Sunday, December 31, 2017

Not Only Lovers Betray... How to Forgive when Loving Kindness feels Flawed.

Loving kindness.

That's what I praise and that's what I believe in. But what happens when the real world gets in the way and there is a serious transgression?  A true breach of trust?  A feeling that you have been betrayed and that a relationship mutually built in which you placed your heart, soul, sweat and tears, becomes one that you question?

I find myself wondering is forgiveness and practicing loving kindness something that means that I have condoned the behavior of another?

I find myself wondering does loving kindness mean that I "look the other way" and that my own sense of betrayal is not important?

Do I compartmentalize those feelings, wrap them into a little box, where they could quite possibly fester and poison me?

How does one reconcile this situation?

At what point does another's actions which impact me cross a line (however honorably they think they have been motivated).  Do they ever cross a line if you practice loving kindness?

This is where I'm at.  I have always been a believer that we choose to decide how we react to a situation.  And our reactions define us as people as much, if not more, than any other singular facet of our being.

Yet, I find myself questioning.  I feel myself steering away from my own practice of compassion towards others and closing off.  I feel little and threatened and angry.  I know this anger is holding me down, but where do I put that anger?  How do I manage it?

Will time be the great equalizer and slowly, with moments that become days, that become years, I will find balance moving baby steps forward, deciding that my won story and the well being of my community is more valuable than my anger?

Will I ever choose to invest my time and energy into another kindred relationship with so much spirit, warmth and compassion?  Is my little light diminished because of my experience with what I perceive to be a betrayal?

Can I call on compassion and wisdom of experience to allow a special place that was once in my heart for someone to be filled by another?  Can that place be filled again by that same person?

Loving kindness is about sending the one who has wronged you the acceptance and gratitude of life.  It is not jealous; it is not proud, it is not angry.

It is the turn the other cheek mentality.

I write this today, because I am searching.  Searching for that place in my heart to be consumed by kindness and compassion, not bitterness and reluctance.

So I write this story and perhaps it will help you as I believe it is helping me.....

There once was a girl who lived in the forest.  It was a beautiful forest with tall pines all around.  There was never a lack of food, nor did she ever feel lonely.  Always there were creatures, bunnies, mice and birds, with whom she would sing and speak.

She spent many years in that solitary spirit, unworldly, the forest an umbrella, beyond a great unknown.

It so happens that a traveling saleswoman, with shiny wares and trinkets, enticed her.  She had nothing to trade except for her own labor, which she reluctantly agreed she would work for this woman for three years, in trade for a bright sparkling ring.  The girl left the forest and entered a world of color and sound.  A world that pressed in close and showed her the brightest of lights and the darkest of darks.  She met new people and she learned new things.  The traveling saleswoman befriended her, and she placed all her trust in this woman, who was wise, trusting, and worldly.  The girl, now a woman in her own eyes, knew that everything she had learned, all her knowledge of business, the arts, what it means to be human, good and evil, and of the cities, came from her friend, whom she now called her mentor.

The mentor never asked for anything, but that the girl keep her word.  The mentor offered solace, sage advice, food and a warm place by her fire and in return she expected the girl to honor her commitment.

One evening, the last of their stay, when the girl was investigating the city, she encountered a fountain.  A swan gracefully arched its neck to the sky, where water spouted.

The girl stood, staring, until two older girls approached with sketch pads in hand.  They exchanged polite courtesies and the girl explained how dazzled she was by the swan, that she had never seen such a sight.

The girls offered her a once in a lifetime chance.  They were employed by the sculptor who had designed this swan.  He was right now in the city, and she could meet him, and travel also with him.  they grasped the young woman's hand, and she pulled back slightly, reluctant to go, her mentor had given her only this night to alone ponder the pathways and search the sights.

Yet the girls spoke so smoothly and their stories were so sordid of their travels to exotic places, where giants roamed jungles, that she acquiesced.  She indeed felt her actions were wrong, but the thirst for adventure was so great in her now, she pushed those aside.  She did not think of time in years, she was in this moment.

Her mentor waited all night for the young woman, who did not show.  By daybreak, she was frantic, as the girl had never left her side for so long before.

She searched, calling out to the girl whom she had come to love with all her heart,  in whom she had placed her affection and revealed her secrets.

She soon found the place of the swan, and, calling out the girl's name, was approached by a boy had had been spying when the girl had left with her companions.  In return for a small craved wooden horse, he explained what he had seen.

The mentor denied the girl had abandoned her.  She refused to believe she would go without even a kind word of parting.

Yet, she could only wait so long in the city before moving on.

She never saw the girl again, nor was she the same person she had been before she met the girl.

