My Mum

Although she is not officially dead, Alzheimer’s makes many days seem as though my Mum really is. Yesterday was one of those days. As a slow fog seeped to cover my heart, I was once again surprised to find myself in this place. Hadn’t I already come to peace with letting her be? Or am I just now coming to terms with having her, for all intensive purposes, gone? Or am I aching for a Mum I never really had in the first place? I thought I had. I even have a nice quote in mind that reflects age appropriate views of our parents. You know, the one that goes something like this…when we are young, they can do nothing wrong, when we are teenagers they can do nothing right and when we are old we wonder how they got to be so wise.

Maybe I am just projecting, even guessing, that most people would agree that basic parent-child adoration, most likely involves a held hands, wiping of a tears, kisses just because and whispers of “I love you” constantly filling your air. I know memories are a tricky business, but I am one of six, and although our reactions varied, we are all agreed that we have few. We learned early on that there was little use in becoming emotional with her. The end result would always be the same.  Mum would immediately stiffen, like a board. You felt repelled.

She raised me, like all of us, in the only way she knew; a baltimore catechist nun turned nanny. Even though years of therapy made me understand, then grieve, that the “good enough” mother, was not my Mum, I didn’t realize how the power of putting feelings to a page, would bring all that sadness back. For the most part the longing is gone but the facts are still solid. If I shared this personal truth, I begin to wonder how people in the pews would hear it. One of my brothers actually wondered if she even liked children. We laughed. I mean we really all laughed loudly and hard. Who knows…if I had to guess, she probably didn’t. But what would the people in the pew hear?

My brother once told me my problem with Mum was that I was always trying to change her. I remember feeling indignant. What?! No, I wasn’t! I was just trying to make her see that I wanted her in my life. I wanted her grandchildren to have a relationship with her. I wasn’t trying to change her. I was just trying to make her see that I loved her and maybe, if she knew that, understood why it is I was always asking her to feel, I would feel that love back. It took me years to see that my brother was right.

But here’s the thing – I really want people to know in my struggle to understand how my mother loved me, she gave me the gift of learning to never view things from one angle. We want love to be solid and fixed, especially when we have no real understanding of it. As I learned to put my own pain aside, I got to see my mum as Margot, and Margot was a very strong woman. Maybe she didn’t know what to do with all these children. Maybe she didn’t even understand how we all got there, but she would never complain about herself and being a wife and mother was her job. She never asked for help. She rarely allowed herself for idle chit chat for there was work to be done and there was always the proper way to do it. She never dwelled on anything, she just moved on. Maybe the repelling of our emotions was just a wall to survive. Thats why I loved when my Mum had a drink or two growing up. I think we all did. She just relaxed and it seemed to help her breathe. She didn’t edit herself as much when she asked for “a feather” of a refill. Watching her blush and soften when my Dad was being flirty, was a treat. Once I caught her being silly with one of my kids – just being spontaneously silly, and I couldn’t believe what I was hearing and so I immediately rushed into the scene to applaud , and I ruined it. The bubble had burst and she realized she broke her own code; We are ladies…1,2,3.

As I watched her this past visit, sitting in silence, she didn’t seem unhappy. She doesn’t seem to be afraid of the silence. Admittedly, I had expected to see that light I had experienced last time I visited. She seemed really happy that I was there. The chit chat was easy. Now the shift had occurred and I know there will be no going back.

In trying to write this piece I realized I had fallen back into pattern again. But I can forgive myself this time because I am just sorting it all out and doesn’t everyone have something to sort out with their folks? I want my relationship with my Mum to end on a happy note that I could share with everyone… “Why yes, she really was a good enough mother. We laughed often with secrets all our own. ” But writing these words feel hollow. Yes, there have been tender moments that will always treasured, and yes, they were just between the two of us.  But here’s the thing I know now, that whenever this relationship does end, it will be on an honest and true note because Alzheimer’s allows her no longer responsible for me, and she can just be. Perhaps this is her biggest gift…to teach be to just be.  In truth,  there have been many gifts.  Without a doubt she did the best she could given the foundation she was given and it taught stand on my own two feet. It allowed me to make sure my children knew they were seen and heard. It allowed me to accept the upside of her families unyielding ways -strong and stubborn – when I wanted to end it all. She taught me that love has many ways of being felt and heard. The tone of her voice when I call on Sundays. The following me around when I visit and not letting me do a single chore to help. The long since sent cards that I am know only able to look beyond the signature. Not calling because she was wanted me to live my life, with no interference from her. …just live my life. And I have, and I hope that is a gift I can pass on to my children.

So yes, my mum is now officially fading away with the help of Alzheimer’s. And yes, I will always want an emotional, recognizable, traditional kind of mother’s love that will always answer my call. And yes, she was not a Winicott definition of a good enough mother, but really is all ok.  That she is 84 has given me time to understand this all and know that I am so very clear about her love me. This is what I want to give voice to.  It was all just in her way.  And I love her. My way.

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A Possible Culprit….

I was recently asked “What does your true voice sound like, the one deep down inside?”  Well, its hard to say because for one thing, it’s all mumbled up, constantly wandering and wondering about in my head until it either wants to scream or go to bed. Truth be told, I didn’t know I even had one until I was half way to ninety so its change has been dramatic. As a child, our kitchen table was not a place budding with curiosities and provocative musings.  On the contrary.  Short, polite responses coupled with proper manners was the state of those gatherings.  My voice began to fill with questions about anything and everything. Nothing scientific or profound.  It was all really quite simple. I just wanted to know about the why of the things we did and the how people felt about it all. Yet somewhere along the line, my voice turned from idle curiosity to begging and pleading only to become a pest to be swatted and squashed.  As I grew, I  learned the hard way that there was no stability behind my voice. How could there be if it was standing in desperation? “No” “Its not proper” or “Enough” was all that was heard. The tone of those responses became a key trigger to immediately squelching any particle of thoughts that may have been percolating.   Frankly, it’s kind of a miracle I even got through school, college or any part of graduate school.  When called upon, my mind would just freeze and melt into crazy making monkey mind. Panic attacks would ensue. Time and time again I turned those tones into something solid.

So my voice has been frozen and as it thaws it is learning to find its roots in the wisdom of my gut. Its part of the surrendering thing. I have discovered that I feel most heard when I am feeling no pressure at all and just speak from my heart. There’s no agenda with my heart.,,it just is.  It’s maybe why my dear friend, who knows me so well, told me that I must write to unblock my heart chakra? Has my lack of knowing my own voice been a culprit in this coverup? Am I still being triggered by perceiving others inflections as cutting me down before even a thought is uttered? Am I still working up courage to be heard? Rats….I think that must be.  No wonder I have a hard time finding my voice. It’s been jumbled in with all sorts of baggage. It’s time to remember I am not a little girl any more. If I can remember this, I need not worry about how I wish or feel to be most heard…I can just be me….Lis

You don’t have to act crazy anymore— We all know you are good at that.

Now retire, my dear,

From all that hard work you do 

Of bringing pain to your sweet eyes and heart.

Look in a clear mountain mirror-

See the Beautiful Ancient Warrior

And the Divine elements

You always carry inside

That infused this Universe with sacred Life

so long ago 

and join you eternally

With all Existence….       

                                                                                                         Hafiz

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View From A Box

My earliest memory is questionable. Did it really happen? After all, there is not much to it. Yet it is always the one that comes to mind so I wonder, does that make it more true or more likely that I want it to be true?

I am suppose to be napping. We all napped. Religiously. Being one of six kids, in a tiny house with no privacy, makes napping a logical necessity for a busy Mum who lived by the rules of a “proper “ house hold. Clean, neatly pressed quiet kids. Appearances are everything. Everyday, until we entered 1st grade, we napped. Even in the summer, when we were old enough not to, we “rested” or “read” for an hour and a half every day. I think those naps, kept my Mum’s head from popping off.

But I am not tired or I woke up early. Either way, it would make no difference. I knew not to make a peep until nap time had ended. To this day, when we drive by that house, a little cape, on Clark Road, I smile. I think I was happy there. I shared a bed room with my little brother. Was he there that day? Napping too? I am guessing so as well as this being why I imagine I was happy there. Again, guessing but would that tiny house, no privacy what made me feel quite happy comforted by never being alone?
Or possibly claustrophobic? Always wanting to run away? Or are these later thoughts of my Mum or sister’s?.

But I hear talking and laughing outside. I get excited thinking that my sisters might be coming home from school. Nap time must be almost over then but wait… and could there be friends with them? I dare to get off my bed, climb onto the window seat, and peek down below from behind the curtain. Oh yes! They are there! With friends! They are laughing. I wonder what about but again, it doesn’t matter. I am in love with just watching. My secret view from the box.

So what does my wisdom self in the now, think of my little one self memory of then? My box now has thankfully just about finished crumbling. I am learning to live without the 4 corners which is what I think when I read these first few lines from St. John’s poem. It is what comes to mind, although to be honest, I have yet to read the whole thing through, because it is just so big and I am quite sure I am in way over my head. So I will do what I have learned best as to how and make it through the muck – one step at a time.

On a dark night, kindled in love with yearning -oh, happy chance!-
I went forth without being observed, My house being now at rest..

My child self was happy in that moment to be “unobserved” because from my little box of no risk, I got a piece of laughter and such sweetness, that was all my own. No one to tell me not to interfere or that it wasn’t proper to show excitement.
When I read what E. Allison Peers notes about these first two lines, he feels that St. John is talking about the effects of two parts of man that are about to purge – the sensual and the spiritual. The purging I am assuming is when the “dark night” sets in.

I think my dark night began creeping inside me after the little cape. I think my clueless little self, began to wonder and ask questions and kept wanting to be heard without quite realizing that she never would be. Peers goes on to say that “This dark night begins to enter when God draws then forth from a state of beginners… and begins to set them in a state of progressives….to the end that, after passing through it, they may arrive at a state of perfect, which is that of Divine union of the soul with God.”

But my wisdom self can now comfort that little one “It’s ok little one, we never know what we don’t know but I see you, I always have.”

So I am still not at all sure of this “God or Divine” thing – it always trips me up because I am so sadden by the thought of my Mother’s madness being so caught in this image of a God that was beaten into her. This image was the one I was raised with. This image is the one that tells us every day of our being that we were born into sin- not light. Maybe that’s why I love Rumi so much. His Beloved, or the Self, is the light within us all. And knowing this, like really knowing this, is how I can welcome the dark night in. It is my teacher as much as the wisdom self within. You can’t have one without the other. Its so hard to remember the nature of things. Maybe that’s why my chakra is blocked…I keep forgetting.

Day 11  …100 day challenge

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My Fantasy Neighbors

In my fantasy neighborhood, Marion Woodman lives at the top of a very private wooded lane so I can wave or engage in a quick chat, as I drive down the lane and she will always make me smile because her voice is full of raspy exuberant energy that is desperate to cause a ripple effect. Coleman Barks would live behind me and his warm gentle smile would always warm my chagrined heart as my rascal dog has once again gotten stuck in his yard due to passing rabbits. “So sorry to disturb you…” and even though, about 9 times out of 10,  I would be able to grasp so little of his meaning, he would always say “No problem at all my dear, I was just contemplating a passage of dear Rumi’s and wait,  let me read you a bit…”  and without fail, matter the weather, a crazy light would appear and fill me with peace.  Sweet Mary Oliver would live to the right and therefore would have to pass in front of my house after her daily walks. She would often stop in for tea and quietly share what Mother Nature taught her today. Mark Nepo would live to my left. He just moved in, so I am completely in awe of him. As a poet and philosopher, I am a total want-a-be groupie. His latest work, Things That Join The Sea And The Sky is remarkable. Every line I read I think “That is so true…he said that so perfectly…has he been inside my heart?” Its a very personal account of his journal writings. He has battled cancer and unexpectedly lived to talk about it.

