Tag Archives: acceptance

For Survivors…Some Lessons From A Garden

Lately, I have been spending more time in the evening outside with my garden…my plants, my flowers, the earth. I have a disease that is making it almost impossible right now for me to be in the sunlight.  I have been mourning parts of who I used to be, while fiercely trying to adapt…to acclimate and navigate what I may become. This is new to me and sometimes the grief is heavy.  However…there is a gift that seems to be an integral part of this painful process.  The gift is being alone with my thoughts (but not in a scary way…) I am in solitude, yet feel one with the earth…in my garden, in nature. Not in the sun…but in the quiet hours of dusk, through the stillness…through the quiet, gentle breezes…If I am able to quiet my mind and listen closely…I can sometimes hear the lessons being gently taught.

Lessons from my garden

Upon looking at a flowering bush that was all but  “dead” two springs past… The one I was being encouraged to  chop down and discard, and I ALMOST  conceded to, but did not, because…HOPE! This is what she whispered to me last night…(if you take issue with my plants metaphorically speaking to me, stop reading…like, right now…seriously… I won’t be offended. She had a lot to say! )

So She Spoke…

“Just because I “look” dead…does not mean I am dead!  Give me time. My own time. Not your time. Nor someone else’s ideas and pressures of time. Won’t you help me out a just a bit? I will have to do most of the work, (the really tough inner work)… but perhaps you can help brush away the dead leaves, the ones that are making it hard for me to grow. Might you even trim my branches? Just the ones that you know for a FACT are hurting me…for this will allow my other less fractured ones to grow even stronger. ”

Prior to this…She was hiding…resting…invisible…Branches barren and fractured, looking like there was no hope. In her own time, she became what she was supposed to.

“If it seems someone did not know how to care for me in the past or perhaps even harmed me by planting me in the wrong environment…maybe you can learn about how to help me take root in a new space. A space that might be more suited for what I need to thrive. However…once you help me move, it’s going to take me time to learn, time to learn about this new and healthier space. Perhaps… to even know I have arrived somewhere new. I beg you… Please, give me time to adjust, time for my roots to take hold…I am not used to being in conditions that are well-suited for my heath. I am not used to all of  this potential!”

“Just because It is good for me…and YOU know it’s far better…I will still need time to understand that I am really here…in a place with more favorable conditions for my survival.  In my own time, I may learn that sunlight and water and rich soil that is filled with nutrients, is in fact, better than the darkness I had  so grown so very accustomed to. I didn’t truly understand I was in the darkness, I even learned to like the darkness… don’t you see? I didn’t know my conditions were as unfavorable as they might have been…for they were all that I knew.”

“So my friend, just because YOU know it’s healthy and better….does NOT mean that I don’t deserve plenty of time to adapt and learn, on my own, HOW  and WHY it is better.  So please, PLEASE… don’t over water me just because I never had enough of it in my life. Give it to me little by little.  Don’t keep telling me how wonderful it is on this side…let me come to that on my own. Check on me from time to time, come and sit by my side every now and again.  You just might be surprised that although I may not be perfect (and who amongst us is?) and I may not always use or “appreciate” all of my resources like it seems the others do, Ya know…the ones that have always lived on this side of the garden? Even still…I will still grow. One leaf, one branch, one petal and maybe even one blossom at at time”

“And please remember this…winter will come again. The seasons will change, the ground will shift, the temperature and climate will not always be optimal for me. I will fade. I may be buried and I may even “look” lifeless. But as we know, it seems that things are just as they should be. And when that time comes again…just help me brush off the remains of  seasons past. Perhaps even honor those decaying leaves…for they protected me from the harshest of weather. Maybe, to you, they do not look pretty, but to me… those are the very things that kept me alive and warm through the storms.”

snowone

“Please don’t be discouraged by my reluctant pace or my damaged and misshapen branches or blossoms. Instead…Sit in AWE of my tenacity, my resilience, my remarkable ability to survive all I have. To have survived and still be counted amongst the living!  I am my own unique miracle. So THANK YOU…thank you friend,  for not giving up on me and for giving me the time and the space I needed to grow and to heal. It may not be how others would do it …but it is the way that seems exactly right for me.”

“I do like it here on this side of the garden and believe it or not…I am even teaching the others that were born in just the right place, a thing or two that they may need to better survive these harsh, unpredictable winters.  In return…it seems, they may be showing me a little something…like how to not be so very afraid of such an abundance of all of the things that I had always needed…but didn’t even know I had been missing.”

And That Is What She Said.

