Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Integrity in the Little Moments

OK, we have to talk.

I was chatting with my mother the other day. She too, once upon a time, was married to a, shall we say, problematic man. He was my dad (and not just mine, of course... I shared him with all my siblings. Big of me, I know.) He was charming and handsome and absolutely, fundamentally, deep in his soul, unreliable. She later remarried, and to another handsome and charming man -who was absolutely reliable and true. She led him a merry chase, my mom did -mostly because she couldn't believe that anyone was as reliable as she needed a person to be.

I thought for years that I had done the Freudian thing of letting one's father define one's marriage partner- only in reverse. I had married, I thought, someone the exact opposite of my father (although the physical similarities are striking). Of course, that's not what happened at all.

I'm not at all interested in beginning another relationship. In fact, with no sadness (ok, not much) I think it's going to be my vocation, if you will, to be single. (This is about to segue into another blog post about how we need to re-think families and partnering and all sorts of things... reining myself in, you'll be glad to know.) But, as always, I am interested in learning from what's gone before.

I have these two spectacular examples of how to mess things up. OK, universe, I get it. I'm thinking about it. Neither one of them just decided (I'm guessing) to do one spectacularly deal-breaking wrong thing one day. Rather, they did little bitty wrong things again and again and again, until that stopped feeling weird or wrong. When the time came to make a bigger decision, the line one isn't supposed to cross was so far behind them that it no longer mattered. They may even have felt trapped and as though doing the hugely wrong thing was the only choice available.

The thing is, I have those choices to make every day too, and -like all of us- I don't always make the right choice. Those of us with problematic fathers and ex-husbands, though, get to lash ourselves with the "Oh no, I'm becoming my father" scourge. As my life gets busier and busier, I'm making more compromises. Mostly, I'm only breaking promises to myself.

The thing is, I don't think 'only' goes in that sentence. For one thing, I've now learned that I'm important enough that I deserve to have promises kept -even if I'm the one who made them. And secondly, breaking trust with anyone gets you to the point of feeling comfortable with that process.

I'm slipping in the integrity department, and I need to call the question. I need to do the things I said I was going to do. And if I can not humanly do them, then I need to say that in the first place. It's just the little things -like going to the gym and writing and studying and....

... at the moment, getting off my sorry backside and getting to work ;)

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Inhabiting my Kitchen

Where's Mary???? I want her to see this! Largely thanks to her, and to the fact that I now have someone to feed, I'm relocating my kitchen. I made bread today. THIS is what a kitchen is supposed to smell like. Once upon a time the fresh bread perfume was absolutely unremarkable around here; I made bread almost every day in those days. Of course, these days are not those days. It was a delight to smell fresh bread again.

But I didn't just make bread. No sirree, Bob. I was on a roll. I made snickerdoodles for the boy-child -his favorite. That dough is chilling in the fridge. And I made chicken salad to go on the new bread. And... ummm.... I made a little bit of mess. But the days when you have to run the dishwasher twice really are good days.

And, of course, to me all of this is more important than bread or cookies or chicken salad. It's all about grace and welcome and feeding people in ways that make restaurants superfluous. It's about making a life for myself.

Oh yeah, I'm on a roll!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Life Awakening Yoga -Maybe

I said I would muse periodically about my path back to yoga, so I'm musing... I'm not concluding anything yet. Just musing. I've been back to a regular (although not yet daily) yoga practice since the first of the year and it's starting to feel like it belongs to me again. Parts of my body have sprung right back into life, and I honestly thought they wouldn't.

I no longer need pain medicine for my arthritis. My hands, in particular, literally came back to life. For a while, after rock climbing, I was not only taking pain medicine but having to ice my hands for hours to reduce the swelling and bruising. I considered abandoning rock climbing as too abusive to my body. (I concede that there's a case to be made there. But it's my time with the boy-child -and besides, it's fun.) But by adding yoga, rather than subtracting rock climbing, my hands are healthy again.

Other parts of my body have that "I'm still stiff but I'll get over it if you just don't give up" feeling. My never-cooperative upper back, shoulders, and neck have not had a change of heart and decided to become pliable. My knees are still occasionally excruciating. Whole categories of poses are not yet available to me. I haven't quite been able to define which ones are wrong for me... something about a particular kind of bend to the knee or pressure on the knee. I can do cat/cow, if I'm careful, but I wouldn't consider vajrasana. Even cobbler's pose has its difficulties. I'm not at all sorry about losing ustrasana ;) And I'm not sure how to re-enliven my knees if I can't even approximate those poses.

