Red

I was challenged the other day to try to describe the color red in such a way that a person who has never seen color would understand it. At that moment a picture formed in my mind and so this is where it has led: 

An Essay on the Color Red

Red is a color, everyone knows it’s a color, even people who cannot see know there is a color called ‘red’. There are countless things that are red in this world: stop signs, cardinals, robins, and worms; blood, roses, carnations, cinnamon, and peppermint. Different candies are red, so are muscles, cheeks, lips and tomatoes. If you look for red, and can see, you will find it everywhere.

How do you tell someone about the color red? How do you explain what red is? Is it wavelengths of light? What if they don’t see light? Is it a sound, a touch, a feeling, a taste? Yes. But what is red? Red can be fierce like a lion’s roar, but a lion isn’t red. Red can also be anger or love. How about those? 

Have you ever been so mad, so absolutely speechless and angry that you couldn’t think straight? That your head hurt? Your forehead crinkled? You felt so pent up inside, wanting to scream? If you try screaming nothing comes out because you don’t even have words to say, or you have too many words to spit out at once? Have you been so livid that everything in your body tenses, your heart races, your ears hear a rushing sound as blood races by them? If you could release it all in one giant jolt, something or someone would die? That kind of anger is red.

Have you ever felt so in love that your heart was about to burst? You couldn’t think of a single negative thing no matter what? If someone were to make you trip and fall you would just hop back up on your feet, brush yourself off and keep on going? You keep a smile on your face knowing that life has so much to live for. There’s something magical going on in your life and you have someone to share it with you. Have you ever felt your cheeks get warm after the brush of your lover’s lips on yours? Felt the extra beat in your chest as your heart jumps with excitement? That’s red also.

But how does it feel? Can you touch red and know it? I’m certain you already have. Have you ever skinned your knee when you were playing as a child just to have your hand brush against it and come back wet and warm? Blood. Blood is also red. Blood is what rushes to your face to make you blush, making your cheeks warm with love. Blushing also comes from being embarrassed. Blood provides life to you and so here red is life.

Have you ever smelled a rose, touched it’s silky petals and then grasp its stem too hard? The thorns force blood to pour from your palm. A gentle touch of the petals, though, is like a butterfly caressing your cheek? Red. Roses are sometimes red.

Sound though? Can you hear red? Listen to a child cry, feel her hot breath on your face. Listen to her screaming bloody murder because she didn’t get what she wanted, or stubbed her toe. Maybe somebody pinched her or there’s something wrong and she doesn’t know what to say. Hot and sweaty from screaming. She’s red. Red with anger and discomfort. Her mouth is red, cheeks are red, lips are red. That’s red. What about the hot, angry child that can’t have his way? The temper tantrum in the middle of the store? He can’t have his candy? That’s red too.

Red is like Christmas sometimes, only sometimes. It’s not the smell of the pines. It’s the smell of the candy canes, the peppermint or cinnamon hanging on the tree. That’s red. It’s mixed with other colors sometimes. But red is definitely cinnamony and pepperminty too, like a hot chocolate with a candy swirled in the middle. The chocolate, that’s not red, but the candy is. 

Red. How do I describe red when it changes so much? The truth is colors change too. There’s different kinds of red. There’s different meanings for red, and different colors of red too. I can’t explain it all, I can only share with you some of the things that are red. Like the railway arms blocking cars from crossing a train track, they’re red. If you are in the car, and the car comes to a screeching halt, stops in the middle of the road and you don’t know why. Sometimes that’s red, because red is what we use for danger. It’s also what we put on stop signs. It is used as a warning meaning be careful. No, not careful, it means danger. Yellow means be careful, but this isn’t about yellow, this is about red. 

What is red? It’s what you make it. Even those who see red, see it differently. Sometimes, even if we can see red, we argue. Is it this kind of red? Or is it that kind of red? If you want to argue over which kind of red it is you’re welcome to do that too. Because sometimes red has other colors mixed in and it’s not quite so red anymore, but it still looks red. 

