Tag Archives: Love

Early morning musings

This first poem I jotted down in the wee hours of a morning in late August but never shared. The second came out early this morning and reminded me of the first. It’s always interesting to see what the soul needs to release at that time before the mind kicks in.

HELPLESS

It is the most difficult feeling:
knowing I am helpless to save the ones I love.
What could be worse?
The fear that they may believe
I don’t care enough to help.
The pain doubles and yet
helpless I still am.
I would give anything to make them happy,
help them be at peace,
but there is nothing I can do.
 
Nothing is what I must do.
It is the only way to free them
to experience their own journeys.
Uncaring I may seem,
but my heart aches
full of love and prayers for miracles.

DENIAL

Shhh…. don’t let it show.
Don’t let anyone know
that inside you chaos reigns,
that fear courses through your veins,
that you’re continually terrified
of what’s on the other side.
 
Shhh…. don’t reveal
how scared you feel,
on even higher alert at night
when no one else has danger in sight,
afraid of what you will find
whenever you open your eyes.
 
Shhh…. just pretend.
The madness must soon end
and peace will come again.
But trust is nowhere to be found
in this world where fear abounds,
panic striking at every unusual sound.
 
Shhh…. shut up and deal
but not with you how feel.
Push it down, lock it away.
You get to live another day.
Why are you still sad?
Nothing in your life is bad.

If any of this strikes a chord with you, know you’re not alone.

And know for sure that if you have faced trauma and never opened up about it, that same kind of experience will keep repeating itself in various forms until you recognize it and deal with it.

I couldn’t help my brother survive epilepsy.
I couldn’t help my parents when my brother died.
I couldn’t help boyfriends face their old unhealed wounds.
And I couldn’t help myself until I accepted that I wasn’t responsible for any of these other people but that I was responsible for myself.

Only then could I start to forgive myself for all the unrealistic pressure I had felt and controlling behaviors I had exhibited, for the unhealthy situations I had allowed to continue, always in the name of loving someone. 

It’s taken me a long time to get here, but I now believe this is true:

No matter how much I loved these people, it was not my job to fix them. Their lives were not my responsibility. In fact, the best thing I could do was to love them unconditionally and let them be on their journeys, while at the same time take care of my own well-being.

Funny thing is I have sucked up every kind of responsibility I could find throughout my life. I was proud of how I handled things so well, so independently. What I didn’t realize until recently was that I had not fully accepted responsibility for myself — not just for my actions but also for my thoughts and my beliefs, which affect the energy I put out into the world.

We often do not create our initial wounds, but we are responsible for healing them and for being accountable for how we live our lives. With that realization, my journey started to take a much different direction. I needed to heal if I was ever going to find peace. And that has required opening up and allowing myself and others to see my messy truth. 

Vulnerability is not pretty or easy work, but it is necessary.  Thankfully, it reveals we are not alone in our pain or shame. We all have wounds. And the process is beautiful, for it allows the natural courage and strength of our spirits to come forth, and we discover that, at our cores, underneath the scars, we are unconditional love. I believe discovering that alone is worth the work.

Be well,
Carmen

31 Years

Today my brother Eric has been gone 31 years. I woke up with the first words of this poem on my brain and spent 2 inspired hours writing.

31 years (6/10/19)

31 years
of not seeing your smiling face,
hearing your booming bass voice,
feeling your crushing embrace.

31 years –
truth be told, when I heard the news, I felt relief,
thinking the fear and anxiety were over.
It was a false belief.

31 years
of trying to be helpful enough, likable enough
to be loved by someone, anyone –
no matter what kind of love.

31 years
of living peacefully alone but sad my heart was being wasted
or centering my life completely around another’s,
on the roller coaster ride between adored and deserted.

31 years
of trying to control everything around me,
thinking that would provide a life free of anxiety,
never getting quiet and still enough to hear.

My spirit was crying:
Where is the laughter? the music? the fun?
Where is the little girl happy simply to play in the sun?
What happened to knowing I am loved for who I am, not for what I do?
Where did my childhood memories go?

