be a valentine
While I know may who avoid celebrating Valentine's Day, I don't believe this has to be the case simply because we are "single". While I am in a relationship this year, I learned a long time ago that if we don’t HAVE a Valentine, we can BE a Valentine!
Having weathered, enjoyed and spent numerous holidays alone over the years, I can share honestly that it does help to focus on another when we are feeling low. Truly, there are numerous many ways to open the flow of love when we decide to BE THE LOVE!
practice the pause
I am not in a good space. Then again, I'm not in a horrible space either.
I am, however, in a changing landscape of confidence, unforgiving doubt, rolling anxiety, simple laughter, and a relentless urge for change.
But, change what?
I'm well aware that there are times in this existence where change for change's sake is good. It's how I picked my first college, ended-up a Communications major, landed in Florida after college, ended-up on a trip to Italy after my dad died.
However, after the past two+ years, I'm not so sure that my body could handle that, nor do I want to stress out the 16 yr old Sir Duncan (dog).
This time feels different, yet similar. As if lifetimes of pressure are building and I want to be FREE.
Free from the strife of modern cultural constraints. Free to be crazy me as much as I'm dependable me (I know...many who know me already think I'm pretty nuts...it's just the tip of the iceberg). To run like Gump (my knees bark at that). To DO SOMETHING. BE SOMETHING. TO BE SEEN AND HEARD in my entirety.
I've spent years being hired for my expertise only to have bosses or clients ignore what I say. I understand they are still paying me, but somehow that's not enough.
The odd thing is, I don't always know HOW I know what I know (especially true in my younger years when I had less experience), I just often know what to do.
I take that as God/Source/Universal Life Force/Collective Consciousness guiding me. Which makes it even more challenging when a client goes a different direction than what we discussed.
For my ego its, "You hired me as the expert, but then don't follow my guidance and now I have to handle the aftermath while you all look shocked."
For a deeper part of me it's simply pure frustration as I see all these amazing possibilities and they can't.
I see the missed opportunities and they think things are just fine. I feel how many people we could reach, help, the lives or communities we can transform...they don't even know the riches in front of their eyes.
This coupled with people (family, friends, loved ones, etc.), the restrictions of the past year+, cycles repeating and I want to jump free of this flesh, this life, this world and go somewhere where I can immerse myself it in more wholly.
Where I am seen in my fullness and listened to wholeheartedly. Where my stories are seen as the wise tales they are woven to be instead of words falling on deaf ears.
I want to walk among the creatives...those who write in colors, dance in waves and sing on the breeze. I want to breathe so deeply my heart and lungs burst from peace and love.
I want out of my human constraints of fear, paychecks and bills, processing through this body.
This human form, however, cannot go to these places...only the mind and spirit can. So, if you're like me, we trip the light fantastic while walking, meditating, doing self-Reiki, making love, being with loved ones, or even reading a book.
And, I pause. I remember I, like you, am made for these times (we know this because we are here, now).
My Popu always said when you don't know what to do, don't do anything. If you can't jump into something 100%, are unsure what to do, or you want to run and you want to stay...pause. Don't do anything you don't HAVE to do. Let the answers come to you.
Our culture says the opposite...try. Push. Do. If that doesn't work try harder, push harder, burn bridges, light up the freakin' night with your flames.
But, sometimes the pushing, trying, doing IS THE RUNNING, the hiding from what is being processed, brought up to be healed, nurtured and freed.
So, after a sleepless night (old dog Sir Duncan had issues) I didn't get up, pack the car and leave town. Nor did I text anyone or respond to texts.
I got up, drank some warm lemon water, worked-out and went for a stroll. And, wouldn't you know, after checking the veg garden and letting D stretch, I glanced up to see a pair of cardinals in the burnt-out tree.
The folksy wisdom side of me sighed as cardinals symbolize loved ones who have passed. The good Lord knows that the vast majority of my elders have crossed over, including my parents.
So, while I still have no idea what's going on in my life, I am at least wise enough to spot a sign from the universe when they fly over me! And, wait to burn bridges until I know I don't want to walk them again.
That my nearly 53 years on this rock have revealed up times, down times and the pressuring days of in-between where our best hope is to feel the intensity, ground as best with can while sitting in the squeeze, look for the signs and practice the pause.
Summer has hit in NE Ohio and true to the 2020-2021 strangeness, both Duncan (the dog) and I were bitten by ticks for the first time in our lives (he's about 16 and I'll be 53).
Of course, I'm aware of the seriousness of tick related diseases, especially in humans, and began to immediately investigate essential oils to use, as well as boost our immune systems.
Step two was to develop a non-toxic repellent to spray on us before we head out for walks. Five weeks after my bite and about three after his, we both seem to be okay and have not had further encounters with the creepy creatures.
The blend I used was based on something I found in Essential Oils Animal Desk Reference, online research, plus what I had in-stock at the house:
In a 4 oz spray bottle I mixed the carrier oil with the essential oils, then slowly added the Castile soap and gently stirred. Finally, I topped this with the Thieves cleaner + distilled water, covered it and shook-it-up.
We spray once daily on his legs and/or back and on my tennies before walking.
Thus far, we've remained both flea and tick-free. And, I also enjoy the added benefits of knowing this product is non-toxic and full of healing compounds that support overall health and well-being of body, mind and spirit.
Plus, we smell good!
If a child is blessed, there are a legion of aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents surrounding her as she grows-up.
In this respect, I've been blessed. Especially during my early years.
If you're really lucky, the relatives that get designated as "the ones" - the couple to care for you if some horrific tragedy takes both your parents simultaneously - are relatives that feel like home, a party, discipline and safety all wrapped in one.
Here, again, I was blessed.
I'm not sure how parents decide who will be the best choice in a sea of amazing loved ones, but I'd like to believe my Aunt Stella and Uncle Bud volunteered, maybe even "fought for the privilege."
In the end, having them as loved ones was one of the privileges of my life.
When I naively picked-up and moved to Florida after graduating college and not finding a local job, it somehow seemed okay because Aunt Stella and Uncle Bud would be spending time in the same area, too.
And, in many respects it was...especially knowing what I know now.
They gave me my independence, but kept close and watchful eyes on my life. This doubled when my sister moved down a few months later.
Before you know it, the parents also relocated.
In the end, I can only tell you that if you are family-oriented and never moved away from all those you know and love, you really can't imagine how life-affirming it feels to keep some traditions going with those who are so precious to you.
So, even when our paths diverged, we always kept coming back "home" to Aunt Stella and Uncle Bud's for celebrations - Easter, Christmas (if they weren't with their children in VA), birthdays and the sacred celebration of Thanksgiving!
For decades we drove from Ohio to Virginia to spend Thanksgiving weekend with my cousins, Aunt and Uncle. It was and remains my favorite holiday.
Please, do NOT picture some pristine family gathering of folks in suits or cocktail attire peacefully seated around the table.
First and foremost, we were vocal...to the point where one of my cousins' exes called us "Swiss Family Loud." Of course, I have always assumed all families were like this...(til I was married and it wasn't).
There were arguments. Loud, hours-long arguments. My cousin George with the patriarchs about politics and who knows what else. Who sat in the kitchen/at the kids table or who got to be at the adult/formal dining room table.
Lively "discussions" about when and how to stuff the turkey. Accusations of cheating leveled at the women when we always won Trivial Pursuit and Win Lose or Draw (Popu and his raccoon of shame with dagger nails but no mask).
There was the time that dad and Uncle Bud kept me up til about 2 a.m. arguing about saving seals, whales, ending nuclear war (whatever my passion was at the time)...I was exhausted, frustrated and, like the two of them, not willing to concede.
Then, mom stepped in and told me it was time to go to bed to which my dad and uncle chuckled, hugged and kissed me and sent me off to sleep with, "Good job. Go get some rest."
