Not that long ago in the treatment room, my acupuncturist took my pulses and told me that my chi was stronger and more balanced than she had ever seen it. And its true, I was feeling more full, more peaceful, more aware of the great abundance in my life than I have perhaps ever. The situation of my life was not all that different than it had been a few months ago, but I am so fully aware of the gift of it all, it was not a surprise that my body began singing that tune. I felt so blessed that the Universe and I had worked together to heal some cracks in my heart so that I could begin to store a reservoir of energy to face whatever life would throw at me next.
You know what happened then? I immediately began to wonder when the next shoe would drop and tragedy would strike. I was certain the Universe had brought me to this pinacle of joy, only to rob me of it. I admit this sheepishly, but to be honest its true. I have programmed myself to believe that opening up to goodness means a sure fire punch in the gut is coming. I sat with that a while and got curious about it.
Max went on a long planned overnight trip this week to an indoor water park a few hours away with some of his best buddies from hockey. The trip is well chaperoned by people I love and trust deeply. For him, it was a holiday dream come true–an amazing adventure laid out before him.
Over the holidays Max and I had lots of opportunities for mom/son time. We spent hours reading together all snuggled up by the fire. Just as I would sink into the goodness of being his mother, fear would start to creep in. Foreboding Joy.
With this trip on the horizon, this trip so exciting and marvelous laid out like a gem I got fixated on the fact that this trip–this beautiful gift of a trip would be the thing that did us in.
I was certain that something was going to go wrong–horribly wrong. A car accident, a drowning, a bully or a sick man who would lure him away. He would bump into sharp corners of some sort and be wounded horribly. He would not come home. All these things do happen after all to families every day and the truth of the matter is we never know when life is going to shift and change or throw us a curve ball. We don’t know when we or our loved ones will breathe their last breaths. I tried to hold these facts without dwelling on them. I breathed and focused on the present moment. It seemed to help.
One night Max crawled into my bed, his room was so cold. I was awake and as I snuggled him and watched him sleep I felt that fear start to rise again. That panic that he would be taken from me. Visions of firey car crashes warred with my internal reassurances that he was traveling with a paramedic. I wondered whether it was my mother’s intutition that was telling me to not let him go, to slam the door on this opportunity and keep him safe by the fire with me. I then wondered whether this was my own difficulty sinking into the kindness and the adventure presented to him. This war was taking me nowhere good.
So late that night, I made a different decision. Instead of stepping on that rollercoaster, I stepped back and asked myself what on earth could this fear be pointing to. As I looked at his giant puppy ten year old self sleeping in heap and stealing my covers it was clear.
I love this child so very much, so deeply, so completely and with such abandon that my heart is completely and utterly exposed. And that is a very blessed thing. Being Max mom is the greatest joy of my life, a job that has new challenges and new twists and turns, a job that is ever changing. It is a job that I love with a passion so great, I sometimes think I will explode. And that is a blessed thing.
It was not his trip with the long list of possible (though not probable) tragedies that could occur that was scaring me. It was being this vulnerable. I sat with this fact for a long time. I wrapped my arms around my boy and I slept on it.
When I woke up, I realized that my vulnerability is what is saving me, what is healing me. When I sit, open in the classroom, letting myself be moved, I am practicing being vulnerable. When I marvel at all that I have, kissing each ordinary blessing in my life, I am being vulnerable. This vulnerability is terrifying and it is a treasure. It is what is opening up the deep well of energy and chi and goodness that I am drawing from. It is what is allowing me to sink even deeper. Its not a surprise that as I wake up to vulnerability I found myself struggling with it too.
What a treasure it was to stumble upon this. I have bumped into the work of the marvelous Brene Brown before and yet as I sit in my pajamas waiting for Max to come home, it resonates at a level so much deeper than before.
I am aware of how I protect myself from this vulnerability by refusing to open up entirely to the love and goodness in my life. How quick I am to slam the gates around my heart and what it has cost me. And I am making it decision, right here, right now, to practice vulnerability, over and over again.
