************************************Denial covers the pain of the past * A blanket over the world * Lift a corner * Don't be afraid * Your life awaits you*************************************

Friday, May 31, 2013

The Dark Side of the Coin

I am so incredibly blessed. I have two sons and two daughters, and I have relished my role as mother even more than I thought possible.

My oldest daughter is twenty-five, and married with a baby of her own. She is the one who taught me about the three levels of separation.

First, she went off to college. Driving away without her felt like the hardest thing anyone should ever have to do.

Then, after her third year of college, she became too busy to come “home” for the summer. She took summer courses and worked near school. I cried as we planned a “family vacation” without her, for the first time.

And finally, that third level of separation—when she graduated from college and got her first real apartment, and I knew she’d never live with us again. That piercing mix of grief and joy... telling myself, she is exactly where she’s meant to be while concurrently thinking, how can I exist without her?
But I did exist. At first, that's all it seemed to be—existing. In time, I made her joy mine, and when that was too hard, I smiled through the tears.

My younger son finished his third year of college this month. He came home for about a week—most of which he spent with friends.
He has an internship, near his school, so for the first time, he’s not “off” for the summer.
He left last night.
Level two, achieved.

And at the same time, we have "level three" with my older son.
Last May, he graduated from college. He found a job about an hour from our house. For the last year, he's lived here with us—a brief reprieve for his father and me.
Every night, he called me as he left work, asking what was for dinner as he started his commute.
He bought a car of his own, and then saved money so he could get an apartment, closer to work.
He and his girlfriend have been looking at apartments since early April.
Last night, he slept in “his” room for the last time.

When I went downstairs to turn off the lights, last night, I moved through echoes of the day we moved into this house.
How can that be eighteen years ago?
My husband and me and three little kids, seven, five and three years old.

It was such a long day, with the whole move taking place in a cold November rain.
My daughter was so excited to have her own bathroom. (Of course, we didn’t know that was temporary, at the time. Her little sister wouldn’t come along for another year.)
My older son chose his bedroom because he liked the windows. I can still see his big dark eyes as he looked over the room that would be his and his alone.
My younger son was just thrilled to be sleeping in a big-boy bed for the first time.

Another wave of memories washed through eighteen years in this house. I relived all the times I tucked my little ones into bed . The bedtime stories. The tears. The irritation when they didn’t stay in their beds. The warm compassion I felt when one of them crawled into our bed after a bad dream.

This morning, my sons’ rooms feel very empty. While their unmade beds scream out that they were just there
just there
such a short time ago, a million things have shifted in irrevocable ways. Long gone is the dinosaur wallpaper that lined each of their bedrooms—one trimmed in blue and the other in green. Bath toys and baby shampoo have been traded for deodorant and shaving cream. The smudges and hand prints have been washed away along with the laughter and cries of “MOM!” from the top of the stairs.

Today, I sift through it all, not yet able to smile through the tears.  I know things are exactly right—that my kids are thriving in their lives. But, before I can really move into that reality, I have to allow myself to feel this moment, painful as it is. I can’t move on until I’ve thoroughly appreciated the masterpieces that have appeared on the canvases of my children’s lives—appeared despite a lot of mistakes… coaxed out with enough love to make up for all that was lacking.

And, I know my baby has only one year of high school left and will begin her journey away so very soon. And, I know I know the day will come when I will get used to the quieter house.
But not yet.

Grief and joy are two sides of the mom-penny, flipped high in the air the day I first found out I was going to be a mom. Ever since, I've had no choice but to shift with that twisting coin. As it turns, I will eventually come to comfort. I will learn to revel in the time I am allowed to share with my children, and in the unwavering knowing of how amazing they are.

But right now, I'm in the shadow of the underside of that coin. Right now, there is loss.

Every transition opens space for something else—I believe that—but I am excruciatingly aware of how hard it is, how empty it feels, when that space first appears.

And today, I miss my boys.
I just miss my sweet little boys.

