A Note About Your Wings

You know some of beautiful quotes about everyone being born with wings?  In fact, one of my favorite is by Rumi, “You were born with wings, why do you prefer to crawl through life?”   Well, I believe that is partly true. You see, I never thought that I was just given a pair of wings, I never thought that they were automatically mine for the keeping.

While it is our birthright to fly, I know that sometimes you have to hand stitch your wings or put them together using blades of grass, broken string, borrowed pieces, a little chance,
and a whole lot of audacity or daring that you will do it,  that you’ll eventually fly.

Many times you will flap wild and crazy against the air
Sometimes you will be Icarus,
actually I promise you, that you will be Icarus
and face plant a few times while you think you are flying.

But the rest? Well the rest involves the surprise
the gift that if you keep at it, you will take off in ways you’ve never imagined.

Now back to the issue of your wings….you have them.  But you have to dosome work to maintain them, keep them, and try to fly.

Responsibility By Any Other Name…

saltyinSometimes I like to share information form other sources, including written pieces.  This is piece was written by a dear friend who brought up a very good point in regards to individuals who move on to create new families without settling their affairs with existing familial obligations.  In most cases, one is not able to acquire new businesses or secure new loans without resolving previous accumulated debts.  Why shouldn’t this extend to
individuals seeking to start new families?  Well, don’t just read my paraphrasing of this, you can read the letter to the editor feature in the Deerfield Valley News:
A New Marriage Proposal 
To the Editor,

Here is a marriage proposal of a different sort: A new Vermont State law requiring that individuals be in a state of compliance with existing family court orders prior to being entitled to enter into the legal state of marriage. It is a fact that the Vermont Family Court and the Vermont Office of Child Support are overwhelmed with enforcement actions against individuals who choose not to pay their Court-ordered obligations. Most of these defendants claim they are without the ability to pay. However, some magically find the funds to marry again without regard to the obligations they’ve elected to leave unmet. While these individuals claim to be financially bankrupt, I submit that they are actually morally bankrupt.

I propose that to qualify for a Vermont marriage license, applicants be required to certify that they are in compliance with existing Vermont Family Court orders. TheKnot.com and WeddingChannel.com’s annual “Real Weddings Survey” reveals that the average cost of a wedding is $28,427. If, before spending funds on yet another wedding, repeat customers of the Vermont Family Court were required to bring their existing obligations current, many ex-spouses, Office of Child Support employees, and Family Court employees might find themselves in something akin to a state of bliss. It would be almost like being in love.

Andrea K. Shader
Brattleboro

 

Ponder of the moment: What is your sweet spot?

Desha Head Shot, Close up Finding one’s own rhythm  and creating that beat is important.  Over the past month, as a result of finding creating my own melodies I was lucky enough to become engaged with Desha Peacock’s book launching event taking place this coming Friday, June 6.  Her work has involved helping individuals tap in to their sweet spot and helping them to unzip their personal rhythm from the creation of physical space to helping individuals manifest their spirit’s desire.  Still confused about a sweet spot?  Desha defines the sweet spot as “…self-defined goodness. Self-defined, meaning you get to decide what makes your life, career, home or personal style feel good to you.”

quote1813challenge quoteThere is something different that happens when you start to live from a place of your own choosing rather than just taking the script that is hand to you.   There were various times in my own life where I have tried both.  Not so surprisingly, I failed miserably at trying to live from the authenticity that was created by others for me.  Most of the time, I found myself in spaces where I had no choice but to live from the sweet spot.  Whether it was creating a spiritual path, choosing to spend five months in India when I became unemployed, or other opportunities that I created, I my sweet spot was always my own.  If there was ever a moment where it was not, I made sure to find ways to get back to my self, to my own rhythm.

photo-754216Your sweet spot is whatever you want it to be.  One thing that it is not is created or defined by others. It may be many things or it may be a very long love affair with something that is your reason for existing.   It ranges from becoming the architect of creating your space to being the sculptor that is caring your soul out of the sludge and noise of what others tell you to do.  If you have lost your way to your sweet spot, take some time to reconnect with it.  

