Paradise is Sharing...

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Jesus would say.... "Happy Holidays, Sister"

I hesitate as I type this blog message today, but I feel I have to say something. At first, I was going to create a status update for Facebook, but then remembered my friend stating she hates it when people get "bloggy" with their Facebook statuses, and I decided I do too.. I always feel like saying to people who post their life story or harp poltical, religious or ethical issues on a Facebook status to "get a blog". Well, I have a blog, and I am going to use it.

I am not a "Bible Thumper"... heck, I barely call myself "Christian"... I really don't label myself at all. I do believe I was created by God - the Source - and His eyes and ears are everywhere, and they make up the Universe. I believe Jesus was sent to us, as a Son of God, to show us the Way. I also believe that I am the daughter of God, you are a child of God, and we are all God. Jesus was the man though... he was the one who could articulate the words, walk the talk, live and breath the Truth and the Way... and, as all amazing Sages, Teachers, Prophets who have come before and after Him.... he was a MAN. For that, I praise Him. That is my personal belief - if it offends you, I am not sure why.. because you have your beliefs, and what ever they are - I respect them. How can that be offensive?

What I am finding disheartening is many of my Facebook friends (I may lose some after today... and if I do, I wish you love, I wish you kindness, and I wish you peace in our departing) ... are posting (as "Christians") that they are offended because they feel they are losing the freedom to say "Merry Christmas" This is the post that is currently circulating:

"WHAT A CROCK OF SH@T..... We can't say Merry Christmas now we have to say Happy Holidays. We can't call it a Christmas tree, it's now called a Holiday tree? Because it might offend someone. If you don't like our "Customs" and it offends you so much then LEAVE I will help you pack. They are called customs and we have our traditions If you... agree with this...please post this as your status!! I AM A PROUD American."

First of all... what does being an "American" have to do with Christmas? As a Spiritual Being, as a Child of God, as one who celebrates Christmas and enjoys all the beauty, enchantment and meaning of the holiday... It saddens me greatly to see these posts on Facebook. Someone is missing the mark. This is not what Christmas is about... it's not how Jesus taught us to love. Jesus was never afraid of offending anyone - he knew that our legacy that he left us, we would have to BE offensive to find the way. I wondered, "What would Jesus post if he were on Facebook?"... and I think he may have repeated this verse "These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men."

Your hearts are far from Jesus. Think about that for a moment while you get "offended" when someone restricts your right to say "Merry Christmas".... a holiday that Jesus himself did not even celebrate. (There are no known mentions in the Bible of Jesus celebrating his own birthday) A Holiday that is simply a tradition handed down from generation to generation... rules taught by men.

What amazes me more, is these so-called Christians telling people to LEAVE if they do not agree with them. Yes, it is your freedom to say "Merry Christmas"... but it is also other peoples freedom to say "Happy Holidays"... by you not respecting other peoples freedoms, you diminish your own (remember my cause and effect post from yesterday?) And to banish people because they do not think the same way that you do... Since when is being an American homogeneous with being closed minded?

The hysterical thing is the word "Christmas" is not even IN the Bible. Go ahead, look for it... I will wait.....

I think (in my own humble spiritual way) that Jesus would be embarrassed by this Holiday created "in His name". Ornamental trees and lavish gifts and decorations and hooplah is not how Jesus lived his life. In fact, the Bible doesn't even approve of having a Christmas Tree (or Holiday Tree... or what ever)...

"The customs of the people are worthless, they cut a tree out of the forest, and a craftsman shapes it with his chisel, they adore it with silver and gold, they fasten it with hammer and nails so it will not totter" (Jeremiah 10-3,4).
Please understand I am not posting this blog to be argumentative.... quite the opposite actually. I am posting because I really hope the argument is dropped. I see overly zealous Christians bleating out "Put the Christ back in Christmas!".... Jesus would probably say "Did I ever leave?"

