Archive | Tolerance RSS feed for this section

Help, I’ve Lost My Big Girl Pants

21 Aug

There are many a thing I’d like to be more consistent about in my life. For instance, exercise–I would love to up my personal discipline to include a daily walk, on incline terrain, or a bike ride. Right now I’m maybe hitting that goal 3x’s per week, which means my waistline is nearing extinction. Another area of nagging thought, is to write my blog posts (this forum) more consistently, even if just to state something small of value (subjective I know). Both of these inconsistencies in my life are part of my personal goals. They matter to me, therefore they matter. I don’t have a following that requires I write, but I would like my creative writing skills to get more of a work out. And on that note, I honestly just feel better in the land of the living when my physicality is ready to support my shenanigans. So exercise to keep muscles strong gets “goal real estate.” And though tonight my walk and/or bike ride fell off the table of options, I still have just enough juice in my brain to attempt a post–sans my reading glasses (they are in the other room and I dare not loose steam in writing by getting up from this captured moment), so please forgive any blindness errors in typing.

This past week my siblings and I were affected by the sudden death of the husband of a childhood friend. Her husband was only 51 years young and leaves, in addition to his wife, two young girls. Just like that, life as it has been known, shifts. I understand this foundational movement, it’s like the tectonic plates of our lives slip and the tidal wave of change hits at every level. It is stifling! Now not everything I do or think is underpinned with loss, but truly loss lives within me and the effects of it are an underlying reality. So when news hits, such that came last week, those of us carrying the heavy burden already can empathize with those new to the experience. And in empathy there is pain. And in pain, there is exhaustion. And in exhaustion is where I loose my big girl pants.

Big girl pants, or the expression rather, is the notion of higher ground. For the most part it is where I live mentally–a place where I filter my thoughts through the lens of what matters here on earth to our loving creator. I like higher ground, it is a kinder place to be. There is less judgment of others there. There is less time for offense there. Higher ground has the scope of view that understands multiple perspectives, compassion for those unable to see at that same level, and honestly a bit more “brain peace” (quotations used to relay my own creation of term(s)). Aaahhh–brain peace, that is the stuff I enjoy most. Brain peace is when I can hit the pillow and rejoice in a guilt free, regret free environment. And yet, brain peace is not devoid improved planning, constructive corrections, nor even introspective considerations. It’s not ignorant to local, national and global issues. Brain peace knows pain, but not shame. Brain peace helps soothe the aching soul. I like brain peace!

However, last week upon learning the news of loss, the higher ground of which I seek took a dive and I got caught bare-side blank. Yep, my big girl pants were lost and my ass laid bare! What ensued was a mess; seeing the petty faults in others, feeling irritated by being slighted, complaining about circumstances around me and feeling sorry for all the tales of woe I could conjure up. I did catch on to the fact that I was my own problem, not the everything else to which I had ascribed the blame. Even so, I had to suffer through some rough nights devoid brain peace as I wrestled with my angst. Now please know, I didn’t mention the death earlier on so as to have justifiable cause to deviate into low-level thinking. I share the news because of its relevance. Loss is an ongoing antagonist. I carry on in life but still with the weight of loss upon me. Yes, soul muscles get strengthened in time, but the burden is still being carried. It is a very real thing and when a tragedy hits close to home, or close to those we love, our own grief is right there ready to claim its rightful ownership of mind, soul, heart and body. In plain English, we get worn down–I get worn down. And in that place of mental and physical tiredness, I get bugged.

Now the good news is I did find my big girl pants. Of course I knew I would, it was just a matter of time. And even though I played a game of mental ping-pong with reluctancy while searching for them, not only did I find them, I opted to put them back on. Whew! Moving into this mid-week mindset my recovery report still shows quasi progress. I’m not at full altitude but the ascent is in motion. The higher ground beckons, the panties secure.

I will say, in all of this mumbo jumbo of a blog post, I do wish one thing…to have all people wear grown up pants and consider kindness before other options. But for now I will satisfy myself in trying to keep mine on, which makes enduring the naked a truly attainable goal.

