Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Happy Birthday to Blog

This blog is one year old today and I felt the need to write that down. I'm so happy I started writing here! It's opened me up as a writer, which is what I was hoping for, but through it I've found so many other wonderful writers and formed a few really special bonds. Great big Thank You to all you bloggers for doing this, for sharing with me and for reading and responding. The blogosphere is a rich and vibrant community and I'm very grateful to be a part of it.

In Numb

For One-shot Wednesday:

I feel so disconnected lately
I try to have a focused thought
and all I get is dial tone
when most of the time it's like hearing
six conversations bleeding through
but none of them make much sense
all overlapping and unfinished
and above it all a nasal monotone intones:

"You are now operating in survival mode."

So I move through the day
the same as the one before
doing all the 'have to's
so it seems just like living
only without really touching anything
and the voice continues:

"You are now operating in survival mode."

Then I'm angry at that voice
I want to defy her
so I shake myself with music,
laughter, conversation, books
I sing really loudly
when a feeling does come through
because I find they've become too big for me to hold
I shake myself to try to snap me out of it
but I'm still out of it
so I do what I can to comfort me
but in the background:

"You are operating in survival mode."

So I move again to the music,
the laughing, the talking, the words
I see how these things bring
each a tiny reprieve
and as the voice goes on and on
I live between breaths

Friday, October 22, 2010

I'm Pollyanna, Nice to Meet You

I talk a lot about my "inner Pollyanna" here on this blog, in the hopes that you've all seen that movie. If not, you probably know what I'm referring to. I have an unstoppable optimist inside. She's not always active, as we can say about most of our "parts", but she's always there. It's the part of me that believes we can do everything we dream. She absolutely refuses to believe that "this is the way it is, this is the way it's always been, and this is the way it must continue to be...". Nope. Polly thinks that's lazy and a cop-out.

What Polly really believes in is the power of intention. She believes in each and every one of us doing our best. I love to harp on consensus reality so I'm going to touch on that again. In principle, it says that reality is what it is because we all agree- by consensus. It's the biggest sense of "life is what you make of it". Think about that statement. If life is what we make of it, why not make something different, better? Why not let our imaginations run to wild and wonderfully healthy places?

So many people feel like I do, I'm learning slowly. We don't believe in war. We don't think life should be lived for money. We believe in love as a verb, as a way to live. We believe in the ability of each of us to make the planet a better place to be.

I believe in a future that's so different from what we've been led to believe as possible. I believe in not fearing one another. I believe in a world where a woman can walk down any street alone at any time of the day or night and have nothing to fear. I believe in a world where we realize that we are all brothers and sisters, that we're all connected. I believe in a world-wide culture that includes everyone, where we love each person without needing to know anything about them. I believe in giving help to others because they need it, not because we think we might need help in the future. I believe we could come to a point of not-needing, of everyone having enough. I believe that even thought the state of the world is so far from this now, it wouldn't be that hard to bring us here. I believe that deep down, every person wants this. We all want to feel seen and to be heard. We all want to feel loved and feel "good". We are constantly creating strife for ourselves as we struggle against and through the systems we've created to "keep things in-line." If we work on trust, we could drop our defenses and give every person the means to do their best, to grow without fear into a world that welcomes and loves every one for who they are.

If you think this is naive, you are holding us up!

This is Alanis Morissette with Pollyanna's theme song, "Utopia":

We'd gather around
All in a room
Fasten our belts
Engage in dialogue
We'd all slow down
Rest without guilt
Not lie without fear
Disagree sans judgement

We would stay and respond and expand and include and allow and forgive and
enjoy and evolve and discern and inquire and accept and admit and divulge and open and reach out and speak up

This is utopia
This is my utopia
This is my ideal
My end in sight
This is my utopia
This is my nirvana
My ultimate

We'd open our arms
We'd all jump in
We'd all coast down
Into safety nets

We would share and listen and support and welcome
Be propelled by passion, not invest in outcomes
We would breathe and be charmed and amused by difference
Be gentle and make room for every emotion

This is utopia
This is my utopia
This is my ideal
My end in sight
This is my utopia
This is my nirvana
My ultimate

We'd provide forums
We'd all speak out
We'd all be heard
We'd all feel seen

We'd rise post-obstacle, more defined, more grateful
We would heal, be humbled, and be unstoppable
We'd hold close and let go and know when to do which
We'd release and disarm and stand up and feel safe

This is utopia
This is my utopia
This is my ideal
My end in sight
This is my utopia
This is my nirvana
My ultimate

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Hi, I'll Be Your Fool for the Evening

I've been really struggling lately. I'm doing my best to stand outside myself and look in and I'm not totally thrilled with how I've felt lately. I think it has a lot to do with the weather. I don't deal well with winter and while the weather right now is perfect, fall is the precursor of winter.

