Month: August 2016

Moving Forward by Lucinda Sage-Midgorden

Moving Forward by Lucinda Sage-Midgorden

GOOD MORNING FRIENDS & VISITORS!

Welcome to Aging Abundantly’s Voices of Wisdom Series

Moving Forward
Barn owl at night by Kovács Anna Brigitta – Original watercolour

This series is about providing both the space and opportunity for women over fifty to tell their story and to share a bit of wisdom they gained in the process of living it.  If you would like to be a guest writer, please take a look at the Writer’s Guidelines and/or reach out to me via email.

Today’s guest, Lucinda Sage-Midgorden has been enthralled with the power of story since she was a child.  She grew up in a family who not only loved watching movies together but enjoyed discussing them. Another favorite family pastime was reading.

Lucinda’s interest in all things “story” led her to pursue first a B.A. and then an M.A. in theatre. She took those degrees and ran with them as a theatre artist, drama, and English teacher. In recent years, she has turned to writing her own stories. her first published book is a children’s story, Scottosaurus The Little Dinosaur originally written for  her six-year-old nephew Scott.  Her first full length novel, The Space Between Time, is to be published at the end of 2016.

You will find Lucinda’s weekly blog on her website Sage Woman Chronicles. She is also on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads and She Writes.  Thank you Lucinda for sharing your story with us today.


MOVING FORWARD

by Lucinda Sage-Midgorden

Moving Forward“I’ve never seen any life transformation that didn’t begin with the person in question

finally getting tired of their own bullshit.”

Elizabeth Gilbert

 

Sometimes I get stuck in a rut but not for long. I don’t know if it’s in my DNA, the fact that we moved a lot, or just my personality but eventually there comes a time when I just grit my teeth and make a change. I do this because it is much more comfortable to change than to stay stuck. The process is still scary because it requires me to do things I’ve never done before. Yet, years of experience have taught me that moving forward is preferable to the alternative. Let me give you some examples.

When I graduated from high school, I decided to work for a while until I had a better idea of what I wanted to do with my life. The first year I joined a Peace Corps kind of group sponsored by my church. For a year I worked as a volunteer teacher’s aide at Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary school in Portland, Oregon and assisted at family and youth camps teaching classes, leading campfires and the like. I learned so much about myself that year, and gain confidence, something I was desperate to find. Teaching was a blast. I loved the children and the classroom atmosphere and that set me on a lifelong path of teaching in a variety of settings.

At the age of 22 I finally enrolled in the college sponsored by the church in which I grew up. On one hand it was a fantastic experience, on another traumatic because I became a religious studies major, the only woman in the program. That caused a stir and some students tried to convince me that I needed to change my major. I’m so grateful I didn’t.

My sophomore year I found theatre and in my mind studying religious thought and theatre went hand-in-hand. Eventually, I added theatre and speech as a second major. Later I received an M.A. in theatre arts from Portland State University. Both have helped me understand human desires, motivations, frustrations, and triumphs.

After college my husband and I  moved out west and became deeply involved in a congregation. However, after a few years it became clear to us that what the church wanted of us and what we wanted were two different things. Both of us felt drawn to ever deeper spiritual growth. It was a tough decision, but eventually we left organized religion all together. Doing that was the best decision of my life because now my spiritual journey doesn’t have to fit into a doctrinal box.

Still, I’ve made plenty of mistakes on my way to where I am now. I followed false paths thinking they were leading to my life’s purpose. Though it was difficult to admit I’d been mistaken, I’m not sorry I took any of them. I no longer believe life is meant to be easy.

“If you’re making mistakes it means you’re out there doing something.” ~ Neil Gaiman[tweetthis]“If you’re making mistakes it means you’re out there doing something.” ~ Neil Gaiman [/tweetthis]

When I was younger I felt like I was odd, a misfit, because we moved so much. All those people I met who had lived in one place all their lives I thought were lucky because they made lifelong friendships that sustained them through all of life’s ups and downs. I thought they knew their purpose and were completely happy. But as I grew, I discovered that wasn’t always the case.

Finally when I turned 30 and was still struggling with my identity and purpose in life, someone suggested I read The Road Less Traveled by M. Scott Peck. The first sentence is: “Life is difficult.” When I read that, it was as if a huge weight had been lifted from my shoulders. I breathed a deep sigh of relief and knew that I could move forward making mistakes along the way and it would be alright.

