Sunday, March 15, 2009

Forever Marriage

“Marriage should be forever, is that true?”

That's what I believed in my twenties and thirties and halfway through my forties. But then reality hit like a monsoon, washing away that belief in the awakening storm.
And I am left to wonder....

Throughout my life relationships flowed in and out like the ocean tide. Even family (I have relatives scattered across the globe; in Germany, Florida, Georgia and Utah). So what about marriage?

Relationships in general start out strong, the discovery-of-another-human an intriguing and intoxicating journey. Some people in our lives become constants, steadfastly with us like the North Star, while others move on like constellations (okay, I know it's really the earth that is moving) weaving in and out of our lives like the seasonally shifting night sky.

Sometimes they reappear, other times they just disappear. But often they just move on. Reasons vary; relocation, illness, divorce and death. Our family moved a lot growing up because Dad was in the military, but even when we stayed put friends drifted in and out as people developed new interests.

What this means for me is, I don't need to grieve so deeply over the losses. Which was a struggle for a very long time because when my 'forever marriage' transitioned to divorce, it seemed complicated because children were involved. And I held strong beliefs about keeping a ‘together team‘ of husband and wife raising the healthiest children possible.

As things changed I struggled with the dissolution of what we had created together. Would we tear the family we had created apart? How would we help them navigate the stormy seas of adolescence and young adulthood? How could we continue to parent while pursuing separate lives? If our children couldn't count on us to be their constants in this unpredictable world, who could they count on?

I used to believe God was the answer, but my experience was that he didn't protect you from 'bad things' happening either. So I'm thinking they need to learn to count on themselves to be able to handle whatever life brings them and trust that they are okay, because they are LOVED -- by us, by God and the world at large -- and therefore safe.

When I joined the LDS faith, I was ready to start a family. I wanted to raise healthy, happy children; spiritually, emotionally, and physically. For me that meant within a religious framework, a sort of protective life-support network.

And I loved the way it felt in the early years of the marriage; the security of our religious practices, the guidelines providing a sweet, safe arena to raise children. But as our relationship stumbled and I found myself living with an increasingly unhappy husband -- blaming me for his unhappiness -- eventually I began blaming myself until I was drowning in self-doubt.

For a long time I had leaned on my faith for strength, but eventually felt betrayed not only by my partner but by God when things got worse. And in the process, lost faith in myself.

So this is where I find myself today. Bobbing back to the surface of life’s currents, unwilling to waste any more precious energy looking for blame. Still navigating the seas of parenthood, I want to instill in our children a deep abiding faith in themselves, so that no matter what happens in this uncertain world, they will know that they are fine and loved and protected, just as they are, with nothing to change. Unless they want to.

So, is marriage forever? My answer is yes, if it works out that way. And no, if it works out that way. Reality sort of comes first, because as Byron Katie says, “When you argue with reality you lose, every time.”
And when I drop the arguing, I am free to take the best of what is left and move on.


Monday, March 9, 2009

Raw Religion

It's been 16 months since I left my identity as a raw foodist behind. Even though I was only raw a year, I don't think I'd ever felt as comfortable in my own skin as when I lived on raw foods, juices and green smoothies.

Being raw was not just a lifestyle, it became my religion, metaphorically speaking. So when I rebelled against events in my life at the time, I rebelled in a big way, leaving the raw food world behind with it.

It was Thanksgiving weekend 2007, and I remember because it was the same time that my 19+ year marriage ended, officially, and I'd been nursing a six-day migraine to boot. So I reached for a 2-liter bottle of Dr. Pepper and some pumpkin pie and became a cooked food eater again--just like that (hey, at least the migraine left).

The past couple of months I've been feeling like re-entering the raw world, to feel healthy and to look 'myself' again. But I don't want to approach it so much as a religion this time -- following specific rules and worrying about doing something 'wrong' -- but just be more flexible in my approach, more balanced. No all-or-nothingness this time around.

I'd do more greens, more minerals, and maybe not end up with extended migraines. I'd do more yoga and maybe just enjoy this amazing body more.

All things I could of course be doing right now, but....

I don't want another identity or religion defining who I am (or am not), but am ready to do what feels good. And I remember how good raw felt. So here's to the possible journey and enjoying the trip.

Credit: photo courtesy of free digital photos.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

It's All God

While showering this (Sunday) morning, I got to musing on how religion can be like the military-- institutions with rules designed to protect and defend against something; usually something bad.

We use the military to protect ourselves from seen enemies and religion to protect ourselves against unseen enemies, which often ironically includes ourselves.

We even divide religions into segments: Baptists, Mormons, Catholics, Evangelicals and Christian Scientists like we separate the U.S. military into Air Force, Navy, Army Marines, and Coast Guard not to mention the elite forces like the Green Berets or Navy Seals.

Holy cow, we seem to find a lot of ways to separate ourselves from each other.

