Thursday, November 22, 2007

The "Ladder of Abundance"

Yeah, I know. Everyone blogger and his/her mother (at least in the US) is writing something about Thanksgiving today. So I'm not original. Big deal.

Here's the thing. I spend a lot of the time in my head being negative, grumpy and cranky. I think about getting old (hell, I turn sixty next month), being sick with an incurable disease, facing increasing medical costs with a shrinking income, the horrific political climate in this country, war, climate change... well, I could go on, but I'm not gonna do that. Whenever I find myself peering up out of one of my emotional rat-holes, I force myself to look, instead, at the amazing abundance in my life, and all the things I have to be grateful for. Doing that actually does help a lot, even when my climb out of the rat-hole seems impossible.

So this morning, this absolutely, drop-dead-gorgeous autumn morning in beautiful Portland, Oregon, I will share my list of Things I'm Thankful For (even though I ended that phrase with a preposition).

  • My husband, whose unfailing love and support keep me going every day. David, I can't imagine life without you.
  • My son, Zack, who now lives a scant five miles away, and who is willing to meet his old mom for lunch once a week. Seeing your smiling face lights up my life, my son, more than you can imagine.
  • Emily, Zack's sweetie, whose love makes him happier than I've seen him. Thank you, Emily!
  • Frank, my son's dad, whose love for Zack helped us all navigate through some tough times. Frank, I'll always be grateful to you.
  • My small-but-beloved birth family. I love you all very, very much, and am so glad that we can stay connected through email, even though we live a continent apart.
  • The Dunning clan - all of them - for accepting me into their family with such unconditional love. You guys are the BEST!
  • My friends - here in Portland, in the Bay Area, back east, wherever. Whenever I get crazy about finances and the future, I think about the true 'wealth' in my life, and realize that I'm rich beyond words when I consider my friends. I sure do love you guys, too!
  • Our three kitties - Sam, Harley and Caruso. I love you little furry creatures, even when I'm greeted with a pile of cat-puke first thing in the morning (like this morning!). There's nothing better to counteract the blues than snuggling with a warm, purring kitty.
  • Our beautiful, whimsical, colorful home. I spend a lot of time here, and it's about the best place to be on house-arrest that I can imagine.
  • The ability to volunteer, even a little, with organizations that matter to me. Whether I'm petting cats or doing a little writing for Onward Oregon, being able to contribute a tiny bit to my community is a real blessing.
  • Living here in Portland, a city of communities, where commitment to maintaining a livable environment is still a core value (and the politics are Blue!).

Whew. Okay, that's enough for now. I could probably keep going, but you get the idea. Everything I wrote about is a rung on the Ladder of Abundance that I can use to hoist myself up out of a rat-hole back into a brighter reality. So thank you for helping me!

And have the happiest Thanksgiving ever!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Rumors to the contrary...

...I'm still alive.

The thing is, there's not much new here at Rancho Dleepow del Norte, so every time I've begun a post here, my internal dialog goes something like this:

"Who's gonna care what your stupid back yard looks like? Probably no one. I mean, how many times can you write about the way the trees look or the squirrel who has figured out how to circumvent the 'squirrel-proof' bird feeder or how much you love autumn in Portland?"

"Hmmm. Good point. I'll log out instead."

And I leave Blogger and do some fantasy online shopping for a while.

But several of my friends have mentioned in email that they check the blog regularly and wonder if I'm okay (this is what happens when you're a life-long extrovert - silence implies disaster!), so I'm here to report that I'm doing as well as an almost-sixty-year-old women (gasp) with Multiple Sclerosis can do. The truth is, as I think about it, a lot has happened in the weeks since I posted here, but I'm not sure how much of it I can (1) remember and (2) seems worthy of sharing here.

One very recent event, however, is haunting me. I received an email from a friend/ex-colleague, letting me know that the 23-year-old son of another colleague had been killed in Afghanistan on November 9th. Twenty-three years old. My beloved son will turn twenty-three on his next birthday.
Sean, the young man who was killed this month, was married in January 2007. His wife will give birth to their child in February, 2008. And he's gone - killed while on patrol in Afghanistan, along with four of his fellow soldiers. Just - gone.

Can I tell you that this is a parent's worst nightmare?

When I first held my son, I was almost overwhelmed by the rush of love I felt for him. I'd never felt anything like that before, and could hardly believe how deeply I loved that tiny, red-faced little guy. I still love him like that - a deep, fierce, protective love that often feels overwhelming. I worry when he doesn't reply to emails (even though I remind myself that he's very introverted!) or when he doesn't call for a week or so. I cannot imagine living with the the unending fear that all the parents with beloved children in Afghanistan and Iraq must contend with each and every day. It is beyond heartbreaking.


Do you ever wonder how the President and his band of merry men sleep at night? I sure do.