Mothers on My Heart

Mothers are much on my heart this weekend: young mothers holding their babies for the first time; mothers of children with chronic care issues; mothers of children who feel different, who feel lost; mothers who are watching their children struggle; mothers who are rejoicing in their children’s successes; elder mothers who are less active and still a presence to their family; mothers who nurture the differing natures of each of their children.

I have been privileged to work with mothers who look deeply into the Big Picture of family, saints and skeletons; mothers who are letting their children be exactly where they are, though it breaks their hearts.

I know mothers who are dying; mothers in the sandwich years, pressed between care of older parents and the desire to be there for their children and grandchildren; mothers who are burying children; mothers who are caring for grandchildren; mothers who mother whatever is available, plants, animals, abandoned whatevers, because nurture is their nature.

Opening to all the ways that mothering can look, I am touched to the heart. I am in awe.

Blessing on all who mother.

And travel lightly,

Jaylene

Stay with me/Set me free

Fellow Travellers,

My dad’s been dead three years ago today. I recall clearly thinking as I knew he was dying, that I could be there with him for as long as it took, but I could not ask him to try to hang on.

The thought that kept repeating in my heart was “we live our own Life, we die our own Death.” Over and over, those words echoed. I hear them still.

Part of me is still in that hospital room where the most intense experience of Life took place. It’s imprinted in my memory, the way the room was arranged, the silenced tv, the monitors, his profile that I knew so well, the knowing that his Spirit was separating from his body with each exhalation….and everything in his Life and our family’s was soon going to change in ways I couldn’t forsee.

It’s a sacred thing to see a beloved, anyone really, to the last breath, the last heartbeat. There is nothing more intimate.  Nothing more holy.

It’s enough to hope for the paradox that someone dear will stay with me and at the same time set me free in peace….

Travel lightly,

Jaylene

“NO” with no angst…

Many of us grew up with little or no modeling for what a lively and healthy relationship looks like. As a result, because we didn’t have that model in our younger lives, we’ve been unconsciously drawn to what was familiar as we got older.  Yucky, but yet familiar!  Automatically, we still found ourselves around people whose ways of relating to others replicated what we experienced in our youth. That’s natural.

Even when it’s uncomfortable, we find ourselves in repeating patterns in relationships until our awareness of the bigger picture supports our developing new roles to play in relationships.

I’ve found, in my own life and in working with clients, that it helps to develop a few key indicators, a baseline founded on personal experience, to signal our boundaries to ourselves.  This can be particularly helpful when we’re working our way out of the old patterns and new ways of relating aren’t yet comfortable.  I call the itchy-scratchy phase!

One of my key indicators, in any kind of personal relationship, is the freedom to say NO to the other person without experiencing fear. If we have pangs about the consequences if we say NO to a person we are in any kind of intimate relationship with, it bears exploring.

It could be there’s nothing about the other person that’s threatening and it’s our own hard-wired fear that goes back to something that happened in the past that creates a knot in the throat when NO needs to come out. The past has come into the present moment with us and cuts us off from being there with the other person.

It could be something about the relationship itself that makes NO an unsafe word.  The past may have come into the present moment with us and need to be unlocked so we can allow ourselves to have new kinds of experiences. The past (where we saw parents and other influential people interact in limiting ways) may need to be cleared up, so we can let go of the automatic draw we feel toward domineering, or perhaps passive aggressive partners, or those who simply cannot see (and honor!) us as human beings with our own desires and priorities.

There’s no one-size-fits-all answer when it comes to the complexity of relationship …that’s all for us to each look at for ourselves, our own explorations. A competent therapist can help with this.

Here’s what is true for me now: When we co-create relationships where NO is a word we can say without angst, relationships where what we want/need is honored by the other person, then we’re developing mindful boundaries and have the potential for a lively, invigorating, respectful relationship.

Travel lightly,

Jaylene

P.S. I must add, and this goes for all I post here, these comments are no substitute for therapy. They do not constitute professional services. They simply are my observations and experiences, which I offer in the hope they might jog a bit of personal questioning and awareness on the part of the reader and enrich my own Life experience too.

It’s all a What-ness.

Dear Fellow Travellers,

The scent of honeysuckle and coffee whirl around me this morning. Seems a tad early in the season for honeysuckle in my corner of Mississippi, but there it is, unexpected and a bit out of time, and undeniably real, nonetheless, evidence of our mild winter.

My heart is full of …of….of…..I don’t have any words for what all is in there. Yet.

And my head is full of unformed sentences that haven’t gelled yet either. Threads hanging free on one end, yet on the other end they’re attached to a “something” that matters to me. They flutter loosely —questions and wonderings and ponderings about grief, complexity of relationships, gray areas, brokenness, co-creating, legacy, addiction,grand-parenting, death, intimacy, breaking rules, the outsider/rebel role, shadows, attachment to what doesn’t work (and to what does….hmmmm, what’s that about?), sorrow, bliss, the ineffable…..all those open ends flutter on the honeysuckle-scented breeze.

Yet, all those flapping threads come from the same place and, I am pretty sure, are intertwined into a whole. I hear my grandmother’s voice speak in my own voice: It’s all a “what-ness” she’d say, with that pragmatic shake of her head, and a barely there wry grin.

