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Posts Tagged ‘connection’

Growth is an erratic forward movement: two steps forward, one step back. Remember that and be very gentle with yourself. ~~~ Julia Cameron

I just started reading, The Creative Life by Julia Cameron. Not because I have dreams of being an artist. Not because I have dreams of being a writer. But, because I have dreams. It seems I’ve written often about friendship and forgiveness and trust and healing. I’ve been searching my heart for some inkling of a coherent thought that isn’t muted by my own inner voice. The question I keep coming back to is this… what do you do if you know you’re worth the effort but tired of trying to convince the rest of the world of this fact? I think, for me, the answer is beginning to form… let go of old thoughts, let go of things I can not control, unsettle my toes and let the sand form a new mound for me to stand. Be gentle with myself.

I had the most wonderful conversation the other night with a few friends. We talked about hugs and the power of human touch and the therapeutic resonance of the human voice… the power of connection. Simple human connection that can propel us all towards a new day. This comment was made about that powerful feeling, “…each wave is just different enough to unsettle my toes”. It took me a while to still my mind after that discussion. I continued to process the information and how I thought about it and how what the others said made sense to me in my life. I fell asleep, finally, smiling… my thoughts lingering on my friends.

As I drifted off to sleep, I felt my dream-self being transported to the beach. I was sitting there with a friend, faceless, both of us… our identities concealed in a foggy dream. We were talking and laughing and crying and digging our toes into the ever-changing sand along the edge of the water. It was just cold enough to need a jacket, the sun was setting — the sky was vivid purple and pink. I’ve had this dream before, it always seems so real. I never remember what we’re talking about, it’s as if our voices are muffled. A hushed conversation that only the dream version of ourselves are allowed to hear — but I distinctly remember turning to my faceless friend and telling her to open her eyes and see me. Then I awoke.

There was a girl I worked with for years who loved reading about dream interpretation. Whenever I had a dream I could remember I would rush to her and tell her the dream and ask, “… so, what do you make of that one?” She always said that the people and places in our dreams are secondary to the feeling you have when you wake up. She told me to write down what I was feeling when I awoke from a dream. Then, you could piece together what the subconscious was trying to tell you.

When I awoke from this picturesque dream of the beach, I felt anger that immediately turned into a sort of heartache which immediately turned into a sense of longing which soon gave way to a wave of warm connection that kept me tucked under my covers for a few more minutes.

It seems it all came full circle back to that conversation from the night before — the power of human connection. The power to lift our friends and carry them when needed. The power to hold a hand when it reaches for you in the dark of a dream. The power to open your eyes and see.

Around here, however, we don’t look backwards for very long. We keep moving forward, opening up new doors and doing new things because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths. ~~~ Walt Disney

I think we’re all intended to go down new paths, if we’re evolving. Personal evolution is just that… personal. You think it has occurred or is occurring and maybe those around you are blind to it. I thought, for a while, that this was because perhaps what I thought was evolution was just my wheels spinning. But… I believe that I’m spinning my wheels in hopes that those around me, those I care about, are evolving too. Personal evolution can be measured in the baby steps or the giant bounds we take. It’s scary to un-stick your feet and point them in a forward direction, it’s more scary to be stuck in a moment — a moment that doesn’t exist anymore. A moment filled with words and thoughts and people who don’t exist anymore. Personal evolution.

The death of a loved one is a powerful thing. We miss. We long. We cry. We yell. We wish for an outcome that might have given us just a bit longer to linger in the warmth of their touch. But, in the end, we pick ourselves up and we move on. We continue in our forward progress because there is no point in lingering in the solace of the death of that lost human connection. We don’t search for replacements for our mothers or our fathers or our grandparents or our cousins or our friends who have died. You don’t replace someone with whom you shared such a strong connection. Death took them. It’s easy, no gray areas.

