I do so declare, JMJ. Written, and signed after a test. I do so declare, to Jesus, Mary and Joseph, I did not cheat on the test. Written and signed, years ago, in elementary school. It meant honesty, reputation, with a zero tolerance accountability.
Today, I do so declare to my body, mind and spirit, to be true to me. True, to Spirit, the source of joy, wonder, forgiveness and sacredness of my being.
If you want to blame me for every red light that gets in your way ~ I do so declare zero tolerance.
If you expect me be responsible for your social aspirations ~ I do so declare zero tolerance.
If you charge exorbitant prices and expect me to be loyal to your extravagance ~ I do so declare zero tolerance.
If you expect me to look like Barbie, work like Rosie the Riveter and appear in the bedroom like a lingerie commercial ~ I do so declare zero tolerance.
If you expect me to believe in the commercially spouted news ~ I do so declare zero tolerance.
After all, life, whether you consider it one long test, an adventure, or opportunity, the promises we make to ourselves, for ourselves, are the promises we are held accountable for.
The mind, the messages
To the feelings
There is value in knowledge
Only after feelings are acknowledged and heard
Raw, honest, humorous
Before they are rationalized
Categorized or judged
Illusions of control
Find the wonder
Experience the mystery
Leaving the opportunity for new growth
So the plant will be stronger
Still connected to what has been cut
Benefiting from the selected cutting
Even amputees remember the physical connection
Through phantom pain
What we see is not everything that exists
What we feel is not everything relating to us
We are connected to our ancestors
Through their abundance
As a result of their pruning
We are connected to generations yet to be
By what we leave behind
By what we nurture
There will be a time we are not seen
When we are only felt
When what we leave behind will
I feel her skin
as she rests next to me.
I hear her breath
and sense my truth is foreign to her.
She sits next to me
aware of my voice.
I question the truth she expresses.
The differences between us are more than visual.
Our experiences are as vastly different as Jupiter and Neptune.
I breathe out, aware that the air from our bodies intertwines
reminding me of our similarity.
As essential as the water surrounding our planet.
reminding me of our similarity.
As promising as the sunrise.
Air, in and out,
reminding me of our intention to
Accept with love
I know, if I wrote a list, completed the task, I would have that satisfying sense of achievement as I crossed it off the list. It’s not that I don’t value lists, I seem to have an aversion to using them on a regular basis.
I look at the blank paper with words in my head waiting to be written. Vegetable starter plants, mangoes, hardware to repair porch. I am certain if I don’t write the items down they will be forgotten the minute I walk out the door of my home. So, what is my aversion to making my life easier?
I wrote the items on the paper, creating a list. Then realized I wanted to include the purpose of the list:
make eye contact with the cashier and compliment her/him
buy an extra starter plant for my neighbor who has talked about having a garden
leave a few minutes early to drive down the street with the lilacs in bloom
when selecting produce, take a few extra moments to thank the farm workers and pray they are safe and valued
I move through the day, sometimes relying on lists, sometimes avoiding directions. One item I want written on my heart, is ‘we are all connected’. Whether my list includes cabbage, miso, peppers, saffron or collards, we are connected. To be connected is a value staple that I always want on my to do list.
On my early morning walk, when I reach the traffic light, I have the choice of pressing the button to cross. It’s the same decision I have later in the day, when the road is filled with cars moving from place to place.
Early in the morning, when the quiet is loud, when the color of the sky is emerging, the traffic light stands out more as an intrusion. Later in the day, when movement is based on work, appointments, schedules, the beauty of the sunrise is overpowered. As people drive, talk on their cell phone, grab a bite to eat, the traffic light becomes essential to the pace of life.
There is a freedom in the morning, before the demands of the day fill my head. There is no need to push a button to stop traffic, to change the pace of my stride. Later in the day, when I become too busy to remember compassion, forgiveness, joy, I reach for the button in my heart to slow the intrusions in my mind.
The first book I was allowed to write in caused confusion.
