Category Archives: Uncategorized

My God Story

Several weeks ago something happened that made such an impact I have to share it.  Please — share your own stories or comments of hope and faith after reading my story.

It was a sunny and bright Saturday morning, finally looking like spring.  So I put $40 in the front pocket of my capris and off I went to visit some local tag sales (aka garage or estate sales for those of you who don’t know).  Should I put the money in my pocket?  The question came and went quickly:  Yes it would be fine; I knew I would be careful.  No problem!

Going to tag sales with my 14 year old is really no fun, as he says no to everything I want to buy.  I admit that these are not items I need, but they’re cool.  They’re fun.  He reminds me of my rule:  “for each item that comes into our home, something else must go out.” Ah well, we left the first tag sale empty handed.

At the next home, there was a great dress for only $5 –a “Vegas dress” — that was awesome but wouldn’t quite fit yet…nope, I had to leave without that too.  This was really a drag.  The last sale we visited was in our town, a home in which the owner’s elderly parents had passed away.  My son stayed in the car this time, impatient with my desire to browse.  Yay – freedom!  

I saw the debris of a lifetime in this home.  It reminded me of my parents and in-laws homes when we had to clear them out.  I’m always a bit melancholy to see the “stuff” that at one time meant so much to someone reduced to boxes full of clutter.  I vow not to make my children go through this.  But until then, I thoroughly enjoyed looking through Christmas decorations, electronics, glassware, — all the stuff that will one day mark the end of an era for me.  

While paying for my new treasures, I reached into my pocket and found…no money!  I searched the places I had looked, but had no luck.  Despite telling myself that $40 wasn’t that much, that whoever found the money must need it more than me, I just couldn’t let it go.  Needless to say, my son was quite upset with me.  So after dropping him off at home, I went back to the first sale, which was at a church, hoping there was an honest soul around.  No luck.  At the second one, the lady said she saw the money sticking out of my pocket when I left, and that she almost mentioned it.  At least I knew I had the money when I left!  As a surprise bonus, she sold me the “Vegas dress” for a mere $3, the only money I had in my wallet.  Some deserved consolation!

Off to the final tag sale we had been to.  I went directly to the owner to check one more time before giving up. Voila!  He pulled the $40 out of his back pocket.  He was going to try to contact me, but here I was.  Then he pointed to the young man who found the money.  He was 13 years old, and a bit embarrassed by the attention he was getting.  I introduced myself, shook his hand and told him that his integrity and honesty would take him far.  That he had done something that many wouldn’t, and that he had restored my faith in humanity in a big way.  I gave him $5 (I’m kinda cheap, okay) and the homeowner gave him his choice of goodies from the sale.  It was obvious this kind young man didn’t understand why we were making such a big deal about this, as he was just doing the right thing.  His grandmother did though; she was beaming.  As I left the sale, holding back tears, I thanked God for showing me hope.  That amidst all the crazy, dishonest events in our world, there was still hope.  And to find it in youth was an added bonus.  Thank you God, Buddha, Great Spirit  — whomever you choose to call this higher power — for this example of honesty.  It arrived at just the right time.

One Year Later

Thanks to my dear friend and fellow writer Richard F for the encouragement to write about where I am one year later, as it’s been that long since I’ve written.  Without those who care to remind me of what’s really important, I’d be even more lost than I currently feel.

Taking a full time job (45 hours/week average), commuting time, homework with my 7th grader (who will make it to 8th grade despite my absences and interventions), food shopping, cooking and cleaning, paying bills, getting to meetings and therapy, break-ups and make-ups, doctor appointments and health concerns, traveling, cars and trucks and ATVs…it’s a full life!  And I really am grateful for these “luxury” problems.  But..as a single parent, without someone to talk to and share these daily concerns, I feel truly alone.  And overwhelmed.  Sad and grateful, lonely despite too much input, happy to be learning more about myself and often upset about what I learn.  I’m also finding that my new self description of being single instead of being a widow brings a set of issues I haven’t considered for decades.  And that I really sucked at them 25+ years ago too.  This part of the journey isn’t as much fun as I thought it would be.  Because all of this stuff going on means I’M GROWING.  Although it’s quite uncomfortable at times, and gloriously fulfilling at others, at the root of it all is that change, while the only fact of life that’s consistent (as those damn happy self-help gurus profess) is still pretty difficult to live with.

