On the Edge of Darkness

Soul Fighter

Soul Fighter

In Your innocent Light, you
touched the skirt of Darkness

and now you know
and now you understand

to a depth only Experience
can bear

and came away aware

Your Soul touched Darkness
And now You Light the Perimeter.

I wrote this because, as we all sometimes do with things in our lives, I was questioning how I became to be a stepmom to children whose own mother treats them (in my mind) with such cold indifference.

And, I realized, after helping my stepson so much as of late, and he would say “But no one would believe me.” I kept saying, “I do. I do believe you.” And he asked why.

Suddenly, internally, I realized why I could believe him- I had “touched the skirt” of his mother’s darkness. I KNEW because I had experienced her coldness, blatant disregard and belittling.

So, now I stand with my little ol’ innocent Light – on the border of darkness, marking the perimeter so my stepchildren may be able to see what is good, normal, and right.

I do not want to make less of anyone’s experience with “darkness” in life. BUt perhaps by having your own Light brush up against that Darkness, you will safely mark the border for others.

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How Brave Do You Become?

Love Myself

Love Myself

How brave do you become when the heart of another beats only so it may find You?
How brave do you become when the tears of another land on your Soul?
How brave do you become when the mind of another clings to the hope inside You?
How brave do you become when the Soul of another wants to dismantle and instead holds on to your hand?
How brave do you become?

—-
My stepson, Henry, having been with his Mom since Friday showed up on our doorstep bawling again last evening. We talked to him, we called her. And Henry returned to this Mom’s. And then we was back, bawling again. It was now after 10 p.m.

We called her again about Henry spending the night with us. She said, “No” she would rather he come back to her house. She asked my husband, “So are you going to walk Henry back over?” My husband said, “I can’t. We are waiting for someone to pick up the bed we sold at the garage sale. I need to stay if they need help.”

And she said, “Well, just have Henry walk over then.”

And in not one moment did it occur to her, “mother” that she is, that perhaps SHE could walk over and escort Henry home to make sure he was safe. No, she asked others and then could not be bothered herself.

And she wonders why Henry shows up in tears, at our door.

(My husband ended up walking him home, of course. )

The Narrative Gap

Seeing

Seeing

I am not sure how the above picture emerged but it relates to something I have been witnessing.
I think there are those who “see” certain dynamics in life. This is a gift and the sight is often clear and true.
The sight is not the problem.
The vocabulary, however, is.

In our lives and culture, there are certain narratives at play. These narratives may have everything and absolutely nothing to do with the truth.

The problem with the narrative is not that it exists, the problem is that it limits our experiences and our ability to relate our experiences as they are.

A couple of the topics on my blog push up against these “narrative issues”, one such topic being stepparenting. When you think about it, the only cultural narrative that we have surrounding stepparenting is the story of the evil stepmother.

This may be strikingly far from reality and a part of us may know this, but for the majority the relationship with idea of the stepparent begins with the “evil stepmother” narrative. Why? Because it is true? No. Because it is all we have.

What ends up happening, then, is the narrative drives the vocabulary and stories of all who come later. As a stepmom, I am well aware that when I engage in certain situations, I do not begin at point zero. The cultural narrative already has my score at ~ -812 based on the narrative starting point.

When I and others talk about stepparenting, the proverbial cat has our tongue, because we have limited language to pull from based on the cultural narrative available to us. We have to, in our mind, create bigger stories with more examples, and very precise words, to convey our experience, because there is no space for our experience within hte cultural narrative- other than the idea that we are “evil”.

These narratives, of course, are not limited to stepparenting.
They are bountiful and pervasive.

Ask someone who writes on child abuse how difficult it is to find the “right” words to express the experience. It is difficult to find the words, because our cultural narrative about parenting is that all parents are loving and self-sacrficing for their children, especially mothers. Live a life counter to this narrative and the vocabulary to express your experience is limited.

And, of course, we see the broader examples- the narratives associated with one’s skin color, gender, sex, sexuality and so on.

I guess what I think when I see this picture is that witnessing and seeing are powerful acts. In fact, they are the first step in change, because to dismantle the narrative, you first must see it.

Recognition isn’t everything, though.
We must create new narratives that more accurately reflect our experiences.

We must write, and re-write and struggle to find the “right” words, even when our word choices are limited, because that is how new narratives are built- one word at a time.

—-
Above is a self-portrait- sort of. Sometimes my art gets away from me. I request and it insists on being otherwise.
I had done some research about a leg injury and (you will love this) – the injury related to the bladder meridian associated with “Eastern medicine”. This is a “yang” channel-and so I thought I needed some more “fire” energy. Hence, the colors of my picture.

