Friday, December 21, 2012

You Know, *That* Christmas Song...

We were laughing at them, my husband's sisters, the whole room was full of joy. 
One of those scenes you can replay in your head, like a movie, like it happened yesterday.  

I can still smell the kitchen.  The chilies.  The meat.  I can still feel the hard surface of the table and the chair, supporting me.  The ceiling fan and the flicker of the lights from the spinning of the blades.  The TV, loud in the other room.  The radio, a mix of holiday jingles.  The kids, screaming and playing over all of it.  

My feet were crossed.  I was nervous.  I hadn't done this before.  I didn't know what to expect.  It was one of the first holidays with my husband's family and I wanted to be good enough, I wanted to be accepted.      

I sat across from her, from Adriana.  My mother-in-law stood at the kitchen sink.  And my other sister-in-law sat next to me.  We set up the assembly line, and we had been going for a couple of hours.  Despite my nervousness, I was at ease.  I was having a lot of fun.  The room was filled with joy as we sat there, spreading the masa, filling the tamales, tying the corn husks, laughing.    

"Have you heard that song yet?  The one about the boy and buying his mama's shoes?"  Adriana asks.

"No." I shake my head.  

"Oh, we heard it on the way here, it's a terrible Christmas song." says my brother-in-law, Adriana's husband. He chuckles, and rolls his eyes.   

"It was just the little boy....and the...shoes..."  says my other sister-in-law shaking her head in agreement.    

Adriana and her sister look at one another.  And as if on cue, both begin to well up with tears.  

The room stops.  

I hear my husband, with comedic timing blessed by movies (this one thanks to Sleepless in Seattle), screaming from the couch, "and then they....and then he says....and oh my goodness"  and he fakes a good cry. 

There was a moment of complete silence, only to be followed by roaring laughter. 

It's one of my favorite memories of tamale-making-days.    

So, you can imagine my surprise as I am driving to my mom's this week, having recruited my white-girl family members, I am determined and unwavering to make homemade tamales for Christmas day, and guess what song is played on the radio, a song I've maybe only heard one other time?  


And, I bet you can guess what I did.  I cried my eyes out.  And then I laughed.  

Adriana and all of her love and acceptance is still surrounding us.  You see, my nerves that day, so long ago, at being the white girl who sat down to make tamales with my husband's family, my worries about being accepted, about our different cultures, were all put at such ease by Adriana's love, by her laugh, and by her cry.  This is the first year I have made tamales since her passing.  And as much as my heart aches at not having her here with us, I know her love, her guidance, and her laugh, are still embracing every moment.


Adriana's passing plays a pivotal role in the foundation of Embracing This Moment, you may want to read the full story.  She is a remarkable soul.   
  
Other posts that you might also want to read:  



Friday, October 19, 2012

Building the Life I Want, One Moment at a Time


The overwhelming abundance of divine grace. I always find it at the beach.

Perhaps it is the shear volume of sand, water, and air....the taste salt on your lips, the feel of gritty sand stuck between your toes, the mesmerizing crashing of the ocean waves...it is grounding, meditative, peaceful.

So long ago, I sat in the sand, reading Brene Brown's book, so lost in my life...my worries, anxieties and weaknesses, the identity I knew, the life we had, all of it changing.  I was so resistant to it.   I would not know it for a while more, but I found serenity sitting in this sand, and in this moment, I found me.

(Excerpt taken from the blog entry Beach Day, July 2011.)

I gaze, mindlessly, at the waves crashing onshore, the foggy haze of clouds and sun further behind. The sand in my toes starts to tickle.

I'm curious, if we took each grain of sand, the ones stuck on my jeans, or the ones all over my feet, how many moments I would be able to count.

Meeting my husband, our first kiss.
Oh geez,dating "what's his name."
My grandmother's death.
Giving birth.
Becoming an administrator.
Therapy.
Holding my son after a fall.
Quitting my job.
Dancing on the stage.
Nursing my toddler.