Vintage Floral Pants

BentRivka Big Girl Pants

 

 

Grace, she is my Mercy

28 Sep

**I wrote this piece a while back. And now, amidst the global natural disasters we are under, I am feeling as if this piece is a bit too selfish. But I share it anyway, because the sentiments were (and are), legitimate. The Medical Board of CA called today because they are reviewing a doctor who treated Cole, they are concerned his care was unethical…

I’ve been using the phrase “I need grace and mercy,” this past year more than ever! It is not that I didn’t have use or previous need of the extension of that which grace bestows, but I am recognizing the consistent failings of my humanity and the longing therein for compassion’s salve. Honestly, I have my “shit together.” That just means I am of sound mind and physical ability and utilize these tools as I carry on in life. Beyond that, I am damaged goods bouncing along this road of life and hoping to not hurt others as result of my own struggles. Of course grace is a divine assistance and not really a human trait, but it is the foundation of mercy; compassion or forgiveness shown to someone whom it is within one’s power to punish or harm.

The above statements aren’t necessarily illuminating. They aren’t meant to be. To me they are just facts I am sharing. Really what I want to focus on in this post is the reality of sorrows imposition upon the soul; and the tangible need for grace from above and mercy here below. How I see it (visually) is much like bowling with a child, when the bumpers are up on the sides so the ball can safely bounce back and forth down the lane in order to accomplish the intended goal of knocking down some pins. I see the extension of grace as the bumpers, and the hurt person the ball aggressively moving from side to side until the bumpers have absorbed enough friction to calm it down, and set it straight. Of course the knocked pins are the victory, the accomplishment of the goal through much aid, protection and mercy. Funny I should use a bowling analogy…not really a game I play, ever. Perhaps its a subliminal homage to my grams–now she was a bowler!

Here’s the thing, if you don’t know or fathom rather, the need for compassion’s touch–bless you and my sincere prayer is you remain in the good favor of the almighty. But if you do, if you are someone who has suffered a sorrow that is debilitating and you have to find somehow, someway to keep on living, then you understand the profound need for compassion from others whether in small or large doses.

The reason for this is simple, it really does take a great deal of energy to usurp the pain of loss. To daily strive to allow joy to be present, and to even be an active participant in life’s activities such as grabbing a cup o’ joe (coffee), can consume a days worth of effort. This doesn’t leave much energy left for superficiality, self centered choices, inconsiderate behaviors, and intolerable acts. And because those, too, exist within the daily walk of humanity the energy left at the end of the day is most often only enough for “a little bit more.” This my friends is where the gift of mercy is most appreciated…

It is here, at this point, at the exhaustion from living-in-pain point, where you will find the newly, unimproved, Rivka. The Rivka who gives an answer with a sharp tongue (ok, that’s always been my strong point!). The Rivka who hasn’t much to talk about (new found trait). The Rivka who doesn’t want to go to social events (ever). The Rivka who uses the F-word to get a point across or when stubbing a toe (learned in the hospital alongside my paralyzed son). The Rivka who doesn’t call (because she’s out of words). The Rivka who falls short on birthday celebrations (birthdays are overrated, are they not?). The Rivka who has no patience for people’s judgement (of myself or others). The Rivka who doesn’t get excited when things go wrong (I live daily in the “wrong” of my son’s death). The Rivka who wants to annihilate inconsiderate drivers (move them off the road). The Rivka who might not seem burdened by heartbreak (but is). The Rivka who is struggling just to connect to this world (but thankfully does). And, it is at this point you will find the Rivka who is desperately in need of compassion or forgiveness when it is (justifiably) within one’s power to punish or harm her.

Knowing this about myself allows me to don a cloak of empathy most of the time, which has just about shut out my ability to cast judgement (still in me are ill thoughts toward those that callously hurt others, and cars that don’t let me merge onto the freeway). In practical terms, I recognize I am overusing the grace of G-d and the mercy of humans on an ongoing basis. And as such, am using some of my depleted energy bank to ensure I am not stingy in considering whom else might be traveling down life’s lane with the bumpers up.

And if I’m real here in this post, I can confess I hope this writing will challenge each of us to consider further the grumpy person in line at a store and the fact that their story might be wearing them down. Or the aloof individual who doesn’t reciprocate a friendly smile, who might just be making it under the weight of loss. Of course none of this encouragement is new, there are scriptures and proverbs that guide in this wisdom. But in our humanity we forget and so a reminder is not such a bad idea.

