Friday, August 14, 2015

The Reflection of Shadows: Through the Fire and Ice

The Reflection of Shadows
A collection of moments
Fire and Ice

This will be my last post for a few weeks, friends. I'm taking some much needed time off to rest, recharge, and enjoy the last bit of summer. 

Through the Fire and Ice
(Text from picture)

I’ll get the matches and you get the guns,
We’ll both fight our way through the land that we love.

We’ll stand for the young and we’ll stand for the old,
We’ll stand for the people who are freezing in the cold.

We’ll part down the middle- going left, going right,
They won’t see us coming through the fire and ice.

I’ll warn the children to stay safe, to go home,
You get the men who’ve been worked to the bone.

I’ll fight for vengeance,  you’ll fight for love,
We’ll meet in the middle with an understood trust.

We’ll rest in the morning, take watch through the night-
They won’t see us coming through the fire and ice.

You keep your wits about you, I’ll keep my might,
You risk your safety and I’ll risk my life.

We’ll stand with the fallen, we’ll do what should be done,
We’ll burn and we’ll melt, then we’ll vanish in the sun.

And when the smoke is clearing in the dawning of the light,
They won’t have seen us coming through the fire and ice.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Monday Mantra: The Casualties of Kindness

mantra is a sound, syllable, word, or group of words that is considered capable of "creating transformation".

Every Monday I will post a new thought, idea, or focus for the week. When you need a breather from life, when you need a little inspiration, or when you're about to jump over the conference table and strangle your co-worker, remember the mantra.

Monday Mantra: If we want the world to be a better place, we must act in kindness, we must live in kindness, we must demonstrate kindness in everything we do.

The other day I was in the parking lot of my local grocery store, trying to find the closest spot to the front doors so as to avoid Death by Arizona Summer Sun. I noticed an open spot down a row of cars, but I also noticed another gentleman in a nearby car who seemed to have seen the same thing. Assuming he had beat me to it, visually anyway, I went ahead and turned down the aisle but kept going past the open spot, to the next available parking location a few more cars down. Behind me, I noticed him turn in and grab it up.

I parked, got out, and started walking past all the cars, speedily trying to get to the store and all of its beautiful air conditioning awesomeness. As I neared the entrance, a gentleman called out to me from behind a truck.

"Miss! Miss, was that you that let me take this spot?" he asked.

"Oh, yes, but I really think it was yours to begin with. I'm sure you spotted it before me," I responded.

"Well," he said, "My legs aren't as good as they used to be and I really appreciate you letting me take it."

I glanced down for a moment to where his hands were gesturing and noticed, for the first time, what he was saying. His legs were swollen and bruised and somewhat off looking. He was visibly standing slightly slanted and couldn't quite move with the normal ease most people have. It occurred to me then that his gratitude was more than just one friendly stranger thanking another for a cool parking spot on a hot summer day. His gratitude was an act of kindness. A gift he was freely giving that I hadn't really earned. I had simply parked somewhere else. He, on the other hand, had gone out of his way to thank me because this tiny, tiny moment had made all the difference to him.

As my eyes started to tear up a little bit, I thanked him for his kindness and he, obviously being a good soul, continued thanking me. We did this little dance for just a moment longer before we parted ways.

I spent the rest of the day thinking about this, wondering how often I had missed my own opportunity to thank someone for their good deeds. I wondered how often I had truly earned another person's kindness. I questioned whether or not I was putting my best, kindest self forward in this world.

I'm asking you to ask yourself these same things.

We must allow ourselves to be tender, open, compassionate. We must learn to be soft and vulnerable in a hard and tough world. We must give freely without expecting anything in return.

Somewhere, somehow, your kindness will make a difference. It will ripple and move and crash into someone and they will, in turn, probably without even realizing it, pass it to someone else.

These are the casualties of kindness. This is an epidemic of the heart.

We are the ones who must spread it.

Friday, August 7, 2015

The Reflection of Shadows: Help Me Rid Myself of Doubt

The Reflection of Shadows
A collection of moments
Paint Splatters
A little note:

To avoid confusing any of you lovely people who religiously (THANK YOU) read my blog, I just wanted to be clear on something with these poems. I call these "a collection of moments" because that's exactly what they are. Fractions of good, bad, happy, confusing, dark, and beautiful moments from all the years of my life. Each week, I look through the dozens and dozens of them I have filed away and figure out which one I want to share with you. 

Help Me Rid Myself of Doubt

Cut me,
Cut me,
Bleed it out.
Help me rid
Myself of doubt,
To get the virus,
Get it out-
Cut me,
Cut me,
Bleed it out.

Stop me,
Stop me,
Shut me down.
Tie me up,
Turn me around.
Break my focus,
Shift me now-
Stop me,
Stop me,
Shut me down.

Help me,
Help me,
Set me free.
I’m tired, anxious,
Want to breathe.
This broken record’s
Killing me-
Help me,
Help me,
Set me free.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Monday Mantra: The Shadows of Other People

mantra is a sound, syllable, word, or group of words that is considered capable of "creating transformation".

