A couple of weeks ago, a wrote a letter. Not an ultimatum. More of an eviction notice–an eviction from my life, my frame of reference, my agenda. I held off sending it because I wanted to be sure I was doing the right thing. Don’t get me wrong, I am right. Nothing in this letter is untrue or unfair or even mean. It’s thoughtful and clear and, yes, even kind.
I shared this letter with some friends who I trust to give me a balanced insight and advice. “Send it,” they said. Even the super-zen, the Devil’s advocates, the ‘hold out for the best’ said, “It’s about time.”
I still haven’t. I decided to wait until tonight. To give a full two weeks for myself and the other party to consider and for some other options to emerge. Tonight, I re-read it. In some ways, I am ready to send it. I am pretty sure that it’s the right thing to do. There comes a point where accommodating becomes self-sacrifice and then self-sacrifice becomes self-destruction.
But I can’t send it. My meditations keep coming back to the principle of doing nothing rather than doing something destructive, of the gentle over the incisive. Right as I may be, taking this step feels like a departure from my spiritual practice.
Or maybe that’s just an excuse, and the opposite is true. Perhaps I am still attached to the outcome I had hoped for. Perhaps I am afraid that I might drop this bombshell and realizing that it wasn’t the right thing to do.
Both AJ and I have been stricken with the latest allergy/cold thing–that leaves one feeling fine but coughing like a severe asthmatic with emphysema who smokes two packs a day–since Sunday. So, in place of a coherent, non-sleep-deprived-or-drug-affected piece, I offer these occasionally-ever-so-slightly-whiny snippets:
Voicing concern about one problem (Murder of gay activist in Uganda or women’s rights, for example.) without concurrent comment on another (Murder of Shia in Iraq or the plight of men, for example) does not need to be justified or explained. You talk about what concerns you and I’ll do the same and between us we should have things covered. Unless your concern is with the validity of my concerns in which case I have a bone to pick!
What’s with all of the grown ups with life-ADD? “I am so committed to this, you can count on me–look! something shiny! Oohh… Oh, what was it we were talking about?”
LA DRIVERS!!! No, I won’t go into that.
After seven weeks away, my mom is back. YAY!
I am currently prepping for my 2010 taxes. Once again, as I did last year and the year before, I am determined to keep up on this stuff throughout the year…we’ll see how that goes. Gotta go back through 2010 first, ugggg.
Seriously, am I the only person who doesn’t give a flying ef you see kay about American Idol? All right, I don’t have a TV but I did once, when American Idol was shiny and new, and still never watched an entire episode.
For anyone tracking my posts on the subject, baby daddy came and went and I am really, really over his nonsense. Once again, we are all grown-ups…honor your commitments and responsibilities and, no, it’s not all right if your commitments and responsibilities to me go to the bottom of your list.
I am really happy for Tim Heatherington, who I met in Liberia, and Sebastian Junger that their work is being acknowledged with an Oscar Nomination for Restrepo.
I have noticed that my FaceBook ‘network’ is amazingly diverse…drawing on my missionary kid upbringing, crazy biological family, progressive colleagues and friends collected through the years, international travel and work, and the random people that have come into my life in various ways. Just finished scanning today’s ‘news’ and saw everything from something on the debate over fasting in the Pentecostal church to outrage over the murder of the Ugandan gay rights activist, protests of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, celebrations of military service, way too many details of people’s meals and health concerns, pro- and anti-Obama rants, local and national and international politics, and the latest (aforementioned) on American Idol. And more. It’s lovely and lush and inspiring and sometimes infuriating and good company on an evening when my kid is sick and I am sitting alone in the apartment.
I would like to have a boyfriend. There, I said it. Not an L.A. random ‘thing.’ Not a ‘partner.’ Just a boy who enjoys spending time with me on a regular basis and is 1) not an alcoholic/addict/overly attached to any ‘problem’ 2) not coming out of a long relationship 3) able to relax and let things evolve 4) is interesting, attractive, gainfully engaged in some kind of work. I know, I know…I’m a freaking prima donna…want it all. Fine, I didn’t say I needed this…just would be nice sometimes.
My kid is the coolest ever. Really. I mean, I know I am not an objective source but…trust me, he is.
Yesterday, a friend posted this on FaceBook. My first thought was “who names their kid Shiva?” But the kid has a point…and his approach is effective. By halfway into the video, I was smiling and laughing and felt a bit closer to six years old than I have in a long time.
Children are natural yogis, living in the moment, experiencing without judging or watching their experience, pushing their limits just enough to find new ones.
They are honest, not caring if what they feel or want to do is silly. And sometimes they hit the nail on the head, like little AJ did the other day when he called from the bath, “Please stop doing the dishes, Mommy.” “What do you want me to do?” I asked. He seemed to be fine, playing in the tub. “I want you to, just…just talk to me,” he said.
A few weeks ago, I started writing part II of this post, thinking it was part I or, really, the only part. Then I saw the following TED video featuring Chimamanda Adichie. So lovely to find a seemingly kindred spirit who can so eloquently articulate the power of multi-storied lives.
Without our having met, she explains so beautifully why I am a therapist, why I started Survivors’ Truths and what it’s all about. First, I thought of working it in to what I had already started to write but her talk deserves to stand alone. I’ll post that other ramble later…my favorite moments and the full video of her talk are below. Enjoy.
…how impressionable and vulnerable we are in the face of a story… The consequence of the single story is this–it robs people of dignity…When we reject the single story…we regain a kind of paradise.
Today, I had to do it. Take a break. Get some rest. Chill. We have been fighting colds and I am still recovering from the holidays/our recent visit with AJ’s dad.
