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At some point in the past year, one of my friends mentioned that there was this site out there on the world-wide-web called “fmylife.com,” where people could go to post about their ridiculous and outrageous misadventures, the twists and turns of fate, and the crappity things that happen to them.
Being an intrepid web-traveler, I figured I’d give it a shot. Posts ranged from the truly horrific and tragic to the whiney, superficial, and dramatic. I came, I read, and initially, I sat there in sympathy and commiseration with these anonymous unfortunates.
I felt encouraged to focus on all of the small annoyances in my own life, and to mull over the larger tragedies – and then, to just sit there…in that. Not terribly healthy. And then, I realized that wading through this effluvia had an undesirable and marked effect on me – it dragged me down into the slushy muck of self-pity with them. I’m fully aware of how easy it is to slide off the path and into this mire on my own, and I don’t want that kind of encouragement, thanks. I haven’t gone back to their site.
Some weeks later, I stumbled across a site started in response (and perhaps rebuttal?) to FML, called Givesmehope.com (GMH). Instead of posting all of the ways their lives have been fouled up, people write about all of the wonderful, touching experiences they’ve had, heard about, or witnessed – all of the times, ways, and shapes in which they’ve encountered the love of the Divine here on earth.
As I read through the many posts, a lump grew in my throat, and I found myself tilting my head back in order to blink my tears away. Generally, I am not one of those gals who cries at refrigerator commercials and stuff, so I was a little surprised at how affected I was. And, then, insidious, a small voice in the back of my mind murmured, “It’s probably all made up…people don’t do that for one another…what tripe…can’t believe you’re swallowing this ridiculous twaddle…don’t believe it…” and so on and so forth. This “loop” brought me up short and gave me a lot to ponder.
Why did I have such an easy, effortless time believing the negativity posted on one site, and such a hard time believing the optimism on another? And…why did I care if it were true or not? Each post on the GMH site reflected someone’s willingness to believe in compassion, love and unconditional kindness – and that, I decided, was the true thing; Their willingness to believe in goodness.
I started to think about all of the hopeful moments on my own journey, all the times I chose love over fear, all the strangers who’ve extended me love or kindness without expecting anything in return. And then I felt it – that glow, that feeling of utter connectedness to everyone and everything – that sense of knowing that what you foster within yourself, you offer to the world, whether you know it or not.
And, I could see how these two websites symbolized one of the most eternal choices we are given; to choose to live in love and foster love, or to live in fear and spread fear. Every moment of every day of our lives, we are presented with choice.
On Sunday, my only day “off,” I was rushing around, hurried and harried, and growing increasingly crabby, as I tried to get a whole mess of chores and stuff done, so I could get to my folks’ to do our laundry. In my myopic state, I could only see all that I had left TO DO. I was getting into my car in the parking lot of the last store, when an old man parked next to me and said, “It looks like you’re leaving home!” I burst out laughing – I carry loads of stuff with me all of the time and my fiancé, my dad, and my grandpa have said that to me pretty much every time they see me. The old man’s interest and concern snapped me out of my funk, kept me laughing all the way to my folks’ house, and GMH.
It’s so easy to lapse into fear and the negativity that fear breeds – “I have so much to do…how will I ever get all of this done…why is this all on me….” etc., etc., etc. I’m grateful to the Universe for all those “wake-up” moments that remind me that I have a choice here – love or fear.
For your daily dose of optimism, visit:
(Founders of givesmehope.com, Gaby Montero and Emerson Spartz, say “We’re tired of hearing about what’s wrong with this world…who couldn’t use a few more reasons to hope each day?”)
I have always loved autumn. I love the jeweled trees, the leaf-bedecked streets. I love the crispness of the air, and the bite in the wind – an atmosphere where all facades are cleared away and the truth of things emerges.
I love to look around and see what the seasons of creation have wrought – to watch as plump pumpkins appear on doorsteps, and woodsmoke begins to waft through twilight evenings. I love this time of harvest – of bringing in all the products of growth.
