Friday, October 30, 2009

Twenty-five years of "stuff"

Interesting photos huh? You wonder, perhaps, what are they of? They are pictures of, over two decades of "stuff" I have collected that represents my life's work - a ministry of sorts - as my work is a calling to serve - a life of honoring humanity - work that served the vulnerable and needy, broken, wounded, addicted - often helpless - yet hopeful people whose lives crossed with mine - miraculously crossed with mine.
My degrees and certifications were framed, my books lined shelves - everything from Miss Piggy's Guide To Life to The Courage To heal, folders of carefully chosen inspirational writings and poems, props for groups like the "Golden Key" which when passed around each person would share about what this golden key' would open were it to be magical, my little 'box of miracles' and box of quotes' and when passed around the group members would pick a random miracle or quote card and share on what it meant to them, and my basket - oh my basket. - filled with cards and letters from clients and family members of clients who took the time to write to me to say 'thanks'. Each card and note holds such special meaning and humble hope. And I passed this tradition on to one of my most shining and promising interns - now a Master's degree Marriage and Family Therapist - I recall her saying, "the only cards in my basket are the two from you"!! I said, "just wait - your basket will be over flowing soon". Her basket is full - :-) And so I leave much of me in her to continue to serve and respect and honor those in need. In that I find some solace and relief from my own grief of my ministry's end. At least at my place of employment. Another intern of mine, and later hired, was wrongly terminated. She is a powerful resource and advocate for her clients. She has a strong presence, high standards, and fights for what is right only to have her spirit broken by an inhumane system that blames and oppresses. She is rising above and she will soar. I told her the other day that she is a "graduate with honor"!!

The items in those boxes and piles of pictures and my 'peace sign' and my welcome sign that my intern Sophie made for me that said ""A peaceful gathering place' which hung over my door to my office, candles and my radio and cassette player, all served to brighten the lives of so many people who came seeking help - hope - understanding - some left treatment and died - so tragic - most lived - many relapsed - but they kept trying with courage and determination that inspired me. Their lives often wrought with horror, abuse and loss and yet they kept trying. I am not ashamed to say that I cried with people and I laughed with them too. I listened and I never judged - I believed in each and every person that I served. Every single one!

This is not easy to let go of. I am quite sad today. An era has come to an end. My career is closing down. I am on a per Diem list which means I can be called in to fill in for clinicians that need time off - however, my ability to do so is contingent upon my symptoms and right now my symptoms are such that I cannot work and manage my health. I know I have served well, and have done so for almost a quarter century and for that I am forever filled with gratitude. There are so many mixed emotions as I conclude this active ministry - I don't have any regrets - except, well, except that at times I, for the greater good, or so it seemed, allowed a cold inhumane management to 'win'. My thinking being that if I resist too much I will be terminated and then I wont be able to serve. I am amazed at how much I tolerated and I regret that I did. It was always a 'toss up'. And obviously a far more complicated situation than this one statement could ever convey. I saw spirits die and lives destroyed, blame inaccurately placed and hearts broken - - I gathered with co-workers and wrote letters for change. We stood by one another when one of us was delivered an unnecessary blow - we all took so many hits. We provided space and time and support for one another to be heard so we could get back on the front line and serve, advocate, be the voice of those silenced by disease, brokenness, social status and despair - I have been privileged to work next to truly honorable, respectful, caring, and life-giving people in my 20+ years in human services - and some not so life-giving as well. Miss-use of power is ramped and I fought against it my entire career. And I say that with much pride.

