hope…

Fellow blogger, Lisa, reminded me that we have HOPE on our side. Fortunately we’ve had two presidents who embodied it…Presidents Obama and Clinton. We who voted for them can carry their legacies of HOPE forward.

We will hope that the next president can live up to the public service demonstrated by that of his predecessors.

As is evident from the thousands protesting Trump’s election, he will never regain what he has already lost as a result of his vitriolic campaign. What he did reinforces what my beloved mother-in-law always warned…words have a permanent effect, especially hateful ones. I firmly believe that what she said is true. Personal experience attests to that fact.

No matter the nice words or gestures the perpetrator tries to offer afterwards, words blasted in anger are forever emblazoned across our memories…and our hearts. Trust in that person is lost forever, like it or not. Those victimized try to get through the avalanche of hateful words the best they can, but their hearts are forever secured against the hurt caused.

Trump is trying to “make nice,” with those he bullied while acting out his school ground antics. Too bad he never learned to “play nice” throughout his 70 years on earth. He may have some measure of success as a businessman, although his methods remain questionable, but his failure as a human being with those outside his tight-knit circle is massive. Whoever shares in the responsibility of his evolution as a self-serving despot should be ashamed for all Trump has become.

Ugly words are just that…ugly. There’s no rationalizing otherwise. Perpetrators have tried…and failed. External expressions may show otherwise; internal hurts are rarely, if ever, healed.

The Obamas will never be able to set aside Trump’s denying the president’s legitimacy as an American. Why should they? The Clintons will never be able to forgive Trump’s words calling for Hillary to be “locked up,” or placing 4 female accusers in the audience front and center during the final presidential debate. Who does these things? Donald Trump, that’s who.

No other candidate in the history of presidential elections has ever demonstrated such ugliness towards his fellow human beings as Trump. And his response to Leslie Stahl of “60 Minutes” (to be aired this Sunday), when asked if he regrets his words? He quickly replied “I won!”

Trump won…but he lost the hearts of millions and millions of Americans. What an empty, sad life. To quantify success in the accumulation of accolades and material wealth.

Trump lost. Connection with other human beings is the most valuable asset any of us can have when we take our last breath. No earthly treasure can measure up.

Trump may have gained the world; but in the process, he has lost…

…trump has lost.

………hugmamma.Image result for images of donald trump

 

 

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Walking Through

Another reminder that we should…live with hope…always…
………hugmamma.

Laurie's Gentle Healing Notes

There is a quiet reconnection

that comes

out of necessity,

out of the gathered up bits

of courage

and the decision to continue on

no matter what —

when all paths lead back

to the unknown,

when the only clarity

is a subtle understanding

beyond explanations

that the only real hope

is to walk straight through.

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BPD and parenting

A writer whose hope soars heavenward, even as she stands in quicksand. Her life…a prayer.
………hugmamma.

kelzbelzphotography

A while ago I was asked by a fellow blogger about parenting and bpd (boarderline personality disorder) and how it affects my parenting and children. Most of my mental illness is minimised for them. They don’t know about my attempts or self harm. They know mummy was very sick and sad and was in hospital a few times. They know I’ve been in therapy and group. I’ve discussed the ins and outs. Why I did it, basically what it involves. I’ve been honest now when mummy is sad. It’s ok mummy is allow to cry or get angry sometimes. But mummies skills will make it better. They have both seen how low I was, and now how stable I am. I’ve had to gain their trust again. They were both scared they would have to move out again. It’s ongoing with their trust. It can take something simple as me…

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why do writers…write?

 I’ve come across two quotes that seem to go hand-in-glove in describing writers.

The first is that of Anton Chekov, renowned Russian author. It was shared by http://www.livesimpletheblog.wordpress.com

…people who lead a lonely existence always have something on their minds that they are eager to talk about…

The second is a line spoken by Walt Disney to author P.L. Travers in the film Saving Mr. Banks.

Our stories are redemptive. That’s what we story tellers do. We restore order with imagination.  We instill hope again and again and again.

