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Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Showing Up

My mother's view


I will be flying to Jamaica in a couple of days to spend a week with my mom. Even better, my son is going, too, having decided to spend his spring break squiring his grandma around. He wants to get her out the house, even in a wheelchair, taking her for walks under the impossibly blue sky. He wants her to sit on a bench in the garden and feel the sun on her shoulders. He is being trained in the mechanics of human motion so he knows how to get her down the stairs safely. For sure he inspires confidence. He makes my mother feel taken care of and safe. She is thrilled he is coming to see her. Yes, she's thrilled about me too, but it's her grandchildren who strum her heartstrings like no other.

And yes, while I am there, I will attend that weekend retreat in the hills that my cousin, the life coach and spirit talker, is holding. My brother kept saying, "Helen is running it?" Because you know, we remember each other as children, and she was our little cousin, a blithe giggling spirit, eyes dancing. And now, so many depend on the advice she gives, gentle and affirming and dosed with such good humor. My weekend will be profound or it will be wacky. Either way, I will be happy to be there with my cousin and her clients in the hills of the place that was my first home.

But first, I have to get out of the city. Ooooh boy! I am proud of myself for having determined to go, because really, it does seem that I am throwing a lot of details up in the air and trusting others to take care of them. It is a good start that I understand that I am not as essential as I think to the process of closing this short-staffed magazine. Still, there is so much to do before I go, so much to hand off, and it really is the worst week I could possibly take off in the closing cycle. But the greatly gifted writer who is my friend and who is about as OCD as I am, has agreed to cover for me, and though she will make different decisions on things than I would, I know her decisions will make sense, and everything will get done. I am grateful to have such a colleague, even if we squabble sometimes (in a plainspoken and ultimately productive way). She's part of why I love my job.

Also before I leave, I will be sitting around a conference room table in lower Manhattan for two days, judging entries for a certain magazine award competition. There will be publishing industry muckety-mucks around the table with me, and it's a big deal to be a judge for these awards. It's made my week crazier than it needed to be, there was so much reading and deciding to be done ahead of time. But when I was asked to do this I knew I needed to say yes, even if I didn't know what I would wear, even if I am leaving for the airport right after the second day of judging.

Something I'm working on is showing up more in my life. A friend from many years ago, who had moved with her family to Austin, Texas, was in town last month and she left a message on my voice mail asking to see me. I am so much fatter than when she knew me, back in my 20s and 30s. All I could think about was the look that would flicker in her eyes as they first settled on me, and I didn't return her call. And this is a woman I love, whose hand I held in the delivery room as her youngest child was making his way into the world. Her husband, a photographer, was out of town when she went into labor. And yet I didn't return her call last month. I'm trying to let go of self-recrimination, I'm so very good at it, but I do need to say I'm a little ashamed. So I'm intending to do better, to be better, to show up.


17 comments:

  1. Our circumstances are so different/our circumstances are so the same.
    I love you. That's all. And I know.

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    1. Ms Moon, i often marvel at it, how different we are and yet how much the same. Life is such an odd duck. I love you. And I know you know.

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  2. I'm so glad you're going. And your son as well.

    Just last night I got a phone call that I knew was an invite to go out on the town, late. I didn't answer it and fell asleep wondering if I should have. Should I have gone? But I was tired. Life is so confusing. Why do we fret over these things at all?

    My own mother once turned down a reunion similar to yours because her house wasn't clean. I was so frustrated with her at the time, but now I understand.

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    1. Vesu, life is confusing, but i suppose once the opportunity is past it makes no sense to fret, only to decide if we would do it differently next time. because these sorts of opportunities come again. and yes, i do understand your mother all too well. funny thing is, i don't care about messy houses and gained weight and such. all i see is my friend. why do i assume others are different when it comes to me. sigh. xo

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  3. Yay! I'm so glad you're going Angella! It's always good to get away and get a new perspective AND seeing your mom and doing this retreat with your cousin, icing on the cake. Bon Voyage!
    And this heartbreaking thing with your old friend....I've done this. It's difficult to let go of the regret. You do very well with intending to do better and show up. I follow your lead.
    love,
    yo

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    1. yo, this heartbreaking thing indeed. it is that. perhaps i will be able to break through such prisons soon. i hope. love to you, dear friend. and to the dishwasher. he has been very silent lately. i hope your family is well. xo

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  4. Double yay! I'm glad you're doing it. And I've done the missing out on seeing people because I once was thin and now I'm not. I like the showing up in your life thing.

