Skip to content

Standing up…

October 8, 2015

Conversation may be the beginning of connection.  Continuing the conversation is a way to deepen connection.  I suppose not every conversation needs to be continued. Maybe some are pretty complete in and of themselves.   But those that bring understanding and growth?  I think we are in desperate need of continuing those.

I wondered which GrowthLines conversations were waiting to be continued.  I wanted to see which posts struck the deepest chord with readers.  I was a little surprised to discover that Dominoes falling, had been viewedDSC_0090 more times than any other. I reread the words looking for clues to their impact.

When the dominoes of life start falling, words have the power to help and to heal.  Words offer understanding.  They give us permission to stumble in our grief.  Words bear witness to what we already know by experience.  That loss will come, over and over again, and will lay us low.  We need those words of understanding, both silent and spoken when we’re swept under waves of loss and grief.

Maybe we also need words that bear witness to what we’re not so certain of.  That we can stand again. That we can pull ourselves upright.  Put one foot in front of the other.  And begin to walk, again.  Choose to sit and speak words of comDSC_1428fort to someone today.  And when they are ready to rise and walk, stand with them and speak words of hope and encouragement.  I know we will fall under the weight of loss.  I believe we can stand again.

“The art of conversation is the art of hearing as well as of being heard.”
William Hazlitt, Selected Essays, 1778-1830

Breathe, hold on, and keep talking…

September 30, 2015

Five years ago I began with a question.  “Why blog?”.  I saw writing as a way to think out loud.  A way to start a conversation, both within myself and with others.  Since that first conversation there have been days that words came easily, almost faster than I could record them.  Some days the words were slow to come, filled with rough edges and poor fits. Then there were dry spells.  Sometimes brief.  Sometimes lasting months.  It was after a prolonged word drought that I asked myself, “Why keep blogging?”.Cabin-Brothers

Starting the conversation is important.  I have experienced and observed the harm done when we are afraid to begin talking about hard, uncomfortable things.  The willingness to keep talking is critical.  It is in the ongoing conversation that we know ourselves better. The good, the bad, and the ugly.  Continuing the conversation creates connection and relationship.  When we keep talking, we weave the threads of connection into the fabric of community.

Conversation is about talking.  Conversation is also about being, breathing.  In the discomfort of the dry spell we”re at risk of believing the connection and the conversation are over.  But maybe it’s just winter.  A time to slow down, crawl inside ourselves. To breathe and reflect. To emerge again to listen to the words of others.  To speak the words of community.  So, I will take a breathe, listen, and continue the conversation.

The voice…

September 20, 2015

IMG_0929 - Version 2

“Borrowing someone else’s voice postpones the day when we discover our own.”

                                                                                             Lawrence Black

Follow the rhythm…

September 13, 2015

2011-05-05 11.09.37

Find your own drum beat, and then begin to walk.

More than a village

August 20, 2015

It’s true. It takes a village to raise a child.  It is also true that not just any village will do.  Truly raising a child requires villagers willing to look past the rough, unfinished exterior. Paulann.1People willing to see both the core, and the possibility of becoming within each child. Children don’t need perfect villagers.  They need real ones.  People aware that although they may be more “finished” than the children in the community, they still have growing to do.

My Aunt Mary was one of those imperfectly wonderful villagers for me.  I spent countless days of summer and holidays in her home with my cousins, riding horses, playing marathon Monopoly, and eating the best ever chocolate cake with white icing. While at Aunt Mary’s house, I was one of her kids, nurtured and disciplined.

I think I understood from the beginning that my Aunt Mary was a wonderful, committed adult in my village.  But it was during a conversation with her after I was grown, with children of my own that I came to understand the depth of her commitment and her determination to brave her own growth.