According to psychotherapist Linda Hoff-Hagensick at http://www.marriagetherapy101.blogspot.com,

Both P.L.Travers and Walt Disney found redemption and healing for their childhood pain through telling their stories through the magical lenses of their characters.

I think it’s fair to say that writers can lead a lonely existence given their need for isolation while getting in touch with their creative genius. I wonder how long C.K. Rowlings kept her own company while knocking off volume after volume of the iconic Harry Potter? 

Judging from my own experience, words can haunt a writer’s every thought. Not until allowed to escape the confines of the mind, will the words give a writer some peace, if only for a few moments.

So for me, it’s not that I seek solitude, it’s that my constant companions, my thoughts,  long to escape into print. They do not relish captivity; rather, they long for escape. Escape into the light of day. It’s my task to arrange them into some coherent story that others might want to read. And that, as every writer knows, takes time and…solitude. 

In recent months I’ve taken to having my laptop on the kitchen island so that I can write in between my other duties as a housewife. Of this relocation from the dining room table to my current station, my daughter lovingly commented “You really are a writer!”

I often wish I could ignore other duties and interests, and simply write the book that’s still on hold in my brain. Actually, there are a handful waiting to be written. For me however, life is too precious to let slip away for hours, days, weeks, even months at a time.

One day soon, I’ll see my way clear to balancing both. Until then, blogging remains an excellent outlet.

Storytellers come in all shapes and sizes. What they have in common is the desire to express their thoughts and feelings in a comprehensive manner. The icing on the cake is to capture the attention of an audience of readers or listeners. To bring them along on a  journey, whether it’s into familiar territory or uncharted terrain.

Writers are usually inspired by strong feelings about the environment in which they live. Whether it’s physical or psychological. Whether it exists in the past,the present, or the future. Whether it’s just a fantastical concoction of their imaginations. Or whether it’s a little bit of everything.

Like Disney I prefer writing redemptive stories, where chaos is banished, order restored, and hope is renewed. 

I’ve always been a huge fan of Tinker Bell and her magical fairy dust. I like to think it represents…

…never ending hope…

………hugmamma…and tinker bell.

...sprinkling fairy dust for hugmamma...

…sprinkling fairy dust for hugmamma…

 

 

friday fictioneers: light my way

Copyright - Erin Leary

Like a beacon in a world gone dark

your love shines bright

leading me back from the edge of despair.

Without you

where would I be?

Committed to an asylum?

Or worse…

buried six feet under.

Don’t ever leave my side, 

even if I push you away

a thousand times and more.

Keep telling me I deserve you,

that I’m worth your love.

The shadows recede

as the light of your love

fills the cracks of a heart that was broken.

Mine.

Cherish me always.

Warm me. 

Show me the way to daylight again.

Like a flower

I will bloom.cropped-img_2034.jpg

Personal Story out of Darkness

Another story inspiring hope and self-help. It may take some time, but we do have it within us to make changes for the better.

………hugmamma.

Godly Stewardship

image

I had symptoms of mild depression for more than a year at one stage. I was grieved, felt like my world was just hopeless, life was meaningless and my future seemed bleak. I was disappointed and extremely discouraged.

I also remembered being sick for a very long time perhaps 3 months or so and I could not go to work at all. At the time I was very alone- my parents were interstate and they had no idea what I was going through I kept it hidden. I did not know either that it was actually depression, heck I didn’t want to admit it.

I thought I would be able to make it better by just avoiding the world. So I Isolated myself. What did I do? I cleaned the house- it was always spotless. The rest of the time- pitied and felt sorry for my self.

Perhaps cleaning was…

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accepting…a hug…

I’m usually the one giving out hugs, but I’m on the receiving end this time…and loving it. Small PhotoConnie Wayne of Hope For Today at http://hopefortoday.com recently told me that she’s also a…hugger, hugmamma, and a hug-gramma. So no small wonder that she created the Hug Award. Now why didn’t I think of that? Oh yeah, right. I’m not adept at creating awards…just receiving them.  We’ve all got our talents…according to God‘s wisdom.

The guidelines are many for nominating a blogger into Connie’s Hug Award hall of fame. They can be viewed in their entirety by clicking on the link below. They’re worth a look-see.  http://ahopefortoday.com/hug-award-guidelines/ 

Among the guidelines is one that requires I nominate at least one person who I think fits the description of having hope…”to look forward to with desire and reasonable confidence,” as defined by Webster. I’m certain I know of many more, but the ones that immediately come to mind are these whom I have followed for some time, and whom I’m almost certain have not yet been nominated. Although I could be mistaken because Connie is in the midst of compiling a list of recipients, as I type.

Christine Grote of Random Thoughts From Midlife at http://randomthoughtsfrommidlife.wordpress.com is a published author, having written of her deceased sister in Dancing In Heaven. It’s a compelling story of a woman who lived her life disabled…but did not let it disable her. Her life touched others in ways that continue to resonate. And now Christine’s family is revisited by sorrow once again in that her dad is stricken with Alzheimer’s. That she can endure life with steady resolve is a tribute to Christine’s hope in the dawn of a new day…each and every day. You won’t be disappointed when you visit my friend and fellow blogger. Give her a hug for me.

My friend at Sweet Days Under The Oaks is a Missouri girl down to her shoes, which run the gamut in her gravatar photo…currently, moccasins. PhotoHer blog is a front row seat onto the wide open spaces of rural America. Snapshots abound beautifully depicting country life among the birds, the horses, and others of God’s  critters, including humans doing what they do…like eating homemade rolls hot out of the oven. Makes me want to sit a spell…and hope that we all might partake of my friend’s…little piece of heaven on earth. Go see for yourself at http://sweetdaysundertheoaks.wordpress.com. It’s likely you won’t be in a hurry to leave.

My final nominee for the Hug Award is a man who has relocated to London…and taken his readers with him. Small PhotoTBM of 50 Year Project has challenged himself to visit 192 countries, read 1,001 books and watch the top 100 movies. Quite a goal! But if you peruse his posts, you’ll see that he’s dead serious. I could only hope to accomplish half as much as he. Given the time I’ve left to enjoy on this earth…I think I’ll pass. I’ll live vicariously through TBM. Now there’s someone with everlasting hope…for many, many, many tomorrows. God bless him…which I think He does. I recently gave TBM a hug, which he more than graciously accepted.

…I’m hoping these…and all my friends…accept the hug award…with huge hugs…

…here’s to hugging…cheers!!!…okole maluna (“bottoms up” in hawaiian)

………hugmamma.  🙂

real change…street news

Real Change

Image by djwudi via Flickr

It’s been a while since I posted something from one of my favorites, street newspapers. Begun to help the homeless help themselves, nonprofit ventures like Real Change here in Seattle provide a source of income for many who want to make a difference in their own lives. They’re offered a hand up, not a hand out. One such person is Reggie Thompson, Vendor of the Week.

     Reggie Thompson is discovering a new Reggie Thompson. For years, too many too-long days aboard an Alaskan fishing boat stifled his creative side and artistic ambitions. The physical–and sometimes deadly–work kept him moving 18 hours a day, seven days a week.
     Since the day he had first arrived in Alaska, Reggie had imagined he would be fishing for the rest of his life. But an injury to his wrist had cut short his life at sea. He returned briefly to previous work in telemarketing management in Anchorage, but the job then ended and Reggie moved on.
     And so it was with an injured wrist, no job and two aging parents back home in Virginia that Reggie picked up and moved to Seattle in 1997. Then, two and a half years ago, he found himselt at the Real Change office.
     “You got to work your own hours, be your own boss,” he says of the career change. “After all those years on the boat, that sounded really good to me.”
     He regularly sells more than 300 papers each month in front of the Specialty’s Cafe and Bakery at 3rd and Spring downtown. He’s close with many of the people who work there and the customers who frequent the bakery. Some just stop to buy the paper, others want to stop and talk with him at great length about his life, their lives, Alaska, music, anything.
     But while that’s been important to Reggie, it’s not what has stirred this latest transformation in him. Last year, he joined photography and community journalism classes hosted at the Real Change office.
     “I thought that journalists on the street have a lot of good stories to tell that people haven’t heard yet,” he explains. “I like writing because I can express myself and also share these stories with my customers.”
     He is also working on improving his photography skills through Path with Art, a nonprofit aimed at providing art classes to homeless and low-income individuals in Seattle. And then there’s music. When he was a young child, Reggie received a guitar from his father. Reggie taught himself to play by ear. Rock ‘n’ roll, soul, jazz; he loved it all. Years later, in the 1970s, he would even get the chance to play onstage with the Motown band The Symbolics at New York City’s historic Apollo Theater.