Death can sometimes be the easiest way to lose someone. You recognize the vacant spot because a person use to be there and you’re okay with the emptiness of it because they’re gone, gone from this world. There’s a reason you no longer share the connectivity of a hug or the warmth of their hand to hold. You miss it and you long for it and you cry for its absence but you understand why. You understand that death is the reason… not because you aren’t worth the effort or you aren’t good enough — death then, brings you comfort. I think… I hope, that personal evolution involves knowing we are just enough.

We were made to lift each other up. We were made to cheer each other on. We were made to be angry and loathsome and helpful and kind and connected — we were made to share the simplicity of the human connection… we were made for this complicated ride amongst the breaking waves. The only thing I need to prove is that I am reaching my hand out in the dark of a dream, I am opening my eyes to see, I am connecting. So, with each new wave, I am unsettling my toes just enough to let the sand build up — just enough to recognize the stronghold of a simple connection. My eyes are opening — we are all just enough, with nothing to prove.

A friend may well be reckoned the masterpiece of Nature ~~~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Check out this: Love Letter To The World

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I’m sitting here, in a narrow leather chair at the wheel repair shop… surrounded by wheels and rims and men with grease on their hands and cars in various stages of disrepair. It’s been storming all night, loud clapping thunder that was only out witted by the sharp electrical flashes of lightning that covered the entire sky. But now, as I sit here, the sun is shining. The clouds have disappeared and there is that wonderful smell of a fresh rain filling the air.

The wheels on my car have been squeaking — for a while. It’s rather embarrassing. That’s what brought me here to get them worked on, the embarrassing part. My neighbors would turn when I came down the road. Strangers would wince as I pulled in to the grocery store parking lot. I, however, ignored the sound for a while. I simply turned up the radio and sang along as if nothing was wrong. It worked for a bit. But then, even I became too aware of the squeak to not take action.

My wheels squeak all the time. I think this must have been an important detail because the look on the repair guy’s face when I told him this fact made me think it was an important issue. He looked horrified to be honest — in that way that wheel repair guys can look or brake repair guys or those guys who change your oil. They ask us these questions knowing our answers will confound them — but they ask them anyway, “… didn’t you hear it squeak?”

Apparently, our cars are engineered to give us warning signs when they are in need of some attention. We are, in fact, supposed to heed those warnings. When your oil goes low, a bright light flashes (best you should attend to this right away). When your brakes go bad, they squeal (and if you ignore the squeal, it becomes a very over-powering grinding sound). When your wheels go bad they squeak, all the time. When you neglect these things, you get stares from your neighbors and grimaces from complete strangers and gasps of horror from the repair guy (they are often appalled at me).

So I’m sitting here, at the wheel shop. Getting the repairs I should have taken the time to fix several weeks ago. I ignored all the warning signs my car was giving me and instead only went for assistance when I was too embarrassed to drive any further and now I am (quite literally) paying the price. And… I’m watching the other people come in and out of here, they know what their cars need. They seem so confident in the announcement of the various afflictions. But me, I’m lowering my head. I’m keeping my eyes on my phone, pretending to read something intently. I’m speaking softly when it’s my turn. I’m aware of my neglect.

We are a lot like our cars I guess… we give off warning signs when we are in need of repair. When you run too far and too fast the day before, your legs refuse to move. When you let a cold linger too long, your cough will remind you to slow down and rest. When your mind can’t possibly juggle any more, it drifts away, reminding you to be still.

We need to pay attention to ourselves. We need to pay attention to each other. A warning light would be best, it could flash brightly telling those around us that we need some attention, we need to slow down, we need to reach out. A warning light for those times we need to let others know. So when they ask that question, “… are you all right?”, they don’t look confounded by our answer — or our lack of an answer — a warning light.

So, I’m sitting here, waiting for my car. Lifting my head long enough to enjoy the beautiful blue sky, enjoying the smell of newly fallen rain, watching the strangers around me talk and mingle and smile at one another. I’m wondering what other repairs are going to be needed. I’m wondering what signals will I be able to see now that I’m finally paying attention to the warning signs. I’m sitting here… figuring it all out.