And it has been, even during the darkest of times because all those twists and turns I took finally led me to becoming what I always wanted to be, but didn’t allow myself to pursue for all the usual reasons. Finally I’m proud to say, I’m a writer. In fact, I’m about to publish my first novel. It won’t be perfect, though I’ve worked extremely hard on it. But as Elizabeth Gilbert says in her book Big Magic “Done is better than good.” Finishing this novel and publishing it is so much better than having a file cabinet full of unpublished manuscripts because those thoughts and feelings on the pages might be just what someone else needs to help them put another piece into their life puzzle. Denying, or keeping our creativity hidden does nothing to change the world.

I don’t know if anyone will get anything of value out of my novel. That doesn’t matter because I’m already moving forward on the sequel and on a fantasy story, and my blog, and any other writing that attracts me. It seems to me that always moving forward no matter what happens is the true meaning of life.

Thanks for reading. Feel free to leave a comment or share with a friend.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2016


PREVIOUS GUEST POSTS

Harvest Wisdom by Joan Z Rough

A Dark Night Brings A New Dawn by Kathleen Pooler

The Value of Gratitude by Debbie Gies

WRITER’S GUIDELINES
HARVESTING WISDOM by Author Joan Rough

HARVESTING WISDOM by Author Joan Rough

I’m excited to introduce today’s Voices of Wisdom feature contributor Joan Z Rough.  I met Joan through her wonderful blog where she writes regularly about life and “harvesting wisdom”.  I was drawn to the honesty of her voice and our mutual struggle with PTSD. Her voice of wisdom is strong and growing stronger with each passing year. I can’t wait to read her memoir Scattering Ashes, A Memoir of Letting Go will be available September 20, 2016, already receiving great reviews.

Joan describes herself  as “a wife, mother, grandmother, writer, blogger, gardener, artist, healthy food nut, and someone who loves all creatures, especially dogs.” She’s addicted to books, good movies and most especially her grand-kids. There is so much more to Joan that what she does. I will let her tell you the rest of the story. 

 

HARVESTING WISDOM

by Joan Z Rough

Harvesting Wisdom

By three methods we may learn wisdom:

First, by reflection, which is noblest;

Second, by imitation, which is easiest;

and third by experience, which is the bitterest.”

Confucius

Pearls of wisdom are things we harvest like grapes. We crush them into small bits, allow them to ferment, remove the waste products, and set the rest aside, allowing the resulting liquid to age. By the time we are elders, what we have is a rich, vintage wine, heady with notes of contemplation, emulation, and awareness.

We begin harvesting wisdom the moment we are born. We learn about the world from the way it tastes, smells, looks, and feels.  By the time we’re two or three years old the feel of a wet diaper may begin to annoy us. We follow our parent’s example, and begin to pee in a toilet. If we hold it for too long because we’re having fun playing with our favorite toys, we wet ourselves, and are then made fun of by friends and/or siblings. We suddenly understand that in order to keep from being humiliated, we need to pay attention to the messages our body sends us so that we don’t have to suffer from insults.

I’ll be seventy-four in November and have been harvesting wisdom all of my life. However, you’d never know it based on my behavior through the years. As a child, I was willful and stubborn, yet filled with fear and shame. As an adolescent I became a practiced liar, sneaking about, disobeying, and avoiding my parents as best I could. During most of my adulthood, I carried the scars and the dysfunction that both of my parents bequeathed me; a life built of shame, anger, hate, blame, fear, and victim-hood.

“I believed there was something terribly wrong with me.”

I’ve been unhappy for a good part of my life. Periods of sheer joy and happiness were often washed away by unfathomable depression and torrents of fear and anxiety. I didn’t know why. I believed there was something terribly wrong with me. That I was broken. Damaged goods. Undeserving of anything more than what I already had.

It all came to a head when I became my mother’s caregiver during her last seven years of life. Except for her last six months, she lived with my husband and me. Mom held tight to her fear and denial of death while I tried my best to make life as pleasant as I could for her. When memories of her mistreatment of me as a child began seeping out of the hiding places I had tucked them away in, I grew to hate her and found myself more depressed and anxious than ever. It wasn’t until after her death, that I realized that something had to change in order for me to be happy. If I didn’t I’d go to my grave a sorry soul, hauling my past with me, like a trunk of old clothes that no longer fit.

