Category Archives: family

Halloween

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Guardian of Paris by Debbie Klosowski

I have a confession to make. I love Halloween. I have always loved Halloween and becoming an adult has not changed that love one iota. As soon as the season changes to autumn, the pumpkins come out. The orange lights grace my bushes, the funny and not so funny witch faces appear on walls and shelves, vampires and ghosts start to populate my front porch and my piano. I think up costumes for the year because yes I have to be in costume every Halloween. It just is.

When I was young, Halloween was about all of those things but also about the candy. We lived in a very small town in northern Canada in the 60’s and my younger brother and I would roam the town the entire evening stopping at every house holding out our pillowcases until they were so full we had to go home or we would never get the haul back to the house. The next hours (or days) were spent sorting out all of the candy we had gathered and rejoicing. We were good until Christmas! In later years I was delegated to taking my younger sisters out to trick or treat but that did not diminish the love I had for knocking on a door and having treats handed out to us. Or to admire all of the creative costumes people had come up with. There didn’t seem to be real monsters at that time. There was no fear of razor blades in apples or tainted candy. There just wasn’t.

As a young adult, Halloween was always party time. Costumes got more elaborate and fun to imagine. I spent one Halloween in a long red velvet dress, both it and my face covered in soot, convincing everyone I was Scarlett O’Hara after the burning of Atlanta. My southern accent seemed authentic enough but the joy of hiding behind a character was the real thrill. So it is with Halloween. It is the chance to become something other then we are and have fun with it. It’s also a time to scare ourselves with delicious thrills. People can dress or become the most fearful aspects of human nature and still be accepted. Creepy masks and ugly depictions of horror seem to thrill and excite everyone. Perhaps because on every other day of the year these things are taboo. In recent years my Halloween alter ego has been variations of a witch. Maybe I am embracing the crone stage of life but it is more likely that the wish to have some sort of control over events even for a day encourages this magical thinking.

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Waiting for Halloween by Debbie Klosowski

Although Halloween is the time to embrace such things, the truth is we all wear masks. We all have a secret self that we hide from the world. Most of the time that is how we negotiate ourselves through this human experience. It reminds me of the message of that iconic song by The Police “Spirits in the Material World”. We are all trying to navigate this messy, lovely existence the best way we can. But there is no doubt that monsters dwell among us wearing masks that sometimes slip to show their real nature. Mass murderers. Rapists. Predators. Arsonists. Racists. It’s as though something has been pulled back and ugly things are crawling out of the mud to come to light once again. The drawn curtain is revealing our scariest selves. The public masks have been peeled back to reveal the true face of darkness and it is not pretty.

As scary as this all is, perhaps we should recognize an opportunity when we see one.  Maybe it’s time to face the ugly side of human nature and try to heal these fissures. Perhaps we have been a bit complacent in the past years thinking that things like racism, sexism and discrimination of all sorts in the workplace, in our community and in our social group were eradicated or it was easier to look the other way or brush off bad behavior as normal when really they were just waiting for the right time to rear up again. Now is that time. Now is the time to really dig deep to decide what each of us believes to be good and true. But it will not be easy. It takes faith and conviction and a whole lot of courage. If we celebrate Halloween just to scare ourselves well we have much more work to fight the demons then just that one day. This year I don’t see the masks and the costumes disappearing on November 1st. It’s not just make believe anymore.

Fast forward 50 years from that small town in the 60’s and I am still trying to figure out what my Halloween costume will be this year. There seems to be such an array to chose from but in reality I know it will reflect some secret part of myself. Warrior Princess Leia from Star Wars? Anne Boleyn still trying to hold onto her head? Esmeralda dancing on the steps of Notre Dame? I have been all of those and more. It’s going to take some time to think about the face I want to show the world this October 31st. I can’t wait to see what comes out.

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Eclipse

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DSCN0194Last week an event of astronomical proportions occurred when a total eclipse of the sun was seen through a broad swath of the continental US and in partial elsewhere. An eclipse happens when the earth, moon and sun align, normally when the moon is in  crescent stage (according to the science tech who spoke at the gathering I attended to watch this event). The moon slowly encroaches on the sun until it fully covers it for several moments, leaving only a small bright circle of light as the sun tries to unsuccessfully maintain its superior stance in the heavens. In other words, a much smaller, seemingly dead asteroid has the ability to entirely block an enormous ball of burning flame from view, change the daylight to twilight and drop the temperature some significant degrees. That’s pretty cool.

I have always loved the mystery of space and the stars and have often been accused of having my head lost in them. As a young teen enthralled with such TV shows as Star Trek and later the iconic world of Star Wars, traveling to the stars was always an absolute dream of mine. I was determined to become an astronaut until I was undermined by my own inability to master high level math and science classes. Alas, my trip to the stars would only ever be real in my vast imagination bolstered by books and films.

What is it about our dreams that make us believe they are attainable? When we are

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Dreamcatcher by Pexels via Pixabay

young, the sky’s the limit until someone tells you it is not. We can have absolute faith, unshakable and true, that we can achieve whatever we put our minds to until we bump up against reality. Now that is not true of everyone. There are those who knew right away what they were meant to be and have achieved those goals. But I see that as kind of an eclipse; all the stars aligned for that person to make that dream happen. And yet despite that realization, I have never given up on having dreams. What is true is that as flexible humans we can adjust our dreams so that they are attainable. Or perhaps it is ourselves that we adjust to be more in line with our dreams. Like that determined little moon, it is possible to find yourself having your moment in the sun with the greatest of satisfaction and accomplishment. The real trick to dream attainment is discovering who you really are.

