Friday, June 22, 2018

History Will Not Be Kind to Trump: Do You See What I See?

I wasn't going to write anything about Trump until I could reach beyond a reactionary response to his divisiveness and black and white thinking.  

But you know, I have to start where I am, as an observer with a counselor background and a keen interest in the American Presidency and history.  I have to process what I see.  And I have seen a lot as have you. 

Do you see what I see?

A friend recently pointed out that President Trump meets every one of the criteria for a Sociopath.    Here are the criteria for a high functioning sociopath:  

High IQ: High functioning sociopaths often have a higher IQ than other sociopaths or people without personality disorders. This helps them plan, manipulate, and exploit others.

Lack of empathy: Difficulty is empathizing with others or understanding the emotional consequences of their actions.

Narcissism: They often have strong self-love and grandiose self-image. This occurs because of low esteem and delusional beliefs.

Charming: Although most sociopaths lack empathy, they are capable of mimicking and manipulating emotions to appear charming and normal

Secretive: A sociopath doesn't feel the need to share intimate details with others unless it is to manipulate.  (Tax returns & business dealings after American banks stopped loaning him $)

Sexually deviant: Since they lack guilt, remorse, and emotional attachments, sociopaths tend to have affairs and engage in the questionable sexual activity. (Goes Without Saying) 

Sensitive to criticism: Despite their lack of empathy, sociopaths desire the approval of others. They feel entitled to admiration and are quick to anger when criticized.

Impulsive behavior: Sociopaths often live in the moment and will do what they feel is needed to reach their immediate goals. (Twitter rants and policy) 

Compulsive lying: Disregarding the truth to make themselves look better or get what they want.
Needing constant stimulation: Sociopaths often get bored easily and need to be actively engaged.

Addictive Behavior: Their compulsive mindset may result in addiction to drugs, alcohol, sex, gambling, or other addictive behaviors. (Twitter, controlling the narrative

Criminal Behavior: Criminal activity associated with sociopaths could include theft, assault, or destruction of property. (Got In trouble in high school and was sent to military school, and you know, waiting patiently for Mueller)

Isn't it amazing how he meets EVERY SINGLE CRITERIA? Although sociopath is not a DSM diagnosis, it parallels very closely to anti-social disorder which is.  He does meet the criteria for Narcissistic Personality too. 

Why does it matter that this label fits?   On a daily basis we see each of these characteristics playing out in destructive ways in our country in hourly breaking news.  Let's begin with the lies.  As of last month, three thousands lies in the last 466 days.  Every politician glosses the truth, but Trump has hit the high of six lies per day, and ones that are easily proven false, yet his followers believe them.  His supporters at the recent Duluth rally were interviewed and believe that the pictures at the border detention center supplied by Trump's own administration are not real.   

It's not only lying, but the constant gaslighting of the American people when things are not going well for him.  As the Russian investigation gets closer and closer to him, he acts out and distracts. This is his brand management style of a reality TV Show Presidency.  When the noose tightens, distract. He changes the narrative and he's exquisitely pathologically good at this. For example, he first began saying there was no Russian collusion which in and of itself is not illegal, but as communication by his team with Russian emissaries was revealed over and over, he began the pivot as did Nixon, that the investigation by his own appointed Justice Department is flawed and conspiracy theories abound. 

This Russian witch hunt currently has 17 indictments, 5 guilty pleas, and one campaign manager currently behind bars because he couldn't stop criminal behavior even with an ankle cuff monitor.  

He will hire only the best people.  

The Russian investigation began not because of a conspiratorial "deep state" but because his own foreign policy adviser, George Papadopoulos, bragged to Australia's British diplomat in a London bar that Russia had dirt on Hilary Clinton.  

He hires only the best people. 

Australian intelligence counterparts then notified our intelligence offices. That is the way ally Intelligence offices work. U.S. Intelligence doesn't work for the benefit of just one narcissistic U.S. President, they work for the safety of the entire country. 

One or two of his very best people happened to already work as pro-Russian agents for countries like the Ukraine and they accidentally forgot to put that on their official work papers and lied to the FBI about it. 

He hires only the best people. 

Back to the sociopathic tendencies.  What matters to him is attention, optics and ratings and most importantly trying to fill a void of self worth that will never be quenched.   


Tony Schwartz is the writer of  "The Art of the Deal," who spent eighteen months daily with Trump. (He massively regrets his role in the writing of this book and creating the persona.)

