Thursday, December 31, 2020

The Search is Never Over

Downtown Sebastopol
Back of the Laundromat
Sonoma County, Northern California

"I used to think I was the strangest person in the world but then I thought there are so many people in the world, there must be someone just like me who feels bizarre and flawed in the same ways I do. I would imagine her, and imagine that she must be out there thinking of me too. Well, I hope that if you are out there and read this and know that, yes, it's true, I'm here, and I'm just as strange as you."

-Frida Kahlo


This afternoon, my sister asked me if I wanted to take a ride out to the town of Sebastopol. She wanted to stop by the herbal store.  Walking to the shops, I looked for color and light, my search is never over for color and light. I found it in the parking lot, a mural on the back of the laundromat. I loved the creatures and the swirls of blue painted there.

At the bookstore, I picked out more cards to send out. At the mail center, I sent out the book from my recent giveaway on the blog. 

Just simple things. Simple errands. Simple searches. Simple steps. One by one.

 

Paul

View from our room at our motel in
San Francisco
Scott and I stayed here for three days
He found the motel at a great price 
I loved walking the Richmond District
a neighborhood of businesses and restaurants with a 
strong Chinese influence

“I think Kwan intended to show me the world is not a place but the vastness of the soul. And the soul is nothing more than love, limitless, endless, all that moves us toward knowing what is true. I once thought love was supposed to be nothing but bliss. I now know it is also worry and grief, hope and trust. And believing in ghosts--that's believing that love never dies. If people we love die, then they are lost only to our ordinary senses. If we remember, we can find them anytime with our hundred secret senses.”
― Amy Tan, The Hundred Secret Senses



When I was two years old, my dad would bundle me up in a blanket, place me in the passenger seat of his black triumph, with top down, he would drive across the Golden Gate bridge. Pulling my cover tight around me with my small fingers, I could feel the wind whip around my face and the mist from the fog dampen my blanket. By the time I got dropped off at my grandparents, my blanket would be wet and cold. 

At my grandparents home in San Francisco, on my dad's side of the family, there were twelve aunts and uncles. Eleven kids living in or swinging by for a visit accompanied by partners, kids, and pets all hanging out upstairs and downstairs. It was the best kind of pandemonium in the sixties at that house. Downstairs, there was a large basement where a party was going on, it seemed like everyday. Out the side door a pile of motorcycles were parked on the grass as teenagers flowed in and out.  The Beatles and Janis Joplin played on the stereo, Boones Hill Strawberry Wine flowed one way while joints were passed around the other.  Partying always happened downstairs in the basement not upstairs in the main house where my grandfather rested in his easy chair and my grandmother cooked up meals in the kitchen. 

When I stayed the night at my grandparents, I would get up early in the morning when it was still dark and follow my grandmother into the kitchen. At the blue formica table, I would sit on a chair and look at the wallpaper covered in images of farmers and farmer's wives carrying out chores, feeding the chickens, pitchforking bales of hay, and plowing fields while my grandmother heated up her frying pans to cook up several strips of bacon and pancakes.  Sometimes my grandfather would sit at the table sipping a cup of black coffee. If my grandfather wasn't up yet, my grandmother would tell me stories of growing up and traveling through the desert of Arizona crossing back and forth over the border in Mexico. Her family a mix of German/Irish/French were gold miners. My grandmother was a wonderful story teller and even at my young age of two years old, her stories intrigued and fascinated me. 

One of my favorite stories was about Paul. While the bacon sizzled in the pan, and my grandmother buttered my pancakes pouring maple syrup on top, I would ask her to please tell me another story about Paul. Paul was her baby, he died when he was only a few weeks or short months old. He was one of her twelve children, an Uncle that I would never see or know.  When my grandmother told me stories of Paul, I could imagine him so perfect, his tiny fingers and toes, my grandmother holding him like a little angel in her arms. My grandmother never got mad at me or upset when I asked about Paul, she always had another story waiting for me. 

This morning, I woke up from a restless sleep, upset and sad, about how writing and talking about life passages, death, and grief seem to be still taboo in our country. I remember trying to talk to Scott about death and he never wanted to touch the subject at all like so many of us. Since Scott died, I've received so many letters and messages from people who have had to stuff down their feelings and questions over the years about dying and death, because it causes others so much discomfort.

I remember as a girl child, barely knowing anything about periods, as a teenager not knowing or being able to ask questions about sex or sensuality, as an adult not having information about how to have a healthy relationship with a man, as an older adult being clueless about menopause and now in my mid -fifties having no idea what one goes through losing a partner.

In all stages of life, I have had to rely on books and I was lucky enough to find a good therapist to guide me through some of life's passages along with some women's groups in my early twenties.

Dying, death, and grieving is something each and every one of us is going to face in this life. Why it's so secretive and uncomfortable to talk and write about really, frankly, pisses me off.  All of us are not going to escape death including the death of those we love and our own death.

I am learning a lot about grieving this time around. This morning, I woke up not too happy with Scott, going over past fights and hurts we had. This is normal. It is part of the grieving process. If I hadn't read about it in one of my books on death and grief, I would have felt guilty about it. When I was going through the uncomfortable parts of Scott and myself that are not perfect, that is why we were perfect together, I didn't feel bad about it, I knew it was a passage, a part of the process.

I wish Scott and I could have talked about death more. I think it would have deepened our love and relationship even more than it was. 

Death doesn't have to be taboo. Bleeding as a woman doesn't have to be taboo. Sex as a teenager, losing a partner to death, going through menopause, doesn't have to be off limits.

If we start talking, writing about it and sharing our experiences, we can live a better life now and embrace the mystery instead of chasing it away because of fear and shame.


If we can share our story with someone who responds with empathy and understanding, shame can't survive.”
― BrenĂ© Brown, Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead



Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Opening my World

His Only Wife 

UPDATE: The book drawing has a winner. Thank you for participating. There will be future book giveaways. Thank you đź’™ 

Just finished this West African story about an arranged marriage, strong women, and a culture of food and sensuality that carried me through the pages.

His Only Wife by Peace Adzo Medie is my next book giveaway on the blog here.

The second reader who emails me with the title of the book will receive it soon after the New Year.

Good luck to you:)



 

Little Connections

Our trip to Washington
At the Beach in Port Townsend

"A writer's heart, a poet's heart, and artist's heart, a musician's heart is always breaking.
It it through that broken window that we see the world"...
-Alice Walker

Riding in the passenger seat, I looked out the window to see an older man with a long beard enhanced with thin streaks of silver, he wore a red baseball cap to cover his head. His window was opened to the world walking on the sidewalk below. The sun shined into his rented room atop the restaurants and businesses in downtown Santa Rosa. He leaned back in his chair taking it all in. I lifted my hand, shyly waving at him from the car. He caught my wave, smiling he waved back with great spirit. My sister turned to me, saying "oh, that man is waving at you". I said "yes, I waved first."

I find myself connecting with people in small ways.

The other day, in the town of Petaluma. I parked the car in front of a restaurant I have frequented often through the years. The first time I went with my friend Dian, almost twenty years ago. We ordered the Soba Noodles with Green Curry Sauce and the Noodles with Peanut Sauce. I've ordered both dishes several times since then with my sister and my nephew, and by myself. Last year, I introduced Scott to the restaurant. He chose the soba noodles, we shared the plate, large enough for two. I remember having a strawberry Italian soda.

This time, the restaurant was closed except for take-out. I didn't go in. I left the car heading the opposite direction to the post office to buy stamps, On the way, I noticed a frail tall woman with a tight crown of white permed hair, she held a cup of coffee in one hand as she sat by herself on a bench in front of one of the many businesses that have permanently shut down during COVID. She looked to be in her eighties. As I passed by, I looked into her eyes, they were vacantly searching the streets and downtown before her. I smiled through my mask and said hello. She awoke from her dream, smiling a hello back to me.

Since losing Scott, my empathy and compassion has expanded to include people I would have walked right by, never noticed, or paid any attention to. 

Not anymore.  I look out now, looking for the invisible. I want to touch people and connect and let them know they are not ghosts walking the earth unseen.


Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Shadow Tree

This Afternoon
Santa Rosa
Railroad Square
Northern California

This afternoon, my sister picked me up to get something to eat and take photos. She asked me where I wanted to go. I said "How about the new deli?"  We headed over to Railroad Square and picked up sandwiches, chips, waters, two cookies and a loaf of rye bread for my dad. $65. That's Sonoma County for you. I will say the lox were the best I've ever had, the bagel not so much. The small bag of chips were $4 each. My sister said her sandwich was one of the best she's ever ordered from a deli. Next time, we are bringing our own chips and water, skip the cookies and just get the sandwiches. The sandwiches were worth the money. 

I'm going back to packing lunches and snacks from home for my back road trips, so I don't run through so much money.

We waited for our order sitting at the picnic tables in the outdoor dining area which was closed to eating due to COVID restrictions. During our wait, I watched as one of the employees politely asked two other customers to not eat out of their bag of chips while their order was being prepared. Okay.... I am fortunate to not be working in the restaurant business right now, any customer service during COVID must be horribly challenging having to wear face masks for hours and the uncomfortable interactions setting boundaries with people. 

Luckily, the two customers obliged and put away their potato chips without a fuss.

We took our sandwiches and waters back to the car and had our picnic on the dashboard in the metered public parking lot with a view of the traffic. After we ate, we headed out to Bodega Bay which turned out to be overcrowded without a parking spot in sight, everyone having the same idea to escape to watch the sunset over the sea.

