Shiny Badges

The older I get the more I realize how flimsy love can be in some relationships. And how ironically stalwart, solid in others and some just relentless, regardless of how inconvenient, unconventional and even mostly unavailable. I’ve left my marriage but the love is there for us both to be human (flawed), helpful (magnanimous) and flexible (willing to bend when it will help all of us). We aren’t married but, we’re married to the clean up of leftover messes and the nurturing of ongoing commitments. I’ve witnessed and been witnessed, all the worst colors of the bad and the ugly. And there’s not any petty stomping off like scared children on the playground way back in the mean streets of “elementary” school. It’s the same with my relationships with others – love full. But too few, in terms of solid, lasting maturity in relating. I look in the mirror and wonder why. I realize there are some things I’m just not going to tolerate, like being misrepresented intentionally – hence the loss of a “friend” I dearly loved last year and the resulting storm of lost connections because of the poison. And the year before? A friend of decades had no stomach for my lack of stomach for another turn of stomping on things precious, ironically. I wasn’t allowed to be human and so, no words for 2 years now. No vocal words, just those messages most safe, via social media and some texts. But I’m definitely out because I wasn’t able to do another dance with confusion in that particular long bond. I shake my head thinking of the many roundy rounds I’ve been through with confusion in another relationship. And some confusing rounds I instigated too. The love is still there. There’s no stomping away. It doesn’t seem to make any sense. But I try to make sense of it. Then there are those who are just lost in a sea of indignation because in spite of having unsuccessfully attempted to help them while being in the midst of some of my own surreal schedule and scary health challenges, I didn’t pull off the paint job. I scratch my head. This? This is love? These ridiculous missteps scattering people and creating twisted piles of “logic” like “I don’t have to say I’m sorry if I’m not sorry.” I want to say “Oh, really? Duh. Congratulations on knowing how no one makes you do a damn thing you don’t wanna. Congratulations on not feeling sorrow over loss. Congratulations on finding a shiny badge for that.”

And that is where I am after the last round of poetry and river song, somewhere between remembering the vibe of love and wondering why it has to be so randomly seemingly absent at times most critical. And why my own flaws can’t be less tiring, troublesome and hurtful. There are times when it truly feels like all the universe is waiting for is that one misstep or missed step and slam. But see now I’m whining. And I don’t do that if I can possibly help it but today, mostly, I would like to feel less affected by loss and more able to put on that shiny badge everyone else is so damn proud of.

My Mama 2


Mother’s Day conjures up the many names by which we address our mothers…

Mama (my favorite)

to name a few.

My youngest son took to referring to me as “birthgiver.” I can’t read or say the word without chuckling. He has a flair for the dramatic and while he doesn’t literally call me that very often, it’s memorialized on his iPod. He receives texts from “birthgiver.” And then there’s “momnoms…” one of the often-used nicknames my middle son loves. I can’t decide which I like better. It’s a spin off from “nom nom” and appropriate, I’m thinking.

We mamas give birth, are consumed – some of us literally giving sustenance from our own bodies – and then our schedules, our energy, the old identity all of it consumed as we watch our children grow from adoring little creatures to sometimes scornful boundary-bucking beauties. And it is, all of it, beautiful. Ok, most of it.

For obvious reasons, the phrase “birthgiver” hit me today as I looked over pictures from way back before my own mama gave birth to me, to my life…

Happy Mother's Day

My beautiful Mama…

And as I reflect on mamas and life and birth and giving and consuming it strikes me how we are, all of us, capable of becoming birthgivers. I think of at least one man when that word hits my brain. So many give birth to offspring of the soul, nurturing, conjuring and calling forth dormant aspects of our personalities, our potential. It’s a beautiful truth.

My own children have birthed me in ways no others in this world, in this lifetime, can ever lay claim to… My own Mama has gifted me with a bounty of love-awareness no hiccup in our relationship can ever destroy. She is a beauty, inside and out.

j. ruth kelly, 2014, all rights reserved

j. ruth kelly, 2014, all rights reserved

And then there is the sense of a dance eternal, of a weaving and woven tapestry reaching back into fields and lifetimes centuries back…so often I have thanked my children for finding me, for choosing me to be their birthgiver. For that is what we are here for, all of us. We’re here to give birth to each other by our love and support, our encouragement and courage in truth with each other. We can choose what we allow and what we refuse to birth. Such a beautiful handiwork we can, each one of us, make of our lives and of our interactions with each other in love.

