As I was waist deep in unpacking land (I just moved to a cute little apartment), I was looking forward to pulling out my coffee mugs. Why? Because I like to collect mugs that make me smile. Before I leave Goodwill, I’ll be sure to pass by the mugs to see what gems I can get for under a buck.
I’m holding one of my favorites in the pic below. Though that one, I believe, came from TJ Max. Just couldn’t help myself when I saw it!
P.S. I can cook, too. 😉
I wrote the poem below a month or two ago and stumbled upon it this past week.
I find it interesting, although not always surprising, that couples often part to never speak or communicate again (except in situations where children are involved–though in many cases, the couple might wish they could somehow never speak to each other again).
I get that relationships often end badly, and sometimes, the best option is to part without speaking or communicating, especially if the relationship was toxic or abusive. I’ve been in such situations, and I knew that unless I left, I’d continue to lose myself and was only enabling the situation. At the same time, if I’ve invested a lot of time and energy into a relationship, then in most cases, I am open to the possibility of a friendship or at least reconnecting.
Either way, when our hearts feel broken, with time, we find a way to move forward, and sometimes, that way requires physically, and often spiritually, completely separating from the individual with whom we were in a relationship. It might also mean that we need to part to come back together in the future, as for whatever reason, the timing was off.
When the “heartache” sets in–in those moments when it feels like our hearts are broken to the point that repair isn’t possible–we need to trust that the sun will shine again if we allow it to, just as we can trust that the true sun will rise and set every day without fail. We have the opportunity for growth in every relationship encounter, and, if we remain present in the moment, we will realize that life is working out exactly as it’s supposed to… and our hearts will heal.
My hope is, at that point, that we still have the courage to jump in with both feet to fully love again. xo
Hearts Will Heal
Is this it? Is this the end?
Do they depart without a friend?
In all his glory, in all his sin
She will love him till the end
In all her glory, in all her sin
Does he know who she really is?
Is there peace within their hearts?
Would they rather live this life in parts?
Was the timing off from the start?
Or was it perfect timing to fall apart?
Was it God’s design – a gift given to choose,
With a test of character and the option to lose?
Can they still win – a gift given to choose?
Will the fog clear to show love’s truth?
Will they come back together, yes or no?
Will they get tired [enough] of the same to create a new show?
Will time tell, as it usually does?
Will time heal the torn hearts of bruises and rust?
Yes, from dawn to dusk and dusk to dawn
Their hearts will heal as, together or not, they walk on.
“I think I get why you’re attracted to me. I’m not sure why you like me.” This is what a guy said to me one time when we were just getting to know each other. I remember it clearly. We were in his kitchen. I felt sadness hit my heart in that moment, as the statement confirmed that he did not see what I saw in him, and it represented how so many of us forget that we are never defined by what happens here on this physical plane. I responded in not so many words with, “I’m not typically attracted to people I don’t like. They go hand in hand for me—like and attraction.”
And then I went on.
“I see so much of myself in you,” I said.
And it was true.
I was present to every “failed” relationship, every perceived shortfall, every heart break, every loss, and every ounce of abuse suffered that he was carrying with him. He didn’t need to tell me or say a word about any of it. I felt it, and I saw it, and as I sat there, I realized that I saw so much of me in the person sitting across from me.
I saw beyond the wall of protection—and quite a wall had been built—to the depths of his being. I felt a heart that’s first instinct was to be good. I saw a strength that had and could persevere. I saw tenacity, talent, creative instincts, and the ability to keep moving. I also saw the questions and the pain and the struggle to recall or believe that any of those qualities still stood true for him.
I saw so much of me in him.
I knew I loved this person and I knew I always would. Not because of anything he’d done or not done; not because he hung the moon for me or loved me.
I loved him because I loved him.
I loved him because his vulnerability in that moment presented me with the opportunity to dig deep within myself and maybe, for the first time in my life, truly love to love. And I knew I always would. There was nothing he could do that would take away or diminish my love for him. Because I loved him because I loved him.
I saw myself in him, and I saw him in me, and if I did not love him, then that must mean that I did not love myself. And that could not be.
Am I speaking of romantic love? Maybe, in this case. Do I love unconditionally my family and friends? Yes, I do. It’s love that I do believe can heal, and where there is love, there can be compassion, and compassion is what we need so much more of in our world today. We are so much more alike than many of us even come close to comprehending. We all have our stories that are similar and relatable, they just have different players and the culprit—be it abuse, neglect, homelessness—has a different name or face. I have to believe that if we began to truly understand that we are connected and so similar, that surely we would show more compassion, for how could you not when you are awake to the idea that your neighbor is you and you are your neighbor.
We carry around all of this baggage—this junk that looks like rage, hate, fear, and self-loathing—that weighs us down and takes us away from who we truly are; and the ego loves to hang out with our baggage and bring it up so it can keep us stuck, hold us back, and move us farther away from our truth. The “junk” is present in the events of Barcelona over the past week. It’s present in our leadership, in our organizations, on the macrocosm down to the microcosm—though it’s what’s going on at the microcosm level that often creates the macrocosm.
I feel the pain in the world today. I cry tears for humanity and the insanity that is occurring.
And over the past couple of days as thoughts about love and my life have occurred to me, I’ve wondered if I’ve been in some way foolish to go to the depths that I’m willing to go for love. I’ve even wondered if romantic love would exist for me in the future. Then, I remembered that the love I feel and have felt is real and I am willing to love because I love, even if I am not loved in return, or I do not hear the words repeated back to me.
And I am clear that true love might mean that circumstances require me to step away from those I’m in relationship with—to love from a distance, if you will—so I can remain in a space to love and continue to love in the way that is supportive and right for others, including myself. To love is to let go and accept someone for who they are and where they’re at. It does not mean you have to continue an unhealthy dance with them; it does mean, though, that you might be loving them to the fullest by unselfishly removing yourself from the situation.
I want to be free to Love, not afraid of it. I get co-dependency and those tendencies, and still, they cannot be reasons to avoid allowing myself to go to a place where many dare not go because allowing ourselves to feel might mean more pain in the future. Even if it doesn’t work out, it does not mean that love wasn’t there or that I can’t still love in the midst of leaving or breaking up from any type of relationship. It’s in those moments that it’s even more important to love, for that love will support forgiveness and keep the space open for a clearer path to move forward.
I have the thought that people often feel confused by the idea that one can love another and not be loved back, or love another even if they don’t seem loveable, and I ask, why not?
Love has no conditions.
It’s been a while since I’ve posted a “Life in My 20s” post. This morning, as I was pondering what to write, I had a vision of the number 41 with a finger pointing to it. I recognized the image to be a page from a book of poems I’d written in my 20s. Surprised, I wondered what poem “41.” would be about. As I pulled out my journals, it would be the third journal I pulled out that would have poems 32 – 61 in it. I turned to where I’d scribbled “41.” and read the words I’d also scribbled.
I smiled when finished, for what I read was a reflection of thoughts I’ve been having around love and relationships as of late–a foreshadow and repetition at the same time. In stead of giving this prose much commentary, as I often do with my “Life in My 20s” series, I’m going to let it speak for itself, and let you, my dear readers, take from it what you will.
I will only share that, it is my hope that I can always practice being courageous with love and love fully and freely, even if it means I might not be loved in the same way in return. This is my hope for all of us. It’s also my hope that we can be honest when we love someone, and share with them that we do. I pray I never leave this earth in human form without those who I love knowing that I love them and appreciate them.
And if I’m ever presented with second chances, I hope I’m wise and brave enough to dance the dance when they appear.
Life in My 20s Series #8
The mind will wander
He’s looking this way
Wanting absolutely nothing
But to come out and play
The curl of her smile
As their eyes lock
She feels soft, but she’s wild
Forget the small talk
She walks to him
He walks to her
With a mischevious twinkle
She says, “Hello sir.”
Her waist is slim
His hands are strong
Let’s get down to business
They’ve waited too long
So this is it
They’re past the bad weather
And so it is destiny
They’re finally together
“if we wanna stop the bullying of our youth by our youth, we need to lead by example as adults. Let’s also raise children to have strength, courage, and compassion with a discerning voice when needed while taking the high road in difficult situations…”
I had the awesome opportunity to be a part of a podcast today hosted by Jw Myers and BJ Lewis called the “the 11% Better Life,” a Movie Brewdio podcast, which is a comedy about two individuals coaching people on how to have a “better life.” It was so much fun to play a character with the two of them, and also participate in the wrap-up podcast afterward where we were ourselves discussing current topics and how we thought the recent “11% Better Life” podcast went. In the wrap-up show, we briefly touched on bullying, which reminded me of this post that I began writing quite some time ago. On today’s show, we touched on how as adults, we lead by example, and that’s the example our children pick up on, so I thought I’d finally tidy up and share the following post that’s been collecting Internet dust for the past couple years…
I believe, as adults, we don’t realize how much we set an example that perpetuates the issue of picking, name-calling, and bullying for our children. We often fail to appreciate that what we say and do to others has an impact, no matter how big or how small–people are always watching and paying attention to us on some level, even if we (or they) don’t realize it.
I’ve often contemplated what we could do to help stop bullying among our youth, while also supporting those being bullied (please reach out and support those that you think might be in this type of situation). I’m not naive to think that it’s an issue that can be solved over night, and quite honestly, I’m not sure what the “right” answer is.
But, I do believe it would behoove us to begin taking a look at our own behaviors as adults, and take note as to how often we “bully” others–how often we put others down, judge them for their “humanness” or use derogatory terms to describe them. And to all associated with the media, please take note, as well. We have a responsibility to be of service and support our youth, not present examples that represent, condone, and reinforce the problem.
Many only think of bullying as the obvious in-your-face type of bullying, but if we consider the definition of a bully from the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, a bully is a “blustering, browbeating person; especially : one who is habitually cruel, insulting, or threatening to others who are weaker, smaller, or in some way vulnerable.” Persistent picking, name calling, and gossiping are forms of bullying, and it doesn’t matter the “level” to which someone is bullying or being bullied–it can have a long-term negative impact.
I recall a presentation from grad school a couple years back when a couple of my colleagues and I had a presentation to give in our Visual Aesthetics class; the topic was “The Girlfriend Gaze” by Alison Winch and “Reading the Slender Body” by Susan Sarona. Our discussion was largely focused on the “girlfriend gaze” coupled with how females see themselves in this media-driven culture, regardless as to what part of the world they come from. Winch states, “Women’s friendship and intimacy circles are increasingly taking on the function of mutual self-policy… Misogyny itself is being re-branded and appropriated by women for women.”
I had written about this type of behavior a few times before after witnessing females judging and treating other females poorly–in the office, classroom, on social media, etc. I see it over and over again. I’ve come to appreciate that we–as females–can be our own worst enemies. We speak of wanting equal rights and treatment, but what we fail to realize is that it must start with how we treat our fellow sisters on this journey of life–we need to be part of the solution, not the problem. This is a topic that I will explore in more detail in the future, as I think it needs and warrants attention.
But for the purposes of this post, what occurred to me as we sat and listened to another group present in class was how much this type of behavior–more specifically, how we treat each other, regardless of who, be it good or bad–is the example we’re setting and reinforcing for our children (and other adults, for that matter) over and over again. Adults criticize others so frequently, even if it’s a seemingly insignificant sneer like “look at what she’s wearing!” or staring at the anorexic-looking individual walking down the sidewalk, or shunning the bum on the street. This type of example then spills over to teenagers and children perpetuating the judgment, bullying, and making fun of those that might be perceived as “different” or fall outside of the “high standards” society encourages. Adults are essentially saying this type of behavior is OK, because they’re setting the example for it.
I never really identified with being bullied as a teenager, though the reality is, I was made fun and subjected to verbal abuse daily in middle school. It started in seventh grade when a classmate decided that he would begin calling me “Alpo” in shop class. He even had a cut out of the label from an advertisement to commemorate the moment–so this appeared to be a pre-conceived, thought-out plan to be implemented. And boy of boy did that name stick. I was a good kid–smiling, good grades, helping others when I could–so what possessed him to begin this form of harassment, I’m not sure. All I know is that it took me well into my twenties before I could even say the word “Alpo” without the memories of the humiliation I felt through those years as an awkward teenager crashing down on me.
I would be marching down the street with the middle school band, and kids from class would holler “Alpo” from the street. Or, I would hear it when I was walking to class. My stomach would be in knots every morning before school, school events, and before parades, because I was afraid I’d be embarrassed by someone shouting the name from the streets as I marched by, and yes, it happened every time. The worst was when I was in the locker room after one of our pep rallies (I really wish I’d played volleyball instead of cheered) and to my horrific surprise, the entire school began chanting it as they were waiting on the bleachers to be dismissed.
“Alpo! Alpo! Alpo!” as if they were chanting together for their favorite sports team. I was mortified and had to walk out of the locker room and run across the gym in front of them to the exit, all while pretending it didn’t bother me. I would laugh along with everyone, fighting back my tears. I would then go home every day and cry my eyes out. My mother has shared that it was one of the hardest things to witness–to see your child hurting so badly and not knowing how to take the pain away. At the time, she wanted to talk to them at the school, but I begged her not to, as I feared it would only make it worse, and a part of me didn’t want to get anyone into trouble (even then I realized taking the high road would work out the best somehow).
Every. Single. Day.
And every single day, I’d go home in tears and then cry my eyes out, releasing the humiliation, shame, and hurt that I had held back all day.
This went on through my eighth-grade year. I would be excluded from groups and called other names, like “chicken legs,” as well, but “Alpo” is the one that was frequent and consistent. Thankfully, it all stopped at the beginning of my Freshman year in high school. The guy who started it was making fun of me on the bus one day, and my brother stepped in and took up for me (thank you Ronnie!). The guy made some sneered remark about how I had to have my brother take up for me (if I recall, I finally had a few things to say myself), though finally, the name-calling stopped — almost like magic.
I could finally proceed as a typical, awkward teenager, finding her way through the maze of her high school years. I’m happy to report that high school was much better than middle school. And though looking back, or through someone else’s eyes as I tell the story, it might not seem like it was that bad, but as a child attempting to find her way in the already tough transitional period of the teenage years, it was heart-and gut-wrenching. It literally made me sick.
Being made fun of and bullied is a situation I would wish on no one, and the compassion in me prompts tears as I think of others without a voice who are going through even worse trauma than what I endured. And I had a family to go home to where I knew I was loved and cared about. I never questioned that. My mom was my rock during that time, and I don’t know how I would’ve gotten through it without her. Though, what happens to the children or teenagers who don’t have someone to go home to or someone they can turn to that will have compassion and try to understand what they’re going through? What about those children who don’t have that safe haven? I cringe at the painful truth that’s all too real for some of those children.
We also need to stop turning a blind eye to bullying in our school systems, especially when the bullying gets out of hand and we attempt to sweep it under the rug.
I have cried several tears as I write and recall stories such as this one where injustice prevails. Tears surface and spill onto my cheeks–tears for the children that are bullied and made fun of on a daily basis; tears are for those with the lack of a support system to help them deal with it; tears for a media driven society that so often promotes and represents such behavior; and also, tears for that kind, young teenager I was who hurt so much and was so frequently embarrassed, yet smiled her way through it every day until she got home.
As I mentioned before, it took my well into my twenties before I could even say the word “Alpo.” I would avoid dog food aisles as much as possible as if I were going to have to eat it or something if I even walked by it! I can laugh about it (a little) now.
We often don’t appreciate that certain events that happened to us growing up have a long lasting impact and spill over into our daily lives if we don’t do the work to move past it. It’s fascinating what the ego will have us hold on to and how deep wounds can get into our subconscious.
And I am clear that many children have suffered much worse than I did, and still, that doesn’t negate the fact that what happened to me wasn’t pleasant, as is the case for children and teens in similar situations in today’s world.
It’s also worth it to note that the guy who started the name calling later met up with me in my late twenties and apologized. He genuinely felt bad. He said to me, “You know you turned out better than OK, right?” Too funny! I did turn out quite alright, is my thought. And in truth, he was the shadow that helped ingrain strength, courage and more compassion in me on a deep level at such a young age… the silver lining, if you will. 😉
Children often don’t realize the impact of what they do, good or bad, and I don’t fault our youth for their actions, as bullies are often bullied themselves by someone, or, as I’ve shared, are following an example they’ve seen in the adults around them.
I don’t have the magic potion to stop bullying or the poor treatment towards children by children. I do believe a good start, however, is to take note at how often adults treat each other poorly and act negatively towards each other in general (without even realizing it or thinking about it at times, because it’s so sadly second nature for some). This is the example often set for our youth who in turn apply it to their own lives and how they treat each other.
Let’s throw in a bit more compassion and support instead toward each other instead, shall we?
Be kind. Always.
And this, my friends, is only the tip of the iceberg, I know.
BEAUTIFUL DUST – PART II
The colors will crest
The snow will test
The flowers will rise
The long days will arrive
Will we know when it’s our time to go,
To say goodbye to this earthly show?
To take one last bow and wave, we must
Before our current stage turns to a beautiful dust