My sister and I carried on a great conversation about relationships, soulmates, our fate in life, and endless spiritual musings while we spotted several hawks up in the trees off to the side of the country roads leading us back home. It was good to get out. I try to get out every day, I make myself get out everyday, even though it's tough right now. It's important for me to move through the emotions and allow memories to surface no matter how painful they may be. I have many moments of feeling a connection with Scott and joy and gratitude for having met him and having our life together even though it was so short.

At home, lots of tears, and missing him.  

Tonight, I am going to treat myself to a series, I have found on Netflix that makes me laugh and forget myself. It's called The Kominsky Method. I love Alan Arkin and I can relate to his character who has lost his wife and is surprised to find himself a widow. Alan Arkin and Michael Douglas are a great pair to watch. 

Moment by moment I am feeling my way through this.

Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them – that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like. 

-Lao Tzu








 

Our Altar

Partial View of Altar in my Room


In every home we stayed in for a length of time, Scott created an altar with natural pieces he found on our travels. A piece of driftwood, feathers, stones, an abalone shell. Each altar represented the four elements: Air, Fire, Earth, and Water. 

When Scott passed away, I slept under his altar for weeks until I left the mountain. Carefully, I removed the pieces of his altar and packed them when I left. 

Here, at my temporary home for the next few months, I put his altar back together again. I added pieces of my own to it. Flowers, a candle, a personal item of Scott's. 

Every morning, I light the candle on the altar. I touch his altar, our altar and bless it. 

When David, my brother, passed away I created an altar for him. I wish, now, that I had created one for all the animals I have lost. I think it would have helped me during the grieving process instead of shutting down.

I imagine, now, I will always have an altar when I am at home for awhile like Scott did. Scott will always be a part of my altar and I will add and take away pieces as life moves along always keeping some of Scott's pieces with me.



 

Jumping Bean

Willamette Falls, Portland, Oregon
I think Scott was a bit disappointed on this site seeing trip. 
He thought the falls would be more impressive at Willamette.
When we were in and near Portland, he drove for hours so I could see almost 
a dozen falls. The parks were so crowded at most of them, we just drove by, so
I didn't get photos, but I did see them.


I feel like I am a jumping bean. I don't know how you guys are keeping up with me. My emotions are in a blender, mixed up and all over the place some of the time until I reach a peaceful state of calm where I feel I can do this. I can do this grieving thing, which sometimes is "suspend belief" that maybe Scott is not really gone. 

This is all normal, part of the grieving process. It's the grey I need to be concerned about. If I was numb, not feeling anything, not seeing colors, and not moving through the process, it is time to get professional help/maybe even medical help.  I'm not there. I am feeling, I am processing, I am a jumping bean of emotions and wants. Want to start a new life, traveling, and writing. Can't start a new life, too soon, can't skip grieving steps, painful losing Scott, and COVID is keeping almost every door shut right now.

I do have a great support system. I have family, friends, a support group, a therapist on standby, my writing, my blog, my readers, my books, nature, and a strong will to see myself through this to the light and mystery of my love for Scott and losing him.

I do want my life and my grief to be meaningful. I want to help people and animals.  I want to have a purpose in this life. 

So jumping bean it is. I am going to continue jumping around emotionally, physically, spiritually and mentally. How can I not. It feels like half my body, half my spirit, and half my soul has been torn from me. Of course, I would want to jump away from pain and the process. Runaway from it all.

But I can't. I have to be here, now, and go through it. It's part of the transformation, the integration, the way to transcendence. 











 

Monday, December 28, 2020

There is No Skipping Steps

This afternoon in Petaluma
Northern California

"Grief is a lifelong process", a big sigh escapes me as I read these words in the latest book I'm reading Transcending Loss by Ashley Davis Bush, L.C.S.W. 

I'm reminded of the time we spent in orientation at the Grand Canyon a couple of years ago, learning about our new jobs, the ones Scott and I were hired for in the hospitality department. Sitting next to each other at one of several long tables, our Employee Packets stuffed with loose sheets and pamphlets stacked in front of us along with bottles of water and snacks provided by our employer, we listened attentively to the speakers providing information about company policy and the work ethic they expected from us. 

Anytime, the speaker or one of our potential supervisors asked for input or an answer to a team building question, both Scott and I would raise our hands up as fast as possible like teachers' pets wanting to give the first and best answer. I looked at both of us, almost embarrassed, thinking how much we were acting like Horshack shouting "mr kotter, mr kotter!", in that old seventies comedy series Welcome Back, Kotter. My self acknowledged ignored humility, didn't stop me, I still raised my hand as high as Scott's to give my input right along with his at every opportunity. We were having so much fun together, smiling at each other, thinking how smart and wise we were. And extremely annoying to everyone in the class, especially being in our fifties with most everyone else barely in their thirties those three days of job orientation.

