A Change in Attitude

Monday I went in search for rhubarb. Did you know that Washington State is a prime producer of rhubarb? I did not know this but as I drive or bike around the island I have noticed the Rhubarb for Sale signs at the end of driveways. I love rhubarb. This rhubarb search started because of a recipe published in the New York Times for Vanilla Bean Rhubarb Cobbler. There is rhubarb growing where I am house sitting but not enough.

I have been feeling a bit lonely and out of sorts for the past few days. I have been feeling sorry for myself. I find it hard to be solo in a society that favors couples and relationships. This is not my world. I am not sure what my world should be. Covid has made me even more confused and lost. This was my mood as I ventured off to find rhubarb.

My day changed. My attitude shifted.

My first stop was a farm stand with a coffee stand, produce and plants for the garden. The two women behind the coffee cart helped me weigh out the rhubarb. We chatted and laughed. I ordered a cup of coffee and then discovered this was a brand new enterprise, having only been open for two days. We talked about living in an RV and house sitting. They were so kind and helpful and my attitude shifted with this momentary conversation and feeling of worthiness. Happily with rhubarb in hand, I departed.

My mini-aventure in happiness and self worth continued.

I am having a major issue with my refrigerator door. It kind of fell off because of broken plastic parts that have worn with time. Buying a new door is expensive. I am a do it myself kind of woman and I have decided that I want to try to fix it. I have been studying this door and thinking. Today since I was near Home Depot I thought I would walk in with my door in hand and ask some of the experts.

I was standing in the aisle with all the nuts and bolts and doing the Home Depot stare. The stare was something I learned from Jim and I often notice it on people, especially men in these kind of stores. Now I do it too.

This man in an orange top was walking down the aisle. I assumed he was an employee. I stopped him and started to ask for his help. He said he was busy and left. A few minutes later he returned and asks me about the door. I showed it to him and explained the problem. I need to figure out some way to secure the door and replace or fix the broken parts. He looked at it for a few minutes and came up with a suggestion. The first idea didn’t pan out so we started talking it through again and he came up with a great idea and even better, one I can do myself.

I took a close look at him and realized he was not wearing a Home Depot employee vest or work uniform. He had an orange safety vest on. I said to him “you don’t work here do you?”. He smiled and said no. He works contract for the military in Oak Harbor. He said that people often mistake him for a employee of Home Depot as he frequents the store as part of his job. Sean and I had a great conversation and he figured out a solution to the issue at hand. He made my day. I was so surprised that he came back to help me. The smallest interactions sometimes offer the greatest rewards.

I now have a plan and hopefully the door will be fixed within the week.

Since I was in Oak Harbor and had not really visited this part of the Island I looked at a map and figured out how to take the backroads close to the west side of the Island on my return Greenbank. I discovered Joseph Whidbey State Park. Every State Park I have been to in Washington is very pretty. This park did not disappoint. I hiked a short trail to the beach and started to stroll up the beach. As I walked by a family, two adults and two children, the woman got up, with mask in place and asked me if I was looking for agates. They proceeded to show me all the agates they had found and told me it was a hobby that everyone enjoyed. She guaranteed that I would find some. Well she was wrong, however, I was given the gift of another momentary interaction that made me feel unique and worthy.

Searching for Agates

I have my rhubarb and a plan of action for my refrigerator door repair. I certainly have a much better attitude and outlook than when I left home this morning. Sometimes the smallest interactions are the mightiest. I came home feeling happy after a fun-filled day of small interactions with other people. My self worth had increased and I currently find no traces of my morning attitude. It helped to be out in nature for part of the day. I saw some new birds which is always exciting. I have also discovered another park that I would like to go back and explore more. Maybe I will find an agate.

Today I am thankful for the unseen guidance that puts me in the right place to receive what I need at this moment in time. Today I am grateful for all the tiny moments given to me by others to brighten my day and my awareness. Today I am Thankful.

A New Month-Moving Forward

December third will mark a month since Elsie took off. There have been sightings. I have answered every one. I have met some very nice people and seen some sweet kitties, yet all of them are not my cat. Sigh. I have become intimately familiar with the shelters in the county and the numerous web sites that help people find their animals. Cats and dogs go missing and so do parakeets, bunnies, geese, and pigs.

I know you all wish me well. I know that all those good thoughts and prayers are being sent out to support her return and to support me. I want you to continue to do this, yet what I need now is to not dwell on it so much. The longer she is gone the less is the likely-hood of her return. I need to get my life organized as a truly solo person. Could I ask you to continue to pray for her and me without letting me know with each blog post or a facebook post? Each time I see that someone is praying for her safe return or to support me, it puts me into a sad place and I need to go there less. I need to look ahead while hoping for her safe return.

I am staying in San Diego for another month at least. I still have doctors and dentists appointments to contend with. Most of them are complete and I still have some major decisions ahead. Yep, that is correct, the rest of my life is moving forward, just minus my little kitty.

Janet & Pat

Just before the Thanksgiving holiday, I was given a surprise visit by a fellow Roadtreking friend. Pat lives on the San Juan Islands off of Washington State. She is on a several month drive-about of the west visiting family and friends. Knowing that she would be close, she decided to come and give me a pick-me-up and a diversion. It was delightful to see her and her two pups. We talked and caught up and broke bread together. I am glad she thought enough of me to rescue me from a serious case of the doldrums. It was a good couple of days.

