By the time the dog days of August roll around, I start thinking of the change of seasons and cooler climates. So put on your warmest gloves, down coat and pull your hat way, way down over your ears and come to the Antarctic with me. And just in case you are wondering what the ‘red stuff’ is in some photos, it is krill droppings from the Antarctic penguins.
Grandchildren at times can be both joy and the backside of heaven!
I hate to admit it, but I have finally reached middle age, or to be more honest, I am just on the edge of the cliff from being ‘old’ at least in my grandchildren’s eyes. And who sees clearer than a bunch of pre-schoolers with virgin honesty that has not yet been corrupted by watching us adults? No one I have yet to meet in my travels, anyway.
For most of my adult life I have been writing about life around me as I see it. First as a CBS affiliate anchorperson and then as an author. And for several years now I have been writing about everyday living and how to make the most of it.
I am at my happiest when I am with my family or when I am creating. As much as I enjoy being in the public arena, entertaining, lecturing and helping other people, I was born a very introspective person. For some reason I have not always been able to comfortably share my own deepest thoughts and feelings, even with my closest friends and family.
Perhaps that is why writing so comfortable for me. What I feel, what I think becomes a fountain when put on paper. As a young girl with an older brother who was always off on his own with his friends, I learned to use my creativity to entertain myself. Being able to put my thoughts and feelings down has always been joyful to me.
During the 12 hour ride from New Jersey to Lexington, Kentucky this weekend I learned a new meaning for ‘sweet’ from my 18 year-old grandson. To me “sweet’ has always meant the stuff that packed the pounds onto my hips, the taste of root beer or the look on my little girls’ faces when they wanted something from me. But today it seems that ‘sweet’ has replaced ‘cool’ in hip teenage vernacular.
So when I think of aging gracefully, if there is such a thing, I say ‘sweet’. I told him about the comedian Jackie Gleason’s famous line as his character Ralph in The Honeymooners, “How sweet it is!” To me that always meant things were darn good. So maybe this current tweaking of the meaning of ‘sweet’ is not too far from Ralph’s gleeful proclamations years ago when life was rockin’ with Alice.
All of this thought pattern continued when in Lexington I picked up at the local Barnes & Noble a copy of Dr. Andrew Weil’s book, “Healthy Aging.” According to Dr. Weil we all begin aging from the time of birth. (Whoa! Isn’t that a depressing thought!)
He quotes the words of an Eastern philosopher, “The sun at noon is the sun declining; the person born is the person dying.”
Aging is really not reversible. But on the positive side, his message is clear. At any age it is important to learn how to live in appropriate ways in order to maximize health and happiness. That really should be an essential goal for all of us.
Our house was always haven to all creatures great and small, thanks to my middle child. A duck (Duddles) I raised on Romper Room from an egg. Dogs by the score. Ponies and horses. Cats found in sewer drains. Mallard ducklings without a mother. Fertile rabbits, hamsters, gerbils and a parrot named Pickles that she got from her third grade teacher. Her life became our way of life for years and I honestly miss that. So once in awhile I have to travel to Lexington, Kentucky to get my four-legged fix.
Sofi and I are closing the doors and going to the bluegrass and stone fences of Lexington to see my two and four-legged family. So, now if you are hankering to smell the green grass, horse manure and acres and acres of fencing along the winding roads of Stephen Foster’s (actually he was born in Pennsylvania)
“My Old Kentucky Home” then grab your backpack and come along with us.
The Forbidden City was the Chinese Imperial Palace from the Ming Dynasty. For five hundred years it served as the home of the Emperor and is located in the center of Beijing. I wore my best walking shoes for the steps, long walks, and hours of walking throughout the ancient walled city. The buildings, architectures and carvings were exquisite.
I grew up in Steubenville, a gloomy Ohio Valley steel town on the banks of the Ohio River and as a young woman realized my dream of leaving the industrial grime and smoke that I grew to hate.
Attending college far away from home was not only a way out, but also during my years at school, life afforded me a break. I was asked to audition for Bert Claster, the creator of a popular children’s television show, Romper Room, syndicated throughout the world. This occurrence changed my life forever and I began on a whirlwind of life-changing events that caused me to eventually lead a double life. My public persona was that of a successful anchorwoman, but my private life was one of personal pain and constant terror.
My mind was occupied with a stalker that had threatened my life and in searching for the truth, I discovered that it was my husband, who eventually was diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic. In 1980 he disappeared from the face of the Earth, never to be heard from again.
It took me eleven years to sort out the mystery of my husband’s disappearance and to also sort out my feelings when I discovered the truth.
When the ball dropped in New York’s Times Square on the Millennium and we all survived while entering the next century, I knew I couldn’t put it off any longer. I had to tell my story.
My initial plan was to combine a journal that I kept traveling the Nile River in 1984 with the story of my life and the investigation I started thereafter involving Jennings’ disappearance.
I wasn’t too sure that anyone but me would be interested in my emotional evolution during that prior journey to Egypt, so I gave my journal to several of my family and good friends to read. They encouraged me to go ahead and begin telling my story using my journal, but I decided to put it aside and just start telling my story right from the beginning as it was lived.
After years of trying not to think about my life with my husband and his death, I thought that if and when I made the decision to validate my pain and let go of the anger that there would be a great emotional healing that would release me. That there would be a great catharsis that would set me free.
So then why was I sitting there trying to fight back not tears of joy, but of emptiness. Why was there no feeling of an end for me? An end to my life with him, a severing of the cord for once and for all. He was gone and now I could get on with my life.
But as I sat there I knew there would be no end for me, and no end for my children. How could I not have seen it before? Knowledge gives us power, but it would never give us complete closure. We can never erase the days and years he was a part of our lives. Those memories we will carry forever.
So I have traveled this long journey to discover that in the end to find answers is just part of the closure. And it is not the most important in the trilogy of finding peace within. It is the confronting of truths and the forgiveness of trespasses against us that brings final peace and closure.
So that is my story. That is part of who I am. The answers I had looking for closure had released me to another journey that begins for me everyday my feet hit the floor. I can’t wait to see what is around the next bend in my after-fifty road. And I thank all of you who are willing to travel with me as I experience life and living here on this planet we all are lucky enough to share together.
What words plea
Upon the page
To tell my tale
Expose my soul
So I can feel
So you can see
What I know?
©Sandra Hart 2012
We were driven from the port at Port Elizabeth to the Amakhala Game Reserve by a very proper English gentleman who had served in the British Army as an officer in his younger days. Beautiful stretches of open land and green trees passed by until our final destination where we were met with two friendly dogs who called Amakhala their home. Of course, nothing could have delighted me more than to have a four-legged greeting party.
This Safari was a dream of a lifetime for me. Just seeing the Big Five in their natural habitat, the hours of driving through the reserve trying to find them, hearing the sounds and smelling the African soil was really on the top of my bucket list. If I could only add all of those sensory elements to these photos!
©Sandra Hart 2012