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Monday, September 29, 2014

Extraordinary Life (aka, things I learned from my second divorce)




These are the things I wish I'd known or been able to tell my newly-divorced self a couple of years ago:

-There are things you could have done and things you did do that didn't make a difference. In the end, it would have been the same no matter what you did. You do not always have that kind of power over situations or hearts. Sometimes, it is the other person's issues that you are taking on, or their messages about your worth. Besides, the pursuit of being "good enough" for someone is an aimless and unworthy pursuit in life.

-It gets better with time. There was a time when I could not even LOOK at an intact family without having to excuse myself from whatever it was I was doing and go cry. Yes, seeing families made me cry, with a dad's arm around mom or asking her what she wanted him to do with a kiss to her forehead for comfort. I didn't want to lose my family, or even the dreams and illusions I had of what that should look like. But that passed, and I am much better now. My family is what it is, and we are a single-mom family.


-You can't make a person: love you, like you, be aware of themselves, apologize, care, accept you, acknowledge you, value you, tell the truth, respect you, hear you, hold you, listen to you, make peace, make amends, feel remorse, stand up for you, want to be married to you, put in an effort, be compassionate, support you, do what they say they will do, be who they say they are, recognize how they have hurt you. These behaviors are a choice. You cannot MAKE anyone do these things for you, and their choice not to is a good indication of what they are able to offer you (hint: not much.). (This goes for ex-family, too. If tempted to engage with them again, remind yourself it only brings more hurt).

-People who are shut off like that inspire in me an urge to explain, persuade, and prove my worth. See above. That is no longer where I need to put my efforts in life and I am sad that I got sucked into that kind of situation, that most unworthy of pursuits.

-Chances are your gut instincts were right. And are still right.

-healing takes a long time, and anger lingers for a longer period of time than you are comfortable with. You still have to travel that path, learn what you need to, and know that a commitment to spiritual healing is absolutely vital. Divorce, especially the second time around, is deep pain on so many levels. It causes you to grapple with humanity and suffering and meaning in your life. It hurts. It sucks. You loved deeply, and you cared about your family and marriage. That deserves ALL the energy and ALL the emotions that come with sincere healing.

-You can maybe compete with another woman, but you cannot compete with a man's mother. If he did not stand up for you to his mother, that is just sad. Lesson learned.

-Rejection can be a gift. If you have been living a half-life and are forcefully booted out of it, then a whole-life is waiting for you, and it is never too late to have an extraordinary life. Now you have the freedom to do it. No, you are not too old, too broken, too worn out by love, too caught in the wringer. You can start now, and your life will be full of grace.

-control is not love, love does not hurt, and walking on eggshells is not a normal state for a happily married woman. It's true. This should help you get over him.

-it is possible to be grateful for those who have deeply hurt you and it is possible to forgive without having any closure (or hearing apologies). Forgiving heals your soul, them apologizing heals theirs. Here'd the catch, though: you can only heal your own soul. Quit expecting people to do things they are incapable of doing. Make the apologies you need to make and then move forward. So much grace is to be found in this type of gratitude!


-Men, or a special man, will come along and show you what the other side can look like. You will have the time of your life and laugh raucously again for the first time in years. You will be treated with respect...like a queen! Your heart will fire up when you thought it was dead. You will feel more alive and loved in those moments than you have in years. You will even begin to hope and (gasp!) love again. You are not permanently damaged and you do not hate men because of your experience. No, it will not "take a crowbar to open your heart" again, even though you go around saying that all the time (stop that!). You will realize too that you DO have things to offer a man. Wonderful things. Because love and joy and lightness are your natural states, your birthrights, you will absolutely reclaim who you are, and then some.

Now go, have a splendid, extraordinary life!
(and by the way, it's my mother's birthday: Happy Birthday to the best mom ever! AND it's Michaelmas. For further reading: http://imagineself.com/2014/09/discerning-dragons-michaelmas/)



Saturday, September 20, 2014

Video Share

I love everything about this video! I hope you do too...thanks to a friend for passing it along.
http://www.ted.com/talks/margaret_wertheim_crochets_the_coral_reef?language=en#t-705121

Friday, September 19, 2014

Untangling

One of my capacities is that of untangling. Give me a free moment and the worst pile of knotted threads or yarn that you've ever seen and I will patiently, and somewhat obsessively untangle it. Given the amount of personal insecurity I deal with and the strength of my internal critic, this is one thing I have to hold on to: the ability to attend to and make sense of.
For you see, untangling yarn requires an inordinate amount of patient attention. It is frustrating to be dealt a situation that on the surface, appears impossible. There are many who will not even try to untangle yarn. It is easy to start and give up...it might take months, or years. It will get in the way, and it will be an eyesore of a mess until it is cleaned up.