The real problem, is he doesn't appear to have a soul.  An August 2016 quote about Trump from recently departed Conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer: "He has a shocking absence of elementary decency and of natural empathy for the most profound of human sorrows, parental grief." 

It's hard to watch our democracy being lead by someone who has no empathy, decency and actively stokes division at every turn. It's a true test of our founding father's framework.   In order to watch the news, I have to balance it and listen to historical scholars who say that our founding fathers envisioned this and our democracy will survive. Jon Meacham is one of them. 

Other than the test of our democracy, the reason I'm so intrigued is that I was fooled too.  I never liked Trump because he was too narcissistic, too sexist and too much.  But I actually thought he could possibly be a legit business person. I was fooled by the gold letters on top of some of his buildings until I learned that those are a licensing facade.  He doesn't own the buildings but rather the right to put his name on it.  He's pathologically good at branding. 

But then I learned the details of his business career: dad's money, bankruptcies, lawsuits, cheating small business owners, failed businesses including Atlantic casinos, which led to American banks no longer loaning him money.  Where did he go for funding to stay afloat? Russian oligarchs and anywhere money could be hidden.  You don't play with dirty money and come out clean.  This is why there is no transparency with his tax returns.   Why does one need a fixer like Michael Cohen if you are running your businesses above board?

His business evolved to reality TV.  And our TV President held court in The Apprentice and that facade made him legitimate to some citizens.  He presided in the big chair on a television set that gave the appearance of a strong businessman who said, "You're Fired" but it was... scripted and directed.   In reality, he cannot handle conflict, and has other people fire whomever has crossed him or he sits behind his unsecured phone and fires by Twitter.  

What blew me away was, with his much touted negotiating skills, and with a Republican House and Senate, he couldn't get his version of healthcare passed because he had no version.  He doesn't read, he doesn't know policy or history,  just catch phrases.  It was truly shocking to me what a poor negotiator he actually is.  He's really good at executive orders in front of the camera though.  He can't roll up his sleeves and do the hard work even though he might have a good point.  (See, I give him that he might have some good instincts!)  He's unable to have the hard conversation with our ally leaders in person to reach a mutually beneficial agreement at a summit. That is what negotiating is about.  That is strength.  

It's sad to see it's about optics and show.   He only shows up for the picture op or a parade in his honor.

Whatever you have to say about Obama and your disagreement with his policies, he met with both parties, had meetings and had hard negotiations to pass healthcare.   He is a Christian, he said Merry Christmas and he was born in Hawaii.  Even though it would be okay if he were Muslim because being Muslim does not mean you are a terrorist.  He sat with parents who had lost grade school children to gun violence and wept with them.  Trump does not have that emotional capability.  He threw paper towel rolls in Puerto Rico from behind a table and it was so symbolic of who he is.  Of course, that U.S. territory is still suffering. 

All of the above mentioned sociopathic tendencies are crippling him and has an affect on our country. 

Most recently, the lack of empathy was on full display with his Zero Tolerance family separation border policy which Stephen Miller crafted and Attorney General Sessions stamped.  He started the fire and then put the fire out.   For a day or so, he did see an opportunity to use these terrorized detained immigrant children as hostages for leverage for his wall but then optics got too bad for him.   He has affected children and families who have been so psychologically scarred and whom may never be reunited with their parents.  As of this morning, he drops Immigration impulsively because the optics are bad at the present moment. 

Then people brought little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples rebuked them. Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”

I can't even begin with Sessions using the Bible to justify ripping families apart, just like it  was used to support slavery.  At times I actually feel sorry for Sessions whose policies I deplore. He is Trump's whipping boy because he actually did the ethical action of stepping down from overseeing an investigation that included himself.  But Trump is now torturing him unmercifully because mafioso Don was expecting loyalty from "his" man.  (Trump was expecting a Roy Cohn)  Trump's authoritarian stances and dictator love is quite disconcerting.  It wasn't a joke that he wanted "his" people to stand at attention like Kim Jong Un's people as rocket man presides over a murderous military regime. 

He has extreme black and white thinking. (I spot it, I got it too!) You are either all in or on the complete outs with Trump.  For example, he is incapable of nuances.  He doesn't know how to meet Kim Jong Un and not flatter and fawn all over a murderous dictator.  He could meet with him, be courteous and yet hold a hard line.  I thought the two of them might just be so crazy that something good could come of it.  

