Monthly Archives: February 2014

AM I BEAUTIFUL?

I remember the first time I asked my mother about being pretty. I don’t remember the exact conversation we had verbatim or how I started that conversation but the gist of what transpired was that I was having an ugly duckling life. I wanted to know if I was pretty. If I couldn’t know that I was pretty, or at least attractive, then I wanted something to make me feel better so that I could live with the alternative. I hoped by asking the question, I would hear a response that would make me feel okay about myself.

In my mind, a female was not worth much nor did she get much attention unless she was attractive. In short, boys were not going to give me special valentines in grade school and when I got old enough, they were not going to date me. If I were attractive, I thought, people would like me more, smile at me more, include me in their circle, tolerate me more,and in general be more open to me. I wanted all that. I wanted to pound on that three-foot thick glass wall between where I was and where I wanted to be until I smashed it into a million pieces. What I wanted, no, what I thought I needed, was so close I could see it but I could not reach it through that wall.

I remember that Mama gave me the most over-used, but tried-and-true answer to that question. What else could she say to me, an awkward, shy, lonely little girl, accept that real beauty is inside? Today I know that beauty really is inside and that this beauty is pure love. Back then what I was really seeking was love, not physical beauty, but I didn’t know that. I thought physical beauty would bring me love and I would feel good about myself. I though if I were being sought after, admired, accepted or invited into the inside group, or was popular I would be okay. At that time I thought this would be proof to me that I was loved or worthy of love – that I was okay and normal. It was a matter of my chasing my own tail so to speak. It got me nowhere. I didn’t know until much later in life, that once I found that love inside of myself and learned to be okay with me, that I didn’t need the other things. I could feel love and be love with or without them. I could be thankful for all things but I already had what I needed, what I had searched for all my life.

I can not say that I never feel that I am not okay or good enough. Old habits and feelings can sneak up on me, on any human being, from time to time because these habits and feelings become so ingrained, so habitual. What I can say is that Love never leaves me. I can lose consciousness of it but I can never lose it. It nourishes me and fulfills me because that is all I wanted all along.

Am I beautiful? Yes I am. And so are you. How did I get to that place?  That is a subject for another chapter.

A MOTHER’S LOVE

There are many females who become mothers but they don’t exactly know how to love, to be a good parent. Some of them are not well or have emotionally issues that are not addressed. Some get into drugs or alcohol. Some had an abusive, neglectful, distant or absent mother themselves. Some mothers abandoned their child or children or give them up for adoption but sometimes we don’t know the whole story and maybe the giving up of the child was the most loving thing that they could do.

Recently I read a story about a little girl who was left near the highway in a paper bag on a very cold night more than 20 years ago when she was found by a state trooper. She was meant to live. You have to wonder what the mother was going but my guess was that she was very young and without support. Possibly she wanted her child to be found. But you question, “Put her in a paper bag like trash?” The baby was wrapped in a towel and put in the bag. Perhaps the mother though that would keep the baby warm enough until someone found her. We just don’t know the whole story. Desperate people, though, do desperate and sometimes stupid or cruel or dangerous things. That much we do know.

Every sibling born to one mother has a different take on the telling of how Mother was when they were growing up. People on the outside had their own version of what she was like as well. So what is the “real” story? Listen closely, it really doesn’t matter what the real story was because the mother’s children and all the outsiders looking in each had their own experience of that mother and then interpreted that experience in their own language so to speak.

I had a version of my own mother that wasn’t all peaches and cream but it wasn’t a horror story either. Yet, I have to admit, I had a bit of a tough time with my interpretation of growing up with Mama. Little by little, I have let go of “My Story” about all that and have been healing. Over all my mother was a good person with some anger issues and some depression. I have some wonderful memories but I have some that sting a bit though the sting part has been getting better step by step.

