Tag Archives: life

Dark Polish

Finally, today, I can break out the fun colors.  Pinks, purples, corals, blues, and even bright happy teals.   I’m talking about fingernail polish.   For the past year I’ve confined myself to wearing only dark, dark shades.

I’ve done so as a means to mourn the death of my mother.

The traditional ways of mourning the death of a loved one have fallen by the wayside in our shiny, busy world.  I mean, I thought about wearing black for an entire year, but that wouldn’t go over so well at work because of uniform requirements as well as the nature of the job.

There was a moment I wanted (needed?) to stay home for a couple of weeks and just be sad.  I was feeling like I couldn’t contain myself and would break down into a puddle of mush any minute – I didn’t want to do that in front of my colleagues. But, of course and like most, I’m only allowed a couple days off for a family death. So I mustered the strength and with  monumental effort shoved aside all that pain, plastered a smile on my face that I was certain looked as fake as it felt, and drove myself to the high school where I worked.

I had to get creative.   I had to find a way to mark the grieving period,  a way to show respect to my mother who lived a life full of challenges yet exhibited a toughness and fierce independence, she deserved that honor.  So in my own little corner of carved out existence, I thought about some gesture that could fill the job of acknowledging my grief, at least to myself, while still going about the business of being a citizen in a frantic society.  I realized that one action I could take was to wear only dark fingernail polish until the first anniversary of her death.  I made a vow to do so.

It was indeed a small gesture, but to my surprise it was exactly the right one.  It wasn’t easy.   This decision came at the beginning of summer when bright orange or yellow would typically decorate the end of my phalanges, shouting to the world that I was ‘with it,’ and ‘on trend’ with the fashionable hues.  Besides, I am generally a big fan of  vividly colored fingertips, they scream fun!  energetic!  this is me!  Yet, there I was with mud browns, black purples, and dark blues that captured zero light and received no compliments, living out the promise I made to the universe that I was setting aside this time for my mother.

Winter came and went, including a couple of firsts that were difficult to endure:  mom’s birthday and Christmas.  It wasn’t so hard to keep to dark shades then, the weather and lack of daylight was in keeping with my mournful aspect.  But I did find myself growing weary of the same five nail colors and when I usually break out an iridescent orange in the middle of January as an instinctive reaction to missing the sun and yearning for summer, I instead slathered on one more layer of ‘Gunmetal’, but with a smile of contentment: I found it somehow healing to deny myself this small thing out of deference to my beloved mom.

Spring arrived after enduring days and days and days and days of rain.  I ran out of two of my favorite dark colors and was rotating between just three others.   On the premise of “I only have a few more months left, I don’t want to waste the money.” I didn’t purchase anything new.  I found I was okay with the narrow selection anyway:  as the anniversary grew closer, the more meaningful the memorial became.

I was able to end that memorial yesterday, the first anniversary of my mother’s death.   There’s a sense of relief in it’s arrival – all the ‘firsts’ are out of the way, I’ve survived them.  Her birthday will come and go, but none as painful as that first one without her.  I can announce to myself that I am done mourning now.  I can throw out the three remaining dark shades of polish, and keep bright happy colors on my quick typing fingers the rest of my days, if I want.

Grieving the death of a loved one is work.  It requires time and attention and the ability to step aside from life for just a moment in order to process the pain and adjust to a new reality.  The society we’ve built in the US doesn’t allow us that.  In fact, it would deny the mourning process altogether if it could.  I recall the words of President Bush after 9/11 when he urged us to ‘get back to normal’ as soon as possible.   After the loss of a loved one, there is no normal as we know it.  We MUST have time to reflect and assimilate our new life.  Anyone who has denied themselves the room to grieve will attest that doing so only makes it worse to deal with later, or it solidifies into a mass of anger which no one can identify.  In our current society, we have to be strong and rely on our ingenuity and adaptability for ways to mourn the departed while still functioning at the hundred-ten percent capacity required by the system. Maybe its a once a week trip to the Synagogue that you normally wouldn’t take, maybe it’s a black tie that can be worn every Wednesday, maybe it’s a black curtain in the kitchen window, maybe it’s strictly dark nail polish for a year.  Whatever the solution, there still remains the ability to set aside holy time for a loved one, in some way, that enables the healing process.  I encourage you to find one that works for you if ever the unfortunate need arises.

