Tag Archive 'family reunion'

Dec 19 2009

Mirror-cle at the Button Factory – Issue #36

I imagine that many of you will be going home to spend time with your family during the holidays. For some of you that will be bliss, for others, not so much. My father died when I was 17 and my mother passed away a few years ago, but every year prior to that my sister and I and her children would go back to our childhood home in Mystic, Conn. and stay with my mother and brother for a week. I thought of it as going back to the button factory because that’s where all the buttons were installed.

It was my yearly exam where I’d get to put to use all my latest self-help tools. Ram Dass has said that if you think you’re enlightened, just go spend a week with your parents. Nevertheless, I’d always have high hopes and would be well-armed with my latest personal growth books, my meditation tapes, and an “I can do this” attitude. Things would go really well…for the first hour or two, sometimes even a day or two. But then sure enough my mom would criticize or hover and my buttons would be activated, and I’d be lost in the button factory.

One time during one of these visits I awoke in the middle of the night feeling distressed and I had an epiphany. I imagined my family asleep in their rooms and in the quiet space of the night I saw my mother’s critical nature that I judged, and I realized that I have a critical nature. I thought about my brother and how easily offended he was and thought, oh, I am easily offended. I took a good look at my sister’s people pleaser and realized, I’m a people pleaser at times. Everything I judged in them was in me. I had been judging in them what I hadn’t wanted to face in myself. It wasn’t just an intellectual awareness of it, it was a full body, full spirit experience of our interconnectedness. Instead of seeing me versus them, I was seeing me as them, and them as me. I experienced that we were part of the same whole, that we were one. I had to smile to myself when I really got that they were my mirrors. It was a mirror-cle moment.

I realized that the real test isn’t about seeing how long I can go without my buttons being pushed — the real test is being able to face and embrace all of my disowned, projected selves. It’s not about becoming perfect, it’s about becoming whole by loving and accepting all the many me’s that life is reflecting back to me, the meany me’s, the moody me’s, the messy me’s, and even the mighty me’s.

Sometimes in the early morning I’ll look over at my sleeping husband Tom and I’ll think to myself, “Wow, if everyone in my life is my mirror, then Tom is my mirror and I think Tom is wonderful, I think Tom is a beautiful soul. I see the beautiful soul in my family members as well. Since they are my mirrors, I must be a beautiful soul too. To be able to face and embrace THAT is truly the biggest mirror-cle of all.

Do you have beautiful souls in your life? That’s because you are one! Mirrors mirrors all around, reflections of your Self abound!

In Love,

Jan Jacobsen




I’m visiting my family, the button factory it’s called

because that’s where all of my buttons were installed.

My Mom’s buttin’ in and I feel appalled.

I’m buttoning my lip and try to hide that I’m galled.


My brother is so sensitive, so easily offended.

I tiptoe through the minefield, afraid I’ll be upended.

My sister is obsequious, and smiles through gritted teeth,

Hiding all her real feelings that lie underneath.


I’m trying to avoid my buttons being pushed.

I’m wrestling with my feelings and I am bushed.

I’m barely succeeding in holding my tongue,

when snap! I finally lose it and come all undone!


That shakes me awake and I begin to see

that everything I judge in them is also in me!

The button factory is like a house of mirrors

reflecting back to me all my disowned terrors.


As I face and embrace each rejected part

I experience my family with more love and heart.

I can see that we are parts of the same whole.

I can feel that we’re connected, that we are one soul.


Now the years have passed, and so has my mom

I miss the button factory, my childhood home.

But the buttons are still in me, letting me know

I need to love all parts of me, and let my judgments go.







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Jun 24 2009

Mirror-cle at the Grand Canyon – Issue #17

Tom and I spent last weekend at a family reunion with my mother’s side of the family at the Grand Canyon. There were 31 of us, many I had never met before, converging from all parts of the world. We traveled together in our own private rail car on a 2-hour train ride from Williams, Arizona to the Grand Canyon. At first I felt nervous and shy and apart from everyone. Eventually as I looked at them and saw familiar features, the same mouths, similar eyes looking back at me, I remembered that we are all a part of each other, and I began to relax and enjoy the journey.

