I SUck At New Year’s Resolutions And So Do You

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I am not one for New Year’s Resolutions. It’s not that I don’t think they have merit. They  do…just for other people.

For me New Year’s resolutions are akin to yelling ” Fire” in a crowded theatre…only very bad things will come of it no matter how loud you yell.

In the past my resolutions have looked something like this…

2011…I will lose 20 pounds. Day 1 begins promisingly enough. I hide the Christmas candy while only sneaking one piece. I eat one banana, drink enough water to fill a lake and load up on enough salad that rabbits begin to terrorize me in my sleep. Day 2- First thing in the morning I step on the scale naked and am shocked to see my left boob laying on the ground as I bend over far enough to read those little led numbers that have gone up 10 pounds due to that fucking banana and the three pounds of lettuce I mowed through the day before. I am so tired due to my scales rather rude agenda and last night’s rabbit revenge that when I look out the window  I swear all I see are rabbits giving me the finger and laughing hysterically therefore, I sneak two pieces of chocolate in order to clear my head and give myself “I energy I need to make it through the rest of the day.”  Day 3- I fall off the scale as it registers 3 more pounds, hit my head and get a concussion. Of course, the only cure for that is candy…lots of it….and so it goes. By the end of the week I have gained 20 pounds and I have paid the garbage man a rather large ‘New Years tip to “accidentily” back over my scale 100 times.

2008. I would be a more observant and careful driver. I was but the 8 people who managed to run into my car that year were not.

2015. That my husband would find happiness once again in his life…he did in the arms of our Vietnamese tour guide.

As you can see, resolutions have never really worked out well for me. So for 2019 I have decided that I will wish for nothing and not try to implement any big changes in my life. No, this year I will just accept myself for who I am and offer myself forgiveness for my perceived failures . In the car and out of it. On the scale and off. I will have no expectations of others and I will expect nothing of myself in return.

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So here is to 2019! Nothing to be gained and nothing to lose. I think this will be my kind of year!

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The War Of Words

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Recently, I have been thinking back to the days when the boys were young. Those were the days and many of them I would never like to repeat. They were stressful with meltdowns and words that took a cruel aim to the heart.

“I hate you” “I wish you were not my mom” “You’re a whiney little jerk” “Mom, he called me a butt.” Those kinds of things. Normal, yes, but the frequency at our house was 100 times what was normal. It was exhausting.

I remember at one point trying to get the boys to think before they said something. Hard to do when you are seven and in the heat of the moment. Hard for me to do now at 55+ and if I am honest; I have never been a model for saying quiet well-thought-out words.

During these early days of chaotic boyhood, a friend once  told me what she asked her kids when the War of Words was going on. I thought it was genius and wished I had done more of it as they grew up. She would ask her kids:

Is what you said kind?

Is what you said helpful?

Is what you said loving?

Often times just by asking these questions I found I could bring a temporary respite to all the chaos. It was a blessing. It taught my kids that words have meaning and repercussions too.

Recently, I was thinking back to those times and I decided that those questions of yesteryear were valuable not just for kids but for me too and I have been trying to be mindful before I speak by asking myself these questions before spouting off. I have also added two other questions to ask myself before responding to others:

Is what I am about to say true?

What is my motivation (honest) for saying what is on my mind?

Admittedly, it is hard for me to remember to ask myself these questions before talking. Often, I fall far short of where I would like to be. But usually, if I just pause before speaking, I can do a quick inventory in my head of the answers to these questions and decide whether my response is:

True

Honest

Loving

Kind

Helpful

 

If what I am about to say is not any of the above; I am trying to learn to shut my mouth and keep it that way. As a person who has shot from the hip most of her life this is a real learning experience for me. A challenge akin to climbing Mt. Everest. It is not easy. It takes a little bit of awareness and planning. But every time I succeed in being mindful I know I am getting to be one step closer to the person I want to be which gives me hope that maybe one day before I die I will master this ability to speak mindfully and to shut my mouth when needed. But somehow I suspect that it might take my deathbed to figure it all out if even then. Yet, I keep trying because I know for the sanity of all involved that when I am kind, loving, honest, helpful, and true I give the best of myself to those who deserve only the best of me.

