Wasn't Jesus the original hippie? With his sandals, dress and kind, compassionate, tender, joyful nature? What a loaded word that is! I am oftentimes called a hippie – in some ways, I am, some not. I am an Older Mom with Young Kids and Older Kids, Four in All – Remarried, Striving to make a Step Family with Love and God's help.
Bairavee Balasubramaniam PhD’s new series
I have not even watched her video yet, but reading the title this Easter morning, hits me like a ton of bricks.
You see, that’s where I am, exactly – smack dab in the middle of releasing this old shit and embracing the new.
You see, I hate holidays. Hate them with a passion. Hated them growing up as they highlighted everything I did not have: a close family, home cooking, people who enjoyed being around home talking and laughing. People who functioned as a family unit.
And I hate them now. As I know, I am dangerously close to repeating the cycle with my children as my husband and I struggle to deal with some pretty serious crap that life has deposited on our plate.
I get it, as an almost 50 year old, that we all have the same problems, the same issues and feelings and emotions. It’s just that some of us have figured out how to handle them in better ways and the rest of us; well, the rest of us just can’t wait to get back to work and know our children are safely in school so we can relax a bit.
I will give you an example.
So last night, my almost 60 year old husband has two incredible degrees but we are in the midst of ‘redefining ourselves’, ‘starting companies’, ‘switching industries’ and so he is humbly handing out samples at Costco to help make ends meet. I am completing our taxes, and the irony that I made more in high school than I did last year hits me hard. I’m tired. His mother and sister, who I have basically been estranged from for the last few years come over to do eggs with our daughters. They basically do not speak to me nor look me in the eye. His sister is battling cancer. His mother has severe knee and back problems, perhaps a bit of dementia coming on. Hell, even our dog is limping.
It feels like we’ve all been through a war zone these past few years. And I say that lightly knowing that even as bad as our problems are, the good part of the rest of the world’s problems are far, far greater, but it has been ‘Hard’ … Hard, with a capital H.
And I cannot tell you how many times I have picked up the pieces and tried to come back to love and forgiveness when all I feel like doing is yelling and screaming and crying.
Last night, my husband gets home exhausted, and out from our house walks my 14 year old son (his stepson) with his neighborhood friend who is … barefoot.
Why is that a big deal? My husband is a pretty private person plus he has OCD. Not the ‘oh my Gosh, I need things clean’ popular version, but I am speaking of the medical mental illness version. It’s hard for him. I get that. He likes everyone to take off their shoes when they come in the house. On top of that, he grew up with this notion that not wearing shoes was a disgusting, white trash habit, meaning that you were raised most likely without caring parents, wearing dirty clothes, smelling, unwashed, uncared for and pathetic.
I, on the other hand, grew up … barefoot.
I grew up in Texas and remember most summers spending the majority of the time without shoes and loving it.
All of my kid’s friends know the standard greeting from my husband in the Moon household, ‘SHOES! Take off your shoes’. And my husband and I regularly bicker when I let our daughters go run around in our yard barefoot.
And what made it worse was that my 14 yo son lied.
‘Where are so and so’s shoes? He was in our house walking around without shoes and dirty feet??’, my husband bellowed at the 14 yo. ‘He better have not been walking around.’
‘No, he just stayed by the door.’ (Wrong. He did not.)
An argument ensues between my husband and my son as my son says ‘but the girls walk outside and inside barefoot all the time.’ (Ahhh, stepchildren and comparisons, so much fun. Really. Not.)
Holidays at the Moon’s have started with the traditional yelling and screaming.
And now I am faced with a choice. For a few minutes, I give in to the urge to argue with my husband in the ‘I really hate you and wish you’d drop dead’ vein. I fantasize about a divorce and fill out the ‘GetaDivorceNow’ paperwork on the internet for the sixth time.
My daughters plead for us to just get along.
And then I walk out the door … barefoot.
I walk down to the river feeling the cool grass in between my toes. It is quiet. I listen to the ducks and watch a river rat cross our boat basin. A crane hangs out beneath the spot light. One of our neighbors sits on the other side with his dogs also watching the river. The darkness envelops me in comfort and silence.
Somehow just being barefoot against Mother Earth comforts and calms me.
And I keep thinking about the Course in Miracles quote that I listened to earlier in the day from Marianne Williamson’s recordings saying that the only thing that can truly hurt us is our own mind.
Our own mind.
I don’t claim to fully understand this as if we are physically run over by a car or shot or otherwise hurt, it seems other things beyond our mind can cause pain and suffering, but I believe that the point is … to realize and accept our part in all of this. Life. And then to respond to whatever circumstances we have been given with authenticity, with joy, with love and with forgiveness.
No small order. I get that.
But I’m learning … slowly … how to walk a new path. And I’m walking it barefoot.
Colette O'Neill, Innovator of Goddess Permaculture ~Plantswoman ~ Teacher ~ Writer and Photographer
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