Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Chapter 1: Re-introduction

True on multiple levels, right?  That once you stop it's hard to get going again.

"Won't take me long," I confidently announced three months ago, to update this blog.

They were believable promises, even to myself they were, I swear.

I mean, what I have to tell you, it will reach you, it will resonate with someone, I know!  Lesson-worthy, gilded amazing stories woven into the fabric of ordinary days.

Writing has remained somewhat of a hidden pleasure to me, I absolutely can get lost in the tunnel-vision of my passion once I pick it back up again.  Like a guitar you love to play that is propped in the corner... you wait, relishing the moment when you can joyfully indulge in what ignites you.  You savor those moments, and yet you churn out the daily grind of commuting, working, to-do lists, cleaning up garbage strewn across your living room floor from the dogs-gone-wild, you NAME IT, you look up and another season is done.
 It's finding time to get it all out in words, in succession.

It will be my intense joy to share it all, truly, any part of it, with you.

The more time goes, the more details fade of what an impact Jack and Jesus and GRACE have given me every day since August 12, 2014.
 in chapters,  to get reacquainted and not bore you through one never ending narrative.

This post will be titled, "Chapter 1:  Re-introduction."

Thank you for visiting!  My name is Suzanne Sharpe. I'm 48, I identify myself as an ultrarunner and mom, but I am much more than that these days.  

Oh, you have noticed the new last name.  

Yes.  On February 7, 2015 I married Jack Sharpe.

Surprised?  Me too!  I last left you early March 2014, complaining of the pitifully sad pool of men inclined to take me to dinner, and now I have a sweet husband.

It did really sort of happen in a divine intervention type of way, especially since Jack and I met on a Saturday morning Wild Bill trail run in the South Chagrin Reservation, a spot I rarely run, and nearly canceled on attending that morning in April (you remember, at that time I was also bemoaning my lack of motivation for running).  Good thing I didn't cancel.

I will spare you most of the gushy, disgusting details of what happened on that 3 hour run.  The important points to note were simply that I noticed Jack from the first moment, from him standing by his car right before we started, and my hoping he was somehow a new addition to our group.  Indeed, he was!  Brooke brought her friend along, a male, which of course did not sit well with Bill, since he likes to approve the LADIES he runs with, and has no use really for the men.

Anyway, per usual, the ladies (plus Jack and my friend Bob) were placed to take a group photo, so that Wild Bill would have a frozen memory and proof of the love he has gathered through the years, and we went on our way through the trails.

Of course I noticed Jack was good looking.  Of course I noticed how he would lag back with the slower runners and then sprint like a rabbit to the front of the pack, ahead of Bill who'd yell that we weren't racing and what WAS he DOING trying to take the lead?!  Of course I noticed I was nervous when Jack felt compelled to balance-beam a fallen tree over a shale bed fairly far below, so nervous I had to trot on off and not watch, wondering why I would care anyway.  And of course I noticed how Jack kindly held up tree limbs from snapping back at us, and how he held out his hand at the top of a particularly steep climb up rocks.

As I recall, there were a few single ladies running in Bill's group that day, including me.  And yes, Jack was quizzed on his marital status, his opinion of women, and why he divorced, pushed farther by me asking if he was currently in a relationship, and assuring him that if he was gay it was okay (when I so wanted him to be a single straight man).   Turned out that Jack was running the same race I was the following weekend, O24.

I had every intention from that moment to get to know Jack, as if it was ever in my control at all.  

Ironically, I did tell my daughters about this obscure man who ran with us, someone I had not ever met and couldn't believe I had never met.

In fact, if I had a diary, he would have been thoroughly interpreted, positively on Monday, evolving to quite negatively by Friday, never dependent on actual true information, but by some intuitive sketch I drew of this man.  This man JACK SHARPE who did NOT accept my friend request on Facebook.  This man who was telling me THROUGH HIS SILENCE that he was not interested.

Obviously, this man had not recovered yet from what must have been a harsh divorce... or perhaps been burned so badly by women he was done... or just figured single life was the way to go for the rest of his better-off-lonely life.  He, too, probably wanted to move to Alaska and live in a log cabin, alone.  He was protecting his heart.  He was probably still in some very dysfunctional relationship he knew he needed to end but couldn't find the way TO end. He wanted a physical relationship, and certainly I wasn't the one for only that.  He had become re-virginized.  He was gay.

