Recognize the other person is you and There is a way through every block!

buddahdoodlePlease note before reading…

  • I share some very personal information (at a very high level) because it is my experience and truth. It informs my perspectives on many things. Please do not pity me or ask me for details or anything else at this time. Thanks
  • This is MY experience, MY perspective filled with so much of what is in my heart and soul as I move through everyday.
  • I’m asking questions in the hope that it may lead people into seeing and learning from multiple perspectives. From a place of observation and/or neutrality.
  • I didn’t edit thoroughly….so grammar and misspellings…yeah that is a thing when you are writing in the midst of 10 other things happening. I’m intentionally posting quickly in the hopes folks will read this before voting tomorrow. Not because it will change their vote…only in the hopes that it will provide an opportunity to ponder their choices.

Last year I was so diligent about and created space in my day to write first thing every morning. This past week has taught me that my resolve or abilities aren’t quite as ferociously strong as I would prefer. I’m reflecting on the fact that I have allowed my work to, once again, rule what I prioritize. I wonder if I will ever learn. I wonder if the need to make a $ to support my people will ever be something I can release. When your entire life is about surviving and you know nothing else, how could you ever make a different choice. As I write that sentence, I hear the answer. You make a different choice simply by choosing. Then walking that path. Changing that habit, the one that has burrowed a path in your soul is difficult though. Choosing is one thing…doing is another. My father left us for another woman when I was 2. My parents were divorced when I was 4. Many court battles for custody ensued over the years that followed. My father fighting my mother for custody. I just wanted to be with my mother. My father married the anti-Christ when I was 9. My grandfather tried to molest me around the same time, I freaked, and he failed. My mother married the anti-Christ’s doppelganger when I was 12. I was raped at 13 by a family friend in South Africa. My step-grandfather tried to molest me around the age of 14. At 15 I told both of my parents I was done with them arguing through me and at 17 my mother died in my arms. My step-monster kicked me out of the house 1.5 months later and kept every possession I had in the world. My car, my clothes, my retainers for my teeth, my toothbrush. I had him arrested so I could try to get some of my things back. My mother left him everything with the agreement he would take care of ensuring I got my degree and was setup to create the rest of my life. He was a psycho fucker and that didn’t happen. My father disowned me at 19 and then I was homeless and living out of my car. I worked three jobs to make ends meet when I was 20 and I just kept making it work. At 23, when visiting South Africa, my 3 uncles talked my father into paying for my tuition so I could finish my degree. They were told I was difficult and disrespectful, then my one uncle realized I wasn’t at all what they said I was. At 24 I found out I was pregnant. I was freaked out. The gene donor told me within 15 min of hearing I was pregnant that he didn’t want me to have the baby. I finally was back in school and getting some financial support for my education. My Christian and Muslim families were not going to be pleased in any way. Thank god for my survival instinct, for my stubbornness and my tenacity. For knowing the universe would meet me in my highest good and guide me. The responses to my pregnancy were not all horrible but things like “we never expected that from you” felt devastating on so many emotional levels. The story goes on, but I won’t do it all here.

Life. Survival. Minutes. Hours. Days. Weeks. Months. Years.

They go by. They form us. We don’t even know that it is happening. We struggle, we stroll, we strive and we keep walking.

The past few weeks I’ve been trying to volunteer some time to support my chosen presidential candidate in the current election cycle. It has felt like a roller coaster ride considering the time of year. Saturday marked the 2 years since Mikaela was admitted to the ER. Those days were petrifying and filled with inexplicable emotions for us all. Something inside of me keeps pushing me, in a way I cannot ignore. Trust me, I would LOVE to ignore it and do nothing but hide away at home and write while listening to music or just binge watch TV. Yet this voice, her voice, is so loud it doesn’t quiet unless I’m doing what it is urging. What it asks of me is something that is super uncomfortable, can be very unpleasant and at times very rewarding. I always want to honor others beliefs and choices. I’ve had enough of others beliefs forced on me in this lifetime that it feels disingenuous to start forcing my beliefs on others at this juncture. So for days…well the past few weeks I have sat with this pit in my stomach. This confusion in my head. This pain in my heart. Honestly, more than anything, I am also walking with a huge fear of what the future will hold. Not for me but for my son. For his friends and their futures and the futures of their children and theirs, if they exist, beyond that. I’m clear there is no simple, promised path to get us out of this mess as a country and planet. I also don’t believe there is an either or choice that we need to make. I always try to remember that we can insert an ‘and’ because we all have choice. Choice to stand up, speak up, fight, be quiet, listen, be.

I’m blown away by the responses I have received from so many when talking about this election cycle and the candidates. The differences in opinion between people my age and older vs. the young crowd. Mind you, there are folks in both those generations that also share similar beliefs to me. It brings me to ponder the backgrounds of the people I’m talking with. What have their lives been like? What is their current financial situation? What has the world brought to their doorstep to mold their beliefs. This is why I shared what I did at the start of this story. I’m a survivor. I’ve lived paycheck to paycheck almost my entire life and I will be the first to tell you I’m blessed to make a decent living these days. I’m definitely the most ‘comfortable’ I have ever been financially, and I am deeply grateful for this. It has also been a long, hard fight and at any moment, as a consultant, this can be taken away from me and I could plunge back into the challenges of not enough to cover the basics. I don’t have savings put away and very little in my retirement plan. It wasn’t due to poor planning or some failing on my side to be frugal and not think about how to put away money. It was due to choices we made and the job and income I was able to earn. We chose for Sean to stay home vs. go out and get a job. A job would pay enough for daycare and barely much more so why wouldn’t we invest our time in our children vs. a job to pay someone else to raise our kids. We chose clean food to ensure our children’s bodies were not fed a mass amount of chemicals and processed garbage. That all costs more. We invested in their primary school education and other programs to help bring them a well rounded education and a sweet childhood that honored them in being children. We made those choices and did without many other things because those were OUR priorities for OUR people.

What am I getting at you are likely wondering?

How and why do people believe what they do? One woman, when I was making phone calls for my candidate, literally heard his name and yelled OH NO and hung up. Many door knocks and phone calls were met with “I’m not interested.” Pray tell…what are you not interested in? Then others were very kind to share their chosen candidate and if it wasn’t the one, I was calling about, I simply thanked them for voting and wished them a wonderful rest of their day. Civilized, respectful, thank you for your time. How hard was that? As I talked to the ‘big kids’ last night after our phone canvassing, I reminded them, and myself, that how we show up with kindness and decency is a reflection of ourselves and the person we are supporting. If we are to truly be our best selves, we must show up in that way regardless of who others throw our way. In life, there are people who act nobly and others who act atrociously. It doesn’t matter who you are supporting, that is human nature in my opinion. So when one candidate bashes the supporters of another candidate, as grandma always said, my dear there are still three fingers pointing back at you. It isn’t about…because you support this person…your propensity for poor behavior is higher and it is all your candidates’ fault. Seriously, the people running, besides the orange clown, are doing a job that they chose to step into. One fraught with challenges and issues due to the allowance of corporate and billionaire money being allowed to flow with abundance into our political system.

I digress. Here is what I wonder. Simple yes or no questions for you to answer for yourself.

  • Do you want the earth to survive in a way that it can continue to sustain human life?
  • Do you believe that all people in this country should have access to healthcare regardless of whether they can afford it or not? Medical needs met? Mental health? Dental health? Eyecare?
  • Do you want our children to be able to partake in higher education without coming out of school with a mountain of debt? Behind the eight ball and slave to ‘the man’ before they have even launched their lives.
  • Do you want fair wages for all?
  • Are you okay with the fact that so many people are unable to support themselves and their families even if they work 2 or 3 jobs?
  • Is it okay for large corporations to not pay taxes while they don’t even provide basic benefits for their workers. The likes of Wal-Mart and Amazon having employees that are on welfare?
  • Is it okay for non-white’s to be discriminated against for their color? Should a black or brown person have to fear for their lives in more situations than we can count? Women? LGBTQIA?
  • Are we okay with the extreme wealth disparity in this country? That there is a dwindling middle class (almost non-existent) and the number of poor keeps growing and growing?
  • Is it okay to detain immigrants in conditions that are worse than our prisons? Many of these people are here trying to escape far worse fates in their home country.
  • Is it okay for corporations to profit from the detention of human beings?
  • Is it okay for the government to tell a woman what she can and cannot do with her body?
  • Is it okay that corporations and billionaires are running our elections & our government officials?

 

So where do we go from here?

You may read this and see me as someone who is fighting you because I don’t support your candidate. I’m not fighting you. I’m choosing the person who I feel, through extensive reading and research, could do the best job of tackling these issues. The person that I see who has unwaveringly stood by the same issues year over year. When their stand has changed, they have answered the question directly vs. blocking and tackling to another answer. My gut, the one most of society tells us not to listen to, in addition to the knowledge I have gathered…that is what makes me choose this person again. Like my child and I did in 2016.

That is all. That is everything. I’m watching the mass media storylines. All media we experience in the ’mainstream’ is owned by a couple of conglomerates, a few people. I’m reading books and articles (noting the sources of the writing in each case) and looking at the plans and information. I’m looking at the history. I’m following the money. You can run a search on details around concentration of media ownership and find a few items that make for interesting reading. Be warned, this type of reading is DRY and feels very defeating at times. Here is a pretty picture to make the point.

mediaconglomerateFrom https://www.webfx.com/blog/internet/the-6-companies-that-own-almost-all-media-infographic/

I could not find a date for when this content was published.

