As I sat in a training session at the Sexual Assault and Violence Intervention center (SAVI) in New York, I was appalled at the level of domestic violence against women still going on in this country.
I confess, I started off the summer with a commitment to myself (and unbeknownst to them…my family) that I would loosen up and try to say YES more often than I did during the school year. It worked for a few weeks – and my life was punctuated by affirmatives: “yes, you can buy one box of sugar cereal each.”, “Yes you can watch just one more show.”, “sure, you can put the dog on the raft in the pool.”
But as the lazy days of summers continued on, my children took advantage of my good nature and undermined my plan to be agreeable.
The erosion of my happy plan to be a “yes MOM” began with my teetering-on-the-edge-of-adulthood 17 year old daughter asking me if she could take a trip to Europe with her bestfriend. Now a post high school graduation Euro-trip wasn’t out of the question as we’d been discussing this all year – she’d actually planned a trip and cancelled it. But this request was a doozy: she wanted to leave for Europe the NEXT day to take a whirlwind trip through 4 countries. Sure, she had a job she was committed to for the next 6 weeks, but they would understand – this was an opportunity of a life time!
I have to admit that for several hours during a long negotiation involving tears and expletives (tears, hers; expletives, mine) I was tempted to acquiese. But ultimately – after many pow wows with her dad, I held my ground that 1) it was RIDICULOUS to think about leaving for Europe with 24 hours notice – even if her friend was able to pull this off thanks to indulgent parents and more importantly, 2) she had a job – her first real paying job. I said no and I stuck to it — even after she threatened to NOT speak to me for the remainder of our last few months together before she left for college.
In sequential order – my other two kids pushed the pendulum from Yes to No, but without as much vitriole as my eldest. My 10 year old wanted to stay up WAY past her even later summer bedtime to watch yet another reality show — I think it was Project Runway for hairdressers or was it the Real World with dogs? Honestly, I’m not sure. But all I knew was that if she stayed up till 11pm, she would be heck on wheels the next day. No. Nope. Not happening. She too, threatened the silent treatment.
My 7 year old was next – with a more bizarre request for me NOT to drive him to camp in an outfit, which to him, resembled my pajamas. I confess to often rolling from my late afternoon sweatpants and t-shirt into bed and then out of bed in the am to start my day again. But on this particular morning, I hadn’t slept in this ensemble – I had actually showered and put it on! He wouldn’t let up – insisting that I was wearing my pjs, that he’d seen me sleep in this before, that I absolutely COULD NOT walk him into camp in what I was wearing.
Again, as in most arguments with my kids, the easy way out would be to give in. But fortified by two previous “wins” with the others, I offered proof to my son that I was not in sleepwear by doing what I knew would shut him up – I showed him my bra strap and said “See??? I’m wearing a bra under this! I don’t sleep in a bra!” Being a little boy – the word bra – let alone the item itself – was enough to end the conversation and he reluctantly backed down.
Looking back on my original plan to say “Yes to Yes” – I realize that it was as much for me as it was for them. “Yes” is easier – much easier -than the litigious conversations that follow “No.” But I’m happy to say that despite threats of silence and pouting, my teenager was fine the next day, and honestly, I think relieved that I’d laid down the law. As for the other two munchkins, their recovery was swift too.
So much for being agreeable this summer — probably more often than not, I’m saying NO to YES.
Action should culminate in wisdom.
~ Bhagavad Gita
I love the notes from the universe over at tut.com. Always been a big Mike Dooley fan. Here is my latest favorite which I got today.
Nothing is left to chance, David. The choreography of players and circumstances is plotted with mind-numbing precision. Gigantic forces of attraction are activated and engaged. The odds for your inevitable success begin skyrocketing. And every second of every day is calibrated and recalibrated… whenever you remember to visualize.
Who loves you, baby?
An article in the Washington Post On Faith section in response to their question:
Polls routinely show that 75 percent of Americans hold some form of belief in the paranormal such as astrology, telepathy and ghosts. All religions contain beliefs in the supernatural. Is there a link? What
The tagline “Believe it or not, he’s the good guy,” started a train of thoughts that eventually lead me to this spirit talk.
The line is from the poster for the new film of master storyteller, Guillermo del Toro, Hell Boy. The poster depicts an image of what appears to be a red demon–an image that could have been taken from a manual used in the Middle Ages by clergy to identify devils and demons.
The poster actually counted on the fact that we might not believe he is the good guy. Immediately, I thought about the graphic novel I am currently reading called Lucifer. In that story, the fallen angel takes residence in Los Angeles after retiring from running Hell. As you get to know the unlikely hero, you cannot help falling for the charming Devil and identifying with him. He is kind of intriguing, deep and multi-dimensional. Common notions up until a few decades ago, would have made me a satanist for reading such a thing.
Then I thought about the last three installations of Star Wars, where the antagonist, Darth Vader, is the protagonist. We cry when toddler Vader is being hurt; we smile at his victories and all this time we know that he is the bad guy! What is this all about? A reversal of magnetic fields? A shift in the polarities? Or maybe it’s called balancing, assimilation, union, convergence
I meditated this morning. Outside of yoga, it was about my first time. Reading about the fruits of meditation in people’s lives spurred me to peek through the curtain and take a look at the sanity and spiritual show that people rave about.
With intention and time aligned, I set my alarm for 15 minutes and took a seat on the bedroom floor with no preconceptions or how-tos. My mind kind of felt it’s way around things–pack a fork with lunch, take the magazines to work, swallow some Advil before heading out–until I lassoed it back to appreciating the threads that connect and guide us.
Then the alarm. My 15 minutes were up. I emerged from the room, shaking off the sleepy nerves in my leg and triumphantly announcing that I too meditated today. I don’t know how often I’ll continue to do this, but I do understand that I will get easier and more enjoyable.
Reflecting now, it seems I’m in an exploratory phase of self betterment. Should I start meditating regularly? Walk for 15 minutes during lunch? My current goal (and on track so far) is 4 runs/week. I vacillate between routine discipline and doing what makes me happy. And sometimes, like this morning, the two intentions converge.
Somewhere along the way, I heard someone define success like this: "If you had lunch with the nine-year-old version of yourself, what would the younger you think?
Would the nine-year-old you find the adult you lively and inspiring or jaded and aloof? Would this younger you feel special in the presence of the older, wiser one? Or would you feel overlooked and insignificant? Would you convey excitement about your job and your life and what you are seeking to accomplish, or would you be apathetic and uninvolved in your own destiny? Would you be living the life of your choosing or experiencing a life that happened to you? Would you, in turn, be a good listener?
I remind myself to do this exercise every once in a while. For me, the example of a nine-year-old represents a vibrant, uncomplicated barometer of what is good, important and noteworthy in the world. Many of us are tripped-up over what our families, friends and peers believe about us. But, in truth, that has very little relevance to who we actually are. A nine-year-old, on the other hand, sees right through the artificial layers; they relate to the world on a simplified, purified level. They see only "satya," translating to mean "truth," and success requires that you truly like what you see.
Decades ago, my grandmother and I invented our own language; part English (my first language), part Portuguese (hers)–all of it spoken directly from the heart. If we stumbled on words or intended meanings along the way, we made due with hand gestures and facial expressions. Sometimes, words were extraneous, so we substituted them for big hugs and loud kisses (one on either cheek). Over the years, we