Monthly Archives: June 2022

Radical Honesty with Kepler

Without explaining all of what radical honesty is in this post, i will link to a song that clearly describes the idea of sharing your feelings out loud. You can listen HERE.

Kepler and I love to listen to music in the car. I enjoy much of the music he listens to. He enjoys *some* of mine. When I returned from my weekend workshop, I found this brand new song and I shared it with Kepler. We belt out the chorus together, “Say it out loud, say it out clear, say what you want, and what you fear. Speak out when you’re angry, say it out loud. Show the world what you’re all about.”

I have been introducing him to the idea of noticing what he feels in his body when he is feeling an emotion. “Do you feel anything in your tummy? Do you feel anything in your chest?” Yes, he will tell me. Slowly, we are making the connection together that emotion has a physical component.

Slowly he is discovering he doesn’t have to suppress his feelings. I imagine Kepler is an easygoing soul and has learned not to express the difficult feelings he has, meaning anger or fear. He has instead chosen to “shut down,” which is to say, withdraw from the situation in all ways except physically, and even physically at school where he has the option to go to the “quiet room” to recover.

Today Greg asked Kepler and me to come outside and help pick up sticks.

The branches were about this size and shape.

Keppie put on his crocs, which didn’t work well for him, so he went back in to change shoes. Once he got back and resumed picking up the sticks, he got a scratch on his ankle and decided he wanted to go in and put on socks. But Greg said no. Kepler shut down, continued to pick up sticks, but became uncommunicative.

Afterwards, I told him all of his feelings are ok. I also said sometimes we have to do things we don’t want to do. I said sometimes I feel angry when I have to do something I don’t want to do. I said “It is ok to tell dad you are mad at him for not letting you put on socks.” He looked at me for a long minute. “I need some alone time.” After awhile, I got a text from him. “Sorry mom, I’m ok.” And a little while later, “Say it out loud right mom i got it.”

Later, he was getting a snack before he and Greg went to run an errand. Greg said, “You can eat the snack!” Kepler stopped in his tracks. And I reminded him “Say it out loud! Say it out clear!”

And do you know what he said?

“Dad, I was scared when you told me i can eat my snack.”

And Greg replied, “You were scared? What I meant was there is time to eat your snack before we go to the store.” And I could see in Kepler’s face, the emotion was resolved.

I imagine I am ecstatic at his willingness to express a scary feeling out loud. I imagine I am so very proud of him for being willing to take a risk and say it out loud. Where will this Radical Honesty journey take us next?

Congratulations in Italian!

Those are extra fancy congratulations! And they are in order for me and my friend.

When I was in high school, zooming off in the morning to school in my excellent 1980 Mercury Monarch, my sisters and I were busy at school with cheerleading, basketball, volleyball, being beautiful (mostly my youngest sister on that one), getting into trouble (youngest two sisters you know who you are), softball, homework and friends. We zoomed back home late at night and kept up that pace most every day.

1980 Mercury Monarch purchased from Uncle George to get us to and from school

I barely noticed new neighbors moving in across the street. I noticed what I imagined to be cool things like motorcycles, fast cars, and people coming and going at all hours of the day and night. I could only imagine what kind of hijinks they were up to. These new neighbors weren’t like the old ones, from what I could see. I imagine my own preoccupations took up my brain space and I never once thought to go over and welcome them to the neighborhood. (A belated welcome, BCDC).

My teenage perception of new neighbor

Soon I graduated and moved away. The neighbors traded the fast cars for a minivan and the people coming and going for trips to the pool and well-baby checkups as their children came along. When I finally moved back to my hometown, I had four children under the age of 6 months (exaggeration). However old my kids were, my brain was completely preoccupied with their safety, emotional well-being, and their questions (appx 24 per hour).

Actual photo of my children. Credit: WalMart photo studios

Neighbors kids grew up, like kids go. My kids grew up. Long story short, I moved with Greg and Kepler back to the street where I grew up. Really only saw the neighbors in passing. I fancied myself a victim of multiple traumas from the past and present and was again preoccupied with my own stuff.

Then last summer my phone rang and on the other end was this neighbor. 40 years and we’re about to have our first conversation. He asked if I was available to help with some daily physical therapy tasks he needed to do to get back on his feet after a couple surgeries. I said yes.

Our phones don’t really look like this.

Weeks passed and we completed the first phase of his therapy, and moved into a new phase of really focusing on strength and mobility. Three, or four, or five times a week, we met for a hour and I “put him through his paces.”

I imagine I did a whole lot of talking in the beginning. I imagine I heard lots of (very interesting) stories about his life and experiences. I imagine I might have given TMI because I was so engrossed with the urgency of my experience with my son and his addiction, and the importance of multiple other situations in my life.

We took a break for a month over December because of health issues and Christmas. When we returned to working together, I was in the throes of grief about the very recent addiction-fueled events that had broken my trust and my heart. I imagine my friend is steady, faithful, and unflappable. I appreciate that about him.

The birth of their first grandchild was quickly approaching and then it came and I imagine I experienced an immense privilege in getting to celebrate with them. Although my friend is open with friends about his experiences I notice I want to protect his privacy so I am including no photos of him or his most adorable grandbaby.

Now, almost a year to the day of the phone call, my friend has graduated to an entirely new phase of physical activity and vibrancy, and has the privilege of going to a health facility to use and enjoy the workout equipment. We have completed our work together. I imagine I feel bittersweet about this milestone. I am so happy he is ready to move on, and I will so much miss seeing him and having that hour multiple times a week to catch up on all the little details of life.

There he goes.

Leaving New York

I stepped outside my quiet hotel into a hullabaloo of sounds and sights. My Ohio-accustomed eyes, even opened as wide as they go, aren’t quite large enough to take in the long line of cars sitting through light after light without moving, the construction barriers, and nine million of my closest friends. I notice two men pushing carts filled with what looks like the type of mini-fridge that I had in my room. My little fridge had two free cans of ”still water” which i left alone for the entire weekend. Sure enough they didn’t move. Truth in advertising.

One cart bore four fridges and the other carried eight. The men wheeled the carts to the curb. From what I can gather, people put their trash out at the curb in large trash bags or set large items out as-is. As the men placed the fridges at the curb, they were having an animated conversation about the process. Curious as to what exactly I was witnessing, i asked if the fridges were broken. ”No,” he said in a caribbean accent, ” they are getting new ones.” Turns out, the men who cart out the fine fridges make arrangements ahead of time for them to be picked up by recipients who will find them perfectly fine to use.

Two hard-hatted construction workers appeared and picked up one each then went around a construction barrier to place them in a vehicle maybe? Then they scurried back around and picked up the other two.

To my left, the first two men quickly began loading the other eight fridges into a minivan sitting in traffic that did not move the whe time i waited, about 20 minutes. They raised the back door and loaded in several then ran into a snag when it was time to open the side door to load more. The man clicked the key fob and pulled so hard the door bulged out a little. No dice. Then opened the front door and pressed the unlock button. Once again he nearly pulls the door off the van body. Still stuck. They give up and run around to the passenger side and load the other three into the van.

As they walk the cart back to the hotel the man says “would you like one, miss?” I had to decline as my carry-on would be a bit heavy and a bit bulky with a mini fridge sticking out the sides.

i smiled from beginning to end as I waited on the sidewalk for my driver to arrive. Everyone moves fast here except for the traffic and once the men transferred those fridges they quickly moved on to the next part of their day.

Right about then, my driver pulled up and parked in a wildly New York fashion at a jaunty angle and i jumped in not quite ready to leave this exhilarating place. I feel so alive. My smile comes from deep within and joyfully persists.