Regrets

Regrets, I’ve had a few
But then again, too few to mention
I did what I had to do
And saw it through without exemption-Sinatra

Throughout my life I have tried to live a life of few regrets. In some regards I have succeeded spectacularily and in other aspects I have failed miserably. But since I have the immense need to make amends and dispense advice before I board that plane for China on Monday; I have decided to inform my children what my biggest regret in the world is with the hope that they will try to do better for themselves than I was able to do for myself.

Regrets are tricky things. If you are fearful, regrets are often too few because you never have taken yourself out of your comfort zone enough to do much of anything that might cause you distress or regret. In fact, often your regret is that you had no regrets because you played it safe. On the other hand, going off pell-mell-willy-nilly without thinking things through, well, in the worse case it can lead to tragic results. Yet, in the best of instances in can involve seeing your name in the police blotter of your local paper for something people will talk about long after you are dead and gone. Personally, I think it is prudent to shoot for the notorious remembrances that don’t involve jail cells or lawyers.

It often takes chutzpah to admit your failures and gain insight on how you might do better in the future which is exactly what a regret should serve to do. It takes more than brutal honesty to dig deep to examine your shortfalls. It often takes courage and really listening to the people you love the most as they dish about what they love about you the least.  And so in that spirit I have decided to share my biggest regret which is this… that I have not been as GENTLE as I wish I had been during the days I have walked this earth.

Frankly…I wish I had been more gentle with my words, more gentle with the tone of my voice, and gentler when giving advice. I wish I would have been more gentle by holding my tongue, gentler in my touch, and that I would have been softer with my facial expressions. I wish I would have provided more plentiful and gentle/nurturing hugs, held my children more tenderly than I did, and that I would have gently laid down the law without malice or anger. I wish my first reaction to that first spark of anger would have been one of gentle compassion to myself and the other involved by refusing to allow the spark to turn into a bonfire and by allowing myself to listen in the hopes of greater understanding. I wish I would have understood that there are so many things that you will be remembered for throughout your life and I wish I would have appreciated the fact that if you are living well that the best thing people can remember you for your gentle/loving nature.

One of the gentlest individuals I can think of is Mr. Rogers. He once said, “I’m convinced that when we help our children find healthy ways of dealing with their feelings–ways that don’t hurt them or anyone else–we’re helping to make our world a safer, better place.”  I wish I had taken these words to heart when I first starting raising children. Had I understood that my reactions set the stage for my children’s reactions now and in the future, I’d like to think I would have taken the time to develop gentleness and all it entails. I also think it would have been awesome to have really understood that to help our children deal with their feelings we have to be gentle with our own. I wish I had known that way back then too.

Gentleness is important. It is a calming influence. Gentleness is merciful, compassionate and kind. It is also wise, dignified and considerate.

Perhaps Max Lucado describes gentleness best when he says “I choose gentleness… Nothing is won by force. I choose to be gentle. If I raise my voice may it be only in praise. If I clench my fist, may it be only in prayer. If I make a demand, may it be only of myself.”

Gentleness…its something we could all use a little more of as we go about our busy lives. Perhaps in practicing it we can become it. That is my wish.

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Sit with the Frustration

frus·tra·tion
frəˈstrāSH(ə)n/
noun
  1. the feeling of being upset or annoyed, especially because of inability to change or achieve something.

As I go back over the notes I have written during my therapy sessions one thing is abundantly clear. My therapist keeps reinterating that I need to sit with the frustration I am feeling and just be. Another thing that remains abundantly clear is I STILL struggle with this. I guess I am rather like a two year old… I want what I want, when I want it. And this means NOW.images-2

Coming from a family where life and death hung in the balance by only the newest that science could offer; that lack of control and unsettledness continues to effect me in ways that I am still unpacking and just beginning to understand. When you have life-threatening illness at your doorstep for years it doesn’t stop banging on the door just because the patient is doing better. In my case I was not the very ill child, my sister was. But in those days parents tried to protect their other children from “the truth” believing that they shouldn’t have those burdens put on them at such a young age. However, in my case, the lack of true understanding and knowledge lead to envisioning things in my mind that were probably worse than any real facts would have been. And basically since that time I have spent my life trying to mitigate surprises and always planning ahead. Frankly, this just doesn’t appear to be compatable with sitting in the silence, sitting with the unknown or sitting with frustration very well. I want purpose and I want action…NOW DAMN IT!

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Making this “sitting with frustration” even worse is that I am suppose to wait until B makes his own discoveries about himself and his own truths instead of spoon feeding my perception of the truth to him. His process is suppose to be his own process but like a famous Hollywood director I have the script already written and filmed in my mind about how the scene is suppose to go. And because feelings are on the periphary for him which makes any sort of immediate action of self-discovery difficult; I am afraid that this film is going to be WAY OVER BUDGET both emotionally and financially.

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And so I sit. Tired and frustrated. Tired of sitting. Tired of waiting. Tired of thinking about all this sitting when suddenly it occurs to me that B is probably just as tired of waiting for me to just sit. What a gift it could be it I could just be comfortable being in this limbo and in doing so freeing him up to make his own discoveries on his own timetable instead of feeling the silent pressure of my discomfort in sitting having to sit with my frustration. This realization sends a shiver of freedom down my stiff spine as I contemplate what it would be like to let others set their own timetables instead of trying to get them run on mine. And just like a passenger waiting for a delayed train getting annoyed at the situation isn’t going to change a thing and it certainly isn’t going to get the train there any faster. So today..a breakthrough… I finally “get” that I must tolerate this frustration without disappointment or anger because in the end I am not in control of it anyway.

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Love Is…

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This is my favorite quote about what love is or what is is suppose to be.

I used to think it described B and I to a tee. Now is just seems as if we are dragging and pulling each other away from one another. This does not feel gentle at all. Our relationship feels like a boat being tossed to and fro while it is being battered by a gigantic storm.

How did this happen?

How can we stop it?

I love this man with all my heart but frankly I am not sure I like him all that much right now and he feels the same. In fact, last night we both said that never in our entire relationship have we felt this strong of a like/dislike set of feelings so intensely and so often. After 29 years we have lead each other gently to the other numerous times…what’s next?

I need to replace this old favorite with a new and improved LOVE IS quote. Ideas anyone?