It's Getting Personal

When my friend in the Bay Area texted me late Wednesday, saying, “Did you hear about the school shooting in Spokane?” my jaw nearly dropped on the floor. My immediate thoughts were, “No, not in Spokane.”

“No. Where?” I asked, wondering if I personally knew anyone who was affected. Because that’s how it is right? We want to know if someone WE know or love was impacted.

And the answer is yes.

Yes.

A dear friend of mine has been a teacher in the Freeman community for years, and in fact, she knows most of the kids in the school who were involved and impacted. She is devastated.

Needless to say, the community is reeling with grief and broken hearts. One student was killed and three others are in critical condition. It’s not only heart breaking, it reminds me that no corner of the world is “safe” and we are all dealing with the DIS-EASE of violence around the globe as a symptom of something much larger than each stand-alone incident.

I know in my own life, when I feel that DIS-EASE – when I have a fight with my husband, or a conflict with a friend, or I’m torn up by grief – I want to blame the outside. I blame the other person, I blame the circumstances, where I live, the conditions of my life. But it never helps. It feels futile and mis-guided.

When I dig deeper, I notice I just want to be loved, and sometimes I’m not going to get that from the outside world. It’s up to me to nurture and soothe myself, because no one, really, can “make me feel better.”

Often, I just have to feel the feelings and let them move through me.

So I dance.
I do yoga.
I hike.
I journal.
I make art.
I cry.

These are my ways to soothe myself, to help move the energy through. These are my ways to handle my own rage, my jealousy, my resentment, my grief, my anger.

I named the art show in Oakland, The Inclusive Divide because it’s about owning the disparate parts of myself – the good, the bad and the ugly. My thought is if I can gently love those “un-loveable” parts of myself, perhaps I’ll find enough space within my heart to be able to love those ugly places in other people.

None of us is perfect. We all have a shadow side that pops out from under the bushes in twisted ways. But the intense violence we are seeing around the world in communities everywhere is symptomatic of the shadow side of humanity and we need to find a way to heal that which is broken within all of us.

It’s not easy to look in the mirror and see, let alone OWN, those parts of myself I’d rather get rid of. I know from personal experience, it takes practice to keep loving – myself and others – and not run away. It’s a moment to moment practice.

As I close, I want to offer my prayers to the Freeman Community and to all who are impacted by this tragedy. I offer prayers for ALL people who are suffering around the world from whatever pain is moving through their hearts.

 

Here are a few good books to support your inner growth, and a TED talk by the mother of one of the Columbine High School Shooters. She talks about her journey as the mother of the shooter and the grief and despair she’s dealt with.

Comfortable with Uncertainty by Pema Chodron
The Places That Scare You Are by Pema Chodron
When Things Fall Apart by Pema Chodron

My Son was a Columbine Shooter – This is my Story – Sue Klebold

 

 


I'm practicing.....

photo courtesy of Jess Asien

photo courtesy of Jess Asien

I’m practicing not rushing.

Rushing towards nothing.

I’m practicing just being here in this moment, however comfortable or uncomfortable it is.

I’m practicing not making plans or proclamations about what “I’m doing with my life” so that I seem all together or somehow “more important” because of all the things I plan to do but haven’t yet done.

I’m practicing being in this moment. The one right here, where I notice the blanket on the couch is covered with blonde dog hair.

I look down and catch the site of my own skin on my leg. A patch that is crinkly, and crepe-like. Skin that is flaky and well, looks old. It’s skin I don’t relate to. It’s skin that should belong to an older person. Certainly that can’t be my skin? And yet it is.

I’m practicing accepting my age and how I don’t relate to the number. How I feel 30 or 35, but how my skin looks 50 something. I’m practicing not caring that I care.

I’m practicing being really present and noticing that, really, I feel the best I’ve ever felt. The most “me” the most relaxed the most "ok" with it all.

And then there’s the skin. Practicing. Accepting.

(This is an excerpt from my writing practice this morning....it's the kind of thing that comes in my writing practice called Bare Bones. It's raw, unedited, real. It's the kind of writing I love to do, and practice on a regular basis.It's the kind of writing that helps me know myself better. It's the kind of writing that then often becomes something else...thanks for reading!)