Saturday, November 23, 2013

Envy




    Envy


  The birds were seven in number.

A flock of black ink blotting out the light.

  First was always Envy, an evil little beast. Surveying all with cold dead eyes.
Measuring out who had what, and more importantly how she intended to take it.
 Her days were spent on memories of what she had been made to live without.
Having been neither graced with beauty, nor any other great talent to set her apart
She had settled on becoming the very best at being the very worst.

  A younger bird might have cawed at the unfairness of the world. Crying out
for someone, anyone to right the accounts.

  But not Envy.

  Envy is it's own bookkeeper. She is a ledger maker, with a withered heart. Thrusting her head first
one direction and then another. Endlessly scheming on what to embezzle.
What must she have? Envy will swoop into your window the crown of friendship on her
craven head. Beware her attachment to you will become obsessive. Plying to win your adoration.
Be careful, be quick. If you must find a place at your hearth for Envy, place her in the liar's chair.
It is the only honest thing to be done.

   She will claw at your back while she curries favor with your love.
  Hoarding your belongings, let her go.
Nothing she can take from you, is worth mourning over.
No matter what bauble she gathers, it will never be enough.
She sits in her nest crowing her victories.
The things she has stolen. The hurt she has caused.
The power she wields in the expanse of her wing.

Envy is a hateful, foolish creature.

 A cousin to jealousy though her robes are colored carbon, not emerald.
She is ever her first victim. With each sin committed, age falters.
Feathers scattered in the wind. They fall from her molted form.
Leaving patches of bald, pinkish, puckered flesh.
Bleeding wounds where once there had been ebony plumage.

Envy is a liar, a thief, a petty discount version of what she was meant to be.
She is a promise lost. So intent was she on keeping others from the
air, she forgot that she too could have flown free.
Envy believes herself clever, she is not. She is merely a wicked
being whose soul has been lost.

 The first bird to fall is always Envy. She has not the heart, nor the strength
to survive on her own. Having spent her days in thievery and vice she has
no reserves of hope nor love. Weep for her as she lifts from her throne of
lies. See her off one last time. Close up your house and your heart.

Envy is death on pinion spread out to cast shadows on the living.
She has no power unless you allow her yours.





Thursday, March 14, 2013

You Will Never Pee Alone




   I spent the last afternoon and evening doing one of my favorite things. I am a voracious reader.  So
   when a blogger/author/unicorn lover/ Queen of all things sporky started posting about a book that she had contributed in writing, I knew I would have to investigate this. The name alone is a testament to Parenthood. "I Just Want to Pee Alone" I think every parent has dreamed of the sheer bliss of being able to close the bathroom door and let nature take it course naturally. Alone, without a chorus of "MOM, MOM, MOMMY, MAMA." But just like that old axiom "If you want your dinner to be served quicker in a restaurant, go to the bathroom" there is "If you want to spend some, not so quality time with your entire brood, head for the Toto." I volunteered to read it and let you know what I honestly thought.

  So, I settled down fully preparing to enjoy a stroll down memory lane. I am in that sweet spot where my children are all adults. Living and loving and working all on their own. I still see them on the regular, but now when they visit, they usually don't barge in the bathroom, usually. When I started reading though I got far more than that. This book is more than you'd think. This is not just some quickly thrown together group of stories about the trials of parenthood. No, this has real tips you need to get through life. Like the need to take your own wet naps when burying your mother...oh, and a small scoop too. Trust me and rubber gloves and maybe a poncho.

  Also, do not, no matter how excited you are to meet Patti, from Insane In The Mom-Brain...do not kiss her on the mouth. Or share a beverage with her. I do not care if she gargles first with hand sanitizer the answer is no.  Get your own damn glass....I will not tell you her shame...lets just say it involves baby poop and her mouth. Enough said. Moving on.

   It would be so easy to say that this is a mommy bloggers, funny book. It is and it is raw and real. There are so many bare naked truths shared. So much honesty about the ugly side of parenting. The one that they do not tell you about. Even if they had told you, you would not have listened. You never know more about parenting your children than when they are still pretend children who are shiny and perfect and don't spew biohazards at you.

  There are many things in this world that are hard. Waking up at 6:30, smearing hello kitty make up on your face and using baby oil to slide into your wet blue jeans before the bus comes on the first day of high school is hard....Being the designated driver on ladies night with dollar well drinks and cute guys trying to liquor you up, is hard. Not killing your husband for making "that time of the month" jokes. Still being attracted to him after he dutch ovens you...also hard. But listen up buttercup it is nothing and I mean nothing compared to being a snot rag, vomit catcher, poop licker baby breeder. There is practical useful advice here and war stories. Learn from their battles, because there will be blood. There will be tears and sickness and sleepless nights.

  And if that little bundle of bio waste is not what you expected. If in this world of perfectly formed beings, yours is not, well then it gets real. Ask these women. There is nothing so harrowing as fighting for your child just to create something like a normal life.  So, when these talented loving, brave writers let you see behind the curtain, please take the time. It is well worth the price of admission to the madness of mothering. These women share their hurts, faults and fears, and in doing so they honor us. They are revealing their foibles and failings. Also, they are really saying that we are not alone. We all struggle with loving parenthood. No matter what you have read or how you have scheduled and organized parenting in advance, you will fail. Accept that going in and you and your young will be the better for it.

   Nobody asked me but I will tell you anyway.....you are never going to be able to pee by yourself. There I told you. First it will be your children, then your spouse and later, your grandchildren. yes...just let that sit there and ruminate. You will have grandchildren. Try not to laugh at your children when they come in after a long night of no sleep, smelling like week old kitty litter and looking even worse. Hand them this book, it will still be relevant. Good writing is ageless.

