Archive | May 2012

The theory of enough–The (sweetened) condensed version

There is a theory out there that is known as the theory of enough.  The theory of enough basically says that if you have enough that is all that you need, no more, no less.  The Amish practice the theory of enough and it is the basis for a life of simplicity, which I believe is something that could be practiced a whole lot more in our world.  Unfortunately, few of us believe that having enough is really enough.  We always seem to want more.  In countries like America, we have so much few of us have any idea what enough even is in reality.  It has been said that people will strive for more, and getting more will go on to desire even more.  Yet, once they lose it all, they will finally realize that a little was more than enough. That statement is entirely true, or it has been for me.  I am someone who lost it all—what most people would define as “all,” meaning possessions, reputation, and even my freedom.

It was when I had nothing, by society’s standards anyway, that I came to a realization.  I realized that I had my integrity with God, and I had my integrity with myself, and integrity within my personal relationships, and once I knew that one thing, I suddenly realized that I had everything that I needed for a happy and successful life.  I had more than enough, and I had always had more than enough, even at the lowest points in my life. I was loved.

But how does a person even begin to understand enough without losing everything?  Begin by asking yourself if you’ve had enough to eat today—maybe even too much.  Every minute, it is estimated that 15 people in the world die of starvation.  That is around 50,000 people a day, many of them children.  If you had enough to eat today you are blessed, and if there is food for tomorrow and the next day and the next day, then you have more than enough.  I have more than enough food.  I am blessed.  I also chronically cook too much, so I share with others.  I was raised to always cook more than enough in case someone dropped by, then I went on to raise a large family.  I cannot cook for two, so I share my extras.  Since I live a very simple life, it is what I have to give to others, and it is always appreciated.

Do you have a roof over your head, even if it leaks, or you think your house is too small, or it is in the wrong neighborhood?  In the United States there are over 600,000 people who are homeless, and that includes many, many families with children.  If you have a home and food and clothes on your back, even if they aren’t the latest style, you have enough.  Most of us have more than enough clothes, and shoes, and toys, and books, and stuff.  So much so that we have to work harder to buy bigger houses to store all of our stuff.  As a result, most of us have way more than enough stress in our lives, so we eat too much, or drink too much to try and cope with having to keep up with keeping up.

Now, lest you think I am going to tell you to sell all of your stuff and go live in a little cottage in the woods because if you don’t you are a greedy, selfish, glutton, or you are thinking that I have never had anything more than a little cottage in the woods so I have no idea what I am talking about when it comes to the greatness of having lots of stuff, let me tell you that I have lived on both ends of the spectrum.

My first husband is a surgeon.  He made a lot of money. He probably still does 😉 We lived in a 4500 square foot house filled with expensive furniture, and knick knacks, and doodads, and a very expensive Victoria art glass collection.  I had lots of lovely jewelry, mostly diamonds, and we had nice cars.  In my second marriage, for reasons I cannot fully comprehend, we lived in abject poverty, with no heat in the winter, no working bathroom, no washing machine, and in the end, no running water.  At one point, I had one pair of pants to my name that I had to wash by hand in the sink every few days.  I have truly looked at life from both sides now…  There is a middle ground in there.  There is a balance we can reach and it is called enough.

Not only do not think that we have enough, at the very root of it, we do not think that we are enough.  We are not good enough, smart enough, pretty enough, funny enough, thin enough, liked enough, and the list goes on and on.  We wouldn’t have a “not enough” list if we didn’t compare ourselves to others so much, but we do it relentlessly.  Our eyes are always focused on others, and the exterior things in life.  This draws us right into the cycle of striving harder to have more because certainly you will finally be enough if you have more cool clothes, or drive a nicer car, or have a bigger house, or get thinner, or work harder, and have more fancy stuff right?  Wrong!

You will be enough when you look inside of yourself and decide that you are enough already.  You will realize that you are enough when you stop comparing yourself to others and begin to love yourself for who you are now.  That doesn’t mean that you can’t, and shouldn’t, make improvements if they are needed, but knowing that you are enough will give you the strength and courage to make those changes.  Once you realize that you are enough, some truly amazing things will happen.  You won’t be so busy looking around at everyone else, comparing yourself to them.  That will free your eye, heart, and mind up enough to look around you and see all of the people in your life who love you for who you are, and you will have relaxed enough to love them far better, and more honestly.