I really do not believe Jesus would be offended if I wished him a "Happy Holiday".... I don't see Jesus as someone who offends that easily. Telling him to pack up and leave because he doesn't share my view points...well, that might get his goat. (or His donkey)

So, what do I believe Jesus would say to me in greeting at this time of year? Well, he was Jewish, so he may say "Happy Hanukkah" ... but more than likely, Jesus would say to be more concerned about the celebration of his departure, (or lack there of) than of his arrival.

And so, to all my beloved friends, I sincerely wish you the warmth, the miracle, the beauty, the glow of LOVE and LIGHT and encourage you to be the beautiful beacon that you are.

~ Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Holidays, Glad Yule ~

Love, Cilly

Monday, November 28, 2011

Be careful what you wish for....

I've been watching alot of Oprah lately... I especially have been enjoying Oprah's Life Class and Soul Sundays. Bravo Oprah for putting something on TV that actually enriches our lives and adds to our character.

Anyway, Oprah was interviewing Tom Shadyac, director of the I AM documentary, and they were talking about cause and effect. What struck me was Oprah's comment about how she used to write down a list of things she "wanted' every year... and she doesn't do that anymore. She joked "One year, I asked for more courage.. so what did the Universe do? It sent me more situations to test my courageousness... so I don't ask for courage anymore!

I literally laughed out loud and tears came to my eyes when she said that... because I have done the same thing. Every year I would take a sabbatical on my birthday, go out into the middle of the woods some where with a leather bound journal and jot down everything I wanted to accomplish. I had a list of things I wanted by the time I was 30, 35, 40... and with each passing year, I look back and see a list of struggles, with a few speckles of success spackled in.

I wanted to be a master of my finances... the Universe has sent me financial disasters to master. I had thousands of dollars of debt from Destiny's medical bills... I lost my job, I struggled to build a business in a weak economy. What better way to become a master than to be thrown into the fire?

I wanted to be healthy, fit, and vibrant... I had excruciating headaches, nausea, vertigo. I learned what it was like to not have my health. I wished for a day where I could work a full day, have the strength to wash my dishes.. to do simple things. I learned to value my health in a way I had taken for granted before.

I wanted to have strong relationships... The Universe has tested my relationships in order to make them stronger - some relationships crumbled completely. At the time, I questioned God - "Why... why on earth is it when I strive for something the most, it seems further and further away from my grasp?"

Cause and effect my friend. What ever you put out... comes back to you. Be careful what you wish for.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

I Want ..... absolutely nothing

Wanting.... it's become a fad.

You see and hear it in everything from The Secret, to numerous vision board workshops and seminars on how to "manifest your dreams into reality." The promise is if you believe it, you can achieve it.

And to some extent, yes - I agree - what you visualize becomes your reality. The Law of Attraction and Newtons Law of Motion are real - just as real as the law of gravity. That is why it kinda cracks me up when people ask me how they can start to practice or "use" the Law of Attraction in their lives.... um, well... that is like asking when gravity is going to kick in... you kind of don't have a choice - you are effected by the law whether you are aware of it or not. What ever you put out, the Universe sends back. What comes around, goes around. Period the end. Guess what - what goes up, must come down too. Count on it. If you don't believe me, go jump off a bridge and see what happens. The end result aint no Secret, I can clue you that.

When I first started out coaching, a friend of mine asked me to participate in a vision board workshop that she was leading. I was really excited because I had just started reading the Law of Attraction, and I had just watched the Secret... so I was stoked. She lead a very inspiring and motivational workshop, and at the end of the day, we all walked away of all our hopes, dreams and desires cut out of random magazines and stick-glued to a piece of posterboard.

I stared at that damn board every day for months.... I looked at the picture of the cabin in the woods, I looked at the picture of Matt Lauer and Oprah Winfrey (who will be the first ones to interview me when my book hits the New York Best seller List)... and I fascinated about the money I would have, the things I would buy, and the success I would feel. And I felt very, very empty. After a year, I crumpled up the posterboard and threw it in my campfire.

