The Giver

I was summoned to the water today, told to write and write and write! Today.

Then, put it out into the public eye. It’s important for other’s to see. So what is it I’m supposed to say? What is it? Why by the water? Yesterday was an emotional day for me. So I was ready to do anything. I heeded the message and headed to the lake. Clarity about all that had transpired would be good for me.

Initial Thoughts

Waves crashing over rocks. Polishing their edges. Washing them clean. Waves repeating over and over again. And the sun? It stays steady. Shining down on me. I felt a level of gratitude just being able to sit in this space. Then the story started to come to me and I simply let my pen write

What Happens To The Giver?

What happens to a person who’s called into this life to be a giver? That person is drawn to people who need and she opens the door. She says, “Come in.” Her hugs are genuine and so welcome. As she reassures. “I’m here. I can listen. Tell me your story.” And out pours the tears mixed with “I don’t know what to do.” She comforts. “It’s ok. Let’s just do this for now.” And she sits with the tears until it’s time for another hug. This time longer until the sobbing subsides.

Then The Stories Begin

She learns every detail. She listens for more. She gives the gift of her time but also full attention. She hears between the words. They’re absorbed into her very soul. Every painful moment, every sudden recollection of joy. Every fear, every bit of confusion, uncertainty, desperate pleas to make it all be done. And the loss. The incredible unbearable loss.

Grief

She’d opened the door to Grief. And there she was staring into the sad eyes of despair. She held them in her gaze and said, “We can get through this together.” How did it all of a sudden become “We”? But there it is because that’s who she is. Her’s is a respite center, a shelter from the storm. People are drawn to her words, the sound of her voice, her laughter, her light. She set it all out there, free for the taking like a giant buffet table adorned with life lines. And Grief grabbed on. Not knowing this was what it was going to do but that’s how it goes. She didn’t ask why Grief chose her door. She could see the raging sea. She couldn’t help but offer a raft.

Then They Traveled Together

Then the two of them traveled together through the stories. Words piled up like rocks on the shore. Repeated, cried over, and repeated again. Wave after wave of memory. Rolling tumultuous storms that ebbed and flowed over and over again. Still she stayed there; reliable, steady. An anchor keeping the raft somewhat tethered.

A Shoreline

In time, Grief saw a shoreline. The raft drifts closer and Grief stepped ashore. Sea legs, at first, shaky. It was hard to take those first steps. Still she encouraged “It will make you stronger in time. Let’s go. It’s OK. Let’s go.”

Once Onshore

She showed Grief places of simple beauty and peaceful surroundings. She walked him past art and he found himself sharing that he too is an artist. She took him to a woods and he shared his love of hiking and he took her to the top of a scenic rock where they both sat for a long time inside their own thoughts. When she tried to stand, she realized it’s difficult. He offered his hand but she was quick to say “No, I need to do this by myself.” Her thought was that she was the giver. He was depending on her strength. Days later, he brought it up, “Remember when I offered you my hand and you said you wanted to do it yourself? You don’t need to do that when you’re with me. I can help.”

It’s hard for givers to receive.

Their journeys continued. She walked him back to the water where they walked along the sand. He shared his passion for the smell of the ocean and continued to share stories, so many stories of all the things he loves and loved. All things nature, sunrises and sunsets, the birth of baby ducks in the spring, the sight of hummingbirds over his entryway. He shared his gentle spirit right back to her and all of a sudden she felt gratitude for his presence in her life. Grief had become a living person filled with memories of joy and laughter and beauty and talent and love. So much love.

The Lessons

She realized, at some point, that she had taught him things, like never giving up, but allowing the tears to fall. She’d taught him to look for the beauty in each day. But he had also taught her to see the beauty in herself and believe in her talents but also being willing to take someone’s hand when it was needed and let others in to her story. Together, they shared an a very unique love.

But Then It Was Time

Then the day came when this person stood up tall and strong enough to truly go it alone. He was ready to embrace his future. He was no longer so afraid except for the possibility of hurting her. She realized this and said, “Now I am in your way. I need to step back so you can continue down your path.”

And the door opened and he left, not perfect but so much stronger. He left with confidence and some of her light, leaving behind Grief. All the burdens he’d carried into that day were left there now for her. It’s now she who grieves a loss. She’d become accustomed to his presence in her life. She’d made space for him at her table and now it’s she who sits with the empty chair. And she cries. Her heart hurts. And so she does what she has learned how to do…she goes back to the door and waits…for the next knock. She will be ready to open the door. She always does. She’s a Giver.

