Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Words and Rhinoceros Skin

A Mother Life
Originally published on February 21, 2014

It’s all in fun.

They don’t really mean it.

It’s only sarcasm.

That is what they always say. The people who say words that tear down instead of build up. And that is what I hear when others ask me about what is bothering my kids. When I tell them the truth of what is going on I hear things like,

Well, my kid doesn't really know what _____ means

OR my personal favorite

Awww, _____ just needs to grow a thick skin.

Ase a deeply caring person, now 19 and in college. Zany, 18 and a senior in high school, doesn’t simply march to the tune of his own drummer; he has a full marching band. Both are straight dancers. Sometimes the joking was about their sport. Other times it was about their personality. Both bravely faced teasing, joking, ribbing, kidding and unabashed bullying from their pre-teens all the way through their teens.

I've watched both boys filter those ignorant words through their hearts. Because of dance, they have gay friends. They went to an “inner city” school and have friends of all the colors.  The jesting words are not simply letters put together. Those words spoken in ignorance have real meaning to them.

AND it is starting now with her.

GirlyK is logical. Doesn't understand drama or why girls put themselves in that position. Gossip is not interesting. She does not see the rational in comparing herself to another person- you are you and I am me, let’s just get along. Her love of dissecting things and collecting bones creeps people out. She conquered her fear of spiders, and wears them regularly.

I am watching her make the similar choices her brothers made. Watching her skin toughen and not taking a risk in friendships. The reason: whether in jest or seriousness, words have meaning.

Age or success cannot protect us from that word erosion. This week I read an article about Jonathan Martin, a Miami football player. He knew the words were in jest. He understood those who spoke them did not intend harm, but they did.

Why does it matter? Why do words stick to our soul?

Because words created the world. With words God identified Jesus at the baptism. Jesus said …out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. Paul challenges us to not let harmful words come out of our mouths, but only words that will benefit the listener.

We need to stop and taste words before they come out of our mouths:

Photo taken by xandert
Do they have an aftertaste of envy?
Am I angry?
Am I trying to impress?
Sarcasm has a flavor of truth.

Are those words that breathe life, or spread disease? The listener is just as important as the speaker. If our words offend we need to apologize and adapt instead of offering excuse or pandering. Life is hard enough; do we really need to make it harder?

I try to remember these words of wisdom from A Circle of Friends, “You mustn't mess me about. I know I may look like a rhinoceros, but I've got quite a thin skin really. So be careful with me. Or I'll flatten ya."

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Ten Things of Thankful #36

Ten Things of ThankfulI'm trying something a little different today. Writing on the mobile, so pardon the errors. Ase is attending the 24seven Dance convention in LA and wanted me to tag along. I'm sitting in the Westfield Mall, in cleanish air and sunshine.

Ase waiting for a day filled with dancing.
1-Ase is 19-  He could have come to this convention on his own, but he wanted me to tag along. In a season when he could be flying the coop, I am welcome in his life.

2- LA-so many things about this place. The autonomy. The cultural diversity. The beautifully flawed people. Somehow this town is grounding for me.

3- Cleanish air- Central Valley's inversion layer is killing me this year because of the drought. It has been nice to walk about outside and not have a sinus headache or migraine. Two days without a noticeable headache has been a vacation.

4- New Friends-There are a few acquaintances at the studio that I've wanted to get to know.  Not having to bite my tongue, being my quirky self and getting to know them has been beautiful.
A plant wall outside of Gelson's market

5-Gelsons my favorite LA market full of quirky food and across the street from the hotel we are staying at.

6-Dance. Ase told me this week it was what got him through every school day. Knowing he had dance class at the end of each day gave him the strength to deal with the teasing and bullying at school.

7- Good days. I had a really good week. Monday I woke up with energy,a first in over a month. I was able to mop, sweep, clean, laundry, school, work out and cook dinner. ALL IN ONE DAY! The rest of the week I was able to pace and get other things done around the house. It is so nice to be productive.

