LUGGAGE Lady

Contemplations about Life, Love, & the Pursuit of Meaningful Existence…

Archive for the category “Life Lessons”

Soulfully Awake…Standing in Awe

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Just a blip on life’s stage

Passing through history’s dense corridor

Lost civilizations mocking

Whistling my insignificance across snapping winds

Footprints gobbled by swirling dust

Was I ever even there?

The sun bores into my heart

Exposing my humanness

Yesterday’s drama devoured by thunderous waterfalls

I scrounge uncomfortably

Clamoring for excuses

Why do I succumb

To living so small

When I’m nothing but a speck in time?

My tongue thickens

Leaves me to swallow words unformed

But in subsequent muteness

Tears of determination cleanse my scope

And slowly I rise

I may be but a flickering flame against a ravenous night sky

Yet

Wherever the trail leads from this step forward

I have gleaned the dauntless spirit

Of all who have pummeled this path before

Teetering on possibility’s edge

Soulfully Awake…Standing in Awe

***

I return with brimming heart, Dear Readers, from a journey that afforded mesmerizing glimpses of Peru and Alaska. Blessed to experience the magnificent natural wonders of our planet, but also to lay a hand across the pulse of hardiness, innovation, and unyielding gusto coursing throughout our human lineage — I can’t wait to catch up with everyone and appreciate your patience so…

Not Goodbye — Just So Long for Now

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I remember lugging my backpack around Europe in the summer of ’88, enviously eyeballing the tour operators in their air-conditioned buses and thinking, must be nice. Soon though, it became clear that those peering from behind the fancy tinted windows were limited to staged visits at predetermined sites — extemporaneous exploration excluded. At twenty-one, immortality remained a reality but a wisp of doubt lingered: Perhaps bucket list pursuits came with a use-by date?

When I met my husband, he sported a fused ankle bone with a few steel screws drilled in for good measure (a youthful act of…let’s just say a lapse in judgment he’ll never forget). Besides triggering airport security (ever spy that airline captain standing spread-eagle?😜 ), the impeded mobility continues to challenge. Therefore, we never squander opportunities that may prove impossible tomorrow.

Blessed to work in an industry that allows generous vacation time and travel deals, we’re off to hike Machu Picchu — an itinerary that has us traipsing some forty miles through the Andes at altitudes exceeding 15,000 feet. We’ve been training, but I’m more harvest hen than spring chicken and hope I haven’t overestimated my prissy-girl parameters to my own detriment. Just praying I’m not the one they strap atop the poor rescue mule.

As this Bag Lady vanishes from the grid for a while, I wish you renewed celebration of life’s true fortunes: Smile ’til your cheeks ache, laugh readily with wild abandon, love yourself and all you touch whilst delighting in your every aspiration! I’ll be hyperventilating beneath celestial Peruvian skies…

Not Goodbye — Just So Long for Now! ♥♥♥

He Who Galvanizes

 

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To ALL who inspire — perhaps without even realizing…

One thousand five hundred sixty-three days

I awaited

The arrival of your pioneering imagination

Possessing power

To transport me places

I’d never have sought alone

With clever inventiveness

You illustrated my world

You were Luke

And I Leia

How freely we roamed

Growing up in a time

When amusement resided

In a child’s enterprising mind

Endless stories scripted

Performed to an audience of squirrels and birds

You heightened my fascination with language

Memorizing our favorite Pink Floyd lyrics

To croon along the moon-splashed river

Gurgling through our backyard

Never just a song

Rather a fervent interpretation of the essence

Behind every line

As we lamented

How quickly adults swapped youthful dreams

For the mundane

And what impact our teensy existence might render

Upon inconceivable universal vastness

No matter the backdrop

The intangible imprint

Forged by your loyal companionship

Is a guarded privilege

I shall never take for granted

Held in highest esteem:

He Who Galvanizes

***

This is dedicated to my humble baby brother, who not only coined the “LUGGAGE Lady” handle and encouraged this blog, but who has served as the mystical force behind my artistic/dramatic expression — always!  ♥

We Can Never Go Back

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Every summer growing up, my family journeyed from Chicago suburbia to my grandparent’s farm in southern Illinois. They called us “city kids,” and we couldn’t wait to indulge in the expansive freedoms of country life. Grandpa’s antics left us in constant stitches while Grandma’s love-laced culinary prowess nourished both body and soul.