This morning I opened to a passage that seemed to completely combine all these dear souls work into 9 beautiful lines, and his words went straight to the core of what has been ruminating in my heart.

Some say there’s a fire at the Center of our Being. How does anyone know? Though I believe is. Sometimes in a dream, I go there and it’s not some kind of hell. More like a lake of light that drinking from heals. And healing is not erasing what life does to us. Rather drinking from the Center knits all the scars into a fabric that can’t be torn. Regardless of how we get there, no matter what is broken or lost, the weave binds us. We call its patterns beauty.

Honestly, tears welded up, and I am breathing a little softer. Marina Woodman wants us to sit by our wells and drink from it, knowing there is always our wisdom gathering there. We just need to look. Coleman Barks brings Rumi’s words into a light that can guide us to through the human condition of life knowing that the Beloved is always with us. We can’t long for something, unless we have already held it. And Mary Oliver, shows us the Divine constantly and completely surrounds us if we can learn to be still enough. It is right outside our door.

“The healing is not erasing what life does to us.” This is one of the alleluia lines for me. I see how I have been trying to dismiss parts of life that I have feel stained me and therefore caused me to not see my beauty. I am not talking physical beauty. I am talking the gifts, a light , that is universal in all of us. Its how we cope with the shit that has been thrown at us. Some of us are lucky enough to have been given tools or encountered teachers or the opportunity to gather them ourselves. I believe my heart chakra has been blocked when I let my stains turn to scars that I buried completely or held onto with shame. I believe my scars are shifting because I can see the well. I am beginning to dip into the center of it where there is water and see where my fire, my light, is held. These stains of mine are  no longer to be erased but examined. They are to be spoken and if needed, mourn what shame, hurt, violation, shattered pieces were created. If we build a wall we feel we have become separate from others and no one else feels our pain, and we believe this to be true. And we get stuck.

I don’t want to be stuck any more. I want to see clearly my 10,000 joys and sorrows and weave them. To know that this is what beauty looks like. For each of us.  for This is what binds us. This is how we are each unique and at the same time, all alike and not special at all. “We call its patterns beauty.” My second alleluia.

Day 10 – 100 day challenge

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GO Big or GO Home

“There are only two mistakes one can make along the road to truth;

not going all the way, and not starting.” ~ Buddha

 

My new favorite book is Mark Nepo’s, Things That Join the Sea and the Sky, Field Notes on Living. The title immediately drew me in. This guy must see how we are all connected with the completely hot messes of our lives and the beauty, that the human condition requires of us.  This is exactly how my heart has been feeling during the past month. One minute there a vacuum of deep shock and sadness that appears to go beyond  my core and then out of seemingly nowhere,  an amazing peace fills that very same core with a feeling of clarity that all is right with the world as I find complete comfort in things that are right in front of me. Its been exhausting but I can not deny that something has shifted and I think Nepo’s writing is allowing me to make sense of it all.  He has bravely shared notes on his living that “contains raw moments of sinking and being lifted, intimate accounts of being thrown into feeling and depth…” Nero has been “stretched into wondering about life and the lives of others, in this ongoing push and pull in a Universe that holds us, then tosses us about, only to hold us again.”

It’s the action he writes of the Universe that pulled me in – that holds us, then tosses us about, only to hold us again. This past year I have felt often paralyzed by the climate of our nation’s political world. I fell into a depression I had not experienced in over 15 years, after the election. I went to the Woman’s March because I just couldn’t understand how anyone could support a person who had unequivocally shown huge disrespect towards women. How could any person who has a mother, sister, wife, daughter or female friend, support this kind of rhetoric from a person who would represent the nation we live in? As the #metoo movement has been created, and story after story has been told of disrespect, abuse and violence, I have been asking myself, how have I perpetuated this culture of acceptance.

