The Inbox is Always Open

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I wrote a blog post last week about unconditional love. I wrote it about myself and my own unique journey in life, because all anyone can truly know intimately is our own stories.

I received dozens of personal messages in response, both from people that I know and people that I don’t. It was the biggest number of messages I’ve ever gotten about a blog post.

All but one of the messages were people telling me how much my words helped them. People came forward and shared their own stories with me about their journeys with family and friends and spouses, and about how they were trying to find love without a “but” attached to it. I will always honor that trust and I feel humbled when I can create a safe place for those needing to tell their truths.

Two of those messages were from people who wanted to tell me that they were touched by my post, but couldn’t comment publicly for fear that some of their friends may de-friend them if they supported what I wrote. They specifically asked me to remain silent about their contact with me. This always hits home with me, because I’ve been told to “be careful” and “not talk like that, or else” for my whole life. As if my own organic words and thoughts and opinions aren’t valid enough to share. Or are inherently dangerous somehow.

Because of this, it has been a real work in progress for me to even find my voice. The messages I received from those who can’t yet speak publicly remind me vividly of when I was not allowed a voice, at least not one that disagreed with anyone.

But when I write from my heart, almost inevitably a message shows up from someone that I don’t know, or some ex or old friend that I haven’t seen in years, wanting to tell me how mean and cruel and spiteful I am. And to point out the ways that I have hurt them. Because they are quite sure that what I wrote was a direct attack on them personally.

If I look at the big picture and take a helicopter view, or just look at statistics, it appears that my words helped more than they hurt.

Because here’s the thing…. If someone is looking for a reason to make it about them and be upset with me, they will always find it.

Just like if someone is looking for the best in me, they will always find that, too.

After the last drama-filled message that I got, I realized that I stopped writing. Again. Or rather, stopped sharing what I wrote.

Without thinking, I let myself be silenced again.

But since I’m not out here preaching hate or drowning bags of puppies, it’s ridiculous that I should not be allowed to speak. Especially because my words are always about how we are more alike than we are different. They are about common ground and love, never exclusion or hate.

So I am going to keep coming here and speaking my truth. I will not gossip or name names because that is not how I work. But I am a writer by nature. I feel compelled to share my stories and thoughts with the world. I’ve been doing that for many years now, in notebooks and on my blogs and in my articles and in my novels. But I do so in general terms about my thoughts and feelings on love and life.

No one is under attack here.

But it seems that in these divided times, honest feelings and thoughts can be perceived as hurtful or cruel. This is true on all sides, with each and every issue we face. It seems that the mere act of starting a conversation, or asking a question, can be views as “an attack.”

This is true not just for me, but for all of us. I can’t tell you how many people have told me lately that they have been blocked and de-friended and yelled at and black-balled from their people. For small things that turned huge. This is not something that is only happening to me. I get a little more attention for it, is all.

But if we are not allowed to speak our truth, how the hell are any of us going to fix any of this? It seems to me that gossip and ignoring the issues are not fixing America the Broken, or its citizens.

Every person that is my “friend” is here is by choice, and someone I connect with and know. But I’m not selling you anything and I’m not forcing you to stay. I get no monetary benefit from your presence. I merely gain the pleasure of your virtual company.

But you should know that I’m not going to sit down and be quiet about any of the things that matter in this life. It is far too important right now to keep the conversation going.

And if the things that I write bother you, you may want to ask yourself why.

The inbox is always open, folks. At least on my end. But we can’t fix it if we all stop talking.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Have It Your Way Era

 

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It seems we live in a world of Delete. Block. Defriend.

Or as I affectionately call it,
The Have It Your Way Era.

 
You don’t like what someone said on your news feed? Delete their comments! This is YOUR Facebook, after all…

 
Are they bugging you with what they post? You don’t like that? Block ‘em!

 
Someone told you that you are using a word wrong? Or maybe they believe the 97% of scientists who think climate change is real? Defriend them. Who needs that kind of drama? You are educated and don’t need anyone to tell you what to think.

 
I’m going to just say it flat out that I find this behavior just ridiculous for grown adults. It’s like Middle School America around here.

 
I have a lot of friends with a lot of varying opinions and faiths and political preferences. People from all over the world with a wide range of lifestyles. I do not block you or defriend you for this. I will boot your ass for name calling and downright threats, but I’d also do that if you were nasty in my living room. But, in truth, most people simmer down with a warning. Or go away on their own. Thankfully, I get very little drama on my feed. It seems that despite all the diversity, I have civil and open-minded adults as friends.

 
But it seems that some adults believe if they delete, then those things didn’t happen. Or maybe weren’t real? I don’t know, because I don’t get it.

 
I don’t do the delete game. I don’t delete, unless I accidently posted a rainbow or something. I will go in and edit small grammatical stuff, because pretty much everything I do happens while I’m wrangling a toddler and a cat and maybe a dog and a 6-year-old. And I’m kind of a perfectionist so I want to sound like I can formulate sentences. But otherwise, what I post, STAYS. Always. You know why? Because I don’t post it unless I believe it enough to stand behind it. It’s as simple as that.

 
And because I KNOW that even if I delete something, that it doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. And ultimately, WE still know what WE said. Or what someone else said. We can’t UNDO it or make it unhappen. We all know this, right? RIGHT?

