Change, Choice, Courage, friendship, Growth, Relationships, Truth, Uncategorized

Having Hard Conversations

I am with a friend this week and a hard conversation comes up.  If you are in the US you know we having a lot of division regarding the killing of blacks by police. That is a stark statement, but that is what is happening. So people are lining up and taking sides. And we have peacemakers who say #lovematters or #alllivesmatter. But it does seem we called upon to choose a side. That is a problem for me. I know there is good and bad in each segment of the population. I can’t really choose to support one side over another.

But apparently my friend could, as she came down on the side of the police. And she made some racist statements and then ended it by saying “well, I am a bigot” in this offhand manner. I know I was supposed to laugh it off, I know I was supposed to ignore the statement. I know she expected me to support her or at least not call her out. Sigh.

These are the hard conversations, when it is your friend, your family, someone you want to have  a continued relationship with. It is easy online to stand up for what you believe. It is easy when you are in company of like minded people to stand up for what you believe. It is easy when you are disguised behind a keyboard to stand up for what you believe. It is hard when you are one on one with a friend and you have to say “well I am not a bigot, and this is why”

But I did it. If I am going to present myself as a person who does believe that all lives have value and that we have a problem with racism in our country, then I have to stand up and say that. Am I willing to risk being uncomfortable or offending a friend?  Are my beliefs worth that?  Yes. Am I willing to say I feel differently than you, I believe you are wrong? Well I guess I am.

speak the truth

So we had a conversation and I saw some of where she was coming from.  Her experience with a black person (beyond superficial) was not a good one. It was traumatic for her, and the police were her angels. And from that place she built a belief system on who is right and who is wrong. And the police came out on top.

I know what she went through was hard, and she struggles with it to this day. But I have a different experience. I have a close long term relationship with a black man . I have friends who are black. I am able to hear and see some of their struggles first hand. And I shared that with her. Maybe, just maybe, she saw some common humanity in all of our struggles. Maybe.

But this is what I know. My job is to speak my truth, even when it is uncomfortable. My job is to back up my thoughts with my words. Even when I don’t want to . It is not enough to stay quiet anymore. It is not enough to not “rock the boat”. That is how we got in this mess. It is not about being loud or forcing my ideas and beliefs on someone else.  I can speak respectfully, I can listen to the other side and I can learn from a different point of view.

But I will not be quiet anymore just to keep someone comfortable. I will speak my piece and call out racism, homophobia, misogyny or any other belief that keeps people down. If you are uncomfortable with that, I am not even sorry.  Because it is when we are uncomfortable we know we have work to do.

So speak up,  have those hard conversations. That is how we will make the changes we all want and need in our lives. Stand up for what you believe and do it with Love. Be willing to be the one who opens the conversations. Be Brave.

Namaste

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Choice, Daily Life, Growth, Inspiration, Relationships, Uncategorized

Letting Life Unfold

I am getting better at this, letting life unfold. But wow, it is hard.

Just like everyone at any given moment in my life, I have a lot of balls in the air. Most are not even related to each other. They are unsettled and undecided.  Who knows how everything is going to shake out. And it is hard for me to not start grabbing the balls and placing them where I want them.  And why shouldn’t I?

Well, for one thing that takes a lot of energy. Moving those balls around, convincing other people this is where they should be. Watching them in case one starts to roll. Feeling responsible that they are all well cared for and in good shape. This is a lot of work. And I am missing the moment and joys of today with all that rushing around.

And then what if the balls I am taking are not even mine? That is important to know, is this mine?  Just because something is in my field of vision does not make it mine. I have to be conscious of that and not take over what belongs to someone else. Here is a little example I have right now. My beloved friend is going through a break up. It is hers. I can be supportive, I can offer a shoulder to cry on, an ear to listen with and a caring heart. But that is it. What they do with it, not my call. The lessons they learn, not mine. So as close as my friend is to me,  I am an observer in this.

Here is another, I am looking for a new position.  I work in an agency that has opportunities within my division and beyond. So I have spread my wings, took the tests and am interviewing in a few different areas. I want to take this ball and move it the way I want it to go. But I cannot see beyond the immediate moment right now, and I need to allow for the bigger picture to unfold. So I just move through it. I take the situations placed before me and do my best. I try to stay in a place of ease and grace. I stay with the knowledge that all of this leads me to my good and I need not rearrange the balls. Let life unfold.