As time goes on, you will also begin to know that you have more than enough and you may reset some priorities.  You will worry a lot less, and care about others a whole lot more.  You will begin to take notice of all of the people who really do not have enough in their lives, be it food, housing, clean water, clothing, love, or attention, and you will want to reach out and share with those who do not have enough because suddenly your life has become an embarrassment of riches.

Your world will become much bigger, and far more colorful, and happy, and filled with joy.  Life will simply feel lighter and less burdensome.  You won’t need as much from the outside because you will be at peace on the inside.  You will be enough, and have enough every day, and love enough every chance you get.  You will live in the moment, because each moment we are given to love God, and ourselves, and others will become a precious gift.  Isn’t that really the heart of enough?

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The Beauty All Around Us….

Today I am going to do something a little different.  I am going to tell a story using pictures.  I am not known for my stellar picture taking skills.  In fact, it is quite the opposite.  I am known for taking an endless series of extremely blurry pictures, with one exceptionally good photo taken of the whole family on Christmas morning.  That single good picture per year is known as “The Silver Tuna,” a Home Alone reference, another cult classic movie in our family.  I live for “The Silver Tuna.”

My son and I live in a little cottage in the woods.  From the outside, it doesn’t look like much.  I have chosen an image of it from the fall, because it looked so cute then, with the mums and pumpkins.  I need to get my flowers planted in the planters out front this weekend.

On the inside, it is quite cozy, and very comfortable, and it has everything we need.  A living room and a dining area, a small, but very useable kitchen, a large pantry, a wood stove that heats the entire cottage beautifully, and a full bathroom make up the lower level.  It is tastefully decorated, too.

Upstairs is a huge loft, where we sleep.  There are dressers aplenty, two huge closets, nooks and crannies, and sitting areas everywhere.  You see my bed.  My little boy sleeps in a nook under the eaves off to the left.  As you can see, it is quite nice, too, despite my crooked comforter.

Each weekday morning, we hike up a steep hill to the school bus stop.  This hill is affectionately know as “the luge run” in the winter, a term coined by our one neighbor.  It is about 1/4 mile long, and walking up and down it is very good exercise, no matter the time of year.  This morning the hill looked all greened up with spring splendor.

When we got to the top of the hill at 7 o’ clock in the morning, we were met by a host of swarming mosquitoes.  Blackflies and mosquitoes dominate spring and summer in Maine.  Seeing more mosquitoes than blackflies means summer is surely on its way, and it is time to head indoors until fall, unless you love being covered in DEET around the clock.  I do not like to be covered in DEET, but I am also allergic to mosquito bites.  So, we stood there swatting at the air, and ourselves, until the bus arrived.  My natural instinct would have been to head back down the hill, and into my comfy cottage, as fast as my feet would carry me—away from the dreadful mosquitoes.

But this morning, on my way up the hill, my eyes spotted some things I wanted to explore–some extremely beautiful things.  I was seeing a blur of little wildflowers all around, and I was determined to endure the mosquitoes so that I could enjoy the wild flowers on the way down.  I wanted to see the beauty all around me, and not just notice the negative.  This is what I found:

I found a patch of lovely purple flowers.

Then I found a patch of glorious, yellow, bell-like flowers.

I was thrilled beyond words when I found not one, but two, pink Lady Slippers!

If that find wasn’t good enough, I then went on to see a beautiful Jack in the Pulpit!  Amazing!

I found violets, and little white flowers, and and some pretty cream colored flowers, and some magnificent, mossy, tree stumps, but those images didn’t turn out so great, so you will have to imagine them 😉  Then it began to pour rain, so I did head inside, but very happy that I had taken the time to bend over, and look at all of the hidden wonders on the forest floor.

There is beauty all around us every day.  You may live in a city, but there is beauty to be found there, be it in the architecture, or the flowers in people’s yards, or in the people themselves.  However, if you are too wrapped up in the negatives, the mosquitoes in you day—traffic, unpleasant co-workers, long waits in line, bills, or the high price of gasoline–you won’t notice the beauty that is all around you.

