Beauty Sings Above The Pain

I found a poem I’d written two years ago, wobbly and foggy headed.  Written from hospital bed high above the Seattle skyline.  The surgeon had taken my thyroid, then a second surgery on heels of the first to stop an angry hemorrhage.  Had a hard time stabilizing, and with day six of yet another bed-bound meal of jello and broth when it soaked in how good my life really was.  Here’s to all of you out there struggling along, with an occasional patch of sunbeams and color peeking through the grey.

Jello red it shines
in Pudding bowl and waiting
And chicken broth a golden hot that warms me

All IV places swelling, bruised
Electric shocks into my hands
The wound from surgery still pains
And pressured chest from walking

But still red jello shines
The golden broth it warms
And beauty sings above the pain,
A song about my life.

Her eyes they brown as chocolate brown
A smile wide and joyful
His careful placing of the cuff
and working on the details
Raw I feel and wobbly
Too many days no shower

But still I see
Eyes bright and kind
One working on the details
And beauty sings above the pain.
A song about my life

Not Wanted

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“I’m not wanted.”  I can say the words and blood, it rushes fast toward face, fills with heat burn.  Hot tension, pounding the words into the shame place of flesh.  “Not Wanted.”  Salt tears sting eyes at the rawness of the thing.  Chest tightens.  Heart blasting beats to the rhythm of rejection.  “Not wanted.”  A cut deeper than not liked, not needed, not appreciated.  Words that gnarl more than ugly and stupid. 

To be wanted is to be wished for.  A wish come true by just being, as is.  It’s the best thing in the world to be wanted.  Hoped for.  Dreamed of.  Which is why being not wanted gouges into flesh and leaves us immobile and self loathing.  It’s as if we decide to take up the rejection, right along with the one who doesn’t want me.  I don’t want me either.  The place where self hate, cutting, shooting up, hiding, and suicide resides.  Not all self loathing and suicide of course, but some.   

“Not wanted.”  We’re ok to say it to each other in rather benign ways.  “I need my space.”  “No offense, it’s just that you’re not my type.”  “Let’s ditch um, we could use a break.”  Sometimes we call it self-care, sometimes boundaries, when really what is being acted out is rejection and walls.  We invite people to our celebrations that make us larger than life, and if we are honest, we will admit to ourselves that the people on the fringes of our lives are not wanted.  I don’t want them, and neither do you.  And when I’m on the fridge, holding on best I can, but my dignity has gone in exchange for just getting through another day, I don’t want me either. 

The idea of being wanted is most strongly associated with a discussion about family planning. Wanting.  Wanting a baby.  Choosing.  And how much choosing do we really do, in our wanting.  At the mercy, we are, of what arrives.  And then if what has come is not what we want, distance is served.  Pain is felt down to the marrow, and lasts a lifetime.  Felt by the one who wanted and and was left wanting, and by the one who arrives but has not adequately filled the order.  Wants a boy and gets a girl.  Wants a violin player and gets a cement man.  Wants a cowgirl and gets a princess.  Wants a live baby to hold and instead has to hand off, already gone away to Heaven. 

Belonging and being desired is such at the core of our being, that when we aren’t we crack.  Then why do we do it to each other?  Give a cold shoulder.   Sneer.  Shame.  Do all we can to let others know they aren’t wanted.  Kids do it naturally.  “Kids are mean”, we say, and it’s true.  So quite naturally we become rejectors.  And God shows us another way. He shows us what it’s like to feel planned for, sought out, wanted, desired.  Created special for a purpose.  To be seen and treasured.   

Psalm 139

For the director of music. Of David. A psalm.

1 You have searched me, Lord,

    and you know me.

2 You know when I sit and when I rise;

    you perceive my thoughts from afar.

3 You discern my going out and my lying down;

    you are familiar with all my ways.

4 Before a word is on my tongue

    you, Lord, know it completely.

5 You hem me in behind and before,

    and you lay your hand upon me.

6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,

    too lofty for me to attain.

7 Where can I go from your Spirit?

    Where can I flee from your presence?

8 If I go up to the heavens, you are there;

    if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.

