Tag Archives: grace

The Post In Which I Fancied Myself an NPR Reporter

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It’s embarrassing, really.

The day was unlike others; unless you’re someone who gets a mammogram daily. I’m not. I was between procedures (I’m clear, it was all routine) and I had some time to kill.

The weather was clear and sunny and warm.

I was in my monster mobile and parked outside a local “Gas N Shop,” or “Petro N Go,” or “Fill N Leave,”… you know, the kind of place that sells gas, offers a car wash, bathrooms, rolling papers and Snickers bars.

I was determined to not to go in and sit in the warm, stuffy waiting room for what could be upwards of 15 minutes. The waiting rooms at mammography centers are high intensity; no one wants to go in there to prepare to stand on their tippy toes as they look away as Miriam did in “Raiders of the Lost Ark” during the scene when she and Indy are strapped to the pole while the foolish Nazis dare open the Ark of the Covenant after performing an ad hoc Hebrew ceremony (am I digressing?)… anyway, as Miriam (who listened to Indy because if she didn’t she would’ve melted as the Nazis did), you don’t want to look at your girl when it’s in this device which compresses her from a shape resembling a balloon to a pancake.

During said compression, we are reminded to hold our breath (which is already gasped) as the sing-songy operator who looks like “Pat” from Saturday Night Live (I’m dating myself) scurries to hide behind a glass wall while a half-million-dollar machine hums and clicks and releases. If you don’t get it right that time, you get to do it again. Never mind the fact that this would be considered a misdemeanor in several states were it not a medical procedure…

So instead of waiting with the other potential smashees, I chose to hide. I’m glad I did for I witnessed joy instead of anxiety; expression rather than suppression; and elation instead of deflation. Going in for a mammogram requires a certain suspension of disbelief anyway, because no sane person would want this to happen to her. So, following this thread of make believe, I pretended I was an NPR reporter. That’s totally normal, right?

I haven’t listened to my recording since that day because I think I hate my voice and also because I’m not used to recording myself. My mother, however, would have LOVED to have done this, so in my own little subconscious way, I’m loosening up a little to let more of her in. Please click on the link immediately below:

Paradise and Fiji Water

I made this recording about two weeks after Mom died and I was in a place where I needed to see the silver linings of life and to remember that life not only goes on, but that it can and does quite beautifully, thank you, with or without us in attendance.

I was talking to my friend about this experience the other day and she told me that there is no such thing as fresh drinking water on Fiji… that they get bottled water too. I wonder if it’s $3.85 a bottle there. Probably more because they need to ship it from … uh … Michigan or somewhere.

I am a firm believer that it’s up to us to see the beauty in an every day existence. I have yet to be like Wayne Dyer and say “Thank you!” before I get out of bed, but I come pretty close. I say it on the walk to school, or as I pour my coffee or as I’m having my breast compressed or as I’m watching an adorable family vacuum its car.

The little boy was “totes adorbs” to quote a friend from Buffalo, NY. His shiny black hair was cropped close, with bangs that hugged his face and curled up about an inch above his eyebrows. The dad was wearing a Reál Madrid soccer jersey and had close-cropped hair and a ready smile for his son while he was doing what dads do: playing while Mom was working. He laughed and did his best to look busy, but that little kid was just too much fun. The mom was fierce-looking; she had a classic South American face with high cheek bones and full lips. Her skin was a gorgeous bronze that set this pasty white Irish girl’s jealousy in gear. But I didn’t envy her the age of her son (been there, done that) nor the “compliance” of her husband while she’s just trying to clean out her car. Sometimes these chores are better performed alone.

Their dark teal Toyota Corolla sedan was in good condition. It looked to be the same vintage of one that belonged to a gal I met at the yoga retreat this summer. She said hers was 17 years old with close to 380,000 miles on it. To my friend, it was her ride to a Springsteen concert or to class or to the Jersey Shore and to work as an educator. But to this Mom, who looked to be no more than 21, that car was her chariot, her way to work, her son’s way to school or day care and her husband’s privilege: it had pink and lavender stickers on the back, like little wings, on either side of the trunk’s keyhole. This was a woman’s car.

