‘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.
‘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.
It’s just the way I grew up, and I thought everybody had this, and I still think everybody should. Be good to your people. It’s just a thought for the holidays.
Happy all of it from my home to yours.
We often stop to think, contemplate, plan about and for our child’s future. But do we do the same for the future of others from the standpoint of how our children will affect them, affect the rest of the world? If not, why not?
I remember being bullied as a kid by a jerk down the street for years — he was such a mean kid, by “mean girls” in my neighborhood, and by some in school who just didn’t like the way I looked or who my friends were. I struggle to believe that their parents didn’t know how mean and even abusive some were, and I often wonder how some of them are now as adults. In the workplace I would imagine which employees and managers had been bullied as kids or were the bullies. We see and hear about abusive relationships with spouses, with children, even with elderly parents. I can recall even a few teachers that definitely were. Can you imagine — the people responsible for educating our children? We don’t like to talk about it. We don’t like to ask about it or get involved. Sometimes we even shame the victim (another abuse). We even deny it when we’re the one with the personality problem (so it continues). We don’t want to admit when it’s an issue in our families or how we might be affected by it. So, when does it STOP? Where does it END? No type of abuse is acceptable, or so we like to say. Verbal, sexual, physical, and even schoolyard bullying — all types are VIOLENCE.
When does one finally look at it honestly and squarely and say, “THIS ENDS WITH ME RIGHT NOW?” We don’t have to be the abuser, necessarily, to change it and turn it around. You know how some of us like to pretend that there’s nothing wrong in our family dynamics. We might have responsibility because we know it’s happening. Yes, if we know, we are responsible. And if you are the abuser — how miserable you must be stuck in that way. Don’t you want more for yourself, for your kids, for others that you affect?
The saying goes, “Hurt people hurt people.” I prefer, “Miserable people make other miserable people who turn around and make other people miserable.”
I was remembering a suggestion someone made, tongue-in-cheek, about how politicians should wear suits or jackets like professional auto racers wear. You know the ones that have patches and graphics all over them showing who their sponsors are? I wish we would do that. It will never happen though. They don’t really want us to easily identify, or in some cases ever identify who donates to their campaigns because then we would really see what is behind their masks and who they really serve. But then that had me thinking a little further — about all of us. What if there were specific characteristics that showed the world who we are, what we are like as soon as anyone laid eyes on us — characteristics that couldn’t be changed? We already have issues with making assumptions based on skin, national origin, sex, etc. But what if naturally blue hair meant you hit your wife? What if checkered grey and green skin meant you were a cheater? What if lavender lips meant you were chronically mean? What if hair that grew straight up front, but tight and curly in the back showed that someone was a narcissist? Or what if whatever clothes we put on for the day and our bodies just instantly became tagged with these clues? What would that be like? Would that cause us to be kinder, to be quicker to care about how our actions affected others? The possibilities are endless… but I’ll bet a lot of us are glad this is just a daydream from a walk.
Naomi Osaka and Simone Biles have made me look harder at what grace really means lately, or at least what it can look like. Each has pulled out of major athletic events recently to tend to their own mental health and safety, and they have been widely publicized and scrutinized. Each was dragged on social, print, television, and radio media. But even more importantly, each was revered, lauded and applauded, and supported by so many more, and even defended on those platforms. Perhaps you are one of the people coming to stand with and behind Osaka’s and Biles’ decisions to back out of competition – or you had negative feelings when Osaka did it, but after hearing favorable commentary on what she did, you came around to a new way of thinking when Biles made a similar choice. I have no argument with those reactions whatsoever. In fact, I feel like that is progress that so many of us are showing that kind of love and support – grace, if you will. That is the loving response, and certainly the God-centered one. We should remember that their bodies and minds are sacred temples unto themselves, and do not belong to anyone other.
St. Augustine said, “What is grace? I know until you ask me; when you ask me, I do not know.” As spiritual beings we know grace to be favor or even sincere kindness and allowance from our God-source that we grant. It is not something only God can grant. Because we have the source within, it is a choice we can make. It is at once an understanding, while we may not yet totally understand. It is a conscious choice and action that begins within rather than from factors without. Was St. Augustine correct in his assessment of grace? It is my opinion that he was, in that we sometimes forget that we have choice over this and forget from where grace begins. Romans 3:24 talks about the grace of God being given freely. Therefore, it is not a stretch to understand that it is also ours to give. We are creative expressions of the Oneness within… so let us examine where we fall short when we just forget.