Relationships…..this is where I really want to push. And it is the one area that I need to use the most restraint. Because really, a job, housing, a purchase, a decision on education or travel, that is all about me. And if I screw it up, I am the one who gets the lessons. But relationships, I am not in control here. I do not get to decide how someone reacts, what they want, and how they show up in my life. But if I can let life unfold the relationship, in whatever form it takes, it will be authentic. And that is what I truly want.

“As someone who has faced as much disappointment as most people, I’ve come to trust not that events will always unfold exactly as I want, but that I will be fine either way.”

Marianne Williamson

I do have to be responsible and accountable. I can’t just do nothing. I have to be an active participant in my life .I set the context for what I want in my life and I let it unfold.  I have keep my eyes and my heart open and act accordingly. But I don’t need to be stressed or worried. I can remember this is not all on me, it is me with God.

So I am going to sit back and let life lead the way. I am going to stay in a place of trust that all good comes my way and I need not push it. Life is to be enjoyed and there are wonders around every corner.  This is a wonderful amazing journey and I want to be open to where ever it leads. By following my intuition and my heart, and having trust in the Divine,  I can enjoy the ride.

Namaste

 

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family, Gratitude, Growth, Healing, Love, Mother, Relationships

Mother’s Day Without Our Moms

For myself and many of my friends we have Mothers day without our mothers. Be it mom, grandmother, aunt, mothers of our heart, the woman that loved us. They are passed, Whether 1 years, 5 years, 20 years, it doesn’t matter. There is an empty spot where mom should be. There is a sweet longing that comes up, a melancholy for times past and the feel of her hand on my face. I miss her voice, I miss knowing someone loves me, no matter what. I miss having her support and her unwavering belief in my good, even when I wasn’t . That is what a mom does. I miss having that wisdom ahead of me, teaching me. I miss having someone to rebel against. I miss that feeling of two women in the world determined to live their own lives and still be so interdependent in each others. I miss her laughter, I miss her fierceness. I could go on and on.

And I know this is the same for so many of my friends. We are at an age where the torch is passed and we step into the spots our mothers and fathers left behind. There is honor in that. There naturalness and beauty in that. But still, on these special remembrance days, there is a wistful sadness for times past. I guess the best we can do is honor our mothers and stay in a place of love. Take the day and recognize the woman who raised us to be the people we are today. And celebrate the present with the humans who are here with us today. For someday, we, or they, will be a memory. so make it a good one.

Happy Mothers Day my friends.

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Choice, daily practice, Growth, Healing, Love, Relationships

Go Where the Love Is

You know how phrases get caught up in your mind.  You could call in an affirmation, a mantra, or simply something that is stuck in your head.  For a few days now this is mine….Go where the love is.  I have struggling lately trying to get my footing again in the world.  I make a few steps forward and then life comes along and blows me down a different path.  And I need some healing, some way to stay in my center.  So, go where the love is.

Love is everywhere.  It is not a person or a place.  It is that and more.  Love is a feeling of being wanted, being welcomed.  Whether walking among the redwoods or laughing with a friend, there I find love.  Love is a feeling of peace in my heart, I can find that in a sanctuary or by the water.  I can find love in a good meal, a good book, watching a little league game or while writing this. Love is a state of being, a calmness within that allows me to recognize I am supported by the Universe and that God wants only to give me my good.

And my good is love.  So why not go where the love is? Why spend any time in places or with people that do not support this?  Sometimes I am strong and I can go out there and be the love of the world.  I can take on the haters and show love anyway.  I can let their opinions and negativity roll off my back.  I am armored in love. I can lead the way.  Those are amazing times.

And there are times like now, I am more fragile, I have broken pieces.   I love this practice from Japan.  How they fill the cracks with gold and the piece becomes even more valuable.  I want to fill my cracks with love. That is how I will heal myself. fill with gold I will be richer, more valuable and have more depth in my soul.  I will let these jagged pieces smooth with love.  I will patchwork myself back together with love.  I will breathe in love  and I will breath out peace. Love is the strongest force in the Universe.  Love always wins.  Love is stronger than hate, sadness, fear, despair, anger, apathy.  So letting love heal, I will be amazingly strong.  My cracks and fissures full of the most valuable energy ever known.