                                  I Just Want To Pee Alone

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Words that Wound



  I remember the first time I ever noticed that some children were born differently. I was at a new school and I was filled with both wonder and fear. Not just about a new school, or other children. Everything scared me. Having lived a life of virtual solitude the stimulus of it all overwhelmed me. I was a quiet child, watching everything. Measuring the threat level of everywhere I went. So, when we were led down into the basement of, what to me was a giant, dark tomb of a building, I was already fearful. I noticed them almost immediately. They were at the other end of the long, low space. Someones brilliant idea of the perfect place to unleash children in the winter months. In my mind it was very dark, which I am sure added to my perception of these new creatures. No matter how dim it was, it could not hide the fact that they were different. I remember one day edging closer...they were always kept away from us and I did not know why. There was one boy, with a red padded helmet and as I watched transfixed, he stood very close to the concrete wall and banged his head on the flat cold surface. I ran to my teacher, filled with confusion and afraid for this other child. I pointed him out and begged her to help him. She waved me off dismissively and said that he was retarded.

  I tried to ask her what that meant. She was done with me. She told me to stay at my own end of the play area (that is what they called it) and to go play or sit with my back to the wall in the corner. She stared me down, waiting for me to decide my own fate. It took a long time for me to ask my mother. She was not one to take questioning well. She would rather we were still. It was the school's role to educate us. Finely I did ask and she to her own credit, explained that this meant that these children had had some part of their development retarded and something in her words, I truthfully do not remember them in detail, that made me think they were doomed. Or somehow broken or less than. But she did say, that I was not to use that word. And with that I had my full education of children with special needs.

  I remember that they kept them in a separate part of the school. They ate before us, so we did not share the cafeteria with them. I once was sent to pass a note from the office to one of their teachers. I had never been down that part of the school. Where our hallways were decorated with craft paper turkeys and colorful paper plates painted with happy scenes, here they were bare. I could hear them before I ever opened the door. It was all strange noises. That filled me with even more fear. Guttural outbursts and loud voices I could not understand. I tried to look down and not stare at them and give the little yellow paper to the stern teacher and then as the door closed behind me, I ran. We were not allowed to run in the hallways and I was always one to follow the rules. But, not that time. I ran for the safety of happy pictures of happy children and the quiet comfort of a classroom mored in controlled discipline.

  I never thought much of those children again. My life was full of so many of my own challenges. It would not be until I had my own children and volunteered in their schools that would I find out the bittersweet joy of actually knowing a special needs child. Her name was Kara. She was in a special little wheelchair that had a little cushion to support her head. I would read to the children. That was my special talent. I loved to teach them words and introduce them to the magic that lived in books. Every Wednesday I sat down with the children one on one and helped them understand how a string of letters became something more. I had seen Kara, I had smiled at her and held eye contact. My son seemed to love her. It was while sitting with her and silently puzzling in my head how to help teach this child. I had no idea what she knew or could do. She was a clever little minx. She smiled and laughed and understood my words. She may not be able to speak clearly, but she had no trouble absorbing the lessons.

  She became one of my favorites. She seemed always to be smiling. I did not know, when I sat down with her that first time, remembering the only experiences I had ever had with such a child, that she would be the one to teach me. She was not interested in limits that others had set for her. She could not run or even stand, but she was far freer than so many adults. There came a day when I would be called into the office. My son, who was a middle child and very much a loving soul, had gotten into a fight. Through telling and retelling the events of the day it was reported that one of my son's favorite things was being chosen to help Kara navigate around at recess. Times had changed greatly from when I was a child. And it was while doing this that some other child had used the "R" word. I had never talked to my children about it's use. I think their teachers must have taught them. I had not thought of that word or it's loaded meaning for a child's lifetime. My son had first stood up for Kara and then there was pushing, which of course is how we all landed there in that room discussing it.

  I had taught my son to keep his hands on his own body and it was not like him to be physical. I remember that he got off with a warning and that I told him that it was not okay to push people and he answered me with a child's simple truth. "It is not okay to call Kara that. She is not retarded. She is my friend." We would as a family have the opportunities to get to know and love many children of different levels of special needs. They have enriched all of our lives. There are words that are so egregious, so harmful that they should not be uttered. Surely, when this particular word was first used to describe a set of challenges a child may be born with, I would like to think it was not meant to be offensive. However, like so many other seemingly benign labels that have come to mean something far different than their origins, this word has come to mean less than, not worthy, stupid and a slew of other evil connotations which should never be said to or about anyone. Most especially not the sweet spirited souls who every day live beyond limits that their bodies and minds may try to set for them. I have a deep love and respect for both these children and their strong, brave parents. Who, not only have to deal with the day to day demands of bodies that do not move on their own, or children who will never say " I love you mama, daddy" and my hear breaks for them. I hold them in the highest esteem for the daily trials that we will never fully understand. We cannot. I can relate to a harried mother who's two year old will not eat his food or take his nap. That I understand.  But that mother or father who will never know the joy of a day with no accidents. Or the promise of all of those special dreams we hold out for our children. Little league and training wheels, first dates and proms. They let go of many of these dreams that die ever so slowly when faced with this worlds realities.

 I think of all these things and I am overcome. I cannot for the life of me grasp the depth of strength of pure will power to deal with this jaded world that would think it appropriate to use such language. I would not make it through the stares and rude comments, there is no way I would stay out of jail if someone dared to use such a diminishing hateful word in front of my child or myself. We all carry our challenges, our own special needs. Most of us can hide them. We are all broken and we all suffer. Ladling out pain to others will never lessen our own. Ignorance is no excuse for throwing out hate. In case you have not been told, incase you did not know... it is never okay to call anyone, in any context "retarded".  Remember that words have power. And you are a compilation of your thoughts, deeds and words. The next time you see a parent out and about, trying to have a normal life just running errands with a child who may never walk or talk or sing, show compassion. Give them a smile, a kind word a place ahead of you in line. Send up words of prayer for them and their family. You may not even realize the harm you inflict with a side glance and a grimace or a downward stare. These are tiny paper cuts. But using the "r" word is purely hateful and for that you have no excuse. When given the choice be kind. Life is hard enough, do not add to another's burden.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

The Power of Words


                                                         The Power of Words
  Today I am thinking on limits. We all have them. What is acceptable and what is not. It starts as children. The lines and boundaries that give society it's structure. There are rites and rituals set up surely for our own good. It is never about control, not really. But it becomes a slippery slope when I don't believe in your lifestyle and you don't believe in my faith. I don't approve of this and you do not like that. When did it become this way? When did we each come to believe that whatever we thought was right and anything else was wrong? Why are we so set on our course that we not only will not alter it, we will allow no one else to express an opposing view.  Why have we become so myopic that we can no longer see any other way of thinking to be anything but an attack on our very wellbeing.