My mother died 3 years ago but I could imagine her traveling with us, reveling in this family gathering. I was also aware of her within me when a singing cowboy moseyed onto our train car, and I began to sing along with him. When I was a child, my mother would do something like that, and I’d be so embarrassed. I also experienced my mother in me when some personas that we had in common, Miss Bossy Pants and Nervous Nell, showed up the day before on the 9-hour car drive with Tom to Arizona – and The Incredible Sulk was about to make an appearance later in the day. On my refrigerator I have a magnet with a picture of a woman from the 1950’s and she’s wearing a little kerchief, a pretty pink sweater, and red lipstick and the caption reads, “Despite years of personal development, she still turned into her mother.”

Yup, it’s true. What I’ve discovered is that everything I ever judged about my mother and everyone else in my family (and in my life) is in me. That’s the interesting thing about self-awareness; it’s like turning on a light in the attic and seeing all the cobwebs and creepy crawlies very clearly and seeing that they are mine. Everything I’ve been judging and projecting onto others is in me. Life is a mirror -  becoming aware of that is what I call a mirror-cle.

Despite my many years of personal growth, I still get stuck – I get carried away on a run-away train of thought, hijacked by my defensive reactions. The big difference now is that mindfulness, my compassionate witness, observes it all and sees how my stuckness originates within me. Standing above the Grand Canyon and observing the twists and turns below, is similar to mindfulness, observing the twists and turns of thoughts and feelings within. It’s pretty much a given that defenses will be activated occasionally, especially in times of stress.

When we arrived at the Grand Canyon I asked Tom to hold my purse, with my jacket draped over it, while I was getting my picture taken with my cousins. My sister Carol saw this and thought, “Isn’t that nice. He’s holding her purse and jacket for her.” Tom has what he calls a Mr. Wonderful persona. When I went to get my purse back from him, my jacket was gone. “Where’s my jacket?” I asked him. “What jacket?” he asked, oblivious to it’s having been draped over the purse. He had lost my jacket! Tom also has a self-acknowledged Mr. Blunderful persona, who, to his dismay, often follows close on the heels of Mr. Wonderful.

I could feel my adrenaline hornets start to swarm as I descended into an emotional ravine, and began turning into the Incredible Sulk. “He lost my favorite jacket!” As I stood at the edge of the Grand Canyon, looking out over the panoramic view, I could clearly see the overview of my inner descent. My internal witness took it all in – the buzzing adrenaline hornets, the huffy wet hen thoughts, the Incredible Sulk, the powerful pull of this physical/emotional hijacking; and in that moment I felt compassion and understanding for myself, for my mother, for all of us who get stuck in our defensive reactions. Like gravity, they are an extremely compelling force. From atop the Grand Canyon I viewed this all unfolding within me…then I took a deep breath, smiled, and took Tom’s hand as we walked along the edge of this vast overview, consciously making the choice to shift from my snitness to my witness. Now that’s a miracle! (p.s. The jacket eventually was found!)

When I feel apart from others, I am learning to remember that I am a part of them and they are a part of me – we are all connected, we are all on a journey together, at a family re-union, here to witness the grand overview, seeing how it all fits together, seeing how we all fit together, and discovering that life is one big mirror-cle.

I’ve written a poem about this:


What I think are enemies

are really just the many me’s

projected out identities

for me to see and love.

Some will shout obscenities,

some without amenities,

all seem to be them, not me,

yet all are mine to love.

Mirrors, mirrors all around, 

reflections of myself abound.

What most wants to be loved is found

in what I judge in you.

Loving is the alchemy

that transforms you and me to we,

the mirror-cle that helps me see,

that we are really One.

What is your life reflecting back to you? What is showing up to be faced and embraced? Are you ready for a mirror-cle? 

 In Love,

Jan Jacobsen

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