Monday, September 02, 2013

How did you live...and die?

I read this the other day- and it made me think of my mom, as well as the way I want to live until my last breath.   Thank you for your thoughts and love during this time.  Tomorrow I see a grief counselor for the first time and I'm sure it will be helpful.   I'm sad to admit I still feel so sad and at lose ends most days.   I look forward to being on vacation for a week every month until the new year.  I imagine I needed one before now, but the timing just hasn't worked out.    Love to each of you-

How Did You Die?

Did you tackle that trouble that came your way
With a resolute heart and cheerful?
Or hide your face from the light of day
With a craven soul and fearful?
Oh, a trouble's a ton, or a trouble's an ounce,
Or a trouble is what you make it,
And it isn't the fact that you're hurt that counts,
But only how did you take it?

You are beaten to earth? Well, well, what's that?
Come up with a smiling face.
It's nothing against you to fall down flat,
But to lie there -- that's disgrace.
The harder you're thrown, why the higher you bounce;
Be proud of your blackened eye!
It isn't the fact that you're licked that counts,
It's how did you fight --  and why?

And though you be done to the death, what then?
If you battled the best you could,
If you played your part in the world of men,
Why, the Critic will call it good.
Death comes with a crawl, or comes with a pounce,
And whether he's slow or spry,
It isn't the fact that you're dead that counts,
But only how did you die?
© Edmund Vance Cooke 

Thursday, August 22, 2013


This poem has touched me so much over the last few days- especially this last part,
Oddly enough, I wasn't sure who I was thinking of sharing it with when I first read it.
Now, I am beginning to believe, I to say it to my self.  
To be able to say this ABOUT myself.
To embark on a journey where I am, and must be, TRUE to me.

I want to mirror your image to its fullest perfection, 
never be blind or too old
to uphold your weighty wavering reflection. 
I want to unfold.
Nowhere I wish to stay crooked, bent; 
for there I would be dishonest, untrue. 
I want my conscience to be 
true before you;
want to describe myself like a picture I observed 
for a long time, one close up, 
like a new word I learned and embraced, 
like the everday jug, 
like my mother's face, 
like a ship that carried me along 
through the deadliest storm.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Mom- remembered...

This is a re-post from several years ago.   Mom passed away last night, she was 63.  I will miss her dearly-

My mom has been ill, and is now in the hospital.   For the last 3 years, in addition to caring for our families, my sisters and I have been taking care of the lady who brought us into the world...
She is not well.

Last week as I stood at her kitchen sink and washed her dishes I discovered 2 knives she had bought many years ago in her marriage to my dad.    The knife distributor was a door to door salesman who had "everlasting" blades in his bag, and he was selling top quality cutlery which "would last her a lifetime".   It donned on me, as I stood there, in mom's government subsidized apartment, these knives were all she had to show for her 38 year marriage.   My sister reminded me that "I" was also something to show for all those years.   Sigh.   I felt tears in my eyes.   Somehow, the 6 of us didn't, or couldn't, quite validate the importance of the woman who was sick and dying before our very eyes.

She is better, but things are changing.    Unlike my beloved Foamy, I can't move mom in with us and give her all the physical and medical attention she deserves.   Her needs are great and beyond my skill.   She understands and accepts this fact.

As I move through this period of grief, and it is grief- even though she is still here, I lose a small part of her every day...I want to write about the things she has said and done which imparted wisdom, laughter, and joy to me from my early years until the present.   Even yesterday she made me laugh!

She is allergic to percocet, and she said, "It makes me itch like a monkey with a flea!"
I know you do not KNOW my mom, but that is one of the funniest things she's ever said to me!    And I have seen her itch on maybe that's part of why the phrase is so funny :)

When my Grandmother (mom's mom) saw me for the first time as a baby, Grandma said she saw a halo around MY head.    She told my mom I was special.   Before last night I had NEVER heard that story.     I'm not sure my Grandmother or my mom were/are right- because I have certainly made a TON of mistakes and bad choices...but my mom swears the story is true.    I am NOT an angel.   I am ONLY holy if Jesus has made me so, and I feel very far from all those things these days.