So I've been picking myself apart- again. I'm frustrated over my inability to find positive ways to speak out about things I'm upset about. I truly don't know how to express my anger in a way that's, well, less angry. Most people would wonder why I would want to do that. If you're angry, just be angry, right? But the problem is that I know better. Well, no I don't. I know that if I allow the actions of others to insight anger in me, I've become a part of the problem. The second I start acting or speaking from a place that is not loving, I'm working against what I want the world to become.

I was talking with my mom yesterday and telling her how I've been feeling depressed and somewhat disconnected and she said she thinks most people are feeling that lately. It's the economy or the state of the world, we're all depressed. That's when I realized why it's so important to me to keep my Pollyanna attitude intact.

I realize that sometimes I come off as ditsy or silly, some people equate happiness with being vapid. That's ok with me. I'm not very attached to what other people think of me because I know who I am and if someone thinks I'm stupid, they simply haven't gotten to know me. What is really important to me is the way people feel when they're around me. Have you ever noticed how someone who is incredibly happy can just light up a room? When you're happy, you don't really keep it to yourself, it gets shared by those around you. Just like love- when you give it away, you have so much more than you started with.

One of my dearest friends is a Tarot reader and we were talking about the Fool card a while back. The picture of the fool shows him about to walk off a cliff but he's totally unaware and gleeful. People have different perspectives of what this means but what it's really about is trust. Having trust that everything will work out in the end, that all will be set right- that's what the fool is about.

So I'll be the fool for the whole world if I can. If my silliness, my joy, my love for everyone, my ability to be strange and awkward and still happy can help lighten the weight we all carry, sign me up! I don't want to slip into cynicism, I don't like it there. It's dark and dusty and, quite frankly, it scares me a little. We all need to be reasonable in our expectations lest we get crushed over and over. But that doesn't mean we stop believing in the impossible!

So, Polly has dusted herself off, she's taking a little nap to refuel, and any second now she's going to start beaming again for everyone.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Dying to Be Themselves

I'm not sure where to start with this as I'm full of so many emotions. I'm sure you've all seen the news and are aware that there have been a number of suicides lately due to bullying based on homosexuality. This is so hard for me to deal with, so hard to think about. I remember being bullied as a kid- for no particular reason- and how scary it was. I can't imagine how difficult it would be, when you're a young person just trying to come to terms with who you are, to have people act in such hateful ways based on something that can be difficult in the best of circumstances. It absolutely blows my mind that we are losing kids- really losing them, gone, not here with us any more- due to the hateful acts of ignorant people.

I'm so angry! And I'm sad and scared as well. What's going on in the world when people will push someone that hard- right to the end of their lives? Self-acceptance is difficult for us all. As I've mentioned before, our society isn't set up for self-love. It's set up to make us feel insecure so that we will buy things that might make us more acceptable to others. But these kids had an even more difficult road to self acceptance simply because of who and how they love. I think that's what bothers me the most when it comes to gay issues. I don't think we should have to say "gay rights". It's totally stupid. These are simply human rights! But maybe I'm expecting too much of humanity. When I've talked to my 10 year old daughter about gay marriage, she says, "Mom, I don't understand. If they love each other, why does anyone care?". I'm so proud! And that's what really pisses me off. Who has the right to ever tell anyone who they can or can't love? How can love, in any form, ever be "inappropriate" or "unacceptable"?