The time is now –
to be still, to listen within,
to show myself the love I have been seeking,
to know I am here for a reason.

Joy: that is my reason –
to not only survive this life but thrive,
to show it can be done
and not just for a season
but for the next 31(+) years.

My brother feeding me what was likely my first (of many) Fudgsicles, 1973.

I’d like to note that codependency is putting someone else’s needs above your own. It can start out of what feels like necessity (in my case, always wanting to make sure my brother was safe), but it can become a destructive lifelong habit. Thankfully, I have become aware of this in the last couple of years and am making changes. I share this not to gain sympathy (I made all my own choices) but to help inspire anyone else who may have a similar experience.

Be well and make self-care a priority.

Embrace the power of light

Don’t despair when you see the darkness. Be inspired by the courage and resilience of the human spirit and know that the light has the power to eliminate the darkness. And make no mistake: Everything you do matters. Nothing is too small. Changing your own thoughts and self-talk changes the energy you put out into the world and makes it a better place. Imagine when we are all working on loving ourselves better how peaceful and beautiful a world it will be. It takes each one of us being responsible for ourselves. Start with you. Start right now. Embrace your power. ❤️

Nina Cried Power – by Hozier, featuring Mavis Staples

It’s never too late to be happy. Don’t ever give up.

For most of my life, I think I have appeared to have it together. I was always near or at the top of my class; I graduated summa cum laude with a master’s degree in writing. I had my own business that paid my bills for 14 years. I did my best to give back to my community.

But something was missing deep down: belief in a future that was kind. My brother died when I was 15. But my anxiety started years earlier, when I realized his having epilepsy could kill him. That scared me. I didn’t want him to die, and I didn’t want it to be my fault. So I was always on guard, ready to jump to the rescue. And so began a long trend of controlling behavior and codependent relationships – without any real belief in a positive outcome. When I was on my own, I felt pretty good; as soon as I got in a relationship, I lost myself in that other person. And so it ended, one way or another.

In late 2017, now 45 years old, I was drowning in uncontrollable emotions, in a relationship with a wonderful man who had deep wounds of his own. He tried to suppress his pain with alcohol; I used sugar. We loved each other intensely and were doing the best we could, but we were hurting each other and ourselves, because we had not healed our own wounds.

And then I found Danette May’s New You 30-day challenge and other programs — and yes, I lost 30 pounds, but more importantly, I found self-compassion, peace, and hope. I found the strength to stand up for myself: to both set healthy boundaries and be accountable for my own behaviors. The growth this past year has been phenomenal, and I know this is just the beginning. Am I excited about the future now? You bet I am!

~ CW

The Art of Listening: Creating Space

I heard a talk by Tara Brach about listening a while back, and some of it really stuck with me. She recommended coming to a conversation with no personal agenda, only the intention to create space – space to really hear the other person.

The trick is if we are preoccupied with our own life and struggles – whether they are related to this other person or not – it can be difficult to put our thoughts aside. If we can’t quiet our own minds, we need to be aware and admit that we don’t have the listening presence to offer that person in that particular moment. Half listening does no one any good.

As I find myself in a time of transition and varying emotions, I am 100% in self-care mode, which for me is a mode primarily of solitude. Curious as to why I am being drawn to communicate (or not) with certain individuals right now, I realized I want to interact only with those I believe are currently able to offer a sacred space. It’s not about whether I like those people more or think they are better friends. It’s not about whether I think they can relate to what I’m experiencing. It’s their ability to listen or just be with me – to not question or offer advice, but simply offer a loving, nonjudgmental space – so that I can be however it is that I’m going to be in that moment. For that is exactly what I need (and what we all need, I believe).

I am blessed to have multiple people in my life who have cultivated this ability, and I am trusting the Universe to prompt me to reach out to the best choice for each moment. If I don’t reach out to you or accept an invitation from you, please do not take it personally. I still love you, but I do not have the capacity at this moment to be a listening presence for anyone but myself. I am doing the work and the healing I need to do to move forward an even brighter version of me, and I’ll be glad to show up for you when I can.

