The War Of Words

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Recently, I have been thinking back to the days when the boys were young. Those were the days and many of them I would never like to repeat. They were stressful with meltdowns and words that took a cruel aim to the heart.

“I hate you” “I wish you were not my mom” “You’re a whiney little jerk” “Mom, he called me a butt.” Those kinds of things. Normal, yes, but the frequency at our house was 100 times what was normal. It was exhausting.

I remember at one point trying to get the boys to think before they said something. Hard to do when you are seven and in the heat of the moment. Hard for me to do now at 55+ and if I am honest; I have never been a model for saying quiet well-thought-out words.

During these early days of chaotic boyhood, a friend once  told me what she asked her kids when the War of Words was going on. I thought it was genius and wished I had done more of it as they grew up. She would ask her kids:

Is what you said kind?

Is what you said helpful?

Is what you said loving?

Often times just by asking these questions I found I could bring a temporary respite to all the chaos. It was a blessing. It taught my kids that words have meaning and repercussions too.

Recently, I was thinking back to those times and I decided that those questions of yesteryear were valuable not just for kids but for me too and I have been trying to be mindful before I speak by asking myself these questions before spouting off. I have also added two other questions to ask myself before responding to others:

Is what I am about to say true?

What is my motivation (honest) for saying what is on my mind?

Admittedly, it is hard for me to remember to ask myself these questions before talking. Often, I fall far short of where I would like to be. But usually, if I just pause before speaking, I can do a quick inventory in my head of the answers to these questions and decide whether my response is:

True

Honest

Loving

Kind

Helpful

 

If what I am about to say is not any of the above; I am trying to learn to shut my mouth and keep it that way. As a person who has shot from the hip most of her life this is a real learning experience for me. A challenge akin to climbing Mt. Everest. It is not easy. It takes a little bit of awareness and planning. But every time I succeed in being mindful I know I am getting to be one step closer to the person I want to be which gives me hope that maybe one day before I die I will master this ability to speak mindfully and to shut my mouth when needed. But somehow I suspect that it might take my deathbed to figure it all out if even then. Yet, I keep trying because I know for the sanity of all involved that when I am kind, loving, honest, helpful, and true I give the best of myself to those who deserve only the best of me.

Amen (so be it)

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Words

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We are walking along the cliffs. The wind is blowing. Huge waves are crashing against massive boulders in anticipation of the storm that is blowing in. B huddles deeper into his coat as the air picks up my words and delivers them to the man beside me.

“Everyday, you can choose to love or you can choose not to,” I say to B. “And so I choose to love you today and I will choose to love you forever.”

“That’s nice,” he says flashing that smile I have known and loved for so many years. The smile that I suddenly want to slap right off of his face.

THAT’S NICE?????!!!! REALLY….AFTER OVER 30 YEARS TOGETHER IS THAT ALL YOU’VE GOT? DON’T YOU KNOW YET THAT…

I am a woman who needs words. I write for a living for God’s sake! I love hearing double vowels, romantic words, and certain letters rolling off the tongue like the sound of an L, which can be so incredibly sexy when you are at the right place in time with the right person. I like hearing sharp bursts of words from children who have found dragons and mermaids and have to tell you all about the experience in 2.3 seconds or less so you see them before they vanish in thin air. I like words that are carefully chosen like a mother who measures cough syrup for her child in order to get the correct dose thus ensuring no harm. I like playful words like tumble and words with double meanings. I like words that are said with a laugh oozing up out of the throat, desperate words that are said while waiting for hot sex, and the words you whisper to a baby as their heads slump onto your chest their eyes fuzzy with Mr Sandman’s visit and almost nearly closed.

I LOVE WORDS!

So what is a woman to do when she is married to a man who doesn’t? Can she be happy without an “I love you too, honey” coming back at her? Can she feel understood and cherished when the words she needs to hear do not come out of his mouth? I’ve lived without them for so long why do I desire them now? Is this what a “maybe divorce” does to you? It makes you word crazy?

I realize to many this isn’t a problem at all. There are much more serious things in the world. B doesn’t beat me. He goes to work everyday. He doesn’t abuse me. He is great in bed…isn’t that enough? I mean…. REALLY…ISN’T THAT GOOD ENOUGH?

