Tag: personal growth

MOTHER OF THE GROOM

MOTHER OF THE GROOM

mother of the groom cartoonA year ago May, the opportunity arose for me to step into the shoes of the “mother of the groom”. Up until the day I started shopping, I assumed I was too young to play that role! When I began searching for something suitable to wear, I was stymied. Nothing I saw reflected me! They styles were all too old fashioned, too “mother of the bride”, too something my mother would wear!

Clearly I was out of touch with reality.  I was, in fact, ten years older than the bride’s parents! I was the right age for a mother of the groom, and in some cases the grandmother of the groom!  Still, shopping for a dress stirred up a hornet’s nest of conflict. Who was I? Suddenly, a fun and exciting process was morphing into a nightmare of epic proportions, and it was all going on inside of me! (Well, except the part the spilled out on my husband, poor man. I am so blessed.)

EXCITEMENT TURNED TUMULTUOUS

I was blissfully happy and over the top excited about the wedding until the day arrived when I had to decide what to wear, and  I was not loving the unresolved issue  I was facing.  After several tumultuous and agonizing weeks, I began to wake up to the unresolved issues beneath this simple decision. It was not about the choice of a dress at all. (I know you know that!)

Unable to step back from the situation, I could not love the questions and embrace the process of discovery. Instead, I went to war with myself. Precipitated by a family gathering, old conflicts brought my tribal insecurities to the surface. I didn’t like it one bit, but it was exactly what I needed. My goal was to show up as my authentic self, and this is what was required.

So I began to slow things down.  I took time to breathe and meditate, and to live with the unanswered questions.  I let go of my need to know the answers before I even knew the questions. The cause of my conflict slowly rose to the surface.

EXPECTATIONS OF THE MOTHER OF THE GROOM

I was not looking for a dress, I was looking for an expression of my authentic self.  Conflict arose because I was unconsciously trying to live up to the expectations of my childhood tribe. And, they were in conflict with who I am now.  The intensity caught me off guard, but it was a new opportunity for growth and self-actualization.  Even though I believed these issues were resolved, another layer was about to be peeled away.

Choosing a dress for my son’s wedding was a much bigger decision than I understood at first. The decision was a symbolic one, an act of self-expression and an excellent opportunity for me to bring forth another piece of myself.  In order to show up as myself, it was necessary to dispense with any concern I had, both conscious and unconscious, of what I believed others expected of me.  This included, most especially, my big sister and my deceased mother! That’s where the real healing needed to take place.

REDUCE RESISTANCE

Mother of the Groom
Much ado about nothing. . . on the outside!

As I reduced my resistance, the details of the conflict became clearer and my choice of a dress was then a breeze! I knew exactly what I wanted, I just had to let go of all the history that was keeping me locked in indecision. What I chose was not what either my mother or sister would have chosen. It was not what I had perceived initially as appropriate attire for the “mother of the groom”.   What I chose, however, was exactly what I wanted to wear. Poof. The conflict vanished!

I walked out of the store giggling with self-satisfaction, dress slung over my shoulder. I truly did not care what anyone thought of my decision. To me this was proof positive that I had made the right decision and had chosen from the very center of me. It was a lovely feeling and one that continues to bear fruit. Resolving conflicts such as the one that still lived in me prior to this time, doesn’t just make a dress buying decision easier, it gives us back a piece of ourselves. And, it’s ours to keep.

Each time we make a choice from our authentic self we take a step toward inner peace. It is not the absence of problems, but the growing ability to trust the process and our inner guidance with each challenge we face.  Being patient with the process of self-discovery is essential when traveling the path of authentic living. We will never resolve all of our issues, but what we can learn to love the questions and trust the process a little more each day.

Dorothy Sander © 2016

 

WISDOM – WHAT IS IT? #WisdomWednesday

WISDOM – WHAT IS IT? #WisdomWednesday

As a young adult I admired those individuals who emulated wisdom. I read voraciously the words of great writers and teachers who seemed to have an inside tract on the meaning of life. From Kierkegaard, Tillich, C.S. Lewis, Kahlil Gibran, Jesus, Reinhold Niebuhr, Jung, Martin Buber, to Camus, Sartre, Herman Hess, Samuel Beckett, Tolstoy, Solzhenitsyn, Virginia Woolf, I soaked in what I could.  I leaned in hungrily to the words of my professors of philosophy and theology, hoping to find a nugget or two of wisdom that would free me from my suffering. Wisdom . . . a thing I longed for. . . even as it eluded me.

