Best Friends


I don’t often experience envy but I admit to this one…

There are some couples that just love each other – deeply and honestly.  And I just love being with them.  This is a rare experience for me but I’m fortunate to have two such couples in my life.  One couple are former clients – RC and CC.  We had an almost immediate connection when I picked them up at their hotel and over the years it has grown into  a dear friendship.    The other two are close relatives of my husband, GG,  and her husband, DW.

I was single for almost 20 years and very ambivalent about remarrying – until I met RC and CC.  I acknowledged to myself that I had often pictured marrying my true best friend – spending my retirement years traveling, laughing, reading, exercising, sharing.   The more I got to know RC and CC, the more firm my resolution became to be open to a committed relationship.   I saw that what I pictured could actually be a reality.

DW and GG, RC and CC, all live my dream.  Of course, they have their issues and problems too, but there is an underlying friendship and respect that prevails.  I spent some time with RC and CC a few weeks ago, and for the last few weeks, have been with DW and GG almost every day.

Being around all of them over the last month,  I’m finding myself nurtured and renewed and in an effort to hold on to my feelings, I’m identifying words to express what I experience when I’m with them.  For the most part, I find myself feeling comfort, joy, peace, hope and admiration.

I know about many of their struggles and triumphs, the heartaches and joys of their relationships.  I’ve listened to their stories, shared some experiences with them.  I know their lives have not been without pain, death of a child, infidelities,  serious health issues, long separations while serving in the Military, the stresses of being married to an obstetrician/surgeon – experiences that have torn many couples apart.  But they managed to reach the other side and become even closer.   I’ve watched them handle differences with respect, acceptance, a lot of listening, and humor.   They have a gentleness, even when they’re irritated with each other, have  shown courage to let the other be unhappy or gritchy, sad or happy.  They’re all individuals and seem to know their boundaries.   And they respect those boundaries.

Some words I might use  to describe what I see and feel between them is acceptance, loyalty, safety, generosity, comfort, admiration, respect, gentleness, a deep caring.  A joy in being with each other.  They are truly best friends.    They express differences easily.  They share some activities, tolerating others  just because they prefer to spend time with each other and share a memory.   They both have friends and outside activities but it’s clear that they prefer each other and their time together.   They are present for each other.  They have differences but have learned, over many years, how to express themselves respectfully.   They know that absolutely their partner has their back.  No matter what or who…  And they have traditions – with their families but also between themselves.   Little things.  Some are daily rituals.  DW brings coffee – every morning! – to GG in bed.   He always pulls her car out of the garage and has it ready for her when she’s ready to leave.  She rewards him with a lot of praise and admiration. Every time.  Just like it’s the first time.  She never seems to take him for granted.  All four of them express abundant appreciation for their partners.  Consistently.   When I hear them criticize, when they’ve done something wrong, there’s still a sense in speech and attitude that they’re on that person’s side.   I also know that they’ve hurt each other deeply at times and I’d really love to see how they handle it in private.  Is it the same?  They’ve all just said they try to stay respectful.

Both couples have been together since high school.   They have told me that early years together were not without hurdles and huge adjustments – there were some very difficult times.  Communicating well was not an easy thing to learn.   They all feel that they worked very hard to create their present relationship.  Part of it just evolved as their friendships grew over the years.  They were deeply committed to being best friends and treating each other with respect.   At times, their only expectation was – and is – that they protect their friendship as they would with any other dear friend.

I now realize that when I married, I had some pretty unrealistic expectations.  You’d think that in the time it took to get all of this gray hair, I’d have learned more!  My husband and I  are in the early years of our relationship and I’m discovering that just because we are older – and more experienced in relationships – it doesn’t mean that we can bypass adjustments and difficult times.   We both now have more tools to work with – and we use them a lot!  We are still learning our life lessons.  And that sometimes means double the lesson – we are there for each other while we get through our individual lessons as well.   The single life was so much simpler in many ways – not as rewarding in other ways.  I just believe that a relationship takes us places that we simply can’t get to on our own.   And that’s where I want to be.

My husband and I have been together for almost five years, in our 70’s.  I treasure our relationship and friendship.   We came together with our pasts – our longest history and memories are with others.  We just simply don’t have a lot of time left to create a long history together.    No time to waste on wishing that I had what my friends have but it is a great goal.  I’m busy working on getting as far as possible with that one….  And I will be gentle, appreciate, respect, be grateful.

I will be grateful for the time and progress we have – and will make in our relationship.   We have some great role models.  I want to be that for our children….