You may be asking, "But Cilly, you are a life coach... don't you believe in setting goals, striving to gain and grow, and achieving?"

Why yes, yes I do... But one lesson I have learned in my own life, and through working with clients is there is a BIG difference between wanting something and working towards a goal. Wanting produces a gap in your life - a gap between where you are now, and where you want to be... creating longing, loss, or lack. Whenever there are gaps in our life, because of the vacuum effect - it has to be filled with something... and that something is usually stress, anxiety, dissatisfaction, disappointment... or as Buddha puts it so simply... "suffering."

Working towards a goal fills that gap - because you HAVE something... you have a plan. You fully acknowledge where you are now, and you fully acknowledge what you want in your life, and you fill the gap with small, achievable steps.... but here is the real "secret"... ready for it? What really magnetizes your goals and attracts them to you is GRATITUDE.

Joel Osteen delivered a great sermon on this very topic today - praise. He said Isaiah 54 says,

“Sing, oh barren woman, you who never bore a child; break forth into song and shout for joy.” You may be at a place today where you have unborn promises; you have loved ones you’re praying for, but aren’t seeing the change; you may even feel barren. During times like these, it’s tempting to give up and say, “Too bad. It’s never going to happen.” But that’s the time when you need to praise God even more. Praise opens the door for God to move and for breakthroughs to come."

The real secret that unlocks all the doors to all our desires is not visualizing on what we do not yet have, but being grateful for what we have already been given. One of my favorite quotes is from Ralph Marston, and I believe he sums it up perfectly

“What if you gave someone a gift, and they neglected to thank you for it - would you be likely to give them another? Life is the same way. In order to attract more of the blessings that life has to offer, you must truly appreciate what you already have.”

So, my challenge to you (and when I say you, I mean me.... you can join me if you'd like) is to stop WANTING. I want nothing. I have everything I need to live my best life.

I will continue to grow, stretch, and expand by staying open to all the Universe offers, and I give thanks for the many blessings I have in my life. I am abundant beyond measure. I, alone, am enough.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Guilty as Charged...

“Never regret. If it’s good, it’s wonderful. If it’s bad, it’s experience.” ~Victoria Holt

I've been thinking alot about guilt and shame lately.... ya, I know, not exactly an uplifting topic to think about, but it's a topic that gets brought up in coaching sessions often, and I know it's something we all experience and carry around like an overburdened pack mules.

I have also been thinking about guilt, shame and remorse quite often lately because I have made it a personal quest to expand my life and practice being more compassionate. Being compassionate to me translates to not being judgmental, and forgiving those (in the words of the Lords Prayer) who have trespassed against me, and it's also about forgiving myself. It's about ultimate kindness and self-care.

Some guilt is valid, we did something wrong ... and we were either caught in the act, or if we actually "got away with it" we may feel so remorseful for our wrong doings we can't live with ourselves..... much like our friend Denver....

Or the time I found the remote control chewed up.....

And soon discovered the culprit:

The remorse on Denvers face is undeniable, and Lexi clearly showed she felt badly for eating the remote control. Denver and Lexi are not "bad dogs".... and when shown loving kindness, they (because they are dogs, and live in the moment) quickly let go of their feelings of guilt and remorse and resumed to their normal happy, people pleasing and fun loving selves....

So why is it so difficult for us humans to do the same? To let go of shame and guilt? We are also natural people pleasers. We just want to feel accepted and loved, but most of the time, after falling from grace, we are the ones who do not permit ourselves forgiveness - we stand in the way of our own redemption.

I personally am very familiar with self judging, self conviction and self damnation. For some reason, my ego (my Gremlin - I've named her Cecilia) thinks I am supposed to be more perfect than everyone else. Cecilia thinks that I am supposed to have all the answers, be diligent with my finances, and make way more money. Cecilia also thinks that I should be much more educated, well spoken, and polished like a brand new penny. As a result, I constantly fear that I am letting everyone down. I fear I am a disappointment to my family, to my friends, and to my partner, and yes, I sometimes feel like I failed Destiny, and I am racked with guilt that I do not give enough care to Lexi.