So I’m here to report and to check on my own progress.  Because it is progress even if it doesn’t feel like it.  My more than full time job has taught me that I am still teachable, and that the structure of a job and being around people is something I love, maybe even require.  Plus it’s had some really great benefits:  travel to Brazil, working closely with someone I admire and respect and financial rewards.  Commuting, awareness that I expect way more of myself than anyone else does (yes, I know I’ve heard this from lots of you but now I get it myself), lack of mental energy for my family and financial rewards are the downside of this job as well.  Because how can you give up those financial rewards to spend more time with your family, travel, garden, read, have spa days and just be more free?  Just be?

These are the questions that I’m encountering, some of them not for the first or even the 12th time.  So my search for love, happiness and fulfillment continue.  The knowledge that I’m not alone keeps me going.  And having written this little essay brings the realization that the practice of writing helps me stay in touch with what’s inside, and what really matters to me.  It isn’t perfectly written, and I will not proofread it again, because life is imperfect, just like me.

In conclusion:  My 83 year old Aunt Mary from Pennsylvania just called to give me some information which I think just might be the answer to most, if not all of my life’s issues.  Duct Tape.  Gonna give it a try.

The Examined Life and Personal Growth

Hello to my fellow travelers on this road called life!  Haven’t written in a while because life keeps changing and keeps me busy.  I’m told by those older than me that I should enjoy this time, as when kids get older and don’t want or need your company much due to busy lives of their own, all the spare time that looks so tempting now will not be quite as attractive.  So, I am stealing a bit of time for myself — it’s time to get back to the real me!

The real me…who exactly is that?  There are so many components of my life, and sometimes it feels like they don’t overlap. Mother, daughter, friend, supporter, housekeeper (oh yes, this likely falls under the mother component), single parent, widow, teacher, skin care/cosmetics consultant, person in recovery, and the latest addition:  employed person.  I have finally accepted an offer of a permanent J-O-B as we say in Mary Kay. If you know me at all, you’ll be aware that I really don’t want to work full time…at least not 52 weeks per year! Just seems like too much of a commitment, kind of like marriage:  easier to get into than to get out of if you’ll pardon my analogy.  However, this position found me, and it felt good, so, I accepted.  And I’m grateful, and happy for the opportunity and all that stuff that one is supposed to be for a job in this day and age.

However, it is bringing up (once again) certain issues, concepts, ideas, whatever you’d like to call them, that are uncomfortable and thought provoking, so I’ll air these ideas here and solicit feedback.  These feelings seem to be leading me on a quest: to learn more about my shadow self (thank you C.G. Jung) and how to become aware of and embrace some of these less attractive qualities — understatement — about myself.  For example, I’m a bit ashamed to say (the other half of me, that shadow self, is laughing about it) that the other day I realized I wanted to trash some business-related items of a woman I don’t love so much!.  Whoa!  I didn’t do it (yet, smiley face), and now I see that there’s something here in this idea that bears examining.  Not because I’ve considered doing something mean or wrong, but to realize the possibility that there is some quality behind this thought that, reworked, can benefit me and perhaps evolve into a more productive quality.  At this time I have no idea of what that is, but I’ll keep investigating and let you know.  To address this, I’ve obtained several books by C.G. Jung and a few by other authors.  The one I’ve just started is titled “Shadow Dance” by David Richo.  It has sparked a number of ideas for me, among them the following, to be expanded upon in later posts:

Growing past my stopping point

The birth of Self-Sabotage

What happened to having fun?

I hate minutuae and doing tasks I don’t remotely care about

How can I make a real difference in this world?

What happened to travel, writing, spa days and relaxation?

Amidst these deep life questions, life just keeps moving on. For example:  My son just turned 18, is graduating from HS and has a job, a girlfriend (he’s silent on this point, so it must be true), college and a bright future ahead of him.  He also no longer needs me as much and is, I’m becoming aware, a bit of a stranger to me these days.

What?  I’m no longer required — allowed — to be the person I knew myself to be?  How about this: ” Do you dare to consider loving the things you have hated your whole life?” (D. Richo, Shadow Dance Introduction. First damn sentence actually!)  Well, yes, I believe I can be open to this.  And to the fact that although it is Sunday, there is some work to be done from that J-O-B I mentioned.  That is one of the things I have hated my whole life; having do to stupid, detail oriented work that I just don’t want to do; especially regarding a topic like how many core brands, images, statements that our client’s product has in six different countries.  How does this make a difference in the world?

