The Little Things

I was talking to a friend today about the pain I have experienced in letting go of my children over the past four years. I went from being the primary caretaker of my children to being a part time mom pretty much overnight. There was some transition but for the most part, I went from spending every day and every night with my kids to not seeing them for days at a time…not knowing where they were or what they were doing for days. It hurt me, to let go. It’s been a process, a journey and I am still working through it. My friend understood. She’s a mom. It didn’t require much explanation, really. She got it right away. I mentioned how frustrated I get when my non-mom friends give me parenting advice. I do recognize that people who don’t have children CAN actually separate themselves from the experience of actually being a parent to know what advice to give. They (the non-parent folks) are often right. But knowing what to do and actually doing it are totally different things. Feel my pain and loss and sense of isolation…the way I suddenly felt unnecessary in my children’s lives…how hard it was for me..know what that feels like and then you will know that your loving and kind advice to “accept it and stop parenting out of guilt” or “your kids are fine” and “your kids adore you, no one can take your place” while correct, is completely lost on my aching heart.

 

Why do people always try to describe things that simply cannot be understood without experiencing them? Artists, poets, writers,  and musicians dedicate their lives to trying to illustrate the feeling of falling in love, being a parent, spending a lifetime in a marriage or relationship, friendship, grief, birth, death and even divorce. All these big, giant, crazy, knock you on your knees life experiences that simply must be had to understand them. It’s the big stuff that is impossible to describe accurately, the major life events that until you have had them, you can’t really wrap your brain around them. And when you have, the people that you know who have had those experiences too become a sisterhood all on its own. Oh, your mom is dead? Yeah, sister…I get it. You are divorced, back in the work force, sharing your kids with a man you couldn’t be married to and yet must co-parent effectively with…along with his new wife? Mmmm…hmmm, yeah..sit next to me my sister and we will hold hands and know each other’s pain. Did you fall foolishly, madly, deeply in love with someone who wasn’t deserving of your love and turned out to be an asshole? Oh my, that’s a shitty life experience we share, let’s acknowledge that craptastic experience quietly and put it back where it goes, on the shelf of the things we don’t talk about because they are too dangerous. Some things you just have to do before you can really talk them with any authority. And even then, to the inexperienced your words are meaningless.

 

AH, but those of us who have been madly, deeply in love see poems like this one and it takes our breath away…it’s so right in the description.

 

[i carry your heart with me(i carry it in]

BY E. E. CUMMINGS

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in

my heart)i am never without it(anywhere

i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done

by only me is your doing,my darling)

i fear

no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want

no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)

and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant

and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows

(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud

and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows

higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)

and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)

 

Yes, ee cummings, yes, you totally get it. I carry your heart, it’s the tree of life, it’s the secret that nobody knows…

 

And this song that perfectly illustrates heartbreak:

 

 

Ne me quitte pas (click link to hear song)

 

 

Oh my sweet Jacgues I feel you. I feel you. Your pain is my pain.

 

I have been thinking about the little things lately and how much more they matter in the grand scheme of a lifetime.  The tiny little connections that I can grasp, that heal my soul, that carry me forward from one day to the next. I think we focus way too much on the big things (I do) and yet, it’s the day to day that matters most. And as I have been moving through my life lately, I have become suddenly, incredibly aware of the absolute brilliance of these little things.

 

Date night with my youngest at Main Event and playing the Ghostbusters Game (I hate games) and I am doing it, I am shooting all the ghosts with my laser gun and we are laughing.

 

A run alone in Central Park on a trip alone to New York City where time stopped for just a few moments and I realized, “this is who I am, a woman who travels alone to New York City and runs in Central Park alone, and goes to the theatre alone and is fine, happy, not lonely, not scared at all.”

 

My daughter and I, discussing adulthood and she is listening to me, hearing me, actually wanting my advice, that’s new, that’s cool and I remember to shut up long enough for her to speak and she does and she’s smart and I like her.

