Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Southern Cross

I grew up on the Northwest Side of Chicago. The farthest south I was aware of until I was about 14 years old was Grand Avenue and that was “way far south, almost downtown!” There might as well have been a void south of downtown; somewhere I would never dream of venturing.
I was a Girl Scout early on. I transferred to a new school in the 4th grade and scouting was something that was offered at our parish. I loved our campouts; we would sell boxes and boxes of cookies so that I could go. As I got older, I sold the cookies so that I could go to residence camp in Wisconsin for 2-3 weeks during the summer. I applied for the “counselor in training” program at Camp Juniper Knoll the summer I turned 15. 4 weeks of life at camp, plus counselor privileges. This way, when I went away to college and needed a summer job, I could work at camp all summer. Excellent!
My neighborhood friends weren’t interested in going, but I was going anyway. There I was, dropped off on a Sunday afternoon in June, in the Adler Planetarium parking lot, to catch the bus to Elkhorn, WI. Whoopee, this was going to be a great summer! One of my favorite counselors was coming back and she was on our bus! She could play a mean guitar at our campfires and I loved the singing. Little did I know that her younger sister was on the bus that day too and that she would become one of my best friends.
Those of you, who know me, know I’m not afraid to talk to anyone, about anything. I struck up a conversation with my new friend during that bus ride. She was a little shy at first, but had a wicked sense of humor. I’m certain at the time she was being forced to go to camp with her sister. At the very least I am thinking that while going to camp sounded like a great idea at first, it was not so much when it was actually happening.
We had a blast during the time we were together at camp. One of the interesting things was that she lived in Alsip. Alsip? Where the heck was Alsip? So far south, I was sure it was another state. Me, I lived on the North Side. The scary North Side where people from the South Side rarely ventured. We weren’t even sure our parents would let us out to see each other. What were two new besties to do?
Talk on the phone. We called each other often and had lengthy conversations. We did travel to see each other; she was able to drive to pick me up at the train station. I think that first year we did that once or twice. We couldn’t wait until the next summer to go back to camp, freedom and escape from our boring, restricted lives at home. I remember talking to her on the phone the night before we were leaving for camp that next summer. I couldn’t wait to see her again.
We had a ball that second summer; we stuck together. Transportation after we got home wasn’t so problematic; she drove, I had friends who drove, our lives meshed, friends intermingled. The great divide between the North and South sides didn’t seem so far anymore. When there was a will, there was a way.  I especially remember a couple of near death rides on the Dan Ryan in their yellow VW.
As the next few years went by we had so much fun. We got into a lot of trouble, but man, we had a ball. We spent time going to “The Point” down by the lake, hanging out with the neighborhood guys who had a fondness for somewhat fluffy girls, nursing our youthful hangovers at the beach, at the rocks the next day. Me and the South Side sisters, we had us a blast! I’m certain our parents braced themselves for my visits there or their visits here; never a dull moment. We fell in like and love with boys from each side of the tracks. We were girls just wanting to have fun. We had jobs, we had friends, we had a little money, we had a lot of nerve and we had each other.
We started to grow up. She went off to college after all; I got married and had a baby. Our lives started going in different directions, but we still kept in touch. More and more distance came between our phone calls and while we didn’t give up completely, years had gone by since we had seen each other. When we got to our late 20s and early 30s we reconnected a little more. She got married, started having kids, still living on the South Side; we visited a little more often. I think our friends and family were surprised at our sustainability.
We talked on the phone, catching up as often as we could. She had 4 boys, I had my son; we were working, managing the household, trying to calm our whirring brains. After talking on the phone for while we would both say that we would call more often, but really, who had the time?
We both had life changing events; I would go as far as to say that she had more than her share of life changing events. Things that scare the bejeezus out of you and you hope you can get past it with a little sanity. We talked to each other on the phone, cried, yelled, listened, consoled, counseled and laughed, especially laughed, about everything that we could. I started writing my blog. She would call after reading my post like she was reading my mind, she still does.
I just had lunch with her the other day. Her sister came along for the visit. We met about half way, but I have no fear making the cross to the South Side anymore. We talked for about 3-1/2 hours and we could have sat there longer and never run out of things to say. We are beautiful women who are starting to decide that maybe our time has come. Perhaps it’s time to take better care of ourselves and our psyche because it had been put on the back burner. Our visit was like sitting under a warm blanket, easy and comfortable. I promised myself that I would make time to spend time. Her strength and intelligence fuels mine and I’ll be forever grateful.
This blog posting is dedicated to you, my friend. My love is an anchor tied to you with a silver chain; long, unbreakable, but a little tarnished from years of wear. Here’s to our growing together on this lifelong journey. With love…

Friday, February 15, 2013


I Kicked The Habit. The habit of always seeing things in the "dark." The self-pity wallowing that could have taken over my entire life. There are days where I will have a really good, 10 minute, ugly, sniffling, snuffling sob fest. I get it over with and move on as best I can. Today, I am angry. I am angry at the pain and suffering that good people have to go through. I am angry at different diseases like heart disease, Hashimoto's disease, neuromuscular diseases and the big daddy of them all, cancer. I wish I could take care of everyone, but I can't. That's another habit I have to kick. Not so easy. I will get over this anger, I will. But today, just for a little while, I'm going to be angry, especially at cancer and its effect on those that I care about.

