The Power of Pawprints – Four Legged Friends I Have Known

         lucy                                  

       I have always loved animals of all kinds, and felt a kinship with them.  From the four legged furry type, to the scaly cold blooded, they have all left rooms in my heart, and each one holds their own private key.                                                  

     Four legged friends I have known:  A short sentence for such a lifetime of joy.  Companions, protectors, jesters, and teachers, I found all these things in my smorgasbord of pets.  To me, a home without pets will always be missing something.  Pets bring with them that “ other “.   That which is basic and free.   That which has no judgements or predetermined clauses.   That which is given expecting nothing in return.   Joy, friendship, protection, sorrow, heartache, sadness.   The same things we share with our humans, we also share with them.  I  feel they give us something special, a connection that makes us complete within the natural world.  Us, animals, Mother Earth, truly a Circle of Life.  I shall start at the beginning:  

 Cricket – When I was in fourth grade my mother brought her home to us.  A mixed breed hound/something who had a mind of her own.   She had the wonderful bay bark that only hounds do, as well as the desire to follow her nose, and as there were no leash laws in effect back then, that she did.  She roamed the streets with her pal Happy, a beautiful, though sadly neglected English Setter belonging to a neighbor before she was taken from us at the ripe old age of barely two due to an untreatable case of demodectic mange that my parents simply could not afford to treat.

 Kirby – He was a family pet, from a neighborhood litter of collie, spaniel and possibly basset hound mix which accounted for his short stature.  A spirited but loyal dog, we had a good relationship, he had a tendency to bite if you crossed him, I guess I never did.   He lived a long though somewhat sheltered life.  When he left us at 18, I like to think he finally got to run and roam those meadows he missed out on in his mortal form.

Sam – In my early years I was extremely allergic to cats, it still shows up in any allergy bloodwork I have though symptoms disappeared many years ago, the day Sam came into my life.  A solid grey take no prisoners Russian Blue guy that came from a family friend, he was my first strong connection with an animal.   Though he was a family pet, we quickly formed a strong bond.   He slept with me at night, growled from my lap when he heard the doorbell ring, and soothed my teenaged nerves.   He also left us at two years old, he had no longer wished to go outside, which previously was his domain to rule, when one day he collapsed and died in my arms as I in a panic rushed him to the vet.   I’ll never forget how he gathered the last bit if strength he must have had, to climb into my lap from the car seat seconds before he died, a stubborn fearless King to the end.  He opened a door for me as stated in my first post, that never closed.    

Toby – He was Sam’s offspring, a result of a pairing of Sam with my girlfriends cat.    When she told me of a litter of kittens that Sam had sired, I immediately went over to see them, and Toby entered my life.   His were the the most vivid green eyes I had ever seen.  I was blessed with him for 15 years, until FELV claimed his life, along with two other pets that were my husbands, Mike and Bugs.   He had been very healthy all of his life except for an occasional cold that quickly passed. Toby was an aristocat.   He would sit on the edge of the shelf looking out the window like an unmoving sphinx.  He loved sitting on the farthest corner of the garage roof, whilst the bluejays swept down at him as they tried to guard their nests.  How he fell off I will never know.  He loved to swat at the birdhouses my parents had under the eave of the roof, I would tell him to get down, he would promptly go to the tree and climb down to my feet.  Elegant, beautiful, extremely smart, like his Dad, wary enough to survive so many years spending much of it outside.   He played games with the squirrels and was an extremely skilled bird hunter, though he never lowered himself to actually eat them.  He preferred his dinner served on a glass plate from a shiny new can. He listened and obeyed me as if he understood every word, because of course, he did.   At eleven he was moved to his new home when I married.   He showed me he was not happy, using my shoes as a litter box, though he spent so much time in his beloved out of doors , he never needed one. He was always the Prince you see,  and was not happy sharing a home with other cats.  He stubbornly adjusted and lived happily for four years, until they all crossed the Rainbow Bridge together.   The afternoon he was quietly sent over the bridge, I suddenly turned as I saw him out of the corner of my eye, in his usual spot where I knew he could not be, my heart told me he had came to say goodbye on his way.   My daughter told me one morning, as her bedroom was years before we had children, ” Toby’s Room”, that when she woke up she had seen a grey and white cat on the bed, I guess he had come to visit one last time.