 

I hear these arguments/responses…

  • My vote doesn’t matter, or I do not agree with the system so I won’t vote.
  • I won’t vote because I have to check a box for a party, even if that doesn’t mark you in any system as being affiliated with said party.
  • I’m going to vote for the person who will beat the clown.
    • (I’m with you and I also want to vote on issues that help the betterment of the earth, humans and the space and place I call home)
  • I’m going to vote for who the party supports.
  • I won’t vote for a communist/socialist/’insert label meant as derogatory here’.
  • So and so cannot make a difference, how will they enact change with the opposite party holding majority in the Senate? Or They won’t be able to get anything done.
  • This person is too far left and will not be able to get anything done.
  • This person is too old. (Ha I haven’t heard that one in the past two weeks at least)
  • I don’t like the way this person speaks and rants in their speeches. (Maybe it is passion)
  • I’m a lifelong Democrat and will only vote with my party.
  • I’m a moderate so won’t support a candidate who is left. (Left, Right and moderate seem has shifted over the decades. Please share what moderate means to you)
  • I want to see a woman in office. (btw so do I)
  • I’ll support anyone who gets the democratic party nomination. This person isn’t my choice to vote for in the primary.
  • They don’t have a plan.

 

What I rarely hear are the arguments against the issues that I asked earlier in this article. When we do dig into those topics? When do simply focus on what we care most about and how we work together to make those things a reality? More of us want to see these major issues addressed than not. So why are we still so divided. Why does the bad behavior always get pointed out by the few, on all sides, that act like idiots? Why can’t we sit down, see and discuss our commonalities. What we want for our future and more importantly the future of our children and the younger generation? My neighbor and a person I consider a dear friend who has been a precious support these past two years…he belongs to a party I have never supported. I’ve always been a registered independent. I’d say I’m pretty darn liberal and he is more conservative. Yet, we have the most AWESOME discussions about politics. Maybe because he is a really good listener…lol…but he has also pushed back on me. I have answers and opinions. That isn’t the point. The point is we TALK. Funny enough, we agree on more than we don’t. Had we come into it with the labels, we may have never gotten to this point where I treasure his opinions and thoughts and consider him a teacher on so many levels.

The media divides us. This is how the rich few (aka Billionaires and Corporations) manage the masses. By turning us against each other, they can rule and manage us. By giving us subpar education, the majority hasn’t been taught to critically think and question. That way we don’t dig deep into the verbiage used in the news. We miss the subtleties of bias masquerading as news. Not just on TV but also in our major newspapers. We are so distracted that we don’t have time to dig deep. Dig beyond the sound bites and headlines. We are so busy trying to survive and take care of our people, the elections become noise in the background. Until something major strikes. Until our world is turned upside down. Even then, do we pick our heads up and look around and really SEE the world around us?

Common human values. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. In reviewing this again, it seems like A LOT of people are stuck in the ‘safety’ part of this pyramid. To get to self-actualization these days seems like a luxury few have the opportunity to reach.

maslows

The people most challenged in moving up this pyramid is the minority population. As I write that, I realize, I am referencing non-white individuals. Yet there are so many white poor too, so many across all races, religions, genders, etc. challenged. So many people who have very little if any time to dig into the details and facts. There are a million reasons for it. I have been one of those people who didn’t pay attention or dig in up until the 2016 election. The truth, I saw Mikaela’s passion and we had so many discussions, that I couldn’t stay at the high level surface of it all any longer.

The 2008 bubble bursting coincided with me realizing, in the depth of my being, that the American dream no longer exists. The goals and dreams were all a big bust. My mother stayed in this country to give me a better life. I’m grateful to her for that because the struggles would have looked different had we gone back to South Africa. At the same time, I was always taught you can do and be anything you put your mind to. Your mind and sheer will alone doesn’t change the huge hurdles that exist around every corner. First you are simply trying to keep your people fed and safe. Then, if you work hard enough you may ‘make enough’ to buy a home to help ensure you keep a roof over your family’s head. We lived in our 32 foot Airstream for two years so I could pay down my college debt enough to try and purchase a home. (I cannot begin to get into the comments and snarky perspectives that were shared with me at work about my chosen living situation…that is another post for another day) That is where shit went south for us. We bought a house, signed the papers just as the bubble was bursting. Then the interest rate on CC’s went sky high. Then the crappy mortgage we were sold required that we begin paying back the interest, oh and those rates went up too because we carried a first and second mortgage with interest only for the first 5 years. The income that was finally covering everything…got sucked away by the banks. The same bank my tax dollars helped to bail out. The same banks that lobbied to repeal parts of the Glass-Steagall Act (which was part of the Banking Act of 1933 put in place to help prevent bank failures after the first years of the Great Depression) and was supported by Bill Clinton. This is my #1 reason for hating the Clintons. There are other reasons but for this writing we will leave it here. We were forced to short sell our home. We couldn’t afford it anymore. The first and only home we had ever bought. Part of achieving my ‘American dream.’ The kicker of this situation was that I felt deep shame. Like I had done something wrong. If I told people, they would judge ME for making a bad decision. How messed up is that?!?!?

This is only one of many examples of how the system is not setup for the majority. This is one of many reasons I am writing this post.

I was also a recipient of social welfare programs when I was in college. I was a single mother and though my father paid for my college tuition for short while eventually he asked me to take out loans and pay for my own school. He sent me enough money for 1 person to live a very lean life (rent in low income housing and required sundry items). I took out student loans to cover school and living expenses of raising a baby as a single parent. Thankfully due to my lack of income, I qualified for food stamps and the low-income housing. I will never forget when I had to buy a newer reliable car (I drove an hour each way to school 3-5 days a week) the car’s worth put me over the limit to qualify for food stamps. Mind you this was a USED car and wasn’t that nice…it was just reliable. I freaked out because I needed the food stamps to feed us. My social worker (a black woman) was amazing and explained that her daughter was in the same position. She was going to help me get through it and ensure I still had food, etc. She helped bend the rules a bit so I could keep getting the support I needed.

At this point someone is reading this and saying, well you chose to have a child so that is your issue. Yup. You are right. It was my issue and it was my choice. If you have ever read anything that I have written previously, you will know that Mikaela saved my life. After my mother died, I was circling the drain and getting pregnant with her is what drove me to turn my life around. Between 1994-2000 it was the sole driver for me to create a life and strive to become a positive contributor to society. The social programs in place were what helped me along with my amazing grandparents. They endless flow of love and support carried me in those times, well really for the majority of my life.

Social Security and Medicare are also social programs. According to the History.com site, the Social Security Act was signed into law by Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1935 as a ‘federal safety net for elderly, unemployed and disadvantage Americans.” In 1965 Lyndon B. Johnson signed Medicare into law as a health insurance program for elderly Americans. “Johnson wanted to recognize Truman, who, in 1945, had become the first president to propose national health insurance, an initiative that was opposed at the time by Congress.”

Without Social Security and Medicare, my grandparents could not have survived in the years that followed my grandfather’s early retirement. It was a simple and lean life supported by their youngest daughter primarily and the rest of the family as everyone was able. I wonder what would have happened to them had it not been for these programs? Would my children have ever met two out of three of the most precious human beings in my life?

As I watch my 17-year-old son step closer to his high school graduation I am left pondering and planning again. Knowing that, through my deep belief for a solid foundation in primary school education, I have already spent a 4-year college education amount of money on both my children. Mikaela was at a Waldorf school for 6 years. Thankfully due to my lower income we qualified for some amount of scholarship and I had some family assistance. Primarily I sold my company stock (part of my yearly compensation) to cover tuition each year. For Keenaan, it was 3 years of middle school, full tuition that totaled over 60k when he graduated from 8th grade. Again, thanks to stock and some family assistance…he was setup with the foundation that I see serving him daily. I have been deeply blessed to be able to have the opportunity to make this choice for my children and their education.

When Mikaela was accepted to UW she was concerned about how we would cover her tuition yearly. I promised her that I would do all I could, taking on as much extra work as possible, to cover the majority of her tuition costs. She would still need to work to cover her basic expenses, but I would cover the lions share along with whatever scholarships she could get. For law school, we would have to work together to take out loans and find options to help her manage the costs. I wish I was still helping her with this because the alternate option has been horrible. What I wouldn’t give to work those hours again if it meant she was here and still in school, focused on making this world a better place for those less fortunate than her.

For Keenaan the challenge is our environment and the expectations of living in a place where there is A LOT of wealth all around us. Where few have to worry about what college tuition costs look like anywhere the child chooses to go and gets accepted. Bless those families and people but they are not the majority in this country. Now my job as a parent is to help kindly, lovingly, strongly remind my son of what we come from, where I stand financially and what I can do to help him ensure the best education possible without him graduating with so much debt he may not be able to cover his basic needs (the first 2 levels of Maslow’s hierarchy). It will depend on what he studies. He may not be able to follow the things he is most passionate about because the huge disparity between the cost to get that education and what he can make to payback those loans will be diametrically opposed. Breaks my heart. That security and happiness have so many dependencies on money.

I’ve heard people joke that if you choose a job that helps other but doesn’t make you enough to cover the basics, you just need to try and marry rich. I realize it is a joke, I’m hoping as you read this you can see why that isn’t funny.

I learned so much from my years working in a big corporation. It was the best education and bonus, I got paid to receive it. It was also broke me down over and over again. That education required me to keep digging into my soul and unearthing my true self. I met amazing people and horrible people and everything in between. I also learned I could never ‘do enough’ and every time I felt like I was ‘on top’ of all the work that I had to complete, someone higher up than me was piling on more. The 50-hour weeks (regardless of my efficiency in getting things done) slowly creeped to be more. 40 hours of meetings and then an extra 20+ a week just to try and do the work. All of that robbed me of time with my family. Time I felt I had to take away from them to make a living to support them. It reduced the time I had with Mikaela, never thinking that I would be here and she would no longer be in this world. I didn’t know. I thought I was, once again, doing all I could to provide for my people and give them the best life possible. Meeting their physiological and safety needs. I also tried to do all I could to ensure the top three categories in the hierarchy were covered. Love/Belonging, esteem and self-actualization. Perhaps my strong personality allowed for me to drive some of those pieces home faster. Who knows? I can tell you I totally and completely regret all those hours away from my babies. In return for working my butt off daily for over 17 years, the heinous, denigrating and outright mean emotional abuse of a male manager drove me to a nervous breakdown. I’m thankful to know he no longer is at the company but it just allows him to go elsewhere and be poorly behaved in other places. I don’t believe there is any such thing as a work/life balance for a full time working mother, the primary provider, still wanting to be fully present as a mother for her children. The only way balance might be possible is if you have the money to pay someone to do all the little and medium sized tasks.

