Sunday, April 14, 2013

Love > Hate

I just spent the last month visiting my mom at her home outside of Montgomery Alabama. We had planned a long stay so that we could do some remodeling in the RV as well as spend some quality time together. What I hadn't planned on was our visit coinciding with the release of the man who caused the automobile accident that killed my father and permanently injured my mother.

A still from the scene of the accident.
My parents car.

The driver's side of my parents car.
March 20th would have been my dad's 66th birthday if it hadn't been for that fateful day October 15, 2009. It was a day that found a man too much in a hurry, too irresponsible to have a driver's license...a man who would illegally pass another vehicle only to collide head-on into my parents car. My dad died a week later, my mom still has physical pain every single day. I miss my dad.

My mom and I made a trip to the Alabama National Cemetery in Montevallo to bring flowers to dad's grave on his birthday. The dreary grey skies soon turned blue as the sun broke through the clouds. As we walked to his marker my mom pointed out that he would have loved the view...his stone faces a pond. A bird skirted through the reeds and stopped to look at us for a long while. If I didn't know any better I'd say that maybe dad had sent that bird.

The view from his headstone.

We got a vase and set the yellow and orange mums at the base of his head stone. It still seems so surreal...even after all of these year.

His birthday fell on a Wednesday. Two days later we were in court to see, perhaps for the last time, the man who caused this heartache. The man who killed my dad and argued in court that 2 years in jail was too harsh of a penalty for what he had done. I didn't know what to expect...would I cry or break down or scream at him? Would he look at me and know that it was MY dad he killed?? Would he know that while he was going to be released the very next morning and be able to hug his family and live his life I would be longing for just 5 more minutes with my dad?

My dad clowning around at work.
When his name was called and he was brought out of the holding cell my mom and I approached the bench. He never made eye contact but he saw us. He was noticeably nervous. I stared at him trying to read his thoughts...willing him to just turn to us and apologize. Just 3 simple words..."I am sorry".

They never came. I felt numb. My mind wanted me to scream and an image of me losing control and being dragged off of this man flashed behind my eyes. And then a warm calmness seemed to embrace me. Here's what I wrote that day:

  Today I got to stand next to the man who killed my father 3 years ago. He served a 2 year sentence and is being released from jail tomorrow. I felt nothing but pity for this man. I feel that he does not grasp the enormity of his responsibility for his actions and his words, some how it's always someone else's fault or circumstances beyond his control. He, like all of us, is a product of every decision he has made throughout his life. If he wants forgiveness and perhaps even a happy and fulfilling life he can start by understanding that every decision, every action, every thought, every word spoken creates the person we become and life that we live. Although he is not the victim (although he truly believes he is in one way or another) I pity him for the life he took (my dad's) as well as the one he is throwing out the window, his own.
 Trust me...I wanted to hate him. I wanted him to die a slow and agonizing death or have someone dear to him be taken away. I wanted to belittle him, yell and make him feel like he would be better off dead. But what I really wanted was my dad to not be dead...and nothing anyone did could make that happen. So, the next best thing was to not allow this man to take any more life from me, to shift the focus off of him (because he doesn't deserve it anyway) and place it on the love I have in my life...the love I feel is even stronger now that this tragedy has taken place.

I can't explain this shift that occurred. Perhaps it was beyond my control. I'd like to think my dad somehow had something to do with it...I know I dream about him more often now. Certainly getting older has played a part in this new perspective but I think my yoga practice and meditation has also been a factor. I find myself less reactive and more introspective...less willing to allow others to destroy my inner peace and more willing to find empathy. Some might mistakenly believe this is a weakness, that I am being a push over, but its not and I'm not. It takes a certain kind of strength to be responsible for one's feelings and emotions and to forgive those we think we should hate...and in most worlds, have the 'right' to hate.

But fear not...I am far from perfect and I still get into silly "arguments"  with complete strangers on Facebook. I still have 'buttons' that can be pushed and I have yet to really learn how to take a compliment. All of life is a lesson and we are constantly learning. And yoga and meditation are called 'practices' for a reason...seldom, if ever, does anyone attain perfect enlightenment. But it's a journey we all take and we can choose how that road is paved. We can be victims or survivors, we can stay stuck in the mire or persevere until we reach firm ground, we can blame everyone else or take credit for who we are, we can feed the hate or feed the love...for that which we feed grows and what we starve dies.

We leave Alabama tomorrow and I'm really going to miss my mom. It's been great having all of this time with her. She's the sweetest, most loving person you could ever meet...and I'm not just saying that. I'm thankful that out of this pain our relationship has grown stronger and our love deeper. She's an amazing woman and I'm a very lucky daughter.

My mom and I at my wedding (she did my flowers).

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Stumbling Through the Creative Process...

Often times I have so many thoughts and ideas in my head that I actually become paralyzed. And this is true of writing. I'm the kind of person who has difficulty making decisions when offered too many choices...I'm a true Libra. Other times when I sit at the computer and start typing about things I am passionate about the story seems to fall apart before my eyes. As much as I cut and paste and rewrite, I just can't seem to get it to flow. And as we all know, I'm already "bad" at rambling. I have flaws, true...but I also have things I want to say and words I need to type and stories that may be of no interest to anyone else but still must be written. I need a process to be sure.