Or maybe his life didn't revolve around social media and accepting friend requests.  He didn't even notice the email prompt that Suzanne Pokorny had sent him a friend request.  He hadn't been on Facebook at all that week.

So, after enduring a bit of harshness and haranguing from me about the whole Facebook misinterpretation, one week after our first meeting, we stepped off (unknowingly) for our first date, running a trail loop over and over for 100k (62 miles).

It was a pretty solid first date.  

Life CHANGED for me that day and night.  Jack met my daughters that day (they ran 12 miles with us), I met his brother Randy that day.  We talked about most everything.  He saw the real me, the sweaty me, the tough me, the in-pain me, the dramatic me.  And thank you, God, he loved the real me.

And here we are, many chapters later, the Sharpes.

Please stay with me as I fill in those chapters in-between March 2014 and today.  Won't take me long, now that I have finally, tentatively, begun again.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

I ask you....

Both of my daughters have warned me, don't post that question.

It's a dumb question.

I still want to know. So will someone (specifically, some man) answer me?

Has dating become a lost art? 

"Dating" as in a single man calling a single woman and asking her to dinner on a Saturday night.  She says, yes, thank you, and he picks her up from her home and they go to dinner, have a glass of wine and good conversation, maybe even cheesecake for dessert.  He drops her off, they may hug or give each other a shy kiss at the door, and he leaves.  After the date, perhaps as early as the next day, he calls again.  She doesn't have to; he wants to.

Whether the couple continues on to a relationship doesn't matter in the scenario.  It's all about the initial contact arising NOT out of mutual agreement, "how about we go out, since we are both single and kind of bored, we'll find someone better later," and NOT out of intentionally being set up by a paid matching making service or from a dating site like, "well I guess we should meet." 

Do men call anymore? 

I was told recently, by a male friend, that "if it's meant to be, it will be..." and I honestly believe he sits on his couch and waits for a knock at the door.

Meant to be?  Sure, I will entertain that as possible.  But what about willingness? We all have free will.   I don't believe God meant to have us sit and wait for a knock. 

At risk of straight out rejection, opening myself up to blatant mockery, I will ask further then, why do I feel like I failed to pay my phone bill, or my Iphone is broken, or something shocking is sticking out of my head that I just don't see in the mirror... ?   

Why am I not asked out on dates? 

Sure, I have been OUT on DATES. The truth, though, which I realized yesterday, is that all of the dates have been initiated by ME.  Perhaps because I don't believe in waiting for the knock?

"Hey, Jeff, let's catch up soon... lunch or dinner this week?"
"Michael, are you in town this weekend?  Want to meet up for a drink?"
"Paul, I still owe you burgers, remember. How about Monday?"
"Mark, I really want to go see this show, but it's a musical... will you go with me?"
"Hi, Elizabeth from Just Lunch... oh, you have another introduction for me... great."

When I asked my daughters this question, why am I not asked out, Savanna snapped back, "because you ask (stupid) questions like this."  Alicia said, "Well, I haven't been asked either."

Savanna aside (she gets calls for dates, by the way), Alicia seems to always be with a cute guy.  Friend or co worker, no matter, Alicia seems to be pursued. Maybe she just sorta gets together with folks on a mutual agreement, too.  Maybe that's how this generation does it.

I asked Jeff.  He hasn't texted me back.

Do you figure the Winter has just shut everyone in to their homes, and away from social contact? Seems possible. 

Seems reasonable too that many of my male friends are either married or in relationships (with a significant other or with their careers);  or getting out of relationships, or getting OVER an old relationship, or just starting a new one.  Timing, timing is key.  Windows of opportunity close quickly.

Maybe men think that since I kept the last name Pokorny, and appear in random status updates at the same location as Bob Pokorny, that I am still married to him?

Let me state this once and for all -- I am NO LONGER MARRIED to Bob.  I will always hold feelings of remorse about all of that, sure, and yes I still love him and my daughters love him and we are cordial and friendly.  He is NOT in any way with me.  He has a long term girlfriend, and I like her.  And yeah, we kind of all get along.  If you think this is strange, too bad, this is how we roll.