Today the sun is shining! In more ways than one…


I’m on R&R.  I’m with my sister.  In her home.  Away from my city and in her territory.  It’s where she’s lived her entire life.   It’s where we grew up but the area and people have changed.   My childhood haunts are long gone.   Stores have different names.  Few landmarks remain.  And the old memories are interesting and intense…

Being with my Sister is being with the best part of me.  I hear about the closeness of twins – that describes my closeness to my Sister.  It’s been so for as long as I can remember.  When we were younger, we kidded that we thought we were each other.  Family and friends referred to us as the cup and saucer.    Hmmm…   Now that we’re in the later years of our lives, we still have a wonderful sisterhood and friendship.  In many ways, she is a sense of  “being home” to me.

There are just the two of us in her home during my visit.  I love her husband – he’s been my brother for almost 60 years and I just love being with him too.  But this is a morning of contentment, ease, acceptance, peace, freedom.    My Sis is upstairs writing and I’m downstairs writing.    We met in the kitchen for a few moments earlier to say that we were headed back to our rooms – and laughed.

I’m so grateful that we still have each other in our lives.   I chuckle when I think back over the stages of our lives, hairstyles (a lifetime of mimicking each others’ haircuts and colors have become a family joke!) and clothes!  So trippy!   So many memories, so many stories.

I just sent her a text asking where she keeps her lemon squeezer.  I kept looking and found it before she answered.  I’ll bet she’s smiling at my second text telling her I found it.   It’s an endearing/not so endearing  ( I feel)  trait of mine – asking before I’ve looked very far.  I think my sense of efficiency (why spend time looking if someone knows the answer already) sometimes prompts me to ask before I look for very long.   (Qualifier….And then again – sometimes I spend way too much time searching for answers –  just for the challenge.)

It’s the littlest things that are making this visit good for my soul.  My sister.  We don’t need words to understand each other but we’ve been known to talk most of the night – and day.  At other times we can sit in the same room playing word games on our phones – with each other!  Or read and not speak for hours.  Our being within eye contact and hugging distance is enough.

Attention, affection, appreciation and acceptance.  My Sister and I.  Basic needs.  Check!

Sister – You are one of the best things in my life, the wind beneath my wings  – and I cherish our relationship.  I love you.

And I’m so happy to be with you again for a bit.

Yes!  The sun is shining!

And will you cut my hair just like yours?

 

Oprah’s Lifeclass Lesson 7: Aging Beautifully
Oprah’s Lifeclass – Today’s Question:  What is the best thing and the hardest thing about being my age?

 

 

My Life, My Mortality… and My Loves


I got some sleep last night – Yay!  And today is brighter…

Writing my letter to Dr. Oz (thank you Sister – for suggesting that I do it) clarified my plight – to myself.  I’m so grateful for some clarity.  Now I have hope again – that I can deal with my fear and get my life back.    I was suddenly able to see the part that fear is playing in my health issues.

I recognize clearly that my fear is about death.  My death.  It’s also in some strange way about the people that I’ve lost in the last 5 years.  I realize that I’ve never grieved them.  I realized yesterday that thinking about them is so painful that I avoid even letting them into my mind.  When they slip into my thoughts, I keep it at a very superficial level – and quickly change my thoughts to something else.

One of my doctors told me that she thought that these losses were having a part in my health issues and that she feels I have some grieving to do.  I heard her say it, I listened, I went thru some motions of grieving but I didn’t really get the connection.  Now I do.

I’m thinking about them today with joy and tears.  I’m honoring them.  I’m missing them deeply.  I miss Dad and my three sisters at a whole new level.  I’m remembering what I loved about them.  I’m remembering fun, funny memories – one of the many times we sisters came from different directions and met for lunch and a few hours together.  Our human pyramid picture.  Our sisterhood reunions. Shucking corn for a dinner.  Posing for pictures together.   What I learned from each of them is such a part of who I am.

And my husband, Dale.  We had such a rocky marriage and a deep unshakable love.  Our friendship lasted thru a divorce until his death in 2007.  He loved me.  Completely.  I loved him in the same way.  We had a bond that neither of us knew how to break – or even wanted to.   It wasn’t a consideration.  I didn’t realize until after his death that he was the reason that I could never move on into a marriage with another man.  Neither of us remarried.  But we didn’t live together either.  We were there for each other – right up to the last phone call the last day of January,  hours before his assumed death.  He lived by himself and when he didn’t return several phone calls, I was alarmed.  When I didn’t hear from him on Valentines Day – a yearly gesture even after our divorce many years ago – I knew something was terribly wrong.  I called the police who entered his home and found that he had passed – they estimated about two weeks earlier.  I handled his estate per his wishes.  I’ve avoided thoughts that he’s gone – always.  Not today.  Occasionally I’ve started to go there and recoiled as quickly as if I had touched a red hot wood stove!  Today, I’m remembering him…so many things.   There were very painful and difficult times in our lives but in many ways he was such a rock for me.  I feel way too vulnerable without him in my world.  I miss him terribly.  So much love!

