To the Sun!

It’s cold outside here in Annapolis. 28 degrees this morning. Bailey, my Cavalier Spaniel, doesn’t seem to mind. She strolls leisurely on our walks, undeterred by the gusts of frigid wind. I long for the sun. I feel a discernible rise in temperature out of the shade. “To the sun,” I tell Bailey, then cajole and drag her in my direction.

I relate to the plants. They bend toward sunshine, availing themselves of the warmth and light pouring down. It feels good to them, too, and so they stretch, reach for the sun. To the sun, Bailey. To the sun!

It is my nature, like the plants, to reach for the warmth and light. Not in the dead heat of summer, but surely on this cold winter’s day. My little dog must understand! To the sun, Bailey. To the sun!

A Valentine Memory

Elmer’s glue. I can smell it now, actually even taste it. I waited my turn to pour some onto a paper plate to carry back to my desk. Also spread across the supply table were red and white construction paper, scissors, white paper doilies. I was in the second grade. Per the teacher’s instructions, we were to bring in a shoe box from home to decorate, with a narrow opening in the lid for our mail slot.

Instead of a shoe box I brought in a heart-shaped box. One that had contained chocolate candies. I remembered spying it in Mother’s closet. Whatever sentiments might have been associated with her gift of chocolates, she willingly gave me the box. My father cut a slit on one side of it with a sharp kitchen knife.

Children bustled around the classroom, back and forth to the supply table, all busy and intent on the decorating task. Some classmates stopped momentarily at my desk, curious and perhaps even admiring my heart-shaped box. At that age, I was not yet worried about being seen as standing out, having a novel idea. That would come later.

Scraps of paper on the floor, tiny bits of doilies. All of this had to cleaned up before the party. More bustling. We placed our boxes on the table near the teacher’s desk. Mine really stood out there. I thought my finished product was beautiful.

After filling each others’ valentine boxes we each took our own and settled into our desks to open and read the tiny cards. A room mother came in with cupcakes and probably some of those tiny pastel heart candies with “Be My Valentine” on them. Laughter, smiles, lots of talking. I was happy. And I knew when I got home my mother would have baked a heart-shaped cake, yellow with chocolate frosting. It would have 7 candles on it. It was my birthday.

 

 

 

Will Someone Please Turn on the Lights?

I was never afraid of the dark; I just couldn’t see! As a young child I didn’t question my night-blindness. I thought that no one could see after the lights were turned off. Sure, I ran into the bathroom door in the middle of the night on occasion. But didn’t everyone? After the sun went down we turned on lamps (Thank you, Mr. Edison). We turned them off at bedtime. We can see when the lights are on, and when the lights go out, we don’t see. That was my reality.

There weren’t many opportunities to have to navigate at night during childhood. We had to be inside before dark.

Then at age 10, I went to Girl Scout camp, where I slept in a tent with three other girls for two weeks. Each night after dinner and campfire activities we made our way back to our tents in the dark. We all used flashlights, per our instructions.

One day we walked out into the woods. We were each to find two trees about 12 feet apart to which we would attach our hammock. Over the hammock we strung a heavy piece of rope between the two trees, and placed a tarp over that. Our own little pup tent in the air. That was to keep us dry in case it rained.

It did rain. Hard. In the middle of the night I was awakened not by the rain but by one of the counselors. She shook my hammock, pounded on the tarp and called my name. Instead of allowing us to apply our newly learned survival skills and stay in the outdoors (my preference) we had to go back to our tents. I groped for the bare essentials. I found my shoes, then grabbed the duffel bag that supposedly held the rest of my gear. I could not find my flashlight! I tried to keep up with my fellow campers, tramping on the wet ground under a heavy rainfall, using what I could see of their flashlights to find my way. They were hurrying, their lights darting randomly like a bunch of fireflies ahead of me. Still, I could sense the general direction, and tried to stay near their voices.

A counselor walked past me and told me I needed to put on my socks. We were to never be without socks, due to the likelihood of running into snakes, briars, or poison ivy. I just kept walking, afraid that if I were to stop to look for my socks I would fall helplessly behind, out of ear range of the others. I got a few scratches from twigs and low branches, but I finally reached my tent and quickly settled in my bed. I learned that one of my tent mates also had hiked back without a flashlight. “How could you see?” I asked her.

“Oh, I could see okay. Most everyone had on something white.”

Really? I began to realize that my inability to see at night was not typical.

“I couldn’t see anything,” I told them. Only some of your flashlights.

They began testing me, holding things up right in front of my face and asking what I could see. Nothing.

Nothing at all.

To be continued

 

 

 

 

Welcome

 

“Your visions will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.” Carl Jung

I’m inviting you in. We may have more in common than you think. Were you afraid on the first day of school?  Did you have a sibling who was favored?  Did your parents argue in front of you or behind closed doors (which can be scarier)?  Did you ever win a contest? What kind, and what was the prize?  Were you overweight as a child and teased about it? Did you ever steal anything? Are you pursuing your dreams, or have you been sidelined? Do you like to write? (Please say yes!) Are you losing your eyesight? Do you have children? Biological or adopted? I had one of each. My biological child, now an adult, is still living.

After working for the past 28 years as a clinical psychologist I am now writing something other than case notes and psychological reports. I loved my job. I miss my clients and wonder at times how they are doing.

What you will see in my blog are my personal essays. All factual, honest, sometimes raw. A bit egotistical, you say? Yes. But it’s highly likely that we do share some experiences. Just because we’re human. And so something you read here might just hit you in the heart. If so, I hope you will share that with me.

I will share with you the answers to all of the above, and more. Spoiler alert: I stole a parakeet.

We can go through this together, writing from the inside out.