Posts Tagged ‘Gratitude’

In bed and practically dead.
Still, insane thoughts creep through my head.
Why can’t my mind fall asleep with my body?
And why must I keep getting up to go potty?
I’m hot, I’m cold, can I pay all the bills?
Shoot, I was sweating and now I have chills.
It sucks to be menopausal and poor.
But I love and am loved so I don’t need much more.
Please, someone, hypnotize me to sleep.
I need the kind that is dreamy and deep.
I worry, I stress, and I reminisce
About paychecks and travel and people I miss.
About muscles and tendons and bones that worked well.
About ankles and knees that never would swell.
Still, I’m here and my kids make me smile and beam.
So all I need now is some sleep and a dream.
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More On Gratitude

Posted: December 4, 2013 in Gratitude
Tags: , , , ,

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I am a keeper of, a maker of lists.  I like to compartmentalize.  As soon as I see that there are two similar things that belong together, be they English words with two letter ‘u’s in a row or now-defunct candies I ate as a child, I try to think of a third so they can all exist together in a nice tidy group.  I have written down the names of all the pets I have ever had.  I’ve listed celebrities who have died in plane crashes.  I’ve cataloged, I think, all the American sit-coms of the 50s, 60s and 70s.  I do not admit this easily.  I’m sure it makes me seem a little off the wall, but when you have a mind that will not turn off or slow down, it helps to have random tasks to keep it occupied when you’re, say, standing in line at the DMV and you forgot to bring along the 700-page book you’re reading or a worried-over crossword puzzle.

My twins and I just spent a long and lovely Thanksgiving weekend with my oldest sister, ensconced warmly and comfortably in the large guest bedroom of her suburban Long Island home.  My middle sister and her family came over twice for big family dinners, on Thursday, of course, for turkey and all the trimmings and then again on Sunday, for a more relaxed day and evening of leftovers and football.  As soon as my brother-in-law and nephew sat down I hit them up for their input on a list I had been formulating in my head:  The best quarterbacks in the NFL to wear every jersey number from 1 to 19, from Warren Moon to Johnny Unitas.  We got through it pretty quickly, hesitating only a couple of times, most notably at number 6, but our choices felt authentic and justified.  And then my sister threw a wrench into the list by reminding us that the great New York Giants QB, Charlie Conerly, wore jersey number 42, so we added him at the end.

List-making can be obsessive and weird but it can also be useful.  Like right now, for instance.  I would very much like to, now that Turkey Day 2013 is a fading, rear-view mirror image and the holiday season is in full swing, publicly recognize and thank all the incredibly kind people who have helped me survive this very strange and trying phase of my otherwise completely happy and satisfying life.  It’s been a rough five years or so, what with my cohabitation with a “partner” who no longer loved me (if she ever did), her insistence that we “stay together for the sake of the children” even though I could tell our staying together was the very worst situation for the children and was making everybody miserable, my job loss and subsequent inability to find a new job, still, 3 1/2 years later, the sale of my house to avoid foreclosure, the sudden absence of my wonderful 14-year-old in my everyday life as she headed west with her other mom to pursue her rock star dream and a host of other trials and tribulations, the likes of which I have never experienced before and by which I was completely blindsided.  This list is in no order.  No one deed is more important or significant than any other.  Every kind person listed has helped me cope, survive, exist and every person is appreciated equally.  I sometimes think that my inability to find a suitable new job is karma being paid from a despicable former life.  My friends, though, remind me that the amazing help I have been receiving is good karma coming back to me for all the times, in this life, I have helped others.  I can’t control what may or may not have happened in prior incarnations.  I can’t even control what has transpired in the past of this life, the past I can actually remember.  It’s history.  It’s done.  But I am trying to be a decent human being and I have been on this journey for many years, so perhaps my friends are correct and my helpfulness has come full circle.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart to all the people who are on this list.  If I have inadvertently left you off, I apologize, but the nice thing about lists is that they are open-ended.  I will add as I go.

First off, I must show gratitude to the amazing family with whom the twins and I live.  We could have easily moved in with my oldest sister once our house was sold and there was no money for a new one.  We could have left the town we love and headed out to a place where the twins would have been the “new kids” in school, but my girls really wanted to stay and go to middle school with their friends.  I was hoping to stay, also, because it’s an easy commute to New York City from here and that’s where I’m (still) hoping to find a good job.  Also, I have incredible friends here and a support network it would take years to replicate elsewhere, were that even possible.  Thank you, Jim and Miriam, for all you do.  I know we’re cramping the style of your teenagers, but we do our best not to get in their way and we will never, if we live to be a thousand, be able to repay your immense kindness and selfless generosity.

There’s Nechama, who treats me like a little sister and, in the name of her parents, whom she knows I admired, makes surprise deposits to my bank account and then reminds me of what really matters.  There’s Jennifer, who houses whatever furniture and “stuff” I was able to keep and not sell or toss.  My boxes, crates and tables have been in her garage loft since June and she has not complained once.  Thank you both so very very much.

