The Question Box and The Flesh Colored Crayon

July 16, 2013 in Articles

Once upon a time there was a beautiful little girl. Her skin was the color of dark mocha. Her hair was joyfully bouncy, and curled like baby grapevines do. It was as black as darkest night. Her teeth glistened white and her lips were full. Her smile shone like light breaking through clouds.

One day the beautiful little girl was coloring with crayons. She colored the sky “B…L…U…E.”, reading the color and drawing the sky. She drew a peach tree and colored the leaves on it “G…R…E…E…N. “ She picked up a crayon to color the peaches. “F…L…E…S…H,” was what that crayon said.

“Momma,” the girl asked, “what does FLESH mean?” Her momma said, “It means skin, my baby. Why do you ask?”

The beautiful little girl answered with another question; “Why does this crayon say flesh then? My skin is like chocolate, not like peaches.”

The girl’s momma – whose skin was dark as dusk – didn’t cry, though she wanted to. Instead, she gently picked up the crayon, and said, “That’s a question for later, dearest one.”

The girl’s momma took a box from a cabinet and put the “flesh” colored crayon into it. “This is your question box.” the girl’s momma said, “When you have a question I’m not ready to answer, we’ll save it for later in here.”

The little girl took the box and drew on it. She loved her question box, and guarded it like a box of treasures. After all, it was a box of treasures. The box was filled with the girl’s deepest curiosities.

Over the years the girl grew, and she put questions of all sorts in the box. Sometimes they were in the form of objects, like the crayon, sometimes drawings, and later it was written notes. She and her mother would take the questions out one by one, and her mother would answer the ones she felt ready to.

It was a long time before the girl’s momma was ready to answer the question about the flesh colored crayon. But answer she did. She told her daughter a story about her ancestors, and about the world. The momma told her daughter about dark and night and the unknown. She told her about fairness and what’s right.

And the girl’s momma gave her a gift. Though the beautiful girl was no longer little, and didn’t really color with crayons anymore, her momma handed her a crayon that was the same color as the one from years before. The crayon said, “P…E…A…C…H.”

The daughter and the momma both smiled. In that moment they knew for certain that there was a right time for every question, and a right time for every answer.

*****

How to Make A Question Box

Honoring Your Child’s Questions with Answers
Sometimes the most honest answer is “That’s not a question I’m ready to answer.” If that’s the case, follow up appropriately. Let your child know when you would be willing to revisit the topic – whether it’s in a couple of days, or when your kid is in the fifth grade, or when she or he is 13, or when you’ve sorted your thoughts and feelings out. Always be responsible and proactive with the follow-up.

How to Make Your Question Box

Having your own question box makes it easy to keep track of the questions you’re not ready to answer. A question box offers a structure that will honor your child’s question and your boundaries and comfort zones at the same time.

You will need:

1. A box. You can easily recycle one that’s the size you want, or you can use a sturdy, craft-ready wooden box from your local craft store. The box should be small enough to fit on a counter or desk, and large enough to hold items your wee one has questions about.

2. Paints, collage items (glue, scissors, etc), or drawing implements. Optional: sequins, bedazzlements, glitter, other fun stuff.

Once you’ve chosen a box, decorate it with your kid(s). Paint, collage, or draw on it. Get as fun and fancy as you like! Make your question box easy to open and close.

How to Use Your Question Box
When a question comes up that you’re not ready to answer, choose an item that will serve as a conversation-starter on the topic at a later date. This can be a piece of paper with the topic written on it, or an item that is symbolic of the topic.

Decide on a time when you will review the items in the box and answer the questions, or at least revisit them.

This piece is supplemental to an article called Seven Steps to Healthy Communication with Your Kids, also by Lasara Firefox Allen. Find this article and many others at www.LasaraFirefoxAllen.com.

Seven Steps to Healthy Communication with Your Kids

July 16, 2013 in Articles

lasara and girlsAs conscious parents working to create a better world, we know that the work – and joy – of it begins at home. Here are seven steps that offer you a foundation for clear and healthy communication with your most precious focus; your children.

