Happy Marketing of Motherhood Day!

I bet you can tell by the title that I’m done with forced appreciation days. I bet I’m not alone. I bet there are a million other moms out there who would just like the world to recognize that women are human, that moms are human, that moms have too much asked of them and not enough expected of them in terms of their growth as individuals and. And. I bet you the consumer ideology that heaps a load of obligation on our backs smells really bad right now while the money rolls in and the lines queue up at the local Cheesecake Factory. I bet you.

[I bet you none of it compares to the birthing our children do of us mothers. I bet you no one has a clue. I bet you there is nothing more challenging or more beautiful or more terrifying or more heartbreaking than bringing 3 lives into an utterly mad, mad world.]

I bet you might assume this is a terrible day for me for some crazy reason. But the truth is, it’s not. It’s a day like many others, a day in which I’m contending with the very intense requirements of motherhood while juggling the fallout of others’ mothers’ fallout while everyone ignore’s the power of others in general. And a day when women are the first and easiest scapegoats in a line of ancient feminine scapegoats. But I don’t feel like one of those scapegoats. I refuse that vibe. I just know this world. And I weary of the disorders posing parenthood and authoritarianism crushing humanism and transformation. It’s everywhere, all day, everyday and it especially wreaks havoc on mothers, telling them they can never ____ and the shouldn’t ever ____ and if they fart sideways they might ruin the world. Ha, and they might actually. It’s a rigged game.

2014-2017, j. ruth kelly, all rights reserved

Here’s to mothers. Here’s to women who mother but have never felt the surreal sensation of a bowling ball-like human body coming through the most amazing otherwise recognized channel of incredible pleasure. As it turns out, being able to push ’em out doesn’t guarantee you’ll do much very well beyond that flesh-ripping moment. And it’s high time we quit romanticizing motherhood, I bet.

Here’s to people who refuse bullshit and manage to enjoy forced appreciation days no matter what they conjure of mothers’ worst reruns or best creations. And here’s to the ones who loathe it.

[Here’s to my children whose lives have ushered in epochs of gut-wrenching, heart-embiggening, tragedy-contending, beauty-bowling moments. Here’s to my children who show love in ways no Mother’s Day can convey, who shine and grow and rip up my pretenses, my pride, and my ideas of what is perfect by being gorgeous expressions of wholeness becoming. Mother’s Day can, otherwise, go fuck itself.]

 

 

Without End

Did I climb these mountains, laboring for the other side, only to find the valleys full of silence, of empty cities where my heart stumbles down alleys full of space and trampled cast-offs?

How often does a heart withstand indifference, apathy, slumber and the non-resonance of so many assimilated before falling quiet, before finally asking if maybe the one deep resonating response is merely just heart’s call echoing against walls of hope, or bouncing back and off the hardness of others’ glib deflection, fearful trivializations? (How many self-proclaimed Useless Pucks does it take to refuse and distort love?)

And it looked so much like promise as I cast my own visions in the distance and across a sky, a night blooming dawn from the depths of my own awakening…

to what? To the amness without end, the love only rarely known (and so often feared) and the endless fall of light, to the feast of being – in spite of obstruction, to the farce of freedom, to the unexpected release and relief in letting go, to the center and deeply down to the nexus of love.

 

Bruised & Pulsing

“There are certain people who come into your life, and leave a mark…
Their place in your heart is tender; a bruise of longing, a pulse of unfinished business.
Just hearing their names pushes and pulls at you in a hundred ways,
and when you try to define those hundred ways,
describe them even to yourself, words are useless.”
– Sara Zarr, Sweethearts

j. ruth kelly, all rights reserved, 2013

j. ruth kelly, all rights reserved, 2013

Dialogue

“Communication has been ailing in the human race for a long time and Dialogue is concerned with that. But the primary purpose of Dialogue is not to communicate. It is much deeper. It addresses the blocks in communication, not merely to understand them, but to meet them directly. It is aimed at seeing resistances to communication. In Dialogue we are ready to raise topics serious enough to cause trouble. But while we are talking we are interested in being aware of what’s going on inside us and between us.

The word ‘dialogue’ has many meanings and we are giving it a particular meaning. In this Dialogue we are not trying to make our points prevail or, if we are, we need to look at that. Our challenge is to see when each of us is trying to prevail, because if anybody prevails it means the dialogue has failed.” David Bohm

Dialogue?

Dialogue? (Photo by j. ruth kelly, all rights reserved)

Love’s Mutations

No, not mutants… mutations.

“You understand that you can never own love, right? No matter how much someone adores you today, no matter how much you adore someone, you can’t force that unique state of grace to keep its shape forever. It will inevitably evolve or mutate, perhaps into a different version of tender caring, but maybe not. From there it will continue to change, into either yet another version of interesting affection, or who knows what else?” Rob Brezsny

I love this gem from Brezsny. It challenges us to accept that we cannot control the metamorphosis of love in our relationships and it reminds us that we are sometimes infected by the frenzy of a desperate shapeshifter, wrestling and kicking against what cannot be controlled.

We want reliability. We want what we experienced in the beginning. We want the rush. We want the comfort. We want not to have to adjust to what is, well, mutating.

The mutations of love in a marriage immediately come to mind ‘though mine ended years ago. I still love the man who made it possible for me to grow without fear, the father of my children. But that love morphed into something no longer capable of sustaining a growing marital bond. We’re both able to live with that truth, apart from each other, but together in parenting. The whole “’til death do us part” thing doesn’t always honor what love becomes, in spite of our best intentions. But commitment is a beautiful cauldron for love’s mutations, keeping us standing in love regardless of the shifting nature of those bonds we thought we had all figured out.

