my heart looks like your heart

my heart looks like your heart

Sunday, October 28, 2012

searching for robbie wood. and finding the human spirit.

today is the anniversary of the amazing rescue of robbie wood, jr.

this time last year, thousands gathered together, hugged, and cried, rejoiced, and cried some more, when the young robbie wood was found alive after a week long exhaustive search in the woods of doswell, virginia.  robbie, an autistic 9 year old, had separated from his family on sunday, october 23, 2011.

i was part of this search, every day, going first thing in the morning and staying until i was told to leave.  it was an experience i will never be able to forget, nor would i want to, for so many reasons, on so many levels.

one of my very best friends joined me and i remember the breath escaping both of us simultaneously as we pulled into the parking lot that very first morning of the search, and we saw the tremendously long line of volunteers which had already formed.  people who stopped their own world from turning, and went instead where their hearts led them.

there were almost no words.  we understood this in this fragile moment, and we managed to mutter something to each other about human spirit.  with heavy hearts it felt as though we walked as one, to join the line.

we stood in line from early morning until afternoon, to register and receive instructions regarding the search.   i can't explain how it was that we could not be anywhere else at any moment in time on that day.

strangers hugged one another, helped one another, and came together right before our eyes.
the tension, the fear, the gratitude, the hope, was rampant.

one of the volunteers

we searched until dark and returned home with weariness, anxiety ... and tension, fear, gratitude, and hope.

the next day brought more of the same, but less time waiting and more time searching.  the people in charge were amazing and tireless.  the woods were so thick in areas that we literally could not see 3 feet away from where we were and we had to constantly call out to each other to know by sound that we were not alone, and that we were still together as a team.  there were thickets and holes and all kinds of random things and places to search in, under, behind, and through.  there were swamps and ponds and water holes that we walked through, hills and trenches that we climbed, all the while feeling for a child and looking for any clothing or evidence that he was there or had once been there.  with every step forward, around, and sideways, there was hope.  we all wanted to find robbie, in a bad way.  but at the same time, we did not want to find him "in a bad way" or (and these are difficult words) not alive.  so when i say that with every step there was hope, believe me when i say that with every step there was also fear.  at the end of the day, it was physically hard to leave.  we didn't want to go and return to the safety and warmth of our own homes, with our own families, knowing this child was still lost, temperatures were freezing, and his family was still aching.  with every return, every night fall, there was prayer, meditation, and faith.

every day was the same.

although i was tied in emotional knots and physically exhausted, i spent time awake every night watching my own children sleep, listening to them, breathing their breath, and kissing their innocent and unknowing faces.

at the end of the week, just as we were returning from a search around lunchtime, we received word that robbie had been found.  through tears and smiles and hugs and words that i cannot even remember, we managed to move toward the tents full of volunteers serving food and drinks, and we anxiously awaited more news.  hearing that robbie was not only found, but also alive and okay, was enough to bring people to their knees.  my search partner had not been able to come that morning, and he was turned away when he did arrive in the afternoon, because there were more than enough volunteers already that day which could be trained and organized before dusk.  although he had left, he turned his car around and came all the way back, to be a part of this monumental moment.  we were all in shock i think, and it would be some time before we could realize that it really was over.

for several weeks afterwards i could literally not go any number of minutes without thinking about it, talking about it, feeling it.  i was very fortunate to meet one of the deputies during the search, who was kind enough to entertain my insatiable need to discuss it, and he said to me days later, "hasn't there ever been anything that happened in your life that you could not explain?"

these words have never left me.  i am quite certain that he does not know the effect this had on me, how i treasure his personhood, and how his words have rested in my soul, just laying quietly there, but living strongly with every rise and fall of my chest.

i still think about it, i still talk about it, and i still feel it.
we all searched for robbie.  with faith, hope, and love.
and we all witnessed the human spirit.  alive.  strong.  and invincible.
my gratitude
is never-ending.

 the flag raised afterwards in celebration of robbie's rescue

Thursday, October 25, 2012

honoring our connections

sometimes there are people who come into our life and we don't know how it was that we ever did not know them.

