Reframing

I came into this life keenly aware of what I didn’t get in the roulette and randomness of birth. I don’t necessarily remember feeling like I was owed bounty and ease, but I certainly recognized that I didn’t have it. What that created in me was a curiosity about those who did. That interest grew into entitlement. Resentment. I don’t know that I was jealous, quite, but it was inequitable to have been born a Have Not, and I knew it.

Today over lunch, I mentioned to a friend how I was always aware, even very young, that I had been robbed. I made it a joke over the years. “I must have been royalty in another life,” I’d say. “I was born to have a staff.”

Somewhere, that “lack” switched.

“Lucky me!” I said today. “For the last few years I’ve noticed how odd it is that I have so little, yet I always have enough. I have what I need, when I need it. Isn’t that lucky?”

“Well, you did that,” she insisted.

“How do you mean?”

“You’re always talking about how best to view things, the gift in this, the lesson in that.”

“I guess I do,” I remembered. “No wonder you call me PollyAnna.”

“No,” she corrected me. “I call you F***ing PollyAnna. I wouldn’t want to piss you off.”

“That’s wise” I agreed. “I do have edge.”

Then, neither of our cards worked to pay the bill. No, really.

I love good friends. I’M RICH.

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Living Authentically

‎”Living authentically means cultivating the COURAGE to be emotionally honest, to set boundaries, and to allow ourselves to be vulnerable; exercising the COMPASSION that comes from knowing that we are all made of strength and struggle; and staying connected to each other through a loving and resilient human spirit; nurturing the CONNECTION and sense of belonging that can only happen when we let go of what we are supposed to be and embrace who we are.

Authenticity demands WHOLE-HEARTED living and loving – even when it’s hard, even when we’re wrestling with the shame and fear of not being good enough, and especially when the JOY is so intense that we’re afraid to let ourselves feel it.

Mindfully practicing authenticity during our most soul-searching struggles is how we invite GRACE, JOY, & GRATITUDE into our lives.” ~ Brené Brown

I think of this challenge, to stay “connected to one another through a loving and resilient human spirit,” in the context of my family and ask myself if not associating with them is just another bout of willfulness. I resolve that it is not. I feel sorrow, but more peace. It’s the right choice, at last. We weren’t a good fit. To pound my head again and again into that impenetrable wall is not only the definition of insanity, it’s painful for them as well as for me. I no longer expect a different result, from any of us. Resignation is a kind of sadness, but it’s also enormously unburdening. I cannot change them. Neither can I change the truth that closeness with them is unsafe. So I’m not.

Althooough… I read “nurturing the connection and sense of belonging that can only happen when we let go of what we are supposed to be and embrace who we are,” substituting “what THEY are supposed to be and embrace who THEY are,” and… ugh. Okay, okay, to forgive is incumbent upon me, and… family is family and… it’s childish to withhold my involvement simply because they are. I am not petty and hateful… always.

*Sigh* It’s a process. Forever, I’m resigned. Didn’t I say resignation was peaceful? 🙂

They are crazy-makers, bless them.

First Women’s Sweat Lodge

This post is the most recent from my other blog, http://dreamermadwoman.blogspot.com. It documents the shift that brought me to this creative writing space. I will continue to post there, when next I travel the globe!

This post has more to do with the wild, Western journey of this wildwesterngirl, so I wish to share it here as well. I never guessed I would one day be attracted to and adopted by a Native American practice, but it feels right and good and glad.

“Feb. 20, 2012. Of course a sweat lodge was just around the corner. I was feeling all kinds of connected. I had just transferred Wendy’s contact info from last year’s planner to 2012’s when she messaged me Saturday night inviting me to pray. Yesterday was my fourth lodge, my first with only women. They get better and better, but yesterday was some kind of magic! Wendy is an inspired leader and sister.

I feel so blessed and perplexed as to why I get to remain here to continue learning and celebrating. I passed hurdles yesterday I didn’t know I needed to climb. At one point we were instructed to simultaneously unleash our gratitude and call it to the heavens, our guides, ourselves, one another, Creator god, whomever. Without the self-consciousness women experience sometimes in the company of men, who don’t understand and/or fear our emotions, we were unrestrained, unleashing the most raucous, sobbing joy up and OUT! I laughed out loud at how uncomfortable, even frightened, some of the men I know would be at the sound of it, and became conscious of our firekeeper, Brett. When I remembered him, I sent out a blessing of thanks.

It was beautiful. I declared for the first time in my life, ‘I’m glad that I was born.’ It’s what I say to people on their birthdays, but I’ve never said it to myself. It’s quite true, when I celebrate others’ existence. Without birth, they should never have crossed my path. I’ve long felt blessed (and curious) that such extraordinary people should surround me, but I never felt the same for me. Once those words fell, the gratitude (and awe!) for having survived the abuse I heaped on myself for decades at once uplifted and defeated me. I felt sick that I’ve wasted so much time on childishess and ingratitude.

I didn’t beat myself up for long. I have some understanding of my strange journey. So it took me awhile to wise up. I’ve begun. That’s all that matters.

A great lodge. A great blessing. I love women. I love being a woman.”

The Sordid Story of My Book

I’m so glad I have a photocopy of Abigail’s story. Mom sent it to me a couple of years ago, when my co-worker Teresa became excited about Abigail after I shared her story.

Over the last 20 years I created the false memory in which her husband was killed by an anti-Mormon mob, ha! Now, I research my facts and tell the unexaggerated truth. And Mom still flatly refuses to give me the family history in which I found Abigail’s story. I “met” her face first, in a photo-lineage of my people on that side. It was amazing!

Azalia, my paternal grandmother, did the work, compiling the stories, photos, and genealogies, creating a fat book of my family through hers. I’m in it! On my beautiful mother’s lap. My dad’s in his uniform. My sister and brother are the cutest toddler and Kindergartner!

My mom divorced that clan, but she paid $20 for that book, by damn. It’s hers, not the property of Abigail’s rightful heir – ME – her “latest generation,” which holds her “in honorable remembrance,” just as she wished.

She’s mine. I want my book! It’s a button. I pushed it in my last battle of the War with Mother, in November 2011. I hadn’t pushed THE button for 15 years. It went that far. It was the punch in her face from 19-year-old me, and, just like then, I’m out. They’re not speaking to me, for the umpteenth time.

I’m secretly terrifed she’s destroyed the book since then, but I just can’t see Mom doing that. She’s such a good person. That’s something I might do. Instead, I proceed with gratitude that she has my book in her safe keeping. It exists because she holds it for me. It would not have survived my suicidal years, which claimed my scrapbooks and journals. I have that blessed xerox of Abigail’s story, and my book will come, eventually.

I am grateful. My aunt says she might be able to find an extra in the family clutter. It won’t be necessary. Mom’s still caring for mine. She’s a worthy woman, too. She’s holding it ’til I’m ready. It has blessed her life, helping her tell stories of faith and endurance in church, where she feels connected to her personal truth, which I love and celebrate. So I’m glad she continues to enjoy my book. I’ll read it cover to cover, someday.