Naivety and Three Pecan Pies

In 1742, Thomas Gray (pictured below) coined the phrase, ignorance is bliss. I prefer to say a little naivety and three pecan pies will take you anywhere you want to go!

Image result    This week, I will get in my new Nissan Rogue warmly called the roller skate, drive an hour and a half to the Pepsi Center in Denver to be a guest at Michelle Obama’s presentation to the Women’s Foundation of Colorado.  That’s pretty cool.  The even cooler part of the story is that I will embrace my precious friend and former Washington D.C. roommate Melissa who I have not seen in twenty-five years.  It is a miracle!  Melissa worked for the Obama’s during the Obama administration and now works with Michelle Obama.

Melissa and I met during a summer college internship program.  It was love at first sight. She was unlike anyone I knew.  She was from a distinguished Chicago family, Jewish, well-educated and well-traveled.  Melissa was scheduled to work for a democratic congressman. I was from a distinguished family in rural Valdosta, Georgia and partially from a less distinguished, poor, country family in Moultrie, Georgia.  I worshipped in a Southern Baptist Church.  My education consisted of having fun in high school and going to the closest possible college to my home.  I obtained a position in the office of a republican congressman from Georgia.

I knew nothing of politics.  At the ripe young age of seventeen, I developed a crush on a young man from Valdosta who worked in Washington, D.C.  I  just had to get to D.C. to be near him.  That was the extent of my political drive.

I found and applied for an internship program for the summer of 1986. I mean, why not me?  At first, I was not accepted into the program due to inexperience and a nonsensical, rambling essay.  Hello, I knew nothing!  Not to be put off, I contacted the manager of the program, an energetic, handsome New Yorker, and begged to resubmit my essay. He had mercy on me and said these magic words,

“If you’ll bring me three homemade pecan pies from Georgia, I’ll let you into the program.”

Hell yeah!  That was a no-brainer for me. My cousin and I stayed up all night, the night before I my departure, and made three Georgia style pecan pies.  I proudly carried them onto the airplane in a brown Macy’s bag all the way to the U.S. Capitol.   That internship led me to Capitol Hill,the White House, and to so much more.

Melissa and I were roommates and dear friends.  I learned early on that Jewish people do not buy Christmas trees and have tree trimming parties but again, who knew?  We chose different paths in life and seeing her again this week will be a highlight for us both.  The beauty in this story is  at such a young age, I did not see a limitation and I did not receive a limitation.  I receieved freedom to do exactly what I wanted to do.  I did not see less-than. For me, privilege was not the only mechanism to success.

I showed up innocently, 100% myself in my yellow skirt and pink top, delivering pecan pies as a gateway to a wonderful life.

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Bemiss Road

I go there.  I have to.  My soul has to be there, even now, so many years later.  At times when I need to center, I call on my old friend.  Today, my loving friend is a place.  It lives in my memory and is so very important to me.  I close my eyes, breath deeply and go to Bemiss Road, in Valdosta, Georgia.

I turn onto the dirt road lined with little sand pebbles.  The steamy atmosphere is full of life.  I feel the vibrations in my ears with every heartbeat.  Humidity and energy surround me.  I drive on past centuries old oaks, a field of cotton or corn and cross the cattle gap into the garden….yes the Garden of Eden, vibrating with life.

This is my place, my people, where my life formed.  Day-lilies named after grandchildren and loved ones line the interior fence.  Exotics dance around the yard.  My grandfather’s roses stretch toward the sun and leave a succulent scent.  Honeysuckle, grows amidst lumbering oaks.

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I find strength here on Bemiss road.  A long screech, silence, then bang.  The screen door alerts every one of my arrival.  Crickets chirp in the corner of the kitchen.  My grandfather fills his igloo water container, grabs the crickets and heads out to fish. My grandmother and I spend our day talking about God and life in the kitchen.  I slink off to the blue room upstairs to take a nap.

We share a meal together and listen to my grandfather quote poetry.  As a child, I found this incredibly funny and annoying and often started a giggle circle with my cousins. When I go there now, in my mind, I find it comforting and soul filling.

Night comes, I fall asleep slapping mosquitoes away from my ears and face.  I hear sound of Johnny Cash serenading from the radio next to my grandfather’s ear.  Yes, I’m in another room and yes he is hard of hearing.

I am loved here.  I am safe and now I am at peace again.

johny cash

 

Mother May I?

Have you ever played the childhood game mother may I?  Several children stand side-by-side in a line with the “mother” standing 20 or so feet away.  The children ask questions in order to move forward and eventually be the first to reach mother and win.

Mother may I

Mother may I hop 3 times?

Mother may I run for 2 seconds?

Mother may I turn a cart-wheel?

Mother may I crawl?

And so it goes.  Mother says yes or no and provides an alternative activity.  It’s actually very fun.

