Day Trip: New England Autumn Hike

I called my August trip back home to Massachusetts the Visit the Kids trip. I hadn’t seen my friends or their 11-year old daughter since my husband and I moved back to my childhood, New York home in September 2013. I also wanted to visit my niece C who was born to close friends  four days after we moved.

This trip was the Visit the New FurKids trip. Two sets of friends who lived near the Worcester area both acquired new fur kids, one was a kitten named Mia and, later, an elderly pit bull mix named Julio. Because we have an ill, elderly cat, we decided to make a quick, one-day trip back up north to meet our new fur-niece and fur-nephew.

So you would think that this trip will be full of pictures of animals.

You’d be wrong.

During the first leg of our trip, our friend took us on a hike near Rutland, MA. The day was bright, clear, and chilly. Shortly after we started, we passed by a lake bordered by trees.

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Along the hike, we encountered a dead forest.

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The hike ahead was long and inviting.

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We stopped at a tunnel.

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Since we were on a schedule, we turned back around the way we came.

Water dripped down the mossy rock face and onto the colorful, fallen leaves. I would have taken a video, but leaf blowers started blowing in the distance right after I had the idea.

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From our walk, we went to eat at Flo’s, a nearby farm. The cows were just chill in’ along the fence.

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Later in the day, we went for a walk with our friends and Julio. Our friends in Marlboro, MA walked us and Julio  on a trail through woods adjacent to a park and country club. The fallen pine needles crisply scented the air. So much better than any kind of pine freshener than companies try to create in their fake labs.

Life, with friends and furkids and hikes in New England on a crisp autumn day,  is great.

 

 

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One Positive Thing Leads to Another

This morning I did something different: I played music while stretching, and I took the time to notice tension release after some poses, which are a combination of yoga and physical therapy stretches. After a few days back into my stretching routine, I am feeling better.

The stretching and the physical therapy exercises I do in pools helped me feel really good before my recent descent into despair. Like I person who thinks she can stop taking the medication that are making her sane, I stopped the stretching and the gym earlier this month. I get lazy. I think I can get away with it. I get proven wrong.

The gradual release of tension in my body of the fibromyalgia pain lightens my body and my mood. I start to float through a lot of things I want to do: writing, being creative, finding inspiration, moving forward. I considered getting up earlier and how doing so would allow me to get to writing earlier in my day. I considered this body-mind-mood connection.

But my brain felt as empty as stage with only a spotlight on it. Usually, this worries me. Today I thought. Is that so bad? If my brain was an empty stage, what characters might come out? What stories could I write?

I sent my short story to three friends. Two read them and gave me comments. Whee! I have never willingly asked anyone for feedback on something I wrote. That’s a new one for me. All of this is new. I reminded myself that I do not produce widgets. I build worlds in stories.

How fucking awesome is that?

Then it hit me: I am incredibly blessed! I have so much privilege of which I am not even aware most of the time. My life is amazing, just the way it is. I have love, a home, companion animals, awesome friends, loyal family, access to healthcare for mind, body, and soul, and all the food and Starbucks coffee that I could possible want.

I have books, a bed, and a safe environment that I can make my own and create in. I have the power to move my life forward in any direction I want. My life is the way it is because I allowed all of it in. My relationship with my mother has improved immeasurably, one sister wants to be closer to me, and the others are in good standing. So much Love exists in my life. So much PeacePower, and Privilege.

Yes, I have been through health and surgery hell. I survived J– R–. I survived years of head-banging therapy. I survived jobs I despised and toxic friends.

Every time I listened to my desires in recent years, I came face to face with the answer I needed. My desire to grow brought me to a book to EMDR to M– P– who helped you with IFS, ACT, and EMDR to missing my family to moving home for my father to a vastly improved relationship with my mother to diving into a writing career to being self-directed, and to speaking your truth to your family and finding that you can live through it all even when doing so is scary.

All told, I wrote a full 8.5″ by 11″ page of things I can be grateful for. That must be some kind of record! All that writing gave me a renewed sense of Hope and Faith in myself. I can do it. I will do it. I am doing it.

