Tag Archives: joy

Hebrews 13:2

Standard

This is a true story.

After dealing with LabCorp today and getting nowhere, I decided to run errands. It was sooo hot I wore a tank top and my tattoo sleeves.

I found a penny by the car, money side up. This has happened to me so often when I’ve been concerned about my finances that I’ve taken to calling it angel money.

In Tuesday Morning, I was a little annoyed at having to wait on the cashier to finish her story. So I eavesdropped.

She said to the customer in front of me, “And then this little boy sitting behind me pulled three roses out of the arrangement and handed them to three different women. I took it as a sign that meant everything is just going to be OK.”

In Kroger, I was a little annoyed at having to wait on a woman talking on her cell phone at the salad bar, who was dawdling over the romaine. So I eavesdropped on her, too.

She said, “She’s got about two weeks to go on her treatment. There’s a whole list of people praying and pulling for her.”

At least half a dozen people stopped to admire my tattoo sleeves and were shocked they weren’t ink. Young men smiled at me and stepped politely aside. Young women asked where they could get them for themselves.

A guy more my age followed me around the gourmet section and asked me on a date.

I told him I was expensive.

He said, “I’ve got Mama’s money until they cut me off.”

I laughed and kept walking, but in hindsight I should have asked him to pay my lab bill. I’m sure Mama wouldn’t mind.

This is what happens when people like you offer prayers and healing energy. A flock of angels arrive with messages of hope and joy — and even romance, or something like it. And they seem to be in no hurry to move out of my way.

Thanks for your contributions of love and money. I’ll keep you posted.

 

Forget not to shew love unto strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. ~ Hebrews 13:2, English Revised Version

Advertisements

Bill

Standard
Bill

There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. ~ I John 4:18.

In J school we were taught not to bury the lead. But this is my blog and I can do what I want to because I am a grownup.

I remember a sermon decades ago; the minister was saying that John was the Love Apostle and in his gospel account of Jesus’ life, John was just getting warmed up.

The intro in my Bible to I John says his gospel and three books were all written around the same time and that II John was written to a Chosen Lady, who may have been a person or who may have been the Church.

Times were tough and there was a lot of double-speak in the fellowship because, well, you could get killed just for knowing who Jesus was.

So when in I John 2:10 he says, “Whoever loves his brother lives in the light,” he was probably talking about the disciples, but for me this verse is about the other child of my parents, Bill.

He was named for my dad’s dad, William, and for my dad’s favorite ball player, Stan Musial. He showed up in our family a week before Christmas on December 17. His birthday was like the pre-party for Santa. I’m trying to remember if Bill ever had a gift that wasn’t wrapped in red or green.

I was not yet 2 when Bill was placed in the car seat (yes, we had them then) next to me in the back of our ’53 Plymouth. I wasn’t sure what he was or why he was there, and I promptly smacked him on the head.

What ensued was a lot of yelling and crying from the front seat of the car. I have been viewed with suspicion and alarm by my parents ever since, and rightly so.

Bill and I haven’t been a big part of each other’s life for the last 30+ years. We’ve made up for it over the past three weeks, I think.

What has been remarkable has been our ability to work in tandem. On July 21 and 22 when my dad and mom respectively went to the ER, we chose to trust each other, in spite of what we’d been repeatedly told was the truth about us.

For myself, I sent up a short prayer right about then to God, asking Him to please help me to keep my gnarly ego quiet. If I could play nice, that most certainly would attest to the power of prayer.

I tell folks (when I can remember to do so) that in every tragedy lies a blessing. We may not see where the blessing falls, but if you’re lucky you can get some on your shoes.

So my blessing today is that I know Bill has my back. I hope he knows that I have his. I love him. And I am in the Light.

lol

Standard

I was watching an episode of “Grey’s Anatomy” last night and I laughed out loud. I really did. All by myself with no one to hear me. It kind of surprised me, not only because that hasn’t happened in a long time but because I hadn’t realized that until just then.

It means I’m healing. My prayers mean something. Faith pays off. And I can trust my process.

Letting go has been so, so hard.  Trying to understand the importance of self-nurture and what that looks like has been a struggle.  And I don’t mean splurging on frozen custard or a spa day, but true self-nurture:  resting when I’m tired, cooking the food that I love in the way that I love it, saving up for and purchasing things that I really need instead of running up my credit card buying things just to satisfy an urge.

