Thursday, October 28, 2010

30 days: hope to do

5/30 - something you hope to do in your life

It's been on my wish list for a long time, now. I don't know when, or how, but it is a clear and present longing, and I hope it gets fulfilled in the next 5 years:

I would like to live on the beach for two years while the boys are young.

I want a door that opens to the beach, to experience beach-front weather, to watch the tide rise and fall, and hear the waves from my bed. I want to frequent tide pools and make friends with seagulls, to find beach sand in the boys beds and rinse it from their hair. I want to make our own curriculum, follow the rhythm of the days, and I want to write a book about it.


Day 01 → Something you hate about yourself.
Day 02 → Something you love about yourself.
Day 03 → Something you have to forgive yourself for.
Day 04 → Something you have to forgive someone for.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

30 days: forgiveness of others

4/30. something you have to forgive someone for.

“The holiest of all the spots on earth is where an ancient hatred has become a present love.” A Course in Miracles

I’ve been thinking about forgiveness for over a week now. The dimensions of this practice seem so great – not only can it be an act of self-healing, but it seems like an act of creation, expansion, and allowing. Forgiveness as a force for social change… for building unity versus destruction. It requires a selfless kind of trust, a suppression of the ego, and seems to me the ultimate statement of optimism – a communication of allowing between the forgiver and the Force of creation. It is a statement of equality with others – a recognition that we are all imperfect.

It’s been a powerful mediation just to think about what we offer in service to humanity when we choose forgiveness over resentment. In fact, this meditation has plunged me into the idea of forgiveness so deeply that I wonder at its vastness. Are there hints of wrongs needed to be consciously forgiven that drag on us throughout our lives, blocking us from forward motion? Do I need to be more reflective about resentments I might be unconsciously fostering?

I don’t feel like I hold on to a lot of blaming thoughts. Like everyone, I have been hurt by others in my life; the deepest of those hurts took me years to overcome, and through that path of reflection, sacrifice, and deliberate work, I learned that forgiveness is really only the first step. Just because you forgive someone doesn’t mean the pain is gone – it doesn’t lessen the impact of the hurt caused by whatever the act happened to be.

I’m sure there are many acts of forgiveness waiting for action within my mind and heart. Forgiveness for insensitivities of others, for assumptions made and expectations levied, forgiveness for misunderstood intents and traffic behavior, forgiveness to our leaders, forgiveness for systems and institutions that direct our lives but were not built on a foundation of justice, forgiveness to our Creator for obstacles and pain seemingly placed in my path. .. the list is long, isn’t it?

‘Abdu’l-Baha counseled people to “see with the eye of forgiveness,” and practitioners of mindfulness practice “Teflon mind.” Rather than out people or situations that need my attention in this post, I’m going to take this day of truth as a lesson to myself. A day that lasts longer than a day, and becomes a practice. I’ll loosen the energetic grip of shallow (and deep) resentments and begin to consciously forgive – I’ll breathe more and swear less, pause and give space before rushing to a judgment. I’ll think of my sons and the forgivenesses I pray they will extend to me, and use that wish as a model for myself.

Come, come, whoever you are
Wonderer, worshipper, lover of leaving
It doesn’t matter
Ours is not a caravan of despair
Come, even if you have broken your vow
a thousand times
Come, yet again, come, come


Day 01 → Something you hate about yourself.
Day 02 → Something you love about yourself.
Day 03 → Something you have to forgive yourself for.
Day 04 → Something you have to forgive someone for.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

30 days: self forgiveness

Something you have to forgive yourself for.

2002. Chengdu, Sichuan, China.

2002. Rural Sichuan, China. Rice Harvest.

OK, I'm already struggling with this a bit. I'm not too into public self-recrimination. I was raised to have as one of my core values that we speak directly with our Creator, and so do not offer confession to other people. It does defy some of my blogging, but I think processing is different from confessing.

I guess Day One was so obvious to me - this thing I really find terribly uncomfortable about being myself on a daily basis. I feel largely NOT in control of it. But now... something I have to forgive myself for? It's such a large response, so laden with history, and hopes lost, disappointments and shame. Put this in a blog post?

2006. Rural Sichuan. My father and mother-in-law.

There's something you might not realize when you first get married. In fact, you may never know it with great consciousness unless you find yourself at the end of that marriage; that is, when you marry someone, it is a bond of much more than two individuals. When the marriage ends, there is a great deal more lost than the already hugely significant relationship of those two people.

When D and I met in 2000, we were in his homeland of China. We lived there for two years before coming to the US - and actually, we never intended to stay here for as long as we did. While we were living in China, I grew attached to his parents, his sisters, and especially their children. There are three gorgeous children I met when they were wee things, and I will never see them again. They called me "Niang-Niang" - auntie - they trusted me, and I love them. They are lost to me. D's parents - I'm certain that both he and I ended up being a disappointment to them. Not only for the grandchildren I failed to bear while we were married, but for our weakness - our inability to weather the challenges of life and marriage as a unit.

2002, with my sisters-in-law, my nephew and niece.

2006, with my beautiful niece Ting-ting -
the same critter who is pouting something fierce in the first photo.

Certainly the dissolution of a marriage is not the fault of one person. Our marriage's failure is not something I masterminded. I am sad for mistakes I made, but I am wise enough, and take myself account often enough, to understand that these mistakes were unintentional, and were made trying to do the right thing. Who really cares who's fault it was anyway? But I did fail, and we did lose the family we tried to create, and to that whole family that was once mine... it is for those things that I need to find self-forgiveness. Should I do more to remain a part of these children's lives? I don't feel like I really can.

