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I’ve Always Loved the Underdog

1 Comment 09 June 2010

(picture changed to protect the guilty ;) )

Not actual Middle School - Changed to protect the guilty ūüėČ

I mentioned that I just returned from a trip to my hometown and on this trip I showed my daughter around to the various places that I lived.  In all of my driving around, to view the multiple houses that I lived in, there were several memories from my early years that were triggered.  Some were funny and some were crazy and some were better left alone.  But it is good to remember and to put pieces together, to think through our story and who we are and from where we have come.

I was reminded of a particular story as my daughter and I drove past my old Middle School.  The school has a main building which housed the seventh and eighth grade halls and the fifth and sixth grade halls were separate with long walkways leading to the main building.  I remember my first year there, my fifth grade year, and how brutal it was for me.  I was painfully insecure and most of my friends were beginning to mature and I could have easily been mistaken for a boy.  I also remember being mistreated badly by a particular group of boys.  When we lined-up to walk from the fifth grade hall into the main building for lunch, library or gym the abuse seemed particularly intense.  That walk, from our building to the main building was eternal.

When I was in high school, probably around tenth grade, several friends and I were out drinking and we were in the habit of defacing public property.  It had become a pastime of ours and we had grown fond of overpasses, public buildings, and signs.  This particular night we had several cans of spray paint and we found ourselves in the parking lot of our beloved Middle School.  I, having such fond memories of that walk from the fifth grade hall, wanted to do something that would encourage the lowly fifth graders.  So, royal blue spray paint in hand, I proceeded to the walkway.

We then agreed upon the phrase “GO 5TH GRADE” and diligently painted it on the brick wall that lead from the fifth grade into the main building. It was about five feet tall and I was incredibly proud of my art work. ¬†I had a tremendous sense that this would buoy the lagging spirit of some fifth grade little girl who was being bullied by some jackass boy the next fall as she walked from the 5th grade hall to library. ¬†I felt that this would give her the spirit to kick him in the balls or tell him to kiss her ass.

I doubt it did and within minutes I was terrified that I would be arrested for defaming federal property.  Of course I got over it. (After I went back and got the paint can lid with my prints on it!)

I told my daughter the story and she giggled. ¬†She also thought I was crazy. ¬†It makes my throat tight to think about that little girl in fifth grade that was me. ¬†I want to fight for her still today. ¬†I am grateful that my daughter did not have that kind of fifth grade, but I know she will have other kinds of injustices to deal with in her lifetime. ¬†My youngest daughter is the perpetual underdog, but she is oblivious to it. ¬†I am not. ¬†Those walks to the main building made me a fighter. ¬†They made me love the underdog. ¬†They made me scream, “GO FIFTH GRADE!”

The Value of Memory

6 Comments 08 June 2010

Henri Nouwen was an author and priest among other things and he has written beautiful things that stir my soul.  I could spend an entire blog quoting from his writings and pondering the meanings of this and that, but on the particular subject of memories, I always think of this quote.

“Our hope is built on our memories. ¬†Without memories there are no expectations. ¬†We do not always realize that among the best thing we can give each other are good memories: kind words, signs of affection, gestures of sympathy, peaceful silences and joyful celebrations. ¬†At the time all may have seemed obvious, simple and without many consequences, but as memories they can save us in the midst of confusion, fear and darkness…These memories might be dormant during our day-to-day living, but in times of crisis they often reveal their real revitalizing power.”

I started thinking about this quote because of what I feel like is my current loss of memory. ¬†I feel like I can’t remember things as well as I did in the past. ¬†Things like ideas or names or numbers. ¬†I thought I was losing my mind, but my friend (and past counselor) told me that my brain is simply overloaded and stressed out. ¬†But what is at stake is much greater than names or ideas for posts or even my phone number, for goodness sake, it is my soul! ¬†Life is crushing, it is overwhelming if I allow it to be and I want to be conscious of two things, of giving those I love good memories and remembering the things, the thoughts and the stories that are of value to me.

I have realized that when I am quiet and take a moment, even just an hour or so to think or read or WRITE, that I remember.  I remember the things that are whirling around down in that soul of mine.  My mind can engage and I am able to connect with that soul.  Then there is the realization that more is going on inside this person than the craziness that seems to consume my days and I feel that hope that Nouwen speaks about.  But honestly, I struggle to be quiet, I want to tweet or read a post, or comment or google something or figure out how to become a better writer.

There is always something to do, but I am beginning to believe that if I do not discipline myself to both build memories and remember, then I will all but disappear and lose hope.  This blog actually helps me, it helps my memory.  I have to be still, if even for a few moments, to think, to ponder the things that stir my soul, the experiences that I have lived through today, and in my life, that are in my memory and worth sharing.

But on the flip-side, how easy it can be to spend time writing and not with those whom I long to make new memories with in the here and now.  Fine lines to walk all around me.

Being Sure

9 Comments 06 June 2010

I just finished reading Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates. ¬†I know so many people saw the¬†movie, but I was reading Stephen King’s list of books from 2009 to read and it was one of his top 10. ¬†King insisted that reading it was a must before seeing the movie. ¬†I agree. ¬†It is a beautifully written book and Yates a remarkable storyteller. ¬†I feel as if I know April and Frank Wheeler personally and I became a part of their very complicated and messy lives.

I have been reading it on my Kindleand inevitably people would ask me what I was reading. ¬†When I mentioned¬†Revolutionary Road, I was generally greeted with moans and groans of “oh, that’s so depressing” or “that’s so heavy.” ¬†The classics are full of pain, grief, and relationships that do not end in neat little packages with little bows on top. ¬†Why would we only engage our minds in reading modern fiction that make us feel good? ¬†The reality is that life can be heavy and depressing and reading a book like Revolutionary Road can provoke the reader to consider the complexities of their own lives. ¬†Apart from these reasons, Yates’ use of language and voice are enough to deserve any readers attention.

While I was reading it I stumbled upon a quote by Yates in which he said, “If my work has a theme, I suspect it is a simple one: that most human beings are inescapably alone, and therein lies their tragedy.” ¬†He certainly weaves this theme marvelously throughout Revolutionary Road and the lives of Frank and April Wheeler as well as the other characters in the book. ¬†It is not at all difficult to feel yourself understanding and even “being” Frank Wheeler as goes through the motions of his life.

Yates’ idea is a very challenging thought, his idea that we human beings are inescapeably alone. ¬†While I know that can be the fate of many, and could even be my fate, if I choose it, I believe that we were created for relationship. ¬†I also know that if we as human beings fail to have meaningful relationships we live tragic lives. ¬†Yates paints a picture of this tragedy in his characters in Revolutionary Road and it is my opinion that their tragic flaw is in their inability to be known. ¬†They ¬†can not be authentic with themselves or with one another and therefore they live in utter isolation, incapable of meaningful relationship.

This book was written and set in the 1950s and yet it’s themes are as prevalent today as they were then. ¬†I loved it. ¬†I would love to be able to write with such skill. ¬†To be able to create such poignant and moving stories…brilliant. ¬†But not to worry, I will not end with such “heaviness” I do know that today is Sunday and that means that Pooh must make an appearance. ¬†I have said that I see Winnie the Pooh (A.A. Milne) as a philosopher and this is the case today as well. ¬†Piglet is the voice today and he speaks to this need for human nearness, human relationship. ¬†It is not a deep and mysterious thing that can not be understood, it is as simple as this,

‚ÄúPiglet sidled up to Pooh from behind. “Pooh,” he whispered.

“Yes, Piglet?”

