Tag Archive for vulnerability

Pleas and Thank Yous

rose.collage

After my morning ritual of journaling the cobwebs from my head, stretching the cricks from my joints, then feeding my body tea, fruit and grain, I felt jaunty, ready to go.

As I passed my desk, I noticed a text from an inner circle friend sharing that a mutual friend had suddenly passed away.

Instinctively, I sat down.  I stared at the screen’s stark words.  I knew my friend was hurting, too, yet the words seemed so flat on the phone.  Maybe it’s not true, I begged.  I read them over and over trying out every interpretation to deny the obvious as I felt my energy sink from the top of my head into a dense lump below my stomach.

Suddenly processing another significant loss, I recalled Mother’s Day just weeks before, the first since Mom died last October.  Getting ready to drive to my hometown and join the family, something had set me off, and my ‘stuff’ had risen and roared.  I called another inner circle friend who listened, allowed me to be mad, suggested ideas, then consoled while cajoling me to a happier, healing place.  I felt better, the rolling boil reduced to a steaming simmer.  Then she gently asked, “Have you written a letter to your mother telling her how much you miss her?”

Tears welled, and I could hardly take the breath to say ‘thanks’ before hanging up.  I slumped into my desk chair and through my puddled vision, found the home keys.

“Dear Momma…”

After wrapping up the letter, I sat spent.  I rested, but soon scolded myself for being a writing coach to others, yet I hadn’t identified what I needed.  I’d journaled about Mom all week acknowledging the significance of the coming holiday, but didn’t reach the core of complete expression, much less release.  Like when I encountered a display of Mother’s Day cards at the grocery store, felt the onset of pain and quickly pushed my buggy around the glaring truth, the overture was obvious.  Still, I pleaded for the opposite, politely notating the incident in my journal without divining its essence.

Putting avoidance and perfection aside, I finally spotted the depth of my hurt, as well as the stealthy way I’d skirted around it, and then wrote and nurtured myself.  Simultaneously, I gave thanks to Mom for all the love she’d shared and lessons she’d taught, to my friend for her compassionate encouragement, and to myself for opening again to full expression and accepting guidance.

Now, in the chair with phone still in hand, I sat with my present loss.  I had lost a new friend, someone I knew for only a year, but one who expanded my heart and broadened my thinking while providing safety for me to share, ask personal questions, as well as listen to her truth.  I had bonded with her kind, unassuming spirit, a unique presence draped with honor and love.

Recently, I pondered plans to spend time deepening our friendship into the inner circle.  Unexpectedly, all that remained were memories of someone special who gave so much in such a brief time.rose.petals

So, I asked myself the question, “Can I tell her how much she meant to me and how much I will miss her?”  I put down my phone and ceremonially placed fingers on home keys.  My breathing deepened, my eyes dampened, and with courage and gratitude, I listened, and my mourning ritual began.

“Dear Shauna…”

Spring Forward

jonquilsNature sprouts.

People go outside their homes, put on shorts, take off shirts, dig in dirt, jump in water, and feel gleeful in the renewed warmth.

After being cooped up, personal media shifts to in-person.  They look over fences, tender a wave, and greet on the street.  Maybe, just maybe, after their sequestration by winter weather, their eager attitude forces phrases from their mouths that they might not have let fly before.  Then, many stop cold, suddenly frozen in doubt.

Does the first flower of spring stop to assess the sunshine?  It just feels the warmth and grows toward it.  Does the grass quiver with the thought of the oncoming lawnmower, or rise high to the sky?  And does the Robin ponder long where to dig for the worm, or does the bird land and begin pecking?

Spring, the season of rebirth, signals Earth’s abundance, an unfolding of natural expression.

Do you feel inspired to shed fears, dig deeper, risk new relationships, and let more of your true self out?

Thaw and sprout.  Feel free as you reflect honestly with even just one someone new in a face2face relationship.

 

Dead Air or Well-fed Relationship?

mother-daughter

“Just the headlines!” Paige demanded, interrupting me with more brass than a marching band.

I’d known her game through years of friendship.  As a retired broadcaster, she gets impatient with lengthy descriptions.

“Okay, okay!”  I feigned defeat, waited for her reaction, then went right back to telling the same story, only faster.

She tilted her head back into her thick mane, pursed her lips and squinted her eyes in submission.  If uninterrupted, I knew I had her for another ninety seconds.

Too soon, her phone vibrated on the table like a half-dead locust.  She diverted her gaze as she picked it up.  That’s when I stopped.

“It’s Peri,” she said beginning to text her daughter, then, without looking up or missing a keystroke, she added, “I can multitask.  Continue.”

I didn’t, preferring to wait for her full attention.  Instead, I watched her focus on making a point in minimal words.  Those two text all the time, talk on the phone weekly, and keep a strong face-to-face relationship at least once per month.  Each mode of communication enhances the relationship.  Paige views texting like keeping an eye on the ticker crawling across the bottom of the news channel, whereas phone calls are news programming, and being together is the up-close-and-personal unedited interview.

