Friday, July 11, 2014

Aging and Wisdom

This month I turn 60. It is a funny age to be. Even ten years ago it seemed to me that 60 was really old. However, here it is and I don't feel a lot different. Okay, maybe a little slower or a little more tired, but my mind isn't much different. In fact, in my mind I'm closer to 28 years old. I have no idea why that age is stuck in my mind but it is.

Everyone has heard that with age comes wisdom. I would modify that to say, for me, with age comes acceptance. Perhaps that is a kind of wisdom.  Here is my top five list of acceptances:

I accept that:
  1. I have significantly less control over what happens in the world than I thought I did at sixteen. In fact, I think control is not as cool as everyone makes it out to be.
  2. My weight will never again be 120 lbs and to stop setting that as a reasonable goal.
  3. I have run out of time to be a great dancer, actress, and/or musician/songwriter. These were all dreams of mine, as well as being a writer. Some time ago (probably around that magical age of 28) I decided that my pursuit of those things in my youth had to remain as youthful memories. In the end, I only had the energy and passion to pursue one consistently--writing.
  4. Life is all about embracing change. Things in my life have changed multiple times--homes, careers, love, combinations of friends and relatives.  It is hard to let go, but the changes always brought great blessings.
  5. I can always learn something new. Life is learning and I will continue to learn until I die, and maybe even after--who knows?

In celebration of my 60th birthday, I'm giving away a free fiction ebook of your choice. How do you get one? Look at the descriptions linked below, then fill out the form and click the SUBMIT button.  Your book in the right format will be sent within 24 hours. Please only one book per individual.

Healing Notes
Chameleon: The Awakening
Chameleon: The Choosing

Monday, June 16, 2014

A Tribute to My Father

I was blessed to be able to spend yesterday with my father and mother. Lately my gift to them on special days, and their gift to me, is me going to their house and bringing a meal to share. It's so much nicer than going out with all the other people in a noisy restaurant or competing with traffic. By going to their house and bringing a meal we can sit down together in a quiet environment and actually visit for several hours with each other. I can catch up with their lives and really feel like we took time to connect in a genuine way.

My father is in his 80's. Though his body doesn't do all the things it used to do, his mind is still sharp and that has always been the thing I loved about him most. He has been integral to my formation as a woman, a thinker, a philosopher, a political and religious being. It's been an interesting journey with me believing everything he believed as a child, then some separation of beliefs as a young adult, and then him coming around to agree with some of my beliefs as an adult. We don't always agree, but we mostly do.

Because my father is such a wonderful man, I believe it helped to form my good opinion of men in general. It made me feel comfortable around men as friends and helped me to be an equal in my career and in my marriage. I believe that girls and young women can really benefit from a consistent, loving male figure in their life--whether that is a father, brother, uncle or whoever. I'm just very glad I had a father through all of it. He and my mother were there at my birth, all birthdays, graduations, hospitals, good and bad dates, marriage, divorce, marriage again. With nine children, I'm still in awe that they had time for each of us--enough time so that we each knew we were loved for exactly who we are not some preconceived notion of who we should be.

Dad is not perfect, and the older we both get the more we realize how imperfect we both are. But that makes me love him all the more. I've learned so much about how to age even when the body is fighting; and how to act even when life isn't perfect. I've learned how to persevere in sadness and how to celebrate in good times. I've learned how to overcome my shortcomings and not beat myself up about them all the time. This is because he (and my mother) has modeled this.

Though I didn't always understand how or why he could forgive certain actions from each of my siblings, the fact that he could told me that my transgressions could be forgiven too. I know how rare it is to have a parent (and I have two of them) who loves you no matter what--who see the best in you--even when you do stupid things.

Thanks Dad!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Maya Angelou - You will be sorely missed

Though I often read poetry, it is not often I remember the poet so vividly. I DO remember Maya Angelou. Her poetry always spoke to me. She spoke of reality--of being poor, of standing on your own two feet, of moving forward through adversity, of survival and sometimes of triump--but mostly survival.

Perhaps it was because she was born Marguerite. My given name, Marguerita, was also based on on a Marguerite--my father's sister who died when he was young. Like a number of women, she changed her name later in life to reflect who she was and who she wanted to be. IN many ways authors do that when they take a pen name. Performers do that when they take on a professional name. Maya Angelou did the same.

Though she was black, and a civil rights activist, Maya Angelou often crossed the black-white boundaries in her life. I believe her poetry and her autobiographies often strive to show that we are more alike than different. I am fortunate that I grew up in an integrated neighborhood. I didn't realize there was prejudice in the world until we moved from that neighborhood into one where my high school had only one black family. It is amazing to me that someone who has survived the experiences of being poor and black, assaults, single motherhood, and prejudice could still have optimism and hope. Yet, when I read much of her poetry I think she did and made it her mission to let people know things could be different if they would try.

I distinctly remember her reading her poem “On the Pulse of Morning,” at the swearing-in of President Bill Clinton. Though she was black and he was white, they had both grown up poor in Arkansas. There was an affinity--an understanding--in how that shapes a person.

Please read the entire poem. It is still today a call for leadership, a call for understanding, a call for knowing where each of us fits in the wider web of life. 

My favorite stanza, however is this:

But today, the Rock cries out to us, clearly, forcefully,
Come, you may stand upon my
Back and face your distant destiny,
But seek no haven in my shadow.

"But seek no haven in my shadow." What a line. An offer to lift one up but recognize the next step--the flight--to choose what to do and how to do it is theirs to take.

As each of us steps forward and faces our destiny, tries to make the world a better place, rejects prejudice and champions diversity we give thanks to Maya Angelou and others like her.

Godspeed. I will miss you.