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Posts Tagged ‘Kind Over Matter’

I’ve been sitting on these thoughts for about a year now… a year because I didn’t think I could put my thoughts to paper clear enough to be read and understood. Then I decided, yes… I could. An indication of what a difference a year can make in the evolution of a person.

I recently read a post over at Zebra Sounds and the author made the comment that we are “complicated beings”. I thought to myself, “Right?, Please explain it to me.” I think you really have no idea how complicated we are as humans unless you take the time to try to figure yourself out — to understand your own evolution, as women, as mothers, as daughters, as friends — the friendship of a woman is like no other. I’ve been making a conscious effort to figure a few things out this year. I think to say the last three years of my life have been stressful would be the understatement of the century. I knew where I was emotionally was not where I wanted or needed to be, but, I was stuck… unable to move forward. Stuck is scary.

I had a friend who mentioned therapy, she thought, maybe, I should try it (I was, admittedly, holding her captive in the rabbit hole with me) — I scoffed… not me, never. This friend said she thought I was one of the bravest people she knew and asking for help would just be one more example of my bravery. I didn’t really believe her, I should have. But I was stuck.

My world crashed.

I was not only stuck but lost.

I needed help.

There were a few days last September that completely rattled me, tossed me around like a kite in a tsunami. I was thrashing about, confused, disoriented, struggling to stay afloat when I could feel the tug of the under current dragging me down — but you would never have known, you would never have suspected.

I am a woman.

I am a mother.

I am skilled at the fine art of outward appearances.

When I say there are things I don’t really remember, it rattles me even more. But, thanks to google, I discovered that memory loss or memory confusion is a by-product of stress and anxiety — not an excuse for ill-behavior, just an explanation for a rational being having irrational behavior.

I think to try to describe depression would be too difficult, there aren’t enough words to paint a picture of the truly eery poetic thoughts and feelings that swirl around — it all makes sense, it’s so clear — the storms are beautiful. Then, the sun comes up and you see the illogical process of your thoughts and this continues… over and over, it continues. All the pieces fall into place and then they clang to the floor in a discombobulated mess of utter confusion… then, once again — clear.

All the while, you go to work and you drive the carpool and you pack lunches and you cook dinner and you have lunch with friends and you clean your house and you do the laundry because we are women, we are mothers, we are skilled at the fine art of outward appearances. This “thing” that had me in its grasp could not leave a smudge on my bubble.

I contacted a therapist… eeny meeny miny moe — that one will do, after all… I only wanted to pretend to seek assistance. I still didn’t think I needed help, I thought that if I went to therapy then I could steady myself enough to regain my shiny outward appearance — I, as sometimes happens, didn’t care about the turmoil on the inside. I was the only one privy to that information and I could handle anything. Several sessions went by, I did a lot of “uh huh”ing, a lot of head nods. I thought to myself that my therapist was really pretty and smart and compassionate and caring… she must be good for her clients, not me though. I was only here to get my outward appearance back —

I am a woman,

I am a mother,

I am skilled at the fine art of outward appearances.

A month went by, or two or five. I began to look forward to my sessions with my therapist, I began to trust her, I began to tell her the things I needed to tell her and I listened to what she had to say. I started to feel better. I slept… for the first time in several months, I slept. I started being honest with people, but mainly with myself. I started therapy for all the wrong reasons, because, when you suffer from stress and anxiety and depression, thinking clearly is not one of the benefits. But I continue my work because of the most important reason of all, me.

We are women.

We are mothers.

We are skilled at the fine art of outward appearances.

We are complicated beings. We mess up and we try to fix. We say the wrong things and we try to shove the words back into our mouths. We love and we let go. We laugh and we collapse under the weight of a shattered heart. We dream and we face reality. We hope… we hope that our hearts lead us back to the friends we’ve lost and lead us forward to those we have yet to meet. We hope the cracks let the love in. We believe in each other and we believe in ourselves. We are women. We are mothers. We are complicated beings — reaching out, holding on, surviving, loving, hoping. Hoping that we can guide each other past the murky water and the glass cage hearts, hoping you understand I’m a complicated being, shattering the outward appearance… reaching my hand out, hoping you’ll grasp it… again.

Because we are women,

we are mothers,

we are complicated beings.

Image from Kind Over Matter

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Dear Superman (or Batman or Awesomeoneman or what ever you go by these days),

Hi.