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I remember being in 7th grade. Each home room had to elect a president at the beginning of the year (I think the major duty was carrying notes to the office), it was a scary time. The first year of middle school — just out of elementary school. There were many new kids from other schools that I didn’t know that well and I was separated from my usual crew of beautiful popular girls so I was feeling a bit out of sorts. I never really did well apart from my friends… I was the token dorky jock in the midst of the cool girls.

So, there, I found myself sitting in home room with kids I didn’t know, in a school that was new — hoping desperately not to be noticed while at the same time striving to fit in. The teacher called for nominations for president — silence, of course, was the answer he received. I remember looking down at my paper and doodling — wondering when the bell would ring to release me back out into the hallways and the comfort of my friends, then, a hand went up… “Becky”, they said, “I nominate Becky”.

“Yes!” I screamed in my mind while still doodling nonchalantly on my paper.

“I second it”, another voice said from behind me.

“Yes, yes, yes!” I screamed even louder in my head, “They like me, they really really like me!” But wait… I thought. I don’t even have any lollipops with notes attached that read — Vote For Becky! How could I win without those lollipops?

A few minutes later, it was official… I was the president of the dorks, the note carrier to the teacher in the room at the farthest end of the hall — and proud of it. Fast forward to my sophomore year of college.

Homecoming queen nominations were being sought — the fraternity that my sorority was paired with was going over possible nominations. I wasn’t paying attention because tradition had it that a senior officer in the sorority received the nomination. Then… I heard my name in the distance, “Punky”, I listened closely with all the hearing power of the bionic woman. “Punky would win”.

I tried desperately to pretend to be paying no attention to the talks in the adjoining room but let my imagination cling to that thought a little too long. I saw my picture on posters, I saw me sitting atop a convertible riding through the stadium, I saw me standing in the commons area passing out lollipops with little notes attached that read — Vote For Punky!, I saw… “No, it needs to be a senior”…

:::poof:::

Fast forward to now. There’s a game on Twitter on Fridays called “Follow Friday”. The premise is, you send a “shout out” to the people you find funny and interesting and profound and mysterious (not necessarily in that order and not necessarily all in the same person), you tell others they should follow that person as well — a great big classroom presidential nomination.

I don’t participate too often, I always forget to give a “shout out” to someone and then I feel bad that I forgot them and then when I go back later to remember them it becomes very aware that I forgot them in the first place. The neuroses accompanied by Follow Fridays is complex. And… I think all of the people I follow are funny and interesting and dark and mysterious — that’s why I follow them in the first place.

But, still… I find myself checking in on Friday’s a little too obsessively, just to see. Once, maybe twice or 14 times — to see if I received any of those “shout-outs”, to see if they like me… if they really really like me. I think I should send a disclaimer each Friday morning that says, “I’m caught between not wanting to participate to avoid hurt feelings and desperately seeking a nod in my direction — also, I have lollipops.”

Classroom presidential nominations… homecoming queen nominations… follow Friday nominations… and of course, Facebook friend requests go in there somewhere as well. The yin and the yang, the ups and the downs… the virtual :::sigh:::

I think I’ll go check Twitter for those follow Friday’s, right after I look in on Facebook for new friend requests. But first, I’m going to finish getting ready to go out to dinner with a really nice person who knows nothing of Twitter or Facebook or the failed anticipation of a homecoming nomination. All he knows is I have a big bag of lollipops sitting on my kitchen counter.

Follow Friday, friend requests, or dinner dates? I’m pretty sure I know which one I like the best — maybe I’ll share my answer in a few hours. What about you?

In case you haven’t met her… let me introduce you to the next classroom president, the next homecoming queen, the next smash of Follow Friday and Facebook friend requests — this is the coolest of the cool girls.

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When I was in between my freshman and sophomore years of college, I was home during the summer and needing a job. Of course I was picky and coffee houses didn’t exist back then and the coveted jobs at the local record store were few and far between. A position came open as a “worker” at a day treatment program for adults dual diagnosed with mental illness and cognitive disabilities — seemed like an interesting job for a 19-year-old and luckily my mother was the director of the program… so, I had my job.

