Best Supporting Actress in a Dramatic Mini Series

IMG_1060And the Award goes to ….

Freeba, the Bear. The crowd erupts with cheering until an expectant hush falls, as the winner, dressed in Marcia Bear Born, makes her way regally to the microphone.

“There are so many humans who deserve this award far more than me. At the same time, it is an honor to finally be recognized and acknowledged for my work. It was a grueling role absorbing so many tears and fears through dark nights, all the while remaining silent about the miracle I knew would soon arrive. I spent years preparing for it with single-minded focus, and it is exhilarating to know I have fulfilled my life’s purpose.”

When asked about her next adventure, the divine Ms. F replied thoughtfully, “Dying may sometimes be difficult, but REALLY living – now that is a challenge. I am certain something wonderful will come along. Until then I am going to remain true to my calling of being a stand in for whomever Beth needs to fully embrace herself and life.”

Blessings to you all for a joyful, peace filled, and healthy New Year.

Posted in Life, Life with Deli Woman, love, mindfulness, Resiliency, soul | Tagged , , , , , , , | 21 Comments

Behold – the Miracle of a Christmas

IMG_1053I sit in my knitting spot, the comfy chair that used to be my mom’s. Snow flakes fall softly, the wind chime sounds delicately clear, and the wood stove punctuates this story with crackles and pops. The curious assortment of shipping boxes that beckoned from beneath my tree have been opened, their treasures revealed and their paper guardians cleared away.

IMG_1051From the outside looking in, it appears to be a rather ordinary day, except for the fact that I am not making sandwiches AND sporting a fairly daring ensemble of navy tights, red slippers, a knee length striped nightie, and my hot pink Underarmour sweatshirt.

There is a hint of magic hanging in the air. A tinge of excitement hums beneath the surface, creating a space to reflect on all the things that make life wealthy beyond measure.

Last night, I spent a few delightful hours with my special friends Patrick, Tim and their amazing family. As all good celebrations do, this one was made of a beautiful setting, good food, laughter, singing, merriment, stimulating conversation and love. What struck me though, besides my utter happiness in all of it, was how life leads us exactly where we are meant to be.

It is true, I have been fairly lost and a tad pathetic, since mom’s departure. I have also discovered things about myself I never knew, simply by virtue of being a caregiver who often put her needs above my own. Dawning now behind the sadness of “the first holiday season without mom”, comes the realization that she has bestowed upon  me with her passing, a great and miraculous gift.

It has been both terrifying and exhilarating to face the permanence of death and my mortality without her as a buffer. I have gone to bed many nights cold and shaken to my core by this ‘alone’ knowing. Now strangely, I feel liberated from something I can’t as yet name.

I am grateful for beloveds, friends, and family who have been witness to the despair of this past few months up close and personal, in all it’s full blown un-gracefulness – perhaps at times with concern or consternation. I am grateful for my beautiful home, resiliency, the slower pace of winter and the great abundance of love in my life.

Later today I am joining my wonderful neighbors to share Christmas dinner. I know we will have a joy filled time sitting around what used to be mom’s dining room table and sharing a fabulous meal.

Thank you mom, for launching me into the future with so much to be thankful for in my life.

And to all of you, may blessings of great joy and peace find a way to warm your day.

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Knitting for Sandwiches

Labors of Love

The week began with a trickle of vitality.  It created the sensation that begins to approximate coming closer to myself. I took this as a good sign and pushed ahead to complete two luxurious scarves that were mailed off to Detroit on Wednesday. In between ignoring pain by spending countless knitting hours by the fire I made many many sandwiches. The Panini’s and specialty sandwiches seem to be the most popular. At least my co-workers seem to enjoy them.

Some of my best customers

My dept. manager Dan

This makes Dan my dept. manager pretty happy, and that is a good thing.

