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Archive for February, 2012

I am currently going through a self analysis phase.  I am looking deeply into myself and seeing many shadows that I previously remained distant from.  This has not always felt good.  In fact, many times it has felt pretty bad; But today, I was uplifted by the simplest of things – The bluebird outside my window. 

The bluebird of happiness paid me a visit.  As I saw a flash of blue, I was transported to a lighter, happier place.  I was reminded of all the beautiful color in this world.

My mind recalled the numerous rainbows I have seen in my lifetime, that presented me with a blast of color after a storm.  I was reminded of the colorful fabrics and clothing that I have seen and worn and touched.  I remembered the variety of color and texture in the living food from my garden   I thought of the beauty of tree blossoms in the spring, changing leaves in the fall, and the vast array of colors and designs in the flowers of this world.  I thought of all the beautiful colors of the people of this world. A combination of hair and eye and skin color as unique as the person himself.   WOW! 

So much beauty and color does exist in this world and it brings me happiness!  I am so thankful that the bluebird outside my window reminded me to see it so I do not become lost in the shadows.

I wish you all a bluebird outside your own window!

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This post seems to be somewhat counter to my desire to lift people up and spread joy.  I feel like I should write only about the ‘good’ stuff…Happiness and joy and light and empowerment and all that.  After all, there is so much ‘bad’ already in the world that I really don’t want more.  I would rather remain joyfully separate from the ‘bad’, but the reality is that all the ‘badness’ is really inside me too.  The human experience really is, using my dad’s word, bittersweet.

So I want to give voice to a part of human experience that no one wants to talk about – suicide.  I recently experienced the suicide of two brothers-in-law within a short time.  They were on opposite sides of the family and were in no way related.  Suicide…out of nowhere…twice.  My view of reality was challenged.  I had a hard time understanding how they could not see beyond their pain.  Even in my darkest times, I have always been able to see beyond the current moment.

But this week, I came face to face with my own suicide shadows.  I came face to face with all the ‘shoulds’ I am not doing, all the ways in which my voice has been harmful instead of beneficial, and all the ‘bad’ thoughts I had been carrying.  But, mostly, I came face to face with the consuming feelings of utter and total worthlessness and fatigue.  I felt a darkness so dark and consuming I could not see the other side and I understood completely why someone would choose to leave this life.

I am leery about speaking this because there is a huge suicide stigma in our society.  If I speak of suicidal feelings then I myself will be labeled ‘at risk’.  This is truly such a dark and painful subject that it remains unspoken except in the shadows and in therapist’s offices.  I am not going to kill myself, but I would like to speak the feelings for many who couldn’t.  And maybe, just maybe, by speaking to the monsters in the dark, they will be allowed to come out for some illumination.  Can we learn to embrace the horrific and painful?

Suicide

My mind is tired

My body is tired

My spirit is tired

My soul wants to be free

from this eternal struggle

from this unending fight

The smile you see on my face

The laughter you hear in my voice

No longer reaches my spirit

The load of life is too much to carry

The backpack too heavy

Life has beaten me down

too tired to fight back

My fight is gone.

Feelings of being

worthless

valueless

purposeless

insignificant

alone

Haunt my days and nights

There is no escape

There is no reason to stay

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Poetry Rediscovered

When I was young, I loved to create rhyming, fun poems for gifts and for personal enjoyment.  In 5th grade, a friend and I put together a book of holiday poems for a class assignment and throughout my early 20’s, I spent hours playing with words and taking full advantage of the amazing tool called ‘poetic license’.

Well, as I went out into the world to work and make a living, this joyful hobby quickly took its leave from my life.  I thought that I could not ‘waste’ my time doing something that had no ‘real’ value in the world.  After all, writing poems would not pay the bills…

Well, I’m happy to say that in 2011, I rediscovered this joyful hobby.  I was taking a hike with my family and my nine year old son was complaining how much he was bored and his feet were tired and could I carry him and on and on.  So to take his mind off his woes, I got his creative mind working.  We used to create stories together taking turns adding sentences until either the story was complete or it got so crazy that we could no longer follow the plot line.  So this particular day, I started throwing out lines… “I am so tired. My feet feel like lead…”.  He immediately engaged and started in to complete the verse.

By the time we completed our hike, Jimmy was no longer tired, I had reconnected to the joy of verse, and, together, we had composed the following poem.  I  hope you enjoy it and that (if you haven’t already) you can rediscover a joyful hobby of your own.  Who knows…maybe someday it will pay the bills 🙂

Hiking with Jimmy

My family went out for a big hike today

And let me tell you, I’ve something to say

I am so tired.  My feet feel like lead

I just want to be home and plop into bed

My feet are so sore, we’ve been walking for hours

They have a strange scent that smells nothing like flowers

Under our feet, we hear acorns crunch

I want to go home and sit down for lunch

We’ve just got to stop, I can’t take one more step

My legs are like jello.  I’ve lost all my pep

My feet are so tired, that’s just what I said

Did I happen to mention, my feet feel like lead

We’re just about done.  There’s the end of our track.