Since moving out on my own, getting divorced, losing my job and starting my own business - I made mistakes, alot of mistakes. Some were avoidable - they could have been easily averted had I set aside my pride and asked for help. Some I needed to make, otherwise, I would not be where I am today, but what I am left with is a pile of debt, and a few bruises to my credit score. But what I am learning is guilt, shame and remorse is not going to pay the bills... Whats done, is done. I am also going to acknowledge that I did the best I could, and in this present moment, all is well.

I read somewhere once that carrying around shame is like hiking up a mountain and each time you stub your toe on a rock, you reach down and pick up the rock and put it in your back pack.

It's time to put down the sack, stand up straight, and take a good look at the view. It's time to hike up this mountain without the guilt, shame and remorse that has been weighing me down.

Suze Orman was just recently on Oprah's Life Class, and she said the first step to financial freedom is to BE HONEST. I believe that is the first step to everything. Get honest with yourself - get real.

All journeys need a good map, and a compass. My map is my financial plan I created with my financial coach, Cindy. My compass is what will bring me back to center.... and I am leaning into meditation and exercise.. with that, practice makes .... well, I am not going to say perfect, because Cecilia would like that. Practice makes progress. If the journey gets challenging, I may need a walking stick - support (friends and family) to help me through the rough spots.

Lastly, I need to stop picking up more rocks. Stop beating myself over the head with them too.... I trip, I stumble... but sometimes a stumble is what prevents a fall.

Remembering a wrong is like carrying a burden on the mind. ~Buddha

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

I AM...

For anyone who has read my profile, you will notice that I have what seems to be a poem of sorts...

"I am a mountain ~ I am birds singing and trees rustling ~ I am my Destiny ~ I am her brown eyes looking at me with trust ~ I am a timid deer crossing a river ~ I am an eagle soaring ~ I am the shimmering gleams of light sparkling across the water ~ I am the warm sun on my back ~ I am the cool soil of the earth ~ I am Destinys soft, white, downey fur ~ I am the cork handle of my fly-rod, I am the swishing of my fly line ~ I am pure clean air ~ I am clean fresh water ~I am made just for me"

A few people have asked me what it means... to me, it means everything - thank you for asking. It is my manifesto, my mission statement, my personal declaration to the Universe and myself. It is as important to me as my name, received to me in what is equivalent to me as a naming ceremony... during the last day of coaching training at iPec. The day I became a life coach.

Our training leader, Stephanie led us through an exercise where she had us visualize the most sensual place on earth to us. She had is write down the following: I see, I touch, I hear, I taste, I smell, The Universe Is..... and then she turned the CD player on to a beautiful flute and instrumental music, and asked us to think of an experience in our lives where we felt extreme joy and peace. My minds eye brought me right to the banks of the Kennebago River... I had awoken at dawn, made breakfast for me and Destiny and set out to drown some newly tied flies.... the river gleamed and sparkled. The current babbled and gurgled over the rocks. Destiny waded in and let the current sway through her fur. I rolled up my pants, kicked off my sneakers and dipped my feet into the icy water. The air was light and clean, and smelled like the pines that were dancing in the breeze. I held the cork handle of my fly rod that because of use had become fitted and comfortable in my hand. I cast out my fly line ... swish, swish, swish..... I heard a splish-splashing and thought it would be Destiny, but no, it was a yearling making her way across the river, daintily tip-toeing across as if she didn't want to disturb us. Destiny amazingly watched her cross without a peep. The sun rose higher, and the sun warmed my back.... a shadow swept over the river, and looking up I saw an eagle swooping around, as pretty as a kite. This moment was paradise - it was made just for me.

Stephanie gently chimed the tingshas and we all opened our eyes.... then she asked us to write down our vision. Lastly, she asked us to cross out the words I see, I touch, I hear, I taste, I smell, The Universe Is..... and replace the words with the words "I AM" .... and I knew at that moment something magical had just happened. I was, for the first time in 34 years, introduced to my true, authentic, genuine self. I finally knew who I trully AM.