But even I, Queen of Impatient Life ReBuilders Anonymous, know that the thing about yoga is that you just keep inviting change into your life. You keep on doing a posture... same old, same old. It feels the same every day. You go as far as you can, and then you confront the limit of the pose for you. It's a wall; there is no further progress. So you hang out at the wall for a while, chatting away about the annoyance of barriers and limitations until you remember to shut up and invite change in.

It doesn't come right away, and you may not notice it when it does. But one day, your teacher says "you know... that posture didn't look like that a year ago." The wall had been moving back all along, and you couldn't see it because you were so close. Because my hands have responded so miraculously, I'm hopeful that eventually the rest of me will follow suit. Right now, it's just an assertion and a hope rather than an actual belief, but I'm getting there.

And taking my yoga off the mat.... Well, there's something about adding rather than subtracting being the effective life-awakening strategy. And remembering to shut up and invite change in.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

NIU Remembers

Today is the one-year marker of the shootings at NIU, and it was a wrenching day of hope and care and thought (this is a university, after all). I only have my perspective, and I wasn't on campus at the time of the shootings. My son was, though, and I never EVER want to relive the hour when I couldn't get through to him. But he was fine, and I was a little removed from the intensity of the drama.

But my take-home message from being back on campus and from attending parts of the memorial day is that I'm proud of us. I'm proud of the university and the town. We have done all right, we really have. I did see some jumpiness this past week in the lead-up to this day, but mostly I saw calm hope and strength. I've been struck by how changed President Peters seems. His leadership has really changed -not that it was bad before- but that's helped to change the feel on campus. The town has changed in relationship to the university. And staff and students have changed towards each other.

I'm not much of a "yeay, rah... team spirit" kind of girl, and we're still an imperfect messy place (witness the recent fights in the residence halls) but it was touching to see the Convo Center full-ish (not as many people as I expected) of people wearing red and black. The speeches were thoughtful and not at all the shallow sentimentality I was afraid of. The music, the visuals, the memorials themselves... the whole thing was stunningly done.

Of course all of that must barely, barely touch the pain of the families of the slain students. I know from my own experiences of psychic pain that friends can hold part of the burden for a time. I hope we collectively held some of their pain for them today. Senator Durbin said something like (and this isn't an exact quote so don't blame him if this isn't quite right) we now have to make room in our hearts for their (meaning the five students') dreams.

I'll do my best for Julianna Gehant, Daniel Parmenter, Ryanne Mace, Catalina Garcia and Gayle Dubowski. Godspeed, young ones. We'll try to make you proud.

(And if we could do something about getting a decent school song, that would be progress indeed.)

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Going to Ground

Just a bit... and just for a few days. Tomorrow is divorce-day. I've seen the judgment; it makes me gasp with pain even after all this time. At some moment, of course, the contract between the two of us must be over. That single moment is tomorrow.

The lies and even the self-deception he's indulging in haven't stopped, even now, so I know this is the right thing. But it still hurts. I know I'll be fine. I know this will work out for the best for me. I know, on a day-to-day level, nothing about my life will change. I haven't been in the same room with him for more than a year. How can a divorce really change that?

And on Monday I will legally begin the process of resuming my birth name. I've been using it everywhere that it didn't seem like a legal thing for a while now. But I'll set about changing all the official records. Which means that this blog will change its location a smidge. I'll give you lots of warning, if it turns out the changes will confuse you. I don't want to lose you guys not even for a minute.

And remember... PJ's at 4:30. I don't know how I'll be feeling, but I know that friendly faces will be welcome. If it turns out that there are too many of us -improbable, I know- then we'll just reconvene at my house. There's no furniture, but there's lots of space.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Live Imperfectly -With Great Delight

Well, okay... It's a goal. You know and I know that I get impatient with myself when I can't fix things, make them right, in the time frame I believe to be appropriate -typically about 1/2 the time more rational minds believe is required. I look at things and see the undone and the not-yet-done, rather than the things I've accomplished.

I promise a complete life overhaul in this department. By tomorrow at 4, I will stop beating myself up.

