Fall Fearlessly

The Universe can gently (or forcibly) wake us up. Like a cosmic slap in the face, we snap out of our dreams and numb slumbers in a sobering instant.

Last weekend I found myself sailing head first down a flight of stairs like I was in an action movie that just went slow motion to highlight my stellar kung fu moves.

As soon as I slipped I recalled every single TV show and movie where people fell down the stairs. It didn’t look so good. They always landed in a heap at the bottom of the stairs with legs pulled tight behind them like a carnival contortionist. An arm outstretched to brace the fall, only for the elbow to be facing inward instead of out. Head cocked unnaturally sideways with a tiny drop of blood escaping their lifeless lips.

Hell no.

I decided it at stair 3.

This is not the way I’m going down.

I tucked and rolled and eventually let go. Once I finished my bumpy descent, I popped up like my name was called on The Price is Right. My arms reaching for the sky. My feet a full foot off the ground.

I made it! I’m here! I’m alive…

After several Advil I spent some time in meditation, open to the message of this terrifying event. Life woke me up.

Over the past few months I’d slowed down to the point that I was carefully walking through jelly, safely daydreaming. I was taking it all for granted. The connectedness of our existence. The magic in these moments. The fragility of a simple bathroom break that led to cracked ribs, a lopsided down dog, and some gasp-worthy bruises poolside.

That feeling of falling lingers with me haunting my summer haziness, forcing me to bring my awareness to the present and really be here. The memory challenges me… to love more than I thought possible, to give everything without question, and sometimes, even fall fearlessly into whatever lies ahead.

 

 

The Full Moon Inspires

So many mornings I wake to the most beautiful beginning… the sunrise. Life feels full of hope and wonder and beauty. It’s a gift.

Then your toothbrush falls in the sudsy sink and the espresso machine boils over spilling little grinds on the fresh white floor, a little one trails into the foyer making chalky brown footprints… there they go. You snap at the kids, grouse at your co-workers, shake from the way-too-thick cappuccino you got at the chain that you swore you wouldn’t patron, struggle consumes this abundant, blessed and somewhat annoying (for now) life of yours so you ultimately blame the full moon for this unpleasantness.

Some tweet said that if you have a pleasant day on the full moon, you’re in harmony with the Universe. If your day is full of chaos, you have some serious inner work to do. You can see how my emotional to-do list just got a few feet longer.

After I suffered through the day trying to find my way, I sat back and try to find something I was proud of today. It took a while, but I realized I confronted someone I work (an intimidating person at that) with on a few things they do constantly that make me feel dehumanized.

I spoke out. I trusted that I could speak this truth and stand my ground. I’d made some boundaries, and stuck to them without apology.

When I sat in meditation tonight it came to me that today was the perfect opportunity for me to tackle something at the top of my life tasks. Speaking up for myself face-to-face. Sure, I can advocate for another person fiercely, especially my kids, but it’s been hard for me to stick up for me. Always has been.

Today it felt like I broke through, not with them, of course. They ended up blowing me off with their reply that I was overly sensitive and didn’t understand them. In fact, I don’t understand them. That wasn’t my goal. I was trying to understand me.

The storm of chaos brought an opportunity like my morning sunshine breakfasts, and I took it.

 

Witness

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“Are you nervous?” Only a slight shrug (one arm) let me know that she was listening to me. So this is what parents of teenagers mean? But I don’t have a teen yet, do I? 

Our kids have to grow up so fast, balancing the world upon their tiny shoulders. Now new doctors, new questions, new procedures… same old pain.

I keep telling myself she’ll talk if she wants to and no one will force her to go to a place where she doesn’t feel safe, and yet… I want to fall down, scream. I feel like tearing at my clothes… scratching at my eyes. Wailing. I want to beg for things to be different. Bargain anything. Everything. If only I could make it easier for her.

