SWIMMING UPSTREAM

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Our Cottage tribe has suffered many losses in the last few weeks–beautiful people called home unexpectantly, dreams dashed by reality, things breaking down and falling apart, and many tangled emotional muddles of one sort or another. The raging wild fires, spewing volcanoes, massive earthquakes, and divisive politics of our time all adding their own terror and pain to the world.

But the Cottage is our refuge, our solace, our heart-safe-place.  We meet there to make art that heals, to share talk that heals, and to exchange stories that heal. We meet there to join forces, to bolster our spirits, and to remind eachother that there is joy and laughter and friendship still in this world. 

We stick together. We ease, comfort, and uplift each other. We talk it out. We hug it out. We know when to be quiet and when to offer insight. Sometimes we just sit in circle, silent, sharing, crying, and remembering. We support eachother’s causes, buy tickets to eachother’s events, show up with food or sympathy or just plain sillinesss when appropriate…but always with love and sisterhood.

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We remind eachother that…

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We support eachother’s need to just take a breath, opt out for a spell on the sidelines, and return when we have renourished, rehydrated, and repaired ourselves. 

I keep the Cottage rent paid, the doormat swept, the coffee on, the glue and paint and scissors and art supplies stocked. You come when you can, with snacks and supplies to share, with broken hearts or exaltant news, with laughter or tears, and we spend happy hours safe, free, supported, and loved together. We give eachother permission..

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There are gifts in getting older. As I hobble toward my 72nd birthday, I think I’ve finally begun to “get it” (better late than never!)…life is short, love is long,  we waste soooo much precious time and energy on stupid stuff.

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You remind me (in the middle of all the good advice I give you!) that I have my own work to do, my own heartbreak’s to attend to, and my own fragile health & spirit to protect. You give me permission to prioritize myself when I need to.

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Though it is often a fierce swim upstream, in a strong current, in polluted waters, against impossible odds, I am determined to keep going, to carry the message we all need to hear…

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You help me spread the love–hold up the banner–walk the talk. You help me remember the rainbow at the end of the storm, the love that lingers after the loss, and the simple gifts of friendship in the isolation of grief…

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May we always help eachother swim upstream!

With Much Love,

Kaitlin

©Copyright, KaitlinMeadows, 2018. All Rights Reserved.

By Kaitlin Meadows

Fierce Optimism

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This has always been my philosophy.

Like you, I’ve dealt with many hard things in my life. I’ve suffered many setbacks. I’ve had much pain, experienced much loss, and known much heartbreak.

But I REFUSE to be defined, constrained, or hobbled by it. I always get back up, dust myself off, dry my tears, bandage my wounds, and get back at the task of LIFE and living it as fully and happily as I can.

Last week, I candidly shared with you a very low point on the journey. Today I am here to report that I have worked through that low point (with your help) and am, again, firmly standing on high ground, refueled and eager to move upward again.

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I am grateful for my resilient spirit. I am humbled by my powerful sensitivity and all that it does to awaken me to positive action. I am proud of my fierce optimism.

Some of you were a little peeved at me (out of love and concern) and worried that I was “killing myself” in the commission of acts of conscience. Some of you mentioned my heart attack. Others of you said the odds were too heavily stacked against all of us in these horrendous times and it was silly to spend so much time & energy fighting the demons. Some said I was “too soft” and needed to “toughen up” if I was going to survive in this cruel world.

But I beg to differ. I had a heart attack because I pushed stuff down–NOT because I acted on what troubled me. I am made sick by what I do NOT donot what I feel compelled by conscience and heart TO do!

I am a fierce optimist! My way is to

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I am a believer that we can all do SOMETHING, every single day, to make the world a little kinder, a little more gentle, and a lot less hateful–just by our determined commitment to being global citizens on the path of peace.

I subscribe to the notion that…

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but you DO have to show up when you are able and do what you can.

Last week, I was totally vulnerable and showed you my soft underbelly. I revealed my fear and sadness and exhaustion. I shared with you my very human low point in order to continue to inspire you that, even from that dark place, I could keep at the hard work of compassion and action.

My message, like Maya Angelou’s, is always…

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And that is what helped me up and over the hurdles that were blocking my path. I have the wisdom gleaned from over 70 years on the planet that…

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So, do not be worried for me–do not think me imprudent to care so much, do so much, be so much. It is WHO I AM. It is my path. I’m a fierce optimist in the face of almost every challenge life has presented me with.

