Day 18: Patience~Be Gentle, Be Love

Been avoiding this module in the Be Gentle, Be Love  e-course. My definition of patience has been under construction. My definition of Patience has been expanding. Patience used to be the top attribute on my personal prayer wall, where I checked in with God and placed my order:

“DearGod,thankyouforthisday,andourfood,
andthebeachandpleasehelpmeand
givemepatienceAmen”

My natal definition of patience fit with Amanda’s opening quote, “Patience is the ability to count down before you blast off.” My translation: And not be bossy and insist on my way. I felt I achieved patience when I allowed another person to choose the movie or the restaurant or when I sat through 400 photos of a friend’s African safari and never checked my watch or my phone. I was patient.

I never equated patience with the attributes Amanda describes, “waiting peacefully…breathing peace through frustrations…Juggling the wrenches life throws at you and accept them into the rotation of your day.”

What a more purposeful and elegant approach!!!

Head Slap: Patience can extend beyond episodic concessions to another’s point of view or preference. Patience can redefine my response to change.

With the exception of motherhood, every change in my life has been abrupt, scary, and something to be battled. I remember my first period. Although my mother swore she had “told me all about it,” I absolutely could not remember the details, especially the part about this whole deal going on a monthly schedule. We lived in Newport Beach at the time. I played tennis and body surfed everyday. Menstruation was an invasion of my privacy! I argued vociferously with my mom that I was absolutely not going to be subjected to this “invasion” every month. I would accept only once a year. In probably the first case of menstrual outsourcing, those were my terms. I would not be patient with this change.

A couple of years later, my father announced that he had been abducted by aliens. I was sure of it because he and my mother were making plans, ACTUAL plans, to move to somewhere called Oklahoma. From Newport Beach to Oklahoma? Not bloody likely!

I congratulated my dad with a big smile, hug, and gave him the 1970’s version of the high-five—the shoulder dap. Then I announced that I would not be moving. No tears, or theatrics—just stating the fact that I would not move. Or be moved. I would not be patient with this change either.

Although, I lost the menstruation battle, I won the relocation battle and stayed in California after producing a rotating schedule of who I would crash with and for how long.

Others battles followed: ideals adopted, memberships activated, picket lines walked, contracts negotiated, petitions signed, funds raised, policies modified. Admittedly, some answer were “No”. Some causes/campaigns/initiative battles ended against the “white hats.” But not all.

That, I think, is the lure of impatience. Sometimes it works. Although, my family’s adopted motto of, “be the change you wish to see in the world” transitioned me away from internal focus to external quests and rewards.

But I wonder…back then, what if I had accepted Amanda’s larger definition of patience instead? What if I had been patient with my body? With my parents? With the system? With others?

“Adopt the pace of nature, her secret is patience” Emerson

What if … (deep inhale)… I had yielded to patience and flowed with patience?

Is pursuing patience a fast pass to acceptance? Would the results have been the same minus the Sound and the Fury and dissociation toward myself? (I mean, who argues about menstruation? Really?)

###

Just last week at LaGuardia airport, my daughter challenged a TSA policy. Yes. TSA. The people with the guns at the airport who aren’t really into debate and passive resistance. The people who are in charge now.

She had no patience for this particular rule. (The apple does not debate far from the tree.)

She questioned authority. She made a cogent point. There was sound. There was a little fury. She argued. I watched. She disputed. I silently focused on the word “yield” and detached, wondering if her eventual bail could be charged on Visa.

She conceded. They let us board the plane. She walked disillusioned,down the jet bridge. I followed, Sherpa-like, carrying the remnants of her broken principles.

“I guess that’s what you mean by ‘pick your battles,’” she said to me as we settled in seats 14A and 14B. She continued, “I guess I should have yielded to them, even if it still doesn’t seem right.”

(Wow! She said that very same word!)

“Well,” I offered., “While your Stalin and sheepherding analogy was inventive, I’m learning that “Yield” is not a four-letter word,” I exhaled and paused. “Neither is ‘Patience.’”

I stopped there.

If Patience is the mask, then, as the flight attendant instructed, I will have to secure mine on first before I can assist her or anyone else.

Thanks, Amanda, for another stretch!

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Day 15~Compassion~Be Gentle Be Love

compassion

The Practice of Compassion:
* I notice when someone is hurt or needs a friend.
* I feel empathy for the pain of others.
* I take the time to reach out to those who need help.
* I care for others by listening deeply.
* I refrain from judging.
* I have compassion for myself.
* Because of Grace: I treat everyone with dignity and worth
* Because of Grace: If possible, I ask if i may pray for others
* Because of Grace: I pray for others

Compassion is the absence of tunnel vision

tunnelvision

Brandon Heath sings movingly about pushing through tunnel vision in “Give Me Your Eyes”


“…give me your love for humanity” Help me avoid the tunnel vision of believing what I think and feel defines the truth.