Apollo Theater (New York City)

Image via Wikipedia

     “That was an experience I will never forget. I had been hanging out with all those guys, all those musicians in Harlem at the time. And to get to play at the Apollo, it was unforgettable.”
     Reggie is grateful for the chance to grow with his artwork now. His writing has been published in San Fransisco‘s Poor Magazine, and he writes regularly for the vendor-powered blog (insp-blog.org/realchange).
     Loyal customers who support him at his spot in front of Specialty’s are also some of the biggest supporters of his writing, artwork and music. Talking about those people–his community–he tells me, “I just enjoy working here. Since the first day I came here they’ve been a part of my life. I’ve got to thank them for supporting me through all the ups and downs. It’s beautiful, and I wouldn’t change a thing.”

(Adrienne Brown…writer) 

…everyone has a compelling story…deserving to be told…hugmamma.

weeding 101…life lesson?

Whew!!! Spent a couple of hours hunched over, pulling out weeds…one, two, three at a time. Only certain weeds seem to proliferate in the shady slope to the left of our front yard, blackberries being the biggest nuisance of all. If I’d have known I’d be pulling them out every year for the last 14 years, I’d have been content with learning to make jelly by the case loads. Don’t fret their demise in that area, however. An overgrowth of blackberries comingled with other vegetation, forms a massive hedge separating our neighbor’s property to the right. I prune it back from time to time, just so it doesn’t feel like we’re being overrun by the Green monster with octopi tentacles.

As I tackled the overgrown patch of weeds, I was pleasantly surprised to see that the ajuga and sweet woodruff I’d planted last summer, and the summer before that, still thrived. Not only did they manage to grow amidst the weeds that were fighting to occupy the same space, but those hardy grouncovers thrived despite drought conditions. With a canopy of evergreen branches overhead, very little rain makes it through to the thirsty plants beneath. It’s survival of the fittest, and as you can see from the picture, there’s no shortage of survivors.

Pulling at the weeds, hundreds of them, I reflected on what it was I was doing. Seeing the ajuga and sweet woodruff, green and strong, as if happy to be free of the entangled brush, made me think of relationships that go unattended. We all get caught up in ourselves, our needs, our passions, our entertainment, our problems, our happiness. It doesn’t help that we no longer engage in personal communication, face to face, talking on the phone, and hand-written letters. Gadgets have replaced all of that. The bells and whistles attached to the “next best thing” are the “robots” which were only fantasy a few decades ago. They allow us to control our interaction with others. With the click of a button, or a point of the cursor, we can pause all communication, or shut it down completely. No excuses necessary; no thought for the other person.

But it’s never too late to clear through the technological barbed wire, and return to the basics of human interaction. It needn’t be etched in flourishes, like my friend Sylvia’s letters written in calligraphy. Putting a stamp on a hand-written card and mailing it the old-fashioned way, picking up the phone to reconnect once-in-awhile so we remember what human voices sound like, or having coffee to catch up on what’s been happening are starters to peeling back the layers of stuff that’s come between. 

Relationships, like groundcover, can, and do, survive neglect, if we strip away all the “weeds.” Sometimes a particularly nasty blackberry vine can leave scratches, but in a few days time the marks are gone. A scar or two may remain, but the pain is long over. In some relationships, the passing of time may not erase the scars or the pain. In those instances, a simple “I’m sorry for what I said, or what I did” may be necessary before  communication can progress. Just as water is necessary for plants to survive, so too relationships need to be watered with compassion, in the hopes they will grow anew.

