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Staying in Focus: Daily Prompt: I Walk the Line: Love Will Keep Us Together

Daily Prompt: I Walk the Line

Have you got a code you live by? What are the principles or set of values you actively apply in your life?

As I have written before, I have two precepts I follow in life. One is to love one another, the other to do unto others, as I would like others to do unto me. They may seem too simple at first glance, but they can take a lifetime of practice to achieve.

Let’s look at the first one – love one another.  Some of the others may be easy to love – our parents, siblings, spouse and children are hopefully on this list. But what about that mean boss we have at work, that workmate who tries to make us look bad, the teacher who makes us feel inadequate, the classmates who bully us? Can we truly learn to love these people? As I said earlier, what seems so simple a statement is actually quite complex.

The key is to look beneath the layers – the personas people adopt for a variety of reasons. Most likely they experienced a lack of love themselves, somewhere in life; perhaps they act as they do because that is what or how they were taught; perhaps there are biological reasons for their actions – brain injury or psychological  disorders. If we try to peel away the layers and reach the core of a person like this, we will find a lost soul, confused and abused and acting as they do because they know no other way. Even if we can’t change them or cure them, we can understand and have empathy for these lost souls, and we can succeed in loving one another.

With the second precept, unless one is a total masochist who wants to be abused and treated badly, we desire to be treated fairly, to love and be loved, to be accepted and cared for, appreciated and needed.  To receive these desires one must transmit these desires to others – as in karma, what goes around comes around.  If we approach others with understanding rather than judgment, with kindness rather than hate, we are following this precept. If we think about how we like to be treated and carry it forth into the world, love will find a way in and spread throughout. To make changes in the world we each have to be the change; to be loved, we each have to love one another.

It is as simple and as difficult as that,

I will repost my favorite poem that reflects these  thoughts:

He drew a circle that shut me out-

Heretic , rebel, a thing to flout.

But love and I had the wit to win:

We drew a circle and took him In !

– by Edwin Markham

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Staying in Focus: LIfe is the Journey

Daily Prompt: JourneyIMG_9657

We all on a journey because life is the greatest journey we will ever take.. Where we began and where we end is not the focus of life, but the journey through it is. What have I learned in my 60 year journey through life so far? I’ve learned that there will be joy as surely a there will be tears. There will be success  and there  will be failure. There will be moments of fear and acts of heroism. There will be days when I think  I’ve  had just about all I can take,  and days so beautiful I never want to see  them  end. I’ve learned that my life experience is up to me. I can make choices and I can make changes. The journey is not always  a straight line from beginning to end.  Sideroads and hidden paths sometimes confuse my progression, other times lead me to new experiences that help me grow.

Take my Parkinson’s disease, for instance. Never that one coming. A bit of a roadblock,  it has become my constant  companion for six years now, and  it has, of course,caused me to make some changes in the direction I was going on my journey before PD. As John Lennon so wisely observed, Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans. My advice is  make plans, but make them out of silly putty,  so they can stretch in whatever direction your journey requires. PD may have slowed me  down, but my journey continues and I am moving forward.

Let me add that the journey will  provide opportunities for mystery and promise, challenge and  despair, triumph and heartbreak. Life is not a journey for the timid or the weak. It is a journey of discovery, of finding a way past the roadblocks, meeting the challenges,  finding the opportunities to be magnificent.  Discovering who you are and what you are capable of achieving  is the quest of the journey.

I try to take my journey one step at a time, not so intent on trying to see what is coming that I miss what is, right now.  If I am mindful, when my journey is complete, I will have the memories of a life well-lived; if not, I’ll be filled with regret for all those lost opportunities to make my life matter , to embrace my journey. no matter where it leads or how it challenges me. I intend to complete my journey with no regrets.

So, perhaps, I will see you out there on the road,. Our journeys intersect and mix with others constantly. May your journey be just what you need it to be. may you be what your journey needs you to be – magnificent.

