The Unforgiven & Unforgotten

I’ve been thinking a lot about forgiveness lately. We’ve all been hurt. We’ve all felt wronged or betrayed by someone. We may have even done some pretty hurtful things to others, *intentionally or not, ourselves. We may even have felt our hurtful actions were completely justified at the time.

We also know when we feel honestly and deeply sorry for the pain we may have brought into someone else’s life and how hard it is to approach them and ask them to forgive us. To admit we made a mistake, to admit we did something very wrong and regret it, to admit we are not perfect, to say, “I’m sorry. Will you forgive me?” is not easy. It takes a certain level of bravery because we are showing a weakness.

To forgive also takes great strength. It’s also the first step towards rebuilding trust in whatever form of relationship you have with that person be it parent-child, between siblings, close friends, or lovers. Trust is probably one of the most fragile elements of a relationship. If you can’t trust a person, you can’t grow to love them. You lose the trust, everything else starts falling to pieces. In some cases, once that trust is gone – there’s no getting it back. We all have our standards of what is a forgivable act against us is and what isn’t. For me, that line is cheating and abuse. In other cases, there’s still hope. It’s all very personal based on what we’ve experienced and felt before.

It gets pretty tricky while you’re stuck in the middle. You’re confused. You’re still hurting. You love them, but you hate what they’ve done. You may even desperately want to forgive them – but – trust. Can you trust them? Can you believe them when they say they’re sorry and won’t do it again? Can you rise above that doubt and fear and give them a second chance? Or, maybe it’s time to move on. Lesson learned.

I’ve had to walk away from a couple of relationship where not only was an honest apology never given, but the situations would not allow me to forgive with equal honesty. Trust was completely shattered beyond repair. However – even if forgiveness will never be in the picture, I’ve taken it upon myself to be GRATEFUL for that experience. What did I learn about myself because of it? What was I looking for in the relationship? What did I gain from it that I can now use for future relationships? There is my gratitude and that is how I put that pain behind me.

Instead of dwelling and asking myself over and over again ‘Why?’, beating my self-worth into the ground and putting the blame on something I did, I took a step back and said, “Wait just a  minute here.” This happened for a reason. I may never know that reason and that’s fine, but what I do know is I’ve Learned Something Important! Instead of the Blame Game it turned into something like, “Thank you for being such an asshole and screwing me over. I’ve learned from you. You taught me what I DON’T want! And, I am genuinely thankful.”

Remember how it felt when someone gave you another chance to prove you were truly sorry? Felt good, didn’t it? When it’s your turn to offer that chance to another, will you be strong enough? That’s what forgiveness is all about. It’s that first glimmer of trust coming back. It’s hope. It’s love. It’s not saying what that other person did was right, not at all. It’s saying, “I love you enough to try again, to rebuild, to be the best WE there is, to give US another chance.” If your forgiveness is as genuine as their apology – the trust and love will return. That will take work from both sides, but it can be done.

I don’t believe in “Forgive and Forget”. Sorry, no. I will NOT forget. If I do, I take the risk of repeating that madness over again. Instead, I take the knowledge into the future. Yes, it made me slow to trust every single relationship after, but the reward for applying lessons learned has been so worth it!

No one likes feeling weak and vulnerable. No one likes feeling like they can’t be trusted. No one likes feeling wronged or betrayed.

**I believe we all have the capacity to know when we’ve made a big mistake and when we’ve hurt another. I also believe we all have the power to face the errors of our ways, admit the wrong-doing and apologize with the deepest honesty. That heartfelt apology is the first step.

The second step comes from the act of true forgiveness. Letting go of what was, learning from it, moving forward instead of keeping yourself and the relationship in prison. The one who forgives is the one who holds the key to the jail cell you are both locked inside of.

*Sometimes we may NOT know we’ve hurt someone. Over any given period of time, people can forget aspects of long or varied conversations or get-togethers. We may say or do something in passing that we considered harmless or unimportant, yet a friend may have found it devastating. If we don’t know and they don’t tell, it’s going to be nearly impossible to apologize or forgive on either side.

**Unless you’re a narcissistic-psychopath, of course, then none of this applies to you at all because every bad thing that’s every happened to you is someone else’s fault, never your own. You’re perfect!

