Why Josh Is Italian


I am adopted with an extended Italian Family. I am so lucky! DSC_0993

I grew up in a small town along the Niagara River. We moved in when I was 9 years old. Our family was happy and secure. I knew not what lay ahead and my days were full of the outdoors. Lisa lived 2 streets over and we spent many years together creating a hard worn path between our houses. I think we sometimes dreamt of switching lives – she an only child and me part of the big family! She came from a traditional Italian family and her mom made the best sauce in the world! Even my own mom’s pasta was never that good! Every holiday and weekend that I can remember revolved around spending some of my time at home and the rest at Lisa’s. Her home was my home away from home and it smelled like tomatoes, onions, herbs and garlic and family!

Their old dog would regally greet me from his post in front of the house and the other would come running to meet me in the garage as I entered the laundry room. As I took off my shoes I was always greeted with a “MEGGIE!” from Lisa’s dad who would brighten my day no matter how I felt before I arrived. He was a tough guy with a big heart and a winning smile. His sons matched. I loved them all deeply like the brothers they were to me growing up.

In an Italian family everything is “big”! Emotions run high and activity is busy. Laughter is a part of the equation and always in the air. When music is playing, often women are singing their hearts out. Occasionally it may be out of tune, but beautiful nonetheless. This is where I belonged and I felt welcome. My cares would shed off me at the door and be forgotten in the flurry of activity. I was an insider with shared secrets and stories! Men told the family tales whilst playing cards and I remember hovering to listen. Truth and olden day wisdom and some tough times were spoken of and mark my memories of yesterday. The women usually remained near the kitchen where endless lessons and wisdom was imparted to the young. 3 to 4 generations lived close enough to share time and no one felt alone. If anything, it was tough to find space but I had plenty of this at home and Lisa could escape with me too.

While Lisa felt that her brothers never had to do anything (which was pretty much true) I didn’t really mind and would help out so that we could have more time together. They got such a kick out of how much I could eat. Lisa’s mom could never feed me enough spaghetti! She insisted I have a plate before going home and I would oblige waddling home uncomfortable yet satisfied.

“Mange’, mange’”, they would shout and everyone would laugh. I even was nick named “Hoover” or “Foot” as the brothers teased endlessly. It was all part of the fun!

The cousins arrived on any given weekend and we would spend hours playing outdoors regardless of the weather. Only after you were worn out and well fed did things slow down and that meant more cards and music or a special show or football game to get involved in. Room to room would represent all ages and community. It was good old fashioned and fun! When a bit too much wine was had, the laughter and noise increased and occasional battles of will emerged. The language had rougher edges. Laughter or tears would trade places too but were gone in a fleeting instance. There was always love. When shuffled off to bed. Lisa and I would spend endless hours chatting and drawing and dreaming together! We had each other and we knew we could conquer the world with spaghetti and meatballs and a big pot of sauce!

Josh is not Italian but he is lucky too!

 

 

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Perspectives


A man and a woman walk through the park together, holding hands. They pass an old woman sitting on a bench. The old woman is knitting a small, red sweater. The man begins to cry.

Angels Touch

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The Man: John

As we walk the dogs through the park I think, “What is the use? I can’t make this any better, no matter how hard I try! “Ally stays stoic, my rock, but I know that she is hurting too as we glance simultaneously at the old woman. She faces me and pulls me in and I smell the warmth of her skin and the sweetness of her breath upon my shoulder. How does she do this, bringing immediate peace within that hug? She just holds me, like mom used to do and I don’t care if the little old lady sees me crying. I just cry and hold on tight releasing the pain. The ache is so deep and so new! The wound opens up again although I thought that I had buried it along with her. I guess I was wrong.

My mother will never see our little one growing inside Ally. It is so wrong! She was so young! I remember how excited she was the day we told her about the baby. She would finally become a grandmother and this child would be mine. I was the one who was never going to go down that road but that all changed with Ally. Mum knew it! She was so excited and a bit worried too. I just never understood.

The last time we spoke, angry words and those of worry were expressed but I didn’t listen. “Shouldn’t there have been a sign?”

Words were left unspoken. She was there and then she was gone. There was no time to think or respond in any other way than with pure heart wrenching agony. I miss her so!

We part and keep walking, the dogs nudging us along. The woman continues to knit on the bench.  She looks up as we pass and in that moment, we all are one, a secret smile passing between in a fleeting moment.

The Woman: Ally

“John is usually so strong and since his mum died, everything has changed!” she thinks as she walks beside the man she loves. “He is so lost without her.”