Focus On: Ann and Jack

It has been a challenging year for our family.  Thank goodness we have each other to rely on for support during difficult times.  I accompanied my mother to her appointment yesterday with her oncologist to find the results of her PET scan. Unfortunately, the news was not good. The 2.5cm lesion an earlier x-ray had picked up on her lung has proved to be malignant. They have chosen to continue the treatment of oral chemotherapy to address this. Due to the mouth sores she is experiencing after one week on the protocol, this will not prove to be an easy journey.  They have held the meds up until Friday to give her mouth a chance to recoup, and have scaled back the dosage 25%. She was just getting her appetite back when the sores made their sorry appearance. In 12 weeks she’ll have another CT or PET scan to determine if it’s shrinking or at least holding steady. If it has grown, then we revisit her choices.  The  doctor said at some point the drugs will stop working and she will have to balance quality of life versus the effects of a more aggressive treatment In the meantime the doctor told her to  enjoy her life and time with family. Go to her granddaughter’s wedding, do what she has always wanted to do.

We decided some parties were in order.. We are planning a Mother’s Day celebration, a bridal shower for granddaughter Jeanette, who will get married in June, and a  party for mom’s 90th birthday  (Shh! It’s a secret invitations forthcoming). Fatigue can be a problem so she may need to tailor down her activities somewhat

.But we intend to live in the moment, thankful for whatever length of time we are given to be together and enjoy each other’s company as much as we can. We welcome the chemo drugs, despite their side effects .as her soldiers of light, marching forward to conquer the enemy.

My mom has been so strong through all of this, but are any of us really ready to let go, give up the fight and our hold on life, however tenuous it is? I think at some point the body knows,and the mind agrees and one is at peace with their decision.

I think, through this whole process so far, this was the first time it really hit me, that we could lose her far sooner than we expected. She is handling it in her usual stoic manner.  She said she suspected all along there was something more than just the breast cancer.It’s amazing how our bodies seem to know, and communicate to us, when something is wrong inside. As with my Parkinson’s disease, my body knew months before my mind would accept what I. knew in my gut was happening.

While I was visiting we adjusted some things to make it easier for her to regain her independence. We moved everything she used regularly to lower shelves and cabinets; we moved canned goods, etc. to lower shelves in the pantry and her hutch. She can no longer reach high places as a result of the surgery. We cleaned out her closet so we could put in the new clothes I had bought her, as she has gone from a size 12 to a size 8 through this ordeal. I don’t know how long she will be able to stay in her house, but she knows she has a home with one of us when the time is right.

As we rearranged things, we were cleaning out extra stuff. I spied these two  mugs pictured here, which mom was going to discard.  IMG_0228I don’t know what is was about them, except that they reminded me of a time when there was an Ann and Jack (Jack and John have passed away) who had 4 children (John, Pat, Mary Lou and Steven) who lived together in a two-story house and had  a wonderful life together. A life they thought would last forever. But nothing lasts forever, and so we must enjoy every moment that we have…

For Ann And Jack

once we walked on sandy shores
and summer flowed through open doors
and childhood was all we knew
and you were all we needed

once we thought we’d never change
and life would always be the same
and we could not imagine
that one day you would be gone

lost in youthful innocence
we squandered precious time
and let slip by too many days,
which cannot be repeated

and now from shadows cast
we must  forge another path
and make the best of time
before clouds obscure the sun

we’ll celebrate each precious day
and we will remember fondly
when childhood was all we knew
and you were all we needed
                             -pc 2013  

Focus On: Full Circle

we begin to draw the circle
the  moment we become friends
and despite time and distance
just like a perfect circle
true friendship never ends…

We bought our first home in a housing development called Sutton Park, in Poughkeepsie, NY, in 1977.  We moved into our home in July and Denise and Geoff move into theirs in October. It’s hard to remember exactly when an acquaintance becomes a friendship, but Denise and I hit it off, along with another neighbor, Shirley.  We shared similar interests
and enjoyed getting together for a cup of tea in the afternoon. Often the neighbors would gather in someone’s yard and we’d sit on lawn chairs and chat. Denise and Shirley became the two friends I could count on for help and support as I had my first child in July of 1978. Shirley already had three children and  Denise had  a son, Matthew, and her baby girl, Melissa, was born in February, a few months ahead of my son, Steven. Denise also had  a daughter, Amanda, after our friendship began.and I added Kevin to the mix in 1982. We celebrated many birthdays, holidays, joined exercise programs, learned sewing and crafting skills as members of the Home Bureau, and held garage sales. We thoroughly enjoyed those days before the children went to school, and we went to work.