 
It’s like doing something stupid and getting drunk to forget about it. And then you get so wasted that you black out so you just assume that means that none of it happened.

 
Uh, no. It still happened. Still real. You just blocked it out.

 
Which is kind of how so many seem to look at life right now.

 
“I don’t like that. It bothers me. I don’t need to think about that. I’ll block it.”

 
Uh, okay. But it’s still real. You know that, right? And some of the things you are blocking will seriously impact your life, even if you are flat-out on purpose ignoring it all.

 
Which could quite honestly be viewed as irresponsible.

 
So here’s my wish for the day. My challenge to all of you, if you are up for it:

 
Do not be a Have It Your Way Person. To grow as people and as a nation, we need to drop the Have It Your Way Era and it’s selfish line of thinking.

 
We need to grow up and accept responsibility for learning about the world around us. And not just the people that look and think like we do. We need to be willing to listen to different people with open minds, and not just the ones that make us feel good about ourselves.

 
Find who you are and what you believe and share that. Stand behind that. But make it a two-way conversation.

 
Let the world in and stop constantly micro-managing until you only see what you want to see. We don’t learn anything that way. Not when you make sure every door is locked up tight before you walk by.

 
It’s an illusion, this “reality” we try to create in the image of what we want the world to be. It’s not real, not when you constantly shift what you allow into your life.

 
And don’t say it’s only on social networking. Because like it or not, social networking IS where we are.

 

What would the world look like to you if you stopped constantly filtering what was allowed, on and off your news feed?

Looking for Light

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Every morning, now that the seasons are changing and the morning brings a crisp bite to the air, Lincoln and I head out looking for light.

We start out with Brice on his bike, half a block ahead of us, soaring down the hills from our house towards his school. I do all I can to not scream at him to be careful. But he is. I’ve taught him and he’s careful. He stops at driveways and long before an intersection. He goes as fast as he can and then slams on the brake and fishtails. He looks back to take in the black mark he created on the sidewalk and then looks at me with a huge smile. He gives me a thumbs up and I give one back. Lincoln waves.

We drop off Brice at school and we visit with a mom or two each morning. It’s a lovely way to start the day. Brice takes off with his friends and then heads into school in a single file line when the bell rings, so Lincoln and I head off, me on foot and him in the jogger.

We used to have a plan, a route I’d take based on the day and how much time I had to walk. We’d head up towards Tahoe Park and walk through the grass, chasing up geese and looking out at the ski ramp before it was brought on land for the winter. We’d head down Haskell past where my cousin Frank and his wife Suzanne used to live, and then over the dam and wind our way through downtown. Some days we headed along the lake through the green manicured lawns of the subdivisions along the water, then up the secret sidewalk and come back home on our own street. It depended on the day, but usually I had it mapped with a clear route.

But these cold mornings leave me wanting to head back home to sit on a warm radiator, so instead, we walk wherever the sunlight hits. At the end of each block, at whatever intersection we find ourselves, we head toward the light. It warms our faces, and hopefully Lincoln’s head and hands, since he throws hats and mittens like baseballs. Instead he holds my hand as I lean over the jogger, and I try to keep them warm.

We wind through town mostly, past tiny little ranches and huge old Victorians and everything in between, the sun on our faces. We walk just as long and just as far probably, but we wander in a zig-zag in search of light and the warmth it provides.

I wouldn’t have done this, had it not been for the chill in the air. I’m a planner, you could say, and I like things in order. I’d have stayed on task and created a specific route.

But what if this is better? To have a goal in mind but not be really picky about the exact path that gets me there?

I’m planning only a block or an hour or a day ahead, because that is where the sun is shining right now. I’ll walk in the shade if we have to, because sometimes that’s all there is. But if I can, I’m choosing the warmest path, the one where the light is shining.

What Keeps Me Away

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I want to blog to you fine people. I do.

But then it goes like this… I make two phone calls that I really need to make when it finally gets quiet. But no one answers when I have time to call so I leave messages and go off to find the baby. This is how I spend a lot of the day, finding the baby in a very big house. He’s in his room with the cat this time, playing with the baby monitor. He smells poopy, so I take him downstairs to change him. He keeps the monitor and I don’t have a free hand to fight him so the cat chases us down the stairs after the cord, because that’s helpful.

While I change the baby and try to get the cat to back off, both phone calls got returned. But now Brice is asking for a snack and our fix it guy is putting in a new sidewalk out front, so his son is here playing. And there is dinner to make and phone calls to try to return from the chaos. I spend the time on the phone bribing children with cookies and a finger in the air, as in, JUST GIVE ME ONE MINUTE PLEASE! Silently, cause I’m the phone.

And this is why I don’t write to you nice folks. Because I can’t really seem to create a total and complete thought much less a complete blog post.

I want it to be perfect and meaningful and have some answer and message. But sometimes, the only message I seem be able to have is the one I live, which is a cycle of all day, every day… feed, water and wash. And wash is really optional depending on the day. So…

I’m going to try to be here more, even if my thoughts are random and not complete. Even if I don’t have all the answers, or any, on some days. But I’m going to do all I can to keep coming back.

Now I’m going to go find my baby.

Also, everyone keeps telling us that Lincoln is not a baby anymore. Obviously a subject for another day.