The Ted Talk takes 20 minutes but it may just change your life.
**Thinking with love of K. and others who are sharing this journey with me. We are all walking it together. Holding hands will make it easier.**
On Sunday as I was pulling out of the Trader Joe’s parking lot, the power steering in my new car gave way.
At that moment, I became profoundly aware that I had a car. A car that is transporting me to school every day. A car that allows me to take Max to hockey and to carry a trunk full of groceries home in the heat. My chest, neck and shoulders all began to tighten as I contemplated what the next few days would be like without the use of this precious car. That tightness could have been a springboard to a whole downward spiral of panic.
Instead I used it as a bell. A call to make a different decision. Instead of contemplating its loss–what if I celebrated its presence? This was something I am learning in school. It was a chance to practice. The truth is dwelling on the problem would only have given rise to panic and my panic would not have served me. It would have not helped me solve my problem and was about to cause me a whole world of suffering. So I decided to chose a new practice of gratitude.
I started from where I was. I was able to turn the car using a bit of muscle. I could take it the two miles home. The frozen chicken in the trunk would not melt. I was grateful for that one small detail. I was grateful the whole way home, at every stop light, I noticed how far it had carried me. Whenever panic began to rise in my throat I told myself. “I have a car–a car that serves me well. It is taking me home.” Those words changed the whole way I held my body.
Surprisingly, I was feeling calm when I got home, not in the funk I might take on when my carefully orchestrated reality starts to unravel. I made a phone call to a friend and found myself blessed once again. For I had a friend who would loan me her car for a day or two while my broken one to the shop. I had a way to school and it only required one phone call. How easy!
The next morning, I made a call to the magic auto repair garage in my neighborhood. Milo the Magnificent made a quick decision that the car wasn’t safe and even though they were booked (and it required me to rush out of the house at that minute) they would take my car if I could get it there quickly. He didn’t promise me an answer anytime soon but he wanted to be sure it was off the road and safe at their place until they could take a peak. I may have felt panicked about what the visit to the garage might do to my carefully planned morning schedule but I decided to make a different choice. As I walked into the garage that morning, I declared myself joyful. It was a beautiful morning. I had mechanics who care and my car had given me an excuse for an early morning walk through the neighborhood.
When they called just a few hours later to tell me about the expensive repairs that were looming, I did not despair. Instead I chose to focus on how pleasantly surprised I was that they had looked at it so quickly and grateful that I had cash in the bank. I had a car. I had the cash. I am lucky. Lucky. Lucky.
When I went that afternoon to pick up my car, I didn’t feel tense, sick or even the slightest bit resentful, even though I was handing over hundreds that I hadn’t planned to spend. Instead I felt nothing but gratitude–for the car, the mechanics, the cash.
When my power steering hose (and another belt or two) gave way, I never imagined it would be a gift. It woke me up to a present moment both abundant and blessed.
I have a car.
I have a generous friend.
I have an efficient and fair mechanic.
I have sufficient cash.
The world is beginning to show up new. Full. Rich. I am lucky indeed. I am so grateful for the leaking power steering hose that reminded me of this. Life has showing up as abundance and it took a broken down car to point me to it. I am so glad I can finally see.
Its been one of those summers. Transition and excitement and change and full catastrophe living. In some ways its the price to be paid for living the dream. Its exhausting dodging all the curve balls that get thrown this way. Like my car.
Not that long ago, I declared on a summery eclipse night that I was ready to let go of my old crappy Mazda and make the space for a reliable energy efficient car. My sweet car wasn’t always old and crappy. She has served me well for 12 years. But the repair bills have been higher and more frequent than I’d like. I use packing tape to hold one headlight on and the body–well–the body has seen better days–to many urban parking garages. Twice this summer, the Universe has prompted me to let her go–first when someone backed into me in a pool parking lot. And then again on Tuesday on the way to Max’s swim practice when I got into another fender bender. The insurance company says her current worth is likely less than the cost of even the minor (but necessary) repairs and so more than likely when I meet with the lovely insurance adjuster, he will tell me that I am driving a drivable “total loss”, cut me a check and take her from me at last.