Weeds are a bother, but there may be an upside to them after all. I’ll have a little more respect for them when…

i’m yanking them out by the roots…hugmamma. 😉

 

365 photo challenge: culture

Although I’ve not lived in the islands since 1977, my heart will always be Hawaiian-bred. The spirit of Aloha with which I was raised is forever ingrained in my moral fiber. My penchant for compassion, hope, and sending forth positive energy in an ever-increasing environment of me-ism and profit above all else, are owing to my Hawaiian roots where harmony within ourselves and with others is always something for which we must strive.

….and so i celebrate…………………………..ohana (family)………………………………

…the best example………….of my hawaiian culture………………….hugmamma.

the last word…diana

President and Mrs Bush greet TRH The Prince of...

Image via Wikipedia

Am almost done reading Sarah Bradford’s Diana – Finally, The Complete Story. It really does seem to be the definitive last word, with contributions from previously unheard sources. Now that Diana, the Princess of Wales, is no longer at the center of the maelstrom that had become her life, and Prince Charles and Camilla have moved on together into older age, and Prince William has married his Kate, those “in the know” are inclined to come forward with the truth, as they witnessed it.

“The definitive biography of the Princess of Wales. In this authoritative account, Bradford paints a revealing, accurate portrait of a complex woman flawed and adored in equal measure.” —Daily Telegraph

“A very sad story. Bradford tells it eloquently, but it’s her admirable detachment that leaves one pitying all, not one, of the characters involved.” —Antonia Fraser, The Guardian Review

“Forget about tawdry revelations–Bradford takes us to the heart of the People’s Princess, examining her relationships with her staff, friends and family as well as her children, husband, lovers and the royal family. Authoritative and admirably balanced, it draws on new sources and firsthand accounts.” –Tatler

Minefield warning on the Golan Heights, still ...

Image via Wikipedia

I won’t rehash the past, I’ll leave that to your potential to purchase the book, but I did want to call attention to the last charitable cause Diana undertook, which no individual seems desirous of undertaking in the wake of her untimely death years ago. And that is the detonation or better, extinction, of land mines. While those who sought to undermine the Princess of Wales would’ve labeled her a “basket case” or a “nut job” for walking through fields which had been cleared of landmines, there are those who would beg to differ.

According to William Deedes, a traveling companion on Diana’s landmine research trips to Angola and Bosnia

she sought to address herself to various issues in the world which were being neglected. There were millions of them (landmines) scattered round the world. They lurked wherever there had been conflict. A few charitable organisations were engaged in locating and lifting them, but it was discouraging as well as dangerous work because more mines were being constantly laid in the wars bedevilling Africa. The manufacturers of these mines represented a huge vested interest, which reduced the chances…of an international ban…defence forces in Britain, America and much of Europe saw the mines, properly laid and charted, as legitimate means of defence…

…’Nobody took a blind bit of interest in landmines until she (Diana) came along,’…

Deedes went on to say that the journalists who accompanied Diana on these trips were accustomed to “royal visits in daintier surroundings than Angola” and were, therefore, ” ‘dismayed’ by the state of the capital, Luanda, with stinking rubbish piled high in the hot streets.

 Sunday Times reporter Christina Lamb, a young, veteran war reporter cynical of Diana’s efforts there, had a change of heart after witnessing her work firsthand. “She was impressed: despite the heat and the smells Diana had come to work and work she did. Angola, said Lamb, was one of the few remaining places in the world where most people had no idea who she was, and therefore it was all the more remarkable to see the effect she had on the amputees she went among. ‘The Red Cross whisked us from one hospital to the next,’ Lamb wrote,…”

Nelson Mandela.

