SHATTERED!

 

As much as I wanted to stay oblivious, secure, and in my cocoon, the despicable, brutal and callous murder of George Floyd changed all of that in 8 minutes and 46 seconds. I felt my heart stop and my breath quicken and my soul shatter into a billion pieces, as I sat in absolute horror, fear, fury, and despair as a human being was killed before my eyes, before our very eyes.

My mind refused to accept the cowardly, despicable, inhumane, dispassionate, and racist, hate filled act of a human being pressing a knee onto a man’s neck until his life was extinguished.  I sat immobile, tears streaming down my face, dripping endlessly onto my chest soaking my shirt, heart  wrenching sobs escaped without warning, I couldn’t absorb what my eyes were seeing and I felt like I couldn’t breathe.  When Mr. Floyd, was begging for air… Air!…. and grasping, pleading to live, breathlessly, mournfully, tragically called out for his mother, I doubled over in horror and pain, clutching my stomach, ….and I wept. I felt the pain a mother feels when her child so desperately needs her and she is not there. How could this happen? In public! With no one intervening? Where were the police? How could this be a police officer who is sworn an oath to protect and serve? Why couldn’t anyone stop this person from executing a man before our very eyes? Again?! Still!! 

The cocoon I had erected around myself and my family, shattered into a billion pieces. My false sense of security and safety was violently, and indiscrimantly stripped away. I was catapulted, tumbling into a world filled with hate, racial injustice, and violence, again. A world that unfortunately, never seems far away. Racial hatred is always bubbling just under the surface, now it is erupting all over our country once again, stoked and encouraged. The embers have never died down and with the cold blooded murder of Mr. Floyd, I was reminded that no matter how far we have come, the road is still long and steep. Frankly, it’s exhausting, tiring to the bone, to be here again, in my lifetime and in my children’s lifetime. To have to reiterate the demands of my ancestors, to gain liberty, equality,  justice, and freedom for all, wears on the soul. 

Words, creativity, faith, and optimism abruptly faded away into the background. I was swept further backwards on the current of racial inequality, violence, and fear. My thoughts became jumbled and the respite I had struggled to create for my family, amidst another frightening and daunting challenge; this pandemic, became bleak, isolating, and fear-filled, dark began to swallow me up. I stopped believing in the good of my fellow Americans. I felt hopeless, tired, angry, helpless, and demoralized. Hate was winning.

I started to breathe anxiety, anger, and despair through my pores. I found my breath jagged and shallow, my heart rate banging in my chest with fury, sorrow, and pain. I couldn’t sleep and the drum beat of race baiting and the fire of hatred kept growing ever bigger, obliterating the light and breeding and igniting fear. Helplessness, hopelessness, and hardship were the salty taste of the tears I wept endlessly, as I tried to provide my children with the tools to live through an ill-fated encounter with a racist officer of the law who might be capable of such a heinous act. At the same time fighting to instill in them the belief that most police officers take an oath to protect their citizens and the communities they serve with dedication and respect for all. Trying to find the balance and the faith to believe the words I speak, the prayers I pray, the faith I surround them with, that will hopefully keep them alive and safe from hate and harm.

Even as I write this, I know it’s a fable and an untruth that I speak in a desperate hope but no longer with the utmost conviction. Knowing all the while, as I sit here sharing my thoughts, it is nothing but a fervent, mournful prayer that all mothers and fathers of children of color make each and every day before sending our beloved children out to face the world. Sometimes, like with George Floyd, we know it might not even matter.  That even as we have raised our children well, that the color of their skin may ignite a racist officer to deny them their very right to breathe until they breathe no more. My body quakes with the uncertainty, fear, and unfairness of the burden I lay at their feet. It is not a burden they should have to bear. No one should have to bear it! 

Even having to accept this unseemly and contradictory reality,  I along with all loving parents of children of color, Latino, Asian, Native American’s,  and LGBTQ, know this is no shield against racism. Mr. Floyd’s murder was a stark and vivid reminder of their/our continued vulnerability. Still we pray, organize, galvanize, and continue to prioritize the need for the peaceful protests to continue so that our children may know safety, security, freedom, and justice for all…someday. That the content of their character may someday outweigh prejudices of those who loathe the color of their skin.

