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Archive for December, 2011

Hi. I hope that your spirits are soaring today or at least pointed toward the sky.

I was in Seattle last week and experienced an impromptu Christmas walk and gathering of gifts. I had set out to go “shopping”…ugh! But, I enjoyed a completely different experience. I was staying at the downtown Sheraton on 6th and had some free time in the morning. I decided to walk down to Pike’s Market. Among the bustle of he morning and all the people scurrying about, I became more and more present in the day. It was just something about the energy in the market that morning. I say that like I’ve been there a lot. I was there once before. The year that Vancouver hosted the world’s fair. It was 1986..I’m thinking!

When I returned to the Sheraton the hotel seemed completely different. I slowed my pace down, for the first time in 3 days, as I walked by the Gingerbread House display. I took the time to look into the children’s faces and see their excitement. It moved me. It really made my Christmas complete. I have no expectations for the next couple of days that are upon us. I want to look into the faces of those that I will be with and I want to see their joy, their sadness, and whatever else they are experiencing. I know I will have lived in the present if I do that. I know i will have experienced life! And, I know that its OK to not be afraid, that something bad is lurking just around the corner. I know that it is OK to be a “part of” because to be a “part of” is a basic human condition, a desire…a daily want.

I have presents. But I didn’t go shopping. No, I walked through Pike’s Market and all these wonderful (and reasonably priced) gifts just presented themselves. Perfect matches for those that I will give them to.

On Thursday, I attended a funeral service. Our neighbor’s 89-year-old mother had passed. Life?…yes! Celebration of a life?..yes! Bad timing?…yes! But whose to decide when our chronological time on earth is over. Not us! Perhaps the God that we are about to celebrate!

Our neighbors will unwrap gifts that their loved one wrapped just a few short days ago. That will be sad. But, the greatest gift that their loved one ever got, was them. Hope they realize that, in kind, that is the gift that they open today. Memories of a friend that they deeply loved.

Their grandmothers favorite refrigerator magnet had the saying which was “Friends are a present that you give to yourself.” Our neighbors really don’t have to open any presents today. They loved the incredible friendship of their grandmother, mother and mother-in-law. And they all spoke about it in heartfelt words.

I love this saying from the inspirational messages, assembled in “45 Lessons in Life”. Number 38 is “All that Truly Matters in the End is that you Loved”.

Merry Christmas my friend!

Cheers!

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45 Lessons in Life

In 45 Lessons in Life, published by He Yan in November 2009, number 38 is the one that followed me off the pages and has hung around in “my head” for the past year. Its simple. You could easily blow right by it in favor of some of the more bold proclamations that are on the list. For me, it is ethereal depth of a few simple words, arranged in perfect order.

“All that Truly Matters in the End is that You Loved”.

My wife and I went to a benefit jam that a good friend of mine was hosting. This is a grassroots effort that my friend started 2 years ago. The recipient this year was the Orangewood Children’s Home.

This was also the first date night for my wife and I in 10 plus years. Two of my close male friends have urged me to court my wife again to win her back. The idea sounded old fashion and awkward to me, but I really would like to have the love again that my wife and I once shared. So, carrying bags of clothes, several toys and cash from a quick dash to a Liquor store ATM next door to the Pub, my wife and I commenced upon our date night.

I was happy to unload $100 for raffle tickets because it was going to the right place. Equally, it also flared my gambling ways of late. Announced shortly afterward by our host, anyone buying $25 or more of raffle tickets would be eligible for a poem, commissioned from one of his friends in the crowd that had the gift of poetry. All we had to do was tell him a few short snippets about our life.

When I walked over to introduce myself to Mike, I blurted out that I am here tonight courting my wife. Over the loud pitch of the music that had begun to play, Mike looked a little bewildered because he thought I had said “I am here tonight to divorce my wife”. When we cleared up that communication and I provided a little background and the link to my blog site, I eagerly awaited Mike’s poem. The poem arrived yesterday. I told Mike that, whatever he wrote, I would post his poem into my blog. Here is what Mike wrote.