Aunt MaryWe were standing at the sink, side by side.  Her washing, me rinsing.  I had stood in that kitchen, at that sink over the years with cousins, laughing, complaining, splashing.  Now it was me, a mother myself, having a grown up conversation with Aunt Mary.  I talked about my girls.  She talked about her grandchildren, one of whom was struggling with bedwetting.  You could feel the emotion in her voice as she worried about the potential stigma and hurt for her grandchild.  And then she stopped, turning to look at me.  Blinking back tears she said, “I hope I never made you feel bad, like there was something wrong with you.”  “I hope I never made you think I was angry with you.”

You see, I had been a bedwetter.  All the way through elementary school.  Her words instantly took me back.  I thought of that chapter of my life and the frustration she must have felt at the extra laundry alone created by my bedwetting.  Swimming through that sea of memories enabled me to look her in the eye and say without hesitation, “No.  Not ever.”  In that moment I knew she was the best kind of grown up for a child’s village.  She was a villager that cherished the heart of a child above all else.  She was a villager brave enough to be real and to keep growing.

Thank you, Aunt Mary.

Remember the day this child was born.

March 28, 2013

 

An offering to
parents, copied with permission from Linda Dixon.  May we
all “remember the day this child was born”, and celebrate their
being.

As a mother, who has had
the experience of receiving a phone call from a woman, asking for
my daughter’s hand in marriage, I feel qualified to speak on the
issue of marriage equality. Is this not the very thing which
strikes terror into the hearts of parents who have tried to raise
their children right? Isn’t it our reward, to be mother of the
bride, as a lovely daughter glides down the aisle toward the man of
my/her dreams?

Image

 

 As
a gay marriage survivor, I feel it is my duty to help others
negotiate the harrowing ordeal. Therefore, I have taken the liberty
to write a small handbook on the subject.  There is much
more I could say, but here are the ten essential
steps.

 

1. First,
allow yourself to remember the day this child was born. Recall the
wonder of gazing into the eyes of a tiny, precious new life and
feel the sense of awe at the depth of love you experienced.
 Remember your vow to nurture this tiny person, who came
from you but is not a replica of
you. 

 

2.
Immerse yourself in the memory of learning who this child is and
noting how that unique personality was there from the beginning,
just waiting to be discovered.  Wrap yourself up in that
blanket of parental protection – the one you used to swaddle your
child’s sense of self and protect her from those who would try to
squelch her
dreams.

 

3. Reaffirm
to yourself and anyone who will listen, that this is still your
primary responsibility as a
parent.

 

4. Listen to
your adult son or daughter.   Ask what they love about
their beloved and look to see if they are truly
happy.

 

5. Observe
how they are treated by their partner or fiancé.   Ask
yourself if you would approve of this person, had she been born of
the opposite gender? If the answer is
yes…

 

6. Celebrate!
 Treat your future daughter/son-in-law as you would like
to be
treated. 

 

7.
Remember that all you ever wanted was for this person to be happy
and to feel loved and cherished.  Know that your fondest
wish has been fulfilled.  Thank
God!

 

8. If you are
unable to share in your daughter/son’s joy, take responsibility for
the problem.  Review your life and try to figure out where
you went wrong.  Get help if you cannot resolve this on
your own.

 

9. Forgive
yourself.  Rejection of your own child is a very serious,
but treatable illness.  If you find yourself in this
predicament, make it your goal to heal yourself before the wedding.
 Repeat steps 1-5 as many times as it
takes.

 

10. Go to the
wedding and toast the happy couple with love and sincerity.
 Welcome your child’s husband/wife into your family and
live happily ever
after.

Thanks Linda, for
giving voice to a parent’s heart and a child’s
happiness.

Pass this way…

December 19, 2012

I expect to pass through life but once.  If therefore, there be any kindness I can show, or any good thing I can do to any fellow being, let me do it now, and not defer or neglect it, as I shall not pass this way again.  ~ William Penn

For the Children

Let us have a heart

For children everywhere.

A mind to think

On their behalf,

With love and sacrifice.

