Monday, December 30, 2019

Attitude of Gratitude

The new year is upon us once again. It will mark the end of the first decade in the year 2000. Politically, our country is a mess. The United States is divided. She is angry, frustrated and scared. Her people are fighting, disrespectful and openly hurtful in many ways. Many of her people are sick, hungry and abandoned or alone. Her ground is scorched, drowned and blown away. So, what is there to be grateful for?

 I say, "Look at what you have; not at what you don't have. Therein lie your blessings." List your Blessings and be grateful for them. Soon, you will smile and feel happier.

Here is what I am grateful for:
  1. I am healthy. I may have osteoarthritis with its concomitant aches and pains, but I can do pretty much anything I want physically. Sure, my priorities have changed over time. I am seventy years old now. When my mother was seventy, she was dying from breast cancer. I don't want to scuba dive anymore, but I look forward to snorkeling The Great Barrier Reef in three weeks. I don't want to ski, but I can snowshoe. I don't want to run a race, but I can walk two miles or more. I walked three miles the other day. I got tired and sore, but that's just because I haven't walked that distance in a long time. If I were to do it more regularly, my body would be used to it and hurt much less or not at all.
  2. I have enough money. I am not rich, although some would perceive me as such. Whatever I have, I try to share it as much as possible. I do not share to my detriment, but to keep the flow of abundance coming to me. I try to help those less fortunate or in trouble when I can. I use my intuition to determine if a handout to a street person is in our best interest or not. I don't know one way or the other, but I have to feel good about my donations. I won't help when others are better off helping themselves. I may assist, but I will not "do for". Every person must do for him/her Self. Some are at a disadvantage. I get that. I try to help when and however I can. Again, I have to feel good about my giving. Giving is not a one-way street. You really do get back what you give out.
  3. I have a loving husband who gets me and supports me no matter what. He accepts me for exactly who I am. I never thought I would meet a man like that. I waited a long time for him. We married when I was fifty-one years old. I kept a glimmer of hope alive.  I also admit that I whined a lot along the way. Just ask my siblings and my closest friends. Sorry about that.
  4. I am very proud of my handsome, wonderful and successful son. I am proud of my Self too. I was an unwed mother when it was not a popular or accepted life choice. His father was never in his life, so I was both mother and father. I was an emerging Soul with an adventurous Spirit. I always did what I was told, and never spoke my mind. I didn't realize I had opinions as a young person. Then, at seventeen years old, I decided my way of being was not working for me anymore. I declared over a Whopper at the Burger King in Waltham, Massachusetts that I was going to "try everything in life at least once". That was the day my Life Quest began. I had already met my son's father, and my first "Love at First Sight". During our relationship, I had visions of how it would progress. At eighteen, I knew I would get pregnant by him and never marry him. That thought didn't scare me, I just accepted it and didn't worry. I was the oldest of twelve in a working-class Irish Catholic family. I knew how to care for a baby. So, when I got pregnant by him in Colorado at age twenty, I was excited. I wanted a baby to love me like no boy had ever done. I felt unloved in general and didn't love my Self very much. I had a lot to learn. I put my son through more than most little kids experience because I was set on "finding myself". My mother used to say, "Kathleen, when are you going to find yourself?" "Soon, Ma," was all I ever said. She died before she could see the results of my Quest.
  5. My beautiful son married a wonderful and beautiful woman. They gave us an equally beautiful and funny grandson. This little boy makes me so happy. He fills my Spirit up like nothing else can. Our relationship keeps me feeling young. My inner child is very happy. My body is happy too because he keeps me moving and engaged. My creativity blossoms around him. That creativity allowed me to write books and create a business: logiebearadventures.com.
