Sunday, June 14, 2009

A Bridge from Childhood

I never saw a grown man cry until that night. It was a winter night, circa 1970-something and although it was a very long time ago it remains indelibly imprinted into my memories. There was no significant event, as significant events go but it was significant to me. Until that night I believed that my father was among the untouchable comic book super-heroes. In fact, I often thought he was like superman with his only kryptonite being my mother but that’s a story for another time. This was a Friday night, I vividly recall. My dad typically drank only on the weekends and this night was typical. It was getting late and he was getting ready to walk over to a local bar. It was one he was proud to frequent because his father, my grandfather, built the bar with his own hands. I heard the story nearly every weekend for as long as I can remember.

We had a little parakeet named Piewacket. He was a gift from one of my cousins. He was the most beautiful color of turquoise blue, with a white head that gently faded into blue. He was as mean as a summer day is long though. If you got too close to him while trying to feed him or clean out his cage, he’d take a piece of flesh for your troubles. He had been, at that time, a member of our family for many years and clearly he was not his usual peppy self. I watched him in his cage from across my tiny little bedroom. With the bare light bulb burning brightly in the ceiling, the small cubby he was in had interesting shadows.

I could hear the music from down the long dark hallway that lead to my father’s room. He was playing something, Melanie Safka I think, on the hi-fi and I could hear the clinking sound of ice cubes traveling down the side of a glass stopping abruptly at the bottom and then I heard the glass set down gently with a soft click on dad’s dresser right by the door. I heard his measured steps coming up the hallway and he came into my room to say good night before he left. I never noticed then that his cologne was always mixed with the smell of rum and Pepsi, a smell I can’t tolerate today let alone the taste. It sends me over the edge nearly because it reminds me of him and how much I miss him.

But that night the fog of alcohol was already strong on his mind. He was a kind man, a truly kind man and he was so brilliant about so many things. I always liked those Friday nights as a kid because my brother and I would sit in his room with him while he listened to his old forty-five’s on the hi-fi,. He’d sing and smile and tell us stories about how he grew up. They weren’t happy stories. They were often laced with tragedy of the emotional kind. But I listened and I sang along with him, just happy to see him seem so happy. That night had been no different, earlier in the evening.

But it started to get late and my brother and I had to go to sleep so he could go out and not worry about us. Not that he’d have to, my grandmother was always there looking after us. It was just something he did, one way he made sure to take care of his responsibilities. That night was rough because Piewacket just wasn’t doing well. My dad came in to check on him and he said that our little friend would likely not last the night. He tucked us in and gave us a kiss and then he walked out the door. I could hear the heels of dad’s shoes as he walked down the street until they got too soft to hear any more. I drifted off to sleep and then in what seemed like minutes later, I woke up hearing my dad’s footsteps coming back up the hall. He had returned from his evening and his steps were much less steady and the mix of cologne and rum so much stronger.

He came in to check on the bird. I hadn’t noticed he was on the bottom of his cage. Dad’s eyes were red from drink and troubled with worry. He opened the cage and pulled out Piewacket. He gently cradled our family pet in his strong hands. It seemed so strange that such a big strong man could cradle a tiny creature so gently and with so much love. He sat down on my bed and he said, “Jan-jan, I’m so sorry but he’s just not going to make it. I could hear him choking up and I did too. We sat there together watching Piewacket take his last breaths. As that last breath went in and out, my father cried. I had never seen a grown man cry before but I stayed quiet, tears in my own eyes. My dad sat there so quiet for the longest time. He stroked Piewacket’s head and then looked at me and said he was gone. I wiped away a tear and my dad just gave me a hug. He said we would take care of him in the morning and he said goodnight and turned off my bedroom light taking the little bird with him. He shut the door behind him.

