On friendship – homecoming

Great truths from Life is Good.  This afternoon, read the following description of someone’s best friend, a dog to whom she’d said her final goodbyes – – “He was the best friend of everyone he came into contact with because he saw the potential in everyone to be his new buddy.”   I know how he felt – that’s how I’ve felt ALL of my life.

This weekend is homecoming in my little hometown.  There is a spot where you can spot the elementary school, high school AND college where I got my diploma, diploma & degree.  Tomorrow is a day off for the elementary school, while it’s packed with events for the other schools & the flocks of alums returning to celebrate special reunions.  Of special note for me is the Class of 1967, celebrating their Big 5-0.

There are people in the Class of ’67 were among the first on the planet to make me feel friendship-worthy.  Let me qualify that ~ ~ residents of Glenn Hall, boarding students from around the world, both Class of ’67 & ’68.  Those kind juniors & seniors made a freshman feel at home, like there was somewhere on the planet where I was welcome.  All of them have a forever place in my heart.

See, it was my sorry fate to get out of elementary school, high school -and- college without making the sort of best friend I’d dreamed of since a childhood spent devouring the Anne of Green Gables books.  I longed for a bosom buddy like Anne Shirley found in Diana Barry ~ “An intimate friend, you know—a really kindred spirit to whom I can confide my innermost soul. I’ve dreamed of meeting her all my life.

My problem was that I never saw friendship modeled.  Oh, Mom had wonderful friends, the very sort I longed to have for my own, but she was my mother & I couldn’t relate.  From the two older sibs who were my greatest influence, I saw very little in behaviors that would nurture connection beyond initial meetings, at which I excelled.

People who met me were impressed with my upbeat spirit & sunny smile.  Then I opened my mouth & out came toads & vipers.  Cynicism, sarcasm & cutting remarks.  The way I thought everyone talked because it was all I heard from my older sibs.  Small wonder people backed away.

By the time I’d remedied the gosh awful behaviors, my sense of self confidence in anyone liking me was totally shaken.  Worst of all, I felt utterly unlikable. It doesn’t matter if people like you IF you don’t think they do.  And I most definitely did not have any confidence in my likability.

Except with John.  I was at ease with his acceptance immediately.  From seeing his good opinion shine from his face, I came to slowly slowly slowly accept myself as maybe, just maybe being friendship worthy.

Terrible confession – it took until last year, 2016, for me to FINALLY stop seeing myself as inherently highly hopelessly unlikable.  Can remember the very moment when I was talking to someone (Karen?) & saying how I was just not cut out for deep friendship, when it hit me that the person I was talking to was exactly what I’d desired since I could first put words to hope.  And that quite a few others fit the same bill.  And that I am INCREDIBLY blessed to have an astonishing number of casual friends & pleasant acquaintances.  That was quite the moment, I can tell you!

Throughout my elementary school years, I was my own worst enemy in how I presented myself.  By high school, my idea of what passed for normal conversation was haywire, compounded by my lack of how to nurture wholehearted connections.  College was dismal, with me digging myself deeper & deeper into feelings of inadequacy & unlikability.  But there were lights on the horizon!

For the first time, realized during my teaching practicum (age 23) that most people do NOT use incorporate cynicism & sarcasm into regular conversation & certainly not in the classroom.  Quite the epiphany!  Then, at 24, through a communication intervention by remarkably compassionate GUY friends, learned some other hard truths about my miserable messaging.  Both of which set me up to be totally insecure about how I was coming across, which translated into a barely perceptible yet strong base note of apprehension, which never comes across well.  In other words, I was aware of my failings but had not a clue how to remedy them.

Want a miracle?  When John met me, he didn’t see any of that.  He saw ME, as I was fresh from the hospital, the person I was before language meant anything to me, before I learned all my nasty, other- & self-negating communication patterns.  And because HE saw that person, for the first time so could I.  Am quite sure the angels threw a party!

So here I be, Elsa Beth Lockhart Murphy – known to many as DEEV –  at 65, feeling immensely grateful for the best possible friend* & my wondrous circle of “marble jar” friends, good buddies, casual amigos & pleasant acquaintances.

My Now Self is grateful to my Past for never giving up, for always believing that there is potential in everyone to be my best buddy, for opening wide the door for my Future Selves to connect nurture grow relationships.  And all my selves send a tender best wish to the Class of 1967 for a joyous weekend!!