Eternal life has less value to me than this present life, and forgive me if I sound like a doubter...because I am not.   I do believe in God, and I think He has a special place for souls like that of my mother.   I feel certain life exists beyond this dim plane- and people I have loved deeply have made it clear to me their love still exists for me- and is extended to me, despite being in a form I can no longer hug or touch.    LOVE is an ENERGY.    Period.   Figure out what ENERGY is and can do and you will understand what I mean.

My mom used to sing nursery rhymes to us as a was "Sam, Sam, the garbage man- washed his face with a frying pan, brushed his teeth with a monkeys tail, and died with a toothache---in his..heel"

she always paused before saying the word "heel"- knowing full well we'd think that didn't quite rhyme...

???"Died with a toothache- and went to hell...."???

Our Dentists ALWAYS said we had the BEST TEETH!

I so love my mom.

Friday, July 05, 2013

"Love is but the discovery of ourselves in others, and the delight in the recognition."
Alexander Smith

I see much of my mom in me...and a little bit of me in her. The real delight though- is to see her in my children ♥♥♥

Saturday, June 15, 2013

the lost path...and truth- like it or not.

We are trapped by what we know...
And freed by errant seeds we sow.
Never imagining the crop we'd yield,
By napping in some foreign field.

We wander off the map prepared,
By those who wish to keep us from being snared,
Only to find a raptured bliss,
In the arms of one who'd be dismissed.

A dark knight, a cowboy, a biker dude-
All excluded for what they exude,
Darkness, oily, not to ever be made pure,
And never deserve a Sunshine girl.

There is a reason God made Hell-
And some secrets He will never tell.
Of Angels fallen, and of singed wings,
Of His broken heart, and shattered things.

Of splintered souls who search for love,
And only find a leathered glove.
Who look 'til death to find sweet peace,
And only find it "6 ft underneath".

And yet, I am a lucky one.
A golden girl who walks in sun...
Who sparkles in the moonlight bright.
Who shares no darkness with the (k)night.

But yes, my ache is no less a pain,
and the hurt I feel is not a gain.
But wisdom comes when my heart doth yield,
To observe the crops from a foreign field.

To lay down and sleep in another's life,
To wake and feel his hurt and strife.
And judge not the knight, cowboy, or biker dude.
But understand their life, and accept their truth.


Tuesday, June 11, 2013

The Dark Knight and a Tiny Candle

In my dream...there is

A Dark Knight on a white horse,
I've become lost-
I've traveled off course.
I've wandered into the garden around his castle.

At the gate he beckons me inside,
Welcomes, and leads me to the library,
Then leaves me to ponder for a time about
All the stories and words which surround me.

My heartbeat quickens,
Latin, Greek, Gibran, and Thomas,
All in one place, and not one word un-sacred.
The hours pass like minutes.

He returns with a gift, and wine,
and finds me, like a child,
Enthralled on the floor with his books,
But I am no child. I am a lover of words.

Smiling, and gently, but oh so firmly,
He reaches down to touch my arm,
Easily pulling me to my feet,
He leads me towards his massive desk.

Leaning over me, touching my hair,
He asks, "Mayden, do you know who I am?"
My exterior shows no fear,
But inside, my heart trembles at the question.

I ponder before I answer...
I was lost, and he took me in.
I was weary, and he refreshed my mind and body,
There was no malice in his eyes...yet he was reading my soul.

I answered, "No Sir, I do not know you, and yet..."
He gazed into my blue eyes, waiting,
"I trust you"  I whispered.
"Good", he said aloud, and kissed me on the cheek.

"I am both a Gentleman, and a Dark Knight,
A lover, and a slayer. A Master and a teacher.
I am honored with your gift of trust,
I will ever guard it with all I am."

I wake up in twilight- confused by my dream of the dark Knight.
I touch  my cheek, still warmed by his kiss.
I am home, and I am alone.
I miss his words, the strength of his hands, and the sound of his voice.

Under my pillow is a tiny wrapped package,
The gift he gave me in my dream...
How can it be here with me, in my bed???
Tied with a long silken cord.

I unwrap the is a tiny book.
On the first page is written-
"The great tragedy of life is not that men perish, but that they cease to love.‏"
And I find my heart aches for him.

