Cycle turns

flowergarden

I am an untended garden, riddled with forget-me-nots and weeds

My earth has not been furrowed asunder; tilling life to the topsoil

I have grown fallow, un-supporting of life, but yet, there are some

perennials that cling to a hope of return, of vibrancy dallying

But I can only roll over in my floral nightgown, whimpering in my bed

allowing the blistering son to scorch my once glorious stance

I admit, I’ve become self-watering. I needn’t wait for the gardener

My groans of grief roil the soil, creating bitter roots exposed as lies

Everyone knows that when the earth laughs, people die.

She accepts their bodies back to her world, but I could still breathe

so I am not granted respite from the overabundant fertilizer spewed

over my once lush landscape. But, I will rise, for the weeds can’t hang on

when I forbid grasping of my rooted passion for life. Here she comes

the one that removes the rot with compassionate hands.

Here he comes, the one that scratches that spot in the very middle

She tends to me while singing lightly a childhood song forgotten

He digs deep with his grip, releasing the tainted, blighted plants

She opens the earth to expose me to the warmth of attention

He plants perennial seeds to grow through the coming seasons.

I inhale deeply, knowing that my rebirth will again grow fruitful.

My cycle continues in ample countenance to their loving attention.

I await my own fruition. I will grant only the very best of myself

to create the most beautiful garden I can create. This, is why I weep.

Opinion: Rev. Morrill addresses ‘Black Lives Matter’

This past July, a church committee requested a new message on the electronic sign, which faces the Oak Ridge Turnpike. The message they requested was “Black Lives Matter.” The board of the Oak Ridge Unitarian Universalist Church, or ORUUC, voted to approve it, and the message was added to the sign’s series of scrolling messages.

Source: Opinion: Rev. Morrill addresses ‘Black Lives Matter’

The young man and “The Pensive Woman”

The Pensive Woman, 1932 by a German Artist (I can't find the name of the artist)

The Pensive Woman, 1932 by a German Artist (I can’t find the name of the artist)

I rounded the corner from bronze dipped metal spoons that didn’t stir my soul

to observe a lost lamb separated by his emotions from the flock of chittering as a whole.

He stood slouched, small dreads pointing to the sky, bandana tied artfully at his temple

staring at the sculpture trying to understand something I couldn’t see; Sentimental?

I greeted him with gentle voice, encouraging interaction. I explained without pause

“I was in the other room observing several that didn’t move me because

The spirit requires recognition of matching vibrancy to vibrate frequently

Why this one? What drew you to her?” I asked the young man evenly.

He thought quick, deeply, spoke with certainty, “She’s so sad.”

“When art speaks to me, it speaks in bright colors because I’m, as a rule, glad.

Do you understand her sadness, too? She was created by a German in 1932.”

He wavered momentarily as his emotions washed his face quickly, efficiently.

For a moment, I thought I’d lost him as I waited patiently.

“She reminds me of how I felt when I learned my father had passed away.

I locked myself in my room, curled in a ball and cried to myself all day.

That he was gone was hard enough, it went against my every plan,

but I remember wondering, “Who’s going to teach me to be a man?”

His eyes looked at me just like hers. I gave him “Always Beautiful” as I abided

“You are not alone.” I comforted in synonymous tone as he’d confided.

He smiled while hefting the weight of a million gallons of un-cried tears

that will ebb and flow

wax and wane

light and darken his years.

I loved him deeply, truly

in all his pensive human beauty

as much as I admired that German artist of 1932

accidentally gifting me that one on one in bronzed blues.

These Are My People: ORUUC

Oak Ridge Unitarian Universalist Church, Oak Ridge, Tennessee

Oak Ridge Unitarian Universalist Church, Oak Ridge, Tennessee

I’m not a religious person. I don’t classify or call myself anything in particular except maybe leaning towards spiritual. It’s not because I don’t believe in “something” but because I see validity is so much. A few years ago, I felt a strong push as I heard a loud voice tell me to go to the ORUUC. Over the course of two years I found the family I’d been promised by the winds. They didn’t come in the shapes, sizes, or ages I expected, but there is not a doubt in my heart or soul they are my blood kin.

From the youngest children, such as Rayn, to the oldest of children such as Miss Marge, I was blessed with knowing, learning, and understanding some of the most beautiful people I could have asked for. Outside of the confines of the church there were some people whom could meet my level of tomfoolery, but never in my adult life have I found the encouragement to be everything I was meant to be as I did there.

But how can I say that an entire church is my family? A church? It hardly seems possible. What I learned from them, will follow me everywhere I go because I value the life-lessons I was given.