I’m Gonna Ride On, Ride On, Ride On…

As I was driving home tonight, glancing in the rear view mirror every now and then as one does – I had a bit of an epiphany. We don’t drive down the highway looking in the rear view mirror all the time. There’s a reason for that. It’s not in the least bit safe. We can see where we’re going briefly, but doing it all the time won’t work. Our main focus needs to be on the vehicles on either side as well as what’s ahead.

That’s how we should also be living life. Yes, check out what’s back there, in the past, every now and then. Remember what you saw, what you did, what you may have learned going through all that, but don’t make it your main focus. What was, was. It’s all behind you.

Pay attention to what’s going on around you in the moment, the present, just like you would the cars around you in traffic. Work with that, do what you need to do in the now to make it through one block, one mile at a time.

Look ahead. Pay attention to what’s coming up and how you can get there in the most efficient, safest way possible. Adjust your speed and prepare to change your route – detours happen – but that’s all they are. If you are truly intent on getting to your destination, a detour is only a temporary slowing down of the traffic, annoying, but in the grand scheme of the journey, a minor incident. It’s not the end of the journey. Work with it – do what you have to do, but there’s no reason to pull over and stop because of one setback.

Life is full of detours. Sometimes traffic barely moves at all and we feel like we’re going nowhere fast. It’s maddening.  We have to adjust and change our plans. Sometimes it takes a lot longer to get there than we hoped, but as long as we look ahead, focus on the destination not the rear view mirror, we’ll get there. We’ll find our way eventually. No one has been stuck in traffic so long that they’ve died – well, not that I know of anyway. Eventually, things get moving again and we can get on our way.

I’ve been a published author since 2006. I’m still not doing it fulltime. I’m still not even close to making a living at it, but I’m still behind the wheel and on the road. Sometimes it feels like I’m getting nowhere and I wonder why I ever even started up the car to begin with. There are times I feel like shutting off the engine and chucking the keys into a fast-moving river.

But then, I take a glance in the rear view mirror and realize how far I’ve come in the past dozen years. I look around me at the wonderful friends and mentors I’ve made in the writing business. I’ve grown. I’ve hit a couple of detours and a pot hole or two, but I keep on going. The road still stretches out in front of me and my journey isn’t even close to being over with yet.

No matter what your dream is, just keep your eyes focused on that road ahead. You’ve already made it through some traffic jams and detours. They are done and over with and there’s no sense in dwelling on them anymore. You’ll get through any of the others that are headed your way, too, I guarantee.

Write on! Or in this case, Ride on!

Hot Off The Press Bride

It’s been a busy, busy week here.

Jim’s mom from Texas arrived Tuesday night. Wednesday we went to Owego, NY (Voted The Coolest Small Town In America in 2009 by Arthur Frommer’s Budget Travel Magazine) and walked around the shops and along the river walk. Followed by lunch at my parent’s house just outside of the small town of Berkshire, where I grew up. I was sure to take her back home via the back roads where the rolling hills packed with trees and acres upon acres of field corn amazed and delighted her.

Thursday we headed up to Cornell University where I gave her a quick tour of central campus and stopped in to visit some of my co-workers for a few minutes at Olin Library. We made a pass through Wee Stinky Glen, the Cornell Store, and Sage Chapel. Neither one of us was up to climbing the spiral steps up to the top of McGraw Tower. For dinner we took her down to Beeman’s in Sayre, PA – just so she could say she’d been to Pennsylvania, too while she was up here.

Friday morning was pretty quiet and relaxing. I headed down to Waverly that afternoon to get some things I’d ordered for Saturday. Getting home, I packed up an overnight bag, and what few things I needed, gave Jim a kiss, and had to smile when he kind of pouted and said, “I don’t want you to go.” It was so sweet.

Saturday, of course, was the BIG DAY! That’s right, THAT Big Day! After meeting in the virtual world of Second Life in January 2012 and living together since January 2013, Jim and I finally made it official and got married FOR REALS! Things didn’t go exactly as planned, but darn close and I’m not going to let those few things that weren’t perfect bother me. I’ve said from the start that the only thing that really mattered at the end of the day was that we were married, everything else was just icing. The weather cooperated, no family feuds broke out, no one drown in the pond, and the icing on the cake was really quite delicious to boot!

