I’m Afraid of Blogging!

     

       Warning! Intimate Confession imminent:  think I’m afraid to blog. Gasp! Really crazy, huh? I go to all of the trouble to make a blog, and then I only blog every now and then. Absolutely no consistency. Well, I’m totally into analyzing things to death. If you don’t do it, you should try. (I’m being sarcastic- you really shouldn’t) The best part is when you analyze things so much that you get what one of my Pastors call the “paralysis of analysis”. That’s when you have analyzed yourself into a corner, and you can’t move. You’re just stuck there, in your corner-stuck. Stuck. Stuck. Stuck. So, I think that’s where I am as far as the blogging analysis conundrum. I am in the corner after having analyzed why in the world I am finding it so hard to blog consistently, and I’ve realized that the only way out of the corner is to write my way out. So ironic, yes?

        Ok. So here is what I’ve been struggling with. I want to lay my heart out for whatever reason, and boldly proclaim all of my opinions, weaknesses, joys, pain, struggles, and silly nonsense. However, when i begin to do that, I start to think about how people may respond to what I think. There are ones that will be shocked and judge me. There are also ones that may be offended. I don’t think those are the ones that would affect me negatively. It’s the third set of people that I’m just not into dealing with: the argumentative ones. I am all for an intellectual discussion about certain issues and opinions. It is when these discussions turn ugly and no one wants to hear the other’s voice. They only strive to make the other person feel wrong and ashamed. I am so not about those kind of arguments, and I’ve found that there are so many people out there that want to argue for argument’s sake or just to prove that they are right. So, I guess I’m afraid of getting drawn into anything like that. 

        Number 2 fear/struggle: maybe I have nothing worth saying. I wonder if I am just adding to the noise that currently floods our society. Have you ever noticed that some people feel terribly uncomfortable not talking? There are people that walk around with their phones blaring music in a supermarket that already has music on, people talking, and babies crying. All of this noise makes people talk louder and louder, while trying to get their point across. Am I saying anything of worth? Am I provoking any thought? Is what I am saying resonating with anyone and causing them to think about really interesting if not important issues in our life full of noise? My fear is that my voice may not be heard for what it is meant to be.

         Another fear I have is that my words will not portray what my feelings feel. I love searching for just the right words to say that will express what I mean. If you ever talk with me, you will find a few things out that may be endearing or frustrating depending on your tolerance level. First, sometimes it takes me awhile to finish a complete sentence because I think way too hard about just the right way to say it. Secondly, if something is really, really important to me, I can not even get words out of my mouth. I’m totally mute because I need my words to match up to the feeling, and the feeling is so huge. So, it is hard for me to talk about very deep intimate subjects. Writing has been my relief from this weird phenomenon. However, I’ve never done it so publicly as in a blog. So, the fear grips me when I want to write about really important things to me such as acceptance, love, God, freedom, “isms”, and the like. 

            So, my only course of action to overcome these fears? Action, I guess. Whether someone wants to argue with me or doesn’t hear what I am, in fact, trying to say; or whether I stumble and misrepresent my own feelings, I have to just say what I want to say. Sitting in this corner paralyzed by fear and analysis is no way to live my life. I will never not care what other people think, because I’m a caring empathetic person. However, I choose not to be ruled by that like I used to be. I’m a pretty confident person now that I have grown up (in age, anyway). So, even if this blogging thing doesn’t change the world or change anyone’s life, it will change how I express myself. So, brace yourself for some opinions that might not line up with what you thought I believe or didn’t believe. Brace yourself for words that might not be traditionally phrased or line up with what you believe about the world. This girl is coming out of the corner slinging some ink and looking to write her own story! No fear will put me in timeout for long. I’m coming out swinging. 

