Shades of Love

Share
Send to Kindle

During some of the darkest times of my life, I am so grateful that I understood that often the only light to be found would be in the eyes of people around me.  Whenever things were at an all time low, I knew that light could still come in, in brief flickers, to keep the dark at bay.  Virginia Woolf (who certainly knew a thing or two about darkness in life) wrote, “…there were little daily miracles, illuminations, matches struck unexpectedly in the dark…” and that is exactly how love has come to me over the years.  In short, often small, but usually Shades of Lovebrilliantly bright bursts – enough to help me not completely lose my way.

Not long ago, some ladies who love me wanted to celebrate what I’ve come to call The Day the Shadows Went Away and when questioned about gifts to commemorate the happy occasion, I requested the following:

Help me decorate an objet d’art for the reading space in my home: a lampshade that will reflect the love and light I have received (and know I will continue to receive), during the darkest of times, from my wonderful friends.  I’m asking that guests bring a brooch or pin of their choice (either from their own jewelry box, antiques store or… ?) and accompany it with a short description (even a sentence will do) or tale of why it is being given.  It could be that it serves as a reminder of time spent together, or a wish to be made or a meaningful quote from the mind of another.  These pins will ultimately be collected to live on a lamp shade that will set beside one of the coziest of spots in my house.  It will be a place of rest and retreat, a corner of light and love, reflecting the jewels that make up my circle of friends and loved ones.

Boxes and bags arrived with an array of pins and brooches.  There were cats in clown suits, pink flamingos, glorious 1920’s vintage paste brooches, floral spray pins – they ran the gamut.  Truly everything from quirky to elegant and they all came wrapped in love and affection from women I admire and look up to.

While the pins were beautiful, whimsical and wonderful, I have to say that they came second in the line-up of the delicious words that accompanied them.  There were notes that spoke of: time spent together making memories; poems dedicated to all things autumn; passion for life, art and family; diamonds and rubies and their true worth; the history of a family tree; the gift of beautiful music; baskets full of good wishes; and marvelous things that sparkle and shine.  Their words brought a smile to my lips, tears to my eyes and an expansion that my heart did not know possible.

Now, when I am tucked into my reading chair, the one with the odd carving of a face I’m still not sure ‘tis friend or foe (which is another story, over a different cup of tea) – I am bathed in the light of those I love, who love me in return.  If ever I can give back to the women who kept my path illuminated, I know that Edith Wharton expressed best how I can do so:  “There are two ways of spreading light; to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.”  My friends are the true source of light and love, my job is just to mirror their example.  However, sometimes I see the true artistic beauty of our friendship as something in the art world called chiaroscuro, ( from Italian: chiaro, “light”; scuro, “dark”) a technique to represent light and shadow, as beautifully crafted by artists such as Leonardo da Vinci, in such paintings as his “Adoration of the Magi.”  Friendship rises and falls as we each enter into our own periods of light (graduations, engagements, new jobs or relationships) and dark (parental illness, financial woes, relationship discord), yet wWe bounce light and dark off of one another and it is a thing of great and exquisite beauty.

Over the years, my friends have served to remind me that no matter how heavy and dark the world can get, there is still a radiance and tremendous lightness to our being that can bring us back to the top of our true shining form.  My little art project, my Shade of Light and Love serves to constantly remind me of a line from J.K. Rowling, “We’ve all both light and dark inside us.  What matters is the part we choose to act on.  That’s who we really are.”  I am reminded that no matter the darkness that surrounds us, if we look, there is light.  There is always going to be the tiniest amount of light, a light that can brighten a room, our spirit and our mood.  That light is the love that bounces between us, if we’ll only let it in.

xo – t.

There is not enough darkness in all the world to put out the light of even one small candle.” – Robert Alden

I will love the light for it shows me the way, yet I will endure the darkness because it shows me the stars.” – Og Mandino

Love is not consolation. It is light.” – Friedrich Nietzsche

Smokey, the Bear.

Share
Send to Kindle

Some overheard conversations are better than others in my household.  They’re made just a little more delicious when my daughter is home from college, her boyfriend stops by to help to cook dinner and they’re left to entertain my son who has autism — and what the doctors have labeled a language processing disorder (where he actually puts words in a better order than they were originally intended, in my opinion).

Smokey the Bear

Smokey the Bear

Allow me to share what was served up this evening:

My son, who was quietly humming to himself over in the window seat, was questioned by my girl –

GIRL

Hey, buddy.  What are you humming over there?

BOY

The jingle for Smokey the Hibernating Bear.  I remember hearing it on the radio when I was a kid.   **  [Note: For the record – he’s still a kid.  In fact, to me, they all are.]

BOYFRIEND

Wha…? No-no.  I’m pretty sure you heard that incorrectly.  You see, Smokey is a fire-fighting bear, not a hibernating bear.

BOY

Uhm, no.  I remember what they sang.  It was, “Smokey… the Hibernating Bear.”

GIRL

Hahaha! That is NOT what they sang.  Smokey the Bear is a working bear and his whole thing is that he’s a bear who helps fights fires.

BOY

That’s true.  That’s his job, fighting fires.

GIRL

But then again, think about it.  He is telling people, “Only YOU can prevent forest fires.”  Maybe he’s depending on other people to do the work.

