Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Watch the full episode. See more Oregon Art Beat.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Note to Self...

You Can Make It - Go On
(Take 6)

Ain't you sick and tired of going 'round in circles?
Talking 'bout your problems 'til you're all blue
Don't mean to be rude, sure don't mean to bust your groove
Well, you're sure 'nuff talking, but whatcha gonna do?

It's one thing to believe and to know you can achieve
It's another thing to do it 'til you see your dreams come true
The river won't divide 'til you put your fears aside
Step on in it, 'til you win it
And we'll see you on the other side

Don't you know that it's time, gotta make up your mind
Time to run 'cuz the battle's already won
Whatcha gonna do? The choice is up to you
Time to win! Ain't no time for giving in

It's one thing to believe and to know you can achieve
It's another thing to do it 'til you see your dreams come true
The river won't divide 'til you put your fears aside
Step on in it, 'til you win it
And we'll see you on the other side

Thursday, April 29, 2010

"I'm reading..."

One morning the husband returns after several hours of fishing and decides to take a nap. Although not familiar with the lake, the wife decides to take the boat out. She motors out a short distance, anchors, and reads her book.

Along comes a Game Warden in his boat. He pulls up alongside the woman and says, "Good morning, Ma'am. What are you doing?" "Reading a book" she replies, thinking: Isn't that obvious?

"You're in a Restricted Fishing Area," he informs her. "I'm sorry, officer, but I'm not fishing. I'm reading."

"Yes, but you have all the equipment. For all I know you could start at any moment. I'll have to take you in and write you up."

"For reading a book?" she replies,

"You're in a Restricted Fishing Area," he informs her again.

"I'm sorry, officer, but I'm not fishing. I'm reading."

"Yes, but you have all the equipment. Again, for all I know you could start at any moment. I'll have to take you in and write you up."

"If you do that, I'll have to charge you with sexual assault," says the woman. "But I haven't even touched you," says the Game Warden.

"That's true, but you have all the equipment. For all I know you could start at any moment."

"Have a nice day Ma'am"...and he left.

MORAL: Never argue with a woman who reads. It's likely she can also think.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Making Peace with One's Parents

As I have shared in an earlier post, Discovering My "Tribe", I am on a voyage of self-discovery and self-improvement through counseling and it was through my counselor that I discovered Mary Edwards Wertsch’s Military Brats: Legacies of Childhood Inside the Fortress. In the last chapter, Ms. Wertsch describes four tasks that Military Brats must accomplish if we are to bring balance into our lives. These tasks are: dismantling one's myths, healing the wounds, making peace with one's parents, and addressing the question of belonging.

I'm not going to write at length here about what I've read, but I do want to quote a passage in the explanation of the third task, "Making Peace with One's Parents" (p405) that hit me like a ton of bricks. Ms. Wertsch was describing a dream she had:
It took place in the backyard of our quarters on some Army post of my childhood...I could not glean many details from just my peripheral vision; my gaze was focused entirely on my father's face, and he was standing so close I could feel the warmth of his breath.  My mother was standing there too, equally close, so that the three of us formed a kind of tight triangle. I was an adult, the age I was when I had the dream.

My father was looking intently at me. But instead of the usual hard, cold glare, his eyes were vulnerable and pleading. He opened his mouth and after a moment's hesitation spoke a single sentence, with great feeling. It was obviously an enormous effort for him to keep his voice from breaking. Still searching my eyes, unblinking, he said,
"Tell me what it takes to be a good father."

Even in the dream, the question stunned me. It was something I had never imagined I would ever hear my father say, so incompatible was it with everything I had observed in this fierce and unrepentant man. In a flash all sorts of other questions were raised in my mind. What had happened to change him so? Why was he asking me now, after my brother and I were adults? Was this an admission of accountability for so much of our pain? Was it an apology?

He was still staring at me, pleading with his eyes. I realized in the most profound depths of my being that I must not hesitate longer. I must answer, and my answer must respect his pain, his dignity, and the seriousness of the question. Above all, my answer must offer him a chance.

"First of all," I said slowly, as our eyes held, "thank you for asking me." I paused.
"The most important thing for a good father is to keep the lines of communication open."

His eyes, still vulnerable, registered gratitude. I had said the right thing. In that instant, still holding one another's gaze, I felt a connectedness of our hearts, and I knew our relationship had redefined itself.
Cued by my dream, I began - slowly - to consider that I had better get to work on dismantling a whole package of myths about my father's villainy, and perhaps about my own self-proclaimed innocence.

Reading this, I came to realize that I must do the regards my mother, my father, my children and most of all my husband. It's the only way I will ever...finally...grow up.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

The Art of Being True to Yourself

"I've heard her called a quitter for aimless wanderer. But not all who wander are aimless. Especially not those who seek truth beyond tradition...beyond definition...beyond the image." ~from Mona Lisa Smile
I would like to think that I am like Julia Roberts' character, Katherine Ann Watson: "A free-thinking art professor (who) teaches conservative 50's Wellesley girls to question their traditional societal roles."* Katherine's ideal was to "inspire her students to look beyond the image of what is and consider the possibilities of what could be"**...which is what I hope for my students as well.

