Meaning Unbeknown

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There is a purpose and meaning to everything although we may not fully grasp it. I strive to comprehend for truth lies in the understanding. When that eludes me I often feel lost, working to find peace in the absence, balance in the silence.

A ladybug came to visit me again this morning. It has a personal meaning with a story and has shown up from time to time since, as if to say something. Is she reminding me of the story I was told as a child to count my blessings and show my gratitude with grace and style? Is it trying to convey its spiritual meaning, the need to release fear and return to love? Is it a sign of a different form?

The past few days my mockingbird has visited, perching herself within view to sing her melodious song. Sitting in my dogwood tree yesterday as if to tell me something, landing on my car as I was leaving to pick up a child, and in the bush as I walked into teach this morning. Is she reminding me to find my voice and speak it with grace and beauty? Does it remind me to be protecting of those I love with the same ferocity with which she protects her offspring?

I recently had a night filled with dreams of a cheetah; it was not filled with strife and struggle. She kept reaching out to me, as if trying to get my attention, rubbing on me as my house cat does. In one dream she was caged and clearly wanting to be by my side. Was this my mind telling me to pay attention? That I would need to find an inner-strength but as the cheetah, it would be a short intense time requiring immense fortitude that would soon come to an end?

I often struggle with the meaning of words as well. I feel people often veil their meanings and purpose. While this may be for a variety of reasons, concern for hurting another, one’s own lack of understanding and at times open deceit; it only results in greater confusion for me. I try, having spent many times watching and listening to see if I could grasp a connection between the words and behavior I often feel it still escapes me. Those close to me understand that I need words that align with intentions. I also appreciate the ability to have an open respectful dialogue when the confusion arrives. Maybe this comes from my training with numbers and logic or maybe it caused me to gravitate to where patterns and rationality create understanding.  Maybe one day I can stop searching for the meaning in words and actions and just stand before them as they are.

“You will never be happy if you continue to search for what happiness consists of. You will never live if you are looking for the meaning of life.” ~Albert Camus

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A Dream Within a Dream

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I have been intrigued with this poem as long as I can remember, having read this early in school, sometime before high school. When I find myself agonizing over the futility of life and considering  mortality I seem to wander to this among other readings that formed my underlying beliefs of my purpose.
A Dream Within a Dream
Take this kiss upon the brow!
And, in parting from you now,
Thus much let me avow —
You are not wrong, who deem
That my days have been a dream;
Yet if hope has flown away
In a night, or in a day,
In a vision, or in none,
Is it therefore the less gone?
All that we see or seem
Is but a dream within a dream.
I stand amid the roar
Of a surf-tormented shore,
And I hold within my hand
Grains of the golden sand —
How few! yet how they creep
Through my fingers to the deep,
While I weep — while I weep!
O God! Can I not grasp
Them with a tighter clasp?
O God! can I not save
One from the pitiless wave?
Is all that we see or seem
But a dream within a dream?
     ~EDGAR ALLAN POE

When the Going Gets Tough

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I try to live with a heart filled with compassion, kindness and gratitude. Sometime life gets tough and it the midst of the struggle, it is easy to lose sight. I often try to focus on these tenants, little morning reminders, my guiding principles when it is difficult, that little mantra that has seen me through some pretty difficult times. My greatest struggle are with the first two stanzas while the rest are always a focus! This is a wonderful written piece(found at OnBeing) said with an eloquence that makes it very real. Had to share.

When the Going Gets Tough...

BY KATRINA KENISON , GUEST CONTRIBUTOR

When the going gets tough may I resist my first impulse to wade in, fix, explain, resolve, and restore. May I sit down instead.

When the going gets tough may I be quiet. May I steep for a while in stillness.

When the going gets tough may I have faith that things are unfolding as they are meant to. May I remember that my life is what it is, not what I ask for. May I find the strength to bear it, the grace to accept it, the faith to embrace it.

When the going gets tough may I practice with what I’m given, rather than wish for something else. When the going gets tough may I assume nothing. May I not take it personally. May I opt for trust over doubt, compassion over suspicion, vulnerability over vengeance.

When the going gets tough may I open my heart before I open my mouth.

