I waited with a heavy heart for my daughter to come home. I kept seeing the image of her face as she drove away. It’s not easy being a mom sometimes. When your child hurts, the pain for a parent is excruciating. This is her senior year. Naturally I want it to be special but there will always be some bumps and bruises along the way. The last words I spoke to her echoed in my mind. Try and have a good time. Find new people who feel like your people. They are out there, just look.
For those of you who did not read my first post, Pride or Love, the dilemma was whether or not she should get on the senior party bus for the semi- formal dance. There would be many kids on that bus who made her contemplate whether she should get on it or not. They are kids who behave in a way she doesn’t support but it was the senior party bus and everyone wanted to be on it. The problem was, everyone was not really given the opportunity. Through bullying or mocking of just plain “meanness”, some kids would not be permitted to step foot on the popular bus.
Hours later she arrived home looking very relaxed. She took control of her own destiny and ultimately her own happiness. She gave up her seat on the party bus and she stayed at the dance. Whether she knows it not, she made an important choice last night that I hope will be the first of many to come. She did what was right for her own soul. Popularity, being part of the big, popular crowd was not worth sacrificing her own self worth. She is more like her mom than I ever imagined and I couldn’t be prouder. It’s easy to step on the party bus. It’s easy to get lost in a crowd. What isn’t easy is standing on that curb alone while the bus pulls away. She is enough without the crowd, looking more beautiful than ever as she waves goodbye and the bus pulls out of sight.
Earlier, on the way home from a swim meet, I had a talk with my 17 year old daughter. She was explaining her despair and frustration over nasty girls leading her senior class. These girls are well liked, popular girls who do some really mean things to really good people. Their example is unfortunately one being followed by the weaker minded people of the crowd. The nice girls who are good students and kind human beings are their victims. They go after them fiercely until they do whatever it takes in their power to run them down and make them an outcast. Tonight is their semi dance. It’s her senior year and she is deflated over making the decision to ride the senior party bus. She knows many riders are not her people but some of her friends wanted to be on it. The conflict is, some of her other friends are the victims. We are pulled to the party bus. We want to be with the in crowd, making headlines so we can say we were along for the ride. We want to hold our sign and pose for selfies so we can litter the internet with our powerful smile with the caption “there’s nowhere else I’d rather be.” We talked about the parallel with what is going on in America now. The trade off is falling victim to wanting to be part of something bigger than ourselves because somewhere along the way, we have stopped feeling big enough alone. Innocent people are willing to play the part of pawns in a very dangerous game. We all want to be in a group that makes us feel like a badass. We love the energy generated by the whole power in numbers thing but sometimes, if we are not careful, we take it too far. It is in that shining moment when our ego gorges itself and we feel full and whole again. At least we pretend we do until the next party bus rolls on through and reluctantly, we step on because we’ve mistaken it for home. It is that moment when we’ve never felt more alone. We have to stop looking outward and to other people for a sense of self worth and purpose. We won’t gain it during a protest or a million person march. We certainly won’t find it on any party bus. You are good enough. It’s time to look in the mirror and say, I am enough. We all have a calling. We have gifts that we were given to make this world a better place. You can’t find love or force love. You are love. It is up to you to decide what you do with it. Love and power don’t mix. Love is selfless, it lifts others up and does not judge another as less that oneself. It does not march against but yet towards something greater for everyone. Love listens. Love hears the truth even when it hurts. Love does not force. Love does not purposely harm. Love does not divide. Pride does. My heart aches for my daughter tonight. I know the battle well and I understand how lonely it can feel to stand alone. I also know how awful it feels to dive in to a place head first where you were never meant to fit in. Love does not resist. Love leans in and reaches out. I hope she finds her people tonight. I hope they will recognize each other through the crowd and find some peace. Love seeks peace. Pride seeks fame and self. It’s up to you to understand the difference.
A lot of things are inherent in life -change, birth, death, aging, illness, accidents, calamities, and losses of all kinds- but these events don’t have to be the cause of ongoing suffering. Yes, these events cause grief and sadness, but grief and sadness pass, like everything else, and are replaced with other experiences. The ego, however, clings to negative thoughts and feelings and, as a result, magnifies, intensifies, and sustains those emotions while the ego overlooks the subtle feelings of joy, gratitude, excitement, adventure, love, and peace that come from Essence. If we dwelt on these positive states as much as we generally dwell on our negative thoughts and painful emotions, our lives would be transformed.
