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“This world of ours…must avoid becoming a community of dreadful fear and hate, and be, instead, a proud confederation of mutual trust and respect.”
—Dwight D. Eisenhower
“Fear in America”—mixed media • layered digital image—2018
If all thoughts are creative & inform our reality, then noticing our thoughts must be a survival skill of sorts. We can see our though patterns emerge by paying attention. I think about this, I feel hopeful. If I think about this, my heart races. If I think about this, I feel rage. We don’t have to stuff our negative emotions, they’re trying to tell us something. It just means asking questions about why these particular thoughts are so front and center right now. WHY?
Here’s my noticing list from this morning…6 to 8am.
MUSIC & HEART: My husband plays Summer’s End by John Prine on the guitar. Today, there was a story in the NEW YORK Times about this gorgeous song. Jeff watched the video through the eyes of a father. I watched through the eyes of a child. Summer’s End video & lyrics
DEFINE: I learn something when I look up the definitions even of common words.
- FEAR/transitory adjective—1.to be afraid of 2. to have a reverential awe of
- OTHER/adjective—1. not the same 2. different
- EQUAL/adjective—1. like for each member of a group, class or society
THOUGHTS ON GRIEF: Elizabeth Gilbert from the Brain Pickings Newsletter.
“People keep asking me how I’m doing, and I’m not always sure how to answer that. It depends on the day. It depends on the minute. Right this moment, I’m OK. Yesterday, not so good. Tomorrow, we’ll see.”
INSPIRATION: An 18-year-old delivery guy at Steve’s Pizza in Battle Creek, Michigan does something so full of heart. Steve’s Pizza story on CNN
ALL POLITICS ARE LOCAL: South Dakota’s democratic gubernatorial candidate, Billie Sutton was on Morning Joe today. www.suttonforsd.com
I believe that differing viewpoints bring dynamic ideas to our challenges whether in our civic, social or private lives.
A fork in the road indeed for the good people of the 605.
This bouquet from a friend was so lovely when she dropped it off ten days ago or so. I have to admit something that perhaps won’t surprise you. I actually enjoy flowers even more when they start to turn a tiny bit brown, curl on the edges and drop a few pedals.
I know many of you won’t understand this, that’s OK. I promise I won’t send you a decaying bouquet. Although one time, while a student at the University of Wyoming a boyfriend in South Dakota sent me a red rose in the mail. It was almost black, shriveled and curled when it arrived. I still found it oddly beautiful.
When I no longer have to trim the stems of a bouquet, check the water or pinch the drooping leaves, I feel some odd sense of relief. The flowers, no longer expected to be perfect, are free to naturally fade and droop. And I get to enjoy the inevitable state of fading beauty, often leaving the pedals wherever they fall.
I’m writing a work of fiction about a middle-age woman, newly empty-nested and figuring out her next stage of life. This week my husband, Jeff and I dropped off our twin daughters at college—Lucy at American University & Willa at Wheaton College in Massachusetts.
It won’t take you too long to figure out who “Alice” is in my excerpt.
“Although, she didn’t have the feeling so many of her friends described of instant familiarity with their babies…some bullshit, mysterious, ancient connection. She felt something else, far less magical, perhaps it was a twin thing.
Alice remembers how immediately after holding Frankie and Pearl for the first time she had a feeling that she was ignoring one baby whenever she turned her head and looked at the other. I’m already screwing this up. She couldn’t possibly have known in that moment that this feeling would never leave her. Alice’s head and heart already on a constant swivel, less than an hour after giving birth to twins.”
As many of you already know, it’s quite an emotional roller coaster to send the last of your brood out into the world. I’m only 16 hours in, so this is all still pretty raw for me.
I believe whenever my wholeheartedness is required,
the process just can’t be rushed.
In the remarkably funny (and raunchy) Netflix series Big Mouth, the character of Jessie’s mother, Shannon has the best line to describe what I’m feeling right now.
“Let’s finish basic training before we go to Fallujah.”
She was describing using a maxi pad, when her daughter asked about tampons. A great line for lots of situations though.
BIG MOUTH was created by Jennifer Flackett, Andrew Goldberg, Nick Kroll and Mark Levin. The voice of Jessie’s mother, Shannon is Jessica Chaffin.
(PLEASE NOTE: Do not watch BIG MOUTH with young kids.)
The Ideal Mother is a Terrible Parent
I stumbled upon this article recently, which helped knock back some of those ever present parenting “should haves”. Thank you Erin W.
“Eventually I smothered the ideal mother. I killed her dead. I introduced myself to my kids and started practicing “organic parenting.” I yell, I curse, I kiss and I hug. I hold onto them and push them away. They hold onto me and push me away. Together, we horrify and delight each other, all the time.” (I love this line wholeheartedly.)
My solace will come from many sources. I’m riding the unpredictable waves as they roll in and I’m trying to listen to my inner self . I know she’ll guide this process far better than any outside sources ever could. I have to be willing to actually listen though.
Hang in there fellow empty nesters.
Relationships. Advertising. Entertainment. Politics. Religion.
Mostly though, I believe the distortion can be how we see ourselves.
Next, I stumbled upon this article on the PSYCHOLOGY TODAY website and thought it was worth sharing. Joe Navarro has studied the life, teachings and behavior of cult-leaders; Jim Jones, David Koresh, Charles Manson, Bhagwan Rajneesh and Warren Jeffs, just to name a few.
What he said was that these individuals were or are all pathologically narcissistic.
Then I started wondering about the differences between narcissism v. self-esteem. It’s pretty stark and worth understanding better. I thought I knew the difference. I didn’t really.
Here’s a quick guide of the differences.
