Thursday, December 20, 2018

The 12 Days of Christmas

I heard today on the radio a question - what do people do on vacation that they rarely do at home?
The answer was - order dessert in a restaurant.
What? Are you kidding me? Dessert is the best bit, just like a gift shop is in a museum. 
These must be the same people who go to Panera bread and when offered the bread, chips or apple, they brightly say apple. Really? An apple? In the place that has bread in its name and dough that boasts miracles, you order the apple.
If you know me, you know that I have an incredible relationship with food. We either love and glorify in one another, fear and ignore one another, insult and delight one another, all on the same day - or I should say all just after breakfast. We have broken up many times. My friends have held me as I've cried, declaring that we are never, ever getting back together. Then gradually the special offers begin and the flattery coupons are shared and I hear myself say - This time McDonalds will treat me differently. I will have the salad instead of cheese burger with large, large fries and has anyone tried their cookies - ooohhhhhh and I'm off!
Which in truth is my fix. Sugar. Like Mary Poppins says, a spoonful of sugar helps everything go down, apart from my weight. I do not have a sweet tooth - I have a mouth of them. I emigrated because America created the word cookie. I have considered changing my name to cookie, just to enjoy people telling me that it suits me.
Christmas is fantastic. It is my favorite season for buying sweet treats with the public declaration that these will be a gift. Most of the time, I'm not making that up. My intention is to wrap that box of chocolates, and some times I do and sometimes I get as far as December 20th and then the wrapping is ripped off and the devouring begins.
This year I decided not to buy boxes of chocolates as gifts, then I found mini boxes which would work well as stocking fillers. Yep, they were gone within a week. A very dear friend, who remains in the chocolate witness protective program, told me that she just ate two of the five small boxes she had bought, I admitted with pride, followed by shame, that I had enjoyed all eight of mine. She was also the same dear friend who talked me out of eating a box of fudge that I had in my car, while I sat in a traffic jam. I and the fudge survived and was successfully given as a gift. I'm glad you enjoyed it Kay as that was a tough one and I swear road lack of fudge rage occurred on I 95 North that day.
Tis' the season and I am lucky enough to be able to indulge and enjoy. It's just for Christmas, not like salad, that's for life right?
And to conclude here is my favorite Christmas song.
All together now..................
On the twelfth day of Christmas my true love gave to me
Twelve Caramel Nut Clusters
Eleven Cookies with Piping 
Ten Sea Salt Caramels
Nine Jellied Candies
Eight Truffels - milk chocolate 
Seven Fudge Dipped Pretzels 
Six Chocolate Brazil Nuts
Five Tobelorones
Four Chocolate Santas
Three French Eclairs
Two Pecan Turtles
And a gift card to Dunkin Donuts

Have a lovely Christmas everyone & enjoy the season.
Much love,
Jayne x
Please note this was written tongue in cheek (of course) and no candy was harmed in the process.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Magic of Christmas Decorating

For anyone who truly knows me, you are aware that swearing does occur. I am, after all a Londoner, where swear words are taught phonetically and included in the National Anthem.
In fact, when I emigrated, I quickly cleaned up my act as I realized that this is one of the differences in US versus British culture, that and driving on different sides, oh and we never saw Gilligens Island, oh yes and we don't understand American football at all, oh and I still say British people do not look good in shorts and American gravy is not as good as British gravy. Apart from that, we are very similar.

Anyway, I digress as this blog is about Christmas. I love Christmas. The lights, the stories and the cake. It's all a great joy to me and suits that very large part of me that believes in magic.
I am always the one on the street to put up the tree early, sorry, but yes, it's me.
Putting up my decorations has become one of my greatest passions. I actually have themes and this year it is a winter wonderland.

