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We are all born into a conversation – more than one, actually – not of our own making… and those conversations form how life seems to us…   We are usually not aware of what those conversatons are — they lay beneath the surface….

We live out of those conversations….   they drive and shape our actions… 

I used to be a worrier. For years I worried about my mother – whether she was OK or not, where she was, what she was doing…. I worried in such a way that it made me feel that my worry would be enough to preclude any harm to her.   It seemed that —  only if I worried — I could be properly vigilant about her well-being.

Then my son was born. Josh was an RH baby and the doctors delivered him early in order to save his life.   He was 8 weeks premature and had to stay in the hospital for those same 8 weeks.   During that time, my mother developed angina and went to a different hospital in New Jersey, near where I grew up.  

I couldn’t be in two places at once…  

Six weeks later, on the day she was to leave the hospital, she died of a heart attack two hours before she was scheduled to be released.   My son was still in the neonatal intensive care unit at Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York City.  My brother-in-law called me there to tell me about my mother — I leaned over my son’s incubator, put my head in my arms, and cried my heart out…

My already boundless grief was sliced with a deeper cut…   Could I have taken my eye off the ball when my son was born?    Did my mother die because I wasn’t paying attention?

What I didn’t realize at the time was…   I took all my worry about my mother and transferred it over to my son…

Some of that “hovering” paid off – I caught a 5 inch air bubble in his IV when he was 8 weeks old – seconds before it was set to go into his tiny body. The nurse said it was nothing as her shaking hands disconnected the tube and tapped out the offending air;  my doctor friend was appalled and told me it was lucky I had been there.

That just served as evidence that worry pays off…

Certainly, vigilance around a young child is appropriate – babies have a tendency to eat anything on the floor that looks interesting — and they poke their fingers into whatever little fingers can poke into – like electrical sockets, holes in the ground, bottles that are left open…   Mothers and fathers are supposed to be on the look-out for these potentially dangerous curiosities…

There does come a time, however, when you cannot watch your child every moment anymore…. and you do have to trust that they can, actually, handle SOME things on their own….

I never got THAT memo….

The litany of worry: Where are you? What are you doing? Do you have enough money? Who are you going with? Where are his parents? Why are you going there? When will you be back? Did you eat enough? Are you warm enough? Are your clothes clean?

It was exhausting….

When he went away to college, instead of the worry easing up, it got worse…. He wasn’t around, so then, I  had to worry ALL THE TIME!

Whew…!

Just about the time that I felt that I just couldn’t do it anymore, I signed up to take one of my first workshops on self-awareness, personal growth, and, in general, “how to be happy.” The leader was a friend of my group leader for “A Course in Miracles” – his name was Landon Carter and he used to be one of the early EST trainers.

I never heard of transformation education and I didn’t know what I was in for. I did, however, know that I was exhausted all the time, I was resigned about what I thought I couldn’t change about my life, I had been on anti-depressants for years, and I felt like my life was very limited and small.

Perfect.   Time for a change…

In the course of the training, Landon asked us if there was an issue that any one of us had been dealing with for a long time that we wanted to “disappear.” Before I could think about it, my arm shot up in the air, “YES, ME!! I’ve got one!”

I told Landon and the group about my constant worry. I told them that I felt like I had to worry because there seemed to be a connection between my worry and keeping my son safe.   More than safe…   I behaved as if my worry is what kept my son alive….

Landon did a technology on me called “The Truth Process”.

To explain it simply, he had me close my eyes – and he took me on a journey back through time, through every emotion and bodily sensation having to do with worry… I discovered that every time I thought about Josh or my mother or – early on, myself – in danger, I would grab my throat. I felt as if my throat was closing up so that I couldn’t breathe. Each time I thought that I had completed some event, Landon would ask me to go back even further…. each time, my throat would tighten and I would be locked in fear…

I remembered so many things… how my mother worried all the time about her family that was so far away and none of whom she had seen in years, my father who worried about his mother, my own worry about being left alone in school and not knowing anyone…

It was always about people being far away and life being dangerous and how to make sure that everyone was safe…. and, of course, you can never completely be sure that everyone is safe all the time…. so there’s more worry….

It was all about survival….

That’s what I was born into – a background conversation in every area of life that to worry was to keep safe…. maybe…

Finally, Landon said to me, “Is it your worry that is keeping your son alive?” I had to admit that speaking it out loud that way revealed it as the silly premise that it was. “No,” I answered. Then he said, “Can you accept, right this minute, that your son is either alive or he is not?” I never thought about that before – I had never before been challenged to look at what was so in that moment.

Landon went on, “Your worry is stealing your life with him right now. You cannot enjoy him in the present.   If you could get profoundly related to what is true right this moment and enjoy or mourn that – in the moment – you would have a completely different life.  Can you do that?  Can you face that?”

