Wednesday, December 9, 2015

What is Love?

It’s amazing how I still wake up, and I find myself thinking – he’s not here and he is not coming back. How can that be my waking thought? Yet it is. Then I accept it and reluctantly get on with the day, while the memories of his illness follow me. They pick on me like tormenting children, with knives.

This morning I am full of the experience when I had to visit nursing homes to decide where he would go. I disliked the patronizing faces, the smell of urine, the coldness of the walls, even though they were decorated with cheap fake paintings of flowers and boats lit by a sunset.
“And on Thursdays we play Bingo,” they would say. “In the summer, we sit on the patio.”

I hated it, every second. I should be choosing shirts, vacations, books for my husband, not a nursing home. He was fifty seven. Alzheimer’s disease had made him ageless, in a bad way. He had become Peter Pan’s grandfather. The boy, who couldn’t grow up, had grown up, and forgotten everything in five, very hard years.

I kept expecting and needing him, to race through the doors, pick me up and take me home again.
“Let’s not do this anymore,” he would say, beaming his healthy smile, and we could carry on with our messy, noisy, sometimes blissfully quiet and intimate marriage.

And now, as a widow, I read a magazine article about what I could choose next to do with my life and I’m bitter because I don’t want this without him. How can I get excited about anything? When such a large part of me doesn’t want to exist and another part of me doesn’t trust that it will be worth it. Some days I jump at my reflection in the mirror when I notice that I am not old – yet I feel a hundred and done. Simply done.

Then I remember that I am just one of a billion people who feel the same way.
The thoughts that trip us up are various. Mine happens to be the loss of my husband. Others might be the loss of a job, the loss of a pet, the gain of an illness, a debt, who knows. Life is so big and random. Just another planet spinning and held by nothing in a mid-air of stars and debris.  A world full of voices that scream; “go do and achieve” while the sky yawns in tiredness and dumps rain onto our umbrellas. While others scream death, and feed on their neighbors fear through their bullets, bombs and blood. We are sick with our disrespect for humanity.

So what is love? 
It is, despite absolutely everything; an energy that embraces your soul and whispers; “keep going.” It is the gaze of a child, the sweep of a paint brush, the touch of care, the joke that will always provoke a smile. Love is in sickness and in health. Love is in knowing I was married, and in the knowing that when I felt his heart finally stop, that our spirits would keep dancing. Together. Love is saying please and thank you and welcome. Love is saying goodbye as well as saying hello. Love is that light that you feel you alone can only see. Love is the only reason I am here. Love is all that I had to give and love is all that I continue to give.

And all of our stories will always connect. Love was always the guide. Love will always be the guide. And no matter what or how we arrive at that final breath, it will be the thing that greets us, because it is forgiveness, it is justice, it is merciful, it is abundant and it is the most handsome or prettiest face you will ever see. Because there has to be an answer that makes us all finally whisper, in one single language of a thousand voices, the simple word – Amen.


Wednesday, October 7, 2015

The Inspiring Dr. Dante Vena

Today we say good bye to my very dear friend Dr.Dante Vena.

Here is what Dante always gave me - the belief that we can all be creative and share in our joy of what we like to do. When we talked about writing he would say to me: "Just do it!" with his eyes flashing and that wide wonderful grin.

He and his amazing wife, Kathy, have been incredible friends to me. They have become family. I am so fortunate to have many memories that our adventures have provided. The dinners, breakfasts, cups of coffee, visits to his amazing art studio and the three of us, this year, sitting giggling in the back of a movie theater during a serious movie!!!

One of the very hardest things to do is to hold hands and then let go.

I send my love and respect to Kathy, her beautiful children and grand daughter. It is an honor to be with you and to know that I am a different person because of the gifts that Dante shared. He will always continue to inspire us.

With very much love and gratitude. And so it goes....................


Monday, July 20, 2015

Three Years - with love

Today is a date I wish to recognize with peace and love.