Then there were the trickier parts of this: turning off my phone at night so I get the sleep I need. Taking a whole day off to be a goddess of the hearth. Tackling small projects a little at a time instead of planning grandiose outcomes that will exhaust me.

This all seems like really simple stuff, but I know folks in recovery can take a long time to figure it out and some just give up.  So I want to say to those folks:  don’t give up.  Even when it hurts.  Even when you feel stupid.  Even when you act like an ass.  Just keep going.  And someday, all by yourself, you really will laugh out loud.

trinity

Standard

Sometimes the time just seems magic.

It has been a time of reconnection for me, of quiet conversation over food with this friend and that one, some spent alone in the quiet, clearing away the clutter in my environment and in my head.

I recognized some years ago that my recovery requires three things: prayer, writing and sharing thoughts with another person. This trinity makes itself evident most when I am seeking or providing help in our most practical and pervasive challenge: that of understanding the people around us.

My daughter is on a beautiful beach somewhere in the southern U.S., navigating a romance. One friend is walking her Path with family passed and present. Another friend is sifting through the lingering messages of addiction recovery.

Mulling over the conversations of three days in a row, what stands out is that life is a lovely wilderness with exciting obstacle courses that test our acquired skills and teach us new ones.

For those new to the Path, it is like Marine boot camp. The instructor is harsh and the tasks required of us are strenuous and unfamiliar. What I have learned is that the instructor has one goal in mind: teach us how to survive. The insults and bullying are not personal; they are edifying. The pain sustained will pass if we do not resent it.

For those of us who are challenging the negative inner voice, it is like boarding school. The voices strike at our soft underbelly, the tenderest parts of us. Here we learn to thicken our skin, to run the gantlet that sometimes brutally attempts to distract us from our goal, that of freedom.

For those who are trying to live outside ourselves and our comfort zones, it is marshaling our allies and agreeing to a battle plan: we must march in the same direction. We cannot always be on the front line, and it is important to have comrades who will allow us to fall back and even retreat when we are weary.

This requires trust, a gift from God, I am certain, because mine is in short supply at times. Yet it refills itself from some divine Source that I cannot comprehend.

The lesson I have learned is that I must not punish myself for my mistakes.

In “The Four Agreements,” Don Miguel Ruiz says, “…it is important for you to master your own dream.”

This is the basis for my role as sponsor, medium, channel, friend and partner. Easy to say, hard to do. As always, I depend on grace as my ultimate rescue when I am stuck. But I find I can access grace more abundantly if I pray, write and share.

walking the dog

Standard

So I have a regular gig about four times a year, spending time with Gustavo. He is an Italian greyhound who thinks he is actually reincarnated 17th or 18th century royalty. I haven’t quite pinned down the family yet, and I believe his demise was quite violent.  Hence he has alarming separation anxiety in this life.

However, he must have laughed a lot with his friends and family.  Stav has a great sense of humor and is the life of the party.  He’s a little subdued right now, because he’s trying to remember where he’s seen me before.  But it’ll come to him eventually.

So far it has been a bittersweet reunion.  We are both grayer and calmer than the last time I was here.  We both take more supplements with our meals.  He is positively portly and waddles when he walks.  I have acquired a muffin top from excessive use of chocolate to get me through the recent breaking news and subsequent long hours with CNN.

But somehow the heavens and the Mother called a truce with the calendar and gave me a glorious first day with Stav.  The sun was brilliant on our walk and the breeze just right, free of impertinent insects and subwoofers.  The sidewalk felt like carpet and my feet seemed to skate along the few blocks of our route.

I wanted more. I wanted to abandon work and throw my phone into the bushes and walk with Stav until we could walk no longer. But his folks left crab cakes in the fridge and experience has taught me I will eventually want my phone back.  So we’re back in the living room, sitting in the quiet that’s as rich and thick as cream cheese frosting.

It is enough. I am content.

Affirmation June 18, 2012

Standard

I am coming to know myself as a living example of God’s mercy.

a whole new world

Standard

Ecclesiastes 2:12 Then I turned my thoughts to consider wisdom, and also madness and folly.

I was writing to a good friend on Facebook, and this just sort of spilled out of me.  It seemed like a good thing to repost here, because I need these sorts of revelatory experiences to remind me of where I’ve been, where I am and where I’m going.

***

I don’t recommend it for everyone, and I wouldn’t have recommended it for me five years ago, but I have settled into a nice little life without making The Group the center of it.