As we grow into young adults, then middle age, and still further the afternoon in our lives, we find ourselves living the mother may I game.  Mother may be a boss at work, an editor, a professor, a real mother, father, friend, or anyone from whom we seek permission to move forward.

I want to live my dream— boss may I?

I want to write a book—editor may I?

I want to go on an all girls vacation— children may I?

I want to prosper—economy may I?

I want to be a loving friend— grouchy person may I?

I want to be prosperous—bank may I?

I want to live a different life—ego may I?

At times, I find myself seeking permission from others to thrive.  It is not appropriate as an adult to live this way.  The insecurity we feel weighs as heavy on others as our pride. Only we have the power to move confidently in the direction of our dreams as Henry David Thorough so elquently stated.

I recently wrote out my dream job and dream life.  As studied my writing, I realized, every single thing I dreamt is possible to me now.  I can begin to build my dreams without anyone’s permission.  People come into my life to help me along the way as I help others.  No more waiting, no more seeking, no more mother may I.

 

 

God Grant Me the Serenity

This week held in hand the miraculous, the mundane, and the heartache.  I learned that all three can co-exist in my life.  This discovery is HUGE for me.  There is a compartment of my life or a “chunk” that is really happening for me.  I stand amazed at the professional possibilities that are coming my way. I had a week in which opportunities arose that I did not have imagine possible.

Yet, at the same time damn it, I feel a mother’s pain.  A crazy panic and fear arises in me. One of my loved ones made choices that hurt.  I want to show up for this one like a grizzly bear that tears through the woods to get to the cabin and take every one down in order to rescue her cub.  I can see mama bear now, leaving the ramshackle cabin, walking out to the porch with her precious cub in her arms…..victory, mom saves the day!

 

In the past, I easily allowed the heartache to dominate.  I dropped everything to suffer. I mean I was really good at it.  I was so good at it, I kept inviting it into my life.  One day, during a particularly difficult time in my life, I called my husband (now ex husband) crying that God hated me because the public beach access was closed when I wanted to take a walk….say what?  I’m pretty sure that I ruined my day, his, the children’s and anyone else who would listen long enough.  Thank God, I am not that person any more.

Remember in an earlier post I wrote, pain is inevitable but suffering is optional?  I stand by that quote.  I felt great pain this weekend but I also, felt great joy at the gifts life gave me.  I took my son and his friend out all day Saturday so that his mother could grieve the loss of her mother.  Yes, I actually wanted to lay in bed and cry all day but I found  a place to serve and it took my mind off the difficult situation.  My mantra being the world needs a loving friend, has to stand regardless of my own state of emotion.

Living in the miraculous, the mundane and the heartache is true living.

God, Grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.  

Blackbird

When I sit to write, I love, love, love to listen to the Beatles.  Somewhere in my deep, long ago hazy memory, the Beatles sing. I ride my bike on a dirt road to my best friend’s house.

Down the street and around the corner and I pedal.  I am transported from girl riding a bike to bird in flight.  I become lost.  Lost in my thoughts and dreams.  A little girl from South Georgia with long brown hair flies to wonderful and mystical places.  Before I know it, I arrive at my friend’s house and land.

I am fifty now.  Time passes in warped speed.  I forgot to dream along the way.  You know, life happens.  It tries to convince me that dreams are for little girls on bikes flying down dirt roads.

A shift occurred in my life recently.  This is the culmination of several years of seeking deliverance from spiritual and mental oppression.  It did not happen overnight

For those of you who don’t know me, I have a great deal of bodily weight to release.  I am confident that my spiritual release will be followed by freedom in all areas of my life.  I hopped or shall I say climbed on a bike this summer at a beautiful beach in Florida.  I didn’t fly, but I did find an enchanted pathway.  I became transfixed by the movement and the beauty along the way.  I am alive!  I hate to say I think my weight may have been a bit much for the bike.

I dream again!  So can you!  Listen to the words of this song.  Take these broken wings and learn to fly.  Yes, Yes, Yes!

blackbird

Freedom

small flagFourth of July is one of my favorite holidays.  Red, White, and Blue decorations, flags flying, barbecue, fireworks, family and friends make for an exciting day….even when the drive home from the fireworks take several hours and we have to go to work the next day!

If you are reading this, you probably live in America and experience a lot of personal freedom.  Freedom to speak, freedom to worship, freedom to choose to marry and have a family or to stay single, freedom to travel, and freedom to stay home!

Why do we sometimes feel bound?  We have so much freedom, so much opportunity and yet we Americans are increasingly bound.  Not by an external force, although politics of today is indeed scary, but bound by an internal restrictive force.  Our restrictors are not necessarily external as they were on that first Forth of July two hundred and forty-one years ago. Our restrictors are those of the mind and soul.  The identity of past negative experiences, fear, resentment, anger, jealousy and so on!  I think you get the point.