I don't accept religious beliefs as a reason to be hateful towards the gay population. If you think it's wrong, don't do it. I hear a lot of self-righteous Christians rallying against gay people. I don't find their religion acceptable. I think it's been a bloody, hateful, judgmental, hypocritical mess since Jesus left the planet but I don't protest against it because it's not my business. I simply don't go to church. And in my opinion, Jesus would cringe if he saw people acting so ignorant and destructive in his name. There was a group protesting at a military funeral because they protest the military's "acceptance" of homosexuality. How sick is that? What compassionate faith would drive someone to go to a funeral, where family and friends are mourning the loss of a LIFE, of someone they love, and set up camp to complain to that person's boss? How is it they were not arrested? I don't want to hear about someone's freedom of speech. It's not free when you're hurting others! It's utterly unacceptable and, to me, shows signs of mental illness.

In local (to me) news, the assistant Attorney General of Michigan has been stalking a student of the University of Michigan. More than stalking, the man set up a blog devoted to slating this poor person. He went to his home, to parties he attended, called him a Nazi and racist- all baseless. When I first heard this I thought, "Wow, that guy should really be fired." Then I thought, "He should really be jailed, too, because that's so scary. He made the young man's life unsafe!" Now I'm thinking he should be institutionalized. Indefinitely. I mean really, who does these things? So that man was being paid with my tax dollars and spent his time terrorizing someone he doesn't know based on his sexuality. That, to me, is seriously an indicator of mental illness and I'm creeped-out to be sharing a state with the man. Wherever he is, it's not far enough unless he's behind bars or surrounded by padded walls.

That's what I really can't understand. What drives people to do these things to others? Why would anyone want to be hateful to another person? I have never seen a gay rally for anti-anything. I see gay pride. That's awesome and obviously much needed. In a world where we're plagued with war, starvation, greed, homelessness... Where so many are lacking the basics of survival, how can people waste their time hating others for loving each other? I don't think we should be able to vote on gay marriage, it should be a non-issue. It should be anyone's human right to marry the one they love. It's something the Religious Right uses to get people riled up and draw attention from the real issues. Anyone who would vote against it would not be affected by the law anyway. I don't want to hear about money or benefits either. That's a really sick and sad reason to stop people from making their bond legal. But then, that's what our society really values- money over love.

I have gay friends and I have to say, I know so few couples who have that real, true, visible love but I see it in many gay couples. It's couples like these that give me hope for finding true love in my life. Who would ever want to destroy that? When there is such a lack of love on this planet, who would ever want to come between two people who share it?

It might sound harsh but I believe the people who were bullying these kids should be jailed as accessories to their deaths. Make a new ruling- accessory to suicide. That might be the only thing to stop this kind of behavior. How is it fair that they're walking free, probably feeling good about themselves, and the people they tormented are not with us anymore? It's a crime, plain and simple.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

For the Love of Self

I talk a lot about love here and while I won't attempt to define the indefinable, I would like to try to bring it into clearer focus. It's a word used so often that there are innumerable definitions: romantic love, familial love, love between friends, love of the earth and nature, love of art... It seems a lot of emphasis is put on romantic love, probably as it tends to be the most compelling, most tumultuous interaction we share here in life. It certainly shows us the range of our highs and lows.

When I talk about love, I'm most often talking about something I have no words for. I have love for my daughter and my family, love for my friends and my cats. I love my house and my city. I love good food and music. I love books and learning. I love life itself and I'm learning to really love myself but none of these add up to what I mean when I talk about love. If I could add them all together, and multiply them by the number of cells in my body or the number of bodies on the Earth, it might start to come close.

Someone said to me recently, "What I really want is love.". It was said with a mixture of more sorrow than hope. My immediate response, (believing that the person meant romantic love), was that we have to love ourselves before we can really love another. Not only that, we have to love ourselves before we can accept that another could love us and really feel that love. I had to think about this, though, because I have a bit of sorrow when I think of the desire for (romantic) love in my life. I have huge love for the world, so much I can't stand to see all the strife. I know that this is an impersonal love, not fueled by what others do so much as by what we all are. I also feel that I've started to cultivate a strong self-love that, while new and somewhat small, sustains me through most things. If I have these big forms of love, why do I feel sorrow around the desire for an other? I suppose it's just loneliness- that feeling I've successfully denied for so long.