Unfortunately, the money I will get wont buy me a good car and I don’t really have much cash for a new used car. I knew a new car was on the horizon but I had been hoping and praying that this baby would last as long as I needed her to while I lazily flipped through Consumer Reports and diligently put the right amount aside. I didn’t want to face this problem urgently. Do we ever want to face any problem when its urgent?
This has been another blip in a long line of summertime happenings that have left me feeling panicked about my financial plan for the fall. Just when I had it all figured out, practically to the nickel, a new car throws everything into a tailspin. This despite pulling out every trick I know to figure out how to live on just 60% of my old income (or rather add to it) and create some cushion in case life gets nutty.
What’s almost comical is that I can’t quite seem to catch a break. There is a long tale of woe about a car my folks want to give me that ended in heartbreak and rust. And just a few weeks ago, not long after I declared myself ready to get rid of the car, I got a phone call. I had (hold onto your hats) won a car–a hybrid no less. Never a winner, I had won a sweepstakes I had entered at a hockey game some 8 months ago. I barely remembered doing it. I never thought much about the car. Really I just wanted to get Max a Red Caps towel to twirl at the game so I filled out some card, barely noticing the shiny Hydrid vehicle being hawked, trading the info I assumed would go to a marketing firm for a terry cloth freebie. Yet, here, as my old car was falling apart, a new one. The entire time I listened to the spiel I kept interrupting trying to find the catch. There always is a catch with these sweepstakes–a timeshare to buy or a vacation to take. And then, it came–the kicker. For some dumb reason, in order to win you had to be married. It was in the fine print on the damn card I didn’t care about filling out but did. I explaining to the kind man on the other end of the phone that I was no longer married. He then politely hung up.
When I was trying to decide to go to school so many people told me “Leap and the Net Will Appear”. I am not sure exactly what I thought it meant. I suppose I thought it meant something like a Fairy Godmother would appear out of nowhere who would secretly behind the scenes pull a few strings to conspire along the way to smooth the way and make it easier for things to fall into place. Interestingly enough though, this summer has been an exercise in the exact opposite. Every little step along the way seems three times more difficult–like walking into a blizzard wind. Each problem has required me to stretch myself. Learn something new. Go to some new uncomfortable place.
I am beginning to believe that, “Leap and the Net will Appear” means
“When in a free fall-the Universe may toss you some rope and whisper that its a pretty good time to learn to weave.” The magic must come from within.
Living on the edge, pushing toward my dreams means full catastrophe living. Being willing to walk on the edge and embrace the worse case scenario with calm and confidence and the full belief that whatever disaster comes our way, I will discover a way to solve that problem. It may involve my brain, my intuition or maybe just hard brut work but I will magic my own way out of it. Bibbity, bobbity boo…
And yet, at the same time, I know that the law of the Universe is that we are all interconnected. I am deeply powerful, but I am not alone. I will find allies and guides and and even net weavers who will support me, magicians assistants and wizened old mentors. I need to open to the resources that will appear. Friends and family who know how to buy cars, or rent bedrooms or market wares will show me the way. There may be partners who want to join me on my journey who won’t solve my problems but who will invest something (money, heart, ideas) into my quest. I have to keep believing that the resources I need to weave this net will appear and that I will know exactly what to do with them when they show up. Even when in freefall.
2. Assume success. Take a moment to imagine what success feels like. Close your eyes and let it wash over you. Know that you are successful right NOW and that is all that matters.
3. Clean your office. Throw away everything that doesn’t serve any more.
4. Refill prescriptions. File insurance claims. Make lunch. Take the car in for service. Pay attention to the details that help life run smoothly. Keep putting one foot in front of the other.
5. Take a walk.
6. Camp out at the school silent auction to ensure that the little boys who make your heart sing score the winning bid for a night at the movies with their Math Teacher.
