I didn't want to write this story.
I've been carrying it around since Thursday night, but when I do that, when I don't write through these things, the world gets uglier, darker, and more twisted...fast. No, I'm not that powerful, I'm talking about perspective. Which is at the root of everything.
I was out to the movies with my brother (the new Ryan Reynolds/Sam Jackson. So good! Yeah, that's a truth. I love my blockbuster-blow-shit-up-eye-candy. Deal.)
So, yeah, we're super weird. My family is still close, we hang and stuff. We like each other. <----- effing psychos.
Anyway. On-line for some contraband: popcorn and I'm NOT TELLING YOU what else. Nunya business. So, there's a man with his little boy, around my son's age, ahead of us. This adorable boy looks over to his Mama and Aunties, who are walking toward the theater. He wants to go with them.
"Mama," he yells over to her, teary-eyed. She smiles and says nothing. He cries a little bit. Big tough Daddy-man looks down at his toddler with a stern face and points at him. "Ah....ah...nope. Not even."
He tries to suck up his tears. He looks back at his Mama and this time tries a different call, "Auntie!" Still, they walked. They disappeared around the corner. Full-on tears. Big Daddy-man gives the boy his Batman mask. And here's where it gets fun:
"Here, go ahead, put it on. That way we don't have to hear you cryin' or, worse, SEE you cryin'. Put that on, maybe Batman will make you feel tough. Pathetic. Huh, feel better? Feel tough? Will ya stop now?" If someone spoke to my son in this way he'd still be recovering from backlash.
Both my brother and I recoiled in silent disgust. Uploading pain and psychosis into innocent child...now. I don't interfere in another's parenting: I don't know the whole story, it could be a different culture and tradition perhaps...so many possibilites. But... he was a baby. A sweet, innocent boy, younger than 5, that wanted some love and attention from his mother. But he was forced to stay behind and learn his "tough act." This is where we learn to start wearing our masks. Literally! Wow!
Can you remember when you were first told to wear a mask? And why? And do you know that all of that isn't yours to carry?
Wow. This is where it starts. All of this that we're seeing. Denied self-expression, acceptance, love, and nurturing at a young age. Leaving young, impressionable children in the dark, to sort out their own powerful emotions as they grow and learn about their world. It's a kind of neglect and abuse, growing up in a cold home. And it turns human beings into monsters, sometimes, as they grow.
The Paradox of it All:
A child can learn self-defense and confidence and still believe in the goodness and tenderness of people.
A child can be strong and raised with moral values and honored family traditions, and still be able to express sadness, loneliness, vulnerability, and fear, in a healthy way.
A child taught not to cry, becomes an adult who never feels safe enough to cry, which creates instability. I myself have only recently learned how to truly cry, and thereby, heal myself. <---big one
A child can be taught self-sufficiency and also be able and willing to offer and accept help.
A child raised to be blindly obedient, without a sense of self, becomes a weakened and confused adult who then, if they're wise, must take a lot of time and effort to understand their past, and to heal. As so many of us do. But not all adults want to heal. Many want to perpetuate a damaging cycle.
Add years and years of stifled pain and emotion, and here we are. Watch the news. Raised in fear, to see the world in fear, to act and react in fear.
When does it stop?
I'm not saying raise your children to be spoiled, self-indulgent, and disconnected. Silver spoon syndrome helps no one. I'm not saying to raise them to be dramatic martyrs, either. Extremes make headlines and get attention but aren't the only page-turners and makers of change. There is a healthy middle, there is a balanced place where the best of strength and compassion and cool heads meet... and that is my goal. To teach from that place. To parent from that place. To live from that place. it's quite a place to strive for. And I'm definitely not there, yet.
I screw it up a lot. I still catch myself reacting in heated and emotional moments, wanting to cast out blame. It't that! it's them! It's her, it's him! Oh, but those moments when I can see it, step back, recalibrate? That's where the lessons fly in. Here's the thing though, if we're not screwing up and making mistakes, we're not learning anything. We're staying still. Safe. Bubble-wrapped. Our world will never change, if we don't.
I am far from perfect, I put my foot in my mouth daily among other incessant mistakes. (Sorry...everyone, ever. Full-on human. Still working on it.)
But I'd be wasting precious time if I stayed there, in the mistake. I learn, I adjust my behavior and thinking about that sort of issue, and I roll on. As does anyone. We hope.
Dear Little Teary-Eyed Boy:
I hope that you grow into a wonderful and happy young man. I hope that your peers and your schooling and the books you read and the places you travel to and the people you meet will broaden your perspective. I hope that you learn how to let your cries out in a healthy way. I hope that you get in touch with what makes you come alive and what grounds you and brings you inner peace. I hope that you know...it's okay to cry, when you feel the need to release powerful emotions.
