The Search

Of everything
There is so much more than a name
There is so much more than an age
There is so much more than what you see
There is so much more beyond me


Monday, November 17, 2008

The Treasure Hunter

“The treasure hunter” dug until his fingers were raw and bleeding, he had given up his home, his faith, his family, any enjoyments he once had, and most of his life. He had heard that in a particular location there were treasures buried deeply that could make him a rich man for the rest of his life. He had spent years going after it, only to be discouraged again and again.

He dug and scratched below him constantly, pushing aside piles of waste on his way to the treasure. The first layer he had removed only gave him clues to what else may lay beneath, so after removing that first layer, he continued digging. The next layer held nothing, but he had to keep on….layer after layer, then another and another. His heart told him he was getting closer to uncovering the secret treasure, and he was not about to give up…. The days passed and he went furiously deeper and deeper. At one point he discovered side tunnels… Turning to one of them he reached a dead end, he had discovered nothing and it had only used up his time. Taking another one, it led to dangers he was not expecting, and almost collapsed the main tunnel, so he quickly turned away from that and went back to the first hole, digging downward, deeper and deeper again, creating a mountain of removed waste beside him.

After many years, and layer after layer, he reached yet another layer and he found one jewel! He was sure there would be more if only he could keep digging. He threw that one aside and sure enough, another layer revealed another jewel, beneath that was another jewel, but why only one jewel on each layer? He continued to dig, and kept finding a jewel here and there. One after another, he threw each one aside and kept digging. Where was the whole treasure chest? His time and efforts would be worth nothing unless he had it all. He learned much while digging, he learned better ways and discovered better tools and better technics. He was the best digger in the area.

He noticed others digging around him also. Some had a lot of help; some had hardly any tools and no sustenance to dig very fast or very far. A lot of them did not have the resources he had. Usually they stopped early and left. Some returned to dig a few more days, then leave again. He did not appreciate their apparent lack of commitment. If they were happy with what they had, fine. He was not, and he would not stop until he had found the whole chest.

Finally he struck a barrier he could not move….he tried going around it and could not find the end. He tried using different tools and still he could not penetrate it. It was time to come to grips with the fact that he may never find the treasure, he could go no further. His tools were wearing out, he had nothing else left in his life to turn to.

However; he did have some options remaining, …..He could ask for help, but then he would have to expose his technics, it would cost him a lot, and he would have to share the treasure when he found it. He could just set and wait, and maybe eventually the answers and the next move would come to him, or he could keep digging. It was not in him to just quit. He had survived untold hardships over the years, hardships that would put a lesser man down and he was not about to stop now.

One day another man, who I will call “the discoverer”, came along and found the treasure hunter’s body lying beside the hole and the mountain of layers he had removed over the years. The treasure hunter had died while scratching at the surface with his fingernails for what he believed to be the final barrier keeping him from the treasure. Since all of his tools had worn out and he could not afford more or come up with any other ideas, his fingers were all he had left to dig with.

The discoverer leaned over and picked up a tiny jewel… He checked it all over for any clues as to where it might have came from, or if it held any inscriptions, and what it’s worth might be. The discoverer stuck it in his pocket an walked away……

A couple of years later, the discoverer found the jewel in a drawer where he had thrown it when he returned home. He took it out, turned it over in his hand, and remembered back to the treasure hunter and wondered again what the significance of the tiny jewel might be, and decided to return to the treasure hunter’s location.

When he arrived on the site of the dig, he took time to search the surface of the ground around the hole very closely.  With each movement, he noticed another tiny jewel, and then another, and another. They were no larger than a grain of sand, but they were jewels! He begin to sort through the mountain of loose dirt the treasurer hunter had created by his digging, and tiny jewel after tiny jewel begin to appear. By the end of the day, he had a sack full…..by the end of the week, he had a truck load, by the end of the month, he had so many jewels he was indeed a rich man. Some of the jewels had been dug up and tossed aside many years before and had gone unnoticed for decades. A few of the jewels were newly discovered, but had been covered with just a thin layer of dirt hiding their glistening worth.  Indeed, they had come from the treasure hunter’s digging, but tossed aside as he was going after the “whole chest” that lay at the bottom.

