Saturday, November 24, 2012

The Journey

Life is not a plateau of happiness that you reach after a certain amount of time. It is more like a mountain range: full of peaks, valleys, rain, beautiful views, and dangerous terrain. Once you have reached the top, there are a neverending series of paths on which to continue. Up and down until our final day.

Today I have found myself in a valley. It is dark, cold, and rainy. My boots are wet and I have blisters on my feet. I keep thinking "Why can't it be sunny?", "Where are all the beautiful views?", and "Why have I lost my hiking partner?". Does this mean that I give up? Where would I go? No matter how I perceive my situation at the moment, it is, nonetheless, my situation. Do I lye in the mud and weep? Maybe for a moment. Then I have to force myself up, figure out a way to build a fire and shelter, dry off my boots and socks, and feel hopeful that the rain will eventually let up. It always does after all.

Tomorrow just might be sunny. I could be only a few steps from an amazing view that will inspire and uplift me. I will surely meet other hikers, known and unknown, and we will laugh together on our shared path.

In accepting where we are on our journey, in any given moment, we find an inner resilience and strength to continue. Life is not about bouncing around on clouds with a perma-smile. It is about getting up, standing tall, and hiking on.

Sunday, November 11, 2012


The up and down emotions I have experienced over the last 6 months have been stressful and tiring to say the least. One moment feeling ok and the next feeling like I am stuck at the bottom of a dark, stinky pond. The key, I have found, to pulling myself out of said stank-pond, is gratitude. Simple and yet completely profound.

I have always known this intellectually: Focus on the negative and you feel more negative; focus on the positive and voila, but I have never deeply integrated it into my life. Over the last 6 months, I finally have. When I am sinking, gratitude can pull me back up to the surface quicker than anything else. Not to say it works every time and not to say I don't need to experience the darker emotions as well. I just don't need to dwell on the dark emotions for long periods of time, especially given my family history.

We all have something for which to be grateful. Your warm bed, hot water, the look on your dog's face, your amazing body, your job, the people in your life, sunshine, rain, garbage men, electricity, lotion, your children, safety, music, coffee...I could go on and on. Start with the easy stuff and it becomes a snowball effect. Before you know it you become grateful for your grumpy neighbor because he taught you a lesson about patience or the morning traffic because it allowed you to listen to one more good tune on your way to work. Even in the midst of struggle and loss, there are so many things for which to be grateful.

Wake up in the morning and, instead of dreading your day or focusing on what is missing in your life, start a list in your head of all that is present and might help this process! I guarantee it will change your life, if only for the moment, which is really all we have.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Women's Rights???

Women's liberation and the feminist movement helped women gain equality...or close to many areas. Women fought hard to be thought of as more than just wives and mothers and to have the right to make their own choices. My question is, have we taken it too far?

I woke up this morning thinking of Ben, as I do every day. I thought of how much I missed him and what my life would look like today if he were still alive. I know what it wouldn't look like. I wouldn't have to be taking spiders out of my apartment, putting together furniture for hours,or watching football games and trying to learn how to explain the rules to my future son. I wouldn't be making decisions about appliances on my own, going to prenatal appointments alone, or cooking for one. I wouldn't have to carry the heavy groceries into the house while seven months pregnant, take care of the dog by myself, or think about delivering our child without him. I wouldn't be worrying so much about raising a son as a single mother and trying to figure out how to be both nurturer and disciplinarian on my own. I wouldn't be spending nights alone.

I am not trying to have a pity party, but only making a point. I CAN do these things on my own. I am capable of learning all of the skills necessary to care for myself and my child. Do I want to do it all? Hell no! I believe that men and women are inherently different. We are comfortable filling certain roles and feel much less stressed when we have the masculine/ feminine balance in our lives. I was perfectly happy making dinner for Ben, doing his laundry, cleaning the house, and making love every day. I was so grateful that he could fix things around the house, start a fire, carry the heavy items, and shovel the driveway. Why is it such a bad thing to be "just" a wife and mother? Why have women become so masculine and feel they need to do it all?

I am absolutely grateful to the women who fought for our freedoms. The freedom to choose whether we want to be someone's wife or have children. Whether we want to go to work or stay home. I am just saying that there is nothing wrong with choosing to be a wife and mother...and loving every second of it. I would have. I just want every woman out there with a great man to be grateful that he is in your life, being a man, keeping you balanced.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Anger Transcended

I came to New Hampshire full of anger. Anger towards corporations, anger about war and politics, anger regarding our patriarchal society, anger towards the rich, and hidden anger about my mom's suicide. I sported an anarchist cape, listened to a lot of System of a Down and Rage Against the Machine, and had no stability or plans for the future. I felt guilty everytime I put gas in my car and refused to buy new shoes even though my only pair were full of holes!

I have changed.

I first learned to live in more joy through my friends and co-workers. I put my anger on the back burner and used my "crazy dancing lady" as a sort of self therapy. I enjoyed the scenery of a new area and appreciated making enough money to stop worrying about mere survival. I saw the rich in a new light through my customers and I was surrounded by people who were genuinely happy...what a concept! I eased up a bit, but still held a lot of strong opinions and beliefs regarding society and especially men. I was still angry, but covering it up with certain substances and a lot of activity.

