Friday, December 5, 2008
Saturday, November 22, 2008
My friend bobbie has spent the last year on a journey back to herself. For you, bobbie, and to all of us who are forging that path to our own heart. May we all come home to ourselves.
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
The leaders of the movement trembled on seeing a tall, gaunt black woman in a gray dress and white turban, surmounted with an uncouth sunbonnet, march deliberately into the church, walk with the air of a queen up the aisle, and take her seat upon the pulpit steps. A buzz of disapprobation was heard all over the house, and there fell on the listening ear, 'An abolition affair!" "Woman's rights and n------!" "I told you so!" "Go it, d-----!" . . Again and again, timorous and trembling ones came to me and said, with earnestness, "Don't let her speak, Mrs. Gage, it will ruin us. Every newspaper in the land will have our cause mixed up with abolition and niggers, and we shall be utterly denounced." My only answer was, "We shall see when the time comes."
The second day the work waxed warm. Methodist, Baptist, Episcopal, Presbyterian, and Universalist minister came in to hear and discuss the resolutions presented. One claimed superior rights and privileges for man, on the ground of "superior intellect"; another, because of the "manhood of Christ; if God had desired the equality of woman, He would have given some token of His will through the birth, life, and death of the Saviour." Another gave us a theological view of the "sin of our first mother."
There were very few women in those days who dared to "speak in meeting"; and the august teachers of the people were seemingly getting the better of us, while the boys in the galleries, and the sneerers among the pews, were hugely enjoying the discomfiture as they supposed, of the "strong-minded." Some of the tender-skinned friends were on the point of losing dignity, and the atmosphere betokened a storm. When, slowly from her seat in the corner rose Sojourner Truth, who, till now, had scarcely lifted her head. "Don't let her speak!" gasped half a dozen in my ear. She moved slowly and solemnly to the front, laid her old bonnet at her feet, and turned her great speaking eyes to me. There was a hissing sound of disapprobation above and below. I rose and announced, "Sojourner Truth," and begged the audience to keep silence for a few moments.
The tumult subsided at once, and every eye was fixed on this almost Amazon form, which stood nearly six feet high, head erect, and eyes piercing the upper air like one in a dream. At her first word there was a profound hush. She spoke in deep tones, which, though not loud, reached every ear in the house, and away through the throng at the doors and windows
Sojourner Truth, her first language being Dutch, spoke in a dialect that is perhaps difficult for the modern reader. The following is the speech rendered in a modern dialect:
Well, children, where there is so much racket there must be something out of kilter. I think that 'twixt the Negroes of the South and the women at the North, all talking about rights, the white men will be in a fix pretty soon. But what's all this here talking about?
That man over there says that women need to be helped into carriages, and lifted over ditches, and to have the best place everywhere. Nobody ever helps me into carriages, or over mud-puddles, or gives me any best place! And ain't I a woman? Look at me! Look at my arm! I have ploughed and planted, and gathered into barns, and no man could head me! And ain't I a woman? I could work as much and eat as much as a man - when I could get it - and bear the lash as well! And ain't I a woman? I have borne thirteen children, and seen them most all sold off to slavery, and when I cried out with my mother's grief, none but Jesus heard me! And ain't I a woman?
Then they talk about this thing in the head; what's this they call it? [member of audience whispers, "intellect"] That's it, honey. What's that got to do with women's rights or negroes' rights? If my cup won't hold but a pint, and yours holds a quart, wouldn't you be mean not to let me have my little half measure full?
Then that little man in black there, he says women can't have as much rights as men, 'cause Christ wasn't a woman! Where did your Christ come from? Where did your Christ come from? From God and a woman! Man had nothing to do with Him.
If the first woman God ever made was strong enough to turn the world upside down all alone, these women together ought to be able to turn it back, and get it right side up again! And now they is asking to do it, the men better let them.
Obliged to you for hearing me, and now old Sojourner ain't got nothing more to say.
Sunday, November 2, 2008
For someone who loves to express herself in written form, words are just not enough for how I feel right now. There is just so much going on in this life for us--there will be a time for sharing, but for now, these snippets express the direction in which we are moving...