To all my friends, thank you for understanding that I may not be too social for a while, but know that I am sending my love to all of you while I take good care of myself.

And when I am able, I will do my best to create a sacred space to hear you the next time we communicate. ~ CW

Finally inspired to write … by a shoe?

I am a writer and an editor. It’s what I do for a living, and I’m good at what I do, according to my clients. But I have never been a creative writer. Quite honestly, I’ve never desired to be a creative writer.  Writing the next great American novel? It never entered my mind. Long days at the computer? Yeah, I do that now. No guarantee of getting paid for them? Um, no. Not my kind of gig.

So I didn’t take poetry or short-story writing in college; instead, I focused on what I thought were practical pursuits (as far as writing was concerned, anyway). I enjoyed analyzing other people’s creative writing and writing about that, but I was never inspired to create something original of my own. I can count on one hand, one finger actually, the number of times I’ve been truly inspired to write: as in completely overtaken by the creative impulse, without my mind trying to take over, as it almost always does.

It finally happened this fall. The inspiration? A high-heeled shoe. Well, more accurately, a painting of one. Hollie Chantiles’ Carnivore: Foot Fetish No. 3 was on display at YorkArts as part of the Biological Aesthetics: Investigating the Art in Science exhibit that ran September through November 2011. I stood there and studied the floral shoe on its wine-colored wood backdrop, intrigued for several minutes, and then I went on about my gallivanting around town.

I had no intention of writing anything that night, certainly not a poem, and yet, around midnight, it began. The concept happened on the paper in front of me, and I ran with it. When my brain took a look the next day, only a couple of words needed to be changed. I didn’t write this poem: this poem happened. I was merely the transcriber. I’m just glad I was open to the moment with a pen handy.

Jimmy Choo vs. Downward Dog

Piercing stilettos wobble on unsteady ground.
Calf muscles threaten to shorten permanently,
arches aching, lumbar crunching.
Toes are squeezed into submission.

Life shifts on us, throwing us off balance.
Fear contracts us into inertia,
self-confidence faltering, willpower failing.
We are enslaved by invisible walls of the past.

Bare feet solidly connect to the floor, heels (almost) down.
Calves and hamstrings stretch with every breath,
hips rising, spine elongating.
Toes luxuriate in unlimited space.

Circumstances change, but the soul is constant.
Love expands us into courage,
heart opening, spirit soaring.
We are freed by each moment’s infinite possibility.

Super talented, beautiful soul

I am thrilled. I just discovered that Alicia Keys’ June 30 concert at the Beacon Theatre in New York City, which was broadcast online live by AOL, is now available—at least bits of it are—for those who missed it entirely or in part. I fall in the latter category, as I very happily witnessed most of the performance on my computer after missing the first several songs. You’ll have to sit through a few ads to watch the recording, but trust me, if you appreciate music from the soul, it’s worth it.

This is Alicia and her piano: that’s it. No backup singers, no instrumentalists, no dancers. Just wonderful piano playing and a powerful, perfectly nuanced voice, presented naturally and with a beautiful spirit.

Alicia Keys Live at the Beacon Theatre

Turns out the first few numbers were covers of songs that inspired Alicia. In my opinion, after the lovely piano solo introduction, her passion really shows up with the last of the beginning covers—Brian McKnight’s “Never Felt This Way.” (If you’re looking at the site, that’s one click on the right arrow and then the second frame in that group.)

