Funerals

I was watching a TV show the other night where one of the characters went to a relative’s funeral and was the only one who showed up. I remember thinking how sad that was. Evidently the relative was a bitter, angry, nasty, person and had alienated the rest of the family. And that got me thinking. (Don’t you just love it when a word, a phrase, a TV episode, triggers a blog post?)

I sometimes wonder what life will be like without me in it. I know the world won’t stop. There is just so much I still want to do, so I have no intention of dying any time soon, but I’m curious about what it will be like. Will my dogs miss me (assuming I die before they do)? Will my partner find someone else? And how long will my spirit hang around? Will anyone know I’m there?

I don’t think I’m afraid of dying. I am afraid of what I’ll miss. Is that the same thing? I think I’m more curious than afraid.

Funerals are for the living to celebrate the life of the one who died. I know they can be sad occasions, but I think they should be celebrations. A time to remember. And as long as someone remembers the dead, they are not truly dead.

Until my death arrives, I think I’ll hang around and live the best life I can.

Dark night

There are times when I wake up at night and wonder why me? I know that isn’t a good question and that there is no answer, but I ask it anyway. All I wanted was to be able to enjoy a few years of retirement doing something I enjoyed instead of toiling away to earn a living at jobs that were mostly unsatisfying and soul-crushing. I was good at my jobs, but grew bored quickly; then the jobs became a chore. I have been working since I was 16 – not always full-time – but I’m weary of working. Bone tired. So why can’t I enjoy a few years of leisure to compensate?

The middle of the night is probably not the best time for philosophical meanderings for me. I only sleep for 2 or 3 hours at a time before waking. Very rarely do I sleep for solid chunks of 4 or more hours. Part of this is because the dogs tend to wake me when they want to go out. Since one is getting elderly, she’s 12, and the other has a history of ‘marking’, if they want to go out, I let them out. What’s weird is that if Steve asks them if they want to go out, they just nestle further into the bed covers (yes, they both sleep in bed with us!) but as soon as I ask the same question, they’re running for the doggie door, which is closed off at night.

Lots of things go through my brain in the middle of the night. Things like will it bother me when I lose my hair? How long do I really have of a quality life before the cancer kills me? It isn’t fair that I have to deal with this; I want the opportunity to dance at my grandchildrens’ weddings. I want time to finish writing all the stories in my head; I want time to be able to go to all the places I haven’t been yet – or at least some of them.

I don’t know how much time I have; I may not know for quite some time. Everything hinges on how well the chemo works. And I’m not sure whether or not I want to be on chemo for the next several years.

Then I tell myself that nobody really knows how long they have to be on this earth. So I will try to make the most of whatever time I have left. I will continue to be grateful for every day I open my eyes on this beautiful world we live in; I will continue to be grateful for family and friends; I will continue to be grateful for whatever opportunities I have to have fun. And I will do these things for as long as I am able.

Whining, and other nasty habits

We all know them; those people who are always whining about something. Or talking about how unlucky they are. Or extolling the virtues of having nothing good happen to them. I have a friend or two like that. They wear me down if I listen to them too long. And, I’ll admit it, there are times I want to slap the whine right out of them. I want to rant and jump up and down on their heads and tell them how good they have it compared to some other people I know. I don’t know what makes some people so negative while others are always positive no matter what happens.

I have to think about my own life and how negative I used to be. When I hear my friends whining about inconsequential things, I think back to when I was younger – was a a whiner like that? And the answer is, yes, I probably was. I felt so beaten down by my life that I couldn’t see anything positive. I did manage to change how I thought, and I try to help others to become more positive. But I forgot that in order for someone to change, s/he has to first realize there is a reason to change, and then has to want to change. There are people who are perfectly happy being miserable – my mother was one of those. So they are not going to change.

I have one friend, I’ll call her Karen, who is going through a difficult time right now. She has cancer, no job, and no health insurance. She could so easily fall into the pity pot and whine and cry; but she didn’t. She set out to find how she could get her life saving surgery and gathered up an impressive support network. I know she will be fine.

I have another friend, I’ll call her Kathy, who has a wonderful life. She has a good job, a strong family connection, and friends all over the world. But she is constantly whining about how she can’t find a good man; about how the only luck she ever has is bad luck; and how some of these bad things ‘could only happen’ to her. She doesn’t really believe she has any worth, and she will continue to attract negative events and people to her.

I truly believe we teach people who to treat us by how we treat ourselves. Karen has friends who would do anything for her; Kathy has friends who will continue to use and abuse her. The only difference between these two people is their attitude about life and their expectations about how life will treat them.

