Friday, July 29, 2005

a living funeral

Today my soul is filled with both sorrow and joy. I am saddened and disappointed
in some people who I once considered friends. I am saddened by the meanness and
unforgiveness and judgmental nature of so many people. It is everywhere, and it breaks my heart. I even got annoyed at reading about how people wrote F*CK Lance Armstrong on the sidewalk at the Tour de France. I mean, give the guy a break. Why would anyone wish meanness on another person? Because he is winning? Because he is a survivor and has an amazing story and beautiful kids and a fiery determined spirit? Well, yea unfortunately some people don't like it when people are doing well. Call me naive but I long for a world where people are accepting and open and able to express their truth and still be accepted or at least not condemned. Life is not black and white, there are shades of gray.

I feel joy to know that I have so many good friends who are not like that. As far as I'm concerned it is impossible to lose a true friend. If someone ever was a friend, they will always be one. If someone can get offended so much that they walk away and won't even come to the table to talk about things, then they never were true. My life motto is represented in Ralph Waldo Emerson's quote about success (on my website) and one line is that success includes enduring the betrayal of false friends, and I have been there.

On the other hand, I deeply care about all those who have touched my life and continue to touch my life through their friendship! I feel lonely at times that I can't be surrounded by all those who love me and whom I love. I wish sometimes I could gather everyone from all over the globe - all my friends from Australia to Oregon to Alaska to California and New Jersey and Florida and here in Texas and everywhere in between - in a room and we could all have one big party and talk about all the things we love about one another. Why do we have to wait until our funeral to have all those who love us gather together.

One day I think I'd like to do what Morrie Schwarz (of "Tuesdays with Morrie") did and have a living funeral - a party where all one's dear ones gather and say all the things they love about the person. In the absence of that - for now - I like to gather together nice uplifting things my friends have said in emails and print them out together and I read them when I'm feeling down. I'm trying to make a collage with everyone's photos so I can have something with all my friends pictures and uplifting things they've said that show they love me.

Loneliness is a regular companion although I can keep her at a distance because I keep myself so busy. I have done some fun things with friends this week and truly enjoyed them. However when I get quiet there is just always this sadness tugging at my heart.

Lately I have come to hear in my heart the scripture that "my grace is sufficient for you" and have to trust in this. I do believe it's true. The loneliness and melancholy is almost beautiful sometimes. To cry and express fear and loneliness and sadness can be cathartic and a part of the whole human experience and not something to hide from - as long as it doesn't become a dwelling place.

As Henri Nouwen wrote in The Inner Voice of Love: A Journey Through Anguish to Freedom, one must circle around one's abyss without falling in. Nouwen is the greatest spiritual writer I've ever read. Just a truly amazing man. He was a Catholic priest, writer, and man of great love and depth. He spent a lot of his life taking care of the extremely physically and mentally handicapped at L'Arche Daybreak Center. As the website says, "Henri Nouwen spent his life helping people respond to the universal 'yearning for love, unity, and communion that doesn’t go away' Is it possible to touch and taste the love of God? How can we live a spiritual life that embraces the pain and suffering of our lives and in the world, and gives us the freedom to love deeply wherever we are?."

Now that's what I'm searching for.

PS The photo of me canoeing is on Buffalo Bayou, photo courtesy of Don Keeline, my paddle partner that I proceeded to dump in the bayou at the end of the journey - whoops! My typical Bridget Jones style!

PSS I posted this and then thought some more. As I often do these days it came to me to think that if I hate a trait in others, where is that trait manifested in my own life? I hate meanness in people, so where have I been mean? And I started to cry to know that even very recently I have said things to people I love that hurt them, that even if I don't intend them that way they are mean. It doesn't necessarily matter my intent if it comes across in a way that hurts. This is an act of self-sabotage. And the lyrics of an Alanis song came to me, "How soon will I be holy?" (Baba from her 2nd album SFIJ) and that made my cry some more. I think I'll go listen to it now.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

hard on myself

The other day I was listening to Debbie Ford's audio-CD and she was talking about ending blame and taking responsibility for our lives, and in the visualization she asks who do you blame, and I realized that I have taken to heart that I have responsibility for my life for better or worse for a long time. Though I've certainly had anger at my parents mistakes, I fully accept the responsibility of taking my life by the bootstraps and getting my act together and making things happen. The result is something that I don't know how to deal with -I place all the blame for things going awry on myself! So we are told to take responsibility but how do we avoid then blaming ourselves for our problems and mistakes? How do we prevent self-blame and self-hatred and choose self-love in the face of accepting total responsibility?

