Sunday, May 8, 2016

The Hard Part of Mother's day

I think the hardest part for me about Mother’s Day is that I remember my human failings as a mother. I think of all those times I had no idea what I was doing. I was not fully aware of my own wounding and was therefore, incapable of responding apart from that woundedness. There are those memories, those times I can never get back. Ever. I think of those and it weighs heavy on my heart. Mother’s Day needs to be large enough to hold that too.

Being a mother or a father is such an important job, raising a human to survive in this world and to thrive. It is not something to be taken lightly. Although, in our culture I think many have children without a thought or conscious consideration as to what they are doing. It is just what one does. Grow up, get married, have children.

This is what I did. I raised a human without fully understanding what I was doing and how to do it. Much of what I learned and repaired along the way, or attempted to repair, was a result of the work I did in healing my relationship with myself. But that was much later, and by that time there was a wake of destruction behind me. This I grieve.

What is also true is I have come to love my human vulnerability, my courage, my willingness to fail and be seen. I have learned to embrace my not-beautiful and even talk about it.

This is the part of me I want to make room for today, and hold with compassion and tenderness. The part of me that fails, falls down, and gets the fuck back up. The part of me that rises strong again and again, because I do. I am not a Hallmark Mother. I’m not a traditional mother. What I am is so much broader than that. Today I hold space for all of me, as both a mother of a daughter and a daughter of a mother.

If I am going to honor myself as a mother on Mother’s Day, I want to honor all of who I am.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Why go away on a Women's Retreat?

I have been exploring and making lists about what makes a woman's retreat so wonderful. This time next year, I will be leading a women's retreat at the beautiful Bend of Ivy Lodge​ just outside of Asheville. To generate interest, I am posting some of what I know is true. I will add to it as the days go by. If you have other reasons and stories to share, please do! :D

Why go on a Women's Retreat?

Sisterhood: There is nothing quite as transformative and regenerative as sitting in circle with other women sharing stories and making discoveries.

Self-care: Women are the primary nurturers of the world. Our ultimate challenge is to direct all those loving, compassionate qualities upon ourselves. Going on a retreat is a declaration to those around us and to ourselves that self-care is no longer perceived as selfish but is instead a necessity. Our well-being is a pre-requisite for the well being of all those around us.

Solitude: Going on retreat gives you the space and the time to reconnect with aspects of yourself that you have forgotten or put on the back burner. On retreat, you get the opportunity to bridge that gap.

Silence: “Your life is always talking to you - are you listening?”
A woman needs to step away from the outer cacophony of voices, to hear her own innate wisdom. She needs the time and space to know the sound of her own voice, to speak it, and then choose to honor it. Taking the time while on retreat to sit quietly in nature is a wonderful way to listen to your heart. If you are highly verbal like myself, a retreat can teach you the value and pleasure of silence in the quiet of solitude and tranquility.

Peace and quiet: you get to go to away to a location that is removed from your routine life, often some place with nature as its beautiful surroundings. This kind of peace and quiet is infinitely healing.

Like-minded people: You have a unique opportunity to meet people who are more or less in the same situation as you are, looking for the same support and solutions. As in every group, you will connect with some and stay in touch with others.

Me-time: the retreat time, however long, is all about YOU. Forget work or the kids. Concentrate on you and just you.

Thinking: You do get a lot of time to think. So you can tackle a problem, solve an issue or discuss future plans with women you grow to trust.

Discovery: A retreat is all about discovery. Of yourself, of other people, of a new place, of new tips and tricks. Be open and remain curious. You may very well learn new ways of thinking and being.

That is the beginning of my list. I have more, but for now I would LOVE to hear from some of you who have participated in Women's Retreats. Let me know what you found to be true with your experience.

Friday, July 10, 2015

What I Believe

Me (left) and three of my four sisters. 
My dream is to connect with other women in a deep, powerful, profound and transformative way. Here is what I believe. What do you believe?

  • I believe women united are a powerful and transformative force.
  • I believe this culture and this world seeks (sometimes consciously and sometimes not) to prevent women from discovering and tapping into the truth of their power and the transformative force that they are.
  • I believe deep and lasting change starts from within, from the relationship we have with ourselves.
  • I believe what we say to ourselves both out loud and in private, how we respond to our own needs, wants, hopes, dreams, desires … this relationship with ourselves determines how we are in the world. It determines how we are at work, how we are with our families, how we are with money, and how we are with our health.
  • I believe the degree to which we experience love and joy and connectedness in the outer world is in direct proportion to how much love and joy and connectedness we experience in relationship with ourselves.
  • I believe the way to improve the relationship with ourselves is the same way we would seek to improve any relationship. We treat it with value and respect. We make it a priority. We put ourselves first.
  • I believe as women we must use our voices and our stories to connect with one another, create change, and to know, really know that we are not alone, and that together we have power.
  • I believe there is transformative power and healing when women gather in talking circles, on retreats, and in creative workshops to explore, discover, and celebrate all of who they are.

I challenge, implore, beseech you. Connect with other women. Sit in women’s circles. Attend women’s retreats. Participate in women’s workshops. Share your stories. Tell the truth of who you are. Allow yourself to be seen. Explore. Discover. Find those aspects of yourself that have been discarded, lost, and long ago forgotten. Know who you are. Love who you are. Find your pack. Then unabashedly tell the world about it. I will tell you who I am. Tell me who you are. 

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Early This Morning...