I came out of work one day to snow on my car and while brushing it off, burst into tears at the discovery that another season has begun with Mom and Molly still gone. I figured it is time to face that they are not coming back. So on my way home I picked up a small Christmas tree.

The bright lights remind me of the continuity and renewal of life. It is hard to be down when there is so much color glowing in a corner, and it was also wonderful unwrapping ornaments not seen during the years of caring for mom.IMG_1017

Saturday was the monthly service in South Natick with my Natick Praying Indians family. Afterwards many of us gathered for a holiday feast. There was lots of good food, and laughter.

Earlier that day I had spent several hours cooking wonderful dishes and plating them on mom’s serving pieces. My mom, in fact both my parents, were wonderful at entertaining. I felt guided by her in some small measure while selecting the table linens, dishes, and decor. She may not have been able to relate to Native Regalia or Christmas trees but she sure knew what to consider in making a good party, and she taught me well.

Chief Caring Hands and her family had a wonderful time and it was great to feel the house filled with the possibility of friendship.

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Herb made a beautiful cake to celebrate both Peter and Harry’s birthdays. The kids had a great time helping to blow out the candles.

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There were wonderful conversations flowing easily around the room as we all learned more about each other than we knew before.

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M'lkebet, Medicine Deer, and Strong Bull

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By the time the evening ended it with Herb, Kim and Hannah helping with clean-up, it was way past my bedtime. Oddly, although exhausted, I also felt full and complete in a way I haven’t experienced in a long time.

Getting into bed warmed by the after glow of good food, thought provoking conversation, and laughter, I was smiling. I couldn’t help but think about mom and how she unknowingly orchestrated my introduction to the very people who monthly, have become so pivotal to my recovery.

Though things are still difficult, there are signs that life is slowly but surely re-asserting itself and that my friends is a HUGE relief. This knowing makes it possible to go on making sandwiches for six hours a day with one fifteen minute break, and working my knitting therapy the rest of the time. I may not have the capacity to share too much these days, but believe me, there is plenty good goin’ on.

Posted in Life, Life with Deli Woman, love, mindfulness, Post grief recovery, Resiliency, soul, Success, truth | 17 Comments

Severe Weather Alert

By night I am tossed by staggering swells of grief in the face of flashbacks of my mothers last days and the feeling of Molly’s head tucked against my tummy as she breathed her last breath. By day I am shredded by gusts of pain, left over feet vs car incident this past summer. Yet I remain. I refuse to be swept away. A tad battered, and somewhat bruised, I am DETERMINED to ride out these waves. Like all storms at sea this will either dissipate or make landfall eventually and all will be calm again.

I wrote that last week, shut down my computer and turned away from all of you who support, love, and read my blog. I apologize, but I simply didn’t feel I could pour negativity over all who themselves are facing so much. This week things are better.

I lash myself to the mast with spinach eggs, way too much coffee, and a little makeup to approximate an outward appearance of normal vitality. Driving through the dark I sing along with Donald Lawrence’s, Go Get Your Life Back, an oldie but much needed goodie. While recounting my blessings one by one, (of which there are MANY) I remember to send love to all the places and situations I could be living that would be so much worse. I can do this.

Driving into the employee parking lot, while recognizing the permanence and completeness of death, I access memories of past success, and methods of coping. I remind myself that my body will adjust, and eventually the physical pain will subside. After all isn’t cooking, cleaning, and service how I have made my life for the past few years? I can do this.

Before punching the time-clock, I face the mirror to position my glasses, apron, and hat. Gazing into red rimmed eyes I repeat   – “You can do this and you will. It is only six hours. This is a good job, working with wonderful people, and you like making sandwiches.” Resolutely walking through the friendly packaging of the Nature’s Promise aisle on the way to my station I am happy to have a purpose for the day.

Who knew that sandwich making was so complex? It is wonderful to be busy and I mean BUSY from the moment I step to my post until check out time. It is great concentrating on freshness, quality, presentation, sales, and the finesse of creating edible works of art from various breads, meats, cheeses, produce, and condiments. I do take great pride when one of my Buffalo Chicken or Little Italy Panini’s flies off the shelf.