7. Cry when you need to. Cry until you find yourself laughing.
8. Schedule dinner with an old dear friend and be prepared to laugh until you cry.
9. Embrace the fact that the brokenness is what saves you. Revel in the fact that you are never not broken.
10. Go to bed early. Sleep as late as you can.
11. Drink water. A lot of water.
12. Hold a warrior pose as long as your legs will allow you. Channel that warrior energy.
13. Play guitar. Even if its awful and you can’t really make it work because you are so distracted. Keep playing anyway. Come back to the notes. Stay with them. Over and over. Softly. Loudly.
14. Tell a friend everything you have done to make your dream come true. Report the facts without analysis about where its getting you. Know that every step you take is carrying you somewhere.
15. Take a shower and feel the cool water running down your back.
16. Make a list of everything you are ready to let go of. Prepare to let it go.
When I was a little girl, I was often afraid. I was afraid of missing the bus, afraid of upsetting my parents, afraid of not doing things right. I was afraid that the kids who said they were my friends didn’t really like me. I have no idea where it came from. My childhood was far from scary. I am not sure how much people knew how scared I felt. I can’t say whether I hid it well. I just remember fear being a constant companion, an imaginary friend who stuck to me like glue.
My fear protected me. I didn’t do a lot of dumb things kids do because of a healthy dose of fear. But at the same time my fear held me back. There were a lot of healthy and exciting things I wanted to do but never tried for fear of being bad, fear of looking dumb, fear of simply failing, fear that if I tried I might just drown.
In Chinese medicine they say that fear is the energy of water. Think of wild rapids that make your heart race, or dark murky depths that press on your lungs. Think of rivers that flood, or hurricanes that sweep us out to sea. We can’t control water, no matter how we try. It scares us. Because it is that strong.
The other energy of water is strength. Think of the power of water as it moves, carving canyons, changing coastlines. Water which turns deserts into blooming paradise. Water which sustains life.
Fear and strength are two sides of the same coin. To stand in the energy of water is to know both fear and deep unyielding strength. And we carry the potential for both when we face any great trauma, challenge or transition.
One of the ways to frame the story of my life (and maybe yours too) is a journey of understanding both sides of the energy of water. Sometimes it seems as though in the beginning I only knew fear. But in the last decade or so of my life, I am coming to embrace the quiet, fierce power of my strength, of knowing that no matter what comes I am going to be OK. And that strength is what has been allowing me to transform, to move beyond my fear and into my real potential.
Sometimes I feel nothing short of wimpy. A career change should be no big deal to a woman of my age and experience. And yet as I am readying myself to go part-time at work, to enter school I am feeling wave after wave of fear. Its exhausting. The fear–it is making everything so hard.
You would think that at this point in my rather mature life that I would have the where with all to make this shift without much issue. But, the truth is, nothing can trigger these fears, like money issues.
From the beginning of my working life, I have never made enough to create a cushion, the kind of cushion that I tell myself would help me feel “safe” about making a leap. First a teacher, then a government staffer, then an activist, I have always worked for “just enough”–the desire to help and do something meaningful always trumping my desire for money or material things. There were moments when I felt more comfortable than others, but truth is every raise came just at the right moment as my expenses increased.
While I have never been motivated by the prospect of accumulating money, I am a creature of certain comforts. I like the convenience of having a car (even if it is a beat up 14 year old one). I cherish the protection of my house. I like being able to eat meat when I want to, and to be able to serve a variety of organic foods. I like being able to offer wine to my friends and I like being able to buy new sheets for my bed every few years. Most importantly, I like being able to give Max a chance to do the things he loves–like playing hockey and swimming and camping in the woods. I can’t imagine living without health insurance. And these things, alas, they do require money. And I am afraid, deeply afraid that if I make this switch all this is going to blow up, the fragile balance I created will turn upside down and we will end up homeless or hungry.