GRD_9363

The Newlyweds!

 

While all these shenanigans were going on (literally) my newest book, NO REST FOR THE WICKED was released on Amazon! I’d approved the final proof the day before, kinda half hoping it would be ready on the wedding day, but in all the mayhem I quickly forgot about it.

Today, now that we’re home again for a bit before seeing my new Mother-in-Law off at the airport tpmorrow, wishing her as easy a trip home as she had coming up here, and heading off on our honeymoon later that afternoon, I finally checked my email after over 24 hours. And there was the announcement.

So, lots of things to be happy about here. Head on over to Amazon, buy a copy of the book, and make this Hot Off The Press Bride even happier than she already is.

No Rest For The Wicked

LATEST RELEASE!!!!!

Lumbering On Morris Mountain

T-minus 3 weeks until wedding day. As I’ve been doing about every other weekend for the past few months, I loaded the car up yesterday afternoon with some items for said wedding day, in this case soft and adult beverages, and headed up to Morris Mountain where the nuptials and merriment will be taking places. It seemed a harmless enough mission, but boy, am I sore this morning.

As I pulled into view of the house, I saw my 73-year-old father over at the pavilion working on something. I decided I’d go say hello and see what he was up to before heading inside with the drinks and to visit with mom.

Though he complains a lot about having so much to do, I don’t think Dad’s really happy unless he has a project going on. This weekend he decided to tackle constructing and hanging some folding wooden shades for the pavilion. Keep in mind that when Dad builds a thing he BUILDS! a thing. It’s not going to fall apart. That thing is going to be there for a very long time. He built the house they live in over the course of about five years while also working full-time. It’s not a little house. It’s three stories (four if you count the full basement) with a huge cathedral ceiling and wrap-around front decks on two levels. So, no small task. He also built the pavilion in which he was working yesterday and the old and new outhouses nearby. I clearly remember him building the old one because I helped draw out and cut the crescent shape on the door. It’s what they used while constructing the house and it’s still there all these many moons later.

As a kid I helped dad out with his projects as often as I could. I really enjoyed learning how to use a T-square, a plumb-bob, a line level, a hammer, skill saw, and any other tools needed for construction. I pounded a whole lot of nails into subflooring when he added on to our house around 1975. I learned about building a cinderblock wall and how to lay a brick sidewalk. One weekend I helped him put up the new stovepipe for the coal stove while standing on the metal roof of the house. I was 16.

Last year, he installed a deck floor on the pavilion to replace the old crushed stone one and started work on the new outhouse. This year, he finished the outhouse which puts the bathroom in my house nearly to shame! He’s also working on building a trellis for the wedding and, now, these folding blinds.

So, I head over to see how it’s going. He’s having a hard time of it. The wood is heavy and awkward and he can’t balance things or line things up like he wants alone so I ask ever so casually, “Need some help?” I am immediately put to work holding up this, moving that, lifting this into place, lining up this other thing, and climbing up and down on the picnic table numerous times so I could reach and balance pieces in place. The project was not cooperating and really is a three man job, not one 73-year-old-man and one fifty-year-old female desk jockey wearing cotton capris and sandals work.

While dad went to look for another piece of rope in the cellar to help with hoisting and holding things into place, I popped upstairs to visit with Mom ever so briefly. But, my respite was brief and  doing as promised, I went back out to help once I saw Dad back at it, new length of rope in hand. Mom decided she’d come out and help, too.

Finally, three hours after I pulled innocently into the driveway, we got the first shade satisfactorily into place and called it a night. No, it was not the afternoon I had envisioned at all.

Despite having a very sore right shoulder from standing on a picnic table balancing two wood panels in place so Dad could get the hinges screwed in and my legs and arms aching a bit more than usual, I actually enjoyed the work.

It’s been a long time since I’ve gotten to help my dad build anything. He can still work circle around me and I think it’s time to pass the torch to the next generation. Therefore, this coming week, my 25-year-old son and a friend of his are going to go help Grampa Morris finish up this particular project.

Photo credit: www.gettyimages.co.uk

Wedding Light Blues

I’m getting re-married in six weeks. I can’t believe how fast the time has flown since we were walking the quaint, sandy streets and popping into all the wonderful little shops of Old Mesilla, NM looking at pretty things and little did I know at the time, rings, but flown it has! They say time flies when you’re having fun, or in a coma – or in this case, planning a wedding.