Grown men who are well-adjusted, successful, and happy...do cry sometimes. When they are vulnerable, when they are moved, when they are saddened, when they grieve, when they are terribly frightened. They just don't stay in it, they don't prolong it and hold onto it. It's a natural and cleansing gift to us, it's a reset, it's a clearing out of stagnant emotion. And when dealt with, head-on, it cycles through quickly. But when ignored, stuffed down, condescended to, forgotten, or worse, punished...those cries get stuck inside. They linger and fester and rot and get absorbed into our flesh and bones and memory.
And this is an aberration. It's a fear that we carry our whole lives, that was never really ours to begin with. And yet, when it becomes us, we inflict it upon others, when it wasn't theirs, either. This is a cycle that must end. This suppressing of human emotion.
Just find the middle. It's where all the best things happen. In harmony, with balance.
what if there is no Meaning?
what if we are here, simply to Love?
To relish in what was once an abundant paradise?
what if...we had it all:
rivers, streams, wildlife, waterfalls?
conscious thought to appreciate it all
and to see and connect with each other?
and maybe somewhere,
in the realm of conscious thought,
we began to question and seek.
the seek for meaning, we had to assign meaning
great, grand, unquestionable meaning,
to such simple beauty and abundance.
we had to explain it to ourselves,
a prime reason for existence,
for what was once Heaven on earth.
to be sure, such paradise came with perils:
natural disasters and unexpected events;
the very wrath and ferocity of nature, Herself.
let us always remember that to be natural
is to be both beautiful and serene,
while also being savage and unapologetic.
utmost beauty and Light in contrast
with destruction and darkness.
this is Life. at its most simple, without pretense
and the delicious sugarcoating that we love so much.
the glaze that makes our lives so palatable and sweet,
the desire to magnify the beautiful
and look past the broken and raw and ferocious.
but we had to find meaning,
we had to, and we do still.
and so we created belief.
and then there were divergent beliefs.
this caused conflict.
and hell on Earth,
as humans battled with their beliefs
in their attempts to understand and explain what was given
in such simplicity and ease in Being.
we are here to work and to Love,
to care for ourselves and others,
to nourish and replenish,
to celebrate, to dance, to smile.
in our search to create meaning,
we've lost our true purpose.
what Life ought to mean:
Love, effort, abundance, celebration, creation, consolation, connection
what we've created in our time here:
conflict, judgments, illness, imbalance, cruelty, distortion, stagnancy, hatred, greed
we've also created:
progress, growth, art, masterpieces,
bold and unabashed testaments to our collective existence.
we bear witness to our searching hearts,
we provide proof of our existence,
we leave imprints, we plan and calculate memories
in a desperate attempt to scream out that
WE WERE HERE.
but what if there is nothing to fix?
what if this is who we are?
what if... Life... is simply this?
but not just to live
but to dive in deep
and live loudly.
to communicate, freely.
to express, to feel,
to move beyond,
to not conceal,
but to show, to share,
to glow, to be aware
of each other, so gratefully.
and how precious is this?
these strings, these precious things,
these tethers, these threads,
a simple tug, a lonely moment,
travels and connects us
to each other, but really,
back to ourselves.
because to see each other's eyes
and to breathe each other's sighs
above and between the
clenched fists and the cries
is to be Love
to be in connection
to be awakened
to know that we are all in it together
it's not how long Life is,
but it's what we do with it.
perhaps this is the question to ask:
not the why, and wherefore, and how-come
of it all, but the what.
deep into Life.
what are we doing with it?
It's been just about two years. Since it all went upside-down. Meaning, life changed, in a big way. My marriage didn't work, we were new parents already dealing with so much. And there is...a lot... that goes on when major life-changes like this happen. For sure.
It can be very traumatic, even when things end rather amicably. It can induce severe stress. Body systems, hormones, all sorts of things can go offline and misfire and wreak absolute havoc on the nervous system. On every system.
It can be absolutely maddening, even when it's "easy." (PS, it never is, it's always a last choice.)
But here's what I want to, perhaps need to, press on. Someone, somewhere, some little boy, much like mine, needs to hear this.
Mommy is okay. Your Mom is the strongest person that you've ever met. You know, I came from a home where my parents split, in the 8th grade, my sister in 4th, my brother a year older than me. But here's the thing...just open your mind, and try to hear this, regardless of where you're at:
I know families where they stayed together. For too long. And fought, and argued, and fell apart and raised children in an environment that stunted them, when they got older. Do you know why? Because their models of love were broken. They grew up and thought love meant pain. They thought love meant abuse and depravity and bad decision making and slow endurance of heartache, until death. They thought love meant suffering and stifling dreams...but together. This is very damaging to the childhood psyche, even if well-intentioned. It affects all of their later relationships and only spreads more suffering to those that they meet.
