Archive for the ‘Spirit’ Category

Remembering Robin

August 13, 2014

(by Florence Ondré-8/12/14-)

 

Depression descended like a dark, heavy greatcoat. No matter the good,large or small, on my very full-plated life, I couldn’t get above sea level in feeling overwhelmed with underwhelm-ment.
The emotions were confused and yet clear in “undertoad” waves; making no sense, no matter the ebb and flow of strengthed shore crashing.
An enormity of “yes, I know there is good’ and ‘arrggh! I don’t want to do this show,” “write this assignment,” “accept invitations to dine,” “talk with anyone,” took up battle stations in my brain. All these wonderful things turned to dust devils from one heartbeat to the next. It was too much trouble to lift an arm or leg; to breathe, to stay awake and upright nevermind accomplish my to do list. All the ‘importants’ felt insignificant; trivial in what loomed large in my mind taken up with thoughts of a life wasted.
I could chalk it up to Sandy survivorship; to almost two years after the devastation of my house, community and East coast of America; losing pieces of family and the home in which I raised my children; still sheltering “off-site,” with continuous, health debilitating grief and stress; wading through the most enormous amounts of crazy-making, pencil- pushing, victimizing-victims bullshit any cracker factory could dream up.
Oh, that would be easy.
But then my stubborn, angry, ‘never-let-’em-see-ya-cry’ self would rise up to scream-point of “Oh, no you won’t!” “Never quit 5 seconds before the miracle!”
This inner space stretching before me from within dove back and forth beyond the highlights of career, attributes or life parts well-lived and hard times and tough challenges. This was the “Losing My Mind” Sondheim siren song.
“I’m so depressed.” I murmured aloud. “I know I shouldn’t be but, for today, I’m depressed and can’t get out of it.”
“O.K., stop trying to figure it out. Lay it all down. Let go. Live with the depression.”
So I gave in and did.
And at day’s end, after moody meanderings on the why’s of my own existence or purpose of continuance in the clown chaos, the shocking news came that he was gone.
Gone in a flash!
Not to return.
No rehab reawakening. No healing to go on in his family, in this world, in our lives.
There had been a brief social media buzz about it in the afternoon and then sloughed off by everyone’s denial that it could even be considered on the edges of our belief systems, as a hoax.
Depression? Suicide?
Bad Bazinga!
Reality does bite.
Yet it’s a bit easier to get through the exit-stage-left shock with Robin Williams’ staggering amount of good left behind to focus on in reviewing his movies and considerable career.
Still, the incredulity of such a robust loss remains.
And, though we are left as human beings, ever wanting more, we are the better for his having been here.
As I read Joanne Woodward’s words, “Not only was he a brilliant actor and comedian, he was also a mighty force of philanthropy, doing so much for the homeless, for the arts and for those in his orbit who needed aid,” I shot back in time to a long ago, tucked away memory of a night at “Catch A Rising Star,” the club in Manhattan where comedians and new acts could get a start and established or establishing artists worked out new material where their own gathered and supported each other.
My singing trio, “Amethyst,” was slated to go on at the end of the evening, in the wee hours when stars came in after other gigs and audiences were loosened up liberally with libation.
We waited with our accompanist; huddled at a table in the back corner of the club, watching comedians like David Brenner do their stuff that night.
Lenny, the Bionic Chicken, finished up his set and, at last, introduced us to a round of applause.
We walked into the spotlight, in our fringed, bejeweled, white-booted outfits; a velvet, sultry-voiced, red headed, blues singer to my left, a perky brunette with a pop voice and a belt that wouldn’t quit to my right and me, the fluffy, shag-haired blonde, handling the comedy songs, in the middle.
As we finished our up tempo opening theme song and were about to go into our next number, a group of guys at the round table nearest the stage went beyond appreciative applause into hooting and hollering, “Hey! Blondie!” “Hey Hotstuff!!” and vocalized numbers of their own to the tune of whistles, heckles and stomps until one guy got up from his chair and loudly announced, “Yes! You, sweetheart.  I want you, Darlin!” as he began to climb the stage.
Yep. He wanted the blonde in the middle… me.
And like one of the rough hewn in the movie musical, “Seven Brides For Seven Brothers,” it looked like he was set to pick me up, throw me over his shoulders and carry me off.”
No amount of continuing singing would thwart this late night Lothario.
I froze as he advanced. The music and show stopped.
And moments before he got to me, Robin Williams appeared like magic!
Shazaam!
He jumped in front of me like a cape thrown down across water for protection and started heartily cajolling the guy back to his seat and stayed barrier between us by heckling the heck out of him and the rest of the band of merry men; making jokes at their expense; pointing out the men’s room if they needed to rise to the occasion, to which they laughed uproariously as he got them to stay seated; inviting them to enjoy the show ‘from their buckboards’…..and with his half sweet, half sly ‘we’re-in-this-joke-together’ smile, added, with that shrug of his shoulders that could be mistaken for self deprecating, but-hey-what-do-i-know, aw shucksishness character…“Let’s let the little ladies sing, Hoss.”
We finished our song set to standing ovation and I will never forget that night in my performing career where I could say, “Lenny The Bionic chicken opened for me and Robin Williams closed.” What a show biz night that was!
“In his orbit,” ever so luckily, I was…
A fledgling singer with only a microphone between me and a singer-napping…
And there he appeared, well known by that time; ready, willing and able with his special skills and talents to help someone he didn’t know who was indeed “in need of aid.”
He took no credit, garnered no write-ups or kudos and slipped away as if he were an anonymous everyman just doing what anyone would.
And, though I hadn’t thought about that rescue in a long time, especially being ‘sandy submerged’ for what seems like eons, obliterating thoughts I ever even had a career, it was this memory that came back to me as I bent over the kitchen sink in my little top floor apartment, which I fondly have dubbed, Mount 6 Manjaro, and wept with grief for his going and gratitude for his being.
Andy Hammerstein reminded me today, as we all remembered our favorite movies and characters, that his favorite was mine, “The Fisher King.”
Then the thread rippled out across the minds and media of our world. Everyone sharing which ones they liked and the why of how their lives were touched by this gigantic talent.
As I read, I found my head bobbing up and down in agreement… of course “The Fisher King;” the madness and the fragility making it top the list of craft for me and “What Dreams May Come,” for the muddled and magnificent; “Aladdin”…who else could try to do a more behind-the-scenes voice; taking no credit, and be so recognizable and memorable as to become synonymous with the character onscreen…”Patch Adams,” the tenderness within the boisterous laughter….”Good Morning Vietnam,” the giving of good in horrendous circumstances…”Good Will Hunting,” more good in the will and willingness to be vulnerable on the road to educating the heart and mind…”Dead Poet’s Society”… Who of us didn’t want to stand up on tables to get that different perspective…”Mrs. Doubtfire,” with her layers of persona added, padded and ultimately stripped bare as we all are in our relationships…
The question may arise as we hear there are those who preferred his characters to his ‘hyper schtick,’ “Did the hyper drive the depths and heights of his creative genius, which gifted us with so many multi-levelled characters, or vice versa?
I love how Bette Midler put it, “Oh, dear God. The wonderful Robin Williams has gone.”
There feels to me, a softness in the words, ‘has gone.’
They flutter feather light, gently as a Robin Williams’ smile and warm the heart like the sincerity of his soul… as if he has just left the building like he did the many years ago in a dark nightclub.
And here he is again, in his leave-taking, prompting people to speak in anything other than whispers; aiding so many who struggle with depression; shining the light of his star on another dark place in need.
And…Oh, you peacemaker… you, good-hearted Robin….with all this drawing us together in your leaving.
Look at all the good we are remembering, focusing on and smiling about instead of being at war with each other and our own selves.
There you are superstar, still cleverly at work now…. and forever.
I realized today, after all the ‘why’ questions beyond even my experience with ‘the greatcoat’ and puny human understanding of the rippling and ripping of the fabric of life, as with all great life passings…
Simply put… his journey here was done.

