Tag Archives: truth

Blue Monday: The Day After Mother’s Day

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I bet the boy who asked me to prom 30 years ago is glad the post I wrote about that experience is being replaced…

Yesterday was Mother’s Day. I have long disliked Mother’s Day. Not only because my relationship with my own mother was complicated (show me a mother – daughter relationship that’s as smooth as silk and I’ll show you two medicated people), but also because well, it’s stupid. My own mother also disliked Mother’s Day, especially going to the Catholic Mass on Mother’s Day because she heard the mewing of the priest on the altar talking about his own sainted mother. Let me tell you… nothing like a supposedly chaste and godly grown man spewing unrealistic honoraria about his own mother to make you vomit in your mouth a little.

The very concept that everyone has to cool their narcissistic jets to be nice to their mothers (who may or may not deserve the homage, quite frankly) for one of 365 days of the year is jacked.

Who is Mother’s Day really for? Is it for the kids… to feel like they did it? They spent a few hours on one day thinking and being nice to Mom? Is it for the mother? Surely that can’t be it. If this poll is correct, most moms just want to be left the heck alone.

I won’t bother with the notion that it’s all about Hallmark and Our Lady of the Shopping Mall, because it’s no notion, it’s a verified fact. Last year, people spent $2.3 billion (B) on flowers last year. Flowers die. Just sayin’…

I can’t wait for the Home Depot ads to start up for Father’s Day… Actually, I can wait.

What matters to me most of all, and is the best barometer of an authentic Mother’s Day homage is the condition of the kitchen after Mother’s Day ends. 

I will not share photos I took.

My father suggested I not write this post. He started out our chat today friendly enough, asking me about my Mother’s Day. “It was fine; I just spent about two hours cleaning the kitchen from it…” and he HOWLED with laughter. Thanks. Then he started to tell me about how my mom didn’t care for the “holiday” either.

He suggested I not write about my kitchen because well, that would tarnish the good feelings that came from celebrating Mother’s Day.

Yeah. I’d hate to tarnish that good feeling of my family lovin’ on me all day yesterday with cleaning a sink, scrubbing the counter tops, hand-washing the expensive kitchen knives, loading the dishwasher, wiping down and shoving the kitchen table back to where it belongs, putting the fondue pots back in the boxes and bringing those boxes back to the basement where they live, but only after the forks are cleaned from the dishwasher.

The years of my kids bringing home handmade trinkets and tissue paper flower bouquets from school are over and I’m a little sad about that. My oldest son tweeted me last night, around 11pm telling me Happy Mother’s Day and that he loves me.

 

Maturing Mother

Because our kids are children for a finite period of time, the work of Mother’s Day largely rests on the shoulders of adults in the picture. It will be interesting to see if and how my kids choose to celebrate Mother’s Day with me as we all age.

I have a neighbor who has one child. A son. He used to spend all day Mother’s Day with her, but now he has kids of his own, so I’m guessing he’s busy being armchair QB for his kids to remember their mom. To make up for being absent on Sunday, he visits with his mother all day Saturday and I think that’s pretty cool.

I’m not writing this to shame anyone. I’m writing it to do all I can to preempt an error next year and to keep resentments in check manage expectations. If you really mean to honor your mother, clean up. Do it without asking. Do it because it’s the right thing to do. Even if you do it semi-completely, all is forgiven because you tried.

Little kids who are cogent about holidays love Mother’s Day because they get to participate in it even though they have no clue about how much we do behind the scenes for them.

Usually my kids serve me breakfast in bed; I get a few flowers from our garden and it’s a sweet and cozy experience. They sit on the bed and talk to me and we have a nice time. This year, I didn’t get that treatment because I attended a brunch hosted by my mother-in-law.  Upon my departure to the brunch, my middle son hugged me awhile and said, “Thanks for putting up with me for the last 15 years” which was really nice to hear because he’s a tempest in a teapot at times. When I told my older son, who dashed down the steps and out the door to bid me farewell in his bathrobe, what his younger brother said and asked him if he’d like to say anything to me he said, “Hello” which is pretty appropriate because this kid so far has been a freaking dream to raise. My youngest didn’t make the dash to the driveway.

So this year, instead of my kids bringing me breakfast (and they would do their best to clean-up after themselves before I would come downstairs), my husband quietly honored my mothering of his children with a cup of coffee and a biscuit and strawberries. It was really sweet.

Don’t Steal My Thunder

The narcissism of people / groups who think they should get in on Mother’s Day action really chaps my hide. Political correctness and fear of marginalizing during these benign holidays have butchered the intention to the point of being unrecognizable. My simple day of recognition has been hijacked, co-opted and morphed into a feeling of isolation for people who DON’T directly celebrate Mother’s Day but are somehow involved in a kids’ life.

This day is mine. Get your own.

Mother’s Day is for mothers. Adopted mothers also count. Plain and simple.

Don’t make my SINGULAR holiday about your sense of disenfranchisement, and don’t try to get in on my action. Single dads don’t count. Aunties whose siblings are still raising their own children don’t count. If your great aunt or grandmother raised you, she gets massive props and you better dish them out. The thing is: let the kids decide who gets the flowers. That’s when it’s real.

Human pet owners who fancy themselves “mothers” don’t get a nod here, either. You didn’t squeeze out that cat or fill out adoption papers with a judge in an official legal court to take in that animal. If you truly identify yourself as the mother of a dog or other animal, you need help. You’re not educating that animal, you’re not walking it to school or folding its laundry or wondering if your animal will meet the wrong crowd and start taking drugs. You’re not teaching it how to ride a bike or to clean its room or helping it select classes for the following academic year. You’re not driving that animal to soccer practice or voice lessons. You’re not sweating paying for college for that animal. Oh God… maybe you ARE…

So… let’s get that shit straight. Pets aren’t children.

