Friday, April 3, 2015


Before Forest came along....
In recent weeks, there has been some disagreement and discord within my family--specifically amongst us siblings. I don't care to hang out the dirty laundry in detail, so to speak, but I'll simply say that while there is distance and estrangement between some of us (though NOT all of us), there is no doubt that we love and care about one another. The hurt feelings and misunderstandings will simply have to work themselves out in their own time. 

As I've been sorting through the communications amongst us, the word "judgement" has been used and repeated. I know too, from working with teens these past 10 years, that "judgement" is something they are keenly aware of, and in tune with. During my recent runs or walks around the neighborhood, I've been ruminating on this concept. A quick visit to Merriam Webster tells us that judgement means the following:

  • an opinion or decision that is based on careful thought;
  • the act or process of forming an opinion or making a decision after careful thought; the act of judging something or someone;
  • the ability to make good decisions about what should be done.
We each make judgements all day, every day. From simple routine things such as when to change lanes on the highway, which store to shop, and when to go to sleep at night. To the large choices in life such as what career to pursue, where to live, what kind of vehicle to drive, and whom to date or marry. 

So using judgement, and developing our abilities or skills of judgement, are important to navigation through this modern world. We shouldn't feel bad about using judgement. It is what accompanies the responsibility of Free Will. While there are plenty of people in the world that make haphazard decisions and then wonder how they ended up where they did, I'd prefer to not be one of them. I like to weigh my options, consider the probable outcomes as well as the obstacles and challenges, and then come up with a roadmap to move forward. Most people around me do the same thing. 

Four siblings with Jimmy Carter, mid 80s

And so I come back to judgement and how it's being used in recent tensions between siblings, and I can also reflect on past tensions amongst different combinations of us (there are 4 of us--three girls and a boy). 

We use the word judgement, but I don't think it's the heart of the issue. You see....I'm not making a decision about my brother or sister's life....they make and own their own judgements, aka decisions and opinions, in life. And it's true about my life. I've made significant decisions in the past eight months, and to some, I'm sure they don't seem or appear to be carefully thought out. But that doesn't change the bottom line--they are my decisions to make and my decisions to live with. I own them, for better or worse. I don't need my sister, or brother, or even mother/father or friends to give me approval. 

And therein lies the crux of the judgement conundrum. I think it is ultimately one of two things going on: (1) we feel "judged" because there is something in another person and their response to our decisions that makes us second guess or doubt ourselves, or (2) there is a chasm between the two people that makes it impossible for person B to understand or relate to person A. It is simply a division in understanding. Sometimes this second point can be worked out through conversation or sharing, but other times, it can't be resolved. Maybe time or life events will create experiences for one or the other, or both, to bridge or fill in the chasm. (I'm thankful to say that has happened between me and one of my sisters over these past same eight months.)

I don't have a tidy thought upon which to end this post. 

I'm not okay with where things sit at the moment. (And I'm leaving in 89 days. For Asia.)

But I also know that I can't pretend that everything's okay, nor can I force the understanding. 

And so I live with the truth that for now there is unease and disconnection amongst some of us. 

My love remains constant. It is unconditional. 


  1. a photo with Jimmy Carter and NO EXPLANATION of it? :-)

    1. Hello Cheryl. I used the picture because all of my siblings are in it together; Jimmy Carter came to hunt with my father (via a mutual friend) on the Pigeon River Country State Forest in Michigan in the mid 1980s. We got to meet and have lunch with him (as I recall). He wrote about this hunting event in his book titled, An Outdoor Journal. :)