And then there is parenting and the mutations surreal, the growth witnessed on levels incomprehensible at times. We fall in love with newborn, newborn begins to crawl, our love expands, deepens; toddler calls to the sweetest memories and hopes and sometimes the worst pain too. Our love shifts, taking on hues far fiercer than we imagined possible. And on it goes. We turn around and there is this mini-adult who doesn’t agree and laughs and scoffs and well, challenges what we had known of the sweet lil creature in the beginning. But the truth is, as much as that infant was the future mini-adult, the difference is akin to welcoming a new person. Yes, these changes are gradual but can evoke an unnameable grief. We cannot go back to the 16 month old and cuddle, hold the essence so unique to babies. Or the 5 year old with the inquisitive wonder. I have come to believe that many parenting woes originate in the inability of the parent to accept that the cutie pie was always going to be someone to stand shoulder to shoulder with, to concede in argument with and look up to many times. We aren’t prepared for the changes, the introduction of so many phases of one person’s development evoking such a confusing variety of response. And we feel the quality of that love shift, taking on new shapes, subsiding in some ways, expanding in others.

Then there are the downright ugly moments.

Love bears the marks of teeth-gnashing agony at times. Resistance to these precious and sometimes wildly dramatic shifts threatens the best of love’s growth and is such a common reaction. The inner seize siege for damage control begins: “Brace yourself, close up, close off, resist, run. Turn away.” But. What we need is a willingness to nurture a vibrant resilience and receptivity, a tender kind of toughness in the face of the more daunting roundy rounds of relating, knowing we’re giving room for the mystery of love to unfold in some of the most unbelievably demanding ways.

But sometimes, we just have to walk away,

sometimes for a season, sometimes for always.

And how beautiful it all is, made more precious by the challenge and more rewarding by the tenacity.

Diplomatic Immunity?

The wisdom of Anais Nin keeps tossing itself into my line of vision these days without my soliciting it.

“Respect for the vulnerability of human beings is a necessary part of telling the truth, because no truth will be wrested from a callous vision or callous handling.” — Anais Nin

How do we provide access to the truth in a given situation, not necessarily THE truth? How do we do that simply and with grace without alienating those who don’t want to hear it but need to in order for things to progress? As it turns out, some folks just don’t want to hear it. They possess a sort of diplomatic immunity from being held accountable and sit with arms crossed and legs crossed and chin high. And their poses hum the tune of insecurity and over-compensation for vulnerability. It’s quite a tangle, working through the layers, discovering “who’s most vulnerable here?” And asking “how do I respect every person involved when so much opposition exists in one room?”

I’m amazed when someone has volunteered their involvement or their time and then assume because they have done so, they are not to be called out even if they’ve stomped on another in their line of charitable work. This is what brings to mind a twisted daily reality of “diplomatic immunity.” Their generosity or help becomes a sort of embassy in their minds where they take refuge against accountability in the land of heartful relating. “But…all these hours, all this work!” Right, but you smashed someone. Why?

Some folks will run howling from the room if you simply say “This really hurt.” Why? Because they’ve never been asked to see beyond their own sphere. Or. Because they’ve been trying so hard to prevent any disasters they’ve forgotten they’re attempts may create disaster. Why? Because control or fear-based actions tend to do that after a while. And so this business of deciding what is “callous” in a situation can appear to be subjective. But it’s safe to say a callous vision is one that doesn’t regard the needs, concerns or desires of another. (And there are vital pre-requisites to being able to even do that.)

It eventually boils down to this main question: Who, in this room of opposing views, am I most responsible for, besides myself? Loyalties, relationships, kindred souls in agreement with furthering a vision. Sometimes you have to storm the gates because there are so many gates around so many insecure sequestered “embassies” of fear any movement would be exactly that, a storm of collisions swirling. But I like this too…

“Equally, we may cast the spells of appreciation, gratitude and love – with every breath and word we utter, poetically.” Jim Fry

It’s something to aim for, anyway.

New What?!

Things I’ve seen, been touched by, moved by, otherwise disturbed or encouraged by in the past month and 8 days…

…grass growing up from the cracks, carving inevitability across sidewalks of “progress”

…hearts reuniting after months of estrangement and breathing a sigh of relief in the refreshing flow

…lives suddenly torn away from each other by the oddest, most revealing turn of events (with some lingering unfortunate confusion)

…overhearing two of my children conversationally saying “I don’t think you realize how much I love you…” (!!!!!!!!!) (they were dealing with relationship strain, beautifully, and the one who said it first was NOT the female. that’s the kind of argument you like to overhear…)

…the news of a beautiful 23 year old in India dying after the most horrifying example of inhumanity

…the proclamation of Newtown, CT “We choose love…”

…realizations of love as a conspiracy in spite of all the tyranny and violence suggesting otherwise

…renewal of faith in fate (married passionately to free will, of course)

…free-falls into grace

…a shimmering color-filled halo around the moon with barefoot laughter and kids dragged out of bed to watch (on holiday)

…a string of “coincidental” encounters speaking purpose bigger than my own designs

…a cat fight (or 2?) o.O

…friendships strengthened

…concerts calling a symphony of diversity

…paradox making meaning

…the release of singing 5 minutes of my life as a musical

…brewing schemes for more good wickedness

…recognition (the annual one) that “new” year is a great concept, allowing us the opportunity to reflect and review our lives, and wish others all the best but it’s also just another day…

And that’s the stuff I can share…