Thursday, December 21, 2017

The Last Jedi and Letting Go


I want to talk about why I loved The Last Jedi. I don't want to put spoilers in the first few sentences, because I think spoilers are unkind and selfish. So instead of talking plot points right off, I am going to say that I spent the whole movie mourning Carrie Fisher. Her loss impacted me so much more when I watched her on the screen. She was a true hero in real life as well as the Star Wars series - a bright, powerful woman who never gave up. Even in the movie, when she passes the torch to the next generation, she never stops being a hero. Losing her in both the real world and in a galaxy far, far, away crushed me. As a woman, I ache that we have lost such a role model. But as a writer, and having read a few articles about how other people interpret the movie, I know in The Last Jedi, it is exactly how it had to be.

I've been reading and watching a lot of Joseph Campbell lately and rewatching the 80s tv show with Bill Moyers - The Power of Myth. I love this series because I love the story of the Hero's Journey. I love the awakening of the hero and the journey to that awakening. And yes, I think a hero, like Rey and Leia in Star Wars, can be a female. I think what makes The Last Jedi so powerful, is that it is the true culmination of what happens to heroes. So often we end the hero's journey with the intrepid hero triumphantly returning to the village and dispensing wisdom, then either going off on another adventure (Indiana Jones, Katniss Everdeen) or writing down the story and going away (Bilbo Baggins), but most often the story just 'ends' with the victory and maturity of the hero being the end of the story (Gilgamesh).

However, the true resolution of the Hero's journey, is with the realization that the old generation of heroes must give way to the newer generation of heroes (Bilbo giving the ring to Frodo). Luke is given one last chance to save the resistance, by NOT training Rey to be a hero (as Yoda trained him). After she leaves, his Jedi master, Yoda, comes and with a lightening bolt burns down the 'tree of life'. The Master sets fire to the sacred tree of the Jedi and puts the past to ashes. Yoda enlightens Luke even as he burns down the old order. Yoda laughs through the fire and says about the sacred Jedi texts, "Wisdom they held, but that library contained nothing that the girl Rey does not already possess." And that is what happens, when the tree is set on fire (of course Rey has run off with the sacred books, but Luke doesn't know that). The past is burned away. Luke's way wasn't going to save the universe. He tried and he failed. He failed as a mentor with Ben Solo, and he failed himself when his shame caused him to run away. It seems to me, Luke's real hero's journey was never about him saving the galaxy, the real hero's journey was letting go of a way of being that wasn't working. Luke embraces change and his redemption comes when he offers his own life (Jesus) to save his community and allow 'hope' time to escape. Luke and Leia both learned from their pasts, and were ready to set aside the old ways that weren't working. The Resistance is all but wiped out. They all fit into the Millennium Falcon. When everyone turns to Leia to ask her what to do, she nods to Po and basically says to ask him.

The Last Jedi isn't a happy, warm, fuzzy movie. It is as much a tribute to the past, as it is burning away the old canon. It destroys our clinging to the original three movies (I'm not even addressing the ridiculous second trilogy of movies); this movie forges a whole new story - like a good hero's tale should do. The old hero should die - after contemplating both his or her success and failures. That is what makes Star Wars so beautiful. It doesn't stop with the happy-ever-after scene of Luke and Han and Leia getting awards and everything being perfect. It stays with the story. It unflinchingly reaches beyond what we know and touches the great Mystery. Or, as they say in Star Wars, it embraces the Force.

I loved that about this movie. I loved that Luke is broken and angry. I love that he has turned his back on the Force - haven't we all at some point in our lives? Haven't we all said, "ENOUGH! You ask too much!" Or, "Why???" In our own ways, we all struggle with what we hold sacred.

I remember when my mom passed away. She left behind a whole house full of collections that meant something to her and were sacred to her; the menu from the hospital on the day I was born, costume jewelry she loved,  a thousand little things. Those items, some of them were sacred to me as well and I kept them, as my sister kept some sacred to her. But many of them my sister and I sold or gave away. There is no reason to hold on to something that was sacred to someone else when it is not sacred to you. Giving those items it to someone who can find a new joy in them brought my sister and I great joy. In the end, I realized the sacred part was inside myself... not in the things or places or people around me.