I wanted to write you a letter and introduce myself. I’ve been following your exploits for a while. Although, I guess being a superhero, it isn’t really called exploits… more like your job. Anyway, I’ve been going through some rough patches in life — nothing too bad… my house didn’t burn down, I haven’t been robbed, I have a good job. But still, life has a way of sometimes sneaking in some bad stuff just to keep us honest I guess. Life had been sneaking some bad stuff in on me lately. Now, I suppose when you get letters like this you are probably waiting for  “the request”, I assume people ask you for things a lot. You’re a little like Santa Claus aren’t you — people contact you when they need you, when they want something, when life gets bad? I guess that makes you feel kind of used. Well, maybe not this time.

You see Batman (or was it Superman or Awesomeoneman?), I’ve been sitting around in my own mess waiting for you to show up. I was under the impression that you could sense trouble, you know, spidey senses. So, I didn’t reach out to anyone… I stayed here, surrounded by my own mess. It kept getting bigger and I kept thinking it would level off or disappear or at least hide away for a bit while I regrouped. It didn’t. So I kept sending out these signals hoping you’d pick up on them, you being a superhero and all. It didn’t work. Maybe your super senses are off these days. I’m sure it’s hard being a superhero, you have a lot of people who need you and look up to you and want to just be near you, so… you didn’t pick up on my signals I was sending. That’s okay. I think my signals were crossed anyway. So, while I was waiting for you, a few things happened.

I panicked. I cried. I screamed. I panicked, again. Then… I paused. I looked around to see there were some things I could do myself — some things that didn’t require a superhero. I made some phone calls and talked to some people and stepped out of my mess for short periods of time — it felt good to be out there, away from the mess. But still, I returned to it because I thought you were coming. I thought if I stayed in the mess long enough you would pick up on those signals. Now, Superman, don’t get me wrong, I’m not questioning your superhero status, but maybe you need to not advertise your superpowers so much if you’re still fine tuning them.

Anyway, I waited some more. I sent out a few more signals. I panicked less and I cried less and I stepped out of the mess more — it kept feeling good. Each time I came back to take my comfortable position in the middle of the mess, it wasn’t quite as comfortable. There was less and less mess for me to sit in the middle of — the mess was disappearing. Then I worried that without my mess, you would never know I needed you. How would you sense my signal if I was cleaning things up for my self?

I’m not saying my mess is completely gone, it’s not been that easy. The mess is still here, but it’s easier for me to look at it and decide how to approach it from out here. It’s easier for me to see that it’s not that big and it’s conquerable… from out here. I don’t cry as much when I’m not sitting in the middle of it.

It’s strange, Awesomeoneguy, when I stopped waiting for you to fix it all for me, when I stopped waiting for you to fly in and protect me from it all… I realized you weren’t coming, I realized it was up to me.

Which brings me to why I wrote you this letter. I wanted to tell you thank you. I know that’s probably strange and sounds completely weird — and to be perfectly honest, I’ve been really mad that you never showed up. But… when you never came, when you ignored all my signals, I had to “do”. And I did. I am. So thank you for that.

I’m still waiting for you, but for a different reason now. My mess is vanquishable. I’m taking the steps to ensure that, now I’m waiting for you to see me… outside of the mess. It looks different out here — I look different out here. I’m hoping one of your superpowers is the ability to open your eyes and see.

Sincerely,

Me (you’re a superhero, you know who I am… right?)

Super Rainbow Dork Girl

… And a song.

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I have learned so much from God that I can no longer call myself a Christian, a Hindu, a Muslim, a Buddhist, a Jew. ~~ Hafiz

I read this quote recently, shared by a friend of mine who I think is quite wonderful — kajjajja. She always makes my brain go in to this weird orbit of thought… and this quote certainly did that for me.

I’ve been having some profound conversations with my kids lately — conversations that excite me and scare me and leave me hoping I said the right thing. Many of the conversations start with a question like this, “We’re Christians, right?”

At this point my heart usually skips a beat… these are the talks that are important to get right, these are the talks that lead to many gray areas and the gray areas usually are where all the good stuff lies — or so I read somewhere.

I hesitate… I breathe…

“Are you asking for a fundamental reason or are you asking for some type of clarification on your own thoughts?”, is usually my response.

Lately, at this point, the conversation usually turns to understanding differences in people — differences that mean we are all connected and we are all separated at the same time. Gray areas.

My children have been active members of their church for years, they attend youth retreats and youth events and bible studies and they feed the homeless and they collect clothes and gifts and food for those less fortunate. They read. They meditate. They ponder.

