“Come Again?” – Trying to Live in the New World Society.

2018 drifted into 2019 and so far so good. I believe in the grand scheme of things if you find yourself in an upright and breathing state, you’ve won.  My 52 nd is just 4 days away and I’ve made plans, albeit not extravagant ones, and I am looking forward to celebrating. Two years ago, I counted down my year to 50 and documented and shared the things that left an impression on me. I wrote about the things I learned and the ways in which I found myself evolving from one phase of my life into another. I felt that I had grown in so many positive ways and was happy to work on the things I could do better. That year, I shed a lot of people and things from my life, happy to move on without them, basking in a new found freedom. I didn’t think in 2 short years I’d find myself feeling as unsettled as I do now and looking to perhaps shed even more and point myself in a new direction.

This year and the next 2, actually, I find myself in the process of launching my sons into their adult lives. Adam is 19 and yes, still autistic, still has some struggles and is still unique, quirky and wonderful. He is learning the ropes when it comes to asserting himself as an adult, learning to live his life without us in the home and learning to cope with the responsibility required by this transition. I never thought when he was 3, or 6 or 9 that he would be able to be independent, but the time is here and he is almost ready to take the giant step away from Mom and Dad. His father and I always planned 4 years ahead when it came to raising him and helping him achieve his life skills goals. We always challenged him by raising the bar every time he made progress and we are so glad he chose to join us on this journey to his maturity and independence.

Logan is almost 17 and his age is like a shackle holding him back from flinging into his adult life on the horizon. As much as he is comfortable at home, he is like me and wants so much more than what this time and space he finds himself in, has to offer. He is so comfortable in a crowded city and drinks in every experience and each moment a new place has to offer that I am comfortable saying he is ready to fly and he will fly far because he absolutely should. How I envy his youth for the energy, curiosity, enthusiasm and time it offers him. He has no limitations placed upon him. We have never told him what to do, what to like, what to try and which path he should follow when it comes to his life. We have placed no time limits or boundaries on him when it comes to discovering what he likes and what he wants. We expose him to various situations and opportunities and once he makes a choice, he works hard to achieve the goals such opportunities are able to yield. He has chosen to be a spiritual person and he wants to be the best he can in whatever he is involved in and has committed to. He ain’t perfect, but watching him grow up is like reading a very engaging book and I can’t wait to witness the chapters to come.

But while launch mode has me somewhat occupied, I am finding more than ever that I have phased out of or rejected many things the world presents to me and I am surprised that it’s happening so quickly. I find myself reading things online and seeing things on the news that make me say, “Come again?” I love technology and advancement and all good that they offer but I feel the people of the world don’t know how to cope with the simplest of things. I don’t understand this age of imbecility that has come about. I don’t understand why a spoiled rich 19-year-old would toss not one, but two patio chairs off a high rise apartment into traffic some 38 stories below. I cannot see the fun in such an act. I don’t understand why those involved have no regard for other people’s well-being, their property, their life. I don’t understand the thought process of the friend who was recording the moronic act and I absolutely am floored by the fact that she had not just the best criminal lawyer money can buy, but a smile on her face as she walked handcuffed before the news cameras while her lawyer told reporters she was embarrassed and remorseful. This is is just one example of the new world behavior I cannot comprehend or accept.

Everything in this era is a problem. Everything is an outrage and everything is offensive to the point of ridiculous. We say there is freedom of speech and freedom to choose. How is it then that many of us can’t decide to not support something or someone who offends us without picking a fight on social media? Ever notice that no one just says “fuck it” and moves on anymore? Everyone has to jump in and get in on the backlash bandwagon without becoming properly informed. Too few people dig deeper anymore. Too many are prompted by vague headlines that make them take up arms without knowing the facts. Too few think things through these days because the go-to response today is not to think but react. We broadcast everything about ourselves online. Nothing is private anymore. Not our meals, not our conversations, our personal decisions, our bodies, nor our possessions. While social media has re-connected old friends and forged new friendships and improved communication among people, it has also tainted us. So many people cannot go unnoticed because they desperately need approval. More people, more than ever need copious amounts of attention and yet the social media society has no problem cutting down someone or something else because the keyboard has made some people too bold.  That certain amount of anonymity cyberspace affords; not having to face a person as we type our comments, have given us big iron balls and when we feel that strong, it is easy to judge and we are empowered to hurt. Yet, we all condemn Jussie Smollet, right away. If indeed he orchestrated an attack on himself, he has done what almost everyone else does on social media every day. He found a way to get people to notice him. He found a way to get not just 15 minutes of fame but a way to be a victim. He wants this kind of attention for some reason – the attention that acting on Empire just isn’t giving him. I remember the Smollet kids acting on TV when they could barely walk. They were adorable and talented and had many fans. They are no strangers to the spotlight, yet, Jussie has a void to be filled. What happened to him between his role in The Mighty Ducks and now? What has happened to so many of us? Why are so many of our young people anxious and depressed? They should be embracing youth and checking out new things and pushing boundaries towards greater things and we should be supporting and guiding them not spoiling them, ignoring them or cutting them down. They should not be staging attacks or throwing chairs from high-rises. Have we forgotten how to be okay with who we are? To be satisfied with our opinion of ourselves? I think so. Sadly.  It is ironic, the term, Social Media. Being social is supposed to be a good thing. A social person is thought to be friendly, outgoing and a person who enjoys the company of others and enjoys lifting themselves and others to a higher level of happiness. Social media to me seems more like social slaughter at times and some of the things that are said require not just a thick skin but a suit of armor.

