My Relationship With Silence

Silence can mean many things.  It’s not just the absence of sound, but can mean so much more.  A purposeful retreat.  A kept story.  Hidden truth.  Stifled memory. A chapter sealed shut or a precious moment locked away for only your viewing pleasure.

Silence and I have experienced all of the above.  For better or worse, Silence and I have shared them all.

I would love to say that Silence is good or that Silence is bad.

Don’t we always want the black and white?  The right and wrong?  The clearly defined choice?  But the truth of the matter is, Silence lives in the gray.  There is a time and a place.  It serves a purpose.  It can be our friend or foe, but just like real relationships, it exists in our life to teach us a lesson.  When we look back, we can see how Silence was there to help us.

I don’t even need to dig far back into the memory files to give you an example.  I can rewind just the past few days and examine the relationship I have with Silence.

Typically, I am a sharer.  I open myself to others.  I listen to their stories and readily share my own.  Many people struggle with sharing their deep and intimate thoughts, but I share them frequently with my loved ones and often with strangers or new friends that I consider to be kindred spirits.

And since you, dear reader, are a kindred spirit, I will share with you a few details about my relationship with Silence.

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Silence Example #1

I am currently in the beginning stages of a budding romantic tale.  A new love interest has entered my world and I want to share all of the beautiful details with everyone I know (and there are many), but they are mine. And his. Ours. And so it goes that I give the bullet-points and highlight reel to a select few confidants, and the rest stay sealed away for myself.  They are far too precious and too valuable for sharing.  Outside of he and I, those moments are silenced.  Kept fresh and locked away with the valuables – unwilling to let words or time wear away the gleam.

Silence Example #2

Someone I hold dear to my heart contacted me the other day. We have a strange relationship, he and I.  Once lovers, now friends – but walking that fine line of how much is too much communication and what does friendship look like, post-romantic-relationship?  I was almost silent. For hours I rolled around whether or not I should respond.  Whether I should remain silent and seal our relationship shut (since this awkward phase frustrates me), or whether I should answer my friend and try to navigate this new terrain of friendship.

After hours of deliberating, I wrote him back.  For me, purposeful silence feels like punishment.  Not everyone perceives it that way, but I do.  And since I do, I simply will not do that to someone.  I either tell the person I don’t think we should remain in contact or I open a dialogue and work on mending the relationship.  But he is far too special not to at least try navigating this new friendship terrain.  Ultimately, we had a pleasant chat and made another small step down our new path as just friends.

Silence Example #3

My poor, sweet, patient mother has been dealing with my silence.  About six months ago I moved cities, changed jobs and all but altered every single facet of my life.  While this change has been welcomed, and wanted, and I am more than grateful for every ounce of change – it has also been extremely exhausting.  Unable to do any single daily task on auto-pilot, I was left drained and in need of more “me time” than I have needed in years.  Prior to my move, she and I would chat regularly and text often.  After my move, I all but fell off the face of the phone and went silent.

In reality, we exchanged a few texts a week and a brief phone call once a week, or every other week, but for her it was as good as silence.  We had a nice long chat tonight and I explained my silence and my gratitude for her patience.  I am well aware that silence can seem like abandonment, but I needed to retreat. My own personal silence was necessary to process all the change in my life.  So my personal silence, my walks in the park and books by dim lighting, resulted in a restful mind for me and worry for my mother. But she kept silent, out of respect for me and waited for my return and our lovely, silence-mending conversation we had this evening.

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We all have a personal relationship with Silence.  We share different experiences and view Silence under different light. It’s amazing really – how something that seems like such a simple concept, can take on so many forms.  Isn’t it?

Yours truly,

Erin Terese

P.S. This diary-like post was inspired by the Weekly Writing Challenge posed by the Daily Post on “The Sound of Silence.”

