Tag Archives: blame

Laundry Can Wait … What’s Taking Up Space In Your Life?

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I just returned from seven days at the shore. Outer Banks, North Carolina, to be exact and it has been a while since I’ve taken a trip with just my tribe. Last summer’s trip to my hometown of Buffalo, NY, and summer childhood playground of Bay Beach, Lake Erie, Canada was a bit of a shitstorm (the weather was great, truly, but another atmospheric energy vacuum disturbance was at play) and the fact that this is the first time I’m mentioning it should tell you how taboo the content is. Nonetheless, despite my body’s awareness of the angle of the sun and the lift of the heat and inner knowing that I’m not usually below the Mason-Dixon Line this time of year, I packed up my stuff with my team here and we went south to the OBX. 

Okracoke Island, looking north.

From Okracoke looking west.

Okracoke Island, N.C. Superior in all ways. Looking South.

We got a 4×4 vehicle beach pass. I HIGHLY recommend it; this is our approach to “Shelly Beach” near Hatteras light house.

My view from our rental hovel. Full moon rising.

The drive in, once you clear Nags Head. Totally natural.


It was glorious. It was some of the most primitive and expansive beaches I’ve ever seen. It rivaled the Pacific Coast in its big sky, boundlessness. I never felt so small and yet so alive at the same time. They say that there are more stars in the sky than there are grains of sand ALL OVER our Earth. I’m good with that now. It used to intimidate me because I would think, “Why bother?” But now, the obligation to be a person of purpose — no matter what that is: trash picker, photographer, pasta cooker, laundry folder… is too great. The odds that we are here because God, the fates, the universe deemed it, are too fine. We must live well. It’s our duty. Just do it with love.  

The weather was sublime, the people were kind and patient and everyone was on vacation — even seemingly so the people who were working. The owner at Uncle Eddy’s mini golf and custard, a Texan at heart, was all North Carolina sunshine and fleecy clouds. His young co-worker, a bespectacled ginger with an odd personality who took it upon herself to tell me about the houses she had just cleaned the day before, “One has six bathrooms, two of those with a bidet, and eight bedrooms. It’s real nice, it’s got granite counters and stainless steel kitchen and a hot tub and a pool. Hardwoods in the foyay and marble floors in the kitchen (ouch, sounds like it should be the other way around and in Manhattan). Each bathtub is a jacuzzi (back when those were in vogue I guess) and the carpet is real nice. Chandeliers and giant windows… I don’t do windows…” Of course not. 

As we were in our hovel, compared to the place she mentioned, I marveled at the austerity of the place and how important that austerity is to truly let the mind and the spirit relax and retune. There were maybe no cookbooks anywhere and maybe a handful of family portraits. The “artwork” (mostly cheap prints from shops on NC-12, the main road in and out of OBX) depicting dolphins (thus denoted with the caption “D O L P H I N S” beneath) and wind-tamed dunes on the walls had all succumbed to the UV rays that blast through the glass facing the shore and had taken on that cream-pink-blue tone, where the image starts to fade / bleed into the empty space, a sure sign of the deterioration of the paper upon which they were printed. What was funny to me in retrospect is the placement of some of the images: they were also on scant mountable surface area of the very walls that faced the sea. Call me a jerk, but if the choice is between watching the rolling tide of the Atlantic, witnessing real  d o l p h i n s  actually do that thing they do when they swim, and watch the occasional flock of pelicans fly amidst the wind drift just above the water, versus glancing at artwork (shit or Renoir), I’ll choose the sea. So about that austerity thing: discern. If you’re going to decorate scantily, just do it well. 

The house had a washer and dryer. I told my children and myself: don’t bring more than you really need: 3 of everything, nothing fancy. I ignored my own instruction and overpacked (not terribly). However I wore everything I packed. And I did. Except one t-shirt and one pair of shorts. I did bring three swimsuits. I wore two. Of the two I wore, I wore only one once. I own this. So I lied. I didn’t wear everything I packed. I know you might think this is not a big deal, but for some reason, it bugs the crap out of me. Ethics. Do what you say. Say what you do. The inner “disturbance in the force” of my own mind because I know I have too much shit in my life to begin with.  And to top it off, I bought things while I was there. Two t-shirts and a pair of sunglasses. And a hat. And a Turkish towel; the real kind, not the fluffy kind. My husband bought me a hammerhead shark plushie, much to my squealing delight.