I had so much fun, I want to go back.

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Strength in softness? That sounds oxymoronic. Is it even possible to be strong and soft at the same time? When I think of strong, I think of things like steel and oak, not cotton and downy feathers. I think of big muscles, unwavering positions, and people in power. I think of men…sorry women, but it’s true.

I have an image from my adolescence of Arnold Schwarzenegger with his shirt off and his muscles rippling every which way saying to us, “I will pump…you up”. He was a definitive symbol of strength to me…and ironically he continued on to be a political voice in our world, increasing his power and strength. My brain made a connection that this is what it meant to be strong.

Strength = Muscular Power

So here’s a truth I had a hard time making peace with: In contrast to men, women are soft. Yep, it’s really true. Physically, we have a higher percentage of body fat than men and most of us have curves and round hips and physical softness. Here’s the part that’s NOT TRUE: SOFT=WEAK. As a society we have come to view physical softness as BAD. I did. I viewed myself as weak because I was soft. I labeled myself as fat or flabby or un-toned or weak and in all these cases, those labels were something negative…something I did not want to be and something that made me unhappy with my feminine (weak) form. I lifted weights to compensate and became as physically strong as I could be because that was somehow better than being soft (weak).

It may be true that men in general are physically stronger than women, but does that mean women are weaker? NO! It merely means we are strong in a different way. We are strong in our softer feminine forms.

If we separate ourselves from the omnipresent masculine mindset, we’re able to see the strengths of the feminine physique. Softer and rounder than the masculine, our feminine bodies are like body pillows, cushioning in warmth and allowing for total relaxation and release. To be fully embraced by our feminine curves, roundness, and softness is to enter a place of safety, comfort, and peace. It is to be given permission to let go of worries, fears, and stresses. It is to enter a space of being in a world of doing.

Where do children first go for comfort, when they are hurting, when they are tired, when they are afraid? They go to the arms of the mother. They are comforted and safe in the arms of the feminine. Embrace me and release your fears. Embrace me and let the worries of the world fade away. Embrace me and let me take away your pain. The gentle, soft arms of the feminine are strong enough to hold all the burdens of the world and carry them away.

But there’s more. Being raised in this patriarchal society, I spent most of my life not only trying to be physically strong, but also trying to be forcefully strong in order to compete. After all, being forceful…being loud…being aggressive… That’s how we get things done in this world. Armies are forceful, politicians are loud and aggressive, and the winning army, country, or political party gets to create the new rules. Police officers, firemen, lawyers, managers, and professional and Olympic athletes are all forceful and demanding in achieving their goals.

But beyond humans, we also see strong forces in nature. Our landscapes and lives are drastically transformed by the powerful forces of nature: tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes, psunamis, volcanic eruptions, avalanches, etc. The powerful forces of nature are loud and forceful and result in change.

There you have it: Strength = Force.

But wait!

Is there a way to be powerful and strong without physical strength and force? Is there a way to create change in the world without all the pain and devastation that comes in the wake of these strong forces? Yes, with the softness of the feminine!

So how can there be strength and power in softness?

Consider the transformative power of a gentle breeze on your face, or a soft loving touch, a silent hug, or a kind word. These are the strengths of the feminine. Women, we do have power in our softness! It’s true that you can pound clay into shape, but you can also gently and patiently mold and shape it. You can stand strong in your beliefs, give orders, and demand to be heard, or you can lovingly, quietly listen and compromise a solution.

We do have a choice. We can change our world by externally applying physical strength and force or we can gently and tenderly create change in our world with our softness. The power of our softness allows our world to be transformed by lovingly remolding and reshaping our inner landscapes. The power of softness allows transformation without force and with little pain! Women, the softness of the feminine is exceptionally strong and necessary to our world and will balance out the powerful forces already in existence.

So as a woman of the 21st century, I have decided to stop trying to be strong like a man. I choose to forego the need to be forceful to achieve. I will instead be strong like a woman! I will see the beauty in my curves and my softness. I will be a soft place for people to land in a hard world. I will softly sing lullabies, gently present kind and motivational words, and offer a gentle, compassionate touch and a warm loving embrace to the world. I will embrace the softness of the feminine. I will be a place of comfort in a world of stress. I will guide with a whisper, and I will be a body pillow to the world.

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I was working on another post this morning when my 6 year old daughter woke up.  She said, “Let me guess,  the sun’s not up yet, right?”

“Well, actually, the sun is up.  It is just behind the clouds.”

A song from my husband’s playlists took a  happy little jaunt through my brain and I started singing a Brad Paisley hit from the Cars soundtrack:

 
Behind the clouds, the sun is shi..i..ning

There’s a big blue sky waiting right behind the clouds.

 
A smile came to my face and the kid in me came out wanting to play.

And bounding and smiling right along side little Vicki came Barney.  Yep, Barney, the big purple dinosaur that sings and plays on TV with American youth.