Image via Wikipedia

each with ever more horrific scenes of skeletal figures with missing arms, missing legs, and blown off heads–victims of some of the 16m landmines scattered round the country. Many of the injuries were so gruesome I could not bear to look, despite years of Third World reporting. But Diana never turned her head away. Instead, she had something I’d only ever seen before in Nelson Mandela–a kind of aura that made people want to be with her, and a completely natural, straight-from-the-heart sense of how to bring hope to those who seemed to us to have little to live for.

Her cynicism ” ‘wiped out’,” Lamb went on to say ” ‘That Lady-with-the-Lamp performance wasn’t just for the cameras,’ “

Once, at a hospital in Huambo when the photographers had all flown back to their air-conditioned hotels to wire their pictures, I watched Diana, unaware that any journalists were still present, sit and hold the hand of Helena Ussova, a seven-year-old who’d had her intestines blown to pieces by a mine. For what seemed an age the pair just sat, no words needed. When Diana finally left, the young girl struggled through her pain to ask me if the beautiful lady was an angel…At the end of the Angola trip Diana said that the lasting image she’d take away was of that terribly ill young girl.

Diana, Princess of Wales: Tribute

Image via Wikipedia

…one for the ages…diana…the people’s princess…hugmamma.

 

 

william and his kate…my wish for

Royal Wedding Will and Kates Story

Image by Pesky Library via Flickr

We are being inundated with coverage of the upcoming royal wedding between the future king of England and his queen, William and Kate. Ever since they announced their engagement to the world, they seem always to be smiling. They seem to wear their happiness well. Perhaps they have already learned what so many married couples take decades to figure out. If they have, then they may not need the advice of relationship expert, Leo Buscaglia. But it never hurts to heap on the well wishes for longevity in what already appears to be a solid friendship, and a grand love affair. Buscaglia writes in his book, Loving Each Other…

We cannot look for joy as we do a lost article of clothing. We make our own happiness. we define it for ourselves and experience it in our unique way. No one can be happy for us nor tell us what should make us happy, though people will always try. The sad fact is that we fall into Madison Avenue traps which convince us that happiness is the right drink, the flashy automobile, the scented deodorant, bursting-with-health cereal or the special snack food. Even the wisest among us are seduced by the exuberant TV ad or the seductive graphic into believing that we, too, can change our lives if we switch to a new mouthwash. We never stop to think that there is nothing in the world which can be given or denied us that will bring us happiness unless we decide it. In fact, the happiest people in the world would probably still be happy if stripped of everything except life.

Kate and Wills

Image by JeanM1 via Flickr

…Perhaps much happiness is lost in the pursuit of it. Hawthorne in his American Notebooks said that happiness always comes incidentally. “Make it the object of pursuit,” he added, “and it leads us on a wild goose chase and is never attained.” He suggests that we should lose our way and follow something totally unrelated. In that way we often happen on happiness without ever dreaming it would be there.

We are far too rational in our relationships, far too ordered, organized and predictable. We need to find a place, just this side of madness and irrationality, where we can, from time to time, leave the mundane and move into spontaneity and serendipity, a level that includes a greater sense of freedom and risk–an active environment full of surprises, which encourages a sense of wonder. Here, ideas and feelings which would otherwise be difficult to state can be expressed freely. A bond of love is easy to find in an environment of joy. When we laugh together we bypass reason and logic, as the clown does. We speak a universal language. We feel closer to one another.

Royal Wedding Flags Go Up On Regents Street, L...

Image by DG Jones via Flickr

…Joy and happiness are simply states of mind. As such they can help us to find creative solutions. When we feel joyful, euphoric, happy, we are more open to life, more capable of seeing things clearly and handling daily tensions.

…”Joy comes into our lives,” Joseph Addison says, “when we have something to do, something to love, and something to hope for.”

Live fully and with abandon. Love totally and without fear. Hope splendidly and never relinquish the dream. These will help us but joy will only be ours when we choose it. As Abraham Lincoln reminded us, “Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.”