How many times I have heard my girlfriends tell me they wished they had a husband like mine….so kind and sweet….and he even does housework!

Why can’t that be enough?

I know many women whose lovers have said all the right words and meant none of them. Better to have no words than lies? Better to endure omissions rather than half-truths? I have no clue… but I do know that often B doesn’t respond with reassuring words and after these past two years of hell I find I want them. I might even need them.

All I know is that without words life is dull…like living in a black and white movie. It’s like eating salad everyday for dinner and skipping the dessert. Life without meaningful words looks like a bare bulb dangling in a stark white room. Its like a warm beer when it is 103 degrees outside and feels like that pit you get in your stomach when a cop pulls you over for speeding.

I want words. I want endearments, I want to know what you are feeling. I am tired of missed opportunities or the absence of words that leave me confused and hanging. Because without the proper words it feels as if storm clouds have entered my head and the disappointment is whipping up the winds that blow through my mind and turning what could have been a gentle spring shower into a raging hurricane. So button your coat and sink even further into it because a storm is coming. And I think it is me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pitter Patter of Little Feet

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Today after a wonderful day in the Florida Keys I arrived back at the hotel and saw my sweet grand babies. My daughter, Noele, drove 10 hours with a three-year-old and an almost two-year-old in the back of her car. She endured much crying, fighting, and a MAJOR puking incident just so she could see us again. Somehow, with all the mistakes we made as parents she turned out just right despite our good intentions. How that happened I will never know.

From the time she was a tween this mother/daughter team could always find something to argue about. Things like… which side of the toast is the correct side to butter, whether being a strict vegan was taking things to the extreme, and if boys were allowed to be in her room. Much to my dismay while I knew I loved her deeply, I didn’t like her  much and our relationship didn’t match the Brady Bunch ideal swimming around in my head.  I would see mothers (Carol) and daughters (Marcia) walking the malls together and it would pull at my heart. Seeing teens and their mothers enjoying a movie together hurt like hell. And those mothers who ran the Booster Club with their kids helping along side them…I knew it was never going to happen.

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B hunkered down. As a man who avoids conflict at all costs, having two of the women he loved most in the world living in a war zone with him serving as a NATO soldier trying to broker a peace deal was not an easy task. He never could understand all the slammed doors and word grenades being flung from one side of the house to the other and he visibly cringed when skirmishes erupted.

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When Noele was fifteen I never envisioned that we would have any sort of relationship until she kicked my casket into the ground. In fact, my biggest hope was that she would graduate early so she could move out of the house sooner and after a year away as an international exchange student, she returned home more stubborn and determined to ignore anything thing we had to say. And who could blame her? She tasted freedom for a year and wanted even more. The parental role I once relished became a nightmare and a battle of wills ensued in which both of us suffered heavy losses. Recovery seemed remote.

But then it happened. One day she grew up and into her own woman. It took a while and a first child for that to happen. The birth of my granddaughter brought several miracles along with her. No longer at odds with each other our commonalities soon surfaced and within those we found mutual respect and a deep well filled with love that was once bone dry.

These days we live at opposite ends of the country. We SKYPE almost daily so we can share tidbits of our daily lives and so that her kids “know” their Grammy and Papa. Noele willingly comes and takes care of her own children plus her brothers and sister so B and I can travel to far-flung places. I can’t imagine someone I would rather invest in a friendship with than my daughter. She values family, is generous with her time and is a good all-around person who has made me proud.

Tomorrow I will wake up with little ones running into my arms again. Squishy hugs and wet kisses will fill my day. We will squirm together, laugh together, and make real- life memories together. And its all because of her…my daughter…a once formidable foe who is now one of my best friends.

 

Right Speech, Better Communication

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Throughout my life I have been a person who is expressive. A person who uses lots of words and used them well. Too well it seems. I used words to let everyone know exactly what was on my mind at all times. I let words leave my mouth like flying monkeys swooping up people without thinking about the true meaning of my words. I didn’t care how I said IT just as long as IT was said.

Recently, it has occurred to me that my words were hurting others and as a result they were hurting me too. I realized that I was not connecting my heart to my tongue and had no idea how to do so. Even though I knew I wanted to change how I communicated I had idea of how to go about it. But then I chanced upon the Daily OM and the course How to Communicate Like a Buddhist : Lesson 1: The Elements of Right Speech by Cynthia Kane.