1. Honor your kid’s questions with answers.

If your child is mature enough to formulate a question on a given topic, she is mature enough to get an honest answer from you. That answer should always be age appropriate, and within your comfort zone.

Sometimes an honest answer is “I don’t know,” or “That’s not a question I’m ready to answer.” If either of those are the case, follow up appropriately.

If you don’t know, you can always make it a research project for you and your kid to engage in together.

If you don’t feel comfortable answering a question because it gets into territory you feel conflicted about, own your boundary around it (see step 4), and let your child know when you would be willing to revisit the topic – whether it’s in a couple of days, or when your kid is in the fifth grade, or when you’ve sorted your stuff out. Always be responsible and proactive with the follow-up.

Bonus idea: Click here for directions on creating a “Question Box.”

2. Own your feelings.

Don’t make your discomfort your kid’s “fault.” If the question he has asked makes your hair stand on end and your face flush, know that your embarrassment, your discomfort, or your anger.

A danger inherent in parent-child communication is that your kid will take on your shame, your discomfort, or your unease. Or, in cases where a kid is a “mismatcher”, they may act out in opposition to your stance. If you don’t want your kids blindly falling into – or acting out in response to – your wounding, patterning, imprinting or behaviors, own your internal conflicts.

3. What isn’t said speaks more loudly than what IS.

Ignore it and it’ll go away? Not a chance. But sooner or later, your kid(s) will – especially if you’re unable to answer the questions brought to you. Sex, drugs, money; they’re all topics that may have been avoided in your family of origin. But do you want your kids getting answers from the same unreliable sources you did? (On the schoolyard, TV, your parents, the government?)

The conspicuous silences in your communication are an OUT LOUD statement – about what’s inappropriate, shameful, unmentionable. If you want your kids getting different messages than what you were handed, make sure you’re giving voice to your opinions.

Normalize the topics that make you want to freeze up. Talk with your friends, talk with your trusted advisors (your coach, your priest, your therapist, your doctor), talk with your parents, talk with your peers. Know that there’s a whole world of information out there. If you feel conflicted about your own ideas, educate yourself about different views.

If money was a hidden topic in your family and you feel that hasn’t served you in your quest for financial literacy, give your kids a head start by bringing them into alignment with your financial values.

If you want your kids to know that sex is a good thing to have clarity about, model it by having values-based conversations with your kids about how to define their own sexual values.

With your nonjudgmental guidance and conscientious modeling, this process can begin consciously before your kids are even bringing direct question to you for answers.

Bonus Idea: Use my Sexual Ethics questionnaire for a tool that will help you find a starting place for these discussions.

4. Own your boundaries.

We all need appropriate boundaries. Modeling boundaries is, in my opinion, one of the most resourceful gifts you can offer your kids. One of the best way to offer boundary awareness to your kids is to model healthy boundaries in your interactions with them.

This means that you have not only the right, but the responsibility to say “stop!” when your wee one is hurting you, to close the door when you need a minute to yourself, to go for a run on a daily basis – no matter how needy others might be feeling.

Your healthy boundary also makes a clear distinction, and allows you to own your limitations or discomfort. In the course of a conversation or other interaction with your kids, you are bound to occasionally come up against the edges of your comfort zone. In these moments, it creates clarity to own your boundary, and make it clear that any discomfort you feel is due to your own process, and not something that your young-one is doing wrong.

5. Respect your child’s boundaries.

Healthy boundaries go both ways. Another element of boundary in parenting that is all-too-often overlooked is this one; if you want your kids to know that their boundaries are to be respected, you must respect your kid’s “no.”

This can be tricky, but it must be worked out.

For example, sharing is a great value to instill. However, I know how I’d feel if someone came into my office and said “You aren’t using your cell phone right now. Let Joe use it.” My response would be along the lines of “Well, I don’t lend out my cell phone, but Joe is welcome to use the house phone.”

Yet, often parents will enforce sharing to such a degree that it can erode a kid’s sense of control. Negotiate with your young-one. Create agreed upon rules about sharing, such as designating certain items as “special” ones that they will never be asked to share.

