Monday, August 30, 2010

No Regrets

I heard an interview on NPR a few months back with Lee Kravitz, former editor of Parade Magazine. After losing his job he began to reflect on his life and decided to make amends for the wrongs he had committed in the past and reconnecting with people in his life. This included his family that he had ignored for years because of his job. One of the people he reconnected with was a college chum who he borrowed $600.00 from and never paid back. When he contacted the friend, the friend had forgotten all about the loan.

It caused me to reflect back on my own life to see where I may have some unfinished business that should be taken care of before its too late and to identify any “regrets” that may be eating away at my subconscious. In all honesty, I couldn’t come up with too much. Does that mean that I’ve lead a good life or a boring one?

I didn’t have that many close friends in high school, yet have maintained contact with several of them. There were a few working relationships that occasionally went sour, but I either have lost contact with those folks or am totally at ease that these either never developed into true friendships or went by the wayside.

My first marriage was a disaster, but I have long ago come to accept my poor decision to marry this person and the life we had together for two years as a learning experience. I really don’t regret this relationship although I am sorry for some of the pain that I caused my family because of it. The silver lining to this saga was my daughter, Lauren, my life’s joy.

There is one debt that remains unpaid. That was a $1,000 balance on a lawyer’s bill from the lawyer that handled my divorce. I was receiving $12.00 a week in child support from my ex, paying $240.00 a month in day-care, plus rent, and was making about $18,000 per year (is this justification enough?). There was no money left to pay that bill. I have been thinking that I should take the money and make a donation in her name to some charitable organization.

I also feel badly that I never really understood how I contributed to the atmosphere in our home during my second marriage until after my husband had passed. I took the time to work this out and truly believe I did what I could at the time, and came to terms with my inability to handle things differently. I try very hard not to practice passive-aggressive behavior now, and believe that I am not repeating all of the same mistakes I made in those years.

Some folks suffer regrets over luxury-type things that one wishes they should have – or things they should have done, like buying that Porsche or traveling to some distant place, going skydiving or some other exotic adventure. I never had the desire to do anything exotic (would love to have had a little black Carrera), but did want to get to Italy, which I did. Thierry and I will be visiting the Grand Canyon by rail in November, and we will continue to look at the list of places we’d like to see while I still can. But in all honesty, I will not be sad when reflecting on my life that I never got to see some of these places. In the grand scheme of things, these things are not important.

So, is having few regrets due to living a boring life, a good life, or just learning how to deal with and accept those things that we did in the past, and putting them in proper perspective?

I returned home from Maine on Wednesday and got right back into my throne at the infusion center on Thursday. It took a wallop out of me, but I have bounced back today and took advantage of my renewed energy level and got some stuff done. I go for scans on the 11th, and we’ll see where things stand and hopefully identify some of the pains I have been feeling.

It’s been a good day, and I can honestly say, I have no regrets, and just a little bit of business to take care of.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Concentrate on the Good Things

We have had a great week exploring the “Down East” coast of Maine. The weather has been very good this year in Maine (the best in 10 years we’ve been told). We have done only a little sailing the last few days due to light winds, and managed to make way under some pretty heavy fog. Today we are in Rockland and although there was a lot of fog out in the bay, the weather inland is spectacular.

I am on my third book, The Constant Gardener, which has turned out to be a good read. I saw the movie years ago, but don’t remember the ending so the book remains a mystery to me.

This past week I have been quite pensive. I’ve had pains in various parts of my body, mostly around the middle and in my back. I have been working hard at trying not to think about them and what they could be. I concentrate on the scenery, or what is playing on the radio, or try to concentrate fully on my book. It works most of the time. So, rather than spend time writing about my pains, I will write about what makes me happy.

Flowers: especially in the winter when everything is so dreary outside. I always cheer up and smile when I look at a vase holding a colorful bouquet. The more variety the better, although I do like a vase overstuffed with just tulips or a bunch of sunflowers.

Maine: Relaxes me and continues to amaze me in its beauty. I really think I could spend the whole summer here.

Lauren: Although she sometimes causes me worry, she is my sunshine. She is funny, pretty, good-hearted, quick-witted and kind.

Thierry: My rock. Even-tempered, funny, and smart; I find peace when my head is on his shoulder. I will miss him when I go home next week without him.

My parents: Yes, at this stage of their lives they can be frustrating, but I never tire hearing my dad tell stories, and nothing feels as good as hearing them tell me that they love me – a phenomena that only occurred in their old age.

My sisters: Who anchor me and are there to support me when things are bleak.

My friends: So many beautiful, intelligent, witty and talented women (and men) that share our lives.