It has to be expressed however that for the last forty minutes, bad language has been louder than the  carols blasting from the Hallmark channel. Once my glittering, starlit and snowflake garland fell, again, I decided to calm down by setting up my musical trio of mini Christmas trees. When I push the button to let loose lights and angels singing, it sounds like a submarine is disappearing with just one green light as its guide, so my guess is that the batteries are running low. I am, of course, prepared and already have batteries.
So, why oh why, do they lock down that plastic battery case with that stupid, tiny, effing screw? Who on Christmas Lane, but the bleedin' elves, has a screwdriver that tiny? And why? When as far as I can see, its only bloody Christmas lights that need them. Who sat there and truly thought, I know what we need to do for extra safety at Christmas, tis the season and let's put in something that nobody will ever be able to get out?
It's just a trio of mini Christmas trees, it's not the next rocket to Mars.

AND why, oh, why are some push pins easy to get into the wall or window frame, yet just one inch to the left, or right, or down in any direction and it's suddenly like cement? Oh don't get me started on push pins. They love to pretend to hold things, until you walk away and four of them shoot out from the wall at the same time and you can only find three of them, and of course it makes sense to decorate while wearing pajamas with bare feet.

Oh and don't get me started on step ladders, which to me may as well be as high as the empire state building covered in ice on a windy day. I'm scared of standing up, so you have to understand that me balancing on one of those has me reciting a hundred mantras, through gritted teeth of I am safe, I am safe, while picturing toppling off.
So I have to think every year, is it worth it?

On the Hallmark channel, putting up the decorations is one of joy, mugs of cocoa and great lipstick.
They also wear sweaters, clearly they've never decorated during the hot flush season.
Maybe I should go ice skating - yes well don't get me started on ice skating - another scary adventure that I would long to attempt and am embarrassed to say may never happen. (Don't tell Gary, who plays ice hockey with great precision and confidence.)

So my dear friends, once you visit the Winter Wonderland of Jayne, please disregard how low everything is, or that certain light bulbs are not lit and certainly do not question why the trio of musical trees is hanging, strangulation style, from the kitchen fan ceiling.

It is the magic of Christmas.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

When Harmony Shatters

Life is both fragile and dramatic, holding extreme examples within twenty four hours and indeed less. Here is something I can not get out of my head right now & please read to see the two extremes of life.

I knew nothing of the world of Barbershop Quartets until this Summer with the meeting of my new love. His family are all creative, they sing, act, make, care, are healers. Beautiful people.
I just spent a weekend in Portland Maine at a competition of quartets and choruses, listening and cheering on people who sing for the purpose of entertaining and feeling joy. It was a fun, relaxed, inspiring weekend where generations easily mix and songs and tradition combine.
At the conclusion the entire audience are arm in arm singing, the harmonized sounds filling the auditorium.

It was surreal and heart breaking to then learn of the deaths at Pittsburgh. Pointless murder at a place of worship, at a place of comfort, love and peace. A synagogue where people learn, trust, cry, celebrate, breathe and lean into life - and then within minutes a violent act shatters that harmony.

I wrote a blog once before, perhaps two years ago, with my thoughts that gun laws need and must be revised in this day and age of examples. I do not understand why an immigration ban was so easily put in place when terrorism was threatened, but we cannot place a ban on guns right now when we have abundant evidence that the system is not working. This too is surely an act of terrorism and how are more guns truly the right protection? Shame on me for not understanding the situation fully.

My hearts race to the families of the victims who now must find acceptance and trust for something that we should not have to comprehend. All I can do in my little life is send love and peace. All I can do is to give, to hold and to love. Is it enough? I take my responsibility to care for those around me seriously. Perhaps if we all did that, there would be powerful movement toward the better?

I am not politically knowledgeable but I am a human being and when I see and feel the possibility of such community in life, I am downright scared to imagine that could be destroyed in five minutes because of a weapon being in the wrong hands. Can we see the power of things being in the right hands please. How do we get that?

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Why I wrote the play I wrote

I was honored to be a finalist this month in The Modern Works Festival at Urbanite Theatre in Florida. It was an incredible experience.
In the feedback sessions I was asked why I wrote my play "Stalking."

