Tuesday, June 23, 2009


Inflected Form(s):
sur·ren·dered; sur·ren·der·ing Listen to the pronunciation of surrendering \-d(ə-)riŋ\
Etymology: Middle English surrendren, from surrendre, noun
Date: 15th century

transitive verb1 a: to yield to the power, control, or possession of another upon compulsion or demand b: to give up completely or agree to forgo especially in favor of another2 a: to give (oneself) up into the power of another especially as a prisoner b: to give (oneself) over to something (as an influence)intransitive verb: to give oneself up into the power of another : yield
synonyms see relinquish

source: Merriam-Webster Dictionary

Self-help gurus and religion-brokers always talk about surrender. Let go and Let God. What the hell does that mean? I like details, especially when they help me not do something. And when I give it up where does it go? Are there people out there who actually want to pick up my shit and take it home with them? Maybe use it as an ottoman or end table? Maybe it means that I should get out of my own way. That is also another ambiguous phrase. Ultimately it probably means to stop overanalyzing everything. Just get up in the morning and do what has to get down. But really is an unexamined life worth living?

I talk a great deal about surrender and I am now in the place where I want to know how to actually do it. And it may take me getting comfortable with the fact that I can't throw out my issues like the trash and have it be gone - for good. Even that trash is going to come back to haunt me in terms of global warming and landfill issues. So, then I think, hmmm, this analogy is not too far off. How do I not have the trash come back to haunt me? I become more mindful of creating it in a way that it can be used as compost or simply disintegrate. Letting go of backed up stuff from my childhood is like going green. It takes some research. Getting some new more energy-efficient tools and then being sure to use them.

So what can be in my greening my past toolkit? Hmmm. An ecofriendly world view. I need to cultivate an attitude of unity and connectedness with my environment. That means forgiving those who have hurt me. Saying good-bye to toxic people and situations. Embracing happiness and optimism over their antonyms.
Recycle and Reuse. Taking those things that work and re-tooling them into something positive. Starting small with plastics maybe or the fact that I keep a neat linen closet. Taking those small things and repurposing them into a clean car and a neat closet. One thing at a time.
Composting. Those things I am done with? Throwing them in a bucket and turning them over with sun, heat and air to turn it into something rich and useful. And doing the same with myself. Getting out, getting air and exercise and turning those things in myself that challenge me into opportunity for gold. Now, before I strain this analogy (or am I too late?)I am working on surrender. I think I wrote that I am not sure how G-d fits into my ontology. I am still working on that one. Perhaps that is why I am going back to graduate school for religious studies. To finish exploring those big questions. So when I let something go I am not sure where it goes. But I am beginning to think that it doesn't matter where it goes as long as it leaves me, right? And that there is really no reason to hold onto anything that doesn't serve me, including empty eggshells. There is no tidy conclusion for this post. I am still mulling this one over and trying to get comfortable with this truth: I may never know fully - Anything.

We are blessed may we recognize the blessing

in peace

Photo: E-pic

Thursday, June 11, 2009

"It's called Friendship,

ya' know: poor people's therapy." I heard this line on a rerun of Without a Trace and I laughed. Probably because of the actor's delivery which was appropriately sarcastic and because it's true! My earliest friends have mostly become social workers and therapists. I wonder if that is a coincidence or if even at that age I knew I needed help :)! But friendship is therapy, especially for women. Not sure what guys do when they get together. My husband swears that men bond around activity - doing, making or building something. I wouldn't know. Me and my friends bond around food. And if it has been an extremely stressful week, around alcohol. So it is not surprising that over breakfast this morning a friend shared some truly illuminating insights. I was blown over having realized that my 100th Angel in my quest for cracking this particular life nut had arrived.

The life nut - me and my true issue with food. I've known long before Oprah that my weight is not about the food but about the comfort food has always given me. When I was young and feeling neglected and isolated I would eat. Food was a comfort to me and since my life has been so difficult I deserved to indulge that comfort whenever I wanted. I deserved to feel better. My friend told me that she has an inner rebel. A little person inside her who doesn't want to go with convention. Who wants to buck the rules and wants to do what she wants to do - because she deserves it. I got that so clearly. Whenever I go on a new life path I last for a short period of time and then my little rebel who apparently speaks with a bullhorn, shows up and tells me that I am smart, sassy and perfectly capable of taking care of this issue on my own. I don't need no stinkin' help. And me and the little rebel jump ship. What's the definition of crazy - doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different outcome? Well, when it comes to me and food, I am crazy! Truly certifiable. What makes me think I can do this on my own? I haven't done a great job in the last 37 years! That is not to disparage me, because at some things I am brilliant, and at this, not so much.

