9 May 2014

The Spirit of a Mother

This post is completely unrelated to Joe Wellington. As was the last post I made. But I enjoy that this blog has taken on a form of its own, exploring life and appreciating little gifts here and there as I walk this journey. And, I guess it’s not entirely off-topic, as Joe Wellington wasn’t created out of thin air. I’m sure he adores his mama.
Lately, I find that any moment I can have to myself doing whatever I want is very hard to come by. My son is almost two and very spirited. It takes a lot of energy to keep up with him, and enough patience that would qualify me to be a Zen Buddhist monk.
So a girlfriend and I, who has a son the same age, decided to do a swap one day every week in which one of us has both boys while the other does something for herself. It may only be for an hour or hour and a half… but to me, it is a heavenly hour and a half.
This week, I was able to submerge myself into that heavenly moment of tranquility. I didn’t have a plan but I knew I was going to be able to leave my son with our friend so that I could find something to do. The weather being hit or miss, I decided to test the weather Gods and head off for a walk along the sea. I was able to sit on a bench and watch the waves crash against the sea wall for a good fifteen minutes before the hard rain fell. A sheltered bus stop gave me some relief until the wind picked up and I ran to my car.
I sat for a moment, listening to the rain pound on the car and wondered where I should go next. A café? A store for shopping? But I became mesmerized watching the rain and the hardcore, determined joggers fight their way along the parade through the rain and wind to their stopping point.
Then my stomach started to tighten and guilt tempted me to drive away and find something to keep me busy. However, knowing my son was okay, I stayed put. My stomachache increasing, I tried a quick meditation to help relax. But I couldn’t. My mind continued to think… think… and think… and I wasn’t even thinking about anything in particular. But I could not rid the guilt.
I reclined the seat back and saw a clearing in the clouds. The sun poked through for a moment and I breathed along with the racing puffy clouds above me. “Aotearoa”, or “Land of the long white cloud” is where my husband and I live, 9,000 miles away from our mothers.
In that moment, I thought about being a mum and how funny it is that I didn’t know what to do with myself once I actually had a moment to myself. Have I completely forgotten what it feels like to just sit, alone with my thoughts? Am I that attached to my son that I can’t allow myself to relax even when I know he’s in good hands? Apparently the separation anxiety goes both ways.
These thoughts led me to examine the term “letting go”. I’ve often heard the term, mostly in relation to unhealthy situations, specifically around addiction, but it is now taking on a new meaning for me as a mother. Am I supposed to start the process of “letting go” even though he is only two? How is that possible?! He still loves his little stuffed doggy, still prefers to be rocked at night, still cries for a cuddle when he’s uncertain or hurt… how am I supposed to let go?
That’s when I came to this conclusion: as a mother, I don’t think I will ever let go. I don’t know that any of us should officially ‘let go’ of our sweet little ones (even if they’re in their thirties now!). I think, as adult babies, we will always need to be loved, cuddled, and comforted by our mothers.
Unfortunately, there are some barriers (see aforementioned ‘unhealthy situations’) to this philosophy… BUT I suggest we mums look at it in a different way: How about we trust? We say ‘let go’ by trusting that someone greater is watching over our babies (even the adult babies!). We trust that somewhere, deep down, our babies will always know and feel our love. They might not be aware that it’s there, and they might not ever want to acknowledge it, but a mother’s love never disappears. This, I know. We are all imperfect beings, all of us mothers doing the best we can, wherever we are, but it is always with love.
Sitting in my car, listening to the rain, watching the waves, I relax and enjoy my time alone, trusting that my son certainly knows how much his mama loves him.
Then I think of my mom, on the other side of the world. And I get tearful when I think of her love. I get so emotional about it that I can’t even put it into words. Her love goes beyond any realm of understanding.
And I’m sure your mother’s love does, too.

4 May 2014

Uncovering Kindness

photo: AnneFrank.org

Last week I watched a YouTube clip of the US Capitol’s dedication to a sapling tree on their lawn. This wasn’t just any sapling; it was from the chestnut tree that Anne Frank gazed at while in hiding in the Netherlands during WW2.

What does this have to do with Joe "Wellington"? Not much except he was a kind soul. And because I journaled like crazy growing up thanks to Anne Frank's influence. I wrote about my time in San Francisco. Yet, no mention AT ALL of Joe. Isn't that bizarre?

I’ve always had a fondness for Anne Frank. Her story, her light in the time of such darkness is a reminder not only of an evil time in history, but for all of us to take a step back and appreciate what we have in the moment. Her diary is an inspiration to us to remember that we can control our thoughts and how we look at the situations we're in. Her message of unconditional love, no matter what one is faced with, will forever be at the core of my being.

So what does unconditional love mean? I think it’s a true gift to be able to love and respect someone even if opinions are not in alignment. That's the beauty of friendship. That's the beauty of people, in general. The beauty of life. We learn. We grow. We challenge each other to be better than we already are; we support passions; we encourage happiness; we practice forgiveness; and we provide comfort in times of sadness.