Mothers are a Gift

I remember a time as a child when I asked my mother if I was an “oops baby”.  If I had been a surprise.  If I was the baby that so fondly found her, instead of her finding me.  I was not asking out of concern, as if there was anything wrong with it, but more out of curiosity.  More because I am the kind of person that is always curious. Curious about who I am and why I am here.  About why you are here, we are here, life is here. Just a natural born curious soul… It’s how I roll – now and always.

The way in which she answered me was quite unexpected.  My mother is a very kind and loving person.  She is the type of woman one would describe as greatly generous while being entirely selfless.  She radiates positivity and has a softness is her eyes and in her embrace that sets people at ease.  You know that she is someone whom you can be yourself around and that you will not be judged.  She is loving in a very natural and accepting way; evident by her actions more than her words or efforts.

She speaks softly and with care towards others sensitivities.  Her words are rarely abrupt and never harsh; her tone radiating joy and compassion.  She is not serious or heavy in her conversation, but rather keeps her words to those which are soft and light, packed with hope and the promise of something greater.

Because of this, I was surprised by her response to me.  She quickly stopped what she was doing and turned to meet my gaze.  Her smile dropped and she gave me a serious look.  One I had not seen before.  It wasn’t the look of anger or disappointment or regret, but a look that let me know that what she was about to say was something that I needed to hear.

All of a sudden, I felt silly for asking and became grounded in the moment.

Her voice became soft and stern as she told me that I was planned. That I was wanted.  That she and my father knew they wanted another child and had very deliberately tried to have me. As she stood there explaining this to me, I knew how true it was.  It was a brief conversation, but a powerful one.  She took time and care discussing it with me since she knew it was important that I truly hear what she was saying.  And in a way, it was.

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Babies are blessings however they come.  They are.  Whether it is recognized at the time of their birth or years later or never – they are.  We are all gifts and lucky to be here.  Life is a gift, and we are lucky to live it.  We all know this.  We do. Whether we choose to recognize it now or later or never – it is.

The way in which my mother told me that I was wanted and loved and planned helped me realize early on just how lucky I am.  How incredibly amazing life is and how beautifully it can be designed.  There is beauty in the chaos, but there is a profound beauty in the design.  The planner in me loves this.

Just this morning, my mother told me that I have always been a “plotter and a planner”.  We were discussing my next life move and how she hopes I find a career that allows me to “plot and plan” since I love it so much.  How poetic then that I was “plotted and planned” for.  Perhaps it is why I am that way, or perhaps it is why I needed to know if I was planned or not.  But her response was beautiful. It was exactly what I needed to hear.   Exactly what I needed to know.  Exactly what I needed to understand.

Mothers so often have a way of doing that.  Not all women that bear children are true mothers, but for those of us that are lucky enough to be born unto women that are loving mothers, we know what a gift it is.  One that should be honored and cherished and never taken for granted.

I love you, Mom.  Happy Mother’s Day!

Yours truly,

Erin Terese

Avoid, Rinse, Repeat. – I am breaking the cycle.

I struggle with when to stay and when to walk away in romantic relationships, friendships and even in my career.  This is a sensitive subject for me.  In order to discuss this and have any kind of opinion on the matter, I am going to be vulnerable and air my dirty laundry for all to read.  I don’t like this.

So here it goes…

I don’t think I really noticed how wounded I was until I started writing this blog.  I didn’t fully understand how strongly I hold my loved ones in my grasp.  I didn’t realize that some I would fight for endlessly and others I would let slip away as if they had meant nothing to me. To the outsider, it may seem haphazard – but there is surely a rhyme and definitely a reason.

The thing is, it is the same thing every time.  I will fight to save and help and encourage the people in my life.  To no end.  When they call, I am there. Even if it has been years, my heart beats for my loved ones.  I truly carry their heart in my heart.  This is true until this one thing happens.  Until I think that I might be left. If I fear that I may be at fault, have done any wrong and that I might be abandoned, I leave. I rewrite what has happened in my head and make it seem as if it was my choice to be drama free – when really I was guarding my heart.  And wounding it further along the way.

