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Category: Essays

Swear to Tell the Truth

A whole new perspective on swearing has enlightened me. While hidden behind a private Facebook page, convinced I was playing the role of edgy writer, kickass rebel, and strong, wonder woman, my alter-ego became the authentic me, emerging from my cocoon. Wanting to belong to this muscle-wielding, kettlebell swinging, inner circle, I empowered myself to release preconceived notions, judgment, and my inner critic. My vulnerability shone through, I became comfortable in my skin, spoke my truth, and released fear that once stood to protect me. With an outpouring of support while releasing the “old” me, swearing helped to authentically articulate truth that formerly had no language.

The first time my mother used the F-bomb it hung in the air for a few seconds before anyone realized what she had said. My sisters and I flew into laughter, the irrefutable response to something absurd beyond reason. Almost immediately, she blamed me for her outburst, that my behavior had pushed her to the edge into an uncontrollable anger where bad words spewed like vomit. Hell, the S-word and the B-word were not foreign to my mom’s vocabulary. Yet swearing threw her into a rage when it left my mouth, punishments were handed out like candy, and I knew better than to swear in public, the line boldly drawn.

Defensively swears knocked my mother off her high horse, harsh words brought her to her knees causing relentless retreat. Unable to counter a verbal attack when swears were flying, she surrendered, and alone I was ashamed of “atrocious, inappropriate behavior.” Over time, swearing dissipated, anger diluted into resentment, and harsh words dormantly disappeared. As a math teacher swearing was off limits. Peaceful language replaced cussing with exceptions to certain social situations, like an alter-ego reflecting my edgier side during moments when swears depicted an exact emotion sharp enough to cut the air.

Swears draw authentic emotion from the deepest recesses, cutting deeply enough to ruffle the feathers beneath the surface. Without them, articulating what I truly felt became hidden below layers of unexpressed emotion. Leaving emotion constrained from exposure has a way of searching for an exit. Yet allowing such energy to flow periodically seems to liberate pent-up sentiment. Releasing it is truthful, authentic, and raw. Its organic makeup drives home a definitive heartfelt emotion that normally has no verbiage. Although seen as blasphemous in most civilized communities, swearing has normalized itself within pop culture. If you want to speak your deep truth, you’ll have to swear it!

What I Could Never Write About

Many inquire about dating a convicted murderer when I was eighteen. I cautioned myself from filling in the details. Some pasts lay dormant indefinitely; others rest before they rise to tell their story. Buried long ago, my assumption was never to give this saga audible frequency, a resonance I was unready to surrender. Yet now I find myself digging into my storage tank for untold stories. This one is dedicated to all the uneducated, wronged, unloved souls that could not find their way home.

Enter stage left, the island of Nantucket, with backdrop, the supermarket. He is shopping for sustenance; I am selling fresh meat at the deli counter. After drifting, and coasting through menial college freshman relationships, meeting a seasoned, older man with deep green, meaningful eyes, muscular physique, and a golden, bronzed tan, he has me at “hello.” Beyond the strong, external frame, there seems a soft, sweet, and subtle vulnerability residing beneath the surface. I find this gentle nuance alluring, magnetic, piquing my curiosity and interest, enough to connect and accept his first date proposal. Additionally the reference from his cousin, my manager, wrapped into our initial conversation eliminates my need for a further background check.

By evening, I am riding in his car, words flow like a reciprocating seesaw, changing directions in rhythm. We discover that we come from two separate worlds. He is surprised by my age, asking to see my driver’s license, having thought I was at least twenty-one, uncertain whether to proceed further. Understandably, since he is thirty, life experience cannot level this playing field. Our worlds exceedingly dissimilar, age may be the least of our division. I sit uncomfortably with his discomfort, imagining that our first date shall be our final.

Yet the details of his life unravel in conversation, exposing me to a foreign world, revelation upon revelation, scene by scene, and layer upon layer. Magnetically my fascination turns to compassion, my compassion to empathy, and my empathy to heartfelt, emotional caring. His drama-full life story unfolds audibly, my comprehension, contemplation, and conclusion that a disadvantaged life was dealt challenge upon challenge that worsened over time from uneducated, egregious choices he made.

Unafraid and extremely fascinated by his honesty, genuine, soft nature, I delve further with question upon question about the crime he committed, the out on bail pending an appeal status, and the three years he inhabited a maximum-security prison. His life experience fully disclosed, adds intrigue and fascination with his every expression. Drawn into the mystery, the unfamiliar territory, and alarming story, while charmed by his eyes and dichotomy of his gentle, inner, puppy-like demeanor, I am stunned how he ends up killing another.

The year that follows, I remain on the island to live, experience, and embed myself into his world. Knowledge, eye-opening exposure to the uneducated tradesman, the poor, and the criminal population, furthers my experience and education beyond any traditional institution. The one story I thought I could never write, the untold story, is ready for the telling, a tale of conviction on an island of love and lost innocence.

Breathe Life into Your Story

Rewriting our stories, our lives, and our circumstances, feels foreign to many. We have settled into our years, built foundations within boundaries, and scored the lines of our existence inside limiting beliefs. Past limits, choices, and decisions prime our options that present themselves now. Reacting to our current predicaments is one way to live, while another is to reframe, observe our lives through a different lense, and rewrite the tale. By steering, rerouting, and transforming our story, a new life may be led.

A limited, adjusted, and worn path we initially created awaits change. Its complacency, steady, and experienced route no longer initiates spark for travel, like creativity gone dry, inspiration without energy, and a desert without thirst. A familiar, comfortable, and habitual existence, walking a treadmill of emotions and actions, repeating itself daily is the tread most bare. Yet when the wheels spin and no traction connects with the ground, navigating new, inspirational spark awaits. Rewriting the path, repaving the journey, and reframing the picture before you, readies renewal.

Realizing life is not happening to you, but you are happening to it, empowers the gears to turn and engage proactively. Spark is initiated by inspiration, pumping from our hearts, and pouring from our soul to ignite our passions to share, connect, and offer our gifts to humanity. Drawing our senses to the surface, either one by one, or as a symphony, is the element of stillness that preempts passion to appear. Arriving at moment-by-moment meditation is a simple practice, achieved when tuning into the senses, eliminating the mind, and awakening the heart. Focus upon one sense to reach the original entry point into the present moment, gradually welcoming in another sense, one at a time, until time stands still.

Present moments, the place of stillness, enables intuition to communicate “right” action, inspired thought, and know-how, for the next step forward. Trusting that stepping stones appear continually is part of that process, like knowing the road continues long past where the car headlights end. Most of us sit in the shadows of our lives, wondering how, why, and how to engage with the dreams of our yesteryears.

Rewriting our stories is engaging in stillness long enough to hear the familiar tune you already know innately, the recognizable notes born into your soul that shone in your childhood and lost their way. Life purpose is ingrained in our DNA, awaiting expression, revelation, and implementation. Losing touch with this knowing, this song that sings perfectly within our hearts, eventually feels like emptiness when lay dormant too long. Reaching into our core, ascending upon talents within, is like coming home, with the guardian of your galaxy wondering why you waited and lingered as long as you did.

Transforming our stories and altering the future, awaits and beckons if we are silent enough to listen. Hear its call, and your music has the forum to play brilliantly. Deny its existence and the heart deadens slowly, regret surfacing at life’s end. The power to reframe our lives is not about changing who are, but becoming who we were meant to be, following one’s heart, and playing the soul’s tune. We are preempted for greatness, wired for connection, and embody the brilliance to chime together as one. Without the birthed stories of one another coming to fruition, we shortchange life’s greater vision. Answer the call, and breathe life into your story, the destined tale that began when you took your first breath.

Stranger in My Bed

Not an easy task living with an unrecognizable individual who shares my life. Vowing to live all the livelong days with a partner in all things marriage, the routes, railways, and stations, most unforeseen. I hear my sister’s advice long ago, “It’s a crapshoot. You really don’t know who you chose until years pass, tragedy strikes, and the dramas of life unfold.” Such wisdom now speaks its truth in the present moment.

Yet I know this man.
I feel his heart.
I know this man.
I feel his love.
I know this man.
I feel his kindness.
I know this man.
I feel his touch.
I know this man.
I feel his respect.
I know this man.
I feel his pain.
I know this man.
He is the stranger in my bed.