How do I get back to the dream?
How do I find my way back to the quiet garden of the Dark Knight?
What will I find in the other rooms of his castle?
What will I find in the chambers of his heart?

I only know being in his presence made me feel alive,

He read my heart and mind,
And comforted me with what he discovered.
His Strength, not his darkness, is what draws me to him.

My flame, like a tiny candle in a dragons lair,

Can not be put out by darkness.
But perhaps my light- reflected in the polished silver of his mail, 
Will illuminate our path...while he leads the way ♥

If only I can find him again...

Friday, May 31, 2013

Finding the "others"

I didn't know much about Timothy Leary until today, and even now I'm not sure I know all that much about him, (I do wonder what XDell thinks of him!))...but I found a quote today which struck deeply into my heart.

“Admit it. You aren’t like them. You’re not even close. You may occasionally dress yourself up as one of them, watch the same mindless television shows as they do, maybe even eat the same fast food sometimes. But it seems that the more you try to fit in, the more you feel like an outsider, watching the “normal people” as they go about their automatic existences. For every time you say club passwords like “Have a nice day” and “Weather’s awful today, eh?”, you yearn inside to say forbidden things like “Tell me something that makes you cry” or “What do you think deja vu is for?”...

Who knows what you might learn from taking a chance on conversation with a stranger? Everyone carries a piece of the puzzle. Nobody comes into your life by mere coincidence.
Trust your instincts. Do the unexpected. Find the others…”
-T. Leary

"Find the others..."

This morning when I awoke, hours before I read the quote above, I decided to spend more time on my blog and less time on FB- it's kind of a New Years thing, except it's a birthday thing.   I realized, after reading the quote, that I had ALREADY found the others.  Here.  In MY blog world.

The funny thing is that I blog weekly for WORK.   It's not that what I write isn't interesting, but it's all work related and written to generate content and online traffic.  There is no following.   No one in their right mind is going to check in with me on a weekly basis to find out what I have to say about vehicle wraps, or window wraps, wall murals, floor graphics, pool art, building wraps, or how best to wrap an elevator.  The blog is informational, and if you are a company in need of such things the material is helpful, but it does not attract "others" the way Mayden's Voyage does, or once did.  (you are always welcome to leave me a message though :) )

FB is an easy thing to default to because I can do it from my phone.  I believe it is also possible to BLOG from my phone, but I haven't quite figured it out.  I will.  I expect no one to get upset if I start using my blog like a fb page...but please don't POKE me :)

I've had some big life changes happen in the last 6 months, which I have not posted on my fb page, but I will write about them here.  Obviously there are some stories I'd like to tell, and honestly, some bloggers I simply miss having conversations with.  I'll be around to visit soon.
I am so fortunate to have found "you"  :)

Friday, May 24, 2013

Islands, Ducks, and work...

  NYD was asking/writing about how none of us are an island, except we are exactly like an island in that we are trapped within our own bodies and minds/imaginations.  In the comment section, I compared us to rubber ducks floating in water...bumping into each other, but mostly floating alone.  Mom's are different to some degree because our little ones paddle along behind us, but mine are quickly leaving the nest...

I wrote:
We are like islands in the way you wrote of...individuals trapped in our own little worlds, yet floating around independently, but covered in a sort of membrane (much like a blood cell) which is permeable. We receive information and energy, as well as give information and energy. But rather than being an island, I more think of us like rubber ducks in a big tub...surrounded by water, bumping into each other on occasion :) We ARE all in this thing together, but also, at times, very much alone. (Perhaps the blood cell idea is actually better than rubber ducks, but the ducks are cuter!)

I wish, often, when I'm alone and thinking of someone one far away (blog friends, dead loved ones, or people who live in Alaska :) that there was a way to break through the barrier of time, space, and location and simply communicate. Sometimes I do speak, almost prayer like, to the person I'm thinking of. The alternative, of course, is texting- which is almost as good, except it doesn't seem to work with the dearly departed or bloggers in other countries. I guess this is why we have computers and email? ;)

Above all- what I read and feel in this post is about connection, as well as lack thereof. It's the thing that tickles my brain too...wondering how and where I fit in, especially now that my "place" in the world is radically changing as I watch my kids go and emerge into adulthood. My baby rubber ducks aren't paddling behind me anymore...