     There was a space of close to two years before another pet appeared as our grief from losing three companions all at once needed time to lessen.  The next pet came bounding into our lives in the grand form of :  

zeke

Zeke – all my pets I have loved and grieved equally for, but Zeke, well, though all were loved and cherished, he certainly had his own pedestal on which to pose.  Zeke was the only purebred dog I ever had.  He came from a local man who was a cruelty officer I got talking to while at the local SPCA looking for a puppy.  He said he had a litter of golden retrievers, to which we promptly went out and picked the biggest puppy.  This was to be my first dog of my own, I wanted a special one, he fit the bill.  He became the fourth wheel of our family who at that time consisted of myself, my husband and our three year old daughter.  His life and what he brought to us, which three years later became one larger when our son came into this world, encompassed twelve beautiful years in which we shared love, protection ( he once made a six foot 250 pound rubbish collector dive straight into the back of the garbage laden truck, when he felt they came too close to my children and I in the driveway), and joy, he was simply a fun dog.  He and I often played soccer in the front yard, of course he with four legs, me with two, he always won. He loved our lake front camp, he would swim across the lake following our boat if we did not take him with us.  He would catch fish in his mouth at the shoreline and bark ferociously at any boat that wandered into our bay, warning them away from his territory and my children who played nearby.  He learned to obey me just through gestures, no words were needed, so strong was our bond. He had started having fits at three, something not uncommon in goldens, he was on medication for years.   When suddenly he didn’t respond to me at camp, we rushed him to the vet to learn he most likely had a brain lesion causing him to start having fits not controlled by medication.   We were told he would not improve but to up his medication to lessen them.   He improved for a few days, then became much worse.   I knew as I stood by him one night as his frequent fits attacked him and he refused to walk, and had most likely gone blind,  that he was suffering and the next day led him over the rainbow bridge.   The buckets of tears we cried over him drenched his fur like rain.  We as a family mourned him greatly, he was indeed special.   We still had his feline companion that I had brought into our lives when Zeke was about three, which leads me to her:

Lucy – rescued from the SPCA for my birthday, a gorgeous tabby calico, she was with us for 15 years, during which time she, being declawed in the front nonetheless, was the undisputed Queen of the neighborhood and she ruled it with an iron paw.   She reminded me much of Toby, same intelligence and wary nature, but she was much more brutal.  She hunted mice, moles, birds and rabbits, and ate them all like her wild cousins.   No neighborhood cat would pass her as she lay in the yard, she chased off a pitbull, and fought off foxes.  She detested other cats, though loved dogs.  She often slept next to Zeke and played with our neighbors husky.   She was a loving cat, but would give a gentle bite if you tried to pet her for too long.   She had a close bond with my son, who I would sometimes find sleeping with Lucy on the same pillow.  She would be gazing at him, inches from his face,  as if guarding him while he slept from any unseen monsters under the bed or creatures lurking in his closet. In the Winter when her coat grew thick, she appeared as a glorious snow leopard, pouncing about the backyard drifts.  She left us one evening when after being let out, we believe she knew it was her time and like the Queen Lioness that she was, found a quiet place and gently padded over the Rainbow Bridge.  

     After Zeke had left us, we went a few months but the house had become so accustomed to a dog, I felt a piece was missing so one day in the paper, I found:

Jake – a fearless black rottweiler/chow/lab and due to events that unfolded, behaviors, the wilds I had purchased him in,  we believe coyote as well. He was very smart, but trusted no one except us, his wild genes surfacing we later realized.  He never had any fear when we took him camping in the Adirondacks, even as a young pup.  He slept outside our tent with wild sounds all around him.  We know now that he had felt at home.  He was the best behaved dog in the house and though always dominant, learned manners and for three and a half years he was a good dog.  I always felt safe with him there, as no one would ever get past him. When he was about one and a half, we rescued Buddy, a lovely collie/hound who I will speak of next.  Sadly as Jake matured, his dominance turned to aggression, for no reason other than I felt, a volatile mix if breeds, including a wild cousin.   He had shown aggression to myself and my husband for a time that we managed, but it became worse and we could no longer trust him with our family, or anyone.  He was 90 pounds of muscle and extremely strong.  Heartbroken but resigned, we had no recourse but to end his short though action packed life with us.  

      It was this sad event that gave me the resolve to understand , and led me to delve into dogs and what really makes them tick.  I was so heartbroken and confused as to what would make a dog you raised from a puppy, with love, care, and gentle discipline , turn so viciously against someone he should totally trust?  I became a student of Cesar Milans teachings because I would not let Jakes early death be in vain, I would honor his memory by learning all I could to help me truly know a dogs nature, which I did and that led me to having the confidence to save more lives and enlarge our pack.

buddy 

Buddy – one of our prettiest pets, I rescued Buddy at four months old.   Cute as a button but stubborn and aloof as hounds can be, he pranced around our hearts for eight years.  Of course upon first sight, Jake wanted to kill him, but with time and patience, they became like rough and tumble brothers and Buddy mourned Jake when he was gone. He once almost jumped off our boat when he spotted a big black lookalike onshore and thought he at last had found his long lost brother.  I watched him with great admiration as he would track porcupines in our woods, his nose in the air, he found anything and everything.  His hound genetics were strong, he was an amazing camp dog. He loved the woods, as all of our dogs did, his true nature felt at home there.  For a time when he was our only dog, deer would wander closer into our bay no longer kept away by Jakes fierceness, Buddy would bound through the long grass after them wanting to play, his long legs and talented nose helping him to keep up, but not quite. I brought our next pet:

mocha

Mocha – into our world when having only one dog didn’t seem right.   She was a thin mangy stray that blossomed into having the most magnificent seal like coat.   She was smart as a whip, sassy, and a true escape artist.   Within two minutes of bringing her home, she had already figured out the dog run latch and out she was.   She loved camp as well, she rode on the back of our pontoon boat poised like a statue, taking everything in.   We had Buddy, Mocha, my pack leader skills were such that I figured its time for one more.  We had a large fenced in yard and a dog run in the garage so room was aplenty.   I found a wonderful rescue that brought dogs up from the south at a cost less than local shelters. Pennsylvania was the pick up point which was no problem for me.  

