A Beautiful Ache.

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Last night, my teenager and I sent off her girlfriend, who was here for prom last week. We all drove to Philadelphia airport the day before, amidst tears of goodbyes, and her flight was cancelled. So, we got to repeat it all last night. It was emotional. It was touching. And, it was one of the most beautiful things I get to witness first hand.

Love.

As we drove to the airport, the love that these two share inspired and touched me in so many ways. I am so fortunate to have such love in my life, but to see my child experience it, so tender and beautiful, is a miracle. It has been a challenging couple of years for her, so for her to find another human being that loves her, for who she is, and figure out how to make a distance of 700 miles from one another work, gets my admiration.

As a young adult, I often thought that the power of love was in the romance and lightness of it all. Give me candlelit dinners, gifts and flowers, and lots of expressions of love and affection, and that was love in a nutshell for me. With my family, it was openness, honesty, and lightness, humor and hugs. Love was warm fuzzies and cuddles and smiles. Love lost, through death, or break up, or disagreement, felt awful, painful, and not something I cared to experience.

However, I more deeply understand all of the aspects of love, as I experience it, and through observation of others. Love is heartbreaking at times; times when the pain cuts deeply and we feel like we don’t know how to manage it. It is confusion and loss of light and hope. It is expectations that aren’t easily realized. It is not just flowers, cuddles and hugs, but difficulty, pain, loss and confusion.

And, it is ALL beautiful.

Love is the ultimate, only answer for what we need to build connection with others. Love comes in many forms. Love never ventured is not gained, not felt. An open heart is the only way to truly feel and experience this world, from my perspective anyway. So, when I view the world in this way, and the relationships that I have, build, and observe, EVERY aspect of love and an open heart is a risk, but so very worth it.

So even an aching heart is well worth having.

It Doesn’t Matter.

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A few days ago, my fiance’ and I had a blip on the screen. At the time, it felt like more than that. We were having a variety of conversations, in which neither one of us seemed to be communicating to or understanding one another very effectively. As a result, by the end of the day, we were both annoyed, hurt and irritated. She felt like she wasn’t being listened to or understood, and I felt like I was not being listened to or understood. In the moment, it felt all important and serious.

A couple of hours later, when I was ready to take down my wall, and she was ready to sit and be still, we were able to come back together, talk about it, and reconnect. All was well, as it had been all along, but in the moments of what seemed like difficulty, it seemed all important.

What I realized at the end of it all, is that the stuff of life, which is everything, seems so all important when we are in the midst of it. But, in actuality, none of it matters at all. It doesn’t matter in the whole scheme of things if she seems annoyed by me, or I feel hurt by her. It doesn’t matter because none of it is the truth. However, as humans, it often takes us awhile to get to the bottom of something, because the story seems so all important.

For me, I wanted my story of importance to be understood, for her to not assume that I didn’t care about her love of music. I wanted to feel hurt that she would view me in that way. She wanted to feel that I don’t listen to her when she talks to me. We both had our buttons pushed by each other, our most vulnerable spots were exposed, and even though we know each other well, we still default to not seeing the real story at times.
So, I put up a wall of silence, and detachment, and she leaves for awhile. And then, when we are sick of ourselves, which doesn’t take long, thankfully, we come back to a common ground.

Our common ground is Love and Forgiveness. We always know that it is there, but there are moments when we forget. When we forget that we have a choice in how we interact with one another, and others in our world, and we resort to old habits and the need to be the one who is right. We want to feel justified in our anger, or hostility, or hurt. And, often when we as humans feel that way, we build a wall around ourselves and stop connecting with others. And, there is no feeling for me that is more lonely.

I don’t want to be lonely in this world.

So, after the tears, and talk, and connection, we realized at the end of the day that none of the stories really matter at all. There is no one of us that is right, or wrong; there is nothing that has to be justified or defended. All that matters is that as two humans swirling through this world, we get to keep coming back to a place of love, of forgiveness and understanding.

And, we get to remember that the one that we most get to love and forgive is ourselves.

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Why Am I Here?

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I have always felt very strongly like I have some sort of purpose in my life, that there must be a specific reason of why I am here at this moment in time. At some points, I have thought my purpose was to create more love and joy in the world. Other times, I have thought it was to write books, and travel the world, speaking about concepts that are meaningful. And, most recently, I have thought that my main purpose is to create awareness and understanding around the needs of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons, particularly youths. Whatever I have thought is my purpose has always been related to the way in which I connect with others in a deeper way.

However, lately I have been thinking about this concept on a deeper level. I have been thinking lately that what IF I have no purpose in being here? What IF I am simply here to live my life, moment to moment? At the same time that that feels frightening, as if I have no purpose, and that means, no identity; at the same time it is quite freeing.

It is freeing because I get to keep remembering to stay in the present moment. It isn’t whether or not I am able to be in the present moment, ever. It simply is whether or not I choose to be there, or to be past or future focused instead. It can be a challenge to do that, because I am a person, like many others, who is also focused on the concept of clock time. Only so many hours in the day. Many problems to solve and things to enjoy. Much to be done in only a little bit of time.

However, when I am really just present, in the now, there are no problems. It doesn’t mean that there may not be difficult situations that I find myself in the midst of, but when I am present, I get to have a perspective that doesn’t make them problematic. If I am physically in pain, I can complain or seek relief, or I can be present to it, and realize that it will pass. If I am having a particularly challenging day at work, I can take one task at a time, moment to moment, and remember that I enjoy my work.

