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Posts Tagged ‘love’

these are the things I’m not…
a sea of scattered storms,
thunder and lightning,
swirling winds out of control,
a ship being tossed.

these are the things I’m not…
a wandering child,
shivering from the chill of each forward step,
paralyzed by the unknown monster in the closet,
a fear lurking around a corner.

these are the things I’m not…
a book with too many words,
a pinball thumping from bumper to bumper,
a string of incoherent thoughts,
a poem that doesn’t rhyme.

these are the things I’m not…
a tally of all the wrongs,
the number of people who slipped away,
a mourning of memories,
a road going nowhere.

these are the things I’m not…
a limit on my possibilities,
a crack so small the light can’t get through,
a shadow blurred and distorted,
a broken branch on the forest floor.

these are the things I’m not…
a star that lost its glow,
a speck at the bottom of the world,
a mountain without a view,
a soul who lost all hope.

I’m not…
giving up,
giving in,
playing dead,
rolling over,
glancing back,
sealed tight,
weeping silently,
stuck in the moment,
afraid to hurl myself at the blazing sun.

these are the things I’m not…
a story that moves too slow,
a song in a melancholy pitch,
the world caving in,
a novel that will never be finished.

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This is the air I dare to breathe….

The air I dare to breathe is sweet.
It’s calming, it’s blue….
like the water just past the shore,
leading out to the openness of the ocean.
You can see through it,
the colorful fish darting around.
It’s warm.
It’s inviting me to stay.

The air I dare to breathe is alive.
It’s movement, it’s green….
like the bush that grows out of control,
covering my step with all its wildness.
I don’t dare cut it to shape,
it’s messy.
It’s beautiful.
It tells me to sit down.

The air I dare to breathe is burning.
It’s love, it’s red….
like the quick glance from a stranger,
scanning my body for an invitation.
Looking away so our eyes never meet,
the blush creeping up my neck.
It’s remembering.
It reminds me to never forget.

The air I dare to breathe is filling.
It’s steady, it’s yellow….
like the sturdy hand of a friend,
grasping me so I know I’m not alone.
Letting go at just the right time,
my mind knows what my heart can’t see.
It’s learning.
It keeps hope in a safe place.

The air I dare to breathe is looking.
It’s searching, it’s gray….
like the crevasse in the mountain we climb,
giving me a place to rest.
Revealing my next stronghold,
unleashing the hero in me.
It’s living.
It has possibilities with each step forward.

This is the air I dare to breathe….

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Why can’t I tell my daughter she’s pretty?

Will that make her believe her sole worth is tied up in the beauty I see in her face? Will it ensure that she develops an eating disorder or a personality complex or make her vain or narcissistic? Will my name come up all too often in future therapy sessions because I told her she was pretty and that somehow manifested itself into me being a mother who put too much importance on her physical looks?

I was shopping for clothes at the local second-hand store with my kids and had two simultaneous realizations that… I suppose, are very much related.

My oldest daughter (who will be 16 in a few weeks), was drawn immediately to the rows of shorts — micro-mini-shorts. I said, “no”, without so much as a look in her direction. Then, her logic hit me… with overwhelming force, as most teenage logic does.

She stared deep into my eyes and asked, “do you think I’m a slut if I wear short shorts?”

 “No!”, I vehemently denied, without hesitation.

Of course I don’t think my daughter is a slut… what I was thinking about was if others would think she was a slut. The visions of Rush Limbaugh that floated through my mind at that very moment sickened me.  

Her words stopped me from traveling down a path that too many use as an excuse to defile girls… it made me remember this post I read a while ago about the amazing Eve Ensler. Our clothes and our looks should not define how we are treated by others… but often, it does.

This realization hit me like an elephant kicking me in the gut… how easy it was for me, a strong-willed-out-spoken-independent woman to fall into the trap of blame and shame.

My other realization was with my youngest daughter (8). She is, in childhood terms, chubby. I’ve been watching her gain weight the last couple of years… I changed her diet, began telling her the importance of eating fruits and vegetables, cut back on the high calorie meals, and cut out visits to fast food restaurants. Still, she steadily has gained weight. Her clothes are too long in length in order to get them to fit the waist. I worry and plan and worry some more.

Let me not fail to mention my son (13) — he went through a couple of years of chubby and now is thin… maybe too thin. I read an article on the growing number of boys affected by eating disorders. So, now I have my girls and my boy to consider with each word and glance and misplaced sigh of disapproval that escapes my body. I have to make a conscious effort to not fall into that trap of societal pressure — am I complimenting their brains enough, am I telling them how nice they are enough, am I encouraging their creative talents… enough?