Red can be spicy like a chili pepper, or itchy like a rash. It can squish between your teeth like a tomato or crunch like an apple. It can signal danger, anger, and love all at the same time. It can feel like a caress or a stab from the same rose. It is both good and bad, hot and cold, sweet and spicy, noisy and quiet. It is what ever you choose to make of it. 

I’ve done a particularly awful job of describing a color to someone who has no color in their life. But hopefully, it helps, just a little.

thank you for reading,

me

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Mom?

Today marks 8 years since my mother died. Over the last four months I’ve loved her, missed her, hated her, loved her some more, and just wished I could talk with her. I’m glad she no longer suffers and I’m glad that she didn’t have to see me go through the things I’ve gone through the last couple of years. She would have been livid if she knew all the stuff her ex-son-in-law put her daughter through. I don’t think it’s possible to never need your mom again. I’ve wanted to ask her so many questions. I’ve written her a letter that she’ll never be able to see.

There are so many things I would talk to her about right now. With my eldest getting married in a few days, I’d start with apologizing for how I behaved when she was planning my wedding without my help. That would be where I start. But, if we had time to sit down over a cup of tea I think I’d go back to where things really went wrong. I’d ask her why she disappeared when I needed her the most. I’d ask her to explain what was going through her mind when her husband decided I shouldn’t keep my baby. I’d ask her how she could have possibly allowed me to let someone kill her first grandchild. I’d ask her where she went, after telling me that she’d help me anyway she could. I’d ask her why she wasn’t strong enough to stick up for me. I’d ask her why she put up with my dad. I’d ask her a lot of things.

I’ve forgiven her for most, if not all of it, but I still wonder why. I know my father was a difficult person to live with and one that you just never argued with. I don’t know what went on behind in private. I do know that I learned that I was to be subservient to my husband from him. And at the same time I never once doubted that both of my parents loved me.

It’s interesting, when I look back on it. My mother tried to tell me to love myself, but she was late on that. My father? He still lives and I’ve mostly forgiven him for many things yet I still want to know why. Why did he make me choose death? I’d like to understand what possessed him to think that it would be better. I know my mother knew, there’s no way that she couldn’t. I know she knew because she had already given birth to three babies. She knew what I was going to have to deal with. She insisted I get help, help I never got until this year.  My father, though? Did he not realize that forcing me to go through that would end up with me hating myself for the next 30 years? Did he realize that for all but the last three months that I truly believed that I was a murderer? How could a father choose to put his child through that?

Then, there’s the other side… If I talk to him will that open new wounds? Did he understand the implications and just think that he needed to make it happen anyways? Was he trying to protect me in his own way? There’s forgiveness there for him. Still part of me wants to know why. Why did you let your baby girl out of your sight? Where were you? Why didn’t you protect me? So many questions. No answers.

Questions I don’t really want answers to, not yet. Someday? Maybe. Maybe I’ll sit and talk with him on it one day. I haven’t yet, but I might. What would you do?

Thanks for reading,

me

 

Freedom

Freedom?  What is it?  How do you claim it? Do you want it?

The freedom I’m thinking of now is the freedom to be.  The freedom to be who you really want to be, the person you were meant to be… Freedom is a mindset that breaks through barriers.  This mindset is something that many don’t quite grasp.  What is it like to have the mindset of freedom?  It leads to power.  Power over your actions and power over your thoughts.  Power to change your mindset from negative to positive… It’s experiencing life daily, hourly, moment by moment.  It’s acknowledging your past and living into your future.  It’s allowing yourself to love yourself again.  Freedom is a way to find peace…

No matter your financial standing, no matter you marital status… no matter whether you are a loner or always around people… what you think and what you believe represents who you are.  The problem so many have, myself included, is that we forget that some of our beliefs are made unconsciously.  When we believe something to be true we don’t question it.  If for instance you believe the sky is blue then it is blue, if you believe you are beautiful then you are beautiful… these are fine beliefs… the problem is when you believe you are worthless, or ugly, or stupid, or incapable, or powerless, or … fill in the blank… these negative beliefs are not questioned and so we lose our freedom.  We lose our freedom to choose because we do not believe that we can.