  6. My husband and I have two adorable little dogs. They are both a joy and a pain in the ass. Our lives would be emptier without them. They are our "Love Dogs".
  7. We have many good friends. We have made friends our own age and are not limited to weekend socialization. We also maintain friendships from our past. There is nothing like friends who have known you your entire life. Bullshit cannot survive within those relationships, and so we keep growing. We also maintain friendships across distances. Those relationships just require more planning.
  8. We have loving siblings and many family members who love us. I thank God for them every day. Nobody is perfect. The lack of perfection is what makes Life interesting. Family dynamics should be messy. We are talking about individuals who grew up in the same house with different perceptions of that house and experiences in it. My experience as the oldest is not the same as that of my sister in the middle, or that of the youngest. We came out of that house with our individual "baggage", but we leave that baggage at the door when we gather for important occasions. Our family knows how to laugh together and we love each other. That Love is the most important Gift we have.
  9. My home and the area in which I live is beautiful. I live by the ocean. Living on the ocean was a life-long dream I never thought would realize. Sometimes I still cannot believe it. My husband and I designed our home and had it built. After eleven years in it, we still look at each other and say with gratitude, "We did this! Holy crap!"
  10. I learned to smile, laugh and joke about myself. I am the ice breaker in any social event. I learned that playing "the fool" is not such a bad thing. Many people want to act foolishly, but find it debilitating. There always has to be one who breaks that ice and makes it a little easier for people around her to let the child within out safely. That inner child is the one who keeps us young. It is the one who keeps us moving. It is the one who expresses Joy. Joy is what makes us happy. The expression of Joy is one thing in Life that must be kept alive. I decided in a revelation one Sunday morning over tea, that my mission in life is just that: I keep Joy alive. It sounds like a simple thing, but trust me. It is not.
  11. I began singing as a child to Elvis, Pat Boone, and Mitch Miller's bouncing ball. I learned to sing in Latin at Saint Catherine's Elementary School in Norwood, Massachusetts. I sang Beatles harmonies with two girlfriends on the front steps. I jumped up in bars and Elk halls to grab a microphone any chance made available to me. I always loved a spotlight and a microphone. You'd never know that to see me as a young introverted child. But I changed over time. I changed consciously. I chose Change. I still sing. Now I sing with the community chorus. We perform two concerts every year, and in the coming year, I will get to sing on the ultimate stage: Carnegie Hall. I am so grateful for my imperfect singing voice. It is good enough for me to derive much Joy from singing. My Spirit is lifted and I feel so happy. My choral director says she loves my singing face. She looks for my face at every concert because it expresses all my Joy. And, I cannot stand still when I sing. I love to dance.
  12. I am grateful that my arthritis does not prevent me from dancing like a teenager when the spirit moves. I got to dance just this past weekend at my friend's son's wedding. I was one of the first ones on the dance floor, and one of the last to leave it. I spent the next day resting all day, but I had so much fun. My twenty-two-year-old Goddaughter told me I was so much fun and she missed me at the end of the wedding reception. Her sister, my special twenty-eight-year-old friend, told me the same thing. I am so grateful my knees can keep up with me. I must not take them for granted. 
Happy New Year, Everyone! I hope it brings us all more Good Health, Healing for those in pain now, and pain relief. I hope that those who live in fear will find all the support and guidance they need to feel safe and find happiness through Love. Love is the opposite of fear. The Light to illuminate the darkness. Let us all find the Courage to shine our personal Light in our lives and in the world. Our world needs all the Light it can handle. I pray it has the courage to receive that Love and Light we shine.