Just keep watching from there. There’s no reason to skip anything. It’s all good, to be understated about it. (Some of the songs are cut short, giving you only excerpts, but it’s better than nothing.)  Here’s how the rest of the playlist flows:

  • Butterflyz
  • Trouble Man – OK, this one’s a cover too, but it’s definitely worth your time: it’s Marvin Gaye, after all, and she commits to it.
  • Troubles – Gorgeous. This is where I started watching the live broadcast and was immediately hooked.
  • How Come You Don’t Call Me Anymore – She included her version of this Prince song on her debut album, Songs in A Minor—released 10 years ago, the reason for this celebration—and she rocks this performance.
  • Goodbye – Beautiful, heartbreaking.
  • A Woman’s Worth – And the audience participates: “Baby, you know I’m worth it.” Damn straight.
  • Girlfriend
  • Why Do I Feel So Sad
  • Caged Bird –Short, but oh so powerful.
  • Piano Sonata No. 14 in C# Minor
  • Fallin’ – The song that started our love affair with Alicia, right from its very first amazing notes.
  • You Don’t Know My Name
  • Diary
  • Karma
  • If I Ain’t Got You Full version of this one… Yes!
  • Unbreakable
  • Like You’ll Never See Me Again – A shortened version, but enough to produce some chills.
  • Try Sleeping With a Broken Heart – Heartbreaking rendition … More chills.
  • Un-thinkable (I’m Ready) – The leap of faith she’s describing really comes out in this live performance. Feel the love.
  • New York State of Mind – Yes, Billy Joel’s song.
  • Empire State of Mind, Part II – “Broken down,” as they say…. and it’s the best part of the song, in my opinion.
  • Sure Looks Good to Me – Inspiring. Life isn’t always pretty, but “don’t rain on my parade; life’s too short to waste one day.” So keep on truckin’ and keep those spirits up.
  • No One

I feel badly for those of you who missed the live broadcast, not only because you didn’t get the whole uninterrupted concert, but also because you didn’t get to witness most of Alicia’s interactions with the crowd. The beauty that pours out of this 30-year-old woman is incredibly inspiring, even before she puts fingers to the keys or mouth to the microphone. I think you’ll get a feel for what I mean when you look at the faces of the audience members as they sing along on the last song. You may want to hang around for a few more minutes and watch the interview. Again, feel the love.

I, for one, am putting Alicia Keys on my “must see live” list. I hope you enjoyed this even half as much as I did.

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Just chill

Sometimes you just gotta chill. Take a breath. Start fresh.

So take 6 minutes out of your day of oh-so-important (really?) and oh-so-urgent (seriously doubtful) tasks and enjoy this track by Mishka. Since the YouTube file has just the album cover, I’ve included a nice little sunset scene below for you.

Go ahead. Drift away. Everything else will wait.

Peace & Love to you, my friends.

Mallory Square sunset
Sunset from Mallory Square, Key West (2009)

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Not what I wanted to write about

This past weekend, I went to see David Crosby and Graham Nash perform. And I am just dying to write about the experience! But, as timing would have it, I have a work deadline that is keeping me from doing that just yet. Writing, you see, takes quite a bit more time than many people realize, especially when you want to write well—and I’d like to write something eloquent and moving about the concert if I can, as it certainly deserves that kind of attention.

So, I had intended to not write a blog post today. Fortunately, reading takes a lot less time than writing, and as I was eating my lunch—I still am, actually—I clicked through the Facebook updates and stumbled across a blog. And I just had to share it with you.

The writer’s name is Dr. Kristin Shepherd, and the blog that I stumbled across is the one she’s writing for Yoga Journal’s website: “Beginner’s Mind.” But she also has a blog on her own website, which I highly recommend checking out.

Here are a few of the tidbits that spoke to me from her latest post, Everything I Need to Know I Learn from Theatre:

1. Truth is gorgeous. Trust that your truth is enough. Stop faking anything in the hopes that it’ll make you more substantial, more interesting, more charming, more successful. It doesn’t work.

5. Joy comes from committing to your choices, not from endlessly assessing the merit of those choices with your squirrelly mind, which will never be satisfied and which doesn’t know the first thing about joy.

7. Not knowing is all right. Often preferable.

8. You’ll be an idiot to yourself and others some days. Practice instant forgiveness.

But the previous entry—Who Are You?—was the one that pushed me to share the blog with you, my friends. The message, which brought tears to my eyes and a smile to my heart, is presented in a way that is amusing and fresh and rings with a resounding truth, at least with me.

So, while this is not what I wanted to write about today, it is definitely what I feel compelled to share.

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