Amen (so be it)

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Pitter Patter of Little Feet

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Today after a wonderful day in the Florida Keys I arrived back at the hotel and saw my sweet grand babies. My daughter, Noele, drove 10 hours with a three-year-old and an almost two-year-old in the back of her car. She endured much crying, fighting, and a MAJOR puking incident just so she could see us again. Somehow, with all the mistakes we made as parents she turned out just right despite our good intentions. How that happened I will never know.

From the time she was a tween this mother/daughter team could always find something to argue about. Things like… which side of the toast is the correct side to butter, whether being a strict vegan was taking things to the extreme, and if boys were allowed to be in her room. Much to my dismay while I knew I loved her deeply, I didn’t like her  much and our relationship didn’t match the Brady Bunch ideal swimming around in my head.  I would see mothers (Carol) and daughters (Marcia) walking the malls together and it would pull at my heart. Seeing teens and their mothers enjoying a movie together hurt like hell. And those mothers who ran the Booster Club with their kids helping along side them…I knew it was never going to happen.

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B hunkered down. As a man who avoids conflict at all costs, having two of the women he loved most in the world living in a war zone with him serving as a NATO soldier trying to broker a peace deal was not an easy task. He never could understand all the slammed doors and word grenades being flung from one side of the house to the other and he visibly cringed when skirmishes erupted.

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When Noele was fifteen I never envisioned that we would have any sort of relationship until she kicked my casket into the ground. In fact, my biggest hope was that she would graduate early so she could move out of the house sooner and after a year away as an international exchange student, she returned home more stubborn and determined to ignore anything thing we had to say. And who could blame her? She tasted freedom for a year and wanted even more. The parental role I once relished became a nightmare and a battle of wills ensued in which both of us suffered heavy losses. Recovery seemed remote.

But then it happened. One day she grew up and into her own woman. It took a while and a first child for that to happen. The birth of my granddaughter brought several miracles along with her. No longer at odds with each other our commonalities soon surfaced and within those we found mutual respect and a deep well filled with love that was once bone dry.

These days we live at opposite ends of the country. We SKYPE almost daily so we can share tidbits of our daily lives and so that her kids “know” their Grammy and Papa. Noele willingly comes and takes care of her own children plus her brothers and sister so B and I can travel to far-flung places. I can’t imagine someone I would rather invest in a friendship with than my daughter. She values family, is generous with her time and is a good all-around person who has made me proud.

Tomorrow I will wake up with little ones running into my arms again. Squishy hugs and wet kisses will fill my day. We will squirm together, laugh together, and make real- life memories together. And its all because of her…my daughter…a once formidable foe who is now one of my best friends.

 

Right Speech, Better Communication

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Throughout my life I have been a person who is expressive. A person who uses lots of words and used them well. Too well it seems. I used words to let everyone know exactly what was on my mind at all times. I let words leave my mouth like flying monkeys swooping up people without thinking about the true meaning of my words. I didn’t care how I said IT just as long as IT was said.

Recently, it has occurred to me that my words were hurting others and as a result they were hurting me too. I realized that I was not connecting my heart to my tongue and had no idea how to do so. Even though I knew I wanted to change how I communicated I had idea of how to go about it. But then I chanced upon the Daily OM and the course How to Communicate Like a Buddhist : Lesson 1: The Elements of Right Speech by Cynthia Kane.

Kane’s way of approaching communication is different from anything I had ever seen. She states that the real purpose of communication is to help ourselves and others suffer less. And when communication is looked at through this lens it tosses convention aside and it makes it crystal clear that if we wish to change our relationships then the words we use, the intention behind them, and the way that we speak through them must be radically changed into talk that is kinder, more honest and most importantly… helpful… to those receiving our words.

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The thing I love about this course is that you pay for it based on what you think it is worth to you. Kane’s talks are detailed, thoughtful and in short…amazing. In addition, there is nightly homework to help firm up the ideas you are learning and put them into practice.

So here’s to better communication everyone! May your words be true, kind and helpful and may your well-chosen words spur you on to better and more rewarding relationships!