“Nothing,” said Piglet, taking Pooh’s paw, “I just wanted to be sure of you.”

That brings a great contrast to Mr. Yates concept of inescapable loneliness. ¬†Being sure of those we know and love. ¬†Today, I choose Pooh. ¬†I choose relationship, as vulnerable as it makes me, as scary as it may be…it is worth the risk when I consider that remaining all closed-up will end in a tragic tale told by someone like Mr. Yates.

Going Home

9 Comments 04 June 2010

Home is a interesting concept. ¬†Think about how often we use the word. ¬†It has a multitude of meanings, I looked and it has about ten or so actual definitions with descriptors like house, dwelling, place, habitat, country and such. ¬†I am mulling this over because I am currently in my hometown and my daughter wants to see the “home” where I grew-up.

That is not an easy task as I lived in six different houses in my first eighteen years and my parents, who are now divorced, have lived in seven different places between them since I left home for college. ¬†I don’t really associate home with a place, a house, or a dwelling. ¬†I know that a great number of people have a place that they spent their entire lives growing-up, I am just not one of them.

One of the definitions of home spoke of ¬†a valued place regarded as a refuge or place of origin. ¬†I feel like that definition resonates in my soul more deeply than any of the other definitions. ¬†When I think of home as a refuge and I think back on my childhood I think of my grandparent’s home. ¬†They lived about twenty minutes from my hometown and we generally spent at least one weekend night with them and had Sunday lunch with them every week. ¬†Those weekend nights were spent at the local horse show eating Cracker Jacks and those early Saturday mornings were spent with my Nana at the beauty parlor. ¬†The memories are fantastic.

I also have vivid memories of my Nana and Gaga’s home, the deep green shag carpet, the wood paneling walls, the linoleum kitchen floor with the big black burn circle from where Nana had dropped a hot skillet, the big grey rocks in the driveway, the pool table in the back part of the house, the quilts that Nana used to make my bed on the couch, my Gaga’s recliner and the Pinky and Blue Boy prints that hung on the den wall. ¬†These are just a few of the things that I can close my eyes and conjure up with my mind’s eye.

Maybe it was the sameness, the stability of the one house, but I truly believe it was how I felt when I was there as a child.  I felt safe and I felt home.  Home is something you feel, down deep inside, it is connected to relationship.  My grandparents were killed in a car accident 33 years ago this month.  They had just left our house.  My sister, brother and myself had lined-up like little stair steps to kiss them and tell them we loved them.  We waved good-bye to never see them again and within half an hour a truck from Ozark truck lines was on top of their car. They were gone in an instant.

I have often wondered if in that instant a sense of security and home was taken from my entire family.  As a nine year old child I remember sitting and holding my knees, weeping.  I just kept thinking God had taken them because I had not been good enough.  No home, no house would ever be the same for me as a child.  But I had learned the sense, the feeling, the reality of what home was and I have known it as an adult and hope and pray my own children know it.  We have moved several times because of jobs.  My kids have lived in three different cities and several houses.

I love Patty Griffin, have I mentioned that? ¬†(I will mention it a lot!) ¬†She has a new album out called Downtown Church that I, of course, love. ¬†She sings a haunting duet with Julie Miller called¬†Coming Home To Me . ¬†It reminds me that I am not going to live on this earth forever, that I am going home to someone, a someone that I am confident shares the company of my grandparents already. ¬†It also makes me want to sing it to my children and remind them that regardless of where they go, what they do, or where we live…their home, as long as they walk this earth, is always with me.

What do you think of when you think of home?  Where is your home?  I would love to hear your stories.

Fortune Cookies ROCK!

4 Comments 02 June 2010

So, as I have said before, multiple times…I HATE to cook. ¬†Okay, hate may be a strong word, but it just seems like it is this little dark rain¬†cloud that follows me around everyday. ¬†Well, today it was supposed to be a “birthday” dinner for my husband. ¬†Yes, one of those special dinners. ¬†This would push it right up there to the hate tipping point for sure. ¬†He is easy, he would eat anything, but really, anything less than something out of the ordinary would be…well, not birthday worthy. ¬†So, I stepped it up and went all out and ORDERED Chinese food!

Everyone was happy and we did the present thing and my husband received a birthday prize that we could not afford and it was all over. ¬†After the festivities I walked into the kitchen and I saw that my offspring had cracked open all of the fortune cookies. ¬†I was not deterred, however, as I knew that at least one of those fortunes was mine and only mine. ¬†After riffling through each and every one of them, I finally came to mine. ¬†It read, “You have a charming way with words and should write a book.”

I snatched it right up and stuck it in my pocket. ¬†It was the great assurance that I needed to continue writing this little blog. ¬†Pause. ¬†Longer pause still. ¬†And if you believe that my dear, then you should certainly play me in a game ¬†of “BullShit!” ¬†Come on people! ¬†Really! ¬†Anyway, it was enough to get a little chuckle out of me and I did shove it in my pocket. ¬†I think I will tape it to the wall right over my desk as a reminder that empty flattery will get you nowhere fast.

In all honesty, I keep writing this blog because I do love to write and when I stop trying so hard, it is easy for me to do.  But by far, the greatest and most important reason is found in the responses, both seen and unseen that I have gotten since I started.  There have been so many, but my best real life fortune cookie came from an old college friend.  We hardly know each other, but have reconnected through this blog.  She too has a special needs child and her life has limitations galore.

Her note to me was long and thoughtful, but I’ll give you the “fortune cookie” part:

Reading your blog has inspired me to clean off my desk and, as Virginia Woolf said, to create a room of my own; to find those articles I had put in a good place so that when I had time later on, I could write about the ideas that had prompted me to save them in the first place; and to get out sheet music I used to like to play and sing, and well, play and sing, even if the audience is only my eldest who claps when it’s good or laughs when it’s not! So thank you for speaking to my heart.

That is the best damn fortune cookie I could ask for as far I am concerned! ¬†I want to write to inspire, to empower to encourage. ¬†I want my story to reconnect you with your story and help consider the questions that might make you move forward to pursue a more authentic and passionate path. ¬†The quote that my friend references by Virginia Wolfe, in its entirety, reads like this, ‚ÄúA woman must have a room of her own if she is to write fiction.‚ÄĚ ¬†Not to be disrespectful in any way to Miss Wolfe, but I believe a woman must have a room of her own if she is to write, paint, sculpt, draw, sing, play, read, meditate….you get where I’m headed.

Find a place, find a room and crack open your fortune cookie…see what’s inside of that beautiful soul of yours. ¬†What have you been pushing aside all these years? ¬†You just never know what you might find on that little slip of white paper. ¬†(If it just has a bunch of red numbers, play ’em & if you win, give me a call! ūüėČ )

Don’t Say That Word

5 Comments 01 June 2010

M.H. & Marcus at Special Olympics

I read a post on another blog called Rock on Mommies that talks about her little girl swearing. ¬†It made me laugh…out loud. ¬†I am sure it would raise some eye brows from lots of folks I know. ¬†Cursing is a really, really bad thing to do in the world I grew up in and in the world in which I currently reside.

I know it is, as my best friend says to her children, “poor judgement,” sometimes, but honestly, there are times when there just aren’t other words that adequately suffice. ¬†I don’t think I was very much of a fan of cursing until my husband went to school to become a preacher. ¬†Ironic, huh?

Or maybe it was when my daughter, the one who couldn’t say a word until she was five, started talking and one of the very first phrases was full of profanity. ¬†And, no, it wasn’t from me!