Try to shine every moment of every day. I know that challenge is difficult for many. But, it is not impossible. Take one baby step at a time towards the Light. Take a risk when the moment presents itself to shine your own Light. Shine your Light through Love and not in fear. Be respectful and don't take anything or anyone for granted. Express appreciation to everyone and for everything. Smile and Breathe. "Thank you for that parking spot or this beautiful sunset," I say. Every moment of gratitude is a matter of levels and degrees. No amount is too big or too small. It is all "just right".

Bring it on, 2020! I'm ready for whatever you have waiting for Me. I welcome you with open arms, an open mind, and an open heart. I wish the same for all of You. Peace.

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

70th Birthday Adventure

I decided long ago that while my body parts still work, I will use them as best I can until I can't. My 70th birthday is a biggie, and so I checked two more adventures off my bucket list: Ziplining and kayaking. Thank God I have a supportive and loving husband, because he reluctantly joined me on the kayaking portion of my program. He is not a strong swimmer and is not particularly comfortable in the water. Well, after this adventure, maybe the worst has happened and he will be more confident going forward. Time will tell. This is to say, that Larry is the best husband in the whole world.

We left on Sunday, June 30th, and headed northwest for three and a half hours to Charlemont, Massachusetts: home of Zoar Outdoor. An ad for this company came up on my Facebook feed. I cannot say enough about how great the staff was and the adventures we experienced. We never once felt unsafe ziplining. Kayaking was much more of a challenge. The experience I chose is call the "Zip and Dip".

We checked into Hawk Mountain Lodge (the blue building), and discovered we were the only ones registered to stay there. The Lodge is a renovated 1800's farmhouse with only a DVD hooked to the television and Sirius radio from my phone to listen to. Rubin was our Lodge Manager, and he had his own apartment attached to the house. Other than meeting at checkin, where we merely took our key from a marked box outside, we never saw Rubin again. Oh, I did confirm that first night that we were the only ones in the house and asked if I could lock the outside doors. I learned the following day that nobody locks their doors. I got away from that practice decades ago.

Our suite consisted of two bedrooms and a very large bathroom. We used the adjoining bedroom with two twin beds as our dressing room. We loved having lots of space. There was no air conditioning, so our windows were left open and we were fairly comfortable. After unpacking, we drove to Shelburne Falls to explore because our friend, Nancy, told us how beautiful it was there. We found the falls and the potholes, along with the absolutely gorgeous "Bridge of Flowers". We roamed around taking pictures, found a "packie" and bought a bottle of Irish Whiskey for nightcaps, and went to the West End Pub for dinner. The lodge had no glasses for drinking, so we bought a couple of rock glasses from the Pub and used those over the weekend. Our view of the Deerfield River from the Pub and of the flower bridge was just magical.


We got a reasonable night's sleep before venturing a short walk down the street to the Cold River Cafe for breakfast. I tried making coffee at the Lodge, but there were no supplies beyond grounds, a filter and paper cups, and no dishes or spoons for our oatmeal. We both had a hearty breakfast, then headed over to register for ziplining in the green building.

The staff were all twenty-somethings; very friendly, perky and professional. Three women were our guides: Amanda, Emily and Ashley. We think Ashley was a trainee. Kevin was the manager, and was also very nice. He checked in on us throughout the day. Of course, I told everyone it was my birthday (I also mentioned it when I registered for this trip), and all day staff members wished me Happy Birthday whether we met them or not! I loved that. I brought Logie Bear along for his newest adventure. You can read about that on logiebearadventures.com.

We got harnessed up and hiked a short way to the practice zip ingwhere we were given lessons that we practiced before hopping in an open jeep and driven to the top of the eleven-zip course on the mountain. The views up there were spectacular. Each zip line was a different length and speed. We rappelled down from a platform three times as well, and we had so much fun!!! It took us a few tries to zip; braking with our left hand that was gloved with a brake pad on it, and landing on a step stool at the platform where Emily unhooked our harnesses. We were never unhooked from the trees, the platforms or the zips. It felt very safe. Both Larry and I had a ball. We also met a nice family: Pamela, a fifty-one-year-old businesswoman, and her two adult children: Kailey and Sam. We all had so much fun together, and they made me feel good telling me there is no way I looked seventy. I can't get enough of hearing that I must admit.