Today I hear people talk about their workload (in their corporate jobs) and I’m floored. I see the stress; I feel the anxiety and angst. I also get to experience the crap that rolls down hill from their management to them and so on. This is not unique to one company. This is the story I hear repeatedly from so many people. The never enough, not good enough, always more paradigm. If a person wants to be successful, the priority must be work. So few work to live and so many live to work. It adds another layer of misery and exhaustion to the equation. It keeps so many of us distracted from looking below the surface of the noise all around us via news, social media, etc.

Are you happy?

Are the people you love happy?

How high up the hierarchy of needs are you? How about those that you love?

If you are in the Millennial or Gen Z generations, how do you feel about your future?

If you are in the Baby Boomer or Gen X generations, do you think those younger generations are setup for success? What do you think their lives will look like?

Are you talking to your neighbors and to others in your community, not just in your immediate comfort zone of family and friends? Are you engaging in the harder conversations?

Are you listening?

Are you critically questioning and seeking the answers in facts and data?
They are all questions to ponder. Questions to dig deep within ourselves? To reflect on and learn. To reflect on our own lives and learn.

I’m an immigrant that was brought to this country by my mother when I was 2 months old. I was naturalized at 7. I love this country because it is my home. I have known no other, even though I went to South Africa every two years growing up. I hate that this country is no longer a bastion of hope and potential for so many who choose to uproot their entire lives to come here (if they can even get in). If you are not the indigenous people of this land, at some point in your history (far or near) you or one of your previous people traveled to this land and settled. You are descendent from immigrants. Less you forget.

The American dream is dead and has been for many decades. That racism and hate run rampant at all levels and layers. I hate that equal education is not available to everyone and if a person is sick most cannot afford to go to the doctor. I hate that most people in this country are not even able to meet their most basic physiological and safety needs. In the richest country in the history of this world, children starve, women are still sub-class citizens with a slow erosion of laws that remove our choices, that white privilege is still met with anger by almost every white man I meet (not all…but most have a visceral reaction regardless of how awesome they are), that a huge number of our population cannot afford to go to the doctor (even if they have healthcare), recent immigrants are treated as sub-par individuals in our society as are people of color and those who do not have means. I hate most of all that I fear for my brown child. That if this election doesn’t change the leadership of this country, it will be time for us to leave because we won’t be safe. I’m not be an extremist or even anything close to that. History tells a tale that we must heed. We must look, listen and learn to see the quiet parallels that nobody is drawing attention to. We must talk. We must listen. We must seek our commonalities…our shared human values.

I’m not texting or calling or knocking on doors because it is fun and I LOVE doing it. I don’t. I’m doing it because I want to be part of the solution. I want to be active in this privilege that so many take for granted. I want to fight for the people who are being marginalized and can’t even submit their vote because the higher powers creating structures to allow voter suppression. It won’t change if we stand quietly by. It can’t change if we all just wait to see what happens. If people don’t cast their vote and ensure they are educated well in what they are voting for. Not listening to a lot of people’s opinions which simply mimic the few billionaires who manage the talk track.

The time is upon us, we are the ones the world has been waiting for. We must know our neighbors, talk and listen and learn. Teach and share and try. It won’t work with everyone. I get that. The solutions are not EITHER/OR…there is and can be an AND in the statements. I have fought like hell and busted my ass to get where I am. I’m imperfect in a million ways but I try and I love fiercely.

If I can do this. Against so many odds, I know people who are living this life against even bigger odds. They inspire me. They remind me of all I have to be grateful for. They teach me that we are all worth rising up and fighting for.

May you cast your vote focusing on the issues that can help us all. Not just the few.

May you smile at all the people you meet and give a little hello.

May the light of your soul be lit up by the beauty around you even when it is weary from the ugliness that is flying around.

Give yourself the day off or even just the afternoon. Meet with a person who you respect and adore. Ask them the hard questions. Practice and it will get easier.

I love you. I send you kindness and grace and light as you walk through these days. I think you for reading this and taking time to ponder.

….

I dedicate this to my children and the children of my soul families that I love so….

My girl, my boy, my adopted girl A.G., Tahan and Farah, my teenage and adult nieces and nephews, sweet little Valenza, Margo, Ned and Wilf, my children’s friends who are such a gift in my life, Bob and so many others who I have had the honor of watching grow or just starting down that path.

I want to thank my elders for their teachings from the past and today. Blessings to my dear friend Pat who listens to me patiently and with such loving kindness as I bounce all over the place in my verbal processing.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Some damn days…

634022ba88b00b7b10150be2912b113c--christopher-robin-witty-sayingsYou know those days…the ones that start like every other day and then it begins. One thing that sends your heart and mind off kilter because it isn’t expected or anticipated. You think, it’s okay…I’ll process it and I’m still upright so that is a good start. You continue going about your day, processing and staying even keeled. All seems well. Then slowly and unrelentingly the ripples turn to waves, the waves turn into a torrent of unrelenting thrashing and turbulence. You keep trying to steady yourself as the panic rises and before you know all you are trying to do is find a tiny break in currents to catch your breath, not knowing if another break will come to help you get the next gulp of air. Now you are simply trying to figure out how to survive. How to live from moment to moment without completely imploding. Those days suck and those days bring a lot of wisdom. Today was that day for me. I’m still trying to find the wisdom.

It wasn’t all bad. I spoke to some super cool folks because I had my new Bernie shirt on (which I kept forgetting about) so many people commented, and conversations were had. The grocery store shelves were bare in so many places, the fear and preparation of a Coronavirus outbreak. Endless meetings and more work piled on top of the already big workload. Mind you, I am super grateful to have the work so that isn’t a complaint. It also made me remember that my capacity and ability to manage and cope is still highly diminished since Mikaela died. Yup, that is still a thing, my thing. Grief is real and hard and there is no timeline.

Klobuchar dropped out of the race and now two candidates are endorsing Biden. Maybe not a big deal to most. I don’t know. I just keep seeing our system supporting the Billionaires and corporations that feed the money eating machine. To make more money off the backs of 90% of the working people. It makes my heart very heavy.

There are other things that happened today that I don’t want to get into but the first one of my day really threw me. Mostly because when your heart lives outside of your body and the person who holds your heart is still forming new synapsis, stupid and hard shit happens. Like all things we will get through it. The big and the small and everything in between.

What do you learn from these days? My first response is…fuck if I know!?!?  Then I must keep digging. To learn and grown and not allow these specific instances and scenarios take me down in the future. Join me as I explore what the hell this day was supposed to teach me. Not sure we will gain a clear conclusion at the end…but perhaps something useful will step forward.

Honesty

It is the one value I have ALWAYS emphasized with my children. Nothing works in relationship without honesty. It holds hands with TRUST and if there is dishonesty the trust is broken. Omission of information can be seen as dishonesty too. It is a weird connection and I don’t know how to fully explain it but know the repercussions of such acts. From doing this myself and from having it done to me. In my life and personal relationships this is a vital and required quality.  I believe we seek this innately with those around us and know when others cannot reciprocate. When it is present, it can create bridges and bring us together, lack of it can create walls and blocks between us. Be honest, even when it is difficult…really…especially when it is difficult. The other side of it is far worse than just moving through the discomfort and pain with the truth. Speaking your truth can bring freedom and a lightness of being. Please just always remember to be kind and thoughtful in that sharing.

One more point about this value. Honesty in our government and politics feels like an oxymoron. I want to fight for someone who is in the arena, speaking their truth, living their truth, walking their truth. That their truth is reflected in their action. Honestly is simple and uncomplicated. The truth is the truth. My actions reflect my truth. Do yours?

Integrity

Defined as “the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness.”  What does it mean to be principled? “(of a person or their behavior) acting in accordance with morality and showing recognition of right and wrong,” according to the Oxford dictionary. I often say that good and bad are constructs of humanity. Does that go for right and wrong too? I’m guessing yes. Only because if I asked 10 different people how they would define those words, I’m positive I’d get 10 unique answers. For me, this talks about how we show up in the world. Again, do we walk our talk. Do we act in a way that aligns to the words that come out of our mouth? Can we look in the mirror and like/respect the person looking back at us? Feel good about how we have moved through the days? Do we act with kindness? Are we thoughtful? Are we aware of all that happens beyond our little human bubble? Do we treat others the way we wish to be treated? Are our morals, our principles, easily experienced and witnessed by others?

When people come into your life and say one thing and act in a different way…what is that? How do you meet them, or do you meet them at all? When teaching integrity to your people (aka children) is it something you talk about or is it something you show them through your action? Probably both.

Again, when I reflect on this from a political perspective, it feels like an oxymoron. How sad is that state of affairs? Integrity is shown through action, not through words. It reflects our qualities of honesty, principles, uprightness. If we look at the data, we read and educate ourselves in the details we can easily cull out the integrity if and where it might exist. The soundbite dumbed down media won’t give us this vantage point. It is for us to dig and find. Through the data, the facts reflect the action.

Do we act with integrity? Do we interact with others who act in integrity? If they don’t, why do we spend time and energy in that space? How does it serve us? Teach us?

Strength

This is a charged and subjective word for me. I’ve always considered myself a strong person. Strong willed, some may call it stubborn and others simply obstinate. Regardless of their thoughts and opinions, I know that I am strong. There is no way I could have made it to this point in my life without strength. This may sound egotistical and in the past I might have cared. Now I don’t. Showing strength of spirit, strength of heart and soul is a teaching, a gift and grace. We all hold this ability and yet some do not believe that it is theirs. In my opinion, it is more about whether we are supported in honoring this within ourselves. Sometimes it only takes one person to have faith in us, to reflect to us what lies within us. It is also okay to not be strong. It isn’t a requirement in all things. It can be useful in situations. 😊

Sometimes being strong doesn’t feel like strength at all. It feels like shit. It feels exhausting and frustrating and never ending. For those moments beyond your breaking point that can be excruciating and break us in ways we could never imagine. It isn’t about always putting up a good and solid front. It can also be about asking for help, breaking down in those safe spaces with the knowledge that you will be okay and at this moment you need to just let it all go. Nobody can truly know your journey and how you hold your strength. I’m here to remind you that you have it. You can do this. You are not alone, and you are loved and held in a grace beyond anything you could imagine in our 3 dimensions.