I talked to my friend Daline and she said she could see how hard I am on myself. True story. We were talking about how she tries to have compassion on people as doing the best that they can, but I told her I disliked that phrase. I mean, was Hitler "doing the best he could"? No way! I don't care what kind of crappy childhood he had, he was NOT doing the best he could. He could have done better. I feel we can always do better - the world is full of such apathy and greed and selfishness and I just have to think that we people can do better! That is when Daline said she can see how hard I am on myself... And when I say these things about the world I have to look inward and say, where in myself do I see apathy and greed and selfishness? Because one can't deny all the things we hate in the world sometimes come up in our own lives. I love Daline, because you know she loves me for who I am and I think she is the coolest woman.

I just get so impatient for wanting the promised land right now, and I'm stuck instead with days of loneliness and longing.

I was in Wal-Mart and this mom was looking at DVDs with her young daughter and they were discussing buying one, and the daughter said something and then all of a sudden the mom says, "OK Ms. know-it-all, that's what happens when you know it all, you get nothing." I was like, sheesh what kind of message are the dysfunctional moms of the world who shop at Walmart telling their kids! I am not perfect by any stretch of the imagination but to tell your kid that if you know it all, you get nothing? Thank God I didn't get that message because I want to know it all! Learning is about the only thing I'm good at...

I sat at this dock in the photo at a black bear workshop in Martin Dies Jr State Park the other week talking to a TPW biologist and it was just enjoyable to have a nice conversation with someone - it invigorates my spirit to connect with people and share life and interests. It was a good day.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

halfway to seventy

I took the day off work to go have fun at Astroworld & Waterworld today! I went with one of my best friends from high school Suzanne and her 4 kids, and my kids and my friend from work Ruthanne.
Here is a photo of Suz and I looking like drowned rats because after about two hours there the thunderstorm from hell started! We hid in a store for two more hours and then finally headed home with a raincheck to come again... It was great to catch up though, Suz and I had so many fun times together in high school with my other best friend from that era Kim. The beach, Grandy's, partying, prom and tubing afterwards....partying some more! Suz is am amazing beautiful woman and it blesses my life to have kept in touch with her. I truly believe that if you're a friend, you are a friend for life! Friendships/relationships are precious to me, the most important part of my life (including my kids!). Both of us were a bit of lost souls in high school and we have both become Christians and it is a beautiful thing to see how life comes full circle.

My kids are so sweet - they woke me up with presents wrapped on the table -- they'd made me picture frames and homemade cards. Sam's card had the Chinese symbol for happiness on it (he drew it) and inside it said "You are the best mom!!!" with hearts all around, and Savannah wrote a story about how I was born and in the end it said "Wendee was the best mom. Savannah loved her a whole lot. So did Sam. In the end there was Peace (Chinese symbol for peace). The End." :)

I also got the nicest card from Daline that made my year! My cup runneth over...

Friday, July 08, 2005

peter pan and wendy darling

I just watched Finding Neverland with my kids and my exhusband. My son first rested on me, and then moved to the armchair where he fell asleep, looking so much like me as a young child. My daughter who is growing up so fast, then laid her head on my shoulder, snuggling up to me. "Time," the old lady said in the movie, "like the clock inside that old crocodile, it is time that chases after all of us."

The movie was beautiful, poignant, sad, based on a true story of the inspiration for playwright James Barrie's Peter Pan. Wendy Darling of that movie is my namesake (I changed the spelling of my name in 8th grade to be different). Wendy wasn't really a common name at all before the 1970s. According to The History of Wendy, the character represents "mothering, caring, loyalty, and undying friendship." Wendy also means wanderer. The character Wendy Darling escaped to Neverland where she had grand adventures, and never had to grow up and grow old or become a boring grownup. Wendy felt torn between these two worlds, but she ultimately chose to Leave Neverland and return to the world and choose responsibility over eternal fantasy. I hope to one day write something as brilliant and meaningful as that play.

