Sunday, December 14, 2014

How'd You Like To Spend Christmas...


I don't think I know of a more serene place than Hawaii.  I also don't know of a place that seems so out of place during the Christmas holiday than Hawaii.  I mean think of it, singing "White Christmas" in a place that doesn't ever have snow seems pretty silly to me.  At the same time, the people there are so happy and always wishing you a Merry Christmas, it seems totally fitting...

 Mele Kalikimaka...
The Hawaiian way to say Merry Christmas...


As I stood on the shore of the ocean facing Molaki, I wondered just why it was that God created something so beautiful and peaceful and in the 31 years I have been going to Hawaii, how it is that it doesn't seem to have changed all that much...


Lazing away, listening to the surf, pretending to be shipwrecked (of course with more than a volleyball named Wilson to spend time with) and wondering how it is that the world, time and all stresses of life seemed to have stalled, stopped, completely dissipated.  The sun seemed to beat down in a way that its warmth was more like a touch of love.

Friday, November 28, 2014

To Love Is To Listen, To Listen Is To Hear...


I suppose that since I have been married to Jackie now for 2 months (as of tomorrow) I may as well chime in and tell you what I have learned.  Learned?  Did you really think that I wouldn't have to learn anymore?  Uh, not quite.  Life is about learning no matter how old you are, no matter what you are doing, no matter how you live in your own reality, whatever your existence is.  We learn.  All of us.  Everyone of us.

To the person living under a bridge and sleeping with a shopping cart nearby loaded with all their earthly possessions all the way over to the man who lives in a 80 story highrise with butlers, valets, chefs and nannys, every single one of us is learning.  We may not like it, we may not realize it, but alas new things come at us everyday.  In every way.

So yes, I am learning...

I am learning that I am a lot more obtuse than I ever believed... Perhaps that is because Val got used to my weirdee ways or maybe she tolerated them, either way, I didn't have to recognize my patterns, habits or set ways as something I needed to rearrange or adjust...  Jackie is deft like a surgeon when it comes to helping me see that there are some things I could do to alter my way of living...

The good news...

Fortunately, I am very open and willing to change...  As a small example, when I met Jackie, like from the beginning, in early September, I recognized that she could help me live my life in a better way...  In fact, I asked her to help me do so...  Today I am down over 90 lbs. and its all because I was willing to see the need for a new "me".  True, I had begun this path long before I met her, but I had arrived at a plateau and even felt like slipping back into my old habits...  Habits that have had very little to do with my eating whatever I want, for I haven't been on a diet, but the habits I am speaking about are how I live my life "moving" around now...   Like; I no longer look for a parknig space next to the door of a store.  I am happy to park far away and walk...  You'd be surprised at what a few 100 yards a few times a day will do for burning calories and helping you get more healthy...

Now the meat...

So you get the idea...  But the good stuff is about what Jackie is helping me learn with regard to my stubborn ways, my "Set in Stone" thinking...  When I listen to her concerns (and believe me, if you were married to me, you would have plenty of concerns too!) I listen because I want to, but I also listen because I want to be a better man...  In the movie "As Good As It Gets" Melvin, played by Jack Nicholson says to Carol, played by Helen Hunt, "You make me want to be a better man."  Its quite a terrific exchange in the movie, if you haven't seen it, "do".  If you have seen it, but its been awhile, then see it again.  You see, I have another 30-40 years in me... I could easily have become a curmudgeon and roiled in my own ways forever...  I could have slipped into the darkness of anonymity and solitude...  I wanted to, I made plans to...  Several times in fact, I had come to a plan of moving to Superior, Montana and living in a single wide trailer, taking a job slinging hash at a truck stop for the 5am thru lunch rush shifts, 7 days a week and writing and trout fishing to kill time...  which is exactly what I would have been doing...  "killing time"...

Things changed...


For some reason, I was disarmed and open...  I listened to my heart and my soul, not my head and my "reasons" and "rationale"...  BUT... It meant that I had to want to be a better man than I was and I had to change many things about me...  Most of which started with my relearning to listen and to hear, really hear, what someone was saying who cared for me and for us...  more than I wanted to be "right" and more than I wanted to "have it my way"...  Interestingly -- though -- it was so easy...  and the whole application of relationship theories that I have espoused all my life, I am now living, loving and laughing about...  Some day I will write about "The Ghost and Mrs. Muir" and how uncanny life with Jackie is!  Really...  Uncanny!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Met Half Way...

I think there are fears and worries that beset us all.  Why the magnitude of such things, how they hit us, how trying they are; vary from person to person and it seems to me to partially be a feature of our genetic make up, our background and conditioning, our outlook on life, our experiences and our skill set at dealing with trials and tribulations.

I am drawn to music.