William and Kate Royal Wedding plates

Image by Ben Sutherland via Flickr

and may I add…

long life and…everlasting happiness…to sylvia’s king and queen…william and…his kate…hugmamma.

formerly homeless poets

Came across poems written by a couple of formerly homeless. I thought you’d enjoy their perspectives on life. Though their circumstances may differ from ours, their innermost thoughts and feelings can sometimes mirror our own. See what you think…

Music Dogs Love: While You Are Gone Released 2...

Image via Wikipedia

Why We Need More Pets than Shelters
by Cathie Buckner

Pets offer love without hoops to jump through.
They are accepting no matter how or to whom we pray.
They never tell us to go away.
They often give us joy and something to live for.
And never make us leave our stuff in the courtyard
where buzzards lurk to pluck it all up.

Music Cats Love: While You Are Gone Released 2...

Image via Wikipedia

They offer safety in all the unsafe places
and make us aware of devils in the dark blue.
They never turn their face or walk the other way.
They share the things we have and are satisfied.
They are always well-calming even when we feel out of control.
Never a tough tongue or bootstrap rap.
They love the way we smell even when there is no water to be found.
They keep us warm on long, lonely nights.
And they keep the rats at bay.

The Struggle
by Jesse Hayes

Time after time I find I’m drowning in a sea of despair
doubtfully I open up my eyes searching for a road that leads somewhere
when it seems that all hope is gone memory brings back to me what your love has done
so I’ll glory in all my tribulation knowing that it will make me strong
surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses
I’ll struggle until the race is won
I’ll struggle until the race is won
I’ll struggle until the race is won

Jesus with children, early 1900s Bible illustr...

Image via Wikipedia

Faith is being sure of what we hope for
certain of what we cannot see
when the trumpet sounds and Jesus comes to take us
I pray my faith will still abide in thee.

mothers, compassion for

Cast of Family Ties from a later season. (From...

Image via Wikipedia

Through the first three-quarters of Meredith Baxter‘s autobiography, Untied, I found myself extremely frustrated. Here was an actress whom I thought had everything going for her. She was best known as Elyse Keaton, Michael J. Fox’s TV mom on “Family Ties, an 80s sitcom. But sometime before that she had been one-half of the handsome couple in Bridget Loves Bernie.” David Birney played her spouse, and became the real thing after the show ended.

What was disappointing about Baxter’s real life story is that through 3 failed marriages, she was always the victim of her husbands’ verbal, emotional, mental and in Birney’s case, physical abuse. Where she might have projected a woman-in-control on the small screen, she was anything but, in her personal life. Yet in one important area she was in charge. Able to get regular acting gigs, Baxter became the “bread-winner,” and wound up paying alimony to her ex-husbands.

The source of Baxter’s inability to be an equal partner in heterosexual relationships, for she did recently out herself as a lesbian, was because her mother had opted out of that role when Baxter was very young. 

 

Craftsman-style bungalow in North Park, San Di...

Image via Wikipedia

I can remember coming home from first grade, walking through the front door of our little white Craftsman-style house on Indiana Avenue in South Pasadena, and calling out, “Mommy, I”m home!” 

No answer. I was confused; her car was out front. I stood very still.

“Mommy, I’m home!”

Still nothing. Then I remembered.

“Whitney?”

“Yes, dear?” her musical voice rang out from the middle bedroom, where she kept a vanity table at which she’d do her makeup.

Although I believe she had no idea about the psychological impact this might have on her children, now that I’m older I realize that Whitney was probably just giving us what she got. Whitney’s mother was born Martha Mae Wilkerson–my brothers and I called her Memaw. She was a scrappy, tough, smart, and wily survivor. She wasn’t the soft, fuzzy type; she didn’t coddle Whitney and she didn’t coddle me. …married five times…Memaw would leave her kids behind, once with a couple of former missionaries and another time with her elementary school teacher. …It wasn’t until the fifth grade that Whitney discovered drama class…From that day forward, Whitney realized that no matter what school she was in, the drama department would become home…(and) that the nearest thing she had to a real family when she was growing up were the casts of the plays that she appeared in.

