My Grandmother’s House

My grandparents bought their house when my dad was a kid. My grandfather lifted the house off the ground with a crane to dig the basement and gutted the house with his bare hands, to make it their own. My grandmother’s house hasn’t been her house for over 20 years. The house is still in the family and has been remodeled with as much hard work and love as my grandfather put in to it all those years ago. I’ve brought my husband and children to the house, after it was no longer my grandmother’s house. It looks good. Different. Many years later I still remember how it looked though, when I was a little girl.

The house had an L shaped porch with a nice size front window. I remember running up the steps to get to the door. The screen door had a nice metal design. Woven in the metal was the first letter of my maiden name. The door had several dead bolt locks. My father used to call it Fort Knox. The front hallway had a hollow sounding floor and I often wondered if I stomped hard enough if I’d fall through the floor. The front hallway let out into the dining room. There were two bedrooms off the dining room. The living room was in the front of the house. Straight through the dining room from the front hallway was the kitchen. Behind the kitchen was a bathroom, another bedroom, the basement steps and the back door. The top floor had a little apartment where my grandmother’s sister and brother lived. The house smelled as every other Italian household does, like sauce, like home. I adored my grandparents and I loved being there with them.

My grandmother was the fourth child born to Sicilian Immigrants. There were five boys and three girls. My grandmother as the oldest girl was the matriarch of her family. Her house was always open to family so naturally her siblings congregated at my grandmother’s house. Even though I called them Aunt or Uncle, they were like having more grandparents and that was really cool. Several of my grandmother’s siblings were serious card players. They’d gather on Friday nights and some Sundays after dinner at my grandmother’s house to play cards. My grandmother never played in the big complicated, competitive card games. She only played the smaller card games with her sisters, my cousins, my brother and I. My grandmother would whisper in our ears not to laugh when one of them had a bad hand or announce what cards everyone had in their hands. We had to quietly observe. Sometimes we’d snicker though. My grandmother’s brother’s wife liked to instigate and egg the card sharks on and they’d get annoyed at her and all of them would start bickering. I begged them for years to deal me into that game. Finally I was allowed to play at age 15.

As the years passed, the card game began to shrink as my grandfather died and my grandmother’s siblings began to die. My grandmother died in 2005 and was the sixth of her siblings to die. Her youngest brother died four years later. Yesterday, the final sibling, my grandmother’s sister passed away at age 97 peacefully of natural causes. I have no doubt that when my aunt got to heaven yesterday, her siblings were there to deal her into their favorite card game once again.

My grandparent’s generation of our family represents the first generation of American born Sicilians and they played a significant role in helping shape my generation, the third generation grow into who we are as American born Sicilians. They are now all gone and the simplicity of life as we knew it back then, no longer exists.  Even though I’m an adult and married with children, part of me is still that little girl who couldn’t wait to get to her grandparents house to watch those card games and be with that generation and part of their world.

If you picture it like a scene on a stage where the lights are shining on one particular setting, that setting would be of my grandmother and her siblings in her dining room playing cards. It is one of my favorite memories,  frozen in time, in my heart forever. Those card games not only represented a favorite past time, but a gathering of family, the love they had for each other and how they enjoyed spending time together. As for the passing of my aunt. Sure I miss her but I’m happy she’s reunited with her family and able to rejoin the card game.

The Girl in the Mirror

Change is good. Change is necessary. Change is a gradual process that requires nurturing and vigilance. Change within ourselves is an exciting journey of evolution. Along the journey of our own evolution there are signs pointing us to synchronicities that fall into place and enable us to change. Even as I write this I am receiving signs. I am in the process of change.

It drives me bat shit crazy that I can not sit down at my computer and write a story. I can blog about myself, I can write business letters and thank you notes. If you threw research at me and told me to write a 20 page paper for a college course I could do it and I would enjoy it. But I can’t write a story. I am a life time reader. I wrap my head around a book that I am reading and think to myself, “wow, this author really researched their topic well”. Somewhere in the fibers of my brain it is inscribed that I can’t write a story unless I research first. I am my own worst enemy and I am guilty without question of kicking my own ass too many times.

In December, a friend told me about a book, “Miracle Morning” by Hal Elrod. Naturally I was curious if there was a version for writers , which there is. I read the book from front to back and devised my own miracle morning routine which I began on January 3, 3017. As part of that routine I integrated the teachings of another book, “The Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron. The Artist’s Way is a twelve week program designed to recover the blocked artist. Each week has a set of tasks. The ongoing task of the program is “Morning Pages”. Get up every morning and write.

