Category Archives: lessons

Can I Get A Pound Of Love?

Love

I’m finally settled in at the new abode. Learning how to navigate traffic patterns, grocery stores, finding new medical providers, and a job has been, shall we say, an experience, but being near the beach has made all of this more tolerable. Salt air works wonders.

One thing I’ve learned for sure is this place is a vortex. Not the hellish whirlpool kind. This area is loaded with people that bring it to life with their energy. There’s a vibe.

I’m not sure if it’s a recipe of transplanted people mixed with the locals and a dash of vacationers for flavor or something else, but there is something extraordinary in the air.

Recently I met a woman who opened her hand to reveal a fist full of glass hearts. I was instructed to pick one, which I did with a smile. She is spreading love, literally.

Cupid and I got to talking, and she explained that since 2003 she has given out approximately 80,000 of these hearts worldwide. That’s a lot of love.

My face must have been saying, “Damn! That’s a lot of hearts/money.” Because without a word, Cupid explained that she purchases the hearts by the pound, and like everything else, the price has escalated. Come on! Gas is one thing, but love?

There was something about this exchange that I couldn’t shake. Over the next few days, the experience kept playing over and over in my head. I would pick up the heart several times daily, hoping for enlightenment. It was nagging.

Well, once again, the universe came through. This time in the form of a website. That’s right, ladies and gentlemen, this extraordinary woman has a website that came to my attention in a way that genuinely confirms there are no coincidences. Well done, universe, well done.

I couldn’t get to Google fast enough to check out her site. To my surprise, but not really, the first thing to hit my eyes was the statement, “Kindness is the Foundation of Peace.” It sure is.

At this moment, I was overcome with emotion. As some of you know, my mother passed in 2020, but she left this world with an exceptional last sentiment. “Be kind to everyone no matter what; this world needs kindness.” https://life-with-the-topdown.com/2020/12/17/be-kind-to-everyone-1926-2020/

Now, here I sit 7 days later, writing this essay, wondering what my next step will be in this world that desperately needs more kindness. Hmmm …

You can check out her story and more about her mission at https://www.radicalkindness.com. It’s proof that it doesn’t take much effort to impact the world positively.

Enjoy the Ride, with Kindness!

Got Thorns?

Photo by Livilla Latini on Pexels.com

We hired a new girl at work. She’s the same age as my daughter and very sweet. This week I was training her on the dynamics of the office. Considering her age, I knew I didn’t have to say too much about the computer system beyond a password. I was right; she’s a wizard.

As we talked and got to know each other, I noticed a common thread in her language. Fear. Not just your common fear of, let’s say, spiders, I’m talking fear of life. What in the world?

I was drained by this negative energy by Tuesday, which was a new reaction for me. Typically, the mother in me takes over, but I stopped noting she has a mother. Who I now know is 11 years younger than me. Next up would be my inner Therapist, who I had to tackle before she started to take on another non-paying patient. Boundaries baby.

On my ride home, I could not shake the thought of our conversations. There was almost a sadness about them, and usually, I’m very understanding. So why the hell was I so annoyed? What is it about myself that I don’t like in this girl? Ding, ding, ding!!!

Then I remembered a chapter from a book I listened to recently, The Untethered Soul by Michael A. Singer titled Removing Your Inner Thorn.

I highly recommend reading or listening to this book for a broader explanation.

This is a complex subject, so I’ll do my best to explain it in the simplest form, and even that is complicated. I think I listened to this chapter 1,000 before it started to sink in.

Let’s say you have a thorn in your arm, and the pain is excruciating because it’s touching a nerve. Of course, you’re not going to let anyone near it because it will cause too much pain. This makes your life very difficult. The thorn now becomes a constant source of disruption in your life. Protecting and hiding is a job.

To solve the issue, you have two choices: One, you continue to protect the thorn, or two, you take it out. As simple as this sounds, it’s actually the most complicated thing a person can do to heal and grow.

