Guest in Your Heart / Writing

Open NOT Broken

Month: November, 2013

My Grumpy Reaction to Videos with Homeless People Continues

Nothing makes me feel more grumpy or less progressive than my anger over the videos of homeless seem to be all the rage right now. It’s not the homeless people irritating me but the housed and homed. The people in the video below seem so charmed and moved by this homeless guy as though he is adorable stray dogs who show up in music videos making them seem more real, authentic or artsy. If he were some employed man joining the scene, would the musician say, “Dude, you’re cutting into my video”?

http://www.reddit.com/r/videos/comments/1r4ms9/guy_filming_a_music_videohomeless_man_joins_him/

People seem surprised when homeless people are actual people. People with skills and talents and sometimes warm personalities, people who listen and sing along in a music video or who look better and transformed with styling products – just like the rest of us.

I am THRILLED the issue is getting attention and if videos make people give more thought or money to affordable housing and a wide range of services, fabulous. But the videos don’t give me warm fuzzy feelings. Maybe it’s because my father, if alive, is homeless. Maybe it’s because I worked at a shelter for homeless families and know that what is needed most is money and housing and access to affordable health care.

Homeless people are actual people who are fathers and siblings and sons and daughters. They are sometimes heroic veterans and sometimes selfish boozers and sometimes, both, just the same as in most families.

To me, the videos make me feel sour in the stomach, maybe because the person who is the subject is not the one directing the shots or the video and their perspective and voice, though they “star” and make guest spots, doesn’t seem shown. At least to me. So, I rant on…

http://www.elephantjournal.com/2013/11/daughter-of-a-homeless-alcoholic-vet-responds-to-video-christine-cissy-white/

 

 

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Sea Glass is the Ultimate Survivor

O.k., I’m testing out the PicMonkey tool on http://www.picmonkey.com/ trying to make Pinterest worthy words and images. I’m not quite used to the format, but I am a collector of quotes, so I like the medium for that most.

Now, back to learning what original and “stock” photos to use, copyright for the words/ideas of others and basically playing.

sea glass seaglass with ocean , beach and seascape, shallow dof

 

Sweetness

There is an almost unspeakable joy in seeing your own child nurture and love another. When the other child, is your cousin’s own adorable blossoming baby boy… it is hard not to get emotional.

Aidyn, not yet two, being pushed on the very blue and plastic little push car my daughter, Kai, used when she was a toddler makes my own heart roll up and down the street with their bodies. His laughter, her eagerness to hold his hand lift me up and make me feel as expansive as they sky they are looking at where there is a plane.

Kai is no longer an infant or a toddler or preschooler now. She is a tween capable of holding a baby on her hip, wanting to make him laugh and smile. Aidyn is now the soul I remember recently in his Mama’s about to burst belly just two short years ago. Now, he says, “Mama. Mama,” and does the universal arms out “uppy” knowing he will be lifted and held.

“Can I read it to him?” Kai said about his favorite book when his parents were gone having a rare date night. She pulled her chair close to mine so she could read and show pictures. She read every single page with dramatic emphasis.

When Aidyn babbled, sometimes words I could hear and others I wasn’t clear on, she said she would translate as she understood everything he was saying. “I think he asked what erosion is” she said and I smiled. “Maybe,” I said. “Why don’t you tell him since you just learned about that at school.”

In the kitchen, on the floor, while pointing at the refrigerator he spoke, reminding me of the times she stood up and gave speeches and monologues that only she understood. Her father and I used to be a captive audience responding to facial expressions and hand movements. It stuns me that a full decade has passed.

Aidyn, at almost two, is in a physical relationship with discovery and the world. When do we stop splaying our entire bodies out as he did when looking under tables? Even getting up and down, on and off the piano bench seems as much a discovery as the actual pressing of piano keys. It’s a full body movement to get up and down, to run and chase, to follow the cat around the house and get close enough to touch her fur.