What really stopped me in my tracks was when my friend said: "do what works." So simple. Of course! Do what works. Does me guesstimating how much I've eaten work? Does my not exercising work? Does my not eating at all work? NO! None of these things work. What does work is my planning my food so I keep my blood sugar level and making sure I eat balanced meals with few to no processed foods. What works is for me to workout - strenuously and to sweat. What works is for me to get enough sleep so I can get up leisurely in the morning and not rush through my routine so I don't have time to eat. Those things work. Yet, I continue to stop doing them. So, what to do about my little rebel?

Well, she is a lot like me and does not respond to harshness. She is, I have come to realize, the main character in a section of a play I wrote called "Blue Cohosh." She is "The Little Girl with the Patent Leather Shoes"

There is a girl I know
younger than me, smaller than me
with black patent leather shoes that reflect Up
she sits in the corner without making a sound
without disturbing the air in the room

The poem goes on to talk about how Vega, the main character, takes up so much space. How she can't even breathe without making noise. And she wants this child to teach her how to be invisible. Maybe she should yell at her. Maybe ignore her. She decides to invite the little girl for tea.

That's what I am going to do with my little rebel. Invite her in. Ask her to be my friend. Make her know she is loved and give her some tea. So that she becomes one with the tribe instead of in opposition to it. Gotta go, kettle's whistling.

We are blessed may we recognize the blessing

in peace

Photo:Candy Pop (I love that name!)

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Love is.....

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

I Corinthians 13:1-13

This has always been one of my favorite bible verse, next to "Jesus wept," which I tend to say now instead of cursing. I learned that verse by heart when I was young and had to recite it in church. I did not think of all it might mean to me in my life. And of how it distilled the meaning of life into a few lines. The Bible is an amazing work of art.

This post is about love and the uses of the word and its accompanying prepositions. In our collective speech there seems to be a big difference between loving someone and being "in love" with someone. As far as I am concerned there isn't a difference. The word police have co-opted the word "love" to mean so many different things. There is romantic love and parental love and platonic love and and and....
There is only one kind of love. It is when you respect another, care for another and show up for another. I am in love with so many people. For me, that means that we share that love - we are in it together. I am in love with my children, my old man (I love 70's phraseology!), my mother, my mamas, my friends, my sister. I am in it with them. We love each other and we share in the taking care of each other.

Why write this post? Well, tomorrow is the shared birthday of two of my greatest loves. My sister and my husband. I love the way Geminis are in my life. They are no nonsense, straight to the point, generous, impatient, brilliant, funny, sarcastic and lovely. A bit about each of my favorite Geminis.

My sister was born when I was five years old and NO ONE was happier than me. I wanted to take care of her and hold her and make sure she was safe. She did not feel as lovingly toward me. She hated being doted on by me. She refused to hold my hand in public and she made fun of me and got me in trouble all the time. But I loved her from the moment she breathed. I was in love with her - still am. Last year when I was very sick I did something very difficult. I picked up the phone and asked my sister for help. I asked her to come and take care of me because I couldn't do it myself. There wasn't even a pause before she pulled out her calendar and told me when she could be there. My sister and I don't have a mushy relationship. In fact, I get a hug a year, on special occasions, or when she lets her guard down and I steal one. It is a joke between us. But hugging and smooshing doesn't make love. Being there makes love. And she is there for me like few others.

My husband was born five years before my sister. He is the one Grace picked for me from half a world away. Hubby is not effusive in his love either. I have to remind him to kiss me or hold my hand, and to quote my friend M:
"If I was married to a normal man, I would go crazy. [my husband] lovingly ridicules me at every opportunity, and I am charmed. Once in a blue moon, he treats me like an ordinary girl and tells me I’m beautiful and how in love with me he is, and that is the longest, most painful day of my year."
So true. Yet, he is exactly who I need in my life to keep me grounded and supported. After nine years of marriage he has grown weary of my go-to excuses and calls me on my shit time after time. Gotta love that in anyone! Quiet as it's kept nothing makes me happier than to be challenged. Everything - my thoughts, opinions, stupid actions - all of it. It makes me grow. And I am more fully myself for having been married to this man.

Love is. Powerful. Simple. Amazing. And all there is. Tell me who you are in love with. I want to know the joy in your life. Here is mine. Happy Birthday to my loves.

