26 April, 2009

Chastity Brown: life will hit you

You say you wanna know me-
type of person that I am,
do you really want to know me?

this is bound to happen sometimes
oh, my momma said that sometimes 
life will hit you in the heart,
straight between the eyes,
and it's strange what you will find
when you look around
you'll see where your friends are
Momma said sometimes....
life will hit you in the heart

would you like a definition 
what is riding a fence,
would you like a definition
what is black and white, blurred skin

where exactly I come from
type of person that I am

25 April, 2009

dinner with friends

Dear Friends, 
How wonderful to see you all last night. It was worth rescheduling my Friday night clients to be able to join you all. Even though it was a stretch for me, it was very enjoyable. I had been at work since 7 am and didn't realize how exhausted I was until I sat down. Did I mention that on Fridays I provide deep tissue, rehabilitative massage and craniosacral therapy at a Chiropractic office. I work with people who have been recently injured in car accidents. My patients are mostly Muslim, Somali men who have never experienced bodywork , let alone from a woman(!) and many have had interesting experiences in the Somali military, refugee camps and sources of trauma. Two years of military service is mandatory on completing school in Somalia. I leave there with my hands, particularly my thumbs, swollen and throbbing, sometimes spasming. I go home, soak them in hot water and epson salts, collapse, then, go back and do it again the next day. Just to spend an evening relaxing with a hot meal is my idea of heaven. I hope you will understand, when in the future I pass on opportunities to provide you with spontaneous, complimentary massage services. Your request took me quite by surprise and if I were thinking more clearly, I hope I would have responded differently, than to simple unquestioning compliance.
Looking forward to seeing you soon,

23 April, 2009

good idea?

Sometimes it's just that the weather is too distracting. And one just wants to put most everything on hold and be in the sunshine. It's winter for so long and it's so severe, then a day comes when you look out the back door and the tulips are open. And the world looks different when the tulips are blooming. And even though it's dry, and it might be a good idea to water, there are new possibilites. I haven't changed my winter tires, because it could snow, but it just doesn't feel like snow anymore...The darkness falls away and the list of "good ideas" begins to grow. And even if they are never moved to the "to do" list you don't mind because its just so much fun to imagine them happening: buying a new bike, cleaning out the garage, finishing the bathroom project, learning to speak French, having tea with forgotten friends, dinner parties, writing a book and on and on, until you are adding to the "good idea" list more frequently than crossing off items on the "to do" list. So, just for today, between working on the tasks listed on my "to do" list, I moved things around in my garden, while exploring the green shoots coming up and unfolding, searching for water. And I didn't actually unpack the garden hose, stored somewhere in the shambles of organizing the garage, but I moved the item from "good idea" to "to do"!

21 April, 2009

new dance, old dancer


prison bars

Each of the bars of our self constructed prisons are forged when we make a decision based on fear or scarcity rather than abundance and generosity. Yet there are times we find ourselves in situations, or relationships, with some bottomless pit which no amount of generosity can satisfy. No matter how much is given, it is never enough, in quantity and in quality. No amount of attention will relax the irrational compulsion to hide whatever shameful secret haunts perception. There must be one more conquest, one more seduction, one more cookie. I remember times I invested all creativity at my personal disposal to entertaining a dissatisfied partner. I literally bent over backwards hoping to finally satiate a hunger which has no end. I, and my creativity, failed. In frustration, I tried to gently and painlessly extricate myself from the situation, in the best, most loving means I could manage. Without compromising the integrity of my investment. The investment of my attention.  The attention was misplaced when it rested exclusively on my partner. The endless, abusive, violent demands for my attention prevented me from sensing my abundant creativity. I was severely limited, isolated. Distorted. Discounted. Doomed. And in the cessation of the effort to avoid fear is a happy ending. Rebirthed, refilled, renewed, creativity returns and begins again. Capable, courageous, and in glory.

prison sentence

 "People can build prisons for themselves and live in them quite happily for the rest of their lives."