We’d spring from the wood-paneled station wagon t0 a sporadic chorus of moos, oinks, and cackles, while honeysuckle, tomatoes heavy on the vine, and sweet corn tickled our noses. I’d affix myself to Grandma’s elbow, an eager sponge mirroring my mentor’s every move. From sunup to sundown she labored, transforming each morsel of food consumed with tireless hands.

Woven into the daily demands were simple pleasures, like piling onto the front porch swing at the end of the long day. Grandparents first, followed by a layer of grandchildren, and topped off with the latest litter of purring kittens. The swing’s chains creaked in time with chirping male crickets claiming their conquests. An occasional freight train rumbled down nearby tracks as we kids marveled at stars not visible back home. Sometimes, a puff of cool air bored through the wall of humidity, teasing us with anticipation of a brewing storm.

When bolts of electricity splintered the horizon in flashy zigzags, we’d count out the seconds until thunderous vibrations rattled the windows of the tiny farmhouse. Scooching closer together, Grandpa would captivate us with another tale — some more far-fetched than others — but any eyebrows raised in Grandma’s direction only elicited a collaborative grin. They did eventually own a television, but I never recall watching it. Even as children, we were astute enough to know what we’d be missing out on in the real world.

All these years later, the wisdom seeded in the heartland of my youth seems more relevant than ever:  Log off, power down, and cherish life’s golden moments because summertime slips away in a blink, and once the harvest arrives — We Can Never Go Back.

Postponing Life for a Braver Day…

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Ah, that exhilarating dream…

Abounding with infinite possibility

You courageously hover

Heart booming

Butterflies swarming

Unknowns blazing upon your cheeks

Yet you swallow, unflinchingly, against a cottony tongue

Reigning in skittered nerves

Harnessing the river of trepidation rushing from brain to toes

You’re empowered

TRULY ALIVE

Cascading through anxiety

Delving untethered into the wild blue yonder

Staring life squarely in the face

Invigorated by freedom so delectable

Willing the sensation to never end…

⚓️⚓️⚓️

…But the alarm clock jars

Severing your fantasy

Grating beeps lurching you back to reality

Into the greedy clutches of a well-known thief

Your mind spirals downward

Engaged in a dizzying battle with itself

Rooting you in place

Incessant “what ifs”

Serving as your rusty anchor for longer than you’d care to admit

Panic’s prisoner

Postponing Life for a Braver Day…

Knock Only if Expected!

 

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Strolling down my street recently, I noticed a sign posted on the cheery red door of my favorite house:  Knock Only if Expected! it implored, rattling my senses.

Now I understand not wanting to be heckled in your home, but what about the neighbor dropping by with freshly baked cookies or glorious bottle of wine, who simply wishes to make your acquaintance? How much is lost when social parameters are cordoned off so rigidly?

This question reverberated around my brain like ice water hurled into a steaming shower, leaving me to contemplate the times I’d carefully tweaked my external shell only to greet the public with “do not disturb” placarded across my demeanor. What breath-whisking scenarios swirled swiftly past, while I staunchly plodded forward with such a limiting disposition?

Of course no one wants to resemble a jack-in-the-box, head bobbing to-and-fro, and life demands a certain degree of focus — but surely I could peel back my blinders enough to welcome fortuity.

Because I’ve dwelled behind that shuttered door, and it was gregarious individuals extending hands without hesitation who resurrected my faith in humanity. Thanks to them I shall forever aspire, even if my knocks go unheeded, to maintain a boundless heart.

Knock Any Old Time!” I hope my body language proclaims with every step taken…

In Depth’s Absence, Impressions Still Endear

 

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As a novice kayaker, I assumed the best technique was to plunge my oar deeply, keeping it submerged as long as possible to maximize forward mobility. This strategy worked in short bursts but quickly drained my spindly limbs.

Fortunately, in preparation for an eight-hour jaunt around Kauai’s Na Pali Coast, our instructor taught us the swift and shallow approach. Loosely gripping our paddles with elbows extended as if a beach ball rested in our laps, we were to catch, propel, and release the water. Relying on core and leg muscles, I completed the trek without requiring rescue — which made me wonder whether poor form hindered other facets of my life?

Now, I’d been called “a bit intense” on more than a few occasions, so the concept of surfacy interactions seemed akin to dreaming in a foreign language. Yet, my “what’s-the-quinessential-meaning-of-life” tendencies prickled carefully guarded comfort zones. I started appreciating the ease with which others established speedy rapport and noticed how, even brief snippets of connectivity, still resonated.

