Thursday, August 15, 2013

Embracing the Morning

Summer Morning Mood
Making a Conscious Choice
to Sit in Reverie

"Morning Mood" by Edvard Grieg captures the delightful sentiment of my morning meditations while I sat outside and wrote earlier today. I recommend you listen to enhance your own morning mood while you read.

* * * * *

It’s still cool enough to sit outside this morning before the heat of the day moves in and touches everything with scorching fingers. No rain has fallen in over a week and my world is parched. The slight breeze on my bare shoulders and neck belies the high temperatures moving this way as the day progresses. Even my warm coffee doesn’t increase my body’s heat as I savor the cooling air.
The lizard on the Pandora vine scampered out of sight as I approached my chair. Other creatures that inhabit my patio are hidden or sleeping. Not so the birds that I hear chirping and calling in the distance as they greet the day in search of food, companionship, conversation.
A frog just leapt from the outside wall of the house to the crinum lily flower. Perched on the sepals draped from the top of the stalk, it sips the last drops of dew before the sun, risen and warming the Earth, evaporates any liquid bubbles on the plant’s surface.
Perhaps the woodpeckers have found another source of breakfast bugs, one farther away from my tiny plot of land, because they are silent this day.
Fritillary butterflies sip the nectar from the just-opening aloe flower. Tortoiseshell-hued dragonfly wings shimmer in the sun as the graceful creatures flit across the thirsty herb garden.
Hot pink morning glories open their faces to the day. The night-blooming jasmine has closed its petals in anticipation of daily rest.

Drops of moisture hover at the tips and edges of the caladium leaves.
I turn my face to the north, and my right cheek is warmed as it is exposed to the rising sun. I note the heat that now hovers on my arm and the back of my neck. Content, in a nature-inspired reverie, I desire nothing more than to stay seated in my weathered wicker rocking chair, pen in hand and coffee nearby. I know this is but a short respite from the business of living this day. I glance at the door, but rather than get up and move inside, instead I put down my pen, close my eyes, gently rock, and savor these early morning gifts.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Silence the Voices of Oppression

Mind-Less Monday
Silencing the Voices of Oppression

On this Mind-Less Monday, I’m trying to mind less those voices from the past that creep into my consciousness and wound me anew.
There I was, thinking along, happy thoughts, and damn, the voice of the oppressor (I call my personal oppressor Snappy) broke into my reverie. “Not so fast, happy thoughts! Don’t you remember when this happened? Don’t you remember when that happened? And, really, what about when _______ said that (mean, soul-crushing remark)? And if you say that (wholesome expression of joy), what if ­­­­_______ says the more of the same (additional mean, soul-crushing remarks) ­­­­­­to let you know that really you are not so much, not so valued, not so cherished? Just silence all that joyful noise and dwell in the past.”
Burst balloon. Dark cloud. Rain on the parade. Black days of depression. All the clich├ęd harbingers of doom marched right into my psyche, destroying every sense of peace, calm, gratitude.
That’s what Snappy does, and he’s a pro. I believe each of us has our own Snappy, except for the few who have achieved total self-actualization. Because I had gone from joy to despair so quickly, in just moments of thought, I recognized Snappy. Whoa! He’s at it again, I realized. And although I listened for a few moments, I was mindful of the rapid progression from joy-filled thoughts to hang-dog dejection. The sun went down and clouds blocked the blue sky. I caught him in his soul-destroying game. And I put a halt to it.
The most important thing I can do on this Mind-Less Monday is to mind less what Snappy says—much less. I can’t predict when Snappy will start yapping at my psyche, none of us can. But I can be aware of when I feel him nipping at my heels. In that moment, I can chase him away, I can return to the sunlight, golden sands, and blue ocean water of my reverie. I can mind less the past, I can mind more the future. I can be free of Snappy this Mind-Less Monday and every day.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

I Am Fragile, but I Have Places too Strong to Ever Break

I Am Not a Hero
I Am Not a Saint
I am the mother of a dead child.

I am the mother of a dead child.
I am not a hero.
I am not a saint.
It doesn’t matter if I’m doing well at this life
Or whether I’ve chosen to stare out a window for years,
Tears rolling down my face.

I am the mother of a dead child.
It is okay if I wear my heart on my sleeve
Or tuck it deep in the coin pocket of my jeans.

I am the mother of a dead child.
It is okay if I carry my grief with Atlas-like arms
Or if I am stooped and bent with the weight I carry.

I am the mother of a dead child.
That experience defines many things I do.
That experience defines few things I do.
I am not the artesian well that holds an endless supply of tears.
But I often dip from that well, drink from it, and then replenish it with tears of my own.

I am the mother of a dead child.
It doesn’t mean that I am strong.
It doesn’t mean that I am weak.
It means only that I carry what I can and put down what I must.

I am the mother of a dead child.
I am fragile.
I also have places that are much too strong to ever break.
I struggle to balance those aspects of my life and would do so,
Even if I weren’t the mother of a dead child.

I am the mother of a dead child.
I approach life with courage.
I approach life with fear and trembling.
Each day, each situation, demands and deserves its own response.

I am the mother of a dead child.
Memories sustain me.
Memories also pierce me.
At times, I must choose between sustenance and pain.

I am the mother of a dead child.
I am different from mothers whose children are all alive.
I am the same as mothers of living children.
I love without qualification or condition.