When I first became aware of my desire to do healing work, years and years ago, I told myself I needed to wait until I could get ahead, until I could save something–someday. When Juan left me, and my finances took a tumble I told myself I needed to wait until I found a partner to provide a safety net. All of this waiting was born of fear–and my attempts to hold her at bay.
But after years of waiting for circumstances to change, it is clear to me that they won’t. As much as I would like a plan that will allow me to put fear aside, I can’t run away from fear. I am going to need to stand in her. And the only way to do it is to embrace her other side–strength. But I don’t know how to be THAT strong. I don’t know how to be fearless. I never have been.
When I was reflecting on this to Bonnie, my very wise friend she said to me, “Its not about completely dispelling fear for strength…its about moving the line–and you my friend only need to move it a little.” I didn’t know what she meant.
“When you were small,” she told me, “you were like 80% scared and 20% strong and so most of the time that fear stopped you. As you grew up, went to college, as you became a mom, as you lived through your divorce you transformed your fear to strength because you had to. It was the gift of your journey. You moved the line from 80% scared to 60% scared to 52% scared. That’s where you are right now–you are 52% scared and 48% strong. Problem is that 4% differential might just stop you now. That would be the greatest tragedy. So instead you just need to move the line. Not much just a little bit.”
At that moment it hit me. I don’t need to be fearless to do this. I don’t need to be bold beyond measure. I just need to be 52% strong.
I think sometimes when we look from the outside we see women who have moved mountains and assumed that they were fearless. I think, I am beginning to see, that most of them may have been 52% strong when they got going. They had just enough strength to not let the fear paralyze them And that was all they needed.
There have been some big changes in our life lately. The biggest came at my paid work a couple of weeks ago. It was the kind of change that calls everything into question and frees me up for new possibilities. It was the kind of change that open windows when doors get closed; the kind of change that promise new adventures if you follow the string. It is also the kind of change that can stir up all my big fears and set my security-loving gremlins all a-tremble. Everything is in a sort of limbo and its completely unclear which way it will go.
This autumn, like every autumn, I am enchanted by how nature is in transition too. Moving from the juicy goodness and abundance of late summer to the stark, bare essential-ness of winter. Leaves let go so the trees can rest. Birds fly away, frogs disappear into the mud. Oak trees lets their acorns drop with the hope that some of them will find fertile ground come spring. Letting go of everything without any promise but with every bit of faith that eventually the sun will come round again. Autumn is the exhale.
These days, as I marvel at nature’s transformation, this deep letting go, I am profoundly aware that in my own personal changes, I have no idea how it will all work out. I am letting go without any real sense of what comes next. The only thing that is inevitable is the change. And I am practicing finding peace in all the ways things are different than I thought they would be, practicing finding my center and exclaiming, “How fascinating” at every squirmy turn.
Yet, through it all I have found great comfort in the simple act of planting daffodil bulbs. Digging into the cold wet autumn ground and hiding a treasure. Its an act of faith, really, planting bulbs. It seems crazy this sticking something into the earth just before it freezes, trusting that despite the cold and ice and snow, the thieving squirrels and other hungry animals that it will ultimately spring into something lovely and green and beautiful. But I do it and I never really doubt my flower garden. I can’t say how or why it works but I believe that God and nature and Mother Earth will do their jobs and come spring my garden will be full of color. Like the trees who drop their acorns on muddy fall paths, I am trusting that if I just let go, something new will (one day) be born.
Its that kind of faith pure and simple that I need right now.
This fall, as I plant my bulbs I am adding a new practice. I am writing on tiny pieces of paper the things I am cultivating my faith around. I am wrapping each tiny piece of paper around a bulb and blessing it before I pile the dirt back into the hole. Every day for as little as 5 minutes a day, sometimes as long as an hour, I am digging, praying silently. I am, quite literally, asking Mother Earth to hold onto my dreams, my needs, my deepest wishes.
Here are just a few of the things I am holding the space for, opening up to, trusting in:
That there always will be enough and we will not want.