If you are impatient to get through the grocery store checkout, and mad that the cashier is too slow, how will you ever notice the pretty, elderly lady in line behind you who took the time to put on powder, and rouge, and lipstick?  I bet it would make her day if you told her how pretty she looked.  Your neighbor, who has been working so hard to plant flowers might like to hear how nice her garden grows, and your spouse would probably be very appreciative if you noticed how hard she worked on the meal, instead of noticing that dinner is late again.  Look into the face of your child—really look–that is perfection, right there.

It can still be a perfect day even if there are clouds in the sky, or rain on your walk to work.  Your own attitude will determine how much beauty you let into your life.  Open your mind to seeing the beauty and shutting out all of the negatives.  They are only distractions.  It may take practice at first to override your habit of seeing only the negatives, but over time, with some work, you can rewire your brain into one that can find beauty anywhere, on any day, in any situation.  What do you choose to see today?

 

 

 

 

 

What About Bob? What about you?

I am not in the business of doing movie reviews, but our family has a number of favorite movies, our own cult classics, so to speak.  One is the film, What About Bob?  It stars Bill Murray and Richard Dreyfuss, and if you haven’t seen it, you should add it to your Netflix queue, or better yet, go buy it on Amazon.  It is inexpensive enough.

The movie is a comedy, and it is the story of Bob, played by Bill Murray, who is a man with a number of phobias that have him nearly crippled.  Bob is bounced from one psychiatrist to another, because he is so high needs, until he becomes a client of Dr. Leo Marvin, played by Dreyfuss.  Dr. Marvin sees Bob for the first time just as his new book, Baby Steps, is released at the day before he and his family are set to go on a month long vacation in New Hampshire.  Bob is very upset at the idea of going an entire month without seeing Dr. Marvin, and leaves his appointment, book in hand, distraught.  I am not going to tell you the entire movie plot, but Bob follows the family to New Hampshire, much to the chagrin of Dr. Marvin, but to the delight of Dr. Marvin’s family, because as they get to know Bob, as flawed as he is, they find out what a treasure he is as a human being.

Why is Bob such a treasure amidst his giant ball of fears and phobias, and with his absolute lack of boundaries?  He is such a delight because he is genuine, and honest, and extremely transparent.  Bob is who he is, warts and all, and he’s not ashamed of that.  This blatant personal honesty about his many quirks and shortcomings seems to draw people to him like a magnet.  Bob gives people the gift of allowing them to admit to their own fears and imperfections and he accepts them unconditionally.

As the movie progresses, Bob begins to take some giant steps forward in facing, and removing his fears, and he begins to deliver another gift to the people around him–the willingness and courage to face their own fears.  As Bob heals himself, quite publicly, openly, comically, and with no apologies for who he is, others begin to see that they to can be who they are, speak about what scares them, and erase their fears, too.  Bob becomes a beacon of hope to the people he meets.  It’s a hope that they can be genuine, and flawed, and courageous, and in the end, still be loved and accepted.

I wonder what would happen if we were all more like Bob?  If we did not build elaborate facades to hide our true selves, and our flaws, and our fears?  What is we were trusting enough, and willing enough, and courageous enough to just be who we are, each and every day, with no apologies needed.  What if you showed your own fears, and imperfections, and vulnerabilities, and quirks fearlessly?  What if you were genuine?  What would that look like for you?

Why do we so often fear being who we really are, and work so hard to hide our flawed beauty?  I suspect the answers are as unique as their are people, but there is a commonality in there.  We have all been hurt, or felt “less than,” or been told that we are not enough as we are.  We relentlessly compare ourselves to others instead of looking in the mirror and working on that one person.  We are afraid that no one will like us, let alone love us, if they really knew our thoughts and feeling and fears, so we pretend.  It doesn’t have to be that way, and it takes far too much work to maintain the facade.

We all have areas that need work, or where we need help, but if we do not face them, or admit to them, there will be no change.  If we are not genuine with the people in our lives, how can we expect them to really know us, or know what we really need?  At the same time, how can we expect to have honest relationships if we are not who we genuinely are in public, or in private?  So many of us are terrified of being human.  What will people think if I am not perfect?  If I do not hold it together all of the time, what will become of me?  What if people find out that…fill in the blank.