And here’s the worst part:  I already know the answer to this question.  Because doing the things you don’t want to do is how you grow. If I grow, I can become the person I’m meant to be, That’s how I can make a difference in the world.  And how’s this for synchronicity: this month’s calendar affirmation states: “You can have what you want, do what you dream, and brave what you fear if you first see it done in your mind.” And I actually had just a glimpse of that this morning:  A pretty Excel spreadsheet, with all the information required filled in and completed.  Then I saw myself in NYC next Sunday at a Julia Cameron conference about “The Right to Write”, and her signing my copy of her book.  (She is my personal growth guru right now, together with C.G. Jung.)  Wow. Although these images were only for a split second, it was there!  And it’s a start.  Just like skipping my exercise class this morning to write this was a start on recovering a part of myself.

Following is a fit closing for today’s post, by my friend C.G. Jung:  We meet ourselves time and again in a thousand disguises on the path of life.”

And now I really am grateful.

The Craft of Self-Care (And How a Birthday Party Gave Me a New Perspective)

Almost three weeks ago, I had the opportunity to join several women at a birthday party. It was for Alicia’s birthday, and was being held at a place very close to my heart:  a day spa at a casino an hour or so from my home.

The story of how Alicia and her sister Marlisa and I met is just one of the important lessons in this story.

But first, a bit of background.  For a few years now, I have been utilizing the “day spa” concept of self-care.  When life gets to be too much and I want to run and hide, I do it at this spa.  No expensive treatments are necessary; just me, my books, journals, pens and my cell phone (have to be a responsible Mom) and I give myself a full day free to do whatever I choose! Mostly I steam, jacuzzi and sauna myself into a semi-vegetative state of relaxation.

One day, I struck up a conversation with a woman who was doing a series of stretches while in the steam room.  Ya know how you can just tell that you have a lot in common? That’s how it was. Later that day, in the locker room, I again ran into Alicia who was with her sister Marlisa. We had so much to talk about:  how I was exploring writing and started a blog utilizing my pen name; that they marketed their 98 year old grandfather’s book (check out their website at afishermanslanguage.com) and that they also made a practice of taking spa days, among other things. “Why don’t you come to my birthday party next month?” Alicia asked.  “It’s going to be right here at the spa. There will be some other women coming.  It will be fun.”  So I said “Yes, that sounds great!”  Well, no shocker here, I forgot all about it.  So imagine my surprise when I found a comment on my blog site from Alicia saying how they had been trying to contact me to remind me of her party!

This brings me to the first important lesson I learned:  that when we meet people we often don’t consider the effect we have on them; that we mean something to them that we cannot even imagine.  They were excited to meet a friendly stranger who was more similar to them than different. I lived a good distance away and had different life experiences, yet we all felt a common bond. Writing, yoga, exercise and recovery are just a few things we learned about each other at that first meeting.

Which leads me to the next concept.  Alicia and her sister helped me see myself in a different light.  What they remembered about me was that I was a writer — and they located me based on my pen name!  While I think of myself as a woman, a mother and a lot of other things before being a writer, that was primarily how they saw me!  At the party (for which Alicia pulled out all the stops, another enlightening experience), the ladies who attended all said “Oh, so this is Katy!”  My goody bag (what fun things were inside there!) was labeled with “Katy Starr”. These ladies only knew me as Katy, the writer that their friends met on their last visit to the spa.

I was blown away by the freedom I felt at being somehow different than the me I am used to. It offered a new perspective on myself.  And another new idea emerged: the life I have l lived does NOT need not be remotely similar to the one that lies in front of me, one day at a time.  How I see myself, my perspective on life makes all the difference. And I wouldn’t have had these revelations without attending the birthday party.

Last, but certainly not least was the party itself. Alicia arranged a beautiful and delicious spread both for us, and for herself. It was another learning and growing experience to see a woman throw her own party — an excellent idea!  I’m sure she had help (just look at the photos) but how inspiring to see a woman show that she values her life and her friends. How often have I hoped and wished that someone would throw a party for me, to show their recognition of me, of my life.  Being a woman and mother are sometimes unappreciated roles; though our families do no doubt value us, it isn’t shown as often as we would like.  In addition, we often care for others before allowing ourselves self-care.

