Poem: The Give Away 


Do you search 

in the still of the night 

when memories moth-drawn 

cling to fire lit sparks

Do you lay

quietly wondering 

in faces that pass

from mirrored creations 

What has become 

of the give away gift 

turned over to fate

gone from grieving decisions 

Is she there

feeling my midnight ache

dark slice alone 

when you could have been mine

Joy Through Sacrifice


Watching an interesting TED talk today about a young Arctic surfer (yes, you heard me right, that was Arctic surfer), he said something that really struck me–not about surfing, but about sacrifice. As you can imagine, someone who surfs in frigid waters does a fair amount of sacrificing.  He does it in part to get away from the normal tropic crowds, but also to take these amazing photographs. To paraphrase very loosely he said something like: most things worth any kind of real joy usually involve some kind of sacrifice.

That gave me pause.

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I began thinking about some of the things that take sacrifice but bring joy:

  • 9 months of carrying a baby: the worrying, the weight gain, the hormone shifts, the vomiting, the swelling, the potential dangers involved…
  • being in a relationship: any kind really. It’s constant ups and downs, bargaining (with the kids, partners, co-workers, family members), tears, give/take, compromises, giving away parts of yourself at times
  • having a dream or goal: these can take huge amounts of time, money, changes in lifestyle and re-evaluating ourselves for the final outcome
  • moving somewhere new: leaving friends and family behind; leaving a career or job, doing something scary, taking a leap of faith
  • starting over (with a job/a person/or alone: leaving your comfort zone, stretching parts of yourself you may not know you had, or totally remaking yourself
  • helping others or someone else: living with less than normal, learning about other cultures (which maybe is uncomfortable), focusing less on “me”
  • giving up something completely: getting used to life “without”, feeling what it’s like when others perceive because we are now “different”
  • changing our point of view for the greater good: getting into arguments (political/family?), battling within ourselves over the old point of view, reconciling what’s right/wrong
  • coming out: about our sexual orientation, addictions, mental health, illness, abuse, political view or anything else we’ve been keeping inside for fear of judgement, shame or condemnation
  • sharing our home with animals: limiting our work day, getting up in the middle of the night, cleaning up hair, poop and vomit off the floor
  • Waiting: for anything you want, it can be excruciating at times because we are a culture of wanting everything now, having patience is like hot iron swirling in our bellies…the loss of precious time while we wait
  • standing up for what you believe when others around you don’t agree: this can be going to rallies or being a vegan, it can bring agitation or arguments from others, confrontations or simply tiresome questions
  • sharing our home with children: never having peace and quiet (or rarely); suddenly realizing you have to sacrifice so much and become a very good teacher when you hardly know yourself (or much else for that matter…)

There are so many more things…what can you add to the list? And it all comes down to mindset like anything else really. We give to get. Nothing comes easily really.  It seems like many things feel like work these days, and trying to pick out the little pieces of joy can be tough. But when you think about the sacrifices we make all adding up to something beautiful–that it’s the wrapping surrounding the gift inside, then it doesn’t feel quite so much like drudgery. 

So when you are climbing that next mountain and it feels like hell: the boots are giving you blisters, the sweating like a banshee and the mosquitoes buzzing around your head: remember that when you get to the top you will see this incredible view of the world below. Every step you took to get there was worth what lies before you as you look out. See it as you breathe the joy and try to remember that you couldn’t have experienced the splendor without a bit of pain.

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Poem: It Works This Way 


To all the Mothers out there

and to how we toil

and care

would give our

Life

for their life

and sometimes do

in child birth

in war

sometimes just 

to give them a better 

Life

If they are happy 

we are happy 

So Mother’s day can only really be 

Happy 

if all the children of the world 

were

too

Saving Me


Many years ago I did something that most think was to help someone else, but it was really to help me. It was actually not a selfless move to save a part of the world, but to save a part of me.

The journey began when I decided I wanted to adopt a baby. I am adopted as some of you may recall. It was not an easy journey, as I had criteria that made constraints that other people adopting might not have through their paths. It was my goal to stay within the US and to maintain birth order (my husband at the time and I had a 3-year-old), so when approaching an adoption agency, they showed us the ‘blue book’ of the “waiting children”–it appeared as though this might be impossible. Either we would have to take on siblings of 4 or teenagers. Neither of these situations seemed fair to my daughter.

But then the social worker mentioned foster care: the backdoor to adoption. At that time, 51% of foster children got adopted by their foster parents. It seemed like a reasonable plan to me, especially since I was a stay at home Mom anyway.

I won’t go through it all, because this is not what this post is about. Suffice to say, we became foster parents, eventually to a 2-year-old girl: mentally challenged, but high functioning, emotionally rocked by her first 2 years and HIV positive.

That toddler is now my 25-year-old daughter and she just had my first grandchild today–a little boy.

It has been a rocky road all along. My 3-year-old (now almost 28) has had a rough relationship with her, which has worsened as an adult. The birth daughter that came after her, has a distant, but OK relationship. And this daughter’s life has been one challenge after another. While her health is way better than anyone would have predicted (they figured she wouldn’t live past 9 years old), she has met with prejudice, job losses, school bullies and lots of tears.

She has been with her partner for many years, a young man who is also mentally challenged, more so than she. When she announced her pregnancy, we were all pretty upset. They are poor, with no jobs, living in abject poverty. While we help, there is only so much you can help those who often do not believe they need it.There was great concern for the welfare of a baby coming into these circumstances.

But she was determined, and her determination has always been one of her greatest (and sometimes most frustrating) attributes.
So today he was born. The doctors have taken every precaution, and so has she, that this baby be born HIV free. My daughter has tried very hard to take care of herself and many around her have been helping to get her hooked up with the proper services so there will be the best possible outcome down the road.

It is so easy to be negative, but success can’t happen unless we believe it is possible. Sometimes I think that she never thought much about her HIV and just figured she would live a normal life, so she has. And I understand her desire for baby, someone who belongs to her through genes, looks like her and comes from her. I get it when no-one else in my family may understand this–because we both have that connection, that mutual disconnect from our birth heritage.

So on this day, I will celebrate her decision and her new baby, my grand-baby. Because her adoption wasn’t about fixing her, it was to rescue a part of me.

Only Silence


Once upon a time, many, many years ago–a little girl made a make-a-wish to go to Disney. It seemed like a pretty boring wish for her Mama, but she had her heart set on it (even though Mom tried to talk her into a more interesting wish), so the whole family was escorted to the ‘magical’ (plastic) world of Disneyland.

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It was an odd trip for me (yes I was the Mama) and my other two daughters, going on a trip planned around a kid who wasn’t considered healthy. While my HIV positive daughter reveled in the attention, the rest of us noticed the “Alice In Wonderland” qualities of everything encountered. Sort of like a bad drug trip….

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But she wouldn’t hear of doing anything different. It was Mickey or nothing! So there I was: trapped in the surreal world of Americana, with no vegetarian food in sight and our nights spent in a ‘special’ place designed for all the make-a-wish kids. It was like being in the ward of pediatric hospital gone carnival. Spooky to say the least. My oldest daughter hated it. Well, so did I…

Today, that daughter is alive and well and 25 years old. Her disease is under control. HIV is more like diabetes now a days really. It’s quite amazing. No real cure, but manageable.

Unfortunately, she still refuses to listen to me–like most kids of course, but for her, this can be a slippery slope. She’s pregnant and it’s not a great situation. Her life is no Disneyland. She did not find Prince Charming and she lives more like Cinderella still. It’s a very sad, and often scary situation.

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She called today to say she had a car accident. Her fault, rear ending the person in front because of something careless on her part. I’ve been trying to coach her about straightening her life out to get ready for this new addition. But I’m more like the Cruella Deville than Mom…I get nowhere. So now she has no car along with the rest of her sad life.

Some things never change really….They do what they want when they are 5 or 25 but the choices they make at 25 can be much more damaging. Because now they are making choices for someone else.What if that baby was already in the car? Or what if she hit a child instead of another car? I get no replies when I ask these questions….

Only silence…..

Stones

The Next Move


Decisions, decisions. Argh. It’s been 10 months since my move and that I’ve lived here. Yikes, time flies when you’re having fun, and even if you’re not. So as many of you know I’ve been struggling a bit with work, social life, the area etc. Even my apartment and the crazy landlady has been difficult.

And in my lease there was a clause where I had to let her know 60 days before the lease is up if I was staying on or going. That means I have to let her know within very short order if I’m moving….again. Ugh.

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With everything I’ve felt since I’ve been here, this has given me a pit in my stomach. Yes, work is a tiny bit better, but it’s certainly not heaven. I’ll never feel that I love the area, but it’s tolerable. And I definitely decided that my landlady’s constant harassment is more than I can stand.

So the decision was: do I just move away completely or just to a different apartment? There are ups and downs with both choices. Family and friends are the main pull for maybe moving back where I used to be, especially now that one daughter is having a baby. But I came here to be closer to my Mom and try on a new set of wings, and one year doesn’t seem like much of chance to give it a go.

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After talking with friends, sleeping on it, thinking hard I think I’ve made my decision. I need to move for sure because this place is isolating and too far from work. I’m thinking that maybe if I move closer and to a place where I can socialize more with folks from my job and neighbors, then maybe I won’t feel so down all the time.

This might help my whole outlook. Well, I hope so. The lack of friends is tough…even just one! I mean people are nice at work, but on weekends, there is nothing but crickets.

This is the plan anyway… Hey, this year, like most–sped by like the speed of light. If next September rolls by and I’m still feeling like it isn’t happening, then I cut my losses and figure out the next move.

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Choices


How does one tip toe around their disapproval of someone’s choice in something they feel is unwise, or even potentially harmful–especially if it’s someone they love? It is so easy to come crashing into this person with all your advice, or even anger when wisdom may have shown you that the other person’s decision to do something most likely will have a negative outcome.

It could be because you know this person, and have for years: maybe it’s a family member and you’ve seen them make unwise choices in the past. Or you know that they are mentally, financially, intellectually or physically challenged, so the thing they want so much may end up hurting them more than helping them.

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But in trying to help and guide them, in the end, only ends up making them angry and defensive. It can be such a fine line one walks in trying to help within one’s disapproval. And I’m not sure I do such a good job…at least not at first.

As a Mother, I certainly come up against this all the time. Most certainly with my middle daughter, who is developmentally and health challenged besides. It has been an ongoing challenge for me to try to help her with major life choices the older she gets. She is stubborn and strong willed, not necessarily a bad thing, but she also can have a hard time asking for help. And sadly this is something we all need at times–and certainly something that would benefit her.

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Because of her fierce determination to ‘go it alone’, she gets herself (with her challenged boyfriend) into some spots that aren’t great, and then we end up bailing her out anyway. But now they have made a huge ‘decision’ that really scares all of the family and I feel they have no idea of the consequences.

When you have two people that have a hard time thinking past today, it makes it tough to plan…to plan for the life of someone else. And as we all know, being a parent is a life long job.

So I am trying very hard to wrap myself around how to best tell her about the realities of Motherhood, without making her defensive or frightening her either. It’s not all about pink dresses and pigtails–sometimes it’s about crying, illness, money and kids not listening to anything you say (even when they are grown).

And it’s also about being a Mother and loving that kid no matter what, even when she’s maybe not making the right choice.

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Poem: Womb


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Can I crawl into your womb
Back home
Swimming silently upstream
Starting over
Quietly this time
Maybe as someone else

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Or float around
In the darkness
Getting my bearing
Womb cave cover
That sweet swollen capsule
Rocketing to moons

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Until I land
With a thud
On the place called Earth
Now dirt and mud
Dry brittle dust
It’s all sucked away
And there on the ground
All red and brown
I just lay down