Ha and there it is! The answer to today’s writing journey.

In the words of the immortal Winnie the Pooh as written by A.A. Milne…

“If ever there is tomorrow when we’re not together…there is something you must always remember. You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem and smarter than you think. But the most important thing is, even if we’re apart…I’ll always be with you.”

brave girl

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

An invitation to the journey…

3rd sutra cropped

This morning, on my FB feed, a picture popped up that I posted 1 year ago today. She died on March 22, she was 22 years old, so I decided to write for 22 days. Each morning rising earlier than normal to sit with my thoughts, feeling and memories. Reflecting on her, on life, our family, this world but mostly her. Who she was, what she taught me, the relationships she cherished and the passions that drove her in this world. I’m deeply grateful to those who took the time to read. To honor her and bear witness to her mother’s ponderings of a precious soul lost from this world. My broken heart and that of her brother, her father, her boyfriend, closest adopted family and friends. As this month approached, I wondered whether I would be called to write again. Was last year a one-time deal or something else? A lot can shift and move in a year. A lot can also stand still and not move for a year. One thing I know for certain is that the world does keep moving and changing. Whether we like it or not, it will do what it does, and we can choose to ignore it or embrace it and engage. My Mikaela, she always embraced, engaged and kept looking for ways to make it better. Not only for herself and her people but for all of those who cannot (or are challenged to) fight for themselves. She had finally found her passion; she was going to become a lawyer and fight for social justice through the legal system. It brought her to tears to think that people were not all treated equally. That somehow the hardest working people, seeking to create the best life they possibly could were still at a giant disadvantage for any number of reasons…the color of their skin, the socio-economic class they were born into, their gender identity and on and on. Those groups that had no choice in where they fit into the great picture and into a system that makes is wildly difficult if not impossible for so many of them to succeed. Mikaela wanted to fight for them. Help them. She could not figure out why they would be treated differently because they are all human and deserve equality.

Some will read this and think, that isn’t realistic and that is just the way life has been, for longer than we can remember. Read the history books. Well pointing at the past and the present and saying…well that is how it is…doesn’t make it okay and why the hell are we so complacent about it? I digress.

So the Facebook post I wrote this morning, sharing out the memory from a year ago said this:

Today I begin my walk of honoring my girl…in 22 days…for her 22 years of life, leading to the 2 year anniversary of her departure from this human life. This year’s writing will look a little different. With the current state of this world, I heard her say…share and educate. Help people see why we can no longer be quiet or sit and watch. Be of service to support further vision and awareness so we may be inspired and motivated to rise up and fight. Fight in a good way. Speaking to each other with loving awareness. We may not agree and yet we hold more in common than not. Let us begin…let us listen and learn from each other and come together for the good of the majority. For the highest good of all.  Blessings and love.

babypic

I’m not sure all the forms and topics these writings will take. I do know I’ll be talking about her beloved Bernie. Who she caucused for in 2016. She would have made it to nationals had it not been for her mistake in getting the paperwork completed. A chosen delegate for WA, she walked her talk, she lived her passion and she raised her voice with conviction, clarity and strength. It isn’t something I can match but I will certainly attempt to bring forward the data and information.

The days are over for my generation and the one before me to be quiet. The Boomer and Gen X generations helped create the massive mess left for the Millenials, Boomlets and generations that follow. If we don’t start making significant changes to help with the environment YESTERDAY…our children’s future won’t exist. We CANNOT bury our heads in the sand any longer. We cannot wait and see who gets nominated. We cannot ‘hope’ for things to change. We must be the change we wish to see in this world. Thank you Ghandi!

If you are reading this and aren’t doing something to help be the change, then please keep reading. You don’t have to agree with what is shared here but I hope it will inspire you to try. To participate and raise your voice, vote with your dollars, speak to your neighbors and friends. Anything and EVERYTHING will help!

The definition of a corporation in this country is to make money. The billionaires have so much money they could feed, house and help create sustainable infrastructures in small countries. So why are so many suffering and so few prospering? Why are the scales so severely off balance?

We can’t bury our head in the sand anymore. I hope whatever comes through in these remaining 21 days will be useful, inspiring, informative, angering, supportive and ultimately it will move each person who reads this to action. In the small and big ways that they can. If each of us do a little, that can add up to a lot.

Don’t do it for me, for her, for only the people you know…do it for our communities, for those you don’t know.

The person with mental illness homeless on the streets with no help.

Do it for the single mother working multiple jobs and trying to raise her kids…and still can’t make ends meet.

For the black youth who is innocently minding his own business walking through a neighborhood only to have the cops called on him and potentially be shot for not reason. Worse yet the black youth innocently at home minding her business only to be shot by a police officer in her own home.

Do it for the people who have lost their jobs and cannot afford access to education to reskill themselves in the hopes of better opportunities and work.

For the student who cannot afford college despite their amazing grades from years of hard work. For the student who will wrack up 6 figure debt trying to gain a job to help others. The job that will never pay them enough to repay their debt. Doomed before they even launch to a life behind the eight ball.

The person who cannot afford their life saving medication. To all the people who get sick and cannot afford to go see a doctor.

The family who can’t afford a place to live because a big corporation has come in and hiked up the price of living beyond anything reasonable and the income gap vs. cost of living is so askew there is no way to close the gap.

The list is endless. So, I leave you with this. In the words of the immortal John Lennon…

“You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one. I hope some day you’ll join us and the world will live as one.”

 

Join me on this journey. I don’t know where it will lead. I believe Mikaela is at the wheel and I’m her co-pilot. Perhaps it is the other way around. Who knows! We had some fabulous and amazing discussions while she was still in her human form…it will be fascinating to see where this adventure takes us.

With deep gratitude and love to you for taking the time to read and join us on this voyage.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

More on Surrender…

seraphina lady painting

Painting by Seraphina Gordon

Thank you to everyone who shared their thoughts on what surrender means to them. It reminds me that we share more in common than not. In this world, we can all benefit from finding our commonality to help us understand the world that moves around us.

I had the gift and grace of sitting with a beloved teacher a few weekend’s ago. It was a Kundalini Yoga Teacher Training class focused on Lifestyles and Lifecycles. Guru Singh referred to surrender during our morning discussion related to the topic of death as a lifecycles. Coincidence? I think not!

He said, ‘surrender to you, all that is left is you.’ Over and over we can let go and come back to ourselves. During our discussion on death as a beautiful gift of transition, I witnessed a room full of people invited to surrender into themselves. To take in these beautiful teachings which guide us to see that death is simply another transition of our true self, our soul, our essence. Guru Singh went on to remind us to never speak of the dead ‘to this life place’ in past tense. They are not gone, they have simply moved into another form. This statement brought me peace because it has never felt right to refer to Mikaela in past tense. She is not gone, she is simply in a different form.

Below I have highlighted some of the wisdom that was lovingly shared on the Facebook post…

It take strength to surrender…

…surrender is simply allowing myself to be with what is without judgment. It can be hard as hell or easy as can be. Depending.

…it is a point of exhaustion when I have no fight left within me and I am completely drained. There is no anger. No tears. I am empty and acknowledge there are no other options. There are no “fixes” – it is, what it is. It is the point where I try to take a breath, and ask for the good in the universe to help me move forward. To help me take the next step.

Surrender is not fighting the reality of what IS in this moment. It is neither clinging too or resisting what IS but allowing the moment to be what it IS. Nothing else is possible. However, surrender isn’t capitulation or abdication. We still have an obligation to show up as an advocate for ourselves and the world we want to live in.

…it is a daily choice, to move toward something more at peace with the circumstances around me.

Surrender is courage to stand, sit, scream
bleed, cry
love
in this roiling storm
with my heart open.

To surrender
To give into to something
To feel weightless and taken over
And to let it lead
This can be scary
And also exhilarating
Most of all though, it’s vulnerable and brave

Surrender. It’s a word we all should ponder and accept, though likely not easy to do so.

Surrender for me is giving up on getting my way and fully accepting what it is that is before me. Life is not as I had planned but it is as it is and that is good, though not always wanted. Gradually accepting the reality shifts the suffering for me.

…surrender feels like the exhalation of the breath

…allowing what must be, to be. Knowing I must let go of whatever power, control, or protection that I believe I have to something or someone greater than myself. Understanding that it might be painful, even crushing, and frightening, but ultimately spiritual. The calm after a storm.

That surrender means to literally “melt into a higher state of consciousness or being that is beyond ourselves”. That it is a choice to surrender and takes great strength to fall into it with full force and trust.

Surrender for me us when the grief comes up I feel it, acknowledge it and try really hard to move forward. Some days I am successful and some days are s struggle.

The wisdom in the words above is our teacher. It is the light that guides us. It is the gift we bring forward from our unique souls to share with others. To cross pollinate and share this knowledge is how we help lift each other up and heal in these difficult times.

As so many of us watched the heart wrenching pictures of Notre Dam burning, I was struck at how it evoked deep sadness in me. Another death waiting to be re-born. Remembering my time at this amazing place with Mikaela 4 years ago.

We are confronted with tragedy and hardship daily. As individuals, as communities and on a global scale. How do we show up in these situations? How do we show up for ourselves and each other? How do we experience our most expansive selves in this life walk?

I wonder if the answer lies within surrender. Surrendering to you, so that all that is left is you. So your cup can be full and grace can flow forward from that space.

As we walk daily towards Mikaela’s 24th birthday, I feel my sadness grow and I am reminded once again to be. To surrender into me.

May grace meet you daily and bring light in the darkness, beauty in the ugly, kindness in the harshness of life. May we all know the beauty of our souls in this life walk.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Surrender

IMG_3108Life will have its way with each of us. Our experiences and challenges will be as unique as we are. Even if we are in relationship or walk this life arm in arm with others, our experience of our life walk will still be an individual experience seen through our eyes alone.

