Tag Archives: family

daddy’s girl

me & apu“You know you have a dead bug on your desk, right?”
“Yup.”
“Okay, just checking.”

This is somewhat typical of my conversations with my son. The young man. The high school graduate. The one about to quest onward into the rest of his life. The boy with a geographically challenged father-son relationship. The one with a wide, wide, tender heart, trying to come to terms with the world, on his own terms.

Perhaps we are all doing that.

Yet another Father’s Day has come, this one in conjunction with summer solstice. It is somehow fitting that the sun, a symbolically male energy, would be paired with the day celebrating what could essentially be viewed as a man’s accomplishment of siring offspring.

Popping out children into the world isn’t hard. Don’t kid yourself, though – good parenting is, although our individual views of what that entails varies wildly depending upon cultural, socio-economic and philosophical adherences. It’s fascinating, really.

Unwittingly, we pass along to our children the best and worst parts of ourselves; they are formed by both, the cycle perpetuates itself.

The best we can do – at least the best that I can do – is to attempt to be as unobtrusive an influence as possible so that he can, within the safety net of the family home, find his own way.

There are many things I wish.
I wish I would have taught him to be closer to the earth, and more in tune with the natural world.
The unnatural one, too. The one that sits in your belly and helps steer your way.

It’s hard to teach that without sounding woo-woo. Woo-woo was a bad word in our household when our family was still intact, probably mostly because I engaged with it.

Me, with my crystals and my incense burning, trying to find a healing way as much for myself as for others. To them I was just weird, not wyrd, if you know what I mean.

This mirrored much of the dynamic of my childhood. My mother was the one who was the skeptic while my father remained noncommittal.

apu

No opinion was better than a verbal debate with my mother, yet we both read Ouspensky, Rampa, Crowley and Castaneda. He still offered little in the way of commentary, but I felt a sort of silent solidarity with my father.

I’m pretty sure my father was never really shown how to be a father, by way of a proper example, and his early life experiences shaped him (or misshaped him).

The gift my father brought to me, in the end, was that of redemption. I can’t explain what I mean by that without dragging the whole of my family dirty laundry out into the open. Suffice it to say that I believe that my father’s actions, throughout most of my life unto his passing, were a quiet attempt at redemption. I have no doubt that he suffered. Guilt erodes us from the inside.

His passing, when I was 27, punched a hole into our enmeshed little lives. It changed the dynamic and created a vortex for me to exit through. And I did. It was long overdue. I was, however, so very unprepared for what that exit entailed. It has been a long journey. I am still journeying.

Perhaps we all are.

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honouring the ancestors… and someday you’ll be one

halloween_feet
The wheel turns. As we sink into this darker half of the year, customs abound in all cultures on deeper contemplation, on honouring what has come before, on feeling gratitude for the fruits our of labours (and perhaps, in retrospect, at having been afforded the opportunity for this most recent revolution around the sun).

When my son was little, I wanted to compensate for the lack of fanfare of my own childhood during these holidays by making his a grand production.

We went to pumpkin patches and gutted and carved our share of large orange gourds.
We roasted salty pumpkin seeds once they were gleaned from the slimy guts.
We ordered costumes and went trick-or-treating.

I had never incorporated the idea of honouring the ancestors during this time even though I was well aware of the idea of the thinning of the veil between our worlds. It would have been an appropriate time to bring it up to him. Maybe I wanted him to rejoice in the fun parts of childhood without becoming morbid, or rather, without diminishing with sombreness the indefatigable vibrancy of youth.

After my mother’s passing, the last one of my two parents, there was a sort of severing of rootedness that took place. In some ways, I was anxious to be free of the constraints. In so many ways I’d tried to find happiness within the narrow parameters that they had set as their view of who I was, and I think we all walked away from the table mostly dissatisfied.

