Don’t fear

It is a funny thing about love. We really can’t experience the fullness of it unless we are open to it. Being open, however, puts us at risk of being hurt. That is the trade off.

vulnerableSometimes we choose to love someone and are hurt by that person. It happens to everyone. Sitting back in fear gets us nowhere. I know people who have spent their lives alone because they couldn’t accept the uncertainty. Love is rarely certain.

We take a risk when we choose to love. I have taken that risk more that once and been hurt. I also took that risk 56 years ago when I married my husband. That risk paid off. Not all of them do.

For me, a life without love is a barren life. Yes, I have been hurt by relationships. Sometimes even those we think of as friends can hurt us terribly. It takes time to know a person well and the person we see at the beginning may be wearing a mask. We may not find out until later what is underneath.

I know someone who was married for years only to discover the person she loved was a criminal. We can be fooled.

Is it worth it? Yes, yes and yes! If the love is lost we will experience pain. We learn from the pain and become someone who has more depth. If it lasts it brings joy.

Don’t stay away from love out of fear. It is one of the most fruitful things in life. You can’t afford to not live fully!

An amazing manifesto from parent to child

This is from my daily readings by Richard Rohr. I find this truly amazing and wish I knew about it when my children were small. I plan on creating a copy for my children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. My whole family needs a beautiful framed copy of this!

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Researcher Brené Brown knows the importance of vulnerability and open-heartedness. In her book Daring Greatly, she offers a parenting manifesto that can serve as a touchstone when we feel afraid or resist vulnerability. You might read it aloud to a child, someone you love, or yourself:

“Above all else, I want you to know that you are loved and lovable. You will learn this from my words and actions—the lessons on love are in how I treat you and how I treat myself.

I want you to engage with the world from a place of worthiness. You will learn that you are worthy of love, belonging, and joy every time you see me practice self-compassion and embrace my own imperfections.

We will practice courage in our family by showing up, letting ourselves be seen, and honoring vulnerability. We will share our stories of struggle and strength. There will always be room in our home for both.

We will teach you compassion by practicing compassion with ourselves first; then with each other. We will set and respect boundaries; we will honor hard work, hope, and perseverance. Rest and play will be family values, as well as family practices.

You will learn accountability and respect by watching me make mistakes and make amends, and by watching how I ask for what I need and talk about how I feel.

I want you to know joy, so together we will practice gratitude. I want you to feel joy, so together we will learn how to be vulnerable.

When uncertainty and scarcity visit, you will be able to draw from the spirit that is a part of our everyday life.

Together we will cry and face fear and grief. I will want to take away your pain, but instead I will sit with you and teach you how to feel it.

We will laugh and sing and dance and create. We will always have permission to be ourselves with each other. No matter what, you will always belong here.

As you begin your Wholehearted journey, the greatest gift that I can give to you is to live and love with my whole heart and to dare greatly.

I will not teach or love or show you anything perfectly, but I will let you see me, and I will always hold sacred the gift of seeing you. Truly, deeply, seeing you.”

Brené Brown, Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead (Avery: 2012), 244-245. Visit brenebrown.com for a copy of the manifesto and other resources.

Families are unique

It has been a fun and interesting week. The visit with my daughter and her family has been fun. Family together is never without its moments but this has been good.

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I feel so blessed that my children “like” each other as well as love. the “liking” part is not always present in families. It is so easy to love someone as family but dislike the way they are. There are times when we can get on the outs for some reason but is has always blown over. I hope that part of that is due to my husband and I. At least I would love to think so.

Families are tricky things. It is so easy to forget that everyone is their own person and has thoughts, beliefs and ideas separate from others. The lifestyle of my three children is much different from each other but they still get along. They are vastly different in personalities and have each pursued totally different careers. I am glad they have followed their own paths.

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If you have children don’t be afraid to let them follow their own path. Obviously, they need love and direction but they are individuals. As they grow they need solid underpinning knowing that there is someone who will be there no matter what. They also need someone who will teach them a moral compass. With this behind them they will grow into good people.

