Archive for the ‘blended family’ Category

Today I’m feeling particularly grateful to be alive.

Prepare for the Unexpected

Prepare for the Unexpected

Having come as close to dying as I can remember getting … on Monday I walked away from being blindsided T-boned with just a bump on the noggin’, when the super-tank-sized white Bookmobile (of All things!) crashed into my driver’s door after I’d not seen it, somehow … I consider myself not only fortunate to be alive, but am more than ever aware of how much more there is for me to put out there before it’s “my time” to leave this earthly realm. Just in case, I gave instructions to my consort Carter to finish my work for me. Before my time … is up.

Time is relative anyway. Sometimes it stands still. Other instances it rushes away from us like a never-ending spin on a glass-splinter-strewn highway. The road after our impact, this Monday. When that big white metal wall came crashing into me, metallic jaws wanting to eat my life, my head bouncing into and shattering side windows, Yes, I thought, This is It. I’m dead. Hit squarely on the side of my head, shoulders, hips—just as the recurring, eerie premonition of being T-boned I’d had for the past year or so.

But I didn’t die. So easily I could have. I iced the goose bump on the window-side of my head, and the next day there was hardly a trace of the bruise. Truth is: If it weren’t for the strong bent metal frame of my trusty old Chevy Tracker, I’m absolutely sure I would have sustained much more grievous injuries than being shook up, which I am.

Crappy Death Almost Got Me

Crappy Death Almost Got Me

For the past few days I’ve kept still. Lots of quiet time. Feeling my life, pleased I’m still here. Not much thinking, just feeling. What about?

chest-expanding awe at being alive!

heart-pumping gratitude to be breathing, still!

spine-tingling sensations of what I’ve been saved (entrusted, really) to do …

to share with as many as I can, about the magic of being alive.

I’ve felt it since childhood, yet that feeling keeps intensifying with each passing season, moon phase, setting sun and changing tide.

When a person has both experiences of the interior and exterior sorts, and the ability to translate it into a form where it might be meaningful to others as well (visually, musically, through art of some nature) this is my life’s purpose, for which I’ve been spared.

LordFlea, for over seven years I’ve been writing and sharing art with you, I’ve given snippets of what my work has been about. Many drawings, paintings, and sculptures (click here if you want a glimpse), a feature film with my beloved consort (click here for LithiumSprings, the movie), and a mention here and there about the book(s) I’ve created, awaiting publication.

For years I’ve been writing books. So why has it taken this long to get any of them into print? Five completed story-driven books are already done, some nonfiction narratives; somewhere in-between novels and memoir. Regulars at LordFlea have heard mention of a few and seen an excerpt or two from titles such as Angels Anonymous, Illusions of Love, Dharma Brat, Global Bliss NOW, and Heart Island, the trilogy.

the bridge tender

the bridge tender

Now the first publicly available (tree or e) full-length book will soon be ready, and not just in blog-tease form. Allow me to proudly present my soon-to-be-available illustrated book:

Zen Love: the true journey of a blended family

The very last stages–of line-editing (catching obvious flaws) and polishing, giving the story a sheen of careful presentation–is almost complete. Now I begin the stage of presentation. As soon as I finish this post I’m back to working on a chapter-summary (it’s much harder to make one after a book’s been completed, trust me) so I can submit this book to a major spiritual publishing house. I’m not going to count on the smaller, indie publisher who asked me to submit based on a much earlier version of Zen Love. I’m going to “fish” for whatever bite I can get, out there in the Ocean of Marvelous Literature

So–what’s my thought after the great crash up on our hysterically-crowded US1 South where I almost died, but didn’t?

Simply: It was not my time. This is what nearly all NDEs (Near Death Experience) I’ve ever heard of say they experienced, and then instantly their soul/spirit returns back to life from the state they call dead. I didn’t die in my crash three days ago. But a part of me is hyper-aware how very fragile my existence, all our existences, are here on earth.

"It is not your time, go back," the Voice said.

“It is not your time, go back,” the Voice said.

It’s time for me to do what I know I must, further sharing my writing and arting with as many people as I can. After all, that’s the reason I’ve been blogging and milking other forms of social media all along. For this day that has finally arrived. At last: a book.

This is why it’s so funny and ironic that I was smashed into by a flippin’ garbage-truck sized Bookmobile, on its way to some school somewhere, the front bumper and its admonition “READ” not even dented from my little vehicle’s demise.

Life! Ain’t it grand. Funnier than fiction, more intensely real than any reality show could do justice to.

I’ll keep you posted about the adventures of Zen Love‘s publication. If no bites on my hook, I’ll publish it myself, have no fear.

In the Light, shining bright and breathing appreciatively,

Lord Flea, aka teZa Lord

Who would have thunk it?

Who would have thunk it?

Life is like cooking a delicious bouillabaisse. First, you get all the ingredients right, as fresh, as pure, as wholesome as possible. Then you chop, mix, blend, and spice, adding whatever seems appropriate for the time and place. Next, comes the most important part of all for a well blended array of sensory delights: the cooking period.

For me, my relationship with my stepdaughter is such a masterpiece that it required extra-added attention in so many ways. Mostly in the cooking time. Nearly half her lifetime our beautiful daughter has marinated slowly in the souring juice of hating my guts, her stepmom … until … until the day finally arrived people told me would come: “Wait till she has a kid of her own,” or, “Wait till she’s thirty; then she’ll appreciate you.” Sure enough, that is now – and her ratatouille is thankfully done.

Soon after the very day that she turned thirty she spoke to me about her healed heart.

“I finally realize how very much you’ve always meant to me, teZa. I wouldn’t be anything without you having been there, guiding me, nudging me, showing me how I could be what my own birth mother couldn’t, no matter how hard she tried.”

All the years, all the misery, all the stabbing spears and arrows, poisoned glances, ignored or denied by her, taken directly in the heart by me, flung unmercifully at my long-sought, self-preserving detachment – all was healed with one that honest, soulful and soothing conversation.

In an instant, a decade and a half of our heartbreaking estrangement – erased.

How did our daughter arrive at this juncture in her life? Where she was finally able to see that I had always been her devoted friend as well as full-time custodial mom – her advocate and not the enemy she determined I was since first arriving at her adolescence’s fickle door?

The hands of fate pointed the direction of her healing; I had nothing to do with it. Since she left for college, well over a decade before, I’d settled for her calling me “my father’s wife, my stepmother,” instead of the more true “Angel Mom” that I flippantly called myself when first I decided to marry and help my man raise her and her little brother, aged 7 and 4 then.

Now she is indeed a mother herself, for nearly three years. And now – finally, after so much time, in agony since her pregnancy activated the hidden, now understood-to-be dormant symptoms, unleashed only then – she’s been diagnosed with long-term undetected Lyme disease. Now, instead of an unknown ailment that topsy-turvy tossed our once-strong daughter’s health upside down, she realizes she has a formidable disease that others – if they work hard at it – have been able to recover from. No one could have foretold that the bite of a tiny deer tick the size of the period at the end of this sentence, gotten so long ago, could so drastically change a family’s destiny.

A theory among some is that nothing, absolutely nothing, happens by accident, including personal tragedy and disease of all sorts, even worldwide catastrophes. When our daughter’s earliest weeks of pregnancy included quizzically severe symptoms, no one knew what the heck was happening. Her husband, inevitably, began to believe she was losing her mind: newly fraught with the anxiety of the couple’s happily greeted pregnancy. She lived among her husband’s extended clan out West, far away from us. From our two-thousand-mile distant point-of-view, we heard of the strikingly bizarre maladies she was having: a distinct lack of energy accompanying constant nausea, persistent insomnia, excruciating joint paint, limb-twitching, and severe mood fluctuations ranging from off-the-charts crying jags of depression and anxiety to, sadly, totally unlovable rage.

Admittedly, her husband suffered tremendously from our daughter’s strange, uncharacteristic change. Neither he nor anyone, not the legions of doctors or any holistic healer was able to figure out what her problem was. When their healthy baby boy came bursting into this world, instead of everyone greeting him with ridiculously ecstatic feelings of life’s continuous renewal, all we could do was glance at our still-suffering daughter bent over like a broken pretzel, hunching her way through breast feedings, diapers, limping through the marathon demands a newborn added to her and her husband’s already burdened mountain of medical woes.

