I got a call from my daughter the other day in the middle of the afternoon, when she should have been hard at work and not calling to chitchat with me. Of course my motherly radar of doom and gloom kicked in as I picked up the phone and saw who was calling. My mind began to run through the endless litany of terrible events that must have happened to her. I tried to be the voice of calm and cheer as I answered the phone and said, “Hi! How are you?” I heard the big sigh and then her reply of, “Not good – I’m sick!” Hopefully she didn’t hear my sigh of relief at her dilemma; not happy that she was sick, but relieved that’s all it was. Oh, the crazy rationale of motherhood!
And the only reason she called, and really quite a heartwarming reason, was to get some good old-fashioned motherly sympathy for her plight of illness. Being recently married, she now has a husband who is there to take care of her and baby her during such times, but it is a mother’s compassion that seems to be the healing balm she wants when she is sick. That’s not to say that men are less effective in taking care of someone in the throes of an illness, but a mother’s touch, even hundreds of miles away, seems to be a special kind of remedy for whatever ails you.
We might think that when our children grow older and start to claim their independence that they will have less of a need for our wise parental guidance. But there are some things about being a mom that will never fade away, no matter what age my children are or how successful they become on their own. My daughter was able to take the reins very nicely and plan her whole wedding herself; my advice from across the country was asked for on occasion, but she really put the whole thing together on her own and did a fantastic job.
But when it comes to dealing with any sickness she may encounter, I am sure to get a phone call, looking for words of advice and words of comfort. It is those times I am reminded that my role as a parent may change throughout my children’s lifetimes, but I will always have the role of Mom, the best comforter of all.
A friend and I spent the better part of a morning recently at Starbucks, having coffee and playing Scrabble, a game that I have to believe every writer enjoys – it is all about words! What could be better than that? And the best part was that my dear friend gave me the lovely red vintage box containing the retro Scrabble board and those beautiful wooden tiles of letters – the only things missing were the bag to hold the tiles and one of the wooden tile holders. She uncovered this treasure at Goodwill for only $2.00, but soon found that her family does not share her love of the game like she does. So in a lovely gesture of friendship, she gave it to me, after learning about my love of what has to be the greatest game ever. I used to have my own Scrabble set, but it was grudgingly sacrificed in the move to Portland, as I pared down to the bare necessities. So many memories attached to that game, as I would always make my children play Scrabble with me at Thanksgiving and Christmas – and surprisingly, I never won! But fear not, I made sure that my daughter bought a brand new Scrabble set, so we could play last Christmas when I went back to visit – and as always, I lost once more!
But today my brain must have been firing on all its cylinders, or maybe it was the coffee buzz that spurred me on to an amazing score of 283 – my all time Scrabble high! I was unstoppable, as I gathered up 48 points alone for the word “quirk” – what a quirk it was to be able to even spell that word out on the board. I gathered up a slew of points with silly little words like “gem” and “zoo”, using a strategic mind I didn’t even know I possessed, scoping out places where I could rake in triple letter scores with those crazy eight or ten point letters like “z” or “q”. I challenged my friend on a word or two, and she in turn informed me of an illegal Scrabble move that I was unaware of, all the while thoroughly enjoying ourselves with some friendly competition.
And as we pondered our brains for words, and laughed at the silliness of words we thought we could use, like “yo”, as in yo-yo or Yo!, a favorite rap phrase, time just seemed to slip away. We forgot to talk about all the things going on in our lives, the things that are of a more dramatic nature than trying to figure out how to use up the last letters you are holding of c, j, l, and r, so you don’t have to subtract them from your score. It felt good to get lost in something so innocent for a time, not thinking about why I haven’t heard back about the job I recently interviewed for, or getting caught up in any worrisome fears about the future. It felt good to escape for a time in something I love, the words; and I was reminded of the healing nature of mindfulness.
We all seem to hear about “women’s intuition”, and I can remember telling my daughter as she was growing up, “Trust that little voice inside your head, because women just seem to know things, even if they don’t seem to make sense.” But since that time I have come to realize that we all have that gift of knowing, men and women alike. I do believe that it is easier for women to admit to using it and trusting it; the male ego sometimes dismissing it as much too illogical. But I am convinced our world is heading towards a time when the use of intuition as guidance will be universally accepted and trusted.
