Looking back and thinking forward

Month: December, 2013

Bearing me gently

Quote of the day:

1). Break all the rules!
2). Go as fast as you can in the direction of your dreams until apprehended.
Join me! Make a New Year's resolution! Bill Ayers.

For 2014, my resolution is to try not to make rules or resolutions. Acceptance of self is key for me. No more thoughts of self alteration or fixing me up. I just want to learn to like me. Get to know what I want and need, and how to set boundaries that will help me feel safe. Since I was a child I was brain washed to believe all kinds of myths about who I am. And lately, I get it! I don't possess hardly any of those characteristics that were so indelibly ascribed to me. Mostly, I was taught not to believe or validate my feelings.

Myths turn into truths. And oh, I have raged. Yes indeed. Within and without. Have tried to explain and prove to dispel those truths. To no avail. So, this year, I want to rummage around in my brain and discover the real me. I feel like I am half discovered to myself already. Perhaps even three quarters of the way to understanding and accepting a different version of me. 

I cannot go it alone. This in itself is a realization that brings me comfort. Have tried so desperately to go it alone for so long. Now, I plan to gather around me those who accept and support who I really am. Keep them close, spiritually, emotionally, virtually, and if possible, physically.

I hope to disengage from toxic systems, and shame – and breathe in more light. This might even become my mantra to accompany me through the days ahead. Am really not sure quite how to go about any of this, because it feels like such unchartered territory. But I already have around me a network of souls, who have borne me ever so gently thus far. Each day, I gather more and more strength from them, and lately I have noticed that fear is dissipating. 

So, as 2013 comes to an end, I look back and see that it has been extremely eventful for me at every level: professionally, emotionally, and especially psychologically. Indeed thinking forward, I am full of hope, even excitement, and quite prepared to experiment with my Self further on the journey ahead.

A year ago at Mining Nuggets: A writer's blog

For unto us …

Photo 1

So what on earth does a Jewish-born-atheist-teetering-on-Zen-Buddhist find so attractive about Christmas? Indeed, I have asked myself that question many times over the years, and a few days ago I realized, as I was putting out our three nativity tableaus, from Mexico, Peru and Kenya, on the dining room hutch, that one of the reasons I love this holiday as much as I do, is directly related to its central story. In fact, I noticed that I was laying out each scene with extreme care and quite a loving feeling in my heart. I even placed a candle at each end to lighten the way for the displays of that sacred family.

Photo 2

Although the story was not new to me, it struck me at a different emotional level than before. I thought almost out loud: "It's the holiday that celebrates the birth of an infant. A child, who was born to save us all!"

Photo 3

Annie Lennox singing, As Joseph Was A Walking, reminds us that the birth of that holy infant happened in the humblest of circumstances. Together with her African children's choir, they warble "Hallelujah" at the joy in His coming. 

I think to myself, well, who wouldn't want to celebrate such a story? And especially me – an early childhood teacher educator. For my life's work is about advocating for quality, caring relationships with young children. I believe that each child is born with the potential to make enormous contributions to her family, society, and even to the whole, wide world. Children are born with hope for the future. As we receive each new-born infant into our homes, hearts, and societies, we have the power and responsibility to welcome her with open arms and enormous compassion. Children bring light to our lives and hope for a better tomorrow.

It is a beautiful story. Worthy of celebrating. And people do – with candles, twinkling lights, gifts, songs, prayers, and much good will in their hearts. I join in happily. In fact, along with our tradition of acquiring one new ornament for our tree each year, I also find myself searching for new nativity scenes. I stop myself from buying them because I become embarrassed for me – you know – being that Jewish-born-atheist-teetering-on-Zen-Buddhist person that I am!

This year, as I search for yet another tableau portraying that sacred little family surrounded by well wishers, and lowly, manger animals, I will reflect on all young children out there, but especially those who are relationship deprived. Those, who are excluded and humiliated, treated with disrespect, and especially those who crave for, and so desperately need, our attention and acknowledgement. I will see them in each holy infant of every nativity scene. And I will know that my work will never be done in advocating for all young children everywhere, who deserve our love and compassion.

Oscar and his “blankie”

When Oscar arrived in our home seven months ago, his first human mother brought a couple of his toys with him. She was sensitive and caring, and knew that Oscar would feel more comfortable in his new home with toys that they had played with together when he was a wee kitten. Indeed, Oscar has been true to both his toys, but especially to the ball at the end of a string with the gentle sound of a maraca when it is being shaken around. To be fair, his toy is a bit tattered these days. It arrived with Oscar in the summer attached to a pole so that humans could wave the ball in the air for him to jump up and catch. The soft fabric that enveloped the ball was hanging off by then – dangling to one side – a sign that the toy was already well used. One day, after watching Oscar fly around, jumping up in the air, and tumbling to the carpet with the speed of a circus acrobat, Mimi settled down quietly and chewed off the pole leaving just a long, thin piece of string attached. It did not spoil the fun for Oscar, because humans are capable of holding onto the string without the pole, and Oscar still, seven months later, adores to dance and shuffle, chuck and jive with his toy. 

One Sunday afternoon, my close friend and neighbor was visiting for our usual visit with a cup of tea and the special gluten free cookies that she loves to eat. As we sat on the sofa chatting about this and that, Oscar wandered into the living room, dragging the ball and string with the piece of fabric trailing along at the edge of it. He set it down at my feet. We both laughed – my friend and me. I explained about the history of the toy, and told her how he loves to play with it. "Ah!" she sighed. "It's his blankie," she said. No one understands small children better than this friend of mine. In fact, her work is with young toddlers – the most challenging and rewarding job of all! And, if there is one thing she understands, it's that a young toddler needs her blankie – for comfort, confidence, and an all round feeling of well-being. Just as Oscar's first human mother had understood. He would need his blankie to ease his transition when coming to his new home.

This morning, I slept in late – all the way to 5:30 a.m. As I lay there under the warm comforter, fast asleep, through my dreams came the sound of a maraca. I felt a soft tap on the tip of my shoulder, that was exposed outside of the covers. When I opened my eyes, Oscar was sitting up straight, looking directly at me. He was waiting. I looked down at his feet, and there lay the ball, soft fabric dangling to the side at the end of the string. I smiled at him. "You brought me your blankie," I whispered so as not to wake Life Partner. "Come on then," I continued, as I rose up, slipped on my shoes and cardigan to greet the cold morning.  I shoved the ball into my pocket, and wandered up to my study to start the coffee. As I walked up the stairs, the gentle sound of a maraca beckoned Oscar up with me. He, who usually runs and gambols about the house like an energetic young toddler, pitter-pattered up each stair next to me, quietly and seriously keeping a close watch on the pocket in my pants that contained his blankie.


Morning rumination

I guess self reflection is never done. We don't just self reflect, have epiphanies, and then everything works itself out. Self work is all about a few steps forward and then some back. So many metaphors describe that process that it would be boring for me to write about them here or now. I think I am thankful when the regressions are fewer and farther between, and when I can hold still with the good feelings for longer periods of time. That way, there is always hope for progress. Perhaps that would make me a cup-half-full type of person? I remarked something about that to Life Partner yesterday as we walked in the charming snowy streets of Chestnut Hill on our way to purchase groceries to make a pot of beef stew. He had been craving a steaming hot, nourishing, thick stew for awhile, and so decided to pull out his old beloved crock pot and make one. As our shoes and boots crunched through the fresh snow on the ground I said, "There are two kinds of people in the world. Those who see the beautiful white snow all around, and those who warn of the slushy dirt that comes shortly after." "Yeah," he responded immediately. "There are those who complain when it's hot, and then again when it's cold." I suppose it is good to be warned of the future "slushiness" of life, right at the moment of enjoying pleasure in the wonder of nature and its snow, snow, snow. I mean, to be prepared, you know! I just prefer to hold still with the pleasure, feel the joy to the depth of my being, and then worry about the disasters of the world later, if and when they come upon me. On the other hand, surprises – good or bad – can be very disconcerting. Ho hum. Complexity! Neither good nor bad – black nor white – but grayish. That's more like it, really. So perhaps there are not just two kinds of people in this world – but a whole bunch of all kinds, with complex feelings, hopes, dreams, joys, desires, and, certainly, with all manner of ways of expressing it all.

Two years ago at Mining Nuggets: Becoming includable; & Becoming includable – Part II

Another option: When survival meets reality

My morning list about giving another option:

  • Another way of thinking.
  • A different perspective.
  • An alternate reality.
  • A different truth.
  • Another belief.
  • New ideas.
  • Different ways to solve problems.
  • Another way of understanding.
  • Conflicting emotions.
  • Survival meets reality.
  • Looking back and thinking forward.
  • Gathering up the pieces.
  • Exploring what we know against what we have learned.
  • Breaking down walls.
  • Rolling aside boulders.
  • Chipping away at old paradigms.
  • Changing the emotional script.
  • Developing a new self-image.
  • Opening my eyes.
  • Taking off the sunglasses.
  • Clearing away the clutter.
  • Independent thought
  • New ways for self expression
  • Cognitive dissonance
  • Clearing the view
  • My survival affects how I hear you

The hardest part of self alteration is when my survival meets reality. For, as a young child, I learned to survive by repressing feelings, needs, and being ashamed or felt undeserving for having them – even to doubt that I had them at all! Now, as an adult, I am faced with a different reality. That is, I am deserving, and my feelings and needs are valid. And yet, shame and doubt still flies up in the face of my fear for survival. 

More and more I am able to face my shame and doubt with less and less fear. For years I felt as if I was up against an impenetrable wall. Lately, I realize I have been chipping away at that metaphorical wall, and, somehow, have turned it into a mere boulder in the middle of the road. I have been able to climb over, or maneuver myself around the boulder, and still it stands there – like a large, heavy lump, in my path. 

These past couple of months, I have moments – almost like a revelation – when I feel as if the boulder has been rolled aside, and the way forward is clear and free. I sense feelings of peace, and freedom, almost as if I could fly away

For me, education (and therapy) is about giving or receiving another option – cognitive and/or emotional. This morning, I am grateful for both: education and therapy.