I’m sure what I’m saying chaps someone else’s hide. Welcome to the 21st Century. That someone who owns a fish wants in on my day chaps my hide.

The way I see it: if you have a uterus that either successfully birthed a baby, or tried to host one but couldn’t and you are raising the human product of someone else’s uterus, you’re mothering.

I know what mothering is. I’m acutely aware. A successful Mother’s Day –to me– will give me a pause from that acute awareness. And let’s get real… that needs to extend into the following Monday too.

So uh, peeps, let’s get this right for next year. Don’t make your mother clean up after your homage to her, because that’s no different from the other days of the year, when she is absolutely mothering you, and mostly without complaint.

Thank you.

 

 

Missives from the Mat 15 — Seeing Things for How they Really Are #teaching #yoga

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It has been a very long time since I last wrote a blog post. Personally, lots of things have been going on; primarily, bronchitis and a sinus infection for me, a mild concussion for my middle son, college visits for the older son, Hallowe’en (which is truly a Holy Day around here), lots of glorious rowing, and helping to run the registration desk for a large regatta. Oh! And I had a basal cell carcinoma removed, but I’m good. (I’ll write about that later, it’s pretty funny. Well now it is…)

The most notable executive news for me is that I have decided to stop teaching my evening adult yoga class. This wasn’t an easy decision to make. When I took over the class from a well-known instructor and teacher trainer, I remember her sigh-saying as she handed over the metaphorical keys, “I always thought that this class would blossom with someone in the community running it…”

Looking back through my jaded lenses, that should’ve been a sign to me… I have been reluctant to admit the truth about the reality of the yoga potential here.

You can’t get much more “in the community” than me as I live less than a mile from the facility. The logistics remained the same. Even payments carried over. For students, it was easy-peasy.

That said, changes were a’coming and people don’t always adjust to change.

The first change was that people were about to get a new yoga teacher. GULP.

The second change is that I was about to shake up the payment scheme. People do like their money. They also like to do whatever the hell they want with it.

The third change was actually a constant: I can’t change who I am… But people said they liked my style, they loved my classes, they wish they could keep taking them…

In retrospect, at first, I tried to be all things to all people: I tried to be that departing instructor. Then I also tried to be the original instructor who started the class. So that’s two separate people besides me — the funny thing is: I never attended either one of those teachers’ classes, so who knows what I was trying to replicate.

The first two instructors ran the classes on what I like to call a “peace love happiness” hippy punch-card scenario. That’s not at all my style. I treat yoga more as a studio business would: you buy a set of classes in a “session” (a finite period, say 10 weeks, so you attend the commensurate amount of classes remaining during that session and classes could carry over only per request).

Upon taking the helm, I decided that I would honor for two more months whatever “balance” remained on the punch-cards, as several of these cards had been in circulation for TWO YEARS and were unused.

In fact, several of the people on the original email list never contacted the second instructor, they never attended her classes for the one-year period when she took it over. It was only when they heard from me, that “use it or lose it” was in effect, that they attended classes.

In a punch-card world, someone has to keep track, someone has to “X out” a class on that card. At a studio, a receptionist can do that. I don’t have a receptionist. I don’t babysit adults, nor do I “X out” anything. We are in our 40s and beyond, people. If you’re going to make your yoga teacher hold you accountable, you’ve got problems.

Before starting the classes, I consulted with my brother. He’s an MBA with a big job and he and wears fancy shoes. He gave me his advice and told me why he likes to pay for his fitness instructors and how he “gets it” that this isn’t about “nice feelings” but rather, it’s a transaction of values. “Don’t let people confuse you either, this is a business transaction. Yes, yoga is all about energy and feeling good, and being good, and all that shit; but it’s also a transaction. It’s about money.” He told me (along with my own yoga teacher) to change the payment program to “buying a group of classes in a ‘session'” instead of a “punch-card” because a punch-card doesn’t impart a commitment to the self and to the practice, and that self-improvement, as we all know, only works when you work it.

“If you don’t show up, or you don’t do the work, how can you expect any changes?” he reminded me. “I could go get McDonald’s or a Slurpee instead of coming to your class. I don’t value you if I don’t show up. I also don’t value myself, but that’s totally different, and not your problem. Your problem is waiting on people to follow through: to take you up on the service you are trained to provide them. Your service won’t be like anyone else’s, that’s what they’re buying. They’re buying YOU for 90 minutes. Not with a punch-card, but for that time only.”

He could sense that I had a problem asking people to pay me for a service that I felt they could just as readily perform on their own.

“But they can’t, can they? They can’t see their own misaligned knee or that their shoulders aren’t stacked, can they, unless they’re looking for them… but even then, if they’re looking, they’re not ‘doing yoga‘; they’re concerned with their appearance… They can’t see how the pose is performed, or hear you talk about what to feel or engage what muscles where or to loosen their jaws, can they?”

“No.”

“That is reason enough to pay you. Shit, no one but a trained and observant teacher who is doing the work with them, and who can talk about where things are working, as they do the work with them, can tell them that stuff.”

So he was right. Over the last 21 months, the count of participants ebbed and flowed. My most successful quarter was about a year ago: I had about seven registered session students, and several drop-ins. I bought myself a pair of boots last year. I didn’t ever make a killing. I could use the money to pay for gas for a long road trip and maybe a nice dinner out for my family, but that was it.

Then the numbers started to really drop last spring.