My whole adventure of moving to Portland from Minnesota was a shining example of using intuition and following messages that came from elsewhere – I was told to rent a car, what papers to bring, and I was even given numbers that translated into the zip code of the area I now live in. One day as I sat eating my yummy peanut butter sandwich, enjoying the delicious simplicity of it, I started to think about how much I wanted to move to Portland. I had a train ticket to go there in September, six months away, thinking I wanted to enjoy one last Minnesota summer before planning my move. Then I heard the voice, clear as day asking me, “What are you waiting for?” Good question – what in the world was I waiting for? So before I gave my fun- killing, logical left side of my brain a chance to reason me out of it, I called Amtrak and changed my train ticket to May. This was a spontaneous and impulsive move for me, so unusual for my usually organized, safe and calculated self – but it felt so right! And now I find a year later, having made that move to Portland, that it was exactly what was supposed to happen. I am happier than I have ever been here; I am in my soul’s home.
The past couple of days have been ripe with small examples of intuitiveness – knowing seconds before the phone rang that my step mom was calling me, and the other day anticipating the early arrival of my friend for our weekly walking date – this is my dear friend who is always running late by at least 15 minutes, and that day I just knew she was going to be 15 minutes early – and she was! Now these are not earth shattering instances of intuition at its finest, but I think they are meant to show us how us we are so much more than just our logical, thought out selves. And granted, it is not an exact science by any means! I have had my share of misses; things that come to me that I am convinced will come to pass but never do. But I look at our time here on earth as a classroom, and learning comes by trial and error as any good scientist will tell you. Intuition is a skill like any other, to be practiced and honed. And earth is not a place of perfection, that’s for sure! So while I am here, I will continue to use my intuition – I have discovered it is my very best tour guide on earth.
Listening to new music that I buy is a huge rush for me, as I wrote about in my last post. But the ultimate high in listening to music has to be hearing it live, and that is just what I did last night. As I was paging through Portland’s alternative weekly newspapers, I happened to see that the students from the School of Rock here were putting on a show just a few blocks from my home at a wonderful place called the Mission Theater, performing the music of Stevie Wonder. What a great chance to hear some awesome music, and at the same time support the up and coming musical talent in my city that is nurtured through this inspiring school of music. Last night’s performance consisted of 27 students taking turns playing various instruments and singing vocals on 26 different Stevie Wonder songs. And believe me, if you ever really listen to any of Stevie Wonder’s music, you’ll realize that it is complex and not that easy to perform. It is full of key changes, rhythmic changes, hyperactive bass lines, inventive keyboard playing and room for lots of vocal improvisation. But this group of eager young musicians gave it their all, and their hard work showed in amazing renditions of these challenging songs. By the end of the night most of the crowd was on their feet dancing, my friend and I included – what a blast! Music is a drug, and how great to see these young people becoming addicted to something that gives their souls a natural high.
What do I want to be when I grow up? This is not a question that a 53 year old woman usually asks of herself, but I keep asking myself that question as of late. I feel as if I am at a crossroads, like the train has stalled on the tracks, like I’m in a holding pattern waiting to land, or any other clever cliche you can come up with to say “I don’t know what I want to do with my life!” I walked the path of convention for many years; go to college, go to work, get married, raise a family. Then I opened the can of worms called awakening, and said hello to my soul. My soul doesn’t much care for conventional ways any longer. So many things in my life are so perfect; living in Portland, not working in healthcare any longer, even not owning a car any longer is a dream come true. But as I watch my IRA balance go down instead of up, my little scheme of living off of that until I die may not work any longer. So now what? I feel a pull in my soul to do some type of work, some type of soulful work, but I hear no clear cut answers. This morning as I melted down into frustration and impatience and fear about my future, I started to wonder if this time of non-doing is the lesson, a lesson in trust. Waking up to the fullness of my soul has revealed so many positive aspects of self, but there is also the shadow side. I learn I am impetuous when it is not appropriate, I am impatient and want things now, and I am controlling, thinking I know what is best for me. Maybe I have stalled so I can learn to let go, to let the flow of the Universe touch my life, and trust in that. So I work on those nasty attributes that make me feel like a child at times, and instead turn to the strength of my ever maturing soul to find out what I will be when I grow up, in this phase of my life.
My grown up and out of the nest children were the inspiration for this poem; one of the first poems I wrote when I started writing in earnest, when the words started coming out. Letting go of our dear ones is sometimes the hardest thing a mother has to do, but it is what we are working towards during all those years we raise them – and we hope they are able to fly without falling.
A Mother’s Love
A mother’s love
Is a special kind of love
It is unconditional
You never have to think about it
It just is
And that love allows you
To let go of them
When they are ready
To watch them fly
Of their own accord
But always standing in the wings
If they need a loving reminder
Of how strong they are
All on their own