In my next lifetime, when I come back, I will ski more and worry less.
I will begin every dinner with dessert, and it will be dark chocolate,
or something gooey
I will choose dresses for color and not for whether or not they make
me look slim. I am thinking yellow,
purple, and butterfly prints
I will start using sun-block when I am 12, the same age
when I will begin practicing
because it makes me feel so peaceful and good.
In my next lifetime, when I come back, I will choose
a comfortably upper-middle-class family to host my wandering
soul. I’ve seen that great wealth imposes anxiety
and demands of its own. Too little to work for
ruins people. So does poverty, my old scourge.
The lack of money–for graduate school, for good doctors,
for guitar lessons, for the occasional porterhouse steak and soul-ravishing
trip to Paris–
is one of the great evils that besets humanity.
In my next lifetime, and I hope the Earth isn’t ruined before
I make it back, I will play outside more, which can mean lying
on my back beneath an oak tree and reading something
or a cheesy romance novel. I will spend more time staring into the sky
and no time at all on a therapist’s couch.
I will say
more often and do the dishes only when they’re piled up to the ceiling.
I will turn off the TV but go to every sci-fi movie
that opens. I will choose more friends who understand
that I’m originally from
the planet Xetron
and that this beautiful blue and green orb
is just a way station on my peregrinations. They will laugh more with me
than at me and they will understand the value of
I have only a few of those kind in this life.
I miss them all the time.
In my next lifetime, since
I’m not enlightened
and I will have to return to complete the balance
I will say “I love you” to the people I love:
on the hour, every hour. Even when I hate them.
And especially when they hate me.
In my next lifetime I will be
the luminous me
I always wanted to be now, and somehow fell short of.
It wasn’t for the absence of an open heart or effort.
Rather, I tried too hard, and let gravity weigh
me down. So in my next life, I will let my
open heart lift, and shine me to everyone I meet.
Last night at a pre-Sundance party in NYC I had the great good fortune of meeting the talented and impressive Anthony Whyte, whose work is being made into a movie.
He was there with his business partner Jason Claiborne, who runs Augustus publishing, “Where Hip Hop literature begins,” and fellow author Erick S. Gray.
They were an intriguing trio. Whyte has a background in the armed forces, as did my dad, so we had that to discuss, as well as books and movies.
This morning I did some googling around and learned that Whyte had trouble getting his first novel published. He then self-published, and people were so hungry for his message and his platform that he sold several thousand books quickly. Of course then a publisher jumped on the bandwagon, bought the rights, and republished… to sell over a hundred thousand copies. Pretty good! Whyte mentioned none of this to me; he was classy and unassuming, and left it to me to discover his story.
We talked about Zora Neale Hurston, author of the classic THEIR EYES WERE WATCHING GOD. I remembered reading how Hurston had ended her life working in a library, and as a maid. It’s distressing that she died in obscurity, enduring financial struggles, when she’d written one of the masterworks of American literature. It left me thinking again about some questions that my oldest daughter had posed to me, over a year ago, when we discussed an African American Literature class she had taken: How did we in the U.S. create an underclass that left an entire group of people disenfranchised, struggling to find and authenticate their voice?
Is it enough that we have elected Obama as president? Is it enough that brilliant minds like Whyte, Claiborne and Gray are not accepting the status quo regarding their work, but are going out and creating new opportunities?
What does it take to create a truly equal society based on the hard work and merit of the individual, without regard to race, gender, sexual preference, and religion?
I hope none of these questions are offensive. I don’t know if they are politically correct or incorrect. They are the musings of a basically white woman of mixed genetic heritage who can not document her Native American ancestry because records were lost during the Trail of Tears. I’m just a mom with smart, irreverent kids, who ask good questions and expect me to engage them honestly.
And what else about the party? It was too much fun for the responsible parent I am, and included me introducing myself to a famous TV/movie actor who now believes I am sketchy. Because I did make a sketchy introduction, and he was far more gracious to me than I deserved. But I had to sally up to him with my big, tipsy grin–if only to be able to text my kids that I’d met him.
This week I took the train to Boston to attend the International Conference in Shared Parenting. This conference gathered together specialists in post-divorce child development from all over the world. I sat down with a very lovely Dr. Holstein to discuss the Conference, and I wrote about my experience in the HuffPost.