My goal was to remake myself into a whole and happy human being and to let go of old memories that had almost destroyed me. I took time to examine where I had been and what I had done with my life. I was diagnosed with PTSD, and began seeing a therapist, whose specialty was trauma. She helped me understand that I had been an abused child. That the belief that I had a normal upbringing was a fairy tale, and that I could be whole and happy if I chose to be.

“The more I wrote, the more things came to the surface.”

Harvesting WisdomAfter unending months of digging through the past and trying to find medication that might help me over the panic and overwhelming feelings I carried with me, I began writing out what I knew. The more I wrote, the more things came to the surface. They were things I had hidden from myself because they were painful. Taking an excruciating look back through the years, I saw myself being beaten by my father, while screaming for my mother to stop him. I finally understood the basis for my contempt for her. She never stopped him.

Along with the unearthing of the past, I found acceptance for who I am. I discovered the words and experiences that can trigger negative reactions in me. I began navigating through my days more easily, choosing between what made me feel good and what brought on my anxiety. I questioned my parent’s lives when they were younger, and uncovered the massive extent to which my mother had been abused by her mother. I already knew that my father suffered from PTSD due to his experiences during World War II. But it wasn’t until I myself was diagnosed with the same disorder that I found compassion for him, as well as for my mother.

Regrets followed. I wanted to go back and make it all better. But equipped with tools and knowledge my parents never had, I was better prepared to realize that they had done the best they could. Though I knew I couldn’t change the past and could never forget their mistreatment of me, I let go of my victim-hood. I found love, forgiveness and a deep understanding of them, myself, and the human spirit.

When people hear my story, some comment on what a hard life I’ve had. But I always let them know that though it was tough at times, without the adversity I’ve lived with, I’d never have found myself and the peace I live with now.

It isn’t through sitting in the sun and smelling the roses that one learns and gathers wisdom. It’s through hard knocks, the fermentation and aging processes that we learn how to change ourselves and the world we live in. 

Here’s to the good life, both yours and mine!


Harvesting Wisdom

CONNECT WITH JOAN:

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SCATTERING ASHES, A Memoir of Letting Go
will be available wherever books are sold on September 20, 2016
and is now available for preorder on Amazon and Barnes & Noble

 

WHAT EARLY READERS ARE SAYING:

“A brave story, beautifully written in an authentic, raw voice that strikes a universal chord about mother-daughter relationships, breaking the cycle of childhood abuse, taking the responsibility for one’s own healing and finding forgiveness.” KATHLEEN POOLER, Author of Ever Faithful To His Lead: My Journey Away From Emotional Abuse

“In this well-wrought memoir, Joan Rough shows us the beauty of becoming the alchemist of one’s own life. What happens after she invites her elderly, narcissistic mother to move in to her home will often set your teeth on edge. The amazing ending, however, will leave you standing in awe at the power of love.” SHIRLEY HERSHEY SHOWALTER, author of Blush: A Mennonite Girl Meets a Glittering World

MORE ABOUT SCATTERING ASHES

STORIES OF COURAGE & SURVIVAL– ABUSE — Women of Wisdom Series™

STORIES OF COURAGE & SURVIVAL– ABUSE — Women of Wisdom Series™

abuse
Audubon Socity

As part of The Women of Wisdom Series™, I am introducing three memoirs, each addressing the issue of abuse. Though the stories are different, the message is in many ways the same.  Each memoir sheds light on the impact of abuse on us and provides lessons in survival. The women describe their journeys from a place of strength and courage, characteristics they undoubtedly honed through their difficulties.

These women are people just like you and I and what I love about memoirs. Thanks to modern technology, and the increase of Indy Publishing, we are able to see into the lives of everyday people  It’s so exciting  that women are stepping up, one by one, and sharing their stories. They benefit from the telling, we benefit from the listening.

We all can learn from an author with a compelling story to tell. It doesn’t matter whether or not the book is worthy of a literary award. What matters is what we take away. Memoirs by women over fifty to speak to the courage, fortitude, persistence and enduring love, characteristics that the women of our time, and our generation, exhibit every day . These stories give me courage. The author’s endurance gives me hope. Memoirs help us make sense of our own lives.

Women have suffered enormous wounding at the hands of those who had power over them. I count myself among the survivors and like most women who carry scars, we continue to learn a little more each day how to thrive. Like Kelly Clarkson reminds us, “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” … and I might add much, much wiser.

