One Day You Wake Up and This is Your Life

Whether you married, whether you divorced, moved to another city, adopted a dog, adopted a baby, had children of your own, never had a child, parted company with a childhood friend, bought a house, sold a house, lost everything, found it all over again, really loved someone, took that pill that made it all go away and then took it again, had a drink and had another, lied so many times you no longer know the truth, said things you knew you shouldn’t have said, kissed someone that wasn’t yours to kiss and then wanted so much more than that kiss, brushed against someone in the grocery store that you never knew and will never know but fantasized about them that very night, lost a parent – a sibling – a partner and were left with a space that will never be filled, hid in someone’s arms and melted away, left someone standing with their heart in their hands…

Some things stand out. The love you have for those who surround and love you. The career you have chosen and the passion you have for everything outside of those work hours – the art, the literature, the cooking, the tasting, the wet kisses, the hug, the hold, the wasted time that you thought was endless that always ends, the things you still want to do, the places you still want to go, the news of a friend being sick, the thought of that being you, the smell of a new car, the renovations finally done, the hands you hold, the chances you take, the moments you breathe, the seconds you panic, the hours that go on forever, the hours you wish would last, the person you miss and what you would say to them if they returned for just 3 ½ minutes.



                                   


Every chance that passed you by, every spark of magic that ignited your senses, every second, every moment you would live differently or the same, every thought you’ve kept to yourself, every choice you’ve made even when there was no choice at all.

This thing, this life you live, this and that, here and there, how it travels, how it flows is through the love you have for others not the love you have for yourself.

It’s the last thought you have before falling asleep and the first thought you have when you awake.

It’s the face of someone who has passed from this life that you see every time you close your eyes and it's the understanding that as your eyes open; you will never see them again.

Life is short.
Life is long
Life is sweet
And then it’s gone.

WAKE UP - THIS IS YOUR LIFE


Raise awareness - Erase the stigma before mental illness does any more erasing. Amen.

Pain


We all share pain

The way we share love

The way we share ourselves

We all feel pain

Some of us more than others

We all understand pain

We've all met pain

Walked around the block with pain

Joined it for coffee and a cigarette







We all fear pain

And loath pain

And wish it would let us be

No one should be alone in pain

But so many are

Pain visits us throughout our lives

It's there at the end
To remind us
Of the good parts

The sunsets
The sunrises
The kisses
Being held
Being loved

We drift off
Say goodbye
Follow the steps
Of one last dance

And pray
Wherever we go
There is no such thing
As pain

I Forgot to Marry My Ken Doll and Have Mountain Children and this is why

When I was a kid, my "happily ever after" (hereafter noted as "HEA") consisted of marrying my Ken doll (G.I. Joe was a close 2nd) and moving to Colorado where we would build a log home without a picket fence and have mountain children and a goat named Ed.



   




Then I went off to elementary school and when I was in that pivotal role of a 6th grader – not quite a child, not quite a teenager, I changed my mind and my HEA became  marrying a Veterinarian and having 5 dogs instead of 5 children and naming them Gus, Spade, Hank, Jack and Wilbur.

High school came along and my HEA became me and my friends moving to California and living together in one of those houses by Venice Beach like the ones in the movies where good looking, cool people live. We would run a taco stand on the boardwalk and play guitar and drink beer by a bonfire at night.

Then I made my way to University and all my HEA became – "What am I going to do with my life and how am I ever going to be able to move out of my parent’s basement and why can’t I keep a relationship going for longer than 3 months and why didn’t I move to Colorado with G.I. Joe or was it Ken?

Then I started my career and my HEA was a best seller, a loft in Old Montreal, a Mini Cooper (sky blue), a dog named Buddy, a boyfriend who understood that I need lots of alone time and two mountain children.

Then one day I woke up and I was 30. My HEA consisted of good health and lots of it, finding someone I could actually stand for more than 3 months who would be my best friend and my life partner, two big dogs and a log home made of logs and two mountain stepsons.