And so the boxes are here - twenty five years of stuff, precious stuff - with meaning and purpose - all carted upstairs by three of my closest friends and past co-workers. I am going to sort through it all and hang some things and store some things and maybe even throw away some things. It is hard right now to look at the array of boxes and strewn "stuff" that represents a whole career - so I picked through my basket of cards and notes and chose one randomly because whatever it says, I know, will capture a quarter century of service:

A young woman writes-

thanks for teaching me to appreciate the beauty of individual freedom-even for someone like me who always believed I had none - and you gave me an opening so that I can see other perceptions beyond my own.

that is one example of hundreds of cards and letters - all of which give testimony, witness to my humble service - that I was given the chance to "be" so others could find their own hope, healing, recovery and self - love. As I move on and I realize that the lives closest to me that I will continue to serve and be served by, all of my blog-friends included, that I am open to and being given endless opportunity to love and be loved - give, and be given to, share and listen, and continue to "be". And as I let myself surrender I know, that as much as this all seems so different, it is really all quite the same. So I will grieve as I have a right to do - and I will move on to the new place my life has taken me - still with love in my heart - my truths as my proof that I have lived and survived, my calling to serve is all around me. My core both within me and in our home is solid and life-giving and true - I am still being called....

Love Gail

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Sunset- One Moment In Time

Sunsets are beautiful - I was looking out our front picture window on to this glorious view of the day's end - I went upstairs and took these pictures from our upper deck - off our master bedroom. Again, it was heaven on earth. Cinner wrote of sunrises and sunsets so I am even more keenly aware - given her tribute. Thanks Cinner.
Today was a beautiful day. I visited with my Mom and Sis - we seem to stay quite close in October and November as it is a time of great loss and also celebration - births and deaths - it is all so bittersweet as they topple into one another. We do our best to separate the events so each gets it's "due proper" :-), no easy task at times. And as we pull up and over honored dates we then begin making plans for Thanksgiving and Christmas and how we will carry on family tradition, time honored loving traditions - and honor those present and those who have passed on. One of our family fun traditions is that on Christmas Eve we all play 'Yahtzee'. There are game cards still in the box from when my Dad was alive 25 Christmas's ago - and as recent as last year when my sister's husband sat at the table with his oxygen tank in tow and played Yahtzee for the last time. There is a lot of meaning in Yahtzee for our family. :-).

And so too, October Marches to an end - colorful, emotional, powerful, ever-changing, ever vigilant, relentless in memory, raging details come alive, gentle wisdom of healing defines, they all swirl and sway and erupt at any given moment - such is October. My being one with the universe the other day while surrounded by the rain and wind and colorful blowing leaves - standing on a blanket of gold and reds and brown and cranberry - chilled and damp - empowered and surrendered at once - it was a perfect experience to define October. I did feel the presence of God - He reminded me that he protected me back then - guided me on how to survive - I didn't know it then but I do now and have for quite some time. The force of the uncontrollable combined with surrender to trusting the outcomes was only known when I realized I wasn't alone - not for one second of any of it - I was not alone. I believe God doesn't prevent tragedy nor does He cause it - - but rather he was there with me to help me through it - to survive. It is amazing to me that as I remember times in my life that are some of my "It's" I see them as opportunity to be ever grateful that I was protected and loved - that knowledge and wisdom, over time, has become greater than the tragedies - and it is from that place that I can feel the joy and hope of a sunrise - the gentle gratitude and peace at sunset - hope most days and love every moment. Some irony - when the priest was leading up to the 'finale' - conditioning me to experience his desired effect - to trust him and his his plan - he found a song that, in his mind, defined the moment of desired freedom'. As you all know, this was very far from the truth - and how he hurt me in the name of Jesus is unimaginable - - but at the time - I was in over my head - in his Jesus - his priestly garb, his invading every area of my life - holy water and blessings, words of love and promises and so I was his - and this is the song


his favorite line for me " taste the sweet I faced the pain". Sick bastard. He actually found a song that validated his hurting me so that I could be free. My God!! And so I share this with you my trusted friends because this is part of me - part of my truth - and also for you to know how far I have traveled on my way to you.........and traveled far I have. Far indeed.

