Category Archives: Food for thought

Observations of human nature, life on the planet and brilliant flashes of insight!



Reading this story I wrote in 2009, I couldn’t help but think it still rings true for me.  The circumstances are most certainly different, but I have just recently emerged from another ‘life changing’ experience and the fundamental principles of taking risk and being open to what may come still apply.  
The winding, glorious streets of San Miguel de Allende
 INSPIRATION – March 2009
Before I left to spend the month of February in Mexico, some of my concerned friends expressed their dismay over my trip.  “You’re going alone? Aren’t you afraid?”  I admit I shared their concerns.  Even though I knew that San Miguel de Allende, a colonial city in the middle of the country, was safe and beautiful, the idea of not knowing ANYONE and being so far away, for so long, was unnerving.  
So, why was I doing this?  That was the big question with a fairly simple answer: to see what, if anything, was left inside of me.  To find out who I was at this odd juncture of my life, where so much of what had defined ‘Me’ no longer existed.  I was sick of looking in the mirror and thinking: Who am I now?  My business, my place in the community is gone.  My marriage is failing, my beloved dog has died.  All I saw was a sad, lost, purpose-deprived old woman.  I didn’t recognize myself anymore.

Bob’s Navy Blue Blazer

Somewhere in the third quadrant of the last century, before ‘my time’, Bob purchased a classic navy blue blazer at Trimmingham’s in Bermuda.  Quality.  Would last forever.  I have seen this blazer only a few times – since Bob rarely gets “dressed up”.  It is taken out of hiding only for special occasions.  I recall some years ago, during a purge effort, going through Bob’s closet and encouraging him to rid himself of items perhaps even the Salvation Army would not find of interest.  When we got to this blazer, it was allowed to stay, still looking great, fashionable and in perfect condition.  I agreed: it was and is a classic.

Last Saturday was opening night for the Charlotte Symphony’s season and, since it was “chilly”, the blazer was pressed into service.  In all his sartorial splendor, waiting for the performance to begin, Bob did what he always does – began to read the program from cover to cover.  Inserted in the program was a small questionnaire.  Since the conductor of tonight’s performance would be one of three candidates considered to replace the orchestra’s beloved retiring maestro, the audience was asked to weigh in on the potentiality of the candidates, hence the questionnaire.

To ready ourselves for this task, Bob started searching the pockets of his blazer for a pen.  Immediately, he withdrew a folded program, opened it and showed it to me.  It’s several years old – a program from the memorial service of a dear friend and neighbor from Marshfield Hills – Peter Lange.  Peter!  I could see him!  Tall and handsome with that shock of white hair.  How he loved travel,  music,  life!  One look at this piece of personal history transports me to the North Community Church and that day.  The familiar faces, the loving tributes, the wishing we were all there for another reason.  Anything but saying goodbye to Peter.  Bob folded the program and put it back in its place. The inside breast pocket.

Still searching for a pen, he found another folded program.  Another memorial service, another beautiful man, a dear friend and neighbor….George Harlow.  Another hole in the world left in his wake.  And then, one more:  a friend’s younger brother.   Too soon.  Much too soon.

Finally, ticket stubs for the 2004 Boston Pops Christmas Concert.  In a flash, I’m there!  One of the rare occasions that all of Bob’s grown children were ‘home’ for the holidays.   Everyone all gussied up for the event.  The giant wreath, Santa Claus.  A spirited sing-along.  The reading of THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS.  Keith Lockhart with his red bowtie!  Remember?

Oh, I could have made some fresh remark about how he never throws anything away – heaven knows I’ve said it a million times!  I could have mused that a new jacket might be in order.   I mean, really, one every 40 years or so wouldn’t be too extravagant!   I asked him again how long he has had this particular blazer and he tells me about buying it in Bermuda.  How the store isn’t even there anymore.  They went out of business when the cruise ships were prohibited from docking in the harbor.  The style and quality of the blazer, how it was made to last a lifetime.  A lifetime of special moments.

He finds the pen at last.  And it works.  As the lights dim and the young conductor takes the stage, we settle in to enjoy the orchestra, sad to know that we will be ‘losing’ someone we love, hopeful about what that special new someone will bring to all our lives.  At the end of the concert, we will fill out our questionnaire and turn it in.  But the program will be folded and tucked into the inside breast pocket of Bob’s blazer.

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All the Broken People….