I suggest on this fourth of July, we let Freedom Ring.  We show our deeply felt appreciation for all our external freedoms, pray for, and do all we can for those who don’t have them AND sing this song of liberation to our soul, that we might be internally free as well!

Let Freedom Ring

Funkalicious Friday

Good afternoon friend.  I looked forward to this moment all day.  It’s Friday!  I feel fun, funky and fantastic.  I finally made it to the clean page of this blog and enjoyed all of my distractions on the way.  I want to share my joy with you today!

Joy is in me and all around me. How could I have been so blind!  Did you know Albert Einstein said, our Problems cannot be solved with the same mind-set that created them?   That really sucks because the absolute hardest thing I’ve had to do it change my thinking. That stuff is pretty deeply entrenched.  We recovery we know we must have a complete psychic change or a spiritual awakening.

My former mindset was basically the following:

  • I’m marked for disaster
  • God doesn’t like me very much
  • My life keeps repeating itself and there is nothing I can do about it
  • I’m doomed

Guess what? My life actually looked just like that.  If someone had the tenacity to sit with me for a while, I could actually convince them of all those facts.  I would then cry because I had no friends.  I laugh as I write this because why would anyone want to be with a sop like that!

Now, I was a good fighter, and I fought hard to change the outer circumstances of my life. I believe some of that fighting served my family and me but I felt dead inside.  When we fight for exterior answers to an interior problems, or soul sickness, it never fully works, at least not for me.

We need a mental and spiritual lobotomy.  We change when we cease to accepting old thoughts and start thinking new ones.  It does take time but you won’t see change in your life until your mind changes, even more, your soul…..Einstein was a pretty smart guy! Start with these thoughts…even if you don’t feel the change and don’t see it with your own eyes.

  • God loves me
  • Life Loves me
  • The world needs a loving friend and I’m going to be one
  • I’m not doomed, my life is full and I have a lot to offer

Start praying or meditating on internal peace and generosity.  Ask for a helpful resource to guide you through the changing thinking process and I promise you, one will arrive. Make small changes to the way you talk to yourself and others.  My coach entered my life completely unexpectedly and I’m paying with coffee because she needed a test case…..bless her heart!

I promise you friends, this works.  When discouraging news does come, and believe me it will, say to yourself, God Loves me, life loves me, my life is good.  Start small and I guarantee you will be dancing on Funkalicous Friday just like me.  Before I sign off, I would like for you to click on this link and dance your heart out.

Good Morning and It Is Good!

Today, I awakened to a beautiful sunrise.  I thanked my bed for a comfy night’s sleep, thanked God for coffee, sat by my window looking at the mountains, read a spiritual book and prayed.  Life is good!

Happiness radiates like the fragrance from a flower and draws all good things towards you. Maharishi Mahesh Yogi

I want to be a loving friend today because we all need one!

I discovered my mantra through an exercise I did with an excellent coach and friend.  I hurriedly typed answers to her questions so that I could email her before I left work for the day.  I  spat out a few sentences about my dreams and aspirations thinking, this is so lame, she’s probably going to fire me as a client.  After all, I’m a test case and pay with coffee….sometimes….. and who needs a client like that!

The next day we met.  Before she arrived, I read what I had written and asked myself, “did I seriously write that?”  I’m actually pretty clear about what I want to do with the rest of my life and then my eyes landed on the why of it all “because the world needs a loving friend.”  Don’t we all?  Who doesn’t need a loving friend?

My mantra carried me through the day.  As I walked up to work I repeated to myself, the world needs a loving friend.  As I approached the building and started to say good morning to the same people I see every day, I said to myself, Martin, my boss needs a loving friend today “hi there Martin!”.  The early morning janitors need a loving friend today, that lady that nearly clipped my car in the parking lot needs a loving friend today, my office mates need a loving friend today.  My day went like that hour after hour until I got home. And it was a pretty fabulous day.

Here’s where the real challenged lies:  I arrived home.  My daughter needed a loving friend but the dishes were still in the sink and she didn’t like what I was cooking for dinner, and she wasn’t jamming with my spiritual pink cloud, so I wasn’t a very loving friend.  I was a cranky bitch!  Then, when that didn’t work for me,  I was an emotional sob.  Thank God, I’m getting better because I said to myself, my daughter needs a loving friend.  At that moment of empathy and shift of thinking, a friend of mine that loves us both walked up to our front porch where we were entwined in an spiraling conversation.  Her presence broke the spell of tension.  She told us about her crazy day and we all laughed.  I know that my cranky bitch and emotional sob have to be addressed when I get home today if not before, but thank God, I mean thank God, a new day dawns and the opportunity to be a loving friend dawns with it!

What’s you’re mantra today?