All of us were puzzled, her father and I, along with her husband and his family.

But, like I said, those of us who believe that even bad things happen to good people for purposes that, when finally figured out, can lead to making life a little more bearable, maybe somewhat easier if we’re lucky – her disease ended up bringing her before a closed door that had somehow shut around her heart years before.

The day arrived when our daughter and her distraught husband, plus her ever-giving, concerned father, my husband, met in an office in Dallas. There, the specialist handed them the news that indeed our daughter did have Lyme, the hard-to-detect, often-camouflaged, spirochete-shaped, killer-bacteria that attacks neurons in the brain, among other places in human physiology. Our daughter’s initial reaction was more weepyness over her life’s fate. Being given a clinical diagnosis of such magnitude, her depression was understandable. Her innate anxiety was now exacerbated, since most Lyme patients get emotionally whacked out, even without the added pressure of a nearly-done, care-giving mate and a demanding two-and-a-half year old.

Within a month our daughter and her husband weren’t just legally separated, but in a whirlwind they became – consciously or unconsciously – uncoupled. In the western state they lived in, such a “dissolution of a marriage” type of divorce happens literally overnight if both parties agreed not to squabble. There would be no custody battle either. Our daughter was given primary parental rights because our ex-son-in-law was … well cooked, if not fried.

And so our daughter – my long-lost child-pal, besides my charge – came back to me, her nurturing champion, her childhood’s main female-link to healthy living. Within days after that diagnosis of Lyme given on her thirtieth birthday, she made a heartfelt, earnest amends to me. She apologized for all the shitty things she’d ever done, said, and thought about me, ever since she’d become a teenage werewolf, transformed from the angelic girl I’d fallen in love with, along with her younger brother, when her dad and I married so long ago. But when she morphed into the bitch-on-wheels, at fourteen, never again did she regard me with respect or love – until now, she humbly admitted.

This disease of hers, then … was it needed to teach her, to show me, too, that, weird as its flavor was, our life-stew hadn’t yet mellowed into a palatable, tasty morsel, that could now be made triumphantly scrumptious with that secret ingredient of ours – forgiveness on both sides? Could the innocuous tick bite that probably happened when she was a 16-year-old camp counselor in Lyme-ridden North Carolina, possibly have festered, asymptomatic in her system all these years? Did her disease, crippling too many with the rampant spread of this tick-borne plague’s spread, keeping people from woods and meadows everywhere – did this illness come into her life as a gift, disguised as torment?

We shall see.

After just one more of countless tests, and a big decision about what type of therapy she’ll choose, the years-long treatment will soon begin for our daughter. We’re expecting her symptoms to worsen, a typical reaction when Lyme spirochetes are attacked. We expect she’ll get sicker before she begins to feel better, it’s part of the recovery process. But already she feels relieved, her anxiety lightened. She has returned home to Florida, her innately troubled marriage, now over. Now her son will have two separate sets of parental families to view life through, as our daughter did herself. Her son will have a blended family, as his mother has had, to both love and help expand his worldview.

Our daughter’s disease has brought her a renewed commitment to working with life’s signs – as they are handed out by the winds of fate, not as she or anyone else wants them to be.  That miniscule tick bite brought – now that recovery lies hopefully on the horizon – the ability for our daughter to accept life, not resist or fear it. She now sees her choice: to greet each set of circumstances as the next step, the next breath she can inhale with either resentment, or joy.

When our daughter was a child, she and I loved each other – deeply, magically. Now we are free to love each other again, both of us, woman-to-woman.

I’m happy to not be Angel Mom to anyone anymore. Now I’m just a trusted pal to our daughter and her brother.  I prefer that easier, softer way of loving.  True friends accept each other’s faults easier than some moms can.

Our Blended Family

Our Blended Family

 

Love is a Many Blended Thing

 

My friends laughed at me. “He’s so wrong. Move on,” they shouted.

“There’s a smoking gun behind his back, count on it,” my sister blurted.

“It’ll never work,” another said, always quick with the naysays. “You’re too different.”

“Don’t forget the religion thing,” a fellow yogini warned rolling her eyes.

