Becoming

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The storm rumbles above

Menacing on far horizons

White capped waves roll ashore

Erasing my presence with each crash

I stretch towards jagged lightening

The wind scourges me clean

Pushes me towards the unknown

As it pulls me from all I was

Away from you, from your grip

I am drifting above the vortex

Spotless, with only a memory of pain

Doors slam behind me, audible and shattering

Ahead tinged with pinks and gold

Futures call my many names

A demand I choose

How can I elect just one of the many

The Protector, the Provider, the Lover

Who will step forward to Be

As silken chains fall from me into the maelstrom

I become nomadic a drifter

Just me, my monsters

My memory, which is gentler

Than you were

12-September-2015

12-September-2015

Need, Want & Nature

Everyone wants something; it is our nature I suppose, to want things outside of ourselves. We start as infants being dependent on others, wanting little more than to be sustained in our needs, including being safe, clean, fed and touched. As we mature so do our needs, though truthfully it is really how we fulfill these needs that change rather than the needs themselves. With maturity our core personality come into play so some of our needs might also be more or less at play, specifically the need for touch and safety may be very different for each of us.

I didn’t start with need though, did I? I started with want, I wonder can we entirely separate want from need in all cases? Is it possible some of our wants, our desires are so intimately tied to our basic needs; they truly are what we need to sustain our lives in some form that is both sane and comforting. Is it possible, where we started with basic needs though they change in their make-up, change in how we express them do not in truth change all that much at all.

I want shoes, frequently I see them in a store, on-line or even on another woman’s foot and think, damn I want those. I don’t need them, in fact left to my own devices I am frequently barefoot much to the dismay of the poor young woman who does my weekly pedicure.

I want never to have grey hair, never to have a single strand of grey show on my head. It is unreasonable to want this. It is also unrealistic, nonetheless I want it and I want it forever and ever, amen.

I want to stop the world, now. I want off the merry-go-round and round. I want to stop being jerked around and pulled by my heartstrings by people who don’t truly have my best interests at heart.

I want to stop leading with my heart. I want to stop wearing my heart on the outside of my chest where it is easily the most vulnerable, easily hurt and easily sliced and diced.

I want to stop being taken for rides, where I am the amusement, the shipwreck and the battlefield.

I want to stop pretending it is fine, that all is good, that I feel good about paying the bill when it is presented. It isn’t fine, it isn’t all good. I don’t mind paying my fair share, I don’t mind going dutch now and then, in fact, I think this might be fair. Splitting the bill down the middle, compromising seems only fair and right. So why isn’t this happening? Am I too fast to say, ‘don’t worry, I don’t mind you beating the living shit out of me, I will take care of whatever it is so long as you have what you need or want.’tumblr-broken-heart-photography-broken-heart-3-by-mv79-on-deviantart--photos

I want to come first; every now and then, I want to be first. I want someone to think of me and my needs and put me and them first. Not all the time mind you, that would be selfish; but, every once in a while I want to be first. Not, how bad can I make her feel. Not what can I get from her today. Not how can I make her pay for what I want today, but instead, ‘how can I make her day better.’

I want my safety, my heart, my sanity, my health to be important to someone. Not as a secondary thought after they have considered everything they want and need, but as the first thing they consider when thinking of what is important. I don’t want to be more important, I just want to be as important. My ex use to say to me, ‘if we are ever confronted by a person with a gun I will not stand in front of you, I will tell you to run baby run.’ He thought that was funny, I never did. Now, not only do I think it was unfunny, I think it was sad I stayed in a marriage for so long with someone who placed himself and his own safety so far above mine, you see he wasn’t joking.

I want to feel protected, safe and valued. Not for what I can do for you but for the content of me. I want for anyone who has ever said to me, ‘I love you’ to actually show me by their actions rather than say the words. Words, they have little meaning if they are not backed up with acts of care, compassion, empathy and a giving heart. Don’t tell me you will do something, don’t make promises you have no intention of keeping. Stop stripping me down to nothing left.

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I want someone to hear me. Just listen and hear me. I want them to hear the tears in my voice when I am lonely. I want them to hear me screaming when my skin is on fire from the lack of loving touch. I want them to hear me when I say; I miss being held in the night. I want them to understand this isn’t an invitation; it is simply reaching out to be heard.