At this time (almost 6 am) one year ago my daughter had just died. A day earlier around 8:30am her doctor pronounced her brain dead. In 1.5 days, the entire world as we knew it, was no more. She wouldn’t come back to us as the spunky, sassy, outspoken, passionate, stubborn, determined, snuggly girl we knew. There was nothing we could do but surrender to this new reality.

As I sat in her room this morning and moved through the mantras of morning sadhana my mind wandered through a myriad of thoughts. I churned on a conversation from late yesterday that made me sad and hurt and frustrated. I saw myself sitting in her hospital room a year ago going through the same sadhana. Then I felt annoyed by my inability to breath easily due to a sudden onset of allergy hell. From there I began wondering how I would write about this topic of surrender. Then, how were we going to arrange the space for tonight’s gathering? My mind is not a quiet place to hang out. Since I have yet to find a steady and consistent meditation practice (I have the tools and lack the discipline), whenever I’m in meditation of any sort, my monkey mind screeches incessantly. Today, I remembered this single word, amazingly powerful in its teaching. Surrender.

What does it mean to surrender? I’m not 100% sure I know the answer but, on this day, the 1 year anniversary of Mikaela’s death, I invite you to ponder this question with me. I’ll share what it means to me and I’d be grateful to understand what it means to you. The first light of day and the sunrise is hidden by the clouds as I sit here wearing Mikaela’s warm and cozy snuggy for the first time since she left us. She loved this darn snuggy and I’m understanding why this morning. Wrapped in softness and warmth by something she loved. Maybe that is one of the pieces of surrender. When we are loved and safe it allows us the space to lay down those harder things in life. Relaxing and releasing into the flow of life.

To me, surrender looks like a person laying prostrate on the ground. It is the posture of bowing down, with humility and gratitude, making surrender a beautiful picture in my mind’s eye. In Arabic the word is sijda (sp?), this is where the word Saajeda comes from. To prostrate in prayer. Invoking the sacred and letting go of that which no longer serves you. Blessing those thoughts, the interactions, the choices, all of it.

Sometimes letting go is required to survive. It is the difference between living and dying. In the most literal sense, it is the image of a white flag being raised on the battlefield, marking that moment where one side “ceases resistance to an enemy” as noted from the dictionary. The imagery is rich in my mind around this word. Yet, the words I can use to describe what surrender feels like seem to lack the richness I’m seeing to convey.

In my sadhana, I kept ‘surrendering’ over and over again as the thoughts grabbed hold and started to thrash me around. All I wanted was to be present with the candlelight, the darkness, the moonlight and my child’s spirit. I didn’t want to think about all the things that were not her. My wish was to sink into the space and feelings of honoring and grace, remembering where I was a year ago. I kept asking to let go and allow those pieces to float through me and release. It sort of worked, reminding me that this is a practice in life. Like a muscle, we have to use it and keep making it stronger. Creating a habit of sorts. This morning alone has been a tremendous teacher. In the past hour or so, the dogs have insisted on going out, then barking. Stuff is falling off of tables on the ground. I’ve been distracted by multiple things in the short time since I sat down to write this. Ugh! I keep hearing the mantra in my head…surrender. It may rain this afternoon which would put a kink in my plans for an honoring ceremony tonight. Surrender. How will we all fit in the house? Surrender. There are still many odds and ends to complete. Surrender. I feel bad that I wasn’t able to invite everyone I wanted to. Surrender. I feel frustrated that my capacity for large groups has been greatly diminished and I want to apologize to everyone. SURRENDER.

Last year, when she died and we buried her, there was a plan put into place for the day. It required scheduling and timing to get us to the cemetery in time for sunset. As they say, the best laid plans. I won’t get into those details again, you can go back and read the blog post I wrote on a few months ago. As that day went on, I got more and more stressed. Every part of me ached right down to my soul. My patience was shot and I didn’t want to disappoint anyone by being late. As I write that last sentence, I realize how ridiculous that sounds considering the situation. It is my nature to be a people pleaser and when I think I might be inconveniencing people or inadvertently upsetting them, it sends me spinning. I vividly remember standing in the ghusl room in the Islamic center as the women washed Mikaela’s body not sure if I should cry or scream from grief with the added anxiety over the plan going down the tubes. It was almost 4pm and we had planned to leave no later than 2. Once we got her body in the car and I started to drive I became very present to how little control I had, which was none. So, I drove and remember thinking, ‘let it go, you must let go. This isn’t how you want to remember this last bit of time with her.’ Surrender grieving momma. Bow down deeply to the greater powers in the universe and allow their flow to move you…and they did. She wasn’t meant to be buried at sunset. She was meant to do it in her own unique way and that she did. It was the first night burial the cemetery ever had. It was sacred and humbling and beautiful. The brightest night sky I had ever witnessed. It all turned out better than we could have planned thanks to the gifts of a small and diligently amazing group of close friends.

In this past year I have carried that lesson with me. That practice of how little we can influence, let alone control. That if we show up for life, with trust in our soul and a willingness to surrender, there can be tremendous gifts that present themselves. It also feels like we must be mindful to the times that call for what we think is surrender. It goes back to that place of safety and trust. We can’t always surrender to a situation because it may not be safe. It may not serve your highest good. There may be some other action called for…so be mindful of when and how you choose to surrender.

For me, surrender is always within myself and provides an ‘allowing’ I wouldn’t always give myself. To allow things to float through me and move with the greater flow. Cease resistance. That which I resist becomes stronger or another great phrase is ‘that which I resist, persists.’ I’m learning to surrender to my fears, to my expectations, to my grief, to my plans and frustrations. Seeking to see and understand why I resist so many things. Seeking the ability to allow things to wash over and through me vs. stay stuck in the recesses of my psyche and soul. Perhaps my motivation is around needing to be a better person. I’m human and have a lot of regrets and parts of my parenting I wish I had done better. I don’t beat myself up about it but I do regularly ask for forgiveness from my daughter and try to own those parts I dislike with my son. Surrendering to my imperfection and owning it. Knowing that with awareness I can always work to improve.

Surrender is a teacher, you only have to use your mind/heart connection to listen for the lessons. Today I’ll continue to chant my mantra of surrender, moving through the day as authentically as I can. Honoring that the plans might not come together as hoped and that is okay. I’m adaptable and I know Mikaela is hanging out close by waiting for her party. Grandpa’s spaghetti sauce is finished, scones and pizza will be cooked today and her loved Chantilly berry cake will be brought with love by Farah and Tahan. We will have a huge spread of desserts to begin our dinner in reverse, one of her favorite things to do. It will all be perfect because there is nothing else it can be when we move with the flow of the river of life. We all stumble, fall and get hurt. If we remember to take a few deep breaths and then stand up and keep walking with awareness, life can guide us via the sight of our hearts. Surrendering to the cosmic flow of the universe. Where we are all connected, even to our loved ones who no longer walk this earth.

Join us in your own way of honoring Mikaela’s life today. Eat dessert first or tell a silly joke to unsuspecting friends or simply light a candle and send her a heart full of love. She touched so many lives and left her indelible mark. Thank you to everyone who has shared your stories and memories of her, with us. We are humbled by every sharing and connection.

I’ll end with another heartfelt thank you for your time, your witnessing, your loving words of support and for caring. When I started writing this month, I had no idea what would come forward through these words or how it would help me. Let alone what it might bring for others. This started as a way for me to carry myself through this 1 year anniversary. Allowing me to honor the journey that all of us who love her so deeply have walked. Supporting my own soul and continuing to try and learn from her. I think the writing has accomplished all of this and perhaps more. It isn’t over yet, it will likely never be over. The heartbreak and the writing. Maybe this is my daughter’s gift to me. I do know that she was the biggest gift of my life (her brother too and in a different way). I’m here, writing this, surrounded by a beautiful life thanks to what she called forward in me by choosing me as her mother.  

Always, Home is wherever I’m with you.  (enjoy the song – and Thank you Sean, for this song and for thinking of me when you hear it. For making a home with me, for us.)

Our daughter found a new form but her home will always be within our heart and souls.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Cultivating a grateful heart…

In class with Soaring Eagle Woman (aka momma Blue) many years ago this question was posed. Do you know what the secret to happiness is? We shook our heads no. She went on to explain, happiness is finding gratitude in the worst things that have ever happened to you. Think about that for a short bit. Hmmm?

I’ve shared this teaching with many people over the years. It has helped and it requires A LOT of practice. I have pondered whether ‘happiness’ is created or if it is simply a peace and freedom that allows space for joy and happiness to grow. Regardless, don’t we all want more happiness and less of the negative stuff?

There are many personal examples of how this lesson has served me. For instance, 1.5 months after my mother died, my step father took everything I owned, everything my mother left and kicked me out of the house. He gave me a bag of dirty clothes in an old yellow bag, took my car (the one my mother and I were paying for), called my employer and quit my job ‘for me’ and told me I was a horrible shit and he wanted nothing to do with me. I was 17 and in less than 2 months I had lost my entire life.

Revenge was my primary thought for a very long time. How could I get back at this man? My mother trusted him to take care of me and ensure the money she left would get me through college and setup in my own life. I thought about digging up all my mothers rose bushes and stealing them. Stalking him and finding ways to make his life miserable, so many fantasies of how to get back at him. She left a quarter of a million dollars in insurance money, a paid off house and cars. Now I was homeless, no job, no car, had to quit college and to stay in Arizona, my home, I had to rely on the kindness of my boyfriend’s parents for help. It took years of therapy and even more years of continued pondering of how I could ‘get back at him’ before I didn’t feel the seething pain of the situation and a deep hatred for the man. I knew carrying it around with me only hurt me. How do you not hurt and be angry about something like this? Then I was gifted with this wisdom, 20 years later. Here is what I learned when I reflected on that time…

Less than a month after my mother died, my stepfather had started to leave porn videos out around the house (back in the VHS tape days) and was talking to me about him and my mother’s sex life. He wanted me to quit college and stay home because he felt girls needed to take care of the house, not get an education. As this started, I got that sinking feeling in my gut again, this man wanted something from me that was not okay. He wanted me to step into my mother’s place, wait on him, cook food, do laundry and likely other things. I started to lock my room door at night and when he came to my room and found it locked, he got angry. I was scared and started spending less and less time at the house. It was hard to be there anyway since my mother died in my room. I share this perspective to get to the simple point that being kicked out of that house saved me from a far worse fate. It was a blessing and grace that I couldn’t be there anymore. I found gratitude in the worst thing that had happened to me and now when I look back at that time, I feel truly grateful. Is there annoyance or anger at the person my stepfather was/is. Sure, and I observe that feeling and then let it go. It was a lesson for me in more ways than I can explain here.