I turn and pull him towards me and all I can do is hold on. As he releases all that tension, I feel his shoulders drop and lose the rigidity that is evident in his posture. I look over his shoulder and I watch the woman knitting. She gazes up at me and gives me a soft sad smile, then turns away looking down at her work and continuing. I see the teardrop fall upon the wool she so lovingly creates.

John doesn’t see this and I know that if he had, a conversation would have passed between them. There was a connection somehow and I think perhaps, “Maybe his mother is there on that bench right now, watching on. Silly, I guess.”

John’s mum never would have knit. It wasn’t her style. She would however strike up a conversation with just about everyone she came upon. She would bring a smile to their face even on the dreariest of days and that is why I could see her there with that old woman brightening her day. She would have boasted about the baby coming and that she “Finally” was becoming a grandma! “It is so unfair that she will not get the chance! She lived balanced and fair and she had to be struck down too early, and after that fight!”Ally stopped this thought abruptly as her thoughts returned to John.

“Would he be ok? Would he return to his fun loving self and be more self- assured? It certainly wasn’t his fault!”

These thoughts filled her head as she held him and felt the wind pick up in his sails. She said nothing. The dogs nudged them on and as they pass the woman, she looks up and a secret smile passes over her lips.

Old Woman: unnamed

I look up from my knitting and I look into the eyes of the man as he approaches. There is something in his sadness that touches me and I feel as though I know him. He looks through me as his eyes rest on the knitting I will likely never finish. He begins to cry. I turn away, pretending not to notice. “What could it be, that brings such tears on a walk?”

I revert my gaze to the little dogs. The pair faces each other and embrace. I feel like I am an intruder and yet I feel connected.

“I was young once too, but that was long ago.”

I stop my work and look up and catch the woman’s eye. The moment is so private and yet I feel as though I am one with the couple. I see her bump and look back at my little red sweater and the tears begin for me. My tiny precious grandchild will not wear this as I had planned as they told me that they “lost” her. “How can you “lose” a baby?” The kids these days speak so differently and block their pain so easily. Perhaps that is why this couple touches my soul.

“Should I pass the sweater on to them? No, that would be intruding. I do not even know them! I will go back to minding my own business.”

As the couple walks by, their eyes meet mine and the smile I give is one of understanding and hope. We are one in that moment in the blink of an eye.

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Dreaming in Doonan


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The steps leading to the veranda invite a smile. The fruit shop is quiet, as is the café’. The hanging, hand-knit beanies draw Josh’s gaze. Dewdrops remain on the ramp from this morning’s rain. The staff greet the day with care and the touch of a succulent and an olive tree growing from a recycled soybean oil container catch my eye, reminding me of a place faraway, perhaps Italy or the south of France. But no, I am in Australia. The kookaburra articulates his morning songs to his mate in the canopy as we order.

The deli items entice but a sit-down breakfast is what we seek. We pick a number, woven of colourful, woolen yarn stretched over nails shaped on a wooden block. These are new and give a splash of bright tonal contrast to the bench. They sit next to the frequent coffee club box filled with cards of local customers. I am one of them and today our coffees are free! Our number is 4 and we find a table at the edge of the porch overlooking the bush. We sit facing each other and I study my son. His dreadlocks blend into his woven jacket and portray his musical nature. He looks tired despite a good nights rest. I look out and see tables scattered across the green grass leading to the road. Cars and trucks whizz past. They are oblivious to this quiet gem with fantastic coffee. The trees provide a canopy of shade.

DSC_9329A magpie swoops down and sits on a chair overseeing the food service. A customer shoos him away but he’ll be back. I am out for morning breakfast with Josh and I am grateful for his presence and this gift of time. The morning is perfect.

The tables, topped with rustic cloth, give the impression of a farm country cottage and the kitchen provides the aroma of herbs and garlic and apple and cinnamon. The atmosphere is homey and warm and welcoming.

The family staff cooks our meals. Josh picks up the sounds of the song, A “Horse With No Name”. He sings along and remembers our road-trip playlists together. As we sip our Cappuccino’s, we talk about our lives and share. Sometimes we are silent.

We hear the blender and Josh orders a juice. The books lining the shelves and the scattered art lead the eye to the tree branches attempting to enter the café from beneath the aluminium roof. They wind their branches as they enter. Flower vases balance the natural wood and the stools beside the grille whisper conversation. Breakfast is served.

Echoes of Silence


 

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Lauren runs past the kitchen, her voice fading as she turns the corner, “Oh mom, you are in one of those states again”, she says as she rolls her eyes.

