Moments

Staying in Focus: Sweet Sixteen: The Bracelet

Daily Post: Sweet Sixteen

Write a post inspired by your sixteenth birthday

On my sixteenth birthday, I received a silver charm bracelet from my parents. Dangling from the silver chain was one round charm with the words “Sweet Sixteen” embossed on it. I wrote this poem last year, for a poetry class I was taking at the time. It is now an entry in my scrapbook memoir.

the bracelet

reflecting the spring  sun

with a delightful sparkle

I move my arm gently

to hear the delicate tinkle

of a single charm

IMG_2626

“sweet sixteen”

dangling alone from a

bracelet of silver links

empty but waiting, like me

to be filled with the moments

of my life;

reflecting the autumn sun in a

burst of brilliance,

so many memories dangle now

filling the links, elbowing for attention,                    IMG_2628

places I’ve been,

milestones, celebrations

an aspen leaf, a graduation cap, a heart

here and there, a  few scratches

mark the passage of time

but the sparkle remains

and the once delicate tinkle

is louder now,  confident

sounding more like wind chimes

singing their song in the

blowing wind,  singing

the moments of my life –

pc 2013

I will leave both my silver and gold charm bracelets to my granddaughter, Evelyn. I have identified each charm on the bracelets, and what it meant to me, so she’ll know a little more about me and the things that mattered most to me, the places I visited  and the hobbies I pursued. We continue to exist as long as someone remembers us and a charm bracelet is a great starting point to adding color to those memories.

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Staying In Focus: Love is All We Need

Although 2014 has not started out as auspiciously as I had hoped, there is a certain balance to the universe that can bring us some measure of peace. One of the people I wrote about earlier, my friend’s husband, who fought a valiant fight against cancer, passed away on December 27th.  I now have four friends, who are widows far sooner than they ever expected, but their strength and courage in care giving and in facing the death of their partner in life, is a true testament to the power of love – to love them enough to let them go.

But hiding in the shadow of death and loss, is the promise of new life.  For even as my friend and her family were dealing with the loss of their beloved husband and father, their good friend received news of the birth of her new grandson.  One soul departs this world, and another soul enters it. Life goes on, renewing itself, generation after generation.  And what fuels it is love. As the Buddha said, “In the end these things matter most:  How well did you love? How fully did you love? How deeply did you learn to let go?”

Some of us reach a ripe old age and others are lost far too young.  We don’t know how much time we have and so we mustn’t waste it.  We must love with all our  heart for as long as we live and the universe will find its balance – a man who loved his family; a new baby surrounded by the love of family. As crazy and cruel as the world  is, I prefer to stay an optomist. Lorraine Hansberry sums it up nicely. “I wish to live because life has with it that which is good, that which is beautiful and that which is love. “  And, as those of us who grew up in the 60’s know, love is all we  need.

Staying in Focus: Daily Prompt: Don’t Miss the Magic

Daily Prompt: You have been transformed into a mystical being who has the ability to do magic. Describe your new abilities in detail. How will you use your new skills?

Don’t Miss the Magic

One really doesn’t have to be a mystical being to experience magic, for magic is all around us, unfolding every day; but were I a mystical being, my task would be simple:  to open people’s eyes to the magic that surrounds them.

There is magic in the rising sun IMG_8448as it heralds the break of day. There is magic in the wisps of fog, which wreathe a distant mountaintop, and in crystal dew, shining like diamonds in the morning sun.

There is magic in the delicate wings of a butterfly Photo05_3and the intricate veins of a leafIMG_8125

There is the magic of birdsong in the morning, and in the mystery of the stars in the evening sky. There is magic in the velvet petal of a rose,IMG_0015 - Copy
in the first flower of spring and the vibrant leaves that dress the trees in autumn splendor.IMG_2260

I see magic in the very existence of bubbles,

a bubble armada

jellyfishIMG_0973 - Copy - Copy - Copy

My Whale Ivory

My Whale Ivory

 


and whales.

 There is magic in birth, the creation of life; the soft touch of a newborn baby’s skinevelyn2and in a hug from a 20130828_190029great grandchild. 

