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Losing Track of Ourselves

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Today I am much involved in the wheres and whens and hows of logistics for a road trip, strategic plans for church, antibiotics for a tick bite, appointments for car servicing, blah, blah, and blah.

Having no useful words in my own head, I offer a few from the head of Frederick Buechner, one of my favorite authors. May they expand your world today, if only for a moment:

“We are much involved, all of us, with questions about things that matter a good deal today but will be forgotten by this time tomorrow — the immediate where and whens and hows that face us daily at home and at work — but at the same time we tend to lose track of the questions about things that matter always, life-and-death questions about meaning, purpose, and value. To lose track of such deep questions as these is to risk losing track of who we really are in our own depths and where we are really going.”

Frederick Buechner

Where are we really going?

Where are we really going?

On Not Being a Mother on Mother’s Day

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On Not Being a Mother on Mother’s Day:

I miss my mom. I hated Mother’s Day for a couple of years after she passed in 2008 — all the advertising and cards and balloons felt like salt in a wound. “Some of us don’t have mothers!” I felt like screaming.

Eight years later, I’m mostly rational again. My grief is gentler now, so I don’t mind being reminded of how blessed I was to have Lorna B. Griffin as my mom. I appreciate the special recognition for the role of mother, and I admire the dedication of my friends and family who are mothers and step-mothers and grandmothers. 

Think Before You Speak

I don’t like it, though, when people wish me “Happy Mother’s Day” without thinking. I want to make up index cards of statistics for these well-intentioned folks, reminding them that nearly one in five women end their childbearing years never having had children. One in five.

I’m one of the lucky ones. I am child-free by choice. Others, not so much — for many, their childless state feels  like a tragedy.

Personally, I’m not too bent out of shape by these misdirected greetings. I know people mean well, and life is too short to make up grievances where none are intended. It’s just a slight annoyance. Still, I know that for some, hearing “Happy Mother’s Day” directed at them is like a knife in the heart. Especially rote, impersonal regards from a stranger.

Try This Instead

I recommend that if you do not know someone’s maternal state, say something like, “Enjoy your day!” If they are a mom, they will hear, “Happy Mother’s Day.” If not, they will just enjoy their day.

Here’s another idea. While everyone is different, I love it when someone intentionally wishes *me* a Happy Mother’s Day, followed by a comment like, “You are a mother to so many people,” or “You are a mother to our church family,” or even (what an honor!) “You are a second mother to me.”

This recognizes and honors me as an individual. There’s no assumption that since I’m female, I must have given birth. There’s no awkward silence or imagined shame that I am somehow deprived because I did not give birth or adopt. There’s no sense of being “less than.” I just feel appreciated.

My Girls

My Kids, Eliza Bean and Mayasika

So: to all my loved ones who are mothers or step-mothers, Happy Mother’s Day! To all the females I love who are not mothers, I honor the woman in you. Thank you for being who you are, for nurturing the people who God brings into your orbit, and for spreading love in the world in ways that are uniquely yours.  Enjoy your day, everyone!

Happy Day, Mom!

Happy Day, Mom!

Grateful for Gratitude

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I know I need to write about Orange Man — I know I do. But words fail me. I just can’t do it yet. I felt genuine terror yesterday when I read that our security agencies are about to brief him on highly sensitive matters.

“Don’t tell him anything!” I wailed, right out loud. There’s simply no regulator on his tongue, and his only allegiance is to his own bloated ego, which is getting more and more inflated like some giant dirigible full of toxins that’s casting a huge shadow over my country and it’s going to burst and cover all of us with his Orange Poison of Hate.

So, you see, I’m not ready to write about what the Republican voters have done.

I also considered writing about my father, who passed away forty-one years ago tomorrow, while I was at my college orientation. I hadn’t wanted to go, but Mom said he would want me to, and she was right. But thinking about my Dad dying from alcoholism at just fifty-eight makes me sad, especially when I worry about other loved ones possibly be headed for the same fate. (If you wonder about yourself, I urge you to consider getting help.)

I’d like to write about the lovely spring weather and flowers and such, but it’s been raining for a week straight. My pansies have been flooded out. Plus, I’ve lost my umbrella.

DSCN4932

In case you haven’t guessed, I woke up a bit low this morning.

So I made a gratitude list in my journal, and I’ve decided that’s the best thing to share with you today. Here’s an excerpt:

My father being a kind man. My mother, my brother, my sister. My cats. My teal bedroom and the new matching quilt. Avocados. Cookbooks.The Bible. Books!! My drum. Airplanes. Candles. Music. Turtles. Cheese. Cheese pizza. Elephants. Rain forests. Brightly colored frogs. Having health care. The beach. Hummingbirds! Having an African-American president. Lilacs. The scent of vanilla. Fireflies. Stars. Prayer. Tea. Thank you!!

There you have it. I highly recommend the practice of gratitude. How can you be grumpy when you’re pondering brightly colored frogs?

Have an awesome weekend, my friends.

The Scar – A Poem

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I have a scar on the bridge of my nose, straight across.

I don’t see it, but others do.

Especially in the summer, when the slash of skin darkens.

It’s narrow, but long, slightly curved

like the edge of the paint can

my tiny toddler nose encountered

at the bottom of the basement stairs.

One person who always saw the scar,

saw it all his life

was my father

who was supposed to be watching me

when I tumbled

over and over,

down and down.

“We can get that fixed,”

he would say.

“It’s OK,” I would say.

It didn’t bother me

the way it bothered him.

