Monday, December 28, 2009

What I've Learned this Year

"Put love where there is no love and you will find love."
I came across this quote recently from St. John of the Cross. It so captures all that I have learned over the past year and hope to put into practice moreso in this coming year.

There are a few people in my life who have made it so hard for me to love them. And yet. And yet I've seen miracles happen in my relationships with them that I have prayed for over the years. This year seemed to be my year of answered prayers. And if I learned one thing, it is this: Sometimes you just have to love someone where they are. They may not be where you want them to be. They may be selfish, or narcissistic, or just plain mean. But sometimes, even when someone is incapable of appreciating unconditional love, you can still love them. And this doesn't mean that you should go back for more abuse, or go out of your way to please them, or include them in your inner circle of Important People. This doesn't mean letting those boundaries down around the toxic people in your life. What this means is that you can offer kindness in every encounter, regardless of the other person's spiritual/emotional condition. You can go home knowing you did the right thing, knowing that you didn't add to the problem, that someday maybe they'll even recognize and appreciate the fact that you didn't aggravate the situation even when you had the chance.

This weekend, one of my closest family members visited. He hasn't come to see me or my son in over two years. We talk on the phone regularly, but I rarely see him, and his life has been one self-destructive decision after another. He's lost, and not always capable of loving me the way I love him, but I know that in his heart, he wants to love and be loved. I can't change his decisions, I can't change his lifestyle, and I can't change the fact that he hasn't always prioritized me the way I feel he should. But I can put love where there's been no love, and ever so slowly, I'm finding love.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Recession: it's a Good Thing

Okay, I'm tired of hearing all of the economists and TV pundits bemoaning what has become of our economy. I'm tired of reading all of the headlines that speculate about when exactly our nation's shopping obsession is going to start up again and when we can all take a collective sigh of relief and go back to being the spenders that got us here in the first place. Seriously, people.

Here's the deal. It was great that we had an economy and all, and I would love to see people employed again. I think it sucks that there aren't enough jobs and that people are struggling to get by. However. I've never known a time in my thirty-four years on this earth when people have been so thrifty, so fiscally responsible, so cool with the fact that they're not going on a shopping spree this Christmas season. According to some random news reports I've read lately, there are more handmade craft gifts this year than ever before. More families opting out of the gift-giving rat race and agreeing to exchange homemade gifts, single ornaments, or, gasp! nothing at all. Am I the only one who thinks that this recession might actually be good for us? If people are learning to scale back their spending, to turn in their SUV for a gas-efficient sedan, to give up the obnoxious 5,000sq ft McMansion, isn't this good for the soul? I think it's disgusting that the American economy was so damn reliant on all the average Joes out there shopping themselves into debt.

Years ago, I read the book Affluenza, which stated that our addiction to big spending was burning us out and that we needed to downshift our wants and reconsider what "the good life" was really all about. Isn't the good life about contentment? About wanting what you have and having what you want? Maybe I'm the only one who sees the good in this situation, but damn. Cutting up the credit cards and focusing your energy on simple pleasures instead of what model car your neighbors drive seems like a pretty good life to me.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

So I've Been Thinking...

About a Book Drive. Like, putting one together. I'm not sure how I'm going to go about it, but a few things happened last week to put this in my head.

1--I saw a KRON news report about a rich dude from the South Bay who donated dozens of dictionaries to high school students recently. He just said that he felt it was important and he realized that not enough students had dictionaries. So cool.

2--There is a woman in my area named Anna, who goes by the nickname "the Lemon Lady." She has single-handedly collected 13,000 pounds of fruit from people's yards (with permission) that were otherwise going to waste, and donated them to our local food pantries and shelters. Also so cool.

3--I was sitting there the other day reading to my two year old. He was enjoying it so much, and bringing me book after book to read to him, and I thought to myself about all the kids out there who have no books and no one to read to them. That really saddened me, and I realized that books are something that I am beyond passionate about. I've made my living around books. I grew up devouring them. They are a huge part of my life and I believe wholeheartedly that books have the power to change lives. Reading is what builds vocabularies, what opens minds, and what can transform a person's outlook. I also happen to think that people who read are just plain classier, but I guess I that makes me sound like a snob. Oh well.

So somehow, I'm going to get my hands on a ton of kid's books. And I'm going to find a shelter, or a school, or maybe even my local Crisis Nursery (yes, we have one, sad isn't it?), and I'm going to bring them those books. This is all still just a crude outline and I'd appreciate any ideas. I just feel this incredible need to bring.children.books. And soon.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Welcome back, Mama

I can't believe how long it's been since last I wrote. Six months, a new baby, and a multitude of computer issues later, here I am!

The holidays are upon us and I find myself burrowing into a new season, my favorite. What I'm realizing much more than in years past is how much my mom passed on to me. I never really saw it before, but I really sense her spirit when I bake for my loved ones, put out the holiday decorations that my son so enjoys, even just doing the laundry--it is all an act of love. I see that now. Realizing that fact is what got me through those early days of grief, and instead of dreading and avoiding the holidays, I chose to embrace them and throw myself totally into them. Call it sublimation, or redirecting of energy or whatever, it works.

As a mother, I'm seeing now for the first time how much of my mother is in me, especially when noticing how differently people "mother." I've been blessed with a multitude of awesome moms around me (aunts, cousins, relatives, and friends), and I've had the opportunity to see how much joy a mother can bring to her family when she chooses happiness and gratitude. I can't help but to compare the kind of mom I grew up with as opposed to, say, my MIL, who practices a *whole* different kind of 'love,' one of conditions, guilt, resentment, and seething, thinly veiled anger. How difficult it must be to live in a world like that. That said, I am incredibly grateful to have been born my mother's daughter. I am more committed than ever to be the kind of emotionally stable, honest, supportive mom that my mama raised me to be.

Later, gator.