Confession - Before writing this blog entry, I had written another one. Mercifully, for you and me, I did not end up posting it, because it was whiney, full of woe-is-me and simply a pathetic showing of what I am NOT. Luckily, I wrote it, drafted it, and set it aside to read again when I was in a better frame of mind. It was not just unproductive to you, my readers, but it was damaging and un-useful to me, the writer, the one who writes as a method of clarity and therapy.

The title of the drafted blog entry was "I AM FAT!".... with a title like that, you can just imagine the hate, spew and venom it spat from the harsh words, creative self-damnation, and put-downs it contained. It was a waste of my energy to write it, and it would have been a waste of your time to read it. Trust me.

After writing the nearly 10 paragraph declaration of war on all things made with sugar, cream, white bread and dairy, and all the reasons I was weak and pitiful for playing victim to laziness, self-sabotage, and procrastination... I decided to read up on what my other friends were doing. I follow several blogs - some are about personal journeys, some are about dogs, some are a combination of personal journeys and their dogs, like this one.

I also have a secret passion - I love googling classmates and finding out if they are writing blogs. Seems a little creepy-stalker like.... but I find it incredibly interesting to see what the rest of the 70 classmates that graduated from FHS class of 1991 are doing with their lives since the day we turned our tassles and walked out of the halls and away from the people that occupied the formative years of our lives. One blog in particular, I have read for quite some time. The author of the blog did not know until recently that I follow it. She is a friend from high school. I always thought of her as trendy, interesting, witty... so when I first found her blog, I read it because of the interesting photography she takes. We were friends in High School, but not really "close friends", and we never stayed in touch after High School, but I always liked her, and as I said, found her interesting. One day, she posted "I have cancer". That was day 1. She vowed that each day after her diagnoses she would post. I would pop in occasionally to see what she was doing, and how she was feeling. Many times, cancer wasn't mentioned in her daily updates. It was about her kids, or something she was working on. Other days, her posts were signed off with a "Fuck you cancer" It wasn't a woe-is-me statement - it was a warning to cancer to take heed, this girl is out to get you. On this particular day, she was on day 76.

After reading her post, I decided I was not going to post the blog entry I had just written... and here is why - Never once, did Beth ever say "I AM CANCER." I am in NO WAY comparing being overweight to having cancer ... so excuse the disclaimer (and one day, I hope to be a talented enough writer to not feel like I have to have disclaimers.... and one day after that, I hope that my disclaimers will not have disclaimers) But my point is - Beth is NOT cancer. She has cancer. Just like my friend Em is NOT MS, her son is NOT autism, and my sweet Destiny was NOT renal failure... and guess what folks - I AM NOT FAT. I am all the things that I aforementioned in the paragraph above. I am a mountain. I am birds singing and trees rustling - I AM MY DESTINY.

Luckily, I can live my life free of doctors visits, chemo treatments and losing my hair. I do not have to fear dying. Yes, my body is overweight according to medical standards, but for now, it is not a medical issue for me, it's an emotional one. I am not fat. I am not sick. I am not dying.

I Am statements are SO powerful, because the words that fall from your lips land on the ears of the Universe, and the Universe always replies - without fail - "Your wish is granted"

I am so much more than fat. I AM not fat. I am a mountain ~ I am birds singing and trees rustling ~ I am my Destiny ~ I am pure clean air ~ I am clean fresh water ~I am made just for me" I AM made just for me. I am Cilly.

(and PS... day 78 is a beautiful day for Beth.... she IS in remission. She IS cancer free - Fuck you cancer!)

Monday, November 7, 2011

Home Cilly Home...

Yesterday, MyHoney and I had the whole day to ourselves - which is a very rare treat. He had a gig at a tavern in the next town over, and spent Saturday night at my place, which meant we had a whole day together Sunday. We slept in late, lazed around in our pajamas, and watched the morning news shows. What made the day even better was we had time on our side - literally. It was the day we got to change our clocks back an hour.