These days, just as I study the tide and current tables before launching my kayak on the San Francisco Bay, I’m keenly cognizant of those who seek a buffer from overly animated, philosophical sorts like me. And, although the temptation to thrust my paddle well beneath the surface beckons, I gingerly reel myself back several notches — knowing:  In depth’s absence, impressions still endear.

Navigating the “Whys?”

 

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Whether by fate or another’s choice

Abandonment became your heritage

Navigating a lifetime of “whys?”

You carefully plotted your course without a safety net

A survivor’s do-or-die mentality

Primal determination shrouded deep voids

Stoic courage and steadfast optimism

Made it difficult to fathom the magnitude of your plight

Outwardly successful

You juggled stars others couldn’t even spy

Yet

When I met you

Weariness tempered your smile

Doubt swam in vulnerable eyes

I hesitated…

What if I let you down like so many before?

Was my heart big enough?

Would I prove worthy of your fragile trust?

Did I dare find out?

Yes!

Because even in your bleakest hour

Your vibrant soul shines a beacon of optimism in adversity’s face

Betrayed by those who should have cared

You soldier ahead each time

You planted trust’s seed and nurtured our blossoming love with such spirited tenacity

Gratitude floods my veins daily

So when your flesh and blood jams his foot through that door

The one you’re too gracious to close

Kicking you swiftly in the gut — yet again

My heart rages

Fists clenched in your defense

Frustrated tears turning to sobs

I can’t spare you from the torment

But with every cell I possess

I can stand by you

And it is here

I shall

Forever remain…


Exhaling in the Face of Panic

Mark would eventually convince me to become PADI certified in Tahiti (the things we do for love...)

I grew up with the nickname “Miss Priss.” If an activity involved strapping on special gear, sweating or otherwise messing up my hair — I happily cheered from the sidelines.

I claimed wine-drinking and sunset-watching as “hobbies.” So, when I met my husband and he conveyed his passion for “extreme sports” like sailing and scuba diving, I cringed.

Of course, given the choice between a relatively dry environment with cocktail provisions nearby or stuffing my body into a wetsuit, plastering a mask to my face, and plunging fifty feet underwater — Well, suffice to say, I quickly learned my way around a sailboat.

And while he explored his marine world, I’d idly await his tales from the safety of my beach lounger.

“It’s like being an astronaut down there. Peaceful and weightless, exploring places few will ever get to see,” he exclaimed upon his return one time, flashing a contagious smile.

I drained my Mai Tai, trying to lift the corners of my mouth, but shame enveloped me more thickly than my greasy sunblock layer.

Was I really going to let fear narrow my horizons?

And so it was that I found myself bobbing atop the Pacific Ocean several months later, after a bout of hyperventilation propelled me back to the surface. The dive instructor patiently counseled as I gagged on salt water.

“Never-ever take your regulator out of your mouth. Good. Relax. Excellent. Look at me. Now, I want you to hum ‘my-baby-does-the-hanky-panky’ as we gradually make our way…”

In no position to debate his sanity, I obliged. And, as this silly melody reverberated between my ears, something miraculous occurred: My lungs emptied at a controlled speed, and I refilled them generously in order to continue humming my new favorite tune.

And down I went.

Deeper and deeper.

Exhaling and inhaling in equal measure.

I ultimately earned my PADI certification, but knowing how to reign myself in from panic’s clutches would prove my greatest gain.

Fear shrinks lives daily — ruthlessly leaching possibility, destroying creativity, stalling momentum, and sowing endless doubt:

Have I exhausted all my good ideas?

The odds of success are as slim as being struck by lightning.

Surely I can express myself more succinctly.

Can I tweak my work — yet again — and capture the true essence THIS time?

Who cares what a flight attendant has to say?

Then I hear my dive master’s calming voice, and I fill my lungs to capacity.

Before

Ever-so-slowly

Exhaling…

Definition of a Day

 

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The span linking one midnight to the next

Earth’s full rotation

A lone card played from time’s thick deck

One thousand four-hundred and forty minutes

What is the definition of a day?

Many overflow with productivity

Some stand out as pinnacles of celebration

While others become hurdles to endure

Counting down the seconds until a new day dawns

Every 24-hour cycle presents an opportunity

 Wills yours be punctuated by a mere handful of exclamation points

Strung together by tedious dashes?

Or will you greet each sunrise with the ravenous curiosity of a child?

As the moments trickle to an end,

Will your lives be a compilation of daring strides?

Or timid steps?

When the bells toll her final song

That choice will have been each of ours to make

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