A Grey Goose Martini: Which I allow myself every now and then, mostly on off-chemo weeks. They never tasted as good as they do now.

Hot peppers from Dad's garden:  Aside from being a great addition to almost any dish, we have had more laughs over situations arising from those peppers!

A really good pastry: I’ve pretty much lost my taste for chocolate, but love a good croissant or fruit tart. I guess it’s the combination of fat, white flower and sugar that does it! Things I haven’t allowed myself in a long time!

Spaghetti and meatballs: Still my favorite meal, especially when Lauren makes it. (Sorry Jean, I haven’t had yours yet!)

Email: A great way to communicate, along with texting!

A good book: I can be entertained for hours with a good book. Fiction in particular can take me places where I don’t go on my own.

There are probably more things I could add to the list, but these jump out at me at the moment.  Plus it would probably get monotonous for my dear readers. I’ll continue to concentrate on the good things and being in the present – and with a little luck, my weeks will continue to be as good as this one.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

A Maine Story

It is Saturday night, August 14th, and we just arrived back on Curlew after having drinks and dinner at the Islesford Dock Restaurant on Little Cranberry Island, Maine. (See Curlew’s blog if you are interested in hearing about where we’ve been the last week.) I just hung up the phone after talking with my parents who sound amazingly good and who were very chatty.

We were here several years ago, and it is interesting to see the huge houses that grace the shoreline of what once seemed like a remote, traditional Maine Island; inhabited in the summer by a few folks from away, lobstermen, and during the winter, by a handful of die-hards who manage to brave the weather and remoteness of the island.

Little Cranberry is to the south of Mount Desert Island and close to South West and North East Harbors, both on Mount Desert, but very popular and wealthy if you judge the real estate populated by the summer visitors and the boats that are produced here: Hinckley out of South West and Morris yachts out of North East. It is unfortunate that these islands are becoming places for the rich, displacing the locals who have lived here for dozens of years but can no longer afford the taxes which rise along with the million dollar homes.

Tonight, while dining at the bar of the Islesford Dock, we heard a story of a man who purchased several acres of property some 30 years ago from a woman who happened to take a liking to him, and built a house. According to our storyteller, she sold it for some ridiculously low price at the time. I can’t help but imagine what it is worth now, let alone hearing something like that happening today.

On our way back to the boat, we were guided by a crisp, crescent moon, accompanied by Venus gleaming brightly to its right. When I am here I am reminded of the many years we spent in the Adirondack Mountains. There you could see the Milky Way in all its splendor; a mass of stars so congested that they looked like a malted shake. A sight like this you just don’t see in the city or its surrounding suburbs.

This morning, before we left our last anchorage, we watched the scenery morph dramatically as the tide, which dropped some 15 feet, exposed the rocks and plant life that lay hidden upon our arrival. Thierry spotted two sets of seals sunning on the rocks and two swimming in the water, along with a loon and other birds. Maine always offers up something entirely new and wonderful.

Tonight I outdid myself. I had a Grey Goose Martini before dinner, along with a terrific mussel appetizer which Thierry and I shared. We then had halibut for dinner with a bottle of Sangiovese, both of which were very good! I haven’t drunk that much in a long time and I have to tell you, it feels pretty good. We’ll see how it all shakes out tomorrow!

Speaking of tomorrow, we may go back to North East Harbor to do some laundry and buy some food as we are out of fresh vegetables; or we may just decide to hang out and take it easy. Then we will make our way southwest to Rockland where we will meet our friends, the Davisons, for dinner and pick up Lauren and Michael who will join us for a few days. I will ride back with them to Philadelphia the week after.

Although I would love to chatter about something I’ve thought about this whole trip (regrets; you might ask where that came from!), I will save that for another blog. It has been a truly wonderful week, and a special evening. No regrets here!

Monday, August 9, 2010


It’s a rainy Monday in South West Harbor Maine (one of my favorite places), but that hasn’t dampened our spirits and excitement over the few plans we have made since I arrived on Friday. My flight to Bangor from Philadelphia was uneventful and even arrived a few minutes early. My taxi was waiting for me and we made the trip to Belfast in about 45 minutes. Thierry was at the dock, looking dapper and very tan!

I won’t go into all that we’ve done since my arrival – I’ll leave that for you to read on Thierry’s blog. Suffice it to say, we’ve had two beautiful days of sailing and are looking forward to a great week ahead.

For a few months now I have been wanting to write about a specific topic, but other ideas always came to the surface. Part of the problem is getting started – I guess I should just sit down and write when the thought first pops in my head – it would make things a lot easier.