Generally speaking, I think we would find out that we are all more a like than we are different.  I think we would all enjoy our lives more if we were “real” with ourselves, and with others.  Of course, if we dropped the facades and exposed the areas where we need work and fine tuning we would have to have the courage to do that work, but we wouldn’t be alone in doing so.  In the film, Bob is not a victim. He is a person who strives to become better, then he becomes a survivor, and in the end, he thrives, surrounded by people who love him, and celebrate his uniqueness.

What is the key here?  Is it the willingness, or the honesty, or the courage?  It is a combination of those attributes along with a healthy sense of humor, and a lot of hope.  I believe we all hold those keys within us.  They are the keys that turn us from people pretending to live  into genuine people who are not just surviving, but are sincerely thriving.  Don’t be afraid to use your keys.  The door is waiting to be opened.

Some thoughts on judging others…

“Judging others makes us blind, whereas love is illuminating. By judging others we blind ourselves to our own evil and to the grace which others are just as entitled to as we are.”
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship

Judging others is something we all do in the course of a day, and if we say we don’t we are big, fat, liars.  Much of it is somewhat unconsciously done.  As we walk through the grocery store thoughts run through our heads.  “Wow, that shirt is awful.”  “Boy, that’s one big person.”  “She sure looks like a grump.” On it goes right up to the check out line, where we begin to judge the contents of the shopping cart of the person in front of us, as well as their payment method.  This goes on all day long, little and big judgements made about people, what they do, what they say, how they act, and what the look like.  Maybe you are not that bad.  Maybe you are more inclined to see the people who smile at you, or notice those who look especially pretty, or maybe you are like me, off in my own little world of “get it done and get out of here.”  Whatever the case, we all judge to varying degrees, and it is rarely beneficial to us, or to the person we are judging.

However, it is hard to even begin to enter into the topic of judging without becoming judgmental.  “That person said a hateful thing.  That is wrong.  That person is nasty.”  I said that just last night, in my head.  A person who doesn’t know me made some insulting comments, judged me based on information she is being spoon fed, some of it true enough, much of it not.  Because the comments hurt, I judged her as a bad person, and I do not know her personally. Is she a bad person?  I don’t know.  How could I?  Do I like, or condone, her behavior?  No, I do not.  The behavior and the actions go completely against my personal beliefs of what is right, and her actions are less than attractive, in my opinion.  But, that is just my opinion.  I do not get to be the judge.  I must answer to a higher authority, God, who tells me that I do not know her past, or her hurts, or her insecurities, and even if I did, I would still have no right to judge her.  God tells me to turn the other cheek, stop looking, forgive, and move on.  Easier said than done, of course, but doable.

Dorothy Parker said, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, come sit by me.”  That’s not how I roll.  I do not enjoy disliking others, bad mouthing others, or diminishing others so I can feel better about myself.  Does that mean I have never done any of those thing?  Heck no!  I am guilty as charged.  I am very human, too.  The greater portion of my life is filled with wonderful, kind, caring, loving individuals who roll like I do.  Yet, human nature, flawed as it is, will generally cause me focus on the one or two meanies in my life, and forget all about the lovely people and things all around me.  That is a backwards way of living, and changing that is something I work on every day.

That work requires taking a thought, or feeling—a judgement—and turning it around to something positive.  It changes, “That person is just plain nasty,” to “That person must really be hurting/be insecure/feel threatened.”  Those thought changes opens the mind to compassion.  We do not need to like the comments, behaviors, or even the person, but viewing them with compassion rather than judging and attacking right back is the healthier, kinder choice, for ourselves, and for them.  It is saying to yourself, and the world, “I may disagree with you, but I am pretty sure you’re not Hitler,” to borrow a line from Jon Stewart.  If you cannot change your thoughts from ones of judgement and condemnation, then the least you can do is turn and walk away in kindness.