I am overwhelmed by the number of moments in my life, and I'm only on my big toe. I imagine all the moments in everyone's lives filling up the beach shores.

Wow.  
I'm surrounded by moments. How many have I been present for, living and embracing fully?
 I knew, from that moment forward, regardless of all the reasons my life did not go the way I hoped, I wanted to embrace the moment.



Embracing the moment allows for tremendous freedom.  Freedom from judgments, from shame.  I can decide who I am, who I want to be, in each moment.  My past mistakes make no difference.  My future worries are not reality.  Inherent in the moment is my self-worth, something I have been struggling with such conviction and entitlement to prove...right here, peacefully alive, shining bright as the sun, waiting for me to embrace.  

So simple.  So true.  My life, right here all along.  My own inherent goodness.  Me.  The beauty and the grace of the moment, the only place I know truth.  I found it, and I want to scream it from the mountain tops, and I want to help others find it, and know this peaceful and joyous freedom.

Don't get me wrong, there will always be moments we don't really want to embrace.  The day marking the year long loss of my sister-in-law to breast cancer, the questioning and proposed end of my relationship with my biological father, a miscarriage, the end of what seemed to be seemingly good friendships...in all of these moments, I found sadness, grief, loss, but I also found love, gratitude, and a deep respect for me, for my self worth, for doing the best I can do, and for all of those being enough, no matter what....

So I stand here, in my truth, and know I am building the life I want.  I have a business.  I am an artisan.  I am a writer.  I am a life coach.  And, I am Aubrey.  And that feels really good.







Saturday, June 23, 2012

Sorry, Oprah, I Don't Want to Do It

Recurring Dreams

Do you ever have those recurring dreams? Yeah. Me too.

I keep having a coffee shop dream.

The premise is always the same. Sitting face to face with another person and it's a casual conversation. I am explaining to her, no, actually, justifying to her, why I ended the relationship with my father. All the reasons are always the same. There is an undertone of desperation, need for approval, the deep desire to still be loved by him, to prove I am lovable to him.

I am tired of this dream. I am tired of this reality.

Oprah's Life Class Tour with Iyanla Vanzant

Coffee Delusions

In one of my sleepy mornings, I read a call for submissions in my Facebook news feed. Stories about father-daughter relationship problems. OWN.

I sipped my coffee.

Wow. Wouldn't it be validating to hear Oprah and Miss Iyanla Vanzant rip him apart? I know, that's mean, and not really the Oprah way. Okay, to simply be in the presence of Oprah? Miss Iyanla? Wouldn't it be nice to tell my truth, to tell the world how I have found myself through this journey?

I will argue it was because I hadn't yet finished my first cup of caffeine reality, but truth be told, there was little to no hesitation. I submitted the links to my blog, wrote a quick blurb and sent it off.

A few days later, I got the call...

Lisa from Harpo

Lisa: Hi Aubrey, this is Lisa from Harpo.

Me: Hi Lisa from Harpo!

This is not me,
but surely how I feel.
I couldn't think, let alone breathe. Oprah was calling me! Oprah was calling me! Oprah was calling me! I know. I know. It's not Oprah. But it is Lisa from Harpo...and she's still waiting for me to respond...

And, did I really just call her Lisa from Harpo? Oh geez.



Lisa: So we read your submission. Can you tell me a little about what's going on?

Me: I quit my job when my son was born, my father disapproved, said we were making poor financial choices, and has only communicated by email since. We have not had any contact in three years.

Lisa: Oh I see. Well, let me tell you, we are looking for a situational dynamic, one in which you would sit down with your father and discuss the problems.

Deafening silence...I can't even hear my heart pounding in my ears...is my heart still beating? Is she still wondering why I called her Lisa from Harpo? 

Me: Uh, um, Lisa, (I leave out the "from Harpo" this time), I don't know what to tell you. I can't say that he would be interested in this...I can't say that I want to sit down with him...I don't know what there is to resolve.

Lisa: Well, think about it, and if it seems like something that would work, call us back.