 

Walking, again in New York, with the sun on my face, the people all around me. I am present. I am seeing everything around me. I am not so lost in my own thoughts that I could be anywhere, I am actually seeing the world around me clearly. I am so alive. All of my nerve endings are pulsating and I see it all around me and I recognize how rarely I feel this way and it’s so good.

 

A talk with my son, my difficult son, where we simply communicate and understand each other for a few minutes. We just chat. It passes quickly but it’s there and I know it will there more often as he grows, as I grow into being this intense person’s mom.

 

Weeping in my seat while watching the Broadway musical Fun Home, she’s singing about the first woman she ever had sex with and she’s overwhelmed and she’s feeling in love and embarrassed and shy and scared and excited and she’s bursting with all the feelings and I am carried into the memory of that moment in my own life and the tears are just flowing and flowing. I almost let myself forget that beautiful moment, it drowned in shame,  I have wanted to destroy it. But I remember it all the way to my toes for the first time in three years, I remember how beautiful it was, how it felt  and I reclaim it, it is NOT tainted or ugly, that moment is MINE. And I own it again. The power of live theatre to change our hearts is miraculous.

 

So, it’s rambling, this post…the way my mind so often is. And I am fine with that. There are about three people who read this blog and this post is for those three people. I love them so much. They know who they are. One of the little things is the freedom to express when love exists, to be truly grateful.

 

Much healing has taken place in my body and my spirit lately and it’s pieced together by so many little things to create a life.

 

THE BEAUTIFUL (imperfect) LIFE I HAVE.

 

 

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Fun Home Actress Beth Morgan

Gratitude and other thoughts

I read a blog the other day that was a diatribe against the “everything happens for a reason” statements. Someone dies and people say “she is in a better place” or “God has a plan”, or “She is at peace now”. I always thought that was bullshit but the blog articulated it really well. It got me thinking.

Over the past three years I have asked myself often if walking away from my marriage was a mistake. I try to avoid that thought pattern because I did leave and there is no turning back and I like myself so much better now than I did three years ago. I am comfortable in my skin, present, content, introspective…all the things I want to be and some things I hope to be someday and haven’t quite reached yet. So it’s good, I am good. There are lots of lingering feelings of sadness and regret and loss, I am exhausted all the time from working full time, managing a household alone, raising three kids and just living life. I struggle with watching another woman raise my kids in the home I once loved. It’s hard but I am doing it and learning and growing. In return I love who I am now, how I feel about myself and what I have managed to accomplish…on my own. I have great kids, a wonderful life.

So was it worth it?

Did everything happen for a reason?

Who gives a shit? It did happen. It is. And now I am living this life. Because it happened.

I think you can’t know things until you get to those things. The path you choose leads to discoveries. Maybe the discoveries are different than the ones you may have made had you chosen an alternate path. But I don’t want to think too much about that. It’s a waste of time and energy and frankly my time and my energy are limited.

I went on an official visit to a local University last weekend with my daughter. It was a pretty amazing experience because I didn’t visit colleges when I was a graduating senior, I went to a local Junior College. So it was cool to do that as a parent with my daughter. There were many moments of complete pure presentness over that weekend, moments of “this is amazing and I know it is and I am feeling it with all my cells”. I know three years ago I struggled a lot with that type of “being present”. If I hadn’t had so much suffering over the last three years maybe I wouldn’t be able to be fully present in moments like I am now.

But am I grateful for the pain so that I could be this fully present?

Um, no. That’s dumb.

I don’t know if three years of aging and living life might have led me to exactly this type of being present had I not gone through this shitty, hard period. You just can’t know anything about your journey until you are in it.

I have always felt this way about people who give bullshit advice.

I felt it when I was getting married and people would say, “enjoy this time before you have kids, you will miss it when it’s over”.

Or when I was pregnant and people would say, “having kids is going to change everything”.

Or “enjoy them while they are young, this time is precious.” Of course I see it now. But I couldn’t see it then, knee deep in dirty diapers and desperate for three consecutive hours of sleep.