I am tired of trying to do everything myself. I am tired of paying the bill when presented. My body is tired, my heart is worn out, my soul is shriveling into itself. I didn’t think I would have to work this hard, maybe I don’t, maybe I simply won’t anymore.

Our wants and our needs, though sometimes they are the same; to be safe, to be clean, to be fed and to be touched. Perhaps we simply need to learn to adjust our expectations. Certainly, I am learning this is what I must do, it seems I am enough to pay the bill when presented but not enough for much more.

I Am

I AM.

Such simple and stark words, I AM. So often we are cautioned to remove ‘I’ from our thinking, from our language, from our definitions of self even. Yet how do we speak to who we are what we are without ‘I AM’. The truth is, until we define who we are as individuals, what we stand for, what we believe it is difficult to move through the world in a meaningful way. We can move like zombies, brainless, dumb to the world around us; but to what purpose? How do we serve even ourselves if we have no ‘self’, no ‘I AM’.

I AM.

Through life’s tumbles and stumbles I believe there is a distinct possibility I know 85% of the conundrum of ‘I AM’. We all ask this question, of who we are and what we are. It is a question we start asking at an early age and continue to ask throughout most of our life. Many of us change our ‘I AM’, sometimes through our life experience and sometimes simply as we search for what fits us best. My ‘I AM’ is a combination of everything, how I was born, what was done to me, what I have done and the choices I have made along the way.

This is my ‘I AM’.

I am human, first and maybe most importantly. No better, no different from any other human I run across in my daily life. What separates me from other humans is nothing but the surface stuff but certainly not our shared humanity.

I am a woman, always. This more than many other things defines me, defines my thinking and how I move through the world.  Vintage_photo_nude_woman_1

I am White of mostly Southern European extraction, though according to the DNA testing we had done some time ago there is a bit of other things thrown in there. It is my understanding some of my heritage is rooted in the Southern European Romany, however this is family lore only.

I am a feminist, not a man-hater but instead a believer in women and their innate power, strength, ability and capability.

I am a political progressive. Not a Democrat, not a Liberal but instead an Independent Progressive. I make no bones or apologies about my leanings; there are certainly some Socialist elements to my political stances. There are components in my thinking that lean outward, toward social good rather than inward toward personal enrichment (Capitalism). My tendency toward compassion, toward helping those of less fortune than I is ingrained a part of my core being, not learned but rather a ‘born this way’ feature of my personality.

I am a person of great spiritual faith and depth. I believe there is something greater than me; I simply do not believe that thing is an Old White Man on a Cloud in the Sky. I am not Christian; I am angry-godwithout a religious affiliation. I was raised in a mixed Christian household, depending on whom you asked, we were Catholic, Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian or other. I have read the Bible, cover to cover more than once. I have read other holy books, thinking there must be a reason people are willing to kill and die for their ‘God’, their faith or their religion. The one thing I have come away with, there is nothing religion can offer me, not one damned thing man can offer me through religion.

I am pro-life. Yes, this is a true statement but it might confuse you. I am a staunch supporter of women’s absolute right to decide whether to end a pregnancy. This is true whether it is the morning after, early in the pregnancy or late in the pregnancy due to unforeseen and tragic circumstances. My stance goes much deeper. I am pro-life, I support any program that enriches, encourages and enables the lives of human beings already born, already living on this earth, we share. I believe strongly we should work to reduce abortion through making contraception readily accessible to all women, make childcare programs available, make sex education appropriate, factual and early enough to count. I believe we value life by ensuring healthcare for all, encouraging education and providing it to all members of society equally. We value life by removing weapons from our streets, making it more difficult to purchase and maintain arsenals, dismantling Stand Your Ground Laws and the Castle Doctrine in our states and shutting down the internet sellers of bullets by the thousands. I believe we value life by raising the minimum wage thus providing at least a ‘living wage’ for families with born children. We value life by insuring our elderly are cared for and their retirement funds are paid through Social Security. We value life by ending the Death Penalty. This is the short list, this is what makes me Pro-Life, anything less is anti-life.

