Sunday, June 9, 2013

"Put Your Lights On"

I know that one huge blessing I have is that I have many very good friends. 

For most of my life I did this thing where when I would run in to a person who I had been around only a few times I would reintroduce myself because I figured they would not remember me. I thought that I was that insignificant. Usually, that person would reply, "Of course, I know who you are, Paula."A jab of surprise would register inside my heart.

It was me who did not know who I was.

My dear friend who died in February was that way too. She did not see her incredibleness.
My mother was that way, and so was my grandmother. And as a school teacher I would often marvel at  the low self-esteem that my funny, bright, talented and lovable students carried inside of themselves.

I think the saddest thing is that so many of us do not  love ourselves. We go through life thinking that there is something we must yet do to make the mark. When all we had to do was just be us.
I mean really be who we are and allow that to shine.

I have been crying a lot over the past week. My tears are not only tears of sadness but tears of such huge gratitude for the love I have known in my life. And for the gratitude that I am finally beginning to take care of myself and to honor myself as a lovable person.

It used to surprise me when I realized that someone liked me.  My tears also flow for the young and very insecure woman I was in my twenties and thirties and even my forties. I tried so hard to do it all right.

I have been having a very hard time over the past couple of years. The ground on which on depended has shifted dramatically, and I see open holes in many places. It is my challenge to fill those holes with 

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Each time another problem has come down in the past two years I first get shocked. Then I move to action. While my logical brain calculates, rage, despair, fear and sadness fill  the cracks of my breaking heart.

I am not particularly pleasant to be around unless I am putting on my bravado show. My bravado makes a sound that could be either laughing maniacally or  chanted keening. My bravado dances to Tom Petty's "Refugee" and Bette Midler's "Beast of Burden." 

Grace comes when the tears begin to fall.

I pull myself up. I line my eyes blue and wear orange and green.

I lift heavy weights and dig in the soil without wearing gloves.

I give thanks for every possible thing I can think of like having indoor plumbing and eyes that see.

Friends and Music  save me from a bitterness that could destroy me if I don't remain vigilant.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Getting Old with "Lady Marmalade"

Yeah, I sit here on this morning in late May. The huge oaks in our backyard are dappled with  early morning light. I write as I listen to Dylan. I have had a huge  crush on that man since I was fourteen. Believe it was "Rainy Day Women" that did it for me.

That song for my young uncertain mind conveyed an exciting mix of angst and danger.

Age. Our guy Dylan is now seventy-two. Only twenty years ago  seventy-two conjured up  pictures of recliners and pill bottles. Yet, he still rocks. May I too rock at seventy-two?

Aging is happening to the Forever Young set.  Friends are dying. People we love including maybe our own selves are getting scary diagnoses. What once was a month is now a week.
And a day is a mere  piss in the wind.

Unsettling for sure. I stay busy as if in doing so I can keep  the Grim Reaper from laughing too hard.

Got another cancer scare this week. I chose not to talk about it. No amount of talking does a damned bit of good. Diagnosed with breast cancer last March did not scare me at the time. I was too busy staying in action researching , and then jumping through the hoops of surgery and radiation.

It was only about six months later that I admitted to myself that I was scared shitless. Not so much about dying, but scared about dying feeling that I have not totally lived.

And that is the $64,000 question. How do I know the answer to that? Perhaps I think too much- always been accused of that. It is, however, my nature to ponder. Been that way since I was a little girl.

My aunt once said it was my "artistic temperament" whatever that means. A doc said it was OCD. Well, whatever the fuck it is, it is who I am. And inherent in those very qualities are my gifts- double-edged though they may be.

I think of two  friends who passed away this year. My darling girlfriend died in February. Our dear buddy with the dancing eyes died on Wednesday. Too young to die?  Fifty-nine and sixty-eight respectively.

See, we think that is young, but it is not. As my deceased friend Sue wrote to me in an email a few years ago:

"This is it Paula and I am making great efforts to accept my life as a miracle...what is the 
alternative? "

Yesterday was the day that I knew my biopsy results might be available. I was so scared that I felt slippery in my gut.  While doing kitchen chores,  "Jackson" played on my iPod dock, and before I knew it I was dancing and singing  to both June and Johnny's parts.

Next, I dialed up Patti Labelle's "Lady Marmalade" and I danced hard. As I did my inner self  burst out  and smothered my fear.

Dancing Paula  was vital, sensuous, sexy and young because that is what is in her soul - the part she finds it easy to forget too often these days.

I made the call to Moffitt. I went about my business with a steady hand as I awaited a call back from pathology.

Turns out results are benign.

Things fall apart. They fall together again. They fall apart again. They.....

And in between all of that, we must dance.

Today is my Grace.