When Kai was a toddler, I was often tired, mind-numbingly bored and sleep deprived. I was also deeply engaged in every aspect of her physical, emotional and mental development. Her attachment needs, her nutrition and tasks allowing her to catch up on her motor skills and development. It doesn’t seem so long ago. Now, she is not only a totally dependent young child but an oozy ball of love and attentiveness.

She knows how to offer care and attention, how to guide on stairs and to make funny faces meant to elicit joy. I felt a little triumphant because I remembered the times she froze as a baby, how it took a while after leaving an orphanage for her to learn to trust, to expect responsiveness and before she could melt back and lean into my body as we poured over board books like Brown Bear. Now she is reading the words to him, words so familiar I remember them and can mouth them as she reads them to him.

Now I understand those moments when you can see your child’s face and see into the past, see all of the ages they ever were, but also get hints and clues, glimpses into a future they may inhabit. I went from being reminded of Kai as a toddler, to imagining her as a full-grown woman who might one day be a mother herself.

Mostly, it was just joy when she holds him on her hip, fully confident and able to make him feel secure while also pointing to a place in the sky. I feel lucky to parent an eleven year old.

I pulled a case of wooden train tracks out of the closet, a set not opened for years, and was reminded of the years of laying tracks with Kai, playing trains with Kai, being belly down on the floor and discovering wheels and patterns, play and motion, stillness and concentration within play.

But for it to be the same set, the very train tracks and trains Kai’s long ago fingers touched and for Aidyn to be holding them as brand new to his fingers – it was one of those circle of life moments. It was bitter or sweet or bitter-sweet – just pure. The tracks themselves hold memories and energy.

These memories and new experiences mix together. The laying of track, the repeated experience of joy and company, play and productivity, curiosity and reciprocity, in toddler years and forever more, is what matters most.

It’s one soul paying attention to another that makes the spirit and soul at ease, resting and eager to create and discover and explore. It can be easy to forget, in the rush of busy and productive life, but it was so simple and beautiful.

I am becoming that stranger in the grocery store smiling at babies, telling young mothers to get sleep, go on date nights, take moments for themselves and also, to appreciate it because it goes so fast.

To be allowed to nurture someone’s child is a gift and an honor and a trust I am so grateful to be earning. To Aidyn and his parents I say, “Thank you. More please. Again”

War Within: Daughter of Homeless Vet Responds to Video

I passed through the seven stages of grief watching a middle-aged homeless man transformed by a haircut in the following video.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/11/07/homeless-veteran-time-lapse-transformation_n_4234907.html

I’m crying at first and am surprised to feel moved. With just his hair wet and off of his face he begins to come to life and I can see him as a person who could sit at my dinner table. Will cut bangs reveal my father’s eyes?

My tears are replaced by annoyance as the hairdresser places dye on his hair. Why on earth would she do that? What about his roots? Will he be tracked down under a bridge or in a bar every six weeks for touch ups?  Why not get a dentist to help those black gums and rotting teeth?

Is this guy being taken advantage of for a feel-good clip? Do homeless people really benefit? I think I notice him smile as his hair is cleared from around his eyes. Does it feel good to be touched and nurtured? He doesn’t seem to mind.

He starts to seem, well, not bad looking. I mean better looking than a lot of the men on Match. Should I start hair styling for homeless men and find a future mate?

Rage comes in and the nasty part of me wants to face bomb the video. I imagine talking to everyone who watches it saying, “He’s probably a drunk who stole from his kid’s piggy bank and beat their mother. Why don’t you get a video of her working while he is sleeping on the streets? And what about the kids he abandoned?”

I’m the daughter of a homeless veteran. But, as the feminists say, the personal is political. Men like this Jim, on every day but Veteran’s Day, seem to be considered litter on our streets.

How come people aren’t posting, “Thank a veteran for your freedom” when veterans are asking for better VA services? Since they fought for our freedom aren’t we responsible for their problems when combat causes or exacerbates mental illnesses and addictions? Do we want the uglier sides of serving to remain hidden, like decaying teeth, behind closed mouths and doors?