Kane’s way of approaching communication is different from anything I had ever seen. She states that the real purpose of communication is to help ourselves and others suffer less. And when communication is looked at through this lens it tosses convention aside and it makes it crystal clear that if we wish to change our relationships then the words we use, the intention behind them, and the way that we speak through them must be radically changed into talk that is kinder, more honest and most importantly… helpful… to those receiving our words.

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The thing I love about this course is that you pay for it based on what you think it is worth to you. Kane’s talks are detailed, thoughtful and in short…amazing. In addition, there is nightly homework to help firm up the ideas you are learning and put them into practice.

So here’s to better communication everyone! May your words be true, kind and helpful and may your well-chosen words spur you on to better and more rewarding relationships!

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Precious

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I’ve lost something precious,

That I can’t get back,

Erupting like Campi Flegrei,

I was a force of un-ending power,

Capable of killing love off,

Spitting words, ill-actions, and deeds

Spewing  word grenades through the air,

Erupting so often,

Your soul was scorched,

Love burned to the bone,

The resulting ash,

Spread amongst a family,

That leaves a residue,

That cannot be removed

 

 

I’ve lost something precious,

It cannot be found,

Underneath the wreckage,

Of past hurts,

By refusing to see,

The other side to the issue,

Insisting on being right,

Instead of being loving,

Selfish instead of giving,

Righteous instead of irreverent,

Proud instead of humble,

Rushed instead of patient,

 

 

 

I’ve lost something precious,

That used to be mine,

Due to lack of attention,

Deficiency of appreciation,

Spoilt indulgences,

And not understanding,

That the delicacy of love,

Is as strong but translucent,

As that of a Monarch Butterfly,

Able to travel thousands of miles,

As long as you don’t disturb,

The scales on its wings.

 

I’ve lost something precious,

That most don’t,

Find in a lifetime,

A thing dreams are made of,

A fairytale complete,

And I miss it… mourn it,

And wish for a re-do,

But I can never make up for,

The pain that I have caused…

I AM SORRY

 

 

 

 

I miss it

 

I miss you

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A Good Book

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I am reading the book Perfume River by Pulitzer Prize winner Robert Olen Butler. His words flow like a river during the spring rains…rushing and so powerful that they threaten to pull you under. Yet, Butler also knows how to write as if the river is also drying and receding into itself … the author’s words trickling from the pages in a sparse kind of way like the character who finds himself parched and unable to continue his journey.

As a writer I find it amazing when an author can match the flow of his words with the flow of the story. It’s a rarity, that. Most people can write of feelings and place but show me an author who has the gift of using words to match the tempo of the story, like a composer who pens his first notes for each instrument; well, it is a gift to the reader.

I wish I had the ability to match my words and actions with the tempo of storyline that is running throughout my life. Often I feel that my passion is too intense for the scene or that I fall behind not realizing the importance of the moment until it has passed. Sometimes I find  myself experiencing a momentary loss of words as I traverse this life that is mine. Having my emotions and words match what is going on in life often presents a bit of a challenge and I find that sometimes I am missing the perfect words that would complete the chapter in a satisfying sort of way for all the characters in my life.

But if the truth is told,  seldom is the time that we get to write our own life story as we envision it. Often plots are pushed upon us through no fault of our own and characters we never imagined magically appear. We expect a monsoon but get a drought instead. And as we journey through life we often forget that our words set the pace for what happens next, who we become, and the quality of our relationships that we are in.

So today, let us be mindful of the words we are saying and where they might be taking us. Let us craft our words and deeds like the chapter of a good book. And by thinking before speaking, let us be like that author who knows what to edit out to make the story flow. After all, it is our own personal story so its up to us to make it interesting and something we would be proud to let others read.  We may not get a Pulitzer Prize but we will get immense satisfaction in taking the time to craft a life that becomes our own bestseller.

 

 

 

 

Into The Dark I Go

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So this week I went to see my therapist. We had an interesting discussion in which she told me that I do not have to say out loud every thought that enters my brain. And while I have “understood” this for quite a while I have a hard time putting it into practice for it stems from some parts of my childhood and marriage that are not yet resolved. For whatever reason, I associate that saying what you feel it = honesty. Not saying what you feel = dishonesty.