But what if, there is nothing to defend or protect ourselves from? What if it's all God? Everything? Christian, Jew, Muslim, Buddhist, atheist, and all the rest? In our quest for protection and defense, are we actually just fending off Life itself?

What if we don't have to GO anywhere or DO anything to BE WITH God? Maybe God is with us, all of us; right here, right now, anywhere and everywhere we happen to find ourselves. And that could be at church, the laundry room, a battlefield, a bar, or a meadow. In a temple, a cathedral, a mosque, a chapel, a pagoda or a forest.

Maybe we are already okay; safe and blessed and protected. Maybe we already are free.

Credit: photo courtesy of free digital photos

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Wake Up Now

For some time now, the one book I'd want with me during an emergency or should I ever be stranded on some remote tropical island ala Castaway--is Eckhart Tolle's A New Earth.

Well, today I fell in love with another book that feels like breathing a restive sigh into peacefulness: Wake Up Now, A Guide to the Journey of Spiritual Awakening by Stephan Bodian. In the first chapter I am reminded of my friend Pam, possibly it was she who recommended it originally.

Acquiring the book was slightly bizarre, because even though it was scheduled for delivery from Amazon today, UPS left a note on my door saying basically, oh, sorry, can't deliver this without your handwritten signature after I personally hand it to you.

I called UPS to complain that I've never had to do that before to get packages. The hotline UPS lady insisted they would deliver during my work hours, and not on weekends when I could actually be home, so if I wanted my book I must haul myself down to their distribution center in Orem. Which I was disinclined to do.

But after a few episodes of Two and a Half Men and some dinner (and after having complained via e-mail to Amazon asking them what they were smoking when they put such an asinine request on this shipment, because after all, it's a book, not an emerald bracelet), I decided to brave the night and it's inclement windy weather to pick up the book.

And so at 8:00 p.m. found myself at this HUGE UPS distribution center, and met a nice woman who talked about her 3 jobs (she's single) and who sheepishly admitted the mix-up might have been due to the newbie delivery guy (oops, sorry, Amazon).

Once home, in a hot bath, book in hand, the journey with Stephan began. And already he feels like a kindred spirit!

Now I must send an e-mail of apology to Amazon for being so testy.

But first, a quote from Rumi in Wake Up Now:
"I have lived on the lip, of insanity, wanting to know reasons,
knocking on a door. It opens.
I've been knocking from the inside!"

Credit: photo courtesy of

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Raw Ramen?

In an attempt to go a little more raw while making use of what I had at home, I came up with a soup for dinner that may offend both raw foodists and die-hard processed fooders in one go:

2 packets ramen chicken soup
5 leaves organic black kale, chopped
1 large organic green onion, chopped
juice of 1/2 large lemon
onion powder, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, thyme
hot water to cover

Put noodles in large bowl. Heat water and pour over noodles. Cover with plate to keep steam in. Wait until soft (about 3 minutes) and add veggies, spices, herb. Stir and enjoy while hot.

It made my nose run (too liberal with the cayenne) but it was actually good and felt slightly virtuous. Didn't drink the broth at the end though, granting the kidneys some reprieve from all that sodium...


A few years ago I opened a forwarded mass e-mail from a dear friend at my church about how an ex-member, Martha Beck, wrote a book slamming one of our revered church members (Hugh Nibley, Martha's own father).

I'd actually been to one of his lectures and, when I could understand what he was saying, enjoyed it. I boarded the bandwagon and wrote Oprah criticizing Martha's book--never mind that I hadn't actually read it. But surely she was wrong, and surely the world needed my dissenting opinion (all together now, let's roll our eyes in unison.) Oddly, Oprah failed to call me on her show to confront the errant miss Martha.

Fast forward.

A beloved, LOA Martha-Beck-certified Salt Lake City Master Life coach (yeah I know, it's exhausting just writing it) Jeannette Maw, spoke often and highly about Martha. Out of curiosity I read some of her books (Finding Your Own North Star: Claiming the Life You Were Meant to Live; The Four Day Win: End Your Diet War and Achieve Thinner Peace; The Joy Diet: 10 Daily Practices for a Happier Life) and online writings--and was instantly hooked. She was wry, real, and hilariously on the mark, and I ruefully admit to being wrong about Martha.

Last week she did it again, with a powerful article on trust. Perfect timing, as just this week I'd had a conversation with a chiropractor encouraging me to get back into the dating field, because "There are really good men out there". I'd mumbled something about not being able to trust myself to find them. Enter Martha's article, which arrived via Oprah's (long forgiven, I could never stay huffy with O) online newsletter.

Trust me on this one (or not), Martha's wit is electrifyingly eye-opening. Check it out:

P.S. she sounds an awful lot like another dear friend, Byron Katie....and we can talk about her later over a steaming cup of herbal tea.