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There are times in every person’s life that are transforming. They can be triggered by emotions, events, or age-related milestones – read, desperation, death of a loved one, or turning 18, for example. When these milestones appear in our lives – or we draw them to us – we have a lot of choices.
We can choose to cave in and cower. We can choose to run away. We can choose to adopt a victim mentality that may well define the rest of our lives. We can choose to make dramatic changes in our lives in terms of our location, relationships, and direction; sometimes those changes are well considered and sometimes they are knee-jerk reactions. I think regardless of how we approach those changes, they are essential to the process of completing whatever transformation we are undergoing.
Most of the time, we do not experience this transformation in some sort of isolation chamber. As we are struggling through it, and gasping for air, our inner panic (or lack of peace), and flailing through life will impact those around us. We may hurt people we love by whacking them with our wildly revolving selves. It’s not intentional, but yes, it happens.
And here’s where we can still have conscious choices, no matter where we are in the transformation process. When we hurt someone, they have every right to say something about it, even if they understand what we are going through. They may even say something that hurts us in return – not because they want to hurt us, because remember, they love us, but because they are speaking their pain. If we care for that person, we listen. We have a dialogue. We do not just turn and say, “How could you say that? Don’t ever speak to me again.” In short, we do not burn our bridges. That is, if we are seeking the path of wisdom, which I am. Which many of us are. We do not turn away from those who have long shown their humanness and devotion, from those who have shown themselves worthy of being a part of our lives, standing by us through thick and thin and all the meat-slicer settings in between.
As part of the path to wisdom, we apologize. We explain. We ask for patience. We take off our own blinders of pain and shame and guilt and anger at who-knows-what, and know that when we do so, our true friends will be right in front of us, arms extended, there for support, because we are not alone in this journey. Even though in some ways, we always are, and in other ways, we must be.
Again, it’s a choice. Leave the blinders on. Put the old life in a trunk, wrap it in chains, and send it to the bottom of the sea. Start over pretending you have a clean slate. I’ll wish you the best of luck, because you’ll need it. Or leave the doors open. Be gentle with yourself and others, because we’re all human. Take breaths and realize who is true to you and worth your spirit. Go back to the rules of kindergarten. I think one of those was “Don’t play with matches.” The adult version is, “For god’s sake, don’t set anything on fire.”
Transform, yes. But not by the light of the bridges you burn.
Lost: One Small Brain
One small brain has gone missing in an extended flash of bright light around 11:30 pm on Wednesday, July 27. Last seen eating Mint Milano cookies in copious quantities in a dimly lit room.
Distinguishing characteristics: Squishy and sensitive. High spikes of creativity are noticeable on occasion. A pleasant pink color, but will assume disguises when motivated.
Be on the lookout for it wandering around unfamiliar neighborhoods with an empty water glass, one shoe, and an iPod headset with no iPod attached. May be in the vicinity of an airport.
If found, please return to this blog. No reward offered, as it is priceless.
As you may have figured out, this week I will be writing about Christmas “stuff”, as well as the emotions that go along with the holidays. This is a slight departure from the theme, but as you’ll see, not really.
When Kelsea and I were driving back from our Labor Day mother-daughter getaway in Cheyenne, we saw a plume of smoke over the mountains, being buffeted about by high winds. I said to her, “Uh oh.” By the time we got to the outskirts of Boulder, this is what we saw:
Uh oh was an understatement. The Four Mile Fire destroyed 169 homes on the edge of Boulder. I knew several people who were evacuated, and many who were on edge, but I had not met anyone who had lost their home until Thanksgiving. One of my fellow dinner guests at the Big House was a gentleman who had lost his home in the fire, and he was still clearly and understandably shell-shocked.
One of the blogs I follow, http://piperbayard.wordpress.com/, wrote today about Andi, a woman who lost everything (except her dog, her kayak and the clothes she had packed for the trip to Port Townsend, where she was when the fire happened) in the fire. Andi’s award-winning blog can be found at Burning Down the House.
In order to bring holiday cheer to what has been a dark time, Nellie (Andi’s dog) is hoping to receive Christmas cards from all over the world. The cards brighten little Nellie’s mood, and everyone, including dogs, needs that at this time of year. So I’m asking my friends in the blogosphere around this earth to take five minutes out of their day, and send a card to Nellie at this address:
c/o Chautauqua Main Office
900 Baseline Road
Boulder, CO 80302
It will make us all have a little merrier Christmas and spread a little more love. That’s always a good thing. Let’s show Nellie that love is something no fire can destroy.
Gratitudes: Christmas Trees, the upcoming Lunar Eclipse (even if I’m not awake for it), warm winters, power strips, pork green chile.
Kelsea called from the mall with her friends the other night and wanted to go to a sleepover. All eight girls at the mall had spontaneously decided they wanted a sleepover, and one of the parents had agreed. I had never met the parents, much less the girl, and even though I know that Kelsea’s friends are all of good character, I said no. I wouldn’t want to impose on parents who I’d never met, and who had never met my daughter. Kelsea couldn’t tell me exactly where they lived. I just wasn’t comfortable. Pat agreed with me. So even though Kelsea called three times, and begged, and her friend Joy begged, I stuck by my guns, and nicely told her just to accept “no” as an answer.
Well, everyone else went. I picked Kelsea up at the mall a few minutes after they had all gone. And I felt conflicted. Was I being unreasonable? Overprotective? I had called her on my way to the mall and told her Joy could sleep over at our house, if they wanted, since that’s who she’d gone to the mall with, but it was too late – Joy had already gone with the group.
Kelsea wasn’t really mad – well, she was a little, but she was very reasonable. She didn’t want to discuss it much – she said she saw my point, and she felt that she had been wrong in not accepting “no” as the answer, since I generally say yes. And she felt bad that she hadn’t said “I love you” back to me when we hung up. But she said that things have changed since I was thirteen. Kids make plans at the spur of the moment and parents need to understand that.
Is that true? I can recall some spontaneous sleepovers when I had been at a friend’s house and we just wanted to keep hanging out, and my parents usually said yes. But large-scale, multi-girl sleepovers were heavily planned and much-anticipated events that usually coincided with a birthday. Not just a bunch of us at the mall after school.
Is it that we have shifted to such a real-time mentality that this IS the norm? Am I truly behind the times? I trust Kelsea and her judgement, but she is still my daughter, is still 13, and is still my responsibility. I just wonder when to let the leash out – or to let her off the leash.
Hmm. Any other parents of teenagers – or any teenagers! – feel free to chime in to help me figure this out. Thanks!