Headphones and Encyclopedias

     

       Flashback to the 80’s! Are you ready? Put on your leg warmers and schoolboy glasses. What was totally awesome? SYNCHRONICITY- the album by The Police was totally awesome! This may have been one of my biggest influences in so many ways during my formative years. It was released in the summer of 1983. I was going from 9th to 10th grade. Back then, that was the leap from junior high to high school. I distinctly remember staying up really late with my aunt, Andy (who happens to be the same age as I am). She was visiting for awhile, and we would stay up to watch “Friday Night Videos” which was our only option before MTV was offered. So, one Friday night, we saw the video for Every Breath You Take for the first time! Oh my! I remember having impure thoughts about a man for the first time- I remember his hair, his lips, his hands as he played that stand up bass!. After that, I had to have the album. That’s when my lustful fascination became a deep, profound, grateful appreciation of Sting’s intelligence and artistry. 

       As I listened to the album, I loved the music. However, I am a lyrics girl. Of course, I love words, right? So, I studied these lyrics that the great Sting had penned (with the exception of 2 songs written by Andy Summers and Stewart Copeland) and learned more than I ever did in history class! Now, stop a moment and put it into 1980’s context: remember there was no internet back then, so I had to be tenacious. I had some encyclopedias, but then I had to actually go to the library and use the card catalog/ Dewey Decimal System! Gasp!! Anytime I would find a word or lyric that I didn’t understand, I would write it down and research it. Up until that point, I didn’t know what lemmings were (Packed like lemmings into tiny metal boxes- Synchronicity II). I also didn’t know what Alabaster was (I will turn your face to alabaster-Wrapped around your finger). That particular song also helped me understand what Scylla and Charybdis meant and who Mephistopheles was. 

      There were so many other allusions that lead me to learning even more information. Even the title Synchronicity lead me to research the psychologist Carl Jung, which lead me to Sigmund Freud. This was all during my Sophomore year, and it broadened my interests and understanding. Thinking about this time in my life, I wonder if there is an artist or group that has this kind of influence on today’s youth. I am still very interested in music and I love lyrics. I would like to know if there is a specific album that has inspired someone recently to aggressively search for knowledge like this one did for me. I love it when something influences you- mind, body, and spirit. This is what Synchronicity and Sting’s songwriting did for me. Of course, it lead me to steal all of the earlier The Police albums from my sister Pam in order to scour those lyrics for intellectual crumbs. 

        I just wanted to take a walk down memory lane and remember those late nights with headphones and encyclopedias “seeking knowledge/ things they would not teach me of in college ” –Wrapped Around Your Finger. I want to feel that inspiration again! How about you?

A Big Sacrificer

   

       I am a sacrificer. Don’t get me wrong, I learned a long time ago not to be a martyr, but I am still a sacrificer. When I was 24, my now ex-husband and I moved to Okinawa, Japan with our two little babies. It was there that I began to go to church and have a relationship with God. My Pastor’s wife was overly-blunt and often hurt my feelings, but I can see in retrospect that she was telling me hard truths. One of the hard truths that she told me was that I had a martyr complex. I would give up everything for my husband, my children, and even my friends. The only problem is that then I would proceed to complain about it and get some type of gratification out of sacrificing myself for the needs of others. I would expect to be thanked or put on a pedestal for doing these amazing acts, and if that didn’t happen I would be severely wounded. After my Pastor’s wife told me point-blank about my tendencies, I took a good hard look at myself. Yes, that was me. I could definitely do something about the way that I behaved. It was really out of selfish motivation for some sort of praise or position that I complained or pointed out my selfless tendencies. It’s so funny how selfish I could be being selfless! So, little by little, with much prayer and practice, I learned how not to be a martyr. 

     I only had one problem: It seems I am wired for sacrifice. I love people and always want them to achieve their dreams or find happiness, so I will give it my all to help them get those things. I feel like sacrificing our own needs and wants is one of the greatest ways to show love. When my husband went through a court-martial in the Air Force, I sacrificed my sense of retribution for his abusive acts against our children and me. I did that so he would be sent to the only prison facility in the armed forces with sex offender programs for its inmates. I endured weekly phone calls with him and his therapists so that he could work through his issues. I also did it for our children, so that they might have a relationship with him someday. I don’t think that my family liked that I did it, but I was compelled to do it no matter what the cost.