Taking in the way life is being lived around me now, makes me unsure of where I fit in. I used to care about so many things. I used to love to write. I loved speaking up and sharing my thoughts and loved when I got a chance to see an awesome movie with a great script and talented performers or be moved by the lyrics of a well written and well-sung song. Lately, I’ve not found things that spark my interest. I look and I listen and I am finding that I roll my eyes a lot and then I get to the stage where I don’t care. I just don’t care. To me, that is a frightening statement about myself. I don’t care enough to voice my opinion, to tolerate the lack of effort put into where I sought entertainment (if you can burn it, blow it up or bury it you don’t need meaningful dialogue). I don’t care enough to even attempt to comment on a post I may have read. I got to a stage where I’d start typing and then I’d delete and move on…now I just move on. The thing is, I want to care. I want to be a part of things but I can’t seem to find anything substantial to take part in.

I know the onus is on me to re-invent myself. No one can get me out of this rut but me. I won’t try to care about things I really don’t want to include in my life. I’m not a part of the instant gratification movement of the youth and I don’t want to throw my arms in the air and make everything an issue like many late 20 something to 30 something-year-olds. I don’t want everything to be a situation or a problem and I’m not floundering to stay afloat after a full day of work and family like some forty-somethings. I’m not ready to join any one group in solidarity and go against “the man” and I am not interested in topics about raising children because I raised mine very differently from the way people raise children today. My children are grown and capable and I all I have to say to the hovering parents of young kids today is “good luck”. I know I’m not ready to sit still and wait for my life to end but I am truly searching for something, somewhere and some way to become passionate again and find a new happy niche in the current world. I’m not sure where to start but I know I’ll get there. I know I will find a way to fulfill my soul again even if it means meandering about the absurd obstacles this world presents on the daily.  Maybe when I find it, I’ll tell you what it is …then again…. maybe I won’t.

unremarkable … REMARKABLE!

There was a time in my life when my mind was open to anything being possible. I believed in praying and being fulfilled. I believed that doing the right thing as much as possible made me a good person in the eyes of God and if I did as I was told, adhered to what I was taught in the catechism classes, went to confession and tried never to repeat my sins I would have a good life. I was a child. I became a teenager. I was young and I had a good life. I wanted it all. I got older and my eyes were seeing real life and I went from wanting it all to wanting just enough. I wanted to be like they say in medical reports “unremarkable”. I did not want any drama. I wanted the most regular of lives. I wanted things to stay as calm and uneventful as they were. I just wanted to fly under the radar.

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I got what I wanted for a while. I flew under the radar but I always had a strange feeling that the other shoe was going to drop and when it did, it shattered my “unremarkable” world. I no longer believed in miracles – only hard work and luck. I didn’t believe that it was worthwhile to ask so that I should receive. I barley knew where to seek in order to find my answers and I had given up knocking because so many doors were closed to me. For 16 years since the shoe plummeted to earth, I have been waiting to hear God. Over 16 years, in spite of my tumultuous relationship with Him, He has answered me occasionally, in spite of whom I’d become but I never heard Him. I never got the answers to the questions I had asked time and again. Why was I going through what I had been going through? What was I supposed to do? What did this journey mean? What was I waiting on? What was going to happen? I heard my voice directing my instincts and I thought that may have been Him speaking to me, but I never believed that it was. I had lost anything in me that pointed me toward blind faith. I tended towards logic and the scientific. I based my conclusions on facts. The hardest thing for a person raised with religion who faces daily adversity is to balance faith with fact. Faith, for a person like me at times became fantasy but when I watched the faithful find success, I knew they were doing something I used to know how to do, once upon a time…only in my grief, in my anger, in my frustration, I forgot how use faith and my faith melted into fear and it crippled me.

One night, after 16 years, I had one of those moments that is freakishly unique to me. I believe we all have bizarre moments that only we alone feel and can describe. One moment I get from time to time is a feeling that lasts about 3 seconds where I get a calm sensation that all is well. All is as it should be and it makes me smile. It is a brief, wonderful, peaceful feeling. My unique moment that night was new. I ditched my rosary and my usual prayers to try and talk to God. I wanted to try and hear him – again.

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I sat alone in my room and quietly uttered words like I was explaining what I was searching for to a friend. Then I sat with my legs crossed, turned my palms upward and closed my eyes and waited. I didn’t wait very long before I shut off my own voice and heard a voice that was very familiar to me, then another and another before the original familiar voice spoke again.

Without getting into details I will say that by allowing myself to be truly still for what I believe is the first time in 16 years, I got my answers and I accepted them because I understood them and it felt amazing. It was freeing. The tears were brief but they were happy ones. They were tears of relief and of gratitude. I suppose it  – this feeling – these answers were worth the wait. I have been left with a sense of true acceptance of the tasks of my journey. I have been left with a stronger appreciation of my blessings.  I find myself lighter, secure in the knowledge that my life, albeit challenging in so many ways, is supposed to be this way and for the first time in 16 years, I’m truly okay with it. Everything I have, everything I have achieved has been earned. Everything I don’t understand, I am certain I soon will. And the things I am waiting on, will come to me when the time is right. That night, I accepted patience. That night, I learned that I have to be kinder to myself and cut myself some slack often. I must continue to work hard and try hard but to also be okay with just taking a break when I want to and not dwell on outcomes or incessantly search for answers. What I felt that night made me realize that I am being taken care of. I realize that I am not unnoticed. I understand that the path I walk is my path and no one will ever walk it better than I do. That night, I finally found the joy of living the life I live, with all it’s twists and turns because I am the only one who can live it this well. I certainly was never meant to fly under the radar. I was not meant to be unremarkable.

I have always believed there is something greater than me. I don’t know the bible very well. I have struggled with my relationship with God. But in all my ups and downs with my faith, I never let it go. I am a spiritual person. I use my faith like a life line tethering me to a boat as I jump in and swim in choppy waters, riding the waves as best as I can. I have sunk many times but it has always been there within reach and I have  grasped it tightly many times and pulled myself back to where I needed to be. Gone are the days when I scheduled going to mass every single weekend into my life. On some days in this life of mine, I have been called to be the person who removes all extra activity from our day and be the one who keeps the weekend uneventful, with just the four of us being at home together, doing whatever it is we feel like doing. Some weekends I am called to be my husband’s wife and my children’s mother, doing things together as a family before a busy week begins. Some weekends we go to mass and every time we do, it is special. I think when we do go, we see things through different eyes and listen to and interpret words in a new way and we appreciate being there sharing that hour together.

I had a beautiful connection that night and I feel changed. I don’t feel worn down thinking about the things I have to do or the way I have to do them. I am satisfied that in the instances where I know I have given my best with no positive results, I have done nothing wrong and I have to accept that while I cannot control the actions of others, I have to believe that my efforts will bear fruit in time. I feel okay about things being a little more difficult for me and my family. I feel okay with having to take 10 steps to an end result when other people may only have to take 2. I feel okay with the struggles I have waded through and I don’t expect that much will change or become stupidly easy from this point on, but who else better to deal with shit and turn it into magic and joy than me. I have solid partners in my three men. They give me immeasurable strength so I can get us all where we need to be. My life is certainly not charmed but it is substantial because I am “remarkable” just the way I was meant to be. It may have taken 16 years but I can finally say I can hear Him and I know now everything is just as it should be, things are going to be just fine and for this realization that took so long to materialize, I am remarkably grateful.

Remarkable-Sermon-Series-Idea

 

To Today’s Youth: Stay Loud, Stay Strong!

