Christmas Gorilla 

Once upon a time there was a small gorilla who believed in Santa Claus.

And so every Christmas he would put on his Santa hat and his bright red boxer shorts.


Each evening during Advent, he would sit down with his iPad and write a letter to Santa:

Dear Santa, (He would begin)

I am writing you a letter on behalf of someone I know who really needs a Christmas present.  She has everything she needs of course, but I”m sure you can come up with an appropriate gift.  Look into her heart and see what she has always wanted, please.

Sincerely, 

The Christmas Bear

Santa was confused, of course.  He was used to Christmas letters requesting toys, video games, bicycles, dolls and such, but this was a new one. The Christmas Bear? (He looks like a little gorrila in the picture above) And who was this little girl who was to receive this precious present? where does she live? How do I find out what she dearly wants?

So he wrote him back asking these questions.

Dear Christmas Bear,

I received your letter filled with warmth and love, but who is this little girl? Is she someone close to you? Someone you obviously care for and have empathy and compassion for. I must know more about her to be able to identify what she has always wanted.

Yours,

Santa Claus

The little gorilla pondered this letter from Santa and worried about how to tell him about this wonderful woman (50 years old) who had suddenly made such a difference in his life.  She was 9,000 miles away. She was a single mom of 4 children and took time to help the world on YouTube!

She knew about fitness, sleep meditation, yoga, healthy diet and much more that she shared in her YouTube vlogs, her blogs, her books and herself on several social internet sites.

She was like, OUT THERE!

So he wrote back,

Dear Santa,

It’s me, the Christmas Bear again. In answer to your questions,

Yes, I am intimately acquainted with her through something called ASMR, a whispered meditation, and she always talks directly to me; never too busy to ask how I am doing: how I’m sleeping; how I’m getting along in my relationships, how I’m decluttering and setting up happy rituals at bedtime.

She has come back from a traumatic divorce, takes care of her kids like a guardian angel, and still takes time to talk to me.

I live in Oregon. she lives in Australia.

Sincerely,

The Christmas Bear

Now Santa was intrigued. He was having some fitness and diet issues as well as some trouble sleeping. Again he wrote back to the Christmas Bear,

Dear Christmas Bear,

Boy Howdy, does your friend sound like someone special.  Yes, I can deliver to Australia. If you tell me her name I will watch some of her YouTube videos so I can get to know her too. 

Could you tell me her name?

Yours,

Santa Claus

The little gorilla felt like he was manifesting a Christmas surprise!

Dear Mr. Claus,

Her name is Lauren Ostrowski Fenton, wait let me check the spelling. No, it’s correct (I often get it wrong).

We are close personal friends, I just know it.

Thank you for all your help. It’s in your hands now.

Love,

The Christmas Bear. 

PS I just hope she will come to America sometime.

– Small town boy

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In the Dark of the Morning

In the dark of the morning,

In the cool of the night,

My life begins anew each day.

My heart searches you out

To be reassured that you will

Be with me today.

You are not a morning person, I know,,

And I believe in early to bed and early to rise

Makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.

So your day ends after mine,

And my day begins without you.

Be that as it may, I enjoy the dark morning,

Hoping the sky is clear and the moon is out

And Orion is walking the skies.

I am alone now, but soon

You will wake and ask for coffee

And a NutriSystems little bag of granola,

And my day will begin again,

With you in it.

A touch, a smile, a joke, a text,

Or an update on world events,

And we are synched again,

My heart beats with you,

And I feel you with me

As I go to Fitness Over Fifty

For my morning exercise,

Leaving you to see the grandchildren off to school.

I’m not with you tonight,

But this dark morning, in the cool of the night,

My heart finds you,

Sleeping,

And dreaming of when

We’re together again.

– Small town boy

The Foolish

The fool archetype:

The Fool/Jester archetype urges us to enjoy the process of our lives. Although the Fool/Jester can be prone to laziness and dissipation, the positive Fool/Jester invites us all out to play–showing us how to turn our work, our interactions with others, and even the most mundane tasks into FUN.

http://www.uiltexas.org/files/capitalconference/Twelve_Character_Archetypes.pdf

If I am foolish,

I jump out of the box,

I push the envelope.

I am creative.

Humor is my life’s blood.

Shame has no place in my foolish world.

To be quiet is not foolish.

You’re not foolish when you are in a rut.

The foolish are shocking, startling, and unexpected.

Share your foolishness with others, with the world.

I cannot love foolishly, for with each effort I lapse into sincerity, obligation, and deceit.

Who loves a fool ? Everyone.

Who wants to appear foolish? No one.

Let go! Let go! Let go!

Do one foolish thing right now.

I am writing a foolish poem right now.

I’m smiling and feeling happiness.

