Day 144/365 What Color is Your Veil?

I believe the energy we radiate cloaks us like a translucent veil. It impacts both how the world sees us, and how we see the world.  It casts our colors onto everything.

This is one of the reasons that depression is so hard to shake.  It colors the veil through which we see the world, and everything seems…bleak and impossible.

To make matters worse, we sometimes get down on ourselves for feeling the way we do, especially if we are generally grateful and joyful people.

We know we have it in our wardrobe somewhere – that golden veil of joy and gratitude – but it is hidden.

Sometimes we just don’t know when we will lay our hands on it again.

Only time will tell.

What I can offer for those presently viewing life through a darkened veil, is that having known the darkness allows a person to better appreciate the light

…and once you find that golden veil again, you may find that the world is more beautiful than ever before.

Day 143/365 My Mind’s Eye

We hear a lot these days about mindfulness, about being present in the moment.  I fully believe in the importance of this practice, for a couple of reasons.

One, I think our lives get so busy that we often overlook the small bits of beauty around us. It is always a good reminder to slow down and pay attention.

Two, I think by allowing ourselves to be in the moment, we are forced to accept whatever that moment may bring.  Not every moment is heavenly. Sometimes we find ourselves sitting with uncomfortable feelings as well.

Those are just as important to welcome, to notice, and to honor.

Along the lines of mindfulness, but not quite the same thing in my opinion, is the urging to enjoy the NOW – to refrain from living in the past or in the future.

That is great advice sometimes, for sure. It doesn’t serve us well to cling to the past while forsaking the present.

However….

I savor closing my eyes and fully reliving, in my mind’s eye, some of my warmest memories. I do this often when I get into bed at night.

I allow myself to time travel.

I cherish the ability to call up these moments so viscerally…by sight, and sometimes even by smell, sound and touch.

I suppose it is a testament to my having been mindful to begin with during those moments as they took place.

I soaked them up fully and saved them for a rainy day.

It’s funny, the things I call upon. They never seem to be any of the BIG moments you’d imagine they’d be. They are often the smallest things…

Watching them play in the rain, the air heavy with the scent of wet earth

My sleeping baby, with dimpled hands and milky breath

Dancing with him, while laughing and singing out loud, “I heard it through the grapevine…”

A family dinner with warmth and laughter, inside jokes

A winter’s walk in the falling snow, snowflakes catching on his eyelashes

A perfect evening on the coast of Maine

It can be a beautiful thing to live in the past…just for a moment or two, now and then.

I do also love imagining what’s ahead.

When you’ve been through things which have challenged you to your very core, you may begin to be fearful of the future (I’ve had my moments of that, trust me).

Lately, though…lately I’ve had this unwavering confidence that what lies ahead for me…

It’s beautiful…and full of moments I will one day conjure,

Eyes closed and with a grateful heart.

 

{Photo by Kim Fuller}

 

 

Day 142/365 Children Are Amazing, and Coffee is Important

A conversation at 8am…

Sitting on the porch this morning with my girls, taking in the view. I was enjoying my coffee (no, I did not give it up for my cleanse – nobody wants that, trust me). Louie, our lab, was chewing on an enormous log, as he is want to do.

Beau (age 11): If I could have a superpower, it would be extra strong teeth.

Me: What would you wish to do with extra strong teeth?

Beau: Chew logs!

(Duh)

Me: Umm, why?

Beau: Seems like fun.

Me: So, let me get this straight.  If you could choose a superpower, like…flying, being invisible, mind-reading….you would choose to have extra strong teeth?

Beau: Couldn’t I have more than one superpower? I wouldn’t want to fly, for one thing.  I love to climb, and if I could fly I’d just get lazy about my climbing.

(Obviously)

Ruby (age 8): I would choose being able to bring people back from the dead.

(Sigh)

Me: That would be pretty amazing.

Beau: You can’t do that! Their souls have already left their bodies. So you’d basically be waking up zombies. That would actually make you a villain, not a superhero.

(Clearly she’s pondered this.)

Me: Well, what if you could time travel? You could visit people who have passed away, instead of bringing them back from the dead?”

Beau: Only if it was just to be able to watch, like a movie…not actually do anything over.

Me: Would that be hard? If you went back in time, and watched yourself in a situation, and you wished you had done or said something differently.  Would that be hard to watch?  Seeing your mistakes?

Beau: No, because everything that has happened, happened for a reason.  Even the things we think are mistakes. We learn from things.