I, personally, do not like this picture, but my inner artist does. It refuses to have the same scale of judgment as the rest of me. I sometimes wonder if my inner artist even cares what the rest of me thinks- I think it is too busy creating its own visual narrative.

Momma Lost Her Head and Found it Blogging

HeadLess

HeadLess

As some of you read in an earlier blog, Slings and Arrows, we have been experiencing a bit of family dynamics recently.

As I was messing around with some pastel fragments, a few shapes emerged on the paper. I saw a reflecting pool/water pool and standing over it a headless monster.

And I somehow resonated with that figure- in a good way.

After being told I was not joyous and made other in the family feel uncomfortable, I felt others saw me as this headless (meaning lacking understanding and insights) monster rambling through the house, leaving a wake of joyless-ness and uncomfortable-ness in her wake.

Children and others would run screaming in the face of this headless beast. 🙂

Of course, I am nothing like this headless monster figure, although it was fun to play with the idea. It made it less hurtful, more ridiculous, and a way to have an image of this absurd dynamic.

The reflecting pool in the image is my need to “see” myself clearly. Despite the labels flung at me recently, I don’t see myself in the ways others have projected upon me.

In the image, I am the monster heading towards the pool- because that is where I will finally “see” myself. My own reflections are what matters, not the strange distortions laid upon me by others. (For those of you readers with an analytical mind who are reading this and thinking, “How would a headless monster be able to see anything, let along a reflection in a pool?”, I have no answer for you. It’s art, it’s an image and it works for me- details be damned. 🙂 )

In some ways, as I looked at this headless monster and my role of stepmom in the family, I realized the reflecting pool, the place I was once again “seen” truly, was in the blogging world.

You have NO idea how much all of your comments, insights and support have helped me. Truly, you don’t. YOu gave this Momma her sense of self ( her head) back and enabled the monster to be seen for what it was- a figment of someone’s imagination.

I don’t know about you, but when I post blogs like I have in the past days, I am very worried about coming off as whiny and self-pitying. But the insights I received back changed this image I held about these blogs. They were messages to myself and others about finding one’s way in life.

It is not always pretty and yes, perhaps, some days, I am a bit monster-like when I am fatigued and overwhelmed- but headless, I have never been. This Momma’s got her head back.

Slings and Arrows

Sling and Arrows

Sling and Arrows

Do you ever lie about what you are blogging about? I do. Or, to be more exact, I choose substitute words for what I am experiencing. The other day I wrote a blog “The End of Innocence” about the internal saboteur and related it to a book proposal I was working on. It was a flaccid version of the truth. For “book proposal” substitute “family dynamics” and the story would be a bit more true.

I was recently reading the book Carry on Warrior: Thoughts on Life Unarmed by Glennon Doyle Melton. The book is in some ways a compilation of her blog postings. During one of the earlier ones, she writes about a “lack” (my word) of intimacy with her husband. Later, she learned he had been having an affair.

In some ways, she realized she had been responding energetically to a situation, although she was not consciously aware (this is my interpretation).

I feel a similar experience (although not the discovery of an affair) in my own family. It’s as if radio waves have been circulating around me and suddenly I have them in tune as I see and hear what is happening.

Although I have blogged some about my husband and stepkids, being a stepmom 1/2 time in a dynamic in which both parents are not the overly-engaged parenting types is difficult. Add to that the sentiment since I stepped into this drama that they are all “fine”, while the rest of the world is just not up to par, and you have a recipe for blame and lack of awareness.

Sadly, I will now admit this- I had projected all feelings relating to my being judged as “failing” on my stepkids’ Mother.

As the background radio waves have come into tune, I realize I could not have been more wrong. My husband and stepkids frequently see me as the problem. Perhaps, “frequently” is not strong enough-how about we try “always”?

Just a few examples- my stepdaughter almost left a 425 degree oven on overnight. I expressed my concern and worry. I was told by her that “everyone forgets” and by my husband that I make everyone feel “uncomfortable”. Yes. Discomfort was actually a goal, because I thought it may stimulate the behavior to change.

Other examples have been: No one can relate to me. The kids are there one night and I ruin everything. I am always such a problem. And, finally, that no one can have fun with me because I am not joyous.

How convenient for them that they can sit and feel so confident and fine in themselves while I make others uncomfortable and am so un-joyous myself that no one can have fun with me.

And for those of you have lived in similar dynamics, I won’t recount the “set-ups” by them. Of how they won’t honor what I need, and then a countdown clock begins to wonder when I will lost it. Crazy-making at its best.

