duality · faith · life lessons · mindfulness · music · sisters · Uncategorized

Oxymoron

Hi  my friend,

The night was sleepless and I’m wide awake…and the co-existence of contradictory realities seems to prevail.  I am a contradiction in terms – held together by the small inhalations between words.  You’d think that living within duality would at least offer up some deep slumber at the end of a day.  Ha.

Here’s one for you – I stopped believing in atheism a long time ago (yes, an oxymoron with a little hint of humor).  About the time I stopped writing everything in lower case and pretending that I was a potential hybrid of joni mitchell and e.e. cummings.  That said, I still belief in disbelief, if disbelief equals wonder and incredulity and stuff that’s just really hard to believe.

I believe in God.  I believe that there is something that I can’t adequately explain and seek daily, even though I know it’s there.  We have conversations (ok – I do all the talking, but given my profession and personality, that’s not too common).  Perhaps as my sister notes, the older we get, the more comfort we seek – whether it be in a more spiritual grounding,  greater connections with others, opening our eyes and arms a bit wider  – or all of the above.  One’s world may become more circumspect while one’s outlook widens….see what I mean?

I believe in humankind despite our reiterative behaviors of intentional cruelty and deplorable injustice.  It exists within the same construct as acts of graciousness and generosity that I witness everyday.  I cry over both.  And a sunrise can be as comforting as a sunset.  Go figure.

So much for the theory that it can be absolutely one thing or another.  Life is beautiful and unforgivably ugly.  We seek forgiveness when we find it difficult to forgive.  We ask for people to be held accountable and shy away from personal responsibility.  We’re a funny species – which makes me wonder why we came up with ‘oxymoron’ – it’s not a particularly appealing word.

And yet –

Faith is unassailable.  Small wonders are unassailable – the magnificence of a child delighting in the way a flower yields to its touch;  the silliness of dancing while taking a walk (me, with my earphones on, and yes, I did make sure there was no one around); those kinds of hugs where you feel completely surrounded by love and warmth; sunlight on spiderwebs…

And somehow it is through that prism that we look everyday – how we hold our days, each other, our lives.  Through its angles we are fractured and we are gorgeous,  a spectrum of dualities that make no sense and yet belong together.  So I repeat, go figure..

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anxiety · discretion · friendship · inspiration · life lessons · mindfulness · music

Why Is Patience So Important?

“If you want to know strength and patience, welcome the company of trees.” — Hal Borland

It seems that in the fall, I spend a great deal of time feeling tremendous respect for trees.  More than the richness of their colors and the dignity with which they prepare for their fallow season, I feel humbled by their grace.  The manner in which they bend when the wind demands their attention;  the stately pride with which they accept that time will effect its plan.

A good friend of mine has been on a fantastic roll lately.  Meeting new people, finding that her voice has more range and depth than she imagined (reminds me of Katy Perry‘s song “Roar”).  Her life – her new life has reflected  her enthusiasm, zest and openness to the thrill of possibility.  I’ve shared in this delight of course, just as I am here today when the rhythm slows, the endorphins need replenishment and the bubbles are now on simmer.  Nothing is wrong, yet what happened to the effervescence?  The days of delight?

Jo wonders about her ‘next whatever’, feeling that its elusiveness is akin to a burr under a horse’s saddle.  Itchy and unsettled, we spend many an email considering the what ifs, could bes, and shoulds – and we end up back at the reality that life is going to unfold whether we are patient or not.

Patience.  The art of being still.  Of understanding that there are fallow periods, which require only that we gain strength and sustenance and an understanding of who we are becoming.  There’s something a little unsettling about it I think.  It took me two years to undo the pleasurable and neurotic remnants of working in biglaw.  To finally realize that the primary takeaway – the only takeaway – is that I made a difference, perhaps to a few people over the span of decades.  I choose to hold onto some cherished memories.   I didn’t leave the firm with grace in my heart – a story for another day perhaps.  I struggled to understand that my next whatever would be as serendipitous as the one I had just experienced.  I still do (struggle that is) – just not as much.