These young women’s very public and personal situations bring forward important questions for us personally. First, are you showing grace to the people in your life – your spouse, neighbor, parent, child (young or grown), best friend, student, employee or subordinate, etc. – are you also giving them the same allowances, favor, and grace as you have given the famous and very public Osaka and Biles? ‘Just something to think about. Everyone has problems, difficulties, struggles. No one is immune. It might be financial disparities, physical or mental health issues, relationship struggles… there is a myriad of possibilities here. If their response does not align with what we think, or they are taking too long (in our opinions) to resolve it, or we are tired of hearing about it, what then is our response? Grace does not have to look like agreement or even complete understanding, but it will always look like support and the space for that person to be where they are while being covered in our love.
Finally, and extremely important, are you also standing up for yourself? Are you giving your own sacred self the same grace that you are giving these very gifted athletes and others in your life? We often see a bit of our own humanity in others when they go through some ordeal publicly, or when someone we love is in the middle of maneuvering complex decisions. Yet, there are times when we assign more importance to someone else’s plight. There are times when it feels easier to publicly give someone outside of us grace and then walk back into our own lives and drop that mantle outside our own front door. We may not even realize we do that. Self-deprecating actions can be unconscious and habitual. Remember that you are deserving of no less grace than our Wayshower and brother, Jesus the Christ, exampled for us and that which is a constant from God.
Let us fine-tune the way we think of grace. Grace is not an award to grant. It is the truth, the reminder, and the acceptance that we are one with God, and one with each other. We are each but one part of the whole. It is an active admission that we are connected and different (not separate) at the same time – interconnected – and that not one of us deserves less or more of anything. If we can find it within ourselves to grant it when public or celebrity calls are made for it, we need only to reach nearer and harder and put it into practice for ourselves and those in our circles (1Peter 4:8). Imagine the world that will show up out of that.
That’s truth. That’s love. We are LOVE I AM.
First published as a contributor on www.LoveIAm4us.org
#olympics #NaomiOsaka #SimoneBiles #grace #love #truth #athletes #MentalHealth #health
Today, I am going to get personal. I often talk about things “out there,” or I am ambiguous on purpose because what I’m writing about can have more than one meaning. I usually want the reader to find the one that resonates with them. So I’m going to do something in this post that I don’t frequently do — get personal.
The hubs and I have one of our best friends coming to visit for a quick overnight stay. We haven’t seen her in two years, where we normally would see her and her family three to four times a year. She and her husband moved out of the state a couple years ago and, thanks to COVID-19, we haven’t had the chance to see them or their kids. She’s “home” for a spell and is making the two hour+ drive to see us. Because of this, there has been an amount of “getting ready” happening in our home.
Something about tidying up and rushing around the house reminds me of my father. He was a tyrant. He was fastidious, to say the kindest and the least, about everything, and definitely about the inside as well as the outside of the home. The majority of my chores were outside for some reason (no clue why). It’s probably no shock that I’m way better at taking care of the outside of the house than I am the inside. But there’s more to it than that. I actually get sort of frozen-in-place when a project inside is a giant one, or when someone decides they want to rush me around. Nothing was ever good enough for him, and he never cared how hard you tried.
So, back to our friend that’s coming over. I got up this morning with a migraine and tallied up the things that I felt needed to be done before her arrival this evening. There weren’t many, and even those were pretty simple things. I had already washed sheets, dusted and cleaned the bedroom, and made the bed. I dusted the living and dining rooms a couple days ago. But there are dog nose-prints on the front window and mulberries squished on the floor from dogs that run around the backyard and then track them inside. The mulberries are a several-times-a-day project until the tree stops dropping them. Well, shoot, my vitamins are out on the counter in the kitchen and the kitchen rugs could use another wash. Some of the placemats on the dining table don’t match. Recyclable trash needs to be emptied, and there’s a stack of mail on the dining room table. My desk – well my desk has always had a life of its own! Laundry is in the dryer, so that means it probably won’t get folded and put away before she gets here. I sort of sat there with my cup of coffee in a trance, frozen-ish, headachy.
By the time I finished my cup of coffee and cottage cheese with blueberries, I was over it — not over our friend’s visit, but over being overly-concerned about what there was to do. First of all, we love her and she loves us, and I know for a fact that she is not going to come into my home and begin examining everything, and I already know she has no expectation of walking into a showroom model home. Secondly, I’m not going to have friends who are that judgy anyway. (If you are, I might just hand you some spray and paper towels and invite you to clean the dog nose-marks yourself.)
I realize that my first reaction this morning was really coming from someone/somewhere else, and not from me. I just happened to let it in. It was coming from people who have been in my life who really need to do as much heart work as they do in other areas of their lives. My heart is full of love for our friend, and I know it’s returned. My home is clean, comfortable, and welcoming. Save my desk and a set of shelves in my bedroom, my home is orderly. You can open my cupboards and look under the rugs and furniture.
I know some people who insist on a spotless home who are actually not great at being good humans, or whose lives are in complete disarray. (That’s not to say that everyone who has a spotless home IS a terrible human, so don’t email me.) But it occurred to me today that we can work so hard at looking good, appearing competent, acting organized, etc., but forget or refuse to give as much attention to becoming the person our exteriors claim we are. We may have a clean home, pressed clothes, a nice physique… but a messy heart. Take for example the person whose home looks clean and tidy when you walk in, but you better not open a drawer or a cupboard because the mess was never really cleaned, it was just stuffed away out of sight. A funny thing about that process is that even we forget sometimes that the stuff is in there or forget where we even put something!
I’m not at all saying that someone cannot master both home and heart. What I am saying is this: Be kind and loving to your people, especially if you’re raising children. Our children grow up to be other versions of us, or worse, versions of the mess we stuff away in cupboards or sweep under the rug, and you never know how that’s going to come out. For me, it comes out as anxiety, a kind of frozen, soft-serve mess. For others it might come out like a spotless home, but a frozen heart, and for still others it might look like abuse. We raise these little people sometimes without remembering that other people have to deal with them after they leave our care or we leave this world. If you’re going to leave a mess behind, let it be the dog nose-print on the window kind, or the home overflowing with fun kind — not a person, or not the mean-spirited, heartless, not enough, or anxiety-in-skin kind that hides away or projects onto others. Your spotless home might be something to be proud of, but don’t make it meaningless in the grand scheme of it all, or a miserable place to be for those with whom you share it.
Appearances are just that – something to see; but a kind and giving heart is something to behold and cherish.
I wish there would have been some kind of universal understanding from teachers and education systems like the mother in the story below when I was a kid in school. I’m still that kid in an adult body, really. (Just ask anyone who has had to be on Zoom calls with me this past year or so during this pandemic!) Thankfully, my mother had a great understanding of who I was. The story reminds me so much of two of my kids, Nate and Ben (for different reasons). They’re grown now, by the way. Nate was exactly this kid, and Ben was not a cookie cutout for learning well inside of the normal school box. Their other younger brother and sister, Josh and Jaz, special, glorious, beautiful, and geniuses in their own ways, operated differently and more easily inside the common structures of our school systems.
I should point out here that these are the observations of a mother, not their own observations or anyone else’s – just from a mama who wished for a world where her children could “just” belong in their completeness, perfection, and just absolute delicious individuality. I’ll never stop wishing and working to have that for them, my grandchildren… for ALL of us.
Nate was literally always looking around, as was mentioned very often by his teachers, “daydreaming,” they said. They didn’t understand that he was doing his best to problem-solve things at home and the woes of the entire world. They didn’t understand or see him trying to grow strong and broad shoulders, and the pressures he felt to do so.
They didn’t see what his individual genius was, and some still don’t.
They didn’t see that he was the one playing with the kids no one else wanted to play with because they were different in some way, always caring about them, protecting and defending them. We had our fair share of appointments in the school office because he chose to defend the kids that were getting picked on, and it mostly left him wondering why that was a problem and why no one was doing that for him at school, too. (Y’all know his mama was in that office though!)
He was (is) always aware of his surroundings, oftentimes with more attention paid to that than what was sometimes in front of his nose. I guess it’s no surprise that he became a firefighter and paramedic. His observing is oft times greatly mistaken for being unaware, not listening, not caring, not trying hard enough. It’s such a hugely inaccurate conclusion. I guess that must be the easiest conclusion to make. 🤷🏻♀️❓ (Do better here, folks.) Trust me, he knows more than he lets on and more than you think. He always has.
His empathy runs as deep as his feelings. If he’s quiet, he is learning and observing, or he just doesn’t trust you or your judgment and might even think you’re full of shit – and he’s right – a lot. He has always had a deep well of forgiveness that is long-standing that even I at times have a hard time comprehending. This is another misunderstood piece about him that people sometimes mistake for weakness — another ridiculous societal “norm.”
