Monday, February 9, 2015

I am Light

Have you considered my pine trees? The first sign of deadening winter, the cold saps the color from green, trees at first blazing yellow, red and purple, in it's last defiance soon fall dead on cold winter's floor. Standing tall, still regal and full with pines, just as alive and devoted to the earth, grounding and digging deeper into the hardened soil. Standing guard as a beacon of summers past and future spring, holding a light to the hope of winters break.

Have you considered my snow? Storehouses filled with marshmallow sweetness, sparkling in the sun, glitter sprinkled on us, paving the streets with quietness, a muffled calm. Each snowflake unique to itself, God's creativity imprinted in each crystallized star, falling with treasure hidden in plain sight. Come closer to me and see, I will show you variance limitlessly beautiful and unbound. Clumped together, a blanket like a big fluffy comforter in a bed of winter, warming up the air and covering the earth like insulation for critters hiding from the bleak. 

Have you considered my stars? In cover of night, dimming down the earth of its details and description, hiding a blemished world, a tiny holes are punched through the sheet of black to shine in the light. Rather, a blazing jewel, swirling with active and hot gas, bursting with energy, magic and fire, it's God's eyes on us. "Look, into my eyes child when the night is chilled with darkness and you cannot see. You don't need to see anything else but my eyes." I say, "While everything falls to blurry confusion, a blinding rouse, cajoling your heart to see this and that, leading you by it's sticky fingers, leaving smudges on your wrists, don't take your eyes off mine." 

Have you considered my angels? On a manic Monday, speaking to you sweetly, "watching you, you are like art" and calling you Princess, a child of the King. Playing you songs of encouragement and hope, "you'll be okay," "I am light." Bringing you down to the floor, freeing you to move, in your body and in your heart, forgetting just for a little while, what you left at the door. Thoughts of love and prayers like incense, intended for Him, but warm amber smells fills your lungs as a bystander. 

They are my instruments of love, don't fall into despair. 

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Mother to One

I had a long time girlfriend sleep over last night because she thought I would be lonely all by myself without H out of town Monday through Friday. I think she knew how it feels to be with that one child all week long. She is also a mommy to a boy, her only child, who seeks out the only other living human being in the house constantly like my little one does. She tells me she had an emotional conversation with her 5 year old about not having siblings like all of his cousins and friends. I fear one day that J will melt into tears asking for siblings, because he is a social bird and he is already asking for a little brother to play with or a little sister to adore. She gave me reassurance I never had with other moms of multiple kids and I do hold a little bit of resentment when they say things like, "Sus, it must be so nice to have one child, you don't know how hard it is to have more than one." or "you can't say such and such things because you only have one," because at the end of the day, we've also cooked three home cooked meals, changed him a million times, taken him to school, the park, a play date, Lego land, the zoo, and more often than not, moms with only children plan more things outside of the house and events more elaborate to make up for lack of company. Even when your children are not the same playing age, there's something about a full house of people that gives a settled feeling of company and fullness.

I understand the physical and mental hardship of having a multitude and it feels like a multitude when you're outnumbered by your own kids at home, but I don't think it's any easier to have one, we just have different hardships. I have other concerns and difficulties as I maneuver through each day, trying to schedule each minute attempting to find balance between engaging with my child, taking a breather from the constant interaction (mostly communicating through cars, and his stuffed "friends) and getting out to have interaction outside of just the two of us. When you have one child, you are the target to 14 hours of chatter, demands and negotiations, you don't have a split second of contentment when your children are interacting with siblings, whether they are playing nicely or fighting with one another, it's the reprieve that is bestowed that enters you into a mini-retreat of mindless sanctuary. Then those times come when your only child is too quiet and leaves you alone, you worry that they're lonely, that they're too quiet, too alone, why isn't that child chatting in your ear about playing cars or solving a Pete The Cat floor puzzle with him.

After a certain point, you can herd your children in masses and they become independent enough to play on their own, with one another, the older children will learn to take care of the little ones. With only children, he will always be alone, and to have any peer interaction they will have to go out side of the house to find someone they will find consistency, trustworthiness, loyalty in their friends. I realize there are siblings that grow up always in contention and they grow apart as adults, but there are greater chances in a healthy home to grow up in a home full of people who will love you unconditionally in the safety of family bond that can never be broken. He will always be your brother, she will always be your sister. At the end of our conversation, I felt a little softened in my anxiety of having my little monkey, who publicly conducts himself as a perfect English gentleman and makes a liar out of me, because there was some validation in the feelings I had about having one child. That someone else understood, I don't leisurely cook full and satisfying meals because he is contently playing quietly in his room, that we sit at home with glorious silence and tidy homes because, let's face it, how much mess can one child make? That taking care of one child some how cuts down on all the activity or responsibility that comes with raising a child, logistically and by quantity yes, but not by a whole heck of a lot.

