The Mockingbird Sings

When I died I got to see my life, first through my own point of view, then through the effects my thoughts, deeds, actions, words and every other thing had on others.  I felt the pain I caused.  I felt the joy too.  I felt the worry, the anger, the jealousy, the love, the longing… I felt it all.  In death there was no judgment but this.  This was enough.

Harper Lee is doing this right now.  She is feeling the effects that her life and her words have had on generations of people.  Tucked in there, among the throngs of others, are mine.  I wonder how she feels to experience how she made us all feel.

The first time I read To Kill a Mockingbird I was 12 years old.  I cried tears of rage and frustration over racism, hitting home for me for the first time.  My life changed the day I opened that book.  I began an innocent, not much older than Scout.  The words wove their spell and as the story unfolded I found my core of righteousness, an understanding that I would forever be like Jeb, standing between Atticus and the mob.

I read it again at 22.  The soft, gentle southern charms of Atticus stuck with me that time.  I aimed to find my own version of such a man as he.  I did find him… eventually.  Kindness, gentleness, never boasting, my American Husband is my Atticus, continuing the legacy of quiet strength.

At 34 I read it while I was pregnant with my daughter.  It taught me about being a little girl again.  And it taught me about being a parent.  The beauty of the words mingled with my hormones, making me weep ragged tears.

My well worn paperback helped me through some dark days, in my mid 40’s.  The soothing cadence, the sweet song of the children’s voices, and the discovery of Boo again reminded me that there is always someone hiding just out of sight, helping and protecting me through this life.

Harper Lee created a tapestry of words, a delicate arch connecting me with myself, through 5 decades.  I picked it up again today, just as Spring is promised with the song of the birds outside my window.  My heart is filled with gratitude for this woman.  Her words defined my evolution.  As she feels the effects of each ripple she has had on humanity, I know my thanks will be added to the millions.

“When he was nearly thirteen, my brother Jem got his arm badly broken at the elbow…”

And so it begins again, for the first time.

Thank You For Being a Friend

Thank you for being a friend… The first lines of the theme music for Golden Girls. I used to watch the show occasionally, enjoying the sassy banter and cutting edge humor coming from the sweet old ladies. Just the other day I realized something unsettling. When the show premiered, one of the GGs was younger than I am right now.

*gasp*

The others were older of course, by at least 10 years, but not Blanche. When I realized this, I spent some time hyperventilating, but after calming down I did take comfort in the fact that Blanche was a sexy beast.

The show was popular for a lot of reasons, but for me the most important appeal was the relationships between the women. Adult friendship, simple and complex, becomes more and more important as we grow into our golden years (which are still DECADES away, of course, but I like to plan ahead). Our kids grow up and fly the nest, making lives of their own. Our spouse, if we are lucky, can be one of our closest friends. But it is that intricate, beautiful coming together of fabulous women that fills me up and makes my heart sing.

Setting the clear intention last year to find likeminded friends, I realized the other night, as I ate deep fried pickles and drank beer with my “knitting” club, that my wishes had been fulfilled, and beyond my wildest dreams. My life has become rich and abundant with friends. Beautiful women gathering to laugh and talk, cry and hug, love and accept each other unconditionally. It is with our friends that we can drop the roles we play: Mom, Wife, Employee, Daughter… and simply be who we are.

I have been told that it is more difficult to make friends as we get older. A year ago I would have agreed with that statement. Today I would beg to differ. There are so many of us who are hoping to find each other. We just need to know where to look. Here are a few tricks I have learned along the way:

  1. Begin by saying yes. If you are invited anywhere to do anything, instead of caving to the lure of the sweatpants, Netflix and no bra, get dressed and go do the thing that you are invited to do. Put the effort to show up. Proximity is a breeding ground for friendships.
  2. Join stuff. Volunteer, sign up for a painting class, go to yoga, join a book club. There is a lot going on in every community. Put yourself out there and join things. You will meet so many new and interesting people that there are bound to be some kindred souls just waiting to be discovered.
  3. Step out of your comfort zone. Reach out to others. Invite someone for coffee. Go audition for community theatre. By being brave and stepping outside of the comfort zone, we are showing the Universe that we are making a concerted effort to create what we hope to see. The Universe is really great at meeting us more than half way. Taking steps in the direction of what we want always sets things in motion.
  4. Smile. You are beautiful when you smile. People are attracted to your gorgeous energy. By smiling you turn on your inner light so that others can really see you. Know that everything you are imagining is on its way to you now, so you have a very good reason to smile.

I love each circle of friends that I have. My book club, where we drink wine and rarely talk about books. My spiritual gang of fabulous, awakening souls. The Knitters who sometimes even remember to bring something to knit. The theatre types who bond so tightly during productions we feel like family. Old friends who have seen me through so many years of triumphs, tragedies and change. New friends who spend hours discovering each other’s stories. We cherish one another and shine brighter because we are together. Maybe we really are … the Golden Girls.

