Margins

September 13, 2014

The Need For Space by Molly Davis

Imagine a book in which the pages have no margins, or a photo where the image fills the frame with no space in which to sit.  The empty space is as important as the rest.  For it is the emptiness in which the words fill the page, the art the canvas, the photo the wall.  Without it the power of the words and beauty of the image is lost. Or at best, diminished. In order to be fully there, they have need of some  space.  So do we. Read the rest of this entry »

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Eyes Ahead by Molly Davis

Recently I was talking to a younger woman on the phone.  She is at a cross-roads.  One of many she will  encounter, and that is giving her pause to consider questions most of us will recognize.  

What do I want my life to look like? 

What is my work?

How can I craft a life that allows me to work at something I love, pays me well and makes a difference in the world that is within my grasp?

As I listened to her sift through her thoughts and feelings, I was struck by the language she  used to articulate her desires and vision for her life.  Most sentences began with what she DIDN’T want. Read the rest of this entry »

She Said…

December 19, 2011

She said she couldn’t do it. She said that she would rather die than leave her home. She said that she was so lonely she just couldn’t imagine facing another day. She said that if we took her car away she would just buy a new one. She said that, that dent in the front of her car was not her fault because she didn’t remember hitting anything. She said that she was not as old as all the old people in the dining room. She said that she was afraid she couldn’t keep up. She said she didn’t want to live like this. She said she wanted to see my father one last time. She said she hadn’t slept in nights. She said she slept like a baby. She said she still couldn’t find the bathroom. She said she learned to Wii bowl. She said she missed her own kitchen. She said the food was really good. She said the Girl Scouts who came to carol were adorable. She said she couldn’t wait for baby Eloise to come visit. She said she made a new friend. She said she thought this might turn out all right. She said thank you.

Love Is All That Matters

September 29, 2011

We are living in insane times. It is every where: record numbers of people living on the streets, going hungry. Our financial foundation compromised to it’s core: lost jobs, lost homes, lost dreams. AND YET…in-spite of what is hard, and painful and devastatingly real, if we are loved and truly love someone else, there is light at the end of any dark tunnel. After all, love is the one thing that at the end of each of our lives, we won’t regret, and wish there had been more of. My treasured friend, Hollye Dexter says it all…”love is all that matters”.

WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 28, 2011

Lessons Learned At A Funeral

     I’ve been to more funerals in my life than I care to count. And I have sat bedside with critically ill friends at the ends of their lives. Although it has been painful, I consider this a privilege, for they have taught me valuable life lessons.
My dear friend of 25 years, Phyllis, was like a second mother to me. I loved her with all my heart, but she was a difficult woman. She was tall, strong, a force to be reckoned with, but she spent a lot of her life being offended by people. She was prickly and cantankerous. I’d had a few run-ins with her over the years, and she’d made me cry more than once, but always we came back to a place of love. The last time I saw Phyllis on her deathbed, all her hard edges had softened as she began to wither away. She looked so vulnerable, like a tiny baby bird in a nest of hospital blankets. She was peaceful, finally. Soon she would join her husband and son in the afterlife. The last thing this tough woman said to me before she died- “Love is all that matters.”
     A year later, I would watch my friend John die from a brain tumor. At the end, I sat holding his hand while Troy played John’s beloved baby grand piano. The tumor had robbed him of his ability to speak in sentences, but there was no need for words. What mattered was clearly present in that room. John looked into my eyes, took my hand and squeezed it tight. With his other hand patting his heart, he said “So much…so much…”
     This Sunday I attended yet another funeral; a sad, tragic funeral of a woman who died much too young. Andrea was Dani’s little sister. I can still see her sitting cross-legged on her bed at thirteen years old, talking about her boyfriend, as Dani and I were putting on make-up, getting ready to go out to some party or High School football game. Andrea, just a little girl in my memory, with her long wavy hair, and a whole life ahead of her.
Now she is ashes.
     There had been hurt and misunderstanding between Dani and her sister over the years, and some of Andrea’s life decisions caused her to distance herself from those who loved her. Yet, on the last day of her life as she lied comatose in her hospital bed, Andrea opened her eyes and smiled at Dani. Nothing needed to be said. What was left at the end, above all the broken hearts and hurt feelings, was love.
     At the funeral on Sunday, Andrea’s two teenage daughters, now orphaned, stood up and spoke about their love for their mother. Her oldest, Megan, lamented about all the time they spent fighting over petty things. That time could never be regained, time which could have been spent loving each other. I heard that message loud and clear.
Since Sunday, I have witnessed a lot of anger amongst my friends and family, some of it at each other, some at me, over small things, which will one day be long forgotten.  But Sunday put things in perspective for me. I don’t intend to waste a second of my precious life, which I am so lucky to have, quibbling over small things. I want to spend the hours of my life loving my family and friends, and helping others to do the same. I won’t be swayed from this.
     People often comment on my relationship with Troy, how much in love we are after so many years. The reason our love has lasted is not because we don’t fight. We do. It doesn’t happen much anymore but in the early years, we almost didn’t make it. What saved us, time and again, is that we always come back to a place of love. Always. The love we have for each other is larger than either of our needs to be right or to be vindicated. The love outweighs our egos.
My friendship with Erin is that way. We are a couple of strong-willed broads and we’ve collided spectacularly at times, but again, what I love so much about Erin is her great heart, which prevails over everything else, as does mine. As does Dani’s.
     Life is rattling my cage pretty hard right now, testing me, challenging me to walk my talk. I ask myself, if I were lying on my deathbed, would these issues matter?
My life’s mission is to live a life of integrity, love and honesty, and to help others do the same. No matter what is thrown at me, I will stand strong in that mission, unshakable. For I know what will matter on my own deathbed is the love and kindness I shared with people.
     Phyllis said it, John said it, and an eighteen year-old girl who’s had to grow up way too fast said it best. Love is all that matters.
(truth and consequences blog by hollye dexter)