The discoverer was amazed as he started to tally up what he had found. It totaled more riches than he ever imagined he would have! He stood in awe at the wealth before him.

As he surveyed the scene around him, he thought if the treasure hunter had only stopped and counted how much he had found along the way, he would have been able to afford some help or new tools! If he had counted up how much he had before he started and those which he had already found, but overlooked in his furry and desperation for more, he would have realized that no chest full could have held as much. If he had looked around at others who were also digging nearby, he would have seen how thankful they were to have found one jewel, and how it had improved their lives a great deal from what they had before. By counting their blessings, and the jewels they had already found, they were able to keep digging at a slower pace, fully appreciate each layer's treasures, and enjoy life while they continued. If the treasure hunter had taken time to look at what he had, congratulated himself on surviving all that he had been through, and appreciated each layer he uncovered to it's utmost, it would have made whatever he was going after, much less important.   The treasure chest is not always what holds the most, there is always so much more to discover along the way.   To survive one more layer is nothing if we don't savor each of it's lessons.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Birthdays with Love

November 15th, 1943.......November 15th, 2008

I will officially be 65 on this date. I know, it says in the profile I wrote a couple of months ago when I set up my blog, that I was 65. You see I was just practicing. For a year now, I have been waiting on this date, so it was like I was writing the age as a dare. A gamble of sorts, would I really reach 65? I did. This is one birthday I will honestly celebrate.

Birthdays have never been a big deal to me. I have so many friends and family members who send cards, and never forget birthdays. I am really lax in that. Normally, birthdays just do not seem to be very important to me, but for many reason’s, this one is.

I made it! I really have lived thru 65 years! Wow!

65, very interesting, sometimes bad, mostly good, all of them very full years.

A couple of the pictures below show “reflection”. Looking at something through a different tool of vision.

To borrow a favorite line from the song, “Memories”, “in the corner of my mind, misty water colored memories”, written by A.L. Webber. Misty indeed, and how obviously they change in appearance when you look back. Frayed edges, blurry images, distant observations, but there. They are always there. They are what I am.

Parts of them I like, parts of them I don’t.

Being 65 means that even though my mind can pretend I’m still 25, my body tells me different. Being 65 means I can now have less expensive health care and receive my social security! Being 65 means I walk slower. Being 65 means my kids and grandkids look at me as an “older person”. Being 65 means I know some things younger people don’t. Being 65 means I’ve had more fun and more heartaches for a longer period of time than many have had. Not worse or better fun and heartaches, just more of them. Being 65 means I have cooked more meals than others, washed more clothes, ate more meals, and walked further than “most” of those younger than I.

I remember there being two previous birthdays that stands out as being special. The first one was when I turned 30. I remember thinking at the time, “this is the end of my youthful, carefree days, and that proved to be true. I could no longer claim innocence or ignorance for my mistakes. It was time to grow up. The other one was at age 50. Age 50 was when I realized I would probably not become a millionaire, or have the perfect life most of us can only dream about. By then our dreams had been shattered many times and we were still rebuilding our future. Saying all of the above, I have had a very special person beside me for every one of those birthdays...... For 47 years, Jim has been right there with me on each of them and every day between them. I could not have made them without him, as he is a huge part of my growing with each and every day we have spent together. Even though my old body is not as attractive as it once was, even though I've not always been pleasant to be around, and even tho his "child bride" has changed considerably, he is still there, encouraging me to continue on to become 66 and even more. I am now officially his "old lady".... :), and I am so proud to be so!

At age 65 the future is shorter. It could still hold a lot of surprises, but if they’re bad, I won’t have to suffer through them as long. That in itself makes my reflection of 65 years become a thing to celebrate! To all of you who have put up with me over these years, or even a part of these years…thank you. Don’t think you’ve got it made though; there is still so much more to come, and I dare you to join me for the remainder of the journey. 

Happy Birthday Me!
(And love to you all).

The Past Year

With my birthday on Nov. 15th, and the anniversary of the diagnosis of cancer on Nov. 30th 2007, looming near, I think back to the past year. Following the diagnosis of cancer, the first 6 months are literally a blur. After the first couple of months of fear, testing, surgery, and recovery from all that, I remember becoming aware one day that I had not done the laundry for a while. It occurred to me that even if you have cancer you still have to take care of the dirty underwear… gathering, washing, drying, folding and preparing to use it again, and again, and again. It was a simple revelation, and the beginning of my recovery.

