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Mercy

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Edvard Munch: “Death and the Child”

Most people say “When my time comes, I don’t want to be hooked up to machines! Pull the plug, just let me die!” Oh, but it is not that easy when you, as the family member, have to make the decision for your loved one. In my case, my father.

To treat or not to treat? It is a gut-wrenching, sleep-depriving, desperation grasping, doubt-filled, guilt-ridden nightmare. It’s the Serenity Prayer incarnate.

Sometimes, death doesn’t stare you in the face and take charge. Sometimes death dares you to dig deep down beyond your own existence, beyond everything you thought you knew. Sometimes death calls bullshit on your spiritual capacity to allow, surrender, and trust. Sometimes death turns you into a terrified child lost at the department store, worried she will never-ever go home again or see her parent’s face, or feel their embrace. Sometimes, death just sits back, and watches you writhe, like an earthworm in the dry daylight, as you wrestle with your humanness.

And then there is the one who breathes an inconsistent breath, whose fate is in your hands. And all you can offer is the the most tender mercy that arises from a place beyond the psyche and without words.

2/26/2016

Memory Mash-Up

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Well, it happened. I graduated with my Masters in Counseling Psychology yesterday with an amazing group of women. You would think that I would be excited about all the free time I will have now. Instead I have such a mixed bag of feelings that relaxing into leisure time just doesn’t feel quite right yet. My mixed feelings began in our last quarter. I was nervous as I knew my time with my cohort, and receiving academic support from professors, was coming to an end. I was excited about the free time I would have in 3 months. I was worried that I wasn’t skilled enough in my field, and that I would soon have less consultation. The last day of class I felt more sadness and uncertainly. I wondered if the paths of my cohort and I would cross again. However, the days between the last class and graduation day helped me ease into this transition.

Graduation day was surreal for me. All the emotions I felt throughout the quarter hit me hard, and I felt pangs of anxiety throughout the ceremony.”Wait, is this really happening?” That thought sat with me as I remembered the day that I decided to take a chance and apply to the program, and was now about to graduate. It wasn’t so much the act of graduating that was intense, it was the tangible experience of having an idea of what I want for myself, committing to the work it demanded, and crossing the finish line to receive what I originally set out for. The reality that I could have an idea and see it to fruition hit me with such clarity. I realized that I truly can do anything I choose to do. Anything.

I also couldn’t help but also notice how much my family influenced my dedication to school. I come from a very hardworking family where my father commonly worked 12-hour days, 6 days a week. My mother would wake up early in the morning to cook breakfast and lunch for my father, go to work, then come home to make dinner and run the home. Most of my siblings are hard workers too. As kids most of them woke up before day-break to work the fields. As adults they continue to be great workers who take pride in the work they do. This attitude towards work definitely shows up in my ability to do the work that needs to be done. Grad school alone is demanding, however, I also had to work full-time to keep a roof over my head. Although it was hard, I had an understanding that this was simply what I had to do if I wanted my degree. I was willing to do the hard work, even though I wished I didn’t have to. I credit my family for my ability to take on tough demands, and I am thankful for that.

These last two years weren’t easy. Two of my brother’s passed away and I packed in more types of support groups to help me through tough times (ya’ know, with all that spare time I had). I faced a lot of demons and grew in some ways, and felt stunted in others. As a counselor my life experiences keep my heart open and my feet on the ground. In general, I see my experiences as a way to keep me in line with my belief that we are all humans trying to do this “life” thing.

When I think back to the first quarter of grad school, it feels like so long ago. I feel I was such a different person then. I also try to remember why I wanted this degree. What was my passion? What was my motivation and vision? School focuses so much on the technicalities, that it can lack a lot of soul. After two-years of study I feel like I lost some of my spiritual aspects of practice as my brain wants to run things more. Trust me, that isn’t good. So I am looking forward to re-connecting with my heart, intuition, and spirit as I know these aspects are what help in the healing process.

So I’m grateful for the opportunity to learn, grow, and heal. I am grateful for the blending of mind and spirit. I am grateful for meeting new people and building a network of support. I am grateful for this new chapter in my life.

Mother’s Day Reflection: Grieving the Woman Who Could Have Been

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Artist: Mara Friedman

This mother passed away in 1997. I was 25. She was 65. Since then, Mother’s Day hasn’t been too big a deal for me as there usually isn’t a charge of melancholy. But this year, I dunno, I just feel more emotional about the whole concept of motherhood, and my mother.

I was watching a video partially titled: Famous Figures Share Lessons From Their Moms and it started me thinking about what my mother taught me. Or better yet, what she never taught me. She never taught me practical things like how to cook, sew, or do laundry. Years after I moved out, I was in my early 20′s and asked her why she never showed me how to do these things. Her response? “You never asked”.

My mother was a quiet and very modest woman. Her entire life was dedicated to tending to the needs of others. These may sound like noble traits, but to me, they leave me feeling sad. From her childhood until her death, she was at the demands of others. As a child she had no choice but to take care of your younger siblings. As a young woman she didn’t know better as marriage and childbearing consumed her life. As a grown woman she believed she was powerless to experience a different life. I believe that, even though she wanted more from life, she did the best with what she had. She was from a different place and era. An era where many woman were not asked what they wanted, they were told what they would do. This is why I cringe when people praise my mother for her dedication to others and her consistent ability to place others needs before hers.

Out of her nine children, I am the youngest. This offered me the opportunity of getting to spend more one-on-one time with my mom. I didn’t have to share her as much as my siblings had to, which helped me to get to know the woman behind the title. In getting to know her, I saw a woman who was creative, a dreamer, and who never had a chance to really be herself. I don’t even think she had the luxury of being able to know who she was. I also saw a woman who swallowed her dreams and let out her desires in stolen moments while dad was at work or her grandkids were sleeping. I remember her telling me that if she could have attended high school she would have joined sports. How she use to love to run as a child. How she mistakenly thought marriage would bring her freedom.

In 1993, we were in Guanajuato, Mexico on a bumpy bus ride. I looked over to see my mother letting the bumpy ride allow her jaw to hang loose and make funny sounds come from her throat. It was surprising to me, to see this rare moment where my mother was so childlike and free.

Growing up, I never really appreciated my mother. I took her for granted and I know I’m not the only one. I know this because of a telling moment when I tried to apologize to her for being rude. “I’m sorry mom. If I have kids I’m sure I’ll get my payback”. Without hesitation and with an uncharacteristically sharp anger in her voice she yelled “I never did anything to deserve what all of you have put me through!” In that moment I felt like I saw her truth. A truth she held close to her. A sadness and anger that probably festered in her mind at night. A hum deep in her soul.

There are so many pieces to put together when I think of my mother. What rises to the surface after all these years is, I wish she had a different life. I wish she could have lived her life. I use to think that she never taught me domestic skills because she didn’t want me to be like her. She wanted me to be free. Now I think that she couldn’t teach me how to be a person in the world, because she didn’t know how to be one. If she could have lived her life and had a chance to get to know herself, I wonder what she could have done.

As for what she did teach me, I can honestly say that most of what I learned from my mother was covert. In my adulthood I yielded my mother’s lessons. I learned to blame myself when things went wrong.  I learned to stuff my anger and let it out in isolated fits of rage. I learned to not ask my partners for what I wanted. I learned how to resent. After she died, I swung in the opposite direction. I spoke up, I craved freedom. I took chances. I lived the life she never could. Now, I access my mother’s organized way of handling responsibilities and still fear being trapped. I continue to sift through who I am without my family story, not in spite of, but in light of my mother’s unlived life. It’s pretty tricky and I’m assuming a lifelong process.

Oh, but there was the time when I was a little kid, when she taught me how to put my underwear on right. She also taught me how to thread a needle and quickly tie a knot in the thread. That was cool.

I know she did her best, and I know she loved me even though she didn’t want so ,many kids. She was a mother who used her skills to run a household efficiently. I just wish there would have been opportunity for her to be with herself and give to herself. I honestly don’t think her children were her life by choice. But it was her reality and she did what she could to make the most of it. Given a choice, I know things would have been much different.

So on this Mother’s Day, I not only grieve the mother I lost when I was 25. I grieve the woman who could have been.

Congratulations! You Kicked It Old Skool!: KIOS Blog-A-Thon, Day 31

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Today’s is the last day of the KIOS Blog-A-Thon, and so, today’s final prompt is: What would you like to celebrate about this month and Kickin’ It Old Skool?

13960-oldskoolbadgeroundedwithstars250x250This was my first time participating in anything like this so I’m glad I was able to do so, AND stick with it! I want to celebrate the accomplishment of a month’s worth of blogging since this blog has become stale over the years. It was cool to give it some life. Also, I’d like to celebrate getting to know other bloggers, checking out what they are up to, and getting to know about some cool services people offer.

Thanks for the fun month of blogging and I hope to “see” you all soon!

Kickin’ Recipes: KIOS Blog-A-Thon, Day 30

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Today’s KIOS Blog-A-Thon prompt is: Share one of your favourite recipes!

Tempeh is something that took me a while to really like, however Talya Lutzker’s recipe for Quick Coconut Tempeh took it over the moon for me. It’s fast (15 minutes!), easy, healthy, and oh so scrumptious. You’ll love it in a sandwiches, salads, solo right outta the oven, or my favorite – with steamed greens, quinoa, a squirt of lemon and a dash of flax oil.

Seriously, if you eat tempeh, you MUST try this recipe ASAP.

Quick Coconut Tempeh

from: The Ayurvedic Vegan Kitchen: Finding Harmony Through Food and grokker.com

Servings: 2
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Ready In: 15 minutes

Ingredients:
Tempeh
Coconut Oil
Coconut Aminos  (I use Braggs Liquid Aminos)
Water
Salt
Nutritional Yeast
Cumin
Herbes de Provence ( If I don’t ave Herbes de Provence, I use mix of coriander, fennel seed, & cardamom)

Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

2. Slice the tempeh (use tempeh without barley to keep this recipe gluten-free) into 1/2-inch cubes. Melt the coconut oil in a large, shallow skillet over medium-high heat. Put the tempeh in the skillet. Drizzle with coconut aminos, water, salt, nutritional yeast, cumin and herbes de Provence.

5. Cover and cook for 10 to 15 minutes, or until all the liquid has evaporated. Stir a few times throughout the cooking time to prevent the tempeh from sticking to the pan. Transfer the tempeh to a baking dish in a single layer. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, or until golden brown and slightly crispy on the outside.

Check out Talya’s site at: http://www.talyaskitchen.com/

Her cookbook The Ayurvedic Vegan Kitchen: Finding Harmony Through Food is filled with amazing recipes and available through Amazon.com

 

One Sentence Saturdays: KIOS Blog-A-Thon, Day 28

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Today’s KIOS Blog-A-Thon prompt is: Casting ahead to 2014, choose your word for the upcoming year.What-If-Your-Current-Challenge-Is-A-Call-To-Action-Challenge-Picture-Quote-1ac·tion noun \ˈak-shən\

2013 cultivated compassionate patience, honoring silence, and allowing for observation.

For 2014, I’d like the fruits of these traits to be action!tumblr_lg1rwwaAzC1qch7b8o1_500

There’s only a few days left, so if you’d like to participate in this Blog-A-Thon, please visit: http://kickinitoldskool.blogspot.com/2013/11/get-ready-to-ruuumbbbllleee.html 

Final Friday: KIOS Blog-A-Thon, Day 27

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The prompt for day 27 is: Let’s share a little bit about the year that was 2013

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To help, we were given the following questions. I delayed in answering these, because I see every day as a lesson. Thinking about a whole year’s worth of learning is like, whoa. But here we go…

1. What will you remember about 2013? That I experienced personal growth on an even deeper level as I faced inner critics, insecurities, and old patterns with patience, compassion, and support from others.
2. What are you ready to leave behind? I am so ready to leave behind self-doubt and silencing myself.
3. What’s something you learned  in 2013? Giving things time is okay. I don’t have to decide now, or act now. I can observe and take care of myself in the meantime. When the time is right I will know. I believe this is one way that discernment works.
4. What would you like to celebrate about this past year? That I took a risk and let love in. I allowed myself to be loved in ways that I always wanted.
There’s only a few days left, so if you’d like to participate in this Blog-A-Thon, please visit: http://kickinitoldskool.blogspot.com/2013/11/get-ready-to-ruuumbbbllleee.html
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