Why I Cry and Cry Again . . .

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I am a crier. Not a town crier, mind you, but a boo too, sniffle, sniff and red-faced crier.

When younger, I would cry but it wasn’t that often. After I got through the skinned knee stage, my tears would be contributed to school girl disappointments that I thought surely would bring the end of my world. My mom would pat my back, tell me everything would be alright, and would I please go fold my laundry. Daddy would get a bit impatient, ask me what was wrong (so he could fix it because that is what daddies do), then try to make me laugh.

Girls get the “over-emotional” label unfairly written on their personality, but emotions involve much more than tears.  Maybe we just express ourselves easier, but easier is not the best word because there is nothing easy about crying.  Tears of any kind will eventually leave you profoundly changed – refreshed, cleansed, aware, and wiser.  Personal growth is never easy and never experienced without your tears.

Through the 20’s, 30’s, 40’s, I seldom cried. There were personal tragedies and betrayals and hopelessness, and I certainly did my share of sobbing through these times, but for the most part, I stayed pretty tough, dealt practically and lived with an encased heart.

Today, life is quite different.  Yes, it is true that I cry nearly every day because nearly every day something happens that causes me to cry.

Living in the Rocky Mountains has allowed me the freedom to reintroduce my soul to feelings and wonderment, sadness and hope.  I cannot have a pretense or carry a façade when nature has so freely welcomed me to live out loud.

When Zia was born, tears came without warning, and even speaking of her tightened my throat, as the awe of this little girl overwhelmed me. Even now, nearly 5 years later, the love I have for her sometimes leaves me powerless to hold back the tears.

When my marriage ended, I cried buckets full of sadness. This was the darkest season of my life, but I saw the tears as a salve applied to bring my healing, and it did.  Sadness is now replaced with acceptance and trust that I am doing just fine.

Today, I cried, out of the blue, because I received the most caring message from an old friend whom I had not talked to for decades. He shared with me high school memories he had kept, and that I have thought about  for over 40 years but never talked about.  His kindness, and learning that he remembered the moments just as I did, was enough to bring me to tears of sweetness. There was no way to put this gift into proper words, but tears speak a perfect language.

Throughout my day there are many moments filled with kindness and goodness, and I cry.  Likewise, when I see injustices toward a weaker soul, I cry.  Every time I hear my brother tell me he loves me, I cry, because of the love I have for him.  Hallmark movies leave my popcorn soggy, and many times sheer happiness turns itself into tears.  When one of the young men at work gives me a hug and says, “Thank you” for helping or encouraging or understanding me, I cry.    If I hear a child cry, I want to hold him, listen and hug away his sadness.  When I pledge allegiance to the flag, I tear up, and I can never hear “Amazing Grace” without my soul being thankful through the tears.  I weep for the homeless and hungry and sob for missing babies who will never return home, and I will cry when these same little ones are found.

It may sound strange, but I rarely cry when I am sick, unless the nurse has just stabbed me the seventh time trying to get blood.  There is nothing sentimental or endearing about a bed pan or head hung over a toilet, so cranky works here just fine, but I have never heard the words that sound like terminal or transplant or there is nothing more to do.  If that day comes, I will cry.

Some people will cry when angry, and I once was one of them because I was too afraid to express myself.  These days, when angry, I deal with it without the tears.  This is not to say that words don’t hurt and my feelings aren’t injured, but these I can deal with intelligently, or so I try.

This would not be written by me if it were not completely honest and transparent about my life and the its lessons, so I must also tell you that I do still cry from sadness and hopelessness and loneliness, but the tears dry up quickly and are remembered as just another moment in time.

Will I ever cry myself dry?  Do others cry as often as I do?   Will I one day be tough again and unaffected by the life around me?  Should I apologize for the times my tears expose me?   I have decided all the answers whisper, “No”.  This is who I am, and when my days happen with wonderment and friendship and love and acceptance and life, my heart will cry, and my tears will fall, and I don’t know how to tell me not to.

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Home, Estes, Home . . .

Four years, 7 months and 21 days ago I loaded up the Buick, scooped up the Yorkie and headed west toward Colorado.

images-6I visibly remember the anticipation and excitement I felt when coasting into town, passing the Estes Park welcome sign, making the curve, and experiencing those mountains wrapping me in a massive hug.