Then there is the inconsistency of the "law and order" President.  He is waging Presidential war against his own Justice department to cover his own tracks.   Why would someone with so many questionable financial dealings with funding from dirty money run for the highest office in the land?  He brought this level of investigation on himself.  His narcissism tells him he can get away with it.  And Comey helped him win the Presidency!!  I am not missing that irony. 

A simple fact during the campaign was he told the American people he had no dealings with Russia and all along, his business associates were trying to build a Trump Tower there.  He learned to lie this masterfully from Joe McCarthy's lawyer, Roy Cohn when Trump was thirty years old.  He learned  how to double down and repeatedly lie until people think it's the truth.  

This is wearing me out, how about you? 

Who is the Biggest Fake?  

I know many do see the dysfunctional sociopathic characteristics but they see it as strength.  They have craved someone who calls it like they see it.  He's bold, he doesn't care about political correctness.  America First!!    Mixed in with America First are the evangelical leaders and Christians who align with the man who says he has makes no mistakes and never needs to be forgiven.  And well, the sociopathic tendencies...

Jesus would have been all in for America First, right?  Jesus, the olive skinned Jew, who was an immigrant with no home who preached "love thy neighbor as thyself."

Jesus would have been turned away at the border by our current administration.  He was a snowflake in the best way, who said love everyone.   My personal God is the God of all people in the world, not just the American ones.  Trump has co-opted patriotism for his own purposes.  I love America, I love our freedom but I also see that the rest of the world's children (and adults) as God's too.  This includes the brown ones, the Mexican ones, the Muslim ones, females, children, gay, straight, transgender, the tax collector, the Pharisee, the white ones and the male ones. 

My pastor says that we must love our enemies.  I think Jesus did too.  Trump may stoke the fire of divisiveness and indecency day in and day out but I really try not to respond in hate.  I can even tell you how he has helped me!  Trump has helped me accept that I am not in control.  Ha ha!!   And that is an understatement!!  He has taught me to be in the present moment, more than Eckhart Tolle, Deepak Chopra or Jesus could! He has helped me to understand that politics are so very personal and they are so very deeply ingrained.  Do I hate Trump?  He makes me cringe for sure.  I can't listen to him speak and I loathe red hats. I really despise his actions and his rhetoric but I do try to understand him.  That is who I am.  I try to understand who he is and who his followers are.  I think he's pretty miserable that he won.  

For those who understand what I'm writing intimately, take heart.  I truly believe our democracy will survive this President.  Now, I don't think that every day, but on my best day, I do.  It will be ugly for a while still.  The Founding Fathers created our constitutional framework because we were fleeing a King with unlimited power and forced religion. They had this scenario in mind. 

Do you see what I see?

If you don't agree with any of these thoughts, thanks for reading all the way to the bottom!!  We may not see the same things, but I do try to see you, and understand as well.  We both want many of the same things in life, we just have different ways of getting there. 


Sunday, June 10, 2018

Feelings, Whoa, Whoa, Whoa Feelings

In lower and middle school, I took piano lessons.  When I quit lessons, there were just a few remaining songs that I could sit down and play by memory.  "The Rose", "You Light Up My Life" and "Feelings" were the emotional songs that I sat down and belted out every word.  I think there was a Barry Manilow in the repertoire as well, of course! {giggle}

I'm finding the irony of how enamored I was with those heart wrenching sentimental songs and where I am now.  I have come full circle.

Somewhere along the way from childhood on and most especially after a terrible bout of Postpartum Depression, I shut down allowing myself to experience a full range of feelings or what I like to now call by the proper name of energy.  Feelings are just energy, plain and simple.  Society and those persons closest to us, tell us not to cry, not to be angry and ignore the anxiety and Just Do It.  It's both a natural reaction to cry but also it seems to try and stop someone from having an emotional catharsis.  How many times have you seen someone apologize for making someone cry or apologize for crying oneself and then making a joke about it?  It can go to the extreme though, as a good portion of America now numbs itself with compulsions or addictions.  Nowadays, there are more compulsions that you can shake a stick at.  The old standards are still there: alcohol, drugs, gambling, food, cleaning, exercising and newer ones with that have crept in with technology, all so we can avoid ourselves and the emotional energy that naturally comes up in life.  We are turning away from ourselves (and the Divinity within).  And it takes a lot of practice to turn towards oneself again.