And Peter.  My love.  We were in each others’ lives for 7 years.   Wow could he dance!   He knew how to have fun.  He was an old school Hispanic man and was such a character!  My Latin Love….  He loved taking care of me – cleaned my home, cooked, pressed my clothes,  was a lot of the reason that I was able to be very successful in my business.  He took care of many things in my life that allowed me the time to focus.  And did I mention fun!  I’m remembering the Las Vegas evenings, all doors open to my outside living area.  He loved cooking in the outdoor kitchen – for everyone, palm trees swaying, warm evenings, music playing and  NO BUGS!!!  We drank wine.  We loved.  We laughed.   He was so incredibly handsome to me – his dark skin, hair –  and bold, warm eyes.  He was gallant and classy.  He sang songs to me in Spanish – all of the time.  He ended up battling major health issues for two years that led to his death.  With such courage.   He wrote love letters to me.  I haven’t read them for a very long time – much too painful.  But I’m going to re-read them as I can, starting today.  Yes, of course there were difficult times too.  But I grieved those at the time.  Today I’m grieving and missing the sweetness, the love, that man.  Towards the end of his life when he was on a respirator, he wrote “Sin Ti” on a piece of paper with x’s and o’s.   I still have it tucked in with his love letters.  He used to sing that song to me.   I miss you so much, Peter!  You made your mark in my life.   Thank you!

And my sisters.  I’m going to write about “The Sisterhood” in another post.  I miss them so much.  They were my three older sisters and my link to so much of my history.  I wish I could have thought of more questions about how they remembered our lives before they left.  There’s no one to answer those questions now.   I know that they each knew how important they were in my life – no regrets there.  I just miss them.   It’s almost impossible to comprehend that they’re so gone!   Today I’ll remember them…

I’ll remember them all.  With so much love and gratitude!  I had – and have – some very special people in my life – some great loves!

And maybe, if I grieve my loss of them, I won’t have to worry about losing myself?  If I honor their lives, I can live mine – fully – without fear?   If I accept and remember their lives – and deaths, will it help me accept my eventual great adventure?  Without fear?  Will it help me live my life without fear?  hmm…

Is the doctor right?

Amidst the grief, I have my joy back today!  I’m starting to let go

Oprahs Life Classes
Joy, Letting Go

Does My Life Make a Difference?


I grew up with my Dad telling me to live my life as an example…that someone is using each of us as a role model…there is always someone who is watching to see how we handle situations and life – especially the difficult times.

I’ve witnessed 17 deaths of family members and most of my best friends over the last 19 years.  The youngest was a three year old niece.  Sometimes my grief has been overwhelming and I’ve not been sure which death(s) I was grieving.    My doctor told me  at one time that she thought I needed to grieve and it would help a health problem.  I’m not sure I know how to grieve.  Is there a proper way to grieve?  I don’t know.  I’ve read books, listened to Oprah shows, listened to friends, observed …

Last month we lost a 46-year-old niece to ovarian cancer.   There was an obvious transition from her “fighting” to “acceptance”.  Up until she was placed in hospice care, she was grieving her loss.  She wanted so much to see her two teenage sons graduate from high school, share their college experience, see them married and hold her grandchildren.  Her fight kept her going.

Then she told her parents, shortly before her death, that she was ready to leave;  that, knowing how much sadness her leaving would bring to others,  she almost felt guilty about her excitement over the adventure ahead of her.   She was very sad to leave her two teenage sons, her husband, her family and friends, but that she was ready and excited to leave.   It gave all of us a lot of peace, but how can that be.  Truly?

I am so fearful of dying that it’s very difficult for me to comprehend all that she said she was feeling.  I have enough gray hairs to know that God gives us grace to face…when we need it, when we’re actually confronted with challenges and passages.  Jennifer was a recent example.

She was involved.   There were over 700 people at her “celebration”.  She wasn’t a celebrity but she had lived life.   She was involved.  She made a huge difference in many lives.   She was very active in her church, children and recovery ministries, her children’s schools, 12 Step Programs.  If you had known her, you would understand….

On our way home from her celebration  in California, I was again trying to make sense of death…her death…all of the deaths.  Why do we live?  Why do we die?  How do I make sense of this? How do I accept it?