M.H. (my daughter) was placed in a classroom for mentally retarded kids when she was four. ¬†And on her very first day, a day I will never forget, we met Marcus. ¬†He was this beautiful little boy who had Downs Syndrome and an awful potty mouth. ¬†The first phrase I heard him say was “Fu#@&* you bitch!” to the teacher. ¬†I was stunned, but took some solace in the fact that M.H. couldn’t talk yet. ¬†The year moved along and by spring, M.H. was beginning to try to put words together and of course, we were excited!

We took a trip out to San Diego to stay with a Minister and his wife to basically interview for a future job with his church. ¬†It was while we were there, in his house, that M.H. unveiled her new phrase of choice, “[email protected]#$ ass.” ¬†It was shocking and funny all at the same time. ¬†We were completely unable to do anything about it and thus humbled to the core.

Thus began my new relationship with cursing. ¬†The words that my religious culture found so offensive were still “bad” words, but they were in my life to stay. ¬†Trying to get an obsessive compulsive retarded child to stop doing something is like trying to nail jello to a wall.

We eventually left Marcus when we left St. Louis, but those phrases are still spinning around in M.H.’s head and periodically fly out, even five years later. ¬†And yes, they have been joined by my slip-ups of damn, hell and an occasional shit (ha!). ¬†But for those of you who look down your noses at parents like me, you know, us cursing parents, well, come walk a day in my shoes and see if you don’t let a few fly!

Here’s to Marcus and M.H. and all of the other completely oblivious people out there who curse without knowing its bad. ¬†Aren’t there more important things to worry about after all…like caring for people like Marcus and M.H.?

Be what you are…

9 Comments 31 May 2010

Sounds kind of hokey, I know. ¬†But at its core, there is such a profound truth, such a freeing and life-giving and honesty. ¬†I am longing to own this as a forty-two year old woman and it is difficult. ¬†I look at my fifteen year old daughter and I cannot imagine how difficult it must be for her to own it. ¬†I think about it constantly and I read this particular phrase in a quote from the actor/singer/producer Barbara Streisand. ¬†The entire quote read like this, “A human being is only interesting if he’s in contact with himself. I learned you have to trust yourself, be what you are, and do what you ought to do the way you should do it. You have got to discover you, what you do, and trust it.”

Barbara tends to be a bit political for some, but her talent is another subject. ¬†She is quite remarkable. ¬†I personally love the movie¬†The Way We Were with the absolutely beautiful Robert Redford (Isn’t funny how no one seems to care how political Robert is, is it because he is a man? Huh?). ¬†It is a one of those great films that can provoke a dozen different conversations and make you laugh and cry, mostly cry. ¬†Barbara is a woman who has chosen her path and persevered. ¬†That I respect, regardless of politics, and this quote, I agree with as well. ¬†I must admit that I wish someone had given me this advice when I was seventeen.

I was reading my new friend Judy Helfand’s post today called Bystander Effect on Broken Blogs and Websites and she talks about looking out for one another when we see something that’s gone badly. ¬†She has a very funny clip from the fabulous show Designing Women, in which Julia has walked down the runway with her dress tucked in her pantyhose. ¬†Unfortunately, Julia wasn’t wearing any underwear, as many of us southern gals don’t with pantyhose, and she gave the entire fashion audience a “full moon.” ¬†She is completely humiliated and simply asks, “Why didn’t somebody tell me?”

That was the case when I was seventeen. ¬†It seemed that everyone, and I mean everyone wanted me to be Miss Olive Branch. ¬†Why? ¬†Well, I suppose they wanted to make me more feminine and they thought this was the vehicle to do it. ¬†Or maybe they wanted me to feel more confident and felt this was the path to get me there. ¬†Or maybe it was because my sister was the one and only original Miss Olive Branch and they thought that if I followed in her footsteps I would blossom into the lovely woman she had become. ¬†I really don’t know, but they were determined.

Practices began, the dress was purchased and the proverbial snow ball was pushed over the edge of the precipice and it began to roll down a hill of no return that I will never in my life forget. ¬†Even the high school principal cheated a bit in that he gave me the keys to the high school auditorium so that I could sneak in after school and practice on the stage in order to lessen my nerves and gain some much needed confidence in my “floating” across the stage.

I had a dear friend who was probably ten years older than me and she spent countless hours coaching me on my walk, my talk, and everything in between. ¬†The main thing that mortified me was the opening dance. ¬†I absolutely hated to dance in front of people. ¬†I had started drinking at age 14 because I was so brutally insecure about what I saw as my inability to dance. ¬†I had not made that dreaded drill team in seventh grade because I couldn’t do the “rock” and it had scarred me. ¬†Now they wanted me to dance, on stage, in front of the whole town. ¬†This was a nightmare.

But if I was anything, I was a pleaser and I wanted the approval of all of these people. ¬†This went against everything in me, it wasn’t me, it wasn’t what I wanted to be. ¬†Me as a pageant girl was like Laura Bush as a pole dancer. ¬†It really wasn’t my thing. ¬†But approval, that I wanted. ¬†So, the big night came. ¬†I stumbled, with great humiliation through the opening dance. ¬†I put on my fuschia gown and I did what I thought was a fairly awesome job of “floating” across that stage.

However, as I caught the faces of those I knew in the audience, there was a horrifying look on their faces. ¬†Especially my coach and friend. ¬†What was wrong I wondered, I was floating, I was gliding? ¬†I would later learn that my left hand, was acting out my inner angst and anxiety, unbeknownst to me. ¬†It had frozen itself in the shape of a claw, very much like that of an eagle’s claw. ¬†So, as I paraded around the stage, heavy eye make-up, hair high and tight with hair-spray, lip stick and big smile, my hand was screaming, “Get me the hell off this stage, this is not my gig!”

I got 4th Runner-Up and it was all over. ¬†Don’t get me wrong, I certainly never expected to win, and it was a great learning experience, but as I giggle about it today and tell my friends about “The Claw,” I think about how backwards the entire event was for me. ¬†There was a voice in my head that was saying, what are you doing. ¬†This is so not you, but I did not trust my voice.

As I look back now, I want to ask the question that Julia asks, “Why didn’t somebody just tell me?” ¬†We all need someone in our lives to just say, “Hey, that isn’t you, you can say no. ¬†You can listen to yourself and be true to who you are.” ¬†I want to be that somebody for my daughter and I want to be that somebody for my friends who are big girls in my life today as well.

Whether it is what I can do or what I cannot do, I want to know myself better and trust myself. ¬†I am a writer, not a techie, I love to travel, not cook, I love people and helping them, I love my family, I am a learner and a teacher and a multitude of other things, but I can not do it all! ¬†That means saying no to a lot of things so that I can say yes to the things that matter. ¬†I would much rather be myself and do the things I do well than try to do what others want me to do the rest of my life, making others happy, and end up living like “The Claw.” ¬†ūüėČ

Pooh says…

5 Comments 30 May 2010

This world of social media moves at neck-break pace and there is so much to take in that even the most committed and aggressive learner can, after a few months, feel very defeated. ¬†I am on the verge of that defeat. ¬†It is like knowing there is a world that you really want to be a part of, an ocean that you are certain you can swim in, yet you can’t seem to find the right path, or the right river to get there.

Pooh says, ‚ÄúRivers know this: there is no hurry. We shall get there some day.‚ÄĚ ¬†So, I am going to at least try to listen to Pooh today.

