Give Thanks

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GIVE THANKS

For my sons

And for my daughters

For my man who is

My  best lover

And for my friends

Who have taught me about myself

Even those parts I delude myself into thinking

Are good for my soul

GIVE ME APPRECIATION FOR ALL I HAVE

 

GIVE THANKS

For all the people in the world

Trying to do their best

Suceeding with what they have been given

Never giving up

Never giving in

Putting one foot in front of the other

On a journey which is so different than my own

GIVE ME UNDERSTANDING AND EMPATHY

 

GIVE THANKS

For all I have been blessed by and with

And all I have had the opportunity to discover

May I never forget

Fatima’s mother and her daily struggle, her smile

Etched in my memory

GIVE HER MUCH NEEDED BLESSINGS

 

GIVE THANKS

I have a warm belly

No bombs dropping and  causing chaos and destruction

A life free from true suffering

That so many must led

Through no fault of their own

Lives shattered by policies

Not of their making

GIVE MUCH NEEDED WISDOM TO THOSE IN CHARGE

 

GIVE THANKS

For life-giving trees

For abundant fresh water

For those remaining polar bears fast disappearing

Due to man’s negligence

A earth that supports so many

In peril and under stress

Because of wants not needs

And our throw away culture

GIVE ALL HER CITIZENS INSIGHT TO DO BETTER BY HER

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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Living For The Magic Of The Moment

Many years ago I lived in the Midwest. Our property sat on a bluff overlooking the town and in fall the leaves were so vivid and red that it seemed that they were painted in rich shimmery oils aptly named CANDY CANE or FIRE ENGINE RED. We had an idyllic six acres on which to roam. On the north side a succulent pear tree grew silently upward, its branches winding silently around an abandoned wood pile, while hybrid cold-weather wine grapes dotted the steep hill out front. But the best place to be was near the back of the property where remnants of a old fort lay rotting on the ground and a bowl-shaped mass of thorny gigantic red raspberries grew; the best I have ever tasted. Seriously. All these years later I haven’t experienced anything that comes close.

It was a sliding-into-fall sort of day. Jackie and I were taking a walk at the back of the property where an old car lay on the other side of the fence being claimed by no one for the past 30 years. The sun was starting its descent while still warming the stagnant air when a monarch butterfly floated by; the light shining through its semi-transparent wings like the Rose window at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. We were surprised when another butterfly glided by, soon to be followed by another, and another, and yet another. So we began to follow them to the far back edge of our land, a place we rarely visited.

As we rounded the corner we were suddenly blinded by intense hues of orange, black and green swimming in the trees. Swarms of Monarch Butterflies, starting their migration, clung to the limbs one on top of another like necklaces of cascading orange pearls. It was mesmerizing … wings sunning themselves in the remaining light of the day and legs climbing one over the other as the dominant butterfly would make it’s way to the top of the chain.I had never seen anything like it. And then it happened…

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Our beast of a dog ran up to us barking joyfully and the butterflies released themselves from one another and the trees, swarming and swirling outward and upward, luminous in flight with hundreds upon hundreds of the magnificent creatures filling the sky. I still remember the chorus of the velvety fuzzy flap of their wings as the flew around us, some alighting on the pear tree and others settling on our heads and arms. It was one of those exceedingly rare “Take Your Breath Away” moments; the kind that you remember as you take your last dying breaths. The kind that you try to artificially create time and time again but can never quite capture the vivacity, artistry and allure of that type of spontaneity again. Yet, it doesn’t stop us from trying with mostly disappointing results.

What is it about these elusive and precious seconds that makes us want to experience them many times over? Moments like those few first seconds when you meet someone and immediately you know they are the soulmate you have been waiting for your entire life.  Or the first cry of the baby you have anxiously imagined during the last nine months. Or the moment your child shows empathy towards someone who is struggling and you realize that how you have been parenting this kid has been right all along. It’s those rare fleeting glimpses of beauty, compassion, love and mystery that give us idea of who we are and what we want for the future.They provide a meaning to life and it is in these special moments that we are reminded of the possibilities that still exist. They give us hope for something better and sometimes closure and the peace that come with it. And if you are lucky and on a day least expected, sometimes you can find those magic moments right around the corner and in your own backyard.

Copyright 2015

“A lake that is noisy cannot reflect anything” – Robert Adams…290 Days TO Fix This

Years ago, when we were first married I bought our first picture for our house. Little did I realize at the time of purchase how much art mimicked life. Our life, in fact.

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The painting consists of two swans. One bird is serene and just floating along quietly. Obviously, if we apply this to real life, this swan is definitely B. The other swan is upright, flapping its wings, chest out of the water and making such a ruckus it looks like it is going to stroke out any minute. That would be me. And this is pretty much how we have lived our lives. Me… upset about social injustice, corrupt politicians and suck-worthy IEP meetings. Meanwhile, B stays in the background gliding around effortlessly while making noise and flapping his wings only when truly necessary. Think emergencies or boys being truly bad. And guess who people respected and listened to…yep B. I’ve discovered that no one likes a noisy bird.