Where would we be without the magic of family?coyle family

and friendship:

Pat and Bill,Geoff and Denise Pat and Kathi; 1971 IMG_1165 cropMost of all, there is magic in falling in love,n1015159936_332755_8561 in living a life together, sharing and enjoying he magic that is our world.IMG

Don’t let it slip by unrecognized. Take time to see it, feel it and enjoy it for momentary is our life and elusive the magic it brings.

Staying in Focus: A Day For Giving Thanks

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

On this day I am thankful :

For sweeping skies of crystal blue
And mighty mountains standing tall
For the new grown green of early spring
And the brightly colored leaves of fall
For butterflies and singing birds
Morning light and summer showers
Treasured books, filled with words
A special place to read for hours
For Christmas trees and twinkling lights
For gathering with those most dear
For silent snow that frosts the night
And dreams of peace to conquer fear
For delicate flowers and a star-spangled sky
For the marvel that is our universe
For the sense of wonder as we try
To unravel things mysterious
For the light and warmth of the golden sun
For ocean waves that rush to shore
For spending time just having fun
With my grandkids, whom I adore
For Bill, who loves and cares for me
For my family, how I love them so
For friends and good times most carefree
For all there is to learn and know
And all the things still left to do
I’m filled with heartfelt gratitude
– pc 2012

May we  take time on this special day to express thanks for the gifts we are given – our beautiful world and the people who surround us with love and support, and to celebrate our most precious gift that of life itself.  Let us not take it for granted or squander the time we are given for it is not infinite, which makes it all the more precious. Today is the perfect day to smooth over harsh words and soothe hurt feelings, to express your appreciation for  the people in your life and the world in all its beauty. Enjoy this day, relax, and  really take the time to notice each special moment – the smile on  a baby’s face, reading a book to your grandchild, telling your son or daughter how much you love them, taking a walk together in the bright sunshine, or playing in the snow. These are the moments you and they will remember. The shopping can wait until tomorrow.

Staying in Focus: Focus On: My Last Day

I am so far behind in keeping up with the daily prompts. I am trying to finish the final rewrite of a book project, design calendars for Christmas giving, and write my annual Christmas poem and a bunch of other stuff, including playing  a seemingly innocuous game on the internet called Candy Crush Saga. Beware, it can take over your life!  A recent prompt asked how I would spend my last day on earth.  Here is my plan

On my last day on earth I would want to spend time with my friends and family, but as they may have their own  agenda as to how to spend their last day,  I will outline mine..

I would begin the day at sea, rising before the sun, and watching it as it appears over the horizon. There is nothing more profound than a sunrise at sea. Once on shore I will don my yoga clothes and run through a few routines of the sun salutation on the beach and then meditate to the sound of the waves rolling to the shore. I’d lie on the sand and look up at the sky and try to find objects and faces in the clouds. I loved to do this when I was young, a child’s form of meditation, I guess.

I would try to eat some of my favorite foods throughout the day including a Peanut Butter Bash from Dairy Queen, a sweet potato dripping in real butter and sprinkled with cinnamon, a double chocolate donut from Dunkin Donuts, a cup of IHOP coffee and a stack of pancakes with original syrup, Butterfly Shrimp from the China Paradise restaurant in Wayne, NJ, an Entenmann’s crumb cake, a Reese’s peanut butter bunny and a large order of hot, McDonald’s fries.

I would watch my favorite movie, Gone With the Wind. I’d also like to watch While You Were Sleeping, Love Actually, Groundhog Day and the Muppets Christmas Carol, during which I will eat as much buttered movie popcorn as I can.   I would watch the last episode of Babylon 5(because it makes me cry), all the Firefly episodes (because it was the best sci/fi series on TV) and Star Trek 5 because everyone else hates it but me, but there are only twenty-four hours in a day, unless I can fly to an earlier time zone. I’ll have to work on that one.

Then I would fly to Sitka, Alaska, with as many friends and family members as are willing to go . We’ll gather round a large fire  and sit under the stars and talk or think about only the good and beautiful aspects of our lives  and the world.