The Moral of the Story

This is what we need to know. A giver is a person who will give you every thing they have. Sometimes, to the detriment of their own well being. It’s not uncommon then, at least for me to realize at some point that all the needs of the griever have become embedded in me. At first, I don’t see it or hear it but when I do, I realize that I have to step back. A giver never wants to become someone else’s burden.

For the griever: Know that you are taking everything from the giver. Be aware. Be kind. And if you can, when you are ready, know that she would love it if you came back as the strong one and once again offered her your hand.

Being A Mom – In Charge

It took a whole lifetime to realize that my mom wasn’t angry at me. She was angry at life, her life. Forced to carry out established rules. Who made those rules?

Confined

Raised Catholic, she followed the dictates, listened to male priests deliver “the word of God”, attended church every Sunday and Holy Day, recited memorized cadences that begged Mary to “pray for us sinners” over and over again. Marriage was an expected role till death and children as many as God would provide. My mother did not have room to explore or dream or experience anything outside of her cage. Never free to roam, she lived in confinement.

Then the Gate Opened

From her enclosure, she watched as the next generation stepped freely through the gate. Screaming “Get back. Get back”, she was scared and tried to stop me. I went anyway, rejecting life in a coop. She stood at the fence watching with tears, and anger, and resentment. She’d wanted to explore too. She was told “No”. Why didn’t she just go? Something held her back. Fear, obligation, tradition, male domination kept her from leaving.

Charged Up

Fueled by our mother’s resentment and anger, my generation of women charged into the workforce, demanded our own credit cards, insisted that our name on health insurance cards not Mrs. Husband. Then we entered motherhood our way as well, controlling the number of children. Raising those children while working a job, balancing both sometimes alone but teaching our children to believe in the right to choose.

But Wait!

Now a body of people, deemed “Supreme” think they can take choice away. I fought hard for the right to leave that cage. Someone is trying to fence us in again.

Now I Understand

She was not angry at me.

Today I Pray

Personal Collection

Pray

For all the courageous and resilient women
Carrying babies to strange lands.
Sheltering them from harm,
The very best they can.
For all the gentle men who picked up weapons
To protect their families, their land.

For all the elderly and sick who’ve been forced
to leave care facilities just when they needed help more.
For all who have lost their lives due to
This unprovoked, unwanted war!
For the loss of homes, hospitals, airports and roads
That once stood so tall and proud
But now exist no more.

But now also pray for the fighters
Who were made to believe the lies
And even pray for Putin ~ that he be stopped
Before he destroys more lives.
Hate, greed, power must be stopped.
Hate, greed, and power are the things that must die.

Pray for the gentle men,
The courageous women
The elderly and the sick.
Pray for the innocent children,
And the countries that
Opened their doors so wide, so quick.
Pray for those who live in Russia
Who don’t understand this war.
Help them find a way to stop the madman
So we all can live in peace once more.

Find A Song

Photo Courtesy of Mark Jung

How can I live in a world
Where outside my window
Birds are singing
And the sun is lighting up my day?

At the same time, bombs are exploding
Structures are ablaze,
Leaving behind death and
The living moving franticly away.

How can it be
That I long for peace
And freedom,
Simple joy in every day?

While there’s another
Who keeps grabbing, rabidly,
For everything.
Pushing the rest of us away.

Outside my window,
The birds continue to sing,
Just living their life
In the middle of all this everything!

And I think,
So should I, and I try
To stay focused on the moment.
I need to find a song to sing.

Flowers Always Face The Sun

Photo Courtesy of Mark Jung

Flowers do not ask permission.
They’re stubborn. Persistent.
Pushing their way up.
Forcing beauty upon you.

The sun doesn’t ask for help.
It’s determined.  Ornery.
Radiating warmth
Whether you want it or not.

Be that persistent flower.
Don’t ask.
Just push through darkness.
Bloom wherever you are planted.

Be that determined sunshine.
Regardless of distance and brutal cold
Rise every day, no matter what.
Keep shining.

Flowers and sunshine.
The world’s adamant reminder
That there is and always will be
Beauty and light all around us.

But cold, dark days are thrown at us,
Leaving  us longing for sunshine and flowers.
In your darkest moments,  
Turn towards the light.