For years, I have been listening to a marvelous teacher named Mary O'Malley, a therapist in Washington State.  In interviews, videos, and articles, Ms. O'Malley states that in essence befriending and being curious with the compulsion is the way through, not trying to fight it head on but rather using curiosity and compassion.

Curiosity and compassion towards myself? Are you kidding? How contradictory is this to the message from the diet industry which owns my compulsion:  restrict, and deny yourself through eating.   As then there is the Western mentality of pulling yourself up by your bootstraps and white knuckling through whatever. 

I have been missing the curiosity and compassion component for years even though I had heard of it. I had no idea of how to do it.  I figured out I needed to feel my feelings so I started gutting myself through all of them.  I learned that anger is a sign that boundaries are being tread on and so I took different actions with certain people.   I faced anxiety and deep sadness head on.  I cried buckets, and sat with discomfort that I wanted to escape from more than anything.  A true bonus though, was learning that joy was in this mix of energy too.  I began to feel utter joy from simple encounters with my family, friends and nature because when you turn away and numb, you numb everything.

What Ms. O'Malley points out is that we judge our energy (feelings) and that keeps us in the vicious cycle.


I'm screaming this because I need that to sink in as I practice acceptance. 

She describes four kinds of movements in regards to energy.  The first is anger that I'm not getting what I want.  The second is fear and I'm getting what I don't want.  The third is despair/sadness that I will never get what I want.  Lastly, Mary says the glue that holds them all together is judgement.

We want to escape the anger, sadness, fear and we try to think ourselves out of the shame, guilt and whatever else is associated with it.  In my head, I think so very many derogatory thoughts of myself.  Why am I feeling this way, no one else is?  I need to get over this.  I am so pitiful.  What can't I be stronger, etc. etc.  I beat myself up.  Let's just pile it on. That will make things better. NOT.

Ms. O'Malley does a brilliant in depth explanation of the next step and more in her book, The Gift of Our Compulsions, if you are so inclined.  I had a simple event recently that highlighted the act of compassion towards myself.  I know Mary knows what she is talking about but knowing and experiencing the phenomena are two completely different things.  Both of my kids went off in different directions for the first week of summer.  Four years ago on a Sunday,  I watched Mallory drive off on a bus towards camp, a destination 6 hours away for the first time, and I cried uncontrollably.  I couldn't contain it, and I couldn't pull it together to attend church.  Four years later, we were going to church on another Sunday, yet Mallory was already gone to Texas and we were going to be bringing Riley to catch the bus for a weeklong mission trip. As I got dressed that morning, I immediately experienced a strong wave of "I've got to cry" sadness.

And then something brilliant happened if I do say so myself.  In that wave, I immediately accepted the fact that I was going to cry my eyes out and deemed that it was okay.  NO BIG DEAL. I packed up makeup to refresh myself so that I could go to church.  And I went on with my morning and the sad wave of energy passed.

I didn't resist the energy, or judge it.  I know how much I love my girls and I'm watching them grow up and be independent, which I didn't learn until my forties.  Four years ago,  I was probably crying for my own self who was scared of everything and transferring it to Mallory. She was totally fine and excited. But it doesn't matter why I cried.  This time,  I ACCEPTED IT.  My goal here is self acceptance and love.

Energy comes and goes. Learning compassion and curiosity towards myself, opens my heart to those around me and in the world.  It's my new practice.

Feelings, whoa, whoa, whoa feelings.  Again in my heart.


Sunday, May 20, 2018

I Killed the Xanax (And What Do Boundaries Really Look Like)

I had a dentist appointment at 10:00 am a few Fridays ago.  Around 8:30 that morning, I began to have slight nerves.  It was the second appointment to complete putting a new crown in.  The last appointment should have lasted an hour but instead it was an excruciating three hours.  I now have secure knowledge that I am completely claustrophobic of being trapped in a dental chair with two people in my grill, especially when the drill comes out.  (The other most important fact I learned: it takes an hour for Xanax to kick in completely.)

And I judge myself for this. 

I have judged myself that I can't buck up, and get through.  Everyone else can, right?  At times, there is a constant belittling of myself in my mind that I'm not enough.  I have awareness of this voice now, and that awareness is the beginning of extinguishing it.  And I do so, bit by bit.

It has become apparent that I need "help" to get through dental work over the last few years.  I had a panic attack towards the end of a root canal over a year ago because my Xanax dose wasn't appropriate. I bared through until the end because I knew the dentist was almost finished and he would have had to start over.  So for this first crown appointment,  I took the right dosage but only around 15-20 minutes before I left.  I didn't know that I needed an hour.