Where am I going with this? Well, let me tell you. I’ve had thorns stuck in me for decades! You could say I was a professional thorn protector, or so I thought. I didn’t realize everything I was missing while my energy was focused on creating airbags to keep my thorns at bay. The thorns ran/run my life.

No matter what solution you choose, the thorn will continue to run your life until you remove all the layers, dig deep down to the root and give a good long hug and a quick yank. Free at last.

Through growth and higher consciousness, I’ve learned that my thorns are nothing more than stored energy from the past that sits in my heart. The good part is I noticed my thorn was being poked, but I didn’t have a reactive response; it shows my growth. It’s about time!

When I look at this girl, I see my twenty-something self looking back at me full of thorns. Talk about being tested; she’s my teacher.

The low self-esteem, lack of self-worth, an unhealthy relationship, people-pleasing, and fears out the wazoo were front and center, staring me in the face. Taunting me. Forcing me to feel my own thorns. Oh, not today, Mother F@$#ers, not today.

I thought if I had to sit three feet from my twenty-something self four days a week, I’m going to need a plan that doesn’t involve drugs or alcohol. This was not in the job description.

I asked myself, “what did I need in my twenties?” “what would have helped that wounded girl?”

I had to really dig for an answer without getting too complicated. The answer, drum roll please, I needed someone to see me, the me I didn’t see. In 2022 terms, someone to give an actual f**k.

Now, I’ll have to be subtle. My challenge will be controlling my inner cheerleader to quietly assist this young, intelligent, beautiful soul on her path. Pom-poms in the face could be scary.

Of course, I know I can not heal her thorns, but I can have compassion and not judge her journey. We’re all human. We all have pain.

Recognize the teachers; they seem to show up in the strangest circumstances.

Enjoy the Ride!

Ratty Robe of Worry

Recently, a friend was going through a medical issue and gave what I like to call “the runaround,” having to go from one doctor to the next and shelling out co-pays all along the way. Without thought, I told her Peace of mind is costly.

Later, when the dust settled, she asked me how I came up with that response. This really made me pause since, well, I had no idea. It just came out of my mouth without an ounce of thought. That’s usually where the truth lies.

The truth is I don’t think I’ve ever had Peace of mind, in the true sense. Being born into a household with an older parent, a lot of my childhood was spent worrying about death.

I was 10 years old when I realized my dad was older than my best friend’s grandmom, and in that instant, my carefree childhood began worrying about the future. Fear is so much cheaper than Peace.

If you were wondering, my dad died when I was THIRTY-ONE.

This pattern of worry or fear of the future has been with me for a long time. It didn’t get buried with my dad; it followed me into each phase of my journey. I’ve mastered this behavior.

Now, here I sit at the point in my life where my kids are productive members of society and my parents are ironically resting in Peace. This is supposed to be “my” time. So, why the hell am I sitting in a constant state of waiting for the other shoe to drop? It’s like being in a foreign land without a translator.

Apparently, I’m not comfortable in a state of settled awareness. I don’t even know how to react to being present. I prefer the ratty robe of worry. Currently, I’m training myself to keep that robe in the closet and unify myself with the now. Did I hear good luck with that, Lisa?

There are days, even weeks, when the struggle is real. Why? Well, life. I’m not made of stone, and I have a T.V.

I know for sure that unlearning is a hell of a lot more complicated than learning. Trying to untangle decades of trauma, behaviors, and thought processes will take some time and effort. I’ve been doing the work, as they say, for a year. Yes, I’ve made some significant strides, but the world as we currently know it has me grabbing that ratty robe more often than I’d like. There are no back-to-school sales for unlearning.

Now, if only I had an eraser. Enjoy the Ride!

It’s Complicated

Photo Credit Earth.com

Once again, the universe is knocking on my door. Hello, it’s me again.

This time by way of a post on addiction, alcohol to be exact that stirred up a memory I haven’t thought about in years, 10 to be precise. Our minds are complex places.

The memory is of my sister-in-law and her untimely death due to her prolonged use of alcohol. Her story, like everyone’s, is complicated. The big gray area does exist.