I have a well-rounded set of friends and acquaintances and we rarely lapse into tirades of personal drama. But I have stopped soliciting that, too, and so my communication with my peeps is more about what we’re doing and where we’re going.

My recovery from alcohol is not the neon sign over my head any more. It’s a fact of my life like my adoration of God and my love of good poetry and my obsession with art direction.

The best thing is I don’t feel like I have to compete with people just to be who I am.

I look back on all the angst I felt around the women at The Group, and especially the women in certain cliques, and it seems so strange to me now.

I feel like I have spent great chunks of my life trying to shoehorn myself into places where I wasn’t welcome or even that I didn’t care about, as if that would somehow complete me.

I see it in my romance, trying to get men to accept me who weren’t even worthy of me. I see it in my family, as if they could provide the solace I needed when they were so overwhelmed by their own pain that they forgot I existed.

I went to The Lake with David last week and, for the first time since I’ve been going there, it felt just right.

Something is different with me, and I chalk it up to God changing me when I wasn’t looking. That, and all that TRUE drama in my life has sort of brought me around to a clearer perspective.

It’s really a struggle for me to muster much sympathy for the strident shrew who screeches because she hasn’t accrued an appropriate level of sympathy for her latest self-styled crisis.

Friends are putting their furniture up on cinder blocks at Harbor Town. Hopefully they stacked the blocks five or six high, because the water is thigh-deep there now.

I am happy because I am strong enough to push the lawnmower up the hill.  Even though it takes me three days, cutting the front yard is great for my waistline, and I revel in the personal glee I experience when I think, this body belongs to a 57-year-old woman, and it still works.

My life doesn’t really look that different from the outside.  From behind my eyes, it’s a whole new world.

Hopscotch (excerpt) ~ Julio Cortázar

Standard

My hands want to hide in your hair, stroke the depth of your hair while we kiss with mouths full of flowers or fish, of living movements, of dark fragrance.

And if we bite each other, the pain is sweet, and if we drown in a short and terrible surge of breath, that instant death is beauty.

And there is a single saliva and a single flavor of ripe fruit, and I feel you shiver against me like a moon on the water.

~ Julio Cortázar

Sunday Morning ~ Jack Grapes

Standard

Sunday morning. Spring. I wake to the sun lifting one leg over the top of the Ticor Building on Wilshire Boulevard. The new leaves on the tree outside my bedroom window are tinged with sunlight. If only I were a photographer or painter I’d freeze this moment and crawl into it.

Sunday morning. I have to get up but my body wants to drown right here in the bed. Spring ambles up the street waving its arms. A matinee today. I have to be at the theater by two. Yesterday, I find out from my agent that I didn’t get the part I was counting on.

Eat this, they say.
It’s good for you.
You’ve eaten it before.
The next one will be sweet.

I eat and concentrate on the window, on the tree, on the sun beginning to beat its chest as it comes over the top of the tallest building.

I drive down Beverly Boulevard, take the curve where it changes into 1st Street, turn on Grand and park right across from the museum. It’s just after ten, hardly any cars on the street. MOCA doesn’t open till eleven. The sun has followed me all the way, reflecting off the Security Pacific Bank Building, glass and steel going all the way up.

I get off on this urban sleekness, especially the unfinished building across the street, another skeleton of steel and concrete. Someone should stick a sign on it, make it part of MOCA, part of the Permanent Collection, and leave it just as it is, unfinished. No clear line where the museum ends and the rest of the city begins. One easy flow, stretching all the way back into our homes, into the very center of our lives.

I walk past the California Plaza sign, running my hand along the chrome and glass, then head downstairs for a cup of coffee and cinnamon roll at the “Il Panino.” There’s a girl two tables over, in the sun. We both drink our coffee in silence, checking our watches, writing something down in our journals.

She’s an art student from Santa Barbara come to see the Jasper Johns. She asks what am I here to see. “Oh,” I say, “the art. Just the art. I don’t care. Just something.”

I AM FIVE YEARS OLD.
I don’t understand anything.
Hot and humid days;
nights, dark and mysterious.
They take me to school.
I stare at the blackboard.
The kid from around the corner beats me up at recess.
Some nights my father doesn’t come home.