In the few years earlier, I had vacationed in Estes 3 or 4 times and remembered visiting a few shops, snapping pictures of the sauntering elk and  sipping a few samples of wine.  It was in making this my home that I actually became intimately acquainted with this village that is alive with all things possible.

To be fair and truthful, I came to Estes only because my daughter, and then son-in-law, visited, felt the mountain tug, and relocated to nearby Pinewood Springs.  I was perfectly content in visiting a couple of times a year and returning to my life, career and routine in Illinois, until my daughter announced a baby was coming, and my lifelong dream became my call of duty.  Now, I cannot imagine being anywhere else.

Estes Park is a mountain community where the finest, the fittest, the nicest and the most giving people live.  This sounds unrealistically flowery, but it is the truth.  Everyone is a neighbor eager to make me feel like I am the missing ray of the sun. We are a happy people.

A small amount of people live here, and a massive amount of people visit here.  In that first summer, I did not know what to think of the “Invaders” who landed here to take over for 5 or 6 months, but over time, as I have fallen in love with Estes Park, it is flattering that guests from all over the world feel that our quaint village is a destination worth visiting.  It is enjoyable to answer their many questions and take the opportunity to boast about home.

The weather in Estes is what the weather is.  When hearing of snow coming, we hope in feet instead of inches, and when spring arrives, we disconnect the cable TV, grab the sunscreen and head outdoors.  It is true that it gets a bit breezy up here at 7,522 feet, but I have come to appreciate it and hang on to my hat!  The meteorologist never upsets us because we know whatever is heading our way, we will not only deal with it, but will enjoy it!

You only need to read the two Estes Park publications, The Estes Park News, Inc., and The Trail Gazette, to know that you are safe here.  In my nearly five years living here, I’ve heard of 3 minor burglaries.  We do jay walk and sometimes speed, and may keep a library book past its due date, but, fortunately, this never makes the newspapers.  We offer a safe haven.

Estes is a magnet that draws the quirky, the settled, the adventurer, the reclusive, the talented, the entertained. Remembering the hundreds of people I’ve met, many of whom I now call friends, the unspoken user agreement is that anyone who is honest and kind and respectful of their surroundings, is alright.  We are an accepting bunch.

You will, when visiting Estes Park, always see fun and interesting things, like Santa Claus in June on vacation, or hundreds of rubber ducks bobbing along The Big Thompson River, scurries of ghosts and goblins, dancers and pirates at the city-wide trick-or-treat party, rodeo parades, magicians, Bob Denver look-a-like singing Rocky Mountain High, men marching in traditional Scottish kilts, or, like today, an old man doing push-ups in the middle of Barlow Plaza.  We are a comfortable place.

This is the town where the mayor spends a morning reading Green Eggs and Ham to a handful of preschoolers and a police officer holds the hand of a little boy crossing a busy street.  I know the names of the children of the woman where I pay my electric bill, and at my bank, the teller saves his DQ coupons for Zia.  The clerk at the pharmacy wears a sign around her neck offering free hugs, and she means it!  My favorite breakfast stop has my tea ready before I hit the booth, and the theatre sells me popcorn when I have no plans to see a movie.

The way I see it, when I moved here, and had an address, I was a resident.  When I adopted the community and its people, I became a citizen.

Since arriving on July 7, 2008, I have experienced several triumphs and many tragedies.  Estes Park is a peaceful place, and the only stress is what you imagine.   No matter what is happening, the mountains reach out, the solitude whispers, the river soothes, and the people care.  With the triumphs, I am free to dream the bigger dream, and in my tragedies, I found strength to move on toward another day.

The mountains, the village, the citizens share with me an idyllic setting I call home – a wonderful, fun, perfect-for-me home.

Deciding that I have no words worthy to describe the beauty that surrounds me every day, I am choosing instead to let my friend, Dick Orleans’s breathtaking photography convey to you where words are lacking.  All photographs except the opening image of the Estes sign, which is a stock photo, and the photo of the River Walk, which I took, belong to Dick, and I am sharing them with his gracious permission.

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