I remember hearing the music before I saw the family and thought that surely it was playing for the benefit of a silver-haired couple from Mexico or Latin America. To me, there was no way that a young person would enjoy that music; there was no subwoofer bleeding or swearing pouring out the windows. How nice it was to be so completely incorrect.

I felt lucky and, oddly, not a hint of self-consciousness recording that “report”; I suppose it’s not weird these days to see someone sitting alone in a car holding a phone up to her face with her window cracked open. People do it all the time… Beats trying to do it while driving.

I enjoyed pretending I was an NPR reporter; I am glad to be sharing it with you.

Thank you.

p.s.  i feel this post was rusty. i have to say that it’s weird for me to be writing about something happy again that doesn’t focus on my sadness about my Mom. it was nice. “The show must go on!” she’d say.

Grief: Forgiveness, Grace

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I’m Catholic on paper. Which means that I’m not a very “good” Catholic. What it also means is that I’m very educated on matters of guilt and how to beat myself up.

The guilt I’ve felt, over my relationship with my mother — all my life — and more recently since any chance of improvement on this earth with her has been vigorously snatched from my hands, has been unbearable.

I have heard from people privately: “Thank you for your blog; thank you for helping me find a little broken part of me…” I have also heard from others privately, “Be careful of what you share. Some of it is very private, and it fans the flames … it mightn’t help you… it keeps it out there… ” and I could not agree more.

I have vacillated: Keep a post up? Take it down?

It doesn’t matter. At the end of the day, I remember this one truth: this is the Internet age. Where ADHD reigns and YouTube seems to hold the reins. I am old school and I can promise you this: I don’t share everything. I share what suits me.

But the days of late have been hard. I would say that I’ve spent a good two weeks in guilt stew. The last week has been uniquely painful.

So I spoke with a wise cousin last week; and I spoke with a wise friend. I went to dinner with wise women and I have basically immersed myself in a wonderful soup of women and the one thing that keeps coming at me — from all these walks of life, from all these wonderfully strong, vibrant, sagacious and heartfelt women is this: forgiveness.

Because I am Catholic, I don’t really pray-pray. My personal brand of Catholicism has been such that I don’t like to call in the “big guns” until I simply can’t take it anymore. Until I am at my personal rock bottom. I can likely count on one hand the number of times I have actually prostrated myself in prayer and each time, I have been gloriously answered.

As much as I say that I get things, prayer, on an intellectual level, I don’t get them on an emotional level. Or I get them on an emotional level, but not on an intellectual level. It’s not always balanced.

I am by default and practice a thinker. I learned as a child to trust the concrete, that the abstract was a gamble and that whatever I didn’t see couldn’t be relied upon. The moments when I know what I saw but was convinced otherwise were also less reliable. So, it took me a long time to get to feeling or at least allowing feeling. Trust a feeling? Greek.

I’m also big on repression when I can’t or don’t have the time to deal with something. (That’s usually when you absolutely MUST deal with something, but you know: driving, going out to dinner, in a meeting… those are not the best times, so when those feelings come up, I push them back down. I do deal with them eventually, and I have no intention of forgetting about them, it’s just that sometimes I can’t help it — they simply fade away or drop into a cup of ice cream.)

But this past weekend, when I simply COULD NOT shake the guilt, no matter how much I tried, I basically heard all the fantastic voices in my head, including my mother’s (her voice was really lovely, actually, a little like Jessica Lange’s) that kept saying, “Let it go…” and “Pray on it…” and “Talk to your mother…”

On FB chat yesterday, I asked a friend while waiting for my son, “When you say ‘talk to her‘ do you mean really, ‘talk to her’ as in verbally with the voice and vocally and all that? out loud?”

My friend said, “Yeah. Or write to her, or in your head…”

And I squirmed.

