CONVERSATION WITH…CINDERELLA’S FAIRY GODMOTHER…Holding Onto Her Magic in Older Age   

Over the Hill on the Yellow Brick Road, I passed an Assisted Living Center. I wondered who might live there.  A ham and cheese sandwich came out and cried, “Welcome! I’m Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother!”  I tried to respond with sensitivity…

HAM AND CHEESE

Uh, actually, I think  you’re a ham and cheese sandwich.  You might be just a tad confused.

FAIRY GODMOTHER:  Ah ha ha.  I can see why you’d say that.  But I AM Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother.  I just had an unfortunate mishap.  I combined two different spells as an experiment and accidentally turned myself into ham and cheese on rye.

Oh. Of course.

FAIRY GODMOTHER: I’m not going to stress over it.  I have my health. That’s what matters.

Well…but…aren’t you going to turn yourself back into a Fairy Godmother?

FAIRY GODMOTHER:  I can’t remember how to do it right now.  I can’t recall which two spells I combined.  I’m having a senior moment.

Sometimes I can’t remember little things, too.  It’s so annoying and upsetting when I can’t recall names of movie actors… or internet passwords…or names of people I went to school with.

FAIRY GODMOTHER: Same here. But I try not to let it interfere with my creative process. I’m still an artistic soul.

I admire that. You know, I’ve been in creative meetings at my job when people realize I’ve already mentioned an idea… but I don’t remember I’ve said it before.  It’s embarrassing. I feel like quitting. I think I’m too old to be there.

FAIRY GODMOTHER: Hogwash. I don’t let that stuff hold me back. It is what it is.  I remind myself I bring a lot to the table.  And other people might not have the same assets I do.

I wish I had your confidence.

FAIRY GODMOTHER: You just have to take a deep breath and remember to look at your whole being. And if you have a shortcoming because of your age, figure out a way to make it work for you.

How?

FAIRY GODMOTHER: Well, for example, if one of my original magic spells is dated, I come up with a replacement that others might not have imagined.

Which one of your spells is dated?

FAIRY GODMOTHER: I’ve noticed not many people want to turn pumpkins into coaches these days. I did that for Cinderella to get to the ball, but now it’s old-fashioned. So instead of feeling like a useless fairy, I let my imagination run wild and created a new spell.  Now I turn microwaves into self-driving limousines.

I’d ride in one of those any day.

FAIRY GODMOTHER: Thank you! Then you’ll like this one!  People don’t want glass slippers with high heels anymore—like the kind I made for Cinderella.  The whole “suffer for beauty” thing is dying out.  So I designed a glass sneaker with memory foam.

Brilliant. 

FAIRY GODMOTHER: Thank you again!  You know, I’d love to talk more, but I have to meet Old Mother Hubbard in the dining room. She’s saving me a seat at her table for dinner.

Okay, sure.  But before you go, if you don’t mind that I’m asking, aren’t you just a little concerned about remaining a ham and cheese sandwich for the rest of your life?  What if you never remember how to turn yourself back?

FAIRY GODMOTHER: I’ve got it covered.  At the stroke of midnight, all my spells end. I always turn back into whatever I was before.

I guess SOME old spells are still the best.

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Blogger friends, I don’t think this is as easy as it seems. How do you hold onto your magic?

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CONVERSATION WITH…THE “F” WORD… As It Speaks Out On Older Age

Over the Hill on the Yellow Brick Road, after a rain shower, I watched a cloud pass away.  My mind wandered to a thought about my own life. As I grow older, it’s devastating and frightening when someone I’ve been close to is suddenly no longer here. Even when a celebrity passes on, I feel there’s something missing from life the way I know it.  I started thinking to myself, “Who or what will always be here for me?  Who or what can I count on no matter how old I become?”  Suddenly, I heard a bold voice cry out, “You can find the answer to that question in unexpected places!” I turned around, and there, standing behind me, was the “f” word.  What???

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Uh—you’re the “f” word?  Right?

FUCK: Yup.  It’s okay.  You can say it.  Go ahead.

Fuck.

FUCK: Very good.  And it’s not like you haven’t said it before.

True.  But, how or why can I count on you no matter how old I become?

FUCK: Think about it.  Throughout your life, behind closed doors, when you’ve been incredibly frustrated or extremely upset, what’s the first word that springs from your lips?

