What Do We Do Now?

It kind of feels like Dumbledore died all over again, and Voldemort has risen.

Sadness, fear, and uncertainty are pervasive, and one question lingers, “what do we do now?” The answer is we do exactly what Harry, Ron, and Hermione did-we hunt horocruxes.

The Republican version of a horocrux isn’t quite as hard to find as those in the JK Rowling series. The life blood of a red states is hatred, division, and lies (mostly lies told to kind, trusting Americans to convince them to support Voldemort). We destroy these with truth, love, and acceptance. Defeat the bad with good.

The trickier part of the hunt comes when faced with actual threats of racial bias, intimidation against those of different sexual orientations, misogyny, religious persecution, and a populace educated with an overkill of mis-information.

“If you see something, say something” takes on an additional meaning going forward. It requires each of us stand up for marginalized citizens being persecuted. Not getting involved is the equivalent of condoning bad behavior.

Remember that the final horocrux presents the biggest challenge. To eradicate bias in another person requires each of us to acknowledge our own bias. None of us is perfect. Everyone has a valid perspective. We can learn a lot from others, especially when their words are not the ones we want to hear.

Take a walk in the other person’s shoes. Send your love before you. Be respectful of all.

Scratch Below the Surface

The other day, my nephew was playing with his Lego figurines. His brow furrowed in concentration as he swapped heads and legs, helmuts and hair. The activity mirrored my niece swapping outfits and shoes on her dolls. Same game, different toys.

It occurred to me that adults focus so much energy highlighting the differences among us. Perhaps, if each of us looked more closely, we might notice more of the ways we are alike.

We all have opposable thumbs and pump red and white cells in our blood. We all cry the same salty tears. Too many tears, lately.

The next time hate, anger, doubt, or fear focuses the attention on what separates us, pause and take a breath. Then, try to note some of the ways we are alike.

Different hair color, eye color, skin color: same fears and insecurities. Different religion, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status: same hopes and dreams.

Scratch below the surface, and recognize we are all human.

Mother’s Day Perspective

It’s Mother’s Day, but Hallmark doesn’t make a card for the children who don’t have June Cleaver for a mother. I am one of them.

I remember growing up both confused and awed by the close relationship some of my friends held with their moms. At the time, I couldn’t appreciate how my mom endured sickness, injury, tantrums, and the selfish, ungrateful energy from her four children. She packed picnics, wiped snot, threw parties, swabbed skinned knees, offered encouragement, and restricted empty calories often without a thank you from anyone. I took without giving back. I pushed, tested, and undermined, as my mom struggled.

It’s never too late to say thank you. My mother was far from perfect, but she gave me a gift of immeasurable value. She shared with me a blueprint of life’s pitfalls:

Do not let alcohol take over your life.

Do not use others as an excuse.

Do not say one thing and do another.

Do not double down and dig in when you know you are in the wrong.

Do not focus on the negative.

I spent my early years being afraid of my alcoholic mother while simultaneously mirroring her. Like a crystal ball, her mistakes showed me my future life.  Eventually, I paid attention and quit drinking. I learned to take responsibility, tell the truth, and apologize sincerely. Most importantly, I learned to be grateful. I learned to focus on the good, and find the silver lining during hard times.

Now I practice how to embrace love rather than be swallowed by fear.

As an adult, I witness children challenging their parents, and I understand how my mother’s insecurities plagued her, how her children and husband undermined her, and how her negative mindset fed the depression that pushed her further into darkness, away from the perfect person she so longed to be.

My mother died seven years ago, and I am grateful that in death she found peace.

Winter Appreciation

For many, winter storm Juno has been a bust (sorry friends in NYC), but in coastal Massachusetts, we surpassed forecasted snowfall totals thanks to colder than expected temperatures. Fifteen inches so far, and it is still falling.

Normally, the short days, gray skies, and frigid, blustery winds create an unshakable chill in my bones and a strong dislike of winter. However, as part of my goal to “focus on the positive,” I’m sharing things I appreciate about winter.

For example, this morning, the wind crusted snow into the window screens. I can’t see outside, and I giggle like a kid hiding in a snow cave. I hear the storm outside, but I only see it when I open the sliding glass door.