I’m sure I’m not alone when I say what a wonderful time I had that day.  Meeting like minded ladies, great conversation and food, facials in the sauna, conditioning our hair, and just having a relaxing girlie day…I couldn’t ask for more.

Thank you Alicia for being you!  Also for showing me a new way of seeing myself!  Though it was your birthday, I believe I am the one who got the best gift.  Until our next spa day, I wish one and all

Blessings,

Katy Starr

G Spa Party Photo #1G Spa Party Photo #3 G Spa Party Photo #2

It is with mixed emotions that I end this phase of my journey of 2014.  So much is now behind me; so many important things, people, events.  There’s definitely a part of me that wants to stay right here because it’s comfortable — sort of wading, hanging out in the past.  In a way, that is what I’ve been doing for the past few years.  And, I am now aware, it’s where I’ve needed to be.  Making peace with yesterday has for me been a necessary step.  So now, I am moving forward — completing what I can and leaving the rest.  Just leaving it.  Not burying it, stuffing or ignoring it.  Just leaving it where it sits, like items I’m giving to charity, waiting for them to be picked up and removed.  Because I don’t need or want them any longer, I’m giving them away.

The future looms, not in an ominous way, more like a path through a forest or an open highway.  It’s there, just waiting for me to take it.  There are roads veering off the the right and left, some dead ends and some leading to an entirely different road.  Of course I don’t know where they lead, and that’s part of the fun, the excitement.  It’s all a choice — a big, wonderful choice!  And because I have The One holding my hand throughout each step, encouraging me to take the next step, I trust that I’ll be taken care of, I’ll be safe.

There’s so much to learn; so much more to be revealed.  I’m excited!  And I’m not alone.  There are many like me out here, walking in this world.  Walking with hope and trust.  Taking that next step with less fear, and lots more faith.

Happy 2015!

 

“You’re not the only one with mixed emotions.  You’re not the only ship adrift on this ocean.”                        Mixed Emotions, Rolling Stones                                                                 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JLx-xdBMJTA

 

Joy!

How many words can you find to express your pleasure in the day?  Here’s a few of mine:

Gratitude                      Confidence                             Faith                               Hope

Choice                               Forgiveness                        Health                          Friendship

Love                                 Kindness                                Harmony                       Passion

Appreciation                    Blessings                                Peace                            Energy

Creativity                         Opportunity                          Health                            Family

 

Make it a great day.

Namaste.

Living Without a Net

No one said life was going to be fair.  Or easy, for that matter.  But it’s what we’ve got and we deal with it the best we can, right?

From getting up in the morning knowing you have to go to a job you just don’t love, to kids, family, co-workers, traffic  jams, new illnesses and diseases to be concerned about …whatever your particular challenge,  it’s fair to say that others have been through it also.  Some handle it with more grace and ease than others, certainly.  And the extremity of our situations varies.  Speaking for myself, I have experienced all the above mentioned situations and then some.  For years, I’ve put one foot in front of the other, going through the motions only to be faced with the same situation the next day.  Sometimes, soldiering through another day just doesn’t seem possible.  Then one day the big realization occurred:  Things and situations don’t just change.  It is ME who has to change in order to change the circumstances!

I wish I could say that this revelation happened overnight, but that’s just not true.  For me, situations often become pretty unbearable before I become convinced that I can do something about them.  People, books, radio programs, lyrics, etc. all say that change must begin with me.  Yes, yes, that’s all well and good…for you.  But me, I need some reassurance, some guarantee, something that can convince me that everything will work out all right.

The wait can be quite long before these reassurances appear.  In fact, sometimes they don’t appear at all.  So, when the pain of not changing becomes worse than the pain of staying the same, I have jumped in and moved forward, without much of a clue as to how things will work out.

I call this living life without a net.

Since I made the choice not to work in a traditional job full time, things have worked out pretty well.  We still have a roof over our heads, and enough food and clothing. Cars, gas and paying the bills on time are where I feel the most challenged.  However, I’m here to report that I am a much happier person for making many difficult changes.

And most importantly, I’ve learned that I actually have what is most important for living without a net:  Faith.

Namaste.

So far, it’s worked out pretty well.