I keep thinking that human potential is limitless, if we are mentored beyond our perceived limitations. I don’t mean that we don’t individually have any, only that if we can picture what is beyond the area that we think is the greatest reach of our potential, we are able to somehow come up with a way to access the road that will bring us there. Mentors, advocates, are truly gifts to the world as they help lead the way there. Sometimes, ever on our fool’s journey, we are incapable of seeing the path on our own.

I suppose as parents the biggest task we are given is to help our offspring become skilled in discernment, to learn to know what and when to believe in the constant stream of incoming information, and what to do with it – to learn how to translate it all into some form of action that will lead us forward in a favourable manner.

I don’t know if I’ve accomplished this task, as a parent. I know mine failed at this, and I’ve had to learn by much trial and error how to guide myself onward. Maybe it’s something that can’t be taught because it is as individual as we are in how we approach it.

In any case – in my usual penchant to tangents – I return us to last night, the Eve of All Hallows or Souls Day.

candy_bowl
I went in to the neighbourhood grocery store to pick up a few things, particularly the candy I intended to hand out to trick or treaters. I had held out on purchasing it mostly to save me from myself. As I exited the store and started heading up the sidewalk towards home, I heard the unmistakeable sound of my native tongue. Because it is such a rare occasion to hear it spoken, I wheeled my cart back around and said hello. We chatted on the sidewalk for a while, and then, at the invitation of one of the women, we holed up in Starbucks for over an hour to continue the conversation.

I haven’t really spoken a whole lot of Hungarian since my mother passed in 2003. We would speak on the phone every couple of days (I was living in California and she was living on the outskirts of Montreal). The frequency of our calls kept up my language skills, although I never would have considered myself as fluent in the language as a native speaker. It’s not that I don’t understand or speak, only that the expressions, turns of phrase, vastness of vocabulary is something that would take time to get used to if I were to truly count myself among them. Within an hour my odd little accent began smoothing out. I began remembering words and how to use them during a discussion. We discussed getting together on a regular basis and inviting other Hungarians aching to chat in their mother tongue too.

When I got home last night I realized that what had transpired was the greatest homage that I had ever paid to my parents and ancestors. I had been ruminating, initially, on how I would set about doing just that. Last week I had spent some time watching Jo Rowling go about searching out her own roots. I had envisioned setting up a shrine of sorts, and spending some time in meditation, or perhaps journaling about what they had meant to me, and contemplating on the far reach of my own roots.

Last night I felt that perhaps, with this thinning of the veil, they had orchestrated this meeting to remind me that they are not so far away after all.

your choices matter… even the bad ones

Rumi - Field

“Beyond our ideas of right-doing and wrong-doing,
there is a field. I’ll meet you there.
When the soul lies down in that grass,
the world is too full to talk about.
Ideas, language, even the phrase ‘each other’
doesn’t make sense any more.”  ~Rumi

(Because y’all know I contemplate a lot – it’s just what I do I’ve been thinkin’…)

Someone on my Facebook friends list posted that relationship is her spiritual practice. This of course got me thinking (because … see above) about all of the relationships I’ve had in my life, as well as those I’ve observed first hand (like my parents’ relationship, for example).

I thought about my last intimate relationship and how it’s affecting my present moment.

I’ve thought about that person’s new relationship and how joyous it seems, how right, and effectively how wrong we now appear for each other, in retrospect.

I’ve thought about my abandoned marriage and the choices that paved their way to my finding myself here, now.

I thought about my mother’s relationship with my father, and how the choices she made affected both our (actually, our whole family’s) lives, and how both of us, at points of our lives not terribly far from each other’s in age, we made different choices, and how each of us chose to be brave in the best ways we knew how.

I thought about how other people have influenced most of my choices throughout the course of my life; how through fear-imbued rhetoric they managed to shape the way I viewed my potential and possibilities, and how, when my mother had to make a choice whether to leave her shambled marriage or to stay in it, middle-aged and with a young four year old child, she chose to stay, while I, faced with a similar choice, chose to leave. I saw possibility; potential. She saw hardship; strife.

