The flags clanked and rattled against the poles behind me in the Autumn wind restless like I was wandering in my sleeplessness. I became dazzled by the light from the dock floating over the water creating a haze. My eyes adjusted and granted me permission to acknowledge the texture of the trees on the hill across the river and over the island to find only the slow freight trudging along the mountain; a gentle hum sharing in my loneliness.
To have the world we want, we must be willing to ask for it.
The reason there is a Part 2 to this post is because I did not post Part 1 when I wrote it. I decided after that I needed to take steps, to challenge myself and the ideas I had just written. I forced myself to be vulnerable.
The day after I wrote that, I decided to make plans with a dear friend I was missing desperately. Things had been strained between us and I not only missed, but needed him. It’s hard for me to face my fears when it comes to personal relationships. When I love someone, my heart grows desperate if I feel my truth could hurt them. Instead I shut it in and stuff it down, which I do not recommend. It can come in handy as a pause, but it’s terrible as an emotional habit.
What happened was profound. We are both in new places in our lives. The reaction I was afraid of did not exist and a warm and open heart is what I got. For the first time in years I felt that he heard me. He didn’t question me and didn’t make me feel bad. In fact it was quite the opposite and I felt that in that moment got my best friend back. I am so grateful.
That same week, I made a difficult phone call based on the reaction of a colleague. I made my concerns known with compassion and openness, and again…I was heard. I set up a call with a treasured friend who I wanted to talk to, but was afraid to share the pain I was feeling with. I didn’t want to burden her and have her think I was being dramatic. I had avoided the call for weeks. When we spoke the relief flooded and she assured me that if I ever needed to just cry, I was welcome to.
We all go through our own personal chaos. The lucky ones were taught that no one can do it alone, they ask for what they need and though it’s still hard as shit, knowing you’re not alone gets you through. Unfortunately for many of us it’s not like that. Some force the chaos on others, some blame the world and others squelch it down into the deepest part of their bones (that would be me by the way) hoping it will somehow disappear. This is even harder for people who have spent their lives needing to be strong. Thinking it weak to ask for help or simply say I need you now because I’m not strong enough alone.
Somewhere in my life I learned that to cry, to be exposed, to allow others to see that I am not perfect or as together as so many think I am; it makes me weak. What writing Part 1 showed me was my reflection. I had to see myself and ask if I am actually asking for what I need or sharing my truth. What am I actually saying? I realized that more often than not, I am the one to change the subject. I don’t want to talk about myself…or should I say, expose myself. I am uncomfortable if I think the other person is uncomfortable. I assume they do not want to hear the negative. In some cases, I’m sure that’s true but not as often as I have allowed myself to believe.
In reality what I am learning is that I do want to be seen, and not for the person people think I am, for the person who I actually am. I am a strong, intelligent woman whose soul requires being a part of a community. I am an artist who loves to collaborate, and leader who wants to learn as much as she teaches. I am a human being, like all others, who is imperfect and afraid and I will fight for the courage to be okay with it all, however long that takes.
Finding the truth is the only way to move forward.
I was watching the inspirational Brenè Brown on Super Soul Sunday (my happy addiction), as usual I was moved but, this time I had a different take. She discussed how people rarely talk about their journey when they’re down, it’s after the fact; which though inspiring, often in the end, after we’ve tried following their advice or walked a similar path and failed, we are disappointed both with the world and with ourselves. It’s easier to share what we have been through when we have made it to the other side, but what about when you truly question if you’ll get there. This profoundly made me consider where I am in my life right now.
What I am realizing is that I want to talk about it now as it’s happening, to share my fear, the struggle and the triumph. In Rising Strong, Brene says we as a people look away, and sadly, it’s true. I’ve found all too often when people ask, how are you? They either don’t really want to know, or they cannot handle the reality of what you want to share. More than once when I have been going through something, someone I know will see it in me and ask how I am or if I’m okay. The response is often unsettling. More than once I have worked to put aside my lack of trust to be vulnerable, hoping to be heard. What all too often happens is quite honestly painful.