Fuck.

FUCK: Exactly!  I’ve always been an immediate form of stress release for you. I should be included on your health plan. I’m freeing!  For a fleeting moment, I make life feel better.  And as long as you can say me, I’ll always be here for you.  I’ll never go away.

I guess that’s comforting in a warped way. Now that I think about it, when I’m angry or very confused, you ARE always there for me. 

FUCK: Of course I am.

I mean, whenever I’m driving and someone cuts in front of me, if I shout, “You freakin’ idiot!” it doesn’t make me feel better. It has be to, “You fuckin’ idiot!”

FUCK: It’s a fit.

Or if I’m running to catch a train and the door slams a split second before I can get on, “Oh darn” just doesn’t work.  It’s gotta be, “Fuck!!!”

FUCK: Totally.

And when my kids were little, if I couldn’t find them and I was terrified, when they finally showed up, there were no better words than, “Where the fuck were you???” Then I could take a deep breath.

FUCK: You got it!

Although…my kids did start to imitate me in front of their friends. I suppose they might have been invited on more playdates if I hadn’t said “fuck.”

FUCK: The world isn’t a perfect place.

Anyway…I thank you. You HAVE always been there for me in a healthy way, and I see now you always will be.  It’s reassuring to recognize this as I grow older and feel more alone.

FUCK: Not many people thank me…

Well, in that case, dearest blogger friends, if you have compliments, examples, or words of praise you’d like to share about the “f” word, please write them in the comment box.  On the other hand, if this post has upset or offended you, I’m really sorry! I know it’s not for everyone, but I felt it was something interesting to think about and–

FUCK: Stop fucking apologizing!

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CONVERSATION WITH…LITTLE BO PEEP…A BITTER EMPTY NESTER

Over the Hill on the Yellow Brick Road, I noticed a woman with a sheep. Was it possible she was the famous Bo Peep who lost her sheep (from the Nursery Rhyme)?   Had one of her sheep come back? If she was Bo Peep, we had a lot in common! I’m an empty nester, too. I had to check it out…

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Hey there, by any chance, are you Bo Peep? You know, from the rhyme that goes, “Little Bo Peep, lost her sheep, and didn’t know where to find them.  Leave them alone and they’ll come home, wagging their tails behind them?”

BO PEEP: That’s me.  One sheep came back for a quick visit.  I’m smiling on the outside but crying on the inside.

Why?

BO PEEP: Here’s the part they never tell you about when you‘re an empty nester. When your kids come back to visit, you notice they’ve changed. And it hurts.

I get that. My daughter moved far away and when she comes back to visit, I see she’s adapted to her new environment.  She’s not exactly the same person she was when she left. It hurts to see that.  Selfishly, I miss who she used to be.

BO PEEP: Right!  And why do they have to go so far in the first place?  I mean, I raised my two sheep in a beautiful meadow with a sturdy fence so they’d always be safe.  I made sure they had organic grass to eat.  We settled in an area where the weather was perfect—not too hot and not too cold.  There were lots of nice sheep to hang out with. What more could sheep want?

Don’t ask me.

BO PEEP: Obviously it wasn’t good enough for my son sheep.  He whined it was too confining and homogeneous growing up in our meadow. He never wants to live here again.

So where did he move to?

BO PEEP: The African plains. He’s exceptionally fuzzy, so I worry he’ll pass out if he gets too hot. He’s not fenced in, so he wanders around wherever he wants to go—which makes me crazy.  And he’s seriously dating an elephant.

It’s a changing world.

BO PEEP: But it really hurts my feelings. I tried so hard to make a nice home for him.

All this hurts my feelings, too.  On the other hand, I remember when I was in my twenties and moved out of my parents’ house, I was sooo happy!  It was so freeing! I went out and did whatever I wanted whenever I felt like it! And I told my parents I hated where I grew up!  I said it was boring and superficial and I’d never come back.  I must have hurt THEIR feelings.

BO PEEP: Yeah.  Same here.  Before I was Bo Peep with Sheep, I was “Bo Peep with a Jeep.”  I drove that thing all over the world any time of day or night.  My parents never knew where I was. I was a wild woman.

I guess back in those days, we weren’t ready to be the women we are today.  We were…different. 