We do reap what we sow.  The law of attraction is real.  The more we judge harshly, respond to judgments with revenge, or insult and degrade people to elevate ourselves, the more of that same sort of thing we will get coming back at us in our own lives.  As people say these days, “Haters are gonna hate.”  I suppose that is true enough, but I have a choice to make for myself, and that is not to be a hater.   The Bible says we can sow blessings or curses with our words.  In this age of the internet, we can do the same with our fingers, faceless behind a computer screen.  This also allows us the convenience of judging people we do not even know.  Do not get sucked into it all.  It is a trap that will effectively take your eyes off of yourself, and your own areas that need attention, while you focus on someone else and their flaws. Go find the goodness inside of you, and in others, instead.

What if someone is judging you right now–hurting you, insulting you, demeaning you right now?  Turn away, walk away, calm yourself and reframe your thoughts, if you can.  Count your blessings. Ask yourself if the person’s judgment is truly hurting you, or just hurting your pride, with no real damage done to how the important people in your life perceive you.  Step outside and look at the splendor all around you.  Release, relax, forgive, and remember that, in the end, you are not the final authority on anyone, or anything, but yourself.  In the end, it is all between you and God.  Do all you can to maintain your integrity.  It is okay to hate evil, but the evil and the person are usually two separate things.

This one, too, this topic of judging, or stopping the judging, take a lot of work, yet again.  I know, I know…;-)  I am working at it right along with you.  I am working at the judging, and forgiving, and moving on.  Today, turn towards the beauty in the world.  Right outside my front door is the most gorgeous day. The sun is shining.  The trees are the most vibrant spring green, and about ten steps from my front door is a breath taking patch of wild violets.  That is where I am going now.  I am stepping towards the things that can truly be judged as beautiful.

Fear–The greatest motivator to stay absolutely stuck

Fear is a strong emotion, and one that can serve us well, warning us of dangerous situations, and propelling us into action to protect ourselves, whether through fight or flight.  That is fear in its best and proper form.  However, how many people are slaves to fears that keep then so stuck in life that they can barely move, or if they do move, the movement is some misguided form of self protection, be it anger, nastiness, or simple inertia? It is still fight or flight, but you are fighting life, or fleeing from it. This type of fear is never healthy and it sucks all of the joy right out of most everything.

Most people aren’t aware just how much of their lives are dominated by fear.  People alter who they really are because they fear not being liked or accepted.  People do not ask for help when they need it because they are afraid of being seen as weak, or being told, “No.”  People lie because they fear others won’t find the truth acceptable.  People do not share their thoughts because they fear being wrong, or that someone will disagree, or that no one will listen. People don’t try new things because they fear failure.

People don’t try to change an bad situation because they fear they may fail at that, too—“It won’t do any good, anyway.”  People stay in bad relationships and bad jobs out of fear, and remain in unhealthy lifestyles because they fear change.  At its basest form, fear become anger and meanness.  People fear getting hurt so they hurt others first to protect themselves.  They fear looking at their own behavior because they are afraid there will be nothing left if they tear down the walls of anger, nastiness, and arrogance.  How will they protect themselves without lashing out, being defensive, blaming others, or making excuses?

Fearful people are often lonely, and unhappy.  At the heart of fear is almost always the fear of loss–loss of possessions, loss of safety, loss of reputation, or a loss through an insult to their pride or ego.  Fearful people take the hurts and losses in life and turn them into weapons, walls, and shields, yet we all have hurts and losses in life, so why isn’t everyone living a stuck, angry, small life with no joy?   That’s an excellent question, and I certainly don’t have the entire answer.

I’ve always told my kids, “Face your fears, and they will disappear.”  I try to live that, but like everyone, I have my own fears, though over the years they have diminished to a very few things.  I’ve had a lot of losses, some at the hands of other, many self-inflicted.  I’ve had hurts, and some pretty awful experiences, again, some events coming from outside of me, and many self generated.  But, at the same time, I have had to face a lot of my fears because I didn’t want to stay stuck in the ugliness that I had created by believing false information, or by feeling like a victim, or blaming the world for all of my problems.  At the heart of it all, I feared that “me” wasn’t good enough, and from that sprang many mistakes, poor choices, and much self sabotaging behavior.  Who would want to stay stuck in that muck? Not me, but to get out of that muck, I had to own my role in my life, my choices, my behavior.  That was scary business, indeed, and not gobs of fun.  Being stuck in fear and anger and poor choices was a lot less fun, though.