Yours,

Frankie

 

Advertisements

Resurrection Realization

With the knowledge that much of the world is celebrating a well known hero and his resurrection story today, I’m taking time to reflect upon the ways that we can apply the story to our lives, even if we don’t spend time in a church pew or singing holy hymns.

In Joseph Campbell’s “Hero’s with a Thousand Faces” we learn that over the relatively short span of our existence, we humans have been really good at consistently telling the same story over and over and over again:  We are born, we face trials, we die and go through hell, we are resurrected.   Campbell says the archetypal steps of the story line give us inspiration for our own trials and tribulations:  Who doesn’t go through hell when a loved one is lost?  Who isn’t faced with guilt or shame when a divorce occurs?  How many of us come face to face with our dark selves in the caves of awareness and must wrestle our own demons there in order to escape?

Life is suffering. “Life is pain, Highness. Anyone who tells you otherwise is selling you something.” Yet the human spirit is amazingly resilient and repeatedly has shown strength in the face of great adversity.  This is the miracle we can celebrate today – that we come out on the other side of our descent into hell.  We triumph over grief, we become better partners in our next relationship, we figure out ways to accept and then overcome our weaknesses. We resurrect ourselves, consistently and perpetually .

We echo this sentiment in our cultural story telling.  Our heroes endure isolation and hellish torture, overcome their adversaries, and are ultimately stronger than before. They provide inspiration to us as we go about our daily lives so that when we do endure suffering, we can have hope in the fact that if our heroes have made it out alive and more powerful, then so can we.

So even if we aren’t subscribed to the religion celebrating the hero story of the day, we can still reflect on our propensity as humans to muddle through whatever hell life might throw at us, and our ability to resurrect ourselves to live once more.  We can also be grateful for the strength and resiliency inherent in our spirits to do so.

Yours,

Frankie


My Hero

Emerge from a grave of darkness,

That you thought would never end.

Writhing pain and torment kept you

bound there, and emitted the illusion of

hopelessness and death.

You sought help, and though it was slow to

answer your pleading, it came and confused

your captor.

The assistant was not the ultimate

savior, you see, rather the tools she gave you to

strengthen your own resolve became the

keys to freedom.

You sit in this hell for a while, and sharpen these

devices until they are deathly.

Then, set yourself free.

Self – control, meaningful meditation, deeper

understanding of your own weaknesses,

Allow an escape, once and for all from the

darkness.

Triumphant, born again with fortitude that evaded you before,restingplace

 

You will now walk your path without trepidation.

You have a quiver dressed with arrows to deter future captors,

And a soul covered with armor to protect from further attacks.

You are stronger, more alive, more

determined.

You have become your own hero.

 

 

 

 


Memory Games

Oh memories!

Snapshots of going places,

Recollection of shared laughter,

Connective moments of time –

Weave their threads through my soul

with indifference as to their deposit.

Yet when I reach back to effect a withdrawal,

I am met with a bittersweet welcome.

Shiny and cherished, those memories

Tug nostalgically at the heart:

“That was a quaint time.”

“Wasn’t it a beautiful day?”

“My babies were little once.”

Turn the past psychological pictures over and see

How their initial viewing changes

To one of pride and treasure:

“I am glad to have had that time.”

“That day will always stay with me.”

“My babies are fine young men now.”

Memory Games.

The twofold experience of pain and pleasure.

 

 

 

 


“Hey Girl” A Lesson About (Self) Compassion

It’s a rough world.   Life is hard.  There are no guarantees. So, we need each other.  We need others to let us know it’s going to be okay. We need someone to sit beside us and hug us and validate our fears, our failings.  That’s why we have friends and why we take care of each other.

The song “Hey Girl”, out on Lady Gaga’s newest album puts this notion to a musical twist.  It’s a collaboration with Florence Welch and the track is musically reminiscent of Elton John’s ‘Bennie and the Jets” with a hit of a bridge containing some heavenly harmonies.