Reading the latest grief book, there is a big part of me that wants to skip the steps of pain losing Scott and move from Grieving to Transcendence. I want to have the answers. I want to skip to resurrection, communication, transcending to a higher purpose, there must be a higher purpose, a bigger picture, if only I can answer the question of "Why" and "What is Next for Us", doors will open, and I can move forward and out of the pain, discomfort, and unknowing of this horrible tragedy I am treading water in. Both Scott and I can skip to the end, finding the answer, the purpose of it all.

There is no skipping steps. "Grief is a life long process". Some questions will be answered and some will not be answered. Sometimes I will accept this, sometimes I will fight it, and in the end I will surrender to "I have no fucking clue, why this happened". I really don't give a shit "why",  I just want Scott back." And we all know that ain't happening. So back to the beginning again. Step by step, I will work my way to "transcending loss", not moving on from loss, not moving on from loving Scott, "transcending loss". Those two words give me hope, "transcending loss".  These words are the carrot that will help me move forward on this path of stones and thorns. I will keep reaching for transcendence. 

So, today, I sit down, my hands in my lap, I have no answers. I have a book. I have nature. I have my love for Scott. I have two words to look forward to. 

Today, that will have to be enough.









 

Feeling the Magic

At Tomales Bay with Scott
Marin County, Northern California

“Do not look sad. We shall meet soon again.” “Please, Aslan”, said Lucy,”what do you call soon?”
“I call all times soon” said Aslan; and instantly he was vanished away.”
― C.S. Lewis

 

Last night, I fell asleep listening to the music from the Chronicles of Narnia. When I was a kid first reading the Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis, I remember the tears streaming down my face when Aslan the Lion was bound to the stone table. I loved that lion so much, it was probably one of the first times my heart felt a crack in it, a sorrow.

This morning, I am feeling the magic again, a knowing and a truth, that life does not end here. This is not the final chapter of Scott's story, my story, our story together. I am ready for the path to unfold wherever it leads me.

“But, first, remember, remember, remember the signs. Say them to yourself when you wake in the morning and when you lie down at night, and when you wake in the middle of the night. And whatever strange things may happen to you, let nothing turn your mind from following the signs. And secondly, I give you a warning. Here on the mountain I have spoken to you clearly: I will not often do so down in Narnia. Here on the mountain, the air is clear and your mind is clear; as you drop down into Narnia, the air will thicken. Take great care that it does not confuse your mind. And the signs which you have learned here will not look at all as you expect them to look, when you meet them there. That is why it is so important to know them by heart and pay no attention to appearances. Remember the signs and believe the signs. Nothing else matters.”

― C.S. Lewis, The Chronicles of Narnia

Sunday, December 27, 2020

Searching for the Other Side

This Afternoon
Town Square 
Sonoma, California


I won't pretend today was easy. Sometimes it seems I am feeling more pain than I did the first few days after Scott's death. Sometimes, I fear I will lose people with all of this pain. But. That is not the point. It is not the point to worry or fear about how my grief expands and deepens, what my process looks like or how it affects those who can bear to be around me now.

“The artist, and particularly the poet, is always an anarchist in the best sense of the word. He must heed only the call that arises within him from three strong voices: the voice of death, with all its foreboding, the voice of love and the voice of art.”

― Federico GarcĂ­a-Lorca

Grief is deeply personal. It is as individual as the person experiencing it. 

I would be doing an incredible disservice to those who are grieving, who have grieved, and for those of us missing Scott painfully to hide my pain in all of this. To cover it up and pretend to you that it's okay, to have all the answers, to know what the big picture is in all of this.

I am on a search like so many of us to find answers to our suffering. To understand what this mystery and journey is all about and I promise to share my experience. 

This afternoon, it helped to go outside. I wasn't excited or looking forward to the walk without Scott. I had to push myself to do it. Walking the town square in Sonoma, I felt numb and pain and numb and pain. 

I window shopped with zero interest in anything material. Finally, walking through the park, I found the pond and the ducks.

The pond, the fountain and the ducks lifted my spirits. The ducks with emerald green heads, dived down head first in the soupy water searching for food with their cute feathered rumps up in the air, they zipped this way and that in teams of four and six and back to four again across the pond like a waterfowl ballet.  They softly quacked an alarm to each other, a grumbling pack of ducks vocalizing their discontent as a black and white boxer type dog walked by on a leash. The whole flock taking off with their carrot colored paddle feet propelling them forward around the fountain to the other side of the pond until the dog disappeared to the other side of the park.

So much life in such a small cement space edged in a tiny square in the middle of a town park.

After the park, at home, I made a small plate of tapas and poured a glass of red wine. And planned a trip to the country where my grandparents were born, where blood, pain, and guts are part of the culture seeped into the art, poetry and stories like a bull dying in the pit of an arena.

It is time for me go to a place I can properly grieve. Spain. And so plans are being written for Spring early Summer 2021 in hopes the fates open the door for me to go.
 