You as a mom go a little nutty, having interactions like this:

opening my eyes in the morning , every morning, I see J standing there with an arm full of stuffed animals. His bunny, elephant, doggy and Curious George.

J: mom do you wanna play with my friends
M: buddy...can you give me time to wake up?
J: you don't like my friends?
M: its not that I don't like your friends, they're really YOUR friends and I just met them through you, we never really play on our're our mutual friend and so, it's not that I don't like them, we just don't have much in common
J: (looking confused)
M: never mind...come here...I'll play with you.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

What Is Your Highest Aim?

 A lot of my friends have been asking me about my Yoga Training program and I think part of their curiosity is "what do you do 16 hours a week in those classes? Yoga??!" Yes, Yoga, but also there's a lot of reading, a lot of lectures, anatomy, physiology, history, postures, philosophy and Sanskrit. Then there's homework on top of that, writing essays like this, because we yogi's aim to be enlightened. :)

I thought a lot about this question and reviewed my days and years like a flip book looking for a common theme running through the chapters. It was quite clear what my greatest angst had been and has been even in the last few days, is people…my relationship to people. I say my angst, because what I struggle with the most must be the all-consuming and highest aim of my life right? Why would I struggle, fight for and bite-my-nails worry when I day dream in the car while driving my little boy to and fro during the day? My greatest aim, to boil down to its simplicity is to love and to be loved – perfectly to my irrational standards. Relationship, to me, is the common conflict I have at all times. I have great stamina when it comes to physical pain, and a lot of times, I don’t feel as good as the clean life I live, but somehow I plow through my days without complaining too much about my stiffness and fatigue.  I have great patience through circumstantial conflicts of moving, losing, struggling through tight schedules, work pressures and even tragic loss. I think I can withstand all of these things much better than if I had relationship strife with anyone I love or think highly of.

I am, what some therapists call, a “vacillator” and I normally don’t fashion my life around what the Meier's-Briggs says or even those Facebook quizzes (which I love and am addicted to), but it explains why I am the kind of person that wants to find that particular person and consume their soul (scary?). A vacillator loves and wants connection. They idealize new relationships in hope of satisfying their longing for love and attention. The ‘chase’ is the most exciting phase of the relationship since intimacy is not yet realized but is just around the corner and we haven’t been wounded yet. We are called vacillators because we are hurt when our high expectations are not met, and we push people away and then want them back, because ultimately, we just want you…and your soul.  We are hyper-attuned to signs of connection and abandonment and are sensitive to emotional temperature of the people around them, and learn to adjust our behavior accordingly, being constantly “others focused,” we grow up with poor self-reflection skills. My mood, needs and behavior is rarely been the center of attention.

I needed to explain that because I know I have this dysfunctional system I rely on for making connections with other people. I have written about love more than I can count; blog entries, letters, term papers, twitter tweets, I couldn’t get myself to stop thinking about love and what it looks like to really live it out. Then realizing, to really love someone or something and acting upon that love, is more difficult than I really thought. It scared me to think about all the sacrifices, all the vulnerable postures and humility I needed to extend and I finally gave up somewhere along the way and I don’t know when or where I lost the desire to love people.

My highest aim is to know the balance between loving people the way God shows us to. There were times when I asked myself how that would even be possible because he’s God and I’m mere mortal. I am so flawed in every way and selfish to disbelief! I was paralyzed by my own lack of love that I couldn’t think of even trying, because I am also a perfectionist and If I can’t love you perfectly, I won’t love you at all. I want to love people without the deep desire to receive the same kind of deepness back, to be loved back with the same passion and commitment, no matter who you are. I also want to be able to remain and maintain my personhood instead of melting into a puddle or crumbling apart when I have the slightest doubt that you don’t want me as much as I want you. I mean…what about all of the plans I made for us? I want to be able to draw and drink deeply from the love of Jesus Christ and know that that is enough for me, because his love has been poured out for me once and every day since without ceasing. From that deep understanding, I aim to love others the way I know how, and let that be enough and let that be the end; “today, I loved someone by hearing their story,” and may it not be followed by, “but nobody asked me about my stories.” I say this, but I do struggle with being private, the kind of private that holds back only until you ask. Then I’m completely honest. I am to be vulnerable and a great part of vulnerability is humility, because in my pride, I refuse to let you in until you ask or try first.