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Melissa and Steven

The good old days

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Amanda and Steven

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Denise &; Geoff

Denise &; Geoff

 But, as we made an annual trip at Christmas every year to visit Bill’s family in New Jersey, we would visit with Denise and Geoff as well. Of course, we kept in touch with letters and phone calls in between. Geoff made a visit to NC, and later brought the family with him.

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The children grow with the passing holidays.

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Bill and  I also returned  to the northeast for vacations in the Poconos, where we had spent our honeymoon. Denise and Geoff began to join us and  we have enjoyed several visits together there.  And this last July, we went on a cruise to Alaska with them, which was awesome.

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In the Poconos together

I figured out that we had been nearby friends for all of 9 years, and long distance friends for 26 years! And now we are about to come full circle and be nearby friends again, as this past week they came to visit and bought a new house which will be built for them, and completed in August. Right now they will be only 19 minutes away, but we may very well retire to the same town they are in and be even closer. I hope the children follow their parents here. It would be nice to have them all together again. My son,Steve, lives in Raleigh and Kevin lives here in Cary.

Alaska, July 2012

Alaska, July 2012

One of my friends once made the comment that once you are a friend of Pat’s, you’re a friend forever. I truly do value my friends, especially as we all grow older. We need to get out and do things, have people around us we can confide in and count on .I am lucky to have so many good friends in my life. From high school, my best buds Kathi and Pat (who became my sister-in-law), Joanne and Janice. From college there is Pat C. From  Poughkeepsie, Denise and Shirley, and my friend, Debbi, who lived in Pouhkeepsie and moved to Cary a few months ahead of us, and from Cary  –  Lisa, Kathryn, Linda, Julie, Diane, Debbie and Karen. I’ve recently gotten in touch with Missy, who moved to Texas some years back and my most long distance friend is Maria Ana, who lives in Argentina. We have been pen pals (although now we are email pals) since we were in grade school.

Denise and I are both retired now, so we will have time for crafts, for walks in the sunshine, and for sitting back, with a cup of tea, and watching our grandchildren grow.

The circle, then, will be complete.

Focus On: Quiet Courage

“Courage does not always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, ‘I will try again tomorrow.'” -Mary Anne Radmacher.

the voice of quiet courage
                    by pat coyle

it is an office with a cut glass chandelier in the lobby
brilliant pictures grace the walls
framing a much different world
than the one they inhabit –
those who must come here
those who fight the silent battle
with fortitude and  quiet courage

Called forth by a smiling nurse
one on each side, the three musketeers
questions are asked, answers given
blood pressure taken
he will be in soon
and we wait

I look over at her she sits quietly
lost in her own thoughts
lost in a world not of her choosing
searching for a beacon to show her the way
the way out, the way back, the way home

he  arrives

strange words float in the air
metastatic, PET scan, estrogen, radiation,
but then they fade and scatter
diminished by one word,
which fills the room with the taste of fear
chemotherapy

 he explains

she nods
not understanding some of it
bewildered by most of it
but knowing her musketeers are getting it
and will explain it to her

taken orally, not as harsh
less side effects
no hair loss

he leaves

to give orders
write prescriptions
arm her with the weapons needed
to win the day
we relax somewhat and breathe again

she gazes down
she does not recognize this body
crisscrossed with battle scars
this is not me, she thinks
but it is, and she knows
she will do what she must
she will take what she should
for as long as she can

she is a fighter
she is a survivor
she is our mother
and we, her musketeers

And so we enter the next phase in Mom’s battle against breast cancer with a visit to the oncologist.  My sister, Mary Lou, and I accompanied her, both for moral support and because, despite her hearing aid, she misses a lot of what is being said. And who wouldn’t, hearing impaired or not, when the doctor is throwing our words like metastatic, Pet scans, and chemotherapy at you.