Self love must be the beginning of all love in a person's life. I think- no- I know that when you don't love yourself, it can be so hard to imagine really doing so. We see so many things "wrong" with ourselves and the world tends to reinforce these beliefs. It's everything from how we look to what we do. We could spend our lives picking ourselves apart, and in some ways most of us do. Many of us find it hard to feel good about our accomplishments. Some of us may even feel we haven't accomplished anything of merit at all, (I have those days). Still others have amazing accomplishments and realize that but the success itself can set up some insecurities. They start to wonder if people really like them for who they are, or for what they've done.

All that just to say that self-love is not rooted in our accomplishments or lack thereof. It doesn't matter what we've done or what we may do. Self-love is about who we are right now, in this moment. We don't have to do or change anything in order to be lovable. The first step is compassion. It's to forgive ourselves for all we do that we think is wrong. It's to realize our true nature as good and kind and innocent. We're not here to attain perfection. We're not here to know it all or to get it all right. When people think, "I'll love myself when I lose a few pounds or when I finish this book or when I find someone else who really loves me.", they're putting off the true joy of those things. If you don't really love yourself, you can't trust that another would truly love you. It becomes a weight we put on another person, to make us feel loved and therefore lovable.

Compassion for yourself is the most important first step (I think) in loving yourself. If you can slow down and, rather than pity yourself, (which leads- as I well know- to depression), simply acknowledge all that's been difficult and hurtful in your life but see how you've made it through that, you're on your way. If we start to be compassionate with ourselves, we start to want to take better care of ourselves. Then we see what a gift this life is.

Not only that, we need to realize that everyone has had some struggle. Everyone gets kicked. The world simply isn't (don't tell Pollyanna I said this) a gentle, loving place. I really do believe that when we act in gentle, loving ways the world around us tends to respond by being more gentle with us, but no matter our efforts or beliefs, hardships come to us all. Also, we all make mistakes. We all have bad habits. We have all treated ourselves in unloving ways. No person here is doing everything "right" or perfectly. There are no perfect people on this planet and yet most of the time, we're trying to put our best face forward, trying to make ourselves look as "good" as possible. We all try to make it seem like we're doing a fine job handling everything, even and especially when we're struggling.

But when we love ourselves, it brings a bit of humility that allows us to reach out and ask for help. We stop trying to "look good" and start trying to feel good. Sometimes that means, "I can't do this all on my own and I'm going to ask for the help I need." When we're willing to do that, we also may become more willing to help others, seeing it not as a burden but as an important part of living a full, happy life. How much do you hate to ask for help? How much do you love to be of help to your friends? Isn't that strange?

So to address (but not answer) the issue of self-love in terms of romantic relationships, I have to assume that it will strengthen any bond two people create. If they already know that they're lovable, they have learned to take care of themselves, and they know it's safe to ask for help, so much more communication becomes possible. They're not dependent on one another to make them feel worthy. They also know that everything is not up to one person. It's balanced and they both feel supported by the other without being completely dependent. They can go about their own lives without fear of losing interest by not being with someone every minute. They will make an effort to remain entrenched in their own lives rather than starting to live the life of the one they love. They will see how they can each remain who they are, and yet something more than the sum grows between them.

From this place, it would become so much easier to really love someone. You would realize that you're not losing anything by giving. It would be so much easier to establish trust and intimacy because you're able to let down your guard, to be your true and authentic self with someone. And I think that's what we all want, ultimately. We want to be loved but we want to be loved as ourselves, not as that 'best face' we put on for the world. We want someone to really see us, to see all of us and say, "I love you", and really mean that, to the bones.

So since I'm not in a place to really talk about romantic relationships and, honestly, still not sure I'm ready to embark upon that journey, I will keep working with this big love I'm learning. It's a bit safer but no less profound. It's what allows me to say, with truth and integrity, that I love you to the bones. Yep, you, reading this right now. I may never have met you and I may never meet you but I love you because you're beautiful and worthy of love. I love you because you're here on this Earth, struggling and delighting, laughing and crying, loving and hurting just the same as me. I love you because I know I'm not alone. I love you, not because it's what we're supposed to do, but because it's what feels good. I love you because I think it's love that we're made of, that binds us one to another. I love you because you deserve to be loved.