Category Archives: Uncategorized

Who Do We Blame?

I read an article this morning on Slate, blaming the Boston Marathon bombers’ parents for their accused crime.  I read it with two minds; one that would agree that parents directly, strongly influence how their children respond to the world, and another mind that forced me to think about my own son.  

I met my son, and his mother, 14 years ago.  He was a 5 year old shock of brilliance to me; full of wonder and innocence.  We built things together, went on movie dates, read Harry Potter before bed, played soccer.  I took him skiing and went camping with him and his scout troop.  We spent countless hours at the kitchen table doing homework and school projects, and went on day trips to D.C. to explore the museums and monuments.  I encouraged him to try new things, and tried to help him not be afraid to fail.  We were the best of buddies; for a while.   Something went wrong. 

My son is now 19 years old.  He is a drug addict.  We have had many stuggles over his drug abuse; multiple arrests, failing grades, lies upon lies, an assault that left me broken, boot camp, running away, and in the end, his departure from my everyday life.  About 2 years ago, I had to give him an ultimatum; live in my house and follow my rules, or leave.  He decided that he would rather live with his other mother’s relatives in Illinois, rather than stop the drugs.  I have not seen him in  2 years.  

While reading that article this morning, I wondered if those people who know my son, blame me for his actions.  Do they blame me for his drug abuse, his crimes, his deceit and abuse?  What is it that I could have done that would absolve me of this blame?  Is blaming me just an easy way of finding an excuse for what he has done?  I don’t know.  

What I do know is that sometimes, kids break.  Sometimes, no matter how hard we try, we can’t save our children from themselves.  My son became his own person, and although guided by others, and he chose to change his perspective about what I had taught him regarding right and wrong.  Once his perspective changed, my ideas began to leak credibility, until he no longer saw the validity in my words, and he felt he knew more about this world than I did.  I taught him to stand by what he believes is best for him, only to watch him choose something that will probably destroy him.   He is in serious trouble now.  I’m sure he didn’t see himself ever in a situation where his freedom might be taken away as a result of his actions, and I can only imagine what he must feel about the broken nature of his life right now.  When he was younger, he used to tell me, “Carolyn, you have magic hands. You can fix anything.”  I wish that were the case this time.  

So, am I to blame for my son’s perspective on the world?  No.  Do I hold guilt in my heart about what he has done, and what his life has become? No.  Will I accept the blame for the decisions he has made that have hurt others? No, I will not.   Why, you ask?  Despite all of my efforts, I was not able to fix him; but I know in my heart, I did not break him. 

I leave you with this question:  When bad things happen, who do we blame; the person committing the act, or the one who raised them?  I don’t have the answer to this question for everyone; only myself.  Just keep in mind that a parent’s influence can only guide a child so far in life. At some point, the child has to own the choices they make; and acknowledge the person they have become. 


Crazy

Crazy like a fox.  You must be crazy.  She’s lost her marbles.  Plead insanity.  “One person’s craziness is another person’s reality.”~Tim Burton   Not playing with a full deck.  That is the craziest thing I’ve ever heard.  Bat-shit crazy.  Crazy in the name of love.  You have a screw loose.  Psycho.  Looney-tunes.  It implies doing the same behavior repeatedly, while expecting a different result.  Crazy days.  “Sanity and happiness are an impossible combination.”~Mark Twain   Rowing with one oar out of the water.  Off your rocker.  Lost touch with reality.  Just plain nuts.

Throughout life, we all cross paths with at least one individual we categorize as crazy.  Not the silly, do anything for attention kind of crazy, but the absolute boldest and most honest reading of the definition.  Crazy.

I met crazy face to face.  I thought I had finally rid myself of crazy, but it seems to keep popping up when I least expect it.  Now, the only course of action I have is a complete freeze-out.  No contact.  No response.  No apologies.  No emotion.  No reasoning.  No rationalizing.  No bridges.  Nothing.

It’s been a long time coming, but it’s time to shake off the crazy and move forward with my life.