John 6:39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that he has given me, but raise them up at the last day.
(New International Version)
James 1:26-27 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.
Friday, October 31, 2008
THIS is the love of Jesus in action, THIS is walking the talk, THIS is...well, just read it.
DALLAS — A Texas woman went to a housing auction distraught about the prospect of watching strangers bid on her foreclosed home.
Then one of those strangers bought it back for her.
Now Tracy Orr can return to her Pottsboro home, making payments to the woman who unexpectedly and impulsively bought it for her.
"It means so much to all of us," Orr told Dallas television station WFAA. "It's not just a house."
Read the rest of the story here
Thursday, October 30, 2008
I 've been a little envious of all the neat critters kel has at her place...so I was thrilled when this Long-eared Owl showed up in my backyard. I don't know how long she had been watching me play with Penelope, but she didn't seem at all bothered by us.
While trying to identify this beauty, I came across some Native American legends about the owl--and I'm pretty happy about being visited by her. May your way, and mine, be illuminated as changes take place.
Monday, October 13, 2008
The Message (MSG)
Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson
19-20 I call Heaven and Earth to witness against you today: I place before you Life and Death, Blessing and Curse. Choose life so that you and your children will live. And love God, your God, listening obediently to him, firmly embracing him. Oh yes, he is life itself, a long life settled on the soil that God, your God, promised to give your ancestors, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
Tuesday, September 2, 2008
Monday, September 1, 2008
There was a weed in my garden. Right there in the middle of everything, with it's big, spiky, grey-green leaves and spirally stems....I meant to pull it up, but was curious about what was going to show up when those buds finally popped.
On my morning garden walk, this is what greeted me--a glowing poppy, looking like angels had gone skinny-dipping in the birdbath and left their wings behind in their hurry to not be seen.
Emma is one of our bonus kids--she's been around for so long that she's part of the family. (Josh is another, but this isn't about him.) Most summers, Emily and Emma stay with Emma's aunt and uncle in Delaware, South Carolina, and, last year, in Florida. I haven't had a summer with them since they were 12 years old. This summer, however, Emma lived with us--so I got both Ems all to myself!
Emma recently met Jesus--after years of being skeptical and being judged, she met her real, true, living Savior. And let me tell you, there is just nothing like being with a newly in love Christian who asks a lot of questions and has a solid gold foundation of faith. Seeing the Word thru her fresh eyes made it come alive again--(as a matter of fact, I am convinced that there are some chapters that mysteriously appeared in my bible that were not there before.) This led to some interesting mealtimes--which are interesting at the very least, and more often than not, chaotic around here, as we all have very different food personalities--a vegan, a raw vegan, a junkfoodaholic, a carnivore, and a sometimes vegetarian. (Emma has been eating college food and LOVED the raw vegan recipes we tried.) Meal prep seemed to be the only time all of us were in the same room at the same time, and we all have something to say about everything and I couldn't wait for all us girls to be in the kitchen chopping, boiling, tossing, and dancing around each other while MrP pretended to play solitaire in the next room---Anyway, back to Jesus--well, that's another sermon--and the missing parts of my bible:
I have read the Gospels before--haven't I? I have been to enough Sunday School classes, Bible Studies, Sunday services and Wednesday nights that of course I've read the Gospels--haven't I? The first five verses of John are my anchor. But, truly, no, I don't think I have ever read a Gospel from start to finish--and hopping around from verse to verse during Bible studies with the Christmas and Easter stories thrown in once a year doesn't count.
So I started reading John. And it stayed beautiful after the first five verses.
Did you know that Jesus prayed for you? Right there in the Gospel of John, chapter 17. I didn't know that. And still, every time I read that chapter, when I hear Jesus Christ praying for me to carry happiness, to be safe from the Evil One, to make me sacred by the truth, that His love will be within me--well, how does it make you feel to know that the Savior, the Lamb, the Bright and Morning Star is praying for you?