I am a humanist. Yes, I think this is the best description of me. I believe in Human Rights first. I believe it is impossible for us to achieve a civil society without Human Rights taking a step forward. For far too long we have allowed a small cadre of selfish men to march this nation slowly into perdition. We have allowed the Human Rights of many of our citizens be trampled under the heels of kochbrotherthose who simply wished power and riches at the expense of all of us. We were comfortable with the social hierarchy as long as we weren’t on the bottom, so long as we could stand on the shoulder of someone else and point to their disadvantage we were fine thinking maybe we weren’t so bad off. The truth is, we are all the same, the only thing that separates us is the color of our American Express, the size of our bank accounts.

I am a person with a vast capacity too love and a desire to love and be loved. This is perhaps one of my greatest strengths and greatest weakness’. This desire to see the best in people, to believe others want what is best for me allows me to see the world through rose-colored glasses and never question motives, to retain a level of naivety despite my experiences and history; this desire and capacity to love allows me to retain an innocence, but it also breaks my heart.

For all my faults, for all my failures, for all that I am still seeking about myself there are some things I am certain of, these are some of them and oddly they haven’t changed in forty years. I have grown in my understanding, but my core values haven’t changed since I was seventeen years old.

Combinination

Crawling Back

Linda1I crawled inside myself this year. Allowed myself the luxury of being, simply being without considering the affect my actions have on others. I have stretched my arms, touched the four walls and claimed them, mine, just mine. This time of my own has been healing, soul and spirit healing.

Most people who don’t know me well don’t realize I am by nature an introvert. Most people see the public side of me, the side that stands up and speaks to large crowds, that leads large teams, that hustles for work, hell that writes two blogs and interacts in social media forums daily and thinks that is the ‘real’ me.

Lately I have allowed the introvert control and it has been freeing. I have lived inside of my head, explored the landscape more intimately; it has been hard but liberating. I realized just how much over most of my adult life I have spent making others happy, doing for others, pleasing others, and taking care of others; all too often at my expense. Most of my adult life I suppressed my own needs, wants and desires so everyone around me got what they needed first, if there was something left that was what I got. Oddly, this was ground into me, as ‘natural’ and thus I never realized it was part of my unhappiness.

Living alone and inside of my head has let me see the entirety of my life to now without external inputs, without distractions.

Personality Type

There is nothing inherently wrong with wanting to take care of others. Caring for others can be a source of pleasure, great joy even. A lack of selfishness can be a wonderful trait. I think I have both of these, I believe I am an unselfish person who naturally wishes to care for both those I love and my community. What I have come to realize though, is these traits can also be a source of pain and resentment where there is no balance, a fair exchange of power is critical though most of us do not think of power where our relationships are concerned.

The truth is power is at the core of our relationships whether love, family or friendship. Where we are not evenly yoked, balanced in our exchanges ultimately we fail to thrive. I suspect most of us don’t think of our relationships in these terms, we have all heard the term ‘evenly yoked’ when it comes to our marriages or love partnerships, but the truth all of our relationships are power based. I realized through this time of introspection how I failed within each of my relationships, whether parent, spouse or friend to balance power and allowed myself to grow in resentment or anger. I realized how I failed by not asking for what I needed.http://www.parsonsrocks.com/the-art-of-rock-balancing-with-photos/

Yes, the relationship might still have failed even had I asked. The truth is many of my relationships were toxic and were not going to change simply because I asked for something different, for something better than what existed at the time. The truth is, sometimes people are drawn to those they can hurt, drawn to those who are vulnerable. Sometimes relationships are established at birth, without early intervention they will not change and these have lasting effect. Friendships and love relationships though, these are different animals and we have different standards for them, at their core we are either balanced in our exchanges or miserable in our choices, I don’t think there is a middle ground.

For me, this has been a truth without realizing it.

I let myself settle into simply being me for most of this year, truly all of this year. I got through last year, through the divorce, through being scared spitless financially after nearly 6 months of unemployment and through a bad job choice and miserable work environment. Now even though I am still scared, barely recovering financially, struggling with pain issues and waking up some days to, ‘oh shit, what have I done’, when I think about the career move I have made, I realize I am beginning to find peace. By allowing myself the freedom to finally, for once in my entire adult life, put myself first I am finding peace.

