Let Your Kids Be free

Little girl hanging up stocking by fireplace.
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An older and much wiser friend of mine said to me recently something I found very interesting. She commented on how those of us in the baby boomer generation have a hard time letting our children separate from us and live their own lives. She said she noticed how many adults were depending on their children to fulfill their lives and their hearts and not focusing on their own lives for this type of happiness. Her comments made me reflect on my own childhood and life now as a parent and a single person.

She described how her son had called her late one night, apologizing for the late hour of the returned call and she told him to not worry about it and to go and be with his wife. She really meant this statement and was not saying it for any other reason.

I thought about this for a long time and am still thinking about this as I wonder why this is true. In my childhood our parents were the focus of everything while the kids were simply kids. It would never have occurred to us to demand equal time or to want our parents to be more like us. We had no clue what their lives were like when we were out of the picture nor did we spend much time thinking about it. We didn’t want to know.

I remember thinking at one point when I was in my early 20’s wishing my father would just leave me alone as his emotional needs seemed very difficult to handle. I never wondered what he did in his spare time nor did I want to talk with him very often about much. I wanted to focus on my own life and not have to worry about him.

I have noticed in my group of single friends that we often are commenting on the state of our relationships with our kids. We wonder why they haven’t called us or why we don’t see more of them. Some of us are angry that our kids don’t seem interested in our lives or that they are not as dependant on us as we feel we are on them. This is where the term “co-dependency “comes from and I don’t like to look at its origin.

I am not sure why our generation is so filled with the pain of abandonment but we are. If we are in a relationship, we fear its end though it may be surviving perfectly well. If we are alone most of us hope to find a significant other believing that if we do we will have no pain.

The other night I was at dinner with a group of friends and was sitting next to a really interesting man who I admire a lot. He shared with me his own fear of ending relationships as he had felt so much pain from this in the past. He was saying that though he loves the woman he is with there are some problems with the relationship. I guess he was afraid of addressing the problems as he feared losing the relationship. I have great empathy for him as I know there are many people out there in the world like him.

The kid’s thing is interesting as it is very generational. Our parents may have been absent parents, preferring to take care of their own lives and relationships and work, while ours is focused on clinging to whatever shred of family we believe we have. Obviously the behavior our parents adhered to didn’t really work for us and enable us to become whole and separate beings. That makes me wonder what style of parenting our kids will adopt after dealing with our co-dependency.

I know I have been guilty of this and have had many moments where I felt angry or abandoned by family, yet if I rationally and compassionately think of what a good parent is I know this is an issue I must work to resolve.

Once we raise our kids we should let them fly away from the nest and not keep looking for a safe return. The searching for connection is a natural force but the element of desperation that comes with it in our generation is not healthy.

Maybe our generation doesn’t feel safe or loved or O K. on our own but depending on our kids to make our own lives all right isn’t good.

The holiday season is a tricky time as many of us revert to bad behavior with our family. We try to be compassionate and forgiving and not needy but those old tapes keep on playing. We think about how Christmas will play out, who is getting more of our children’s’ time, and how we are going to deal with the aloneness of it all.

This year I have had an experiment with myself on how to handle the holiday season. I have scheduled events with other single or childless friends and really enjoyed myself. It is almost sacrilegious behavior to a WASP. Not having a family Thanksgiving meal? Not having the traditional Christmas Eve dinner? Christmas Day without a tree and all the tinsel? Shocking but really fun.

I highly recommend it to all who wonder what they are missing out on when the kids chose to go elsewhere as they should. It is interesting how easy it is to change what you think is tradition and do things that are fun for you. Actually it is much less stressful than you think.

This Year

NobelPrizeSymbol
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The year my heroes died

This year quite a few of my heroes and friends died: Howard Lester, Walter Shorenstein, Dodie Rosecrans, Dick Goldman, and on and on. Yes, it is true that for the most part their lives were long and fulfilled but I still miss them and always will.

 I wonder if we are creating heroes as we did in past generations. People who accomplish a lot in their lives and give away a lot in return without looking back to see if what they have given away is still helping to make them more important. I love to have heroes and to me, heroes have been people who march to the beat of their own drum without looking around and listening to what others around them are playing. I know Howard did this as I was lucky enough to have a conversation with him about his “Maverick” side.  Walter, Dodie and Dick were the same.

Dodie was vibrant, curious and very intelligent until her dying day and spent her life in a state of exploration and excitement about one thing or another. She could have cared less about someone’s background or wealth when she included them in gatherings at her home. She cared about creating new ideas and putting different people together for various causes.

Walter and Dick accomplished a lot in their work lives and gave a lot in their philanthropic lives. Howard ‘s generosity was apparent at his own memorial mass where a few spoke of his many charitable gifts and the difference he had made in the world.

I wonder where we are going to come up with another generation of like-minded people. People who give without looking back and people who are compassionate members of our community. I wonder who in the younger generation will fill these shoes and have a generous and mature approach to managing and contributing their wealth? Even if people do not have great wealth I wonder if they will keep on giving.

I found a hero in today’s New York Times: Liu Xiabo, a Chinese poet, writer and dissident who was awarded the Nobel Prize. As he is in prison he will not be able to accept it but his work is the kind of work that makes me think of heroes. He has been outspoken in his criticism of the Chinese government and as a result of this has spent much time in prison.

His statement at his court hearing was quoted by the Times:” I have no enemies and no hatred. Hatred can rot away at a person’s intelligence and conscience.”

All I can say is that is a hero.

Much like my friend, Marla Ruzika who was killed by a car bomb in Iraq while counting civilian victims of war, and countless others who devote their lives with passion to improve the lives of others, thank you for living!

