help

The Two Least Helpful Things

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In my experience with personal pain, the two things I found least helpful were this …

  1. When people said “There are no words.”
  2. When people asked me, “How can I help?”

I’ve sat and watched, while taking sipping breaths, my country erupt with all kinds of emotions this weekend and with each repeat of a horrific video, at each angry response or defensive, violent reaction, or attempt at peaceful protest and I’ve wondered.

How do we continue to hold space for the pain each of us carry?

I don’t know what to say, or how to help, but I also know my lack of trying adds force to the complex dominos falling around us.

I’m a writer. I coach people to put words to their experiences and have found healing in putting words to my own.  I am tongue-tied and paralyzed and my fear of saying the wrong thing does nothing for marginalized communities and people of color.

When I feel stuck or others stumble, I remind them to just start with one.

Start with one word.

See what flows from there.

Unjust. Angry. Desire. Frustration. Ally. Sick. Tired. Sad. Rage. Friend. Understandable.

We live in a complicated world with painful histories designed by humans to hurt some and benefit others. I benefit. I hurt. So do you.

When fires are set and people seek to be seen or heard or simply touched, I wonder and whisper, ‘How can we be better?’

If you feel the same and choose to yell, please, yes, use your voice.

I use my words to say, “I’m sorry for what brought you here. I’ll never fully understand. I can only listen and seek and carve space for your pain to be seen. Searching for good and holy and beautiful things may help. But what the hell do I know?”

How can we care for our friends, the strangers, the people whose lives and whose pain never has to impact mine?

I don’t have an answer. I know I may never know your experience just as you won’t fully know mine.

But we have the beautiful opportunity to try.

I’m using my words to grapple, to wonder, to sit and to hold space, to ponder, to ask, to try to see.

I’m also reminded when the words need to stop. Sometimes words needs to be replaced with listening. Creating collaborative solutions requires us to listen to stories not our own.

I strongly believe healing can be found in the pursuit of beautiful things. The match I light in the darkness is the choice to hold the good and the bad in cupped palms. An offering to the broken in all of us, in our country, in our world. The chance to say yes to the hurt and pain and marvel at the tears and spark the choice we have to hope and turn towards the good.

Horrific things are happening. Behavior must be changed.

And still, people are using their voices, holding hands, and taking a stand. They are staring down cops and holding hands with armed guards, hurting people are encouraging outsiders to walk together in the streets, allies and leaders and neighbors are kneeling for justice and taking action.

We’re using our words and fumbling to try to make sense of what’s next and what’s right and what individual roles can be in this moment.

For every person reading, wondering, seeking, searching, and opening their eyes – there will be that many unique ways of moving forward.

Stop waiting for people to answer your cry of “How can I help?”

How do you want to help? Do that.

Use your words. Start with one.

And see what flows from there.

 

Day 12 – 52 Good Things

How did today go for you?

Here are a few more good things. I can’t wait to see what good you’ve got happening in your homes, on your screens, and in your connections. Even STILL.

As a reminder, send me a note with the good in your world at 52beautifulthings at gmail dot com or a DM on Instagram. Keep em’ comin.


77. This Tai Chi video submitted by Joyce D

78. A travel bracket on Instagram

79. Ice Cream made in mason jars

80. When best friends bring you ground beef

81. Feeling angry at all of this – anger is allowed

82. COBRA insurance coverage

83. Stretchy pants

84. Naps

85. Sunshine

86. Paint called Squirrel Tail

My phone did a bad thing.

My phone did a bad thing.

The past few days my Apple device has been acting up when I text. The little micro machine always telling me my storage is full, and I don’t have the space capacity needed for the new iOS update. As a result, I can’t log into my bank app and my camera shuts down frequently.

First world problems. Yes.

I take too many pictures on my micro machine. This micro machine is also a time machine. On it lives very important memories.

Treasured ones. His voice. His pictures. His words. Dad’s.

I carry pieces of who he was in my phone which means he’s always in my purse, on my desk, on my bedside table.

This morning, to remedy the odd text message problem, I pressed the center button and the other one – you know the small one on the right. The combination of my pressing prompted a computer reset.

I needed my micro machine working properly – ready to respond to my every communication demand.

I used my fingerprint touch id (the future is now) to log back in after the reset and I promptly received three texts in the correct order. I scanned my family’s messages and set my phone down. Fixed.

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Wait, something’s not right.

All of my previous message conversations ……… gone. The ones from when we got engaged, group celebrations, and family archives. Missing in the line up.

Also missing are two text threads I had with Dad. One, a joking joint conversation with my brother – the three of us discussing mac and cheese options for brother’s birthday dinner. The other, a long standing thread of individual texts with Dad.

Our conversations. Stopped abruptly by his stupid early departure from this planet.

And today, when I reset my phone, the conversation went missing.

“Shit, shit, shit,” I said to myself as I started to panic at my desk. Around me, my co-workers reviewed reports and I was supposed to be doing data entry.  My eyes started watering.

I muttered some other choice words and quickly texted Dylan asking what I could do to back up my phone.

“Google it, ” he said.

Everyone’s damn answer is Google it. 

I don’t think I backed up my phone and I’ll have to log on to explore iCloud and text recovery and all these IT language things I’m not sure I understand.

What I do get, however, is that sometimes life rudely takes things away from you before you were ready. 

Another thing Dylan suggested was to try to send a text to the number and see if it would bring up the thread. That number has been out of service for over a year and a half. Is it more painful to text a number he certainly won’t answer, or to risk never seeing that thread again?

Although memorized, Dad’s personal contact with office, home and cell numbers still lives in my phone. I couldn’t delete it because our jokes and check-ins still sat in my messages. Sometime, I said, I’d write them all down. I was waiting for when I was ready.

I bravely deleted Dad from my favorites in my phone about nine months ago. I made a choice to take that step. We already let go of his ashes, some of his clothes, his crap in the garage and in the storage room we affectionately called his “study”. I could let go of him being a favorite caller in my phone.

I wasn’t ready to let go of those texts. Shit.

This morning, before the dreaded reset, I logged on to Facebook and saw that a friend from high school just lost her friend to brain cancer. Age 30. This woman was taken too soon. Cancer took her before my friend was ready. Before any of her family, or friends, or co-workers were ready. I don’t know this woman, and I rarely talk to this high school acquaintance but I got goosebumps this morning – for that family, that beautiful woman, the husband now widowed at my age. Tears for what was taken abruptly from them.

Everywhere we look things are getting taken from us.

But.

But.

Every single day things are given to us too.

 This weekend I threw a baby shower for a friend I’ve known for fifteen years. It’s miraculous to watch your friends prepare for parenthood. To bless them with onesies and diapers and things that suck snot out of their children’s noses. Yup, that’s a thing.

Investing in dear friends as they go big through transitions is a beautiful gift.

Tulips are popping up through the cold ground without direction – loved into being by instinct and sunshine that God provides.

The weather is warming and trees are blooming. The promise of spring lingers.

More texts do come in on my phone, though none from him.

So, tonight, I’ll try to find those texts and trust God that maybe He knew I don’t need to be carrying that weight around in my purse, on my desk, or my bedside table.

Open some storage space. Ouch.

Let new, beautiful things – photos, voices, and words – flood in.

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Art by Gracelaced

 

 

Update – later this evening, thanks to that same, frustrating IT, I was able to locate the conversations I was looking for. All praise to the Cloud. The Jesus one and Apple too.