Cherishing Loved Ones

“Cherish your human connections- Your relationships with friends and family.”
– Barbara Bush and Joseph Brodsky

I am a mother of one child. I have cherished my daughter from the day she was born. My mother, I cherish, too. I am one of the acorns of my family tree. I have four other siblings. I have always loved my mom, and at times actions and things that were said to me from the past have stood between us. How did I learn to cherish these loved ones? It has been a process of looking inward.

For the word “Cherish”, I found these synonyms:
“adore, hold dear, love, dote on, be devoted to, revere, esteem, admire; think the world of, set great store by, hold in high esteem; care for, tend to, look after, protect, preserve, keep safe”

These are all verbs that require me to try to act on behalf of someone I love. To me it requires me to try to love unconditionally, without judgment. I am trying to give those I love free rein without imposing my will, wishes, or any manipulation to get the outcome I want; I am working to accept them for who they are.

These “requirements” can be challenging to live in action. Very recently my own will was tested when I spoke to my elderly mother on a visit. The child in me did not accept and felt hurt by an exchange I had with her. Although she is 98, I wanted her to respond differently than how she did. Over the last week, I had to go inward because the adult in me had not allowed myself to feel what I felt about my mother’s response. I had shut down my own feelings. After several days of processing, I became able to accept what she had said because I could NOT expect her to say words that I wanted to hear, but that she was unable to say.

With my daughter I feel a deep connection and love her dearly. With my mother I am aware of a difference in my connection with her, and I love her. It has taken me years to understand that my mother is and was truly doing the best she can and could when I was a child, and she grew up in a very different era than I did. My mom made different choices in life than I have.

My expectations of how both of them “should” be, don’t matter. Those are mine. I have no control over others. This is where I get to learn that we are separate and have our separate lives and live and walk on separate paths. They are both a wonderful part of my life. However, they are only two of the reasons I am happy to be alive. They are not my sole reason for living. I have my own purpose, my own path, my own reason to be alive.

Getting to this point of more ease, peace, and acceptance, has taken a lot of reflection and actual work, and it is ongoing. In the past, I NEEDED to be and was desperate to be a HELPER and FIXER. I thought that was my role in life. I was always watching out for others, and neglecting my OWN needs because I was unaware of what they were.

This video is a short version of how to start being compassionate to yourself, and thus, become able to give that to others. Kristin Neff PhD has written and done extensive work and study about self-compassion. Here is a taste of what she is suggesting as a way to look inward. She was one of my teachers who helped me learn who I am, so that I could begin to cherish myself, as well as others. Becoming able to have self-compassion for myself and others, particularly those I love, has resulted in me becoming the “mostly” happy person, I always wanted to be. Most of the time now, I know what I am feeling, so I can sit with both my suffering and joy, and not get stuck long term in the moments of suffering in my life. Being more present for my own life has been awesome and full of wonderful possibilities.

I am learning to cherish myself and own life with deep gratitude, and thus, I am able to cherish those I love in deep and wondrous ways.

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Scream: A Possibile Future Reality

So far this year, I have remained sort of apolitical, but my whole life I have been political. Since we have the slight possibility of having a former Reality Star as our President, I can NO LONGER be silent. I need to paint a picture of what the USA might look like should that slight possibility of Mr. Trump becoming our President come to pass. We don’t need to envision this, it is already a way of life in a particular state I know of. This state is being sued by the US Federal Government to protect the civil rights of the people in that state.

In the state of North Carolina, the following laws have been passed. The following services have been cut. Once laws such as these have been passed, we as a nation of governed by laws, are not quickly or easily able to turn those laws around and nullify them.

1. Gun laws: HB 937 dramatically expanded protections for gun rights. The new law allows North Carolinians with valid concealed-carry permits to protect themselves in several areas that were previously gun-free zones, including restaurants that sell ALCOHOL, greenways (parks), and establishments that charge admission. The law also allows permit holders to keep guns in locked compartments inside vehicles while on the property of a public university, community college, SCHOOL, or state government parking lot.

2. Lawmakers passed a bill that prohibited the state from accepting
Federal Medicaid funding that would have made health care benefits available to more citizens. They also chose not to set up a state health exchange program to implement the Affordable Care Act.

3. In public schools, the lawmakers cut funding to almost all districts in 2013, 2014, and 2015 including cutting assistants and many other positions around the state. Here is an article about education in North Carolina from the Washington Post:
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/answer-sheet/wp/2015/08/07/north-carolinas-step-by-step-war-on-public-education/

4. It establishes a NEW VOTER identification system that requires voters to present certain acceptable forms of ID: driver’s license, non-operator ID card, tribal ID card, military ID card, or passport. Any North Carolina citizen who does not have a valid government-issued ID will be able to obtain one at no cost through the Division of Motor Vehicles. The law does not take full effect until 2016, with gradual implementation beginning in 2014. THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT SUED THE STATE OF NORTH CAROLINA FOR THIS NEW LAW, AND SAID IT IS AGAINST THE CIVIL RIGHTS OF NORTH CAROLINIANS, recently.

5. Since Roe V Wade is still the law of the land this is this state’s solution:
a. Prohibits individuals and families from obtaining abortion coverage through the health-exchange, even if they buy their insurance plan entirely with their own money.
b. Strips comprehensive reproductive healthcare coverage from thousands of city and county employees, coverage that the majority of private insurance plans offer.

6. This is the state where the “bathroom law”, HB2, against transgender people became a furor. What was is more, this law from 2015 bars anyone from suing the state of North Carolina for any CIVIL RIGHTS’ VIOLATIONS. Examples: age, racial, gender discrimination. Here is a further explanation:
http://www.xojane.com/issues/hb2-north-carolina-nondiscrimination

7. This state has an anti immigrant stance. Law H.B. 318 The bill invalidates consular documents as acceptable forms of identification. This was not the case before it was passed. This law would prohibit North Carolina cities from passing community trust policies, known as sanctuary city ordinances, that seek to build trust by limiting local law enforcement’s cooperation with the federal government over civil immigration matters.

8. Governor McCrory of this state signed a bill into law in mid July 2016 that:
makes that footage from police dashboard cameras inaccessible to the general public, including everyday citizens who were recorded in the footage and might need it to prove police misbehavior. Loud out cry did NOT matter.

I could go on. This is not a USA I want to live in. There will be NO Federal Government to protect our Civil liberties and rights, if this kind of thinking is our US FEDERAL GOVERNMENT. It could be more like a country with which Mr. Trump is very chummy, Russia, and its leader.

President Putin, whose former job during the Soviet Union’s communism was running the KGB (secret police), is one scary leader. Russia is not a reality show. Russia today is probably more free than when I visited it in 1965. I am generally a pretty cheerful person. I was depressed everyday I was in Russia (for about a week as a tourist). “Everyone” had a job and apartment (although you might be sharing one with another family) and was equally poor; I never saw a child with his/her parents. While there, I was watched, as were all of us who traveled with me. I grew up in a household where I had NO say. How about a whole country where you felt like you were in a prison? Mr. Trump is NO laughing matter. That is why I have to SCREAM THIS FROM THE ROOFTOPS.
This is a newer report by an American organization that has been around since 1941, Freedom House. This is their report on the level of freedom in Russia today:
https://freedomhouse.org/report/freedom-world/2015/russia

The fact that Mr. Trump is so openly friendly with Russia and is dismissing NATO and the countries in it: Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, the United Kingdom, and the United States, Greece and Turkey (joined in 1952), West Germany, (joined in 1955) and Spain (joined in 1982), which have been our allies, is frightening to me.

Let what has happened in the state of North Carolina be a warning.

This blog is not being written against the people of North Carolina. I still know wonderful people and have friends there. What has happened in this state since it became a red state in the legislature and with the governor in 2012 is one of the saddest, most shocking set of changes that I have ever seen in my life, and I have lived in California, Arizona, Texas, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, North Carolina, and Oregon.

WE all have a choice this election.

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Thinking with My Heart

What do I mean by “thinking with my heart”? I mean I have found if I feel first and then think, I make better choices for myself. I am a happier person. I care more about myself and others when I live from this space. I feel more present in my life, not just going through the motions.

My “automatic” thinking tends to be darker, more fearful, more competitive, and less creative. My automatic thinking came often from fear and expecting the worst. When I go to my automatic thinking, I am less open and see fewer possibilities for myself and others.

Look out at our world. Would it be a better place for all of us, if we felt what we needed to before we reacted to situations and conversations? Would we be more compassionate? I believe we would. What I have noticed about myself is that I like myself more when I say something or act in a more open and generous way towards others. This takes effort. I have to reflect longer before I respond to people. Instead of making snap judgments, I take longer to assess what is going on before I respond to something or take action.

“The heart has its own language. The heart knows a hundred thousand ways to speak.” -Rumi

This is a TEDx Talk which speaks about this subject by Magdalena Bak-Maier:

Naturally, there have been times when I have felt angry, and that was an appropriate reaction to what was happening. Thinking with my heart does not mean denying what is happening or has happened in the past. I can return to thinking with my heart once I have processed whatever I need to.

Another huge factor that keeps me thinking with my heart is I need to check in with “my source”. My source is a force I believe connects me with every other living thing. This source helps to guide me towards thinking from a more loving space filled with compassion for all including myself. What is great today, I have more choices how I respond when I think with my heart.

“Our days are HAPPIER when we give people a bit of our heart rather than a piece our mind.”

Thank you, Pinterest, for this saying.

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Open or Closed Door?

Are you an OPEN or CLOSED door?

open door at apartment

OPEN door

In the world do you show up open to people or are you closed? By this I mean, do you attempt to meet people with an open-mind or a closed one. I have become more open-minded, and open-hearted about others, as I have been learning to love and accept myself more.  As I got older, I also noticed as a teacher that I felt more love and connection with my students, and I learned so much about life from them.

closed  apartment door

CLOSED door

There is a real down side to NOT being open with all kinds of people of all races, cultures, and sexual orientations. You miss out on getting to know interesting, intelligent, and fun people when you remain closed in your thinking. You miss opportunities to eat their delicious food or hear different kinds of music. You are also cutting off yourself from receiving love, kindness, and learning from people you are unwilling to even meet.

You also might feel fear of people who are merely different from yourself. I know I did when I was a child,  and I remember being shy; back then, I was afraid of most people. I’m a different person now because I became more OPEN. Now I make different choices for myself.

A poem that speaks to differences is one from Shel Silverstein, No Difference. Watch it performed.

Growing to have a more OPEN heart requires ongoing work on yourself. Believe me, I’ve been doing it! Louise Hay has been a woman who has been a pioneer in this field for a very long time. Visit her website:

http://www.healyourlife.com/10-affirmations-to-heal-your-broken-heart

heart from necklace

OPEN heart

It is your choice, will YOU be OPEN or CLOSED?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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