Or maybe I liked that it bothered him.

I used to wonder, was he drinking?

paint-bucket_zy8Lrv_O

In response to today’s word prompt: Scars

Unmasked

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I could have written about Orange Man: how his campaign admits that he is “playing a part” and can easily change roles, how scary it is that millions will undoubtedly fall for whatever persona his bloated but insatiable ego adopts next, how dangerous his particular mental illness is — Narcissism, Borderline Personality Disorder, Sociopathy, Megalomania, whatever. How easily ungrounded people are  manipulated!

But no. Instead I decided to write a Blackjack poem (7 syllables, 3 lines = 21) in response to today’s word prompt: mask.

See? I’m not obsessing about Orange Man at all anymore. Really. Honest.

♥♥♥

Unmasked

Disguise, deceit, masquerade.

Exhausting! I gave it up.

Ask Love who you are; then be.

♥♥♥

When in doubt about how to be who you are, ask a tree

When in doubt about how to be your true self, ask an old tree

 Related posts:

https://melanielynngriffin.wordpress.com/2016/04/19/are-you-faking-it/

https://melanielynngriffin.wordpress.com/2016/04/04/trump-psychopath-or-sociopath/

Election Eve Musings

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ELECTION EVE MUSINGS

I’m voting for Bernie in the Maryland primary tomorrow, and I’m excited about it. Lord knows it’s rare for me to be enthused about a candidate. I doubt I’ll be as enthusiastic come November, but voting for a woman will be huge, even if I’d prefer a more progressive woman — say Elizabeth Warren. Who knows? Maybe Clinton will tap Warren for V.P. It would be a sure way to engage Bernie fans like myself, but I doubt it will happen.

I know my support for Bernie has some of my more “pragmatic” friends bent out of shape. And I found this on my car windshield the other day:

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Whatever — I’m just done with business-as-usual.

I’m sure this post will annoy some Bernie supporters, too. I’m sorry, but the math just doesn’t look good for our guy.

I’ve become somewhat of a cynic in recent decades. I am not hopeful when it comes to the future of the American political system. Too much corporate money in both parties, and it seems elections can’t be won without it.

Still, on a sunny day when the birds are singing and perhaps I’ve had a glass of champagne, I can imagine a day when the right leaders will rise up and organize regular people to overturn this dysfunctional system.

Bernie has started the conversation. He’s definitely pulled Hillary to the left, and some go so far as to say he has “made the Democratic party safe for liberals again.” Maybe. It is great that Hillary mentions climate change and campaign finance reform and even Citizens United, but they aren’t her top priorities and she will swing back to center during the general election. That’s just reality.

Why Not?

On the hopeful side, there are now millions of new voters — including many young people just forming their political consciousness — who have embraced Bernie’s boldness and ask, “Why not?” In Bernie’s stump speeches, I hear an echo of the words of Robert F. Kennedy that formed my own adolescent political consciousness in 1968, “Some men see things as they are and say, why; I dream things that never were and say, why not.”

So I’ll savor the moment tomorrow when I step into the voting booth, punch the Bernie button and think, “Hell yes — THIS!”

Bobby Kennedy, 1963

Bobby Kennedy, 1963

— Kennedy photo from public domain, courtesy Wikimedia

Are You Faking It?

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Everyone knows that everyone else feels like a fake, right? The term Impostor Syndrome has been around almost forty years, and media outlets regularly do stories on it as if it’s just been discovered.

You would think that knowing we’re not alone would help. Yet somehow, having company doesn’t make us feel any less like a fraud. It’s as if we think we are the only genuine fake because we are comparing our insides to everyone else’s outside persona.

 When clinical psychologists described the syndrome in 1978, they thought it was unique to women. My guess is that women were just more willing to talk about it. Now researchers say that all types of people experience this phenomenon, especially if they feel different from others because of race, gender, sexual orientation, or other reasons.

I first became aware of it when a good-looking, successful, middle-aged male told me tearfully that “if people really knew me, they’d know I’m a fake. They wouldn’t like me.” I was stunned and deeply saddened that someone could feel that way.

At age eighteen, I was so out of touch with my own emotions that I didn’t know I felt the same way about myself!

Whatever you do, don't take off your mask!

Whatever you do, don’t take off your mask!

Just Say No to Condemnation

As a church leader, I hear the sentiment expressed over and over, in different words: “I am not good enough.” Always in a confessional or shame-filled tone.

Well, hell, of course you’re not good enough to please the scolding, shaming parental voice in your head! You are a human being, flawed and vulnerable and doing your best to muddle through life.

It’s a horror and a crime that many so-called Christian communities enthusiastically add to the judgmental, condemning voices in our heads. Shame! Sin! You’re going to burn in eternity!

Well, thank you.That was super helpful.

Those condemners are nothing like the God they claim to represent. I can’t know God fully, and neither can they. But I do know that if a voice in your head or a belief about yourself is not loving, it does not come from God, because God is love.

“As Yourself”

When Jesus was asked what the most important commandment was, he said to love God with everything you’ve got. And then he said to love your neighbor as yourself. (Luke 10:27). We are meant to be overflowing with love and compassion and grace towards ourselves.

We must first learn to love ourselves before we can properly love others from a place of healthy humility and self-acceptance. When we accept how beloved we are, just as we are, we won’t need to achieve or perform or prove ourselves. We won’t need to compete or manipulate. We can just be real. Now that’s freedom!

Thanks for the daily prompt of “fake,” WordPress.

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