Monday, January 18, 2016

In the Reflecting Pool, the March on Washington, 1963

"The end is redemption, the end is reconciliation, the end is the creation of the beloved community."

                                                                   --Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

I don't recall holding grudges when I was younger. This seems to be a problem of my middle ages, one I'm trying to rid myself of.

I don't hold many grudges. I'm not sure "grudge" is even the right word, but I don't know another one. The source of my grudges? Not being loved enough. I think it boils down to that.

I have two friends who I've known for a long time--since college and grad school. Both are people I admire and look up to. People I love to talk to. But for some reason these friends no longer respond to my emails. No longer make an effort to keep up. I don't know why.

Now, one of my mottos is "You don't know what you don't know." You don't know when someone is having a hard time in her marriage, or when other family problems have proved overwhelming. People get depressed. Undone by life in general. So I try to keep this in mind when I think about these friends. There could be any number of reasons they've fallen out of touch.

Nonetheless, I have found myself feeling resentful toward my friends, and over time the resentment has hardened. But I don't think it's doing me much good. It feels corrosive to my spirit. It feels like a weight.

The wise and wonderful Anne Lamott has this to say about resentment:

When I first got sober in '86, I first heard someone say that harboring resentment is like drinking rat poison, and waiting for the rat to die. Resenting someone is about not forgiving them--thinking that they have done something to you so damaging or disgusting that the are beyond the pale; so therefore you are choosing to be toxic for the rest of your life, rather than to work and pray For the healing. You are willing to go through life not metabolizing the rat poison, so that this person should know what a morally repellent you believe them to be.

But the most horrible thing is that half the time, they aren't even AWARE of what it is you think they did to you. So it's a complete waste of your precious bile. When I am willing to have clogged bile ducts, because of a person who hardly thinks of me, or has no idea that he behaved like a total asshat, then I'm the crazy one. Good, because this is where my healing will begin. HELP.

I think she's right. So one of my jobs this year is to give up my resentments and grudges. Pray them away and let them go. To forgive and move on.

Step one in this process is to actually feel my feelings about the situation--to let myself fully feel the hurt, whether or not I've got all the facts. I don't think you can heal from a hurt until the wound has been fully exposed to the light. I have a habit of minimizing my hurt feelings. I have a habit of saying "who cares?" or "it doesn't matter."

That's one way hurt feelings fester into resentments and grudges, I'm pretty sure.

So I'm going to go through the painful process of feeling things, and then after that I can (begrudgingly, I'm sure) work on forgiveness. Because

a) forgiveness is required for my own mental health; and

b) it is required of me by the faith that I supposedly practice; and

c) I don't know what I don't know.

Here's the other thing I plan to do: Write back to the friends who write me. Call the friends who call. Be grateful for all the friends I have who continue to love me in spite of my own flawed self.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Who Will Clean While I Make the Quilts?

Funky Star

So it's a new year, and as I do every year  I've made my annual list of resolutions for my children. This year I've resolved that they will do more around the house. They've always had to do chores, but the fact is they could pitch in a lot more than they do. Over Christmas, as I was performing open heart surgery   climbing Mt. Everest  cursing the holidays  working my tuchus off to get everything ready, I started to grow ... what is the word for it? Resentful. Yes, that is the word for it. There they were, my wonderful boys, doing absolutely nothing while I did absolutely everything. This must change, I told myself. And so it has.

Sort of.

Jack now does the dinner dishes. Will vacuums every day and puts the water glasses on the table for dinner. Both of them are supposedly making their beds every morning, but that's hit or miss. Will is doing his laundry, but hasn't gotten around to the folding part. Jack has been doing his laundry for years--still doesn't fold.

The thing neither of them seem to be able to do? Put the dang cap back on the toothpaste. Why is this? I'm trying not to focus all of my energy on one tiny thing, but good grief, fellas!

(The New York Public Library has digitized its 
photography collections!)

The hard thing is not nagging. I'm doing my best to simply, gently remind. I send Jack funny texts, mention to Will oh-so-nonchalantly that I'd love to have the living room vacuumed by, say, dinnertime?

Which reminds me, Jack still hasn't done the dinner dishes. Sigh. Time to text.


Can I tell you something? I'm so over making dinner right now. It's not that I mind cooking, I just don't want to have to cook. I'd rather read.


Do I have resolutions? I'm not really a resolution girl, but I would like to pay closer attention as Travis and I take our walks around the neighborhood. I walk Travis almost every morning, and it's always one of two walks. We go to the end of our street and either turn right or left. Travis always chooses, and he always alternates.

I like taking the same two walks. Which are never the same two walks. We've lived in this neighborhood for almost nine years, and I've gotten to know all the yards really well. I've gotten to know the light. And still I see new things every day.

This is my neighbor's garage. The windows are at the back of the garage. You can look through them to the backyard. Usually the garage door is down, so I've never had this view before. (If you click on the picture, you can see their winter garden + sculpture.)

This is the bottom of my street in the late afternoon. There's something about the light here that's very January to me.

I saw this car this morning. Don't know who Aunt Puddin' is. Wish I did. Do you have an Aunt Puddin' in your neighborhood? I think every neighborhood should have one.

What are you resolved to pay attention to this year?