We packed enough sunscreen though and that was super important because my middle son, Thing 2, decided he didn’t need sunscreen — he wanted to correct his farmer’s tan, so without my knowledge he went all day on Sunday without SPF. That was an unwise choice, and he paid for that for days, but he was pretty good-humored about it. My youngest son, Thing 3, simply didn’t put any on — there wasn’t a plan. He rather fancies his alabaster, blue-hued skin tone and because he is the third of our three children, we simply forgot about him. Not true, but essentially it’s become somewhat of a pattern here. We used to call him “the merry wanderer” (because he’d just take off) until he burst into tears because he thought we were calling him a girl, “Mary Wanderer.” When I explained the distinction, that  “merry” meant “happy” like how we say “Merry Christmas” which only made things worse and began a whole new trip down the idiomatic rabbit hole and I gave up. So we only call him “the merry wanderer” behind his back now. As a joke now, whenever I’m unsure of where he is before we leave anywhere, I pretend I’m Katherine O’Hara in “Home Alone” and freak / shout, “KEVIN!” like she did from her first-class seat to Paris while Kevin (McCauley Caulkin) was back home in Lake Forest going through his brother’s stuff and eating ice cream pizzas for breakfast. Anyway, true to form, he had no sunscreen on for about 2 hours and that did him in for a couple days. On our penultimate day, weary of his excuses to not be outside, I bought him a board shirt for $35 and he wore it for 90 minutes until he complained so much about where we were (the sound side of the island, now referred to affectionately as “Shit Hole Bay” for many reasons, primarily amongst them that the water is probably 90˚ and foamy). My eldest, bolstered by his own experience with sunburn and his equally fair-skinned girlfriend’s presence on the trek, was pretty good about his skincare and only got burned where his skin rubbed against the boogie board and where his shoulders would’ve taken a beating from the waves. So, pretty much everywhere.

Yes, we invited our son’s girfriend. Yes, that sounds like a big step. They are their own pod; I make no inferences. She cheerfully and naively consented to subject herself to our randomness for two 6-hour-long car rides. Her parents were also going to be away for the same period we were and I didn’t want her to be alone. She’s a really great girl: super bright, energetic, optimistic, real, game, human, female (so important for me — surrounded by nothing by males in canid or human form), patient and so kind to our youngest — like the type of kindness you read about — and she had her own room directly across from ours. She was an asset and we loved having her there.  

We also forgot things: butter, salt. The boys didn’t pack their own shampoo. I’m really glad they didn’t remove the toothbrush, tooth paste and dental floss kits from the car when they last visited the dentist, as they came in handy. 

We also brought a bunch of stuff we know to NEVER bring again. There’s a reason this area is the birthplace of modern aviation: the wind. So that means for us, people who really just want lie on the beach and maybe paddleboard to not bother there because the winds are so constant and so beautiful that you will get pushed so far away from where you started that a sail really is not just a cool-looking accessory. We also realized that it’s folly to bring any of the following beach games: 

  • Ladder toss game
  • Frisbee
  • Track ball
  • Kadima
  • Spike ball or slam ball
  • Badminton 
  • Beach ball 
  • Feathers

Things to bring next time: 

  • Kites
  • Flying suits
  • Capes
  • Anti-gravity gear
  • Jet packs
  • Vitamix (I missed my blender)

Despite their natural spartan appearance, the beaches at night were abundant with ghost crabs. I used to like them. I recall walking along other Atlantic coastlines and seeing maybe half a dozen in an hour’s time. Not here. It was like the invasion of the laterally locomotive diaphanous exoskeletal amphibious arachnids. In less than 30 minutes I avoided stepping on or freaked out from seeing about 30 of them of all varying densities and intensities. Most of them did their crab thing: run sideways from the beams of my uranium-powered flashlight saying “fuck off, landlubber!” But it was a bit much after a while. I actually started to get anxious about it and I knew then that that was not why I was on vacation. So I begged my husband of limited night vision to take me back to our home, which he did, and I plopped on the teal courduroy sofa and watched a documentary about heroin addiction. I kid you not.  

Over the days, I watched my assembly of tchotchkes grow and while I didn’t put on a hair shirt, so to speak, I remember the a plan in my head to unload my life and my psyche of things which no longer bring me pleasure and to rid myself of the things which hold me down. Things that are attached to people who’ve hurt me or who represent unresolvable times in my life. Things I bought while with those people feeling the pressure to buy them because the person selected it for me even though I didn’t really have the guts to say “no, that’s not me. That’s actually you thinking you know me,” or even worse: my buying the item because I wanted to curry the favor of the person I was with because that person liked it more than I did. It’s all very meta. So I am pleased that I bought delightful, made well and intentional things from small local shops. Am I rationalizing? Of course I like to think I’m not.     

The abundance of these shoreline mega shops, “Sunsations” and “Wings” and “Wings Super Store” and “Kitty Hawk Kites” (how many kites does one need?)  along NC-12, was disconcerting to me. It made me think of how much shit we all have and that’s because we believe the commercials, the narratives that say, “you need this” and “you’re worth it.” Some things I did need that I recently bought: the linen clothes from J.Jill (uh, vanity size much? Yes) because I am tired of burning up in the heat while trying to protect my skin (I just had my 4th basal cell carcinoma removed from my body two weeks ago) and an AMAZING SPF 50+ sun/swim shirt from prAna which I believed saved my skin while at the beach. My surgical dermatologist, a funny man, said “I’ll see you again. And be skin smart but don’t freak out: if you lived in a cave from here on out, you’d be coming back for more surgeries. This is all delayed from many years before…”  

Great. 