I remember the first time I went somewhere by myself following the sickness and surgery. For several months my husband or kids had driven me to all of the doctor’s appointments, errands to run, etc. Even though the first time out by myself, I was so frightened, I gained strength by making myself face a challenge. I was beyond happy, and loved every moment of my freedom and sense of accomplishment when I returned home that day.

I remember the frustration of being out of control. It was not within my personality to not have control. When dealing with cancer, you quickly learn you have no control of the outcome, and you have to do what others recommend even though it may be terribly hard to do. There were other, tiny, baby steps along the way.... accepting the scar, I was so protective of that area for a long time. Accepting a new responsibility of checking for lumps, accepting new words into my vocabulary, accepting other's nervousness when they learned of my condition. A year later, it seems like I've taken a million tiny steps. It would not be honest not to write something about that on it's anniversary.

However with that loss of control you come to acceptance. A friend reminded me today that we have many levels of acceptance, and I had never looked at it that way… It is probably a good thing that by design in human nature, that we never totally accept anything to do with life or death. Otherwise we stop growing and searching and learning and experiencing. Thank you Ed, for reminding me of that. When we accept, we accept only to a certain level and there is always so much more.

When I think back over the past year, each day brought a new level of acceptance. Accepting that I had been sick but I was still alive and there was more expected of me. Accepting that there was still a need for my life. Accepting that my life had changed. Accepting that I am more vulnerable than I had previously imagined. Accepting that I can do more than I thought I could. Accepting that my loved ones really did not mind the extra attention they had to give me and that they needed to give me. Accepting that others really do care, and allowing them to express that. Accepting that life is what it is, that I can change some parts of it, but accepting the things I have no control over, and making the best of those. Finally accepting that I have accepted some levels of acceptance, and that I must keep trying to accept those levels to come, no matter their challenges.

I think that’s the level of where this past year has brought me. When I escaped the fog, and the darkness, and the crowded jungle in my mind, and begin to enter the clearing where I could see the vines, I knew there would be more places ahead where it would be harder to see. I now appreciate the clearing I am in. The past year was hard, but in many ways the past year was so enlightening, as through a very hard lesson, I realized the past year has given me strength and bravery I didn’t know I had.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Perception

Perception - the neurological process of observation and interpretation.

In one instant planes out of nowhere flew into buildings, another crashed to the ground and in total they ended 3,000 lives and destroyed our security. From that day on, we have lived under an umbrella of fear. We even had a color chart to tell us which level of fear we should feel.. We have given over 4,000 of our best and brightest lives because of that fear, so now the total is 7,000 United States lives gone, with untold thousands more affected. We had our dreams shattered, our candles extinguished, our privacy invaded with the implementation of new eavesdropping techniques. We have been reminded over and over again about how “they” could come and get us again. Our economy is in shambles. We have been convinced that we must live in fear.

Perception - the neurological process of observation and interpretation.

We just elected a new President of the United States. He has been president elect for barely five days. He has done nothing, he’s not even legally able to to yet…… Still, the mood of the country changed almost overnight. People are already speaking of hope for the future, I see them with smiles on their faces, they are discussing plans and solutions to problems. They seem to believe in life again and how it can be better. Even the skeptics seem to want to believe. Though nothing has actually changed, and our problems are the same as they were 5 days ago, there is an obvious perception that we just might be alright after all….

Perception - the neurological process of observation and interpretation.


Compare cancer to 9-11 and the fear our country has lived in since. Cancer patients who have been through learning they have cancer, were attacked by an outside invader. We were fine one day, then without a moments notice, the plane flew into the building. The base was destroyed, and our lives changed forever. And then……and then…..treatments, misery, desperation, loneliness, remission, left to fend on their own while rebuilding their lives, the fear and helplessness tried hard to over take them.

Perception - the neurological process of observation and interpretation.