Don’t forget to come check out the Sweet Spot Style event happening this Friday, June 6, Brattleboro’s First Home Décor Pop Up Shop + Book Launch + Art Show

Are We Stuck in Eden?: Elliot Rodger, Misogyny & Us

I am not going to make this a lengthy post, nor cover the many different angles that have already been taken by every newspaper, social media on this topic of Elliot Rodger.  At the same time, I can’t resist placing my own two cents into the netosphere, so here goes!

masculinity-word-association1Unless you were in a very dark cave without your computer, tablet, or any other gadget now-a-days, you have heard about the Santa Barbara tragedy.  Media has been reporting about Elliot Rodger, the young man who went on a revenge killing spree because of the many challenges he faced under the pressures of masculinity in American society.  This has been also evidenced by both a manifesto and a video created by Rodger in which he discusses his struggles and challenges with masculinity, dating, etc.   Over the past several days, I have skimmed various articles while taking intermittent space away from this particular story.  I wondered why I was not hungering to hear more  until it stood out like a piglet with bright pink rain boots on.  While I was sitting at my desk at work listening to the radio,  I heard the reporter say “Elliot Rodger” soon followed by a rash of other words, “mental illness” “misogyny” “masculinity”.    There it was, my piglet with bright pink rain boots, the fact that we were once again stuck in Eden playing the blame game.

Most of us are familiar with Eden.  It is the place in Christianity where humans fell from their innocence.  It is also the site of “Point the finger”  Adam blamed Eve, Eve blamed….well you get the picture.  A number of violent crimes that have surfaced over the past year have been connected with mental illness, which in some ways, has become our new poster child for blame.  However, there is something a bit different about this story—misogony and the pressures of masculinity are also on trail.

Again, I won’t rehash much of what has already been covered by The Atlantic, The New York Times,The Guardian, and many other outlets that covered this story.   However, what I do have are questions.  I am still figuring out what or how to feel about this because if misogyny or our social configurations of masculinity is what is on trial, then who is checking us at the gate?  In other words, our ideologies are by-products of us just as we are society (you know, that group we keep referring to as if we are not apart of it?).   Does blaming these intangibles ultimately remove responsibility from each and every one of us?  If we hang violent crimes upon the hook of mental illness, then does that negate our participation as accessories to some of these acts?   In other words, if we go on the treasure hunt for understanding or digging deeper into these categories of things it just reinforces the target of our finger pointing away from ourselves rather than all of us taking some level of responsibility.  I am not saying it is not worth the conversation about our harmful constructions of maleness,  and femaleness.  In fact, the twittersphere has a flurry of hashtags from women across the country sharing their stories of how they are infected and affected by misogyny.   But when we talk about this and other incidents that affect our communities, he have to remember that we don’t carry these concepts outside of ourselves, they they live within us and we are the architects of them.

A Note on Forgiveness: Part 2

Forgiveness, Freedom, and the So-Called Moral High-Road?  Another Point to Ponder

http://storieswetellphotography.com/

http://storieswetellphotography.com/

Another piece of forgiveness that I think we have all missed is the connection that has been made to freedom.  I talked about this briefly in the previous section but I never meant freedom in the traditional sense.    One of the quotes I mention at the beginning talks about setting yourself free.  As humans, we seem to be obsessed with freedom or envisioning it as a place without the darkness, without enclosed space but where are we getting this ideal?  What if the lack of forgiveness is supposed to be that which we sit with, shackled and imprisoned?   Why have we became afraid of our solitary confinement?  For one it is uncomfortable but for other reasons, it is because we have been taught to fear our dark spaces and uncomfortable feelings.  In the climate we have created, if it isn’t happy and light or “freeing” then we must stay away from it and denounce it.  However, some of the most fruitful moments I have witnessed for myself and others involved some level of imprisonment or solitary confinement.  Perhaps various things are not always supposed to be set free but instead stay within us without any expectation that they need a destination right away.