I realize that a life is made up from a collection of things. Some of those are simply fantastic while others are challenging. Either way they provide opportunities for growth, which in hand delivers the time to learn and change.
I have changed tremendously. My life now is opening up for brand new experiences, which I embrace, rather than feeling the loss and fear. No matter how hard I cried, nothing could change what happened - I can however change what I do next. Life is about what we have, not what we had.

Today is about saying thank you. Thank you to a dearest friend who invited me for dinner tonight about a month ago, because she simply knew how I would feel.
Thank you to a brand new friend who gave me flowers and a drawing of the Seven Dwarves with one of them as George Clooney!
It's about fantastic theater tickets and cell phone calls full of laughter, questions and love. It's about sitting on a deck until midnight drinking wine and laughing. Playing jeopardy. Presenting team-building programs, which David was incredibly proud to do himself.  It's about stretching myself with work and amazing creative projects which will inspire and support others. It's about saying I have a right to be involved in a life that excites and thrills me.
None of this I do alone.

Thank YOU for everything you have taught me, in your life and in your passing.
And this is how I know that love is always present.
In saying good bye, we can always say hello.

Love always and with peace -

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Supermarket Aisles

Summer has started well and here we are looking at July 4th already. A day to celebrate - even though I'm British and a little afraid of fireworks!

I wanted this year to be one where I could breath again and really look at healing. I'm doing just that, and funnily enough, some of it is a lot of hard work.

I have emotional difficulty in going to supermarkets, they feel like I'm gate crashing a party I wasn't invited to. They contain foods that I do not buy any more and package sizes that are not relevant for one. Aisles of memories, it's weird.

This evening, as I raced up the cereal aisle, a new idea tapped me on the shoulder.
All the things that I am missing, means that they meant a great deal to me. They equal a time of love and sharing. They make me feel blessed and happy that I experienced them. So why do I have to live without them? I don't have to. It will not be the same. It can't be and it doesn't have to be. What's so wrong with new and different?

So, one day in the future, I will be in the supermarket buying ingredients again to make a special meal to share with my step children and their families. I will have a nice dining room again where we can sit and talk and laugh.

One day I will be buying interesting foods to prepare a romantic meal. I like doing that! One day I will run in quickly after receiving a phone call saying "we've run out of eggs." As I get the eggs I will also grab a chocolate bar, because I know it's their favorite.
I love those things and I miss those things. So in a way, I am in a privileged position to recognize how important they are.

Every day I work hard to listen and approach my life, without holding onto a very old tape recording in my head that tells me that it's all over. It's not, and though sometimes that scares me, I am welcoming in hope and joy, that are clearly better friends to me than cynicism and fear.

Indeed it is pretty funny that I needed to check the spelling of cynicism, when it has ruled a huge part of me for most of my life. Therefore, if I can't pronounce it correctly or spell it - I can choose to let that word go!

Make best friends with yourself. Change the voices in your head, to come from a place of love.
When fear arrives, allow it some attention and then embrace it with peace, and see what happens.
Perhaps we make all of this a lot harder than it needs to be. Nobody told us to live wearing a blindfold. Nobody told us to create bigger stories around our experiences, which can be hard enough, let alone the added fabrication.

Take the blindfold off, stroll down the aisles that you want and soon your trolley could be full of really wonderful stuff.

Happy July everyone xxx



Monday, June 8, 2015

My Triple Crown




And they're off....

"Happiness" takes the immediate lead, with "Love" as a close second.
"Love" is making strides and actually kisses "Happiness" as they pass around the first quarter.
"Doubt" is beginning to make a stride as "Love" goes boldly into first place.
Just around the corner, and coming from the back, is "Fear."
"Fear" is suddenly hungry to lead.
"Love" loses a moment as its jockey actually looks behind.
"Memory" is now closing in on "Fear" as suddenly we see "Who Do You Think You are" and the old favorite "You Deserve Very Little."
But "Happiness" seems to find its stride again while we see "Love" taking a leap and moving into first place again. Now really taking the lead "Love" goes all the way.

