Just Another Day

I had a dream last night my mom wasn’t actually dead. We had the funeral mass and the interment and then it turned out she was still alive. We chatted casually about how she was very nearly cremated. My mom commented on how easy it is to conform to societal and communal expectations, how she just about entered the furnace with an Our Father and blind faith.

But then she remembered that she wasn’t actually dead and recited a nursery rhyme to notify the technician. It occurred to me, in that moment, that my mom was Jesus, risen from the dead.

That’s when I woke up, and now I’m weepy. I consider going for a hike, but I’m not sure if my 2-year-old will be up for it. It’s not like I have the strength to carry her.

“You could at least go for a walk around the block,” I tell myself. “Get out of the house. Soak up some vitamin D.” But then I accidentally sit down with a hot cup of coffee. I soon find myself wrapped up in a warm blanket, the one my Grandma knitted, the one that covered my mom in her hospice bed, and I know I’m not going anywhere.

It’s one of those long days, at home with the 2-year-old and nothing to do. These are the days that are normally interrupted by a visit from my mom. Her car is parked outside our house. The doorbell rings but it’s only the mailman dropping off a package. Where is my mom?

“No more diapers!” I say with feigned enthusiasm. I need to do something besides sit around and cry all day, and what better way is there to lift one’s spirits than to potty train? Twenty minutes later she says she has to go potty and actually makes it to the chair in time. I’ll tell my mom when she gets here. She’ll be so proud.

“Have you ever seen a moose eating a moose?” My 2-year-old asks me, screwing up the rhyme from the children’s song Down by the Bay. “Have you ever seen a bear eating his ‘jamas*?” She cracks herself up. “Want me to do it again?” She asks, eager to please.

After lunch she requests “some songs”. She means the Trolls soundtrack. Those are the songs she wants to dance to. She sings along, “Knock me over. I will get back up again.”

All of this – the singing and the dancing and the joking and the peeing (well, in the potty) – is new. I can’t wait for my mom to see it. It’s been months since she came for a visit and today is a good day for one.

But then I remember that my mom is not Jesus. She is, in fact, still dead. The abrupt change in routine is overwhelming, and I feel sad. I feel sad for myself and also for my mom. These are just the first of all the many, many, little things she will never get to see.

“I miss my Mommy,” I tell my 2-year-old as tears well in my eyes (again).

“You miss your Mommy? Ohhh…” she says with genuine sympathy. “I miss my sister.”

“You miss your sister?” I ask, wondering if losing her sister to kindergarten feels more significant.

“I miss my Grandma too,” she says, as if reading my mind.

“Me too,” I say. “Me too.”

*Rhymes with llama

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Rules for Political Debates

Feeling down? In need of a pick me up? You’ve come to the right place! I’m about to talk POLITICS. Oh wait. Discussing politics doesn’t usually feel good.

I’ve been pretty busy lately starting a business and haven’t had much time to get into debates. I’m also just weary of it all. What’s with all the debating anyway? Why do we do it? Why do we share all the articles and all the memes? (Why am I writing this blog post?) I believe at the root of the ‘whys’ there is this. We want to change someone’s mind. We want to convince someone that they should stop believing what they believe and start believing what we believe.

The problem is it never works. It never works! I know this. You know this. But we keep doing it anyway. We argue that the other side has the facts all wrong. We present them with the real facts. We go back and forth this way, and the only thing that changes is how angry we are.

What I see happening is a whole lot of yelling and not a lot of listening. The less we feel we are being heard the louder we yell. Vicious cycle.

So what’s the solution? Should we stop discussing politics. I know I have often defaulted to silence. But I’m going to try something else for awhile. I’m going to try to build connection. Here is the formula that I will attempt:

  1. Listen. Actually listen and try to understand where this person is coming from. I don’t have to agree, but I do need to listen.
  2. Look for common ground and highlight the points I agree with.
  3. Speak my mind, but do it kindly. No name calling etc.
  4. Acknowledge the humanity in the person I disagree with. Make sure they know I see them for more than their political beliefs.
  5. Understand that even if I have the best of intentions, my comments may be met with defensiveness. It’s up to me to then diffuse the situation or end the discussion.
  6. Admit when I’m wrong.

If you catch me slipping up, call me out on it. I suspect I will have an easier time with conservatives than I will with my 4 year old, but you never know. I may need your help.

Photo Credit: The Purpose of Argument by jon collier is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

 

To My Friends Who Voted for Trump: I Don’t Understand You, but I Love You.

The truth is I am mourning today.

When I began yoga teacher training in July I read a brief overview of the Eight Limbs of Yoga. The first limb, the yamas, govern our relationship with others and the world. My teacher asked that I pick which of the five yamas came easiest to me and which was the most difficult. I chose satya, or truthfulness, as the easiest.

I have really grappled with this throughout the presidential campaigns. Because satya does not just mean to tell the truth. It means to speak the truth in a kind way, even when it’s difficult. It also means to understand when it’s best not to say anything at all.

I’ve had to block friends on Facebook because their angry political posts upset me too much. I know everyone has. I’ve probably liked and shared posts that are less than kind. Some have probably blocked me.

Many of my friends began Facebook posts with, “I don’t usually post about politics, but…” as if avoiding the topic is something to brag about. I probably did too. And I understand why so many do avoid the discussion. We don’t want to be that angry person. We don’t want to create rifts in our relationships.

Yet often we are that angry person. Even if only among like minded friends or inside ourselves. And I get that too. I feel that. Today I must acknowledge that. This election was an angry one. No matter what side we were on.

Where do we go from here? How do we connect? I mean, really, how do we do it? I hope that most of us at least recognize that we must listen to those we disagree with. We must really listen. We must see each other as human, as complex beings, with storied lives that build and influence our beliefs.

BUT HOW DO WE DO THAT?

I watched the clip of Trump casually alluding to the 2nd amendment people taking care of Clinton. I saw the video of the unfiltered voices at Trump rallies, full of racism, sexism and discrimination against other religions. People say they like how Trump “tells it like it is” so I’m not going to lie. I think to myself, “What the fuck is wrong with these people???”

Is this really “how it is”? Is this who we are as a nation? Racist, sexist, violent and angry? Angry, yes. We are angry. I am angry.

How do we fix this? Really, I am asking. How do we fix this?

I am asking this of myself today as I grieve. We overlooked a segment of our population that is hurting. Instead of pointing at them with a finger of “wrong” it’s my responsibility to listen and attempt to understand. I do not agree. I will never agree with this kind of behavior and ideology, but they are desperately yearning to be heard and we must listen.

And to my friends and family who do not sound like the unfiltered voices. Those of you who didn’t really like Trump but voted for him anyway because you couldn’t bring yourself to vote for Clinton, because placing conservative values on the Supreme Court was too important to you, because you wanted a change.

Here is my truth. Here is my best attempt at practicing satya.

I see you as more than your vote. I see you as mothers and fathers, loving and caring deeply for you children and families. I see you as friends, opening the doors to your homes and hearts, offering a shoulder to cry on. I see you as disciples, devoted to serving a higher good, passionate about bettering yourself and living a life that aligns with your values. I don’t always understand you, but I see you. I see and love your whole and beautiful self.

And I ask you. Please. Let’s get to know each other better. These sides of ourselves that we often hide for fear of discomfort. Let’s work together to end the hate. Let’s make that our top priority in all things.

Photo Credit: School diversity many hands held together by Wonder woman0731 is licensed under CC by 2.0.