I just didn't know. 

And I judged myself.

As they bustled around me, shots were injected, preparations made and the drill ran to remove the injured tooth came out and, I put my hand up and said I can't do this.  I was having full out panic. It feels like the world is closing in and all I want to do is escape. And there was no way, I could gut through it this time.  I couldn't breath my way through, I couldn't think positive thoughts. I couldn't imagine happy places and I said no.

Even though we waited over an hour for the medicine to kick in,  I still couldn't do it.  It's like the full out panic killed the Xanax.

So after my Dr. consulted another physician, our next step was nitrous oxide.  I hadn't ever used laughing gas but I knew this work had to be done, and that I shouldn't leave without completing it.  It had been hard to come to this appointment.  So on comes the small nose mask.  (I also don't like being put under either so this was trippy as well)   I couldn't stop talking at this point to focus on breathing the gas in as I should have. But you see, the floodgates had opened and my "secret" was out, and it was "way out" and I could talk about it now.  There had been a miscommunication with my dentist about dental anxiety and this lack of communication bothered me.  In order to clear it up, I would have had to speak up, take up his time and admit my weakness.  During a call to reschedule the crown appointment because I didn't want to go back in, I talked to one of his assistants about my anxiety.  Turns out she had done a lot of research because her son has it as well, and she was the one who helped get me back into the chair.  At least one person in the office understood and that helped.  But I still hadn't talked to the dentist.

And I still haven't. And that is okay. I spoke up. I imagine picture perfect scenarios and conversations where I speak my truth and my feelings bravely and eloquently and the other person totally gets it and embraces me (HA HA HA)  That is not reality.   It's more about setting boundaries and if those aren't respected, you have to back away.

The Dentist doesn't have to understand everything about me. I just have to raise my hand and say, I can't do this.  Let's figure out another way.

This is called a boundary. 

And it doesn't matter if the other person understands my feelings or not.  Not everyone is going to understand and that's the whole point of why you have the boundary in the first place.

This is where I am at this stage of life.  I stayed quiet a long time and never wanted to rock the boat. But that is unsufferable.  If I don't speak up for myself, who will?

I have pushed myself to do things I never thought I would ever do. Plenty of uncomfortable feelings, have been gutted through.  But I will not do so anymore in the dental chair.  I will take whatever medicine works and am thankful for it's existence.

And I'm beginning to lessen the judgment.

And in a most unexpected fashion, at the end of the last appointment, I had THE best conversation with my dentist, not about anxiety, but about spiritual practices and the Trinity. I was not anticipating this scenario at all.  I simply adore talking about spiritual practices with like minded persons.

Life is full of surprises.  This was one of them.  I call them God Winks.


Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Turning Fifty, Donna Summer, & Unused Creativity

Yesterday afternoon, I was mundanely picking up my lovely child from volleyball practice. Prior to the drive, I had been busy planning an event that I'm in charge of for the first time and my mind has been filled with details, emails and a little anxiety.  On the way home, I tuned to the 70's station of Sirius Radio.  The first few bars of a song played and I quickly grabbed the volume knob and turned it up as loud as I thought Mallory could take it.

And then I turned it up a little more.

My energy level shot up.  I began bracing to happily belt out words to a long ago familiar song.

~Stringed instruments~

"Someone left the cake out in the rain, I don't think that I can take it, cause it took so long to bake it and I'll never have that recipe again....AGAIN

~Insert wicked laugh and groovy dancing music....

I have no idea what the lyrics mean but I bellowed out the ones that I remembered. And I laughed while doing so because what does that cake represent.  I haven't known for thirty years.  But my spirit lifted.  My mood shifted.


I love how unbelievably fast that music can change my energy and lift my soul up.

While I walked the dogs this morning, I began a You Tube play list of groovy dancing music from my era of the late 70's and 80's.  Why have I never pulled together all of the music that makes me so happy?  I became lost in it and will pay the price by going to the later, more advanced yoga class.  Oh well, my intuition has told me I needed to step up anyway.

Music, the arts, writing and more falls under being creative. Creativity comes from a higher power.  Unused creativity is not benign.  I remember when I heard that in a podcast with Brene Brown and Elizabeth Gilbert.  That WOKE me.  What Brene learned from the research was that when you do not use what you have been given, it can eat you up inside and make you sick with resentment, grief, and heartbreak.  Ohhhhh.   That gift of God must be used.  I need to write.  I need to dance.  I need to turn up the volume on what pleases my soul.  And we are all creative people, it's not just the arts.  It can encompass using your brain to think out of the box.  What holds me back?  Time and worrying about what other people think. But when I make the time and let go and use it...

