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.

 

 

 

 

 

     

 

Summer’s Here!

          Finally summer has arrived! The northeast has been pummeled with constant rain and windstorms for what seems like months. Nevertheless, my family surged over the finish line ending freshman year of high school for Noah and 6th grade for Jordan.  As I write this it really begins to hit me for the first time, I have children in high school and middle school. I mean I know that but to see it in print….

      Luckily for all of us, pre-teen angst is similar to my halftime angst. I call it halftime because it sounds better, more optimistic. Or maybe I’ve just been living with boys for too long. Middle age sounds dowdy, decrepit, and old. Like a clock slowly winding down, tick tick. Halftime sounds optimistic like there’s more of the game left to be played. There’s still time to reevaluate prior mistakes and successes, make adjustments big and small before the second half. A do over of sorts. I may be rationalizing a bit here but  a bit of self-delusion may be all I’ve got.

      Predictably, this year has been filled with the unexpected intermittent, uninvited  hot flashes, skin and body/image changes you would expect at this age. There are the inevitable mood swings, temper tantrums, irritability, interminable sleep marathons, insatiable hunger, (which can lead to tantrums, but I digress), sleep deprivation, exhaustion, talking endlessly to people who don’t seem to understand the english language, and frustration! Indecision, indifference and confusion often lead to complaints such as: “I’m bored” to “I never get to do anything fun”, and my personal favorite, “I just need time to myself.”  This daily litany and self-analysis is enough to drive a person crazy. And it’s not just about me, if you think all of that sounds beyond unbearable, the boy’s moods swings, temper tantrums and changes have been no picnic to live through either.

      Still summer is a transition and a welcome one at that. We can seclude ourselves on the deck, at the beach or tucked cozily on our beds reading (me), watching tv, playing video games, with an occasional grunt which passes for conversation, (boys). This summer I have decided to just live without a plan or a goal.  Okay decided sounds like I had a choice my sons thought otherwise.

      With the usual complaints and occasional disdain from my sons, the consensus is that: “we don’t need you to plan every minute of our day we’re older now”. Fair enough, (If only that didn’t include the constant hurrying up to wait and “oh didn’t I tell you that I need $20. and my game is 45 minutes away and I told you I need a ride and we have to pick up….Why aren’t you dressed????”). What? Nobody told me! Which is inevitably followed by the bemoaning sounds of “Oh Mom!” There is the ever-present muttering, mumbling and criticism which haunts my days and sometimes nights. Any other men/boys and I might have broken up with them by now. I mean I’m supposed to get life advice from a 15 and a 12-year-old? Yeah right, (cue eye roll). See, I’m learning.

      Since they’re so smart, I’m taking their advice. Here’s to staying loose and letting the summer unfold, teenage style. Despite the challenges of living with boys who crash into walls, spill any liquid they touch, break every glass/plate/cup we own, and don’t get me started talking about bathroom hygiene and cleanliness.,(don’t fret, a trick of the trade for teenage boys, Axe body wash, minus the body wash part), it’s gonna be a great time.

      We are living it up, enjoying life, and spending time together, mostly. We’re gonna take it easy and go where the wind takes us. It’s only half time but I like the way the first half of the game has gone so far. Here’s hoping I kick butt in the second half. 

      

 

 

 

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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The old joke in New England is “if you don’t like the weather, wait a minute.”

This adage never proved truer than this past week. Thursday my kids wanted to wear shorts basking in the balmy February day.

Friday brought cumulus clouds of dewy snow which proceeded to blanket us with windswept gale forces and stiff frosting covered trees, brittle and frozen.

What a difference a day makes.

Coral Sunset
Coral Sunset

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Unknown Chance…

Solitary red.
Solitary red.

In the midst of sadness and grief over losing my cousin at the age of 35, I learned again the value of spreading your wings and testing your faith in life.

For some, staying immersed in a life that is comfortable and challenging to maintain, seems like the safer and more obvious choice. There may be missed opportunities, times when going left instead of right, was a chance worth taking. The Unknown.

There are moments that are hazy, hopeful, glimpses into the future of what might be….but the road is scary, blurry and unknown. What if you don’t succeed? Something whispers, “turn back, you don’t recognize anyone or anything here. Turn back.” Fear causes people to retreat, and fall back. There are loved ones surrounding you, encouraging you to leap. But if your fear is deep rooted and intertwined with the fears of others…though they love you mightily, they will not wish for things to change or for someone to grow into a person they don’t recognize.

Perhaps a beautiful and courageous soul cannot soar into the limitless possibility of their own lives when fear runs rampant through their spirit. If unwittingly the voices that are the loudest are also the ones that stifle ones faith in unearthing the treasures within, then it may be impossible for them to even try to vanquish every doubt and fear they possess. There is no recognition, no reconciliation, no expectation of the majesty, mystery and miracles that guide all of us in our daily lives. How can they be convinced to gamble their talents, wisdom, and love and to see what is as yet, unseen? How can they be encouraged  to believe they already came to this earth with all the tools they would need to live an extraordinary and joyful life filled with gratitude, self-love, and triumph? That life is grander and abundant and resplendent with beauty!

You can’t. It’s that simple. The lesson may be to know deep within yourself that God or your Higher Power wants you to emerge victorious. That there are bright colors, friends, family, strangers and magic all around. If you train your eyes to search for beauty, it’s all around us, through us, and in us. If we are open to it, the world isn’t just black and white. We can live in Technicolor.  Godspeed Love!

Abundant green.
Abundant green.