"And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not suppress it." John 1:5
"Make them sacred by the truth: your Word is the the truth." John 17:17
Thursday, July 31, 2008
That was 13 yrs ago. Tommy has had some health issues--when he visited last week, he told everyone,"I'm not drunk, I've had a few strokes!" He's unsteady, keeping his cane close. He can't read his Bible so well anymore. When everyone settled in for a great Tommy sermon, his most fervent words were spoken directly to each person: "GOD LOVES YOU!" As if we hadn't heard that before--but the way he said it, well, I don't think anyone had believed it quite so much until then.
Mr P and Tommy went outside to sit for awhile--like they do---and MrP rolled his big dirt bike right up on the patio and started it. Tommy didn't ask, just made his wobbly way over and got on the bike. And stayed there until life felt right again.
Monday, July 28, 2008
One of my favorite songs, by one of my favorite artists.
Thursday, June 12, 2008
Thursday, June 5, 2008
Wednesday, June 4, 2008
While we all need prayer all of the time, some have opportunities to receive an immeasurable amount of grace. Go and see Emma Grace and her mom, Heather.
Update: Happy Birthday Emma Grace! Her smile makes me feel like it's my birthday!
Tuesday, June 3, 2008
After cutting off 16-18 inches of hair for Locks of Love
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
There's a message board I visit once in a while to see what the Emergent Church is up to. No good, it seems to me. The bickering and arguing about Calvinism vs Armenianism, why do we have to use Him/Her when we refer to God--God is a MAN!; When Peter walked on the water, what spiritual lesson was he supposed to learn according to which theology and which one is RIGHT?
People, people, PEOPLE!
"This is my Father's purpose--that everyone who looks to the Son and believes him will have eternal life." John 6:40
"Let me emphasize this: the person who believes has eternal life." John 6:47
" Didn't I tell you that if you believed, you would see God's splendor?" John 11:40
Amy more questions?
Thursday, May 22, 2008
In front of me are two stacks of papers. One is the itinerary for Abby's trip to France with her French club. Pairs, Loire, the Riviera--she is going to Provence! She'll see the Louvre, stand on the top of the Eiffel Tower, try to find that organic bakery that kel told us about--she will be where I have only dreamed to go. Never in my life did I believe that France would be so ---accessible.
The other stack is all the notes I have taken while talking to my mother. She really doesn't want to know exactly this cancer is about, and no one else does either. The doctor said chemo, so that's what she's doing. Because of the privacy issue, the doctor's staff can't share information with me--not a thing. NOT ANYTHING. And I want to know. EVERYTHING. That's how I deal with issues--get as much info as possible. And now I'm hitting a brick wall because no one in my family has asked any questions. This is the way they deal with crisis--not dealing with it at all.
Just a little history (without the boring details): no, I am not close with my family. At all. I talk with my brother, which is frustrating, as he is a traditional complementarian--he talks to me like I'm simple and he has all the answers because he is a man, made in God's image, and I am a woman, made to glorify man. My insights are met with correction and doubt. He has a good heart, which keeps me from biting his head off...there is no communication with my two sisters or my father--the level of bitterness and hatred from them is unreal and my father--well, he just isn't safe.
What I do know is that my mother has a recurrence cancer in her spine and internal organs. The doctor did advise that my nephew, Justin, come home sooner than later to see his granma--like right now. This was met with puzzlement from my brother: "Why is he coming right now? Why not wait until later when she is better?" Is this faith or denial?
I had a dream/vision at 2:50 exactly on Monday morning. I saw the clock, I was awake--but I was speaking to the cancer in my mother's body. We were in the same place, that cancer and me. "I don't believe you," I said to it. "You are not bigger than my faith. I am in Christ, Christ is in me, and you have no power."
And it spoke back: "But we have permission."
When I think I'm going under
Part the waters Lord.
When I feel the waves around me
Calm the sea.
When I cry for help
O here me Lord
and hold out Your hand.
Touch my life
Still the raging storm in me.
Friday, May 16, 2008
Today I felt the sunshine after a long time under cloudy skies. I knew the sun would come out again, given time. I even prepared to write about Jesus' words "I am existence!" found in Mark 6:50 and how on a morning walk those words connected with John 1:1-5 and...but now that I have a chance to put it all together...