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    1. Kristin, i was never thin, but i am definitely fatter than i was. it is sort of sad to allow ourselves to be prisoners in our bodies. i once missed a book reading because i just couldnt bring myself to show up. isn't that appalling? no more.

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  5. I'm thrilled you are going and that your son is going too. I hope you find it - something, anything, everything there. I've gone on trips like this before with so many expectations, too many I think that I miss what's around me because I have tunnel vision. So be open to it all and keep your heart and mind ready. I think we can be changed by a sunset or a lost shoe or a breeze depending on how we look at it.
    The ocean always has something to say. Safe travels
    xoxo

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    1. Rachel, I think you are exactly right! To go there and have no expectations and to simply meet what arises. I have refrained from asking questions about the retreat, how many people, who will be my roommate (normally i would seriously try to work around sharing a room at all), schedule etc etc etc. I am prepared for magic, even if the magic is a breeze or a sunset or the smell of the green hills. Thank you for this wonderful comment. xo

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  6. I've discovered (through thinking of my own reactions) that people might initially notice a change in you and then go back to thinking about themselves. Unfortunately we are all a pretty self-centered lot -- different than selfish. I'm glad you are going to show up more as there really is no other way. I speak like such an expert when I really feel exactly the same as you but I am trying to change those thoughts myself. I think your travel plans, and having your son with you for part of the time, sound wonderful. Enjoy! Sweet Jo

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  7. I'm pretty jealous of all the wonderful things you'll be doing over the next week... but jealous in a good way. I hope you have a blast!

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  8. but look at all that you've accomplished, and the beautiful family you have. you are t ruly blessed.

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  9. Oh, I am so glad that you've decided to go and will hope that everything DOES just fall into place around you beforehand. And how wonderful, too, that your son is going. He sounds like a god, Angella -- I know he looks like one!

    As for the fat stuff -- I hear you. I recently went away for a reunion with some college friends, many of whom I hadn't seen in twenty or more years. I was embarrassed to have them see me looking so much bigger and even now, when I see our photos, I can't believe what I USED to look like and how different I am now. I don't know what to do about this other than sigh and moan and bear the trappings of vanity or reframe the whole thing. I did find, though, that when I was WITH these women, I was MYSELF, and that sort of transcended the physical. If you know what I mean.

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  10. bon voyage, angella. that's all that matters...the soaring through the air to be with your mother, to receive the balm of a time you've carved out to nurture and be nurtured. take good care xo.

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  11. Oh I am so happy you decided to go. When you first wrote about the possibility, I felt sure that you HAD to go, to do something good for your self and your soul. And your son is going too, even more wonderful.

    I know these words are just words, but woman! You are not what you look like on the outside but who you are on the inside. You are still the you your friend wants to see, and I can't imagine the years have left her untouched as well. That said, my inner critic always compares me to to my younger, thinner, cooler friends. My weight is more recently an issue, but my utter lack of fashion sense always makes me feel like an odd duck when I go out with the girls. I never look put together, just thrown together. Worse, I feel boring, having little of note to discuss lately. Boring people are boring, and I'm working on that, or trying to. But I believe our friends didn't choose us for our looks or our fashion sense, but for who they believe us to be. And you may not see it clearly right now, in the hormonal haze, but you are a fascinating, intelligent, thoughtful, articulate, accomplished and amazing woman. So there are the words, for what they are worth. I hope this trip helps you find your way back to yourself, with love and hope for whatever comes next.
    xo

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  12. I'm so glad you're making this trip! And how great that your son is going too. It will make all the difference in the world to your mom and to you, too.

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