Now I used to be annoyed by Barney.  Before I had children, I used to think that Barney was worthless, stupid and annoying.  But that all changed when my first daughter came running into my arms to give me a hug and kiss while singing:

 
I love you, you love me, we’re a happy family

With a great big hug and a kiss from me to you

Won’t you say you love me too
 

The song that used to make me want to scream was now filling me with a warm loving feeling.  What a difference a day makes…or in this case, a child.

So with my second daughter by my  side and Barney in my head, I put my current blog post aside and started in on one of my personal Barney favorites:

 
It’s a great day…a beautiful day…

The kind of day that makes me want to say

I’m glad that I’m alive

I’m happy to be me

And that’s the way to be

 

See all the clouds go drifting by

See how the sun lights up the sky

On a day like this…summer, winter, fall, or spring

It makes me want to sing

 

It’s a great day…a beautiful day…

The kind of day that makes me want to say

I’m glad that I’m alive

I’m happy to be me

And that’s the way to be

 

See all the colors of the world

See all your friends each boy and girl

On a day like this when it’s great to work or play

It makes me want to say

 

It’s a great day…a beautiful day…

The kind of day that makes me want to say

I’m glad that I’m alive

I’m happy to be me

And that’s the way to be

 

I’m glad that I’m alive

I’m happy to be me

And that’s the way to be!

That is the way to be. I don’t care if you love Barney, hate Barney, or remain clueless as to who Barney is, that song has some of the best lyrics I know.  It always seems to make me feel, well, GREAT regardless of what is happening in my life. To quote the big purple dinosaur, it’s “Super-dee duper”.

I hope you all have a great day! I know I will!

Thanks Barney!

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“Oh, honey, don’t cry…be strong.”

“This might hurt a little, but be brave and don’t cry.”

“Don’t be such a cry baby!”

These are the voices that I heard as a child. I learned at a very early age that “If you cry than you are not strong or brave, but, you are weak and babyish.

The strong ones who can control their tears are looked up to and the weak ones who cannot are pitied and told to stop.

  • We feel embarrassed and ashamed by our tears.
  • We feel disappointed in ourselves for not being able to control our tears.
  • We hide our tears behind hands, tissues, bowed heads and closed doors.

Me, I feel proud of my tears.  I feel strong and powerful when I cry.

This was not always the case.  I had taken the childhood voices to heart.  I believed  I was weaker than others when I cried.  I was ashamed of my tears and quickly learned to stifle my tears as much as possible.  What I didn’t realize at the time was that when I stifled my tears, I stifled my ability to express feeling…I stifled my heart and I stifled my joy as well.  As I opened up to my feelings, I also came to realize the strength of my tears.

But how can crying be a strength?

Crying is a movement of emotions. It is a letting go of feelings. It is a transformative flow of energy. Crying is a powerfully transformative release. When we cry, we release pain, we release frustration, we release stress, and we even release extreme joy. We allow these feelings to flow freely from us leaving space for new possibilities and for healing.

You cannot fix a broken pipe if you cannot get through the wall to reach it. You cannot treat a wound if you cannot get through the protective dressing. Crying is a strong tool which allows us to get through the wall and find the broken pipe. Crying unwinds the layers of protection that we have wrapped around our wounds. Crying opens us up and allows for the opportunity to locate and heal the deep wounds within ourselves.

When we suppress our tears in an attempt to remain strong and in control, what we are actually suppressing is the natural flow of feeling through us. We stifle the natural movement of this feeling energy and in so doing we stagnate the powerful surge of the water of our souls.

It is known that stagnated, unmoving water creates a breeding ground for mosquitoes, algae, bacteria, parasites, and pollutants which in turn, leads to an environment of disease. By holding back our tears, by remaining strong and in control, we are actually creating disease in our bodies, our souls, and our world. We are adding layers of protective covering that prevent us from treating the wounds.

Tears of Snookie by Dan Lacey

By allowing our tears to flow freely into the world we have the power to heal not only ourselves, but others…not only others, but the world. Our tears have the power to transform the landscape of our world as flowing water reforms the earth. Flowing water has the power to redirect rivers. Moving water has the power to cut deep chasms through rock. Crying and the empathy, compassion, and release that accompany it can break down barriers and transmute any situation just as flowing water can erode a mountain; and the faster and more powerful the water is, the more rapidly the transformation takes place.

Our tears are the water of our souls. Our tears have the power to open up and cleanse even the most ingrained and festering of wounds.

So, now, I do not hold back or stifle my tears.  I proudly and confidently let my tears flow and embrace their strong transformative power.  I know that I cannot always control the events of the world, but I can transmute the energy of these events and heal the wounds with my flowing tears. I cry without shame.  I choose movement from self-control and stagnation, to a place of natural flow, and with the power of my tears, I create a new world.

 

I would like to give credit to the unknown photographers of the first three pictures.  I did not take these pictures, but found them on Google images.

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