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Sassea Sails

SAILING, METAPHORS, ADVENTURE,

Five years of Mourning –WTF

The other day I had the opportunity to turn an acquaintance into a friendship. Until I get her permission to use her name I will call her Sophie. We met on a planned hike with two other gals. Sophie was introduced to me as a nice lady whose husband also died.

Just hearing those words sent a jolt right up through the crown of my head. A few seconds passed when I reckoned to myself, “At least we have a common ground though my immediate prayer was that our hike would welcome the silent solitude I had been craving. The leaves brushing on my sleeve, the crackling sound of drying leaves beneath my feet, and the breathing of cool air tickling your cheek is what I wanted. Perhaps as mother nature intended Sophie and I broke the sounds of silence.

It seemed that as soon as we took our first 3 or 4 steps we began to converse.  It didn’t take long for me to hear Sophie’s story. Her husband died after several years of chronic health challenges. It was now five years later when Sophie decided to get out of the house, go hiking, and enjoy the company of others. Five years, I thought, I won’t mourn for five years. I will cherish the fortitude brought to my life each and every day of my life. I will socialize. I will read and relax.

I will take pride in my house and our property. I will continue my ukulele, piano and band playing. I will eat vegetables every day. I will maintain my current weight (or lose just five more pounds.) I will be kind. I will finish the slides for Ron’s memorial.

I will end this blog so I can finish the slides for Ron’s memorial….

WTF Landslide

While dawdling around in WTF land a sailing friend put grief into perspective. According to Registered Nurse, Peggy Snead, grief can be divided into two pieces of what I call the the circle of grief; honoring it or scab picking. Unlike Elizabeth Kubla Ross’s model of the stages of death, I experience the process as an iterative cycle. That is, one moves from shock, to disbelief, to anger and acceptance in a random series, over and over.

At times I am angry and regretful, though always sad. Then, I fall back into shock where the visions in front of me are surreal. The Spanish Peaks before me look like a wavering mirage. A dog barks and I am thrown into anger because as I turn my head in the direction of the sound, Ron is not sitting in his reading chair across the room. So, for me the grieving process is a painful circulatory system.

Going back to Peggy’s metaphorical way of coping with grief, my mind is eased with a definitive way to deal with the dynamics infiltrating my soul.  Regardless of how close Ron and I were, we both had 64 years of prior relationships. We had never crossed paths before that afternoon six years ago when he sailed into my heart. His string of ‘girlfriends,’ endearing buddies, colleagues, and family also have to grieve. And, I have to allow them to carry on as best they know how.

Each person deals with the death of a loved one or acquaintance in their own unique way. If their behavior impinges on mine, I have to be respectful and grateful they were fortunate to have had him in their life. Most have embraced me in a blanket of warmth that was unimaginable until the morning he didn’t wake up. I feel so connected to his family. I want to be with them along with my family and friends. I keep reaching for the phone to call them late in the day and early in the morning. Those good feelings, according to Peggy, are a way to honor the grief we all share. When we put our arms around each other,  we acknowledge that we are each grieving. We admit it.

On the other tack, negative influences that we dwell on, such as when a person doesn’t do what we want, when we want, and how we want are like picking at a scab. We need to do what we can to let the scab heal on its own. We can do this by ignoring it, taking medicine or covering it. We don’t have to answer every phone call. We don’t have to initiate calls. We don’t have to spend our nights wishing we could sleep. And, we don’t have to deny what we think of other people’s behavior. Recognizing the scabs is the first step to healing them.

My dad always said, ‘everything in moderation.’ This is especially helpful to remember during the grieving process. Whether honoring it or picking at a scab, it is acceptable and respectable to take a sip of doctor feel good, or take a toke to ease the pain.  In my world as long as you can get out of bed each day, tend to daily chores, and pay your bills, well by golly, you do what you need to do to honor that person whose life ended way before you were ready to let go.

 

WTF

No need to translate WTF. I know a gal who uses the expression quite often. Then, suddenly when the reality of losing the second love of my life the only thought in my head for the past week is WTF.

Since I was in junior high school I developed the habit of dropping the F bomb. I never did at work, at least not in front of students and their parents. Outside of school it was F this, O F, Fing thing a ma jib.

Now all I can say is WTF….