Her name was Debbie, she was 51 years young.

My first impression of Debbie was that she was beautiful, intelligent, fun, creative, and talented. She loved her baby brother very much, and she shared a birthday with my sister. A winner.

As we got to know each other better, I realized something was off, but not having any experience with alcoholism, I just thought she was a bitch. I was naive, and everyone around her was in denial.

I learned that when their mother died suddenly at 48 years old, Debbie was in the middle of a typical mother/daughter squabble, and they were not on speaking terms. Forgiveness also died that day.

Debbie and her siblings were grieving the loss of their mother individually, being left with a disabled father in disbelief and not much help. Two siblings had spouses for support, and three were left to their own devices. Grief is a complex emotion, and this was a recipe for disaster.

All three chose alcohol as the device to numb the ache. One escaped. One continues his imaginary competition with Keith Richards, and Debbie, wearing an anchor of guilt for two decades, was found dead in the melting snow 10 years ago this week. Free at last.

As I said, Debbie was intelligent and creative, two skills that come in handy when you’re keeping a secret of this magnitude from the world around you. Keeping it alive is another story.

Living a lie every dang day had to be exhausting. I can’t imagine trying to keep up with the responsibilities expected of me while strategically contemplating how I will sneak in a drink and keep my act together throughout the day. That is no joke; it’s a full-time job.

I know she wasn’t the first or the last to juggle this lifestyle. We’re only human.

Over the years, her intelligence and creativity grew exhausted, while the disease grew arrogant, insisting on vodka in her coffee, leaving the creamer on the curb. Acceptance? Blind eyes? Both?

As with everyone in her life, we grew frustrated trying to help someone who was not ready to receive the offers. She was in her own way.

Correction, she was ashamed, and shame is a powerful emotion. Seducing her with lies quietly convincing her she was worthless while blocking love like a linebacker. Vodka was her helmet.

So, we made excuses to justify the behavior and make ourselves feel better. Talk about creativity.

  • She’s only hurting herself.
  • She’s a functioning alcoholic.
  • She’ll know when to stop.
  • It’s not like she’s sitting in a bar all day.
  • The list goes on …

After two turbulent marriages, endless lost opportunities, burnt bridges, and too many stints in rehab, the secret was sitting center stage, not Debbie, and it showed. You can only fall down so many times, literally, before surrendering or succumbing.

According to the coroner, she “succumbed” to her disease, alcoholism.

We are ALL worthy of being the best version of ourselves.

If you are suffering, please ask for help. There is no judgment. Make the call.

Do it for Debbie ❤

Alcoholics Anonymous — 800-839-1986.

Timeless Lessons

I have two books sitting on my end table that get a lot of action. More than me, but that’s another story.

One is a small book of Maya Angelou quotes, gifted to me at just the right time and read many times since. Maya’s wisdom can snap me back to reality.

Broken down into five parts, all equal to sending a message at just the right time. The best house guest a girl can have these days.

Self-Empowerment. Who doesn’t need a daily dose of this now and then? I am empowered by this nugget of knowledge to stop doubting on any given day.

“My wish for you is that you continue. Continue to be who and how you are, to astonish a mean world with your acts of kindness. Continue to allow humor to lighten the burden of your tender heart.”

Love. No matter how alone we might feel in this world, there is always one thing that brings us together. Laughter, especially with a friend, is highly recommended by me.

“There is an intimate laughter to be found only among friends.”

Society and Culture. This can be turbulent and beautiful on any given day. Remember, home can be anywhere.

“The ache for home lives in all of us, the safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned.”

Life. In the words of Forrest Gump, “it’s like a box of chocolates.” Between Forrest and Maya, it’s a wrap.

“When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.”

Herself. This is where Maya really shines. This hit me hard, considering our current climate.

“I refuse to allow any man-made differences to separate me from any other humans.”

The second gem is The Boy, the Mole, the Fox, and the Horse, a book written and illustrated by Charlie Mackesy. If you don’t know it, get it now.

c01b9b5c-f454-495c-bc00-a15bd295d966

The book is dedicated to the author’s “lovely kind mum” and his “wonderful dog Dill.” How could this be anything but fantastic with that dedication?