It makes me a more LOVING and JOYFUL person (which is why God planned it that way)

I do need to stop worrying about what others opinions are of me.  I am turning fifty this year.  It is a decent number milestone.  It is making an impression on me because my birthday isn't until August and it's been on my mind!!  At this point in my life, I have to get on the horse or not ride at all and be sick with heartbreak and grief.  I can feel it.   It is also the tenth year of writing this blog. How did that happen?  I have been finding myself and my soul, slowly, through this writing and other means.  Once again, the point about finding my authenticity is that it is divinely given.  As I peel back the layers of stories I tell yourself, of who I  think I'm supposed to be, and find out what makes my soul sing, I find the Creator.

The very essence of the beginning of life and LOVE.

So I will try a little harder to fit Donna Summer and 80's music in but also find time for quiet which is where my writing naturally evolves.


It's a great podcast!! Magic Lessons with Elizabeth Gilbert: Season 1, Episode 12: Brene Brown on "Big Strong Magic"

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Driving Lessons and Learning How to Be Me From My Eldest

Riley is growing up and I'm allowing her to be who she is, and it's an ever-evolving journey. This week we went to the DMV and obtained her permit to drive with a licensed parent.  Last year at this time, it came as an utter surprise to me that Driver's Ed would occur this year, her fifteenth year of life.  I've been so consumed with her changing schools that driving was not on my radar at all.

The topic actually popped up at a church values seminar last year with a round table of parents and I was stunned to learn how soon driving could be taking place.  I was more concerned about discussing values and sexuality when this other topic popped up.  I had more reason to worry about driving : )

I have not emotionally nor mentally embraced my child behind the wheel, but we are doing it anyway.   It feels akin to the Subaru commercial where the dad pictures his teenager as a little girl behind the wheel.

When this child came out of my body, I felt overwhelmingly responsible for her.  Her dietary nurturance came from me. We were attached 24-7 for about a year with very few breaks. I was her everything as mothers are. George played a part too but as my body grew her inside of me, it was on me, and perhaps I felt this a little too much. Some days were terrifically challenging due to postpartum depression but I went through the motions again and again until it felt normal.  I was very enmeshed with her and had a hard time letting go of the little stuff.  In hindsight, I wished I could have relaxed and trusted the Divine One that all would be well.  Yet that was how I was wired at the time.

Over the years, I learned we needed boundaries.  I learned to be present with her emotions but not to take them personally as I had.  The very first tantrum she had as a toddler, scared the bejesus out of me.   The older aged tantrums were also difficult but I sloooowly learned that she was venting and there was something deeper in her that needed attention.  And magically when I got to the root of the need, the fireworks ceased.  We all want to be heard and be in connection.

Last year was a deeper learning curve.  She had been miserable at school for years in terms of friendships. She really liked the school but there was no comfortable fit at all socially.  She felt an outcast where she (we!) had been for ten years.  And as I take things personally, was I an outcast?  I didn't fit in the clique.  I had to learn to be me and find friends naturally.  Riley has put a spotlight on this area for me this year.

This first semester at her new school, was a big transition for me, not her!  Sadness bubbled over me every time I went to the old school with Mallory.  Riley fit in seamlessly at the new school and has been happy from the very first interaction of summer geometry camp that her parental units made her go to.  She bonded with the other campers complaining that their P.U's made them go too.  I wanted her to start making friends as soon as possible and unconsciously I wanted her to do it my way.  I wanted her to go to the football games (not interested).  I thought she should be inviting new friends over to hang out or go to the movies (nope.)   We had uprooted our lives and schools for gosh sakes, I thought she needed to put herself out there.  I was so overwrought about her former school's fall dance and her sociability that I ended up at the therapist office extensively for her.  But as I sat and informed the therapist of what was going on, she looked at me and said, this seems to be more for you than for her.


Deep down I knew this.  It took that one session with a professional to tell me that introverts make friends very slowly and tend to watch and gather information.  If they have one or two friends, that's all they need and they like being alone. Bazinga!

She just wanted to go to a school and have friendly faces around her.

Thus began the deep acceptance of teenage Riley and a deep acceptance of who I am on a more enlightened level.

