The language of loss

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One of the hardest things we will face as humans is the aging and eventual loss of our parents.  I have been blessed with two wonderful parents and consider them on the short list of friends.  The same ghost that haunts many of us also haunts me, that one day I will be an orphan.  Sometimes in the still of night I can let grief have its way with me as I contemplate that day.  I can allow myself to go in that deep hole of despair feeling as if i will never come out.  I watch now as my father confined to a wheel chair learns a new way to navigate through his life.  4 months out from a major back surgery we still hold onto hope for more improvement.  However, there will come that day when I will have to face the inevitable.  Morning comes and my mind tells me to be grateful for the time I have had and still continue to have.  I want to count my blessings and not wallow in my grief.  I see my daddy’s frustration as he can no longer do what he has always been so accustomed to doing.  His landscape has changed.  I now help my daddy as my daddy has always helped me.  I am no longer the little girl crying and pleading holding his leg trying to keep him home with me.  I am the one who realizes we have no control over life and with life comes loss of all kinds.

At 5, loss came early for me as I watched my grandmother take her last breath on a sunny day.  That day i learned about death and knew that grandma was not coming back at least in the form I knew her.  Having lost my only brother at the age of 17 as a result of an automobile accident I also learned deathcomes for us all and age is no guarantee.  All loss is not death and all death is not loss.  There is another land over the bridge of loss and grief  If we allow our grief to wash over us we can heal, we can grow.

I sometimes find myself feeling irritable and sad with my father but realize it is me wanting him back like I knew him.  I want him to walk, to not be impatient with his condition.  I want him to live forever.  I want him to protect me. Watching my dad continue to navigate his challenges gives me a sense of pride in his ability and determination to learn a new way.  Loss can help us see through a different pair of eyes and give us strength to face challenges we thought were insurmountable.

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Wake me when its over

Lately I have been privy to conversations amongst friends and acquaintances regarding the state of the nation.  I listen as they express their fear and their feeling that all is lost and we are doomed.  With the resignation of supreme court justice Kennedy, many feel the next selected justice will be of such a conservative ilk, that it will set us back to a previous century.  Many with compassion watch what they fear is our new way of being, a time of intolerance and hatred.  Recently even the most hard hearted among us watched in anguish as thousands of children were torn from their parents and placed in camps in so called efforts to stem illegal immigration.  The statue of liberty has to be having a genuine conniption.  Was she not the one saying “give me your tired your poor?”

From the outside, it looks as if all is lost.  It is enough to make us shudder in our boots and crawl back under the covers.  It makes us angry and we are feeling it.  The daily barrage of negative news and the feeling that our political system and way of life are doomed are causing many to see no way out.  Increasing physical and mental symptoms such as anxiety, aggression, insomnia, increased addiction are becoming part of our landscape.  I sometimes wonder have we lost our way? There are days I wake up and cannot recognize what we have become.  It is almost akin to walk-ins from another planet have come and taken residence inside human bodies hell bent on destruction of mankind.  This scenario would no doubt make a great movie but not so much a great life.

Yes it is a perilous time but we can not give into the fear.  Whenever change is occuring, there is chaos.  When a new way is being made there is chaos.  There are those who wish to hold onto what they once knew but change comes to us all.  We can either ride the wave or drown.  Now the planet needs our minds and bodies and we must be ready.  We must claim our power and we must understand that we are here because we can handle what is going on.  Under the covers is not the place we need to be.  It is up to us to take care of ourselves and each other.

Turn off the news, read a book, listen to music, see a friend, get outdoors nature is an amazing antidote for what ails, take your sadness or anger to the mountain or to a tree,  Drink plenty of water, take a bath in epsom salts it is good for relaxation.  Eat an apple, play with a child, take a technology break for a day, get a massage, or just simply lie in bed and do nothing.  That is good too and by all means breathe.  We got this.

 

 

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You please be me

The majority of us want what we want.  We want others to understand us, to fit with us, to walk by our sides as we walk the path of life.  There is a lie that many still believe and it is the lie of unconditional love.  We are expected to gaze starry eyed into the eyes of our beloveds as we pledge our undying love until death do us part.  We actually believe from that day we will never change, we will cease to grow and we will commit our lives to another come hell or high water.  We will forsake our individual aspirations and ways of being.  We will light one candle and become one and dance away the night amidst well wishers of family and friends.  Unbeknownst to us many of these well wishers know the game that we eventually learn.  There are not many who can accept another warts and all.  The characteristics and traits we once found so endearing in our mates can be the ones that eventurally irritate and the ones we hope to change.