I have hired someone to set-up my blog and my website and yet I really feel like I need someone on call to run things by every other day. ¬†Someone to tweek, to fix and to help me along the way. ¬†I don’t need, nor can I afford someone full-time or even part-time, but I need a techie someone who can do this stuff. ¬†I also need someone to help me come up with a business model. ¬†I have joined The Third Tribe and gotten great help from so many friends there and I have just recently signed-up for Sonia Simone’s Remarkable Marketing Blueprint as well. ¬†If I had nothing else to do but read and learn, maybe, just maybe I could figure it out.

Then I tweet, I use Twitter, I connect with other bloggers, mommy-bloggers, social media folks, and women writers.  I am just trying to figure it all out and I can get so overwhelmed and feel as if I am just behind!  I have to just put it all aside, have a (BIG) glass of a good, Oregon, Pinot Noir and hang out with my friends.  Most of all, I have to just find my way and remind myself that I am not behind.

So today, I will go with Pooh, there is no hurry, we will get there someday! ¬†Anyone got a tube though? ¬†I’ve had a little too much Pinot and I shouldn’t try to stay in this river too long without one :)!

What can Glee teach me?

4 Comments 29 May 2010

Last week I watched a very moving version of¬†Poker Face , a song that I have never heard in my life, a song that I have since learned is actually Lady Gaga’s song, and I had a lump in my throat. ¬†Okay, I am not a Glee fan, but my fifteen year old daughter is and I must admit, after watching the show a couple of weeks with her, I must admit, it is fun. ¬†I certainly enjoy listening to some of the great musical hits from back in “the day.” ¬†But it caught my attention that night, and without going into all of the storyline (since I am sure I couldn’t tell you everything correctly) I will tell you why it has plunged me into thought. ¬†This song, as it was played out in this little melodrama, for me, scratched the surface of the vast and intricate world known as…the fragile relationship between mothers and daughters. ¬†And it came on the heels of a conversation that had taken place the morning before at my Starbucks.

Listen to the Glee Version of Poker Face :

You see, I sit every morning at a little table in Starbucks, in my little neighborhood. ¬†And while it may seem to some that the group of women I meet there, pretty much on a daily basis, are carefree, middle-class women who have nothing better to do than sit and drink our expensive coffee and fritter our days away, that just simply isn’t the case. ¬†In fact, if you knew us, you would know that this silly coffee shop is nothing short of our modern day “porch” and we are no different than the generations of women who have gone before us, gathered around their kitchen tables or their clothes lines.

Our lives and the burdens that we carry on a daily basis are as varied as we are, as are our socio-economic statuses, our spouses’ jobs, our family lives and our backgrounds. ¬†Some of us work in an office, some are self-employed, others are single and others practically run the local school. ¬†Our tie is that we are women and we are all mothers. ¬†This ritual of sorts, this meeting of the minds, in this spot, is our community. ¬†We come together to support one another to encourage one another and to remind one another that we are not alone.

Various topics are discussed around our little table each day, some may be frivolous, but for the most part, it is a safe place to lay before one another the burdens that have kept us up the night before or the stories that have caused belly laughs on the way to school. ¬†It is good to have a place to bring your life, a place to be known and to know others. ¬†Yesterday, the topic was mothers, who we are as mothers and how we were mothered. ¬†We talked about what kind of mothers we are to our children, we talked about what it was to be our particular mother’s daughter. ¬†Our similarities and our differences with our mothers.

So what in the world does this have to do with a silly television show and Lady Gaga? ¬†Well, if you watch Glee, you know the storyline, if not, the character singing Poker Face had finally found her birth mother and after a brief reunion of sorts, the birth mother has communicated that she isn’t really interested in having a “grown-up” daughter. ¬†There is a seeming disconnect between the two of them, except for their shared musical talent. ¬†Thus, the moving rendition of “Poker Face.” Initially, I thought, oh, this is a cute song. ¬†But, by the end of the song, I was in a very different spot emotionally. ¬†While my take away may have nothing to do with the producer/writer’s intention, because of my conversation with my tribe at Starbucks, this is where my heart lead me.

The line in the song that pinned me to the wall was “she’s got to love nobody.” ¬†A mother that has got to love nobody. ¬†The song ends with this line and the mother walks away. ¬†There were so many threads of our conversation in Starbucks about mothers, so many moments of the women lamenting at one point or the other a sense of not being loved, or at least not ¬†being loved for who they felt that they truly were…by their mothers. ¬†And then the ultimate fear expressed by each of us, on some level, that we could possibly do the same to our own children…

Loving as a mother is not just about being in a child’s life, it is not simply showing up and taking care of the obligations, although those are givens for a mother who loves her child, but it can’t end there. ¬†So, what does it mean to love our children? ¬†It left me wondering, what does it mean for me?

I don’t want any version of that line running through my daughter’s (or my son’s for that matter) mind one day. ¬†I do have to love somebody, and not just any SOMEBODY, I’ve got to love my somebody, my daughter, just as she is! ¬†I do want to love my somebody. ¬†I do not want to live my life with a poker face, especially with my daughter. ¬†I want her to see my cards, which will mean me being emotionally vulnerable with her, which can be messy and even frightening. ¬†However, that is a risk I would rather take than to have her feel as if I am a facade of a person who lives at the emotional fringe of her life, never accessible to her heart.

I have to love her and let her love me; love her real “somebody” and let her love my real “somebody.” ¬†I know, seems a lot to get from a Lady Gaga song, but I really can’t stop thinking about it, I’m just sayin! ¬†So, even though the¬†conclusions that we come to at our Starbucks every morning are rarely worthy of mention to anyone outside of our little circle, we move out into our separate lives fuller and more settled than when we arrived. ¬† And I will take my newly discovered version of Poker Face to Starbucks next week…and I will use it to remind my friends that we must love learn to “love our SOMEBODIES!”

I am fairly certain…

18 Comments 27 May 2010

That is the beginning of the quote on a card my best friend gave me. ¬†It reads like this, “I am fairly certain that given a cape and a nice tiara, I could¬†save the world.” ¬†(Curly Girl Design/Leigh Standley) ¬† That is what my friend thinks of me. ¬†On really good days I have moments that I think it of myself. ¬†Today, yesterday and for that matter, the last week have not been those days.

The only thing that I feel very certain of right now is that I must keep going. ¬†I must put one foot in front of the other or these people, especially the three that started out in my womb and the one who help me conceive them, will be without. ¬†I don’t mean to make myself sound all important, but really, it is quite possible that they would fall to pieces and be unable to continue in their beautiful lives if I were to stop doing all that I do on a daily basis and just up and leave.

Don’t think that I have not considered just stopping and leaving. ¬†I have and I do consider it. ¬†I daydream about it. ¬†What would it be like to just stop picking up that wet towel off of the bedroom floor every single damn day? ¬†What would it be like to stop wiping off the kitchen counter every single morning after a certain individual, oh, say around forty-ish, leaves crumbs from his cereal, yogurt from my daughter’s medicine and the little blue capsule from her medicine (yes, EVERY DAY)? ¬†What would it be like if my daughter actually picked her dirty clothes up off the bathroom floor and put them in the hamper that is a mere two feet away, without a lid on it? ¬†What would it be like if my diabetic son actually threw his used syringes and test strips in the trash can and not on the floor? ¬†What would it be like to have SOMEONE, anyone, do something, anything, without being told to do it?

What if I just stopped? ¬†Would they live like pigs? ¬†Would they miss me, know I’m gone? ¬†How would they get clean clothes, clean dishes, groceries?