I also want to understand (not just In my mind, when I’m being completely logical) that every day encounter with people, doing every day mundane things is “living life” together. That is friendship. It doesn’t have to come to displaying every emotion you are able to have as a human being, constantly peering into the deep (and dark) end of their soul on a daily basis, to have a coalition you champion together to restore justice and peace back into the world and nor does it mean, every person I meet needs to be “my person” that I would call to drag a body out to the river. The people who are consistently by your side through things like, kids’ birthdays, summer BBQs, random hang outs at the park or a coffee house, to swim at a hotel pool, celebrating holidays we don’t really care about just to have a beer, first day of preschool for Jude, birthday dinner for Hans, and coffee after yoga is just the kinds of things you remember with a smile when you scroll through your old Facebook pictures on a nostalgic night.

Besides all of the internal battle that needs to come to “cease fire,” and declare peace internally, when I picture my dream “grown-up” life in head, I see this very healthy family, without too much indulgence, lacking or strife, living each day happily and with great contentment. Knowing that this is it. The day I am going about today is the life I’ve been dreaming about. To have a modest but clean home, with healthy yummy food cooking at all times, visitors, friends, family, strays, and the needy in and out of our open home. I picture a lush veggie garden, a good solid community, a good marriage, more children and a dog.  I want to be learning something, I want to be part of a Justice mission, I want to care for people, I want to be writing and consumed with something that's just mine. That’s it….a simple life loving God and his people. 

Monday, September 8, 2014

After the Ice Melts

I want to talk about the ALS Ice bucket Challenge debacle, and the fact that there isn't a debacle, or scandal, but just a whole lot of haters being haters. I had no idea what the ALS ice bucket challenge was even when I was watching Jimmy Fallon and The Roots take the challenge on National television (because I get all my up-to-date news from either Jimmy Fallon or Facebook, or Jimmy Fallon ON Facebook). It didn't occur to me until I opened up my Facebook and my feed was inundated with Ice bucket video posts, which I felt super annoyed by. Seriously? Your 5th grade son, who is challenging everyone on his soccer team is going to do some research on what ALS is and how he can raise funds to further ALS prevention and remedy? I felt the fad was making a mockery of ALS and people were starting to forget what it was for, or maybe they didn't even care in the first place. They just wanted to be selected and post themselves on Youtube and Facebook to show that you care about something outside of yourself. Knowing someone close to us pass on from ALS, and watching them deteriorate from a strong, tall, handsome man to someone that couldn't even swallow his own spit on his own the last few times I saw him, I was getting a little sensitive about what this was all turning into.

Just when I was about to make some comment about the mass drones that have no clue what they're really advocating, and how they don't really even care about what ALS does to a person, I was nominated by a good friend. I felt dread come over me, but I mulled the thought in my head for a while, "should I do it or should I not?" I had contemplated ice or not to ice, mostly because I didn't want to flake on my girl. Before I did any research on what kinds of associations and research foundations were available for championing, I googled "How do family members of ALS victims feel about the Ice bucket challenge?" There were several articles on what they thought of this and I changed my mind about the ice bucket challenge. Several family members expressed how elated they were that finally, ALS is finding it's way into the mainstream spot light for recognition and awareness. For years, victims of ALS would give news to their friends that they are progressing in their disease and their friends would just tilt their head and give a half-hearted "sorry..." Like he will have to cope somehow or that he will recover in some way, but no one knew the extent of suffering they would have to endure. No one knew that they are literally buried alive in their failing bodies and are trapped without being able to express their feelings, while their minds are fully functioning. People are finally feeling recognize, not feeling a lone, and understood for the first time because of the silliness. There are some who say pouring a bucket of water on one's head doesn't cure anyone or raise funds, but it does more than that. It gives recognition, understanding, shedding light to something that was pretty much unknown before all the icey water began to flow. There's more to it than just money, support comes in awareness and actually seeing someone, it's easy to write checks and throw money at something and not fully engage.

The next day, I began thinking about what I would say on my video and who I would challenge. I wanted to nominate people who would actually do some research and look into what the ALS challenge was trying to accomplish. I purchased a small bag of ice from a Seven-Eleven on the way back from the gym and texted my friend D.C. if he would dump the water while his wife recorded my challenge. He was too happy to oblige. Then it began, and maybe I just noticed more because I had been part of the mass drenching for ALS, but articles about how Pro-Lifers, aka Christians shouldn't accept the ice bucket challenge because the funds funnel into stem cell research and it's just as if we are to support planned parenthood who are pro-choice. I realize that I was hating on the Ice-bucket challenge because I was afraid it was turning into some meaningless fad, while there was something really serious happening to some of our friends, but I am especially prone to irritation when Christians, in the name of God put down and boycott things they don't even know about. I doubt some of these people even know what stem-cell is, and that it's not all bad in it's entirety. It's embryonic stem-cell that reaches into the abortion bin and not adult stem-cell research, which is voluntary and consenting by the donor.