          I tell you this not to pat myself on the back or climb up into the martyr pose once again, but to show you how deeply the sacrifice drive is implanted in my heart. When I taught school and someone had a great idea for a chapel or a dance, I would say, “Well, let’s do it!” The cost didn’t matter to me. I could stay up until 3 in the morning and use all of my paycheck for decorations. I just wanted to see it come to fruition. So many great things have happened because of the way I am wired, but it is taking a toll. I think that if my Pastor’s wife were here right now she would say that I should start a sacrificing fast.  I have been trying to use my energies more wisely and ensure that my sacrifices aren’t enabling anyone in bad habits. I have a friend who calls me “the enabler” because I love to spoil people. We laugh, and then I think, “Is he right?” Another friend and I analyze why we do certain things, and she often says that the things you go out of your way to do for others are the things that you wish someone else would do for you. I absolutely 100% know that she is right. 

         I have always wanted someone to love me sacrificially. I’ve always wanted to be loved by someone who puts my needs above his own. I think that I have always wanted that, but never gotten it in any love relationship that I’ve had.  Then I realize that I really have been loved that way. I am continually humbled at how the God who created everything would give up his only son for me. That is one thing that I would not sacrifice. I would never give up my children to die for someone else. Absolutely not! That is a cost that I would not pay. And yet, the most powerful being in the entire world did that for me. Every time I think of it, I am humbled. That is love. Even if you have issues with God, the Church, pastors, Christians, the Bible, or religion in general, you have to admit that this single act is the biggest love note that anyone could ever send. So, when I think that I am missing some big huge love story in my life, or when I think that I am the only one sacrificing for others, I am reminded that we will never be able to fathom the depths of God’s love when he sent his beautiful baby boy to the world. My blogs are not always religious in nature, and I actually don’t consider myself “religious”. I just know this amazing love, and I understand that the world needs more of it. So, I’m ok with being a sacrificer, and I’m ok with not having someone who sacrifices for my happiness on a daily basis. I am loved by a God who sent a sacrifice just for me- once and for all. In that I will rest and rejoice! I hope you do the same!

“Becoming a Writer” Progress Report

   

 Oh my goodness! I haven’t blogged in so long, and I need to get back on the ball. So, since I was super hungry when I got home from work , and I ate a humongous bowl of ramen noodles. I now cannot possibly go to sleep for at least another hour and a half, Therefore, I shall seize the opportunity to get you all caught up on my “becoming a writer” progress.

     So, you would think that “becoming a writer” would entail a large amount of writing, yes? Well, thus far, I have been doing only slightly more writing, and now I am getting overwhelmed with trying to start a freelance editing and proofreading website. I really have no idea how to run a business, so it is making me a little crazy. I’ve been spending hours researching things like business licenses and what an LLC is. Do you know how many bureaus and agencies that you have to notify when you start a business? Neither do I; the list was too long to count! Then there are the nuts and bolts of a website. What do I want on the homepage? What should the name be? What color scheme will attract the most people? Oh my word, there are so many things to consider. And this is only one of the projects that is consuming my time.

     Then, there is the graphic novel that I am working on with a friend. It is his idea, and I am more of a “translator”. I ask questions and pull the story out of him. I do research and fill in the gaps. He is the idea man, and I am the detail girl. However, the more that I ask questions and try to get an ending to this story, it becomes more and more complex. So much so that I feel like it will become some type of never- ending series. There may be one little problem with how a character actually comes to the point where he acts out in some way, and suddenly we have this huge back story that would fill another volume just about that one character. It wouldn’t be so bad if I were actually writing something more than notes.  

