Tag Archives: Acceptance

This is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things

It occurred to me that I should contact my son’s ex-girlfriend to see about getting his things from their apartment. I didn’t even know what was still there, but I knew I was interested in getting at least one certain item back for him.

Her response: “Susan . . . I’m sorry. I threw everything out.”

I was standing in Kohl’s when this text came in, and I felt like the wind had been knocked out of me. My hand flew to my mouth and I just walked around in a daze for a few minutes.

Is this what people do these days? Has it always been this way? When one person gets angry with another, do they just throw away everything that belonged to that person? Even as I was texting to ask her about the stuff, I had a sense that she probably had thrown everything away. I just hadn’t counted on what it would feel like to realize what got thrown away. Gifts to him from us. Family members who have loved him and who still love him.

I remember choosing the entertainment center for him for Christmas a few years ago. He’s always deeply loved movies, video games, and electronics. It was a sleek, low-slung black wooden center with glass doors which would house his beloved movies and xbox and tv. Whether or not allowing those things in his room was a mistake (it may have been), I knew he would love this entertainment center. And he did. It was his Santa Claus gift that year. And now it’s gone. Thrown away by someone who was angry with him.

The one item that I really cared about was a weighted blanket his Nana bought for him about a year ago. Weighted blankets are soothing for persons with sensory issues. I’ve always felt like I missed his sensory issues when he was a child, so I was excited that he was going to be able to have this blanket. I had gotten to select it and chose a fabric and color I knew he would find soothing. And now it’s gone. Thrown away by someone who was angry with him.

I suppose it might be cathartic to throw away someone else’s things when you are really angry, but I simply cannot imagine doing so. I do want to be clear that my purpose today is not to reflect badly on this young woman. To a certain degree, I can understand. I am not angry with her, nor wanting to solicit any judgment toward her.

Wow. At an Al-anon meeting recently, someone said we who love addicts and alcoholics should afford them the dignity to live their lives the way they want to live them. And maybe it’s not that different that the stuff got thrown away rather than sold for cash, which is where other possessions have gone. It all seems such a waste, but I do choose to allow my son the dignity to live his life the way he chooses to live it.

But it still feels like a loss to me. I wonder if it is in part because I have tried so hard to find something that would change his experience of the world as a painful place, because I know I have definitely tried to do that. Here comes one more lesson from the Universe to remind me that I’m not the person who can change things for him. It will take me awhile to get over this, but I will. And I guess it’s part of his journey to experience this and deal with whatever comes of it. But it still feels like a loss.

I do hope I don’t end up being the one who tells him everything is gone. Heck, maybe he already knows. I’m usually the last to find things out, anyway. I don’t know. I just don’t know. Good thing there’s an Al-anon meeting tonight and I already have a babysitter.

The Queen’s Code in Action

My dearheart works hard all week in a city far from home. There are not enough hours in the weekend for him to get one fifth of what he’d like to get done. Add in a new puppy, and he’s flat out the whole time.

This weekend, he so wanted to get some stuff out of the house and staged to move onto its next home or final resting place. And he did.


Now all that stuff is taking up the space where my Camry likes to spend the night. 

Pre-QC, I’d have been angry that he left the stuff there. But, today I remembered — he had a good reason for doing it that way. And I was truly ok with it.

Now, the fact is, I do want to be able to park my car in the garage because we’re supposed to have several rainy days this week. But I can make the necessary adjustments and make it happen, all the while accepting that he had a good reason for doing it the way he did.

Can I just say that that book has changed my life? Yeah, it has. 

The Current State of Affairs

I’ve been in close proximity to an addict since Thursday afternoon. The circumstances have included me keeping my eyes on him at all times. This has necessitated some help from family with caring for Kepler and getting him places. This also included a decision I made to forego a social event with the rest of my family in order to stay with this addicted person. It has been intense.

I have been very transparent on my blog and yet I feel like I need to be very protective right now of privacy. My experience of this is that I am clear what it is I have been doing since Thursday afternoon and I also know that I cannot fix this problem. This time is just part of our journey.

I think the experience of an addict knowing he will be standing in front of the judge tomorrow is kind of like deciding you’re going to go on a diet on Monday. Boy, on Sunday, the thoughts of eating all the crap you can are surely present.  “Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow I die(t).” But if my diet was going to be strictly enforced by a jail guard, I might feel even more desperate for one more banana split or Reese’s cup. Since I’m not going on a diet tomorrow and I have no jail guards to worry about, I can’t understand enough what it feels like. But I can understand that we all face really, really difficult things, and all of us have opportunities at every point to decide how we are going to respond. I believe that for myself. I believe it is possible for others, but they have to decide it is possible for themselves.