That is why I loved this movie. The sacred canon it destroyed was balanced with the sacred it handed down in a new form to the next generation. It's beautiful and it's powerful. I can understand why some people didn't like this movie... who wants to see a hero die? Who wants to see a hero fail?  Except struggle is eternal. Light isn't mean to win over darkness; it can't. Learning to navigate between the light and the dark, between the male and female, between the duality of humanity and spirituality - those are the dualities we navigate every single day. But there is more to life than duality, as Joseph Campbell says, "People say that what we're all seeking the meaning of life. I don't think that's what we're really seeking. I think that what we're seeking is an experience of being alive, so that our life experiences on the purely physical plane will have resonances with our own innermost being and reality, so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive." In other words, we all seek the experience of feeling the 'Force' in our own lives. I think that is what this movie says - it says the Force must be open to all - not to a select few that hold that knowledge so tightly they smother the light.

I can see that some people want a victory. They want the Jedi to beat the Sith. They want the light to win once and for all. They hold so tightly onto Luke and the old Star Wars characters and movies, they end up strangling the story. They don't want anything to change. They fear what is next. It is... well, a lot like our current political situation. So many in office right now hold on tightly to the past, instead of stepping aside and making room for change. Our government isn't working right now, but so many politicians and people are afraid of change that we are literally strangling our own story of democracy.

I know, in my life, the greatest experiences come from letting go of being angry and stuck in the past, and moving forward with joy and happiness. I can't change the past, but I can let go of what didn't work and allow myself to welcome change. Even when that change is hard, most often, that change is enlightening and empowering. And that is the true message of the hero's journey. Embrace what is unknown, and it will change your life. Maybe that is what I am doing now, embracing change and embracing those around me that support that change. That is certainly what The Last Jedi did.

As one of my favorite songs in Wicked says,

Who can say if I've been
Changed for the better?
I do believe I have been
Changed for the better

And because I knew you...

Because I knew you...

(Both)Because I knew you...
I have been changed for good...

Love and Joy,


Saturday, December 16, 2017

The Power of Voice


Today marks five years since Candace passed away. I remember that day so clearly, standing next to her and talking to her for a few moments, even though she was in a deep morphine coma. I remember how it felt to see her in her bed in the living room with her family around her and the hospice nurse. Then, leaving with the kids to have breakfast in Sunbury and while eating, getting the phone call that she had passed. Telling the kids, then taking the kids on a drive to look at Holiday decorations because they weren't quite ready to go home.

My grief this year is less, but my anxiety is probably more; I suppose there is always a balance. Today I listened to all the voicemail messages from her I saved - I have four of them. When I hear her voice she is still here. Right next to me. Is it weird I saved her voice? I've kept it on my phone for over five years now. I can feel her presence when I listen to those voicemails, I feel her near me.

It's funny how powerful the voice is. Playing the recording, I'm right back with her. Sitting in the living room, hanging out. Sitting in the hot tub, laughing. But it is so real. So much more real than even a photo. Last weekend, her daughter, my sister, and I took the snow train to Leavenworth. Madi and I sang our hearts out. Candace couldn't keep a note on tune for anything. But she sang with wild abandon. She had fake microphones in her van so she and I could pretend to be pop stars and sing along with the radio. As painful as it was to listen to her sing, it was replaced with the sheer joy she had when laughing along with the music. It's lovely that Madi has such a nice voice. Maybe, just maybe, Madi somehow got that from me.

So much change has happened since she passed, and so much change is still coming. One child is off to college soon and one child will be starting high school next year.  I try to stay with my head above the water and love the journey. I never expected this journey. Never expected any of this. But I remember five years ago when I kissed her forehead as she passed and told her I would take care of them and how much I loved her. And it would be okay. I knew it then and I know it now. It will be okay.