With touch-related boundaries, it may be the most important to respect our kid’s voice. If little Aaron doesn’t like being grabbed and kissed by Aunt Joan, or tickled by his cousins, help him to voice his boundary.

Helping to set a boundary with Aunt Joan may be an uncomfortable moment, but everyone is sure to learn something in it, and Aaron is going to know that he never has to be touched in a way that’s not comfortable for him in order to make someone else feel better.

If we want our kids to have the power of knowing that boundaries are to be respected, we need to both model firm boundaries for ourselves and our kids, and respect our children when they place a boundary that is reasonable.

6. Respectful, loving touch fosters connection! Stay embodied.

Kids listen better when they feel safe. (We all do.) They also communicate better when they know you aren’t mad at them. (We all do.) Creating appropriate, loving connection through physical touch can help both parties stay present in an interaction.

There are many different modes for communication. Different types and levels of physical engagement are appropriate to different settings.

If your child enjoys horsing around, sometimes breaking the tension with a little tickling, wrestling or clowning around is totally appropriate. Or, sometimes massaging your kid’s neck while you chat might be just the right thing.

If your little one is feeling sad, ask if he wants a hug. If your child is feeling tender or vulnerable, it can be great to offer to just hold your kid while he cries. If that’s too much, or not desired, you can offer your hand for holding.

Most importantly, pay attention to your child’s physiological responses, and respond accordingly. If your kid prefers sitting side-to-side instead of face-to-face, talk while sitting on the couch.

One of my daughters loves to have sit-down meetings with her parents. She’s the younger kid, and loves all the attention being on her for the time that we give it. My older daughter, on the other hand, prefers a casual chat while in the car, out on a walk, or her favorite – while shopping.

The point is, every kid is different, with different needs, comfort levels, and desires regarding touch, embodiment and process. Pay attention to what makes your kid more comfortable, and communication will get easier.

Another way to stay embodied is to remember to breathe. If things get stressful, consciously choose to relax your body. Breath into the moment, and you will be more likely to respond the moment that is occurring, rather than reacting to how your dad responded when you brought up the same issue, and you were in the seat that your son is in.

There are two benefits to this practice; the first is that you will be more relaxed, which is a positive thing in and of itself. The second is that your child’s body will respond to your relaxation by matching it.

Whiling remaining conscious and respectful of boundary, connect with your kids on a physical level while you communicate with them. And, stay engaged with your own physiological center.

7. The model is the message.

“Do what I say, not what I do,” doesn’t work. Your kids believe you. They watch you. They look up to you. They learn from you. And, actions speak so much louder than words.

When my clients say demoralizing things about themselves, my standard response is “How would you feel if your kid did (or said, felt or thought) that? Because, she’s going to.” Your kids will, consciously or unconsciously, emulate your modeling.

In this way, self-care is taking care of your children. Your ability to take care of yourself is one of the best foundational messages you can offer your kids. If you don’t want your kids to smoke, quit smoking. If you are having a hard time quitting, talk with your kids about it.

When you make a commitment to shifting a pattern of your own behavior, you can also enroll your kid’s support. This is another opportunity to model resilient skills for your kids. Ask for the help and support you need. Explain why shifting the pattern is hard for you. Use it as an opportunity to educate your kids on good choice-making, using yourself as an example.

Transparency and integrity are areas that you may also choose to model. “I only smoke when I’m away from my kids,” may seem like a good way to limit the damage, but how would you feel if your kid said “Well, I only smoke when I’m away from you.”

When you tell your kids not to get in the car with anyone who’s drinking, and then drive them home from a party after you’ve had a beer, you’re sending a mixed message. It’s confusing, and builds in not only the space for justification in the particular (well, Jo isn’t drunk, so I guess it’s okay to get a ride with her…), but also the room for justification in other areas.

Do you obfuscate? Do you outright lie to your kids? If so, you are ultimately undermining your own authority. How do you think your kids will feel when they find out that you did inhale? If you lie to your kids, or if your behaviors and your words don’t match up, you are giving your kids a template for behaving in the same way. If you value transparency and honesty, model it.

Are you being a resourceful and integrated model for your kids? Here’s a good guideline; ask yourself, ‘If my kid were engaging in the behavior I’m engaging in, how would I feel about it?”