One thing I found out recently is that when I allow for other forms of creativity, it sparks a deeper desire or connection in all areas of my life. We have been staying with my mom in Alabama for the past month. We wanted to take this opportunity to not only spent time with her but to do some remodeling in the RV. Out of necessity I started to learn to sew (with a lot of my mom's help).

Learning to sew.
Somehow, in the course of sewing curtains, making "new" reusable grocery bags and drastically changing the interior of our RV I got inspired to cook, write and take more photos. After months of falsely thinking I was getting my creative inspiration from pictures posted on Pinterest rather than touching, feeling, tasting and smelling life I realized I needed to actually do things rather than just pin things. As much as I thought I would be moved into action by other people's posts I found I was letting my creative spark die out. It was also adding to the clutter in my mind, something I could use less of in the first place.

Fortunately, I recognized that I was wishing for inspiration rather than actually finding inspiration. For me, the doing is the key to continued creativity which, it seems, can come in many forms. It's a lot like working out and eating healthy...whichever one you start first, the other usually will follow and they will continue to 'feed' off of each other (in a good way). Along the way I gained a different perspective regarding Pinterest...rather than using it as a "If I Were Rich (or skilled or talented or knew how to knit)" wish list I am pinning things that I can use now or in the near future (it was indispensable in coming up with colors and ideas for our RV remodel).

Here are a few creative projects recently completed:

I found these shutters at a local flea market for $3.55. Loved the size but the artwork was not going to work.
After: We separated the shutters and repainted them a coral color and then distressed them for a more rustic look.
This is the other shutter with added mason jars attached by copper pipe straps-used to hold an air plant and my pens and pencils. You can also see a small note card from Ellen at Fat Girl Wearing Thin who sells her beautiful art work at EllenBrennemanStudio.
I modified one of my favorite t-shirts into a little tank I would wear more often (I'm not a fan of crew necks). I love the Eat More Kale guy!
While this is very basic sewing I was glad to be able to re-purpose some old shirts into reusable shopping bags.
Found this chair at the thrift store for $ was pretty dirty but otherwise sturdy.
Here's the same chair after painting it cobalt blue and distressing it to fit the 'rustic' ambiance.
I also made some reusable mesh produce bags thanks to a tutorial from blogger Valerie Brady at Tried & True.

Sewing my new produce bags from our old laundry bag.
Now, if only I could get myself to lace up those running shoes once again...

Friday, April 5, 2013

Don't Call It a Comeback...

I've had quite a long (unplanned) hiatus from my blogs (I also write at Tales From the Mutiny). I partially blame our travels...we hit the road October 3, 2012 in our 32-foot RV, The Mutiny, which left us without internet much of the time. But part of it has been sheer laziness. I know I'm not the only one who finds that they can fill their days with plenty of busy work to avoid doing other writing. I don't want to call this a comeback because I really didn't leave my blog or abandon my's always there in my thoughts...every day. I just got really, really shall we say...sidetracked.

via Pinterest
Although writing is one of my passions I still have mini panic attacks when I write, publish posts or submit articles for Elephant Journal. I'm always afraid that no one will care, my article will be rejected or that failure in some form or another is just around the corner. I also have a problem with keeping a journal to jot down all of the brilliant ideas and thoughts I have throughout the day...the ones I'm sure would make a fabulous entry. Then, when I sit at the computer my mind seems as blank as the screen. And I want to kill that flashing cursor.

via Pinterest
One of my sewing projects, making reusable shopping bags out of old t-shirts.
So, I have been occupying my time with this busy, reading articles and books, organizing the RV, remodeling the RV interior and sewing, which is totally new to me. The yoga part isn't really busy's a life line and it has helped me build some confidence. I did a month long yoga challenge (#yogaeverydamnday) and saw so much improvement that I became addicted. I took some time to work on a few balance poses which really helped me understand the concept of beginner mind. We can't start out as pro's in everything we do...there is always a learning curve.

In Mobile, Alabama

White Sands National Monument
I'm still trying to figure out this life balance. Sometimes the full-time RVing seems like a full-time job but then I realize how luck I am to be able to do this at my age. It's not fair to complain. And I know that I tend to procrastinate. I can only beat myself up about this so many times...

I am exploring and working hard at figuring out how to make this all work...the need to write, finding the inspiration and direction, staying creative, keeping positive and being fearless. I am experimenting with new passions and creative endeavors and am thankful for some new friends (and old) who help inspire me. I've also got a new gadget (Karma) which I am hoping will give me more reliable internet once we resume our travels.

I'm also trying to learn that life isn't always go...go...go. But that sometimes there is nothing wrong with taking a nap, laying in the sun, reading a book or doing a whole lot of nothing.

By the way, I am also on Instagram at lynnbonelli (isn't everyone??) and would love to follow you back so leave your user name in the comments!
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