 

Pain is Inevitable but Suffering is Optional….Really?

I hesitate to introduce our loving and friendly meeting time with the topic of Pain and Suffering.  It must be against blogging best- practices to lead with a negative.  Best-practices smactices.  I go with it because it’s on my mind.

Suffering is highly overrated. Believe me, I’ve danced with and romanced it.  I’ve identified with it, loved it, hated it, invited it in to my soul, and caressed it. In the long run,  it’s very unsatisfying.  Suffering, is the theft of my sanity.  The results are never positive.  In fact, I have never said, wow, I’m so glad I suffered so much over that issue.  It was awesome!

What I do know is that pain is inevitable but suffering is optional—especially long suffering. If you are reading this and know me well, you’re probably saying to yourself, who is this and where is Renai?  Yes, it is I, exposing my biggest romancer for what it really is…a sham.

So many of us suffer through mundane, unsuccessful lives.  We go to work and home again only to find our home lives less than optimal.  We settle for shallow relationships.  We deny our responsibility for our health and suffer aches and pains or much worse, dis-ease of all kinds. Suffering becomes who we are.  There is a payoff for suffering, yes there is.  Otherwise, the human race wouldn’t accept it so readily.  I have learned that we choose this life.  Even when things affect us that our out of our control, we choose to suffer.

Pain on the other hand is what happens.  It comes with the unexpected call from a doctor, a realization of a cheating spouse, dealing child who is broken or worse.  For some of us, it is knowledge that we don’t know where our next meal will come from, how we will make ends meet, the desire to be other than where we are in life, it hurts like hell, hence we call it pain.

Pain is like the unwelcome solicitor knocking on our door.  If you are like me (aka not nice), you are going to immediately get mad and apply one of several strategies:

1)Talk to yourself in an angry way about your HOA rules and how rude this person is while you sit or stand as still as a statue hoping he will go away and not know you are there, seething.

2)Blow a loud whistle or pretend you are a dog and bark loudly to scare him away.  Yes, you know who you are!

3)Worse, open the door and tell him to read the no solicitation sign.  Tell him that he interrupted your family time and that you’ve been at work all day and have kids that drive you crazy and how dare he knock on your door.  Fight it!  Say it really angrily, like can you see my teeth, they’re big and white and I’m pissed so you need to go away.

The best way to greet pain is to surrender to it, accept it, own it, and adjust your thinking to the reality of it.  Do not stand still in fear and wish it away, while you suffer an internal hell.  Do not deny it, becoming angry and forcing it away or shoving it down. The faster we can learn to take it in, accept it and practice our hope filled, tender, faithful thinking, we will walk through the pain without the baggage of unnecessary suffering.  Answers will come, resources will show up, we will have the energy to ask for help or search for available sustenance.  Our minds will not force us to rehash the pain over and over again or try to find the why of the pain but we will find unleashed in us inventiveness and ingenuity to move through and rise above.

This can be as true for you as it is for me!

 

 

Tenderness Moves Me

“There is no charm equal to tenderness of the heart” Jane Austin

I am a strong woman.  I am beautiful, talented, smart, loving, fun, and bighearted.  I am also relentless.  I wear an imaginary placard in front of myself that reads survivor, hard worker, over-comer, fighter, and overwrought.

Guess which list I have allowed to define my life?  The first or second?

You guessed it — the placard list!  Just thinking of it makes my neck tired.  Holding that weight is not comfortable.  Thank God, I feel myself outgrowing it.   Survivor, hard worker, over comer, fighter, overwrought, and incautious aren’t working for me any more.  What happened and why do I care?

Well, to start with, I’m tired.  The placard I chose to wear is an identity I learned at an early age and it served me well.  In survival mode, those qualities came in handy.  It is when those adjectives become my sole identity, I keep creating for myself situations in which to use them over and over again.  We are what we think, just as we are what we eat. Identifying as survivor leads me into situations in which I can prove my survivor skills, fighter leads me into battles, overwrought leads me into confusing and topsy-turvy situations, and over-comer brings me many difficult trials to overcome.  Believe me, I can make the turn the best conditions into chaos in sixty seconds flat.

One of the miracles turning my world upside down…..and in the best way, is that tenderness entered my life.  Tenderness of recovery, learning that I can contribute to life and to the world.  Tenderness from a co-worker who told me what she really sees in me even when I can’t see it.  Tenderness of children’s letters thanking me for loving them through very tough years.  Tenderness of my mother, brother, and aunt.  Tenderness taught me that I can, through changing of thought about myself, let go of the fighter/struggler identity and welcome a new one.  One that is joyful and free!  Tenderness happened!  Wouldn’t that be a great bumper sticker instead of that other one – shit happens– .  Tenderness Happens and creates life, hope, joy, and energy to stir in us again.

Couldn’t we all use a little?