The journey of these four unlikely friends takes its readers on a trip full of life lessons in the most superficial, most profound way to be kind, forgiving, and loving one another. Granted, it’s a children’s book, but the lessons are timeless.

Mr. Mackesy creates a world within the pages that seem foreign to the one we live in today, but the optimist in me doesn’t believe it cannot exist as long as we are willing to participate. A girl can dream.

Always let your wisdom ride shotgun and Enjoy the Ride!

Extra Extra

No News Is Good News

Background: The first recorded use of this exact expression in English is by James Howell in 1640, who wrote, “I am of the Italians’ mind that said, ‘Nulla Nuova, Buona Nuova’ (no news, good news). Some years before that, James 1 of England (VI of Scotland) wrote, “No News is better than evil news.” In case you were wondering like me. Information compliments of bookbrouse.com

Do you know what else Good News is? Umm, plain ole Good News. There is plenty of it out there in the world, but it’s not a moneymaker, so it doesn’t get all the glitz like a good tragedy. Seems a tad backward, but here we are.

Today, I share not only a good news story but the far-reaching effects of a simple gesture of kindness. Many of you may have heard it, and if so, consider it a reminder; if not, enjoy.

I recently found out quite a bit about Sidney Poitier after his death. We both share the same zodiac sign, and shortly after I entered the world in 1964, Sidney won an Oscar. Looks like two Stars were born that year.

After reading about Mr. Poitier’s accomplishments throughout his long life and career, I found his constant strive to be viewed as dignified, with his strong sense of decency to be at the forefront. If only these were available on Amazon …

Now for the good part.

As everyone knows, Mr. Poitier was well known for his elegant speaking voice, but that was not always the case, being born in the Bahamas and arriving in the states with his heavy accent and illiteracy in tow. It’s hard to believe after listening to him for one second.

He told the story many times, but this excerpt is from a CBS interview in 2013.

“There was one of the waiters, a Jewish guy, elderly man, and he looked over at me and was looking at me for quite a while. I had a newspaper, it was called Journal American. And he walked over to me, and he said, ‘What’s new in the paper?’ And I looked up at this man. I said to him, ‘I can’t tell you what’s in the paper because I can’t read very well.’ He said, ‘Let me ask you something, would you like me to read with you?’ I said to him, ‘Yes if you like.’

As the story goes, they would sit together every night after their shifts. This kind man would teach him not only how to read but also the importance of punctuation, why it exists, followed by syllables, how to recognize them in words, and finally, pronunciation. I didn’t get that in my formal education.

This small act of kindness put Mr. Poitier onto a path that led to significant changes, on and off the silver screen. He was not only an actor. He was a published writer, director, and most of all, a social game-changer. Kudos to brave waiters and diner educations.

Although he regretted never getting the opportunity to thank this man in person, I’m going out on a limb to say he unknowingly thanked him every time he opened his mouth.

Be Kind. Share the good news, and Enjoy the Ride!

Good JuJu Only

Photo by Los Muertos Crew on Pexels.com

I’ve been contemplating whether or not to go to the grocery store for way too long this morning. It’s not that easy anymore.

There are two more factors added this morning. The Eagles game, which I hear might be a big deal, and impending bad weather for this evening. This combo is enough to deter the strongest of shoppers.

I started looking around the kitchen to see if I really needed anything. I could use chicken stock, or I can just make something else. Hmm, maybe I don’t need anything. This conversation went on for way too long. I will never get this time back.

In my defense, going to the supermarket is now a full-blown event that requires decisions that have never entered my mind before 2020.

It was bad enough that I had to make sure I had a mask and hand sanitizer, but now, oh, it’s much more. I long for the days when it was just a mask.

Before I head out, I say a prayer of protection, load my bra with energy protecting crystals; yes, you read that correctly, then, and only then, do I grab my mask and sanitizer.