And it isn’t just the normal things, I will even do things like I did yesterday…I fixed the damn dishwasher! ¬†Yes, half my body was stuck back in there, disgusting dirty water up to my elbow, broken glass plugging up the drain as I try and figure out what made water pour out all over my kitchen floor at 6:30 a.m. yesterday morning. ¬†Turns out that if you pull that little cage thing off (very hard to do, but even harder to get back on!) and use your friend’s shop vac, that she kept after her divorce, (good call!) you can fix it, yes you can! ¬†You can also injure your back putting said shop vac into your vehicle, just a little fyi.

Hell, maybe I can save the world, or at least my family!  The truth of it is, I will never know what will happen if I stop doing all of those things, because I will never stop doing them and I will never leave.  I will bitch and I will moan and groan, but I will always come back and keep doing what I do for my family.  Because I am the WOMAN, I am the MOTHER and I get it done.  Yes, there are days that I feel like I carry the weight of the world on my shoulders, but my shoulders are strong and I am surrounded by women who hold them up when they see them falling and I am always certain of those women, they are my friends.  They are the other women and mothers in my life who have their own tiaras and capes and worlds of their own to save.

They remind me that I am not alone; and they adjust my tiara and wipe the muck from the dishwasher off of my cape. ūüėČ

Are you good at asking for…HELP?

8 Comments 25 May 2010

I am good at helping. ¬†As a matter of fact, I probably default to helping others when I should probably be taking better care of myself. ¬†It is some form of therapy my old counselor (who will remain nameless, because she is now my friend ūüėČ ) says! ¬†But also, I am what the good folks that descended from Carl Jung call a ENFJ, which is:

Warm, empathetic, responsive, and responsible. Highly attuned to the emotions, needs, and motivations of others. Find potential in everyone, want to help others fulfill their potential. May act as catalysts for individual and group growth. Loyal, responsive to praise and criticism. Sociable, facilitate others in a group, and provide inspiring leadership.

Now, what that also means is that I do not ask for help easily and often times, I am not necessarily attuned to what I need. ¬†But while I was reading my new friend Mack Collier‘s post today about what I could do to help him, I was inspired to help myself. ¬†Funny, huh? ¬†Actually, Mack suggested that I write a post about how my readers could help me and in doing so, it would help him.

So, you might say this is a backassward way of helping someone else that in turn helps me, but either way, six of one, half a dozen of another. ¬†I am doing it. ¬†So here goes…here are some things you, as my readers can do to help me…

1. ¬†Tell me how I can help you. ¬†If you find yourself within a “pale” of sorts, in a spot in your life where you feel like you have given up pursuing your passions, how can I help you push beyond it?

2. ¬†Send the link to my blog to your friends, your family, your co-workers, your cleaning lady, your neighbors, your kid’s ENT, your ex-husband’s new girlfriend, hell…send it to anybody you want to send it to, just send it! ¬†I would love to have an opportunity to be passed around! ūüėČ

3.  If you are a tweeter on Twitter, tweet me, Retweet me by tweeting my post or RT me when I tweet my post.  That sounds really confusing, but if you tweet you can decipher. (I am @beyondpalegal on Twitter)

4.  If you are a Social Media wizard and want to help me get linked to other people out there, teach me how!

5. ¬†The women that I want to reach are women in their mid-lives who have found that somewhere along the way they lost themselves. ¬†They laid down their dreams, gifts and passions and got lost in the roles, expectations of their contexts and relationships. ¬†Or, they were women who found themselves on the curb as the lives they planned sped away in a bright red convertible called “divorce” or “death.”

I want to help them excavate their dreams and live the next forty plus years with greater fulfillment and passion in those same contexts and relationships because they are living a fuller expression of who they were meant to be.

Are you one of those women?  Do you know one of those women?  Are you becoming one of those women?  We are all that woman to some extent or another and I invite you to read, participate and join us!  If you know of a group, a niche, a blog where these women buzz around like bees, hook me up..take me to the Queen!

6. ¬†I want to make a living. ¬†Yes, I said it. ¬†I write, I help and I can empower women through both. ¬†I am in the process of excavating my own dreams and I want to do this for the rest of my life. ¬†In order for that to happen, I have to have income. ¬†So, help me figure out how to make a living doing the above. ¬†The Third Tribe has given me a great start, but if you want to take me under your wing…I am willing to fly, I am teachable, let’s go.

Oh yeah, I have no idea how to put Google Analytics on here.  Anyone wanna help me do that?

Okay Mack, is that enough? ¬†Am I putting my neediness out there? ¬†I feel naked now – thanks a lot! ¬†ūüėČ

“I think that somehow, we learn…”

2 Comments 25 May 2010

Thus begins the quote that has prompted much discussion and thought between myself and several of my friends, including my husband.  It is a quote by a remarkable woman, one that is either thought a hero or not so much, depending on your political affiliation.  Her name is Eleanor Roosevelt and if you spend just a little bit of time reading about her or reading her writings, I promise, regardless of your political leanings, you will be intrigued and, if you allow yourself, impressed.

The quote in its entirety reads like this, “I think that somehow, we learn who we really are and then live with that decision.” ¬†I was introduced to the quote by my fifteen year old daughter. ¬†She is an artist and makes unique projects for her girlfriends as gifts and she often incorporates quotes that she finds enlightening or encouraging. ¬†I saw this one at the top of her quote list on her art easel and it stuck. ¬†The reason was simple, it was true. ¬†This comment that Mrs. Roosevelt¬†(You Learn by Living: Eleven Keys for a More Fulfilling Life)¬†had made, that someone had written down and preserved as her wisdom through the years, has become somewhat of a mantra for me as I remind myself that I am learning who I am, always, and I am living with that decision.

The more I learn and rest in that reality, the more accepting I am of who I am, who I was made to be, the more at peace I am with myself and with others. ¬†I am completely unique. ¬†And yet I am constantly comparing myself with someone in every single area and aspect of my life. ¬†In each and every role of my life there is a standard bearer, there is an “A team” girl that always makes me look like I suck. ¬†But the wisdom in Eleanor’s quote is this, I don’t have to be A team girl in every aspect of life, I have to be Jorja.

I need to learn who Jorja is and I have to live with that truth. ¬†I can’t live comfortably with who I am until I know who I am now can I? ¬†This has been so true of my life experience. ¬†I’ll give you a for instance. ¬†I took shop (you know, where you build bookends and a cutting board shaped like a pig & do leather crafts) instead of home economics when I was in 7th and 8th grades. ¬†I love to fix things, build things and I am really great with technical stuff. ¬†I can hang curtains, load an ipod, set up a computer, do minor plumbing, wiring, well, you get the picture. ¬†However, give me a cookbook and you might just make me cry. ¬†It’s not that I can’t do it if you put a gun to my head, but I really, really don’t want to do it and I don’t enjoy it! ¬†Now, I love to eat it, but making it, no thanks.

My best friend, on the other hand, she could give Julia Child a run for her money, Martha Stewart a real lesson or two and maybe save Paula Dean from a heart attack? ¬†She is just all that, and she keeps her house like, well, not like me! ¬†So, I am not my best friend. ¬†I don’t have her gifts and she doesn’t have mine. ¬†I have learned that about myself. ¬†But even bigger, and far more important, I am not a bad mother or wife because I lack a flair for domesticity and have a gift for techno-whatever! ¬†Nor is my best friend an idiot because she can’t set-up the Wii or load her kids ipods the night before Christmas! ¬†It is who I am and it is who she is, it is how we are both wired, so I am learning and she is learning, each of us to live with our respective realities by not comparing ourselves to each other. ¬†Instead, I appreciate her gifts, and I value mine, and visa versa.