  Gone is any attempt at polite discourse. I have watched as friends tear long strips of mental flesh from each other over politics or religion, relationships or parenting. Why? Why are we so intolerant? So angry? I have been there. I have been that narrow minded, foolish person who felt somehow challenged or disrespected if my voice was not the only one heard. I was wrong. I believed mine way was the only way. It was all about walls and angry words. A kind of release of that slow boiling rage that was always with me. I would jump into any discussion and proclaim to be the holder of the only truth. One is never as foolish as when they are declaring someone else wrong.

  Oh, and the heady feeling of sticking a sharp steel blade between the ribs of another's well laid argument. The pure unmitigated joy of harming another with my best weapon, my words. The telling and retelling of battles fought over faux positions. As if this made me more. Somehow better. I was a clanging woeful creature who allowed my beast run free. As if my wit and humor at another's expense was a valid occupation. I had become the rat. I am ashamed, as I sit here going over so many horridly placed words. I remember far too many of them and I live in the hope that those I harmed have forgotten them. Not because I wish redemption, although I do. No, but for there own  piece of mind. My words had no value. They were unworthy of other's thought. As much as I am sorry, and I most assuredly am, I am thankful. Thankful for learning the lesson of weighting one's words carefully. I rarely bring God into my words here. Not because I have no faith, but because I do not wish to force my belief on others. But, I am going to now. The Bible says that God spoke us into existence. If you take nothing further from that book, take this; words have power.  Edward Bulwer-Lytton wrote it true when he stated "The pen is mightier than the sword".  And so it is. Be careful. Learn from my mistakes. It is so easy to wound and so hard to heal. Ladling out pain will not lessen your own. 

  It took me a long time to see my own flaws. I was so prickly and harsh. I saw conflict everywhere. I had the need to show that I was strong. To be so tough that no one would or could hurt me. What a terrible place it was. The one that fear and mistrust create. Filled with dark tunnels of misunderstandings and miserable, lonely caves of my own making. I built my own prison and locked myself away. I was scared and alone and I could do nothing to change my fate. Or so I thought. I had turned my life over, willingly too. It was a self fulfilling prophesy of solitary confinement. I pushed people away and was surprised when they stayed away. I would venture out now and again and inevitably get my feelings hurt by some little slight and that would be excuse enough for me to retreat further into myself.

  It occurs to me that many people who are constantly angry are not so far from who I was. There are always reasons. Someone had done something and it had caused us to become something other than we were indented to be. If you choose to be unhappy, you will be. That is the power you hold in your own life. I know it sounds overly simplistic. I have been there. So stuck in my own shadows, counting out all the things that were wrong that I completely missed what was right. I have with a sense of glee looked for what was wrong. As if it was some special gift to find fault in everything around me. I was becoming bitter and entirely too familiar with my inner bitch.

  The more I wrote, the more people reached out to me. The more people reached out the more I listened to other's stories. I began to realize, we all hurt. We will all feel pain and be treated unfairly. It is universal. What we choose to do with that experience makes us who we will ultimately be in this world and how happy we will be. I would much rather be remembered for my kindness than for my ability to harm others. To be thought of as kind, I would have to be kind. It is an art. It takes no great skill to harm another, however it takes the greatest of one's abilities to help someone mend their broken lives. They must do the real work, but we, you and I can give them encouragement. We can aid them in changing their world and there by changing ours. What a wonderful goal. I may not reach all the people I would like. I may be mocked for my Pollyanna ways. And that is fine. It bothers me not one bit. I would rather walk alone in the sun then travel in a pack filled with darkness.

Monday, March 4, 2013

GRACE Discovered

                                       
                                                    GRACE Discovered

   When I started writing, I was looking for an escape. For my words, for my feelings and most of all for my deep corrosive anger that affected everything in my life. I was so broken, my little boat listing so far on it's side that I honestly did not think it could be righted. I told you that I was looking for the place I did not know. The one not found on any map and until today, I had not found it. It occurs to me that we often mistake strength for weakness and weakness for strength. We have been taught to stand up, to attack, to hurt those that would do us harm. And there will always be a place for that, sadly. But it is not a way of life. The bare truth of the matter is that I used to look for reasons to be upset. Cut me off in traffic, I had a few choice words and a finger or two for you. I was always in warrior mode. I had a great gift for finding reason to be annoyed, as I most always was. It had become a lifestyle.

  It is a hard way to live. I never let anyone get too close. People were not to be trusted. And I received just what I thought that I would. By putting anger out, I got it back multiplied. A crop not worth harvesting. And yet I must. I had sown those seeds and so I must clear the field. Till it over and start again. I went looking for GRACE and I found it today, cloaked in forgiveness. I knew the answer long ago. I was just too stubborn, too connected to the pain to let it go. That ache that itched, right below the surface of my mind. It was the wrinkle in my newly ironed linen. The flaw I carried as a treasure. I was proud of my ability to stand up and to speak out. Anger gives you that. But with all things there comes a price and anger's tax was high.

  I hurt people I loved and strangers with sharp words and pointed accusations. I used my anger as an excuse to let that dog run free. It was up to me to repair the damage. I had to hold myself accountable and see the fault was mine.