What is wisdom?

Forty five years later, I think I have finally begun to understand the true nature of wisdom. It is not just the gift of insight, although it is that. Nor is it something that shows up on our doorstep, like a Fed Ex delivery. It shows up  in its own time and is something that one recognizes in oneself only in hindsight.

Wisdom
“It’s not what you look at that matters. It’s what you see.” Henry David Thoreau

Wisdom, I believe, is a byproduct of suffering. It is not an award for endurance, although endurance is necessary.  It’s something more. It requires yielding to suffering and allowing it to become our teacher.

Wisdom comes to those who allow the fires of hell to burn down walls of protection in order to see the truth. It does not come to those who insist on wearing masks of denial or pretense. A fundamental ingredient of the wise is the ability to see and speak the Truth regardless of the consequences.

“We can know only that we know nothing. And that is the highest degree of human wisdom.”
Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace   

The wise learn to see themselves and the world through the eyes of truth, not the eyes of their ego.  Wisdom begins to show up precisely when a person sees how much they have left to learn and when they have begun to be willing students of life.  Not a goal to be achieved,  it arrives precisely when one no longer care about being wise.


FINDING HOPE, Quotes for Midlife and Beyond is packed with quotes to guide and support you as you gather wisdom. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed creating it. If so, please leave a review on Amazon and recommend it to a friend! It also makes a great gift for Mother’s Day and special occasions. Thank you, as always, for your support. DS

WHAT BOOKS ARE ON YOUR END TABLE?

WHAT BOOKS ARE ON YOUR END TABLE?

The books we read reflect who we are and what’s important to us. They also represent the cutting edge of who we hope to become.

WHAT BOOKS ARE WAITING NEARBY WHILE YOU’RE BUSY DOING SOMETHING ELSE?

table top books
FINDING HOPE, A Book of Quotes and Inspiration has been reported to have a permanent place on many nightstands. 🙂

This morning as I write, I have beside me an end table. It’s a “modern” 50’s piece my mother purchased for her home back in the day. Without drawers or frills, it’s a style that has come full circle, and still not my idea of beautiful. I  love it because my mother loved it. When I touch it, or polish it, or glance at it, I feel her presence with me.

All scuffed and marred from years of traveling hither and yon, and too many moments of neglect, I toy with the idea of refinishing it. For now, it has a different purpose. It shelves my wish to read or re-read books and the working copies of my own creative endeavors. I keep them close by, like the table, to remind me of what I love and what I yearn toward. This 16″ x 24″ x 36″ space symbolizes the growing edge of me, my intentions and the mystery yet to unfold.

THE LOWER SHELF

A stack of books on the bottom shelf contain a few my favorites and a few more I want to finish.  On the bottom of the pile is a recent edition of American Poet, a wonderful journal of poetry I receive as a member of the Academy of American Poets.  I love poetry, though I don’t spend near enough time writing and reading it.

“A poem begins as a lump in the throat, a sense of wrong, a homesickness, a lovesickness.”
― Robert Frost

Next are a couple of old standbys and a few new ones:

Stack of booksSIMPLE ABUNDANCE, A Daybook of Comfort and Joy, by Sarah Ban Breathnach – Is it ever possible to get too much of this gem? If you don’t have a copy, get one. The next thing you know you’ll be buying one for a friend.

DEFY GRAVITY, Healing Beyond the Bounds of Reason by Caroline Myss – A synthesis the writers lifetime of work and writing as a medical intuitive, Myss shows how she sees healing, not just a physical process, but as one that requires transcending reason. She believes, in fact, that healing is a mystical phenomenon.

THE LIFE CHANGING MAGIC OF TIDYING UP – I am forever hopeful. It is a great book and has helped me pare down and simplify my life, even if it’s still a work in progress!

MY LIFE STORY SO FAR, A journal of personal history, unforgettable people, and the details — big or small — that have shaped my life. My sweet, sweet, daughter-in-law gave me this journal for Christmas this year. She knows me already. I most definitely did not lose a son. I gained a daughter, something I always wanted.

