Browsing Tag

comfort

Grief, Guest Posts, Letting Go

The Seven Stages of Alone

July 23, 2017
alone

By Jenna Tico

Like most roads to hell, it is paved with vision boards. Watered with four-dollar wine, and the metaphorical blood of the men who have “wronged you.” There is at least one volume of sad poetry; probably bought on impulse while waiting in line at the bookstore, impossibly dense text in one hand (“I’ll finally have time to read Kafka!”) and a cheap spiral notebook in the other. Later, you will label this your “INTENTION JOURNAL,” and stare at it each night before going to bed; with every intention of cataloging your intentions, but instead, watching four hours of Lifetime original movies. Which like most roads to hell, are paved with vision boards.

Stage One: Shock

It’s a Nicholas Sparks world, and we’re all just buying tampons in it; and at some point, you probably meant to be here. You probably caught a movie (or twelve) that taught you that, to live the life of your dreams, you must have one of two things:

  1. an easily accessible window, should John Cusack arrive with a boombox, or
  2. a self-induced period of solitude in your twenties; preferably in a rent-controlled apartment; preferably one with exposed brick.

And at some point, the sea of boyfriends inevitably parts; in its place, their echoey chorus of “I’m just not ready” and the expanse of that which you always thought you thought you wanted: Alone. With no end in sight. A space that, while sanctioned by sitcom, remains exhaustingly absent from the cultural consensus on womanhood. Everyone tells you to spend time alone. No one seems to understand, nor believe, that you are.  That the beast of your life leading up to this point, every dream you had for the people you’d loved, has sunk its teeth into your apartment. Noticeably absent of exposed brick. Likely missing several essential qualities, such as street parking, and glue. Continue Reading…

Christmas, Family, Guest Posts

Tidings of Comfort and Joy.

December 25, 2014

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By Melodye Shore.

 

I swear to you, there are divine things more beautiful than words can tell.
–Walt Whitman
It was when our mutual friend Katrina Kenison introduced me to Amy VanEchaute’s blog, My Path With Stars Bestrewn, that the seeds of a friendship were planted. In a later entry, “While My Pretty One Sleeps,” Amy wrote a gorgeous tribute to her beloved Momma, who seemed to me the stuff of fairy tales. At once magical and ephemeral, Amy’s Momma reminded me of my sweet Nana—not mirror images, mind you, but similar in all the places where light exists and love makes itself manifest in the world.

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Amy’s Momma with Maymer, 1973

My Nana, early 1970s

My Nana, early 1970s

Though we are separated by distance—1,900 miles, more or less—my subsequent conversations with Amy brought us closer. Over time, I came to realize just how much we have in common. Our personalities are uniquely our own, but we approach the world with a shared sense of wide-eyed wonderment, are attuned to music about Mother Earth and her creations, and words that whisper to us the wisdom of Transcendentalists, matriarchs, and the Eternal All-knowing.

A few weeks ago, when Amy posted a picture of the Victorian-style wreath she’d created as a Christmastime homage to her mother, I wished aloud for a memorial spot where I could visit Nana. Amy expressed similar regrets about her own grandmother. As fate would have it, “Maymer” is buried in a cemetery less than nine (count ’em, 9!) miles from my house.

Right then I realized that we’d ventured into that serendipitous space where wishes are sometimes granted, the realm of possibility where you don’t dare blink, lest you miss all the fun and magic. “I’ll make her a wreath,” I heard myself say, “I’ll find Maymer’s grave and lay it there for you.”

Get this: I’d never made a wreath for a loved one before, much less a total stranger! So what? My inner voice asked. I answered the challenge by grabbing my car keys and heading to Michaels. Not for me, something purely decorative…I’d pull together thematic elements! The circular shape would speak of unity—the joining of hands across the miles, a warm embrace in absentia. And the sturdy evergreens would represent our grandmothers’ character: strong women who endured hard times without complaint, who embroidered the fanciful into the everyday, and who sowed seeds of grace in every word and deed.

 Behold! My first-ever homemade bow! See the tiny angel? She represents Maymer and Nana, spiritual giants of short stature. In the curve adjacent to the gilt-edged bow, I placed creamy white roses, as fair as our grandmothers’ porcelain complexions.


Behold! My first-ever homemade bow! See the tiny angel? She represents Maymer and Nana, spiritual giants of short stature. In the curve adjacent to the gilt-edged bow, I placed creamy white roses, as fair as our grandmothers’ porcelain complexions.

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Here and there, I scattered various gifts of earth and sky, to help illustrate the underlying meaning of this circle: Hope, that thing with feathers; pinecones that represent growth and renewal; a sprig of cedar that symbolizes strength and healing; holly that speaks of loving sacrifice; and twining ivy, to depict the precious memories that cling to the very fabric of our being.

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On these scrolls are written the songs of our heart: “Deep Peace” for Maymer, and “His Eye is on The Sparrow” for Nana. I tied them together with a tussie-mussie of forget-me-nots, tiny blue flowers that grew prolific in Maymer’s garden and inspired Amy’s momma to write this gorgeous haiku:

Like my mother’s eyes
Twinkling from the garden path
Blue forget-me-nots.
©Marjorie Neighbour, 1982

 I then clipped two candles on the upper right corner, humming as I placed them among the greenery: These little lights of ours, I’m gonna let ‘em shine… Sprigs of mistletoe are scattered at the base of the candles, for who deserves bunches of kisses more than a beloved grandmother?