And no, I am not seeing anyone in particular.  Yes, I have pictures on my Facebook page with other guys... they are all still important to me, and I value their fabric contribution to my life quilt.  But if I were in a committed relationship, I would not be declared "single" on Facebook, nor would I ever spread such a rumor about myself.  And you all know, it isn't true unless it's posted on Facebook. 

Before anyone tells me AGAIN (females are good at this) to love myself first, let me just say, I love myself (see previous blog post Born of the Wrong Time).

In fact I love myself so much I am not willing to settle with just any man who shows an interest.  I do want a specific sort of fellow (see multiple previous blog posts).  Stalkers need not apply.  Crazy attention seekers who send themselves flowers to get MY attention need not apply either.  How about a "normal" man with values and a job and is able to understand the commitment of fitness and health who isn't afraid to actually earn the love of a good woman?  Perhaps I push men away with my perceived high standards, or maybe my sarcasm or cold humor. 

Is it me? 

Maybe I am too nice.
Or not good looking enough, thin enough, or rich enough.
Or maybe I am too emotional, too old.
That baking thing I do confuses them.
Appearing by name in this blog scares them.
Wait, FEELING any sort of attachment scares them.
The potential of rejection is endless, everywhere, always frightening.

Back in college, when I worked for Dial America Marketing, "cold calling" for magazine subscriptions was the worst.  It was so much easier to simply make a sales call for a renewal.  They were already interested in the product.  They had already invested in the subscription.  Cold calling was a numbers game.  The only way a person ever survived was to keep dialing and dialing, and to never take a rejection personally.   That job was difficult.  Not many folks made it through to being given good leads... they gave up, fed up, exhausted, defeated. 

Maybe every man is so tired of extending themselves with busyness they don't have any energy for "cold calling" women. 

Or very simply, dating just may be a thing of the past.  The landscape of life has changed.  We all are so technologically "connected", we think a happy birthday text is enough effort to extend for a day of celebration.

I still believe in celebrating birthdays in person.  And holding someones hand... receiving phone calls, talking.  And being invited to dinner.  

Maybe it really IS me.

I think I am afraid, too.  I quietly fear that if I didn't initiate contact with folks I would never hear from a soul. 

"How is your knee, Jay?"
"Steve, is your back feeling better?"
"How's the job, Bob?"
"Sorry I gave you my cold, Damon, can I do anything to help?"
"Larry, how's traveling going for you, busy?"
"Ken, how's your running coming along, ready for the race?"

Why does no one ask ME how I am without ME asking them first?

I have been close to testing a theory, because I don't DARE post these dumb questions outright to my 700-plus friends on social media:   

If I didn't text or FB message anyone for a week, would anyone notice? 

If I stopped reaching out to you, would we ever talk again?

I just don't know anymore.  That's why I am asking.  Is there anyone who loves me enough to answer?

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Born of the wrong time

In her strongest moments, my mom would say of herself, "I was born before my time."

I can picture her little body, all rigid with attitude... she was making a point:  she didn't need a man.  My father always knew if he didn't WANT to be there with her, with us, "there's the door." "But if you leave, don't think you are ever comin' back, Fred."  My dad never left. 

Oh, there was no arguing, that woman was tough.  Fortified.  Independent.  The way a strong woman needs to be in this day.  If dad complained about his coffee, she'd say, "then get your own."  If he complained about the chili being too bland, she'd say, "then next time YOU make dinner."  Funny thing was, by the time dad retired, he was the chef cooking for mom.  She was convincing like that.

Even while my father was ill in the hospital for seven straight months, trekking to see him every day without fail, my mom acted strong, able to get along just fine alone.    Granted, Evelyn loved Fred, they were married 64 years; and she missed my father terribly when he was gone.  But I do agree, my mom was born before her time -- the way a woman is raised to be THESE days:  she loved herself and needed no man to make her someone better.  Being married to my dad was a choice they made together every day.

You see, as progressive as my mom really was in her thinking and personality traits, she still was raised in a time where couples endured.  Couples may have fought just as much as they do now, but they were together more resilient or stubborn, dedicated in some way, beyond general couples of today.  My parents took care of each other.  They did simple, loving, predictable things and made our household a home, our family a home base.