Kevin provided us with a lunch in the large Pavillion of turkey and ham on rolls with lettuce and tomato, macaroni salad, hummus, chips, salsa and cookies. We ate our fill, and got ready for the next adventure: kayaking. We met Kim, another early-fifty businesswoman, who was staying at Mount Snow with her motorbike-competing husband and two sons. She doesn't do that, so she came by herself with us. Ross was our twenty-something guide, who got us our PFD flotation vests, helmets and paddles. Jim drove us all with sit on top kayaks in tow and we were off to the Deerfield River. The hydro-dam raises the water level every afternoon, so that is when kayaking is best. There are lots of very large boulders in the river, as well as tree trunks, islands, and the bottom is covered with various size rocks and boulders.

The river was running at what looked like a good clip to us with category 1-2 whitewater in more places than we anticipated. Some of the waves were a real challenge. I gwamped (a term they use for ungracefully making it over a big rock without tipping over the kayak) over several boulders I didn't see coming, and said a lot of bad words on my trip. Kayaking this river was as much challenge as I needed or will ever want, so I felt really good about my future kayaking in my own boat on the Sakonnet River at home.

We had one very scary moment when Larry hit a similar rock after our snack break and his kayak flipped over. The kayaks had straps that held our knees down, and his were still attached to the boat. I got through a rapid and turned around to see his kayak flipped and his arms flailing. I panicked and began yelling to Ross who was quickly paddling to his rescue, "Save him! Save him! He can't swim!" I was beside myself with worry. I just kept being carried farther and farther away by the river's current no matter how hard I tried to paddle towards my (what I thought) drowning husband. Kim was more experienced than I and could paddle harder, so she was between us. She picked up his floating paddle and after many tries getting back onto his kayak, my exhausted husband and our guide caught up to Kim to retrieve his paddle and we continued down river. Very shortly after Larry realized his greatest fear in almost drowning, he rode up on another big boulder and got stuck there. I turned around again to check on him and saw him sitting pretty atop this big rock. "Are you kidding me right now?" I yelled to God. Ross got to him and lifted one end of his kayak and swung him off the boulder to free Larry once more.

We had a few more rapids to get through before Ross pulled us one by one to shore and out of the river. Once we were fully out, I hugged my husband so hard, holding back tears and trying not to gush out of fear too much. I didn't want to embarrass him, but I was so grateful he was okay. On our way across the street to the Pavillion to see the photos Ross took, two pickup trucks came to a screaching halt close to us on the road. The lead truck's driver hopped out yelling at the truck behind him. Apparently, the second truck swerved around the front truck, cutting him off. The front truck was an emergency person and was rushing to the scene of a person who had just drowned on the river. I backed up thinking there was going to be a fist fight and maybe a gun drawn. It was that intense. But, the second truck just screached around the guy yelling and hauled ass away as fast as he could.

We said goodbye to all our new friends and the staff, showered and went to a lovely dinner at The Blue Rock restaurant. Cosmos were the drink of my weekend, and we enjoyed beautiful scenery the entire time. We walked to an ice cream/fudge store and I got a sunday for dessert. We enjoyed nightcaps of whiskey again, and toasted to a great adventure where we both survived to tell the tale. Larry is bruised and stiff but alive. Thank God! I asked him if he'd kayak with me at home, and he didn't say no. The worst already happened to him, and the Sakonnet kayaking will be a "piece of cake" compared to our river experience. Onward and upward.

Saturday, May 4, 2019

Age is Just a Number

Super Bowl 2019!
On July first, I will turn seventy. I remember when seventy sounded so old. I remember when thirty sounded old! Once I reached the age I thought was old, I realized it really wasn't. My Uncle Charlie once told me that after turning forty, he was the most comfortable in his own skin he had ever felt. At the time, I was in my early thirties. I felt depressed as I approached forty, but remembered what Uncle Charlie told me, and on my fortieth birthday, I felt good!
65th Birthday, Ireland

I was still playing tennis and fast-pitching a softball with the Newton Womens' City League. At age forty-one, I hit my one and only homerun! I was never a power hitter. My job was to get on base. Whenever I hit that left-field homerun and rounded third base, I kept yelling, "Don't make me slide! Don't make me slide!" I never learned to slide and was afraid of hurting myself.
35th Birthday

At age thirty-five, my right leg gave out for the first time while running to first base. I knew that moment was the beginning of a progression of physical breakdowns, but I didn't get worried. I just kept plugging along; stretching before and during a game, and icing my shins when I stopped line drives with them and making the plays on my knees. I remember those days fondly.

