Tuesday, April 23, 2024

April 23--All Over the Place

Peace comes from within. Do not seek it without.  --Buddha

And today's Notes from the Universe by Mike Dooley:

Adversity, challenges, and bumps in the road, Leta, are often the first signs that a great healing has begun.

Thinking of you,
The Universe

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    I'm safely back home in the Land of Oz. I am not at peace. Just when I felt like I was making progress on my lengthy depression, I feel like I'm back at square one. I miss my brother something awful, and I was hoping to have more time with him. (Though I am happy that he is at peace.) I don't feel like doing anything, and I have a lot on my schedule. When I am feeling so overwhelmed like this, I know I need to focus on the single, one, only next thing in front of me, not the whole to-do list. If this is all leading into "a great healing," I'll take it!
    Knowing humor helps me, I offer this comically sad commentary on the dumbing-down of America: the apparent need for instructions on the toothpaste tube:

"FOR BEST RESULTS, SQUEEZE TUBE FROM 
THE BOTTOM AND FLATTEN AS YOU GO UP."
    Are there instructions on packages of toilet paper!?!?!!! 
    Stick a fork in me, 
        Leta

Monday, April 22, 2024

April 22--The Memorial and the Aftermath

If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.   --Mother Teresa

    Being around friends and family for a memorial service is a great reminder that we belong to each other. Even if we don't see each other all that often, there is loads of history and love there connecting us. 
    My brother's memorial started with a three-shot military salute (which is considered "21-gun"), and the presentation of the U.S. flag to Arlie's eldest son. Arlie's three kids offered me the flag, an overwhelming gesture of love, but I wanted it to go to someone who will likely be around longer than me. It is tradition to give it to the eldest son. Then they played Taps, which completely did me in. 
    My niece had a bunch of us in the family write a couple sentences about fond memories of Arlie, and his grandson Nick held it together enough to read them during the memorial. The minister spoke briefly (that's a good thing). I would guess that between the visitation time and the service that nearly 100 folks passed through. I'd bet that nearly half those who showed up were Arlie's AA buddies. It was a fitting celebration, even though it barely touched on Arlie's amazing life. 
    So now it has hit me... since I'm the last one living from my family of birth, I'm the next one to pass. I am fully aware that this is logically a big "DUH!" But for someone who is having a hard time with aging, especially having just witnessed my brother's dreadful decline, this idea is quite troubling. 
    Arlie has always been the main reason I went back east to visit. He was my bro that I love and wanted to always stay in touch with. We talked often. Will I still feel the same draw back east? Certainly my niece (Arlie's daughter) and I are very close, and we will continue to meet up for fun. I must remember the quote above: we belong to each other.
    I'm just feeling very melancholy right now. Getting back home (final leg today) will help. 
    The processing shall continue...
        Leta


    In honor of Earth Day, I offer this Native American proverb:
Treat the Earth well: It was not given to you by your parents, it was loaned to you by your children. We do not inherit the Earth from our ancestors. We borrow it from our children. 

Sunday, April 21, 2024

April 21--On the Move

Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day.  --Ralph Waldo Emerson

    This is a great quote for the day after the memorial service for my brother. We are up early to get on the road home. I'll write about the service and celebration later. 
    We had clear weather and an easy trip today to Wentzville, where we are staying with my husband's parents. It was quite nice to split the nearly 600-mile drive with my husband. I listened to the Cubs game, one of my favorite things to do, but alas, they lost. 
    So much drive time leaves one open to considerable contemplation. I'm beginning to realize that Arlie's passing has way more ramifications for me than I could have imagined. That's tomorrow's topic. 
    Thanks for being patient with me.
        Leta

Saturday, April 20, 2024

April 20--Joyful Reunion

It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.  --Ursula K. LeGuin

    The family is reunited in Ohio, at least part of it--Arlie and Sue's descendants, and several others on Sue's side, plus my husband and me ("Queen of the Miller Clan"). Though our reason for being together is the sorrow of losing Arlie, the reunion has been quite joyous. There is ongoing laughter, dog romping, photo-sharing, and reminiscing. As expected with this group, a card game capped off the evening. 
    Arlie had a glorious life journey and today we celebrate that. 
    More tears and laughter forthcoming,
        Leta