A few days ago I watched as a young woman kissed her sweet baby’s head while explaining to a friend her theory of this little bundle of joy giving its love so completely and unconditionally.  I wondered where we had gotten this notion that anything is capable of loving unconditionally?  The cries, screams and anger of a needy baby is anything but unconditional.

In order to love unconditionally, one has to accept another exactly as is flaws and all.  One has to allow the other to be.  Loving is not controlling. Of course that does not mean we have to accept the flaws or the natural way of others as we  always have the freedom to walk away.  A friend recently spoke of the love she had for her husband although she could not live with his addiction to alcohol.  She talked about his good nature and character and loved his heart but she could not live with his addiction.  She released him to pursue his journey and to claim responsibility for his life.  Expressing her love and gratitude she refused to accept his behavior.

animal-ape-care-332153 (1)We can still love and allow one to be at the same time maintaining healthy boundaries for ourselves.  When others fail to live according to our standards we often lash out in anger, isolating and distancing.  As right as we may feel in our beliefs, we cannot understand why another cannot see things the way we do.  We expect the other to become a version of ourselves.  We forget about individuality and dreams.  To truly love one without condition, we must want the very best for those we love.  We want to encourage and support and we want them to be the very best of themselves they envision.  Often when we love someone unconditionally we must release them to pursue that vision for themselves.  When we are mired in control or our own insecurities that becomes a difficult task. It is now always about us.

 

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The path of YIKES

For many of you who follow this blog, you know I am usually giving advice or encouraging a brave approach to life.  I have always admired the brave and the adventurous and their zest for life.   I stand now needing to hear my own advice.  To be brave requires the strength of a herd of a thousand elephants and often it is easy to want to turn back and take the path of the known.  We all have those little voices living in our head telling us to “get back in line, stop being foolish and that we will fail.” They rattle our minds and tear at our spirit and ask “who in the hell do you think you are?”

Personally, my fear is based on ending up alone and making mistakes.  I put on my brave face, sit at my computer and speak of bravery but my little voice will ask do I have what it takes to walk my walk.  Do I have the fortitude to go it alone if need be?  I wonder about convictions and the strength it requires to stand true to one’s self in the face of doubt and that little voice that wants us to turn back.  I think of those who have risked their very lives to stand in their truth standing tall against any and all onslaught.

The demons come at night and make me cower and want to revert to all that I know.  My soul will not let them win.  It is the soul that is our companion in strength.  It is the soul that urges us on when we are scared or tired. We all are here on this planet for a purpose and we have our unique paths to walk. We may attempt to fit ourselves into a mold where we know we will not fit.  We are told that is what we are supposed to do, to be and to desire.  We fear the isolation of being the outcast, the oddball.

I understand that I must stand in my convictions and be prepared to accept whatever may come my way.  I have chosen the path of self knowing and it can be filled with rocks  boulders and thorns.  I also understand that I may fail.  I may lose all that I know but I will never regret trying.  To live a life without risk or passion is to begin to die.  To accept what is not ours is the key to misery and to crawl back into the box of comfort is to lose faith in ourselves.  I say to you to be brave and I will say it to me as well.

Scared Turtle in Shell

Scared Turtle in Shell — Image by © Sabet Brands/Corbis

 

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The Last Moment

Yesterday once again tragedies made their way into our news.  It seems every moment we are waking to the newest calamity.  Yesterday many friends sent text and messages wondering about my safety.  Apparently there had been a tragic plane crash here in Cuba involving a route I had taken and a city I routinely fly into.  I imagined what that arrival airport must have looked like as people waited for their loved ones on a plane that would never arrive. I was also aware of the recent American school shooting claiming lives.image I thought of the fragility of life and how at a moment’s notice it can be snatched away.  I thought of how much precious time we spend in worry and fear of what may be.  I thought about how that last time we see a loved one might really be the last time.  I write this short blog as a reminder.  In the big scheme of things we are a blip on the radar screen and are easily replaced.  Our sense of importance is only important to us.  The universe really does not care.  Just a public service announcement to let the little stuff go.  Figure out what makes you happy and go for it.  No one deserves to take your happiness or have you become a sacrificial lamb for the sake of others.  Enjoy the life you are given and hug those close to you.  Tomorrow is not promised to any of us.

