Tag Archives: compassion

I Just Want To Celebrate

Rare Earth

It’s been a long, dark tunnel that I’ve been in. Not sure I’m through it yet, but today I’ve emerged into sunshine and light and thought I’d go ahead and share that with my bae.

Last post said I’d gone fishing. More like gone into hibernation. I think that picture fits me better. The bear lumbering along, getting sleepier and sleepier, and finally just collapsed into a warm lump in my bed.

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Just kept putting one foot in front of the other. Most of the time. Sometimes I just stood in one place, wondering when I would have the strength to take another step. Sometimes I sat down, and thought I might just not get up.

It’s been a dark time. Through this time, I have clung to the concept of compassion, generosity, rest, and patience.

Compassion for myself. Learning to be gentle with myself, even in the face of not feeling like I could walk a mile with a broken leg with the bone sticking out. Allowing myself to rest when my natural inclination would be to crack the whip just a little harder. Crack the Whip!

I came up with a couple ways to give my time to others, and a way to share my bodacious skills with someone. Days when I didn’t have any internal motivation to do anything, it helped to have things scheduled with other people, as going out and being with someone else almost always helped. And I did let myself rest, to a ridiculous degree. The difference was I decided that maybe, just maybe, I NEEDED the rest, and therefore I wasn’t going to feel guilty about it. And patience. Just allowing what was to be what was.

The other night I visited Craigslist, the first time in months and months. I can’t remember the last time I looked at Craigslist, and I don’t even remember why I looked at it this time. But I found a job I liked the looks of. A job that involved transcribing the archives of a seminary; a job that asked for someone who knew theological terms, and who would be able to figure out unfamiliar names and terms by efficiently using Google. A job pretty much custom made for my interests, skills, and experience.

Amazingly to me, they responded to my resume and cover letter. And further amazingly, they hired me as an independent contractor. I’m excited about the project, even though it is short-term. Depending on my performance here, this company will assign me other transcribing projects.

Well, I’m here to say that baby steps have been berry, berry good to me. Today is a good day, and I wanted to share that.

Other beneficial (baby) steps:

  • Heart to heart talks with Greg.
  • Scheduling another trip to Alaska (next week!).
  • Successfully completing a research project which drastically altered Kepler’s bedtime routine for the better.
  • Transcribing some of my favorite podcasts in order to give back to the podcaster who is doing such a great service, and in order to allow the learning to go more deeply into me.
  • Sticking with my Alexander Technique lessons.
  • Buying a second CD from my current favorite band and just bathing my soul in the beauty.

So, hello everyone from my hibernation den. See you soon.

 

 

Does Someone Else’s Misery Make You Happy?

Maybe you’ve heard by now that Josh Duggar is one of the people whose Ashley Madison account has been exposed by the data hack of the Ashley Madison website, which is a website married people can sign up on to instigate an extramarital affair. Maybe you had already heard that Duggar had been exposed recently as someone who had sexually molested some of his sisters while he was a teen. Maybe you don’t care. I’ve never been interested in the Duggars, but I read something today that got me to thinking.

I suppose the public response is no different than the one that occurs whenever someone who proclaims to be moral falls from grace. Jim Bakker and several others were shown to be hypocritical. When I saw the gleeful reaction today, though, it sent me to Google to look up “joy in another’s misfortune.” Apparently, this is extremely common, and explains why I never understood why people would laugh at someone who tripped and fell, or dropped their drink in the theater.

I’ve always thought it was mean to laugh at someone who does something embarrassing. Does that mean I take life too seriously? Would I be lighter overall if I laughed when people fell from places low and high?

Yep, Josh Duggar is in a world of hurt. Standing in a place of leadership about traditional family values and yet having the molestation in his past and the infidelity in his present. But I still feel sorry for the guy. He has been living a duplicitous life and that’s not easy to live with. Seems like anyone with a conscience would be wondering if any minute they were going to get found out. And the longer the hypocrisy goes on, the worse it is to get out of.

Let’s think about what he might have done instead. I don’t know the ins and outs of when he got married, became a father, became the head of whatever organization it is. But, all along he’s apparently been dealing with desires and urges that are decidedly incompatible with his upbringing and his brand of faith. From what I understand about the more fundamentalist brand, sexual urges are pretty much taboo. A man can have sex with his wife, maybe only in the missionary position (not sure about this), and that’s it. No masturbation. No pornography. No racy movies. No erotic literature. No affairs.

Although I don’t think all of those things are universally detrimental, I do not see how affairs could ever be healthy, even though¬†there are people out there practicing polyamory, and some of them make it work. My belief is that monogamy is the best choice for a married couple. But masturbation, pornography, racy movies, erotic literature? Individual choice. I can’t psychoanalyze the man, and I can’t explain why he’s done what he’s done, but I still feel like it must be incredibly agonizing to be found out. To be such a public voice against the very things he has been indulging in.

So, it doesn’t make me happy to see him fall, except in the sense that perhaps this will be a step towards healing and wholeness. Maybe my deep and abiding experiences with shame in my life have made me a little more compassionate toward anyone who experiences it, I don’t know.

Sad indeed.

Visiting the Inpatient Facility

Although I didn’t get to visit the actual in-patient himself, I stopped by today to drop off money for phone cards and vending machines. 

This post isn’t really about that. It’s about the scene outside when I left. A big group of people were milling about, smoking. Most, if not all, were covered in tattoos, both the men and the women, and I could hear snippets of conversation as I made my way down the sidewalk. At least every other word I heard was the f-word. 

I stepped into the parking lot and had this thought. “Those people are so ugly.” Whoa! What happened to my compassion? Where is the calm understanding that “everybody is I.”? (Someone tell me if that punctuation is wrong. It makes the most sense to me.)