Softball Days
I also loved playing tennis at work. I joined the tennis league there too, and at thirty-five (or thereabouts), I won second place in the league finals. I remember how it felt to beat my friend, Wendy, who was so much better than me to make second place. I floated on air as I made every shot she hit at me: long shots, runs to the net, and pivots left or right. I hit everything! I saw her shocked face when I made what seemed to be a great shot of hers, and how it felt to make them. But, once I played for the win against a much older woman, I got killed. I was not playing the same game at all, but Beryl deserved it. She was really, really good. My excuse was that I had a cold. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Upper Falls Heritage Day!
At forty-two, I took a pitching clinic the winter before the spring season began. I remember the "pop" sound my right shoulder made when I injured it doing the windmill motion I had finally mastered. Ice and Ibuprofen and toughing it out was my solution. So, once the season began, and I continued to play tennis and pitch softball. My injured shoulder progressed to tennis elbow, and then a swollen lump on my wrist so large I couldn't hold a pen. This cumulative injury benched me for good, and landed me in physical therapy for eight months. I never played either sport again, and my shoulder still acts up now and then. But, I have my memories.
60-Mile Breast Bancer Walk, 2000

On the upside, I recently attended my great-nephew's baseball game and played catch with my nephew and great niece. My muscle memory came right back the first time I heard the plop of that softball in the glove's web. It took a few throws to get warmed up, but I kept up with both of them. My great niece is a pitcher as was her father. "Guess who else used to pitch," he announced to her. I raised my hand like a little kid and said, "Me, Me!" I loved it, and still miss it now and then. I felt proud that at my age, I can still play catch and not feel pain the next day. "That's a testament to your level of fitness," my movement coach told me. I feel proud of myself, and happy to be healthy as I approach seventy years old; arthritis be damned!
Hope Walks for Diana

My entire forty-nineth year was spent worrying about turning fifty. But when the day came, I rented a vacation home in Oak Bluffs on Martha's Vineyard during my timeshare week in Vineyard Haven, and threw myself a kick-ass party! That was the last summer my mother, who had breast cancer, spent on her happy place island home. My family, friends and I love to share memories of that two weeks on the island. And, once again, I realized turning fifty was nothing! All that worry for nothing.
Singing with abandon

Trinity Repertory Theater, Providence
Age really is just a number, as long as you keep moving and pushing yourself to try new things. Smiling, laughing; singing and dancing are some of the keys to a happy life. Playing like you are still a kid helps too. I love to play with my three-year-old grandson. "Come on, Gramma," he says to me while waving me on, fulling expecting I can join him on whatever climbing structure he explores. "That's made for little people," I have to say sometimes. Which is true. If that structure could hold my weight, I'd be on it with him. I am so grateful to be physically able to play with him.

BFFs from Childhood
St. Patty's Day, 2019, Newport, RI
I will also never get tired of hearing, "You don't look seventy." I just feel like me! I still feel eighteen inside sometimes. When my knees hurt, and I can't jump (both from pain and from peeing in my pants a little), I also know that when I don't think about it, I can jump with the best of them. When I dance with abandon, especially to a live band, I can jump, kick and shimmy with any twenty-something smiling at me in my wake. I LOVE that!