I can’t remember if I wrote or thought, “That’s not crazy? It sounds a little crazy. I mean, she’s not there…”

My friend said, “It’s not. But do what works for you.”

I thought or replied, “I’ve done everything but that. I’ve written, I’ve silently prayed, I’ve had the conversation in my head and I’ve talked about it with others… but you’re talking about out-loud talking; audible words coming from my mouth.”

And I think that’s the point of it. I think that we must get to a point where we are so humbled, so tired, so ready and so woeful or motivated or whatever to allow ourselves that “eff it” mentality where we’re going rip off the band-aid and spill our guts. It was like that time when I got really mad (the rage post) and I said aloud what I needed to get off my heart.

I have a notion that it’s not God who separates us from Him, but rather we who do the separating. He’s always there. It’s up to us to open the door or look out the window.

I also have another notion that when I can feel the tapping at the door, when I can hear His breath of peace, but I don’t allow it to wash over me, that it’s really my fault… it’s not His.

My mother was like that. She was patient and always wondering, ‘When are you coming back to me, Molly?’ and I have to say that I had a screen door that was locked because I was terrified of being hurt again, or a half-door like a country house that allowed her into my heart only so much because I was terrified of being hurt again. I had to erect my boundaries. I had to do what I could to feel safe.

But I know now, that was ok. Here’s how.

So, last night… after my famous grilled chicken and sweet potato dinner that my boys simply can’t get enough of, I went upstairs to my room to prepare for our family hot tub date.

I heard my friend in my head, “Out loud. To Mom.” So I basically said out loud to the Archangels and saints and to God and to Mom, to intercede on my behalf and to help me with the guilt.

I said,

“Mom, I know we’ve got our stuff. Or we had it. And I’m sorry about it. I really am, but you’re gone now and maybe we can have a relationship … y’know, now? I’ll take your comfort. I’ll take your love. I’ll take your protection because in my head now, you’re nothing but love and energy and light. You’re not a personality, you’re not your illnesses, or your fears. You’re nothing but love and I need it. I’ll take it now. I forgive you for all your stuff; I did the best I could and I know I KNOW that in your heart if you could’ve been better, you would’ve been better. No one wants to be unwell. No one wants to hurt others — it’s a sickness — and I release you. I release you from my anger; I wish you were here now, because I was ready Mom, I really was… but now I will take you any way I can get you and so, Mom, if you have an ounce of fierce and protective maternal love in you for me, as I know you did on earth but you couldn’t share it for whatever reason there was, I am asking you now, Mom: to get this monkey off my back. I am asking you and God and the angels, Mom, the big guns, to release this guilt and shame and keep it away and to remind me you are near and watching over me and to keep that off me. I was just your kid, Mom, and as I’ve said, with all due respect: you set the tone, Mom. I just fell in line… and as I matured, I simply kept it going because it was all I knew. You did your best and I did mine, but I always loved the essence of you and the glimpses of love that you shared with me, I will cherish forever, but ya gotta help me out here… Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us…

Or something like that.

And after about three minutes of it, my crying subdued and my breathing started to regulate and this odd feeling of “Why am I so upset?” came over me. I felt lighter, and I couldn’t get as upset as I was; I couldn’t usher guilt if I tried and even now, as I recount it, I get weepy because I miss Mom and the glimpses she gave me, but I wonder if this isn’t the beginning of a new stage of relationship with her… in that I can appeal to her pure side, that I can have her with me energetically because she is free of her body and as much as I wish I could have her here to talk to, I can have her energetically to think of and be with.

Sounds crazy? I don’t know. I believe in energy healing; I believe in God and the Angels and all that stuff. I have no doubt that I will be sad and will mourn her. My physical energy is still quite low. I absolutely must be patient with myself and this process, so I get that for sure. I must have no expectations and I can not do this alone. Ironically, as I’ve matured, I’ve come to believe in the not-so-concrete; the stuff in front of us all the time is too simplistic. There has to be a better way. It takes guts and humility to do it, but I have no doubt it’s real.