You know they say you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink. That’s really true. You can show someone all the most beautiful ideas in the world but you can’t force them to believe in the idea or choose the idea or trust the idea. So, I’ll spend the rest of today continuing to show my horse the water, the beautiful water, that sparkling, satisfying water, and he’ll have to choose whether or not to flap those horsey lips and take some of the water in.

Questions about Being Lovable and Worthy and Believing the Same

painting by Susan Taylor

My original post title was “Who gets to believe I am lovable? Who Decides Whether I am Worthy?” Those questions have a simple answer. The answer is “I do.” I may have different reasons than you for believing I am worthy. Some people, especially those in my former system of belief, belief they are worthy because Jesus died on the cross for them, taking THEIR sins upon him and rendering them righteous. The concept that Jesus died on the cross for someone has been explained to me that he would have died for just one person, which suggests that his love is amazing and infinite and supersedes anything I have ever thought about myself.

I don’t know about you, but I know plenty of Christians who do not see themselves as lovable and worthy. I used to be one. But that’s not the focus of this post. However you get there, each person has the opportunity at some point (or at multiple points) to decide YES I AM ENOUGH, I AM WORTHY.

What makes someone decide they ARE enough? What changes the mind of the self-loathing individual into a mind of a self-affirming, compassionate individual? What beliefs must change in order to become someone who believes him/herself to be worthy of love and care?

These are the questions that are uppermost in my mind today because my beloved son had a great disappointment yesterday and turned to his best friend for consoling. Every time he does this, the net he is caught up in legally gets more and more complicated to extract himself from.

I wrote recently that I wonder what resources these young people are expected to draw upon by the drug court personnel to find what they need to decide they are worth doing the hard work for, worth changing their lives for the better. I’m starting to feel that question pulsing, insisting on an answer.

One of the most important things that ever happened to me was to discover someone who believed that I could come up with my own solutions to issues I was facing. Through that someone, I met a wonderful life coach who is extremely good at what he does. When I started the process, I did NOT believe I was worth celebrating. I did not believe I was a good person. I believed, actually, that I was quite a bad person. Someone defective. Fundamentally broken.

In the process of receiving this excellent coaching, I not only began to understand, but to experience and practice finding solutions to the challenges that faced me. One of the steps in my coaching was to create “my empowering beliefs.”

my empowering beliefs ** i am focused ** i have freely received, i am freely giving ** i am giving myself the gift of feeling good ** i am contributing ** i am solving problems that arise ** i bring joy to myself and others ** i am worth it! ** i am moving through obstacles ** i have momentum ** i am focusing on what IS working, what i WANT ** i have so much life in me to live and share with others ** i am showing up ** i empower others by showing up and being honest ** i give what i give unconditionally ** i am feeding my body and my brain ** oh, oh, [i will] listen to the music … all the time my empowering beliefs

On the same page I typed these beliefs, I also added a photograph of one of the only paintings I’ve ever painted, which is filled with color and joy.

I’ve probably had multiple opportunities throughout my life to decide whether or not I would choose positive thoughts about myself or negative ones. But it wasn’t until another opportunity came up and I decided this time I would choose the positive thoughts. Thoughts change our physiology and our mindset and our point of view and our ability to be with other people and our ability to love ourselves and others.

Articulating one’s empowering beliefs is certainly ONE of the resources I believe could have an impact on these young people (and older ones!) and help them find their way through drug court or addiction and recovery. Am I just naive? Is it possible for me to contribute to the process that addicts go through to get healthy? I believe so. Maybe I’m too close to my son to be this person for him, but what if what I have to offer is actually something that could help addicts find their way through recovery? I just wonder.

When an Addict Shows Up at Your Door

My heart sank even as my face lit up when my son burst through my front door this evening. I surely wasn’t expecting him. He was in jail this morning and was supposed to stay there for the foreseeable future. What is early release anyway? How do they decide who to give that to? Why doesn’t the judge get to keep someone from being released early?