I write a lot about duality; it’s so much a part of our human construct.  Yet in the fall I look to the trees.  They are indomitable and unfazed, welcoming both bird and squirrel, a child’s foot nestled between its trunk and branch.  Silently knowing that regardless of preference or wish, hope or daydream, the most important element it brings to the fall is its presence.  Its being.   Time I think to take a moment  under the trees, sway under the harvest moon and just watch life and love unfold.

discretion · inspiration · life lessons · love · mindfulness · music · parenting

Gone Fishing

That’s not true – I don’t fish.  I like the visual though – sitting on a boat in still water, line dragging in, bobbin bobbing, silence interrupted only by an occasional gurgle caused by some minor disruption to the water.  The lapping of the water as one adjusts their seating.  I have no need to catch anything – it’s at that point that my revery turns a little discomfiting actually.

But we are heading to the mountains with the majority of our children for a long weekend.  You may remember that this is an annual treat for us all – a chance to play board games, nap, golf, spa, read and catch up with each other.  Oh, and the occasional winery thrown in for good measure.

I apologize for flying below the radar this last week, only to re-surface to write you that I’m heading out of Dodge for a little while.  We’ll leave last week in the past and when I return next week I will be back to my sort of prodigious self (well hardly prodigious when compared to so many of you, but it’s a relative thing, yes?)

I’ll be checking in while we’re gone – and maybe even squeeze out a paean to the mountains majesty and the overwhelming delight in all being in the same place for a little while.  But I leave you now with one of my favorite songs from the wayback machine…Chris Rea – enjoy and I’ll ‘see you soon’…

friendship · inspiration · life lessons · love · mindfulness · music

Magic To Do

Bill @ drbillwooten.com had posted a quote from Brene Brown that has stared at me for days now..

“Owning our story can be hard, but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it.  Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky, but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy – the experiences that make us the most vulnerable…”

And, as is typical with the route of the karma truck, a confluence of moments stop me along the road and force me to pull over and take stock of my surroundings.

–  Elizabeth asks me about the act of becoming the me I am today.  Who was I before I left biglaw?  How am I defining myself today?  Oh Elizabeth – do you want the short answer or the long one?  😉

– An email from a friend with so much sadness, I thought the screen was streaked with her tears.  A chapter closing with an ending she didn’t pen.  Now a character in a story that she would have written much differently.

– Friday night with Andy, Jo and Ben seeing “Pippin” on Broadway.  A long ago story with threads that carry through from the days when I made up songs to sing while my dad played the Prince to my sister’s balletic swan.

I don’t remember when I began singing, but it has been my protection, my home, my sanctuary, my arguably limited coping mechanism when humor fails me.  Standing under Roosevelt Avenue letting one note escape from my lips as the subway rattled overhead.  Missing the green light because I was focused on holding that note until the last car was on its way to the 82nd Street stop.

When I sang at ‘Catch A Rising Star‘ my sophomore year in college, I did it I think, more out of naiveté than anything else (well that, and an incredible crush on the guy who arranged it).  Jo and Bruce were there.  Had we not bumped into each other on the street earlier in the day, the moment would have passed.  I sang “Magic To Do” – stepping up to the mike after a gorgeously built woman in a gold sequined bathing suit and heels almost as high as her hair, ponied her way through an off-key version of “V-a-c-a-t-i-o-n”.   The audience loved her, for they thought she was a comedy act.  To say I took the mike with tremendous hesitation and nausea is an understatement.  But I saw Jo – and her delight.  On the wings of her smile I let it go.  And they asked me to do an encore (I did “Summertime”).

I got an email yesterday from her telling me that she heard me singing during the show on Friday…I thought I was being pretty quiet.  But I had to sing – this was my coming of age story.  Believing that I had to do great things and having no clue what that meant.  I believed I was destined to do the extraordinary, and in my nineteen year old mind, extraordinary meant ‘big’, ‘notable’.  And I’m sure sequins had to play a part.

My extraordinariness is hardly extraordinary, but I have come to understand that it is what it is.  My sons are miracles – and though I take no credit for anything other than being their mom, I would submit that their arrival trumps any other accomplishment of the exceptional.  They were my reason and my privet for so very long.  And they moved forward into the world with the knowledge that they are more than capable of soaring.

I built a great career and felt needed by a lot of people  – which was pretty heady and gratifying and I didn’t sacrifice more of my soul than I could handle in the process.  And when it required more compromising than I could abide, more injury to my body and soul than either could handle, I left.  And where I’m heading…well, later to the supermarket.

What I am though is here.  I am in this moment for those who need me to be.  I am here to remind my heartbroken buddy that we shatter and somehow mend again.  I am here for the moments when one doesn’t know if another day is really going to change a damn thing, and suggesting that if it doesn’t, a series of days may.  I am here with a cup of hope.  And if you sit close enough to me, probably a song.