On Not Having to Explain Myself

The other day, when I was at my sisters, she said, again, lol, how she didn’t realize how much it would mean to her to have me so close by. I think for me, it’s been different than for her. I KNEW how much it would mean to me, hell, I wouldn’t have moved here if she wasn’t here. I only knew her and my one friend from childhood. When you move a great distance, you think about those things.

My sis has lived here with her husband, in the winter for 8 years. She has a base here, close friendships. My appearance in her life was one more of them. But we both have realized how awesome it is to have each other. To have someone in your life on a regular basis who lived through your childhood together, who knew how you grew up, experienced all that you experienced. To have someone in your life regularly to whom you don’t have to explain who you are. It’s amazing really.

This morning, I was making my coffee, and thought about how all three of us, my older and younger sisters, and me, drink our coffee the same way. Cream only, and not too much of it. (Although my younger sister, now mostly vegan probably gave up the cream.) I thought about my little sister’s visit in about 10 days. Thought about how cool it will be to go out to lunch with both my sisters, just the 3 of us.

Of course, then I always think about how blessed we were to grow up in the Norman Rockwell life we did. Two parents who loved each other, in a small town in Iowa, in a 100 year old house 3 blocks from the Mississippi River. Days spent on that river together, where at least my older sis and I learned to water-ski, behind our 16′ boat. Minor league baseball games with my dad.

Mostly, and I’ve written about this many times, never ever going to bed wondering if our parents loved us. My God, what a gift that is to give your children. The people I know who did not have that foundation, that gift, of unconditional love have striven for it their whole lives, don’t believe it exists, and have built incredible walls and acted out in harmful ways to ease the pain of a child who doesn’t believe they are worthy of love.

I’m trying to finish up the stuff I need to get done with the house before my little sis comes here. I look at the diamond shaped window in my front door, and the round stained glass flower that this sister made for me which fits exactly in the center of it.

I feel so much peace lately. So much more than I’ve felt in years. My sisters and I hanging out together. The spark of a relationship that has the possibility of becoming something very special, without all the pain and drama and ugliness of my marriage and last relationship. A cute little house in a place where 60 is cold weather. And not having to go to work. Good, close friends. One of them who is almost like my sisters, who has known me forever, and to whom I never have to explain myself. It’s coincidental that the other day L was telling me a story from his youth, and said, oh yes, when I get together with my old friends, it’s still one of the stories we talk about.  Then he asked me, “do you have any friends that you’ve been friends with forever, like that?”  I told him “Oh yeah, in fact last weekend I had 3 girls staying with me and we’ve all been best friends since we were 13.”  He remarked how nice it is to have people in your life who knew you forever, that you never have to explain who you are to, who just know you.  It’s frigging amazing, really.

I have said so many times in the last couple of years, that I believe my purpose on this earth is to learn lessons and evolve my soul. I still believe that. The last couple of years though, I’ve added a caveat to that which is, that my lessons become easy lessons. I’ve had enough of the hard ones. I think I really have. Right now, it seems easy. I mean, the hardest thing that’s happened in a long time is having to set up a new cell phone, LOL. It feels like the Universe has listened, as if the intentions I set are manifesting.

Love and light to everyone.

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Not Foolish, nor Destined to Repeat the Past :-)

The sun was almost up when I awoke this morning. Daybreak had broken, the eastern sky was alight. I slept the sleep of the dead last night. I didn’t go anywhere, both of my friends who were going to go to the artwalk with me were sick. One with a cold, the other with a migraine. As it turned out I fell asleep on my couch from 5 to 6, and then stayed up late because I wasn’t tired.

I was in quite a mood last night, and yesterday, with those poems I wrote, Foolishness and Destined. Today my waking mind was in a far more indifferent place. It is always therapeutic lean in to that discomfort when it shows up, to write those feelings out, and send them out to the universe.