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I REFUSE to think otherwise!

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My plan to combat the rigors of being a fierce optimist in the midst of such perversity and pessimism in the world is to remember that…

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and that…

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So please, find your way up the mountain, sing and dance and laugh and play along the way (preferably at the Creative Cottage!) but GET UP THE MOUNTAIN!

Do it your own way…I will do it mine…and may we meet at the sweet summit together; share our stories of ascent (and descent), lay out a luscious picnic of celebration for our sisters and brothers still struggling mightily up the hill beside us, and may we always… 

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With Love & Fierce Optimism,

Kaitlin

© Copyright, Kaitlin Meadows, 2018. All Rights Reserved.

By Kaitlin Meadows

COMPASSION COUNTS

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Where in the world have I been?

Why have I been so unusually quiet?

Why haven’t I written a blog post, updated my Cottage classes, been available for fun activities, returned your phone calls, responded to your e-mails, or been out & about around town?

Is Albert okay? Am I okay?

What’s up with KaitieBug?

Well.

It’s complicated.

I’ve been struggling. Really struggling. Really really really struggling.

I’ve been sad. I’ve been ill. I’ve been overwhelmed. I’ve been deeply daunted by the escalating hatred, hostility, violence, and cruelty in our world.

I’ve been angry and bewildered and hopeless and sick.

It’s very rare for Susie Sunshine to be so down & out, but I confess I have been in a morass of darkness…a sea of despair…a deep well of depression.

I have felt depleted and lost. I have been immobilized by anxiety.

In these dark and troubled times, I am not proud to be an American.

 It’s not merely a difference of philosophy or a conflict of politics anymore. It’s a matter of human decency, honesty, morality, and conscience. 

I’m disgusted, disappointed, and demoralized.

I’ve written and called my representatives, I’ve been in the streets with thousands of other appalled citizens, and I’ve been doing all I can in my own small ways to raise the banner of tolerance and compassion…but, at the end of the day,

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But it has taken a huge toll.

My health has taken another dangerous turn, I’m not sleeping or eating properly, I’m not handling the heat well, and I’m stuck in an incredulous panic about the way the world is grinding down the rules of basic human kindness and civility as we become increasingly more brutal and heartless as a society.

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Teresa, one of the little girls I mentor, wrote a story about a crabby, bigoted, mean old woman who hated everyone and everything until she went blind and realized no one wanted to help her. She had always hated anyone who wasn’t white, anyone who wasn’t Christian, anyone who didn’t speak her language. She was mad that her neighborhood was changing and immigrants were moving in. She was resentful and mean-spirited. Her own children never called or visited. But one day, the old woman found a basket on her doorstep with fresh bread, jam, and peaches in it. Another day, after a big snow storm, she found her walkway shoveled. One night a woman came and offered to tidy the old woman’s house, wash her sheets, water her plants, weed her garden, in trade for some walnuts from her neglected tree. Some children came by after school and began to read to her in trade for borrowing some of her books. On the eve of a huge blizzard, a man came with a load of firewood in trade for the use of an old rusty shovel forgotten in her toolshed. Soon, she was surrounded by people who were helping her and her life became good and happy. On the day of her funeral, the little neighborhood chapel was full…Niema from Africa, Hassaum from Afghanistan, Renaldo from Mexico, Tieena from Puerto Rico, Moses Jefferson Brown, missing both legs from the Iraq War, were all there.

So I keep coming back to this:

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In the midst of my despair, I realize all I can do is continue to hold out my hand, carry the light, bring food and water and solace and heart to those who need it most, and stand the high ground; hopefully with you by my side.

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All we can do is gather in prayer and peace and gratitude and hope and action. All we can do is pour into the streets, stand at the barricades, lift our voices, raise our ideals, sing our songs of tolerance and inclusiveness. All we can do is remember that we are not alone…that there are people all over the world who stand with us, who cry with us, who are outraged and heart-sick and moved to action with us.

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Don’t give up. Don’t stop crying or caring. Don’t stop being a part of the outcry against hatred, violence, and war. Take a breath, shake off the despair, and find a way to help. Somehow. Find a way to help.

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COMPASSION COUNTS!

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Through the tears…

With Much Love,

Kaitlin

© Copyright, Kaitlin Meadows, 2018. All Rights Reserved.

 

By Kaitlin Meadows