20 April, 2009

last look

I set my alarm for 4:20 am. Our plan was to drop him off, park the car while he got his boarding pass and checked his bag, then get some breakfast before he had to go through security. Great plan, but a bit too early in the morning, even for the airport and travelers. So, we just hung out, half asleep, groggy but supportve, nervous, and wondering about the journey. Hoping for the best, but honestly, so tired that everything wrapped in a dream like ambiance. And now, hearing his tired, awestruck voice as the bus pulls into Belfast, being met by Rick and Karen, witnessing the begining his new adventure.  The romance of living on the sea...I realize this day has been unique in it's ordinary profoundness. I imagine this is how Moms feel when their kid leaves for the Navy but without the military aspect. I don't know how he managed to pull this off but I am so pround of him, awestruck myself in the face of his competence and independence and willingness to do what it takes to be in the flow of his dream. Bravo, my son! My runaway bunny...I'll be following you before we know it. In the meantime, I'll be visiting the website everyday and meeting you in my dreams. XO

19 April, 2009


How do you say good by? 
Is a hug enough?
Is a kiss too much? 
A photo? 
A glass of wine? 

How do you say "I'll miss you?
I'll think of you,
I'll be in touch,
I'll come find you.
I follow you with my heart?

Starting fresh,
leaping into the unknown,
from the safety of familiar faces,
smiling, loving you, 
wanting you to be happy and grow.

This is life,
and life finds a way.

16 April, 2009

adult children

The clock is ticking. Monday is departure day. My daughter returns, my son takes off and the celebrations continue. We make mental notes to ourselves: last time here, last trip to there, last stop at this place, last English tea here. And it's all sweet and silly because it's not really sad. He's eager to leave, nervous, but longing to get out into the world and this is perhaps the next "best" thing to joining the Navy or the Coast Guard. You don't even have to think about killing someone, or defending yourself. It's just you and the Atlantic Ocean and the sky. And, of course, the rest of the crew. The un answered question is: How do we say good-bye?  It's a little different each time. Each time is a little easier and more confident. More trusting of the process, like learning to walk. Each time a little farther into the unknown, a little more demanding, requiring a bit more commitment and effort. A bit more time, money, patience. And each time I breathe a sigh of relief. There is the ambiguous sensation of wanting the separation yet loving the closeness. The unconditional love of motherhood mixed with the desire for grandchildren, which would take us to a whole new level of relationship. I listen to my friends, with their new grand babies, working through their adult children's fears and expectations. It appears that many of us start parenthood wanting a perfect, pain-free, disappointment-free environment for our babies. We don't want them eating dirt, playing in the mud, falling, scraping, bleeding and breaking bones. Eating out of the dog dish, throwing things in the toilet and fishing them out. But that is how they learn, how we learn...and we have to go with it. Letting our unrealistic expectations die. I am reminded of this each day and the universe shatters my unrealistic ideas every way imaginable. Just when I have convinced myself intellectually to release some useless, out-dated attitude or belief, I come face to face with the physical application.  A kind of instantaneous pop quiz. I haven't gotten a perfect score, but I feel like I'm getting closer. Recovering from domestic violence happens one day at a time for me, maybe I'm just a slow learner. Maybe I just like to take my time, and do it right, Fred Roger's famous advice. I'm not really too interested in why it's not different for me than it is, I'm going to assume that what ever it is, it is just right for me and go with it. Slowly.

13 April, 2009


A storm of emotion and frustration. Not at all the Easter celebrations of our romantic fantasies. A loving and calm expression of familial love and devotion. But real, definitely raw and genuine. Demanding. Brutally honest. and a stuggle to be born into a more mature version of ourselves. My daughter struggling with jet lag, my son struggling with starting a new phase of his life. Leaving home for the somewhat unknown. Having established a comfortable familiar environment, and starting anew in a completely unfamiliar place. Wanting to succeed yet not wanting to make mistakes: who has never been there? I feel for him and struggle to find a balance myself between being overly involved and holding back too much. Wanting those feelings to come up but not wanting them to express in inappropriate ways. Violence toward his sister or me. And it's difficult for me because I have a high tolerance for violence directed at me. I make excuses when it might be more appropriate to say, "Whoa!" The chocolate eggs were mediocre. We are spoiled by my son's truffle creations and the quality of ingredients he uses. Even the more high end chocolates available in stores are inferior to his products made with organic ingredients and no preservatives. Life keeps on keeping on. I finally gave in to my ill health, surrendered and spent the day in bed with a heating pad on my neck. I expected to feel better by now given the life expectancy of the virus. No such luck, and tomorrow: a full schedule of work. The weather is mild and slowly blossoming into Spring. My tulips are coming into view, and I will start clearing the mulch soon. Seasons change and we with the seasons. I imagine my son on the boat in his new life, preparing the meals for the guests, learning a new team dynamic. And I wish the very best for him. And get a sense of the pain of sibling discord. I can't be a referee or mediator for them. All I can do is hope for the best whatever that means. And know in my heart that it will include some wrong notes here and there from time to time. It's on the hard drive. All these patterns are on the human species hard drive. And all are part of the blessing.

