16Aug

An Old Prayer for Our Kids

I want you to have love, success and happiness.

These things come from you, to you.  It assumes a grounding of stability.

Stability is created from Discipline. 

Discipline is a result of saying no to yourself when you look at consequences that will be negative.

Growth is a result of all of these things.

Please choose growth.

 

The Paradox of Parenting

It doesn’t matter how perfect you are as a parent – what your child takes from you is uniquely your child’s.  This does not mean to be lazy or sloppy as a parent — because what you do matters.  Yet, your children must travel their own unique journeys.

20Jan

Death unto Life

If you have experienced the death of a loved one, you know what dying means.  We instinctually know that death is the end.  Nothing goes past death.  We can remember, we can believe in heaven and the afterlife.  However, for us, the living, death is the end, life is over.  You get no comfort from your loved one. ever. again.  Your loved one will never touch you, talk to you, smile at you or laugh with you.  It is a daunting reality.  No wonder that we indulge ourselves in denial.  No wonder that we walk around referring to our loved one as if the one is still here and alive.  We cannot, do not accept the absence of the one we love.

As the days and the years run forward, reality rolls on and you experience more and more the absence of your beloved.  You cannot deny the absence as years go by.  You cannot deny the ending of what was once a beloved life.  You must surrender to the ending.  You must surrender to the absence of your loved one.

So many try to pull the life forward, as if pretending the loved one still exists on earth will keep the loved one alive.  I don’t believe that sentimentality helps.  I saved many, many of my mother’s things after my mother died, only to relinquish bit by bit, painfully spreading out the separation.  My grief kept me from living in the present.  I lost myself in the grief.  I just did not want to let go of her.  I mistakenly believed that her things would transmit a piece of her heart to me.  It took a long time to separate her things from her.  It took a long time to know that she really was gone.

I do not wish to have done anything differently, the death of a loved one is ‘life interrupted’.  There is nothing you can do to change the reality of your grief.  

I just know today, that nothing could be different.  Not any amount of bargaining, denying or trying, could make my mother’s death different, nor could it have made my grief different.  My resistance did not change anything.  Hanging onto my mother’s things did not sooth my loss.  My loss was my loss.

Today is the eleventh anniversary of my children’s father dying suddenly of his one and only heart attack.  I hope that my children are not bargaining, denying and resisting the truth of today.  I hope that they can embrace the grief of the day and then walk away from the day.

 

08Oct

Worrying Crowds my Brain and Pain makes Me Dumb

I have made a couple of poor decisions in the last couple of weeks, and, I cannot apologize.  Those decisions have come from a brain crippled with worry.  At my age, one gets very good at disciplining the emotive side of the brain.  My brain leans towards the analytical thinking side on most days anyway.  But, when I worry for my children, I turn into a full blown idiot.

There is something primal about love for children.  Specifically, it is a love that has no cause, it is simply consuming; part of the universal law of survival.  To concern ourselves with our offspring is to ensure that life goes on.  Perhaps this is why parental love is so enduring and encompassing.  It must be, or humans would perish from the earth.  (I digress.)

My daughter, my youngest, coincidentally, also the smallest.  She is the fiercest mother I know.  She has had to be, the challenges are astronomical.  I have heard that her situation is more and more common in today’s world.  My daughter is held hostage 800 miles from her home and family because of the fact that she had a child with a resident of a state that she visited.  This hostage situation has turned into the worst nightmare for her and (of course) by extension to her family.

The most common activities that I can take for granted with my other grandchildren are an impossibility.  My daughter has two sons, both handsome, smart and kind.  I cannot see them unless I buy a plane ticket and they are an impossible driving distance away.  (But enough about me.)

Imagine my daughter’s life, no familial support, an ugly and mean man as the father of one of her sons.  Every time she works she needs a paid babysitter, must do all of the driving, and all details of life sit squarely on her shoulders.  Getting the boys to school Monday morning can be a huge ordeal because her work schedule may keep her into the wee hours of the day.  Most difficult, most painful, is the fact that she is alone – and for the time being – nothing can change that.  So when a trauma occurs; can you imagine the length of the long distance calls?  When that trauma cannot be remedied; can you imagine the tears cried into a pillow, no strong shoulder to cry on here?  When the worry for her children cannot be abated, the suffering begins to show in her body, her eyes, her life.  Because this suffering has gone on so long, it becomes a pervasive part of this life.

I know for sure that this suffering will end.  It has been going for so long, I know that it must stop.  In the meantime what damage has been done?  What hurts have been internalized?

I also know for sure that the best path for me is not to be her mother and tell her what and how to do.  This fierce woman is in survival mode.  My best path is to be the quiet and kind friend.  Please, please God, deliver us from this evil and give me back my daughter and grandsons.

26Nov

A Letter to my Grandsons: (There will be more.)

Be aware of the primal part of you, being aware allows you to have some control over the primal animal that lives within.

Sex is necessary and good, hopefully you will meet others who believe the same thing.  Acknowledging the presence of something reduces the power of that thing.

Life needs to be out in the open.  Secrets are a tool of control and almost always inappropriate.  Witness the epiphany of the early part of the 21st century, understanding what people were really doing was an instrumental feature of justice.

Make decisions and change those decisions when necessary, clarity and flexibility are fantastic attributes to have.

Love your family and treat them as your faith tells you.  Not all members of your family will honor you.  There will be times when they will treat you badly.  Decide wisely how you will live with your family.

Giving is a gift unto itself.  Don’t expect anything in return for your gifts.

Acceptance of you is one of the most important things that you will ever do.  By accepting yourself, you stop all enemies from gaining leverage via your self esteem.  “Yes, I know I have that fault, dastardly isn’t it?”  Or “yes, I am aware that it is more popular to like the color white, however, I like the color brown.”

What is the collective unconscious?  What is natural knowing?  What is instinct?  These are all questions in which you will be part of the answer.  Be aware of the universe, your awareness will serve you well in life.  Religious dogma has not served humans for centuries.  However, kinship and fellowship are found in churches and synagogues; use them to keep yourself and your family well.

Do not be that old angry man.  Bitterness is anger that hardens into a stiffness that cannot be softened.  Do not be that.  You should know that in the end what matters is how you decide to live.  Bitterness is an angry decision that must be renewed every day.  Decide not to be that and not to have that in your life.

If you do not know what drives your anger and pain, find out.  If you don’t do that, then relinquish.  Hanging onto your anger and pain is the most awful decision that you can ever make.  Discover, relinquish and then banish that which hurts you and angers you.

Your chosen journey is as good and as necessary as anyone else’s.  Don’t allow any devaluation of you.

Protect and love others: just as you cannot allow yourself to be devalued, do not allow others to be devalued.  In your presence, all must be equally valued.

02Aug

To the Woman Complaining because of Criticism that She Doesn’t Want Children

Look, I know you are upset because of all of the personal questions and negative feedback.  I have always felt put-out that my lifestyle is a bit different and people don’t like different.  We all want to validate our own lifestyle and so we are full of compliments for folks who mirror our lifestyles.  When people do not mirror our own lifestyles, we want to know why and/or ask them to justify their life position.  It’s a human issue, not a particular issue in relationship to your decision not to have children.

It’s not about that, you are personalizing a universally human condition to be right.  Let me just get you to the other side of your question: why do people want to have children?  Let’s ask the justification question from the other side.

I’ll start with some personal stuff: I’ve never been moved more powerfully by anyone over my children.  I think it’s in the DNA, we procreate and we are sincerely in love with our creations.  It’s the kind of love that mesmerizes us and follows us and consumes us.  For years and years we are romanticized by this love and we will go to the ends of the earth to make our passion worthwhile.  We continually work for and teach our offspring.  We want them to be brilliant, beautiful ad successful.  We will invest millions in our offspring’s life to assure this success.

Parents are, however, very clumsy.  Sometimes we do a good job and sometimes we do not.  Sometimes the DNA is just not going to work and our child may have handicaps, both seen and unseen, such as mental illness or developmental disabilities.

I think what people are really saying to you when they question your decision to not become a parent, is this; you will never find a greater love, a greater task and a greater challenge.  You will be forced to learn all kinds of things that you have no interest in knowing, but you will learn because you have to.  You will be motivated in a way that you cannot now imagine, but once you are there you will not know how life was life without your child.  It is a giving that has no boundaries and a taking that does not end.

If you do not have a child, you don’t get the experience.  It is possible that other experiences will be just as wonderful and just as awe inspiring and just as enduring.  Parents just want you to know that you might be missing something.

14Apr

Children’s Grief

Your children’s grief lies upon you like all of the sadness in the world.  It cuts through all conversations and missed conversations as if there is no meaning.

You know grief intimately; and so you know that there is no relief that you can give.  You must stand by and watch the tears flow and absorb the pain that is in the moment.

Unknown Artist

Unknown Artist, Unspeakable Grief

12Apr

Gloria, the Sentinel, Guardian of our Hearts

When you walk through life, there are sentinels.  Sentinels stand guard over us to keep us safe.  Gogi’s job was to guard hearts, and she did.  She guarded everyone’s hearts, not just her family, not just her loved ones, she loved everyone and so she loved us.  You may gain people for your family, you may lose people, but your sentinel is always there.  That is who the mothers are, sentinels for our hearts.  Gogi took this job so seriously, and stayed with us, regardless of our situations or our lives.  I am sure that she became weary towards the end.  But she did not stop guarding us, ever.  Gogi, go peacefully, we will take up arms, you have loved all of us for so very long.  Rest now and receive from us, our love to you.  We love you Gloria and we will not ever forget your love, nor will we forget how you guarded our hearts.And Daylight Turns to Dark

14Dec

Parenting Adults

Is different for everyone.

Is different for everyone.

Don’t try to orchestrate other people’s lives: even if you have given birth or otherwise parented these people. Life often gives us unintended consequences. If you orchestrate another person’s life, you own any consequences, including unintended consequences. If you don’t believe that you do ~ don’t fret, because everyone else believes that you do. The point is that we make life decisions for ourselves, our young children and no one else. The exceptions include, any loved one who has a disease that interferes with thinking; or anyone that you own responsibility for because of mental incapacity.
As I have gotten older I have become acquainted with some obvious American characteristics that I was not aware of earlier in my life. One is that, young people often believe that they know more than older and more experienced people. Another is that older people, particularly parents, believe that they are wiser and know better than younger people.
This disparity in perspectives often causes disagreements and hurt feelings. This can be avoided when we understand a few things. One is that our culture encourages young people to believe that they are superior to everyone (and thus never need direction or advice). Another way to avoid disagreement and hurt feelings is to realize that even though young people may make very bad decisions that take them down dark roads, they own that road.
So while we may believe that we know what is good and right for another, the best approach is to bring the information to the attention of the young person and let them decide. It’s important to bring the young person’s attention to the choosing, because it may bring a dimension to the choice that was not previously realized by your young person.
Like so many human conditions, communication appears to be the answer.

13Dec

Christmas Gifting

We all have our own sentimental thoughts, feelings and beliefs about Christmas gifting and I want to set the record straight about my own philosophy. You can bet that any philosophy I have is related to my own life philosophy about everything.
I remember meeting people that only gave gift cards for Christmas. They would hand out cards to all the members of their own family, uncaring as to whether the gift card was right for that person. I thought that this practice was abhorrent. One should at least care what KIND of gift card was appropriate and even more caring would be a thoughtful gift that actually reflected the care that you have for that person.
We all get nervous about getting the “right” gift for a loved one, but, rather than reacting cowardly and purchasing a gift card, dig deeper and think deeply about the person that you are buying for. Even a silly gift is excellent if it reflects the recipient’s taste instead of your own.
There is the crux of the matter, if you are giving, it must be about the other person that you are giving to, the giving cannot be about you. Otherwise it is not giving.

29Sep

Our Schizophrenic Relationship with Food ~

Our Schizophrenic Relationship with Food ~
I was raised to hoard food. My mother survived the depression in Oklahoma and as a child, she often felt hunger.
We were told to finish our food, no matter what. As a six year old, I sat at the dining room table for 45 minutes because I did not want to eat my greens. I remember that at 10 years old, I had cans of Chunky Campbell’s soup under my bed and I too felt the pain of hunger as I grew up.
Later, as I became a mother and listened to older mothers, there was always love and kisses for chubby baby cheeks and thighs. You were thought to be a good mother if your child was hefty.
My own mother believed that my “skinny” frame was a punishment and insult to her nurturing ability. Some of the things that my family did to celebrate included luscious ham sandwiches with potato chips for lunch. We had ice cream as a very special treat on Sunday evenings.
My mother taught me to use pasta and bread to stretch a meal to feed more people and we always had to stretch. There was never a time when there was just too much food.
We were not allowed to drink soda per se, but kool-aid was thought to be an excellent beverage and we could even drink orange and grape soda on special occasions. Did my parents think that the orange and purple colors indicated fruit juice? I don’t know.

How do we move from this reality to today? Not any of these practices are good for optimum weight and health. To believe that food must be hoarded is to believe that deprivation is right around the corner and this is a harmful and untrue belief. We do not need to eat like a bear to hibernate during a cold winter, when we wake up tomorrow, there will be food.
It is not a good idea to finish all of the food on your plate. Not only do we have too much on our plate at home, but restaurant plate sizes / portion sizes have doubled in the last 40 years. Having a larger stomach means that we eat more, eating more means that we are bigger. We can’t just keep eating because food is served to us. We have to change the way we feel about waste, it is not good to waste food, however and this is a big however, putting that food in our stomach after we are full is the biggest waste of all. It serves no purpose except to make us fat. It’s important that we understand waste in an all new way: waste is eating food after we are full.

Chubby cheeks and thighs are NOT signs of health in a child and definitely not a sign of good mothering. Babies don’t need an extra layer of fat any more than adults do. In fact, it is more harmful to babies to be fat because it is the beginning of a short and uncomfortable life: because if new habits are not formed to change the habit of over-eating, terminal illnesses will ensue.

Pasta and bread are both great fillers, but must be kept in their place – as fillers. If you have a very limited amount of hamburger meat and vegetables, then you may want to increase the size of your meal by adding bread or pasta, however, if there is plenty of meat and vegetables to go around in appropriate portion size, there is no need to add these foods. Particularly bad for humans is processed food of any kind and included in this group is white flour. White flour does not provide the right kind of nutrition, nor does it provide the nutrition intended by having a healthy diet that includes grains. People who do not suffer from celiac disease may find that their wheat intolerance is due to white flour rather than to a plain old whole grain.

I don’t even know where to start with sweet drinks…It’s a difficult subject. I believe this because even though it is generally understood by the public that soda will kill you early, most people who drink soda, continue to drink soda. Even though people know that diet soda is not beneficial in any way, they continue to drink it daily. Even though we know that some sodas have a ton of caffeine, we often see parents purchasing this soda for their children, even young children. Additionally, we all know that drinking red or blue drinks is not natural, yet not only do we drink these colors, but again, we offer them to our children. Why? Why do we continue with these practices? There is something lovely about that sweet flavor in our mouths. We identify it with nurturing, with feeling good and with a myriad of other feelings of satisfaction.

How do we overcome belief structures planted in childhood? How do we stop our brain from believing that happiness is related to food or drink consumption? How do we move away from the belief that our children should be thick around the waist in order to prove they are healthy? How do we get away from the belief structure imbedded in us as children by our parents’ fear of deprivation?
We have to create a new conversation around food, beauty and satisfaction. We cannot say anything specific, as our journey to where we are has been traveled by many different routes. There are many truths that brought us here and we must honor those truths in order to set a new path to health.