Now, consider the flip-side.
My parents split, yes. I was an adolescent, yes. It was rough for a time, but...but...
Soon thereafter, my mother met someone new. A man who saw her differently, treated her in the way that was...closer to what she needed. So, I have been blessed with knowing what love looks like, what spontaneous romantic dancing on the deck looks like, what intrinsically knowing the other looks like, and what ... suffering looks like. Growing up in a stoic household, with miserable parents who no longer love each other...is a fate worse than living through divorce. Ideals get twisted, and these kids grow up and look for the wrong things, they look for silent suffering and sacrifice, they pick up harmful addictions, they seek more and more pain...rather than a joyful, rocky, but adventurous exploration of love, compassion, sharing, growth.
So, I guess my point is this: Mom is fine. Dad is fine. We all move on, and then put all that love into the children, and heal...perhaps on the lookout for what may be someone, somewhere, closer to the love that we really needed. And maybe we just weren't ready for that big Love, the first time around. Divorce isn't always tragic, and sometimes staying together for the wrong reasons...is tragic, as well.
It's hard for boys to see their Moms "alone." I hear it a lot and people warn me about the psychology of it. A growing boy, feeling as though...he has to step it up, be the 'man of the house,' and take care of his Mama. it's touching, but not necessary. I'm lucky though, I co-parent. 50/50. My son has equal access and time with both of us. He has his Daddy, and he has me, we just aren't romantically involved and don't live together anymore. And we're getting good at it, I think. Our son is thriving with the situation, all things considered. He's got a great support system and he's surrounded with love all over the place.
Sweet, sweet boy, as you grow, know that Mom is okay. She's probably the strongest woman you've ever met and you'll never, ever know what she went through, what she held together, what she fought through, deep inside...for you. To be okay...for you. Because you are her heart, always inside, even when you're apart. You grew inside of her, her ribs and organs moved to accommodate your growing body. You're never apart, really. That's how Moms work. It's an unconditional thing, it's just built in. At least it should be, I know it doesn't always work that way, and that truly breaks my heart.
But all she really wants? Is for you to forgive yourself for something that had nothing to do with you. Nothing at all. She never needed saving, she was saving herself already...for you. Going to battle, inside, facing demons, slaying dragons, finding her strength, her resolve, her best...for you. To provide you with a safer and more loving space within which to thrive and grow and learn to love in a more healthy way. She wanted better and more open and healthy relationships...for YOU. She went to the mattresses, healing herself, to provide you with a healthy foundation.
I'll make sure my boy knows, as he grows, that he is immeasurably loved. On both sides of his family. That he is surely treasured, but is not above anyone else. That he is appreciated when he is thoughtful and kind and helpful, and will be taught to honor and respect women and their opinions, but not be expected to be a stand-in, ever. That he will one day, be his own man. Strong and sturdy in his own confidence, from having faced his own battles within, as do any of us. As do any of us. It's the human condition. We can't shelter and save our children from their wounds, just as sure as our parents couldn't shield us. They did their best. I'm doing my best. He'll do his best. That's it, that's life. Do good work, have lots of fun, take chances, use your vacation days, and love over and over again.
If I could fast-forward...to his questioning years, when he looks back and digs into his own childhood, as I've been doing...for me... I want to tell him...
None of this is your fault. You were an amazing, bright-eyed little boy, who only wanted to explore. You chased butterflies through grass, you blew bubbles into the wind, you marveled at the sky, you rubbed Buddha's belly, and all with a smile and joy for life. You dreamed and imagined and wished you could take flight, right there, with a blanket tied around your shoulders. You wanted to be a superhero, you wanted to save everyone, everything. And one day, in your way...you will. Not with tricks and illusions, but with your heart. With your sincerity. With your courage and big ideas. With your problem solving and big thinking. With your measured and thought-out actions. With your willingness to face your troubles, head on, and see them through to the other side. And your ability to make people smile and laugh and not take themselves so seriously. You were a goofball, a troublemaker, and you loved, loved, loved your hugs, even if you started smushing Mommy's face away when she kissed you too much. You saw a beautiful, magical world, and even then, you took up your plastic bat as a sword and beat away invisible bats to protect your Mommy. Not because you are born to fight, but because you are born to LOVE. To love and protect is in you, but so is joy and wonder and exploration. Trust both, honor both. Find your sacred middle, dear one. It's there.