No matter what our views on war can’t we agree that veterans deserve at least basic rations?

Is it society we need to make over to highlight our own hypocrisy?

Maybe this guy’s transformation started from the outside and went all the way in. The notes say he’s getting sober. Good for him. The organization using the clip to raise funds is causing people to look at this man and this issue. They have raised close to $30,000.

It’s less than a week later. Are you still thinking about homeless veterans?

I’m not trying to change your politics. I’ve got enough emotions at war within. These are just the thoughts of a now grown daughter thinking of her homeless, alcoholic, veteran father.

Writing Through Your Divorce – Blog and Workshop

http://writingdivorce.com/the-blog/?author=51b76523e4b0d3389493e929

The above website published a piece I wrote which is exciting. One of the things I love about writing, besides the actual process, is the wonderful people I meet and resources and writing I learn about.

My divorce was final by the time I learned about the two woman who started this blog and “Writing Through Your Divorce” workshops. When I read this line, “for women who write to process” describing what they do and offer, I knew I found members of my tribe.

The Writing Through Your Divorce site is new. They respect writers and pay them (that’s still rare). Check out the other writing on their blog if you have time.

And if you or anyone you know is going through a divorce (or the end of long-term partnership) and might benefit from “writing through” the process – direct them to the website. I know it would have been a resource I would have loved.

Here’s a description of the women running the workshop and blog (from their website). Can you tell how fabulous they are?

Magda Pecsenye has been writing the parenting advice website AskMoxie.org since 2005, in which she focuses on problem-solving and integrating parenting with the rest of ourselves. She writes When The Flames Go Up, a blog about co-parenting after divorce, with her ex-husband, and writes a blog for Huffington Post Divorce. She has been one of Babble’sTop 50 Mom Blogs for the past three years, and has been interviewed and mentioned in theNew York Times, Globe and Mail, Parenting magazine, Parents magazine, and Redbook, and has appeared on Good Morning America and HLN Prime News. She writes and coaches parents about strategy and change, and consults on strategy, marketing, and media for entrepreneurs and small businesses. She lives in Ann Arbor, MI, with her two sons.

Deesha Philyaw is a Pittsburgh-based freelancer who writes about race, parenting, food, and pop culture. Along with her ex-husband she is the co-founder of co-parenting101.organd the co-author of Co-Parenting 101: Helping Your Children Thrive in Two Households After Divorce (New Harbinger). She has appeared on CBS’s The Early Show, and her writing has been published in Essence and Bitch magazines, The Pittsburgh-Post Gazette, and The Washington Post. Other recent work includes contributions to the collections When We Were Free to Be: Looking Back at a Children’s Classic and the Difference It Made (The University of North Carolina Press) and The Cassoulet Saved Our Marriage: True Tales of Food, Family, and How We Learn to Eat (Roost Books).  Deesha is an adjunct professor in Chatham University’s Master of Writing program, and she has taught adult writing classes at the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts.  In 2012, she received a Flight School Fellowship for artist professional development from the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts/Pittsburgh Filmmakers.  She is a remarried mom and stepmom to four daughters.

 

The Tears of Men

How might the world be different if the tears of men were shed more?

Sharon Rawlette

From Pat Conroy’s Beach Music:

TearsAmerican men are allotted just as many tears as American women. But because we are forbidden to shed them, we die long before women do with our hearts exploding or our blood pressure rising or our lives eaten away by alcohol because that lake of grief inside us has no outlet. We, men, die because our faces were not watered enough.

Brian Doyle’s latest piece in The Sun, Cut,” is a lovely complement to this.

 

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Beth O’Malley’s New Blog & Divorce: Adoption-Style Article

My soul sister friend, Beth O’Malley, is a national adoption expert and the author of Lifebooks: Creating a Treasure for the Adopted Child. She had a lifelong long career as an adoption social worker at the Department for Children and Families (DCF). She was adopted from foster care as an infant. She and her husband adopted a beautiful spirit over ten years ago. She blends her knowledge about adoption which is a blend of profoundly personal and professionally extensive and warmly accessible.