Loving as an adult

Here's the thing: we just love our kids. And there is folly in clinging too tightly to a narrow, rigid definition of "good Mom" I just have to let go and keep letting it go. Releasing the tendency to avoid conflict at all cost. Any sense of disagreement, discord, unrest, anxiety is automatically interpreted as wrongness on my part and my personal failure as a parent. I get tired, exhausted really, and then I interpret everything as a mistake or a failing on my part. I don't take care of myself properly, and feel vulnerable and run down. Like now. And I grieve my losses at the same time I celebrate the freedom and courage and creativity of the people around me. 

02 April, 2009

Day 9: graduation

Ordinary people with an extraordinary interest in breaking the cycle of child abuse. Our ninth day includes swearing in and receiving our "orders for appointment of guardian ad litem and authorizing access." district court-juvenile division, fourth judicial district. There is a sensation of power and responsibility to have a judge asking your opinion, requesting your assistance. We met informally with Kerry Meyer before she gave her speech and administered the official oath. The most moving realization washed over me when she pointed out that she was required to make decisions which will have significant impact on the lives of children she (frequently) has never even seen. Not even a photo. Nada, especially if the child is under 10. She knows nothing but what is in a  bare bones report, which she may have only read through briefly before the trial.
"...Further, this order authorizes and directs that the guardian ad litem shall be given access to and be furnished with copies of all information relevant to the child's and family's situation, including but not limited to: social services records; corrections department records; medical, counseling, therapy, treatment and mental health records; academic records; psychological, psychiatric and chemical dependency evaluations; and all other relevant records without the oral and written consent of the child or the child's parent(s). No claim of privilege or other claimed  right of confidentiality may be asserted to prevent the guardian ad litem from obtaining information relevant to this proceeding. The guardian ad litem shall have access to all information and records relevant to this proceeding, whether written or oral, which are in the possession of any person, corporation, political subdivision, organization, organization, agency or other entity. Nothing in the Federal Regulations, Minnesota Government Data Practices Act, Rules of Public access to the Records of the Judicial Branch, or any other statutory provision shall have access to the child including meeting with the child alone as deemed appropriate by the guardian ad litem. In an adoption proceeding or a case in which adoption is the intended permanency plan for the child, authorization is granted for the guardian to review the home studies."
Interesting, and more than a little bit intimidating. When I read this the first time I had to stop and get bigger somehow, in order to take in the meaning and depth of these words, to wrap my brain around the scope of that image  This statement covers pretty much everything. No stone is left unturned. But it goes on, just in case there is any remaining doubt:
"...the guardian ad litem appointed under this court order shall have access to protected health information as defined in that federal regulation, including but not limited to, psychological and chemical health assessments, which have been conducted by service providers deemed "covered entities" under the regulation. Access to this protected health information is for the purpose of aiding the guardian ad litem in her or his investigation and development of recommendations regarding the child or children who is/are the subject of this court order and may include protected health information related to the child as well as the child's parents or others designated by this court...shall continue until further order of the court."
In the face of feeling overwhelmed and helpless, perhaps hopeless, about how slow people can be in waking up to what is, this one, 40 hour journey, less time that it takes to drive to the West Coast, has been indescribably powerful. I remember the pain as I listened to the court proceedings a year ago. The frustration and compassion I felt for the man who tried to shoot my daughter. A man who had been neglected and abused from his earliest years and so desperately had tried to find a way to fit in somewhere, somehow with his peers. To re-build his self-esteem. And the words of his mother, thanking us, and describing her prayers for her son to wake up, to grow up. And her grand-daughter. We talk a lot about satisfying the basic needs of the child and providing what is adequate for the child. But in reality we are trying to prevent further trauma, we are not even talking about dealing with the trauma that has already been caused. So, this is where I am today: sworn to faithfully and justly perform all duties of the office and trust which I am assuming as guardian ad litem to the best of my ability.