…Despite advances in recognizing fathers’ fundamental rights to be equally involved in their children’s lives, the problem of not implementing that right continues within the legal system. At the same time, there’s a growing awareness that relegating one parent, whether father or mother, to second-class citizen parent status is not in the best interests of the child, when neither parent is actually abusive. There is a growing understanding that, post-separation, children need both parents to be fully present in their lives for optimal wholeness.
I sat down with Dr. Ned Holstein, the founder and chairman of the board of the National Parents Organization, at the International Conference on Shared Parenting in Boston. The National Parents Organization has a mission to preserve the bond between parents and children. To that end, at this conference, the world’s most renowned child development experts in the area of post-divorce parenting have gathered to share their research results. How do children fare with and without shared parenting post-divorce?…
“Court practices haven’t kept up with the growing research evidence on the benefits of shared parenting, so our intention was to gather all the world experts in one place at one time to compile the evidence that needs to be recognized as a basis for changing what our current practices are in the courts,” Dr. Holstein told me. “Based on the work of world experts at our conference today, ‘Best Interests of the Child’ means shared parenting for most children.”
Read the whole post here.
International Conference Shared Parenting
A post contemplating Brené Brown on Love.
Of late I have been thinking deeply about these issues of the human heart. It’s partly because of a dark and difficult book I’m writing, and partly because someone to whom I’d turned for help, someone I trusted and respected and liked, has let me down.
This person is powerfully and deeply defended, and isn’t the kind of person who can own their own stuff. Rather, it would be a situation of lack of truthfulness and unacknowledged projection—as it has been for a long while.
So there will be no resolution for me with this person. There will never be a moment when that person can look me in the eyes and own having taken advantage of my trust and vulnerability. It’s not going to happen. And that’s life, so often unresolved.
It happens, right? I sometimes think that we’ve all been subtly trained by sappy television shows and trite movies to believe that there’s always a neat ending that fits our preconceived notions of right and wrong. I also see in our culture a growing entitlement and refusal to take personal responsibility. It dismays me.
Then this morning I encountered this quote:
We cultivate love when we allow our most vulnerable and powerful selves to be deeply seen and known, and when we honor the spiritual connection that grows from that offering with trust, respect, kindness and affection.
Love is not something we give or get; it is something that we nurture and grow, a connection that can only be cultivated between two people when it exists within each one of them – we can only love others as much as we love ourselves.
Shame, blame, disrespect, betrayal, and the withholding of affection damage the roots from which love grows. Love can only survive these injuries if they are acknowledged, healed and rare.
I took from this passage that I can continue to nurture and grow love, trust, and respect within myself. I can soften and I can open my heart, even when the other person doesn’t. I can own that in myself: my willingness to be vulnerable, respectful, and kind.
It doesn’t mean I have to be vulnerable to everyone I meet.
There’s a myth that’s prevalent in our society that blames both parties for the behavior of one party, as if two parties equally participate in one person’s treatment of another. All you have to do to understand the falsity of that notion is read history. Categorically, the Jews had nothing to do with the way Nazis treated them. It works in the microcosm, too, in dyad. One person can behave well and the other not so much.
There’s another liberal culture myth that I call the Great Narcissism, which goes like this: If we are tolerant of them, they will be tolerant of us. People want to believe that. They want to think that the world is a mirror that will reflect back their own kindness and tolerance. It’s just not so. It’s a very dangerous myth, in fact.
Plenty of extremist groups will use tolerance to hurt the more tolerant groups.
But Brown has a point: we can each nurture love within ourselves, not demanding and expecting that it will be universally reflected back. But sometimes it is, sometimes the other person can and will nurture their own inner love, kindness, respect, and trust, with mutuality and reciprocity.
Then there is transformation and healing.
The Benefits of Radical Anarchy: Enjoying Family Dinners
My blogs of late have emphasized my dissatisfaction with some thoroughly corrupt institutions in our lives: government and big business. Radical anarchy may be the only solution. And radical anarchy has so many applications. Once you get in the hang of it, it’s a useful approach to so very many situations. All this time I’ve considered myself a one woman stand against entropy. Maybe it’s time to rethink that.