sometimes there are people who we connect with, even before we really speak.

sometimes there are people who we cannot disconnect from, even after we part.

there are those who touch our heart,
challenge our mind,
feed our soul.

i believe it is important to honor our connections.  no matter how big or small they might seem today.  no matter how much bigger or smaller they might become on any other day.

i believe it is important to see inside them and really treasure who lives in there. 

the gift of their presence might seem effortless,
but it is their greatest truth,
their spirit,
their journey,
and deserves to be handled with care.

so be thankful.

be thankful.

and be


Saturday, October 20, 2012

i am not my body: i am me

it's always interesting to me, to experience the many different ways that others experience me.

does that make sense?

the way people respond to others is always very telling.  it tells so much about the person doing the responding, and i am fascinated by this from a sociological perspective.

this week i have had the privilege of learning a lot about this exact thing.

by last night i felt very much like i had been beaten down.  partly by people i know, and partly by people i didn't even know existed in this world.  judgment is a very interesting thing.

and you know what?  i felt this even though i stand by the following idea:

i am not my body.  i believe the words of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin:  "we are not human beings having a spiritual experience, we are spiritual beings having a human experience."

anyone who knows me knows that i believe this to the fullest; and that i am often heard saying the words:  "i am not my outsides."

so this week a picture of me, in all my natural born nakedness, was posted on Facebook.  it was certainly not a sexual or pornographic photograph in any way.  it was just a straight forward body shot ... i am proud of it, and saddened by the truth of how some people responded to it.  not saddened for myself, but saddened for what it says about human nature and instinctive response.

here is how some of the thread went:

one comment: omg there is a picture of you naked on fb. thought i should tell you so you can delete it before anyone sees it!
me: why would i want to do that?

another comment: oh no. you must be so embarrassed.
me: why would i be embarrassed? embarrassed of what?

here are my thoughts:
1) i am not my body. i am my insides, i am not my outsides.
2) having said that, i am proud of my body. it has been pregnant multiple times, survived multiple miscarriages, and produced 2 healthy human beings. it kept those 2 human beings alive solely on the milk it created. it has scars, stretch marks, and the effects of aging. and i am proud to have it. it is not perfect and i don't care. i am grateful that in my 40s anyone at all wants to take a picture of it. 
3) nudity does not equal sex. if you think it does, that says a lot about you, not me. in fact, sex does not even require nudity (gasp!) i have seen profile pictures of women and girls who are not old enough to vote, that are more provocative and suggestive than this. my parents and my children were present at this shoot and my dad took pictures of me as well. in all of the modeling i have done i have never shot anything sexual in nature. any photographer i have worked with can attest to that and the fact that i work with integrity and respect.
4) if you are judging me, i am glad this is a picture of my outsides and not your insides.

i haven't always loved my body; i was teased when i was younger, and i have been on the receiving end of many insults regardless of my age, about being too thin, not having meat on my bones, assumptions that i never eat, or whatever anyone thinks is okay to say.  i was told once that nursing was ruining my body.  i have had times, as everyone has, of wishing my body were different.  it has taken me a long time to finally feel good about it and embrace it and be nothing but thankful for the miraculous healthy machine that it is.  whatever it looks like.  it is the only body i have to carry me around in this place, and i am not embarrassed of it.  i am grateful for it and respectful of it.

i was also told this week by more than one person that i should be ashamed.  that i should consider how my children will be affected by such a thing.  that i am inappropriate.  odd.  gross.     (gross? really?  don't we all have bodies?  human bodies?  made basically the same?)  again ... some of these were people i know and some were not; they were merely judging me and stating their opinion.  i know that this says everything about them, and not a thing about me.  if someone says i am inappropriate, that can be what they think, but that doesn't make it true any more than if they said i am a penguin.  their perspective is true for them.  not for me.  i know that the way we see things is according to the way we think and the things we believe and the experiences we have had.  and i also know that just because we think something, that doesn't make it true.  our opinions and beliefs are not necessarily "right" for everyone else.  we are no better for believing what we believe, and no one else is better than we are, for believing what they believe.  it is not our place to insist our beliefs on others, nor is it their place to push theirs on us.