 

* “He is so very sympathetic. He didn’t mind how much I talked—he seemed to like it. I felt that he was a kindred spirit as soon as ever I saw him.”    Lucy Maud Montgomery

My Stroke of Insight – TED talk

Astonishing that Jill Bolte Taylor, a neuroanatomist delving into how our human brain relates to severe mental illness & schizophrenia, suffered a stroke, disabling her own brain’s left hemisphere, delivering a startling but fully embraced opportunity to EXPERIENCE first hand its dynamics.  She studied her own stroke – as it happened!

In her TED talk  – among the top ten most popular – Jill steps us through her experience & so much more.  Listen & learn why Time magazine ranked Jill Bolte Taylor one of 2008’s 100 most influential people in the world.

 

Baby, take a bow

Yesterday was an unimaginable red-letter day.   Who knew when Saturday dawned that Sunday would be utterly WOW?   Then Opportunity stepped in.

Background:  It was my pleasure to plan & prep & prep for yesterday’s Bryn Athyn Community (B-Act) late afternoon cast party, but a delightful spanner was thrown into the works when a special friend extended an invitation for Sunday lunch.

On 10/15/17, my reality was that things were organized enough that by I could drop by all the paper goods & stock the Green Room fridge at the Mitchell Performing Arts Center (the play AND party site) with sodas, barbequed meat balls, baby potatoes dolloped with sour cream/bacon/chives, dozens of deviled eggs, chili, guacamole, salsa, veggie dip, cheese balls (blue -and- cheddar), sliced veggies with ranch dip for dunking, cream cheese with cocktail sauce & mini shrimp, pumpkin dip with apple slices, apple pie spread, grapes dipped in melted butterscotch bits & rolled in crushed pecans, cookies & cream puffs.  All DONE by 10:30 a.m., leaving John & I free to get to Tom Rose’s 11:00 a.m. investiture service, stop at York Diner for a nibble, arrive at Trish’s out in the far western reaches of Montgomery County for what both of us agree was the MOST fun lunch & extended gab & gaggle of new friends EVER.

I am as proud of yesterday as any accomplishment in my life.  Things were well organized & work was advanced enough that, when opportunity knocked we could answer YES without leaving anyone in the lurch. The party foods were packaged in service-ready containers, labeled with the contents, if it contained nuts, & a recommended cracker or dipper.  If there hadn’t been room in the fridge – which, praise be, there was – the foods that required refrigeration until the 4:00 p.m. party would have been fine, packed in our big ice chest, chilled with the well-sealed bags of ice atop the stacked containers.

That would have been unthinkable four years ago.  It was the culmination of a grand plan – getting to yesterday took years of  intention, determination, focus & follow through.

For three years, I volunteered to put on every B-Act cast party.  Doing a long line of parties let me figure out what worked best, plan & execute menus that provide maximum satisfaction for minimum effort & minimal expenses, are easy to set up & clean up.

Everything completed & stored by 10:30 a.m. for the late afternoon party,  without a  suggestion of stress.  Even the pick up of left-overs et al was as easy peasy as it gets – picked up around 9:00 p.m. (we were at Trish’s until 8:00!) at the B-Act president’s home, all chilled in our trusty Igloo ice chest.

That might not seem like a major accomplishment, but it is epic.  Its planning involved years of preparation, of learning & applying the lessons, REMEMBERING what worked & doing more of that -and- eliminated the sub par & gosh awful, doing things at the best time & in the most effective manner, at the most effective time (instead of finally) & in effective ways.

All of which went against an upbringing that drummed into me the opposite of everything that went into yesterday’s triumph, lifelong messages extolling creativity as springing from spontaneity (“stodgy planning is so bourgeois”), celebrating winging it as the mark of true genius, putting personal gratification above others’,  painting last-minute dramatics as conducive to great final results, & presenting stress strain unhappiness as conducive to the creative process.

Yesterday, being ABLE to accept a last minute invitation because I’d already overridden really dumb ancient messaging, turned out to be a personal performance worth several curtain calls.

Baby, take a bow!

 

 

Innovation & all that lies ahead

An advantage of growing older is racking up enough experiences to spot the same old issues, whether the usual suspects pop out in the usual way OR get sneaky & attack under different guises.