Covid is frail compared to the energy-sucking, opinionated audience I might encounter in the produce aisle. Some folks are looking for potatoes, and some are looking for a debate.

Believe me, I get the urge to debate; I’m just as frustrated. The never-ending confusion is enough to bring anyone to their knees. We are all tired of being tired. We can’t deal with asses too.

Needless to say, I did not go to the supermarket. Instead, I have a creative meal in the oven. I wrote this essay, and I didn’t have to put my bra on, let alone load it with chyrstals. Good juju only!

Enjoy the Ride!

Sheets, Not The Streets

Is Mother Nature a little extra these days, or is it just winter? It’s winter!
If you’re watching the news in the morning as I do, you might think that this is something new for the East Coast in January.

Over the weekend, the media pushed the ICE fear any chance they got. Beware of untreated sidewalks. Freezing rain. Treacherous road conditions. Ice, ice baby.

This tragedy was to occur early Sunday morning. Now, I could care less if I don’t have anywhere to go, but my furballs, a/k/a Peanut & Landie, have to go somewhere to go, if you know what I mean.

As the best dog mother in the world, I set the alarm for 5:00 a.m. to get them out to do their biz before the ice age began.

My bougie fur babies enjoy the comforts of my king-sized bed and down comforter. They’re for the sheets, not the streets.

Peanut & Landie

Living Their Best Life

So, waking them from their lap of luxury to head into the dark artic air is a big freaking deal. It’s even bigger when you have to add coats, collars, leashes, and sidewalks loaded with rock salt.

In the end, it would all be worth it. We’ll be able to cuddle on the couch, knowing we dodged a potential broken back slipping as I tried to wrangle two little fur babies on an ice rink.

I thought ahead. I prepared for the worst. Only to have Mother Nature throw a curveball that ended with a forecast of “It will be warm and sunny unless it’s an ice age.”

If nothing else, this was a reminder that you can have all your ducks in a row, or your ducks can be running wild; we’re not in charge, so do your best and Enjoy the Ride!

Shit Show — Season 2 The Unveiling

Photo by Fillipe Gomes on Pexels.com

As Season 2 of that shit show we call 2020 continues, I must say it’s been interesting. What are we on now Episode 9? All I know is I’ve spent a good portion of it crying at EVERYTHING—my emotions on steroids. Not the happy go lucky ones, the “you look like Alice Cooper” kind. I’ve already lost a pair of contacts to a riptide on my face.

A dear friend reminded me that tears are an excellent way to hydrate. I also believe this to be true. My skin is glistening, and my eyes no longer require fake tears in a bottle. I’m one sad song aways from bottling my own and selling them on Etsy. Tears are Us.

Ok, so back in Episode 1, I was on the brink of losing it. Not only was I grieving the loss of my mother, I had the realization that I was also grieving the loss of the way many things had been for years. I was mostly missing that upbeat call at midnight, wishing me a Happy New Year as I lay sleeping on the couch missing the ball drop. Kind of a bummer for the season opener.

Episodes 2 & 3 were much better. I spent the morning trying to figure out what I could do with this newfound freedom. As I left the house for a fun-filled day with my love interest, I was excited about the possibilities. We walked around a small town in New Jersey that I swear was the set of a Hallmark Christmas movie, and I saw my first sign that anything is possible. It was a plaque with my full name, middle initial, and all, followed by PhD. Not that I have any intention of getting a PhD., but it made me think, ‘you got this world by the balls, now go get it.” All the answers are there if you keep your eyes open.

Oh, Episode 4 was a real doozy! It was my first day back to work after 252727262782 days off, and there was NO INTERNET! I work for a physician, and our entire system is internet-based. The phone was ringing off the hook, patients were coming in with new insurance information, and this one issue was about to paralyze our day. I thought, “No, absolutely not, not today 2021 you 2020 wanna be, NO!” There is always a Plan B waiting in the shadows; no matter what the situation, look and you will find.