Love is all That Matters

September 29, 2011

We are living in insane times. It is every where: record numbers of people living on the streets, going hungry. Our financial foundation compromised to it’s core: lost jobs, lost homes, lost dreams. AND YET…in-spite of what is hard, and painful and devastatingly real, if we are loved and truly love someone else, there is light at the end of any dark tunnel. After all, love is the one thing that at the end of each of our lives, we won’t regret, and wish there had been more of. My treasured friend, Hollye Dexter says it all…”love is all that matters”.

WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 28, 2011

Lessons Learned At A Funeral

     I’ve been to more funerals in my life than I care to count. And I have sat bedside with critically ill friends at the ends of their lives. Although it has been painful, I consider this a privilege, for they have taught me valuable life lessons.
My dear friend of 25 years, Phyllis, was like a second mother to me. I loved her with all my heart, but she was a difficult woman. She was tall, strong, a force to be reckoned with, but she spent a lot of her life being offended by people. She was prickly and cantankerous. I’d had a few run-ins with her over the years, and she’d made me cry more than once, but always we came back to a place of love. The last time I saw Phyllis on her deathbed, all her hard edges had softened as she began to wither away. She looked so vulnerable, like a tiny baby bird in a nest of hospital blankets. She was peaceful, finally. Soon she would join her husband and son in the afterlife. The last thing this tough woman said to me before she died- “Love is all that matters.”
     A year later, I would watch my friend John die from a brain tumor. At the end, I sat holding his hand while Troy played John’s beloved baby grand piano. The tumor had robbed him of his ability to speak in sentences, but there was no need for words. What mattered was clearly present in that room. John looked into my eyes, took my hand and squeezed it tight. With his other hand patting his heart, he said “So much…so much…”
     This Sunday I attended yet another funeral; a sad, tragic funeral of a woman who died much too young. Andrea was Dani’s little sister. I can still see her sitting cross-legged on her bed at thirteen years old, talking about her boyfriend, as Dani and I were putting on make-up, getting ready to go out to some party or High School football game. Andrea, just a little girl in my memory, with her long wavy hair, and a whole life ahead of her.
Now she is ashes.
     There had been hurt and misunderstanding between Dani and her sister over the years, and some of Andrea’s life decisions caused her to distance herself from those who loved her. Yet, on the last day of her life as she lied comatose in her hospital bed, Andrea opened her eyes and smiled at Dani. Nothing needed to be said. What was left at the end, above all the broken hearts and hurt feelings, was love.
     At the funeral on Sunday, Andrea’s two teenage daughters, now orphaned, stood up and spoke about their love for their mother. Her oldest, Megan, lamented about all the time they spent fighting over petty things. That time could never be regained, time which could have been spent loving each other. I heard that message loud and clear.
Since Sunday, I have witnessed a lot of anger amongst my friends and family, some of it at each other, some at me, over small things, which will one day be long forgotten.  But Sunday put things in perspective for me. I don’t intend to waste a second of my precious life, which I am so lucky to have, quibbling over small things. I want to spend the hours of my life loving my family and friends, and helping others to do the same. I won’t be swayed from this.
     People often comment on my relationship with Troy, how much in love we are after so many years. The reason our love has lasted is not because we don’t fight. We do. It doesn’t happen much anymore but in the early years, we almost didn’t make it. What saved us, time and again, is that we always come back to a place of love. Always. The love we have for each other is larger than either of our needs to be right or to be vindicated. The love outweighs our egos.
My friendship with Erin is that way. We are a couple of strong-willed broads and we’ve collided spectacularly at times, but again, what I love so much about Erin is her great heart, which prevails over everything else, as does mine. As does Dani’s.
     Life is rattling my cage pretty hard right now, testing me, challenging me to walk my talk. I ask myself, if I were lying on my deathbed, would these issues matter?
My life’s mission is to live a life of integrity, love and honesty, and to help others do the same. No matter what is thrown at me, I will stand strong in that mission, unshakable. For I know what will matter on my own deathbed is the love and kindness I shared with people.
     Phyllis said it, John said it, and an eighteen year-old girl who’s had to grow up way too fast said it best. Love is all that matters.
(truth and consequences blog by hollye dexter)

GOOD WILL

May 9, 2011

“Freaking Out” comes in waves. Big, nasty, sweep you out to sea, waves. For the most part I am calm and collected as I choose to toss yet another memory place holder on to the Goodwill pile. I hold it, smell it, sometimes shed a tear or two. But the promise of less stuff, a new beginning, a sense of surrender to the matters that truly matter now keeps me focused.

