The Art of Being Single

Yesterday was the third year anniversary of my beloved Gordon making his transition into the Light and leaving the Earth plane for the next stage of whatever was to be. Everything in me insisted this was the perfect time to start preparing a space for Gordon to enter this book.  There's nothing remotely chronological here anyway, and I prefer it that way, yet I am aware that it may be a stretch for some to wrap their heads around. I last wrote about two-year-old Kimberli who was an only child then.

Here's a quick jump to 2016. I went on to have three more precious babies during the time I was married to Kimberli's father. My little girl dream of having two sons and two daughters had been realized and I loved being the mother of those four amazing little people. The short version from then to now is that Hal and I divorced in 1972, I met Gordon in 1979 and we were married in 1982 and he "went invisible" in 2013. I'll revisit those years here some day.

I keep going back to a belief I finally grasped that all time is simultaneous. If everything is happening at once, then our human-made calendars are not snapshots of bedrock reality, so those neat little boxes and dates don't really matter if time is an illusion. I can buy that intellectually, though I'm grateful it's not obvious to us or I think we'd find a way to pop in and out of our simultaneous incarnations and that would get very confusing, to say the least. I don't know about you, but I'm not ready for that yet. What I am ready for, is to acknowledge that this moment is All-That-Is, and I want to keep doing my best to create one good moment after another.

It's always Now

As I look back, I see how my single years gifted me with amazing opportunities for growth. It wasn't all rainbows and unicorns at times but every twist and turn escorted me to this very moment in No-Time. I expanded who I thought I was and made space for whomever the next version of me would be. Don't laugh, but for awhile I wondered if we were actually robots or maybe aliens, or more likely just brainwashed by our cult-of-choice to fit into neatly labeled boxes so we wouldn't be tempted to think too much. Would my essence, the very core of my being, always remain the same? I hoped it could and sensed it would.

I had discarded any religious beliefs I was spoon-fed after I realized I was allowed to think for myself. I was 28 at the time. That realization excited me beyond belief! I had a strong urge to write letters to three people I felt close to and tell them about my revelation. One relative never answered and the other two asked why it had taken me so long to realize that. It wasn't the validation I had hoped for. I had not yet discovered that religion and
spirituality were not synonymous. Spirituality was up the road waiting for me to discover it, but I could not yet see beyond the bend.

I had left my suburban home with $100 to my name and hadn't worked outside the home for 15 years. I've said that so many times that its sounds like a mantra. I don't want to repeat it ever again. I like to think it was not an "oh-poor-me" manipulation. It was more about my need to reboot and discover what miracles were ahead that I could create out of nothing. I hope that doesn't sound too ridiculous. It was a hurtful thing to do on so many levels, but something in me had to do it or die. Literally.

Now I understand that I had to prove I could manifest a life I felt was waiting for me. Deep inside I also knew I had to do it on my own. I had no idea what that life would look like but I mustered the courage to step out alone to search for it. I thought it was strange that all of my former friends and neighbors had nothing further to do with me after I got divorced. There was still a stigma attached to divorce back in the day. I guess I really did have to make this journey alone, though I'll never forget the people who helped me find my way at the very beginning by opening their homes to me. I thank you from the bottom of my heart. You know who you are.

What if I

Soon new female friends appeared and filled the vacuum and suddenly I realized I wasn't alone at all. Most of them were doing the same thing I was, searching to discover who else we were besides wives and mothers. Those roles were great but men had the satisfaction of being husbands and fathers, too, but they also had an outside life away from those roles. Their lives seemed so much more interesting and fulfilling. Without knowing what was happening out in the new culture I wasn't part of, I can admit I was becoming part of the women's liberation movement without formally joining it. Not officially, anyway. I was raised by a frugal mother who taught me to be practical, so I never considered burning my bra to make a statement, but I did allow myself not to wear one when I didn't want to.  I could feel the caterpillar that I once was, very slowly morphing into a Monarch butterfly. One thing I knew for sure, I was not going to migrate out of Gainesville.

                            Chisholm quote       Rebecca West quote on feminism     

 You can never cross the ocean
                            unless . . .