So I have to go where the love is.  And that means listening to the call of my heart.  That means saying no to the people, places and things that do not love me.  In those circumstances where I know I am out of balance I have to step away.  I must close my ears when I hear things that do not support loving me.  When I feel uncomfortable or anxious I have to look at what I am doing and who I am with. I have to be willing to step away and say this does not support my healing.

That can mean letting go of people or circumstances already in my life. Although I am pretty careful about who I let in,sometimes someone comes in through a crack. Perhaps I am lonely or emotional.  Maybe I think they need me, my ego wants stroking.  It could be an outgrown job or social connection.  Old friends, who somehow have hung on.  And it  is mainly me, holding on to fears and outgrown ideas.  Hanging on to the past to avoid the future.  Clinging to today because tomorrow seems scary and unknown.

So right here and now this is my mantra, this is my daily prayer…..Go Where The Love Is.

And when that moment is done, again, Go Where The Love Is.  and again and again.  Stay where the love is. Only accept love.  Fill myself body and soul with love.  Seal those cracks with love. Be Love. Live Love. Breathe Love. Stay where there is Love. Because that is what will save me, Love will save me. Love will make me whole.  And then, armored in Love,  I can step out as warrior for Love.  So then, when you need to “go where the Love is,” I am here for you.

Namaste

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challenges, Change, Daily Life, family, Growth, Love, Relationships, Self

Feeling Guilt and Moving Forward

“The problem with surviving was that you ended up with the ghosts of everyone you’d ever left behind riding on your shoulders.”

Paolo Bacigalupi, The Drowned Cities

Guilt…..guilt of all kinds does not feel good.  That feeling inside of us when something is wrong.  I think you have to be basically a good human to feel guilt.  We have to have the self awareness that our actions or even simply our thoughts, might have caused harm; to other humans, to our planet, to the animals, even to ourselves. So I guess guilt can be a useful tool on the road to growth and self knowledge.  It helps us see what feels right and what does not sit well.

This is what is coming up for me, Survivors Guilt.  Yes I used capitals, yes it feels big. This guilt was not brought on me by anyone but myself. And it comes out of love. I tried to talk about it in class the other night and I could not move the words out of my body,  Maybe I can write them out.

Here is the deal. my sister had a stroke last fall.  She is not really recovering well.  She is in pain every day.  Her left side is compromised and she does not have much use of her left arm and hand. Yes, she goes to therapy, yes there has been improvement, but the truth for today is that life is hard for her.  And I feel horrible.  And I don’t know how to step out of that place. She is my best friend, cradle to grave, she is my girl.

So I try to give her what she needs.  It seems what she needs most is space.  I can’t really get close to her.  I try,  I call, I ask to stop by, I invite her places.  Mostly she shuts me down.  She is in pain and all of those things make it worse.  So we text, maybe talk on the phone.  Yesterday for instance, it is a beautiful day here.  I am headed out for a walk at the lake. I text her to see if I can stop by and visit.  She says no, hard day, going back to bed.

Okay, I go ahead with my day, but there is a sadness and heaviness in my heart.  Because I am out there in this beautiful day with people, and sunshine and laughter.  I am engaging in life, I feel good.  And my sister, my best friend, is laying in bed in pain. How the fuck am I supposed to feel good?  I know it serves no purpose to feel guilty about my good day.  I know she does not want that.  But when I love someone it is hard to be joyful and happy when they are in such a difficult place.  Even though I know it is her path, not mine, I cannot separate my feelings and my humanness.  I have to figure out a way to move forward in my life, but it feels like I am leaving her behind.  And it is breaking me.

I have felt this before, when I was married.  Eight years into my marriage my husband was in a car accident.  He had head injuries.  He was never the same.  Physically he pretty much recovered but mentally there was a disconnect.  There I was, 26 years old, healthy, looking to the future and my husband was changed, damaged, and the man I had married was gone. What do you do?  Well I stayed in the marriage another 12 years until his alcoholism killed our marriage.  But honestly, the accident killed our marriage.  He felt less than the man he had been.   Finally, for myself and my son, I knew I had to survive. It was not safe or healthy for us to live in an alcoholic household. But I knew I was leaving behind someone who who had his chance for a full life stunted.  And I felt horrible guilt.  Guilt that I wanted  everything that life had to offer.  And to have that I would have to sever our relationship.  So I did. There is still, 20 years later, a wistful sadness around that.