Tomorrow I dance no matter what happens.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Deep Purple Dreams

your death is still an abstraction
in my mind

I saw the online obituary
last night
a picture of you so gleeful
with one of your hat creations atop  your head

I said to myself, "Why that is Sue!"
and then I re-remembered that the photograph
accompanied your obituary

I know nothing.
nothing, nothing, nothing
and I have known I know nothing for many years now

but a primal place inside of me
knows that where you are is good
and soft and kind and pretty

I KNOW that.
and this knowledge is visceral not cerebral
I'm going with visceral more and more these days


stuff was backward Sunday afternoon
my bike was that is

at 2:16  I got on my new green bike
and the seat felt too high
and when I tried to pedal, it was too hard
my knees just up and hit the handlebars

I lay the bike on the front lawn
and as I did I remembered how I used to do that all the time
when i was a kid- back in the day when a girl
could leave her bike lying in the front yard
with no worry that someone  might take it

I went inside and Dan comes out, looks at the bike
and says, "Lucy, you have the wheel all turned around."

and gosh, I did
and then I got on the bike and I pedaled west
to meet my friend for a walk
relieved I was as I pedaled toward my friend's house

maybe an hour later I was back on the bike
the short walk with my friend  over
and my phone buzzed in the pocket of my  shorts

I did not answer it since I was just a block from home
but I knew what the call was
somewhere between my backward bike problem
and my walk underneath the glorious February sky
you left

all that morning I had been playing
top Billboards from 1963
and for the past few days since you died
these words keep coming across my mind

sure is a pretty song, isn't it?
it was one of those that hung in the back row of my memory
like a comfy sweater I had long forgotten
 sure am glad I found it again

HERE  are the lyrics if you want to sing along. Singing always makes me feel good. 


"Deep Purple"

When the deep purple falls over sleepy garden walls
And the stars begin to twinkle in the night
In the mist of a memory you wander on back to me
Breathing my name with a sigh
In the still of the night once again I hold you tight
Though you're gone, your love lives on when moonlight beams
And as long as my heart will beat, sweet lover we'll always meet
Here in my deep purple dreams
Here in my deep purple dreams
When the deep purple falls over sleepy garden walls
And the stars begin to twinkle in the night
In the mist of a memory you wander back to me
Breathing my name with a sigh
In the still of the night once again I hold you tight
Though you're gone, your love lives on when moonlight beams
And as long as my heart will beat, sweet lover we'll always meet
Here in my deep purple dreams
And as long as my heart will beat, sweet lover we'll always meet
Here in my deep purple dreams

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

The Gift of the Mundane

When I was thirty-nine, my mother died. This was my first experience with a death that was close.
It was my first experience with watching a person decline and die.

I suffered protracted grief that went on for years. I became angrier, more driven, and much less spontaneous.

Now at nearly sixty-two loss comes knocking more and more often. No amount of barricading will keep it away.

Today I got up and got going. I notice that I welcome my daily chores more and more the older I get.
They serve as a roadmap for my day.

I have come to be grateful for structure. When I was younger, I spend much energy rebelling against it. I guess I feared being swallowed by routine.

As today wore on, I began to feel a sensation as though I were trying to walk through a wall of water.
My chores became more difficult. My body felt unbelievably spent.

I knew I must rest. The best relaxation for me is to lie flat on my back on the floor and stare at the ceiling. The hard surface of the floor serves to ground  me.

If I get lucky, one of my feline familiars rubs its face against mine or bumps its body against me tickling my soul just a tad and reminding me how much delight life still offers.

Five minutes flat on the floor helps to restore me.

I get up and do the next thing on the list.

I have learned to lower my expectations for my day as I age.

Grieving forces that on me.

Moving slowly but steadily has its own rewards.

It allows me to take in the small, sweet bits of my day.

Monday, February 4, 2013

My Love Song to Sue

You were a bit of  a sprite
in those last days.
I lay  at the end of your bed,
and I asked if you knew how much I loved you.

And you said you wanted me to tell you how much.
So I told you that if I were to paint a picture of my love
it would be of a place where the sky is always violet
and proud blue spruces stand tall.

Later I made reference to a Downton Abbey  plot detail
you had not yet watched. You looked me in the eye and said, "Busted!
We giggled a bit. Then you let out a Sueism.
"If I have to die, I will die funny".

Jolly times we surely shared.
We had a little ritual for a spell there in the '90's
in which we would greet one another
by breaking into a silly dance: we never needed music to dance.

Hard times we shared too.
Walks and talks in which tears
and confidences were exchanged.
You were my for better or for worse friend.

You walked your talk, my girl.
And I adored you for that.
You could tune an engine and wield a hack saw
as well as the next guy. And I was in awe of that.

Well, okay there.
You go girl; you go funny
'cause funny is good.
 Zip-A- Dee-Doo- Dah- lady- friend- of -mine

For every dance step I take, I'll do one for you.
For each beach day I have, I'll send you a sun ray.
But if you were to ask me, my sweet girl,
more than dying funny, you died strong.

There will come a day when the skies
will open to hues of purple and aqua and
orange and red.
And we all who loved you shall cast our eyes upward.

If we look real hard, we shall see
a chariot drawing itself across the heavens.
A regal woman rests upon a golden chair.
And her name is Sue, Queen of Serendipity.

                                                     Sue and Paula August, 2012
Weeki Wachee River

Sue wheeling me through Lettuce Lake Park
Summer, 2011
Our yard sale at Sue's house

Playing Dress-up sometime in the 80's

At twenty-eight years old when I first met her.

Dancing Crazy

Paula, Sue and June
"Bad Taste In Outer Space"