Peace to choose what is needful, including fair and balanced exchanges of power with those who are in my life. Peace to ask for what I need from those who claim to love me, truthfully it is more than peace it is acknowledging I have a value that is sometimes greater than what I can give, that I am inherently of value. Recognizing I am perfectly good just as I am. My personal space, both externally and internally works for me and is built on strong foundations I do not have to modify it for the comfort of others unless I choose to do so.

alexander yakovlev, Dancer Portraits

alexander yakovlev, Dancer Portraits

I am also finding peace in acknowledging there is strength in asking for help. By crawling inside of my head and my heart, I have finally recognized strength and weakness. I have spent twenty-three years refusing to accept how damaged my body is, how many things I truly cannot or should not do. Living alone has seen me struggle with physical limitations, battle with what a ‘normal’ person might consider simple. I finally have had to accept there are things I shouldn’t or can’t do alone and have had to ask for help. It was hard at first, my pride was injured, ultimately I asked and no one turned me down. I was lifted up by their generosity of spirit.

So I crawled inside of myself, my natural introvert took over. I suspect I am going to allow my nature more time in control of my world in the future, I find I am happier this way. I have missed my interactions in the blogging world, but found I needed the time to find my footing again, find my voice and my spirit. Hopefully, now that I am finding a foundation of who I am I will begin more regular visits to you all once again and a more regular voice as well.

The Mirror

There are times in all our lives each of us wonder, what does the world see when they see me. When I look in the mirror, I see all of my flaws, real and perceived I count them off one by one. Staring in the eyes of my harshest critic, I see each year stamped across my face telling a story I might rather forget, or wish was never written at all. So I stare, I run fingers through hair sprinkled with silver, I count the furrows across my brow, the lines surrounding my mouth and eyes; then I wonder where the time escaped to and what others see.

Does the world see my flaws in the same way I see them? Can a stranger read my pain, my triumphs, my  history as if it was a roadmap written on my face, across my skin and over the angles, plains and curves of my body, or do they only see slight imperfections where I see something altogether different, something damaged, unworthy of a second glance, unlovable in the harsh light of day.

Cool wind dances across heated skin

Leaving memory of other breath

Fingers trace the water’s edge

Sending ripples across a reflection

Unrecognized in the moonlit glow

Coalesced I come together, softer

In the silence memories pull nearer

The ethereal me beckons, closer

Remember, beauty under stars

Shredded without thought, nor care

For youth, innocence or hope

Lost in a scream for mercy

Tracing the water’s edge once more

Reflection lost to harder currents

Merged again, harder and more true

In the moonlit garden of memory

Does the world see my flaws? Does the world see the scars of my history? I don’t know, some of them are obvious, they are badges of honor I can’t help but wear them on my skin every single OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAblessed day of my life. I wish this were not the case, but it is the skin I live in the only skin I have so it is the skin I will have to walk this world in and the skin I will leave this world in. My problem? Truly, my problem is so many people over the years have left their calling card, announced their presence and left me something to remember them by; I can’t seem to step away far enough to start over again without carrying them along with me.

So, when I look in the mirror, I see my history. Some days I see myself victorious, but other days I see myself vulnerable and hurt, stupid for all the times I have laid myself open. When I look in the mirror, what I see is someone unloved and unlovable, someone who is not worthy of honest straightforward love, who must pay for any affection with something, either straightforward with my money or something else of value, including pain, because this is how it has always been.

Every single day I work toward changing my vision and work toward demanding more. But some days like today, this is what I feel.

Post Valentine’s Day

Linda1I tried, really I tried.

The idea of being enthusiastic about Valentine’s Day simply left me cold. First, it is somewhat a made up holiday intended to force lovers, wanna be lovers, not so much lovers, school children and others to pretend one day a year. Pretend what you ask. Well pretend to remember to say the stuff they forgot all the rest of the year in most cases, in the case of schoolchildren, pretend they are grown enough to “wooove” someone and give them little hearts with cute sayings on them.