         I am also supposed to be getting together some poems for a small book of poetry that Susie-Q Publishing is going to put out, and I haven’t even begun to work on that. Not to mention the novel that I am about 75 pages into and several short stories still to edit. All of this “becoming a writer” business is leaving me pretty fragmented, but very very happy.

           I don’t think that I have ever been so happy in my entire life. I quit my teaching job and am down to one part time job. I don’t have a husband to help with support, but I am feeling joy in managing what little I have. All of this is because I am in my zone. Even if this zone is whirling and swirling with unfinished projects, questions, and stacks of scribbly-noted paper, I am happy. Let me say it again: I am happy! My desire is to ultimately be supported only by writing and editing. One day, I will be able to quit my part time job as well. When that day comes, you may read a blog about an explosion of happiness, but right now I will settle for the infusion of happiness I feel in every inch of my body. The process of “becoming a writer” is the most amazing process I’ve ever begun. I can’t wait to get up every morning.

           So, I hope you enjoyed the update, and I hope you are moving toward something that makes you just as happy. We all deserve to do the things we love and were made to do. Now hopefully my ramen noodles have digested so I can hit the hay and wake up ready for another day of “becoming a writer”. It’s my favorite! 

Inspiration Deficit Disorder

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        Focus. Focus. Focus. OH, SHINY! Focus. Focus. OH! Focus.SHINY! Fo…OH SHINY! Forget it. Is that how your creative brain works, because that is pretty much how mine does. I can’t quite call it A.D.D. it’s more like I.D.D. (Inspiration Deficit Disorder). The inspiration to write or create seems to be such an elusive animal that I often sit and wipe the drool from my mouth while waiting for even a fleeting glimpse. Ha ha, just kidding…um, no. No I’m not. That’s what it feels like sometimes; how about you?

          I’ve tried to analyze all of the components that go into becoming inspired, because that is what I like to do (just analyze that sucker to death!). There is a certain feeling that must come over me, and something has to just speak to my soul. That’s pretty much as far as I have gotten in the analysis. Pretty pathetic, I know. I wish that I could just order a bottle of inspiration from Amazon.com or run out to the inspiration drive through and get a #5 with everything. That way, when I’m running low on inspiration, I could just get that bottle off the shelf and all would be well again.

            While it’s frustrating not having inspiration when you’re trying to finish a project, it is equally as annoying when you are suddenly struck with the most amazing inspiration and you are at work, waiting on someone at the customer service counter or at a friend’s cousin’s baby shower. Wow, that’s the worst. When that feeling hits and you’re like a ship at see with no land in sight. I have never figured out how to hold onto that inspiration until the end of an 8 hour shift. It just seems to slip through my fingertips like sand.

             Things that inspire me range from a beautiful painting to a weird sound or smell. I’ve been inspired by the look in someone’s eyes, the way an old man wears his hat slightly tilted, beautiful greenery, and even a child’s laugh. There is no formula, and I’ve decided I like it that way. So what if my steampunk train lunchbox is still sitting on my kitchen table only halfway done. So what if I have a novel only 1/4 finished, a graphic novel, book of poetry, children’s book, and several short stories all in progress with no end in sight. So what? So what? That’s how I like it. That’s how I roll. I ride the wave of inspiration, and I never know when It’s going to hit me. I am doing more to cultivate the time that it takes, and I enjoy the surprise moments that are worth waiting for. So, while I will try to focus, I know that there will be OH SHINY moments that will work together to produce something beautiful, strong, enduring, and soul-stirring!

        This is my first day of life…or that’s how I feel. I’m a little blinded by the light, feel weird breathing this air, wish that someone would wrap me up in a warm comfy blankie, and am riddled with vulnerable awkwardness. I’m a newborn in this new world: today I start being really serious about writing. Happy birthday to me!

