No Place Like It

 

Home.

Even the word sounds warm and cozy to me.

It’s the place I arrive at the end of the day, worn and frazzled from that cold, cruel world out there, to find refuge and safety and comfort. A place to rest, with a roof over my head, and walls all around to shield me from danger. Where my heart can find peace, and my mind blessed clarity.

My safe haven. Where I belong.

And, if that wasn’t enough, I find someone there who I love, and who loves me, who shares this home with me, this life with me. In my case, it’s a loving, devoted wife, and two precious kitty cats.

And home means even more to me.

This holiday season, when home plays such a central role, tell me: What does it mean to you?

Can’t wait to hear from you.

 

Everybody needs a place to rest
Everybody wants to have a home

”Hungry Heart”, Bruce Springsteen

Letter From a Caring Friend

 

In therapy, I’m learning about self-compassion, the concept of treating yourself in times of pain and suffering as a compassionate, caring friend would. One of the self-compassion exercises is to write a letter to yourself from a caring friend, imagining what that person would say to you when you’re down, instead of what you usually say to yourself.

This is the letter I wrote. I want to share it, in case any of you want to write your own letter. And, if you want to learn more about this treatment, visit http://www.self-compassion.org.

 

Dear You,

First of all, I want you to know, I love you. No matter what. I need you to know that.

I’ve seen you suffering for a long time, now. It breaks my heart, and I’m so sorry for what you’re going through. If I could take all your pain away right now, I would do it.

You give yourself a lot of grief when you make a mistake. Any mistake. I know you think it diminishes you as a person in the eyes of others. You feel stupid. You feel like you can’t help but screw up, and you will always screw up, so you’re hopeless.

And you hurt. You hurt so much, you can feel it in your body. Sometimes, it even makes you wonder if maybe, everyone would just be better off without you around.

I’m really sorry that this is your life. I just want you to feel my embrace right now. I have my arms around you, and I’m sending all the love and compassion in me right into you.

Feel it. It’s warm. It’s comforting. It’s enveloping. You’re wrapped in it. Stay in it. As long as you need.

Listen to me: You’re a person of value. There are people in your life who love you. Think about them. Look at their faces. Listen to each of them telling you they love you.

Does that make you feel good? Stay in that moment. They don’t care about the mistakes you make. They care about you. They love you so much. Immerse yourself in that love. You love them, right? Well, it goes both ways. Trust me.

Their love is a soft, warm blanket. Cover yourself with it. Burrow down into it. Feel its warmth. Spend some time there.

This blanket is available for you anytime you need it.

And, next time you make a mistake, just remember: we all make them. We all make ’em! And usually, they’re the same ones, over and over. That’s called, being human. So, ease up on yourself; treat yourself nice. No name-calling. No beating yourself up. You’re still the same caring, loving, funny, good person you were before you made the mistake.

Always remember: you’re fine just as you are. I accept you, and I love you, just as you are. Feel my embrace, one more time, and take it with you everywhere.

And Walk in Love.

Your good friend,

Me

Savior (a set of lyrics)

 

I see you there in that cold, dark cell,
Where you’ve been living your personal hell.
Nothing but darkness before your eyes.
No one can hear you and your helpless cries.

The weight of the world, you feel in your bones.
You feel abandoned, completely alone.
You tell yourself, this must be the end.
But, I’m here to tell you, you have a friend.

Just reach out your hand, I will take hold.
I’ll be your savior from the dark and the cold.
I’ll show you sunlight and blue skies above.
I’ll show you compassion, and I’ll show you love.
I’ll show you love.

I know this world can break you in half.
You hide your crying behind jokes and laughs.
You’re certain that no one is hurting like you.
But, I’m here to tell you that I’ve been there, too.

So, reach out your hand, and I will take hold.
I’ll be your savior from the dark and the cold.
I’ll show you sunlight and blue skies above.
I’ll show you compassion and I’ll show you love.
I’ll show you love.