Hey, the more we know, well, the more we know, right?
We all possess some narcissistic traits. I’ve certainly had to take a look at myself. It wasn’t easy at the time, but I’m grateful I did, and my relationships improved because of more awareness
It’s the extremes of these traits we need to notice.
Healthy narcissism is the characteristic of possessing realistic self-esteem without being cut off from a shared emotional life, as unhealthy narcissists tend to be.
Joe Navarro (former FBI agent): “From my studies of cults and cult leaders during my time in the FBI, I learned early on that there are some things to look for that, at a minimum, say caution, this individual is dangerous, and in all likelihood will cause harm to others.”
They all have or had an over-abundant belief that they were special, that they and they alone had the answers to problems, and that they had to be revered. They demanded perfect loyalty from followers, they overvalued themselves and devalued those around them, they were intolerant of criticism, and above all they did not like being questioned or challenged.
And yet, in spite of these less than charming traits, they had no trouble attracting those who were willing to overlook these features.”
Here are some of the traits to watch out for and avoid if possible.
Link to entire list: https://www.psychologytoday.com/dangerous-cult-leaders
- Is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, or brilliance.
- Demands blind unquestioned obedience.
- Requires excessive admiration from followers and outsiders.
- Has a sense of entitlement—expecting to be treated special at all times.
- Is arrogant and haughty in behavior or attitude.
- Has an exaggerated sense of power (entitlement) that allows them to bend rules and break laws.
- Is hypersensitive to how they are seen or perceived by others.
- Publicly devalues others as being inferior, incapable, or not worthy.
- Is frequently boastful of accomplishments.
- Insisits in always having the best of anything (house, car, jewelry, clothes) even when others are relegated to lesser facilities, amenities, or clothing.
- Doesn’t listen well to others, communication is one-way in the form of dictates.
- Haughtiness, grandiosity, and the need to be controlling.
- Behaves as though people are objects to be used or exploited for personal gain.
- When criticized, lash out not just with anger but with rage.
- Refers to non-members or non-believers as “the enemy.”
- Habitually puts down others as inferior.
- Is constantly assessing for those who are a threat or those who revere them.
- The word “I” dominates their conversations, oblivious to how often they reference themself.
- Hates to be embarrassed or fail publicly – if so, acts out with rage.
- Doesn’t seem to feel guilty for anything, never apologize for their actions.
- Believes they possess the answers and solutions to world problems.
- Works the least but demands the most.
- Highly dependent of tribute and adoration and will often fish for compliments.
- Uses enforcers or sycophants to insure compliance from believers.
- Sees self as “unstoppable”, perhaps has even said so.
- Conceals background or family which would disclose ordinary they are.
“There’s only one corner of the universe you can be certain of improving, and that’s your own self.”
— Aldous Huxley, writer & philosopher
Thank you Ruby, Lena & BHS YES (year end studies) program.
I was very inspired talking about art and process.
Please Note: I’m off FACEBOOK, please contact me through e-mail, not messenger.
On this Mother’s Day, I really wanted to be honest with myself about it all. Mothering my kids has been heart-shatteringly beautiful and sometimes just plain heart-shattering, without the beauty part to soften the daily blows.
I can’t change anything and regret is a waste of energy anyway. If I try to tamp the regrets down, I know they will leak out in uncomfortable ways at inconvenient times.
Recently I noticed the TOP RACK ONLY button on the dishwasher. “Jeff and I will be a top rack only couple probably a few nights a week when the girls leave for college.” When I said this to myself, it made me cry inconsolably. Damn, that’s bleak.
These episodes are getting more frequent now as our nest nears it’s emptying…clearly a time for a little extra grace.
When Ellis, Lucy and Willa were growing up, I often did a quick review at the end of the day, asking myself one simple question: Did I love them more than I was pissed off at them? I don’t remember ever answering, NO. It was all the encouragement I needed to wake up and mother them another day.
Happy Mother’s Day 2018!
This week I was sent a cryptic message from someone named, Andrew Silva, alerting me that he left two photographs inside the front door of my home.
When I studied them I immediately thought of two things:
1. I really love my $5 yellow, thrift shop, 1980s jacket.
2. These images look like I’m a spy in a 1980s movie. I was rather certain I had other images to round out my spy thriller storyboard fantasy.
The film opens with an urgent call being made from a phone booth in Florence, Italy by the spy in the yellow jacket.
She’s investigating a missing American student studying abroad in Amsterdam. The student disappeared in Florence on holiday. The photo was taken by her roommate and potential femme fatale in their shared Florence hotel room.
Male characters (suspects #1 & #2) are photographed in Florence. They are being exceedingly careful with their public conversations. The younger of the two is an American architectural college student. He was seen seated next to the missing student at a cafe the day she disappeared.
An older man (suspect #3) is waiting for the bus in Florence. He’s under surveillance by the spy in the fabulous, yellow, 1980s, five dollar, thrift shop jacket. No one is quite sure why though, and neither is he. The spy’s sneaky photographs are really annoying him. He’s constantly swearing at her in Italian. This provides the levity in the film.
The American student’s roommate (suspect #4) was spotted walking toward the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam two days after her roommate’s disappearance in Florence with male (suspect #5). They clearly both know more than they’re telling investigators, casually seen shopping at Albert Heijn, the grocery store near the museum to give the appearance that it was just a normal day.
Male (suspect #2) is unknowingly photographed enjoying dinner out in Florence the night of the student’s disappearance. He’s the father of the American architectural student and there’s obviously something quite shifty about him. The angle of the photograph was carefully composed because the spy in the yellow jacket really wanted to remember the brand of balsamic vinegar from Modena on the table.
images by Andrew Silva, April 2018