I also teach my children to value mine and encourage them to value their own, even if they aren’t the “norm.” ¬†It is important that we teach our children to value their own giftedness, regardless of what that giftedness may be. ¬†Each of them is different and our culture can press in pretty hard on them, and us, setting up some very distinct boundaries, at a ridiculously young age about what and who they should be. ¬†For Pete (& Susie’s) sake, let them be who they really are, let them be who they were made to be and love them for it! ¬†I want to keep talking about this…more next time.

Let’s Be Scandalous…Shall We?

11 Comments 24 May 2010

What does “beyond the pale” mean? ¬†The phrase itself has a rich history, but for our use, let‚Äôs keep it simple. ¬†A pale was used to mark a limit or a boundary. ¬†To live beyond it was thought, well, sometimes…scandalous! ¬†To quote Charles Dickens from his 1837 The Pickwick Papers , ‚ÄúI look upon you, sir, as a man who has placed himself beyond the pale of society, by his most audacious, disgraceful, and abominable public conduct.‚ÄĚ ¬†Now while I have no intention of encouraging such behavior, I do want to push us to think about our own personal pales.
I think these pales are rarely noted because we spend most of our days trying desperately to live up to some set of expectations, trying hopelessly to morph ourselves into the form of someone we thing we should be. ¬†These limits or constraints bind us, keep us from learning who we are, what our passions are and how to use our gifts fully for our betterment and the betterment of the world around us. ¬†I believe that by mid-life, somewhere between our mid-thirties and our mid-forties, we often find ourselves living within a “pale” of sorts, a boundary that is either self-imposed or imposed by any number of outer societal pressures that we allow. ¬† We give these other voices and ear and live lives within their bounds, lives that do not reflect authenticity or a true reflection of our hearts. ¬†It happens subtly and often times we mean well, but along the way, the entirety of who we are as individuals is swallowed up and absorbed into someone else or something else. ¬†There are some women who have this happen in only minimal ways and they are fortunate indeed.
However, I know first-hand and have encountered a plethora of others along this, as Meredith (Grey’s Anatomy) would say, “dark and twisty path” of mine, who have known it to be true of their experience as well. ¬†For some time I thought it was unique to our southern culture, but as I have traveled, lived in other parts of the country, I have come to believe that I was mistaken. ¬†And so, it is the combined experiences of a great number of women that have birthed this little blog into reality. ¬†I have a deep, deep desire to “LIVE BEYOND THE PALE” and to help other women do the same.
The basic premise here is to consider the pale or pales that you have taken on in the first half of your life. ¬†I am a woman who has lived a good portion of her life inside the pale, inside the limits, the borders, that have been set for me. ¬†Some of those borders have been set by societal norms, some by the religious establishment, some by a smaller sect within the religious establishment, some by my own personal demons, others by family traditions and on and on. ¬†(side note-not all borders are bad…I‚Äôll get to that in another blog!) ¬†The problem with living within the pale, as termed above, is that in my twenties and a good portion of my thirties I morphed myself into something, quite often, that was not me at all. ¬†My essence was absorbed into something or someone and I ceased being an individual. ¬†There was little to no differentiation and my spirit disappeared, along with my ability to speak my mind, stand against the establishment and use my voice, especially in the name of justice for myself and other women.
My questioning thoughts about morphing did not seem to surface until my life began to unravel in the most sacred places. ¬†I delivered my third child (2000) and discovered months later that she was mentally handicapped and her developmental delays were pervasive. ¬†Shortly after this world rocker, I am handed the lovely news that my precious son (now 12) had Type 1 Diabetes. ¬†Wasn’t it enough to have one child with life changing problems and struggles, didn’t we have enough to deal with with my daughter. ¬†The blow that I felt when my son was diagnosed was tremendous. ¬†And honestly, it has not been the last.
I laugh sometimes that I keep thinking that we are about to “round a corner” but I just can’t find that damn corner, where the hell is that corner! ¬†All of that to say that when you are given such painful realities it is like being submerged in ice cold water and there are a great deal of things that become remarkably clear. ¬†While that clarity did not come quickly, it has come and that is what has lead me here, to writing this blog. ¬†Because when I finally came up for air, fought my way to the surface, felt that amazing freedom, I wanted to tell someone about it and I really did want to help other women find it.
There are not many things in this life that I am certain of, the mysteries are far more pervasive to me now than the certainties, however, I am certain that I can learn, laugh and love other women and in doing so, we can all be better for it. ¬†And I believe that part of being better is moving beyond some of those boundaries, barriers, limitations that we have lived within for years…so, just call me scandalous…
I’m ready to live beyond the PALE!

It’s good to be GOT

0 Comments 23 May 2010

I am going to begin today making Sundays officially Pooh days.  I find that Winnie the Pooh is quite the philosopher and he and his friends say things that have great meaning and depth.  I have often shared these tid bits with my friends and visa versa and they have never failed to encourage us.

Pooh says, “Poetry and Hums aren’t things which you get, they’re things which get you. And all you can do is to go where they can find you.” ¬†This little quote of Pooh’s is true of poetry and hums, as he calls them, as much as it is true of many other things. ¬†Most importantly, I believe it is true of friendships, true, meaningful friendship.

Friendship is a very ¬†under appreciated and under rated commodity in our world these days, yet it may be one of the greatest treasures we could possess. ¬†When Pooh says that “all you can do is to go where they can find you,” I too believe this gives us insight where friendship is concerned. ¬†It isn’t about location, it is about a frame of mind, a place inside – a heart place.

Where do we go so that we might be found in friendship? ¬†Where does our heart have to be in order to be a friend? ¬†Eleanor Roosevelt says, “Friendship with ones self is all important, because without it one cannot be friends with anyone else in the world.” ¬†We have to like ourselves and find ourselves worthy of being a friend. ¬†Otherwise our friendships are clouded with envy and insecurity and we are never able to let our guard down and enjoy the relationship. ¬†Our hearts have to be settled to some degree on who we are, our own value and worth before we can give any good part of ourselves away to another.

I know how valuable it is to be “got.” ¬†I also know and have experienced the joy of getting a friend. ¬†And I sincerely do believe that we have to be full, a whole, in our own right…ready to walk alongside someone else with whom we share common interests and joys, before we can be a good friend. ¬†Perfect, completely secure?…of course not, but certainly moving in a positive direction.

Just like the characters in the 100 acre wood, we all have our own little corner of the forest and if we are fortunate, very fortunate, we will be found, we will be “got” because it is indeed, good to be “got.”

all about your heart

3 Comments 21 May 2010

my friend kate sent me this song in response to my post yesterday. ¬†i don’t know the artist and had never heard the song, but i think it is lovely…

Imagination = Empathy

8 Comments 20 May 2010

My "special" girl & a friend w/ a great IMAGINATION!

My youngest child is “special.” ¬†Okay, yes, all three of my children are special, but she is the “in between the quote marks” special. ¬†She is ten years old and her life rubs up against mine every single day in ways that make me a very different person than I would have been without her. ¬†One of the things that she has brought to my life has been a new desire to use my imagination.

When she was born my husband and I were in what people down here in the south call “ministry.” ¬†In other words, we were doing religious work and getting paid (not very much) to do it. ¬†There is a certain expectation of those who work in the church in most parts of the world, or at least that would be my educated guess, but here in this southern culture, it is particularly interesting.

When difficult things happen, someone dies, there is suffering or in our case…when you have a baby that has special needs, there is an expectation to say the right things and make sure that everyone knows that you are good with it. ¬†Some call it the “God’s will” way where you are expected to immediately attach goodness and God to even the most painful and sad realities of your life.

