How do you like the title? Do you agree or disagree? I was going to call this blog post; You are who You Choose to Be. In my opinion both titles start at the same place, with YOU.

It’s the last night of Chanukah. The candles have already burned down and out. Quite soon the days will begin to get longer– though here in the Western mountains of the U.S. we are guaranteed very cold weather, snow, some ice… and some beautiful views of the mountains, trees, night scenes, children sledding… on and on.   I Believe

Personally I’m not too thrilled with cold winters. Perhaps all those years in North Carolina spoiled me. Fairly quickly I remembered how to dress in layers, though my feet get very cold just as I get into bed at night and one day soon I WILL replace the last hot water bottle. What I love are seasonal changes in the environment around me. I’m inspired by nature. This winter I’m going to focus on NOT building up my store of fat, like a hibernating bear,  to stay warm.

I’m wondering if you see a common theme; between the titles and my attitude about the cold season now upon us in North America? I have the ability to think myself out of dislike, out of sleeplessness, out of nasty thinking that will depress me. So for the sleeplessness I turn over in bed, lay my head on the fluffy pillow my grandchild uses when visiting, and tell myself; “go to sleep.” My wonderful grandmother would say; “gey shluffin.” That was one of her Yiddish phrases, she didn’t have many. Same meaning as my English command. And it works for me.

Similarly, I tell myself to stop when I’m letting my mind operate the record player that clicks on and whines with every complaint on a subject that is years old and notGrandM and me-Med worth listening to any more. I really, really believe we can control our thoughts, and by extension our feelings.

And now back to; You are Who you Choose to Be. I loved being a mother with a large brood of children. I still love my kids, but they are all grown up, some having their own kids,  out in the world. I’m actively working on making my life meaningful. It’s a work in progress. As is all of living. Pretty cool, that. We can make it up as we go along. I’ve recently chosen to change friends and change activities. There wasn’t enough compassion in the folks or the circumstances that brought us together.

And so I changed what I was doing; because it’s more important to me than most any other aspect, that the people I spend time with have and show compassion, empathy, caring, and love. Perhaps not directed at me, as long as it is there.  I also believe in peace, and the only road leading to peace, I believe, is carved of compassion, empathy, caring and love. And that’s what I’m choosing to do– to be– to want in the people I spend time with– and in the people I love.

Pick your emotions carefully. Be who you choose to be.

Picture of card with saying: “I believe we are always attracted to what we need most, an instinct leading us toward the persons who are open to new vistas in our lives and fill them with new knowledge.” -Helene Iswolsky. Second is photo of my grandmother and me, Atlantic City Boardwalk, eons ago.

“The greatest challenge of the day is: how to bring about a revolution of the heart. A revolution that must start with each one of us.” Quote by Dorothy Day. nate's heart

If you are unfamiliar with the show “On being” you can find it online at OnBeing.org. On their blog the executive editor, Trent Gilliss imparts an important message for him; live “your love out loud even when it seems you have nothing to offer.” The show which aired May 28th this year is about Jean Vanier and called The Wisdom of Tenderness. Why am I telling you this?

I speak here often about living with a person with significant disabilities. One who is happy, melancholy, satisfied with his life in a moment, and also dissatisfied with his life in a moment. He wants more from life, and as much as I’ve put into creating and making this a reality, the walls I’ve encountered have been high and wide, daunting and discouraging. One learns to get up, dust oneself off, and try again. It is tiring though. IMG_0011

What ever happened to compassion for folks who need more help in their lives? I feel estranged sometimes from many fellow human beings who make little effort to understand our lives- my son’s and mine, and our forging ahead to create meaning and substance, liveliness and love in our lives, not necessarily with each other, but for each of us. For my son who wants to live in community, instead of with his mother. And for myself. I want to cease fighting for recognition of the right to fair and humane treatment of my son and others with disabilities, because others have recognized their worth. I want to have time to create my art, laugh with my friends, grow my own spirit and soul as aging puts an imprint on me that is indelible.

Here’s a small bit of my friend, Peggy’s story. I met her 4 years ago; 2 moms, each with a son with Down syndrome, finding each other in a health food store. How could it NOT happen? Peggy’s daughter died in a car accident about 12 years ago, leaving 3 boys without a mother. Two years later fate left them without their father, due to another traffic accident. So Peggy and Joe took in their 3 grandsons and raised them. The youngest is now almost 18.
Despite Peggy’s deep and lasting grief at the death of her daughter, she continued to support, guide and nurture her son Bob. And she has stuck like glue to me, through thick and thin. In retirement from a 40 year career with the symphony, playing cello, she can no longer grasp strings or bow due to severe arthritis. Yet her voice lifts when she sees my number on her phone screen, as does my heart. We share the qualities of steadfastness and empathy.
Nato’s recent clinic visit brought me into contact with a “professional” I took in dislike. Why? In my opinion she judged my son, his ability, his disabilities, his needs, his wants, and his security. It also seemed like she judged me too. {And found me wanting?!}
So I wondered aloud to Peggy on the phone last night; what happened to civility and positivity? Why can’t we say; gee that’s a great idea and have you considered this one, with which I’ve had some success? Or how about this? You’re doing a great job [at work] yet could we promote this product  a bit more? Somehow we feel less intimidated and more part of a team when suggestions rather than criticisms are spoken. I’ve decided I’m going to try to pause before I speak, and listen to what I say and how I say it in the next few days. Change is possible, if only we’re aware. Notice my use of “we” when I mean me? 🙂

For Peggy and all of you out there. Here’s a young woman with a very lovely voice, and a cellist who keeps his bow in his back pocket when not in use, which gives my Nato the giggles!


P.S. The previous post generated LOTS of spam, including from many “dating” sites. Canned ham indeed! **The knitting shown here is part of a special gift for Peggy in honor of her daughter. I chose shades of pink and white for — the spiritual softness of the look.