Gratitude Sunday: Do You Feel Me?

Gratitude * Sunday

Quote of the Week – “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Maya Angelou

Sunday Haiku
Yellow daffodil,
snow defier, green stalks bright
against steel gray skies.

Sunday Musings
Do you know me? Do you read my words and think you know me? How do those words make you feel? How does my face and body make you feel if you know me in real life? When you are with me, are you on edge wondering what wild thing will come out of my mouth, or do you trust I’ve done my homework and know of what I speak?

Does my resting bitch face make you think I am unapproachable or even scary? It’s just my face. The way my eyes and mouth droop at the edges does not mean I’m angry. My eyes don’t shine with love and joy, though my heart carries those emotions as well as the weight of sadness and struggle of everyday. It shows on my face. I cannot deny it because it is right out front there to see.

Does my fat body make you feel ashamed to be seen with me? Fat means nothing. Bodies are not within our control despite the myths the beauty and medical industries have created. Fat is not contagious and should not be a source of shame. A body, whatever its size and shape, is a vehicle for the soul.

An unattractive face or body does not indicate a defective soul. A beautiful face and body can disguise an evil heart. Neither, however, are hard and fast rules about evaluating people from their appearance.

Does my voice upset you? Do my words make you feel uncomfortable, provoked, offended? Do you hear echoes of your disapproving mother or your strident grandmother or caustic aunt? Or do my words of dissent inspire you to do your own research, to learn and think critically for yourself, and not just take my word for it? Do my words leave you feeling like you’ve spent time with some wacky crank who blows smoke through her hat? Does my sarcasm upset you? Is my wacko sense of humor alienating?

My intentions are good, though I feel I don’t always have quite the result I seek. My social skills are such that I struggle for the right things to say and the right way to say them. Sometimes I open my mouth when I shouldn’t and vice versa. What I say and mean is often filtered by what you hear or want to hear and like the game of telephone, bizarre twists can happen between words and feelings.

What I want you to feel when you are with me or from reading my words is I see you. I hear you. You are glorious. You are loved. I don’t care if you stand before me with spotty green hair, blue smurf make-up, sleeved with tattoos, quarter-sized gauges in your ears, layers of mismatched clothing, and have never succeeded at anything. I don’t care if you stand in front of me with your thousand dollar suit, your hundred dollar haircut, and your arm’s length list of recognized social accomplishments. I don’t care if you share my beliefs, spiritual, political, or otherwise. I don’t care what color your skin is, what shape you are, if you speak with the accent of another language, who you love, what you are able to do or how smart you are, if you are old or young or in-between.

I see you in the beauty of you. Nobody else is you. You are unique and special and a treasure and resource for our society. I may not know your history or understand you, but I’m not sure I need to. I don’t know your story. I haven’t lived your life, though I know the weirdnesses of my life so I think we probably all have weirdnesses we deal with. I don’t need to know anything about you to see you and hear you and honor you as you are. The past is the past; it is what made us the people we are today. The future is unknowable, as much as we plan and set goals and work toward successful outcomes events are not always in our control and crazy derailing stuff can happen in the blink of an eye. We have only this very now, this moment in time, and now is when I see you. I have lost a bit of naïveté here though: if you show me lies, or cruelty, or hate I see that part of you as well as the beauty of you.

If you know me or if you read me, know that I’m for you. I am not waiting for you to become a better person or fulfill your potential. I hope you don’t hear only the cranky part of my words, but know that as you are right now, I see you. I hear you. I stand beside you and for you.

Alternate Museland
Possibly you noticed all my quotes for the month of February were from Maya Angelou, whom I’ve always had a writer’s crush on. I thought it was appropriate for Black History Month, though I’m sad we haven’t gotten over all those differences and are able to honor everyone despite skin color, nationality, or difference. It also makes me sad how blacks (and all people of color, considering our entire nation is built on immigrants) have been treated in American history and to this day. We can’t change the past, we only move forward. I’ve admired Ms Angelou’s work for many years as a voice for all people. If I’d known her in person I’m guessing I would have had a full blown crush. She reminds me of my paternal grandmother who was as white as a woman could be, and I can’t quite put my finger on what makes them similar in my heart.