Don’t get me wrong, Valentine’s Day can be fun. It can bring out the romantic in even the most taciturn of men, with some prodding. It can turn even the most practical of women to mush with the right amount of flowers, chocolate and a great foot massage. Valentine’s Day can provide couples the opportunity to remind each other they are still there, still hanging on.

The problem I have with Valentine’s Day?

It simply feels forced. Why do we need a day to tell each other we appreciate the things we are to each other? Shouldn’t we do this every single day of the year?image2474170x

Then there is the problem I have that we have co-opted a Catholic Saints day as our romantic holiday, a martyred saint no less. Of course, there is no historical connection between either St. Valentine and ‘romantic’ love, in fact there is very little written about them, anywhere. It is far more likely Valentine’s Day comes to us from an early Roman Rite, the festival of Lupercalia. This was a special one, priests would sacrifice a goat and a dog together, mixing their blood then flay the goats hide into strips, dipping that into the mixed blood. After that, they would slap single women and crops with the bloody strips, and then pair the women with bachelors for the year. The premise being if the women were fruitful they would marry, maybe.

150953_10202867023217165_1478976694_nJust so, we are all clear, the first Valentine’s card was sent by the then imprisoned Duke of Orleans in 1415. So this silliness has been around for a very long time.

As I said, I tried. I have never though been very good with Valentine’s Day. Maybe it was my name I was traumatized early on, we all have Valentine in our name somewhere. My mother had no clue what she did to us putting us in the local paper. Personally? I just like the sales on chocolate on February 15.

Blues, Funk and Aniversaries

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAYesterday I was blue, truly and honestly blue. I couldn’t put my finger on it, couldn’t identify the source but yesterday I was blue.

Yesterday, my energy levels were low and I was inspired to do nothing. Absolutely nothing inspired me, with the exception of finding a cave, crawling into it and pulling a rock over the entrance.

I could not find a reason for my ennui; thinking it was just the past three hard weeks at work. The long drive back and forth from Dallas to Houston was wearing me down. The twelve hour days resulting only in, ‘not good enough, not what I want’ feedback from leadership that seemed to have a constantly shifting agenda. Still through all of this, yesterday I was blue and I could not focus on the cause.

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It came to me, this morning, as I was checking the date or simply looking at a calendar for some reason or maybe trying to prove it was past now. Yesterday was a red-letter day and I ignored it, did not give yesterday its due. Ignored the date, did not sit down and allow my heart to wash over me with all the feelings I was having, instead I attempted to pretend there was nothing special and I was simply blue.

The truth is, yesterday wasn’t special, not in the way, most of us think of ‘special’. Yesterday did mark for me a day of transition, change or transformation. Yesterday did mark the anniversary of the day that set my feet on a different path and made changes to my body, my spirit even my brain there would be no turning back from, no matter how I might wish this to be different.

Yesterday I was blue and rather than acknowledge why I blamed it on everything, including:

  • My current job, client and bosses
  • The fact my house is a mess
  • My finances after a six month hiatus from work, but which are not as bad as they were or as I think they are or as bad as some people who are truly suffering
  • My loneliness, that is somewhat self-imposed
  • The lack of physical touch in my life, that I find I miss a great deal but which has also been self-imposed

Yesterday I was blue and what I didn’t blame it on was the date, the anniversary, the three bullets and the three young men that changed me forever and sent my life on a different and unlooked for trajectory. Yesterday, I was in a deep funk with tears settled right on the edge waiting to spill at slightest hint I would allow blue to turn into a crying jag (I didn’t) and I wouldn’t look at a calendar because instinctively I knew what day it was and simply didn’t want to say it out loud.download

So, I distracted myself with walks in the park, which honestly I needed anyway. I distracted myself with talking to people who love me, but I didn’t tell them I was hurting and why. Then when the sun was down and the house was dark again, with sitting quietly staring at a blank page in my journal unable to pick up my pen, because I was blue and I was in a deep funk. When the bedroom was dimly lit with the nightlight I never turn off,  I rocked myself to sleep finally because I was lonely and I miss physical touch, I was hurting and I simply refused to acknowledge it was an anniversary of sorts, one that had changed me in fundamental ways and at my core.