What if we could redesign our thinking?  What if we could look at our beliefs and realize their true place… what if we can untangle the knots around our beliefs and see the true reasons for them… I’ve been untangling knots lately.  I had very strong beliefs that I was stupid, unworthy, helpless, guilty… and as I started to untangle the knots… as I started to get the input of others… as I began to really look at why I believed those things I found something amazing…

I found that my beliefs were built on those of a child in a bad place at a bad time.  My beliefs were set in stone for situations for which I had absolutely no control.   As I pulled on the strands of the knots around each of these, as I began to question why… I discovered that they were false.  I am not stupid, in fact I’m quite capable and a very quick learner… I am not unworthy, in fact I’m a child of God and I have worth just because I am me… I am not helpless, in fact I’ve managed to move mountains to get where I am today and I’ve done that with very little outside influence… I am not guilty, in fact I was forced and coerced, threatened, raped and beaten…

When I finished untying my knots in my soul, I discovered there was nothing wrapped up inside.  There was no reason for those beliefs.  I still have knots that I’m untying but I’m not as afraid to pull on the strings as I once was.  Now I am replacing my beliefs with faith. I now have the faith that I am capable, worthy, smart and innocent.  With this faith I can build a life that I love.  With this faith I can share who I really am and be who I really want to be.  Having this faith in a future to come is inspiring.  It is true freedom.

With this freedom I am now able to move forward and to help others.  I am able to appreciate my past for what it was, a learning experience.  I am now able to love others when they need loving.  Now I can be me.

Can you be you?  Do you need a little more faith?  Remember, it’s OK.  You are allowed to remember why you built your negative beliefs.  You can start asking why and you can grow alongside of me.  Together we can learn to be who we are meant to be and then others will realize that they also can be who they are meant to be.  Loving ourselves and others can be a wonderful thing.

thank you for reading,

me

No More Silence – Finding Freedom

Let me tell you about my daughter. She’s about 27 years old now I think.  Her birthday may be coming up soon, I forget.  Regardless her age, she’s beautiful, she’s smart, intelligent, and full of life.  She got married a few years back and she has a beautiful baby girl and a boy who is about to turn 3.  She’s happier than she could ever be in her life right now.  Her soul has touched thousands since her conception.  She has had friends in grade school, high school and college and she even went on to get a master’s degree. I don’t know what it was in, though.  It doesn’t matter because she’s happy.  She’s in a good relationship with a great guy.  She helps make me the great mom that I am today.  I guess she learned a thing or two from me because I can see that she’s also being great with her own kids now.

When she was younger she had a few hobbies going.  I think she  really enjoyed running, climbing and being outdoors. She does like to be outdoors though, probably because her mother always made her go outside to play.  I always send my kids outside to play.  She’s pretty well-rounded… I know I’m a decent mom and I know that I have let her make some mistakes but I wouldn’t let her hurt herself too badly because we all learn from our mistakes. She loves staying home with her kids too.  I loved that too. I totally wanted to be with my children more than anything in the world. You couldn’t pay me enough money to make me work so that I would miss my children growing up.

My daughter is a huge part of who I am.  I loved her the moment I met her.  Her soul has marked so many.  Many have no idea that she’s even left her mark.  Her mark is on me, for this I am tremendously grateful… it is on her siblings, her father, and her grandparents too.  Sometimes her mark is a bit hard to see but that doesn’t mean its not there.  Her mark has been stamped on dozens, maybe even hundreds of people.  Her soul has touched at least that many and more.  The very fact that I have the honor of being her mother, even through all of my failures, I thank God for daily.  The fact that she has impacted more lives than she will ever know, I wish she could understand.