I ‘d  listen to the songs on my iPod:  John Denver, Mike Nesmith, the Monkees, The Beatles,  Sir Paul McCartney, James Blunt, The Plain White Ts, The Moody Blues, Enya and even scary Rob (Thomas). Listening to music, surrounded by mountains and the people I love, is the way I’d like to go…

What I will not do on my last day on earth is count calories, eat lettuce, listen to ‘What Does the Fox Say’ , take my meds (won’t matter anymore) exercise (except for yoga),or waste another minute of my fast diminishing life playing Candy Crush Saga.

I’ll gaze at the stars for a while, saddened that I never had the chance to discover what the universe is really all about. Then I will sit quietly and look to the horizon, until the sun fails to appear and everything fades to black.

Staying in Focus:Weekly Writing Challenge: My Rocky Road

Weekly Writing Challenge: Fit to Write

The Rocky Road

I was cruising right along
when this rocky path appeared
and now I have been walking it
for many trying years
and yet it leads me onward
there’ve been obstacles, I fear
but despite the looming shadows
I have no time for tears
each day I have, I celebrate
this precious gift I’m given
and I for one have vowed to make
each one a day worth living
so moment by moment, mindfully
I take a step most carefully
along this steep and rocky road
trying not to stumble
I strive to end each day
with hope in a new tomorrow
my heart assured, my spirit free
safe within the circle
of my  friends and family,
I choose to dwell on happiness
and not waste time on sorrow.
2013 pc

One day I am living my life, happy in my home, surrounded by friends and family and the next day I receive a diagnosis that changes my picture perfect life forever. Life can be like that, and we must learn to roll with the punches.

I had noticed changes in my body a few years before diagnosis, but caught in a difficult passage through menopause, I attributed some of it – the anxiety especially, to that.  And then, in 2007, a routine colonoscopy found a polyp that we did not know was cancer until after surgery.  The anesthesiologist I had for that procedure suggested I see a neurologist for the tremor I was experiencing. I followed through once I had recovered from the colon cancer operation, already certain of the answer –Parkinson ’s disease.

And now, 6 years later, I am still living my life, happy in my home, surrounded by friends and family, but living a life quite different from what I had expected. Now I must take 3 prescription drugs, 2 of them 3 times a day to facilitate walking, control the tremor, and slow down the progression of the disease. 3 additional medications address my blood pressure, anxiety and thyroid. For dessert I have folic acid, a multi-vitamin, vitamin D, 4 fish oil capsules, and a full size aspirin to complete my daily feast of meds. Then there is exercise. I have a small, powered stationary bike that I use every day, keeping the rotations above 80/per minute, aerobic walking using the Leslie Sansone Walk at Home programs on DVD, followed by yoga for flexibility or tai chi for balance. I also lift weights three times a week for strength training. It takes a big chunk out of my day but it beats the alternative. I complete my regime with a relaxing meditation

Fortunately, I am 5+ years out from the cancer surgery and so far so good. I have had a total of 7 colonoscopies to monitor things and I see an oncologist twice a year and take an aspirin daily. So far my regime has been successful in keeping me moving and slowing down the PD. This summer we took a cruise to the British Isles and I walked every day. We did an “On the Deck 5K Walk for the Cure” around the ship. So although I’ve  had to make major changes (retiring and giving up driving).  I have adjusted to life along this Rocky Road.  I take each day as it comes and try to treat it as the gift it is. I allow myself time to continue to grow and learn new things through online classes, visits to museums, and writing poetry, my memoir and currently, a middle grade children’s novel. Spending time with family and friends is paramount in keeping up the spirits and continuing to participate in life.

My mother endured months of bedrest to  avoid miscarrying me, so that I am here at all is a wonder; that I’ve lived 60 years and have had a marvelous life filled with love and support from my family and friends, and have been married for 37 years to my soul mate and best friend my husband, Bill, is simply miraculous.

Since I can’t know whether the road remains rocky the rest of the way, or smooths out for me for a time, I continue to walk along it (as best I can) try to keep healthy and fit to write and celebrate the gifts each new day brings.

