Tag: ruminations (Page 2 of 10)

Of Martyrs and Moochers


I’m over at Bridget Pilloud’s place today, pondering prosperity and wondering why it is that you can’t loan family money or help in other way, for that matter. I mean, really. Just seems to me that with all the people in need, I’d prefer to help my family first. But is that possible? And when does helping turn the corner and become something else, something decidedly and glaringly NOT helpful?

It’s easy enough for me to wag a finger and answer these questions from what THEY ought to do or what they ought not to do, but this time I stood in front of the mirror and looked in my own eyes when I asked some hard questions.

Maybe you’d like to drop by and say hey? I’ll leave the light on.

What’ll Ya Have: Knee Jerk Reactions or Thoughtfully-Made Responses?

What happened in Aurora, Colorado last night is atrocious, infuriating, scary as hell, and I know it brings up all sorts of things in each one of us. My son, for example, has friends who were at that very theater earlier last night to see a different movie. They left the movie, walking past the lines of customers in costumes waiting to enter. Whether we know anybody that closely involved or not, there’s the stone cold it-could-have-been-us-or-someone-we-love realization that takes shape in a host of ways. Some of us will immediately think of how we want guns outlawed, others how we want the government to keep its hands off our weapons. Some will look to the government to initiate security measures to protect moviegoers everywhere, others will dread that further intrusion into our lives. Some will cry for the shooter to be brought swiftly to justice, others will send prayers for him and his family. Some will sit down in stunned silence and try to take it all in, others will head straight to the keyboard to post their ire and promote their causes. Some of us will feel all these things.

Questions will be raised, answers will be sought. Fists will be waved, hugs will be given. There’s no doubt about that – and those questions, those conversations, those hugs might ultimately be the long-term value we glean from such an atrocious act.

There’s a difference between being an opportunist and being an activist, I’m thinking, a fine line of difference with big implications. Instead of feeding on the frenzy we are reading and hearing, could we listen to news reports with a grain of salt and remember that they are getting information from a variety of sources and that they make money by capturing our attention? Instead of using this distressing-beyond-description event as a platform to gain votes or support for our causes, could we show respect by focusing on the personal loss sustained last night? Instead of thumping our chests, could we light a candle in remembrance of those who lost their lives, in support of those who were injured, in support of the families and friends involved? Instead of waving our placards in hopes of media coverage, could we say a prayer for those who were injured and the medical staff treating them?

The causes will be there months from now, but the people could sure use our heartfelt attention right now.

Maybe you don’t live close enough to commit a tangible act of support that directly benefits those involved, but good energy has far-reaching effects. Maybe you could take a meal to someone living near you who is tired from trekking back and forth to cancer treatments. Maybe you could find a nearby blood drive and make a donation. Maybe you could honor a pet who lost someone special last night by adopting a pet at a local shelter or making a financial donation. Maybe you could brush your teeth and hair and go share a glass of sweet tea on the front porch with neighbors you always say you wish you saw more often.

This is a heinous act for which adequate adjectives have not been invented. Let’s let it fuel us, but let’s not let it divide us. Let’s let it change us, but let’s not let it hold us hostage. Let’s let it motivate us to get creative in finding ways to show we care. Let’s let it encourage us to pay more attention to those around us. Let’s let it make us determined to create a world we want to live in, a world where we and those we love can continue to wander out in search of entertainment and enjoyment without fear.



My mother prides herself on her ironing prowess and that just tickles me. Not tickles me as in poking fun, but tickles me as in I find it touching.

I remember grandmother washing clothes in that pink and white washing machine, running them through the wringer a time or two to get out the excess water, then hanging them on the line to dry. There’s nothing that smells as good to me as sheets dried in sunshine. She put granddaddy’s khaki pants on stretcher bar contraptions, but they still needed ironing, so she’d bring them in, sprinkle them with water, roll them up, and put them in the back of the refrigerator to wait till she had time to press them.

Sometimes I think I got this feminist thing all mixed-up. At least parts of it. Maybe it was nice when there was a division of duties, of chores, of responsibilities. When the woman took care of everything inside and just outside the walls of the house while the man took care of everything beyond that. Maybe it was easier somehow when she didn’t feel the need to assume responsibility for every single thing.

Maybe i’m kidding myself.

The women in my family – my mother and her mother – took pride in the cooking and ironing and sewing they did, in the flowers they planted from seeds and cuttings swapped with friends, in the tables they set and the music they made. Maybe – and this may be the most important maybe of all – maybe it was enough that they felt that pride themselves, that they didn’t look outside and want, expect, demand others take pride in their accomplishments and declare them worthy. Self-satisfaction. Maybe that was plenty.

I’m doing this project, recreating in stitch some 167 drawings made by my developmentally disabled sister-in-law, Nancy. The cloth was puckering up a little bit, so a friend suggested I lightly starch the fabric – which I did yesterday, and it has made a world of difference in the way the cloth looks fresher, prouder. Got me remembering, too.

Ironing’ll do that.

Let’s Talk Eyeball to Eyeball, part 1


Now listen, let’s cut right to the chase: difficult people are one thing, stupid people are one thing, but abusive, controlling, manipulative people are quite another, and you need only stay in relationship with them long enough to be able to get out safely.


You deserve better.


You’ve heard the old saying “You made your bed and now you have to lay in it?”

Forget it. Forget you ever heard it. Erase it. Obliterate it.

Think you have to be miserable and in danger because you are obligated to live with the consequences of your choices?


Sometimes you can get so settled in a relationship, so comfortable with its predictable dynamics that you can’t see it clearly. You get lost in the familiarity, losing sight of the harm that’s being perpetrated on you and your partner. (But I don’t care about your partner right now, I care about YOU.)

Let’s be real clear about this:

Healthy love doesn’t manipulate, control, isolate, or harm another. Healthy love doesn’t issue ultimatums or demand you buy them things in return for their affection. Healthy love can’t be bought or sold. Healthy love doesn’t isolate you from friends sand family. Healthy love doesn’t pummel you incessantly with junky words designed to keep you down and them up. Healthy love doesn’t want you to be a slave or a doormat or a punching bag.

People, listen to me.

Healthy love wants you to shine. Healthy love brings out the best in you and the best in them. Healthy love makes you walk differently, with the grace of someone who is cherished and supported and loved through and through.

If your partner professes to be jealous of your friends, envious of the attention you give your family, if your partner demands that you forsake your friends and family spending time only with their friends and family, do not confuse this for love. This is not jealousy and this is not ardent love, my friends, this is controlling, isolating behavior, a tool in the abuser’s arsenal. Bullies are sniveling cowards, really. Knowing that other people just might see them more clearly than you, well, they want none of that.

Recognize it for the controlling, manipulative, isolating behavior it is.

If your partner tells you lies about your family and lies about your friends, see this for what it is: deceit. an erosion of trust. And really, if you don’t have trust as the foundation of a relationship, what kind of relationship do you have? Said another way, without trust, do you really have a relationship?

Trust is everything.

If your partner gets what they want by plying you with affection or pitching hissy fits and allowing you to makeup with them by buying them what they want, taking them where they want to go, doing for them what they wanted you to do in the first place, see this for what it is: immaturity and manipulation.

You are not a game piece they move to win the game.

If you earn money and your partner demands that you turn it over to them then refuses to share it with you – say it with me: this is controlling behavior and is not to be tolerated. I don’t care how you feel about capitalism, you need to have your own money.


If, after pitching a hissy fit, your partner says anything akin to “If you hadn’t done or said so-and-so, I wouldn’t have had to get mad, hit you, pitch such a fit (insert your behavior of choice),” see this for what it is: shifting the blame and trying to make you responsible for their unacceptable behavior. Unacceptable.