Although it was a jaw-dropper when this was first brought home to me five years ago, I am an innovator, a problem solver.  Never saw myself that way – the first manager of our local farm market mentioned it, as if it was obvious.  To her – yes.  To me – nope.

Oh, I knew about being a problem solver.  That was my unacknowledged but essential family role.  But the innovator part caught me unawares, although looking back over 60 years shouted out the truth of her comment.

For 41 years, my #1 problem-solving energies were directed at getting a better sense of mental emotional spiritual balance in a life that had been & continued to be…  I can’t describe the indescribable.  Trying to make sense of whackadoodle dynamics that seemed to make sense to everyone BUT me.

Which is where Susie’s “innovator” description comes in – for 41 years, I’ve reached for different perceptions of “reality,” different spins on events, different WHYs behind what this person or that did.  I upended entrenched views of myself, my family, my teachers friends colleagues, disrupting assumptions with “what ifs.”

Although it didn’t hit me until today, that’s innovation at its core – seeking different views, fresh understandings.

I am always seeking a new take on old problems.  I am willing to jettison what is messing me up, even if it is something I’ve held onto for decades.  (Our resistance to do that is a blog posting all on its own!)  I hold my image of what HAPPENED in any given moment with light reins – 65 years have shown how many times what I was SURE happened turned out to either be off-kilter.

Being an innovator got me to this flat-out terrific now.  It zooms me, even at a glacial pace, to all that lies ahead.

And it drives a lot of people nuts.

Sparking discussion – Rotary breakfast

Enjoyed giving a breakfast presentation this morning to the Abington Rotary. a group worth joining! Jenkintown Kiwanis last month, Positive Aging lunch in Philadelphia this past Tuesday, Rotary today.

It is a pleasure & an honor to spark discussions on issues around aging, about the NEED for countless wide-ranging conversations about the myriad angles, dynamics & impact of growing older & upward in America.

And it’s another example of synthesizing our experiences & know-how into something tangible, valuable, worthwhile.  Something that takes our loves & interests & purpose and creates a visible, viable – real – outcome.

surREAL

John & I are happily caught in surREALity  ~  facing down financial challenges that would daunt our earlier selves, confident in the knowledge they’re the ONLY things weighing us down.  Every other aspect of our lives gives us wings to soar over a tangled landscape, discovering new vistas & overgrown paths;  beckoning others to find the ancient, too-often forgotten awareness that ALL of our life is designed for wholeness & joy.

Quite the turn around from earlier this week, when I was uncharacteristically bummed.  Our newest client decided that, at 90+, she wasn’t up to the rehab we whisked her to & from. What stung, more than feeling the loss of income we NEED, was the loss of connecting with a remarkably active older woman.

We’ve lined up three clients since May; each one has said good bye (in addition to our most recent opting out of rehab, one family decided that enrichment, not covered under Medicare, was too $ while another went with a service offering more care options).

The Universe is sending a message – move on, this option’s been shut down.

I’m used to the Universe’s modus operandi of introducing me to new experiences, new lessons by throwing my life into an uproar.  If it means tossing me out of a job – teaching, public relations, marketing support – so be it.

Learned long ago that the Universe focuses on the end, not a fleeting moment.  The third time it happened, being tossed out of comfort no longer fazed me.  That time, the shock lasted a scant hour before it hit me that something BIG was in store, so best to get with the unknown program.

That’s how it feels now.  Yes, there are moments it feels scary.  Face it – most people under value what we offer; a shocking number flat-out dismiss the importance – at all ages – of spontaneous play, of experiencing joy.

We understand.  The average person caught up in the speed & stress of the age can feel dubious, even daunted, by the idea that playfulness is as essential to a healthy life as vitamins & other nutrients.  What was true when we were kids, when play came as naturally as breathing, is still true today – a sense of unfettered, open playfulness is  essential to our well-being.  Way too many adults have gotten so used to the base note of stress underscoring modern life & don’t realize how dangerous a lack of regular FUN is to their  health well-being prosperity

Our society focuses on work, on production, on racking up tangible results that can be measured calculated quantified.  Aka, the opposite of play, which requires a sense of the unfettered, the freely done & freely received.

Someone has to stand for getting more play into everyone’s lives, to infect our older friends with glee & laughter & a light heart.  The Universe tapped us.