But, as usual, I look for the deeper meaning and found that the song works well when you sing it to yourself…

“Hey girl, we can make it easy if we lift each other…Hey girl, we don’t need to keep on onein’ up each other…If you lose your way, Just know that I got you..” is some powerful stuff to hear yourself tell yourself.

I’ve recently been turned on to Dr. Kristin Neff’s work concerning self-compassion.  It’s about becoming a friend to yourself, instead of the critic that we all grow up with.  You know, that self-talk which typically admonishes and scolds, instead of helping and caring.  It takes work to change that gig around, to come to the rescue of your self in a moment of hurt or anger.   Most of us go right for the throat of our selves:  “If you made this choice instead, you wouldn’t be in this mess,”  “You deserve this because (fill in the blank).”  “Why can’t you figure this out?”

But – what happens when we approach our self from the side, with an arm around our soul and a voice soft with support?   “Hey girl, if you lose your way, just know that I got you.”

Magic happens.

Suddenly, we become our own best advocate.  Think about how we will pretty much drop whatever we are doing and go help a sister.   Now consider how that same energy can be channeled into self-compassion as we learn to drop everything else and go help ourselves. There’s a peace that is acquired.  More than that, there is a kind of neutrality that can empower a person.   If I know I can comfort myself for my deepest, darkest wounds, then no matter who comes at me or what stands in my way, I will muster through because I know that I ‘got myself’.   I know that I can come to my own rescue.  I know that even if I am experiencing the worst imaginable pain, I can be my own source of solace.

Yes, it is hard.  Damn this life is difficult.   But there is a way to manage, and it begins with self-compassion.  Try it out, at least once….”If you lose your way, Just know that I got you.”

Yours,

Frankie

 


Election Reflection: Turn Inward

This was intended to be a general ‘life is rough’ article, but as events unfold and we reel from the recent election, it seems prudent to change the angle a bit.

I mean, after all, we are a hurting nation at the moment.

Many fear for the security of their lives since it has been threatened, and like most humans, allow their ‘fight or flight’ instinct to overcome reason.   I understand the protests.  I will never condone the violence.

Many are in shock at the idea that a bully could have garnered enough support as to be elected to the highest, most respected office in the land. They are concerned about international politics and fear permanent damage to allied relationships  as well as world economic functions.

Many are happy.   They wanted change (I completely understand this sentiment) and they got it.   Whether it plays out in their favor or not, time will tell, currently the president-elect is filling his cabinet with very cozy Wall Street employees so I personally don’t hold out any hope.

Some are gloating.  In my hometown a high school student was passing out home made ‘deportation notices’ to the minorities in his classes.   An elementary lunch room in Michigan was the scene of chants of “Build that wall,” instilling fear and shame into Latino children.

On top of all this, we each have our personal problems to deal with.  A friend of mine is a recent widow.   Another friend just lost her sister.  My niece is bound for lung surgery this week.   Someone, somewhere is going through a divorce.  Someone, somewhere was just betrayed by their best friend.  Someone, somewhere is dealing with a child who is struggling with a heroin addiction.

Life is pain, meanwhile we must be kind to ourselves.

What does that mean?  It means giving the world some space.   We can’t control everything (we can control very little) so quit trying to control everything and turn inward towards yourself.   Allow  yourself to validate your own feelings, allow yourself to accept shortfalls as part of the human experience rather than some defective character flaw, allow yourself to just be and gather strength from ‘mental stillness.’   It is empowering.

Go for walks. Getting in touch with nature never fails to put things into perspective.   The

mtshasta

photo credit to the author 11/09/2016

leaves are turning and littering the earth right now, another summer is over, another cycle consummated, time goes on, we are but a mere speck within it’s marching.  In this bigger picture, our troubles are less taxing.

Meditate.  Shut out the world, listen only to your breathing.   Connect with the universe as a part of it, not separate from it.  Speak gently to yourself.

We must be kind to ourselves at this moment as we reflect on the election and what it means to us personally,  so that we have the capacity to be kind to others.

There are many who need it.