One of the first questions all my gal pals asked was what the colors were going to be. You see, for a lot of women colors are everything. What kind of car are you getting? Oh, I don’t know, as long as it’s red. What style curtains are you thinking to buy? Oh, I don’t know, as long as they’re green. The first time around my wedding colors were black, red, and white.

This time it’s light blue and white with touches of yellow. Quite the contrast! And no white wedding gown for me! I always loved the light blue dress my mom wore for her wedding to Dad and that was really my biggest inspiration to wear the same, even as far as the style of dress goes.  My groom is going for a black tux with silver\gray vest and tie.

We’re doing all the decorating and food prep pretty much ourselves. I never thought finding light blue and white decorations would prove as challenging as it has. People and circumstances keep trying to sneak in bits of light teal instead of blue. While talking to the florist the first time, she mentioned dark blues and purple. I’m like, “No, LIGHT blue.” No dark blue. No purple.

I’m a lot more laid back and willing to accept variations and compromises than I was for that first wedding. Don’t read that as ‘anything goes’, mind you! This has surprised a few people, the women especially.

Look, I’ve done this before. In the grand scheme of things, the colors REALLY don’t matter that much. Of course, I’d love everything to match and be exactly like I’ve been picturing in my head for all these months, but honestly – it doesn’t matter and it’s not going to happen. Some brides-to-be would have insisted that their groom’s tux accessories perfectly match the dress. Why? That’s what he wants to wear and that’s what he’s comfortable in. Heck, my first notion didn’t even involve him wearing a tuxedo! That was his idea! And, the gray will look amazing, too. It’ll match the plates that we couldn’t find in light blue! It will also go with the flower accents on the girls light (not blue) teal dresses! Darn that pesky teal!

Speaking of dresses… nope. They aren’t even close to that late 50’s-early 60’s style I’ll be wearing though that was the initial plan. They are very pretty dresses and my daughter says hers is super comfortable. Matching shoes? Forget about it! She’s wearing white flip-flops. I have no idea what my Maid of Honor is wearing on her feet, nor do I care. I told her to be comfortable. Although my poor feet are going to be crammed into these cute little shoes that are about ½ size too narrow, I will very likely be putting on some comfy sandals after the fact.

One friend made the comment that a wedding is all about the bride. No. It’s not. A wedding, a marriage, is about two people who want to spend the rest of their lives together and to share and celebrate that decision with their family and friends. It’s not ME DAY! It’s not insisting-on-your-own-way Bridezilla Day. It’s about TWO people, two lives. Just like life in general, it’s about compromises and going with the flow. It’s about NOT freaking out if the color of your dress does not EXACTLY match the color of your shoes. This way of thinking has made the planning so much easier than the first. I’m older now, maybe a little wiser, maybe a little less selfish and starry-eyed.

Just like a marriage, wedding planning has a lot to do with trust. I refuse to be a control freak (though, yes, there are a couple of things I am being insistent on) and I refuse to stress over issues that, at the end of the day, really won’t matter. I’m trusting my dressmaker, the florist, and the woman decorating the cake to understand and create using the guidelines and pictures we’ve discussed. I’m trusting we’ll have music of some sort though the fine details of that haven’t been worked out entirely yet. I’m trusting my daughter with my hair and make-up. I am trusting a lot of different people to do a lot of different things with the attitude that the only real thing that matters at the end of that day is that I am married to man who has made me believe in (and trust in) love and happily ever afters again.

I’m not a religious person, but the sooner people out there learn and accept that there is wisdom behind 1 Corinthians 13:4-7, the better off they’ll be, not just in our marriages, but in our ever day lives with family members and friends.

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”

In just over six weeks I’ll probably be an emotional basket case, but trust me when I say I’m far more worried about how I’m going to NOT bawl through the entire ceremony than how the heck did MR. TEAL become so much a part of the light blue and white with touches of yellow color scheme.

She’s Not The Nanny, She’s My Sister.

I had no idea I had something so unique in common with Fran Drescher. Or, maybe, in this day and age it’s not so unique as I once thought it was.