On Being Vulnerable

This topic of vulnerability keeps coming up.  In the last 4 days it has been discussed in the novel I’m reading, at several meetings I’ve attended and while having coffee with friends.  I’ve selected and discarded this theme several times as it is not one of my favorite subjects.  So, when it came up again this morning in another book I’m reading, I knew I could no longer push it away.  I had to admit my feelings out (i.e., become vulnerable).

As I’ve said many times in the past, becoming or being vulnerable was never my goal.  My late husband (of 18+ years) said, with some bitterness, “You don’t allow yourself to be vulnerable with me.”  Never one without a sarcastic retort, I responded “Why should I be?  Every time I do, I get crushed.”  This was my perspective at the time.  Perhaps it was a self-fulfilling prophecy.

My new perspective, however, is this:  Real, deep growth occurs ONLY when I allow myself to be vulnerable.

From acknowledging the loss of a friendship, the pain caused by a careless remark, or a promise or intention not kept, to the passing of those we care about, admitting these upsets and hurts  — first to myself and then to others — makes me vulnerable.  Loss, painful as it may be and combined with the other emotions it exposes, actually is a catalyst for change and growth.  It puts us in touch with our deeper self.  As Julia Cameron says:

“Loss cracks our hard outer shell and exposes our vulnerability.  And, exposed, we find our vulnerability is a source of strength.”

This is precisely what is happening to me. Since Tim passed 4 years ago, my Creator has presented me the opportunity to explore my self.  I have worked on this in a number of ways, and I can say with certainty that I am now a happier, better adjusted person for the effort.  As my friend said yesterday:  “I’ve known you for years, and our conversation has been on a rather superficial level.  You’ve changed.”

And for the better!  The path I’m now on offers me the chance to be and to do things I barely dared dream of before.  Becoming vulnerable, despite my protestations, has been the impetus.  Who knew?  Alas, he journey of self-discovery continues!  Please, join me in The Journey by following me on Twitter @katystarr6.  Namaste.

Fear, Faith & the “One Day at a Time Plan”

Greetings from sunny New England, USA.

Today my son started middle school. Wow.  The passage of time, as many have said before me, is just remarkable.  Wasn’t it just recently he started kindergarten?  And tomorrow, another child starts his senior year in high school.  It’s silly, I know, but I’m already thinking about what it will be like when he goes to college or otherwise moves on.

This my friends, is called projection.  Instead of living in today and appreciating it for what it offers, I live in the past (wondering what happened to the time or what I could have done differently) or the future (what will become of me when my children move on).  With one foot in the past and the other in the future, what happens with today?  This is why the present is called a gift.

So today, I am consciously making a decision to look at my life, and where I am today.  I am grateful for lots of things:  No longer must I awake each morning to go to a J-O-B that I despise.  Of course, I do what has to be done to pay those bills, which often involves doing what I’d rather not do.  My children and I are healthy, we have a roof over our heads and enough food to eat.  In case this sounds corny, remember that there are many on this earth, even here in our own country, who do not have these basics.

Which leads me to where I am today.  I now choose to craft my life around what I have just recently admitted I really want:  to write and to share my experience and hope with others.  This desire has always been in my heart, it has just taken me a few decades to admit it.  And that’s okay.  I choose to have faith and believe that I am supported by powers much greater than myself. 

Where will this new path lead?  Don’t know. There are no guarantees.  I will, however, put one foot in front of the other with trust and move forward. Today, I will acknowledge my fear and move through it.  Just taking it one day at a time and living to the best of my ability in this moment is the best way to appreciate this gift of life.

Waiting For the Right Moment

Greetings!

Today is the day I’ve chosen to start my blog and I’m nervous,  maybe even terrified.

I’d like to say “terrified” is too strong a word, but perhaps not.  The right photo must be located, the topic of the day selected, there are lots of other things to do…Help!  And just like that, my topic has presented itself.  I need not wait for the perfect moment to begin something.  As some say, the lights are not all going to be green at the same time.  Waiting for everything to be in place, at least for me, means I may never take the first step.  So where I am right this moment is the place to start.

This form of perfectionism has stopped me in my tracks many, many times.

The journey begins exactly where we are right now, with one small step. So pause, smile and proceed!  Remove the need to do it all perfectly, and just do the next right thing to the best of your ability.