That an open path to the next phase of my life will appear.
That I will have the resources to support us and to do the work I am dreaming of
That the cat will stop peeing in the house and my house will smell good every day when I walk in.
That allies and friends will show up when I need them.
That life will slow down.
That Max knows how much I love him and that he always feel cherished
That abundance and goodness will find us and that there will be more than enough to share.
That creativity will guide me and I will grow into the healer I am becoming
That I will know what to do at the moment I need to do it
As the days get darker we need to trust more and more. These practices, which feel so ancient to me give me strength. I have a bag of daffodils and I want to share. Leave a comment here or drop me a line at meg (at) megcasey (dot) com and whisper what you are offering up to faith these days. I promise that between now and Thanksgiving, I will plant you a bulb with your wish/hope/statement of faith in my garden where it will rest all winter before it blooms into magic I promise will be just for you.
I am opening a space here in my heart, in my house, in my life. I am opening up a wide open space for miracles. I am feeling a huge shift, as though everything is about to change and I am trusting that all will be well…all will be well and all manner of things will be well.
Things are blowing up, unlocking and transforming all around me. It started this summer when someone I love got really really sick. It was then when I was faced with how quickly change happens. One minute we are lounging by the pool and the next minute we are sitting on the side of the road, with our arms wrapped around our knees in tears. In the space of 5 minutes everything changes.
And then in small and big ways the “way things have always been” started to get unglued. Everything started to unravel. In every corner of my life I am being asked to let go of something. And I am simply trusting, after all that I have learned, that this letting go is simply to create the space for something to be born. I don’t know what that something is yet. I can’t even begin to imagine and so instead, I light my candles, go about my work and leave the door open for miracles.
The other night I made chocolate chip cookies and poured tea and cuddled my boy while I climbed in bed and talked in whispers with some of my dear ones huddled in their hotel rooms. We talked until I was so tired I no longer made sense, long after everything that needed to be said had been said. Its this kind of self care and kindness and compassion that is necessary in times like these. Tonight I practiced music I love to play, watched old music videos from the 80s and then curled up on the couch and listened to my friend play guitar while the kitten nestled herself into my lap. These are the things we can do to simply be, to squeeze the pleasure and beauty out of a day some would call awful. This is how I open to miracles.
Last night at midnight I slipped outside into the sharp autumn and sat down on the cold slate pathway in front of my house. And I breathed. Counted my breaths, one, two, three, four all the way to ten and back again.
And now, I am listening to the rain. That soothing, melodic rain. Its like a lullaby and I am half asleep already. Comforted in the arms of some invisible angel who whispers to me in time to the rain, “all will be well….all will be well…”
I have no idea how this will turn out–these sudden crazy shifts. It could simply be we are experiencing earthquakes but after the shakes it will look pretty much the same around here. Or it could be that new mountains will be born. Either way, the world will keep spinning and I will be wiser.
Yes I am holding out for miracles: little miracles and big ones too. Miracles that will set the world spinning in the most delicious and unlikely of ways. Miracles that will heal and miracles that will inspire and miracles that will reorganize and miracles that will hold me.
I like to think of myself as a glass half full, optimistic kind of girl. And in many ways that’s right.
But every now and again, I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror and realize how I easily I can get stuck in the “no” position. Perhaps it is because life can sometimes get complicated and whatever is in front of me starts to feel impossible and undoable. It’s easy to get tired in that place and start to think that we are in a survival mode. Suddenly I start to look at everything through that lens. Like a deer caught in the headlights or a warrior fending off an attack, I start to put up a shield, trying to limit, control, keep the chaos to a minimum.
When I am in that space, the answer to most questions suddenly becomes no.