I do know that with each death and loss, I feel a new resolve to live life more fully.   I feel my own mortality and feel even more determination to make a difference in some way.   Peace came when I realized that one reason that we live our lives is to teach others.  By how we live our lives.

At Jennifer’s service, I repeatedly heard from those who spoke, that she “showed up” – no matter what!  She was there, whether or not she felt like it.  If she had made a commitment or knew she could help, she “showed up”.   She loved to sing.  Really loved to sing.  She knew how to be a good friend.  She had a wonderful laugh – and laughed a lot.    She was full of fun and joy – even when she had reason not to be, especially during her illness.  She was courage personified.  I want to be known that way.  I’m paying closer attention….

Each person has made a very real difference in my life.    And I’m so grateful for them all.   I started thinking about those I’ve lost and what I’ve learned from each….

To hug my loves when I’m leaving.  Really connect and tell them I love them.     No matter the mood….  I was fortunate to have had that from my husband.  He was much better at it than I.  But I remember that lesson every day.

My brother-in-law was a constant support and father/brother substitute for those who needed him.  He was an artist and couldn’t help himself…he had to create.  He did it as an expression of himself, didn’t do it for anyone else.  I can learn from him…

My friends, Eloise and Marcia, were loyal, fun, excellent Moms, and taught me so much about being friends.  They still have a profound influence on my life…I’m so grateful for their lives that were much to short.  They made such a difference in my life.  I still miss them.  A lot!

My sister was very outgoing and social, maintained long close friendships over her lifetime.  She had a great sense of humor, loved to entertain, made everyone feel welcome.   She taught me to hug.

Another sister was our family historian – to the max.  She saved pictures, documents, stories, provided our family with a priceless record of our  ancestry.

Another sister was a school teacher.  She and her family lived many places during her life – Greece, Tehran, Sumatra, and other places. She was intelligent,  a teacher in all aspects of her being.  She was an amazing cook, fun and creative.  I saw her very little but she gave me some invaluable advice and encouragement during her life.  She was adventure and excitement.

My Mom was a little dynamo.  She lived a pretty unconventional life, was very creative and could get tickled over little things, especially about herself.   She was good at choosing to see something beautiful in everyone.  She was a spiritual influence in many peoples’ lives.

My Dad was a prayer warrior.  His faith and example was a huge influence to almost everyone he met and he made a solid  difference in many lives.  He was a teacher and minister.  Quietly consistent.  Corny too.

So many others, so many wonderful others.  Some were in my life from childhood and they are truly part of me.

So what difference will I make in someone’s lives?  How do I matter in this world and to my closest?   I try to do meaningful things with my days, be courageous and accepting, interested and interesting, fun to be with, have hilarious moments.  Enjoy, share, appreciate.  Do some act of kindness at least once each day.  I’m working on being “present”.  Putting my phone down and connecting in person when I’m with someone.  Listening.  Responding.  I will remember to let everyone know how much I love them by lighting up when I see them.   No matter my mood.

Dad was right…all of these people have been examples in my life.  Sometimes they’ve taught me what I don’t want to be.  I hardly remember that part.  I remember deep love, laughing til we hurt, sharing plays, concerts, love of life, courage, we were there for each other during painful times and for celebrations.

I am and will make a difference.  I’m living my life…. I’m here so I matter.   We all do.

My Daughter – My Friend


As an adult, my daughter is also one of my best friends.  And she’s an awesome friend – and daughter as well.   We have a rare relationship that I cherish.  She’s very bright, funny, deeply caring and sensitive, has an off-the-wall sense of humor that makes people want to be around her.  I want to be like that!  Where did she get it?

She’s very successful in her business, in fact #1 agent in her company for over 12 years of the 16 she’s been in business.  We enjoy each other and spend a lot of time together,  know each other very well –  we finish each others sentences.   We usually slide  from mother and daughter roles into dear friend roles and back again very easily.

This is a confusing moment and right now I’m not so sure.  She’s in a very fragile state going thru a painful divorce.  With that, she’s digging deeply within herself, working thru her pain and trying to understand her part in the breakup.  It’s a very painful process for her. Delving into her past has brought up childhood issues and of course I’m included in her evaluation of her past, I’m sure.  She talks about painful experiences with her Dad, but I feel she is careful to protect my feelings.  There are almost certainly some issues that we need to talk about when the time is right.  Maybe we’ll talk these thru as we encounter them in our daily lives.  I don’t know.   Mother-daughter, friends….forgiveness.  How will it play out.  Is there anything to play?