 

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Dear America

Dear America,

Wtf has happened to you?  I thought I knew you but apparently I was mistaken.  I have always known you had your share of problems and I like many others was willing to give you the benefit of the doubt.  I knew there were pockets of some of your people who through lack of education, poor self esteem or just plain smug superiority never really gave a rats ass about you, the earth or their fellow humans.  However, they were the minority.  They were irrelevant and could be ignored.  From the time of my birth I watched as you traveled your journey.  I grew and learned how you were formed, how the brave left Great Britain to make a new way of life in unchartered and uninhabited territory.  I learned how your hero Christopher Columbus first discovered America.  You and i both know that America had already been discovered, by the Indians.  Apparently a civilization that had it going on and perfectly content in their way of life until the superior ones felt these savages were just that, savages.  Not to mention the disease they bought with them introducing germs that the native population had no way of resisting. However, they were savages and got in the way of the story of discovery.

Throughout time, changes were made and progress was had but you needed a lot of work done.  It is hard to develop a country as big as you without cheap labor: enter the slaves.  Now you know it was not too nice to rip others from their homeland, bring them to your place, treat them like shit and expect them to work for nothing and beat them on top of all of that.  That was not nice.  But you needed the work to be done and apparently those of British ancestry were too refined to dirty themselves so what would be wrong than getting other savages, strong black savages to do the work.  Afterall who was going to have time to sit on that porch drinking mint juleps with all of that work to be done? That history is too long to go into here at this time but once again, you saw what you did and to this day you refuse to accept the responsiblity.

You were big and when you waved that red, white and blue flag people noticed.  Others respected you too.  Many were proud to go and die for you under what was called patriotism.  I sometimes wondered if patriotism was some sort of brain washing but I guess when people get in a groupthink mindset, it is sort of easy to jump on the rah rah bandwagon.  No doubt, you did help to put an end to the evil in the world.  You led the rally when it came to dealing with Hitler in WW2 and along with your allies saved the lives of many.  You had military might and for the most part you handled it responsibly. There were glitches due to those with that rah rah mindset.  You were responsible for using fat man and little boy and making a torturous hell for the lives of many and you probably remember what happened with your rogue military bandits when they pillaged the village of Me Lei raping and killing.  Ahh Vietnam, when a large percentage of those fighting had no idea what they were fighting for. At 18 years of age, most have no idea about the wily ways of the world and think they can single handedly join a war to kick some ass.   I won’t go into all of your horrendous misdeeds under the name of patirotism here, you know what they are.

You really do have a beautiful planet in which to call home but lately you have become hellbent on destruction.  I have noticed your disregard when oil slicks cover the once beautiful waters.  You pretend to care but then it happens again.  Common sense would tell anyone that oil refineries are a problem.  When your skies turn grey and your people can barely breathe, do you still fly that flag with pride?  Do you see how many are homeless on your streets, how many have no health care?  Do you understand that education is the first step towards a healthy population?  What about that race thing, why do some of your people divide themselves based on skin color?  Do they not understand when the shit hits the fan, they will need each other?  However your flag waves on.  Your people divide and hurt but yet quote the bible and declare themselves to be Christians.  You declare yourself to be a Christian country and display hostility towards anyone not adhering to your so called Christian belief.  What is that belief?  Do you think if there is such a thing as the pearly gates that God is going to let those in with such hate and division in their heart?  Is not your God the one who spoke of judging others?

America you say you are a compassionate nation and you usually have been. You have led the world in humanitarian acitivities and stood for others to fight for what was just. There was great pride in being American.  The Statue of Liberty who holds the lantern with inscription “give me your tired and your poor” has been raped.  She is no longer able to stand up straight and if she were not made of metal would crumble under all of those rags into tears.  She would call you an embarrassment.  She would ask you how dare you turn away those fleeing tyranny and violence?  How dare you go against all that I stand for?  No doubt Statue of Liberty did not know about Isis or terrorism as it stands now but are you to keep others away from freedom because you fear a few?  What of your own home grown terrorist? You know you make them too.

I write this to you not out of hate or anger but out of sadness.  I am sad that you have fallen off of the path of justice.  I am sad that you can no longer hear the cries of those in need and I am sad that you are becoming something I don’t recognize.  I sincerely hope  that you will sit back one day and see the error of your ways before it is too late.  I trust you have the ability and the desire to do so.   Wishing you well.