So, I guess I am saying, you just can’t know things until you reach them and you just can’t feel things until it’s your time to feel them. Life is not some scientific equation where the goal is to solve for X.

You move through life and you go where you are heading based on the choices you make and you try to be present and happy and grateful, you try to find peace and love and a little joy along the way.

I am not grateful for pain and suffering so I could be grateful for the beauty I have in my life today.

I am simply grateful for the beauty I have in my life today.

I had one of these overwhelmingly grateful moments while I was driving home from the visit last weekend; my daughter was asleep in the car next to me. She’s always sleeping. Teenagers are always sleeping.

It’s so cute. (NOT)

So I am driving. And it’s finally sunny after a weekend of constant thunderstorms. The window is down a little and a good song is playing on the radio. I look over at her, her sweet, sleeping face and I am completely overwhelmed by the love i feel for her. It’s so much, i feel tears dripping down my face.

I have always loved her. My daughter.

But the love gets bigger. I didn’t know that. I didn’t know it would get bigger as time went on.

I suspect it will keep on getting bigger, but I won’t really know that until I get there.

It’s not bigger because she hated for me a while and i thought I might have lost her forever.

It’s just sweet, pure, beautiful, wonderful love. It’s gigantic. And I am so grateful to feel it.

And i think about my mom and I realize how much she loved me. I feel that loss for a minute. I feel deeply the missing of my mom’s unconditional love, especially now that I understand how much bigger it got for her too.

But you won’t hear me trying to explain that to people, trying to get them to understand something they can’t understand until they reach that point in their journey…if they ever do.

I don’t know if everything happens for a reason. I don’t know why people spend so much time trying to make sense of things or find meaning in pain. I have definitely tried to do that too. I don’t want to do that anymore.

I don’t know what it means.

I don’t think I care.

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My daughter and I.

Feeling it

My life fell apart three years ago. Pretty much exactly three years ago. Like today may be (I can’t remember exactly) the exact anniversary of the day I went to the store and paid good money to purchase the dynamite that I would then use to bomb the fuck out of my somewhat decent life.

Analogy being used here. I didn’t actually use dynamite.

But three years ago today or sometime this week, I made choices that would change the trajectory of my life forever. It would cause ginormous pain for my children, my former spouse, and for me.

I am not quite certain how I survived it. There were days when I didn’t think I would, the depth of my sadness was so great a burden I literally could not carry it.

It sucked.

There is still some brokenness that hasn’t healed, still some pieces of myself I haven’t recovered. That’s just the way it is.

Some days I feel angry.

Most days I am ok with it all. It is. What can I do now?

At the risk of turning into a cliché, the cool part of a completely shattered, messed up, insanely ugly, horrible life experience is the absolute depth that I feel every single moment of happiness.

GOD I feel it.

Deep down inside. It’s like a wave that goes all the way through my body and ignites all of my cells on fire.

When it happens the hairs on my arms stand up. And I get little tears in my eyes. And I feel so very grateful for that moment in time. And it’s good. It’s so fucking good.

Last week, I was sitting on the porch with my girlfriend.  I was sharing some pieces of me that I don’t often share, then she returned the favor…my tough girl opened up. And then we just sat there and we held hands. And we looked at the blue sky. It was lovely. And safe. And peaceful. And that happiness was so real. it was practically something I could touch. The feeling of happiness became a living breathing organism.

I took my kids to Fiesta Texas for my son’s birthday. It was hotter than hades. I wanted to lay down and hide in a corner from the crowds instead of riding rides and walking through the pea soup like heat. And then all the groups of teens and pre-teens came together, my little band of me and the seven kids I had brought with me to the park managed to meet up at our scheduled time. Someone suggested the “lame roller coaster”, the only one my youngest child will ride. So we ran full speed to the line. While we waited we laughed and took “selfies” and fought over who was sitting with who and in what order. And I felt it again, the living, breathing organism of complete and utter peaceful, beautiful happiness. It washed over me again. And my brain took a photo of the feeling to store for future viewing.

Then running in the park with one of my favorite people in the world last Sunday. My legs were moving and my knees didn’t hurt too much (God I am getting old). My lovely running partner and I had so much to talk about that we went almost 5 miles on a ridiculously hot morning and never skipped a beat in the conversation. As I drove away she called me because there was just one more thing she wanted to tell me and I felt it again, the simple joy of peaceful happy “yes to this moment” feeling.

And then this morning, It happened again. I woke up my kids and everyone was in a good mood. We only left the house five minutes late which is a record in the summer. This summer has been filled with anxiety…me working full time and their dad having a girlfriend at home who the boys could stay with. I have struggled with my fear that they wouldn’t want to be with me because I make them get up and go to camp instead of sleeping and spending the day playing video games and swimming in the pool like they can at dad’s. We all got up and left the house. And my middle child, the one that has nearly killed me with his anger over the past three years, got out of the car and turned to me and smiled. I was saying something goofy that I say a lot this summer, “make sure you do some learnin’ today, don’t want your brain to rot out before 10th grade” and giggling. And he laughed and promised he would and then said “I love you, Mom”. It’s all still messy and he is still angry, but that “I love you” was heartfelt and sweet and light and beautiful. And the happiness washed over me again and the hair on my arms stood up, and the wetness hit my eyes and I was feeling it, all of it, all the way to my core.

So here it is. The blessing in the craptastic three years of struggle.

I feel it so much more now than I did before.

Happiness.

I can’t quite say it was worth it.

For moments of joy, bliss, peace.

I just don’t know if I could feel these moments like this, if I could really appreciate them, if I hadn’t had my life fall apart.

That’s something.

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The Dog I Killed

I was driving my kids to a weekend at the beach, my car was filled with four boys. It was pretty late on a Friday night and we were almost there. That last stretch of road is pretty dark, a two lane Texas highway without a lot of activity except the occasional condo or beach house and a lot of travelers all headed to the same place. The kids were quiet (finally) and music was playing and I was feeling good…relieved to have almost made it to my destination after a long workday, hours spent packing and a nearly three hour drive.

And there it was.

Tan.

The color of my favorite dog. My Evaleen.

I saw it maybe 1 second before the impact. But it hit, hard. And then it was gone.

My entire body reacted to it. I drove about 5 more seconds before I really understood what had happened and then I pulled over, got out of the car, looked under the car. Did I actually think it was still under the car somehow? What was I looking for?

I started to shake and cry a little. The kids pounded me with questions.

“What happened?”

“Are you ok?”

“What’s wrong?”

“Did we hit something?”

I responded, “yes, I think we hit a dog” and I really started to cry now. I got back in the car and drove back.

Is that what you do? Do you drive back and search? We hit that dog, or whatever it was (because by now my brain was talking me into believing it hadn’t been a dog, I didn’t want it to be a dog, I wanted it to be something else, something less loved and cherished, something wild or rabid) we hit that dog hard. It couldn’t have survived.

I drove back and looked. But I didn’t get out of the car. It was very late. On a very dark stretch of highway, with cars coming along fast. I looked. I saw nothing.

So I turned around again and continued on my journey.

But the heavy feeling, the “I killed a dog” feeling didn’t leave me.

I carried it along, to the condo, as we unpacked the car, as we waited for the other car to arrive and got all nine kids settled.

Yes, I take 9 kids to the beach alone. I am crazy like that. 5 of them are practically grown ups. Anyway.

So, alone…I sat on a bench outside the condo drinking my wine and thinking about that dog.

But as I sat there I realized it wasn’t just that dog I was thinking about, I was also thinking about another dog I had hit, years and years earlier. In 1988. Another Spring Break. My senior year in high school. We had travelled to Arkansas to go camping. The trip had been somewhat of a disaster. Seven teenagers camping without an adult to remind them to pack things like enough food or proper equipment. But we had a ridiculously good time. As only teens can do. We danced in the rain, we fought, we laughed, we got drunk and slept outside under the moon. We were all filthy when we hit the road that night, covered in mud and bug bites and stinking of campfire. My car was filled with four boys.

Notice the similarity here? Spring Break? Four Boys?

Weird.

That dog was black. And I was the only one awake. Again, I was the only one who saw what happened. I turned around that time too. Again, I saw nothing. I never found the dog.

As I sat there thinking about that dog, in the year 2015, I was steeped in memories of the other dog and of that trip and of that time in my life and I was back into my 17 year old body and I was feeling things and thinking about things I hadn’t thought of in years and years. I was overwhelmed with memory and thought and emotion. I was feeling the pain and the pleasure of a time in my life that had been gone for almost thirty years.

And it occurred to me, and here is the point of this blog…

Circumstances can trigger an association with something completely unrelated that bring you right back to another time, to another experience that is related but yet not related. Sometimes we realize it and sometimes we don’t.

And it occurred to be me how much conflict is caused by these associations.

Your partner says or does something that triggers something that happened previously and you react with that previous experience in mind. You respond to an innocent set of words or actions with a body of memory that have nothing to do with what’s happening in the moment.

Something completely unrelated. You respond to your partner or friend or boss or a complete stranger through the filter of another association, you punish them for something they were never a part of.

God, we do that lot.

We humans.

It makes complete sense. But I think we have to stop doing it.

I think it gets in the way of love.

I suspect that a big part of our journey in life is to stop doing that. To become aware of the present moment so clearly that old associations aren’t allowed to cloud it.

I am suddenly hyper aware of these associations since that night. I am aware of how much they infect today with yesterday.

I recognize the danger in them.

How they steal our joy.

I want every tiny bit of joy I can get.

I don’t want to give any of it away to the past anymore.

On being a mom

I tell each of my kids that they are my favorite.

They know it. It’s something we laugh about. They enjoy it. And they know I say it to the other two.

Each one of them is my favorite.

My little one is my favorite to cuddle with, to chat with, to just hang out and play legos or Rat-a-tat-cat with.

My oldest, my girl, is my favorite to go shopping with, to watch movies with, to get our nails done and to have long conversations about life and relationship dynamics and friendship and surviving high school.

And my middle child, my mirror, my intense one…who was intense to be pregnant with, was an intense little baby, an incredibly willful toddler and now is a teenager…two years ago I might have secretly admitted that he actually was my favorite. I get him, in a way I don’t get the other two. We speak the same unspoken language. Or we did. Or maybe we still do, but I don’t want to speak the language he is speaking now.

The language of truth.

The language of hate.

My mirror hates me.

He has been angry since the divorce.

As he gets bigger, so does his anger.

As he gets smarter, so does his ability to verbalize the complexity of his anger.

He doesn’t want to come to my house.

He doesn’t want to live in two houses.

He wants to stay at Dad’s.

He hates my house.

And he makes everyone else miserable when he is here. Increasingly so.

Oh the things he says to me. It’s horrifying.

Unbelievable.

Unless you are a parent, then you know. Cause this is the part of parenting you can’t comprehend until you live it. No one warns you about this part.

The way a child can break your heart, in a way no one else can. Your children are a piece of you, they live inside you. It just is that way. And when they push hard enough, they can destroy you from the inside out.

And it’s hard.

A few days ago, when I was, once again, having the “please don’t talk to me that way, it’s disrespectful and it’s not ok” conversation for the 300th time he responded with:

“I hate it here, I don’t want to be here.”

And I said, “where do you want to be?”

“At dad’s, I want to be at Dad’s.”

And for the first time in over 2 years, I said ok.

And I took him back to his dad’s.

Where he stayed. Where he is now. I guess where he’ll be. Hopefully not forever, but possibly.

The other two assure me they aren’t going anywhere. They are fractured without their brother. But they promise me they won’t follow him. I hope they won’t.

There is a line in the play August Osage County where Barbara says, “Thank God we can’t tell the future, we could never get out of bed.” I think it’s certainly true of parenting. If you knew, in advance, how deeply you would love your children and how dangerous that love can be when your children hurt you…often purposely, would you do it?

Would you be a mom?

As I write this, with a heavy heart, the answer is still yes.

Absolutely yes.

Without a doubt, yes.

And when my favorite child is ready to come back, I will be here with open arms. To continue loving him up close.

Right now, I have to love him from a distance. Because that’s what he wants from me. It’s what he needs. I know he loves me. So I will wait.

That’s what being a mom is.

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A hug from my boy.

The Dark Side of Christmas

I work for an organization that takes care of children in the “system”, foster care, juvenile probation…that system. These kids have had a difficult upbringing.

That’s putting it lightly.

What they have suffered, I choose not to imagine. Although sometimes in my job I have to describe it, I choose not to think about it and just see them as kids. Tough kids, but kids all the same.

Christmas is a rough time for them. Staff is on high alert to look for signs of extreme depression, signs of suicide or runaways. Kids miss their families at Christmas. Many of the same families that abused them, neglected them, left them feeling unloved and unvalued.

And yet they miss them. They long for them. Even though Christmas is reportedly a very dangerous time for children who live with abusers, abuse goes way up at the holidays. Stressed parents, lots of alcohol, families packed into houses together, children home from school. It’s a dangerous time for abused children.

Christmas is filled with memories, many of them painful.  But they still long for them. In spite of it all.

The world, the loving, caring, giving world wants to help.

At Christmas they want to have parties and give presents.

There are so many parties for the kids.

And it’s good and the kids love it. And the givers feel like they are doing something, some tiny thing, to heal the brokenness.

But the kids know it’s only for the month of December and the parties will stop.

The presents will stop.

And they will go back to being alone, abandoned, neglected, unwanted.

It’s sad.

Christmas doesn’t make it less or more sad.

It’s just a holiday. A date on a calendar.

But something about it feels exposing. Like we are simply trying to cure a disease by putting a band-aid on it. And it doesn’t help. The band-aid wears off. The disease remains.

Circle back now to me, Lady blogger sitting alone in her house at midnight, watching the clock, knowing the alarm is going to ring in just over 5 hours for the start of a busy workweek.

What am i doing awake?

I am sitting here, dreading Christmas. ‘

I am dreading Christmas.

Post divorce Christmas.

Three beautiful kids, who just want the old family back, the one they used to know, the one who had Christmas all together in one house. But now there are two houses, two trees, two stockings, two parents desperately wanting to make kids happy without the ability to give them what they really want.

The old life.

They are angry. They have a right to feel that way, to a certain extent, to be angry about their circumstances.

Although when I think about the kids who live within “the system” who would give anything for one stable household to live in, I get frustrated with my kids and their spoiled, ungrateful behavior.

But the pain my kids feel isn’t any less real to them. It’s valid and it matters.

I owe it to them to respect it and allow them to feel what they need to feel.

So I will.

Let them feel it.

It’s our disease, their anger and my guilt.

I will step back and try to have as lovely a Christmas as I can. I will remain cheerful and loving, with occasional glimpses of frustration…I am, after all, a regular human being.

We decorated the tree. I put up lights on the house.

I have put lots of energy into picking out a selection of fun and exciting presents for under the tree. I spent a little more than I should have but nothing obscene.

We will bake cookies on Christmas Eve, which I will likely burn cause I suck at baking.

The gingerbread man will look slightly deformed. That’s how I roll. And we will laugh about it.

But they will miss their dad and they will be slightly bitchy because of it.

I know that every year it will get better. This is the 3rd Christmas but the first year with a completely separate Christmas. It’s time.

My head knows that this is reality. And it’s real and it’s ours and it’s really not so bad. It’s good actually.

Pretty fucking great.

My head knows.

Completely.

But my heart, it’s kind of dreading Christmas.

And I wonder, how many people feel this way?

For how many other people out there is Christmas a time of fighting off the darkness?

I bet it’s a lot.

I don’t have the answers.

Only questions.

How’s that for Christmas cheer?

