Happy Belated Birthday Baby Brother

My baby brother (not to be confused with my Little Brother) had a birthday last weekend and I forgot to call, email or send a singing telegram. Nada. Zip. Total Space Cadet move. So I feel that it is only fitting that I dedicate a post to him and celebrate him and what he does.

My baby brother is probably one of the most fearless men I know; not just because he served in the Marine Corps (ooh-rah!) although that did certainly assist in his calling, career or vocation, which is to teach. Not cute little, eager-to-learn kindergarteners bringing apples and sticky kisses for Teacher. He works in the kinds of schools that need Super Heroes disguised as teachers to reach out to these kids who through no fault of their own have been dealt a hand that is seriously lacking in parental participation, financial security or simply a home without drugs, fear, apathy and violence. Not to say that every parent doesn’t care or that every household experiences domestic violence or drug abuse or mental health issues; it is like the snowflake analogy in that no two households are the same but they share some commonalities.

When I hear from brother talk about these students, it is always with a mix of great pride at their accomplishments and often an equally great frustration at the unfairness of their circumstance. He’s not Mary Poppins so there are times when I’m sure he gets frustrated or even angry, but he doesn’t give up, he doesn’t call them hopeless and he keeps coming back every day. Every. Day. That’s something anyone can understand. As Dad used to say, actions speak louder than words. A constant presence in a world of chaos and No-Shows speaks volumes. Belief, faith and the power of his convictions drive him and make him not only a good teacher, but a great man. So today, I offer him birthday wishes that may be belated, but not any less true. Baby Brother – Happy Birthday to you!!!

Rigidity and the Road to Ruin

It’s been a very long time since my last post and I do apologize for that; I have been on a new adventure that has taken a great deal of my time and attention. Plus, I had a bad case of writers block, which is never helpful if you are trying to post on a regular basis.

So I was thinking the other day about how I used to be very set in my ways. Not set in my ways like I always eat a hard boiled egg for breakfast or I am a die-hard 49er fan or that I am an almost 50 year old who can’t stop dressing like a 20-year old. No, this kind of set in my way relates more to control. That ever-elusive, desperately sought and incredibly difficult to capture state of power and mastery. Control to me has always meant more than just power; it’s meant that no matter my mental state, I am still Me. I am alive and breathing and handling my business. When I have lost control in the past, I have lost my freedom, my friends, my self-esteem and worth and most importantly, the belief that I am solidly in the drivers seat and am proceeding to my destination. 

Now what is really going on is over the years, that need to control went from an inner discipline to absolute and totally rigidity, akin to some of the ritualistic behaviors seen with OCD. Things like I couldn’t put off cleaning my apartment to go out with friends because 10 years ago I decided that Saturday was the day designated as Apartment Cleaning Day. Or I wouldn’t let myself relax until everything in my view was clean and tidy. I remember having friends come over to visit and telling them, “I’m so glad to see you! I’d love to hear about what you’ve been up to, but I have to finish cleaning” so they would follow me from room to room talking while I cleaned. That got to be the norm and looking back, I’m amazed that they didn’t slap my face and tell me to snap out of it, give them 100% of my attention and quit being such a weirdo. So, you get the picture.

I have realized a few things since then and the most important one was something my dad had told me when I was a very little girl – Be like the willow tree; it bows to the strong wind and rights itself when it has past, whereas other trees that cannot bend must break. Well, I had certainly experienced that breaking. Discipline is one thing, rigidity is another. By refusing to change my habits when they no longer served me, by choosing to not examine my priorities and adjust as needed, I set myself up to be disappointed and “out of control”, which is hilarious because (it is my belief) that control is an illusion, just like perfection. We have a measure of control over ourselves, but we have no control over others, or over the world or destiny if you believe in that sort of thing. By being rigid and closed to change, I did myself a great disservice; change is the only constant and to try to avoid that is to head down the road to ruin. Disillusioned and bitter, blaming the world for my woes, cursing the skies because My Way wasn’t the way things were going and it wasn’t My Plan that was in action. Me. My. I. The Universe of One. What a lonely place that is.

I now understand that if I don’t bend, I will break. If I turn my back on Change, I will never grow. If I think I am the most important person in the Universe, I will really just be the most lonely person in the Universe, trying to control everything and in control of nothing. Spinning and spinning and going nowhere. I must learn that in releasing there comes a measure of relief; in putting your faith in something greater than yourself (hello friends of Bill and AA) and emptying your hands of old burdens so that they may be replaced with new gifts are all things that I will have to remind myself of as I move forward with these intentions.

As always, dear reader, I am thankful that you took the time to stop by and have a read.