And the words from his movie, “Jack,” now seem more poignant than ever:  “Please, don’t worry so much.  Because, in the end, none of us have very long on this Earth.  Life is fleeting.  And, if you’re ever distressed, cast your eyes to the summer sky, when the stars are strung across the velvety night.  And when a shooting star streaks through the blackness, turning night into day…make a wish & think of me.  Make your life spectacular!  I know I did.”

I join with and quote Shirley Callaway, because I love the encompassing warmth of her words which are in my heart too, “I send light to all who cherished him and his brilliant work.”
Rest in peace, dear Robin Williams.
Job well done.

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Quote (and possible smile) For The Day

June 16, 2014

Every time I wonder, ‘Is it just me?’

It never is.

Florence Ondré

Project Hope

June 11, 2014

by Florence Ondré      8/5/13

 

Project Hope has helped us cope

 

With surviving superstorm sandy

 

Victim’s pace given space

 

Unwrapped us like Halloween candy

 

Waves came in crashing; homes and lives smashing

 

In aftermath, sane was old news

 

Broken and bent; energy spent

 

We straggled in by ones and twos

 

Stranger than fiction, our stories of friction

 

Sparked up a new kind of flame

 

Within difference in some, rose a new kind of one

 

Acknowledging so much the same

 

A circle was born in piece-mealish form

 

Leading onward by gentlest crew

 

Sometimes we’re myopic and slightly off topic

 

Still one as we all muddle through

 

In rants, tears and raving, our own lives we’re saving

 

