As I reflect on the totality of my life up until this present time, I have become aware that it has been a continuous process of initiation. At 11:23pm on, Sept. 24, 1943, after 9 months of preparation, I emerged into this world, on the Southside of Chicago. This was my first initiation, unless you believe as I do in the continuous cycle of life and death, then this might have been my, for a lack of an accurate number, my millionth initiation. Some where in my readings I recall that some one asked the Buddha about the number of rebirths he had had, his reply was, ‘If you take the remains of all my incarnated bodies and piled them one on top of another, they would stack higher then the tallest mountain.’ This reply sounds apocryphal, but it gives a vivid vision of the eminence period of time that life revolved upon this earth, and its infinite continuity
I left my family.
How many of us women, wives, mothers have left? How many want to? Need to?
It was only for a couple of days. I went to my mother. The irony. Our past relationship is one of the reasons I have walked through the world protecting myself from the need to need anybody. But, I’m growing up. I went to my mom—anyway— and she was there.
She opened her door—could hardly believe her eyes I was standing in front of her. It felt good to be there. By day two, crawled up in a blanket she put on me, I began to feel a twinge of guilt. I was away from my own family and the guilt was probably a sign I was doing something I had not done in a while—take care of my self.
I don’t know all of the reasons I left, but my guess is any woman, mother, wife reading may know a reason or two. What I did discover: the pain that caused me to pack a bag and look into my husband’s eyes and say, “I’m leaving” was no longer seeing my reflection, the essence of who I am in my family—the one container I have put everything in to.
To put it another way— I lost myself in my family and not received a dividend for my investment except depletion and resentment. I desired them to fill me up as my cup ran dry, believing this reasonable, and I resented they couldn’t or wouldn’t. And when the water in our new home stopped working due to a frozen pipe, I had to leave.
For years I endured far worse than a frozen pipe. But, somehow this broke me.
It was this pipe that brought me back home. I had to let the service technician in. The water is flowing again. As for me, I am restored enough to see with new eyes, remembering my gaze is needed here in this home because a mother and a wife is what I am. It’s what I have chosen to do. But—my gaze is also needed to stay within my very own soul, a place I must return again and again for restoration, peace, clarity and wisdom.
The Soul Reporter
I came down on my kids kind of hard yesterday. Sometimes we need to say what needs to be said.
My oldest streamed tears. My youngest sat stone faced.
I am learning—of course now when one is grown and the other is near—that parenting, good parenting is simple. I admit I have not yet found this simple application, but I have observed my own parenting and that of the culture. We have moved from an authoritative paradigm—do as I say because I am the adult—to liberal parenting—tell me how you feel. Not sure either work well. I was never the authoritative type. I like giving my kids as much space as possible. I am a believer of expressing feelings, and went the more liberal route. Now, I’m not sure. Now, I am wishing I would have been more strict, voiced more of my expectations and even pushed them.
I work with kids who call teachers bitches and if confronted they say, well I was mad. This is one result of liberal parenting/schooling. I am second-guessing the tell me how you feel paradigm because can kids really do this? Can they really process their emotions? Adults can hardly do this, although perfectly within their capabilities if they choose to do so. But kids— I am not so sure. If anything, kids just learn how to work it: well I was mad….well my dad is in jail….
We took my daughter and her friend to an amusement park this weekend. We bought them dinner and gave them two free wrist bands for unlimited rides. When we went to meet them, a grandmother was talking to the girls. I asked my daughter what she was talking to them about. I got the usual—nothing. My husband went to find the woman and ask her. The girls were flicking small children in the ears and telling them they are annoying.
I waited until the next day (yesterday) to unload my disgust. She needed to hear these are not our values. That her insecurities about herself does not give her permission to harass the vulnerable. Stone faced. I am not a perfect parent. She has seen and heard some things I wished she hadn’t. Life has been tough for her already. But— I have been here for her. I have been (mostly) stable. I am supportive and have put her first. And, I feel I have lost control. This stinky society of social media and bad television and sex obsessed music is raising my child. I tried, with a Waldorf education for her first few years of school to shelter her, but I lost the battle. Or I gave up, feeling weaker than the culture.
It’s time to take back the reigns.