This morning I’m out on my deck, sipping my coffee under the canopy of the banyan tree in my nightgown, feeling quite content. I am still seeking a love that can last, but have no regrets over the past, nor really any attachment to it. Just moving forward, and expect what will come will come when it’s supposed to, if it’s supposed to. In the meantime I have friends and family here that I love and who love me, and a wonderful life. There is no reason to feel bitterness or angst.

And who knows? I had a short text with C last night. He’s always up, it seems. In a good place. It’s a refreshing change for me. I hope I hear from him again soon.

I always say that the people I loved I will always love. But really, some of those people are out of my life for a reason, and the reason is that they were in it to teach me, part of the lesson my soul needed to learn. They’ve taught me and we’ve both moved on to our own next lessons. Today, I am grateful for the lessons, and for the fact that I have such a wonderful starting point for my next adventure. Love always? Yes, I suppose so. But maybe not desire, not hope that things will be different. Oprah defined forgiveness as giving up hope that the past will ever change. I think that’s where I am. Glean from it what we can, and go on.

Like my horoscope said, I am an Aries and I like to move forward. I can backslide like anyone else, but not for long. I don’t like that place. I hate covering the same real estate twice. A relationship that takes me over and over the same ground without ever moving forward is not compatible with me.

Feeling so much more myself today. I’m going to go down to the water, take a long walk. Go to the grocery store and get the stuff I need for Christmas food. I’m making baked stuffed shrimp for Christmas Eve at my sisters. And for Christmas night, my traditional raspberry angel food cake with Raspberry Amaretto Sauce. And whatever my sister and I decide we want for Christmas Day. We’re invited to a friends in her neigborhood for Christmas night, which will be fun. It will remind me how I always went to my bff’s in CT on Christmas night. I was often the only non-blood family there, but that huge family always treated me like one of their own.

I have been really blessed, haven’t I?

Love and light, all.

Uncomplicated Love

“Think of someone you love who is uncomplicated to love,” the meditation guide instructed. I thought, of course, of my son. And as thoughts are liable to do, immediately after my son, I thought of my mother. And then of my father. And then of my two sisters.

All of them, uncomplicated to love, and to be loved by.

I have never known different with my family. Even when we had our disagreements, our rough patches, I never doubted that we loved each other, and that if pressed, we would be there for each other. Ever.

How friggin’ blessed I am, is something I’ve come to know as an adult. Really not until I was well past the half-way mark of my life did I realize the depth of that blessing.

I remember back when I just assumed all families were like mine. It seemed incongruous that my best friend’s father (at age 12) could put belt marks on her legs, but he did. She didn’t make a big deal of it, so no one else did. I can’t imagine what it was like, to be a 12 year old, going through puberty, and have your father take a belt to you. I remember my own father, at times in his frustration with my misbehavior as a child, raising his hand. That, the raised hand, was enough to make me know I better stop what I was doing, or saying. He never brought it down on me. I think it would have killed him to hit me.

I was SO naive.

I have known and loved men who were beaten by their fathers, whose mothers stood by and watched, thus enabling the brutality of a child. I think I made it my quest to prove to them that they were lovable, that they were in reality, as deserving of unconditional love as much as anyone. I wanted to convince them that it is possible for someone to love them purely, with no conditions. I cannot imagine a more painful thing to live with than the belief that you innately do not deserve love and belonging. Would it not instill false shame, to think you weren’t worthy of your parents love? And shame is such a destructive emotion.

I was unable to achieve this. It took me a long time to actively give up the quest. And that in itself, is not a good basis for a relationship anyway. There is no common ground. But, I love them, still. And wish they could see themselves the way I saw them. I wish they knew that all the love they think they missed is inside them now, given to them as a divine right. No one can take it from anyone else.

My childhood friend, has somehow managed to retrieve a relationship with her siblings now. They are very close. She has held onto the friendships of her youth. She’s coming to see me, and our other friend who lives in Daytona across the state, in January. This group of girls is like my family. They reconnected with me after about 40 years, and we picked up where we left off.