You can do absolutely anything in this world, if you set your mind right, if you practice and work at it, and if you treat people well, as you go. Your people are your currency. if they don't give you good feedback, then you retreat and figure it out, until they do. People, other human beings, are your gauge. Not money, not wealth, not fame. Financial security is important, to a point. But it's humanity that will steer you to true success. They are your brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles, mothers and fathers, friends and co-workers... human beings are your family, and they come in all shapes and sizes, ethnic backgrounds, they speak all different languages, and they wear all sorts of different clothes. And we're all in it together. See? We're all trying to figure it out. Make good friends, that you trust, and keep them. Friendships are important, family is important. Always honor and appreciate them, and remind them often, that you care.
Let them reflect you back to yourself, and dear one, pay attention. Stay humble, but be proud of the capable, dazzling, interesting, loving, powerful man that you've become and are always becoming. You are a miracle. I know, I made you in my body, I know what it took to bring you here. You can do anything, you can love anyone, you can help to transform this world into what you've always dreamed it might be. You can fly to the moon, maybe! Yes...you can. And you will, if you want it enough. If you're kind, if you're honest, and if you stay the course and do the work. Learn how to focus and hone your attention into your skills and passions, while balancing your time with honoring your heart, your relationships, your body, and your own inner peace.
Life is juggling act, it's all about balancing things out. You can have it all, but not all at once. Make time for what moves you, inspires you, heals you, soothes you, invigorates you, pushes you closer to what your want. Honor those people and experiences. Spend less time, or no time, on that which diminishes you, belittles you, takes advantage of or berates you, or takes for granted your beautiful, sensitive heart. Don't let the world turn you cruel, but build boundaries and guideposts for yourself. Know who to steer away from and who to let in. This discernment comes with practice and experimentation, and probably lots of heartache...as you learn. Unfortunately, this is a necessary evil. We have to get hurt to know what we don't want. Not everyone understands a heart like yours, be alert, and patient, but stay open. And love, always love, this is what your special heart was born to do This is why you feel so much. And it grows back, every time, even when it feels like it won't...it's never really gone, I promise. This Love is your superpower! Because this Love, it's everywhere, in everything. It's in you. It's in me, when I lay down to sleep and visualize wonderful things for you. And you'll make mistakes. You'll say stupid things and regret them. You'll make a fool of yourself and feel awkward. You'll trust and get hurt. You'll trust and find love. You try things and fail, you'll try things and succeed. You'll do all of these things, and it would be a lonely and quiet life if you didn't.
The world is full of beautiful and magical things, just awaiting your keen attention and time. You'll be just fine, I know you will. You've got a kick-ass Mama who's walked through fire and back. Of course you'll be fine. Once you understand...that she is fine, too. And that she loves you, and your time, and your attention...but she doesn't need to be rescued. You'll need to focus on you. That's all she wants. Is for her boy to be happy, healthy, well-adjusted, confident, and to feel so, so loved. To be the kind of man that follows kind words with sincere and true deeds. That handles his inner troubles and expresses them in a healthy way that doesn't hurt others. That loves his life and always chooses the bright side, but also knows how to empathize with his fellow human beings. You've got a whole world out there, waiting for you. And you deserve it, you really deserve all the good things that are out there. Stay kind, keep humble, reflect and be proud, and keep dreaming and falling and dreaming again. This is how to make a great, fulfilling life. Kindness, compassion, adventure, and tranquility. And love. Always with Love in your beautiful heart, amore. Ti amo, mio Principe, per sempre. <3
***Big props to all the single Moms, divorced Moms, widowed Moms, who had to learn how to saddle up with a tool-belt and put down the tiaras (let's be honest, we never really got to wear them...) and learn how to spackle walls, lift heavy things, hang TVS, drill holes, pack and unpack, settle accounts, open new accounts, inspect wiring, fix ceiling tiles, unclog pipes, call in support, get the right help, hang and unhang curtains, de-stain bathroom tile, remove scary insects, relocate rogue birds, fix baby's boo-boos, fix their own boo-boos, put their babies' first, not gain 1,000 pounds, not give up... and then showing up, getting to work, getting healthy, staying sane, fighting through hell, keeping our wits, keeping our friends, keeping our GOALS... all while putting on a happy, smiling face...ever-grateful for those minutes with those precious, little angels that make it all worth it. Ladies, I salute you. I honor you. I deep bow to you. You're fucking badass, and we're all in this together. My sisters. We got this.
And to the men who get it and don't choose to exploit these women at their weakest: you are treasures and are appreciated. Life will reward you in due time, for your thoughtfulness, caring, genuine concern, and far-reaching, endless altruism. You are the ones who remind us of goodness, trustworthiness, and it keeps us going.
And...breathe...goodnight. My Loves. xo
I woke up this morning still sleepy, having stayed up too late writing, as I do sometimes.
I would've slept later, but in remembering a dentist appointment that I had, I did my thing and rushed out the door. I had "cleaning, 10 am," in my planner. I was ushered right in, no problem. I sat down.