They tell me how they corrected someone when the subject of a mosque being built at ground zero that isn’t actually a mosque and isn’t actually being built at ground zero came up in a conversation. They tell me how they corrected someone in a conversation when a derogatory remark was made about a person who is gay. Then they ask me, “If we are Christians, why do we think so differently than other Christians?”

I hesitate… I breathe…

I don’t believe that a person who happens to be Muslim has a need to hate me simply based on the fact that they are Muslim and I am not any more than you should assume that I am a member of a hatred group because I was born and raised in the south — the deep south, where I know what it means to have a rebel flag flying outside of your business.

I do not believe that my friend who shares her life with another woman is any less of a good person based on who she fell in love with anymore than you should believe that I am full of good choices considering the fact that my own marriage did not pass the test of time.

I don’t need quotes from the Bible tossed out explaining why to me. I’ve read some wonderful things from the Bible and take away from it what I felt was important — the same as you and your quotes. But what really is the difference?

I guess my point is… how can we share a religious view if what I have read and heard and understand points me towards tolerance and kindness and what you have read and heard and understand points you towards exclusion and judgement?

I hope to continue to have these conversations with my kids, I hope they never feel compelled to stay silent when they know a situation calls for a voice, I hope they continue to learn that tolerance is always needed, that kindness is always welcomed, and that thinking is a great tool.

The whole purpose of religion is to facilitate love and compassion, patience, tolerance, humility, forgiveness. ~~ Dalai Lama

So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets. ~~ Jesus of Nazareth


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I distinctly remember recess in elementary school.

The girls would all gather in groups and begin walking the perimeter of the basketball court or the kickball field or huddle around the teachers in case any errands needed to be run. I never hesitated to say goodbye to my girlfriends and head straight for the group of boys gathered to play football. The boys didn’t exactly welcome me with open arms (you know who you are but I have forgiven you your transgressions — mostly). I was always very good at sports — better than many of the boys who would rather I didn’t prove it on a daily basis on the recess football field. They would often huddle up to discuss the next play and then announce, “This is a boys only huddle”, I stood by waiting — I never left the game. It only made me want to practice harder, to improve myself, to come back the next day and show them I was better. I spent countless hours in my back yard with my brother working on the fundamentals… working on enhancing my foundation.

I’ve been thinking about the 5k a lot lately. Thinking it was really an amazing experience… one I trained for, one I promised myself I would follow through on, one I want to repeat. My preparations leading up to the 5k were meticulous. I ate well, I walked often, I timed myself, I bought new super cute clothes — I had it all planned out… I thought. I lapsed the last two weeks before the race — I didn’t eat, I didn’t sleep, I barely exercised… I let life attempt to talk me out of completing this goal that was important to me — and it almost did.

Now that the race is over and I’ve been able to assess the good and the bad about what I did and what I can do better… it occurred to me that I forgot about the importance of a solid foundation — my shoes and my socks. I have good shoes… they were expensive and trustworthy and held together well under the pressures of getting on the treadmill each day. But, they were worn and tired and not quite up to the task of cushioning the blows to my feet and calves and thighs from the pavement below. And my socks… I never knew the importance of a good sock until the end of that race. I used my same old trusty socks that I had put on countless times — they always had been just enough before.

What I discovered early in the race that day, was that my trusted shoes and socks were not a strong enough foundation for the new challenges I was presenting to them — I needed an upgrade. I had worked tirelessly on preparing all the things I thought were going to be important… I prepared my body, I prepared my mind, I prepared my outward appearance — I forgot about preparing the core… the foundation on which everything else relied. The same old socks and shoes couldn’t handle the constant pounding from my stride against the pavement — they weakened my legs and my back and my arms and my thoughts… it was a chain reaction brought on by not paying enough attention to the foundation, not ensuring that it was strong enough for the new challenges.

It makes sense I guess, we think we have all the answers in our repertoire because we’ve experienced these things before and we handled them quite well in the past and we didn’t need to overhaul our foundation… our thinking… ourselves. But now, new challenges and new experiences force us to reevaluate our foundations. We have to look at things differently and seek upgrades in our life — upgrades can make all the difference.

So… since we’re talking about shoes and socks here, of course, my plan is to go out and see about upgrading my foundation — restoring some order to my life. Of course… we’re only talking about shoes and socks, right? So, what about you? Do you need to strengthen your foundation?

