Two Year Anniversary And Still Sandy

November 5, 2014

by Florence Ondré

 

“I’d have a go bag ready, but she already got mine 2 yrs ago.”  is what I said out loud as I saw Liz Treston’s go bag photo posted on Facebook.

And, as I read my dear friend, Veronica’s posted anniversary words of wisdom and great heart, stating that she couldn’t participate in celebrations until her friend, Florence and everyone was back home, I was touched deeply, as I accepted the light she sends and asks for; knowing you all dear earth angels do surround, lift and uphold me in light..2 years ago,  today and going forward in a journey that is still longer than anyone expected.

Couldn’t do the lighted ceremony walk and standing tonight.

For me,  it would have been a schlepp and crawl… yet I thank my dear friend, Lori Stein, for taking my spirit with her; walking in light and love; carrying me in her heart and placing my ribbon on the boardwalk with hers.

Odd day…morning took me back to 2 years ago….looking out at the grey ocean, I remembered sandbagging til we couldn’t see day light then grabbing what we could carry, to evacuate to my son and daughter-in-law’s apartment on the 4th floor of their apartment building around the corner.

As much as my son was hurricane-prepared, we were all not one bit prepared for the magnitude of the disaster bearing down on us.

I’ll never forget thinking at night, ‘Ok we lived through the first high tide, now just one more and we’re home free.’

Then, seeing the tsunami size wall of water breaking the sea walls; rolling down my street, over my house and the neighborhood; bending light poles to the ground; sweeping vehicles along raging waters like paper boats; submerging them  and covering everything to blackout in the entire island, wiped out forever what slight hope there was for anything less than total devastation lingering in  our shocked minds and stunned hearts.

Watching exploding green transformers in the pitch dark; feeling winds and rain rocking our shelter of a 6 story building like a leggo tower and seeing fires grow like flower blossoms into ever bigger raging in homes in the canals, brought me to my knees as prayer died on my lips.

I don’t think I yet have the feeling back in me even as I remember.

It is weird how sunshine on water make me stop disconnectedly in my tracks and I’m discombobulated, like my grand children, by wind.

There is a wariness about weather and a tentativeness to living.

Maybe it is in large part because I am one of thousands still not home.  I feel the homelessness acutely in a deep ravine of sadness within me as at the same time I am grateful for the roof over my head, which I know is necessary shelter… but still not home.

My landlady and her sister have become dear family to me.  Yet I am still a stranger in a strange land.

I love that they understand with compassion and outrage that I have to go through a recovery that is not a recovery at all..but a challenge as high as the “Game Of Thrones’ winter wall.

Today I met three deadlines with minutes to spare.  Titan’s work. Man-made, hamstringing, keep-you-from-getting-back-home-or-surviving; working a cut throat game of keep-away with funds supposedly earmarked for survivor’s home rebuilds.

Duly filled out in proscribed forms, I sent all out on angels wings and marvel at myself for the miracle of getting my sight back just in the nick of time for me to bear another kind of brutality of Ocobert 29th….insurmountable mountains of paperwork, unimaginable feats of courage and endurance, and superhuman, lift-the-car-off-the-kid,where does it come from – strength.

People think I am a never-ending deep well of can do….sometimes I can/sometimes I cannot.

Today is a sci-fi conglomeration of both.

As the last ‘t’ is crossed &’ i’ dotted, I am grateful for my dear Tom, at my side then and now, who sits beside me and acknowledges with words what I haven’t been able to say out loud…”I want to feel like we should be celebrating something big but I just feel so exhausted & numb.”

I am once again , as always, appreciative that he speaks my heart and soul; knowing and showing continually that we are on the same page.  And I am grateful for his help with everything that gets thrown like tons of bricks at us.  I walk around sighing out loud with no explanation of the sighing. It’s like steam hissing out of my very cells of my weary worn body.

Sandy taught me to accept that I have no control over much outside my own self, and even that is not set in stone.  So, sometimes, I just lay down;  flattened and give myself over beyond 100 per cent and say the short form prayer….”Help.”

Today, grand daughter, Selia, had her first grade class trip to Schmitts farm and asked if I would go too.  I took those few precious hours off from paperwork mountain and thought, as I watched the children’s pure joy at learning how to pull radishes from the earth and green beans from their stems, ‘This is the perfect way to spend the second anniversary of the storm which changed us all forever… to be involved in life-giving simplicity.’