While feeling we’ve gone down the drain

 

A labrynthian reeling without any ceiling

 

Upheaves every cell of our brain

 

Rules change hours by day; in Machiavellian way

 

To hamper and truncate our path

 

Driven b.s. crazy, we’re a little less hazy

 

By Monday night’s sharing our wrath

 

Overwhelming sadness gains glimpses of gladness

 

With topics for practising focus

 

Unravelling together helps us all weather

 

Seeing real under pure hocus pocus

 

We curse worse than sailors; we’re weepers and wailers

 

Losers of faith, family, friends

 

We’re tattered and torn; on winds of change shorn

 

Of all we thought we could depend

 

Each week we unfold; heart warm from the cold

 

Tentative, baby skin new

 

Bedraggled and strange; shocked, rearranged

 

With courage, we show up the few

 

Patience at nil; in repetitive drill

 

It can look like we’re stuck in the mud

 

Then just when we’re weary of hearing things dreary

 

Insight can land with a thud

 

Understanding arises with smiles and surprises

 

Just when we think that we’re done

 

The importance we share is the fact that we care

 

When the rest of the world’s cut and run

 

Recovery’s brutal with not much in neutral

 

Nothing of rest or reprieve

 

With lies and deceit the dim, daily treat

 

Monday night is our one sure relieve

 

We can say what we wouldn’t in couldn’t and shouldn’t

 

Honesty down to the core

 

Without judge and jury, emptying sorrow and fury

 

Eases this surgical chore

 

A word on an easel helps with retrieval

 

Of strengths we’ve forgotten we had

 

Giving us pause and plausible cause

 

To see our inner good in a mountain of bad

 

In this circle, there’s quiet, weird rhythm and riot

 

As we talk, listen, flail and sit still

 

The longer we stay, we learn each in our own way

 

That the road is not always uphill

 

And if only brief moment in constant, contentious foment

 

There’s a place to speak honest, truth, free

 

Here victims can rise through any storm skies

 

To become victors eventually.

 

 

Thank you, Chris, Jackie & Mohamad for your kind, gentle, nourishing, caring and constancy in a world gone off the rails.  Lights-off moments in mini meditation, held off until we felt safer, gave us the small yet powerful pieces of peace to take to our mats and shelters. You have reminded us that we have the power to stand in the center of our own peace. You are in our hearts always.

 

To Project Hope: Thank you for being. The gift of the creation of your existence gave us, survivors of superstorm sandy, a much needed light on a path through the darkness of our great losses; our homes, community and lives as we knew them.

Open Letter From The In Between

December 28, 2013
Today, while I’m a bit more rested, coming down from holiday crush to try to be superhuman; having taken silent time, I’m closer to sanity and further away from a slip and fall to match my dear Tom’s. (we do everything together..lol)
Invisible ice will bring you to your knees.
Did it slow me?  Hmmm. yes, in some places, not so much in others, but I did have to make some clear choices as to where and how to expend my dwindling energy.
Grand kids came first, cooking came second, family activities and then somewhere after, came me with  visions of juggling dancing in my head and circus music circling my cerebellum.
It was a fun time with the children and their joy is always worth everything!  I am always glad to be tired from making the kids happy.  It was thus for my own kids and now it is for my grands.  Nice to see the threads weaving through the tapestry.
In my going within, I took a look at what seemed to be wearing away in my own life and missed certain voices and visits dear to me.  it seems time is speeding up, people are speeding up, lives are speeding up.  You can hear it in the impatience in voices and feel the voids of connection.  It bruises the energy, these hit and run relationship behaviors and leaves one feeling unimportant and empty. The question arises, “How meaningful am I to a person who only calls or returns calls on a day labelled, holiday?”
With these ruminations, I’m thinking there was more purpose in slip and falls and nonstop preparations with a physical body becoming more challenged as time goes on its own merry way.
I think the gift of this season for us all might be revelations in the re-evaluations; the questioning, “Who & what is important to me?  How can I better shepherd my energy and have more balance?  What can I let go of to choose more personal closeness?”
I have more questions than answers at this moment and that is a good place to be..open to what comes on the brink of a new year.
For those with whom I did not get to connect, for those who called with well wishes, I thank you and please, know you were all thought of fondly and sent best wishes from my heart to yours.  And it is in that chamber you are always held in loving light.
I’m grateful to know that I express this on a daily basis unreservedly…no holding back or saving for a holiday or rainy day.  I’m a sandy survivor.   I’ve lived through enough rain to float the ark!
As our physical connections change- especially with personal distancing of so many wonderful electronics, may we remember to give each other our best gifts of spending time with each other; in person for those geographically near, or a personal call where we can actually hear the essence of our voices for those farther away in miles.
And may we remember to give each other our full attention when in each other’s company, putting away our smart phones to honor each other with full focus and behavior that says, “You are important to me.”
For we all pieces of God in action;  worthy of this honoring…..and we are gone too soon.
May Angels bring you highest good beyond your wildest imaginings in this coming year and I know they hold you close as this old year merges into the new and exciting energy manifesting.
In Light and Love,
Florence

Wonder Full Whirlwind

December 28, 2013

Wonderful whirlwind….so much preparation for holidays and no matter how early I start, the time whirls into the wind of  ‘OMG! Will I ever get everything done that I wish to.’