Be Passionate

When I first started going to the Unitarian Universalist Church, I was wisely advised to take my time in selecting what I wanted to do because everything has passionate players. They weren’t kidding. I watched the different volunteer positions to see which I felt I could be enthusiastically involved with. I discovered I loved to greet people, loved to protect, and loved to serve. I ended up joining the safety team, co-leading the hosts and greeters, as well as serving as fifth Sunday usher. I even did coffee a couple times. Find what you’re passionate about and without excuse or what-if’s, jump in and do it.

Learn Names

One of my favorite things to do on a Sunday morning was to be greeter. I have a knack for remembering the names with faces I see often. I could greet nearly everyone in our medium sized congregation by name as they approached the door. That I could do that, hug them, welcome them, demonstrated I truly was glad to see them. Learning people’s name that you see every day no matter who they are is key to discovering some of the coolest people you might never had opportunity of doing so if not for that small effort. When you remember people’s names, they know that someone in the world knows they exist. I believe that’s crucial to mental health.

Talk is cheap, Action is richer

Many times I’d listen to people in the neighborhood where I lived talking about how unhappy they were with where they lived (I was one of them for a while), their circumstances, their addictions, their kids, the etc. What I noticed was that none of them were doing anything to change any of that. They just noted it sucked but continued the same behaviors. I learned that it’s okay to complain because, really, that’s just an acknowledgment that an issue exists.

Once you’ve realized there is a problem, making a difference is the only way that problem will go away. You can kick sand over it, behave like an ostrich, or pretend it doesn’t exist, but once you know it’s there, it’s the Universe’s way of nudging you to make it better. Terry Goodkind wrote in his Sword of Truth series (loosely quoted), “You already know what the problem is, think of the solution.”

I saw solutions pouring out of the people at ORUUC far more than I saw problems. It was the most collaborative group of people I’ve ever worked with. Even when hackles got ruffled, which happens in any large group, everyone worked to make sure that the final solution was a balance. Do what you need to do to bring the positive changes into the world because happiness is worth it.

Fool for love

Pastor Jake Morrill’s closing words for the services he gives are ones I took to heart. He says, “Be pilgrims for justice and fools for love!” What profoundly simple words with such an enormous responsibility behind them. If he chose a different closing, I’d walk away rather bummed because I truly took on the challenge when he would use it.

I believe we should all fall madly in love with the world every day. No excuses, just open your eyes and fall. Even the people or things that irk your sensibilities the most are worthy of love. It’s not for you to choose who is okay or what is okay to love, just do it.

I’m not in any way implying that you can’t have preferences, nor that you should eliminate safety measures for the sake of love. I’m saying that when you look at the world as if it were your intimate lover and you its muse, you’ll find a different kind of kismet with the divinity that is everything; The atom of begin times, the eve of creation.

To clarify, I call everything the Universe, because as a rule, we can all agree there is one. If I called the Universe God, then that specific version that you know/doubt/reject/hate/don’t believe in, would negate this idea. BUT! If I call it the Universe, we can meet at whatever version of that ultimate we accept.

Using this idea, be the fool for love because love has a transformational magic that can be witnessed where two hearts meet in unison. Thus, if you’re falling madly in love with the world every breath you take, does it not then make sense that love will rule your world? And further that love will light your path to happiness because love doesn’t hurt? Indeed. As I was taught by those who love me there, be that fool for love.

A village

A short while before I moved away, I received an email that reminded the Sunday volunteers of the roles they promised to step in to fill. A reply to that email was astounded at the amount of people that took responsibility to make the service appear to be without effort. It made me giggle a bit because I was actively involved in the volunteer activities. I knew how many people it took because of that.

Sidenote: My husband would get really frustrated with me because I’d try to do way more than my body could handle. He’d have to verbally remind me, “Mare, you’re not Atlas. You don’t have to do everything yourself.”

It’s the same when facing life’s many challenges (like moving out of state with a weeks notice). You’re not Atlas. Just like sharing your great experiences with your friends, sharing burdens makes them easier to bear as well. Nothing limits you to only putting on your good face. Being a human with All The Bumpy Bits is by far more deeply satisfying overall in my experience. When you find people willing to be human with you, that’s a rare and beautiful gift. Shine for them even from your darkest places. It’s worth it.

There are so many lessons I’ve learned from the beautiful people I am honored enough to call my friends at ORUUC that I couldn’t possibly cover it in one writing. I hope you will bear with me as I process this tremendous life shift. Together we can be incredible humans together on this wild journey called life.

Four Healing Helping Guides: TRIGGER WARNING

How we walk with the broken speaks louder than how we sit with the great.

How we walk with the broken speaks louder than how we sit with the great.

There was a long time in my life when I was called broken. No matter how much I screamed my denials to anyone who would listen, I was, indeed, broken. I was a child who believed in love when there was consistency but not when there was disappointment. I was conditioned to believe in betrayal, horrific plots against my personal safety, but worse yet, when those things went unheeded or unnoticed by my self incarcerated authentic being.