Flowers always face the sun.
Be a flower.  Face the sun.
Stand in power and conviction.
Beauty and light will prevail.

Sunflowers In A Storm

Photo Courtesy of Mark Jung

Sweet, brilliant flowers
Reaching, growing,
Always turning toward the sun

Free to sway with
Each gentle breeze
Opening as each day’s begun.

Fragile, though.
Vulnerable
To weather’s wrath.

Uncontrollable forces
That rip at, burn,
And smash.

Storms rage.
Winds whip angrily
Hour after hour after hour.

Clouds burst.
Rain pours down
On all the gentle flowers.

Flowers try to hold on
To their bloom,
But petals drop and scatter.

The ground
Absorbs what it can
But to the rain, the ground doesn’t matter.

The storms damage
Lay strewn all around
Leaves hang heavy with grief

Still the sun pushes through
Radiating warmth
The earth gives a sigh of relief.

Seeds drop
And spread
On rain-soaked ground

Laying in wait.
Preparing.
Quietly. Not making a sound

While the sun
Works mightily
To push away the cloud.

The roots
Link arms underground
Preparing to rise again, mighty and proud.

The Female Narrative Of Control

I was born female 70+ years ago. I was raised to “act like a girl”.  There were rules about being a girl and I was told that it would be wise to learn those rules.  

We hear, today, about “Critical Race Theory” which is an “examination of race and U.S. law and to challenge approaches to racial justice.”  It seems that certain things may be left out of the collective knowledge, and left out on purpose to create a narrative to control a population.

I think that the same thing was/has been done with the female narrative.  Now, after spending 70+ years studying what I often felt were rules that didn’t square with a rationale mind, I have this list of teachings passed down from the previous generation to me. I’ll call it “The Female Narrative of Control.”

  • Girls need to act like girls which meant in my lifetime 1) don’t walk anywhere after dark alone.  You’re just asking to get raped. 2) don’t wear revealing clothes.  Again, you’re just asking to be raped, 3) don’t flirt or otherwise act suggestively because you might send the wrong message, 4) but also don’t use vulgar language or act too bossy because that will turn off the boys.  Be sweet.  Be gentle.
  • Follow the dress code.  In school, it was about how long or short a girl’s skirt was (we were only allowed to wear pants on special days),  how low or not low a top could be, how tight clothes could be, etc. This was all meant to not distract the boys.
  •  
  • Girls are weaker than boys – 1) that was the reason given for putting the girls on back breaking conveyor belts at my factory job while the boys were taught to run a forklift. 2) Pumping gas had to be handled by boys for the same reason.  Too tough a job for a girl,  plus a girl wouldn’t want to smell like gas.
  • Girls do not deserve to be paid at the same rate as boys because 1) boy jobs are harder, 2) girl jobs are less valued 3) boys need to be the breadwinner.  It would hurt their ego if the girl earned more than he did.
  • Girls are not as smart as boys.  We’ve never been any good at math or science you know. And we are too emotional to hold any kind of high level job.
  • Boys are more athletic and therefore more interesting to watch in sporting events.  Therefore, they are, to this day, paid more to play professional sports. I remember being told that people would never be interested in watching female sports.
  • If a girl got pregnant outside of marriage, it was the girl who was at fault. 
  • 1) she clearly asked for it,
  • 2) she should have controlled herself and the situation because we all knew that “boys will be boys”.
    3) the girl had to hide her “situation” so as not to embarrass the family.
    4) the girl was not allowed to finish her school year and was not allowed to graduate with her class in public.
    5) the girl was the one who bore the burden of being pregnant, giving birth, and then raising the child or making a decision to give this child up for adoption after carrying it for nine months. It was her fault after all.
  • This all leads me to the news today out of Texas. Seventy years later, we are still controlling girls.  Oh, I’ve followed all the Back To School pictures and for sure some things have changed.  Girls can now wear short shorts and midriff tops to school. And, I know for a fact that girls athletic teams draw sizable audiences though they still are not paid as equals. Women are now allowed to drive fork lifts and we all pump our own gas without help from a man, and we came close to actually having a female President. But some things still have not changed.

When it comes to sex, it seems that the girl still has to be the one to control herself.  She has to be the one to avoid risky situations that could lead to rape.  She is the one who carries the burden of not getting pregnant. All the while playing in the background are ads that tell women to stay skinny, make sure your hair and clothing are beautiful and flattering and wear makeup because apparently you are not pretty enough without it.  While men’s ads are about Viagra.  