If your partner does any or all of these things, see it for what it is: thuggish, bullying behavior – abuse. Abuse doesn’t just mean physical contact, people. Abuse can leave bruises that are never visible to the naked eye. Bruises that can be healed, though it might take a few eons or so.

If your partner scares you,
If your partner tries in any way to make and keep you small,
If your partner blames you for their bad behavior
Exit the relationship.
This is not a healthy relationship, and this is not healthy love.

You never did anything to deserve this. Ever. You may not be able to see it right now under all the years of words and deeds to the contrary, but you ARE worthy and you ARE lovable and you DESERVE to be with someone who cherishes you.

If you’re in an abusive relationship, you can’t be stupid about your leaving. You have to be safe and consider the safety of yourself and your family, but that doesn’t lock you into staying in an unhealthy relationship for the rest of your life. Shake your body like a dog fresh out of the bathtub. Do it again. And one more time. Scream YES as loud as you can (even if it has to be on the inside). Now square your shoulders, exhale, and start planning. I know it’s not as easy as me writing these words. Of course it isn’t. Your exit might be quick and easy or it might be a long, arduous journey. Either way, you will get tired – changing the way you see yourself is invigorating, trying, challenging, exhausting, and liberating. It takes practice to see yourself in a new way, it takes patience to let your bones convince yourself that you are worthy. But it’s doable. And we are here cheering you on. We want you to succeed. We want you to see yourself the way we see you. The world needs you to live into your own bigness, and you cannot do that while under the thumb and under the control of a monster.

seeing spots



sometimes death comes
at the hand of
natural causes,
sometimes death comes
at the hand of
freak accidents,
sometimes death comes
at the hand of
man and woman’s inhumanity
to man and woman.

it’s hard
there’s no doubt about that,
but if you can pause,
take a deep breath,
and look death
right square in the eye,
if you can hold yourself steady
and gaze at it long and hard
from a place of curiosity
and wonder,
if you can stay
instead of running away
at the first possible moment,
every now and then,
you see spots of beauty.


looking for that bridge over troubled water


be a good girl.
think about others first.
don’t be selfish
or stuck up
or conceited.
play nice.
wait your turn.

it’s your turn now.
go for it.
who cares what other people think?
if it pleases you, that’s enough.

i’m so confused. i’m so damn confused.

write the book you want to read.
comes a time when you have to consider your readers.

so which is it?

if i do something just because i enjoy it, that’s okay, right? well, what if i want somebody else to like it, too?
what if i want somebody else to value my work, my creativity, my contribution?

back in the days when i was trekking around speaking professionally, some high falutin’ fella made money hand over fist by saying something like you can accomplish anything – anything at all – as long as you don’t mind who gets the credit. to which i always thought: bullshit. i mean maybe that’s true on paper, but if i do the work, make the effort, create something that didn’t exist before, by golly i want credit for it.

then somebody throws “ego” into the mix and scolds me for having one.

they remind me that i’m supposed to look the other way, turn the other cheek and all that but hey, let me tell you something: according to my cousin who is Somebody Who Should Know, to turn the other cheek was actually a call to civil disobedience back in the day. it wasn’t rising above and refusing to wallow with pigs knowing that you’d both get dirty, it wasn’t letting yourself be a doormat or a booster seat for somebody else, it was a means of entrapment.

maybe it’s supposed to be enough that i value my own contributions, but maybe that doesn’t always play out in real life. maybe that’s why i’m so angry lately when i get to stewing about aging and leaving a legacy and not having one to leave on account of i’m supposed to be downright giddy with happiness that somebody else took the credit for something i did or said pffffft to something i created or overlooked me cause let’s face it, unless it says something real cute, how many people actually look at the doormat anyway?

whoever said aging isn’t for sissies
sure knew what she was talking about.