           I decided after much analysis, prayer, and countless hours wishing I would win the lottery (they say you have to play to win), that I would resign from my teaching job and only work as a customer service worker part time. This is a pretty gutsy move for a single girl with no huge inheritance  or sugar daddy. I have been working two jobs for 6 years and realized that I couldn’t focus on my dream of writing. I was just plain old exhausted at the end of the 16 hour day. There was barely enough time to dream of writing let alone actually do it. Even on days off, I had housework and aching muscles screaming at me so loudly that I rarely had time to write anything. So, I finally made the decision to eliminate the one area that took the most of my time, energy, and emotion: teaching.

            Please, don’t get me wrong! I love my students, and I love to teach. It was just time for me to start the process of re-birthing myself. I have never paid much attention to myself and enjoyed doing doing doing doing doing for others. Really, I have a sacrifice illness of some sort. I will sacrifice everything for someone I love to meet a goal, fulfill a dream, or achieve their heart’s desire. I am the greatest cheerleader for those around me, but I usually sweep what I want under the carpet. Well, let me tell you, that carpet looks like it’s got some kind of mountain growing under it! I have blamed it on many things over the years, but I will finally admit what it really is: fear fear fear fear fear…and did I mention…fear?!?

            Yes, I am afraid that I’m not a good writer, that no one will want to read anything I write, that I’m a poser, that I am too lazy, that I am stupid, that I part my hair on the wrong side, that I don’t point my pinky out enough when I’m drinking my tea…Now THAT is exhausting. Fear just steamrolls you. So, this is it. Day 1. Time to start breathing this new air. If no one is there with a comfy blankie, that’s ok. I will figure it out. I’m excited and renewed and enthralled with this weird feeling they call life. So, watch out, world, here comes Kari. You might get sick of her, she might bore you, and she might annoy you, but she’s here to stay. Happy birthday, Kari!

Wishing Rings, Faerie Wings, and Nightsong Sings

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  To some this may be mystical or coyly metaphysical. I need the night air to breath and weave a potion of lilac golden story words- strung around my neck with slow low shimmer effect. Come to me deliberately as I lean on billowy time. When will I be your golden bell sing me well tell no tell chime a chim- chime? Breathe. Beat-beat. Beat.

 The green of a wish ring finds its own sting while you look away and make no note. The gem holds its magic tight emerald light second sight-you will dance a slowdance- I know you knowdance- with the night. While I wish on wishes wished and delicacies dished in sapphire skies, silver glimmer trails encircle silver shimmer tales of one kiss. Celadon faerie wings fan fawning fires that threaten to blaze untended. Shall I wish anew kiss anew dish anew or wait? One breath. One beat-beat. One beat.

   The nightsong grows deafening engulfing us in the skylight starbright lullabye. Every molecule of soul divides the fight from the fright to fly away from reason and treason and every long toiling season of time. Share mine. Breathe sweet baby’s breath of morning and sway with shivers of dew. While all the while for a little while your pirate’s smile’s a warning. Beat-beat. Beat. Breathe. Beat-beat. Beat.

   

My name is Kari and I suffer from Singsongitis.

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       Have you ever just wanted to say something, but the only way to get that thought across perfectly is by quoting some song lyrics? How about when someone says something and you automatically quote some lyrics in response? Have you ever been stuck in a moment, hour, or day, when that is all you do? Have you ever taught a class and every other sentence out of your mouth is a song lyric? If you have answered, “Why, yes. I do.” to at least one of these questions, you suffer from what I call Singsongitis. I have actually been diagnosed with a terminal case. There is no antidote, no cure, and no hope.