It was true: my new heartthrob was all of what I wasn’t: a born again, meat eating jock, and a single father of two divorce-traumatized youngsters, a recipe for disaster for a person like me, they all said. I was a loner-artist, a lifelong yogini, and at times, known to be allergic to nurturing myself much less anyone else.

My meditation friends all agreed, even those espousing embrace-everyone’s-differences unanimously warned: Stay Away from Him.

But what can a girl do when her heart speaks a different language than the heedings of family and friends? Every time I tried breaking it off with him, and believe me, there were many as we seesawed in the Should We/Shouldn’t We dance, weighing feelings versus facts, clearly seeing the risks of following-our-bliss – I always ended up needing to know this man, even before I knew what he looked like.

It was his voice that first pierced the wall I’d neatly built around my heart.

All those years of trying, always trying, and in the end, failing at love, had left me fearful and cynical. I’d just determined that it would  take a harem of my own, filled with Speedo-clad yogic adepts, men who meditated as passionately as I and then made ravishingly sweaty, athletic love to me – plus a scholar of botany; and a musician, a harpsichordist, perhaps; and a scuba diving, round-the-world sailor to nicely sum up my multifaceted needs in a partner.

Just when I was working on envisioning my harem – Carter called.

~

He’d called because a friend of ours dared him.

“teZa has done what you now want to do, if I’m hearing you right,”  our mutual friend Elsbeth had told him. “She’s off booze and drugs for years now.”

Turns out, he and I had met Elsbeth at different spots in the Western Hemisphere. I met her when I lived in the West Indies and Elsbeth was a tugboat co-captain with five kids. I’d heard her mention Carter’s name a few times over the years I lived in Dominica, operating an island-trade business from there. Carter, back in the States after his own travels took him to South America, had known Elsbeth when he’d worked on her family’s ocean-going tug.

After each of our southern sojourns, he’d first gone to New York to make movies before ending up in Central Florida. The day of his call I was living in East Hampton, making millionaires’ gardens in between art works, enjoying the life of a finally sober, newly awakened seeker.

I picked up the phone that spring morning in the Hamptons. “Hi, This is Carter,” a deep voice resonated within me.

“Oh, I’ve heard of you from Elsbeth.”

Silence on the other line for a couple beats.

“Carter, you still there?”

“You don’t remember meeting me?”

I could hear my swallow, a loud cartoon balloon: “Gulp.”

Nonplussed, Carter related our first meeting, twenty years before, in the top floor Boston apartment I had, back at the beginning of my yearnings, before I knew that what I really was seeking was the inner glory, not the outer shimmers and gold rings dangling from the next adventure, next relationship, next career move. Change was my only career course back then, and I rapidly climbed its rungs of success.

But wait. I was Now sober. I’d been working on my shit for seven years already. It was the Now that drew me in like a fish on the line.

Something about this voice. This man. I didn’t recall him. How could I? I was obsessed with change back when he says we met, ever so briefly, two ships slinking past like far off shadows in an inky night.

“It happened. I never forgot meeting you because you sSshuned me,” he says.

My ear never heard such a sound! The way he pronounced his S’s, as if he whispered them but the rest of his words, plainly spoken. Every time he hit an “S” my belly throbbed. Something weird was getting activated in there. What the heck is going on? Is this guy a magician or something, I wondered.

We talked that first time, he from suburban Central Florida, where he’d gone to lick his wounds, he said, his tail between shaky legs after a disastrous marriage, bitter divorce, vicious custody battle, his first feature flopping and subsequent financial ruin.

“Oh – you have kids?” I repeated what mattered most to me.

With that spoken aloud, my breath got sucked away.

Never once had I identified myself as a breeder. If anything, as soon as kids came around, I’d make a mad dash for the nearest exit. On the phone, I’m confused for a moment in this Now. Should I listen, ecstatically as I had been, to this faceless, formless voice I don’t know, who’s hypnotizing me with his S’s, or should I quickly get off the phone?

“YesSs, my kidsSs are the lightsSs of my exisSstence,” Carter added.

I was his. With that one spellbinding proclamation, both in its content and mesmerizing effect, my heart double-jabbed, knocking all rationale within me senseless.

What followed was something I never dreamed possible. Instead of a harem, true love came for me: because I was ready. So I threw myself madly into the bowl of cherry-flavored S’s: Spiritual and Sensual fulfillment, and not so eaSy Sacrifice. The last was the hardest, but every sweet has a bitter note in its guarded recipe, otherwise the taste and sensation is dull, ordinary, noncommittal.

Within a few weeks I was on a plane to see Carter’s face for the first time. He remembered what mine looked like, he claimed. I didn’t need a face recognition program, if one had been available at that time, the early nineties, because I instantly remarked the beaming aura of light surrounding a tall man, whose features were blurred by a radiance of happiness as he stood in the back of a throng of greeters at the Tampa Airport.

We did our dance. We learned both our stories’ details, each of us coming together with a mixed bag of pre-existing conditions as every over thirty-something has slung over their shoulders.

After a long career making movies Carter was forced to throw it all over when money ran out and kids came along. Somewhere along the way he’d been born again, dunked in a gator pond, and now, as a full-custodial, single dad, was raising his kids to be committed Christians, like him.

Many phone calls ago, when he first mentioned the Jesus thing, I went quiet.

“Is there a problem?” Carter asked

“You know I’m not into religion, right? I love Jesus’ message of Universal Love, and Buddha’s before him and Mohammed’s after him, and the teachings of all the great illuminated beings, forever, everywhere. But I’m not keen on religion. That’s why meditation is my path. I’m a believer of God-is-Energy and the Oneness-of-All: that’s who I am. To me, religion appears to be as quixotic to modern humankind, as fatal as misused politics. Too much bloodshed over both of these. I’m apolitical and nonreligious – but I’m the biggest lover of Spirit who experiences God as Nature, and the interconnectedness of all. You have a problem with any of this, Carter?”

“Naw, as long as you love the Power beyond all understanding, I don’t care what you call Him.”

“Him, Her, or It.”

“Okay. Agreed. But I call him Jesus. That’s my bag. Agreed.”

“Agreed.”

Other differences popped up. To each challenge I said,

“Okay, got it. Weird, but, hey! – it’s your bag. You really live in suburbia?”

“That’s where the courts said I have to be, for the kids’ sake. This is where I grew up. Believe me, I hate it. We’ll move as soon as I regroup and replenish the coffers.”

My stomach did a flip when he told me: “I’m a Republican fiscally, but socially a Democrat.”

“Well I’m a nothing-can and a never-crat. Agree to let me be nonpolitical? I’m a spiritual activist, and on my path we do just as much as any campaigner ever has.”

“Agreed.”

Our many differences couldn’t shut off the steam valve that fed my love mojo. I wanted him. I needed him. His S’s went deep into my heart, soul and spirit. His easy laughter uplifted me, more than anyone or anything had my entire life. He was my harem of a dozen, rolled into one gorgeous, honest-to-God human being, despite his antediluvian political and religious affiliations, the exact opposite of mine.

When I met his kids, aged two and four, I fell triply in love.

The smoking gun?

“Well, you should know, teZ, that my ex-wife is a bit off balanced. She accused me of terrible things trying to win the kids in court. The judge ended up not giving her even joint-custody. In the end, her false charges only backfired.”

Soon after that plane ride to see for myself how a man who spoke a spell of S’s could have captured my restless heart – and discovered for myself that he was, indeed, all my imagined perfect mates, my harem, all rolled into one huge hunk of a sensitive-man package, despite his peculiar bags – I began to wonder if we possibly could make it together, being so different. He was willing to compromise; so was I.

After a lot of pre-marital counseling that preceded and followed our string of breakups in the next two years – we both held our noses and took the dive. None of our family or friends thought we’d make it.

The challenges of our differences is what makes our blended family so similar to so many others in our blended world culture these days. And they are exactly what has led Carter and me, and our now-grown children to become four better, mostly healed, tremendously more balanced individuals.

All our differences, instead of cement roadblocks, have been inspiring boosters, enticers, guiding Lights leading Carter, the kids, and me – our blended family, like humankind’s global blended family, also – to discover what really matters.

That Acceptance is the real power of Love.