Pass the eggnog…

(also, does anyone really like eggnog? I think it’s weird, a really weird drink)

The point.


“Isn’t that the point of it all?” She asked, with her crystal blue eyes sparkling in the sunlight.

“What? What’s the point?” I pondered, enjoying the age old question of the meaning of life, why we are here and what we are supposed to do with this thing called life.

“to love and be loved” she responded.

“I guess so. I want to do something with my life, and I guess that something is to love well, to make the people I love feel loved.” and then we both retreated into our thoughts as people tend to do in these deep philosophical meanderings.

My thoughts turned to what does it mean to love and is love the point?

I was thinking about it because I think to simply love and be loved isn’t quite it. 
It isn’t quite the meaning or the point of life.
There was a time in my life when I thought maybe the point was just to somehow survive it, to keep moving even when it felt impossible. And that came from trying to love unsuccessfully. To love my former husband, to love a partner, to love my children. And to fail.
I think giving everything you have to love and still coming up short is the most painful thing life has to offer.
Failing at love sucks. It sucks. In all it’s forms.
Is that the point?
To love and fail. And then get back up and try to love some more?
Well that’s depressing.
HAH.
My life has taught me not to depend on anyone. I am sort of proud of that. This annoys people, because people like to be needed. There have been a few times i have depended on someone. And usually I have regretted it.  The universe once dropped a friend into my life when I was as weak as I have ever been.  She literally came out of no where. She saw through my tough exterior, saw that I was struggling, and she gave. She gave relentlessly. And I took. in spite of myself. Because I was truly desperate. I admit it, I was desperate. It’s hard for me to think of that time because I was genuinely so low, so horribly low that my guard was down. For me, my guard being down means allowing myself to need someone. She was the type of person who gave without being asked. She showed up at my house with a sandwich, because I had lost 5 pounds in a week. She showed up at my house to drive me to a place i dreaded going, just so I wouldn’t go alone. She didn’t ask me if I wanted her help, because I would have said no. I hate being dependent. I hate needing. She just gave. Until a little time had passed. And I got my head back on straight.
For her, I am eternally grateful. Her willingness to give saved me.
I think that’s the point of life:
To give and expect nothing in return.
And by giving, we receive. The more we give, the happier we are.
I think that’s it, the point. I really do.
I do non-profit for a living. I spend my days asking people to listen to the stories of the children my organization works with and to give us money, services, support, and goods so that we can serve more children and create programs to heal their brokenness. We get government support because we care for children who are in the “system” but it’s not enough, it’s not even sort of enough. So we ask the community to help us.
We ask them to give and expect nothing in return.
I am pleasantly surprised by how generous people are at the Holidays. It’s like some spark gets lit inside the human spirit at the holidays and people want more of that feeling, the giving feeling. We depend of that holiday spirit of giving because it sustains us for months afterwards.
But I also find myself asking he question, why now? Why give now?
We have to turn people away at Christmas because our kids can only have so many parties. It’s too much for them, these are seriously traumatized children and a party everyday, no matter how wonderful, is just more than they can handle.
And I wonder how I can convince people to come back and have that party in late January, or mid-March? I have actually said that to a group that wanted to do a party for the kids and I had to say no. Their response was that they really wanted to do something at Christmas.
I understand. I do.
But I genuinely believe that the point of life is to give and expect nothing in return.
I encourage humans to do that, give, all through the year, everyday, not just at Christmas.
It’s funny, the way the universe works…how it drops people into our lives at the right moment who are willing to give when we need it the most but are too full of pride to ask for help.
Or how you have a conversation about the meaning of life and then hours later, you turn the page in your book and this poem waits for you:

The Summer Day

Mary Oliver

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

I sit now, with my computer in my lap, on my porch, with my coffee, and my dogs. My children are silently sleeping inside. It’s a beautiful morning, way too warm for the last day of November. And I feel so grateful and full and content.

Today, I want to give and expect nothing in return. That’s what I want to do with this one wild and precious day.

That’s the point.

For me anyway.