The clients there were endearing and mind-blowing and exhilarating — I remember their faces and most of their names. One of the clients, a man we’ll call “Scott”, seemed so interesting to me. He played football in his youth and still had the physique — 6’2″, broad shoulders, and handsome. He never spoke — never. He never smiled, he never frowned, he never changed his facial expression… always a flat affect. He was always by himself. He never joined the group — always alone. I found out that he had almost killed his 11-year-old cousin. His illness took over one night and he choked the boy — he was found to be mentally ill and placed in the day treatment program. To be honest, I was scared of him. I kept a safe distance from him, I always made sure I knew where he was, I never pushed him to participate in any of the groups.

I play the piano — a little anyway. We had a beautiful piano in my house when I was growing up. Our house was always filled with music — my brother is a drummer, my older sisters were in chorus, I played the trumpet and the guitar and we all played the piano. My mother was a musician — a vocalist. She had aspirations of being an opera singer. There was never a day that went by in my house that my mother didn’t sit down and start playing the piano and singing. We weren’t an average family. Our parents raised us to be independent and self-reliant and we weren’t exactly Ozzie and Harriet. But, it was very normal for us all to gather around the piano and start singing along — Billy Joel, Barry Manilow, Bette Midler, The Commodores. We always had plenty of songs to choose from — sheet music was everywhere. The piano was often the center of our universe. When we didn’t have words for each other, we could sit down and play a song and inevitably someone would come in and sing along.

There was a piano at the day treatment facility. It never got used and was desperately out of tune. Still, I couldn’t help but sit down and play a song each day as I passed by. No one ever joined in to sing — I was usually ignored. Until one day, I sat down and started playing “Endless Love”. “Scott” came over and sat down next to me. I started singing in my best Lionel Richie voice and hoped my nerves wouldn’t show through as he gazed at the piano and then at me. When I finished, his expression was still the same, he still didn’t talk, he still didn’t smile. And I left him there at the piano.

My summer came to an end and I headed back to college — always thinking about the people from the program and sharing their stories with my friends (my summer job was much cooler than working at the record store). When the next summer came around, I was very eager to reclaim my job at the program and luckily many of the same clients were still there — including “Scott”. The therapists were anxious for me to see everyone and said I would be surprised at a few of the people and their progress. On the first day, “Scott” was the first to greet me. He walked up to me and smiled and said hi. We had a conversation — a real conversation. He walked away to go help some of the other clients — he had become a group leader and was perfect in that role. He eventually made his way to the piano and started playing a song — apparently he knew how to play but had stopped when his mental illness started to control him. A few clients gathered around him and started to sing along with him… and me, I was there too.

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Audio — Easily Forgotten <~~~ Disclaimer! 😉 This is my first attempt at an audio recording and it didn’t actually work. That Is All!

I rarely have trouble remembering the people who have passed through my life and left their mark on me. It’s not often that I forget the things they said or the things they did or the way they treated me. I remember simple interactions that should not, in the grand scheme of things, have settled into my memories. I should not have kept them, I should not recall them at will to relive those times that meant something to me but were just a simple passing to someone else — but I do. I guess that makes me a bit strange or difficult to be around. I’m the one who remembers that phone call you made to me just to say hi and the laughs we shared while we were at lunch and that postcard you mailed that arrived just in time to brighten my day. But, despite my ability to remember some fairly insignificant facts — I sometimes have trouble recalling a name.

I become very aware of this in my work and… Facebook. In my work, I have meaningful contact with a variety of people. We will become fast and furious friends and comrades to problem solve a tough case and for several weeks we spend enormous amounts of time together — then, it’s over. I move on to the next tough case and they become a memory — one that I lose, one that I have difficulty recalling the specifics of… their name escapes me. I often feel the same disconnect with Facebook. I see a face and I think I must know them because most of my friends know them so I must know them as well. But the name holds no meaning to me. And their face seems vaguely familiar but is lost in my over-crowded memory. I wonder… is this me? Is this how I appear to some of you?