I had a dream this morning as I was beginning to wake up. In the dream I had a lot of tears that were caught in my throat. That is what we call having a lump in our throats. The tears wanted to come and what I was struggling with so much was about the things over which we have no control. I was about to cry because sometimes we have to let go of how things were, could have been or are that we can change. In my dream, I was in my bed in the house I lived in at one time as a child. It was dark. Slowly the door began to open and it was my mother. As she further opened the door, light came into the dark room and the tears flowed. I wanted my mama and she came to me. The dream was so healing. I woke fully away with tears in my eyes. A mother’s love. Ah.

HOW TO BECOME WHAT YOU WANT TO BECOME

Before I became a instructor teaching Sociology, I never taught a class on that level before. I had done some training classes in psychology that were basics but I never taught a college class of this nature and certainly not one on Sociology though I had the credentials. I approached this new job like a virgin on her honeymoon.

A million questions came into my head until there was no room for much else. Who was I to try to do this? What made me think I could do this? What the hell did I know about teaching? You are kidding, right? You have lost your mind haven’t you? And so it went. I could go into more details here about my first quarter of teaching but in this space of time let me just say that what I learned, is that you do or become that which is your goal only one way and that is by doing it. You act as if and as though. You put you intentions and attention on being that which you seek – whatever that might be – and lo and behold it becomes reality. You use the language, the gestures, the choices, and all that goes with that role and by doing so, you take that shape. Step on the stage and into the spotlight.

Be all that you can be. You can do it. I know you can.

LOVING YOUR BODY

I rattle on and on about positive thoughts, positive thinking, being grateful, and all that good stuff and smugly think that I don’t fail to do those things. Ha! That’s funny. I caught myself this morning realizing that I am age-conscious and not happy about my aging body. I look in the mirror and see that everything has gone South  (dipping-almost-below-the-equator-South). I see rivers and valleys etched upon my face and if I dare take a closer look at my skin I see pits and scales and rolls. Scales are okay for fish and rolls are a nice compliment to a dinner but not on my body please.

A closer look at the face and eye lids are beginning to droop. A glance in the mirror at my entire body shows that while my body has thinned more  making my bathroom scales seem less frightening,  my hair has been busy loosing numbers and thickness as well . How in the world can I feel so young inside and yet find that I am living in my grandmother’s body? Granted my body looks a whole lot younger and attractive than a grandmother used to look back in her day.  Still I cannot help but yearn for that firmer, softer-skinned, lovely girl I once was.

I would consider a face lift but then I have an aversion to pain and bruising, not to mention to the cutting and stitching of skin.  Besides,  that would not be my real face would it?   I can seek to understand  why I am so bothered by looking like the aging woman I am.   Perhaps it would be better for me  to just look at the love shining through me, the smile on my face, and the fact that I am still alive and doing pretty well for an “old” lady.

Winking at myself in the mirror I can say, “You are one hot Grandma!”  Hugging my body, I say thank you for continuing to get me from point “A” to point “B”.   I’m loving this body.

IF LOVE IS MY RELIGION DO I NEED A CHURCH?

This is the question of all questions. It would get many different responses. For those who find that they do need a church, I wonder where that answer would come from: Your upbringing? An experience you had? A calling to do so that comes deep within? A need to find God? A need for socializing with like-minded people? A combination of things?

For those who would say they don’t need a church, may belong to some other “spiritual” community or just simply say that there is no god of any kind. That church is about THE God that they do not believe in – especially the one that most seem to believe in.

I keep asking myself why I need a church. I don’t dislike any church or religion for that matter IF a person is getting his/her spiritual needs met. Even then I don’t dislike it, I just wonder why people cling to one like that. Organizations of any kind can get off track, go awry, become a scary cult, abuse the members, and let power go to the top of the reasons for the church to exist. In any case, if EGO is at the helm of any organization, spiritual or not, you will have abuse of some kind or another of the players in that organization.