Don’t force a physical exam this time, please. Don’t casually hand her the dreaded paper gown that she’s never been able to touch all these years. Don’t ask her. Don’t chat about the weather as you touch her. My throat tightens as her eyes gently close, tears falling down the corners as she turns her head away from the reality of where she is and what is happening. Don’t push her down an alley of unhappiness, this bright ray of sunshine. My baby. Don’t touch her. 

I plead in my dark, silent room tonight, and yet I know that there isn’t anything I can do to prevent what needs to happen. They need to check her to take care of her. She needs to allow it. I need to stand by and witness my child’s pain.

Let it be me.

Give me the pain, not her.

Not her.

Step aside Jen, and allow your child to walk her path. That’s what I tell myself. I whisper  with closed eyes. She’s strong, resilient, remarkable and ready.

But am I?

Spinning Plates

There are those times in life when you feel like if you sit for a moment, and stop spinning the plates, everything will come down smashing around you. And, you’ll have to clean it up. You know it won’t, of course, that nagging voice that cautions you to slow down, but the momentum is building like a child’s science project. The volcano is about to erupt on cue.

That’s life lately. Life is moving fast and wonderfully. I shifted gears in a weird way, and did some things I said I would never, could never. But I can. I must. We all do things that surprise us once in a while, I guess.

Like riding a bus, I’m shifting side to side and swaying along a path that, no matter hard I try to define, is completely obstructed. Passengers block my view. So I trust. I brace myself. And when necessary I lean on supports.

It’s taking me on a journey, and you know I’m a fearless adventurer.

Buddhists encourage us to find harmony within without ground beneath our feet. I can’t say it comes naturally, but I’ve felt this peace, and I know it’s not out there, but rather, in here for me. And you.

 

Gender Identity Reaches the Private Practice

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Once people can see, and feel, and absorb issues related to gender identity in popular culture, big changes will come. I’ve said it every time I give a talk. Television and movies allow people, in the privacy of their own home, to wrap their heads around issues that they know nothing about, for good or bad. That’s why it’s so important to have good content about gender identity, especially in kids, out there.

Imagine my surprise when my sister called me about Private Practice, a show I’d never seen, and told me that they aired a show last night about a child trapped in the wrong body. Well, you know how fast I jumped on Hulu to check it out!

This slice of life shows parents who are struggling with their child’s identity, as many parents and extended family do, and although there are things I would have changed (it’s the editor in me) it’s a solid start. No one does this life the same way. We walk different paths, and come to our realities when it’s our time.

My heart says that the best thing we as a society can do is open our hearts and our minds. Whenever possible, we can try to lower the shield of our judgment and let someone else’s story touch us as if we are walking that mile in their shoes.

Can I identify with the angry mom in the story? I don’t want to admit it, but if I’m going to be honest I have to. Maybe not the vehement reaction or the pressure to fit my child into a typical stereotype, but the fear was surely there when Hope started talking about being given the wrong body. Fear about what was happening. Fear about being “sure” before we made any big steps. Fear that I’d make a mistake and hurt my child in some way. I get the fear part, loud and clear.

But then you wake up one morning and silently watch your child as they move about the world and you see what is right there in front of you. Love and the truth trumps fear – always. You just have to summon up the courage to move past fear, and nothing inspires a parent more than the safety, happiness and well-being of their child. Nothing.

Supporting your child, no matter what they are going through, isn’t be easy. It isn’t popular. And it might be hard as hell to explain to others, but you know your child. If you truly listen, the truth is there. Your story doesn’t have to look like this show, or anyone else’s story for that matter. Each authentic path is genuine. It’s the only thing that’s real.

Tonight I sit with gratitude just thinking of the myriad of positive stories flooding into our popular culture related to gender identity and gender diversity. Now that this show aired perhaps it impacted lives across the country. Maybe someone out there better understands why their child/ grandchild fights when asked to wear a dress, or a suit. Maybe a child better understands how they can talk with their parent or teacher or friend. Maybe people who sat in judgment can see that they are just kids, same as anyone else.

I hope for a day that we don’t have to remind people that the suicide rates are 5 times greater for gender diverse kids than the national average… because these stories are saving lives.

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