All’s Quiet (today) on the Southwestern Front

He took the bus from work and met me on the 16th Street Mall, a well-known shopping and dining area. He’d suggested the restaurant and texted the directions. His sister and her roommate would meet us as well, after they returned from Whole Foods and put away their groceries.

The last time I saw him looking this sharp was, ironically, on Christmas Eve of the broken arm and percocet haze. He was crisp in a white button down shirt, a light blue patterned tie and khaki pants. He was beautifully, casually professional with a two to three-day beard and, for the first time, the haircut of a Colorado businessman, down around the collar.

I wrapped my arms around his neck and squeezed hard; he planted that familiar kiss right on my lips. He’s been a head-on kisser since he was a toddler, and doesn’t hold back when it comes to his mama. I love that about him.

He could have been anybody’s polished young kid starting out at an ad agency or a dot-com. So striking, that had I seen him earlier on the mall, I would have done a double take. The blonde waitress, who later approached our table, seemed to notice, too. The fresh, hip restaurant was buzzing with the energy of weekday patrons. I was surprised and taken with his choice; we ordered our beverages and waited for the girls to arrive.

Our party of four enjoyed a delightful adult exchange for an hour and a half. Inherently funny and today loaded with a healthier dialogue; he spoke with a lilting cadenceAbsent was the reactive personality of the past. We had a balanced conversation. He was telling stories, but was just as intent to listen to ours and ask relevant questions. He was decidedly present and shared details of his job and impressive information about the city, which he’d come to love.

For so long, he’d been mired in his own problems; today he was engaging with the world around him, offering his sister business leads, sure of the goings on about town, like any young professional. Taking an interest in the route that his sister had driven from Virginia – by herself, I might add – he checked on her the entire way.

I couldn’t imagine a time in the past fifteen years that he might have joined us at a Thanksgiving meal to sit and shoot the breeze. Always fidgety, he popped up and down from the table, checking his cell phone, distracted. His uniform was a hoodie and baggy khakis – a little grungy – and that recognizable glaze in his eyes.

To the casual observer, today would have offered no indication of a struggle with addiction, much less chronic incarceration.

He had to be back at the halfway house by nine, so we said goodnight to the girls and walked back to my rental car. My hotel was nearby; I dropped him off on the way. Conversation on our drive centered around his imminent release from this facility. He explained to me that because of overcrowding, non-violent offenders may find themselves on an unexpected fast track. As his mother, my fear was that he was moving through the system too quickly.  My hope was that prison would slow him down, get him in front of medical care and counseling. Because he never got past the transitional diagnostic center, he never fell into that rhythm. I worried that he might not take the initiative towards consistent care once he was in charge of his own life.

Pat’s words washed over me, leaving a newly adopted sense of calm. “Let go – don’t create the story – he’s a grown man – it’s his journey”.

We pulled up to the entrance of his cinder block home. We planned to meet again the following evening after work. For the first time, in forever, I looked forward to our next visit.


Read to the end of this post if you want a feel good tip for Spring …..

Recently, I went to an hour and a half, candlelight, yoga practice. 

It was a cold, rainy Sunday afternoon at 4:00 and I figured that the class would be packed. 
I got there about 20 minutes early and secured a place on the 2nd row between the lines of demarcation.

When you enter the studio, your senses reacclimate.  
The room is darkened, hot and eerily quiet, except for the rustling of yogis laying out their mats, towels, straps, water bottles – stretching, breathing and starting to move inward – setting intentions for their practice.

For anyone who does not practice yoga, you are asked to leave your
keys, phone, shoes and other personal items in a cubby-hole outside of the room.
You are also encouraged to leave the chaos of your life and your ego at the front door.

I hadn’t been in several weeks and knew that it was going to be a challenge. 

Thank God the lights are low, because I don’t make a big effort with the yoga attire, hair or make-up and I generally wear my glasses. 
I take them off during the entire practice so that I can’t clearly see myself in the mirror, and like the emperor who wore no clothes, I pretend that no one else can see me. 

My guess, by the sleek silhouettes in the room, is that I am an elder.  
I’m not one of the superstars, which is OK with me, because I’ve already locked my ego in the car.

“The willingness to show up changes us; it makes us a little braver each time.”
Brene Brown,
Daring Greatly:How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead

Yoga is about allowing yourself to be vulnerable.

“Vulnerability is not for the weak hearted.  
It requires deep inner strength to admit what you don’t know, what you can’t do well, what scares you and what hurts you.
How do we develop the strength to stand in our vulnerability?  
On our yoga mats, we learn to honor it.  When we embrace vulnerability wholeheartedly, we discover a strength we did not know we had.  
As we attempt to do a posture that seems impossible or scary, once we set aside our ego, and stop struggling to get it right, we surprise ourselves and nail a pose we’ve never done before.  
We discover that accepting our vulnerability helps us create a boundary.  
We don’t push too hard, or go too far, which keeps us safe.”
(Dr. Gail Parker’s Blog – Taking Yoga Off Your Mat)

Relative to mothering addiction –

“Owning our story can be hard, but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running away from it.  Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky, but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy – the experiences that make us the most vulnerable.  
Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of the light.”
Brene Brown

I am drawn to other people who are willing to expose their vulnerabilities.

I, too, am learning to expose my own vulnerabilities in yoga and now, 
in my writing.

PS – 
Now that spring is here, pull up Feeling Good, by Michael Buble, in your music library.  
Raise the windows in your house or lower the windows in your car, press play on your music device, turn up the volume and let er rip……