Now, today, this morning I acknowledge I was blue because it is hard not to remember, it is impossible not to be triggered no matter how hard I try to avoid calendars and other reminders. It is hard not to remember and be angry. It is hard not to remember and be sad. It is hard not to remember and then wonder sometimes, what would life be like if I hadn’t have stopped for gas, if I hadn’t have stopped for cigarettes. What would life be like if I had just been five minutes earlier or later, just five minutes that is all. Sometimes I can’t help myself, I wonder if it wouldn’t have been better if I hadn’t survived, hadn’t have been quite so strong. It isn’t that I am not happy to be alive 97% of the time, but I can’t help but wonder sometimes if it wouldn’t have been better, when I am blue like yesterday or when I am hurting or when I have a seizure.

Yesterday I was blue, I know why. Yesterday was the twenty-third anniversary of my carjacking / kidnapping and shooting; where I nearly lost my life and most certainly lost my belief I was invincible.

There, I said it.

Today, I start the first day of my personal new year. I am determined to get back in the swing of things.

Stepping into Who I Am

Linda1My dear friend over at Single Working Mom inspired me to write about how we, as women, seem to lose ourselves in our effort to ‘fit’. Visit her post, which inspired this one here.

Stepping into who I am, I think that is what I have been trying to do for more than a year maybe even more than a decade. I simply didn’t know this is what I was doing. All the small acts of rebellion, the tiny bits and pieces I kept trying to reclaim, that was me saying to the world and those who wished me to be otherwise; really, just leave me be to find me in a world I never truly fit or that never fit me perfectly.

I fail to understand why it is so difficult for women especially to claim ourselves completely, to step into the space we occupy without apology. It seems though, there are very few of us who are not in some way apologizing for who or what we are on a daily basis. We bow to the whims of those who dictate to us the terms of beauty and desirability allowing our self-worth to be undermined by how others define it and thus what we see in the mirror is far too often unacceptable, unbeautiful and unworthy of love.

Far too many of us, reshape ourselves to be what others want of us and accept harsh judgment as truth when we fail to meet standards which are either impossible, not our choice, even sometimes ridiculous. We shrink to take up less space, we speak softly or not at all so as not offend, we apologize for our opinions and our needs and do so without thinking in doing so we are apologizing for ourselves, for our very being. We accept harsh words as truth and demands to change ourselves, make ourselves different so we might fit another person’s fantasy, simply so they will touch us in the night, with the light off.

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When I read For Me and For Her it got me thinking about all the things I had done over the course of my nearly 15 year marriage that I resented and how I have slowly begun to shed them. It also got me thinking about the shell I have slowly started to crack open around me, about as I said how I am beginning to step into myself into who I am, perhaps who I was meant to be. I am certain I have a very long way to go before I am fully in the moment with myself, nevertheless it is a starting point and one I believe I should own with pride. I think it is difficult when we are in the middle of hurting to realize how much we give up, so someone will love us. Sometimes how much we lose of ourselves so the person we promised to love will continue to love us.

I am finding I don’t want to be loved if it isn’t for the me that is real; hardheaded, opinionated, pragmatic, softhearted, introverted and creative; someone who has lived life fully and been down a few dark alleys. I don’t want to be touched if it isn’t touching me with the lights on, seeing all of me; scars, dimpled flesh, imperfections, tattoos all of me. I don’t want to be made over. I don’t want to be hidden.

These words hurt me, still hurt me on some level and I am still fighting to breathe through them and find me behind them.

“You are more beautiful as a blonde that as how I met you and that is how you should stay.”

“You are too pale, I think you are more beautiful with a tan. You look too White without one.”

“I hate when you let your hair grow. You look better when it is short and I am not as attracted to you when it is long.”

“If you get a tattoo I will divorce you.”

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Here is the thing about all of those, they all represented ‘things’ that were not me.