9 If I rise on the wings of the dawn,

    if I settle on the far side of the sea,

10 even there your hand will guide me,

    your right hand will hold me fast.

11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me

    and the light become night around me,”

12 even the darkness will not be dark to you;

    the night will shine like the day,

    for darkness is as light to you.

13 For you created my inmost being;

    you knit me together in my mother’s womb.

14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;

    your works are wonderful,

    I know that full well.

15 My frame was not hidden from you

    when I was made in the secret place,

    when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.

16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;

    all the days ordained for me were written in your book

    before one of them came to be.

17 How precious to me are your thoughts,[a] God!

    How vast is the sum of them!

18 Were I to count them,

    they would outnumber the grains of sand—

    when I awake, I am still with you.

If I don’t want you just right, God does.  I want to want you, beautiful you.  Want to want your company.  Want to desire your friendship.  Want to love your presence.  Even when I can’t always feel these ways towards you because I’m a broken human, I ask God to use my friendship with you to give you the gift of wanted.  I matter to God, no matter how you treat me, and so do you.  And want you to feel it.  Wanted.  Forever.  Just what is wished for.  Just right.  Settled.  Love-breath upon wished-for heart.  Just right. And I settle into a love for rejecting you, as I know what it is to be limited in my abilities to want. 

Ugly Duckling and God

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To mock me is to mock God, for I am God Art.
To mock you is to shun what God has thought up, and formed, breathed into and had high hopes for.
To mock is to set myself as an equal with God.
I will not do that arrogant thing.
I will notice the beauty in me.
The loveliness and intrigue in you.
And when I do, I glance at God.
God Art.
God Offspring.
It is God who causes us to belong to each other.

Mops and Dirt

A special mop has come into my life.  Such happiness.  A mop able to bolt me out of bed, race me toward kitchen floor for one more scrubbing.  Fan turned to high to erase all evidence before giant feet, medium sized feet, little feet and a pair of paws arrive for one more day of mess making.1004513_10152108847809307_93194406_n  Granted, this mop has special powers.  It comes with built in bucket elongated the length of the handle, a tank of mixture (oxiclean,bleach and water). No need to fill a sink for dipping mop into.  I have a mop camelback of sorts, with a squirt function just above the mop pad which, by the way is velcro like, and removable!

I hate a sticky floor, and for some reason I have never been able to keep it straight for any length of time.  My reasons are many.  Good reasons such as our kids are hungry 75 times a day rather than the mythical 3. Lets see.  There’s the tap shoes that can be used only on the tile, and don’t you realize that floor tapping is so much more fun while using the hula hoop that accidently crashes into the dogs dish!  Just when I’m asking a certain Little Miss to clean it up, the doorbell rings and her long lost neighbor who she hasn’t seen for 3 whole days is bouncing up and down screaming right along her in celebration of finally seeing each other again.  How can I ever stop such sheer happiness, and so I lean down to scoop up dog food while below in the yard they are bounding, racing, jabbering just because they’re together.  In the middle of that task I think to myself, I’d better mop, too. Heading to the pantry where I keep the mop, I remember a niece in bootcamp I haven’t written to in a week or two, and I know if I don’t stop everything I’m doing right now and get it done, it won’t happen for months.  Sitting down at kitchen table, I tell her about swim team for one cousin.  The fish he caught on vacation.  The lawn mowing business he works at.  I tell her about another cousin of hers working at Olive Garden, singing Gershwin with me last night, just for the fun. Tell her of the adventures of Little Miss.  Forts built, the cooking, the reading skills she’s acquiring.  I tell her tales of work life at Boeing for Uncle.  The walks I take with clients.    Address on envelope, stamp intact, I better take this to box or it will never be sent.

Oh no, it’s time to feed the kids again.  