So,  instead of going to the rebuilt, multimillion dollar boardwalk, which I cannot seem to make friends with or the ocean which can rise up and knock the stuffings out of everything,  we took time off from work, so Selia could have both her Gramence and Grampy with her.

I’m glad we both were there today.  It seemed right in so much wrong.

And,  I am content at the end of the evening to have hugged and been hugged by my grand daughter and her classmates and happy in the company of good teachers and friendly, 6 year old, farmers who get delight out of the discovery of earth worms under radish leaves and run with free abandon to climb haystacks to slide down a curlicue tube; shrieking with delight… certainly not thinking of how scary 2 years ago was or how long so many could not be with their school or pals because they were displaced.

I drink in the energy of them as they pile onto the tractor and sip their juice boxes and hug sheep on this Autumn day which warmed to near summer temps….just to give us pleasure on a day which was anything but.

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Threads In Theatre Tapestry

October 20, 2014

by Florence Ondré

 

My friend, talented actor, Ashley Grantham, posted on facebook, these profound and grace-filled words of newly passed actress, Marian Seldes, from one of her interviews with James Grissom for his book, “Follies Of God:”

“The theatre keeps presenting to me the wonderful experiences of learning to tell time and falling in love for the first time.   I get these experiences-these feelings- every time I work on a play.  I get to start all over and relearn things, and I get to meet new friends– family, really– to whom I can give and receive love.  And this rejuvenates me, and it keeps me strong to serve the writer, to serve the play.  I guess I’m saying that I am always loving and I am always bending  time, and that’s as good a description as I can manage of a life in the theatre.”

Reading this perfect description of work and purpose in the theatre, simply stunned me with the accuracy of what it is all about and how fortunate we are, both those of us who do this work and those who experience the soul and life touching in the witnessing.

Over the years, I’ve struggled with the my own high respect for all aspects of theatre and, as time moves on, feeling a bit like performing has slipped into more a personality contest; worth minutes of limelight and too light an affair of single dimension, than a craft with depth in the endeavor.

I think to myself as I read Ms. Seldes words of wisdom, garnered from years of experience and well-earned success, ‘Who speaks like this anymore?

Who waxes multi-levelly on ever-expanding understanding of the depths and heights of their work with such careful and honest thought?

Who shares, with such kindness and generosity of heart, the inner workings to inspire and give how-to-gifts to co-worker-family with regards to spending well the coin of their realm of time upon this stage of life?

Who ‘gets it’ on so many layers of understanding lessons come to fruition by humble work ethic and love of profession?’

To be able to ‘start all over,’  ‘relearn things’ and know family of choice shows up in family of work for the claiming, if one is lucky enough to be awake and aware; to go beyond what one can see and touch to ‘always being loving’ and ‘time bending,’ both of which we are all capable of if only we would be open to that inner viewing, knowing and relishing.  How fabulous is that?!  How fantastic is the possible zest and willingness to see our own lives and work and days filled with this kind of love, service to chosen craft and be in awe of the time-bending we do in our mortal moments?

For me, I have to go back to my roots to see how far I’ve come on my journey and what light of clean scrubbed-faced-wonder still lives and breathes in me and whatever work I do.  What integrity, such as the above, was in me at the beginning and what wisps of wonder waft through my being today?  What nugget of motivation fuels my creativity and how have my perceptions changed or remained the same?

Surprised by  MS. Seldes beautiful, oh-so-acurate description of acting as ‘bending time,’ the breath of complete understanding and new realization hit me like Cupid’s arrow to the heart. These wonder full words, cobbled together, describe the indescribable; the intangible.  The very reading of the words is an ‘aha’ moment.

This is what work in theatre always felt like to me….working in wonder.

In my early, tenderling, formative theatre years, I fairly glowed with this shining light and thirst for learning and giving; for exploring one’s nugget of skill to be willing to be of service to the skills and talents of others in cooperative creation.

In a world of so much great talent, it is easy to be have humility and keep practicing; working while still searching for one’s own best defining talent.  One can be told by respected teachers what they see before their wise eyes and yet have depth of understanding dawn down the road.

It is only later , I learned what my team of master teachers in my first summer stock, at Dorothy Shay’s Duke’s Oak Theatre, where I was a most grateful apprentice, meant in their end of season review and assessment of skills learned and strengths discovered.