The keys drop into the bowl upon the table next to the door as she passes.

Mom misses the eye roll, thankfully as this would have hurt had she known. She is in the kitchen grating the sweet potatoes for the fritters on tonight’s “special” menu.

“Everyone is going to be home together tonight honey, even your brother!” She says this more to herself than to Lauren as she is deep inside her own thoughts of the days when they were all little. Two of her children would not be living in the house after tonight and she would have just one child at home. That would certainly change the dynamics. “That will be odd,” she screams silently.

“You’ll miss me, you know, and my “states”.

 

Mom returns to the silent process of creating a meal with love. The pure act of grating is meditative, grounding her and reminding her of days long ago, when this little blue eyed blonde, baby girl sat on this same bench. That was a time of rhythm and balance and order. Now, everything seemed to be whizzing by and she felt like she was on a whirlwind ride that she could not exit. This was disconcerting. Tomorrow, her baby would be leaving the country to follow her dream! The thought makes her smile with just a hint of sadness again as she gazes out the window deep in thought. Her emotions are all over the map yet she tries to have a neutral expression. As Lauren comes in and sits on the stool, she grabs a strawberry slyly and smiles at her mom knowingly.

“So, mom, what’s wrong?”

“Nothing. I am happy as a clam.”

This  facade does not fool the girl. Soft singing begins to fill the room, as mom hums and grates in rhythm to the melody. Mom cocks her head and smiles inviting a medley of their favourite song. Lauren joins in and they sing in harmony, lost in the moment . The singing ends and there is an awkward silence. The elephant in the room is the hesitancy in their conversation, as neither knows just quite what to say. The silence is broken.

“So, what do you think you will do on your first day in New York City, Lauren?”

Lauren speaks quickly, her words blending as one in an endless chatter.

“I will get settled and hook up with Janine so I have a mate and I will call you and it will all be so exciting!” and she stops suddenly. She raises her head slowly, a strawberry between her teeth as she stares at her mom hesitantly. They both have tears in their eyes.

“Oh dear, come over here!”

Lauren gets up and hugs her mom tightly and the visible tension melts off of them as their shoulders relax simultaneously. They cry softly together with sadness and with joy. No words are spoken and the empty page speaks volumes. A moment in time passes and life stands still. For just that moment there are pauses in the memories in their hearts.

Lauren picks up a knife and joins her mother as they continue working in unison.

“So, seriously, what will you do, honey?”

“Don’t worry, I will start changing the world immediately upon arrival mom”, she smirks, “true to the cause of human survival in an indecent world!”

She rolls her eyes once again and this time mom sees. Lauren realizes this and mumbles. “I was only kidding!”

But the bruise remains. Mom flinches and turns away and cheerfully states: “That’s my girl!” Her earlier meditation is now cluttered with the unspoken silence of what will never be said.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We Are One


 ConnectedI met T in January when she was speaking onstage at the Woodford Folk Festival inside the “Green Room”. Her topic was “Transformative Activism”. As I recently had begun this journey of alliance and bringing people together to achieve the perceived unachievable, we were heading towards something extraordinary together on parallel paths, entering into a world of known and unknown simultaneously. It was time for a change and a time to build a new story. These words spoke directly to my soul and I listened. I was captivated. Today, her words and her recommendations lie deep within me and motivate me to move forward sometimes in the face of doubt. I am grateful as I speak the truth.

Pure joy and deep emotion crossed the lines of what it meant to be an activist in T’s eyes. Her warm and welcome smile and American accent drew me in. I felt a connection and a mutual understanding. Her mannerisms and the way she tilted her head led me to feel truly heard and understood. She was like a breath of fresh air in a world closed and “all good”. We spoke briefly over a cuppa as she engaged in deep conversation with each person under that warm tent on that stormy day. The moisture and humidity hung thick in the air like a curtain waiting to fall. I knew that we would meet again. I could feel it in my heart.

 

The Festival ended and we kept missing each other as we tried to communicate and catch up. Time passed and then an email relationship began over the planning of our Workshop. Email became skype and we could “see” each other. I learned of the “stand up” workstation that she created for herself and that I will create now as I build the new editing studio. Detail was exhibited and T’s deep process led to many hours planning, molding and forming the content of the creative space we would engage in at Wild Mountains. I continued to be awed by the purity of spirit and heart that was expressed over time. She shared a copy of “The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know Is Possible” (Sacred Activism) by Charles Eisenstein and I continue to reference this in process of our connection and to those that attended the workshop. Words such as “Hope shows us a destination, but a vast territory, the territory of despair, lies between it and us.” Come from this writing and ring true.