Lives change: elderly parents get sick, job requirements shift, people move, bodies ache, people lose their jobs or their motivation… My purpose on this planet is not to judge anyone’s decision to do anything, but to rather look at where I was feeling satisfied and if I was being “of service” to people; if I was actually helping people instead of sitting there picking my navel and feeling sorry for myself because no one showed up anymore.

The numbers continued to drop. I had three registered students, and only one regularly showed up. More logistical challenges for the other members, wrenches thrown in the engine.

It became a real drag.

I have a giant IKEA bag holding 12 yoga blocks; 6″x 2′ strips of my old yoga mat for extra knee / spine / elbow support; and 12 static double-D ring straps to hold poses or to stretch more effectively. I played amazing music (Todd Norian, “BIJA,” get it) too. I spoke softly and humorously about what was working in the poses. I offered modifications to challenge or support the body. I sprayed lavender oil mist in the room. I recited a guided breathing exercise during savasana for anyone who was interested. I infused a brief yoga nidra during every meditation. I had created, in my estimation, the very class I always wanted to attend. It wasn’t perfect: I was nervous teaching inversions, but I tried every so often and most people didn’t really care for them. I was not teaching to change people, or to get them to do something they’re not comfortable with. My goal always, has been simple: to help people feel good and let go.

But the numbers continued to drop. One day, I was quite certain no one would show, so I texted the people that hadn’t let me know and one did come to class! I was thrilled to see her! In fact, I even had a drop-in that night! Two people in the room with me! It was really nice! But I knew it would be short lived, so I decided that night I was throwing in the mat.

If it weren’t for one seriously dedicated person, and she knows who she is, I would’ve given up a long time ago. She asked me one night, “Is it discouraging when no one else comes?” I was so touched and surprised and defensive of the question. I answered sort of automatically, “No, it’s nice you’re here; I enjoy being here with you…” But I do wonder about it all… I said to myself.

The concept of “walking out on this class” never occurred to me. Nor had the idea that I had a choice. Growing up in the world I did, with the mother I had and the father I had, I couldn’t leave my post, or my mother would falter. She could die. I couldn’t stop my sentry work, or things would fall apart. My father was relying upon me to keep watch, to let him know how things were going, to let him know if Mom was sick or where she was, or what she was doing or who she was with. I had to stay. I had to keep my post. The same thing happened with the yoga, I guess. Even as I type this right now, I realize that I’d taken the position of yoga instructor to heart. There’s nothing I don’t do that isn’t done 100% and I think people have come to expect that from me. I have come to expect that from me. That’s fine, because I’ll always try to deliver. But my duty was to the yoga mat, and to hold the door open, so to speak, to the space where we practiced. To always be ready for people to come in. And to wait, even alone, in the dark, in that big room for people to come because that meant they would be safe. That meant they would be well. That meant they were taking care of themselves. I could relax when people were doing yoga, because they were secure. I knew where they were.

I’d never been given permission to retire. Failure was not an option, nor was deciding that the seas were too strong and that the prevailing winds were simply trying to teach me something: to lie down, to batten down, to steer my craft to calmer seas… to stop waiting for adults to show up at night. (Woah, that use of “adults” just now, just typed itself.)

It’s hard to admit. If it weren’t for the health club where I was recently hired, and if it weren’t for the growth in those attendances and the news from the health club management that I “have quite a following” for my yoga classes, I would be crushed.

They say ego is not supposed to be part of a yoga teacher’s energy, but if it weren’t for a healthy ego, I would keep trying to make this work despite the obvious signs it wasn’t working. It’s November, chilly, and once daylight savings time ends, people go into hibernation mode. They do NOT want to leave their homes, no matter how glorious the yoga. I get that. But still… it’s hard on the ego. However, empathy must prevail: it’s cold and dark out, who wants to leave home?

What also must prevail is the absolute truth that anyone’s decision to not come to yoga classes that they’ve already paid for has NOTHING to do with me. I really have to get my head out of my ass.

I have had some really interesting students, too, in this evening class. These are amazing people with some pretty spectacular disorders and physical challenges; I’m grateful for the opportunity to teach these people because they taught me as well: that no matter how strong a teacher I want to be, there are SOME THINGS I will never match. (That sounds a little too familiar to my story growing up, doesn’t it?)

In the very beginning, I had a student who became very attached to me. She was sweet and sparkly-eyed. But I have limitations and I’ve done a shit ton of couch time to not only allow for the existence of the flags, but to see them and turn heel and run.

I can’t handle that, when people become attached to me. There are only four people and two dogs I will be OK with attaching to me: my kids, my husband and Charlie and Murphy. This is not to say I’m not a reliable person. I absolutely am reliable. Just don’t expect me to be your everything; I’m barely my own anything.

This one student somehow identified with me. Maybe it was my kindness, or my optimistic attitude toward her situation, and my utter newness toward her and her idiosyncrasies. I was sincerely proud of her accomplishments despite a major disability. But, like they all do, these empty souls whose mommies didn’t love them enough (raises hand sheepishly), she attached to me. She idolized me, for something, and inevitably, I disappointed her. I treated her like I treated everyone else, despite her identification of me. She thought she was someone special to me, because I was someone special to her.

My job as a yoga teacher is to teach yoga, not cleanse your soul. I teach yoga, not emulate Jesus. I teach yoga, not act as your therapist. I teach yoga, not solve your problems. I teach yoga, not be your mother. I teach yoga, not set you apart. I teach yoga, I teach yoga, I teach yoga. I ask for payment. I expect you to show up. I teach yoga. That is all. If I am lucky, we will become friends, but we are equals. I am not superhuman, but I am very sensitive to energies, so the moment I feel people set me apart and think of me as special, I start to feel sick, as though I am picking up their self-loathing; it’s a very tenuous sensation: it feels like you don’t know if you’re coming or going: “are these my shoes?” After many years, I know when I start to do that to other people, make them my saviors. So I take a deep breath and I re-center myself. Don’t make anyone else your idol; it’s a lot to live up to. 