Some people can join a spiritual organization or church and find that immutable Something that has been calling them. But in my own personal experience, I would say that sooner or later, that Something is above and beyond any organization or method or path. At that point, you may ask yourself why you need the church/organization. You might be asking why you need a church or organization from a completely different perspective than you may have ever asked it before.

I am not going to give anyone the answer to that question because how do I know whether or not they need it and I will never truly know why they think they do or don’t? I have to take that question one day at a time for myself as it is. Some Sundays, I hop in the car and find myself at one of my favorite churches and I enjoy it very much. Other Sundays, I shrug my shoulders not quite certain why I am not getting in the car and hanging out for a bit with people with similar beliefs (or even different ones for that matter).

A lot of people would have an opinion about whether I should be going to services or not and many would even specify which one I SHOULD be attending. Still I am left with the question hanging over my head in the shape of a question mark and there doesn’t seem to be a should or should not that definitely sticks out by way of an answer. I can tell you this, it is much easier to pick a church or organization and just sit back and follow the rules and have all the answers than it is to flounder around without anything but that inner voice to guide you. There is nothing to hold onto. There is nothing to tell me what to do and how to do it. And that one is on a slipper slope because how do I know what I am listening to? If what I am listening to is guiding my behavior and interactions with my world, with others, is loving, non-judgmental, patient, kind, and desirous of everyone’s highest good, then there is a good chance it is the right voice and all is well regardless of what things may look like.

It can get scary out there on that limb. You can lose some friends or relatives along the way but the same can be said for those who steadfastly hold onto a belief or religion and who cannot be tolerant of others who do not believe as they do. At least in the non-conformist, you still are tolerant of others regardless of their belief and you do more for holding the world together than others do with their more concrete approach to a spiritual path. If you have the guts for it, I can tell you after trying all other things, I am exactly where I should be.

GOING BACK INSIDE WHERE IT IS WARM

I took this literally as it was meant but it occurred to me that sometimes the world seems like a bleak, unloving, very challenging, scary, upsetting, dangerous, and often cold place in which to be. But when I go inside myself and sit in the seat of my soul, there is warmth, welcoming, protection, peacefulness, warmth and Love – the only place where Original Love abides. I can warm my heart, warm my being from the inside out and take the glow of that “place” with me into the figurative wind, rain, snow, sleet, hail, floods, tornadoes, hurricanes, and earthquakes of life. Meet me there. Abide with me. Together we will hold the candle of light and take it into the world.  

Brenda Osgood Andradzki Elliott, MSW

LOVING MY BATHROBE–WHAT?

Actually what I am “loving” is the morning time when I am drinking my coffee and writing. Sometimes the writing takes the form of remarks or responses on Face Book. I often look in amazement at the words that form on the page as my fingers dance over my computer keyboard. Other times something that someone else wrote starts streams of words in my head and they come pouring out in my blog or in a separate post on Face Book or both. Other times as I awake and begin my day, an idea or thought takes form, seemingly from out of nowhere, and my fingers itch to get to the keyboard and to watch it all come alive.

My bathrobe or nightgown or pajamas are just symbols of a relaxed mode that indicates that at least for a while, I am not thinking about having to go anywhere or do anything so I can dance on the keyboard and create something out of nothing. Ah, the joy that arises as I allow what is bubbling up within me to come pouring out (or in some cases staggering out when I hit a road block or pothole or two).

Yes, housekeeping, neatness, and organization of my surroundings is not my forte’. I stop for a moment and look around. What a swamp! I wonder if all person who create have a tendency for a lack of real enthusiasm for being good housekeepers. I admit I have not yet reached the point where the swamp becomes such a threat, I must do battle with it or drown. When the words take a break, I can chip away a bit at the mess around me. The idea of simplifying looms noisily over my head; however, in order to do that, I must work on the swamp by keeping fewer things of “necessity” to sap my time, my energy, and my space.

My home does not look like a hoarder’s home but in my head sometimes it feels that way.

Bathrobe anyone?