Then there are these stupid Californians who say the ALS Bucket Challenge in wasting water. No, really, you're wasting water. If you have drought because you're region of the country hasn't had real rain in two years, then you don't waste water, you donate. No one is making you pour a gallon of ice water on yourself, except for the pressure you feel from your celebrity friends and neighbors. Take responsibility for how you will respond to an issue, don't follow the masses and blame ALS for your water shortage. Damn, I hate Californians...anyways...At the end of the day, we can't just look at something so closely that we are forgetting the bigger, beautiful picture of what the community is trying to accomplish for one's brother, but we also can't turn a blind eye to the things we don't fully understand. We need to see the truth of what's really happening and champion what is good, and avoid what we don't believe in, eyes wide open. Then you make your choice to ice or not ice, but have your reason for it and defend it.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

If you're a penguin, I'm a penguin

It's a little later than I like, because it's not good to stay up later than past oh...about 10:30 max because "they" say your cortisol levels rise if you don't get a good nights sleep. I'm not sure my cortisol levels are appeased merely because I've had a good nights sleep, although it curbs my crabbiness the next day. It's helpful for everyone who see me on a daily basis if I'm well slept and well fed and even for me, I'm less critical of myself and less doubtful. All this to say, I'm up writing because I don't want this moment to pass, this moment of feeling supremely lovely and grounded because a little boy, who is supremely lovely himself, wants me more than anyone on earth right now.  I've been at a wedding this evening and for a while, Jude was able to say, "mom, I'll go to hami's (grandma's) house and I'm not gonna cry. I'll see you tomorrow." I was proud of him, but a little sad that he wasn't at all fazed that I had left him for the night and I missed him more than he missed me. It starts here, I thought, where I'm waiting for his call, and when he finally calls me, I say "call your mother more often." He then sighs and says, "okay mom, but I gotta go now, I'm at work." I dread that conversation.

I got a text at 10:01 pm from my mom saying, "Jude is crying for you and he won't go to sleep. He says he can't sleep without you. Can you call him and tell him it's okay?" We had planned to keep him at my mom's house for the night so we can dance, drink, get some greasy food at the end of the night and in the morning, we can leisurely wake up parched and with a mild headache, and make our way to pick up our precious boy with coffee in tow. I wasn't at all annoyed or put out by the text, because when I called and heard my little boy's voice on the end of the phone, he sounded so little and so far away, I couldn't get to my mom's fast enough. At that moment, no one else loved me more and wanted me more than Jude, and perhaps, no has ever loved or wanted me that way ever. I raced to him because I'm a little selfish and I wanted to see him run with glowing face, and his feet as fast as it can carry him into my arms. It was just as I imagined...and as soon as he got into the car, he had fallen fast asleep because he felt safe, whole and right where he's suppose to be. I felt happy about that...that he has someone to run to, a place where he feels safe, his place of comfort and that it's with me.

I think he felt a little guilty that he wasn't brave enough to last the night and into the morning without me, because he asked me from the back seat of our car, "mommy, are you happy?" He asks me this when he suspects he's in trouble or if I seem a little grumpy. I say, "yes, baby cakes, I'm so happy to see you," and before he fell fast asleep he says, "me too." I know he's just a baby and most of his love and want for me is his need for a mother, like every child, but moments like this, in the silence that follow the words, "me too," I am certain that he was made for me and I was made for him.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Kind Campaign...near you

Molly Thompson and Lauren Paul (also known as Aaron Paul, also known as Jesse from Breaking Bad's wife) are two girls from Pepperdine University in California who found girl-on-girl-hate crime to be a problem, and they are doing something about it. They've launched an internationally recognized and locally acclaimed campaigned called Kind Campaign, creating a documentary on the issue and touring the nation, stopping at various high schools to show their girls their film. I appreciate Lauren for having first hand experience of girls suddenly turning on her during the very vulnerable years of junior high, and I appreciate Molly because she has a burning heart for the issue even thought she hasn't had first hand experience. I think every girl knows...girls from age 6 to age 66 (I assume after 66, no one would or should have the energy to be unkind to another woman for no good reason but plain old grumpiness of old age), what it's like to have girls turn on you for little to no reason at all. It may not be as violent as some of the stories we see on the news or even quiet stories that are told through this campaign, but we all experience some kind of girl-on-girl-hate in milder forms.