Monday, May 27, 2013

About a week ago, I wrote the final words of my book, Through the Tiger's Door. 
I've got someone lined up to edit it in about two weeks. With a little luck, it may be out by this summer!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Unconditional Love

I’ve been reading “The Five Levels of Attachment,” by don Miguel Ruiz, Jr. At the same time, I’ve been working to understand the concept of “unconditional love”.

My understanding of the message from the book is that our attachments to our beliefs get in the way of our following our own, best path. The more strongly we are attached to a belief, the less likely we are to challenge it, even if it becomes almost impossible to make that belief work with what we see around us.

People kill and die because of their beliefs. That belief may be that only their religion is right, that their country is the best, or that their physical body’s shape, size, or color is somehow better than another.

The Dalai Lama, the well-known Tibetan Buddhist teacher, explains the difference between attachment and unconditional love:  “Attachment and love are similar in that both of them draw us to the other person. But in fact, these two emotions are quite different. When we’re attached we’re drawn to someone because he or she meets our needs.[…] On the other hand, the love we’re generating on the Dharma path is unconditional. We simply want others to have happiness and the causes of happiness without any strings attached...” He neither accepts nor denies that unconditional love is possible, but he does explain it quite clearly.

People harm each other because of attachments to a belief that there is a limited way to love. I’d bet on the fact that you know someone who believes it is wrong to love outside of your race, your religion, or to love someone of the same gender. Those same people may tell you that God doesn’t want you to love in the ways they believe are wrong—and they may also tell you that God loves unconditionally. 

Perhaps they explain this as a paradox—that God loves unconditionally, but with a few conditions.

A Yoruba priest, Kalila Borhgini says, “God’s love is unconditional, but God also has expectations and requirements.” She accepts this and, a little later, calls it a paradox.

Baptist Rev. John Piper writes, “There is such a thing as unconditional love in God, but it’s not [...] for everybody. Else everybody would be saved, since they would not have to meet any conditions, not even faith.” What I get from this is that God loves us unconditionally, only if we have faith—which is of course, a condition.

I don’t believe in paradox. My feeling is that when we see something as paradox, it’s because we are seeing part of the equation incorrectly. 

2+3 will never equal 4. No matter how attached I am to the number three, as long as I hold it in that part of the equation, I am going to come up with a paradox because the only thing that logically fits, is another two.

Consider this statement: God is everywhere. 

At first, I took that to mean that God was here with us, all the time—that God was always present, right along with everything else. In time, I considered the possibility that God was neither another dimension superimposed over what we see and feel, nor a presence far away that was somehow aware of everything else.

Maybe God isn't here WITH everything, but AS everything. Maybe God’s presence “everywhere” really means that everything and everyone is God. 

Einstein and other physicists tell us that all matter is actually energy. Slow down energy's vibration and you get what we call matter. This means everything we see, feel, know or imagine is energy. Our thoughts and feelings, our movement through space, and even our bodies. 

Everything is energy. God is everything. Therefore God is energy.
 This equation makes sense to me. 

Perhaps God slowed down bits of that energy in order to experience what we think of as the physical realm. 

In the Law of Attraction teachings (also called the teachings of Abraham) it says, “Unconditional love is staying in the vibration of Source regardless of the condition.” To me, this says that we can only love unconditionally if we are in alignment with the vibration of the Universe (God). In a way, this is saying the same thing as the Baptist Reverend--that faith(or alignment with God) is a condition of unconditional love. 

One could look at it to mean that only God can love unconditionally, but if we did accept the premise that God is all, then God is us, and we are God and therefore, we should be able to achieve unconditional love.

I will make mistakes and you will make mistakes, yet God is perfect. If we are God, then mistakes do not take away from our perfection. How can that be? 

If I am God and you are God, then the concept of ‘loving thy neighbor as thyself’ has a different flavor. Thy neighbor IS thyself and both of us are God. We are meant to love ourselves and others and God constantly and equally, because they are one and the same and Divine—and therefore perfect. It’s like saying God has unconditional love for us because we are Divine and perfect aspects of God. That equation seems to ring as true as 2+2=4. Both sides are equal and the same. 