She has published workbooks for kids in foster care as well as children adopted from China. Her website is http://www.adoptionlifebooks.com and she has just started blogging at http://www.adoptionlifebooks.wordpress.com – YAHOO! I am so glad because she has so much wisdom to share.

We met at a workshop about the home study process for adoptive parents. We had seen each other at events at Wide Horizons for Children where she was a vendor and I helped plan cultural events. Since then, we have been friends and our daughters, born only ten days apart, have yearly cookie baking and summer outing and crafting sleepover traditions which are yummy and fun rituals for all of us. 

The reason I’m mentioning her here, on my blog, is because she has asked me to write for her newsletter about divorce from the perspective of an adoptive mother. I have and share that piece below:

*

I never planned to be a stay-at-home mother. I was a feminist who earned the same as my husband when we decided to adopt a child born in China. Our daughter Kai’s attachment needs trumped my politics. I stopped working, woke up many times a night to feed her bottles and soothe her terrified cries which lasted for years.

I needed to differentiate myself from the staff people who had been in the orphanage, show her what it means to have a loving and available mother available who is responsive. Her secure attachment was my priority. There would be no passing her around like a hot potato at family events, no babysitters each week or weekends away without Kai. We lived to protect, feed and nurture her physical and emotional development. We didn’t believe in letting her cry it out – ever.

So when her father and I decided to divorce during her first year of kindergarten, not only did I feel like I failed at marriage, but at being her adoptive and attachment parent. Adoptive parents aren’t supposed to divorce. Our babies come into our lives already having experienced loss. We are supposed to love, heal and nurture not re-traumatize or be the cause for tears.

At therapy, with an adoption specialist, I agonized. How can I do something “right” for me when it feels “wrong” for my daughter? But trust between her father and I was shattered. Adoptive parents aren’t supposed to have addictions, mental health issues, trust issues and remnants from childhood trauma still unresolved – they do. We did. Our children might have anxiety, depression or attachment disorders but not us.

We didn’t know how to reconcile our failings (which is how they felt) because adoptive parents are supposed to be make life better, not worse, supposed to have answers – not questions. No one expects divorce but adoptive parents feel a unique brand of guilt because our children have already lost their birth parents, their first parents and we know the profound loss, the transitions in foster care, orphanages or homes.

We had devoted five years to Kai’s growth and development, learning about malnutrition and being a bicultural family. Adoption conferences, books and magazines filled my “free” time as did organizing a cultural play group. But I couldn’t keep my marriage or Kai’s family together. It didn’t make sense. 

We tried an in-house separation, sleeping in different bedrooms, considered buying a duplex or building an addition to remain under one roof while apart. Nothing worked. Trust was shattered between us and we didn’t want our tension to be a skunk perfume so strong it could be tasted, so overwhelming it was hard to breathe or pay attention to anything else.

Together, at the therapist’s office children’s blocks were on the floor, Korean art on one wall and photos of families on another, we got coached on how to talk to our daughter, what to say and not say, what to do and not do.

Don’t get a dog too soon to try to replace Daddy. Don’t be Daddy Santa Claus and only do fun things when she’s away from home. Cry enough to show feelings but not so much you frighten or burden. And of course, reassure her that you will always be her parents, together or apart, and that she was blameless.

On our dining room floor we all sat and her father and I took turns with sentences. I explained Daddy was moving out. He said he would be close by and see her often. We both told her none of our “grown up problems” was her fault.

“Why would it be my fault?” she asked. That sentence was the one ray of sunshine that warmed. There was little else to celebrate. Kai pointed out “perks” to our divorce saying, “It’s just girls in the house now,” or “Can I have the extra close?” She seemed more bewildered than sad.

There were school concerts and Halloween, then the holidays to get through and spring cleaning. My camera worked and I took photographs as I had done each year of her life. I’d load the pictures on Snapfish but put off developing them. Photos of her father and me on the first Christmas morning with strained smiles as she opened gifts. He had showed up at 6:00 a.m. and stayed through lunch. The intentions were good. The photos were not frame-worthy.

