Love & Friendship

Here I am with two of my Valentines… Jorge and Buddy

Today is February 14th. In most parts of the world, romantic love takes center stage on this day we call, Valentines Day. But in Mexico, all love is celebrated.

This year, the day of love and friendship has special significance to me because in a week’s time I am having surgery. My knees are both shot, but the left is the worst. In fact I can no longer walk without major pain. And as I can’t accept the idea of settling permanently into a rocking chair, a knee replacement is my only viable option. Nonetheless I feel very sorry to be saying goodbye to my 70 year old left knee. We have had lots of good times…

It’s odd, but when I was a young woman, I remember getting health advice concerning my heart. I was urged to eat veggies, foods with lots of fibre and steer away from the carbs and saturated fats. I was also warned to watch out for my lungs. Like many people my age, I smoked and by my late 20s, every time I lit up, I was told I should quit. Keeping away from too much alcohol would keep my liver in good shape and plenty of water every day would ensure a healthy circulatory system. I followed the advice for the most part and don’t have many worries about my organs. But my joints are another matter.

I spent so much time outdoors and I walked miles every day. Not for a minute did I think my knees would give out on me. All the sun that I soaked in also took its toll … on my skin. It has not been so very long since effective sun blocks came on the market, so sun damage is my other ravage of time.

The upcoming knee operation has also set my mind romping along Memory Lane. Almost every waking moment, when I am not consciously thinking of something in the here and now, I am remembering friends and aquaintances that I’ve made over the years, I’m recalling the special places I have visited, and my students who taught me so much. The bulk of my interactions have been intercultural. Not always easy but always interesting.

So today, although my husband, Jorge is my special Valentine… I send out big kisses to my children, my granddaughter, my brothers and sisters and all my cousins. I hope everyone I call my friend feels included in the giant group hug that my heart is feeling right now.

And I have to say this too… Happy Valentines Day to my knees! I thank Old Leftie for all the pivoting, jumping, springing and all-round support given over the years. I doubt that my new ceramic, made-in-Germany knee will take all the guff I gave the original, but I am grateful for the modern medical procedures that will (hopefully) allow me to dance and dream my way towards many more Valentine’s Days.


Happy New Year!

When most people are asked what they strive for, they usually respond with one word: HAPPINESS.

However, they may have a hard time articulating their definition of the word. Here is a list of the most common responses: 

  • Being seen as physically attractive 
  • Feeling mentally healthy
  • Appearing to have the ideal partner, children and friends
  • Achieving an emotionally satisfying / financially remunerative career
  • Enjoying a lifestyle that includes travel, exotic dining and entertainment
  • Owning a beautiful home/s, furniture and art 
  • Looking hot in trendy clothing, haircuts, tattoos or whatever your taste dictates 
  • Counting on an abundance of money and time, to revel in it all.

Actually, this list speaks to “stereotypical success”. And while this can enhance happiness, true happiness is a feeling – one that inundates our inner being and totally surrounds our outer self. True happiness does not depend on riches or possessions – it is a state of mind that produces fulfillment and satisfaction. When we experience happiness, we sense that our heart and soul are truly at rest. What we in fact experience, is love.

So? Is happiness a fantasy? Or is it an intangible, yet real entity? Can happiness be weighed? Or measured? Or heard? Can it be seen? 

No, the five physical senses – sight, sound, taste, touch, and hearing – cannot calibrate happiness. This is the province of the sixth sense – our feelings – a combination of love,  intuition, reasoning, faith, and criteria . Only through our emotions, can happiness be experienced. And the same is true for the opposite end of the spectrum – unhappiness.

Our belief systems are partially fueled by the comparison of visible and invisible opposites. Light vs. dark – cold vs. hot – good vs. evil – strong vs. weak – authentic vs. fake. We use our own judgment when we assign a positive or negative value to anything and everything. However, most of our decisions are also influenced by our society’s standards. So, for most of us, personal criteria is not entirely our own – it is a combination of personal preference, and that of others.

Every December 31st., at midnight, we cry out, “Happy New Year”.  Often we cement the sentiment with a hug and a kiss. Most of us are pretty democratic with this behavior. We willy-nilly offer it to our dearest loved ones and sometimes to remote strangers who happen to be in the room. WHY?

Maybe we do so because truly, we do hope that everyone we come in contact with will find “happiness”. If we feel that way, perhaps we should be even more sincere and say,

– I will do my utmost not to influence your decisions this coming year. I will respect your own preferences to live your life as you feel is right. I hope you’ll do the same for me – 

But such a salutation is a bit wordy, isn’t it? Way too much for casual acquaintances. However, maybe after reading this post, you will opt to share the sentiments with the people who mean a lot to you – your partner or spouse, if you have one – the children you were blessed with – or other young people who you love as though they are your children – your birth family – and friends who feel like they are part of your family. 

The other pet phrase we glibly ask at the start of every year is, “What are your New Year’s resolutions?”

Maybe we’d do well to keep in mind that most people are doing the best they can at any given time. And if their best doesn’t live up to our standards, the most loving thing is to keep quiet unless they ask for an opinion. If we are asked, we need to be gentle with our words. Be helpful, not judgmental. 

Over the past few days, some readers of this blog have asked me about my New Year’s resolutions. Maybe others have wondered? Living more healthily, losing weight, painting and writing more, and being more consistent are not on my list of New Year’s Resolutions – those action items are actually part of my eternal life goals. My New Year’s resolution is to live up to the words I have written today – as best I can, at any given time.  

All you’re dreaming of…

On December 31, 2022, I wrote a post for my Facebook page that garnered a lot of reactions from my “friends” on the platform. However, a good many of this blog’s readers do not have FB accounts, and so I decided to print the entry here as well. I hope it will resonate with you.

“Today is the final day of 2022… a year that ran the whole gamut. A year like most have been. But I noticed one difference… I have started to feel my mortality. Never before did I think seriously about getting older. Now I do. I will turn 70 in 2023. And I feel the need to make this coming decade “count”. Count in meaningful ways. I want to be kinder and more consistent. I want to be less hung up about what’s “right” and follow my intuition more. I want to write and paint … read more and listen to lots of music. I want to get all the sleep I need. I want to worry less. I don’t need to see all the fabulous places I have not seen, but I want to return to a few of the ones I have enjoyed most. More than anything, I want to spend lots of time with the people I truly love and who feel the same way about me. I want to show them how much they mean to me. I am married and I want my husband to be so absolutely sure that I adore him… even when our differences and stressful situations cloud that sentiment. I hope my children realize that bringing them into the world was my most transcendental experience… my love for them is tender and also fierce. I don’t think that feeling my mortality is morbid… I think it is motivational. I don’t want to relive former glory days… I am still evolving and hopefully I possess the grace to embrace whatever this next year offers and allow myself to accept where it takes me.”

I hope that 2023 will be all you’re dreaming of. Thank you for your support of my writing.