A Healthy Stepmother . . . and a blessing for softness.

There you stand . . . ready for what comes to you. We know how strong you are. We know how able and willing. We know your heart is full and wide and vast and you can squeeze one more, and then one more, and then one more again into the dark recesses of your heart, especially when the one more comes with softening heart.

Glimpses and moments of softening take place when there isn’t a watchful eye, so be sure to look out of the corner of your eye and not directly. The softness can’t exist around the dinner table with the many other sets of eyes on each other’s every move or the monitoring of every nuance of your frowning mouth or furrowed brow. The softness and will wait to find an opening in you that is exactly as soft and open as needed. Then, in the flickers of time when you are soft and open and the other is also softening, you will meet on a field and run and play with no fear of being discovered.

Should you ever feel stuck and not breathing, continue on, letting the air in and letting it out. If you accidentally hold your breath, soften so you let air out quietly so as not to scare the softness away. Your very focus on your breath and your slight indifference will be what attracts the softening. Let the softening take time like you do when you set butter cubes out to soften for the cookies or brownies. The butter slowly comes to room temperature and the wrapping becomes a little oily and begins to wrinkle and conform to the warming yellow cube. Resist forcing the softening by putting it in the microwave, too brittle, harsh, and dangerous.

photo143.jpgMay you find and remain in your own softness when you face no softness. May you listen deep in your self and wonder what your posture and demeanor asks of you so you get the first benefit of the softness and the overflow creates a welcoming space for a soft-eyed inquiry, a not-sure gesture, even for a shrill and demanding request. The shrillness will feel like a test and you may harden to meet it because we all harden in the face of shrillness. But sit, stay, wait . . . leave the butter out and let it stay soft.

May you be able to see through things, past the ill-conceived attempt to pull you in, past the unsure heart that only knows lashing out, behind the curtain of disbelief in your intentions. May you get beyond all that and in an occasional moment of softness meeting softness, walk together into a room as big as a gymnasium where there is room to navigate and soften even more.

May you hold these moments gently, leaving off expectations for how often and how many. May you rest, content in your own softness and in the ability to meet others with softness should they come to you. Leave off pursuit, nestle in the rocking chair your grandmother left you. Pull and tuck the afghan around and offer to share when someone cries out. May those unexpected moments of heart seeing heart be enough. You know and the other heart knows. No need to broadcast on the front of a magazine or on the internet. Remain soft to the potential of softening, protect yourself when you need protecting and open again when danger has passed.

Most of all, may you surround yourself with the softness of the others who walk your same path. They carry the same wishes, hopes, and dreams. They, of able, willing, and wide heart. Meet them as often as you can and together remember the time spent with an open and soft heart is an investment for yourself and a building of the trove that is your relationship with your self and others.

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10 thoughts on “A Healthy Stepmother . . . and a blessing for softness.

  1. Thank you, Kim….love the whole concept and story you wrote….and certain nuggets strick a chord….the dinner table (a tough place to be at times), my Grandmother’s rocking chair (actually, it’s my Great Aunt’s….:-) the scrutiny and when it gets too hard (“watching our frowns”)….but remaining open with a wide, soft gaze (that’s where I’m trying to reach for now….to remain open despite “learning” to close down. APpreciate your openess and energy and ability to share. Cheers!

    • It is a constant practice . . . requiring daily meditation and respectful homage paid to the effort and the payoff. Glad to touch so many commonalities, but completely not surprised. We are in the last paragraph together, those who gather here. We will meet as often as we can.

  2. This past weekend, I heard someone say that it is impossible for someone to love others when they can’t love themself. (not the first time I heard this) This thought opened my heart a little more and caused me to soften towards my stepdaughter. I know that it’s all a little more complicated than that, but I did feel myself softening at that thought just the same. I JUST came from a lunch date with a friend to whom I was explaining how I had enjoyed my SD this past weekend. She seemed engaged with all of us and it felt easy and..well…soft.
    Thank you for so beautifully putting into words the complicated thoughts and feelings that I experience. And I love this part of this post:
    “May you be able to see through things, past the ill-conceived attempt to pull you in, past the unsure heart that only knows lashing out, behind the curtain of disbelief in your intentions.”
    It’s “the unsure heart” that hit home for me.
    I will practise softness towards myself and towards the unsure heart. Thanks, Kim.

    • Lana, my pleasure. I’m not sure what else to call it, except that when there’s a connection it feels not brittle, not hard, not caustic, not, not, not…..and a lot of other nots. So, I came to how it feels in my heart and in my breathing. Soft pretty much sums it up. And, always a wonder to practice softness toward our own unsure heart. Thanks for the comment. ;-

  3. If I was a better quoter, I would find the exact Pema Chodron quote that this reminded me of– she talks about how whatever is happening in your life is your vehicle for waking up, and whatever situation (in whatever form of whatever person) that is in front of you? Your opportunity for waking up. (I think it’s from Start Where You Are) (10 minutes later) Ok, I couldn’t find the quote. But she’s definitely said SOMETHING like that. At one point. In some book I read…

    • I’m smiling…..I love Pema and that fact you used her name in reference to one of my posts, well, I’m more than a little flattered. Not being a Buddhist, I don’t think of it as awakening, but I can see it is exactly like that. I work with posture and habits and compulsions. When I can feel in my own self the clutching, the habit, the extreme reflex such that it’s a compulsion to tighten, stop the breathing, and still the spine, well, that’s when I know I’m not able to move in any direction. Then, when I notice that I can go anywhere, this way and that and it feels light and easy and fun, in that moment I know I’m connecting with that child. It’s a sweet moment and it is like a waking up. Isn’t it. Thanks for joining in.

  4. Thank you for bringing some sanity and grounding to otherwise shaky ground. Four of my grandchildren have step-moms. I wish they lived next door to you and you could have coffee with them every morning. My grandchildren might not be so angry and scared.

    • Hello ConfusedNana, I’m going to leave you a comment on your blog since I visited there and you’ve got your questions laid clearly there. I wish there was an easy answer, sadly, I haven’t found one. It sounds like a very difficult situation for everyone and I hear the lament in your words that your grandchildren don’t have a safe place to express themselves. Kudos to you for being interested enough to reach out and see what’s out there to help you and your family.

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