Depending on the people who inhabit the different spheres of your life, you may have experienced odd looks, snickers, unwholesome remarks, rolls of eyes, or gleeful participation from another Sinsongitis sufferer. I have to say that as far as undocumented statistics of population dispersion, I believe that teenagers are the greatest sufferers of this disease. As a high school teacher, I have diagnosed many of my students, and found that we were not really good for one another. We often form co-dependent relationships, enabling each other in unrestrained Singsongitis behavior. Many times there would be a non-sufferer in the class that would manipulate one or more of us to give into the undesirable behavior just so that the lesson could be put on hold. For example, we could be discussing the proper format of an introductory paragraph for a 5 paragraph essay. Everything would be going well. Interesting opening? check. Thesis statement? check. Statement of 3 main points? check. Transitional statement into the body of the paragraph? Pause…

“Ms. Ebert? Is it like you just SLIDE into the body of the paper?” asks one manipulator with a smirk.

“Oh, yes, it’s like a LANDSLIDE BROUGHT ME DOWN.” I say automatically, unaware of the trigger.

“Maybe it’s more like the ELECTRIC SLIDE-BOOGIE WOOGIE WOOGIE,” adds another sufferer not trying to be disruptive at all.

I counter with, “Well, be careful that you don’t SLIP INSIDE THE EYE OF YOUR MIND.” feeling the rush of Singsongitis in my veins. Then after a fifteen minute excursion into every possible 0ccurrence of the word SLIDE in song lyrics, I shake my head, completely dazed, as if I am waking from a dream. What was the original questions? Where was I in the 5 paragraph essay lesson? Did I not even get past the introductory paragraph? The bell rings, and I’m defeated. I can’t give the essay for homework now because we didn’t even get into the body explanation. Oy vey!

Some people are able to be social Singsongitis participants. I am envious when they can turn it on and off at will. I have a friend and boss who can do this. Her genre is 70’s rock music, and we often finish each other’s lyrics in random conversation. We take pleasure in knowing that we will get the reference no matter how obscure and be able to piggy back onto the lyric with more. However, I have never seen her get off track or distracted in a staff meeting no matter how hard I try. Even if she asked, “Does anyone know where the Spanish CD with the test bank is?” and I respond, “GO ASK ALICE.” because the Spanish teacher’s name is Alice. She never gives in and says, “WHEN SHE”S TEN FEET TALL.” She just smiles and nods. She is no enabler and definitely only a social Singonger. Ah, I’m so jealous.

I suppose this is just a confession of my compulsion. If you read this thinking that I might have some kind of awesome advice or revelation for you about how to curb your Singongitis, you will find none of that here. Some people may say that we should just stop. Simply, just stop. To them I ask, “Should I STOP, COLLABORATE, AND LISTEN? Or should I STOP IN THE NAME OF LOVE? Or perhaps just STOP….HAMMER TIME.” Oh, it’s so hard to just stop. I just want to tell you that you CAN”T STOP TILL YOU GET ENOUGH! We might as well embrace it and just enjoy the little side trips into songdom. After all, music is universal and a great way to express our feelings….WOAH WOAH WOAH FEELINGS……

Motivation through Lists, Goals, and Wordcount: NOT MY FAVORITE!

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        Deadlines and assignments: The bane of my existence, and yet…why can’t I function without them? Somehow, I’ve been lead to believe that writing is this totally organic, mystical, whimsical expression of what is inside my cluttered head that will materialize if I just give it time and space. I’m beginning to wonder if I have been mislead and it’s really exactly the opposite. Maybe I need to be disciplined and write 5,000 words per day from 9-5, taking only short breaks to walk through a forest of trees and clear my mind. Maybe I need to set measurable, achievable goals each week that will enhance my writing fluency. Or maybe I should write exhaustive lists and post them here and there in the house that I must follow and cross off each writing task as I complete it. For that matter, if something is not on the list and I do it, maybe I should write it on the list so that I can cross it off. 