I love the fool in me, and all the things he does, right or wrong.

Do you think me a fool for telling you this?

– Small town boy

Comingling the entanglements 

Just one entanglement is enough.

two is too many, I think.

Two entanglements distract from your intent.

three entanglements, if they know each other,

Comingle. Comingle in my heart. Comingle in my life.

then what happens?

In the best of all possible worlds,

We would all get along,

But then we wouldn’t call them entnglements,

Would we?

Why is it the entanglements don’t

Get entangled, even when they are comingled?

could it be tht they are supposed to mingle, co mingle?

Do they untangle then? Are they not entanglements any longer.

What was it that decreased the tanglements?

With each one involved comes the chance to enjoy the other.

With enjoyment among the participants entanglements 

Turn into enjoyment.

Enjoyment of the love within each of us.

Love to share and not entangle, yes?

So comingling, and honesty, permits love sharing.

Try it.

– Small town boy

If I said that I love you…

If I said that I love you
I would be wrong,
Wrong headed,
Wrong thinking.
Because it would imply that I have strong feelings for you,
Feelings I would have called love.
My feelings that became strong when you are around or,
When I thought of you.
Let me suggest that love is not a feeling that I have, but
Something, some force, that has me, always.
So when I say that I love you,
What I mean is that my love acknowledges you as one it desires,
And jumps to my attention so that I must tell you.
And when your love acknowledges me and my love,
We, both of us, are IN love, together.
And so, when we are admonished to love one another,
I think it means for each of us to recognize the love that exists in the other,
And act on it.
We don't acknowledge gravity by falling.
It exists whether we do so or not.
Love is like that.
Love exists whether we feel it or not.
So?
So respect it, acknowledge it, and act on it.
Love is for us all, you, me, that person over there and the person next to you.
You can start by giving them a gift:
Listen.
And then give them another:
Speak your truth.
And feed them and hug them and offer safety and comfort.
I'm not kidding.
Love demands this of you.
You are the only you in the whole of creation.
You are the only one who can do what you do.
The only one who sees what you see.
When you love, you share this uniqueness with another, an other.
And they share with you.
So, I'm not saying I love you anymore.
I'm saying that I share my love with you.
Yes?
– Small town boy

My love receiver

I would be lying

I would be lying if I said I didn’t care.

If I said it didn’t hurt.

I would be lying if I pretended not to notice you there.

Lying to myself, because it is readily apparent to you

That I love you.

I don’t know how you know and how it’s hidden from me some days.

Each day begins with you; you’re on my mind and in my heart, so

I guess I know too that you love me.

Why would I be lying if I spoke roughly to you?

How would I be lying if I said some unkind word?

When would I be lying if I didn’t tell you each day how much you mean to me.

Let me not wait till you’ve gone to state my truth to you each waking hour.

Let me not lie to myself that I am without you.

Let me say how much you do each day for our family, our marriage, our home.

Let me not lie.

There is no time for it.

– Small town boy

Donna’s birthday party

I wept, several times.

I wept when I saw Sarah and Harvey, Gladys’s grown up children.

The last regret she told me just before she passed in 1984 was that she wouldn’t be here as Sarah and Harvey grew up.

But Sarah, now a nurse in intensive care with children of her own, looked so much like her mother, and I felt Gladys had come to the party for her younger sister’s 80th birthday.

I couldn’t keep my eyes off of her, and I wept.

I wept when I saw my grand niece Haylee who was recovering from an auto collision (she showed me the X-ray) of a broken pelvis (pinned back together) and an almost severed spine which would have left her a paraplegic.

And I wept, not for her injuries as terrible as they were, but for her bravery, resilience, and youthful beauty.

She has grown a lot since she came with Donna to the Oregon coast for a visit and made a glass heart in Lincoln City. Her fight with this traumatic injury was lessened somewhat (she told me) because she was a dancer.

I agreed and later told her father, my nephew Bruce, Donna’s eldest, that I thought it was not only her physicality, but her attitude that served her recovery.

I wept a second time hugging this fragile but enduring, tenacious eighteen year old. Her strength gave me strength (I’m weeping again as I write).

I wept when my brothers, Ron and Don, showed up,with Ron’s wife Pat. I thought he was angry with me for changing my last name from Meskimen to McAnelly because of father issues.

He told me he had contacted each of his sons, Eric and Paul, asking them if he had ever done anything so bad as to piss them off and change their last names?

And then he invited me to Loveland for a sleep over Thursday. I have not been to his house since he had moved there from his retirement house in Estes Park a few years ago.

Well, you know what I did, a little bit.

I spent a lot of time with Susan, Bruce’s wife and Haylee’s step mom, with whom I have not conversed for years but with whom I share an interest in geneology. She said she was using it to find a lost relative.