My aunt often told the story of when a neighbor stopped her in the driveway asking who the man was "fighting with Bud?" My aunt couldn't imagine what the guy was talking about... "When? Where?"
His response, "Now, in your yard!" "Oh, that's my brother...they're not fighting, their talking." Yes, YES, it was more often loud like this than not.
I pray I never forget Laura renting Jagged Edge and someone knocking on the front door during the most suspenseful part and everyone jumping, some screaming, all at the same time. Or, how the two men put Laura and Nanci's boyfriends through a torture test.
Of course, I'll always remember Uncle Bud's Charlie Brown Christmas Tree that we literally strung-up, tacking it to the wall and ceiling!
Coordinating drop-offs, parking and meet-ups at Tyson's Corner for the Day after Thanksgiving shopping extravaganzas (as an adult, I gotta wonder....I think the men went to a bar) before heading home to wait in line for use of the micro to "nuke" our leftovers (kids got to go first).
Uncle Bud's dislike of "plastic" milk and butter, plus disdain for cream of anything soup made into meal. Aunt Stella's "alfalfa tea" for upset stomachs and sleeping on the floor in Laura's room during visits.
Nanci taking us to Bloomie's for their "bloomers" - plus a cookie and sleepovers with sundaes. Laura swimming with us for hours on end and George's constant, "Do you have to use the bathroom - there's one right there?" when he took us to explore DC because his parents said we were shy and wouldn't ask.
I wonder if my brother remembers the time we were all in a passenger van heading downtown DC - maybe Capitol Fourth? - and he dropped the F-bomb without realizing it, repeatedly, and we all ended up (okay, not all - mom may have died still upset about this) laughing hysterically while he realized what he'd said and tried to get out of it.
Or, how their tom cats, Peaches and Cream, always sat on his head, face, or chest while he slept despite the fact that he was highly allergic to them. [They also ate the center out of the bread we put on the formal dining table to get crusty for Thanksgiving stuffing. (What can I say?)].
It wasn't JUST all of that, or the fact that they had an entire bread drawer in their kitchen dedicated to Little Debbie snacks, that we got to see Grandma Cookie (when she lived with them), explorations of historic sites like Harper's Ferry or visits to the Smithsonians. It wasn't even going to Farrell's for the spectacular ice cream options, their swimming pools or that I got to house/pet sit the kitties and live a bit of luxury while trying to make it in SWFL.
It was the love, laughter, getting disciplined, but also praised. It was real.
It was Uncle Bud's patience when helping Jo and I with math and geometry, time in Auntie's classroom putting up Gizmo decorations we'd help make, Nanci taking us to see ET, Laura letting us comb her hair, George singing to us, me staying at their house when I had my knee surgery and finding Abigail kitty, plus Nanci's "that's what bumpers are for" or "MAAA".
This spending time with my older cousins who were so cool and actually seemed to want to hang around us, plus being loved by this extended group of people who I felt would always be there - it was family in my purest understanding of the word.
It was my Aunt and Uncle who convinced my parents to attend my wedding after they disowned me. It was knowing UB would've walked me down the isle had dad not.
Yes, the discussions may have tempered a BIT over the years, but the traditions continued. They altered to meet the demands of changing lives, expanded family, age. But, they continued.
For those of us then living in a very transient community, how sweet it was to still spend time with loved ones on the most important of holidays, as well as randomly throughout the year.
It wasn't until I was in my 40s that I made my first Thanksgiving meal - Uncle Bud had passed, we hosted at mom and dad's condo and I cooked at my apartment using Auntie's "handful, pinch, soggy" instructions for the stuffing as handed down to her by her mom, my Grandma Cookie.
After Popu and mom both joined UB in heaven, I joined Auntie for Thanksgiving at her assisted living facility. There were the bonus years that Nanci and the Griffs hosted us all at their place and even times and gatherings when Doug and his family visited Florida.
Yesterday morning, Auntie finally got her wish - to be with her husband, brothers, my mom and all the relatives who've passed on...