I could — and I did.  I gave up worrying about him.  I gave up worrying in general.  I see now that it is a totally useless emotion.  It doesn’t prevent anything and it doesn’t create anything.

In that free space, I took a stand that I would enjoy every moment with my son from that day forward….

A few months later, Landon wrote to me to ask me if I had noticed any shift in my life as a result of doing his workshop.   I realized that EVERYTHING had shifted – and I suddenly saw that my life with my son had dramatically altered.   I wrote back to Landon:

“I was on a high for days… I felt free for the first time in my life! I am happy and I am sleeping soundly. I feel truly in the NOW every moment!   That alone is worth everything to me.”

“Then, an unusual – and totally unexpected – thing started to happen: my son started calling me often, our conversations were more intimate, non-threatening, and really loving. I mean, we had always been loving to each other before, but there was something else there.  I’m still not sure I can put my finger on what it is…”

“It culminated in my son making a very favorable comparison of the two of us – something he had never done before.  For years, he had been critical of the ‘outrageous’ way I dressed.  About two weeks after the workshop, he compared our fashion styles and said, ‘I always thought the way you threw something odd into the mix was a little ‘off-the-wall’ – like those leopard heels with the elegant black suit.  Now, I realize that I’m doing the same thing with these velvet slippers and no socks with MY suit. It’s a matter of style, and I got that from you.’   I almost fell over – my son had never aligned himself with me in any way previous to this – at least, not since he was a little boy.”

“It may sound like a small example, but what I started to see was that – now that I wasn’t worrying about him all the time – there was a different dynamic in our conversations…. a freedom for love to be expressed —  for intelligent, equal conversation to occur, for respect and consideration to be expressed and felt – by both of us.”

“I realized that what my worry (about his dying) had served to do was to hold him at arm’s distance while smothering him with my attempted control of his activities so that he wouldn’t get hurt…”

“What I finally got was that I was trying to control his life so that I wouldn’t ‘get hurt.’   I was interpreting his imagined death as a threat to my own survival because – how could I live without him?   I now feel that I could live with the fact that, in any given moment, my son is either alive or he is not, and there’s nothing I can do about that – except to love him no matter what.   Frankly, death would not affect my love for him at all – Love, I know, is eternal.”

“Our relationship gets more rich every day…. And, because I am free of my worry, I also have a lot more time to spend thinking about things at which I can be productive and successful.   I am opened up and expressed as I have never been before!   I feel as if I have gotten my life back – a part of me that I never knew I had! – with the added bonus of a more special relationship with my son.”

“Every now and then, I still get a tightness in my throat – while watching a movie where a child dies, or something awful happens at work… and my hand goes to my throat. But, now I recognize  that’s the trigger — I take a deep breath and say, ‘I’m OK, I am safe, my son is safe, and I am happy,’ and the feelings pass.”

That workshop with Landon was seven years ago.   It was the beginning of my new life – a life I work at every day — in a moment by moment choice for Love, for freedom, for peace – for aliveness!

Here’s to Aliveness!  Here’s to Life! 

Deliciously yours in the Joy of it all, Linda

 “‘God himself will be with them; he will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain anymore,  for the former things have passed away.’   And he who sat upon the throne said, ‘Behold, I make all things new.'”    Revelations 21:4-5

 

LandonCarterThis is Landon Carter, who led my first workshop on transformation, described above.

Landon has written a book called, “Living Awake:  The Practice of Transforming Everyday Life.”   In that book, he describes the “Truth Process” as a process  in general;   and, specifically,  the process he did with me, which he describes on pages 88-94.   He calls me “Lucy” in that book.  The letter that I wrote to him after the workshop, edited in the story above, also appears in the book, on pages 152-154.  Landon’s book is a great handbook for living a transformed life — you can read more about it at www.landoncarter.com.

The quintessential transformation education “campus” —  and one where I participate a lot — is Landmark Education, the successor to EST, where Landon was a trainer many years before.  You can visit them at www.landmarkeducation.com.    They have centers all over the world.

Transformation is a never-ending  journey — and well worth the ride….  I promise you —  the ride of your Life!

© Linda Ruocco and “Spiritual Chocolate”, 2009. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Linda Ruocco and “Spritiual Chocolate”  with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.  Thank you.

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What a great celebration is Mother’s Day! The day we show our mothers what they mean to us, the day we remember all the good stuff – and, for us as mothers, the day we look back and say… “I think I did some really great things here… Now where are those memories…? Hmmm, let me think…”

One of my son’s favorite stories to tease me with is that – to this day, I am brought to tears about leaving him at camp when he was ten years old…. something he’s long forgiven and forgotten, but which can still reduce me to a blubbering lump of soggy mess just to think about having to peel him off my body as I turned to go to the parking lot, leaving him to cry inconsolably behind me…..