There’s sweet Laura, who, in the midst of all my insanity, has reminded me that I deserve to be loved and I deserve to be happy.  She’s bought plenty of meals for me and the girls, kept my DJ equipment safe in her basement and taught me how to work a drill press and cut a dado.  I was an amateur carpenter when we met and now I am… less of an amateur.  She is the true genius behind every Adirondack chair, bench, picnic table and cabinet we made.

There’s Steve, and Mary, Steve’s mom, in her 80s, who I have known all my life.  Last year, when I flew out to Los Angeles to see Bea on The X-Factor, I stayed with Mary and she made sure I ate and had gas money so I wouldn’t run out while navigating the horrible traffic of the So-Cal Freeway system.  Steve and I hadn’t seen each other in perhaps 40 years.  Yet, after we went out to dinner one evening in Orange County and Steve and his wife heard about my struggles he followed me back to his sister Leslie’s house, got out of his car and handed me a huge wad of cash so I could pay some bills when I got back to the east coast.  “You’re family, Kim,” he said as he gave me a hug.  “It doesn’t matter how long it’s been between visits.  You and your sisters will always be family.”  Steve’s dad, Tim, a USMC Major, was a friend of my dad’s back when they were both stationed at the Naval base in Patuxent River, Maryland.  Mary and my mom were friends until my mom passed away in 1998.  Tim would have been an astronaut had he not died tragically, as a test pilot, a few months before I was born.  My father died two years later.  Our families have never lost touch.  That’s the military legacy I was given and of which I am so proud.  Friends like Mary and Steve are once in a lifetime.  Thank you.

Because of facebook, I am close once again with a small group of women I have known since high school, and a few of them since kindergarten.  Last August, during a girl’s weekend where we all ate and drank and yammered about the past just a bit too much, I offered to stay home and make dinner while the rest of them went on a tasting tour of some of Long Island’s North Fork wineries.  It wasn’t in my budget so I elected to stay back and conjure up a big pot of the shrimp creole I learned to make while I was working as a DJ in New Orleans.  I needed to visit the local supermarket for all the ingredients and one by one, before the stretch limo came to spirit them away on their adventure, some of my friends sidled up to me and handed me money for the store.  They all gave me way too much.  One simply handed me $100.00 and firmly squeezed my hand with a “don’t you dare not take this” warning.  Someone else left a 20 on my backpack.  It was all, ha! “for the dinner food.”  Thank you, Mag 9 ladies.  You are all incredible and I am blessed to have you back in my life.  My daughters adore you, as do I.

My middle sister sends me emails, hoping to help me stay positive.  I feel the love and concern from her and her family.  They always go overboard at Christmas, giving my girls such lovely gifts and wrapping them exquisitely, making my kids feel loved and special.  My oldest sister would give me the proverbial shirt off her back if I asked for it.  I can’t imagine where I would be without her financial and spiritual assistance.  She is nine years my senior and has always had my back.  Someday I’d like to take her to a Yankee game, with tickets for seats right behind the home dugout, or to a Giants game with seats at the 50-yard line, 20 rows up from the field.  Someday.

Rene, Joy and Debbie have all blogged about me, trying to help me in my job search.  My cousin Tom likes every single blog post I write.  He urges me to keep at it and even emails old family photos to me, hoping some will match the stories I tell.  When he re-posts a blog entry my numbers go up nicely.  Margaret and Sean offer the twins and me a calm and quiet refuge any time we feel overwhelmed and need some restful peace.  Mark walked on fire to help me sell my house last spring.  Arlene is someone I have known for more than 50 years.  She was my middle sister’s friend all through public school.  When the twins and I were sent for by the producers of the show Bea was on, the second time I went out to LA last November, we were scheduled to be there over Thanksgiving.  The producers didn’t care about where we would eat our Thanksgiving dinner.  Arlene and her family live about 90 minutes south of the actual city.  They sent a car for us early Thanksgiving morning.  The driver picked us up right in front of our hotel, drove us directly to Arlene’s house, where we had a wonderful family-oriented holiday meal instead of being forced to eat by ourselves at a restaurant, and then, when it was time, took us right back so we could freshen up and make it to the show on time.  Because friends don’t let friends eat Thanksgiving dinner alone.  I’m so grateful for all of you.

Here in the sweet and leafy suburb we so proudly call home, I have an incredible network of friends.  Their collective attitude towards me has not shifted, even though I am no longer a tax-paying homeowner.  There’s Amy, who buys me coffee, listens to my theories about my joblessness and makes me laugh and feel appreciated.  There’s Doreen, who is the best hostess I know (she could put Martha to shame), who remembers that I like beer when it’s hot out and wine when it’s cold.  There’s David, whose antics and stories and crazy voices keep me rolling on the floor.  There’s Liz and Lisa, who have offered me constant friendship and understanding and support.  And others, too numerous to name, who stop me at the post office or the pizza place with ideas about jobs and hugs of encouragement.  I love my town.