December 23, 2014

I awoke this morning and took the dogs out. 6:30 am-ish. Walking to the kitchen, I passed the bookshelf and found this old journal on the floor. Strange. Lying there as if it had jumped from the shelf. I can't remember the last time I even looked at this journal. The notes in the front are from when I was still married to Steve, and then also from when I was in my first apartment after I moved out. 

That's 16 years ago. Yet, there it lay on the floor at my feet, most likely swept from the shelf by Frank's high and very large tail caught in the journal's spiral binding. Still, when I saw my writing through the translucent cover - the words I carved into the clay heart box I made for my daughter Gay when she graduated high school - my heart jumped. "Oh God, I haven't looked at this in years!", I thought to myself as I picked it up off the cold tile floor. And as I began to read the pages, I remembered there was more. I remembered tearing out pages that I no longer wanted to keep. I have no recollection now what they contained, only that it felt like a purge, a cleansing. 

Suddenly, I was overcome with the urge to write. So, here I sit on a rainy, dark morning journaling once again after all there years. 

This. The extraordinary experience of being alive, when even the most mundane moments are filled with soul.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

12 Hours Sleep

This morning I awoke after sleeping almost 12 hours. Yes, twelve. For about a year I have been working on a weekend retreat called Women’s Body Wisdom. Finally, on the weekend of July 18-21, I gathered with a courageous group of women at the tranquil and healing Bend of Ivy Lodge. It was in the beautiful mountains of Asheville, NC. Following the weekend, the women gathered for a follow-up conference call since we were from different parts of the country. The whole experience of that weekend continues to be a healing and transformative experience. The courage and willingness of these women to be vulnerable, to be truly seen, has been an inspiration to me. My heart is full at the joy of having found my kindred, and I look forward to creating more.

The week following the retreat was my last one before returning to the teaching world. Public Education. Ugh. Need I say more? Most teachers, especially here in the south, let that Good Girl archetype keep them silent in public, but behind closed doors there is much discontent, anger, and frustration. The broken system of public education eats passion, motivation, and inspiration like a war eats its soldiers.

During my week of pre-planning, I left the school in tears on at least two occasions. I felt angry, frustrated, and powerless. During the countywide meeting, I heard the superintendent say that teachers are “those who serve” and that he and the board are “those who serve those who serve.” Hmph. Really? Show me action. Show me evidence. Immediately I think of the adage, “The best indicator of future behavior is past behavior.” Yes, I am jaded, and I haven’t even been teaching that long! 15 years. What about those who have been teaching 20 years plus? They have seen more than I have. I am, as my husband says, “screaming impotently at the world”.  

So, I did what I could at pre-planning. Most teachers put in sooooo much more time than they are paid for. They buy supplies with their own money. It’s ridiculous beyond ridiculous. My sister, who teaches in Muskogee County, told me teachers had their daily hours cut to address budget deficit issues and then were required by their principal to arrive early and stay late for new “duties as assigned” per their contract. Yeah. That shit happens ALL the time.

Kids arrived for their first week this past Monday, August 4th. On Tuesday, I walked my dog in the evening around the neighborhood. We were almost home when we passed a house where a woman stood in her yard with her two dogs. Large dogs. UNLEASHED dogs. Three houses away they charged us. Her two large dogs charged me and my lab. In the fight that ensued, I got bit or cut on the knee and tore my hamstring. Blood running down my left leg, struggling with the lead and my balance, adrenalin coursing through my veins, I am screaming at the dogs and cussing up a storm. The woman finally got her dogs, and in an alarmed voice said to me, “Oh I’m so sorry! Are you alright?” I am limping and blood is running down my leg. I (thanks to the courageous and inspiring women of the WBW weekend) put my good little southern “nice” far away and yelled in my strongest voice, “NO! I’m not okay!! Put your goddammed dogs on a lead!!”

The next day after working a full day with a limp, I went to see the orthopedic. Yep. Torn hammie. She gave me crutches and anti-inflammatory. Told me to come back in 10 days. If it isn’t healing properly, they will do an MRI. That was Wednesday.  Guess what Thursday was? My BIRTHDAY! The doc had asked me if I had ever used crutches. I said, “Yeah. When they were wood!” HA! Man, that is WORK! So I got to school and surveyed the situation. My teacher chair has rollers on it. Suddenly I had this vision of the movie Wall-E. I told my elementary school students I was like the fat people in the floaty chairs from Wall-E. In my classroom, I rolled myself around backwards, pushing with my feet. When I needed to go to the office, I had a student push me. It worked SO much better than crutches, and they loved the “ Wall-E fat people in floaty chairs” reference.

That night, after being honest with my husband about what I wanted for my birthday, he went well beyond and poured his love and support out to me. He cared for me in a loving, tender, and generous way. It was a good and happy birthday.

To all those women who struggle with the “be nice, be sweet, don’t make a fuss” voice, I am proud to celebrate that I contacted the dog owners and spoke of responsibility and integrity. They did the right thing and have paid for my out of pocket expenses so far. It is getting easier and easier to be who I am rather than who I think I *should* be. Joseph Campbell said, “The privilege of a lifetime is being who you are.” Damn straight, Joe!

Tonight I am celebrating my birthday with friends. Two of my friends, David Stepps and Cord Woodruff, are hosting a party for me. They are generous and kind and supportive people. I am honored to call them friends. There will be local family and friends there to celebrate with me. I am looking forward to sharing that time with them. My life is full.

Twelve hours sleep?

Yeah. My body needed that.