As we all four sat on my couch watching the movie like a family we once were, sometimes it seems so sad that we are not. We get along far better now and yet I treasure our friendship because genuine friendships are so rare. Yet my heart aches for and completely belongs to someone else who came into my life early this year, full of dreams and desires and poetry and depth. As I walked through my house with tears in my eyes and a knot in my chest I knew that nobody will ever live up to what he provided me in such a short time. Words cannot begin to describe the magic of what we shared. And yet when I had all of him I could not give in to it because love terrifies me.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005


I am a diamond and I cannot be broken -- Antigone Rising

I find myself drawn to photos of children laughing, youth, beauty, simplicity. I am creating my vision map where you look through magazines and find images that appeal to your deepest desires and words that inspire you. I love candid photos that capture children in their own world, absorbed in what they are doing, unconcerned, happy, in awe. Even in tears children express their pain so purely. Children are so raw with their emotions, so true to themselves, so unafraid to express their truth. They contain so much beauty and innocence. How I long for a world where we could all feel safe enough to be truly ourselves, to speak our truths and not be afraid of what we will lose and who won't like us and what people will think. This I think is freedom.

Monday, July 04, 2005

date rape and freedom

Only nature has a right to grieve perpetually, for she only is innocent. Soon the ice will melt, and the blackbirds sing along the river which he frequented, as pleasantly as ever. The same everlasting serenity will appear in this face of God, and we will not be sorrowful, if he is not.
- Henry David Thoreau, upon the death of his son

This is a hard story to tell, but something I really dealt with emotionally about 5 years ago. In some respects, telling it is almost anticlimactic because it's easy for people I've told about the situation to just downplay it. The truth is, I have met so many friends who this has happened to in one way or another. Many more have not yet reckoned with the powerful impact such an event has on who they are, the hidden self, the "piece of shit feeling" as Jennifer Aniston calls it, that just about everybody carries around deep down. This event affected my marriage, my ability to trust people, but also ultimately gave me the power of an interminable spirit that will not be forced down. I will not allow myself to be a victim or to let pain keep me from doing the best I can to enjoy my life. It's not always easy. As Barbara Johnson wrote, "Pain is inevitable, misery is optional so stick a geranium in your hat and be happy!"

The date rape happened to me in 10th grade when I was 15 years old. It was a very traumatic year and part of my life, which I literally told no one about until I turned 30 years old and started to understand what had happened and how it had affected me. It was not all traumatic and violent like you might imagine rape. Throughout my life I was always fascinated by violent rapes and never realized that it had happened to me. If you don't think people can repress memories, think again! Its like a slow awakening, the piecing together of a mosaic of shards that finally reveal a whole picture. It certainly had a very traumatic effect on my young life, compounded by the shame of being blamed for the event, and unceremoniously dumped drunk on my front lawn as my friend desperately tried to wake me enough to walk into the house without waking my parents. Over the months after, I turned to alcohol and self-loathing and attempted suicide. I still bear the scars on my wrist and I look at them as a reminder that I will never ever let anything in life take me to that depth again.

Life offers unlimited beauty and grace, and I swore that I would never let the inevitable pain in life take away my ability to laugh and be vulnerable and let in love. That is why I find it ironic that despite all my vows to myself, that I have still managed to keep my heart behind an iron gate in some ways. I always swore that I would not let pain keep me from enjoying my life. Sometimes it seems to have gotten close to the better of me, but so far I'm still fighting - fighting to live the best life I can possibly live and to claim the promised land that God promises the faithful believer. If you want to read a really tough story, you can read an essay I wrote on that dark time in my life. I put it here in the hopes that it may help other people who have dealt with this issue, to hold a candle in the darkness and offer hope from despair. The Night That Changed Everything.

I love July. It's my birthday month and also the 4th of July holiday - my favorite as a kid. I feel very proud to be an American - I certainly don't think that I or anyone in this country is better than anyone else in any way, but our country was founded on principles of truth and freedom. Our government's decisions may not always represent every individual's desires, and it makes its fair share of mistakes, but it is a democratic nation and it's our responsibility as citizens to engage and participate in the process- even beyond the vote. Without citizens fighting for what they believe should occur in the nation, change would be led by greedy interests and it often is. Never underestimate your power when you fight for something deep and true and just. By fighting I don't mean violence, sometimes it's getting your perspective heard and joining with others who feel the same, sometimes it's finding common ground. Freedom can be found in our own personal lives, also, no matter where you live... we have the freedom to live outside of the pain and spiderwebs that would try to keep us down. It's our choice to take the key given to use and free ourselves from the chains that bind us. As the Eagles sing in Already Gone, "So oftentimes it happens that we live our lives in chains and we never even know we have the key..."