Me: Okay. Thank you for calling, and I will consider it.

 Sorry, Oprah, I Don't Want to Do It


Oprah reassuring me...
Or at least how I like to picture it.  
Consider it. Consider it. What is there to consider? 

Duh! National television! What was I thinking? I didn't think Lisa from Harpo would actually call me. Didn't think they would find any merit to little old me. But they did.

And actually sit across from my father? Even in the presence of Miss Iyanla and Oprah, I wouldn't feel protected enough...from the criticism...from his truth... 

No. No way. Not what I want. Not now.

 Who's Got the Power?

So, after I turned down Oprah, (long sigh) I had the coffee shop dream again.

This time, the dream ends with me screaming it, screaming loudly, all the things my father did to me, to hurt me, to criticize me, to crush my passions...all the reasons he is wrong. I scream it loud and I scream it proud. At the top of my lungs. It came with such conviction, pure rage, like nothing I have ever allowed myself to feel.

I sat that morning, sipping my coffee, feeling such vindication, such freedom from the burdens of my father's truths. His words are not my reality. Whether Oprah, Miss Iyanla, or even little old me says it...I am enough. I have the power. Those things he says about me, about my future...they are wrong...it's not the truth for me, and it never will be, because I have the power.


So, if you see some crazy white girl shaking her booty at the grocery store, as she crosses the street with her kid and her dog, or even up on stage with Miss Iyanla and Oprah, you know it's me! I've got the power!

Are you dancing now too? Are you embracing your power? Come on, sing it (and even dance it) with me! Ready, go!

It's gettin'....it's gettin'....it's gettin' kinda heavy....I've got the power! whoo..whoo......(booty shake)....I've got the power!





Other links that explain more of the story:
Do I Save It, Just In Case
Parent Free By Choice, There is No Room for Regret
Fatherly Blessings


Sources:
Photo 1: Oprah and Iyanla Lifeclass; 101doves{dot}com picture shot
Photo 2: Faces of the Last Season of Oprah; The Atlantic, Entertainment Section 09.14.2010
Photo 3: Reassuring Oprah, google images
Video courtesy of YouTube.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Fatherly Blessings


They met after I went off to college.  My mom called me to ask about dating rules.  Her nervous giggles.  I knew she had found love.  It made me nervous.  It had always just been my mom and me.  I knew this would change things.  I just never knew how...


handmade gratitude altar
He is an artist.
He is a scholar.
He is a friend.
He makes armor.
He loves my mom.
He loves my family.

He is my father. 

He is not the biological one, but the one present in my life.
He is the one that opened his home to my family when we needed it most.
He is the one that shares creative space, encouragement, and optimism with me.
He is the one whose eyes light up at the sight of my son, his grandson.
He is all the things you would expect a father to be.

He always has the time and energy to listen.
He sees me for all that I am and loves me for it.
He is my father and I know he always will be.


When we focus our energy analyzing what we don't have, when we spend our energy resisting reality, we miss the beauty that lies right in front of our eyes.  I am so very grateful for the love of my step-father, he has made my life more beautiful, more meaningful, and more special than I could have every imagined.

To trusting that we are supported by the universe, that we have all we need for our souls to be healed.

Have you ever focused so much on the larger more negative thing, only to find that you already have what you want?






Other readings, you might find useful in understanding the whole story...
The story behind my biological father...at Parent Free By Choice.
My own processing of the relationship with my bio-father...Do I Save It, Just In Case

Sunday, May 6, 2012

I Have This Moment

Note:  This is a story of loss of a pregnancy.  Exercise discretion if you are sensitive to this matter.


Sunday's Blues

I curled up under his arm.  The warmth of tears on my face are dried by that special secret spot between his shoulder and neck, that place of peace I have known for ten years.  I feel immediate comfort.  I am scared, but here, in this spot, I am safe.

My son sees us.  He runs, runs to grab his puppy dog, Six.  He climbs up onto my husband's lap.  He curls in, with his long eyelashes and sweet smiling cheeks, sits face to face with me.