COMING NEXT WEDNESDAY: “Harvesting Wisdom” by author Joan Rough

[tweetthis]Throughout history women have been abused. It has not only made them stronger, but wiser.[/tweetthis]

 

abuseEVER FAITHFUL TO HIS LEAD:  My Journey Away from Emotional Abuse by Kathleen Pooler

Ever Faithful to His Lead: My Journey Away from Emotional Abuse is a compelling read written by a strong and courageous woman. Pooler’s story drew me in from page one and held my attention to the end.  She paints a clear  picture of her life as a victim and the inherent quagmire of confusion, denial, hope, despair, anger, self-recrimination, and blame that naturally ensues.  Pooler never wallows in the angst of it all, rather draws her readers into her quest for understanding, truth and freedom from victim-hood.

Women who came of age in the fifties and sixties were taught to be obedient, faithful, caring, helpmates to their spouse – we were taught to be “ever faithful to his lead”. We also were growing day by day in self-awareness and learning to value ourselves as intelligent, creative, capable people.

Breaking free of abusive relationships became, during our generation, more possible and doable than ever before. Kathy Pooler is one such woman and tells her story, in a clear and steady style that co-mingles her challenges with her emerging understanding.

Pooler just touches on the role her roots of faith played in her emancipation.  I’m sure she will have much more to say about this in her next memoir, now in progress.

Connect with Kathleen Pooler.

 

abuse GHOST NO MORE: A True Story of Child Abuse and Rescue by Cee Cee James

Cee Cee James tells a heartbreaking story without a trace of self-pity. The account of her life as a child in a home without love will rock your world and renew your faith in the power of the human spirit to survive.

A little girl, desperate for her mother’s love, Cee Cee James brings us into the day-to-day world of the child victimized by a parent. We experience the workings of the child’s mind struggling to survive emotional and physical abuse.  James reveals through the lens of her story the sad truth that children will suffer enormous abuse at the hands of a parent and still strive to win acceptance, approval and most of all love – even when it is never, ever forthcoming.  It broke my heart to see this little girl take the tiniest hope and run with it, only to see it dashed against the rocks of a woman’s inability to love her child.

As difficult as this book was to read, I could not put it down. The life force in this little girl was so strong and fierce and carried me forward to the end.

MORE BOOKS BY CEE CEE JAMES

 

 

 

 

abuseCONFLICTED HEARTS: A Daughter’s Quest for Solace from Emotional Guilt by D.G. Kaye

A girl’s relationship with her mother lasts a lifetime, but it is often not until we reach midlife that the complexity of a difficult connection comes into focus. What we come to believe about ourselves as adults through our interactions with our mother’s as children, is often not an accurate reflection of who we really are. This conflict, this inner disparity, either drives us toward disintegration or the truth.

D.G. Kaye took on this battle. In her book, Conflicted Hearts, she shares her story as she struggles to come to terms with her challenging and complex relationship with a mother she both loved and despised. It is a journey that all of us can relate to in one way or another. Kaye writes with honesty, candor, humor and courage as she peels back the layers and gains understanding and perspective. In the end we not only learn about the author, we learn about ourselves and may even come to see our own mother/daughter relationship a more clearly.

Sit down with a cup of coffee or tea, and enjoy this journey into one woman’s world. When you put down the book, you will feel as though you’ve gained a friend.

Connect with D.G. Kaye

 

 

 

 

If you would like to be a contributor to The Voices of Wisdom Series, please check out the

Writer’s Guidelines. 

More Posts of Interest

You Are Not Broken

Mask of Perception – When Things Are Not As They Seem

365 Day Journey of Gratitude – A Milestone Birthday

365 Day Journey of Gratitude – A Milestone Birthday

 

Sooner or later we all discover that the important moments in life are not the advertised ones, not the birthdays, the graduations, the weddings, not the great goals achieved. The real milestones are less prepossessing. They come to the door of memory unannounced, stray dogs that amble in, sniff around a bit and simply never leave. Our lives are measured by these.”
Susan B. Anthony

People tell me that my 65th birthday (yesterday) was a milestone. Historically speaking, it represented “retirement”. For many, this is still a milestone. But for me,  there has not been, in decades, a separation between work and life. Life is something I wouldn’t leave. Work, in the old-fashioned sense,  is something I try not to do!