I was watching ‘Oprah, Where Are They Now?’ a little while ago and Fran was her guest. I was shocked when I learned that Fran had once been married to a man who came out first, as bi-sexual, and then as gay a short time later. Not only that, but when Oprah asked her about their current relationship compared to their married life, Fran pretty much echoed what I had thought and continue to think to this day.

Fran stated she and her husband had a very active and satisfying sex life. I can relate to that. My ex and I had great sex and were very happily married. We have two wonderful kids. I must have been doing something right, huh? I can’t pinpoint any precise moment or event and I can’t say, because I don’t know, what inspired my ex to step out of the closet. I just know that one day all was right with the world and the next, everything had changed – sort of.

There was one thing that has not changed though we’ve been apart for ten years and divorced for three. We still love, respect and emotionally support each other enormously! I must confess that there was a period of time that I felt very hurt and lied to. How could he NOT tell me? I was very angry for much longer than I cared to admit to anyone, even myself. It wasn’t like we’d never talked about our previous relationships. He had simply omitted a few key details. But, I loved him then as I do now. I wanted a life with him and our kids. Considering the nature of the world and its less than accepting qualities for people who are bi, gay or transgendered, what he did made perfect sense. He wanted a wife and children. He wanted to be ‘normal’. He wanted to be loved and accepted by his own family.

As the years went by and we worked together to keep our marriage and family intact, with some slight variations on things, it slowly became clear it simply was not working as we hoped. We still loved each other, but it took a lot for us to admit to each other and ourselves, that neither of us was really happy with the current arrangement. We had been sleeping in separate bedrooms for a while by then, making up once excuse or another to family and friends, including the kids. Living together and living this lie day in and day out, had become exhausting. As much as it hurt, we knew continuing this lifestyle was doing more harm than good to the friendship we still both desperately wanted to keep.

Eventually it came to pass that he moved out and got a house about ten miles away. As he was just outside the school system the kids attended, they lived with me and went to visit him as often as they liked. The rest is pretty much your standard story of separation. I still had bouts of anger. I still felt cheated of the fairy tale life I thought I was getting on our wedding day. I still cried into my beer and over spilt milk. And though every shadow of hope that I’d once had that we could make it work had been obliterated by the bright light of truth, I still loved him. And, I knew he still loved me.

We still faced life together. If there was a problem with the kids, we dealt with it as a couple. We went to school functions as a family. We spent Christmas mornings together as his place, as a family. When our son went off to college, we all went together to see him off. It was never a burden to work or be together because despite our differences, we had vowed to each other to be there for our kids and to both be parents to those kids. No one was to ever feel like a single parent, ever! We owed our kids that. And, in some odd way we have maintained our marriage vows to always continue to love and honor each other as people, to be there for each other, for better for worse, for richer and for poorer, in sickness and in health. It took living apart to grow together as friends. As far as I’m concerned, that’s a lot more important than staying married for the sake of appearances.

My ex-husband is truly one of my dearest and best friends in the whole world. I feel like one of the most blessed people in the world and one of the luckiest, too. We may not have beat the divorced statistics, but I believe we have beat the odds in another way that is far more important. We entered the marriage with love. We left the marriage with love. Because of that, we’ve both been able to continue our lives in ways that have brought us greater happiness and a truer, deeper understanding of what it means to love someone unconditionally.

It was a very hard life lesson. I’ve since left the hurt and anger behind me. In doing so, I’ve been able to embrace completely the new and wonderful life (and man) I now have and to accept people much more easily for who they are. If your heart is full of love and acceptance, there just isn’t any room for hatred and bigotry.

As for Fran Drescher, she’s no longer The Nanny. She’s now become a kindred spirit and an emotional sister. How cool is that?

Pass The Toilet Paper, Please.

They say the secret to living a happy life is surrounding yourself with the people and things that bring you joy. That’s not always as easy as it sounds and along the way you’re likely to lose a lot of people you once called ‘friend’.  We all know it only feels good when you are the one doing the dumping. Being the Dumper is so much more liberating than being the Dumpee.