Sue and Arlie at the beach ❤

Friday, April 19, 2024

April 19--The Silence of the Heart(Ache)

The only place the mind will ever find peace is inside the silence of the heart. That's where you need to go.  --Elizabeth Gilbert

    Whether I wanted to or not, I have spent much time this past week in the silence of my heart(ache). I know my brother is in glorious bliss and peace, and I'm trying to hold that feeling, but alas, sadness takes over sometimes. Just like with my mom and dad, I'll pick up the phone and call Arlie before I realize that current technology won't do the job anymore. 
    Today we will arrive in Ohio for Arlie's memorial service on Saturday. My niece's tennis group is funding supper for the crew from a nearby Chipotle restaurant. What a kind, wonderful and supportive idea! I have brought along a man-size handkerchief for the service, and I have no doubt that I will soak it. I am grateful that no one asked me to speak, because I wouldn't get two words out before completely losing it. 
    It is a much-easier drive to Ohio with two drivers and a happy pup.
        Leta

Barney would like to drive...

Thursday, April 18, 2024

April 18--Releasing the Resentments

Those who are free of resentful thoughts surely find peace.  --Buddha

    I am eternally grateful to the 12-Step programs for bringing the awareness of resentment to my consciousness. Being free of resentful thoughts is an ongoing practice for me. 
    Resentment and blaming (R&B) go hand-in-hand, and I feel like I have been indulging in too much of those behaviors recently. They hand our power away to whomever we are resenting or blaming. It's letting those folks "live in our heads rent free." That only exacerbates the R&B cycle. 
    I had an experience yesterday wherein an older woman had brought her mother to the dentist where I was having a filling done. The mother was apparently nearly deaf, because the daughter and hygienist kept yelling at her. This is a repeat of the behavior that was ongoing with my brother, who was hit-and-miss about wearing his hearing aids. If you have hearing loss, DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT! It is exhausting and unfair for those around you to have to yell because of your hearing deficiencies. 
    OK, I'm stepping down off my soapbox.
        Leta

Wednesday, April 17, 2024

April 17--How About Both?

Either peace or happiness, let it enfold you.  --Charles Bukowski

    Grief, losing a close family member, most definitely messes with one's peace or happiness. I can't say that I'm peaceful. I'm distracted, and there's a level of stress involved with that, as my usual ability to multi-task is currently failing me. I can't label myself as happy, though unhappy doesn't really apply. My brother has infinite peace and happiness now, and that is worthy of celebration. 
    Soon I will be attending Arlie's memorial service. There will be loads of family and friends there, some of whom I haven't seen in a while. Despite the tears, the whole shebang is based in love for this wonderful man. May I remember to let both peace and happiness enfold me and all who join me. 
        Leta

From last October's trip to England

Tuesday, April 16, 2024

April 16--Love Works Better

Least effort is expended when our actions are motivated by love, because nature is held together by the energy of love.  --Deepak Chopra

    The energy of love IS the only thing that exists. It is life itself. It is only natural that least effort would be expended when going with the true nature of creation, rather than fighting or resisting it. Let us learn this much sooner rather than later. 
    This morning I am feeling cranky about our "health care" system in the U.S. The system has become such a greedy, money-driven failure because the patient is NOT the customer, therefore NOT the top priority of the care provider. The actual customer is insurance, be it "health" insurance or malpractice insurance. The first action on any medical visit is to satisfy insurance requirements. 
    Here's my current "cranky-making" example. Because I have had my hip replaced, before I can have ANY dental procedure (yes, even cleaning), I have to take antibiotic pills an hour before the visit. I do not want to take these pills, and I am not concerned about an infection. This is strictly to "cover the dental office's ass," to satisfy insurance. They can mumble about this being good for me, but the real motivation is very clear. I DO have a choice here--I could lie about taking the pills, but that is not a good option because I am a lousy liar. 
    Let us be motivated by love, not insurance!
        Leta