Mom taught me what I have recently learned is called "homesteading";  planting a garden, living simply, loving our neighbors.  I think maybe the term is more acceptable to this current generation if it seems to be a new found technique.  In any case, mom modeled such technique to me, and it was mainstream. All the families on my street seemed to do the same.  We ate dinner at 5:10 p.m. every week day evening.  Mom packed us lunches, dad included, after making toast and coffee for breakfast.  Her chocolate chip cookies were divine, buttery, perfect.  Of course it went beyond that, but you get the idea, the picture of stability.

When my daughters were younger, I would pack them lunches, too.  Not as consistently as my mom, just because she was better at everything, but I did... and I cooked, too.  Even when the girls were bigger, and we all led such busier lives going in different directions, I made dinner, complete with salad, fruit, dessert, and "how was your day conversation."  I managed that routine on top of commuting and working a full time job, and running the training miles of a marathoner.  And I baked cookies, from "scratch" no less.

Those years of being a mom and wife were the best years of my adult life.  I miss that caring and consistency with a heaviness on my chest I physically feel, even now as I recall the warmth of the table and the laughter.

My realization over this winter:  I, too, was born of the wrong time.  I was born too late.  I should have been here back in the day when it was an honor to care for my husband, to cook healthy meals for my family, to clean my home and make it comfy and warm, to plant vegetables by seed and grow flowers in beds along the fence.

Because that is what I want now.

Before all of my strong women friends begin their rants against me, and the supposed power I am holding disappears, know that I like my life just fine.  I love myself.  I don't need any man to make me a better person.

I love my career at CSU and love that I earn enough money to own a home and a car and support myself.  I don't want to give that control away, to some "man of the house," or be subservient to some husband (who currently doesn't exist).    But I do want that old fashioned having someone to come home to, to cook for, to talk with, to love -- that "mutual caring for each other thing" -- back in my life.  It is good to know I CAN do this life on my own.  I have proven it.  I just don't want to do this, to have this, alone.

There is no weakness in this wanting. It is not out of desperation, it is not from some place of neediness.  It is actually from a giving place in my heart.  Now that my daughters are grown, they require less of me.  Letting them fly is healthy!

Sadly, at this prime moment of my life-- when busyness has turned suddenly slower -- there is no man for me who wants the same thing.

Being single is what both men and women seem to want these days.  Sex is so easy to get anymore, hardly anyone requires a relationship for it. Freedom to work 12, 14, 16 hours a day to earn money he will possibly never spend seems to be the partner so many seek.  Fast food is, well, FAST, who needs to waste time eating a home cooked meal that has to be, well, COOKED.  Maybe mom is still around to provide a meal once a month, on a Sunday, or a birthday.. but really, why, when there is a new restaurant open down the street by that chef from the Food Network?  Christmas can be saved for the lavish meal.

You see, traditionalism has no reason to exist anymore.  We are each revolving around our own selves, a complicated simplicity so time consuming there is no give. 

And who wants permanent emotions anyhow. That would mean investing in someone aside from ourselves.  I have been told at least four times since October, "work is all I have going right now, I don't have time for a relationship." Or the best one ever, "I don't have the time to give you that you require."  As if spending real moments with me is aiding some sort of unhealthy, unnatural need of mine (you know, that crazy woman who wanted more than a few hours a week with her boyfriend).  Bring him a banana bread and he's done.  Out.  Somehow baking suggests permanency in and of itself. 

Think what you want to think about me.  Because I love to send cards in the mail to say thank you for being kind, or that I appreciate you, doesn't mean I am needy -- just grateful.  And because I offer to make you dinner on Sunday, doesn't mean anything beyond me believing you need a good meal for a change.

So, maybe I too was born of the wrong time, like my mom.  She would have been a terribly powerful single woman in her day.... and, I, an excellent wife back in her's.

And if that isn't true, then my only other explanation is that I have missed my time, the time God gave me my Homestead, and I carelessly lost it.  I let it go when I had it.  And though I have been told that God is not a punishing God, maybe this is what I get for letting it go. 

Today I baked an apple pie for no one.

Not even because I wanted a piece of pie.   It's sitting there now, in the kitchen. I had apples that needed to be used.  And I wanted to feel, like me, again. 