Bonus idea: Create a family charter of agreements.

Sustainable Family Values – How Values Grow.

You are always modeling your values. The tricky part is that we often have two sets of values – idealized values (the values we like to think we have) and applied values (the values we actually live by). If what you think you believe, and how you act in your day to day don’t match up, you’re out of alignment with your ideal values.

You can shift your values into alignment by changing your behaviors to match up with your beliefs. The steps I have offered in this article offer a great starting point for the work of coming into alignment.

The more consciously you engage with living your values, the more aligned your modeling will be with your ideal life. This is a true win/win situation; as you model the behavior that you would most want to see your children emulate, you begin living the best possible version of your life.

Bonus Idea: Define your family’s shared values.

meditating on vulnerability

July 16, 2013 in Articles

heartthere is a medicine
to staying open
feeling the pain
and staying present anyway

loving
anyway

heart aching
body cries out to clench down
closing seems safer

but over years and miles and trails of tears
I have learned
closing down carries its own price

searing
the light that hits my
darkest places
illuminates
i’m struck dumb
sit reeling
feeling
this is what
open
is

I pray the prayer of
I am safe, I am whole, I am safe, I am broken, I am safe, I am open, I am safe
the
I am safe
the central practice

healing into the center
i attempt to
uncurl
unfurl
expand the edges of this timid core
cuore
cor
heart
of courage

I push my fingers into my midline
hit the spine
pull fingers out to the
point
of ribs

protection hasn’t served
maybe exposure
of the vulnerable spots
will

i practice
breathing
I am safe. I am open. I am broken. I am whole.

this is a prayer.

Dilemmas of a Householder: Love is Presence

July 8, 2013 in Articles

flaming-heart-javier-250x352There was a time in my life where I so strongly desired to be in perfect Presence all the time that my desire for Presence became the greatest pain I had ever felt.

I sought ego death; annihilation of self into Self, the surrender of “I” into that which is greater than all Its parts combined.

The desire to merge with the supreme and eternal – whether you call It God, Brahman, Allah, nirvana, liberation, or any of the other words we might use to describe the ineffable – became unbearable. I was being driven mad by it. Separation from Itness (God, Krishna, Nirvana, Allah…) was agony. I desired always to surrender myself to this deeper home.

Hari, hear my plea.
Dark One, I am
your servant,
a vision of you has driven me mad.
Separation eats at my limbs.
Because of you
I’ll become a yogini and ramble
from city to city scouring the hidden quarters -
pasted with ash, clad in a deerskin
my body wasting
to cinder.
I’ll circle from forest to forest
wretched and howling -
O Unborn, Indestructible,
come to your beggar!
Finish her pain and touch her
with pleasure!
This coming and going will end,
says Mira,
with me clasping your
feet forever.

-Mirabai

I found myself struggling with the life choices I had made. “If only I were a sadhu,” I thought, “then I could give myself over, cease the thinking, the planning. I could give myself fully to Presence. I could constantly allow for the sweet surrender that is the greatest Union.”

But that choice, the path of the sadhu, the path of austerity, was not the choice I had made in building my life. I had two children to attend to. A husband. A career. I had deadlines to keep, money to make, children to care for, to love and support. The path of the householder.

For months the ache of longing and the confusion caused by my desire for Presence was like a sword stuck through my heart. The pain of separation was searing; almost unbearable.

But I had already made my choices about how I was going to spend my life; once a mother, always a mother. I could have left my career, I could have left my home, I could have left my husband. (As a matter of fact, the leaving of my now-ex-husband was already in the works.)

But I could never leave my children. The suffering caused would be too great.

And my love for them, I am almost guilty to admit, felt like a loadstone around my neck, heavy as an anchor, yet pointing in the only direction I could go; nowhere.

Finally I began asking, “What is Presence? How can I be committed to relationship with others, and Present in The Eternal at the same time? How do I stay Present in love?”

The question rolled around my mouth in wordless curls. It ricocheted through my mind. It bounced and bounded, banged against the edges of my self.

