Saturday, August 21

"Decide what to be and go be it."

I heart The Avett Brothers. I'm a fairly recent convert but it's official... I love, love, love them. Here is a mesmerizing video of their song Head Full of Doubt/Road Full of Promise. (Apologies for the dumb banners at the bottom.)

I also really like I and Love and You:

Monday, August 16

White Tablecloths

I took the day off today. I had originally planned on going to Burke Williams Spa with Mom but we decided to just go to lunch together instead. Mom said that she wanted to go to a place with white tablecloths and Monrovia seemed to be the most convenient option today. We have been to T Philips before and really enjoyed it but it's casual (no white tablecloths) and sometimes loud. Instead, we decided on Cafe Opera. I hadn't been there for years but it sounded good to me. We wound up getting the best salad I've ever had. I know, I know, what could be so great about a salad? Well let me tell you. We both ordered the salad off the specials menu. It was grilled shrimp on a bed of greens with fresh mango, watermelon, avocado and hearts of palm with an incredible citrus dressing. (Sorry Shandon, this probably doesn't sound tempting to you but it was great!). It was the perfect lunch for this very hot day. Mom and I had a really nice time.

After lunch we were going to walk over to the new library but it was just too hot. I'll check it out another time. I'm mostly interested because I hear the city built this library with a bond passed by locals because the state just couldn't get its act together. When the project came in under budget the city returned the remaining funds to its tax payers. I have never heard of that happening. If you ask me the City of Monrovia should be running the state.

I also hear that there is a farmer's market next to the library every Sunday morning. The Friday night Farmer's Market is really more of an open air market or crafts and stuff. Last time I went Shandon, Howard and I finally found produce at the end of the street. The Sunday market is supposed to be produce only. Sign me up!

I love Old Town Monrovia. I'd love to live nearby because it's got a grocery store, two farmer's markets, a movie theater, the new library and multiple restaurants within it's handful of small town blocks. What more could a girl need? Well, maybe an independent bookstore but that's about all it's missing.

Who's up for a trip to Old Town with me?

Sunday, August 15

Within these walls

As mentioned a few posts ago, I'm working on living a more gentle life. I'm still not getting up early every day but I certainly do it more often than I used to. I get up early when I feel as though it isn't a chore to do so. Mostly I've gotten up to feed some birds then write in a journal. Today I got up and did some weeding. I'm sorry to say that I have never done that before. I'm sorry because it was incredibly therapeutic. It was a little before 7:00 am when I stepped foot outside. I spent a tranquil 20 minutes tidying up the rose beds. It looks much better now. I'll be tackling another flower bed tomorrow morning. I think this helps me feel closer to Dad. He was always an early riser and I'm beginning to understand why.

We've been receiving such wonderful cards from his friends and colleagues. One nice man, who met Dad a few months ago on a job site, wrote that Dad was able to quietly observe things in a way nobody else could. Dad somehow saw things in the middle of construction sites that nobody else would ever catch. I often saw him sit quietly observing the natural world around him. He seemed to draw his energy from the outdoors. I've never seen anyone else get still like Dad could. He could block out all of the chaos and noise and observe the peace around him. It was a skill that I'm hoping to achieve one of these days.

My natural skill is to block out the noise of the world while I'm reading. Although I was raised in a household of only 4 people it could often get very noisy. As a result, I learned to block out noise and focus on a book. As an adult I'm still able to block out noise, to a fault, when I'm focusing on something. Now my trouble is reading while stressed out. I find that my mind wanders when stress is present. If I can read for long stretches of time it's a sign that I'm feeling well. After and couple of months not reading so much I'm getting back to it but in small doses. Most recently I had been reading The Forgotten Garden. It suddenly seemed very appealing again so I picked up where I left and I'm really enjoying it.

After a very long day, let's just say that I helped out with a Mexican Booze Cruise Baby Shower (umm, yeah... more on that later), I was exhausted. I came home, took a shower and plopped down on the couch to watch the original film adaptation of The Secret Garden. It really is an oldie but a goodie. A dear friend gave me that book when I was about 8 years old. Ever since I first read it it's been my dream to live in a little cottage within the walls of a secret garden. *sigh* Maybe some day.