As I stood along on the bare stage, with only a work light for company, I heard their individual report cards.

“You are not the best of the dancers.”  “You may not be the greatest of the actors.” “You do not have the best voice of all.”

Time stopped.  My young heart sank because I was the last of the apprentices to be reviewed and the others, with family lines tracing back to theatre royalty of Lunt and Fontanne, Windust and Ritter had received high marks for at least one of these areas of performance.

It seemed forever in moments, standing statued still in my leotard and tights, waiting for their collective summation.

My mind raced hurdles with fear.  Did I have a career ahead?  Would I be good enough in this life of endeavor which I’d always known since childhood was my passion and lifeblood; a part of me like breathing; a place in the world to contribute and make a difference with my own gifts; to be of service?

Or had it all been in my own head; a fantasy land from which they would flunk me?

Breathe and smile, breath and smile your tremulous teen smile.

“…but you have ‘it,’ ” I heard  director, Mary Ann Dentler, of Broadway’s “Peg O My Heart,”  say.

“It?”

After politely thanking the board of theatre owners and master teachers,  I exited stage right in confusion and disappointment.

What was ‘it’?  Could I put that on a head shot and resumé?  How could this be an attribute when ‘it’ sounded like the plague?

“How did you do?”  my enormously and validated, talented singer, dancer and actor apprentices, excitedly asked as I stumbled into the wings.  “What did they tell you is your best attribute or strong suit?”  “What did they say?”

In a soft, quiet, uncomprehending, green voice, I replied, “They said, I had ‘it.’ ”

They hugged me.

I never knew if they understood anymore than I, what this invisible gift from the gods was, they were simply my first family in the theatre. It was these dear ones I loved; who loved me back in that special energy of unconditional acceptance which I came to know as extended family with each show and cast I’ve been privileged to join.

A life in the theatre is endless learning and growing; transcending all barriers; ascending and plummeting the roller coaster of emotions.

And, when you can touch an audience, even when you are not the best singer, dancer or actor; yet reach into hearts in the dark and move  people to tears and laughter and give them pause for thoughtful looking within, there beyond all wishes otherwise, is the best gift one can bring and give in the theatre, “it!”

You can study til you’re blue in the face, but this odd nugget is what you are either born with or not.

…The incandescent warmth of connection; tender, always loving, time bending, in the ever-expanding family and leaps of learning…. honest to goodness, ‘it!’

 

 

 

 

 

Butterfly Angels

October 18, 2014

by Florence Ondré

 

A classmate from high school, Sue Floyd Turner, posted a lovely picture of a person looking at a butterfly fluttering closely by, on which a quote from Doreen Virtue, read, “Butterflies are often messengers of love sent from Heaven above.”

In this month of the 2 year anniversary of superstorm sandy, where so many thousands of us remain displaced; out of our homes with not much more than empty and broken promises in a recovery system that has failed us cruelly, life has become a ‘before’ and ‘after.’

‘Anniversary,’ what a disconcerting name for an event not engendering much singing, dancing or huzzah celebration.

While stunningly still struggling to survive in hardship and basic deprivation as deeply devastating as the storm at landfall 2 years ago, it has been hard to know if Angels are anywhere near.

We tens of thousands feel forgotten; yesterday’s news, receivers of  “Aren’t you done, already?” “Thought you were back home because the yard looks nice.” “I thought everything was fine by now,” comments.  We’re a people of the invisible in between; halfway to or nowhere near a land called ‘rebuild; trying to appear as some semblance of  lost ‘normal.’

In all the overwhelming, with deadlines and more cut offs and losses of help to get back home and frustrating feelings of hopelessness, I realize as I stopped and read this post, that I have noticed the occasional butterflies wafting by in odd circumstances and places.

‘Stragglers to the winged migration,’  I’ve been thinking, as I push on to the next meeting, pound through redundant paperwork, sit on phones trying to track down information to open the channels of funds earmarked for rebuilding which still remain tied up in  mismanagement and blood red tape… and send light to be of some support, inspiration and oddball humor to as many as I can.