I liked to get to the space early, to loosen up myself and to prepare to teach, go over notes, play with a transition or a flow, or select a reading for the class. It was as though she could see the parking lot from her house because as soon as I pulled up, she would be walking up or waiting on the steps for me. She would text me in the morning, “Hey Doll! Have a great day!” on days we didn’t have class. I said inside to myself, for her benefit, please don’t do this to me, don’t do this to yourself.

On the one day she wasn’t waiting for me or preternaturally aware of my arrival, she stormed into the room. She started barking out her day. This was fairly common, but I could usually get her to simmer down, to let it go… but she was having none of that. I spoke to her gently and privately before others arrived about her disposition; suggesting that maybe she should take her dog for a strenuous walk instead of yoga, that I’d credit her for the class. She said the others knew her better and longer than I did. She wanted to pass out her business cards to the people in the class. She wanted to cross all sorts of boundaries. I said no. Absolutely not. “People come to yoga class to practice yoga, to get away from their day and their lives off the mat,” I explained to her. Do the business card thing later. Not before.

People started coming in. She was erratic. Like a loose puppy. I sat and waited, made small talk with students. I took up my chimes and started to sit up straight. People started to center on their mats. She fidgeted.

As I did during every pranayama (the seated opening breath and meditation sequence), I invited the group to give themselves “the gift of keeping the day outside and preserve this space, for the yoga, inside,” and I rang the chimes three times with our conscious inhales.

As usual during pranayama, my eyes were closed, so I don’t know if she glared at me, but I did open them after hearing her huff and snarl, to witness her get up, gather her things as noisily as she could, and let the door slam behind her.

Awwwwwkwwwwaaaarrrrd.

I spent a little longer in pranayama, for entirely selfish reasons, and we did some sort of conscious breathing exercise, likely alternate nostril breathing. I can’t recall the exact one, but we did it for another five minutes.

She never came back to my classes.

I fell from grace.

I became the “anti-her” person. Another bad guy. Another reason, as she told me in a text, during that class, for her to not leave her house.

Don’t give me that power. I certainly don’t deserve it, nor do I know what to do with it, I texted back to her the next day, followed by telling her I was glad she got home ok.

After several very quiet months, despite telling me to never contact her again (and I hadn’t to begin with), she sent me an email. A blog post from MindBodyGreen about how to be a good yoga teacher, “I thought you would find this helpful,” she wrote as an intro. It was about the importance of teachers keeping their egos in check; to not show off or show up the students with displays of magnanimous self-control or pious self-awareness. To not demonstrate crane, or bird of paradise, or dancer poses because it was too upsetting to those students who felt unable to perform them.

Ask any of my students if I’ve ever demonstrated crane or dancer without a request to do so; you will hear crickets. I purposely keep my classes mellow, meditative, mostly on the ground, and introspective because I know that no one is coming to me to look like the cover of Yoga Journal. I never expected this woman to exceed the massive limitations of her disability, but I never made her limitations the focus of the lessons. As an “all levels” teacher, you must teach to the highest ability, so that’s what I taught. No one was in those classes to levitate or balance on one toe, the classes were well-designed and challenging.

After Little Miss Backhanded-Awareness sent me that blog post about keeping the ego in check, I ceased all communication with her, and told her to give me distance as she demanded of me: “I’m not your Virgin Mary, your Jesus, your Buddha, your Saint. I’m a flawed, suburban mother of three who is working her ass off to conquer her own demons, so save your blame and finger pointing for your mirror.” >booya.<

But here we are again. Admitting the truth: the number of people coming to my evening classes has fallen. I can’t beat out the four health clubs in the 3-mile radius with their fee-inclusive classes; nor can I beat out the churches with their “Christian yoga” (ha! it is ABSOLUTELY to LAUGH!) versus my “satanic yoga,” I guess. So I am not going to try. I am finished being Sisyphus. I am letting the rock roll.

  
I’ve decided to go back to my teaching roots and teach children’s yoga. The classes are shorter, the students are shorter too. The kids are game, sometimes too game, but that’s what being a kid is all about. For me, teaching yoga to them is a game, and we play games. Kids are super honest and they are also really into noticing how things affect their bodies. At least in the way I teach it, they get that yoga is about everyone, not just one of us.

In my next post, I’m going to write about what it’s like to teach yoga to kids, and how we as parents can know if our kids are truly ready for the mat instead of us just wishing they were…

Thank you and namaste.

Rachel Dolezal, Winnie-the-Pooh, Brian Williams #Liars #Integrity #Deception #Duplicity #Truth

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O, what a tangled web we weave when first we practise to deceive!

Walter Scott

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When I was a very young mother, I read often to my first son, Thing 1, who is almost a senior in high school now. I still call him Thing 1 here on my blog because should colleges go looking for him online, they won’t find him by name here. Just by admitting that, am I practicing the art of deception? I suppose so, but I’m trying to let him establish his own cyber DNA and tell his own stories, so that’s that. “Deception” only comes into play when we are intending to get away with something. Seeing as how my son is not a horrible person, and has honestly worked hard academically, I’m just trying to let him have his own life.

I digress.

I used to read to him from a collection of Winnie-the-Pooh books. The first story “In Which We Are Introduced to Winnie-the-Pooh and Some Bees, and the Stories Begin” actually covers deception, so we know what kind of characters Winnie and Christopher are.