Many ask me how it is that music is so significant to me?  I think it stems from my life as a kid, which I lived, relate to and correlate most of my entire life with music, its genre, the time in my life that a certain song was getting air play, things I thought about while listening to a certain tune...  those kinds of things...

For instance... my dad brought home a reel to reel tape system that he bought in a pawn shop.  At this time, many military guys spent much of their money on sound systems and back then, the best equipment seemed to be - clarity and sound wise - reel to reel equipment.  Such a clean sound!  Stereo sound was pretty new at the time.  No such thing as iPods, Bose sound, surround sound and so forth.  In fact, today's true sound aficionados have gone back to vinyl albums!  Pretty cool.  I loved my stereo system in my room, I had that thing running all the time I was home; studying, showering, dressing, cleaning my room, talking on the phone, it was my constant companion. 

Lyrics began to pierce my soul and I soon realized that just about all music was something to fan the flames of the heart; love songs, lost love, unrequited love, sought after love, broken hearts, all of the music seemed to ooze passion and would distill emotions and dreams.  All I have to do is make mention, of say, The Beach Boys, and you know immediately what I mean. 

With this back drop, I have been thinking a bunch about how these things have made me the man I am today.  As a very committed and active member of the Mormon church, you might conclude that music wouldn't be all that essential to me, unless it were a hymn or something sung by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.  While I am certain that reverence and worship are very crucial uses of music, so are the things I mention above in terms of "heart mapping".

I am in a new and adventurous place in life...  Marrying Jackie 54 days ago has brought me to many thoughts and given me energy in life, about life...  I can't believe the miracle of hope and a reason to trust in the future again have come into my life...  At the same time, nothing has been lost or extinguished between Val, me, our life, our family and our history.  Which is a good thing.  I can't explain how these feelings work, sometimes they feel so abnormal to someone who hasn't lost their spouse.  I'm of course presuming that, because prior to Val's illness and her going away, I am sure I wouldn't have understood this new realm I am so grateful to enjoy.  I have truly been met halfway and gathered in with reasons to live, laugh and love.  This Thanksgiving, I definitely have a lot to be very, very thankful for.


In the quiet silent seconds I turned off the light switch
And I came down to meet you in the half light the moon left
While a cluster of night jars sang some songs out of tune
A mantle of bright light shone down from a room

Come down in time I still hear her say
So clear in my ear like it was today
Come down in time was the message she gave
Come down in time and I'll meet you half way

Well I don't know if I should have heard her as yet
But a true love like hers is a hard love to get
And I've walked most all the way and I ain't heard her call
And I'm getting to thinking if she's coming at all

Come down in time I still hear her say
So clear in my ear like it was today
Come down in time was the message she gave
Come down in time and I'll meet you half way

There are women and women and some hold you tight
While some leave you counting the stars in the night

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Chest Fever....


Ever have something in your life that burst your heart, made you feel like you couldn't breath or that you had the wind knocked out of you?  "Bad news on the doorstep, I couldn't take one more step..." (1971, American Pie, Don McClean)  Maybe it was a lost love, an unrequited love, missed opportunity, sudden loss of a loved one or other reason that you feel the "heat" of having "chest fever".  I can tell you, its tough, all of it, but I can also tell you that because of when "chest fever" hits, it helps you, most definitely, cope with and understand the hardest pieces of life.

Well I know the affects of having "chest fever"...

I suffered my first loss at age 10...  My favorite dog, Heidi, (A black and tan dachshund) was run over and killed.  No one stopped to find the home of our dog, who ever killed her is probably not even alive anymore...  I sobbed for days...  My mother held my head in her lap...  I was to learn that life isn't worth living without great love...  But at the time, all I knew was Heidi was gone...

I have to apologize, I am so tired tonight, I will have to finish this tomorrow...

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Happiness...

 
I learned recently that no matter what you plan for, you better realize that the change up pitches and the curve balls of life will keep coming at you!  So many people have plans and those plans will lead them to happiness.  What is happiness to one is misery to another.  And, by the way, happiness takes practice...  But be careful, just about when you think you can play the happiness tune by ear, without music, or better, when you can play it with your eyes closed, be heart...  That's when things begin to lean away from you, tilt against the odds and you start to see that its time to regroup, rebuild and rework your happiness plans...
 
Yet, it is possible and we are meant to have joy, pleasure even, but you have to fight for it...  I have also learned that if you are integral to spreading happiness, giving it away, you are way, way better off for it.
 