I look forward to reading and meeting more heroes in my life and being very grateful we have them in our world. Maybe some would argue that business leaders are not heroes but in return I would say that without the funds many contribute we would not have the world we do. Just as without the words of dissidents like Liu Ziabo governments would not be challenged into change and the lives of many see improvement and more freedom.

Holiday Thoughts

Cover of "The Nun's Story"
Cover of The Nun's Story

This time of year is always interesting as on occasion, despite attempts at maturity and evolvement, one may revert to a child’s perspective and remember all of the excitement and expectation surrounding Christmas. In our house acquiring the tree was always an interesting adventure. Our mother would ask who wanted to go on this adventure and we would all scream “yes”. Our car was one of those old fashioned “woodie” wagons with no seat belts or electric windows. The back seat could be flattened out with the help of four usually swearing men. There were six children in our family and we were spaced like Catholic children though I was repeatedly assured we were not Catholic. Cynthia Paterno lived next door to us and tried to convert me all the time. Apparently good Catholics gave all their allowance to their neighbors. Once I took all of the clothes out of my closet and made an altar out of my mother’s show boxes but when I lit a candle in there one caught on fire.

I liked being a temporary Catholic. I prayed every night and put a white towel over my head like Audrey Hepburn in The Nun’s Story and admired myself a lot in the bathroom mirror being careful to look pious. I knew I would never sleep with a boy until I got married and that I really wasn’t supposed to actually swallow the wine during communion. I knew that good catholic girls didn’t wear patent leather shoes because boys could see their underpants if they did. I learned that if you did something wrong no matter what it was you went to confession and told the priest what your sin was. He would give you a penance and you would be forgiven. A clean slate.

Now that I am grown up and no longer a Catholic I wish I was one. How nice to have the ability of simply telling someone what you had done wrong and being forgiven for it. I think that no one does things that are consciously mean unless they are 14 or a criminal. Relationships are just tricky as we are all so fragile. A friend said to me the other day that you couldn’t reason or understand someone else and have a good relationship if the other person really didn’t want that good relationship. I think that is a very wise thing. We sometimes worry and think about all of the things we have done that are wrong and wonder why another person is angry with us and this is a waste of time. It is better to assume that sooner or later you will find out the truth and that in the meantime all you can do is think loving thoughts. Feeling guilty is a waste of time. Feeling shameful is, too.

This time of year it is important to tread lightly on the earth and with each other. We are all still hoping for a miracle.

Tomorrow Will Be A Day of Change!

This is a celestial map of the constellation S...
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December 5th: Today is Sunday, the day ruled by the Sun. The Sun is in Sagittarius, and it is time to be open and optimistic. There is a New Moon at 13 degrees Sagittarius 28 minutes at 12:36 pm EST today. This is quite a turning point day. Uranus goes direct today at 26 degrees of Pisces, and is on its way to finish what it started over the last few years. We need to get over ourselves, and move forward freer. Mercury joins Pluto today bringing our minds into intense focus on whatever issues are at hand. Mercury is slowing to go retrograde on the 10th of December through the 30th; so, Mercury stays close to Pluto for the next 6 weeks. You need a project, or a goal to immerse yourself in. This planetary energy needs to be directed into something that will bring permanent change for the better. This is all happening on this New Moon. What a month this is going to be. No one is getting by with anything. Keep your eye on the goal.

from Brendabrush.com

Ode To A Stone

                                                      Ode to a Stone

I was thinking about the loyalty of the round gray stone outside my front door this morning. Preparing patiently to be washed by the rain. Not objecting to an occasional kick and the resulting change of side to the light. The stone sits outside my front door for as long as I want it there: it suffers movement silently, hears word it shouldn’t have to hear, and feels the hot sun and the cold evening chill. The stone is an object, this is true, but you can count on it every day and every minute to remain there where you placed it. Unlike the brown palm tree who sheds its leaves and is reborn each spring. Unlike the rose bushes that flower and die and flower again, unlike the spreading moon lighting the bleak mountain, the stone has no such cycle of life. It simply sits in wonder and allows the world to happen all the while retaining its dignity: all the while retaining its loyalty and most of all, its truth.

Why Do I Love Manka’s?

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Why do I love Manka’s?

I love Manka’s because they have magic! If you have never been to Manka’s you have no idea what I am talking about so I encourage you to go. It is an inn in Inverness where one registers at a Gulf Stream trailer and someone interesting will take you to your room. If you are lucky, you will meet the beautiful Margaret who is the owner. There is something special about this place because it casts a spell on you. The first time I checked in with my daughter, we were both enchanted. Why? The magic is apparent. Perhaps some might not feel it and I am sorry for them. We felt it and despite the fact that we are a very verbal family, couldn’t describe it though we tried throughout our dinner in Pt Reyes.

Magic is important in life and I fear some forget how to access magic. It’s a bit like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz when she clicks her heels together and goes right home. Home, to me, has not been the fireside comfort most may think of but rather a dreamlike state that makes you feel almost paralyzed and as if you are wearing 3D glasses. I love magic. I think if more people took time in their day to access it they would be more joyful. Magic makes you feel as if you have a secret friend who adores you and is constantly telling you really funny and magical things. Magic makes the cold nights more cozy and companionable and allows life to be filled with hope and not depression.

It is important to live in the present moment and to train your brain to not feel pain but to feel calm and peace. Magic is a part of this as it is joyful. Turning inward makes one feel as if one has discovered something really valuable that no one else knows about and the desire to share this magic usually doesn’t happen. Our own magic is what makes it special: it is ours alone.

So my advice to all of you is to remember your own magic. If you can’t remember any then visit Manka’s or simply go outdoors and watch the moon appearing and disappearing. You need to do this. We all do. Magic is survival and happiness. Magic is love personified and it is there in our own consciousness all the time. All we have to do is tune in.