I have always wanted to save the world from itself; show people how they could be happier, more fulfilled in what they do and who they are. I believed that the world had a problem that I could solve. And, even though I have gained wisdom in my life that I feel good about, to believe that I have to fix others is to believe that there is something inherently wrong with them. I don’t have to DO anything. I don’t have to FIX anything. We are all uniquely perfect as we are; with our flaws and quirks and ways that we do things. We have things that we struggle with and that we take pride in. Yet, we all are beautifully, perfectly flawed just as we are.

When I stay in the present moment, as often in the day as I remember, I embrace the fact that the only true purpose for me is to embrace that moment. Be in it fully, joyful or sorrowful. Enter it completely. Cherish it. It takes the angst out of what it is I think I am supposed to be doing, and takes the fear out of my thinking. The “What If” thinking diminishes, and I don’t worry or plan for the future. I just stay in the now.

It’s not a perfect practice mind you. I keep remembering it more frequently every day. And, as a result, I am less pressured, less guilt ridden, and more attentive to the world within me and around me.

When I stay in the present moment, and forget any grand plan of why I am here, I am truly free.

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Surrender and Peace.

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This week, we discovered a new type of bird in our yard, by the way that it chirped. It is a Northern Flicker, a bird that is in the woodpecker family. We have many types of birds that spend time in our yard, and make their presence known every morning. Its colors are bright, and nature like, and its chirp sounds loud, declarative and playful.

One evening, we heard the cry of an animal outside after dark, but couldn’t see what it was. When we went outside, one of our cats had a Northern Flicker on the ground. After chasing the cat away, we went to check on the bird. It was lying on the ground, appearing to not be able to fly. We tried to move it, by picking it up with the dustpan and broom to put it somewhere safely. Every time we attempted to move it, it screamed and cried. We felt so helpless, yet we knew that it was possibly hurt beyond our help. We decided to leave it there, and let nature run its course, whatever that may mean.

As I got ready to go inside, I looked closely at this little creature. Its tiny eyes were blinking every few seconds, and I could see its chest slowly moving up and down as it was breathing. It looked calm, on its back, wings tucked in. It looked peaceful.

The word that mostly came to me was Surrender.

The word surrender does not mean defeat, and it doesn’t even mean giving up, at least in my mind. Surrender, what I saw in this beautiful creature, meant a letting go. It meant acceptance. Accepting and honoring that we need do nothing, just let things unfold as they are intended.

I have a hard time with surrender. I still believe at times that the harder that I hang onto something, the more likely that I will be able to influence or dictate the outcome. That theory never works well for me, and in the process, I feel as far from peaceful as I can be. I feel anxious, edgy, and controlling when I hold onto something for dear life. I am scared and wanting things to be a certain way, focused on future or past.

However, when I let go, when I realize that there is nothing that I need to do in this moment, that all is well, I feel calm. I feel peaceful. I feel no fear, and have a deep understanding that things are just as they should be. That I don’t have to be the expert, or the fixer, or to take care of anything.

The other benefit for me in choosing surrender, is that I don’t then need to feel compelled to believe my way is the only way to view things, that I am the expert, that I am the one that knows what is best. When I let go, and am peaceful within, I can not only accept my situation, but more easily accept where others are at as well, without judgment or fear. I can just let others BE.

The morning after finding that bird, when we woke up we discovered that another creature in our yard had killed the bird, and its feathers were all over the yard. Remnants were here and there. Yet, after leaving it the night before, we never heard another sound. Like it was ready.

Like letting go was what took it to peace and freedom.

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Easy to Love.

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I got to meet my co-worker’s new baby yesterday, three months old of beautiful cuteness. He was sweet, smiley and easy to fall all over. And, he got me thinking about how easy it is to love babies. Babies are cute, they smell good, and they just ooze innocence. Their beauty is evident in everything that they do, from smiling to cooing to the way that they move in the world.

So, it got me thinking even bigger and more deeply about how easy it is to love some people in this world. For me, babies are easy. Puppies and kittens, they are really easy. Even small children are way easy for me. And, today I was thinking about why that is, why is it that those cute little creatures are so easy to love?

For me, it is all about their innocence. They are new to the world, or at least, relatively so. They have just arrived, and their slates are clean. They are open, and free, and just expressing themselves all over the place. They are open to learning without a filter. Their innocence shines like the sun.

But, here is the kicker. The innocence for me, of puppies, kittens and babies, is easier for me to see. But the real truth is, we ALL are innocent beings. We all have our core self that is completely clean and clear of the woes and darkness that we may encounter in this world. Amidst the choices that we make and the lives that we lead, we still all are innocent in our nature.

I find it so easy to see the innocence in beings that are new to this world, and not so easy to see the innocence in the faces of those that I see everyday, whether they be close to me in my life or strangers driving by me on the highway. I have many filters through which I view these people, and based on what I think I know about the world, I judge them as good, or bad. And, I rarely see their innocence.

Today, I am working toward, yet again, seeing the true innocence in others. It doesn’t mean that I don’t see actions from others as they are; or even that I am naive to the world around me. It just means that I remember, know and understand that we are all vulnerable being, and able to be seen through the eyes of love and compassion. I remember that I don’t know anyone else’s story, I remember that I don’t know anything about another person’s experience. And yet, I can still see them as whole and full of light.

I can still remember the innocence of all of us.

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