Monday, April 15, 2024

April 15--Gradually Moving Forward

We place a happy life in a tranquility of mind.  --Marcus Tullius Cicero

    It's April 15, U.S. "tax day," and I don't care! It has been mighty fine this year not doing tax work. 
    Yesterday I described my grief this way: "I'm bored, I'm lonely, I'm tired and I'm sad." It seems like I get one or two things done, and then I'm shot. I'm easily distracted. I know this is all "normal," but I surely don't have to like it. 
    My niece and I have planned a trip to Chicago this summer. This will, of course, include a Cubs game at Wrigley Field (me: "died and gone to heaven.") She is rewarding herself for loving care of her mom and dad for many years. We are looking forward to traveling together a bunch after she retires from teaching in a few years, so along with our beach vacations, this is a good start. Navy Pier will be the site of fireworks on July 4, our first day in Chicago. No doubt many good memories of her mom and dad will be shared.
    My husband, with his boundless energy, installed a new storm door on our front entry. It is awesome, with a retractable screen that will allow lovely breezes to flow through our house. 
    One day at a time,
        Leta
Barney checking out
the new door

Sunday, April 14, 2024

April 14--Priceless Words: I Love You

There is no way to peace, peace is the way.  --Mahatma Gandhi

    Well, war certainly is not working. Why can't our leaders, who are supposed to be intelligent (the jury is still out on that one!), see that?!?!?! 
    Dear friends have been so loving and supportive as I grieve. Several of them went together and had a bouquet of flowers sent to me. I literally cannot remember the last time I received flowers, so it is an incredible treat! Cards, texts and emails have been flowing in. I am so grateful for all the love. 
    The last thing I said to my brother was, "I love you!" He said the same back to me as I was heading out the door for what was the last time. While Sue, his wife, was still alive, she had even more health issues than Arlie, so my niece, Debi, spent a lot of time with Mom. I share my niece's favorite memory of her dad: "My most impactful memory has been the last 1 1/2 years with Dad after Mom died. We shared so many precious moments together from the agony of taking him to Walmart, to coffee and conversation by the fireplace, to hearing him say 'I love you' for the last time." 
    Even though we were not geographically close, I shall miss my bro every day!
        Leta

The lovely flowers I received 😂

Saturday, April 13, 2024

April 13--From Here to There

You have to be where you are to get where you need to go.  --Amy Poehler

    A phrase I repeat often is "Ya gotta start somewhere." I think too-lofty goals kill many a project. Take exercise for example. If you have not moved much in the past few years, you probably cannot comfortably hike several miles, but you can walk to the end of the driveway and back. 
    As I continue to love up my brother who just passed, I see that this quote most certainly applies to my next tribute to him. He was an active member of Alcoholics Anonymous for several decades. Entry into a 12-Step program requires at its very foundation a recognition of where you are (hopeless addict) in order to get where you need to go (productive human in recovery). Arlie's family has no idea of how many other alcoholics he helped, but I would guess it numbers in the dozens. He was a self-admitted tough sponsor, because that's how he was sponsored. To the very end of his life, his most sought-after activity outside his care home was going to a meeting. I was honored to attend several with him, and being a recovering addict myself, even though not an alcoholic, the group members welcomed me with open arms, just because I am "Arlie's sister." Many AA members showed up at the memorial service for Arlie's wife, and I expect there will be even more at Arlie's celebration. 
    Generosity of Spirit--that was Arlie.
        Leta
Arlen Miller, Army Ranger
(and very handsome!!)