The Spaniard Poet Garcia Lorca from his poem 
Three Tragedies

"My head is full of fire
and grief and my tongue
runs wild, pierced
with shards of glass"

-Federico Garcia Lorca




Morning Rituals

Crescent City, Northern California
One of Scott and my favorite spots
We spent hours and days here watching the sea

This morning to avoid going into a dark hole, I am beginning new rituals. It is rainy and cold outside. I made my bed fluffy and comfortable. My laundry is in the washer. My room is clean. It is important to take care of myself during these times.

I am playing music called "morning coffee" on my CALM app from Google Play that I mentioned in a previous post. I have my three books on my bed to read (my reading list is on the right side of the home page of the blog if you are interested), along with my journal and my gorgeously illustrated WeMoon 2021 calendar.

I am back to using tools in my life to keep me from falling into the grey world (anxiety and depression). I didn't have to use tools except for my writing when Scott was here. He was my anchor.  I need my tools now. 

Later, I might go on a walk, depending on how much rain we get. I am finding watching movies or series on Netflix is bringing me down. Even the most well written shows can't compete with reading books and being in nature, so I am shutting down my experiment to try and see if I could escape into the television. 

Escaping isn't working for me. Staying connected to the natural world, reading good books, taking photos, writing, and spending time with people who can hold space, listen, and understand that there are no easy fixes or answers while this journey and mystery unfolds is what I need right now.

And the biggest thing I find that makes me feel better after losing Scott is Giving. I've donated some money in Scott's honor and I love sending cards and books to people. Eventually, as Covid is under control, I will be able to volunteer and travel while I give back, work, and share stories on my blog.

My blog is the thread that keeps me going. I call it my command central station. Here is where I can create a new life for myself while always loving Scott and continuing my search for the mystery, joy, and magic that living is, here, on this Earth.

 

Saturday, December 26, 2020

Look, Coyote!



Three Coots and all those sandy lumps are Plovers
I definitely need to buy myself a new camera with a zoom
Bodega Bay, California

My sister took me for a drive yesterday afternoon. She headed towards the town of Calistoga where the hot springs are in Napa. While we were driving through the pouring rain, passing the brown trees and grass in so much need of water, and through the canyon towards town, I was describing to her what my mission is. To find meaning in the mystery, to follow the thread of messages revealed, to live a deeper life while I am here and to write about it.

Lately, I've been stuck, a bit frustrated, returning to a town where people and a frenzy of activity feels like a constant static. The distractions and speed increases in a town of over hundred thousand, in a county reaching or tipping over a half million. I could sense I was missing being immersed in nature. Over the summer and fall with few humans and not much in the way of distractions, I felt part of nature every day and at night Scott and I could see the stars, the planets and the moon in a panoramic night sky.  

Since being back in Sonoma, I've wanted to runaway, runaway to a smaller town, an island where the speed would slow down, and I could see and listen, living in a more profound way of being.

In the car, as our conversation continued, my sister got distracted taking the wrong turn. Within minutes, she picked up the right direction on a different road than what she had planned on following. Within a couple of minutes, we were traveling back towards Napa. Suddenly, along the side of the road, I noticed a dog like animal with a thick bushy coat the color of autumn running along side the road parallel to us. "Look, Coyote!". I called out to my sister. My sister looked over, spotting the coyote, slowing down to match the coyote's speed. The coyote adjusted her pace, to follow along with us. My sister slowed way down and stopped in the middle of the road. Within the same moment my sister stopped the car, the coyote stopped as well. 

The coyote tossed her head back over her shoulder looking at both of us. Her golden eyes met ours as all three of us gazed at each other falling into a sense of timelessness. I could feel her wildness, her pure presence, her message to let us know there is an unseen world hidden within what is surrounding and within us.

Soon enough, cars started approaching, as my sister put her foot on the gas pedal to get going, the coyote turned too, disappearing from the road back into the wooded area of manzanita and oak trees. Our message received, we headed towards town.

After, our time with coyote, I understand now that it doesn't matter where I am or how busy and distracting it seems to be, I can and will remain connected.


Coyotes move within a landscape of attentiveness. I have seen their eyes in the creosote bushes and among mesquite trees. They have watched me. And all the times that I saw no eyes, that I kept walking and never knew, there were still coyotes. When I have seen them trot away, when I have stepped from the floorboard of my truck, leaned on the door, and watched them as they watched me over their shoulders, I have been aware for that moment of how much more there is. Of how I have only seen only an instant of a broad and rich life.”











 

Friday, December 25, 2020

Making Friends

Scott befriends a Seagull

"Close friendships are one of life's miracles-that a few people get to know you deeply, all your messy or shadowy stuff along with the beauty and sweetness, and they still love you. Not only still love, but love you more and more deeply. I would do anything for my closest friends, and they would do almost anything for me, and that is about as spiritual a truth as you can get.
-Anne Lamott

This afternoon, I felt lost, missing Scott. Then, his daughter reached out to me and I feel him here through her wisdom and heart.  When I need to take a deep breath, I am supported. And I hope in my words, I am supporting and comforting others as well.