"it's one thing to feel you are on the right path, but it's another to think that yours is the only path." -Paulo Coelho

just because i am not embarrassed or modest about my outsides, i am not conservative nor shy, that doesn't have to translate into me being ugly on the inside or any of the other things that people threw at me this week.  i know this because i know who i am.  and i know that people will see what they choose to see.

the facebook thread continued and i responded:

i believe there is something for me to learn from every person, even when they are in disagreement with me or judgmental. i respect their right to their own opinion and i am grateful that they feel they can express it to me. but even though i am a peacekeeper, i have learned that i do not need to withhold my own thoughts in order to keep peace. i know that when others have opinions that they believe are "right" ... that doesn't mean i am wrong if i think differently. and likewise, they are not "wrong" if they don't believe as i do. i have learned to live with the judgments of others for whatever it is that they believe. i choose to stand as me, be the soul of where i stand, and believe in myself, you, others, love, and peace. i don't judge those who judge me. i go to sleep at night knowing who i am.

so to anyone judging me in those ways, i only say i am sorry that you struggle with that which is different than yourself.  a lack of openness towards the differences in all of us only leads to a lack of growth and a smaller experience of this wonderful life.  you can wish that i were different ... because perhaps that would make you more comfortable in your own skin, but i am not going to change who i am due to your issues or your particular sensitivities.  i am not going to become what you want me to become.  it is not my responsibility to mold myself into what makes you feel good.  i am not here to satisfy you.  you do not have to like me or like to look at me, but you have every right to your opinion and every right to look or go the other way and get back to your own life.

if you are offended by my body, that's okay with me. you don't have to look at it. isn't that awesome??

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

peace on my skin

this necklace carries very special meaning and is extremely important to me.  it was made by my lifelong friend, richie pavlak. 

this necklace kind of earmarks the beginning of our friendship.  it was the first of many pieces that richie made for me.  and it was a total surprise, as he would later tell me our friendship was to him. 

when i first met richie, he was getting coffee at starbucks.  i was leaving and had one hand on the door when i saw him through the corner of my eye.  he was trying to get his wheelchair close enough to the counter and get his coffee without any trouble.  i did the worst thing.  i immediately let go of the door and walked over to help him.  the reason this was the worst thing, is because i would soon learn that that is exactly what richie would not have wanted anyone to do.  he "could get his own damn coffee by himself, dammit!"

the next time i saw him, again at starbucks, i noticed he was wearing a ring that was identical to one of mine.  it was silver and turquoise, made on a reservation.  i mentioned it to him (how serendipitous!?) and we soon discovered our mutual love for jewelry.  two weeks later at what was now our new favorite meeting place, he asked me to come speak with him before i left.  when i did, he presented me with this necklace.  i was so moved, i did what i always do at the feet of genuine kindness:  i cried.  i told him i had nothing to pay him with and that i had already spent my money on coffee ... we both laughed but he said, "i don't want any money for it. i made it for you. if you will wear it, that will make me very happy.  that will be worth more than any payment."

another thing i did not know at this point was that making jewelry was part of richie's therapy to regain the use of his hands.  he had been severely injured in a skiing accident and was too strong of a spirit to listen to the doctors when they told him there were things he would never be able to do again.  he went on to make more pieces than I could have ever imagined.  years later we joined him at events where he set up tables of displays, full of his work to sell, and my children were thrilled to help him. 

he joined us for lunch and live music in the park in our historical downtown district. 

we went restaurant hopping, sometimes just the two of us, and sometimes with my children in tow. 

richie lived in a nursing home when we met, and along the course of our friendship he was able to move out on his own into an apartment.  he was sooo very proud of this.  at christmas we made dough ornaments and brought him a christmas tree filed with homemade love.  it was a wonderful experience for us, and we have been forever touched by the way richie allowed us into his life, into his world. 

i have many pieces from him and i treasure them all, but this one is different.  this one was the beginning.  

richie's passing was unexpected and shocking to me ... and this necklace brings him back to me.  back to the beginning.  the kindness in his eyes.  the excitement in his face when he saw this on my neck.  
it is the sound of his voice.
it is the work of his hands. 
it is his spirit.
it is his heart.  
it is peace.  on my skin. 