The best question I should be asking is, "WHAT do I want to do now? and How?"

Sunday, May 05, 2013

Super Awesome Chocolate Chunk Ice Cream


              "Sadness is but a wall between two gardens."
                                        -Khalil Gibran

I love the hope of the poem above, but even gardens aren't free of difficulties.  Most gardens have blooms as well as thorns, buds as well as bugs, and beauty as well as mud.   It seems lately my garden/life has been full of dying plants, drought or flood, and a sad absence of honey bees.  No doubt there are some things I could manage better, but much of what's happened in the last 18 months has been the work of mother nature- and she is a force over which -even I -have no control.
For years here (at Mayden's Voyage) I have tried hard not to "journal" my actual journey, but rather I have written reflections on situations, events, and even people who have touched my life, for good or ill, without giving away details of the back story.  I have kept a journal since I was 8.  Being able to find a place where I can write all the sordid details of my life has been an important outlet, but a very private one.   I suppose if you knew me in day to day life you might be able to read between the lines and fill in the blanks, but honestly, each of us have enough burdens of our own.  Details are heavy.  It should be enough that I find a poem I want to share because it spoke to something in my life, and then I hope it touches something in you.  If it does, beautiful, if it does not- you don't walk away concerned with details you can do nothing about.  

Currently the sadness in my life deals with connections, and wants vs needs.  Some of the connections are faulty and tremendously painful.  When you were a child, did anyone ever let you "have as much as you want" of something, like a favorite ice cream, or candy, in the hope that your over indulgent behavior would teach you a lesson?  My mom always let us have as much cake and ice cream as we wanted on our birthday.  I clearly remember feeling sick on several occasions after having more cake than I needed.   Curious how all these years later I would parallel a spiritual pain to a physical one-  both having to do with excess, and failing to be mature enough to know when to stop.   As an adult I almost never eat cake, I don't even care for it.   When am I going to mature along similar lines in the spiritual realm?  Why do I go after the emotional equivalent of 10 gallons of super awesome chocolate chunk ice cream and fail to put my spoon down when I've had 12 bites too many?  And then why do I weep when the super awesome chocolate chunk ice cream makes me throw up, stains my dress, and makes me gain 10 lbs?  It happens every time, and yes- I have done this more than once. 

I simply can't get enough of that ice cream, even though it's no good for me.  I'm spiritually lactose intolerant.  It spikes my blood sugar.  I can't just have one dish- I want the whole tub.  It makes me feel like a greedy little kid getting her way...until I don't get my way, and then I'm heartbroken.  Heartbroken for ever wanting it in the first place, yet craving it still.  The smart thing, like a person in recovery, would be to stay clear of the ice cream and cut it out of my life.   Admit I am powerless before it and that my life is unmanageable with my freezer full of the stuff.   I do admit I have a problem.  I also admit I'm not ready to fix it.   I realize this also means nothing is going to resolve or mature on my part for a while longer.   The wall of sadness between gardens is something I'm going to keep running into.   

I wonder if I can paint a mural on it?  



Wednesday, May 01, 2013

a last page...

It was mother's day.
The heavy iron saturated odor from his blood filled her nose, brain cells, and caused a chemical reaction in her body.   He screamed in terror for the sake of terror because he did not know the truth...he was not dying, but he felt as if he might.  She held him in her arms and looked at the face she loved beyond her own flesh, beyond her own soul.  His face, torn in 3 places, she tried to gently push back into place, trying to make his features familiar once more, but it was to no avail.  A plastic surgeon and prayer were needed, and needed soon.
He screamed, she shhhed, and he screamed above her voice in panic.   Only when she said, "Son, we need to pray." did he stop screaming, and immediately, with the epic faith of an 8 yr old, he simply said, "Dear Jesus, I need a miracle."

Unsure if there was brain damage, she sifted through her mental files and training.  She asked simple questions like, "What is your whole name?  When is your birthday?  Who is the President?  What year is it now?  Can you add 70 +30?"   He answered correctly and quickly.  A temporary peace settled over her as she thought to herself, "For now, at this moment, he is ok- at least for now- I will not lose him."