 

Diets that WORK

With the infinite number of books, blogs and nauseating ads for the perfect diet, even the non diet diets advertised, I am stumped to wonder why two particular diets proven to work, is never mentioned. Have you ever seen a tabloid headline with the words, BREAK-UP DIET, or WIDOW DIET.  Yet, oh my gosh how they work.

Sadly, though in order to succeed with the break up diet, first coined in my world, by my wonderfully talented friend Maryanne, you have to experience an unpleasant, unwanted divorce from a partner. Whether legally married or not I will be using the terms married and divorce to mean all actions the same without government interference. The term divorce meaning a separation to include such a parting of ways due to death.

Anyway, the thought occurred to me that my eating has slowed to a pace I emotionally prefer. Certainly, I never want anyone to feel emotional pain. That’s another subject. For now, I ask for thoughts about how to transform the weight loss of a break-up or death into a weight loss that doesn’t require these undesirable events.

Remember, my e-mail is:  sailorhiker@gmail.com 

 

Promises, promises, promises

What is the criteria for a promise? An internet search defining a promise yields an earnest declaration to either do something or not do something. Children learn that a promise gives meaning to an intent. For example, a child promises to share their candy at lunch with another child. Before lunch the child who made the promise eats all their candy. Then, at lunchtime the child who was promised candy is disappointed. Regardless of how the promised child reacts is it ok that the promise was broken.

In a more serious, yet fairly common scenario, couples promise to love and cherish each other until death do them part. Then, they divorce. Is it ok that the promise was broken?

Parents may promise their children to take them to the zoo on a particular day. The day comes and the excited child is now disappointed because the parents say something else has come up. Going to the zoo has to be postponed. What circumstances are acceptable for the parent to renege their promise?

Is any adult free from ever breaking a promise? To judge whether or not a broken promise is justified probably needs the determination of what circumstances surround the situation. No doubt ‘it depends’ will determine whether a broken promise is justified. A broken promise to share candy may not be as detrimental as a broken promise to love and cherish’ til death do us part. Is it ok to forgive someone who broke a promise?

Is any adult free of ever breaking a promise? Is the declaration to promise taken for granted? Is it used when we are striving to get agreement with someone? Do broken promises seriously hinder a relationship? To what extent does keeping a promise  used as an excuse to take an action that might otherwise cause a problem. Is it worst to break a promise to yourself? Promises, promises, a perplexing concept,,,

 

 

 

Letters I’ve Written, Blogging for Blabbing and Memoiring Maybe

Having been a blogger for about 20 years now, I finally decided to write my memoir. Writing with the intent of printing a book, though is different than blogging. Blogging, for me is way to vent, to puke out whatever thoughts come to my mind. There have been times when my blogging had a hidden theme. Themes included  a never before vocabulary word, using only 3 sentences in a paragraph, or admitting a less than desirable action.

Writing a memoir for the world to read is a little different. Committed to making others look good, to show their sunny side, and avoid any words that might upset or offend someone is a challenge. How does one bear their soul, share intimate stories, or explain deep feelings without offending?

What I do know is that I have a compulsion to write. When I graduated high school and my best friend at the time went off to college, I wrote to her every single day. A boy I liked, Frank,  at the time was serving our country as a soldier in Korea. I wrote and mailed him a letter every single day. He wrote back nearly every day, as well. Upon his return I learned he had been living with a little lovely during his time overseas. Though glad to end any possibilities with a romance I wish I kept the letters.

Forgetting about ‘boys’ I idled my time writing a story using the titles of songs. It went something like this:”Oh, Mr. Postman, look and see,” I “Aint Misbehavin.’ and I ‘Ain’t Too Proud to Beg” even though “All my Rowdy Friends” are having a “Blue Monday.”   On and on it went. As I recall it was at least ten pages handwritten filling both sides of notebook paper. If only I kept that as well.

So, from silly lyrics to assertively written letters in which I pour my heart out to people whose behavior leaves me feeling hurt or misunderstood, to blogging and now to memoir writing here I am blabbing on. What keeps me motivated with an unstoppable compulsion? It is an internal urge. What will propel me to writing a successful memoir though is my friend Linda McGarry, who holds me accountable for not just paying my bills on time, but for encouraging me to write.