There were photos of events I attended without Kai because she was with her Dad. Her absence all I could see. The time she waved to me from the booster seat in the back of her father’s car the first time she went to sleep at his apartment is an image I will never forget. Her hands out the car window waving to me and mine out the kitchen window waving to her. They couldn’t reach or touch. When the car rounded the corner I sobbed. No cameras. No witnesses. That is stored in the solitary confinement of memory.

We didn’t write away to Chinese Consulate for Adoption Affairs seeking permission to parent expecting we would do child support calculations one day. There were no books or pamphlets on how to divorce adoption-sensitive and attachment-style. We struggled to factor in the needs not factored into any state formulas or parenting plans. Could we keep her home and school life consistent as her family changed? Would I work full-time or part-time? How much of her schedule would we disrupt?

Divorce is not ideal. It can be painful and messy – and she’s not even a teenager. It isn’t an experience, like a surgery, that has a clean end date. It took time to accept our new normal, four years before I could get old photos printed, organized and into albums.

The heaviness of my avoidance finally lifted. I realized not all the photos had to be turned into scrapbook pages with hearts and smiley faces. Kai didn’t need a four-year gap in the visual archive of her childhood because some of the images were difficult. It felt right to capture memories and experiences of our whole family life so she will have them for later. Space and nothingness won’t be used to deny reality.

Once, Kai said she was going to write a book called “My Divorce” for other kids. I wanted to correct her, to tell her kids don’t get divorced, don’t ever get divorced from their parents. But how could I say those words to her? She had lost her birth parents, country and language before her first birthday. Parents can be lost and sometimes forever. It was her divorce too. It was the end of a family life she had known.

We are not the family we were, the one we dreamed we would remain, but Kai’s father and I adore her when together or apart. We swap Christmas lists and co-host her birthday parties. We sit together at school outings and sometimes grab a meal together. We share stories and concerns, celebrations and report cards. He has the keys to my home. I have the keys to his apartment. Both places Kai calls home.

We are doing our best to nurture, co-parent and provide stability. We are “doing” divorce as attachment-aware and adoption-sensitive as possible.

Pressing Play on Life

This short clip with the conversation between sisters has to be shared. http://storycorps.org/listen/teenage-abuse/

Love filled their voices even more than pain. “We’re going to be able to have this life that is filled with what we need.” I’m so happy I heard this today. Yesterday, on NPR, there was a piece about how childhood abuse scars the brain.

http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2013/11/04/242945454/childhood-maltreatment-can-leave-scars-in-the-brain

Though it isn’t happy news, I read a comment from one survivor to another saying, “How validating” and I couldn’t stop thinking about it before bed. I found it validating as well but it seems an odd reaction. Childhood abuse damaged my brain. Fantastic. I knew it! WTF?

However, abuse survivors know the damage is real and lasting and often feel we have to “prove” that is true or “convince” others. This stems from abuse being done in secret often, if and when shared, being minimized or not believed. Trauma expert Bessel van der Kolk is an expert on trauma and was interviewed by On Being’s Krista Tippett, said

“Well, what I think happens is that people have terrible experiences and we all do and we are a very resilient species. So if we are around people who love us, trust us, take care of us, nurture us when we are down, most people do pretty well with even very horrendous events. But particularly traumas that occur at the hands of people who are supposed to take care of you, if you’re not allowed to feel what you feel, know what you know, your mind cannot integrate what goes on and you can get stuck on the situation. So the social context in which it occurs is fantastically important.”

But what happens when abuse happens IN the social social context that is supposed to counter the damage aspects? That’s the one-two punch that flattens. But maybe this was on my mind, up close and under a microscope before bed, more than usual yesterday because of sad news.

At lunch, I got a letter at lunch from my daughter’s school. One of her teachers has cancer. She has been out for weeks and has just been diagnosed. The school sent home a letter letting us, the parents know, and also telling us when our children are being told so we can talk to them after school.

The kids were told all together in a group. They were given time to make their teacher a card. My daughter is knitting a scarf because this teacher not only teaches science but runs the fiber arts project of which my daughter loves. I am grateful to her school because it cares not only about the kids, offering resources if they need more support, but because it was supportive of the teacher with cancer. Also, it’s pretty nice that they sent a letter home to us.

How this relates is that the delivery doesn’t change the facts. The news is still sad. However, the kids are being taught that not only do bad things happen to good teachers, but when life delivers a blow, it may also reveal love, generosity, care and tenderness. My daughter will witness people’s hearts opening, and how life can be difficult but also good, amidst difficult. Responses can enlarge the human spirit and make pain and difficult less hard.

 

When trauma and abuse happen in a family setting, there is no soothing response. Both the trauma and the lack of healthy response injure. Pain is kept secret or silenced and no love is extended which might heal it and lessen the severity of trauma’s impact.

It is horrible to be violated or traumatized. But to grow up thinking it is common, not cause for compassion or outrage, justice or concern, can be spirit breaking. It suggests a world in which there is no hope or warmth and where injury to those who are vulnerable is expected, tolerated and accepted. Maybe considered normal…. deserved.

Too many survivors spend far too long trying to “prove” to others and ourselves the damage was damaging, the pain was painful and the injury not imaginary. Instead, we should be helping ourselves and each other embrace hope and resilience.

Survival is crucial and necessary. It’s a huge accomplishment but it is not enough. As one sister said, “We’re going to be able to have this life that is filled with what we need.”

That is where the energy and hope lives. We get to make love with our eyes open feeling our bodies. We are capable of creating relationships and families (of choice if not biology) who give and receive empathy, emotional honesty and nurturing. We need not be lifelong prisoners to fear though we may need to wage war with some symptoms all of our lives. But we can win those battles and enjoy tremendous peace as well.

And in doing both, we  create a better world where there is room for not only our sorrow but our gifts. After all, van der Kolk also says what so many of us already know even if it is not yet seen on brain scans:

“But, um, you know, I think trauma really does confront you with the best and the worst, huh? You see the horrendous things that people do to each other, but you also see resiliency, the power of love, the power of caring, the power of commitment, the power of commitment to oneself, to the knowledge that there are things that are larger than our individual survival.

 

And some of the most spiritual people I know are exactly traumatized people, because they have seen the dark side. In some ways, I don’t think you can appreciate the glory of life unless you also know the dark side of life.”

*full transcript of On Being show: http://www.onbeing.org/program/restoring-the-body-bessel-van-der-kolk-on-treating-trauma-with-yoga-emdr-and-healing-0

 

Loving Tribute to Life and Love

Laurie Anderson wrote about her husband, Lou Reed, and their life and love. It is such a stunning tribute not just to love but to life. Even in her grief, maybe because of her grief, she is celebratory and honest. The writing is tender.

Now, I can’t wait to learn all about his work and hers. I am so grateful I got to be on the planet at the same time as them and love the image of them getting together, her not even knowing it was a date, and how they just stayed together from that point on.

I wonder what is next for her. She sounds so fortified by her life, love and practices. What a role model.

Here’s the link:

http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/laurie-andersons-farewell-to-lou-reed-a-rolling-stone-exclusive-20131106?page=2

Knowing Strangers: Seeker Seeking Seekers

A.A. envy is what I have and it won’t go away. It’s been decades already. I want to know there is a room I can enter, raw and real, seven days a week anywhere in the world. A space where emotions are not only tolerated but welcome, like therapy without the co-pay, church without sexual abuse or sexism and women’s consciousness raising groups – with men.

 

I love body work, self-help books and streaming Pema Chodron videos as much as the next seeker. However, there is something more primal and life affirming I am after – a community where roles are checked instead of coats. I want a zoo for the wide-eyed and open-hearted in process of becoming. It seems impossible to find but my hunger feels ancient and familiar.

 

I folded page 25 of Your Native Land, Your Life by Adrienne Rich, almost three decades ago, underlining and making star-shaped doodles by the following passage:

 

“There must be those among whom we can sit down and weep, and still be counted as warriors… I think you thought there was no such place for you, and perhaps there was none then, and perhaps there is none now; but we will have to make it…”

 

But it hasn’t been made which is why I idealize A.A. even though I barely drink.  Sometimes I imagine what it would be like to be both anonymous and intimate, disappearing into an audience, quiet and listening while feeling the warmth of knees near mine. A place where I could bring my heart which is like a hand shy dog backing away from petting, longing for companionship but afraid of getting hurt.

Could I curl up on the floor near the fire to lick my wounds without someone throwing me a ball to fetch and where my sour mug wouldn’t make another uncomfortable? Could I skip and dance and be silly without feeling childish? I want to go where I can show up as a seasoned mother baring a lactating breast, offering necessary and nutritious milk one moment and becoming a cranky, crying infant needy for the teat in the next.

 

With loved ones, I don’t always know how to balance openness and privacy, vulnerability and protection, nakedness with wearing appropriate clothing. Sometimes the pulsing beat of a cheery conversation goes too long and I can’t switch to instrumental. The engine gets revved and I am doing circles before shifting gears or changing lanes.

 

How do I admit, while at an amusement I wanted to go to that I am sick of cotton candy, loud music and want to get my bare back on green grass to look at stars? My feelings can be a brand new tie-dye in the washing machine. Can I keep the colors bright without bleeding into a load of whites? 

Where are the places we can gather together as both log and fire, where everyone dresses in layers, bundles up or strips down ready to weather all temperatures?I am starving for the gutsy, gritty experiences of hearts unguarded and expressing not answers but experiences.

 

Maybe it would come in the form of story, the pale face of an uneasy stranger straining to hold down the pain threatening to overwhelm him because he is afraid if he allows it he won’t be able to get back to work? Maybe he can talk about his demons and knowing his life will get worse before it gets better and he’s not yet sure he can manage. Maybe his wife talks about how she chopped vegetables for dinner and realized the only thing cooking was the end of her marriage. And how, when that man came home and her children ran into his arms and they locked eyes for a moment and knew they could make it… or not…

Life’s difficulties can be beautiful when normalized. Storytelling is magic even when the story is unimaginable.

 

I don’t want to gather only for endings or celebrations. I am made braver watching tears flush away an ounce of fear or seeing the way color returns to cheeks. I love how faces and hearts open and soften, return to joy and playfulness on their own after sharing.

 

In those places where chairs could be available in a year or a decade regardless of what the guy did about his problems or the woman about her marriage. Uncertainty and indecision would be as welcome as action.

 

I have paid money and written away for butterfly kits that my daughter and I have rushed to open. We made sure the larvae sugar water gel food was out and peered in often to watch the cocooning. Days later, blood stained the netting before the butterflies found flight. Why can’t I accept for myself how transformation is rarely quick, bloodless or instantaneous?

 

033Polished novels are satisfying but do not come before countless drafts, many revisions and the exploration of a few possible endings. New Englanders know trees may be their most glamorous looking during a peak foliage but are just as valuable offering shade in mid summer. They don’t lose when cold or bare and snow-covered in winter.

 

There are people with eyes that shine like flashlights illuminating warmth not “The Way.” They do not give out maps, directions or instruction but simply bear witness while one stumble around in the dark. I want those eyes. I want to feel them on me and I want to look out of them at someone.

My name is Christine and my life is entirely too well managed. My bottom is the sequence of moments turned into years when I’ve gone numb and thankless believing my time is endless. My ailment is not alcohol but forgetting.

I want the church of remembering, the school of awake and to binge on smelling salts for the soul. I strive to be the letter “c” who shows up the same in scared or sacred. She doesn’t lose herself or meaning no matter the context or setting. She knows the only way to travel into the heart of communion and communication is to align with the other letters in the alphabet.

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