_DSC0494_newForgiveness is also worn as a badge to illustrate the fact that we have evolved and can illustrate our morality or our ascension to another place in the hierarchy of spirituality or ethical understanding.  I say it isn’t so.  In fact, there have been a couple of occasions where I either mentioned that I’d forgiven someone, or communicated to a person my feelings of forgiveness and it felt like I was sitting upon a throne gently knighting them with the forgiveness wand.  As I thought about that feeling over the years, it started to become an extension of human egotistical behavior.  The audacity that we had the power or right to bestow forgiveness upon a situation or someone and then move onto the next thing as if we have truly mended all of the complexities of human spirit within the moments of not so ideal  interactions.   It is the same thing we do with the concept of apology or the word sorry.   I started to wonder who was I to grant such a thing to another.   Then at the same time, I understand why each of us would hope that such a magic or power could be evoked in order to give us hope, or the thing which we are ever chasing-freedom.

While this forgiveness conundrum is not quite solved for me, I am not an agreement with our cultural understanding or use of it, so I sit out.  Not out of the ideas that it carries, but I am stepping away from the weight that we have placed upon ourselves and the understanding of forgiveness.  For years, I have refused making forgiveness my mule by saddling it with all of my uncomfortable feelings and expectations.   Instead, I sit with it amidst the messiness of everything else.

A Note on Forgiveness: Part 1

I don’t believe in forgiveness, or at least I am on the fence about it.  But why is that statement more shocking than many of the forgiveness clichés that most of us repeat?  You know them well,  there are many that include statements like:

“To err is human; to forgive, divine.”  Alexander Pope
“To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.”  Lewis B. Smedes

And of course, I am sure most of you are familiar with many others.  These thoughts and musings about forgiveness have been with me for years.  So as I write this post, please know that I am still working out what it means, the implications, and now including you all in this conversation or offering a suggestion that you think more carefully about forgiveness.

Like most things that I write about, I like to discuss with various peeps and engage them in my internal dialogue or see what theirs has always been.  Forgiveness has been an interesting topic because people were either shocked that I said I was on the fence, but I have had few who understood the point I was trying to make.  One of my friends made a good point by stating, “People think that forgiveness is about forgetting.  No.  It means that I will be more cautious so that I don’t become engaged in someone’s foolish behaviors again.”  She was onto something.  Whenever I have talked about forgiveness over the years, with most, it has carried the implication that it is something that one just tossed out like garbage and continued on automatically renewed and refreshed.  For some reason, whenever individuals talked about forgiveness in this way, or in the way that my friend replied (forgiving and forgetting) I wonder about the location of the complexity of the overall human spirit.   In other words, have we taken our humanity out of the concept of forgiveness?

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storieswetellphotography.com

Yesterday I went out to route 30 and taking pictures lead to a photo blog about this and more thinking about forgiveness.  What if we have gotten it all wrong?  What if forgiveness wasn’t something that we were supposed to give away?  What if the very thing we needed to let run wild within ourselves was not the compassion, forgiveness, love, or all of these other things that we are told to give out to another human beings, but instead the very things we are supposed to allow to run wild within ourselves?  In other words, perhaps it is the raw emotions that are all wrapped within the very concept we call forgiveness that we are supposed to free first within ourselves before settling any universal debt.   And by freeing, I don’t mean tossing it out and saying, “I forgive so and so, and such and such, viola!”  But instead, allowing forgiveness to run as wild as the small waterfall that I saw in the woods with its bits of rock, dirt, and other things that it carries with it as it flows.  What if we allowed forgiveness to collide with upset, regret, and the other realities or complexities of human emotion by not packaging it away as another piece of delusion?  What would happen then?