Maybe I'm supposed to connect those words with the words I heard not an hour ago while standing in the Thrift Store with a cart full of bargains---"Mom's cancer came back. It's in her spine and it's inoperable."
"Be brave! I am existence! Don't be scared!"---Mark 6:50
Sunday, May 4, 2008
These are the small things that construct my life. Things like a scarlet cardinal that plays in the sprinkler, my kids playing with their new puppy, the first roses in the garden, the way the sun dances on the wall for a few minutes every morning. The simple things that hold everything together for me right now. Love heals.
Friday, May 2, 2008
This little guy just couldn't get enough of the water.
Not a care in the world--just enjoying the moment.
I could take a page out of his book, as my granma would say.
Wednesday, April 30, 2008
She didn't want a service, so we had a "processing meeting" at school. She was loved by everyone who knew her.
I saw her last Thursday--she was tired, so tired--but smiling, as usual. She was struggling with a painful physical illness, family drama--and just wanted to rest.
Tuesday, April 29, 2008
Someone sent me a text message yesterday--three words that turned off the sun:
She killed herself.
I called the number, barely, it took two tries for the shaking.
Yes, it's true. My friend is dead.
I called her best friend--"What are you telling me?"
Jesus, hold me, her pain is taking me down.
Hours and hours of weeping--
but for one, my friend--
smiling always as she faded
5 Fear and trembling have beset me;
horror has overwhelmed me.
6 I said, "Oh, that I had the wings of a dove! .
I would fly away and be at rest-
7 I would flee far away
and stay in the desert;
Sunday, April 20, 2008
Thursday, February 21, 2008
The posts Baptism and Forgiveness are stream of consciousness writing triggered by a short conversation with a new friend. There is something about him, how he embraces his shadow without condemning himself--it fascinates me.
the words "I have so much negativity (in my heart) already," --hurts, losses, unhealed wounds--those words broke my heart. There is so much good, so much joy, so much love to be had
IF I am willing to forgive and let joy heal that spot.
Caroline Myss offers this definition of baptism: "the celebration of accepting with gratitude every aspect of your life and all those who are a part of your life. ...(being) reborn into your own life..."
I immediately remember James 1:16-18: "Make no mistake, my dearly loved fellow believers! Every good legacy and every complete gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of the celestial lights, in whom there is no variation of shadow of change. He deliberately brought us into being by means of truthful Word to be some the first offerings of his creations."
I am deliberate, well-thought out, good and complete. My Creator, Breath of Life, fills all the hurt places with joy and light.
I accept, I receive.
I am healed.
Thursday, February 14, 2008
Just when I think I've got a handle on my outrage, I come across THIS.
Monday, February 11, 2008
unnamed maybe baby
just a slug/ to die for
feed me hold me clean me hold me feed me holdmecleanmeholdmefeedme
innocent /pure/ new/ clean/ perfect
My tears/ my baptism
Breath of Heaven
River of Spirit from now to then
drown me in nothing
raise me up to myself
I am not nothing
I am Someone
A stone within
a void a space a place that crowds out displaces takes over
sucks up blocks blacks whites consumes devours absorbs
sponge cancer spotlight abyss
There goes my
drags me chains me it goes I follow
bullring in my nose
protects me comforts me
keeps me safe
keeps me bound
It goes there I want to go here
The rope the noose the ties that bind and choke and suffocate
Will the stone by rolled away
to hide another wound?
I am what I am in the now that I am
I am now, not then
not a stone, but a dandelion
a million dandelion babies
on wings of peace
grow babies grow
Friday, February 1, 2008
I believe in you, for you, until you can believe it yourself. That is what I bring to a therapeutic relationship. My job is to work myself right out of a job, to help you dismantle the wall of denial/self-doubt/self-destructive behavior brick by brick until there you are. A person who seeks help needs to be taught to find, respect, and ultimately cherish their own gifts and strengths, to recognize the dysfunctional dynamics they live by and to move into a new way of life.