It is a cyclone cycle of joy and fun, high energy and bone wearying exhaustion.  And oh, how fantastic it is to give everything you’ve got to make your rounds, to give gifts to your loved ones and those who benefit from cheer, heart generosity and the gift of your time and attention; to see the smiles; hear the shrieks of unbridled glee of the children opening and playing with presents and yums at the sharing of creations of a holiday meal; then sink into the glow of sighs of holiday warmth well done; ending all with a wealth of gratitude in every tired cell of your being.

It is a time out of time, each solstice: each pre year’s ending melding into new beginnings and, for me, while I’m stirring batter for homemade baked goodies, I’m stirring memories in between singing seasonings into culinary creations and silence into the rhythm of simply being.

In each moment, Earth time constraints dictate what will and what will not get done while elastic Universal Angel Time reminds me all is in divine order and, while I give full concentration on tasks at hand, focus being in each now in the chaos of creativity.
As I go a bit crazy, feeling like I’ll never get it all done, my dear Tom says, as he helps lift pans and bowls my now older, physically challenged hands cannot and mops up my tears, the floor and my arms and hair from the frustration of flying rosemary sage stuffing, “No worries, it’s the same every year and every year you do great!”

I feel and look like I’m stretched thin and wild in every direction, yet this year, this Christmas after last year of no holiday celebrations after becoming homeless in the devastation of superstorm sandy and a full year of physical and emotional displacement, within, I have a river of deep and abiding silent certainty that in change there is still the light of love guiding me and all of us to some higher good…better behavior and boundaries, healing, choices for closeness and the release of that which does not feel comfortable or honorable in every corner of life.

No more sameness for same sake.  This season, for me, it has been a time of cessation and reflection in the middle of the doing doing doing; a clear look at myself and others and a letting go of facades to home-in on happiness.
I give to each of you dear ones, on this day after Christmas and pre New Year’s Eve, my heartfelt wishes for health, happiness and wealth in all areas of your life… And room for change where Angels make their magic! 

Thanksribukkah

November 30, 2013

Woke up this morning in the afterglow of yesterday’s lovely, simple and fun Thanksgiving/ Channukkah afternoon.  I can still hear the laughter, see the smiles on everyone’s faces and smell and taste the delicious racks of ribs my son proudly cooked on his beloved bbq/smoker.
(right here is where I ask my dear vegetarian friends to please turn away. avert your eyes! please, don’t judge me)

Picture a tall, happy looking guy standing outside his garage in the freezing cold; bundled up for winter; scarf wrapped around his neck, hands gloved and a nice knitted hat covering his head and ears (ok. it was a bright yellow wool ‘minions’ hat; one half of a two part set knitted by his wife for him and his 3 yr old son for their duo costumes on Halloween, but it did lend the chef a jaunty, humorous air to his serious business of seasoning)

Not being much of a rib gal after Tony Roma’s closed, this newly acquired culinary artistry escapes me…until yesterday….

Watching my grown son lovingly lavishing his attention to tending his culinary creation at the finish line of 8 (count ’em, 8!) hours of basting, turning, temp checking with the precision of a surgeon, was enough to rope me in to at least trying this entree again.

He proudly took me into his kitchen and showed me his impressive array of spices, sauces and rubs; explaining his process of how he chooses which for what reason and how he makes his own combinations for just the right flavors of sweetness and spice for each rack.  I listened with respect as he described the stages of the cooking and reasoning behind each to bring about perfection.

In honor of tradition and with permission from the my son, the host, we’d brought a small roast turkey with trimmings. (and honestly, for me, just in case I didn’t fancy more than a polite bite of ribs…I mean, two whole racks of ribs! Who’s gonna eat them on Turkey Day?)

Under the heading of ‘O ye of little faith,’ he opened the promise land lid, plated those babies and ‘ta da’d’ them into the kitchen with the flair of Guy Fieri  confident in his grillwork or Moses parting the sea.

They looked falling off the bone delectable; tantalizing, scintillating, aromatic and tasted tender, sweet and woody smoked.

I went from ‘oh, I’ll try them because my son made them,’ obligatory to bbq sauce mustachioed convert with the first mouth watering bite.  I found myself thinking, ‘Will two racks be enough?’