But give it patient attention and time, and it will start to become less chaotic, smaller. The initial knots must be followed back through the mess and found. Once you have found the source of the knot, or multiple sources, a snowball effect happens. Bring movement and energy to that knot, ask it with your fingers...gently, never forcing. Then, once that is out of the way, the rest of the winding up happens smoothly and quickly.
It can take some time to find your way to that knot, and many times the scissors and trash can are tempting options. But I am stubborn and will not use scissors unless I absolutely have to.
Relationships are like this too. They become knotty, tangled, chaotic. They look impossible to resolve. And many are, and do need scissors. Yet I think what it takes is two people who are willing to follow the thread through to the knot...the tenderest, most tangled, impossibly stubborn place, the place that is holding them back. Once the knot is found and brought to light, it takes incredible patience, asking when what you want to do is tell what to do, and tidying up the chaos. A sincere apology whispered over the knot, a holding of hearts in love, a deliberate placing aside of anger, a conversation full of remorse and even fuller of care for the relationship...these loosen their hold on the threads.
I've seen this method of taming thread on Pinterest. My students love it and it is easy for them to handle. Here, it looks like a mummy!

Transforming is another option. Sometimes a playful re-configuring of the tangled mess is called for (picture coming this weekend!). Sometimes the scissors can be used to prune that which no longer serves the relationship. Take scissors to it, and you can still make something of beauty by adding to it, bringing in the right resources, forgiving and starting over. The thread can't be used in the traditional sense, but it can be used for beauty nonetheless. A playful, think-on-your-feet improvisation can work wonders.
This is my bare minimum standard now for relationship, given my experience. I think women are certainly cultured to give more in a relationship, but why should a man not have or be given the chance to cultivate patient perseverance and courage to face and untangle knots with us? Not the one who so easily gives up and discards you, makes more of a tangled mess, then blames you. The one who sits and cries with you while you grieve and search in your life and makes whole and makes good. That is the one who loves.
I heard once that love is "to stay with". To me, that doesn't necessarily mean a literal "staying with". It means a being present to, a curiosity, a loving compassion towards each other. Where we bring our love, knots untangle.

For further reading:
http://rachel-castagne.wholelifewholeworld.com/2011/02/24/skeleton-woman-the-life-death-life-cycle-of-relationships/
http://candidsparrow.com/2010/12/06/the-skeleton-woman-an-inuit-story/
Before a girl could get married in my village she had to prove that she was patient enough for the task,” she told me. “They would give her a bundle of tangled yarn,” she would say, as we would struggle to untangle wool, or rope or extension cords. She told the story as she wound yarn into balls for knitting. “If she could not untangle the yarn, she could not get married.” I remember that story every time I have something to untangle. I would never settle for a village marriage, but patience is a skill applied to any task worthy of completion. (http://emmarosenthal.wordpress.com/2011/03/08/for-international-womens-day/)

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Ladies, Ladies, Ladies

I told you I was going to write a social blog post, and here it is.
Recently a friend on Facebook posted this:

To the young men I have fallen in love with in the past: It is my fault for believing everything you said, for words are meaningless without follow-through. It has been an assumption of mine that being motivated leads to success/happiness. However, without commitment & discipline, motivation stays in the mind...there must be practice. As with most people I meet, I believed in you more than you believed in yourself. I was never put first - by you or by me.

Moving forward: I am my number one, and forever will be. I will keep myself open to the universe's possibilities, but some of these walls are staying up for healthy measure. I still believe humans have limitless potential. However, if you have not accomplished at least one of your major life goals, don't waste either our time.

(credit goes to Heather Marcus-way to go!)