I then clipped two candles on the upper right corner, humming as I placed them among the greenery: These little lights of ours, I’m gonna let ‘em shine… Sprigs of mistletoe are scattered at the base of the candles, for who deserves bunches of kisses more than a beloved grandmother?

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A chubby bird hovers mid-air, a shimmery gold confection that catches the sunlight with its feathers. Into its bosom, I tucked a pale pink rose from my backyard garden—a secret treasure of the sort that I suspect Nana and Maymer loved best. Over time the petals will fade and crumble, but as with our most cherished memories, their essence will remain.

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Here’s how my finished wreath looked, lovingly placed as it was near the cedar tree where Maymer rests.

136042_600I discovered nearby yet another wreath, created with bougainvillea flowers by Mother Nature herself! It’s a very unusual arrangement, which makes me wonder if I was meant to stumble upon it in my walk across the grounds. And just beyond the reach of my camera, a songbird flew from tree to tree, chirping when it landed but never lighting long enough for me to get a clear glimpse of it. Felt more than seen, it was identifiable only through the sweetness of its song. “Like the soul,” Amy suggests to me later.

Sunset at the cemetery.

Sunset at the cemetery.

This wreath is truly a gift of the heart and of this season. It honors the circle of life, a miracle with no beginning or end, and brings tidings of comfort and joy to both the giver and recipient. In the same way that the Winter Solstice turns back the dark by lengthening the days, this gift has swaddled us in warmth and light—new friends who feel as if we’ve known each other forever, pulled by our grandmothers into a wordless embrace that is nothing less than divine.

About Melodye Shore: I am an established writer and researcher whose work appears in a wide variety of published articles, newsletters, and educational materials. My personal essay, “Luz” is included in the Young Adult anthology, DEAR BULLY: 70 Authors Tell Their Stories (HarperTeen, 2011), and I’m a co-contributor to THE GIRL GUIDE: Finding Your Place in a Mixed-up World (Sourcebooks, Inc., 2013). An experienced public speaker, I’ve been quoted on a variety of topics in Time Magazine, the Christian Science Monitor, the Los Angeles Times, Sports Illustrated, USA Today, and other publications.

My current book project, CAN I GET A WITNESS? Memoir of a Tent Evangelist’s Daughter, chronicles an itinerant childhood during which my family crisscrossed the country in a cramped sedan, setting up revival meetings wherever we landed.

While I still enjoy traveling, I feel most at home in Southern California, where I live with my husband. In addition to writing, my interests include art journaling, photography, gardening, and plotting new adventures. Connect with me here.

Featured image courtesy of Robert S. Donovan.

Jen Pastiloff is the founder of The Manifest-Station. Join her in Tuscany for her annual Manifestation Retreat. Click the Tuscan hills above. No yoga experience required. Only requirement: Just be a human being.

Jen Pastiloff is the founder of The Manifest-Station. Join her in Tuscany for her annual Manifestation Retreat. Click the Tuscan hills above. No yoga experience required. Only requirement: Just be a human being.

VANCOUVER! The Manifestation Workshop in Vancouver. Jan 17th. Book here. No yoga experience required. Only requirement is to  be a human being.

VANCOUVER! The Manifestation Workshop in Vancouver. Jan 17th. Book here. No yoga experience required. Only requirement is to be a human being.

Contact Rachel Pastiloff for health coaching, weight loss, strategies, recipes, detoxes, cleanses or help getting off sugar. Click here or email rachyrachp@gmail.com.

Contact Rachel Pastiloff for health coaching, weight loss, strategies, recipes, detoxes, cleanses or help getting off sugar. Click here or email rachyrachp@gmail.com.

click to order Simplereminders new book.

click to order Simplereminders new book.

And So It Is, Delight, Inspiration

It’s Going To Be Okay.

May 19, 2013

This morning, someone tweeted the question “What words do you turn to for comfort?”

It’s going to be okay. Everything is going to be alright.

Those are my words. I couldn’t stop thinking them, even after I typed them in and sent them back to her through Twitter-land.

What words do you turn to for comfort? as if I am all alone, in a room, and these words are standing there with big, wide open, flabby arms. Here, now now, we’ve got you. Come here bubbeleh. It’s going to be okay. Everything is going to be alright. Hefty words. Jewish words that smell like grandmother. Like Bubby. Words like brisket and floral dresses and wet mouths. Words that love and coddle and reassure. Words with hard “k” sounds, the “ah” in alright a sound like God. Powerful, all knowing. This is just the way it is. It is going to be alright. And so it is. Words that know their purpose in the world and deem themselves valuable and worthy even as you tell them how untrue they are, how much of a lie they must be, how they stand in front of you with open arms knowing damn well that thing are not okay. How can everything be alright when it’s not? you may sob into their blubbery arms. And the hardness of their bodies softens into a trusty thing and comfort is there in the room with you, sitting on the corner in your old chair like it had been there all along.