WRITING CREATIVELY & WRITING UP A STORM (Two versions of the same book) by Celia Leaman, a writing instructor become friend. This gem is packed full of need-to-know information on the practical matters of writing. Her British wit and humor turns some very dull topics into a delightful read.  I turn to her books whenever I want to work on my craft.

LEARNING TO WALK IN THE DARK by Barbara Brown Taylor –  Taylor’s book is the next book I intend to read as part of my daily reflective reading (Lectio Divina*) practice. I will say more about it after I’ve read it!

THE TABLE TOP

Two books on top of my armchair table, books my mother never had the opportunity to read. Mine. She knew I wanted to write, and saved everything I ever wrote to her, but it wasn’t until her last days that I found the courage to go beyond the random poem or journal entry. The first piece published was about my family’s struggle to manage her care. I didn’t share it with her because I didn’t want her to know our difficulties.

She would be proud of my meager attempts. She always saw the best in me, though she couldn’t begin to understand my struggles. I believe, however, that her ability to see the best in everyone provided the cornerstone of hope in my own life.

My books are still a work in progress. I see their flaws and find it difficult to set them free. I understand this is a writer’s affliction. I’m most content with Finding Hope, though I still want to re-write the first few essays. As for Midlife Pathways? I want to trash it and start over. I keep it in view to keep me honest and I make notes in it from time to time.

The question remains: WHAT BOOKS ARE ON YOUR  END TABLE? What do they say about the cutting edge of who you are and what you yearn toward?


(Look closely at the stack of books in the picture and you will see a bookmark in each. A gift from a friend, I received these bookmarks in a freshly printed copy of her new book Note to Self, A Seven-Step Path to Gratitude and Growth.  Laurie Buchanan’s book is a great read! You also owe it to yourself to pay a visit to her website and read her blog. Tuesdays with Laurie. Each Tuesday, without fail, she gives her readers something to think about.

*”Lectio Divina”, a Latin term, that means “divine or sacred reading”. A traditional Benedictine practice of scriptural reading, meditation and prayer. It the broadest sense, it is a practice of reflective reading whereby one reads inspirational literature with an open mind , heart and spirit with the intention to listen, hear and experience a closer connection with Spirit. 

CHANGE IS IN THE AIR

CHANGE IS IN THE AIR

Change happens. What we do in response to it, how we handle the emotional fallout, is often more important than the event itself.

Before Thanksgiving, my husband loaned his “project” car, a 1990 Jeep Wrangler, to his nephew.  Scott, being the endlessly generous man that I married, offered it up easily. Intuition suggested to me that it wasn’t the best idea in the world. I kept my thoughts to myself. People change. Right?

A MECHANICAL WORK OF ART!

Scott's JeepThe Jeep was my husband’s baby, his pride and joy. It has been his one and only creative outlet and escape from life’s weighty responsibilities over the last three years. In that time, he turned it from a well worn vehicle into a gorgeous piece of mechanical art! (At least that’s how he sees it.) Fresh paint and replaced parts, it was the inspiration for birthday and Christmas gifts from the whole family. On nice days, he’d take it here and there, just for the sheer pleasure of driving it. Otherwise it sat in the driveway for him to admire and work on on nice days.

Scott’s generosity swung around and bit him in the butt. Leaving the parking lot after work, Nephew flew around a blind corner at a high rate of speed and T-boned a truck parked in the lane. All parties involved were fine. The Jeep? Totaled. To make matters worse, we found out about it, 10 days after the fact, from our insurance agent.

CHANGE MOVES IN AND SETS UP SHOP

In a flash, “change” moved in and set up shop. Our plans for the day were lost to emotional turmoil and endless phone calls. When we woke up that morning we had no idea that such an occurrence would take over our week before Christmas.

As I listened to my husband’s end of the conversation with the insurance agent, I knew exactly what had happened and I was spitting nails angry.  It was not a surprise to me. Forty one years old and notoriously irresponsible, the flashes that he was growing up swayed Scott more than they did me. The adrenaline started pumping through my veins like  Shanghai Maglev.  I made the bed, did a load of laundry and washed the dishes in the five minutes he was on the phone.