When the years assemble and bunch together, the challenge to recollect happier times breathes difficulty. You cannot remember how the passion waned, the loving eyes lost interest, and the reaching for one’s hand vanished. Over time, the kisses diminished, the check-ins descended to ‘Hey’, the phone calls became a monotonous rhythm of “gotta go’s” and the band played on without you. Relentlessly you attempt to recapture what once was, only to find yourselves trapped in same-old, same-old again and again. You wonder what you did, did not do, what you could have, should have, would have done if given a do-over, until there lay the ruins of a marriage upon a desert, dry and dusty. No one’s fault but the winds of change that swept each of you to opposite avenues. You exchange words to organize schedules, orient the children towards promising futures, while the bond between you loosens gradually until the glue unsticks, and parted you become, rather than death disconnecting you.

When the Universe Calls, Answer it

I am having one of those days, the kind when the sun doesn’t shine, where the grey weakens your core, and each effort to illuminate the day dims further and deeper into a holding pattern of my own creation. Perhaps it is the thirty inches of snow outside that fell in a heap on Tuesday, blockading me from leaving my home headquarters. Maybe it is the wintry cold outside that weakens my bones, creaking as I move throughout the morning. Certainly the sepia tone that spreads over the view from my home office window, with the exception of a prominent, bright red cardinal upon the twigs of an Oak tree catches my attention of the dreariness that lies just feet from my own.

Regardless, the doomful feeling drones over me, dampening my spirits, and challenges my ability to shake it from my marrow. The morning light did correspond with an early blog entry, like a meditation of the fingers and heart connected to a greater power I can never fully explain to readers. Yet as the words lay across the screen from freshly typed keyboarding, I transfer my attention to children, school lunches, and a movement towards exiting household members to their prospective locations. As the final door shuts, a host of errands listed on a notepad lies dormant like an open door awaiting closure.

I return to my computer, hoping writing might continue from the joy prior, but nothing inspires my fingertips to dance as they’d done earlier. My thoughts turn toward my life, how empty my professional world feels, a second edit of my first memoir waiting for attention and direction, the essays I never published for fear of failure to entertain, and the unread blog that sits before me. I click on the statistics page, examining the lack of visits upon a bar graph, reacting with uncertainty of whether I want an unedited blog read or not. Unable to reach any readership, including friends, spouse, or acquaintances, I wonder if writing is the ‘right’ avenue to pursue. If only I could see the writing on the wall, a sign, or my path revealed.

Hours pass and I contemplate, explore, and navigate building a reader’s platform, forming a stage for future readers. I update my Twitter account, review my Facebook page, and imagine joining Toastmasters to improve my presentation skills. Yet soon restlessness, hopelessness, and overwhelm engage my insides, hours pass without any measurable accomplishment of basic, daily responsibilities, and I relent to sit in the quiet of the day, a darkness setting in like cloud cover. My emotions are relentlessly lowering into dim shadows, refusing to release from a blackened space. I feel alone in this darkened cavity, unable to see my way out.

Tears form recognizing the wastefulness of time, saddened by the nothingness that surrounds me. Alone and sad for my inaction, my resolve weakened into a depressed state of being, I contemplate reaching for help, or in the least, confessing my perceived sin of wasting a day. The number dialed, the receiver held, and a soft voice answers with compassion, love, and encouragement. More emotional waters tumble before I can see any clearing, insight, or retribution.

Still affected by my predicament of despair, I say, “I don’t know what I’m doing with my life. I have no direction. I have lost my way.” Tears stream, but I can finally breathe into the day that has worn me down. Feeling my emotions allows freedom to release, a relief after a day of trapped, hidden, fear filled emotions. My energy pushing away the discomfort exhausted me, suddenly surging upward from opening the enclosed capsule.

Interrupted by my cellphone ring tone on my right, I glance at an unrecognizable number and ignore it. Within seconds, a call waiting beep alarms me as to an incoming call on the landline I occupy in my left hand. Again, the same caller ID number does not trigger a call to action. I mention the number to my supportive listener, announcing that although I have seen it pop up prior to today, I know not whom it belongs, nor does he after a quick discussion. When examining the number again, I tap the number which instantly calls back the missed call. Mistakenly returning the call, I immediately end the call with a single tap.

Yet within two minutes, my cellphone is singing its tune again, and the mystery phone number appears again. This time I answer the call, curious who persistently is attempting to reach me in the past and presently. My husband awaits on the line, listening to a one-sided conversation, as I focus my attention to the incoming call.

“Hello?”
“Is this Lisa Edinberg?” an unrecognizable voice asks.
“May I ask who’s calling?” I ask curiously and cautiously, assuming it’s a scam.
“Well, this will sound strange. I found a hard drive to your computer in a hotel room. It has pretty much your whole life on it, and I wanted to return it to you.”
“Ahh, excuse me?” I question, certain he is lying, like the Microsoft scam and call center from India.
“I found your hard drive disk. It has pictures of your family, your kids, your life,” he says confidently, convincingly, and scarily. “I’m in technology and found it, thinking that I’d look at it, figure out whom it belonged to, and return it. If this had happened to me, I would have wanted someone to return it. I’ve had it for a year, but I recently moved, and happened to see it again while unpacking. Finally I looked at it, and can see you’d probably want this back. I would. So I looked you up.”
“And where exactly did you find this?” I ask, fearful of what he is saying, but still skeptical.
“I found it in a hotel at West 57th Street in New York,” he says.
Knowing this hotel is the business hotel my husband uses, and I have stayed at prior, I say,”Can you hold on a moment?” I turn to the phone in my left hand, ear pressed, mind preoccupied with worry and concern.”There is a guy saying that he found my hard drive in a hotel at West 57th Street in New York and wants to return it to me?”
My husband immediately corroborates the possibly explanation with, “Yes, when we wiped the old computer, you gave me the hard drive to store. I had planned to bring it to my office, and threw it in my car. I saw it in my car in New York when I traveled on business, but thought it dropped out of my car. But I probably took it into the hotel thinking I didn’t want to leave it in my car in the New York City. It’s ours.”
“Oh my God, really? That’s unbelievable. So it’s ours?”
” Yeah, can he get it to my New York office?” he asks.
Turning to my right, I ask, still amazed at the possibility of this finding by a random stranger, “Do you know where we live? What else is on it?”
“Well I believe you live…,” and states my street, my husband’s name. “There’s a lot of your life, you’re a writer, so there’s your writing,…”
He may have mentioned more, but I hear nothing but the fact that he has read my writing. I think, what has he read? My writings are the most personal revelations of my life, and therefore, my heart beats with fear, recognizing the gravity of what he is saying. It occupies my truth; it’s personal, vulnerable, and a total revealing of who I am. What has he read, I continue to wonder. Has he read my books I have written, the motherhood essays, my memoir.
“What have you read of mine?” I inquire, amazed at the possibility of what he knows about me, still a bit afraid.
“Well, there are poems, writing, and to find you, I’ve seen your website of your writing. It’s good.” he says casually.
“It’s good?” I say incredulously, as if what he’s saying is much more important than the fact he is holding a decade of photos of my children, knows where I live, and has years of my documents at his fingertips. “You are talking to an insecure writer. You’ve read my writing and it’s good?” I repeat, uncertain and unsure what I think of this fact.
“Yeah, you’re a writer. I have read some of it. It’s good,” he emphasizes.

At least this is what translates in my head, baffled and elated that someone that is not my friend or family member, thinks my writing is good. Waiting all day as to my next step into a writing career, and a stranger calls telling me I am, it is good enough. I give him an address to send the hard drive to, thanking him for finding me and his persistency to return the disk. The writing, the vital declaration of his findings, is the only comment that matters.

What are the chances that on this day, while I discuss my failed future, feeling the lowest of lows, a stranger calls to inform me of his discovery from a hotel room a year earlier, acknowledging my writing, giving me a direction I was seeking. It feels like the universe called to answer my inquiry. Instinctually he must have felt the need to call and took action. The universe was also persistent, calling repeatedly to reach me. Several calls to gather my attention, answering this call was a blessing.

Besides faith in humanity that people inherently do the right thing, I was given a gift. Writing for me is about revealing truth, empathizing with others on journeys similar to mine, and enabling readers to experience my life stories and healing with the possibility of relating them to their own lives. A hard drive of my life is as vulnerable as writing. What I experienced when I realized he knew the depths of my life is the same as exposing my writing to the world. Fear keeping me from “being all in” as a memoirist is about allowing the vulnerability of truth to illuminate through the words. Great strength exists among the warriors known as memoirists. Speaking one’s truth, revealing the deepest aspects of one’s life takes courage. Yet the relationship between the reader and its author is a sacred sharing. Within the writing is a large net that casts connection between its author and reader, establishing a feeling of, “Me, too.” It teaches others how to heal, reveal their truths, and grow as human beings towards greater consciousness.

Therefore, when the universe calls, answer it!

 

 

 

 

The Best Day Ever

It was an ordinary Tuesday, as any other in the past year. Called “Museums with Mom Day”, my five and half year old son and I enjoy a golden day together, experiencing a variety of museums, one Tuesday at a time. The plan was to reach the Museum of Science in Boston by 9:45am, view the Dolphins IMAX film at 10am, eat an early lunch at 11am in the cafeteria, take a quick hop, skip and jump in the museum shop, and catch the Boston Duck Tour at noon. Such an orderly arrangement, I thought, proud of my perfected planning skills groomed over time.

Sometimes we all need a reminder that the world is imperfect, that room for adjustment allows for experience and wisdom, and that your ability to control the world is an illusion. I should have seen the foreshadowing as our escape from home narrowed our travel time and an increased traffic flow seemed to be messaging a need for plan adjustment. I grew frustrated, but still optimistic, asking for divine intervention from my son as we neared Boston. He seemed unphased by the traffic patterns, and happy to be closing in on our destination.

By 9:50am, we arrived in the museum parking lot garage, taking our favorite parking spot on the second floor leading to the entrance. With direction, I instructed my son, “Run, run fast with me so we can buy tickets and make it on time for the movie. We will make it!” Execution of the next few moments required perfection; it is a tall order when anxious about time. Exiting the vehicle, my son and I ran like Chariot’s of Fire with music playing in my head of the grace and beauty of our relay. We zigged, we zagged, full sprint towards the entrance doors. Backpack with lunch dangling from my arm, my son following directly behind me, excited about the day (“This is the best day ever,” he said that morning while imagining our day). As the entrance door was in sight, I veered around a bunch of three-foot barrier poles (there to prevent any driver from taking a shortcut into the museum), when it happened. The sound of “SMACK” reached my ears, slowing time into a wave of moment-by-moment space.

I turned around to see my son’s face hugging a hard plastic, yellow cement covered barrier. Horror enveloped his eyes, as the visible pain seemed to penetrate his soul and mine. At that moment, I could feel the depth of the searing pain, as if we shared space and time. There appeared no separation between us and I winced in despair.

Empathic moments between parent and child seem defined by these intermittent seconds. In that instant, we are suddenly “one”.

As reality circumvented that spectrum of space, I cried out with him, and ran to his aid. My instinct was to hug him, trying desperately to retract the prior seconds of our reality. However, I could not remove, rewind, nor erase the current truth.

My son was hurt, blood confirmed his pain, and I recognized the adjustment creating a newly established plan for us. He held his face, cupped to ease and nurture the injured part of himself. Tears rolled down his horrified countenance while he tried hopelessly to articulate words I could not comprehend. I picked him up, aware of the harsh reality we were experiencing, hurriedly carried him inside the museum (only feet from this accident) to a bench just inside the door. On my lap, he sat while I held him, affirmed, “That must hurt” only because I felt his pain.

Denying the discomfort I think is a mistake my own parents used to make when I was a child when an accident would occur. To reassure how “fine” a child will be without acknowledging the initial impact always seems ironic to me. No child feels fine when first struck with pain. In fact, I know that my son did not feel fine when plowing into a cement post in full sprint with the shock of tasting blood, his new reality.

Holding him close, I allowed myself to cry with him, surrendering to the moment, giving us space to be with the sadness, shock, and discomfort. Museum visitors passed by, I suspect, thinking, “They (meaning us) are not having a good day” and “I’m glad that is not us.” No one came to ask if we needed help, but perhaps we were invisible to the outside world, cushioned together by common experience. For these few moments, I can say we connected in a space where no cracks between us existed. Perhaps that describes mother/child bonding at its best. Within that safety, the easing into “we are okay” displayed itself. I quickly pulled the icepack from his lunchbox (in the backpack) for his face, which exhibited a swollen lip on one side. I wiped blood from his lips with my sleeve. Uncertain of further damage, I continued to reassure him, although he was feeling pain and I was feeling his pain (demonstrated via tears streaming down my face), we would be okay eventually. (I have learned that difference from my childhood. Choosing to be “fine” is a good reaction, but accepting the reality of pain initially is basic truth.)

I soon peered in his mouth for additional damage, looking at teeth pushed back from impact. My instinct said, “No need for emergency room” and instead, “a trip to the dentist might be helpful.” His cries died down, whimpers continued, but it was clear that this brave soul would recover from a painful blow and a great dose of shock. The fact that the next day was picture-day at school felt irrelevant, and grossly ironic.

Quickly the guilt enveloped my heart, recognizing the What If’s. What If we had left ten minutes earlier? What If I had traveled a different route to the museum? What If we had gone a different day? What If we had not been running in the parking lot? What If he had run in front of me? What If I had carried him? What If I had been a more responsible parent? What If I was a better mother?

Yet, just as quickly seemed to enter, the opposite What Ifs? What If he was not breathing? What If an ambulance was on its way? What if he was in more pain? What If this was more serious? What If these were his permanent teeth? What If this was a way for life to slow us down, appreciate the moments of togetherness? What If this is the way the day was supposed to unfold?

He then asked, “We missed the movie? I replied, “Yes. But really, that’s not important right now. What is important is YOU, and I’m so sorry this happened.” His response after more ice application was, “This is the worst day ever.” I said, “Is it? Perhaps this was the way it was supposed to go and there are good things ahead.” Just then, I became very aware of the teachable moment. There was sudden clarity for me. I was truly present with him. Each moment felt crystallized, as if echoing loudly, sharpened visually. “Can we go to the gift shop now?”he asked. I think, yes, and confirmed the answer he wished. I was aware that my guilty feeling about the experience thus far warranted a “whatever you wish” attitude towards him.

We entered the gift shop with great ease, without a care of time nor we-need-to-be-somewhere-else feelings. The shop was empty except for a few employees, allowing us to roam in any direction freely. I informed him that he may choose anything (though secretly hoping he would not wish to acquire the whole store). Ironically when given the option to buy the store, he chose a miniature, figurine-type toy, a Lego Star Wars tiny kit, a small, stuffed penguin ball, a minute plastic train, and a book for his older sister, “Who was Albert Einstein?” Feeling a sense of unlimited time and the freedom of our space, I encouraged him to explore the entire, elongated gift shop. As he began to accumulate additional items, recognizing there seemed to be no limit from mom, he said a peculiar thing,”We have too many things, Mom. I am going to put these back.” I simply nodded, amazed at his intuitive sense of what too much feels like; supposing that left to his own devices, he recognizes excess.

He seemed ready to leave the museum, when a few logistic issues swept through my mind: Parking fee for a museum we did not visit, and the need for a new ice pack. Do you need to pay for parking for a museum you did not enter? Do they have ice packs somewhere or a first aid area? We approached the information desk, my son looking like he had been in a fight, still glossy-eyed, but with a happy demeanor. I explained the details of the accident, and inquired about the location of a first-aid area. The man asked what we needed and I requested an ice pack. There behind him was a box of ice packs. How peculiar, I thought. Pleasantly surprised, I thanked him, and asked, “By the way, does one need to pay for parking if they have not entered the museum? Our plans were changed due to this accident; do we need to pay?” He asked if we had been here for more than a half hour. I answered, “We have been icing for at least a half hour, and then spent a half hour in your gift shop. Now we are leaving. Do we have to pay for parking? Do you make exceptions for situations like this?” He looked a little perplexed, but then spoke with two other people privately behind the desk, sent one of them over to us, who asked about the accident. I showed him my son’s battle wounds and teeth. He wrote our names down and phone number on a blank pad, while the other man prepared a parking ticket that would enable us to exit the parking garage free of charge.

