control freaks

The discomfort is seeping out of my pores. I tried to find anything else ready to post. I like to have things more thought out. More refined. More controlled. This one feels more like a zit I can’t stop myself from popping.

Lately, I have been watching and listening to both my self and the people around me, and the theme of control seems to be slapping me in the face everywhere I turn.

I think we as humans grab for control. But I don’t think that is truly what we want. I believe that what each human being truly desires more than anything else in this world is love.

But, as I have mentioned before, love is inherently uncontrolled. Unearned. Unpredictable.

And that makes most of us quite uncomfortable. Including me.

So when we want to show love to someone, we often try to control that person and make that person do what we think is good for him or her. But that is not really love at all.

When we want to be loved, to have someone else show love to us, we also try to control others. Manipulation comes into the mix and things get messy fast. Because we as humans seem to feel loved when we get what we want. But that’s not really love either.

And all the while, during this time when we are grasping for control, trying to make people do what we want them to do or be who we want them to be, we miss the fact that what we are given to control is ourselves.

We ignore that truth and try and control other people instead. Because they seem so much easier to fix. Because taking an honest look in the mirror and dealing with our own stuff is hard. One of the hardest things I have ever done or continue to attempt to do.

However, my hope in doing so is that my haunting need to control lessens and I become more capable of giving love. Freely. 

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calling

I can hear him calling me from the other room. There are other things crying out to me as well like the laundry and the dusting and the chocolate cookies in the fridge. But today I seem to know that Harley’s call is the one I need to answer.

I open up his silver frame and feel the gratitude all over again. Harley was a gift to me. He used to belong to my friend’s twin sister. And then a few weeks after I confessed to my sweet friend that I want to write a book, she told me she had something for me.

We walked out to her car. I imagined the fun scarf or accessory she – the hip young single girl – was handing down to her fashion-challenged mom-friend with no time to shop. I knew it would be something with a flair that I would love.

Never in a million years would I have guessed that she would hand me a laptop. She made all sorts of qualifiers about how it was so old and she didn’t know what programs were on it and on and on. I stood there with a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes.

When I got it home, I discovered my friend’s twin had named her laptop and he seemed a beloved old friend of hers. I carried on the tradition and welcomed Harley into our family. Even my four year old will call him by name when he asks me, “What is Harley showing you, Mom?”

So now Harley is my beloved friend. And today he called to me as only he can. Tugging on my heart, I could hear him a mile away. He knows I have much stirring inside me and he can help me in a releasing and peace-making sort of way.

Harley was a gift of faith, a tangible “I believe in you” from my friend. But he has been so much more. He has been my safe place.

To create.

To let go.

To try.

Not just for the sake of a product but for the sake of me.

Because as a writer I have found that writing has become a part of me and a part of my life. Not just to produce for a blog post or to plunk away at a book that seems such an elusive endeavor at times.

Harley shows me that writing is where I find myself, where I work things out, where I let things go. And I know that because I can hear his call from way across the house, as though he were whispering from right inside my heart.  

Who is calling you today?

heads or tails?

I wish I had never been taught the phrase. By culture. By happenstance. By tradition. A simple way to fairly choose between one thing and another.

I understand that a coin has to land on one side or the other. Pennies do not generally hang out on the edge, the outer circle, the in-between. They fall and show either heads or tails.

I know this is only one of the contributing factors to the either/or paradigm dwelling in me. Among countless others is simply my humanity. In my head there are only two ways of seeing any given situation, problem, or way of being. My way or any other way.

But if I look at a penny and take a moment to consider it, I find so much more than heads or tails. There is a third side running around the edge of the circle, touching both sides and making them part of the same coin. A rim. An outer boundary uniting the one side with the other.

There is a face. A president. A man with heart and passion and struggles and soul. There is a building. A meeting place where people gather and attempt to make decisions for the good of millions of people.

And there is also a solid mass of copper, which is simply imprinted with pictures and symbols in such a way that creates the illusion of sides. But make no mistake. A coin is one whole piece of metal.

There are parts and the whole and an infinite number of aspects to take into account from any given perspective. Not just heads or tails. Right or wrong. Black or white. My way or the highway.

But for some reason, I am prone to simplifying things and creating sides. I think perhaps I need my mind and my heart to expand so that I can hold this wide-angle paradigm for longer than a moment.

There is more to life than either or. There is both, and, more.

So, a penny for your thoughts…..

performance rejection

He does not perform. The thought occurs to me as I walk by my eight-year-old working diligently on his current project. He is making an Angry Birds Space encyclopedia.

Just before this ah-hah descends on me, I am grumbling in my head. Why doesn’t he work this hard on school projects? This is what I mean when I say give 100%. I know he has it in him, why doesn’t he use this motor more?

Because unlike his mother, my son is NOT a type-A personality. He is a good-enougher. He is an I’m-not-defined-by-my-performance kind of guy. He is someone who enjoys life and doesn’t take himself too seriously.

And I love that about him more than I can say. Even though I go crazy over it from time to time. This beautiful freedom he lives in rubs against my performance-driven, rule-following, live-up-to-all-expectations nature.

And that is SO GOOD for me.

As this new revelation about my son and how he ticks sinks in, I swell with admiration. He puts his heart and soul into the things he determines are worthy of such priceless energy.

Not into what will score points with his teacher, the people around him, or even his mother. He will not do things just to look good in the eyes of another. He will not perform.

He does, however, have much heart and soul to pour into things. And he does use that energy from time to time. On projects that matter to him.

This is all very helpful for me to consider. Because as his mother, I need to help equip him to navigate through this world. And to not loose himself in the process.

There are times when he will have to harness this energy even though he doesn’t want to because that is what his life requires of him at the given moment. But those times are probably fewer and farther between than I as his mother think they are.

Yet at the same time, how wonderful for him to know with such certainty that his life cannot be lived to please others. He must be true to himself. How does he know such a thing at this tender age?

I marvel at moments like these. I think I am helping my children discover pieces of themselves and figure out where they go. And then they hand me pieces of myself that have been missing all my life. 

flesh and stone

I hate days like this. Days when I wake up with a lump in my throat feeling as though at any given moment I could sink down into a mound on the floor and shed a thousand tears.

Most days are not like this. Most days I am pretty up, pretty positive, pretty peppy. But every once in a while, I have a day when life seems to catch up with me and take its toll.

I have come to realize that this is part of having an open heart. Just yesterday I heard someone talking about a heart of stone being replaced with a heart of flesh.

I love the way that sounds. So beautiful. So alive. I want a heart of flesh. I want to love deeply and fully and freely and generously. I want an open heart.

But there is a cost.

A heart of stone is very difficult to hurt. Stone is heavy and hard and fairly indestructible. And impermeable. Nothing goes in, nothing goes out.

But flesh is another matter entirely.

Flesh is soft and warm and malleable. Flesh is organic and living. It breathes. Flesh takes in and gives out. And flesh is vulnerable.

We have all heard the phrase “love hurts”. I disagree. Giving and receiving love does not hurt. But having a soft and tender heart that loves people and life also must grieve from time to time.

Because this world is not a perfect place. People hurt one another and themselves. And sometimes the awareness of that truth attacks my heart of flesh. And it hurts.

But as I am having one of those days when it all catches up to me, I realize this is the cost of an open heart. It hurts from time to time. And I am tempted to close this heart of flesh and trade it in for a heart of stone.

But no. I won’t. I will keep my open heart, my heart of flesh. Even if it costs me some pain now and then on days like today. Because I would rather be open and give and receive and breathe than be hard and heavy and impermeable.

The cost is entirely worth it to me.