I’ve many times shared my stories, my poems, my grief over the loss of my childhood. I noticed there are themes at work among my purgings. I’m not a psychologist. I’m not a doctor. I’ve read extensively trying to understand, “Why?” For me, these are things that have worked.

Give Permission to Yourself to Grieve

There is no right way to grieve. There is no time limit. There aren’t any set in stone management techniques that apply to everyone. But, if you don’t allow yourself to grieve over the very real, very true, loss of time, safety, comfort, betrayal of trust, anger, hostility, and the myriad of emotions, then you’re not allowing yourself to be human. Grieving is a key to healing. It allows a walk through those emotions that, as a child, you weren’t able to process. In essence, you’re teaching yourself to again feel.

Process the Feelings Individually

Because, when you begin to heal there are so many emotions, it can be extremely overwhelming. I was misdiagnosed with bipolar, clinical depression, anger issues, and anxiety, and finally, accurately diagnosed with Non-combat PTSD. I suffered from major depressions for much of my early adult life.

At one point I suffered so much I developed agoraphobia which kept me locked in a room for months. If my friend hadn’t realized that my isolation was causing me to plan suicide, I wouldn’t be here writing this. Without her intervention, a forced promise to talk to a doctor the very next day, I wouldn’t be here.

ALL the emotions must be met with compassion for oneself. I had to look at it as, “What if I were comforting someone going through everything I am right now?” I’d talk to my mirror self, coaxing gentle thoughts when I was afraid. I could sit with myself and be as angry as I wanted to. I could hate myself if I felt the need, but compassion towards this “other” person was necessary. I had to rethink how I’d approach someone who was hurting so deeply, then adjust my behavior towards myself. Sometimes I’d look like a lunatic talking out loud to myself negotiating “me” off the ledge of despair or frustration. It was necessary. I had to feel what I’d forgotten in order to remember.

Fear is a Liar

One of the hardest things I’ve ever faced was the demons in my darkness. The places where I squirm uncomfortably because I did, said, or acted in a way that was not becoming to how I see myself. Example: My grandmother had the same color skin I did when it came to makeup. I was out. She was not. I took it. Even with my hands red with lies, I denied it. I swore up and down it was mine. Nobody believed me. (*) Can’t imagine why! (*)=Sarcasm Alert (btw) Yeah, that’s not a big one, but I don’t steal. I know better. I knew better. I did it anyway.

As I write about it now, it seems so trivial. It was a stupid thing I did. But, it made me afraid to tell the darker things in my life. It made me fear that if I told about my sexual abuse I wouldn’t be believed either. Because we can all see how stealing something and sexual abuse are related right? I could. Fear held me captive for far too many years. It became such a part of my life that I was suffocated by its “good” intentions. I was wrong. It kept me from living as I was meant to. It kept me from love. It kept me from light. But most of all, it kept me from finding personal grace.

When I realized fear was holding me back, I decided to change that. I started talking about my demons. I started disclosing the cobwebbed ideas that I’d held hostage under the guise that people would judge or hate me. I had to purge my closets. I had to release it. And holy cow was a scared to death! But, as with the next section, once I lopped off the ugliness and embraced me, allowed fear to fall away, I discovered I was okay. That people still loved me, still liked me, still talked to me, and I felt a freedom that I’d only fantasized about through much of my young adult life.

You Have Always Been Worthy

You are worth of love. You are worthy of compassion. You are worth a beautiful life. You are worth happiness. You are worth being every moment who you were born to be. Others may have attempted to steal away your being, but once you’ve decided to heal, as with ceasing any negative behavior, repeating positive messages to yourself when you “hear” the bad things you’ve been told is crucial.

Your inherent beauty is and always has been within you. You don’t have to believe me. You can write this off as new age fluff if you want to, but I know this is true. I see it in people who have no idea how very wonderful they are. There are people who are so confident in their very nature that they exude a sense of light from every action. You know those people. The ones that no matter how crappy your day is, just seeing them, hearing from them, or being with them makes you smile. A small secret here. YOU ARE THAT PERSON! I kid you not.

Understand that those voices, my beloved human, are not real. When you close your mind to the outside and listen to your spirit, you will know this to be true. You are new. You are whole. You are everything you’re meant to be. It’s up to you to decide you want your life to be love. It’s up to you to decide if you are worthy. I assure you, my dearest friend, you are. You really, truly, without a shadow of doubt, are that light of love.

The Suitcase

“You just don’t waltz into and out of people’s lives.” I found this quote in a podcast/article by a man I respect very deeply. The entire script and podcast is found HERE.