Why am I blathering on about gratitude?

Last night I made a sacred fire and settled into some soul work, listening for the wisdom and guidance to move me through these days and beyond. Leveraging the special energy of the cosmos on the Spring Equinox and full super moon. Before this occurred, my amazing friend and neighbor, asked if I wanted to go sit by the water and have a beverage and catch up. We are both walking through loss and grief, so it is a grace to have a friend to chill and chat with. We sat by the water and watched the sky changes colors while the moon rose over the horizon. It was magical and sacred, beyond perfect for the first day of spring. We found ourselves speaking of our appreciation and gratitude for the beauty around us. Sharing the reality that we truly need so little in life if we simply take time to be still, listen and look at the beauty that surrounds us. This was the prayer of gratitude in my heart that I held as I entered ceremony.

During this quiet time, the fire reminded me over and over again of the grace gifted to me. A weaving of memories, the calling in of our ancestors and feeling their presence, watching the dancing spirits in the flames, listening to the frogs, feeling the breeze and my sweet Zola standing close. To be loved and to love is a grace and gift all by itself. In my opinion the greatest gift of this life and beyond. It is the cord that connects us. When we care about something, hold a passion for it that feeds the depths of our being, that is a gift of grace. These are the awareness’s that lift me up and help me find gratitude in the hardest things.

Last night when I heard the owl hoot, she gifted me with the vision to see the gifts. In these hardest of times, the worst thing that has ever happened to me (and I pray this one thing is the worst for the rest of my living days), I find my gratitude.

Grateful that the souls of both my children that chose me to be their mother.

Grateful for the almost 23 years I had with Mikaela.

Grateful for my kind heart, sweet young man of a son.

Grateful to have a partner that loves me.

Grateful to have Bob in our lives and close. His beautiful spirit always humbles me and I’m grateful he is part of my family.

Grateful for Tahan and Farah and their unwavering love and support in addition to their authentically beautiful way of being in this world.

Grateful for our Sunday meals.

Grateful to my community of friends and family who have been here for me and my family in all the varying ways they could during this past year.

Grateful to have a steady paycheck which allows me to live comfortably in a beautiful place that I love.

Grateful for my teachers and my soul sisters and brother who walk this spirit path with me, next to me, sometimes holding me, encouraging me, honoring and reflecting our hearts to each other as we journey and learn together.

…and grateful for so much more it is impossible to write it all here.

I’ll leave you with this last story about appreciating the gifts that are laid before us. This morning I had to drop Keenaan at school and needed to get a few more groceries. At first, I was going to head straight home after buying cream from a small bakery. I was feeling very sad and the idea of seeing people or trying to shop seemed overwhelming. Then decided to suck it up and just get it all done at once while I was in town, as quickly as possible. I didn’t need people to see me with puffy red eyes and wasn’t up to answering the question of ‘how are you?’ Knowing all this, I can tell you Spirit works in beautifully mysterious ways.

I walk into the grocery store, there is my chef buddy. As I’m talking to him, the beautifully splendid and amazing Raquel walks over with a big and beautiful smile on her face. She gives me a hug, a great big soul and love filled hug, she knows and understands. Nothing else needs to be said. We get to the beverage aisle and I run into another momma I know. One I can be real with. We chat for a few minutes, she shares that they have a new German Shepherd puppy. (Anyone who knows me will guess that at this juncture I’m no longer focused on my sadness…because PUPPY) We now have a tentative plan to get Zola together with Pasha the puppy. Oh, and she sent me pictures, which OMG, to adorable for words. I continue my journey…I run into one of Keenaan’s wonderful and lovely teachers from Hyla. She is always a bright light in a day, and this is no exception. More hugs and a little chat. Realizing I need something else from the produce area, I walk back. There is my beloved Teri from Sacred Groves. Hands down the BEST HUGGER in the entire universe. It is like mother earth has wrapped herself around you and given you pure love. We sink into a brief yet wonderful soul conversation and then continue on our way. Finally as I headed to check out, I ran into another wonderful woman from my gym class. We don’t know each other well but her daughter tutored Keenaan in Spanish and whenever I see her face it simply glows with love, kindness and joy. She can always make me smile. I felt bad as I was rushing to get out of the store, but this departing gift of her smile was like icing on the cake of hugs. In the span of less than an hour I received 5 hugs. I’m pretty sure that was no coincidence and feeling blessed that my girl had her hand in the mix.

Since Mikaela died, I knew that this new life journey would be filled with teachings and gifts. I don’t always feel like that, but I know the words are true despite not feeling it. Sometimes I must relax and look at things from a slightly different vantage point to see more clearly. I refuse to believe my daughter died for no reason. It feels empty and cruel so I tell myself this story (true or not) so that I may survive the thing that seems impossible to survive. For my son, the other half of my heart, because I know what it is like to lose a mother and my hope is, he doesn’t have to know until he is far into the depths of his life long from now. As it is, he should have never had to know what it was like to live without his sister and best friend, especially not this young.

I sit in gratitude, as much as I can, with a constant prayer to be shown and taught all that this new life is meant to teach me. I sit and look out the window at Phillip, her beloved boy. Knowing she is close, taking in the gift of spring in the ways she can in her new place.

We will do this together my girl. You will keep showing me all the things to be grateful for. I will keep watching and listening. As we walk this path, perhaps what we learn will be of service to others. Also, keep those hugs coming. They rock!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Illuminating intentions & questions…

The sun illuminates all that it touches, warming the earth with her glowing presence. On this day of the Spring Equinox and the full super moon it is not lost on me, that 1 year ago today, I listened to the doctor tell me my Mikaela wasn’t going to return to me. For me there is no coincidence that everything is aligning on this day a year later. I’m reminded of the splendid synchronicity that exists in this world when we take the time to still our body and mind and simply pay attention. There are treasures to be witnessed and gifts to receive.

We walk with tender hearts through these days. Candles lit. Moments remembered. Memories played over and over again in our heads. At night, sleep is fleeting, and my daytime avoidance of all things is like an impatient child knocking incessantly at the door of my soul. I see the light outside with my eyes and feel the suns warmth with my body. Yet, my heart has the last say. My heart whispers endlessly, without taking a single breath, she is gone from here and you must go on. My head responds like a stubborn child stating, I don’t really have to go on if I don’t want to. My body aches with a weariness that is unparalleled by anything else I have ever experienced. My soul beckons me to know the truth, she is only gone from this place but isn’t far. My soul, with her soothing voice of love, gently reminds me to trust and know that when ‘I’ get out of the way, the truth can be felt, heard and seen.

When those moments arrive, there is a flash of peace and reprieve from the weight of sadness I always carry. This is how I know it is real and true. In those hours long after most are asleep, I lay in bed unable to escape the pictures in my head and the weight in my chest. Then somewhere in this dark space, she is there. Her essence is close reminding me she is okay and encouraging me to keep moving forward. Her humor is still fully intact and her need to use silliness to shift the heaviness is a welcome reprieve in the stillness of night.

Each of us must find our unique way through the darkness of loss and grief. We can learn from others and it is also vital to listen to our own soul. To set down the insane pace of this earthly life and give ourselves some space to ‘be.’ I’ve been blessed to have amazing resources that have brought her voice to my ears after she left her body. Once again, it was synchronicity which could not be explained away. There was also no denying it was my daughter’s voice because the uniqueness of her soul…well a mother simply knows. Many may read this and think I am crazy. I’m cool with that. This is my journey with my daughter, and we don’t do boxes. Apparently not in this life or in any other realm.

Today I am reminded of an epiphany and promise I made to her last year when I sat next to her grave. This way of existing is all new for both of us and neither of us knows how to navigate this shit show we found ourselves in. Her there (wherever there is) and me still here. Like all things between us, we worked and figured it out hand in hand. Why would this be any different? So I promised her, we would figure this thing out together. I’ve failed on that promise to her a lot this year. Retreating and hiding from the pain that is a companion to this new life walk. Not quite able to get beyond MY grief and need to have her here. Thankfully she is patient and I’m still learning.

I think the reminder is coming today because it is the intention I must hold. I have to ask the energy of the sacred fire to carry my prayers to realms beyond this place. Where Mikaela and I figure out how to keep walking in our respective places, connected and honoring what life and death has given us.

In this pivotal time of letting go of the things that no longer serve and setting intention for what we wish to create…I ask another question. Similar to what I wrote yesterday. What purpose does this writing serve? I pose the question to all of you reading this? You have taken precious time out of your lives to read and share your humbling reflections and words of love. It has been an invaluable support. I ask instead of trying to answer the question myself. Gaining perspective on something so personal feels impossible. As vulnerable as I can be and completely petrified as I am of the potential answers…What purpose does this writing serve? I’m seeking honesty and perspective. Can it help others? Would you share the writing with others who might benefit? Is it a seed to create something larger? Is it simply a tool to help me get through these 22 days? I don’t know the answer. Perhaps my daughter, you and the powers far beyond my grasp may hold insights. Today, can I be still enough to listen? Can I quiet my world enough to simply ‘be’ in this space and place at this time? If I do, can I hear the words that are shared with me? Will it make me run? Will it help me to grow? Will it set me in a whole new direction in life?

As humans I think we naturally seek meaning in life. Everyday I seek meaning in the reason why my daughter is dead. Why my mother was taken from me after 17 years and then my daughter after 22. The two women that I loved the most in the world. Isn’t there some reason? What has this loss and so many other losses in my life propelled me towards? How do I take all of this and turn it into something beautiful that can be of service to others? I know that is part of what I am meant for in this world, to be of service to others. I’m not sure I’m very good at it but I’m working on it.