BO PEEP: And… now that my sheep are living away, I’ve become less active.  I’m quieter and take life a little slower.

Me too.  Maybe when our kids come home to visit, they also notice…we’ve changed.

BO PEEP: And it hurts them.

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­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­Hey there dear blogger friends, I’m still struggling with this.  If you’re an empty nester, how do you feel when your kids come back and you notice they’ve changed?  Or if you’re a younger person and have left the home where you grew up, how do you experience your parents when you return for a visit?

 

 

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CONVERSATION WITH…SNOW…STRUGGLING TO SURVIVE

Over the Hill on the Yellow Brick Road it suddenly started snowing!  And then…just as suddenly, it stopped and the sun came out.  I continued strolling through a park and passed a mound of snow.  I smiled and nodded to it.

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Weird weather, right snow?

SNOW MOUND:   Easy for you to say!!

What do you mean? The air is crisp.  It’s a nice day for a walk. The sun is shining brightly and—

SNOW MOUND: The sun is evil!  The sun is cruel!  Look what it’s doing to me!

Oh.  I’m so sorry.  I wasn’t thinking.  That was so insensitive—

SNOW MOUND:  I don’t have the luxury to go for a walk!  Or anywhere else! The sun is overtaking my entire being.  I don’t know how long I’ll be here!  Or what tomorrow will be like!

I don’t know what to say. 

SNOW MOUND: I hear people around me yapping about being empty nesters or dealing with age discrimination or turning gray.  They should just be grateful!

Well-

SNOW MOUND: Why is the sun attacking me?  Why isn’t this happening to you?

Uh—it’s not happening to me at this moment. But maybe someday—

SNOW MOUND:  I’m so angry!!!!!  I’m angry at everything and everybody who has a life!  Look at me!  I’m shriveling! I’m not “me” anymore!  My white curves are turning into a colorless puddle!

Maybe in some strange way the sun is doing its job.  There are cycles all around us.  Maybe this is part of one.  We just don’t recognize it.

SNOW MOUND:  I don’t have the strength to fight anymore…It’s too much of a struggle…

How can I help?  I want to help!!!!

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Moments later, the snow mound was gone.  All that was left was its puddle. But struggling to come up where the mound of snow used to be…was a flower.

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CONVERSATION WITH…The Graying Mona Lisa…Struggling with weight control in her older age

Today I visited the “Over the Hill on the Yellow Brick Road Museum.” When I entered, the first thing I saw was the Mona Lisa hanging on the wall.  I was shocked to see her there!  So I had to ask…

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Mona Lisa!  What are you doing here?  Aren’t you supposed to be in the Louvre in France?

MONA LISA: Yes.  But I had to get away from the Leonardo Di Vinci branding thing.  I mean, he was a great artist and all, but I’m getting older and I don’t want to be in his shadow till the end of time. The Mona Lisa painting was his creative vision, not mine.  My own creative voice is dying to come out. So I had to separate.

I know exactly what you mean.  I was a professional writer for children for years and years. I loved it, but I made a lot of creative compromises because of the brands I was supposed to be representing.  After a long time, I forgot why I was as a writer.

MONA LISA: I know where you’re coming from.

At some point, I realized I couldn’t think of one more song about the number three.   I had to move on and find a different creative voice within myself.  That’s one reason I’m here, Over the Hill on the Yellow Brick Road.

MONA LISA: Me too.

So, what’s your creative voice dying to blurt out?

MONA LISA: I’d love to tell the world the true, heartfelt reason I’m half smiling in my portrait.  It’s kind of obvious.

Do tell!

MONA LISA: Well, years ago, on the morning Leonardo was painting my face, it was taking forever.  I sat for hours and hours and hours.  I was starving.  I thought I’d pass out. I soooo needed a lunch break.  So, I started thinking about all the awesome food I’d stuff my face with when we’d finally break for lunch.

Like what?

MONA LISA: Bread, meat, fish, potatoes, tomatoes, kidney beans, Indian corn, chocolate, peanuts, pineapples, red and green peppers, turkeys and tapioca!  And I’d wash it all down with a glass of wine.

Sounds good to me.

MONA LISA: Yup!  The thought of all that food made me start to smile!  But then!  I stopped myself!

Why??