I was in the process of putting Kepler to bed, and we happened to be in the middle of a stare-down about whether or not he was going to brush with toothpaste tonight. I was determined he was. He was determined he wasn’t. The usual type of thing, but I knew I would win this one. What I didn’t expect was having to abandon the duel at fifty paces to deal with my addict son arriving.

I saw an unfamiliar car in the driveway, driven by an unfamiliar person. By virtue of the fact that my son gave this guy his name and number, that made me very suspicious about who this person might be, and why he was driving my son out to the suburbs from the downtown jail.

The thing is, as I told my mother the other day, i think my brain is made up of 75% gorilla glue, so when a thought gets in there, it gets stuck pretty quickly. After talking to my son this morning, I was basically depending on the conversation we had had, thinking that I could count on the facts as I knew them. He was in jail. He was going to call me at 6pm. He was going to be transferred to another facility when a bed became available so that he could be assessed for suitability for in-patient rehab. (I can tell them, if they want to know, that he is definitely a good candidate for in-patient). And then, and then, and then, I spend time this afternoon thinking about what book would be good to send him from Amazon, and how we might continue to work on some of the thinking processes we had been talking about.

And then he shows up.

I confess my first response was not “Perfect, what’s next?” or even, “Yes, and,” which are my two favorite responses to unexpected events. Applying them now, I discover the following: Perfect, what’s next? He will see his probation officer in the morning. I will drive him. He may appear before the judge again. She may send him back to jail. If she does, he may be extremely distressed. I will respond to whatever happens with as much grace and wisdom as I can access. Yes, he is out of jail, and that means he has access to drugs and there is nothing I can do to prevent that. I can drive him downtown tomorrow, support him through the process, and feel what I feel throughout.

I don’t have to control this. I can allow the process to unfold.

As the last two paragraphs of the Desiderata poem say,

And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be.

And whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.

Yesterday Me, Today Me, Tomorrow Me

I read an article this morning by Jason Smith on Medium.com. Medium is sort of a social media site where people post long-form articles about a variety of topics. Jason has a book coming out in July about his experiences as a drug addict. His writing is compelling. It is, of course, a topic I am interested in.

This morning, Jason posted an article about “Yesterday Me.” The article illustrates the contrast between Yesterday Me, Today Me, and Tomorrow Me. Oh, I could relate.

“Every morning I’d wake up with the same thought:

Fuck you, yesterday me.”

My Yesterday Me always has a “great” idea of how to deal with whatever it is I am faced with, maybe a fresh batch of chocolate chip cookies in the house, maybe a desire to get pizza, a good sale on my favorite chips while I’m at the grocery, perhaps just something talking me easily out of exercising … again. At least, when Yesterday Me was Today Me, it was a great idea. Because Yesterday Me believed that Tomorrow Me would possess all the self-control, genuinely great ideas, and willpower needed that Yesterday Me (which was Today Me at the time) didn’t have.

Yesterday Me is not a popular person in my brain. She gets some significant grief every single day, pretty much first thing.

For instance, this morning, my first thought was, “Yesterday Me, you should be thoroughly ashamed of yourself for that poor excuse for a blog post last night.” Jason’s article was about the addict’s mind. Does that mean I am addicted to something? Or are these conditions present in everyone to one degree or another? (NB: I seem to be unable to link to Jason’s Medium post. I will investigate and see if I can remedy that.)

I wonder what would happen if I were to focus only on Today Me. Blah blah blah. It’s a good idea. I just wonder who would want to read this drivel? Me wallowing around in my weakness. Ugh. Alright, well, let’s say no one wants to read it. I want to write it, and it’s my blog, so.

I realize that Yesterday Me, Today Me, and Tomorrow Me are all the same people, and yet we aren’t.

YM thinks I can figure things out tomorrow when everything slows down. (ha) TodM always thinks that TomM will be able to take care of this issue better than TodM can. Funny thing is, TodM always turns into the reviled YM, and TomM sees YM when looking back. What mind games these are!

I sure do like for my blog posts to have a happy little lesson at the end, or some evidence that I have learned something and now All Is Well.

What if there is no Tomorrow Me? What if the only Me who can do anything about anything is the Today Me? So, what if I try this? Tomorrow Me is Today Me. If I believe in Tomorrow Me to be able to make a good decision, how about if I just try trusting Today Me to make the same good decision. When I notice Tomorrow Me coming into my mind, I will ask what she would do in this situation and then Today Me will do it! And then Tomorrow Me will like Yesterday Me. Ok, it’s a plan.

