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In polite company

laura Brandlen

Ok…..I said (to myself) that I would not blog about politics.  Anyone who knows me well knows I don’t even talk about it on any social media.  I was raised in the generation that had this one rule.  You don’t talk about politics, sex, religion, race or money in polite company.  This got me thinking about the definition of polite company.  What is that?  

Definition of in polite company

  1. :  in formal settings :  with people you do not know well <It's not something you should talk about in polite company.>

Well then Facebook DOES NOT qualify.  Yet that is a forum many people are expressing their political views ranging from emotional outburst to general statements.  Facebook does not constitute polite company nor is it the place to find true and valid information in every post.  There have been many debates on important issues fiercely fought over on the Facebook forum.  Some are good, virtuous and full of important info.  Others pure nonsense.  

I have many people close to me (parents, children & husband) whom all voted for Trump. To keep the peace I have not talked to them about our current political climate.  Recently my husband and I watched an episode of John Oliver (we used to watch him, John Stewart and the Colbert Report quite regularly) and I was pleasantly surprised to find him agreeing with what was being reported about Trump.  I wasn’t sure if he was going to defend him to end as some people I’ve seen.

A very good friend recently shared with me the need for political discussions and how our “dance” to avoid this touchy subject should be dropped.  In fact let’s agree to stop calling it a touchy subject.  It’s just a subject and very needed one to be discussed.  Meet the new generation.  What a breath of fresh air.  So I am going to stop shying away from those kinds of discussions and get myself caught up on all the ins and outs of politics.  See politics was never discussed in my home growing up and with that “shhhhhhhh….not in polite company” policy I never took the time to really get to know how the system worked.  The days of “in polite company” are over.  

So let’s talk.  You and me.  

Tell me what you think.  I really want to know.  Like when is it appropriate?  When is it none of someone’s business?   When is it none of your business?  How do you handle your close relationships and political discussions?  How have you managed to save a relationship?  Or destroy one?  

How to ride a bike (do life)

laura Brandlen

Find a bucket to where as a hat.

Negotiate saddling your riding apparatus with care.

Get plenty of sleep the night before.

Eat your greens.

Drink plenty of water.

Take naps regularly.

Drop everything to watch airplanes in the sky and motorcycles fly by.  

Water everything.

Sing while you color.

Hug often.

Call your Mom.

Barter with cookies.

Chase birds.

Kiss dogs.

Learn to doodle.

Play instruments.

Shriek with joy when you get it.

Jump rope and pounce in puddles.

Stomp to the music.

Eat popsicles.

Dance with Grandma Happy.

Sit in circles.

Ride bikes with friends.

I came here to be a Mother

laura Brandlen

I came here to be a Mother. 

I didn’t always know this.  In fact, I just figured it out at the age of 54 with three grown girls and grandbabes.  I came to this conclusion as I was reading The War of Art by Steven Pressfield.  In it he ascertains “we show up (born) possessing already a highly refined and individuated soul” and “We’re not born with unlimited choices, we can’t be anything we want to be, we come into this world with a specific, personal destiny.  We have a job to do, a calling to enact, a self to become.  We are who we are from the cradle, and we’re stuck with it”.  One of his examples were “if we were born to raise and nurture children, it’s our job to become a Mother” and I quickly passed that one up thinking “no way”.  I have continually questioned many ways in which I have raised my girls and considered myself “lucky” when I happened to do something “right” and winced acutely when recalling the things I did “wrong”.  And even unthinkable.  But there was something about this idea that had me pondering this as a very real possibility gaining clarity with each memory recalled.

It’s been part of my story since I was born.  My own Mother did not care much for me.  I don’t mean in the way of feeding me or making sure I had a bed to sleep in or a roof over my head.  I mean in a nurturing kind of way.  Like she was never interested in me, she was more interested in herself.  Rather self-absorbed.  She was an only child.  If we believe that we pick our parents’ then it would make sense that I would pick one that could NOT mother me well.  It is what we lack or are deprived of that we work so hard at creating or overcoming once given the chance. 

At age 19 I became pregnant with the FIRST man I’ve ever had sex with while using the rhythm method. (yes…..we really did use the method as prescribed)

At age 21 I became pregnant while on the pill.  (missed taking my pills for two consecutive days)

At age 26 became pregnant while using prophylactics.  (rubber broke ONE time and that time just happened to be within the 12-24 hours of my ovulation cycle….and oh ya….said sperm had been considered “weak” as the owner’s Dr. claimed him to be borderline sterile)

So let’s recap here…….I become pregnant three different times using three different types of birth control.  What did Steve say “we are who we are from the cradle, and we’re stuck with it”.  No amount of birth control was going to change my course in Mothering. 

So how does this Mothering dynamic play out in my relationships?

Husband number two had survived raising himself and sister with absentee Mom.  Sister grows up angry and vocal about abandonment while he develops a very strong armor of “I don’t need you”.  That “you” became the symbol for all women.  I finally figured out I needed someone who at least needed me back, a little, so I left.

Husband number three (current) survived his mother leaving him and his two brothers at an early age to be raised by their Father.  He then survived his own wife leaving him to raise their three boys by himself.  So here I have found myself with a motherless Man and his motherless boys. 

All these motherless men. 

There are strong Women who have come along and “mothered” me in ways that have enriched my life and as I continue to meet more I see how they have turned into “sisters”.  In my 30’s I stumbled upon a Woman’s initiation gig called Sister Moon Circle.  We spent nine months working with the Maiden, Mother and the Crone.  From that group I gathered three strong and wise women to sit with me at my Mother’s funeral.

We Mother each other in our sisterhood of circles. 

I came here to be a Mother and now I feel like I can relax about all those other unrealized dreams.  This takes the pressure off from having to be a piano playing vocalist like Diana Krall.  She’s got that.  I can be inspired by her as I sing my heart out on karaoke night AND that is plenty good enough and all the energy I need to put into that endeavor, dream.  I don’t have to save the world with some kind of brilliant Ted talk, or cure for cancer, or energy saving invention.

This mothering thing explains my constant worry and motivation to find solutions for homelessness.  This problem tears me up inside and I can’t stop thinking about ways to combat it and create a sustainable solution.  THERE HAS TO BE A WAY to do it differently.  Humanly.  The fact that I just used the word “combat” eludes to the fight ahead.  It is a constant battle on the streets.  Our streets.  Their streets.  We are not separate or different and we need to learn how to share that road ahead. 

So what now? 

I’m going to find some other “Moms” out there and as we sit around the table sharing our stories I believe we will begin to be able to draw together our collective nurturing souls to find the solution that sustains our humanity.

my cousin and I circa 1972