On keeping my mouth shut.

12 05 2020

For as long as I can remember, I have been known to speak before thinking. Coupled with a bit of a temper, a dash of impatience and a sprinkle of intolerance, my reputation of having a big mouth has preceded me for years. I’ve put up with teasing from my friends, I’ve laid awake at night kicking myself for being unnecessarily outspoken. I’ve tried and tried to bite my tongue. I’ve counted to ten before saying what I felt I needed to say and many times, I have pressed my lips together, and swallowed my thoughts entirely, where they churned in discontent in my stomach. I have hated this part of me for so long, that I often waiver in my resoluteness of my point of view and am fearful of alienating others by voicing how I feel.

Indeed, I know there is a time and place for speaking up. There are also invaluable lessons in staying silent and listening. Listening is hard, you guys. I feel too many of us are too busy planning on what we are going to say next instead of actually hearing what is being said. I have no claim on innocence in this little part of being human.

Lately, though, I have started to question my distaste for this part of me. Why should I dislike my ability to speak up? Is it an ingrained patriarchal throwback that girls must be sweet and demure and quiet? Have I overstepped the boundaries of social etiquette too often or have I tossed the archaic ideal of female acquiescence and challenged the status quo? Well, no, and maybe yes. I’m not absolving my litany of verbal faux-pas in any attempt to leverage my feminism. I’m no Gloria Steinem. But. BUT. As I look back on my many many incidences of speaking my truths, the ones that I am most proud of were in the face of unfairness, bias and discriminatory stances. I can’t crow about changing anyone’s mind, but I sure as hell can be proud of coming to the defense of something I firmly believe in.

Things have drastically shifted in my life, and I have been gifted time. Time to reflect, question, ponder, think. I putter in my gardens, or I walk my dog, all the while watching my thoughts flow through me like water. Sometimes it’s a burbly creek, happy and cute and indulgent, one where I can sit on the banks and cool my feet in, but at other times, it’s a raging river, icy with freshet and dangerous with it’s ability to whisk me away and drag me under. Both are important. Both need listening to. I can observe without engaging, if I am lucky enough to be in a good mindset. Other times, the desire to fling myself from the safety of the bank and risk the rapids is too much and I get lost in the turbulence of self-deprecation.

I wrote about clarity earlier this year, as we began a new decade. It was my chosen word to live by in 2020. As the recent turn of events unfolded, I wondered if I was wrong. But I now believe the planet is shaking us all up. Throwing the scales from our eyes. Wake up, Mother Earth is telling us. It’s okay to use your voice to demand fairness or call out lies or challenge inequity. To stand up strong in the clarity of our own volition.

There have been repercussions to speaking up. If there weren’t any, then I wouldn’t be writing this right now. I know I’ve angered and alienated people, I know that my voice might have hurt others. When I have stood up and spoke my truth with my fist raised, it has led to some relationships crumbling away to ghosts of their former selves. Guilt has eaten away at me, nibbling like a mouse. I mourn these losses, I ache to make amends but I know I can’t do this without being detrimental to my own beliefs. I cannot any longer hold the blame all on my own. It is who I am. I won’t apologize for this anymore, because it would be akin to apologizing for me. I owe this much to myself. I can only move forward with my own clarity, my own willingness to listen and honouring my own strength with no apologies.


Silver Linings

4 05 2020

Well, here we are. Here we all are, right now, all of us in this very moment. Together.

Extra layers have been peeled away from us: like onions, we shed that papery protective skin so that our utmost and innate humanity can come through. As this pandemic grew in severity, we fumbled towards clarity and truth.

Moment to moment, emotions danced, they ebbed and flowed like tides within our souls. This dark fear and anxiety married sleepless nights with long afternoon naps. When awake, we move zombie-like through unknown territory, the what-ifs hovering on our tongues, questions we are too afraid to ask ourselves. For if we say them out loud it might make them too real to stomach.

It has shaken us to our core. And for many, all of a sudden all we have is time. At first some of us got busy, deep cleaning the bathroom grout and organizing sock drawers. Others created edible masterpieces with ingredients in their kitchens, filling their bellies with hope. Some of us found we couldn’t move at all, that each day dawned as a void to fill, haunting in its lonely queries of “what shall we do today?” Many of us mourned the loss of plans. Weddings, festivals, trips, birthdays, graduations. We feel angry. Ripped off. We ask ourselves “Why ME?” as thousands and millions of other me’s ask the same thing. Guilt assaults us as we remain unmotivated to work out or eat salads instead of grilled cheese and potato chips. We give in to tears. We allow laughter to take us away. Social media takes on a whole new level of connection, providing more opportunities to stay in touch, even though we struggle with feelings of disconnection and isolation.

Others have no time. They are busy working, but still riddled in fear and anxiety about risk. Hands raw from washing and hearts raw from worry, they continue their days as “essential services”, a mantle which didn’t truly get the gratitude it deserved until now. Others begin to see their importance and recognize how much we need them and our hearts grow. We are in debt to these people, we offer them words of recognition whenever we can.

Others ache to help. They create networks and spread their intent to be in service of those in need and all of a sudden a request for help is inundated with offers. Neighbours looking out for one another. Love and kindness are given freely, so much so, if we could could put a dollar value on this new exchange, we’d all be millionaires. Nothing is expected in return as we now see that connection and love and kindness repay our hearts and souls in immeasurable amounts. A promise of a hug in the future is enough. The simplicity of it all is astonishing. It is that easy.

Grief is tangible. The loss of life is beyond staggering. It humbles us and tosses aside any pretext of doubt as we apply the possibility to us, to our own loved ones. Seeking solace in safety, we mask up and stay away, even though our hearts cry out how foreign and wrong it feels. Our elders are kept from us, tucked safely away, when all we want is to hold their hands, share tea and stories with them before it’s too late.

Our hands want to hold, our arms need to embrace. We are starving for each other. We are paused. It seems as though we are still inhaling. Holding. Waiting for that exhale to begin. Waiting for glimmers of normalcy to flicker into view.

The silver linings are there for all of us to take in. Some might question what they consider important when life gets back to “normal” even if “normal” never comes back. What truly matters? Did our fast-paced consumer-driven lives fill us up as much as we thought it did? Will we seek more quiet and less busy even when busy calls our names? Will we measure want versus need with clearer vision? Will we hold our judgement of others if they choose to dive back into their old lives with joy? Can we remain connected to this re-birth of awareness in the new world?

We will come through this, shaken and scarred and changed in ways words can never describe. But we will come through. And we will celebrate and love each other and hug one another so damn much.