With grief, she piled her bags, thrust them over her shoulder, and placed one foot in front of the other, heading away, to a place for which she was destined, a road divided from the girl.

She saw time stretch like a rubber band and understood that her choices were her own, as were the girl's. 

~May you find the ability to forgive as I am trying to forgive the girl.
With grace,

Saturday, September 30, 2017

My Dad does not exist in my life-- Not the Way You Would Think

My Dad does not exist in my life.  I can call him whatever dads are supposed to be called- Papa, Daddy, Dad, Father.  None of those names are relevant and none exist for me.  Not now, and not ever.

After 40 years, It took a 16 year old girl to teach me that I have spent all these years I've been waiting, hoping, wishing, praying, and looking for something that was never going to be.

What I wanted-

Someone who would sing to me,
             pick me up and swing me around,
                  read me bed time stories,
                     give me piggy back rides
                         take me sledding.
                            Answer all
                                         my Whys

Kiss my boo-boos
       Tell me about how stupid boys are and how they'll break my heart.
              Give me chicken noodle soup when I was sick

High five me when I brought my 100s home from school
               teach me how to swim
                    climb trees
                         swing a bat.

Ask me "What do you want to be when you grow up?"
           watch my soccer games,
                  listened to my awful saxophone solos.
                           explain how to do my physics homework.

               In high school he'd proudly watch me
                          win all Northern in Soccer and Softball
                              earn certificates in academics
                                  smile wistfully at me in my prom dress- remembering his little girl.
                                         and when I walked across the stage that summery June evening
                                                    to take my diploma, a little tear would slip through.

And my wedding...
      There he is, graying now, but still strong, watching me approach in a beautiful white dress...
               his baby girl.
          He would fold my arm under his, and hold back a river of tears that he has dammed.
The father daughter dance he would whisper in my ear about that time I
 "accidentally" cut my hair on one side of my head- looking like I came straight from Mad Max movie
             and say "You're so beautiful.  I'm lucky to be your dad."

And even years later, he'd be waiting while I push and Push
          waiting for that blissful moment
                  when he holds his granddaughter in his arms,
                          like he had his daughter.

And now, with the grandchildren growing,
           I would call him with my sadness, my joy, and my fears, my disappointing and remarkable moments as a parent.
                      He would be a solace for me.
                              I would joke about how he's getting older and pretty soon,
                                          I'll be taking care of him.

This is the dad I dream of... but he never happened.
    What did happen were various father figures through my life- my grandpa Ronnie (my rock),  my high school softball coach- Joe Jubinville, my advisor in college- Dr. Paul Johnston, my step dad Clayton (who is awesome step-dad and Papa), my father-in law- Mike Murtagh, who is a great father figure,
              All these men have been father figures to me.  They have filled the role that my real dad couldn't.  They did all the dad things that a girl needs a father for. 

They may not realize it, and I haven't until now- but I never needed that DAD because I've had many dads.... who took it upon themselves to care about me and for me.  Just because I wasn't born their daughter, they've shown me the love I needed at the time I needed it.  For all these men, thank you.
                          Thank you all for loving me like a dad should love a daughter...

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

"Straining to See Through the Windshield, Covered with a Gathering Layer of Ice" Thoughts on Positive Thinking