Same story, different boyfriend, lover, friend – every time. Avoid, Rinse, Repeat.

And yes, some of those relationships are better left where they lay.  It was a blessing.  But some could have been nurtured.  Some I could have taken the time to reach out again and listen with a patient heart.  I could have asked to hear what I had done, if anything, that lead to the growing canyon between us.  But my standard response was to speculate and write the story in my head. As if I knew. As if there was anyway I could really have known what happened.

My cowardice in confrontation has left me with lost friendships and lovers that perhaps could have been life-long friends or loves of my life, had I not been so fearful of their judgment.  Had my insecurities and childhood wounds not left me so fearful of being brokenhearted. And on the flip-side, I may not have even been their friend or lover had I not been seeking their approval in the first place.  Knowing this is a trip.

What I have learned from all of my writing, the endless hours dissecting my thoughts, and countless hours learning to quite my mind, is the truth. The essence of me. (And I know many of you are going to relate to this) I have a large heart.  A big one.  I could fill a football stadium with my loved ones. I would fly around the world and scale the highest mountain to help any one of those dear ones.  But have I always given myself that same amount of love and dedication?  Sadly, I have not.  Not until now.

nurture

Now I am going to fight to save and help and encourage myself in this life.  This means that I will lean into the discomfort of conversations to find the truth.  I will no longer walk away when things get scary, I will stay and talk them through and hug everyone on the way out – whether it is for the last time or if I will see them bright and early the next morning.

I am giving up on the idea of never.  The idea that you have to even walk away. It doesn’t have to be a forever goodbye, slam the door in your face and never hear from you again.  It can be a “So long my friend, I wish you the best.  I love you.  Until will meet again”.  Because guess what?  Life is short.  It is crazy.  There are twists and turns and chapters we can never imagine. Leading characters may fade into the back, and supporting characters may swoop in and save the day.

You never know.

To assume and wonder and speculate does no one any good.  Ask for your answer.  Hear it with an open heart.  If you do not get an answer, then do your best to release it and bless it on the way out – “until we meet again”.  Or at least that is my plan.  Instead of “Avoid, Rinse, Repeat” it is “Love, Nurture, Forgive”.

Yours truly,

Miss Erin Terese

Why am I thankful? Let me tell you.

Last week I gathered with seven of my girlfriends for a lovely Vegan Thanksgiving Dinner.  We have been having meatless dinners every two weeks for the past five months and creating delicious meals that feed our bodies, nourish our souls, and we also happen to have fabulous conversation and wine to wash it all down.  When we first began to meet, we crafted our shared mission, laid out our guidelines and thus began our journey. The thing about journeys, as we have all learned, is that there is so much that is unplanned.  And there in the life and the ish and the serendipity lies the magic.

Thanksgiving is not a Holiday that I normally feel very strongly about.  By now we know that Christopher Columbus was not a very good man and that what was done to the Native Americans was cruel and wrong on so many levels. But we Americans continue to celebrate regardless.  Hopefully most people embrace this holiday as a chance to reflect on what they are thankful for, what makes them grateful and then share these feelings with close friends and family.  I’m not sure about most families, but mine doesn’t typically reflect aloud (although I don’t believe I have ever initiated or suggested that we do). I simply take a moment and say my thanks within my mind, and maybe send a few thankful texts and a Facebook shout out.

During our Vegan Thanksgiving Dinner, my amazing friend Kat mentioned that we forgot to say our thanks.  Wait, people actually do that?  The idea excited me, but I was immediately struck with the thought Oh, crap!  Now I need to think of something quick.  How do you say on the spot what you are thankful for?  Luckily I was second to last, so I had a little time to formulate my answer.  As my friends began to speak, I couldn’t help but to hang on their every word and was completely moved by their answers. Thanks was given for friendship while husbands were away on military leave.  For friendship during breakups and makeups and hard times. For nieces and nephews.  For making new friends, having a safe place to speak and empathetic ears to bend.  For new jobs and traveling adventures. For fertility treatment and twins on the way.  For health and success in business.