Slings and arrows…slings and arrows. I drew the woman above to capture how this feels. To her left, near her breast, is an orange arrow headed towards her. She is already off balance and ungrounded (my fear of what will be said to me next).

A blue stream pours from her, forming a spiraling pool near her lower let to the right.

We are all gifted in this life with our challenges and awarenesses. I don’t have any answers now, except the dream I had last night. Where the simple message was this: the love I bestow so freely upon others should find a home in myself.

I don’t post this blog as a “poor me” scenario nor to capture a sense of “Look! at how awful my husband and stepkids can be”. This is not my intent.

My intent is this- within every dynamic that is challenging, we need one simple prayer. “Give me just a sliver of space and light, dear God, so that I may maneuver into something better.”

We don’t need to change the world, we don’t need to change others, we just need that space, that bit of light, so that we reach reach towards it.

What Children Show us About Possibility Thinking

Winged Flight

Winged Flight

As I have written before, this past year I picked up my teenage stepdaughter from school once a week and took her out to do whatever she would like. I did this whether she was at our home or her Mom’s. Our excursions were seldom spectacular in nature- a little Starbucks here, a bit of Target there.

Because it is summer and I am not teaching the load I normally do during the academic calendar, I offered to my 10-year old stepson that I would also like to begin taking him out for some one-on-one time. Perhaps not every week, but we could do it when we could.

When I spoke to him about this option, he looked at me with big eyes and said, “I have been waiting SO long for you to ask me.”

I was quite struck by this. I had been taking my stepdaughter out for some woman-to-woman bonding time. I had never imagined a 10-year old boy would be “waiting SO long” to spend some one-on-one time with his stepmom. I guess I was wrong.

On our first day, I picked him up from day camp and said, “The choice is yours, buddy. What do you want to do?”

He then listed, “Mini-golf, skee ball, Target, time at the river, and walking around downtown”.

I obviously overlooked telling him that one-on-one time included only ONE event per outing, not six.

So he thought about it some more and said, “I know where I want to go. Can we go to a gas station convenience store?”

What?

Well, apparently they had a specific lemonade drink he wanted to try. So we did that and then walked around downtown for a bit.

Then on our next outing, we were in Target (yes, we live in a small town). I told him that I often bought his sister a treat to eat, so he could pick something out. I suggested a bag of Starbursts to share with friends as my stepdaughter often did or really anything he wanted.

He chose ….the 1- pound family size Stouffer’s macaroni and cheese dinner.

And I realized in this moment, how if we give each other some space, the possibilities that may evolve. Children, especially, are still open to seeing so many possibilities and options (which can drive a parent crazy when it is time to decide and check out).

What I have liked about this one-on-one time is the opportunities for possibilities to emerge. When we are all together and there is some other agenda happening, the possibilities are never even discussed, let alone recognized.

I have enjoyed this time with my stepson. He has shown me how to think in new ways and to respect that we may never truly know what another person wants until we ask. He has also taught me to think in possibilities and potential for something new.

And, hey, who wouldn’t want a 1-lb family size Stouffer’s mac and cheese dinner now and then? 🙂

Does Love really have this Power?

I have You

I have You

The other morning things were not going well for my stepson which translated into a less than positive dynamic in our household. Things have been building for some time and it has taken all of my skills and awareness to match the level of his struggles.

After the crisis settled, my stepdaughter’s friend called and she was at an outdoor venue near our home. I grabbed our dog for a walk and told my stepdaughter I would walk over with her so she would not have to go alone. Plus I wanted to decompress after the “adventures” with my stepson.

As we were walking, I jokingly sighed and said to my stepdaughter, “Do you ever wonder with all that goes on if one day I am just going to quit?”

She stopped and turned to me and said, “Never. You love us too much.”
—–
Sometimes, I am not so confident with the stepparent/stepchild dynamic and it is an exhausting process on a mental/emotional/ and dare I say, financial level.

But do you have any idea how powerful it must be for a child to see love in his or her life so clearly displayed that they have no fear that it will be taken away or leave them?

In the fatigue of the day, in the wearing down of moments both large and small, you can wonder if your power of love is transcending you as you hoped it would.

Somehow my stepdaughter showed me on that day that my message of love (which I wished was stronger on some days) was getting through.

She has a love she trusts will never leave her. How beautiful is this?

This is How a Woman does TRUE BEAUTY

True Beauty

True Beauty

Oh, you may label Her
with your biting tongue and snake-like ways

You may label her “ugly” with teeth “too big”
You may speak of her ears, as if she could not hear

And oh, that skin, with a hue that never wins
You will belittle her in your mean-spirited ways

But what, what will this woman hear?
Not a word that you hold so dear

For She is a woman of True Beauty
where words have no meaning

blinded as we are by the
Light of Her Being.