Finally after many years of being upset and squawking over just about everything, I made a conscious decision to change. I decided I didn’t want to be the flapping, stroking-out swan anymore; instead I wanted to be the serene swan whose stillness reflects her inner beauty and confidence over wide swaths of the quiet lake. I wanted to be the swan that was listened to and whose wisdom was sought.

And there is another major reason for this change. Noise. I have discovered that noise creates chaos and chaos creates pain in numerous different forms. I now understand the beauty of living a life with much less noise/chaos leading to increased peace, harmony and understanding for all members of the pond to enjoy.

So now, when I look at the picture it serves as reminder of conscious change.  Further, when I glimpse the painting, I no longer believe myself to be the flappy-crappy swan. Now I see myself as the noble swan.  And now because of the stillness of the swan it allows the tranquil pond to reflect back the quiet confidence of this beautiful old bird as it glides silently by.

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In the Stillness…315 Days To Fix This

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Do you know that blessed silence just before dawn? Those moments before the first chirp of a bird, or toss of the newspaper the second before it hits the pavement and before the first car on the block roars to life and exits the driveway without the driver looking in the rearview mirror because she is always the first on the road?

It’s that peaceful time, a sleepy lackadaisical moment when everything seems right and nothing could possibly be wrong or go south. It is a time for hope, daydreaming, and a mug of hot coffee laced with sweet cream and steam that floats so high in the air it looks as if it is the tail on the end of a kite sliding towards the moon.

Those are precious moments, silent moments, that are yours alone until…

Your wife opens her mouth.

Blaise Pascal said, “All men’s miseries derive from not being able to sit in a quiet room alone.”

I am sure my husband would agree.

When B first mentioned the M.A.Y.B.E.  D.I.V.O.R.C.E. one of the things that made him unhappy (or so he thought) was that I didn’t get up with him in the morning. I didn’t because I thought that it was his private time. A time to relax before the day began and I didn’t want to intrude. But sure, I could accommodate him and in that vein, I told him to wake me up in the morning so that we could spend some time together.

He hated it.

All of a sudden his quiet was gone, vanished like a cockroach in the light. Skittering away to small places where the quiet became the smallest of silent echoes. And where peace once reined now there were questions.

“When did you first feel like you were not happy?”

“Gracie seems to be developing an attitude. How should we fix it?”

“Do you think that love gets easier or harder the longer you are married?”

“Do my thighs looks fat?”

“The dog needs his anal glands expressed. Can you do that?”

I have to confess that the morning togetherness lasted about a week and then he just stopped waking me up. I’ve asked him about it and he says that he needs his time in the morning and if I want to join him I can knowing that he will keep doing whatever he has been doing for the past 10 years. And it makes me sad. I enjoyed connecting in the morning with him but it appears he can do without connecting with me.

But I have a plan. Tomorrow I will get up with him and just sit quietly. I won’t ask questions, I won’t make comments and I will just sit. Peacefully. Mute. Serenely. And utterly still.  Because sometimes in those stolen peaceful moments just before dawn you can find things by just observing in the stillness. And I am looking…for what’s left of my marriage and myself. Perhaps, I will find it in the quiet right before the muffled sounds that signal a new day and a new way of relating.

Choose Something Different …323 Days To Fix This

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I have recently been listening to a lecture by Pema Chodron On Udemy called The Freedom to Choose Something Different. It is fabulous.

One of the things Pema talks about is how we get “hooked”…that is how we react over and over again in the same ways even though it is hurting our health, our relationships and our ability to be at peace because we just can’t let things go. She talks about how even before we process “the hook” we can feel it in our gut…that unconscouis tightening that occurs when we are starting to be hooked and react in ways that are not beneficial for us or others. And Pema is right.

Many times when I was yelling I would feel that anger start in the pit of my stomach and move upward and then out of my mouth in the form of a very LOUD yell. Pema says that the trick to eliminate this unwanted behavior is to choose to do something different to break that pattern of reaction.

There are several things that I have put into place when I feel that irritation or anger first start. They are:

I take 10 deep breaths (one breath doesn’t work for me because I can hyperventilate and  breath so fast, so that I am still angry when I am done…sigh)

I removed myself to my closet where I listen to a 10 minute Chel Hamilton Podcast which teaches new approaches to try when things are bothering me. Bonus this totally relaxes me and I am a new person when I emerge.

I envision myself reacting the way I would like someone to act towards me

I pull on my ear to break my irritation pattern and amazingly it calms me right down.

In this vein, I once listened to a NPR program that talked about the huge issue of heroin addiction that the Army was facing prior to the Vietnam Vets arriving back in the States after the war. The soldiers were shooting up in large numbers in Viet Nam and the Armed Forces were worried about the tidal wave of soldiers returning home addicted. Turns out that while some addicts did continue with their habit, many more did not. Why? It seems that changing location made a huge difference. Not due to access but just due to the fact that when you change a pattern you can change behavior.

Breaking the pattern is the first step towards change whether it is yelling, eating, sleeping or many other issues that we find annoying or that damage relationships. It takes recognition, hard work, mindfulness and wanting something different in order to incorporate things into our lives to stop “the hook” from taking over.

So if you are driving along and you see a woman frantically tugging on her ear, it is probably me, and you probably just cut me off but it no longer irritates me because I have chosen to do something different. Have you?