Returning home, it has been all I can do to rebuild the fire, and sit knitting while recovering from liver damaging amounts of ibuprofen. The good news is I have finished three exquisite scarves now, which have gone a long way to coax my quaking spirit back towards bravery. On the other hand I have neglected you, and for that I apologize.

Thanks for listening. Thanks for caring and for sticking by me through this challenging time. Blessings and peace to all of you. I hope next week will be better. Much love.

Posted in Life, Life with Deli Woman, love, mindfulness, Overcoming Obstacles, Post grief recovery, Resiliency, soul, Success, truth | Tagged , , , , , , | 28 Comments

That’s the Way – uh huh, uh huh – I slice it ….

Disco Momma 1975

My apologies to KC and the Sunshine Band, but this is what continues to roll around in my head as I contemplate the deli department. I am fascinated by the idea that there may be a connection between my 1975 disco dazed platform shoe wearing self and my latest persona of Deli woman, even though I have no idea what it may be.

It seems fairly obvious that thinking about safe food handling, store protocols, and the infinite nuances of Boar’s Head product varieties leaves little room for either grief or disco. Perhaps this is a good thing on both counts.

I look in the mirror these days and barely recognize the woman I see. I am not talking about the process of aging, although it does seem to have accelerated this past year. I am speaking of the ongoing and continuing process of transformation that plays out on my face as I explore living for the first time in well over 20 years in an environment without a single live being, human or four-legged breathing along with me.

Do I bear a striking or even faded resemblance to the woman in all the mirrors that have come before? Who was the caregiver, Pilates devotee, rower, co-worker, mom, photographing, beading, adventurous, beach combing, disco mamma passionate Beth? Where do these parts of me now reside? Is it possible to repurpose the qualities that contributed to each of those roles? Is there a way to coax at least some of them back; nuanced now with added depth of textures and flavors that the recent years have brought?

There are times when the silence of my home is peaceful and welcoming. It is luxurious to get up in the middle of a sleepless night to bake, knit, do laundry, or listen to music without having to consider waking anyone. There is joy in coming home tired from work and eating a handful of pretzels on the couch instead of cooking dinner. And yet…

I am finding my way, even through the crying that accompanies, stacking the last cord of wood, hearing the heartbeat of the drum during the Micmac Honor Song at church, Molly’s collar falling out of the closet as I reach for my hat, or coming home from work in so much pain that I can not move.

I begin to contemplate the honor in food preparation and service from a new angle.  I look forward to a day, when there may be another place mat or place mats joining mine on the kitchen table as I create an elaborately luxurious meal to share.

After all, “That’s the Way… Uh Huh Uh Huh, … I slice it.”

Posted in Life, Life with Deli Woman, love, mindfulness, Overcoming Obstacles, Post grief recovery, Resiliency, Success | Tagged , , , | 24 Comments

Damsels in Distress – A Dime a Dozen

Bit of a glitch this week finding time off from anxiety about the election outcome, impending storms, and both unpaid bills/taxes, to post something inspiring. Just keeping it real dear readers, for while gratitude for each little victory continues to run high, discouragement is nipping at my heels.

Taking care of other people in is a great job, and one that I enjoy tremendously. At the same time, unfortunately, they cancel dates or change schedules with regularity, making it very tough to pay bills, or schedule other life necessities with any predictable consistency.

In an effort to reinstate a sense of control over my life, and refusing to take on the role of ‘Damsel in Distress’ – I will be training this coming Saturday for my latest position at the Deli counter at a new Stop & Shop in our community. It is honest work for which I am grateful, and I am looking forward to being in a stimulating environment learning new things.