Then I met greatest spiritual teacher to date. I have studied different spiritual principles on and off for 10 years. I have practiced yoga and meditation, read many Buddhist texts, practiced visualization techniques and made vision boards, taken Oprah classes, meditated with prisoners, and even walked on fire! My parents raised me to be open to the occult and I have been a constant seeker of answers. Who would have thought that a 25-year-old republican sporting a Steeler's hat and drinking a beer would be my number one guru? :)

I had a strong concept of men in general, but especially men who watched sports and voted for GW! Ben also had his own concepts about liberal, tattoo-covered hippy chicks! We still opened up enough to let one another into our minds, and eventually, our hearts. The more we got to know eachother and the more in-depth our conversations became, the more we realized our similarities at a core level. We were both stubborn and true to ourselves. We were both extremely loyal and simultaneously independent. We both loved games and friendly competition. We were both real and valued truth above all other values. We both loved snickers and hated onions!! So there we were, the anarchist and the patriot, in love.

Not that it was always easy. We disagreed on most subjects and debated often. Ben was the first man I had ever met who could actually debate with me to the point where I would see his perspective...and sometimes even change my own. He was strong enough to change me and to change himself as neccesary. Over the course of just one year, we both changed greatly...and for the better.

Then came the day of the big fight. The debate of all debates that would either make us or break us. I was pregnant and had to give up all of my vices. I had to face emotions that I had been hiding for over a year. He had recently quit smoking cigarretes and was "on edge" to say the least. We had both reached the maximum of our stress levels. Our anger rose to the surface...and we let it out on eachother. I will not get into the details of the confrontation, because they are unimportant. Hurtful words were spoken, material objects were broken, and we were both arrested. Yes, this was a bad one. We were forced into a restraining order although neither of us wanted it and we had some time to think.

By the next day we had decided that we wanted to make our relationship work. We already missed eachother and knew that we had allowed things to get out of control. Our egos had come out full force and then been shattered to pieces. All that was left now was a deep, unconditional, and genuine love for one another. The anger was gone.

After that our love became stronger and more beautiful than ever. Our insecurities and fears had dropped. We both knew that the other loved us for who we were and we could make it through anything. We experienced a slowing down of time and a true togetherness like I had never felt before. Our egos were no longer running the show and the anger had dissapated. Only real love was present. This is how we spent the last weeks of Ben's life.

Now, when my mind goes into anger and frustration, I am able to forgive and replace it with love. When someone is vastly different from me, I am able to see the world from their perspective, or at least let it go. I am no longer angry toward society or I have received a great deal of support from these institutions. I no longer believe that humanity is generally shallow. I have a renewed faith in and love for the human race. I am not saying that everything is perfect in the world. I know that there are numerous problems and a great deal that needs to change, but I do not believe that anger will change anything for the better. The only energy which can create great and lasting change is love. True, genuine, unconditional love and forgiveness towards everyone and all things. This is where our true power resides. My mother was right!

Also, by the way, I now have a few pairs of shoes ;)

Thank you Ben....I love you forever.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Match Made In Heaven....literally

Ben and I spent one year together. One year nearly to the day actually. We started talking in late April of 2011 and he passed in late April of 2012.

This was the most intense, life-changing, and happiest year of my life so far. It is difficult to explain to anyone why two people, who were so extremely different, fell into love so deeply. When asked "Why do you love him when your beliefs are so different?" I would respond "It's something deeper. Hard to explain. We are the same at our core." What I really wanted to say was that we were soul mates destined to be together...but that seemed a bit too Hollywood for me!

Now I ask the question 'Why'. Why would I be given such an amazing love only to have it taken away at its peak? Why did he exit this earth when I am carrying his child...that he wanted more than anything? Why did we finally reach a place of pure contentment only a week before he died? Why was I in another state when it happened? Why did I finally desire to grow old with someone and then have him taken so young? I can ask these questions day and night and find no answers. The real question is why, and how, were we brought together in the first place? I think the answer to this lies in another dimension.

Not long after we met Ben said to me, "I think my dad and your mom brought us together." I thought it a sweet notion, but didn't know whether to believe it. Now I do. I think that our parents got together in "heaven" and became matchmakers. His dad knew that Ben only had one year left to live and wanted to make sure he got what he wanted...a wife, a child, and a nice home. My mom knew that I needed to love and trust again. To be embraced and grounded by someone strong and honest. They knew we would be perfect for one another...challenge old beliefs, be eternally loyal, have fun together, learn how to compromise (which neither of us knew how to do previously), and love fully. They allowed us to meet and then sat back, smoked a bowl, and enjoyed the show!

I am so grateful to have known Ben and to have spent the last year of his life together. So incredibly honored to be carrying his child and his last name. He was an angel to me...changing my life forever. I will always love him and cherish our memories.

Love you fucker.