As Dumper, I’ve known the reasons behind me decisions to rid someone or something from my life. If the Dump involved a person, I’ve tried to have the courtesy to explain to that person why. They may not have understood or agreed with my reasons but I have a clear conscience that I did my best to give them answers. As Dumpee I’ve not been so fortunate. There are a lot of unanswered questions in my mind about the reasons things went the way they did in some of my relationships. Learning to live with those questions hasn’t always been easy and in at least one case, I am still very confused about the whys. 

Maybe those involved feel that knowing the truth would hurt a whole lot more than having so many questions hanging in the air. Maybe they are ashamed of their reasons for dumping me. Maybe they simply don’t care. That’s what hurts the most, that and having it all happen so quickly and out of the blue.  You’re best buds for years and years then suddenly BAM! they won’t even speak to you or answer an email. They are just gone. If there had been the tiniest of red flags that things were in jeopardy, maybe there could be some sort of understanding but there wasn’t. It simply ended.

I’ve done some scrying in my day, read a few Tarot cards and rune stones but I’ll be damned if I’m a mind reader and I’m trying very hard not to assume what other people think because chances are pretty high I’d be wrong.  Yeah, being the Dumpee really sucks.

On the other hand, I try to imagine their reasons and see it as them letting go of something that no longer brought them any joy. I hate to think I have brought someone such misery as they’d quit speaking to me but maybe I have.  I want my friends to be happy even if in a couple of cases I’m not convinced these people have a clue what that means.  

All this hasn’t prevented me from being happy. These past couple years have been some of the happiest ones of my life. If not being able to share that happiness with a person or two is the price I have to pay, then it’s worth it. I am surrounding myself with the people and things that bring me joy and I will continue to do so even if it means I am the Dumper or the Dumpee.  I can’t be part of everyone’s life no matter how much of a shared history we may have. I do miss those people and the idea of growing old with them in some capacity. But, life is too short to dwell on what was and has been lost. I sincerely hope that those that have dumped me are doing the same thing – following and finding their bliss.  

In the end, the best thing to do for yourselves is use that little extra bit of TP you have, give your hands a good hard scrubbing and leave the bathroom and the waste behind. If you really needed that poo in your life it wouldn’t have left you, would it?

The Secret To Life Is…

There’s a hash-tag thingy over on Twitter: #TheSecretToLifeIs I added my two cents to which I will tell you my contribution to at the end of this post.

My good friend Lily came over this past Saturday. I don’t get to see her and her husband Pete as much as I’d like. They are one of my most favorite couples. Of all the people I’ve known for more than twenty years, Lily is the one friend that I actually see the most. Maybe it’s because she doesn’t have Facebook. We can’t stay caught up on each other that way. It’s truly a blessing in disguise. We get REAL face time, sitting at the kitchen table noshing on homemade salsa & guacamole with chips and hot tea. It’s always ALWAYS a pleasure to spend time with her. Pity it only happens a few times a year.

We talk about a lot of things, Lily and I – pets, politics, religion, hobbies, work, family and etc. The topic of belief came up this time around. We share a very common belief system, it seems. That’s cool. I don’t find a lot of people that seem to get “God” along the same lines as I do. I’ve truly run the gammut when it comes to religion. I’ve been a Born Again Christian & a Satanist. I’ve been a Pagan & Agnostic. Today I classify myself as Gnostic which would take reams to explain so I will  merely suggest you take a gander over on that link to save me a whole lot of typing time & space.

When I was Christian – boy howdy was I ever Christian – I spent a lot of time wearing crosses and praying in churches and reading the Bible and singing worship songs. When I think back on those times I find it really hard to remember actually BELIEVING in what I was doing. I suppose I must have but somewhere in there I never had that JOY I’d heard so much about. I think deep inside though I simply felt those things: the crosses, the prayer, the Scripture – were just that… things. Maybe I was too young & inexperienced in life to grasp it all.

Let’s make it clear that the Satanic portion of my spiritual journey was very short lived. It was damn scary. You really don’t want t go there kids. ‘Nuff said.

I entered my Pagan path after that. I’d always been fascinated by witches and the like. I did my High School term paper on the different theories behind what had happened at Salem. I’m even a descendant of Rebecca Nurse. She’s like my 7th great grand aunt or some such thing. Yeah, the blood is thin but hey, it’s still fun to be related! I looked into Wicca and other variations of Paganism. None of them truly fit me so I ended up making my own version. It felt right at the time – sorta. But as with the Christian thing and the Satanic thing – this square peg never fit into that round hole. I couldn’t believe in the “power of crystals’ or any of that other stuff. To me the crystal was just a crystal. It didn’t contain any of its own powers but MAYBE it could be used as a focal point for a person’s own energies – much like the Crucifix I used to wear. Like in so many vampire movies, ya know? You have to BELIEVE in the cross for it to work against the Prince of Darkness.

I resigned myself to being a hermit as far as religion was concerned. Little did I know that even that was leading me somewhere else. I may not be seeing it by its technical origins but the word “Hermit” makes me think of “Hermetic” and/or “Hermes.” A few years ago a friend of mine asked if I’d heard of Hermes Trismegistus. I had to admit ignorance. He’d not really say a whole lot about it just told me to few books I might find interesting to look at. Being the research junkie I am and a big fan of the cross referencing of world theologies, I dove right in. And my keen interest in Gnosticism was born.

In as small a nutshell as I can explain we must go back to the beginning of my post and the Secret of Life. Remember the movie ‘Dumbo’ where he had that little feather held so tightly in his trunk? He believed that only while he held that feather, he’d be able to fly. Turned out that wasn’t the case. You don’t need the Feather. You don’t need that Cross, candle or statue. You don’t need that crystal or pentacle. They are just things of the material world. All you need to find and be with God is right there inside you. That is what Gnosticism has taught me.

And so… The Secret To Life Is You Don’t Need That Feather To Fly.

I Now Pronounce You Hitched!

It took almost 25 years but I’m pretty sure I finally attended a wedding and reception that beat the nads off my own a-way back in 1989.

Picture, if you will, a beautiful summer day in Upstate New York. It’s 11am and you’re in a huge backyard with 4 large tents, the mouth-watering aroma of BBQ chicken and a half a hog smoking waft your way. Casually and colorfully dressed guests are seated on bales of hay. There are a lot of bare feet. The table and chairs are dressed in simple white covers and decorated with clear vases of fresh cut flowers and potted Rosemary plants. Love & Joy are indeed in the air. The celebration is already starting. Of course, Janet the Bride, was radiant. Sam the Groom was handsome. As we sat and waited for the ceremony to begin Jim commented “This crowd is exactly like what I’d picture at a Grateful Dead concert. I’ve never been to one, but this is what I imagine it would be like.” And, he was right. 200+ people all gathered together in peace and love and joy. Wait.. that’s Woodstock,. Either way. You get the idea. And when Reverend Bob pronounced the couple married, I can honestly say that in all the weddings I’ve attended over the years, I’ve never seen a Bride actually JUMP FOR JOY before sealing the deal with a kiss.

Let the party begin.

14 hours, 8 kegs, 12 bottles of champagne and I dunno how many bottles of wine later – the celebrations were still going on. We dragged ourselves away at 1am Sunday morning at which time there were still about 20 people left jamming on guitars around the campfire.

This felt to me like the perfect celebration of Love for these two friends. I felt blessed to be there and part of their special day and night. And it stands in harsh contrast to more than a few other weddings and receptions I’ve been to where the music amounted to a cd player sitting all alone in the corner barely attended to and all was done with restraint and ‘proper’ manners. Some receptions you can hardly wait to get out of. This one, you regretted having to leave.

I’ve lived where I am now (about 1/2 mile from where the wedding took place) since 1995 and only now am I starting to feel like less of an outsider. I’m slow to make friends and slow to get out and about. I’ve always hesitated going to local events for some reason. In the past month I’ve met more people and made more new local friends than I have in the past 20 years of living there. What’s changed? This thing, called Love.

Rog and I went out a fair amount early in our relationship but we lived where he grew up. He knew people. When we moved to a town halfway between our respective home towns, we had to start all over again to get to know our neighbors. Rog was always good at that. I guess I’m just too shy sometimes. I try to be friendly but always feel odd doing it. Once the kids were in school we started to meet some other young parents. Then, sadly, Rog and I went our separate ways and though we have remained Besties! it’s not the same. The kids grew up and school functions ended. Left without anyone to aid me in my socializing, I fell into the life of a homebody. On rare occasions I would go out but it was nearly always awkward and uncomfortable. I couldn’t wait to get home. I constantly wanted to know what time it was.