I felt the day was moving along very well and our improved demeanor displayed this truth. My son seemed excited to play with his new toys, put together his Star Wars mini battleship, and give his sister a new book. As we were exiting, passing the exact place of facial impact, he humorously said, “This is turning out to be the best day ever.” I laughed at his sense of humor, and amazed by his resiliency. Turning to him, I said, “I think you are the best son ever and I love you so much.” He said, “I love you, too, Mom.”

We made a trip to the dentist for x-rays, discovering one tooth cracked, and that his first visit from the tooth fairy would arrive soon. His lip returned to normal within a day, a bruise formed above his mouth, healing within a week, and I look at him with such appreciation for the blessings of breathing, laughing, and being more him than he has ever been.

The days that followed have been filled with gratitude. To have more minutes, hours, days, years with my son is the greatest gift I receive each day, never mind the new-found presence of mind to slow down, and take in what is vital. Today I swagger differently with new-found energy for being present. He is a gift to the world and the experiences with him make each day the “best day ever.”

 

Mother Knows Best

I have heard the adage, father knows best. However, countless women recognize unequivocally that mothers run the show. The motto, “If mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy,” seems difficult to dispute. Perhaps all the insights my mother alleged did have wisdom wrapped within. One notable anecdote was my mom’s recollection of fertility in the 1960’s. Her doctor told her she would probably have difficulty conceiving, considering her small frame and irregular cycles. His advice was to go home, relax and not think about it. Taking his advice to heart, she did exactly as told. She got pregnant three times within four years.

Thirty-five years later, she told me that story, advising me to go home, relax, and not think about it. Unlike my mother, I thought about it incessantly. I charted my ovulation, measured my body temperature each morning, and checked my pee on a stick, figuring out scientifically the exact hour the window opened for optimum conception opportunity. Without success, my husband and I visited the Reproductive Science Center for testing. The results were inconclusive, except that my husband’s sperm were active with remarkable motility; he promoted himself to macho-man status. Our sex life improved dramatically with such newfound confidence; we increased our efforts. Yet, results still left us baby-less.

Almost a year later, with autumn approaching, new beginnings and changes upon us, I resigned myself to a life as a childless woman, imagining travel adventures and a variety of careers that would recharge my soul. The prior spring, my husband and I had purchased our first home, imagining our life with children. We chose a great school district with the expectation that our offspring would attend the neighborhood elementary school. It was laughable to think about the plans we made to make our dreams happen. Even more comical were the giant hips I was granted at age eleven. For decades, I had assumed that God could only have made me this way for one purpose: bearing children.

Even more astounding was the number of women getting pregnant around me. It seemed that every week, another friend announced that she was “expecting,” as if to say, “nah, nah, na nah, nah.” Even bunnies in our yard appeared to multiply exponentially. Actually, that was not that surprising. What you think about, you bring about; the law of attraction was in perfect harmony with my life.

With bits of discord, yet surrendering to reality, my husband and I lived fully, traveling to Hawaii, Illinois, New Hampshire, Arizona and Alaska, attempting to embrace our freedom, while practicing baby making at every juncture. Sex in the wilderness of Alaska, sex in the exotic backdrop of bamboo forests and waterfalls, sex in romantic cottages, sex on the beach, sex, sex, and more sex. We attempted each position, wondering if anything would bring about conception. Through all of these experiences, we enjoyed life, taking in the moments of adventure, living, laughing, and loving. Yet we also cried, full of sadness that life was not what we expected. There was deep anguish from not knowing if children would be part of our future. I attempted to imagine my life without offspring. By September, I conceded, accepting whatever life offered me.

It is significant to note that when you release control and surrender, life brings the extraordinary to you. Day-to-day moments feel immensely exhilarating and powerfully beautiful. I pondered this thought as I weeded garden beds at our home. It was a warm September day full of possibility; the smell of lavender filled my senses. I was wearing ordinary, beige gardening gloves and shorts. At some point, I removed one glove to sever a vine from choking a birch tree. Taking off that glove, unwrapping that vine, releasing the tree from strangulation, my life was forever changed. The following month revealed how.

Within a day, my legs and hands started itching with an abundance of bumps. I was miserable; poison ivy had ravaged my entire body. About ten years had passed since my last poison ivy outbreak. I looked like a burn victim with wounds full of puss, oozing and scabbing. Within a week, I went to see my primary care physician. He asked how life had been going besides the obvious ailment; I reported the story of poison ivy acquisition, and mentioned that I had been trying to get pregnant for the past year, only to receive multiple negative pregnancy test results.

Putting my poison ivy treatment aside, he whispered, “Don’t tell anyone what I’m about to tell you. My colleagues would think I am nuts. But my sister pretty much had the same story as you. She went to an acupuncturist for some treatments and I now have four nieces and nephews.” He proceeded to give me the name and number of an acupuncturist and a prescription for Prednisone to treat the poison ivy.

Within a week I was meeting with a Chinese acupuncturist, who told me unambiguously that I would be pregnant soon, similar to her last two fertility clients. She explained that my chi (energy) was out of balance. With three one-hour acupuncture treatments, swallowing five brown Chinese herbs three times per day, and doing the “deed,” I was pregnant. Some will say that the Chinese herbs readied my body for pregnancy or the acupuncture relaxed my body and ripened my eggs for conception. However, if you asked me what happened, I would say that my mother knew best. Go home, relax, and do not think about it.

As I lay on the table during those acupuncture sessions, I felt at home, relaxed and thinking about nothing in particular. My mother knew something that I did not. Forget the predictions, the calculations, the control you think you have, and surrender to the present moment. That is where you find peace, where the extraordinary lives. Whatever your ailment or desire for the insurmountable, allow yourself to go home, relax, and do not think about it. Let it come to you. Mother knows best.

L.E. Falcon is a Boston area author, where she lives with her macho husband and two children, and no longer weeds garden beds. She can be reached at lefalcon@lightalife.comThis e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or visit www.LightALife.com.

Life Cycles

I am sitting in my driveway, on the stoop next to my two and half year old son, wearing a bicycle helmet like his.  Our bikes, his primary-colored tricycle and my red, ten-speed bike are standing in front of us, side by side.  We just finished riding in our driveway, up and back, in circles, weaving this way and that, feeling the breeze and giggling at the fullness and happiness, that riding offers.  Our senses, filled with the thrill, the excitement, and the energy that builds as we climbed the slight hill and bombarded down towards the garage, are active, even during our current restful state.   

As I get lost in the image of that red bike, my memory brings me to a day when I was twelve, riding as I had today.  Only thirty years ago, this ten-speed was new, with so much possibility.  My visit to the bicycle store with my aunt, who purchased this coming of age item for me, was the greatness of all presents.   I recall the salesperson asking if I wanted the popular, white, “Columbia”, American-made model, or the red, foreign-made, “Camel.”  The Camel sounded particularly exotic, coming from a far-away land, and the name of an animal that would take me to desert adventures, or so my imagination had mused.  My aunt said that it was okay to get the more expensive, American model.  However, I insisted that the red, Camel, ten-speed was the one I wanted. 

Only now, do I look upon that moment, wondering if she knew what a vital memory was shaped, how grand a bike it has always been.  I babied this bike for years, shining it, dusting it, and applying WD-40 into the chain to keep it running smoothly.  My aunt died eight years ago, unexpectedly from heart disease.  Unable now to communicate how special that moment was for me, purchasing the brand new ten-speed is a lesson in speaking your thoughts when they come to mind, not waiting until it is too late.  If I could tell her the gift she gave me that day offered me the fondest memories of my childhood, I would.  That bike gave me confidence, taught me lessons of life, and granted me freedom when I needed and wanted it. 

Sitting here with my son, remembering the experiences of over thirty years of riding that ten-speed bicycle, makes me wonder which memories are becoming fused in his brain.  Two souls sitting on the steps of our house, matching blue, bike helmets atop our heads, taking the autumn air in, is a glorious smidgeon of time.  Riding just moments before, I can still feel the same pleasure of riding as a teenager, exhilarated by the air moving through my hair, and the delight of fear illuminated as the speed of peddling increases. 