Sitting in sunset silence in the backyard of my gutted house; letting my eye and heart wander; remembering which flowers and trees were planted where, before, I can practically smell the lilac tree;  creator of Monet lavender and jade moments,  which grew, over the years, to lush health and  tallness like my sons who played with their friends there; growing up with the roses and blueberry and raspberry bushes; the garden where the great zucchini, big enough for 5 boys to have to line up and hold, took reign over string beans, tomatoes, broccoli and carrots and gave giant sunflowers, as tall as the first floor of the house, a run for their money…the grape arbor that shaded the patio where our golden retrievers lay for cool shade and the evergreen, with soft, sweeping-the-ground arms, that covered the hiding place, buffalo-wallow-like retreat of Bailley, our dog blogger.  The sheltering boughs of the years-before-us, Russian olive tree which created a secret garden corner nook where children, big and small, could look up to see soft silver fur on the underside of green leaves and peek through bird and squirrel nests to see patches of blue sky and scudding puffy white clouds to play ‘who-can-find-the-angel’ in them…the puny peach sapling, newly planted only days before destruction; the least likely to survive and the surprising sole survivor of the flood, produced a prodigious portion of precious peaches this season.

In this back and forth memory lane, I am less sad and more comforted as I pull my focus back to present and see the empty canvas, waiting to be a new work of art in nature.

As I wipe the tears from my face, a lone butterfly comes flittering by: kissing the fluffy stalks rising from the gift given by next door neighbors,  after the flood receded; a small clump of dune grass replanted in hope for life.  For the first year, it drew in upon itself and faltered in the spot where our robust butterfly bush had made its honeyed home; busy with buzzing bees and beautiful butterflies, before the sea drowned it.  Yet, this summer, this dune grass plant tripled its size and grew strong stalks; wide, lengthy, variegated  leaves and white, fluffy, feathery arms high   in sea breeze and whipping-winds, interpretive dance, above the cedar newly reposted, salvaged, cedar fence .

It is odd what died and what lived; what withered and what thrived.

My human focus, needing to be on surviving myself, took me away from the garden and as I sit still, now, in its energy; noticing, I realize that this backyard haven was the first place: the first piece in a puzzle of gigantic loss, where I let go.

This design is no longer mine.  Everything grows or not in its own perfect way, without me.

What lives, lives. What doesn’t doesn’t.

And, just for today; just for these moments, I am grateful for it all as I sit in the simple silence of what might be…whenever it will be.
And I send thanks to Sue and Doreen for reminding me that Angels come in many forms to gently light upon our awarenesses like butterflies, uplift, lighten burdens and show us, in all the world changes and crushes, that we’re not alone or forgotten.

We are guided and loved.

… and, ooh,  ooh… just as I typed these words on my laptop at my makeshift desk, there’s a butterfly right outside my window here in Mt. 6 Manjaro; the top floor, high rise apartment shelter I fondly have dubbed thus, from the early days when I had to climb 7 flights of stairs up and down several times a day when there was no electricity, elevator, heat, water or sewer.

There she is with her rice paper wings, saying hello and farewell;  readying to make an arduous, miraculous journey of her own from New York to Mexico…from start to finish.

How will she do it?

How will we?

On Angel’s wings perhaps.

 

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.

Day In Haiku

June 17, 2014

Energy rising

Hitting heights only to fall

Inevitably

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.

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.

 

 