(Proud mom moment)

Beau: Like…if I broke my friend’s leg…by accident. Then she doesn’t want to be my friend anymore. So I meet a new friend who I wouldn’t have met if I still had the other friend with the broken leg. If I go back in time, and I don’t break her leg…maybe she’s still my friend and she has me hanging around some other kids who aren’t very nice…and I would never know I could have had this other great friend…

Me: So, breaking your friend’s leg, accidentally, actually kept you from falling in with the wrong crowd?

Beau: Exactly.

Me: You are very wise.

Beau: So…strong teeth, time travel just to observe, and a third arm.

Me: A third arm?

Beau: Yes. So I can lean back and relax with my two arms behind my head, and still have a free arm to pet Louie. It would come from behind me, like a tail.

Me: Ahh, a butt arm. Brilliant. You’d even be able to wave at people from behind as you walk down the street.

We all burst into hysterical laughter.


{…and this is why children are amazing….and coffee is important.}

Photo by Betty Lou Harvey

 

Day 141/365 It’s Okay If You’re Not Okay

It starts early.

Well meaning people telling us how to feel (and how not to feel).

When we are little and we take a fall, our loved ones immediately tell us, “You’re okay!!” before they even give us an opportunity to assess the situation ourselves.

Am I okay?

They seem to think so.

Maybe I don’t feel okay.

Maybe I feel scared, or hurt, or confused about what just happened…

But they said I’m okay.

I must be okay if they think so.

I guess I’m okay.

{But what if I’m not okay? Is it okay to not be okay?}


We send a confusing message when we tell a child how to feel.  Maybe we tell them not to get so angry, not to get so frustrated, not to upset people with the truth of how they feel.

Yes, we should teach our children strategies for coping with life. Yes, we should teach them that there are appropriate times and places in which to fully express their feelings.  We should teach them to be kind as well…but not at the expense of teaching them its okay to feel how they feel.

We must teach them it’s okay to feel…

ALL

THE

THINGS….

Not just the one’s that make other people feel comfortable…

Not just the one’s that feel comfortable to us.

I even do it to myself sometimes, muttering under my breath, “You’re okay” even when maybe I’m not. Not in that moment.

It’s the first thing I said to my ex when he revealed a life changing secret to me….

“It’s okay.  We will be okay.”

Is it? Are we? Is he? 

How could I know?

When I take the long view, I think…

Yes – we will be okay.

But there’s a whole lot to feel about the situation besides okay. We can’t brush those feelings aside without allowing ourselves (and each other) to feel them.

So…

When life gets hard, or when my children stumble and fall, I want them to know they have permission to assess the damages themselves.

I will let them feel.

I will listen.

I will let them decide whether or not they are okay.

They will know that whatever they’re feeling…

THAT is okay.

Day 140/365 Cleansing Myself of Happiness

Lately I have been feeling really unhealthy, physically (we shall leave the discussion of my mental illness for another time).

My dad died back in January, and at some point thereafter I did a 180 from not having any appetite, to wanting to eat pretty much anything that was not strapped down.

I’ll be honest, I felt an extreme sense of entitlement toward bread and sugar of any sort….oh, and wine.

Ah, yes…the good times we had, those three amigos and I.

Alas, I’ve realized that I have to step away from the baked goods and focus a bit on my health.

So, I decided to do a cleanse.

I put that in italics because I feel as though one needs to say that with emphasis.  As if I am highfalutin and my cleanse is very important.

I am doing the world a favor with my cleanse.

(I’m quite sure I’m not doing anyone any favors actually, because…well because I hate everyone who has the audacity to eat food).

You people with your food prep videos on Facebook.  Brutal!

A friend of mine commented that I appear to be cleansing myself of happiness.

I’m kidding. Well, she did say that, actually, but it hasn’t been that bad. The idea is to give my body a re-boot.  To break addictions to unhealthy foods, and to maybe lose a few pounds in the process.

So, I’m on day four of a 10-day liquid diet (don’t worry, it’s all safe and healthy stuff), and I tell you it has been not unlike going through the stages of grief…

Stage 1 – DenialThis won’t be that bad! I can doing anything for 10 days!

Stage 2 – Anger – Why the eff am I doing this anyway?

Stage 3 – Bargaining Just one french fry?  Please?

Stage 4 – DepressionOh God, this is the end, isn’t it? I’m languishing!

{THAT WAS DAY ONE.}

My kids have been with their dad this week, so at least I haven’t had to cook for anyone.  However, they’re coming back tomorrow and unfortunately they will probably expect to be fed…like three times a day.

Unbelievable.