Thinking about it, though, I'm not sure that it's forgiveness I am needing, as much as time to heal from the loss. Such a sadness. The life I have since created is the one I always wanted, so it's not often I open the grief of what broke along the way.


Day 01 → Something you hate about yourself.
Day 02 → Something you love about yourself.

Friday, October 15, 2010

30 days: love

The truth for Day 2 is something you love about yourself.

Maybe it's because I'm, well, OLD, but this one comes easily, too. If there's one thing I love about being me, it's the way my creative mind works. I guess this is probably the same for all of us - there's got to just be something in each of us that drives our individual forms of creativity and registers as pleasurable in our brains. For me, though, that spark is ignited in the form of making.

I've been a maker-of-things since I was little. I remember well begging scraps of polyester from the bolts in my grandparents garage, cutting out circles, and making poodle-style skirts for my dolls. Paper dolls, embroidered pillows, ornaments, weaving... I'd make things for my younger siblings, friends, and parents.

My pursuit of making isn't limited to a single medium - I'm just as happy plunging my hands into wet clay or a vat of paper-making material as I am sewing bits of fabric into a quilt. I work contentedly with xacto blades and silk screen presses. I love the thinking aspect of it - guesswork over measurements, moment-by-moment evolution over planning. It's how I create the tangible, and it's also how I have lived my life.

This style of make-and-do also makes me something of a jack of all trades, which has both up and down sides. It's made it challenging for me to focus on a single discipline professionally, since what I love most about work is the learning. I have been equally engaged as an ESL teacher and a marketing director. In college, I loved my chosen field of international development, but wondered if it wouldn't be better to study psychology, or English, or art.

At this point in my life, I am facing yet another professional rebirth - going back to work after a 3-year absence. I'm nearly 40 and have no defined career. No 401k, no retirement savings... and it seems, now that I have two children, that it's probably time to knuckle down and settle on something.

I have postponed my application to a MA in teaching ESL for over a year - a course of study I could do easily but without much inspiration. Now I have found the program of my dreams, and like my long process of becoming a mother, it has led me to examine not just the what-I-can-do of life, but the what-I-long-to-do. It's a risk, but I'm ready to jump off the cliff once and for all. I am applying for an MFA - it gives my stomach a little tug every time I think it - a Masters of Fine Arts. Daring, isn't it, to say this is the thing that makes me special, and then go pursue it with every last shred of energy and resource we have?

This Friday, I am taking another step in the direction of LIVE WHAT YOU LOVE - I'm meeting with someone from the grad school I am going to attend. In the midst of the tremors of insecurity that are plaguing our daily lives right now, this is my light at the end of the tunnel. Just like the risks involved in pursuing motherhood while I was (am) single, pursuing a career in the creative arts seem daunting, but honestly, it's the only thing that feels right.

30 days: hate

Since Korin and Miriam are posting on this, I guess I'll jump in, too.... though you all know that "30 days of truth" will more likely be 30 posts separated by days in between...

Day 1: something i hate about myself

It's easy for me to pinpoint the thing I most hate about myself. It's my core point of self-loathing. It's the issue that keeps me up at night, mind spinning, unable to take a deep breath and calm myself. Everything else, I can accept. Things I don't adore about myself, I can overlook, forgive, and sometimes even embrace. But this one... it's stubborn, unyielding, and has a power over me that I have not yet found a way to counter.

It is: procrastination.

If there were a prescription medication for it, a surgery, or some other miracle cure, I would take it. It's a handicap that I am rarely able to overcome.

I can't say much more about it without hurling abuses at myself, so we'll leave it at that.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

moments of preciousness

beautiful boy

this week they've both started descending stairs with no assistance... scary!

looking for sea lions with auntie

toddler interpretations of words in songs? very funny.

when you decide to follow their lead, you really just have to let go...

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

things i found in my bed

it's been a while again. i'm just in an insular place, i guess.

but laurie has been blogging every day this month, and much of it about the boys, which is fun. so, in response to her post "things i found in my boot," i thought i'd share this bit:

do you remember that memory game: "i'm going on a picnic, and in my basket, i will bring..." and then the players name items from a to z? the other night, i was lying in bed, reflecting on how this is what my bed is like these days. here's what was in bed with me earlier this week:

two sleeping toddlers (one hot, sweaty head on each of my shoulders)
5 blankets of various sizes
4 pillows, only one of which was in use
a wooden pull toy frog
at least 7 books, including the final harry potter, 10 minutes 'til bedtime, hug, and several other board books
one sock
a baby bottle
and a doll.

and you know what, i wouldn't change a thing.

ok, maybe i'd change it so we get a little more sleep... ;)

Friday, October 1, 2010

music play

For the last few months, M & S have been very interested in musical instruments. It started with drumming on playskool snare drums at my parents house, and evolved into imagining new instruments out of everyday objects when we returned to Portland. Some of the things that have been turned into various instruments: a small watering can (trumpet), a knife (flute), and a toy lawnmower (? saxophone ?).

One afternoon, Max was dropping into a tantrum, demanding to watch "guitars." The only video we have associated instruments with is a concert DVD, but when I put it on, it was immediately evident that I was wrong (imagine flailing limbs, attempts at biting me, etc). I thought quick on my feet and grabbed some paper they had painted on, cut out an improvised guitar, and struck gold. Soon I had made each of them a guitar, and then cut out a violin, banjo, and colored a keyboard. Genius! They have played with these flimsy toys for 2 weeks already - more than the plastic instruments we already had. They know where to put their hands, know how to "use" a bow, and strum along with their grandpa when he plays his guitar for them on skype.

I love this creative aspect of parenting, and it's really just beginning to open up to me - identifying and pursuing the children's interests. There's so much more fun to come!