"The creation of a thousand forests is in one acorn." -Ralph Waldo Emerson

Posts tagged ‘heart’

The Never Ending Story

There are some wonderful things associated with memorable moments in my life and this movie is one of them. It brings me right back to my early twenties and all that was happening in my life then with a clarity that reminds me once again what a pivotal set of moments this was in my life.

I was a 22-year-old mother of a 4-year-old child who was born with a heart defect. I was in many ways still a child myself. I was a stay-at-home mom by choice, a decision my husband and I wholeheartedly agreed on. It was easier to survive on one income then compared to how it is today yet it was still pretty darn tough. We lived in poverty, from paycheck to paycheck, here and there receiving assistance from the Women, Infants and Children program as well as a time or two where we were grateful to qualify for and receive Food Stamps. Those programs got us through some lean times for sure.

So much was going on with me. I was doing my best to do what I thought I was supposed to do. I remember asking my sister-in-law, who became a mother at an age even younger than me, “Is this it? We just pop out babies, drink coffee, clean, watch soaps?” And her reply of “Yeah, pretty much!” It was the first time I realized how much meaning was placed on the roles outside the home and so little on those inside the home.

My son, Jeffrey and I were closely bonded. We sorta grew up together those first years. We were alone together a lot and found lots of things to do to keep us occupied. We talked a lot. I always asked him “What do you think?” Or “How do you feel about it?” and would get the most interesting answers. At the age of two the answers were short and to the point as he was learning to communicate with me. As his vocabulary expanded it brought some really interesting perspectives on the many questions within life through the wisdom of a toddler.

As I can see it so clearly now with my grandchildren, babies are input machines. They soak in – eat, sleep, breathe, feel – EVERYTHING about our environment as quickly as their little brains and bodies will allow. Curious about everything and everything is input. When they have something to say and can pick the words out of those they’ve been given to communicate with, sometimes what comes out of the mouths of babes can be profound.

That summer before Jeffrey’s fourth birthday was when we watched The Never Ending Story together. It was a story about a young boy coming to terms with his death of his mother. We watched it over and over and over again. Together we followed Bastian on his journey to defeat the nothing. We were with him being chased down the street by a gang of boys, we were with him in the book store. It was as magical to both of us as it seemed to be to Bastian.

We talked about the emotions and questions the movie brought up for each of us. Artax and Atreyou in the swamp moved us to tears together. We talked about why it felt so sad. As the Nothing raced across the land spreading its fear and darkness we jumped and gasped together at the first sight of the wolf and his glowing eyes. It prompted us to talk about our fears and what we can do about them.

I do my best not to talk down to my children. I believe they arrived in my life with more wisdom than I will ever possess. I do my best to honor their intelligence and tell the truth in the best way I can. I speak in language that isn’t baby talk or dumbing it down, but is age appropriate and real. I believe there is a part of them that may not understand the intricate meanings of the words but can get the essence of them regardless.

Just after Jeffrey turned four he was scheduled for open heart surgery. It was to be the first of a two-part series of surgeries to correct his heart defect. He would then have the second part when he turned five. We arrived at the hospital prepared to stay for about a week. Although the hospital was only twenty minutes from my home I chose to sleep there in the room with my son. I didn’t have my own car to travel back and forth and even if I did, I’m not sure I could have left him there alone.

The first night was spent preparing for early surgery the next day. Papers were signed, questions were asked and answered and we were all a little on edge. After Jeffrey laid down to sleep for the night his nurse suggested I go over to the playroom where several moms who were also spending the night had gathered. I was homesick, lonely and afraid and it sounded like a great idea.

There were four or five women sitting in a circle of rocking chairs chatting when I entered the room. I made my greetings and took a chair to become part of the circle. Topics moved across the small talk spectrum for a few minutes when it got to movies. One mom asked if anyone had seen The Never Ending Story. Most replied that they had and how scary it was. I added that my son and I watch it together all the time. Suddenly I felt pounced upon. “How old is your son? Four years old and you let him watch that? That’s insane. You don’t do that to a child. It’s too scary for them.” Etcetera and on and on. I was instantly the worst mother ever born.

I left the room feeling more homesick than ever. I called my husband and cried on the phone but all I could say was how homesick I was. I had trouble communicating what had just happened in the playroom and how it made me feel. The Never Ending Story had been a beautiful bonding experience between me and my child and it was something I treasured. To have no chance to even explain that to these women and to have been so set upon with such judgmental hatred had really upset me. Five out of six women agree that you suck as a mother, Lisa. Majority rules, right? It must be true.

Thankfully, there is always a dawn after a dark night of scary storms. The morning of the surgery had arrived and we were anxious. Jeffrey was bright and happy and ready to get started so he could feel better. If he was afraid, he never showed it. We trusted and believed we would see each other in the recovery room. And we did.

For the rest of the week in the hospital I did my best to encourage and support my son in his recovery. I avoided any contact with the playroom moms. Sometimes our eyes met in the hallways or elevators but there was no more conversation. There didn’t need to be as the lines were clearly drawn. As sure as they were that I sucked as a mother I was equally sure that they were dead wrong. The evidence of that was in my child and my relationship with him and THAT was all I needed to put their negative voices to rest in my mind.

I do wish I had been able to communicate my story in the playroom as an example of how they might bond with their children over things like scary movies. I feel it’s such a gift to both mother and child to have that kind of soul connection. So much of what we are taught to do as parents is about authoritarianism and bending our children to our will in obedience, mostly because as adults we are supposed to know better and know what is best for them. But what if we don’t? What if our children are as equally our teachers as we are theirs?

So, there’s one of the “untold stories” of my early days of motherhood and figuring out how to be the best version of myself in a world that I sometimes seem to have little in common with. It felt important to finally document this time in my life.

 

 

The Two Wolves Within

An old Grandfather said to his grandson, who came to him with anger at a friend who had done him an injustice…

“Let me tell you a story. I too, at times, have felt great hate for those who have taken so much, with no sorrow for what they do. But hate wears you down, and does not hurt your enemy. It’s like taking poison and wishing your enemy would die.”

“I have struggled with these feelings many times. It is as if there are two wolves inside me; one is good and does no harm. He lives in harmony with all around him and does not take offense when no offense was intended. He will only fight when it is right to do so, and in the right way.

Jeffrey Dwaine Buckalew, Jr12.22.82 - 04.23.00art by Johanna Pieterman

Jeffrey Dwaine Buckalew, Jr
12.22.82 – 04.23.00
art by Johanna Pieterman

But…the other wolf… ah! The littlest thing will send him into a fit of temper. He fights everyone, all of the time, for no reason. He cannot think because his anger and hate are so great. It is helpless anger, for his anger will change nothing.”

“Sometimes it is hard to live with these two wolves inside me, for both of them try to dominate my spirit.”

The boy looked intently into his Grandfather’s eyes and asked, “Which one wins, Grandfather?”

The Grandfather smiled and quietly said, “The one I feed.”

— — A Native American tale told many times around the Sacred Fire

One Word – What is YOUR word?

Recently I had the opportunity to spend the weekend at the shore with some of my favorite people, my family. After a long night of fishing we sat together on the beach talking and enjoying breakfast in the morning sun.

Alexandria quietly played in the sand at our feet. She used a small piece of wood to scrape the sand smooth, like a blank canvas, and then made fingerprints, foot prints and bumble bee prints with a plastic bumble bee we found on the beach. Sometimes she coaxed one of us to make prints, too. Every so often she picked up the board and wiped the area clean to start again.

BE

If you could summarize the purpose of your life with one word, what would it be?

Our conversation shifted into wondering aloud about why we are here or what our purpose is in life. I shared that I had heard from different places that our individual purpose in life can be summarized with one solitary WORD. And that we can find clues to what that word might be in some of our most challenging moments or life patterns.

For example, for someone who is overly critical of everything that is “different” from their perception of what “should” be, the word might be ACCEPTANCE. Being overly critical and always finding something wrong or something to complain about feeds the negative energies of hate and intolerance. It also indicates a rejection of one’s own SELF. It attracts and brings more situations to complain about … often over and over and over again.

So, for this person, what is required is to become aware of the pattern of rejection. Then to make the conscious choice to evolve from the energies of hate into those of LOVE – to make the shift into being more accepting. That choosing to shift the energy from hate to love requires practicing ACCEPTANCE, beginning with accepting the SELF … over and over and over again as life brings its challenges. And life will bring challenges to practice on!

We were quiet for a few moments and then began sharing around the circle what our greatest challenges were and what we each thought our word might be. After everyone had a turn speaking it was again quiet for a few moments … Alexandria, still looking down and playing in the sand said, “I think my word is be …” and the rest of what she said was cut off by a loud noise from somewhere else. I asked “What did you say, Alex? Your word is be happy?” She looked up at me, right into my eyes, and with the perfect certainty and wisdom of a four year old said, “No, my word is BE. Just BE.”

no words …

~LM

“They pick up me when I fall.”

Yesterday afternoon I experienced one of those precious moments of life that are so sweet, so heart-warming, so divine that it made me wish I could package it up in a pretty purple box and tie it up with a gold ribbon and a big bow so that I may open the gift again and again and again.

Jeff was feeding bees and putting mouse guards in the hives while I was in the garden gathering, bundling, collecting and preparing for winter. Our granddaughter Alexandria was back and forth between us, assisting, asking questions and just being her happy little 4-year-old self.

It had been sprinkling on and off all afternoon until a point came where it seemed like it was going to be more on than off. As I started packing my harvest into the truck I called to Alex to gather her things and come sit in the truck with me to wait for the rain to pass.

“I not wet Gairma!” she said, as she trotted off and disappeared behind the garden shed. (she calls me Gairma instead of Grandma – “Gair” sounds like “Hair”) As I was putting things away I noticed that she was purposefully going up and down the garden rows, stopping occasionally, and then continuing on.

We’ve had a few really cold nights so most of the garden has wilted, however Alex is rarely without a fistful of flowers of some sort and this day was no exception. We climbed into the truck to watch the rain. As we talked she opened her little hand and laid an assortment of flowers out on the console.

Her collection contained flowers of viola, anise hyssop, lavender, white snake root, stevia and borage. We talked about each of them in turn, noting the colors, the scents and the size of the flower petals. When we got to stevia we tasted the leaves. Her face lit up at the sweetness and she quickly asked for another. After talking about each flower and before moving on to the next she would declare it her favorite. “Viola is my favorite!” When we shared about anise hyssop before moving on to the lavender she said, “Anise hyssop is my favorite!” and so on through all of the flowers.

I observed, “You really love flowers don’t you?”

She nodded her head and said “Yes … they pick up me when I fall.” I think I may have held my breath at that moment, wanting to stop time right there in the divinity of what she had just said and how it made me feel. She started to explain “When I fall down … ” and she spread her hands down toward the floor “they pick up me” and she brought her hands back up and crossed her arms over her heart.

I love flowers. They pick up me when I fall. Alexandria Jordan Buckalew - Age 4I said, “So they make you feel better?”

“Yes” she said, nodding her head again. She selected a beautiful geranium blossom she had brought with her from Pop-pop’s house, brought it to her face and said, “They give me a kiss.” Her angelic little face glowing in refection of the pink-orange petals, she puckered her lips, closed her eyes and kissed the flower. “See?”

Listen to your heart …

Each whisper from your heart is a potential boarding pass for the next leg of the journey that is your life. Where will you fly to next?

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