My Son is Changing His Name

We are the parents of five children. We selected all of their names based on the meanings of those names or the love and respect we had for the namesake. Certainly, naming a child is a privilege for every parent. Sometimes parents seem to go a bit astray, naming their children with puns or numbers or some other name to make a statement. It is very interesting to observe how the popular names change over a period of years.

When our kids were born, popularity of the name was very low on my list of priorities. Greg and I cared more about the meaning.

Recently, I noticed my son had changed his Facebook name, so I asked him if it was just an online moniker, or if he was changing his name. He told me he is legally changing his first name, but keeping his middle and last names. His birth name was Joel. He is becoming Jude. I like the name Jude a lot. I think it fits him, and I’m willing to completely switch over to his new name.

Something has been bothering me about it though. I finally realized what it is. I would have liked for him to let me know ahead of time, rather than just doing so without any conversation. I wouldn’t have tried to talk him out of it. I just think it would have been a sign of respect to have discussed it ahead of time.

On the other hand, I was recently thinking of changing my own name, maybe just the spelling, maybe to go by my middle name, but changing it. I didn’t even consider talking to my mom about it. It just didn’t cross my mind. Perhaps if I had actually landed on a particular name or spelling I was going to go with, I would have told her before I did it, but I don’t know that that is the case. Therefore, I can see that it might not even have crossed Jude’s mind to tell us.

The strange thing is, I have been listing my five children’s names the same way for the past 9 years, and the older four for the past 16 years. Jude is 21, so it’s been a long time that I knew him as Joel. But I agree with Shakespeare, calling him Jude doesn’t change the nature of our relationship or the love we have for him or the desires we have for him to happy, healthy, wealthy, and wise!

I just hope I can keep myself from saying “Hey, Jude!” every time I write to him. The temptation just might be too great.

If I were Brave

It’s been awhile since I have attended a Sunday morning service at my last church. This place is really top-drawer when it comes to quality of video and music, but I still found myself aggravated within about a minute of the service starting. This place is really directed to twenty-somethings, and the stage is full of young people earnestly singing, playing instruments, and giving the standard Sunday morning routine at this particular church, talking up the upcoming events and how many people they need and how to sign up, and then showing some crash hot stats about the big effects the Financial Peace University has been having on the group members, and finally segueing from there into a time “to be generous, to fuel the life-changes that happen around here” (i.e., give an offering).

Texted my Christian, non-church-going sister and said pray for me to get through this service, sort of tongue in cheek. She reminded me that if I was looking for things to be irritated about, I would most definitely find them, so she encouraged me to focus on whatever good I could see in the service. I agreed and signed off.

Oh, by the way, the reason I was even there is because I wanted Kepler to be able to attend his class, and Greg had left this morning for his next business trip. Either I had to go, or Kepler wouldn’t get to.

So I listened to the message, which was presented by the senior pastor from a place in Israel. (similar to a destination wedding, I suppose). I’m not exactly sure what the theme of the message was today, but I did notice that the call to action was basically to do a brave thing. He mentioned several things, including have a child, and ask a girl out. Although those are the only two I remember, I am not suggesting that his suggestions were frivolous. The main point I came away from it with was that anybody with any beliefs at all could suggest that their listeners be brave and do the brave thing.

The brave thing that came to mind for me is to embrace parenting Kepler like I did parenting the big kids. But I don’t want to. I worked so so so so hard with my older kids, having certain expectations and a clear attachment to the outcome, and all that has happened is that I have had to discover more and more how to allow them to be their own unique individuals, accepting that each of them are on their own journeys, and that their journeys look different than I thought they would.

(Some of my kids occasionally read my blog, and I want to clarify that even though my expectations and attachments to outcome were foiled, I believe that it is a good thing that each of them is on their own journey. I believe it is right that part of my learning is to allow each of them to walk their own path. I an thrilled with the people that they are. I just recognize that there was a just a lot that young mother me did not know.)

I believed back then. I believed that what I was teaching them was right, that homeschooling was a fabulous idea, that church involvement was a pre-requisite for a satisfying, upright life. I believed in black and white back then. I believed I knew what was black and what was white.

I trust the Universe enough to recognize that there are no doubt aspects to embracing parenting Kepler wholeheartedly that would change me for the better, and few that could possibly change me for the worse. But I haven’t figured out my why for this. I guess with the big kids, my why was so unconsciously strong, I never had to stop and think about it much. I believed in self-improvement and perfection, to the detriment of understanding the importance of contributing to the greater good. It sucks pretty much to look back now and think I was lacking in such basic understandings.