My eyes fill with tears.  Here we all are, curled and cuddled in comfort and peace.  My mind, for just a few seconds, stops.  I feel the love of our family.  I feel the safety, the hope, and the faith that everything will be alright.

I have this moment.

***

Monday's Clarity

A cold draft wafts up and under the crinkly paper.  We are in the dark, waiting to see something.

My husband was rushing from work to meet us at the doctor's office, but got stuck in traffic.  So, here, I lay, with my son, and the doctor, and the machine, searching.

The air is thick with anticipation.  Anticipation of the words I don't really want to hear, but in my heart I already know.

I feel my son's soft touch.  He taps my arm.  Gently.  Softly.  As if he knows too.  As if to say, It's gonna be okay, Mommy.

Gratitude for my son's tenderness and patience is interrupted.

There is no development.  So, you are pregnant, but you're not.  

I search his face.  His soft tender eyes seem guarded behind his glasses, as if he's waiting for me to crumble. We sit in silence.

I drive home.  My son chatters in the back seat.

***

An Overwhelming Moment of LOVE

We go to the park.  My husband, my son, Miss Percy and me.  Go to play baseball.

The wind is blowing.  The grass is freshly cut, soft and green.  Miss Percy flips her tail with delight.

My husband's hand melts into mine, fingers intertwined, holding on for comfort.  I feel the warmth of the sun on my face and shoulders.

It seems surreal what's just happened, and yet I feel a calm surrender, a deep peace.  I can question why...I can wonder what I did wrong...I can be outraged with the injustice of having to go through all of this again...Or, I can simply feel the sun on my face...The sweet embrace of my husband's loving hands...The excitement of my son's swing of the bat.

The crack of the bat.  A Homerun! he screams as he runs around us.

I have this moment.

***

Bad Things Happen To Good People

In those quiet moments, when I am alone, my mind races with questions, emotions, sadness.  What did I do wrong?  Did I deserve this?  Why didn't God protect us?  Why weren't my prayers answered?  Why does everyone else get what we want?...Those questions start from a negative place--inherent in them is the belief that I am not enough.  If I did more, this would not have happened to us.  If I were more perfect, everything would go the way we expected.  If God loved me, he would have answered my prayers, would have protected me from this pain.  The truth--I couldn't do more, be more perfect or pray harder.  The truth--God loves me, no matter what.  The truth--God lives in me, in my heart, in my emotions, in my pain.     

I will never have answers to those questions, at least not answers that give me any sense of personal dignity.  I want to know a loving and supportive world, one that fills my heart, takes my breath away and surprises me with the faith and trust I have kept hidden away for so long.

Bad things happen to good people.  There is no other answer.  Nothing to explain why there is injustice and pain.  It just is.  And, as I surrender to what is, and let go of the things I cannot control, the question shifts from Why do bad things happen to good people? to How do I choose to respond to this bad thing happening?. There is personal power in choice, and I choose love, acceptance, and serenity. 

***

There Is Development

My heart is growing.  Even though I am sad, and disappointed, and lost in grief, I am loved, and I am enough...and, that means I am okay, no matter what.    I feel it...the willingness to simply embrace the moment...the support from those around me...the security that it will be alright...that we will move through this.  Knowing this second Angel Baby  is not lost in solitude, but with the deepest levels of love surrounding us, blesses my healing soul with gratitude.

I have this moment.



Further readings that may also provide insight and meaning.
Do I Save It, Just In Case 
Escaping the Present Moment in Two Lines
Rabbi Kushner, An Accommodation with God, on NPR
Bouncing Back, by Karen Salmansohn

Thursday, March 1, 2012

What Do I Like About Me?

I am joining in with some other excellent bloggers this week at Just Be Enough to discuss embracing the wonderful and amazing parts of ourselves.  

To embracing being enough!  