Friday, April 12, 2024

April 12--Long Time Love

Rivers know this: there is no hurry. We shall get there someday.  --A. A. Milne

    For sure this sounds like something Winnie the Pooh would say. When I am walking my dog Barney, and he is pulling hard to get somewhere, I tell him, "We're gonna get there, hang on."
    Amongst the sadness and activity of my brother's passing, today we celebrate our 38th wedding anniversary. We had a lovely Italian dinner last night. My husband is going to commemorate the event by installing a new storm door on the front of our house. I truly appreciate his love of projects. 
    My brother Arlie and his wife Sue were married for 61 years. They brought a daughter and two sons into the world. The beach was always a favorite vacation spot, and I was blessed to be included in many of those adventures. My brother often stated that his purpose in life was to take care of Sue, and he did a super job of that. It was not hard to see Arlie's enthusiasm for life take a sharp decline when Sue passed in September of 2022. 
    More memories, more love,
        Leta

Arlie and Sue on their wedding day, June 1961

Thursday, April 11, 2024

April 11--Sad, Not Sad

In order to understand the world, one has to turn away from it on occasion. 
--Albert Camus

    As I was writing yesterday's blog post, my beloved brother had already passed, at 12:30 am Eastern time. He transitioned peacefully in his sleep. His daughter and a grandson were with him. At last he is enjoying his one desire--to be with his wife. I am grateful his suffering is over, and ecstatically happy that I had the two weeks with him at the end of March.
    Yesterday was an exhausting day of sharing the news with lots of tears. I did some gardening therapy, then played pickleball for the satisfaction of smacking something around. 
    I am now the only remaining member of my family of origin. Mom passed in 1979; Dad, in 2000; Ken, in 2006; Arlie, in 2024. Both my brothers' wives have passed, too. I feel like an orphan. My nephew has now declared me "Queen of the Miller Clan." I debated for a bit driving back to Ohio again for the memorial service because of needing to do considerable schedule rearranging. However, I realized quickly that this may be one of the last times most of the family gets together, and I couldn't bear to miss that. 
    Sliding all over the emotional spectrum,
        Leta

Arlie and I in 2021

Wednesday, April 10, 2024

April 10--Waiting and Remembering

Peace is always beautiful.  --Walt Whitman

    So is a Cubs grand slam. That happened last night after I had turned off the game to sleep, exhausted after another emotional day relative to my brother. Peace is coming soon to my brother. His transition will leave grief and peace intermingled for family and friends.
    My bro has always been a dog lover. Early on his family had a dachshund, followed by an insane beagle that got into everything. Finally they settled their dog preference on Golden Retrievers, and he had three fantastic ones over the years--Jake, Ben and Shadoe. Jake and Ben made Arlie move--he was always on the go with them. He would take them to local lakes with a tennis ball for hours of retrieval fun. By the time Shadoe came along, Arlie's legs had weakened due to circulation issues, and he could no longer keep up with the dog. Arlie and his wife made the very painful decision to return Shadoe to the original owner. Nevertheless, any time Arlie sees a dog, he lights up. 
    More memories as time passes,
        Leta
 
Last night's sunset from
Clearwater, Kansas

Tuesday, April 9, 2024

April 9--A Rock and A Hard Place

Never let the future disturb you. You will meet it, if you have to, with the same weapons of reason which today arm you against the present.  --Marcus Aurelius

    First of all, the present is disturbing me greatly, because (1st World Problem), the internet has been up-down, up-down for the past 18 hours, and all I want to do is numb out. Why, you ask? Because the future is disturbing me, too. It would seem that a future without my brother is imminent, and I don't like that one bit. Alas, I also do not want to see him suffering, and that has been the case for some time. 
    End-of-life decisions are the proverbial "rock and a hard place." Quality of life is a huge factor, but who decides what "quality" is? Your idea and mine may differ. Our beliefs about the afterlife may be wildly divergent. I certainly get it when a person is simply done with the struggle and ready to move on. For those remaining, emotions are flying all over the place. Sadness, relief, grief, joyful memories, regrets, anger--the entire emotional spectrum can be covered in a short time. 
    One day at a time!
        Leta
It nearly all went to Goodwill. Even though 
my emotions are a mess, my cabinets are
now much cleaner. 😉😉