Fear gives a person a very small, myopic, world view.  It creates a blindness to all of the color, and goodness in the world.  Fear holds people back from discovering the beauty in others, and the beauty within themselves.  How can anyone truly live and enjoy life when everything is a perceived threat to their ego, or their limited sense of self worth, or their position, or their power?  But fear does not give one power.  Fearful people prefer to have power over—power over others, power over the situation, power over the world.  Power over is not personal power.  Power over takes personal power from others.  Again, not a happy, or healthy, way to truly live and enjoy life.

Personal power, on the other hand, gives joy to life.  It allows its owner to set healthy boundaries, make good choices for themselves, be vulnerable, be open, be willing, and in the end, be genuine and happy.  Personal power can empower others to places of goodness.  It is a light that shines, not a wall that blocks out the sun, and the light of everyone, and everything in your world.  You cannot get to a place of personal power without facing many fears, without having the courage to heal, make mistakes and start anew.  You cannot have personal power without the courage to admit your faults, ask for forgiveness, forgive yourself and others, and change your course.  When you have personal power you don’t need or want power over anyone.  Personal power is not the freedom from fear, but the knowing that fears can be faced, and erased.

Leaving a fear based life starts like anything else—with one step in the opposite direction, and then another, and another for a life time.  You can change fear based behaviors and actions by looking your fears in the face, making friends with them, then showing them the door.  You can change your mindset from one of suspicion and avoidance to one of joyfulness and openness, but it will take work.  It’s work that is well worth it, and you can do it.  Please, don’t be afraid to try.  Don’t let fear motivate you to remain stuck.  Get yourself out of your own muck.  You’ll be amazed at the results.

Mother’s Day Reflections—A Quickie ;-)

“It seems odd to celebrate one’s mom is just one day. Someone so important should be celebrated every day.”  Anonymous, because he’d prefer it that way.

I have seven gorgeous children who are the light of my life.  Six are adults, and one is just 7 years old.  They are truly amazing, though I admit to a bit of bias.  To say that they are accomplished is an understatement, and that includes the 7 year old.  While their accomplishments are good for bragging rights, they are their accomplishments, not mine, and their accomplishments are not what makes them so special.   As I have always said, I wouldn’t care what they did as long as they are happy doing it.

What makes them so amazing is their personalities, and their character.  They are kind and generous.  They are loving and they are funny as can be.  They can laugh at themselves, and no one can get me laughing faster, or harder, than my children, with my sisters coming in at a close second.  They help me laugh at myself, and we have those family stories that are hilarious to us every time.   We have a secret language of movie quotes that we all understand, and can use to convey a variety of thoughts and emotions.  “Keep the change you filthy animal,” means “I love you,” or “You owe me nothing, it’s a gift.”  We’re all a little nutty, in a good way, of course.  We we are all together, the room vibrates with love, hot conversation, and tons and tons of laughter.  Individually, we are all quiet people, and true introverts, but together we are a gaggle of kindred spirits knowing we are fully home.

However, their greatest gifts lie in their ability to forgive, and to move forward, and to recalculate life, and the people in it, as needed.  This is what means the most to me, because I have required forgiveness more than most mothers.  I have required forgiveness again, and again, and again, and each time it’s been freely given.  They’ve forgiven the years of drinking, and my inability to be there for them properly.  They have forgiven the times I was physically absent due to rehab stays, or jail stays, or prison.  They have forgiven lavishly, with no lingering resentments, and they have moved forward in their view of me as I have recovered.  In many ways, we have been growing up together and they have been as patient with me as I have been with them.  They love me unconditionally, as I have loved them.

Yet, for many years, because of all of the guilt and shame I dragged around because of my perceived poor performance as a mother, I lagged behind them both in my forgiveness of myself, and my ability to recalculate who I am today, as opposed to who I was 10 years ago.   I have been forced to stop and look at myself through their eyes, and actually feel their words, not just hear them.  They did not become who they are today in some miraculous vacuum.  They remind me of this often, and of course, their father has played a role, the older kids having seen the worst, and the youngest having been spared most of that.  Because of my children, and God’s grace, which underpins all of this, I have been able to forgive myself, and I am getting up to speed in the recalculating of my view of me.   I thank God every day for these precious people that He trusted me to care for and love, flawed as I am.