Gifts From The Edge Of Age

April 17, 2014

On the eve of my 71st bday, with home still not rebuilt from the superstorm of a year and a half ago’s devastation and still sheltering in the little apt/ storage unit I’ve fondly named Mt 6 Manjaro, I realize that I teeter on the edge of great courage and persistence in faith in spirit, angels and unseen good yet to manifest and exhaustion from hanging on by my fingernails; wondering, when I’m so overwhelmed with a million things I ‘must’ do in areas of jobs I never thought I’d ever have chosen as even one life career, and ask, “What the heck, God?!?”
I hear people talk to me and impart the nuts and bolts of their architect, engineer, surveyor, inspector, banker, insurancer, tax assessor, environmentalist, attorney, federal lawness & N.Y. risingship, and I know I’m listening intently, trying to look fairly intelligent and scribbling notes faster than a scribe under the watchful eye and whip of Pharaoh, and yet, as quickly as I fill up the information laced at me faster than the speed of light (because everyone is on short time and shorter fuses) all the words and never-ending lists of new things I ‘must’ accomplish in order to move on to the next baby step plateau, sift like shifting sands of the Kalahari, out my ears into the wind; the never ceasing wildness of wind here on the shores of the Atlantic where I feel like I’m no longer at an American seaside of softly rolling waves to silver shore but rather on high crags and cliffs of Wales overlooking the wild, wind-whipped, angry North sea in perpetual winter. It is a no man nor woman’s land. No green nor color.  Just the ever-wailing wind sanding the hide off humans and wearing energy to a wraith.
Help needed this week has not come, from any source or promise.  Common courtesy was absent.   No one even returned phone calls…not those paid to help nor friends who said they would.
All leave me behind the eight ball with deadlines crushing down on me, I’m ill prepared to meet on my own.  Disappointment deluges.
Even my overall case manager went on vacation in the very week I need to submit sheaves of legal documents to protect my claim to funds for rebuild.  My phone ate the contents list I worked on for over a year and now I face starting climbing that Everest all over again and losing untold thousands of dollars which would help sustain me for the coming year, which all the ‘experts’ say a rebuild will take.
Perhaps the angels, who have been whispering in my ear all week, “They don’t call ’em dead lines for nothing!” have something there.
Looking back over this year, when I thought I’d be back in my home… such an optimist, I, … the view is of a landscape of sadness and laughter borne of a wringing the sardonic out of this satire life’s become.  It’s been more of a ‘might as well laugh or you’ll wind up crying’ sort of strength of stressed survivorship.
I’ve seen caring and compassion; coarseness and coldness in this massive recovery.  People are tired; backs up against the wall hardened or worn down to giving-up from the insiders and shocked or ‘don’t want to hear it anymore’ from the insulated outsiders.
It is interesting to be treated like a pain in the ass or the village idiot and certainly a challenge to remember who you are; still stay determined; continue to speak up and ask for help in the face of barriers of b.s. empty promises and ‘we’d love to help you but nobody helped us,’ barely buried attitudes.
All this makes it a head-shaking task to trust anyone.  There’s a post Katrina part of Sandy aftermath, being treated as a criminal instead of a person needing aid and, unfortunately, the mistrust comes from organizations meant to help and, sadly, sometimes from people you know who you think know you.
I know I want to think the best of people and hope they think of me as trustworthy too and yet here I sit on the brink of the next decade, sort of thinking ‘Who gives a hoot what I think?’
‘What am I doing here?’
Relationships have shredded and people I love are gone.  Even when they are right in front of you they are off in their own story and into the tangle of detaching and coming apart.
‘Where’s the love?’  I wonder dejectedly to myself
…And then Nikki, my God daughter off in Arizona, messages me from out of the blue; sending a photo of a woman in a neon green (my fav color) shirt which reads, “Blessings to all Earth Angels!” (the appellation I call all of us here on Earth).  She says, “Saw this & thought of you!” and includes a big smiley face.
I have now had two gifts on the eve of my birthday…a nap and a photo reminder of who I am; who I am to others …a reminder that I am still thought of, no matter how far the distance in time or geographics.
This puts me back in focus…
In the flow of allowing the Universe to bring me better than I can imagine as I let go of this narrow, chaotic confusion which blurs my vision and hurts my heart with its seeming importance in a sea of illusion of what matters.
I let go.
The third gift.
I let go of people and their journeys and move away, relinquishing judgement, as I simply see who can and who will; who can’t and who will not.

It is once again down to a ‘noticing.’
And one must be still and silent to notice…to allow.
And see the simple and most powerful gifts….
The love and light in my life, no matter who or what goes out; the fact that I’m still here, so there must be more for me to enjoy; more light to shine and be shined upon; more ‘Aha!’ moments; more peace; more joy; more perfect health in a changing body; new lessons to learn; more ease; more fun!

All with my dear Tom, ‘the one I love who loves me,’ ever at my side, with whom to enjoy the best of the best still coming and evolving all around us. We’ve had some wonder full adventures so far and we are fortunate in each other’s good company; still green and growing.
In this musing, this looking back, this seeing and being open to whatever is to come…and go…
In gratitude for all the joys and griefs of this past year, of which there have been many of each…..
the path opens in me and before me…..
I let go of all to receive more.
In Light and Love
Florence

Quote For The Day

December 29, 2013

“Once you have become awake and aware, you can never go back to where you were, how you were, no matter how you may try.” Florence Ondré

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! 


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