  I was doing a simple thing when I found it. Oh, not in any drawer or cupboard. No, it was with me all along. We are created to find Grace. It is not a denial of events. Nor is it sacrificing your own happiness to another. No Grace does not ask us to be a martyr. It asks us to look beyond ourselves. I have never been so at peace and filled with a sense of wellbeing. I have moments where I am simply overcome by joy. This is the gift forgiveness gives.

  It is more about letting pain go and allowing yourself to raise above a set of circumstances. I cannot tell you where you will find it. I simply know you already have it. I send you love and happiness and smooth sailing and if the wind picks up and it gets a little rough, remember this is your world too. You are in charge of your life and at the end it is up to you to man your station and save yourself.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Hoarding


                                                                      Hoarding

  Whenever I need motivation to clean, I put on Hoarders and wait. Within a few camera sweeps of trash and clutter and I am off. Cleaning and organizing. Straightening up my own little messes. It was while doing this that I thought of another kind of hoarding. I was reminded of that old childish game we seem to all play at one time or another. When we gathered in dark spaces and put out our hands to touch the Planchette of the ouija board. Watching with our breath held as it magically passed back  and forth until it gave us the answer that we had already preconceived. We took no responsibility for the outcome. We could surely not to be blamed. No matter that our finger prints were all over the game pieces. It was not our doing. As we leaned in together and each unburdened ourself of the abuses we had suffered at someone else's hands. Oh, it is heady times. There is that adrenaline rush when drama comes knocking. And of course we answer. How could we not? We have a game to play.

 Instead of looking forward and asking some ghostly presence of our future, we looked back at the past. We categorized and cataloged every wrong done. Every roll of the eye or vague status update.
We laid out our reasons for our bid at martyrdom. Twas a lavish production. As tales were told and retold, editing our fault out and adding a double portion to our nemesis. We polished our words until our place as victim was assured. The only mistakes allowed to lay in peace were our own. Barely mentioned and quickly forgotten. These were not tales of what we had done, but rather what had been done to us.

  I puzzled all of this as I went along straightening here and tidying there. And I saw them, my flaws. The faults that were mine. I had done some hoarding of my own. Every mistake made, every ill placed word was there. Preserved in formaldehyde sitting in glass jars covered in soot and dust and blame. This is what I had spent a lifetime collecting. I tapped the glass and the cloudy liquid gave up it's treasures. The image of my own errors. My own actions reflected back at me. Every time I should have granted a pass, given pardon, and had not. Times I had chosen to hold on to a thing. To plow through the past as if hunting for truffles. And then I would chew on each until there was nothing left but a dry husk. A morsel of the most bitter nature. I had gathered every flaw and fault that was mine.

  I had sucked the very marrow out of their bones. pulverized their feeling and weaknesses to a fine dust and stored them all here. As I gazed on my collection of the macabre memories, I realized I was not meant to be the curator of deeds long dead. I must let them all go. Each and every one. The largest and smallest and the deepest wound, that which came first. So to move forward into a future not foreshadowed by some mystic apparitions, but by my own making. I must push past blame and anger in order to live in peace. Life is not a game were we pass over people as if pieces on a board. No, we are here to help each other. To make our shared world more. I did not know that. I had no one to teach me and I was a poor student.  Oh, I have heard variations on the theme, but I was not ready. I was too selfish. Too busy making sure that I got what I thought I needed. Only to have gathered all that I did not want. It occurred to me, that just as we must crawl before we walk, we must look outward to see inward.

  mistakes are not to be collected or buried like treasure. They must be released or they gain power over your happiness. They interrupt your sleep and haunt your days. Apparitions we ourselves conjure up. Let it all go. It is not meant to be held on to. We cannot live in the past or in a cupboard full of pickled mistakes. They cannot sustain us, nor preserve us in any way. sail on.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

It's Just Emotions


                                                      It's Just Emotions

   Today I did something I almost never do. I melted down. I cried the ugly cry as Edgar placed his paws on my cheeks and licked them away. Which, eventually made me laugh and helped me calm down. I am learning so many new things, new skills that I have yet to master. Growing up being told that my emotions were not important and that I was property, not a person really affect how, as an adult, I expressed myself. I am getting better at it. More secure in myself and also more able to identify and control my feelings. When you grow up with anger as a constant companion, yet never being able to let it out, it ferments. The more anger ferments the stronger it becomes. The more it rules your life. What was once a feeling of unfairness and then fear mixed with helplessness becomes rage. A wild fire that will burn through life if it is not quenched.  After I dealt with that fire, tapping out embers here and there, I had a void. A hollow place where it had lived almost my entire life. It is hard to let go of something you have carried through childhood. Like a ratty tatty security blanket. Other emotions were foreign to me.

  I had to learn the balance of becoming rightfully upset by something and that dark thing that had dwelled within me for so long. A growth. A tumor that sapped my joy. It fed on my dreams and shut out the world. Which left me more miserable than before. My protector was also my prisoner. Keeping me locked into a life of empty days and lonely nights. So, what did I do when I finally laid it down? Well at first I hid. Being emotionally naked is it's on kind of vertigo. Up is down and down is up and everything around you is moving way too fast. Completely normal things would send my into a fit of anxiety. It was as if having been repressed for so long, my emotions had decide to all be heard at once. I was happy, sad, angry and then happy again, in the span of an hour. It was exhausting. That kind of exhaustion that only comes from too many tears and raw hurt. In short, I was a mess.