The point of me creating and writing a theatrical piece of this nature was to highlight the deep roots that are set when abuse, physical and or emotional, take place.
Without a doubt - anything you have said in spite to another person was felt.
How much do we remember of childhood taunts? All of us can easily recall the words that stung.
No matter how small, and of course how large, some of them will remain.

So imagine the disrespect, fear, pain and bewilderment of a violation to your body. To your mind.
To the intimate part of yourself. To how the brain deciphers that situation. How the body physically holds the memory. How our brain will capture that as a lifetime warning enclosed in primal fear.

I wrote this play for those who do not care to remember their loss of virginity. For those who cannot remember. I wrote it for every generation effected. I wrote it for every victim. For those that have nightmares, some not really knowing why and those who absolutely know why.

And this damage is created by our fellow human beings. It is created by the same being us as that has arms, legs, brains and hearts. When will we stop? When will we recognize the thin lines between good and bad?

I am not alone in thanking the people who are now standing and telling their truth.
I thank the parents who are now bringing up their children in education for what is wrong and what is right. What is beautiful. What is hopeful and the fragility that is us.
I am grateful for those audience members who told me that this story must be shared. To the young man who told me that it made him think.

I am thankful for those who have the courage and desire to make a change.
For every tiny shift toward a new positive reaction we have a movement for the better.
For as many ripples of negativity from one bad action, I believe there are positive waves from the good.

For those who experience trauma and question where the hope can be found.
You are experiencing it, because it is within the discomfort, the sadness and the realization that we need better options. That we do have better choices and we can find that difference.

It is not necessarily forgiveness that we need.
It is courage. It is energy. It is strength. There is where you find the hope.

As the character, Magda, states in my play: "I will not be the victim. I will be the hurricane that destroyed her."
We must realize that we can use this energy for good. Unlike Magda who is sadly trapped.

To have this opportunity to use my passion of writing for theater was a dream for me. For all those who cheered me on, I will not let you down and will continue to share. Thank you.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Losing the Yes, but..............

This is a difficult post to write because it's a tender one. And a happy one.
Anyone who has suffered a significant loss, will understand the complication of saying you are happy.

I have had six birthdays now as a widow. All of them were made special by dearest friends. Extremely special. Plans that were simple or extravagant, always very personal, all involving cake and all arranged with love.

This year was a first. A very, big, slightly overwhelming, tender, fragile, amazing first for me.

This year was the first year that I could say, I felt happy without there being a part inside of me that screamed Yes But.............
Because as someone who has lost someone close, you appreciate everything so much more and find yourself saying that you are happy, while there is part of you yearning and holding such a deep rooted sadness. I had accepted that part of me would always be sad. I never expected it to go.
I would read messages saying "Have an Amazing day" and think yes, but truthfully, there is only one thing now that would amaze me and that's David coming back.

I was wrong.

This was my amazing day - that this year, I did not have the "Yes, but ............."
And I was shocked. Slightly nervous.
In fact I waited for something to happen to shake me into a realization.
Then the guilt arrived and the questions of did this mean I was forgetting? How could I ever forget such an incredible part of my life, of my heart?

It hit me - no - it isn't forgetting. It doesn't require guilt. Quite the opposite.
It is a powerful turning point in my life, where I can say I loved tremendously and life happened to change the physicality of what I had and now life has also presented me with the choice to live fully, with all the knowledge and experience I have and even more.

It is a step allowing myself the gift of laughter, of joy and love, yes love again in my life. To trust again.
The gift where I have said to myself that I love and respect myself and I'm ready to share that part of me with the world. Because of everything I have been through, absolutely everything, I deserve to be genuinely happy.

This may seem like a simple step for anyone who has not lost a partner.
For me though, it felt like stepping off a cliff with a bungee rope tied to my thumb, no, a bungee rope held with my little finger.
To admit to everyone and mostly myself that I am a loving woman living right now who is excited to be alive. To be busy. To have a voice. To share my words. To be growing and to be finding new opportunities.
To have found another hand to take and turn to and make plans with. Thank you Gary.
To say I love you and to welcome it in return.

