Harbors of Grace

June 7, 2015

Harbors of Grace

by Molly Davis

IMG_0117

A dear friend is moving to a town in Maryland named Havre de Grace….Harbor of Grace.  It is a perfectly named town for her new home, as she is a grandmother raising one of her beloved granddaughters who, without the need for any shared details, has found in her grandmother’s love and devotion, a harbor of grace in which to live for a few short years.  As a card I recently read said, “A ship in a harbor is safe.  But that is not what ships are made for.”…..We are not meant to live in the safe waters of a harbor forever either.  But, we all have need of shelter in our storms.  Ours is to know when to seek the safety of a harbor, and when to provide that for someone else in need.

My best friend Kristine’s almost 90 year old momma, Darlene, passed away yesterday.  During the days and hours and moments before she left us, harbors of grace showed up everywhere. Read the rest of this entry »

Advertisements

This and That

April 15, 2015

by Molly Davis

“This is what we have” she says, holding up her left hand, palm up and slightly cupped, as if cradling something fragile and precious. Pausing, she lets her words and the image settle in.

“This is what we want” she continues, holding up her right hand in a similar fashion.  There is a gap between her two cupped hands.

“Our pain and frustration, suffering and discomfort come from comparing what we have with what we want.  She bangs her two hands together, over and over, demonstrating the inner turmoil and outer frenzy of living in the gap between what we have and what we want.

This is what I have…. That is what I want.

This is how it is….That is how I wish it was.

This is where I am… That where I want to be. 

This is when it is….That is when I want it to be.  

She stops banging her hands together, and slowly, gently, deliberately… because it is hard to loosen our grip on what we hold so tightly…. she lowers her right hand.  Suddenly, the banging stops, and there is no struggle between This and That.  

I will never forget the moment when she first held up her hands, giving me a picture that returns again and again, to help me step squarely into what I have, how it is, where I am, and when it is.  Held in my left hand is what is true.  Depending on the year, the day, the moment, my reality is filled with the good, the bad or the ugly.  And more likely, some messy mixture of all three. Savoring the good, healing the bad and transforming the ugly can only happen from the trailhead of This.

Try this right now.  Really.  Just do it.

Hold up your left hand, filling it with what is true right now.  Everything. The good, the bad and the ugly.  Look at your cupped hand.  Feel what it holds.  Take in what is there.  Hold it as if cradling something fragile and precious and sacred.  Because you are.  Held in your left hand is your life and your world, as it is today.

Hold up your right hand.  What does it hold that you want, wish, hope, imagine to be true?  Less pain, more joy, a flatter stomach, more money, less stress, more freedom, fewer expectations, a different job, more peace?  Held in that hand are your visions and goals, hopes and dreams, desires and callings.  Whatever is there, take it in.  Now, look at what you have and compare it to what you want and bang your hands together. Over and over and over until you can feel the stinging sensation brought on in the comparison between the two.

Now stop.

Drop your right hand.

This is what you have.

What we do with what we have, how it is, where we are, and in this moment is how we make our way from This to That. 

The only way.

This post is dedicated to, and with deep love and 022_21A_0001gratitude for Kristine Van Raden, my dearest friend and partner in crime .

Love Is All That Matters

September 29, 2011

We are living in insane times. It is every where: record numbers of people living on the streets, going hungry. Our financial foundation compromised to it’s core: lost jobs, lost homes, lost dreams. AND YET…in-spite of what is hard, and painful and devastatingly real, if we are loved and truly love someone else, there is light at the end of any dark tunnel. After all, love is the one thing that at the end of each of our lives, we won’t regret, and wish there had been more of. My treasured friend, Hollye Dexter says it all…”love is all that matters”.

WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 28, 2011

Lessons Learned At A Funeral

     I’ve been to more funerals in my life than I care to count. And I have sat bedside with critically ill friends at the ends of their lives. Although it has been painful, I consider this a privilege, for they have taught me valuable life lessons.
My dear friend of 25 years, Phyllis, was like a second mother to me. I loved her with all my heart, but she was a difficult woman. She was tall, strong, a force to be reckoned with, but she spent a lot of her life being offended by people. She was prickly and cantankerous. I’d had a few run-ins with her over the years, and she’d made me cry more than once, but always we came back to a place of love. The last time I saw Phyllis on her deathbed, all her hard edges had softened as she began to wither away. She looked so vulnerable, like a tiny baby bird in a nest of hospital blankets. She was peaceful, finally. Soon she would join her husband and son in the afterlife. The last thing this tough woman said to me before she died- “Love is all that matters.”
     A year later, I would watch my friend John die from a brain tumor. At the end, I sat holding his hand while Troy played John’s beloved baby grand piano. The tumor had robbed him of his ability to speak in sentences, but there was no need for words. What mattered was clearly present in that room. John looked into my eyes, took my hand and squeezed it tight. With his other hand patting his heart, he said “So much…so much…”
     This Sunday I attended yet another funeral; a sad, tragic funeral of a woman who died much too young. Andrea was Dani’s little sister. I can still see her sitting cross-legged on her bed at thirteen years old, talking about her boyfriend, as Dani and I were putting on make-up, getting ready to go out to some party or High School football game. Andrea, just a little girl in my memory, with her long wavy hair, and a whole life ahead of her.
Now she is ashes.
     There had been hurt and misunderstanding between Dani and her sister over the years, and some of Andrea’s life decisions caused her to distance herself from those who loved her. Yet, on the last day of her life as she lied comatose in her hospital bed, Andrea opened her eyes and smiled at Dani. Nothing needed to be said. What was left at the end, above all the broken hearts and hurt feelings, was love.
     At the funeral on Sunday, Andrea’s two teenage daughters, now orphaned, stood up and spoke about their love for their mother. Her oldest, Megan, lamented about all the time they spent fighting over petty things. That time could never be regained, time which could have been spent loving each other. I heard that message loud and clear.
Since Sunday, I have witnessed a lot of anger amongst my friends and family, some of it at each other, some at me, over small things, which will one day be long forgotten.  But Sunday put things in perspective for me. I don’t intend to waste a second of my precious life, which I am so lucky to have, quibbling over small things. I want to spend the hours of my life loving my family and friends, and helping others to do the same. I won’t be swayed from this.
     People often comment on my relationship with Troy, how much in love we are after so many years. The reason our love has lasted is not because we don’t fight. We do. It doesn’t happen much anymore but in the early years, we almost didn’t make it. What saved us, time and again, is that we always come back to a place of love. Always. The love we have for each other is larger than either of our needs to be right or to be vindicated. The love outweighs our egos.
My friendship with Erin is that way. We are a couple of strong-willed broads and we’ve collided spectacularly at times, but again, what I love so much about Erin is her great heart, which prevails over everything else, as does mine. As does Dani’s.
     Life is rattling my cage pretty hard right now, testing me, challenging me to walk my talk. I ask myself, if I were lying on my deathbed, would these issues matter?
My life’s mission is to live a life of integrity, love and honesty, and to help others do the same. No matter what is thrown at me, I will stand strong in that mission, unshakable. For I know what will matter on my own deathbed is the love and kindness I shared with people.
     Phyllis said it, John said it, and an eighteen year-old girl who’s had to grow up way too fast said it best. Love is all that matters.
(truth and consequences blog by hollye dexter)

Love is all That Matters

September 29, 2011

We are living in insane times. It is every where: record numbers of people living on the streets, going hungry. Our financial foundation compromised to it’s core: lost jobs, lost homes, lost dreams. AND YET…in-spite of what is hard, and painful and devastatingly real, if we are loved and truly love someone else, there is light at the end of any dark tunnel. After all, love is the one thing that at the end of each of our lives, we won’t regret, and wish there had been more of. My treasured friend, Hollye Dexter says it all…”love is all that matters”.

WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 28, 2011

Lessons Learned At A Funeral

     I’ve been to more funerals in my life than I care to count. And I have sat bedside with critically ill friends at the ends of their lives. Although it has been painful, I consider this a privilege, for they have taught me valuable life lessons.
My dear friend of 25 years, Phyllis, was like a second mother to me. I loved her with all my heart, but she was a difficult woman. She was tall, strong, a force to be reckoned with, but she spent a lot of her life being offended by people. She was prickly and cantankerous. I’d had a few run-ins with her over the years, and she’d made me cry more than once, but always we came back to a place of love. The last time I saw Phyllis on her deathbed, all her hard edges had softened as she began to wither away. She looked so vulnerable, like a tiny baby bird in a nest of hospital blankets. She was peaceful, finally. Soon she would join her husband and son in the afterlife. The last thing this tough woman said to me before she died- “Love is all that matters.”
     A year later, I would watch my friend John die from a brain tumor. At the end, I sat holding his hand while Troy played John’s beloved baby grand piano. The tumor had robbed him of his ability to speak in sentences, but there was no need for words. What mattered was clearly present in that room. John looked into my eyes, took my hand and squeezed it tight. With his other hand patting his heart, he said “So much…so much…”
     This Sunday I attended yet another funeral; a sad, tragic funeral of a woman who died much too young. Andrea was Dani’s little sister. I can still see her sitting cross-legged on her bed at thirteen years old, talking about her boyfriend, as Dani and I were putting on make-up, getting ready to go out to some party or High School football game. Andrea, just a little girl in my memory, with her long wavy hair, and a whole life ahead of her.
Now she is ashes.
     There had been hurt and misunderstanding between Dani and her sister over the years, and some of Andrea’s life decisions caused her to distance herself from those who loved her. Yet, on the last day of her life as she lied comatose in her hospital bed, Andrea opened her eyes and smiled at Dani. Nothing needed to be said. What was left at the end, above all the broken hearts and hurt feelings, was love.
     At the funeral on Sunday, Andrea’s two teenage daughters, now orphaned, stood up and spoke about their love for their mother. Her oldest, Megan, lamented about all the time they spent fighting over petty things. That time could never be regained, time which could have been spent loving each other. I heard that message loud and clear.
Since Sunday, I have witnessed a lot of anger amongst my friends and family, some of it at each other, some at me, over small things, which will one day be long forgotten.  But Sunday put things in perspective for me. I don’t intend to waste a second of my precious life, which I am so lucky to have, quibbling over small things. I want to spend the hours of my life loving my family and friends, and helping others to do the same. I won’t be swayed from this.
     People often comment on my relationship with Troy, how much in love we are after so many years. The reason our love has lasted is not because we don’t fight. We do. It doesn’t happen much anymore but in the early years, we almost didn’t make it. What saved us, time and again, is that we always come back to a place of love. Always. The love we have for each other is larger than either of our needs to be right or to be vindicated. The love outweighs our egos.
My friendship with Erin is that way. We are a couple of strong-willed broads and we’ve collided spectacularly at times, but again, what I love so much about Erin is her great heart, which prevails over everything else, as does mine. As does Dani’s.
     Life is rattling my cage pretty hard right now, testing me, challenging me to walk my talk. I ask myself, if I were lying on my deathbed, would these issues matter?
My life’s mission is to live a life of integrity, love and honesty, and to help others do the same. No matter what is thrown at me, I will stand strong in that mission, unshakable. For I know what will matter on my own deathbed is the love and kindness I shared with people.
     Phyllis said it, John said it, and an eighteen year-old girl who’s had to grow up way too fast said it best. Love is all that matters.
(truth and consequences blog by hollye dexter)

Jack, our perfectly fine black dog, lives in the country. He knows no fences so therefore knows all the neighbors, their goats, chickens and various other farm creatures. He is free to roam and yet stays pretty close to home. He has lived this lifestyle his entire life. We are now considering leaving our rural digs for those conveniently located in the heart of Portland. We are ready to trade our endless view, spacious silence and  herds of grazing elk for fuel economy, less yard work and a walk to the local library.