I am the mother of a dead child.
I am not on a pedestal of my choosing for living this life.
I resist the efforts of some to put me there.
Yes, it’s difficult to mother in this fashion, but it’s not worthy of praise.

I am the mother of a dead child.
Like most women who walk this path,
I stumble on the stones of grief, regret, and wishing things were not as they are.

I am the mother of a dead child.
Like most women who walk this path,
I often walk and do not stumble.
I hold my head high and move around and onward, forward into life.
I step away from grief.

Because of the choice to take those steps onward, forward,
I am more, much more than the mother of a dead child.
I continue to be alive. 

Finding the Common Ground of Love

An article shared recently on social media about being the mother of a dead child made it seem like it’s a heroic act to get up every day and just breathe and live. Some days, it does feel that way, especially early on when the vice-grip of grief squeezes every drop of joy from being alive. But grief changes, life changes, even for mothers of children who have died. We get up, we move, we live, we love, we laugh again—with out loud peals bringing us to tears, but not tears of sadness.
The article also attempted to dispel any blame we mothers feel. It proclaimed that it is “not your fault.” That’s a worthy aim, certainly, but it goes against almost every facet of what defines women as mothers, whether their children live and breathe or whether they must experience life after a child takes his or her final breath. The blame, even self-blame, the regret, is part of most mothering. It is a part of how we loved and continue to love those children who are no longer with us as well as how we love and continue to love any of our surviving children.
As mothers, we second-guess, we what-if, we retrace our steps, we remake the past because we want a different present; we want a different future. Someone loudly proclaiming it’s not our fault changes nothing. Rather, I believe it is more constructive to acknowledge the guilt, the blame, the second-guessing, the what-ifs. They don’t go away. Yes, they can be transformed, but those feelings are mother feelings. We live with them, regardless of whether our children are living or not.
The story also made it seem as if women who have experienced this loss are a breed apart from other mothers. I don’t think that’s true in many respects. I believe that mothers of living and dead children have more in common that most would like to believe. Yes, this loss is an agony, one that surpasses the threshold of any woman’s pain. Yet, the love that makes it such a loss is the common thread of being a mother. It is that love on which we find our common ground.

Monday, August 5, 2013

The Nameless Delight That Gently Beckons the Senses

Chemists Have Tried,
But They Cannot Reproduce This Scent
Bring the Outdoors In
For Sweet Dreams

In a few minutes, I’ll slip beneath the sun-and-air-dried bed linens.
Earlier today, I lifted the sheets from the wicker basket, unfolded one, shook out its length and width, and then tucked its corners and edges onto my bed. Air, sunlight, blue skies, butterflies, and flowers wafted through the room, bringing the best of the outdoors in.
Chemists and perfume makers have tried, oh, have they tried, in vain to reproduce this scent, this nameless delight that calls gently to the senses and announces in a quiet tone: This bedding was dried in the sun, the breeze, the outdoors.
Manufacturers have devoted thousands and thousands of dollars of research and development to copying that scent. They use names reminiscent of white linen, spring breezes, sun-kissed air, but they cannot capture this scent. They cannot reproduce it. They cannot bottle it. It’s not for sale. “They” say it “smells like . . . ,” but it doesn’t.
To delight in the scents of the day, to bring the outside in, you must go outside. The only way to bring the sweet scent of the outdoors inside is to go and get it. The small effort required to peg the sheets and pillowcases on the line is well worth the reward of doing so. A few moments of standing in the sun and feeling the heat and breeze on your skin will later translate to a nighttime of bliss. You lie back, pull the sheet to your chin, breathe in the delight, and note the calming of your senses. Sweet dreams, indeed.

Mind-Less Monday and Shooting Star Flowers

Mind-Less Monday
Stifling Heat, Monsoon Rains,
Moonflowers, Shooting Stars,
and Well-Fed Caterpillars

On this Mind-Less Monday, I’m fighting the urge to jump in my car and speed to the nearest home improvement center, hardware store, discount merchant, or even convenience store and purchase a gallon of ultra-poison, ultra-toxic Bug Be Gone. However, I will mind less that some plants are chewed to the stems, Instead, I’ll note the butterflies as they flit from flower to flower. When the eggs they lay non-stop, all day, every day hatch into caterpillars that gobble the passionflowers to the nubs, I’ll re-mind myself that the Indian River Lagoon and its life forms are suffering from pesticides. I’ll be grateful for these pollinators because so much of what they munch isn’t necessary for me to feed myself. Except for the parsley. I love parsley, so I’m minding less that the black swallowtail larvae are munching, munching, munching. The parsley will grow again and as it does, I’ll watch the swallowtails' flight through my garden.

This Mind-Less Monday, I’ll forget the muggy heat that drives me indoors after too short a time outside. That heat and daily rain have contributed to high grass and flowerbeds that spill across their borders. I’ll mind less that my Welcome sign is hidden by vines. Instead, I’ll note the moonflower buds that promise stunning satin blooms after that heat-generating sun goes down every night.

More flowers! I am working on minding less that my pitcher plant has had no pitchers for six months. It continues to have these stunning sprays of flowers. I’ll note the buds that remind me of shooting stars or birds taking flight and try not to mind so much how I miss those pitchers.
 Mind-Less Monday continues to remind me to focus on what is important to bring to mind and and what I should mind less, much less.