It took me back also to a sunny, late afternoon, riding that bike, full speed down the hill of my street, in my hometown.  I was moving faster than usual, aiming to break all speed records of previous rides.  As I approached the driveway to my house, I misjudged my stopping ability.  Slamming on the breaks, I flipped over the handlebars, landing with the sound of scraping skin from my arms, knee, and chin with tar.  Shocked by stopping abruptly, but stunned by the pain that immediately ensued afterwards, I lay motionless, as tears gathered, and cries illuminated the air.  Slowly I arose to limp my way inside, pride hurt by the disastrous crash landing, and physically bleeding from chin and limbs.  The baby-sitter called the neighbor, the neighbor drove me to the emergency room, my parent’s night out was interrupted, and stitches put me back together. 

I think of it now, wondering what that accident taught me about limits.  Though my parents were often silent in teaching life’s little lessons, the reality is that life is limitless,  falls teach you to rise again and learn from your mistakes.  Knowing what I know now, I become the teacher of such lessons for my son. 

He sits next to me with the sounds and echoes of the wind and rustling leaves, with the sun gleaming downward with warmth in its reflection.  We sit motionless watching our parked bicycles, one two feet taller than the other, a vision of youth vs. elder, new vs. old, and a site of unity that tie the two together.  He peers towards me with a look of what next, mom.  I look back at him and say, ”Did you know that I crashed my bike when I was younger, but another day got back on it and continued to ride? Life is still safe, even if you fall down sometimes.  More importantly, I wanted to say that I love you and life is good.”  He looked at me bewildered from the lack of understanding of the first part of my message, but then smiled and said, “I love you, too, mommy.”  If that is the portion of text he heard and understood, then job well done. 

It is days like these, you consider why certain memories are important to remember, that seem to shape how you live your life.  Telling people what you are feeling when you feel something is imperative; you never know where life will lead you or how or when it will end. Falling down is just part of life.  It is getting up that matters and knowing that limits are the ones we set, ourselves.

If a red bike could speak, what would it say?  This thirty-year-old, red, “Camel” bike would speak of adventures it had taken, to softball practices, to the local pizza parlors, to convenience stores and meeting friends.  It would retell about the days of summer, hanging out with friends at their houses, and the days when its rider would cycle as fast as she could, letting go of the handlebars, with her arms raised as if reaching some imaginary finish line.   The experiences of that red bike would continue in other states and far off lands, where the rider’s life had taken her, down roads less travelled and lanes rarely seen. 

More importantly, it would speak of a fall day in a bicycle store when an aunt had taken her niece to buy a special present, a moment in time that changed one child’s life.  It would talk of the impact it had had on this woman, thirty years later, to speak her truth of emotions to others when she felt them, not waiting until it was too late.  The bicycle would mention an accident that taught its rider to get back up after falls, learning that limits are the ones we set for ourselves.   It would tell of a fall day, when a mother sat with her son, imagining the tales that a red bike could tell, that enabled her to speak greater truths and emotions to her offspring.

The Currency of Time

I can hear the calls, “Mommy, Mommy, Mommy, look at me, play with me, watch this, I have something to tell you, I need this, I want that.” They are words that take on a variety of meaning when spoken from the mouths of babes. Those sounds that echo loudly in the early years of children’s lives are short-lived, yet can deplete the energy of mothers everywhere. As I hear them readily, I cannot imagine my life without that resonance. It is space of children needing a mother’s love and attention. In the same breath, it serves as a reminder that freedom is temporarily lost for you as a mother. Time moves without your permission and is a valuable currency. How you choose to spend it, is your choice.

A child’s dependency is greater than food, shelter, and clothing. Deprivation of a child’s attention by parents is surprising, yet may be understandable. We live in a society of movers and shakers of men and women, working to put food on the table and shelter over their sprouts’ heads. The necessity to maintain the health and care of our kids is imperative. Yet, within these parameters of essentials, are love, attention, and time prerequisites? I pose the question because as my exhaustion materializes while caring for my young children (toddler and grade school-aged), I struggle with the need and desire for my freedom of time: to work, to play, to experience and practice self-care, to experience life outside the child environment. Women who put themselves last on their list of priorities suffer greatly, sometimes unbeknownst to themselves.

When children witness sacrifices of a mother of herself for the sake of her children, it serves as a reminder that self-care may not be a priority. The effect is not the expected; they may know they were loved, but also learn that my mother neglects herself. There are parent-rearing theories that you cannot spoil children with time and attention. However, at the expense of neglecting a mother’s health, spiritually, emotionally, and physically can have dire effects. Showing love does not mean self-neglect; it often has the adverse effect.

Therefore, how can we women care for our children with love and attention, while enabling ourselves the freedom and time to care for ourselves? Actually, it is a balancing act and sacrifice. To balance time for your children, a mother needs to find the space and energy to give her children what they need, communication, experience of play, respectful interaction, and quality time. If this means living in a smaller home, having less toys, having “stay-cations” (vacations at home), and fewer material items so that a mother works less in order to provide what includes the “time” portion of raising children, then I argue this is the sacrifice. It may take support that a mother or father manages to put into place. In doing so, to balance time between work, your children, and occasions for alone and spousal (should this be part of the equation) time, is the challenge. Remove the excuses of how this cannot be done and suddenly the solutions appear.

In the end, when you look back upon your life, rather than regret that I ought to have spent more time with my children than working, or I wished I had neglected myself less, and shared the time differently, take action to balance the scales. Utilize time to give and receive. Caring for my kids does not mean sacrificing them or me. There is a space along the learning curve of motherhood that enables you to have it all. This balancing act is manageable if strategically planned and desired. It takes some maneuvering, an input and output experiment of more or less time here or there for the freedom you seek.

The reality is that childhood is short lived. Sounds of “Mommy, Mommy, Mommy, look at me” will not reverberate off the walls in your presence forever. Finding a space to experience the joy of giving time of attention and love, while also role-modeling self-care for a teaching moment of self-esteem, is vital to a mother and child’s health. Next time I feel the tug of fingers upon the ends of my shirt and the words, “Mommy, Mommy, Mommy, come with me,” I will look into his eyes with love and understanding and know that my total freedom for work and myself is practically around the corner. Time moves without your permission; it is a valuable commodity. Only you may choose how to spend it.

Worry Not

My father lives the advice, “never worry about anything until there is something to worry about.” He has a calm demeanor during prospective crises, as everyone around is scurrying for cover. If there is no proof of danger, alarm, or grave disappointment, he calmly walks through life with ease. Why he is wired this way, while others fret, expend energy needlessly, and hearts race with a deliberate sense of danger, is anyone’s guess. I suppose growing up with an ill sister who needed 24/7 care prepared him, as well as being an avid Red Sox fan for many decades, while the team often appeared on the verge of winning it all. He does not get too excited about something until it finally happens. Perhaps it is simply in his nature to remain even-keeled, keeping his blood pressure low, and awaiting the outcome. He simply does not waste energy on the prospect of events. Either it happens or it does not.

This makes me wonder whether expending energy and anxiety on bad news, is worthwhile. Case in point, I have been living my life quite peacefully in the past years, believing that I am healthy. In the past week, I have become privy to information that states that my body is not in the shape I assumed it to be. As someone who hoards information, dwells in the splendor of the more, the better, I am beginning to wonder to what end is this grand state of being. When is too much, too much? I am typically a believer that information enables people to make informed, conscientious decisions about their health. Without it, you live blindly, enabling the body’s systems to conflict without treatment. Eventually it comes to a head, and often is too late to treat.

As I recently awaited blood test results (from the twelve vials taken from my left arm), I took my dad’s advice to heart, and thought there is no reason to worry until there is something to worry about. Yet the test results confirm that my body contains Lyme disease, my thyroid is malfunctioning to a degree, I have some vitamin deficiencies, and I am headed for a variety of treatments. From these diagnoses, I contemplate the degree in which I expend energy on anxiety. My first reaction was, fantastic, now I can make informed choices and put an action plan into place. I also caught a glimpse of the difficulty of diagnosing what are called soft symptoms, such as exhaustion and joint stiffness. Although impressed by the technology that has made diagnosis a tad easier, thinking about the road ahead has given me pause.

With little negative reaction to the diagnoses, (In fact, I was elated to discover that years of symptoms were not “in my head”), I began to relay the outcome to family members and friends. Their response has been slightly disturbing to me, as the need for others to share their experiences with these diseases, has caused a level of anxiety. Twelve hours prior to telling no one, I was cool as a cucumber, and then a day later, am worried about immediate treatment, and the “what if “scenarios. The fact is that I feel no different today than I felt last year or the year before. What has changed solely is the information that I have now been privy to. The energy that others expend upon my diagnoses ought not to affect me, but has.

In order to protect myself from other’s anxious need to help, share, console in a disconcerting way by relaying the stories of other’s nightmares, I wish to remain in the dark, uninformed hemisphere. I recognize their hearts have good intention and are full of empathy, but the objective listener would have cause to stop them in their tracks. No more discussion with others; it rains on my happy parade.

The way I choose to accept this information is that there is nothing to worry about until there is something else to worry about. By living in the present moment of how I feel physically, anxiety not among those feelings, I cannot take in anyone else’s issues. That does not mean that I will not take action. It simply indicates that I will be at ease during the action plan I wish to implement. This is my body, my life, and other’s opinions of my ailments, and me is really none of “my” business. I choose the calm demeanor my father so eloquently demonstrated. He chooses the path of least resistance, the heart beating slowly until something worth his energy comes to fruition. I am fortunate to have been in his tutelage, and learned the behavior he displays. He is a wise man and living in a state of bliss, not ignorance. His footsteps are the ones I choose to walk in, along a path I now follow.

To Have Or Have Not

When you discover that one of your life’s purposes is to procreate, you may want it to happen as soon as possible. Of course, there is an order to this, finding the partner, maybe marriage, and then the fun part. However, when you already have conceived and brought one human being into the world, this directive of continuing to populate the universe is an especially different matter. The question is to have or have not, one more mouth to feed, one more responsibility, or one more being sharing your space, energy and body. For many that notion is incredibly beautiful. As you contemplate this assessment, you have much to consider. Although the big picture view, contributing to the human race, seems extraordinarily full of service, the realities also include the monetary and physical implications, other existential nuances that cloud the judgment, as well as the time, energy, and space continuum (to be explained below).

After producing one child, and loving the experience, time passes. You forget the difficulty of the sleeplessness of the first year; memories of a total dependent infant needing you at every moment of the day begin to fade. The challenges that you faced each moment of the first couple of years turn to a space of greater freedom, as your child develops independence, the ability to play alone, eat with one’s own utensils, walk, talk, and move through the world with a greater degree of self-sufficiency. When this occurs, your thoughts turn to the possibility of having a repeat performance. Your confidence waves a flag in the brain stating, “We did well. Let’s do that again.”

The learning curve also has brought most mothers to a space of “I can do better this time” syndrome. Therefore, the decision-making begins on whether to have or have not an additional offspring. Many of us wonder if we can afford one more. On August 4th, 2009, the U.S. Department of Agriculture released a new report, Expenditures on Children by Families, finding that “a middle-income family with a child born in 2008 can expect to spend about $221,190 ($291,570 when adjusted for inflation) for food, shelter, and other necessities to raise that child over the next seventeen years.” If individuals ponder the expense of having a child too much, birth control would be practiced diligently, eliminating any worries of over population. The reality is that to have another child or not, means increased cost, with some economies of scale. Some fixed costs include car seats, clothing, and housing. These shared necessities decrease the cost per child’s bottom line. Additional expenses include diapers and food, to name a couple of the non-reusable items. Therefore, the price per child decreases, making it a win-win proposition. The fact is you make adjustments financially to make it happen, eliminating or decreasing non-essentials.

Hence, with financial reasoning pushed aside, you consider the physical ramifications. Much to ponder are age considerations, gaining baby weight, sharing your body with another being, exhaustion, and every physical implication that enables a child to enter this world and sustain life for forty weeks. If you happen to be approaching the 35-year mark, the reminders by doctors, nurses and statistics that your biological clock ticks louder year after year, with greater risk of conceiving an unhealthy infant is constant. She thinks, “Here I have been fortunate to have a healthy family, why risk changing that?” Lots of information to extrapolate to choose additional fertile ground can be daunting. The prospect, to choose 25-45 extra pounds weighing on your body frame, eating as if a parasite is sucking the life from you, changing the chemistry of your body via hormones, the exhaustion and emotional flip-flops, that are entranced with the physical transformation make the choice to have or have not, one more child, a challenging decision.

There are also existential observations that can fill the argument to have or have not. One such paradox is, if you are the third child contemplating having a third child, you cannot help but think that if your parents had chosen only to have two offspring, you would not exist. This is true for any combination, of course. Additionally, if your second child may be the president of the United States some day, and you chose to have one child only, then you have changed history. The fact is that existential arguments do not hold, since you cannot ensure what affect either outcome will have. Therefore, remove this element and you simplify the decision-making process.

Yet, if you get past the financial and physical contemplation, ironic existential arguments, there is still time, space, and energy that weigh on a mother’s heart for further procreation. This continuum is equivalent to mind, body and spirit. To switch from the practical aspects of money and physical attributes that contribute to additional offspring decisions, there is the larger picture. The balance of nature attracts the notion of perpetuating the human race with decency and love. There is a natural instinct to add children to the world for the pure sake of adding love, advancement of goodness, and a legacy of improvement of souls from one generation to the next. The love between siblings, the sharing of life between mother and fetus during pregnancy, the bonding of parents and their children, and the development of a perfect being that starts at conception, meets directly with the meaning of life.

To have or have not, another child is instinctually easy. It really is not contingent upon the concrete issues, such as “can we physically do this, fertility-wise, financially, physically, or to initiate the balance of life.” Those are only a few examples to contemplate; parents know there are hundreds more. Although those areas of a pros and cons list may seem relevant, I believe that intuitively you know the answer prior to the debate that plays in your head. To move along the life continuum that enables the world to spiritually grow and improve, brings the decision to a greater plain. When you discover this, the assessment becomes manageable and simplistic. Whatever the conclusion to this query, it is the right one for you. Remove the mundane elements like time, energy, money, ability, and simply consider, is this right for you? Suddenly the answer sits right between your eyes, as if it was there all along. To Have Or Have Not is not the question, but an answer that was there all the time.

Challenge the Mundane

Opportunity knocks at the most interesting, inspirational, and even during the dry, does-not-seem-like-anything-is-really-happening-at-all-moments.  Sitting around a kitchen island while my children eat organic macaroni and cheese is hardly an exciting experience in one’s life, yet my inventive spirit often challenges the mundane.  Today is no different. 

As they eat their food with child-fun utensils, a yellow fork in my son’s hand that looks like a bulldozer scooping out his food, and my daughter with a fork shaped like a train, I make a protein shake in the blender.  Experience has taught me that my two-year-old does not welcome abrupt noises; creative approaches are a necessity.  As I am about to hit the On button to the blender, I announce lift off will occur in minus ten seconds, and the count down begins.  Within a 10, 9, 8, my eyes widen to communicate that their participation is necessary to continue.  Then in unison, the count down meets shouts of excitement, “7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1.” “Blast off,” I yell, as the blender takes off, pulverizing ice cubes, swishing water in every direction, and combining protein powder until no longer a dry, fine particle exists.  Within seconds, the mixture is compounded by the release of turbo boosters, and “Boom”, with the flip of a button, the high position goes on, as the noise level rises.  A few moments later, the air is silent as the off button is engaged, but the smiles of this trio continue to unite and glow.  Our spirits like to pretend, and the energy that is moved from such moments brings a carpe diem attitude. 

Within a few minutes, my six-year old daughter looks down at the floor beneath her dangling feet, and announces quite nervously, “Look mom, ANTS!” Then without provoking him, my son joins in, “ANTS! ANTS! ANTS!”  I run to their side of the island to see a swarm of hundreds of ants, mainly crawling upon cereal that had fallen aimlessly from the counter earlier, from my son’s breakfast spoon.   My smirk and bewildered look show amusement and amazement at the scene upon me.  The ants are attacking Mighty Bites, gingerbread man-shaped cereal.  It looks like killer ants are attacking people, a scene from a horror film.  My eyes dart back at my children; I see expressions that are neither amused, nor amazed, only bewildered and interested on what my next step may be.  I look up with a gentle smile, a curious look to show my mind wandering freely, and then state matter-of-factly that an opportunity is upon us.  I grab a napkin and kneel down to push the ants towards a circular pile.  My words loudly pierce their ears,”An opportunity is upon me to be brave in the face of the ants that are marching one by one, hurrah.” 