Riley is perfectly happy to be at home on Friday and Saturday nights and for most of a school break.  What's important right now moreso than boys, are those friendly faces at school.  She's not interested in makeup, earrings or fashion and when we clothes shop, it is decisive. She loves academics, history, trees, genealogy, her church, volunteering, Birkenstocks, Chacos and NCIS.  What thoroughly cemented my daughter's proclivities was a personality test at school and the results showed her love of structure and order at the rate of 73% and social needs at 4%.  Whoa!!  Could it be any more obvious how my child was wired?!!

She has social activities but ones that I didn't have growing up and those fulfill her. The ones that I desperately wanted in high school, like a boyfriend, or being popular is not on her list.

So, I get it.  And I have really been examining my own friendships, and passions.  What and with whom do I really want to spend my time on?   I have to listen to my own God given intuition for what works for me.

I am not ready for her to drive, as it feels very unnatural right now.  Turning her out into the world in a 3-4 ton automobile to interact with the world at large is daunting. Yet I am getting in the car with her again and again until it begins to feel normal.  I am also tightly gripping the door handle too!  I know that this time in the car is priceless.  When she starts driving on her own, I will lose that chunk of time and won't gain it back. Being a parent is an amazing journey with bumps and dives and thrilling highs and large learning curves.  To survive, I use big deep breaths that fill the lungs completely with just as large exhalations and listening to the Holy Spirit through my own intuition.  And my own quiet time!!

And all will be well even if it doesn't look like I anticipated.


Friday, December 29, 2017

Anne Lamott's New Year's Non Diet Missive

From Anne Lamott:  I so needed to read this today.

We need—I need— to have the same little talk we have every year at this time:
I know you are planning to start a diet on Monday, January 1st, I used to start diets, too. I hated to mention this to my then-therapist. She would say cheerfully, " Oh, that's great, honey. How much weight are you hoping to gain?"
I got rid of her sorry ass. No one talks to ME that way.
Well, okay, maybe it was ten years later, after she had helped lead me back home, to myself, to radical self-care, to friendship with my own heart, to a glade that had always existed deep inside me, to mostly healthy eating, but that I'd avoided all those years by achieving, dieting, binging, people-pleasing, and so on.
Now when I decide to go on a diet, I say it to myself: "Great, honey. How much weight are you hoping to gain?" Here is what's true: diets make you fat. 95% of the time. We gain it back, plus 5 lbs.
I may have mentioned several hundred times that I have had the tiniest, tiniest struggle with food and body image for the last--well, life time. Hardly worth mentioning. It is a long story, having to do with childhood injuries to my sense of self, terrible anxiety, and the inability of my parents to nurture my soul: so starving and chastising myself cannot possibly heal this. I hate to say it, but only profound self-love will work, union with that scared breath-holding self, and not a diet that forbids apples, or avocado. Horribly, but as usual, only kindness and grace--spiritual WD-40--can save us.
Can you put the scale away for a week? Okay, then how about 4 days? I have been addicted to the scale, too, which is like needing Dick Cheney to weigh in every morning on my value as a human being. Can you put away your tight pants, that don't actually hurt you? Wear forgiving pants! The world is too hard as it is, without letting your pants have an opinion on how you are doing. I struggle with enough esteem issues without letting my jeans get in on the act, with random thoughts about my butt.
By the same token, it feels great to be healthy. Some of you need to be under a doctor's care. None of you need to join Jenny Craig. It won't work. You will lose tons of weight quickly, and gain it all back, plus five. Some of you need to get outside and walk for half an hour a day. I do love walking, so that is not a problem for me, but I have a serious problem with sugar: if I start eating it, I sometimes can't stop. I don't have an off switch, any more than I do with alcohol. Given a choice, I will eat Raisinets until the cows come home--and then those cows will be tense, and bitter, because I will have gotten lipstick on the straps of their feed bags.
But you crave what you eat, so if I go for 3 or 4 days with very little sugar, the craving is gone. That is not dieting. If you are allergic to peanuts, don't eat peanuts. Have an apple! Have some avocado.
It's really okay, though, to have (or pray for) an awakening around your body. It's okay to stop hitting the snooze button, and to pay attention to what makes you feel great about yourself, one meal at a time. Unfortunately, it's yet another inside job. If you are not okay with yourself at 185, you will not be okay at 150, or even 135. The self-respect and peace of mind you long for is not out there. It's within. I hate that. I resent that more than I can say. But it's true.
Maybe some of us can try to eat a bit less, and walk a bit more, and make sure to wear pants that do not hurt our thighs or our feelings. Drinking more water is the solution to all problems. Doing a three minute meditation every day will change your life. Naps are nice.
I'll leave you with this: I've helped some of the sturdier women at my church get healthy, by suggesting they prepare each meal as if they had asked our beloved pastor to lunch or dinner. They wouldn't say, "Here Pastor--let's eat standing up in the kitchen. This tube of barbecue Pringles is all for you. i have my own." And then stand there gobbling from their own tubular container. No, they'd get out pretty dishes, and arrange wonderful foods on the plates, and set one plate before Veronica at the table, a plate filled with love, pride and connection. That's what we have longed for, our whole lives, and get to create, now, or on the 1st. Wow!
Join me in not starting a diet January 1st. And God bless you all real good, as my pastor always says.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