Right before, Scott's daughter reached out to me, I was looking for a photo I took of Scott that I am ready to share now. This photo is of Scott sitting at Drake's Beach, nearby, if you look close, you will see a Seagull.

There is a story here.

That day, both Scott and I were sitting looking out at the sea at Drake's Bay in Marin County, north of San Francisco.  There was a large flock of seagulls numbering in the hundreds. An outcast, a forlorn looking seagull was by himself separate from the flock. He looked depressed, his face tucking towards his wing with one eye looking out.

Scott started talking to him. Asking him his name and how he was doing over there. I watched as Scott kept sweetly talking to this beat up sad seagull.  Within a few short minutes, the seagull pulled himself together, and moved inch by inch towards Scott. 

Surprised, I watched as the seagull hopped onto the large piece of driftwood we were sitting on, finding a spot on Scott's side of the log. He kept company with Scott, with us, while Scott continued communicating with him until we got up to go. 

It was such a sweet moment of connection that lasted almost an hour. 

We both said goodbye to the seagull as we turned to walk back along the beach returning to our van waiting for us in the parking lot.

“Don't be dismayed at good-byes. A farewell is necessary before you can meet again. And meeting again, after moments or lifetimes, is certain for those who are friends.”
― Richard Bach






No Going Back

Parking Lot
Hog Island Oyster Company
Tomales, Calfornia

Last night, I left the family Christmas Eve dinner before the pasta and seafood was served. I lost my appetite for food and company. Retreating, I fell asleep watching my favorite holiday movie "It's a Wonderful Life".  I woke up from a dream this morning, Scott was writing me a letter, the last sentence in cursive reading "You can find me at the park". 

This morning, Christmas, I know I cannot go back. I cannot return to the safety of the life I had before. I cannot go back finding comfort in family. I cannot go back and live in Sonoma where I lived before I met Scott. I know the journey ahead of me will be a road I have not taken before. The time is not here yet for me to venture forth. I feel stuck and frustrated in some ways, because of COVID. 

I have to be patient for the doors to open while doors are shutting now. I am not good at being patient. 

In the meantime, while at my old "home", I will travel the back roads searching for the mystery and meaning behind the pain. 

The meaning maybe as simple and complex as meeting a cat named Sophia, listening to a flock of sparrows chattering and singing at the Church of St. Francis, a baby fawn searching for me behind a window separating one world from the next, a sunrise so beautiful it takes my breath away, watching a flock of coots splash and play in the river by the sea as seagulls glide over, it could be the message I received the other day to remember to follow the "flute music" , the music that might guide me to a place or a person along the path I am supposed to meet in the future.

Who knows? Every moment unfolds one mystery to a revelation to another mystery as I search for the meaning in all of this.

I just know one thing for sure. There is no going backwards.





 

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Sophia

General Vallejo's Home & Fountain
Sonoma, California

I love exploring the mysteries of life and the eternal. Yesterday, I mentioned meeting a "feral" cat, a smokey cream tortoiseshell. She turned out not to be so feral after all.  Ignoring the ranger's caution that "she bites", I found a place to sit, where the kitty slid up next to me purring away as I petted her.  

I forgot to mention, the Park Ranger told me the cat who lives at General Vallejo's State Park is called  "Sophia" when I inquired if she had a name.   This afternoon, reading my book, Mary Magdalene Revealed by Meggan Watterson, Sophia is mentioned. 

I wasn't familiar with Sophia or forgot her meaning, looking further, I found Sophia means "wisdom" and in the Gnostics, her followers worship her as the divine female creator and counterpart to Jesus Christ. In the Gnostics, Christ is conceived of two aspects, a male half identified as the son of God, and the female half called Sophia, who is the Mother of the Universe.

I looked through my photos remembering I had taken a photo of Sophia, the cat, by the fountain at the park yesterday. I can't find the photo anywhere. I know she was very real and I am honored she invited me to spend time with her.

I will look for her again at the park in Sonoma next time I visit. 

One Step at a Time

Christmas Eve 2020
Tomales Bay
Marin County, Northern California

This morning, I woke up with tears in my eyes. Scott was with me in my dreams. In bed, by myself, I had a cup of coffee, missing him so much. I loved our talks, sharing our dreams, our feelings, what the day would bring, especially sweet were the talks in the wee morning hours before the sunrise. 

Later in the day,  I did have a good road trip. We went to Tomales, a small seaside community north of San Francisco. Along the bay, we picked up clams and mussels at Hog Island Oyster Company for Christmas Eve Dinner. There will also be a pasta with a cream sauce tossed with zest from the Meyer Lemons I picked up yesterday from my trip out to Sonoma. 

The bay was blanketed in birds, among them, coots, red-headed ducks, and plovers. Deer napped nestled in still golden grasses perched on a nook overlooking the calm sea. Black and Red Angus cattle grazed up the steep jigsaw carved hillsides twisting and turning along the California coastline. 