As I begin wiping the ants to the center, I am repeating the words, “Gross, gross, gross, I am really grossed out, but this is an opportunity to be brave.  See? This is what it means to be scared of something, but do it anyway.”  I then go underneath the sink to retrieve some type of ant-killing spray.  Gathering ants to a circle, as they try to escape, is not helpful for disposing of ants.  I did not find any ant-killer anywhere, since potent, toxic spray of such sort is kept in the garage.  Not wanting to leave my children, I searched for an alternative insect destroyer.  This was no time for collecting ants and setting them free outside, as we had done countless times. 

I found a can of Lysol, anti-bacterial cleaning spray.  My knowledge about its toxicity is that it is enough to keep under the sink in a locked, childproof cabinet.  With lemon freshness, I spray the ants with vigor, as my children question my technique; “What’s that, mom?  Will they die?” I speak the truth when I say, “I don’t know.”  Sure enough, the spray sends out a glorious lemon-fresh scent while ants seemed to be stopped in their tracks. 

In celebration, I wipe up the ants and leftover Mighty Bites with a paper towel and begin to march while singing, “The ants go marching one by one, hurrah, hurrah.  The ants go marching ….”  My youngsters, thinking that this looks like fun, join in harmony and we march together around the kitchen, hands raised, and with a rhythm in our step. 

The opportunity to seize the day adds energy to our spirits.  We are uplifted, engaged in life’s music, and we find a shared connection between us.  The contagious laughter that spreads throughout the kitchen, the smiles that emanate across our faces, and the joy that fills our hearts to make the most of every situation that arises, is a strong boost to the mood of the day.  Bringing the dull, uneventful day-to-day experiences into energetic, musical adventures full of gusto, rocket ships, cleaning with Lysol the ants that attacked the fallen Mighty Bites, add such exuberance to our lives.  My only hope is that my children entertain the thrills that the ordinary offers them, to see them as opportunities of entertainment, problem-solving, facing one’s fears with bravery and action.  With a blender, some ants, Lysol, and with song, anything is possible.

As I start to ponder the incredible energy that entered our realm so inconspicuously, my daughter says, “Can we go outside and play now?” as if we were not playing already.  May non-playing always be fun opportunities to seize the moments of the ordinary, transforming them into the extraordinary adventures they potentially possess.  May our inventive creativity always challenge the mundane.

A Pearl of Wisdom

Is it possible to teach our children that the world truly is their oyster?  As a parent constantly searching to improve the outcome of my child’s life, I wonder if I truly affect the early years’ foundation, prior to the external environment’s influences. Is it only my perception that I carry such weight to mold a young mind?  Is destiny already in place?  I believe that the energy I move enables life to shift and with this intention, I influence destiny. 

Lately when I have been helping my six- year-old daughter drift off to sleep, she has begun seeking guidance on what to believe about life.  Recognizing the powerful impact I may have in this moment-by-moment interaction, I cringe at the weight of what to say and what not to say.  I originated from  from a black/white and right/wrong perspective; my aim is to offer a broader outlook to my offspring. 

My child inquires, who am I?  What am I? With such existential questions coming from an incredibly young inquisitive mind, I answer her with the honesty that moves within my heart.  I say to her, “Let me explain it this way.  What does it feel like when we skip down the sidewalk together?”  She tells me that it feels good, it feels happy, and it makes her smile.  I then say, you are that. You are the happiness, the good, and the love when your spirit sores with energy.  You are what it feels like to skip, jump, run endlessly in any direction, and twirl happily in a circular motion, watching clouds roll by and the rainbows that touch our hearts when we see them shine.  You are what makes life smile, I tell her.  Yet as the words leave my lips, I cognitively recognize the confusion I may be causing from the metaphors that escape her understanding. 

However, just as I am about to surrender to the basic rational, right-brained definition, she whispers, “Am I the way I feel?”  I sigh with pride and think, she is wiser than I could have imagined.  I answer softly, “You are that and everything you ever choose to imagine.”  You are not better or worse for the clothes you wear, nor greater or less for how fast you run or for getting in line before another person; you are as worthy as the next person, not more important or less.  What makes you different is how you feel about yourself on the inside.  You were perfect from the moment you were born, and all that follows is what you make of yourself, what comes from your heart, comes from your spirit, and your energy.  Remember that you are what rainbows are made of, where smiles originate, where blue skies get their essence. 

From this conversation, I recognize that a six year old comprehending the abstractness may fail some absorption.  My hope is that some of these moments where I preach pieces of spirituality, there will be a moment later in life, where she may turn to me and say, “Mom, I understand.”  When it comes to self-esteem and self-assured confidence, I trust when approached by a diverse perspective or negative judgment from another individual, she will soon be able to assert that she knows who she is, and that his opinion of her is none of her business.  My estimation is this will take time and be tested over the years. 

These moments as she engages in conversation of how her life began, how fears became established, how to obliterate the doubts that life presents her, she begins to recognize the keen sense she has to empower her life with intention.  May she have the energy to shift her life in the direction she so chooses.  She senses the gems of guidance I offer her now, but is starting to disregard these natural instincts as exposure to the mundane begins to occupy her brain.  Her gift of living life fully enables me to share a description of what she is experiencing.  We act as two-way teachers.  She offers me a gift in remembering my own essence, and I tender an avenue of maintaining her belief that all that she dreams is on its way to fruition.  The fact is that the world is her oyster and her heart occupies the pearl.

The Perfect Stroller

My sister gave me professional mommy advice on purchasing strollers.  She said, “Forget about buying just one stroller.  By the time you are done, you’ll have to buy at least three that all serve different functions.”  Yet as SUPERMOM, I was able to research faster than a speeding bullet and purchase in a single bound.  Therefore, I bought my first, all-purpose, perfect stroller prior to giving birth to baby number one.

Why not?  I had read the reviews in Baby Bargains (my motherhood buying bible), on multiple websites, in Consumer Reports, and within a few other publications that reviewed strollers in detail.  I was one-step ahead of all those mothers who had initially purchased the wrong stroller.  Convinced that my sister had been one of those fools, I proudly purchased the perfect stroller.  I was convinced that this was a lone investment for the all-in-one only stroller ever needed, according to the experts.  It arrived “like new” from an Ebay seller, except for the hole in the bottom basket.  How that happened is anyone’s guess.  I picture some mom, exhausted, frustrated, ready to explode from discovering that her stroller did not meet all her needs, lighting a match and putting it under the stroller, trying to set it ablaze.

Clearly, I can relate to this.  Yeah, you guessed it.  This was not the end-all, be-all stroller.  I mean, yes, it moved and turned and held the baby.  Yet our first trip to Chicago to visit grandma and grandpa with our newborn gave me a fortune cookie warning I have not learned well since motherhood began: attempt to control the outcome and you will find yourself disappointed.   We checked the perfect stroller at the gate, signing our life away not to hold the airline responsible for damage incurred by them.  It should have read, sign here so that we may rip apart your stroller and get away with it.  Because no sooner did we reach Chicago did we find it missing a wheel.  We waited at the gate discussing how we signed away any rights to compensation, while the stroller killers found the missing wheel.  Our perfect stroller was no longer perfect, nor usable.

Here is where we thank our very handy, ready for anything daddy, who just happens to be traveling with Duck tape.  Do not ask.  Just know that he is possibly the most dependable travel guy I have ever met.  Taping the wheel back on, wrapping the gray tape around repeatedly until it looked like a gray cast, we were again mobile.

Rather than dump this imperfect stroller, we held onto it for five more years, through the birth of a second child; it has become our travel stroller. It has always looked like a decrepit victim since its violent crime by stroller criminals disguised as airline baggage handlers. Additional bruises from the normal wear and tear of childhood disasters have also taken their toll.  For example, the chocolate milk explosion that left a major stain on the seat, the handle that fell off one summer that needed a duck-taping repair, a new cast if you will for its arm, and a bungee cord that now holds it closed. Since then, we have bought an additional four strollers: an umbrella stroller for quick errands and short distances, a jogging stroller for the beach and walks around the neighborhood, and a double stroller for the new edition kid that arrived two years later.   I stand corrected and apologetic for my self-righteous behavior.  My sister was right.  Forget about getting the perfect stroller; it does not exist.  Save yourself time and energy, and succumb to the inevitable.  You, too, will purchase at least four strollers before it is all said and done.