Are you coming north for a visit? (no–can’t afford it)
Are you coming over tonight? (no–I am too tired)
Can we go to the pool? (no–I have chores to do)
Can I have an Italian ice? (no–because I said so)
There are lots of good reasons to say no. Personal safety. Health. Exhaustion. A need for some quiet time. A need to set boundaries. No is a perfectly good answer to lots of questions, especially when it is well thought through. The problem is that I can sometimes, without thinking, start to wield “no” like a shield–an attempt to block out life until I can get a grip. No becomes the default position out of fear. No can be an excuse not to move forward, to embark on adventure or connect in a new way.
And then I wonder why I can sometimes find myself feeling stuck.
Over and over I have learned that the way I create magic in my life is when I thoughtfully and deliberately, open up and say yes. Say yes to impossible things. Say yes to thinks that make no sense but just seem right. Open our heart, open the door, open the house and say welcome–come in, yes, please, do. The best decisions in my life miraculous did not start with an anguished debate but rather unfolded from a simple yes. Without fail, over and over again I learn that simply switching from a no to a yes frame of mind is a key that unlocks a world of magic. Sometimes the best way to shift your entire outlook, your entire heart, your entire mood is to simply say yes.
Especially when the question is something like this:
“Mama…I love her so much. Can we please take her home?”
Saying yes changes everything.
It gives someone hope. It creates the space for love. It opens the doors to miracles.
Welcome Tabitha Tessa Casey-Bolanos. Many adventures await you and your boy.
I am at a place in my journey that requires a tremendous amount a patience.
For two years I have been dealing with a an absurd and scary financial problem. This was not a problem that I created (I have plenty of those too) but one which arose from my ex-husband and his inability to deal with things that were his responsibility when he left. One which arose from his deciding he didn’t need me. One that arose when he stopped doing what I had faithfully done for him, year after year. Its a problem that would push my buttons in the best of circumstances. But that fact that it has become mine costs me. It costs me dearly.
Most days it just floats about, an annoying ghost that hangs over my left shoulder, but on some days it knocks me to the floor and leaves me feeling powerless. This is not an insurmountable problem but solving it has not been simple. In fact, solving it myself requires energy (and resources) I simply don’t have and every baby step I have had to take has left me drained and completely laid out flat. I have been at his mercy and each time he doesn’t do what he needs to do, I find myself abandoned yet again, reliving the sorrow and the loss that happened when we split. It has required me to dig deep on the side of faith. It has required me to threaten things I never imagined having the threaten. It has left me shaken in the part of my heart that is about being held, nurtured and care for–about my personal sense of safety. It has left me wrung out.
The specifics are not important. The problem will resolve itself one way or another I am sure. The fact though is that at the end of the day, when its all taken care of, I will have paid dearly, at the very least with a piece of my soul. The waiting for the someday when it will no longer be a problem is killing me.
Some days I feel like a total whiner. On the scale of all the problems faced by mothers in the world, this problem seems small. I can afford to feed my child and keep him warm. I am able to keep him safe from war and criminal elements. We have our health, our intelligence and each other.
Other days though I feel so completely alone and overwhelmed. On the scale of all the problems faced by mothers in my community, a mecca of mini-vans and juice boxes and college savings plans, this one seems unbelievably huge. And so out of my control. It can leave me feeling like I don’t belong. And stuck. And left behind.
Sometimes I feel as though for the last 2 years I have been parked at a crossroads on my path, waiting for a parade of milling sheep to go by. They just keep coming, those sheep, with my ex-husband’s financial issues tied onto them like saddle bags. And I am waiting.
I ask myself what is there to be learned from this situation. It can’t be that I need to learn to work harder. I have worked myself practically to death. It can’t be that I need to learn to be smarter. I have stretched my brain as far as it will go. And the only thing I can possibly belive is this: patience.
Patience is a hard one for me. Not the kind of patience that requires loving attention, like the patience we have for our children.
I am talking about the kind that simply is willing to wait, to take baby steps, to do things in such tiny doses that they feel like they carry you nowhere. I am a big change kind of girl–I like to see results. When I make a decision I move, boldly, no waiting around. I measure the actions I take against what I have earned and make corrections along the way. To be so way-laid and trapped by the actions of another is excrutiating. And really, more than anything, that is what brings me grief in all this. That while this problem remains unsolved, my life seems stuck and despite my best efforts I can’t unstick it.