Jack is going to have to get used to Dog Parks and off-leash sites around the city…We visited such a playground today.  As I watched him romp with a dozen strange pooches I felt like I was at the Canine United Nations. I swear that Moammar Gadhafi of the dog world was there, growling and snapping until his owners leashed him and pulled him out of the fray. Once he was removed the tension in the group subsided. There was Sweden, in the body of an old beagle; curious, but ready to give any other dog, who felt so inclined, the lead. Mexico was represented by a couple of happy chihuhuas…France was bounding about trying to get all the guys to play together. Iran and Iraq kept to themselves somewhat, sticking close to the boarders.

There were different personalities, with different values, beliefs and needs, yet the group got along. There was a bit of struggling for position, some fear to overcome…but all in all there was respect, tolerance and a bit of grace.

I think Jack is going to do just fine. All he wants is to be friends with anybody who will have him. He doesn’t know how to discriminate.

Not a bad way to go through life.

Rain Again???

February 21, 2011

“For after all, the best thing one can do when it’s raining is to let it rain.”
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Though I still feel like I have the unrelenting hopeful spirit of a high school graduate, my 40th reunion is just around the corner. OMG! There are pictures floating thru internet space of me looking like one of Julie Andrew’s charges in Sound of Music. I think that yellow dress was actually made out of an old curtain my grandmother was throwing away.

I rarely think of high school. When I do I break out in a cold sweat. Those were certainly the most awkward years of my life…now, why would I want to revisit them in any way, shape, or form?

I was a geek. Trust me. 6’ tall, 110 lbs. in wet pegged Levi’s and 2 lbs. of hairspray. Not one boy, not one, gave me a second look. Who could blame them. I was taller than 99% of them and I had “DESPERATE” written all over me. When I saw an opportunity to trick a brand new guy, obviously lonely and awkward himself, into coming to a party at my house, I took it.  I told him that all my friends would be there and I would love to introduce him.

When he accepted my invitation, I almost died on the spot. I had never been invited to a high school party and certainly never hosted one. I went to the one BFF I had and told her what I had done. We had 2 days to accomplish a guest list and something that resembled a pre-planned gathering.

Poor Schmuck. He arrived on time and must have thought that;  A. He was at the wrong house (hence not another car in sight),  B. The party had been canceled,  or C. He had been duped. I’m pretty sure that when he walked in to find only me, my BFF and collectively our 3 younger brothers, he knew he had been shanghaied. What high school boy doesn’t come to a party in hopes of finding a keg, cheer leaders and an atmosphere of reckless abandon.

Okay, now get this. Monopoly, with half the players pre-pubescent…not exactly a testosterone fest; my mother wearing her best apron enthusiastically serving trays of warm chocolate chips cookies… looking nothing like a cheer leader; and milk for dipping  those cookies instead of a plastic cup of ‘Bud’ from a freshly tapped keg.

He stayed anyway. The ambush was successful. I had a boyfriend!


For two years he was my EVERYTHING. I couldn’t imagine a day without him. Now 40 years later, I don’t know where he is or what he is doing.  The class of ‘71 has diminished in numbers. There are those who have passed away and those who can’t be found. There are those looking for misplaced friends and soul mates, and those recalling long forgotten memories. Countless pictures are surfacing that prove 40 years is a long, long time.

So in deliberating “to reunion or not to reunion”, the attending column would definitely have more weight if I thought  no one would notice I am in-fact the same geek only now nearly 60 and an inch shorter(can we say osteoporosis); my size 4 Levi’s have been replaced by the size 14’s, or that I look somewhat like the Shar pei Puppy version of my senior picture?

One thing 40 years has taught me is that life is short and unpredictable. There are grown-up Black Tornado’s (that’s right, my mascot!), who back then, smiled at me in the hall and made my day…who included me in note passing in Social Studies and who sometimes joined my table of fellow geeks in the cafeteria. Now that I think about it there were about 500 other kids that probably felt much like I did…uncomfortable, unsure, uneasy.

We now know not one of us existed in pure form. Those were the thoughts of teen idolatry. Each of us was a mixture of thespian, geek, quarterback and cheerleader. The high school playing field has been leveled with time…we have all experienced loss, disillusionment, victories.  Some geeks are now secure, enjoying luxury. Others, for whom we predicted easy success, are still finding their way.