Texting complete, Paige looked up with faux irritation.  “Go on.”

And I did.  It was my turn under the network lights.

That doesn’t happen for me all the time.  I think of Hal, a buddy who texts occasionally, but when I return it, especially if I ask a simple question about how he’s doing, there’s dead air.  When I see him, he doesn’t share much either.  He gives out soundbytes like Halloween candy, a sweet little tidbit before smiling and closing the door leaving me outside.

Another acquaintance from years ago, Fiona, loved talking on the phone, so I rarely saw her personally.  Her modus operandi for gathering and disseminating information was simple:  share  a little to break the ice, ask leading questions, and get the juiciest morsel.  When she heard a gossipy soundbyte, her mind raced to an internal rolodex to determine who to call while the person finished the story and asked for support.  Like what happened to Marla sharing her heartbreak. gossip.girl

“You’ll be fine,” Fiona snapped.

“But I hoped—“

“Someone’s beeping in.  Call you tomorrow.”  Fiona got what she wanted and disconnected.

When tomorrow came, Marla didn’t hear from Fiona, but heard her brutally edited story from someone she never would have told.  Marla felt manipulated and betrayed by Fiona’s over simplification, which added to her pain.

Where’s personal reflection and honest interaction?   Hal hides it away from everyone, maybe even from himself.  Fiona fakes it and feeds off it from a distance over the wire.  None of this is new in our culture of mass communication, ever-increasing information, and survival-mode summarization.  Still, our fondness for using electronic devices instead of having face-to-face contact where we can sense emotional reaction and read nonverbal communication leaves something big out of the conversation.  Many feel the loss.  Some mourn it.

Though my friend Paige is sometimes anxious to get to the point, she still wants to experience the journey.  She loves the interpersonal, is integral within a large community, as well as treats family and friends with equal care.  She’s laughs, cries and hugs it out with her wide circle.  Paige achieves this by balancing written and verbal communication, as well as by integrating text, social media, Skype, phone calls and personal contact to nurture rich, rewarding relationships in today’s hurried world.

Soundbytes are simply a tease.  Headlines are just an invitation.  With the important people in your life, do you want to nourish relationships with nibbles or five-course meals?  And what would you like to consume to feel nurtured and satisfied?

 

Disclaimer:  It’s true: writers write what they know, and, yes, I write from my experiences.  However, all characters and situations in my stories are fictitious fusions, creative amalgamations.  Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, or real interactions with me are purely coincidental.

Baby Present

babySo here I am…a man who never had younger siblings, a man without a child, a man who’s never changed a diaper and gets paranoid around babies…and I’m having lunch with a dear friend and meeting her five-month old son.  I said the standard things — “he’s so cute,” “what a good baby,” “are you getting any sleep?” — yet I felt my heart begin to open up to him.

As my friend and I discussed our lives over the past months beginning with the heavy adult stuff, mostly the changes, the difficulties, the newness, I kept being pulled in by the baby.  I turned back to my friend and shared about my Mom’s passing, felt heartfelt, tearful, then he would catch my eye, and I’d suddenly communicate with him in a silly voice with a rubbery facial expression somewhat surprising myself.  His whole face beamed gleefully, his delight just spilling over.  There was absolutely no way my mood could stay down for long because he kept pulling me into the magic moment alive in the present.

The world was brand new to him – the noise made when swirling a straw in a glass of water and crushed ice; the taste of the ear of the teddy bear I’d brought him, one that fit so perfectly into his teeny mouth; his soulful chocolate-colored eyes exploring my face as I explored his.

All this felt strangely familiar to me, but I couldn’t place it.  Then it hit me the next day when I was leading a writing seminar and I spoke of that moment when a writer puts her work out to a friend, a writing group or the whole wide world.  It’s like putting their infant on the table for discussion, scrutiny, perhaps ridicule.  And like a good parent, she wonders if it will be healthy.  Will it be safe?

I’ve had the honor of cradling and nurturing many writers’ cherished works, their babies, in my hands, transferring new ideas and skills as I placed the baby back into the loving arms of their birth parent.  I’ve midwifed many into creation, encouraging the writer to breathe into the process, then at the ideal moment to push.  And I’ve received the gift of witnessing as they send their completed work, grown but still their child, out into the world.  I assured them it was time for the offspring to live its own life before gently nurturing that writer back to the blank page to coax another idea into being.

As I ate and my friend fed the baby boy a bottle, I dreamed he will have a long life of interweaving plots, solid growth through manageable conflict and lessons bringing resolution while existing in safe settings and meeting vibrant characters along the way.

I am eager to be a part of this.  And the next time I see him, just like I do with my writing, I will get over my inexperience, try something brand new, and move beyond simply stroking his amazing hair while he lies in the baby seat.  I will get my hands on him and hold him, and encourage his story…and mine.

Affirm:  I see the world anew and move beyond fear into the innocent possibility of the moment.  I try something fresh.  I encourage my growth, my own story, by writing.