Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Forgiveness

Several months ago I did a very, very bad thing. It was more than bad. It was cruel and unconscious and deeply unkind. Like the bitter flavor that sits on your tongue after eating a bad walnut, it's the kind of bad thing that lingers.

In a catty, rushed email, I inadvertently cc'd someone when I meant to just copy and paste their address. Long story short, I said some things that were jugemental and obnoxious and hurtful in an email to another friend, inadvertently ccing the person who's email address I only intended to copy and paste. The victim of my nastiness confronted me immediately. I owned my actions whole-heartedly and apologized profusely via voicemail and email. But there was never really closure. I had hurt someone with my words and I drifted in and out of that shame limbo for months.

Fast forward seven months-- to today. This morning as I mounted my bike after dropping my car at the mechanic, I heard someone calling my name. When I looked behind me, I saw the person calling me was the woman with whom I'd created this terrible email foible.

"I've been thinking about you," she said.

"I've thought about you so many times," I replied. "I am so so sorry for being such an asshole."

She looked at me straight in the eye and said, "I forgive you. You should forgive yourself. You're a good person Laura."

We discussed getting together to talk more about the experience we'd shared and then we parted ways. We said goodbye, but with the expectation that we'd see each other again. We left it that I'd reach out to her next if I wanted to continue the conversation.

I got on my bike and rode towards Capitol Hill. I felt like my heart and my stomach were both in my throat. Having seen this person in the flesh after all these months had left me with a lurching, nauseated feeling, but the gift of forgiveness she offered pumped my heart so full, I can barely remember pedaling the three miles to the studio.

It was a gift, her forgiveness, an unprecedented offering that I am not sure I deserve. I don't use this word lightly. I rarely use it at all, but I consider her act a blessing. The lessons I learned from the initial unkind acts I engaged in with my bloopered email were profound. The shame I carried and the hurt I caused another person shone a light on places where I want and need to be a kinder, more conscious person. Like most people, I've had different incarnations of these shame-filled lessons throughout my life and I am sure I'll have others.

But the lesson that came from being forgiven this morning is a much rarer one. Today I was the recipient of true open-heartedness. It's not everywhere, this kind of bold, generous gesture. I recognized it's specialness and I could feel it in my body like a blood transfusion.  A blessing, a gift, an offering, an act of grace. I am forever humbled, eternally grateful.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Did you ever wear rainbow jammies?

Writer's block is a real thing. It manifests in different ways for different people. For me, I periodically get stuck with the feeling that I don't have anything new to say so I should just keep quiet. But writing for me is a therapy, an indulgence, a place where I can feel my clear channel showing up, so I am glad that my writer's block always goes away.
Usually a life event, a conversation or experience sparks me to write. It's to the point where, after a big talk or long walk, my 12-year-old daughter Lucia will say, "Mom, are you going to write about that?" This morning when I woke up, I was thinking about my weekend visitors. My cousin Kirsten and two of her friends came up to Seattle from Salem to see the U2 concert. My partner Nancy, Lucia and I babysat Kirsten's three-year-old daughter Emily for the night.

During dinner, Emily, Lucia, Nancy and I were talking about fairies when Emily let us know that her favorite color was rainbow. Then, in a very earnest, serious way, she told us that when she was in her mommy's belly, she wore rainbow jammies. There is no way to possibly recreate the tone, the face, the rounded vowels, the overall image that came with little Emily's rainbow monologue.

"When I was in my mommy's belly I was wearing rainbow jammies," created a moment for all of us-- of pure joy, inspiration, and connection. The evening evolved into more fairy conversation. We shared with Emily that she was really lucky because the Rainbow Fairy actually lives in Seattle. The spoon she ate her ice cream with became a special fairy spoon. Emily and Lucia made Rainbow Fairy dolls. We made her a Rainbow Fairy card that welcomed her to the Fairy world and left it as a surprise on her suitcase for the morning. 

Thinking about Emily thinking about the rainbow jammies she wore in her mommy's belly is not a radical concept. It is a radical moment. A moment where all the other issues, problems, crisis in the world come to a full stop and for a blip in time, fantasy becomes the fabric that connects us. It's still in my head, that perfect moment, "When I was in my mommy's belly I was wearing rainbow jammies." It makes me smile and my heart beats a little bit faster from the internal laughter.  I can see the faces of Nancy and Lucia, the glow of delight as Emily looked to each one of them to make sure they heard her.  I'm so happy that I woke up with images from Rainbow Fairy night. This feeling is a necessary respite from reality. Today I will be a mom, go to work, attend a fundraiser and a soccer parents team meeting. I have no idea what other surprises are in store for my day, but whatever comes, I'm grateful it's starting like this. Thank you Emily.


Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Hurry where?



When the winter starts to bloom into spring, when the first warm days become clear and certain, I feel the invitation to revisit how I'm living my life. The longer days and sun on my skin remind me to slow down and notice things about my daily way of being that I want to shed, at least temporarily. 

I am lucky to live near Lake Washington. The lake is stunning in all seasons, but it becomes alive and inviting in wholly new ways when the sun comes out and the spring blooms burst. The scenery goes from monotone to technicolor for all of the senses and I feel drawn to its shore more than ever.

Last night I went for a walk at dusk. I put on my favorite podcast, On Being and listened to an interview with Marie Howe, the Poet Laureate of New York. As I got to the bottom of my hill in sight of the lake, I was struck by the intense beauty of a single tree. I've walked by that tree hundreds of times, but last night the tree was uniquely hugged by blue sky and emotional clouds, sunlight painting the leaves a shimmery silver. I rarely take photos of nature, but I stopped short and took a picture of that magnificent tree. I continued my walk south along the lake and towards the middle of the interview, Marie Howe read her poem Hurry. I remember the moment I heard it because I was just coming to the roundabout in Seward Park and everything in the center garden was in full bloom. I was walking fast as I always do and I stopped in my tracks. Where am I hurrying? 

Hurry. Hurry. Hurry. The range of ways I bring that word into my life every day with my own family-- "come on"; "let's go" ;"last five minutes"; "two more minutes"; "there's no more time"; "we're out of time"; "you lost your chance"; "time to go"; "we're going to be late";"hurry up!"

In my pause at the park, listening to the poem, I felt a moment of sadness for all of that hurrying. 

    And just like everything, I am reminded that this too is a practice, the not hurrying. Hurrying, imposing my hurrying on others is a thing I wish to shed, a change I'd like to make for myself and for my family, even just temporarily.
    
    The lake is a good reminder. There is profound beauty there, infinite reminders of what is visible when we are not hurrying.