I know tomorrow the rays of sun will peel the snow off the screens allowing me to witness the bright white world. The air will be clear, crisp, and quiet as our thick covering of sparkling ice crystals absorbs the sounds.

We’ve also had a fair share of winter reprieve days when temperatures climb above freezing and hold there until dusk. On these days, I lace up my shoes and run outside. The wind not even a whisper as I peel off my gloves & zip down my outer layer, smiling the entire time.

Even days of mixed frozen precipitation leave a little miracle behind. Last week, the rain froze on roads, fields, and trees, but after the clouds cleared, the sunlight sparkled liked diamonds on the frozen surfaces-a brilliant peace offering, or perhaps, an apology.

I love that with the leaves off the trees, I can hear the the gentle lapping of the waves against the shore down the street.

I love the delicate light at dawn, that maintains its softness until just before night.

I love the clear, crisp freshness of the air with an enhanced smell of salt from the sea.

I love to curl up on the couch after dinner, and read a book in front of the roaring fire.

In fact, that sounds like a great way to spend today!

Live, love, & appreciate, even in wintertime.

Not Fade Away

On Saturday, his face, his smile, his laugh all filled my mind. I didn’t wonder about it, the approaching anniversary of his departure was a logical trigger, but today he appeared in the street, as if he’d been here all along, instead of moving six states away two years ago.

I paused. Was it a mirage? No. If I imagined it, I would visualize myself with combed hair and better clothes. Unable to fix my appearance, I walked over to say hello.

He looked great, as always, but also happier and more relaxed than when we said goodbye. His prior disposition undoubtedly being partially my fault. He came back this weekend for a wedding, and will be gone tomorrow. I rambled, of course. It can’t be helped in this kind of situation, but I’m pretty sure I avoided saying anything stupid or embarrassing.

Hours later, I’m still reeling. I had important things to do this afternoon, but instead, I went for a swim. Now it’s getting late. I should have dinner, but my mind is distracted, searching for the key that unlocks a different ending for us. I’ve missed him since the day he left, and our three minutes of idle chit chat today only served to remind me.

Two years ago, he gave me a silver pendant on a chain. One side a compass, the other an anchor. Back then, I thought he was the anchor, providing stability in an uncertain situation.      I was the compass. Later, I realized the truth. I remained anchored here while his compass pointed him somewhere else. After six months, I undid the clasp and put it away.

Today, I put the necklace on again, just for a day…or two.

Have a Heart

I recently told a friend of mind that being positive is a choice.

This declaration came after he spent three hours ranting about the terrible things that make up this world. He highlighted the many things there are to fear, and mistakes people in power make.

I used to spent my time and energy thinking about what was wrong, rather than appreciating goodness, love, and beauty in the world. Since shifting my focus, I’ve noticed hearts appearing everywhere.

Heart large

I find heart shaped rocks on the beach, and pick them up. I have a nice collection going.

   heart shaped rock pile

I take pictures of heart shaped puddles left after the rain,)heart puddle

…and heart shaped knots in wood.

Heart shaped woodknot

Every time I see a heart, I smile

I’m smiling a lot these days.

heartshaped rock inside

I compared my friend, who was choosing to be negative, to Darth Vader. Then, I suggested he search for his inner Luke Skywalker. Love is inside us all. Realize that, and you will see it everywhere.

Love Everyday

 

I don’t acknowledge February 14. Upon hearing this blasphemous slight against St. Valentine, some identify me as a bitter old maid. Possibly true, but my distrust of this Hallmark holiday actually began way back when the meaning behind a Valentine had nothing to do with romance. Starting in second grade, construction paper hearts, and candy imprinted “Be mine” were currency in the popularity market. Where was the LOVE?

 

Even after I was old enough to date, the popularity contest continued. Who got the biggest box of chocolate? Who got the most beautiful roses? And despite flowers or chocolate, the effort made by whichever poor schmuck I happened to be dating felt so forced, staged, OBLIGATORY. Would any one of them have considered such overt wooing another time?