My mother shrieks on the telephone.
My pet turtle dries up in the sun.
My uncle dies on the floor in the empty kitchen.
Who is the world?
Why is the moon where the sun is?
If the street goes nowhere, why is it in my bed?
What is the rain that rains just rain,
and why does it rain crows, or bats, or baseball gloves?
How is the pencil writing my name,
and why is my name the name for the thing that fixes tires,
the name for the flag on the pirate ship,
the name for the clown crushed in the box?
Outside, the kids continue to jump rope on the sidewalk,
singing, “A my name is Alice,”
seeing everything, but knowing nothing.

I AM SIX.
The class takes a bus with Miss Cook
to the Delgado Museum on Elysian Fields Avenue.
We’re going to see Vincent Van Gogh.
Later, when I tell my mother,
who was born in Antwerp,
she says to say it like this,
Vincent Van Gough,
and she coughs as she says it.
Van Gough! Van Gough!.
But Miss Cook says Van Go.
We are marched single-file from one room to another,
walking past each painting that hangs just above our heads.

Vincent van GoghI look up at the painting.
I can’t believe what I am seeing.
Everything mysterious and horrible about the world vanishes.
He paints like I paint!
Trees outlined in black.
All those wavy lines, all those colors.
And he piles the paint on.
He’s wasting all that paint,
just like I did before they told me not to waste all the paint.


He sees everything I see.
The moon is where the sun is.
The street that goes nowhere is in his bed.
It’s not just raining rain,
it’s raining crows and bats.
He sees the blood, he sees the faces.
Everything so bright it’s on fire.
Everything so dark it swallows me up.
The man cuts his ear off.
The man leans against the table so sad.
The man dies on the floor of the empty kitchen.


I stop in front of the painting with crows above a cornfield.
The world I see is real.
I bring my hand up and touch the dried paint.
It’s real!
Mounds of paint,
swirls of paint,
rivers of paint!


But it’s not paint.
It’s real.
It’s the world.

“Don’t touch the painting!” Miss Cook yells.
She pulls my hand away.
She yanks my arm into the center of the room.
“Never ever touch a painting!”
She shoves me into a seat in the back of the bus.
It doesn’t matter.
The world is real.
I fold my hands in my lap.
I know what I will do.

I will write about the real world.



Frank Gehry11 o’clock. The girl heads off toward the Jasper Johns. I walk into the J. Paul Getty Trust Gallery and find the Geary cardboard chairs and cardboard houses. “Can I sit in them?” I ask the guard. “They can be sat in,” he says, “but you can’t sit in them.”

“Oh,” I say, and walk into the room with the huge pavilion shaped like a fish. I walk into the belly of the fish. The wood inside is so beautiful.

“Don’t touch the wood, please,” says the guard.

I wander over to the Nauman video. A clown is being tortured on simultaneous video screens. “Clown Torture,” it’s called. Later, in the Permanent Collection, I bump into the girl from Santa Barbara. In the center of the room, a metal sculpture of a man moves his motorized mouth up and down. A silent

YAK

YAK

YAK

This, I understand. I stand as close to it as I can. The guard watches me suspiciously.

Over in the North Gallery there’s an empty spot in one corner. Something was there, but it’s been                 removed. I make a sign for myself and hang it around my neck. I stand in the corner of the Permanent Collection, North Gallery, as still as I can, one arm out in the gesture of an actor about to speak.

Eat this.
You’ve eaten it before.
The next one will be sweet.
The street that goes nowhere is in your bed.
You know nothing,
but you can see everything.

A woman and her little girl walk up to me. “What does the sign say?” the girl asks.

“Touch me,” her mother says. “The sign says touch me.”

So the child reaches out a hand and touches my own.

by Jack Grapes

A New Year

Standard
The sun is crashing through the morning windows as if it were June.

I want so much from this New Year.

I want not to tiptoe through my relationships.
I want not to relinquish my freedom to the musty dank of ancient fears.
I want to fill my path with Light as bright as this January summer sun.

Forgive me all the sins of years, and grant me the hope of a graceful life.
Help me to see myself as I see those who surround me with love.
Bring me to the knees of compassion and tenderness.
Remind me to laugh with my entire heart.

Send me out to give of myself the gifts that I have not yet seen.
Bring me afresh to the wonder of life and those who live.
Give me the determination to forge ahead when the day is stale and empty of inspiration.
Devote me to my promises, my truth, my word.

Fold me in the arms and wings of those who are ever present to fashion of me a being of joy.
Let me never wander from your kindly Sight, or trespass on the ground of squandered time.

Thank you for giving to me all I need before I think to ask.

Stormy Bailey
© 1 January 2009, The CatWirks