My family is a case study in dysfunction. Interestingly, substance abuse was not a factor in the dysfunction while I was a child, but has manifested in this generation. If there is an abuse that I didn’t suffer (along with my siblings), I have yet to discover it. Verbal, emotional, spiritual, physical, sexual, --name one and I’ll tell you a personal story. I have been in the darkest pit of fear and despair and done immensely destructive things to deal with the pain—addictive eating, blaming, self-mutilation, raging—the only reason I didn’t off myself is that I didn’t want to miss my girls growing up.
But that isn’t the most important part of the story—the most important part is that the story isn’t over yet. I am not defined by my abuse, nor am I defined by my “survivorship.”
My identity is first my name: Alice Katherine, which means “Truth” and “Purity.” Cool, huh? And it flows from there: the pure truth is I am intuitive, perceptive, tender-hearted, called to minister, a fallen human being who is determined to find the joy in this fallen world and to share it. We all, every one of us, were born innocent and deserve to be that again—fresh and new, ready to face the world with a foundation of love and acceptance—that is what I can provide: the hope realized that we do not have to be a prisoner to our past. That path, that door to a new life is to be discovered by each person in her own journey.
Wednesday, January 16, 2008
I just received this:
WE HAVE MANY MORE HEROES BEING SUBMITTED THAN ANGELS JOINING
We really did good at Christmas. Heroes Love to be adopted!
We got this quote,
\"Your organization is highly coveted and recommended by all. Is it possible if we can be added to the Soldier\'s Angels program. We\'ve got a lot of young soldiers who are experiencing difficult times for their first deployment, and external support from our nation\'s greatest supporters would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.\"
It is wonderful we are able to help with morale.
Will you adopt another hero?
Or will you please cantact your local churches,
schools, hospitals, Scouts? Many of our sons and daughters are in harms way and could use some support from home!
If you are an approved angel financially able to adopt another hero please login to
and click the link \"Request an additional soldier\", or tell all you can to go to
http://soldiersangels.org/ and click adopt a soldier.
Thank you for helping!!
Saturday, January 12, 2008
Darkness is a real place.
It is cold, sleepless, and comfortless. There is not a moment of rest, as the dragon may appear at any time.
This is where I lived as a child and as a grown-up.
In 2000, I spent my days battling the darkness that was always following me, always at the edges of my dreams, always around the corner waiting to trip me and pounce on me. It was big, with teeth and an ugly growl--I was powerless. That darkness marked me with self-loathinig and self-mutilation. It told me that my babies would be better off without me, and I began to believe it.
A rope was thrown to me, and I had to make a choice: this opportunity to face the fear meant that I would miss the end of school program, an extra special time, as it was put together by the students of the tiny private school my children attended. They chose the theme, wrote the skits, and chose the song they felt told the story of their hearts for that year. My little girls, 8 yrs and 5 yrs, would be singing and I would miss it if I chose to attend my own program.
I chose my own life for the first time.
Within a circle of support, I faced the monster for the first and last time, crying out my need for a safe place, just a safe place, please, just a place to be safe. Never, never, never, had I felt safe in my entire life--please, God, let me be safe and warm. Just once, I want to feel completely safe.
On that same night that I cried for safety, I slew that dragon, killed that monster that had been breathing down my neck for 33 years. It was ugly, it was exhausting--it was beautiful.
A few months later, I was driving with my girls and listening to "The Prayer" and noticed that Em and Abby were singing along. How did they know this song? "We sang it for at our end of the year program--" the one I missed in order to save my life.
The very same night, at the very same time that I was fighting for my life, crying for a safe place, my girls were singing this prayer for me:
Tuesday, January 8, 2008
Do you remember Yoda, the syntaxically challenged little Jedi master from the Star Wars series? (I always thought that anyone/thing that advanced should know how to speak correctly, but maybe he was way beyond that. He was still green, wrinkled, and had a funny voice. Within that context, I prefer Kermit the Frog.) Anyway, he was full of wise little sayings designed to confuse, hack off and ultimately lead his protégé, Luke, to a Zen state of Jedi consciousness wherein he could move objects with his mind. Surely this would be useful when he wanted to find the remote and there weren’t any children around to find it for him. Just think about it and it will zoom out from under the couch cushions and into your hand! Same with beer from the fridge! But I digress….
Yoda’s foundational words of wisdom that skewered Luke’s ego (and hopefully taught that lesson that After School Specials and Very Special Episodes of Blossom had been trying to teach to pre-teens) was the adage “There is no try, only do.”
Yoda’s voice got stuck in my mind (or maybe it’s Kermit’s) but his words got tweaked a little to fit my worldview: “There is no try, only fail.”
Well, shit. There, I said it. What have I got to lose if you don’t allow cursing in a paper? It’s all over anyway.
With my best B-MOD attitude, I employed systematic naturalistic observation and discovered that
I am a train wreck.
MAINTAINING CONDITION/ANTECEDENT: LIFE
BEHAVIOR (MINDSET): THERE IS NO TRY ONLY FAIL
CONSEQUENCES: FRUSTRATION, LONELINESS, ANGER, BITTERNESS, BOREDOM, DEPENDENCE, PROCRASTINATION, , MAKING EXCUSES, FAULT-FINDING, AVOIDING PEOPLE AND PLACES, NEVER TAKING A RISK, SECOND –GUESSING--
There’s a song by the Arc Angels that addresses this mindset perfectly:
Too Many Ways to Fall:
Overt Behavior: Conflict with Daughter Abby
Cognition: She is SO resistant and negative
Emotion: I am so angry and judgmental (I have failed as a mother)
And another one:
Overt Behavior: Disagreement with Spouse
Cognition: Why are you ignoring me?!!
Emotion: Angry, irrational, fearful, worthless
Physiological Response: Adrenaline rush, angry expression, raised voice, insomnia
Loss of respect Anger in spouse/daughter
Loss of emotional intimacy Focus on problem vs. solution
Distance in relationship Rejection of advice
Loss of bonds/trust Isolation/loneliness
Pay Offs include:
Get them before they get me
Blame them for, well, just about everything
Being prepared for the inevitable failure/rejection/abandonment
Now I’m getting somewhere. I now have a deceleration target behavior (negative self-talk) and an acceleration behavior-- positive self-talk, an honest view of myself that mirrors the truth—that no one is perfect, shit happens, and that is OKAY!
Just look at him.
Is there an uglier twerp than this? And I’m supposed to like this boogy-looking thing that that can’t even speak syntaxically correctly and does so in a hormonally charged teen-boy voice? And he lives in my head?!!
So, Yody-Dody-Doo, here’s the thing. I don’t like you. I don’t like your voice, your message, or your delivery. You probably smell. So I am officially booting you out of my head. If it helps to blow my nose in order to great rid or your green ass, I’ll be happy to accommodate. We are done; we’re breaking up, yada, yada, yada—oops, yoda, yoda, yoda…
In order to adhere to the dead person rule, here is my new tape to play in an endless loop:
"There is no fail, only do."
Since Boogy-Boy has had free reign in my head for so long, it’s going to take some intense focus to kick him out and keep him out. I had to find the perfect replacement phrase/motto/picture to replace his creepy voice and face in my head.
One of my favorite hobbies is to create themed compilation CDs, stories in music. So I listened to many, many different tracks and gave myself permission to just react to the music, to not define it as right or wrong, just observe and let the journey unfold.
And then there it was, on my middle daughter’s fave CD: I Want It All by Queen. We have been listening to Queen for years; as a matter of fact, when my oldest was 14 and discovered she had the family butt, it was time for some intervention. Queen to the rescue! Fat-Bottomed Girls reframed her view of her butt and gave all of us girls a theme song. And we still sing it loud and proud!
I put a few more songs on this same CD, songs that reminded me of just who I am and who I want to be—songs that keep me in the NOW.
Do you see these faces? Instead of focusing on every reason that I have failed them, I am searching for every success in their faces and their lives. Dang, they totally rock! And I had a little something to do with that! Take that Yody-DOO! Oh, the songs! So Happy Together, Love Will Keep Us Together, Don’t Bring Me Down, She Drives Me Crazy, Love’s Divine, Waiting for You, Crazy, and Abby’s personal favorite It’s Raining Men—I included a free CD for your listening pleasure. Practiced thinking with my heart—picturing and meditating on this picture of my daughters and me.
