Christmas and Buying STUFF! How to slow down … or at least, TRY …

It is still fresh in my memory, the time when my daughters were growing up. We were shopping crazy until the very last moment, and it still didn’t “feel” enough. Toys, clothing, books (yes, we still read good old fashion  books in a paper format) more toys, more of this and that…

Looking back, I confess that perhaps, in those times I thought this was how I could buy my daughters’ love… or may be I was subconsciously making up for growing up in communist Romania, where Christmas celebrations were either low key, or non-existent but we were allowed to celebrate The New Year and still had a Tree and presents. In truth, a PRESENT.  In those  days, getting one toy and having the luxury to eat bananas, was enough.

But this was not communist Romania, this was America, the land of plenty and I was integrating, plainly said, doing what the vast majority of us does: BUYING INDISCRIMINATELY.

Whatever the combination of psychological reasons, just wrapping up our daughters’  the presents was taking us hours, and with the awareness of today, I wonder how many trees we helped destroy unknowingly…

The feelings I recall having  in those times, when my kids were growing up in America, were of panic… anxiety that it was not enough. It seemed that the measure of love was how much STUFF we were able to place under the Christmas Tree. There was also a “high,” I was experiencing when getting all the stuff, and an even “higher high,” watching my girls unwrap the presents. Some were immediate favorites, others were thrown in a corner and forgotten. Today I would take those less fortunate toys and donate them to a shelter, but in the years of my youth I lacked such wisdom, so, the “stuff” was stored in the basement, and when the basement overflew with unnecessary objects, I started to use the barn in the back of our yard…

Years went by, and after twenty years, our marriage was about to end up in divorce. Divorce, like cancer or suicide are events which in my opinion are so painful to even think about, that as  normal human beings, out of a need to protect ourselves, as a coping mechanism, we refuse to believe they could happen to US. If and when they happen, it is   a shock.  No matter how much our logical minds know all along that  over 50% of marriages end up in divorce, that a suicide is completed every 14 minutes in the U.S. and people die of cancer, it is hard to believe any of such events could be close to our home.

Yet, here I was, in the mist of  the “stuff” accumulated over a period of 20 years, trying to clean the house, no longer our home, before settlement, before the new owners came to inspected their new home. Yes, we sold the house and it all needed to be removed, memories of good and bad times illustrated by the accumulation of things.

At the beginning of the cleaning process, I tried to discriminate, to determine what was worthy of moving with us and what needed to be thrown away.  Suddenly, I realized that more than half the things we have accumulated over the years were not necessary for anything, except the impulse and the greed of the moment to HAVE MORE of this or that!

That feeling of desperation is still with me. The moment when I realized that I was running out of time and  the mountains of broken plastic toys were still spread allover, and I no longer had the time to sort them out.  Things which at the time of purchase had meaning, brought joy and I thought of them as being necessary, suddenly transformed into disposable “stuff.” I started shaving everything in big, extra strength plastic bags. One, two, three, four bags… By the time I was finished placing the trash on our  ex-front lawn for the township  pick up in the morning, the entire fresh, well-maintained lawn was covered by ugly black plastic bags! An ocean of stuff put in a hurry in impersonal black bags. I stopped counting at 53!   Our life of 20 years summed up,  ready for pick up and taken somewhere, in a place I’d never know. What I do know, and am ashamed of, is how I contributed to polluting our Earth and how useless the “stuff” turned out to be.

Since our divorce and the sale of the house, many years ago, each time I am tempted to buy an object, I close my eyes, take a deep breathe and instantly in my mind’s eyes I SEE the ocean of black ugly bags filled with the unnecessary “stuff” of a broken relationship and the pain and confusion that accompanied it. This image alone, is sufficient to make me put back the “stuff,” and instead offer gifts of my heart, presents that could be used. It could be baking a loaf of bread, offering a necessary service, such as a hair-cut or simply writing a note showing love and appreciation.

The lesson I learned is that who truly loves me, appreciates  the part of my soul that goes into  the simple gifts of life.

If there are people in one’s life who measure love by the amount of “stuff” they receive, it is one’s choice to stay with the big black trash bags or not.

Lonely and Alone… What Is The Difference…

At a time of the year when it seems compulsory to be with family and friends, as we watch Kay jewelry commercials about a kiss com and diamonds commercials, let’s be honest and admit not everyone has a family and many are not all chocolate and diamonds …

This thought prompted me to write this post, as I am about to leave my friends in Florida and fly back home to PA, where I do not have a family, but am not alone.
What is the difference…
I was in a marriage of 20 years but was lonely, yet not alone. I had to adjust my needs to my family’s, but when I was trying g to communicate at a deeper level with my husband… well… it wasn’t happening. I felt lonely, yet our host Mas tree was there, the presents, the ham etc. Oh and how could I forget, the family and friends.
Years flew by, my daughter’s flew to California, my husband is no more, so… am I lonely.
The story I am going to share illustrates the difference best.
I went to a new doctor. He said, So, you live alone, do you feel lonely, as in depressed.
I responded,
I don’t live alone. I live with three rescue dogs and Max, my African Grey, who every morning tells me, I LOVE YOU. If I don’t answer back, he asks, WHAT Are YOU doing…lol
I am alone by superficial human standards, but not lonely.
To the joy of having the unconditional love of my pets, I derive soul companionship from connecting with my community and people life sends my way for a reason.
The artist on the plane, the homeless by choice who offers free bracelets on a Florida beach, the beautiful blonde woman on the beach , who dedicates her life to autistic children.

Perhaps, I felt more lonely when I was in meaningless relationships, than I feel now, when I live alone by the superficial doctor’s intake form, yet I’m not lonely.

Loneliness is a state of our minds, not of what TV commercials feed us.

Peace Settles At Last…

Something broke at the core of my heart

Into millions of pieces…

A vague, uncertain feeling whispered:

‘Look through a magnifying glass,’

I did.

All the way down, at the very bottom

I saw a shape darker than the dark,

“It must have been my hope,”

I  concluded, but was not certain.

Did it matter anyway?

What it used to be, was now at the bottom.

It could not be saved!

It could have been love, or trust too,

All the noble ideals we invent 

To survive.

Especially hope.

My mind knew all it mattered

Was the  NOW, but the irrational Soul

Hung onto the past…

Millions of pieces crushed

Under the burden of lies, pretense,

The illusion of forever, the fear of death.

God answered me at last:

There is NO forever,

Only the dust  which suffocated me, 

The millions of crushed dreams,

Which sparkled in the darkness of life,

Giving me the illusion of hope!

I refused to believe,

I looked again, closer,

Through the distorted, magnifying glass 

Of human emotions.

The hole deepened,

More and more…

A bottomless hole!

Somewhere, deeper than the hope,

I sensed another shadow,

Darker than the dark,

I was not certain what it was…

I needed the artificial light of 

Human pretense and vanity

To dictate  the rules

Of what it was that,

Which I saw!!!

Perhaps it was FAITH!

I turned around, and around,

Faster and faster,

No matter where I turned,

I was blinded by random pieces

Of Truths.

They were senseless and hurtful…

The wider I opened my eyes,

The greater the hurt…

I closed them quickly,

Tight and forever…

Peace settled at last!