My answer is that through no fault of their own, I was raised in a culture that had very defined gender roles. There is no shame or blame here. I love my parents, deeply. As  their health declines, evidence of sexual abuse towards both have them have been unearthed, my heart aches in uncharted territory, for each of them. Yet, I feel clear minded in seeing  the tools they used to allow them each to then move forward and function in this world: rose colored glasses and limited emotional connection. Parenting seems to always involve unavoidable collateral damage but not necessarily from a place of knowing harm..more like ignorance. If you were never given any tools, how are you supposed to know what’s right? I had no tools or resource to support me in interacting with the male dominated world we live in. The universe indeed pulled me in and tossed me around.

This effort towards unblocking my heart chakra is leading me to an understanding of the Universe holding me/us all. I believe we are all connected but in our effort to protect our selves and simply out of a need for functioning and trying to live our lives, we do the complete opposite of what makes us remember that connection. We bury our wounds out of shame, trauma or support. But my heart wants to breathe again and remember that “We are all cups, constantly and quietly being filled. The trick is  knowing how to tip ourselves over and let the beautiful stuff out.”

Day 9…100 day challenge

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The Wind Was Flapping

My body feels like its been run over by a truck. I had a panic attack yesterday and I am covered in residue. I hate them. Before I knew that panic attacks were actually a thing, I just thought I was losing my mind. I remember reading William Styron’s Darkness Visible and being utterly stunned that here was a guy, and a famous well regarded one, that was describing perfectly what I had been feeling and hiding for years…truly….years. In that moment, a huge sigh of relief occurred, for I had recently endured a particularly scary day. Completely submerged in what I can only describe as a whirling tunnel that was sucking me down, all I could do was rock myself for what seemed like an eternity, until the wave had passed. It was just another dirty secret moment to be added to my long list of previous moments. Surely this is madness.  But reading Styron’s accounts gave me wee bits of courage to reveal this craziness in an effort to try explore and understand why this was.

Thankfully, much understanding has been gained since that moment, but I am not going to lie, it still hurts deeply, when one arrises. After an episode there is aways a bit of me that just wants to quietly melt away because I am still so desperate to dismiss these moments. But perhaps these moments are a part of the scaring that has build up in my heart. Hmmm, so a bit of Pema’s “leaning in” must be needed. Sweet Pema Chodron is an American Tibetan Buddhist monk, who I would follow around like a puppy dog if I could. When she talks about leaning in, it is really just another way of viewing a situation. So instead of running from a panic attack, I need to try and lean into it… stay with it, with no agenda. It will pass much faster and a different view will emerge, and yes, truthfully it does,  but it is exhausting. However, what has arisen this morning, is another way to lean in which I had forgotten.

The Gateless Gate, is a Zen classic that is a collection of verbal paradoxes called koans. In Zen training to help students “attain a direct realization of truths inexplicable in words” koans are often studied. Here’s how one of them goes;

The wind was flapping a temple flag, and two monks had an argument. 
One said the flag moved. The other said the wind moved. They argued 
back and forth but could not reach an agreement. Then their teacher 
spoke, "It is not the wind that moves. It is not the flag that move. It is your mind that moves." The two monks were awe-struck.

I had forgotten how much I love this little koan. It has reminded me that this recent attack was just simply an energy that I got hooked on but this is all of us in life. Nothing unique or crazy. It happens to everyone. Its the human condition. Old triggers that have patterns wrapped so tightly in huge wounds in our hearts. It was a sneak attack. In dealing with my Dad’s illness, and my Mum’s memory loss, I was handling it from the perspective as “Lis, a daughter” and “Lis the sibling.” But when my daughters are going to visit and going without me, I think my “Lis the Mother” emerged and I became wrapped up in trying to prevent the energy of all my  family history ,circling the girls. My mind wouldn’t even consider to even remember to ask myself “Now lis, who is here, and who knows who is here?” I become lost in the wind and flapping of my heart, that allowed me to forget that I even knew how to breath, soften and open.