A happy suitcase wearing a hat

A happy suitcase wearing a hat

I’ve moved all over the country. Up until I got to Oak Ridge, I’d never in my entire adult life lived in the same house for more than two years. Considering I’ll be 47, that’s not a good track record for stability or longevity but it’s also taught me a lot about change, leaving, and transitions.

Most of the time when I’ve become disgruntled, disheartened, or feeling a loss of hope are the precise times I’d pack up the bags either metaphorically or physically and set them by the door. It was not uncommon for me to check those bags periodically to see that they match my state of mind given whatever the situation I faced.

If I ended up in a relationship that I knew may end, I’d pack the bag and set it down because I knew it would fail. I knew that I couldn’t give my whole heart to anyone who wasn’t willing to love me back the way I needed. It might have been because they were violent or they were absent from the beginning, or even that they were afraid like me to give in to the commitment all the while longing for that connection. No matter the reason, there was always a pile of luggage (not baggage because that has to be lugged around), ready by the front door.

The point for me when I knew it was time to leave was the point when my heart was irreparably broken. It would happen when I knew and understood that no matter what was done or said from that moment forward “WE” could never fill that trust back up again. I’d lost hope, trust, and an ability to want to rebuild it at that point.

I try to be mindful of relationships. I struggle to maintain some that aren’t good for me. Some demand that no matter what is happening in my life that their life is far more important. It has never been about anyone else, but for them to be at that point is an astonishing progression from “I don’t matter at all”, so I try to be mindful of that. It becomes unhealthy.

I’ve tried to remain friends with people who can’t see any light, no matter how bright. They are so asleep in so many ways that the only time I’ve allowed them to re-enter my periphery is when they really are trying to make changes for the better in their lives. When they are actively seeking answers that I’d given them before, but either they weren’t ready to hear, or they needed to find without my guidance. I’m not claiming to be a guru or an expert, but I’ve messed up enough to know certain things in life.

I’ve tried to be the best I can be no matter who I’m around, but sometimes my best isn’t what someone else needs. Sometimes they need a broken person with horrible feelings of self esteem to coddle, take care of, feel needed by to make up their own value as a person. When they reject every good given, that’s when the dependent person feels lost, vulnerable, and without taking time can fall into a vicious cycle of begging to be taken back.

With each one of those, I’ve waltzed out at will and sometimes against my will, but they’ve all ended in one way or another. My packed suitcases were at the ready so the transition was easier but no less painful. I don’t like that I’ve had to, for whatever reason, walk away from various lives in my lifetime, but self-preservation has been worth it.

What I didn’t expect, after reading the article, was a glance to my door and a note that there weren’t any suitcases packed there waiting. Not a duffel bag or a backpack, not even a fanny pack laid up waiting for my itchy gypsy toes to want to hit the road. BUT WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?! And why do I feel a sudden jolt of panic?

I’m in a marriage where there is a level of reciprocity that I’ve never had despite fumbling intentions before that had all failed. I’m in a neighborhood that is distasteful, but where I find myself waving at people I like and know. People that I tell my stories to and they tell me theirs. I discovered a diamond and platinum spiritual home that has given me a stability of family that I’d been missing for eons but found on accident thanks to John Lennon and John Denver. I have friends interwoven in generational blankets of uplifting proportions that bring me to a place of stellar humbleness, gratitude, and the best teachers of compassion I’ve ever known besides my Bapa’s family.

I think it’s safe to say that sometimes that waltz from one life to the next is necessary to move into the house that will become your home. The home where suitcases are no longer necessary because it’s truly where your heart is born, grows, and can be found at any time.

These Are My People: Marge Swenson

aliciameninga

This is not Marge Swenson. This is my friend Alicia. I love this picture.

abstractmichigan

This is an abstract interpretation of the original picture, minus my friend Alicia. It was taken with my phone, so I apologize for the quality.

There she is with her cheeks shining diamond smiles

Her eyes laughing blue sparkles of periwinkle

She ripples with giggles that bubble fountain-like

Barely restrained by her excitement to honor her calling

I unquestioningly obey her request for open arms

I pull her close to me in spirit love and protection

Warmth and true affection.

“How are you today, my beautiful friend?”

She pushes me away but doesn’t release me

She looks up into my eyes declaring, “I love you, so much.”

We share mutual admiration, forever, for a moment.

I jest with her of how much I love to learn at her knee

To greet, to host, to welcome, to embrace our community.

She laughs at me as if I were the village idiot

I’m inept compared to her. She’s a Mistress of Greeters

I, her apostle.

When the torch is handed onward, I pray I can continue

To honor her beautiful spirit with jovial conviviality

That she displays with the grace of whispering breezes

The dance the spring time brings that blesses each blossom with life

In tandem with the warm embrace of the sun.

MargeSwenson

This is Marge Swenson. She’s one of my favorite people, hands down. She’s just lovely.