I started to think what a milestone really represents. By definition is a stone placed as a mile marker. Since we don’t do that anymore, that I’m aware of, the metaphor has taken hold as the meaning: “A significant event or stage in the life, progress, development, or the like of a person, nation, etc.” We so naturally  think in metaphors!  It is one of our many gifts as humans for which I am grateful.

milestone

Milestone markers like the one in this picture are called “cairns”.  Read more on Tuesdays with Laurie in her post “Rock On”

In terms of my own personal milestones, I measure my progress by the depth of my love. When I’m open and honest and true, I feel like I’m on the right road. When I’m angry, resentful or irritable, I know it’s time to take a closer look at what’s going on inside of me, and/or in my life. My only goal in life is to be more fully present in love in any situation I find myself.  As for the world and what represents “milestones” to it, we run into a problem.

The problem is this. There are no rituals or  traditions in place to celebrate the important passages in our culture — those that honor the progress and stages of a woman’s life., for instance.  Crossing into the world of the empty nester was a milestone in my life.  Menopause was a milestone. Recovering from trauma was a milestone. These things I would have enjoyed celebrating. But turning 65? Not very important in the overall scheme of things for me.

[tweetthis]Will you join the challenge? A gratitude a day for 365 days – If I can do it, so can you! [/tweetthis]

However, I have decided to challenge myself this year to post a gratitude every day for 365 days. That would be an accomplishment! That would be an effort that might bring about a change in my life worth creating. I could always use a little more positive thinking! Ask my husband!

WILL YOU JOIN ME?

If you would like to join me, I will be endeavoring to achieve this milestone on my personal website, DorothySander.com. I explain the reason why I’m doing it there instead of here.

65 THINGS I’M GRATEFUL FOR ON MY 65TH BIRTHDAY

65 THINGS I’M GRATEFUL FOR On My 65th Birthday

65 THINGS I’M GRATEFUL FOR On My 65th Birthday

GratitudeToday I begin a journey into a new year — a year that I trust will be filled with its fair share of adventure, love, challenges and opportunities for growth and expanded awareness. As I begin this new chapter of my life I want to share with you this list of gratitudes that I felt compelled to write today. I hope you will honor your life with a list of your own.

Life doesn’t end as we get older. In fact I find it becomes far richer, and more packed with meaning and purpose with each passing year. For me, aging abundantly includes the acknowledgment of and expression of gratitude for all that we have and all that we are.

Today, on my 65th birthday, I feel inordinately blessed and deeply grateful . . .

  1. For 65 years of living and loving,
  2. A loving, caring, kind, compassionate husband,
  3. 34 years of mutual commitment to “working it out”
  4. For the gift of motherhood and universal mother lovegratitude
  5. For two sons who make me proud every day
  6. For the gifts and strengths that they were given at birth
  7. For my health and the health of my family
  8. For my beautiful new daughter-in-law and the love she has brought into our family
  9. The kindness of strangers and their willingness to make the world a better place
  10. For green grass and sunshine
  11. The ocean – sand and surf
  12. Sandpipers, seagulls and starfish
  13. The wind in my hair and the sand between my toes
  14. For puffy white clouds over vast stretches of earth
  15. And mountains that reach out to me and lift my eyes toward heaven
  16. For sunrises that remind me that every day is a new beginning
  17. And sunsets that remind me that it’s good to rest, to sink low in the earth and into oneself
  18. For music – music that lifts my spirits, music that touches my heart, music that stirs the unknown within me and draws me toward what is beyond
  19. For fresh fruit in summer, veggies straight from the earth, and the smell of baking bread
  20. For rain that refreshes the earth
  21. The feel of raindrops on my face that remind me that I am a part of the renewal processgratitude
  22. The feel of my body when it moves, it’s strength, it’s rhythm, it’s ability to carry me up a hill or down a ski slope
  23. For deep, restorative massage, the power of energy to heal
  24. The heat of a sauna that relaxes my body
  25. The wisdom of teachers and their willingness to share all that they have learned
  26. For springtime in North Carolina
  27. And the scent of honeysuckle, magnolias and wisteria
  28. The softness and beauty of a rose
  29. For gardenia blossoms, Iris, day lilies, hydrangea and all that blossoms and grows
  30. For Long walks in the woods, and woodland creatures
  31. For birds whose songs that fill the great outdoorswood thrush
  32. and the beautiful little creatures that provide the music; the thrush, cardinal, goldfinch, and chickadee;
  33. a special gratitude for the little Carolina Wren whose gigantic sound reminds me that big things come in small packages!
  34. For my senses, that life without them would be so flat
  35. For birthday crepes, Christmas Eggs Benedict, and a husband that cooks circles around even the best Chefs.
  36. For a sister who delights me with her caring, giving, enthusiastic nature and doesn’t hesitate to remind me that I am loved, even if I am her “little sister”
  37. For a sister who links me to my roots and inspires me to step beyond what is
  38. For a brother who tempers my creative exuberance with stability, order and reason
  39. For a brother who always makes me laugh and has taught me to see the fun in life
  40. For friends who willingly provide perspective and understanding; support, encouragement and unconditional love
  41. For the innocence of children … and the love the call forth from all of humanity
  42. For technology that allows me to stay connected to my loved ones, near or far, night or day, and see their faces, their live energy in real-time,
  43. For the tools that make it easier than ever to put words on a page and freed the writer within me
  44. For avenues of connection that have allowed me to create bonds with wise and loving women from one end of the earth to the other
  45. For a home that keeps me warm in winter and cool in summer;
  46. For life’s challenges and the opportunities they provided to forge strength, resilience and wisdom
  47. For puppy dogs and kittens and the companionship they provide
  48. For laughter and the ability to see the humor in difficult situations
  49. For trees … tall and broad, strong and tender … for pines, and birches and aspens … for maples, oaks, sycamore and tulip trees.gratitude
  50. For pine needles that make soften and quiet the forest and unleash a child’s imagination
  51. For fall leaves and their gift of color
  52. For the first winter snow
  53. Icicles , maple syrup, ice for skating, snowmen and snow ice cream
  54. For Broadway shows, Lincoln Center, off-Broadway, and off-off-Broadway
  55. For the gifts of actors, singers, orchestras and performers of all kinds
  56. For beautiful and creative arts and crafts and all who express their souls in such a way
  57. For writers who seek the truth and those who enrich our lives through story
  58. For the beauty and majesty of the earth itself and all its riches
  59. For a benevolent universe and the belief that good will always prevail
  60. For love and friendship
  61. For hope and charity
  62. For kindness and generosity
  63. For understanding and compassion
  64. For learning and understanding
  65. And for being a part of all that is.