8- Yoga. I made it to yoga this week. I haven't been able to go since November. To sit and connect with myself in a still, quiet and safe place was grounding.

Beautiful everyday LA sunset.
9-Walking the dogs. because of my good week I was able to walk about  three miles a day without it knocking me out.

10. Technology. I thought I might miss the hop today because of being out of ten and lap topless, but somehow I made it. My heart overflows with wordless gratitudes over so many little things. I cannot wait to get home and read all of yours tomorrow as I stay in my jams all day and recover from my fun hangover.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Shh, They're Listening

Photo taken by hotblack 
Originally posted on November 13, 2013
I must admit, I was out of line.

I didn't ask. I didn't know even though everyone in town seemed to. I purposed to not know. My business was to be her friend, not what events brought her to this place. This sweet friend couldn't believe that I didn't already know. She sat and told me the whole story including her own part.

Then, I opened my mouth. What came out was not the flowers and sunshine usually spoken to this poster child of redemption. I loved her deeply. Her shame needed to drop from her shoulders. Forgiveness needed to be extended to the one who betrayed her. I restated her part. The guilt was equal; it need not define them both for the rest of their lives.

She did not take it well.

Months later the words came back to me twisted and judgmental. My heart ached. Our friendship was mangled. I attempted to reconcile and it seemed we had, but…

Years later, in one of the darkest seasons of my life and newly back in town, I reached out. While I was living away, she developed a friendship with a person very close to me. I was informed that her loyalty was with her.

Last night BoyZ was telling me about a conversation with this woman’s daughter. BoyZ and the daughter cross paths their freshman year in high school. Now seniors, they are best friends. The daughter was telling BoyZ how she hasn’t dated yet because of her Mother’s requirements: christian, etc.

Of course BoyZ is my son…
Photo taken by taliesin

“Why don’t you just date me? That would really piss of your Mom.”

“Why would that piss of my Mom?” She asked in shock.

“Because-for some reason that I don’t understand-your Mom hates my Mom.”  BoyZ is never one to mince words. 

Don’t know where he gets that.

“OH!” A light bulb of understanding lit over her head. “I know what happened. Your Mom was probably just being herself and did something and my Mom is really judgmental. SO she just judged your Mom. And that’s it.”

Damn IT!  When we think we are doing the “right” things, those little buggars are watching

AND listening.

A Mother Life

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Ten Things of Thankful #35a-Loverly Week

Ten Things of Thankful

It’s been a long and busy week. Somehow Valentine’s Day preparations are just as hectic as Christmas-but more fun and without all the anxiety.

Coffee. Without that little jolt of creamy bitterness my morning is simply not the same. Of course it tastes better in cute mugs. *que mad laughter* (Thanks to my friend Kathy for picking them up from Disneyland for me)

Paper Mache-We finished this week, so that means the Valentine mail boxes are ready to receive lovely thoughts. It also means my table, piano, counter and floor are finally clean.

Wearing love-Somehow a tradition started that GirlyK and I wear Valentiney shirts. This year she wanted to make one. Thanks to Me Sew Crazy for this great idea.

Valentines-Each year, GirlyK wants to give Valentines that coordinate with the box she made. This year we used Plumb Adorable’s idea.

Cupcakes-What is Valentine ’s Day without the sweet treat. Our Homeschool group doesn’t observe Halloween, and GirlyK has a love of the macabre, so I suggested we tweak one of those ideas and bring them to the Love Day party. We made Love Bites cupcakes. Wanna bite?

Love Bug: The Love Bug is a little critter who delivers bags of love during the night and leaves them on the foot of the bed. Over the years Christmases have been fat and lean. On the lean years I was grateful for the Love Bug. Some how, the money we didn’t have in December, we would by Valentine’s Day. I love giving gifts and it was nice to splurge on more than candy and a card for them.