Today is an important day to remember that you get back exactly what you give out. There is energy all around us, an ebb and flow of give and take. If you give off resistance, you invite resistance back into your life. If you offer respect and humility, that same humility and respect will be returned to you. We have to be very cautious and remember that what we focus on is what we get more of. We do have control over what we bring into this world. We shape it with our thoughts and actions but it is imperative to be painfully honest with ourselves. Do we fight for tolerance while at the same time being intolerant ourselves? There is no justification to skirt around this. The truth doesn’t change to fit your agenda. You cannot apply labels to someone else and excuse that same behavior for yourself because your reasons are justified. From where I stand, I don’t see much tolerance or respect or even dignity as we stand across from each other pointing fingers. Unless you are truly willing to take an honest look at who you are, then don’t think you have the right to look at anyone else. Be bigger. Be better. Be real change and a leader who stands up for what is right period. Not for this group or that group but rather make a stand for behavior that portrays humility, kindness, respect and dignity. You can be part of the crowd or you can stand out alone and scream, follow me. I will show you a new way. On this day, choose peace not pride, unity over division, love over hate and hope over despair.
I could be way off but I really believe it takes more than one person to make or break something. I am seeing all this speaking out against Betsy Devos. I don’t know anyone personally who has had a worst experience than myself when it comes to the public school system. I can tell you from experience that if you have a child who has learning disabilities or simply difficulties, the school system is a total failure. I have lived in three states and experienced schools at the elementary, middle and now high school level. I think people forget where the funding comes from and who decides to what and where the money goes. I can also say with confidence that the entire system is broken. I don’t care who is in charge, the change has to happen on a large scale level and I haven’t found a school system yet that even cooperates with the way the system is set up. The schools I have been a part of actually receive funding to help kids like my son and even though he has a 504, they refuse to follow it. Last year I had a teacher refuse to supply him with notes even though it is an accommodation on his plan. When I spoke with the principal, he supported the teacher not to give notes because this man was so brilliant he taught from his head. By law, that school was required to supply those notes. When I asked for a textbook or something that would possibly help him, I was told they had no way of getting their hands on one. I volunteered to sit in a class during state testing and counted 34 old textbooks in the course I needed help with sitting on a shelf and not being used. They flat out lied to me in that meeting and had the resources there all along. They collect money everytime they pass go. I can tell you the money isn’t being used for what it was meant for. I haven’t found one school who held any interest in doing anything to help him and they ignore and spit on his accommodations. So what does that have to do with DeVos? Do I think she or anyone else has the experience or knowledge to change the current problems in our education system? No I do not. But I do believe we need to gut the whole process and start completely over. It takes more than one person to raise, build or maintain a village. People need to wake up and admit the problems are much deeper than we pretend them to be. I don’t have any answers but I do agree the public school system is widely flawed.
We are all experts when it comes to opinions.
I was thinking about how different heroes are today from when I was a child. I grew up with characters like Superman, Spider-Man, Batman and Robin. Characters who saved a city, a group of people and sometimes an entire world. Who didn’t dream about entering a phone booth ordinary and stepping out with shiny boots and a cape? As the years collected, I recognized heroes in real life people. Police officers who kept us safe, firefighters who ran into a blazing inferno to save a child, brave men and women who put their lives at risk to protect us and our so called freedoms everyday. A single mother who worked three jobs to make sure her children had clothes to wear and food to eat. They knew what it meant to sacrifice. Today, heroes seem to be the people who vilify others. We praise them and cheer them on. Sometimes I wish I could go back to believing in Superman. It’s no wonder so many people are lost and confused. We idolize the wrong kind of people today. It makes me feel a little sad. I wonder if there’s any chance of going back to the way it used to be. I don’t see many heroes anymore. I certainly don’t see them in people who are supposed to be our role models. I don’t see them sitting on a floor in Washington DC. I certainly don’t see them on Facebook or on tv. Heroes don’t need attention. You won’t find them competing to get their face in the limelight. They are the quiet type who travel to other countries for mission trips. They are the ones who slow down long enough to give a homeless man on the corner something to eat. They are the the people who deliver meals to the elderly or who volunteer their time to sit with someone dying. They are there in the background. They don’t need attention and they probably wouldn’t want it anyway. Who are your heroes? Who do you idolize and cheer for? What kind of people do you share in your posts on social media? Take a good look. You might learn a great deal about yourself. Do you like what you see?
I consider myself to be a pretty strong individual. It’s one of my strengths. I have chosen to march into all kinds of battles that leave me standing vulnerable and alone. Today a tiny onion took me down. I really thought I was tough until that fourth or fifth cut. That was the end for me. The onion won.
If you think life is fair, play a round of Yahtzee against the computer.
This single word pretty much sums up relationships today. Our support, our love, our forgiveness and even our time is conditional these days. We used to show respect for the sake of being respectful, we used to show kindness for the sake of being kind but now we pick and choose who is worthy of those things as if we are on a different level. Newsflash! This is an even playing field. It’s a shame that who we associate determines our worth in the minds of some. It’s a travesty that holding a particular position, education level or even embracing a particular mindset actually sets us apart from others. As if we are in competition and there’s some magical prize at the end. There is actually and it’s a decorative urn or a fancy casket. Time is running out. Each rotation of the hand of the clock leaves less time for us to get it right. This quote take us in the right direction.
We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love. There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies.
Martin Luther King, Jr.
As Jennifer Pastiloff often says, “At the end of my life when I ask one final question, what have I done? Let my answer be, I have done love”.