1. The person shifts subjects as you tell them that you’re struggling and moves on as if they had never asked the initial question 2. They jump in and rant how shitty the world is (and in turn tell me all their issues, often negating mine), or 3. Though well intentioned, they are determined to be hyper positive. They want to fix it, make it all better, and give me all the answers that quite honestly often there is no answer to. All of these responses tend to make me either no longer want share my actual truth or make me feel as if they don’t really want to hear it. Sadly I know that I have been this person too and I want to change.
To listen, to hear with compassion and love, that’s what I want. It’s what we all want, to be heard. It’s the person I want to be, and I’m working on it. I’m nostalgic for my childhood and college friendships. The long nights talking about anything and everything, wholeheartedly enveloped in and committed to one another’s lives. It gets hard when we realize that most friends cannot be this for us. I have so many friends, all of whom I love dearly and many who I know love me. But this is rare.
I ask myself, what I am doing differently or wrong. Is this just the way relationships work now? Did I miss something? I certainly hope not. Perhaps we are all just afraid to share and make ourselves vulnerable in this unpredictable world. Maybe that is what this time of technology has taught us. Stay safe, type it don’t say it; read it don’t hear it. If it’s at a distance it can’t hurt me. I really do wonder. All I can do is work on me and hope that I find in myself the will and commitment to rebuild these ideals, to make such closeness real again.
There are no cracks, only well worn paths.
Forgiveness: Peaceful Surrender
I am moved by the wind. How it recites to me in whimsy the colors of the sunset, the secrets of the trees. I often laugh as it shares the giddiness of its antics; toying with the birds pushing them back as they labor forward then toppling trash cans and blaming raccoons. There is so much to learn if one eavesdrops thoughtfully and observes her variance. It takes patience to understand her divergent ways and I embrace each distinction. It fuels me on a quiet day. It satisfies me when I am lost.
I woke up today, did my yoga, took my shower, had my oatmeal and my luscious rich morning coffee. The air was perfect. A slight breeze wafted through the windows and the sun glared just high enough on the glass to glow but not shock my eyes. There was a healthy silence; one saturated with calming energy and a peaceful fullness.
My husband wandered in with his coffee and sat down next to me. He took a deep breath and we smiled in a silent understanding then closed our eyes for just 5 more minute before we had to start our busy days.
These are the times I acknowlege the gift of my new home, the comfort of my couch and the security I have built in my life.
Walking down the village main street of Cold Springs. It smells like vacation: a faint scent of firewood and river tides. That sticky cotton candy smell a dropped ice cream cone gives after sitting hours in the August sun. An Elvis tribute artist plays at the Silver Spoon Cafe drawing us back to simpler days. There’s an air of excitement. Fireworks tomorrow; I envision children running up and down the street with sparklers as energetic mutts chase their tails.
I smile silently. My heart is quiet, beating softly as we hold hands like high school kids just discovering the twinges and jitters of true love. By the river’s edge he points to look up, the stars reel quickly toward the horizon. We watch as they disappear in the distance one by one behind the silhouette of the Storm King hills. Our closeness is silent, our lives content.
“How we explain that when someone is cruel, or acts like a bully, you don’t stoop to their level. No, our motto is: When they go low, we go high.”
First Lady, Michelle Obama
Quite often I choose to not discuss anything political here, but the reality is is that something amazing has happened. We have elected Hillary Clinton, the first woman, to serve on a presidential ticket! Can you image what it will be like to have a black man then a woman consecutively in office?! What would this say about America? I believe it would signify that we are still great, that we are still #strongertogether and the we are still the land of opportunity.
Whatever your politics the atmosphere of the DNC serves America far better than the hateful rhetoric of the RNC. I agree we are not a perfect nation, we can’t be; it is run by humans and humans are flawed. They make mistakes…all of them. However I find it outlandishly hypocritical that Hillary Clinton is dragged through the streets as a liar, while Trump stands on his podium spouting lies, hatred and hypocrisies, but somehow he is the “change” we need?! What is wrong with people.