Scott’s response? Total self-control. He dove straight into his head, pushed his feelings as far away as possible, and started a to do list in his head. I knew he was heartbroken and angry, and I knew in time he’d wake up to his feelings. He was not, however, ready to face the onslaught just yet.

He hung up the phone and decisions lined up awaiting navigation. On the surface, the decisions involved dollars and cents and boiled down to how we could recover the loss financially.

The underlying choices, however, would determine the long term fallout and the ability of those involved to learn from the experience and move on.

NAVIGATING CHANGE

The love of old vehicles runs in the family! My son’s purple VW is behind Scott!

This event was did not create serious life altering change, but it carried with it many of the components necessary to learn, or practice, dozens of life’s lessons. Change is like that. It shuffles the deck, deals, and then waits for us to play our hand.

My biggest challenge was navigating my anger. I was only indirectly affected and so my path was somewhat nebulous. My anger was not. I was hurting for my husband and suffering his loss, even while he was largely unaware of it. I knew it would come home to him in time, but for me it was immediate and present.

Unexpressed anger is a slow burn. It can lead to depression, illness and a growing sense of powerlessness. It sucks the life right out of us and leaves us wide open for future difficulties. Inappropriately expressed anger damages relationships and innocent people. It spills out in passive aggression, sarcasm, irritability, without diminishing the initial anger.

ANGER IS NORMAL

Anger is a normal healthy response. Allowing it, owning it and finding an appropriate way to put it to good use is the challenge. Anger helps us protect ourselves and set boundaries.  When anger arises, if we take time to experience it fully, it will direct us to the issues that need to be addressed. If it doesn’t call for an immediate response, it is best to let allow the adrenaline rush to dissipate enough to recover rational thought. We perceive things differently in the heat of the moment.

PROCESSING ANGER

As I sat with my anger, the following thoughts and feelings arose.

  • How irresponsible! (I value personal responsibility in myself and in those I keep close to me.)
  • How self-centered! (I value thoughtfulness and caring that goes beyond what is in it for me.)
  • How disrespectful! (Scott is deserving of respect from the nephew he practically raised. Inherent in this is appreciation and gratitude.)
  • Fear. Will Scott set his own boundaries? Will he take appropriate action, or will he sublimate his anger and let Nephew off the hook. This always comes back to bite us both.

The action I took:

  • I decided to share some of my thoughts with Nephew. In other words, I told him directly that he had better man up, take responsibility for his actions, and make it right. When he gave me the runaround, not unexpected, I called him back to responsibility and then let it go.
  • Then I through my support behind my husband. I listened and I encouraged him to hold Nephew responsible, but to take control of how things played out with regard the vehicle. In other words, to do what was best for him, not Nephew.

DISSIPATING ANGER

My anger has dissipated. I’m over it. As for my husband, he’s navigating his part of the equation in his own time and way. He has the more challenging obstacles to overcome, but he’s holding his own. His loss is eking out in bits and pieces. It will take time and he’s learning every step of the way because he’s holding the experience loosely.

“Letting go gives us freedom, and freedom is the only condition for happiness. If, in our heart, we still cling to anything – anger, anxiety, or possessions – we cannot be free.”
― Thich Nhat Hanh, The Heart of the Buddha:Transforming Suffering into Peace, Joy and Liberation

We get into problems with change and anger when we hold on too tight. When we try to make things happen, force the issue, fix the problem now we operate in a reactive state. We’re wrapped up in our emotions and unable to see the bigger picture. Taking time to breathe and slow down the process results in better decisions and less lingering discomfort.

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Truth ~ What Are We Fighting For?

Truth ~ What Are We Fighting For?

The value of truth seems to have lost its influence. 

The world keeps turning. I get up in the morning to the sun, and go to bed each night with the moon and the stars shining their light on my broken heart. The world is a “hot mess” as my young millennial friends would say.

Navigating life now is not an easy task! Walking the medial way, with one foot in the world and one foot in Spirit, isn’t easy to do under “normal” circumstances!  Now, it feels impossible, and yet it is certainly an excellent opportunity to practice! I, like many I talk to, long for simpler times.

