October 21, 2014 § 5 Comments
There is a moment within a disagreement where communication comes unbuckled and you realize no one is driving, the wheels are broken and the horse is unbound. Words become reactionary and too often driven by factors tangentially related to the discontent we give voice. Underlying assumptions, old insecurities, irrational fears and distracted attentiveness are as problematic as tired bodies and tender emotions that clog our ears with defensive posturing and misinform our speech.
For years I clung to a utopian assumption that within a healthy relationship disagreements are polite, opinions are equal, there is no victor only validation. I craved a submissive discontent where I could avoid arguments for the sake of an emotional equilibrium. My children, similarly, burrow against disharmony. The sound of raised voices and the volley of disagreement wears against their faith in an impossible standard of love.
It is ironic then that in marriage and motherhood I have learned to wade into discontent with a headstrong indignation and stubborn persistence for forgiveness. Home is my safe place to error, to demand a voice with the same accountability I must apologize. I have become bolder, sometimes recklessly so; at times overlooking a loved one’s perspective in search of validation, missing opportunities to care for another while tending to my own emotions. Too often the idea I want so desperately to share becomes secondary to how I communicate; unbuckling the message with emotion.
I am writing today mindful of the mixed blessing and privileged burden of voice; giving thanks for the ability to disagree with love.
In our home love is messy, we error uncomfortably and with a consequence of care. Our disagreements underscore our fallibility as well as our convictions. Our apologies are greater than our words, they are a promise to love and respect one another with a wholeness that acknowledges the brokenness of imperfect individuals.
October 18, 2014 § 9 Comments
I did the thing I do not do. This morning I shared a message of advocacy in a social media forum that asks friends and acquaintances to exercise kindness and patience for children with special needs in anticipation of Halloween.
It felt natural to share and yet I was unsettled after doing so. I wonder if participating in this cycle of advocacy perpetuates a mentality of other that divides us too much by our differences rather than dwelling in a place of sameness?
I can see myself so clearly in a pattern of good intentions that sometimes undermines goals of acceptance with an emphasis on diversity. Allow me to lend a little background.
Years ago, when my son was first diagnosed with special needs, my husband and I gifted ourselves a year of privacy to process our emotions and educate ourselves before we moved into a position of public advocacy. The expectation of sharing his diagnosis was born of a responsibility to honor our son’s differences openly and honestly, removing the threat of stigma or shame.
Our vehicle for communication was a well-known national charity. This marked the only time we raised money to support a cause directly associated with our son’s needs. We gathered messages of well-wishes and generous contributions in an effort to offer our son a visual demonstration of love and support that he might feel empowered by the army of kindness that celebrated a community of ability.
We were no different before we acknowledged our son’s needs than we were after the fundraiser, in fact we were very much the same family we were before our son’s diagnosis.
That last sentence is perhaps the most important statement of advocacy I could make. Our lives, the action of living is greater than our labels, still we choose our words mindful of their ability to both empower and limit. We align ourselves with diagnoses openly while intentionally advocating privately in ways that allow our family to be greater than a singular cause.
So why the discomfort over my social media message? In identifying causes for kindness I am left wondering when kindness became a cause, something we attribute to tolerance over acceptance.
Is there a color for kindness?
October 16, 2014 § 5 Comments
More often than in my youth I find myself moving in a routine way, only to acquire an unwelcome tightness; small, inconsequential aches that slow my pace temporarily and draw my attention to uncomfortable, inconvenient limits. Each time these aches occur I find myself overwhelmed by a clarity of gratitude for my general good health with promises to better care for the body that will accompany me into old age; looking further than the present discomfort.
Similarly, I sometimes find myself caught in an unexpected unhappiness in the comfort of a relationship. Moments where I speak or act with such blindness of familiarity that I create a tenderness of insensitivity. Suddenly joy is bound by harm that restricts care in a moment of need with a crisis of selfishness. I scrape together words more mindful of their weight anxious to invite clarity and gratitude, care and consciousness to the language of love that informs compassion and commitment. Again, I look into the present more mindful of days to come.
