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Archive for the ‘Inspiration’ Category

You will eventually have had enough of my grieving process I’m sure, but for the moment you may be finding comfort in walking alongside me. This is what keeps me going. Perhaps you’ve lost someone or perhaps that hasn’t happened for you yet and you’re trying to understand what to expect.

 

Expect nothing.

 

I can safely say that although the journey will hold similar jumps for all of us, the method and speed with which we get through (not over) them, will not be the same whatsoever. Emotions and reactions are dependent on so many things—age, proximity and support for example, come immediately to my mind.

 

I tried to tell you a story today, but couldn’t find the words. Everything else seems trivial right now and even though I know that’s far from the truth, I can’t seem to muster the creative backbone needed to spin a tale.

 

But I did visit my girlfriend this weekend. I’ve known her for twenty years and she moved to what I’d call far away a couple of years ago. I miss her terribly, but it’s also nice to be able to make an excursion out of seeing her now.

 

So off we went, my daughter and I, painlessly driving the three-hour jaunt, stopping only for cheap gas and cheerful wine. (The wine was for me. My daughter is not allowed to get cheerful just yet.) Once settled and after eating (a delicious Thai meal courtesy of Leslie’s hubby) we sat on the couch and the dreaded reared its inevitable head. We hadn’t, of course, seen each other since my Papa’s passing and she asked how things were going and how everyone was doing. We talked for some time…well into the night, and as we headed off to bed we were still pondering what happens on the other side.

 

I told her that as much as the idea of a guardian angel seems comforting, I don’t like the idea of them having to watch over us. After all, what kind of torture would it be to see our children but be unable to touch or talk to them?

 

“No,” I said. “I like to believe they take a version of us along for the ride and that way, for them, not a thing has changed.”

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Bear with me.

 

It’s a long journey around so many messy things and I lack the stamina to run it in one tidy breath.

 

Opening your eyes to the realization that somehow you must lift your burdened self out of bed so the show can go on. Peeling potatoes and stirring gravy so your children won’t think of this as the year they lost a Grandpa and Christmas Day. Stoically wading through a sea of memories that now contain a foreign element of hurt, so others can remember him the way you do. Battling tears and the desert that has become your mouth in order to send him off with the dignity he very much deserves.

 

Worrying someone will bring him up and then hurting when they don’t, planning only outfits with pockets to hold your twists of unscheduled Kleenex. Finding a way to preserve voicemails you’re so thankful you never deleted, fighting the guilt that you have saved the last ten, subconsciously aware you would come to rely on them one day soon. Holding on to the last time you saw him healthy and ruthlessly reliving the last horrible day that he wasn’t.

 

I used to think death was this obscure thing—a convoluted end that was hard to understand—marred by emotion and murky in its meaning. I was so wrong. Death is concise. It’s clear. It’s forever. And it’s final.

 

So I fumble for a bright side.

 

Hazy always ends in a positive spin. And although I’m desperate not to let her down, I’m having a really hard time grasping a silver lining through all of these ominous clouds.

 

I wish you heartache such as this in your life. Because despite the crumbling cliff it leaves you dangling from, it’s a true blessing to have loved someone this way.

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What was once decent in life, can, like magic, become disproportionate in death.

 

Our memories switch off the ability to recall missteps, unpleasantries and altercations. It takes those things by the neck and drags them deep into the folds of our conscience, tucking them in for a Snow White sleep.

 

The brain, nature, survival, whatever we choose to call it, takes over, and we remember solely the good—the kind words said, the times they made us smile, their soars and their successes.

 

But for the majority of breaths—theirs and ours—we brush our teeth, drive to work, eat our dinner and wash the dishes. One day comes after the other and we forge on, comfortable in the knowledge that we simply like, and contently love.

 

It’s that very love that protects us. It shields. It transforms what’s now gone into only what we need to remain—good deeds, helping hands and a softness of spirit.

 

And this is understandable. After all, less is more. We tend to scrape away disagreeable to accommodate the palatable on our plates.

 

But this wasn’t my Papa’s way. In life, as in death, he had no tolerance for waste.

 

That’s why he only made room for extraordinary his whole life long.

In loving memory of John Martin Murphy Sep 6 1927 - Dec 24  2014

In loving memory of John Martin Murphy
Sep 6 1927 – Dec 24
2014

 

 

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This article.

 

 

This article winks at me from across the room, then leaves with someone else. It asks me out to dinner and dodges the check. It promises tickets to a show that isn’t playing. It snatches my last Rolo and while we huddle side by side in a muddy, war-torn trench, it tells me we don’t stand a chance.