I understand this very well, even as a woman of age 36, there are surmounting insecurities from girls you are just getting to know, and you don't feel like she's digging you as much as you are her. Girls who assume certain lied about me and believe them all because they're just don't give a damn to ask if they're true. Girls who will compete with you for anything there is to squabble over, clothes, positions, friendships, attention, there is still jealousy, envy, disgust, judgement and competition even at my ripe old age. Which makes me kind of sad and amazed at the realization girls carry their wounds for a long time without healing and they grow old with it, and I am amazed at women like my mother who have not the care of the world to even worry about the upper hand, pride, and all sorts of other non-sense that make girls...well...bitchy. When I see my mother, she is literally kind to anyone she talks to and communes with, anyone is lucky to be in her company because she is selfless to love. She relinquishes all power and winning game chip so that there is peace, so you will feel loved, so she can be kind. 

I understand this very well, because I don't know how to be kind sometimes when all I have given and all that is vulnerable is exposed and it's...scary. I often resort to bring out my bitch to protect what I thought was safe to show, what I thought was okay to share. I am too afraid to relinquish the upper hand over people because I've been hate crimed too and it's enough to make me learn a lesson about how you can't really trust girls especially because they eventually turn their bitch on you too. It's far more courageous to be the kind girl, showing respect when someone is acting like a fool, showing love when you are shown hate, showing vulnerability when you're not quite sure what they will do with it, showing grace when they are hardened by hate-crimes shown by others, healing wounds others have caused. Isn't that what I want too? Isn't that a basic human desire? To be shown respect, love, and vulnerability? It's easy to blind to the small ways we are dehumanizing other women by our hardened hearts and doubtful thoughts and motives driven by fear. Every day, I set out on social interactions with other women with heart guarded, then slowly cajoled open, testing each person with high suspicion, always assuming they will hurt me, if not today, someday. 

How can I be myself and let others be free to be themselves when I am always cautious of becoming a victim? All the times I wrote about love, I have been wrong about it. All the times I thought I was being loving, I wasn't. I am learning more about love these few years of struggle and I think I finally see the blurry outline of what it's suppose to be and it's not pink, or fields of grass and beachy sand. It's more like tears, strength, courage, and loyalty...something like that, I'm not sure yet. But today, I want to resolve to be kind and like love, it's harder than I ever thought.

Fambam Finally.

This past Saturday was my dad's birthday, and instead of our regular dinner time celebration, we decided to switch things a bit and have breakfast instead. My parents, H, Jude and I had gotten there first, and there was a quiet chatter between us before my brother and HJ got to the table from the city. When they finally arrived, it felt happy and complete, there was a hum of contentment and buzz of excitement that my parents were back from New York at last. I'm not sure if we all had gone through a life changing year and we had all met at this one perfect moment, where all of the peace in our lives had collided at one particular time, but we felt whole. All of us. I'm not sure when it happened, but our family had finally jelled together and I had even texted my sister in law that night, "I was so happy today with the fam bam." She felt the same thing. Then when my brother added a new profile picture of the family picture we took during the new year, I knew something was lurking in the water for us.

There was a time where our family was the contention not only for the newly engaged couple in marital counseling, but also for the people already born into it. For a stretch of time, there had been drama with the Property (with a capital P), tending to the elderly and divvying up the remaining "riches" (and I use that term loosely), and just plain quarreling between us because of outside forces. As people we really do like each other and when we get a little food and drink in us, we will act like old friends, even though we are father, mother, brother and sister.  I'm thankful for the family I have because we are so expressive one another, spanning from words of warmth, words that stab and words just plain funny. H once said that he sees so much drama between the Kong family and we are quite clear on where we stand with one another, which is why there is great intimacy. I never thought of it that way, I just thought of it the other way around, we are a tight knit family that is knit too tight that we can't help but to repel each other now and again.

It's another thing to enter into a family knit so tight, you can't get a needle in to thread a new thread to patch in a new patch. I think H felt this way when he first entered into the family, but there was a distinct moment H realized without knowing when it happened, that he was part of the too tight knitted group. After all the ebb and flow of six distinct, sinful, beautiful and live out loud people have corralled together for the last big chunk of years, we have finally settled into a peaceful state. I look back on the hardship and I truly see that my family have been there for every bit of it and I want say that I was there for them too. Thankful.