"So, you're here for a filling..."
Gulp. Uh, no...? "No, I'm not, I'm getting a cleaning, I thought it was a cleaning." I'm prepared for a cleaning!
"No, it's a filling. You had a cleaning last month."
Gulp again. The mind, the mind...the inner dialogue beings...
I'm not prepared. I'm not ready for this, I was counting on it being something else. This isn't what I thought, what is happening? This is all silently, mind you. On the outside, was, "hey, whatever, I knew I made an appointment for sumthin, haha...no worries..." Inner turmoil continues. Novocain. Jaw tightness. Pressure, drilling, numbness, not being able to eat... I haven't even had coffee yet!? Shut up brain, shut up.
And so it went for a minute or so, until the dentist and assistant started their weird conversation about Tiger Woods and all kinds of other weirdness. It began with a chat about Father's Day, and how my Pops likes to zone out in his chair and just watch the Open. All day. Golf, golf, golf. Then we went into Tiger. And behavior, and addiction, and cheating, and Hollywood and affairs, and the otherworldliness that celebrity-lifestyle can bring. It was starting to circle the drain for a bit, but the conversation shifted, quickly. In every conversation, every interaction, there will be whisper of deep truth, almost as if from the universe to you...if you listen. You have to wait for it, listen for it, but always something poignant and meaningful and worthy of exploration will pop out. And it's usually accompanied by a momentary shift in perspective. That rare glimpse when we jump into another's shoes.
Doc said, "although, I can't imagine...being so much the center of attention, not knowing what people truly want you for. For the fame, the connections, the money, the places they can take you... or are they being loved for who they truly are, the person beneath the image?"
Wow...right? Deep thoughts on the dentist chair, while the novocain set in. I can't imagine the challenges in identity, and how important it must be to stay grounded, and know who you are, who you can trust. I'm not excusing Tiger Woods' behavior, for even a minute, but rather...appreciating the environment in which celebrities and phenoms live. Life under a lens. I can mosey in and out of a movie theater, no problem, no one cares. If I were Tiger? Nope. Spotted, chased, hunted, reported on, judged, scrutinized. It must be quite a challenge today, taking the celebrity route. I can imagine it would be quite lonely, at times. Here's me! (Not really though, that's my image...) So the real person is tucked away and saved for friends, family, trusted folks. It's a kind of schizophrenia, it seems, if you've got to be on or off in different environments, am I me, or the real me? Goodness. It can't be easy.
But this is changing a little. I feel that as humans, regardless of celebrity status, wealth, gender, ethnicity, religious beliefs...that we are all learning to respect, understand, and know each other, moving ahead with kindness and compassion in our hearts, and speaking our truths, with reverence. Balancing rationality and emotion. Nurturing wholeness and authenticity. Healing together, as a world, as a people. Wave by wave. Ripple by ripple. I can absolutely tell you that it's a real thing that is happening. A transformation in the way we communicate, feel, empathize. I'm awed to able to witness and experience it. What a magical moment to get to live in.
So, back to the chair. The conversation got lighter, we cracked some jokes, and we laughed. And in that moment, letting the experience be what it was, rather than what I planned for, I released the anxiety about it. This is what they talk about, when they say, surrender. Giving over to what is. In doing so, the thoughts swirling around in our heads...just poof! Evaporate. As we step into the new moment, fully.
So, in a world full of unknowns, often uncontrollable circumstances, and all the rest...can we... truly prepare for experience? We can make plans, we can rehearse, we can idealize, we can imagine...but really, it's only in the showing up and surrendering to the moment, letting it be what it is, that we get to be fully present in any experience, leaving expectations at the door. It's those tendencies to revert back inside, into the mind, to analyze, mull over, calculate, emote frustration...and repeat, cycling over and over in receptive haze, until we work ourselves into just...wretchedness. This is where we hide from realities. Instead of simply...opening our eyes, diving into the moment, accepting what it is, and living in it.
I've decided / have learned that I can be grateful and delighted about all the goodness in Life, and still voice my Truth when things aren't right within it.
That I can adore, cherish, and celebrate the opportunity and gift of motherhood, and still enjoy my work, my creativity, and enjoy a vacation, on my own, as a woman.
That I can be noncommittal to any one religion and still seek, unravel, explore, and alchemize with Spirit, Love, Light, Faith, and the great energetic web of Life.
That I can Love all life forms including myself and still eat meat, sometimes.
That I can respect people and not have to agree with them.
That I can keep writing, always, even when I don't know where it's going yet.
That I can evolve and outgrow myself, in layers, as sure as I can outgrow others and they can outgrow me.
