Archive | June, 2013

The Risk of Love

20 Jun

I once heard a lecture where the speaker said the most tragic aspect of child abuse was not that the child suffers abuse. Although this outcome is horrifying, the speaker identified the child’s precious and innate gift of love being rejected by the parent as even more catastrophic than the abuse itself. I found this quite a provocative statement. The more I thought about it, I imagined a young child innocent and exuberant running towards an adult for contact only to be met with violence or neglect. I pictured that child’s life force gushing forward and then shunned and I wondered where the love goes if it is not welcomed and acknowledged.

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When you think about it, young children are bursting with love. They smile and wave at strangers, nestle into their caretakers’ bosom and hug their dolls and teddy bears. They are like walking vessels of love until they start to experience hurt, rejection and the implementation of boundaries. Then with time they start to taper their responses giving affection when they feel it is safe and appropriate.

To love is a risk. Author C.S. Lewis wrote, “To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken.” And indeed any time we love someone, even an animal, we set ourselves up for loss because at some point we will lose the other either to death, separation or betrayal. Given this, it can be terrifying to love. When we’ve suffered extreme loss, the heart naturally wants to protect itself for who wants to feel all the pain involved in being human? The problem though is that if we do not keep risking love and vulnerability, we risk our very humanity. When we stop allowing vulnerability, we slowly put nails in our coffin. When we numb our feelings, we die a little each day.

We all know the cliché, “it is better to have loved and to have lost than to never have loved at all.” And indeed, each time we contemplate love, we weigh our options and whether the gain is worth the potential pain. If only we realized that the more we trust love the more rich our lives become. When we love, we draw closer to God for according to scripture, “God is love.”

Confessions of a Homebody

15 Jun

The fact that I’d rather be at home on a Friday or Saturday night reading a book is probably one of the many contributing factors to why I’m still single. Why battle the bar scene when one can be safely ensconced in the comforts of one’s own abode?

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I have always been a homebody. Not much has changed since I was little. When I was a girl visiting my grandparents in Wisconsin my grandma would suggest I play with the neighborhood kids and I typically elected not to. I preferred to just hang out at the house instead. My grandma and I would bake cookies and she would help me on knitting and sewing projects. When she was busy, I’d play in the yard, explore in the basement and attic and spend hours reading.

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Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not anti-social or agoraphobic. But underneath the deceptive exterior, I am a true introvert.

By some miracle, for the most part I work from home (when I’m not teaching a class somewhere). I also have an office where I see clients but it feels like an extension of home. There are chairs and a sofa and a lovely view. And most important, it’s quiet.

Some people like suiting up each day where they can collaborate with others and sit around a table. Yet the days when I had to work a 9-5 pm job forty hours a week at a cubicle were torturous. I would fantasize about eating lunch at home and doing work from my own desk with a cat on my lap. I day-dreamt that one day I would hear the sound of birds chirping outside my window while my fingers tapped on my personal key board. And I would feel a gentle breeze coming in through my screen door during the middle of a week day.

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When they give people career aptitude tests they should also ask questions about what kind of environment best suits a person because it is quite important. We spend a lot of hours working. Best to make the time magical.

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House Stark

9 Jun

While some of the Starks on “Game of Thrones” might have recently been killed off, Riley Stark, owner of Nettles organic farm on Lummi island is alive and well, providing a wonderful bed and breakfast experience for his guests.

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Nettles farm is located on Lummi, one of the San Juan islands two hours from Seattle and an hour and a half from Vancouver, BC. It is home to sustainable fisheries, organic farms and views of Mt. Baker.

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To get to Lummi island you have to take a ferry which is really more like a barge because the cars ride on top.

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Starks also founded the Willows Inn and renowned restaurant that the New York Times once included in an article entitled “10 Restaurants Worth a Plane Ride.” Everything at the Willows Inn is locally grown, picked, fished and plucked. To eat at this restaurant, you have to be on a waiting list.

The island is quiet and beautiful.

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And quiet and beautiful is good for all of our souls.

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What We Do For Love…

2 Jun

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It has been a rough twenty-four hours. My cat Hafiz has been trying to pee in anything but the litter box, which usually means he has a UTI. For two hours last night I listened to him rummage in my shoes, the bathtub and on the computer printer straining to “go.” In the morning, I found little pools of blood and he had missed the litter box entirely.

We immediately went to the vet for I also have a plane to catch this afternoon. And of course the Rock N’Roll marathon had all the streets near my vet blocked off so I carried him for many blocks in his carrying case. If he wasn’t already freaked I’m sure the sound of cheering and live music gave him a mini panic attack.

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I have another cat, Rumi who has only been to the vet one time in his life. He never has health problems. They are both the same age and from the same mother but one has “conditions” whereas the other does not.

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I know all of this pales in comparison to what parents of humans go through. Parents rush their kids to the ER for broken bones and concussions. Some parents even have to bail their kids out of jail every now and then. But my pets are my substitute children and medical problems of senior kitties can be frustrating and complicated. Every time I leave the house for work I am plagued with guilt. “Are Hafiz’s health problems caused from stress? Am I the reason he has these medical issues?” How do parents go to work each day leaving their kids in the care of a nanny or baby sitter? I can barely trust how Hafiz will do with a cat sitter.

Recently a friend reminded me of the beautiful book “Le Petit Prince” in which the fox tells the prince, “You become responsible for whatever you tame.” How we all need to tame each other and have that connection. “But if you tame me, then we shall need each other. To me, you will be unique in all the world. To you, I shall be unique in all the world.” And so I tame Hafiz and Rumi and they tame me. And it is a hassle yet as the fox says of love, “It is the time you have lost for your rose that makes your rose so important.”

As I anticipate the day Hafiz will no longer be able to keep on keeping on, I reflect on the profundity of love whether it is for a child, a family member or a pet. We hurt for love. Period. It is what we do.

As C.S. Lewis wrote, “To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.”