We could be a father, mother, husband, wife, child or only a friend
Sadly you have no ideas if we will cross and become a member of the one in ten
Very little warning of even of when
Only the stark reality of chaos we send
We affect one in three or maybe one in four
As we quickly descend to lower and lower floors
Whether by social and emotional pressure or genetic design
Either sooner or later we cross the line
As fortunes, family, honesty is quickly lopped
Too late, so difficult to recover to try to stop
It is a fatal cunning disease, new lepers of the day
Sad, sad, when you see the stumble and sway
All the more reason to applaud and cheer
When you meet an open man who has given up the wine and beer
Alcohol burns very intense, lights up the sky
But romance, honesty, integrity snuffed out, linger and then die.
In a world of days, 5 years merits the designation of ace
To kindle the trust and love, romance and grace.
A brave man opens his heart to disclose
A wife coming back to be the recipient of an honest rose.

Michael P. Ridley aka the Alaskanpoet
2011 ©

I leave on an early flight to Seattle in the morning. A rose and a poem await my wife downstairs.

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The Giving Tree

I want to post Shel Silverstein’s tale here, because it reminds me of the fragility of both children and nature. A theme that my last post addressed to a degree.

The Giving Tree is a tale about a relationship between a young boy and a tree in a forest.

The Giving Tree, first published in 1964 by Harper & Row, is a children’s book written and illustrated by Shel Silverstein. This book has become one of Silverstein’s best known titles and has been translated into more than 30 languages.

Once, there was a tree…
And she loved a little boy.
And every day the boy would come
And he would gather her leaves
And make them into crowns and play king of the forest.
He would climb up her trunk
And swing from her branches
And eat apples
And they would play hide-and-go-seek.
And when he was tired, he would sleep in her shade.
And the boy loved the tree… very much…
And the tree was happy.

But time went by,
And the boy grew older.
And the tree was often alone.
Then, one day, the boy came to the tree and the tree said:
–”Come, Boy, come and climb up my trunk and swing from my branches and eat apples and play in my shade and be happy!”
–”I am too big to climb and play” said the boy. “I want to buy thing and have fun. I want some money.
Can you give me some money?”
–”I’m sorry”, said the tree,”but I have no money. I have only leaves and apples. Take my apples, Boy, and sell them in city. Then you will have money and you’ll be happy.”
And so the boy climbed up the tree and gathered her apples and carried them away.
And the tree was happy…

But the boy stayed away for a long time… and the tree was sad.
And then one day the boy came back, and the tree shook with joy, and she said:
–”Come, Boy come and climb up my trunk and swing from my branches and eat apples and play in my shade and be happy.”
–”I am too busy to climb trees,” said the boy. “I want a house to keep me warm”, he said. “I and want a wife and I want children, and so I need a house. Can you give me a house?”
–”I have no house”, said the tree. “The forest is my house”, said the tree. “But you may cut off my branches and build a house. Then you will be happy”.
And so the boy cut off her branches and carried them away to build his house. And the tree was happy.
But the boy stayed away for a long time…
And when he came back, the tree was so happy she could hardly speak.
–”Come, Boy” she whispered, “Come and play”.
–”I am too old and sad to play”, said the boy. “I want a boat that will take me away from here. Can you give me a boat?”
–”Cut down my trunk and make a boat”, said the tree. “Then you can sail away… and be happy”.
And so the boy cut down her trunk
And made a boat and sailed away.
And the tree was happy…
But not really.

