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My first post for this new Blog

48

August 3, 2017 — 1 Comment

So this is 48.

There have been three words that dominate my 47th year and bring me to where I am right now.  Grief, Change, and Gratitude.  I’ve grieved over the loss of family, friendships, lovers and dreams.  I grieved over the life I wanted and have a new-found gratitude for what is in front of me each moment of each day.  Grief and change:  The master of these has been the constant of change.

Grief.  Forty-seven was a year of big changes, as I mentioned here a year ago.  The start of my forty-eighth was spent grieving.  I continued to grieve the loss of my mother.  Friends kept telling me how strong I was and how I would go on and remember in my own way; that I would work through the feelings and cherish the memories; that pieces of her live on in me.  I didn’t feel strong.  In fact I felt the weakest I’d ever felt in my life.  I was confused by the immediate memories of my mother that came to mind were not pleasant memories but hurtful ones.  Despite this, I looked for and believed there were signs that she was near me: white feathers that land in my lap, hearts in the clouds and in the leaves on my walks, smells, gestures I’d seen in my students that were exact movements of her, and even words coming out of my own mouth that I didn’t seem to have control of, convinced she was speaking through me. I’d joke about this, telling friends I was turning into my mother.  Then I found our my mother wasn’t who I thought she was.  This truth is one I hope to spend time finding out more about in the coming year.

Gratitude.  As I get older I look around me and see the life I once wanted for my self is not the life I have.  More than anything I wanted a family of my own, the stability of owning a home and a romantic partnership with a man to share it all with.  Thinking about what I don’t have can bring me to a very dark place, I will admit.  Somehow I find a way to get myself out of that hole and realize what I do have.  I have friendships that have lasted years and have crossed oceans.  My friends have become my family and I sometimes can’t believe it when I think about the kind of love I have been shown by them.  Although the desires of my younger self have not been fulfilled the way I pictured them, I have been living a life with so much to be grateful for.  Especially my dearest, closest friends.

Change.  The end of forty-seven gifted me with the end of a romantic relationship and catapulted me from the plans we made for a life together to a completely new job and life in a new country.  “We plan and God laughs” a friend said to me recently.  It was a challenging year for me personally and I realized how resilient I am, despite my thinking I had no more resilience at all, and how strong my will is, especially after having a scary set of health diagnosis in early June.  I’ve spent the summer visiting with people I love so dearly.   I’ve taken daily walks through West Yorkshire, and a few in my beloved Milan, appreciating every leaf, flower, blade of grass, sound and smell.  Each moment with a friend is magic to me.  Every change in the sky and weather is a mystery and I’m loving it.  I’ve continued to spend my time reading, walking thinking meditating and observing. Though I didn’t see it before, I know now that I have always been living my life on my own terms.  Every change, every move, every job, every life live I’ve lived and every invention of myself has really been my choice. Now it is time to be more conscious, more aware and thoroughly prepared to continue on for as long as I can.

Onward.  I have learned things about my mother that have affected me in ways that are becoming clearer each day.  My need to tell stories I now know comes from her; my wanderlust and  need to keep moving and changing – also her; my need to do better, be better so others will look on me favorably – Julia in spades.  As I write this I am on the verge of more changes that are coming. Some I know about and am (naively) planning, some I I’m sure I can’t imagine.  I will proceed with caution because I now keep in mind my friend’s words “… we plan, God laughs.”  I’ve said many times that I fear change, but now I’m starting to understand I thrive on it. Maybe change is the only thing I can plan on.

In my forty-eighth year I will count on change and see where that gets me.

Bring it on fortymotherfuckingeight.

Why Begin A New Blog?