I LOVE this little character. She is a sign to me, after having my character and Spirit “attacked” (as if that could happen) by my stepchildren’s mother, that we should never fear our Light and our Light shines through no matter what.

A woman of True Beauty can take on it all and transform it. You can sling mud-filled words at her and she will stand firm trusting in her own light.

A month or so ago I wrote on this blog that I am beginning to see myself (in a healthy way) as a mother to my two stepchildren. I am finally honoring the energy I give to them as “mothering” energy. Once I made that awareness and in a sense formed a contract with myself to honor this energy, I realized that in situations such as this, I want to show my stepchildren how a woman of True Beauty handles something like this.

I want them to understand that no matter what someone tries to do to you, that you have the power to choose, to stand up for yourself and embrace your own Beauty. No one, and I mean, no one can take this beauty away from a woman true to her power.

Many would not find a llama particularly beautiful- but look at her in this picture- she does not know this. Her light is so bright- you see it first. She does not hide. This act of Being one’s Light is the the act of True Beauty of which we all seek.

When I looked up llama symbolism, I came across this “You are reminded to view yourself with compassion and love.”

A woman of True Beauty lives this for she knows she is the Goddess incarnate and nothing could be more beautiful.
—-
This image came to me in a strange way. I was in my yard and looked across the field at a tree/bush. I looked and I thought “Wow, it can’t tell if it wants to be a llama or a peacock.” So I drew both.

I also told my husband this story and he said, “Wow! It’s a llama-cock.” (Proving to me one’s again there is a part of male humor that never moves past the age of 12 🙂 ).

So You Made a “Mistake” and Showed You are Human

Monkey Mind

Monkey Mind

So, if you are like me, you showed yourself to be human once or twice in the past week.
Maybe you said something you regretted, maybe your actions were not in accordance with your highest ideals.
No matter.

You are human and within this human-ness you are giving the ultimate gift- the ability to live and experience.

We would all love to aspire and achieve the Divine standard which we see displayed in the tapestries of our lives. Yet, here and there, a rogue string springs into the weaving and we think to ourselves, “This is not who I long to be.”

In Buddhism, the “monkey mind” is discussed and I played with it in this picture. Here, the Monkey is stirring the deep waters of the mind. Sometimes the waters need some stirring up in our lives.

What we may believe to be mistakes and errors, may simply be movements of the mind into a new way of Being.

In picture, the central energetic column, the sushumna, is shown in yellow. This is the route for awakening our awareness. And there the monkey sits, the parts of ourselves, in my mind, that make us human, stirring the waters, calling for our growth.

Through it all, as the waves we stir up come crashing along the shore, red horns (symbolic connections with the Divine) protect us and help us reach for the stars.

I created this image for my stepson. We all have days when we feel “less than human” and wonder how our actions came to be so “off”.

God works in mysterious ways. When you have shown yourself to be human, just think, the monkey was stirring the pot calling up some movement.


Interestingly, a Hindu deity exists in the form a monkey, known as Hanuman. For some he symbolizes the “animal man” in each of us, who through devotion and surrender, purifies himself.

School Portraits with Your God

Portrait with God

Portrait with God

What if your God is not as patient as you have been lead to believe?
What if your God is opposed to delayed gratification?
What if your God senses you as perfect- right here, right now?

Could you for one moment believe you are in the Kingdom of Heaven at this present time?

What if your God never meant for you to wait?
What if by sharing life with you, God already meant for you to understand you were in Heaven?
What if your God senses nothing in you that must change for you to “earn” your spot in Heaven?

What if, what if, what if…. we have been told everything wrong. Heaven is here and now and we already have our place in the Kingdom. Amen.

—–
When I look at the picture above, I see a version of a school portrait. They must be on my mind, because we just received ours for the kids this year. We let my stepson choose the background for his every year. My favorite is the time he wore his orange T-shirt and then chose a red swirl background.

He loves this picture and even now, a few years after it was taken, will stop me in our hallway to point it out and ask if I noticed how he did his hair that day, because according to him, he spent at least 5 minutes in the bathroom “fixing” it that day.

When I saw these portraits, my mind ran to envisioning how God sees us. What portrait would appear when God looks upon us?

The image above actually came from a different sketch, but when I looked at it, I thought “this could be how we appear to God”. God sees us as all heart, already wearing the crown of Heaven, surrounded by the flames of life and Spirit.