We decided since it was a beautiful day, we would take the dogs hiking. Our first thoughts were to take the dogs up to Rattlesnake Mt, which is a fun, short, yet scenic hike up in Raymond. I raided the hen house good and early and started on a hearty breakfast of french toast and applewood smoked bacon. I mixed up the french toast batch with some vanilla, pumpkin pie spice and I had real maple syrup to go with. I LOVE Sundays like this. LOVE LOVE LOVE them. I love cooking for people I love. LOVE LOVE LOVE it.

I quickly realized my fry pan was not big enough for bacon AND french toast, and improvised by baking the french toast in my oven - which I then discovered my cookie pan did not FIT in my small little apartment sized oven. *sigh* I miss my big kitchen with it's stainless steel appliances, my pampered chef pans, my big Kitchen Aid mixer, and my ample counter space and fancy cookware, plates and dishes. Sometimes I wonder why I left it all behind.

Once I switched out the cookie pan for one that WILL fit in my oven, I was now on my way to having breakfast done. The sun streaked across my apartment and warmed the kitchen. The chickens started cackling, and my little apartment glowed in the morning sun. Lexi stretched out and napped in a sunbeam. Derby was curled up on the dog bed, and MyHoney stumbled into the kitchen for a second cup of coffee, and because of the tight floor space, "had to" hug me on the way to the coffee pot. With his arms around me, and his breath on my neck, I realized... Ah yes, THIS is why I left all that other stuff behind... because I LOVE this place. I love my new life. I love my apartment - the sunny windows, the pine ceilings... the chickens, the dogs, the peace, the quiet... I love all of it.

Our plans got thwarted when my cellphone jingled at 8:30am... it's my Dad. He wants me to come down to the farm and help him list his bulk veggies for sale on Craigslist. A pang of guilt overcame me, because this was the first fall ever that Dad had not called me to ask for help - with anything. It was the first year he did not plant 15 acres of rutabagas. It was the first year I did not spend every weekend of my time covered in mud, sweating my ass off or freezing it off... depending on the elements, and hunched over row after row of root vegetables with a knife in my hand and a crick in my back. I told him that Mike and I were taking the dogs hiking, but we would take them to Bradbury Mt instead of around Gorham so we could swing into the farm, and I could help him with Craigslist. He sounded relieved. He must have a hell of a surplus on his hands if he is turning to the internet for help. It's taken a while for Elwin to get into the "modern" age... but even he is seeing the use of social media. I helped him sell off all his rutabaga processing equipment this past fall - I came down and took pictures of each machine, let Dad write a detailed description, and uploaded it all to Craigslist. To Dads amazement, the phone rang... and yes indeed.. there was someone out there who wanted to buy potato processing equipment that had been re-purposed for rutabagas. Dad suddenly had a new appreciation for "the internet" when he had a wad of cash in his hands, and more space in his barn.

After breakfast, we cleared the dishes and loaded the dogs in my car. Mike followed me to the farm in his van. As I drove into the yard, I noticed that the barn doors were closed, and all the pumpkins were gone. I felt like I missed an entire season. Dad's tractor was pulled up in front of the house, and he and my brother were taking a dinner (which to most people is lunch) break before going out and harvesting the rest of the root vegetables. Mike and I sat down at the kitchen table - I sat in the same place I have sat for 38 years, directly to the left of my Dad. My brother always sat next to me, to my left - but he was sitting at the end of the table today, so Mike took that seat. My mom has always sat across from me, to my Dads right, and when my sister lived at home, she always sat to the right of my mother. Unspoken seating arrangements, just another tradition that is upheld in the Hansen household that brings me back to feeling like I am 12 again.

We had a cup of tea, and two hydrox cookies. I don't even like hydrox cookies, but ate them because my father placed them in front of me. He wrote out a careful description of his advertisement he wanted me to post, and Mike and I said we would return later. We left Mikes van in the dooryard and rode together with the dogs to Bradbury Mt in Pownal.