  1. I am a natural brunette. My natural color is damned near black, though now days it has a great deal of grey.
  2. I have pale olive toned skin. I love my complexion, though I tan easily for years I have protected my skin. Further, tanning is dangerous this didn’t seem to matter so long as I wasn’t too White. What the hell did this mean anyway?
  3. The first time I cut my hair it was down to the middle of my back. I cut it because I couldn’t brush it, I cut it because I was recovering from gunshots and I needed to make life easier for myself. I never intended to keep it short and certainly not that short. Yes, it was funky and fun, especially the pale blonde, but it was hard to maintain. I never felt like me.
  4. When we met I had Tattoo’s, it wasn’t a secret I didn’t hide them. I also made no secret I want more. Why did I ever allow myself to be bullied into a corner?

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Worse, yes even worse than being bullied into a corner. Why did I allow myself to feel unlovable, undesirable and without value simply because of cruel words and the lack of touch. Now, a year later I am beginning to figure some of it out, some of the hurt is falling away and letting me see what is beneath. I don’t love what I see, but I do love that I am able to reach into the hurt and find me.

It is these slow and careful steps we take, these questions we ask that allow us to walk into the world fully owning the space we inhabit, not asking for forgiveness or how we can mold ourselves to fit another person’s desires. I want to be desired, loved and wanted for me, just me. I want to be chased around the room and thrown on the bed, because I am me not someone else but me. I want my words to enflame passion, my heart to sooth, my body to excite and my soul to provide a resting place. I want all of that to be just me, without a demand for change.

So I will continue to step into who I am and tell those who think I should be otherwise to take a flying leap.

What is Love, My Version

Linda1How do we love? What makes our hearts sing, our skin tingle, our knees weak? What makes our hearts soar, how do we love?

For the past couple of weeks I have been thinking about the question of love, is there really different kinds of love, different types of love? I have written about love before here and here, mostly I took a rather pragmatic view, even while talking about what I wanted from love and from life. I have had some time to consider love, some time to watch love at work in my family and elsewhere in the world. I have also watched what it means when we extract love from our world, when we fail at love, when we fail to include love in our lives on a daily basis and it is heartbreaking.

Love is incredibly selfish, this is my first conclusion; yes, I said it Love is an incredibly selfish emotion. Even while we expand our heart to include others, even while we open our arms, our homes, our circle of trust it remains a selfish emotion. Let me explain what I mean by this statement. When we love, we want, not just for the other person but also for ourselves. When we love, whether it is an individual or something other, something more amorphous something intangible that simply opens our heart and defines us as human and with compassion and empathy, we still want something, some recognition of self. No matter what love is for us, it is at least in part, selfish.

This year saw many changes, blossoming of new love, maturing of loves already in progress, coming to peace with love lost and finding new family members to embrace and celebrate.

This month I was privileged to see love at work in my extended family, more than once I spent time in the presence of love and was uplifted. This made me consider what love was when we simply wish for good things, when we are simply part of a larger circle and we aren’t trying to make it about ourselves. There is something wonderful, when we are simply there and part of it. This month, my youngest son married for the second time, this time it truly was a celebration of love, a coming together of families and friends and it was joyous. I watched my son and new daughter take their vows and my heart expanded, not just to include her but to include her children, her parents, her siblings also. I realized with this marriage, my circle to love had grown and my heart simply stretched to include them all.

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Holiday time is always interesting in my world. For many the holidays can be stressful, it is no different for me and mine. Last year, of course saw my marriage fall apart and at that point, I thought I could never look at this time of year without sadness again. Indeed, last year was difficult but with the love and kindness of many people I got through it and realized just what family really is, what it means to be cocooned in warmth for no other reason than for being me. I wrote about last year here, I learned a great deal about compassion and love and it stuck.

Family gatherings mean extended family with in-laws, multiple generations and of course with us all the ‘by marriage’ and ‘step’ relationships. We are the classic blended family; marriage has expanded our families with steps, in-laws, new grandbabies and all sorts of other people to love. My oldest son married a young woman with a boisterous and loving family that exudes warmth and has taken me in, embraced me as if I was one of their own. When I was most in need of a place to land, somewhere to feel safe her family gave it to me and continue to open their homes, hearts and arms.   This Thanksgiving my oldest son and his wife hosted family Thanksgiving for the first time, great food, great wine and lots of laughter. Again, I was reminded why love lifts us up, love has no boundaries and no timelines. We can not see each other for months, yet pick up where we left off; laughter and hugs without stinting and whispered, ‘how are you?’ with an arm wrapped around shoulders letting me know I am both welcome and cared for.  I must admit, I needed that moment of quite affirmation.