I sat there in the dark for a little while thoughtful. I was just becoming a teen and was noticing changes all around me but that night I experienced the biggest change. My dad became a mere mortal male that night. He wasn’t impervious to emotional pain and so many things connected for me in an instant. I suddenly realized how much emotional pain he carried. I suddenly saw him as a human being, fallible, faults and all. Everything connected. I lost a piece of my youth that night but I also gained a great deal of understanding. My dad was a beautiful person who loved animals, who loved us the most in life and he cared about so much more about everything than he ever let on. He had his challenges with life but kept going for a while for us. As I think back now, even more things connect. Today I have a greater understanding of emotional pain, of addiction and it’s true source, for love and life and I owe it all to this beautiful man that was once my superman. In away, he’ll always be my superman because he was the one man in my life who saw me for who I was and loved me any way. His capacity for love in his own way created a bridge for me to walk cautiously from a child to a young adult. He did it without even trying and he did it with love. I’ll never forget that night.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Random Musings

When I was in my twenties, I only wanted to hear about how hot men thought I was. Silly foolish girl and my how things have changed. Twenty years later and I still love to hear a man tell me I'm hot but the one that impresses me will be the one who sees me for who I really am and makes sure I know that he knows my value is by far greater than just what my body can do for him.

Sun falling slowly across the western sky, clouds welling with moisture but not heavy enough for rain, green grass, 4 bare feet as my six year old and I turn cartwheels in the back yard. The sheer joy of hearing her laugh as I show her how and then she puts on an amazing show for me. I am peacefully elated.

I worked hard today and did the best I could. I didn't do things perfectly and there was a time I'd have gone home nutted up with anxiety. But I'm just not that girl any more. I'm a woman who knows what's important, like cutting herself some slack and appreciating effort and progress instead of demanding perfection from herself.

I came home and grabbed a wine cooler from the fridge. It was hard to open it and I got it done. I sat down to catch up on email and took one sip. I was in such a peaceful and balanced state, I couldn't take another sip...primarily not wanting anything to screw with my serenity. I promptly dumped it down the drain, took out the comet and scrubbed my sink. When I was done, I was elated.

Finally gone from me is the urge to focus my energy outward for love. After nearly 43 years on this planet, I learned that such searches are pointless. Real, true and unadulterated love comes from only one source...right inside the heart of mankind...each, individually. Only when you can find it there, can you give it and truly appreciate it when another human being gives it to you.

The sun is set after a brief appearance in my world. Inside my heart the sun always seems to be shining. I like how that feels and I'm glad it didn't take a drug, alcohol, or a man to bring me to this place. I brought myself to this dance and will gladly dance my life away and go home with the one I came with.

Enough of my random musings for now. If you read this far, bless you, you're a good soul. May you be filled with peace and love in every extreme imaginable.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Unworthy Battle

Truth is true, the rest is irrelevant.
So why do we fight to convince others of truth?
Why do we fight disharmony with discord?
It makes no difference and only wastes precious energy.

The ego believes that if someone sees the bad parts in us
It somehow takes something away from us.
The truth is, we all have bad parts,
And we’re aware of those bad parts, so who cares who sees?

If people walk away from you
And strive with all their might to take others with them,
The ones that leave weren’t with you to begin with
And you need no one to validate who you really are anyway.

Let them go.
Let disharmony go.
Stop trying to control things over which you have no control,
Like the thoughts of others or actions as well.

The only person we have the power to control is ourselves.
That is a definitive truth,
And one you do not need to convince others of.
If others do not wish to know, who are you to assign yourself as their personal guru?

Focus on yourself and how you feel.
If something hurts, say so then let go.
If you have the power to change yourself
Because you are not healthy, do so.

Make no attempt to thwart or control others.
Seek only to set your own boundaries.
As Ghandi said, “Be the peace you want to see.”
And the Golden Rule, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."

Such infinite truths and wisdom...
Are all too easily tossed out the window when ego clashes with ego.
There is no way to win when someone else has to lose.
There is no cowardice in having the strength to leave an unworthy battle.

Gossamer Flame

Searching through the cold and dark
Finding rocks and unexpected pitfalls
Grappling to find handholds and footholds
Falling and rising and then falling yet again.

Eventually the chasm opens wider
Cavernous echoes of victims still pleading
Questing for something they know not the source of
Forever lost in the mists of their own minds

When all is seemingly intangible and lost
Unbidden tears come angling down
As they fall a glimmer of light does flicker
A tiny flame burns hanging by gossamer threads

That flame lies within so searching is fruitless
Looking with your eyes will render your failure
Search with your heart through your dreams on the inside
And soon you will find that love therein lies.

(fractal by jason dunn -

Friday, June 5, 2009

Connected Moment

Bamboo stalks creaking in a warm gentle breeze…
So much for clouds and rain, today we enjoy the sun.
The rays radiate everywhere filling everyone and everything with a smile.
Even the song of the birds sounds happier than normal.

I sit alone on a man-made structure.
Despite the natural seeming surroundings,
I’m in the heart of the concrete jungle.
I can even hear the hundreds of cars speeding down the freeway.

I hear footsteps interspersed between the sounds of the leaves,
And competitive birds search for traces of food in this different jungle.
Occasionally voices, like whispers on the wind…
Come floating gently through the air.

In this moment, in this seemingly unlikely place,
I feel so connected to everything…
The grass glowing green, etched in golden light…
Birds floating on a warm air current…

People miling about…
Heavy metal and glass surrounded…
Airplanes coming in from a distance…
People departing, moving and laughing.

Then the breeze comes again, I breathe it in…
So content to be here in this moment…
My thoughts nowhere else but here…
The energy surging and yet tranquilly swirling.

It’s time to return to my work-a-day reality.
I go begrudgingly maybe a little,
But the rest of the day will be accented immensely,
By this peacefully aware and connected moment.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Judging the Judge

Are you tired of negative thoughts permeating your being? Are you tired of negative things happening in your life, feeling bad or insecure all the time? Do you want to stop it? I hope so. The question is where do you start and what do you do? There are any infinite number of things that you can do but I’ll start with something really simple. Fire the judgmental voice inside your head? Don’t become alarmed or get defensive on me. Of course, I realize that there are very good reasons for us to have judgment and the ability to discern good from bad. What I’m talking about is the internal critic. You know the one I’m talking about, the one that judges you no matter what you do. Sometimes it might be easiest to focus on one aspect of judgment. Start with the voice that judges other people. You know that one too. The one that says, “Gosh, look at the way that girl is dressed. I can do so much better than that.” Maybe it’s the one that says, “I’m glad I don’t look like that” or even the one that’s a bit hostile that calls people names. When you hear that voice saying anything derogatory about another individual, tell it to stop and just think to yourself in response to the judge, “well, that may be but that person deserves love, I deserve love and to be accepted for who I am.” It’s really simple huh? That’s all you need to do…notice when the judge is judging other people.

After a while, it becomes very easy to hear the critic from the millions of other thoughts inside of your head. You’ll begin to notice the negative stream the internal critic throws in your direction. When you hear that critic and no matter what it says, turn that negative thought around with a positive. If you make a mistake and the critic in your head says, “Duh ya idiot! What were you thinking?” Immediately turn that around by saying, “everyone makes mistakes and everyone has the right to learn. I will learn from this mistake and choose better next time.” How can we expect the world not to beat up on us when we beat up on ourselves so harshly? It’s unreasonable. So, stop beating up on yourself with your thoughts. Turn them around. It’s really important because like most definitely attracts like and one negative thought can breed an entire army of negative thoughts and really ruin your day.

It takes practice to notice the negative thoughts. If you’re the type who frequently verbalizes criticism, watch that too…that is if you want to change. Things are not always what they seem…negative and critical people are met with more negativity and their internal critic never stops. Stop the internal critic and don’t fight back with the Negative Nelly’s of the world either. Save your energy for positive focus. It hurts when people put us down but only if what they say is true or we fear it’s true (provided we have normal psychology on our side and we’re not in denial). When I run into the Negative Nelly’s who make it a point to tell me how bad I did at something or another, I say “wow, is that so? Hmmm, I’ll have to think about that” and then I let it go. I don’t say it with attitude but I won’t argue the point. Who am I to force people to change their minds about me. That’s a tough job to try to control how everyone else thinks about you. So, instead, control what is within your power to control…you and your thoughts.

I’ll write some more on this later. Think positive and know that no matter what your internal critic says, you have a right to be here, you have a right to be who and what you are and you are loved. Peace!