My reality is that every time I find work that provides personal satisfaction, a decent income & serves others, the Universe ultimately yanks me out, tosses me into a void awaiting structure.  “Okay, you learned the lessons this work can provide – onto the next,” it seems to say.

The first time, I went from a teacher to a balloon seller to a editor/public relations maven.  The second, the shift was from public relations & advertising to account executive.  The third lead me to elder care.

None of them were places I would ever have predicted, ESPECIALLY the last.  All of them provided essential lessons that will serve me – us – well in being eldercare (r)evolutionaries, set on disrupting the current woeful culture society uses to straitjacket too many oldsters elders ancients.  I didn’t set out to do this work.  If I’d had my original druthers, I be winding down a wonderful life as a junior high teacher.

The Universe has other plans.

While that sounds whackily New Ageish to a lot of people,  experience taught me long ago that there is reason to what could appear calamity.  Surreal?  Yes.  As in phantasmagorical.

Phantasmagorical – “changing or shifting, as a scene made up of many elements.”  Yes, that sums up how my life has turned out.  “As something in a dream or created by the imagination” – that works, too.  I’ve come to have complete faith in the unforeseen, the out of left field.

When it comes to stuff – to school tax & ancient cars, cat food & weekly groceries – we admit to being in a temporarily dicey place.  When it comes to everything else, all is awesome, beyond the beyond.  In ways other than the material, the here & now, the temporal, we push pursue put the REAL in surreality!

In which I freely confess to being an IDIOT

In 2 1/2 months since the close of the IAGG, John & I have seen amazing shifts in our lives.  For the first time, we regularly attend a church service where we both feel completely at rest.

As often as we can ease the money out of our on-life-support budget, we do weekly yoga with delightful young woman at Pura Vida; if we can free the $$, we head almost next door to  Be Well (Pura Vida occupies the sacred space that was Be Well’s first home, before they leap frogged the dry cleaner to double their space) for refreshing, cleansing Bee Stings.

We attend a Mutual Support Group (MSG) with a wondrous circle of others, sitting in a small round stone building that seems to cradle us.

We do Full Moon drumming – which opened up unexpected worlds for John – and are part of a 5-week “small group” considering forgiveness, a program offered by the church where I was baptized & confirmed, where we were betrothed & married.

We walk every night before I head off to bed & have started walking the Pennypack Trail close to every day.

All new in the past 10 weeks.

There has been just one downer in all these amazing evolutions.  The reason for MSG, the small group discussions & even Full Moon drumming is to have a spiritual experience, to gain a deeper understanding about something.  Yet whenever it’s John’s turn to share something that manifests itself as abundance in his life (Harvest Moon) or something he is seeking (which was also the Hunter Moon) or to share his sense of forgiving, all he ever gives is a variation of “This is a wonderful group & I am happy to be part of it.

Last night, I snapped.  Where everyone else shared something related to Len’s questions or opted to pass, my Keet spoke – enthusiastically – every time about being happy to be there.  While it racked & raked my soul, everyone else seemed charmed at this totally-off-topic comments.

The story I was telling myself was that he’s having problems with memory, not able to process what Len or Solomon or Tirah are asking.  My mind went to doctor visits, to cognitive testing.  Because my O! Best Beloved seemed unable to process a simple request & tag it with a proper response.

Praise be for taking our pre-slumbers perambulation, which was when the blazing light hit that I was a mega idiot ~ ~  I go to MSG, to the Forgiveness group, to Full Moon drumming for the opportunity to ponder & reflect; John goes for the same reason he loves Fire Pit Fridays with friends & loves our playfulness work with older friends – he is a people person who had been going DAYS on end with just me & the cats for connection.  He loves the socializing.

Introspection, reflection, new-found awareness – those are not John.  He is basically comfortable in his skin, with good reason – he is a tender-hearted being with a predisposition for kindness paired with a fair-minded nature.

Okay, so this is actually a confession about having BEEN an idiot, because I am now wise to what’s up & blissfully blessed to have such a remarkable man as my hubster.

And I understand the looks I saw on the fire-lit faces last night around the drumming circle – they felt his wonder, his appreciation & his delight in being part of their greater whole.

My John knows himself & is okay with what is.  Which brings me to this idiot’s delight at being his Budge-a-Mate.  “He didn’t tell me how to live; he lived, and just let me watch him do it.”  A true life mentor who happens to be my own true love.

quote is from Clarence Budington Kelland