MONA LISA: Because I knew if I ate that feast, I’d put on weight. Quite honestly, I have the worst metabolism in the world.  Whatever I eat, I wear. Immediately.  I was afraid if I sat down and posed for the rest of my portrait, my stomach would stick out to the moon.  Leonardo would have to repaint that section and he’d be so pissed!

I can imagine.

MONA LISA: So I stopped thinking of all that food and didn’t smile.   But a second later, I started thinking of the food again because I was so hungry! I smiled!  Then I stopped!  I smiled! I stopped!

Hence the half smile.  So what did you finally eat for lunch?

MONA LISA: Green peppers and tapioca. I tried to strike a balance.  But here’s the bottom line.  Now, as I’m much older, it seems like no matter what I eat, I put on weight.

You’re not alone.  Years ago, I could go out for a nice, big dinner and the scale wouldn’t show it.  Today, I’ll gain weight from that one stupid meal.

MONA LISA: Me too.  But I’m still a foodie.  I  wrestle with how much I can eat vs. what’s unhealthy every day.  For the most part, I stay in the healthy zone, but it’s always a struggle.

That’s true for so many of us.  I guess it’s a “new normal” that comes with aging.

MONA LISA:  Right. But I’m hoping, from now on, when people look at my portrait, they’ll relate to my ongoing struggle to stay at a healthy weight.  I hope they’ll remember I’m always thinking of tons of food and ways I can modify eating it.  Maybe it will help them, too.

Well…Mona…you’ve already helped ME.

Mona smiles

 

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CONVERSATION WITH…A Kitten…Wondering If He Will Be Someone’s Last Pet

As I walked through a doorway Over the Hill on the Yellow Brick Road, I noticed a kitten who seemed to be searching for something.

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Can I help you?

KITTEN: I’m looking for a home.  I need someone to take care of me.

Well, I’ve had lots of cats in my life.  Growing up, I had a black cat, Midnight, who lived a good, long life.  And then, when I was in my twenties, I had another gray striped cat, Hamlet.  He lived a long life, too. When he died, I got Teddy, my black and white cat.  And when his long life ended, I got a Maine Coon cat, Bosley.  He died last year.

KITTEN: It sounds like you’re a good cat mommy.  What’s your name?

Cathi.

KITTEN: Cathi, will you be my cat mommy? Take care of me?

Uh…I’m not sure I can do that.  I mean, I’m older now.  You might be my last cat.  You’re just a baby and your whole life’s ahead of you.  What if you live longer than I do?

KITTEN: Well—

Or what if I get too old to hold you in my arms?

KITTEN: Then—

Or what if I can’t bend over someday, so I won’t be able to give you your cat food?

KITTEN: Uh—

Or what if my legs become too frail to play with you?

KITTEN: Well—

Or what if my hands are unsteady so I can’t pet you?

KITTEN: But—

Or what if I run out of money and can’t afford to buy you food?

KITTEN: Well—

Or what if—

KITTEN: Cathi?

Yes?

KITTEN: I just want to be with you.

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CONVERSATION WITH…The Old Woman Who Lived In A Shoe… Thinking of Downsizing

Walking along the Yellow Brick Road, I passed a ridiculously large shoe with a sign near it that said, “For Sale.”  I was curious, knocked on the shoe, and an old woman climbed out.

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OMG!  Are you the old woman who lives in a shoe? The one who had so many children she didn’t know what to do?  From the Nursery Rhyme?

OLD WOMAN IN SHOE:  That’s me.   But I’m downsizing.  Want to buy a shoe?  Make me an offer.

Well, my husband and I are thinking about downsizing, but we’re not ready yet.  I mean, we live in a charming, old house, but our kids have grown up and now it’s just the two of us. So much extra space.

OLD WOMAN IN SHOE: I know the feeling.  Believe it or not, all my kids have grown and left, too.  I’m an empty nester.

So, are you thinking of living in a smaller shoe?

OLD WOMAN IN SHOE: Maybe a sandal. It would be a lot easier to clean. The only issue is, a sandal isn’t enclosed so I’d have to live in a place where it doesn’t rain a lot. Maybe Costa Rica.

I’m actually struggling with the whole downsizing idea.  On one hand, every time I walk down the hall past my son’s room, and then my daughter’s room, I feel so sad.  It’s the end of an era.  There are so many memories here.

