He stole our name….

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He stole our name….

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10 things I am grateful for in no order at all

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Polar fleece. Seriously this stuff is great, warm and soft. Snuggly. It is almost the perfect fabric. As George Castanza said of velvet, “I would drape myself in it it was socially acceptable.

The Simpsons. Ok well it needs to end but credit for the hours of humor and enjoyment its irreverent take gave.

The DC Metro- People love to gripe about this but it is one of the cleanest most effective well run systems. Clean as whistle and works more time than not.

Dangerous Dan Mcgrew. “Non could place the strangers but we searched ourselves for a clue” ‘Twas the crowning cry of a heart’s despair, and it thrilled you through and through” brilliant stuff.

Dr. Pepper- 23 flavors and I only taste the goodness.

Crockpot- definitely my favorite cooking instrument and in a pinch it doubles as a foot bath.

Penguin Cafe Orchestra- Making classical music hip and accessible

The “Group deals” fad- giving power back to the consumer

Mint- its a wonderful flavor

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Words Matter

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Dear B,

This is sort of a response to your last post, but not my final one. It seems apropos to discussions we’re having about taking up space.

Auntie E

 

A Poem for Anne McCracken on a Gray Day

Always you ask, “Are you writing poems?”

holding a small light for me flickering in the dark

in case I’ve lost my way. And maybe I have.

 

I write something at least, after years of famine. Words

spill onto pages—crime, weather, profiles

of interesting neighbors, the county news.

 

It’s practice.

No, I say, in a small voice

surprised by my heart beating “why?”

 

What matters? The farm needs tending,

fruit falls to the ground—a waste.

Dailiness takes over like vines.

 

Is there something to say

that can heal the world—patiently,

one minuscule life at a time?

 

Leaves fall, the winds blow, and soon

the dark will succumb to spring.

Again and again the world spins in its lopsided circle.

 

Again the birth, the death, the ever-present soil

of delivery—that soil of choice and chance

and matter and things unsaid, unseen.

 

I spin my story—my hours, my years,

my place on earth. Does it matter

what I hide and fail to speak?

 

Words matter, I know, like water,

like rain. We thirst for them—the kind ones,

wise ones, the ones that are left unspoken.

 

The lovely ones, the loving ones, even

the harsh ones that tell a truth

and break us open.

 

Words touch, words see. Words

can kill. Words call, words heal, words

shine a light—like yours, your blessing

 

rain in a still crevice, bringing to bear

these words into the light

of your knowing recognition.

–EW copyright 2011

Insert Basic Need Here

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9/16/2011

Dear E-

So well, another Tuesday in the sun! I am so excited to hear you have gone into the Aronia business! It sounds like a wonderful opportunity. Do you find something zen-like in the tedious picking of them? I don’t know if I could handle that part but I did wonder if something in the focus required appealed to your exacting nature?

 

Well, another Tuesday taken care of with the focus on well, meeting my social needs (or wants if you prefer) for love, acceptance, laughter and fun with a couple of guys after work on what has become a reasonably regular every other Tuesday night hang out event.

 

As I mentioned previously, I have been making something of a study of NVC with some nightly readings and reflections. I don’t know if has quite opened to the promise of a more fulfilling life but if nothing else it can seem to add a richness or another layer at least when someone comes to me with an idea, rant or other sentence and I get to respond, “So it sounds like you are wanting _______ insert basic need here”.

 

I had a challenging interaction with a friend tonight who has shared some of my challenges with finding the right job here in DC. He believes that working in a Capitol Hill office is the only way to meet his need for a job that provides, I don’t know, challenge, intrigue, ability to self associate with people with similar interests. He has bounced around a bit and always comes back to how much he wants to work on the hill. Per NVC, I kept trying to understand what needs he is trying to really fulfill by working in a hill office but didn’t really seem realize/wasn’t able to get him to vocalize what really got from working in politics—  what emotional needs were really set to be fulfilled. We explored a little bit on a professional level other paths but didn’t really get there on an emotional level. I resisted the urge to jump into problem solving mode for awhile, then asked if he was interested in hearing my advice and when he asked to hear it I proceeded to share some professional suggestions.

 

Having never worked with him professionally, I could not speak much to his professional habits or discipline but there was a big challenge because he is kind of annoying which is probably his biggest challenge or stumbling block but I am afraid I have stumbled off into judging land… er um.. I suppose I can’t tell him he can’t get a job because his personality sucks but just encourage him to work to establish meaningful relationships with his co-workers connecting over common interests and shared goals. I could just tell him to stop sucking. I guess introducing that self awareness personally and professionally would not be bad err.. goal for the next time we hang out.

 

Well there we go, I have just journal-ed through another challenge. I will tell him to stop sucking and that will fix the whole thing.

 

In the course of the conversation there was a striking moment where he said he was only here to work in politics and if he could not make that happen he might as well just go home where the weather was nicer. Striking because that was me about three or four weeks ago when I was ready to pull out the application for the Montana ski instructor and/or Peace Corp application that I let drop a few years back. I actually had a rare mini breakdown in front of D on the drive to the airport coming back to DC. Rare not because my freakouts are particularly infrequent  but rare because I try to put on a decent face always in front of the ‘rents and well kinda to you too. They are probably smarter than I think they are (sometimes… only sometimes) and can see through a lot but again with especially my dad’s stoic continence I wonder what their ratio of optimism to understanding is.

 

So are you ready to say goodbye to summer? I think we talked about how we both love Autumn or perhaps I am projecting. Is there something comforting in the solemnity, the decrescendo of sort? I am going to decrescendo myself to sleep.