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Precious

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I’ve lost something precious,

That I can’t get back,

Erupting like Campi Flegrei,

I was a force of un-ending power,

Capable of killing love off,

Spitting words, ill-actions, and deeds

Spewing  word grenades through the air,

Erupting so often,

Your soul was scorched,

Love burned to the bone,

The resulting ash,

Spread amongst a family,

That leaves a residue,

That cannot be removed

 

 

I’ve lost something precious,

It cannot be found,

Underneath the wreckage,

Of past hurts,

By refusing to see,

The other side to the issue,

Insisting on being right,

Instead of being loving,

Selfish instead of giving,

Righteous instead of irreverent,

Proud instead of humble,

Rushed instead of patient,

 

 

 

I’ve lost something precious,

That used to be mine,

Due to lack of attention,

Deficiency of appreciation,

Spoilt indulgences,

And not understanding,

That the delicacy of love,

Is as strong but translucent,

As that of a Monarch Butterfly,

Able to travel thousands of miles,

As long as you don’t disturb,

The scales on its wings.

 

I’ve lost something precious,

That most don’t,

Find in a lifetime,

A thing dreams are made of,

A fairytale complete,

And I miss it… mourn it,

And wish for a re-do,

But I can never make up for,

The pain that I have caused…

I AM SORRY

 

 

 

 

I miss it

 

I miss you

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You Say You Love Me But…

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You know my story. Three homegrown kids, three adopted from Korea. Two with autism and other disabilities. You know how hard we have worked to create this family by pouring our souls and our finances into getting exactly what our children need to succeed as they inch closer to becoming tax-paying adults.

You have been with us through our pregnancy issues and through our long and precarious adoption processes. You have stood beside us we were challenged to take on the school system and the medical establishment. You listened to my tears on those days where hour-long meltdowns were a common place occurrence and when our hearts were broken by  diagnoses that initially seemed as if they would be impossible to traverse. (They weren’t).

This YOU I am referring to is…you… my aunts, uncles, cousins, brothers, sisters, and best friends. The people I have known and loved for a life-time.You… the people who have stood by my side through thick and thin for so many years. You…the people who have treated my kids like their own. I adore you, but at this moment in time, I must confess that I am confused. You tell me you me and love all of my children equally.  You assure me my boys are amazing. You also say that my daughters are intelligent and talented young women. And you tell me you would like your Caucasian son to marry my Asian daughter someday.  And yet, you also tell me you are voting for Trump. I just cannot wrap my head around this because the YOU that I know cares deeply about others and asks WWJD?

And so I have to ask, how can you vote for a man who makes fun of people with disabilities? People like my children who struggle for acceptance. Individuals, who like my boys, just want the same opportunities as those who aren’t in wheelchairs and are sighted. You of all people know of our family struggles because you have held my sons hands when they were sobbing because they have been bullied, yet again, and you were livid at the way they had been treated. Yet, you support a MAN who should know better yet makes fun of the disabled anyway. Where is your righteous anger at him?

You know that there are millions of disabled in this world who are thrown off public transportation or denied jobs because of their autism or missing limbs. We’ve talked about this and you have expressed your dismay. So why is it that you do not understand that if the leader of the USA bullies the disadvantaged, that he setting the framework for how we are to treat one another? That Trump is, in effect, telling the school yard bully that it is okay to intimidate your kid and anyone within arms reach . Don’t you realize that these kinds of hurtful/shameful behaviors will increase and once again reach into my home? The home of people that you say you love!

Why would you support a man who promotes bigotry and hatred especially when you know that this increases the chances of MY children being hurt or killed by people who profess a dislike for those that are “different” from them? You’ve heard other children call my kids “Chinese eyes” as they pulled back on their own, mocking them, and trying in some way to make them feel “less than.” You have seen first-hand the hurt in my children’s eyes and their confidence shattered. Why would you throw your weight behind someone who promotes the worst in human behavior instead of the best? Why would you stand behind someone who promotes an “us vs. them” mentality that will be divisive instead of uniting? And when this promotion of hatred undoubtedly explodes into something unfathomable will you willingly acknowledge the blood on your hands because you stood with the man who was promoting it?

As if the above was not enough; what I really don’t understand is how you can support a man who disparages women, cheats on them and makes inappropriate sexual remarks about them. We all have mothers, sisters, and daughters that we value and love. If your mother or daughter was being treated in a disrespectful manner or subjected to sexual harassment by their boss or a man on the corner would you laugh about it and dismiss it the way you do with Mr. Trump? I would hope not because if you do what kind of person does that make you? Seriously. THINK ABOUT IT.