So, here I am, in the middle of the consignment shop being questioned by my oldest as to if I think she is a slut for wearing certain types of clothes, ruminating about the food that I should and shouldn’t allow my youngest to eat, and wondering if I should be concerned about my son’s weight loss.

My horror at myself came when I grasped the uncomfortable fact that I was concerned about the perception of others… in some cases people I didn’t even know and probably wouldn’t want to know. I was concerned about how all of this would look reflected on me as a mother.

Later that day, when the stress was far behind and we had all retreated to our corners of the house, I googled “the best way to help your child eat healthy”. The first thing that popped up, surprisingly, was a direct answer to that question — “the best way to ensure your children make healthy choices in life is to let them see you make healthy choices”.

Okay.

Great.

Somehow it always rolls back around to being the mothers fault.

Now I realized I needed to focus attention away from my worries about the kids and look at myself… never a fun task. I had been eating healthy for over a year, my kids don’t even ask to go to fast food restaurants anymore, we have salads and fruits and lean meats. My oldest and I are currently practicing pescetarianism… the other two aren’t far behind. But, admittedly, I’ve been lacking on a steady exercise routine — this is where I needed to focus my change.

Last week I read an article about an article… I haven’t read the original article that seems to have pissed so many off. It’s in the April issue of Vogue and purchasing Vogue isn’t on my budgeted list. The original article by Dara-Lynn Weiss, talks about how she put her 7-year-old daughter on a diet. My dismay (along with others, I’m sure) is the way she went about it. In her own account, she talks about berating her daughter in public and focusing most of their private conversations around her daughters need to lose weight… I did mention she was 7, right?

I’m thinking Mrs. Weiss’ name will come up in future therapy sessions way more often then mine.

But… here’s the thing.

I think my youngest daughter is pretty and I do tell her this, often… physically attractive. I tell her I see her beauty in her mouth and her nose and her eyes that always pierce straight through to my soul. I see her beauty in the way she laughs and cries and screams and flashes those looks of contentment. I also think I need to show her how to be healthy by being consistently healthy myself — not by putting her on a diet or ridiculing her in public.

I think my oldest daughter is amazingly gorgeous — long and lean and silky hair and eyes that are a color that hasn’t been named yet. I tell her this often. She is also a brilliant reader and writer, an amazingly focused student, kind, and funny, and just the perfect amount of smartass to round her out. And I don’t think she dresses like a slut, I’m not even sure what a slut dresses like… a suit and tie, micro shorts, dread locks? I don’t know. And, I’m glad she stopped me as I ventured down a path that pisses me off when I hear others venturing down it — what we wear does not define who we are nor does it invite unwanted advances or unwanted criticism.

And my son… he’s absolutely adorable — long hair, long eyelashes, a smile that makes girls faint. I tell him how cute he is all the time. I tell him how kind he is all the time, almost saint like really. He’s smart and funny and laughs loud enough to catch a whole room on fire with his charm.

So, will they need therapy when they’re older — possibly.

Will they blame a mother who focused all her attention on their outward appearance — hell no.

Back to the article… I’m not necessarily counted in the “backlash” group. I’m not sure there’s an “I concur” group related to this but I’m sure I wouldn’t belong to it either. I’m just a mother who learned from the mistakes of my past and my mothers past and her mothers past. I’m a mother who thinks my kids are attractive and smart and kind and funny — the order of those changes, as it should.

My children, like your’s, are beautiful and have great hair and gorgeous smiles and enough intelligence to take-over the solar system and enough kindness in their souls to warm the Grinch’s icy heart.

I may think I’m shaping them into the adults they will become… but, really, they’re shaping me into the mother I will become.

Why can’t I tell my daughter she’s pretty?

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Shape me…

into the girl you thought I was,

dressed in ruffles with bows in my hair.

Tell me…

that love means hearts get broken,

that being bruised is better than nothing at all.

Hear me…

when I tell you my truth,

my truth doesn’t match yours.

See me…

when I wave my hands in your face,

desperate for a gleam of recognition.

Feel me…

when I’m tugging at your sleeve,

hoping for a minute of your time.

Listen to me…

goodbyes are important to get right,

this one seems so hollow.

Look at me…

past your keyhole view,

into the eyes of a complicated being.

Think about me…

questions coming into focus,

the searching will never end.

Accept me…

this is who I am,

standing here reaching, just reaching.

Shape me…

always learning,

always becoming more.

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I want to hike the Appalachian Trail and sleep outside for weeks… alone.

I want to join the Peace Corps and end up in some far off land for a couple of years… alone.

I want to camp underneath the redwoods in California and not take a bath and not wash my hair and walk around in dirty clothes and eat cold beans out of a can… alone.