The austerity of the beach (house) was refreshing. It didn’t really occur to me how sparse the place was until I arrived home and opened my own door. “But this is where we LIVE,” my husband reminded me. “I like it here.” And I get that, and I love it too. But… we have too much stuff  and he agrees. We don’t need the behind-the-bike tag along trolley for toddlers anymore… unless we turn into our neighbors and have our grandchildren live with us while our child goes to medical school. True story. We also have neighbors who’ve stolen our cat. No joke.  

The conflict for me is committing the time to unload the stuff from our lives. It’s not even an issue of finding meaning in the unloading, because I know it would not be time wasted, it’s that I want to be living. So I need to reframe that. I think it’s the only way to do it. If we punt things from our lives just because they are there, it doesn’t help the process; we are just doing the opposite in reverse: we are mindlessly ridding after mindlessly acquiring. I don’t want to do that anymore. I inevitably forget I’ve done it and spend time looking for the thing I unloaded… It’s crazy making.

Sure we can make deals with ourselves here on out to live intentionally and intelligently, but that solves only half the problem. And I have: I’ve made a pact with myself that I’m only buying things that add value to my life now. It’s not that I’m going to deprive myself of things, but I want to include things: moments, people, items, music, sensations that have MEANING. I believe this is a part of not only a higher consciousness, but also of getting older (I’ll be 50 in a couple months) and also an awareness of the smarter economy: sharing, recycling and repurposing.  

Just before we left for the trip my husband and I visited the municipal dump to unload an old TV (which had basically died — we kill things here, we don’t just replace them because we don’t like them anymore), our dead wooden deck table and other wood-based things. I was both exhilarated and dumbfounded that we live here in a country where people can responsibly bring their unwanted / defunct things to be … dealt with. I’m not sure what happens to those old washing machines and door frames when they are deposited at the dump, but I do feel like we are doing something right. I don’t know. 

So it’s not just that the beach house that was not filled with too much too much, it’s that the beaches were so not-crowded by both people and crap. It was lovely to look at things and not feel overwhelmed by them. Seth Godin once wrote in a blog post: “While enough is often enough, too much becomes nothing.” I don’t want to have so much that I don’t know what I have anymore, that it becomes nothing. 

I am noticing as I write this that I have a new (latent?) “issue”: stuff and its accumulation. I believe it’s because of my mother. I’m not blaming her, but I can tell you I’d be clearer about this issue — meaning my sense of guilt over it —  if she hadn’t spent her life surrounding herself, and thus my father who is getting on, with an accumulation of so much unused stuff shit that it’s both unusable and untenable at the moment. I know I’m going to have to deal with it and I also don’t want to do this to my own kids. It’s shitty to leave your shit on your children’s hands because you don’t possess the self-control to manage it. My parents have left a significant issue unresolved and I realize right now that I’m feeling its specter, looming, because I fear I will have to deal with it and I fervently reject it.   

So the unfolded laundry had to wait today. I decided to write about my trip because I wanted to share what’s on my mind. This post has been cathartic: it has enabled me to pinpoint and unload a heavy burden of unnecessary guilt while coming to an awareness about a pretty major situation that needs to be attended to which does NOT belong on my shoulders. I want to thank you for helping me get there. I know now that I am only responsible for and responsible to the things I do.

What’s taking up space in your head? What’s a burden that you’re carrying that you don’t even know you are? What’s going on…? We can’t carry other people’s shit for them because we have our own we need to excrete. 

“Moving toward an inwardly simple life is not about deprivation or denying ourselves the things we want. It’s about getting rid of the things that no longer contribute to the fullness of our lives. It’s about creating balance between our inner and outer lives.” – Elaine St. James

Thank you. 

Midnight Messages: “Breadcrumbs” and Moving On

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I’ve started reading Panache Desai’s Discovering Your Soul Signature, which is a 33-day, thrice daily date you make with yourself. In the morning, noon and evening, you read his short essays / meditations to help you see things differently and become more open to the concept of uncovering your yucky, dark, pitchy self so you can let yourself shine.

After all my couch time with my four therapists, I thought I had this stuff down. I thought, “kindergarten-level” of the idea, but I loved that the book comes with its own ribbon to help set your place in it. I have also taken to writing in it along the margins and anywhere there’s an open space. Kindergartners doodle, so can I…

Day four, I believe, is dedicated to “Anger” and what we are supposed to do with it: feel it, notice it, acknowledge it and let it filter through us, hopefully by staving off an eruption. I would say that I’ve over the years gone from a 0% success rate with that endeavor to about 60% success lately. In those 40% moments when I do lose my cool, I lose it less intensely and for less time AND I catch myself sooner. So in the aggregate, I’d say my overall improvement is about 70%. This improvement has little to do with the book because I just started it. That’s why I snubbed the concept of the book being of any use to me.