A year ago, I left a job I loved working as an addictions treatment counselor, more specifically, an assessment counselor. Not only did the clients challenge me, but also I discovered great lessons watching colleagues interact with one another. On a daily basis, I was faced with some sort of aggression. It was a very hard job to always wear protective armor to help shield against negativity while maintaining a compassionate stance. Nonetheless, I looked for something about each person that I could admire. And that was how I was able to do my work. Let me be clear that it was not easy. Even the people who spewed hatred my way or didn’t have a sunny disposition, I learned from. They were my teachers. I try to maintain this philosophy on a daily basis, even though I’m not working in the field any longer.

There are people out there who easily dismiss others because they are different from them or they say something that sounds “stupid”, don't agree with their political views, or whatever the reason. The people who cast others aside easily, I find, are perhaps just unable in that moment to allow their own vulnerabilities to surface. They're afraid to pay attention to it because it stirs something in them that causes unrest; not a fault, either. That can also be something to honor. Everyone learns in his or her own time. The perceptions we have about life and others is something that happens organically, at each individual’s own pace. It’s not something that can be forced.

Anne Frank, living in turmoil, was blessed to have a mature insight into humanity at such a young age. It was a necessity for her to seek solace in trusting that something greater than all of THIS is in charge. She held on to her faith that there is goodness out there and that we will all be taken care of. 

And she coped by writing. Her writing was her best friend.

Practice kindness. Anne’s story reminds me that kindness should be the foundation of our existence. Realistically, I don’t know if this is possible. As imperfect humans, we react either positively or negatively. What if, then, we just don’t react? What if we remain unattached to all things, even our interactions with others? I’m not suggesting inaction, I’m saying just remain neutral, honest, and open in our engagements. What if we just let things be instead of trying to control the outcome?
I’m going to challenge myself to let things be as they may and only be responsible for my feelings and actions, always with a kind heart.

Thank you, Anne Frank for helping me uncover my kindness. And thank you for allowing me this space to ramble. 

p.s. Where is Joe Wellington?

1 May 2014

No Answer

Image thanks: madam-zelda.blogspot.com

Remember the post about a month ago (Discovering Courage) in which I found two phone numbers for a possible J. Wellington? I was able to rule out one number and left with an unanswered ring on the other. My anxiety peaked at that time as I tried dialing the numbers…

Well, I’m happy to report that the second phone call was much more relaxed.

And I was still met with NO ANSWER.

Brrrrinnnng brrrrinnng brrrrinnnng was all I heard.

Not so fun (sigh).

The last few days I've been thinking a lot about Joe "Wellington" and our brief time together. I reread through my San Francisco journal, just in case there was something I missed. No luck. I've been trying to remember things that were said, things we did, and it all seems to lead me toward dead ends.

One cool thing we did: saw a psychic. She gave us readings separately, Joe waiting for me while I went because I didn’t want to walk back to the hostel in the dark alone.

I believe in the gift of clairvoyance. I have very dear friends, who I admire, who have that gift. But there are some psychics out there who give these people who have the true gift a bad name. The psychic I saw in San Fran was one of those.

She wanted my money. All of it. And she even asked me for it! After reading my cards, she said she would keep a candle burning for me until I returned with “all the money you have” and continue the reading. She was even so bold to ask me how much money I had. Of course, I didn’t tell her. If I did not return, she said she would blow out the candle and apparently I would be met with misfortune…? I can’t remember exactly what the consequence was, but I didn’t return. Maybe that’s why I can’t find Joe Wellington?

This instance is important to me now because I feel like these past few weeks I’ve had questions remain unanswered. And I don’t even know what the questions are, if that makes any sense. There is just a general, open-ended, search for meaning happening in my life right now. The Existentialists out there can appreciate that.

I’ve had horrible writer’s block. I feel antsy when I don’t write, and I want to write about everything… but nothing has been flowing. I began several posts but none felt right. I couldn’t find the answer to my non-question. Ha!

The weather change makes me feel like Thanksgiving is right around the corner but it’s only May. It brings on this intense homesickness that I can’t seem to shake and the only reprieve I find is that I know we’ll be heading to the States in only a few months. But again, that lingering sorrow just tugs at my spirit. Again, looking for answers.

Along with the homesickness, comes this aching loneliness. Lonely for what exactly, I don’t know. Perhaps, just lonely for a connection. My social life has been scattered, with friends laid up with illness, filming, or working, or just busy getting ready to hibernate for the winter. I’m constantly with my son so I shouldn’t feel lonely (?). Yet, I’m still looking for answers.

I remind myself that sometimes the answers lie in the not knowing; the uncertainty; the unmotivated; the loneliness; the insecurity. So I wait. I practice patience. I allow myself to sit with all these thoughts and pent up creative energy that is festering until it can ooze out of me at the right time. My purpose is just to enjoy all of it. Let it sit, let it float out there in the universe, and the answers will come.

As I replay in my memory the moments shared in San Francisco 1998, I wonder what the answer will be... Where’s Joe Wellington?

Me with Joe Wellington in 1998. He was real!
Brrrrinnng brrrrinnng brrrrinnnng is all I can hear in my head right now.
Maybe not having an answer is enough.