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Alabama – named for his home state, was an absolute dollbaby pup.  A cattledog/pitbull mix, he is certainly one of the most well behaved and devoted to me of all.  We call him our “gentleman dog” as he is calm and steady, with impeccable manners.   I started his training the day I brought him home, and it shows.  He to this day will stay by my side whenever we are together.  He has tangled with porcupines at our former lake home, as all our dogs have, but his pitbull gameness made him a “ in it to win it” type who simply will never back down from a fight that he decides he wants to enter. So, he had the worst case of “ porcupine face” we ever saw, though the tenacity of his breed made him still able to wag his tail during the ordeal.  At this time we had Lucy and Chief.   Chief, who we lost just recently, a big beautiful furball, that I fell instantly in love with while innocently petting the cats at a rescue site.  He was a devoted laid back warm wonderful addition to our family.  He and Lucy were our resident cats at the time I decided, since my husband had always wanted a Maine Coon cat, I felt he should have one.   I searched until I found our perfect fit in New Hampshire in the form of the regal:

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Barron – hence his name.   What an amazing animal he turned out to be, big, gorgeous, great nature and intuitive to a degree you don’t often see in cats.   When he looks at you with his huge yellow/ green eyes, you just know he is gazing straight into your soul and sees things even you do not. He will demand attention by butting with his huge head, “talking”  or meowing for you to turn the faucet on as he prefers that to a water bowl.  He likes watching tv or following my sons video games, he truly is a magnificent animal.

      So at this same time, we had Buddy, Mocha, Alabama on the dog side of things. All big dogs who spent much of the time outside.  So I felt it was time to bring:

Gem – into the mix as a housedog.   Little did we realize she would be one of our best scout dogs.   She trapsed our woods fearlessly, many times in the lead.   She is a Papillion mix who came from the same wonderful rescue Alabama did.   She’s smart as a whip, a great watchdog.   Our thought with pets is to have as many as we have room for and can afford, we always had room, big yards and a lakefront cabin, and I am a master at finding good pet care at a good price, our pet combo that blessed us to save many lives. We then added the one and only:

Dexter – a black beauty of a cat from the SPCA, who was the most loving animal I have ever met.   He would often share Gems crate, only his amber eyes peering out of the blackness told me he was there.   He tragically got outside and not being the wary type, but trustful that no one and nothing in this world would hurt him, was struck by a car and killed.   I believe I heard his plantiff goodbye as he lept quickly over the Rainbow Bridge as I was woken up from sleep by a cats cry, and found him on my way to work.  We buried him in our back yard with tears and regret of his short time with us.  

     We all so loved Barrons uniqueness, one Christmas I decided we deserved another, I then found:

zelda

Zelda – our true Warrior Queen.  She was the opposite of Barron though.   Where he was regal and dignified, she came bursting into any room she pleased, latched doors meant nothing to her as she easily opened them with her giant skilled paws.  Barron seemed to recognize immediately that they were different yet the same, as he was instantly in love.  Their favorite spot to sleep was on the top bunk in my sons room. What had attracted me to her was the wild untamed look in her eyes that came through even in a photograph.   Her look was that of a creature that has one paw in our world, the others in one much more mysterious.  She represented Wild Mother Nature to me, a big fluffball of fearless grey dynamite.   She left us most tragically at the age of two we learned later from a practice called linebreeding that made her become deathly ill and we lost her.   I was totally and absolutely heartbroken.    It was so sudden, so tragic, I thought she was so tough and would be with us for many years.  To this day her pictures always bring tears. My legacy to her is to educate people about greedy breeders and the heartache and suffering they cause just to make a buck.   We had a tragic run of losing a few of our furbabies.   We lost Zelda, not long after, Buddy, who though Alabama and he lived respectfully together, they had a few fights if the spirit moved them.  Buddy was very tough but Bama was too strong for him.  One day Buddy ran off when I was bringing him in for the night and despite intense searches, we never found him.   It was another very confusing event to me, we loved him, I know he trusted me, I guess he just grew tired of living in fear of Bama, though he didnt show it.   I like to think he found some kind old man to live a quiet rest of his life. We then lost Lucy, and later that year, Mocha developed a cancer in her leg that was inoperable.   I had learned even though always a hard lesson, to somewhat roll with the life and death of pets, being through it many times, but so many in a short time span was tough.   I had brought home:

claudia

Claudia – a five week old black panther when she was dumped on the side of the road with her littermates.  She was the youngest animal we had ever rescued, hardly able to walk and having to be given milk supplements.  I believe she will always look upon me as her mother.  All our pets come to their names, yes even our cats.  I’m not sure how I taught them, food sometimes is a part of training, I think they just trust us.  She is the only cat that will come bounding into the room from wherever she is when I call.   She is elegant and classy, loving to people but not a big fan of other cats unless its on her terms.