Well, apparently everyone had the same idea, because the parking lot at Bradbury was so crowded we couldn't even find a parking space. The dogs were going mad with excitement, and we realized the walk would not be enjoyable for the humans with so many people, so many kids and so many dogs sharing the same trail system. Since we were close by, I suggested we go to Wolfes Neck State park instead. Agreed.

It's a beautiful ride out to Wolfes Neck. Rolling pastures, open fields, and colored trees painted the landscape. As I drove, I pointed out to Mike - "This was so and so's house" .. or "that's where (my ex's) Grandmother used to live..." and after rounding the next corner, a white pickup with lawn spraying equipment popped up over the hill, and almost as nonchalantly as I had been playing tour-guide I said "and there goes my ex".... Yup, must be on his way from our old house in Brunswick to his new place of residency which happens to be his girlfriends house, which happens to be one town over from where I live now. Well, they say you have to have thorns with your roses right? So why am I surprised that our beautiful autumn drive not have a few Weeds?

Once we got through Freeport, we were once again treated to farms and fields that are nestled along the shores of rocky coast. Cows were peacefully grazing next to pristine ocean views. Its really a gem of a place, and just driving there brought me back to the days where I would take a Sunday, much like today, pack up my beach chair, a floppy hat, a good book, and whistle to Destiny - "Load up pup! We are going to the beach!".... and we would spend the day walking the trails, sitting on the rocky coast line, wading, swimming and sunbathing. I would sit in my chair and read about other peoples adventures and Destiny would explore the beach and rocks and create her own.

Mike, Lexi, Derby and I spent a few hours at Wolfes Neck walking and exploring. It was a little stressful because there were so many people and dogs there, we had to keep Lexi and Derby on leash. We did manage to burn off some of their pent up energy by letting them off leash down by the water, where Mike threw rocks and sticks for them to chase. We walked out of the trail hand-in-hand, Mike feeling a little more relaxed after finally taking a day off... and I feeling a little reminiscent and grateful of being able to share a place with my new "family" that used to mean so much to me and Destiny.

On the way home, I decided to drive out the long way through Brunswick, and found myself driving past my old house. My ex rents the house out to his cousin, who is like a nephew to me. He and his girlfriend just had a baby, who I hadn't had a chance to see yet. As we drove by, I saw Jesse out in the driveway, and asked Mike if he minded if we turned in. Of course he didn't oppose.

The first thing I saw as I drove into the driveway of the home that was once mine for 12 years was Destiny's pen. She loved that pen. Often, I would leave the door open to the pen, and let her outside, just to find her later curled up in her dog house, or playing with her toys beside it. In a flash, I was transported back in time. The house hasn't changed, the porch is still falling apart - my ex obviously hasn't put much care into fixing it up. A thick carpet of green moss has taken over the garage roof, and the same smurfy blue paint was peeling off the siding of the house. Before I moved, I had scraped more than half the house of the sickly color, but because I didn't finish the job, my ex had to slap blue paint back on where I had scraped it off so he could refinance the house so he could pay me off my share.

Jesse greeted us in the driveway, and said "You just missed (my ex)"... Mike and I laughed saying we knew that.. we had passed him on the road earlier. Jesse invited us in. At first, I said no... but when he brought the baby outside, and I realized I was making a baby be cold because of my bad manners, I concluded it wouldnt hurt to come inside. Besides, Mike had never seen the house before. The house on the inside looked pretty much the same - minus my snowmen, my blue leather couch, the big screen TV (which undoubtedly the ex took to his girlfriends house) and all the other "homey" touches I had given it to make it my home.

I gave Mike the "nickel" tour. It was kind of neat to be able to show Mike the house I had tried explaining to him in stories... my old kitchen with the pearlesent white tile, the blue countertops with the snow white corrian edge. The stainless steel appliances, and what seemed like miles of countertop. The tall beechwood colored cabinets, and the "jack-frost etched" glass panes above the bar. The deep blue Berber carpeting and the icy blue walls in the living room that appeared deeper blue as the sun set, and white when the sun shined. My Uncle Willy painted the inside of the house for me... I would make him hamburgers for lunch. He thought I made the best hamburgers. All I did was add a bit of horseradish... but that was my secret.

