Monday, September 09, 2013

My Wonderful Friends

The title of this post is a little sappy ... the content might be even worse. Here ... read it and see.

Last week I spent a lot of time thinking about Diana Nyad's amazing swim from Cuba to Key West. The woman blows me away. I love her passion for and dedication to a dream. If we all spent more time focusing on things like that and less time worrying about minutiae we'd be happier.

Anyway ... the mantra she used over and over throughout the swim was "Find a Way." That process of focusing her mind on moving around and through obstacles kept her swimming for 53+ hours. She wouldn't give up.

For the last several weeks I've been thinking about the people I have known throughout my life. One of the greatest joys of Facebook has been the opportunity to reconnect with so many of them and discover that they have been living lives that are interesting and wonderful. They have successes and setbacks, they love and they play. They find joy in so many different things. They have fears and make stupid mistakes. They do great big things and they do small things that might impact just one person. They've raised children and are intimately involved with their grandkids. They are normal ... just like me.

There are people who I knew only as acquaintances when I was younger and I find that I missed so much of who they were because I was so self-involved. I have met friends online through other friends and discover amazing connections and relationships, even though I may never meet these people in person. They are creative ... they are gorgeous ... they are funny ... they are tender ... they are talented ... they are amazing.

(Obligatory friendship picture - TB as a kitten & Leica. Too cute!)

They love animals and explore places in the world I will never see in person. Some of their beliefs are different than mine and some of them make me wonder if they've lost their minds. They obsess over the craziest things and are as vulnerable to hoaxes and lies as the next person.  They are normal ... just like me.

But the thing I've discovered is how much I love these people. I laugh with them when they share their crazy antics, I get emotional when they share their successes and I cry with them when they feel loss and pain. I am terrified that because I have opened myself up to so many more people, I am going to have to experience that many more deaths and painful outcomes. However, my love for my friends tells me I can't do anything else. I don't want to ever lose these connections again. In many cases, it took me over 25 years to find my friends and I won't give that up without a fight. Even if I have to be here, watching as they go through pain.

One of the things I've discovered as I watch this is that Diana Nyad's mantra - "Find A Way" - is more than just a mantra. It's a way of life for most of us. We might whine and complain when confronted with a struggle, but we find a way through it. I have seen extraordinary love and joy, support and encouragement come to people in their darkest days. These connections help us find a way.

Most of all, though, I find that I am so stinking proud of the people I know who have found their way through a life that is filled with twists and turns, pain and struggle. My heart thrills with them as their kids graduate or succeed ... as they find new outlets for their creativity ... or move mountains that seemed immovable. They start new businesses, try new avocations, complete big projects, move on to new careers. They find ways to make their dreams come true, they meet new people, reach beyond themselves to new heights, they encourage others to do the same.

I am in love with the people who surround me, whether in person or online. I am constantly made aware of how wonderful they are ... how wonderful we all are.

Monday, September 02, 2013

Really Random - Trust Me!

It was a good weekend ... and I should be back to work right now because I have a book to finish.  But, all of these images are floating around in my head and then I put them in my camera and now they're on my desktop, so next I think they should be in a blogpost.

Friday night, Max and I went out to dinner with best friends ... at my favorite restaurant ... well, one of them. I watched Fran wrestle a heavy gift bag from the back seat of her Jeep and wondered what in the world she was doing. She looked at me as if I was nuts. My birthday? Oh, holy moley ... I hadn't even thought about that. Granted, it's next week, but she knows I'll be head-down in writing mode at the cabin and this was their chance to help me celebrate.  Whoops. This getting old thing does wonders for remembering things like birth dates. When my family and friends surprised me at my 50th birthday, I thought it might be a great time to just start ignoring that date on the calendar. They think I'm facetious in my protests. I'm not. All those numbers do is annoy me. They try to remind me that age is more important than life. I have to tell you that every single year after that 50th birthday has been a great year. Between getting my Master's Degree and starting to write (and publish ... whee!) books, I haven't had this much fun at any other time in my life ... and I had a lot of fun in those previous 50 years.

Anyway ... Fran and Leonard gave me this:

I love Lodge cast iron. Given any opportunity, I will prefer to use cast iron.  Now, I'm probably not going to put this dutch oven into a pile of coals and cook a peach cobbler, but I can think of a million things to make on my stove top.  Mom went through a cast iron phase and there is one skillet left over from that.  I remember her having a corn cake pan, but have no idea where it ended up.

And then she gave me these:

Amigurumi Crochet - STAR WARS!!!  I'm going to have some fun with that!  I was telling Fran that my mother thought she could teach me how to knit. Oh, it was a complete failure. But, at some point I decided I had to learn and found a wonderful woman who owned a little yarn shop. I took class after class from her until I finally figured it all out. Her best advice: it isn't that difficult, you can do this.  She was right.

Saturday morning Max and I got up and headed out to run errands. We began at the laundromat. When he changed the laundry from the washing machine to the dryer, he came out with a Bic lighter and handed it to me - question in his eyes.  I didn't recognize it. He asked if I was doing anything fun ... like weed. And if I was - I should be sharing. I continued to protest that it wasn't mine, but I'm not sure if he believed me.

However, when we got back home and I was folding the laundry, I pulled THIS out of the pile.  Yeah. It's not mine either, but it was good for a really hearty laugh.  I tossed it in the trash, and then when I was driving back up here to the cabin yesterday afternoon, I called him and asked if he wouldn't pull it out and take a picture for me for this blogpost. I told him he didn't need to make the shot too 'arty,' and he thought dressing the poor teddy bear up would be a good idea. Ummm, no. No, it wouldn't.  He decided that the lighter and the thong had probably belonged to the same person.  This has happened to him before. I remember folding a bunch of laundry several years ago and pulled out another thong.  That time, though, I asked if he knew who the owner was. The poor guy's 'deer in the headlights' response made me laugh. I'm a mean wife.

A week or so ago, Max got a new smart phone. I was rather excited, since that meant that I could take his Android. I've been using a Blackberry and was looking forward to something a little more up to date. Yep. A 2-year-old Android phone is what I was looking for. I spent most of the weekend getting it adjusted to my personal usage habits. Someday I'll get it all figured out.  I love gadgets and toys and don't have nearly enough money to spend on all the things I believe would make my life more fun.  That's a good thing because I really don't have a place to put all those things.

I love my new phone, but as I cleared the photos off my old phone, I realized that I was looking at the earliest pictures of TB in my life. Oh good heavens he was so small and adorable.

Now, the tiny little kitty cat that came inside pleading for his life, begs me to let him back outside as often as possible and stays out as long as I will let him stay there!

The culmination of this great weekend occurred today - Diana Nyad finished her fifth and final attempt to swim the 103 miles between Cuba and Key West. She did it. Our family paid attention to her incredible feats in the 1970s and I have been following her through her last three attempts. I was so shocked in 2011 to discover that a 62 year old woman was ready to attempt something no one else on earth had accomplished ... and now, two years later she has gone all the way.

I woke up at 1:15 this morning to check her progress and realized that she had at least another eight hours. There was no sign or threat that she was in trouble, so my confidence level raised and I went back to sleep. At 6:15, though, I was up to watch the end of the swim. There has never been an event this exciting or a person this inspiring for me. She has reminded me that grit and determination continue to be important. A dream can be realized.

Now ... I have a novel to finish!  That's my dream.