Perception - A cancer patient's tool.
"Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional"
- Kathleen Casey Theisen

Determination, acceptance, time, hearing an encouraging word, hard work, more time, a renewal of faith, a particular doctor’s words, testing, more hard work, more time, a faded memory, a smile from a friend, a diminished nightmare, a hug from a family member, tears, a good day, a better day, a step forward, a day without pain, a ray of hope, a brief moment of belief.

Perception - the neurological process of observation and interpretation.

The difference from one day to another, though nothing really changed. More time, another encouraging word, one good day and so much more. We perceive a much better day ahead, and have been given a moment of hope. A realization that we can not constantly live in fear and accomplish anything…. That world without fear….It’s such a nice place to be.


The Whole Picture


Several have commented or emailed me on the close up of the leaves lying within the little pool of water in the rock.   To give you a better idea of what the whole area looked like, I'm including this picture.   It only lends proof that there is always "so much more"

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Fall


Since Colorado is not known for our beautiful trees, I so enjoyed our trip to the Northeast in the fall months a couple of years ago.   While there I took countless pictures, and just want to share a few of my favorites.   At the time, I emailed this first one to some friends and family with the comment "I didn't know God made pink trees".   Indeed, He does, and my eyes could barely absorb all of the colors we seen.






Looking up, as in the second picture, seemed to become my favorite position as it opened my vision and dreams and the world beyond.



















I love this picture for it's depth, there is always

so much more when you look past what's in front of you.




















The next picture is without a doubt my all time favorite.
There is nothing equal to reflection..... in nature, and in ourselves.
These pictures were taken at the "screw auger falls", near 
Grafton notch in New Hampshire.   There is so much more, and 
even beauty, in just a pile of dead leaves........
These had fallen off the trees into small pools indented
in flat, smooth rock surrounding the falls.


















And last but not least, my own "tri-color" painting in our back yard
The Aspen, the Maple, and the Evergreen....in all their glory.

Chores

As a little girl, I had all the normal chores to do that other kids did, help with the dishes, keep my room cleaned, sweeping off the porch, etc. (and usually drug my feet on all of them). However; all the kids I went to school with were “farm kids”. Therefore, they had “other” chores that they actually earned money for, like gathering eggs, cleaning the barn, feeding livestock, milking etc. I didn’t have any farm duties to do, so therefore I didn’t make anything extra. I complained to my folks about this once at which time they came up with a chore for me on washday.  From then on it would be my job to lay Dad’s “greasers” out on the sidewalk and sprinkle them with solvent to soak before washing. Dad’s greasers were “khakis’” matching pants and shirts made from heavy 100% cotton, that he wore to work every day. Every evening he would come home after work with them literally soaked in grease.  These were kept in a separate basket from all of our other clothes.

Every week, usually on Monday’s before school, it was my job to carry the greasers outside, summer and winter, spread each piece out, with the pants and shirts lined up and down the sidewalk, sprinkle them completely with solvent, where they were left to dry before washing. In the winter, often times the snow had to be shoveled first.    They were then gathered up and carried to the "washhouse". This building we called the wash house, was an old tin roofed shed where the Maytag wringer washer set.  When home in the summer time, I put Dad’s greasers in the washer, then Mom would come out, fill the tub with the hose, and get them started washing. I was not allowed near the ringer, as more than one housewife in those days accidentally mangled fingers and hands if they got caught in it. After everything was washed, rinsed, and run thru the ringer, it was also my job to hand them to Mom from the basket on the ground so she could hang them on the clothes line to dry. On bad days in the winter, rope was strung around the shower room, where they were hung with a little gas heater placed in there, and the door kept shut so the heat would dry them.

Throughout the community it was always a challenge, and almost a contest to see which oilfield housewife’s laundry hanging on the line looked the nicest.  For a stranger to this process, to drive by and see a long line of clothes laying up and down the sidewalks in front of the houses would have appeared strange to say the least, but more than once I remember riding by the “camp” and hearing the comment that “ well it looks like Fay, or Jenny or Elsie is doing laundry today”. Therefore, getting those work clothes totally soaked with the solvent mixture was very important, and I was so proud as a little girl to get to have a part in the process.