It was a stand up feast in the kitchen and those bad boys were gone before you could say, “Let’s eat!”

Wow!  All those hours to make/minutes to devour; leaving only the scent of enjoyment, the sounds of lip smacking contentment and smiles on our sauce smeared faces.

Later that night, my nose still filled with mesquite and honey, I wished for more.  Turkey, my tush! I only yearned for what was gone but not forgotten.  We’d split the leftovers; the usual turkey for sandwiches, the sage stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, green beans and cranberry sauce.

And all I craved was wispy dreams of ribs.

As easy laughter and warmth of the day spent in happy camaraderie came floating back to me upon awakening, I realized what a gift my son had given all of us in the invitation to gather at his home.  His was the same labor of love as mine was when, for all his growing up years, I got up at 5 in the morning to start the turkey roasting for as many hours as the bird’s pounds determined, in order to create a fine meal and the custom of giving thanks…. with the grace of the extra ingredient of every really good meal and family tradition…the ingredient of love.

And on this historic, double holiday of Thanksgiving and Chanukkah which will not occur for another 70,000 years, I am filled to delicious, overflowing heart warmth as I share the threads of light we pass along, each in our own way, to one another other; to our children and our children’s children; opening our hearts for better than the best we can imagine in all outcomes… Happy, healthy history with what changes may evolve.

For and from me and mine, to old and new ways of celebrating the good in life…. here’s wishing you a moment in history where new meets old…Happy Thanksribukkah!

Day In Haiku

September 5, 2013

blue skies, water bright

summer’s end meets autumn’s cusp

sunshining between

On The Edge

September 3, 2013

by florence ondré

edge?

what edge?

never saw it coming

nor going by with warning’s thrumming

on the edge, a familiar lost place

when overshooting boundaries of the human race

it’s usually a line i have not seen

a hint…a clue..a filter screen

to tell me, ‘stop..halt…not one more step

or it’s the pickle again, up to your neck’

mostly, it’s after i’m over my edge

that i see once again, i’ve tromped past my pledge

to practice taking things more slowly with ease

so that on approach, i can feel edge’s breeze

denoting an appropriate place to desist

a moment in time when i can resist

being too busy; a human doing

who dashes past neon flashing clueing

“lookout.  slow down.  here it comes once more.

you’re in danger again to your very core

of flying over the well-placed edge

beyond the wall; way past the hedge ”

before you know it, i’m flying high

and in the blinking of an eye

i sigh with recognition, backward-looked

on the way to crashing; my goose well-cooked

oh, to be more in tune with where edge is

within me so i can clearly see

when i’m about to approach the goal

in order to save both body and soul

from unnecessary loss and pain

to simply breathe in; be still; remain

on the spot where awareness wakes

then i’ll save myself some hard heartaches

all this can be accomplished when i know

where my edges are and use the word, ‘no’

as a wand of wonder to myself and all

then choices are mine to fly or fall…….

with lessons in each option’s clarion call.

If Your Name Is Patience Or Grace, Why Don’t You Have Any?

August 29, 2013

by florence ondré

In the oppressive heat of a hazy, hot and humid day in July, it’s hard enough for a person to get around, accomplish the day’s duties and still keep one’s wits and reflexes above functioning level.  Add to this recipe, a physical handicap, the lateness of the day or merely age and the human machine slows, glitches and/or crawls to a halt.

I believe most of us are aware enough to know this from probable first hand experience.  So, why is it that awareness and sensitivity take leave of the human experience at the checkout counter in a supermarket?

Firstly, what is so super about our food markets today?  The experience of shopping for our daily sustenance is hardly pleasurable.  Employees can be rude or ill informed; prices inaccurate and many cashiers could care less whether it’s important to you that your hard earned money stretch as far as possible or that your food be in good condition- i.e. grapes on top of canned goods and bread uncrushed when bagged.  Mostly, now it’s fast zip your groceries down the ramp for a meet and greet with metal armed hangers of plastic bags which you are expected to pack yourself.

“Express line” generally means smaller orders of fewer items to be expeditious to shoppers but to those behind the register it’s more of a “get out of my face fast and don’t ask any questions!” as in: ‘have no needs of your own.’   God forbid, you have the audacity to ask them to bag the stuff or to ask for for a double of those flimsy, chemical smelling sacks so your jars of marinara sauce don’t crash, and slash; sending you to the nearest emergency facility!

Any condition that might slow one up aggravates rather than engenders any compassion and seems to give register ringers a target for whatever pent up hostilities are lurking beneath their badges.

I experienced “The Shopping Trip From Hell” on one of these steamy July days when I had the chutzpah to take myself with my Chronic Fatigue Immune Dysfunction Syndrome to the ‘super’- sometimes referred to as ‘stupid’- market.

