Friday, June 19, 2015

Big Fish -

Braggart Edward Bloom is dying, and his son, Will, wants to know "the truth," of his father's life. Edward has a tendency to exaggerate, elaborate, and embellish the stories he tells his son, to the point that Will doesn't want another story, he wants the facts.

Perhaps you've seen "Big Fish." One of my favorite movies, even though I don't care for fantasy, and I prefer facts. But sometimes it takes embellishment, a touch of fantasy, to bring the reality to life. Hey?

So whose story is truth and whose is fiction, and who is to determine this? The owner of the story. We can ask for more information, for elaboration, and then - why not enjoy the journey.
If you haven't seen Big Fish, or a close second, "Stardust," do so. You'll be taken on quite the ride, and you'll be changed.

I'm off for a few days - gonna go on my own adventure - to where? I'll let you know when I return.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Growing Trees -

What's on your mind these days? Oh, on mine, you ask? Well -

Growing - that's on my mind, a lot, these days. Me, adult children, grandchildren, aging parents, nieces and nephews, and trees.

My trees are getting so big! When Scott and I first moved into our home we were mesmerized by the little saplings planted around our yard, and we wondered if they would ever grow, if they would ever be big enough to amount to anything, in our life time.

We wondered if we'd be able to give them the nourishment they'd need to grow. Wondered if we'd water them deep rather than shallow, wondered if they'd have strong roots and trunks, or if we'd need to stake them up. Wondered if they'd withstand wind and stand tall or bend in the wind, and never straighten. Some trees have grown pretty quickly, others have taken their time. And they've surprised us - sitting on the deck the other evening we were excited to see the tree we didn't think would ever amount to much giving us the shade we needed to peacefully enjoy the evening without the sun beating down on us.

We have had to cut down a few trees - have professionals cut them down - they grew so fast, shallow roots, runners popping up all over the yard. They were tall, but we were afraid one day a storm would come up, and they'd be laying across our yard and on our roof.

We have 3 trees that are the same, flowering pear, and they have a beautiful springtime blossom, and they stink like dirty diapers, and they bear tiny tiny fruit the birds like and our driveway doesn't. All of our other trees, more than a dozen, are different from each other - red bud, Japanese maple, white willow, Blue Spruce; we have a symphony of trees that blend their blossoms and leaf colors and leaf shapes into a beautiful song, yet hold their own.

Our trees allow us to see the leaves, the entire tree, to look through, up, and beyond. There is optimism in planting and growing a tree. I like that. 

Life - hey? Growth? Moving onward, forward, upward? 

 The beauty of taking this shot is I had to be on my back, in the warm green grass to take this photo. What a treat! I stayed for a bit. 

Monday, June 15, 2015

Replies -

Thank you to all of you who emailed me with your thoughts. They are healing and friending, and I appreciate that so very much. Just a few of these - 

From Vicki - 

“There comes a time when the world gets quiet and the only thing left is your own heart. So you'd better learn the sound of it. Otherwise you'll never understand what it's saying.” Sarah Dessen, Just Listen

From Sheri - 

I'm sorry, these feelings are real and sometimes sucky! I think there are many stages in life as well as tragedies, losses, and changes that bring about this emptiness of where am I. I'm experiencing a bit of that right now, empty nest, end of school year... It's not the first week,first month, first year. It's after the relief settles, the newness leaves, or the nesting finishes. It's kind of like a birth without a baby to bring home. Things are supposed to be okay and will be, but how and when will I get there I don't know or sometimes comprehend. I'm not certain if everyone experiences this, but I think your/our need to have a schedule and a plan are part of a coping mechanism and sometimes that delays or interrupts what could be a more natural cycle. My thoughts :)

From Betty - 

Ah, peace within the journey... "The human experience".  It is so fucking difficult! 
I wish I could understand better what you are going through.  I have no personal experience with cancer in my own body.  Each cancer in my family has ended in death, so living beyond the trauma of treatment and recovery is something I cannot understand.  Though I certainly understand the prospect of trying to move on after your life has been forcibly altered. 
The only thing I can offer, it seems, is support for your feelings.  No matter what, your feelings are valid and an important part of healing.  Also, I can applaud you for your bravery in sharing your story.  It seems demons lurk larger when you carry them alone.  Hopefully that act alone will provide some catharsis. 
I believe in being a good listener (trying) and not sharing unsolicited advise.  But please allow me to share my creed of late, if you will:  Every joy and every trauma we experience contributes to the sweet amalgam, the glorious patina of imperfection that makes us who we are.  It is this very angst that allows us to reach other people in profound ways.  

Always nice to know you're not alone - thank you. 

Thursday, June 11, 2015

One, Two, Buckle My Shoe. Three -

I spend some time giving grief counseling. I share with my clients how trauma knows no boundaries - no time frame, and that they'll never know when they may be hit by realities and memories of moments of loss. The loss never leaves, but our ability to handle that loss does increase - as time goes on. One moment we're deep in tears, the next we're laughing. One moment we're having a wonderful time living in the moment, and the next we're aching and feeling guilty for the pleasure we were receiving. I "know" this. I teach this. In fact, I've practiced this in various situations - death, separation, divorce, and of course, cancer. 