I think though, that it is part of my soul’s journey to love others the way that I’ve been loved. Am loved. It’s always the underlying emotion, the baseline. If I’ve loved you, I will always love you. If I never see you again, I will always love you, always wish the best for you, always feel the pain I know you feel and always send out whatever I can to assuage it. I may not like your behavior, I may choose to withdraw from it, but the love I felt, only came through me. I did not create it, I just channeled it. And will continue to do so, actively or passively.

So this was my post-meditation blog. Kind of a deep, heavy meditation, and it seems I’ve been doing a lot of reflection and introspection around this broader subject lately. I hope I’m not boring….not bringing the kiss of death on myself, lol.

Love and light, all.

Reconnecting

I had a very hard time getting to sleep last night. I was up at midnight, writing. I have heard wakefulness is a curse of many writers. It seems to be mine lately, for sure. I wrote, some things that I won’t ever publish, just trying to express whatever it was that was stuck inside and trying to get out.  Leaning in, as Brene Brown advises, to the discomfort. Often that helps, just to write out whatever comes to mind, without a whole lot of worry about the mechanics. But still, as I sat on the couch, I was wide awake.

Saved on my computer is a short meditation, “The Great Bell Chant (The End to Suffering)”. ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F1ZwaEzMtJw ) . It has always given me some peace to watch this video, or simply to listen to it. I put it on, and after the first minute, closed my eyes. It isn’t too long, about 7 or 8 minutes. It is the first thing that helped me to begin to relax, and center myself.

When it ended I clicked on another suggestion on Youtube, for an Om Chant. It said it was 3 hours, but I thought, just let me listen for a few minutes, maybe it will clear my mind, remembering years ago a meditation group in which we listened to chanting for at least an hour, in the dark, and how I was always able to somehow shut down the monkey mind in my head. This video was simply a recording of Buddhist monks chanting OM, over and over again. Deep resonant voices. Listening to them, focusing in on them, my eyes finally began to close, and restfulness finally came to me. I found the same video on my phone, went to bed, and put it on. It was supposed to play for 3 hours. I don’t know if it did, lol, because finally I fell asleep, and slept until about 6:30. Only about 5 hours of sleep, but enough, especially for someone who’s retired, lol.

A few times in the last couple of days I’ve seen the term “metta” associated with Buddhism. Not because I was in particular reading or looking for information on Buddhism. The word just showed up, on FB, in my email newsletters. So this morning I googled it, and found a fascinating (to me) article on what it is, and how it’s practiced. ( http://www.vipassana.com/meditation/facets_of_metta.php ) It’s one of the 4 sublime states of Buddhism that leads to enlightenment. It kind of goes along with my post about unconditional love, but extends that love to oneself equally with extending it to others. You have to make yourself happy first, basically. And in serving others, you will find you make yourself happy. But, you can’t defer to others wishes if doing so makes you unhappy.

I slept well at my sisters, because I was helping her, and her friends, and it made me very happy to be there. I came home, to my little house that I love, but it was empty, devoid of that human connection, or so I thought. But connections remain, there is no space or time in regards to a connection. In focusing in on the OM meditation, I reconnected to myself, which reconnected me to all in a loving way. And I went to sleep.

And so the journey continues. Love and light.

Thoughts on Unconditional Love

I drove out to my sisters yesterday, to do laundry and to spend the night, but also because she was having  a small dinner party, and she asked me to help.  One of her best friends just had a mass found in a lung.  He had prostate cancer just about a year ago, and now this.  So, my sister brought together a few couples that were best friends with this man and his wife to try to cheer him up.

I don’t know that it cheered him, but it distracted him from impending gloom.  He hasn’t had a biopsy yet, so there’s a chance it won’t be as bad as a “mass in the lung” sounds.

I would call what my sister did, unconditional love, of her friends.  She tried to be there for all of them.  So they could support each other.  She gave them the venue.

We sat around and talked.  Her friends are becoming my friends.  As we talked, we opened up.  Told our stories.  Stood by them.  Laughed at them at times, laughed at ourselves, commiserated at times.  It is what happens.  Unconditional love doesn’t require perfection, it just requires acceptance.