And you know what? I got some of that, lost some of that and now at the ripe age of 40 something, my HEA consists of good health because that trumps all else.

I have also come to the conclusion that Ken is just a doll.

His log home is fake.

He will never tell me that he loves me.

He won't be joining me for a game of  shuffleboard in the hot Florida sun.

And sometimes as good as something looks from a distance, it never looks the same from close up. 



I Still Love You

I still see you even though you are no longer here

I still feel the part of me that is you even though I am numb

I still look for you when I return home at the end of the day 

To an empty apartment where you've never lived and I never thought I would 

I reach my hands over to your side of the bed expecting to feel you there, warm, breathing beside me

Even though you will never sleep in this bed.





I still tell you about my day and something funny that happened 

Even though I can't hear you laugh or watch your eyes read my lips 

I still love you even if you don't love me

Because with all love, with our love...

There's the stillness

There's the movement

And somewhere in-between 

There is you

I Met a Man in a Beer Fridge and This is What Happened

This is a true story and it is fascinating. 

I went to the grocery store. I was in the mood for some Beck's non alcoholic beer (is there any other kind?). I am always hesitant to walk into that "walk- in" (I just said “walk” twice) beer fridge. I wonder “Who else is going to be in there and if a tree falls in the woods – does anybody hear? That tree being me – if someone decides to grab me in that fridge because I am taking the last case of Beck's non alcoholic beer?

 So I go in and it’s cold because it’s a fridge. I make my way around the maze of crates and boxes and then I smell cologne and I don’t wear cologne (although I do smell like Moroccan oil and it smells really good) so I know its not me. 

Then this large man (anyone is large compared to me) comes around the bend and smiles and says in a language I clearly do not understand or speak (but this whole thing is made up so it doesn't matter it's like when you have a dream you are back with your X and you hear yourself screaming "no not that - anything but that" and then you wake up and it did not really happen).

So here is what he says - the guy in the beer fridge - are you still with me?

“What are you looking for little lady?”

and I say...

“It’s a beer fridge – I’m looking for beer.”

He smiles, pats me on the back – which is strange because we are face to face.

I find my Beck’s beer, smile on the inside and then I turn around and the cologne guy is right up in my face. I am suddenly afraid and then to make things worse (worse than being alone in a giant cold fridge with a stranger who is close talking me)...



       

He puts his arm around me and walks me out of the fridge sort of like we are going down the aisle except my family is not in the front row and there is no little kid throwing flowers at people with flower allergies and there is no song playing “our song” that we would be dancing to while all of our friends and family watch on and wonder “When are they going to stop dancing to this stupid song and serve us some food?”

His family (whom I have never met because they were not in the beer fridge) speak the same language as he does and I still have no idea what language that may be even though I asked Siri (in case you are wondering she replied "only an idiot would marry someone they met in a beer fridge).

Then my new beer fridge husband and I exit the fridge as he bends downs and kisses my cheek. We go our separate ways.

I am completely confused as I head to the cash to check out – not because of what just happened but because I perpetually confused.

I pay, I leave, I return home, I get cozy on the couch and turn on Netflix. My dog is sniffing me extra intensely and I realize he smells the beer fridge man's cologne on my cheek.

I wonder “Will I ever return to that grocery store beer fridge?” and if so “Will he be there waiting for me?”




And as I reflect on that deep thought, I realize that this whole beer fridge experience has been way too overwhelming.

So I pour myself a Beck's and feel that buzz that I can’t feel (because there is no alcohol) but that I pretend to feel so I can float off into oblivion and decide on a wedding song to dance to with my new fridge husband

And there sits my mother in the first row (wondering- Where did I go wrong with this one?).

She shakes her head and waves her swollen, arthritic finger and says:

“I’m not paying for this wedding."

Cheers and please don't drink and drive - unless you are drinking Beck's 0%





Heartbreak


Heartbreak is a scar that you carry around hidden beneath your sleeve but always visible in your eyes.