That I can make idiotic facepalm mistakes, often, and still be worthy of my place, my direction, my goals, my Life.
That I can like who I like, that preferences are allowed, that I'm allowed to want things, while always seeking to serve.
That I can follow my path into complete nihilism...and still rewrite my Universe into Love. Over and over and over again.
That I might not ever really know what I'm talking about, and yet, still feel called to share.
Because I choose to. Because it's why we're here.
Learn. Love. Repeat. 💜
What a few days it's been...
I took a much needed detox from social media, among other things, and wow...what I've missed.
I was severely saddened to read about Prince leaving us. What a unique and expressive soul. But rather than write a soliloquy to Prince, as the Internet now drips with memes, videos, slogans, articles, and quotes that honor his life...I will just say that I'll enjoy his music, all memories from my youth, playing on the radio in memoriam.
Anyway. I have been OUTDOORS lately. It's been absolutely lovely in my neck of the woods! So, in my near-separation from social media, which did me a world of good, I have reconnected to my heart: nature. The green Adirondack chair in the photo below, is my favorite spot. I call it my Walden chair. I just sit there and let the birds sing their secrets. The wind fills me in. The treetops sway and lean, and come back to center. They're flexible. They bend, sure...but they bounce right back. And my birds...Cardinals, Blue Jays, the Robins building their nest in the old pine next to the garage. I had a little bunny hop by today. I name every wild "street bunny" I see, Nacho. I don't know why, it's a thing I do. So, Nacho the bunny sat back: his little nose twitching a thousand beats per minute, nibbling some crab-grass. He was watching me break up sod and turn some dirt over this afternoon. I didn't have my camera, then. I never have it ready when my animal friends show up...maybe...they just know. He only stayed a few minutes, anyway.
So, I finished up my project today. Four glorious, back-breaking hours under the sun, covered in dirt. And I've never felt more at peace and inspired. Warm sun, fresh breezes, the sound of the birds, my hands in the earth, relocating grubs, keeping the worms (earthworms aerate the soil, they're keepers.)
I now have a bed of freshly turned and nourished earth, ready for planting...to let Mother Nature do her thing and turn bulbs into flowers. It's a bit early, for this area, to do a full planting of crops or flowers (I still bought two potted plants, though. Stubborn I am)...we might still get a snap of cold air. But bulbs? They get tucked away, covered by the soil, and warmed by the natural fertilizer (I found an awesome non-GMO, all-natural, non-toxic mix to feed the soil with. Forgot the name, but they exist. No contaminants, and safe for creatures that might visit your garden. Including curious toddlers.) The bulbs are protected from the elements under there, and come summer, we'll have lush, colorful, vibrant dalias, lilies, gladiolas, and I can't even remember what else. But I am excited to bring the life and beauty of these blossoms and blooms into the backyard. Next month, veggies. :-)
I had used the rest of my basil-in-a-bag from the grocery store, and there was a root-bulb at the bottom. So...yes. I stuck that in the dirt. I hope it regrows more basil!
So friends, beyond soaking up the sun, breathing deep, trying out a new restaurant called Thyme (outstanding!), I don't have a whole lot of profound or exciting things to report to you. But here is the sum-up... I did learn a few things this week, continuing along my self-love month (I think really, this is just how I'll be now...even when April stops):
1. Train Trouble
A friend of mine gets her hair done with some sort of special treatment...and must go to Queens to get it done. She told me all about her recent experience... She took the train (LIRR, which was already running 7 minutes late) to change at Jamaica, and found out on the Jamaica platform that the connecting train would not be stopping at Woodside, due to an emergency on-board. But...my friend's hair appointment was in Woodside. NOW WHAT? She was already running late because of the first train.
She waited for the emergency to be sorted, pacing, checking in with train personnel...nervous, annoyed, frustrated, the works. She thought about just going back home, or calling a taxi, or finding a bus...but at the very last minute, as the doors to the departing train began to close, she heard the train worker yell to her, "they're stopping at Woodside, they cleared it up!" She ran in, quickly.
She arrived in Queens, and found the location of her hairdresser. However...as she approached the building that she'd been to so many times before...she found it was closed; boarded up. She shook her head; confused. Once again, she was ready to give up and walk away, back to the train...and just go home. But simply out of bewilderment, she turned around. She did a complete 360, and viewed the whole area. Her hairdresser...had moved directly across the street. She dashed in...and was first in line for her hair treatment. She was quite pleased.
What if we didn't worry? What if...it would still be there, whatever IT is? What if we just relaxed into the train ride and enjoyed the scenery, without watching the clock? Would we still get there? I think so. Did the frustration and pacing make the emergency on-board get resolved more quickly? I don't know. I doubt it.
The more I learn about life, people, motivations and communications...the less I know, in general. Truly.