I’ll show you love.

Looking With a Different Eye

 

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Okay, kids, here’s a fun little experiment for you to do:

Look at some object in the distance. Focus on it. Then, close one eye, hold up your thumb and position it so that it blocks your view of that object.

Got it? Great! Now, without moving the thumb, close that eye and open the other one.

Holy smokes! What just happened??

The object didn’t move, the thumb didn’t move, everything stayed the same. Only now, that object is right out there in plain view. Cool!

Yeah, I know, it’s nothing you didn’t already know, what else ya got, this was lame, yada, yada, yada…

But, really, how much of your time did that just take up, a few seconds?

And it’s a good reminder of how different the same picture can appear when viewed from a different eye.

 

One of the toughest things in the world to change is…an attitude. Especially the longer you cling to it, and the more comfortable you get with it. To change the way you look at something is risky, but oftentimes necessary.

One of the symptoms of depression, which I’ve had for years, is the tendency to get easily irritated by everyone and everything. All the time. Little things can just drive you nuts.

I’m around certain people, on a regular basis, who say things and do things that aggravate me to no end. Sometimes, I dread even being around them, for that very reason; I know I’m gonna get annoyed. 😠

Which is sad, considering they’re family.

I realize, I need to look at them with a different eye. They simply are what they are. The picture will not change; my view has to. Instead of resenting their idiosyncrasies, I need to accept them, to embrace them. I need to remember, these are people I love, that I’m glad I have them in my life, that it’s important to cherish the time we spend together, as long as we have it.

Besides, I know I’m definitely no day at the beach, either.

So, to whom it may concern:

Just a reminder, I love you all dearly. I’m glad you’re here. I will work on getting annoyed by you less and appreciating you more, because you are family, and family is priceless.

I’ll try to be less of a pain, too. Thanks for tolerating me, in the meantime.

Now, to the rest of you:

If you find yourself around some family members over the holidays who stir up the same emotions, try your best at looking through a different eye at them. I know, it’ll be tough. Remember, they didn’t get to pick you, either. Family is, or at least, should be, a refuge in the turbulent storms of life. We need each other, now more than ever.

Then maybe, we can summon up the courage to train that different eye on the rest of the world, and see something we never did before.

Who knows what can happen, then?

Oh, yeah…you can put your thumb down, now. 😏

 

Hands to the Task (a set of lyrics)

 

Well, I’ve been around awhile, and I’ve seen a few things change,
But, sadly, I’ve seen others stay the same.
We’ve gone a thousand miles on, what seemed, a forward path,
Still, we ended up right back from where we came.
I used to think that, that was just our fate.
But, just in case it isn’t yet too late,

I think it’s time I set my hands to the task,
And start working to make this world somewhere peace and love can last.
Yes, I know it will be hard, but it’s worth giving everything,
Finally, I see the truth: I receive just as I bring.

We say, “We need to talk about what’s going on,”
Only talking’s all we ever seem to do.
And we can talk all night and day, but it won’t do any good
If we don’t take that next step and follow through.
Even if that step we take is wrong,
We’ve already put it off for much too long.

I think it’s time I set my hands to the task,
And start working to make this world somewhere peace and love can last.
Yes, I know it will be hard, but it’s worth giving everything,
Finally, I see the truth: I receive just as I bring.

Black and white, in between,
Men and women, all convene
To edit and rewrite the scene
And show it on the giant screen.
No more inhumanity,
No more inequality,
No more hatred, no more war,
No more hunger anymore,
No more homeless, no more poor.
Isn’t that worth striving for?
I think it’s worth trying for.
I’m all done with crying for…

I think it’s time I set my hands to the task,
And start working to make this world somewhere peace and love can last.
Yes, I know it will be hard, but it’s worth giving everything,
Finally, I see the truth: I receive just as I bring.
Finally, I see the truth: I receive just as I bring.

 

My (So Much) Better Half

 

What attracted me first was the eyes.