Here’s something you may not have suspected about me. Don’t judge me for my naïveté. When I was in high school, besides protesting the Vietnam war and getting into trouble for helping to organize walk-outs and sit-ins, I wanted to be black. I thought Billie Holiday, and BB King, and Sarah Vaughn, and Tina Turner, and Diana Ross, and Stevie Wonder, and Ray Charles, and Gladys Knight, and Aretha Franklin, and other musicians were glamorous. I thought the color of their skin was rich and elegant, their facial features full and soft, and their curly hair like angel’s halos. I didn’t know enough about history yet to know how they were so heinously mistreated and exploited, and when I did learn it crushed me that people could treat each other like that just because their skin was different. When I discovered authors of color, of course, the incontrovertible truth was laid bare as I read their stories. Reality prevails. One cannot change the color of one’s wings and mine are and always will be white, though only in color, not in purity. I am, by no means whatsoever, a perfect person.

I know better now, and assumptions and attitudes about differences don’t stand and aren’t taught in my house, because that is the thing: hatred, bigotry, prejudice, or discomfort with difference is learned behavior, just as acceptance and honoring each other is learned as well. My dad tried to indoctrinate me into the racist bigotry attitude after his experience serving in the military, because he was taught to hate the “enemy”, but I don’t remember him hating or hurting another person. The indoctrination didn’t take with me; I resisted.

I’d rather teach my family empathy and caring than hatred and division. I think the words of Ms Angelou are right there with me.

Color Watch – colorful attractions in my neighborhoods this week – A sprinkle of snow this week on my hardy sedums. Bright yellow harbingers of spring, daffodils bloom in spite of this last week’s snow. Wavy frothy forsythia branches with yellow blossoms. Love the soft heather purple with the spears of nearly blooming daffodils.

Current View – {These are only my opinions about movies and books, but don’t let me stop you from trying these reviewed items yourself; your opinion may differ.} 2018 Winter Olympics are almost over. Back to our regularly scheduled programming soon. * Enter the Dragon (1973, rated R) with Bruce Lee. How I admire those crazy-mad martial arts defense skills. As long as the good guys win.

Currently Reading – I started Walking to Forest Grove: The Life and Times of the Prettiest Town in Oregon (2014, local history) by Ken Bilderback with Kris Bilderback. Our local lending library system owns only two copies of this book which is shameful because it is local history, and our youth should know from which they came; it should be required reading in 6th grade, but I can’t imagine our school district owns more than one copy. With only two copies there is no way I can complete this before somebody else requests it, as is the way of libraries: we share. The Bilderback’s do not write dry history; they create pictures of the past in which our town and the people in it live and thrive. I’ve read enough during this short check-out period to know I will need to own my own copy of this book. * Learning To Be Old: Gender, Culture, and Aging (2003, aging and psychology) by Margaret Cruickshank. Do not believe everything you’ve been told about aging. It is more likely to be a cultural construct than have real basis in reality.

This week I have been grateful for:

  • Ibuprofen and microwave hot packs for the boogalou in my hip I woke up with this week.
  • Still being able to move, boogalou and all.
  • February being the shortest month and yet it brings the light.
  • The difference a few degrees makes.
  • The high school I attended offering an open house before they tear down the old building. I still dream about that building and will miss it with mixed feelings, the good with the bad. Sadly the building, built in 1925, is one of the oldest still standing in the town I grew up in, and was falling apart when I attended in the late 60s and early 70s. I’m glad and sad progress is taking place.
  • Not having to go anywhere in inclement weather. In Oregon’s Willamette Valley, inclement means any threat of a dusting of snow or ice. We just aren’t used to it.
  • Not having any power outages during our “inclement” weather.
  • My local lending library who granted a special renew period for an item I could not return because of the “inclement” weather. Read: I was too chicken to drive with the threat of icy roads.
  • A renewed interest in Neighborhood Watch programs in my community.
  • Appreciating other cultures and heritages beyond my own.
  • Chocolate.
  • Water.

Hoping you have a lovely week.

Namaste. Peace. Blessings.

Floral ribbon border by Laurel Burch

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