Love Gail

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Surrender and Empower

I wanted to capture some long awaited color - because it was cloudy when I took these it is not as bright in the picture as my actual view. Lovely all the same - our woods are magical and inspiring - golds and oranges and cranberry too - it is lively spattering of spices to behold. Seasoned to perfection. :-) It rained here, all day. The leaves of gold and browns, orange and reds blanket the ground - wet and sparkly, slippery and tossed. I walked outside in the rain - clutching my cane - watching my footing - I loved the cool rain on my face and my long hair being swept around my neck and shoulders. My wind blown hair delighted me. I felt part of nature - one with the promise - the colors - the leaves soggy under my feet - the smell of mud and wet leaves - the darkened sky and misty vision - it was heaven on earth. I was standing amidst the force of nature and it consumed me. I wanted to stay forever. But alas, the wetness began to get the better of me, my damp skin chilled, my hair was wet and matted and my face was dripping. Still, I stood - feeling the oneness - my place, my right, my aliveness, every sense heightened, I was involved, totally involved - I felt my own strength and passion surge - I felt the nature outside on the inside - I saw within what I saw without - for a brief time I was truly one with the universe - a moment I never quite felt before that intently and purely - it was total surrender and I was completely empowered. The two forces crashed together and I emerged anew, wet and anew!
Does any of this make sense?
It was wild and wet and wonderful.

Love Gail

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Candles and Organic Salsa

Well, here are some pictures of our lovely trip to Vermont. Basketville is actually in Putney, VT

as the picture shows! :-) We so enjoyed our time in the car - laughter, music, some quiet, holding hands, the Berkshire mountains sprawled out in front of us - it was magical. The scents in the Basketville store are delightful, a combination of wicker, wood, spiced candles, honey and coffee brewing. It was perfect. We laughed heartily about how we traveled all that way just to buy candles and a jar of organic salsa!! Worth every mile. We stopped near home to have dinner - we shared an order of Maryland crab cakes and split a Pastrami Reuben. Delicious. And, of course, a crisp clean glass of chardonnay complimented our shared meal nicely. We were home and in our jammies by eight. :-) It was a wonderful day.

And so today is the day my Dad died -as I already posted. I am going to be with my Mom and take her to Friendly's for ice cream. Maple walnut is her favorite. My sister will meet up with us later and we will just "be" together. It seems we are all "holding on" tighter this year - the losses are significant - as is the love. They swirl and blend like marble cake mix - forming a design of coping. That's what we do, cope. We lean on each other, push and pull, give and take, love and love - always with love.

Love Gail

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


Just a brief note --

I went to see my PCP AND
I did take a tumble on the way in the front door -
I am OKAY. I wanted you all to know that I fell - Good Lord. I was going in to see my PCP and tripped and I was in full stride and could not 'catch myself' nor slow down the momentum. I landed on my right knee full force and then my right side. A guy (not bad looking) :-) heard me fall - I guess I made quite a racket - he came running - he assisted me in getting up - I think he actually wanted to feel my breast but whatever. :-). kidding........ He went and got the nurse from my PCP's office who came with a wheel chair - I had x-rays - no fracture thank God - bad bruise/strain/wrench ouch!! whole right side is quite soar. I did get my BP checked, it is improving - almost normal - he added just 12.5 mg. of something - and I got my flu shot.

It was weird because I said to Skipp, just drop me of in front and you can go and get the wine (very important) :-), and by the time you get back I will be ready to go - hah!!!!! I heard him come back and they sent him on in to see me in the exam room and there I was in the wheel chair, ice pack and ll!!!

So I am on the down low - for a week or so -
send happy thoughts and good energy. thanks. I Love you all

oh, one more thing - I realized that if I am on the floor I can't get up on my own - I find that unsettling, ya know? Without that guy who wanted to feel my breasts assisting me :-) I never could have gotten up on my own. . Once my right side heals I am going to practice with Skipp to see if there is a way I can do it - God forbid I fall outside, well, I shudder at the thought.
SO - any of you have any ideas on how I can maneuver such a feat??