Forgiveness is two-sided. I understood it intellectually but I get it emotionally now for sure. I have no doubt. When we forgive, we lose a lot of weight. Grace is weightless and it’s waiting for us all.

Thank you.

30 Days of Jung — Day 16: #Darkness #Community #Altruism #Support

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I’m beginning to see a pattern now with these quotes: consciousness and darkness, meaning and light. I haven’t bothered to look at the 30 least-popular quotes of Jung’s but I wonder what they are. After I get home from vacation and am on a decent network I will do that.

Welcome to Day 16 of “30 Days of Jung,” my series, wherein (soon, I will start repeating myself, like now) I take a famous quote of Carl G. Jung‘s and try to make sense or refute or invert or disembowel it or where I turn into a heaping pile of mush because of it in 1,000 words or less.

If you don’t know who Jung is, he formulated the theories of introverted and extroverted personalities, the stages of individuation, the basis of the “Meyers-Briggs” personality (INFJ / ESFJ, etc.) tests. He’s the “father” of modern-day psychoanalysis. In short, he’s a badass. But he’s dead, so he can’t be with us today.

Here is today’s:

“As far as we can discern, the sole purpose of human existence is to kindle a light of meaning in the darkness of mere being.” ― C.G. Jung

I have a confession to make: this is the third post I wrote in one day, last Friday the 28th. I just wanted to get some of these done because the weather forecast was looking amazing and I had to take advantage of the lack of rain.

We are over the hump! I have published more of these quotes than I have yet to do! Yay me! Yay you for hanging in there and not punting me!

Are you learning about yourself? I am learning about myself and it’s hard to shake this stuff once I not only read the quotes but also process them with my eyes, hands and being — I feel this stuff in my stomach and sometimes I get a micro-headache.

Those headaches are what some people consider subconscious “blocks” of the mental energy toward accountability or vulnerability.

I think I get them not necessarily for those reasons, but I can’t be too sure. I also suspect because this is a lot of work. I will admit that I’m doing several a day while on this vacation (for instance today is Friday, June 28, and I’m doing so many now just to bang them out so I can have a few days off from the keyboard, but I also enjoy doing them and the team is fishing so… and it beats going for a run, which I should do…)

I digress. Shocking I know.

Kindle a light of meaning in the darkness. Not ON the darkness.

In the darkness. That implies that you’re in it too with that (other) person, you’re not just shining a light ON the darkness. You are leading a way out perhaps, but certainly are included IN the darkness’s darkness.

“We can discern.” … “we.”

Jung was on a committee when he wrote this one I guess.

“Mere being.” Mere: two usages which can mean or highlight very different things. One usage is to emphasize how small or insignificant something is: “mere mortals” ; and the other usage is to emphasize how small something is despite the fact that it can influence a situation or outcome: “the mere thought of it turned his stomach.”

This quote sounds like old Jung, resigned Jung, tired Jung, grumpy Jung. It feels like a stark contrast to the Jung of Day 12 who said we had the privilege of a lifetime to become who we truly are.

I have to disagree with this quote a little. I will try inverting it. No, I won’t. Strike that.

I do not feel it is my sole purpose to kindle a light of meaning in the darkness of (my? yours?) mere being.

This makes the whole living / existence gig sound utterly I depressing. I don’t think that I’m here to shine a light on anyone’s darkness. I don’t think you’re here to do that for me. I think I’m supposed to do that for myself and I’ll be honest with you: I’m feeling a lot possessive of my inner sparkler at the moment.

I really don’t like this quote. If you could see me right now, you’d see this:

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It’s not a very pretty picture, is it? That’s my “I don’t believe the fish was quite that big” face. It’s also the expression I make when I am feeling put-upon, encumbered and not thrilled with the fact that I have to drive a carful of third-graders home from a candy factory.