 

 

So, it’s not that I hate love. In fact, my love of LOVE is precisely why I’m opposed to Valentine’s Day. Everyday should be about sharing love. Each of us should be encouraged to express love in unique, individual, personal ways 365 days a year. Designating a single day to be in love where flowers and chocolate are mandatory has two outcomes: A) It excludes the relationship challenged, and B) It requires couples to conform to cliché versions of romance. Valentines Day robs LOVE of its pure and honest simplicity.

 

 

Love ends up being quantified in dollars which makes no sense 😦

 

 

Until I experience a heartfelt demonstration of pure love that happens to fall on February 14, I will not acknowledge the day as special. I will not post cutesie messages on Facebook. I will not dine at restaurants with special price fixed menus for two. I won’t wear red or pink. I will watch movies about love on another day. I will eat the little candy hearts after they go on sale, and I will cut perfect heart shapes out of paper next Tuesday…but until we learn to love everyday, I’m boycotting February 14.

 

Fireflies

I’ve been thinking a lot about fireflies. Like most children, I chased after them on warm summer nights collecting them carefully in between my cupped palms and placing them in a jar which I kept by my bed. When I woke up in the morning, they were always dead. You would think I’d figure out that trapping them in a jar makes for an unhappy ending, but I’m impulsively possessive. Logic takes a vacation when it comes to something I covet. THIS time will be different, I tell myself. THIS time the fireflies will be alive and happy to see me when I wake up.

I’m not sure exactly what age I stopped chasing fireflies, but I’d guess it was around the same time I started chasing boys. Funny how I made the same mistakes. I was pretty good at capturing them, but once they were mine, I held on too tight, and woke up disappointed. Any guesses on how long it took me to realize the problem and take steps to correct it? The light bulb came on last week. Thirty years of self sabotage. Okay, that is not fair, I’ve recognized the problem for at least ten years, but the voice in my head always offered the false assurance, THIS time will be different.

I heard that voice again last weekend as I stared into beautiful blue eyes that sparkled with light like a firefly. Instantly, I was transported to a field in early summer feeling warm, safe, and happy. I smile now thinking about the time we spent together and a familiar voice whispers in my head, THIS time might REALLY be different, but I know better. THIS time, I call out the flaws in my past logic, and tread cautiously with an eye toward survival for both of us. If this relationship gets messed up, I promise myself it won’t be because I trapped him until he couldn’t breathe. THIS one will fly freely as I calmly enjoy each moment, and if I remember correctly, when you are patient and trusting, the firefly comes to you.

10 Things…

 

Inspired by the movie “10 Things I Hate About You” (Julia Stiles, Heath Ledger, Joseph Gordon-Levitt), I’ve created my own 10 things list:

 

 

I hate it when you lie.

 

I hate that I let you, instead of asking why

 

 

I hate that you left, and went far away.

 

I hate that nothing I said could make you stay.

 

 

I hate that you bring out my worst when you’re near,

 

I hate acting like a brat, but still wish you were here.

 

 

I hate that you won’t talk, or reply when I write,

 

I hate being alone night after night.

 

 

I hate that it’s all decided, and I don’t get a vote.

 

I hate that you will never read what I wrote.

 

Insights on Love From my Resume

 

I’ve had a lot of jobs, but I’ve never been fired from one. Each time I choose to leave (and my boss tries to convince me to stay), I feel a little guilty, but I also know it is time to move on. Sounds like a guy ending a relationship, doesn’t it? I thought so too, which is how I matched up my relationship heartbreaks with reasons I’ve given for leaving behind perfectly good jobs…

 

Guy’s perspective on the end of the relationship: It was never meant to be a long term thing

 

The job I left for this reason: packing and shipping

 

 

Guy’s perspective: We’ve outgrown each other

 

Job I left: Retail

 

 

Guy’s perspective: My plans are in motion. We could’ve been great together, but I have to go.

 

Job I left: Moved back East instead of taking bank job in San Francisco

 

 

Guy’s Perspective: You demand too much of my time & put too much pressure on me.

 

Job I left: Accounting

 

 

Guy’s Perspective: I don’t get you. I never know what’s coming. This is too stressful.

 

Job I left: Juvenile Detention

 

 

Guy’s Perspective: It used to be mellow and fun, but now we fight all the time.

 

Job I Left: Non-Profit

 

 

Now, if I can just find the right job, then maybe there is hope that the right guy is be out there, too….