Having schlepped my tired self through the aisles, trudging behind my wobbly-wheeled basket, I placed my 6 items on the conveyor belt to the cash register on the ‘Express Line’ designated ’10 items or less.’  Feeling rather safe in doing so, I was shaken and appalled as I heard and saw the demeanor of the checkout clerk, whose name tag read, ‘Patience.’   She was anything but!

A grey haired woman stooped in front of me, was getting a tongue lashing about the number of items she’d placed for checkout-11!  Her hands which formerly may have cared for a home and children, created art or capably closed deals in a chosen profession, today clearly shook as she meekly apologized and tried to give the right amount of money for her tallied food bill.  In addition, she asked in measured speech for an explanation of the charges to make sure her receipt was correct.

The curtness and hostility of the cashier was overt and there was no mistaking the aggression of the loud, large, young woman at the register toward the small, quiet, elderly one who moved a few steps, struggling to get her change into her wallet, while her grocery bag was thrown harshly to the end of the checkout ramp by ‘commandant clerk.’

Then it was my turn!

As Patience totted up my purchases at the speed of light, I found myself aghast at not being able to find the cash that I had just gotten from the bank.  I searched my purse 3 times through every pocket, nook and cranny; knowing I had placed the bills there, yet fearing I might have either misplaced them or been robbed.

Inside, I had a sick, sinking feeling that I get when Chronic Fatigue cognitive block happens.  I know it mercifully passes but I also know increases with added stress, and here I am; face to face with ‘She Whose Name Is Patience!’

“Jaws” music begins to play in my head as she glowers at me for being less than perfect and lightning fast on Her Express LIne!

I begin to feel not so much slow and inept, but rather one who has committed a mortal sin.  She grouses loudly and instigates insurrection on the line behind me which now seems not to be just 2 men and 2 women, but an angry lynch mob of 400!

“O.K., Calm down,” I tell myself silently.  The bill is 14 dollars and 53 cents and,  Whew!  Thank God!  There’s the 50 dollar bill I put in my purse, right next to a 5!

I sigh with relief.  I haven’t been robbed.  CFIDS brain fog hasn’t caused me to mislay my money AND I say triumphantly to Clerk Mengele, “Here’s $50 and I have  the 3 pennies!”

Snarling, she snatches the bill, slams her cash drawer shut like a jail cell; loudly informing me that she ‘will not take my 3 cents’ and shoves the denominations of change, which she deems suitable punishment, into my hand.

I have no more rights for committing the crime of ‘slowness.’

When I say, quietly but firmly, “No, that’s not acceptable,” she imperiously barks, “You’ve taken up too much time!”

Standing firm on the outside but shaken on the inside, I ask to see a manager; even though the larger of the men in line behind me has become belligerent and is siding with the clerk to intimidate me.  Clearly, he would like to do her executioner’s work and if the guillotine were at the end of the bag ramp, my head would be in a basket with melons, to the delight of the onlookers!

I refuse to be cowed.  She glares at me with the intensity of a flamethrower.  I feel napalmed in New York.  I’m a stone-statue-still gunslinger at the O.K. Corral standoff til she finally calls.

The manager, a woman of small physical stature, shows up. hears my complaint of rudeness and ill treatment this clerk has dished out to me and the preceding customer.  She says nothing as I tell her that everyone, including senior, handicapped and slow people, all deserve to be treated courteously when shopping and spending their money in that store.

From the looks she sneaks at pistol packin’ Patience, I can see she will do nothing.  There’s not so much as an, “I’m sorry for your trouble.”

No amends will be forthcoming.

I notice her name tag reads, “Grace,” and what I see on her face is fear and dullness.  All in all, I’m sick to my stomach and I know it’s not from the heat!

Returning home with a lump of anger in my throat, I woodenly put away my groceries, which now seemed tainted with negative energy.  I slump exhaustedly on the safety of my comfy couch; an island of friendly, floral print in a world of khaki conflict.  A knot of hopelessness mixed in with a healthier dollop of defiance in my gut moves me to grab notebook and pen as the following declaration of dignity emerges:

I, hereby, put every cash register clinking checker,  or anyone in service positions, on notice to remember and, better yet, write this down and place it clearly where you will see it every day of your life:

THERE BUT FOR THE GRACE OF GOD GO I.

This means you and every blessed one of us on this planet!

No matter your job, any person who comes before you who is ‘slow’ is your opportunity to become still and practice compassionate patience.

Every person who asks you a question is your opportunity to practice tolerance and generosity of spirit, wherein you can be helpful in sharing your knowledge with others.

Those who shuffle before you with infirmity or age are your opportunity to treat others with the same kindness and respect you would like to receive when you are in similar circumstances.  They may be the mirror image of your future and deserve your admiration for their courage, willingness and commitment to show in the world; attempting to be as self reliant as possible.