-Ben

trying to fulfill was useful

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Hey-

So well Tuesday after a great week of Labor Fun with some friends in rural West Virgina and back to work today.

In last week’s episode- I was due for a review of the NVC workshop I attended. Well given the Gary Cooper façade I have been internalizing for the last uhh… 2 decades or so, it was a definite chance to step out of my comfort zone and discuss in public with strangers my feelings and struggles with communication.

Held in the yoga room of a holistic healing center, I did feel like I was a little bit back in the Pacific Northwest, right down to the whole sock, bare feet and the weather that weekend helped too.
I don’t know how well acquainted you are with NVC but the thrust of is well along the lines with a lot of things you have said and taught me over the years. We are all emotionally beings just trying to get our emotional needs met. NVC is based around the concept that if we understand everyone’s needs we can find ways to communicate with them and find ways to meet all of our emotional needs if given to the right set of empathic understandings and communication tools.

Those tools and understandings came down to us in fun little tools where we walked on little squares describing our sort of decision making/life rationalization process. We walked on tiles (or laminated cards actually) representing the stories we tell ourselves, the observations, emotions, uncertainties, woundedness, attempts to force reality or confront a perceived lack or deficiency. There were other motions, visualizations, discussions and lecture thrown in.

That is not really that complete of a run down. Well, I was interested enough that I bought some books and may set off down the path. I found the tactile/kinesthetic aspects of the dance floors to be a cathartic and rewarding exercise. There is something clear and freeing about stepping on a laminated piece of card stock and realizing and labeling stories that I cling through to an old rough spot telling myself or seeing that I am playing the “if only game” or am stuck wishing or mourning. Taking the next step to understand why I was trapped in those games or device and figuring out what need I was trying to fulfill was useful. Walking through the exercise as some else was tough but again useful.

I have a lot of insecurities running around masking themselves as judgments that can get in the way of really connecting with people. Hmmm.. given the topic of a few previous entries I can’t understand where that would come from…. Which is sarcasm for judgment as cover for insecurities is a hallmark of the T Fam. For me it is hard to relate when I am scared and those feelings come through sometimes as a wonderous and fatal cocktail of aloofness, disinterest, slowness or distraction. You were always telling me to pay attention! Maybe I should have been finding a way to not be so scared all the time.

Well, in other news- a return to full time work is coming closer and closer. I don’t know if it will be where I want or how I work through some of those tradeoffs but they are coming. Theses have been a rough couple years but I at least have a few ideas of a some better ways to see what is going on and communicate a little more, take up some more space and hopefully I will get a little closer to where I want to be.

Over and out,
B

a quick fire challenge

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Dear E,

Here is a quick fire challenge- Write a 10-word sentence that sums up your day.

Here is mine.

Earthquakes brought people together and shook up spreadsheets and data.

-B

B called before I knew he might be dead–thanks!

Or

The Tide is going out; aronia berries are coming in.

–E

filled with adventure and a determined spirit

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E-

In our last conversation she said the meaning of life was to create and share joy. It is one to remember and like my mother said, perhaps a little ironic but I will take it. It is certainly the best mantra I have heard. She loved her life she loved birds and she wrote me a very nice letter in January of last year when I was steal reeling with being honest with my family.

There were the Krackle chocolates, the bird beaker filled with M&Ms, the late night card games. It is hard because the grandmas I see on TV tend to be of the unending sweetness variety. Kind 100% warm and loving and GS was those things but there was always so much more tied up in that relationship that before I could even recognize it there was always a bitter undertone to the relationship. I know TV lies and no one is 100% sweet and perfect but even as a child there was an ever present tension.

As the golden child I think I had it pretty easy, she was harder on other grandkid but still.

That is why it was so hard. Taking the lesson some of your best teachers teach you how not to be. She was a wonderful woman filled with adventure and a determined spirit. There is a recording of the service and you will have to have my dad find it for you at the house.  If nothing else she gave us a spine. Unabashed in her opinions and holding herself and others to an exacting standards, she was wonderful.

Some of my favorite memories are the few days I spent alone with her in McCall in 7th and 8th grade. We made grilled SPAM sandwiches and played doubles solitaire into all hours of the morning. She did have a strong spirit and shared that with all of us.  My mom certainly took her traveling bug and independent spirit.  I am afraid at bad times, I have her critical nature for everyone but myself. I see her tone in some of the current family tension and have nothing left to do but laugh at the unresolved baggage left in that family and slightly worried when I see it building in my own.

I hated seeing the effect of her tone on my M-U and well had very well checked myself out of the situation for the past several years

You can’t go forward from where you are right now. Just a random reminder that popped up on my computer and well another metaphor I will read into.

Again, I love GS she was wonderful but there was always that twinge or baggage at that is tough. Nothing to forgive, or get over it is just there. Certainly, worth reminding that she did not have an easy life.

So was there a single gift, I don’t know. Do my best to love life I suppose and don’t be afraid to seek out an adventure or two.

-B

Dear B,

It sounds as though you have a pretty clear-eyed assessment of who she was and who she wasn’t. And I suspect she had a pretty clear idea of who she was. It doesn’t seem that she was pretending to be someone she wasn’t and that is always refreshing, even when the bare truth is not always beautiful. I’m glad you can take all that in and still love her and have happy memories and appreciate her strengths. Keep that spine she gave you strong but flexible.

Let us always be determined and able to recognize, create, and share joy.

Love,

Auntie E

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