Day 9…100 day challenge

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My Other Guy

 

I love Rumi. My husband was the one who introduced us. Until just this very moment, I never fully understood the depth of that introduction. R. is at heart, a romantic and Rumi is all about love. Yet Rumi’s love is about the love of the Beloved within each of us, and R., I think its fair to say, believes people who believe in God or  a Beloved, are just kidding themselves because there is no such thing.
The meeting arrived in the form of a book by Coleman Barks, The Soul of Rumi, A New collection of Ecstatic Poems. It was Valentines Day, 2002, and my heart soared when the unwrapping was complete. Our marriage had just been through the ringer….and back again. This gift was immediately taken in as a beautiful sign.  In my head I felt it symbolized his sorrow for the past few years and this gift was reclaiming his love for us on a deeply personal level. In my heart I felt held for  R. does not do vulnerable to the wind elements of our human emotions. He must remain in control. Appear steady or unaffected as she blows or shit will hit the fan and he may not survive. So this gift, was immediately a precious one.  It became a constant source of peace and comfort despite never discussing anything I read with him.  But he saw it as my constant companion by my night stand, porch rocker or favorite living room chair. 7 years later, the table of our marriage once again flipped and smashed into pieces that I was sure to be terminal. Back to Rumi I went, and read over and over again a chapter on Initiation: The Necessary Pain of Changing. I would then flip around and find such joy in this guys writing who had an incredible ability to express so clearly the pain of the human condition while wrapping it sunlight. During this time I would crawl to cling to this book, like I was craving air or water just to go on. 15 years later, this gift, filled with sticky notes and coffee stains, still makes be smile. I often start my day randomly opening to a page and muttering “What do you have to teach me today dear Rumi?”
So what does this all have to do with my heart chakra? Well, to be sure, many of my heart’s  scars are absolutley due to “necessary pain in changing” that I believe our marriage had to go through, and I am sure will continue to do so, but I just realized that for a man who so poo poo’s the image or belief of Spirit, God, Divine or Beloved, it seems funny to me that he was the one that introduced me to a poet that has only opened my heart  wider, and therefore  slowly learning the depth of his teachings, that give me such joy. I wonder though… on some unconscious level did he know that this would be? Is it how we balance each other out? Scholar Coleman Barks notes how Rumi’s writing gift of language lies in his ability to “magnificently surrender” his soul. Rumi believes that the connection of knowledge to wisdom is love. Knowledge being everything you learn and love is recognition of what is in balance behind everything. It isn’t this hallmark or disney kind of love. Its the core, the essence, of this invisible energy that is always present and allows us the connection of wisdom. Hmmm, so there it is again…all circling back to trying to make everything solid. Rats… We get so attached to form. God isn’t real because we can’t touch him. I am not worthy unless I appear as a shinny penny with nice clothes and a big house. Rumi has welcomed me to look at what drives me and therefore humility becomes a huge part of this view. But compassion has immersed as well.
I know people hate getting older but so far, I don’t mind it…I feel like only time can give me the means to understand this crazy place we live in.

Day 8…100 day challenge

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Ms. Marion

I’ve been listening to Marion Woodman this past month…hence the delays in writing. “Sitting by The Well; Bringing The Feminine to Consciousness Through Language, Dreams and Metaphor.”  Even reading the title creates a weight in my breath. She gives me so much to contemplate and after some digestion time,  I feel as though I am on the cusp of understanding things that have been plaguing me my whole life. Woodman, is one of the most widely read authors on feminine psychology, a poet and writer. She writes about the soul being “the connecting link between the body and the divine, and the inner marriage, referred to by Jungians as the high point in the individuation of a human being, between spirit and soul.”   That, is a lot to take in…Just hearing the word soul, make me anxious and I am a Soulcollage® facilitator!! So where do I start? If my heart chakra is blocked, do I start with the divine? Or do I start with what Woodman view as our biggest task? – Finding our containers that can protect our souls since it sees and hears with our inner eyes and ears and therefore needs a safe space that allows for its growth.

I guess I should start with the divine. Should I capitalize? I don’t think so and not because I don’t respect its existence. I just think the ex- catholic in me still bristles with distain and I can not go there yet. However,  Woodman asks us to reflect on sacred moments in our lives that were connected to soul because those are the moments, as we near the end of our life, when the divine crossed the human. They are moments that make up our life.

Ok so why on earth haven’t I asked my Dad about his moments? Should I do this during my next visit?  Would I be afraid he would ask me mine? Should a child ever tell a parent that they tried to end their life? But if I felt what I can only surmise to this day as the hand of  well, “something” touching my shoulder and waking me from a state of craziness, and therefore gave me a moment to see and feel proof of something bigger than me out there, why wouldn’t I want to share that? That was my first experience of the divine. But I rarely spoke of it because I didn’t want to seem like a crazy person and I didn’t understand it. Until the last few years I hadn’t felt that presence again, but then it appeared, but deeper. A cradling of warmth that immediately evaporated a tortuous feeling of pain and aloneness into peace. A moment of connection with all parents everywhere that had no ability to protect their child…to understanding no separate self. To understanding that to look at our dreams, “as living our own myths,  and that myth,  captures  those divine moments…the still points….where there is no dance, and there is only the dance.”

Hmmm, ok I get it- its the container thing. I never had one for my soul to grow when I was young, so I had to learn to create my own.  I know I am not done but Woodman’s teachings are helping me see that by learning to “sit by the well,” that is to say, sit by my soul that hears and sees with inner light, is just waiting to give me the answers. I am figuring out how best to cup the water that is in me. How best to drink from this well. How best to surrender. Woodman also talks about how this word, surrender. People view it as weak but is it? Is not surrendering what the buddhist view of all life is sorrowful, really saying? In surrendering to the divine, is that where my safest container lies? I think I first need to capitalize it – Divine.                                                                                        Is that the inner marriage Jungian’s mean? Not at all sure but Rilke’s Book of Hours, 1, 59 comes to mind…

God speaks to each of us as he makes us,                                                                                     then walks with us silently out of the night.

These are the words we dimly hear:

You, sent out beyond your recall,                                                                                                      go to the limits of your longing.                                                                                               Embody me.

Flare up like flame                                                                                                                            and make big shadows I can move in.

Let everything happen to you: beauty                                                                                            and terror.                                                                                                                                          Just keep going. No feeling is final.                                                                                               Don’t let yourself lose me.

Nearby is the country they call life.                                                                                               You will know it by its seriousness.                                                                                               Give me your hand.

 

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Day 7…..100 day challenge

 

 

Understanding v.s. Forgiveness

I hate the word forgiveness. It makes my stomach hurt. To give, or ask forgiveness translates in my heart to “I am bigger or less than someone else.” When I say I am sorry to someone, my heart really means it. I am not asking for a person to deem me worthy again, I am just saying I messed and it is usually because I forgot.  I have forgotten to remember that if someone hurts me, or I hurt them, its because a given situation has tapped a place in my heart, where I have been wounded. Deeply. It triggers that fight or flight reaction and for me.  Usually its flight. Its flight from what is truly there so I have hidden it deep in my heart. In my mind, hurtful actions require understanding.   So when I read one of last week’s Daily Dharma headlines from online Tricycle, with “The Power of Forgiveness,” it immediately pissed me off. Yes of course , I was acutely aware that I was smack in the middle of processing one of the most tender places of my heart…friendships, “Yes, yes,” I thought, of course if we don’t “forgive we will hold hatred in our hearts forever.”  Thats why the world is in this crazy political and environmental state! I get it. But then I read the whole article, and then I read it again and again and again and again.

Without forgiveness, we’re forced to carry the sufferings of the past. As Jack Cornfield says, “forgiveness is giving up all hope of a better past.” In that sense, forgiveness is not really about someone’s harmful behavior; its about our own relationship with or past. When we begin the work of forgiveness, it a primary practice for ourselves. ~Gina Sharpe

The giving up all hope of a better past part, is giving me a headache…. I feel like I have been on the cusp of grasping its meaning but can’t quite get there. I have gone beyond a silly neighborly indiscretion and move to the “my heart chakra blocked thing” place. Have I been holding on to the past? Have I been defining forgiveness incorrectly all these years? Has understanding a situation just a bad coverup for once again not seeing what part of my self is truly showing up?

I’ve been trying to lay it all out these past few days. Be completely honest about biggest wounds. ok so here they are:

~relationship with my mother

~ relationship with parents

~friendships

~my marriage, R.,

First three, I honestly think are done.  A tedious and somewhat nauseous amount of years, I worked through the family pieces. Yes, it was at a turtle’s pace due to attachments and all, but the letting go has brought me so many gifts whose pieces keep me on track.  As my mother’s mind fades away and my Dad’s heart slows and body disappears, I am at peace. Then there is friendship. Recent events have allowed me to see how stubborn ego with expectations is at the root of my troubles in this department. It takes some boo wooing before I feel ridiculous and move on from that moment I felt so betrayed with a bag of embarrassment that then slowly floats away.  But R., that is a tricky one.  Sharpe goes onto write that “Forgiveness releases us from the power of fear and allows us to see kindly with a wise heart.”  Hmmm…fear? Never really thought about fear and forgiveness going hand and hand. But if my response to being wounded is flight or fight, isn’t that just fear? I guess this is true. I am fearful, so immediately the walls go up so I can fight. Make solid. Harden. Or I run. Take flight back to my covers, where I slowly bury the hurt. Dismiss the wound. Clearly this must not be working for me if my heart chakra is blocked. As Pema Chodron would say, start where you are…Its never too late. So today, I will begin to lean in, to this thing called forgiveness. I will begin to view it not in hate but in of practice. A way of going deeper into what I have covered up so well. I way in which l will try and allow space for facing what is buried.

Day 6, 100 day challenge.6-22-13 005

 

 

 

 

 

Cutting to the Chase

Relieved that my head and heart don’t feel so clogged today.  During this precarious time of my Dad’s passing, I’ve been encouraged to look more deeply at the masculine energy that will soon dissolve from my lineage. The meanings of the masculine and famine energies of the world, continue to be a mystery for me. I have dabbled here and there with readings from Sue Monk Kidd and Jean Shinoda Bolan but masculine energy has only arisen in dream group.

Growing up the masculine and feminine were portrayed only in terms of gender roles and stereo types.   My mother’s feminine world was one of strict lines. Rules not to be bent. I remember talking an evening summer walk with my entire family at our grandparents beach house. We were all in a festive mood and I got all goofy and silly sort of running, skipping and turning all at once. My Mother, who was having fun but a bit undone by my unruliness, and said something that translated to remember we ( my three sisters and I ) were ladies so don’t be so goofy. My Dad’s was being playful and linked our arms and said “Oh yes, now, You are ladies, one, two three….!” as we skipped around my mother! Now she laughed and softened immediately. Loved how my Dad could make her laugh, then soften.

Is that what the masculine energy is all about? Cutting away the unnecessary baggage of a situation?  Just a straight line sort of view?  Granted,  a fun family walk on a beach is somewhat a silly example, but in witnessing my Dad’s passing, how can I best deepen my view of a masculine energy lineage he has passed along? Where in my life do I need to channel this view to help balance the crazy swirl of my feminine self?  “Just cut to the chase Lis. Don’t let a hurricane brew with emotions that are most likely connected to past wounds.” This is the work that can be done now.

~ 100 day challenge, day 5….

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