 

Eyes to See

16 Feb

*disclaimer:

I carry the burden of the loss of my son daily. It doesn’t matter if I’m joyful, silent, tired, hungry, irritable, sassy, asleep or awake–the weight of grief is upon my soul always. Yet today I will sidestep my own grief progression to take on that of another.


If you have been following me through the several years I have been writing here at Bentrivka.com then you will undoubtedly have picked up a few clues about my love of riding a bicycle. I am quite grateful for the ability to ride and the area in which I live with the many bike trails offered. My physicality is not something I take for granted, in that I recognize even the fine motor skills at play that make it possible for me to do the activities I love.

Well this past weekend I had the time, inclination and need for a long coastal bike trail excursion. You see I had a migraine, and for some reason riding my bike makes me think the migraine will subside naturally. It doesn’t but I still give it a try even though I usually end up needing aspirin and an ice-pack anyway. It was a bright sunny day and the sun felt great, with its warmth upon my skin, while the cool of the breeze maintained my body temp at a perfect level. I had my big dark sun glasses on and of course a spaghetti strap black dress (typical Rivka riding attire). I had a long sleeve Brian Bent custom t-shirt on over my dress and a jacket around my waist “just in case” it was needed (always carry a jacket, that’s my motto). I also had a pair of black capri leggings on under my dress because the breeze was a bit cool for my reptilian tendencies.

In cooler weather you would find me bedecked with a wool sweater on under the jacket (not tied around my waist but on me proper and zipped up to the collar). I would have a wool scarf tied around my neck or draped over my head and around my neck to both keep my ears and entire head warm. I might also have on gloves and a wool beret. All of this is quite normal…normal that is for me!

I was well prepared for my bike ride a few days ago except for one thing. I should have worn a visor to prevent the sun from shining down directly upon my eyes. With a migraine my eyes become quite sensitive to light and though I had my dark lens glasses on, the glare still penetrated without a covering. Realizing half way into the ride that the bright sun was exacerbating the headache pain, I took my long sleeve black shirt off of my body and placed it on my head, overhanging my sunglasses just slightly with the arms tied around the back of my neck. This helped tremendously, it blocked the direct light and I was able to continue the ride in more comfort.

I was pretty sure I looked ridiculous but that is never cause to stop me from arranging my dress in form or fashion of my choosing. So the looks and constant glances from other athletic passerby’s I took in stride. Until…

A man passing by me, going the opposite direction on his bike, looked at me and point blankly said, “Go Home!” And he kept riding. Go home? Did I really hear him correctly? Could he really have been so ignorant and stupid to yell that to me? “Go Home,” he said.

Even as I write this here my soul grieves and I sigh deeply. This man, this person whom knew me not, looked my way and saw a Muslim woman. The stupidity of his comment to a woman with a head-covering on while exposing her chest, shoulders and arms is just over the top ludicrous. And for some reason of which I cannot fathom, he thought it right and justified to tell her to “go home.” Now please understand, I am not grieving my own story here. Rivka (me) is not a Muslim woman wearing a head covering because of her faith and enduring the sneers and jeers from others as result. Make no mistake, I am not offended because of something that was said to me. I am deeply disgusted that anyone would cast such hatred to another…ever. My heart breaks for the unjustified (and ignorant) discrimination that continues still today. And right here in this supposed liberal la-la land in which I live called, California. My story, too, comes on the heels of my husband sharing with me that at our local shopping mall the daughter of a friend wore a head scarf and was told to “take that thing off” by other shoppers. A story I was disinclined to believe, until my own bike ride experience.

I wish I could step in and “take the hit” for another in every case of discriminatory attack. I would take it because it’s a third-party pain making the impact just slightly more bearable. I wake up white and able which, in this day, puts me at an advantage in dodging preconceived scrutiny. But then I remember that the European Jews during the time of Hitler were white, able and some of them even fought for their country during WWI. Ship me back in time and my “advantage” subsides. Oh world we have come so far in technological progress, have we really grown so little as a people?

Sorrow I have. Anger I have too; but hatred is not a part of me. I will stand firm against it. Using my voice and keeping the love of the Lord in Heaven the governor of my soul, I will stand against it. And with this proclamation comes the real challenge, to not hate the hater.

bentrivka

 

%d bloggers like this: