The Creative Epiphany – Flashing Before My Eyes

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My life is flashing before my eyes in Technicolor dreams of days gone by. Excuse the melancholy interlude. It was bound to happen.

Relocating to another area, another state, familiar as it is to me and as highly motivated as I am, still seems a heavy load to carry alone. I see, with every item that is packed, a long life placed neatly in boxes, as if it could be condensed to just that. Small a space. With a lid on it. In spite of  my pride all these years at not having a lid on it. No matter how many boxes there are, the headlines of my life, the subplots, the nuances, the places and faces and times and history that define a life well lived are almost all missing, without documentation. They could not make enough boxes…to hold a lifetime of my experience. And so, for the most part, my memories are lost in space, floating in and out of the bank of clouds in my mind where they have enough room to stay.

Every goodbye changes a relationship. I am a good and loyal communicator – I do well at keeping in touch. But it is never quite the same. I will miss seeing the spontaneous expression, the revealing tear pooling up in the corner of an eye, the laugh lines deepening and the weathering of a human face. Your face and mine…because we are reflected in the eyes of eachother. Being with someone who is telling a story is a priceless window of sharing when bonds are made based upon visual impressions, heartfelt exchanges, and unspoken words. Oh you can Skype and you can do face-time, but the daily connection is what will be most missed. Because life is that – so very daily. It grinds forward like a heavy wheel, ponderous and unrelenting, and yet each moment is rare and fleeting. Such an odd contradiction. The slowly rolling wheel and the nano-second flash of a memory.

As James Taylor sings,”The SECRET OF LIFE is enjoying the passage of time.”

He also says, “Take to the highway……walkin’ on COUNTRY ROADS…..reckon my feet know where they want me to go…..walkin’ on country roads.

“SHOWER THE PEOPLE YOU LOVE WITH LOVE. Show them the way that you feel. You can run but you cannot hide. Shower the people you love with love. Things are gonna turn out right if we only will.”

From his song FIRE & RAIN  – “Just yesterday morning they let me know you were gone….I’ve seen fire and I’ve seen rain….Lord knows when the cold wind blows it’ll turn your head around…I’ve seen sunny days and I thought they’d never end….but I always thought I would see you again….somehow one more time again…..thought I’d see you one more time again….say nice things about me now…..I’m gone.”

To be continued at the other end of this journey….mid-July. Denver. My Rocky Mountain home.

The Creative Epiphany – Moms

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Just a few words today about Moms. No matter what your Mom is like now or was like before she died, she experienced that moment of heart-stopping news, “You are going to have a baby.” She knew instinctively that her life would be forever changed by the arrival of you and she was more than willing to make the sacrifice of her freedom in order to be your constant guide and guardian for the rest of her lifetime. Some believe that we choose our parents; a thought provoking concept. Theoretically, just for the sake of fun and conversation,  let’s say that you did choose….and you chose your Mom. We must ask “why?” What was it about her?

It must have been because your Mom is perfect! You have always been thrilled with your brilliant choice! You would change nothing about her…..What? She’s not….?

She’s not the perfect specimen of a Mom?

If you are not always pleased with your choice, you will learn by what you did not get in a parent every bit as much as by what you were given. Our own parenting is often guided by what was absent for us as we were being raised. An awareness of what was missing in your childhood is a very effective way to understand what all kids need to feel loved and protected, and if you can manage to use that vacant kind of information to make positive changes for your own children instead of repeating family history, you will have learned one of life’s big lessons. Your Mom was your teacher one way or another, even when she was lost and had no clue what she was doing, she was teaching. What she so apparently lacked is what you can learn to provide. She was the ever-present example, whether it was always worth following or not. She was a product of her flawed nature and nurture as are you.

Mother’s Day celebrates the wonderful Moms we would all prefer to remember or pretend we had – the happy, giving, joyful, strong, wise and loving person we pictured for our lives. We celebrate the concept of Motherhood; the daunting task, intense pleasure and constant wonder of raising a human being. We honor all the fine examples – the best of the best – as well as the noble attempts and even the dismal failures, because the job of mothering is creativity personified. Some are gifted at it and some are not. Today of all days, I hope that your choice was divinely inspired and you got a good Mom. But even if you did not choose your Mother wisely, you will benefit from knowing in your heart that she loves you and wishes she had been a better Mom.

