Two heads are not always better than one

When I was 4 years old (I actually remember this), soon before starting preschool in my native Belgium, I told my mom I did not want go to school, “like, ever”.  I wanted to stay home and play with my toys. I wanted to be like her, always home, quiet, and with no homework assignments (all this in age appropriate language, of course).

Fifty years later I am well aware that it’s not because one does not leave the house that one does not have home work, like my mother immediately set out to explain to me.  She ran a household of 8 with no hot water in the kitchen (she had to boil a kettle each time she did the dishes), one bathroom, and only a semi-automatic washing machine. Things are very different today and each time I think of how hard my mom worked I say a quick thank you, especially if I’m unloading the dishwasher, my least favorite chore.

One thing has not changed, however: I still long/love to be home alone. Self-help experts often advise that we reconnect with our young selves and do what s/he loved to do at the time. For me my friends it’s definitely being on my own. No demands, no questions, no explanations. I can smell the roses, the tulips, or the stew on the stove, and feel good about it. How daring is that?

As a stay-at-home mom I felt into the trap of endless activities in an unconscious then, and conscious now, effort to prove that I was busy and, more importantly, worthy. Despite countless attempts to grow our gregarious side, I find I have raised two young adults who also need alone time to recharge and stay grounded. They are now facing what I struggled with for decades: the notion that wanting to be alone is somehow unhealthy, antisocial, or simply weird. Since my mother’s days the focus, in affluent communities, has shifted from looking at social busyness as a temporary pleasure or necessity to regarding it as the optimum way of life.  Success is not only gauged in terms of career or money but very much in terms of social connections and interactions. How many likes you get on a post or pictures. How many times a week you dine out with friends. How heavy the traffic is on your website. The more the merrier we are led to believe. And if it does not hold true for you, something’s wrong.

Here’re my two cents: if being alone stems from a deep need to connect with yourself, with your journey, with the challenge of living a fruitful life, do not let anyone tell you it’s not “normal”. Not all of us are cut out to thrive through social encounters and people stuff. It’s not that we’re afraid or lack self-confidence; it’s about being honest about how we can be our best and making sure our needs are met. It’s about protecting our true self from outside domination so we can offer it to the world in its most potent yet kindest form. There’s power in aloneness. And there’s love too. Love for ourselves, for life, for others. Choosing solitude is a valid and strong choice in a world that often seems to be socializing out of control.

I leave you with a recent photograph I took of Easter colored tulips. Go ahead, pause and smell them. And if you’re happier running out the door to meet your busy, that’s ok too. I’ll stay here and change the water.

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Words and photograph – Maryse Godet Copans © 2017

Blu Amaryllis is back

My friend Jane Alessandrini Ward asked a very pertinent question the last time I posted a picture on Facebook: “Where’s the Blu Amaryllis?”

Where indeed? Well,I buried it while I dreamt of tackling a different kind of project. I am not a good blogger, as you’ve all noticed, and am very grateful for the 70 followers who do not seem to mind.

Jane’s question encouraged me to revisit this site and play with the idea of writing again to share online. Why not? It will be my writing practice, short snippets of everyday life that will serve as fertilizer for the more ambitious idea that’s germinating. An idea spiritual in nature that will involve lots of writing and tons of fear. Time will tell if I’m up to it, and up to being active here again on a regular basis.

Mind you, if I can figure out how to make this glorious white amaryllis bloom again there’s hope for my future as a writer, don’t you think? Flowers in general and the amaryllis in particular bring forth their bold yet delicate beauty and dare us to look at life and NOT feel awe. Life loves flowers. When we  care for them with love and gentleness they in turn bless us with their joyful magic. I look at a flower and know life loves me. If that’s not magic, what is?

My one cent: Moderation does not apply to flowers. Indulge as often and as long as possible.

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Maryse Godet Copans © 2017

 

 

 

The 12 Months of 2016

This is to the tune of “The 12 Days of Christmas”, except for the very first line that you can read silently and ponder. I gave up resolutions a few years ago and haven’t looked back.What about you? 

 

[On the last day of the year, my true Self said to me : “NO RESOLUTIONS!”]

 

Then the first month of the year my true Self gave to me,

permission to simply be me.

 

The second month of the year, my true Self gave to me,

Two grateful thoughts, and permission to simply be me.

 

The third month of the year, my true Self gave to me,

Three deep breaths,

Two grateful thoughts, and permission to simply be me.

 

The fourth month of the year, my true Self gave to me,

Four loving hugs,

Three deep breaths, two grateful thoughts, and permission to simply be me.

 

The fifth month of the year, my true Self gave to me,

Five nature walks,

four loving hugs, three deep breaths,  two grateful thoughts, and permission to simply be me.

 

The sixth month of the year, my true Self gave to me,

Six meditations,

Five nature walks, four loving hugs, three deep breaths, two grateful thoughts, and permission to simply be me.

 

The seventh month of the year, my true Self gave to me,

Seven dreams come true,

Six meditations, five nature walks, four loving hugs, three deep breaths, two grateful thoughts, and permission to simply be me.

 

The eighth month of the year, my true Self gave to me,

Eight poems-a writing,

Seven dreams come true, six meditations, five nature walks, four loving hugs, three deep breaths, two grateful thoughts, and permission to simply be me.

 

The ninth month of the year, my true Self gave to me,

Nine honest prayers,

Eight poems a-writing, seven dreams come true, six meditations, five nature walks, four loving hugs, three deep breaths, two grateful thoughts, and permission to simply be me.

 

The tenth month of the year, my true Self gave to me,

Ten friendly signs,

nine honest prayers, eight poems a-writing, seven dreams come true, six meditations, five nature walks, four loving hugs, three deep breaths, two grateful thoughts, and permission to simply be me.

 

The eleventh month of the year, my true Self gave to me,

Eleven bold steps,

Ten friendly words, nine honest prayers, eight poems a-writing, seven dreams come true, six meditations, five nature walks, four loving hugs, three deep breaths, two grateful thoughts, and permission to simply be me.

 

The twelfth month of the year, my true Self gave to me,

Twelve open doors,

Eleven bold steps, ten friendly words, nine honest prayers, eight poems a-writing, seven dreams come true, six meditations, five nature walks, four loving hugs, three deep breaths, two grateful thoughts, and permission to simply be me.

 

HAPPY NEW YEAR. May it be basked in light and the warmth of understanding and companionship.

 

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A Tale of Three Fingers

The prompt asked that we write a very short story from 3 different perspectives. Fun, fun, fun,

 

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Hey you! Yes, you, Life! What the heck do you think you’ re doing? Trying to slow me down? Thinking you can win this? Watch me. Watch me fight you all the way, climbing a little higher every day. You may go after me and block my way but I’ll keep moving ahead in the direction I choose. F– off already! – Signed, The Middle Finger

Life, when will you leave me alone to enjoy myself? Every time I start relaxing another crisis shows its ugly head. Aren’t you tired of giving me such a hard time? Why do so many have it much easier than I do? Why are you picking on me? Why me? Am I not kind dutiful? I am a good person to whom bad things happen and I blame you entirely. Poor me. Bad you. – Signed, The Index Finger

Good morning, Life. Whatever you decide to bring on today, I’m ready. Ready to dance or rest. Prepared to work or play. Willing to try or simply savor. I am you and you are me, flowing together in this one great adventure. I don’t seek to understand it. I don’t strive to best it. What will be will be. My heart is open and my spirit free. Take me where I’ m needed. Show me what’s wanted. Thank you! – Signed, The Thumb Up

A Human of All Seasons

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As I photographed this glorious butterfly sipping the last nectar of summer, its invitation to focus led me to also take a shot of my inner landscape. Only a few days ago the excitement of biting into my second spring was filling me with excitement and anticipation, and yet I now found myself adrift in a blurry picture of sorrow mixed with gratitude and joy. There I stood, newly confirmed in the community of empty nesters, feeling both elation at my children’s independence and sadness at their absence, swinging between the highs of mature freedom and the lows of returned aloneness. All. At. Once.

The Bible tells us, “There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under the heavens…a time to weep and a time to laugh…a time to mourn and a time to dance…” (Ecclesiastes 3: 1-5).  As wilting flowers easily yield to the fiery shades of autumn, I’m wondering what we, transient beings, are supposed to do when we come to realize that all times, all seasons, move upon and through us at once. We laugh and cry in the same sentence; in our hearts flow both hope and grief; our lives sing the songs of the dead and the living. Everything is right now, in this instant of potential and regret, in this breath of opening and closing.

Like winter’s ice protects the triumph of summer’s blooms, like fall’s bounty feeds the promises of spring, we each harbor every one of life’s seasons. When we open to them with acceptance and reverence, without forcing their presence or wishing for their retreat, we get to feel there’s enough space for them all. Always.  Pain doesn’t negate joy. Bliss is not meant to erase heartache. Emptiness doesn’t cancel the wonder of belonging. Together they shape the true form of human experience at any given time. Together they gift us with a depth of perception and a longing for more. When we finally choose to own the richness and echoes of this truth, we are offered a chance to taste what it means to be whole, authentic, and without end.

“He has also set eternity in their hearts…” – (Ecclesiastes 3:11)

Maryse Godet Copans © 2015

My Bold Truth

This is a response I posted today for a 10 day photography/writing class I’m part of. The prompt was “truth”.

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Yesterday I came very, very close to dropping out of this class.

I started last week full of enthusiasm at the idea of growing and creating with both words and photography. Five days later, anxiety symptoms had returned and I was once again filled with self-doubt.  Surely, real depth came from darkness if I were to trust the vibes permeating the class. Most posted about their pain and struggles. Captures of moments of joy and light were few and far between, timid exceptions to a sad rule. “This is not my truth”, I thought, “not my tribe.”

Every human journey is unique, yet we all share the same pain and challenges through the simple facts that we breathe the same air and feel the same emotions. We all taste loss, unworthiness, and fear. We all, sooner or later, touch the bottom of our humanness. It teaches us about humility, compassion, and resilience.  But we also all hold the capacity for joy. I too walked the walk of the wounded, trapped in the pit of my own sorrow. I too created from that space when it was the only relief in sight. It made room for healing and new possibilities, and little by little, the light returned.

There’s power and nurturing in this light because it knows the darkness well and like roots planted deep in the soil need sunshine and rain to grow into all they can be, I now choose to create from that space of hope and love. Love for my journey, for myself, for you, for Life. I choose Joy. I choose to celebrate every moment I get to embrace who I am and be a grateful witness to all that life has to offer.

This is my truth and today I boldly stand up for it.

Maryse Godet Copans © 2015