Yes, can she do it again, making history...Yes "Love" passes by that finishing post while the crowd goes wild and everyone says That's All You Need.

Congratulations to American Pharoah!  May we all be as bold and as graceful!

Image for the news result

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Stop Wasting Time and The Privilege in Communication


Today would have been my wedding anniversary. For some reason I wanted to blog something. Not being able to find the right words, I found myself directed to a post I wrote in May 2011.
Please excuse my indulgence in re posting - I just find this to be a good lesson for all relationships and how much I wish I knew then - even though it was staring at me!


My husband now has difficulty in communicating. He has described to me, the frustration of seeing a word and then it fades, quickly and he is left with a hollow feeling, that he needs something, yet has no idea of what.
Sometimes he tells me a story, and I truly have no idea of what he is saying. Sometimes he tells me something perfectly and I check to see if my David is back. We find ways of communicating, and just when I get the hang of it, I need to change tactic again, as I realize something else is proving too foreign for him.
I see my David as though he is falling far away into the depths of a hole, like Alice. I'm peering down and I cannot fall in after him - it's not in the rule book or the chapter listings.

This week end touched on the subject of taste, and it was suggested to me that I have none. Now instead of reminding myself that I have an 'Ignore' button and that I have heard worse within the B.A.T zone (Bermuda Alzheimer Triangle), I act up to the comment and a million other memories that have nothing to do with my husband, yet I am angry and bitter about them all. Result: I packed up a number of things that I had bought for David, or bought for the house and threw them in my car. Drove and donated them to a charity shop! Yep - packed them up in a couple of baskets and donated the lot!
Now the really, really, stupid thing is that my dear David would not notice if I painted my face purple and wore a Lady Gaga costume. So how would he notice that a wooden duck statue is no longer by the television. The person who ends up hurting is me, because I loved my wooden duck. 

The fact and truth I wish to share is, when you are fortunate enough to have ears, tongue, eyes, limbs, everything functioning - do not waste moments with mindless communication. Just talk. It is a privilege to be able to do so. If the other person can only add dead worms to the conversation, then that is all you will ever receive. Stop imagining they will suddenly quote Ghandi.  They won't!

Stop playing games or holding onto past battles and wins. Listen, think and be honest. I sit in meetings and see mouths working and yet nobody listening. People playing chess, with the intention of making the other player lose - yet nobody has any pieces because there is no game of chess!

I wonder what in our human chemistry makes us this way? Is that why there is illness, in the hope that it inspires others to do differently?
Why do we bother learning languages when we can't be bothered to talk the truth?

If you ever feel that the only way you can be understood is by donating your own things to make someone realize something - than you have it so wrong.

If you start with fear and anger - how will the other person answer? Most likely with their fear and anger.
And so it goes.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

April's Whether the Weather Report

There are pivotal moments in your life, some you create, some arrive with invitation and some you suddenly find yourself swimming boldly away from or toward. It all changes in a single drop of rain, or an unexpected warmth from the sun.

Alzheimers taught me the power of being present. Becoming a widow is guiding me to take stock and heal. Am I heartless to say that I am looking at those experiences as being gifts?

Sometimes I have said that I have no choice.
We do, however, have a choice, and I could remain within the shadow of everything, or simply not.
I certainly have done my bit of hiding, and I know I was not the only one to use the snow storms as a fine reason. I wonder if reason is merely an excuse wearing a serious costume?
I would rather walk into the sunlight, look around and share. Share my words, my sun lotion, thoughts and laughter. Share the fact that I am loving, funny, short and courageous, (My height looks up to my courage by the way.)

Life continues no matter what, and no matter what, it continues quickly.
So, let's make it matter.Stop cheating yourself and other people. Give yourself a chance. Put the umbrella away. Stop looking down while searching for black ice, because the sun might be out and you don't want to miss it.