Yesterday, I went on a 12 hour day trip with my 15 year old. Every so often I plunge myself into this world of his that is so fascinating to me and I come away with a greater sense of what it is like to be young today. I have to say, it’s a little complicated, it’s got it’s difficulties but is it also it’s pretty cool. It is quite different from my time as a teenager but some of the struggles are still the same.  The worst part of being a teenager is being misunderstood by adults who are just teenagers who finally got old enough to have their way and boy do they ever hang on to it for dear life!  My teenagers are going to be adults one day too who will have their way and my only hope is that they remember to listen and approach the younger generation with eyes and mind wide open and be okay with letting go of some of the ways they do things in order to evolve. I hope they approach the young better than we have in generations past because just maybe they would learn something from them, the way I do now.

During the drive with my son, I listened to some very poetic and emotional rap with enlightened ears and learned why my son identified with it. I was taught the difference between talking to a specific girl and dating a girl. I found out that in his high school, it is understood that different groups exist and are accepted. It doesn’t mean you have to hang out with everyone but it certainly means that if you are discovered to be a hater you are considered a loser and pretty much a cave person. I learned that he is ever so gradually making decisions about things in his life that are making little statements about who he is and who is is striving to be and I couldn’t be more proud.  One thing was clear to me in light of my conversations with my son yesterday, good kids are raised by good people but there are still too many negative people and situations that we have to get around, so much archaic nonsense we need to get rid of, that stand in the way of our youth making significant change.

Last weekend I watched American youth march for what they believed in. They marched for change. They were not asking their government for anything unreasonable. They want their government to implement stricter gun control, implement stricter laws surrounding weapons. They were asking their government to help them live. They were asking their government to help them survive at school, a place where they should be safe so that they can learn. The world watched a turn out on March 24th that was massive. The youth had a voice and stayed strong amidst many horrible comments from politicians funded by the NRA as well as the ignorant masses who were solely concerned about their right to own a gun. The positive support these young people received outweighed the crass negativity. The youth stayed loud and strong and they prevailed.

Over the course of history, it was the young who initiated significant change. The young possess and fire and a drive to live life the way they want to – the way life needs to be lived. They want safety, they want justice, they want humanity, they want peace and so did we when we were young. Young David Hogg, Parkland, Florida”s Stoneman Douglas High School  shooting survivor, said in an interview with Anderson Cooper before the event on March 24th, “It’s like when you try to tell an older person how to do something with their phone and you keep trying to explain to them what to do and eventually you just turn to them and say ‘just give it to me’ and you fix it. That’s what we are doing now. We are saying to the government just give it to us. You’re not doing anything to fix this so we are going to fix it”. For many of us, that burning flame inside us that drove us to make a difference was extinguished. Maybe we hit hard times, maybe we were tired of trying and being beaten down but when we looked behind us there was always someone young  who picked up that torch and began walking towards that goal of achieving all the things we all ever wanted as a people on earth. That is what is happening in America now. The young are tired of waiting on adults to fix the problems in their society so they are stepping up to the plate and do what needs to be done to stop 96 Americans from losing their lives to guns daily, because it is possible. Japan, Australia, Canada, Finland and many countries have proven that strict gun control law is the best way to prevent death by firearms. We have all seen the videos on social media and the stats. It is possible, yet America chooses not to amend gun laws because politicians need the funding, the funding comes from the NRA and politicians want to be in power to rule over the people who may not survive a gunshot wound on any given day in America.  Add to that, the ignorant masses who just want to have a gun for the power it gives them as they clutch it tightly in their hands.  No one looking from the outside really understands this twisted concept neither do the young people who are rallying against lax gun ownership laws. No one with half a brain understands why grown men and women are trying to character smear teenagers who just want to see their government make it harder for their peers to walk into a gun shop and buy an automatic rifle so they can return to school and slaughter students and teachers.

I love young people. Young people who possess the qualities of leadership make me proud to know them. They don’t just pop out of thin air either. They come from adults who teach and guide them as they navigate their way around right and wrong and around equality and injustice and good and evil. Good youth come from good people who raise them – parents, teachers, clergy and yes, occasionally good politicians.

I am so tired of the criticism of today’s youth because they happen to have grown up in the biggest and most impacting technological era of our time. I am tired of hearing older people criticize them for not socializing and for having their head down, eyes glued to the screens of their devices. My God, remember when youth were criticized for watching too much TV? Remember when Rock and Roll and Heavy Metal was looked upon as Devil Worship Music? To be young is to be criticized. That will never change because when people grow older and are unable to keep up with the way things evolve around them, they get jealous and grumpy and they say exactly what older people said about them when they were young. If you can’t find a place to be on the planet as it changes around you, don’t be cynical, just be quiet and kind because if you are, maybe that young person will help you turn on your phone.