It is the same with any friendship, right?  For the friendship to develop, people have to share their stories, to relate, to let you in behind their wall.  Intimacy only grows this way.  I have had someone in my life who claims to be a friend, but will only share so much with me. Enough to concern me, not enough to either confirm or allay my fears.  I would guess many of us have known people like that.

So what happens in that case?  You back off, when you realize they don’t really want to be close. When the two-way communication, and sharing, and trust stops, the friendship often dies, or goes dormant. This backing off is often perceived as a condition for love.  One friend is constantly trying to prove that I don’t love unconditionally.  Why?  To what end?  To justify, after the fact, that they chose to put a wall up?

Does your backing off mean you don’t love them, unconditionally?  Of course not.  Unconditional love is just that.  Unconditional.  Do I accept someone who chooses to leave me out as they are?  Yes. And I will let them be.  Do I love them still?  Of course.

It has nothing to do with whether or not I love anyone.  I once told my son’s therapist (court ordered, when his father and I were getting divorced) that there was nothing my son could do to make me stop loving him.  The therapist said, “Oh I am sure there are some things…”  I said, “No.  There are behaviors I would not support, or accept, but I would always love him.”  The therapist looked at me and said, “You’re right.  Unconditional love and unconditional acceptance are two different things.”

So, this is still true.  I will always love my son, I will always love the friend who now chooses not to talk to me.  I will be there for them, if they change their mind.  I don’t hold a grudge.  (Sometimes I wish I could, but I’ve never been able.)

I say a lot, “Love always and all ways”.  That comes from Byron Katie, one of the greatest teachers I know.  She teaches unconditional love, and acceptance of what is.  So yes, I still love that way, even if someone shuts me out, or behaves in a way that is hurtful to me, or to themselves.

Love and light, to all.

 

 

Free to Love, or Not

I’ve been doing the Deepak Chopra/ Oprah Free 21 Day Meditation “Creating Peace from the inside out, The Power of Connection.” I think I have done all of the free 21 day meditations that they have put out over the last 5 years. I always get something out of them, always.

Today’s email with the link had this quote at the bottom by Thich Nhat Hanh.

“You must love in such a way that the person you love feels free.”

Really, that says it all. That’s the ideal, to try to achieve, isn’t it?

We all crave connection.  It’s part of the human condition, we are hard-wired to want connection with other people.  How do we connect on a deep level, yet still allow that person to feel free?

Is it hard to do? Hmmmmm. Depends on if you hold onto petty jealousies, possessiveness, if you are a control freak, if you come from a place of fear, and lack. Then, yes…..it’s hard to wade through all that, and just let someone you love be free to live their life out as best they can.

If you come from a place of unconditional love, then, you want the people you love to be happy, right? Whether or not that includes you in their life. Whether their journey takes them far from you, or brings them to you.

Don’t we all want to be in a relationship with others that allows us to be our best selves? To encourage and empower our loved ones to find their own way? We throw so many complicated issues into the mix, and it’s really just simple. Love….real unconditional love, allows freedom.

In my life, my best example is that of my son. When I wanted to move to Florida, he chose to move 2000 miles away, to Colorado. Did I like that? No. Of course not. What normal mother wants her kids that far away? But did I try to lay the guilt on him, and make him feel responsible for my happiness? No. I encouraged him, and helped him to organize the move, and helped him to settle in, and have been there with him every step of the way, as he found his own way.

Do I miss him? Every damn day. Every minute. We are as close as ever, if not moreso. I’m proud of him and the way he is making his own way in the world, independent of me.

So it goes for other people I love. I want them to find their own happiness. I want them to choose to do the right thing. I don’t want someone with me out of obligation, or overwhelming guilt over something they did in the past, or fear of some kind. I want people in my life that freely chose to be there, and that I have freely chosen to have in my life.

Thich Nhat Hanh is such a wise man. I keep one of his books, maybe two, beside my bed. So that if my thinking begins to get small, and selfish, I can open to any page, and read, and regain my center.

Love. Unconditional love. It’s a goal. Not saying I achieve it all the time. But it is where I aim.

Love and light, all.