I remember waking up one day having just moved out of my Springville home. In the early dawn I made a list in my head of "issues" that needed to be resolved. But as I rubbed the sleep from my eyes I realized there were no issues - reality, loss, grief, and happiness, and then guilt for this happiness were all emotions that quickly ran through me. 

I separated from a dear friend, and there were days when I wondered if the grief and loss would ever lessen. I walked under this cloud of loss and lost for days and days and days. And then one day I was working on a project that required concentration, and I was happy and creating, and it was like "oops, I forgot to think about you," and wow, what a relief that was. And the hours turned into days, weeks, and I'm not into months, 12 years later (anniversary of this encounter is June 13), but I can go without thinking, remembering, or feeling this loss. 

It's the same way with divorce. Although I quickly remarried after my divorce, I was still in a place of turmoil, not knowing how to move forward while still sorting out the past. And then one day I didn't think about the past, only the present, and there was relief, and I knew life would move on, and I could heal. 

I've mentioned before about telling two friends how I wanted to live my cancer journey to the fullest, so I wouldn't have to ever go through this again. And one friend said, "You will always be learning from your experience. It's the journey." 

The past 3 years have been beyond hard. The only thing I've experienced that made me ache like my cancer journey has was the two year separation from my son, Tyler, while he was serving his LDS mission in Hawaii. And while the days got better as I counted down to the day he came home, I missed him dearly. Life was never the same when he came home - he had plans, we had changed, he was a fish out of water trying to figure out where he fit, we were trying to find a place for this new Tyler, one who had been changed, had changed, and didn't even know what to do with himself. Nor us him. And I grieved the Tyler of two years prior and what I had missed out on. And he grieved that life had gone on around him, and he was the one who had to figure out where he fit.

So here's my conundrum - I counted the days until my cancer treatments were finished, marked the final dates on my calendar, and counted down. But I can't count down my grieving, my loss, and my separation and sorrow. My anger some days is beyond anything I've ever felt, the anxiety about moving forward can be paralyzing.

A friend shared this with me a couple of weeks ago:

Anyway she said the worst adjustment a Breast Cancer survivor has to make is not during surgery or treatment ... but rather the years following treatment. During treatment the woman is learning how to survive, she is fighting for her life. The year following treatment she is learning how to "live". You have probably heard this before. I just wanted you to know I am thinking of you and support you on this life journey. Live girl live. 

Those folks I counsel? I tell them - the first year is filled with grief as we look back - anniversaries, missed birthdays, an empty chair. The second year we begin to feel guilty that we missed an anniversary, didn't acknowledge a memory. 

But I'm here to tell you - and I will share this as I move forward - the third year is a bitch. 

What does "move forward" look like? I'm healed, I'm strong, now what? The third year is when learning how to live comes into full effect, and there is no handbook, no support group, no methodology for someone who has lost a part of themselves (limb or loved one) that explains the third year. "Move on," they say. "Get a life," I've heard. "It was just cancer," "But you look so healthy," "You don't even look like anything happened to you," are just some of the statements that go around for those who are grieving and don't even know it. 

These reminders are constant - and just when I am not thinking about breast cancer or a f*'d up career, or a loss of a dream, someone says, "Wow, you look so good for what you've been through." And I want to beat them, because as kind as they are attempting to be, this reminder is always there - if not in myself, then in the eyes and words of some kind soul just sharing. 

And the world moved on without me, and I have to try and figure out where this new Ronda fits, and I'm still grieving the loss of the old Ronda. 

So that third year - what does it look like? Hell if I know. I'll tell you in 11 months! 

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Lists - and Dreams -

I'm a list maker - on paper, in my mind, in piles sitting on my desk and in my craft room. Grocery, tasks, schedule, syllabus, are just a few of the type of lists I make. I typically use a torn off piece of paper rather than some formal lined and itemized paper. I think that's because I want my list to stay informal and flexible - taking off and putting on as needed. I write my lists in pen, but I keep "white out" nearby, and I often use it when I'm making changes - I don't like seeing what I "was doing/needing" but changed as a crossed out or accomplished item. My lists are typically private, kept on my desk, on my calendar, or in a notebook of things I need to be doing at work. Make sense?

However, there have been some lists I haven't made.

While in Colorado a couple of weeks ago, Scott and I drove from Durango to Silverton to Ouray. What a beautiful drive! Windy high roads, narrow in some places, and spectacular. At one point we were 10,000 ft. above sea level.

As we came down from the last summit, we drove into a beautiful mountain town, Ouray, CO. We were surprised and delighted by this beautiful place. We wandered the main street, chatted with a couple of shop owners, and had a great time hearing about "why I live in Ouray." I tell you, if I had to pick a village to live in, this would be on my "list."