© Dorothy Sander August 14, 2016

 

A DARK NIGHT BRINGS A NEW DAWN – Guest Post by Author Kathleen Pooler

A DARK NIGHT BRINGS A NEW DAWN – Guest Post by Author Kathleen Pooler

The Voices of Wisdom Series continues …

NOTE: Ten days ago Kathy had a fall and broke her wrist. She is in a cast and one-handed typing is slow. She greatly appreciates your comments but will not be able to respond at this time. Her recent post tells the story as well as memoir writing highlights from the International Women’s Writing Guild Summer Conference. READ MORE

We’re wishing you a speedy recovery Kathy!

 

How My Dark Night of the Soul Led Me to a Deeper Faith

by Kathleen Pooler

 

You necessarily have to be lost, before you’re found.”  

~ T. Scott McLeod, All That Is Unspoken

 

The “dark night of the soul “ is a term that originated with the writings of Saint John of the Cross in the 6th century. He refers to it as a journey in which “darkness represents the fact that the destination, God, is unknowable and the path is unknowable”.  He postulates that ”the mind and body with their cares have been stilled” and “the only light in this dark night is that which burns in the soul. And that is a guide more certain than the mid-day sun. This light leads the soul engaged in the mystic journey to divine union.”

We’ve all had moments, often triggered by external events, when nothing makes sense anymore. Life as we know it changes forever in a moment.

My “dark night of the soul” came to me through a series of events over a twenty-five year period that rendered me lost and despairing—single parenting after two divorces Voices of Wisdomfrom abusive marriages, a simultaneous battle of a cancer diagnosis and a teenaged son who spiraled into substance abuse.  Everything I had thought would or should happen in my life collapsed around me.

For me, my “dark night of the soul” led me to a deeper faith.

As a “cradle Catholic, I was born into and brought up with the traditions and ceremonies of the Roman Catholic faith. I have, by conscious choice and deepening desire, remained true to these beliefs and teachings, except for a brief period in my twenties when I questioned and even rejected them.

My faith did not deepen until I had to face several life-altering, as well as, life-threatening events. It was then that my religion became my faith and my spirituality, the source of comfort and meaning in my life. Gradually.

