Singular Truth

This blog began as an experiment, to record a story as it unfolded.  It began with a heartbreak and a haircut and was intended to track the journey to healing and a full flowing mane.  I have discovered many things along the way – bits and pieces of myself, my struggles, my beauty and my strength have to come to my conscious understanding.  A lot of lessons and experiences have made writing an interesting passtime.  But recent days have brought to the forefront a purpose.  A purpose to be TRUTH.

Truth is a difficult thing to face.  Particularly if facing it and speaking it could bring repurcussions and judgement from those around us.  It is a particularly difficult when the effects of it could land unsolicited on the lives of loved ones like husbands and children.  This is where I have found a major purpose and the advantage of singleness.  And what a discovery this has been!

I’M WIDE AWAKE!  I have a new understanding of what Paul had to say about singleness:

An unmarried woman is concerned about the Lord’s affairs: Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit. But a married woman is concerned about the affairs of this world—how she can please her husband.

1 Corinthians 7:34

What is the work of God?  Truth.  Truth is God’s business.  If I am unconcerned with the needs of a husband, I am free to speak and be truth.  If I am free of fear of what my husband will think or of any harm that might come to him from what I do or say or challenge in truth, I am able to make change happen.

It is our responsibility to live authentic lives.  Fear is what gives birth to falsehood.  Survival mechanisms and alter egos are designed to protect us from the side effects of being true.  But once we get to the place of fearlessness the sky is the limit and change is clay in our hands.

For the single this is a much easier journey.  Fear for ourselves is all we have to surpass.  And each of us has a calling to get past that fear and break out with some truth.

What is your purpose?  What is the truth that you are called to be?

What to Expect – Unconventional Review

It was a dog’s day at work that had me praying Psalms 35 and dreaming murder.  To calm down the inner battleship I took the afternoon off and went to the movies – only because Happy Hour hadn’t started yet.  Wasn’t my first choice.  But obviously someone out there had a plan.  My student cousin joined me and we bought tickets for What To Expect When You’re Expecting.

Dear Reader, I add all of this personal background to this unconventional movie review to attempt to explain my uncharacteristic behaviour and protect my badass rep.  Just for the record, Bushlings doesn’t cry.  Not in the movies.  Especially not in a comedy.  Not in public.  And as far as about 99.9% of the people in my life will tell you, NOT AT ALL.

The movie began with such hope – the story of five women who found themselves expecting.  Each of them was a different lady – a young (but absolutely DELIGHTFUL) bimbo married to an old legend, their (“their”) daughter-in-law expert in breast-feeding without ever having done it, a witty young woman working in the dog-eat-(hot)dog world of Food Trucks, a beautiful photographer unable to have children of her own, and a celebrity fitness trainer knocked up by her dance partner on a celebrity dance show.  It was HILARIOUS!  There were fits of laughter to be found in the beginning, the middle, the end, every minute.  From the way in which they found out they were pregnant, to the craziness of their pregnancies, to the delivery room, to Ethiopia this movie was fully engaging.

I am not going to be a spoiler but I will touch on four moments that were planted in my memory forever.

  1. The Dudes.  This movie was not just about women and not just for women.  It was for and about humanity.  The Dudes, headed by Chris Rock, operate in accordance with an unbreakable code that is so absolutely, authentically, terrifyingly and irritatingly masculine it made me cringe, laugh and embrace them all at the same time.  I can see my brothers in these Dudes, my friends, and my Man in Iraq.  If there is ever a man who fears fatherhood (all of ’em), they should watch this movie.  Women, sit them on the couch.  Tie them down if you have to.  Put the thing in front of them.  It shows regular and authentic dudes doing fatherhood in their regular authentic dude way.  All manhood and all powerful and all scary.
  2. The Miscarriage.  It hit me right in the chest.  I’ve never had one but have had the same fears.  Her cruelty, her blame, her crushing disappointment came at me as words that could have come from my own mouth and tears (I admit) that could have welled up in my own eyes.
  3. The Meltdown.  Yes, I laughed with everyone else.  It was hilarious!  At the same time I imagined WOW, that’s probably what pregnancy would do to me.  Big as a house, fighting my own body, farting and peeing and effing and blinding.  Perhaps crying?  Maybe not.  I wanted to reach into the screen and hug her whale of a mummy-tummy and tell her I was rooting for her.
  4. The Adoption.  Here I need to pause before I write.  …………  OK.  I’m ready.  Her ENTIRE story gripped me.  Her insecurity at not being able to do what every woman is built to do and give her husband a child, her fear of not being good enough and undeserving, her love at first sight for the ugly (yup – I said it) little kid in the photograph who turned out to be absolutely gorgeous in person – it consumed me.  Will this be my story?  Will it be my pain and my battle?  Is that the happy ending I will find?  Women who have never been pregnant sometimes (often) wonder.  It may be turn out there was never anything wrong with our ability to have kids, just that we’ve been smart with our protection, but seeing the worst case scenario play out so beautifully really gave me a sense of peace.  Bushlings would never admit that she wept through the ceremony.  She would adamantly deny there being any possibility that she could cry rivers down two of her cheeks in the theater, in PUBLIC.  She wouldn’t tell you that she could weep while writing about it.  Never would you get her to admit to feeling rips at her heart while remembering the beautiful, alone, unparented, forgotten, unloved, unnamed, unrecognized Ethiopian child desperately in need of the motherhood of a woman whose eggs wouldn’t perform even after she had decimated her 401k on IVF treatments.  It would never do to react like that.

As soon as this thing opens up in a theater near you, drag everyone you know and go see that movie.

What to Expect was not what I expected.  It wasn’t a story for women or for men or for children or for adults.  It wasn’t geared to any population in particular.  It was a story about all of us – the one thing we have in common throughout all of humanity.  We each were born to a woman, carried for up to nine months.  Each of us is a combination of either having children, wanting them, and/or fearing them.  This is about every one of us who has been a child.

This is our story.

Mothers Day for Childless Women

Today can be hard for many people across the world remembering Mothers Day.  The first Mothers Day after mom has passed on is usually one of pain and tears.  The Mothers Day when you and your mom are not on speaking terms is also a very difficult one.  Not to mention the day for the terminally ill mom who might not make it to her next Mothers Day.  Fortunately my mom is alive and relatively well but this year I have glimpsed the fear of losing her twice.  This year I was very grateful for her presence.

One set of mourners on Mothers Day that are often forgotten are women who have always wanted children but have yet to see that stage of life begin.  I imagine it is particularly painful for those ladies well past the age where they can have children without going against everything in science.

There is a couple in my church who have been loving guides to many young people over the course of the years.  They are about the age of my parents and generous with their time and understanding.  They have never been able to have children.  Every Mothers Day my heart goes out to the lady who has been such a gracious mother-figure to me.  Today she turned out brave and beautiful – she’s actually still a stunner despite her years – because not only was she found childless on Mothers Day but this was also her first Mothers Day without her mom.

For women like myself who are still in childbearing years and unmarried, we get kind handshakes saying “soon enough” or “don’t worry, it will come.”  Consolations that feel a bit like Valentines Day to the newly-jilted.  For those who have never wanted to be mothers this is a source of annoyance.  Why should we feel less of a woman because we’ve DECIDED not to go forth and multiply?  But for those who have always wanted to be moms and seen year after year go by and no answer to this prayer, it is particularly painful.

This Mothers Day I had a kindness paid to me that brought tears to my eyes.  I paid no attention to the accidental Happy Mothers Day greetings and I steeled myself against the “oh honey, one day”s.  But a friend came over during the chaotic time of greeting in our church service and said “Happy Mothers Day my love”.  I started the standard protest line and he shut me down – “You’ve got two dogs to mother don’t you?”  I felt myself flush, grateful for being understood and appreciated for who I am and remembered with such gentleness.  “Happy Mothers Day to Juju’s mom”.

I’ve come home just now after having spent much of the day lounging with my mom in her sofa (she didn’t want to leave the house – I tried!) to grateful jumps and a crate full of poop to clean up.  Lola was given some ham yesterday and it hasn’t sat well with her.  She doesn’t get a lot of pork in our house.  As I bent unquestioningly to the task I reckoned, hell, I guess I am a mom.

Resistance

It was a blur of calls to clients, making sure the checks were cut, the bills both corporate and personal paid, instructions left with the helper, the assistant, provisions made for the care of my canine children, duties distributed to employees, bags packed, passport in hand, and currency enough for one week carefully stashed in safe and secret places.

For the past few weeks – perhaps even months – I have operated on fumes as fuel quickly burned off from my last replenishing vacation.  So much strived for, battled against, lost and accomplished.  My mind and body and spirit screamed at me as I reamed out first gear.  Begging for a time in PARK.  Rest.  Stop.  Quiet.  Nothing.

And so I got on a plane knowing rest would not be available to me at home with the needs of friends, family, co-workers, employees, animals ever present and pressing.  I was delivered safe and sound to Kingston airport by Cayman Airways, stood none-too-patiently for an hour and a half ot get my passport stamped (thinking all the time I would FIRE the person who scheduled five flights at once!) and was collected lovingly by my brother and his girlfriend.

Rest is what I came for.  But fear is what I came with.

It has been 48 hours and already I’m going crazy.  I am a ball of pure unreasonable resistance.

There is no rest in my weariness, no relief in my repose.  Today I tossed and turned as my tummy twisted in turmoil – perhaps a tummy bug but more likely the fear that if I succumb to this quiet I will lose something.  Or find something I don’t want to find.

But instead it found me.  The predator long of tooth and sharp of claw has waited for my quiet to make his presence known.  He takes the thoughts of my mind and roughly yanks them toward himself, a part of myself, the part I run from with my meetings and engagements, my sushi and coffee dates, the problem solving sessions for the problems of others, my busyness and business.  He is the part that is left last to fall asleep at night.  I push myself daily to breaking point to make our nightly encounters brief so that when my head hits the pillow I am too exhausted to feel his bite into the artery of the neck of my soul.  This piece of my soul called by the male gender for his ability to hurt me, known best by the smell of lonely tears about to burst, and fears of childless and loveless futures, is most dangerous when his presence prompts regret and self doubt.  Never have I left behind a love that did not need leaving and my brain knows this but this animal asks me like a spoiled and nagging child over and over and over and over… “are you sure?”  “would you not be better there than here alone with me?” “are you sure?”.

Already on this quest to rest this bastard has wrung tears from my dry eyes.  My challenge is to find peace and not be won over by the compulsion in my nature to work myself to the bone and into a state so distracted by tiredness that his voice is lost in the babble.  For tonight I must lose myself – especially this hungry, febrile, visceral part of myself – in the peace of simply BEING.

Pray for me.

Every Single Woman Needs…:#17 To Be Touched

A dear friend of mine and I had lunch a few weeks ago.  She is not a Single Woman but in a committed relationship.  Long. Distance.  We are in similar places in our lives and living a very similar lifestyle.  That means working a similar lifestyle.  Our days look a bit like this:

7:00 a.m. wake up, make coffee and breakfast (Breakfast is optional.  Coffee is not.)

7:30 shower and dress

8:00 get into car and fight traffic to get to the office

8:30 start work day with email and work to lunch

12:00-1:00 Lunch.  (This entire step is optional.)

5:00 say goodbye to co-workers and continue to work

7:30 work some more or go home

8:00 arrive at home and eat dinner (Dinner is optional.)

8:30 shower.

9:00 bed.

REPEAT ALL STEPS 6 or 7 TIMES PER WEEK

So, one of our optional lunch times coincided and somehow over salads the conversation turned to touch.

It is not often that one thinks of it, but it is very rare that the Single Woman is touched.  She doesn’t wake up to warm embraces or have little ones to kiss goodnight.  Girlfriends’ air kisses in greeting are chaste and protective of makeup and do not involve contact.  Handshakes over business deals are corporate tools devoid of feeling.  And she doesn’t live at home with Mom’s hugs and Dad’s pats on the head.  It was only when a friend of mine, seeing me fighting off a cold before Christmas, took the back of my head in his hands and squeezed some of the tension out that I realized that it had been months since I was last touched.  As I related the story to my friend she remarked on feeling the same absence, being unable in her circumstances to be in the same country as her husband.  The poor married woman is finding herself in a Single Woman’s reality!

It is wired into the human psyche to communicate with our world through our senses.  Our sight, hearing, taste and smell serve us well as we make our way through different environments.  But there is no sense so powerful in conveying and sharing deeper ideas, emotion, appreciation, affection, anger and desire as the sense of touch.  A punch in the face leaves no room for interpretation.  Nor does a slow kiss on the lips.  Even a squeeze of the shoulder says more than a page of written words.

Yet touch has developed a bad reputation.  It is inappropriate in certain settings, between certain parties, and in expressing certain emotions.  Used in anger and to convey emotions related to violence it is more often than not illegal.  So powerful, and, by extension, coruptable is this sensory communication that it is often avoided completely.  Especially in the world of men.  Most male friends do not feel comfortable embracing eachother.  Many men cannot show affection or discipline, even appropriately, to their children.  Social acceptance of any casual form of touching has been left firmly in the domain of women.

And so it is the mother of a family that kisses skinned knees, blows noses and wipes away tears.  It is the wife who rubs the knots out of her husband’s neck at the end of a hard day.  It is the sister who hugs the brother in congratulations on his graduation day. The girlfriend takes the eyelash out of his eye.  Women show love, comfort, help and support in this way.  We have not given up on touch.

Unless we are single.  Then the question is, who on earth can we touch?  Who can touch us?  What is proper and what is not?  But the need is there… the need to be hugged, held, comforted, felt.

This is not an invitation to go touching everyone in your life.  Propriety has its place and there are very real dangers.  I do, however, invite girlfriends to support eachother, platonic husbands to show caring.  Hugs are priceless reminders that there is someone out there who values you.  I invite the Single Woman to shower her friends with real embraces, the children in her life with Aunty’s kisses, and the members of her family with a physical, loving presence.

We are still contributing members of the human family with love and touch to give and receive.  Don’t withdraw and shrink back from healthy affection and the power of sharing your love with the people who are blessed with your presence in their lives.

Reach out and touch…

Resolution over…?

 

This happened very quickly didn't it?

The Singlestream has been silent for some time.  There are reasons for this.

THE FIRST is that Bushlings has been consumed with work.  It has invaded my dreams with deductibles and profit shares, has usurped the place of writing in my mornings with blackberry checks and emails, and completely depleted my energy stores. Many a 3 a.m. has found me fully dressed and fast asleep on my sofa where I took a stop to ‘catch my breath’ with Lola curled up next to me and Julius’ hairy tail in my face.  Just begging for a New Year’s Resolution is my work-life balance.

THE SECOND is that I have engaged a life coach.  She is in New York, we meet on skype weekly, and she rocks.  The first task we zoomed in on was my work-life balance in situation number 1 above as part of my general foundation of wellbeing.  But as so much heavy stuff has shifted to the surface and so many deeply personal discoveries have been made, I have struggled to write in my customary flippant voice.  There’s a lot of work to be done on me and my New Year’s Resolution is going to be packed tight with things dug out of this particularly fertile self-excavation.

But THE THIRD and scariest of all is my hair.  It has grown and grown hidden by bunches of tight curls.  The longer it grows the curlier it gets and the curls bounce up at their loosest around my ear lobes.  I don’t know how I got the great idea to take the blowdryer to it.  And the flat iron.  But BAM there it was.  Straight as an arrow and brushing my shoulders!  The time has come and my Resolution is complete. 

What do I do NOW?!

Sounds like another New Year’s Resolution?  We shall see…

Pre-requesites for a husband

Further to my post yesterday, these are the qualifications that the successful (lucky) candidate will possess.

Now, for those of you who KNOW Julius, please allow me the time to clarify that I don’t want a psycho, possessive, cantankerous old fart who follows me everywhere I go, checks my phone and watches me sleep (and shower) with a sharp tendency towards violence.  This song is definitely about Lola.

Blame New Year’s Eve

Fireworks in Hog Sty Bay

I am ready for 2011 to be over.  And it’s just November!  Life is about ebbs and flows, ups and downs, light and dark.  Some years are full of love and laughter and others gloom and tears.  2011 has been one of those valleys, deep and dank, and I’m ready to move on now thank you.

There is a tradition where I’m from that whatever the New Year finds you doing is where you will spend your year.  Devout Christians will, for this reason, spend midnight in church.  Socialites and revellers will spend it in parties.  Families will spend it around the television watching the ball drop in Times Square.  But everyone wants to spend it with the people they love.

The last New Year found me in bed a tearful mess, disappointed and scared.  Rather than force the issue into a positive and make a bad situation worse I had opted to stay at home and let midnight meet me at peace asleep.  I couldn’t sleep and when I did drift off my dreams were tainted by my reality.  Perhaps 2011 was doomed, stained by its first few minutes.

2010 had begun beautifully in Spain with someone special.  My hair was as long as my hopes for the future.  I danced salsa and ate grapes at midnight and rested in confidence that I was exactly where I needed to be.  Until December 31st.

This year must end differently.  It has to.  A repeat of 2011 with its pitfalls and struggles cannot be repeated.  It is so important to me that I have not turned my more-enlightened-than-thou nose in the air and am actually preparing months in advance for it.  I am planning from now for the best New Year’s Eve I have ever had and pray for joy for 2012 when the bell tolls.

How shall I do it?  I am opening the floor for suggestions.

Ten years ago I was 19…

Time is ticking to the 29th anniversary of my arrival, hale, hearty and hungry, into this world.  This is probably bigger for me than my 30th will be because it is the tenth year anniversary of my adulthood.  Ten years ago I started university in a country far away, I started drinking, I fell in love for the first time, and I began to make important life decisions like where I should place my faith and what career I should pursue.

Over the past ten years nothing has gone to plan.  My 19 year-old dreams were so pure, so untainted, and my will to fulfill them as they were was so strong and my wisdom complete.  But I learned that no matter how much I tried, no matter how resolved I might be, no matter how hard I worked, things would never happen the way I expected them to.

A man’s heart plans his way,   
      But the LORD directs his steps. 

Proverbs 16:9

In the last ten years I almost died twice.  My first love and I fell apart, and so did the second love, and the third and so on.  My body lost its lithe athletic look in illness and I have fought daily to get it back.  I have seen loved ones die, have tested my own faith, and have battled bitterness.  In the last year alone there have been many mistakes and much sadness.

I wonder, what would my 19 year-old self think of who I am today?  Would she be disappointed in where I am?  There are things she would be proud of, certainly.  My financial independence, my career changes and successes, my choices in faith.  But would she be proud of my visits to bitterness?  My frequent alcoholic beverage intake?

Over the next little while, as the day approaches, there is a lot of self-examination to be done. What can I do to make that 19 year-old proud of me?  Where have I surpassed her dreams?  Where have I failed her?

I owe it to her to get it right – it is her life too.

Flowers and Food

It is the haven where I sit with my cup of coffee in my pajamas and write for a few hours.  It is my most brilliantly decorated space.  It is where I can feel the breeze filter through screens and dance over petals to bring offerings of fragrance to my nose.  It is my pantry and my showcase where tomatoes, parsley, dendrobium orchids and sun roses overlap like uneven partners prepared for a waltz to begin.  This little piece of Eden is my very own porch garden.

So many things that a woman needs can be found on this eight-by-twelve piece of the world.  Rest, birdsong, breeze, peace, puppies (always at my feet), mint, new blooms, cushions, books, lightning storms, rain, and soon to come, a hammock.  But this morning I will focus only on two essentials.

Every Single Woman Needs FLOWERS.

Snow White

And I don’t mean the hastily selected gas station bouquet held behind his back when he comes on his first date.  I mean her very own blossomer that she teases and talks to and sings to and protects that will once or twice a year reward her with gorgeous flowers round and sweet.  I am an orchid lady.  My girlfriend in college was a daffodil woman.  My aunt in Jamaica dwells amongst her proud ginger lilies and birds of paradise.  My mother has never been able to love one flower over another and has every possible bloom she can get her hands on hanging from and propped against her trees.  Pick your flower or love them all, flowers are a necessity.

Moving from the city to back home was a big change for me.  I found myself in tears at the most unexpected times, I had nightmares and the silence of island life and pressures of work began to drive me crazy.  One afternoon after a particularly bad night of tears and alcohol I woke up to find a white dendrobium balancing on my bedside table.  My mother, helpless but relying on the power of the flower, had gone to town in search of a way to help me see past the clouds.  She selected something of beauty that would change my life.

Another darling to join Snow White

It was my first orchid.  Today she is blooming in bursts of purity right next to me as I write.  She is over two feet tall and makes me very proud.  Several others have joined her but she is very special, my first.  I learned that morning as I fawned over young blooms through tear-tired eyes that I too can blossom out of nothing but air and water.  I made the decision there and then that I would be an orchid lady.

Every Single Woman Needs FOOD

Vegetables.  And fruits.  And roots.  But how about we start with veggies.

Young Herb Garden

Anyone who tries to eat healthy or, more difficult, to become a vegetarian, will tell you that it can be very expensive.  Picture a supermarket cart full of fresh vegetables side by side with one full of processed chips and pastas and rices and butter and all things bad for you.  The veggie cart will always be more expensive.  Worse now that we are in a recession.  If you are in the USA, run the experiment of shopping at the local Whole Foods store and then go do the shopping at Publix and see the difference.  The grocery bill for healthy food will blow your mind.

In comes the garden.  Lacy mint and proud parsley, crawling cucumbers and bright tomatoes.  You decide how much to sow and how much to reap.  You putter over the pots in your slippers with a watering can in one hand and your coffee in the next.  All for the cost of a few seed packs and some soil you can have your own grocery cart full of vegetables.

Mint

In our strained economic times it is very easy to feed off the bottom with places like KFC and Popeyes, Wendy’s and Burger King.  But you are still spending for three meals every day more than a pack of seeds and some soil for food that will not clog your arteries and take years off your life.  Do it right and those seeds will be the gift that keeps on giving.  Many a Single Woman has discovered for herself a green thumb she didn’t know she had until she lost her job or had financial troubles tumble down toward her.

But why wait for disaster?  We have no excuse.  We don’t have a husband or a boyfriend pressuring us to put greasy toe-cheese on the plate every day.  Just like our financial plans need to be independent and geared toward protecting us into the future, so too should our bodies be invested in as the vehicles that take us into tomorrow.  We need to keep our tyres changed and oil checks up to date – we need to eat our vegetables.

I encourage every Single Woman today – if you have a garden outdoors don’t shy away from it.  If you have a patio like mine or a porch, invest in it.  If you only have a window in an urban apartment, open the blinds and let light fall on something that is growing.

As my tomatoes peek out from their little seed pods I can already taste the tang of vitamins as I imagine biting into the first red fruit.  I’m sure in the supermarket they will cost me up to $2 a pack.  But for that amount of money I can have the all year round from my little trees.

One tree's crop for $2