At one darling shop I found a blanket with this saying on it:

Within your heart keep one still, secret spot where dreams may go, and sheltered where doubt and fear are not. Oh, keep a place within your heart, for little dreams to go. (Louise Driscoll)

Words have a way of working on me. I love art - high and folk, but I adore language. And these words hit my heart so hard and fast that I was in tears and sobbing before I knew what had happened to me. 

This is when I realized what has been missing in my life; I have struggled this winter and spring with some depression, feeling something was missing, a piece of me out of place, and here was the missing piece. I was missing one list - a list of dreams, of future, of hope, of wishes. 

So I made a list of things I want to do this summer - because writing down these hopes turns them into dreams, which turns them into reality - if - I - so - choose - but it's the dreaming that I've been missing out on. And I think I'll make a list of those secret dreams, in my heart, because we all have dreams; I used to dream, and I need to start that process - again.

RSandRB Performing Friday Night in Orem as part of Orem's Summerfest
This song is also a "graduation" piece. 

Here's the rest of that poem; Driscoll (1875-1957) was a teacher in New York. She wrote a few poems, but this one seems to have lived on. In its entirety, or portions of it, are often recited at graduations. I think I'll graduate - to dreams! 

Hold fast your dreams!

Within your heart
Keep one still, secret spot
Where dreams may go,
And, sheltered so,
May thrive and grow
Where doubt and fear are not.
O keep a place apart,
Within your heart,
For little dreams to go!

Think still of lovely things that are not true.
Let wish and magic work at will in you.
Be sometimes blind to sorrow. Make believe!
Forget the calm that lies
In disillusioned eyes.
Though we all know that we must die,
Yes you and I
May walk like gods and be
Even now at home in immortality.

We see so many ugly things—
Deceits and wrongs and quarrelings;
We know, alast we know
How quickly fade
The color in the west,
The bloom upon the flower,
The bloom upon the breast
And youth's blind hour.
Yet keep within your heart
A place apart
Where little dreams may go,
May thrive and grow.
Hold fast—hold fast your dreams! 

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Death - Joe, Jean, Joyce

Over the past few days I've lost 3 loved ones, all who have impacted my life in different and powerful ways.

First, Joe Wilson. Joe had a profound impact on the folklore and national heritage world. He preserved, and then presented, the music of the folk, particularly Appalachian music. Joe was a folklorist, a musician, an advocate for folk arts, and a very dynamic man. In the few times I had the opportunity to be around this man I was either laughing, intensely listening, or shaking my head at the phrases he would come up with - all a part of his rich life, for which he didn't apologize. He didn't stop, even when kidney failure got the best of him.He did what he loved, loved what he did, and changed my world. He was a man of brutal honesty and passion. He passed away on May 18, 2015.

Musician Jean Ritchie died on June 2, 2015. Ritchie was often called "the voice of the Appalachians." She will be remembered for her mountain dulcimer revival and her honest mountain voice. After taking a few professional voice lessons, her father asked her if she was sick, because her voice didn't sound well. She quit those lessons and sang with her authentic voice. Her preservation of folk tunes, her performing, and her recording of these tunes, will have an impact on this country for years to come. she also played a role in the establishment of the National Endowments for the Arts.While I never heard her live, I have a mountain dulcimer, made from walnut, in Mississippi, from a gentleman who made a few of Ritchie's dulcimers. I don't play it, but I own it, and I appreciate the music, and think of Ritchie whenever I hear this instrument. I love this song, Barbara/Barbry Allen. 

My aunt, Joyce Noma Marriott, passed away on June 2, 2015. Aunt Joyce was my Jr. High School English teacher. She was dark-haired, petite, bold, a tiny bit scary, and not afraid of anything. Or at least that is how I'll remember her. In Jr. High I made the mistake one day of raising my hand and saying, "Aunt Joyce . . . " and her reply - "In this class I am Mrs. Marriott." She didn't embarrass me or herself, but pointed out there was a difference between her roles in my life. I liked that - a person could wear two hats.
Mrs. Marriott taught me how to diagram sentences, love the sound of language, and she was so proud of me becoming a folklorist and English professor. Aunt Joyce taught me how to reach out to others, be involved in the community, and pray, in tandem, that God could hear two voices at the same time. She and my Uncle George prayed together at my parent's home one morning, and while Uncle George gave the prayer, Aunt Joyce added, and the prayer was cute, touching, and I felt the Spirit there as they prayed together.

I will miss Aunt Joyce; I will miss Joe Wilson; I will miss Jean Ritchie. Yet they live on in the lives of those they interacted with - close by and far away. Isn't that beautiful - reincarnation at its essence - we live on because we interact, we share, we teach, we touch.

Will the Circle Be Unbroken - 

Monday, June 1, 2015

Dick Van Dyke and Marriage -

Scott and I spent the last week in Western Colorado. We had a great time. Not a single tense moment, and we were inseparable the entire time.

We get back home and the worries of "reality" get in our way, and we get tense, and the lightheartedness that was so strong while on "vacation" quickly dissipates.

Reminders to never stop dancing - even when we're home, and to treat each other as the other would want to be treated seem to always be necessary.

Why, oh why, do vacation and home have to be so different? Can't being home be the vacation?