In that story, Pooh hears bees while on a walk. Instinctively, he figures that buzzing means bees and bees mean honey. Pooh wants honey (as usual). The problem is that the beehive is perched high up in a tree. Pooh has no respect for the bees. He says right from the start, “the only reason for being a bee that I know is making honey … And the only reason for making honey is so as I can eat it.”

Immediately, we get the sense that Pooh Bear is all about Pooh Bear, and that’s just that. He’s of a single focus, a one-track bear, and he doesn’t really sweat the details of a) exploiting the supply of his desire and b) allowing that bees exist for purposes other than sating his desires.

Pooh goes after the honey unsuccessfully. He falls out of a tree, he lands in a “gorse” bush with prickers in his backside and he’s almost out of gas, but he’s still a strong enough bear to want what he wants, gorse bush or no gorse bush. Then he thinks of Christopher Robin. (Who knew that CR was Pooh’s chump?) Pooh devises a plan, which requires a blue balloon to match the sky so that the bees won’t notice it, because y’know, bees are stupid, according to Pooh.

Christopher being smart, asked Pooh about the bees noticing Pooh beneath the balloon.

“You can never tell with bees,” said Pooh. So he considered a bit more and then said, “I shall try to look like a small black cloud. That will deceive them.” Pooh decides to roll in the mud, to look more like a black cloud. In order to deceive the bees. So he can get his honey. Because it’s all about him.

So as the story goes on, Pooh gets the balloon to lift him to the hive and he shouts down an inquiry to Christopher Robin, “What do I look like?”

Christopher Robin said, “You look like a Bear holding on to a balloon.”

“Not, not like a small black cloud in a blue sky?” Pooh asked.

“Not very much,” said Christopher.

Now hold your horses. Before you start saying that I’m comparing Pooh’s mud bath with fallen NAACP-Spokane’s embattled Rachel Dolezal and her repeated appearances since her NAACP transracial (wow, spellcheck did not correct that) scandal broke, as she masqueraded as a black woman (thus perpetuating the stereotype) I want you to take a breath.

Just let me say this: you’re absolutely right.

But this isn’t even the part in the story where Christopher Robin was implicated. Later on, Pooh asks Christopher to fetch an umbrella and say, “Tut-tut, it looks like rain…” (Now I’m not sure of the motive for lying about the rain…) and Pooh continued, “If you did that, it would help the deception which we are practising on these bees.” Sadly, Christopher indulged.

As the rest of the story goes, it turns out it was the wrong sort of bees who were at the hive and Pooh had no way to get down unless he let go of the balloon. Christopher ended up shooting the balloon with his pop gun and Pooh came down, aggressively and landed in a bit of pain. Then Pooh’s arms were stuck in “hanging from a balloon in the sky” pose for a week. The moral of the story: don’t practice deception. Tell the truth. Or you will fall on your ass and your arms will get stuck. I think my sons mostly got the point. No one is perfect, but they know that telling the truth means a lot less trouble than lying.

So at least Winnie was honest about being deceptive. At least he was clear in his intentions: to get honey for himself. At least he didn’t continue a narrative in which he didn’t correct other peoples’ mischaracterizations and misidentifications of him. He didn’t practice the art of syntax and semantic masturbation. He didn’t keep rolling in the mud to look like a black cloud to deceive bees. He didn’t lie and call Christopher Robin his ‘dad.’

Lies: we have direct falsehoods and they suck. We have omitting truths (aka “sins of omission”) which has grades of harm, depending on range and depth of the omission — “No one ever asked me if I put the envelope in the mail to pay my taxes four years in a row” is a pretty big sin of omission. Then there’s “energetic” and “intention” misrepresentations based on syntax and semantics (make sure your voice raises by the end of this sentence): a tacit understanding that everyone believes the same thing? That’s akin to “well, she didn’t ask me outright if I slept with that woman repeatedly while we were married…” — that’s bullshit that people like to hide behind because they don’t have the guts to come out and express themselves in the actual inauthentic persona they’re trying to portray.

Because I’m a word freak, I’m often open to interpretations and nuances and intentions. That said, when we use words commonly understood as being quite clear in their definition and traditional interpretation, you better be singing from the same sheet of music as everyone else is. A contract isn’t a nice idea, it’s a binding agreement. Skilled liars will make it so hard for the rest of us: in that we have to ask such pointed questions (as in the Clinton testimony during the Lewinsky scandal) that it’s work because they are deft manipulators and compartmentalizers.

Regarding the black older man Dolezal marched and paraded with and called him her “father” or “dad” she used the argument so many like to use, “Anyone can be a father; not everyone can be a ‘dad'” and other embarrassing concepts like that. We all know what we really mean, and you do too, Rachel, so … just cut the shit.

Words mean things, they have specific definitions. If you don’t think words really mean things; that it’s all “energy” and “intention,” peeps, then stop using them. Just stop. Intentionally obscuring the definition of the word, in order to suit your own “energetic” or “intentional” means agenda is plain crap and you need to get a grip.

I’m just going to come out with it: liars are weak. They are fearful. They practice duplicity or let you ride on a wave of naivety because you’re a good person. You believe what people tell you. You believe your understanding of a widely used word, say, “cheat” is the same understanding that any person would have. Unless you’re talking to a cheater, and then all bets are off.

It’s like when Bill Clinton famously TESTIFIED, “It all depends on what your interpretation of ‘is’ is.”

Look, we’re not idiots. Don’t jack with us.