Count your blessings. Count dollar bills. Count calories. Count Dracula. Count to ten. Count down engines on - however you say it - it all counts, until you chose it not to. Your integrity will suggest whether its important or not.


How about that then as we begin a brand new month and the possibilities?



Saturday, February 14, 2015

Very Happy Valentines.......AND

Previously on Jayne Hannah - years and years and countries ago...............

The day before Valentines Day was once a first date for me. I was three hours late due to a job gone long, terrible traffic and pure fear.
My date was still waiting for me in the pub in London.
I ended up staying with him for the whole weekend (hey - don't judge me) and he woke me up on valentines day with a confetti of hearts he cut out of paper. It was incredibly romantic, fun and honest.
(I discovered much later that he was an alcoholic, so I guess, it was pretty easy for him to stay in a bar for hours. That however, is not the point of this story!!!)

What more can you wish for on Valentines Day than fun and romance? It's joy!

Have fun today. If you have someone you love and they you - then show them, magnificently and with abandon.
If you have someone you think you love - tell them.
If you don't, and regardless of looking or wanting - just reach out and smile and show your heart.
Say I Love You more than once today.

Yes, you could lose, yes they may not care as much, yes they may be blind to you, yes to a thousand things going wrong - AND here's to the thousand things going right.

Fall in love, just for today. Kiss someone. Reach out. Hold someones hand and tell them they count.
Look in the mirror and say to yourself "you are beautiful".
Look into someones eyes and tell them they are wonderful.

Time isn't to be wasted, because it isn't here forever. Now that I have lost, I wouldn't waste a single moment with David that was not caring, loving and fun.
There is no choice for me whether to call him or not. There will never be the opportunity to share with him, hold his hand or wish him a happy valentines.

AND despite AND because of that loss:
I have to get out and celebrate my life, otherwise I am going to drown in sadness. I am literally locking my heart away, because I hurt when quite honestly I want to live.
So, OK, I don't have someone special who wants to join me right now, I still deserve to smile.
I still deserve to feel the love I have inside. The strength. The power. Passion. Compassion. Life.
I bet you do too?

So be bold. Be romantic. Be a friend. A parent. A spouse, a lover, whatever, just be in love today.
It's valentines.



"Hello my love. Hello my life."
Happy Valentines Day xxx


Monday, February 2, 2015

Candy Crush and My Stars

Today, 2nd February 2015, my stars read:

Today is perfect for parties, networking events and all other forms of socializing. Your great energy is helping you to make good impressions and to have a great time while you’re at it!

Its funny that my stars are not aware of the snow storm happening outside! You might have thought that astrology would know about the weather. I'm not sure how socializing that much today is possible. 
What with the weather and indeed my recent Howard Hughes impression, there isn't a lot of networking going on. UNTIL we connected. It was sudden, unexpected and passionate. For a guilty hour this morning I found it - Candy Crush. What perfect joy. Two of my favorite things - distraction and tasty treats. Could this possibly be my new bridge to getting from a snowy February day to the beauty of Spring? 

I know its been around and I'm late to the party, and I'm sorry to burst your delicious wrappers however:
that is a manipulative, red flag relationship if I've ever seen one.
At first I am quickly mastering levels, being congratulated with floods of noise and bouquets of color. I am the best player ever! We understand one another. It seems I am beating many others in this race, and have possibilities to make it to the top. I feel magnificent, at last I am good in someones eyes. Worthy of intimate time together. Lots of bing bings, and pop pops!

Then suddenly I cannot clear all the jelly (ain't that the way!) and then because I am too cheap to buy new bars of energy, I am cut off. At first for ten minutes (that's bearable) and then after a quick flurry of activity I am cut off for thirty minutes. Oh how cruel and clever of you dear Candy Crush.I know my commitment to you doesn't look that much on the laptop, but you need to be patient with me. I don't spend money until I feel certain, and we were only at the flirting stage.

That's it I'm going cold candy - I mean cold turkey!!!
I can get through the rest of the day without thinking about you. We could have been so good together.
Candy Crush and Jayne 4Ever.
Oh well. Better get a real life I guess! 
Whats to eat?


