Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Love is...love

One major piece of wisdom I am taking from 2013 is about love. This is probably the most important lesson of (my) life, really. I'm not being hyperbolic.

There is only one type of love.

We label love as platonic, romantic, familiar, parental, etc. but it's all just love. Love isn't any different if it is between a mother and son or lifelong friends. It's no different between brothers as it is between lovers. Not really. 

What does "love" really mean? To hold another's well-being as the same as your own. To help that person be happy, healthy and fulfilled. To want to share the best of you with that person. To help ease the other's burdens. To listen, see, and know the other. Or at least do your damnedest to see, hear and know the other.

So in life we have loves who leave us, die, move away, fall out of touch, disappear. But does the love go away? I've been thinking about these lines from Arcade Fire's song "Afterlife": 

Oh when love is gone
Where does it go?
And where do we go?

In those times of transition, when things change or fall apart, that's when love is tested. That's when we see if what we called love was not just something easier, less than. Real love is hard. It's not easy or cheap or something that just disappears with a harsh word or a forgotten promise. Real love lives even after we die or our relationships change. Real love is forever.

We may call it something else, but love lives on. We may try to numb it, squash it or hide it. But if it was ever really there; it will persist. It will change. It will take a different form, but be made of the same essence. 

So if I love you today, I will always love you. If I loved you before, I still do. And if we someday happen to grow love between us, well that will be here long after we are not. 

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Lessons learned through wisdom practiced

In the last couple of weeks I have learned (re-learned) valuable lessons. I'm not sharing them here because I think I am the first human to come to these realizations (haha!), but because you may need the reminder or to hear the message for the first time. It may light something within you that has dimmed. It just might. If you let it.

Live openly. Speak your truth. Open your heart. Listen, be present to others. But most importantly, be present for yourself. In those moments of stillness and mindfulness your true voice will sound. She never leads you wrong. She will tell you to do terrifying things, risking your ego and heart to ten thousand slights and injuries. Listen to Her. She knows the way to happiness. 

Gratitude is the key to happiness. You can turn almost any situation around with the eye of gratefulness. 

Feeling your feelings is necessary. You can only numb yourself for so long. And when those feelings come, it won't be pleasant, but it is necessary. Feel the hell out of those feelings and then they will transform into something else. Heartbreak can turn into gratitude. Fear can turn into courage. Sorrow can turn into joy. Anger can turn into forgiveness. But not until you have those dark nights of the soul. You really can't avoid the messy bits if you want a fulfilling life. Sorry, pal. I've tried. It doesn't work.

So there's a little peek into where my mind and heart have been recently. What have you and your mind and heart been up to? Do you have lessons you'd like to share?

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Vulnerability ain't for sissies

Vulnerability is everywhere in my little world. Everybody is talking about it. Brene Brown is all over the place in my facebook feed. So, hey Universe! I get it! I'm paying attention.

Vulnerability is terrifying. It's uncomfortable. It makes me want to hide. And yet, I crave it, dare myself to bare myself. Just look at things I write about here. Some of these posts took all the courage I have to hit publish. Others were tear-soaked and sweat-stained (virtually). Vulnerability, being open to connection, being honest, true self-expression - this is super-human stuff. Our egos hate vulnerability, will do anything to stop it. Egos tell us that no one will like us if they know the truth. Egos like to keep us in our little box, our safe little box. Our safe little lonely box.

But I want to add something to this conversation about the power of vulnerability. I think the power to turn off, to protect, to tell someone to "fuck off" is equally valuable. Some times people are assholes. Some people don't deserve our authentic selves. Some people are too locked in their own boxes to connect with us, not matter how open and vulnerable we are.

Don't waste your time or your precious energy on those people. Sure give them the chance to see you are the real deal, but if they don't respond in kind, even to make the attempt to connect in a real way - move on. See you later, man! 

Life is too short and you are too precious to waste your gorgeous self on someone who can't even see you, let alone honor and respect you. This goes for everybody, not just significant others. Don't let their inability to see you and honor you shut you down.