Holidays

Did you know that the term ‘holiday’ began as Holy Day? Did you know that the holly and the ivy were considered sacred by the ancient Druids? Did you know that the Christmas tree is a continuation of the practice of bringing greenery inside the house in winter to make sure that Spring comes back?

There are so many traditions this time of year, no matter what holiday you celebrate, or don’t celebrate. Chanukah, Christmas, Solstice, Kwanzaa, Festivus, New Year.

So whatever you celebrate, thank you for a wonderful year with your comments, your blog posts, and your support. May Peace and Joy surround you now and always.

Be Yourself

“Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.”
― Dr. Seuss

‘Be yourself’ the sages say, but they don’t tell you how to be yourself. How can you be yourself if you don’t know who you are? I know who I am; I stick to my principles. Sometimes it’s hard to remember what they are when the whole world seems to be crumbling around me. And there are some people who make it difficult for me to remember to love the person even when they are being obnoxious. How does one gain self awareness? How can we become who we are supposed to be?

I don’t have all the answers; I don’t think any one person does. There are enlightened people in this world; they will be the first to tell you they don’t have all the answers. I read a lot, consider, revise, discard, read some more, listen to people, talk to them, then make up my own mind about things.

We have forgotten civility – it’s been a long time coming. Does anyone else remember a time when we could have discussions, debates, on important issues without resorting to name-calling? Without labeling someone a Nazi or a Communist? We don’t respect ourselves, let alone each other. If we have no love nor respect for ourselves, how can we respect and love others?

There are things about myself I don’t necessarily like; some I can change, some I can’t. I’m short – I can’t change that. I’m overweight – I can change that and I am. I hate my hair color – I do change that -regularly. I like my eye color – I don’t want to change that. There are personality traits I have that I inherited from my parents; some I like and some I don’t. I can rail against my parents for making me who I am or I can act like the grown up person I am and work on changing what I don’t like or at least harnessing that trait for positive instead of negative.

I used to worry about what others thought about me; I wanted to be loved by everyone. Then I discovered I was tearing myself apart trying to be all things to all people. I decided that I didn’t like everyone I met so why should I expect everyone I met to like me? I began to change. I started the journey to becoming who I am meant to be. It has been a long journey with many detours along the way. And I expect there will be more detours.

There are people in this world who are negative, who are always complaining, as I used to do. Now, I focus on what I want, on what I have, instead of on what I don’t have and what I don’t want. Although positive thinking wasn’t easy at first, I have found that it is now almost second nature; I don’t have to think about it most of the time. We can find the positive in every negative if we only look.

Being myself is a lifelong journey. And life itself is a journey; a journey I am enjoying more as I become more who I am.

Dogs

I love dogs; they are like 4-legged furry children. We currently share our home with two. Peanut is a 9-year-old red merle Queensland Heeler. We rescued her when she was 9 months old; her previous owners gave her up but we don’t know why. Spud is a 4-year-old black and tan phantom Miniature Poodle. We rescued him when he was 11 months old; his owners moved and left him with a neighbor who turned him in to the Humane Society within 2 days. Both of them came with ‘baggage’ that we have learned to live with. Peanut comes when we call her but with head down and almost crawling on her belly as if we’re going to hit her; Spud is insecure and marked everything when he first came home (he’s much better now but still occasionally freaks out and marks something).

Peanut took to Spud right away, even though he bugs the heck out of her. And there are times when she aggravates him. They fight over toys; each one always wants the toy the other one has. And Peanut tattles on Spud when he’s outside barking; she comes barreling in the doggie door yipping to let us know Spud is being ‘bad’. But she also is very protective of him and will get between him and danger every time. She doesn’t like when I bathe or brush Spud because she thinks I’m doing something bad to him.

They keep us entertained when they are playing together; they love to snuggle with each other and with us on the couch or in the bed.

Peanut is a herding dog, and when we had cats she would try to herd them. Now anyone who has been owned by cats knows you can’t make a cat do anything it doesn’t want to do! But she tried. She also loves to chase toys; we throw and she catches. The only problem is she doesn’t want to quit.

Spud is an athlete and loves jumping up and down as if he’s on a pogo stick. He can take a flying leap from the bedroom door and land in the middle of the bed; a distance of at least 10 feet. He also loves running circles; from the backyard, into the house, onto the back of the couch, back outside. Peanut just sits and watches as if she can’t figure out what he’s doing.

I love my dogs!