I am afraid, however, that I'm more like Betty Warren, who bought into her parents' illusions until her own reality stripped them away...and learned that "personal happiness lies beyond other people's expectations." Or Giselle Levy, who used sex to feel loved and "lives for physical bliss uncolored by emotional danger of being deeply shattered when she is rejected by the unattainable man she thinks can heal her hidden pain." And then there's Nancy Abbey, living a lonely life and feeling betrayed by the elite society she was born into...and Connie Baker, whose "low self esteem keeps her from recognizing the moment when a special love is offered to her."**

But Katherine received a reality check of her own when she was told that her attitude made it impossible for others to be honest with her. Bill Dunbar fabricated an entire life of heroism to hide his own insecurities.

And when Joan Brandwyn revealed that she made the choice for herself to marry and have children rather than pursue her law degree, Katherine realized her own arrogance in assuming that all the Wellesley girls were blindly following in their mothers' footsteps with complete disregard for their own aspirations.

Perhaps I am all of these women, and Bill as well...teaching students to value their creativity - express their individuality - while taking my own creativity and individuality for granted and making assumptions that all of my students want what I have to give them...kicking and screaming my way through stripping away the illusions of my culture...learning to heal my own hidden pain, overcome my insecurities, and find true intimacy.

I'm tired of hiding who I really am...from myself most of all. Underneath it all, I do seek truth beyond tradition...beyond definition...beyond the image.

Sources:   * IMDb "Mona Lisa Smile"   ** Mona Lisa Smile - Official Site

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Discovering My "Tribe"

Pat Conroy, author of The Great Santini, in his introduction to Mary Edwards Wertsch’s Military Brats: Legacies of Childhood Inside the Fortress:
This is my paradox. Because of the military life, I’m a stranger everywhere and a stranger nowhere. I can engage anyone in a conversation, become well-liked in a matter of seconds, yet there is a distance I can never recover, a slight shiver of alienation, of not belonging, and an eye on the nearest door. The word goodbye will always be a killing thing to me, but so is the word hello. I’m pathetic in my attempts to make friends with everyone I meet, from cabdrivers to bellhops to store clerks. As a child my heart used to sink at every new move or new set of orders. By necessity, I became an expert at spotting outsiders. All through my youth, I was grateful for unpopular children. In their unhappiness, I saw my chance for rescue and I always leapt at it. When Mary writes of military brats offering emotional blank checks to everyone in the world, she’s writing the first line in my biography.
I grew up knowing no one well, least of all myself, and I think it damaged me. I grew up not knowing if I was smart or stupid, handsome or ugly, interesting or insipid. I was too busy reacting to the changing landscapes and climates of my life to get a clear picture of myself. I was always leaving behind what I was just about ready to become. I could never catch up to the boy I might have been if I’d grown up in one place.
I am so grateful to my counselor for recommending this book to me! I’ve only just begun reading the excerpts available online, but the little I’ve read so far resonates like nothing ever has before. Mary describes military brats as belonging to a tribe of our own, that we "are America's most invisible minority", and although "many aspects of warrior life described in this book are not unique to the Fortress, that does not detract from the uniqueness of Fortress life. It is the particular combination of characteristics, as well as its own self-perception, that sets the Fortress apart from civilian society."

One more quote from the preface of Mary Edwards Wertsch’s Military Brats: Legacies of Childhood Inside the Fortress that I think is important to include here:
I would like to pose some challenges to the readers of this book.
To civilians: I challenge you to break down your stereotypes of military people that imprison us in simplistic cartoon figures speaking in balloons. If you listen to the voices in this book, you will find that the Fortress is a world of many-layered complexity; its warriors are not so easily dismissed as posturing martinets; its wives are not automatons; and we children might surprise you.

To military parents: I challenge you to listen to your children when they come to you with tough questions that sound uncomfortably close to recriminations. Underneath the hard surface of their questions they may well be saying, “There is so very much we weren’t allowed to talk about – so much stress, so much loss, so much love. Now we are trying to figure it all out, and it would help if we could acknowledge it together, talk it through, let it go.”

To military brats: I challenge you to go against the grain of all our socialization inside the Fortress, and question everything about your experience there, including all your assumptions about yourself and your family. Where there is pain to face, I ask you to call on the courage and determination that are part of your warrior legacy, and face it. In this book you will find you are not alone; there are many voices joining with yours, and because they share not only their pain but the wisdom they have gained through it, there is comfort as well. I believe you will find, as I have, that the Fortress legacy is rich in strengths, and we have much of which to be proud.