Of course the first few days my reactivity level skyrocketed—I was absolutely flying on all the positive energy! I employed the Premack principle: no backing out of the driveway until the music was playing. I couldn’t go to my first class until I listened to three songs and cried at least once. (Okay, the last one wasn’t a requirement, but it might as well have been.) Who is Yoda? I LOVE everybody and everything! Life is wonderful! Who needs reinforcers?
Yoda, it’s time you and me had a Come- to- Jesus talk
And then I hit a brick wall: This is Abby.
She is my clone. We both have Taurus in our charts. We bring out the bull in each other. She can push my buttons faster and more efficiently than anyone I know. Who needs reinforcers? Abby is my main reinforcer agent. If I listen to and act on the negative self talk, she is the first person to suffer. And the effect of my negativity on her is devastating. I can reduce her to a mere brick with just a look. Looking at that without rose-colored glasses made me sick, but it was necessary. How many ways can I fail her? How many ways can I come through for her?
Abby was having BAD DAY. She didn’t want to go to school and could NOT be-LIEVE that I was making her go! This situation was ripe for conflict (antecedent), but I was determined and started reinforcing myself with humor and using competing responses: brushing my teeth, using a blowdryer, saying “I love you, Abby,” every time I wanted to speak sharply and using a time out when I felt myself wavering.
On the way to school, I put my hand over my mouth, which is completely incompatible with talking. I did turn on the music and So Happy Together was playing.
Imagine me and you, I do
I think about you day and night,
it's only right
To think about the girl you love and hold her tight
So happy together
If I should call you up, invest a dime
And you say you belong to me and ease my mind
Imagine how the world could be so very fine
So happy together
I can't see me lovin' nobody but you
For all my life
When you're with me, baby the skies'll be blue
For all my life
Me and you and you and me
matter how they toss the dice, it has to be
The only one for me is you, and you for me
So happy together
After the song stopped, Abby started talking about how the band practice the night before has been so terrible. I kept my hand over my mouth to keep myself from instructing her, just let her talk it out. When she got out at school and walked away, her favorite song came on. I turned up the volume and rolled the windows down as I drove away. She did not turn around, but her cadence changed and her back straightened—a sure sign that she was determined to NOT LOOK at me. At the VERY LAST SECOND, as she opened the door, she glanced at me with that I-wish-I-could-just-keep-hating-but-I-know-you-love-me” kind of smile.
Now, how is that for a positive reinforcer? In this case, the antecedent (conflict) was replaced and the consequence was changed to a positive vs. a negative.
On another day, we went to the gym. Abby hates going to the gym. I thought it was because she is just stubborn, but being aware of my own negative self talk revealed something very different going on. I make her miserable, constantly looking over her shoulder, cranking up the treadmill, telling her she needs to challenge herself –and the drive home is just UGLY. Positive, positive, positive energy and thoughts—by the time I was on the elliptical machine and she was in front of me on the treadmill, I was using physically aversive consequences of sprinting every time I had a negative thought.
I also reframed every negative thought from lose mode to win mode.
On the drive home, Abby waited for the lecture about consistency and commitment, already tuning me out. Of course, if we are in the car, we have music!
Toni Tenille started singing “LOVE! Love will keep us together!” and I sang along, drowning out the remnants of any negative talk.
Gym membership: $400/year.
Singing an old song to your teen-age daughter in traffic (with made up hand signs): a little dignity
Look on her face when she starts singing with you:
Abby and I walk just about every day—and I knew that Yoda was finally gone for good the day I was getting my walking shoes on and I heard her voice in my head saying—“I like walking with you, spending this time with you.”
I want it all— I’ve GOT it all!
All the gifts that I had wished for my girls: self-confidence, unconditional love, hope, and joy have come back to me. They were there all the time, waiting behind the boogy man with the deadly message. Approaching this issue from a B-Mod approach vs a psychoanalytical point of view took the focus off of the why and put it on the how. I can still look at the why if I want to ( I really don’t), but in the meantime, I have some good living to do—one that includes a lot of laughing with my social reinforcement agents.