It turns out we are more alike than we are different. The differences are in the details. If we can remember our commonalities while revisiting familiar faces, shared memories and dreams, we may experience our high school years influenced more by the knowing of ‘what we were’ than ‘what we were not’.

Raise your hand if you are a giver? One who gives out of your abundance, or from your lack thereof? Doesn’t matter, you give and give and give some more. You cheat your self when there is not enough food to go around; you drink the cheap wine so everybody else can have the good stuff; you give your new clothes to your daughter before they reach the hanger or have the tags removed; give up the front seat; give up time and resources, energy and peace of mind so that those around you are more comfortable…happier…content…safe and sound. Not really a big deal; not really a choice, just a lifestyle.

Well I say BRAVO…you are in good company with most of the females on the planet…

The other day I needed help…not lots, just a skosh….a ride, a snack, an open door. Could I ask…NO NO NO.

Fortunately I was in the company of my surest of SURES; truest of Trues, safest of Safes!

“if you don’t ask me, then I can’t ask you..and If I don’t ask  you , you will go stark raving mad. Here is a chance to save your own sanity.”

Okay, I need a ride.

Better?

Ask.

aging gracefully…

January 2, 2011

Starting another new year…which is following right on the heels of 57 other new years, I am considering what it means to age gracefully.

I don’t mind telling you that while I curse, curse, curse the notion of plastic surgery, or injections of any kind to aid in my appearance, I do stand in front of the mirror and oh so gently pull up my slightly limp checks to get an idea of what I might look like with just a tuck here and a pull there. I am aware that if I pull too much, or in the wrong direction, I can look like the Japanese version of myself…not that that is a bad thing, just a radical thing given my Norwegian heritage.

My husband caught me standing naked in front of the mirror, both hands grasping my “soft” belly while vigorously shaking it up and down..it .looked a bit like a taffy pull and I felt a bit like a Shar Pei. His sweet and I am sure supportive comment? ”Honey, the trend is not UP”.

Was I recently tempted by the patent pending Chin Up? Hell yes! At $19.99, and guaranteed result in just 2 weeks! That sagging turkey neck (their words, not mine) was bound to disappear for good and they had pictures of Brittany Spears, Minka Kelley and Katie Perry to prove it…wait, aren’t their combined ages less than mine NOW? Of course they look good after trying Chip Up, their’s were never down to begin with. Still I was enticed.

We, “women of a certain age”, are desperately trying to find peace with the fact that our appearance is changing, and we are looking more and more like our mothers. As intelligent, politically correct and mature females, we are supposed to embrace the wrinkles with little care and in-fact pride and honor that we have earned them and more, much more.

Still we jiggle, and stretch and buy the latest cream made from the egg yolks of endangered sea turtles. We make deals with the mirror…”okay, that’s enough now…if the wrinkles could just stop here, I could live with that.” A month or so later when a new wrinkle or line or droop appears, we offer up a new deal…”okay, that’s enough now…if it could just stop here, I could live with that.”

Truth about women aging…we don’t really want to have our face or bodies match our years. We welcome the wisdom, enlightenment and freedom;  the fact we no longer date one loser after another; feel dependent on someone else’s validation of our self worth, or stress over what the neighbor lady thinks of us… We also would like to think that our appearance has little to do with how we feel about ourselves at this stage in our lives…

Truth is we do struggle…don’t want to but we do. We buy the cream, the Chin Up, the “guarantee to cover gray” hair color…because we care. We care. We are aging. We are learning to let go and accept… and sometimes, just sometimes we just have to jiggle and see if the trend might be changing.

Chin Up my friends…we are in this together.

  

 PEEC Presents:  WOMEN LIVING FULLY…INVESTING IN OURSELVES 

 

 Oct. 24 – 27 2010 

Imagine yourself nestled in beautiful, inspiring surroundings, your only goal to rest and indulge in self discovery.  Imagine meeting like-minded women who come prepared to explore the same questions that run through your mind constantly… “Now What?”  …“Who Am I?… 

 “How do I make the most of the life that is ahead of me?”  “…What is it to be a true friend – to have a true friend?”…“What matters the most to me at this time in my life?”… “How can I  make a difference in the world?” 