Sunday, January 26, 2014

This difficult decision

This decision, relative to all the other daily decisions I and others like me have to face, should not feel so difficult. 

Perhaps by writing this blog I will either work the choice out in my head, through these words, or one of my faithful friends might read this and make a suggestion.  What would you suggest I do?

So it's the dead of winter in northern Ohio. It has been a harsh one.  The snow is one consistent challenge, one we expect living here, but the extremely frigid cold spells have been unusually rough.  The low temps have actually closed schools.  While I want to -- almost -- say, "suck it up you buttercups," here I sit in my warm house not wanting to run outside.  Thus I don't actually tell the little children to freeze their tootsies at the bus stops, cuz I get it, it's cold.  

Not running outside has become the issue of decision.  I get home from work late every day (pretty much because I drag my lazy butt into work late and have to make up the time).   It is dark.  Which makes the bitter cold feel even more bitter and insulting.  What are my options for fitness -- mileage -- aside from running outside, alone, in the dark cold snow every night?

1.)  I could fix the treadmill that is sitting in the garage over at the Friendship house.  I purchased it last year on Craig's list for $50, set up the whole garage for an indoor workout facility, and the treadmill belt began slipping.  So I walked on it.  Then it just stopped running.  It may or may not be a cheap fix.  Throw good money after bad? 

1.a.)  Sub-decision of choice 1.  Could have a treadmill doctor come out for $100 to assess whether or not it is worth it to fix.  Seems counterproductive.

1.b.)  Could buy the belt cleaning package somewhere, try and take the damn machine apart myself, tune it up etc., for about $25 but a whole lot of frustration.  I probably don't even have the tools (material or mental) to accomplish this task.  And yes, my engineer-in-training daughter does live with me, but no, has no interest in attempting to fix the stupid old treadmill in the frozen garage at Friendship. And don't even suggest that I have my handy boyfriend fix it.  There is no boyfriend.  And any friend, well, I would have to pay him... and we are back to the sub-decision of spending good money after bad. 

2.)  I could buy a new treadmill.

So many sub-decisions fall under this category, I won't even number or letter them.  Even if I buy one, get it shipped to my door, where do I put it.  How do I put it together?  My basement has flooded a few times over the past year... is it safe down there?  And again, how do I put it together?  No way I will have a treadmill in my living room, the house is small enough already and I don't even know if all that weight and pounding wouldn't shake the glass cabinet down, or worse.  Walking across the floor sounds precarious.  Not chancing that, so basement would be the option.  And how do I get it down there?  And again, how do I put it together?

Oh, yes, which do I buy?  New or used?  Tried the used route, that was a poor decision.  Is a new one worth the money? I would have to put it on a credit card.  After everything else I have had to put on the credit card.  Like a matchmaking service that I will forever regret falling for buying.

Worst question of all, would I use it after spending good money on it?  Probably.  But I am still stuck on how to put the thing together.  By myself. With no tools. 

3.)  There is always the gym at CSU.  But their treadmills are full of students. Busy.  Same with the Medina Community Rec Center.  Busy, always.  And time-limited to 30 minutes.  And I have to go in their window of open hours.  This is all just assuming I am motivated to get my workout stuff gathered together to go.  And no, I wouldn't, because I haven't.  This option has been an option for years.  And have I used it?  No.
4.)  Do I join a 24-hour gym instead?  Excellent choice.  But would I use it.  For $34.95 a month, would I even go there at 10 p.m.?  I am thinking this might be the best choice, financially, and mentally.  I could easily drive myself up to the Snap fitness center at 10 p.m. or midnight. And hope I am safe and won't get robbed or worse.  Hmmmmm. 

5.)  I could find a fitness friend who would force me to accountability.  Meet me at the gym.  Tell me to hang in there, spring is coming.  Unfortunately, this idea sounds real -- really real and believable, just like the matchmaking service sounded.  Then reality hits, and well, it is all an illusion.

6.)  OR, do I just sit here and look out my window, losing fitness more every day, as the snow goes falling and the temperatures stay at all time lows during global warming (what??)  waiting for that hour in Medina between the cold spells where it is 20 degrees and that would be the best moment to run 6 miles outside for free.  Provided I am not at work during that hour.  Or commuting.  Or sleeping.  Planets aligning? Doubtful.

