I have been working on the completing the Positive Change courtyard at South Eugene High School for over 3 years now. Like the long- awaited ending of most things, the resources of time, money and people have run thin and I, like most everyone else, is ready to move on. Unexpectedly, I have had an offer from a small group of boys who have taken on building furniture for the courtyard as their senior projects. Suddenly, I am in the courtyard again every day and it is the kids who are reminding me how far we have come.
Archive for the 'Positivity Quest' Category
The best things that ever happened to me in my life, occurred on the birth days of my four children; although I might not have admitted to it immediately post labor. Becoming a mother and growing into the kind of mother I always wished I had, has been the most essential healing journey of my life. Lest I paint some overly rosy glow of the challenges and frustrations of raising children, let me say that this love affair between mother and child may well be the most intense, complex and significant relationship we create in our lifetime. Certainly, it is the primary relationship, which instructs and influences our capacity for sustaining all those that comes after.
The future will be spoken in images. Words will be used in small quantities, as a laser pointer to highlight a meaning or to elicit an emotion- mostly laughter. We are already on our way to this new language if you are a teenager or hang around teenagers. Facebook is so ten minutes ago and Instagram and Snap Chat are the mechanisms by which they communicate. Capturing the moment and sharing it is the new art form. And it is less a broadcast mechanism like Facebook and Twitter, which opens your content to everyone and more a select tribe. Also, snaps disappear in seconds; no long term record of what has passed… The kids are all about this moment and the only way into their attention is through a personal invitation.
“So many fail because they don’t get started – they don’t go. They don’t overcome inertia. They don’t begin.” -W. Clement Stone
Starting things is hard. It explains why so many great ideas go unrealized. To begin, you have to become comfortable with the discomfort of the unknown, to embrace the truth that even the best laid plans often don’t hold up to the uncertainty and chaos that accompanies the process of making a start. Relationships are especially fragile in the space of beginning and often the people you believe would be beside you at every step fall away and people you may not have even known come forward to guide you at moments when everything seems lost. Likewise, the process of identifying roles and assigning responsibilities takes both patience and flexibility. The beginning offers a clean slate on learning how to relate, and the leadership that emerges from striking a delicate balance of direction and freedom is both inspired and inspiring.
I have been feeling the resurrection myth coming to life lately. Since my father’s passing, my relationship to him has completely transformed. There is a kindness and gentleness that has not been there in decades. I discovered a box of old photos in his home when I was cleaning it out that he had never shared with me from his childhood. It is easy to get lost in the black and white images of him as a baby being washed by his mother, my grandma who I loved dearly, and of his baby sister who died as a toddler. My own sons have such a strong resemblance to him that I never saw before and I am strikingly so much my grandmother.
This Monday is the 30th anniversary of my marriage to the guy I fell for when I was 19 years old. I wept when I came across the first published piece I ever wrote among my father’s photos and memorabilia when I was cleaning out his home after his death. This was a reader’s write column for the sun magazine, for which I won a year’s subscription. It was 1988, the year our first child was born and I was 26 when I wrote: “He laughs when he tells me, ‘so here you are married to the man of your dreams.’ He’s right, But I often forget that. The memory gets lost beneath the piles of dirty laundry, dirty dishes and frantic schedules. New baby and old family issues dominate the focus. But every now and then, seeing his penmanship or looking at him reading across the room, behind his round metal rimmed glasses, I feel the young girl of nineteen who fell in love with him. Grown up now, I fall in love all over again…But this love is a deeper one, born of all the efforts of conflicts resolved, communication achieved, joy and pain shared. It’s a love that fills all of me and all of my life.”
Lately, I am having to do a lot of practice with going through the motions of my Positivity work. Meditation, usually a deep solace, is hard to stay focused. I drift into thoughts and concerns for half my time and then awaken to what I have missed. Likewise, with my exercise routines, my clogged head feels like it is dead weight on a body that is weak. My emotions and thoughts pull me back over and over to what is wrong around me or worse still within me.
by Rabbi Allen S. Maller
When I die
If you need to weep
Cry for someone
Walking the street beside you.
You can love me most by letting
Hands touch hands, and Souls touch souls.
You can love me most by
Sharing your Simchas (goodness) and
Multiplying your Mitzvot (acts of kindness).
You can love me most by
Letting me live in your eyes
And not on your mind.
And when you say Kaddish for me
Remember what our
Love doesn’t die, People do.
So when all that’s left of me is love
Give me away.
There are a couple of immutable rules to living a love-filled life, which demand respect and compliance. Although they are simple, they are hard to recognize, as our misunderstanding of them is often built into our identities through early emotional wounds. It is easy to become self righteous about what we believe about love and easier still to never understand that the action of love is the courage to work at it.
These rules become clear often at the moment of death, when we are faced with the loss of one who loved us.
Immortality comes through love. This is what I just recently learned at the passing of my own father’s life. It had been close to 40 years since I felt love towards him. His wounded heart only knew one language- anger, and over the years it hardened into a bitterness that made it unsafe to love him. But now that he is gone, I am struck often, and forcefully, with tears of missing him, the father that I loved, and the wasted tragic years in between when I was unable to feel or express that love towards him.