Over the years, I’ve been nothing short of shocked at how my chidren have perceived events that happened in our pasts.  We’ve all talked, cried, laughed, and eventually worked thru issues as they’ve arisen.   Forgiving – lots of practice here!  All three of my children are very caring and sensitive to others.  One of my sons is very quiet and keeps things within himself.  My other son and I talk with each other about anything and everything.  I feel confident that we’ve hashed out all of our differences and I feel certain that we’re in a very good place in our relationship.  With my “Mother” hat on, I feel very comfortable about my relationship with all three of my children….most of the time.

In my daughter’s new and very painful situation, I’m realizing she is sometimes pretty guarded.   She’s even more sensitive to others than I realized.  She tells me that she’s discovering she has a difficult time being vulnerable, a very difficult time.  I’ve know that in our relationship – I just didn’t have a name for it.   I’ve known, as well, that I have a very difficult time letting myself be vulnerable.  No wonder that she’s struggling with that.   Is this a human condition? Like Pema Chodron says (I’m quoting from memory?)….”out of a class of 600, 590 will be struggling with their self-value”.   Are these pretty universal issues?  No excuse….  just wondering.

The ripple effect is touching me.  I’m trying to see my part in teaching her to protect herself, that she can’t trust.  Herself? Me? Life?  Many times over the years I’ve tortured myself with my failures as a parent.  I was pretty clueless.  “Doing my best” just doesn’t cut it when it causes pain or fear in a child.   I want a “Do-Over” with what I know now – about myself and life!  I know better now, and I could do better!

I recognize that she emulates me in many ways.  I take that as a compliment.  But I also recognize, sense, that sometimes she grits her teeth and bears….and whatever I’m doing is such a part of who I am that I can’t identify what I’ve said or done.    And I start trying to analyze.   I’m sure I’ve also taught her what she doesn’t want to be – sometimes.   Yikes!

My Beloved Daughter is on a mission.  It’s a painful journey right now but she’s finding her way.   She’s a joyous person, loves adventure, fun, learning, doing.  She lives out loud.  She loves people.

I love that her first comment after an appointment with a client is, “Oh, I just love them!”  And she means it.

I’m so blessed to have her for my daughter – and my friend.

When I Know Better – I Do Better – My Maya Angelou Mantra


I feel that I hurt, turned off, scared, dumped (not about her)  on my daughter yesterday and she’s either hurt or very turned off.    It wasn’t anything devastating, in fact it was expressing myself about my own issues.   But she was trying to help and couldn’t and I have no idea about how she actually took it.   I wish I had taken a deep breath and made sure I knew how she took it.   I have a feeling she somehow ended up feeling guilty about “something”.  If I could have a “do over”, I’d have left her after making it clear to her that she had nothing to do with my pain – I think she knows – but I’d feel better had I made that clear.  That I didn’t expect her to “fix it”.   I feel I left her in my emotional turmoil.  She’s in a pretty painful place right now, going througha divorce, and I imagine our experience yesterday left her with some feelings of her own to deal with.

I  later texted her – her preferred communication – apologizing for expressing my anger and sadness in a way that I didn’t like.  She hasn’t responded.

She’s been in a very fragile state for the last couple of years and I’ve tried to be there for her.   I’m already pretty worn out trying to deal with some of my own presently heavy issues that she is not a part of – and still be there for her.  I realized recently that I’m feeling a little sad that she doesn’t realize – or at least express – any acknowledgement of what I’ve helped her with during her divorce.   It’s clear she’s had a lot of comfort from our talks and being together, a few “A Ha” moments.  She invariably attributes these to others.  She openly and often expresses gratitude for others who are there for her – and I’m so glad they are.  Deeply grateful for the love surrounding her.  She invariably attributes one of “our A Ha moments” to someone else when she’s recounting to me.

Is it my Ego?  Wanting to feel appreciated some times?  Acknowledged?  Does it really matter who helps her as long as she grows and finds her way?  My egoless self would certainly say that and most of the time I do.  While writing this I just realized – I want to know that she feels like my cherished daughter – a special, not to be duplicated relationship, not me as merely a friend.

We’re extremely close but rarely physically affectionate.  We’re more best friends than Mother-Daughter.  I know that’s appropriate for where we are now but I think I was not a “Mommy” – a consistent safe place – when she was growing up.   I still yearn for that feeling between us, even more as I get further away from the time when it was appropriate.   It’s loudly missing – and has always been missing.  She wasn’t a cuddler, but neither was I.   I missed that as a child and I wasn’t even aware of it.  I certainly would never have given it to my kids.  I was pretty emotionally detached in most ways in the past – from everyone – so that I’m so glad that we’ve been able to sustain the closeness that we have and see it grow as adults.  I guess it’s an intense mother-daughter closeness expressed in the best way that we both know how and are comfortable with.