I never thought this moment would arrive and here it is. I'm in it, fully present and fully functioning.
Nobody is judging me or punishing me for being happy, far from it and, most importantly, I haven't lost anything, I have gained even more.

I always said there is no getting over or moving on - and I'm right.
It's bigger than that, it's a deeper acceptance that occurs. A stronger bond and connection that is so powerful that it embraces everything you desire, want and need.

So please, please, with all my heart - those dear tender people out there who are feeling their loss and the pain, keep turning that love back to you and keep the energy flowing, for it does grow into something else that you cannot understand or imagine yet. That you dare not believe yet.

I promise the "yes but,......." can blossom into a YES THANK YOU.

Always with love xxxx

Friday, September 7, 2018

Purpose of Instructions

I was facilitating a program this week and handed over an instruction sheet.
A participant waved the sheet in front of me and asked in a panic "Do I have to buy all of this?"
I said "Buy what?"
He again pointed to the sheet and using his six year old panic voice he squealed "All of this!"
By the way he was a forty year old executive in a great suit, but his ego and fear of the task wasn't.

The sheet he was waving between us was a set of guidelines to follow in order to achieve the task.
It was not a list of things to purchase, but in his head, he had decided what it was before reading.
He looked quite angry when I suggested just reading it.
I said it would really help him. He wasn't happy with that answer. He actually failed the task.

How human of us, to make these judgments and notions of what it is before we really do the research. How human of us to want to race in and get everything done, as though the Guinness Book of Records is watching with their hungry stop watch.

Yes it takes courage to embrace any change or new challenge, and oh how we love to be the super hero and dive right in to prove to ourselves and everyone else how bold and brave we are.
I am beginning to truly value the moments before the leap however.
When you can read the instruction card slowly.
When you can check in with yourself - is this what I want? What do I really need to set in place as my foundation so that I can explore and be present? What do I want? What do I need?

Last night I was confused as to why my front door wasn't opening.
It wasn't opening because I was pushing my car key fob at the door!
No matter how hard I pushed that fob, my front door wouldn't open.
No kidding Jayne, but my anxious head was busy in my to do list of what I needed to do once back
Panic zone, panic zone and only myself had put me into that - and miracle, and joy of joys, it's only me to get me out of that. So I stopped, reminding myself that I wasn't in charge of making the next moment in the world turn, it is capable of doing that itself.
All I needed to do was open the door to get inside.

It's OK to stop, break down your actions and don't forget to read the instructions.
It's all here to help us.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Rain in Ogunquit

This morning in Ogunquit, Maine it poured and poured with rain. It’s a summer day and expectations are high for beach, sunbathing and walking.
The small stores open with hopeful faces that people will visit between running to avoid the puddles - in fact a stream is traveling along Shore and Main Street.

By 4pm the rain has stopped and the clouds quickly roll away to reveal a bright blue sky and the sun beats down to dry everything and kiss the cold away with its warmth.

People again appear in the streets with their shorts and flip flops. Some go to the beach again with the reassurance that it’s summer as planned.

My observation is how quickly we re set. How plans are changed, option B replaces A and we face it all with the knowledge that we are ok and doing our best.

These changes described are only regarding the weather of course, though it shows to me the ability we have to adapt, accept and create a new plan. How our focus can be adjusted as swiftly as the umbrella is raised.

What a gift it was to see this beautiful little town seeped in sunshine and also washed with rain. It endured and flourishes - the flowers and grasses grateful for it all.

Perhaps we are far more capable of change than we realize and if we all notice that days will surprise us as much as the weather will change - then we can accept that and place our power in what to do in that very next moment. Not lingering in the what if and the piece that says - but I wanted to do that.

We are far more braver and creative than we realize. We can adapt and accept with grace and ease, perhaps even becoming aware of new thoughts and opportunities that our original plan may not have produced. We did after all, design the umbrella.