OLD WOMAN IN SHOE: I know.  I feel the same way. But then I think, all these memories are bringing me down.  How great would it feel to let go, start a new chapter in my life in a new home in a new place!

True. But what if we have grandchildren?  Wouldn’t it be great to have them over in our big home and tell them they’re in the place where their parents grew up?

OLD WOMAN IN SHOE: Yes. But wouldn’t that get old kinda fast?

I guess it might.  I mean, last week my son came to visit.  Even though we were in our house, I started to realize it was the conversation we were having and the laughs and silliness between us that made it “home.” 

OLD WOMAN IN SHOE:  Right.

And when my daughter comes to visit next week, the gigantic hug I give her at the airport will feel like “home.”  I guess “home” is a sensibility.  Not a place.

OLD WOMAN IN SHOE:  WE are home.

Yes.

OLD WOMAN IN SHOE: But here’s my problem. I always thought I’d live out my days as “the old woman who lived in a shoe.”  It’s the way the world sees me. I didn’t expect life to go in this direction.

Yeah.  It’s painful to change the picture you have in your head. 

OLD WOMAN IN SHOE: So painful.

But as long as you’re making changes, who says you have to live in a shoe anyway?  I mean, you could live in anything.  A sock.  A hat.  Underwear.

OLD WOMAN IN SHOE: Hmmm…underwear might be good.  Three entrances.

I hadn’t considered that perspective.

OLD WOMAN IN SHOE: Wait!  Actually, I just got a better idea!   I just thought of the greatest place to live ever!  It’s got five, narrow rooms and no stairs!

Sounds good.

OLD WOMAN IN SHOE: But if I live there, I’ll have to rewrite my rhyme. How’s this?

“There was an old woman

With children to love.

But when they grew up…

She moved to a glove.”

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CONVERSATION WITH…A Claustrophobic Caterpillar…Trying To Cope With Inevitable Changes

As I climbed Over the Hill on the Yellow Brick Road, suddenly I heard a small voice screaming from below! I looked down and realized I’d almost stepped on a panic stricken caterpillar.  I had to apologize!

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Caterpillar!  I’m so sorry!

CATERPILLAR: You almost gave me a heart attack!

I didn’t see you there!

CATERPILLAR: That’s what they all say.

Seriously!  Are you okay?

CATERPILLAR: As okay as I’m gonna get right now.  I’ve got bigger problems.

Like what?

CATERPILLAR: Like, I’ve been putting off going in a cocoon until the last possible minute. I’m claustrophobic.  But now the time has come.

I feel your pain. I’m claustrophobic, too.

CATERPILLAR: Really?

Yeah. I don’t do elevators, tunnels, airplanes, MRIs…whenever I can avoid them.

CATERPILLAR: Well I can’t avoid going in my cocoon anymore.  I’m exhausted all the time.  I’m always starving and stuffing my face with leaves.  I’m not the caterpillar I used to be. Every part of my body is telling me this part of my life is over.

 So, before you go in your cocoon, why don’t you take a Xanax?  Or have a glass of wine?  I have a glass when I take short plane flights. It takes the edge off for a few hours. 

CATERPILLAR: We’re not talking hours here, we’re talking weeks.

Well, at least you only have to go in your cocoon one time.  Then it’s over! And you’ll be able to fly!  Don’t you want to fly?

CATERPILLAR: No.  I love crawling.  I don’t want to give up my feet.

I hear ya. 

CATERIPLLAR: And I don’t want this part of my life to be over.

I know!!!!  I have two kids and I loved bringing them up.  But they’ve grown up and just left home.  I don’t want this part of my life to be over either.

CATERPILLAR: We’re soulmates.

Yes. But it seems the universe is pushing us to move on. We have no choice.

CATERPILLAR: Yup. I have to fly.

I have to fly, too.   I mean, my daughter lives far away now. If I’m able to get myself to sit in a plane for five hours, I can visit her a lot.  And if I’m able to fly even longer, I can see so many parts of the world. I’d like that.

CATERPILLAR: Maybe flying will open new doors for me too. Maybe I’m part of something bigger that I can’t see. So, I guess I’ll take you up on that bottle of wine.

