Me in the Middle ~ Self-Love

“The greatest gift a woman can give to herself and her family is her own independence.”

  This quote came from the book ~ The Shell Seekers ~ A novel  by Rosamunde Pilcher about a woman and her evolving relationship with her grown children ……… and adjusting to the cycles of life.

I did a self-portrait sketch of myself (kind of, sort of 😀 ) describing the different qualities I saw in myself and using the above quote as a guide.

#AJWchallenge Jan Day 19 #2

When I was growing up in the 40’s and 50’s, self-love was considered a negative thing.  Being kind to myself was something I’ve learned to do over the years.  I have been told I am too rough on myself.  This sense of unworthiness began at a young age when we were taught to think up all the ‘bad’ things we did when we went to confession every Saturday so that we could be worthy enough to receive communion on Sunday.  The best I could come up with at 7 years old was something like ‘I answered back my mother’, ‘I ate a piece of chocolate during lent’ ‘I got angry with my brothers for teasing me’….etc.   Sometimes we’d make up something!   Love of God/Love of Neighbor and self-sacrifice were all tied up into one ball of yarn and somehow self-love was left out….. or so we thought.  When I attempted to put myself first …… to say I mattered too …… it was thought to be selfish and unkind.  Now I realize that being selfless vs being selfish are more about balance.  That I am worthy and I do matter.  It’s helped me to set healthy boundaries in my life when others pressure me to be and do what I’m not comfortable with.  ‘Love your neighbor as yourself”.    It’s helped me to trust my intuition and my heart going forward even though I sometimes wrestle with ‘Catholic Guilt’.  😀

Shame is the most powerful, master emotion. It’s the fear that we’re not good enough. “

~ Brené Brown ~

It’s Enough!  It’s Plenty!”

Dear Human

Some of us have too little self worth and are too selfless. Some of us have too much narcissism and take advantage of the kindness of those who are too nice.  Seek the middle ground.

Be there for others

Me in the Middle of Writing

 

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The Eternal Sea of Creativity

The Eternal Sea of Creativity

© Mary Lou

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“I must write it all out at any cost.  Writing is thinking.  It is more than living, for it is being conscious of living.” 

~ Anne Morrow Lindbergh ~

Why Do I Write?

I write because I have a story to tell and memories to share.  The story and the memories are through my eyes and not a reflection of someone else’s perception.  Sometimes our stories can be lost or hidden from view unless we find our own voice.  Writing allows an expression of that longing to be heard when we’re surrounded by other versions, other perspectives and other agendas that can distort and embellish the validity of our own experience.

Writing has been a path to my middle ground.  It’s there at the center of my thoughts where I’m able to find that thread of continuity of my own self.  It surprises me when, after procrastinating on getting started, I find a joy and freedom that begins to awaken and I wonder why I waited to begin.  It’s an awakening that points to the whole ‘me’.

What stands out in my memory about my writing experience over the years, more than the keeping of a diary or writing a personal journal, is that writing has become a way to be able to identify the process of finding out where I fit within the middle of things …… my reality.

I remember an award I received in an Anthology of New York-New Jersey High School Essays ~ “Young America Speaks”.  I was genuinely surprised that my essay was chosen and I felt mine wasn’t as good as the other high school writers.  When I reread what I wrote at this time of my life, I can clearly see that what I wrote was helping me to find my place ……. where I belonged in the middle of things.  I belong to a family of writers ~ my father, my mother, my two brothers.  When I wrote I was saying I was a part of it all and that I belonged here.

Whenever I attempted to write poetry, it was usually at a more challenging time in my life.  When I was sorting through life’s paradoxes and finding my way through the complexities and seeking answers.  When I wasn’t able to find the words to express what was going on inside, writing poetry helped to define that struggle.

There’s value in writing!  Sharing what we write is secondary to just the pure act of putting pen to paper.  When it comes to the gifts and revelations we receive about life, both now and in the future, writing is a priceless contribution to ourselves and others.

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 free-canva-write

Me in the Middle of Well Being and Positive Aging

“It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.”

– Jiddu Krishnamurti ~

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The course I’m taking right now with OLLI (Osher Lifelong Learning Institute) with the University of Virginia has really given me the support I was looking for to apply the lessons I’ve learned over the years of my life.  Transcendence, Well Being and Positive Aging helps you to maintain a ‘transcendent mindset’.  This is something that becomes easier and clearer as we get older if we’re open to being in the moment and being mindful.  We’ve learned more about ourselves and are more willing to choose the behaviors that lead to our well being instead of being pushed and pulled by others and society’s expectations.  I’m finding it a refreshing validation of how to set my own healthy boundaries during these years of letting go and simplifying my life in order to meet the inevitable changes that come with aging.

“Buddhism asserts each of us are born with Buddhanature (something akin to the western concept of a soul, but more precisely a luminous expanse of awareness), an intrinsic state of wholeness that can be discovered and cultivated through meditation.”  

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Successvul People

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Emergent Mind:  Each moment we are constructing our mind, feeding it perceptions, sensations and thoughts which coalesce into beliefs and reality pictures which in turn foster positive or negative feelings.

-Kindnessis a powerful reminder that behind all the negativity and malice, there lies goodnessthat has the powerto change the world.- (1)

Me in the Middle of an Etsy Sale ~ 20% Off!!

Well, it’s the season for looking for special gifts for those we love!  With that in mind I’ve decided to post my Holiday Season 20% Off Sale for items in my Etsy Shop.   If you are looking, or someone you might know is looking, for gift ideas for someone who loves Ireland, please share.  The Sale runs until November 26th.  I hope you’ll take a look!