I met her when we were in our early twenties, in the college age Sunday School class at our church. I led the singing one Sunday, when I was home from school, and she played piano for me.

Then, I traveled back to school later that day, and pretty much forgot about that encounter. So, our story really didn’t begin there; just a footnote, more or less.

Fast forward a couple of years. I was graduated and back home, and we were in a different Sunday School class together. She was having some of us over to her apartment for her birthday. I was the first to arrive, and so we had time to talk awhile.

And that’s when I noticed those eyes. Those big, beautiful eyes. The kind you could just gaze into all day.

And, as we talked, I noticed a few other things. Her intelligence. Her honesty. Her smile. Her sense of humor. We had a pleasant conversation that afternoon.

And it still took me another month to ask her out (!) That’s how fast I moved.

But, it was the second best thing I ever did for myself.

The first was marrying that girl two years later.

 

The month of July is a significant one for me for two reasons. One of them is my birthday, which is sort of good news/bad news these days. It’s a commemoration of another year lived on this planet, and a reminder that I’m another step toward the grave. I’m on past middle age; I don’t imagine myself living to 114. I’m on the downhill side of my life, which explains the increasingly rapid pace at which it passes. Still, I try to be grateful for every year I’m still here.

(Incidentally, there are plenty of other July birthdays in my family. Apparently, October was quite an active month.)

The second big reason is my wedding anniversary. This year will mark our 32nd.

Incredible. It went by like nothing, but it’s also felt like we’ve been together our whole lives.

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The fact that this woman has put up with me that long is worthy of a medal, if not a parade. Ain’t no doubt, this boy won the Lottery on his wedding day.

The wedding, incidentally, was somewhat eventful. Love birds escaped their cages and flew around awhile. A groomsman fainted just as I was kissing the bride.

Oh, well, give the people their money’s worth, right?

So, that’s how we started out, and it’s been a wonderful ride ever since. The more I’ve gotten to know this lady, the better I like her.

I’ve never known anyone so thoughtful before in my life, who thinks of other people’s needs as often as she does, and is so willing to do what she can to help.

She has a terrific sense of humor. She’ll come up with stuff sometimes that simultaneously cracks me up and makes me envious that I didn’t think of it first.

Like me, she’s a sucker for animals. She’s got a tender heart for cats, dogs, and all baby animals. (“Aren’t they cute?”)

She is absolutely devoid of pretense; she’s genuine. What you see is what you get. She’s honest to a fault. (As is the rest of her family, as I learned)

She has a very strong sense of fairness, and bristles at injustice anywhere she observes it. She believes in, and respects, the dignity of every individual, and treats them accordingly, as she would want to be treated.

And she loves me, as she’s proven over and over again.

And, oh yeah, she’s pretty, too.

 

We’ve had some wonderful times together. Over the years, we’ve been fortunate to visit several places across America, see beautiful things, and have unforgettable experiences. One that stands out to me is standing on the balcony of our hotel room on Waikiki Beach and watching the sun set over Honolulu. Never thought I’d actually get to do that. It’s just one of many dreams come true in my life.

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Of course, we’ve had some experiences that were not so pleasant; such is life. But we’ve been there for each other through it all, and we always will be.

Does she drive me nuts sometimes? Sure.

Do I return the favor, in spades? Bet all your money on it.

But we both know, we’re in this thing for the long haul. We made a commitment to each other all those years ago, in front of God and several credible and semi-credible witnesses, to be with other for as long as we both shall live. And, 32 years later, here we are, looking forward to more wonderful years together.

And her eyes are as beautiful as ever.

Happy Anniversary, darling. Thank you for being my wife. You’re my very best friend, and there’s no one I’d rather hang out with. Thank you for sticking with me through bad times, as well as good. Thank you for your devotion and support. Thank you for your patience, which I constantly put to the test. Mostly, thank you for loving this lucky guy for all these years.

I Love You so very, very, very much.