What I do know...is that we can become addicted to these screens. The messages, the statuses, the videos, the interchange...at times it feels like a whole other world, another layer of existence interlaced with this one. It's immediate, it's thought-to-thought. Instant gratification. But...it's not. We are living in the matrix folks...take a few solid days away, with no contact, no status updates, no flashing screens and so on...and see what happens to your mind. To your headspace. To your own, personal freedom to think and clarify and understand yourself. The Internet, just like TV, and all the rest...can brainwash us, if we let it. The more you ingest, the less you think for yourself. Don't get me wrong, it's a great tool. My mother lives in another state and I love sharing photos with her, for example. I have friends spread out across the globe, and Facebook helps connect us. There are positives, to be sure. It's the culture of addiction that worries me. A world of folks who'd rather read and repeat than understand and make a choice. Go wild and think for yourself...it's thrilling, liberating, to live life answering your own questions.
And how vital and important it is for us to interact with each other, face to face. We are losing our social skills to machines, and I think it has huge implications for the younger generations. I'm not suggesting that everyone needs to go frolic outside, just because I love to. We are all different, and different things motivate and drive us. But we need to keep our social skills alive...whatever your interests are, even if you're spiritual. And I'm not one to judge...maybe for some...God, magic, connection, and beauty, are found in cyberspace. Maybe that's the most adventure they get, due to other limitations. For me, it's all found beyond. In the natural world and in the silence of the mind. This is where the divine flows through and inspires. For me.
I am very grateful for those parents, and I know that you're out there, who insist upon outdoor play, playdates with other children, throwing a ball, going to a museum, etc... At the risk of repeating myself, I say again...I think digital technology is important and a great tool for us. But not at the expense of our social skills, of knowing how to have conversations, of knowing how to make eye contact with people. Sharing a smile. Laughing. Crying. Uniting for a purpose.
I have a friend who once told me that he would rather stay in a room all day connecting with his social media friends, than engage the outside world. And, to each their own, to be sure. But I think we have a responsibility to the next generation to lead and model healthier behavior than that. To breathe in life, to gaze at the sky, to appreciate natural beauty. To support and visit our parks and fresh-air spaces. To know what a praying mantis looks like. If our kids don't care about the natural world...why would they be motivated to help us clean it up? Why would they want to help us heal Mother Earth, if they never witness her majesty?
So, it's fitting that my learning curve is centered on nature...for Earth Day.
It was delightful feeling the fresh earth in my fingers, the worms wriggling, the grass beneath my knees, the wind in my hair. I am grateful to have the opportunity and the perspective to enjoy such simple things. I feel blessed that I am someone who feels at home outdoors, not everyone does. So I'm grateful for that connection. Oftentimes, I don't even need to sit and meditate. Just being outdoors does this for me. It plugs me in, clears out the cobwebs from my mind, and helps me to regain clarity. Focus.
Thank you, Mother Earth. You're beautiful and exquisite, and like a great mother, you know just how to heal me. I'll take better care of you, from now on. I'll do my part. <3
My friends...I have a confession to make.
I think I'm mostly full of shit. Apologies, I may curse tonight. It happens. I don't say I'm full of it to be self-deprecating, far from it. Rather, the more I strip away, the more I let illusions fall...the need to think I know things in absolution also falls away. We're all on a journey in this life. We learn as we grow. Sometimes we feel lost and cling to things that help us make sense of the world we live in. Help us to belong to something. So we absorb that, I think. We trade one illusion for another, depending on what we feel we're lacking. Always searching for answers.
There is no resolute answer. For any of it. There is me. There is you. There is experience, understanding, belief, and action. And a great big wheel that keeps spinning us around and around. Keep learning...nope, you fucked that up. Try again. Nope, you still don't get it...here it is again.
As I write about a woman who is...awakening...I chase down countless rabbit holes of knowledge. Some esoteric. Some theoretical. Some academic and historical. I would follow down a path about higher consciousness, enlightenment, spirituality... only to land in a world of demiurges and alien lore. Not my thing. Or chakras and ascending, which says that our spirit bodies can leave us and go frolic around somewhere. Not my thing either. Whether that's Ana's thing remains to be seen. It sure is fun to write about though. But I'm talking about me now.
One theme I touch upon in the book I'm writing is the duality we perceive. Thinking that we are spiritual beings in mortal bodies, and this often lends itself to either being your "physical" self, or being your "spirit" self. Tuning out the physical to resonate with your higher self. A lot of it is fascinating, and I still don't quite get it, I'll be honest with you. I meditate, I find inner peace, I find inner strength...but I certainly don't vibrate in different colors and I don't feel the essence of chairs and I don't see the molecules of the air. I relax, I sort through my issues, I find perspective, I choose to see the best in everyone, including myself... and I get to work.