A lot of my new friends had been '50s-wives and we all had husbands and babies and friends who were '50s-wives who had husbands and babies and friends. In our tight-knit subdivision in Jacksonville, Florida, I didn't know any mothers who worked outside the home once their husbands had completed their education and made enough money to take care of the family. The men seemed to take pride in that role back then. Having a working wife seemed to make  a lot of men uneasy, maybe because people might think they weren't man enough to do what white middle-class society demanded of them. They were in a box that overflowed with an enormous amount of hard work and too many responsibilities. Alcohol and golf were their  drugs of choice in those years. More women than not were satisfied with their relatively secure life and most seemed contented with their choices. I applaud them and I'm genuinely happy for them. Others of us realized there were other choices outside of those pretty houses in the Suburbia we once dreamed about. Some of us, like me, woke up from that dream and timidly opened the doors to a whole new world.

Obviously, I had to work if I was going to eat and pay the rent in an apartment somewhere. I took the first job I was offered, as office manager of the Shands Hospital blood bank on Archer Road. I may not have worked outside the home in years, but I had learned enough organizing skills raising four kids and keeping a house in order. How much harder could that job be? It wasn't. The worst part of it was that I got hepatitis-B from a blood sample before they had a vaccine for it. It almost killed me but they say what doesn't kill you makes you stronger. I recovered after a week in the hospital and three months at home and went back to work.

In my absence, I heard there was talk bubbling around the water coolers of a new community blood bank forming. It would increase our fragile blood supply. It sounded like a great idea to me. Part of my job was to maintain enough blood of each blood type to handle any emergency. To be good at my job, I had to learn to be a beggar for blood from out of town blood banks when our supply was getting low faster than we could replace it in critical times. At those times the only way to get enough blood was to buy it from a commercial blood bank. Of course I had to reciprocate if we had a surplus when other Florida blood banks had a blood shortage. We bought blood, but we never sold blood. There was definitely room for improvement in the system and I hoped a new community blood bank might be the perfect solution. It would make my job less stressful for sure.

I had no idea I would be asked to be the Director of Blood Supply at the new blood bank. I didn't have to apply or be interviewed, the job was mine if I wanted it. I must admit it was an ego-boost to be one of the first eight people who started Civitan Regional Blood Center in a little old house on NW 13th Street.
Soon my title was changed to Administrative Supervisor. I was still called Patti Normandy which is what my business card read.

Article in Civitan Regional Blood Center
newsletter, Heartbeat, December 1978
(I had no idea that the next month my life would change
completely when I met Dr. Gordon Edward Greenwood!)   

I loved the invigorating challenge of being part of creating something brand new. That's when I first realized that was my forte. The challenge of creating something new or improving something not so new excited me for the rest of my life. It still does. There's a certain thrill about creating something that never existed before, like a painting, or a song, or having a baby.

The little blood bank outgrew the little house and before long we were moving across the street into a beautifully designed modern building. As it expanded, the name was changed to fit it. It  grew up to be the Gainesville headquarters of the not-for-profit LifeSouth Community Blood Centers, that now serve over 100 hospitals in Florida, Georgia, and Alabama. That was after I left. I felt good about the part I played in its infancy but after awhile I tired of it. It was like every other job I ever had. I was ready to move on to a new challenge.

My problem was that I was stuck. I was totally attached to the blood bank and couldn't bring myself to leave, but that baby had grown up for me and could absolutely stand on its own two feet and grow without me. Two people helped me deal with my attachment. The first was my friend, Paul Hoffman, who had a plan for anyone in that kind of predicament. He suggested I figure out how much money I needed in my savings account to feel secure about quitting, basing it on having confidence that I would find another challenging job before that amount of money ran out. The amount was inconsequential and differed with your beliefs about yourself. I've used Paul's technique over the years when counseling other people who felt stuck. Their answers ranged from $500 to $500,000!  My answer was $5000. The other step in Paul's plan was that I had to resign from the blood bank as soon as I reached $5000. He told me that many people reach their personal goal and decide to save a little bit more, then another little bit more, and they never get over being stuck.

Sometime before that time of learning that saving money could be a path toward detaching from my job, Gordon had entered my life. He suggested I make an appointment with an astrologer friend he knew who was an excellent counselor. I thought it would be helpful to get a second opinion and agreed to see David Cochrane.  David's plan was very specific. It was useful to use in other circumstances, too. I've shared it many times since then. He said the first thing I had to do was write my letter of resignation and keep it in my uniform pocket for when the perfect time came up to give it to my boss, the late Colonel Glikes.

Next I was to remove all personal items from my desk, including photos, plants, the works. After that I had to clear out my files as if I were leaving immediately and then say a prayer that God would send the perfect person to replace me for whom it would be her/his dream job. So far it was easy. Then he told me to pretend I had blinders on and not to talk with any coworkers unless it was absolutely necessary. That turned out to be harder than I thought. In other words, I was making myself ready to walk out the door forever, or as David said, taking my energy away
from the place.

Three weeks after seeing David and implementing his suggestions, the Colonel called me into his office. He said he just couldn't work with me anymore! I asked if he was firing me and he said yes, but I could save face and resign. I laughed out loud and said I didn't care about saving face. I knew I had done no wrong. I told him I wanted him to fire me so I could get unemployment benefits. I had worked without a break for so long and really needed time to relax and recover. He was eager to do it so he could check it off his To-Do list, I'm sure. Then I reached into my pocket and handed him my letter of resignation. I thanked him for firing me and giving me a much-needed vacation. He never told me why he couldn't work with me anymore and I never asked or cared. I had manifested a way out and was getting rewarded by much-needed time off. I planned to use the time as a meditation retreat at Gordon's condo and he agreed to run interference for me and keep people from disturbing me. Thank you, Gordon, wherever you are now.
The people at the blood center substituted for the family I no longer had. How could I leave them? Around that time, my best friend and once roommate suddenly pulled away from me without an explanation. It shocked me. I was clueless as to what could have precipitated such a response. For decades I asked her periodically to tell me why she stopped being my friend all of a sudden. I loved her like the little sister I never had and knew I had never done or said anything to her or about her to merit abandonment. Still, she insisted she just couldn't talk about it. After years, I stopped trying, for my own peace of mind. I had many friends who did want to be with me that I decided not to pursue someone who didn't want to be my friend. I may surprise her with one last letter one of these days and play the age card. I'm not above that and I'm not going to be in this body forever! LOL

Most of my New York relatives hadn't become snowbirds yet. Even if they had, they wouldn't have wanted to retire in Gainesville. They longed for the sunshine and warm winters out of the snow and dreamed of relaxing on the subtropical Florida beaches after they retired. In time, many of them retired and packed up their big cars, got on I-95 South and ended up on the east coast of South Florida. Can't same I blamed them, but I loved Gainesville then and I love it now. I consider it my home after being here since 1956, sixty years ago this year.

Oh, I forgot to write about my red Camaro. After I had mastered my job, I thought it was time to buy myself a brand new car for the first time in my life. It was to be my 40th birthday present to myself. I know it was just a material object that didn't matter in and of itself, but I could feel my self-confidence growing from knowing what it taught me about life's possibilities. I had gotten a divorce in 1972 and had $100 to start with and in three years, by 1975, I had somehow managed to land a very responsible job and buy a brand new red Camaro. I could hardly believe it myself. I wanted to shout to the world not to give up on your dreams because all things are possible if you believe they are. You just have to take one step at a time in the direction of your dreams and never ever give up. 

My new friends had planned a surprise 40th birthday party for me and one of them insisted I wear a long dress because they were (supposedly) taking me out to a fancy restaurant. On the way, we (supposedly) had to pick up one more person at an apartment complex I had never been to. Of course, that was just their way to get me to where the surprise party was. It was the best surprise I ever had and I was surrounded by lots of friends and coworkers I never would have met in my old life.

After the bars closed at 2 am, and everyone was getting ready to leave, a group of gay female impersonators from the Melody Club arrived to celebrate my birthday. They were full of energy and ready to party hearty and it turned into the party that just wouldn't end. It was also the first time I had met female impersonators in their gorgeous outfits and perfect makeup. I wondered what my mom would have thought of it all. Actually, she'd probably stand up and sing Darktown Strutters Ball, which she called her theme song!

Around that time I picked up my writing where I had left off, mostly poetry then. I even tried going back to painting. It wasn't the right time for that. My paintings were all coming out in dark grey and black so that told me something. I packed away my paint and don't think I ever painted again. Hmm, maybe I'll try again after I finish this book. Canvases are still ready and primed and my paintbrushes are clean and set to go. Now all I need is inspiration. Writing is what I like best.

On July 7, 1977, I had a spiritual awakening I didn't even know existed. It was an awesome time of  life I'll write about in another chapter. I was attending the Temple of the Universe in Hague where I went to meditate and listen to the wisdom of Mickey Singer three times a week. Change was in the air and it felt like I was in the right place at the right time. I longed to live near the Temple. I had met a man named Ray who was a surveyor by trade and we shared our dreams with each other. His was to build a house from scratch starting from drawing up the blueprints. He had never done anything like that, but deep inside he knew he could do it all by himself with just one helper. He called it his mountain to climb.

Temple of the
                          Universe in Hague 

We dated for awhile and the next thing I knew, he built me my dream house on stilts, which is probably the wrong word. It was actually built on 29 telephone poles. I had found a half-acre parcel of virgin woods in the nearby small town of Hague. It cost $5000 but I only had to pay $500 down.  It was only 15 minutes from work and less than that to reach the Temple. Ray made me an offer I couldn't refuse that I think was divinely ordained. He wanted to build me my dream house. In a three-ring binder, I had collected house ideas cut out of magazines  since I was a young bride. Ray wanted the challenge of building that two-story house in the woods with a balcony library overlooking a plush carpeted round sunken pit in lieu of furniture, in front of a fireplace in the living room that went up to the roof, highlighted by massive beams.

In exchange, he asked for a year free of the money pressures of paying for food and rent since he still owned a house with a mortgage in a city two hours away. If I agreed to feed and house him he would take care of everything else. He thought of it as a sabbatical to finally realize his lifelong dream. I thought of it as a miracle I never expected. We both knew we were not going to fall in love with each other and get married some day but we had become good friends with benefits. Ray knew I didn't have the money that would be required to buy the materials to build a house and offered to use his savings to buy everything necessary to complete the house, even down to the appliances. He told me I could pay him back when it was done and I could get a certificate of occupancy which would guarantee me getting a mortgage.

Ray Tazelaar ‚Äč1932 - 1992
The mystery man who had never built a house
before, built me my dream house because
he believed he could do it. Never give up!

He didn't ask for anything in writing and I was so touched that he trusted me to pay back his life savings. When the house was done and the money paid back, Ray had another dream he wanted to fulfill, to buy a 28-foot sailboat that he could live on if he wanted to as he sailed wherever the winds took him. I'm happy to report that he realized that dream as well. Cilla and I visited him at the marina once and could see how happy he was as Captain of his own ship. I think we all want that in one form or another. One day I got a call from his ex-wife to tell me that Ray had passed away from lung cancer due to smoking Camels his entire life. There's more to this story but it doesn't need to be here.

I had managed to stay single by choice for years by only dating people I knew I could never be tempted to marry. I was very aware that I wasn't ready yet. Once my new house was well into the process of becoming, I was beginning to get an intuitive feeling that I would eventually have a spiritual partner to grow old with. If that was to be, I hoped he wouldn't arrive until I was 55 years old. I was only 43 at the time and I'm not sure why I put that request out into the ethers at that early age. I finally felt whole and complete without a permanent man in my space and my life. I didn't want to give up my autonomy. I was thriving on my own and feeling good about it. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed male relationships but I didn't know if I'd actually ever want to marry again at 55 or any age.

I felt like I needed to respond to the intuitive feeling that wouldn't leave. When I was alone, I sent out a loud request to All-That-Is, my name for God, omitting my preference that if a spiritual partner was in my future, I was in no hurry to meet him. It seemed ungrateful. I only asked that this unknown man in my future be compatible with me in two main areas, the areas that I had seen destroy many relationships, sex and spirituality. The rest of the details would work themselves out. I still blush to even write that for anyone to read but I'm committed to authenticity more and more now that I'm in my eighties. One of the benefits of growing older is getting over caring about what anyone thinks of you or what you say or do.
What others think of you is none of your business. It's about them. Let it go. My life would have been a lot easier if I had learned that sooner. Give yourself permission to be authentic now, no matter how young or old you are.  It gets easier to do after awhile. Try it, you'll like it!

Contents    Next Page  Previous Page