There isn't a day that goes by that I don't miss her. This summer, we were at Disney. Madi was handing Grant some lip balm. For a brief moment, Madi looked so much like her I gasped, same hands, same mischievous grin, same vocal tone. The two went off to ride a ride and I sat and had some coffee and basked in the energy of her. I knew she was enjoying Disney as much as I and the kids were. And, I cried.

This isn't a long tome to her, I've written so many of those. But this is a tribute to her voice and the power I feel when I hear it. And so, today, I thought I would share it. I apologize it is so clunky, but there is no other way to upload the file here :(.

Love you too, friend. Love you, too.

Love to you all,


Friday, December 08, 2017

Finding Fabulous at Fifty


I turn 50 at 11:47pm tonight. I thought somehow I'd feel different. But I don't. I still got up this morning, had breakfast (they forgot my bacon!) and went to work. I had lovely presents on my car from a friend, and presents at school from friends and from my sister. Oh and I got a 'join us' card from AARP. Am I old enough for AARP?????

My life is really good right now. I'm just riding the wave of two teenagers who can't decide on much and keep shifting around what and who they want to be. I'm learning to just smile and let it go, even when it hurts my feelings, stabs at my heart, or when I get attached to something that is gone the next day. Pretty typical life with kids. I wonder sometimes, how my mom and dad did it. How anyone does it... I mean, how do any of us survive parenting?

I realize, however, that something has changed in me - my tolerance for being around people who are unhealthy. My tolerance for misery and melancholy. We all go through struggles. I have gone through crying myself to sleep every night for months. But in terms of having people in my life that are chronically negative, or tear down the things that bring me joy - I'm not able to navigate it anymore. I can deal with depression and I can hold someone's space through trauma. But when it is pretty much a chronic state, when I find I start to feel bad about who I am because of someone else's unhappiness... well, I realize I need to step away.  I'm not sure if that is a good thing or not a good thing. Does it mean I have lost my patience? Or that I have lost my compassion? Or that I am a bad friend for walking away? I honestly don't know.

What I do know is that I still love fiercely. And I am still kind. And I will have your back at the drop of a hat if you need me. But I'm far from perfect. After all, my cup says "almost" perfect (thanks, Rachel!)

The next half of my life is going to be focused on being happy. On finding my joy. On being with people who bring me joy - I couldn't even begin to list them all here. Today, two friends from my past showed up on facebook! How wonderful! It's a joy that people I love and have loved for a long time are still in my life, showing up, being present and sharing their sorrows and their excitement about their adventures. Maybe I'm finally realizing at fifty, no one is going to make me happy. I can share my happiness with others, but I have to make my own joy. This next part of my journey I am going to pursue finding those qualities - even if finding those qualities in my life means great change and moving out of what makes me comfortable. I'm going to pursue connection and community, and I get excited even contemplating what that means.

Don't misunderstand, I don't actually know what pursuing love, pursuing happiness, pursuing joy and pursuing connection is going to look like or what it is going to mean, but I am excited to see where my newfound determination leads. 

Maybe the biggest gift I am giving myself this year, is that I am going to stop pursuing perfection. And I am going to stop pursuing the search for all the answers and feeling like I have to be in control to feel safe. Because sometimes, I think maybe I am asking the wrong questions anyhow. And maybe, just maybe, this year I'll learn to be a little kinder to myself. I'll learn my own value and maybe, I'll start to listen when people I love tell me my value... maybe I'll believe them - instead of doubting them and their honesty.

Thank you all for loving me. For being kind. For being patient while I move into who I am all the while continuing to stumble while I learn. We of the Meyer line live a long time. So I'm looking forward to at least another 45 years of life on this planet <3.

Peace and love this holiday season,


Saturday, April 22, 2017

Just the three of us, building castles in the sky...


Yesterday, I went to court to get full guardianship of my daughter's brother. My daughter, my lawyer, myself, the Guardian Ad Litem and my daughter's brother stood before the judge and said this is what we all wanted. My daughter spoke about how she felt like part of her life had been missing and how glad she was that her brother would have better opportunities now.