After weeks of weighty rumination, after hours of sitting on my zafu, after what felt like gallons of tears, and after surrendering fully to the burning pain of separation, I broke through the koan that had formed itself inside of me. In a moment of realization, the answer arrived, fully formed and lotus-like.

The question became the answer; “how can I be present in love” became, “love is Presence.” Love is not attachment. Attachment is not love.

Attachments are the causes of dukkha – often translated as suffering, though in my opinion this is a limiting interpretation of the term.

According to Tantra Yoga, these attachments are called kankucas, or “becloudings”. According to Georg Feuerstein, the kankucas can be translated as partiality, knowledge, attachment, time, necessity. Partiality, because we cease to allow for fullness of being. Knowledge, because we cease to allow for growth. Attachment, because it clouds possibility of outcome. Time, because it limits consciousness of the eternal. Necessity, because it limits us.

In Buddhist terminology, the attachments are called skandhas. The skandhas are form, sensation, perception, impulses, and consciousness.

Of these attachments, form is the strongest (and the easiest to encapsulate), because

1., form leads to the illusion of separation from the formless, and

2., because form is transitory, and attachment to form as self leads to dukkha.

The skandhas are the aggregates that form a sense of self, and are the causes of clinging.

All of the skandhas, or parts of the sense of self-as-form are the causes dukkha.

My attachment to what I considered the “perfect” form of Presence, was, at that time, causing my own suffering.

These are obstacles to liberation; the illusion of separation, and the expectations, desires, and responsibilities that we so often mistake as love and commitment.

As a householder, the desire for subsumption into the nondual must merge with the path of devotion, which is often a dualist form of worship. Moment to moment, we dance between mergence and devotion.

Loving in Presence is showing up to my relationship with my children, my husband, and my responsibilities in life in the fullness with which I show up to my relationship with the Divine.

How do we stay present in love? How do we stay Present in abiding relationships with mortal beings? By releasing the illusion of separation, moment to moment.

And when we find ourselves in separation, we stay Present by devoting ourselves to those we serve as if they were God Itself.

Because, after all, they are.

Women; Are You Ready to Embrace the Red Queen?

July 2, 2013 in Articles

attachment-3 Women;

Have you ever…
* Felt judged by other women for the way your are in the world; dress, choice of lovers, lifestyle, sexual conduct?
* Wondered if a female friend was a real friend, or a “frenemy”?
* Called another women (or women in general) “catty”?
* Felt constrained by a lack of shared language around competition between women?
* Been told by another woman, or other women, that your behaviors were inappropriate?
* Lowered your standards of behavior in order to stay friends with another woman, or women in your life?
* Hidden your power, or made yourself smaller, to avoid ostracization from the community of women?
* Felt abandoned by a woman, or women, in your life?

Have you ever…
* Wondered what might be possible if you were to actively participate in healing our collective “wounded feminine”?
* Longed for closer relationships with women?
* Believed that achieving ease and trust in our relationships as women is possible?
* Attempted to create healthier, more supportive relationships with women?
woman-hiding-in-abandoned-room-jill-battaglia* Desired a container for complete honesty in a circle of women?
* Wanted to heal yourself through the healing of your relationships with women?
* Dreamed a of a circle of women who are ready and willing to show up exactly as they (we) are?

Consider coming to my Embracing the Red Queen workshops and retreat. The work is deep, and it is time. Time to face the shadow of our collective woman wounds. Through healing ourselves, and participating in the healing of our web of women, we heal the world.

Visit www.EmbracingtheRedQueen.com for details, or PM me.

All love.

A New Generation of Fathers – Thank You, and Happy Fathers Day!

June 16, 2013 in Articles

2417095822_756b49db5a-e1277073015240A New Generation of Fathers – Thank You, and Happy Fathers Day!
Originally posted on June 20, 2010, edit June 2013

I have very few peers who were raised by both parents. I have many peers whose fathers were at best absent, and at worst abusive. Though truly, abandonment leaves scars nearly as readily as any other kind of abuse does.

Most of us struggled through our parent’s divorces as kids. According to statistics divorce is as prevalent now as it was when I was a child. However, there is a new pattern emerging in the current generational trend.

