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A Hike in the Woods

It is Father’s Day, and it is not a day to sit around the house. Just because my father is gone does not mean I have to mope. So I went up to my favorite hiking place – Amacalola Falls. It was the perfect day for to be out in the woods, where I feel centered and safe.

The woods has always had that affect on me, which is why I hike when needing to clear my thoughts and heart. And there has been a lot to think about lately. The hiking trails were filled with families and a lot of kids. And father’s with their sons or daughters.

I miss having a family and I’m struggling to find my purpose not having one. For almost 10 years my life revolved around taking care of them. And I think not having a purpose is making easy prey for those do not have my best interest at heart. And when you’re searching we can easily find the wrong way.

And so I prayed to God at this beautiful waterfall. He made this beautiful place, these beautiful rocks, and with the beautiful water, on this beautiful planet. Surely He can help me find a purpose.

And then I talked to a friend of mine, who is in a similar place. And she reminded me not to come from this from a place of loss, but from a place of abundance. What does that mean?

That means stop coming from a place of stress. Instead of saying I have no purpose and I have to hurry up and find my purpose, why not recognize that my purpose will come to me? If I calm myself and relax I can free my mind and my emotions up for the what good is coming to me. There’s no rush, there’s no hurry. This isn’t the Life’s Purpose Olympics where somebody a golf medal for coming in first. There’s no time limit. I can slow down, and I can take my time, and I can let life unfold to me in it’s time and be open to what life shows me my purpose should be

And I want a purpose it’s meaningful and fulfilling, where I can help others and there’s something larger for myself, but doesn’t completely deplete me of all time, and energy, and resources. I want a purpose gives energy, and love, and meaning. I want a purpose that generates energy and recharges my spirit. This whole notion where we have to give to the point of depletion is a fallacy. We should be able to have a meaningful life without at sucking life out of us. There’s no Romanticism in being a martyr to the point of self-destruction.

Big changes are coming, because I am relaxing and praying and being centered. I am letting life show me what it wants me to see, and going with the current for once Yes, I believe in making the life you want, but you also cannot force it. I am figuring out the next, so I will relax and enjoy the now.

I will no longer stress because I don’t have it figured out. Instead I will focus in on me, and be centered. I will laugh and have fun. I will travel a bit, and clean a bit and work a bit and and pray a lot, and have faith a lot and love a lot. And in that, purpose will come.

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The Sob in the Process

Life is basically a mixed bag of whatever it is you get. there will be the good, and and the ugly and everything in between. As a whole, life is good. I have a great job in a great career, I have the best friends in the world, I have a roof over my head, and am reasonably happy.

But the last few weeks have been especially hard. And that is the thing about life, it is cyclical. I remember reading a book called The Prophet when I was 19. It changed my life. It was rich in truth and perspective. It challenged me and made me think in a way that I had never before. And in that book there was a passage about joy and sorrow:

Your joy is your sorrow unmasked.
And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises was oftentimes filled with your tears.
And how else can it be?
The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain. Verily you are suspended like scales between your sorrow and your joy. 
Only when you are empty are you at standstill and balanced. 
When the reassure-keeper lifts you to weigh his gold and his silver, needs must your joy or your sorrow rise or fall.

There is an urban rumor in this world that you are never supposed to be sad, or depressed, or angry, or melancholy, or anything other than positive and happy. There is a myth that these feelings are wrong and that there is something wrong with us if we do feel these emotions, because of the law of attraction…and of course we attract what we feel and where we are emotionally, right? WRONG.

You must feel those emotions in order to work through them in a healthy way and to get to what is waiting on the other side. If we do not allow ourselves to feel our feelings, even those that we perceive to be negative, then we will not work through the process and we will end up emotionally muted and unable to grow. If we do not deal with those negative emotions then they will cause us to be bitter. Whoever said we are not ever supposed to be uncomfortable in any way in life, or that we must get rid of negative emotions immediately was probably emotionally stunted himself.

And I will never allow myself to be a bitter shell of a human being. So, I have been crying, actually I have been sobbing to get all of he pain out. The last few weeks has been excruciating. And I live alone. So I must grieve alone, which is exhausting. Grief is exhausting enough, but to do it alone is exceptionally tiring.

So last night, I grabbed my biggest stuffed animal Ricky, sat on my bed, held him tightly as all the pain poured out of my eyes onto my cheeks. I buried my face in his soft polyester fur and let out audible sobs, barely able to breath at a few points. Time stood still as i just cried and cried. I have been through three family deaths and the death of three friends…alone. By now I should be a pro at this, but I am not.

The latest death has brought up all the pain of the last. A grief counselor suggested I have PTSD from my parents death, and all the events before and after. Indeed, you can have it from physical attacks, war, or extremely emotionally traumatic events. And if that is the case, the latest death and all the ugliness surrounding it has been a trigger. And so I must process and deal with it.

And one day, maybe I will have a partner with whom I can share this burden. Because it is hard to handle all of the bad by ones self, and being strong is exhausting. And then I can also share all the wonderful things too. I look forward to that day, I look forward to not having to shoulder all of my world alone. It is a heavy load.