I was recently talking to a close friend about fears and if the fears we (and by we I mean me) were having were actually valid or completely made up. I think I have an old person’s fear — the fear of being forgotten. This could possibly be the driving force behind some of my more needy interactions.

I remember when my father had first been diagnosed with lung cancer. We had googled the statistics and knew the overall outlook was grim. He had really never been faced with his own immortality, even at 70, because his health had always been impeccable. At 70, he had never been hospitalized for anything… ever. So, the outlook of lung cancer hit hard. One night in a tearful exchange, he said his biggest fear was for the babies of our family. He was afraid they were so young that they would forget him and how much he loved them. I assured him he would live on in their thoughts — he could rely on the movies and the pictures and me — he could rely on my memory for the minute to tell his stories.

So… back to my own fear of being forgotten. Perhaps this is why I developed such a quick wit (yes, I’m funny in person… I swear). Perhaps this is why I feel so strongly about the words I choose to leave here upon these pages. Perhaps this is why I make sure I remember those simple words and everyday occurrences that bounce off the majority of the people and stick to me. I want to be able to walk away and still have you hold my name close to your heart. I want to be able to leave your side but still have you whisper about me in my absence. I want you to remember that none of us should be easily forgotten.

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My hand has hovered over the “deactivate account” button many times in the last two weeks — but, I can’t seem to drop it down and sever my ties… my connection to the people on the other end. The reasons why I have thought so often about pressing that button are so juvenile that to tell you here would only give you way too much insight into the 12-year-old mind that often overtakes my psyche — so, I won’t. But the reasons why I can’t follow through — why I didn’t and am convinced I won’t follow through might be worth sharing… so, I will.

I can already see the puzzled, “what the hell is she talking about”, look on many faces as you read this. I can also see the smiles beginning to curl around the ends of the lips as the recognition makes it’s self known to you others. In this instance, I’m speaking of Twitter. But, before I lose those of you who don’t use twitter, let me say… it’s about life and connection and friendship and encouragement and anger and intrigue and crushes and flirting.

A few years ago, my 10th high school reunion was scheduled. I very much wanted to be a part of this celebration — to see and to talk and to hug the people who I hadn’t seen for 10 years — the same people who just 10 years earlier I couldn’t make it through a day without connecting with on some level. As fate and timing would have it, it didn’t seem too possible for me to attend. My grandmother had just died and I drove home from Missouri (8 hours) on the day of the reunion as my daughter, then six months old, screamed the entire journey (8 hours). I reached home crying, frazzled, in need to run away and with no intention on making it to the reunion that would begin in less than an hour. My parents practically threw me in the shower and shoved me out the door — so, I went. I had a great time that I can still see vividly in my thoughts, 14 years later. The connection and the flirting and the anger and the friendship were all there — waiting for me to drink it (and a few margaritas) in. Even though I hadn’t spoken to many of these friends in 10 years.

This scenario repeated itself during my 20th high school reunion. My father was scheduled for surgery to remove his cancer infested lung the day after my reunion and I was in no mood to attend. But my best friend, my soul sister, had flown in from Montana (at my constant prodding) to attend. So, there I was — being thrown into the shower, being forced to dress-up, being tossed out the door and into one of the single most wonderful nights of my life (hint: there were margaritas). Even though I hadn’t spoken to many of these people in the 10 years since the last reunion.

So… back to Twitter. I stumbled upon Twitter when I was bored and hanging out in the Alive Hospice house during my mother’s final days. I dabbled here and there until I figured it out and began chatting with some funny interesting people. One of whom, (most likely unknown to her), encouraged me to start this blog. Twitter has broken me often (again, to explain this would be to give you far too much insight into my 12-year-old mind), but it has saved me more times than I can count. I started exercising and eating healthy and losing weight and writing and expressing and sharing and connecting and laughing and joking and thinking and breathing… I started breathing. Everyday, I take a breath and locate my friends and chat. Everyday… not every 10 years.