When the going gets tough may I be the first to apologize. May I leave it at that. May I bend with all my being toward forgiveness.

When the going gets tough may I look for a door to step through rather than a wall to hide behind.

When the going gets tough may I turn my gaze up to the sky above my head, rather than down to the mess at my feet. May I count my blessings.

When the going gets tough may I pause, reach out a hand, and make the way easier for someone else. When the going gets tough may I remember that I’m not alone. May I be kind.

When the going gets tough may I choose love over fear. Every time.

Pavlovian

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After a discussion I had this morning, I find myself reflecting how we revert to our core when everything seems to be challenged.  We fall back into the patterns we know, the learned behaviors we have lived for a lifetime. Despite our best efforts, these rise to the surface and can take continual monitoring to manage. Having lived through pain it is one instinct to protect themselves; a continual scuffle between fear and hope.  With enough time, effort, and grace can they be relearned?

After a lifetime of conditioning, I have the ingrained assumption that the quiet retreat is only a momentary pause occurs before the real attack. I have learned that an initial push, a small lashing is always followed by silence that leads a full scale attack, that always results in damage and scars I will forever bear. In that moment of false tranquility, I leaned to steadied my mask and while filled with apprehension I braced myself with a vigilance and for the onslaught I could not flee. For as long as I remember, I have seen this occur, as if it were the only coping mechanism many have, in some friendships as well as relationships which were more personal.  I was reminded that this is not the only result that follows the moments when the world is silenced; sometimes the hush is a need to balance and heal oneself,  as I have often needed.

This week a friend faced an overwhelming challenge and pulled back into that silence seeking their peace and balance. Seeing the pain in their eyes as they struggled to vocalize their difficulty concerned me at so many levels.  While I wanted to collect them in my arms and reassure them it would all pass, that life would return to their normal I also found myself filled with a growing sense of dread. Although it may have been in vain,  I struggled through my fearfulness and angst to reach out, to try to offer reassurance and support. Through this I gained a new perspective that there is not always a campaign of my spirit; there can be a respectful pause. one small gift in all the confusion.  I wonder if I will always revert to that anxiety, boarding my windows and doors and fortifying myself form the impending disaster.  Hiding behind those battlements I may miss the rainbow that can arrive after the storm or the sun that continued to shine in the absence of my imagined impending catastrophe.

“Courage in danger is half the battle.”  ~Plautus

The Weight We Carry

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Why do we live with such fear, guilt, and shame.  I think this is something everyone must deal with yet we always strive to keep it hidden.   There are times this burden is so heavy I feel I may be crushed under the weight of it.  As an academic I understand life through questions and research, I have spent years reading research to try to understand for myself and those in my life. As a mathematician, I was trained initially in logic knowing that there is proof in the patterns; this is how I process looking for the methodical frameworks in life and unfortunately emotions lack rationality.  I carry the guilt that my children have experienced such pain and the shame they are a product of a broken home; that is something that I may never lay down because I have so much fear for their future. I know the logical arguments, you tried all you could, there are over 50% of children that are products of divorce,  being happy will help them become happy adults. I am not even sure I deserve the last for I have a guilt that is overwhelming when I feel true happiness. There have been fleeting moments when I find myself standing in the glory of a joyous moment but then there are times I find that guilt creeping in and that little voice reminding me I am not worthy of these things. I am unsure I am even lovable which the saboteur often reminds me of as well. Those are parts of myself that have existed as long as I can remember and although I have worked to avoid them and at times battle them, I am not unsure if they will ever go or even if I will understand their purpose.

I do know that shame, guilt and fear can also develop into strong connection that works to eliminate those demons. Holding the err of your ways with a sincere apology can lighten the burden. Although this takes great courage and introspection to identify, it also takes a person who will stand squarely with you in your vulnerability, listening without judgement and accepting with respect and compassion. It is difficult to find those people in life for it is much easier for someone to find weakness in your vulnerability than to acknowledge the strength it took to stand before you; some seek power in encouraging your shame to grow. It is in those moments when we know the people who see our strength, respect our struggle and know our truth are the ones we will share a journey with.

We are all imperfect in our design, with our struggles and flaws, but the acknowledgement of our imperfections make us perfect helps us grow. We are who we were meant to be in that moment and although we may never understand the reason or rational we must hold to fast to that fact. As the phoenix rose from its own destruction stronger, if we learn how to face our shame and find motivation in our fear and strength in our pain we too can become empowered

“Maybe there’s more we all could have done, but we just have to let the guilt remind us to do better next time.” ― Veronica Roth

Warmth of the Sun

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Standing among the rubble, I am unsure which stone to pick up first but am well aware of the task ahead of me. I thought I was living my life as it was meant to be, based on kindness, compassion and love. Focusing on my children first, I give them all of myself, when they are home and awake I work hard to be attentive meeting their needs and setting expectations, providing structure and discipline so they will grow to be adults that learn to set personal boundaries, be productive, loving and kind. One never knows if their efforts will come to fruition until much time has passed and we pause to look back. I have given to the world, those in my life, friends and family,  as well as to strangers in hopes of leaving a little imprint.Hope that my kindness and caring can offer support, help and solace when needed. My career is centered around giving to others, my faith is based in compassion and love, my purpose was kindness; all given unconditionally with a deep empathy and endearment. Now I have stumbled, making choices to remove barriers and focus on being open giving deeply of myself may not have been the right choice.

I find myself lost, as if I cannot feel the warmth of the sun or feel the direction the wind blows.. I think of my existence and consider if I have my journey was of value. I think of how I had grieved the loss of so many things throughout my life. I remember reconciling the loss of a marriage, while still in it; the fact I was never loved in my adult life and had resigned myself to the fact I would never be. I accepted the fact my happiness was insignificant, not in the way a mother puts her children first but at my essence. I understand the overpowering feeling of loneliness in a room full of people, the effort it takes to put on a  smile to navigate in a cruel world  and the discomfort of guilt that will forever be carried. In public I often wonder people’s stories, are those two people talking over coffee really connected, why does he look so sad, how can she smile all the time, is she truly that happy.  Through all of that I was able to be strong and keep my balance, even working to deconstruct the barrier of protection I had used to buffer myself from the world, to give openly of my heart and soul. I find myself once again standing in the wasteland of hopes and dreams, questioning my purpose, my worth.

I find myself sitting among the refuse and detritus of my life, feeling as if I have crumbled, struggling to focus through the tears unsure I will ever understand. I pray and meditate for direction and the strength to move that way. For I hear that I should persist in things, to continue to care, offer compassion and give unconditionally I am unsure I have the fortitude to continue. I hope to muster the resilience to gather the stones and reconstruct the fortress, . Maybe being secured away high in a protective tower will keep me a bit closer and I can feel the warmth of the sun.

“If only I had an enemy bigger than my apathy I could have won” ~Marcus Oliver Johnstone

Cathartic in the Carnage

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Something got into my hen house and got one of my favorite girls. Not that it wouldn’t have been shocking at any level but I am not sure I would have been as shocked if it got my mean rooster. She was a beautiful white silkie and had an amazing temperament. She was also funny to watch, one of the first hens I got.  Still ill, it is a struggle to walk out through the yard to feed them, overwhelmingly tiring and when I saw the feathers everywhere, I froze. Soft white feathers some covered in blood were scattered across the ground. Exhausted and overwhelmed with emotions I sat down among them.

As the tears started to flow I was so aware of how much I had enjoyed her, the comical run through the yard and the chatter for a treat. I soon realized they were not just for her but for so much more. The persistent memory of a dear friend lost to breast cancer which has filled my thoughts. While I try to honor her memory, at times I feel the pain for those she left behind. I cried for the loss of a twenty-something dream of the white picket fence and happily ever after and that loss idealistic dreamer part of my soul that was filled with hope. I wept for the guilt I will always carry for my children; the choices I made in their interest, the fact they may grow up without knowing what a healthy loving relationship looks like, the unknown scars they will carry forward in life, the fact I cannot always protect them no matter my efforts. Sitting there crying among the carnage, I realized the value of all that was lost. As I mourned so much I let go of another layer of grief, releasing it to the earth rising with a strength to face another day.

“When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.” ~Khalil Gibran