Until then, I turn up the music to drown out the sobs, grab Ricky and cry my heart out. Actually cry the pain out. I look forward to the day that there are no tears. I look forward to truly being able to live in joy once more. It is coming…

Where the Magic Happens

Home is where it happens. All the magic of life and family.  And this year I am counting on that magic to add to the wonderfulness of the holiday season.  This year I am hosting the family for Thanksgiving.  We all have our firsts in life, and this is one of mine.

To some this may not seem like a big deal, but to my large and very eclectic family its pretty big.  This is the first year that my parents are healthy and not suffering from cancer.  And this year everyone is in close proximity.  This is also probably the last year my nephews will be local. My oldest nephew is graduating college next month and who knows where he will end up.  The other two are going to school and working as well, but they all have off for the holidays this year.

It is the first time that the family will be gathering at my house.  In the past, we have all made it to our parents house.  But they are getting older and it is a lot of work for them to do all the cooking, cleaning and general preparation for such a family event.  I am hoping that it is a success, that everyone has a good time, even though it will be quite the adventure.  To understand the overtures of this undertaking, let me explain:

My parents are quite set in their ways.  They are great, wonderful, honest, hard working, loyal people.  But they can be extremely difficult to please.  And they both cannot be happy and comfortable at the same time.  You will go crazy trying to make that happen, trust this, I know. I have actually told them to choose each day of the visit who gets to be happy and comfortable, that way there is not constant complaining.  It works.

In the past visits, there have been complaints that the house is too cold (Dad likes the temp at 84-86), too hot (Mom likes it between 74-76) and neither of them like ANY air circulation, so no fans or such. The food is too spicy or too bland. And I live out in Egypt, s where I live is too far, from everything (I actually have the same complaint).

My mother smokes, but she hates smoking outside, mainly because it’s cold in the winter and she doesn’t like to be cold.  Once, in the House of Mold, she smoked on the screened-in-porch. When she got cold she insisted I bring her the warmest coat I owned…which happened to be a mink coat.  So there she is, sitting out in a screened-in-porch, in her pink fuzzy warm house slippers….smoking….in a mink coat. I would have taken a picture if I had not feared death. So I have set up a wonderful sitting area in the garage…along with 2 large, large room heaters, that each one would heat the small garage for most. There will be tables, chairs and a soft couch from which to choose.

My father, on his last visit, complained that he felt some small amount of air moving across his face. This air was coming from a closed air vent in his bedroom that was very suspect.  The threatened to sleep in the garage.  Instead I fixed a separate place for him upstairs in my office.  This time the bed in his room will be moved far away from that evil vent, thus avoiding the problem altogether.

Add to the mix my wonderful sister and her 2 sons.  Nothing much will happen with any of them, as they will be face-deep in their phones.  I will have to make a rule that there are no electronic devices at the table. My sister and Dad do speak the same language, sometimes I swear they have the same brain even. My youngest nephew smokes as well, so he will be in the garage with his grandmother, while we will try to keep the oldest from getting into a political discussion with my mother.  Liberal college kid views do not go over well with her  conservative mindset, and he is too young to be able to keep up with her quick wit (not kidding). I would prefer to save the fireworks for July 4th.

And everyone loves coffee. And wine. And food in general. And we can all gather next to the warm fireplace, when we are not out in the garage, hanging out with the smokers.  Or decorating the Christmas. Or asleep in our food comas.

And this weekend will be the flurry of getting the last bit ready…the deep cleaning (but not too deep, because my mother will need something to clean while she visits).  There will be dusting of things and cleaning of baseboards. Vacuuming, sweeping and mopping.  The cupboards are full of snacks and such, the throw blankets and sheets have all been swashed and are fresh and soft. There is music that has been picked out for the occasion.  It may be hard but it will be worth it.  Much laughter, love, great moments, memories and pictures.  And I will hug them just a little bit tighter, just a little bit longer.  This year, a year of so many wonderful things in our lives, and so many miracles.  And so much heartbreak and terror in the world.  Nothing like watching the news to make you hold your loves ones just a little closer.

And in those hugs, those moment and those memories, that is where the magic happens.

Childlike

I swam in the ocean and played like a child. I did back flips, hand stands and the back stroke. I let the current of the ocean carry me as I floated on the surface. I swam underwater, like a fish, seeing how long I could hd my breath before coming up to the surface for that first gasp of air when my lungs felt like they are going to burst. There was an excitement, an innocents that coursed through my veins as I felt the water against my skin.

At first the water was almost too cold, but then as my body adjusted tot he temperature, it felt refreshing and I was energized. The entire sea in front of me, with all the mystery it holds. All it’s secrets being whispered to me in the currents.

It had been almost two years since I swam in the ocean. Almost two years since I did back flips and let the water carry me. And it was wonderful.

It makes you appreciate the cool fresh salty air of the sea. And to feel the soft breeze across my damp face was pure heaven. And I saw God, in the sea, int he sky, in the everything of the moment. And I knew He had me in his hands and that all was well in my world.