I said a GLASS…

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THE FOLLOW UP:

Weeks later, the caterpillar came out of her cocoon! Though she had a major hangover…

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…after a few hours she was able to fly in a straight line.  And me?  Well, since I’m still Over the Hill on the Yellow Brick Road, when I click my heels together I can visit my daughter in a flash. It works for now.  But…if you’re a bad flyer too, I’d love to hear from you.  What do you do on a plane to avoid jumping out of your skin?

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CONVERSATION WITH…THE QUIET 

Walking Over the Hill on the Yellow Brick Road, I plopped down in a peaceful meadow and had a conversation with…the quiet.

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Quiet? I can’t see you, but I can feel you.  Are you there?

THE QUIET: Yes.

Oh!  I’m sooo glad!  Because I need to be here with you, alone with my thoughts. I just need to be in timeless, empty space to think and feel out where I belong in the world.  Are you okay having me here?  

THE QUIET:  Yes.

You don’t say very much, do you?

THE QUIET:  No.

Anyway…here’s the thing. I’m in between worlds. I mean, I used to think quiet was a bad thing.  I thought “quiet” was something to avoid.  It wasn’t enough to be alone with quietness.  It was depressing and empty.

THE QUIET:  Uh huh.

But now I love the quiet. When I’m with you, my thoughts roam free. Maybe they’ll find a place to land. I notice things around me. My feelings intensify. 

THE QUIET:  Uh huh.

I need to sort things out. To look back at where I’ve been and where I’m going…inside my older body. What kinds of adjustments can I make so I won’t be anxious or depressed as I unveil new, passionate feelings?  I don’t know.  I need to be in the quiet. For days or weeks or months…

THE QUIET:  Uh huh.

Do you mind that I’m rambling?

THE QUIET:  No.

Oh good! Because I need to be here with you, alone with my thoughts. I just need to be in timeless, empty space to think and feel out where I belong in the world.  Are you okay having me here?

THE QUIET:  Yes.

You don’t say very much, do you?

THE QUIET:  No.

Anyway…here’s the thing..

 

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CONVERSATION WITH…An Autumn Leaf…Trying to Understand Why It Has To Go

Over the Hill on the Yellow Brick Road this morning, I was hiking through the woods when I heard an orange leaf cry, “I won’t do it!  I won’t do it!”  It sounded like leaf abuse so I checked it out.

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Leaf?  Should I call 911? What’s going on?

ORANGE LEAF: I won’t let go of this tree!  I love it here!  Everything I know is here!

So what’s the problem?  Hang onto your branch.

ORANGE LEAF: I can’t!  My stem is weak. I can’t hold on anymore.  Why is this happening to me?!

I wish I could tell you!  It seems to be the way of things. For all of us.

ORANGE LEAF: But it’s crazy! I mean, I don’t know how I got here in the first place. And now I don’t understand why I have to leave.

I know the feeling.  Everyone does.

ORANGE LEAF: I’m not ready to go. I love life. I had a great budhood.  I had the best greenage years.  I love making shade. I love dancing when there’s a breeze.  And there are so many memories here!  The day the kite got stuck.  The bird that built her nest here. The day her eggs hatched. Watching her babies learning to fly.  And while it was all happening, somehow I turned orange. I was so busy I didn’t notice.

It happens fast.  For everyone.

ORANGE LEAF: But I don’t want to go!  I don’t want my life to end!

It isn’t going to. You’re just moving on to a different phase.

ORANGE LEAF: How do you know?

Because I can see there’s a lot beyond you that you haven’t experienced and don’t understand.

ORANGE LEAF: Like what?

Well, you’ve never seen the ocean.

ORANGE LEAF: The what?

And you’ve never seen a mountain range, a canyon, a desert, a volcano —

ORANGE LEAF: What are you talking about??  Why is it that YOU’RE able to see all these things?

Because I have a car.

ORANGE LEAF: A what?

It’s not important. I’m just saying, when you let go, you’ll be ending one phase but starting another.  You’re part of something bigger even though you can’t see it right now.

ORANGE LEAF: Well, how am I gonna get where I’m going? So I can see all these things?

The wind will carry you.  Have faith.

ORANGE: Ugh. There’s so much I don’t understand.

Me too…

Copyrightoverthehillontheyellowbrickroad2017