BOYFRIEND

You know, that would actually be pretty lame if Smokey was telling people, “Uhm, only YOU can prevent forest fires, because I’m going to be over there sleeping.”

GIRL

What if he films his public service announcements in the autumn, telling people that they can prevent fires, right before he settles down for his long-winter nap.

BOY

Ha-ha. Ha. Ha. Ha! < Said quite dryly and very clearly not amused > All I know is what I heard on the radio and I know I heard “Smokey… the Hibernating Bear.”

It is so hard to fight that kind of logic.

I have to tell you, that sometimes, it is good to be me.  Dinner and a show, nightly – brought to you by the colorful filter of autism.

xo – t.

Smokey the Bear was created in 1947 created by the Advertising Council.  He is 70 years old.  According to the Ad Council, Smokey and his message are recognized by 95% of adults and 77% of children.

Little Girl Lost

Share
Send to Kindle

Little Girl LostHer mother did not abandon her as an infant, despite the story she has told people for years.  She was not left alone, ever, come to think of it. She hasn’t really been alone since she was born, having spent time in the company of her grandmother, aunts, truckloads of friends and acquaintances and eventually her husband (despite his occasional drifting) of five decades.  Despite all of those people, she still feels utterly and completely alone and adrift.  Never mind that her two younger siblings spoke extremely fondly of their relatives for decades and decades.  She had very little to do with them over the course of their lives and little to no involvement with their immediate family members. She has nothing but disdain for their mother, and has spent a lifetime lionizing their pretty much absent father.

Little Girl Lost has what is known as “abandonment issues” and while her personal pain is palpable, she also manages to spray emotional Agent Orange wherever she goes because of it.  Psychology Today says that, “living with repeated abandonment experiences creates toxic shame.”  They also go on to describe how shame can lead a person to believe that their whole self is bad, flawed or subject to exclusion.  It also explains how people who live with that level of shame often leads people to “blame, denigrate (criticize unfairly), or make attributions about others” – in order to regain some sort of positive self-view or hide their own negative self perceptions.  Psychology Today goes so far as to say that shame can lead people to express contempt toward others.

Ahhh!  This explains so much.  I had the great misfortune to spend a number of my formative years in the company of a very formidable mentor who carried a rather large basket of abandonment issues around on a daily basis, which I did not begin to fully grasp until a considerable amount of damage had been done.  I was not abandoned – in fact, I was surrounded by amazing people everywhere I went: school; my neighborhoods; places of worship… it’s a long Contact List in my heart, of the kindness that surrounded me all the days of my life.  Still, Little Girl Lost was a towering figure who served as a maternal figure for me, too.  Sticky wicket, that.  Mother-Daughter relationships are convoluted enough.  Add in some toxic elements and everyone has to duck and cover on a regular basis.

Well then, what to do – what to do?  There is an awful lot of information out there for individuals suffering from abandonment issues, but not as much info. available to those involved with those suffering from abandonment issues.  But, what’s that they say? Half the battle is: knowing/showing up/acknowledging the problem, right?  Surely just understanding the emotions behind the problem will help:

Dr. John Grohol, PsychCentral.com founder, tells us that fear of abandonment leads adults to engage in “frantic attempts to avoid being alone.” Adults with abandonment issues may seem clingy and overreact to things that would not necessarily be scary or anxiety-provoking to others.  They may panic and assume someone wants to end a relationship if they are simply late for a social engagement, instead of having compassion for their explanation of why they were delayed.  They might issue a counter-strike, to avoid the abandonment.  Such as Little Girl Lost did, when she ended a 72 year friendship with a once beloved friend who lost track of time and did not show up for a scheduled holiday dinner.  At the time, it broke my heart when I realized what had transpired between these two women who had been pals since they were 12 years old – but I now understand the sheer terror that Little Girl Lost had experienced and how she saw what she did as completely rational and just a form of self-preservation.  Weird, though it was.

Experts agree that clear communication and healthy boundaries are vital to any healthy relationship but that they are absolutely key to having any kind of relationship if someone you love fears abandonment.  As a little girl who grew up in the shadow of Little Girl Lost, I have found myself desperately wanting to provide emotional GPS at every turn, so that we both might find common ground – but, I realize that as clear as my attempts to communicate were, she could not follow my lead… I might abandon her along the road.

What is left?  Boundaries.  I have had to set-up roadblocks to protect myself from jumping from my own posts and relationships.  I try to encourage other relationships and activities that will not include my involvement, because I finally realize that nothing I ever do will be enough to fill the Basket of Need.

It has taken me a very long time to fully realize that I cannot follow the lead of Little Girl Lost, or we will both end up on the side of an emotionally broken road.  What I can do, is continue to leave the door of communication open and if she ever finds her way there (maybe by accident), I will remind her that she always has a home here – and that she is always welcome.  [All the while, keeping a firm grip on my own address, knowing that I also hold the key to this place I call home.]

xo – t.

“Love is never lost.  If not reciprocated, it will flow back and soften and purify the heart.” – Washington Irving

Not all those who wander are lost.” – J.R. R. Tolkein

If we open a quarrel between past and present, we shall find that we have lost the future.” – Winston Churchill