I want to sit on a blanket in the middle of nowhere until a light bulb of recognition turns on in my head and I jump to my feet and howl with the wolves and right then, in that moment, I know… it becomes clear.

I want to do all those things so I can discover who I should be, what I believe, who I can be… who I am.

But I can’t.

I can’t because I have kids and a career and a mortgage and a car payment and I have people who would think I was crazy. But, I’m not — I’m just 43 and finding myself.

So… what are my options?

How do we, as mothers and business leaders and teachers and people with our sanity, ensure that we keep our sanity in the quest to sort it all out?

A weekend excursion without the kids?

A five-mile run everyday while you listen to your favorite audio book?

A blog?

The options for those of us who have passed the point of doing all of our soul-searching before we “settle down and have kids” aren’t as limited as they seem.  We just have to be more creative with our time, more willing to parcel out our existential outings into shortened day trips or weekends away — or even a few hours locked away in our room to sweat it out with yoga.

To be stuck in a reality where you believe you are out of options is the most important battle you need to fight — stop believing, “this is it”.

A gray hair pops up and we panic, the pair of shorts that seemed loose last summer seems a bit snug now — I drive a Kia instead of a Land Rover. One glass of wine works like sodium pentathol. The waiter calls me ma’am. I can barely stay awake for the 10 o’clock news. Life has happened. But, I’m searching.

Searching for the me that I know I am. The me that tries to hide behind all the bullshit of life. The me that we all are, the business leaders and teachers and bus drivers and hair stylists and doctors and lawyers — the mothers. My searching is constant… my trying to be a better person is constant… my looking at myself is constant. Those times when I need to find myself somewhere at the edge of the ocean in California take a bit more planning these days — but, they still take place.

I can go on life-altering soul-searching journeys and still have my kids to school on Monday morning… as long as I set my alarm. I can sleep in the middle of the woods eating nothing but granola under the stars at night… I just have to stop at the vegan deli on my way out of town.

Possibly, my soul-searching might need to take place in Vegas… a different kind of wild lives there.

I can even post pictures on Facebook to prove it’s possible to find yourself… one weekend at a time. I can tweet my run-ins with wolves and coyotes and snakes and poison ivy. I can blog about all the possibilities and where I know they will take me — take us all who are still searching, still unraveling the mystery.

My life is just beginning to unfold. My self-actualizing-soul-searching is at its height. I am poised and ready to live among the creatures of the night… for a weekend at least.

My life is just beginning… this is going to be fun.

I’m 43 and finding myself.

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I sit and look out,

hearing the ocean rolling in front of me…

head back,

eyes closed,

… and I’m gone.

Counting on my daydreams to carry me away,

and they do, quickly…

I can taste the salt on my lips,

the uncomfortableness of the sand scratching my skin,

the breeze — the breeze is welcoming across my burning skin.

The sun is high in the sky but my daydreams don’t care,

they grab hold of my thoughts… filling my head with a world of forgotten promises.

Our truths are so varied but we end up at the same place,

a ship bringing us close to shore,

safely.

If I could fly… I’d spring out of this dream and jump in the waves,

I’d relax as the water churns around me,

I’d forget to remember that the world can be messy.

I’d forget to remember that bruising is a lesson I needed to learn.

I’d forget to remember my way back isn’t through you…

and it’s not here.

Not on these pages.

Not in empty words that bring me to my knees.

Not in a half truth.

Then I know…

the way back is in this wave,

carrying me steadily along,

building and building until it’s out of control,

a tidal wave spilling onto a beach because it got in its way.

The pain surges through my mind as I crash without warning,

left to sort it all out,

separate it into neat organized piles of chaos.

Here…

in the debris left behind,

is my beautiful star.

Here…

in the debris,

is my necessary truth.

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Just sleep,

I’ll sit here,

I won’t make a sound while I watch you contentedly as the night rolls around.

I’ll glance past the dark, making sure you’re asleep, I want to keep you safe… even in your dreams.

Is that alright with you?

Go play,

I’ll be here,

I’ll watch you from this chair as you turn the corner and I can barely see the shine of your hair.

I’ll squint my eyes until you’re far from my sight, I want to keep you safe… even when you play.

Is that alright with you?

I’ll drop you off,

Eyes straight ahead.

Whispering, “be careful”, before you open the door, and when you walk away I’ll whisper it once more.

I can see you lighting up the world with your smile, I want to keep you safe… even if I’m not on your mind.

Is that alright with you?

I’ll cry when you leave,

I’m sure of that,

I’ll walk past your room and take a moment or two, closing my eyes to think of you.

I’ll smile and touch your door, I want to keep you safe… even when you’re away.