I Shed My Skin. I am who I am. I am beautiful inside and out. We all are. There are some of us who have ugly in them and I feel bad for those folks. I am hoping that it doesn't take a tragedy or a serious downfall for them to learn the lessons of faith and beauty in your fellow man or woman, whatever the case may be. It's really what's inside that counts. If there are those who still judge a book by its cover, they are probably very lonely and small on the inside. Here's hoping for their growth.

This Is The New Stuff. There are those that I have known for a long time that are probably skeptical of the changes I am making. They actually ridicule my writing and talk of love, or don't bother to read at all. I believe it's fear of change; too bad for them. I love different people for different reasons. They feed a number of needs inside of me. There are relationships that I am having to back away from, which makes me sad. But how many times can your feelings get hurt because people are too busy or don't have time to contact you or can't keep up with everything - but only when it comes to their relationship with you? Quantity doesn't always equal quality. Just because you have had someone in your life for most of it, doesn't mean they get continue to be a part of it if they hurt you. Especially when there are those who want to spend time with me and understand the life I am embracing.

I'm Gonna Build That Power. The power of positive thinking. The power of life with more optimism. The power of a healthier, prosperous future. The power of waking up each day. It's better to build on that power than to worry about what I can't control.

I Go Dancing In. Into my future, where I am surrounded by friendship and love that's overflowing. Where bad things happen to good people and they survive. Where communication is important to help us grow and learn. Into a life that I am building on a solid foundation. There is a light at the end of this long, dark tunnel that I have traveled through. It's bright and beautiful, and there to remind me that I have a gift of this life. I'm going to live it to the fullest. With love...

Friday, February 1, 2013

I've Got This Friend

I've got this friend. She's hardworking, loyal and dependable. She has a big heart and is very giving. She takes on the problems of the world in stride, with only minor mishaps at times. She loves to talk and listen too. She'll hold your hand, give you a hug or slap you upside the head, separately or all at the same time, if necessary. She is living her life the best that she can.

I've got this friend. She's scared of the world. She puts on a brave face, she swears a lot, demands a lot of attention, says things for shock value that can be off-puting instead of relaxing in a social situation. She doesn't keep or sustain many relationships, seemingly only the ones she might need in the future. She demands loyalty, but offers none. She's looking for something in all the wrong places. She is living her life the best that she can.

I've got this friend. He's a loner. He's not very social, but very smart. He has spent a lot of time and thought on regrets. He starting to realize that alone means lonely. He's coming out into the world and releasing the fear that had him hiding in a shell. He's funny, talented and worth more to others than he realizes. He is living his life the best that he can.

I've got this friend. She's scrappy. She takes up the causes of those who can't speak or fight for themselves. She is a toughie with a marshmallow center. She says that she does just fine on her own. She can be either your biggest champion or your worst enemy. She cuts people out before she realizes that she might really need them, or how much they need her. She will help you in your time of need, like burying the body of someone who hurts you. She is living her life the best that she can.

I've got this friend. He's a working man. He just wants to get up and go to work every day. His world around him has been crumbling for a while and he's starting to pay attention, hoping it's not too late. He doesn't make many friends and he really doesn't mind that. He isn't sure how to take care of things on his own. Communication is difficult for him, but he tries. He is learning the hard way to stand on his own two feet. He is living his life the best that he can.

I've got this friend. She hates change. Whether it's in her life or the lives of those around her, it makes her skittish. She is extremely intelligent, social and loves those in her life fiercely. New friendships are frightening and don't interest her at all. Old friendships are loving, sustained and comfortable. You can speak your mind and hear hers too, without any repercussion. She has an old soul. There's been some shakeups recently but she is trying to roll through the changes with grace and strength. She is living her life the best that she can.

Just so you know, I'm certain I will have friends reading my blog who will try to figure out which friend THEY are. These friends I am referring to are truthfully no one in particular, but a composite of those in my life whom I love.

The point of this entry is that we all are living our lives the best we can. Whether there are good things or bad things going on in your life right now, it's helpful to know that you have a variety of friends with strengths and attributes that can help you on your journey. With love...