The bottom line is that the first cancer she had (22 years ago) was estrogen driven. When it re-occurred  later, which was 5 years ago, it was treated with radiation, and then she was given tamoxifen , a drug that helps suppress these estrogen driven tumors. The doctor was curious as to why the tamoxifen failed in light of this third occurrence and then the pathology report arrived and showed that this was not an estrogen driven cancer, but a metastatic one, capable of moving to other parts of the body. It is  a completely different cancer. So she must have a PET scan to see if any of it has metastasized elsewhere. If not, then she will take six chemotherapy pills orally each day for two weeks, then be off for a week, and this rotation will last quite some time, perhaps for the rest of her life. If cancer is present elsewhere, then a new protocol will have to be addressed.

The good news is that side effects are milder than intravenous chemo, she won’t lose her hair or experience the vomiting associated with it either. Some nausea, maybe, and we have to watch her coumadin dosage, as the new medication will boost its blood thinning properties.

So again we wait, for the PET scan to be scheduled and the new meds to be acquired.
We will try to do so with the same fortitude and quiet courage she has exhibited through all the challenges of her life. No matter what the future holds, she knows the three musketeers will see it through together  — all for one and one for all!

Staying in Focus: Be Astonished

“Instructions for living a life.
 Pay attention.
 Be astonished.
Tell about it.”
            –Mary Oliver

I came across this quote quite by accident but as I read it, I knew it contained a tiny seed that would implant in my mind and slowly grow over the next few days into the subject for a post. How succinctly  Ms. Oliver lays out the simple recipe for a life well-lived. And although at first glance it seems simple enough, the follow-through can be quite difficult.

Pay attention.  These two words are often used in classrooms, meeting rooms, while working on homework, reading a book, learning to play a new piece of music on the piano, a new step in ballet or a clever new football play.  We must focus in order to learn. We must practice how to listen. not just hear; to perceive, not just see. To be totally present in the moment requires discipline as we struggle not to dwell on the past or anticipate tomorrow. Why? Because it is a  waste of time. We can’t  change the past, the future is beyond our reach, and so we need to remind ourselves to pay attention to where we are right now. Doing so makes us present in our lives. We become aware of the sunlight streaming through the window, the sensation of cold, sweet ice cream on the tongue, the delight on the face of a grandchild when she recognizes you, unexpectedly, in a store. Our lives are made up, not of years, but of moments, each one precious and each one can be experienced, if only we pay attention.

Be astonished. Oh, what we take for granted in our lives! We should be astonished that we are here to begin with. We have been given this gift of a life to be lived. Isn’t it astonishing how day in and day out our hearts keep pumping, hardy little machines that work tirelessly for us, for as long as they can? Isn’t it astonishing that we go to bed every night, and every morning we awake to the sun rising in the morning sky, like clockwork, painting it colors even an artist would find hard to match?  Isn’t it astonishing that a tiny seed carries within it the blueprint for a tall and mighty tree, or the exquisite beauty of a rose?  It is astonishing to be able to give birth to new life, to create music and song, to dance, to dream, to love and be loved. How can we look up at the night sky, beneath the stars and planets and galaxies of a universe we still struggle to comprehend, and not be astonished?  And finally, isn’t it astonishing that most of the time we fail to be astonished? Something to think about, isn’t it?

Tell about it.  We all have a story to tell, an experience to share, a dream remembered. Before the invention of writing people told stories by word of mouth, around campfires, or by painting pictures on cave walls. There were tales of great adventures, of wars between mighty gods, fanciful tales of fairy folk and forest sprites.  With the invention of writing, people were able to tell about it with papyrus and reed, then with paper and pen, in books of scrolls or bound in leather; with technology came the typewriter, the word processors, and computers. We can tell about it in music and song, in poetry and dance, movies and plays. And of course, astonishing as it is, through blogs.  To writers there is nothing more gratifying than knowing that their words can now reach across the globe, and  that long after they are gone, their words and thoughts will be swimming through the endless pathways of the internet, or the cloud or whatever replaces that. And why do we want to tell  about it.?  Well, because as astonishing as life is, our time with it is limited. We want to leave something behind, something to note that we were here, something to tell future generations about who we were and how we lived our lives.