These people, ( and remember, you are these people; if not now, later) need your help not your hostility.

O.K., so you got in the right letter of the alphabet.  Try harder.  You can do better.  Get the right word, the right attitude.  I have faith in you.  You can do it!

Anyone who vexes you is your opportunity to grow; to be the best you can be instead of the worst or most mediocre.  This is your chance to notice differences and samenesses of humans; to value everyone just the way you want to be valued and appreciated.  There’s no exact time allotment for getting ‘it’ right.  What is ‘it’ anyway and by whose timeline or definitions are we living?

I know that, even with this day; this experience of mine, I will not die of terminal uniqueness and, still, I feel strongly moved to speak out for all the times any of us has said or felt, “Why bother? No one cares anyway?”

Well, I do care.  I want everyday experiences to be peaceful, harmonious, gentle and interactions respectful of each other.  I believe kindness counts.  How much extra time does that take?

Call writing this my random act of kindness for all who can’t speak up or out.  I encourage everyone to say ‘NO’ to unfair, unkind treatment- one’s own or another’s; to courageously say, “I deserve to be treated courteously and compassionately.  We all do.”

And then, perhaps the market will be ‘super!’

Eye Object

August 15, 2013

by florence ondré

While window seated at dinner with my beloved Tom, I gazed out at the light blue, summer sky.  A few soft, white clouds scudded across the clear horizon when all of a sudden a flock of tiny birds flew past my line of vision, like the swooping birds I see out on the parkway.

When seen, I have named them harbingers of good luck.   Each time I watch their airborne wings wheel and turn above waters, dune grasses and marshes this happy sight always uplifts and gives me pause for positive pondering.  I think, ‘Woo hoo!  We’re winning a lottery soon!’ or ‘Wheeeee!  Something wonderful is on its way!”

I peered out the window and watched to see their air show, thinking,  ‘Wow!  How neat they’re in town and these guys are persistent!  They don’t seem to be flying away!’

Then, out of the far side of my left eye, a veritable Rorschach test pattern emerged; dark whorls and paintbrush strokes joining a host of black squiggle lines and the flock of itty bitty birds.

No matter how much I squinted or blinked, none of these works of art in my eye dissipated.

In fact, they increased in intensity and left me staring off into the blue to discover that the ‘little birdies’ were hundreds of teensy, black, clear-in-the-center circles.

As I realized something was unusual and very wrong, food-forgotten-fear crept up onto the hem of the garment of my mind.

Seeing me  burger-dropped, stopped still, Tom asked if I was ok.

No answer.

Again, I heard him as if through an ocean away.

“Blubber blub burble…”

“Huhhhh?”

“Something something… you ok?”

Slowly, through the molasses of my mostly mesmerized mind,  “I’m not sure but I don’t think so, ” I replied and described, zombie-like, what I was seeing.

It was more a curious experience; a slo-mo movie reel unspooling.

Realization of why it had just been difficult to read the menu board, dawned on me.  No amount of head shaking, blinking or peep peeking, one eye to another, had kept me from ordering stintingly like I’d just learned language.

“Blub burble… pain?”  I could see Tom’s lips moving again.

“Ummmmmm… nooo…”

“Do we need to go the hospital?” he queried quickly, alarm now visible on his face, swimming ashore on my wavering vision.

Back to the blue, with my baby blues, checking inside for symptoms of sanity,  “Mmmmmm, dunno,” I mused in answer; still eerily trying to get a handle on this weird panorama, which I now knew was inside my eye, not part of the sky above us.

Ohhhhh, darn.  No swooping birds of budding good luck and prosperity.

Grief and sheer shock merged into a confused yet calm countenance.

“Let’s go home,” I said outside.  Inside, I hard-hoped it would all go away; this fresh hell looking horror in the palette of my eye.

Most definitely now, a full fledged gallery showing of water color brush strokes, broad and black; a museum worthy chiaroscuro, was moving ever so gently inside me; wonderfully weird and absolutely awe-ful.

Funny odd how one’s life can be stopped in its tracks; sheared off, like being beamed off planet by instant alien events.

Back up in the apartment which I, post-hurricane/sans electricity and elevator, dubbed ‘ Mt 6 Manjaro’ for its steep daily climb, I sat at the dining room table, wondering,  ‘What next?’ while Tom hit the computer, looking up eye everything; my description of the birds, painting and eye objects; reading to me so we could share unfolding understanding of what was happening.

There it all was, in ethernet black and white; terrorizing and comforting in a couple of clicks.  Textbook.  No flights of fancy or any other ilk..this was blood vessel hemorrhage retinal detachment.

Sitting soberly still, cold comforted with computed communication, I remembered back to childhood; always having some little lines called ‘floaters’ in my eyes and recall being on the beach with my mom and sister; lying on a towel; closing my eyes, face up to the warm sun, and seeing these little curiosities from behind closed lids.