There are ways in which parenting Kepler feels like it is something more than I can actually handle on my own. I have no idea how to fight for inclusion for him in the school system. I have no idea how to persevere with teaching a child who learns so much more slowly. I really have no idea how to motivate myself to be enthusiastic about teaching him, to be enthusiastic about trying new and different things to help him learn information. How to continue to set boundaries and enforce them over and over and over and over again.

I might have missed a terribly important window back when he was tiny and I was reeling from his birth. Basically, I think I’m probably just going about this all wrong. But I really don’t know how else to approach it.

No tidy lesson today. No breakthrough yet. Just some honest wrestlings with the circumstances I am in. But I’ll leave you with a song by Jana Stanfield that continues to inspire me, even in the midst of these questions:

Yes, and ……..

valerie saying yes

When “Whose Line is it Anyway?” was on the air, Greg and I were deep in our “raising-children-without-television” years, so I have only seen a couple sketches on YouTube. There are some great ones with Robin Williams. And when I was growing up, “improvisation” was about the piano! It was cool to be able to improvise on the piano. I don’t even remember hearing about the comedy form of “improv,” even if it was being practiced around me, or even by me!

As I hurtle from book to book in my life, I gnaw my way through some, power my way through others, and positively jump into a few with both feet and all my toes. One of the books in that latter category which I happened on a few years ago is called “Truth in Comedy” by Charna Halpern, Del Close, and Kim “Howard” Johnson. (Figures it would be a collaborative effort since it is the “manual of improvisation” and improv is most definitely a collaborative effort.)

Chapter 4 is called “Yes, &.” Rather than arguing, this rule means the actors agree, AND add something, which gives the other actor something to continue the sketch with.

That works in life, too! When I say “no” to what is happening, I pretty much close off my creative paths. When I say “yes, and” I’m allowing my creative juices to flow in responding to what is happening.

While writing this post, I got sucked into the vortex of YouTube looking for the perfect sketch I could link to. I probably spent an hour, at the end of which I had nothin’. I can say “NO, I DO NOT ACCEPT THIS AND I SHALL FIND A VIDEO, DANG IT.” and then what’s left to me but to continue to go through them one at a time, watching the commercials before every video, getting more and more irritated, looking for the video that I know must be there.

Or, I can say. “Yes, I am not finding a perfect video, and perhaps that means putting a video into this post is not the path for me. Maybe I could finish the post and look later. Maybe I could let my readers search YouTube on their own and find funny videos that they enjoy. Maybe there’s even something different that this post is to be about, something different for me to learn as I write.”

The point, and I do have one, is that saying yes to what is provides a type of agreement that enables me to greet what comes with a semblance of acceptance, and think about how to move forward.

Well, I’ve dithered around with this one for long enough. Or maybe, yes, I’ve dithered with this post for quite some time, and I’d really like to feel good about posting it, so I’m going to stick with it for just a few more minutes . . .

And now I am ready to post. What phrases do you find helpful in dealing with the inevitable changes that come?


All of the A to Z bloggers around the world have been fussing about this letter, I’m sure. What to choose? Should I cheat and use a word with “x” somewhere in it? How about using it as the first letter colloquially, like x-tra? Well, who wants to listen to me natter on about the troubles of blogging? NO ONE.

My theme this month is acceptance. Acceptance for this letter means that I accept that there really isn’t any word that feels meaningful to me to write about. Sure, there is xenophobe, xenophile, and xenomania, and other words having to do with a preference for, or strong fear of, that which is foreign to us. Maybe that’ll be my post next year for the challenge.

In the meantime, I found this Very Cool Website called Xeno-canto. The site was begun in 2005 by two men who are part of the four-member team who maintain the site to this day. The idea is to upload bird songs, so that others might share in the discovery and the appreciation.

I remember distinctly the sound of the Australian bell bird, and can even remember the exact car park (parking lot in Aussie) we were in when I first heard them. And look here! There are multiple recordings of the bell birds on xeno-canto. And mourning doves! (which I grew up thinking were “morning” doves because that’s always when I heard them).  This is similar to what I woke to every morning in my sunny Ohio bedroom. How was I ever grumpy in the morning??

Do you love bird songs like I do? What songs are connected with special memories for you?