I thought to myself, how much, I wanted a nice camera. I haven't thought of a camera in years relying on my cheap $50 cellphone to take photos for the blog. Something sparked inside me, that maybe, sometime in the future it would be a good idea to have a nice camera with a zoom lens. My photos from the cell barely capture what I am seeing right now.  

During the drive through Marin, there was barely a moment, I didn't think of Scott. The moments I did think about him were such sweet memories of all the picnics and exploring we did through this area, the campsite we stayed at in the town of Olema, close to Pt Reyes National Seashore, and all the beaches we visited. I could feel him with me.

Arriving at Point Reyes Station Post Office,  I mailed off the book "Wintering" to one of my readers. It felt so good to give.

Later, today I am participating in a Zoom group from the UK, they will be singing Christmas Carols and telling stories. This evening, there will be a small family gathering here at home with seafood, pasta and wine.

I am sure it will be a roller coaster of emotions for me and I accept this as being part of my life now. It is the price I am willing to pay for loving so deeply someone so special, he will never be replaced in my heart.

Merry Christmas to all of you. Merry Christmas Honey. 

May Joy, Peace, and the Deepest Love fill all of your hearts this Holiday Day Season and Beyond.

xoxo,

J



 

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Discovering Lemons on the Road

General Vallejo's Home
Sonoma, California


I need to get out everyday to preserve my sanity. Before I met Scott, I was always traveling along the back roads by myself discovering new places with my dogs on my days off and even more so when I owned my pet sitting business. With Scott, of course, we rarely missed a day exploring the back roads.

This afternoon, the car guided me to the town of Sonoma and General Vallejo's Home. Earlier this year, Scott spent a precious day with his daughter hiking the trails, it was the first time I met her. We had lunch afterwards at a cafe in the center of town. I will always remember that day. It was beautiful to see them talking and being in nature together.

Today, it was another emotionally challenging day. Visiting this park, memories and a quiet sadness surfaced and lingered as I walked the grounds. 

After my walk, there was a bright moment when a "feral" cat whom the park rangers warned me not to pet, "she bites" approached me.  That didn't deter me and the cat. I found a spot on a porch near the fountain that I knew would entice her and sure enough it did. I found a comfortable spot on the stairs to sit. The smokey blue tortoiseshell cat with a clipped ear proving she had been trapped and spayed sauntered up the steps and almost into my lap purring away.  I petted her head and scratched behind her ears as we watched the fountain bubble and splash in the shadows and light of the fading sun.

As I left the park, the ranger offered me citrus from the meyer lemon tree. Back at home, I sliced a small piece to add to my ice water. I feel like I can go back to the park again, there might be a cat there waiting for me. 

Wintering

"A Truly Beautiful Book"
-Elizabeth Gilbert


12/23/2020:  I am happy to announce there has been a first reader who emailed me for this book. I will be giving more books away in the future on the blog. Stay tuned as they say! Thank you to everyone who emailed me:)

I don't watch television and I am extremely selective when it comes to watching movies or a series. I find my comfort and hope in books. Books are an escape for me into another world, into another's heart and creative mind. 

I just finished reading Wintering by Katherine May. It's a lush book that kept my interest through-out.

I am giving this book away to the first reader from my blog who emails me. Please mention the name of the book since I will be doing more giveaways.

The book giveaway is a way for me to give at this time. I have been given so much over the years and especially since Scott's passing. 

It helps me feel good to give something back. This is a way I can give on a small scale within my budget and my energy at this time.

Good luck to the receiver of Wintering.



 

Calm

Wetland Area near the town of 
Dungeness, Washington, road trip with Scott

Yesterday, was the first day I attended a Zoom. It was for my widow bereavement support group. I was surprised at the amount of people my age and younger. Some widows only in their late twenties and thirties with small children. 

When I asked about coping with nightfall, I am having trouble feeling down and not being able to sleep, one of the suggestions beside watching Netflix was to use an app called CALM. I uploaded from Google Play last night. It is an app to help you sleep. There are hundreds of bedtime stories read in soothing voices, nature sounds, meditations, and music to enhance sleep.

Last night, I listened to a story about Atlantis, the mythical island. I fell asleep within fifteen minutes. The story read by an older man was filled with colorful imagery and animals. I actually tried to stay awake to listen to it.  

If you have trouble sleeping, I recommend the CALM app at https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.calm.android. You can go with the free or the paid version. It's worth it for me to go with the paid version because it opens up more stories and sounds.

The other morning, it was kind of funny, I woke up telling Scott "I am going to make the decision, I'm the one stuck here". In my dream, I can't remember what we were discussing. 

When I met Scott, he said, we are going to discuss options and paths to take for our life together over and over until we come to the best decision. I looked at him like "you gotta be kidding". I was single most of my life, not having to share decision making. I operated on impulse and reaction a good part of it.  