Perhaps someday, long in the future, someone will read these words, and be reminded of the gift they are given.

So they can pay attention.
And be astonished.

Focus On: Dr. Seuss, Smiles and the Moments of our Lives

        don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened — Dr. Seuss

I came across this quote by one of my favorite writers, Dr. Seuss, and I realized how nicely his words speak to the cultivation of mindfulness.   How often do we miss out on the joys in our lives by anticipating their conclusion?.  How many moments are lost to our attention by our fear of living them and letting them go? This can apply to everything from a long anticipated vacation to a simple weekend.

Let’s take today, for example.  I have a choice.  I can fill my day up with things I enjoy doing with mindful attention, or sit here and lament the fact that it’s already 10:00 AM on Saturday morning and the weekend is already slipping through my fingers.

A great example of this is Christmas.  We spend so long anticipating this celebration. We decorate, buy and wrap gifts, plan menus and are so wrapped up ourselves in the planning that we hardly take time to really enjoy the moments of the season itself.  When we suddenly find ourselves sitting amidst the torn wrappings or looking at the remains of the holiday dinner, we feel a big letdown.  Christmas Day itself becomes anticlimactic, and we get the blues as we  dwell on the fact that it’s over, when we should be happy to have had the opportunity to enjoy this holiday with our loved ones once again.

Last summer, when we  were on our cruise to Alaska, we noticed there were floor mats in the elevators with the day of the week printed on them. Now, we could look at those mats each morning and think , “Oh, no, it’s Wednesday already.  Our cruise is almost over”, or we could choose to smile and think, “another beautiful day on this cruise is waiting for me to discover and enjoy.” A simple change of perspective can change the way you live your life.

I must admit  I did let the blues slip in when this experience in Alaska was over. It’s hard to go from a life of pampered leisure on a cruise ship, or a week hiking in a national park, or returning from a part of the world we never thought we’d see, and go back to life as usual, with the harsh reality of work, bills to pay and doctor visits to endure.

But mindfulness teaches us the importance of being present in the moment because this moment is all we really have.  It is pointless to waste it lookinging back, or anticipating the future. In this moment, right now, the sun is shining on a beautiful Saturday morning,. I am writing which gives me great pleasure, I feel good, I’m not in pain, I have much to smile about and I don’t have to be in Alaska to do it. (Although it would be nice…)

So let’s embrace the moments of our lives with attention and joy, and not squander them with regret, but  rather celebrate them with a smile – – because they happened.

Moments

Nothing is worth more than today,
A simple thought — but true,
For the past is just a memory
and no one has promised tomorrow to you.
So embrace today as the moments unfold,
Each one more precious than silver or gold,
Love and be loved, live and forgive,
and show true compassion for all living things
Then you’ll find peace of mind and joy of the soul
And your spirit will soar on gossamer wings.
                                                               pc ‘08

Staying in Focus: On Blossoms and Butterflies

I just knew it was going to happen.  I looked out at the small Japanese cherry tree we have growing in our backyard, and I said to my husband, “If this warm weather keeps up much longer that cherry tree is going to bloom.”IMG_9782And sure enough, I looked out at the tree today, and it has at least twenty blooms on its spindly branches. If I look out across the backyards of my neighbors, every cherry tree in every backyard is in bloom, some fully so.  The trees, it seems, are as confused as we are about the weather.  We dress in short sleeve shirts instead of woolly, warm sweaters, and the trees deck themselves out with blossoms, instead of taking their usual winter nap, and waiting for spring to call forth their awakening with blossoms and leaves.

As happenstance would have it, I have just finished reading Flight Behavior by one of my favorite authors, Barbara Kingsolver. Her prose is a delight to read.  I savor the words like sweet candy on my tongue,  as I read such phrases as, She knew her own recklessness and marveled, really, at how one hard little flint of thrill could outweigh the pillowy, suffocating aftermath of a long disgrace.”