             It is 6:45 am on a Wednesday morning.  There is a light snow and with the darkness and streetlights, a magical kind of picture, winter framed, emerges.  I'm on my way to work.  By my side is the at risk student I work with every day.  I've been bringing her to school and picking her up since she returned from a suspension in December as an intense intervention.  I hand her a hot cocoa, she pulls out an earbud and says, "Thank you."   We engage in the kind of random and mundane morning talk about "How did you sleep?" and "This snow is pretty."  and "Who are you staying after with today?"  She is testy this morning, having gone to bed way past what I would consider a good bedtime.  Then she reveals: her best friend is moving away.  And, even though she may not admit it, I know the pending school vacation is going to be tough for her as she will be going away to visit her siblings.  Seems like a great thing, but she will have to leave them again at the end of the week.  I reassure her that it is ok. Still, I know she worries about them.  I tell her,  "You will make new friends." I tell her she will see her little brother and sisters again.  I tell her, "Things turn out best for people who make the best of the way things turn out."  I encourage her to use social media to connect with her friend and siblings.  She is still downtrodden.  I smile and give her shoulder a squeeze and we pull into school. I tell her "Have a great day.  I'll see you at 3."  She says, "You too," and shuts the door.
             I am nearly 40 years old, have a satisfying albeit stressful job, a caring and compassionate life partner and some pretty awesome kids.  We have a lovely home, a new SUV, and another car that's been paid off.  He has a reliable and good paying job.  We buy mostly organic food and make healthy lifestyle choices.  While we are conscientious of the money we spend, we are able to afford to live a comfortable lifestyle.
             I am a part of the middle class.  I say things like, "I'm blessed," and when times are tough I say, "This too shall pass."  When I spill a cup of coffee on myself (which I've done countless times) I'm able to laugh about it or rationalize it.  If my plane is delayed, my car breaks down, or my plumbing backs up and I have to call a professional, it's not that I'm happy about it, but mentally I am conditioned to believe that these things are temporary and that good things are just around the corner.          
        Not only am I living a life of physical luxury, but I'm also living a life of mental luxury.  There is a cultural shift right now, as I write and you read, to be "mindful," to "live every moment," and to "see the blessings in the everyday and simple things." There is a movement in which mental toughness and zeroing in on the good is at the forefront.   I admit I too am just as part of that paradigm as anyone else.  But let's be honest, (for the moment).  We are able to do this because we have a life of comfort.  It's true...  When something bad happens to me, I have the support of the people around me who are able to give me sound, productive and constructive advice.  I am able to reason through a series of wise steps, and chances are if I need some kind of therapy or care, I am able to access it for as long as I need it.  Living this lifestyle, I have things I look forward to: vacations to sandy beaches with friends, hiking excursions, that new book I just can't wait to read.  These things and people give me a sense of well being and hope that there is some kind of meaning to this existence, and the financial resources and education I have helps me evaluate the situations as they arise and respond accordingly.  This is why I understand that a setback is temporary and that I will persevere.
             But what happens if you are a single mom on a limited budget.  Your partner left you for another woman.  You've gained some weight and as much as you'd like to work out and eat healthy, you don't have the time and you can't afford to (having access to clean and organic food, vitamins, salt lamps, essential oils, paraben and sulfate free products isn't something you can't afford).  Your boss is just that, a boss, and not understanding when you have to take time off for sick kids.  Today, on your way to work, you are thinking about how you are going to be able to afford to pay the electric bill since your children's father hasn't given you money in as long as you can remember.  You have no heat in the car and the muffler is rattling.  It needs to be fixed.  Your youngest child has an awful cough and you spent your last five dollars on medicine for him.  You drive by Tim Horton's and look at the line of cars, wishing you had that luxury.  There is a soft snow falling, but you don't see it.  You are straining to see through the windshield which is covered with a gathering layer of ice.  You wipe it away again and bang on the dashboard.  You hope it will shake the defrost, but at the very least it relieves some tension.  Your feet are frozen.  You are wearing the boots you got at a garage sale and the socks have multiple holes in the toes.  They were all that was clean.  You haven't had time to make it to the laundromat this week.  Or the money.  Maybe this weekend you can go.  You decide you can save some money by hanging the wet laundry around the house, instead of using the dryers.  You signal and slowly turn a corner, but your car begins to fishtail despite your caution.  The back end slides into a light pole.
               Shall we tell this woman "This too shall pass?"  How do you think she will get to work now that she has no car?  She is already thinking about what she can sell in her house that might pay for whatever needs to be covered.  She has a microwave.  She thinks maybe she can get 20$ for that.  A gold ring with a topaz her grandma gave her when she graduated from high school, when it seemed like maybe she would go somewhere with her life. She never made it to college.  She met him and she thought she was in love.  Then the babies came.  He barely acknowledged her.  He came home when he needed a meal and a bed.  She had only one person. Then that one person who meant the world to her, her grandma, died. The only woman she could ever rely on.  She didn't want to sell that ring, but she knew she might have to.  She gets out of the car and looks at the pole.  It doesn't look to have any damage.  Her car is another story.  She doesn't know how she is going to do it.  She wants to give up.  It's too hard.
               The power of positive thinking, you say?  Being positive is more complicated than we give it credit.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Delicately Intertwined

I think of you 
from the time I awake and 
off and on 
if I allow 
my mind to wander.  

Our meeting and parting 
is a tangible expression of what I know and feel  I have always known about you and me, 
something more than my body, 
more than your body,  
something more than my words, 
more than your words.

It is a feeling and it is a thought 
and it is more and less than both.  
And sometimes it is neither and only feels like a memory. 
 It is more powerful than the human expression of love and it is not lust, 
but it is like something of both.  

I try to put into words and I find it impossible.  
I only know that there is something that is the very essence of what is me 
that feels that something that is the very essence of you 
is delicately intertwined.

I hope you can understand:  
I have known you and will always know you despite what events happen in this lifetime.