Another time I felt this to a lesser degree was when my Mom had a terminal cancer diagnosis.  I remember a short period of thinking this should be me and not her.  But that passed pretty quickly.  I think even in my distress and craziness I realized that thought had no basis or substance.  It was a reaction to everything and my way of trying to take on her pain. To save her.  I could not save her, no one could.  I recognize those thoughts as an emotional reaction to a extreme situation.  And everything after her diagnosis happened so fast the guilt did not have any time to cling to me.

Okay so in writing this I can see my survivor guilt comes up when I truly love the person. I have friends that are fighting cancer or have other big challenges in their lives.  I feel compassion and caring.  I send love and positive thoughts their way. I don’t feel guilty. I don’t feel it should be me and not them.  I have a healthy boundary around it. But let it be my close loves and  I feel bad that I get to be whole, happy and healthy when they are suffering.  I don’t know how to fix this.  This situation with my sister is a long term process.  I want to move through it with grace and ease.  I want to help her, but also be okay with having joy in my day.  I want to understand that no one (least of all her) want or need me to suffer also. And I do know this mentally, but emotionally I am struggling .

I know her path is her own.  I know i cannot walk that for her.  I know sacrificing my joys serve no one.  So I move forward in my day and in my life.  I see my friends, I connect with family.  I talk with God. I meditate, I walk. I laugh.  I find joy, humor and love out there.  But somewhere inside of me is this little place that knows while I am out celebrating life my best girl is home, in pain and struggling.  And I feel guilty, guilty she does not have the same chance to enjoy her life like I do.

I am working through this, writing it out helps. So if you stayed with me  this long, thank you.  Life is here to teach us, we are here to grow and create.  This is a lesson on my path. Once I learn it, truly learn it, I can release it.  As with everything, baby steps.

Namaste

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challenges, Change, daily practice, family, Growth, Relationships

It is Time to Release the Mantra

I don’t even really know where to start.  2 weeks ago my grandmother passed away and I have so many feelings about it.  They are all mixed up.  She was 94 and lived every day of her life.  Her illness was not lingering, she was not suffering.  She basically lived up until the final day.  The day before she died she sitting up in intensive care talking to me, loving me, and living life. The next day she was gone. That cannot be a bad thing.

But for me, I miss my grandma. And now I am looking at another loss.  I see this news headline and 7 children died in a fire.  How do parents survive that?  I mean, that is a tragedy.  That is a loss.  Everywhere I look I see losses that seem to me greater, more significant than mine.  I think for me, it is just adding them all up. And I feel like it is wearing me down.

My life feels so different now. Quick view:  3 years it looked like this:  I was living in my home of 20 years, I had a mom, I lived with my son and our 2 dogs, my sister lived on the next street, my sister was healthy, I was healthy, I liked my job,  I had a grandmother.

Now much of that is gone, I lost the house, my mom died, my son moved out, we had to put one dog to sleep (old age) and re home the other.  My sister and I live miles apart.  My sister had a health crisis and our relationship is changed.  The stress comes out through a variety of health issues. One of my best friends moved away. The work environment has changed and I am unhappy at my job. I tried to have a romantic relationship, that failed. I am trying to get on feet financially and help my son, it is a constant daily struggle. Now my grandmother has died. It is all adding up. I did the lifestyle stress test, I am in trouble.

And I can feel all of this in my body and I have to fix it.  I am starting to have more nocturnal anxiety attacks. My hair continues to shed, I am tired, I have gained weight.  Everything feels like a struggle and I have no emotional reserves.  I was so drained from the whole losing my mom, my home and all that went with that.  I was just starting to get it together when my sister had a big health crisis last summer.  She is my best friend, and now it has changed so much.  And now a few months later my grandmother is gone. Could all of this just please stop?

I can tell you I am trying to mitigate the stress as much as possible.  I meditate daily, I take long walks to clear my head.  I pray.  I try to spend time with friends but it seems that laughter and fun are missing these days.  Everything seem intense. I really just need to fucking relax and let it go. If you have to work at relaxing is that really relaxing?  I don’t think so. But I have to start somewhere.  When I see my son, what I say is “are you having any fun?”  Could I say that to myself?  Because apparently I am on a roller coaster ride these last few years. I guess I need to learn to love the ride.