Hands,

To touch,

To do,

To create the evidence

Of our love

And their worth.

Paulann C. Canty, December 19, 2012

Have a heart that never hardens, and a temper that never tires, and a touch that never hurts.  ~ Charles Dickens

Spring Calves

April 10, 2012

Spring Calves

Early workday morning
Driving the edge
Between city and country.
Houses on my right
Pasture on my left,
My mind a list of things

Still not done, with
More to do, in the
Moment of dawn when the
Kiss of sunlight and dew
Blinds with its brilliance,
I saw them.

They charged into my day
These two whitefaced cherubs
With little more than a month of
Living behind them, and my heart
Kicked and cavorted with these two,
My face springing, spreading into
The smile of a child full of
Herself and of life. 

The day no less
Hectic because of the
Dance we shared, my
Step would stay lighter,
My smile longer, held
By the image of
Two spring calves.

Perhaps a harried, weary
Traveler will find his
Rest as he discovers babies
Napping in the noon
Sun like two small blankets
Wrapped ’round a sleeping child. 

As for me, I’m glad
I saw you greet the dawn.

© Paulann Condray Canty, 1991 

When you’re different…

March 24, 2012

“When you’re different, sometimes you don’t see the millions of people who accept you for what you are. All you notice is the person who doesn’t.”  ~ Jodi Picoult, Change of Heart

Leaning in…

March 17, 2012

I was listening to a Hazelden webinar on adolescent suicide.  The presenter talked about the importance of engaging the suicidal teen, encouraging them to talk.  She identified the three most important words to say when you’re the one being told, “Sometimes I feel like killing myself.”  What were the words she thought had such power to connect? “Tell me more.”  Three small words with the potential to change the course of a person’s life.

“Tell me more.”  Three words that invite someone to share their pain and confusion.  Why are those words so often left unspoken?  Perhaps because encouraging someone to hand us their pain may be the right thing to do, but it is rarely the easy thing to do.   In fact the willingness to stand and hold another’s pain often leaves us facing our own discomfort.

“Tell me more.”  I replayed those three words as I went about my day.  I thought about how they fit other situations.  How powerful those words could be with those who grieve.  How in the midst of grief we long for someone to ask us to tell them more about who and what we have lost.  How holding the pain of someone else’s loss feels uncertain and uncomfortable, and so we hold back.

I was still chewing on the benefit and difficulty of “Tell me more”, when my weekly dose of Modern Family came on.  It is Phil Dunphy’s favorite day, leap day.  He has big plans to do something out of the ordinary to celebrate.  But as the day continues, things begin to fall apart.  Phil pulls the two boys, Luke and Manny aside in an attempt to salvage their celebration.  He leans toward them and says in a low, somber voice, “I have a plan.”  The boys just stand there.  Phil adds, “It’s kind of traditional to lean in when someone says they have a plan.”  Both boys immediately lean into the circle.  No hesitation. Focused.

That’s when it came to me.  What Phil Dunphy had to say was important.  And when someone has something important to say, we need to lean in.  To lean in and embrace what is being said, giving the words, the feelings, and the person our presence. Perhaps no territory feels more uncertain and overwhelming than the landscape of grief and loss.  When we find ourselves in the presence of wounded travelers and their story, needing to lean in, our first impulse may be to just stand there.  Sometimes we even step away.

Forty five years ago, John Drakeford wrote a book titled, The Awesome Power of the Listening Ear.  It was a book about the “power of simply listening to others”.  I think Drakeford’s intent was to help us push past discomfort to a place of leaning in.  A place of inviting others to tell us their stories.  What if in the presence of grief and loss, we begin to lean in, and quietly say “Tell me more.”

“Oh, the comfort, the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person, having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words, but pouring them all out, just as they are, chaff and grain together, certain that a faithful hand will take and sift them, keep what is worth keeping, and with a breath of kindness blow the rest away.” ~ George Eliot

%d bloggers like this: