Tomorrow is the US Presidential Inauguration. I am having a hard time believing that Donald Trump is becoming the US President, that he was voted in. And yet, it is so. What concerns me most? The divisive way he sees and talks gives others permission to do the same, to pit group against group, to use anger and hatred as the path to what they desire.
I say to this–I Am A Contrary!
I am a contrary. Much of the society and material world I live in tries to tell me all is divided, labelled, specified, separate. It tries to say I am separate from you, from the water I drink, from Raven chuckling in the fir outside my window, from the ground I walk on, from the smooth grey stone I hold in my hand.
Not so. I see, I know, I feel all life, this world, everything as one whole being, one energy, constantly connected, breathing one breath, all flow.
I am a contrary. The material world tries to teach me to see only polarities, black and white, either-or.
But I see pattern, illumination, both-and. I see richness and range. As a child growing up and as an adult living in an either-or world, I remain knowing I am the stars, the sky, the earth water wind, the grey stone, Raven, the fir tree. I am you. I am and we are, both-and.
I am glad I am a contrary. Because of this, I know all is one. I get to see the one whole beauty underneath all of the pieces of this divided material world. I get to see the beauty and the heart living within each person I meet.
I get to see the hearts each of us carries. I don’t just mean the unique shining heart each of us is. I mean every one of us is covered with hearts, all sizes and every colour, one pinned onto us by each person who loves us. We move through life covered, carried, loved, connected by all these hearts.
I’ve been reading about vulnerability in Brene Brown’s book Daring Greatly. Her words have me feeling and remembering.
Growing up, no one told me that strength included vulnerability. If they did, I didn’t hear them. Maybe the people around me did not know this either.
Growing up, I was taught that being strong meant holding back my feelings from public view. Show a calm, controlled front. Always pretend everything is okay. I became so good at this, even I didn’t know what I was feeling sometimes.
I kept pushing my feelings away. I thought I was getting rid of them. Truth is I was storing them behind a fence of ‘okay’.
This is not the way to live. I knew it, but did not know how to be different.
Things changed when I was twenty-one. I began the relationship with my future husband. He saw my heart behind the fence, and he loved it, and he wouldn’t let go.
Something in me knew it was time to build a gate. A skinny gate at first, but enough to let me say out loud for the first time in my life, to someone, I love you.
I was terrified saying it. This was laying myself open, a direct path to hurt me and reject what I offered. Despite all of the loving actions and words Lyle had given me, I did not trust I was truly worthy of love. I didn’t much love myself, so how could someone else love me?
I could not say ‘I love you’ to Lyle as a statement. I said it like a question needing the right answer.
He said it. He said I love you. He answered. To me.
Love made the gate in my fence. Love and the courage to love. I don’t know where the courage came from, and the ability to hear the voice that whispered inside me, ‘do this’.
I knew this was a choice, to stay with fear or to step forward to love. I knew Lyle saw me differently than I saw myself. He saw a world that did not require fear, and he saw me in this world braver than I saw myself. Maybe this is how my courage appeared. His vision sparked my belief, and my belief sparked courage to arise, be seen, and claim out loud my ability to love.
Lyle showed up for me when I needed someone to help open a way through the fence I had built around myself.
Lyle told me how he felt and what he saw in me. But louder than the words were his actions. He treated me as a person of great value, who had gifts to be seen and shared.
He believed in me.
This is what we do for each other. We see the best in the person standing before us, even and especially when they can’t see it themselves. We believe in them. We say ‘let’s do this together’.
We all have the gift and possibility of being a Believing Mirror for the person standing before us. We just have to choose to see that in ourselves, and be vulnerable enough to offer it to someone else.
‘I believe in you.’ Words as precious and important and life-changing as ‘I love you’.
Lyle and I have been together thirty-seven years. We have a son to be proud of. My fence? It shows up sometimes as a ghost of itself. Old habits, old patterns of thinking and reacting, reminding me where I was, and showing me where I am now. I pat it kindly, and thank it for keeping me safe at a time when I thought I needed protection. Then I walk around it.
Lyle, I love you. Happy Father’s Day.
In this post:
Brene Brown, book Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead, Avery, 2012. http://brenebrown.com/
I loved school and I believed in school, so I got myself accepted to university and started my Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. I thought courses and a diploma and those letters, BFA, after my name would make me an artist.
I thought being an artist came from outside. Like being knighted. I dub thee ‘Artist’. One of my art teachers would surely tell me, ‘’Cat, you are an artist.’’
All through that year, I hoped someone would see me, the artist me. I didn’t say it out loud, or whisper it. I never wrote it down on paper or the covers of my sketch books or a bathroom wall. Tell me I’m an artist.
I was so desperate for this, it must surely have been printed across my face. It must have leapt out of every piece of art I created (both the amazing and the dreadful) and every essay I wrote.
It didn’t happen. No one said these magic words.
I left the Fine Arts Department after that first year. I got my diploma in Business Administration instead, and went to work for the government.
My studio work table has been invaded by Minions. Well, one Minion, to be precise. His name is Kevin. He is eating a banana and smiling, his yellow cheeks bulged out on one side. Evidently it’s a good banana.
Kevin is only two inches tall, but his effect on me is in the exponential multiples. You know, ten to the millionth power plus.
This is why.
Kevin makes me smile. Makes my insides laugh. He gives me joy, every time I look at him, standing there on my projects pile.
His smile is pure smile. There’s nothing behind it and nothing attached to it. No agenda. Very simply, he’s happy and he’s letting me know that.
I love it when I meet someone who is pure smile. Not only their mouth smiles. It’s all over their face and all over their body. They are unabashedly happy and they are radiating that happiness like an August morning sun. Brilliant. Blazing. You can’t not feel it.
Smiles like this, full body smiles, are contagious. I meet someone who is smiling full-on, and next thing I know, I am beaming back at them. No matter how I feel before I meet them, they change me by the time we part.
We don’t even need to stop and talk. I can pass them on the sidewalk, share smiles, and be changed in seconds.
That’s how powerful we are, when we are in full-on, pure smile. We can change the world. Just by smiling.
Go for it, Kevin. Show me your smile. Invade my world.
I wake up happy this morning. Love it when this happens. I am warm under my comforter. (Perfect name, that—comforter.) Along with happy I feel deliciously lazy, rested. There is sunlight against my bedroom blinds, and shadows of trees getting pushed and shaken by the wind.
It isn’t even a choice this morning. I didn’t have to stop and deliberately, consciously, meaningfully choose happy. Happy just is.
I could be this forever. Right now always.
Peaceful. Settled. Nothing niggling at me. Body and head all comfortable. Heart and spirit peaceful.
I fell into happy this morning, even before I woke up.
Such a gift.
It feels like waking on the first morning of summer vacation. Though my calendar tells me today summer is passed. It is the Fall Equinox, and Yom Kippur, and Mabon. A blessing day today. Balance. Full. Perfect.
I am sitting at my work table now, in my studio. Vince Guaraldi and David Benoit and George Winston playing piano for me, Charlie Brown music. Watching the wind pull and push at the aspens and the firs. The aspens have become gold this past week, brilliant against the blue sky and the dark of the firs. When their leaves fall, we will have Dorothy’s yellow brick roads everywhere through the woods around the house.
I stand barefoot in a land of white mist. An Elder appears in front of me and offers me a drum.
I hold the drum in my hands. I know it brings power. Calls the lightning and thunder. On the skin of the drum sits Bear, sticking out his tongue at me and laughing. Power and joy and light.
I look up. The Elder is gone.
An Elder rises from the earth in front of me and hands me a drum.
The drum is small, barely six inches across. It moves in my hands, sings to me. This drum is heart and love. Hummingbird flies on the skin of this drum.
I look up. The Elder is gone.
I stand barefoot. Before me I see blue water, green hills, red earth, bright sun. The wind moves round me, playing, whispering.
I am standing in my heart, power and joy and light in one hand, heart and love in the other. Hearing the wind whisper to me–Love is your power, Your power is love.
I wake. The sun shines through my bedroom blinds. The palms of my hands and the soles of my feet are tingling. I feel the drums in my body. I feel Bear standing behind me, paws on my shoulders. Hummingbird by my right ear, weightless. The drums sing inside me.
I read today that Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy are breaking up their relationship.
I feel sad.
And then I laugh because Miss Piggy and Kermit are Muppets, not human beings. They are imagination and dreams, fabric and foam. My head tells me this, laughing at my silliness.
I laugh again, because my heart knows full well that the divine Miss P and her equally heart-elegant Kermy are very real. They are dreams made true.
My heart is wiser than my head. My heart doesn’t care what the world says about dreams and dreamers and imagination and pretend. That they are not practical, don’t exist, all airy-fairy silliness, false.
Dreams and dreamers and imagination and pretend are real. They are the spark, a bit of light peeking through that opens into something new. They are love, passion, and joy playing at what is possible. When I daydream about what I love and gives me joy, then ask what is possible, I am always answered.
I see my dream open up, adding to itself here and there, growing in detail. Possibilities. Spark attracting more sparks until the dream becomes idea. A true possibility that I can act on, step by step, create real in this world.
Start here, try this, Source whispers to me. And I do.
This is where Kermit and Miss Piggy come from. Sparks. Jim Henson and all who worked with him and all who continue to be Muppet dreamers believers creators. The sparks that keep popping into dreams, into pretend and play. That are seen and felt, loved and laughed over, imagined bigger. Step by step created real.
This is why I know the Muppets are real, and why I am sad for Miss P and Kermy and their break-up. Why I hope with all my heart they get back together again. They are friends and family. All the Muppets are. I love them. They are a gift, given by dreams and dreamers and imagination and pretend.