Tuesday, July 29, 2008


The concept of surrendering is not something I take to very easily. It brings with it the baggage of giving up. of being defeated. With my strong will and pride, such a concept is antithetical and unacceptable. Yet I have heard that sometimes the best way to deal with a difficult situation is to surrender to it, allow it to take its due course and usually this will lead to a level of redemption. I never believed it, choosing instead to try and influence the outcome of a situation by extreme effort or sheer force of will. I never believed it, that is, until this week.

I am in the midst of a home improvement frenzy. My health and the weather are good and my husband is being financially cooperative. A new storage shed was on our list of home improvements. After some research my husband and I settled on one and he was to place the order. Here's where it gets sticky. He apparently had an unpleasant telephone experience with the sales associate and told me he would not do business with the company. I was disappointed because I was already making mental notes about how I would modify the shed to suit, what color I would paint it, etc. A part of me wanted to tell him to call back and place the order regardless of what happened on the phone but another part of me knew such a request would only make him dig his heels in harder. I decided the shed wasn't worth the hard feelings that would ensue so I let it go. I didn't like it but I surrendered myself to the fact that we would get a shed that I wasn't totally happy with. My husband decided to order another shed we were interested in, but when he called he was told delivery was five weeks. Besides that, the specifications were not to his liking. After all was said and done, he went back to the manufacturer of our preferred shed and order the model I wanted in the first place.

Another improvement project involves a memorial garden I've created to honor my ancestors. I saw a small monument resembling an ornate headstone in a catalog. It was inscribed with a lovely poem and included a carved angel on one side and I thought it would be perfect under the arbor, surrounded by flowers. I wanted to have it in place before the anniversary of my grandmother's death on August 17th but the delivery time was stated as four weeks. Oh well, I ordered it anyway, surrendering to the fact that it wouldn't arrive until after the anniversary date. Three days later, I found a UPS delivery attempt notice on my door. When the package arrived on the next delivery attempt, it was my monument. Instead of four weeks, it had arrived in three days!

I think I've got it now. Surrender is not an act of defeat but rather a supreme act of faith. It is based in a firm trust in the universe to bring you what is really important and necessary.

The power of surrender can be summed up like this: "If you love something, let it go. If it returns, it is yours forever. If it does not, it was never meant to be".

What can I say? It's working for me.

Ballo ergo sum,
Always and all ways,
- Gitana, the Creative Diva

Monday, July 28, 2008

Out with the old...

For some months now I have been busy with a number of home improvement projects. This is always a good thing. Nothing pleases me more than puttering around the house and putting things in order. The focus of this year's efforts has been the backyard, an area that has been slowly decaying from plain old age. The fence, which had actually rotted away in one corner, has been replaced through the efforts of my husband and son. Due to uncooperative weather, a two day project stretched out for four weeks but that's beside the point. I couldn't do any gardening until the fence was fixed so once that project was completed, I raked, weeded, uprooted and prepared to plant. In the process of clearing out the garden, I thought of my grandparents. I remembered my grandmother's death anniversary was approaching and decided to dedicate a corner of the garden as a memorial to her and other family members who have passed. I headed over to my local home center for some bedding plants and an arbor and created the beginnings of my memorial garden.

In the middle of all this, the backyard has been hosting the contents of our old steel shed. The shed had to be moved from its corner in order to replace the fence so everything inside had to be removed. Since the shed needed to be replaced, there was no sense in putting everything back again only to repeat the whole process once the new shed arrived. The replacement shed was installed last week but can not be populated until it is painted and moved into its final position. In the meantime my backyard is sporting old garden hoses, a camping porta-potty, rusty tool boxes, garden tools, snow shovels and all manner of detritus. In spite of the rag tag look of it all, I love the mess because it is a sign of change. Change is messy. Change is uncomfortable and change can be very inconvenient but it is a necessary part of renewal. Although my eyes see the mess every day, I focus on the image of the end result contained inside my head and look forward to the day my family and I can enjoy a meal in our beautifully finished backyard.

Yet another project will take place indoors. The wooden floor in my daughter's room, which has been hidden under vinyl flooring for the past 18 years, is going to be refinished for the first time since my husband and I bought the house. We delivered her to summer camp yesterday so she is out of the house during this project. As a bonus, I've been given a wonderful Moroccan rug with braided fringe by my sister and brother-in-law that I'm going to place on the newly refinished floor. She's been in this room since before kindergarten and this is the first major change being made in all these years. Of course, refinishing a floor means taking out all the furniture, then replacing it after the job is complete. Although the room is small, this is no small task. It's just one more thing on my list of Things To Do.

Eventually one of two things will happen. Either all the work will get done and I'll be able to enjoy the fruits of my labor or time will run out, the new school year will begin and the weather will become too cold for outdoor projects. Until then I will toil, a little each day, nibbling away at the massive amount of work that is yet to be done. An old joke asks, "How do you eat an elephant?". The answer..."One bite at a time".

Ballo ergo sum,
Always and all ways,
- Gitana, the Creative Diva

Monday, July 7, 2008

What I've learned at weddings

This past weekend I had the happy occasion to attend the wedding of the young man who was my former assistant. He is a brilliant, motivated, capable and dynamic young man and in spite of the generation gap between us we have become fast friends. I call him my "son from another mother" and I wouldn't have missed his wedding for the world. As always, when I attend a wedding, I think back to all the other weddings I have attended, most especially my own. A hundred thoughts race through my head when I hear the familar words declared by the officiate, "to have and to hold... better or worse ...sickness ...health", followed by the final pronouncement, "husband and wife".

I invariably choke up and fight back tears. In years past, they were tears of regret for the unhappiness I was experiencing in my own marriage. The thought of someone else walking into that tender trap was sorrowful to me. I fought back tears of sadness at the realization that all the promises and romance of early marriage lose their luster all too soon in the harsh environment of day-to-day reality. I struggled to keep up the appearance that all was reasonably well in my world, all the while feeling like a hypocrite for doing so.

This wedding was different. At this celebration, I relived the magic moments of my own wedding. At certain points during the ceremony my husband and I exchanged knowing glances and furtive smiles. Our children were seated between us as living testimony to our years together. It would seem that somewhere during the last few years, I began shedding the mantle of marital martyrdom and realized that the struggles, the disappointment, the arguments, the pain are all part and parcel of the covenant known as marriage. They are as much a part of it as are the joys, the laughter, the excitement, the "firsts' in our lives together. Apparently after all these years I have finally grown up. Aaah, so this is what it feels like.

So what have I learned at weddings? That life is a endless circle, just as signified by those bands of gold, and that if we're patient...very, very patient...things manage to come around again to a place of reconciliation and, in the best of scenarios, redemption. I've learned that no matter how dysfunctional a family is, there is magic, strength and love in those ties that bind, however warped they may appear to be. I've learned you're never too old to dream, to hope or to love.

And there's one more thing I learned. If you look, really look, into the faces of two people who truly love each other, you will find heaven.

Ballo ergo sum,
Always and all ways,
- Gitana, the Creative Diva