Every now and then I must admit I lose control. My seasoned composure doesn’t even make the donation pile. It flies all around the room, bouncing off every wall and coming back to smack me upside the head. What the fuck am I doing? I hate change…Change in my life has often represented really bad stuff…someone dies, or tries to. Families fall apart, people leave and don’t come back…footings fail, roofs cave in, foul and destructive human beings run for public office and WIN.

When the wave subsides, I catch my breath and return to the business at hand. Slipping from one major chapter into another isn’t easy. Leaving behind ghosts of a family growing up under one roof, grandparents who were independent and had life force enough to spare; trees planted that have now come to be giants in all seasons; roots of all kinds that made me feel like I belonged here…all pieces of the previous chapter.

AND YET…standing at cross roads a choice eventually has to be made. I am confident that forward is the only option. Holding still never really gets you where you want to go. Indeed, it is less work, by far. Less dangerous, less challenging, less emotional…less, less, less.

I want more.

I want to have the time to do more for others. I want to be present for a granddaughter in the making. I want to create good will in a new community. I want to live with less and experience more.

I live at the base of a mountain.  Not just any mountain either.  This is a glorious, grand, majestic, dramatic mountain. It is perfectly framed in my living room windows.  You can’t miss it.  It is a show stopper. Their first time here, people often say, “It’s almost as if you planned the house so that the mountain would sit dead-center in those windows.”  The fact is, we did.  Of course we planned it that way.  We wanted the killer view, the picture perfect view.  The kind of view that you only see in magazines.

But you see, the thing is, while some days she is out in all of her glory, other days, often days on end, she is shrouded in clouds and fog.  Other days, the only thing visible is the very top, or the sloping base.  There are days when the clouds come and go, and of course therefore, so does the mountain.  The truth of the matter is that whether we can see the mountain or not, it is always, Always, ALWAYS there.

I think there is a deeper, more subtle reason that we look out at this breathtaking peak.  It serves as a reminder, and as a great teacher of things far more important and moving than a great view.

So just what are those things?  Faith!  Purpose!

Faith~

I believe in God.  I can’t explain exactly what that means, or exactly how he or she operates in the world.  I just know that there is something far bigger than me, than humanity, than this planet at work in the world.  I find life too full of miracles, creativity, joy, pain, devastation and mystery to be able to be explained away with  reason, a big bang and eons of interactions between energy and matter.  Somehow, I believe that God is involved with us and with our world, and we are meant to be the human face, hands, heart, mind and soul of our Creator.  However, there are many days that I forget that bigger picture and get caught up in my little life.  On those days, I find it hard to put one foot in front of the other for myself, much less even think about how I might serve a greater good to the world that is within my grasp.  And so, my mountain serves to remind me of that greater presence.  When I look out and the sun is shining on the brilliant, snow covered peak, I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that that something bigger is here, there and everywhere.  But on those days when all I can see is dark, grey clouds, I have the chance to practice living with faith, by reminding myself that just because my life is socked in, that sacred presence is there just the same.

Purpose~

Each one of us adds to the world what no one else can.  Which means, we all have a purpose and a calling, and in the finding and in the following, our gifts can bring good to the world.  When my daughters were small, my purpose was clear. Those were days of clear blue skies and not a cloud in sight. My purpose… to love, nurture, guide and protect.  Everyday, not always perfectly, but always with intention, a huge part of my purpose was to help those precious girls grow up and become strong, wise women in their own rights.  As they grew and changed, so did my purpose.  And to be honest, the skies were less clear, and more often than not, the clouds rolled in, and it was hard to see very far down the road. My role too, became cloudy.  It seemed to be one of being available, but not intrusive, offering counsel but not direction, and opening my ears, and shutting my mouth.  Frankly, sometimes I did this with spectacular success, and other times I failed miserably.  Now I am at a new place.  My daughters are grown and living their lives, managing their choices and navigating their successes and failures on their own.  Not that we aren’t still connected.  We are, and I am grateful.  But is isn’t what it was, and it won’t ever be that again.  I know that.  I appreciate that.  I respect that.  In the midst of it all, I also have good work, meaningful work.  All that said, there are days that I totally and completely lose sight of my purpose.  Somehow it was so much easier to know what that was when that meant making sure that my daughters were safely strapped into their car seats, and we ended every night under the covers with a book.

These days, what often reconnects me to my purpose is the mountain.  It looms large out my window, whether I can see it or not. So does my purpose, and so does yours and yours and yours.  If my experience with the mountain offers any lessons in the matter it is this, even when you can’t see it, it is there.  My hero, Annie Lamott claims that we are all here in Earth School.  Perhaps our greatest lesson is to find our purpose.  To find the work and contribution that is ours, and ours alone to give.  And then, to offer that to the world with all of our might, and all of our mind, and all of our soul.

The mountain out my window helps me keep that in mind.

“I will lift up mine eyes unto the mountains: From whence shall my help come?”

~Psalm 121

“Climb every mountain….” Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music

written by Molly Davis

www.katevanraden.wordpress.com

(i just read in a newspaper that a woman adopted a baby – a beautiful little girl – and then a few months later, decided that she wanted to ‘return’ the child. i wrote this blog many, many, many months ago, but felt it appropriate to share it again. ken would rather i didn’t ’share’ it again, so we flipped a coin. HEADS, i won, TAIL between his legs. Welcome to Amy-land!)


It was sort of like an impulse buy. There was a two-week period when I was feeling this overwhelming need to fill a huge void in my life. I wasn’t quite sure what the void in fact was, I just knew that something – something – had to fill it. I remember that morning as if it were yesterday. Ken was reading the newspaper, drinking his hot and steamy cup of coffee, I was deciding on whether to wear the black short sleeve tee-shirt with slacks, or the white short sleeve tee-shirt with slacks. I chose the white. I walked out onto our porch, where Ken seemed so calm and peaceful and I stood there with my hands ever so firmly planted on my hips and said – or rather announced with great determination – yes, I’ve decided, I want to foster a child. Ken nodded, continued reading the Sports page and as he sipped his coffee, caught a glimpse of me over the rim of the cup. “Seriously, Ken, I want to be a mother.” This, a conversation, continuing from the night before.

Let me back track for just a moment. When Ken and I met there were two things that Ken never, ever wanted to do again: one, was get married, and two, was have a child. He had done both, and that was quite enough for him. I too felt when I first met Ken that marriage was a very iffy commitment. I mean, why? So that when you divorce, all the shit that was yours to begin with now has to get tossed into a legal heap and maybe you won’t get the CD’s and the few pieces of furniture you brought to the party to begin with. But a few months after our first date, along with the “I’m never getting married again,” lecture, we found ourselves picking out wedding rings and meeting with Unitarian ministers. We chose both within a week. Okay back to the foster children…

I had this urge, not necessarily to give birth, but to fill what felt like a unyielding emptiness. I am not, I repeat not, a nurturing kind of woman. But there was this need, this urge, this flu like symptom that didn’t seem to go away. I thought maybe instead of adopting a child, we could, for lack of better words, rent one. See if it works. I had heard both very good and very awful stories about foster care, and fostering children. I knew a couple who had brought a foster child into their home and two weeks later felt they were being tortured emotionally. I have friends who had huge success at fostering a child, ending up adopting the little girl, and another one whose child turned out to be the devil doll. But I understood that these children needed to be loved. They needed to be cared for, their place in the world was so fragile, so tentative, so scary.

And I, obviously, had an urge.

I stood there and waited for Ken to give me his blessing. “Sure, fine, you wanna do this, go check it out.” “Wanna come with me?” “Nah. I’m gonna watch football.” Ken thought, right or wrong, that it was like going to the Bide-a-wee, or the Humane Society. This isn’t something Ken cares to do, even though he is a very altruistic kind loving man. I was going to go the Children’s Aid Center and discuss the possibility of he and I becoming Foster Parents and while highly unlikely maybe come home with a happy loving child who Ken could garden with. Or at the very least, watch football with. I am such an optimistic fool.

I go to the Children’s Aid office in our very small town. I am greeted with both a lack of enthusiasm, and much paperwork. Reams and reams of paperwork. I fill out most, call Ken twice (for his social security number which I couldn’t for the life of me remember, along with some financial information) and then I’m Ied to a small empty room with a scattering of very old magazines. I for one believe any and all public spaces should keep up to date magazines. This is a cause I will champion in the future. Nothing worse than old, old news.

A young woman comes into the office. She reminds me of an Amish woman, or a Mormon, wearing a long floral schmata and a very, very bad haircut. It looked like a very, very bad helmet. She says nothing, but gestures for me to follow her. As I walk out of the room with her, I casually mention that they oughta get some up to date magazines.

As an aside, in one of our continual (I am pushy) conversations both that morning, and the night before, Ken tells me that – if in fact I actually go through with this – he would prefer a boy, if in fact there’s a choice, and a boy who can garden, weed, since it’s summertime and if in fact we are going to foster a child for two, three, four weeks than I should take into consideration that it would be great for Ken to have a weeding partner slash buddy. I, of course, would love a girl to go shopping with and go to nail salons with and someone to talk to about Ken’s – her foster father – weeding issues.

I am now led to another room where the Mormon slash Amish woman has a desk. I sit across from her and I look around the room for signs, clues of a life, her life. I see not a photo, or a calendar, or any sign of life, period. In the corner on the radiator what appears to be a dead plant. But, I convince myself, that could happen to anyone. Not everyone has a green thumb.

She pulls out what appears to be a thick binder. She slides it across the desk and motions for me to open it. I am now beginning to think that maybe she is mute, since not a word was spoken. Perhaps I should move my lips very slowly when talking to her so she can read my lips, I think, as I open the binder. There in vivid color are snapshots, photos, 8 x 10 glossies of babies, young adults, black, white, Hispanic, Asian, mentally disabled, physically challenged, older, taller, toddlers, and teenagers. Thirty, forty photos. Some take your breath away. A sparkle in the eyes, a dimple in the cheek, a turned up nose, freckles, thick curly hair, missing teeth, a lazy eye, the gorgeous skin-tone. The sadness is palpable. The joy diminished. The desperation is obvious.

Then she speaks: she tells me it’s a fairly long complicated process, could take weeks and weeks, maybe even a month or two. Yes, yes — bureaucratic bullshit paperwork – my words, not hers. She doesn’t like that I use the word bullshit, I can tell. She continues, a lot of these kids are in homes and are soon to be removed, or have to leave. I ask why. She says well it didn’t work out, there was a clash, the kids, you know, have issues. Major, major issues. The foster parents have issues. Major, major issues. Sometimes there’s no patience or tolerance. Sometimes there are altercations. But they’re getting full up and pretty soon these kids are gonna be back to square one. Her words.

I stare out the window, and think of Ken. He’s probably soaking in a tub, bubble bath and all, watching his beloved Giants, screaming at the TV set, drinking a beer, or glass of Pinot Noir, and enjoying his life completely. Not a care the world. He likes it that way.

I woke up a few days earlier wanting to have a kid, I was hormonal and lonely. Hormonal, lonely and cranky and older than the day before. Not a great combo, I want a kid!!!! Stamping my feet, I’m sure, or the equivalent. Instead of going to the Woodbury Common Outlet stores, I went to Child Services. Instead of trying on a pair of shoes, I looked through a binder of children who needed love, and a home, and a place that was safe and kind and probably, more than likely, never owned a pair of new shoes, because chances are they were all hand-me-downs. And that’s when it all came together. The words: hand-me-downs. I wasn’t making a commitment to giving them a life or a future, I was teetering on making a decision to give them a place to live for a month or two, or maybe even less. In other words, they were returnable. I felt so profoundly sad – my heart breaking. I didn’t want a child for the rest of their life, I wanted a child to take away my loneliness, my crankiness, my hormonal imbalance for a month or two. And it dawned on me in this empty lifeless office with a woman who desperately needed a good haircut and a make-over, that I was being completely and utterly selfish.

I told the Amish slash Mormon woman that I needed some time to think about all of this. I couldn’t be completely truthful with her, and tell her that I had in fact wasted her time, because that would seem even more selfish. She asked me if I wanted to bring the binder home for my husband to look at the photos. I told her, no, and she asked, “Does he like catalogues, because this is just like flipping though a catalogue.”

I stopped feeling selfish in that moment. I looked at her and said: “These kids… in this catalogue, they need love, they need care. They need shoes. They’re not pieces of clothing you pick out, thinking, well if they don’t fit, I can return them, these children on these pages in this binder were not wanted when they came into the world, they’re not returnable. You’re job is to find them a home. A loving home.”

She looked at me, her eyes already filled with sadness, fill up with tears. “I don’t like my job, it’s just I feel so empty.” she said.

We were the same woman in that moment, except I had the better haircut.

“Hey listen,” I say, “I don’t really want a kid, I want to fill a void, and I know what it’s like to feel empty. I do, but while you’re working here, at the very least, please, oh, please … when you hand the person or the couple the binder, please, tell them that the pages are filled with huge potential and an amazing opportunity to love better, love more, and if you don’t wanna do that, maybe you should quit your job and find something you love to do.”

I hit a nerve, I could tell. I hugged her good-bye, a good strong hug. I told her that she should live her life out-loud, that everyone – EVERYONE – is scared, including me, that I was very, very scared; for her to find the thing she loves to do and do it, and … although I thought it, I did not say it: please, I’m begging, go out and get a good haircut, but what I did say was please, please, get rid of the dead plant, it’s not inspiring.

And then the moment of clarity as I drove home. Absolute perfect clarity. I didn’t go there to foster a child, I went there to foster my very own spirit. To awaken to my very own life, to live more fully, to love myself better, to love better period, to stop being so selfish, and to stop thinking I have to — in this moment, right now, this very second – fill a void.

Amy Ferris:http://marryinggeorgeclooney.com/blog/

THEY say that if you pay attention, your children will teach you as much or more than you can possibly teach them. I was reminded of this last night while watching various acceptance speeches during the Oscar’s…One gentleman, fighting back tears, thanked his wife and infant daughter…”who will surely teach me more than I could ever possibility teach her.”

My children are grown. They are living independent lives of their own creation. Naturally as a parent, I had ideas of just exactly what their lives should look like. While I am anything but disappointed, their lives have turned out differently than I imagined. I realize more and more  that one of the most sacred lessons my children have taught me is to let go: let go of expectations, plans…shoulds, coulds and so many many “have too’s”.  My children have taught me that perfectionism isn’t a measure of happiness or success. They have taught me to care as much about my own needs as the needs of others. They have taught me that the stress and anxiety manifested through out my internal being isn’t a desirable trait or a cherished outcome by those I care about most. They have taught me that perfect for them doesn’t have me a wild wreck trying to get every last detail in order. They have convinced me that my stress, no matter what wonderful thing is the  justification, is never a gift for them. They would rather have a relaxed me, than a perfect scenario.

LETTING GO OF OUR ADULT CHILDREN

BY ARLENE HARDER, MA, MFT

A Perfectionist Mother Trying to Do Things Right:

“When I began motherhood, I was fairly liberal politically but fairly rigid in how I viewed my role as parent. This was partly the result of my temperament and partly the consequence of a childhood in which there were many “shoulds,” “oughts,” “rights,” and “wrongs.” Although I didn’t insist on spotless floors and neatly made beds, being a perfectionist permeated many facets of my parenting.

As a child I never questioned whether I was being asked to be perfect; my siblings were also perfectionists in one way or another. Our parents’ high standards left little room to question the reasons for their rules and values – an attitude typical for that generation. When a child was told to jump, she was expected to say, “How high?” and not, “Why?”

As a recovering perfectionist I can see why perfectionism is a common feature of the human character. After all, perfectionists give the best they have to offer. You can generally count on them to do what they say they’ll do, even if it means giving up their own needs to be sure you’re satisfied. On the other hand, I now realize that the standards of perfectionists are usually those others consider “right,” not necessarily those the perfectionist herself would choose – if she could freely follow the dictates of her own heart.”

While raising our most cherished sons and daughters, we teach them to follow their hearts. One of life’s greatest lessons we as their parents/role models/advocates need to learn, is to follow our own…

Rain Again???

February 21, 2011

“For after all, the best thing one can do when it’s raining is to let it rain.”
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Side By Side

February 11, 2011

We have all spent hours now watching Egypt and it’s politically frustrated and determined population demand change. It is obvious that the ruling government for the past 30 years has suppressed its’ people. Freedoms are withheld, fear is a ruling strategy and democracy, as foreign a concept as women in positions of power. Hey, wait a minute. If it’s time for a change, might the Egyptian people consider giving women the same rights as men as part of their new strategy?

There are hundreds of thousands of people screaming, crying and begging for change. Right out in front, with their head scarves, tears and demands are the women of Egypt. They are standing alongside men, they are risking their lives for political freedom, they are using their voices for change.

Women in the Egyptian Protests

From PRI’s The World11 February, 2011 07:31:00

Women have a long history of activism in Egypt, and the current protests against Hosni Mubarak in Tahrir Square are no different.

This story was originally covered by PRI’s The World. For more, listen to the audio above.

By Ursula Lindsey

Ruheya is a 21-year-old university student. She’s come to Tahrir Square from the northern town of Sharqeya — a hundred miles away. Thursday she’s one of the volunteers monitoring the entrance to the Square, checking identification and searching bags to make sure no one brings in weapons.

“How many billions does he have, and we the people live in huts and don’t know how to feed ourselves?” Ruheya said. “There needs to be some balance. Not people at the very top and at the very bottom. I want to see democracy in my country, and I have to sacrifice for it. I have to be ready to die, to be arrested. I can’t sit at home and say: I want freedom.”

“There are Christian girls here, there are girls with their hair uncovered,” Ruheya said. “We’re all volunteers. We’re all Egyptians, whether we’re Christians or Muslims, whether we’re religious or not, we’re all good people. We’re all sacrificing for our country.”

“Women were at the forefront of the 1919 revolution in Egypt right before Egypt got its independence, in the struggle against the British; women were prominent at the time of the French occupation as well,” Ruheya said. “So Egyptian women have been involved in protests for many, many years this isn’t something new.”

But the authoritarian governments that have governed Egypt for the last 60 years have curtailed the autonomy of women’s organizations. Just as they have tightly controlled all freedoms of assembly and expression.

Women, like most Egyptians, have been frightened away from politics. Activists here say the government-backed thugs who attack protesters have singled out women, tearing their clothes and sexually molesting them.

Women make up more than half of Egypt’s university students. They are visible in the media and on the street; many work. But women rarely get the top posts in government or business. A woman’s highest ambition is still expected to be to establish a family.

And as conservative, religious movements have gained popularity, women have been pressured to stay at home and to act “modestly.” Many Egyptian women complain of constant harassment on the street.

She said the protests have re-affirmed a spirit of freedom and solidarity that has given women new breathing room.

“During the demonstrations, I didn’t face any kind of harassment or even someone looking at me in a strange way. I stayed till very late in the street, till 3 a.m., 4 a.m., and it was totally relaxing — not only safe,” Saber said. “And the interesting thing is that all people are focusing on just one goal and all things like religion and gender and ethnicity just disappeared.”

Women have long been told, by the government and even by opposition groups here, that their rights are a priority — but that economic reforms, or security concerns, or cultural considerations must come first.

But as they’ve so fully participated in the first mass protest movement in Egypt in a generation — women here have found that they don’t need to wait for anyone’s permission to be full citizens.

If women ruled the world, how everything would change?

According to former White House press secretary Dee Dee Myers:

“Women should rule the world.”

That was it, the answer to my frustration and growing political alienation. It seemed so simple, so obvious. Women!

If we were in charge, things might actually change. Instead of posturing, we’d have cooperation. Instead of gridlock, we’d have progress. Instead of a shouting match, we’d have a conversation. A very long conversation. But a conversation nonetheless. Everyone would just hold hands and sing “Kumbaya.”

Or would they? What would it be like if women ruled the world, I began to wonder?

Would anything really change? Would the world be a better place? My hunch was that more women in public life would, in fact, make things better.

After all, more women already have.”

If Women Ruled the World, a 2 hr.PBS Documentary 1991

“Women are beginning to assert a distinctive approach and make a real difference as they expand their presence in the professions. This distinctive approach is generally defined as being more social, civil, collaborative, and inclusive, and it’s consistent with rising educational standards and the evolution of democracy and globalization toward greater pluralism, decentralization, transparency, and accountability.”

The time for change in Egypt is NOW. The time for change for oppressed women around the world is NOW. As the brave women of Egypt use their voices and risk their lives for yet another significant step in the history of women of the world, we see you. We hear you and support your right to be heard, to be safe and to be treated with equal respect. We know, as women of a democratic society that you are fighting in memory of the women who came before you and the young women who  will follow in your footsteps. Bravo. Bravo

How do you see that our world would be different if women safely walked ALONGSIDE men?

Though I still feel like I have the unrelenting hopeful spirit of a high school graduate, my 40th reunion is just around the corner. OMG! There are pictures floating thru internet space of me looking like one of Julie Andrew’s charges in Sound of Music. I think that yellow dress was actually made out of an old curtain my grandmother was throwing away.

I rarely think of high school. When I do I break out in a cold sweat. Those were certainly the most awkward years of my life…now, why would I want to revisit them in any way, shape, or form?

I was a geek. Trust me. 6’ tall, 110 lbs. in wet pegged Levi’s and 2 lbs. of hairspray. Not one boy, not one, gave me a second look. Who could blame them. I was taller than 99% of them and I had “DESPERATE” written all over me. When I saw an opportunity to trick a brand new guy, obviously lonely and awkward himself, into coming to a party at my house, I took it.  I told him that all my friends would be there and I would love to introduce him.

When he accepted my invitation, I almost died on the spot. I had never been invited to a high school party and certainly never hosted one. I went to the one BFF I had and told her what I had done. We had 2 days to accomplish a guest list and something that resembled a pre-planned gathering.

Poor Schmuck. He arrived on time and must have thought that;  A. He was at the wrong house (hence not another car in sight),  B. The party had been canceled,  or C. He had been duped. I’m pretty sure that when he walked in to find only me, my BFF and collectively our 3 younger brothers, he knew he had been shanghaied. What high school boy doesn’t come to a party in hopes of finding a keg, cheer leaders and an atmosphere of reckless abandon.

Okay, now get this. Monopoly, with half the players pre-pubescent…not exactly a testosterone fest; my mother wearing her best apron enthusiastically serving trays of warm chocolate chips cookies… looking nothing like a cheer leader; and milk for dipping  those cookies instead of a plastic cup of ‘Bud’ from a freshly tapped keg.

He stayed anyway. The ambush was successful. I had a boyfriend!


For two years he was my EVERYTHING. I couldn’t imagine a day without him. Now 40 years later, I don’t know where he is or what he is doing.  The class of ‘71 has diminished in numbers. There are those who have passed away and those who can’t be found. There are those looking for misplaced friends and soul mates, and those recalling long forgotten memories. Countless pictures are surfacing that prove 40 years is a long, long time.

So in deliberating “to reunion or not to reunion”, the attending column would definitely have more weight if I thought  no one would notice I am in-fact the same geek only now nearly 60 and an inch shorter(can we say osteoporosis); my size 4 Levi’s have been replaced by the size 14’s, or that I look somewhat like the Shar pei Puppy version of my senior picture?

One thing 40 years has taught me is that life is short and unpredictable. There are grown-up Black Tornado’s (that’s right, my mascot!), who back then, smiled at me in the hall and made my day…who included me in note passing in Social Studies and who sometimes joined my table of fellow geeks in the cafeteria. Now that I think about it there were about 500 other kids that probably felt much like I did…uncomfortable, unsure, uneasy.

We now know not one of us existed in pure form. Those were the thoughts of teen idolatry. Each of us was a mixture of thespian, geek, quarterback and cheerleader. The high school playing field has been leveled with time…we have all experienced loss, disillusionment, victories.  Some geeks are now secure, enjoying luxury. Others, for whom we predicted easy success, are still finding their way.

It turns out we are more alike than we are different. The differences are in the details. If we can remember our commonalities while revisiting familiar faces, shared memories and dreams, we may experience our high school years influenced more by the knowing of ‘what we were’ than ‘what we were not’.

Today…right now, there is something you can do to help the victims of rape, yourself and the ones you love. Please read all the way to the bottom and sign the petition that asks our government to protect the victim, not the assailant.

DID YOU KNOW:

1 out of every 6 American women has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape in her lifetime (14.8% completed rape; 2.8% attempted rape).1

17.7 million American women have been victims of attempted or completed rape.1

9 of every 10 rape victims were female in 2003.2

While about 80% of all victims are white, minorities are somewhat more likely to be attacked.

Lifetime rate of rape /attempted rape for women by race:1

  • All women: 17.6%
  • White women: 17.7%
  • Black women: 18.8%
  • Asian Pacific Islander women: 6.8%
  • American Indian/Alaskan women: 34.1%
  • Mixed race women: 24.4%

Men

About 3% of American men — or 1 in 33 — have experienced an attempted or completed rape in their lifetime.1

  • In 2003, 1 in every ten rape victims were male.2
  • 2.78 million men in the U.S. have been victims of sexual assault or rape.1

Children

15% of sexual assault and rape victims are under age 12.3

  • 29% are age 12-17.
  • 44% are under age 18.3
  • 80% are under age 30.3
  • 12-34 are the highest risk years.
  • Girls ages 16-19 are 4 times more likely than the general population to be victims of rape, attempted rape, or sexual assault.

7% of girls in grades 5-8 and 12% of girls in grades 9-12 said they had been sexually abused.4

  • 3% of boys grades 5-8 and 5% of boys in grades 9-12 said they had been sexually abused.

In 1995, local child protection service agencies identified 126,000 children who were victims of either substantiated or indicated sexual abuse.5

  • Of these, 75% were girls.
  • Nearly 30% of child victims were between the age of 4 and 7.

93% of juvenile sexual assault victims know their attacker.6

  • 34.2% of attackers were family members.
  • 58.7% were acquaintances.
  • Only 7% of the perpetrators were strangers to the victim.

Effects of Rape

Victims of sexual assault are:7

3 times more likely to suffer from depression.

6 times more likely to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder.

13 times more likely to abuse alcohol.

26 times more likely to abuse drugs.

4 times more likely to contemplate suicide.

Pregnancies Resulting from Rape

In 2004-2005, 64,080 women were raped.8 According to medical reports, the incidence of pregnancy for one-time unprotected sexual intercourse is 5%. By applying the pregnancy rate to 64,080 women, RAINN estimates that there were 3,204 pregnancies as a result of rape during that period.

This calculation does not account for the following factors which could lower the actual number of pregnancies:
  • Rape, as defined by the NCVS, is forced sexual intercourse. Forced sexual intercourse means vaginal, oral, or anal penetration by offender(s). This category includes incidents where the penetration is from a foreign object such as a bottle. Certain types of rape under this definition cannot cause pregnancy.
  • Some victims of rape may be utilizing birth control methods, such as the pill, which will prevent pregnancy.
  • Some rapists may wear condoms in an effort to avoid DNA detection.
  • Vicims of rape may not be able to become pregnant for medical or age-related reasons.
This calculation does not account for the following factors which could raise the actual number of pregnancies:
  • Medical estimates of a 5% pregnancy rate are for one-time, unprotected sexual intercourse. Some victimizations may include multiple incidents of intercourse.
  • Because of methodology, NCVS does not measure the victimization of Americans age 12 or younger. Rapes of these young people could results in pregnancies not accounted for in RAINN’s estimates.


National Sexual Assault Hotline | 1.800.656.HOPE | Free. Confidential. 24/7.

HELL YES!!!

January 20, 2011

The fear that stops you.

You know when you stumble on to a great idea? Or maybe a surge of confidence, or a step in the direction of your god given gifts…and no sooner are you filled to the brim with possibilities than a dark and damp whisper begins at the very bottom of your soul.

“Who do you think you are; you are ridiculous; everyone will laugh at you; you will never make any money; somebody better will do it and make you look foolish; what have you done to deserve something this good!”

Sound familiar?

I have these amazing human beings in my life. Some as close as a good walk; others a plane, train or automobile trip away. They have inspired me, taught me, loved me, saved me. In their presence I know I am in the company of greatness.

And yet they often struggle with their own greatness; find it hard to move, to carry on, to go forth and change the world as they know they are called to do. They give in to the dark damp voice of DOUBT.

If you believe in evil or not…does it make any sense that just when a magnificent human being is about to make a step forward that will make the world a better place, bring light, hope and encouragement to others, that “evil” says, Hell NO and perhaps uses that dark whisper to stop you in your tracks? End of hope…end of light…end of possibilities.

Time to listen to another voice…one that says…”I can be afraid and hold still, do nothing and live with this fear, or I can hear the voice for what it is and say, Hell Yes?

I choose for them and I choose for me and I choose for you…HELL YES!

http://charliephillips.net/videos/theater-3/nick-vujicic.html

THIS LINK WILL HELP YOU DO JUST THAT…