And so it goes, until the whole day through is consumed with ways of ruining my floor. Happy sticky floors.  By time the mess makers of all sizes are tucked into bed I can hardly take a step.  But try, I do, to sweep and mop, for starting tomorrow out really nice, with feet bare stepping across unscathed soft surface.  And as I stirr early morning, house mostly quiet but for husbands noising sleep-breathing, a ticking clock beside my bed, I just can’t help myself.  Makes not a bit of sense at all.  The floors have not been touched since I mopped them last.  Still, I think one more sweep and mop will do no harm toward the cause.  Stealthy sneaking out of cotton sheets, through bedroom door, down the stairs to kitchen floor, I sweep and mop, frizzled hair a-flying, fast I work.  The last edge swiped up, the fan now on, I hear feet on the floor.  It will be dry by the time toes arrive.   Yeah!!!  I did it.

 

The Id of Prime: How to Prevent Destroying the Best Years of Your Life

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It’s a familiar pattern.  Man at the top of his game at work, making the most he will ever make, married to the most beautiful adoring wife, envy of us all decides it’s time to engage in a seedy fling, starts shooting up, embezzles money at work.  Beautiful woman happily married, finding success at work, finally a publishing a book, living in a community of friends who adore her and she decides to have an affair with a teenage druggie down the street, decides to quit work, starts to drink, it’s all over. 

The reasons given are many:

He’s afraid of responsibility 

She wants to sabotage her life because of guilt that it’s going so well

He wasn’t respected enough by his wife 

She could never get over harm done to her as a child 

His testosterone made him do it 

Her hormones were out of whack 

And what I say to that is “Why now?”  Why didn’t his wife’s disrespect cause him to act this way two years ago?  Why didn’t her painful past kick in long ago? His fear of responsibility cause him to steal at work, to use drugs, to cheat before now? 

The safest people in the world seem to be unsure of themselves.  Awkward teenagers, trying to understand where they sit at the table of life.  Young adults struggling to get through college.    People at any age who have not made it in life.  Aging folks who have lost..  Had their heart broken.  Buried a parent.  Been abandoned by a spouse.  Lost a child to drugs.  Lost a job.  Been through bankruptcy.  12 step boot camp en route to sobriety.  These people unsure of life itself seem to be the ones much less apt to do harsh things to others in their journey up the proverbial ladder.  It is my view that the id is most commonly enlarged at prime.  At the place in life where things are going the best.  I am amazing, I will protect this amazing persona of myself, and others better see me this way.  If they don’t I will throw it all away. 

Brene Brown’s research shows that wholehearted people, those people who do the best in life, are the ones who embrace their own vulnerability, and with an authentic style of living, share their real selves with others around them.  Which really is the best antidote to the Id of Prime.  Much different from the need to convince others that I’m OK in my quest to belong, I set out to develop a habitual view on myself starting young that embraces me as flawed and valuable even-though.  When I embrace my flaws, and let you know mine, I am inviting you to own and state yours, and together we can care for each other as imperfect, challenging each other along the way, to garnish strength from the other when I need it, which is all the time. 

When I am in a state of awkward insecurity, why would I be more authentic and vulnerable?  Simply put, in my reaching for answers, I am in the position of teachability.   To be teachable is to be vulnerable.  I am saying there is something you know that I don’t know.  And this makes me much safer than the position of ‘I have all the answers and you should be lucky to be in my presence’. 

The self made culture celebrates the exact opposite of teachability and neediness.  Regardless of how brazen we are to proclaim ‘I’ve got it’, this is not reality.  Like it or not, we are needy.  Consider getting through college.  Say we earn our way through college by getting good grades, 100% scholarship.  Someone in a dark room surrounded by stacks of papers, using red pen, sweat and coffee is also getting you through college.  Someone wearing hairnet and gloves is making food in a cafeteria.  Someone is cleaning the toilet, furnishing toilet paper to the stalls, applying bleach as needed, lysol, elbow-grease.  We are our brothers keepers.  We are not islands. 

Working in an Emergency Room for 19 years, one dynamic showed itself over and over.  Didn’t matter if I was dealing with a brilliant Microsoft manager, a rich elderly banker, a well known pastor or a street drug user.  He or she open and vulnerable over time with some close loved ones was the winner.  Sometimes the ‘professionals’ were the ones in real trouble.  They had face to save, a reputation to maintain.  Would rather crack then look like a mess.  Every human being goes through crisis.  We may think we will skirt crisis by keeping distance,  not ‘bothering’ anyone with our problems.  Eventually we come to the end of ourselves, and those of us who have been real with others are the ones to get better.  On the other hand, isolated we can find ourselves pulled under by relatively small setbacks, because we are lacking skills of teachability, flexibility (able to flex even thought it puts me in a poor light), vulnerability and authenticity.

The id of prime. 

An avoidable destruction of me as I practice:

a heart position of reaching toward learning from someone who knows more then me

practice honestly with myself about my weaknesses and deficits

choose to not fake who I am with you

reject the prideful prison of self protection

These practices set us up for deep abiding relationship, whether it be in marriage, with our kids, in the workplace, with our bodies.  Id of prime that walks away from it all is walking away from pretend.  It’s not walking away from intimacy real and raw and deep. Let the best years of our lives honor The God who knew what I was about and gave the prime of his life for my eternity anyway.

Weight Loss

Summer and Fall 2013 179
The writer and butterfly.

I use to be who I am now

Fat and covered in cellulite

Always hiding sloppy me

I didn’t the match the girl inside

And as I prayed and struggled on

Appeared, one day, just what to do

A friend I’d make

The one I hate

And over time

The change it came

Inch by inch

and

Size by size

I finally matched the girl inside

The years went by

most all was well

And then a cancer came to tare

And ripped the breast from off my chest

And choked my trust

And froze my bounce

And once again the hiding came

I didn’t match the girl inside

And still I prayed and struggled on

Appeared one day just what to do

A friend I’d make

The one I hate

And over time

The change it came

I grew to love

the one breast me

18 months of

all is well

And then a cancer came again

This time to claim

my thyroid gland

And spill around throughout my nodes

And throw my body balance off

I use to be who I am now

Fat and covered in cellulite

And now I know just what to do

A friend I’ll make

The one I hate

And over time

The change it comes

I grow to love

the one breast girl

fat and covered in cellulite

And as I friend away the shame

The outside me

it starts to

match

the girl I’ve always been

The Race of Purple Toes

This past year has felt like running a race in a rainstorm, in deep mud, up a hill with large family on my back, wearing shoes loosing their souls, kind of half way attached and flapping.  It started out with determination.  We had completely rid ourselves of consumer credit debt, and somehow managed to hunt it back down and take it on.  While taking on more shifts than I should have taken on, between the two of us, my husband and I cleared the debt just in time for me to get breast cancer.  Then a year after breast cancer and changing my career for health reasons, our debt doubled as we had two kids in college, and I was diagnosed with cancer again, thyroid this time.

Today my drummer friend stopped by.  We had worked with the same band a few years back.  He had left his music stand behind, and was finally stopping to pick it up.  His booming voice greeted me.  I was able just barely to scratch out his name.  Throat lump, memories of the last time we worked together.  No cancer then, singing jazz standards for the big band he played for.   Singing.  Can’t even speak a solid word.  

Today the sun shines warm, an early springtime day. The kind of day I would have loved to hit the trail with bike and trailer, kids and husband, lunch and water and …. a day to track miles and sweat.  And I walk across the floor, heart races, pains at too fast a movement.  Limbs jiggle, all tone gone, and ache.

Today All Mr. Business is sick.  He’s been fevered.  He lays around listless.  Cheeks pink, eyes glazed, and miserable.  I know the past couple weeks has taken a tole on my kids.  Our dear friends have worked hard to love our children.  Regardless of the loving care from others, the kids stress level and health has been harmed from the angst brought on by my surgery, then the emergency surgery hours after.

In dozens of ways, life is not the same.

And so I paint my toes purple.  That’s the color Little Miss chooses for my toes.  I make a smoothie.  The kids ask for one. I’m the designated smoothie maker, and feel strong enough to stand in the morning kitchen to make sweet and fluffy.  I sit on couch and watch the kids play Sequence and argue over rules.  I visit with my Mom awhile.  And think about what I miss out on when my voice is strong.  When my biking legs are able.  When I can work shift after shift, clocking 60 hours in a week, can hurry scurry about the house to do the the things the kids need of a Momma.  And purple toes get another coat.  A deeper purple.  And the rainstorm race is calming down for now.  I plod with purple toes and give thanks.