     I had come to realize four was our perfect pack size for dogs, we were short one when we lost Buddy, so, into the picture, from the same lovely rescue that brought us Bama and Gem, strode the glorious:

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Jetta –   Another jet black beauty, hence her name.  A magnificent-coated princess with the longest coat if left to grow, that I have ever seen, it will hit the ground in its length.  A border collie/ chow mix, another smart as a whip, very strong willed but sweet addition, and a great watchdog.   She fell into line as to what I expected of her very quickly. She rules as Alpha of the dog pack, which I knew she would.  Since she’s a female, Bama allows it.  We still had Mocha when her six month self came to our home, as she matured they had some dominance tussles that I quickly broke up, sometimes Bama joined in. Mocha trusted me to keep her safe in our home and I would never let her down.   I made sure they all knew their place and felt safe within it.  Jetta would often sit on the hill at camp, alert and looking out,  as if guarding her ” herd” , true to her collie nature.

      Our unconventional pet side started with the sleek green form of Dina, our inherited from our daughter due to moving , 11 year old iguana.  She and my sweet Chinchilla Pikachu who I was blessed with for five years, were our out of the ordinary pets.    Dina came to us on our daughters 16th birthday, a gift from her boyfriend after I refused to allow her to keep his original gift, a handsized rose tarantula that my neighbors from five doors down heard me scream “get it out” when I saw it creepily crouched, as only spiders can,  in a too small glass container in her room.  Dina was its welcome replacement.  When our daughter was on the move for her career, knowing that iguanas need dedicated owners to survive, I decided our home is where she would stay.  She shared our living room with Pikachu, my 50th birthday present to myself.  They both had huge cages, each one in their own corner.
To some our living room looked like a zoo, to me, it was wonderfully exotic.

       Pikachu was an adorable gorgeous Chinchilla that I took many hours of many days of many weeks to get him tamed to trust me, he and Dina were wild animals after all.  You have to build trust at a much slower pace and make it a strong bond as no matter how tame a wild animal is, in times of fear or stress, they will always follow their instinct over all else.   I learned this after Dina gave me a foot long deep scratch down my arm when she got spooked when I was taking her out of her cage.  Pikachu was always gentle with me once he was tamed, though he did bite a visiting guest.   He lived to five years, he was always very healthy and I read up on his care diligently.   He developed a gastrointestinal problem and despite a visit to Cornell, where I was not impressed, given their supposed reputation, he went downhill.  I took him to a local vet next day who tried very hard to save him, to no avail.   I missed his sweet face, little paws that held onto the cage rail, and the way he’d jump, wild with delight in his dust bath, which is how they keep themselves clean.  Dina is still with us today at the age of 15. We brought her from the brink of death a couple times due to infections, with injections, syringe feeding and warm baths,  she’s a tough scaly bitch, and we  love her.  

      In October of 2014 we left New York State for the balmy skies of Florida.  We had sold our camp, Splendid Isolation, in her honor, I had adopted a tiny half feral tabby kitten:

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Theresa – named after the town our camp was in.  She still today is tiny, and always has a wild not quite tamed look in her eye, and is the only pet of mine that will not come when called, only her wild crossed over sister Zelda had done the same. She yowled like a crazy cat when I picked her up from the back porch she called home, but quickly realized she liked the warm soft blanket in her carrier and quieted down. In tow when we left for our new life in  Florida  Bama, Jetta, Gem, Chief, Barron, Theresa, Claudia,  and Dina.   I would shortly add:

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Dash – as mentioned how four was our perfect dog pack number.  Another rescue, the only type of pet we will welcome now.  A weimaraner/dachshund/ black mouth cur, he looks like a short Scooby Doo.  Loyal, funny, fierce when needed, he survived a rattlesnake bite with treatment, his tough genes and his youth bringing him through. He is our only dog who is not too fond of the cats, his hunting cur background no doubt.   He is not overly fond of strangers and has a mean bark, bigger than he is actually.   He is a total baby with me, but walks down the street like a boxer, waiting for any other dog that dare take him on, 54 pounds of sass. 

      Of course, my thinking with cats is, once you have the set up, litter box, toys, food, various cat trees, what’s one more. So we added our Florida cats:

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Simon – a stunning all white blue eyed Siamese mix.  He is a ladies man all the way.   He is also our biggest troublemaker of the feline type.

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Sheba –  a gorgeous kaleidoscope coated beauty, the most “ girly” of all our female cats, my son put so accurately.  A sweet addition to our feline pride.  Lastly:

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Zakk – who I was offered as a kitten when I donated food to a local shelter.  They had literally hundreds but his stunning orange eyes against his grey suit of a coat made him the one.  He leaps across the tops of our couches in agile bounds when you least expect it but is one of our gentlest pets. We now share our home with four dogs, six cats, an iguana and two aquariums.  Alot of work, yes.  Messy house, no, I am quite the neat freak.  Holes in the yard, no, my dogs are content.  They spend much of their days chasing squirrels, and lounging in the warm sun. 

       Some people cannot take care of even one pet, them I pity as to me, they are missing out on a truly great connection and learning experience. Some can care for many pets, who when the world is dark and dreary, can be the calming spirit that soothes.   Animals don’t want rewards.  They only know how to be real. They live in the moment, but learn from the past.  They have given me comfort, joy, loyalty, and lessons.  All that have passed through my life left something special and unique to each one of them.  I loved them all and each one added another facet to my life.

They all walk with me, in spirit or in the now, the power of pawprints, plus one.  

 

maine

The Fatality of Favoritism

      This is a trip to the darker side, but one which for me, is essential to visit.   One of the psyches many defenses when you are in bad situations, is to lock damaging feelings or memories away, to be dealt with at a later date.   Though I remember perfectly each and every incident on this subject  from my childhood to the present, most of them I did choose to lock behind a door. I mean, who wants to deal with being constantly disparaged and disregarded by the ones who are supposed to be your biggest fans, your parents.   It was this choice that allowed me to become who I am.  Not listening became my greatest ally.  

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     While everyone can probably relay some remembered slight, a lifetime of it is something that needs to have a light shown upon it.  The paper that was taped to its windows to hide it from any onlookers, needs to be stripped away.  What was always a given in the household I grew up in, and sadly still exists with a vengeance today, is that the males were always put before the females, being done with no rhyme or reason, as such a thing has none.  Not to say that they were always treated kindly, but their place was never behind the girls. At times, it was also distributed unfairly amongst the girls, though never to such a degree. I always being the one who was placed last in line.   I knew it was inherently wrong, and fought against it with unending determination, as is gracefully my nature.  The fault of such behavior in my opinion, falls solely on the  perpetrator of the crime, the parents. Siblings may suffer amongst themselves, some of them feeling they must constantly compete, some think they are never good enough. While some may fault the favored few, and I will admit some do in essence “ eat it up” for want if a better phrase, most are just recipients of a parents twisted logic, and no real blame should fall at their feet.    Whatever demons may exist in a parents own upbringing or marriage should be called to heel long before children are brought into the fray.

      My refusal to submit never did stop or halt the progress of these profane actions.  In actuality, it intensified over the years and became so unbearable to me, once I saw it was also being enacted upon my children, I had to light that match and burn that bridge.  I could no longer allow such toxicity into my world, I would not subject my own children to the emotional abuse and poisonous envy that I had endured, be it from my parents, or any sibling that would sadly choose to follow their example in some shape or form.   I have shared my stories with others of similar backgrounds, though not to my surprise, I win the first prize for amount of examples I can toss into the ring.  

    From simply being ignored, to blatantly being told  “You cant drive the car but your brothers can” of the past, to the current,  “ everyone gets Christmas, birthday and any other monies and goodwill except for you and your children”.  What kind of parent gives nothing to some while supporting others with such monies that work is an option, not a necessity?  To some the phrase “ combat pay” may come to mind.  But is this a remake of “Glory”,  what was well earned by all, is given only to a few ? In such a world goodness is rewarded with evil, generosity rewarded with selfishness, and kindness rewarded with cruelty.  So many hurtful examples, from wearing rags to school along with one sister, as my mother outfitted the other in expensive clothes and lavish attention, why only recently being answered. From seeing barely there or incomplete Christmas gifts that paled in comparison to hills of gifts others of the house received. From listening in tears as my parents compared me to someone my mother detested, and discussed well within earshot that I was incapable of driving after I proudly obtained my license, while they tossed the keys to my underaged unlicensed brother.   From being thwarted and discouraged when bettering myself with further education, to never being acknowledged when two successful careers were under my belt, as others were put on pedestals they had yet to climb.

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     We all do what we need to in life, to be as happy, fulfilled and at peace as we can, all the while trying to add something to it that we can be proud of and may help others. I turn the page on the atmosphere of neglect doubt turmoil and putdowns that was the air that I breathed as I grew up, my nightmare to escape from as an adult.  A few bright spots lit my path enough for me to find it, though they were few and far between. I have chosen to drag the vampire into the sun.  The light of day has exposed the facade, dealt the fatal blow, and finally, mercifully ended it.  

I include a picture I sketched years ago in my twenties from a favorite album cover.   I feel it connects with this post in that I am that which is part of a pack, yet different.