Snow shoeing for the first time, 2019
Family Vacation, NH, 2019
So, for my seventieth birthday, my husband, Larry, and I are driving to the Berkshire mountains and spending my birth day zip lining fifty feet in the air through the trees and kayaking. I asked for a sea kayak for my birthday, so I can go with my seventy-two-year-old friend on the Sakonnet River this summer. I love my life. I love feeling happy. And, even though I do feel my age sometimes, for the most part, I just feel in the moment and am grateful. I am thankful and grateful for my health, my family, my friends and my spirit. I love to laugh at myself and at life. I cannot get wrapped up in the seriousness of life, because what is happening around our country and the world right now is a real downer. So, my hippie self kicks in and says, "Don't worry, be happy."
Peace.

Friday, February 1, 2019

My Bucket List

I will turn age seventy on July first. My "Bucket List" is looming large right now. I keep wondering how I will celebrate this momentous birthday. I am going to Ireland in September, but that trip doesn't seem like the celebration I had in mind. I've been to Ireland a couple times now. There are places I haven't been yet, but I don't think I will go to any of those places this year.

I decided that this year will be the "year of firsts". I snowshoed for the first time last month. I got Larry and I tickets to my first opera (Tosca) at the Met in New York City next month. I just published my first book, and created a company around it: Logie Bear & Friends Adventures. These accomplishments feel really, really good. I am checking off my "List". What's next?

I am taking a trip to Washington, DC with my book club. I haven't traveled with them yet. I am going to visit the 911 Museum in April with a girlfriend with whom I visited the 911 Memorial, but couldn't get into the museum. This time we will. And, we're using Airbnb to stay in a studio apartment in Chinatown while we're there. That is definitely a first. I will visit a friend from childhood at her home in Maine for the first time with several other friends from my childhood. I am grateful to still have those friends in my life, and that history to keep me grounded.

I'm not sure what other "firsts" I will accomplish this year. As a "first" occurs to me, I will decide if I want to do it, and just do it! This is the year of "Just do it!" Nike was right. It's time to stop saying, "Someday..." Someday has arrived! In the spring, I will also take my grandson to see the dinosaur park in Connecticut. I also volunteered to find out how to create something smaller in Weetamoo Woods here in Tiverton, RI.

This is not a "first", but it is a commitment I have continued. I still sing with The Greater Tiverton Community Chorus. Singing lifts my spirit and keeps my Joy alive. It also challenges my brain, and it made me stop smoking pot! I'd rather sing. Actually, this was a first. I once thought I'd never stop smoking. Revelation!

Seventy will be a wonderful age, and this will be a great year. I am healthy and I am the happiest I have ever been. I feel nothing but blessed and grateful. I can't wait to see what the rest of this year will bring. I hope your year holds new adventures too! Namaste.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Figuring Out Retirement

One of my alter egos at work
I retired early in 2005. All my working life was spent living "hand to mouth". I struggled to pay my bills and still have enough money to enjoy myself. Enjoying my life has always been my highest priority. Without joy, what kind of life is that?

In 2001, I married the love of my life and my best friend. We worked at opposite ends of the same hallway at the Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Massachusetts for twenty years. I confided to a mutual friend that I was done with divorcees and had my eye on widowers at work. When I mentioned my husband, my friend told me he was a good friend of his also. He set us up at his retirement party. Larry and I began dating, and a year later we were married.

I worked hard at my job. I began my career at the CfA for Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory in 1980, when I moved back home from a four-year adventure living in Albuquerque, New Mexico and then in Blanchard, Louisiana. Unemployment found my job for me. I began as a Secretary in the Radio & Geoastronomy Department at a Grade 6/Step 3. After about eighteen months, I got a job as the Secretary in the central Computation Facility. I learned quickly how to receive the most money I could get at each performance review. I needed to make money to support my son. I was an unwed mother. Until close to the end of my twenty-five year tenure, I had always gotten two-step increases or grade promotions. I had grown my secretarial job into a departmental administrative position, ending it as a technical person.