We are witnessing a new generation of fathers. These fathers are writing a new story about what happens after divorce. The fathers of generations X and Y are doing their part in authoring this new ending-as-beginning; they’re sticking around to create new post-divorce family format.

This isn’t always an easy task. After all, divorces happen for a reason. Couples grow apart. But impressively, these dads working with their baby-mommas to make it possible to co-parent with as much peace and agreement as possible. And in some cases raising their kids on their own. Or stepping in as Dad to their kids-of-spirit, if not of flesh.

This is the “New Dad”.

Divorce is a more acceptable option for our generation than it was for our parents’ generation. the ending of the first marriage (once jokingly called a “starter marriage” by a friend), feels almost like a rite of passage into true adulthood.

Staunch “family values” types would likely cite this as a proof of a cultural failing. I prefer to look at the positive side, and say that perhaps because divorce has become more culturally prevalent, and over time more socially acceptable, it’s become a less destructive option than it once was. And as it always has been, divorce is often the right choice. It certainly was in the case of my mom and dad, and in the case of my former husband any myself.

Thankfully, in the case of me and my former husband, there was no long, drawn-out court case. There was no disagreement over custody. As a generation born in the midst of the divorce boom, we knew deeply that divorce is potentially much harder on the kids than it is on the adults involved.

Out of this awareness, our generation has learned a couple of things; there’s no shame in calling it quits before a functional relationship with the ex is out of the question. And, the needs of the kids should always out weigh any pettiness on the part of the adults.

The New Dad is a product of the divorce boom as well – whether raised in a “broken” (I greatly dislike this vestigial word) or not, our generation has been instructed by cautionary tales, and by witnessing models of what did, and what did not, work for us and our peers; the children of divorce.

Many men in our generation were raised primarily (if not exclusively) by their mothers. While this is not in all ways a good thing, there are positives that are present.

While the absence of a father figure in a man’s life can lead to confusion about what it means to be a dad, or even a man, there are a few elements of a generation of mother-lead parenting working in the positive direction, and producing some really beautiful fathering by the men of generations X and Y.

By and large, men raised by their mamas have a lot of respect for the work their moms did to keep them happy, healthy, and taken care of growing up. And, using the lack of a stable, positive father-figure as an example of how NOT to parent, these New Dads are making new choices.

The New Dad is nurturing, involved, sensitive and engaged with his children. After a separation, this New Dad works hard to create a healthy co-parenting relationship with his ex. In the best case, this manifests as a sense of extended family. In less ideal circumstances, it comes down to putting aside disagreements with the ex in order to create the most positive co-parenting relationship possible. Or even in some cases taking responsibility as a single parent, a role that few men were ready for in the generation preceding.

In the absence of his own positive father figure, the New Dad has the opportunity to start over with a clean slate. And with that slate in front of him, the New Dad is taking out the sidewalk chalk and sitting down with his kids to draw a brand new image of what being a father means.

Here’s a shout out to all the New Dads; Happy Father’s Day, and THANKS FOR BEING YOU!


For more about kids of divorce, read this cool piece at NPR!

Girl Hate. It’s a thing.

June 12, 2013 in Articles

Girl Hate. It’s a thing.

I’m all for playful competition. Playful competition, IMO, has a basic element of respect, and that’s partially because it’s in some way – explicitly or implicitly – consensual.

There are a bevy of other terms that apply in the case of Girl Hate; negging, slut shaming, humiliation, dissing, posturing, one-upping. And yes, cattiness.

Most of these terms (or actions) may apply in the case of any kind of meanness, but in the culture of women it’s something we aren’t “supposed” to acknowledge because we aren’t “supposed” to be in competition, whereas competition between men is totally on the table.

Most of us women have felt the sting, or outright emotional evisceration, that Girl Hate serves up. The shame. The broken trust. The sense of needing to watch one’s back. The desire to retreat in an effort to end the cycle. Or, conversely, the desire to launch a counter-attack in an effort to defame the girl who is defaming you. Territorial prowling. The subtle art of social girl-on-girl domination.