her path


when a friend
told her it was
practiced by
a foreign
she dropped
out of the
meditation class,
her registration fee
on account of
such short notice,
even though she’d
signed up for it
because it
sounded like something
she could do to
relax and
fall asleep easier
since the lavender-scented eye mask
and the hot milk
and the bubble bath
didn’t work
and the sheep
kept running around
the room,
hiding under the bed,
and jumping out the window,
to be counted.

and when she
learned that
the little bronze-ish
statue she liked
so much when she
first laid eyes on it
so many years ago
is actually
a buddha,
she gave it away
for fear she’d
been inadvertently worshipping
a false god
all these years.

scoff if you will,
chuckle if you can’t stop yourself,
but me?
i admire
her unwavering conviction,
her abiding allegiance,
her deep faith,
her commitment
to live what she

More about 365 Altars



In the past, I’ve skirted around grieving, sashayed away prematurely (though outwardly nobly) because I didn’t want to endure the muck and messiness, the tenacious, persistent roller coaster of emotions. I am a planner by nature, and to not know how I would feel from one moment to the next was just not something I could bear gracefully. At least I didn’t think so. Plus I didn’t want to burden others who prefer to be around a funny, lighthearted me.

Grief unattended is a tar baby, a sticky gooey mess of emotional debris.

In the short tenure of my dedication to see my 2012 words – stay and surprise – made flesh, I’ve been treated to all sorts of inexplicable, delightful happenstances. Or, as Quakers say, “Way opens.” Like this: last night as I muddled around in my journal about grief, as I tried to stay with the tumultuous emotions without falling into the familiar patterns of pointing fingers and defending myself and all that, I happened upon an online article about Ho’oponopono. Today, despite several hours worth of trying, I can’t find that link anywhere. Did it come from a friend’s Facebook posting? Did I stumble upon it? Why doesn’t it show up in my history?

I am perplexed.

And intrigued.

I google, and though I can’t find that particular article, I learn that Ho’oponopono is where we take responsibility for and clean with anything we perceive to be a problem. It’s the ultimate emptying, done with gratitude, openness, willingness. It’s a way to clear the tar baby of all old dramas, resentments, agonies such as things I wish I’d said. The theory is that it’s only from this point – called the zero point – that there’s room for new to enter . . . new ideas, new ways, new inspiration. It’s a way of accepting responsibility, expressing gratitude, letting go, making way by holding the emotion/situation/person/whatever and saying four things with utmost sincerity:

I love you.
I’m sorry.
Please forgive me.
Thank you.

Though being fluent only in English and Southern I know I’ll never be able to pronounce it, Ho’oponopono seems just the ticket now: a process resulting in detachment from the junk of the past, in clarity, in freedom. Things I seek. And so today I begin to create a new way of being, even if my tongue trips and tangles in the process.

More about 365 Altars



When we moved last spring, we dumped a lot of stuff on our daughter – things she could probably use, most of it good stuff, but still it was enough stuff to fill her garage, leaving her to park outside. Today we waded through the boxes and bags, tossing, giving, putting up.

Funny how good it makes my daughter and me feel to bring order to the physical chaos that surrounds us . . . now. Up until today, she has scoffed and called me anal. Up until today, I have made unilateral decisions about what stays and what goes, telling myself it was in the name of expediency.

Just at 5 p.m., while my smile remained strong but my energy waned, I looked up to see the sun setting. And just like that I thought of Naples, Florida where people applaud each sunset, dazzling or no. And I thought of Retreat – of the bugle that played every evening at 5 or 6 p.m. (depending on the season), of how everything and everyone came to a halt and stood in silence as the flag was lowered and the cannon fired. And though I am not on a beach and no longer on a military college campus, I stopped, snapped a couple of photographs, and in my own way, saluted the changing of the guard, sun to moon.

It was a good day, a good start. We cleared many layers of junk. We cleared more than a garage. It is a good and satisfying tired, and there is much to place on my altar today.

More about 365 Altars

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