When we traveled thru the small towns in Mexico a few years back, it brought a smile to my face as I seen the clothes lines behind every house filled with sparkling white’s and bright colored clothes, many of them done by hand on washboards, and not always with the luxury of clear, clean water. Even with today’s automatic dryers, you will often see sheets and other items hanging on clotheslines of all kinds, across America.

The clotheslines in those days were made with a tall piece of pipe buried in the ground with a shorter piece welded to it forming a “T” at each end with wire strung between them. The pipe was a perfect place for wasps to build their nests, which also brought the challenge of keeping yourself from getting stung in the summer time. Like everything else, the clotheslines required maintenance. Dad would have to get the wire stretcher out a couple times a year to tighten it where it wouldn’t sag, and the poles had to be painted every spring.

Even with such a simple task as laundry, there is always so much more than meets the eye. Washday in my memories offers a vision of pride and gives me a sense of accomplishment, even when I think of it today.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

not just my words

President Elect of the United States of America
Barack Obama

“America, we have come so far. We have seen so much. But there is
SO MUCH MORE TO DO. So tonight, let us ask ourselves -- if our children should live to see the next century; if my daughters should be so lucky to live as long as Ann Nixon Cooper, what change will they see? What progress will we have made"?   This is our chance to answer that call. This is our moment.

tarzan

 I feel so good tonight knowing that I will wake up in the morning with a leader who understands that there is always "so much more" out there, and who will reach out to the people to encourage them to always search for and do so much more......(maybe even beyond their wildest dreams).   



Monday, November 3, 2008

"Un-day"

For years, Monday was the “dreaded day”, we knew what lie ahead……..back to the job, putting up with demands from the bosses and society in whole, co-workers and family members in bad moods as they also had to return to the world. It meant telling the weekend days of Saturday and Sunday goodbye, with their lazy mornings when the alarm did not go off, the glorious two days of each week that allowed us to enjoy home or have fun with friends and family. Monday’s meant kicking the brain back into gear, taking on problems, solving problems, catching up on what was left over from the week before, and putting forth an effort to survive the next five days.

When my sister and I retired approximately a year apart, we were both so used to meeting the dreaded Monday’s head on, it was very hard to get used to the idea that we would not be expected to show up anywhere or do whatever someone told us to do, or whatever we knew we had to do.  In learning how to cope with retirement, we vowed to never have to go through another Monday……. instead, it became our “UNDAY”. This meant we could now enjoy our Mondays without the usual connotations, which they had carried for so many years.

Our “UNDAY’s” have become just that – a total UN day. A day in which we can choose to ignore the world if we so choose, a day we can devote to ourselves if we want to, without guilt of not meeting an ordered deadline. We make a point of emailing each other to say “happy unday” at the beginning of each week.

Just because “life” does go on, If one of us happens to find ourselves forced by circumstances to be associated with rest of the world, (such as a dental or doctor’s appointment, or an obligation of any kind), we still reserve the right to get through it by disassociation. It’s quite ok and within our rules, to “zone out” an unpleasant task by pretending in our minds that we can survive it if we’re not really there in our minds.   We can allow the mind to take a break! As the dentist’s drill drones on, I can wander through a path of daisy’s, or climb to the top of a mountain, or silently swim with the dolphins

Monday’s have now become a day I look forward to…….. There have been a few times since we started our “undays”, that I have had to flash back to the old Mondays and make myself remember what they were like. The dread and the challenges we faced to get going on the week and all of it’s demands. I do, still remember how bad some of those Mondays were as there was always so much more to them than I cared to acknowledge. The very word Monday held unforeseen testing of one’s abilities, intellect, and energies. I associated Monday with “survival”. I no longer do that.

Being Ostrich like and sticking your head in the sand can be healthy at times, it’s not a place we want to stay in, as Tuesdays are right around the corner, when you are more capable of adapting to the new week, and more able to face the task ahead. Acceptable or not, you will find freedom by ignoring life for awhile. It’s also ok, to make your unday on Wednesday! Or on any day you just don’t want to, or find yourself unable to cope.

Retired or not, and no matter your personal situation, it’s ok to look beyond the name of a day, as there is so much more when you allow it to become something else. I hope you’ll join me in the celebration of this UN-DAY. Make it what you want it to be!