We are blessed may we recognize the blessing.

in peace

Photo: neuza teixeira

Monday, June 8, 2009

The Little Things

There is a song by India.Arie called "The Little Things." I have been thinking about the little things after my last post. Thinking about periods, even commas, as opposed to exclamation points. I think it very telling that my grammar has always been exceptional but I have no idea how to properly use commas. Or am I reading too much into things? Little things. Take this moment for instance. After an actually fun trip to Target and Whole Foods with all three of my children, we came home and made pizza for dinner. I was planning a huge Mexican buffet but time got away from me and I only had 40 minutes to make dinner and get them ready for a trip to the gym. Not enough time for Mexican. When I walked in the door unsure of what I was going to actually make, there on the range top was the pizza dough I had taken out of the freezer this morning. In the back of my head I heard my husband's voice from the day before - "oh, this is pizza sauce, I thought it was salsa." Two down, one to go. In the refrigerator, almost hiding, organic mozzarella. The kids dive in and start adding "exotic" ingredients: leftover meatballs, herbs (that's green right?!), strawberries - uh, let's wait on that one. Pizza goes in the oven, done in 10 minutes. They are now all outside. So instead of the Mexican feast planned in my mind, they are eating Italian and dining al fresco! From where I sit, I can see them in the backyard eating and talking and playing and helping each other. This moment will last me a long time.

It's the little things for me today. I worked out. With a trainer. He kicked my butt. But yet it was easier than past workouts. I got used to the hard work and looked forward to the burn. I ate a healthy lunch. Kept my caffeine intake low and had a tiny nap with my 4 year old. All of those things helped me feel better and appreciate the day more. My husband will be home soon. 6:12 on the dot - every day. And his dinner is made. Are there dirty dishes in the sink? You bet! Could the kitchen floor use a good scrub? Absolutely! Do I care and am I spiraling into my "shoulds?" Absolutely not. For this moment life is wonderful. I am considering getting "live this moment" tattooed onto my forearm. It works better than a post-it!

We are blessed may we recognize the blessing.

in peace

Photo: Nanda Mama

Sunday, June 7, 2009


Everyone is in a different place in their life. I find that I spend a great deal of time, by that I mean too much, thinking about changing places with someone else. Mostly it's my friends who are running races and losing weight and facing their life's demons head on. It's about reading avant garde literature and listening to opera on my ipod (yes, that is about you Tennessee Mary). It is about being someone I think I should be. And then mi secondo mama's voice enters my head (in concert with the voices of several other "mamas" I've had in my life) telling me to ixnay the word "should." I chose to do something. Or in the words of the supreme guru, Yoda, "Do or do not. There is no try." I guess SG would say there is no "should" either. Life is a series of choices. Decisions. Often just periods - no exclamation points.

I remember asking a friend who does not believe there is a G-d, how she got up every morning. Why she got up every morning. She said very simply, because she is alive. Wow. Why isn't that reason enough for some of us, but that I mean the royal we. Me. I got up because G-d was willing me to. As I changed my perspective and became more ambivalent about G-d's actual existence and more interested in Her/His good works it became harder to get up every morning. As if the new truth I was living had sucked the life force out of me. But that is not the case. In fact it is more personal than G-d. It is me.

I have a difficult time reconciling the fact that I cannot do everything. I feel I "should" be able to do everything. And the truth that I cannot paralyzes me. It takes away my gratitude and joy. Now my more astute readers are saying - wow, Keisha sounds depressed. Well, yeah I am. Have been most of my life. Nanda Mama, is a hope. Someone to whom I aspire. She is hard to keep a hold of. I am very good at being her in public. Really good at being her on the phone. But once I get home and close the door she seems to disappear. I have written a lot about needing excitement and newness and adventure. My middle name should be wanderlust. That gives my life purpose. Not really, it just gives my life feet. And it keeps me from hanging out in the uncomfortable. Well, I am firmly rooted in my life here, where I am. External circumstances keep me from moving away - which is a great gift. My feet need to stay here to take care of my three kids and my husband and ultimately myself. My work now is to heal - so many things. And to revel in the freedom and the time I have to do that. And honestly, I am not liking all the things I am finding out about myself. And I am also not trying to change them right now. Just observe. Learn. I will be 38 years old next month and I plan to celebrate that birthday with a great deal of fanfare. Being alive is a great reason for celebration!

We are blessed may we recognize the blessing

in peace

Photo: Azli Jamil