I would like to say that everything has gone as easily as that court date yesterday, but that wouldn't be true. Heck, even the court date was delayed a month because the docket in March was full.

Having a teenage boy here has been perhaps, one of the biggest challenges of my life. When the two were babies, my (at the time) goddaughter was colicky and almost everything made her sick. I remember holding her above my head and lifting her up and down under the ceiling fan to calm her so she could finally fall asleep. Her brother was an easy baby. Hardly cried. Cuddled a lot with Candace. Candace once told me that if she had had her son first, she would have thought she was a natural mom. That mothering was easy. She said that because she'd had her daughter first, she'd been humbled. That she understood how hard being a mom could really be. For me, I've had the exact opposite experience with those two. Having my (now) daughter come live here was a natural flow of our already close relationship. Not that it was all easy, but I patted myself on the back and told myself "You got this." I listened when people told me what a great mom I was.

That has not been my experience now. People always look at me and say, "Oh, you'll be fine, you're such a great mom, you got this." But I, most decidedly, have days where I do NOT got this.

Having my life shift so much has pushed me to limits I didn't know I had. Pushed me to the edge of patience, and frustratingly, sometimes beyond it. I've been tremendously hard on myself. Forced to create boundaries for a young person who has really not had many, I feel like often I am more of a drill sergeant than a parent. I've had to deal with anger and anxiety in someone that brings forth my own anger and anxiety. I've had to figure out how to move past my own shortcomings to try to be a better person... and often I feel I come up short of the mark.

If you've read my blog, you know I struggle with being kind to myself. I struggle with honoring my own needs, often putting others before myself. Perhaps that is part of being a parent, putting the needs of children above my own needs. But I think, when I put their needs above my own too often, I lose myself in the process.

At times, life here is sunshine and happiness. Two kids curled up on the sofa talking, me curled up with a cup of tea laughing, and all of us feeling like a well tuned family - working together for the best of all of us. I treasure those moments, and lately they come more often.

But just as often I feel like I am living in a tempest. I have to push through the outright denial of being a family. The denial of connection that comes from the fear of belonging somewhere. The push against being loved. I have had to face my own trauma and learn how to manage it when surrounded by someone else's. I've read and reread this article. I've found it both comforting and confronting, both at the same time.

Often my supportive and wonderful friends will say to me, "Oh, hey, typical teenage behavior! Welcome to parenthood!" And then I feel even worse.  I think to myself, omg, I can't even handle typical teenage behavior! But that isn't accurate. It isn't typical in my world and while I know every parent of a teenager has difficult moments, the uncertainty mixed with tremendous loss in my situation, makes this not some 'typical teenage behavior." I know friends are being supportive, I know they are trying to help and I am grateful for their love and support. I also know I'm the only one in my situation and I shouldn't diminish my experience or myself for feeling at times like I fail at parenting over typical teenage behavior.

There is therapy, there is assessment. There is no way I could do this on my own. I'm consistently and constantly amazed at how supportive the people around me have been. The people at work, the people that are my friends, the people in my family. I'm lucky to not be alone. I don't know how a single person could do it alone. For those single parents raising kids, my admiration knows no bounds.

But what I am realizing, is that it's okay for this to not be perfect. It's okay for this experience to bounce back and forth between delightful and difficult.

I know I am doing the best I know how to do. And I am learning to take my life one moment at a time to the best of my ability. I know no matter how this experience turns out, I am growing. I am becoming. And I am already not the same person that agreed to bring another child into my life. It's been humbling and I'm certainly learning how much I still have to learn.

I am looking forward to what comes next. I'm also scared and nervous. It's unknown, and I'm not always good with the unknown. But I know I will emerge from this story with many new stories of my own to tell. And I believe all of us in this story will do some healing, some learning, and some loving together to emerge from this story even better than when we stepped into it.

peace my friends,