If I am honest, I will admit that my inability to be patient is sucking the happiness out of me. There I said it. I don’t know what realization is scarier: that it is my own inability to be patient that is causing me despair, or that it really is sucking the joy out of my life. Either way its a no-win situation.
And so I think it is time for me to learn to just sit. If you asked me even one day ago what I was hoping for my birthday I would tell you that what I most wanted was movement. But the truth is, movement will only get me a little farther up the road. What I really need is to learn to be happy in stillness, no matter what life brings. I do a lot of talk about meditation and pull it out when crises hit but as a daily practice it is nowhere to be seen. Thats why for my birthday I will be going here, to sit for the day, to take a plunge into patience, to learn again (and again) how to just sit.
Yesterday I was rear-ended. I was on my way from taking Max to hockey camp, on my way into work. A little bit ahead of schedule but still later than I liked. I drove the route that I thought would involve the least amount of traffic, the one that would be me there the quickest. I was ready to turn onto the road that would carry me in the direction of work. I was stopped, waiting for the cars to pass me when it happened.
I was jolted, a bit addled, not entirely sure what had happened, momentarily confused. I sat for a moment that felt like a lifetime before getting out of my car. I checked my bumper I wandered back to my car. I sat down. Still in a fog, not entirely sure what to do.
The stranger who hit me got out of her car and came running. “I am so sorry” she said. “Are you OK?” I swallowed my initial instinct to wave her off with assurances that I was fine. I wasn’t entirely. “I am a bit wigged out” I admitted. She was near tears. And pregnant. “Me too” she said and I noticed how frail she looked, how shocked and sad . We moved our cars out of the intersection and into a church parking lot.
When I stepped out of my car, that second time, as my head and heart cleared I knew the only response to this situation was gentle kindness. She was OK. I was OK. We were both scared, both shaken. We both needed nothing but understanding. The only response was to wrap my arms around this stranger, hug her hard and tell her it was all OK, that all would be well. To soothe and be soothed.
We fumbled for our information, talked about her baby to be born, begged each other to go to a doctor. We hugged some more and talked about how pregnancy will make you cry. We consoled one another and spoke our gratitude for being OK. There was no accusations about sudden stops or not paying attention. There was no defensiveness. We both instinctively knew that it would help neither of us to rehash what had happened with a goal of assigning blame. The accident was over. Now there were just two people in a messy moment, with each other on the side of the road, in a moment of confusion and fear, in full realization that kindness is the only thing that would fix the situation.
Later in the day we called each other’s cell phones. “What did the doctor say?” we asked. “How are you feeling?” We were happy to learn that all was well, continued to speak words of kindness and empathy. I hung up feeling warmed and cared for and not at all hit.
How often do we bump into people, only to inflate like puffer fish, spiky and defensive, fearfully protecting ourselves from the wrath that might come in response to our mistake? How often are we bumped into and lash out–out of fear, out of hurt? How is violence simply an outgrowth of that–our hurt, our fear, our need to protect ourselves, spiraling out of control?
What would happen if we instead shifted out of defensiveness and into kindness, even when we are slammed from behind unexpectedly. Even when we make a mistake that could cost us? What if we forgot all our fears at the moment and just breathed out kindness. What miracles could occur? I can’t stop thinking about how our world might be different.
As I stood on the side of the road with my arms around a stranger I thought how lucky I was to be given the gift of connection that day. Here was a beautiful human being, vulnerable and rushed and a mama just like me. We might never have met, might never have realized that the person driving behind me on that busy road was so kind. I might never have been tapped on the shoulder to be reminded how kindness changes everything.
Every connection starts with a bump, some harder than others. Human connection starts with a touch–how we chose to react will determine whether we destroy or care for one another, will determine the fate of our tribe.
Its an important lesson to learn.