 

I Dance With My Walls….Do You?

imagesI want to use this post to talk about walls.  For years, I have played the role as the brick layer strengthening my fortress while daring anyone to advance beyond the protective structure.  This topic seemed to be a theme both in my recent conversations alongside the discovery of an abandoned house in Jamaica, VT that had a 360 degree moat around it.  It clearly tantalized any onlooker to come closer, yet you were not able to ever enter.  So, how do we keep people out with our structures?  How do we dance with our walls?  Make friends with them? Or, more importantly, how and why do we build walls?

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© Shanta L.E. 2014

During my childhood, hardening was key for survival.  For anyone who has ever dwelled in a city and/or encountered various dysfunctions within family life, you know exactly what I am talking about.  For me, the show of emotion either inside of outside of my home was always connected to danger.  Smiling too much was an invitation to unwanted attention so it was best to keep a straight face while walking down the streets of Hartford.  Or something as simple as telling the truth when someone asked “How are you?”  was always met with hard-handed chastising.  As I entered adulthood, in many ways, my armor was my protection.  Knowing how to answer a question enough to invite yet keep people out was key.  The old adage of not airing dirty laundry was a daily mantra that I still struggle with from time to time.  On the other hand, some say ‘Live out loud’, but again living out loud had a heavy price to pay depending on where you were and the specifics of your “living out loud.”

220px-BarbebleueThe open discussion of my walls is much like sitting in front of the mirror and looking into your own eyes.   It can feel uncomfortable and scary, especially if one is attempting to recognize all of the ways they protect themselves.  In this case (and for years), I have been sitting in front of a very public mirror that is reflecting me back to me.  Then again, we all are to some extent.  After many conversations I have had with individuals close to me & much pondering,  I realize that I do an amazing job of inviting people in yet keeping them out like Bluebeard’s castle.  I hand over the keys and yet there is a whole cellar that remains hidden.  For years I called this the open-book trick, you can see the cover and a majority of the book, yet the index is hidden.

image002Perhaps we are all guilty of such things, but in the process of allowing individuals to know and love you—I have always known this is not the way.  Yet, my fortress feels cozy/warm.  I have often stated that I have cut myself on the walls of others throughout the years or called through a fence to them.  However, in order to recognize such a thing, you have to be guilty of that very thing yourself (at least at times).  Of course, how could I blame anyone for not protecting themselves against she who builds walls or wears armor under an inviting evening dress?  Softening has never been a strength but I have allowed my vulnerability to play London Bridges with everyone I love and know. Of course, there are the many moments that individuals recognize such tomfoolery and call me out on it.  Whenever they did, I attempted to create prettier and cozier walls.

No.  This is not a moment of playing victim or feeling sorry for myself but just additional noticing.  A tipped hat to the ones who asked me about the coldness of my walls.  A bow to the one who warned me what would happen if I kept physically and/or emotionally fleeing from those who cared about me the most.  A thank you to the individuals who told me that I needed to turn myself off and then turn myself back on again because they wanted to see more of the me that was hiding.  Deep hugs for anyone who was brave enough to lean against my hardened walls and hurt themselves in order to communicate warmth and safety.  While I continue to dance with my walls, I must say I become more aware of them.  And over the years, in the midst of building them, I have also become willing to tear down that which I have built with my own hands.

So, I don’t have any witty or fancy answers to the questions I posted at the beginning of this post, but I leave them at your doorstep to ponder.  Or perhaps you might consider this a metaphorical graffiti tag that is only intended for your most private self to see and reveal in front of your own mirror.

Our Partners As Someone’s Child

An Angel Flies Throught the Night Sky Carrying A Child

An Angel Flies Throught the Night Sky Carrying A Child

Last week I was having a conversation with an older woman about relationships.  She was the mother of a son and she said, “I would not want my son’s partner using him as a work mule, they both should enter the relationship equally  you have to think that is someone’s child.”  I never thought of it in that way due to my own feelings or lack of belonging throughout my life.  Though we become adults and go on to establish our own households and various relationships, we are still children of someone.

What would the world look like if we remembered this?  How would relationships-intimate partnerships, friendships, etc. change if we remembered in our hearts and minds that we were engaging with someone’s child.  And most importantly, would we want our children treated in that way?