I keep thinking of losses, I have lost this, I have lost that. That feels sad, that feels pathetic.  It is a pity party.  The truth is I have lost nothing.  I still have a mom and a grandmother.  They are not in physical form,  but I will always be a daughter and a granddaughter.  The souls we share lives with are never away from us. I know that to be true. And that goes for every being, human or not, that I have loved. Everything else is simply stuff.

I still have a home, a different home.  My relationship with my sister is different, but perhaps there can a deepening from the shared journey.  My son, he loves me, but he lives his own life. Isn’t that what i raised him for? Friends?  Well, even the ones I don’t share my time with now, I can love them and I can know they love me.  And I can welcome the new relationships into my life. Work?  I can keep in front of me the knowledge that I can only do my best, I am not in charge of how others respond.  Because at the end of the day if I have loved some, laughed a little, relaxed, been honest with myself and others, prayed, meditated, had a good meal, took a walk and breathed in nature, and laid down my head safe in my home, what more can I really ask for?  That is life, that is the good life.

So I have to accept change again.  I am doing this guided meditation with Deepak Chopra and the end he says “it is time to release the mantra”.  My mantra has been ” I have lost so much.” It is time to release that mantra.  Because it is not about loss, it never was.  It is about change, and change will always happen.  Change causes me to grow, to stretch myself, to look inside, to be honest, to be brave, to be compassionate.  Change makes me better.  And I will always ask for that, to be better.  And if change is the price, than so be it, I am willing. So no more loss, this is about growth. This is about life. And I am grateful.

And so it is.

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Daily Life, family, Growth, Inspiration, Love, Relationships, Self

Becoming My Own Example

So I think I am becoming my own example.  Today my grandmother is pressing on my mind.  I am thinking of her passing and the influence she had on me.  My grandmother (Maxine) was really really alive every day.  She lived until 94, every day celebrating being alive. And she has been such an inspiration to me.  She lived all alone the last 20 years, but was never lonely.  She had an active social life, church life and family life.  She never quit, ever. She told me, don’t stop. Be thirsty, be honest but caring. Grandma had her nose in everything, she was curious and loved to laugh.  She did not let life get her down, she kept going.

And then I thought of my mom who passed 3 years ago, and all the inspiration she gave me.  She was bold, fierce.  She took crap from no one. Honestly my mom had other issues and ended up allowing her demons to push away many friends and family that loved her.  But the parts that inspired me, she would fight for what she loved. She never let anyone tell her what to do. She was artistic, flamboyant and in your face.  She loved strongly.  She was amazing.

My dad’s mom, Grandma Stell  passed away more than 20 years ago.  She had a laughter to her life.  She always wanted to have fun.  She was southern to the core and sweet tea was always in the house.  She would take 3 different artificial Christmas trees, make them into one and called it  “pretty”. Married multiple times, again a woman who never gave up.   She loved hard, she loved me, she loved my dad. Oh my gosh, she would defend her family,

So all of these women who have loved and raised me are passed now.  And I am a mix of all of them.  All of their examples, all of their lessons have found their way into me.  Everyone of them was strong and stood on her own in her own way.  I realize that I do not have to be Mom, or Little Grandma, or Grandma Stell, I get to be Sandy.  And that takes nothing from them.  They did not live in another’s shadow but shone their own light.  I shine my own light, I beat my own drum.  I take the best from all, and become my own example.  I become my own inspiration.

All of these women lived and died a simple life.  None of them became famous, none of them left a mark beyond their own family, friends and lives.  No one wrote a book,  they were not politicians or great humanitarians.  100 years from we will hard pressed to find a memory, but I remember. And I am here now, and that matters.  This is how life goes on.  We lives our lives best we can.  I take all that I have been blessed with build my life.  I leave my mark on the world, be it simple or not.

So more and more I become my own example.  I live my life no one else’s.  I honor all of those women before who lived their own lives.  I see how different they were and each life was beautiful.  They made their choices, they became who they really were, no apologies. And I can do that too. I become myself, no one else. And I make no apologies.  I can see other examples, I can see the fierceness, the laughter, the lovingness, and the strength.  And instead of saying that is how I want to live, who I want to be, I can just be those qualities.  It takes nothing from those who have gone before, there is enough for everyone.  So instead of saying, this is who I want to be, I become it and say ” This is Who I Am.”

And so it is……

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