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Finally, the latest addition to my personal extended family; a new half-sister. Discovered a couple months ago, she is only a couple of years younger than I am and like me had been given up for adoption. I think she is the only one of my first father’s children he was unaware of. I won’t tell the entire story here, today; suffice to say she is a delight and I am so pleased to find another sibling. I think with all my full, halves, adopted and steps this takes me to twenty-four. What an amazing and strange mix we are what a fascinating world we live in that siblings can find each other through a random DNA test.

The famdamilySo what is love? What I am discovering, it is impossible to define. Love is selfish and selfless all in a single breath. Love is the greatest expression of compassion any of us can show to another. Love is our greatest gift, it is the one thing we have that is entirely ours to give and entirely free if we choose. Love fills our silent spaces while at the same time allows our silences safely. Love lifts us up, beyond ourselves and above ourselves. Love encourages us to do better and be better than we believe is possible. Love heals us and allows us to reach out and heal others.

What is love? The Hell if I know, but I know I would be lost without it.

Inspiration

OpEdThe other day I was strolling through the blog world, trying to catch up with my reading; it seems I am always behind these days. I haven’t been up to my usual self frankly; things have been weighing on my heart and mind, keeping me from my normal enthusiasm, my desire for social interaction and visits with friends flung far and wide. I miss you all; I truly do yet can’t seem to concentrate, to focus on what is needful to maintain the important relationships we have built through our shared words in this strange and wonderful blog world we all visit and make a piece of our homes.

Then I saw this: What Inspires You, by Penny

I have been thinking about this one for days, truly off and on I have been thinking about what inspires me for days. I have also been thinking about why I am feeling a bit uninspired, why it is hard for me to get up off my azz and write, dance, visit or anything else I normally do. So, in response and as a challenge to myself, I have spent the past couple of days writing down what inspires me.

Life inspires me. Yes, just life, the idea we have a limited number of days on this earth and how we choose to live them, what we do with them is a concept so few of us grasp completely. Some of us, we spend our life in frivolous, sometimes ignorant pursuits. Others are amazing what they are able to accomplish, so yes life inspires me.roseglasses

Hope inspires me, so much seems terrible and tragic these days and yet so many still face the world with hope. I know there are those who look at me and think I see the world through rose colored glasses, who believe I am a bit naïve. Honestly though, I am not naïve. I know there are monsters in the world; I have met many of them. I simply choose which I will dance with and continue to rest in the lavender in a lounge chair of green wearing tarnished rose colored glasses. I am inspired by hope, all around me I am inspired by others, who despite the terrible and the tragic continue to rise up out of the muck and the mire, face adversity and hope for more and better.

Malala

Malala

Fearlessness inspires me. Not stupidity, not bungee jumping types of fearlessness, but fearlessness in the face of great odds. I am at times stunned by just how truly fearless human beings can be when it is needful and meaningful.

Joy inspires me. There is nothing more I can say about this. Great joy, pass it on.

Selflessness inspires me. Those men and women of our past who gave the gift of their blood, sweat, tears and lives to gain us so much; they inspire me to do more and better. I forget sometimes how much they gave, I think we all do.

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Love inspires me. Yes, love in all its manifestations love inspires me. It is so easy to say, “I love you”. It is really hard to live, “I love you”, every single day, every single night. Love is hard, perhaps it was meant to be so we would have to work for it. We are, I think by nature, selfish and self-centered creatures. Love is, by its very nature, selfless. For any of us to love, we have to set ourselves aside and choose to not be selfish, even if only for the minute it takes to not think about what 1img-thingwe get out of it.

That is what inspires me, it isn’t all that inspires me but it is enough for now. There are people who inspire me. There are things, great works of art, great pieces of music; but for now, this will do. Many of you inspire me quite often. If I don’t visit often right now, it is because I am having a difficult time keeping up, working through personal things that will sort themselves out as they should.

I hope you will visit Penny, who inspired this one. Maybe you will be inspired as I was.

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