 

A Concerned Friend   crying-statue

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Love and Respect

It is early morn and once again I am awake.  This morning I sit contemplating something a friend recently told me: that all men hate their wives.  Apparently this information was given to him by a trusted therapist. Personally, I think I would have asked for a refund and gotten a new therapist but that is not my decision to make. I have pondered this sentiment and I am astounded that a therapist would have this as a point of reference.  This is supposed to be someone trained to deal with issues of our minds and help us navigate the sometimes tricky aspects of life.

I am left wondering how we got to this point where grown men believe it is the norm to resent women or wives? My friend discussed this as if it was Ok and an accepted fact because it was the valid opinion of a therapist.  Almost like a silent agreement or understanding amongst men.  Many in our culture speak of relationships or marriage as if women are standing around waiting for any man to hogtie and force down the aisle to holy matrimony.  Many buy into the notion that all women want marriage and there is not a man alive that would go along unless forced.  There is no denying that marriage is not for the faint of heart and leaves a lot to be desired in the area of personal fulfillment, but that is another story for another day.   I am left wondering why some grown men need a scapegoat for their inability to navigate their lives?  Why are women to blame?

We do our young boys a disservice. We fail to help them understand or be present with emotion. We tell them that to cry is a sign of weakness.  “Be a man, be strong, don’t be a sissy, crying is for little girls.”  We teach them that vulnerability is an emotional disorder, one best avoided.  In the end we are left with a society of men unable to express emotion.  We fail to teach them the importance of emotion and how to navigate the arena of feelings.  We are raising a generation of future men who feel it is normal to resent women or wives.  We raise our boys to believe boys will be boys and that women are responsible for loss of freedom or independance.

If we want a society of caring men,we have to tell our boys it is ok to cry, to ask for help or to be tender.  We must call upon men to teach by example.  They must show our boys how to be vulnerable and soft.  They must demonstrate to our boys how it looks to cherish, value and love women.  Boys must be taught that healthy relationships require healthy people.  They need to hear affirming and positive descriptions of relationships and women. We need to stop pointing the finger of blame at women and we need to raise compassionate and loving men.pexels-photo-392027.jpeg

 

 

 

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Rebirth

Last night I had a dream.  I saw the world spinning as pieces were being dismantled and flying off into space.  i witnessed large divisions and splits around the globe. It all dismantled into crumbs and ashes of what had been.  When I awoke I sat with the dream and realized it was speaking of rebirth, renewal and a new way of being. The old paradigms are dying and we are being shifted to a new reality.  When change is afoot, it is never easy and we can spend an inordinate amount of time digging in our heels and refusing to move.  Old patterns and habits die hard.  We want to cling on to what we know, what is comfortable.  The devil we know is better than the devil we don’t.  We fear change and the discomfort it will bring.

damage_from_hurricane_patricia_2015_in_colima_mexicoWith changes in America’s political landscape, as a black woman I could allow myself to feel a certain amount of  fear.  I am the product of parents who lived life before civil rights for minorities.  My parents lived in the South where hate groups such as the ku klux klan routinely spread fear among people of color. I am the product of segregated elementary schools.  I know the history of little Ruby Bridges who as a first grader had to be escorted to school by armed guards as she integrated an all white school in Louisiana. As a young child I watched nightly news as police in Birmingham, Alabama unleashed vicious dogs and powerful fire hoses on children and adults as they marched for human rights. Unfortunately some among us decry the loss of those times. The rock has been lifted and allowed ignorance once again to slither out.

I could allow myself to fear but I also understand this is the last hurrah for a dying breed.  it is the death knell, the breathing pattern of the dying.  Times are a changing.  What we once had faith in is now being questioned and brought into the light.  Those standing in pulpits and altars around the globe are being called out.  These are the ones with whom we  have placed our trust.  There is a saying those living in glass houses should not throw stones.  We have been living in a world of lies, control and oppression.  We have fallen for the story that has been meant to divide us.  Fear is the order of the day.  We fear those that are not like us or any lifestyle that does not fit into our set of prescribed beliefs.  We can spend billions to build a wall and bomb humans around the globe one hundred times over yet fear still prevails.

