Month: February 2016



Grammys 2016I tried to watch the Grammys last night. I was hopeful. I like all kinds of music and there are many young up and comings that I listen to on a regular basis. My youngest son keeps me in the loop. He lives in Kansas City which you may or may not know has a happening music scene. It’s a hot spot for Indy bands and my son was born with music running through his veins.

I looked forward to the Grammys this year because I love Adele

and even though I knew she wouldn’t sing Rolling In the Deep, I was looking forward to her performance of her latest hit. I also wanted to hear Lady Gaga’s tribute to David Bowie, and the Eagles of course. It was a disappointment, and I lost all patience when Adele’s performance went south. I felt for her. I was very sure it wasn’t her fault. I just kept wishing they’d stop and start over instead of muddling through. It was painful.

Her response? “Sh… happens!” I wondered if she was just taking the high road, or was really that nonplussed about it. Not a bad attitude to have of course, because she’s absolutely right. How difficult that must have been for her, probably as difficult as it was for us to listen to it…not to mention disappointing. All I could think of was, “do-over, please”. For both of us.

Yet, life goes on, even when it comes to the Grammys. We don’t get do-overs. Rarely at least, and even if we do get a second chance of some sort, previous failures and disappointments rumble in the background of our psyche and we feel tentative and uncertain when we try again or we compensate by striving for perfection.

Like a rock carried along by a river’s current,  we too are carried through life by the force of time. Sometimes it’s a fast, smooth ride. At other times we encounter obstacles that push us to one side or crack us wide open. We find ourselves in pieces or stuck, unable to get back in the flow.

It takes help to get rolling again when this happens. We need a friend to pick us up and help us find our way again, or a new understanding, a new awareness, an epiphany.  It takes courage and decision to find the rock solid core of who we are so that we can get back into the stream of life.

When we’ve been in the stream for a while, rolling along, we become like the rocks I found in Monument Valley last September, all round and soft.  The movement through time smooths our surfaces and rounds our edges and in this state we are more resistant to breakage, more resilient and at ease rolling in the deeper waters of life. Adele knows something of this process. Even though she is young, much younger than you or I, she’s an old soul who is growing up fast…faster than most of us have had to do. Her flip response may be real, or it may be a mask to protect herself. Either way, her response was a good one. She’s developed some resilience. She has a sense of humor about herself and is willing not to take things that are out of one’s control too seriously.

smooth rocksWhat’s the take away? What can we learn from Adelle’s experience with the Grammys this year? For me, it’s learning the value in taking a step back when life throws us a curve, and to  remember that nothing is perfect…as Wayne Dyer liked to remind us “no thing” is perfect.  There is also value in making it a practice to interact with life, like we are a rock rolling down with a river. It’s not always possible to grab on to the shore, to something solid in life, but it is possible to learn to trust the journey and understand the process – to see life as a process, one that smooths our edges and strengthens our core self. We may not be able to see ahead through the muddy waters, but we can trust that we are a part of something bigger and grander and most assuredly an essential part of the whole.

[tweetthis]It is time to stop wishing, worrying, planning, hoping and dreaming our lives away.[/tweetthis]


FINDING HER HERE, by Jane Relaford Brown – A Poem on Aging

FINDING HER HERE, by Jane Relaford Brown – A Poem on Aging

A ran across this poem – Finding Her Here – the other day and wanted to share it with you. It sums up so beautifully what so many of us are experiencing as we accumulate years. I hope you enjoy it! DS

FINDING HER HERE  by Jayne Relaford Brown

I am becoming the woman I’ve wanted,
grey at the temples,
soft body, delighted,
cracked up by life
with a laugh that’s known bitter,
but, past it, got better,
knows she’s a survivor—
that whatever comes,
she can outlast it.
I am becoming a deep
         weathered basket.
I am becoming the woman I’ve longed for,
the motherly lover
with arms strong and tender,
the growing-up daughter
who blushes surprises.
I am becoming full moons
        and sunrises.
I find her becoming,
this woman I’ve wanted,
who knows she’ll encompass,
who knows she’s sufficient,
knows where she’s going
and travels with passion.
Who remembers she’s precious,
yet not at all scarce—
who knows she is plenty,
        plenty to share.
This poem is from the author’s book of poems:
My First Real Tree – a 68 page paperback, hand-sewn, with flat spine – $14.00 available for purchase on the publisher’s website, 
Jayne Relaford Brown received an MFA in Creative Writing from San Diego
State University and teaches writing at Penn State Berks-Lehigh Valley
College.  She lives near Kutztown, Pennsylvania with her partner of fifteen
midlife poem
Mask of Perception – When Things Aren’t What They Seem

Mask of Perception – When Things Aren’t What They Seem

the ask of perceptionWhat We Think Is True May not be True – Our Mask of Perception may be shielding us from the truth.

The other day I received a text from a friend. I read it through and responded. I was watching the news at the time, and not paying as close attention to the interaction as I might have done. It was an ordinary conversation among friends, the sharing of thoughts and ideas, concerns and the offering of support; not overly serious, but certainly not a casual how’s the weather conversation. We have them often. Something bothered me about the way things ended, but I didn’t think much of it at the time. I was tired and went to bed.

The next morning I pulled up the text exchange and read through it again. I wanted to make sure I got the conversation straight and see if my perception of what had taken place was different after a good night’s sleep. I was shocked to discover that I had missed an entire paragraph, and in that paragraph my friend had shared the news that her twenty-five year old daughter had checked herself into the hospital psych ward.  It was by far the most important paragraph in the entire exchange, and I had missed it! No wonder I was picking up vibes!

The blood drained from my face. The sudden awareness that I had been so intent upon composing my messages to her while half of my attention was elsewhere woke me up as if I’d been in a trance. The fact is, I had been. I had been in my world, in my perception of reality and only very marginally connected to hers. Texting is particularly prone to this pitfall, but we do it all the time, even when we are in a face to face conversation. 

I actually for a moment wondered if that paragraph had somehow come through later.  Ridiculous, right?  I re-read my words, now that I had the whole story, and was horrified to feel how insensitive, uncaring and self-centered they were.  I had never even responded to her primary concern. It was horrible. It was inexcusable. It was human. I am so very human. The older I get the more I do my best not to expect otherwise. This breach of attention had cost something I value deeply, my friends feelings. 

I quickly texted an apology to my friend. I would have called by I knew she would not be available to answer the phone. I expressed my real concern for her son and compassion for her heartbreak as her Mom. She is a forgiving person and didn’t hesitate to accept my apology, but I can’t help but wonder how long the sting of my apparent indifference will linger in her mind. I know it will stay with me and I will be more attentive when texting and in all interpersonal communications in the future. I will continue to question my perceptions, trust my intuition and to work at being more fully present with those with whom I come in contact. 


The exchange with my friend is a perfect example of how our perceptions influence our understanding of others.  Our perception of their viewpoint and our understanding of their words passes through the filters we have in place. Those things that mask and alter our perception of reality may be simply things that we allow to distract our attention, but they can also be perceptual masks that have been in place since childhood.   We are unable to take in what is actually being said. Like the old telephone game we used to play as kids, the message is garbled by the time it is received.  It is these perceptual masks, those that we are unaware of, that do the most damage to our relationships.  

Perceptual masks that were put in place in childhood as a self-protective device are the hardest to remove. As we attempted to cope with hurts, slights, traumas and unresolved issues that we were ill-equipped to cope with, we put on blinders, built walls around ourselves and re-created reality. The most insidious masks are the ones that we believe now to be “who we are”. Research has shown that victims of verbal abuse are often triggered by a single word, or an everyday occurrence. If, for example, a person’s father screamed at them throughout childhood,  “Why did you do such and such??!!!”, using a menacing and threatening tone of voice and getting in the child’s face. The attack always began with the word “why” and was followed by a verbal or physical lashing. Would it not be understandable that in adulthood, the word “why” would become a trigger word for this individual?  Later, the individual’s husband comes home from work and says, “honey, why did you leave the car on the street?” His reason for asking was simple. He was trying to be helpful. He wanted more information, to know whether or not his wife was going back out. He wanted to help her by putting the car back garage if she was going to be home for the evening. The “why” trigger word evoked an angry, accusatory response from his wife and she was drawn into the grip of a defensive rage. A kind gesture offer turned into a nightmare of back and forth exchanges that went nowhere.

The experience where a trigger originates need not be to the level of abuse for it to be carried forward into present time re-activity.  It only needs to be a present moment situation that is similar to an emotionally charged past event. The first clue to a trigger is a reactive response. The minute our hackles go up and we feel anger, shame, or a desire to run and hide, chances are we have been triggered. Getting curious about our response and taking the time to stop see if we can discover the original experience helps us to dissipate its present day power over us.  It’s not easy, but it’s worth it, particularly in charged relationships.  The more we can stay fully present in each moment, the healthier and deeper our relationship to ourselves and others can become.

What my friend heard in my response was entirely different from the actual truth. While unpleasant, it was a valuable reminder for me and I hope of some use to you.

Quote by D Sander, the mask of perception