It is hard for me to navigate the stairs to get on my computer - once I am down stairs it is best I stay put. I will be better in a few days and get back to reading and commenting on all of your wonderful blogs -

Love Gail

Thursday, October 8, 2009


Well, the pile of wood to the left here is what it looked like after our wood was delivered. Phew. And above and to the right? Voila!! All stacked! And then Skipp and I standing proudly in front of our wood for this Winter. I feel warm and cozy just knowing it is there for us, seasoned and ready to go into our faithful wood stove. And, according to our weather report? Tomorrow night we will get our first dusting of snow. We are all ready. :-)

My Mom spent the day with us. She loves being part of such traditions. Of course, at almost 86 years old she is always cold so she mostly stayed inside, in layered clothing and with a warm afghan around her. Still, her lovely presence and delightful humor and zest for life is so wonderful to experience. Her soul is pure and loving.

Here she is - braving the cold to get a 'real feel' for the work of the day. :-) Her birthday is November 9th - A celebration of all that is glorious in this world. Well, our world for sure. My sister joined us later - she is coming along - as best as one can after losing her husband of 40+ years less than a year ago and also, her first born son - passed almost seven years ago. This November 9th, yes on my Mom's birthday - he died. And this November is her first year without her husband to carry this loss - to remember the day - to honor his life - she will do it for them both - she is amazing . She enjoyed our meal together of home made chicken vegetable soup with crusty bread - it was delicious.
The photo is dark, sorry - but this is her at our table, surprised as Skipp caught her 'off guard' for a picture. :-) We planned our Mom's birthday dinner while we were all together - stuffed shells with my home made marinara sauce, of course, meatballs, salad, Italian bread and a fruit filled cake of some kind. Today was a "million dollar day" and then some.

Which brings me to the next part of this post, or the "more" which is part of the title of this post. Let me preface this with saying that I went, in a matter of a few hours from a person that was very sad, fearful and unsettled to a person of surrender, letting go, and gratitude. I actually amazed myself. Please just take a breath and don't judge - or assume - just 'listen' with your hearts. okay? thanks......... A few posts back I mentioned my oldest daughter - Kristie - the one who lives upstate NY with her two children. She is doing quite well, all things and challenges considered. When her children were little we were very active in their daily lives. Kristie and Leanna lived here while she was pregnant with Jacob. Eventually we 'set them up' in a small loft apartment nearby. Note the 'near by', - In most ways we were responsible for my daughter and the children. She was just too young with little resources both personal and external. We filled in all the gaps - sharing our wisdom, support, love, finances and guidance hoping to move her toward independence. Eventually she found 'other people' to lean on that were, shall we say, less guiding than us and many, many upsets happened until eventually she moved back to upstate NY - that was just about 9 years ago. It was impossible to be involved from 500 miles away beyond visits a few times a year, gifts and calls and of course, the "rescues" when what ever poor decision required our help. I/we always felt so responsible and because of that we were never just grandparents - we were her answer to all of her life's dilemmas. And, in some odd way, as much as we helped it would be received with a twist - as if we were some how to blame - a very difficult dynamic to explain.

For a couple of years now - we have stopped rescuing. And although it was a difficult adjustment for Kristie it seems that she has pushed to improve her situation by getting her CNA license and securing a job with benefits, paid vacations, etc. Until recently, when she met a guy and he has moved in with her and the kids. He is much younger than she - he is 24. I really don't know anything about him. And on Tuesday, the day our wood was delivered? My other daughter told me the news - Kristie is pregnant. I immediately burst in to tears - every rescuing moment and fear based memory and recall of what it took to sustain her flooded through me like a Tsunami - I though my chest was going to explode with the agony of my frightening memories. I felt myself absorb the news - it seeped into my veins and bones and mind and heart and spirit - and it swirled and surged and tore me apart. I began praying for understanding - asking God to help me feel the miracle of a new life - to celebrate this gift - a baby has been created - I could feel myself wrestle and fight with the memories of how it was and the faith I knew I had to celebrate life, my grand child's life. By the time Kristie and I spoke a few hours later a calm came over me - I asked her how she was - she paused and said "Ma, I have to tell you something". I breathed and said "I am listening hon"......and she said, "Me and Lance are having a baby Mom".... I asked he if she was happy, and she answered "Oh yes"........and I said, "if you are happy then so am I".......She was thrilled and Skipp and my Mom were amazed at my shared love and hope and honest words. We spoke about names, and how she wants my name and my Mom's name as a combination middle name if it is a girl and she wants Skipp's name as the middle name if it is a boy.