At this point in my life, I was guilty of having those expectations of others if they experienced suffering and in turn, when I found out that my baby was mentally retarded, it was all of a sudden my turn at the plate. ¬†Now don’t get me wrong, I initially hit it out of the park. ¬†I said good things and went right along with my “ministry” life as if the pain and the heartache that I was experiencing was a part of some fragility of character that I needed to hide, not the honest reaction of a mother grieving a painful loss.

I was able to turn my life’s seeming tragedy into a nifty little devotional to be shared with whomever. ¬†This lasted for about a year and then my son, who was age five at the time, was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. ¬†I remember vividly driving to the pediatricians office that afternoon and thinking to myself in some sort of prayer to God, “You have got to be kidding me!” ¬†It was no joke, but it seemed like one, a sad and sick joke that was being played on my children.

There were so many people who had insight to give me back then, and honestly, still today.  Some of the things they said to me are not worth repeating, but I bring this up because it was then, facing a very uncertain future with my baby girl and knowing that my son would live his life with a horrible disease, that I realized what was so hard about all of those comments.

They lacked imagination. ¬†To the contrary, comments that were life-giving came from those who imagined what it must be like to be in my shoes. ¬†Most of them really had no idea, but whether they were conscious of their imagining or not, that is what they were doing. ¬†They were considering that even the most profound words could not soothe a mother’s broken heart or put her world back together again. ¬†Indeed, Humpty Dumpty had fallen and the pieces that lay around me were so scattered and seemingly random that I hardly new where to begin with picking them up.

But they imagined…some came along side, some hugged, some cried, some were silent, but all who were able to hold me up were on some level imagining what it must be to be me. ¬†I didn’t know these things then, but over the last nine plus years I have had many opportunities to offer the same imaginative care and I have come to understand how valuable and beautiful it can be.

It wasn’t until I heard J.K. Rowling’s commencement address to the Harvard graduates in 2008 that I felt like the words imagination and empathy came together for me. ¬†Take the time to listen to her, it is a lovely lesson about failure and imagination. ¬†Since then, the two words, empathy and imagination have been inseparable for me. ¬†When I heard Rowling‚Äôs address the first time, I wept. ¬†It struck so deeply within my heart and resonated with something so strong in my soul that I couldn‚Äôt help myself.

Is it true that our lack of imagination is directly proportionate to our lack of empathy towards others who suffer? ¬†I know that many of those in the religious culture that was dominate in my life back then were “well meaning,” however, I do believe that a lack of ¬†imagination is the throne of judgment, it is the seat of scoffers. ¬†It is that ‚Äúnarrow space‚ÄĚ that Rowling paints for us, that ‚Äúmental agoraphobia‚ÄĚ where we ‚Äúrefuse to know‚ÄĚ that keeps us from showing empathy.

Learning to imagine has given me more empathy for those who I would have thought I had nothing in common with before.  What I have found instead of differences are a multitude of similarities.  The most foundational Рwe all suffer the gaps in this lifetime, the pain and the suffering and the brokenness of life.  Regardless of our circumstances, suffering levels the playing field and we are reminded that we are all simply human beings.

My life with my daughter who is “special” is a constant reminder to use my imagination as I need that from others so badly. ¬†So few of us truly know what goes on in a person’s life, behind closed doors, the pain and the grief that they suffer as the result of whatever Humpty Dumpty that has fallen in their lives. ¬†My life is possible on so many levels because of those who took and still take the time to imagine what it is like to live in my skin. ¬†Oh, that I would use my imagination well and show the kind of empathy that has been shown to me.

Just imagine what it must be like…and feel your heart’s capacity to care grow. ¬†You may not be able to put any Humpty Dumptys together again, but everyone can use an extra hand to pick-up their pieces!

Aphrodite Exposed

6 Comments 19 May 2010

Jude Law in Alfie

When I was in high school I wanted to be a movie critic. ¬†As a matter of fact, I wanted to grow-up, move to New York City and take Rex Reed’s job at Rolling Stone magazine. ¬†It was quite a leap for a chick from small town Mississippi. ¬†It didn’t happen. ¬†But I have always loved movies and always felt like the good ones had some morsel of truth in them.

I don’t really remember when I watched the movie Alfie (You know, it had that delicious Jude Law in it a few years back). ¬†However, I will never forget the things I learned from it. ¬†If something stikes me in a film, I will go back and write the quote down. ¬†This is one I wrote down from Alfie, the main character. ¬† ¬†He was a womanizing single guy who never settled down. ¬†In the film he had a girlfriend named Nikki, she was the picture of perfection, but he was displeased with her because of her flaws, her damage. ¬†This was what he said about her.

‚ÄúWhen I was a boy at St. Alban‚Äôs Secondary School, the school took us on this cultural trip to observe art at one of the ‚Äď One of those big famous London museums. ¬†Anyway, when I was there, I came across this statue of a Greek goddess in marble. ¬†Aphrodite, something like that. ¬†Beautiful, she was. ¬†Perfect female form. ¬†Chiseled features. ¬†Exquisite. ¬†I stood in awe of her. ¬†Finally, the teacher calls us all over, and I‚Äôm walking past it, and on the way I notice, in the side of this Greek goddess, all these cracks, chips, imperfections. ¬†Ruined her for me. ¬†Well, that‚Äôs Nikki. ¬†A beautiful sculpture‚Ķdamaged‚Ķin a way you don‚Äôt notice ‚Äėtil you get too close.‚ÄĚ

I got a lump in my throat when he said that in the film. ¬†Not because he was an ass, even though he was…but because I realized I was Aphrodite. I thought, that is the way I’ve lived my life, always trying to make myself look better than I am. ¬†Always fearing that if someone gets too close that they will see what is behind the curtain…who the real “wizard of oz” really is, what she looks like – how full of cracks and chips and imperfections she might truly be! ¬†The sculpture that I relentlessly put out there for people to see is a facade, or at best, she is a shined-up version of the original.

The Nikki (Alfie’s girlfriend) in all of us wants to be loved, damage and all. ¬†We want to be known, seen up close and still treasured as our own version of Aphrodite, a goddess in our own right. ¬†This idea that there is a way to go through life and only put our “Aphrodite” out there, only let people see what we want them to see or only be for them who they need us to be frightens me on one level because I have lived like that and because I still do to some degree.

Granted now there seems enough self-awareness to know when I am putting on that stone face, sculpting myself to be possibly better than I am. ¬†I feel the exhaustion as it takes an immense amount of work to morph myself into a “beautiful sculpture,” trying to keep others from seeing my cracks. I know I want to be constantly moving towards accepting my “too close” view, my scuffed-up, cracked, chipped and flawed self, in order that I might be able to allow others to see the total me and learn to take their opinions in stride.

I don’t need to be worshiped by the masses, I only need to be known and appreciated by a few. ¬†I need to be in¬†true relationships and in true community. ¬†That only happens when I allow others to get close enough to see the damage. ¬†Learning to live with both my fortes and my foibles is a beautiful thing as it frees me from keeping others at arm’s length. ¬†I long to be at a place where I am free to live with my failures, laugh at my foibles and learn from my mistakes.

Women are amazing at community. ¬†I have experienced this community from childhood until this very day and I could not bear my life apart from it. ¬†It is in this community, among those who do know my “too close” view that I am learning to live with who I am, fortes and foibles.

I think it is good to ask ourselves these questions: ¬†Who knows your cracks, chips and imperfections? ¬†Do you have anyone in your life that is close enough to see the damage? ¬†¬†If you find yourself living the exhausting reality of Aphrodite, consider who you might expose yourself to…who will find you just as delightful?