57 years

This past weekend my husband and I celebrated our 57th wedding anniversary. It is almost impossible to think that we have been married for so long. Where did the time go? It really doesn’t seem that long ago…and yet a lot of people have no idea what life was like in 1962.

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For me it seemed ideal although looking at it now I wonder how. My husband was a new officer just graduated from West Point and beginning some training. He was in paratrooper school and went on to ranger training. During ranger training he was gone. How in the world did I think that was ideal. I guess I was living in a bubble of newly wed happiness. I think the saving grace was having other wives going through the same thing and us becoming friends. Friends were made quickly as we all needed support. We were lucky as our husbands had known each other at West Point and that made it easier.

Our life in the service was challenging. We moved often and I was alone a good bit. Some things were wonderful…the birth of our first child…language school in Monterey…living in Panama, Central America.

 

Times were also tough with spending two different years alone with children while my husband served in Viet Nam. I don’t know how I managed the worry but I seemed to cope with the stress and loneliness. Children are wonderful companions but they don’t replace a beloved spouse.

Our last tour was a joy. My husband went to graduate school and then taught math at West Point.  It was an amazing experience.

There have been many years and many different jobs for each of us since his retirement from the military and life has been good. Our three adult children, their spouses, our six grandchildren, one great grandchild and one on the way have added great joy.

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57 years. Amazing!

Find Lucy

After the serious dry spell that we had now we have had rain every day. It doesn’t rain long but enough to help. I hope that it reached the farmers soon enough.

Today I had a call from one of my daughters telling me that my daughter in Texas has lost one of her dogs. She rescued two dachshunds a while back. Both had obviously been badly treated and were afraid of almost everyone. She and her family have been working hard to restore their trust and put their fears to rest. One of them would probably be considered to suffer from PTSD. The dog is on multiple meds for anxiety and panic attacks. While I was there visiting she eventually let me touch her but is still terrified of most things. Apparently last night little Lucy got out somehow. She is so fast. I’m not sure how it happened but my daughter is devastated.

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Lucy will not come to anyone if called. She is chipped and has a collar with her name and address but I don’t know if anyone will be able to catch her. Poor thing she is now lost and away from any kindness she has ever been shown. They also live near what is called “green belt” an untouched area designated to allow water retention and wildlife. I know they are worried that if she is there it will be difficult to find her.

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This makes me so sad. I would be lost if I couldn’t find either of my dogs and Lucy is at risk in so many ways. Dogs become part of our families and touch our hearts in so many ways. Lucy found a safe place and I hope she is found and returned there.

Soul work

What is is to search for our own soul. (It doesn’t matter what you call it. It is our inner core…our best self.) How do we turn away from the things that our society has led us to believe are the ultimate good? When are we able to grow enough to cast aside the ideas that we have been taught from birth?

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Most of us who have spent our lives in western society have been taught to reach for things that are finite. We look to find joy and peace in things that fade. We want everything taken care of NOW! We are impatient and want pills to cure our ills that work fast. If we feel the slightest bit bored we want entertainment that distracts us from spending time with ourselves. We want to be as beautiful at 80 as we were at 25. The look of youth is the ultimate. We want things to feed our emptiness with…cars, jewelry, clothes, electronics, houses….anything to make us important. We want to seem important, looked up to and emulated. We think that these will be fulfilling. They won’t. Their rewards to us are ephemeral.

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Turning away from these illusions and seeking the soul itself is a challenge. Can we go against society and understand that love and compassion and empathy and generosity are what matters? These are eternal.

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Seek inside yourself for the things that really matter and pursue them.

Life with dogs

We are frequently in and out during the day and consequently leave our dogs alone for short periods of time. One of the, Crash, has issues with being left due to his history. He is a rescue who was on the street until found by Carolina Basset Rescue. He suffered greatly with a broken pelvis and so filled with ticks, fleas, etc. he was emaciated.

Our other dog, Tillie, is also a rescue but we don’t know her history. Both dogs are well behaved and so funny. I mentioned before that while we are gone things happen in the house….nothing damaging but darn funny.

dog food

The latest thing that I have been finding upon our return is dog food in a throw rug in the bedroom. The first time this happened I wondered how it got there but just dismissed it. However, yesterday there was a second offering. This begs the question how are the dry pieces being brought from their bowls to the bedroom and who exactly is the culprit?

When you have two dogs it is easy to blame the most obvious one for whatever has taken place but we have always had two dogs and I learned long ago that it is not always the one you think. The problem is who?

tillie and crash
They look so innocent

We still don’t know who is moving kibble to the bedroom but again no damage is being done. I wonder if I perused the house camera I would learn the truth but it doesn’t show the bedroom. Oh well. Life with dogs. Love it!

Love must help us to be ourselves

True union . . . doesn’t turn its respective participants into a blob, a drop dissolving into the ocean. Rather, it presses them mightily to become more and more themselves: to discover, trust, and fully inhabit their own depths. As these depths open, so does their capacity to love, to give-and-receive of themselves.—-Cynthia Bourgeault   from the thoughts of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

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Real love, wants more than anything, for us to be truly ourselves. If the person we are with only wants to mold us into someone else then we had best back away.

In my life I have known people who have created themselves to mesh perfectly with another person. They have submerged themselves and little of the true person is visible. Their ache for love is so great that they will do anything to get it. They will even betray themselves. The sad part is that they are not being loved for themselves but for the person they created.

But if in your fear you would seek only love’s peace and love’s pleasure,
Then it is better for you that you cover your nakedness and pass out of love’s threshing-floor into the seasonless world where you shall laugh, but not all of your laughter, and weep, but not all of your tears. Kahlil Gibran from The Prophet

Sometimes we want so much to be loved that we are willing to give up ourselves. This may seem ok for a while but eventually we will feel the strain of it and end up knowing that is it not the right thing.

Love gives naught but itself and takes naught but from itself. Love possesses not nor would it be possessed, for love is sufficient unto love. Kahlil Gibran

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In any relationship we must love ourselves. We have to be able to accept who we are with all our warts and scars. Then with that love we can reach out to another person.

 

There is love

graffiti_text_loveOne of the most important things to accept and understand is that each of us is loved. I am not talking about the love of another person but the love that surrounds us. For me, there is a love that pervades the universe. We learn to accept that each of us is unique and as such never to be again. Our time on earth is a gift. We have to make choices about how we use that gift. We didn’t seek that gift. It was given freely and without expectation of some sort of return.

If we can accept that we are loved then we have love to give away to others. Not just people but also to the earth that we inhabit. There are times when we don’t feel any love directed toward us. We feel alone, alienated, and abandoned. We must learn to pull away from this idea. Regardless of how unimportant or unnoticed we feel we must accept the fact that we matter.

where there is loveTo me this feeling of being left out, ostracized and without meaning is insidious and can trap us in depression. Sometimes it is hard to believe that love surrounds us. You can see it as God, or whatever form you accept but it is there.

When you are in a bad place and can’t see your way remember the love and know that you can reach out and find a way out of the darkness. There is always a way.

We want what we can’t have

Today I feel written out. My brain is just sitting and doing nothing. I think having been at home and not getting out I am feeling dull. I have binge watched some TV programs, cleaned out some drawers, and sat looking at the marsh. We had a thunderstorm and I love watching storms.

Generally I am down and need to do something to pull myself up. My husband has been easy to care for, helpful when he can and pleasant but being in is getting to me. I have asked myself what I was doing before and I really don’t know that it was anything spectacular. I don’t know that I was out that much it just may be the feeling that I can’t.

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It’s funny how our minds work. We always want to do what we can’t have. If I had to be out every day I would be fussing about not getting to stay home. So I will stay in as long as necessary and get out when things settle down. After all, there is nothing else to do and why complain about it.