Yours,

Frankie


Live, While I Wait….

I am

In space.

My energy freed from a fragile shell of skin and bones.

I am.

More than I’ve ever been, I am now.

Time is of no consequence,

It’s iron chains no longer weigh upon my conscience.

Part, now, of the infinite universe.

Free as I once was, returned to my original state.

live

photo credit to n a s a

No longer tied to a planet,

No longer driven by the sun.

Holy stillness.

Peace, pure and perfect.

Silence, beautiful and consoling.

This is the death that awaits me,  and I live for it.

 

 


Promises

Losing a child is an unfathomable event, but these things I promise you:

You will feel like your body has failed you.  It hasn’t.  And someday it will prove this to you.

You will feel as if the darkness inside has no end, and no matter how bright the sun, there will never be a light in your heart again.  But the darkness will eventually give way to light, time is your friend.

You will feel that you will never be able to manage a genuine smile again.  A day will come, though, when that smile crosses your face and you realize you have survived somehow.

You will feel like no one can understand your pain.  You will be right, but there are those who would at least help carry it for a minute.  There are those who will at least validate your heartbreak.

You will feel robbed, indeed you have been.  Yet, there are gifts that arrive with the pain – deeper understanding, greater appreciation of joy, the ability to live in the moment.

You will be tempted towards bitterness, it can’t be helped.  The human spirit however, is strong and resilient, you will be able to find peace instead.

You will be angry.  It’s okay.  There is nothing fair or right or just about this, anger is justified.

You will die inside from grief, but I promise you will live again one day for happiness.

 

 


Brevity

A moment

To smile

Tell our tale

Wipe away a tear

Short life

Performed in an instant

Born, create, die

Smallest of dots

On a scale of grandeur

We are

Reduce to the bare

What is left?

A minute

To do and become

Breathe and observe

Appreciate and indulge

Brief

Work this gig…

With all your might.

 

 


Cycle Bound

Every thing is cycle bound.

The sun is burning, churning out atomic warmth powerful enough to induce life on a barren land far away. Omniscient enough to provide the light required to produce energy, food for every living being.  A star, born in the fire of our universal beginnings, its days are numbered in accordance with the delicate balance of its core. Then, blast!, a nova, a white dwarf corpse. Finite. But billions of years worth of life.

There is the rock I hold in my hand. Millions of years of layers I can feel with my fingertips, see with my eyes.  What tales they could tell!  Forged by the pressure of nature, it will be ripped apart by wind and rain; or lapped up by the ocean, dragged down to the depths where it’s forced under a tectonic plate, melted there like Sauron’s Ring and spewed out again someday to become a layered trifle once more. Finite.  But millenniums worth of life.

Every thing is cycle bound.

The tree that gives me shade has been for hundreds of years now.  Her branches reach out then follow gravity down, providing a canopy that gives more than one kind of soul shelter from the rain.   Her rings would belie her age and give away her years of famine, years of plenty.   She would fall one day, becoming one again with the earth that fed her, to feed another.  Finite.  But centuries worth of life.

A human life resounds as well, with decades as boundaries for its duration.  We pass on our genetics, but more.  We create, make things out of other things, pull characters and pictures out of thin air, we reason and analyze, progress, advance.  Until the body wears down and its soul departs for an unknown existence.  Finite. But decades worth of life.

Every thing is cycle bound.

Man’s best friend fills a place in our soul like no other and if we’re lucky we get a dozen or so years of unmitigated affection. A companionship that mystifies and deeply satisfies, a love story of the profound kind. A partnership imperative to both parties; total mutual dependence.  And then a limp, a slowing down, a greying muzzle. Finite.  But years worth of life.

Bees, like the bearing beam to a house, support the weight of a specific niche in the ecosystem. Our lives rely on their consistent ability to pollinate. Because of them we eat; fruit, nuts, and vegetables.  Queens may live three to four years, workers live for months; days compared to other cycles, yet crucial days they are. Finite.  But days worth of life.

Every thing is cycle bound.

Millenniums or centuries. Decades or days.  Every thing is cycle bound. Perpetual motion, beautiful in its own way.