I successfully made it through Thanksgiving. I had some interesting offers come in for my plea not to be alone for Thanksgiving and Christmas. I had to say no to some, as they were not local and I have made a commitment to myself and Elsie to give her two months.

I actually had three Thanksgiving dinners. Santee Lakes, where I am camped, had a potluck on Wednesday night.

On Thursday I went to dinner at my friend and one of the best yoga instructors around, Lisa’s home. Along with 19 others, I celebrated in an intimate delightful setting. We feasted well. The food and the company were warm and receptive. I am glad I stretched myself a bit and enjoyed this holiday with others. Thank you, Lisa.

Yesterday saw my third helping of turkey served at a good friend’s house here in San Diego. Cynthia and Ward had a full dinner with all the fixings. Dinner was followed by a movie and pumpkin pie. Their home is always welcoming and open to me. I am glad Cynthia and Ward are friends.

Christmas is next. I am going to remember to breath my way through this holiday. I gave up giving presents many years ago. That took a lot of stress off my plate right away. No more late-night trips to the stores so I could go shopping when there was not a hoard of people around. No more calling my family to ask what they wanted for Christmas and then buying them gift cards. All of this has allowed me to breath more and stress less.

It is so much more joyful for me, during this month, to take time to enjoy people’s company. Going on a hike or walk, strolling along the waterfront, enjoying a good meal and conversation is a gift I can really enjoy. Would you care to join me? It would be delightful to catch up with close friends, fellow tour guides and acquaintances. Let’s take a walk or get a cup of coffee. I am open to unique suggestions as well.

And for all of you who are further away, I will carry you in my mind and heart. That is sometimes the closest that one can get. I look forward to future visits to those far away places.

Today I am thankful. This month I am thankful for friends and family, for those, I have met and for those, I will meet. Always, I am thankful to breath.

 

 

 

Bearing Witness

For twelve years I was an attendee of the local San Diego Society of Friends, more commonly referred to as the Quakers. Bearing Witness is an important part of their belief and practice.

“Bearing witness is largely nonverbal. It is being a compassionate observer to the unfolding of another person’s life or a particular moment or event.” The Power of Bearing Witness”-Judith Johnson

We, all of us, at some point or another in our lives come upon crisis, large or small, good or not so good, it really makes no difference. When crisis or trauma unfolds I believe that it is helpful to have those around us who can bear witness for each other. Sometimes we help each other sort through our feelings. More often we become someone who listens and observes while the other person speaks freely from their heart. Some times it is a quiet role of helping to hold the space so the other person can take care of the business at hand.

Guests at a wedding are bearing witness. Any time any of us gather in small or large groups we bear witness to that event in time. 

“When we bear witness, we lovingly give our attention to the other without judgment. We comfort without smothering. We play a supporting role — powerfully upholding the other starring in his or her life. It is not about us. It is about them. Yet, we make a profound decision when we do not try to fix their pain and suffering or share in their experience by telling how we had a similar experience. Bearing witness says, “You are not alone. I see you. I witness what you are experiencing. What you are experiencing matters to me. I surround you with my love.” The Power of Bearing Witness-Judith Johnson

Recently I was reminded again of the importance of bearing witness. A good and dear friend of mine received some painful news. Most of the day was spent on the phone and speaking with others. I began during this process to become aware of my role, bearing witness. Being in the immediate environment, as a witness to this time, I held the space so that she could make the phone calls she needed to. It felt important to let her know she was in a kind and loving space and she could take care of business. When and if she was ready, I was there for her to talk with. I was bearing witness.

One of my favorite quotes is “We are just walking each other home”. I believe we bear witness or honor the other person and know we are each on the same path, even though we may have different directions to get there. There is nothing more honorable and special in my heart than to help each other through all the different times in our lives.

 

Many have born witness for me over the past four and half years since my husband, Jim’s death. My community of friends has grown stronger. I am only now, beginning to recognize the importance that their role was for me in those first few years after he died. Most of these friends began to bear witness for me and Jim together when I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I appreciate now, how much each person has offered to me. Some gave me space to talk and cry. Others kept me distracted, playing games, going to the movies, seeing an art exhibit. All of this support offered me space to grieve and begin to heal. We do this for each other. Sometimes it is all any of us can do.

There are many sides to bearing witness. I have become more conscious of this roll as I have matured. Although Jim’s death was hard, I still see that time as something I am so grateful for. We were all right there in the moment. It was special, unique, sad, loving and every other emotion the world. All of us that were with him until the moment of his death were bearing witness to a very special moment in time.  I may not always be happy with the outcome yet I am so thankful for the moment.

Lately I have been having these flashes of the events of the day he died.  They arrive, quite unexpectedly and then within seconds they are gone. I am left sitting at a stoplight in wonder. I feel that I am finally able to sift through that day, those events, without pain. The fact that these moments come quickly and leave quickly is important. I feel that these moments have been creating space for me to consider such topics as “Bearing Witness”.

Today I am thankful for those who have actively and not so actively held the space for me. I am thankful for the times I have held the space for others. I am thankful for Bearing Witness.