It’s an especially wonderful gift to be able to receive from those we are supposedly “in charge” of, to receive on levels that nurtures their awareness that they, too, give birth and especially that they give birth to vital parts of our own souls … just. by. being. And especially by being encouraged to question everything.

So here’s to all of the birthgivers out there and the momnom yummy folk who have nurtured soul, encouraged confidence and facilitated independence… we are all grateful for the dance.

j. ruth kelly, 2013

Wonder Sense

“Is the exploration of the natural world just a pleasant way to pass the golden hours of childhood or is there something deeper?

I am sure there is something much deeper, something lasting and significant. Those who dwell, as scientists or laymen, among the beauties and mysteries of the earth are never alone or weary of life. Whatever the vexation or concerns of their personal lives, their thoughts can find paths that lead to inner contentment and to renewed excitement in living. Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. There is symbolic as well as actual beauty in the migration of the birds, the ebb and flow of the tides, the folded bud ready for the spring. There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature — the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after the winter.” (Rachel Carson, from The Sense of Wonder)

I reflect on 2013 with surprise, amazement and gratitude. The landscape behind me unfolds many growthful moments sustaining but not without the visitation of potent losses and some ridiculous scuffles with bullies in grown-up pose. Yet, an underpinning of daily love-wealth and a sense of wonder grows in the midst of it all, somehow not diminished by all that could potentially block the light of such a beautiful sun shining down on our fleeting lives. The blossoming of new ventures and friendships, the growth of my children and their ability to nurture the creative within, feltness of soul and the wisdom of authenticity, these realities settle all the questions posed by events impossible to control. The punctuation of some fractured bonds and tides of change suggesting something I should have done differently or might have foreseen if only I hadn’t trusted, loved, kept my heart open…had a pulse, passion, and vision…these moments whisper at me too. “If only” takes me nowhere. So I try not to go there. The alternative is to close off, shut down, refuse risk, assume it’s all caused by some fatal internal flaw. Those “laws of attraction” can pose some ugly possibilities and ignores how ironic it is when the narcissists presumably thrive while the givers receive loss and those who never had a chance take the blame. I’ve concluded popular beliefs are not validated by their popularity any more than when most preferred the flat earth theory. While it’s critical we stay aware of the wicked unconscious within, doing what we can to transform, or corral or oust the more destructive layers of self, I find myself nauseated by the assurances of so many platitudes and easy answers. There are times I want to barricade myself against the world, humanity’s confusion left to boil itself out.

But the sky.

But the hugs and sounds of three birthing the soul of the world in their own unique ways.

j. ruth kelly, 2013

j. ruth kelly, 2013

But love.

But the call of birds.

But the feel of softness against skin.

Rain on face.

Sun pouring vibrations vibrant.

So much wonder.

Here’s to letting go, leaping into the unknown and trusting love…

Bless the Birds?

“As you proceed through life, following your own path, birds will shit on you. Don’t bother to brush it off. Getting a comedic view of your situation gives you spiritual distance. Having a sense of humor saves you.” Joseph Campbell

I have to say bird shite has been finding a sure path to my er, path lately. Literally and metaphorically. This quote’s a great reminder to keep laughing. And dancing…

Bird in the Storm…

“There is no escape… You say yes to the sunlight and pure fantasies, so you have to say yes to the filth and the nausea. Everything is within you, gold and mud, happiness and pain, the laughter of childhood and the apprehension of death. Say yes to everything, shrink nothing. Don’t try to lie to yourself. You are not a solid citizen… You are a bird in the storm. Let it storm! Let it drive you!” Hermann Hesse


God is the Name…

“God is the name by which I designate all things which cross my path violently and recklessly, all things which alter my plans and intentions, and change the course of my life, for better or worse.” Carl Jung

all things which turn my soul inside out,
fretting my spirit a song,
fingers playing me along the song of humanity,
this melody, me, sometimes serene,
and then suddenly crescendo-ing a new direction,

all because this God drags me to the ground,
stuffing the dirt of life’s truth into my mouth,
down my throat, into my stomach
to churn something more sustaining
than any assembly-line belief system solace could stew.

more real than any brew of words could induce
and yet the words come spilling out
the evidence of something new.