Shine on you crazy diamond.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Mothers' issues are feminist issues

I had this post in draft for a few weeks before deciding to clean it up a bit and publish it. I realized that I didn't need to write everything I ever wanted to say about motherhood and feminism, the exclusion of many women from our motherhood and feminism discussions/causes, and all the other related issues. I could just start the conversation. And then when I went to look at #SolidarityIsForWhiteWomen to see the latest tweets, I stumbled upon this and my inner voice shouted YES! Although not specifically about motherhood, that open letter identifies (way better than I could) the problem with so many (most) white feminists: failure to check our privilege or even acknowledge it. We have to stop that shit!

Why don't feminists talk more about mothers' issues? Yes, we talk about paid sick leave and family leave, but do we talk about pregnancy, birth, and breastfeeding? What about daycare and public education?We sure talk a lot about birth control, sex and abortion. But we really don't talk about all the stuff that happens once we have a baby. Where is the choice debate around birth and feeding? We talk about the choice of working or not (for those who have the luxury of choice). We don't talk much about how our socio-economic status influences our options and choices about how we birth and care for our babies. I think we should.

#solidarityisforwhitewomen pained me, not only in the sharp criticism, but because I realized that so often there's only one conversation in feminism (mainstream, anyway) and it's really about women like me: white, middle-aged, educated, relatively affluent and empowered. If we talk about women of lower socio-economic status or women of color, it is often condescendingly, or in passing.

And when I say "we" I mean my feminist friends, the regular people. I also mean the mainstream feminist organizations and media that often focus on whatever way we are all "leaning" that week or how much we get paid while we lean. Let's be honest, we suck. We are not inclusive of our sisters of color, or our sisters with limited financial resources or social capitol. We basically ignore them. Or silently judge them for not being like us. Or not so silently.

So I say, mothers unite! If we acknowledged our common and shared struggles we could actually get to the real work of feminism -- changing the fucking world for everybody! Not just privileged white ladies or people of a certain class or your kids or their kids -- EVERYBODY!

But how do we go about getting all together? What will be our priority issues? What are the solutions? I have ideas. What are yours?

Moms Rising is one organization that is working on many of the issues that concern mothers: healthy food, health care for all, paid sick leave, fair wages, etc. But as of yet, not focusing on pregnancy, birth and feeding of our babies. But I bet we could change that.

What other organizations do you know working on behalf of ALL mothers? Or are otherwise working to bring the many voices and experiences of mothers and women together for the common good. And to slay the Patriarchy.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Vacation, all I ever wanted

I'm spending the week in the Outer Banks with my kids, parents, and brother in the same beach house we have rented two previous times. I suppose it is our tradition now. Like most traditions, it has just happened a couple times and now we just go with it. Every other year we spend a week in this house: the Lord of the Sea.

But here's something you parents all probably know and the child-free might not: vacation with little kids is just like every other day just with more sand, sugar and sunblock. You just change locations, the work load is mostly the same. Grandparents take up some slack with outings and help with baths. But really parents keep parenting. At least I get cool ocean breezes and a good excuse ("it's vacation!") to drink beer in the middle of the afternoon.

This vacation is also weird/hard/weird because the boys are here without their dad. I'm sleeping in the same room in which my youngest was conceived. And everywhere I remember the time we did X, and I feel the happiness for just a moment before the slap of "that's not ever going to happen again" stings me. And I watch the boys frolic and take risks in the ocean, and I just want to turn and look at their dad and say, " Will you get a load of that?!" But all I can do is take a few photos, maybe try to record a video or two. And feel guilty.

I feel guilty that I'm here on super family vacation and their dad isn't here to build sand castles, fly the kite (which I forgot at home anyway), carry them into the waves, and just do dad stuff with them. 

And I know someday the boys will be off with their dad having the best time ever and I'll be sitting home or at the office wishing I could be there with them. This is part of the package deal of separation and co-parenting. And it sucks. 

And yet, I love that we are all here together playing cards, telling old stories, laughing as the waves pound us and knock us to our knees. It's the best thing ever. Better than I could ask for, even in its imperfection, melancholy, and sense that something important is missing. 

So we have two more days and I'm going to try to keep my head in the here and now. See my beautiful boys as they are, hear them laugh, watch them grow right before my eyes. I'll take a few pictures. But mostly I'm going to try to capture in my heart all that happens that is so special and unique and of the "now". 

We will never be here again.