As Laci Green says in the clip attached here, “It’s not as sexy as it sounds.”

If we can’t address it, we can’t heal it. Naming it is the first step to making the space for meaningful cultural exchange.

My Embracing the Red Queen: Women, Competition, Cooperation, and Co-Creation retreat for women, Sept. 20 – 22, at Isis Oasis, will address this complex issue head-on. We will claim our full voices, and dive deep into the process of healing the fractures.

(Big shout out to my crew; Durga Fuller, Jenya Turner Beachy, Jonna Weidaw, and Freyja Scott.)

Kairosis

June 6, 2013 in Articles

DJ+Blue+lewI found a word this week
kairotic
because sometimes new words
(or very old ones)
are needed to trace the tense contours
of a moment
dark and light
the truth lies in the
negative space

I met a wise and gentle teacher of Kabbalah
in the hilltop village of Tzvat
(resting upon the fertile ground
tons of
grapes fed by
a bath of war-blood)
he taught using art
he said
God
is a blank page

there is nothing simple in this life
except the point of stillness
between inspiration
and expiration

 

(In honor of an upcoming summer of memories yet to be, and the turning point of recognitions of growth. Happy 8th grade graduation, Sollie!)

i pray for breaking

June 4, 2013 in Articles

heartbreakhearts are
broken all the time
sitting in the fear
is different than wallowing in it
is the antidote to running from it
hiding behind it
falling under it

having a heart
means being broken
breaking open
means liberation
and we all fall
if we’re fortunate

no being in the universe
is more deserving
of your unconditional love
than you are
the Buddha is purported to have said

so the I that witnesses
loves the i that sits
willingly breathing it in
and releasing

fear is a wish
love is a prayer

i pray for breaking

In Memoriam – My Grandfather’s Flag

May 27, 2013 in Articles

This memorial day, I hope you’ll take a moment to remember, to pray for, all those who have fallen in the line of fire—not just “our” men and boys, wives and daughters, but all of those who have fallen, everywhere around the world.

apparition_father_daughter_1In Memoriam

     Written: Memorial Day, 2009, by Lasara Firefox Allen

Preamble

My mother grew up 
with photos 
of a dapper dresser
 and memories of
 comedy acts, shared songs of Scotland, her dream visitations 
the strongest vestiges
 of the man she called Daddy. My grandfather, George, died in World War II when my mother was seven.

A Scotsman by birth,
 and American by the choice
 of parents looking for a better life
, George came to this country at seven
; bright red curls
 and a brogue 
that – 
from what I understand 
- he never lost.

At a young age, with two children and a wife at home, every inch an American patriot, George became a tank-gunner
 fighting on the right side
 of the “good war.”

Many years later 
on the Peace March 
for Global Nuclear Disarmament my mother
 was mysteriously
 tracked down 
after decades of waiting 
for confirmation
 and some acknowledgment of her
 heinous
 loss

. She was given a purple heart 
in recognition of the red blood
 her father, the Scotsman, spilled in the name of America, the land he now called
 home.

My mother’s mother
 was a woman I called Grandma, 
but only met a few times

. After the death of George, the grandfather I never met, my grandmother never fell in love again
.

My grandfather burned to death
, the tank he manned
 becoming it’s own
 crematorium. There wasn’t even a body to send home.

FoldedFlagLarge

One Folded Flag

Last year my grandmother died
and my mother received a box
unceremonious cardboard, innocuous
holding her father’s 
only remains -

an artfully folded flag
a clan tartan and crest
a heart on a purple ribbon
a pile of letters home.

We touched the flag,
hand sewn, 
perfect
folded just that way 
since 1944

and prayed silently
tears welling.

Somewhere tonight,
a seven year old girl
awaits the return of her daddy
 from foreign soil

Or, in a land half a world away
bombs blasting in the distance
she
awaits, awaits.

May he return whole.

Let no more daughters wait 
a lifetime
for a flag
a medal on a purple ribbon
a pile of letters.

May no more widows mourn
alone and brittle
, hopelessly waiting
sitting 
for 75 years
at a window she knows will never be filled
with the endlessly dreamed of
return.