I went to orientation last night in the height of the wintry storm, and wondered often what I was doing in a room with six other trainees who ranged in age from 15 – 18 listening to a talk about customer service. As time went on though, I enjoyed being focused on things like safe food handling, and store protocols. I even managed to get a few rows of my latest knitting project done on my break!

My new job is only six miles from home, and although not really a good color for me, I like the idea of my cheery new uniform, (gold jersey, black apron, matching ball cap and slip free shoes). The fact that I won’t need to buy clothes is a bonus.

Oh, and have you ever looked at images for damsels in distress? I was surprised to find that the overwhelming majority of them have to do with bondage and pornography. What’s up with that?

And to all our Veteran’s past, present, and future, we thank you for your service.

Here’s praying as I head ‘off to a good start’, opening to the next version of this strong resilient woman. Blessed be.

Posted in eldercare caregiving rowing baking midlife enlightenment, Life, Overcoming Obstacles, Resiliency, soul, Success | Tagged , , , , , | 19 Comments

After –

By now, many of you may be tired of hearing about Tropical Storm Sandy. For me, it was one more first, being alone in the biggest storm in recent memory and so I ask your forgiveness and tolerance for what I am about to write.

The height of the storm was terrifying, even for one who loves big storms. It was loud and unrelenting. In all the years of watching storms here, it is hard to recall a time when the tallest tree in our yard bent so oddly.

Throughout Monday afternoon and well into the evening, things crashed, banged and swooshed. There were a few people out at different points testing the strength of the wind, but not for long. I myself went out a couple of times in the evening to feel the storm, but did not venture away from the house. Very few cars went by.

I spent the better part of the day sitting by the fire, trying to remain calm while finishing the first of many scarves that will be knitted this fall.  Listening to the clacking needles, the fire, wind, rain, crashing, and my pounding heart, I thought about the impermanence of life and all who were in harm’s way. Each stitch contained a prayer, a worry, a hope and a dream. It took many hours but eventually my mind had relinquished control over outcome, and I started to relax.

A golden thread of care connected me to loved ones in British Columbia, Detroit, Ottawa, Northboro, and neighbors, who checked in regularly throughout the long day.

The houses at my end of the street retained power, but the very next house, and most of the neighborhood in every direction, was in complete darkness by nightfall. I went to bed, with my flashlight, cellphone, and shoes within easy reach. It was a marathon vigil, as if staying awake would in some way prevent disaster.

At some point, I must have fallen asleep, because I woke up about 4 am, and kissed Freeba the bear, who was doing her best as Molly’s stand in. I said my first prayer for those who did not survive, and one for those who did, and then jumped out of bed.  Barefoot, dressed only in my nightie, just as I had done the night I summoned the grandmothers to help with mom, I headed out into the grey, half-moon and partially approaching day light of the backyard.

Amazingly, although the lawn looked like an easter egg hunt made of branches, the trees remained. There was a drain pipe that had blown down which was easily repositioned, and a few places on the house where corners of siding had lifted. I laughed out loud at the tickle of wet leaves that covered my feet like a pair of slippers. Tears immediately flooded my eyes, and joy filled my heart. Gratitude spilled into every pore and crevice of my body.

The photos above were all taken the morning after the storm in a small four block radius from my house, beginning with the one two doors up. The music is Fairy of the Woods, by Gary Stadler.

Venturing out later in the day with a neighbor, we discovered the damage in other parts our community were far more extensive and dangerous.

Throughout the day, there were a steady stream of neighbors plugging things in, putting food in the freezer, and even a beloved who came to bake a cake for her husbands 50th birthday. Things took on a holiday air. No one spoke of it much, being New Englanders and all, but it was a celebration of our survival. I am grateful to all who offered comfort and support.

My heart is heavy for those who sustained loss and injury of unimaginable proportions. May they find the comfort of healing in the recovery ahead and gratitude for all that remains.

Posted in Life, love, mindfulness, Overcoming Obstacles, Resiliency, soul, Success | Tagged , , , , | 38 Comments