Thursday, January 29, 2015

The Blizzard Binge

The blizzard of 2015 in Rhode Island equals two things for me.

1) The most snow I have ever experienced. Congratulations to National Grid - I was amazed and truly grateful not to lose power.
2) It has inspired, what I will publicly name:  The Blizzard Binge of 2015.

Like many fellow worshipers, I found myself at Shaws on the Monday morning. It was packed and yet eerily quiet. People dressed as Eskimos kept their heads fixed downward in full concentration mode as they turned down the aisles to purchase whatever was left. I had to fight this tremendous urge not to scream "We're all going to die!"

I am not a supermarket fan, so granted I had not been in a while, yet even I gasped when at the check out I was told to hand over one hundred and twenty one dollars. AND that was just for me. I had already purchased a years worth of food for Max The Cat.

For some reason I had decided that my last feast would be that of a wealthy person. I bought steak, chicken, fancy cookies which were ironically named Celebrations. There was cake, chocolate. I rarely eat bread - yet there was a whole loaf of bread.
Cake mix, Italian stuffed mushrooms, cereal, salad (well!!!) fresh fruit. Unbelievable, that I imagined I would be snowed under for a week without power, yet, with the magical ability to cook. Even with power, I do not have much ability to cook.

Two friends of mine have admitted the same experience. One bought cigars! Its a wonder I didn't buy a violin and learn to play a jaunty tune in case an ice burg hit the apartment.

On the actual storm day, I ended up binge watching the amazing TV series "The Big C" while compassionately binge eating. (Seems I have forgotten that I have a freezer compartment in the fridge.)

I'm now continuing to eat as though I am a seven foot mountain climber going to The Himalayas for a year - which is great, accept I'm not a six foot mountain climber. There is only five foot of me, and most of that is my thighs!

The blessing in this story is of course how tremendously fortunate I am to have had safety, warmth and the love of friends who checked in. I am intelligent enough to realize the reason for The Blizzard Binge, kind enough to embrace it with humor and hopeful enough to know that my care for myself can be found in other things, not just food.
Isn't it fascinating how we all react.
Take care.

                                                                                      THE BLIZZARD BINGE TROLLEY


Saturday, January 10, 2015

Home

I posted Davids photograph yesterday to honor his birthday. Thank you for everyone liking it and sharing fine comments. Yes, he was quite the man and it was certainly an adventure to be his side kick for a very quick twelve years.

I was in two minds about posting it, as I judge myself imagining people to roll their eyes and think "she should be over it by now."

Here's the thing though, you don't, there is no "over it now.". Yes, it changes. Some moments I smile and laugh, consider a future, and some times the harshness of grief punches and slaps. It is true, that it is about trying to live when you simply don't want to. 

Last year, I was forcing myself to "get over it." Now, I'm taking a step forward as I slow down to embrace everything that fills my soul. Everything that inspires me, softens me, shapes and guides through slow easy breathing - not grasping and barking. I have never been that person. Money and power of identity has always been the rabbit hole to nothing for me. In fact, reacting to those false voices was the biggest mistake I made in my caring during his illness.

This is always going to be a very important part of me, and perhaps there is something simple and brave that I can do with these lessons. I know he showed me, in sickness and in health, that I could love - and boy do I enjoy embracing that!

There is a picture of David, sitting cross legged on a dock by the water. Ironically enough, it is the same sitting position that I saw him in, when they opened the ambulance doors as he arrived at the nursing home in July. 

I have often thought of that moment - and wondered how he had traveled back to a time where he felt in control and safe. He talked and wrote a lot about a sense of "home." I guess, the key relevance for a child of adoption.

Perhaps that is what we all search for - our home. 
David wrote:
".....it is a place from where one can go out and slay dragons, practice ones craft. It is like going to a well, for drink, for wishing, for the nourishing of heart and soul....."


With love x