~ Sketches by Mary Lou ~

Christmas Roses #2

Now through November 26th ~ 20% off ALL ITEMS ~ Take a look!

 Holiday Greeting Cards and Gift Ideas ~ Note Cards and Ireland Prints

 

Me in the Middle of an Ordinary Day

** Note:  This is my story.  My memory of where I was when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated is something I wanted to write about.  This is my attempt at telling it in third person POV and I’ve since written it in first person POV.  **

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John Kennedy Family, Jacqueline

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~ An Ordinary Day ~

It was November and an ordinary week day with not much planned except for household chores and getting ready for the upcoming holidays.  Nora’s husband had left for work leaving her with a pile of ironing to do.  She liked to set up the ironing board in the living room, facing the large bay window, so she could look out on the neighborhood.  It had been a quiet morning where she took things easy considering her pregnancy was drawing to an end and she was slowed down quite a bit.

Waiting wasn’t easy!  Over the past year she had had two miscarriages and this was her 3rd pregnancy.  All seemed to be progressing well and 22-year-old Nora could feel the lively kicks and bumps in this last stage before birth.  Her doctor wasn’t sure of an exact delivery date.  He told her to have her bag packed and ready for a trip to the hospital sometime during the holidays.

Her mind was preoccupied with these thoughts when her attention was abruptly drawn to the TV in the corner of the room.  The monotonous conversations of the scheduled show were suddenly interrupted by a brief, alarming announcement. 

“Here is a bulletin from CBS News.  In Dallas, Texas three shots were fired at President Kennedy’s motorcade in downtown Dallas.  The first reports say that President Kennedy has been seriously wounded by this shooting.”

The announcement came and went so quickly that it almost seemed inconceivable that what Nora heard really happened.  She continued with the ironing and reflected on the memories she had of JFK over the past three years.  Her first stirrings of political awareness showed up when she went to a campaign rally at the Teaneck Armory in NJ for John F. Kennedy, who was running for President against Richard M. Nixon.  Standing outside in the massive crowd waiting for him to arrive, she and her sister came up with a chant; “Jack be nimble. Jack be quick.  Jack’s the one who’s gonna beat Dick.”  Her family was proud of the Democratic Party that was working towards electing the first Catholic President.

Both JFK and his wife, Jackie, were an inspiration for her and both gave her hope.  She felt like she knew Jackie Kennedy personally when they each went through the heartaches of miscarriages and loss.   Jackie gave her hope that one day she too would become a mother, just as her husband gave her hope that we as a country could overcome our divisions and adversities, and become greater still.

Did she really hear what she thought she heard?  The report said ‘seriously wounded’.  A feeling of dread washed over her as she thought of the possibility that the president would die.  And then it came up on the screen:

“From Dallas, Texas ~ The flash apparently official ~ President Kennedy died at 1 pm Central Standard Time (2 o’clock Eastern Standard Time), some 28 minutes ago.”

There it was!  There was no denying the finality of those words.  She felt a bolt of shock pulse through her as the seriousness of what it meant sunk in.  Suddenly she felt very fearful and very much alone.  She needed to reach out to someone and dropped everything she was doing.  Nora hurried down the stairs of their 2nd floor apartment to the landlady’s apartment below.  She was relieved that she found her at home and, as soon as the door opened, she began to tremble and cry.  For the first time she said the words that she couldn’t believe:

“President Kennedy’s dead!  He was shot!”

Her landlady, who was expecting her third child, was an experienced mom who always had everything under control.  She tried to calm Nora down.  “You’ve got to think of your baby right now.  It’s important that you stay calm.”  She counseled her.  They both stood there silently and continued to watch the startling news reports as more information trickled in.

It was two days later that she watched a live report of the Dallas Police bringing Lee Harvey Oswald, the alleged assassin of President John F. Kennedy, through the garage of the police station on the way to a more secure county facility.  There was a lot of confusion and shouting as they walked through the crowd of reporters.  She saw a man quickly approach Oswald and immediately saw a pained expression appear on Oswald’s face.  It happened so quickly there was no way to prevent it.  Nora was watching real life unfold, realizing that it was the first time she was witnessing a man being murdered.   Another urgent announcement followed that Oswald had been shot and killed by a local business man in Texas, Jack Ruby. 

Life changed for America on November 22nd, 1963 and when she stood in stunned silence watching more news unfold over the following days, Nora saw images of Jackie Kennedy, her daughter Caroline and her small son, John-John, standing by the roadside as the fallen president’s casket passed by.  An ordinary day became a tragedy and the whole world mourned the death of our president.

The weeks passed by and the country began to take steps to bring order and safety as more information was released.  The grieving and healing would begin across the country and the world. 

So too, the weeks passed by for Nora with no sign of the beginnings of labor indicating the arrival of their first born.  Christmas 1963 and New Year’s Day 1964 came and went.  The doctor reassured her that all was well and not to worry.  The previous miscarriage had made it impossible to pinpoint a due date, and the baby’s weight and progress were on target for an imminent birth.  They continued to wait ~ one day at a time ~ and then on January 22nd, 1964, exactly two months to the day of JFK’s assassination, a baby boy arrived healthy and welcomed into the family.  An ordinary day in the lives of so many others yet a cherished one for Nora.

And now, years have passed by filled with historic moments that have impacted the people of America in so many ways.  That one ordinary day, 54 years ago, continues to haunt Nora  as a reminder of  vulnerability that always lies beneath the surface.  Just as 9/11 sliced into the heart and soul of the country, so to 11/22/63 will remain a reminder that the perfect idealism of ‘Camelot’ can be shattered within one ordinary day.

11-22-63 

Sketch and writing © Mary Lou

Photo image from Pixabay.com