Sunday, October 14, 2012

one with one another

when my face
is in your face
forehead to forehead
pulse to pulse


in our own space
we do not see
in our silence
we do not hear

your heart
begins to beat in time
with my heart

i bathe in your breath
and you swallow mine

is where my soul
meets your soul

our spirits dance
in the stillness

and we

Thursday, October 11, 2012

wisdom and truth: the universe according to my 9 year old

my 9 year old:  mommy?  if outer space is infinite, and there's no gravity in space, then how does anyone know if the earth is right side up or upside down?  i mean, who decided that we are right side up?  like on maps and stuff.  whose idea was it to put us that way?

me:  well ... do you think we are right side up ... or upside down ... or sideways?

him:  i don't know.  i mean how can anyone know?  if one person is in space looking at the planet from one way and it's right side up, and another is in space looking at it from another way and it is upside down, the planet itself is still the same.  it doesn't move for each person's view.  so is it right side up or upside down?  who is right?
me:  is there a right?

him:  hmmm.  good question.  i don't think so.  i think it just all depends on how you look at it.  and i think both ways are right.  because to each person it is exactly right to them.  it makes sense however you look at it, from where you are.

me:  what if there are more than 2 people looking at it?

him:  then i think all ways are right.  it's just all about perspective.  you know?

me:  :)  i know ...

Sunday, October 7, 2012

comfort food

guacamole is my #1 comfort food.

this cool rainy fall day seemed the perfect backdrop for making some ... alongside a pot of simmering chili.

after tonight's delicious experience, i felt i would like to share with you ... my successful step by step recipe:

step 1:  make margarita

step 2:  sip margarita while making guacamole

step 3:  eat guacamole while cooking chili

step 4:  put chili in fridge because now i am full.

if i hadn't had a margarita, i might have taken a picture of the guacamole before i ate it.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

love refined = grace defined

"find love, refined,
and there too thou shalt find
grace, defined."

-no one said this that i know of, i just made it up and thought if i used the word "thou" it would look like an official quote ...

grace is defined in many different ways.

i have read the definitions and i agree with all of them.

i have also witnessed and felt grace, and i have decided that where grace lives, love lives:  where love is, grace is ...  and where grace is, love is.

when one person gives another grace:  pardon, mercy, courtesy, kindness ... it is an act of love.  lovingness is at the core where that grace is born.

this can be in any context and can occur in any dynamic.  a stranger can give another person grace.  it comes from a loving heart. without love in his or her heart, i don't know that grace would even come forth to be offered.

and when one person loves another, love refined: free from impurities ... one loves with grace.  grace is defined in that safe harbor.  there is no record keeping of wrongs or acts of blame or begrudging.  the loved one knows that he or she is accepted and celebrated completely and without fail.  pardon is given.  with kindness.  with understanding.  no one is expected to be perfect.  those loved are loved for being who they are.  exactly as they are.  because that is pure.  and nothing else is needed.

if love is the umbrella under which two hearts are safe, grace is the pole, connecting the canopy to the hands which hold it.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

my hand on your heart

my hand on your heart.
your hand on mine.
my shield all around you
which only love,
and help can get through.
breathe peace in our space.
walk freely.
as i walk with you.
we use the power of our words
only in the direction of truth and love.
we believe in others.
we believe in us.
like water,
soft to touch yet strong enough to move the earth,
i move through you
and fill you
like water finds and fills every crevice surrounding every rock
in the river.
our faith in each other
protects us and guides us.
we step surely.
we love purely.
my hand on your heart.
your hand
on mine.