Jesus wasn’t sent here to make you comfortable and complacent. You can get your ears tickled at home. Go to church to stretch your mind and heart. If you’re in a church where your pastor won’t speak on the harsh things about humanity (or inhumanity) as well as the ones that make you feel good, tell me, who is up in there actually following Jesus then? Jesus called out ALL the nonsense! Put your grown person pants on and stop listening to the Church of Mainstream Media and Politicians who politicize pain. We’re here to expose and learn from the pain, not run from it.
Lessons From the Daisy
I have been watching this Gerbera Daisy grow for at least a couple of weeks now. I first noticed it opening up on December 26th, and today is January 16th. This probably doesn’t seem unusual, except that we are in the dead of winter. All of my Gerberas die out in the winter and most of them come back in the spring if I have some kind of cover for them, or they are covered somewhat and protected by another plant nearby. This year, I didn’t cover it at all. I just ran out of time, and then figured whatever survived this winter in the garden was icing on the cake of life!
For context, so far this particular flower has survived freezing temperatures, hail, winds above gale force, and the most ridiculous deluge of downpours for days on end. It also normally blooms a red-orange, but is showing up yellow at this time.
For context about myself, I love gardening. It is one of my very most favorite things to do. When I am in the dirt so to speak, I have some of the most profound personal discoveries and gain insight for solving all of the world’s ills. I am at home in the garden and yard, and it is a balm for my soul and mind. It turns my often-chaotic thoughts into a peace garden. It transforms my rushing river of emotions and stinky thinking into a constructive and placid pond in a meadow. I gain so much calm and peace and clarity in the fog and storms of life when I spend time in nature. So, I’ve been learning from this beauty.
We usually think of daisies as being delicate. But this one is showing us something different. This one is showing us that there is strength in what appears to be delicate, and apparently longevity as well! Below are 35 of the many thoughts that have come up as I have observed this flower for the last few weeks.
- I can weather any storm.
- I may have some tatters, and scars, and maybe even some broken or missing pieces, but I am still beautiful.
- It is somebody else’s choice whether they see me as perfect petals or tattered and torn, but means nothing about how I choose to show up.
- At first glance, I might appear to have it all together, to have it all perfected, but upon closer examination you will see truly that I have lived through a lot. And yet, I live.
- Sometimes I get stuck in conditions that are tough, but I can show up beautifully still.
- If a flower can change its color to survive a season that no one would expect it to survive, I also can shift how I show up to thrive where I am in the moment, the season.
- What is my default behavior, my unconscious automatic reaction? Do I notice the beauty or the scars first, and which do I focus on?
- Do I honor someone’s scars, especially if I don’t understand them or why they have them?
- Sometimes it is necessary to find a balance to stay true to what is good for me and still thrive where I am.
- Hold on! There is a new season just around the corner.
- Someone might pick me, but it may not be right now.
- If no one picks me right now, I can still bloom and bloom again.
- If someone does not pick me, they aren’t the one who sees my strength and beauty correctly.
- No two flowers are exactly the same, and the flowers don’t care.
- Every good bouquet or garden has other kinds of flowers and greenery to create texture, levels, and a more beautiful mix.
- I may not be someone’s favorite flower, and I may grow better in a different garden.
- There is a time to bloom, and there is a time to rest.
- Beauty can be fleeting, so plant good seeds.
- It may be surprising at how well I can do when circumstances and surroundings don’t appear optimal.
- Surprises and blessings aren’t always planned.
- Despite how, where, or what climate I was raised in, I can still thrive, be beautiful, and share joy.
- I may never know the depths of what came before someone’s growth and success, or the circumstances from where they are coming.
- How someone is dressed or appears shouldn’t determine how much respect I give them.
- Examine others under a microscope only if you can handle them lovingly.
- I am worthy regardless of where I show up, who is around, or what enyone else thinks.
- I won’t be everyone’s favorite.
- Sometimes I will need to or have to grow alone, and may even do better that way.
- Sometimes I might have to stand alone.
- If you pick off too many of my petals, you might end up with an answer you don’t like.
- Give me enough room to spread out.
- Protect me, but let me grow.
- I’m not done unfolding.
- I am a part of nature.
- Handle me with care — and this is as much a message for me as it is for you.
- I have layers, and none are the same, but they all make a whole, beautiful me.
What would you add to this list?