So I ventured to the grocery store earlier to buy a cart full of food I’m not allowed to eat. Wandering the aisles with a crazed look on my face, muttering under my breath, “They’re gonna want Bunny Crackers, aren’t they?  Freakin’ kryptonite.”

I stopped in front of the bread, and heaved a sigh.

“You got me into this, you know,” I whispered.


Six days and only one more stage of grief to go…

Stage 5 – Acceptance – I imagine it’ll be something like…

You’ve made your bed, now you’ve got to lie in it.

(And good luck with that, since you have to pee every twenty minutes).

Pray for me.

 

 

Day 139/365 My Decorations

I was talking to a friend yesterday who said her daughter, who is five, had been talking about not caring much for a certain person’s “decorations”.  My friend didn’t quite understand what she meant until she later went to a parent-teacher conference, and her daughter’s teacher said, “She been expressing some emotions. She calls them her decorations.”

Children are constantly saying the most profound things, if only we stop and listen.

Her decorations.

It’s so true, isn’t it?

Sometimes we can’t help it, our emotions are written all over our faces, and our body language screams of how we are feeling. We wear our decorations head to toe, and it feels amazing when we are adorned with love, joy, or gratitude…

Then there are the other emotions – the ones we don’t want to acknowledge; the ones we would rather keep to ourselves. The ones we would rather not wear.

We fool ourselves into believing those decorations aren’t just as plain to see. We sometimes go to great lengths to hide them from the world.

But…

What if we were to wear all of our decorations proudly? What if we believed that being able to fully feel – or wear – them all…is a gift?

Our vast and complicated wardrobe of emotions is actually what makes us feel alive.

Look at you – your decorations are beautiful.

All of them.

Day 138/365 You Must Be A Tree

After reading my blog the other day – An Invitation – which was about compassion and acceptance around a transgender loved one (in my case, my ex-husband), a friend of mine wrote to me recounting this story –

She was at a wedding with her niece, who is five.  Her niece said to their family friend,

“Are you a girl or a boy?”

The friend replied, “Well, what do you think?”

The little girl answered, “I think you’re a boy.”

The friend replied, “Well then today I’ll be a boy.”

The little girl said, “No, I think you’re a girl.”

The friend replied, “Well then today I’ll be a girl.”

The little girl said, “If you are a boy and a girl, you must be a tree.”

(First of all I’m thinking we have a future horticulturalist here, because some trees do actually have “male” and “female” parts…in case you didn’t know that fun fact.)

She went on to explain, “Trees can see everything, so they must be boys and girls.”

So cute…and fascinating in a way.  

It got me thinking…

It starts as children, this need to label and compartmentalize things – and people. It is how we learn and process the world.

I think sometimes in our desire to be progressive or politically correct (or in some cases, in being defensive of ourselves or our loved ones), we forget that this desire to use labels can, and often does, still come from a sincere and innocent place.

It simply makes us feel more comfortable when we can define something.

In the case of my ex-husband, for example…

As a person who has lived strictly as a male (for four decades) and is now beginning to dress as a woman, his new appearance is going to draw attention. That is a fact. He has not transitioned fully (and is not sure when or if he will), so he appears to be a man, yet he’s wearing women’s clothing, shoes, accessories and make up.

This isn’t something that is going to slide in under the radar.

I don’t mean to say that my ex needs to walk down the street, shaking hands and saying, “Hi, I’m transgender. Nice to meet you.”

But for me, I found it helpful for him to provide me with that label, and to give me permission to use it to explain to others the changes they are seeing in him.

Being transgender is not the whole of who he is, but understanding that piece of him helps me to better understand him as a whole.

It is not his job to make others understand or accept him. However, for those who truly seek to understand, providing the label “transgender” allows those who may know little to nothing about what that means, begin to learn…to read, research, ask questions.

No, he is not a crossdresser.

No, it is not a costume.

No, he has not lost his mind.

Once we seek to understand this part of him, we can begin to focus on him as a human being again – and not just on what he is wearing.

Perhaps you will disagree entirely and say that no person should have to define him or herself. I understand your point of view. I am only speaking from my own limited experience of loving someone who is going through something completely foreign to me. I know I cannot begin to understand what it is like to be living in a body that I feel was given to me by mistake.

I also understand that there are some people who don’t feel as if they conform to any one label…the beautiful “trees” of the world.

Perhaps one day we will live in a world where a person’s gender and sexual identity is no matter of interest whatsoever.

We are still working on getting there, though, and I think the key to understanding one another is always communication, openness, and curiosity (of the non-judgmental variety).

The more we talk about our differences in a kind and open way, the less scary they become…and the more we are able to see our commonalities.