My own mother died over 24 years ago, and I miss her terribly.  Although we had bumps in our relationship, by the time she died, we had reached a place of deep friendship.   She was always the first person I wanted to call when anything happened in my life, good or bad.  Now, I am blessed to have three women in my life who are both friends, and mothers to me.  One woman spoils me silly, and is a grandmother to my 7 year old, though there are no blood ties.  Another is chock full of common sense, and tells it like it is.  She loves to cook, too, like I do, so we share recipes and new food finds.  The third woman is the one to whom I can cry my eyes out, and I discover a bit more of myself every time I talk to her.  There is reciprocity in all of these relationships, which is what makes them so special.

But, the best mother that I have now is myself.  In the recalculating I have had to do—the seeing myself as all of these other very special people see me—I have come to realize that I can, and should, give every wonderful gift to myself that I give to others, and that others so richly give to me.  Knowing that God has fully forgiven me, as have all of the people who matter the most to me, I realized that it is more than a little arrogant not to forgive myself, and treat myself with the love and kindness that I deserve.  What a tremendous gift that has been, and it’s one that will remain.  I am blessed beyond words, and I wish you all the happiest of Mother’s Day’s.  Mothers come in may forms–our own mothers, our children, our friends, our sisters, ourselves.  Even if you have no children, you can celebrate and honor the mother within you today.

That quote up top came from my 20 year old son…  I am sure I’ll stop crying anytime now 😉  Happy Mother’s Day!

The Dawn of Reckoning–I never wanted a neat life.

The other day I wrote a post about radical acceptance.  In it I make mention of my messy life in contrast to those people with the neat and tidy lives.  After I had gotten done writing the post, it hit me.  I do not think that I ever truly wanted a neat, tidy, conventional life.  I didn’t know that until last week, but I know it now completely.  This is not to say that I wanted all of what I got in life; abuse as a child and an adult, PTSD, alcoholism, jail stays, rehabs, and prison, but in some way, all of those experiences have lead to to this extraordinary realization.  Those experiences helped me recognize in myself what others did not recognized in me as a child, or appreciated, namely my parents, and the schools of my day.  I am gifted, and probably always have been, but my gifts run towards the creative, more than the logical.

Parents and schools in the 60’s and 70’s valued logic.  It’s not that I am without the intellect to go with the creativity, my IQ is in the gifted range, but my grades did not show that, and any markers from testing while in school were ignored.  For example, I was found to be reading at the college level when I was in the 5th grade, but not a thing was done with that information.  My creativity was apparent from an early age, but it was seen as a flaw, not a gift.  I clearly recall overhearing my mother tell her friends about my school conference in the 5th grade.  It must have been less than stellar, and I remember her say, in a tone that was less than pleased, “But the teacher says she’s *very creative…*  I thank God that today’s school recognize, and try to nurture all kinds of gifts, and I bear no anger towards my parents, or the schools that I attended.  It was the times.  People only knew what they knew.

That I am gifted, the realization of that, was a gift that I received while I was in prison, from two different women who came into the reentry center to do counseling and programming.  That each, never having spoken to the other, would put forth the same notion to me–the notion of my giftedness—and its ability to intimidate others who don’t understand it, parents, spouses, and friends, was something that took me a while to wrap my head around.  I am still working on it, in truth.

I believe there are a lot of adults out in the world who are gifted, and like me, never knew it.  A gifted adult who has no idea that  she is gifted is likely to have a harder road in life than others.  This goes back to Dabrowski’s Overexcitabilities and his Theory of Positive Disintegration.  Adults who are gifted have certain characteristics that set them apart from the crowd.  These include differences in the way they process information, high levels of creativity, high sensitivity, both internally focused, and externally.  Gifted adults are intense, idealistic, and they are perfectionists.  They have a unique sense of humor that of everyone gets.  They are internally focused, they are self-determined, and they hate injustice, and lack of integrity, and lack of moral character.  They see things globally, and they do not fit well into traditional roles, or careers.  Often, they do not feel they fit in anywhere.

Well, what do you know!  That sounds like me!  Gifted adults often need help realizing that the way they are is okay, and some help to fully realize their potential.  A good therapist who understands giftedness can help a lot.  This site offers a lot of insights 😉  It is so important to realize that while you may be different, you are not flawed, and that you have great potential.  That takes time, as I have mentioned.  As you might imagine, gifted adults are apt of have messy looking lives.  This will be especially true of those who have suffered from trauma as children.  It takes a lot of hard work for a gifted adult with PTSD, substance abuse issues, or other mental health issues, to get to the core of their genuine self.  Too much has come along to override it.

My first husband is a true genius intellectually.  Yet, as one of our son’s says, he has the emotional intelligence of a 4 year old, and he’s got not a drop of creativity, nor much of a sense of humor.  He is rigid and logical in his thinking.  He’s exactly what you’d want in a surgeon, which is what he does for a living.  There are a lot of geniuses in the world who may not be particularly gifted, or as well suited for their careers.  Imagine a psychiatrist who has no compassion for people with mental health issues, and disdain for people with addiction problems.  That’s not a good match, and the genius who lacks gifts can do more harm than good.  A pure genius who meets a person who is truly gifted is likely to become aware of their shortcomings, and unfortunately, may even work to control, tear down, or defeat the gifted person.  I’ve had this happen to me, and I have seen it happen to others, almost always gifted women.

Now we come back to my discovery that I never wanted a neat life, though I certainly gave it a try, as well as going in the exact opposite direction.  I wanted to study music and theater, to which my parents said no.  It was too hard a life, which is true enough.  So then, I wanted to be a doctor, but since I also very much wanted a family, I was told to be a nurse, which is what I did.  Then I got married, and had the children I so longed for, and who were and are the light of my life.  I entertained, and sat on boards,  I worked for charities and ran for the school board, and I drank myself to sleep every night.  I was miserable.  Not with my children, or being a mother, but because all of my creativity and intuition has been so dismissed, and berated, and tied up, and bashed, that I gave up.  My second marriage to an unconventional man was far worse, because he is so disordered.  Of course, I couldn’t/wouldn’t see that at the time.

As I was growing up, the woman who had the greatest influence on me was my great aunt, Stella.  She’d been married once, for a very short time, and she had no children.  She had a head full of gorgeous, curly hair that she often tied back with a ribbon, bow off to the top side of her head.  She had a lovely smile, complete with a Lauren Bacall gap in the front.  She had been an Art History professor at The University of Washington, and she had traveled to Africa in the 1950’s.  Much of her artwork was inspired by what she saw in Africa.  To a child, she was a little scary.  She said whatever was on her mind, but she was kind.  Her house was magical, with an attic filled with treasures.  Visiting her was better than Disneyland.

As an adult, I moved to Seattle, and lived in the University district, as she did, and I’d often go over to visit for a day, or overnight.  She’d make me a tuna sandwich and we’d smoke True cigarettes and talk.  She took me on drives all over, and while her driving was more than a little scary, she told me all about the history of Seattle.  In the evening, she’d pour us each a glass of concord grape wine, and we’d talk some more.  She was clearly a happy woman, truly eccentric, genuine as can be,and very well loved.  She was adored by her neighbors, mostly college grad students, and at 90 years old, she died, not from old age, but from falling on a patch of ice on her way home from one of their Christmas parties, to which she was always invited.

I have a head full of curly hair, and I had the Lauren Bacall gap, but braces fixed that.  I am far more domesticated than my Aunt Stella, but like her, I am happiest when I am creating, be it writing, cooking, knitting, sewing, or making something spectacular out of something ordinary.   I am artistic, but no artist.   I am not my mother, though I know she didn’t live the life she wanted, and I am not a conventional person.  I don’t think I’ll ever care about balancing a checkbook to the penny, or calling whoever for quotes, or having a neat and tidy refrigerator.  I don’t care a whole lot about money, but I do know life is easier with a little around.  I am more my Aunt Stella than anyone else.  I got side tracked somehow.  Thank God she did not.  I believe we are all gifted in some way.  It is just a matter of finding that gift, and then letting it soar. I think it’s time for me to go buy some ribbon for my hair in celebration of my discovery, and my messy, happy, creative life.