I could go on about Mr. Trump not paying small business people which quickly puts them out of business. And I could wonder why you would elect someone who can’t keep his own financial affairs in order and refused to rent to people of color. And I could wonder about a man who cheats on his spouse, lies under oath, and takes only the best for himself. But what I really care about is how Trump treats others… and that is what worries me. He acts as if he is entitled…. to dismiss reporters doing their job… to tease people who are different from him…to bully women and minorities while promoting discord and hate. These derogatory ways of treating others are the signs of a man who has lost his sense of humanity, his ethics, and his ability to promote and live in a virtuous manner. He is a man who lacks the understanding that most people are not born in the lap of luxury that he was and has no clue of what it is like to live the way most people do. He didn’t earn his wealth. It was inherited. Why would you vote for someone who is that out of touch with you and your situation?

So, when November rolls around and you go to cast your ballot, before you do, I want you to think about my children and how much you love them. I want you to remember all the wonderful women in your life. I want you think about the disabled, the poor, the elderly, and all the people who you respect and love who do not look like you. And consider this… that a vote for Trump is a vote against people like me who love their children with challenges. A vote for Trump is a vote against all the females in your lives. And a vote for Trump is a vote against kids who do not have the same invisible privileges that their white parents do. So think of me when you vote. Consider why I might be fearful for all those beautiful faces within my family if you vote for this Republican. Please… just yourself in my shoes… because someday you or a loved one might be walking in them.

“Principles of justice are principles that rational, self-interested people would choose to govern the society in which they were going to live, provided that they did not know, at the time they chose the principles, exactly what their own place in society would be.” – James Rachel’s forward  to John Rawl’s  book, Two Concepts of Rules.

A Good Book

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I am reading the book Perfume River by Pulitzer Prize winner Robert Olen Butler. His words flow like a river during the spring rains…rushing and so powerful that they threaten to pull you under. Yet, Butler also knows how to write as if the river is also drying and receding into itself … the author’s words trickling from the pages in a sparse kind of way like the character who finds himself parched and unable to continue his journey.

As a writer I find it amazing when an author can match the flow of his words with the flow of the story. It’s a rarity, that. Most people can write of feelings and place but show me an author who has the gift of using words to match the tempo of the story, like a composer who pens his first notes for each instrument; well, it is a gift to the reader.

I wish I had the ability to match my words and actions with the tempo of storyline that is running throughout my life. Often I feel that my passion is too intense for the scene or that I fall behind not realizing the importance of the moment until it has passed. Sometimes I find  myself experiencing a momentary loss of words as I traverse this life that is mine. Having my emotions and words match what is going on in life often presents a bit of a challenge and I find that sometimes I am missing the perfect words that would complete the chapter in a satisfying sort of way for all the characters in my life.

But if the truth is told,  seldom is the time that we get to write our own life story as we envision it. Often plots are pushed upon us through no fault of our own and characters we never imagined magically appear. We expect a monsoon but get a drought instead. And as we journey through life we often forget that our words set the pace for what happens next, who we become, and the quality of our relationships that we are in.

So today, let us be mindful of the words we are saying and where they might be taking us. Let us craft our words and deeds like the chapter of a good book. And by thinking before speaking, let us be like that author who knows what to edit out to make the story flow. After all, it is our own personal story so its up to us to make it interesting and something we would be proud to let others read.  We may not get a Pulitzer Prize but we will get immense satisfaction in taking the time to craft a life that becomes our own bestseller.

 

 

 

 

Into The Dark I Go

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So this week I went to see my therapist. We had an interesting discussion in which she told me that I do not have to say out loud every thought that enters my brain. And while I have “understood” this for quite a while I have a hard time putting it into practice for it stems from some parts of my childhood and marriage that are not yet resolved. For whatever reason, I associate that saying what you feel it = honesty. Not saying what you feel = dishonesty.

“How is that working for you?” she asked. “Not too well is it? I have to say your radar on honesty and dishonesty is out of whack. It is a defense that has nothing to do with true honesty and you need to work hard to figure it out.”

Even I have to admit she is correct. Evidence shows that this way of operating befuddles me and creates unnecessary pain for myself and others.

She went on:

“You think you are being honest when in fact you are not because you are not allowing time for things to gel. By jumping the gun you are getting facts wrong or putting them in a category that they do not belong in. You are not containing what you are thinking long enough to see if the facts line up with your powerful intuition and when you speak from intuition without the facts you are not being honest.You are not being mindful. In fact, by not allowing time to pass in which you can throughly examine what is before you, well, you are contributing to some of the dishonesty that occurs in your life.”

