What’s Love Got To Do With It? A lot

I want to thank Bill who writes the blog drbillwooten.com  for posting a quote this morning which has been echoing in my head –

“In the life of each of us…there is a place remote and islanded, and given to endless regret or secret happiness.  Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside wakes.” — C.E. Jung

Let me qualify this, before you leap to the notion that I’m advocating a narcissistic approach to life, centered totally on yourself with no consideration given to anyone or anything else.  Back it up my friend – let’s slow down and just take a little stroll, ok?  There is little risk that any of those who read this are on the cusp of world domination, figuratively speaking (if for some reason you are on the literal cusp of world domination,  I think it’s best I don’t know – just remember to please be kind when you assume global power).

I worry about my friends and family the way my Sirs can worry a bone.  Archie can spend hours considering a new bone from every angle, holding it tightly in his paws, refusing to consider a walk outside or a diversion of any kind.  I get it.  And so today I’m writing to all of you who have been on my mind – I love you, but I also need to get some sleep.

You are so incredibly worthy and deserving of all the happiness that you seek.  And you’re going to find it.  I wish I could tell you that it’s located on aisle six of the supermarket, next to the shaving cream.  On sale with no coupon needed.  The good news is that the cost isn’t prohibitive. The less-than-good-news is that it’s where we seldom choose to look.  Step inside yourself for a minute.  What do you see?  My hunch is that you see a lot of what you don’t want to look at.  So, we shut that door and look outside.  And our lives become “if..then” statements. ‘If this person loves me, then I will be happy.’  ‘If I could just get her to do ‘x’, then all would be good’.  ‘If I get this promotion, then I’ll be set’.  And – what if none of that happens?  We push that away.  Don’t want to think about it, because we’ve already set the level of expectation.

But where do you come into play?  If you spoke to yourself as you would your best friend, looked in the mirror through the eyes of one who loves and cherishes you, gave yourself permission to love yourself with the same passionate devotion with which you approach others – what would you do today?  How would you take care of you?  Would you let someone you love waste one moment of his/her time on sorrow that is avoidable?  Would you ever let someone you adore, cede control of his/her sense of self to anyone?  You wouldn’t of course – that’s what makes you such a fantastic friend.  Perhaps to everyone except yourself.

I’ve gotten myself so lost at times that it’s taken me years to get back to someone I recognize.  It happens.  And finding that I detoured and went so far off course that I couldn’t even figure out my true location is not a foreign exercise to me.  I’m still learning to give myself a break, nurture the little kid in me, still the voices in my head that continue to insist that they know what I should be doing, when arguably they no longer really know me at all.  I look in the mirror and some days I can’t stand what I see.  And I have a very strong able-bodied imp that jumps up and down every time I try to give myself an ‘atta girl’.

But – and it’s a big but – I know if I listen for too long, I will go down a path I would rather not travel.  I want to love this life enough to feel joy with who I am – choosing to sit here at the round table, with the sun on my back, jazz playing softly in the background, writing to you.  I choose to travel inside every once in a while to see how I’m treating myself, and to remember that I’m more ok than I probably think I am.  And more importantly, I can’t dismiss my own neurotic idiosyncracies by focusing on everyone and everything except them.  They’re as much a part of me as any wonderful qualities I may possess.  So be it.  I’ve gotta expend a little emotional energy on me.  That’s what my best friend would tell me.

My best friend would remind me that in her eyes, I’m wonderful and worthy and important. A best friend would not let me put the onus of my happiness on anyone’s shoulders and would urge me to get happy with me first.  Because a friend loves like that.  Can you be your own best friend for a little while?  Take that tentative walk inside and find all the wonder that is there and try to make peace with what is not – and still love you like crazy?

That is my wish for today – that you see yourself as I do.  That you embrace your magical, wonderful, generous, funny, lovable, silly, serious, slightly nutty, ridiculously talented self as I would if you were here.