Now it’s time to go to bed and, looking back on the day, I wonder what has become of me. Lazy Sunday used to mean staying in bed until I couldn’t stand it any more, getting up, going for a movie or bite to eat or both. That’s it. Today, in addition to some chill time with a book and snuggles with AJ, I somehow took a ‘break’ that included the following (not an exhaustive list, I am exhausted so my memory may be crap):
3 loads of laundry
Cleaning out the car
Errand running–2 more stores
Catching up on emails (well, some of them)
Phone consult with client in crisis
Organizing and putting away the remaining Christmas stuff
Tidying up the house
Moving the potty learning forward (AJ did #2 on the toilet twice today. Yay! But, man, is that work.)
Ordering mundane things (cordless phone battery, etc.) online
Finding right wall unit for dining area on Ikea website–resisted urge to go pick it up.
I think I need to re-learn how to relax. Geez. But I don’t think I am alone in this. So often we (and the world) expect us mamas to be more than the human beings we are.
So many times, I have wanted to do what Chris Hoff does here…to capture a moment when the scenery, the song on the radio, the location all combine to form a ‘moment’ that feels somehow significant in its random ordinariness.
Today, AJ and I are both fighting colds. Winning the fight, I think. Ten hours of sleep, ginger tea, and a lazy Sunday are the weapons of choice. To pass the time, we hit up our YouTube account, which has numerous playlists I have created to amuse him and, of course, there’s one of all of the video clips of him I have uploaded for friends and family to enjoy. He asked to watch it and so we did for a while.
Looking at these blips in his development—from this account of his frenetic efforts to grab the camera as a two-month-old to discovering Santa’s leavings on Chrismas morning—I am struck by a couple of things.
One is how much he L O V E loves to watch himself. Without the veneer of expected modesty and self-critique we acquire somewhere along the line, a three-year-old relishes his own reflection and reliving past moments.
Another is how hard it is to both observe and participate in these moments. It’s something I have struggled with a lot as a single parent. I want to preserve these moments but, at the same time, want to be present and a part of things. Behind the camera, I am slightly removed, engaged in framing the experience–something that can’t be done from within the experience itself.
For me, this challenge extends beyond the realm of documenting our lives. When juggling multiple priorities, time lines, and threads of activity, it isn’t easy to be fully present for any of it. Just this week, I was sitting with a client, also a mom who works outside the home, as she talked about this dilemma. As she said, “I just want to be more present with my kids,” I nodded internally in agreement. Then, also internally, I jumped out of my seat in a panic. I had forgotten to send the address of AJ’s preschool to my friend who was picking AJ up for me that day! It was about the time she should be going to pick him up. What kind of parent am I?
And what kind of therapist am I? If nothing else, it is my job to be fully present for those who come to consult with me. Containing my panic, I wrestled with these conflicting assessments. I realized that, lame as I was for neglecting to send the needed information, the world was not likely to come to an end as a result. AJ was safe at his school (exorbitant late fees be damned) and this client has been consulting with me long enough to work out that I am, indeed, a real human being. So, I quietly took a deep breath and stayed engaged until the conversation reached a natural point of ‘switching gears’ and then asked her if I could excuse myself for a moment. I explained that her comments had reminded me of something I neglected to do. I called. AJ was fine (my resourceful friend had looked up the school on Google). We laughed. It was not my most shining moment as a parent or a professional but it passed.
I am not sure how to tie this all in but it is connected for me somehow–the threads of our lives and the way we weave them together, the impossibility of completely separating the threads of the professional and personal, the organization of all of these pieces and the holes that develop when we drop a stitch and that then, in time, become part of the pattern and wholeness of a life lived.
And the moments that speak from their ordinary synchronicity of the meaning and beauty of it all.
A client just shared Sustainable Love, a New York Times article by Tara Parker-Pope with me. This client identified with the article’s premise that a relationship that ‘works’ is not inherently satisfying–that partnership today is about being challenged and individually satisfied. What caught my attention, though, was how social construction of identity emerged as a key component of relationships.
The effect of self-expansion is particularly pronounced when people first fall in love. In research at the University of California at Santa Cruz, 325 undergraduate students were given questionnaires five times over 10 weeks. They were asked, “Who are you today?” and given three minutes to describe themselves. They were also asked about recent experiences, including whether they had fallen in love.
After students reported falling in love, they used more varied words in their self-descriptions. The new relationships had literally broadened the way they looked at themselves.
“You go from being a stranger to including this person in the self, so you suddenly have all of these social roles and identities you didn’t have before,” explains Dr. Aron, who co-authored the research.
When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.Dr. Martin Luther King, April 4, 1967, Riverside Church, NYC
We are here, Dr. King, still holding on to the dream in the face of your nightmare.
…which is why everyone needs to get involved. Dr. King was a giant but an army of ants can move mountains.
Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable… Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals. Martin Luther King, Jr.
And if there are enough of us, we can even take a break every now and again…when we get tired.
A Sunday morning dose of humor, that those of us who have been married will recognize as funny but not far from the truth.
Recently I discovered that spouses, like computers, must be booted up before they can hear what you say. Try walking into a room where your spouse is otherwise engaged and simply launch into your statement or question. Notice that your first sentence doesn’t count. That might go like this.
You: I think the ice maker isn’t working.
In that example, the spouse had not yet booted into listening mode. You can solve this problem with what I call the boot up tone. It is a sound that serves no function except to say, “Shift to listening mode.” I highly recommend that you use your spouse’s first name as your boot up tone. People are programmed to hear their own names even when they won’t notice other background noise. And I recommend speaking in the key of F, even if that isn’t your normal range, because it’s a great tone for penetrating background noise. It’s also a good idea to stretch out your spouse’s name a bit. I turn Shelly into She-e-e-e-e-lly. Try it at home. It works. But use your own spouse’s name.