In that respect I believe it is important to follow your heart’s demands because more often than not it brings you to the place where you are supposed to be for the dream to evolve. The dream in my 20’s was to work in film and live in Hollywood. That I lived in northern Canada in a small town thousands of miles and a lifetime away from such a dream didn’t stop me. Once I got to Hollywood and started working on the dream, the bump against reality was jolting.  I did not expect it to be easy but it did not take me long to learn that much of the promise of Hollywood is as opaque as the smog that covers it. In a city built on fantasy, image counts, body type and hair color counts, speech and words (but not necessarily truth) counts. Talent really doesn’t register until you’ve been lucky enough to get a few jobs and even then it might not count.

Yet I have no regrets, not one. I grew up in Hollywood, I had fun in Hollywood and yes even got to meet the actor who played one of those fictional Star Trek characters I admired so much. I also met some lifelong friends and the man I would marry and raise a family with. And yes, the dream changed. I realized I was very good at listening to people, pinpointing what they trying to express and able to give them ideas to help with their particular concern or question. I went back to school and got my degree. One dream eclipsed another. That happened to be the right one for me but it could not have happened if I had not followed the one that wasn’t quite right for me.

Today is the last day of August as autumn begins to eclipse summer. Perhaps life is just a series of eclipses and our job is to find that brilliant circle in each event to mark our life’s unique journey. Sometimes it’s hard to know what each transition might mean especially when the darkness encroaches. I think of what the people of Texas are experiencing now in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. How devastating to think about rebuilding their lives let alone just surviving the event. Yet everywhere in that disaster is evidence that love has eclipsed hate. People have come together to help each other and there is seems to be no divide in the common goal of saving lives.

Maybe the universe was trying to tell us something a week ago Monday when millions trained their eyes to the sky. Mother Nature knows how to get our attention as she has proven once again with this cataclysmic hurricane.  We need to pay attention if we are to survive. There always seems to be a light in every moment of darkness. We are human and as such we have amazing capacity to rise again. If we can hold out over those moments of darkness, that sun will start to reveal itself again. Time to let go of all this hate and discourse. Time for the next eclipse.

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Eclipse by ipicgr via Pixabay

Homestead

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Photo by Bluesnap via Pixabay

Home is where the heart is. And your clothes and books and all the other stuff that represents your life. It’s the place you display your memories and photos of loved ones. It has artwork and projects and pictures of your children at every age. It’s also where your spouse might live and where your children might have grown and flown the nest. Home can be a house, or an apartment or any place you feel safe to lay your head. Home is the people in it and not the structure itself. It is the nest that you feather, your peaceful oasis in the busyness of the world. Dorothy, at the end of her adventures in The Wizard of Oz, reminded us that there is no place like it. Yes, a home is definitely one’s castle.

However, the thing about a home is that you have to keep it up or it will fall around you without a moment’s notice. The past 6 months our aging home has protested some of its aging elements. The oil tank decided it had had enough and leaked oil as it brought in water. The water tank also decided enough was enough and just leaked. The old furnace we had replaced two years ago had left years of residue along the walls of the house and a fine layer of black dust over everything. The chimney leak finally was resolved so we were able to look to the other things in need. So a home, like a heart, demands care and attention.

After much planning (and after upgrading the aforementioned tanks) our summer staycation took the form of the interior house finally getting painted. We chose a bright, clean white color to offset all of those picture frames, masks and other mementos we have collected over the years that have sat on our walls and collected that same fine dark dust. Over two days we slowly removed all of those items, each one a memory we mused over and had a toast to and there were some things we couldn’t ever remember acquiring. With everything off the walls and furniture moved out of the way, our small abode looked quite a bit larger. It was time for the painter to do his magic.

There is no doubt that painting an entire house is a job best left to the professionals. Although our cat protested to being locked in a bedroom with food and litter, he was no doubt relieved not to be in the way of a man with a ladder, paint brushes and a definite mission. The project took more than a week during which time we marveled daily how incredible the house looked as each wall emerged from its formerly dingy and dark demeanor. Finally the last of the plastic coverings and paint cans were removed and it was our turn to put the house back together again.

homestead-149897_1280The one thing about doing any upgrade in your house is the unexpected things that get uncovered along the way. The dust and dirt under the rugs that had been rolled up and put out of the way had harbored the equivalent of an entire child’s sandbox. They had to be put out to sit in the sun and shaken until the accumulated dirt fell away. Wood floor cleaning was the next order of business as was hand cleaning all of the glass on the picture frames which had their own layers of black soot. It was the perfect opportunity to store some of those items that had sat on every available surface away and minimize the number of things hung on the wall so that we could enjoy our beautifully fresh new walls.

But as often happens, one change usually leads to another. My husband took the bathroom cabinet doors out to paint and the bathroom looks fresher now.  Closets and shoes were picked through and things discarded. The garage got a clean out. Even the windfall under the apple tree was cleared away. And now almost 3 weeks later we are significantly lighter and cleaner. The house feels as though it has taken a huge cleansing breath and let it go but of course it was really us.

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Photo by Dimitrisvetsikos1969 via Pixabay

Change and letting go are not easy things to encounter. As humans we feel more comfort in familiar things and it’s easier to stay the same then to make the change. But once we do make that shift we can feel it in our bodies and minds. This upgrade has definitely lifted our spirits and cleansed our souls. Coming into the house feels like a different space now although just a month ago it was the beloved albeit dingy home we gratefully ended our day in. But showing love to our environment means showing ourselves the love. It’s taken me a long time to accept that change is good but I have to be the one to initiate it. Our home most certainly agrees with me there.