Staying in Focus: Daily Prompt: State of My Year

Daily Prompt: State of My Year

Over the course of a lifetime we all have ups and downs, experience highs and lows and this year has been a microcosm of a lifetime, with moments of sheer delight mixed with those of sadness and concern.

My mother began the year in relatively good health not knowing the year would bring another bout of breast cancer, a second mastectomy and a grueling experience with chemo. My sister and I watched as the vibrant woman my mother was began to fade away as the chemo ravaged her body. The doctors suspended that course and are trying to suppress the cancer with another treatment. She is at peace with her choice to live her last days with as much quality to her life as she can. She was able to attend her granddaughter’s wedding, and party with family and friends to celebrate her 90th birthday in May.  We do not know how much time she has, but at least for now, she is back to her old self and celebrating every day she is given.

Just a few weeks ago, my good friend, Debbi, was diagnosed with breast cancer and is beginning her treatment.  She is a strong woman and I know she will beat this. I sincerely hope a cure for this disease is found soon.

On the upside we traveled to Atlanta this summer to meet up with our friends, Kathi and Don for a weekend to follow the Gone with the Wind Trail, and see the Braves play baseball at Turner Field. Our friends from Poughkeepsie, Denise and Geoff, have decided to move here finally (we’ve hounded them for years) and we had the weddings of two of our nieces to celebrate, one which took place in June and one which will take place in October.

We took a 12 cruise around the British Isles, and spent 2 days in London before flying home. We had a wonderful time. Bill was able to see the church in Ireland where his great grandparents were married; we walked in the footsteps of the Beatles, his all-time favorite group, and were able to walk through John and Paul’s boyhood homes. When we got home, we had the chance to see my favorite all time group, The Monkees. It was the first time I had ever seen my favorite, Mike Nesmith, in concert.  Our boys went with us and it was a rocking evening. Add to all that, the Atlanta Braves are in first place in their division, and there is plenty of reason to celebrate life.

My colonoscopy this year was all clear, and five years from surgery, that is a good sign. My Parkinson’s disease, now, is being handled by exercise and medication.  I choose to live moment to moment, and not worry about what is to come – a cure for both my mom and me could be just around the corner.

Given the choice, I think most of us would choose life despite the pitfalls and challenges that may await us in the days and years ahead. So at mid-year I have to say, we are doing pretty well, all things considered. We are here to watch the sun rise every morning, celebrate each precious day, and enjoy what time we have with family and friends. We move forward not knowing what lies before us, but because life beckons us to do so…

.

Staying in Focus: Final Thoughts and What I Learned on My Summer Vacation

Some final thoughts and musings on the best vacation ever. And what I learned on my summer vacation this year.

1. One of the things I enjoy the most about cruises is the escape. Just for a little while,  I am transported into a different world. A world where food is prepared for me, served elegantly,  and I don’t have to clean up afterward.  A world where my bed is made in the morning,  turned down at night, with a chocolate resting on my pillow. I can be pampered  at the spa, or relax  in the hot tub after a long day of sightseeing while I watch movies under the stars. In the theatre, talented singers and dancers entertain me. Numerous clubs offer after dinner drinks, trivia games, karaoke, dancing and entertainment.  A little TLC is welcome every now and then and the cruise lines have this down to a science.

2. I love waking up each morning somewhere else!

3. And the ships themselves, tastefully decorated and impeccably clean. I applaud the Princess and Holland America Lines for their excellence in this regard. Until I saw one up close , I had no idea how big these ships are and my admiration also goes to the captain and the crew who manage to steer these floating hotels.4

4. On this cruise I had the opportunity to complete a  “Walk on the Deck for the Cure,” in honor of my mother and my friend, Debbi, who are fighting breast cancer. I applaud the social director who set this up  and gave us  a chance to be socially involved while on the high seas. We had to complete 6 circuits of the ship to make the 5K goal. I was proud of myself, at 60 and with Parkinson’s disease , to have completed the walk. Below is a picture of me, still standing! A wonderful opportunity to take part in such a worthy cause.

5. In addition to making each moment of our cruise one to remember, the cruise line was so helpful in transporting us to our hotel in London, and two days later driving us out to the airport  for our flight home.