We’ve travelled down the road and back again. Your heart is true you’re a pal and a confidant.

Thank you for being a friend.

 

Cool feature image created by http://mcillustrator.deviantart.com/art/golden-girls-167641303

Lyrics quoted are from Andrew Gold’s Thank you for Being a Friend

My Message from Wayne

I haven’t shared this recording with many people until now.  It happened a few years ago and I know a lot of you have read about this experience.  I felt compelled to share this message that I saved… this is the first time I heard from Dr. Wayne Dyer.

It holds such a special place in my memory, and I hope it brings some joy for all of you to hear his voice again.  <3

Wayne

Angels of Another Kind

WyattJoJo33

When the ones we love leave us for a time and wait on the other side of the veil, I wonder…. If they could come back for a visit, maybe a dozen years long, wrapped up in fur and unconditional love, wouldn’t they do that very thing?

 Wouldn’t they sit on our laps and patiently wait for our attention?

 Wouldn’t they love us unconditionally and bring comfort when we need it most.

 And don’t you think, the ones we love might want to frolic and play with us, with greater abandon than they could while walking on two feet.

We sometimes recognize them when we see them.  The softness in their gaze and the remembered embrace, it reaches out to us and we fall instantly in love.  We don’t need words or long explanations.  We just need to spend a little more time together before we can spend eternity.

The Love Revolution

loverevolution

“There’s a new world somewhere, they call the promised land”.  These words have echoed in my mind, unbidden, on many occasions in the past few years like some echoed message from the ethers, always making me just stand up and pay attention.   I am not one to latch onto the movement that is afoot that talks about the coming Ascension, DNA activation, Galactic councils or 5th Dimension stuff.  This is not to say these things are not real, just that they are not resonating with me at this point.  Who knows… tomorrow I may wake up with a whole new understanding about the situation, but for now I can only go by what my own experience has brought me.

There is a shift happening.  Most definitely. I have no label for it, but here is what I am experiencing as the times change.   I see archaic systems of government and business begin to exhibit greater and greater nastiness, ultimately to crumble.  On a personal level I feel it in the way time sometimes seems to jump, past present future all balled up into one.  I find myself having waves of sheer euphoria and connection and then on the opposite end of the spectrum, waves of desperation and fear.  It feels like all of the old ego based stuff is bubbling to the surface so that it can finally be evicted for good.  Relationships that have reached their expiry date are falling away with little or no effort.  New relationships are forming with people who seem to have like minds and spirits.   It is all very subtle, and yet not so subtle and it seems that once I turn my attention to what is happening it comes much more clearly into focus.

It appears to me that the earth is making the shift from fear into love.  We are nearly at critical mass where we reach that perfect Tipping Point and humanity will be brought into a new paradigm where love, integrity, authenticity and compassion are the norm and fear, greed, competition and avarice are left behind.  Sounds idyllic, don’t you think?  Spiritual teacher Matt Kahn calls it the Love Revolution, and while I am usually not much into labels, this one is pretty awesome, so I am just going to go ahead and borrow it.  Thanks Matt!

The Love Revolution begins with such simple steps.  We start to hold kindness and compassion in our hearts instead of judgment and fear.  Our words fall like gentle rain, they don’t resound like thunder.  We realize how important it is to love ourselves first, and that love becomes the message we bring to the world.  After awhile we notice that our energetic vibrations become the ones that uplift an entire room when we walk in.  People are suddenly drawn to us and want to be near, though they don’t know why.

And then things begin to occur to us.  Things like, Wow this is a mighty big waste of sweet Mother Earth putting all of this lawn here.  What say we dig that up and plant some seeds and grow some food.  That way we get good, organic food to eat plus we stop wasting water on growing grass and stop supporting the senseless shipping of food from places so very far away.  A local economy begins to make so much sense to us, and wait just one minute! Let’s stick some solar panels on the roof and see if we can’t begin to get off this nasty fossil fuel energy grid.

Tell me the truth.  Am I turning into a hippy?

Yeah.  I thought so.

We all chose to come to earth at this most interesting time in our evolution as humans.  We are spiritual beings having a human experience and we are waking up to this fact in droves.  And as we awaken we begin to remember that we are all connected and that collaboration and cooperation are the only things that make sense.  Competition becomes irrelevant as we follow our hearts and are guided to compassion and kindness.  We begin to be led by the workings of our hearts and not by the thinking of our minds.  And as we shift  our perception, this new energy joins with the great invisible grid of connection that we are all plugged into and we elevate the hearts of everyone else.

If the only thing you do in a day is to follow your own joy, then understand that you have done enough.  Your role can be as easy as that. Or if you really want to join in the fun, just simply reach your hand out and see who needs to grasp it.  There will always be someone reaching back.