So…as you can see…we all have something to learn. Lately,  it is me being the student and nature being the teacher. And that is just fine. As long as we remain teachable and open, you really never quite know, from where the lessons will come from.

beauty

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He Is My Husband Now…We Are Gay

We all gauge the multitude of so-called successes and failures of parenting moments by different variables. We (us parents) each have a different set of lenses in which we view our children, how we may “think” they are doing. Whether we are talking in general, like their grades, behavior or  mood or  we are looking at more of the minutia. Little snapshots in time, that sort of show you something unique in your child’s development or personality. It can simply be a look, a statement, a small conversation…watching them play, when they don’t know you are looking…those tiny moments that go on, but often are a reflection of who they are “right now” and even perhaps a foreshadowing of who they may  become.

Now…I have two boys. They are both vastly different in both looks and personality alike. They are five years apart. Despite their differences, I try to raise them in quite the same manner, with the same fibers of morals and values being loosely woven through our years together.

O.K…I will cut to the chase. One is a teen and one is in second grade…I am, what one might describe as a bleeding heart liberal. A heart on my sleeve kind of girl. I am a social worker by trade and by human make-up. For as long as I can remember, I have tried to be the voice for the voiceless. The cheerleader for the underdog. The advocate for the marginalized and oppressed…YOU GET IT.  My husband, is also a mental health professional  and is a Latino male, who despite his best efforts, still carries with him what I might describe as this  “semi” machismo  perspective. He has come a long way and is also himself, incredibly liberal but let’s just say when my boys were little and I bought them baby dolls and a stroller to push them in (which they did often and around the neighborhood) …he seemed kind of was perplexed, he “sort of”  tried to discourage me from letting them… (I wasn’t having it).  I would have to say that his reaction was rooted not only in his cultural roots and norms and gender and social norms but also…rooted in FEAR. ( we all know, having a baby doll turns you gay right? )

“Not my boys…not baby dolls? They are not GIRLS!”  As the years have gone by…he has softened a lot… has a greater understanding of why I would encourage that … and as for my boys, despite my best efforts…they don’t seem to really embrace there feminine side right now, and that is o.k. It seems, at least right now, they are kind of these brutish, loud, wrestle each other to the ground primate type of kids. (which does not mean they are not sensitive emotionally) But they are rough, crazy, sports nuts who are dirty and what societal/gender stereotypes may reference as or  consider “All Boy”. Whatever… I still send the message that it is o.k to cry, to openly talk about feelings, to be sensitive and most importantly to not feel pressured to conform to social norms “just because”.

One of the other things we do together, though I watch next to no television, is watch several weekly sitcoms. One is Modern Family…think what you may about the show, but it has allowed us to crack up together, to explore a vast range of family issues and also to have on-going dialogue with my kids about homosexuality. Questions come in many forms like…”why are those guys married mom AND they have a baby?”  Just one of the questions my younger one has asked. My teen…he kind of  get’s it already and knows I am open about  whomever people love they just  love. My little one has asked questions over the past year, and more recently, he seems to “get it” a little more. (not sex…he does not know what that is yet, outside of kissing) But he knows a girl can love and marry another girl…a man can love and marry another man. That God made us all different and amazing and that is o.k.

In a world where gay, lesbian, transgender, bisexual youth have so many struggles, higher rates of clinical depression/ anxiety  and a significantly higher suicide rate, I feel it is my job as a parent to keep an open dialogue with my kids. To send the message that no matter who they are, whom they love or even if they were confused….they will always be accepted, loved and supported, at least in our home. Now, obviously my son is in second grade, so I don’t go into great detail. I just answer what he asks and try to communicate that however you are, it’s o.k and you will be loved.

It’s kind of hard to gauge how they are doing on that. My older son had a sleep-over…with a diverse group of boys. He mentioned one would be pretty late because he has dance. (now being most of his friends are on sports with him…I talked to him about this… just out of curiosity because I never met this boy…what kind of dance, how late will he be?) He answered without much thought…” he’ll be pretty late and he will be hungry…and ummm, I don’t know, he does ballet, jazz, hip-hop…yeah…he is  kind of feminine, but I don’t think he’s gay, but honestly…who really care’s anyway?” (For a seventh grade boy…to me this signals, he is getting it!)

Now, my younger son…was snuggling with his big, muscular, Latino father (otherwise known as my husband) I walked in to his room and said jokingly “Hey you…You are always snuggling with my husband…you better give him back to me !”  He glanced up at me, with wild and sleepy eyes, as my hubby lye half asleep and boldly said “HE IS MY HUSBAND NOW…WE ARE GAY!”

Let’s just say my husband was no longer asleep…He gave me the look of “You did this” but then smiled… and I thought to myself:

“YES…PARENTING WIN!!!”  (yeah…I know…I may have clarify a few things as time goes on) but he was being silly and I thought to myself…So far, So Good!