Ben would look around, trying to find the deeper information, thinking about the next thing. It would annoy some of his teachers, so I had to let them know sometimes that he was two steps ahead of them already and had lost interest, and on several occasions that they weren’t challenging him enough, giving him the space to expand his mind in the way that he needed to, and that it was they who should try harder to keep up with him.
They didn’t see what his individual genius was, and some still don’t.
There came a point when his father, grandparents and I finally realized that the boxed-in culture of most schooling and the organizational skills taught were not a fit for him. Once we gave that up and gave him room for his own system for accomplishing and finishing things, it was better for all of us! One time I was discussing this with a friend, and he said, “Is he in Special Ed?” (💭 Wait, what? 😳) You see, this is the filters so many of us operate through, tragically, and we end up othering the children we should be learning from. (Again, I repeat, do better, folks!) I said, “Yes, actually, he’s in the Baccalaureate program at his high school…
(💭you f’ing idiot)!”
Ever-curious, ever-seeking new information and understanding about the world around him and the people involved, it’s no surprise that he grew up to be a scientist of the Earth (geology) and has deep feelings about and for the people that reside on it. He will say the “hard things” about various institutionalized and systemic oppressions without regret. When he loves you, it’s probably forever, though the depth may vary and you may not realize it. He is bigger in spirit and intelligence than his physical stature, which is often way underestimated by many because of judgmental societal expectations about how big and tall men need to be. (Lorrrrrdy, we have so much to get better about!)
Imagine the world we would have if we allowed space for individuals to be seen perfect and whole just as they are with all of their natural gifts.
Here is the passage which had me write my content above:
My daughter handed me her school progress report. Although it displayed a steady stream of positive check marks, there was one check mark standing dejectedly alone from the rest.
“How am I doing, Mom?” my child asked with a level of maturity that did not match the small dishevelled person gazing up at me with smudged eyeglasses that teetered on the tip of her nose. With her small finger, she pointed to her teacher’s neatly printed words next to the lone check mark.
It read, “Distracted in large groups.” But I already knew this. I knew this long before it was written on an official report card. Since she was a toddler, this child has offered astute observations of the world around her.
After pointing out all the positives on the progress report, I told her what was written. Upon hearing the news, she gave a tiny, uncertain smile and shyly admitted, “I do look around a lot.”
But before my child could feel one ounce of shame, one iota of failure, I came down on bended knee and looked her straight in the eye. I didn’t want her to just hear these words, I wanted her to feel them. This is what I said:
“Yes. You do look around a lot. You noticed Sam sitting off by himself with a skinned knee on the field trip, and you comforted him.”
“You noticed Banjo had a running nose, and the vet said it was a good thing we brought him in when we did.”
“You noticed our waitress was working really hard and suggested we leave an extra good tip. You noticed Grandpa was walking slower than the rest of us so you waited for him.”
“You notice the beautiful view every time we cross the bridge to go to swim practice.”
“And you know what? I don’t ever want you to stop noticing because that is your gift. It is your gift that you give to the world.”
As I watched my daughter beam with the glow of acceptance, I realized her approach to life had the power to change the world.
You see, we are all just waiting for someone to notice—notice our pain, notice our scars, notice our fear, notice our joy, notice our triumphs, notice our courage.
And the one who notices is a rare and beautiful gift.
This gave me a little chuckle. But the truth is whether you see the glass half empty or half full, either way it is not one whole. Acceptance is seeing someone exactly as they are and knowing that they are complete right now. There is nothing to add and there is nothing to remove.
Today’s verdicts made it feel like a good day, and it was for that. Remember, we still don’t even have sentencing done yet. George Floyd’s murderer could receive up to 40 years in prison for second degree murder, up to 25 years for third degree murder, and up to 10 years for second degree manslaughter. We’ll see soon, and hopefully I’m surprised and he receives the fullest extent and it sets a precedence that can’t be ignored.
But George Floyd’s murderer is himself a symptom, a symbol of something much bigger than he is. The murderer is just the oozing abscess on the ass of the dirty system many of us seem to be blind to, or afraid to tell the truth about. That system is still alive and well.
Justice has not yet been served, and just, “no…” Floyd did not sacrifice his life, nor was it sacrificed for some invisible greater cause. STOP IT. He was MURDERED. It is not time to relax or spit empty, pain-inflicting platitudes.
Take that breath today – but tomorrow – well, it’s another day in the same exact system Floyd was murdered in. Don’t be that person that can’t/won’t admit that the problems still not only exist, but are cemented in. We do this same weird dance with elections/politics, and I suspect this won’t be different. One just verdict doesn’t equal justice, nor does it dismantle this corrupt, racist, bankrupt system. So…
Breathe in this moment tonight.
Exhale and stand back up tomorrow. Keep it moving. Keep the pressure on.
“If you stick a knife in my back 9 inches and pull it out 6 inches, that’s not progress. If you pull it all the way out, that’s not progress. Progress is healing the wound that the blow made. They haven’t pulled the knife out; they won’t even admit that it’s there.” -Malcolm X.
Malcolm X – If you stick a knife in my back…. https://youtu.be/XiSiHRNQlQo
So I wrote the post (pictured above) after news of a mass shooting in Boulder, Colorado. This is on the heels of a mass shooting in Georgia. I wrote it right before I went to bed, and I was feeling just done with the madness. Well, if you are a thinker or a writer, as usually happens, once I laid down in the quiet, the thoughts flooded in.
A little more on this….
Everything I said in that post is 100 percent how I feel. They’re my thoughts. My wish is that I knew what to do about it, knew how to effect actual, lasting change, but my belief is that it’s not a gun problem, but a heart and soul condition. (Shameless plug: I think I have a blog post about that somewhere.) I used to think that we just need to ban every single kind of firearm, but my thoughts on that have slowly, continually evolved. I still wish we lived in a world where they didn’t exist, never existed at all, but I can wish that until the cows come home and it won’t change a single thing. So….
Learn better; do better. Thoughts evolve, and that’s okay.
My thoughts on gun control are evolving as over the years I have come to understand and see how these types of laws can affect communities that aren’t White, and communities that sit in the lower income brackets. This is true of so many of our laws and beliefs. I believe in our 2nd Amendment as I understand it (not in the fear-based, bastardized version so many self-appointed “patriots” vomit out), but I don’t believe just anyone deserves to own a firearm either. So what are the correct parameters? I doubt we’ll ever find agreement on this either.
The Black Panthers showed up and we clutched our pearls.
Remember that time in 1967 when the Black Panthers showed up on the steps of the California State Capitol and then-Governor Reagan (R) and his NRA cronies decided we needed gun control laws right away? Well, I don’t remember because I was barely 3 years old, but it’s not hard information to find. But yes, the NRA wanted gun control laws after that incident! (If you never stopped to wonder “why,” here’s your chance.) What I do vividly remember many times is White men and women parading, storming, and protesting at various state capitol buildings, other federal buildings and lands armed to the freaking gills. What I also remember about those incidents is the government, the twisted NRA, and many so-called patriots saying NOTHING and doing NOTHING about it. Essentially, what I’ve seen is blatant inequality, and the silence I hear is actually an action, a stand.
Well now, that’s a problem.
So there I was with a pretty strong thought about guns and owners, heels dug in, rock solid sentiments. The problem is it centers my own personal fears and knee-jerk reactions rather than the whole picture. It leaves out the welfare of a whole lot of people. Is this the crossroads or a complete shift? I guess I’m not totally sure yet, but I know it is different, and I know that if my thoughts or actions contribute to hurting another group through inequality or inequity, then that’s a clue that some shift needs to happen. It’s a clue tapping at me letting me know that something is unbalanced, unfair, and requires more thought. I have always chosen to be a scout rather than a follower — someone who continually seeks out a higher consciousness and willing to change direction when or where I see I can do better. I’m not afraid to find out I’m wrong. I’m not afraid to change. I’m not afraid to realize my thoughts may have been imitated without thought and it’s okay to change direction. All of that might piss off some folks, but that isn’t always what’s most important. So I adjust, transform, or switch directions.
So here I am with little direction, nagging thoughts, armed with a scout mentality.
I’m going to stay in this inquiry until I have a solid direction. It’s important to me that the footprint I leave on others isn’t one on their backs. It’s important to me that my activism supports our Black and Brown communities in equality. It’s important to me to self-examine regularly and make sure I’m in alignment with what I say I want in the world, and that I’m not aligned out of fear. I’m going to have a conversation with a friend of mine whose ideas have also changed around gun ownership, whose ideas were much like mine and have also evolved quite a bit over the past year or so. I was invited to go to a shooting range event by that friend, and my husband and I are going to attend. I’m looking forward to it. I’ve never shot a gun in my life, and they’ve always scared me. I have no clue what I might learn, who I might get to talk to, but I’m open to it all because personal evolution is calling. I’ll blog about my experiences and thoughts.
Always choose to be a scout.
Revolution won’t happen without evolution, revelations, and reevaluation.
Debora Lynn Garcia