When Val got sick, especially when her passing became imminent, I never thought I would ever be happy again.  I wasn't even sure if  knew what happiness was.  And yet, without filling in details of the past over 18 months of my journey to where I am today, I can tell you one thing, I am so happy.  Finding Jacqueline was itself a miracle, having her fall in love with me was something I never in a million years thought would be real.  It was easy for me, I saw so many things in her that I thought were long gone from my life.  I saw new things in her that I never believed could still exist after Val went away.  Oh trust me, I am a man, and a very human man, making stupid mistakes, but one that I am not just sure about, but feel like heaven's hand reached down and blessed me in an immeasurable way was finding Jackie and the gift of her being in my life as my wife.  My being open to a new varied, different happiness led me to her.
 
I am so happy...  There is hope for all who wish to find happiness...  First in Christ, then in the future...  I am the poster boy of hope...
 
 
 
 

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Love In Mortality....


We live in Mortality...  We were born into it...  Its the only way into this life and the only way out is going through a physical death...  A mortal life ends...  Thats it...  Along with these incomplete, least understood facets of this mortal life, I am learning that we are really lacking when it comes to understanding what LOVE is...  We want to box it up, keep it in bubble wrap, we want to not think about the expansive potential of a God like love...  No, we want to keep it neat, tidy, excluding most everyone but who we have been taught to accept into our love circle...  It can be very confusing...  At least it has been for me...

We have crushes, puppy love, first loves and sometimes we are lucky enough, like Val and I were, to have those "childhood sweetheart" loves be enough...  I have met people though, who some many years later, still wonder about those early on love experiences...  Funny, they forgot how much drama there was in them, they only remember what they felt the first time they got or gave flowers, shared an ice cream cone or walked this new young love to class...  Oh my, real love is so much more than THAT stuff!

Could it be that love knows no boundaries?  Could it be that the 2nd great commandment to love others really IS the 2nd greatest of the commandments?  Right after loving and putting God first, we love others?  I think so...  I imagine a world thriving on love...  Where it is understood and accepted that LOVE is all there really is to getting along in this life...???  Think of a human family without abuse, hatred, devoid of cheating, lying, stealing, coveting, jealousies, all the negatives that thrash us to pieces...  GONE!  Because we have chosen to LOVE!?  What an amazing concept...

Now that I am remarried, people ask me, "Dan how do you feel?"  "You seem so happy, why is that?"  "Have your feelings toward Val changed?"  (Yes, believe it or not, I get some pretty intrusive questions!)  And the list goes on and I am sure it will...  This can only be, because people see love inside a limiting thing, no room for love, but for one person, and if you love someone beyond that, oh boy, you're having an affair or you are being disloyal...  I am not talking about the 70s mantra, "Love the one you're with..."  I am trying to explore a deeper meaning of love, one that opens your wallet when you see people in need, one that devotes time to the fatherless, one that allows you to serve and not seek a reward...  Could it be that the Savior really was hoping that we would love, serve the least of all, open our hearts and our minds to something greater than self?  I am certain of it...  How is it I am so certain?  Because I have felt these things intensely over the last 30-45 days...  I do NOT question any of it...






Tuesday, October 21, 2014

A Page Has Been Turned...


About the time one feels anchored and that there won't be much change in life, like an avalanche the page turns, those same pages you once kept neat, crisp and like new, get dog-eared, because you keep thumbing through them and suddenly you find you're in an entirely new chapter in your life. I wish I could explain this.  There are people who love me, who are feeling like I'm an unknown to them, the speed of these new changes has baffled most everyone, and that includes me.  But I will tell you, it's right.  I followed my gut, I followed my heart, I followed my brain and I watched very carefully the path markers and not once did I feel or see a warning to yield.  What you may ask has happened?  Just what turn has come in the road of my life?  Why the spontaneity and the urgent, sudden move?  Because the hints, the tugs, the pushes, the chimes, the bells and whistles all went off. Not a single thing was "cause for me to bolt" and I saw a way for me to love Val and hold onto our eternal marriage, keeping entirely intact our 52 year history, without compromise or guilt.  I fell in love... a love that I cannot fully describe, because I am not sure I understand it completely...  Check that, I found a friend, who like me, lost her eternal husband and we understood together, between us, just what "that" means.  We are now married.  We have gifted the rest of our lives to one another and are keeping all we had - with Val and Clint - prior to our meeting one another, intact and solidly secure.  I cannot explain it, for it doesn't not add up.  It does not make any sense.  None.  But, I can tell you that it is as if angels have stood in place, surrounded this needful event... and all is well.  Very well.  Turn the page.  We both have turned the page.  Her name is Jacqueline.  I adore her.  I have learned that "love" has more meanings than I ever imagined, understood or dreamed I would get my head around.  Its ok.  Its a whole new vista, this life all around me.  Dinner tonight with a dear pal who lost his wife to cancer 23 months ago...  He marvels at my new chapter in life, he applauds me...  He is now hopeful for a life that doesn't feel so alone and incomplete, yet, keeping his own love alive.  It is possible.  I am sure of it.