A young woman I know told me a while back that she was leaving the area to move in with her partner, who happened to be a woman. I think maybe she was a little apprehensive as to what my reaction would be. I actually was pleased that she felt she could share this news with me.

I personally believe people should be able to live their own lives and be in relationships with whomever they choose, as long as they are loving, healthy relationships. I don’t know why I am still shocked when I hear blatant comments being made about blacks, gays and other groups. I guess I figure that we are a more enlightened, educated and mature society than we really are.

In some 34 states, employers have the right to fire gay employees for no reason – other than they are gay! I’ll stay away from the subject of “don’t ask, don’t tell”. People have been screaming that by allowing gays to marry in California, the sanctity of marriage is going to be ruined. Considering the high divorce rate in this country, I would think that the last thing to threaten the tradition is gayness! I know several gay couples that have truly loving, caring relationships that have endured for many years.

Why are people so threatened by something as innocuous as a same sex relationship? Is it the result of centuries of repression by religious leaders who perhaps felt the need to suppress homosexuals just like they did with females over the centuries, forbidding them to learn to read/write and participate in religion and government? Or maybe is it fear? Fear of what though; this eludes me.

We are who we are. It is what we bring to the table that defines our worth. To those who spout their Christian virtues I say start thinking like Christ, be giving, forgiving and welcome all of humanity into your hearts.

It’s a great day in Maine (even though they defeated same sex unions in 2009 – but only by a few percentage points!).

Monday, August 2, 2010

What To Do

Thierry’s been gone for two weeks now (although it feels longer), and I really thought I would be extremely productive in his absence. To the contrary, I find I have become somewhat of a slug, spending a lot of time thinking about what I should be doing, could be doing, or what I should want to be doing, and actually doing very little. When Thierry’s around I am at least motivated to appear busy!

What I should be doing is to continue the clean out process I haven’t really made a dent in for a few weeks. I also have a new computer which needs to be set up – but there again, it sits on the sidelines waiting for my attention. Then there’s the cookbook project which I haven’t even thought about since I wrote it down on a yellow sticky and posted it on my computer monitor.

The things I could be doing or should want to be doing are a little less clear. I mean, when you get the talk (about now is the time to do the things you always wanted), isn’t that when you make your list and start charging ahead? I’ve been thinking about the list for a while. Yes, I want to travel, but that takes planning, money and time. Travel needs to fit in with weekly chemo and trips to Maine. We are and will continue to travel, but what about the in-between time?

We go to plenty of concerts and movies, visit with family (although maybe not enough), and spend time with friends. There are only so many concerts and movies to go see and hear, and friends have jobs and friends and families of their own. Filling up evenings isn’t as difficult as filling up the days.

I have thought about getting more work. This takes effort – like networking and going to meetings in which you are really not interested. Some days I know I am just not physically up for that, and then what do I do, wear my wig or go au naturelle? Would someone want to contract with a chemo-patient? Also, having networked for over ten years, the idea of doing it again makes me feel ill. I’ve considered a part-time job, but that limits our potential travel plans.

I have some thoughts on how to get more work without being “out there”, and I’ve been thinking a lot about volunteering somewhere. This idea sounds most appealing. Of all the volunteer work I’ve done or work for pay with the underserved population, the most satisfaction I received was when I worked with boys between the ages of 13-18 with their homework after school. They really appreciated the time, and I loved seeing their interest and progress. I really felt useful.

This state of inertia is new to me. I was always the type of person that thrived when busy and always found ways to be even busier. I not only joined organizations but got elected on their boards. I participated in events and planning, constantly on the go. I knew tons of people and they knew me, but that just doesn’t interest me anymore. On the other hand spending my days being unproductive is frightening. I don’t think I am depressed, but I certainly am not motivated. Self-motivation is always difficult, but is much easier when you have a goal. Sometimes I feel like I am in a state of limbo; waiting for news. Just what news, I don’t know, but I do know I can waist a lot of time waiting. I guess it goes back to how you want your obituary to read, and I don’t want mine to say that she had an exciting life until the end, when she just sat back and let it pass her by.

The day is only half over, and I’ve actually done some work, went to the gym, wrote my blog, and am going out to do some errands. It has been a good and relatively productive day.

PS: Some of you have told me that you have started cleaning out closets, etc. When planning your clean-out, don’t forget your kitchen cabinets and pantry. I was surprised to see that a bottle of Rose’s Lime Juice actually has a shelf life – what a weird color brown the liquid became! So did the open bottle in the fridge. Can’t even remember the last time I used it – or where I moved it from.