No wait.... that's not right ;) It'll probably take until Thursday afternoon, anyway ;)

The truth is, I'm hanging on by my fingernails. But another true thing, that I've learned only in the last year, is that so is everyone else. They may look perfect, and their kitchens may be clean, but there's brokenness and need somewhere, because the human psyche is a fragile thing.

My list is long. The kitchen ceiling is in DIRE need of attention. I'm deeply afraid that my upstairs bathtub is going to fall through the ceiling, and I'll find myself bathing in the kitchen one fine day. I'm behind in my school reading. I haven't been getting to the gym as often as I would like. I have a sad, sad list of undone tasks.

Oh, whatEVER. There has to be a way to both be open to the possibility of fixing these life snarls while still being okay right now. I WILL fix these things. I will find a rhythm to my days and weeks. But honestly, I need to make my peace with the imperfect. I can dance with delight when small things go well. I can learn to let up with the abusive self-talk. I'm no worse off than everybody else, and there is still much at which to marvel.

I'm going to give it all a shot, anyway. I'll report back on Thursday ;)

Monday, February 09, 2009

It's My Turn

When I pointed my little car back towards DeKalb in October, 2007, I had no home. A loyal friend didn't even have to think twice; she just opened her door and put fresh sheets on a bed. Soon enough, of course, the housing thing was sorted out, and I didn't need her hospitality. But I will never ever forget the generosity.

Everybody knows this, but it's the background of my argument, so hang on... Hospitality is derived from the words for "love" and "stranger." It's about inviting someone over the threshold, making room, making space. And the thing, of course, is that everyone changes in the process. Seeing someone across the threshold is no small thing, it turns out.

And now it's my turn. A certain child of mine, whose name I am not at liberty to disclose, is suffering and reorienting herself after ending a relationship. Minutes after I had gone to bed the other night, I heard the door open -clearly someone with a key, I figured- and I saw her at the door with her suitcase. Uh oh. I put fresh sheets on her bed, poured us both a glass of wine, and we set about the business of getting on with it.

And this morning, I picked up a sock off the floor and smiled. There are socks on my floor again! That part will probably lose its charm fairly quickly. Remember those empty rooms I showed you? Now look.

We'll see how this changes us both. My heart is broken that she's sad, but not-so-secretly I'm delighted that I have company (and this company). That's why I kept this house!

Sunday, February 08, 2009

A "Baby, Be Brave" playlist?

I have wasted this day. I have an astonishing capacity to do that. What the HECK??? One ought not simultaneously claim to be too busy and then squander entire days; it isn't seemly ;) On the other hand, I try to give myself permission to just sit and grieve when it's necessary. Since grief no longer consumes me, I figure when it does take over, it's probably just as well not to resist.

However... reality rears its ugly head. The weekend is over, and I squeaked by last week without actually wearing my pink flamingo pajamas to work because there were no clean clothes. But it was a near thing. There is still a pile of remodeling trash in my house. It's smaller, but not gone. Sigh...

Music... music... that's the ticket. I need some fun, get off your butt, you can do this music.

Baby, Be Brave by The Corrs comes to mind.
What if it All Goes Right? by Melissa Lawson (in the roll the windows up and sing in the car department)
Bless the Broken Road -Selah
Dancing Queen -ABBA (channeling Meryl Streep in Mamma Mia)
Ten Thousand Angels (??? probably not)
Reflection (It's a Disney song, I admit. But listen to it. Disney is coming along.)
Big Dream -Chyi Yu ("makes me think maybe God's a woman too" -worth it for that alone!)
I Will Survive -for a total guilty pleasure flashback
Except for Mondays -Lorrie Morgan

What else? We need some tunes around here!

Monday, February 02, 2009

Friday the 13th

That's the day. At roughly 3:00, I'll be officially divorced. It's been just over a year of mostly-laconic litigation. The end has been a bit fraught, but... here we are. If I had fantasies that he was going to come to his senses -and I did, in the very beginning- they're long over. And not what I want any longer, anyway. If I had even wilder fantasies that somehow this would all come to an end without me having to take any more terrifying risks, I know better now. And maybe it's all worth more if I had to take risks to get whatever it is I end up developing from my life and my potential.

Anyway... if you're in the area, let's meet at PJ's (the bar across from the Sycamore Court House) at 4:30-ish. I figure if I get a little over my limit (my 2 beer sternly-enforced limit) an array of good friends will confiscate my car keys, take me home, and dump me in my bed.