Or maybe you should ask yourself the flip side questions, which can also keep you from meaningful relationships:  Do cracks, chips and imperfections ruin it for you?  Are you willing to continue in a relationship once you get close enough to see the damage?

Expose your Aphrodite…it takes relationships to a whole new level!

Validation

8 Comments 18 May 2010

I worked at Starbucks a few years ago while my husband was in graduate school. ¬†We couldn’t be without health insurance and so I became a

Debra Winger & John Travolta in Urban Cowboy

barista. ¬†I loved the people that I worked with, but the job was no walk in the park. ¬†At the end of my shift I had to count my money by entering my employee number and the little phrase “waiting for validation” would pop up on the screen.

I will never forget the very first time I closed my till in the back room of Starbucks.  That little phrase made me think and kept me thinking.  It struck me how deeply I longed for validation and had longed for it my entire life.  I think we as women are all looking for validation.  My life is full of stories of looking and not finding that validation simply because I was looking for it in the wrong spot.

I saw Urban Cowboy with John Travolta when I was probably in the eighth or ninth grade. ¬†When I watch it now I am surprised that my mother let me see it. ¬†She was fairly strict and it was pretty edgy for a good Baptist girl. ¬†But I think my search for validation could easily have had the background music of the movie’s theme song, “Looking for love in all the wrong places.”

There is a deep need in each of us to be loved, to be validated and even as a young girl I thought that would be found in a boy. ¬†I remember walking down the eighth grade hall and having Keith W. tell me that my hair was just TOO BIG for my body. ¬†Lesson 1: boys do not appreciate skinny girls with body waves from Fantastic Sam’s. ¬†Lesson 2: I was not going to be validated, truly validated…ever-by a boy!

I soon found that looking for validation from a boy gave me a mound of heartache and swollen eyes. ¬†This was all dramatic back in middle and high school, but as I find myself in my forties, it really isn’t much different. ¬†I am surrounded by friends whose marriages have ended after decades. ¬†Marriages that they expected to last a lifetime. ¬†Their heartaches are earth shattering and extend to their children as well. ¬†This need to be validated is still here, still driving decisions and leaving my friends “waiting for validation.”

I think we were actually made with that need and honestly I think it is only satisfied by our coming to a place where we can know we are validated by something bigger than ourselves.  But this then begs the question Рwho made us?  Yes, I do believe that we were made by a Creator, each one of us perfectly crafted and given beautiful gifts to contribute to all of humanity.  I believe that is the foundation of validation.

I think when we come to believe that we are loved perfectly by something bigger than ourselves, bigger than another human being, bigger than our children, bigger than our jobs…that we are indeed validated by the one who made us, then we come to a fulness that allows us to live freely and fully.

My faith hasn’t solved all of my validation issues, I still struggle, but I do believe it has allowed me to stop “waiting for validation” from every other source on the planet.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this. ¬†Do you think women are always “waiting for validation?”

Trouble knows my name (even misspelled!)

13 Comments 16 May 2010

My mom named me Jorja.  She knew a girl in high school named Jorja who had long red hair and green eyes.  I have brown hair and brown eyes.  Go figure.  I have been mispronounced, misspelled and called a list of ridiculous things in my forty-two years because of this name.  Yet, if there was one thing that knew my name when I was a kid and teenager, it was trouble.

I was nine when I forged one of my father’s checks. ¬†I carefully wrote it in pencil and went over it in pen. ¬†It was for a whole five dollars and I cashed it at the elementary school. ¬†I might have gotten away with it, but something about that pencil under the pen caught the bank’s eye. ¬†You see, when you live in small town U.S.A., everyone truly does know everyone and in a blink of an eye, I was a criminal.

The call came in and my mother met me on the steps to the attic where I liked to hang-out. ¬†I promptly denied the charge, but seeing I was the only child in the family that was currently a student at the elementary school didn’t work in my favor. ¬†I cried, I was punished, and it seemed to go away. ¬†I was certainly glad it did go away, because the use of that five dollars had gone towards the purchase of my first pack of cigarettes. ¬†Yes, at nine years old I began my smoking habit! ¬†Ha! ¬†A pack of KOOL cigarettes and my friend Patty and I were busy coughing our heads off behind her house…thanks to me and my new found gift of forgery.

I could look back and say I was clever, or that I was searching, but really…Patty and I just wanted to smoke a damn cigarette and I figured out a way to make it happen. ¬†That is still the person I am today. ¬†I am always figuring out HOW to make it happen, not in a criminal way of course, but making things ¬†happen is what I was meant to do it seems.

I hear someone talking about their business and I immediately want them to know all that I have learned and how it might help them.  I read a book that I find moving and thoughtful and I want to give it to everyone I know so that they might be moved to thought.  A song rings out from my ipod and I am brought to tears and delightful introspection and I am driven to write it all down.  I want to make it happen, I want to help people get somewhere or to some thing.

That is why I am here…some call it trouble…some call it stirring the pot or upsetting the apple cart…I call it making it happen. ¬†If bringing people along, by whatever means, to a place that gives them opportunity for a fuller expression of who they were intended to be, who they long to be…if that is trouble making, let’s make some trouble.

Trouble has always known my name, and I have learned to answer her call!

Let it fly

13 Comments 15 May 2010

photo by katie prentiss

I must say that I thought it would be a huge and fantastic relief to finally put this thing, this blog, this website, this idea…this beast of burden that I have been thinking about, talking about, asking for advice about for months-behind me. ¬†Well, just so you know, I don’t feel any less stressed about it, but I am glad to just let it fly. ¬†That is what it feels like, like I’ve been building this plane, figuring out how to put on the wings, adding a propeller, sticking some wheels on, you know, putting all the pieces together…and the pieces aren’t really what I love.

I love to fly. ¬†I love to write. ¬†I love to put one word in front of the other and tell stories. ¬†I love to tell people about life as I have known it and as I hope it will be, about the places where it has gaps and the places where it is overflowing. ¬†I just needed a contraption to get me up in the air, to put me out there, to give me wings and this is it…for now. ¬†This little blog, this little website…it is my wings and they are very wobbly and very unsure.

So much effort has been focused on getting this thing off the ground that I forgot how frightening it would be to actually be out here, up in the air.  The constant reality of gravity, a.k.a failure, pulling at me and reminding me that with one tilt of the wing and I could be plummeting towards my demise.  But, then again, I hate sitting on the ground and watching others fly.  I think we were all meant to fly.

We may be some badass jet plane or some silly kite, but we were all meant to do and be something and often times life, its twists and turns, and even its good things can distract us from taking flight.  We fail to ever let it fly because we forget that we have wings.  So, I am up here and it is scary, but it is a whole lot better than not ever flying at all.

Thanks for all of the encouragement. ¬†You all know who you are. ¬†You have each made my wings sturdier, stronger and given me courage to take flight. Know that I want nothing more than to do the same with and for you. ¬†Let me know what you need, how can I help you find your wings (and no, I don’t mean like in Beaches!) stop being corny! ¬†I really mean it. ¬†If I can help you figure out what you need to get your little plane off the ground – I’ll help you learn what kind of plane you are and how to – let it fly!

things to make you wonder~

‚ÄúI am a frayed and nibbled survivor in a fallen world, and I am getting along. I am aging and eaten and have done my share of eating too. I am not washed and beautiful, in control of a shining world in which everything fits, but instead am wondering awed about on a splintered wreck I've come to care for, whose gnawed trees breathe a delicate air, whose bloodied and scarred creatures are my dearest companions, and whose beauty bats and shines not in its imperfections but overwhelmingly in spite of them...‚ÄĚ Annie Dillard

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