No matter how much you grow or how many others you fall in love with, you never forget that one great, big heartbreak.


And it’s not just your heart that breaks, it’s your mind as well.  


You see life differently and everyone else you encounter thereafter is subjected to careful examination. 

You put on a brave face at work all day but when you return home you find yourself struggling to pick up the pieces of your shattered heart that have fallen everywhere and nowhere.


This break, this dark cloud dipping into your soul has brought you to your knees leaving you unable to sleep, think or eat. The pain so intense, you are convinced it cannot be tamed.




But for the most part and as time goes on, the thoughts and images fade and the pain lessens. The heart begins to heal and blossom and you open it up for business once again.


You realize that without a broken heart, you would never know what it feels like to truly love someone. 

You realize that even a broken heart beats.


We all experience heartbreak.


You do.


I do.


And any heart that has yet to be broken knows it's only a matter of time.

Deep Thoughts from a 40 Something Year Old Woman


Welcome to Lisa Audrey Cohen's....

Deep Thoughts from a 40 Something Year Old Woman

Is that a blow torch up my ass or am I just having a hot flash?

Something sweet to say to me: “Honey, you are just as beautiful as the day we met” or “I like you with whiskers”

What is that kangaroo pouch above my waist line and why does it remain there even when I suck my gut in and does it come with a baby kangaroo or just water retention (I’m naming the baby kangaroo Sally)?



Me and Bob Gainey - Having Deep Thoughts.



A Sports bra is highly recommended even if you are just sitting on the couch.  All of the action is heading down south toward the knee caps and the knee caps are creaking and aching especially when I bend, walk, run or lie down.


Heading down south use to mean heading to Florida.


Heading downtown use to mean …never mind.

Stop those Diane Keaton L’Oreal commercials. She is killing me. Does she actually look like that at her age? I don’t want to see her anymore. That goes for you too Cindy Crawford.
                                           

What’s foreplay?

I never intended to grow a beard.

Ditto for the sideburns.

I forget what I was going to say next and in 5 minutes I will forget that I forgot.

But I am sure it was another really deep thought from a 40 something year old woman.

Amen.






Strength

Strength keeps you standing even when the ground beneath you is crumbling.





When something traumatic happens in your life, the blow can be so severe that you find yourself knocking on a friend's door asking if you can borrow some of their strength.

And as you stand with your heart in your hand and an aching pain in your gut, you are fully aware that you may not be able to return that strength for some time.

Strength allows you to focus on the middle rather than the beginning or the end.


Strength is what gets you from here to there.

There will always be a demand for strength.


There will never be a demand for weakness. 

Just keep in mind that weakness usually shows up first.

It's up to you whether strength shows up next.



Breaking Up is a Form of Death

Ending a long, loving relationship with someone who has been your best friend, your other half and whom unfortunately you’ve grown apart from; is a form of death.

The pain, the abandonment, the tide of being scared and sick to your stomach and dizzy and confused comes rushing in and drowns you in its wake.

It’s a tear, a rip, a cut that won’t heal.

And as with death’s occurrence, there are arrangements to be made.

You can’t see straight or think or eat but you have to put it to sleep. You have to turn off the machines, say goodbye, bury everything, all of it – the smiles, the tears, the joint ventures, the good fight you fought as one, the losses, the gains, all of it deep beneath the ground never to be seen again.

Often there are others who will be hurt whether it be children, extended family, mutual friends or beloved pets.

And you know what? It’s an impossible situation because you can’t stay and you can’t leave.






And you wonder “How do I start all over again?”

Anyone who has experienced a break up knows that it leaves you feeling hopeless and lost. You search for answers you never find. You exhaust yourself. You lose your mind.

Breaking up is a form of death except there is no body, no burial and no funeral/memorial service.

There is mourning, there is the surreal feeling of whether or not it is happening and there is utter pain and darkness.