Finding my equilibrium, my sense of optimism, creativity, and faith…has been a herculean task. I fumbled, unsure and unaccustomed to being so unmoored by the destruction of my country, that I love so much. I have been struggling to find a sense of the future where I feel safe, where my children are safe, and that is familiar to me. Where manners, tolerance,  respect, and civility, at least have a prominent place at our societal table.

When the protesters started and continued to march for George Floyd, for justice reform, for the equality  and safety our mothers, brothers, sisters, and friends, I was able to steady my heartbeat and take a deep restorative breath. Once again, as is our history’s not so distant past, people of all colors rose up to demand that police brutality, profiling, redlining, gerrymandering, and the indiscriminate killing of black people, people who are different, would no longer be tolerated. Having witnessed collectively unwaveringly, and tramatically, the murder of Mr. Floyd, we as a peaceful and law abiding society could no longer deny that the targeting, terrorizing, and murdering of black people by police officers, could not, would not be accepted. Bearing witness to this shame has galvanized the nation and helped to restore my faith again.

I know that the road forward is exhausting and steep and that hope is fleeting in the face of such immeasurable pain and repetitive quests for equality. I am aware that the struggle will need to continue until the embers of hatred, injustice, and racism have been extinguished for good. Maybe not in my lifetime, but surely in my children’s lifetime, I pray. 

I will do my best to find the bright spots and to blaze vibrant color through the tapestry that is my world. I will pay homage to my family, a microcosm of this multicultural country, and I will celebrate our differences while remembering that it is those myriad of flavors that make my life rich and fulfilling. I will retreat from the darkness and let the light drive hatred, racial animosity, violence, and intolerance into the background. I will find the vibration for healing, promise, acceptance, and love. I pray that this time we can succeed in putting out the fire of hatred and blanket our country with liberty, justice, fairness, and grace. I refuse to succumb to the hate, pain, and sorrow that threatens to envelop all of us if we don’t find the strength to resist the haters and elevate one another to our greatest ideals. I will continue to urge myself to create art and to find beauty to dispel the dark and invite joy, light, faith, and love back into my life.

And lastly, I will vote like my life, your life, our lives, and our country depends on it.

Be Well.

 

 

 

 

 

     

 

No Destination Required…

The summer flew by melting everything in its path and scorching the green ground beneath us. While September dawned, the acrid heat of summer lingered and fall snuck surreptitiously in the back door. The air is autumn crisp and it crackles with seasonal suspense. The winter is coming but first a display of the magnificence blazing colored leaves, dotting the horizon, a feast for the senses and artists alike. There are roads to be explored and adventures to be had around each corner. 

And so this summer began with my oldest son getting his driving permit. We practiced daily and for any reason, “out of bread? need air in the tires?”. It was disconcerting to find myself getting in to the passenger seat, watching my son navigate the roads with ease, and confidence, (it’s the confidence that scares me), and having no control. My youngest, urgently sensing the unforeseen benefits of his own looming freedom, suddenly became more interested in the mechanics and responsibilities of driving.

The sands of time had fallen one granule at a time and I found myself in the role of the wise (I’m going to leave the word “old” out for obvious reasons) sage. I sat transfixed, listening to my sons talk, unprompted, about their school, friends, hopes and dreams. If we had we been sitting at home, in our usual routines, I might have gotten a few grunts between bites of food, perhaps a head nod or two. But here in this magic car, in our own cocoon, seeking out unknown routes and looking for adventure, and most of all new places to eat, we were having conversations. We rode in comfortable silence, or debated philosophy, politics, religion, and relaxed while the countryside and it’s farm stands flew by. 

In these quiet moments of concentration, watching my sons driving, becoming young men, I sat back in silent gratitude and soaked in every moment. I prayed I would always remember this hot, hazy summer of their budding independence and hopeful dreams. The future, once far away, and out of reach seemed impossibly close, as if it was just around the next corner. I’ll cherish the memories of the smell of the freshly mowed grass as we drove by. Or the sticky ice cream cones that melted in their hands and made the two of them laugh like little boys. There were unexpected water fights, the ever-present eye rolls, non-stop suggestions, and the awkward hugs that feel more like small body slams by Olympic wrestlers wrapped in Axe body spray, than a soft place to land. 

The picture doesn’t look  how I imagined it one year ago but I do think my aunt would be pleased. I’m still looking forward to aimless magical rides throughout the seasons, on roads I have never been, looking for new adventures only now it’s with my sons. I have come full circle. No words necessary. No destination required.

Voyeurs or Friends?!

When Facebook first came out it seemed like a cool way to travel through space and time, to reconnect with new and old friends, coworkers and family. Slowly though I wonder if it hasn’t become a venue for voyeurism more than a place to share information, thoughts, friendships and images. I feel like there are times when someone is posting something extremely personal, and I’m uncomfortable viewing it. Suddenly I am engaged an extremely personal conversation with someone I know very little, or only as an “acquaintance.” The level of information being imparted for all to view, is sometimes cringe worthy and deeply private.

Without warning I find myself brought up short by knowing the ins and outs of someone’s IBS, ,(irritable bowel syndrome), their divorce and hatred of the ex, or a photo of…”what is this on my back?” I wonder, is there no one else that can look at that thing growing on your back to decide what it is and more importantly how to treat it? Must I be scrolling through my timeline with my coffee, barely awake only to see a boil the size of a small bird perched on your back, gag a little and sit back and wonder..wth!

Back in the day, there was a saying, “TMI”, too much information. It is my nature to be guarded and less likely to share personal successes and failures with “virtual strangers.” Make no mistake, while we are all FB friends, we are strangers in one another’s daily lives. It’s difficult enough to be talking with someone who is bashing their ex in real time but at least, hopefully you know their back story. On FB, it’s a momentary blurt of information without context. It doesn’t account for nuances, for two sides of a story, or for questions. Instead, we’re left with judgements and I wonder, what knowledge have I gained? Is there value in knowing you hate your ex? What if I like your ex as a person?

Have we reached the point where the “likes” are the driving force behind the posts. Who liked it, who commented, who started trolling to initiate hate and discord? Who is listening?? Is anyone listening? Perhaps that is the problem. In our lives it seems things are moving so fast and now everyone has a way to gauge who is moving faster? Who is traveling, who is getting married, having babies, buying houses/businesses, going to fantastic parties and meeting amazing people? How do I measure up? Am I losing?

In a way, it sets us all up for dissatisfaction with our own lives. Why am I not getting anywhere when everyone on FB is going everywhere? How can we live our lives with gratitude and be in the moment if the moment is only there for the sake of the post? If the motivation for having the experience, is so you can post it, are we really connecting to one another? I have been out with friends and while we are hanging out having fun someone inevitably says, let’s take a picture and post it. Suddenly everyone is primping wondering if they look alright, how do I compare with everyone else and Boom…you’re completely out of the moment. Transported again through space and time as the picture is immediately posted and you pray that everyone likes it, I mean really likes it so that everyone can see you’re doing alright. Is it a validation of who we are or are we voyeurs in other people’s lives, constantly watching, trying to measure up and wondering, am I liked?

If you combine this with the unprecedented hacking of FB, I wonder if we are soaking up hate and division more than we are benefitting from the connectedness of sharing? Have we lost the ability to see beneath the surface? Are we all just creating movie posters of our lives without the story. For me as a writer, the post is the cover of the book but the richness of the person is in their stories. Without knowing the rise and fall of triumph and the agony of defeat it seems less meaningful, less authentic. Almost like we are inviting people to look at us, to judge us, only don’t look too closely. Just tell me you like what you see.

Pondering…

Let me begin by wishing all of the Mother’s out there, a Happy Mother’s Day. I know being a mother is challenging and rewarding and exhausting and fulfilling, and overwhelming and exhilarating, and that’s all in one minute. So yeah to us! Even if you’re not a mother, congratulations if you’re  a caregiver to someone you love.

I can’t deny I love my sons beyond measure. Being their Mom is the greatest joy and the greatest test I have ever endured. I pray that when they’re in therapy talking about me, and they probably will be, they remember that I tried with all my might to be the best person/mother that I could be. I know I don’t achieve it all the time, (cue the eye roll from my sons), but I’m aware most of the time when I miss the mark. Each night I pray that I can do better and be better tomorrow. Some days I’m fabulous! Some days I bite!

I know that I have dropped out of sight lately. I needed to take some time to mull over the ever-changing landscape that is my life. I’m going to admit something that my family and friends already know, I ponder, deeply. I gather information about whatever I may be going through, the bigger the problem the longer the gathering process goes, and then I go to ground. 

I take all of the advice, solicited and unsolicited and I mull over every inch of every discussion or thought. I write but my thoughts are so jumbled that they’re not fit to share. My ability to see photographs in daily life, dries up. I turn inward and I shut down emotionally. On the outside I am functioning but on the inside it has all turned blue, dark blue. Sounds are muted, light diffused and hazy and I roll through my to do list like a mantra but my brain is quiet, like walking outside after a snowfall, cushioned.

After awhile my synapses start firing again and I reemerge things slightly out of focus, but resolved and undeterred. Recognizing that I need to put the past in perspective, let go of the incessant chatter of regret and embrace the possibilities of now. I’m through hashing and rehashing the old and am ready to turn my attention to what’s new. It’s not all roses and sunshine but the light has shifted, altered in a way that affords me the vision to see the nuances and mystique of my life. This one life that I have.

Change is hard. Ha, who doesn’t know that?! Necessary for sure. Unavoidable without a doubt. Dealing with it is the key. Inquisitiveness, self-awareness, truthfulness, and resilience are an all equal measure, the only way to rise again. Each of us handle life’s challenges in our own ways, unique to the people we are. Hopefully I’ve come through and have learned something along with the pain and sadness.

I think spring is a good time for new beginnings. I’m surrounded by renewal, rejuvenation, resilience and endurance. For me, a reminder that life moves on even when I find it necessary, no imperative, to slow it all down and pause. The earth keeps revolving and luckily my friends and family love me through the brilliant blues of a summer sky and through the abrupt ever-changing storm that arrives on the horizon and rushes through my life-like a hurricane. Destroying and restoring a new balance and order. A new flow and for a change, I’m ready. 

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Transitions!

Moving from one familiar place to another unknown and unfamiliar territory causes me angst. Even if I know the change is good for me I still find myself looking longingly over my shoulder at what should or could have been, wondering if I’ve made the right decision. Should I go back or trudge blindingly forward? 

Finally with apprehension and trepidation I  slowly turn my head and my focus to the challenges ahead. I take a deep breath, square my shoulders and I plunge on. I promise not to look back. I try not to relive only the most wonderful memories and glamorize the things I’ve left behind. I remind myself that I am moving on for a reason. I remind myself that letting go of people, places and things is very difficult for me. Often it is the absolute last resort as I am a born problem solver. I try getting over a problem, through, under, around, ….exhaustion ensues and I have to admit I’ve done all that I can. Again and again. Time to let go. To go where?

Truly it’s not the flying, plummeting, free fall that I mind so much, exactly. No, it’s the terrifying white knuckle moments right before flight that is my nemesis. I cling, shredding my nails, clutching tightly until my arms cramp, making useless and futile bargains with God in a vain attempt to forestall the inevitable…. letting go, saying goodbye. Moving on. Falling into the hollowness with no flight plan and no parachute.

Finally, I slowly loosen my death-like clutch on the past…. I release myself to the fates and to the winds of change. I will attempt to be gracious, open-minded, curious and kind. I will use this time of transition to become a better version of myself with my newfound knowledge and enlightenment. I will open my arms wide and appreciate the storm of change as the past whips by with the sound of a locomotive and the silence of transition approaches , engulfs and hopefully cradles me.

It is here my work will begin. I will land in a different place and my climb will begin anew. Ascending and trusting the Godwinks I must now rely on as if my life depended on it, because surely it does. I’m in uncharted water apprehensive and uncertain. It will be here that my new purpose and my faith will collide. Trusting that while I am uncomfortable and tentative I will prevail. I will pray for guidance and strength to trust that deep in the dark abyss of transition there is a safety net that is as yet unseen.

It is a comfort and a relief to know that I am not alone. At the very least I hope to find that I am braver than I know.