I also very much understand that Bernie people are upset, but as he himself said in an interview after his speech, “It is easy to boo, but it’s harder to look your kids in the face who would be living under Donald Trump”. The reality is that if one chooses not to vote or to vote for a candidate that they know for a fact will not only lose, but take votes away from the best candidate…they ARE voting for Trump! This is the reality Bernie is trying to convey. He said, “You fought and you won a seat at the table. We have to act like we have that seat, and using it and using our power and stop acting like we’ve been shut out”.
So political notions aside, what I want to do is point out two absolutely amazing speeches. Michelle Obama is the quintessential woman; smart, compassionate, strong and inspiring. Her words brought tears to my eyes as I sat watching. She spoke out without insults, she made commentary without naming names. She did all this with style, class and the full on confidence of a woman who has gained the respect of a nation. If you haven’t seen the speech watch it here . Here is an except.
“And look, there were plenty of moments when Hillary could have decided the work was too hard, that the price of public service was too high, that she was tired of being picked apart for how she looks, or how she talks, or even how she laughs. But here’s the thing. What I admire most about Hillary is that she never buckles under pressure. She never takes the easy way out. And Hillary Clinton has never quit on anything in her life. And when I think about the kind of president that I want for my girls, and all of the children, that’s what I want. I want someone with the proven strength to persevere. Someone who knows this job and takes it seriously. Someone who understands that the issues the president faces are not black and white and cannot be boiled down to 140 characters.
Look, because … because when you have the nuclear codes at your fingertips and the military in your command, you can’t make snap decisions. You can’t have a thin skin or a tendency to lash out. You need to be steady and measured and well informed. I want a president with a record of public service, someone whose life work shows us and shows our children that we don’t chase fame and fortune for ourselves, we fight to give everyone a chance to succeed. And we give back, even when we’re struggling ourselves, because we know that there’s always someone worse off. And there but for the grace of God, go I.
I want a president who will teach our children that everyone in this country matters. A president who truly believes in the vision that our founders put forth all those years ago, that we are all created equal, each a beloved part of the great American story. And when a crisis hits, we don’t turn against each other. No, we listen to each other, we lean on each other. Because we are always stronger together. And I am here tonight because I know that that is the kind of president that Hillary Clinton will be. And that’s why in this election, I’m with her.”
First Lady, Michelle Obama
Second, another amazing speech to remind us what America truly is was Corey Booker. I missed the actual viewing that night so I was not susceptible to the rambunctious crowd. Instead I was able to read the transcript without disruption. His words are truly powerful.
“I respect and value the ideals of rugged individualism and self-reliance. But rugged individualism didn’t defeat the British, it didn’t get us to the moon, build our nation’s highways, or map the human genome. We did that together.
This is the high call of patriotism. Patriotism is love of country. But you can’t love your country without loving your countrymen and countrywomen. We don’t always have to agree, but we must empower each other, we must find the common ground, we must build bridges across our differences to pursue the common good.
We can’t devolve into a nation where our highest aspiration is that we just tolerate each other. We are not called to be a nation of tolerance. We are called to be a nation of love. Tolerance says I am just going to stomach your right to be different. That if you disappear from the face of the earth, I am no better or worse off.
But love – love knows that every American has worth and value, no matter what their background, race, religion, or sexual orientation. Love recognizes that we need each other, that we as a nation are better together, that when we are divided we are weak, we decline, yet when we are united we are strong – invincible!”
US Senator, Corey Booker
I cannot help but be moved when I think about how young men and women of all colors are now able to see the world. I think about Chelsea Clinton and the Obama girls growing up in the White House. The experiences they have had at such a young age. The idea that their dad, a black man, was president and now a mom and more importantly, a women. This is an age to be proud not divided. It’s #strongertogether.
Well I guess by now you can see, #imwithher !!!