I’ve often reproached myself, over the course of my life, for always being the one to cut out, though in truth I honestly do feel that I gave my marriage all I could with whatever I had at my disposal.

Many other choices preceded that last monumental one. Over the course of my life I had always opted for safety and comfort because I was afraid that I didn’t have what it took to withstand difficulty, but in so choosing it proved to me that I could. The choice of not making the right one created difficulties that were probably just as challenging and certainly more corrosive than the ones which would have resulted had I made the choices I ought to have made in the first place – had I had more courage to embrace what my heart truly wanted.

Each choice, however minute, however beneficial or detrimental, builds who you become. It shapes you, pebble by pebble, breath by breath.

In the end one hopes what the monument of self that we have built over the course of our lives is one we are pleased with when it comes to its end.

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The above sketch came to me during Jennifer Louden’s freebie introductory session for her Life Organizer Navigation Course. If you are so moved and are able to take it, DO it. I can’t at this time and hope to continue respectfully engaging in dialog with my shadow comforts and time monsters to reach an equitable working arrangement. Peace. xo

(and below is the sketch from above translated into colour in my art journal)

photo

truth or consequences

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The school year is only a month or so in, but already the emails start coming, from the teachers, from the counsellor. My son will early next year officially be of voting age, and yet, and yet…

A friend asked about consequences for his not showing up and going to school. The onus is on him. The consequences for him not following through are his failure to thrive. So no punishment, which to my mind, as far as he is concerned, has not worked since elementary school (and I question it’s effectiveness, even then, in retrospect).

We did, however, have a talk. I talked, mostly, and he listened, mostly, but when asked he did reply as best he could, and that’s all I can expect. I told him to reach out – that he is never in anything alone – and if he needs assistance or just a sounding board, people who love and care about him are around him and always available.

I did not get preachy (much) but I told him that some people are lucky and some people struggle and some work really hard and we all attempt to wring out of life what we need and want, and what that means to each person is an individual thing, but we each need to spend some time with ourselves to figure out what that is.

I told him that I struggle, that I struggle to provide us a good life because I didn’t think much about these same things when I was young and life made choices for me. I told him I struggle as a human being and at almost 50 I am still only now figuring some important things out about myself and life.

I told him I struggle as a parent, excruciatingly making choices for the both of us that will permanently, in some way, affect both our lives. Tears were shed, by both of us. I think I got through. Maybe.

On breaking down… a personal essay

I break down, randomly and with great regularity. I wonder when the tears will stop flowing, and the pain will transform into something else, something useful, like resolve or definitive action.

I wonder why I feel so broken this time, why a relationship that lasted but a year is capable of dissolving me into the putrid mess I have become. I wonder if it was simply the tipping point, the drop that made the bucket overflow, bringing with it all of the water that I had thought to be of the under the bridge kind.

I am mourning a loss but don’t understand why this man, who didn’t care about me deeply enough to be honest with his intentions (though I don’t think he was honest with himself, either), is worthy of my sorrow.

Why is it bothering me so much this time? Because I am older, and sometimes not wiser, and certainly faded in all of my physical attributes, the ones I had relied upon growing up and prior to marrying, imagining that if I picked carefully, I would only have to do it once?

Self-worth has always been an issue, but moreso now, as I look at what it is that I can offer to the world-not much, in my estimation, but I know on a deeper level that that is wrong, that is my inner critic speaking.

Or perhaps it is my mother at her most cynical, in her moments when she would scream at me at the top of her voice, letting me know that I was a choice, that she could have had me scratched out, like the several before me, how she suffered to bring me into the world and how I was an awful, awful child, always misbehaving. Fortunately, I was oblivious of these things as a young child, this being brought to my attention only as a young adult.

And fear grips me. The fear of being obsolete and useless. The fear of not being able to better myself or my situation. The fear of not being able to figure out how to fill out an application to resume my long-abandoned education and the fear of not being able to absorb the material or even qualify for entrance.

Why an application to college fills me with dread and befuddles me to the point of paralysis is beyond me, but it does.

I wish for a hand. One to hold, that will guide me through the process, slowly and methodically, never faltering in its support or wavering in its faith. One that knows something I don’t, has done something I haven’t yet but aim to do, and has triumphed. One who knows that I will triumph too.

Mostly, I wish for kindness. Kindness and the kind of love that is deep and compassionate. One that will not threaten to scratch me out.

mothers’ day

Another mother’s day post, you say, throwing accolades at the worthy women of our lives. Well… no, not really. I’m sure you would expect nothing less from this blog than to hear something different, right?

My mother has been deceased since 2003, and I still miss her. There are many things about my mother that I don’t miss, but certainly the connection we had with each other, severed with her passing, is something that will always leave a gap in the place that she held, in my heart and in my life.

I learned from her as much how not to parent as I did how to. In between the mess of doing our worst and our best, our children take away exactly what it is that they need to know. I’m sure that somewhere down the line my son will think along similar lines… assimilate the stuff that works and reject the stuff that doesn’t.

Becoming a mother was one of the most transformational experiences of my life. Until then I could only guess at what one feels when one gives life to another human being. Until then my only point of reference to motherly love was what I felt coming from my mother, and what I in turn felt toward her.

Her love was wildly fierce, but it came mixed with so many other things, the detritus of her past that molded and shaped her into who she became. She of uncommon independence before there was a such a thing as a women’s movement. She who kicked a soviet soldier in the ass (after chasing him down, for grabbing her older sister’s breast while he and a buddy walked by on the sidewalk beside them) and cussing him out in Russian. She who, at the age of 38, with nary a suitcase of “stuff,” left her mother land and crossed a militarized border to pursue the ideal of freedom. Amazing cook… fastidious homemaker… talented clothing designer and seamstress.

She was also an unbending disciplinarian; the wooden spoon ruled in our home until I was old enough to grab it out of her hand and ask her if she’d like me to whack her with it to see if she liked how it felt. And while she may have taken care of many of my physical needs, she was inept at building my self esteem; in fact, she routinely went about tearing down the things that were meaningful to me, the things that I was vested in emotionally, based solely on the fact that they were “unrealistic.” What I remember hearing many times was “stop floating around with your head in the ether and get back down to earth.” Embittered by her own experiences, she felt that life was a pointless exercise in disappointment, rife with trials and tribulations. Cynicism hardened her to most everything, except her love for me… and then I left her as she was growing frail and elderly, to start my own life three thousand miles away.

My time away from her and the rest of my family was bittersweet. While my mother and I kept in touch long distance, it isn’t the same as having someone close by. You miss out on the day to day interactions that can be wonderful times, though in many ways the distance was a blessing, at least for me. It allowed me to grow as a human, to transcend the sort of suffocating control that my mother, my family and others who knew me from when I was a child would manage to impose on me. I broke out of the mold. I learned to breathe… and to fly.

Room for a view…


I’ve been rather silent lately… no doubt the few readers I had have long since stopped coming by, seeing that there was nothing new, so to speak, going on here, though that certainly couldn’t be farther from the truth as to what has been transpiring in my life.

I am now back in Canada, a few minutes away from Vancouver (well, less than an hour, preferably by train). We’ve had moves to and from storage units… a “lice incident” the day before Gabriel was to start eighth grade (though because of bulging class sizes, we ended up having to wait another week before they could reroute him to another school, which he is very pleased with, so it was all a good thing)… boxes… so many boxes… still. But I have plans, and will slowly make this place our home. We have food in the fridge and cupboards and love in our hearts for each other, and that’s what matters, really, doesn’t it?

Birthday feasts…

Gabriel and my birthdays aren’t even a week apart, so we went to The Melting Pot for a celebratory dinner tonight. I’m so stuffed I could have been wheelbarrowed home… two hours’ worth of eating… Wisconsin Cheese Fondue… Caesar Salad… Seafood, Meat/Poultry and Ravioli Fondue… capped off with a Bailey’s Irish Cream and Milk Chocolate Fondue. Mmmmm… urp! Delish! A once a year extravaganza. We would have made the Romans proud (good thing I’ve started riding my bike to work).

Merry, merry… the end of another year

Another year has flown by. They appear to go by more quickly these days. An illusionist’s trick, it seems, since the days edge along, sometimes even creep so slowly that I feel I can’t bear another minute of it, and yet the year has gone and here I am, again looking back, from this vantage point, at the dizzying speed at which it elapsed.

To usher me out in grand style, the year has thoughtfully given me something to carry with me into the new year… a head cold. I was beginning to feel it’s grip on my on Friday morning at the office, and was relieved that they let us out earlier so that I could go home and rest up. I’ve been drinking lots of fluids and also a concoction of Grapefruit Seed Extract (GSE) drops stirred into orange juice… and garlic toast and hot herbal teas with the juice of a whole lemon and a big dollop of honey mixed in. I’m happy to announce that I’m on an upswing. And… Puffs brand tissues scented with Vicks mentholatum is da bomb!

Christmas was once again generous. Gabriel got a Guitar Hero 3 game from the Grands, while Steve gave me a lovely (oh how I coveted this necklace!) Tiffany lapis lazuli “bean” necklace. I’m embarrassed to admit that it is appropriately named a “choker” as it fits around my neck but only just, so I’ll either need to go on a diet and lose some of my neck’s girth, or have an extension added… more likely the latter. Steve went out on a limb and purchased a couple of bottles of scent for me… something that he hasn’t done… maybe ever? As most women, I am rather particular about perfumes, and since I don’t wear one daily, it’s pretty hard to figure out what my favorite brand is (assuming you are paying attention… and since this is not something Steve normally pays attention to, I was warmed by the effort made). Gabriel also got a very cool BMX bicycle, and many other goodies. Steve got a pair of new eyes, having had a lasik procedure done on the 21st, but had a few things under the tree to open as well… a nice set of headphones for this iPhone and/or iPod, and an iTunes gift card.

We were able to partake of our customary family holiday dinner together this year. Steve’s parents, brother Brian and sister-in-law Sheri joined us for our usual roast beast (well, TURkey, if I must be specific), with all the fixin’s. I was baking up a storm all the way to Christmas Day morning, which delayed putting the bird into the oven and hence, dinner. I was disappointed in how my baked goods turned out, for the most part, except for the Chewy Bars, which is a Family Recipe and was delish. The breads were either over baked (and hence, DRY) or underbaked (and hence, MOIST but not in a good way). I’ll have to try these again; this oven is difficult to guage as the heat fluctuates a fair a mount, and I’m guessing that even the location of the rack greatly affects the outcome. Love gas ovens, but they certainly are trickier than the electric kind.

Feeling better this afternoon, after a warm shower which cleared my head, I began work on my (overdue) “harvest colors” postcards for the color postcard swap that I have been hosting for the last year. I’ve had my challenges with staying on the monthly plan, but I still end up sending them out, albeit tardy. Not everyone has kept to the program, though, as several people have dropped off altogether and not sent their cards at all… which I’m sure vexes those who are tenacious and punctual. In any case, above is my batch of harvest colors in the making.

I wonder what good and wonderful things this next year will hold? I’ve long ago given up on “new year’s resolutions” but today I think I’ll send out some intentions into the universe, and see what transpires:

  • I wish to do my best, at all times, regardless of the endeavor, taking into account that my best will change from day-to-day
  • Take small steps to better every moment that I walk upon this earth
  • Be gentle, kind and loving with myself and others
  • Do little things each day that make my soul sing
  • Trust that all will work out exactly as it was meant to, and surrender the outcome

Happy New Year, One And All!