God is the name by which I describe all torrents and currents
shifting my tides into a more passionate storm of living.
And Goddess greets me in the details revealed, the aftermath,
their mutual conspiracy unfolding a life.

*with thanks to Carl Jung for reminding me*

j. ruth kelly, all rights reserved

j. ruth kelly, all rights reserved

Constellations Colliding

Previously quoted, posted, appreciated, re-stated and applicable always and especially today:

“We do not grow absolutely, chronologically. We grow sometimes in one dimension, and not in another; unevenly. We grow partially. We are relative. We are mature in one realm, childish in another. The past, present, and future mingle and pull us backward, forward, or fix us in the present. We are made up of layers, cells, constellations.” Anaïs Nin

My world has roiled lately with backlash (my back gave out, a regular event in my life for over 2 decades now, fortunately only every 2 years) and more backlash (constellations colliding). I’m amazed, in spite of 45 years of living, at the seeming contradiction of realities residing in one individual, including myself. And multiplied across the planet almost exponentially: Loving, giving, punitive, manipulative. Unable to see it as such. Wait. Whiplash. My back hurts. Not that I’m perfect. (Shhh) Not that there’s any such thing.

But why? Why do people feel it acceptable to push others into a corner and call it motivation? Frown on anything not rigid, not controlled by fear of judgement, not bending to narrow-minded perspectives and, as they frown, self-justified, turn and declare the one-not-cowed “immature,” why? It’s not only heartless. It’s illogical. (I see this in the media everyday. I roll my eyes. But when it knocks on my door. WAAH!)

( And as I analyze and deal with this fact in some situations, if I continue to go after all that’s wrong about it I refuse the truth I’m embracing in this quote. o.O )

We had an event in my home this week. Not directly. But definitely involving a huge victory for my oldest and youngest children’s robotics team followed by this smashing crash with bits and parts flying everywhere as constellations collided in a pile of relationship flotsam. It wasn’t fair. It wasn’t love. It was ridiculously confusing. (And still is.) It amounted to a refusal to see the acceptable humanity in another and a sad, rigid perspective of behavior with resulting punitive elements thrown in for good measure.

After a crazy scramble to salvage what can be salvaged, I land on this Anaïs Nin gem and can only comfort myself with the fact that some things can’t and won’t be reconciled. Not logically. But heartfully…

the heart is another matter, residing on planes and resting in soil refusing sometimes to ruthlessly record the wrongdoings and unjust goings on but deciding instead to remember the love (not that this is always the best approach, mind you!), growing a harvest hopefully nourishing soul. We know we won’t be able to fathom the motivations or stated justifications since we don’t live on whatever planet some live on but we do fathom the love regardless. The love we feel in spite of it. The investment made and the hopes nurtured. Somehow smashed bits of relationship flotsam can be pieced back together. For now.

I’m left with a deeper appreciation for the fact that one facet (or say, 20!) of any one person is not all there is to know and what we choose to embrace in our challenging experiences with those less desirable layers will reveal and deepen our capacity for love. If we allow it…but the backlash can be challenging.

As it turns out, we all know each other as well as we know outer space and the mechanisms and multitudinous intricacies of mitochondrial function and the core of the earth. And. Ad Infinitum. And the certainty of uncertainty. As much as I’m able to accept that anything is possible from person to person, that some people suddenly change their pattern of behavior (without doing drugs or having a psychotic break) because this is the way it is, there are still times when I’m blown away by the sudden turn of events. And the backlash is surreal.

The point of maturity reveals itself in how skillfully we discern which situation calls for a broader vision of tolerance and which scenario simply cannot allow us to continue the dance. And even then. We don’t always know what we think we know until the songs are over (or until the metaphors are finished roiling in the oven of transformation, threatening to stink up the post in a confusion of impressions!).

So, we shall see.