 There really is no "Welcome to the world of feelings" guide. There is no coin they give you for passing 30 days without a melt down. Or 60 days without hiding in your dark room in the fetal position. It is all fly by the seat of your pants, make it up as you go along. There is no grand party or acknowledgment of the great accomplishment just staying in your own skin for the day. As much as I wanted to blend in, I also wanted to stand out. To take my place in this world. As soon as I was able to find where that was. I was really between gigs. My children were raised. The job market did not appeal to me. So what was I to do? Who was I now? Homer gave me the answer. Watching as this dear man faded away,  I saw someone to emulate. I would write it all down. I would let it all go. And then I would learned to be someone new. Someone other than victim, wife, mother. I would be friend.

  It was a daunting task. I loved talking to people about themselves, not about me. Too many mine fields there. But to be known, I would have to allow all my secrets to spill out. Let the chips fall where they may. Once I had done it I felt....clean. Healed. There came rushes of feelings. All of them new to me. I am still learning. Still identifying and cataloging them. I am no longer in fear of them. I am learning to trust myself. Feelings are normal.

  Now, I try to help others with their own feelings. Not in an attempt to hide who I am, but by sharing it. I have come to believe that all that I have experienced enable me to relate to others. It is a beautiful thing to take so many jagged little pieces and make something lasting and worthwhile with them. I rarely become angry anymore. I hardly slip up and cave in. But I still do it and I always will. We all do. It is okay to express a proper measurement of indignation for the circumstances. It is not okay to go bat shit crazy over nothing at all. I used to get into arguments over parking spaces, places in line. Anything really. I pushed people away and laid out a thick layer of hate tinged anger. I had a perpetual "do not f' with me" attitude. Silly, foolish me. I continued to feed that beast and then ringing my hands as it kept coming back for more. You see anger never gets it's fill. It is always starving, waiting at the pantry door growling for more flesh. More of my life gone.

  I know now, that they are just emotions. And like the songs says "they are taking me over". And that is okay. I love and am loved. I have hope and faith and a deep passion for the possible. The world is not as scary as I once thought. It is magical and delightful, hard and bittersweet. And I would not trade this journey for the world.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The Giver The Taker The Maker


                                                The Giver, The Taker, The Maker
  As I go along in life I must choose. What do I take with me? What have other people given me and is it enough? What I do not let go of, I must drag behind me. Words and deeds weight me down until I can no longer move forward for the tremendous boulders that have only grown larger for their distance from their inception to the present. Like some kind of ever growing snow ball made of memories of things long gone. At some point I must realize these are not my treasure. These are not my legacy. People have been hurtful to me. I could probably name each and every large stone that had once been a pebble. Oh, it is so, so easy to play the victim. To be the one wronged. As if there was some kind of penance that I wished to have paid. I would gather my hurts around me and show them off as if they are prized processions. And  compare. Goodness how I'd compare. Have you seen this one here? My mother gave me that in the Summer of 1998. She called me fat in front of my entire family. Well, do you see this one here? My ex husband flirted with my best friend and she flirted back. I will never trust again. The air of triumph dripping from every word.

 It is as if there were some great contest, an award to be given for the biggest martyr of all. I have spent many hours listening to the back and forth of crimes. Real and perceived. It took me so long to learn that there is no winner. Bad things happen. The rain will fall. It is not what happens to me, but rather what I do with it. Do I use it to move forward? Adjusting my coarse as need be, or stop where I am, refusing to move until some penalty has been paid. Someone owes me something. And I will not be cheated out of it. Too much had been taken from me already. As if there was some kind of bank of woes that paid out with interest for everything I endured. Now part of this is simply being able to cry out. To finally say "this thing happened to me" as if I would never be quieted again, I continued to bemoan every and all slights that occurred. Oh, it is tiresome to think back on it all from where I am now.

  Whatever it is, let it go. I do not say forgive. I cannot ask that of you. I do not say forget. That would be a lie. I say let it lay where it was given to you. Do not lift it up. It is not yours to carry. It belongs with the giver. There are those people who go through life stealing love and money and years from others and smugly walking away. They hand out little stones of hurt and hate and they are gone. Whomever holds out their hand to grab hold of the token of pain becomes the taker. They lift up this black thing handed to them and they carry it like a badge. With each retelling of it's birth, it grows. Hard and cold, with no purpose at all but to sway the back of it's keeper. We are not meant to be beast of burden. It is why we will be brought to our knees by the weight of it all, if we choose to keep these cursed gifts. There will come a day when you can go no further with your ill given gains. A decision must be reached. To stay and be the caregiver of all your troubles or to leave them unattended. They need nothing from you. Stop feeding them.

   Again I will say it, I will always say it. It is what you do with what you get. What you keep and what you make. This is your life. How glorious is that? Oh, please do not look at the pile of dirty clothes in the corner or half eaten crusts of days old pizza. Look far beyond where your physical body now sits. Close your eyes and grab what you have inside yourself. What do you want? What do you need? Are these thing attainable? Then Make a plan. How will you get there. Do not lay out the things you do not have or why it cannot be done. There is nothing to be gained from counting the negatives. Time goes so fast in this world and it is all moving past us. As long as we are breathing, the world is full of the possible.

   I have had set backs. There are things that I wish were different. But wishing and wanting, crying and complaining will not bring me any closer to my own dreams. Remember all things given are not presents and all things taken are not wanted. Most importantly be a maker. Craft a wonderful life. Be kind and give grace. Forget how to count your woes. Count your blessings double. The greatest thing I could wish for you is that you love and you love and that you remember that you are the maker.

 

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Exile


   Bad things are going to happen. People are going to break your heart. It is part of life. It took me a long time to understand this. Having grown up in isolation, I was used to being alone. I had great issues with trust. I had closed down so much of myself.  I had folded myself over so many times I was unrecognizable, even to myself. Especially myself. I am forever learning how to interact with others, who just like me are trying to find their way in this world. Growing up and well into my adult life, being around other people was stressful. It felt like one big test that I was bound to fail. Having not been allowed to express my own emotions had inhibited my ability to understand other's feelings. I was tense and distant. I did not wish to be, I just had no idea how to interact. My dream most of my life was to buy an island and just disappear. So stressful was it for me to be part of any personal exchanges, I would rather hide then partake. I held myself apart and became more and more miserable for the effort.