As children, our parents told us that thunder and lightening was our deceased relatives bowling and partying it up in heaven. (Why I've always been okay with death in so many respects, I suppose. Though one is never prepared for grief).
While it's been too cold for that in Ohio, I know somewhere in another, lovely place, a grand table was set, music began playing and a whole lot of loved ones celebrated the return of Stella by enjoying great food, cocktails, maybe a few cigarettes and cigars, and lots of love.
After 90 years of loving me and being a friend, confidant and dispensing discipline, sarcasm, humor and wisdom, I can only say THANK YOU. I LOVE YOU. I MISS YOU. I know you are at peace and happy again.
To the vast legions of loved ones watching us from the other side - thank you for your legacy of love, even amidst the trauma our bloodline has endured. It is from these souls that I draw my knowledge, humor, sensitivity, loudness, wisdom, power, grace, wit, faith, determination, resiliency and perseverance.
Each one both acutely human and yet gracefully divine packages of love. Never perfect, yet somehow just what I and the world needed.
Rise in Peace and give em hell auntie!
As some of you know, I share my life with a senior-aged dog (Sir Duncan McDougle) whose body was battered when the rescue saved him 14+ years ago (six breaks in his pelvis and ruptured eardrums).
Soon after coming home, he had the ball of his right hip removed due to a deadly infection. Midway through our life together, he mysteriously woke-up paralyzed. Energy work, detoxing and patience resulted in movement about three months later. A few months after that, he was back to his version of normal.
About six years ago, he had emergency disk surgery (yes, all of this is most likely the result of being hit by a car before he was rescued from the streets).
This March, around the time of the first COVID lock-downs, he hit a wall and started feeling/showing his age. He didn't stop walking, but he was downright crabby and even got snippy...in other words, his personality changed dramatically!
Of course, we visited the vet and, after a few tests, she suggested trying CBD oil, laser treatments and chiropractic care.
Since he's a soulmate, watching him suffer wasn't an option. So, we folded those into our regimen of golden paste, a good diet and walking. Plus, I went to work on finding essential oils that could support his body’s natural abilities for dealing with stiffness, aches and pains.
Pain-Less Pup’s a staple now - crafted for D, it also works wonders when my hand is acting up (I broke it over the summer and was recently informed I have severe arthritis in the thumb).
Featuring Copaiba, Lavender, Lemongrass, Peppermint and Valor essential oils in a distilled water base, Pain-Less Pup is a powerhouse that allows Duncan to walk, play and rest again.
While it can be used as a diffuser blend, a few drops (mixed with a carrier oil as needed) can be applied to a dog’s pads or massaged (gently) onto painful areas.
REMEMBER: A dog’s sense of smell is significantly more sensitive than that of a human. If you plan on using oils with your pup, please introduce them slowly and carefully (diffuse in an open area/room first, or even place an open bottle on a counter/table for a few minutes when they are in the room).
Also, if you're mixing your own blends, please be sure to use therapeutic grade oils that are organically cultivated. There are several great brands out there, but recent years have brought slew of iffy products to the market. [I use Young Living as it was the only organically cultivated, sustainably harvested, therapeautically tested oil company around when I started using them. I trust the quality and I love that they also give-back to the communities where farms are located].
*** FYI: The FDA only requires 5% of a product labeled "Pure Essential Oil" to actually be an essential oil. The other 95% can be ANYTHING - chemicals or other toxins like petroleum. Not only are these foreign substances inherently harmful, they can be even more dangerous to our dogs due to how they process toxins and their size!
If you would like to learn more about essential oils for dogs, have questions, or would like to order some Pain-Less Pup, please email me at AlongNourishedPath@Gmail.com.
You can also stop by Ciall Wellness (in Columbiana, OH) to purchase this diffuser blend, as well as several festive offerings for the holiday season!
I'm Mary Ann. I am a storyteller using skills, interests, education and experience to help others. Together, we'll explore your story and write a new ending for your journey along the nourished path.