Please read this post by Ann Voskamp: How we treat the weaker is our treating of Jesus

Day 17    Be Gentle Be Love eCourse

Items in bold from The Practice of Compassion list were found originally on the Weekly Virtues Project Reflections blog

Day 12 ~ Serenity Be Gentle Be Love

Meditations on Serenity:

Serenity does not distill down to absence of conflict. Attaining serenity often involves observing conflict by choosing not to participate. I settle for too little if I limit the power of serenity to bland beige nothingness and I perpetuate a misconception that serenity is a passive om. Serenity is an active pursuit of Whitman’s barbaric yawp, not sounded to the roofs of the world, but to the roof of our soul, which has no ceiling. It embraces a deep, lapis blue reservoir to be sought and gained, then,  guarded and encouraged. If serenity had a soundtrack, it might begin at home with “Mazzy+Star–Into+Dust” and continue with “walking+on+the+moon+sting+acustico

Last Friday, I shattered my serenity with a fear hammer. I forgot my serene sanity for awhile during my Friday Fear Freakout.  Such a waste of time, energy, words, and tears. I struggled to grab back and regain.

I needed to give myself permission to travel back to serenity.
Here is my Serenity Permission Slip, gently suggested by Amanda in Be Gentle, Be Love

serenity permission slip

P.S. (and what I was in a frenzy about never happened!)

Day 9 Tact: t=truth

“Tact is about choosing our thoughts and words carefully” ~ Amanda,
Be Gentle, Be Love

Mark Twain explained, “The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.” Raised by three generatons of Southern mothers, I had received lots of education and example on the finer virtues of tact.

“Write down all the things you could have said to them-“them” being whoever you wish it to be. Get it all out.”

Holy bok choy, Batman, did I ever! Propriety stifled, I aimed black marker at thick paper and fired furiously. I did not stop to censor or censure. Soon, really soon, the paper’s white space held sharp-lettered torrents.

“When you’re done, read it over.”

Really? Read it? Really? Aren’t I supposed to crumple up the paper and throw it over my shoulder like a dutiful, tact-filled continental soldier? Or burn it so that from the ashes a tactfully healed phoenix could rise?

“Let yourself feel the anger, the hurt, the pain. Grab some paint and pain over the words with love. Paint over the words one at a time with care and compassion.”

I approached the paper and the dark words clinically at first, amazed I knew how to even spell what tact kept unexpressed. I revisited and reexperienced, amazed that what I once pronounced “healed” still brought tears.

But what color paint should I grab? Using the same color of darkness in greater quantity to blot out dark words seemed disingenuous: a controlled burn in a life of controlled, stiff smiles framing tactful responses. And, a controlled burn still burns.

I chose pink. Pink signified the best color for care and compassion.  With as much love as I could intention, I mingled the pink paint over the black words. I whispered the word “love” painting each letter of the word “love” over the menacing words of pain. But the words stubbornly refused erasing. They remained, echoing in outline. And worse, visibly bled through, in reverse order, on the back of the paper.

What color paint covers pain?

Maybe the pain bleeding through the pink front remained unrested in me. The pain persisted through the paint. Pain and Paint: contained the same letters. Except for one tiny letter “t”

“t” for truth

(Speak the truth in love, helen.   What do you know to be true?)
Truth was, these very same words, now directed at another, I had also said to myself. Over time, the words, withheld in tactful abeyance I internalized and began to believe. Truth was, I had not been tactful to myself.

My paintbrush greeted, then nourished the page with deep green. Verdant green truth cuddled with loving, compassionate pink.  A bandage, reminiscent of stained glass, emerged as healing green truth met pink strokes of love and Spirit~ Mother dressed the wound.

Day 3 Independence Freak Flag

Still learning and loving my e-class called “Be Gentle Be Love” we were prompted to create a flag to illustrate our independence. Amanda called this our “Freak Flag”. I have many chances to see flags when I walk each day at a local college where around the perimeter flags fly representing the state or country of the students enrolled. In a freaky nod to a “one world” philosophy, “Nepal” is next to “Nevada” and “Kansas” flies next to “Korea”. The assortment keeps me on my toes to notice that each flag’s unique, special, or historic to the territory.
My Freak Flag

My Freak Flag

Here is my Freak Flag. It is “flying” in my kitchen, the place where I spend a ton of time.My flag has a napkin with pink stripes  because it is happy and lots of flags have stripes. Using party napkins relates to my idea that many things are more productive with food and fun around.  The primary symbol is a huge tree. I love the comfort and strength of trees and there is a sugar maple in my backyard. The branches of the tree extend outward and contain nine Bible verses that helped me grow and sustain me. Amanda wrote about helping patients to gain their independence. “We wanted them to value their independence & not fall into the venomous mindset that they were a victim of circumstance,” she recalled and these verses have done this for me too.

The closest verses represent those I learned in childhood, extending outward to the edges, where I am today and the verses I use as mantras and serenity triggers. At the trunk of the tree are Irish clovers for my heritage and tennis balls, my favorite sport to play. There is a spot for my motto and many flags have mottos emblazoned on them. But this is still blank on my flag because I am still in transition.

Lots of possibilities for a motto for my flag. Any suggestions?
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