We’d been told everyone has them.

Sharing this with Tom, the next thoughts beamed laser of ‘now what?’ into the picture.

Usually a person of zip into action, I couldn’t move a muscle as I grappled with a parade of possibilities, none very pretty.

With no hospital in our own town, post Superstorm Sandy flood-out, Tom began calling hospitals and emergency rooms anywhere on Long Island, to find any place with ophthalmologists on staff or on call.

None had anyone and the waits would be into tomorrow.

Next, I called my friend, Merri, who I knew was a night owl with a hefty medical tome of specialist’s numbers and experience.

She listened, compassionately, walked me through what happened , asked questions, helped clarify and gave me, among the best specialists-most in New York City- one number for an ophthalmic group three towns away, saying that her mom had had very good results with them.  “Go.  Any of the doctors there are wonderful.”

Suggesting that I call and leave a message stating  my emergency and try to get some sleep if I could, in a head’s up position, she gave me a bit of daylight in a night turned dark.

Waves of tension and fear receded offshore on this sandbar named ’emergency.’  Rational thinking returned enough to paddle my way to ‘ok, I can make it to morning’ island.

One neon sign of sight loss was absent in this ball of confusion…I had not seen flashes of light in my now covered eye.

The next day, refreshed a bit with a shower and a night’s whisper of sleep, my mind went into clearer focus on a fuzzy topic.

I made a call to another trusted friend, Terry, just in case there might be no room at any inn.  I knew it was best to have second opinions if needed.

She graciously also listened and responded with her own wisdom, kind help and recommendations and numbers.

I breathed in the love and support, building muscles in mind to self advocacy and felt the beginnings of freedoms within what had only been constricted prison of onset helplessness.

It is an amazing gift we give and receive in the present of choices in our communication with friends.

I made a couple of calls and got machines; left messages and prepared to wait.

In the meantime, in getting a bit of necessary business off my plate, I called my contractor’s office to delegate a bit of research and, when saying, “I don’t have time today to make those necessary calls nor do I have time to talk much, I have an eye emergency,” Lisa, asked if I needed a good ophthalmologist.  I almost said ‘no,’ but something stilled my tongue and out popped the word, ‘yes.’

She went on to rave about this ophthalmic group she, her mom, cousins and friends had all used to great success in several areas of needed care.  She gave me the exact information Merri had shared last night.

Shazaam!

Hello Universe!

Wishing me well and assuring me that nothing was more important than taking care of myself and healing, she said she’d handle the business calls and flew off the phone.

Next, my friend Melanie called and when I gave her the 411, she told me to call her group.  She explained that she was one of the most fear-filled eye patients ever and when her doctor had told her she needed to have cataract surgery, she’d told him, “You’re gonna have to knock me out in a hospital to do it!”

Yet, with the gentleness,  expertise , full communication and patience of her ophthalmic surgeon, she’d had actually had the procedure done in the office without the slightest bit of pain or discomfort of any kind.

She blapped out the name of her surgeon and the retinal specialist, who’d taken care of her whole family.  Both on staff at the group Merri and Lisa had independently given me.

Tom, having done research, found outstanding reputations on all recommendations and, in particular, one of the top retinal specialists in New York was part of this group; the very one who’d taken such good care  of Melanie’s family.

Hello Angels!

A moment later, it was that office which got back to me first.

Hello Universe!

An hour later, I had a complete eye exam, had been assured there’d been hemorrhage  in the vitreous but no retinal detachment.  I would not have what I feared most- complete loss of sight.

The next day, though the big guys wasn’t available for weeks, another of their retinal specialists did his own examination and performed laser surgery to seal a retinal tear.

A week later, experiencing some further discomfort and blurry vision, I was back in the office and who was waiting for me?

Yep, you guessed it…that very specialist who I’d wanted to see but had been totally booked weeks out; who as it turns out, also had treated my friend Melanie’s whole family!

Hello Spirit!

One other doctor on their staff turned out to be a man I’d done shows in regional theatre with years ago.  An ophthalmic surgeon with an operatic tenor voice.

Thank you Angels!  Thank you Universe! Thank you Spirit!

Keep connecting the dots for me, please.

I’ll keep looking and listening with outer and inner eyes and ears.

‘Cause I/eye do not object to that!

Quote For The Day

August 15, 2013

“What is tolerance? It is the consequence of humanity. We are all formed of frailty and error; let us pardon reciprocally each other’s folly – that is the first law of nature.”
~Voltaire

Day In Haiku

August 11, 2013

Removed little things

Surgery went well they say

Believing is seeing.

 

Had a rib removed

They’re making a man

God’s sense of humor.

 

 


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