The first time I can remember “feeling” a hug was when my daughter was about five years old.  My sister and brother-in-law were visiting us from out of town and just leaving our home.  We were in the driveway and my sister hugged me – which she did a lot.  All of a sudden I realized that I was being hugged and especially realized that I wasn’t hugging back.  I did it awkwardly.  It was an emotional milestone in my life that I’ll never forget.  That feeling.   I had always just stood motionless when anyone hugged me.  I got plenty of hugs – from my husband, family, kids – but never felt it until then.  That was the beginning of learning to relish hugs.  My children were about 5, 10 and 13.  I weep for the disconnection I taught them.   I wonder what pain and difficulty attaching they have experienced all of these years.   I’ve watched them as adults and they’re all very physically and emotionally affectionate and connected with their families but that missing part of their childhood  has to have affected them in some pretty deep ways?  Maybe they learned what they don’t want to be?  I’ll start a conversation with them at an appropriate time and hope for healing where needed.  I know from experience that it’s never to late.

Thanks Maya Angelou – once again I say to myself… “When I know better I do better”.  That helps.  And now I hug my children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren every chance I get.  And really feel it.

And I’m grateful.

A Life and Death “Aha” Moment – No Words Can Express – Thank You Though!


This is such a long story about my “Aha Moment” but I have to write it – I’m 71 years old right now and I’ve lived with this for many, many years.  I’ll never be able to express enough gratitude for this one – to Oprah, Eckhart Tolle, my husband, and many, many others who shared their stories.   Now I’m sharing mine.

I feel my lack of self-value started in my early childhood.  One of my most painful memories is my Mom taking me for a ride and then blowing my mind.  She told me that my Dad never wanted me, that I had been terrified of him and all other men from the time I was a baby up until ….  I could feel myself shrinking down and slumping in the passenger seat of our Chevy.  I felt deep shame and made a vow that I would be even more invisible and less bother – to everyone.  Except my sister.  Of course, I was devastated and wrote a long long entry in my diary that extended to additional notebook paper.

Next chapter.  Sometime later, no idea how long, but my Dad read my diary and he was very emotional with a generous dose of anger  – now I know it was at my Mom, but it sounded like it was me –  when he told me his story.  I didn’t ask for it, was extremely uncomfortable and ended up being sad for him.   He sobbed as he told me that it was not me that he didn’t want, it was another child.   I was born in 1940, he had been suffering pretty indescribable needs during that time, took old broken frames from the factory where he worked, repaired and made them beautiful, and sold them.  Sometimes he and Mom sold honey and Mom’s homemade jams door-to-door to make a living.  Although it was from a child’s experience and frame-of-reference, I kind of understood that they lived in pretty dire circumstances.  He was feeling great weight and a lot of anger, raising 3 young children during the depression and here comes a fourth!  I  doubt that he told me then, but I clearly knew he had made it clear to Mom that he wanted no more children but that she continued to want more children.  (Like he had no part it in!!).

Anyway, he told me that I was a very colicky baby, had difficulty sleeping and he would be up all night with me, rocking or walking me, and then have to go to work in the morning.   I felt like even more of a burden by this time.  I certainly didn’t feel better.   Plus I felt responsible for his lack of sleep, eating more food that he could manage to provide, and on and on.  I was pre-teen when this drama played out.

He did end up telling me that I gave him great pleasure with my piano playing and that he was glad that I had been born.  I highly doubted that for some reason.

During my school years, when I had to ask dad for paper money, pencils, etc. – which I probably did abuse – (I ask for very little but even then at some level knew I was testing to see if he loved me enough to give me something I ask for).  It was torture.  He groaned, looked disgusted and grudgingly would reach into his pocket to deliver the nickle, dime, quarter – whatever it was at that time.  I was looking for love.

As I’m writing, I’m realizing even more about my AHA Moment that I had yesterday.  I realize how I’ve measured my value by my success, external things.  Wonder where I started that pattern!!  Wow, as I deal with this issue, I’m sure I’ll make some major changes in my life in yet another direction.

Back to my AHA Moment – At sometime in my youth, I had vowed that I would never be in a position to have to ask anyone for anything.  That if I couldn’t get it myself, I’d do without.  That has not exactly been my experience – but it certainly has been my vow.  At some point, I also added this to the equation – that if I could not afford to take care of myself, if I were to ever become dependent physically or financially on anyone, I would die.  Not like, “Oh I’ll just die if I have to do that”.  No – that I would die.  At times I had a plan on how I would do it, other times, even recently,  just vowed and knew that if I ever came to that place, no doubt I’d be able to carry it out.   That was sent out into the universe!!!  A core belief of mine.  Unconscious about what I was doing and accomplishing in my body with that vow.