 

In a shell, I’m the nut and it’s the cracker and it splintered my little blog-bound heart into a million tiny pieces.

 

I admit going through a similar process to what Carol describes. Writing has always been in my life, but I felt that putting my work out there was the next step. In fact, I believed I’d be hiding in the dark ages by not leaping into the light. That’s how I came to birth my blog and as is human nature, I continue to nurture it despite the pain it causes me.

 

Next, they fall in love with the blog, and then spend way too much time on it.”

 

It’s almost three years old now, and yes I’m in love. Not because—“…it’s so empowering, pushing that ‘publish’ button on whatever you want to say…that it becomes addictive.”—but because I don’t feel alone. It’s not just me anymore. I went from what was, in my mind, selfish, to sharing, hopeful my words would entertain and inspire. At times, I even dare to believe I’d be letting you down should I vanish into thin air.

 

“It’s a dying niche because semi-literate, half-baked posts you dash off in 15 minutes for search robots to index don’t work any more.”

 

Piercing music screams in my head, reaching its crescendo as the shards of my heart are flattened and ground into a fine dust by this suggestion. Half-baked…dashed off in 15 minutes…I’m writing for robots?

 

Ouch.

 

But, I read Carol’s article through several times, washing it down with a tall glass of cool coherence. And you might be surprised to know that once I’d swallowed the pulp and circumstance, I concurred—If you want to write articles, you should of course, write articles.

 

But if you, like me, simply want to write of myth and whimsy to see where the wind takes you, there’s no need for a plummeting spirit. Tice’s advice doesn’t apply to you. Just keep doing what you’re doing because well, it makes you so darn extraordinary.

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All bolded quotes taken from “Why You Should Stop Writing Blog Posts (and What to Do Instead) by Carol Tice at makealivingwriting.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I try to eat. I really do. But the numbers keep jumbling around in my tummy—making their way up my throat and filling my mouth, leaving no room for food. I can barely stomach the math test I’m about to endure, never mind the syrupy oatmeal my mom has been simmering on the stove top for the last half hour.

 

The sweet smell is what woke me. A deep inhale, one eye open, then the other. What normally would have made me snuggle deeper into the mattress and relish what a lucky kid I was instead made my stomach twist and turn on this particular morning.

 

I’d stayed up most of the night meaning to study, the flashlight casting a warm glow beneath the covers, right down to my toes. Though it had shed enough light over the pages of my textbook, concentrating had been impossible. The equations consumed me. Each symbol became a joint and each line, a top or bottom jaw. They’d snapped at me amongst the shadows and the sharp edges of their difficulty had left imprints upon the worried creases in my mind.

 

“Breakfast!” My mother had cheerily called, oblivious to my grief.

 

Sitting now at the table, trying to not look as miserable as I am, I toy with a small spoonful of thick oats.

 

“Cream’s on the table,” my mother sing-songs. “You might want to thin it out.”

 

Her head is buried in the fridge, pen poised over a notepad as she makes a grocery list for her morning shop, but I can tell she’s picking up on something. She’s slowly raising her head and sniffing the air, honing in on my turmoil as only a mother can do.

 

“Well, I’ll be damned,” Grandpa mutters as he shuffles into the kitchen. He’s dressed for his walk in running shoes and track pants, but his sweatshirt is crumpled in his hands in a ball of frustration.

 

“What’s up, Gramps?” I ask, quite frankly happy for the distraction as my mother’s head ducks back into the fridge.

 

“The Goddamn string,” he snarls. “What the hell am I supposed to do with this?” He holds up the long cord that has come loose from inside the seam of his hood. It dangles freely, no longer attached to his sweatshirt in any way.

 

My mother, clearly wanting to avoid any Grampa drama, turns her back and hums a loud, happy tune and as she opens and closes cupboard drawers, scribbling away.

 

“Let me see it,” I offer, holding out my hand.

 

He shoves the soft, grey material at me and sits down in a pout.

 

“You stay and eat your fruit,” I tell him. “I’ll be back in a minute.”

 

When I return, he’s concentrating on his getting flimsy pieces of mandarin and slippery chunks of pear from his bowl into his mouth without letting them slip off the fork.

 

“Good as new!” I announce, knowing this will make his day.

 

“How did you do this?” He asks, astonished. “I tried for so long…it seemed impossible.”

 

I take the large safety pin out of my pocket and show him how I’d pierced the string with it and fed it through the long tunnel of fabric, grabbing the pin and pulling it, and the string, further down the line as more fabric bunched up around it and until it popped out at the other end.

 

My Grandfather’s eyes widened as my mother’s rolled behind him.