The Creative Epiphany – Places I Remember, Simpler Times

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The Beatles’ song lyrics that always grab me go like this:

There are places I remember, all my life, though some have changed

Some forever, not for better, some have gone and some remain.

All these places had their moments, with lovers and friends, I can still recall

Some are dead and some are living, in my life I’ve loved them all.

As I sort and pack and sort some more (during this difficult week of bad news) in preparation for the move back to Colorado, I am finding boxes of photos and mementoes long forgotten of a simpler time. Look, here is Thunder, my mean little pony, appropriately named, jet black in  temperament as well as his horsehair. That pony threw me over his head every chance he got. I grew to hate the sight of him, but eventually we arrived at some level of tolerance for eachother. Still, I always believed he was a killer at heart.

I remember the tallest pine tree just off our flagstone terrace, a tree that overlooked the backyard hill of our big country house on Munger Road. In the summer the tree dripped with sap, and I climbed it barefoot. My feet were sticky until school started in the fall when I had to wear shoes again. Nearly every evening I would climb to the very top, a considerable height for a skinny young girl. My parents sat just below having cocktails as the sun went down. From my perch at the top of my world I could hear their conversations to perfection, no one aware I was there. I learned a lot about life and I owe it all to that tree.

Oh the hayloft in the barn. Early morning sun filtering through the cracks between the wall boards revealing the random dance of dust motes in the air. Watching my kittens run to me from across the hay strewn floor as I brought their daily saucer of milk, weaning them from their mama. That hayloft was a retreat from the world for me. I would spend hours there with the horses, the kittens and the roosters crowing in the chicken coop nearby. It was in that barn that I got my first kiss when a boy from my 6th grade class walked miles to visit me, sweetly and respectfully becoming my first boyfriend.

The attic under the high pitched roof of the main house, where we needed help to open the trap door at the top of the stairway, our entrance to another world. As the rain pounded and roared on the roof just above our heads, hours went by as we played “pretend” wearing props such as wide-brimmed hats with feathers on them and black capes and using old furniture for the walls of our forts.

Of course my playhouse out in the horse pasture, nestled under some trees, far enough from the house to feel isolated and adventurous, close enough to run home if a thunderstorm came….the neighbor’s cows often escaped their pasture, wandering onto our property through the same hole in the fence that never managed to stay secure. When the cows surrounded our playhouse we looked out the windows and pretended they were horses being ridden by Indian warriors, and we, the cowboys, staged an entire afternoon of wild west show-downs wearing the cowboy outfits and six-shooters in holsters that Nana and Grandpa had given us for Christmas. We won when the cows finally wandered away and the ranch house was secured.

Mr. Kress, our beloved caretaker and man of few words, in the winter months would knock twice at the back kitchen door every evening about 5:30, greet us, then come in to tromp down the basement stairs and shovel enough coal in the furnace to last until about 7am the next morning when he would come back and do it again. Many nights he was covered in snow accumulated in the walk from his house down the hill to our back door. In the summer months he spent his evenings mowing grass – acres of grass – sometimes until the sun was down. As soon as the front yard was done it was time to do the backyard again. Mr. Kress is a character lovingly remembered; when I was able I followed him everywhere, watching him and occasionally exchanging a few sentences.

These are just a few of the favorite places of my childhood – the ones that shaped me, enhanced my  imagination, fueled my creativity and made me the independent tomboy I was and still am. The tomboy grew up to be an adventurous young woman who decided to go west to college instead of staying in Ohio as my parents strongly wished. In that one decision, which was hard-fought and finally won through downright pleading as well as presenting relevant facts and information, my life changed forever. I knew instinctively that I needed the wide open spaces of the west. When I landed in Colorado to attend CU in Boulder, I knew I was exactly where I needed to be. Next to the mountains and a mile high – with vistas worth painting at every glance.

Still my favorite places from childhood fill my thoughts in the wee hours when I can’t sleep. The common thread is the peace, comfort and freedom these humble but rare places brought to me then, and continue to bring now in their remembering. From all the memories that fall away over the years, the ones we keep are the ones we need the most. And in the words of Jeff Probst of Survivor fame, “The adventure you are ready for is the one you get.” And I am ready to go back to Colorado for the next chapter. It feels like home to me.