This excerpt from my memoir, Ever Faithful to His Lead: My Journey Away From Emotional Abuse ddescribes how the memory of  Great-Grandmother Rose Ranze, guided me through a dark night as I waited, pregnant and lonely, at the bay window for my husband. I stood wondering what condition he would be in after a night of drinking:

Sitting by the Bay Window, 1973 

My slow, rhythmic breaths echoed through the quiet darkness and steadied the anxiety bubbling up from the pit of my stomach, colliding with my view of what I wanted and needed. My thoughts drifted to my great-grandmother. 

Great Grandma Ranze, Mom’s grandmother, had been pregnant with her ninth child when her husband died at the age of thirty-three. Surely I can get through this. The memory of watching Grandma Ranze praying the rosary when I was eight-years-old warmed me as I sat at the bay window on that cold night. 

Wrapped in a pink-knitted shawl, her long white hair pulled back into a neat bun, she had prayed with such fervor I was afraid to disturb her trance. As I walked beside her bed, she opened her eyes and smiled, reaching out to hold my hand. With rosary beads dangling, she continued to murmur her prayers in a soft, soothing drone. 

“Katerina come-a-here,” she motioned while making the sign of the cross after kissing the tiny silver crucifix on the rosary beads. 

As I sat on the edge of her bed, she pulled me close, the rosary beads woven around her worn, wrinkled fingers and kissed my forehead. The rosary beads tickled the back of my neck as I melted into her embrace. 

“God-a–bless, God-a –bless,” she said. The musty scent of an old person lingered as she gently rubbed my back. Her soft, tiny hands felt smooth, like a plush leather glove. 

I felt her gaze on me now and wondered if she were here what would she say to me as I sat lonely and anxious by the window. I grabbed my rosary beads and started praying. It made me feel close to her.

***

This scenario is just one of many over the twenty-five year period of my “dark night of the soul”.  Faith is a gift given to me and nurtured in my childhood by Grandma Ranze. The visions of that tiny woman with her unwavering faith came to me in whispers and glimpses throughout my life as I faced my own challenges. She is still with me when I say my daily prayers.

“My faith became my anchor that brought me back to myself.”

God wasn’t lounging at a pool, watching a mountain sunrise or dreaming by a babbling brook. Nor was He locked up in the Tabernacle on the altar in church.  He was on the battlefield with me, guiding me back into the light.

dark nightAllowing myself to be vulnerable enabled me to accept God’s love, grace and healing. I believe He sent me many angels in the form of family, friends and caregivers on my healing journey.

Simultaneous to the cancer journey was my young son’s spiral downward into alcoholism. The cancer was easier to deal with than watching my son’s descent. At least I had options for cancer treatment and felt some control. I had no control over my son’s addiction. So I prayed and leaned on my faith in God. I learned to hand my son over to God and let go of my need for control. And I never, ever gave up hope that God would heal me and my son.

The words of Grandma Rose echoed in my ears, “God will provide” and He did. That is the miracle of faith.

Having walked through these challenges—two abusive marriages, a life-threatening illness, and terror of loving and letting go of any addicted son has forced me to dig deeper to find the treasures of my faith within.

But now that I am on the other side of these challenges, I see God everyday in the people I love, nature, all the little things in life that matter.

My journey through the “dark night of the soul” has given me the gift of perspective about what really counts in life. It is through a deepening faith that I have seen the light.


Voices of WisdomabuseKathleen Pooler is an author and a retired Family Nurse Practitioner whose memoir, Ever Faithful to His Lead: My Journey Away From Emotional Abuse, published on July 28, 2014 and work-in-progress sequel, The Edge of Hope (working title) are about how the power of hope through her faith in God helped her to transform, heal and transcend life’s obstacles and disappointments:  domestic abuse, divorce, single parenting, loving and letting go of an alcoholic son, cancer and heart failure to live a life of joy and contentment. She believes that hope matters and that we are all strengthened and enlightened when we share our stories. She lives with her husband Wayne in eastern New York.

CONNECT WITH KATHLEEN:

Read her weekly blogs at her Memoir Writer’s Journey blog.

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KATHLEEN’S SHORT STORIES:

“The Stone on the Shore” is published in the anthology: “The Woman I’ve Become: 37 Women Share Their Journeys From Toxic Relationships to Self-Empowerment” by Pat LaPointe, 2012.

“Choices and Chances” is published in the  “My Gutsy Story Anthology” by Sonia Marsh, September, 2013.


If you would like to be a contributor to The Voices of Wisdom Series, please contact Dorothy via email: DSander@AgingAbundantly.com 

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