Just as recently I saw someone I used to know with a man. She put her arm around him while he coolly held his beer. She kissed him on the neck. She held his hand because he didn't take hers. He was cool and aloof, daring not to reciprocate any of her overtures. She was into him; he was using her.
That someone was me at one time, acting in complete and total deference to a man. My preferences were his preferences. I believed he was what he said he was. I loved the thought that I wasn't good enough for him and that I now had a goal, and he had a goal...to correct me, to make me his project. 
What was wrong with me? It isn't just me, either; this is a common occurrence.
WHY oh WHY do we do this?
There are a million articles online about this very topic. But we still don't learn. We don't. 
Where the answer lies is debated among therapists and psychologists, but I believe we do it because it is familiar. They do it because to demean and diminish is familiar. It feels good, chasing, being thrown the occasional crumb that you so desperately long for. Somewhere along the way, we have been taught that this is all we can expect. And men are taught that is all they are capable of giving.  Bad boys, or those who under-function in life keep you on a variable-ratio schedule of reinforcement. It is similar to playing a slot machine. There is the excitement of never knowing if he is going to show up or not, if he is going to do it or not, and then when he does, ooooo, fireworks! A pay-off! And then one day you wake up, pissed off that the lever yields a pay-off less and less. And that you've spent your life savings. And he could care less.
The thing is, when we are on an in-love high, we think we've really got something here. This is it! We've got a catch. This could go on FOREVER. This is great! We excuse bad behavior, because, as Heather said, we believe in HIM more than he believes in HIMSELF. 
The sad reality is that it is just us, staring at the slot machine, taking what we can get, spending more than we have.
Recently I had an epiphany. I had received an email from someone in my life who is a taker, kind of like the guy my friend was dating. In this email, the person was upset that I was not grateful for a crumb they had thrown me after a l o n g time of taking more than they were entitled to take. 
I thought, "I am no longer grateful for crumbs." That used to be me, but it isn't me any more. I will not be grateful for crumbs, because I have more worth and dignity than that.
My therapist gave me a quote: successful people go all the way in. This is so true! If I go into a relationship whole-heartedly, then my partner should, too, at the very least. Crumbs not accepted. Words and actions must match up. 
 The simple truth is, there are men out there that at first, seem trustworthy, but are in reality just prettily packaged bullies. Another simple truth is that we KNOW what we are getting into. There are always signals we ignore, things that tell us something is not quite right, or this is familiar in the way chronically hurtful things are familiar. And yet we choose to ignore those signals, listening instead to our insecurity or fear, or thinking love can fix anything. This does not, however, give them an excuse or a way out. Everyone makes choices, and men who are selfish or hurtful are that way because they choose to be, not because you ignored the signals.
Precious women friends, let's help each other, as sisters, believe in ourselves.
for further reading to help strengthen your sense of self (please overlook the labeling of others if it bothers you, for there is good content in these:
http://goodmenproject.com/sex-relationships/how-to-lose-a-woman-forever/
 http://blog.melanietoniaevans.com/trying-to-make-the-narcissist-accountable-is-keeping-you-hooked/
http://speakoutloud.net/intimate-partner-abuse/are-women-who-live-with-abusive-partners-codependent
http://quozio.com/quote/a55369f8#!t=1006


Sunday, September 7, 2014

Quiet Constructs

Ahhhhh, the pace of our lives picked up considerably. So much is happening all at once. The kids are growing, birthday season is coming, and school for mama and children is in full swing.
Yes, we have a birthday season: 4 birthdays in 3 weeks. It's a great time of year to celebrate loved ones, especially when surrounded by the glory of autumn in Kentucky.
My school is stretching me in ways that are at once stressful and invigorating. It is so nice to be immersed in writing and thought and to remain hungry for learning, and to remember that  I am, in many ways, and despite my insecurities, smart (in other ways, not so much!). My classes this semester include Cultural Anthropology, Lifespan Development, Abnormal Psychology, and Sleep and Dreaming. I am pinching myself a bit for these classes are just so rich and even though I'm losing a lot of sleep to late-night papers, I am loving it.
I have a whole post coming on my soon-to-turn-eleven-year-old. She, too, is changing and growing up in so many ways.
Our days are filled with more busy-ness than I am comfortable with. But it is all good, and this morning I remembered I do have constructs in place to help us remember to breathe, to just be, to express freely. One of those constructs is Sunday morning waffles. It's the only day of the week I get out the waffle maker and make proper waffles. The other construct is the music nook:

