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Posts Tagged ‘self-awareness’

Sometimes you can’t see yourself clearly until you see yourself through the eyes of others. (Ellen DeGeneres)  

Sometimes. When that other person’s eyes belong to someone with insight. Vision is a process.

What is true about anyone? Actions, reactions, facial expressions are reflections of the other person. Coming toward. Going away. The eyes of others can be limited. My social, human-child creature got lost in taunting and going away.

My parents lived in the virtue of the rock-solid ten commandments. The spirit of the words carried power; as words etched in stone they were impenetrable rock. Visionless. Missing the gift of human touch.

Many years later I learned I was not alone. As the holes in lace are what create its beauty, as negative space in art is part of a work’s design, the final product, known as me, developed. Bloomed.

My senior status gains another year tomorrow. Friends surprised me with a mini celebration on Tuesday. Lemon pie with fresh fruit, created on a day when K’s air-conditioning decided it didn’t want to work in 90-degree weather. A pair of socks with a gracious message from M.

My message to anyone reading this blog today: May you see beyond your image in the mirror. It is backward anyway. May you know you were born with a purpose. And love fits somewhere in your definition as a social human creation. Pass it on…

Peace.

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screened vision

(screened vision, black and white, not easily read and slightly off-center)

The most important thing is to be whatever you are without shame. (Rod Steiger)

Even if I had the X-ray vision of the Superman I watched long before flat-screened TV and Netflix, I doubt I could understand human motivation. Friendships with the folk who share a similar sense of empathy, are easy. Those who can’t see a relationship between weapons and death, are difficult for me to figure out.

Someone I know tells a story about direct experience with an individual wielding a gun—at her. No pause for recognition of her experience, the person she tells continues with a statistics-game. No awareness of the damage done by violence.

Yet, this man is worthwhile, genuine in what he does. I have no intention of turning away from him. Argument proves nothing.

A photo taken through a screen isn’t the same as a picture taken in the cold and ice—as it develops. The picture isn’t the same as the photographed space.

Life continues without a set pattern. I need to be who I am, speak my own truth and respect the truth of another. Sometimes this respect is as difficult as seeing through two separate screens, made of vastly different experiences.

Peace. Five letters, each one separated by centuries of misunderstanding. Nevertheless, an essential goal. For all.

 

 

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November tree 2017It’s never too late – in fiction or in life – to revise. (Nancy Thayer)

A windstorm hit the Midwest last week. I would have sworn every red, yellow, and gold leaf would be blown from its branch—possibly with part of the tree still attached. Most of the deciduous trees are winter-bare, not all of them.

Determination remains in all areas of existence.

I’m working on some edits. For someone else. I have a short deadline. Working on it away from home seems like the best approach because my house looks like the storm snuck inside, then, continued to create further havoc.

Moreover, Thanksgiving celebrations continue before and after the official Thursday. I enjoy cooking with fresh vegetables as well as baking without mixes. However, instant-prepare has an appeal for good reason. Packages take less time. Less clean-up.

So, why don’t I use them? I can’t fit as much love into ready-made. So, why can’t I take this time and put a little bit of me into the pages in front of me? If I didn’t care about this project, I wouldn’t help.

I take off my shoes and climb into a comfy chair. My husband is taking a class in another room. I make use of the time and work as I wait.

A tree sways in the wind outside the front window. Golden leaves sparkle against the blue sky.

One more revision begins. In expectation, copy-editing, and perspective.

 

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I think self-knowledge is the rarest trait in a human being. (Elizabeth Edwards)

Instead of buying cards for my husband, I make them. Simple, fashioned from photos. Personal, displayed for just the two of us to share. He taped the most recent ones along our bedroom windowsills.

In one of my designed-for-him creations, is a picture of the two of us at our wedding reception. We look more than a tad younger—because we were.

In my mind, I speak to that young bride accepting a bite of cake from her new spouse, as she offers a bite to him. Gently.

Intellectually, I knew I wouldn’t be twenty-five forever, but the turn of the century was more years away than I had already lived. An eternity from a new bride’s perspective.

You have an…I pause…interesting road ahead.

No way could a photo of a long-ago-me hear my thoughts, and yet I feel a sudden urge to protect this former image, as if a flat scanned photo had listening power. Not everyone who attended my wedding would be alive as time moved through inevitable days and years. I would lose parents, cousins, aunts, uncles, friends. A pulmonary embolism in my lung would bring life-long change.

This young-bride-me didn’t know what crises would arise, what joys or challenges. I thought I was strawberry-blonde hair and a well-shaped, pain-free body. (My hair is the only thing that remains remotely the same.) However, wonder also awaited. Two sons. Grandchildren. The joy of art and words. New friends. Love for my husband that reaches deeper than romance.

“Hey, just enjoy the moment,” I say. “As fully as possible. Celebrate who you are, and who your husband is.”

The phone rings—one of my newer friends. “In fact, I think I’ll follow that advice right now.”

picture taken in the Redwood Forest during a California vacation

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Change yourself to change the world. Keep it personal today. (Horoscope for Taurus, February 25)

I usually read my horoscope in the daily newspaper, not because it rules my day. I’m curious. Sometimes the advice is so vague it could fit any situation; other times it fits in an odd serendipitous way—like accidentally opening a how-to book to the right page—without effort.

Last night my husband and I went to a fun, well-attended family wedding. I noticed we were seated at a table with relatives who have polar political views. Yet, we did not discuss them. We shared our love for one another. Our lives as they are. I felt blessed. When we separated, I experienced a sense of loss, a longing to see these good people again as soon as possible.

If we had delved into our differences, I suspect the bond could have been tested. The differences need mending. Among families and in the world. However, the breaks can’t be healed in a single discussion. They can’t be adjusted within the us-versus-them void.

Have I changed my mind about laws that affect the poor, the immigrant, the marginalized? Absolutely not. That does not mean I need to react with name-calling. What I say reflects who I am. May the power of the written and spoken word add healing, not pain. Eventually…

can-we-risk-peace

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Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. (Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.)

I am in a small circle of friends, sixteen people today. We have religious roots. Some of us cling to them more than others. However, dogma doesn’t come up in our sharing. It is secondary. Spirituality, how-we-live, is another matter. One woman in our group has brought her daughter and six-month-old grandson.

As expected, he steals the show. I pull out my iPad to sneak a picture as he points to the words in a songbook. However, my library of photos is overfull. No picture happens. A message appears: Go to settings and… This moment will need to stay in my memory. Perhaps, even better, I will need to find meaning in what is happening now, over and beyond a cute pic.

I consider the baby’s innocence. As we sing, share, pray, he brightens even more, his sweet smile blessing all of us. We discourage political discussion—particularly in depth—less as a set rule than as a directive. We are on the same page politically anyway. Rants prove nothing. We try to work toward peace, toward being peace.

Quiet acceptance and encouragement refreshes my spirit. I suspect baby felt that presence long before I did. It allowed him to goo and coo his acceptance of the much older folk in the circle.

Yes, prejudice and hate masquerade as virtues: taking a few incidents and calling limited evidence the whole, posing as victim. However, pointing out another person’s flaws rarely helps. Most folk have an instant defense system. Closed ears, open mouth, or both.

Now, how to love in a world where hate is the norm? That question may take more than a lifetime or two to answer.

one light, a beginning

photo taken from my iPad (Yes, I finally accomplished that small challenge.)

lit-candle

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Life is like a landscape. You live in the midst of it, but can describe it only from the vantage point of distance. (Charles A. Lindbergh)

Strange how memories hit when they are least expected. I’m looking into the mirror at my 69-year-old self. I remember seeing the same younger face at least 53 years earlier. The scene is in my parents’ bedroom at my mother’s vanity. And I’m trying to turn my thin, curl-resistant hair into the bouffant my peers wear. I know nothing about regularly scheduled haircuts. That could help. But the money for such frivolities isn’t in the family budget.

However, the expression I recall is not mine but my mother’s, reflected behind me. She’s exasperated with her superficial daughter, focused on appearance. I admit the color is fine, a bright strawberry blond, but the gold never reaches below the follicles, into my scalp, into my being. I believe what my classmates have told me since first grade. I am the outsider. The kid with names that come with a taunt.

Mom complains that she has taught me to be a larger-minded girl, a Ten-Commandments person. I cut my rant short, but a deeper less-than has set in. I put down both the comb and my own sense of self as well.

My mother did what she believed was right. I don’t blame her. On an intellectual level she had a point. However, perspective needs to be discovered through example and experience, not imposed.

Now I look into the mirror in my own bedroom. My hair is cut short to avoid a need to style. I no longer care about beauty. Don’t ask me about fashion; I don’t follow the trends. And I don’t apologize for my wrinkles. They carry experience. Some of that experience continues to be incredible. Some of it cracked me more than I want to admit. Some of what-I-carry-from-the-past involved others’ hurts. And I couldn’t always help.

But the holes are what create the beauty in lace, the negative space in art, the places that force a person to recognize need. The cracks are where the light shines through. And I’m not sure I am sorry about the difficult times. They taught me to look into the eyes of another person and see more similarities than differences.

Moreover, I had good friends along the way. I meet with some of them every week—others less often. But I know I am not alone. Not an outcast. The notion is an illusion.

I have learned to rewrite the script and speak for a mother who didn’t know what to say, to ask questions to get to the real issues. “Yes, I know this is important to you now. However, this is the gift I see in this moment…”

Then, perhaps, any mirror could reflect more than an image that appears backwards, and permit possibilities. I can’t say I know where they will go. I don’t. Today’s landscape shows no more than a few clouds along the horizon, never within reach, always changing. Always, always changing.

beauty of the broken

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