The Magic of Day

From darkness to daylight is magical, my favorite time of the day. Living in Cocoa, Florida the darkest hour meant get up and drive to the beach to catch the first wave at the crack of dawn. Living on SPRAY, dawn’s early light signaled the time to weigh anchor. After a good morning stretch, I would step up into the cockpit and be amazed as if I were in some wonderland. The sense of accomplishment resulting from forty years of learning what I could about sailing, the people who taught me and those who shared my many adventures all came into view. To this day every morning is greeted with the recognition of someone in my life; a principal I worked for, a student who touched my heart, or a disgruntled parent have equal time in my personal benediction.

Now, far from the sea, on the arid southern Colorado terrain, 7000 feet above sea level the miracle of daylight brings that same appreciation for all who have been a part of my life. From cousins like Peter Pearsall and Jane Trudeau Weisman, who I barely know, to my sister, Jane, whose caring for others is an admirable trait I lack, to family and friends along the way, I have visions of the faces of those I have had the privilege to know.

Two paragraphs ago, when I started typing today’s blog entry, I could only see the reflection of what is inside the house out my living room window. Now the Sangre de Cristo snow-capped mountains are coming into view. Gently rocking in synch with the swaying leaves on the pinon trees, mother nature and I are waving in a new day. A hint of sunshine is adding a red tinge to the earlier morning’s dark brown ground. A tiny bird flits from one feeder to the next.

Footsteps coming from the bedroom bring the joy of having a loved one to share another day. With Passover and Easter being celebrated around the world I will take time to add another stone to my appreciation garden. Each name I paint on a specially chosen stone is accompanied by a prayer of gratitude. With all the weirdness, frustration and joy, transitions from night to day, from surfing to cruising to mountaineering, from one love toward another, thankfully, I am a better me. Bless you!

Dawn to Dusk,,,

There he was. Or, was he a she? When I turned from filling the bird feeders I looked toward the trees behind the shed while imitating the flock of larks who were hungrily waiting for their day’s ration. Then, my eyes drifted downward. A stump about 3 feet high caught my attention. I tried to recall if I had ever noticed it before. Squinting as one would to clearly make out the markings two eyes were staring back at me. As still as the tree I initially thought I was looking at took a more defined shape. With his head erect and body pointing straight at me, I was reminded of Lucas, a four or five month old lion that I was fortunate to play with years ago while in South Africa. The only notable difference was that Lucas was a golden color typical of lions. This cat was wearing grey and his eyes the color of an ordinary house cat. In fact, his whole body resembled a pet many cat lovers enjoy as a companion.

This cat, the one standing about 3 feet from the house and about twenty yards from me, looked like a giant house cat. He/she didn’t meow or  grimace. He/she remained still, save for the wind perking up his/her thick coat. Wanting my mate to see, I stupidly started yelling in the direction of the upstairs loft where I knew he was inside doing his morning exercises. “Ron, Ron, you gotta see this.” Because he didn’t respond to my wailing, I slowly walked up onto the deck and opened the front door. Thankfully, Ron was already on his way outside. “Shush,”  he whispered, “and move slowly.”

Being the coward I am I stayed an inch or two behind Ron stepping into his footsteps as he peered around the west corner of the house. Only ten yards in front of us, the cat continued to stare at us. Then as quietly as he had been, he turned his head and slowly walked away from us and into the woods.

As if this wasn’t enough excitement for a city girl, while the sun was setting later in the day, a hefty, healthy looking  doe strolled into our front yard. For about fifteen minutes she nibbled at the bird seed beneath the juniper tree about 30 yards from our front door.  Her big ears turning in different directions. We were inside and taking pictures. The bird feeder is an actual tea cup, the kind fancy ladies sip from so there isn’t much seed in the cup when I fill it every other morning. Yet, this majestic ruminant mammal   nibbled, and nibbled for about 15 minutes,  yet still leaving enough for two birds to dive into the cup after the she strolled away.

Wow, a deer and a bobcat in our yard; one at dawn and the other at dusk. Quite a day for a city girl…

 

 

Blaming Fate

It must be fate that wiles my activities in its effort to hold me accountable. The epifocal of my plans to move to a more remote environment than the overcrowded lifestyle lived for the past 50 years, was designed to lure me into a new career as a writer. Yet, the seemingly tranquil, too cold to go outside, climate here in arid southern Colorado, has not exactly kept me indoors.

Knowing fitness would continue to be a priority, I participated in a “Hike on New Year’s Day” event held at Lathrop State Park about five miles from our home on the range. As the group of hikers, whom I had never seen before, gathered to hear the Rangers’ plan for the start of the year right adventure, I asked to make an announcement. Swallowing hard and grimacing when the ranger waved me toward the center of the room a thundering silence bombarded e my brain. “Will someone want to go hiking with me?” was the voice of a lifetime of  rejections that infiltrated my frontal lobe. Still, I persisted.