“How is that working for you?” she asked. “Not too well is it? I have to say your radar on honesty and dishonesty is out of whack. It is a defense that has nothing to do with true honesty and you need to work hard to figure it out.”

Even I have to admit she is correct. Evidence shows that this way of operating befuddles me and creates unnecessary pain for myself and others.

She went on:

“You think you are being honest when in fact you are not because you are not allowing time for things to gel. By jumping the gun you are getting facts wrong or putting them in a category that they do not belong in. You are not containing what you are thinking long enough to see if the facts line up with your powerful intuition and when you speak from intuition without the facts you are not being honest.You are not being mindful. In fact, by not allowing time to pass in which you can throughly examine what is before you, well, you are contributing to some of the dishonesty that occurs in your life.”

Ouch.

“Further,” she went on, “When you speak too soon it shows that you are not operating in a conscious and mindful manner. It shows that you are just surviving which is not healthy.”.

Ugh

Again she is right …which makes the near future a whole lot more difficult. Because once again I have got some heavy duty work to do on myself which means unpacking a lot of boxes that lie in the Place of Mystery which are hidden in the deep and dark recesses of my mind. And while I know it will be worth it in the end, right now it feels like trying to unwrap a house that has been encased in yards of cellophane one layer at a time. This feels hard, tiresome and exhausting.  And it will be. I try to remind myself that to produce the change I want to see, I have to put forth effort. So today, I start by unpacking one box and putting one foot in front of the other… so I get eventually get where I want to go.

With the light of wisdom

We leave behind the forest of confusion.

With determination we learn,

We reflect and practice -Thich Nhat Hanh

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Raw

I read a few of my writings to him

He was hurt and upset

Believed my words and thoughts were raw

He said:

“Why didn’t you let me see these

Before we went into the therapists office

Why would you save this for in there?

Why didn’t you let me see your words and let me

think about them before going in?”

I think:

It’s suppose to be a safe place

Exactly where we are suppose to take

Our deepest hurts and fears

Where we have someone to help us

Through the words and through the tears

He thinks:

Why did you ambush me?

It’s his real question

Unspoken with words

But spoken just the same

I think:

Maybe I just want to hear from your heart

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And not listen to your rehearsed

Very logical answers

Maybe I long to know

What you really FEEL not THINK

To hear words spoken from the heart

Not encased in the laughter you use

To deflect the feelings that threaten

To overwhelm you like a bad case

Of poison ivy

I am:

Guilty and sad that I hurt him

Wishing that I could say with words

The things I so easily write on paper

Perhaps they would be less complex

And easier to hear

But I am not sure that words are whats needed now

Maybe its deep feelings

Because we both want to run from them

Instead of dealing with the pain they contain

I know:

I still love him

That it hurt me deeply to hurt him

Even if that was not my intention

My intention was to be HEARD

And I wish I could take back the words

I said because I don’t want to see

Him retreat

Because of my pain

And his pain

Because really he just wants peace, love and rainbows

Happiness and joy

He claims he is a simple man

Uses it as an excuse

Not to touch those parts of him

That make him feel vulnerable and afraid

He says:

He is a simple man

But we both know better than that

 

 

 

Dyed Love

 

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I loved you once you know

Deeply. completely. selfishly

I devoured you…wanting you to know

Everything I was thinking

Because you couldn’t tell me

What was in your own head

So , instead, I put ideas into your head

While trying to force you to examine things

You had hidden away

From yourself for protection

Of a soul shredded

Long before I came on the scene

I am tired of you blaming me

For what the ghosts in your past

Did to you

And I am tired of seeking answers

From a man is not brave enough

To figure out whether he wants a life with me

Or without

I feel raw, used, scattered

Blown up into pieces that are gone

There is not enough glue in the world

For me to painstakingly put them all together again

Because I am busy and tired of trying to fill up

Your empty spaces and your selfish wants

The ones you know about (yes… those ones you selfish bastard)

And the ones you aren’t even aware of yet

but I am…

I am aware of more than you give me credit for

But I cannot put you together anymore either

You have to do it yourself

Stop depending on me to make

You feel good about yourself again

I can no longer carry your feelings for you

I can barely carry my own

When I remember I even have them anymore

Instead I remember a grenade

That exploded deep within my soul

And you are the one who threw it

Wounding us

You and me

And I wonder if we will ever be the same

For I am running on fumes

Somewhere near the end

Of wanting to figure all of this out

Wanting to run away from the pain

From You

From this life

That at times no longer feels right

Or loving or kind or cherished

A life that is made more complicated

By the issues of others

Until I can no longer differentiate between

Their issues and yours

But find I am growing tired of both

Of giving of myself 100%

When I just want to retreat

Somewhere deep. silent. and kind.