           To be completely honest, this does not sound productive to me, but why can’t I seem to finish anything without an actual deadline or an assignment that is given by someone else? My son and I decided that we would start a blog together, and I was so excited! He had the awesome idea of taking a song as inspiration and writing a short story. We would each write a short story without telling the other any details (which is so hard for us because we love sharing our story ideas with each other), and post it asking the public to decide which was the better story. We also wanted ideas from people about what songs we should do each week. So, we were very excited and high-fived in agreement. We set the deadline of July 4th as a deadline. Then, I was working steadily planning on finishing as stipulated, but I realized on July 3rd that he was not going to be finished. And guess what? Yep, I stopped. I did not complete the assignment because it suddenly became un-assigned or un-deadlined. I still haven’t finished it, and I can’t seem to make myself do it. 

        I love it when someone gives me an assignment, but there has to be some sort of payoff. That payoff does not have to be huge; it could be as simple as another person reading it and enjoying it, but it has to exist. So, since my son didn’t finish, the payoff was not going to materialize. The only way that he could read mine is if he finished his, because otherwise my story could potentially influence his story. If I finished the story, I would want immediate feedback from him since it was a joint venture, so I am dragging my feet on finishing the story. Instead I am writing this blog about how I need deadlines and assignments. Go figure.

            If I could only learn to motivate myself and finish projects, I feel like I would have the secret to the universe or at least to my writing universe. Does anyone else struggle with this same problem or is it just me?

Greiving anniversaries and birthdays: beauty for ashes

     Yesterday(6/29) marks what would have been my 24th wedding anniversary, and today is my former student’s (Tabitha Sanchez) birthday that she is celebrating in heaven. I think of the things each of us have grieved and lost in our lives whether through divorce, death, shattered dreams or simply bad choices, and I know that there is a greater power at work in it all. While this is not a religious blog, I still have to express that I believe God will surely give us beauty for ashes as He said he would.

            That, my friends, does not make the pain any better. I grieve with my friend Alice who watched her sweet girl lose her life from a tumor that she thought she had already defeated 7 years earlier. Barely  a month after graduating high school and testifying to her healing, Tabitha found herself in a battle that would end her earthly life. Today, on her birthday, there are facebook posts and people offering Alice kind words and encouragement. However much Alice may appreciate these sentiments, it does not take the pain away. No parent should witness a child’s death.

          After 10 years of marriage, I realized that my children would only be safe if I sought a divorce. My husband did not die and he did not leave me. It was the hardest decision I ever made and my children suffered for it. I have to believe that it would have been worse if we had stayed, but I will never know. I remain single and remember the joy I felt being married to someone. I am very lonely. When I express grief each year on my would-be anniversary, people tell me that I am better off and at least I no longer have to worry. These words don’t help- they actually hurt.

          If we would all learn to sit with one another in our griefs, to listen or cry or just be silent, it might make the grieving process easier. To have someone who doesn’t offer trite platitudes and empty encouragement (simply because they don’t know what to say) would be such a relief. Recently I had someone tell me that if I needed to talk, he would be there to listen. I foolishly believed him. When I told him one little part of why I was sad he said, “Well, it could be worse.” That’s basically like saying, “Man up, crybaby.” I learned he was not the one to listen.

             listening is such a rare thing in the world today. We have all lost important people and dreams, but are we open to simply carry someone else’s burden of grief? Are we able to set aside that uncomfortable feeling that is telling us to say something or do something to fix it? Are we able to just sit in silence or tears or screaming and be a safe place for someone else to express the deepest pain of their lives?

            When our dreams of a bright future for our children or celebrating a silver anniversary burn to the ground, who will help us bury the ashes, water them with tears, and wait for the beauty to bloom from it? I hope it will be you. I hope it will be me. I hope it will be us.

       Happy Anniversary, Rob. I hope you will someday see beauty for the ashes of our marriage. I wish the best for you, and I hope you reconcile with God someday. His love is unconditional. 

       Happy Birthday, Taby! I know you are wrapped in beauty as you are in God’s amazing presence. You have planted such beauty here on earth- so many people were touched by your life. Your mommy has been able to see that too. I can’t wait to see you again someday.