Polly, a tall radiant blonde wearing a multi colored knit ski hat with long braided tails raised her hand. Without hesitation she spoke right up.  “I love to hike and have been hoping to find a partner.” We decided to meet after the hike. It was a fairly easy climb to the summit at Lake Lathrop State Park in Walsenburg, Colorado (about 5 miles from my house).  Located on the north side of the  park, the trail provided several scenic views of two lakes and several mountain ranges in all four directions. The ranger took time to explain the geological history of the park and describe the features of the varied flora and fauna. None of his words took hold. My focus was on navigating the terrain. From small pebbles to flat topped boulders I was embracing each step.

After the hour long  hike the group reconvened in the visitor center. The park ranger and his staff of one provided healthy snacks, chili, coffee, and bottled water for the participants. Polly and I found each other in the group.  Being excited to be meeting at least one person my confidence encouraging others lifted my spirits. I again announced, “Any ladies interested in future hikes, please join us.”

Donna, a healthy looking gal about my age offered a seat next to her. Her spoken resume of hiking many of Colorado’s 14 ers (mountains with a summit of at least 14,000 feet above sea level), and other adventures as a career firewoman were intriguing. Despite her choosing to not join us on future hikes  (at least not so far),  Polly and I marked our calendars for the following Tuesday. That was the first week in January. Ever since, we have hiked 2 – 4 hours each week; each week on a different trail.  This past week two other gals joined us. Slowly our hiking experience is growing in numbers and terrain.

Hiking provides inspiration for memoiring. Past experiences from childhood up to today my life is filled with bittersweet memories. Some bring so much joy my laugh echoes across the meadows. Others turn on the faucet that like a dam opens to let the tears flow. Still others, the ones that perplex me the most are the irritations like jealousy that infuriate. While these thoughts provide impetus for writing, fate is being blamed for spending my time doing other things than writing.

Learning to play the piano and ukulele are an example. Three years ago I began taking piano lessons. A requisite for buying a house included the purchase of a piano. My battery operated piano keyboard had become a necessary  accouterment when traveling. A real piano has class, it adds to the ambiance of a home filled with music. Still, the portable piano was to be my travel companion. Its bulky maneuvering in the van led to the purchase of a ukulele. What I acquired was three distractors from writing: hiking, and playing the piano and ukulele.

Fate further infiltrated. Moving to SOCO (southern Colorado)  held the promise of a return to another love, skiing. During the first two months it was easy to dismiss slope surfing (my interpretation of downhill skiing. Using the need to get familiar with my new life in rural America, I lied to myself. “I’ll wait until next winter to take up skiing. After all it would be a 3 hour one way drive to the slopes and being as Ron and I are renewing our lives as a couple I did not want to go out of town without him. Skiing would wait, I silently repeated almost once a day.

Unexpectedly on a chilly winter’s day watching freshly fallen snow outside our living room window, a well respected sailing friend from the ’80s and ’90s sent me a compelling text. “Hi Marlene, I’ll be skiing next week. You and Ron can ski then spend the night with me and Kris.” Can you guess how long it took to respond? Well, fate insisted I leave the next morning at 5:30 for Wolf Creek Ski Area. Ron chose to stay home.  At $100 a day for fuel, equipment rental and lift tickets, there goes the budget along with another non writing day. And, there goes the budget…

Lest I forget my agreement to create a flyer for our neighborhood “Best Tasting Chili Contest,” prepare at least one meal a day, update my computer and phone at the local coffee shop where they offer free wi-fi, a weekly trip two hour round trip to Pueblo for groceries, dental appointment, lead the one hour walk around the neighborhood,  join my sweet for our evening  fire side chats, engage in a 45 minute fitness routine, e-mai friends, play a few rounds of Words with Friends, check the mail, organize tax documents, check on investments, listen to the radio for the ubiquitous political drama, and lastly, put another log on the fire.

Whew! just listing these endeavors tires me out. It must be fate. After all, the better part of my life has been spent contriving an escape from boredom. If I believe I can control these urges to do so many different things, than I feel undisciplined. If I blame fate, I more easily accept my failure to follow through. Oh, dear, I ask, “What’s a girl to do?”

 

 

 

 

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