So I want to share with you all that what started out as a recall of painful memories and endless draining responsibility turned into a "million dollar moment" I am going to be a grandma again and the baby's name will be Lilly if she is a girl and Damian if he is a boy with the middle name yet to be determined. Amen.

And as I turn this new life over to God - I know that Lilly or Damian are in good hands. Please take a moment to watch this video. thank you ...............

Love Gail
Peace...............and new life.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Hangovers of a good sort

(Sexual content warning for those who may not want to read on)

It is a rainy Saturday here in southern New England. I am enjoying the day immensely. I feel light - unburdened - and calm. We did a lot of laughing yesterday and it was so good for our souls I can still feel the wonderful effects of our hearty laughter today. I think I will call it a laughter hangover - :-) One of the best kind of hangovers to have........

Let's delve in to something, shall we say, more personal. Oh I know folks shy away from such topics - all of it being so taboo and all - but it is as natural as breathing - we all have done it, still do it if were lucky, have our preferences and style and can have a hangover of a different sort the next day as wondrous and satisfying as the laughter hangover mentioned above. The day after, Skipp and I call each other all day just to even breathe on the phone together - I feel him all day and it is SO beautiful. I wear a smile that goes ear to ear and I am proud to do so. He will tell me that he swears his staff looks at him differently at work as if they "know". Maybe they do because such happiness and satisfaction and love is hard to hide. :-)

October, as you all know, holds many memories and since many are intertwined with sexual abuse it is a no wonder that for a time I felt "dirty" for having any sexual feelings and or exploring them. So to be able to write what I just wrote is all part of my healing, freedom and empowerment as a woman. SO eehah!!!!!! I had no idea who I was as a 'sexual being'. It is so individual and personal and vast and influenced by so many factors - some of which are hard to discern - we each have our own views and desires and expressions of who we are as sexual beings. And just so you know? It is NOT only about the "act" - far from it. For example, may I offer this explanation - in question form first.

1- what is sex
2- what is sexual
3- what is sexuality

sex is if we are male or female,
sexual is if we are masculine or feminine
sexuality is how we express our masculine and or feminine selves as in style of clothes, hair, body language and the like.

So, you see? It is not the act of physical intimacy that defines who we are as sexual beings - of course it is a part of it - hopefully the "crem'de la crem" so to speak!!!! :-) heehee but you get my drift, right?

I, for one, am just so glad that I can "be" me in all areas of my life as a vibrant woman in full awareness of my senses and intimate desires. I consider myself to be heterosexual. I also can look at a woman and find her quite attractive and a person I admire - physical attraction is not gender specific for me. Sexual partnering is. Before I embarked upon my healing journey I could not figure out any of my sexual feelings/thoughts - I would feel ashamed for even having them - nor did I have any idea how to express myself as a sexual being. I was quite awkward and out of tune. Not anymore!! Alleluia!! :-)

So as I celebrate my self awareness this October, which, for anyone who understands what a challenge it is to become alive sexually and feel free, safe and empowered if your earliest influence was abuse-----------this truly is a celebration of self - clarity - truth - hope - and rights embraced.

this is hysterical, I think :-)

Love Gail
peace and ............................................