Rainbow of Happiness

Rainbow of Happiness 

A glimmer of ecstatic happiness in simplest form takes my breath away.  I sit on an oriental rug, criss-cross-apple-sauce, like a child, exposed to life from the vantage point of my two and a half year-old son.  Seeing the world through his eyes is a lesson in simplicity, joy and magical splendor.  Technically we are in a music class, but I suspect that this little boy could be anywhere and recreate the following emotions and creative play in any environment.  Our music teacher is engaging, entertaining, and musically expert; my son stares at him intensely with curiosity and patience, awaiting the next activity. 

Out comes a plain, blue polyester bag.  The teacher unzips it slowly with intrigue and expressions of surprise as he peaks into it.  Music emanates the room, full of leaping, jingle-type beats, making you want to spring to your feet and dance.  You refrain, awaiting instruction as we, adults, have learned to do from our organized, rule-oriented culture.  The children in front of us model our behavior and remain immobile, awaiting the teacher’s big reveal, in his inconspicuous bag. 

He reaches in with one hand and in dramatic fashion, pulls out rainbow-colored silk scarves, bunches at a time, springing them upward toward the sky.  Rainbows scatter wildly around us, gliding and moving at their own pace with differing wind resistance.  The scarves rain upon us like magic sunlight, sending rays in each direction.  With each beat, the teacher takes out more scarves to share with his students and their guardians. 

Next, to show the possibilities, he begins dancing with scarves in his hands, waving them to the beat, dancing in various directions, wherever the music takes him.  My son follows, feeling the freedom of movement taking hold of his feet and arms; he swings them in a variety of ways.  He smiles from ear to ear; his eyes sparkle at the magical scene of rainbow heaven.  I model the teacher’s behavior as to exhibit the normalcy of this scene, as if dancing with scarves is all I have ever done.  I feel the flow of energy swirl in all directions, my mind enmeshed in the movement, music and magic. 

Joyfulness reigns upon us, when suddenly our guide takes a scarf, holding it by two corners, blows at the center of the rectangle towards the ceiling, sending the cloud of silk into the air.  My son watches, locked in on the scarf, waiting with hands and arms outstretched, moving to and fro to situate himself under the falling, billowing silk, and catches it, hugging it to his chest, as if he treasures the prize he has retrieved.  He smiles and giggles, like crystal being tapped gently, releasing a calm, melodic chime that alters your insides with colorful peace.  This cheerful, brilliant echo of happiness can be felt by others who observe this ecstatic play.  The engaged magician of a teacher repeats this process again and again, recognizing the significant joy he has brought into the room within a child’s happy heart.  He mentions the considerable talent of my toddler’s eye/hand coordination, foreshadowing a future shortstop in major league baseball.  As a mother, all I feel is my son’s sense of pride from repeatedly catching the scarves and the enjoyment he relishes in. 

Soon thereafter, our instructor blows the scarf with an energetic breath into my little boy’s face, for a new reaction.  As the scarf covers my son and he is momentarily surprised and semi-blinded, he pauses, but almost instantaneously explodes with laughter.  The teacher repeats this harmonious flow of movement; each time my little one reacts as if it is the first time.  His giggles flood the area, with an energy that ripples out to an audience surrounding him, producing roars of laughter, especially within me. 

I feel inside a tremendous light, so bright, watching the humorous nature of life’s simplicity.  Rainbow-colored scarves flow through the energy, breath, humor, laughter’s echoes, and freedom; they envelope me with a feeling of inner, harmonious peace.  This is the type of enjoyment we strive for and are especially grateful to glimpse as often as possible.  The reality is that it only takes a moment.  Within an instant, the uninhibited can feel happiness at the core, deep within their hearts, and outpour this blissful joy through movement, music and creative expression. 

The result you find is a rainbow, awaiting the flow of energy, full of love, laughter, and ultimate elation.  My son is no exception in our world, only an example of what is possible if you allow yourself to travel to that space.  He teaches me constantly of how simple it is and reminds me how complicated we adults make finding happiness.  It cannot be retrieved by striving externally towards it.  Joy thrives within each of us; it takes little effort to let it out.  Next time I seek the extraordinary, I know to search no further than within myself for the ingredients: Breath, energy flow, rainbows, smiles, laughter, and love.  These are the flavors of life that take my breath away, an energetic force of happiness.                                                                                                     

L.E. Falcon is a freelance writer, who lives outside of Boston and treasures time with her two children and husband.  She holds an MBA from Babson College and a B.S. in Math Ed. from Boston University.  You may contact L.E. Falcon at LEFalcon@lightalife.com.

Healing the Ghosts Within

I have had an urge lately to reconnect with friends from days past and resurface relationships gone awry. Maybe it is the changing seasons or the healing that I crave as I age. Regardless of the motivation, I find myself thinking of those who have affected me. Learning to right the wrongs of the past, I have discovered that much healing can be done internally, rather than involving others. Yet the curiosity of what has become of those who influenced my life has become overwhelming. It seems easier to reconnect, now that many of my insecurities have washed away. The Internet has simplified the path to reach out to my ghosts of days gone by. Social media, search engines, and old-fashioned detective work are all one needs. The healing is extraordinary and life changing as I uncover the patterns and baggage that have led me to today. How to meld healing with experiences from the past is the quandary.

There was a time when I imagined that coincidental meetings were a message from a higher power, a sign that I ought to delve into unresolved issues. Now I realize that it is my own subconscious at work, eliminating the hurt and pain that has gathered upon my heart. The work to release the past in order to reach freedom of wholeness is my goal. With the understanding that self-limiting beliefs intoxicate and paralyze my ability to lead my best life, I stumble, unable to release, cleanse, and feel the wholeness that inevitably opens a drawer of white light, the entrance to freedom. I desire unequivocal love that comes from such healing. My mind wants desperately to eradicate the linings of despair, the toxicity of preconditions, and the sadness that has refused to exit the center of my heart.

The melancholy at the core leaves a void, waiting for divine love to enter. By revisiting past relationships, will it jiggle the dormant issues? Do I need to feel the pain and find forgiveness, let bygones be simply that, and make the cognitive step forward? In the end, what do I really want from each of these encounters? I want forgiveness, love, and ultimate healing. It becomes abundantly clear that these individuals cannot give that to me, regardless of the simplicity of establishing face-to-face interactions. The curative aids lie elsewhere.

I recognize as I imagine visiting with my ghosts that they, the individuals that hurt, maimed, and scarred may not say or act as I wish. They may wonder why I have returned and not desire the same healing outcome as I. Instead, the dredging of old wounds may complicate the process. You cannot make others be who you want them to be nor say what you want them to say. Although I can control my own behavior, I may not be able to remove unresolved, subconscious reactions to others. Rather than conjure up old wounds and risk greater injury, my initial conclusion, healing from within, is possibly the most effective solution.

As Dorothy, in the Wizard of Oz, and several wise beings have taught, the answers lie within. They have always been there, awaiting discovery. If forgiveness and love are what I seek, where do I search? If all feeling and thought are energy and what I send out comes back, then I must transmit the desired outcome into the world. Therefore, if I seek forgiveness, perhaps I must offer forgiveness foremost. If I seek love, perhaps I must offer that up as well. Intuitively I recognize the need for self-love and forgiveness of the self as the pain etched deep in my heart. Emotions that have remained captive in the past, I must release their dormancy and let go. Let freedom replace that space, as my heart fills with light, joy, forgiveness, and love.

Healing the ghosts of time passed does not require complication. Its simplicity lies within one’s heart and the resources to heal have always been accessible. For me it is about forgiveness and self-love. Other’s soul searching may require other avenues to travel. However, not always pain-free, the answers and recovery are simpler than we initially consider. Allow yourself to pave a new direction. With wholeness in your heart, light is sure to follow. Healing the ghosts of time passed lurks within. Pay them a visit!

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