Just ask Tom Springfield and The Seekers.

There’s a new world somewhere
They call The Promised Land
And I’ll be there some day
If you will hold my hand
I still need you there beside me
No matter what I do
For I know I’ll never find another you

It is a Love Revolution, baby! Let’s Dance!

A Spiritual Feast

hogwarts

In my quest for the Truth, I sample from the dishes presented, finding tastes of wisdom along the way.  Each new flavor adds layers to my experience.  With each new bite I find myself closer to satisfied but always aware that the banquet is endless.  I feast with my senses and keep only those wonders that leave a good taste behind.

By and By, Lord

My Grandma was a cool old bird. She told stories, laughed easily and heartily, was a terrible cook but a gifted quilter. She played piano by ear and all we would have to do was hum a few bars and she would pick it up right away. We would sing along for hours and she never seemed to get tired. She took us camping and taught us to play cribbage. She was a terrible gossip but mixed names up so much that it was a harmless pursuit, as nobody knew who had done what to whom after she’d mixed things up so badly. She was joyful and full of life. She devoured Harlequin Romances, sometimes reading 2 or 3 in a day, and would tell me all of the juicy bits, whispering with scandalized glee.

I had the privilege, in my early 20s to look after Grandma while my grandfather was in the hospital recovering from a heart attack. Grandma had heart troubles of her own, so leaving her alone was not an option. At the time I doubt I would have called it a “privilege”. It was summer and all of my friends were back home from University. There were parties and celebrations, beach days and all manner of shenanigans, and there I was on the other side of the province, taking care of my grandmother. But I loved her, and my grandfather had asked. I would never even consider saying no to such a kind, generous and loving man. He was my hero, after all.

Our days were simple. They would start with me waking up, usually around 8 am. As a young adult my preference would have been to sleep until past noon, but each day, as the birds began to sing, Grandma would wander into my room, sit on the side of my bed and start talking. She would talk and talk and keep on talking until I would finally open my eyes and rise for the day ahead.

After eating our breakfast she would have me set her hair in pin curls, preparing for our daily visit to see Grandpa. Even after more than 50 years of marriage she still wanted to look her best before seeing him, making sure her lipstick was straight, her Evening In Paris perfume dabbed on each wrist and behind each ear, and her shiny polyester dress was tidy.

One day as I was winding her white hair into tiny curls, Grandma told me something that has had a lasting and profound effect on my life. She told me that as she had gotten older, as her peers had passed on she had reached a point in her life when nobody called her by her given name anymore. She was “mom”, “grandma”, “Mrs. Burley”… and even Grandpa called her “Mother”. She said it so matter-of-factly, as if she were mentioning that she’d given some old coats to the Thrift Store.

I was appalled! How could something like that happen? To my young, burgeoning feminist ways it seemed as if her true identity had been washed away, leaving only the masks she wore. I couldn’t imagine living my life where nobody actually saw the real me. I swore to myself then and there that I would never let that happen to me.

I am older now and my understanding is deeper. I answer to “mom” and “mrs”, “ma-am” and “aunty”. No “grandma” yet, (which is good because my girl is only 17. I am more than willing to wait for that honor). My husband calls me “Sweetie” and has only ever called me by my given name when speaking of me to another person.

But I am still most certainly, Brenda. You see I have discovered the secret to keeping in touch with the very essence of who I am, outside of the roles I play. The real Me, who was born during youthful slumber parties, who once went skinny dipping in Cottonwood River with my best friends, who remembers falling in love for the first time then having my heart broken… Real, open, funny, vulnerable, feisty and crazy Brenda, has been kept alive and well. It’s been pretty simple, really, to keep in touch with that crazy chick. Here’s my secret:

I have girlfriends. A whole great big circle of them.

I have some I share all my dreams with. I have a few who are as crazy and weird as I am. There are friends I’ve known for decades, yet never met face to face. Some friends share my passion for reading and we talk for hours about the books we love as if they are beloved children. I have my foodie friends and we love to share our passion for all things delicious and juicy. I have friends who lean on me. And I have friends I lean on. We tell each other secrets and then we keep them. We get together in groups, or pairs to laugh and to cry, to hold each other up and keep each other from falling. We celebrate each other’s successes and soothe each other’s disappointments. We are always on each other’s side and we will gladly hate each other’s enemies. We tell each other that we are the best singer/dancer/juggler in the world, even when our talents are questionable. We sing each other’s praises and as our nests empty we teach each other how to fly.

We are a circle so strong and vast and magical that we will ever be unbroken.   My girlfriends, who have seen all of the facets of who I am and love me anyways, I keep them close and cherish each one, for I know that to be truly seen as only our friends can see us is a gift.

And by and by, when time disappears and we are able to reach across the veil, my grandmother will join us. We will open our circle and our arms to embrace her and sing out together: “Welcome, Hazel”!