My hand hovers, as of late. It wants to disconnect my mind from the world at my fingertips. It wants to separate me from the thing that has, at times, left me emotionally naked. But I know what the friends I’ve met have given me. I know what this blog has given me. I know what breathing and thinking and connecting and caring have given me. So, my hand may hover on occasion over that “deactivate account” button, but it won’t follow through — I won’t let it. Already this week I’ve talked to three people who I have a strong emotional connection with, I’ve chatted with three New York Times best-selling authors about dogs and treadmills and vacations, I’ve chatted with friends about their health and their jobs and their love life. I’ve connected with real people, who like me, have real lives and real feelings and real emotions. Who have you connected with?

Picture from Kind Over Matter

And… a bonus song!

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I was doing my yoga practice this morning. And, as has been a common occurence this summer, my youngest daughter had made her way to my bed when she awoke and was watching my TV. It is a bit difficult to concentrate on the yoga video playing on the laptop while hearing Phineas and Ferb scheme in the back ground — but still, it’s a nice time of my daughter asking questions about yoga and me trying to explain a feeling to her. She often joins in, as she did this morning.

She became very curious this morning when I had finished with my practice and was beginning my savasana. She asked if I was ok. Sometimes I find myself crying, only slightly, when I’m doing savasana. I’ve gotten so used to it I wipe my tears and sweat without thinking. But this morning, I had company. So she asked if I was ok. I was, actually. I was very ok, actually. I explained to her what savasana was and asked her if she wanted to try — she did. I positioned her next to me in the corpse pose and then resumed my own. And there we were, lost in our thoughts — together. After a couple of minutes I felt her soft warm hand making its way into mine — and there was my connection. Lying beside me, steadying my thoughts and nurturing my soul — her soft warm hand did all of that… and I wiped a tear from my cheek.

Later in the day, as my older children were off at a swimming party, my youngest and I set out to the movies and dinner together — I can’t imagine a more perfect date. We settled into our seats at the theater and were immediately captivated by the previews. When the movie started, it had some scenes at the beginning that were a bit sad. I reached over and held her soft warm hand in mine once again, there in the dark of the theater during the sad parts. And she smiled at me. And we were connected.

I was talking with a friend recently and told her of how my kids had spent their first night away from me and at their father’s house. She asked, in a very concerned voice, how I was. My reply was quick and sure because I was great. I told her it was nice to be alone with my thoughts and a book and this keyboard. I told her it was refreshing. Her distorted look let me know I had committed a “mommie crime”. So I immediately added that I was sure it would be difficult next time.

Well next time is here and still… I’m good. I’m here, in my room typing away on this keyboard uninterrupted and although I love my children more than words can describe, I am here, in this moment, content and happy and once again surrounded by a lovely silence.

I’ve never claimed to be the best mother, I’ve only claimed to not be the worst. I rarely ever left my kids to go out with friends. I have used a baby-sitter less than 5 times that I can think of — my oldest is 14. I used to think this meant I was better than most. I stayed home, I put off my life to ensure theirs. Now, I question many decisions. I read this post by a wonderful writer, mother, and friend. And I started to question. Questioning leads to improvement… I hope.

So, tonight, on the second night that my children are sleeping over at their dad’s house, I am content. I am profoundly content in my aloneness and in their awayness. I am here, in this moment, and I am resting comfortably.

Tomorrow night, when my kids are back here, I will read them stories and I will talk about boys and girls and video games and I will kiss them goodnight. And I will reach for that soft warm hand that nurtures my soul and I will be connected. But tonight, I will talk to my best friend on the phone, I will turn the TV off, I will read a few favorite blogs, I will eat a bowl of cereal for dinner. I am learning to be a better mother, a better person… a better me. It’s never too late to improve and it’s never too late to get back to basics.

Picture from Kind Over Matter

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I’ve been thinking a lot lately about sinking and swimming and leaping and moving on and standing still and … well, you get the point. And reading this post, by the magnificent Judy Clement Wall, made me (as usual) think about events in life that we all face to some extent. We are all bound together in this life by love and loss and death and belonging. It’s what we do at the denouement that separates us, really. I like to think that I’m leaping and moving and continuing, but sometimes I wonder. I wonder if using the words… writing them or speaking them or thinking them is all I’ve been doing.