The Divine Dance in the Donut Shop

I was having a hard time emotionally yesterday.  I went to Mallory's school in the morning for a program and then I had to return in the afternoon for another program.  On occasion, I have been blindsided by feelings that come up when I go to campus as Riley is no longer there.  When I see high school uniforms, I immediately think, oh, where is she? And then I remember... she's across town.

Anger, resentment and sadness bubble up and sit on my chest.  With ten years under our belt, I never planned to change schools but it was an absolute necessity.  I am resentful that it did not work out. I am sad that she felt like she didn't belong.  (And on a deeper level, it's about me feeling like I didn't belong)  She and I have discussed it any amount of times to understand it just wasn't a good fit for her.  Her personality didn't mesh with her particular grade.  Yet I want this energy of anger and sadness to GO AWAY but I know I have to allow them to flow through and not fight it.  I asked one of my bests friends, to please tell me that I'm not crazy for feeling this way.  (Even when I know, feelings are just energy and they will flow through)  I was lucky that she happens to have a friend in a similar position that has expressed similar sentiments to mine.  But the unwelcomed energy still sat there.  I broached the subject with Riley on our ride home and she, of course, knew where I was coming from.  She at fifteen is growing up, maturing and now that she is in a better place, our relationship is more mature and we can communicate better. (of course it still has it's moments!!)

That afternoon, I walked with my neighbor and the movement and conversation helped my spirits but heaviness still sat on my chest.  It is grief, not as deep as losing a loved one but it is grief nonetheless and as the case with grieving, it shows up in waves when you least expect it.

This morning before school, Mallory and I took a very last minute detour to the donut shop to bring some for a school party.  It was very off the cuff last minute decision.  We ran into several school acquaintances who were doing the same.  I asked one friendly acquaintance how she was doing.  And then she inquired how Riley was doing at the new school.  I answered that she was doing well and it was working out so far. She said some schools are just not a fit for everyone. And then, I took a big risk and mentioned my resentful feelings.

And this is where the God wink begins.

My risk of vulnerability paid off, and she acknowledged my feelings. I don't even remember exactly what was said, but I  felt heard and she understood the quagmire of one child leaving a school and one child remaining there.

It was music to my heart.

Side Note: It is very important to save heartfelt emotions to share with someone who deserves the right to hear it. Otherwise, you walk away feeling worse. All people need and want to be heard and have their feelings acknowledged. 

After I dropped Mallory off at school, I texted this friend  to thank her for her insight and understanding.  And the God wink continued when she texted back and said that anyone should understand the situation and that she missed seeing Riley's smiling face on campus.

Whoa. Cue the really ugly cry which I needed to have so very much.  I cried immediately and deeply and the energy moved through for the most part.  It was the right timing. It was divine timing.  It was the right moment, right person to show a bit of compassion for it to flow.

I see a God wink as the holy spirit doing it's thing.  I have learned to attribute these types of interactions as a divine interaction.  I understand the "dance" of the Trinity.  Father, Son and Holy Ghost.  I acknowledge a divine flow.  It's the practice of continually learning to let go, and things will not necessarily happen as I want them to, but my needs are answered in unexpected ways in their own time and I feel a peace for a short time that is indescribable.  And I work again, to let go.  It's a continual progression.

I am so very grateful for that Divine flow and these God winks.

(Another side note: I was able to hear Father Richard Rohr discuss this very topic in New Orleans two weekends ago.  His book is the Divine Dance: The Trinity and Your  Transformation) It was an incredible talk.