I feel like the sole purpose of my human existence is to simply get by with a genuine smile as often as possible while owning my crap when I don’t have a smile on my face. I feel like it’s about reframing sometimes, about shining the light on my dark assessments and coming out on top of it all with a better attitude than with what I started.

I think the quote makes me feel like if I don’t light a spark in someone else’s darkness that I’m not living a full life. There are plenty of people, trust me, who would like me to keep my sparkler to myself. So what do we do then?

I’m reading Malcolm Gladwell’s Blink while on vacation. I’m admittedly late to the party as the book was written in 2006, but I’ve had it on my shelf since then. I’ve been meaning to read it for years, because I tend to be indecisive (I’ve heard we Libras are like that) but I also think part of me didn’t want to read it because then once I’d read it, and I started to listen to my intuition then I’d have to make up my mind and be settled with the decisions I’d made and well, who wants that?

So I look back to the quote. In the darkness. … Mere being.

And I change my course a little: maybe this is wise Jung, seasoned Jung.

Maybe this is the Jung who in his practice of learning and discerning “individuation” has come to the conclusion that even though we are individuals, we are also part of a whole now; that our singular mere beings are also meant to light the paths for others despite our being dead like Jung or alive like me and you.

Maybe just being or allowing ourselves into “the darkness,” or for some of us simply allowing that there is “darkness” is enough of a start. If we go back to that second use of “mere,” the one about something small influencing an outcome, it seems hopeful doesn’t it?

These quotes are beginning to wear on me a little, I’ll be honest. I am feeling a bit like Jack Torrence in The Shining; I’m looking forward to a few days off from all this psychology and nonfiction.

This quote is hard. So in the spirit of Blink (I’m only 50 pages into it) I maintain my initial reaction that this is a later, tired but seasoned Jung who I feel like is ready to close up shop while at the same time seeing the benefit of working so hard to help people find their own inner lights to share with others in their darknesses.

Thank you.

ps — I wrote this on Friday and today is Sunday, still two days early but two days later from the original writing of this post and I have come to the conclusion that Jung wrote this with other people to help him, the “we” and that proposes to me that he too might have needed community to to better serve people. So I started thinking this morning when I woke up about the movie of my youth called, “The Breakfast Club,” where six students from all different walks of life joined together for a Saturday detention at their high school to fight the power, learn about the janitor, get to know and align with one another and truly grow beyond their little boxes.

Because Murphy did what he did that door the other night, my husband ended up rising early Sunday and making a trip to the Walmart where when he walked in, he was in a horrible mood: bad sleep, worrying about the repair, wondering about Murphy and having to perform the repair and then: Walmart of all places while he was on vacation.

When he came back, he said he’d had a wonderful time: he’d met helpful people (which is a redundancy here in Canada) and he’d solved his problems and he found a community because he was able to help other people there too. It was that he was a kindle in his own darkness as well as others.

That the rub: “We’re all alone in this together.” — Lily Tomlin

Maybe Random Isn’t So Random

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This was taken on Black Friday. The sun beams cast down on the old  WTC site. The new towers are to the left, much taller than the other buildings. That little island to the right with the Statue of Liberty sticking out of it is Ellis Island.

And what about this, just now I saw this on our walk to school:

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Are those leaves facing west or are they facing east? Their stems are all at the same place; there is no tip to tip or stem to stem; it’s all stem to tip… like a little march or dance.

The more I think life is random, the more I find it’s not.

I don’t always take my phone with me on the walk to school, I like to spend time with the children. But I grabbed it today for some reason, I don’t know why and when we were on the walk, I saw those leaves. The rest of the path was clear. Maybe it was the way they fell in the swirl of the wind? So when I went to my gallery to look for the photo of the leaves to post on this blog, I saw the other photo I took of the World Trade Center site with the sunbeams shining down on the memorial area.

And so here we are.  My second mobile post.

Enjoy your day, we don’t know what’s in store. Nature is in charge. Isn’t that great?

Thank you.