Yet, we look away from Clinton’s testimony, now with hazy memories and perhaps softer hearts — not because we decide to let bygones be bygones, but because we realize that people, everywhere, are all a little crazy and that when your hand is in the cookie jar, you better have a) a really good reason; b) permission from mom; c) a great story to tell; or d) an admission and request for mercy. Just for the record, none of those things happened from Clinton and it’s unlikely they will happen with fallen NBC anchor Brian Williams who “misremembered” (which I didn’t know was a word until last winter) nor will they happen with Dolezal. She sits proudly and determinedly, in her stew of semantics, omissions, energetic intentions, emotional nuances and … oh yes, complete lies.

The Doleful Doleful Doleful (ha! spellcheck!) Dolezal interview with NBC’s Matt Lauer on the Today show blew my mind:

She smiles and laughs at the interview. Like she just won a patent trial against Samsung. Lauer doesn’t bat an eye. She’s all “ha ha… I’m smug … it all depends on what your definition of ‘definition‘ is…”

Who knows why anyone does anything anymore. Anyway…

Around 46 seconds into the interview, Lauer’s voice starts to shake. His mouth tightens. I’ve been there — it’s likely starting to go numb because all the blood is draining to pump his heart to keep his legs where they are so he doesn’t leap and kill her for her attitude. It’s as though he can’t believe he has to say the words he’s having to say. He sounds as though he’s ready to come unhinged and scream at her, “ARE YOU FREAKING CRAZY?! DO YOU EXPECT US TO BELIEVE YOU?!”

At 4:50, he asks her SPECIFICALLY about blackface. In her current form, she decried the practice.

Yesterday morning, I wondered, why am I so bothered about this? None of this has anything to do with me and it likely never will. It bothers me because blackface is so completely horrible and racist and offensive and yet she denies she perpetuates it — all of it — because she gets to say (after she probably paid a PR hack a few thousand dollars), “I identify as black.”

Before Dolezal’s parents outed her as being duplicitous (I don’t even want to KNOW what that relationship is all about), it never would have occurred to someone to doubt another person’s racial integrity these days; we’re supposed to be working on being “color blind.” The NAACP has had white officers before. Its founders include white people. So, when I think of Rachel Dolezal in 2015, I have to ask: why would a member of the press need to do that? And why would anyone lie about it? The whole thing baffles.

Her story is just jarring for me. It’s like my “Earth Wind & Fire” station on Pandora. I’m bopping and jamming to “September,” and then “Brick House” and then “Play that Funky Music” and then a song by The Archies comes on. What the what…?

I was reading social media comments about this and someone, who is black, put it very clearly: “you can identify WITH blacks, but not AS black because you are NOT.” Semantics? No. I get to defer to that man, and any other African American because this issue, while it deeply offends me, is not about perpetuating a lifestyle, but only in the easy, good parts. Dolezal gets to choose her dad now; she got to adopt one of her sons who was first her adopted brother by her parents, and she gets to darken her skin and not understand the questions and skirt the facts when intelligent people confront her with intelligent questions.

She should run for president.

I’m left-handed. I don’t identify as right handed. I don’t identify with right handed people; I am forced to because the world is geared toward right handed people, but that doesn’t mean I AM giving up my left-handedness.

I realize my dexterity comparison is faint, that it’s weak, but it’s all I got. I also know that I have no dog in this race. That I’m a white woman who doesn’t have one clue about what it’s like to be any other ethnicity. I haven’t bothered to try; that would be false of me. That would be lying. I have compassion for all races and all people, but I don’t need to fake being anyone other than myself because as I said in my post about Caitlin (nee Bruce) Jenner, being who I am is hard enough as it is.

I grew up with people who lied, who bent the truth and who outright set out to deny, deceive, and deflect in order to keep only a certain type, the “no one gets hurt by my choices” light shining on them, which usually is another self-deception and a complete untruth. Anytime you lie, you are hiding who you are from people. That hiding grows and becomes part of your fabric. If your story is based on a lie, then you lie all the more. Whatever the impetus: fear, shame, arrogance, narcissism, smugness, assholicry, you are slowly shredding away at the relationships you’ve formed with people who rely on you to be the person you are. They begin to not trust you. Your reputation follows you. You have to work hard to regain trust.

I have worked hard in my adult life to be real. To separate myself from those who continue to practice duplicity, and I won’t willingly partake in anything in which deception is exercised. I can’t; bending truth is in direct conflict with my sense of who I am. My yoga practice requires truth. My personal philosophy demands it. My cousin once called me “the troubadour of truth” and I wear the mantle proudly. The truth, while it might be inconvenient, engenders a clear conscience, which is so much easier to sleep on.

Thank you.

Dear Therapy, (dispatches from the bunker)

Standard

I’m at this ever-so-familiar point in my experience with you, which is inevitable.

Transference. That fantastic adolescent stage of The Work when I become a snarky dismissive teenager again.

I’m assigning to you whatever emotions, biases, fears, hostilities and actions I would to a person of significance in my life. At this juncture, despite my obvious progress, it all becomes Mother, again. You are my Mother. Your agent, another ever-pleasant and helpful therapist with the wingback chair, low lighting, doilies, sets of clocks and tissues, commercial carpeting, collections of I’m OK, You’re OK books, posters explaining states of emotional identification, is Mother.

Sigh.

Editorial note: buckle in. This post goes all over the place but lands without much turbulence.

Due to my track record, and my intellectual tendencies to do all I can to learn about “law of diminishing returns in therapy” and to debunk the “value of long-term psychotherapy” I have to say that I am yet again at a crossroads: I don’t like this … this occasional visit to you to tell you about my nocturnal dreams (heaven forbid my life ambitions) and memories and the pattern I exhibited in choosing some friends (boy- and girl-) who were like Mother: distant, brilliant, funny, competitive, self-absorbed, unreachable, private and terrified.