A What-ness. A What-ness???? It seemed to be an entity, the way she said it. My younger self always meant to ask her, “Mama Hazel, what in the world is a ‘what-ness’?”

But, if I’d asked, I couldn’t have understood then. Even if she’d wrapped up a “what-ness” up in gift paper and tied a bow on it, it was beyond me.

This NOW is a WHAT-NESS. Reality. The whole paradoxical agony/bliss of Life that defies explaining and asks simply to be Lived into.

And Living into it, the mere act of writing this blog this morning, fills in the blank:
My heart is full of …of….of…..A What-ness. It’s a reality as real as the lightness of honeysuckle and the depth of death coming out of their expected season.

Thanks for the wisdom, Mama Hazel. It’s all a What-ness.

There it is.

Travel lightly,

Jaylene

Good morning, Fellow Travellers,

My now experience of Patience: Allowing My Life changes to unfold at their own pace. Allowing others to be where they are.

This is not the version of “patience” I was taught growing up. Oh no no! The patience of my parents was a pushy, active sort of waiting, which confused me and seemed to require an inordinate amount of energy.

So of course, that’s exactly the kind of patience I practiced for most of my Life.  That’s the only pattern I had, til therapy, meditation, different friends, new readings, mindful artwork, entered my world.

Ms. Pushy Patience. That could have been my nickname.

Sigh…yet trying to make changes happen on my own schedule consistently backfired on me. Always backfired.  I’m judicious when it comes to saying anything always happened, but this is for sure an italicized boldfaced always.  I kept pushing though…maybe some of you dear folks have done that a few times too?

This works better and, if wisdom is using what works better,  this is wisdom to me today: Allowing others the freedom to change (or not) at their own pace, allowing visions to become real-ized when they are ripe, allowing ourselves to do what’s within our ability to do at the moment and be at home with that, even while we have visions beyond this minute….abiding in what is, holding possibility.

Truth be told, I can’t tell any difference between “patience” and “peace” and “bliss.”  There’s a dropping of shoulders and a sigh of gratitude that all feels the same: a coming home.

One more time. There’s a coming home to today. Letting be. No urgency.  I can be both right here, right now and, in a lovely un-forced way, be my own vision for what’s unfolding, too.

Sure, I still get scared — I know I’m scared when the pushiness comes back. And it does, believe me, sometimes with a vengeance! Ouch!!

Yet, in all that human-being-ness, I feel the warmth of coming home to My Life.

Today, may I stay out of my own pushy way and let My Life — and everyone else’s — unfold.

Amen.

~~~Jaylene

Nesting in Barbed Wire

Fellow Travellers, this is my experience: LIFE IS.

There’s no blank to fill in after the “IS.” That’s it. Period. It is.

My Life’s less about being in the moment than it is being the moment.

A fair percentage of my moments are messy, and often enough, they’re glorious. And most often, they are quietly glorious in their messiness. 😉

And that’s not a bad thing.  As itchy-scratchy as it may be, to be honest with myself, I’ve never had any kind of emotional growth spurt when Life was all pristene and serene.

I’m a bit amazed (but not totally) to find myself nesting in barbed wire.

He/She/We

He: Where you headed?
She: Just out for a walk…
He: Oh, well, you’ll need some music. Where’s your iPod? It’ll make the time pass faster! And it’ll give you a beat to walk to!
She: No.
He: No?
She: No. I am not looking to rush through my Life, so no need to try to rush up time. As if I could….and the beat of my heart is all the beat I want.
He: But the music…?
She: The birds are music enough.
Long long long pause.

He: (putting the iPod down) Would you mind if I came along?

She smiled.

Children Need….

Beyond being fed and clothed, what do children need from family?

They need authority figures in their lives who own their own tears, who experience their own sorrow, who lean into their own fears—adults who mindfully express those feelings.

They need adults who passionately celebrate themselves, who celebrate the child, who celebrate what it is to LIVE.

They need adults who are in on-going process of awakening to themselves.

And to Life.

Turn the Tapestry Over in Life’s Big Picture

For my first blog post I dusted off an old Facebook note that first appeared last September … I hope you enjoy “Turn the Tapestry Over….”

It touches my “healing-heart” deeply when we do what it takes to truly know spouse and children, friends and community, because in doing that we come to know our OWN nooks and crannies. Poking around in these nooks and crannies of Life is a curious business, for beyond the cobwebs and dust layers, what we’ll find is pure mystery.

Could be glorious, terrifying, or (worse than those!) BORING! LOL

To be here for LIFE, we awake and present ourselves front and center, reporting for our own lives. We awake to this glorious messy bit of Life that we each are. And we awake to the same glorious mess in others. In being present we go beyond “knowing about” each other. We enter into the sacred space where the illusion of boundaries break down and where we see the backside of the life tapestry, showing the overall pattern, with its subtle knots and connections, each of us a speck of color linked in Life’s Big Picture.

It’s a curious person with courage who makes himself vulnerable, vulnerable to turn the tapestry over and run fingers over the tiny, but oh-so-holding knots.  Vulnerable to see the connections to designs we don’t prefer. The backside of the tapestry is where “Who am I? Who can I be?” is woven.

May we all live in the truth that in encountering our vulnerability, we also encounter our courage.

May we turn the tapestry over.