I would love to show her how her very existence is a blessing.  All women, children, all people, should know how very much they mean to those around them  All should have the opportunity to realize their own power.  As I wait and wonder, I can see her potential.  I want only to bless her in a way that allows her voice to be heard.  I want to help her become known for the beauty and the gift that she truly is.  I want others to see her as I see her.  I’m not blinded by love, I know she has her faults… I know that I do as well.  But I may be blinded by love after all… because I know that she has good too and that that goodness, that greatness, deserves to blossom.  I wish you could meet her,  my angel.  But you can not,  for her life was but a wisp in the wind.  Her impact,  global. She, and her brother,  have continued to live on despite the world’s forces to prevent their growth.  Their lives were but a breath of air,  their souls eternal. I miss them daily,  hourly at times…yet,  in their memory I live. I can see their impact,  feel their presence.  I know that I only see but a tiny spark of who they are,  who they could have been…I know,  though,  another thing… my love for them has never waned and so I want to celebrate them for who they were,  who they are, and who they continue to grow to be. They grew inside of me and were taken from me physically,  yet their souls joined forces with mine and together our souls have moved mountains.   The future holds so much possibility it is hard to imagine. To be understood, and to understand, are gifts that many have no idea how to give.

My children give me life.  All of them, some continue to breathe and some don’t but all of their beings are an integral part of who I am.  I have been silent for too long.  Silence kills.  It has been killing me years.  It has been preventing me from taking a stand, from helping another.  I have been angry and hurt, guilty and withdrawn.  These emotions have not empowered me.  They have caused me to stop myself.  The emotions have ruled for too long.  My choice now, to speak.  To truly speak what needs speaking and to do what needs doing… this choice is by far one of the most terrifying and most freeing choices I have ever made.  Life.  I want to breathe life into those who surround me.  I want those who know me to truly embrace their goodness, their love, their lives… their power.  There is no room for silence any longer.  Silence is a disguise, a shadow.  Silence prevents people from taking a stand for what they believe in.  Silence hides secrets… and secrets kill.  Secrets took the lives of my first two children… the secrets of rape, of abuse, of family, of fear… When a mother’s children are dying she screams for all the world to hear.  She fights for their lives.  She begs for mercy from God, from others… She finds the strength to do things no one ever thought was possible.  But if there are secrets… and silence… then there is death.  Stop the silence.  Scream.

me

Life and Death

I have always wondered about life and death.  I’ve considered both and what they mean.  Living?  is that Life?  Dying is that death?  I’d hazard a guess, no.  Just because your body is breathing and because your heart is beating and because your brain is performing functions, that’s not living.  And death?  Death is what people think of when all of those functions stop.  But my thoughts? no.

Living is when you get up in the morning and you cannot count your blessings because there are too many.  Living is when you are willing to be hurt in order to be happy.  Living is when you use your brain and your body and your heart and your lungs in order to dream, play and love and cry.  Living is when each and every day is a blessing, whether disguised or not.  Living is recognizing that you are in fact alive and not just a random robot performing predictable, habitual activities every moment of every day.  Living is thinking outside of the box, trying new things, loving even when it hurts.  Living is caring so much that you feel powerless.  But living is Not powerless.  That would by dying.  Living is full of power.  The power of knowing emotions that have so many names that you never say your “OK” anymore.  You feel what you feel.  You feel anger and hope, love and despair, excited and bored.  Living is knowing that pain actually has its place and doesn’t have to be avoided.  Living is learning new things.  Living is the power to make life meaningful.

Dying on the other hand is quite different and more common than living.  The person who gets up in the morning, drives to work, works all day, drives home… only to sit in front of a TV and then go to bed and do it all again… So many people have no life at all.  These are the dying.  These people have given up on living, it was too much work.  These are the people who grow “old”.  Or think they are old at 30, 40, 60, even 80.  These do not realize that life has opportunity, even as we age.  Dying is waiting until some future that never comes before doing something you love.  Dying is giving up on being healthy.  Dying is never trying to excel anymore.  Dying is pessimistic, vile, and ugly.  Dying is accepting the fate of the doctors rather than fighting for life.  Dying is sitting in the dark waiting for sleep to come, wondering why you even bother anymore.  Dying is giving up.