There is emptiness where there once was love and a sense of belonging.

But eventually, hopefully, there will be that moment when you pick yourself up, bruised and battered, hurting like hell and as impossible as it may seem, you will put one foot in front of the other and begin to write your next chapter.

Sending comfort to all of my readers who have shared their break up stories with me over the years - I am feeling your pain.


What it Means to be There for Someone


To stick your neck out and take the first hit

To stop focusing on yourself and instead focus on them

To lift them up off the ground by first spending some time on the ground beside them

To open your home, your heart and never make them feel needy

To listen and not speak

To be non-judgemental

To realize it is a very thin line between their fall and you falling

To endure some discomfort and inconvenience so they endure less

To understand  that being there for someone you love IS LOVE

To make a decision to stick by them and stick to that decision

To understand that although you may want to save them

They may not want to be saved







To give them everything you have to give 

Even if they don't take it

To wake up every morning

Wondering will this be the day?

They let me in

And to keep on trying

Even when you are at your wit's end

Because you know

That is what it means

To be there for someone

The Upside of Worrying

There’s a common ground between all of us and it starts with worrying.


Everyone everywhere worries about something.


We are born to worry.


Some of us turn it off better than others but for the most part it’s always there in the back of your mind pulling at you.


Health or lack thereof can especially bring on worry. It’s one of the most important things you can worry about. It’s something that you often have little control over but it can take control of you and your entire life in a fraction of a second.







We worry about love. Love isn’t free and it isn’t all that you need but whatever you do have of it and no matter how much you have of it; you worry you will lose it.


We all lose love and find love throughout our lifetimes.


We give our love away and we take love often without really comprehending its value.


We worry about our children from the time they are born until the time we leave this world and chances are that even when we are no longer here, our souls drift off free except for the worry we carry for our children.


We worry about money. Money matters no matter what anyone tells you, no matter how many famous quotes or songs there are about money not being important; it’s essential to every living being because we need money for food, shelter and nothing is free.


We spend our entire lives worrying about what just happened and what is going to happen next.


And while we are doing so, we miss what is happening now.


The truth is that worrying is exhausting but without it, we would give little thought to everything and everyone that matters.


We all worry.


We all love.


We are all in the past and in the future even when we are in the present.


And worrying is what keeps us there.

Where do Dogs go when they Die?


I have lost 4 dogs in my lifetime. I can’t convey the pain, the loss, the feeling of hopelessness but I can tell you that through this devastation, I became a believer. Actually I became a crusader. I prayed that some kind of Dog Heaven (such as Rainbow Bridge) existed; I proclaimed it the best place on earth where the most incredible souls roamed – a place too sacred and spiritual for those of human form.

                                                                         Buddy



One of the things that stuck with me after my dogs were gone was who will take care of them and how will they make it to wherever they go next? After all dogs need to be cared for their entire lives, they don’t grow up and move out and start a life of their own. 

I decided to Google "Doggie Heaven" and “Rainbow Bridge” and I read all this great stuff that other believers had written. Many were keeping in touch with their dogs as if they were skyping with them from earth. They imagined their dogs in this magical, beautiful place where they are eternally young, happy and healthy. All they do is play, eat and sleep ;much like they did here on earth.

I think dogs do deserve their own heaven but at the same time I selfishly wonder whether I will ever be granted a temporary pass so I can see my boys one last time.

I can’t live on rainbows or on stars and I can’t wake up and find my departed dogs by my bedside. I can’t bring them for a run in the woods or a swim in the lake and I can’t admire them from the couch as they sleep on their backs with their legs in the air.

 All I can do is close my eyes and remember their faces and hope that never fades.

I believe in rainbows, I believe in bridges that connect us to the souls we loved in our lifetimes, I believe my dogs miss me as much as I miss them and that if I write their names in the sky, they will see and know I haven’t forgotten them.

What do you believe?