 

“Amazing, just amazing.” But his pleasure is somewhat short-lived as his brain kicks into gear.

 

“What’s to stop this from happening again? I don’t want to have to do this every time I go for a walk.” His brow furrows as he brings his palms up to his face.

 

“You won’t have to, Grampa. Look.” I tie a small knot into each side of the drawstring, just at the base of the opening into the hood. “See? It’s not going anywhere now!”

 

“You’re a genius, my darling! A true genius!” The last part is muffled as he pulls the hoodie over his head, excited to be able to tug it tight.

 

I finally begin to smile as I watch my Grandfather head off to meet his pals at the park.

 

And why wouldn’t I? Geniuses after all, don’t fail math tests.

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This is a post from almost a year ago, that I decided to revamp. Much to my delight, I didn’t end up feeling like I needed to change all that much. Most times I read my old posts and end up buried under the covers, shivering for the rest of the day.

Have a safe and happy Friday folks, and thanks for reading!

 

I have this old adding machine and for about ten years, the battery cover has been missing. It’s because of this I feel a profound sadness every time I pull it out of the drawer. Without the support, I know it will only be a matter of time before those little coils relax and let the batteries fall to the floor. But it would hurt my heart to replace a perfectly good thing due simply to the fact that it’s missing a piece. After all, it still works faultlessly and if anyone appreciates a bit of help in the calculating department, it’s me. You see, I can’t add worth a damn. I still count out on my fingers and have to write anything more than a three-digit sum down on paper or the numbers start climbing, tripping and toppling over one another in my head.

Many years ago, I waitressed and always kept a tiny calculator tucked into my billfold, never wanting to expose my tricky little secret. My fellow servers let bills flail from their pockets or flap from their cleavage and somehow still managed to finish their closes ahead of me and my tightly organized stash of cash.

I also worked in retail and strived to move up through the ranks. But moving up meant making manager and making manager meant numbers, which was, as you can guess, intimidating for someone like me. Eventually I learned to make my fingers fly over the chunky buttons without even looking. I earned a sense of control I’d never felt before, being able to ‘rule’ math that way. Granted, the bookwork to be done was very formulaic and the risk of something going seriously wrong was low. The numbers either balanced or they didn’t and if it turned out they wouldn’t, the mistake was usually very easy to find. It got so that I could do the hour-long nightly paperwork in twenty minutes—fifteen if I had somewhere more enticing to be.

Much to my dismay, long after being paid to fret over it, math continues to linger in my life and it seems the only time I’m able to call it rewarding is when I’m gauging the tip for a sly pub lunch. Things like balancing checkbooks, crunching numbers, logging endless expenses and estimating interests do not bring me joy.

What. So. Ever.

But the other day I decided it was time to clean out my junk drawers—oh shush, yes I have more than one—and you can probably guess what I came across. That’s right. Lo and behold, there, on the drawer’s gritty bottom, lay the battery cover for my old adding machine. I have to say my heart skipped a beat and I did experience what could be considered a teensy jab of joy.

Don’t give up on something because it’s disjointed or incomplete. You never know when you’ll find that very thing you weren’t even aware you were searching for. And sometimes, that little piece is all it takes.

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Nope. No ink on me.

 

Not because I don’t like tattoos or even that I have much of an opinion about them either way. Admittedly, there have been times when they’ve piqued my interest and times when I’ve been awkwardly surprised. There are some people I can’t imagine without them and some who have shocked me by uncovering that discreet little place and exposing their clandestine art.

 

I don’t have tattoos for the same reasons naming characters in my stories stops me cold. How can I be sure I’ve picked the right one? How do I know I’ll like it forever? What if, at the half way mark, my character turns around and tells me they hate it? Where is the guarantee I won’t regret it the minute ten thousand copies have been printed? What if the name I’ve chosen doesn’t translate well to the big screen? Yes, I’m in an optimistic mood. So, sue me.

 

There is something to a name. A name can change who we are and shape who we would have become. If we’d been called something else, none of the conversations or interactions we’ve had because of our name would’ve happened, ultimately altering our very being. A name influences the way people relate to us—change your name and the personality you know so well is gone.

 

How I was able to name my children, without once regretting my choices, is a mystery to me. (Must be something to do with that same hormone that keeps us from pegging our kids to the clothesline when they’ve been screaming for twenty-four plus hours.)

 

It’s a big responsibility, naming a being, whether they be breathing or fictional. It takes heart and soul, conviction and commitment. It takes longing, vision and love.

 

I think I’ve just decided what I’m doing for my 90th birthday.

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