinks about it, however not being grateful or not saying at least a thank you is a true travesty. Yet many Americans have chosen the latter. It may be that many of our military enlisted for various reasons, some were called to duty, but no matter how they became a part of our military, we owe each of them a debt of gratitude far beyond what we could ever come close to repaying. The same debt is owed to their families for they have made many sacrifices as well.
The rights and privileges each of us maintain are ensured by the military who defend us, guard us and believe in the greatness of our country. Without their unwavering loyalty, bravery, and pride America would not exist as a free and independent nation. No matter our differences in politics, religions, races…each man or woman soldier, sailor, marine, air force person and national guard carries inside of them a quality that outshines most of us. They share and spread that beacon of light throughout this nation. That light never goes out because of their service and their sacrifices. There are thousands who have given or lost their lives throughout the generations and those men and women must never be forgotten for this ultimate act. We can never repay this act of bravery ever. The very least we can offer is our eternal gratitude.
By this simple gesture we are showing our respect to these individuals. It has nothing to do with whether or not we believe in wars. Or in the opinions of our politicians. On this day a gesture of gratitude merely recognizes our military and honors them for keeping our nation safe. It allows all to see and to know how important our military is to each of us and that no matter the differences so inherent in this country we are United because of their commitment to service, their bravery and their beliefs.
A thank you costs us nothing but gives us so much. So please during your day today say a Happy Veteran’s Day’ thank you to a military person and their family with true feeling for their unmatched commitment.
It’s amazing to me how I keep hearing how murder in NYC is down each year, yet every time I open up my NY Daily News, my local paper, I see another shooting or knifing. Usually it happens in neighborhood that holds a housing project. Everyday there is an innocent child or adult who gets caught in the crossfire. Yet murder is going down in the City. Aren’t the boroughs considered part of this wonderful city we call the Big Apple?
I turn the pages of the newspaper and see the arguments for and against stop and frisk by the NYC Police Department. I admit I have a mixed reaction to that policy. If it will truly deter crime and catch the idiots who murder or wound innocent human beings — than I am for it. If it is just a numbers game..then forget it. If it means the police can catch terrorists…do it. I’ll waive my Civil Rights if it will help do that. Hah! I can’t believe I just said that, me, of all people! I am such an advocate of Civil Rights and the rights of individuals and totally against any “Big Brother” type monitoring, yet I am also so very saddened and tired of reading and hearing about senseless killings of innocents.
We need a new Mayor that is for sure. If we have the right candidates, I don’t know. I do know as great as the rich Mayor attempted to make the city, and the Police Commissioner protected us, these awful events keep happening. We absolutely need the housing projects in all the boroughs redone. Whatever happens there isn’t right. Hard working, mostly blue-collar or poverty-stricken people reside in them and they deserve to have decent living arrangements and safe, clean properties to enjoy. I believe that with the right Mayor focusing on the housing project problems could be the most major event to happen to New York City and the Boroughs in ages! If the Mayor elect would make that the first priority I believe this Metropolis would flourish like never before. I believe the senseless killings would end. The gangs would be disbanded and the people who deserve not to be afraid, won’t have to be afraid anymore. Cops can get back to fighting other crime because there will always be other crime to fight, in a City this big there will always be crime.
Maybe I’m all wrong and there is something I’m missing, but I don’t think so. I’m so tired of injustice and senseless killings and all the other bad stuff that goes with it. Maybe I should move. Change my state or something. I don’t want to run away from the city of my birth. Brooklyn has always been my home and I love it. I love its’ diversity, its’ beauty, even its’ ugly side. It is after all my home. Quite frankly, though, I have been thinking more and more about finding a different place to settle down and have the things I never could have here, such as my own backyard and porch/deck. My own driveway and lawn. A kitchen that has access to the backyard has always been a dream of mine. Maybe even a pool so I can do a daily swim and get my tone back. Oh so many things I have thought that would mean changing my life, but somehow the pull of Brooklyn, the memories the access to everything keeps me here with my dreams of change, rather than the change itself.
All I really want to change in the immediate future is for me to pick up my Daily paper and not find one story about a senseless killing in a playground or just crossing a street. That is the change I really want and I hope it’s coming soon.