And so begins the story of Dellarobia Turnbow, who, at the novel’s, beginning, is engaging in her own flight behavior, trying to run away from a life she fell into by circumstance. At the same time, she discovers a host of monarch butterflies nesting in the trees on her family’s land, butterflies that are also confused in their flight behavior, choosing the mountains of Tennessee instead of the warmer climes of Mexico to weather out the winter months.

And just as the butterfly will emerge from the chrysalis when it has matured and is ready to take flight, so does Dellarobia as she faces the growth and changes this visit from the butterflies brings to her life. The two story lines are woven together in a larger tapestry encompassing  faith, climate change, relationships, responsibility, love, life, birth and death, and all is examined with both honesty and humor by Ms. Kingsolver.

Dellarobia, her young, precocious son, Preston, her disapproving mother-in-law, and her faithful but distant husband, as well as the scientist who comes to study the butterflies, all emerge from their winter, their life chrysalis as spring arrives, changed and armed with new insights and knowledge which force them to face matters long ignored and deeply buried.

And in this small microcosm Ms. Kingsolver has created, we see ourselves.  Climate change, global warming, whatever you want to call it is a reality we will have to deal with. We will have to change our attitudes for whether or not we are the cause of the changes, it is obvious something is happening and as stewards of our world, it is up to us to figure it out. Hurricanes and tornadoes are stronger and more frequent, temperatures more mild in the south well into December, droughts plague many areas on Earth, other places experience floods. Firestorms rage , heavy snow falls, ice caps melt.  There is no doubt the climate has become destabilized.  What this means to our survival as well as the other species inhabiting the planet with us, and on whom we depend for building materials, drugs, food, etc.must be determined and steps taken to turn things around before it is too late.

On our visit to Alaska this year, the naturalists at the Mendenhall Glacier explained how the glacier was receding faster than expected. On our whale watch they talked of ecosystems and how the very large depend on the very small for survival.  And the very small are speaking out, their story one of over-use, or over-development. Why are the tree frogs disappearing.? and the bees? Where have the masses of krill, which feed the mighty whales gone? Why is the cherry tree blooming in December? And what will the polar bears do when the last of the ice shelves melt?  What will we  do?

We can choose to be believers in a prosperous future, as Ms. Kingsolver writes in her collection of essays, Small Wonder:

we are much to clever an animal, it seems, to kill ourselves now. This is the lot I was cast, to sit here on this jagged point between two centuries when so much of everything hangs in the balance. I get to choose whether to hang it up or hang on, and I hang on because I was born to do it, like everyone else. I insist that I can do something right, if I try. I insist that you can, too, that in fact you already are, and there’s a whole lot more where this came from…

….What I can find is this, and so it has to be: conquering my own despair by doing what little I can.  Stealing thunder, tucking it in my pocket for the long drought. Dreaming in the color green, tasting the end of anger…..Maybe it doesn’t cost anything to hope, and those of us who do will be able to live better, more honest lives as believers than we would as cynics…Maybe life doesn’t get much better than this, or any worse, and what we get is just what we’re willing to find: small wonders, where they grow…

Blossoms and butterflies.  Small Wonders.

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How sad it would be to lose these forever

How sad it would be to lose these forever

Staying in Focus: Finding Time for Friendship

Why do we let so much time pass without getting together with our friends? Last night I had  a group of special ladies over for our annual Christmas gathering.   I have known these gals for many years.IMG_1165 crop Several of them worked with me at the Sylvan Learning  Center, others came as friends of a group member and were drawn into the fold  .We formed a book group,  meeting once a month to discuss the book we’d chosen to read, but mostly we used the time to catch up with one another. New members joined, others left when they moved out of the area, but a core group of us  persisted.  After a while, though, we all became so busy that meeting once a month became difficult.  But we always make an effort to gather together every Christmas when we pledge to get together soon, and the next thing we know, it’s December again.

We had a good time last night, sharing the ups and downs of the past year.  There were, sadly, the loss of parents and divorces among our grown children to report.  We discussed everything from  dealing with illness, and questions about retirement, to the challenges of figuring out our smart phones!  And, of course, pictures of the grandchildren to pass around.