Scott was right, we did end up discussing things over and over until I wanted to scream sometimes. 

Seems like we are still doing it, even in my dreams.

I am still learning patience and compromise. I'm getting better and better at it. 



 

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

After Life


 

Colorful Kayaks
Jenner, California

My mom's brother died today. Five weeks to the day, after Scott. He was living in an assisted living facility. They wouldn't allow any visitors, not even his son, or my Uncle's dog. They couldn't even visit him from the other side of the fence anymore because of COVID restrictions. He got depressed and didn't want to go on.

This afternoon, I attended my first bereavement support group. It was comforting. So many people. So many partners lost. I asked the group members what they do at night. I explained the nights are a nightmare for me, a darkness of despair.  There were 34 attendees on the Zoom Group today. Almost all of them binge watch Netflix at night. I found out the dark comedy "After Life" about a husband losing his wife to cancer is pretty right on.

Tonight, I watched two episodes of "After Life" on Netflix with my mom.

Sometimes it helps to watch a show where the writer and actor "get it".  Ricky Gervais gets it.




Hope and a Short Road Trip

Jenner, California
Where the River meets the Sea

This morning, I got dressed and took off on a short road trip to Jenner. Jenner is a small town near Bodega Bay. It is where the river meets the sea. Turning on the radio to a seventies station, I drove Occidental Road out to Monte Rio near the Russian River. I turned up the heat in the car and rolled down the windows greeting a beautiful blue sparkling day. I felt Scott in the car with me along with my dogs, my horses, my goats, my Aunt Cathy, David and Regina, all of my people and animals who are on the "other side". 

You might say "How did she fit all of those people and animals in her car?"

I have no idea. I can just tell you all of them were in the car with me.

In that moment, I felt an overwhelming feeling of joy, like the kind of joy you may have experienced on a hot summer night, where you are so in the now, you are deep in a sense of immortality.

Winding the country roads heading to the ocean, during this moment, my seventies station started playing "It's Magic" https://youtu.be/ASGgn8bNQuA

    Oh, ho, ho
It's magic you know
Never believe, it's not so
It's magic, you know


At the town of Duncan Mills, I stopped at our favorite deli, picked up a veggie sandwich, chips and a coconut water and headed out to the sea. At the visitor's parking lot, I watched the ripples of water, the few guests checking out kayaks, and a flock of charcoal grey coots splash water at each other. I've never witnessed them play like this before. 

I stayed for a half hour. 

This morning, I found my way on the path again. I know I will keep falling. And I know I can keep picking myself back up again. Like "B" said. I have a lot of support.







Soaring Spirits

Howarth Park
Santa Rosa, California

Yesterday was not easy. It started off good. My drive to Glen Ellen to drop off cards at the post office was beautiful. It felt good to drive again.  Afterwards, I stopped by a local park, Howarth Park.  When Scott worked for a local company delivering office supplies, I would bring him his lunch. We would have a picnic at the park until he had to go back to work.  I loved making his lunch. Sandwiches, salads with avocado, sometimes tapas; small plates of deviled eggs, olives, crunchy sourdough bread and cheese, sliced apples, maybe an orange to share.

It was hard visiting the park. I didn't know it would be so hard. As soon as I got out of the car and saw the swans and the white egret floating above the lake, the ones, Scott loved to photograph, I felt the emotions surface and flood my being.  I could only stay a few short minutes. The lake was filled with so many birds, more birds than I've ever seen. I wanted to stay. I just couldn't. I walked back to the car, got in and called my sister back. We talked for awhile. She let me know that all of the animals left the mountain when I left. The meadowlarks, the deer, the baby fawn, all of them gone. It's silent there. That doesn't surprise me. I know they were messengers from Scott.

Last night, another night of despair. I did find salvation.

I found it in a video by Kelley Lynn who lost her husband. She is a healer with her words. She says "there is no moving on" and I agree. I will never move on from loving Scott, writing about him, sharing him, and having his presence with me. Her video, may be a comfort to you, whether you have lost someone or not.  It's about fifteen minutes long. https://youtu.be/kYWlCGbbDGI

In her video, she mentions an organization called Soaring Spirits at www.soaringspirits.org


I spent several hours last night surfing the site and reading blog posts from people who have lost their partners. I found the section about communicating with your partner after death especially interesting and encouraging. I felt a kinship with these people reading their stories. 

We still treat talking about death and our connection with the loved ones we have lost as something that needs to be fixed or moved on from. Talking about it and I'm sure writing about it makes many people uncomfortable. I am not going to stop talking about it or writing about it. I will not forget or place in a box those I have loved who have died, they are very much alive to me.  

In this blog of mine, I hope to share what I am learning in hopes that it brings you comfort and maybe some tools to go deeper within and know that we are never alone. 

We have each other and we have those who we will always love and who we will always remain connected to, by keeping our hearts open.