Me as a Bumpkin
I am originally from a very small town in Wisconsin. My boyfriend in college (UW-Madison, a small town by many people’s standards, Madison is a metropolis compared to where I grew up) nick-named me ‘the bumpkin’ and I think it goes without saying, but I did not really appreciate the title. Then, when I was closer to my bumpkin-hood than I was to Buddhist, I was already in denial of my past. Not that anyone probably likes to be called a Bumpkin – “An awkward, simple rustic person” is one definition I found, and this simply isn’t a description that anyone is going to raise their hand, waving wildly “ooh ooh – that’s me – I am a bumpkin!” But to be honest, I can be pretty awkward and the town is definitely, well, rustic. Simple? Not so much, but I have embraced the title now, to embody the rural nature of my hometown and upbringing. Like the gay community eventually owned and re-defined ‘queer’, I now embrace ‘bumpkin’. Having been from such a small town, college, for me, was an absolute explosion of exposure and of finding myself, as it may be for most. A large part of this self I found was my feminist side. I think I always was one, but I just had not realized there was an entire university department devoted to it, which I found in “women’s studies”. These were my fun classes, as I was an accounting major (I was a little off on finding my self in my career choice). Anyway, I have always felt that the self I found was so VASTLY different from the self that had lived in that small town, so it took me a while to concede to my bumpkin roots. Through my journey of life, I continue to find myself, and on my spiritual journey, which includes Buddhism, I continue to try to lose my “self”.
Me as a Buddhist
I am a very spiritual and a very NOT religious person. I grew up Lutheran, and although hold absolutely nothing against the religion or its beliefs, and actually hold very fond memories of our church, I have a simple “no thank you” relationship with Christianity. It simply has never inspired me. And I believe that life is all about being inspired. So from college, when I politely ‘passed’ on Christianity, for approximately 5 – 6 years, I would have to have classified myself as spiritually devoid, though it was not a void I felt needed filling. And then, through another boyfriend, I was introduced to Tibetan Buddhism. Even after being introduced, I resisted it for quite some time. I felt that it was a religion and was not something I needed. And then I had a nervous breakdown (ok, not the technical, land yourself in the hospital variety, but more the, started to see a shrink, I think I am losing it variety), and in one dramatic, defining moment, recognized that in fact, finding inner peace was very much something I wanted. And I became a “Buddhist”. But like any good Buddhist, I hesitate to call myself a Buddhist. It’s too much of a religious concept for a religion that teaches to shed all of our concepts. I also hesitate to call myself Buddhist because I don’t fit what I think a Buddhist should look like. While I intellectually grasp all of the concepts that I create my own suffering, I definitely get caught up in creating more of my own suffering. But as a wife and a mother of 2 (9 months and 3 years old), I don’t see how one avoids suffering completely. I am mostly, much to my chagrin, very human. By making my Buddhist proclamation I fear and suspect that there is some kind of alarm going off in the Dalai Lama’s office somewhere – similar to the bat phone but with the purpose of reporting Buddhists who have no business calling themselves Buddhist. Luckily, from what I’ve seen of the Dalai Lama, he would let out a wonderful little laugh over it all. I also equally and sincerely hope that he is notified, and out of deep compassion he comes to save me, because more than anything, I would like to meet the Dalai Lama, or at least see him in person. Oh yes, I should also mention, for anyone who doesn’t know, to describe oneself as “Buddhist” is as vague as saying one is “Christian”. There are so many different schools and types of Buddhism, that one could spend as much time learning the names and attributes of all of these sects as it would take to sit under a Bodhi tree and actually attain enlightenment. Longer, even. But I believe in some pretty basic Buddhist principles, and also feel that the spiritual journey encompasses much more than one path, and so I just simplify it and call myself Buddhist.
This blog is not so much a Buddhist, or spiritual blog, as much as the title is symbolic of my evolution as a person and as a spiritual being. If you can imagine, being Buddhist is not in the realm of most in a small town in Wisconsin. My writings usually have little to do with Buddhism, or with spirituality directly, but are often framed by my questioning of life’s happenings through this lens. It’s a lens I use to look at life, as a spiritual being, just as I also experience life through a lens as a woman, as a 37 year old, or as a mother and wife. Many of my musings tend to be around motherhood, which I am finding beyond challenging. That may make this a mommy-blog. But who needs another mommy-blog? So I won’t call it that. Perhaps this blog may be best summed up by looking at two quotes that I like:
“We are not human beings on a spiritual journey, but spiritual beings on a human journey”
“Blessed are those who can laugh at themselves, for they shall never cease to be amused”
(both authors of these quotes unknown)
I am a bumpkin. I am a Buddhist. I am a mother. I am a wife. I am all and none of these things. This blog is about my human journey, specifically as a woman human. I invite you to come along with me – laughing, living and loving.
Cast of Characters
Me – laid back, probably type B personality, but with some serious type-A undertones. I love to exercise (annoying), I love clothes (superficial) and I hate roaches (doesn’t everyone?) I way over-use parentheses in my writing, but it is because I have so much going on my head at one given time. At the time of launch, I am seriously sleep-deprived, not having had more than 4 hours of sleep in a row for 9 months now. For this reason, I think this might be the worst time to launch a blog, but crazy ideas strike when one is this tired.
Hubbie – Totally type-A. We’ve been married for 4 years but were very good friends for years prior (yes, like Harry and Sally – one of my favorite movies of all time). He’s a playful-serious type. Crazy smart. And German. Though he does not have an accent because he moved here as a child, it is a big part of who he is. I can’t think of anyone, other than Ellen Degeneres, whom I don’t actually KNOW, that I admire more. He is very athletic, so combined with his type-A personality, he does crazy climb-up-mountains-then –ski- down- them types of things – the slopes that ‘regular’ people wouldn’t dream of hiking up or skiing down, let alone doing both on the same day. He is automatically good at everything and is not a “beginner” at anything, even if he is doing it for the first time. The only thing I can beat him at is bowling. While I am not sure I should be proud of this, I am, because it is the only thing I can beat him at.
Child 1 (male) – my 3 year old. A sweet, sweet soul. Hilarious. Smart. It breaks my heart to see how hard he tries to please me – his crazy, sleep-deprived mother. He believes fully, despite being told the contrary, that my happiness is directly dependent upon his peeing on the potty or not.
Child 2 (female) – my baby (9 months old at time of launch). Emerging personality is happy and calm, but extremely demanding. She has been a pretty challenging baby. She’s the reason I still have not had good sleep in 9 months and I am pretty sure she is going to see to it that I never have good sleep for the rest of my life. I forgot to check the ‘sleeps and eats well’ box on the order form for this particular child. But you’ve never seen anyone light up a room with a smile like this one.