There were hot Krispy Kreme donuts in bed, melting in my mouth from the first bite to the last. There was laughter, wine and dancing. There was the innocence and playfulness of a child. It was freedom.

Your Guts and Your Gums

We all have those doctor’s appointments we wish we could skip. Not many things make me cringe as much as going to the dentist. Even my annual lady’s appointment is a walk in the park compared to the dentist for me. My teeth are extremely sensitive and I just about nearly come up out of the chair when they try to clean my teeth and go poking around. The dentist is the worst doctor’s appointment ever – of course I say that before having had my first mammogram (coming up next month), so I reserve the right to change that statement at a later date.

I can take the optometrist poking me and blowing puffs of air in my eye – no problem. The gynecologist and his partner in crime, the speculum – piece of cake.  The endocrinologist sticking me with needles to get blood samples is fine. The cardiologist and those sticky EKG thingies…But put me in a dentist’s  chair and I freak out a bit. My mouth gets dry and my palms get sweaty.

And this morning I had my first dental appointment in many years (let’s not say just how long…). I had a bad feeling from the moment I walked in, but just that it was me being anxious. I got into the chair and told them to put me on the gas.

And then the bomb was dropped.

They didn’t have the gas. WHAT?!? What kind of dentist does not have the gas? The gas is the best part of the appointment and the only thing that keeps me in the chair and not running out of the office screaming.

This was not good news.  A dentist visit with no gas? Nothing to dull the pain of them poking, picking, pulling, pounding, sucking and pushing?? I tried to swallow but my mouth was too dry. My mind was racing and my heart was bouncing between my throat and my stomach. I knew I was in trouble when the technician looks at me and says, “When this hurts, just remember I am not being mean, it just may be uncomfortable. “

Excuse me? I laughed nervously and barely was able to say that that statement was not very re-assuring.

Why the heck would you say that to someone who is visible about to fall apart in the chair?????

After about 30 x-rays, chomping down on whatever-thing-that’s-way-too-big-for-my-mouth, it was time for the dentist. She steps in and I realized that I really had to pee.

After a brief discussion about how long it had been since my last visit (all of the sudden I felt very Catholic, and like I was saying how long it had been since confession). After a bit of poking she announced just how bad my teeth were and proceeded to try to sell me all kinds of procedures. Not just your garden variety root canal either…I mean the high dollar stuff. It’s been a while since my last visit, but I do know I have good teeth and do not need $25,000 worth of dental stuff. If they want patients to agree to such things, they really need to have the gas.

Needless to say I got out of there as fast as my non-nitrosed bum could go. I just had a bad feeling about it from the start, and when I checked them online  – which I should have done before hand – they were known for “selling” their services when not needed. They have many complaints against them.

And now…I have an appointment at a reputable dentist, who does sedation dentistry. I go in, I go to sleep, I wake up and it’s all done. Shame we can’t have all of our doctor’s appointments like that.

The moral of the story? Always trust your gut feeling, whether it’s about a dentist, a date, a job, a co-worker, whatever. Your guts are good to you. That little voice that warns you of those red flags…listen to it.

Now, excuse me while I pass the gas mask…

Falling for the Weekend

It is Fall here in the south. The weather is turning cooler, with the highs in the low 80’s and high 70’s. At night the air is crisp and cool, promising the cold of the winter to come. In a word, it is delicious. I love this time of year. The air-conditioning gets turned off and the windows or up at night, as the cooler temperatures makes sleeping under a warm blanket a wonderful experience…until you try to get out of bed the next morning. Car rides have the windows down and the radio up, as the cool fall air mixes with  the warm sun to make the perfect recipe for road trip.

The fall festivals have already started, and the leaves are beginning to turn colors. The air is light and fresh, as  are the spirits of those around. Yes, it is fall, yummy, cool, promising, busy and fun. This weekend was a great taste of what is to come.

Family is a big part of my life. My youngest nephew came up with his girlfriend to explore and go to see a concert. Leaving us boring adults behind, they went shopping, eating, concert going and had much fun just being together. But I suspect we boring old people had much more fun.

Friday night were “crack tots” and beer with friends. Crack tots, true to their name, are highly addictive. You cannot just have one of these delicious tots dipped in equally addictive cheese sauce.  Thank goodness they have no calories either (at least that is what I tell myself as I devour them). Later that night my nephew and his girlfriend arrived, and there was much laughter and love.

Saturday was crazy busy, as once again the two lovebirds went out looking for cool things to do in Atlanta. Breakfast was cooked, more laughter and lots of activity around the Burch household. Then it was time for the adults to play, as we planned a fun time downtown. A friend of mine has a brother who bought a favorite bar, so we went down for the celebration. And we celebrated a lot. There were hugs of friend that I had not seen for a=years, laughter, catching up, eating and drinking. There was great live music, an old bank vault filled with everything Elvis, dancing and lots of Johnny Cash. There were pictures and smiles, and of course, several times I nearly tripped.

Sunday brought about sleeping late, brunching and lots of laughter and love

And I have to say that I am falling in love…with this season, and these weekends, and my family, and this time, these moments, in life. I am falling for Fall. And it is wonderfully delicious!