Serena and Davis regularly engage in drive-by music making. We have on our piano a jar of recorders, a dulcimer, and a drum. And the piano is in constant use these days. Serena has discovered the minor scale on the piano to the tune of "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen". Every day, "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen". And she plays several songs from school on various recorders; wooden Choroi flutes, penny whistle, and plastic recorders. This morning, I was so grateful for the music in our home, and this little nook that encourages it.
This Sunday morning has blessed us with beautiful weather, and the coolness, a harbinger of seasonal change. I was tired of some pieces in my wardrobe, and so, honoring this relentless drive to transform that lives so faithfully inside of me, I dyed those pieces with indigo. The cure for tired clothing is most certainly indigo.

Indigo on linen and cotton in the sun....surely a pleasurable sight.
But a better sight is that of my imaginative boy:
Happy Sunday friends!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Catch my breath

"Thank you" is my mantra these days. Life is a whirlwind of activity and progress and I'm soaring in the process of finding my voice. I'm loving school and carrying a 4.0, something I never thought I could do. 
I just emerged from a deeply moving women's retreat, and I would like to pause and write about some things that were stirred up, some subjects that have been brewing but that I need to put out there in the interest of bringing some insight and awareness around certain topics, and to encourage a focus on healing. 
I've taken shelter in the fact that this blog holds many facets of my life, but I am feeling the need to streamline a bit. Being in school makes me feel all writer-ly and so forgive me for my awkward practice yet to come but I do have some ideas to put out there and possibly develop into articles. Who knows, I may decide writing is a "thing" for me. 
Speaking of blogging, my poor Waldorf handwork blog has been sorely neglected. It has been on my mind for some time now and I am in the planning stages of bringing more into it. Summer will give me that opportunity.
So after a brief foray into a few social and psychological issues on this blog, I will return to the joy of making things. (also, I have a garden now!)

Monday, May 12, 2014

Thinking, Thinking




Lately, this article has had me thinking. The summary of the article reads:
"When the brain's analytic network is engaged, our ability to appreciate the human cost of our action is repressed, researchers have found. The study shows for the first time that we have a built-in neural constraint on our ability to be both empathetic and analytic at the same time."
You'll have to read the article, which, like many studies, leave more questions to be answered and a rich ground for further discovery and study.
After I read this, I immediately thought of the people who others describe as "being in their head". I do think people who rely too much on the logical network risk becoming repressors and avoid feelings at all costs. What goes along with that are all kinds of negative behaviors, because if you cannot understand or care how your behavior affects another, then you will have a tendency toward behavior that is dishonest, deceitful, or downright harmful to others. Those who rely too much on empathy risk being naive and overly trusting and are taken for granted. Our culture (in a broad, general sense) seems to favor a high level of detachment, and does not know what to do with feelings.
My next thought was education. Could the way children are educated be helping them rely too much on the logical network and not enough on the part of our brains that use empathy?  What if we were all taught and encouraged, as the article says, to be fluid in our use of both parts of our brain: the logical and the empathetic?
 In my work at a Waldorf school, I find that people have different reactions to the Waldorf way of educating children. Often, people think Waldorf is an "art" school,  and therefore not academic enough (I know in other parts of the country this is not the perception). Waldorf schools have an emphasis on teaching children how to think for themselves, and how to truly be in relationship with others. It is a paradigm that is much different from what most of us are used to and art and music and drama are integral parts of Waldorf education. It is a way to develop intellect in a way that does not ignore the heart of a child. I believe studies like this highlight a real strength of Waldorf education, for practicing the arts in a certain way can help us cycle between empathy and logic
(Waldorf education is a long subject and the internet is full of sites extolling its virtues. If you want to know more, start here.) 
This is where education has the capacity to be most healing for our culture.  I once knew a little boy who grew up hearing from a parent, "Logic would dictate..." as a critical way to address his behavior. That parent was right. Logic would dictate, but empathy would understand. .  I wonder how our society would be different if we were taught in our homes, schools, and workplaces, to value this ability to move with fluidity between our heads and our hearts? Developing intellect is easy; empathy, not so much. I feel like developing deep empathy could take me a lifetime. We truly need more empathy in this world.