I used to be tough.  I used to be an ultrarunner.  I used to do things that others would say Wow at, and I would impress myself with upon finishing. Where did it go?  With the sun... with the spring and summer... with the good days of motivation and young healthy muscles. 

And I do remember a time, too, where money wasn't this big of an issue.  I spent money to register for races, racing to train.  I spent money traveling to a warmer state in February to break up the monotony of the winter and to make me run and prove I still had a base.  Registration fees even for local ultras have risen so much I don't even know which ones to choose -- so I don't choose, and then miss deadlines.  Travel costs are so outrageous I am fortunate to get one more state in a year toward my 50 states. Why is everything so expensive? 

I wasn't always robbing Peter to pay Paul for gas bills or electric bills.  I wasn't feeling guilty for not riding the Rapid into work to save a few dollars.  Paying for parking at work wasn't a luxury, and neither was owning a television and having cable -- both of which I have sacrificed since April 2013 in order to pay for gas, electric, water, food.  

I didn't realize this decision was so political.  But it is, isn't it.  If I am having a challenge financially, emotionally, mentally, and *I* have a job,and healthcare and a car and a house, what of those folks who don't? 

I wonder if any of the good times will come back. 

So in the course of writing this blog, I have felt a range of emotions, from confusion to guilt to thankfulness to desperation.  And I still haven't decided on a winter fitness strategy. 

I want the days back when running was simple.  My simple solution to the bigger challenges of life. When everything didn't cost do damned much. 

Ya see, when you suffer with depression -- be it seasonal, situational, or major -- one of the strategies to counteract the disorder is exercise and healthy eating and living. 

So even if you believe this decision before me is minor, or silly-simple, the impact is pretty wide and truly matters.  Not doing anything, like I am today, is a circular, downward spiral.   Your opinion right now would be welcome -- your suggestions, your friendship and caring, a gift.  I am serious.

I need to make this decision soon, before there is nothing left of the me I used to be.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Inspired Living

Like an ad campaign designed to penetrate on multiple sensory levels, daily we are bombarded with information.  It is that one rare, random message that seeps into one's consciousness, making you want and need more of what is being sold.

It is that one person you meet who shifts your inspiration toward living. 

Recently I was introduced to such a rare soul.  A rather lost soul in the sense of a runaway train -- totally out of control, on high speed, making decisions on instinct, inspired from success breeding success and how images of that success manifested will pay off later.  He's all in, he has bet it all, and there is no stopping him.  It's almost frightening to watch.  The risk is huge.  But so is the payoff.
Part of me says, get out of his way.  Let him go, let him blow past me, but I don't;  maybe I will pause him enough to teach me something, share a secret, take me with him.

This man is all of about 160 lbs in a non-imposing frame of a body, about 5 foot 9 inches, cut with tightly defined muscles, model-beauty in a physical form he doesn't even realize.  His personality is alive and overtakes any physical dress, enhances beyond colors of a carefully chosen suit coat and tie.

Watching him think is entrancing.   I want what he is selling.

And yet here's the thing:  he isn't selling anything.  He is leading, he is living, without permission, without apology.  And I want to live like that too.  

One of the first flurries out of his mouth was of his lack of boundaries.  Personal, professional, they are all mixed.  He laughed (though not heartily) when explaining this, a matter of fact, using his sweeping hands to animate how mixed up borderlines can become without margins. 

I have often said this of myself.  I have been told it is a negative attribute in my professional life, blurring the lines.

We have this major personality trait (and a few others) in common -- each so far from the ordinary -- and yet, HE is ALIVE and I am only watching.  What makes him allowed and me contained?

As he is spinning, I am oscillating.

We each studied (almost nearly failed) liberal arts in undergrad, a flair for the dramatic, both wrote compositions that were questioned as dark, slightly on the edge, delved into behavior that rode a fine line.  "Middle of the road," my mother would say to me, "why must you drive on that edge all the time?"  Risky stunts, back then, feeling indestructible.  The amount of alcohol I consumed in college could have easily killed me.

When exactly did I choose to be safe?   Perhaps when motherhood overcame any other natural drive, or ability to choose solely for myself.  Maybe that is only my best excuse.  

I still wonder though, how is it that a basic likeness of two beings has the ability to morph into such extreme ends of a spectrum today?  The reverse of moderation in his world, undemanding blandness in mine.

What he does as a career does not matter.  It is all one with breathing.  And that is the point.

There are not enough hours into the morning, or bottles of wine in a case, to absorb it all immediately.  This will all take time, learning.  I want to know so much more right now.  And perhaps, so does he.

In the dark of 3 a.m. on a weekend night, it seems totally possible to grasp, analyze, to feel the realization of an epiphany.  He is nearly suffering with weight of responsibility, believing there is no choice but to succeed or lives will literally fall.  We understand in that moment, he is truly a rare combination:  an artist in a business realm... applying emotion where there usually is none, porous in a hard world.  It takes so much energy, and talent, and faith -- confidence -- to be personally accountable for the livelihood of his own, while taking other capitalists to their knees.

How amazing to be that free.

And though, he says, while it looks like freedom to me, in ways it is a prison cell.  The risk is high, the payoff huge.

I wander, drift in my thoughts, wonder how long he will be able to coexist with himself.  Will he lose more weight?  How much more sleep can a man sacrifice?  Perhaps I just worry, and he just keeps getting out of bed in the morning wanting to do it all again. 

As I simply show up for my 8 to 5 job, squelching any creativity or avoid risking any security that may impact lives around me, he goes 14, 15, 16 hours a day, on gut.  And wins. 

I won't change the world, or even make it better, by sitting safely boxed between walls.  What WOULD I do, if I truly believed I would NOT fail?   Live large.  Live out loud.  Be on plan, be on purpose.  Not just show up.  Not be safe.  Risk. 

I would blur the lines more.

But back to 3 a.m. and epiphanies.  My inspiration today has not been from learning hints of his greatness, no matter how large this man is or becomes in a professional sense.  I am inspired by seeing glimpses of his heart:  so generous and giving, wanting of love not acceptance of who he is but what he has to offer.  A warmth and normalcy of a truly good man, humble but thankful, thoughtful but driven.  Unassuming but ferocious.  A grateful generosity so personal it is amazing to see it coexist in such a cold hard driven world. 

I cannot explain to you the dichotomy of his passion.  And I haven't even begun to assemble a complete picture.

For now I have what I have been given, so much in so little time.  How many others know what I know?   For now I must be thankful for the gift, respect it, and let him go, without restraint, into the night. 

I have the memory of undulating story after story, the rise and fall of a melodic voice, details and words, expressions and grins and shadows of sadness -- all a blessing, in that I was the one in that moment with him to hear it.  We were there, together.

And it was but a moment.

I may have dreamt it.

But the message reached me.

Yes.   It felt THAT important.  And I just don't want to ever forget. 

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Desperate times. Desperate measures.

Desperation.  Despair.  Loss of hope. 

Lord, it is all around us. 

Guide my words as I try to encourage a woman I barely know to breathe... that life is WORTH waiting for the current hurricane to pass.  Someday she may even want to run in the slanting sheets of rain again. 

Will I believe it myself when I tell her that tomorrow might just be better?  Will she believe that I care and love her if only because I feel her agony?  I do. 

What words would help me want to live?  What would I want to hear?  That my life matters?  That despite all the bitter words between us he would still love me?  That one day forgiveness would come over me and the squeezing pain would be like labor, long forgotten?        

I don't know.  In a day like that I don't think anything is clear but aching.  Lashing out, crying, wearing out friends, making good -- and then altogether bad -- decisions, simultaneously.  Loving someone but detesting their poor decisions, having to say goodbye to a lifetime. 

Getting over heart ache after heart ache is getting harder.  

Hope is becoming harder to find.

Have you noticed it, the vibration of loss?  The engulfing anger?  The injuring tongues? The mass of casualties of our actively hating each other?  Why does God permit it?  Our free will allows it.  It's a choice.

I need to tell you that there are patches of light if you look for them... if you believe they are there, even in your blindness.  HE will always love you.

So what will keep the hopeless safe?   God only knows.

How about not hurting each other in the first place. 

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Pieces of Me

I still haven’t written about losing my dad, and that was nearly two years ago now.  The blog began and has remained a draft.  I’ve been so stuck, unable to finish it.  How does one summarize a life so long and large in one short narrative? 
And now my mom is gone.

Not for tears, or overwhelming emotion, I wasn’t able to even make adequate comments at her graveside service yesterday; speechless because she was this huge personality fit into this little frame of a woman.  A two minute summary of the meaning of her life was absolutely impossible.

My mom and I shared an easy love of simple pleasures in life – like a cup of hot tea, a yard sale on a spring day, sitting on a bench amongst beautiful flowers.  She would often come over to the Friendship House and hunt for any flower bloom that had fallen over, or was leaning, so that she could ask gently, “Oh, Suzie, that one is broken – can I take it home and put it in water?”   Of course one bloom amounted into a beautiful bouquet, which was okay, because I did the very same thing in her flower garden. 

We would oftentimes walk slowly around the house, looking at the new beds I had created, or the day lilies she had given me that were established and blooming.  Dad’s lilac bush that mom gave me last year, this little stubbly thing he had purchased through a mail order catalog, was blooming big purple blooms this spring, even though the weak stems could hardly support them all.  Mom and I figured it was Dad tending it from Heaven, encouraging the plant to give its all in this life.

This past Saturday morning, as I was preparing to meet my brother and his girlfriend Becky for brunch, to discuss funeral arrangements, my heart led me to know, instinctively, I needed to put together mom’s funeral flowers, myself.  Strangely, Mom had hung on to the label of thirty years ago that gladiolas and lilies were funeral flowers, reminding her of death and the pall of a funeral parlor.  In no way did Mom want reminders of death and dying, even if it was her life we were memorializing.  This wasn’t a simple decision, it was a drive inside my heart that my mom’s flowers needed to be collected from her own yard, and my two yards, with a few roses and large mums thrown in for that royal touch.   The arrangements would be pieces of me.

As I sit here writing, I am looking at the “Mother” arrangement, now displayed on my dining room table.  Even the greenery is from my yard, the Rose of Sharon tree branches and lemon balm mom gave me last year.  Phlox, like the ones of my childhood memories at W. 225th street, began blooming at Friendship on Friday – they hadn’t been on Thursday.  And surprisingly, both the pink and white peonies had enough fresh blooms left, even though I was certain they were bloomed out last week.  I made sure to include a few daisies from Savanna’s graduation flowers – an event Mom attended only five days before her unexpected passing.  The pride on her face was as big as a few weeks before at Alicia’s college graduation.  

Unfortunately, this blog post today will be short – certainly not relative to the big life my mom lived.  Words really could not describe her joy, her drive to make every day matter, to be happy even in the worst of circumstances.  If you were to see these flower bouquets, how many varieties of blooms and greens assembled into these surprisingly gorgeous arrangements, you might understand… her life was so much like that.  Daisies could mix with mustard flowers, highlighted with perfectly shaped roses and day lilies that didn’t even close at night; tree greens that didn’t wilt, even though they don’t normally get assembled into a vase with ornamental sage.  

Mom was such a mixture of good, such a positive friend to her neighbors, such a critical but supportive mom… a mixture of what normally doesn’t go together, but did with Mom, and worked.  She would harass me in one breath and love me fervently in the next.  Mom loved her grandchildren more passionately than any grandparent I know – and still managed to include Jessica Bradley in as her own, just like she loved Kevin and me, as much as she drew in Becky as her own daughter. 

Mom embraced everyone and everything, forming a patchwork quilt of personalities and relationships.  She wasn’t about loving one “kind” of person, one religion, one orientation, one culture – she talked with everyone, was open to everyone, accepted everyone.  Like mixing hosta with lavender. 

Just as Mom was traditional in so many things, like having dinner together on Sunday and holidays, like believing in true love finding a way, she was nontraditional in that this woman wanted what she wanted.  No open casket, no funeral procession… no visiting her at the cemetery, either.  “If ‘ya didn’t come visit me while I was alive, don’t come visit me when I’m dead,” she so often said. 

I am sure Mom wouldn’t want us to be crying for her, either… but remembering all those many times we spent together, even if we were just walking the garden. 

“Oh, Suzie, you did such a nice job on my flowers.”  Thanks, Mom. 

It was the right thing to do.  Mom would have wanted it that way.