When I Lose Someone
I was thinking about someone dear that passed away recently. I found myself gravitating to his Facebook page, and there were many comments about how we have “lost” him. Later, I was looking at gifts for someone, and a particular item could be given as a gift of remembrance of someone special who had passed away. The reviews were typically, “When we lost our brother…,” and “When I lost my husband…,” or “My neighbor lost her dog last week…,” which really could have been confusing in another context about what really happened.
Saying “I lost ___________,” when referring to someone who died always seemed peculiar to me, though I totally get how it’s more comfortable than saying “died” or “dead.” It just seems less final than the latter. Even when we are afraid someone might perish in the future, we sometimes say, “If I lose you…,” or “The thought of losing you….” “Lost” feels less permanent, a little less real, and lands a bit softer, too.
For me “lost” always sounded in my brain like, “I disappeared my grandmother,” like an action item carried out by me, vs. descriptive about the person who is now gone and where they might have last been seen or been placed. It’s a hard one for me to say because that’s what I hear when I say it, and I know I didn’t actually misplace someone, or have anything to do with where they went. But of course I use the phrase out of respect for others’ ears and hearts.
Personally, I take little solace in someone going to Heaven and still being labeled as “lost.” If there is really a literal place that is Heaven, then they most certainly are not lost, and are definitely, literally in a better place. And if there is no literal Heaven, they’re just gone, not lost. Hopefully they are not wandering around looking for a gas station where they can ask for directions or trying to get better service to view an online map. I picture a man walking in circles, refusing to ask for directions, and ending up back on Earth in another dimension. (Welcome to my brain.)
I have to agree that when someone we love dies, it sure does feel like a loss, a void, having something ripped away without our consent. I think if I were to say it exactly how it feels for me, it would be more like, “I feel lost without ___________.” The loss is definitely more on my end rather than the person or pet who died having gone somewhere where we now can’t find them, or forgot where we last left them.
When someone dies and I say that I lost them, it sounds like there is hope that I will find them again, recover the relationship somehow at some point. Some philosophies say that I might, but even with that I am not guaranteed. What this all means to me, really-really, is that I am in fact the one who feels lost. I am the one who is now wandering through the valley of grief and uncertainty, juggling life between the facts, the must-do’s of day to day life, and calling it whatever it needs to be called in order to tolerate it and accept the void of a missing piece never to be returned to where I think it belongs, to where I want them the most.
But I Love ALL People
I often wonder if we truly came to realize how much our apathy, our overt and covert racism, homophobia, genderism (or pick an ism/phobia) hurts us on a personal level — would we finally do something about it? If we found out it was making us sick, if we felt it in our own lives, on our own bodies, in our own homes, in our own minds, would we finally be compelled to do something? Or would we still just be stuck on “right” to save face and suffer silently, or blame it on “them?” I think we put a lot of energy into saving face, and a lot of running from the truth… or even mangling it, covering it up. We think, “I’m not the one; surely it’s not me,” and even get mad when confronted.
We put a LOT of energy into this, and yet we think we remain unaffected by the covering up, the pretending, the avoidance to look at ourselves squarely and honestly. We put on a mask when we go about our daily business outside of the home, but when we return the mask is put away and we discuss all about “those people,” and we have strong opinions on people we can’t even see honestly. We pretend (or do we really believe this) that if we don’t talk about it, refuse to give it attention, that we somehow are not contributing to the racism, the homophobia, Islamic hatred, etc. We tell ourselves and others that we just won’t participate in the discussions because that would be contributing to the problem. But…
WHEN HAS IGNORING SOMETHING EVER MADE IT BETTER?
If you let it, this might set you free from the invisible box you have created for yourself and probably the children you might be influencing…. Do you know that you don’t even have to understand how or why people are who they are to just let them live, and even to love them? And here’s the REAL personal freedom…. Once you are able to embrace that, it’s no effort to embrace them just as they are. That’s where love lives, and that’s what it looks like.
We like to say that we love all people, don’t we? It sounds right, and feels good to say — even seems logical. For added theatrics or emphasis, we even wave our hand when we say it as if we’re brushing off how ridiculous it is to even have to say it out loud.
- You have a good relationship with your Black neighbor, and your kids even play together.
- But do you love Black PEOPLE?
- That Muslim woman in the next cubicle is hilarious, and you frequently lunch together.
- But do you love Muslim PEOPLE?
- The Mexican woman who babysits your children during the past four summers is a wonderful addition to your lives and with whom you entrust your children. She even teaches them Spanish!
- But do you love Mexican PEOPLE?
- You’re nice to Emily, the transgender checker at the grocery store that you look forward to seeing every week.
- But do you love transgender PEOPLE?
- Your love your cousin who is gay and you get along great with him and his husband.
- But do you love gay PEOPLE?
I’m sure you’re onto me by now, and may have already begun making excuses before you reached the end of the list or stopped reading the list altogether. Hopefully none of that’s true and you get the point. But if it is true, I hope you ask yourself why that is, and I hope you go even further and begin really thinking about this. One thing that can happen is that you will start showing up as the person you’ve been saying you are. You remember — the one that loves all people!
I get it. (I don’t, actually, but I do know something about this personally.) You’re secretly afraid of what other people in your circles might think. You don’t want to admit it, but it’s true. You’re afraid of what you will lose, and this is a driving force for so many of us that causes us sometimes to double down on the excuses, and why so many of us turn to apathy, ignoring, or defending all the “good people on both sides.” We are more afraid of how we might look, what we might lose, or even who we might have to talk to in a new way.
Freedom. That’s what you get. You get freedom from the excuses, freedom from toxic ideas and people. You get new vision, and you get to do the work of self-repair, self-reflection, and self-love instead of the arduous work of covering up, the laziness of apathy and tolerating, and the sweat-work of defending terrible people, systems and ideations. You get freedom from the pain of giving and being an assist to systems that hurt other people. You will lose some; you will. And then you will be free from people who won’t operate on a higher level of humanity.
Operating from this is also work, but it isn’t the kind that hurts us on a soul level or the level of hurting humanity. In fact, it’s actually restorative on a cellular level. And the best part of all… you will be on your way to telling the truth when you say, “I LOVE ALL PEOPLE.”
MLK and Co-creating Relationship
I know. What does MLK have to do with relationship? Pardon me while I meander today….
Today is MLK Day. People are off work. Some of us are out in community today. Some of us are out in community much of the time, while others come out this one day every year. Some of us are doing whatever it is we are doing and just glad to have a day off from work. Some of us only get into action when there is a chance to quote Dr. King in some way that serves our interests, but not necessarily the interests for which the quote was originally penned.
Anyway, this is what is on my mind today, and as usual, my thoughts meandered beyond that one point. I am usually out in community on this holiday, and many times during the year, but here I am at home recovering from COVID-19. So, I got to thinking about Dr. King, how this radical civil rights leader has been smoothed down over time — made to look more “acceptable” to the masses vs. who he really was and why he fought so hard and for which he gave his life over. I got to thinking about how some of us are in agreement with what he stood for, his actions, his thoughts. I got to thinking how that is very typical, actually, for a lot of different kinds of relationships, i.e., romantic relationships, friends, business, supervisor/subordinate, parent/children, etc.
Consciously or unconsciously we go through life creating and even undoing. Sometimes it’s on or with a purpose. We set out to create, change, or undo something. Other times we are just on autopilot or may not even be paying attention, yet we are still creating, changing, or undoing by our actions and/or participation. Some of these have ripples that carry out so far we may not even realize the motion is still in action, and long-forgotten by us. A lot of the time we don’t want to add our name to the co-creator’s list because the situation isn’t really a good one, and while we wish it were otherwise, we are a part of it still.
I believe that most of the time we are co-creating. We are in agreement by our participation, and even by inaction to reverse or change a course set upon. We participate consciously or unconsciously. As I said above, this is no different for a lot of different kinds of relationships. Supposedly there is a reaction for every action taken under the sun, which makes me wonder how much of those are done consciously or unconsciously.
I tried but couldn’t find this quote or story that someone once read to me, but it was something like this: In a romantic relationship where both people are assholes, they stay together because they each are in agreement to stay together so they can continue to be assholes. In other words, one of them started out as an asshole, and the response by the other (whether on purpose or not) was to also turn into an asshole. Therefore, they didn’t have to face the situation and the faults, it just gave each permission to continue on without recourse (or so they think). It was never talked about. (Or it could have been, but to no avail.) They just continued on being assholes, and one couldn’t call the other out for they would then be called out for their asshole behavior. One’s poor behavior was more important to them than talking about it, apologizing for it, and for sure more important than changing it. Whether it was verbalized or not, a written plan or not, or even if one or both were cognizant of it or not, what they got was something they co-created. They were in agreement, and the agreement was signed off by their actions (or inaction).
What could have been created had one of them changed course? ‘Doesn’t matter what change — any change. You can always interrupt the ripple effect by just causing a change in the ripples.
What about the mother that can’t accept that her son is gay? Now the son doesn’t come around because he doesn’t want to be ostracized or feel uncomfortable. It may be understandable why the son doesn’t come around, and maybe even necessary. Something is still co-created here. Co-creation isn’t just negative. Sometimes it’s positive, sometimes flat out necessary, but it’s still a co-creation. The parent in this staging set an energy in motion and the other responded.
Dr. King set out to co-create a movement, one that is still creating, moving and evolving to this day. Some of us are in agreement with what his intentions were, while some of us speak about it but never take on the lessons for ourselves, as if it’s meant for someone else out there somewhere. That’s still creating something (or possibly undoing), and others will fall into that and now an atmosphere of moderation or apathy is being co-created. There is an agreement — a co-creation.
Friends are friends because they are in agreement in enough ways that they can remain friends. The extent of your friendship with someone is the extent to which you are in agreement. This is universal, and it also applies to more than friendships. Again, this is seen in romantic partnerships, business, church, government, schools, etc.
Our agreements are about creating something together (good or bad), or undoing someting together. True enough that there are times when we don’t have a say in the matter, but then those aren’t the ones we are in agreement with.
How do you suppose this inter-relatedness, this agreement, is found in politics? In business? In friendships?
Whenever there is mutual participation (and even inaction is a type of participation, a type of agreement), something is created. Have it be something that’s good for you. Have it be something that is good for us.
Thanks for strolling through a maze that is my mind today.
Walking & Thinking #8
What’s in a name?
That which we call a rose by any other name would smell just as sweet.
Romeo and Juliet, William Shakespeare
So, what IS in a name?
Some people don’t like their own given name, and sometimes we don’t like someone else’s name. Sometimes we are in wonderment at how someone might have arrived at a particular name, or notice that a name has a funny ring to it, or sounds like it might be from another language than our own, etc. I remember disliking my name when I was young. I much preferred nicknames to my own given name when I was a teenager. That changed as I grew into an adult, but not necessarily for the reasons this post is about… until now.
Our family has another grandbaby on the way — our third. So it’s an exciting time! I was teasing the kids about naming the baby after me — even if it was a boy — or combining mine and mother’s names — DeboRosa. Yeah, I know how it sounds. My former husband says it sounds too much like “ambrosia,” which I still feel qualifies it for the possibility list. (I’m seriously just kidding.)
When I was out for my walk the other day, I was chuckling to myself about that conversation. Then I started thinking about our children’s names. All three boys are named after beloved family members who are not only loved, but strong in character. The lone girl’s name was chosen because it sounded pretty (and it is — almost as pretty as her). Our first granddaughter is named the same way, and our first grandson is named after his father and has a middle name with a very special meaning in Spanish. Anyway, that’s the context for this post.
As I and my thoughts meandered around the neighborhood, it occurred to me just how much I love our kids’ names, and how much they mean to me. I started thinking about the things I mentioned above about my own name, about times when I couldn’t imagine why someone would name a child “that,” or when I heard someone making fun of a name because it sounded “foreign.” I know people who have changed their names because they didn’t like them, and others because the name they were given at birth did not match their gender identity. I know some who have changed their names because they wanted a more American-sounding name. (That makes me sad for a few reasons.) I also recalled some people whose names make me personally feel a particular way — upset, angry, sad, fearful, anxious. And there are still others when I hear them, I feel joy, love, warmth, happiness. But I couldn’t recall ever hearing a parent say that they regretted giving a particular name to their child/ren.
I worked in various positions in healthcare, primarily women’s health for many years. Names were important, and spellings of those names were extremely important. I used to keep a list in my drawer of the peculiar or unusual ones. Some seemed thoughtful, but others still have me scratching my head to this day. Nonetheless, someone cared about those names enough and whatever was behind them to dole them out to a most precious gift.
How do people respond to your name? How do they feel when they hear it? How do you feel about your own name? How will you hear names after this?
When your parent/s gave you your name, it sounded like love in their soul, like music to their ears, a song etched in their heart, or a sweet memory worthy of sharing. It meant something to the person that thoughtfully gave you your name, and they heard something in it, knew someting about it no one else could hear, see, or feel quite the same.
The Thing About Suffering…
When you set out to cause suffering in another, you double your own and invite more of it. You cannot escape the suffering you put on others until you give up the practice of causing it, and give up your addiction to that savage, satiating feeling you think fixes you when you cause it.
This manufacturing of suffering is a vicious cycle for all involved. Life brings suffering at times on its own, this is a fact. But the manufacturing of it is something else. It’s abuse, for one thing, and manipulation. But more than that, it’s a whole cycle. The one inflicting the suffering circumstances (manipulator, abuser) is already suffering. What a horrid way to go through life — perpetrating hurt and pain on others. I’ve heard victims say that they don’t understand how the abuser lives such a good life, or gets away with their behavior. I can see how it appears that way, but I think this is mostly false.
Once the cycle starts, the target will find ways to avoid the circumstances and abusers will double-down on their victims, but the suffering continues to return to the manipulator and multiplies by a factor of their own and the person/s they’re hurting. One’s own suffering can’t actually be cured or satiated by inflicting more suffering. And if you’re the abuser, frankly, you give up your right to be angry at the change in people caused by your endless refusal or inability to be decent, or their willingness to go to great lengths to stay out of your line of fire. That’s part of the price you pay. So… more suffering.
A Volunteer’s Heart
This is a shout out to all of the volunteers in the world. I’m so glad to have so many of my friends in as well as outside of my church home with volunteer’s hearts. I have met THE most phenomenal, hard-working, and caring people. I have come to realize over the many years that you’re either in it for the love of what you are doing and the cause or outcome, or you probably won’t last very long. I have volunteered in many different ways my whole life, and honestly can’t imagine not doing it.
Social media being so prevalent, I have noticed on different posts some comments that suggest volunteers must not have anything better to do, or that we’re lazy (which doesn’t even make sense), that we’re wasting our time because we don’t get paid for it, or how we probably don’t even have jobs. (I see that last one especially when it is a protest for some kind of social justice issue for better or more human rights.) For what it’s worth, many — but probably most — volunteers have jobs, and still find time to make the world a better place and take care of issues that they love and are meaningful.
I have heard the aggravation or judgement in the voices of non-volunteers (or reluctant volunteers) with the amount of time that might be spent volunteering and not getting paid for work done. I am sure that every volunteer would love to get paid something if that was even a possibility, but that generally isn’t the case, nor is it the reason for volunteering.
Speaking of getting paid, volunteering is also not like being an employee either, and you cannot treat volunteers like employees — even though sometimes expected outcomes may be similar to that of an employee. The investment is quite different though. There is sometimes great joy in volunteering, sometimes even great sadness, sometimes frustration. Regardless, it is food for the soul and it’s not just the volunteer’s soul that I’m talking about. That is the payment that some can’t understand.
Volunteers often go unnoticed, unrecognized, and even under or unappreciated — not always of course, but it does happen. Volunteers will usually volunteer right through that anyway. Many volunteers are happy being unnoticed even. There is a fine line there, however. If that is the consistent or perpetual case, volunteers will start to dwindle and this is where a lead organizer or organization may wonder why they are having a hard time keeping consistent volunteers. I have even heard on occasion the volunteers themselves being blamed for the lack of volunteers. But I know this opinion is a lack of insight in most cases. Just like any other organizing or management, when you cannot seem to keep a position filled, then it is time to look within, NOT over there somewhere, and examine honestly what is going on.
If I were to give any advice at all on being a volunteer, it would be about two things.1: Don’t allow other people to steal your joy of volunteering. Some people just cannot understand it, but maybe it is just not for them to understand. Whatever you do, and for whatever reason you do it, if it is your joy to be in service, remember that no one has the right to steal your joy of it. The world needs you. Community needs you. 2: To be a volunteer does not require inordinate amounts of time. Not everyone has countless hours to offer or even the energy. You must know that even if all you have is one hour per month, or week, or anything at all that it absolutely makes a difference. So don’t be afraid or reluctant to volunteer if you can’t do it on a regular basis or if you only have a small amount of time to donate. It ALL contributes!
The last thing I want to shed a little light on is that volunteering is a form of activism. A lot of people don’t realize that. But volunteers address needs and shed light on them, they organize around them and cause and get into action.
Find your cause. Share some time. Something you care about needs you.
Walking & Thinking #7
‘Tis the season to be… whatever YOU make it. Let your heart be the biggest, brightest thing in the room!
Happy, merry all of it.