After one of my divorces, I went to a divorce recovery class and clearly learned the mess that we make of our lives with our vows.  They’re not a good thing.  But somehow I didn’t relate that to my “knowing” that I’d die.  But yes, it was a vow.

About seven years ago, I left my business in the Southwest, retired and moved to the Pacific Northwest.  I had built a great referral business from my website that was bringing enough income for me to live pretty comfortably with my social security that I had recently started collecting.  I had invested in two rental condos in my town, put a good deal of cash down but structured them to protect my tax position with my income.  Within a few months, my referral income started dropping precipitously.  My real estate expenses were still quite large but manageable.  I had a pretty good savings stash so felt protected.   I was certain that my business was going to come back so continued carrying it financially for many months but alas, the economy was changing in ways none of us fully expected.  It took out my income over the next couple of years.  So many adjustments in a lifestyle that I lived for quite a few years – very difficult to change but was working on it.

Then, I got a notice of audit from the IRS for three separate years.  I had been having my taxes prepared by a former IRS auditor and CPA and felt fine about being audited.  My accountant would accompany me.  I made four trips back  to consult with my accountant and each time, she was extremely stressed and ask if I could come back a few weeks later.  I had other business to take care of there so agreed to do that.  On the fourth trip, she still was unable to cope with my situation.  By then I was extremely stressed and panicked.  I was the only one talking to the IRS and was feeling very intimidated and vulnerable.  I ended up hiring tax attorneys near where I am living who dealt with situations like mine and they redid my taxes – after lugging boxes of receipts to Seattle – and said that the IRS was correct – that I owed them $38,000 plus penalties and interest.

I had been in a car accident in 1994, had been receiving treatment for injuries.  Short story is – insurance ended up denying payment for all treatment – I can’t remember the details, I’ve put them out of my mind.  Basically I ended up feeling that they believed I was faking my injuries.  I was not.  In any event, I ended up paying about $9,000 in medical fees.

Most of my savings were gone.  Over this period of time, I short sold the two investment condos – my cash investment in those was gone – and then some.

Within a very few months I was broke!

There were way too many financial issues and adjustments and personal issues that go with those failures – business and investments – all things financial in my life were changed.  And of course that changed my life.  In every way.

Right after I had gotten my notice of IRS audit, I had met the man who is now my husband.  We traveled for several months in his motorhome.  He ask that I pay half of the expenses and I was still ok, I thought, so I agreed.  I was still paying all of my own expenses and my income had been dropping steadily, however, my business income had been consistent for sometime before my move, so I was certain that I’d be fine.  I wasn’t.   My husband had been used to splitting everything 50/50 in his relationships and I tried to do that, but it was becoming extremely difficult.  I talked to him about it and we decided that we would change to percentages, based on our incomes.  That worked somewhat but I continued to struggle.  I can handle struggle and have always landed on my feet.  But, I’d always had income and a way to make more if I temporarily needed it.  Different now – way different now.

I’ve known for some time that if I were ever to be in a relationship, that I’d need to make adjustments and thought I’d done a good job in educating myself, thinking thru scenarios, was well prepared for a true relationship after years of no real relationship – other than my relationship with my work and friends.  I’ve been very independent, and remember my vow – never to be financially dependent on anyone – ever again!!   Vows – now I can see clearly why I failed financially – a major life lesson that I was learning and probably the deepest healing I’ve ever experienced.  It was so painful and bizarre at the time.  As soon as I’d handled one financial mess – not really handled, just paid, tried to let go of anger, feeling trapped, no good options – another seemingly impossible financial situation occurred.   It was uncanny after always being able to get on my feet, find a good solution.  This time, and in every instance, my only solution was to pay.  Until I was broke and dependent on someone else financially!!

All of this really came to a head with I started having serious health problems in January of 2011.  Suddenly.  I was in a lot of stress with my Son’s botched surgery rendering him disabled, his family in serious stress with very little food, faced being homeless and in severe constant pain after his back surgery.  My daughter’s long time marriage was in serious trouble, much pain for my like-a-son, son-in-law and my dear daughter.  It was all so tragic – all of them.

Oh, and in 2009, my husband and I were in an accident on a major freeway, overturned our RV and I was injured with injuries that I still deal with every day – not life threatening, thank God.