The universe will not be denied and is now calling for a shift in human conciousness.  Either we join the call or we are left behind. It is time for allowance.  It is time for compassion.  What we knew in our world is crumbling but we must understand there is another side.  Growth hurts but so does stagnation.  Like the phoenix, we rise from the ashes

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Connection: Being Real

Today i did something that a year ago was unimaginable.  I disconnected from social media.  I was one who could have definitely benefitted from a 12 step program or an intervention by concerned friends.  I was an addict. Somehow I accepted the belief that it was possible to have 699 well meaning friends.  I am not angry or hold any ill feelings towards facebook even as it usurped a large part of my waking life. It did allow me to connect with people I had not seen for many years.  However there comes a time when too much input is not good for a brain.  Was it really that important to know what my friends had for dinner or what fancy restaurant they were visiting?  Did I really need to get a blow by blow account of vacations and did I need to share mine?  Did I not have enough to handle in my own life without adding other’s drama?  There is no arguing that technology does not have its advantages as so much has changed and there are many of us walking around that would not be here had it not been for the marvel of medical technology.  However, there is a price to pay and more of us are coming to the realization that increased technology brings increased isolation.  What was designed to bring the world closer is pushing us further apart.  Instead of reaching for our partners in the early morning hours, we are now reaching for the computer.  We are hiding our minds and our hearts behind a screen and losing an important piece of our soul.

I am sitting in a coffee hut in a small town in Cuba.  I watch as a little boy dressed in his sunday best looks up at me as I write.  I watch the local people talking over drinks or just sitting with loved ones in the park. I watch a young father take a break from work to kiss his wife and cuddle his young son.  Wi-fi has found its way here too as evident by the crowds gathered around a certain spot. However, the need to walk and the cost of a wifi card helps keep it in perspective.

In the Western world we have lost our way.  With so much advancement and increased quality of life, more of us are lonely and sad.  Anti-depressants to keep us from feeling and pills at night to help us sleep are the prescription of the day and any substance in between to take the edge off.  This is not to downplay the necessity of certain medications to treat legitimate forms of mental illness and their use has made the difference in many people’s lives.  image

For many, this is a time of reckoning.  It is a time for deciding what is real and what really matters.  I depart social media and I begin to hold out for my true friends.  The ones I can call in the middle of the night when the demon won’t let me go.  The ones who i can touch and hug and know for sure they have my back and I theirs.  I now seek a real life with all of the rawness, life, joy and pain and all the other crazy wonderful things that come with it.  For me, a plastic material world is a plastic material existence.  We are being called into something more.

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No I am not selfish

Recently I read an obituary of a well known woman.  As obits go, her many achievements were shared as well as personal family related history.  Her many friends expressed their grief and sadness at the loss.  I read on and noted the special gift she had that so many valued; she gave to others without any thought of her self.  They spoke of how she always put herself last to ensure the needs of others were met.  Her associates spoke as if this were her crowning star, putting others first.

As a child I often heard the word “selfish” bantered about.  It was used to demean, to accuse and as pressure to put one on the path to “being good.”  It would ensure that others will like you.  I was told to give, to share, to put others first.  I was told I would get my reward for being good to others.  As a young first grader the word “selfish” was given to me by my teacher when I refused to share my halloween costume with a child who had forgotten to bring one.  The teacher had requested that I give the little girl my mask since I had the costume piece.  As a 6 year old I knew the value of having my costume in its entirety and refused.  Selfish haunted me throughout childhood.  Being a loner and a creative, it was used when I refused or had no desire to play with others.  It was used when I felt the need to be alone, to gather my thoughts.  Coming out of a big extended family, it was used when I needed to escape the madness and just breathe, alone.  Of course it made me question myself and to think of selfish as something negative.  As I have matured, I have come to understand the need to be selfish.  I like to call it self preservation.

Society hails us for putting ourselves last, taking one for the collective.  We are expected to follow the rules, play the game and be a productive member all while being a good team player.  In my time as a hospice nurse, I learned the value of the caretaker taking care of themselves.  Any one who has ever cared for a sick parent or child knows how physically and emotionally draining it can be.  Often times when we are caring for those we love, we forget ourselves.  Heaven forbid, we can’t be seen as selfish. Some of us equate how much we love someone with how much we suffer. I have seen loved ones sitting round the clock at bedsides of the dying refusing to eat, bathe or practice other self care.  To be available for others, we have to be available for ourselves.  We have to protect our time and our own physical and mental state and we have to be selfish.  Healthy boundaries and the ability to say no does not make us selfish, it helps us to be whole.  Take care.

 

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