Ouch.

“Further,” she went on, “When you speak too soon it shows that you are not operating in a conscious and mindful manner. It shows that you are just surviving which is not healthy.”.

Ugh

Again she is right …which makes the near future a whole lot more difficult. Because once again I have got some heavy duty work to do on myself which means unpacking a lot of boxes that lie in the Place of Mystery which are hidden in the deep and dark recesses of my mind. And while I know it will be worth it in the end, right now it feels like trying to unwrap a house that has been encased in yards of cellophane one layer at a time. This feels hard, tiresome and exhausting.  And it will be. I try to remind myself that to produce the change I want to see, I have to put forth effort. So today, I start by unpacking one box and putting one foot in front of the other… so I get eventually get where I want to go.

With the light of wisdom

We leave behind the forest of confusion.

With determination we learn,

We reflect and practice -Thich Nhat Hanh

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Raw

I read a few of my writings to him

He was hurt and upset

Believed my words and thoughts were raw

He said:

“Why didn’t you let me see these

Before we went into the therapists office

Why would you save this for in there?

Why didn’t you let me see your words and let me

think about them before going in?”

I think:

It’s suppose to be a safe place

Exactly where we are suppose to take

Our deepest hurts and fears

Where we have someone to help us

Through the words and through the tears

He thinks:

Why did you ambush me?

It’s his real question

Unspoken with words

But spoken just the same

I think:

Maybe I just want to hear from your heart

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And not listen to your rehearsed

Very logical answers

Maybe I long to know

What you really FEEL not THINK

To hear words spoken from the heart

Not encased in the laughter you use

To deflect the feelings that threaten

To overwhelm you like a bad case

Of poison ivy

I am:

Guilty and sad that I hurt him

Wishing that I could say with words

The things I so easily write on paper

Perhaps they would be less complex

And easier to hear

But I am not sure that words are whats needed now

Maybe its deep feelings

Because we both want to run from them

Instead of dealing with the pain they contain

I know:

I still love him

That it hurt me deeply to hurt him

Even if that was not my intention

My intention was to be HEARD

And I wish I could take back the words

I said because I don’t want to see

Him retreat

Because of my pain

And his pain

Because really he just wants peace, love and rainbows

Happiness and joy

He claims he is a simple man

Uses it as an excuse

Not to touch those parts of him

That make him feel vulnerable and afraid

He says:

He is a simple man

But we both know better than that

 

 

 

Dyed Love

 

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I loved you once you know

Deeply. completely. selfishly

I devoured you…wanting you to know

Everything I was thinking

Because you couldn’t tell me

What was in your own head

So , instead, I put ideas into your head

While trying to force you to examine things

You had hidden away

From yourself for protection

Of a soul shredded

Long before I came on the scene

I am tired of you blaming me

For what the ghosts in your past

Did to you

And I am tired of seeking answers

From a man is not brave enough

To figure out whether he wants a life with me

Or without

I feel raw, used, scattered

Blown up into pieces that are gone

There is not enough glue in the world

For me to painstakingly put them all together again

Because I am busy and tired of trying to fill up

Your empty spaces and your selfish wants

The ones you know about (yes… those ones you selfish bastard)

And the ones you aren’t even aware of yet

but I am…

I am aware of more than you give me credit for

But I cannot put you together anymore either

You have to do it yourself

Stop depending on me to make

You feel good about yourself again

I can no longer carry your feelings for you

I can barely carry my own

When I remember I even have them anymore

Instead I remember a grenade

That exploded deep within my soul

And you are the one who threw it

Wounding us

You and me

And I wonder if we will ever be the same

For I am running on fumes

Somewhere near the end

Of wanting to figure all of this out

Wanting to run away from the pain

From You

From this life

That at times no longer feels right

Or loving or kind or cherished

A life that is made more complicated

By the issues of others

Until I can no longer differentiate between

Their issues and yours

But find I am growing tired of both

Of giving of myself 100%

When I just want to retreat

Somewhere deep. silent. and kind.

A place where I am no longer wounded

On a daily basis

A place where I can heal

And I can stand up again

Full of confidence. happiness. and belief

That I really do have purpose in my life

And that it starts with me

My purpose. my wants. my needs.

Alone

Without having to consider

And put first

The needs of anyone else in the world