Maybe it wasn’t the people who were ugly, actually. Maybe it was just the dark energy that was emanating from them, back and forth to each other, and outward. 

Sometimes when I am closest to the population who are on the wrong side of  the law, I look at them, with their sloppy clothes, undergarments visible, bad teeth, cigarette smoking, slouching desperation and I just want to straighten them all out. I just want to say, “Take care of yourself. Present yourself the best you can. Show that you value yourself.” 

But that’s the thing, isn’t it? They don’t value themselves. I don’t even think a lot of them even understand that concept. Where would they experience being valued? I wonder what would bring some beauty and light into the lives of people who are lost, struggling, and hopeless. 

I know plenty of people who would say that is what Jesus does. If it’d been Jesus walking down the sidewalk, maybe he’d have stopped to chat with them. And said something about how he satisfies more than any drug. But, well, it wasn’t, and Jesus was around a long time ago, and I’m still thinking through how to talk with people who are addicted. Of course, I can say hello and just be generally kind and respectful, but that might be lost on people who don’t really get kind and respectful.

But at least being kind and respectful would be a step above walking by and telling myself they’re really ugly. What would you say if you walked by? Would you speak to them? How would you try to connect? 

I saw myself today, oh boy

While at swimming this morning, a mom came in with her four children, one of whom was supposed to be in the class with Kepler. That other little boy did NOT want to be in the water. I watched as mom whispered murderous threats in his ear, holding his upper arm too tightly. He resisted over and over. It was a classic power struggle, and he eventually won when she’d had enough and set him down roughly on the bench to wait for his siblings to finish their lessons.

And I remembered. I remembered what it was like to have four little people to lead. Sometimes they didn’t want to follow. Most of the time they did, and we had a LOT of great times, but I recognized the set of her mouth, the urgency in how she held his head to whisper into his ear, her face as he resisted her over and over. 

He was just being a kid. I don’t know why he didn’t want to swim, but I definitely knew that the harder she pushed him, the less cooperative he was going to be. 

I watched the scene with compassion. I wondered what I could say to her. Did she need to be encouraged? Would she appreciate a listening ear? I didn’t speak with her at all, but I saw her leaving with her four kids when we were heading to our car. She was a thunder cloud, and I wondered if she was going to give them a tongue lashing once they were all seatbelted in. I know that’s what I did sometimes, as the pressure would get to me to get everyone to do what they were supposed to do. 

I wondered what led her to decide to put three of her four kids into swim camps at the same time. Getting them up and out the door requires twenty tons of patience. At least, that’s how it was for me. 

It’s been many years since I had four tiny people accompanying me everywhere. And back then, Greg worked only a couple blocks away, so he could come home for lunch, unlike these days when we see him so seldom. I remember even with that support I would yell at those babies. I can’t imagine now what could possibly have justified me yelling at them. Nothing, that’s what. And I don’t know what could have relieved the burden I felt to be a perfect mother, with perfect children. 

Maybe swim mom isn’t experiencing that at all. Maybe it was just a rough morning, and that particular kid is sunny 97% of the time, and this was an anomaly. But it seemed like a little more than that.

I think I might write her a letter. I think this is what it would say:

Dear Mama Of Four Beautiful Babies,

You may have noticed me leave with my little boy yesterday, the one who was in your reluctant swimmer’s class? But then again, with as much as you had going on, you probably didn’t notice.

My little boy is the fifth of our five kids. His big siblings are 22, 21, 19, and 16. Once upon a time, I looked a lot like you, herding my troop from place to place. Of my older four, 1 and 3 were somewhat challenging, whereas 2 and 4 were very easygoing and agreeable.

I found myself constantly overwhelmed by all the needs, all the questions, and all the options. Have you ever felt that? Kids are so amazing, but they require so much attention, so much energy, so much wisdom, so so so much patience.

I didn’t always have the patience, let alone the wisdom, attention, and energy. In some ways, I couldn’t wait for them to get a little older so some of the pressure would be off me. In some ways, I loved the wonder of them. Watching them learn new things, see new places, be their precious selves in all their perfect imperfection.

I know from seeing you bring your babies to swim that you are a wonderful mother. If you’re anything like me, you probably don’t feel like it a lot of the time. Being a mother of several children is very challenging, as I’m sure you know. When I was a kid, lots of families had four or five or six kids. But our parents didn’t have to deal with seatbelts, carseats, booster seats, hand sanitizer, germs on the grocery cart, trying to feed our kids healthy food in a world chock full of junk, a million options everyday, the unending information flow into our brains, our heightened awareness of the dangers in our world, cell phones, child locks, and about a hundred other everyday things we have to attend to these days. 

It’s definitely possible to have a large family and thrive in the process, but I found that I had to redefine success in some areas, plus I needed to be about 85358853578 times more compassionate toward myself. 

Sure, it’s part of motherhood to give of ourselves, and to do it beyond our comfort level, but I believe far too few of us take care of ourselves to by finding our oxygen and breathing it in deeply before we try to put our kids’ oxygen masks on. 

If you are one of the wise women who have figured that out, more power to you!! If you find yourself struggling, I will tell you that the two best things I could have done for my children was to be incredibly compassionate toward myself, and found ways to nurture myself and get refreshed in order to be the best version of myself.

I don’t know if you are a SAHM, but I was/am, and I believe it is a job that is rife with challenges that are also opportunities. But when I was in the thick of things, I only understood them as challenges.

All this is to say, I have been in a similar place with multiple young children, complete with one who seemingly didn’t ever want to do what I wanted him to do! And I wanted to let you know that I saw you and I identified with you and I trust you and I believe I you. 

Best wishes. Take care of yourself!