Susan is a caregiver for Stephen who was with her. I had a long talk with Stephen, who would take awkward notes to help him remember details of what was said.

When I was telling Stephen and Susan about my efforts (unsuccessful so far) to be a better listener, Stephen gave me some advice: you are giving that person a ‘gift’ when you listen completely to them. I told him he had just reversed my attitude 180° with that one word, “gift.”

This party was like the gathering of friends and family at a funeral, but without the death.

I also laughed while I was at the party. I laughed with my brother Donald about our spaghetti dinner in Louisville a few years ago. I laughed at the birthday cake with the number 21 in candles on the top. I laughed when everyone put their name tags on Paul.

It was a great party for my beloved sister who was turning 80.

Later I read her the story I had written for her called “Donna and me.” (But when I tried to print it out for her, I sent it to the wrong printer and the lady at the desk one floors down gave it to us when we went down for dinner.)

Before I close I should also mention the popularity of my kilt, especially among the older women. Several talked to me at length about their own Scottish heritage, tartans, and then asked if I play bagpipes. No one asked what clothing I had on beneath my kilt, not even my brother.

I smiled.

-Small town boy

Donna and me

My sister Donna will be 80 in two days.

I will be 76 this summer.

But our relationship goes back to Fremont, NE in 1944, my first memory, of a hot sidewalk, bare feet and my sister.

I remember her kindness in 1948, or so, when she threw me a surprise birthday party, keeping me upstairs till all the guests arrived, in Coleridge NE.

She was always a step ahead of me. In Fort Collins, CO, in the fifties, she played drums; I played trombone. 

“Was I Donna’s brother?” People would ask.

Yes I was.

She led the way in good grades, comportment, and beauty. I was a far second.

Admiring her from afar, celebrating her goodness, beauty and kindnesses (especially toward me).

We did get into a little trouble together when she let me drive our old ’36 Buick Victoria, (at age 15) and I drove through a stop sign on to a highway and we got hit. She quickly switched seats with me before the state police arrived.  No one was hurt. No one knew this story till now.

She went off to St Luke’s in Denver for nursing school and left me to fen for myself.

When she wed Jack, I was devastated. My sister with another man. Married.

I got over it.

When I got divorced in 1971, she was concerned. When She got divorced a few years later, we understood each other.

Later after her second husband died from suicide, we were told a family secret: our father had not died from heart failure in 1950 as we had been told, but had committed suicide.

Donna was living in “the Springs” (Colorado Springs) on Tesla. Every time I made it to Colorado from where I was living in Oregon, “the Springs” had increased its radius by another mile.

As it grew, Donna grew, moving her nursing career into a business, and become a – Republican!

As a liberal Democrat myself I cringed at her bumper stickers when I was visiting. Reagan? Bush? (I haven’t seen her car this year to know if there’s a Trump b.s. on it).

Always cordial and welcoming, she welcomes me again.

I love you Donna, my sister.

Happy Birthday!

– Small town boy 

Security or Balance?

I noticed, when going downstairs while using the handrail,

That I don’t cling to it for safety/security,

But I lean on the handrail,

For balance.

And, as always, I seek the metaphor for life, my life.

I think security/safety is important for a stable life, but

It is balance I seek for a meaningful life.

Balance is often thought of as a teeter totter between two members of a dichotomy:

Good/evil, fit/unfit, religious/atheist, etc.

But there are no dichotomies; there are three or more forces involved in each problem.

As a physics teacher, I believe in force vectors, in which the sum of each force AND their directions determines your movement.

Unattended, forces are exerted, causing movement.

And so what reaction to these forces do you perceive?

A. Nothing, I am blown by forces not of my making.

B. Resist the impinging forces by my own personal strength.

C. Seek balance, seek to balance forces with other forces that act in opposition or in replacement of forces arrayed to place stress in my life.

For me this balance comes in the form of meditation, jigsaw puzzles and bike rides.

Walks in the beach, turning off cable news, spiritual practices, walking with the dog etc. offer balance to my stressors.

Hugs, cuddling, touch, kisses, are powerful forces in this regard.

And so, instead moving according to forces I don’t control,

I sit quietly as the whirlwinds if life,

Not fighting,

Just leaning 

In a direction that

Gives me balance.

It is this balance that sustains me in the face of trauma,

Like death of a loved one, illness, surgery, motor accident, addiction, and so on and so on.

Balance, and God,

And my wife of forty five years.

Love is a great balancing agent.

I see others, people who don’t have balance,

And I can’t give them balance,

I can only be sure that I am balanced.

Can you see?

That I am balanced?

And not teetering?

Sometimes, sometimes, I teeter,

When I teeter I know what to do,

Seek balance, find equilibrium,

And go on to the next event.

– Small town boy