Monday, April 8, 2024

April 8--The Inside Job

Our work for peace must begin within the private world of each one of us. 
--Dag Hammarskjold

    If we do not experience peace within ourselves, we cannot bring it into the world. Chaos and conflict simply attract more of the same. If you have enjoyed inner peace, you know that it is a priceless gift as well as a state to cultivate. Guns, violence, war, "us vs. them," none of these can ever create peace. 
    Serenity within allows us to live and let live. As James Finley puts it: "Everyone’s an infinitely loved, broken person in a fleeting, often not-so-fair, gorgeous, lovely, unexplainable world."
        Leta

Sunday, April 7, 2024

April 7--Like It Or Not

You must take life the way it comes at you and make the best of it.  --Yann Martel

    Things are deteriorating for my brother in Ohio. While it is true that one always has a choice, in this instance, none of the choices seem to be good ones. He may very soon get his #1 choice, to be with his wife who passed in 2022. I am so incredibly grateful I was able to spend the last two weeks of March with him. 
    Now there is more grief on the horizon. Is there always grief on the horizon? I guess as one gets to "senior" age and friends and family are passing, grief becomes a nearly constant companion. I can't say I like that much. Grief is tiring. It feels like no one else understands. It can't be "fixed." We simply have to summon the resilience to see it through. 
    One day at a time,
        Leta

Saturday, April 6, 2024

April 6--This Nerd Loves Color

Read, or sit in revery and watch the changing colors of the waves that break upon the idle seashore of the mind.  --Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

    I was watching the Cubs beat the Dodgers last night. I love the TV announcers, Boog Sciambi and Jim Deshaies. JD is a former MLB pitcher. They are a hoot together. Boog, a self-proclaimed nerd, was asking JD if he feels he is a nerd, and is he OK with that. JD agreed that he is a nerd and dropped this one: 

I think most nerds embrace nerddom.  --Jim Deshaies

I'm right with you there, JD! 

    I'm back to gardening, and there is plenty of colorful creativity going on in my mind. I'm imagining pots of herbs and flowering annuals, lily bouquets on my desk and dinner table, and juicy tomatoes and basil pesto to nourish us. 
    I would also offer that Longfellow's quote is how my last two straight-line paintings came to be. The idea (wave on my mental seashore) just came to me, along with a sample of colors I like together. My geometry-nerd self chose a shape to work with (quadrilateral on one, odd number of sides on another), and I went with it. It is an awesome energizing experience to let a project grow that way.
    Those waves are creative joy!
        Leta

Friday, April 5, 2024

April 5--In the Garden

You've got to learn to do everything lightly... Yes, feel lightly even though you're feeling deeply. Just lightly let things happen and lightly cope with them. 
--Aldous Huxley 

    Huxley offers a great idea here--clearly it's a practice to learn to not take life and oneself so seriously. 
    I love spring! Yesterday I started seeds for basil, roma tomatoes and serrano peppers. Most of my early spring garden work goes into the trash--weeds, twigs, deadhead material. I'm OK with that, because what is left, so much green, is bursting. There are buds on the peony bushes. My 50 new lily bulbs in the front bed are starting to peek through the mulch. At least some of my hostas are returning. I'm anxious to see if last fall's sowing of wild sunflower seeds will sprout. I have one red tulip that keeps coming back--it is a fighter, and I don't have the heart to pull it out. It's time to get the pots ready to plant annuals in a couple of weeks. Let the battle with the squirrels begin!
    Note the title of this blog. That is an "old-time" hymn and my favorite. I sang it so often as a kid in church that I know all the words to all the verses. 
    Loving Mother Earth,
        Leta
That one very determined tulip!