I found myself dying.  I had just the tiniest spark of life left in me.  When I left my house for a time, a weekend away… that spark would ignite again.  But just as soon as I returned the spark would nearly vanish.  This scenario repeated over the years until I started to feed the spark inside more.  This tiny little spark of life, of hope finally began to flame.  The fire inside of me grew over the next several years, scorching the despair, scorching the cobwebs in my brain.  This fire grew and grew until I was finally able to break loose of my chains.  Chains that wanted to drown me.

The hard thing about living is that living has extremes.  Living has hate and love, fear and peace.  Living hurts.  Living allows pain to have its place, but with pain comes happiness.  Living is hard.  It’s easier to ignore your feelings, it’s easier to stay with the devil you know.  Living is scary, too.  Living means going into the unknown and trusting that it won’t at least be worse than what you do know.  It means trusting that there is a chance now for something better.  Living has hope.  Living means you allow yourself to be vulnerable.  So many who are dying have built fortresses around themselves in the hopes they would never feel again.  But I learned something today.  I learned that those fortresses don’t stop the feelings they just don’t let you define them.  Instead of feeling the pain you feel tired.  Instead of hope you quit before you start.  Instead of being vulnerable you feel lonely.

I enjoyed my fortress that I had built.  I enjoyed it so much that I protected it, guarded it.  I let no one know who I was.  I refused to allow the slightest hint of vulnerability.  Now, though, with my vulnerability I feel fragile.  My walls are but crumbles of ruins now.  My feelings are so many I cannot even count them.  In a single day I may feel sad, happy, angry, lonely, scared, tired, exasperated, love, hope, despair, loneliness, pride, peace, and even hate.  Being alive means feeling the extremes and accepting that they will pass and return again.  It’s hard, it’s scary, it’s wonderful and it’s worth it.

Are you alive or are you no more than a robot pretending to be alive?  Are you willing to take the chance again?  Are you willing to let your walls down?  Allow the possibility of peace and love and adventure again?  Yes, you might get hurt but pain is so much better than nothing at all.  Are you willing to trust yourself like a child does?  Children are the best at being alive.  Be like a child and trust your heart again.  We adults trust our brains too much.  Your heart will not lead you astray.  It may lead you to things you’ve never thought of before, it may lead you down roads you’ve been scared to go… but it will always lead you in the direction you should go.  Is it easy? No.  Is it worth it? Absolutely.

Thank you for reading,

me

Grief

What is grief?  Why is this something that is considered a difficult emotion?  Where does it come from?  What is it’s purpose?  Why must we experience grief?  I am grieving right now and I don’t like it.  I like the days where I can see the sun shining, where the weather is fine and the temperature is just right.  I like the days where my biggest thoughts are minor and unimportant, where my decisions aren’t a matter of life and death and where my memories don’t hurt.

But grief?  How can you describe it?  Is it the storm that sneaks into the night, that wakes you from your sleep with it’s first clap of thunder and rain pelting the window like little stones, the wind building into a crescendo as you wonder if the house will hold?  Or is it the morning that you wake where the skies are grey promising rain that never comes?  Days that are cold and air so wet that you can’t get warm?  I think grief is most like the grey day, cold, wet, miserable with no comfort with no end in sight.  Grief hurts.  It sucks the life out of you.  Grief demands attention and gets its way.  It refuses to be ignored.

Grief?  Why do you haunt me?  What have I left to learn?  Why do you sit there like a constant reminder?  Grief.  This feeling, this being, this ghost, is like all others.  It requires that you recognize it, embrace it, accept it.  It sucks.