I love to look out over the fields and see the jittery bones of cornstalks marching off into the distance, mellow-golden soldiers standing at the ready, anticipating the time when their usefulness comes to an end. I love the birds bunching from one field to the next, schooling and pooling in the air-sea. I love the geese announcing their plans to travel, their intention to shift their families to warmer climes and sunnier shores.
I have never had the sense of depression or moroseness that others have about this enchanted season – I look around me and see celebration, wholeness, fullness, cycle – birth and rebirth. The endings encountered now give way to new opportunities – autumn speaks to me of that lull that always seems to follow bursts of growth – where we are given time to settle into the changes that have come so that we may start off again rested, and with a strong step.
I like the sleepiness of the fall – I like that everything sinks slowly down, back into the earth. I like to watch this process of rejuvenation. Autumn is only sad if you believe that there will never be another spring, that there will never be another time of fecund growth and boisterous creation.
My life mirrors this cycle – instead of mourning the endings (for they surely and inevitably come), I try to find the gift in the experience I’ve had, and look to the potential of the new coming to me over the horizon. For me, autumn is more about the potential and promise of the new beginning than it is about mourning change.
I love the way that people seem to regain their sense of wonder, their childlike fascination, with the beauty and the majesty and the mystery of our world – autumn is a visceral, visual reminder that the cycles continue, the world has her own agenda. It reconnects us to something primal and deep – the naturalness of change, the necessity of change… and the accompanying promise of a new gift to follow.
All week, I had a low, low grade fever – just enough to make my skin sensitive and my eyelids hurt. All week, I felt exhausted, even though I went to bed earlier than usual and took naps during my lunches. And all week, I had a sore throat – just enough to make me uncomfortable and make each breath scrape as it passed. All week, I kept thinking, “Okay, what’s going on here? Am I sick, or what?”
By Thursday night, I was just weary, and I’d had one of those days that wore me down from start to finish. One of those days where I just wished that my mother would come along and tuck me into her pocket and keep me there all day. One of those days where I simply wanted my mom.
So, I called her and told her that – something which I have not been particularly likely to do lately. I told her I loved her, and that all day long, I’d simply longed to be her daughter, and to be cared for by her.
This was momentous, because it’s been brought to my awareness that I have been courting her displeasure and disapproval. All along, I’d been telling myself and anyone else who would listen that what I really wanted was her approval and that I just couldn’t understand why she just couldn’t accept me and who I am and why she and I no longer seemed able to be friends. (Whine, whine, poor me, poor me. Puke.)
I started to do a lot of soul searching about it. I came to see the truth of my behavior, and the results of my behavior. And, as a good friend and mentor pointed out, my mother and I were locked together in a dance – where I darted in, and she pulled away. Where I pushed and she retreated.
In my heart, was this the kind of relationship I wanted to have with her? No. But it was definitely the one my ego was choosing for me. And now that I had come into consciousness about it, I had to make a choice. I could either allow things to continue as they were – but in full knowledge of the situation and the predictable outcome – or I could choose differently.
I thought about what I really want to have between my mom and myself. All I really want is to love her. All I can control are my own actions, and my own reactions. I can make different choices. I can take different steps in our dance – offering her the choice to take different steps, too.
My phone call to her Thursday night was part of the new dance. The one where I get to love her for the wonderful woman she is, for the wonderful mother she is, for the wonderful spirit she is.
Tomorrow is the new moon – the time to set intentions for the coming cycle, the time of beginnings and startings. I intend to dance to a new tune with my mom, and to just allow myself to love her, to appreciate her. I intend to allow this to seep into my consciousness, and to allow these new steps to gradually become a comfortable habit.
And above all? I’m grateful to have the opportunity to do this now. I know that she and I don’t have forever as these people in this life – and in this life, I intend to open my heart and just love her.
Love you Mom …