  I could find no meaningful solution to this back and forth of my inner self. Forever playing a one way game of hide and seek with the world. I would spend weeks virtually alone. It would start out with some small hurt. A misunderstanding, a misplaced word by family or friend and I would be filled with hurt. Vulnerable and distant, I was miserable. I would take my cue and cut off all communication. I did not want to talk about whatever it was. I simply wanted to be left alone. I would nurse whatever the perceived trespass and play the martyr's roll. Vacillating between anger at the villain I was building up and scolding myself for ever letting them into my life. I should never have tried to build a relationship. I would always be alone. I was stupid to try. Down that rabbit hole I would tumble, free falling into depression. Locking out the world was my only defense. 

  Then, as time passed, my logical side would rehash whatever drama I had created in order to retreat into myself and  realize that I was overreacting. That shrunken hippocampus had struck again. So, I would  venture out or more often,  someone else would barge into my world. I had a handful of loving, caring individuals who would simply not allow me to stay hidden.  I owe them a lot. I still get that urge sometimes. Hurt feelings lead to that timeless ritual of disappearing. It is so hard and easy all at once. A picking away of a never healing scab. The desire to mark down all my faults and mentally flog my soul. Habits are hard to break. No one who walks life's path has an easy journey and one is not promised.  

  I am getting better. At least I hope I am. I have tried to stop thinking like a victim. When someone does something that causes me pain, I step back and stop thinking about how it affects ME and focus on the real issue. What is going on within them? It was the key to escaping my self made prison. I had to acknowledge that I had banished myself. That most perceived slights were nothing at all to do with me. There is great comfort in that. All my life I had tried to be smaller, to blend in, disappear. But I had been mistaken. I had it in the the wrong order. While listening to someone's harsh words or observing their hurtful deeds, that is the time to remove myself. No one is doing anything to me. They are usually just expressing their own hurt. I am very aware of pain and once I realized that that is what they were expressing, I could be there for them, without the need to try on whatever they spun together, to see if it fit me. It had nothing at all to with me. Or at least not insert myself into the position of whipping post.

 Life is all about relationships. Like that exercise "the fall of trust", where you fall backwards and your team catches you. That is the secret, you must build a good team. This may be an obvious thing for you. You may have always known this. You may be one of those people who knows everyone and you float on a river of friendship. I am learning to float in that water. To allow others to play a part in my life. I am learning, that how you view the world, is exactly what your life will be. I have learned to listen without automatically projecting my own low self esteem into the scenario. I see the great treasure that friends are. They are absolutely necessary to getting through the hard times and to be there to revel in good ones. 
  

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The Rabbit Hole



  As I sit here, I find myself constantly asking "can you believe I am in this place? and "can you BELIEVE I am in THIS place?" My life is filled with so much goodness and blessings that sometimes it is hard for me to just relax into them. At other times, the details of my life, that same one I pinch myself for starring in, makes me weepy. In a sad "isn't this enough, haven't I been through enough?" kind of way. To the first part, I am blessed. I know this. I have far fewer worries than most and my hardest days now, are the things that made up the fantasies of the woman I once was. I try to store those moments up. The lucky ones. To not allow myself to float right through them. It is hard to stay grounded sometimes. I have become so good at leaving myself. Skimming the surface of a thing and to never go wading in further. To keep on the shallow end of the good things. 

  Other times, the hard ones. When my heart gets broken by life and the very act of living it, I allow myself a lapse. I take it in fully. I dive into the deepest cavern and explore all the slimy dark spaces. I give myself over to the "what if's" and "worse case scenarios." I remain in the depths of that dark coldness until I fear my lungs will burst. Until I have taken the full measure of a thing. I must know it all. And then, after I have faced the worst that could happen, I let it go. I either accept it or I do not. If it is changeable I set about changing it. If, for some reason the odds are impossible, I still try. I try, until I cannot ignore whatever the thing is and I give it a nod. I learn to live with it. 

  Now, why I rush over the good and store up the bad, I cannot say. Maybe I am still that lost little girl who knows more of sorrow than sunshine. I do not know. This is a new thought to me. I must explore the reasoning. I received a message recently. Kind words and descriptive sentences. Which proclaimed that I am very self aware. Part of me tried not to read that as self absorbed, but really this all started as me letting ME free. So, there must be an element of that involved as well. We all wish to be known. It is the essences of our beings. We catalog and dictate the facts of our lives. We explain and explore, reaching out to others. Hoping to like the reflection of ourselves that they mirror back to us. 

 It is in that vein that I started writing. I am so glad I did. It has changed me. And I am of the firm belief that there is always room for improvement. A higher self to aspire to. I had a counselor tell me once that I had an over developed sense of justice. That my right and wrongs were black and white. This was certainly true. I was ridged in my expectations of myself and others. It is a hang over from those early years in which my character was formed. I have learned to soften those lines. It is fine to bend in the wind. I am learning. 

  So, back to the beginning. Why do  I not allow myself to fully experience the wonderful things in my life? I remember the first time I saw a flash of it. The life I could have. I was sitting with my feet in a giant pool of warm water. On a private beach. Watching as the sun appeared and made the deep sky blue. It was a calmness. I took in the view of the ocean, beyond that pool and I was mesmerized. To realize that it existed. That place of sun and sea and white sand and calm. It was real. And I was there. I remember the awe of it all. The warmth on my skin and the deep peace that came with it. I was alone in that moment. Completely owning myself. Not hiding or running, simply being. Of course the moment passed I had things to do. We won't talk of those here. But it was a crazy wonderful and dangerous time that changed my life's direction once more.

  Today, sitting in a quiet hotel suite, perched above the Gulf of Mexico, I am there again. Fully in myself. Taking ownership of the entire real estate that makes up me. I am struck by the fact that I have been here so few times in my life. Not geographically. I have been here a dozen times. No, here within myself. Both mind and body, fully engaged with life around me. I am not making lists of things to be done at home, or going over half remembered conversations looking for loose threads to pull. It is a wonderful thing and bittersweet. Acknowledging the present reminds me of all the times in the past. And there I would go if I let myself. Down the rabbit hole of other times. I will not be coaxed. It is a fools journey. No I cannot go back. Time only moves forward and if we do not take the wheel, well we will surely run aground. It will get away from us, this life.

  I am far from the first to say it, but I will repeat it none the less. Own yourself completely. Live up to the edges of who you can be. Take up all the room that makes up you and move into the possible. Life is changing. Ever changing. Move forward.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

You Broke it, You Bought It


 The beloved Dear Abby died recently. I remember reading her column as I was growing up and well into my adulthood. She always seemed to have all the answers and I wondered how she did it. How could she take the small facts given and find just the right words for those looking to her for guidance?
I know now, that part of it was simply life experiences. All those things that pile up as she went forward in her existence. I liked that she cut to the chase and she did not mince words.  In the current climate, it is words that I want to talk about today. There have been so many thrown out lately. Tossed out in anger or fear. To anyone whom dares to disagree with our point of view. It seems as if we all feel attacked. We are quick to battle and we have been hoarding ammunition. Laying in wait for that perfect time to cut someone who probably started out with our esteem or even our love.  We reach into our arsenal for that perfect weapon. We examine what we know about our advisory. Have they a failed marriage? Misbehaving children? Are they late with their bills? What is there to rub their nose in? What are their own real or perceived flaws?

  And oh how we glory in seeing that we have hit the mark, brought them low. We smile at our success. But I ask you all, what kind of victory have we won? There will never be a plaque for your wall or a trophy for your mantel to commemorate your great accomplishment of hurting someone else with your invasive comments on someone else's life. I have been so guilty of this myself. I get no free pass on this one. It was my signature talent. The ability to cut someone else to the quick. I reveled in it. I was proud of my ability to find that sweet spot. I say this in a small voice, with deep shame. I was unkind. I was mean and cruel and indifferent. I was wrong. My clever little quips that made me feel oh so smart, so witty were false emotion. They brought nothing good to my life and damaged someone else's. And that I must take responsibility for. I have harmed others. I have inflicted pain and embarrassment.

  And it changed me. I cannot tell you the exact moment when I saw the error. The transgression of my actions. I think it came to me gradually. When celebrating the mental carnage that I was responsible for took it's toll on my own life and spirit. I realized at last, the power of my words. I had to ask myself a life changing question. One that I now put to you now. What would you look like, if your words and inner thoughts made up your outer appearance. you see, our words define who we are. We will be remembered not for the house we lived, the balance in our accounts or our outer shell. We will be remembered by our words and our deed. That is the truest reflection of who we are. When we wish to get a inkling of those who came before us, we scour their quotes. What did they say, write, think, do? Were they kind? What did they add to their world? I would put to you, as I have myself, that more quotes of Jesus, Gandhi, Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela are used to inspire, than those of many current pundits that I shall not name. we all know who they are. Those who feel that tearing down others somehow makes them special. At the end of their days what have they created? What great monument of words will there be to build their legacy upon? And what of the rest of us?

 I still fall short at times. I will find that small space between one's armor and with lightening speed slip in a slim, double edged dagger. And then I realize what I have done. The thing that I am responsible for damaging. What would we have left in our pocket or purse, if the policy of "you broke it, you bought  it" were enacted for such things? Would we be paupers or princes? I am working on fixing what I have broken. I have a lot of hurt to blot out. And I love doing it. I love looking at another's struggle and trying to be the should to lean on. I know I cannot save the world.....alone. We can do it together. Hard things will happen. Challenges will present themselves and that is as it should be. It is far easier to complain and point fingers, to signal out and condemn. Which is a major sign that it is the wrong thing to do. Do not take the easy way out when confronted with someone else's anger or rude stance. Step back and realize, their words are a reflection of who they are and where they are in life. Then, walk away. Leave your arrow in it's quiver. Though your aim may be true, your target is not worthy of what your words will cost you. In the end, we create the world we live in and we will be responsible for paying the debt our words create.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Facts and Futures


 I had the chance to talk to someone I both respect, and look to when I need cheering up recently. As much as I love talking to her, I couldn't help but wish we were not having the conversation we were having. Not because we were not on the same page, but because we were. Sometimes when I write, someone will answer back. They will echo my feelings and wonder how I knew. Was I reading their journals? Their minds? No, it is simply that we are not alone. You are not alone. And today it was my turn to echo back. To say I knew how she felt. I understood and to tried to lift that lovely woman up. Circumstances beyond her control were overwhelming her. Not just her but her family. She is a strong woman. A brave, kick ass and take names kind of girl. The one you want at your back when it all goes south. So, to hear her voice, usually so strong and vibrant reduced to a whisper, hurt my heart. She had tried a much traveled road, because it was the direct route to get out of her present reality. She needed so badly to be out of it. She had been waiting on a call, those few that change your life. And when the phone rang it was brought disappointment. It was only one word. Far from the most powerful word, unless you let it be. It was of course, no.

 She had reached out for help and hope and had her hand slapped. Her great plan for a quick escape had been thwarted. We spent time on the phone, I did most of the talking, I usually do. I reminded her that she was a warrior. She was so much more than she knew. She was a pint sized power house and would succeed. How did I know this? Because I had. Because as long as she was breathing, moving, trying, "no" had no meaning. Someone else's no is not yours, unless you let it be. If the question is will you marry me?" or "Do these pants make me look fat?" Then let it be, take that no. But, if it is something that will tear your world apart, if it will keep you down, do not except it. No one else defines you. No one else can limit you. Never let anyone have the power to crush your dreams. Sometimes no is just, "not this way". So, try another. Take it as a challenge. Take that no and show it who it is dealing with.

  This is your life, your world and no one can take that from you. You have the choice to give it away. I have, so many times, it shames me to admit it. But in truth comes growth. I threw out ideas and encouragement. I sent up prayers and sent her down another path. I do not know if it is the right one. I cannot do this for her, but I know she can. And because she can, she will. It is okay to be overwhelmed. It is perfectly reasonable to cry. When life is not fair and you have no idea of up from down, take a moment, take a few, no more than two days worth, we are not looking to make it a lifestyle choice, and then look around. What do you have that can help you? Who do you know? Be creative. Make it a team effort. Someone has your answer. People love to help. It is addicting to do some little thing that cost nearly nothing for someone else.  Use search engines and take advice. Never give up. If you stop swimming, you drown. Unless of course, you float.

  My husband is always saying  "sometimes the best thing to do is nothing." That is a hard one for me. It is not an answer I am interested in. And yet sometimes, it is the best thing. If someone has hurt me, been rude or cruel, I have learned to take that addvice. To not jump into the fire. It gets easier the more you do it. The more you can identify that someone else's thoughts and feelings have nothing to do with you. There is freedom in that realization. I am working on it. It is new to me. All of life is about learning to deal with ourselves and each other. When I first started this blog in the middle of Summer, I did not know that. I found people troublesome. Everyone had opinions and feelings. It was messy and I was caught between the need to express when I thought that they were wrong and the always present desire to blot them out. To just let them go. I had nothing in between. It was all or nothing with me and that saddened me. More and more people did not make the cut and I was usually alone. When something bad happened, I had very few numbers to call. For all the things my smart phone could do, it could not find solace. And so, I changed. I stopped looking at others and went about fixing the only person I could, me. I am where I am and I am still not nearly as far as I want to go. I still fall short. I still will hit the horn sometimes when someone cuts in front of me while driving. Every once in a while I almost fall for someone else's words, not as often. Because, the one thing I have learned in this time, when Summer gave way to Autumn and now to Winter, is this; to never let someone else's facts effect your future. That is yours and you have to go find it. You will design it. You are doing it right now. As you read these words, your future is coming. Go meet it with your heart open and live it. I wish you health and peace and one thing more, hope. Never go anywhere without HOPE.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Lost and Found



  I had a conversation with a gentleman today. He spoke of pain. The worst kind of hurt. That no pill could relieve. He had losses too great, but he numbered them. He had lost his father. Someone whom he looked up to and loved greatly, as only a child can. He was in his teen years, those hard days that are all about trying to fit in and stand out. Just when a son most needs the example of his father, his left him. It was not a willful abandonment. No, he developed a terrible wasting disease which slowly stole him away from those he cared most for. His family was sentenced to the truly cruel fate of watching him slowly fade away. Each day the edges of his character draining out of him until he was left empty. A husk where a beloved father had once been.

 Well, this young man so filled with sorrow at his loss, mourned and did all those things that are so easily started and so much more difficult to be stopped. There was drinking and smoking and ditching classes, all in an attempt to express his sadness and the rage that it creates. The emptiness that is left where a great soul once stood could not be filled up with any of those things and so eventually, he set them down. He went back to living. And in doing so he found a new love. a different kind of love. He fell head over heels and he embraced the good that comes with this life we all live. He still thought of his father, how could he not? but he was able to find a peace that comes with acceptance.

  They had six years. Six lovely years of happiness. That wonderful heady time of planning and dreaming. Of waking everyday to the one he adored beside him. His love lived at once outside of his heart and yet filling it until it brimmed over. It was a gift, those years. A time to lay away memories still warm from their making and seal them up tight. Winter was coming. Winter is always coming. It was a sudden loss. At once so different from that first and yet so familiar. His love was gone. In a moment carried away to that place that we all go alone when the time comes. And again he mourned. His grieving redoubled. One loss stacked upon the other until they blocked out the sun.

  And thus he reached out, looking for some form of light to help him find his way. And so I shared with him that which I believe to be true. Our loved ones do not leave us, they simply change form. You can close your eyes and see them. We have the gift of their memories. They are with us always. I told him this, not to give him false platitudes, but because it is so. I only have to hear a song, read a book and there is that one I had thought had left me. They had appeared in my mind. I could hear their voice, their laughter and it soothed me. I told him that by sharing the story of those he loved, he could change other lives. Those whom had never met his lost ones would hear of them. Know of their kind hearts and giving spirits. I asked him not to stuff them away as if they were an old torn sweater. Worn out and ragged, with no further use. Death is not the end of one's story. It may be an intermission. Hopefully nothing more. If you doubt me, think of those people who came before you. The ones you never met. From William Shakespeare, Edgar Allan Poe, Martin Luther King, Jesus Christ, Buddha, Albert Einstein and so many more. They have changed us all. Their greatness still echos forward in time. Reaching out to move us with their ideals and their bravery.

  We all grieve and that is as it should be. Because they mattered. They will always matter. So, speak often of those who have left us behind. They live through us, past us, into a future as yet unknown. And how wonderful is that? Someone you never knew, could never have known changed your life. It is simply amazing. I tried to impart this idea to this man who still holds on to his losses without realizing he is the catalyst, the vehicle to push those who have left him physically into the future. We all suffer loses. We all mourn deeply. It is as it should be. But please, do not stop there. Do not linger in that place where the air is too heavy and the way too far from the light. I ask you to remember them. Tell others of their lives. Just as my own children knew the stories of my husband's father without ever meeting him. Breathe for them. Do not forget. Honor them with your words and if you can, write their stories down. So others can know of those who came before and the magical chain of life and yes, death continues. Those that we lose can always be found. They wait for us still just close your eyes and remember. Life is filled with both sweet and salt, but we decide what we leave behind and what we take with us.