Every Monday I will post a new thought, idea, or focus for the week. When you need a breather from life, when you need a little inspiration, or when you're about to jump over the conference table and strangle your co-worker, remember the mantra.

Monday Mantra: You can't fix people, but you can love them.
I don't know how to explain what it's like to lose a parent while they're still living. To have them in fractions. To never be able to piece them together and make them whole.

I don't know how to handle being the child of that parent. I don't know the right words to say, things to do, actions to take. How do you fix someone who refuses to admit they're broken? How do you help someone who refuses to accept it?

You don't- this is what I'm learning. You can't, and you never will be able to.

For at least my entire life, my mom has had mental, maybe also emotional, problems. It has caused our relationship in it's entirety to be strained and distant and somewhat odd at times. It has led to screaming matches of "I hate you" that she doesn't even remember. Words so often repeated between us in anger that they became the only words my parakeets knew how to say: I hate you, I hate you, I hate you.

It has led to long, pathetic, teary eyed pleading that fell on deaf ears. It has led to arguments that never really ended. And time, so much time, that has been lost.

It's taken me a long time to realize that she'll never understand where I'm coming from. She lacks the self awareness needed to help instigate change. Nothing I say or do or try will wake her up to herself. Embarrassment, I am certain, also plays a key role in this. As she's now approaching her seventies, I can tell you without a shadow of a doubt that she will never live the life of a normal person.

"Normal" is something I don't throw around loosely.

Normal is not the mom from Leave it to Beaver or The Brady Bunch or even Roseanne. The normal I speak of is much simpler: A mom who isn't captive to her own mind.

My mom is broken. I don't use that word angrily or cruelly or loosely, either. I use it because her mind has made her a prisoner in her own life and she refuses to take action to repair herself. Physically, she's fine. As a person, she is kind and thoughtful and compassionate. She has faults just like any human being, but she won't seek out assistance, which is why she remains broken. The list of things she thinks and does and struggles with is too long and too sensitive to go into. It wouldn't be easy to explain anyway- no person's journey through life can be summed up in a few small sentences. I would have to write pages upon pages of words just to try and start at the beginning of it all.

I am also broken, in different ways. However, I am working - continuously - to repair myself where I find cracks and chips and dents. Where my mom cannot be a mom, I must find ways to accept this. Where I cannot find what I need, I must find other means. There is no handbook. There is no carefully mapped out instruction manual on how to be the person on the other side of this. Much of my own struggle, I admit, is that I'm selfish. I long for a more traditional mother/daughter relationship. Just tonight, though, I finally admitted to myself I would never have that. I will never see my mother help herself, which means we will never have the chance at a normal life together. The walls of denial she has built to keep her safe from reality are far too tall to ever climb over.

How do you fix someone who refuses to admit they're broken?

You don't.

You love them. You learn to leave them to their glass castle fantasies. You point out the good in their lives so they too can see it, and you never stop hoping that one day they'll find the way out of the maze within their minds.

You remain open and honest and as someone who they can come to in their dark moments.

You learn that you are not alone in what may seem like a very lonely situation.

You learn that it is not - in any way, shape, or form - easy for either person in this scenario. Both people suffer, both people struggle, differently. While the person with the mental illness has their own demons to battle, you - the parent, child, friend, spouse - must learn your own lessons: where you can help, where you can't, and where you must create boundaries to save your own sanity.

You also learn to live: through, around, and without. You learn to handle things the best you can and you learn to forgive yourself when you can't. You learn to give yourself what they do not have the capability to give. You learn to live just outside the boundaries of "normal."

Let me be very clear about something: By no means am I trying to beat her up or embarrass her in any way. She has been the best mom she could be, in her own way. In fact, though it took me time to realize this, many of my better attributes are because of this unique relationship of ours. My strength and determination and fortitude. My kindness and perseverance. I am capable of these things because of her. I know that, I do, and I appreciate her for it.

I hesitated writing this. It is deeply personal, very sensitive, and obviously incredibly delicate.

It is also important.

Mental illness, no matter what form someone has, or how small or large it affects them, is serious. It impacts the lives of everyone it touches. It envelopes everyone in its shadows, one way or another.

There are people that will never admit they need help. They will continue on, never once giving themselves a fighting chance to get better. Unfortunately, my mom is one of those people.

I did not write this for her. I wrote this today for the rest of us.

Remain hopeful. The strength you need to get through this - regardless of which side of this you're on - will help you in every aspect of your life. Understand that you have nothing to be afraid of or embarrassed by. What you do have is a chance to change your life for the better.

For those of you like my mom, I want you to know this: There's someone in this world who's counting on you, who needs you, who loves you. They are waiting for you to blossom into the person they know you can become. The person that exists underneath the blanket of shadows. Don't you dare give up. Fight and fight and fight until there is so much light in your life that you have no choice but to bloom.