And I love my neighborhood pharmacy.  I have been a regular customer there since 2003, when we moved here from Brooklyn.  The head pharmacist, Dave, knows I’m out of a job.  He knows I need my low-dose blood pressure medication.  Sometimes, when I go in for a refill of the 30-pill bottle, I get home and open it up to find 60 or 80 pills, all for the price of a month’s worth.  That would never happen at a big-box pharmacy.  Please support small, local businesses.  What they do for me is just one reason why.  There are dozens of small stores here where I am recognized and treated with affection and respect.  It’s a mutual love fest.

There’s my coaching group, of course.  We meet just about weekly to talk about life, the universe and everything.  We are sometimes given journal prompts via email by our fearless leader, which we are supposed to use as springboards to write from the heart and get to the bottom of what scares us, what moves us, what annoys us and brings us true joy, in the hope that we will grow and learn to live more authentic lives.  Thank you Tammy, Claire, Mary, Amy Jo, Michelle and Michelle.  You are the friends who insisted, all through the spring and summer of this year, that I start a blog.  You said it would change my life.  It has.  No, it hasn’t yet helped me find a job or an anxious publisher for my memoir-in-progress, but it has lightened my load considerably and my new-found lightness feels wonderful.

There’s Chip, who brought me back into the fold at CBS.  It’s awesome to feel like a stage manager again, even if it’s just twice a month.  It’s a start and I am thankful.  And Anna, who I’ve known since 1988 and who recently re-entered my life.  She’s trying to get me work at another network across town.  If she is successful I will kiss her!  But even if it doesn’t work out, I am grateful for her efforts.  Thank you, thank you, thank you.

And of course, there are my lovely daughters.  People keep telling me how unselfish and wonderful I am to have adopted my twins.  But I believe in reincarnation, remember.  They knew what they were getting themselves into before they swam from the spiritual plane to this physical existence.  They chose me.  For that I will be eternally grateful.  And my Bea.  I haven’t seen her since October and won’t see her again until Boxing Day, but she brings me such joy.  What an amazing kid I have!  Really, what an amazing life I have!  I’m anxious to find a job and earn decent money and get an apartment and live an independent life.  I’m looking forward to settling in and buying new beds and towels and utensils.  I’ll be happy to throw a housewarming party and return some of the kindness and generosity that has been shown to me over the last three years.  It’ll be a blast.  Life, right now, is a total blast.  Thank you all.

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Image            Trust is a tough nut for me.  At times I find myself being very trusting.  At other times, not so much.  Quite often it feels like I’m just trying to get through this life and back to the other side without getting too hurt, too involved, too serious.  Many years ago an old girlfriend nicknamed me “Teflon Kim” because of my ability to let pain and discomfort slide off of me.

I’m trying, also, to somehow not be the cause of any pain.  I hope to not cause destruction, to not be guilty of overusing irreplaceable resources, be they physical or spiritual.  I prefer to tread lightly.  And it’s not because I’m afraid to share my inner thoughts, be involved, commit to something or someone, have trust.  I think it’s more that I just don’t know how, almost as if I missed the first class on being human and I can’t get the professor to go back to the beginning and give me the instructions again.  As a tomboy I had no interest in a lot of life’s milestones; childhood crushes, first kisses, dating.  But I now see that those milestones serve a purpose.  You can’t just go from Little League to Major League Baseball.  You need that in-between stuff in order to succeed as an adult.

I missed out, though.  So I’m hoping to peacefully, quietly, easily get through this life that it feels like I’m faking, die a happy yet clueless old woman and go back and start a new life as someone else.  Only next time, hopefully I won’t fall asleep at my desk for the whole first semester.

It’s not as fatalistic a plan as it seems.  When you think of time as a ball of string, where everything that has ever happened, is happening or will happen is actually one simultaneous occurance, you can begin to accept the measuring of time as a man-made construct, as a tool we gave ourselves to help make sense of our physical existence.  Other tools we created include love and compassion.

For a long time there was absolutely no one to whom I could turn when I needed an ounce, or a pound of compassion.  My mom was gone, my sisters had their own lives, my friends had their own worries.  I knew someone who acted as if showing compassion was a way of enabling another person’s weakness, their “victim-hood,” she dubbed it.  What a load of bull.  People have pain, they have damage, they have places where they are broken into little tiny pieces of timid and shivering shards.  And people with compassion, who claim to love and respect us, are supposed to love even those sharp and damaged pieces of us.

Loving with abandon makes people feel vulnerable.  Acknowledging pain makes people feel vulnerable.  Not having a source of income makes people feel vulnerable.  As if vulnerability is a bad thing.  Discounting my babyhood and toddler-hood, I am probably the most vulnerable right now that I have ever been in my life.  But something good has arisen in me due to this extreme vulnerability.  I have found a willingness to accept help from other people.  I have trusted myself with the courage to ask for it and to graciously accept it when help is offered.  I am usually the helper, not the helped.  It takes a great deal of integrity, grace and strength to be able to give in to help from others.  I don’t know if I do it very well.  It’s almost a religious experience.  And it feels a bit like karma, like all those miniscule good deeds I’ve committed are coming back to me tenfold.

I am so looking forward to financial independence once again.  That magical job is out there, I just know it.  In the meantime, I have been able to stay afloat thanks to my family and friends.  I am truly blessed.  And for that I am truly grateful.

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