PEEC (Pocono Environmental Education Center, Dingman’s Ferry, PA www.peec.org) is holding this, their  first annual Women’s Retreat, and have invited  inspiring authors, experts in their field and other speakers who will gather to explore all of those questions and more. 

We all know that our lives and daily choices are best governed by ourmost deeply held values, beliefs and priorities.  Yet there is much to distract and dilute even our best of intentions.  This glorious three-day women’s retreat offers you the opportunity to reconnect with that which is most important to you and find new ways to live that are reflective of who you are and what your value.  This is an experience dedicated to women’s complete well being, both individuallyand collectively. 

 You will be inspired by award winning and internationally published authors and other experts, including: Amy Ferris: Marrying George Clooney: Confessions of a Midlife Crisis –   

 Kristine Van Raden & Molly Davis (www.mattersthatmatter.com) : Letters to Our Daughters  

 Monica Holloway Monica Holloway – Cowboy & Willis;  Driving with Dead People, and others.  

Gregory Anne Cox of  midlifewithavengeance.com 

Robyn Hatcher, Amy Litzenberger, Hollye Dexter…and more! 

This one of a kind retreat will provide an insightful and inspiring program highlighting the things that are vital to women in mid-life, and encourage living life to the fullest.  Topics range from living authentic and meaningful lives, financial well being, health and wellness to the need for women to move beyond competition and towards mutual support, completion and collaboration. 

Believing that learning can be a collaborative and supportive experience,  all offerings will be participatory and introspective, inspiring and challenging.  Sessions will include a combination of teaching, discussion and thoughtfully designed writing and thinking exercises. You will write, rest, eat amazing food, drink great wine, voice your ideas and opinions, reflect, rest and renew. You may even be cast as a character in the new play Common Threads…interested? REGISTER SOON, AS SPACE IS LIMITED 

  

You are invited to participate in an experience that will both inspire you and allow you to inspire others.   

Space is limited.  

Cost is $560. which includes lodging, meals and all workshops & activities.  

To register:  Call – 570-828-2319 and ask to register for Women Living Fully

the simple magic of insignificant details

http://blog..com/

Inspired

June 18, 2010

What is it about women? Those who see hurt and lend a hand…those who see pain and lend a shoulder, those who see possibility and commit to a cherished outcome? Where do they come from? How do they know that there is enough for everyone and thrive in generosity?I am surrounded by those women and inspired.

LOOK TODAY FOR THE SMILES REFLECTED BACK AT YOU…LISTEN TODAY FOR THE MUSIC THAT DELIGHTS YOU…GIVE TODAY TO SOMEONE IN NEED…LOVE TODAY EXPECTING NOTHING IN RETURN…

PROOF THAT NO ONE LOOKS, LISTENS, GIVES OR LOVES AS YOU DO IN THE MOMENTS OF YOUR VERY UNIQUE LIFE.

OPEN YOUR EYES

March 16, 2010

Linda and Jack...the perfect man!

Home-made apple pie and lots of smiles

Molly and Jack...the perfect man!

Judy of Guler and Linda of the Harbor

Our own Volcanologist...the handsome Tom of the Mountains

Jean and Candy in the SUNSHINE

Linda and Judy, sisters

Cindy at Peace

who is that woman hugging my husband?

Gathered Our Courage Together

Anna: light and spirt

The girls mixing glue stick and soup...huh oh!

Speed scrabble...endless possibilities

The MATTERS THAT MATTER W OMEN’S RETREAT.  A room filled with courageous, bright, authentic women. We ate, we danced, we drank good wine & coffee (as promised), we laughed, we cried, we drummed, we napped, we created, we learned from one another, we loved with all of our hearts and souls. Women gloriously being women. Could it get any better? Well maybe if Amy Ferris (Marrying George Clooney) could have been there!