AND…

I have LOTS of good moments to remember – and TONS of great ones… Moments that remind me that there were many times that I got it right….

Here’s one of the sweet ones….

Joshua was four — and he had a play-date at our house. His little friend, Evan, came over, and his mom brought a plate of chocolate chip cookies for the boys to share…

They had a great time that afternoon. Joshua’s nanny, Daisy, who was an amazing and BIG woman from Jamaica, took the boys to the park where they ran and played and tumbled and threw balls and ate all those cookies! What a great time they had!

The next day, I noticed the cookie dish that Daisy had washed and set on the dining room table, waiting to take it back over to Evan’s house. It caught my eye that it looked particularly beautiful, which I hadn’t noticed before, and so I picked it up and turned it over – the inscription on the back said “Baccarat.” I shook my head – who sends chocolate chip cookies over in a Baccarat candy dish?

As I sat at the table, doing some work I had brought home with me, Joshua and Daisy came into the room – Joshua was dressed to go out in the cold weather, all bundled up in his parka and mittens with his fuzzy cap on and his hood over it and tied up under his chin. For such a skinny little kid, he looked like a big, round, blue puffball!

As Daisy picked up the dish, Joshua reached up and, in his little squeaky voice, he said, “Daisy, let ME! I can carry that to Evan’s house.” Daisy shook her head and reached for the plate, “No, I’ll take it, Joshua, you might break it.”

Joshua was crushed. Even at four, he was a careful child, very sensitive and precise – I saw him shrink before my eyes…

I quickly jumped in, “Daisy, Joshua can take the dish to Evan’s house.” She shot me a surprised glance and started to protest, but I turned to look at my son…

“Daisy, I have confidence in Joshua – he’s a very careful boy and I feel confident that he will bring the dish back to Evan’s house and it will be just fine.”

With a sigh, Daisy started to put the dish back in Joshua’s hands. He said, “Wait, Daisy, I have to take my mittens off so I can hold it better.” Daisy didn’t say anything – she just turned to look at me. It was February and cold outside – was I really going to let him go out without his mittens on?

“What a good idea, Joshua! See, Daisy? I told you Joshua is a careful boy!”

They walked out the door together, this big woman – 250 pounds, easy! – and my little blue puffball, walking carefully and slowly, holding the dish in his two hands at chest height in front of him, watching it every minute as he took one slow step after another…

Daisy shot me one last glance as if to say, “I hope you know what you’re doing….”

The answer to that is yes, I did know what I was doing — and what I was doing was giving my son an opportunity to show what he could do, giving him the gift of possibility that yes, indeed, he could be careful and he could be responsible and he could do that all by himself.

Did it ever cross my mind that he might drop the dish?

Yes, it did. And, if he did, I would have replaced it and I would have been very, very sorry with Evan’s Mom. However, it would have been just a broken dish – albeit Baccarat! – and easily replaced.

Joshua’s self-esteem was much more valuable to me – his sense of himself, his confidence in his own ability to handle challenging tasks – well, that was priceless to me – and, if broken, that could never be repaired or replaced.

A half hour later, they returned. Joshua walked in the door… He was all puffed up — and it wasn’t just about the jacket!!

“I did it, Mommy! I brought the dish to Evan’s and I didn’t break it!”

I picked him up and held him high — and pulled him in close to me, full of love for him. “I am so proud of you!” I said.

I brought him back down to the floor and kneeled in front of him. As I helped him take his jacket off so that I could get close enough to give him the biggest hug ever, I said, “What’s even more important is that you’re proud of yourself. Are you?”

“I’m SO proud of myself,” he said. He was beaming!

I pulled him close and hugged him tight…. and I knew that there wasn’t a candy dish or any dish or any “thing”, for that matter, anywhere on earth that was worth more than what I gave my son that day….

That day, I got it right…..

This is for me and for my mother and for my mother’s mother and for all those mothers who worry and wait and try and cry and go to bed exhausted at night, all for the love of their children…

Happy Mother’s Day!

Deliciously yours in the Sweetness of it all, Linda

“I’ll teach my son the sweetest things; I’ll teach him how the owlet sings…” William Wordsworth

“Don’t you ever ask them why
If they told you, you will cry
So just look at them and sigh
And know they love you.”
Graham Nash of Crosby Stills and Nash, “Teach your children well”

joshinmexicocloseup2009THIS is my amazing son, Josh Feuer, now almost 30 years old…. As precious to me as the day he was born…. He lives in Minneapolis and works for Target and he gave me the best present for Mother’s Day: a StoryPeople pendant that says, “For a long time, she flew only when she thought no one else was watching.” I will wear it around my neck forever..

I love you, Josh… You are my Hero! Mom xox

 

 

 

 

© Linda Ruocco and “Spiritual Chocolate”, 2009. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Linda Ruocco and “Spritiual Chocolate”  with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.  Thank you.

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