The third essay on anger clearly caught my subsoncsious. I can’t remember what it said exactly, because I read it a week ago, but I do recall it suggesting that I think about what makes me angry and how I deal with it as I drift off to sleep. Seems counterintuitive, that thinking about crap that ticks you off is a sure-fire way to make you stay up all night, but this book’s approach was different: it didn’t impel the mental recovery of events, but rather, the sensation without judgement or rushing or shame for feeling any of it. This was a lot like the EMDR therapy I’d most recently experienced. Feel the feelings until they’re felt.

I woke that evening / morning (whatever, it’s agitating to me to say it’s “morning” when it’s dark out and we should be sleeping) with a thought of “why am i so mad?” and the word “breadcrumbs” startled me, then the concept of fairy tales and I began to write:

20140529-094916.jpg

Of course I thought my handwriting at the time was fantastically legible. I was all, “This is gonna be sooooo easy to read in the morning … it’s gonna be brilliant and make sooooo much sense … I love you man …”

It was dark, I didn’t have my glasses on, my face was practically on the notebook and I was half asleep. I think I drooled too.

“Breadcrumbs — do you really want to return to the place you were? It’s subconscious. Stop using breadcrumbs. Come out @ end — stronger — different. Maybe your person was never the person you thought they were; did you project that quality on to them? Did you “make” them special in your head — ‘Oh grandma, what big eyes you have …’

Woodsman — be your own woodsman. If someone else comes in to save the day, what have you learned?”

Then I collapsed and fell back to sleep.

I felt compelled during that experience and later when I woke up to share it with a good friend of mine for certain, and then to write about it here, later on, after she had time to do her own thing with it and after I had time to let it settle into me.

Up until today, I believed that message revolved solely my experiences with the bullying my son and then family had endured at the nod of people we trusted. I locked in on that idea that I had projected my ideals, my intention to not only live a life of authenticity but to also seek it in others, mostly in application to those people who decieved us.

That projection, as all of our subconscious yearnings and projections do, did nothing but create a false identity or false relationship in my mind. Oh for the love of Pete! How many times have I done that — ‘oh grandma what big eyes you have?’ to myself?

This projection was based only on my incredibly naïve wish and whole intention to live as graciously, honestly as fairly as I could. I don’t play games with people. It’s SOOOOooOOOOOooooo exhausting. I’ve run out of gas for it all.

Back to intention: here’s a funny thing about them: no one intention looks the same as another, even though they might use the same words.

My intention is to live independently and with authenticity; to let my children grow and support their choices even though I might not agree with them and to cull their behaviors which don’t align with progressive, honest and forward living. In order to truly live and inspire an authentic life, we must absolutely put our desires, dreams and wishes aside for the other person — including our children — to fly or falter.

The children were never “ours”:

In 1872, when I was 20 weeks pregnant with my first son, my OB put that little doppler thing on my barely swollen belly (he had very advanced tools for the 19th century) and he looked at me, with this giant grin. His eyes met mine, above the rim of his glasses. He said to me, in that wonderful African way he had (which was barely understandable at times because his accent was so thick, his “t”s so precise and clean), “Doo yoo heah dat, Mommee? Dat’s your little man. Dat’s his hawtbeet. It is deeeferrent dan youse, yes? Quick, fastah. Already, he tellin’ you: ‘I ahm mhy ohn man. I ahm inside you, buht, I am separate.’ Rememebah dat, Mommee. He already his own guy.”

Boom. Right there. Lesson # 4,353,642,126 of life: we are all distinct even though we are connected. ‘Tis folly to expect our children to fulfill our dreams and wrong to ask them to enact our schemes (enter: codependence).

So back to intentions and then back to breadcrumbs and grandma and big eyes and the woodsman, I promise.

Our intentions can be the same as another’s: success, kindness, fairness, honesty … but they will look different on paper than they do in action. Neither one is better (one might be more in alignment with the universe and less self-serving) than the other, but they seldom mean the same thing to all people. Hence, different & separate heartbeats.

So the projection I had of my ideal existence: independence, fairness, humor and progress was not at all in alignment with how things rolled out in that bullying situation; in fact, as painfully as it was to learn, none of it was at all in alignment with the truth.

That was my doing. That was my responsibility. That’s where I faltered. I did not fly. I ignored my independence.

“Oh Grandma, what big eyes you have …” This is so twisty. Little Red Riding Hood was no fool: she knew the wolf was in Grandma’s bonnet and bed. Or did she? When I was little, I liked to believe that Red knew. In Looney Toons, Red was played by Bugs Bunny, and he always knew what was up.

As I look back on the original story, Red was naïve (what we used to call “innocent”). Forgetting her mother’s orders to go straight away to Grandmother’s house, she was tricked by the wolf to spend time picking flowers in the woods while he went back to devour the grandmother. Even when Red got to the house and she sensed her unease at the home, she went in anyway (ignoring her intuition) and thus began the famous exchange, “Grandma! What big ___ you have” until when the wolf said, “The better to eat you with my dear!” just before she pounced out of bed and devoured Red.