Deep sigh and deep breath. Candles burn holding spirit close. The sun continues to climb in the sky as I sit here tapping away at my keyboard. Asking for help. Setting intentions. Making good on promises. Reminding myself to not move at my usual pace and instead just take it all in. Slowly and with gratitude. As I put this out to the universe and all of you, I must surrender to what comes next. I am simply a soul, come to this earth in human form to have a human experience. It is a privilege and a gift to know that I am held by my ancestors, the beloved souls who have continued their journey before me and all of you who continually help me up every time I fall. It is my sincerest wish that I honor it all by how I walk through this life.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Why, What & Who?

IMG_3134Why this writing? What purpose does it serve? What is the reason for sharing this publicly? Who does it serve?

I’ve shared that this writing came out of a self-serving need, seeking a way to help me journey through the days, 1 year later, that led to my daughter dying. Knowing that it was impossible to not re-live those days in an obsessive manner, questioning and wondering what could have been different. I already know the reality of the matter, nothing could have been different because this has come to pass, and we cannot change what is in our rearview mirror. I believe in something bigger than myself and I honor the connection to the divine, which I believe resides in all things. Perhaps because in life there are so many questions asking why, and so few answers to the question.

I’ve been asking the question ‘why’ repeatedly, my entire life. Why all the hardships, strife and unhappiness? Why did the adults make the decisions they made? Why is all of this happening? For those who know my story growing up, you can fill in the details of those questions. For those of you who don’t, suffice it to say, a lot of hard, life changing, world altering crap went down in almost every decade of my life (especially the first 20 years).

Sitting with a friend last night I found myself trying to explain why I was writing. Not because she asked, more because I was processing a lot of stuff out loud and thankfully she was willing to listen. Then I felt all my self-consciousness rise up in that discussion. It had nothing to do with my friend and everything to do with my awareness that this ‘thing’ I have chosen to do could be ego. Talking about myself, this journey of loss and learning. Then I had to remind myself that ego doesn’t place your most vulnerable self out for the world to witness. It tends to protect and mask the things that society wants to turn away from. Death and dealing with the loss of a loved one is not something most people want to know about or see for more than the first days/weeks after someone dies. Usually we all just want to get back to some type of normalcy and remember life vs. the fact that one day we will also take our last breath and our heart will become still and the blood that flows with such grace though our veins will stagnate and cease it’s constant motion.

This writing is to remind me that death is inevitable for all living things. In my sharing perhaps it will also provide some insights or at least something to think about. We don’t talk about it, we have sanitized it from our modern society and most of us fear it, despite its inevitable motion towards us. We will all experience death while we are alive and feel the pit in our stomachs and the inexplicable loss that marks that transition point. In our society we have a deficit of ritual and ceremony to support our journey through these experiences. If you are religious or carry indigenous teachings with you, some rituals remain and it still feels like too little for something so big. We lack language and tools to talk to those who have experienced loss. How do we support those we love who are walking this path of grief? If we are in the middle of the loss, being pummeled by the incessantly crashing waves, what tools can we use to help us come up for the occasional breath of air?

There are great books and information out there and it seems that most people don’t touch these until they are in the depths of the experience. Why would we want to look at this topic otherwise? I’m grateful to have found many beautiful resources to support my journey. It also comes at a time where reading can be a challenge in addition to so many other simple tasks. What do we do? How do we do this? These questions roll around in my head constantly. What happens if we don’t have the money to attend the workshops or retreats? What if we don’t feel comfortable sharing our deepest and most tender selves in a group setting? Or with a stranger that we pay for help? Trust me, I’m a big believer in therapy and gathering a large set of tools to help provide support. I also honor it isn’t for everyone. Everyone needs different things during their journey. There is no rushing the process.

To add to the fun of this adventure, grief is not a linear process. You don’t always go through discreet ‘stages’ per se and those non-discreet, non-stages are not linear. There isn’t some magic moment…when all ‘stages’ (or non-stages) are completed and then you are grief free! Ha I wish this were true but sadly it is not. Avoidance doesn’t really help either. It may in the short term but long term, if you stuff away those feelings, there is a high probability those emotions will resurface in less than positive ways. I ask the question again…Why this writing? What purpose does it serve? Is it ego or is simply asking a question out loud to the universe and the reader?

How do we do death in our culture? How do we journey through grief and loss in ways that allow us to fully express the depth of our sadness that reflects the height of our love? Where do we gather the tools, share the wisdom and honor the soul’s journey through this cycle of life?

This is another commonality that we all share. We love and we lose. It is universal.

On this day (date is tomorrow) last year, Tuesday afternoon around 4-5pm, Sean, Keenaan and I were just pulling out some food to try and sit and have dinner in Mikaela’s hospital room. What happened next, with a suddenness that caught us all off guard, is where my family’s journey of loss and grief began. We didn’t know it when it began but we all felt it immediately. My precious and less than perfect little family didn’t know that what came next was a shattering we could have never imagined. One of our own, the one who lived deeply in our heart and soul, would no longer hold a physical presence on this earth. The doctors came in, the reality set in and our lives gone as we knew it.

My blessing was I had experience and tools around death, and I can say nothing ever prepares you for losing someone you love so dearly, especially not your child. What it helped me do was move into creating ceremony and ritual which honored the depth of our hearts and what Mikaela would have wanted. She and I didn’t want to contribute to the big corporate funeral engine and I knew I didn’t want her body separated from me for any amount of time. I knew how to move to action and do what was needed. This couldn’t have happened without the love, support and giant efforts of our dearest and closest people.

The reality of death has been my constant companion since 17 years old, I talked to my children about it. Especially Mikaela. I was preparing them to take care of things when I died. Reminding them that it would be hard to lose us, but it was the natural order of life and inevitable. (I guess I was really fricking wrong about that) I did what I could with the tools I gained through my first major loss in life. I tried to give these to my daughter and will do the same with my son. The difference for him is that he has experienced loss firsthand, at such a tender young age with someone he should have had with him into his golden years. My prayer for him, as we keep walking this path, is that I can teach him by example. Helping him to find those places deep within and honor them in his own unique ways.

This writing is another tool in my toolbox, but it is more than that. It is the need to raise my voice and invite you to become curious about your own inevitable death and the passing of those around you. To have the harder discussions with your family, your partner, your children (age appropriate of course). Do you have the worldly stuff handled…the wills, the medical directives, etc. Have you left someone in charge of these things who can be clear under pressure, fear, stress and has your best interest and wishes as the primary decision driver? When death happens, grief can turn the sane on its head and the most unexpected behavior may occur. These are all things to think about. Families have been ruined because of a death of a loved one. Where there was once harmony, discord has grown. Other families are brought closer together and to these families I bow in gratitude. Sadly, I have witnessed more discord and less harmony.

Then there is the stuff of heart and soul. Heartbreak is inevitable when a loved one dies, and the emotions run high. The brain is on sabbatical. Everyone is feeling and deeply seated in their heart. Sometimes in their fear too. This is all normal and also challenging. Preparing ahead, talking, sharing, discussing the topic can help to take the sharpest edges off the topic. It goes beyond writing down your wishes, it bleeds into providing regular reminders of your expectations and supporting the people you love with the positive reinforcement that you know the love and heart that sits within each of them. Even with all this, it is still hard and emotions run fast and hard.

I’m not sure I’ve completely answered the question of why this writing? Maybe I’ve started to touch the surface of something so many amazing and brilliant people before me have worked to shift. Perhaps my voice is just one more to add to a slow and quiet movement in our culture towards a #gooddeath. From the start I have diligently tried to remember the good, the things to be grateful for out of the deepest pain and hurt I have ever experienced. In sharing this with others, my hope is that slowly and gently the seeds will be planted. Over time we will find ways to water those seeds and grow this part of our lives and culture to help create a better balance and relationship with this inevitable part of life.

To you all, with deep gratitude for your time in reading.

To my sweet angel girl, for continuing to be my greatest teacher in this life and beyond.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Moving from Dependence to Independence

As I’ve written these past 18 days, there has been a mix of memories from her various years punctuated by the teachings from her life and death. If I keep with the theme of talking about her by age, there would be a special emphasis on this age and time in her life. 18 is when a young person becomes a legal adult in the U.S. which translates to being able to vote, buy cigarettes and big person consequences if you break the law. In Washington state your probationary driver’s license window has ended. As most teenagers do, my daughter liked to remind me that she was now ‘an adult’ and she had rights and freedoms afforded to her by this magic (and arbitrary) age. I’m slowly marching toward the same experience with her brother (16.5 going on 55) and am flooded with memories of the ‘fun’ these days can hold. NOT.

This is the age where independence is treasured but is not 100% within the control and management of the self professed independence holder. As a parent it looks like this…

The teenager claims adulthood regarding all things they WANT to do. When anything is needed to support this ‘adult’ behavior, they still require your services which can include (but is not limited to)…room and board, food, car, insurance, phone, gas money, etc. It is this jockeying between independence and dependence that can make the observer feel like they are watching a tennis match. The ball will travel back and forth on the whim of your newly minted adult and their latest want/need. These times can be filled with turmoil as your child is sorting out their ‘next’ steps and there is a lot of pressure in this society to figure out college and life work. Poor souls, that is a ton of pressure.

Mikaela chose not to participate in the senior year crunch of college applications and visitations. It wasn’t for her and in that choice, she taught me a lot. She kept telling her father and I that in Europe most kids take a gap year to experience life and contemplate their future. At first, I was stressed that she wasn’t on the SAT/college route. Then I realized how much pressure was off her and us to race against a clock. At 18/19 how do you know what you want to be the rest of your life? Do you really need to go straight to college? I think the answer is ‘it depends.’ Every person is different. In this country, we expect our children to take an SAT prep exam in 10th grade, SATs in 11th grade and apply for college in 12th grade. By the time you graduate from high school, you should know where you want to go to college and what you want to be for the rest of your life. This process works great for some kids. Like a certain approach in curriculum works for some learners. It doesn’t apply to everyone.