While my friends were speaking, I was hit with my answer: I am thankful to be living now, in this day and age.  As a 29 year old single female, I cannot tell you how glad I am to be living in this era.  As women in America, we have the freedom to live our lives as we choose.  Up until recently, women have had to abide by the the lifestyle laid out before them.  This usually consisted of marriage, a lot of babies and tending to the home.  In the last century, women in America have been making great strides.  We can be gay, straight, bisexual, single, married, divorced, educated, fit, overweight, employed, living on welfare, vote, travel, follow whichever religion we choose, pursue whatever career we like, have children, not have children, garden, have a personal chef.  We have the technology, the freedom and the education to play a hand in our fate. We are empowered.

I can choose the life I want and pursue it with little judgment.  Obviously there is judgment in the world, but there is more acceptance and tolerance than ever before.  There is someone in your corner now, cheering you on and propelling you forward.  A century ago, I would have been considered an old hag.  Too old to marry. An outcast.  Or most likely, I would have fallen in line with the steps of society: married, working in the home and having my fourth child. I am so grateful for the life I lead.  My friends and family accept me, I pursue every passion and idea that crosses my mind and strikes my fancy, and I express myself openly and share myself fully.  I know that for every person that judges me, there is someone else reaching out to give me a hug and thank me for being my authentic self.

I am thankful to be empowered.

I am thankful to be living now, in this day and age.

What are you thankful for?

 

Yours truly,

Erin Terese

Everything in Moderation

When I look back at my childhood, there are certain phrases I remember hearing over and over again.  The one that rings most clearly in my mind is “everything in moderation”.  I cannot tell you how many times I heard this!  Every time I would ask for another serving of ice cream. Every time I wanted to watch just one more television program before bed. Every time I begged to stay longer at the park. “Everything in moderation, my dear” was the standard response. Humph!  What’s one more little scoop, one more sitcom or 30 more measly minutes at the park?

Thankfully as an adult, I understand that the line needs to be drawn somewhere.  There are only so many calories in a pound, so many hours to sleep, and so much free time in the day.  In order to accomplish all the tasks at hand and to keep a healthy mind and body, we must find the right balance and keep “everything in moderation”.  The problem here is, what is moderation?  How much is moderation?  The answer is: it varies from person to person.  This means we must be mindful in the choices we make. 

Finding and maintaining balance is an ongoing effort.  Life is constantly changing.  We have new jobs, new spouses, new houses, new debt, new friends, new stress and new health problems to balance.  Figuring out what is a perfect balance is no simple task.  Pay attention to how much time, money and energy you are expelling in each area. It may help to make a list of your top priorities. For example, mine are: 1) Family/Friends 2) Health & Fitness 3) Leisure Activities 4) Work and 5) Creative Outlet.

Once you have a clear idea of where your priorities lie, then you can look at your life and make an honest assessment of how well you balance those things.  You may find that you do an excellent job and are totally at peace with yourself.  Good for you!  But if you feel exhausted or stretched too thin, chances are you are putting more effort in to one of your priorities that doesn’t need it, and not enough in one of the others.  Balance.  Moderation is key.  If you can identify an area that is lacking your attention, make a shift and try to find the balance.  And by balance I do not mean equal amounts, I mean the right proportion.  Maybe you will only need to focus a small percentage of time and energy in one category and much more in another.

Just be honest with yourself and know that some days and weeks your balance will need to be adjusted.  Listen to your body, to your mind and to the world around you.  Take into consideration all you need and all you want.  Somewhere in there is your balance – your moderation.

Not everything we learn as children is correct.  In fact, much of it is not – but these words ring true: “Everything in moderation, my dear”.

Yours truly,

Erin Terese