 Broken me and traumatized Boo.
On September 4th, I walked out of my friend Claire’s house and, before I knew what happened, I was on my back, cradling my broken wrist.  I mean, I didn’t even know I was falling.  Boom.  I was down.
It was a blur after that.  I felt kind of sick, very scared, on the verge of passing out.  EMTs appeared in an amazingly small amount of times.  I remember Claire giving me frozen peas to ice my hand, and that they didn’t have frozen peas in the ambulance.  Why was that?  They did have oxygen though, and that brought me back to a level of awareness so much so that I knew exactly where we were on the backroads to the expressway, even though I couldn’t see through the windows.
That was weird.
We arrived at the South Shore Hospital in record time but getting out of the ambulance was terrifying.  Really.  You’re lying there, looking out over your feet into the thin air and wondering how are they going to get you out without dropping you!  That don’t though, and in a buzz of activity and information (how do they know all this about me?) I was wheeled into the “Fracture Room”.
The very kind EMT waited with me until the ER professionals took over.
God bless the Marshfield Hills Fire Department!
My husband had gone to take home my poor little dog, who witnessed this entire drama and was obviously traumatized.  Just before the ambulance door closed, I looked out and saw her hanging out of the car window watching me – her ears flat against her head and her eyes big as saucers.  Now (how did he get here so fast?) he has magically appeared in the Fracture Room.  We do the crossword puzzle, I have xrays, try to eat a Snickers Bar (which was forbidden by the nurse!), and in no time, a lovely Ortho Surgeon named Julie is pushing and pulling my arm into the shape God intended.
I just focus on my Yoga breathing and amazingly, it really doesn’t hurt.
I have no idea how that works ~ but it does!
The whole time all I kept thinking about was the play I was scheduled to be in that weekend,  and the fact that I had planned on taking a Yoga Teacher Training Program in December.
Was I going to be able to do those things?
I don’t remember going home, but when I got there, Claire was puppysitting my frightened Boo.  Then my friend Linda showed up.  Bob made me mashed potatores which was all I seemed to want, for no apparent reason.  And, I was in a splint from my fingers to over my elbow.
That was all 7 weeks ago.
Since that night, I did 6 performances of the Cemetery Club, thanks to a supportive and spirited cast and director.  We packed up and rode back to Florida.  My cast has now been removed and I’ve started Physical Therapy, I’ve found a chiropractor who is slowly putting the rest of me back together.  I am now able to type – with both hands – on my laptop.  AND – the powers that be say that I will be able to the the Yoga Training this winter.  I hope they’re right!
So.  Here’s the thing.  What they don’t tell you when you are broken.  They don’t tell you that NOT being able to do almost anything for yourself is so upsetting, so demoralizing and depressing that it moves you to tears.  Actual, sobbing, out of control tears.  I don’t like sounding like a big baby but not being able to wash my own hair, put on earrings, brush my teeth, eat like a grownup, get dressed, hang up my clothes, open anything in the kitchen, groom my dog, ride my bike, go for a decent walk, put on makeup, turn on the ignition in the car – well, you get the idea.  This all has an affect on how you feel about yourself.  I tried saying ‘it could have been worse’.  And, of course, it could have been. But still.
I decided a few weeks back that there really should be some kind of support group for all the Broken People.  I see them now – in the waiting room, with their casts and crutches and slings.  In Physical Therapy, at various levels of recovery.  Today, a women a bit older than me, who had fractured her shoulder, was told she could start using both hands to support herself when getting in and out of a chair.  She looked at the therapist as though he had just told her she won the lottery.  “Really?”  We made eye contact and I smiled.  “It’s the little things, isn’t it?”.  She was so happy.
Only another Broken Person would understand.
The other thing they don’t get into is that the cure is worse than the injury!  That damn cast just about did me in.  The PT is more to undo the damage of having a cast on than anything else.  And the therapy hurts.  Healing hurts.  And takes an inordinate amount of time.  Who knew?  Considering that my sunny disposition has been significantly challenged with this whole experience, I remind myself every morning that I am, indeed, on the mend.  A little stronger.  A little more flexible.  Maybe I’ve learned to be a little more patient.  Maybe.  But I’m not sure about that one.
The really big lesson here (in case you didn’t already know!) is this:  Your life can change in the twinkling of an eye.  Whatever you take for granted can be snatched away and there’s nothing you can do about it, except make up your mind to accept help, appreciate what you still have and
perhaps make new plans.  That’s life.
 Here we are, back in the swing of things, at the Sunset Pops Concert in Punta Gorda.
No more cast!  But no dancing yet.