Seinfeld remains somehow soothing to me these days. I've also discovered some surprise airings of Barney Miller on WGN that make me very happy. My Tivo never seems to be able to locate these airings in advance but they seem to show up occasionally on Sunday evenings. I'd forgotten how much I like that show. They are genuinely funny and sweet and don't even get me started on that phenomenal theme song. They are also, mercifully, available on Hulu. I've Netflix'd the 30 year old episodes of Upstairs, Downstairs. I remember my parents and their best friends obsessing over that show when I was very young. It moves at a deceptively slow pace but there is scandal galore. I like watching it right before bed. I hear that PBS and The BBC have teamed up to produce an Upstairs, Downstairs sequel set to air in 2011. Yea! Mad Men remains the highlight of my television week. It's still so much fun.

I've been catching helpful hints on slowing down and living a more simple life on some good blogs. A new favorite is ZenHabits. SlowDownNow is also becoming a good resource.

If you have any suggestions for living a more tranquil life please let me know. I'd love your suggestions.

Thursday, August 5

Let it loose, let it all come down

Last night I sent an email to some of Mom's out of state family letting them know that she was ok. Around 11:00 I received a reply from one of her beloved cousins. He sent an incredibly kind reply telling me about what a wonderful visit they had with Mom and Dad the week before Dad died. It sounds as though he really understood Dad and came to love him in the few hours they had together. I don't even know what happened next, I just lost it. The tremendous loss of Daddy finally came crashing down on me. I thought of that Rolling Stones song Let it Loose (one of my all time faves) and I followed Mick's advice... I REALLY let it loose. The song isn't even about my kind of loss, I think it's really about being in love from afar or some dumb thing. Anyway, I listened to the end of that song "Let it loose, let it all come down. Let it loose let it all come down" and cried and cried and cried for about 45 minutes. I was wondering when that would happen. I knew it was coming, I was just hoping it wouldn't hit me while I was at work. I never cry for more than a few minutes at a time. I just never have it in me. It felt good. I finally dragged myself off to bed at midnight and slept soundly. That's the other thing, all I have to do is cry a single tear and I'm exhausted. This, of course, means I've been sleeping very soundly.

Then, like a freak, a whole playlist of songs ran through my head. Well, mostly titles of songs ran through my head. I came up with a pretty good list but it's not one I could listen to straight through... ever. Not anymore.

I thought of Brandi Carlile's Downpour and how those are words Dad would say to me if he could. Listen if you dare. It kills me but I do find comfort in the words of this gorgeous song.

I thought of Drops of Jupiter by Train. I heard the singer wrote the song after his mother died, I've loved it ever since because I adore the imagery. Buckets of Rain/Dylan, Fix You/Coldplay, Cry Baby/Joplin, Landslide/Fleetwood Mac and on and on flew through my head. 100 Years anyone? All kinds of hell broke loose. My brain turned into a God damned sad FM line up. It was a nightmare. Most of those songs have nothing to do with what I'm feeling but they swirled through my head anyway. Why did my head do that to me?

I was still a little shaky when I woke up this morning, and even considered not going to work, but I figured I have to learn to do this. I forced down the lump in my throat and went to work. I'm glad I did. It's my first full week back. I've been getting things done but a lot of time has gone to seeing people who stop by to check on me. It's so sweet of everyone but it's hard to get much done. I'm guessing it will be more normal next week.

Before Dad died I was looking into starting therapy. My blood pressure is suddenly an issue and three doctors have told me it's entirely work stress related. I work for a company that at least seems to grasp the pressure people are under. About every other month we get an email reminding us that we have 5 free visits to a counselor to deal with whatever issues we may be having. I finally called a couple of months ago. I didn't get a good vibe from the first person I called. The second therapist seemed very nice, very organized and followed up with me right when I needed her. I had my first meeting with her this afternoon. It was just a session to gather my history and to make sure we were both comfortable with each other. We were very comfortable with each and I'll be going back. I have no idea what we'll talk about since I feel as though I've already given her my life history. God knows I'm a talker so I'm sure we'll figure it out.

Until then, I'm still breathing. I'm still just facing this grief and letting it wash over me at every high tide. So far it feels right.