AA meeting sign

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It took Meredith Baxter the better part of her life to sort through the mess it had become. Having drifted into alcoholism, she eventually sought help from Alcoholics Anonymous upon the urging of the producers of a particular TV show she’d been working on. But even after attending the group’s meetings for 10 years, Baxter hadn’t engaged in the self-examination process recommended by the program, until a good friend intervened.

Carla noted that…I’d not laid to rest many of the issues that brought me into the program in the first place ten years before, the primary issue being my mother! Drinking had been but a symptom of my alcoholism; I used drinking to solve my problems, but my problems were caused by my thinking, my selfish, self-centered, self-seeking, self-pitying thinking, and the destructive feelings and resentments that resulted. This way, I developed and preserved a belief system that filtered all information through a warped prism of being unwanted, unloved and unlovable.

Baxter set about replacing her old belief system with a new one. She found clarity in acknowledging that she deeply resented having to call her mother by her stage name instead of mom or mommy, and that she didn’t acknowledge her children as hers for a long time, and that she left them in the care of their stepfather while she pursued her acting career.

In order to help herself heal, Baxter decided that she needed to understand her mother.

…figure out who she was, learn what kind of mothering/role modeling she received, what did she want that she didn’t get, what were her disappointmens in life and how did she deal with them? And why did she make the choices with her children that she made? 

After answering all of these questions for herself, Baxter found great relevance in the words of someone speaking at an AA meeting.

A woman was talking about our parents as wells and that we were wired to go to our parent-wells for nurturing and sustenance. Many of us found our parent-wells were empty, but they weren’t empty at us. They were just empty.

Meredith decided that while she felt she was the target of her mother’s empty well, there was no basis in fact to support it. Instead, the supposition was based upon personal feelings.

As a followup to her discovery, Baxter needed “to learn to have compassion for (her) mother’s empty well, to accept (her) mother’s limitations and forgive her.”

Well, as soon as I started thinking of ways I had disappointed my own children, I quickly had a much better perspective. I thought about being too fearful to protect them from David, times when I traveled and worked when they probably needed me, times I left them with nannies, times I, like Whitney, had chosen work over my kids, times when I’d had too much to drink to be useful to them in any way–the list is endless. I could honestly say, however, that I did the best I could given the tools and information I had at the time, and therefore I had to allow the same for Whitney.

What I came away with was a sense of understanding Whitney and appreciating her in ways I wouldn’t allow myself to before. In truth, she gave me the very best she had. What I thought of it at the time is not important because I wasn’t in a position to know.

Finally, Meredith Baxter enumerates the ways in which she has been a better parent as a result of her own mother’s failures. “Many of what I think are my best traits as a mother were developed as a protest to what I had experienced with her.” Where Whitney never spent time with her children, Meredith was sure to be with her own youngsters when she wasn’t working, “making breakfasts, packing lunches, doing carpool, play dates, homework, projects, school breakfasts, soccer games and practice, gymnastics, baseball games and practice, swim meets, piano, violin, track meets, open houses, teacher meetings, performances.” And she was thankful that she loved being a mother, who loved doing it all. For that Baxter credited her mother for leaving a legacy, of which she had no knowledge. 

I found this portion of the book the most befitting my own experience. Like Baxter I had to let go of painful occurrences with my mom as I was growing up. What I didn’t understand as a youngster, I understood only too well when I became a wife and mother. Furthermore I’ve had the love and support of my husband for 40 years, and counting. While my mom never remarried after becoming a widow at age 30, pretty much shouldering her burdens alone. I had only one child for whom to care, my mom had nine. She had serious health issues all of her life, like diabetes, high blood pressure, arthritis. And they only worsened as she got older, added to which she also developed Alzheimer’s. I’m able to see to my health on a regular basis, because I have a spouse who provides a comfortable life.

Parents do the best they can with what tools they’ve been given. Rather than find fault, we can try to do better with what we’ve been given. But if at times we fail, and we will, we should be prepared to forgive, ourselves and others, and show compassion, knowing that we can always try again.

for moms…huge hugs…hugmamma.