You turn to it and nod knowing that it’s that easy, that all you have to do is find someone to speak those words, to embody that grandmotherly intuition and just like that: Comfort is back in the room, helping you breathe and tie your shoes and get on with your day.

I’m a big advocate of safety. I like to feel safe. I seek out situations and people and words that make me feel safe to a fault. I didn’t have to think about it at all. The words buried under my tongue like little hopefuls.

They are always there, waiting in the wings. It’s going to be okay. Don’t worry in my mouth, fraying in the back of my throat, choking in my spit. It’s going to be alright buried in my gums.

I brought it as a the theme to my yoga class this morning after I saw Harriet Seitler’s tweet. This idea of comfort and how we seek out solace wherever we can, even in things as temporal as language.

I asked the people in my class what some of their own words were that they turned to for comfort. Answers varied from I love you to You did great to the ones-I-couldn’t-hear-because- I-am-nearly-deaf, but the gist was the same as my set of words. My own personal grandmotherly set of words were the same grandmotherly set of words for so many others. So many grandmothers walking around in calf-lengths, telling us all that we shouldn’t worry, that we were safe, that it would all be okay in the end.

May we all remember such comfort I suggested to the class before they opened their eyes and got up, moving on with their Sunday Starbucks and chores and kids’ soccer games. May we all remember the grandmother on our shoulders.  

We think that we deserve this stress we carry like it’s our birthright. I don’t deserve to be happy. I don’t deserve to be comforted when there is so much pain in the world. We think that if we keep ourselves busy, that if we keep moving, keep clocking in and out, the pattern of days all we have to keep us afloat, that we will succumb to the truth.

And what is the truth? That nobody is happy? That everyone is in pain?

Well, yes. Maybe there is some truth in that.

But that’s not the whole story. You can take comfort in that knowing.

Yes, people are filled with so much pain. Spend some time with them and you’ll see. It’s everywhere, this pain. This yearning for comfort and looking for it in even the most unlikely of places. Looking for it through drink and sex and the internet.

Anywhere really.

People are also filled with so much love. Spend some time with them and you’ll see. They are dying to be touched and also this: to give their love away.

People: so complex and different and so very much the same. Just like the words we choose to comfort us. Our grandmotherly words all so different and all so similar in their old lady shoes and wrinkled hands.

Everyone wanting to be told: You did good. That it’s going to be okay after all. Despite it all. Because of it all.

You did good.

Go tell someone you love that you love them. That it’s going to be okay. Right now. Go ask someone how they are doing and wait for their answer there in the doorway even if they stumble on their words as their eyes well up with water. Go hug someone. Hold it a little longer than usual. This is how we chip away at the pain. This is how we fill ourselves up with love.

Those words you turn to for comfort exist inside that place of love and they shift when you enter it. You may have thought they were one thing until you love so fully and find out that they were only in disguise. That they weren’t what you thought they were after all. They weren’t a grandmother in a floral dress. That they weren’t loud or big. They were soft, a whisper-like soundtrack, barely audible by human ears. Perhaps only audible by touch.

What the words speak: You are exactly where you need to be. They say things like It’s not going to be okay. It is okay. 

They stop speaking in future tenses. They exist only in the here.

I am a poet. I love words and the carnival of sound they create in the mind and how they etch a place in my imagination I can escape to when I am lonely or happy. Or when I feel nothing.

Words are powerful and I do believe that the ones that bring us great comfort should be duly noted, tattooed in our minds as needed.

However, they will change as we change. As we grow into adult versions of ourselves (as if that ever happens) the words we look to for comfort might fall away like old cells and although we might vaguely remember them like we vaguely remember our seven year old faces, we know that it’s no longer us. If we reach up and touch our cheeks we feel a roughness that wasn’t there at age seven. Our noses are bigger. We don’t break or stop working because we’ve lost parts of ourselves.

We don’t need those cells anymore to move our blood along, to wake up in the morning and make the coffee. We’ve made new cells. We’ve regenerated.

Touch your cheek and remember how it feels because when you are very very old, say, as old as your grandmother, your cheek will feel different than it does right now and perhaps that will bring you some comfort. This great big life you’ve led and how your face is weathered but the love! The love you’ve brushed up against with this cheek is worth every word in the world.

We might look back at the words that used to bring us comfort and shake our heads knowingly at them like someone we once loved asking to come back again. We have the wherewithal to know that the last time we let them come back they hadn’t changed, that things were exactly the same as they always had been and that the farthest thing we’d felt was “comfort”. Comfort was a mile away at all times. So we know this and look past the set of words that used to bring us comfort and accept that although we are not perfect, we have grown and what once made us feel safe as houses, no longer does.

All the words that you look for in your bedrooms and grandmothers and old chairs are simply a reminder of that feeling of safety. The thing is, if you ask me, comfort is all around.

Look, love is everywhere.

Look love, it’s everywhere.

Look everywhere, it’s love.

However you word it, it is. It’s going to be okay.

 

poster by Simplereminders.com

poster by Simplereminders.com

 

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