My Fingers Are At War With My Brain

I am writing this from my new laptop – a MacBook.  Lovely little piece of equipment – I have named her Lucy (as in “Lucy, I’m h-o-m-e”) with the hopes that we will enter into a long-term relationship of mutual respect and understanding.

We have a long way to go.

First of all, I’ve always been a ThinkPad person.  All my earlier relationships have been with its different iterations.  I knew what it was going to do before it did it – not needing to look at the keyboard, understanding the nuances of its prompts, able to keep multiple conversations ongoing without any need to cajole, plead or praise excessively.  We knew each other.  My files, saved pictures, ideas for future posts, etc resided in ‘my places’.  We made space for each other and dare I say it, had that kind of intimate knowledge of each other reserved for only the closest of friends.

However, my ThinkPad was beginning to resist my ‘Good Morning’, refusing to awake until I re-booted multiple times.  It was beginning to bristle at my demands and would arbitrarily just shut down while we were still talking (so to speak).  It was becoming clear to me that we were tiring of each other – and we hammered out the details of our cyber-divorce.  Right  now she is upstairs, happily sleeping on a bookcase, thrilled to be rid of my furious banging and rants that I always directed at the screen.

Lucy is a laptop with a mind of her own – which I respect.  I like independent thinkers.  But she’s not even trying to be a pal.  I can’t find the delete key (on this keyboard, ‘delete’ is really ‘backspace’), different applications keep bouncing up and down seeking my attention and don’t even ask me where my files are (though I know they’re here somewhere – I think this is a little passive-aggressive, but let’s not go there).  To  move the cursor down, I have to move my finger up on the mouse. It took me twenty minutes this morning just to figure out how to get the power cord extender to work.  Clearly we are going to have to take this relationship very slowly.  In fact, I am going to take her to a relationship specialist at Apple on Thursday – we have got to work on how we communicate with each other.  Right now I’m making all the concessions in the name of maintaining a happy transition.  She’s not doing a damn thing except sitting here pointing out my spelling mistakes and frankly, digging in her heels about what she will and will not do.  Everyone insists how intuitive these MacBooks are – all I have to say to that is ‘ha’!  She’s intuitive alright – she knows just how to make me feel like a nimnut.

I will rise to her challenge though – I am determined to make her my good friend, whether or not this is a relationship she would like to see move forward.  We are going to learn how to talk with each other, remain open and available and delight in our journey.  I will keep her clean and shiny and promise not to dribble coffee on her keys.  She will show me where she has hidden my pictures, quotes, secrets and bad jokes that I never can remember.  This is going to be a union made in techno-heaven.  We are going to love each other with devotion.  We will dammit. But first I need to find an instruction manual.

Over-thinking And Missing The Point

See High Above – Marlena Morling

You step outside

into the early morning

in autumn –

 

And at the exact same instant

a scrap of paper

floats over –

 

High in the blue

blustery library

of the air –

 

You look up

and you see it rushing

and lifting

 

even higher

into the transparent layers

of the sky –

 

And at once,

you know

it is a message –

 

A message

that there is no message.

The scrap of paper

 

is just a scrap of paper!

It is weightless

and free

 

The world is just

the world –

And you are exactly

 

who you are –

Also floating now

high inside

 

The invisible

balloon of

another moment.

What if we could just let it go?  Give ourselves the grace of not second-guessing, seeking the ever-deeper answer, reflecting on our belly buttons until we can no longer remember why we got so engrossed in the first place (hint – there’s nothing going on worthy of self scrutiny of your navel)?  What if we took the worry du moment and greeted it, acknowledged it for what it is and then remember that whether or not we hold it, its resolution will come?  How would our day unfold if we wrote our sorrows on bits of paper and cast them into the wind – for whether we clutch them with tight fist or hold them loosely or let them go – the only thing that will change is the cramp in our fingers?

I hold onto things for too, too long.  I carry them with me as if they are some unique treasure that must be coddled and cared for, when realistically they have little long term value.  The typical takeaway for me is that I shouldn’t have wasted so much emotional energy.  ‘Lesson learned for next time’, I tell myself.  And this little voice in my ear laughs and wonders who I’m kidding.  The truth is, that which should be held onto for that extra moment longer are often the things we miss as we’re moving on – a hug that transmits love, a conversation with a friend who just needs you to be one, a tumbler of Grand Marnier in front of a fire (or hot chocolate with marshmallows – and you have to get to the marshmallows at the perfect in-between-time when they’ve melted but are still formed).

Why is it that every time – every time I look up at the sky and ask “Please?” and say “Thank you” (which I do often enough in a day that I probably am developing a reputation in the neighborhood as the lady with the dogs who walks around talking to the sky), I am lighter?  And if we know that our most peaceful moments come when we let go, do we insist that each time we don’t, we’re justified for doing so?   I swear to you I have some thoughts on this – and I know you do too.  In the interest of perpetuating my adapted version of National Listening Day, I’d rather hear why you hold on so tight, when we could instead release such encumbrances?  What do you think?  Anyone feel like letting go of the string?

Here’s An Idea

According to NPR, the day after Thanksgiving is the National Day Of Listening.  The concept stems from their highly successful StoryCorps Program, and the theory is that the most important way to honor someone is to listen to him/her.  To hear a story with full attention, so intent that you could integrate it into a memory worth saving.  Listening with your mind free of anticipated responses, shopping lists, wandering thoughts – can you quantify the value of such a gift?  Can you imagine how much it would be appreciated?

Ask someone to tell you a story.  If you are indulging in some quiet after the deluge of family and friends, listen to the silence.  It too has a tale to tell.  Our stories matter, they are our perspectives of personal history and seminal moments,  unfettered joy and unhealed wounds.  They define us far more than adjectives.  They shape us far more than any exercise regimen (which is not a knock on exercise).  Yet, when was the last time you heard a tale?  And, what would be the story you would tell?

To me, that is where the wonder of this season is – in the giving of one’s heart while lending an ear.  And in being awed by the gift we’re given every time we  listen.  Happy Friday everybody.

 

 

 

Home Ec.

“Hem your blessings with thankfulness so they don’t unravel”

Good advice, though I can’t sew.  I can’t even loosely baste a seam.  I failed sewing in the seventh grade, for the teacher didn’t consider it fashion forward to have the armhole of my jumper positioned at the hip.  I didn’t do much better at home economics (yes, they had courses such as this – let’s save the shock and awe for another day, shall we?), though I excelled at pudding.  And passing notes.

Which retrospectively suggests that I had my priorities straight even then – as long as you had good people around you, everything else would follow.  Take care of the ones you love.  Pass the notes, hold the secret, righteously defend (“Mimi would be an exemplary student if she were a bit less social”).  Ah well.  It is with this limited skill set that I have built my house.  Ultimately I bought the drapes and learned how to cook.  And though no one would mistake me for Martha Stewart, I’d say this is a pretty awesome home.  People curl up when they get here, they nestle in.  Shoes come off, defenses are shed, talk is uncensored, silence is religious.  There is nothing more transcendent than this.

Our Thanksgiving plans got derailed by my little surgery a few days back and we’re staying here instead of heading up to New Jersey.  The kids will be with their in-laws.  And as much as I will miss the noise, the laughter, the hugs – I am fortunate enough to have all this love around me every day.  The air is filled with “I love you’s”,  each room holds secrets told in whispers that repeat as favorite lyrics co-written once upon a time, and there is comfort in the sighs of the couch as I settle in to listen to the stories of home.  When I feel the sun on my back and I find magic in this very moment, I know that my bounty is as massive as my gratitude.

So as many of you head points north, east, west or south – travel safe.  Eat a lot, laugh more, grab a nap.  Take a walk, give out hugs.  Share your love.   Enfold these moments in your heart, for they will become the most gorgeous aspects of your home.  They become the most treasured parts of you.