So many changes and adjustments to make or contemplate accrue in our lives over the course of a year and there is nothing like having a group of supportive, sympathetic friends to lend and ear or give you a hug when you need one.  It sends a message we all need to hear, an assurance that we are not alone. But the reality is, our lives are very complicated and the demands on our time and energy are many.  No wonder the days pass like an express train racing through our lives.

They call us the sandwich generation, an apt description.  Sandwiched between the needs of aging parents and our children, many of whom fail to be fledged, returning to the nest, sometimes with fledglings of their own in tow. Today we have our parents living longer, which is a blessing,  although medical problems can make it difficult for them to handle things on their own.  We want to keep them with us  as long as possible but caring for them can become a full-time job. Then there are our children, dealing with job loss or failed marriages, needing financial assistance, or even a roof over their heads and someone to watch the little ones while they work. Sandwiched indeed!  But at a time when we are feeling the effects of aging, too, with illnesses and fatigue of our own to handle. We see retirement slipping further and further away. We get discouraged and often depressed

But every now and then, we need to slip away and seek comfort and a sense of renewal. Caregivers must never forget to care for themselves  And what better way than an evening spent in the company of supportive friends, willing to share the joys and sorrows, the hopes and the fears, the challenges and the changes we face everyday?  I think we all need more of this . We’re not looking for answers, just for someone to listen.

This quote by Benjamin Franklin comes to mind: “Dost thou love life? Then do not squander time for that is the stuff life is made of.”   So look out ladies.  I’ll be  calling. Maybe in the spring, a trip to Fearrington or Duke Gardens will be in our future.

This year is going to be different.  This year we are getting together again before t the Christmas decorations go up. ( Unless, of course, I don’t get a chance to take them down till next December!)

Staying in Focus: Have We found Our Missing Murray?

Please refer to my previous post “Where is Murray?” 11/11/12 before reading this one.

Now, I know I said I wasn’t a politically oriented person, but I had an interesting thought while watching the President at his news conference the other day. He was asked if there was a role Mitt Romney could play in this current crises and the President said he planned to speak with him and he said the skill set Mr. Romney exhibited in hosting the Olympics were skills that could be applied to our current needs.

And this is when I thought, could Mitt Romney be our missing Murray? Is it possible?Wouldn’t that be something! To see in action what these candidates claim over and over during their campaigns – party affiliation aside, we are running because we love this country and want what is best for all Americans.

Mr. Romney, you could make history here. You could show us you are a leader and a problem solver by working with the President on this fiscal problem, find out exactly where the wasteful spending is and turn the government into an efficient, well-oiled machine.  The President said he is willing to listen to options. I say, Mr. Romney, go for it. Put the election behind you and look ahead to see how you can serve your country now.

It would be a bold move, but if ever there was a time we need our leaders to work together for the common good, this is it.  This could be your moment.  You could be the catalyst we are looking for.

And what an example that would be to both parties in Congress. If the Republican’s  top guy can put differences on the back burner and reach across the aisle, sleeves rolled up and pastrami sandwiches ready to go, isn’t it possible the rest might follow.? And the Democrats, not wanting to be left out would join in,too? One for all and all for one?

The clock is ticking here, guys.  As it looks now, you’ll be working into the wee hours of New Year’s Eve, playing your game of chicken – who will blink first, or you could be really doing what we sent you there to do – making good policy for this nation, approving a budget we can all live with. and be the Congress that made a difference.

I said in my post a few days ago, that I wanted to be proud of my country again This might do the trick.  Being able to watch our elected representatives actually put differences aside and get this country back on track would be a major accomplishment. You can be sure when the next election rolls round, what transpires in the next few weeks will definitely be on all our minds. Who rallied when we needed it most? Did our leadership act in time, or did they fail to meet our expectations once again.?

As difficult and exhausting as it will be, won’t it be better to have a workable budget when all is said and done, rather than holding out empty hands filled with empty promises?

You,  Mr. Romney could help the President keep us from falling off that fiscal cliff.  You could help forge a new mindset in Washington. You could be our missing Murray.

Or not.

It’s up to you, I guess, to decide if you are an American first and foremost. I’d like to think you are.

Why not give it a try?