 

Our workshop was an exercise of wonder. We came together from all states of Australia and the combined facilitation and venue were perfect. The rustic nature of accommodation proved difficult and challenging for some but this was all a part of the process. T, once again, showed resilience and integrity as she maneuvered and adapted to the change and direction that was led by all. Cynicism led to hope and connection. Campfire stories became truths and secrets to hold onto. We were in this together and the road was just being paved. In just one weekend we journeyed deep and far. The momentum now, is wavering but beginning to take shape.

I go back to the stage at “Woodford” and I feel that hope as I go on. We burned the heart and are creating our web inside the parameters of the now. I thank T for inspiring a change within that holds true to the “new” story being written out of the ashes of despair. As we write this new story, we let go of the ways that no longer serve and speak up bravely for what we know to be true.

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The Letter


A Gift

A Gift

 Thinking of you makes it hurt even more but I know that only you will understand.  I felt it then, and now.  You knew, but you stayed silent.  Please see me tomorrow and remember.  My smile hid it very well.  The sun, shining above, seemed cold.  Tomorrow will not exist for us.  For that, I bid you farewell.  Forgive me what I have done. You will live within me forever.  You will be in every tree.  The air will speak your name and I will hear the faint whispers. Escaping they will run together like the wind within my soul.

Lost Connection


Heart Sea

Heart Sea

Today, I begin a “Serial Post” in a 3 part series. I write about loss. What does it mean? How does it feel? Is it simple or complex? I suppose that depends on the perception and level of importance we hold, in terms of what it is that we have lost.  I could write about the keys I lose daily! Or, I could write of the feeling of loss when someone dies. These are both losses yet very different in terms of the anxieties that they produce from one side of the spectrum to the other.

 

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An 18-year-old girl was shot and killed in the small town of Half Moon Bay Ca. USA, where my daughters were born. A young life is lost in a disconnected world. Yet, disconnected? In our lovely old hometown; how could this be? When I think of this small community south of San Francisco, I see a peaceful and warmly welcoming town that grows by huge numbers once a year during Pumpkin Festival weekend. I see the winding roads and earth tone hues as the sun sets on the hills. I see the ocean and the views from the bluff tops or a path, climbing steeply to the top where everything blends into one picturesque landscape. I see eucalyptus trees and horses.  I see a multicultural community and the arts. I see my friends but I do not see violence!

Five years ago, we left this small community. Our family was relocating to the Sunshine Coast of Australia, where we remain. Rex was already living in Australia and he returned to spend Christmas with the family one more time. We traveled south to LA.  As my heart was ripped to shreds and lay scattered in pieces as we said our goodbyes, I knew this would be the last time I would see my friend Evan. He would not live to see our return visit last year. The “Full Monty” cast were connected and tight and as we sang our parting karaoke songs, the memories are like footprints in my mind. We had to start fresh again and none of us were quite ready to leave. Josh was in love for the first time. Rachel was leaving the “Odyssey” community, Shakespearean drama leading her. Sarah was still connected to the horses at Square Peg and uncertain and reticent of the new journey before us. Our immediate family were being left behind and the grandfather that decided he was too angry and “not ready” to see us before we left, remains distant and separate from our lives today. The pain of this dug deep. Transition had a grip upon us and we were on a fast train moving forward in a new adventure to Oz. Our hearts remained with the people we loved and cherished. Our bodies moved forward knowing that at this moment, everything was going to change once again in a blink of the eye.  Loss, yes, I know loss!

Thus begins the process of this first Chapter Musing as I tell my story. I will probably edit and re-edit and pick it apart in the process, but “loss” is a good way to begin and there is also great gain. You’ll have to read the book when it is finished to get the complete story though. For now, I will ponder the Lost Connection that inspired this post.

What went on in the mind of a girl with a history of depression on this day? Why wasn’t she taking her medicine?? Why did a police officer shoot her fatally? Could it not have been handled differently?? These questions linger. I feel compassion and sadness for the family and a young life lost.

I can’t believe that even in a pocket of paradise, violence and unrest grow. We need to connect more and love more and heal the hurt that exists in our hearts! We need to show kindness and resist judgment. We never know if this moment will be our only chance to turn a frown upside down and make a difference in someone else’s life. Let today be the day this changes one person at a time. If this could happen in Half Moon Bay, then it could happen anywhere that anger lies. We must change our ways for a brighter future ahead.