Catholic Fr. Vincent Serpa writes, “God does love us unconditionally in that he loves us even in our sins. But he cannot love our sins.” This is the “love the person not their actions” version of “unconditional” love. It represents an attachment to the “good and evil” concept. 

But maybe the way we choose to manipulate the energy around us (the way we choose to live our lives) is not good or bad. Maybe that judgment is irrelevant to God. Maybe God does not have any expectation of how we will use our time in this physical realm, but instead, has a knowledge that all aspects of God will always be aspects of God regardless of how we shift that energy—that no matter what we do, we are still perfect.

We would not put the three in the 2+3=5 equation unless we had a really good reason to believe that the three belonged there. If we were to accept that this paradox of expectations and unconditional love is a faulty equation, what attachment would have caused us to create it?

I think it’s an attachment to conditional love that moves me—and others—create the paradoxical equation. 

In my most rational moments, I don't actually believe God loves one person more than another. I accept that everyone and everything is an aspect of God, and that God loves all aspects of the Universe equally. Therefore, what I do here has nothing to do with how much God loves me.

The first time I considered that idea, I was surprised by a wave of fear. Why would that be a scary thought?

As a small child, I wanted to be loved unconditionally but I learned that love was conditional. I believed my parents were not capable of giving me unconditional love because I was not capable of being "good enough". If I believed unconditional love was possible, I also had to accept that my parents chose not to give it to me. This is harder to accept than to believe there’s an unknowable paradox—which would allow me to never have to look at the situation too closely.

In order to imagine this need for unconditional love being fulfilled, I personified God. I gave God the quality of requiring a condition for love, a quality that actually belonged to my parents. Like many (as my examples above display) I developed an attachment to the belief that "unconditional" love would be given to me if I followed a certain set of rules.

An attachment to this belief has several benefits.

For one thing, I can solve the greatest dilemma of my childhood. With God, I can finally be "good enough" to receive “unconditional” love. 

But also, by believing that God’s unconditional love actually has some conditions, it gives me an illusion of power. If I do “God’s will” then surely God will love me more. I will become one of the chosen, the beloved, the saved—whatever name you’d like—by fulfilling the conditions imposed by my belief system.

If I give up the attachment to the concept that I gain God’s love by following certain rules, does that mean I have to believe I can’t gain God’s love?

Yes. That's true. I can’t gain God’s love because I already have it. We can't ever lose it.

If we have to follow rules in order not to lose God’s love, we live fear-driven lives. There is constantly the possibility that I might lose the love I need, so my actions are driven by the set of imposed rules in my belief-system.

If I truly accept that God's love is unconditional, then I am no longer driven by fear of losing that love. It is that fear that seems to hold us to the rules of society—the things our society has decided are "moral” or “right”. Without that fear-driven base, It seems I would no longer be governed by the laws of man. I would be free to act exactly as I'm called to act. The moral "dilemma" would not exist. 

Our attachment to the concept of "good and evil" may be the hardest one to release. How many paradoxes would be wiped out of existence if we saw that this is really a societal concept, not an actual law of the universe? We would not have to hold ourselves (mankind) to a different standard as the rest of nature, for one. We would not have to judge ourselves or others harshly for "making mistakes", for another. We all know we are going to "make mistakes" yet we live in resentment, shame and guilt. 

If we were going to release our attachment to societal morals. We would have to raise our children in an entirely different way. When a toddler first experienced rage and struck out to show it, we would not tell him what he was doing was wrong. Instead, we would teach him that everything and everyone IS God, just as he is, and that when he strikes out against the world, he is striking out against himself. 

Of course he would not understand this as a toddler, but neither does a toddler understand “wrong”. We drive that into children until they believe it and then expect them to accept the "paradox" that God loves unconditionally—with some conditions.

Co Creation

Co Creation
We create the life we live

Love your inner child...

...for she holds the key...

...to your personal power.
A lesson is woven into each day.
Together they make up the tapestries of our lives.