Thursday, April 4, 2024

April 4--Acceptance Yields Serenity

Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don't resist them, that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.  --Lao-Tzu

    This quote reminds me of the acceptance passage from the AA Big Book, always a worthwhile review: 

And acceptance is the answer to all my problems today. When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, thing, or situation -- some fact of my life -- unacceptable to me, and I can find no serenity until I accept that person, place, thing or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment.
Nothing, absolutely nothing, happens in God's world by mistake. Until I could accept my alcoholism, I could not stay sober; unless I accept life completely on life's terms, I cannot be happy. I need to concentrate not so much on what needs to be changed in the world as on what needs to be changed in me and in my attitudes.
For me, serenity began when I learned to distinguish between those things that I could change and those I could not. When I admitted that there were people, places, things, and situations over which I was totally powerless, those things began to lose their power over me. I learned that everyone has the right to make their own mistakes, and learn from them, without my interference, judgment, or assistance!

    There is so very little over which I have any control!
        Leta
 
It's time to get seedlings started...
tomatoes, peppers, basil, oh my!

Wednesday, April 3, 2024

April 3--All Works Together for Gooder 😉

Learn to get in touch with the silence within yourself and know that everything in this life has a purpose.  --Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

    I am happy to report good news relative to my brother. He has been signed up for Hospice care. This is no longer a sign of impending death. It is a sign that he will now be able to get consistent pain relief and additional care that has been haphazard or lacking in his living situation. It is a big relief for all involved, especially my brother!
    I most certainly concur with the opening quote. However, it sometimes takes me a bit to know the purpose, especially of things I consider negative. I offer a couple of examples. My mother's death when I was 23 was grossly unfair at the time, but turned out to set me free for a life of exploration and growth that would likely not have happened otherwise. My newborn twin great-nephews needing heart surgeries right after birth--helping with their care created family bonding that continues to this day, and both boys are healthy and thriving. 
    Good can be found in every situation--sometimes we just have to look really hard.
        Leta

Barney loves to lick the dirty silverware.
He is so smart--he stays away from the dishwasher 
when the dishes are clean. 

Tuesday, April 2, 2024

April 2--I Blame ...

Don't be too quick to draw conclusions from what happens to you; simply let it happen.  --Rainer Maria Rilke

    This is certainly a lofty goal, easier said than done. 
    I've had the topic of blaming in my face lately. It has shown up in several unrelated daily readings. I could blame my mother and brother for inspiring the blaming habit in me 😉😉 This is a character defect that has been keeping me discontent at best for a long time. Serenity (our topic of the month) and blaming cannot coexist. Nor can blaming and gratitude. Something happened within me during my recent Ohio visit. In discussing the good points of the main person I had been blaming, I realized that MY blaming, not that person's behavior, has been blocking my personal joy, love and serenity. Awareness is my first step in dropping the blaming habit. I suspect I will find that I have been blaming in multiple directions. 
    Always learning,
        Leta

Astronomy Picture of the Day, April 2,
by Phil Hart... the solar corona

Monday, April 1, 2024

April 1--Home Again

Peace is present right here and now, in ourselves and in everything we do and see... Every breath we take, every step we take, can be filled with peace, joy, and serenity... The question is whether or not we are in touch with it. We need only to be awake, alive in the present moment.  --Thich Nhat Hanh

    As you may guess, April's theme in "Daily Kindness" is serenity
    There was very little traffic on my drive home yesterday, I assume because of the Easter holiday. I am so glad to be in Kansas' warm spring weather rather than the wintry stuff hanging on in NE Ohio. I was delighted to see the redbud trees blooming all across Missouri. My journey totaled just over 2,300 miles. When I drove onto the court, I saw my husband and Barney in the backyard. I parked the Spaceship (our RAV4) and walked around the corner of the house. When Barney saw me, he took off running full speed to me and did a wild happy dance. It was so cool, moments of total joy! 
    I'm looking forward to getting back into my routine of pickleball and swimming. My golf league starts soon and the garden is sprouting lots of vibrant green. 
    Hooray for spring!
        Leta
Redbud blossoms--a sure sign of spring!