My oldest does not harass the vulnerable, but I fear I sheltered her too much. I wanted her to have all I didn’t. I supported her acting dreams. I gave her stability and comfort, thinking this would be a foundation on which to stand and make a life better than my own. I feel she is afraid to step out and do so. I wonder where is her courage. This is what I got on her about.
I told them both it is unfortunate they did not see me when I was in my 20′s. When I was brave. When I had a child at 20 and took care of her. When I faced demons inside of myself, those of my upbringing. And let go of a relationship that was too dependent, faced my fear of being alone so I could find myself. They missed the days of their mother’s courage. Mostly what they see now is the mid-life wreck that is left—the worn out and tired mom. The disappointed mom who can’t wrap her head around what I thought was the right thing in my parenting and seeing that maybe none of it made a damn bit of difference. That I missed whatever simpler parenting is.
As I ask—or as I did yesterday—demand to see the courage of my children, I demand to see my own too. Courage is what the youngest will need to feel her feelings instead of protect herself from them, to release herself from the cycle of numbness to the point of hurting others. The oldest will have to find hers so she can build a life she wants to live, or just a life beyond the comfort of our walls. And I have to have the courage to trust life and myself again, resurrecting from the wreck.
I look for the light. I long for it and my looking and longing are finally turning into something stronger. I am more willing to fight for it- to fight against they dying of the light and this takes courage.
May our New Year be filled with more light and more courage as we live our days,
The Soul Reporter
Good thoughts will produce good actions and bad thoughts will produce bad actions. Hatred does not cease by hatred at any time; hatred ceases by love. ~Buddha
“They” say write what you know. I will add—write what you don’t know, but desire to know. I also say, write what you experience. This is what I do here at The Soul Reporter, and specifically I am going to begin to focus in on what I experience day-to-day—somewhat of a new focus here at The Soul Reporter.
Daily, I am with kids (our future)—middle-schoolers—my own and the ones I work with who have been labeled by the education system with various learning disabilities and also EBD (emotional/behavioral disorder).
I remember our daughter, Lilli’s third grade teacher telling us she wasn’t reading like the other children. I recall the day I sat in a room with teachers, psychologists and specialists telling me she had a learning disability (unspecified).
Tonight at dinner, Lilli told me a special ed teacher pulled out a group of kids to take a test in Social Studies. Lilli said, “And I wasn’t one of them.” It’s been a long road. Lilli now only qualifies for special education for math (frankly, at 41 I would qualify for this too). However, we aren’t out of the woods yet.
At Lilli’s last IEP (individualized education plan) meeting where she was reevaluated for services, they tested her to see if she qualified for the EBD label. She didn’t, and had she I would have protested. “They” tell you this label will allow the educators to take better care of the child’s needs. Although their intentions may be in the right place, I have seen this label also mean it is the beginning of the educational system giving up on that student.
The issue with this is many of the kids are already giving up on themselves. And, so I don’t get burnt out and give up on them, which I run the risk of daily, I am going to use this blog as an outlet and my hope it might become a resource for others. Therefore, to begin here is what I discovered today:
We must build—in small ways—toward courage, wisdom & greater self-esteem.
I worry about the kids I see who walk out of class and wander the halls. I worry about my own who asks to stay home at least once a week and skips gym class. There was a time I still worried about my own adolescent self as an adult, having constant dreams about trying to get to class but not being able to. I skipped most of high school. I hung out at Burger King, in cars or the grocery store—anywhere but class.
It remains one my greater regrets. It seems almost impossible to have a 13-year old care they will regret skipping class someday. And sometimes I hope they do regret it. If they regret, it means there has been a shift in consciousness for them. If they don’t regret it, to me it means they are still lingering in old patterns. For me, skipping class was a pattern of not showing up I worked on every day I didn’t show up. Everyday, I also told myself the next day I would show up, but I rarely did. I get that math and science and other subjects seem like a big waste of time, and maybe they are. But, showing up is a good practice, which can begin in school. To show up is a discipline that is needed to build character, courage, wisdom and greater self-image.
It is why I use the quote from Buddha above. The bad thoughts we have about ourselves as teenagers can be so severe our actions make us hide and act out negatively. This, when practiced continuously will weave us into a life we may or may not get out of. I did. I went onto college. Not necessarily for the degree, although it helped me get my current job, but to show myself I could do well in school. I made the B honor roll every semeseter. I showed myself I wasn’t dumb. I learned my issue wasn’t brain power, it was a lack of using my inner power.
It helps me to relate to the kids in this way—to see they lack confidence. Because this seems like something, which can be worked with. For instance, Lill still asks me to order for her at restuarants. She lacks the confidence to look the waitress in her eye and tell her what she wants. I asked her today to consider doing small things, like order for herself. Doing these small things daily (and she may need to start even smaller) will work her inner courage. These small things will eventually be what increases the inner power she already has and will be a great power, which can and will move her beyond negative thoughts, and therefore negative actions.
If you find this topic helpful, please pass this blog on to parents, educators—anyone who is interested in our future, which are these kids. Thank you.
The Soul Reporter
I had my final writing class last night- Intermediate Memoir: Forming (or maybe it is Shaping) the Longer Work. We ended with appetizers, snacks, wine and 10-minute readings from our manuscripts.
A couple of weeks ago, I put together 64 pages of a manuscript. This class helped me to finally, after 10 years of gathering material for my memoir, see a form that resembles a book. But, before I could keep adding to those 64 pages, I decided to take advice from a classmate and sign up for another writing class this past weekend.
By the middle of the first class, everything I thought I knew and was ready to implement into my book was breaking down and shelving my book, yet again, seemed like a good idea. But, I stuck with it. The instructor ensured us the first day was about demolition and the following day would be about building.
Demolition-the breaking down of ideas and beliefs is not easy. If we allow for it, we will move out of a space we are familiar and comfortable with and enter a new space. However, often before a new space appears, we sit in the rubble of what we thought we knew or was enough.
Joseph Campbell said, “The agony of breaking through personal limitations is the agony of spiritual growth. Art, literature, myth and cult, philosophy, and ascetic disciplines are instruments to help the individual past his limiting horizons into spheres of ever-expanding realization. As he crosses threshold after threshold, conquering dragon after dragon, the stature of the divinity that he summons to his highest wish increases, until it subsumes the cosmos. Finally, the mind breaks the bounding sphere of the cosmos to a realization transcending all experiences of form- all symbolizations, all divinities; a realization of the ineluctable void.”
I’m not quite ready for that void, but remain committed to the ever-expanding realization. I thought my writing, those 64 pages were good, that I was off to a good start. I was. I am- it’s further than I have been. But, before I could fully relish in this and get too comfortable, I took myself to a class, allowing for new knowledge. It causes me to question what I thought I was just coming to understand.
Even now, I see this post as being all inner monologue (a term I learned this weekend, which I do a lot of). The instructor says it’s not that interesting. I remember when writer Melody Beattie told me I can’t use my journals as my books. I was devastated. It was all I had. Hearing inner monologue isn’t interesting devastated me again.
So before I bore you any longer with my inner process, my take away (another term I learned) I want to give you, which is not something I am supposed to tell, but show- is we must live spherically, or go crazy, we shall.
I heard this in Under the Tuscan Sun, and it sticks. I don’t know what they meant by it, but I know what I take from it. We must keep expanding and opening to new thought inside and outside of ourselves. We do this for growth, to align with evolution. We do this so we don’t become crazy loopers w hen we are old.
What the hell are crazy loopers? Its something I am observing in some people lately-mostly people in their 50′s, 60′s and 7o’s. It would seem they have attached themselves to a certain story or aspect for themselves, and they loop within it over and over again. Read this piece from Elephant Journal I wrote where I go into this further.
For now, I think the link above (that is, if you click and read) will give you the rest of the message I want to share.
Here’s to living spherically,
Perhaps it is middle-age—that time where we reflect upon our lives and know we haven’t as much time to do what we want to do—that caused my current bout of dissatisfaction. I realize what I truly want is to affect change, to be a change agent in my own life and the lives of others—and I want to see the changes and know I had a part. I also realize this is partly ambition and ego. Yet, it is also a real ache to feel and know the reason I am here.
In my mind I don’t think I have done enough to express this desire to be a change agent. And maybe it is I also don’t acknowledge the influence I have had on affecting change in myself and others. But, since realizing this about myself I am starting to notice how I am of service, and also how I might of more service to affect change.*
I work at a school. My job is to assist students in the classroom to stay on task, redirect behavior and provide academic support. However, I find there is another kind of support some students are in need of.
Yesterday I knew I would be unable to perform my job in the classroom with a particular student. I knew there would be no work that would get done. Instead she needed to leave the room. She wanted to show me something. She lead me to the front doors, and I had hoped she wouldn’t try and leave. She stopped at the doors and looked out. She wanted to watch the snow fall.
As we both sat and watched, she began talking. I listened and asked some questions. A part of my mind was also rambling about how I should get her back in class and at least look productive. Yet, the wiser part knew this moment, watching the snow fall while she shared what was on her mind, was also productive—in an even greater way perhaps, than learning about weight and gravity in Science class.
Before her next class she took me to another window to look at the snow. I told her she needed to get to class and she did oblige. I sensed she needs more moments looking out a window with someone willing to listen. Today, another student wanted to show me pictures her father drew and a picture of him. She has only met him twice. The envelope with the pictures was from a correctional facility. I told her I would love to look at them as soon as she did her work, which she did and I thanked her for sharing this part of her with me.
Later in class, the student who needed time to look at the snow wrote my full name on a piece of paper in her diary. By each letter she wrote something nice about me beginning with the letter. The words she chose for me brought tears to my eyes— words like Divine, Real, Kind, Ordinary. Phrases such as like a kid (because I understand kids, she said).
If you recall my previous post, I was seeking a connection to someone (or myself or God) who knew me— who saw me for who I am. I never thought it would come in the form of an 11-year old girl. I plan to ask her for a copy so I can remember.
This list and the trust these two young girls have with me— sharing their thoughts and pictures of and from their father lets me see in small and ordinary ways I am making a difference.
Here is a woman I recently read about making a difference in a simple, yet profound way by giving hugs: http://amma.org/
*What I mean by change is having the courage to go against the current norms of our culture and connect with a richer, truer part of ourselves. It is not necessarily change as much as it is turing toward something that is always within us, that is real and lasting. This is the movement I choose to be part of for myself and others.
Last night I cried myself to sleep. I’m tired of certain things and I feel strongly about making some shifts. I won’t go into what I am tired of. But, I will say last night I asked for a companion, … Continue reading
In an attempt to write once again on this blog, in light of Thanksgiving I went back to older posts and found this from a year ago….
The other day I made a list. The idea to do so arrived spontaneously.
I will write down everything I am unsure about—all of the issues and questions, currently outstanding, which remain, for now, in the mystery.
As I made the list, I was amazed at how many unanswered questions I have about my life. I would imagine I am not alone here. But, I did wonder how many had some of the questions I had, especially in mid-life? Will I have a home again—and when and where? Will I have friends? Will my children recover from our accident? Will I find work? Will I finally be able to sit down and write my books? This barely begins the list.
It brings solace to know some of my unanswered questions, a year later, have answers. I do have a home again. We moved in July. I found work in April. My daughters are doing well. And, in September I won a scholarship to a writing class. I have written 65 pages of a memoir, which has been in pieces, disassembled for 10 years.
Life falls apart, and comes together again.
Hello. It has been a long while since regularly contributing to my blog. I want to begin contributing again, but I am a bit stuck. I don’t seem to know what to write about. Currently, after several years of gathering material for my memoir, I have begun putting together all of the pieces. Thanks to a memoir class at The Literary Loft Center in Minneapolis, I see what is becoming a book. I’m pretty excited. This, work, family and basically recuperating from a long, difficult journey is what has consumed me- instead of writing on this blog.
This all said….those of you who have been followers of my blog, and familiar with what I have written in the past, I would like to ask you what you liked, what you might like more of and maybe, what didn’t work. For those new here, what would you like to read about? What are you struggling with? What are you searching for, if anything? It seems a little odd I am asking for others input about what I should write. But, honestly I feel completely blank and yet, I want to write. And, so I’m bringing it to you. I look forward to your feedback and suggestions.
FYI: Topics I’ve written on in the past: spirituality, personal growth, personal stories, parenting, relationships, home- and I’m open to whatever else.