Down the hall was my oatmeal colored bedroom, with the pine wood trim....There used to be moose and bear print curtains that matched a moose and bear print comforter. Then there was the swirly water colored tile in the bathroom with the deep emerald marble sink. I used to have the prettiest dragonfly shower curtain and rug that matched the photograph of a blue and green dragonfly I had taken. In July, the backyard would swarm with dozens of dragonflies... they would flit and float around everywhere. They would land on my shoulder as I sat on the porch reading a book, or they would land on Destiny's ear as she tried to nap in the sun beside me. I picked out every detail in that house. I created it all. I once made this place my home.

Jesse said he and his girlfriend were moving next month, and my ex is going to rent it out to someone else. While I am happy for Jesse (that house really isn't big enough to have a baby in it)... it felt weird knowing that a stranger will be living there. A stranger using my kitchen, a stranger opening up my french doors and swinging the side windows open to attract in the summer breeze... a stranger sitting on the porch in the spring watching the crab apple tree shower pink petals down in the breeze. A strange dog will sleep in Destinys dog house, and play in her pen.

A stranger will also be listening to the 18 wheelers rumble by on route one and the Amtrack train streaking by only a mere 30 feet from the garage. A stranger will also be the one bailing out the basement from 6 inches of water when the power goes out, and a stranger will be tripping over the loose boards on the porch. Actually, strike that.... a stranger will be calling my ex to fix all those things that are in dis-repair. Maybe a stranger will actually get him to do all that... because I never could.

I handed back the baby to his Momma... took one last look around - looked at the packed boxes, at the empty kitchen counters, at the bare walls and curtainless windows... and saw the house for what it really was - a memory.

After, MyHoney and I went to Bingas Wingas and had some out-of-this world hotwings and beer, and as the sunset on our day, we talked and laughed and created memories that are as warm in my heart as the sun was on our backs today.

Back at the farm, we talked with Mom and Dad a little more - Dad gave me careful instructions on exactly what he wanted the advertisement to say on Craigslist. I nodded, said yup yup yup, and my Mom just muttered "you know what to write... " and then to my father "Elwin she KNOWS what to write!" and then Mike and I agreed it was getting late, and the hour we had gained earlier in the day seemed to be more of a curse now than a blessing. My eyelids were heavy, my belly was full, and my mind was foggy. We left in separate vehicles - he to go to work, and I to go home.

I drove the long way home, through the back roads, past old friends houses, past a few other memories, past Sebago Lake, and pulled into my driveway. My little porch was illuminated by the porchlight, and I opened the door and Lexi bounded up the stairs. My apartment was still warm from the days sun, but I flipped on my heat register on the way by, knowing the heat will drop quick enough now that the sun has set. My kitchen greeted me with the smells of applewood bacon, maple syrup and coffee lingering from this mornings breakfast.

Kicked off my shoes, absent mindedly threw my keys on my counter, walked into my bedroom which is adorned in pine cones, moose, bear and chickadees, and pulled on my fleecy pajamas. I caught a glimpse of my fly-tying bench and an array of colorful feathers. Deciding to read for a while, I walked back into the living room and lit a few candles, admired the glow of the flickering flames and flopped onto my couch with a cup of tea. I looked around at my snowmen figurines, some in silly poses, some playing, some skiing, some dancing ... one even making a snow angel and smiled. I reclined back and watched the candle light dance off the pine board ceilings. Lexi hopped up, did a few circles and curled up with a satisfied sigh. I reached for my lap-throw and pulled it over my shoulders, warm and cozy. Lexi stretched out so her head was nestled on my lap, and I stroked her soft ears, and said out loud "Little Lexi... it's so good to be HOME."