That's it. There's no floating or chanting or channeling going on. Perhaps in the stripping away, I'm becoming a bit of a realist. And that's okay. As lovely as it can be to muse and ponder and imagine our lives the way we'd like them to be...I believe we must take action. We must. I keep returning to Buddha and the middle way. Head in the clouds, but feet on the ground. I do believe in intuition. And serendipity. And everyday magic. But it can't all be ethereal and whimsical. We've got to kick our own asses and do the work. The inner work. The outer work.
Sometimes we can get lost in the clouds; wondering, dreaming, visualizing. But our lives creep by despite this.
I suppose my point is...balance. A healthy balance of inspiration and dreaming, and good old fashioned work. Get your hands dirty, dig in there. No one else will. No matter how you're "vibing."
I'm turning forty in a few days and I've been reflecting a lot about this stuff, as I get closer to the end of this project, which is in itself, quite a journey. And I'll tell you something...I still feel like a kid a lot of the time. The world always feels new, like there's more to learn. About myself, human nature, and all the big ideas I like to muse about.
And I do.
I could spend hours talking about the universe, or utopia, dystopia, war/peace, all the different religions and schools of thought. Philosophy. Science. Where they might overlap. I enjoy thinking and talking about those things.
But I think to attach to it...to give away your own power, your own strength, the amazing ability we have inside of us, to an esoteric idea that good things are coming if you just sit and wait...is bullshit. Sorry. Like attracts like, yes. But the universe respects ambition and action, I think.
That's me. Unplugged. Dream and imagine, practice gratitude, be kind and open, choose love over fear, have a healthy positive outlook, but fucking do the work. Get out of the ether and get real.
I think the funk I've been in today, the frustrations, have been about one thing: I'm allowed to have a shitty day. And if I spend my time smiling around it, not paying attention to what's going on inside of me, I'll get stuck there. I won't see the lesson. And every time that issue comes up, it will be shitty. Because I didn't do the work, I didn't face it. I didn't dig into myself to ask why I felt the way I did.
I don't believe that life sucks. I think we are here to have a wonderful experience, filled with beauty and joy and connection and everyday magic. I am an optimist. I do feel that we're all the same and connected, yet I feel that we are all individuals, with unique gifts and attributes to share with other. But it was important for me to see and accept that... sometimes, things are just hard. And it's okay to get smacked in the face with something like that, it happens. Things can be hard. But it's how we respond. How we interpret that information. How we choose to experience it. We can get stuck in the funk...or zoom out, learn something, and keep moving forward. Keep learning, keep growing.
But to prance around in la-la land where everything is just loverly, all the time, just doesn't jive with me anymore.
We are spiritual beings, yes. But we live in a physical, real world. We must honor both in our everyday lives. Balance. Merge the two. For me anyway. I enjoy a green juice, I do. But I also indulge in a good bolognese once in a while. Because it's delicious and aromatic and enjoyable. I try to be honest, humble, respectful, and kind. I am spiritual and I wouldn't call myself materialistic. But I won't denounce the comfort and ease of making a decent living. I've earned it. I won't apologize for it.
And I won't feel guilty if I earn even more money. I work my ass off; I see no issues or conflict in spirit in knowing your value and worth. Money is the currency and result of our hard work, dedication, sacrifice, ethic, and generosity. We give of ourselves in service, production, labor, or other efforts, and we should earn what we put out.
So. Forty. Bring it on. I feel younger than ever. I'm focused. I'm smart enough to know that I'm always learning. Humble enough to admit that I don't necessarily know what the hell I'm talking about, but I really just write for myself anyway. Secure enough to admit that I'm a big nerd, I like my glasses, I don't care that I don't "fit in." I rarely wear makeup; it feels like gloop. It's unnatural to me. And I still see myself as beautiful. Not because I'm arrogant, but because I'm grounded enough to know that we're all inherently beautiful and flawed. We're people, not statues. I'm not afraid to face fears. And you know what? I'm having a lot of fun. I've found passion again, for living, for the basic notion of being alive. I love my life. I embrace where I've been and I know where I'm going, and I'm enjoying and appreciating the ride. I have amazing, supportive, real, honest, nonjudgmental friends and family. And I include coworkers and colleagues as friends because that's just how I roll. I love 'em all.
Perhaps my forties will be the best years... forward, please. All ahead, full.
(Disclaimer: I had watched a past Steve Maraboli broadcast on FB today, which inspired me, in case there is overlap. Not plagiarism, just inspiration. Sometimes I reiterate ideas that resonate, they all mish-mosh in my head. But check him out. Brilliant. Real deal, no hocus-pocus, effortlessly relatable.)