Grief?  You haunt me with my past, you haunt me with my present.  You make me to pause and to cry.  You give me reasons to stop, to quit.  Grief!  Why do you come?  Did you not already know that I could not handle you?  I am ill prepared to deal with you and I cannot stand you!  Leave me.  You won’t.  A part of me understands you.  The part of me that is trying to grow.  You came along because I trusted me.  I trusted that I could handle you and so you came.  You came to test me.  You came to provoke me.  You came to kill me.

I have experienced you before and I have left you before.  I will do the same again.  Grief!  You will not hold me forever.  You will never gain complete control.  I will face you and I will cry.  I will sob, scream, and try to sleep you away.  You will not go, though, until I accept you.  I understand some.  I know that to love I have to hate.  I know that to smile I have to cry.  I know that to give I have to take. I know that to have peace, I must experience fear. I know that without you I fail to recognize the beauty around me.  Without your reminders I will forget to truly live.  I’m sorry, Grief.  I don’t want you but I do understand.  You will take your toll and I must wait until you are gone again.

I know you Grief.  I do not like you.  I do not like your reminders.  Your insistence on being noticed is worse than a spoiled child.  Grief.  I will give you what you want.  I will cry and I will stop and I will remember.  But Grief? When that is done you must leave, leave for a time or be quiet because I am still alive.  I refuse to die tonight and I will live despite you. Grief.  It’s time to let the living live.  You go your way and I’ll go mine. Grief, let me live.

thanks for reading,

me

Trust Your Heart

Trust your heart it sees things your brain refuses to see. Listen to your heart it knows things your brain doesn’t know. Your brain only sees so much, but your heart fills in all the gaps. Trust yourself. Trust what you feel. Understand that your brain doesn’t see it all, doesn’t know everything. Sometimes it tells the truth when your brain has been lying, especially if you’ve been lying to yourself for years.

You are going to be okay. You are already okay. You are already perfectly imperfect for God has made you so. God has made you whole. You are meant to be amazing for you were created by the Creator of everything. Playing small just diminishes your value. Learn to love. Trust your heart.

I started thinking, I started realizing, I have not forgiven myself. I have been taking responsibility for everything in my life.  A good thing somewhat but not so good if it includes from the time I was born.  Good if I gave equal credence to the good as the bad, maybe.  Bad, though, if I fail to recognize outside influences, forces for which I had absolutely no control.  I have been punishing myself; either by accepting punishment, or by encouraging punishment because I did not see that I had value.

But I do have value. I am worth it. I am an amazing person. I have so much love to give. I have hope. I am smart and beautiful. I deserve to have good things. I deserve to be forgiven and I did not deserve to do this alone. I have to talk, not for you but for me. I don’t know how, I do, I guess. Just open my mouth and start talking, but I’m not ready. I don’t know what will make me ready. I may never be ready. What I do know is true, is that I can continue to hurt and I can continue to feel this and I can continue to punish myself until the day I die; or I can deal with this, I can face my demons, confront my past, and live.

I can live without the blame.  I can allow myself to feel anger and hate and still be OK.  I can allow myself to experience my feelings so that they do not brew.  I can quit being numb and allow myself to experience life, the good and the bad.  I actually felt anger the other day that was righteous rather than reactive. I actually got angry. I allowed myself to truly feel and it hurt.  But for once I didn’t blame myself, the first time. When I didn’t blame myself I had a tremendous amount of peace. This peace is new and weird and odd and uncomfortable, but not bad. It’s just different. It’s a different feeling than I’ve ever had that I can remember. I’ve had moments of peace, where I could forget things, but this peace has me remembering at the same time. That’s new. I don’t think I have felt this before. I can’t remember, anyways.

As I begin another day, I pray that I can allow myself to feel the entire spectrum of feelings that come to me.  I am finally learning to cry again and experience life again.  Allowing myself to be true to my heart helps me to love my babies more deeply and will ultimately help me to be the person that I dream of being.

thank you for reading,

me