The Ambulance finally arrived.  All at once, when the paramedic came to take her son, her fear of letting go of him, and yet the intense understanding that she must trust the stranger in the blue jump suit, was a battle of wills like none other, all played out in her mind and heart.  A bloody white flag of surrender, and a faint hope her son would be in capable hands is what released her grip, but few realized how close she came to brink of madness in the seconds before.   No one ever imagined.

It was at this moment, as she stood up, she realized the blood from his head wound had soaked all the way to her flesh.  His blood.  His precious blood.  The child she knew so well she knew something of him internally.  It was awful knowledge. Red, thick, and sticky, the smell alone would leave a scar on her soul. 

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Backbone and Mirth

My best friends mom, N,  was diagnosed with Parkinsons Disease several years ago.  She fought with meds, determination, and a profoundly defiant personality.  She had been a charge nurse for ages and she knew what she was up against.  Refusing dialysis when her kidneys began to shut down she knew would be a painful choice, but it would end her suffering more quickly and in a natural way.

During the last week, despite 2 seizures, she drifted in and out of consciousness- but would smile when you held her hand and spoke to her.  She had been an active member of her church, was in the choir for many years, and had been married to my best friend's dad for 38 years.   She was well loved, respected, a fabulous cook, took charge of anything entrusted to her, and was not a woman to be trifled with.   She was full of 2 things, backbone, and mirth.

Yesterday, barely awake, her husband held her hand and asked her how she was.  Her reply was, "I don't like it, but it's ok."   A little later he told her he was going to sit by the bed and read the newspaper, and her last words were, "If you are going to read the paper, then I am going to sing."
And sure enough, for about 10 seconds she sang as best she could, an indecipherable song she had hidden in her heart.
We lost her this morning.

When her husband told me this story I was at a loss for words.  Utterly and woefully trapped in a body which was actively dying, in tremendous pain from the toxins building up in her system, unable to move, feed herself, or take care of her own basic needs...and yet there was ONE thing she could do.
She could sing.

She didn't complain.  She didn't weep- even with the understanding her moments were numbered.  She didn't yell, or fuss, or cry for more time.  She sang.  She faced her last hours with a song in her heart, and a tune on her lips- inspite of the disease which had ravaged her body and taken her years too soon.
She sang.

It occurs to me, as I struggle with my own mom and her illnesses, kids in college, and moments of pain, heartache, and well as the beautiful fact that I am well, can run 3 miles, have never been in better shape, can cook, clean, go to the beach, sit in the sun, and love with abandon...
I do not sing enough.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Sunset at the beach~

Mr. Sun, please stay with me,
Just 15 minutes more, I plead-
But He sinks behind the waves and sea,
Other places he must be.

While waking faces look ahead,
Stretch and yawn, climb out of bed,
The moon and stars have slipped away-
And my Mr. Sun begins their day.

He never pauses when I ask,
My pleading does not alter task-
Yet at the dawning, bright and wild,
His whispers golden, "Love you child!"

Wednesday, April 10, 2013


"Miracles do not, in fact, break the laws of nature."
C. S. Lewis

However, lies full of malice and corrupted intent will break your heart.
I suppose, at the sum of brokenness, lies a silver lining of truth- that one's heart is tender enough to actually be broken, and for that we can be grateful.  The shards of a shattered bottle can be repurposed for a beautiful stained glass window, or melted down and and made anew.
The bitter sting of betrayal is doubled when you realize a "friend" was NOT a friend, and all the nagging doubts you had about their true intentions, words, stories, and motives prove, yet again, your gut instincts were dead on.  ALWAYS listen to your gut.

The miracle of my day is knowing one simple truth...Love is never wasted.  What you plant with love always yields a crop, although it may not bear the fruit you were expecting.  Love is an energy which always comes back to you, and it heals, mends, soothes, and comforts.  Our brokenness is akin to a dry cracked patch of earth, and love is like a slow steady rain, followed by warm sun, and flowers will grow where it was once barren.
Love is never wasted, and forgiveness is a miracle.
May my life be full of both.