SPEAKING THE TRUTH AS I SEE IT

What is the Truth?
I woke up this morning feeling exactly like Alice in Wonderland. ART BY: David Hoffrichter

I keep choosing, every day, to speak the truth as I see it; to ask the questions, explore the answers, look for what lies beneath the surface of things. Even as I try to be kind about it, not attacking or name calling, my words seem to cause sparks to fly.  People rant at me and call me names.

In the past week, I was called a bigot, a pseudo-intellectual, an irrational feminist, and a few other choices names I’d rather not repeat here.  The nastiest, meanest comments came from men, who I previously believed were highly rational, intelligent, educated men. The comments I received from women were angry and upset, more aimed at the belief that I should be taking about the politics on an aging site, nor should I take sides. I weigh this question constantly.

“JUST GET ALONG!”

The most common concern I’ve heard from women has been, “don’t you think you should play nice and just accept what is happening?” To this I say, yes and no.

Nothing infuriates me more than the part of our culture that wants us to get on board with the status quo. What we are experiencing right now IS NOT NORMAL. It is not business as usual, and I won’t pretend it is. I protested in the 60’s and my values with regard to peace, love and acceptance remain the same. I’ve never been a fan of the establishment, but this is going too far!

NAME CALLING HURTS!

It hurts being attacked.  Conflicting feelings rise to the surface, adrenaline pumps through my body and I’m suddenly in fight or flight mode. I want to lash out, and with my weapon of choice write an epistle explaining exactly how and why I am not what they say I am.  When I realize that more conversation would be pointless, I sink into despair. What am I to do with all these feelings now?

ASK THE HARD QUESTIONS

I have no choice but to go inside myself and ask the hard question. Are they right? Do their labels fit?

Am I a pseudo-intellectual?  I’ve never thought of my self as an intellectual, so that one was lost on me as a true reflection of myself. However, by asking the question I began to see the perpetrators projection. The particular label came from a man who, even at 16, took abundant pride in his intelligence. He believed his intellectual abilities made him superior. Sadly, all these years later when we reconnected I discovered that he has not grown past his arrogant, narcissist ways. He still needs to be intellectually superior, and when he feels threatened, he does what all great thinkers do, call people names.  I told him he was behaving exactly like the President-Elect, which he was. He didn’t like that a bit and unfriended me. I now consider it a victory to have stirred that particular pot!

A bigot – that one got me.  A bigot is “a person who is intolerant toward those holding different opinions” – this coming from a man who unfriended me because he didn’t like what I was saying on Facebook. Am I a bigot? We all have our blind spots so I’d have to say yes, I’m intolerant toward some who hold different opinions. Our president-elect would be one of them. Trust me, I am working on this. I long to find a place of acceptance that does not mean acquiescence.  Right now, I can’t see the divine in this man just yet. In fact, I tend to think he’s evil incarnate and see it as my job to speak out against him.

COMPASSION FOR ALL WHO HAVE BEEN & WILL BE DISAPPOINTED

Beyond that, I have deep compassion for the people who elected him believing he would change their unhappy lives. I have less compassion for the meanness and hatred that a few carry and choose present to the world. I want to say, show me your misery, this I can understand. But anger, rage, hubris, entitlement? And yet, tolerance is tolerance. I’m working on it.

Here’s what I do know. The women before us modeled tolerance and acceptance as a virtue, and to some extent it is.  They did not feel free, however, to rebel or speak up when perhaps they should have.  We feel freer to do so, and yet the past that lives on in us often keeps us feeling guilty and wrong when we do.

Making nice is not always possible, nor is it human. We have a wide array of thoughts, feelings and reactions. it is to our detriment to keep them buried. They will erupt when we least expect them to and it won’t be pretty.

THERE IS A TIME & A SEASON

There’s a time to fight and a time to stand down. There’s a time to speak and a time to be silent. We must each in our own way and find a balance between speaking our truth and taking time for deep reflection. None of us are totally clear on what we are fighting for. Those who are, seem to be fighting one particular battle. Maybe that’s the best any of us can do.

We must continue to ask ourselves challenging questions:

  • What am I really angry about?
  • Are there unacknowledged feelings and thoughts beneath my anger? Are the thoughts I’m thinking true?
  • This feeling of fear, what is it really trying to tell me?
  • When have I felt powerless before? How was that similar to what’s happening now?
  • Is this situation triggering feelings I’ve had all my life?
  • What are those feelings?
  • Can I be proactive in giving myself what it is I want from others?
  • Have I taken time to sit in silence?
  • Have I expressed my feelings honestly?
  • When I speak my truth am I using “I” statements?
As I navigate these strange times, I take comfort from the wisdom of great teachers.

“Wholeness is possible only through the coexistence of opposites. In order to know the light, we must experience the dark.” ~ Carl Jung, Memories, Dreams and Reflections

“Always go with the choice that scares you the most, because that is the one that is going to help you grow.” ~ Caroline Myss, Defying Gravity

“The beginning of love is the will to let those we love be perfectly themselves, the resolution not to twist them to fit our own image. If in loving them we do not love what they are, but only their potential likeness to ourselves, then we do not love them: we only love the reflection of ourselves we find in them”
Thomas Merton, No Man Is an Island

“If you have never been called a defiant, incorrigible, impossible woman. . .have faith. . . there is yet time.” ~ Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estés

“Doubt is not the opposite of faith; it is one element of faith.” ~ Paul Tillich, The Courage to Be

“We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.” ~ Elie Wiesel, Author of Night, Winner of the Nobel Peace Prize
“The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference.” ~ Elie Wiesel
“There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest.” ~ Elie Wiesel

How to Be Authentic and the Mother-of-the-Groom

How to Be Authentic and the Mother-of-the-Groom

Authenticity
Carnaval de Venise, Carnevale de Venezia, Venice Carnival Photo by David Pin on FlickrBeing authentic.

BEING AUTHENTIC.

Have you ever stopped to ask yourself what this really means for you? A thousand times each day, with each action, decision, choice or lack thereof that we make, we are called upon somewhere deep inside of ourselves to show up authentically. It’s an energetic, biochemical necessity. Research keeps supporting what many spiritual teachers and healers have known for eons and that is that if we are living a lie our body is going to reveal its dissatisfaction through illness, discomfort or worse.

When we act from a place that is not in alignment with our heart we experience stress in one way or another. It takes effort to live in confusion and it is exhausting. We may experience it as depression or anxiety or actual illness. We may become irritable, angry or confused. Decisions are hard to make and nothing feels right.

I have been in the process of shopping for a dress to wear to my son’s wedding in May. You’d think that would be reasonably doable. Every other woman I know who is attending the wedding has already happily purchased their attire. I find that almost comical! I’ve gone to numerous stores in the area and shopped online until my eyes crossed. Nothing. I’m down to two weeks.

This may appear to be a rather mundane example, but my confusion and disconnect from yet another part of me, is simply another step in my healing and growth process; in my search for my authentic self. It’s also evidence that I”m not quite there yet! 🙂 I have gone through enormous changes over the last decade – enormous interior changes. I am much more in touch with who I am than I was at fifty … or even sixty. What I am facing now in this superficial decision of what to wear to my son’s wedding, is a continuation of my attempt to bring forth the real me in external form. I want to wear something that reflects who I am now, for myself … not anyone else.  Nothing I have found so far does that. What started out as a very unconscious struggle – frustration with my choices and endless shopping – is now coming to the surface in a deeper understanding of the nature of my growing, evolving self.  I have kept my true self buried for so long, have dressed it in a thousand masks, that the excavation has taken numerous iterations and now this is one more.

[tweetthis]”The most confused we ever get is when we try to convince our heads of something our hearts know is a lie” Karen Marie Moning..[/tweetthis]

When I step back from my ridiculous, over-analytical, crazed self in this moment I realize how internal this struggle really is. In those moments when I can get outside of myself I just have to laugh and think, wow, this really isn’t all that important! True. It is not. My son’s happiness on that day is what’s important. My showing up is what’s important. I know that and I have great confidence that I will show up in whatever form it takes as a proud, excited, loving Mom and I will forget all this pre-wedding chaos. In the meantime, I have to take on this conflict as it presents itself and learn what I can about myself in the process. Finding the truth, finding our truth is never easy, but it’s always worth it.

Have you had a recent experience where your mind was telling you to do something your heart didn’t want to do?

Authenticity