Is that alright with you?

I’ll smile.

I’ll laugh.

I’ll wipe my own tears, I’m overcome with all those motherly fears.

Stand under my umbrella, it’s big enough for us both, I want to keep you safe… every minute of the day.

Is that alright with you?

Letting go is so hard,

The pain takes a seat just so it can linger.

No worries, this umbrella will keep you from harm, me underneath it with my outstretched arms.

I’ll welcome you back, I always want to keep you safe… even when I can feel your embrace.

Is that alright with you?

I’ll smile,

I’ll cry,

I’ll remember,

I’ll live.

I’ll walk away when I need to…

I’ll hang around as long as I can…

I’ll let go and I’ll hold tight and we’ll dance that dance…

under my umbrella.

Is that alright with you?

 

This poem was sparked by the incredibly talented Pam Carlson , her doodle magic and her ever sparkling, kind, lovely self.

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this is for the savior of the broken,

the writer of the story,

the singer of the song.

this is for the conjurers of the calamity,

the poets and the poem,

the artist and the collage.

this is for the books,

the words,

the stories we weave,

the mothers,

the fathers,

the way they make us believe.

this is for the gamblers who lose,

but still play the game.

the dreamers who dream,

not afraid of the flame.

this is for the beaten,

the bruised,

the scared,

the nervous,

the hurt,

the shattered,

the stuck.

this is for the ones who get back up,

for everyone who dares to move,

for those who keep letting in the light,

for those who stand facing the storm.

this is for the honest,

the conscious,

the diggers,

the searchers,

the seekers.

this is for the quest we don’t walk away from,

the puzzle we want to put together,

the lesson we keep learning.

this is for the blurry eyed star gazers,

the unabashedly flawed teachers,

the unapologetic hand-holders.

this is for you,

and me.

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Someday I’ll wish upon a star and
wake up where the clouds are far behind me ~~~ E.Y. Harburg

Step 1

Stay away, no… come closer.

I can’t decide.

I’ll wake up soon,

The world will be still,

I’ll breathe again.

Step 2

Left out here on my own,

To piss off the world.

I’d love to throw these stones,

But they’ll come hurling back,

Bruising me deeper with each collision.

Step 3

I’ll take the blame,

Whatever you need.

No more words drowning out the music,

No more impulses that can’t be controlled,

Just… stay.

Step 4

Just leave, go away,

I should always be alone.

The waves are so high,

They’ll crash on me soon,

Over and over and over.

Step 5 

It’s not brave to accept the inevitable,

There’s nothing poetic in letting go.

Giving up isn’t acceptance,

Caving in isn’t relief,

I’m not so… delicate. 

…  and the dreams that you dare to dream really do come true. ~~~ E.Y. Harburg

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I discovered this wonderful new website called, a human thing. It inspired this poem. Please go there and look around, it will make you feel all warm and glad to be a part of this wonderfully messy world that we all share.

… and we dance around in the chaos of the waves,
wondering what the tide will bring in.
shifting from side to side,
digging in our toes.
… a human thing
… and the waves pound us,
deep in the chest,
trying so hard to take a breath.
listening for the voice,

looking for the beacon.
… a human thing
… and we steady ourselves on the uneven surf,
waiting for the calm to fill us.
our religion is here,
where the waves battle the sand.
… a human thing
… and i turn my head to look at you,
the tightrope we’re walking between the waves and the shore.
connected by the messy beauty of love,
the grayness of that space between.
… a human thing
… and so many of us,
unbalanced on the sand,
a community of reluctant warriors.
the strength we see in the others,
inching our way closer to the waves.
… a human thing
… and we keep falling down,
it’s so hard to keep our balance.
i feel a hand reaching for my light,
pulling me to my feet.
… a human thing
… and connected together,
we’re much stronger in this space.
as we all breathe in the love from each other,
falling down,
messing up.
… a human thing
… and if we loosen our grip on each other,
we may get tripped up by the sand.
don’t give in to the sea pulling us under,
we’re all navigating the same stormy ocean.
… a human thing
… and these tangled words,
they tend to lead our messages astray.
but we’ll breathe and we’ll leap and we’ll evolve,
connected like kite strings,
drifting up from the surf.
… a human thing
… and somewhere in that salty mist,
our bare skin is so exposed.
we look at all the others gathered here,
holding each other in our hands.
… a human thing
… and love is so much easier than we realize,
a laugh,
an ache,
a song,
a story,
a smile,
a painting,
a poem,
a glance backwards as the words bounce around on those waves that are far less intimidating when we’re all shifting on the sand together,
this is who we are.
this is who i am.
… a human thing
… a human thing
 

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