Hope is my word that Buzzfeed says best describes me. Hope is a cat in the Garden City Petco that I want to adopt. Sweet, soft, and loving, Hope was found impaled on a fence. She let me pet her through the window.

I am humbled by the ability of abused souls, human and animal, to continue loving even after torture and pain, accidentally or not.

I think we need new Internet shorthand. Instead of SMH, we should start thinking talking and sharing SML – So Much Love.

Go spread some love.

Mother’s Day Presents

For four days ending yesterday on Mother’s Day, my husband, my mother, and I drove to and from Massachusetts to visit family, friends, and take care of house stuff. This was the first trip my 83 year-old mom since my dad died in December. The last time they went anywhere together was 2008 before my dad had a stroke.

Thursday, we made it into our Plainville, MA hotel after a 6 hour drive including stops and lunch in Mystic, CT. With all of us so tired, we all vegged out for the night reading and/or writing.

On Friday, we treated my husband’s 92 year old aunt to lunch for her birthday that day. Afterwards, my husband went home to nap while we ladies went to the mall to walk and shop at J.C. Penney’s. My mother said that this was the first time she had fun since my dad died.

Later that night, we picked up our aunt and went over to my brother- and sister-in-law’s house. For the first time, my 16-year old niece and 10 year-old nephew hung out with the adults. We were all joking, laughing, and teasing other over coffee, homemade vanilla cream pie that our aunt made, and a platter of cookies. I cannot remember the last time I laughed so much with my husband’s family. Great, great day filled with fantastic memories.

On Saturday, we drove into Cambridge, MA. We met a couple of dear friends for lunch. My mom had a stomachache, so I walked her back to the hotel and then met up with our friends again. We chatted, laughed, and ate ice cream from Toscanini’s.  My husband and I met with a painter to discuss painting the exterior of our home that we are renting out, and we talked to our current property manager about transitioning to new tenants. Because it was getting late and my mother was still not feeling well, my husband and I went for a snack and drink in the hotel restaurant.

The bed in that hotel was not comfortable, and I was up in pain at 4am. After checking out, we met a dear friend at Veggie Galaxy for morning breakfast. I had been dying to take my mom there, and she enjoyed the stuffed french toast. We had to drive to and from West Roxbury, MA in order to pick up a rental truck to transport some items that we left at the house. After packing the truck and getting food supplies at Starbucks, we headed home for New York.

On the way home, I played the Leonard Cohen channel on Pandora. After a while my mom asked, “You like listening to this kind of music? It’s going to put you to sleep.” I said, “Yeah, sometimes. I’ll play something peppier for you.” So I changed the channel to Beborn Beton, and my mom was tapping along to the songs.

Last week, Massachusetts began a campaign to get drivers to use their blinkers when changing lanes. On the electronic signs along the highway, the signs asked “Changing lanes?” followed by this message:

Blinkah

For those of you who do not knot, the New England accent tends to drop the ending ‘r’ sound and turns it into an ‘AH’ sound, the kind of ‘AH’ sound that you might make when the doctor is holding your tongue with a depressor. For a while, my mom kept saying ‘blinkah’ when she saw a driver not use their blinkers. That’s pretty darn cute when you consider that my mother is an 83 year-old Italian with an accent. While driving in MA, I noticed an incredible amount of blinker usage that I can only attribute to the increased awareness that the electronic boards brought about.

At another point, I was explaining something to my mom. She said to me, “You know, I’m not trying to tell you what to do. You can drive however you want.” I reached over to touch her arm gently and said, “I know that, mom. I know you’re not trying to tell me what to do. I was just sharing information.” My mom turned to me and said, “You know, we really get along great.”

On Mother’s Day, we give presents to our mothers. This time, I got some of my own.

to my dear friend, for whom I care more deeply than you’ll ever know

If I could give you one piece of advice, it would be this:

Do what you feel, not what you tell yourself you want. Let your heart be free but rein in your mind. The brain rationalizes everything; the heart, nothing.  At times like this, remember to be generous with yourself, forgiving yourself often and letting yourself start again, even if only a minute has passed.  Be full of hope and love for yourself.  I promise you, the rest will follow.