A photograph I entered into a contest and won an award
Once I saw the "writing on the wall" of funding shortages, I learned about an opportunity for our department to take on telecommunications and networking support functions. I also volunteered to add the telecommunications support duties to my responsibilities. Over time, I picked the brains of all the technicians who provided services for us through Harvard University, and learned how to do wiring on my own. Over a short amount of time, I had my own tool kit and scavanged materials to do small moves myself, saving the department money. I then grew into a large-scale move and building renovation coordinator, and became a one-person sub-department.

Eileen Collins, first female shuttle commander
 My greatest accomplishment in this job was to coordinate all the telecom, networking, and television requirements for the Chandra Xray Observatory Operations Control Center in Kendall Square. I worked with NASA Security staff and wrote security protocols in the OCC manuals. It was the best job I ever had. I ended my career as a Grade 12/Step 10 Telecommunications Specialist. That level was my "glass ceiling". I could not break it.

I created such an efficient system that I could do my duties in the first hour each day. The rest of the day, I was bored out of my mind. I could not take any more classes or find any more interesting ways to remain motivated and happy. I grew depressed. After marrying Larry, I was miserable in my job for two years. Because I married him, I had the opportunity to think about retirement. Had I not married him, I would have had to work until I dropped. I just couldn't see myself living so unhappily. So, after much deliberation and guilt for leaving the best job of my life, I retired at age fifty-five. I have never looked back. In fact, I still cannot understand how I would fit a job into my new life.

I have explored many activities and outlets during my retirement. I tried volunteering, and joining the local gym with a personal trainer. I took writing and painting classes, and still do. I quit the gym when my body revolted, and joined a more nurturing movement class that has been kinder to my body, but has kept me strong, well-balanced and healthy. I have developed friendships in town, walk almost daily, joined a community chorus, and am living a life I love. I feel very blessed.

But, in the last year or so, I realized I had no passion for anything, and wondered what the next phase of my life would hold. When Larry and I took a trip to South Africa last October, I found a passion. I wrote a book about that trip based on a little toy bear I named Logie (after our grandson). He came along with us, and we photographed him participating in every activity. It was such a fun experience, that a friend convinced me to start a company and keep traveling with Logie and writing more books. The South Africa book will come out at the end of this week, and I am actively setting up what I perceive will be a good preliminary way to market the book and my new career in retirement. Logie's web site is: logiebearadventures.com .

I can end my life as I started it: living a life of joy and loving every minute of it. I am very blessed because Larry is taking this journey with me and loving participating in the fun. Friends also enjoy the fun when I encourage them to participate, whether they were strangers to begin with (as on our trip), or friends we recently vacationed with. A second book is in the works about this most recent vacation.

I look forward to a happy life of traveling with Larry and Logie, seeing the world through the eyes of a child, and writing about it all. I hope you will buy my books, and live life the way you want. Choose to be happy. It's a risk, but a risk worth taking. My personal web site is: kathycrowleygardner.com . Happy New Year with love from me and Logie Bear.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Shame vs Privacy

"I did not want you to know because it makes you see me in a manner I do not want to be seen."(Austin, Lisa M., Privacy, Shame and the Anxieties of Identity (January 1, 2012). http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2061748)

I am writing my memoir. I am a person who over shares. I say I have no secrets. I am not ashamed of past behaviors, although I have some regrets, because those behaviors contributed to who I am today. I believe that if I share my experiences, I will help others to overcome their fears and shed the need for privacy to avoid feeling ashamed. I do not view privacy as a healthy thing. I do understand people use the need for privacy as a shield against the criticism they may receive from others as a result of sharing themselves openly and without shame. Others, who feel ashamed, desire to make those who share feel the same in order to make themselves feel better and more powerful.

I have experienced these attacks on my character, and have succumbed to feeling the shame they insist I must feel. Now that I have "found myself", I feel more grounded and clear. The past is the past. My past behaviors remain there. I do not behave in the same way I did when I was twenty or thirty or even forty. Of course, that depends on the behavior: I still dance alone in public, for example. I just love to dance, and the lack of a partner will not prevent me from breaking out my "moves".