Sinking can be scary. When you quit struggling or quit attempting or just quit… that’s it, you sink. And you can’t breathe and you can’t move and you can’t hear or feel or think. And then, there in the sinking, you find a moment’s peace — when you can’t hear or feel or think and you take a deep cleansing breath. And your lungs suddenly expand with the want of more and you softly float back up and peek out from under the wreckage. And in that moment, the sinking becomes pure ecstasy. And you wonder why you were afraid to sink at all.

Swimming can be scary. You realize you’re going under and you jump in to avoid it — to avoid the crash. And you can see the distant shore of a friend or a loved one and you hope you have the strength to make it there… to make it to them. And it hurts to breathe because you’re struggling so hard and you become tired and you become scared at reaching them at all because what if they don’t realize how far you just swam. But then a hand reaches out and you feel the warmth of the connection and your pulse intensifies and you breathe deep and cover the remaining distance like you were made for this… like it was easy all along. And you wonder why you were afraid to swim at all.

Sink or swim.

I choose neither. I choose both. There is balance in both. There is connection in both. There can be vital life affirming outcomes reached… as long as you don’t remain steadfast in the sinking or hell-bent on the swimming. As long as you realize when you’ve reached that point, the point when it’s time to move again, the point when it’s time to stand still, the point when it’s time to shift, the point when it’s time to breathe.

Sink or Swim.

You don’t need a third option — the best two options are there for you… waiting for you to take a chance, waiting for you to decide… waiting for you to sink or swim or both. We pass through this life and we find the others that were made for us… the ones we were supposed to find — the ones that bring us the missing pieces to the puzzle. And when we find them, we realize why we took another breath when we thought our lungs were done. We realize why we kept swimming when we thought our hearts could beat no more. We realize we’re here… connected by the need to rise up from under the wreckage and swim for the shore.

Picture from Kind Over Matter

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Last night was one of those nights when my bed became the gathering place for my kids. I actually enjoy these nights, periodically. I’m not sure what prompted it… no storms, no bad dreams, no fevers — just a need to gather together. I like watching them as they drift off to sleep. My youngest has a habit of placing her foot in a position so that it barely touches my leg — as if she just needs a slight bit of reassurance that I’m there, with her.

When I was around 11 years old, I began sharing a room with my sister who is just a couple of years older than me (up to that point I had shared a room with my brother, I’ll skip those stories — they involve smelly shoes). We have always been complete opposites in our looks, our personalities, our interests. We were constantly reminding people that we were sisters. She was always soft-spoken, shy, nice, vulnerable — people were drawn to her, to protect her. I was, well… the opposite. I was outspoken, witty, never shy, always the first on the dance floor, never in need of protection.

We had twin beds that were parallel to each other in our room. We would laugh ourselves to sleep very often — comparing our days… our differences were minute to us. But very often, when she was just on the verge of sleep, my sister would hold her hand out across the span between our beds and insist that I grab hold just until she was asleep. I reluctantly complied — usually. Once she was asleep, I let go and drifted off myself. I actually liked holding her hand.

I don’t know what it is about human touch — why it’s so important. I often think about children who grow up in environments that are not nurturing, that don’t promote touch — hugs, hand holding… all absent. It must be incredibly stifling to live in such a world. Painful even.

My sister and I aren’t that different anymore. She has learned to be out-spoken and strong while I’ve learned to be a little vulnerable and hold on to a friend’s hand when needed. A simple human connection can be all that’s needed to steady a shaky composure… to quiet a wandering mind… to calm an underlying tension.

So, I like those nights when I can provide that for my kids. Once in a while, a simple connection can assist in a much-needed sleep. Once in a while, a simple connection is all that you need.

So, by now you’ve discovered my love of the word breathe and my need to be reminded to just breathe”. This incredible visual art representation of the word, by the incredibly talented Judy Clement Wall, helps me remind myself. I also am a fan of Kahlil Gibran — thought you might enjoy this poem.

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