Two weeks ago, the death of a former friend whom I’d unknown (read: hung on every syllable) more than 11 years ago rocked my world. She was all the things I’d apparently (and unwittingly) looked for in a friend. The news and my reaction at first were other worldly, as though on a ticker tape: “HUMAN FEMALE CONTEMPORARY OF REMOVED YET SIGNIFICANT PERSONAL HISTORICAL CONTEXT ON SEPARATE EXISTENTIAL PLANE HAS EXPERIENCED CELLULAR AND SOMATIC FAILURE. CHECK BOX HERE TO ACKNOWLEDGE RECEIPT OF THIS DATA. THIS MESSAGE WILL SELF-DESTRUCT IN … 60 DAYS.”

She is the first of my mommyhood friends to go to God and she was young, vivacious and super-involved. After initially processing the news, I thought I was ok. What I was unprepared for was the just-hours-away first shipment of hungover emotional detritus ranging from authentic heart-wrenching sadness to fervent antipathy due to how things died between us. How from the beginning I was dazzled by her glitter trail, slack-jawed and dazed like a five-year-old in Health-Tex clothes and Mary Janes at the tetherball pole and almost two years later, at 34, wrapped soundly by the tether around the pole as she slapped the ball again and again and again ever tighter.

I felt compelled to perform. To join in the chorus of mutual persons who knew her and voice my once-knowing of her. To be a part of something, despite my personal perspective, which likely everyone else was feeling: her loss. I shared on my Facebook wall about her some kindnesses and candor: that our relationship had ended years before, but that her loss was significant to me nonetheless. Most of all, I was sad that I would never see her again and thus, the exchange of another awkward civility between us was impossible. Everything I wrote was sincere. I took it down after a few days because I felt sticky, as though I didn’t belong: those people still deeply loved her. I share this here and now, likely at risk to my friendship with mutuals, but that’s how life is. I’ve never been a faker. When we share these intricacies with people and then they die or we divorce from them, our loss of them also become a loss of ourselves as well, I think. That part of us / our relationship (or co-identity) we have and which they held (in their own value system) has ceased to be held. It’s “floating” out there, vulnerable and alone. That can be hard. 

Our relationship imploded, as many have, due to my allegiance to and advocacy for my children over the relative intensity, tenure and we-all-know-it’s-really-not-healthy but we-will-deny-it-because-its-easier friendship with this person. Just like so many others. So many others with people who so energetically reminded me, in one shape or another, of my woeful habit of picking people who were stunning/terrified, cheerful/angry, energetic/hostile, altruistic/competitive, ____ and ____ and ____… and ____ (read: just like me) to populate my consciousness.

As Rumi said in his poem “The Guest House”:

who violently sweep your house

empty of its furniture,

still, treat each guest honorably.

he may be clearing you out

for some new delight.

Yet here’s the difference, this time: I am wiser. I understand now that my “selection” of those vipers (energies) in my life had little to do with them, and everything (or at least more) to do with me. This is what maturity has given me: extremely poor distance eyesight and a mirror to hold at 18″ away. That somewhere in the lineage of all these souls, are lessons about myself. About my predilections (will I EVER spell that word correctly?) due to history.

Rumi continues,

the dark thought, the shame, the malice.

meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.

be grateful for whatever comes.

because each has been sent as a guide from beyond.

‘Guide from beyond.’ I like that.

I’m done with saying “conditioning.” At some point, I must cease blaming this stuff on my former life and wake up to the pattern and see that the tenor of familiarity in those people is what hooked me — because honestly, I KNEW.

Not two months after she vaporized from my life, I’d lined up another vacuum. And then four more in two years’ time. If I’d just slowed down for a few breaths, stepped back, checked in (as if a 34-y.o. pregnant mother [with braces and bad hair] of 2 boys under 6 could really do that: STAYBUSYSTAYBUSYSTAYBUSYSTAYBUSY BLOCK ALL INTUITIVE FEELINGS) and assessed, I would’ve walked run. I would’ve kept things high level. But there was something in ME. Every single one of those people was just like me: floundering. We just didn’t know it. I’d like to chalk it all up to battle shock, loneliness and sadness from her exodus, but no. It was me.

In retrospect, at almost every relationship genesis, the other person was in pain and I think I was there to save the day. Not to assuage their pain (initially, anyway) but to somehow apply my kindness to them to alleviate the guilt I unconsciously felt about my mother and my inability to fix her and have some semblance of normal. (Now I know it wasn’t my job — that this is all part of the lesson, the journey in life that we are all on — we are here to do the best we can with what we have and love one another, no questions asked, and mind our own business while at the same time effecting peace and harmony as much as we are able. Right?)

Oh Therapy…  the magnifying-glass-under-the-sun, focusing-on-the-leaf feeling I have toward myself (me, being the leaf, the sun and the glass, all at different times) and my hesitancy to go forward with your agent? What of that? True to my other -ections, I need a goal. I need to have an end point, an expiration date. A “best used by” date. Something that tells me, some form of pee-on-the-stick, get-a-prick-of-blood test that tells me… I am good. And not just “good” in the sense of how my father would say, “We’re good…” as in “has everyone used the bathroom and we’re good to go?” -good:

he will make good his promisefulfillcarry outimplementdischargehonorredeemkeepobserveabide bycomply withstick toheedfollowbe bound bylive up tostand byadhere to.

But GOOD… (have you ever looked up “good” in the dictionary? My word….) — these are great:

for good those days are gone for good: foreverpermanentlyfor alwaysevermoreforevermorefor ever and everfor eternitynever to returnforevermoreinformal for keepsuntil the cows come homeuntil hell freezes overarchaic for aye.make good 

TRUE EXAMPLE!:if I don’t get away from my family, I’ll never make goodsucceedbe successfulbe a successdo wellget aheadreach the topprosperflourishthriveinformal make itmake the grademake a name for oneselfmake one’s markget somewherearrive.