My memoir is about growing up the oldest of twelve children in an Irish Catholic family with an alcoholic father. It is about becoming an unwed mother in 1970. And, it is about my very personal journey to self-discovery. That journey includes discovering, accepting and enjoying my sexuality. My story is also about shedding the "good girl", embracing the "wild woman" and becoming "the matriarch". I never consulted my son about anything along the way. I just dragged him along with me as I created and discovered my journey.

Now that he is a successful professional adult, do I have the right to share my story publicly knowing that the image he projects may not be seen in the way he wants once the public learns about the upbringing he survived as a bastard child? He is more of a private person than I. How then, do I solve this conflict? Can it be solved?

Certainly, I can write my story and not publish it. I can make it available for him if he wants to know who I was as a person. I always wanted him to know me as such, and not just as an authority figure. I regretted never knowing my parents as people once I reached a mature age. I am assuming he will feel the same way twenty years from now. But, will he? He is a man. Do men feel differently about these things than women? I think they do. Men do not like sharing their feelings or expressing them.

My son was raised by a woman around mostly women. He is sensitive and a great communicator. But, he is still a guy. I think genetics dominate behavior, thought and feelings. I believe as human beings, we can overcome anything, including our own physical limitations. Mind over matter is real. But, one has to have the desire to overcome adversity or the sense of it. If there is no desire, there is no will. If there is no will, no change will happen. Change is possible, but desire must be present. Desire allows one to choose. One must choose to change if certain behaviors, thoughts and opinions no longer contribute to happiness and a fulfilled life. Choices must be consciously made.

If I write my story and do not publish it, how will that make me feel? I always said I did not want to die with regrets. Well, I have a few. But, my one goal for just me that I promised my Self was to publish one book in my lifetime. My story keeps coming back to haunt me. The need to tell the world my story keeps coming up. When I share certain stories with others, I receive positive feedback that says, "You should write those stories down and publish a book." I know! I am! But, What about my son's feelings? I don't want him to hate me or resent me forever. I know he loves me, but he's not a kid anymore. I can't disregard his feelings any longer. So, where does this leave the sharing of my story?

I never found a book about a woman raising a son alone when I was doing it. I needed that book. It didn't exist. At least, I couldn't find it. My story is that book! At least, that's my opinion. I can't be the only person to experience life in the way I have. Nobody is truly alone. Isn't that what therapy teaches us? We are not alone. I am not alone. Is there a woman out there, young or old, who would be affirmed by the sharing of my story? I hope so. That is what drives my need to publish. But what about my son's feelings? Should they prevent me from publishing? How do I talk with him about it?

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Hopelessness, Isolation and Fear

 In the late 1970's, I felt hopeless. I understood in that moment over a period of months what people who live in hopelessness could be experiencing. Feelings of hopelessness are painful. They make you feel "less than" and take away your power. Feeling powerless instills fear, and fear begins to create a need for isolating oneself from the world. Isolation begins a cycle of living in the dark recesses of your mind. Those dark places are not healthy. Giant monsters live in that darkness. Those monsters begin to eat away at your healthy core. Once your psychological and spiritual core has been depleted, the damaging effects manifest in your physical core causing illness and dis-ease.

Isolating oneself from the world includes your family and closest friends. If you do not let anyone know you are hurting, nobody can help you. How do we as people who love you, and would be devastated by your loss, try to help if we have no idea what's behind your smile? Please speak your pain. Please reach out to whoever feels safest to you. Please don't leave.

My prayer for all those who are hiding their pain and are thinking of taking themselves from our midst is this: May the Light of Divine Love illuminate all the dark places in every heart and mind. May you open your heart and mind to Divine Love's healing power. In receiving Divine Love, you are lifted out of the mire of despair and placed gently on the path of Happiness once more. May you be open to receiving Love and Happiness. Amen.