Both aches are unseen, born of thoughtless, unexceptional gestures. I turn my body too quickly or speak without thought, creating a sudden awareness for a blind spot in my assumptions and a tenderness for care. Today I am thinking of little acts of love and patience that inform kindness in mind, body, and spirit for self and others. Days past and days to come.
October 15, 2014 § 7 Comments
This morning I woke with fragments of recent days stuck to my smile like sleep clouding my thoughts with remnants of dreams.
The profile of my children’s gaze as they watched theater performers, their brows pinched in thought.
The weight of my daughter’s cheek nestled against my shoulder as we slipped off our dress shoes and curled into a restaurant booth.
My husband and son, their shoulders bent in mischievous conspiracy as they nudged each other in restless silliness.
Red leafs peaking from beneath damp, earth colored foliage like freckles against the sidewalk.
Sparkling bubbles in a wine glass, pirouetting playfully in a tireless ballet of effervescence.
Tiny moments, so brief they could be lost in the space of a blink, clinging to my consciousness and reminding me of this.
October 9, 2014 § 4 Comments
I sometimes whisper a remembering I do not tempt with sound least I conjure ghosts I dare not wake. Trespassing thoughts that intrude upon the tender places of memory.
Like letters drafted, but never sent, I write these knowings in a language of silence. Beautiful pieces of a past scattered across the fullness of the present, pregnant with good fortune.
I wonder if our children know we are all storytellers made of love. Whispers on the wind.
October 8, 2014 § 4 Comments
This morning, paused at a familiar intersection, I noted the flashing red light of a broken stop light cautioning drivers to allow for cross traffic. The pattern of light communicated a singular message to drivers from each corner of the same place, changing the rhythm of expectation. As I replaced the car in front of me in waiting, I noted a green light abruptly challenging the current of assumptions, interrupting the slow progress of forced politeness with new permission. To my left a driver had yet to note the change and moved into harm’s way while behind me another driver impatiently advanced. Trapped between other’s confusion and my own caution, I thought of the serendipitous paths of so many strangers crossing in a perfect accident of intention each day.
I wonder, how many times have I missed the person exercising caution who needed a moment’s patience, or misjudged the anxious individual rushing across my path? How many times have I reacted to assumptions without first understanding a message of need or request for care? How many times have I moved blindly through routine, missing a change in the patterns around me?
October 4, 2014 § 2 Comments
I harbor a genuine admiration for a beautiful expression of style, an appreciative recognition of an artistically authentic statement of personality in the fabric of individual fashion. I admire other women’s ability to infuse self with eclectic articles of clothing that underscore a quieter confidence or curious expression of creativity. For some the physical becomes an extension of something intangible, an outward representation of an internal awareness.
Lately I have been struggling to piece together a wardrobe. The act itself feels almost ridiculous in its self-importance. However, the material value of the endeavor is far less significant than the personal cost of undressing old insecurities.
It is a dirty secret I carry beneath the carefully contrived and often uncomfortable efforts at dressing, the layers of unkindness for the body I live in. I hide behind threadbare t-shirts and unassuming forms that belie a hyper sensitivity with a false air of detachment. Other times I escape beneath more formally intentional ensembles that mask vulnerability with invisibility.
As my favorite jeans were recently retired for time well served and my t-shirts and sweaters have become exhausted with overuse, I am facing the self I cannot escape in the harsh light of uncertainty in unforgiving dressing room mirrors. There are no paper doll costumes to dress the secrets of old harm. The choices are too many when you are lost within your own skin.
I want to feel beautiful and strong, comfortable and self-assured; to move between activities unbound by old insecurities and informed with an elegance of confidence. It is a raw and vulnerable experience, undressing old wounds while building an image of self.