That good. The “those days are gone forever -good.”

My mother has died. Corporeal and somatic and cellular death occurred over a year ago. 19 months, 7 days and 20 hours ago. -ish.

I would like to move the fuck on. For good.

Being a student of life, an examiner, a truth-teller and a “seeker” (whatever the what that means), instead of moving the fuck on, I instead have found myself dissecting the lint from my navel and wondering about shit which simply doesn’t matter any more.

I have been given numerous “signs” to move on. Signs and messages that have told me “All is well” and “You have been written a blank check by God” and “For every shame there is a star.” Those are the audible ones. The supposed more subtle ones are the breath-by-precious breath fact that I am here, every day, aspirating and exchanging gases with the trees and the grass.

There is no “thing” I’m doing “wrong.” Therapy is …. Not my mother, but I’m beginning to treat it as though it is: I’m dismissing it, arguing with it, wondering about its value and its harm. My therapist is lovely — as transference (in my case) dictates, I’m polite with her. I’m talking and “listening” and nodding and “Oh? Yes… Well…” -ing while at the same time … inwardly hostilely wondering, “What the fuck is the point of this? Can’t we just exchange casserole recipes and be done?”

I told her yesterday, “I miss my sense of humor.”

“Really? What do you mean?” she asked.

“Well, I used to be really flip and funny, before …”

“Before what?”

“Before this. Before therapy. Before ‘help’ and ‘healthy’ got in the way…” I squirm in my chair. Instead of looking away, I look right at her. With dead, laser eyes and a sneer beginning its curl on my upper lip. “Oh, I know… it was a defense …”

She said nothing.

I continued. “Was it wrong? Maybe. No. It wasn’t. But it was certainly more fun than this.” (Pass the sugar, my venom is getting acidic. I need you to think it’s a nectar first….)

She adjusted herself.

I sat there. Put the old well-intentioned pillow (covered in who knows what) on my lap. I wanted a blanket. I trusted no one. I knew I’d done it, was in for it. I was expecting some sort of comment along the lines of, “Well, I don’t take much of what you say with any weight. At least you’re you. Much of what you say is figurative emotionally, loaded with a lot of irregularities. And I don’t take it that seriously…” which is part of the rambling and incoherent voicemail message my mother left for me three days after my birthday a few years ago. The other part of the message is the blaring daytime television talk show playing in the background. She left the message on the heels of yet another argument we’d had when she called me earlier in the week to say happy birthday to me and then remind me that it was she who should get the presents because she did all the work, “HEE HEE.” My eyes rolled so much they spun themselves out.

“But it was all a joke, don’t you see, Mally. You take everything so seriously…”

God, I’m screwed.

What do you do with that? Yes, I still have that message. Part of me says, “IT’S POISON! GET RID OF IT!!!” and the other says, “NO! IT’S DATA! IT’S PROOF!” and then another part of me says, “You’re 47. Move on.”  To which I reply, “Move on and keep it –move on? Or move on and delete it –move on?” It’s hard to decide.

Why? Because like most of us, Mom had a different face for each place. I’d like to say that I’m pretty consistent, but the fact is that we’re all a little scared inside. Hence, the faces.

So, Therapy, what do we do?

A message I woke with in my head this morning was “This is life. Everyone has their shit to deal with. The more you inspect it, the more you find… How much more do you want to find? It’s all about you anyway — your deflections and projections and transferences and ruses to throw Therapist off the scent by bitching about other people are all about you anyway… YOU DO KNOW THIS… Accept it. Accept what’s yours, learn what you can and grow up. Cut it out.”

Her wings are her fingers.

Her wings are her fingers.

It wasn’t quite that Joan Rivers-esque, but it was close. Wouldn’t it be funny if my Messenger were Joan Rivers? It would be The Best.

Mother is gone and I have learned. The latent vipers I welcomed have also vacated. I don’t give all my bandwidth to the vacuums anymore and yet… . Egads, I don’t want to be a vacuum. So this requires Radical Acceptance of what is and screw the rest. After all, what are we going to do? Unring a bell? That’s crazy. The thing is: we all have stories. We all have -isms.

My goal, I just realized 20 minutes ago when the computer locked up and I was concerned I’d lost all this post (which I hadn’t), was that I think I’ve have resumed with Therapy was because I had a certain, alien, expectation of Therapy, that I would emerge from it somehow taller, Scandinavian, in fabulous boots, and perky. That all my shit would be gone and my baggage replaced with a new set of Louis Vuitton — all of it, from the key fob to the casket — and I’d be ready to pack in new experiences, taller experiences.

I honestly thought I would be scrubbed of stuff. It’s like when I rowed in the stroke seat for the first time; the coaches just automatically assumed I knew that I wasn’t supposed to pull the hardest, but that I was simply supposed to set the time. Well, I did both, and I screwed up my back. I wonder how many other people think that Therapy somehow has a new YOU waiting at the end of the ever-distant and moving finish line? But that’s not it, is it? That’s not at all how it goes. I’m going to emerge emerging wiser and older with my same mismatched luggage, two rolls of animal print duct tape, some WD-40 (one of the small cans, I’m 47 after all), and toolkit instead of an array of showy new designer luggage and casket.

And that’s the point. We are who we are, with all our baggage and shit and we can still get fabulous boots. 

I’m feeling that when I bring this wagon back to center, that when I identify with these moments of transference and realize that they are really about ME, then change can happen. 

We’ve got this. 

 Thank you.