And after a long time the boy came back again.
–”I am sorry, Boy”, said the tree, “but I have nothing left to give you – My apples are gone”.
–”My teeth are too weak for apples”, said the boy.
–”My branches are gone”, said the tree. “You cannot swing on them”.
–”I am too old to swing on branches”, said the boy.
–”My trunk is gone”, said the tree. “You cannot climb”.
–”I am too tired to climb”, said the boy.
–”I am sorry” sighed the tree. “I wish that I could give you something… but I have nothing left. I am just an old stump. I am sorry…”
–”I don’t need very much now”, said the boy. “Just a quiet place to sit and rest. I am very tired”.
–”Well”, said the tree, straightening herself up as much as she could, “well, an old stump is good for sitting and resting. Come, Boy, sit down… sit down and rest”.
And the boy did.
And the tree was happy…

The end.

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Childhood trauma, in whatever form it takes, extinguishes one’s voice. As the soul fractures and paralysis prevails, an audible voice can no longer be heard. It becomes cast in fear, shame, confusion and a sense of loss. Now, weighted under undefinable conflict and bound by shame, the child marches on in life. A veritable time bomb, highly susceptible to substance abuse and a wide spectrum of mental illness, awaits the adult.

A lunar eclipse has begun and is visible in our atmosphere. I am going to watch this event because I love nature and I love the universe. I love the innocence and the vulnerability that nature embraces. It too, has no voice, only beauty, innocence and awe.

Here is what NASA says about this cosmic event . “A lunar eclipse occurs when Earth is directly between the sun and the moon, blocking the sun’s rays and casting a shadow on the moon. As the moon moves deeper and deeper into Earth’s shadow, the moon changes color before your very eyes, turning from gray to an orange or deep shade of red,” the NASA website said.

The description put forth by NASA sounds akin to the trauma and the ensuing shame that abandonment of the mind, body and soul experience during the act of abuse. Waxing poetically, the child could be likened to the moon in this instance.

I want to give an audible voice to childhood trauma and illuminate the devastating impact it has on the human soul. Who could possibly touch a child inappropriately if they knew, to any degree, what the long-term destructive impact most likely will be to that innocent child.

Our world is abuzz right now in conflict, watching the sexual abuse scandals unfold in two major college campuses. I can only imagine the gamut of emotions being felt by so many. Mulling over the actual physical act of violating an innocent child. Thinking about your own children, a relative, a neighborhood boy or girl walking past your house each morning with a smile. Maybe even the child that you once were.

The voice of childhood trauma has made an audible sound this past two months. Perhaps this might be the unifying force that reunites a fractured nation such as ours is at the present.

I believe that all human being’s yearn linkage and loyalty to a cause that defines us and gives us a sense of purpose. So, why not look into your own soul. Think about how you can help raise the tenor of the pitch, to a degree that we all can become more aware and act on what is often called “Our Nations Shame!”

Perhaps then we will mobilize as a nation, remove ourselves from partisan bickering and positioning that we all find disgusting, yet take part in, and we do something that is good for the soul.

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In 65 days I will have achieved 5 years of sobriety. Whew! Yeah!

My journey toward freedom and a new life began by getting sober. For the past 5 years I have traveled the path of recovery and it has not been easy! I lost some things during my drinking days that did not reach a level of consciousness within, until I was 18 months into recovery. I lost my wife’s trust, unrecoverable time with my children, our savings account, a stellar credit rating, and a stellar resume.

I have also gained much. I have gotten my health back, a new job, a slowly improving credit rating and an understanding and acceptance of the trauma that I experienced in my youth. I have better awareness and understanding of myself, learned what courage really is, and I have developed a new level of confidence in the talents that I have to offer this world.

There are many other gifts that I have realized by sticking to the hard work of self-discovery, acceptance of my past and paramount forgiveness. I am working everyday toward a greater awareness and practice of being humble and compassionate toward others.

I have a tremendous amount of gratitude and awe for the support given to me by my family and friends. They gave willingly of themselves and expected nothing in return. I am truly blessed and lucky to have these amazing people in my life.

“Don’t be afraid to be weak. Don’t be too proud to be strong. Just look into your heart my friend. That will be the return to yourself , the return to innocence!”
– Enigma

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