March 26, 2013 — 8 Comments
Abe Ajay (American, 1919–1998)

The Thinking Woman,

So I have this other blog, Speaking of Art, which was originally intended to be a serious accounting of art and the effect it’s had on my life.  I had the best most focused intentions when I started it one winter’s night in Amsterdam.  After yet another art event, I realized the thread that wove me together all these years of life was my love for art and my need for it in my life.  I began writing out of the frustration, really,  of not being able to create art, though I tried with lessons and self experimentation.  However, as things often happen with me, my plans went awry and that blog started to become something else.  I felt obligated to focus on art, my deepest passion, and tried too hard which resulted in articles with many holes in them.  I could have said so much more, written about so many more events and pieces that were creeping into my vision but I simply could not write with any authority on the subject.  My writing was such shit, that I could barely read the pieces back.  Yet I knew I had something to say.  My thoughts became muddled and I could not find a way to express what I felt I could if given time and proper conditions.   I might one day be able to, so I am keeping that blog open and hopefully I will be able to return to it.

What I have only just come to realize in this my forty-fourth year of life – is that the one thing I am a mild expert at – is me.  Those of you who are close to me know that I have spent a lot of time talking about myself and my experiences.  I’ve had a nasty habit of rehashing all the events in my life to anyone who would listen.  Not because I think they wanted to hear me talk, but because I felt the need to verbally, out loud reconsider those events.  My very closest friend Dawn once said to me in a heated exchange, that she found me exhausting.  She said I gave too much of myself away.  To friends.  To men.  To “anyone who would listen”.  She was right, so I listened.  Carefully.  I listened so carefully and closely to her that I silently began a very serious re-examination of why I did what I did.

Dawn and I went a long stretch without communicating after that exchange.  This was not unusual for us.  We would go a few months without contact, then reconnect as though no time had passed.  This time the disconnect was different.  It was important for me to hear her blaring silence and to continuously self-examine.  It’s as though I had been in a year long state of meditation.  My life looked the same on the outside.  I worked, went out with friends, and lived my life.  I just didn’t have her there to talk to for hours, and I mean hours, on the phone.   To this day she s the only person I can call and have a phone conversation that lasts three, four sometimes five hours.  I missed her greatly during this period especially.  You see, she is the one person that knows me possibly better than I know myself.  She says, famously, that I am her ego, her id.  The truth is she is my superego and most honest sounding board.  She knows when to tell me what I need to hear and when I need to hear it.  I’ve been very blessed to find this level of friendship with her.  That word seems to weak, and soulmate sounds a bit cheesy but perhaps in this case “soulmates” is fitting.  By the time communication resumed I knew I had to tell her immediately that I had taken her comments very seriously.  There was no defense I could conjure up.  I simply had to tell the truth.

I realized I was living on a self-absorbed, too-much-in-my-own-head state.   I was critical of myself to the point that I would nearly beg others for negative reinforcement.  I had such a weak view of who I was, while pretending to be very confident and self assured.  Just writing about this now is making me wince at my own memory.  Not attractive.  I know, but this is the truth as I see it.

I’m always asking key questions for the purpose of self improvement.  Why did events happen in my life?  What was my role/responsibility?  What does that mean about me here and now?  What can I learn from this?  How can I create something better?  I have probably done this because somewhere deep inside me I have always known that I was destined for greatness.  My mistake was in thinking that greatness might find me.  I now realize I must find greatness and claim it as my own.  It has taken years, but that knowledge has crept up inside of me and has risen to a level where I can look at it, turn it around and realize it.  Realize the greatness I can have.  Not my potential but my greatness. Greatness.  MY GREATNESS.

So, the question arises again, why a new blog?  Well, recent events in my life have made the fact that I am not getting any younger abundantly clear.  I have always had the sensation that this greatness would be mine later or one day but the time has now come.  I recognize that events in my life are extra-ordinary and I have lived quite a life so far.  I do feel this life is worth remembering, so the new blog is a way to tell my stories so they will be remembered.  I suppose, as with anything, I hope people will connect, learn and reflect on these stories.  After all, we all want to be heard, accepted and understood.  Oh yes, and loved.