Red and Grandmother were almost toast until a huntsman noticed that the front door was left open, and went into the house and cut open the wolf to rescue the pair. The story goes on to speak of other wolves who tried to trick Red and also get into the house, but she was savvier and they were finished off thanks to their greed and self-interest.

So speaking of toast: breadcrumbs. Yeah, I know: Hansel and Grethel.

Shit. I just reread that story. The mom: what a mean, horrible person. It was her idea to leave the kids in the woods with just a slice of bread. Dad was against it, but she won out. Yikes. I’d forgotten so much. But the kids heard the “mother” scheming for their ultimate fate.

(The fun part of re-reading these stories is that the very next paragraph, the parents are described as “old people” while Hansel snuck out to fetch white pebbles glowing in the moonlight.)

The children endured two trips into the woods, each bent on abandonment. The first one was foiled by the pebbles and the kids were back by noontime the next day. The second effort was “successful” because that bitch the mother locked Hansel in the house thus requiring him to use breadcrumbs, not pebbles, to mark the trail — BUT the breadcrumbs were eaten by birds in the deeper forest. On the third day of the second trip, a white bird found the children and led them to the edible gingerbread house owned by the duplicitous red-eyed old witch…

(No wonder I feared the elderly…)

Then the witch, sexist turd, made Grethel fetch food only for Hansel so she could fatten him up… then she tries to make Grethel check the oven but Grethel tricks the witch into showing her how to do it … and we all know how the story ends… the kids pillage the house and take its jewels back to dad, who is now curiously a widower. They all lived together “as happily as possible.” A wolf was the executor of the hotly contested estate after dad died.

They went back home. They went back where the trouble started.

What the breadcrumbs mean to me in my message is that in order to truly move on, to forge ahead in life and shed old patterns, relationships and habits which do not serve us, we have to not drop the breadcrumbs. We have to evolve into our own woodsman; we have to rescue ourselves.

The “place” (habit, relationship) we say we want to leave or change? If we drop breadcrumbs, we aren’t really ready to go/change.

Breadcrumbs can be different things to different people. For me, they can be a false sense of responsibility for a problem, which foments my old buddy chaos, which ensures I stay stuck.

So then the challenge from my higher self in my sleep was to stop using breadcrumbs. It was me calling me out, challenging me to greater growth by actively ditching bad habits from the past. No rearview mirrors. Don’t go back to the place I left…

I know this: my breadcrumbs lead to false solutions outside myself.

To wit: I can’t look externally for the solution to my problems when I might be the problem.

Marianne Williamson said it this way:

“Until we have met the monsters in ourselves, we keep trying to slay them in the outer world. And we find that we cannot. For all darkness in the world stems from darkness in the heart. And it is there that we must do our work.”
― Marianne Williamson, Everyday Grace: Having Hope, Finding Forgiveness And Making Miracles

I like to make that a capital “W” for Work.

This was a long post about something, I’m sure.

Oh yes, here it is…. the point: Leaving that which no longer serves you means no more carbs. Stop it with the breadcrumbs. If you use breadcrumbs you do mean to return to the place (person/behavior) you were; you’re just flapping your wings and kicking up dust to get attention. It’s not wrong, it’s just not true. It’s not authentic. Here’s me: it also means that when you stop using breadcrumbs you can save your own day, and then: you will then become your own woodsman.

And that witches are nasty, foul creatures. That was point number two.

Thank you.

30 Days of Brené Brown — Day 5: #relationships #energy #strength #community #blame

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Welcome to Day 5. Here’s today’s quote:

I define ‘connection’ as the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard, and valued; when they can give and receive without judgment; and when they derive sustenance and strength from the relationship.”
― Brené Brown

I’m changing things up now to allow for the quote to show up in the clip if you’re getting this on email. This is Day 5 of my “30 Days of Brené Brown” series in which I take the top 30 quotes as ranked by Goodreads. Brené Brown is a research professor at the University of Houston, author of several books on emotional health and authenticity and all-around boss when it comes to shame and vulnerability research. But more importantly, she is my “if you could have dinner / evening out with anyone you don’t know who would it be…” -person. Go here to learn more about her. In each post I will try to limit myself to 1,200 words.

This quote is rudimentary to me, but that might be because I’ve been Working on creating connections with people and looking at any patterns of whom I’ve let into my life, and why, and how it all turns out (which depends on the people) and what I learn (lots) and how I behave (which is not always good) and what I can do to make it better (go with my intuition).

A friend was visiting her parents, who live in the metro area, from across the glaxy for the holiday. This friend is interested in connections, the way Brené states it and she works hard to be present.

She told me about a social experience she’d just had a couple days prior and she wanted to fix it. I told her, “just ask for a do-over; y’know, a Mulligan like in golf.” She looked at me quizzically, as if she didn’t believe it were possible.

