Tuesday, December 31, 2013


This was to have been the year of promise.  Last year about this time I said that I was committed to kissing someone I liked and who liked me at midnight 2013.  I also stipulated that it would be a male.  I posted a picture of Klimt's "Kiss".  It is 11:09 and things aren't looking too promising.  I forgot to write that the company that I preferred for NYE was to be human.  As I write, there is one dirty street cat... named "Z" sleeping on my chair... fat and fed.  I guess I will give him a kiss at midnight as the Istanbul fireworks begin.  It seems to be my only option.

It has been an interesting year for this international school counselor.  I have traveled much,
explored many new places, made some new friends, loved and taught some great kids.
I have been challenged and questioned... I have made some grave mistakes and fallen again into some old patterns.  I have loved and lost and come home to what I know best.  I have clung to my faith, and wept in my doubts.

The world however is in much disarray I fear.  Power has overshadowed freedom and peace.  Wicked rulers and dark powers freely range unchallenged.  Millions die of starvation and violence.  Children suffer.  Brothers and Sisters go without when some have so much.   Some of us are cocooned in comfort and rarely see the misery and desperation that is slowing encircling.
 Refugees are growing in numbers.  Water is diminishing in scarcity.  Our air is no longer pure.  Our food is reconstructed into something unholy in the name of commerce and we pay money for this poison.  Much of the wealthy world is anesthetized by sports and entertainment and plenty into believing "all is well".  Many are trapped by the need to produce continuously so as to maintain a lifestyle that is less that true.

All is not lost of course.

I am not a fatalist, nor a pessimist.  I am a realistic dreamer.  I know what is possible and I know that in time.. a change will come.  It will not come however without pain and struggle and great courage.

This past year... some people I know of, and too many that I know personally.... have left this plane of existence.  Died.  Passed. Here is a short list of the more notable folks:

Nelson Mandela                     Joyce Brothers                    Princess Fawzia                 Peter O'Toole
Margaret Thatcher                 Malcom Shabazz                 David Frost                        Ray Price
Chinue Achebe                      Jean Stapleton                     Tom Clancy                       Annette Funnicello   Mikhail Kalashnikov              Esther Williams                    Scott Carpenter                 Roger Ebert
George Jones                        James Gandolfini                  Lou Reed                          Hugo Chavez

This isn't even a complete or terribly international list.  But for better or worse... each left a mark.

And then there are others whose names most of my readers won't know.  Two beautiful young women who I had the privilege to teach... each within a few weeks of one another.  A good friend of the same age whom I loved very much, and with whom I shared the raising of young children.  An aunt.  A good friends' young sweet granddaughter......  A tragic list for the most part.  Not notable... but each life most remarkable.

It is ten minutes to midnight here.  The fireworks will go bursting all over this sprawling metropolis, and people will kiss and drink and dance and celebrate life.  As they have done for many years.  And we will continue until time forsakes us and every knee becomes bent in awe and wonder.

I do know and believe in  the existence of eternity, and hope, and a better life.  I also believe in living a present life full of the same...  Here is to you and yours... to 2014.

 Further on Up!  Further on In!

Fast Forward

On the road to Rila

Where was I?  Oh yes... Bulgaria.  A country I might not mind living in someday.  I was recuperating from a relationship fiasco by lighting candles in beautiful churches and drinking a lot with good friends.  Bulgaria was a whirlwind of delights.  The Christian iconography is some of the best I've had the privilege of ever viewing. It is so comforting to realize that the story of my Lord has been safe guarded over the centuries by artists who were capable of imparting truth, beauty, and the sacred without benefit of words.   I would highly recommend the crypt of the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral and a trip to the Rila Monestary.  Instead of describing either of these extremely holy and special places.... let me simply introduce you with some photos...

Two angels watch over Mary and Jesus

                                                                              Saint John

 Angel being sent by GOD
Alpha and Omega ... Rila Monastery

The Son of Love & Righteousness

                                   View of the mountains from the monastery window

Fountain at entrance to the church

Breathe.  Yes, peace.  I found much peace in Bulgaria.  It is not a perfect country, but it is beautiful and its people are lovely when you get to know them.  Which I did thanks to my dear friend John.  After spending some special time on my own, worshiping, praying, lighting candles and getting my bearings, I boarded a train for Plevin with my new found Canadian friends, Lorna and Ken.
We had been invited to spend some time in the small and somewhat remote village some distance from Plevin where I was promised a good time would be had for my birthday.  The train trip itself was marvelous with scenery that reminded me much of parts of Colorado and New Mexico.  We ate good cheese and fresh bread drowned in wonderful Bulgarian red wine.  The rest of the evening was kind of a blur with a very rainy drive to the village and more wine and eventually slumber in a second floor corner room of my own in John's lovely villa.

The next day dawned... my birthday.  I was not feeling so.... birthdayish.  But a trip into Plevin and some good old fashioned post communist Bulgarian version of alka-seltzer and I was ready (sort of) for my "surprise".  I was not disappointed!!!  John and Ken and Lorna, along with a lovely little family in the village had arranged an amazing spread of treats
and I was gifted throughout the evening with beautiful items, lovely songs, great food, more wine and a room full of real love.  I must say... it was one of the best birthdays I have ever spent... and five of the people in the room of seven were people I had only just met.  That is love.    All this time, the broken heart was mending,
 The man was still in touch via FB and wanted to get back together.  I wasn't so sure.  Strangers were treating me with more consideration than he ever had.  There were other adventures in the village over the next couple days... I got to wrangle a loose horse... and watch gypsy families ride along the road in their horse drawn carts.

I also helped feed the cats... which were not supposed to feed.

Now here is a lesson.... When my friend moved into his Bulgarian neighborhood, he was warned by a neighbor not to feed the one stray cat with a gimpy leg that kept coming into the courtyard looking for sustenance. He ignored the advice.  Soon... gimpy brought some friends and family, and before to long, my friend was supporting an entire cadre of felines who regularly stop by now for chow.  Why do we ignore the warnings?  Why do we go ahead and jump into waters that look wild and rough and maybe not exactly what will keep us safe?  I am of course alluding to the relationship that was looming back in Istanbul in a questionable state.  A relationship that
I knew was wrong in the first place.... but I had jumped in nevertheless, ignoring the warnings and the unsuitability.  Still....

My time in Bulgaria was very special.  I will go back to this beautiful place again.  Maybe I will retire there.... who knows.  As I finish this last installment of 2013, it is New Year's Eve day.  Oh, the Turkish bf...we did pick back up where we left off a few days after I returned home, but it didn't last.  It was sad, but not as sad as the first time.  I think we both knew we weren't suited for one another.  The gap between us was too wide... it was as if one day... it all dissolved.  No words.  No tears.  He left and I left and we never spoke again.  My prayers were answered and my quandary was resolved without issue.  For that I am grateful.

So... back to the end of 2013... I am alone again.  Oh I still have many friends and my faith, but in the partner sense, there is a return to that void.  I don't know what that whole affair thing was about... some people tell me it was an opportunity to learn about love and make one last relationship mistake before the real thing comes along.  I don't know.  Hope springs eternal I guess... but time is marching on and while I can say I am grateful for the few moments when I felt special as a woman, I do regret the decision to "feed the cat".  But perhaps this is a great day for regrets.... to expose them and lay them down and look at them for what they are.... then to let them go.  To whoosh them away into the past and to move forward.  I will blog tonight again.... as we slide into 2014.  Just to recap the year and to look at what dreams were fulfilled and which remain.  It's been a long recovery.  I am back though, and almost ready to look forward.