Through morning pages I learned very important things about myself: First there are things about myself and my life that I want to change but I can’t because I complain too much about what I don’t have instead of being grateful of what I do have. My mind is never in the now. It’s always looking at something else and wishing it were mine. That’s not gratitude. Second, I’ve learned that I live in fear. I have more fears than I care to admit to myself or anyone else.

 Among my dreams is that I want to be a successful, published writer. I realized that in order for me to reach for this dream or any dreams in this life that I must let go and reach deep into my soul to change my beliefs and break through the barriers that have been present in my subconscious mind for too longe.

So what am I doing about this? Ironically I have been able to use the Nursing Process to help me. In the Nursing Process there are Five Steps.

1. Assess: I am not grateful and I live in fear

2. Diagnose: In ability to reach for her dreams related to ungratefulness and fear

3. Plan: What steps am I taking to change my beliefs about myself?

Step 1: Gratitude. Last year I purchased Rhonda Byrne’s book, “The Magic”. Of course I didn’t finish it. This book is an exercise of 28 Days of Gratitude. Each day has a lesson  and the student is to first thing in the morning write ten things they are grateful for and why and follow the instructions for lesson of the day for 28 days.

Step 2: Breaking negative barriers. There’s tons of information on the internet on topics such as this. I decided to focus on the one teacher who’s words resonate with me. Deepak Chopra. I have an Ananda Meditation app on my phone and I meditate a few days a week. Prior to each meditation, Deepak speaks about whatever the meditation is about. I take notes. I knew that buying a Deepak Chopra book was the way to go. I chose, “The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success” by Deepak Chopra because with my Ananda meditation app, I’ve already meditated using those laws and I knew it would be easy to adapt to the written teachings into making the changes I want to. In an Amazon review of the book, someone who’s a certified Deepak Chopra teacher had written in with how he uses the teachings of the book with his students.

4. Implementation:

The first thing I do each morning is to get up and practice gratitude. On work days I get up 35 minutes early, shower and get to my computer. On my off days when I wake up, I go downstairs, grab some coffee, look at the sunrise through the window and sit down at my desk to enjoy the silence. I’m midway through The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success. 

5. Evaluation: How am I doing? What adjustments can I make?

It seems like every day at work is busy for me. A few days ago on Wednesday at work, due to circumstances that existed during that shift, I found myself becoming annoyed during a preop interview with a patient. Something weird yet awesome happened. My mind all of a sudden started playing the movie ET theme song, “Heartlight” by Neil Diamond and I imagined my heart lighting up like ET’s. “Turn on your heartlight. Let it shine where ever you go. Let it make a happy glow for all the world to see”. I turned on my heartlight that day, kept those lyrics in my head and continued went on with my day. It made me feel so good and grateful and even though I’ve known this for a long time, it finally clicked. Love is the greatest power in the universe. If I can feel love and gratitude even through hard times, I can break my barriers.

I am midway through The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success and I know that I’ve made the right choice. I read when I have the time and my mind has the ability to focus on and absorb what the laws are teaching. This book suits me and I look forward to finishing the book soon so I can begin the practices.

I am on day 27 of gratitude using the Magic Book. Through the practice of gratitude I’m learning to to observe what is right in front of me and be grateful for it. I’m finding that things in my daily life are falling into place easier for me and I’m not feeling as negative or afraid. I simply feel that the solutions I am seeking are on their way. I look forward to getting up each morning to express my gratitude on paper. It makes me feel centered for the day and puts me on course to practice gratitude for the rest of the day. The practices in the magic book do indeed work when I put it into the universe. 

Today’s practice was entitled “Magic Mirror”. It instructed me to say thank you to myself each time I look in the mirror today and come up with three things about myself that I am thankful for. It referenced Michael Jackson’s song “The Man in the Mirror” and today’s message was clear to me: Change the person in the mirror and your world will change. So I listened to the song a few times, printed the lyrics to the song and high lighted the verses that speak to me so I can refer back to them.

I know that I have not yet mastered the art of gratitude but so far, I am pleased with my progress. Getting up earlier than 0430 on work days sucked in the beginning but once I got used to it, I learned to like it, and need it. So I’ll try harder not to hit snooze as many times so I don’t have to rush on work days.

Tomorrow is day 28 of the Magic. I will go through each of the 28 days of lessons and jot some notes down so I can begin the magic practice again on Monday with day 1 to apply what I’ve already learned, refine my practice and integrate the seven spiritual laws.

So there it is. I’m starting with the girl in the mirror. I’m asking her to make that change. No message could have been any clearer. She’ll make her world a better place. She’ll make that change.