At Janet and Sam’s reception, I didn’t have a clue what time it was most of the time. When Jim and I finally decided to call it a night, I was shocked when we got to the car and I found out it was 1am. I never felt bored or awkward talking to anyone and I am going to credit my new relationship with Jim for getting me get out there and doing the things I want to do again. By wanting him to feel at home, make new friends and be happy, I am also finding I am feeling more at home, making new friends and being happier, too.

Here’s to Janet and Sam whose weekend of peace, love and joy has surely spilled over not just into my life but into the lives of everyone else who shared it with you. Thank you and may your marriage be blessed and joyful!

 

Strawberry Fields For Father

It was a weekend of firsts – well, A First. After living in the area nearly my entire life, I finally made my way to the Owego Strawberry Festival on Saturday. Was fortunate to get a parking space at the DMV Lot. The biggest reason I’ve never gone to this is I’ve never been with anyone who was in the least bit interested in going. Interested or not, Jim agreed to being dragged about crowded Downtown Owego. Trust me, he needs it to be socialized now and again. He’d be a hermit if I let him. In previous relationships I’ve always been the homebody-hermit half so it’s an adjustment for us both – a good one.

Anywho! The lure of strawberries and live tunes and whatever else they had there pulled us both away from our computers for a few hours and out into the sunshine amongst our fellow humanoids. Was a nice walk about, taking in the numerous tie-dye clothing vendors, jewelry hawkers, canned & baked goodies, arts & crafts to beat the band and oh.. yeah, strawberries. To be honest, had I not KNOWN it was a Strawberry Festival, I – erm – probably won’t have, well, known. I’m gonna guess there were a hundred or so vendors at this annual shindig. I think I saw five or six that were selling strawberry-related foods. Strawberry shortcake was there, of course. Strawberry Lemonade made a couple of appearances. The drink of choice at the two bars within the Festival Zone was – you guessed it, The Strawberry Daiquiri. Was hoping for a Strawberry Funnel Cake or maybe some Strawberry Ice Cream. Didn’t see any. The one place I saw that sold strawberries in the raw, as it were, was loading up their truck getting ready to leave as we walked by at about 4:00 on Saturday. I was hoping to see someone dressed as a giant strawberry making their rounds for silly pictures. Nope. *le sigh* There were a couple of good bands there, though and we enjoyed what we heard of them. Someplace you could get an air boat ride on the river but wasn’t able to really find out where it launched from.

We strolled outta there about five and ended up stopping in Candor at Iron Kettle Farm for strawberries. Was real quiet there – we’ll go back again and subject ourselves to their pumpkin madness in the fall.

Met my dad for breakfast on Sunday and after we’d solved all the world’s problems over coffee, we got onto the subject of local festivals. Owego has strawberries, Marathon has maple syrup, Newark Valley took the apple, heck even lil ol RIchford does a weekend dedicated to the potato. Binghamton has a Fairy Festival. In fact, I saw a few of their folks in Owego handing out fliers. It was REALLY hard to miss the 7 foot tall guy dressed in purple wearing matching purple fairy wings. No, he wasn’t a stilt-walker. Oh, and we can’t leave out the Scarecrow Contest held in Candor at their Fall Festival, laws no! M-O-O-N, that spells Scarecrow! Sadly, my own hometown is without a festival. Maybe Corn. They have a lot of corn out there.

A couple hours later, Dad and I parted company. I love spending time with my Dad. Always have. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve become more and more aware of how blessed I am when it comes to my parents. I truly could not have asked for better people to raise me. Oh, sure, they MAY have had a wild party now and then and they MAY have been such regulars at a local bar that I, at the age of around 12, could go and order a round of drinks for them without the bartender batting an eyelash, but they were always good people and always treated my brother and I fairly. They were encouraging and loving and much to my mother’s dismay – Dad and I were perhaps a bit goofier in public than she would have liked us to be. That was only on vacations, of course *cough* where Dad would apply the ‘We’re never going to see these people again” logic when Mom would strongly suggest he and I calm down. I tried to use this logic on my own kids but they didn’t quite buy into it as much as I did when young.

I’m gonna start working on getting Jim to go for it a bit more… one festival at a time.