6. One of the nicest advantages of taking a cruise is the fellowship we quickly develop with the other passengers and the crew as well. A few dinners in the dining room, playing trivia in the lounges and taking excursions, and the faces begin to look familiar and  a camaraderie soon develops.

On our cruise last year , our social director, John, pointed out how, during the cruise, for a week people from all over the world spent time together aboard ship, shared a dinner table and conversation and  were considerate of  each other.   In other words, we all got along and if we could do it for a week, certainly  the rest of the world could do it , too, if they reall.y tried. This year our cruise lasted 12 days and again, people got along. Perhaps the answer is putting everyone on a cruise ship – wouldn’t that be fun! But we  can’t stay on vacation forever, and we need to find ways to be tolerant and accepting of others in the everyday world.

And what I learned on my summer vacation this year is just how similar we all are, no matter where we call home I was sitting in the Edinburgh Castle in Scotland,  finishing my soft drink and just watching the people walk by, and I thought, you know, I can’t tell if this group walking by is English, or Canadian or Australian. They are just  people enjoying  a tour of the castle on a sunny afternoon in Scotland. Mothers pushed their babies in strollers, backpacks were slung over shoulders, young people wore jeans and T-shirts, most of them with some sort of “smart” electronic device in their hands.

I realized, then, that what seemed most different about the countries we visited was not the people, but the scenery. Basically, people are just people wherever you go. Our similarities are far more numerous than our differences. I didn’t feel like  a stranger in a strange land, I felt a part of the people gathered here at the castle . Later in the trip, on a walk through Green Park in London, there were people playing frisbee, and soccer, people sitting on lawn chairs and resting on blankets spread on the ground just enjoying  a warm summer night in England, a scene I’m sure was repeated all over the globe that day.

I wonder why it is so hard for us to  celebrate our shared humanity,? Why not build on those things we share – families, home, life, love and watch the differences shrink away? As my friend from Liverpool once wrote “You may say I’m a dreamer..”  Maybe one  day dreams like this will become  reality.  But until then, I’ll remember , with fondness, the people I had a chance to meet and share a wonderful experience with, once upon a time, on a cruise. Here are some pictures of the beautiful Caribbean Princess, which carried us away and brought us together, if only for a little while.

Still standing after the 5K walk the deck for the cure

Still standing after the 5K walk the deck for the cure

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Staying in Focus: A Walk Along the Lake

upon the lake in early morn
the misty vapors rise
until the morning sun appears
to clear the azure skies
then sunlight sparkles on the lake
embraced by trees of greenIMG_0781
we pause to clear our minds
and absorb the peaceful scene
standing on the shoreline
lost in deep reflection
an early morning at the lake
a moment of perfection.
– pc 2013

Now for the promised virtual walk along the lake. When we arrive, the mists have flown and sunlight is in play. We spot a heron in the distance, rising from the deck and soaring into the air. IMG_0784The chatter of birds and the whoosh of the waves as they reach the  shore  are  a symphony of nature sounds. A line of  empty chairs gaze at the water and invite the weary visitor to rest and enjoy the viewIMG_0817. A lovely stone fountain gurgles nearby, and baskets of flowers hanging from lamp posts brings to mind a song by Simon and Garfunkel called ‘Feelin Groovy.’ I may be dating myself here, but I’ve always loved that song, part of which goes:
slow down, you move too fast
you’ve got to make the morning  last
just kicking down the cobblestone
looking for fun and feeling groovy..

Hello, lamppost, whatcha knowin?
I’ve come to watch your flowers growin…

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In addition to just sitting back and enjoying the view, one might take a canoe or kayak out more a morning row, and give your four-legged little friend a chance to swim.

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The rock garden and bubbling brook, with waterfalls, invite the birds to splash and play. If you put on your walking shoes, there are trails to follow if you have the time to immerse yourself in nature, and let go the stresses of life. Even a short visit, though, will fill you with appreciation of our beautiful world and the natural places just waiting for you to enjoy on a late spring morning at the lake.  I like the pattern the stacked canoes make as they await the weekend and a chance to glide through the waters of the lake, in the morning, under the sun.IMG_0806

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