Friends- Carried into this week was last week’s icky health. I fought that sinus infection by rinsing my nose out, fatigue, the end of PMDD and fibro simply having a tantrum because everything else wanted attention- it’s like my cells are toddlers. Wednesday I looked like a pinata after the party. I am grateful for friends who care and don’t need me to “get better.” We can peaceably ignore how badly I feel and focus on their lives-which is a great pick-me-up.

That Dog-Yesterday she was picked up by a rescue and is on her way to a new life.Thanks to HALT Rescue and The Kern Project 

Winter-I sat and drooled all week over the snow pictures everyone was sharing. I understand y’all are tired of winter, but a 12 month summer is just not right. I’ve been holding out. Hoping rain would come, the hills would be green and MAYBE wildflowers, BUT
I gave up yesterday. It is never coming. The Water Wars are in full swing which means the summer will be interesting. I put on my capri’s and t-shirt.

Don’t know what to call it- I hit 200 followers on twitter and my blog post Marriage on Ice got 186 views. I’m a little freaked out. For some reason success really scares me; but I’m trying to sit back and enjoy it.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Marriage On Ice

After a long day I curled up next to Counting Mutant in bed. We began our wind down process; he on his ipad and me on my android. Just as I began to feel drowsy, a blog title caught my eye on Twitter: An Olympic Lesson for Husbands and Wives.

Within two paragraphs I laughed. Mutant turned, I read it aloud. He scoffed, “Well, that’s obviously someone who has never partnered.”

I've mentioned a few times that we are a family of dancers. Ase and Zany started dance when they were nine and ten. They practiced, ballet, jazz, modern, tap and hip-hop. They did other sports as well, but in Jr. High they focused on dance. Counting Mutant decided to figure out a way to join them. His thinking was: if they were in football, soccer, baseball, etc. he would help with the team and support them. It so happened that the role of the Nutcracker needed to be filled and Mutant became the wooden hero.

Over the years, the three of them performed together in Nutcrackers, Sleeping Beauty, Romeo and Juliet, Coppelia, and Les Miserables. In order to perform these ballet pieces, our studio formed a partnering class. Partnering at this level-either dance or ice skating- is not as simple as a man leading a woman.

I read it to the boys.

Ase said: That does not sound like ANY partnering class we've been in.

Zany said, “The beauty and perfection cannot happen if one person believes they are better than the other.”

Counting Mutant explains it like this, “There has to be trust and equal effort if not more by the woman. He throws her yes, but she is jumping just as much if not more. There is no leading they equally know the steps. They are coordinating their actions. They have to be equally strong to compete at that level. To learn it and perfect it, there was action, feedback, back and forth, action again, mistakes, coordinated improvement, until the both trust in their coordinated actions. If one is dominating or leading too much, it doesn't work.”

Under the beautiful costumes and graceful movements is a well guarded secret. Women dancers have to be physically strong, capable and know their own center of gravity. Along with their strength, men have be in tune with their partner. In order for him to lift her with a look of ease, she must bend her knees and jump: plie. Her core muscles engage and hold her center of balance. Her arms and shoulders control her direction.

In twirling and catching, her whole body engages as she plies. He lifts. They read each other’s center of gravity and shift to match-equally. The illusion of unity. She jumps into his arms and he adds his strength to her motion. He directs that motion to a mutually agreed spot for her to land. The combination creates incredible lift that defies gravity. The partners work in tandem for a common goal.

The illusion of dance and ice skating is to suspend reality. We think of them as super human, possessing qualities we don’t have. What we miss seeing are the hours of rehearsal. The mistakes both make. The falls. The injuries. The blood and bruises. By the time the pair enters the ice we see the fruit of their hard work. The art. The perfection.

Marriage, like dance and pairs ice skating, is work. Sometimes the man takes the lead, other times the woman. They are partners equally engaged and responsible to create something beautiful.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

A Day Meant for Love

Originally posted Februrary 14, 2011

Photo taken by Seemann
Discontent was growing. It is Valentine’s Day and all I can think about are my single friends.  As usual I began to read blogs and posts about how others felt about this day. St. Valentine was a martyr.  He died for what he loved most, his faith. Cupid and Psyche survived the greatest test of love, temptation then sacrifice of self. Because of this, they were given permission by Zeus to spend eternity together. Matthew Biberman said it best in his Red Room blog, Valentine’s Day in a Time of War, “Valentine’s Day, understood correctly, is the most radical holiday of all.  It is a day to celebrate love between humans.”
As I walked dogs this morning, birds twittered  love songs to each other accompanied my pondering. Single or paired today, all should celebrate. Love is the very act of putting someone above yourself. Jesus quotes the Old Testament when he tells us "Love your neighbor as yourself," in Matthew 22:39.
Usually we apply the first part of that question with nary a thought of the second. It occur to me that I first needed to ask: am I loving myself? Keep in mind, self absorbed and nurturing self are two different things. So the query began:

Am I treating myself with kindness, allowing for realistic expectations?
Am I eating in a healthy way?
Am I taking time to treat myself to things that recharge me?
Photo taken by Ladyheart
Am I forgiving myself?
If I am not treating myself to this kind of love, how can I -love someone else?
Then the question becomes about my neighbor:
Am I demanding my own way?
Have I extended grace to those who have inadvertently wronged me?
Whoever comes across my path am I reaching toward them in kindness?
How am I adding to their life in a way to inspire them to extend love to someone else?
 At some point in time we have experienced love. Today is a day to recognize and honor it.  It could be a spouse or a significant other.  It could a friend, teacher or parent.  Take the time and extend appreciation to that person.  Let them know what their love meant.  We all have a Love to celebrate today.

A Mother Life

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Ten Things of Thankful #34

Ten Things of Thankful

The last two weeks have been challenging, and the gratitudes are long with a spice of snark. It has been perfect storm of PMDD (PMS on steroids,) PTSD triggers and fibro. Just when I would find a calm even keel, a migraine would hit followed by an anxiety trigger.

Photo taken by krystle
So… I’ve been swimming and sailing along.

I read this post on A Deeper Story by Elizabeth Esther about relationships. Much of the PTSD anxiety I wrestle with is based within a relationship structure. Much of my recovery centered around defining my responsibly and obligations with people. Learning to recognize what is and is not healthy. In Elizabeth’s article she discusses the epiphany of Intensity vs. Intimacy. I realized this was a missing ingredient. In maintaining a healthy balance in a friendship, I felt I was lacking an emotional element. I still craved Intensity and did not recognize the Intimacy. It was a brain puzzle that spun me for a few days as that paradigm shifted. Emotional healing, for me, comes one piece at a time. I am grateful to rest in the simplicity of Intimacy and let go of the emotional roller coaster of Intensity. (1)

*Snark* I am so grateful to live in California right now. Typically after a windstorm, we have rain. This time we did not, which meant for the next week those dirt particulates fell to the ground. Each day when I went outside, more dirt was on the ground. Add to that the unseasonable warmth and the trees think it is time to bloom.  The gift of snorting all of that dirt and pollen was a sinus infection which triggered migraines.(2)

THANK GOD! for NielMed’s sinus wash, it is the only thing that works for me. Antibiotics don’t work for me when it comes to sinusitis. Working with my body does. So I sacrifice my femininity, lean over a sink and squirt water through my nose.(3)

*Snark* So while y’all are complaining about the Polar Vortex and hogging all the snow, I’m feeling really jealous.(4) We here in California are setting up for an epic drought. This is a picture of California in January.

Side by side photo from NBC article. Originally from NASA
Governor Jerry Brown declared a State of Emergency.(5) Between the freezes we had in December, which crippled the California Citrus crop AND the Governor’s refusal to have Northern California share their water, our Central Valley agriculture’s losses will be significant. You won’t see it until summer when your produce section’s costs raise. Yes. Our state argues over water rights. Northern California believes their water goes to fill San Diego and LA’s swimming pools and keep their lawns green. While that unfortunately can be true, most of the water goes to the farmers. Think about us while you enjoy your salad, carrots and fruit.

RAIN!!! (6) Off and on we finally had some over the last two weeks. It finally washed all the dirt out of the air. We can kind of see an outline of mountains now. It smelled amazing!! Aside from the barometric pressure helping the migraine party.

Migraines-they keep me humble.(7) I found this infographic and now understand better when I am getting one. Rarely do they move into a full blown headache. I’ve had auras off and on over the last two weeks. Who wouldn’t want to have their own personal fireworks show? My thoughts are jumbled and it’s a crap shoot of what actually comes out of my mouth. The F*** word flies out of my mouth with tourette syndrome like timing. My kids find it hilarious and I do laugh about it. I also avoid my fundamentalist Christian friends during times like this because hyper-rationality is not very touchy feely.

Between Counting Mutant and I it often comes down to personality. Within the Meyers-Briggs sixteen types, he is an INTP and I am an ESFJ. One of his strongest motivators is autonomy. One of my strongest is harmony. In simple terms: he doesn’t care (within an action context) while I do. Apparently this is something he and God have been discussing

SO (8)

Last Sunday, on his walk with the dogs, this sweet girl followed him home. He knew we couldn’t keep her. I knew, unless adopted, Animal Control would be her end. We all loved on her. Walked and jogged her. She wouldn’t sleep crated, and at 3am, Mutant thought maybe she was like Lassie- on her way somewhere. He opened the front door and she bolted.  Twenty minutes later, Daisy and Watson started barking and sure enough, she was at the front door wanting to be let in. so Mutant spent the night on the couch with her.

Watson and Daisy even got into the action.

It was a busy, crowded overwhelming two days. I asked Counting Mutant what he thought the lesson was. His answer:

To care.

She was lost and needed someone to care for her. To feed her, play with her, love on her and give her safe shelter. In spite of the fact that we hated how this would most likely end, we were called to care.

Monday afternoon Animal Control came to get her. She was microchipped and belonged to someone. Albeit relieved, I cried. Not bawled, simply leaked for hours.

On Friday(9) I checked up on her. The owners hadn’t come. In the afternoon, GirlyK and I went out to visit her. She recognized our voice as we walked the corridor. We were greeted with wiggles and licks through the fence. She pressed her body against the links so we could pet her.

I began to leak again. UGLY leaking.

The tech told me the owners didn’t want her anymore. She was scheduled to be put down that night. The tech said, “If you think you can get a rescue to come get her I can give her a day or two.”

I had already plastered Facebook looking for her owners and been updating with news. With a promise of me doing my best, the tech promised to move her to the adoption side and give her until Tuesday at 4.

Photo taken by Jusben
I leaked all the way home. I cried as I contacted a rescue and shared more photos on Facebook. I felt like someone ripped out my heart. Angry that Counting Mutant decided he needed to begin caring just when I found harmony with him not. Anxiety stole my breath for the next hours. I couldn’t stop. Just when I found my center, my stupid eyes would begin leaking again. Finally at 1:30am, with Mutant snoring peacefully and in quiet leaking hysterics I began to yell at God. Earlier in the week I listened to Johnathan Martin's (10) sermon about Job: Making Friends With Monsters and swimming in the sea of chaos. Instead of asking for the pain and tears to stop, I asked what my lesson was and how to swim.

The answer: I was swimming in a sea of abandonment.

I felt like I failed her. I couldn’t save her. I couldn’t change the course of her life. AND I CARED! Thankful for Lizzi and England’s time I was able to find an even keel. With a stiff upper lip and a gentle smack on my face I could begin snapping out of it. Lizzi gave me a new word “Poleaxed” which was exactly what I was feeling. She granted me validation the task was fulfilled: love that dog, then let her go. That was NOT abandonment. My part in her story was over, even if I didn't like it.

Holy Spirit whispered these words: Well done good and faithful servant.

DAMnit! Now I am leaking again…

This just in... a rescue will put a hold on her on Tuesday and pick her up on Wednesday. She will go into a foster home with a dog trainer and they will place her in a forever home from there.