Kissing the Trees and Fields

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Saturday morning I walked into a fairy tale.

I have lived in Southern California all my life.  Sun and surf are old friends, rain a passing acquaintance.  Snow, however, lived only in books, movies, and legends.  Remember in grade school making snowflakes out of paper?  You fold the paper up a bunch of different ways and make little cuts with scissors.  When you open the paper up – voila! – a snowflake.  Would you believe, as a child I thought snowflakes really were that big?  Such is the madness of a child who has never experience snow firsthand.

I have, once or twice, walked through snow.  I remember my parents taking me to Big Bear on the first day of spring one year.  There was snow on the ground, but the warm sun was making sure it did not stay there for long.  We got to play a little bit with the icy stuff and thought that was really something.  And once as an adult, I drove through an area of Mt Shasta where it had snowed the night before.  Pretty, but it was “out there” beyond the warmth and safety of the car, so it seemed like I was once again seeing snow in a movie.  I have never seen snow actually fall from the sky in my entire life.

But Saturday morning it happened.  I was sitting in the den when my fiance called to me from the living room.  I walked out and there it was!  Little fluffy puffs floating through the sky, falling gently to the ground.  The trees had already started to gather some of it for themselves in their branches.  And everywhere, it was white.  Beautiful, peaceful, and magical.  The flakes seemed to dance like fairies in the sky before they came to rest on the ground and on the trees.

My fiance and I quickly bundled up and went outside.  We took picture after picture.  At times I would just stand in awe at the beauty of it.  I felt like I was in a storybook.  Somehow I had been transported to a world of fantasy and magic.  The flakes swirled and danced around me in a symphony of sparkling white.  The flakes are so light, you can’t even feel them as they gently kiss your shoulders or your hair. It’s amazing how the tiny crystalline drops of light can create such an exquisite landscape, bit by bit, tiny drop by tiny drop.  Slowly lingering on the trees and fields, creating a soft blanket of crystal light as they embrace the earth with their beauty.  It is truly miraculous.

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Here Comes the Sun

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Friday, December 21st, marks the Winter Solstice.  I always look forward to the day, and honor it with reflection and meditation.  The Solstice has been celebrated for centuries.  There is an abundance of history and information about it in books (remember those?) as well as on the internet.  But for me, Winter Solstice is personal.

The Longest Night symbolizes struggle and despair.  It is our darkest hour.  It represents all those times (and I have had plenty)  where I didn’t know how I was going to ever survive.  But from a different perspective, the Solstice reminds me of the return to brighter days, longer days.  It tells me things will get better.  “This, too, shall pass”.

This past year has been the toughest I have ever endured.  Cancer threatened my life, and the battle was excruciatingly difficult.  My mother passed away this year.  And there was heart-wrenching drama at home when my son unexpectedly decided to move out.  On top of all that, there were many financial struggles.

But just as the Solstice ushers in the return of the Sun, my long year of darkness is showing signs of light.  There were always glimmers, most notably how my fiancee’s and my relationship seemed to strengthen with every assault thrown at us. And now true light is breaking through!  While the circumstances were not what anyone would have liked, my son stepping out on his own was an extremely positive move.  He is now living in the apartment we left behind, saving us from a costly lease breakage fee in order to move to Philadelphia.  In fact, a flurry of synchronicity has occurred, and all the hurdles we encountered trying to relocate suddenly vanished.

This fall, we were very nearly evicted from our apartment.  Several expected checks had not come in and we fell hopelessly behind on rent.  In the last hour, I received money from my mother’s estate – in the exact amount we needed.  I had no idea there was any money in her estate, so I certainly wasn’t expecting anything.  It seems my mom still has my back, even though she has passed beyond the veil.

I pretty much gave up a year of my life to fight cancer, and now I have been given (by my wonderful fiancee) a year to just relax and enjoy. I get to indulge my love of Revolutionary History while I explore discover what I want to do next.  I get to plan my wedding.  I get to build a new wardrobe.  Most importantly, I get to enjoy life with the man I love.

I think it’s appropriate that Winter Solstice marks the beginning of my new adventure.  Endings always signal beginnings.  At the end of even the longest night, there is always a new day dawning.  I think that’s a moral.

Welcome to my Maddness . . .

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One would think that someone of my age and experience (I turned 55 this August past) would be fairly settled into being exactly who they are and forever will be.  By now I should know who I am and how I want to live the rest of my life.  But I find myself, not at a crossroads, but in this vast empty space of newness.  Let me explain . . .

16 months ago I was diagnosed with breast cancer.  I never saw it coming.  I’ve always been the health-conscious type and took good care of myself.  There was no history of breast cancer in my family.  Then quite suddenly and unexpectedly, I became the pioneer of this scary new frontier.

I will spare you the details of my ordeal (I’ll save that for another time).  I will say that after 3 surgeries, 6 months of chemo and 6 weeks of daily radiation I have finally arrived at the other end of that new frontier only to encounter another one.  I have been handed back my health and my life – now what do I do?

I find it rather curious that right as I reached the end of treatment, my fiancee got offered a new job clear across the country.  So my re-entrance into Life will not be in Anaheim, creating magic for guests who come to Disneyland (yes, that really was my job), living nearby my adult (I use that term somewhat loosely) son and the rest of my family.  No, my cancer-free but out of shape body with it’s newly discovered curly white hair will get to re-invent life (hand-in-hand with her loving man) here in Philadelphia!

I am so fortunate that my fiancee’s new job allows me the luxury of taking a year off from earning a living.  I’ll spend this next year exploring my new community, discovering places to go and things to do.  Will I reacquaint myself with old hobbies, once abandoned due to lack of time?  Will new interests and talents be sparked and developed?  Can I shed the excess weight and rebuild the strength I once had?  My journey this year will surely be filled with failures and triumphs, false starts and accomplishments.  I have been given the gift of a blank canvas to redefine and recreate who I am and how the world sees me.  I’m in a new world, without any boundaries.  Where I’ll end up is anybody’s guess.