Dogs See Everything Through Windows - Even our Souls

All of my dogs, past and present have shared something in common; they love to spend the day looking out the front window. Sometimes I wonder what it is they see or hope to see and then I realize that what they see is EVERYTHING; all the things we as humans take for granted.

To them the front window is sacred. Through that window they see us leave to work and then miraculously reappear at the end of the day.

I think dogs look through many windows in life; the ones into our hearts and souls and the inevitable one that takes them from this world to the next. 









The next time you catch your dog on the couch with his face smeared up against the window - join him.

You may learn something.

Just try not to lick the window - it makes a mess.


The Secrets You Keep



It starts like this…something happens that you don’t want anyone to know about.

Eventually it becomes a beast that eats at your soul. You need to release it and share it with someone else; someone you trust who has skin in the game because they have told you their secrets.

These secrets are usually “life changers” – the ones about your relationships.

You’ll regret this because the relationship, the hemming and the hawing that goes on and on – the battle in your mind – should I be with this person – should I move on – do they love me? – do I love them? – do they make me love myself?  The things they have done to you and you are doing to them…

These are best left alone. There is no room for 3. Eventually the person you tell will run onto the playing field like a coach telling you how to win the game. 






The spectacular secrets are the ones you have never told another living soul and they could light a room on fire.

Deeply rooted in your foundation, they are the reason you stay standing and the reason you are down on your knees. 

Reminders of people, places, kisses and mistakes;insecurities that have you pinned to the wall, regrets that smother you under a blanket of shame.

They are painful, dark and begging to be scratched.

And just as that one sacred secret teeters on the tip of your tongue, you step back and remember that every secret you tell is one secret too many.

Once told, it can never be untold. 

A Secret is a Secret.

The Art of Being a Father

Fathers are distant yet near.

The good ones do what they have to do before doing what they want to do.

They pick you up and hold you high.

They watch over you quietly from the sidelines.

They try to avoid distractions and temptation.

They try to be better than their fathers

Whether they were bad or good


My Dad - #26


And although they may not express it all that well or all that often...

Their love for you is constant

It follows you

Wherever you go

Wherever you are

Close your eyes

Return to your earliest memory

You are taking your first steps

And even though he is on the other side of the room

He is ready to run and catch you

If you fall somewhere in the middle

Where everything happens

Sometimes you make it into his arms

Other times he reaches out and grabs you

Breaking your fall

This plays on again and again

As life throws you up and down

And as your father remains there

Ready to catch you

Even when he has gone


Happy Father's Day to all the Dads here and gone.


How do you comfort your mother when your father passes away?

How do you comfort your mom after your dad passes away?

How do you convince her that everything is going to be alright when you are unable to convince yourself?

How do you expect her to just move on after having having spent most of her life with the same person?

He was her best friend. They loved each other, they hated each other, they put up with one another, they ate breakfast together, they ate dinner together – he asked “how was your day?” and she asked “how was your day?” and other times they ate in silence.

They forgave and forgot, they gave and they took, there was hurt and pain and joy and laughter. There was all that life could throw at them and all that they withstood as a united and powerful force created from love and devotion.

They sacrificed for you and your siblings as all good parents do in wanting more for you than they had for themselves.

They made a promise – in sickness and in health – knowing one would eventually fall ill while the other would remain healthy only wishing they were ill so they could go first.

                                          


She was there at the very end, holding his hand and telling him how much she loved him and how much she needed him and how she didn’t want him to suffer any more.

He was there, eyes flickering mostly shut, the last few breaths a struggle, the sound of machines, the stench of death all around the ICU. What did he know at that moment? What did he feel at that moment?

We will never know. She will never know. She will always worry that whatever she did in the end was not enough and nothing ever could be because what is enough when you can’t pull someone you love from the  jaws of death?

There will always be regrets and things you wish you had done differently, moments of guilt that eat you up.

We never expect them to go even when we know they are going.

She sits alone now no longer in the home you grew up in but instead in a strange new place in an apartment building  - a place she never thought she would be.

She waits for him to come home, for the sound of his voice, for his reassurance that she is still lovely and desirable and that she belongs to him and is deep within his heart.

She sees herself differently in the mirror, feeling old and frail and wishing her time would come because every moment on this earth, in this life without him is one too many.

So what do you say to your mother who has lost her husband, her co-pilot, her soul partner?

Say something, say nothing, say anything – it really doesn’t matter because she isn’t listening.

Rather she waits all day for night to come and then she waits for sleep and then she listens carefully for the sound of his voice as it rises like a ghost from the shadows and says:

“Close  the lights, close your eyes, shut off the world, think of me and only me and when you dream I will be in that dream, I will come to you, I will tell you that I am alright without ever saying a word and I will tell you I love you and I want you to live because you are alive and I will watch you every second – every image, every smile, every tear drop, every sigh and when it is time for you to come, I will be waiting even if it is forever.”

And she will wake the next morning feeling as if he did visit her last night in her dreams.

And every day that passes will be another day he is not there and though he promised to wait forever, she fears that forever will never come.

Soul Searching

As we grow older the pool of people we meet and befriend becomes larger and more diversified. Some are just acquaintances while others have been there during the worst crisis of our lives.

I have witnessed people truly coming together in support and out of compassion for one another and it is a beautiful thing. I volunteer as a facilitator of support groups for those suffering from mental illness as well as their caregivers. Often the people that attend my groups are living in a psychiatric ward or have just been discharged. Many of the participants were or are admitted at the same time and so they become familiar with one another. This provides them with a common ground and a shared understanding of the pain and daily challenges they all face.

They don’t pretend to be someone they are not. They are past the stage of disguises and stories and fake images. They are exhausted but they are fighters and they deal with the very essence of survival in the bleakest of moments.

Through these people I experience a refreshing dose of reality at its core and I would much rather spend time with any of them over someone who places judgement upon them.



 The thing is, if I were to meet one of these individuals at a party or a conference or on the bus, I would have no idea of their experiences - how could I?

If you really sit down and talk to someone without all the layers and layers of bullshit and you lay it on the line ... this is who I am, this is what makes me feel comfortable, this is what makes me feel awkward and I would really appreciate if you could do ...so and so... or not do so and so...

Can you imagine if that was the way everyone met and introduced themselves to one another? You would know their weak spots, their boundaries, their likes and dislikes and how to make sure you provide a positive and warm environment for them. Wouldn't that be a nice start to a friendship?

 The point is that you really don't know anyone until you give them the chance to tell you about themselves and even then you have to weigh the truth, the facts with whatever else is mixed into that recipe.

Everyone has a story - in all of us there is a novel to be read. These novels are filled with many words, verbs, adjectives, metaphors, phrases, question marks, exclamation marks and answers.

And somewhere in the middle or toward the end, if you look carefully enough, you will discover the root of our existence - the Soul.

It may slip by you at first but your gut will demand that you search again and dig up that buried treasure. A Soul isn't an easy find but it's there waiting to be discovered.

So at the end of the day, at the end of every day, you should ask yourself -

"Whose soul did I discover today?"

Soul searching is mystical.

Soul searching is movement.

Soul searching is not only how we find ourselves - it is how we find others and through them ourselves.

And like life  - it is a journey that is well worth the ride.

There is No Such Thing as Old Love


There is no such thing as old love

There is only love

Once you love someone

They leave an indelible mark on your soul

Even if they hurt you terribly

Or they somehow wandered away

You still have love for them

In that very place they left it









There is still a trace of every set of lips

That has ever kissed yours

Sometimes they are regrets

Sometimes they are blessings

You can’t bring an end to love

There are no walks or runs or rubber bracelets

To rid the world of love

Love walks out your door

You just have to believe 

It will march back throught that door

Without that belief

You just may miss it

Happy Valentines Day to all of those who have found love and to all of those still brave enought to believe they will find it again.