Ugh, by noon, the earth was back on its axis, and our internet was restored just in time for the start of Episode 5, which was almost too perfect. These days I’m skeptical of smooth sailing. I’ll assume that’s a little PTSD from 2020. I got into my car, and as always, made sure my phone was on Bluetooth. Why? Because every day for the last, FOREVER days, I called my mom on the way home from work. Another contact fell victim to this cry festival.

Episode 6 began with waking up after a dream that was so vivid and intense it left me lying in bed wondering, “Was that a dream?” I spent the rest of my morning analyzing that bag of crazy before heading to work. As if that wasn’t enough, real-life crazy started with news alerts on my phone about the new Civil War talking place in D.C. Hearing and seeing this footage was alarming, but I was not surprised, to be honest. Was I expecting it so early into Season 2? No, but here we are riding the crazy train. That entire episode shined a big fat light on subjects that can no longer be ignored, denied, or defended. 

As I opened my eyes on Episode 7, I thought, “What’s next?” Ugh, while watching the morning news, it became clear that shit was getting very real here in the good ole U. S. of A. Watching the hypocrites surface and take flight was a real highlight. I’m not positive, but I do believe I may have broken a record for consecutive obscenities screamed at an object a/k/a a T.V.  Oh, and I was laid off, but I’m happy.

Wow, that is all I can say for Episode 8. The list of flip-flopping hypocrites was growing at record speed. At the same time, our Commander in Lies continues to search for a 12-year-old with more than one social media account he can use, and we are now up to 5 senseless deaths following whatever the hell that was that took place in Episode 6. On the bright side, I had a male and female cardinal show up in the tree outside my window. They spent over an hour watching my every move. I’m just going to call them mom & dad and leave it at that. 

Episode 9 opened up with ANOTHER vivid dream that was absolutely exhausting. I really believe this is the universes way of saying “Girl, we tried to tell you while you were awake, but you kept ignoring us.” We all know what this means – change is a coming. Something tells me those cardinals are working hard.

As I look at my personal life and the world around us, the veil is being lifted from reality. On a personal level, I recognize things about myself and those around me who may or may not remain in my circle with a clear lens. The evil and injustices evident to many for far too long are finally getting recognized with greater clarity and an undeniable audience. A change is gonna come.

In the meantime, my griefcase is packed, my eyes are open, and as always, I’ll fasten my seatbelt for the rest of Season 2 and try to Enjoy the Ride! 

Christmas 2020 Style

Photo by Ana Rocha on Pexels.com

Christmas morning 2020, quietly sitting listening to the rainfall outside. The deck doors are open, and a nice unseasonably warm breeze is blowing through the room while I bite the limbs off of a gingerbread man and sip coffee.

My children are adults, so there is no need to be awake at this time, yet here I am scrolling through my FaceBook memories of past Christmas celebrations surrounded by family, friends, laughter, and love. Jeez, talk about a mixed bag of emotions coming to the surface.

Last year our house was full to the brim. We were full of Christmas spirit with two new little ones in the family experiencing all of their firsts. They had no clue what was going on, but it didn’t matter to all of us oohing and aahing over every move they made.

Our celebration today will look much different. My mind is not fully committed to the festivities today, but my heart is aching for some sense of normalcy, so I’m going to do my best, and that will be enough.

This year it’s a party of 6, not 16, so I will not need engineering skills to ensure that everyone has a seat at the table. Although I’ll be missing the others dearly, it allows me to embrace this crew with extra love. I hope they’re all ready for the hug fest that’s waiting for them over here.

Thanks to technology, we’ll be able to share in the little ones enjoying the excitement of Santa on repeat if we want, and we can FaceTime the others around the country to spread some cheer. As for those who we lost, we will be keeping their spirits alive sharing the many memories we had the privledge of making over the years.

My Christmas wish for the future is to just continue on with life. Continue to see the good and be good. Continue to have patience. Continue to be healthy. Continue to grow. Continue to heal. Continue to recognize the love around us. Continue to surprise a sometimes mean world with acts of kindness.

Continue to Enjoy the Ride!

%d bloggers like this: