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Messy Love

When Pink is Blue on Valentine’s Day. A Recipe for Love.

Has Valentine’s Day found you alone – or alone in a relationship? (Yes, there is such a creature.) What do you do when the “d” in Valentine’s Day cozies up with despair or disappointment while chocolates, flowers, and cards fly by you in the checkout line – yet there are none to greet you at home?

At its core, Valentine’s Day is about love, and taking pause to delight in displays of love that express appreciation for a special someone in our life. If you explore the history of how Valentine’s Day evolved, however, you might be a little surprised that it made it through as the ritual of love we recognize today. Stories about exploitation and enticement of the masses for political and religious gain mingle with fertility rites and names pulled out of village-mating jars. Wooing, courtship, and acts of appreciation didn’t enter the picture until much later.

Based on all that, the relationship status of Valentine’s Day would have to read, “It’s complicated.” Not unlike many of the relationships we find ourselves in and out of, huh? No wonder it’s a day of delight and dread in so many lives. This is love’s challenge – given time and human involvement.

Where am I going with this? Continue reading “When Pink is Blue on Valentine’s Day. A Recipe for Love.”

A Messy Life Musings

2020. Vision. Not Hindsight.

2020. Vision. Hindsight. New Year.

If “hindsight is 20/20,” then 2020 is the infamous year for which we’ve all been waiting. For those too young – or smart – to know this phrase: hindsight means “thinking about things after they’ve happened” and 20/20 means “perfect vision.”

The more optimistic, glass-half-full version of this phrase would be, “I always seem to grow smarter in retrospect.” The glass, half empty, would be, “I should have known better.”

THIS is the year when it all comes together, because our hinder will be in clear sight. Hinder, as in “belonging to that part or end which is in the rear,” as in our rear with no regrets to follow, as in no one’s butt to kiss but our own. WooHoo. 🙂

We are heading straight into 2020, the heavily prophesied, magical year when the rear view mirror is replaced with a crystal ball. The year when wisdom is harvested in advance, like low-hanging fruit in an orchard, ripe and ready for the picking.

Let’s take a nice, deep breath here while we imagine the possibilities. Continue reading “2020. Vision. Not Hindsight.”

A Messy Life Musings

Hitting Pause. Nurturing Essentials.

Devotion. Mask by Bernadette Rose Smith

What do you cherish? What delights you and drives you to devotion? I don’t want to know what you like. What do you cherish?

Heading into my third holiday season after Ray’s transition, I cherish that you will read on, and indulge me in savoring a sweet memory from our courtship days while you search your own heart for that which you cherish.

Photobooth shot Ray and Bernadette Rose Smith
Honeymoon Photo Booth Fun 1975

I was working in an art studio in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan when Ray and I met. He’d returned to Detroit, after living seven years in New York City, and had been back only a few weeks when we went on our first date. The city had burned him out – he thought – but he was coming back to find me. We just didn’t know it yet.

I was 20. He was 28. He asked me to marry him, one month later. There was no doubt in my heart that YES was the only answer. Within seven weeks, we were married. Continue reading “Hitting Pause. Nurturing Essentials.”

A Messy Life Musings, Messages from Beyond the Veil

Living a Fairy Tale. Embracing the Slide.

Living a Fairy Tale. Embracing the Slide.

With the drama of all my recent posts about cancer and toxic air, it’s time for me to blog a happy tale. One that encourages you to pay attention to the whispers and follow where inspiration leads.

There is a fun, “spooky” story behind this picture of comp book and pen. If you know me at all, you know I like to write. If you know me really well, you know I have to write. Writing helps me maintain perspective, keep my sense of humor, gain clarity, and stay close to the guidance that gets me through this messy life with some degree of grace.

My favorite time to set pen in motion is in the morning during my quiet time, a daily ritual of contemplation, prayer, and reading that sets the tone for my day before the rest of the world does. It was in one of those quiet times that I was given the vision of two women sitting on a hill, silhouetted by a gorgeous sunset. I had the sense that one of the women was older and wiser, perhaps even an angel, when I heard her speak these words.

“Some might say this was a story told to me by a woman mad with grief, but to sit in her presence was compelling; the more she spoke, the more I was drawn in by a desire to believe that what she told me could be so.”

“Wow. What a great lead in for a movie,” I thought, as I took in the scene before me.

“Write that down,” something inside me prompted. Continue reading “Living a Fairy Tale. Embracing the Slide.”

A Messy Life Musings

Canaries. Tipping Points. Deadly Toxins.

White Rose with Shadow
When I took this shot of the white rose and my shadow, I did not see the larger shadow looming behind me — the shadow of a factory spilling toxic ethylene oxide into the air I breathe. I did not see the loss of Ray to cancer. I did not see a mastectomy in my future.

Instead, I saw a moment, seized: creative play with a single rose and a camera. I saw a blue sky on a clear, crisp day. I saw children running, chasing each other in the playground of the daycare behind my home. I heard their excited shrieks and laughter, as my camera clicked away.

Canary in a coal mine.
For those who don’t know the phrase, miners would carry caged canaries down into the mine tunnels with them. If dangerous gases collected in the mine, the gases would kill the canary before killing the miners, thus providing a warning to exit the tunnels immediately.

I didn’t see canaries on the day I took that shot but, today, I hear their outcry in this community I love. I feel the panic of those around me who scramble to find the door out of this invisible cage within which we reside. I feel the pressure of broken trust and betrayal while the systems designed to protect us now dismiss us. I feel the heartbreak in the stories shared, all while this factory and some leaders insist there is nothing as wrong as “all that.” After all, who really knows what causes cancer in one and not another. Right? Continue reading “Canaries. Tipping Points. Deadly Toxins.”

A Messy Life Musings

Breast Cancer. Kissing My Breast Goodbye.

Breast Cancer Bites. Kissing My Breast Goodbye

Written for every woman who lost, or is losing this intimate partner.

—–Originally posted, August 17, 2017, on my old website. Re-post worthy.—–

I find myself on the merging ramp to a mastectomy and wishing to yield, for just a moment, before this breast becomes a blurred memory in the traffic flow of life.

She is the part I must release to protect the whole, but she will not go without notice or appreciation for what she held space.

There is a body of experience in this sweet breast of mine. She and her sister were late bloomers. No doubt, I got that premature training bra because my mother was tired of fielding questions that always started with a whiny “When…”

As intimate partners go, both breasts have been first class. But she is the one that held space over my heart. For that I grieve her loss. I would love to kiss her for all that we’ve gone through together – but she is not that large nor I that agile.

Sound strange?

Our bodies are living, breathing temples that hold space for a fusion of body, mind, and spirit – from the most elemental level to the most sublimely sacred that life has to offer. And each part speaks to aspects of experience that leave imprints – clues – as to how we maneuver through and integrate events from the significant to the mundane.

Continue reading “Breast Cancer. Kissing My Breast Goodbye.”

Art, Mixed Media, Creativity

Cut And Paste Beyond Breast Cancer. When Art Heals.

Mixed medim art for breast cancer awareness by Bernadette Rose Smith

Stitched and stretched. That’s what I’ve titled this piece because that’s what breast cancer ushered in with every decision I had to make. Cut it. Stitch it. Now, stretch it beyond anything recognizable as you.

Life flew apart like confetti without a party. Not unlike my private-moment, mixed medium attempts at depicting this most bizarre journey. (And so shortly after losing Ray to cancer.) Countless bits and pieces of paper – glued, splattered, pealed back up, and reassembled with the best of intentions – were tossed in the trashcan next to me because they did not fit the picture as I had imagined.

The writer-me has freely spoken about her journey with breast cancer. The artist-me had not taken her shot at it. Quite frankly, she couldn’t get the writer to shut up long enough for the artist to quietly seat herself in the studio and ask, “How do you heal through this with art – not words?” Continue reading “Cut And Paste Beyond Breast Cancer. When Art Heals.”