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I had this comment on a post not too long ago. I love getting comments here, all kinds of comments. Those of you who say, “yes, me too”, and those of you who reveal your souls. This comment has stuck with me. The commenter used the name “Confused”, which worried me about the message I was sending here (assuming there’s a message). It made me take pause before I replied. It made me wonder about the words I was leaving here. It made me wonder about my life.

The comment was wonderful, I replied the best I could. He replied… I replied again, and then — we were done. Here anyway. I wasn’t done with the thoughts swimming in my head — the feeling that I might have been stuck in a rut… that I might have been perpetually swimming under water. He hasn’t been back, that I know of (also, I don’t know if he’s a he). Shortly after that, I wrote this post and felt a sense of righteous indignation as I typed away on my keyboard that night and could literally feel my head bobbing out of the water… taking a deep breath and finally ready to move forward. I was hoping “Confused” might come back to see it.

Around the same time, I saw this picture on Kind Over Matter,

I thought to myself, “What would I do if I had no fear? Well, I’d write a post about setting myself on fire for starters.”

But, for a while, I’ve been thinking about this picture, about that post I wrote, and about “Confused”. It’s been a challenging few weeks. I thought this might be a good time to do a gut check to see if I was moving forward or if I was perpetually swimming under water. I started thinking about what I would do if I had no fear.

I know I would start a blog, if I had no fear. I would go to the edge of losing control and then turn around and come back… I would invite conversation with those who have a certain disdain for me — if I had no fear. I would open up my heart when I should keep it closed and I would open up my mouth and let the words flow freely instead of pausing and walking away and I would invite new people into my sometimes uncertain world — if I had no fear.

I would wrap myself in doubt and walk out the door anyway, I would beg for understanding when I know all you’ll remember is the begging, I would continue to show up at the party hosted by agitated strangers and enjoy the company — all, if I had no fear. I would put myself and a sleeping bag and a cell phone in my car and head out to my favorite camping spot… I would seek clarity even when it proved my actions were muddied with spite — if I had no fear.

I would raise my children to question those who speak contemptuously about others who don’t act or speak or live the same as them and I would take my kids to the fair when I should have paid that bill and I would accept the brutal honesty you offer and I would set myself on fire… daily, if I had no fear.

I would do the things I’m doing now. That’s how I know I’m moving forward, that’s how I know I’m not perpetually swimming under water — that’s how I know. How do you know?

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I think there must be something too difficult for us to discover when we learn to feel. Too difficult for us to see and think and believe. Learning to feel can make a sheltered heart heal. But it can also force you to realize why you sheltered your heart in the first place.

We hate and risk seeing the side of ourselves that shows our lack of understanding and empathy. To hate means you have lost understanding and acceptance. You have lost when you hate and if learning to feel leaves you lost in hate… you’re not feeling anything.

We love and risk losing ourselves to another’s whimsy. When we love we are free and open yet all at once scared and lost and wondering. Your heart can shatter and never heal — and there you are… back to learning not to feel.

We feel sadness and sorrow and get lost in it and no one knows why we’re sad because when we tell them, when we share our sense of sad with someone… we risk them being burdened by it too. Because people who feel, feel what the people they love are dealing with — some never had to learn to feel, they just do.

We feel happy and instantly want to share this feeling with the people we love. This is the feeling we want to give away like free cotton candy at the fair — before it melts and is gone, we want everyone to hold it close and feel it — it’s easy to learn to feel with happy.

When we learn to feel, we can’t choose the emotions that will chip away at the fortress forming around our sheltered hearts. Joy and euphoria from the people we love will topple those existing walls quickly. Yet we also have to accept the uncertainty and insecurities that come with happiness — for it will be replaced, if only temporary, by another feeling that may have us wishing for the fortress to quickly build back and surround us… keep us safe. When we learn to feel, we learn to feel it all. The anger, the sadness, the happy, the scared, the contempt, the love — the joy of newfound emotions.

Learning to feel can take your breath away and leave you shattered or it can build you up and help you grow — you grow when you feel. Growing means you are moving forward, it means your sheltered heart will open up and risk the pain of absence, it means you are learning to feel — and that is worth it all.

I found a few interesting places I thought you might like to visit:

  1. I really enjoyed this article and hope you will too, I think it goes nicely with learning to feel.
  2. I absolutely want you to watch this interview with Bindu Wiles, the mastermind behind the 21.5.800 adventure.
  3. I thought this was a hysterically brilliant idea — I’m going to do this, at least once anyway.
  4. Reading this made me realize, learning to feel can be scary for many people.
  5. And finally, this reminder from Kind Over Matter that feelings are everywhere — be gentle.

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