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Copyright 2018 SA Klukiewicz

To Use or Not To Use: The Snooze Button

                                                    clock                                “The Melting Watch”   by Salvador Dali

       I am again, using my beloved metaphor.  In this post it refers to decisions about timing in our lives.  I started this blog as my own feelings, my gut intuition, told me it was the right time. The time had come, after continuous hits on my snooze button, to heed the alarm.   I realized the clock was now precise, when after previous attempts to start writing, words seemed forced and off.  No matter how I tried, they wouldn’t flow naturally, but instead had to be pulled out and awkwardly put to print, but now suddenly, they decided to spring from my fingers.  I find I need to do very little editing, save some spelling and change of a word here and there.  Its natural, it flows unobstructed, because, the time is right.  I am sure it is the same for all writers, poets, journal keepers, our hearts just seem to know, and they will tell us.

       Most of us do what we do, as we have things that need expressing.  Some took place long ago, some are recent, many are ongoing.  What they all have in common, is that they need to be said.  Whether it is advice that may help others in the same, be they former or current, situation, or it is for a “cleansing of the soul” to help heal old hurts and make peace with blocked out memories, once and for all.

                     book           I, like many, started years ago by writing in a journal.  I actually still have it.  When I read it now I see the 19 year old girl who was struggling to find her way, that many years later, did.  I was always strong, though at the time did not think so.  Again, all who struggle think they are weak, but they are always the strongest.  What they don’t realize, as I did not, is that to struggle is to fight, and it is strength that gives you the will to fight.  To fight is to find your way, to find your way always brings some peace, not total, as any conflict has a price, but enough to bring at least some degree of happiness.

       My first journal spoke of dreaming of gaining my freedom, how I would do it, and who would be included in my new world.  As it went on, it talked of course of hurts, disappointments, struggles, mine with many family dysfunctions which manifested in anxiety to which this day I fight against.   As all of us who express in writing, as the years go on we usually see growth, or sometimes we see a deeper sinking into despair.  I was blessed, by God I suppose, with an unbending fighting spirit, that would not allow me to sink, so, here I am.   My journey into this world of expression began long ago, but was kept locked in my journals, diaries, poetry, sketch pad, only now to be expressed.   Some posts will be lighthearted and short, some long and from the darkside.  No more snooze button for me, time to get up and face the day.   So, let’s down our coffee, get out that door, and feel the sunshine.

This poem I wrote after that early struggle, basically asking myself for what I needed, and realizing we are our own greatest strength.

Would You

If I was hungry,

would you fill my plate?

If I was thirsty,

would you be my drink?

If I was lonely,

would you be my friend.

If I was frightened,

would you hold my hand?

If I was angry,

would you calm my soul?

If I stumbled and fell,

would you help me up?

If I flew too high,

would you bring me back to earth?

If I wanted to scream,

would you show me how to smile?

If I couldn’t stop the tears,

would you dry my cheeks?

If failures slowed my progress,

would you push me to succeed?

If my heart was broken.

would you piece it back together?

If I tugged upon your sleeve,

would you ask me what I needed?

If darkness loomed before me,

would you lead me to the light?

If the load became too heavy,

would you lift it from my shoulders?

If unkind words befell me,

would your gentle voice erase them?

If my world should end tomorrow,

would you be forever with me?

You have,

you did,

you would.

Thank you.

 

Copyright 2018 SA Klukiewicz   Image copyright: pinterest.co.uk

 

 

 

Those Who Rock The Boat

     Those of us who rock the boat, you know who you are.   We are never content, to be idle, as something in our life, our world, or in another’s, sways and spins out of control and loses its heading.  While others sit quietly and cling to what I call their lifejackets: Outdated ideas, beliefs, or lies told so many times, they take on a strange and twisted truth to them, we do not.  It’s tough to go it alone, as many times you will if you choose to stand and right the sail.  Though it can be frightening, it seldom is something that once you have done, you will not do again.

     Many create chaos, cause discord, for no reason or worldly purpose, other than for their own wants and desires. Usually some narcissistic rant that serves none other than them, this is not “rocking the boat” this is merely being an asshole.

     True Rocking the Boat, I believe is a learned behavior, as I see it also in my children.   We all pick our own varied causes and concerns, but the outcome is the same.   We draw attention to the wrong, the inhumane, the disingenuous and the cruel, and do what each one of us feels will change its direction.  We rock that boat and hope She finds her true and steady course.  There is the chance some may sink, but if so, they were meant to.  Not all causes we take up, or wrongs we try to right,  will welcome us with open arms.  Not all will join our fight or see our point, but those that do, make the possibility of ourselves falling overboard, seem trite in the trade.

    So this is a SALUTE, to the true rockers of the boat.  Those who despite their own fear and uncertainty, face being chastised, mocked, or deserted by some, because they believe in a cause, or will not tolerate a behavior.  A line to sum up, those that are bystanders, and those of action.

boat

“You’re my witness, I’m the mutineer.” Warren Zevon

A later poem of mine that leans enough toward this subject to include it.

Time to Go

Has the time come, you want out

you’re sick to death of me?

Just let me know, your ship is sailing

no more of me you’ll see.

I’d rather that, just truth upfront

than empty meaningless banter

no flowers at unexpected times

no inpromptu false gestures.

I know it’s very hard to share

those unpleasant, but true feelings.

It’s as if, when exposed

up in smoke will go

all of those involved

like a vampire exposed to sun

in one of those B movies.

But as is said

better to go down in flames,

with no regrets or what if’s

than to linger at the doorway

with should or shouldn’t I

running around inside your head

as a cat would chase a mouse.

I’m getting dizzy,

please if you wish, just go.

I’ll find a fence, a good strong fence

to push my feelings for you behind.

I’ll find a lock, a sturdy lock

that cannot be sprung, or be broken.

And no matter how those feelings shout,

or rant and rave

” Come let me out! ”

I’ll plug my ears, I’ll sing and dance

Avoidance is the key.

For if the road awaits you

and our time has long since passed,

the door has just been opened

step through it and close the latch.

Copyright 2018 SA Klukiewicz     Image Copyright  Affirmation.org

 

 

 

 

Spirituality vs Religion – Are they one in the Same?

       This is a subject that touches us all in different ways, some are swept away by it, some barely grazed.  My own experience, with both, as I feel they are different, is long, complex and varied.   In my younger years, sometimes it seemed Religion, was all I had to hold onto, it kept me from falling into the abyss, it was the cliff my fingers held onto, the hand that pulled me back up. It was the belief that God, or Jesus, or both, heard me and would in some way answer, and sometimes I think that they did, and I believed.

 7b     

      As I grew up, and years started to pass, I would many times, “talk” to God, which consisted of a picture of Jesus that hung on my bedroom wall.  This colorful, yet simple department store print,  served as the focal point to which I would expound my dilemma, my struggle, sometimes asking for help to clarify an answer that I thought I had but needed reassurance, was it the right one?   Other times I had no clue in which direction to go, and asked to be shown.   I would always feel better after these “sessions”  as it seemed I would see things more clearly.  How could Religion not be the answer when it had given me one so many times? 

1     

      As with all things, the time always comes for questions and doubt.  What brought forth these two things for me, was when I started to not like the answers I was, to me, being given, human nature I suppose.  Nothing makes us ask God, why, more than loved ones being hurt, seemingly lost, or both.  Nothing makes us doubt more than witnessing suffering and pain and heartache.  So, for many years, it was not that I no longer believed, it was that I felt no answers were clear, and all paths were clouded.  So many questions flowed, in summary, much like what others also ask: ” Why is there so much suffering in the world, what purpose can it possibly have ? ” In my mind, it has none, so I, in my infinite stubbornness and belief in what I thought was right, what I thought the world should look like, decided I didn’t like the way God and his son Jesus, were running things.  I turned my back and thought it was time I took that colorful picture down and never look back.

       Quite a few years passed, life happened, some good, some bad, nothing really seemed different.   I asked, ” Is there a God, or do people fear their end may really be, the end, so they believe because that thought is just too frightening ? ”  The phrase “There are no atheists in foxholes” is always true.   We lived our summers in a lakefront cottage during the latter part of these years, a place like no other, it was here, that I stepped all the way into the Spiritual.   I had always been on the outskirts of it, having strong intuition and sensory perception.   I feel to this day, it was the Spiritual who brought us to this special place we called Splendid Isolation.   I felt it from the beginning, and as I grew seemingly more restless, though happy and fulfilled, it drew me out, I spent more and more time in the woods, surrounded by Mother Nature, accompanied always by my dogs, true catalysts between us and the natural world.  It was here that I felt I was looking upon a bigger picture, from the ground trees sprung, my dogs were next in line, I was the most complex creation of the three, we were all connected, a true circle of life.   It was this “belonging” that brought me the peace, that I still carry with me today.  

6a

      Religion is a framework, beliefs, stories, written by man, but depicting things none of us today were there to decifer, what was real, what was not.  I myself believe in evolution, not creation, the Bible was written, then changed, to me that is a work of fiction, but God could certainly exist, Jesus could be his Son, or just a man.    Spirituality is the connection we feel with that which surrounds us, it is our open mind, the path we chose to follow and how we walk upon it, it is the way we live our lives,  it’s what we leave behind, and what take with us when we go.  Is it God’s voice that guides us, or our own heart seeing the way, is it Heaven that awaits us, or another way of existing.    Religion may light your path, but Spirituality is what finds it.   

This was my second poem, another very old. At the beginning of my journey still finding my  literary footing here:

The Road Ahead

The road I must take now unfolds before me

and leaves behind that barren place of sadness.

A noble spirit steps out to be renewed

no longer to roam the streets of darkness.

A tiny spark that smouldered oh so dimly,

once contained, has now burst forth in flame,

infinitely to burn, eternal light

embodied by a spark that flickered in the darkness.