Remember

Remember.  Remember  your childhood, your family, your friends.  Remember your first true loss.  Remember to call home.  Remember how you got that scar.  Remember summer and sleepovers in the back yard.  Remember important dates, and if you can’t then write them down.  Remember to send flowers.  Remember your grandmother’s window box and all the love she grew there each summer.  Remember your first dog.  Remember your manners; please, wipe your feet, thank you, yes ma’am.  Remember the milestones that have imprinted themselves on your heart; remember who was with you, who held your hand who shared your laughter.  Remember her name, her scent, the color of her eyes, the taste of her lips.   Remember to stay safe; wear your seatbelt, look both ways, hold hands.  Remember everything you can.  Remember the path you are on; try to stay true.  Remember your senses; breathe, see, listen, feel, flavor.  Remember who you are and where you come from, because there will be those who will try to make you forget.   Remember, you did not get where you are today by forgetting where you were yesterday.  Remember.

How often do we forget?  Why do we forget?

I used to think that forgetting was simply a sign of a lazy brain.  At other times, I believed that forgetting was simply the mind’s way of protecting our hearts.  Today, I’m not really clear as to why we forget, but I am beginning to believe that our thoughts run in cycles that are somehow dictated by our current priorities.  We don’t place the same level of importance on things that are not currently waving in our present picture. The daily ins and outs of life; work, family, bills, car trouble, grocery shopping; seem to start crowding out the important things we should remember.

People often say, “Don’t look back,” but I think we have to look back in order to move forward.  Sometimes the memories we allow to push forward can be painful or angry, but we still need to remember them.  Forgetting does not change the past.  Forgetting does not release us from the obligations we have to our memories; they are always there.  We are all a walking conglomeration of events, all of which have had an impact on who we are today; forgetting is like giving your mind permission to cut out and discard parts of who you are.

It isn’t always easy to review your history, but it’s necessary.  Don’t forget. Remember.  Remember everything you can.


Get Simple

 “I went broke believing, that the simple should be hard.”  ~Matt Nathanson

Sometimes life just needs to be simple.  Good coffee, cozy blanket, happy dog, a morning kiss.  Simple.

Take some time out of your busy day and simplify.  Empty your mailbox, clean out your car, don’t work late, loosen your tie.  With everything in the world working so hard at making us structure and micromanage our daily lives, it’s important to simplify from time to time.

It’s ok to stop and breath; let out a nice big sigh.  If all we are is a series of superficial engagements, we miss what’s really happening in our life.  Don’t miss it.  Get simple.


Awaken

 “Wake up!  Refuse to sleepwalk through your life any longer.  Wake up!  Open your eyes and dare to see the world in a new and different way.  Wake up!  Awaken your passion for life and awaken it in those around you.  Awaken yourself spiritually.  Find something larger than yourself to believe in.  Find a way to life yourself above the mundane.  Wake up!  Smell the coffee!  Take a long, hard look at all you’ve been missing, and decide not to miss any more.  Awaken your senses, your intuition, your desires.  Awaken the parts of yourself that have been sleeping:  the lover, the trickster, the artist, the maiden, the crone.  Wake up, and don’t go back to sleep.  Life is a dream, and to live it, you must be awake.”  ~Rachel Snyder

Wake up?  I have to be honest, I have never really felt like I was sleepwalking through my life, but I think I might have been.  I had to really give it some serious thought and reflect on the past a bit before I understood what I was doing.  It’s never intentional, ignoring the important parts of our life, but it tends to happen when we allow ‘stuff’ to get in the way.  I have accepted that I need to throw back the covers and rub the sleep out of my eyes, but that is the easy part.

I am conditioned.  That’s right, conditioned; get things done, don’t be lazy, work harder, do it now, lists and lists and more lists. I don’t blame anyone for it, I allowed myself to sink into the position of ‘worker bee’ because.  But droning through the days has taken a toll on my spirit and it was inevitable that I would break rank sooner or later.   I haven’t given myself permission to play and dream and explore for many years, and I am beginning to realize that there is more going on in my everyday existence than just a regimented schedule of responsibilities.

Life is different now, calmer.  I can explore and search and get lost in anything I choose. Sleep, write, play, read, create; I have choices now. Sometimes the training of my previous life peeks around the corner when I am needing some structure or feeling overwhelmed, and I can safely organize my day without fearing the bonds of my previous indentured servitude. I still have responsibilities and I still do things that need to be done, but the difference is I don’t HAVE to do them immediately.  A balance between need and want is possible.

Just like a kid standing in the center of a see-saw trying to figure out which side needs more weight to keep them from falling off, I have to decide which side of my life needs to hold more weight in order to keep my balance.  I’ve decided  that it’s ok to put my schedules on hold from time to time and let my spirit breathe a little.


Soften

 “Drop your shoulders and soften your stance.  Be softer with yourself, more forgiving.  Soften your approach.  Allow yourself to be vulnerable, to be interdependent, to receive as well as give.  Turn off the computer and write with a pencil, a piece of chalk, or a crayon.  Try not to be so hard on yourself.  Soften the shape of your body.  Let shoe five or ten pound come back and round out those boyish edges that are nota at all becoming.  Carry a woman’s body.  Speak a bit more softly; walk across the floor more softly.  Wear something that flows: a skirt, a blouse, a dress, a scarf.  Wrap a sarong around your middle.  Resist the urge to sound like the men at the office or the boys in the class or the guys on the team.  Give at least equal time to your softer, feminine nature, and feel its power.  The power is yours when you soften.”  ~ Rachel Snyder

I am a hard woman.  I have always considered myself hard and rigid, and I attributed it to circumstance and situation. Well, as life would have it, circumstance and situation have changed again, and I now have the opportunity to be soft.

Soft. Not a quality I have always embraced or even shared with others. Soft. Learning to calm my frustrations and let the little things stay little. Soft. Slowing down a bit and actually not caring about the time of day. Soft. Trusting that showing the softness of my soul will not cause me pain. Soft.

The shift from hard to soft is sometimes strange, but mostly it’s reassuring.  I don’t have to give up my strength; I can round off the rough edges and still be a force to reckon with when it is necessary.  Maybe showing all the things that rest in each facet of my identity isn’t really about picking and choosing what I let others see; maybe it’s about finding a balance between all of my parts.


Burn

 “Burn leaves in autumn.  Burn sage and sweet-grass to purify your room and yourself.  Burn the old pictures, the old letters, the old papers that no longer mean anything.  Burn candles everywhere, inside and out, in glass holders and old pie tins and in seashells on window sills and counters and tabletops.  Cast into the fire those feelings and attitudes that no longer serve you.  Feel them disintegrate.  Watch how the smoke curls.  Burn off anger in small doses.  Don’t wait for a meltdown.  Create the hearth that contains and focuses your inner fire.  Burn the dinner and then laugh about it.  If it’s necessary for your self-survival, yes, burn a bridge every now and then.  Just make sure you’re safely on one side or the other before you do.”  ~ Rachel Snyder

Well, what do you think?  Should one engage in the exhilarating act of pyromania in an effort to clear themselves of the past and start fresh?  Is it rational to treat parts of our past like an overgrown forest that needs the focus of a controlled burn to make room for new growth?  Have you ever burned your past?

This is my controlled burn.  I’m choosing carefully what fuel I will add to my fire.  I have rifled through the boxes and envelopes and bins and gathered up the refuse of my past.  I won’t miss it.  I won’t look for it later and wonder why I let it go.  This fire has been smouldering for  years, and my mistake was not feeding it when it started.

I won’t hang on to regret, it only weighs me down.  I won’t rely on hindsight to rationalize what has already happened, it only makes me mad.  I will NOT shoulder the burden of everyone’s reactions to my path; it’s my life.  I will let go of what once was and stop asking myself why it isn’t anymore.  The past is no place to linger.

I’m burning.  I’m piling it up and setting it ablaze.  Nothing says ‘I’m done’ like a big-assed bon fire.


Guard

 “Guard fiercely that which others want most to wrest from you. Your inner wild places and the freedom to visit them often. The gateways to your very soul, the keys to your secret garden and all that you cultivate therin. Guard against attacks of all sorts by those who covet your light and envy your brilliance. Create shields visible and invisible, and infuse them with the power to deflect invasions of your body, mind, and spirit. Guard the security of your home as if it were more valuable than the grandest place on Earth, for surely it is. Establish your personal boundaries and guard them against interlopers who would barge in against your will. Be the guardian of your own solitude and that of others, and peace shall always be yours.” ~ Rachel Snyder

Sometimes things don’t quite work out the way you had planned, and you have to make some drastic changes in your life; this is especially difficult when it involves dissolving a relationship that is toxic and damaging.  Well, having dissolved the relationship, I am now faced with guarding what it is I have chosen for my new life, and guard it I will.

Some people would say I gave up and quit on something that I should have fought harder to keep, but those people don’t know the whole story.  The details of that situation are no longer important; what is important is that I got out because I realized that I no longer guarded what was important to me.  I let everything I knew about myself get taken away without a fight.  No more.

Life can be incredibly complicated and unpredictable, but there is a way around all the chaos; guard.  Guard what you have learned about yourself, and trust it. Guard your heart from hate and fear.  Guard your sense of worth and ignore the challengers that say you are less than you truly are.  Guard your character and dismiss those who would try to create a false picture of your life.  Guard yourself from the anger of others by letting go of your own anger.  Guard all that is yours, material and emotional, and guard it with your life.

The past few years have taught me that sometimes a sense of self-preservation will lead you away from people, but it will also lead you toward those who you do not have to guard yourself against.


She Loves My Dog

You ever meet a girl and start to feel the sparks of attraction ignite, only to realize that she is not the least bit interested in one of the most important things in your life?  Sure you have, and you’ve tried to work it out and make adjustments and concessions, but you eventually realize that it was doomed from the beginning. You split up and go your separate ways….. all because she didn’t like your dog.

The problem always starts when you take a girl over to your place for the first time.  You open the door and there is the love of your life, wagging her tail and brushing up against you, so happy to see you.  Your furry companion is curious and begins to sniff your new friend, wagging all the time.  “Oh wait, who is this?  Is this your new friend mom? She smells nice.  I think I will give her a kiss.”  Then it happens; your date does what you have been worrying about all night long; the slow turn to the side get-away-from-me move. This move, perfected by those who have no interest in dogs, is a dead give-away that your night will probably end with you snuggling up to a cold nose instead of a warm body.

It’s not easy finding that special girl who will snug up your dog on the first date, or cuddle on the sofa with both of you while you watch a movie; nope, those women are few and far between.  Well guess what ladies, I found one.  I found the perfect girl. That’s right!  Not only is she smart,funny, and an amazing kisser, but she also loves my dog.  You heard me; she loves my dog. How perfect is that?!

My girl dotes on my dog Emma as though she had raised her from a pup herself.  “Do you think Emma is ok?  I don’t want her to get too hot, should I put some ice in her water?  Maybe Emma would like a special breakfast this morning.”  That’s right, she loves my dog.  She is always aware of Emma’s needs, and does everything she can to keep her happy and safe. She loves my dog.

As fate would have it, I married that sweet girl, and now she does everything she can to keep both me and Emma happy and safe.


Simple

 I am a simple girl.  No, I am not a simpleton, I just like the feeling I get when I embrace the simple side of each new day.

I am struggling with a pretty big life-altering change right now, a heartbreaking change. I am trying to hold onto the simple parts of my day that give me peace; waking up with Emma snuggled into my side, hot coffee after my morning walk, clean towels fresh out of the dryer, a cold beer once my chores are done, the sound of her voice as I drift off to sleep at the end of each day; all simple.

More and more, I am in love with simple pleasures.  So many people claim to prefer the ‘simple side of life’, but rarely do I see them truly embrace it.  I am living simple right now, and hanging onto it with both hands.  I have all I need; a roof over my head, food on my table, a job, love and laughter. Change will come regardless of what I do to hurry it along, so I’m being patient with my life.  I don’t focus on what I don’t have because I know it will come in time. Right now, I find my happiness in the true calm of what I pull into my heart each day; each moment an important one, each action intended.

If more people would accept the simplicity in life’s design, we would have less greed, less waste, more compassion, and more calm. I’m doing my part; are you doing yours?