My version of peace

My version of peace

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Heart Talk

I just watched "Despicable Me II."  As I continue through out my week, the visual images of purple ferocious minions sticks in my minds eye.  The sight of a small creature, stressed to capacity; eyes tweaking, hair that looks like a perm gone horribly wrong, barely holding back ability to attack whatever is in its path, continues to make me chuckle.  Not because I find such a sight enjoyable, but because I think of what being really stressed can look like, and I wonder if sometimes I end up looking like a waddling, frizzy, snarling thing, all out of sorts and ready to lash out if pushed one bit further.  My eye tweaks sometimes.  I wonder if that is an indication of stress.  It's really annoying.  
Maybe I don't end up looking quite so extreme when I am feeling overwhelmed with, oh you know...LIFE, but I do experience tell tale signs of the presence of... let's call it "tension."  
My heart gets really tight and achey.  It's a deep ache.  The kind that is hard to shake.  Usually as I get through my work day, the ache subsides as do the demands of the day.  It's mostly something that I find myself pressing through, dealing with...but not really.  Mostly, just waiting for the symptoms to subside.  I think most of us have come to accept stress and the experience that comes with it, as a "normal" part of life, and just something that we must endure and push through.  The slogan, "No pain, no gain," comes to mind.  And yes, while some stress can be productive and helpful, often ignoring what our body or mind is trying to tell us can be harmful.  
What is my heart trying to tell me?  What am I ignoring?  I've been asking myself these questions lately.    Something is not right.  Perhaps it never will be completely right.  Maybe that is the state of things.  Maybe my heart knows that things are not quite as they should be and will continue to remind me of this.  

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Putting out fires...Just a day in the life...

"My gloves melted as I held them over the propane heater, and then Peggy's robe caught on fire.  Don't worry, we managed to put her out."  Not something that you exactly expect to hear, but then again, in the life of my mother, it may as well be a regular day of running errands.  You can check that off the list.  Catching on fire?  Oh yeah, been there...done that!  In those moments when my mother relays stories from her day to day life experience, I catch snippets of her perspective; a perspective that takes time to appreciate humor, finds amusement in the little things, and honors the stories of her personal experience by sharing them with others.  
Often I notice myself cringing when asked the question, "How are you," or "Anything new going on?" I freeze, go blank, and make some last ditch comment about the weather or a busy work week.  In those moments, I ignore my own authentic stories, the ones that really matter to me.  I fear that the person asking won't appreciate them, or doesn't really want a detailed answer anyway.  I assume that my stories are not interesting enough to catch the interest of someone else.  And I compensate by turning the conversation around, and I start asking questions about the other person.  Tricky move.  It's safer to be in the listening seat.  I find myself there often.  
Why does that happen?  Why do I lack confidence in my own stories? Does anyone else feel this way?   How do we make safe space for each other to share our valuable experiences?  These are questions that I ask myself.  Obviously it isn't healthy to swing to the opposite side of the spectrum and spill all your deepest thoughts to the entire universe.  However, I think taking pride in personal experience, in daily life events, however small that they are, is something that is worthwhile.  It makes me stop and think about how I approach others in conversation.  Do I create safe space for others to share a humorous or significant detail that they would like to share from their lives?  What am I missing out on when I don't take time to ask?  Do I notice when it might not be a good time to ask...  for example, striking up conversation with the person in the neighboring bathroom stall at the mall, might not be the best time.  I'll still try to be socially appropriate.  But hopefully a little braver.  Life is much more interesting when we share anyway.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Bon Iver Christmas

"I love this part." It warms my heart to hear four year old Nadia say those words about a Bon Iver song. She's got good taste if I do say so myself.  The song is playing in the car as the three of us set out; Ben, myself, and Nadia, to do some christmas light searching.  As the song reaches a glorious crescendo, Nadia blurts out, "We have to sing loud Christina!  We have to sing with the trumpets!"  Christmas suddenly appears in that moment, accompanied by holy sounds of Bon Iver, and the clash of Christmas lights decorating various neighborhood homes.  It is a brilliant moment.  And I am reminded to glory in that moment, to take it slow, and to marvel at the Santa "Jack in the Box" that stands in our neighbors yard amidst their collection of other "christmas goodies" on display.  Sometimes this time of year can feel a little overwhelming.  Stepping into a mall can feel like sipping a vanilla,  double chocolate frappacino with extra caramel and whip cream.  Sickeningly sweet.  You can cut the air with Mrs. Claus's knitting needles, the atmosphere thick with the sounds of rushing shoppers frantically running into Hallmark or See's Candy to find something to send to Great Aunt Gertrude.  In these moments of feeling overrun with the Yuletide bustle, I usually just console myself with an Auntie Annie's butter and salt pretzel and call it good. Merry Christmas to me.
I guess the point I am getting at is I was thankful last night to have a four year old redirect my attention to the things that matter, to the things that make this season special, like spending time with two people that I love very much, finding beauty in the light displays, and making some sense out of the chaos that occurs on a daily basis in this life.  And those Christmas lights really are a beauty to behold on these nights where the cold bites your bones.  I shouldn't judge when I see a tacky light display paired with a tasteless blow-up Santa and Raindeer.  Even though I usually go for a classy snowglobe yard display myself, I can recognize that at least that household decided to shed some more light in the neighborhood.  Light that drives away some of the deep dark.  Yes, tacky christmas lights can do that.