I canted my head in return and told her there are numerous opportunities for do overs. We just have to be willing, aware and sensitive to be ready to see and feel if/when we’re out of sync with the greater energy flowing around us:  ashen faces, slacked jaws, grasped chests, for example, and THEN be willing to shed our egos and ask for the opportunity, tactfully, to start over again.

I offered examples:

Here’s tactfully?: “Um, I blew it. When you ordered ‘macaroni and cheese,’ I went in my head to my grandmother’s recipe and thought about whether you’d like it and how it would taste at our first married Thanksgiving and if your mother would approve. Would I overdo it on the nutmeg? It is because I have three eyes and on my planet that’s OK? I determined your mom would not like me  at all and gave the mac and cheese to the dog, who was ailing to begin with (but she hated him) and then he died when he ate it … and everyone blamed me and … uh… can you just forget I said any of this?”

Here’s tactlessly: “YOU! You never liked anything I did! I can’t help it if your dog ate my mac and cheese and died! Don’t blame me! It was your mother! You are always pitting me against her! I can’t be Doris Day on Xenatha from the Klaygon galaxy’s hormones all the time like she can! I don’t ever … Good GRAVY! What?! What…? What does it take to get a second date with you??!?”

Or, you could just say, “Hi, My name is Bipsy. I’m a Rixathan-32 princess and I love walks in the mountains. I have a pet julyinga. Can I have a do over? I’m a little nervous tonight; it’s my first time on earth.”

It all depends on how willing we are to seeing that other person and getting out of our own way.

My friend made the error, before speaking with me of course, of asking someone else’s opinion. This someone else is going through an extremely rough patch herself, so all she processes is through that filter at the moment. The advice from the friend was,

“You idiot. Now you’ll never see him again.”

There were no connections going on there, in any of it. None of what Brené would call the energy that exists between people when they feel seen and heard. Perhaps my friend didn’t take her friend’s situation into account when she asked her opinion… who knows?

I’ve had that happen in my own life, that feeling of invisibility, we all have.

Recently, with my mom’s death, loved ones have had trouble getting out of their own way (trying to fix my pain) to just coexist with me. I’m not looking for anyone to take away my pain, and I’m not looking for anyone to touch me and tell me it’s OK — what I’m looking for (and I feel like I have to wear a sandwich board that announces it because people are –understandably– in their own heads) is: someone to say, “sit here with me and just be. cry if you want. laugh if you want. talk to yourself, but know i’m listening.”

I guess that’s God because I don’t know of anyone, who can totally detach and unplug 100% of themselves enough to hear and not fight the urge to fix my ‘stuff’ without making a subconscious comparison to their own … or maybe there is, but I’m just not programmed for it. (Living with narcissists will do that to you.) I’ve had a couple people offer though.

So it takes a big part of me — a lot of trust in me — to even allow that facet of connection with others.

20131204-114825.jpg

look in the mirror’s mirror’s mirror.

Yikes. Look who’s the jerk now. Moi. I hate it when I come to the conclusion of my own flaws (fear of judgement) are the reason I’m the way I am when I write about it publicly. But this is what happens when we allow ourselves some openness and vulnerability.

The other instance with my friend was the same night of the “do over” discussion. From the moment her plane landed here, she’d had a situation which required some of her attention at her home, some 100 light years away, so she did what she could via cross-time/space continuum communicator.

When she was visiting with me, we took off and left our phones out of pocket. She felt she’d tied everything off at her home (the far away one). Despite this, her parents were seeking her, rabidly: four phone calls and three voice mails (in one hour) on MY phone looking for her; her mother even said, “We don’t know your address, Molly,” which sent chills down my spine that these aliens would come to my house from their planet to undress their daughter (just wait… you’ll hear about it).

When we returned, she played the first voicemail. The very first words out of the speaker, maybe it was on speaker; who know, it was loud, from a 65-year-old Fractorn queen to her 42-year-old princess were, “We are very disappointed in you, Hilda*….” she turned off the phone then and I picked up my lower jaw and that of my husband’s off the floor.

All three of her eyes welled up, and almost as quickly, she gained her resolve and said, “No. This is them, not me.” Her voice was trembling and her chins set: there would be no attention paid to the people who were so very disappointed in her … in clearly so many more ways than they were able to articulate in that singular phone message.

Her parents, or her mother at least, was so attached to her and projected any self-loathing on to her daughter based on her own lifelong discomfort and the situation (which was important, but not worthy of her mother’s emotional investment) with the people 100 light years away.

Hearing that message cut right through me. There was no connection from that mother toward her daughter. Not one ounce of compassion, allowance, detachment, independence or of truly seeing her. I looked at my friend and said nothing, I just let her be. Our eyes met (well, my two eyes did the best they could with her three eyes); we held them there a bit. I think we connected. It might not have been what she needed, but I was plugged in.

Did she gain anything from that moment from me? Doesn’t matter. Did I help? Doesn’t matter. I know I didn’t hurt it any. What mattered in that moment is that She mattered. That was ‘relationship.’

What also mattered is that I did my best, as we both did, to hear her mother without judgement, but Wooooh bouy that was hard. We’d just returned from some moments of revelry, a flight around Vega, nice chats and friendship. Without saying a word though, we were both determined to not let that voicemail message and its invective shatter the interstellar peace and connection we’d made. Instead, we knew the source of the message and its intention were not mutual. I think because we were both in a place where we were feeling whole, that we were able to extend that non-judgment to her mother.

That’s the trick: we need to be in that place before we dare take on anyone else. We need to be whole ourselves, be ready to be vulnerable and be ready to be real to truly accept someone else’s shit as theirs, not ours. I don’t believe   that Wholeness is a lifetime’s work away, it’s just a few minutes of doing our best In The Moment to connect and not judge or compare.

Thank you.

*not her real name; her foes on Rixathan-32 would never let her hear the end of it if they knew this story was about her.

Don’t Go There… Really…

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I thought I was over this. I thought I could stop writing about this, but I can’t.

There was a brilliant Op-Ed in the NY Times about the confusion these days surrounding the link to autism and other spectrum disorders as being contributing factors to the slayings in Newtown, Connecticut, not even a week ago.

Please read it. Here is the link: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/18/opinion/dont-blame-autism-for-newtown.html?_r=0

Please digest it. Here is the link: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/18/opinion/dont-blame-autism-for-newtown.html?_r=0

Please share it. Here is the link: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/18/opinion/dont-blame-autism-for-newtown.html?_r=0

I have introverts in my extended family – I’m sure you do too. Are these people evil? I have a family member with autism. I have two sons who are introverts and all three of these boys are some of the most sensitive, kind, insightful and smart people I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting. I know lots of quiet kids. Are we really going there? Autism? Have you seen the movie “Temple Grandin“?

The Week magazine ran this article about Asperger’s syndrome and how it affects people who have it.

The thought that these children could ever be linked into the kind of rabid and senseless thinking that engenders fear, hate, confusion, misunderstanding and prejudice – based on the conjecture and armchair (swear alert) bullshit coming out of the media and any psychologist or its ilk to garner attention in the wake of these terrible, terrible shootings is indicative of our own inner need to blame something, anything – anything at all – to separate ourselves and our loved ones from the atrocities committed not even one week ago.

Think about yourself. Think about your own fears, and your own rages and your own capacity for violence. I’m not quiet; I can be. Does it mean I’m plotting evil when I’m quiet? No. Does it mean I’m awesome and super cool totally dependable when I’m not quiet? Uhhh… no.

To all the people who will now and forever look askance at the quiet or mindful people: open your minds.

To all the people who view sadness or moodiness or outbursts as the flawless, pinpoint, and laser-guided accurate harbinger of mass violence: open your hearts.

If you’ve never had a moment ever in your life when you’ve been Just So Mad You Could Break Something, nor can you relate to someone who has, please leave this blog and never come back.

If you’ve never felt (or have suppressed or denied ever feeling) betrayed, ashamed, alone, misunderstood, confused or self-destructive as though you wish the world never existed: go away; you’re too cool for me.

If you’ve never had a day, where nothing seems to go right and you just want to start all over or wipe it off your data banks, again: please leave this blog and never come back; you clearly have all the answers.

I have no time to try to reach you or to get you to understand how awful some people feel sometimes. How utterly alone some people feel, how completely disposable some people feel. How your neighbor might want to hurt herself; or drink too much; or cut himself. Or you: if you tie one on or pop a couple pills to get over your pain or forget about your sadness yet you deny it. Please, go away and please don’t come back. Really: go. I don’t need you to read my stuff or to “get” where I’m coming from. You’re in your place where everything is … of your own concoction; your own cocktail of bliss and denial.

For all our supposed connectivity in this world, we are vastly isolated in our iPods, iPhones, iPads, iLives – I have esteem for Steve Jobs, I think what he’s brought to the world is great but what he brought to the world is only revolutionary because he told us it was. But iRonically, what these devices also engendered to an iNcreasingly diSconnected world is iSolation, iNdifference, iNdependence, iNadequacy. From these protective iMembranes, our little worlds, we get to separate, point fingers and do anything but relate. We get to blame.

Now is not the time – no, you know what? Never is it the time to blame other people while forgetting that you too possess sadness, feelings of isolation, feelings of despair, feelings of woe.

I pray for Adam Lanza and people like him. I’ve seen people and I’ve known people who are mentally unhealthy. I’ve thought, “Wow, s/he’s really screwed up, this must be really hard for her,” but I’ve never thought that because of this: that his impotence, or being left-handed, autistic, a loner, a genius, on the spectrum, illiterate, right-handed, connected, disconnected, a hard-rock music lover, an introvert, a blues lover, a scientist, an idiot, mentally disabled, mentally abled, bald, tall, skinny, short, fat, white, black, green, purple — makes him or her a killer in development.

Because guess what? At times, I am sad, I am disconnected, I am skewed, I am lost. I do go inside my head. I do wish some things didn’t hurt so damned much. I want to give up, not hurt myself or others, but you know: just walk away. Throw up my arms. Screw the cat boxes, forget the stupid project.

I have those super deep and sad feelings. But I attend to them; I have the tools to attend to them, overcome them. I have experience from years, people, years of therapy to overcome those thoughts of isolation and sadness.

But for people who possess those dark feelings and they go unattended, they grow. I have read blog entries by people whose children and their capacity for rage and violence frighten them. They are terrifying. I hear this: she was a gun fanatic, so naturally, this was Mrs. Lanza’s fault for having guns in the house with a kid who is having problems. Blame?! Are we really going there?? She’s dead and so is he. So uh… STOP the blaming. It’s just another tool to wedge (it’s called “comparing out”) between ourselves and the reality that people everywhere are hurting.

I don’t think we will ever ever ever be in a place where we can assign blame. Those days are over. Blame is in the past. Blame is last week and it solves nothing. And this matter is not ours. Comparing out and preaching our suppositions that the mentally ill need to be “locked up” and the autistic need to be watched and suspected and “put away” and “taken out of our society” robs the honor and memory of those beautiful people who died and were called home. It makes it about “us” and “our needs” and “our” fears. Well, if you’re afraid: ADMIT it and talk to someone, anyone. I’m sure you’re not alone.

You know who’s allowed to be afraid right now? Children are allowed to be afraid right now; students and teachers are allowed to be afraid right now: we must tend to them. You know who’s not really allowed to feel afraid right now? Me. I am concerned, I am anxious but I have to get out of my own head. So we must be leaders: we must listen to those who are worried and scared and concerned and do our best to help them stay in the moment, see that nothing is happening to them right now. Build on that. Give them hope. Give them the confidence to Be OK With What Is.

We can not stop these events – there was no way anyone could ever predict this type of thing in classrooms at Virginia Tech, at the high school in Columbine, at the movie theater in Aurora, at the mall in Portland, at the temple in Wisconsin – we say these things are unimaginable. They are not unimaginable to those who commit them. They are all too real. Those people need our help: these things don’t happen until they happen. These people are those killers until they kill.

compassion |kəmˈpaSHən|

noun

sympathetic pity and concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of others: the victims should be treated with compassion.

There are signs: we must be willing to be compassionate enough to reach out and help them. You know who would tell us what to do? Those first graders: they’d tell us to get up and make a friend. Talk to the kid who’s all alone at the lunch table. Offer your hand in friendship. Sadly, the most honest people, the most fearless people — the ones who know everything that we can be doing to make this world a better place: the little kids, are the ones we sometimes listen to the least. Because we’re grown-ups, because we have all the answers, because we’ve got experience. Because we are afraid of being vulnerable.

Another great piece in that liberal rag is this one: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/18/nyregion/25-lessons-about-first-graders.html

What we need to do is look inward and find compassion; look inward and dissolve our fear of vulnerability.  Take that step, be that strong. It takes guts to show our hearts. The mental health care system in our country needs changing. This is obvious. That it took those little kids to be the emblem for new and intelligent legislation and change makes me deeply sad. That all the other events weren’t enough to get people out of their seats and demand change and that those little kids and their teachers had to die is the proverbial grand piano crashing on to the sidewalk outside the apartment building.

The thought that “introverts” and “loners” are being categorized for this type of stuff makes my head dizzy:

Larry Page, Rosa Parks, Marcel Proust, Eleanor Roosevelt, J.K. Rowling, Charles Schulz, Steven Spielberg, Steve Wozniak, W.B. Yeats, Warren Buffett, Dale Carnegie, Frédéric Chopin, Charles Darwin, Albert Einstein, Mahatma Gandhi, Al Gore, Sir Isaac Newton, and George Orwell were not murderers. If Ludwig Von Beethoven were around today, he’d be locked up and drugged. What about Helen Keller? She’d be the same. We need to open our eyes and our hearts. One reported “statistic” based on wild and baseless conjecture does not a murderer make. Jesus, people. Wake up. I am  so sad for those people with spectrum disorders and their caregivers. It’s so wrong. What’s next? Should we tattoo them like the nazis did with the Jews? I know I’m being rhetorical and extreme, but my heart is sad.

The change begins with us. The change is there: for us to reach out, ask how people are doing, help them with their bags in from the store. How hard can it be to reach out? Pretty hard apparently. If you need help: ask for it. If you know someone who needs help, give what you can.

I hope I have gotten this out of my system for now. Newtown has forever changed me. Instead of making me afraid, I am more convicted than ever to live and be kind. Please go here and sign this petition: http://www.wearebetterthanthis.org/index.cfm

Thank you.