And now, Texas has decided that a woman and/or her doctor are not smart enough to judge the need for an abortion.  A woman must allow a pregnancy to continue unabated.  Her body is less important.  Her life is less important!

And so there you have it.  70 years later, and we are where we began.  The Female Narrative of Control.  

Juneteenth – June 19

Thunder rolls across the sky this morning. Feels symbolic of all that it’s taken to get us, as a country, to this day. June 19, 1866 was the day that slaves in Texas were actually told they were free; a full two years after the emancipation! Juneteenth became a celebration commemorating that day. But yesterday, it became a recognized Federal Holiday. 155 years later.

And it happens during a year marked with protests that erupted across the states for justice for Black men seemingly being targeted by White policemen. Black Lives Matter became a slogan on t-shirts, posters, flags, yard signs and more. That slogan drew anger from Trump (then president), his supporters, and other far right extremist groups who countered back with “Blue Lives Matter” and “All Lives Matter”.

But the simple fact is Black people have been the ones unjustly treated even though they were supposedly freed 155 years ago. And now to top it off, many states are demanding that schools stop teaching “Critical Race Theory”. At a time when awareness is finally growing regarding segregation, impacts of an unequal criminal justice system, and the legacy of enslavement of Black Americans.

And the thunder rolls

Critical Race Theory was actually part of a legal analysis done in the 70’s and 80’s highlighting examples of situations that caused disparity for Black people. Today, these disparities live on through discrimination tactics surrounding things like affordable housing limits in predominately White neighborhoods. So, it’s hard to claim that Critical Race Theory is a school curriculum thing but that’s where states have landed. Put the issue on the schools to balance and we’ll be the watch dogs to ban anything that we feel shines a negative light on White people.

And as I write that, the thunder subsides. We are a country founded on principles of skewed equality and justice. And if exposed, it will mean leveling a field that we don’t want leveled.

The emancipation freed slaves but sent them out into an angry mob. And when the slaves tried to work their way to states that seemed more accepting, they were met with rules; neighborhoods designed just for them to live segregated from White’s, schools funded by property taxes distributed by wealth so poor neighborhoods would have less quality education keeping poor people poor, laws that unfairly incarcerated more Black people than any other with long prison sentences to “Keep them off the streets”. And all of this has allowed White people to continue to view Black people as apparently lazy, drug addicted criminals.

Wouldn’t it be nice if Juneteenth ended up being a real emancipation for people of color. Instead, the official holiday was signed into law as states are working overtime to restrict voter rights and now close discussions in schools that might hint at an understanding of how racist this country really is.

Oh The Places I’ll Sit

The sun is shining
The temperature is warm
So get out of that chair
It’s gotten impressionistically warn!

Time to get up, get out, 
Put on your shoes and get on your way
I feel the energy
This is going to be a great day!

I go to my woods
I’m ready to walk
But then…I see a robin
Who seemed to want to talk.

 So I sat on a stump
And chatted a bit
I have to admit
It felt good to sit.

But no!   I’m here to get moving
Let’s get back up and go
Well…then I saw the creeping phlox
Putting on this incredible show

I had to take a moment
Just to enjoy it’s delicate charm
I felt that sitting just a bit
Wouldn’t do any harm

Then up I get.  Time to go
I’m movin’ right along
Listening to the birds
Enjoying their individual song.

Oh… but wait,
There’s a willow just beginning to weep
How can I not take a moment
The power of this imagine so deep.

 Then a waterfall reminded me
“Keep moving. Get on your way”
It was so loud and insistent
OK, OK, OK!

I’m walking,
I’m walking.
Working up a sweat

But then…. 

 I saw the turtle and
That was
The end of it! 

Look at the images in the water ripples. What do you see?

 The turtle message is crystal clear
Slow down.
Savor all the little bits
And so I find a good log and…I sit!

The Photos are Mine. The Poem is Mine, but…

The title of the poem has a nod to Dr. Seuss. I just thought that was fun. So then I took pictures of things as I walked and really didn’t look at them closely until I brought them up on my computer. And then, there in the ripples of the water were two characters. I googled Dr. Seuss characters and Yertle the Turtle comes pretty close to the character on the left and although there were no particular dog characters that matched, there was an archived book that came out in July, 2015 that’s called “What Pet Shall I Get”. Dr. Seuss was a dog lover.