The ones before that were absolutely forbidden to be marked, defaced, altered or folded in any way. The words were finite, and no further editing was permitted. Fines for writing in the book would be enforced.
I had held books that had writings in the margin. My father’s college books. He was a man, so he had permission to do what he wanted. When I bought my first college book, and was encouraged to write, highlight, with my own book, I was lost as to what to contribute to a book that clearly had all the answers.
It was easier for me to be lost in the words “write on your heart”.
How could anything I write have importance?
Somehow, between the margins of false identity, I did come to believe both that I was powerless, and that I had a responsibility to write.
The pages, filled with my struggle, my fears, my hunger and my freedom, were released along with the belief I was forbidden to mark, deface, alter or fold the story others were determined to have me live. The story, the false identity, the confusion was thrown out with the pages I filled.
The day I threw out my words of anguish was not the day my journal was violated. The day I took off my wedding ring and placed it on the journal that had been abused as a tool to find a way to blame me. The day I trashed the record of my fight to be heard, respected, valued and honored was the day I forgave myself for hiding the words of my truth.
The earth waits, watches, as the object glides down. The timing is unknown, yet anticipated. Grey skies, chilling wind, announce the snowflake. The symbol of uniqueness, of every snowflake being different, as unique as each individual. Or so it is said.
The breath prepares the sound, formed from feeling. I breathe, feel, and with an exhale, express my thoughts. The earth waits, listens as I exhale my unique choice of words. Each one amazingly different.
In a coffee shop, two strangers discuss the delicacies behind the glass case. The question arises, from the earth, and the breath.
“What is your favorite word?”
“That depends on the category”
The snowflake lands, melts, changing form and meaning.
“What is my favorite sounding word, my favorite feeling word, my favorite word to live by?”
The grey skies, chilling wind, create another snowflake, and the ground anticipates its arrival.
Being on the trail early means deciding details the night before. Once the clothes are laid out, alarm is set, and food is packed, the only focus is to get to the trail. The rewards are the filtered morning light, the quiet softness, the promises offered by the slow warmth, all gifts of the new day. On early winter mornings there is also a clarity in the air, a sharpness. On a recent crisp morning, walking along the trail I found myself looking up, similar to the way tourists look up at tall buildings. Different in that I was looking at the trees, in awe of the brightness from the way the sun mirrored off the icy branches. There was nothing else I needed to do, decide, or accomplish than simply appreciate the beauty all around.
The blue sky, mist rising from the river, and stunning silence offered a breather from the ongoing chatter in my head. I considered all the people gathered, roads closed, endless events, all focused on the process of one person formally, ceremoniously, beginning a second term of office. The person is a representative of the people, including me. I was aware of the seasons, of time changing, of my responsibility to advocate for all I love. I may not be the center of attention for an entire nation, and world, but in this moment I was in the center of Spirit, representing all I believe in. I do not have any term limits, campaign manager, but was acutely aware of how each moment is fragile and precious. In that moment I too took an oath, representing all I believe in and advocate for. As I ceremoniously grounded myself with my values I whispered my promise to the wind that as someone being represented I will make sure my voice is heard.
A little over a year ago I crossed a threshold. The people surrounding me were both close to my heart and anonymously shared their heart with me. The threshold is one I continue to cross, never alone, always with a grateful heart.
The physical threshold is my Habitat home. The emotional threshold, expressed with hammers, nails, lights, roof, constructed with smiles and generosity, surrounds me with the belief that I am valued. I know there are people who earn more each year from investments given to them than I make a year working at strengthening relationships. I know there are people whose car payments are more than my mortgage. I know there are people walking the streets looking for shelter. I know there are children who are starving while struggling to thrive. I am aware of, yet will never truly understand, the gap between what is valued and needed.
As I cross my threshold everyday, I give thanks.
For the smile when I lost hope
For the comfort when all I could see was hurt.
For the belief in the promise of my smile.
For the unending message that I am never alone.