 

Copyright 2018 (pending) SA Klukiewicz

Image copyrights: videoblocks.com  tinybuddha.com  @Kagaya

 

Recycling Isn’t Only for Bottles

        I started recycling back before it was kosher, it is always fun to jump on a bandwagon that you know is going somewhere.  I would pack up my daughter who was about two at the time, and head to the local warehouse about ten minutes away, that was acting as a recycling drop-off.  It was usually quite empty, except for a very kind and amiable older couple that I would run into most times we visited, which was about twice a week.  We would chat for a few minutes, as I proudly dropped off our wine bottles, the only thing we had to recycle at the time,  as they were only taking glass.  As we all know, from there recycling took on its own life, it grew and became a wonderful way to renew and reuse, to take what was once tossed away, and turn it back into something of worth, which brings me to todays post:

The Recycling of our Lives             goddess_of_the_earth_by_ladyowl-d4wgtnm

       There are many, too many, people, some that I have spoken with, some that I have never met, that have come from dysfunctional families.  It’s an all too common occurrence, and one that I myself believe is a part of just about everyone’s life to some degree.  Some are first degree, minor occurrences, small set-backs, a few angry words here and there, nothing major, easily forgotten.  Some are second degree, this gets into more troubling territory, episodes of various levels of neglect, verbal abuse, favoritism, things that always stay with you, the next level is the worst, third degree.  This is where the darkest parts of human nature exist, alcoholism, domestic violence, severe verbal abuse, sometimes physical, the aspects of which real damage can be done to all those involved, and is never forgotten, only managed.  Out of these three levels of dysfunction, to rise, survive and escape it, we must find some way of recycling.

      It is very difficult at a young age to know which way to go, what to think, how to act, when you receive very little guidance.  You just put one foot in front of the other, use what God made you with, and keep moving ahead.  At the time, you never realize that you are recycling the thrown aside, the cracked, the damaged, into something worthy and useful, you just know that you want to walk far enough, to escape the dark clouds surrounding you.  Most of us will make it, some of us will not.

      What kept me walking was to a large extent, stubbornness.  It is very hard for me to give up, on anything, a task, a goal, or myself, and I never did.  I recycled hurt, sadness, neglect and pain, into writing, sometimes drawing, caring for younger siblings, pets, and of course gardening, as well as in later years, aiming for, and finding a career path, constantly dodging the doubt, anger, and jealousy hurled at me, from those that are supposed to nurture not negate, I had decided I would not be stopped, and I wasn’t.

     I found it very interesting to observe the ways other family members recycled their own issues, be they the same as mine or somewhat different.  One became a feral cat savior, rescuing many, having one share many years, before she crossed over the Rainbow Bridge.  I observed it give him great determination and focus, and to this day, after me, I feel he is the strongest.  Another focused on being the best mother she could be at a very young age, but also started her journey toward a most commendable work ethic.  Another focused also on work, whatever that encompassed, he took it, ran with it, and hit a home run.  Others were less obvious, but had their ways, took them, molded them, into what they needed to renew. 

     As we all know, recycling has made our world  better, safer, a happier place to be.  It also works the same for the human spirit, no one should  be tossed aside, ignored or intentionally broken, but sometimes we are.   What we choose to do after the fact, how we renew ourselves, is unique to us all, but makes us better, safer, and in a happier place to be.

 

Image by: ladyowl.deviantart.com

 

 

Pieces of the Kaleidoscope

 

The most difficult part of a blog, is making it something others want to read, or share, or even learn from.  Although the general rule is to have a theme, for me, and for the reasons I created this blog, that will not do.  My postings will cover different themes, touch varied subjects, share many thoughts, and consist of vibrant colors.  My hope is that in time, I will have an audience, and commentators of like, if not, I suppose this will turn into, my memoirs.  

I have many things I want my blog to contain, I will bounce from one subject to another, which has always been my way, some may call it OCD, my explanation is simply that I tend to get bored easily. I may jump from a memory that I choose to share, to an opinion that I hold, from a hobby that I indulge in, to a poem written in my past, to a current event, or even a lesson I myself have learned, and want to share.  I hope that along the way I will pick up, pass along information to, or maybe even help, others on their own journeys, be it from darkness into light, sadness into joy, despair into hope, or from what they thought was the end, but is actually their beginning.

  This poem I wrote when I was quite young, possibly 21,  when I suppose I was trying to find the real me.  All of my writings are one of three things, either taken from my reality, part my reality and part fiction, or a very few, total fiction.  This one was my reality, YOU.

You are my hopes

you are my dreams

You are my laughter

and my tears.

You are my wins

you are my losses

You are my heart

and my soul.

You are my past, my present

and my future

You chase the dreams

I too run after.

You are my strength,

you share my weakness

You are my path, my compass

and my feet

In other words, you are me.

 

Copyright 2018 (pending) SA Klukiewicz