And in the last five years, there were multiple deaths in my immediate family, and close loves, my Dad, my ex-husband and closest friend, two other closest friends, two sisters and my brother-in-law.  Some major stressors here!

Even though I’ve had my share of challenges during my life, I’ve had a fun, inspired, adventurous, pretty fulfilling life, some great loves and problems that were manageable and had solutions.  All of a sudden, everything was totally out of control and unmanageable in almost every area of my life.  And my son had desperate needs – financial needs, and me with no money and unable to get by myself.

I blamed my medical issues on these stresses – and they did have a part.  But there was something deeper and I could never – or didn’t want to – acknowledge what it was.   I didn’t put it all together until this month in fact.  It came out in marital pain.  My husband and I have had many challenging issues since our marriage late in our life.  It’s basically a wonderful relationship but not without pain when our issues collide.  We are both excellent problem solvers, have great resolve, sincerely want a fulfilling relationship and are committed.  We’re both open to taking responsibility for our own issues and working thru them.

Using all the skills that I’ve learned from Eckhart Tolle, Oprah and many others on her shows, I wrote him a letter expressing my pain – about myself.  He really listened.  I listened.  I had been paying almost my entire check towards our expenses and medical bills and failing every month with my finances – reinforcing my feelings of being a financial failure.  This has been going on for months.   My husband initiated a “talk” about my letter.  He suggested that I no longer pay rent and he wanted to pay my medical bills because he felt that some of his issues had caused my hospitalizations – in reality, we were partners in that one.  But he “got it” and my immediate relief told me volumes.  I felt healed but didn’t understand why immediately.   I don’t know if I even comprehend everything yet but my shame is gone.  It’s gone and I didn’t even know how huge it was in me until it was gone.  It feels like a miracle.   It may take some time to figure this out but my gratefulness starts right here!

I flashed back to my Dad grudgingly giving me a nickle, a quarter, whatever it was.   As an adult, I have so often thought how loving it would have been for my Dad to look at me adoringly and with love and say – here it is Daughter.  I love you.   Get some pretty pencils.  Idealistic, but wow – would I have felt cherished.   It would not have been about the money – it would have been the giving and receiving and the love that went with it, filling a need.  The love.   Instead it turned into things, giving myself – and others –  things to feel love – not from others as that has always been very uncomfortable.   Duh.    I’ve given a lot away, but I’ve always gotten way too much for myself, as well – way more than I’ve needed.  Profound.  Now I can apply the phrases to myself and really get it – it’s not what you have, it’s who you are.  Now I need to learn more about who I am.  My husband freely tells me.   I’m really watching to see what it is about me that I love and appreciate.  It’s nice to have people – that matter to me – mirror how they see me.

Yesterday, we were on a trip to the mountains to pick huckleberries.  I’d had about 3 hours sleep the night before and was semi-dosing in the car when I realized – the vow!  My health problems.  No words can come close to expressing my freedom and clarity.   Suddenly I knew –  and now I’m free!!!!  Just like that (I’m snapping my fingers:)  Free of fear of death – at least if it happens, I’m no longer doing it to myself.  I was living in terror – in the night especially – of my death.   I believe my subconscious was telling me what it was doing.   I had become financially incapable of caring for myself and my mind and body were carrying out the vow.   I was killing myself.  I knew from all of my medical tests that I am in exceptional health but I was having severe blood pressure problems that were threatening stroke or heart attack and I have no doubt that I was well on my way to accomplishing my vow.  It had to be causing damage to my body.

I was in a downward spiral and in a dreadfully dark place.   It never occurred to me to talk to my husband and ask him for more financial help.   It wasn’t even in my frame of reference.   I was stuck, and in my darkness saw myself in a shameful place and a dismal failure and not deserving to be here.    I was saying the words to him, not realizing I was asking for help,  but without the intent to get help – felt I was stating where I was and why.  My unconscious intent was to die.   He heard me and loves me and problem solved.   Words can’t express – thank you husband.  Thank you Oprah and Eckhart Tolle!  There are no specifics that led to my “Aha moment” – it was a collection of so many things from the shows and Tolle books and discussions I’ve listened to.  How do I ever express how my life has changed.

I clearly understand things I’ve learned from Eckhard Tolle – that once we become conscious of any issue, it’s power is gone, the pain body can never harm us again as long as we remain conscious.  I think my husband understands his part in my healing, I hope so.  Maybe no one can fully understand but I think he does.  I’ll bet Eckhart Tolle and Oprah would know exactly what has happened within me.  Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!!!

And I can feel my Dad rejoicing – he never meant harm.   I know that.

Right now I have such peace!