This writing prompt could not have come at a better time!  I am ready to relish in my new found sense of myself and of the free spirited and confident person I am.  This explorative truth telling is very inspiring, and I am enjoying the journey very much.

I am the Queen of Diplomacy
My favorite boss in the whole world gave me this title.  At the time I didn't really believe her, because I actually found her to be much more powerfully diplomatic than me, but now, I know it's true.  I really enjoy being diplomatic--thoughtfully examining all sides of the circumstances, validating each perspective, analyzing the opposition, asking each person participating to do the same.  I find diplomacy grounding.  I suppose one could say it is because I grew up in a dysfunctional home where diplomacy was a matter of pure survival, but I like to think of it now as a beneficial attribute, and a highly developed skill.  It requires an intuitive sense of yourself and of others--their needs, their hopes.  It feels good to follow through, to ask that of someone, and to come to a thoughtful and peaceful understanding.  

Organize, Organize, Organize
I am an amazing organizer.  I like the structure it provides.  It was a Proud Mommy Moment when my son laughed at me for placing a toy in the wrong toy bin.  Mommy, (laughs) that doesn't go there!  I enjoy placing objects in their perspective homes.  I know I can find it again.  I know where to tell my son and my husband to find it.  It helps me take inventory of when it's time to recycle, purge, or upgrade.  My closets--by color.  My books--by subject.  My crafts--by design strategy.  I know it is my scientific brain strategizing and manipulating the information, always searching for connections and differences.  It's a process that comes very natural to me, and thankfully something I have always embraced.

Creativity
Embracing This Moment blogging has given me the time to be creative, in the midst of a messy house, a hard-working husband, and a needy and loving son, I have found time to honor me, these moments, my busy life--and to honor them in such a way that it fosters the creativity needed in all areas.  It's a very organic experience.  When I have taken the time to build an altar or to write a blog post, I find it so much easier to attend to my  son's potty training accidents or my husband's late nights at work.  I can be creative in my problem solving for me and thereby for each of them too.  Creative energy flows through my soul, and I very much enjoy tapping into that amazing place so frequently now.  

Risk Taker 
This is a new and amazing skill...one that I have probably always had, but I am only now fully giving myself credit for doing.  I used to think of myself as very shy, but I know now I am most definitely a risk taker.  I don't know many people that would give up their career jobs, live off of a third of what they used to make financially, to be able to stay home to care for their families.  Those life choices take tremendous risks, often daily, if not weekly.  I used to punish myself for these risks, especially when it did not go perfectly.  Oh, how could I be so stupid to take this risk?  I'd ask myself, shame myself.  Now, I can look at me, at that part of me that really thought the risk would be worth it and say Wow.  You took a risk.  That took a lot of courage.  It didn't work the way I thought, but I am enjoying all that I have learned, and I am making it work.  I love that I can have compassion for the risk taker in me.  It means success, and I like feeling it!  


What do you think?  Did you enjoy discovering those parts of me that I love embracing?  What about you?  What do you like about yourself?  Won't you head over to  Just Be Enough to read and share your insights too?    


   

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Writing Through Rejection

I have unsubscribed.  

The words a personal development blogger doesn't really want to hear.  The shock of it.  A good friend.  Doesn't want to follow me anymore.  Doesn't want to share this journey, not in this way. It was too negative.  A moment of vulnerability, expressed the best way I knew how, too negative.  

Rejection--press of a button...  

Rejection doesn't feel very good.  I began to question the validity of my experience, my purpose for writing, for sharing my story.  And then I remembered this articulate and powerful passage from Brene Brown:



"Our stories are not meant for everyone.  Hearing them is a privilege, and we should always ask ourselves this before we share:  "Who has earned the right to hear my story?"  If we have one or two people in our lives who can sit with us and hold space for our shame stories...a small group of friends, or family who embraces our imperfections, vulnerabilities and power, and fills us with a sense of belonging, we are incredibly lucky.  We don't need love and belonging and story-catching from everyone in our lives.  If we have that one person or that small group of confidants, the best way to acknowledge these connections is to acknowledge our worthiness.  If we're working toward relationships based in love, belonging, and story, we have to start in the same place:  I am worthy."



The easiest place to go when we feel the sting of rejection is to examine our self worth.  It feels as though we  are flawed, that we do not belong, that we aren't good enough, that we were wrong in our experience of the truth.

I have come to terms with all of this over the last month.  Hesitant.  Unsure.  Doubting my self worth, my ability to build connections.  To write.           

I reread my blog posts.  I questioned my need to be a blogger.  What is my experience?  Where am I placing my self worth?

Taking the time to navigate these emotions, to clarify what I want my experience to be, what I choose to share with each of you, I have come to the following conclusions:  
  • I very much enjoy sharing with each of you, and I am so honored to have you all as followers.  There is a vulnerability that you hold when you read my story, and I am so grateful that you have cherished it so thoughtfully.  
  • My story is powerful, wonderful, heartfelt.  It comes with joy and anger, love and fear, positive and negative.           
  • When I started writing 6 months ago, I wrote for validation.  Publishing these words gave my story truth, a truth I could not, at the time, give.  As I continue to embrace the moment, to stand tall in my self worth, to have compassion for imperfection, I am gaining power to validate my own experience. 
It is wonderful to be moving through my writing again.  I have missed it.  A benefit, I suppose, is that I gained much needed clarity about my intentions and my purpose here.  I could reclaim this space with much deeper personal strength.  

How have you re-framed the sting of rejection?  How did you find your place of power and reclaim your truth?  




As we grow into different people, the story evolves.  I hope that each of you continue following my insights, and share this moment.  I am still here, writing my story, rebuilding my identity, opening my heart.  I have some creative therapy to return to...I hope you will be reading.        

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Whispering Winds

I can hear them.
The waves.  
Crashing onto shore.  
The whispering wind graces my rosy cheeks.  
I can breathe.  
Finally.

You see, this is what we gave up.  I say I gave up my job, but I didn't.  I quit my job.  I gave up vacations.  Vacations like these.  With crashing waves and whispering wind.  This is what we gave up.

My husband left his work phone at home.  At home.  On the counter.  Next to the microwave...it sits...where he always leaves it.  It can chirp to an empty house.  We are listening to the crashing waves and the whispering wind.  

Whisper.  
Crash.  
No chirps.

The laughs and giggles.  The excitement my son has for his cousins.  To play.  To run.  To enjoy.  Those laughs fill the empty space of the room, fill it with magical memories that will last a lifetime.  A lifetime of giggles and laughs.  

It's with such an open heart, one full of a new understanding of gratitude, that I accept these gifts, that we experience this vacation.  My aunt, my father's sister, has invited us here.  Paid for our tickets, our room.  To share this space, this time, these-room-filling giggles with her, her husband, and their two girls.  

I quit my job.  I gave up vacations, but I have gained family.  Family that values me for my sacrifices.  Family that sees me for who I am.  Family that loves me despite my imperfections.

Whisper.
Crash.
No criticism.  

Do you hear that?  Do you feel that? It's my heart healing.  It's my entitlement crashing.  It's my gratitude.  It's the validation I feel.  It's the relief of knowing my dad's family still loves me, even if he can't right now.  It's knowing I am worth their time, even when he says I am not worth his.  

So, you see, I gave up vacations when I quit my job.  I let go of hope of rekindling the relationship with my dad.  I gave up waiting for validation from him and I faced the sting of his rejection.  It's been a long journey to this point here.  Long.  Hurtful.  Cleansing.  

But, in the whispering wind, I can hear it.  The giggles and laughter.  In the now...in the future.  The gratitude for these moments, of the memories with my dad's sister, my lovely aunt.  The validation.  The love.  The honor.  

Having given up so much these last few years, I am now feeling it two-fold in return.  

Crash. 
Whisper.  
I can breathe.  
Finally.  
whispering winds
Otter Rock, Oregon


Other reflections that tell a bit more of the back story to this one...