A place where I am no longer wounded

On a daily basis

A place where I can heal

And I can stand up again

Full of confidence. happiness. and belief

That I really do have purpose in my life

And that it starts with me

My purpose. my wants. my needs.

Alone

Without having to consider

And put first

The needs of anyone else in the world

 

 

 

 

 

The Fallacy Of Pulling Yourself Up By Your Bootstraps

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I confess I used to be on a BB in which a majority of the people were conservative Christians. I left the group because many people on this BB have made repeated attacks on those who are down in their luck,those who are poor, and those who are anything but white, etc. They constantly espouse the belief that Obama wants to take care of all these “losers” at the expense of all these good God fearing tax payers. Of course the word, Socialism has recently been introduced to instill more fear and justify their irrational hatred of Obama. In fact one person went so far as to write:

“The poor keep getting poorer because they keep doing whatever it was that made them poor in the first place. Ditto for the rich. There is nothing at all unexpected or unforseen about the behavior that’s responsible for most of the poverty in this country. If you ignore your education, fail to develop a work ethic, do drugs, get pregnant before you’re out of high school or before you can afford to raise a child, become a petty criminal, join a gang, hang with what you obviously know to be the wrong crowd, become a drinker, or generally comport yourself like a self-loathing slob, guess what? You’re probably not going to make a lot of money!” 

The tragedy of it all…their children are ethnic minorities in this country and many insist that their white male children have it so much harder than their non-caucasian kids. WHATTTTTTT!!!!??????

So let’s take a minute and examine the above statement and those types of thoughts that go with it. Let’s examine those persons in the military/captains of business and industry who have used their parents positions/connections and money to circumvent the system to get opportunities that others deserved. They use the political and economic systems for personal gain not based on merit but on these types of connections. And they use them in order to increase their wealth and to grab power or prestige . Even worse is their sense of entitlement to those positions. It is truly mind boggling. We don’t have to look very far to find examples of these types of people. Do the names Bush  and Trump ring a bell? Frankly, these are the people that are far more dangerous to me than any two-bit hooker. Plenty of rich people hang with the wrong crowd, become drinkers, fail to develop a work ethic, etc. Yet, they have the luxury of money, connections and family to sustain them and even promote them to places they do not deserve to be. A lot of people with higher grades/SATS etc do not get into Ivy League schools where these connections are further developed and strengthened because someone’s Daddy knows someone, they have donated to the school, or their parents have attended.It’s a system that serves to preserve itself at the expense of the less fortunate.

When I think about these issues I am reminded of that fact that during the Vietnam war many kids were able to avoid serving or served in positions that kept them in the states due to the positions/connections their parents held. People can become officers in the military because they can get into the academy that “normal” people cannot or someone who is truly deserving to be there is denied due to those connections. So to try to make the case that the poor stay poor because of their “laziness” while the rich get richer due to their “implied” hard work is not often true.

But even more troubling to me is this. So many of these conservative Christians tout the “Pick Yourself Up By Your Bootstraps” mentality. And finally we have a president who stands before them having done just that. And instead of giving him the kudos for doing what they insist all people should do and using his achievements as an inspiration for others; they turn around and renounce him. So what exactly is it that a black man is suppose to do? Stay at the bottom rung of society where you are chastised and beaten down? Or rise to the top and then you are labeled an elitist and a terrorist to boot. And if the truth be told many of these people don’t want people of color to succeed because it goes against their idea of ‘what things SHOULD look like if all is right with their world.

So the next time you hear the spiel about bootstraps and Obama acknowledge it for what it really is…racism cloaked in “proper talk ” attempting to hide the fact it is just plain hate mongering. And please, stand up and correct the intentional distortion of facts that are presented as “Truth” on Fox News to the perpetrators of your conversation. For the only way that all of mankind will be free is when hate is no longer  tolerated.