Mikaela took her SATs one time. She did not apply to any colleges and decided on a gap year. We supported her 100% and thanks to a very generous and kind friend in the UK, she had a place to call her ‘home base’ for 6 months while overseas. It was a mixed experience for her and overall, I think it was where she got to spread her ‘adult’ wings and fly. There were still the panicked calls home for money due to poor planning. Reminding us, that she still needed us, if only for our monetary support. LOL Her trip was an adventure filled with beautiful places, filling her heart and soul with the beauty of this world. She went to Iceland, Germany, France and Italy (thank you Alison for taking her to the one place she always wanted to visit). She finally experienced her beloved Royal Shakespeare Company (thank you again Alison) and her and I watched the lights twinkle at the Eiffel Tower after a day of touring Paris. Together we also experienced the beauty and gifts of the French countryside thanks to my friend Karen. (Her and her husband were amazing in hosting us and showing us around their new home.) When I look back at this time, I’m so happy she chose this path. It brought her experiences and time to learn and mature. Even though she was ‘separating’ from us into her own life, there was still a love and need for us in her world. My reminder was when I first saw her in King’s station, after 5 months apart, she saw me and ran full speed, jumped into my arms, wrapping her whole body around me. That was one of the best hugs of my life. Her inner wisdom knew what she needed, or her brain just desperately wanted to get as far from home as possible. Either way it was how she chose to travel between these two positions at this passage in her life, moving from dependence to independence. She fluctuated back and forth between the two slowly moving more and more towards the independence.

How we move through grief and loss of a beloved isn’t dissimilar to the 18 year old seeking independence. We are ready to be finished with our ‘dependence’ on the mourning and sadness, we want to be emancipated from these emotions and experience. Yet, there is a part of us that requires going through the process, to experience and honor it. We need both. My dear Helen was explaining one of the grief models to me yesterday as I yammered on about my challenges. I will try to explain it here without butchering what she taught me. As we move through grief, we tend to vacillate between sitting in the sadness/heaviness of it and then we move into the space of regeneration and hope. The desire is to move back and forth between these two places throughout our healing journey. Thank you, Helen, for being an amazing teacher to me.

Here is what it looks like in my world after reflecting on this teaching. If we stay in one of those places for a long time, either the weight of sadness or the space of hope we can miss the opportunity to process our grief and find ways through the loss. In other words, avoidance or sinking into the darkness can create its own additional challenges. Putting the sadness, heaviness and weight behind a vault of locked doors doesn’t help to slowly disperse the emotions. If buried indefinitely, those emotions can come back in other forms and manifest new and unique sets of challenges. If we can go in and out of those emotions, finding a bit of reprieve and relief on occasion, it can help us to gain a little perspective and allow us the room to catch our breath. This is where I have to repeat the words I often say to myself. There is no right or wrong way to move through grief. There is your way.

If I allow myself to sink into the darkness too far, I’m always petrified I won’t come back up for air. The darkness will permeate my being and I will become one with the devastating pain that runs through my cells. This would serve no one, especially me, despite the enchanting siren song which steadily attempts  to bring me in closer. Like the pendulum swings, so do I. Back and forth between these two ways of being. At the same time, I’m trying to hold my arms steady and strong around the ones I love the most. As we all continue to walk this path of loss together. Always reminded, as a mother, my nature is not to relinquish myself to the darkness but instead to stand, firmly grounded on this earth and keep holding and loving my people. Some days that is much harder than others. This past week, I’m finding it harder than I anticipated to hold myself in check while also holding space for them.

Once again, I’m brought to my knees. With humility and surrender asking for something larger than me to hold this container for us all. At a time when I don’t have the strength to do it. When I’m struggling between my own 40 something year old version of independence and dependence. At the crossroads of life, asking to hear the heart centered words, to be shown the ceremonies, and be given more tools to help my beloveds and myself to keep walking. Honoring the pendulum swings and seeking to walk through the hardest things we have been shown.

Life seems to keep presenting varying permutations of similar patterns to guide our learning, refining and growing. It is a gift to learn from our closest and most loved, even when that can also bring the hardest lessons. When we love deeply, we are more exposed to the potential grief and pain that can come from those connections. We also can learn in the most profound ways that are inaccessible by other means.

Welcome to life! Try, even when you are petrified and have no energy to take another step. It may be the best thing you ever did.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Wishes, Hopes & Dreams…we are more alike than not

On April 19th, 2011 Mikaela became a licensed driver. On March 11th, 2019 Keenaan followed in her footsteps. Following in my footsteps, she got her license the day she turned 16. I’m sure Keenaan would have been on the same trajectory had our lives not blown up last March. This got me thinking about the hopes and dreams we hold for our offspring. It is impossible not to be filled with these feelings when your child is placed in your arms for the first time. You wonder who they will become as they grow. Praying for their safety and their happiness. Working to ensure they grow to be positive contributing members to their community and our society overall. That they are kind and well natured, polite and respectful. We look forward to the milestones while simultaneously jockeying with the emotions that come with them reaching these moments. It means they are growing up. It is like being in an emotional pin ball machine. Never quite sure of what you will hit and what will be triggered. We all wish the very best for our children.

When Keenaan drove ahead of me on Tuesday morning, as the light turned and he made it, but I didn’t, a feeling returned. A familiar emotion that was only felt at one other point in my life. It was a mix of sadness with a touch of fear and disbelief as I watched my child drive away. This child, once held in my arms, now driving a heavy piece of machinery down a road, into the crazy world where I could no longer protect him. The whole time this is occurring, I’m speaking to some unseen power and asking to please keep this child safe. Hoping that we provided all of the tools needed to remain intact and successful in this one activity. In Keenaan’s case he was driving into the sunrise and I simply sat at the light, dumbstruck by the emotions that decided to return without any warning. When I experienced this with Mikaela, I promise I didn’t give it as much thought and I also remember the emotions like it was yesterday.

This moment reminded me to be grateful for all the milestones I have seen and experienced with both of my children. Life is hard at best some days and we need reasons to celebrate and rejoice in the good things that happen. We aren’t guaranteed the next memorable moment and it is easy to take for granted that we will. The world is filled with sadness and the deep wounding. This heaviness is cutting away at the fabric that holds us together. It goes beyond my child dying. It is about the future of our children, all of them. Even if you don’t have children, my guess is you have young people in your life that you care about. Ones that you want to see safe, growing up happy, in a world that will nourish them like it has for previous generations. We want the people, who are our future, to get a chance to experience those precious milestones and moments of growth and independence.

When a younger life is lost, part of what goes with them are all of those hopes and wishes that were carried by those who love them. It is another layer of the loss that brings a heaviness to a thought or memory. As I watched Keenaan drive away in the car, I missed being able to talk to Mikaela and share those feelings and that moment. Reminding her of when she did the same thing and how shocked I was to have those waves of feelings engulf me. Her brother hit a milestone and she wasn’t here to celebrate it with us. This is a small example of a tiny but important moment in our lives. Now multiply that moment millions of times.

There are families who are in deep traumatic grief over being gunned down in what should have been their sanctuary of safety. So many hopes, dreams and milestones gone in the seconds it took to pull a trigger. The trauma of their safety being shattered in ways few of us can imagine. This all happened for no other reason than hate. The rhetoric and propaganda that touches every corner of the globe trying to manage and subdue communities by pitting them against each other. It allows for a few to rule because the masses can be managed through fear mongering.

In our homes, we hold love and a preciousness for life, it is our sanctuary. It is the place where we are nurtured, and we care for each other. If we start at home and then allow those ripples to go out into the world, we will see that we have far more in common than not. That we all love our people, we have hopes and dreams for them and we wish to walk through life getting to rejoice and enjoy those special moments together. We are more similar than we are different. The person on the other side, that you are mad at, because the voice through the speaker told you to fear them, they love their families too. Where did we stray and forget about the most important things?

The world won’t be helped or shifted by continuing to see the bad and negative in each other. It will only be healed by us seeing the commonality and the good. This also goes for how we look at the earth that sustains us. Our love for our people can also be turned towards the love of the vessel that allows us to have water, food and shelter. The earth has her own milestones and transitions. The spring equinox is this Wednesday on the full moon. If we take the time to see, watch and listen there is a gift and beauty in these moments aligning. There is a power in the elements that move the tides and shift how all animals behave (even humans). Can we slow down and take those moments to watch, listen and learn?

It is not my intention to preach or make anyone do something. As these words flow forth, they take on their own life and form. This is also something to be grateful for. Even if I’m the only one to heed the teaching. If others gain some little gift from this, then that is a bonus! As I started to write, I remembered the wishes and hopes I have for my children. It began in my heart as part of my grief and loss around all the moments we won’t get to see in Mikaela’s life. Her graduation from UW, then law school, then passing the bar. The possibilities of a marriage and the far-fetched hope for a grandchild (this is where she would roll her eyes and remind me that she wasn’t bought into bringing more children into a crazy, messed up world). By turning inward to see these times and honor them, it also led me down a larger path I hadn’t quite noticed (and many times still don’t see right away). The fact that I’m not alone in my loss of this one precious and splendid soul. There are so many other parents and families that grieve the loss of a loved one. It is hard when anyone we love dies. That hurt is exacerbated by the hopes and dreams that might disappear with the life. The younger the person, the more pronounced this part of loss becomes.

We do not need to grieve alone, we can reach out to each other and hold each other in this space. We can sit as witness to those who are in the depths of the trauma and shock. Holding space for them as they walk an excruciating path that none of us wish upon another. When deaths are preventable, shouldn’t we be moved to action? Shouldn’t we want to stop these things from happening to more people, if we can?  Can we take the time to see our commonality and our shared loves vs. our differences? Taking time to realize that we all start with our families, in our homes, with our wishes, hopes and dreams. Looking forward to those milestones that mark growth, aging and change. There are too many who won’t experience that gift. Perhaps we can help make a difference for the future. For our children, for the earth, for each other.

Keeping sanctuaries safe and our communities turning toward each other in love and kindness vs. hate and fear.

Helping our children and others achieve those dreams and breath life into those wishes.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment