Tuesday, December 31, 2013

End of the Year

And so the year comes to an end and what have we done? Another year over and a new one just begun (borrowing from John Lennon).

When I look over the newsfeed on Facebook today I see a lot of well-wishing and comments about looking forward to the new year. That makes me happy that people are taking the time for it. At the same time, I fervently hope that it continues through the upcoming year.

Today marks another important day for my daughter. She is now 17 years old and is well on her way to becoming a wonderful young adult. Through the years I would joke about how many of the silver hairs that sprang up here and there on my head were caused by her shenanigans. She really made my heart skip a few beats on many occasions. And through it all she made my heart fill with joy.

Anyone who knows me already knows how I feel about my kids. Truly, they are a blessing to me. I only hope that they have known that, even through the trials and troubles.

Brianna

Thursday, November 07, 2013

Recovery

The last week & a half have been a lot of lessons in patience, caring for myself, and taking things slow. Monday, October 28th, I went to the ER since I woke with a definite crackling in my lungs (after a night of coughing hard enough to keep Brianna awake). Sure enough, bacterial pneumonia. I was put onto antibiotics and an inhaler and was told to rest for several days. I was amazed at how very tired I was! With the combination of the shallow breathing and the mitral regurgitation (very mild), my oxygen levels were pretty low. Which explains why I'd get winded walking to the kitchen and back.

Today I took a very deep breath and only felt a twinge of pain and a small cough. I also dyed yarn yesterday, didn't take a nap, and walked to April's house without keeling over. (haha) So, even though I'm still not 100%, I am definitely recovering.

I have so many things I want to write about, but even though I'm still in the recovery mode, I don't really have the time to sit here for very long. I do hope you are all having a great day, though!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Choosing...

(First: I did not stack these stones, but they were there in the small stream and are special.)

Long ago, stones were stacked for a reason. Sometimes as a trail marker, sometimes as a remembrance, and sometimes as a sacred thing. There are probably hundreds of theories and ideas about them, but I will go with what my inner voice tells me.

I got to go on an afternoon hike on Saturday with April & Kam. We went to the Blue Ridge Parkway and parked just before a tunnel and hiked what felt like an endless flight of stairs. By the time we got about a third of the way up I was pretty winded. Being sick and sedentary was a huge contributor to that, but so was the fact that it was a steep climb. Along the way I saw some beautiful mushrooms, flowers, and ferns. It wasn't until we were coming back down that Kam pointed out the stacked stones.

When I think about stones that have been placed so carefully, I wonder at the person who did it. And I wonder at their thoughts as they chose the stones and the location. This time... I thought of myself.

I am not where I thought I'd be at this point, but I think that's normal for most people. As I think about the things that have happened in the last five years, ten years, and fifteen years, I can see that there are great strides forward and a few steps back. I can see that I have stumbled and fallen flat and, most importantly, where I have gotten back up and took another step. There are dreams that I have laid aside and others that have filled me with hope. And now, even though I don't know where my next step is going to be, nor am I sure of how to take it, I do know that I am strong enough to keep going, to keep getting back up, and to keep growing.

And so, I choose to keep moving forward. Through the fear and pain, through the doubts and sorrows. I choose to keep growing, with all the starts and stops and stumbles and falls. I choose to Live the best that I can.

May you all have a blessed day.
Namasté.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Remembrance...

This isn't a post about what happened to our nation 12 years ago. I know that a lot of folks are blogging and writing and remembering. I am, too, but differently this time.

Twelve years ago... It seems as if it was only yesterday. It was, if you think about it. So much is still the same as it was back then. People will wage battles from misunderstandings. They will come running to help at the drop of a hat. Children will learn to hate and will learn to love. I am still trying to find my way in my own life. Still trying to keep that spark of hope glowing bright. Still trying to hold onto a dream that means nothing to anyone but me.

Twelve years ago....It seems as if an entire lifetime has passed. Again, it has, when you think of it. My son is no longer a child, my daughter is nearly ready to step out on her own. I nearly gave up my own life twice for the pain I was going through. I lost an entire year to clinical depression (oddly enough, neither plan of suicide happened during this time). I started a business, then another one. I shut down one business and joined in with one more. I lost part of my soul when I tried to make someone's life better and still haven't gotten it back and realized that I might never regain that part of me. I gave up dreams and hopes in order to keep putting one foot in front of the other while I struggled to pay the bills and find balance between children and business and lover and Life and Spirit. I got tattoos, planned tattoos, and threw away the tattoo drawings. I experienced things I'd never experienced before and they left me bruised and hollow and exhilarated and hopeful. Some of those emotions were from the same experience! I learned to look at myself as a potential runner. I learned that even those who love you will pound you into the dirt until you are nothing more than a bloody pulp and still never see the pain you are in. And that family will stand beside you even when they don't understand and have no clue what you are doing with your life. I learned that dreams don't mean anything unless you put the work into them. And that, if you are working the wrong dream, it will fall apart no matter how much effort you put into it. And through it all, I held onto some part of me that was stronger than I thought possible.

I have been near tears most of this day. Some of it for the people who lost their lives twelve years ago. Some for the people who lost their loved ones. Some for myself, and the way that life looks dreary sometimes. Some for the children who are getting this messed up world with no skills on how to repair it. And some for the lost hopes and dreams that are now just ashes.

I'm struggling to end this on a bright note. I want to share peace and positive energy with the world. At this moment it is hard to find.

-

I walked away from this for a time. I'm still feeling very hollow and empty, and maybe that's just what I'm supposed to feel. Don't get me wrong! I am happy for the new opportunities in my life, the new club members, the mountains around me, and the friends who would hug me if they were nearby. But I grieve, too, for all the losses and the sorrows. I grieve for the life not lived.

Be well. Look into your loved ones' eyes and let them see the Light and Love you have for them. Call your parents and tell them that they are in your hearts. Send out prayers for those who have hurt you. And when you wake in the morning, say a prayer for all those who have made you smile.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Time...

It's been over four weeks since I arrived in Asheville and things have settled in a bit. Brianna & I both caught the typical back-to-school, living-in-a-new-place bug . Brianna is pretty much over it and I've been resting lately to keep the coughing to a minimum and I'm pretty sure it will be gone soon.

There have been a lot of wonderful things that have happened since we got here. Sightings of bears in the back yard, delightful butterflies that frequently visit the flowers along the driveway, gentle rain, running before the world woke up, and so much more.

There are changes that have been happening around the house and it just seemed natural to make them when we moved in. Eating better, cleaning more, journaling quietly, meditating regularly, and many other wonderful things that I knew that I needed to stay on top of, but hadn't for several years.I feel that I've been given a clean slate to be who I want to be.

As the day begins, I look forward to the work I have to do and the Light I can help fill the world with.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Moved, not yet settled

What a week! We arrived in Asheville late Sunday night and were welcomed by Kam & April. After unloading the cats and setting up their litter box & water, we pretty much went to sleep. The next morning we got to work on unloading everything. It was a lot faster than I'd first thought it would be which is great. Of course, the unpacking of it all has been taking a while. As of yesterday, the house is mostly put together. As soon as I can get a few more things situated I will get pictures for everyone.

Brianna already set up her room the way she wanted it and seems content with the way it looks. She's also pretty happy that she won't have to wear a uniform for school. I'm pretty happy about that aspect, too, especially with all the cool clothes she came back from Texas with.

The cats are spending a lot of their days exploring and trying to test their boundaries again. Now that I have a window by the kitchen sink they seem to think that counters are their territory and seem so surprised when I yell at them and add drops of rosemary or grapefruit essential oils to the surface. They still run and hide when we come through the front door, but I am sure that will fade over time.

As for me, I'm still in the mode of getting things settled. The shop is ready for business even though I'm still not sure how I'll have everything set up. The kitchen is the easy part and I love having the dyes and other supplies so handy. The finished yarns are in the closet in my room... there is a wonderfully built organizer in there with drawers and such. The printer and mailing supplies are ready for use (and are pretty easily accessible). My concern right now is the winder and swift. I think I know how I'll have everything, but need to finish clearing a few things first (folks came by this morning to pick some of them up and I'm hoping the bike will go soon).

I'm also going to be training with April to become a TLS Coach! I love knowing that I will be helping other people learn how to increase their health and feel better. I think it ties in quite nicely into my other healing paths.

There are so many wonderful things around me down here. The beauty of the mountains, the energy of the place, and so much more. I'm holding onto all the positive things right now. Yes, there is a great sadness for the temporary heartache, but the hope is that it won't last long.

In the meantime, I have normal things to do like eat breakfast and buy cat litter. I do hope to get more pictures soon!

May you all have a blessed day.

Saturday, August 03, 2013

New Horizon

Sunlight through the branchesWhat a whirlwind of emotions this summer has been! Between the Tour de Sock craziness, normal teen stuff, business, and so much more, I'm not even sure if I'm coming or going. And, after hearing from so many other friends, it seems that this craziness is widespread. Hopefully things will settle for many of us and we will find our direction.

I do know which direction I'm about to be heading and it thrills me and scares me all at the same time. South, to the mountains that have held my heart for so very long. Toward new opportunities for business. Toward a place of healing and inspiration. Toward my dreams.

There will be bumps in the road. There will be moments when my heart clutches my lungs and won't let me breathe. But I will face them all and get through them because I know that there are people relying on me. There are people who are being as supportive as possible and are loving me through this.

I think about the trailblazers so many years ago with their wagons filled with all the belongings and supplies they could pack, dragging a few extra oxen. Hopeful for the future, afraid of things they hadn't planned for. Knowing that the letters they would write might not make it to their families for several months and that replies might take even longer. They pulled out of the towns they had grown up in, but now felt a need for something different. They left behind loved ones and stability. And they forged a path for so many to follow.

My wagon is a U-Haul truck and I'm only dragging behind me a Jeep, but I'll have all the things I will need for the bright star of my dreams. I am leaving behind a few friends and some folks who have become family. I won't write of the person who causes the biggest hole because that will make it seem too real and permanent. But I'll be leaving the proverbial light on until he can make his way to my side again.

I will step out of this place so that I can feel the sunshine on my face and hear the whispers of the mountains around me.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Still healing...

Before you read this, understand that this was written with all the anguish that some of my dreams can bring to me. When I woke in the dark hours of the morning and the dream was still fresh, my tears flowed and I knew that I'd not healed as much as I thought. Some of the words that had been spoken to me in anger still echoed in my head and brought back all the hurt that they'd cause when they were first flung at me. And, the pain from similar words that were written to me decades later.

I don't know exactly what "triggers" are, but this touches on suicide. If that will hurt your heart, please don't read any further. Also, if you do read it, read all the way to the end. There is Light.

-

At the beginning there was laughter, adventure, and so much love. So many new things to discover about the world and how we fit into it. You smiled at my awkwardness and held me when I cried. Your touch reminded me that I had someone beside me to help if I fell, but also nudged me to run on my own. We talked and enjoyed songs together sometimes late into the night. You introduced me to new ways of seeing the wonder of the universe and I knew that the love would always be there. That you would always be there. And I dreamed of the future.

In less than a decade things changed. The time we spent together was shorter and became strained. I began to change my Self in order to bring a smile to your face. I tried to ride out the dark moods you displayed and I struggled to understand. I worried and fretted that I was doing something wrong and that your coldness was a punishment or a way to get back at me. You pushed me away while holding onto another. You said that I wasn't enough and hinted that the other one made you happier. The tears I once shared with you, I now began to hide. The Light shining from my eyes dimmed without your noticing and I started to cover up the pain that your words and distance caused. Dreams invaded my sleep, dreams of losing you. I longed for the times when we first began. Those times that now seemed like nothing more than a whisper.

Occasionally you would seem your old self. There were brief moments of love and laughter. Times when I thought everything would be alright again. Times when I thought I could dream about the future again. But then the bitterness and anger would flare up and the accusing words would pelt me anew. You would poke at my scars until they were open wounds once again. You would point out how it was my fault. and not yours, that I was hurting so much. You would push me even further way and cut me down lower than I was before. You would shut me out, sometimes literally, then derisively tell me that I should have known better than to think I was supposed to be there in the first place.

Then there would be sunshine again and I would try to hold onto the hope that things would be alright. But I was afraid now. Afraid of the possible storm that would rise out of nowhere, the storm that destroyed the tender threads of hope. You once told me that if I walked out the door it would be like I never existed. Those words kept me in your life for years, because I was afraid that I'd lose what little light I had if I walked away. I was afraid that I wasn't strong enough to stand all by myself. My life was tinged with fear. Everything I did or said or thought or wished for, was all tinged with the feeling that everything was going to end in a black pit of emptiness.

On the morning that I sat on the edge of the bathtub filled with warm water, knowing that no one would be home for many hours, knowing that you'd be happier without me, knowing that I was nothing in this world, I cried. Only it wasn't crying, it was so much stronger than that. It was the deepest grief of knowing that I was about to cut off all chance of a future. I was about to eliminate all hope that things could be better. I think I cried for nearly an hour, blade in hand, water growing cold. Afterward I think I slept for a little bit for the sun was in a different position.

I felt hollow and empty and scoured of everything. But I stood up, drained the water, and cleaned up the room, leaving no trace that I'd been in there for so long. I washed my face and found my keys and walked out the front door so that I could breathe some fresh air.

I never took a bath in that tub again.

But I learned something that day. I did, in fact, have the strength to stand alone. I knew that I didn't deserve the pain you were putting me through. I started to think that it wasn't actually me who was to blame. Perhaps there was something unbalanced in you. I felt guilty for that. Guilty because you shouldn't think that about someone you love. I was so naive.

I made plans to leave. I was so afraid and so sure that I'd fail, but I knew that I couldn't stay. I knew that my Soul would die and I'd be nothing.

-

2017-06-28 - Years have gone by and I still hesitate to mention that this event was actually a mirror of what had happened when I was a teen. This one, the one I poured my heart out from, happened in a mobile home in Bellevue. I look back now and remember the pain that I was in at the time and I wonder why I felt so strongly. This was a really shitty time in my life and I made some horrid decisions based on "keeping" someone in my life. I know we aren't supposed to regret the choices in our lives, but I regret sending my kids to Texas, I regret moving to Asheville the way that I did, and I deeply regret trusting someone who had been playing me for a fool for so long. Now, I have a completely different life and I don't regret the choice of walking away from that mess. I'm only sorry for the hurt that I contributed to my children.

-

Now, I sit in my own house, alone but not, and I miss the times that were shared. I miss the times in the kitchen and in the garden and sitting in the living room, each of us doing our own thing, but together. I miss knowing that someone would always be there for me.

My mother had grown bitter and hateful in the later years of my childhood. I know that it wasn't me. I know that she only treated me the way she did because she was hurting about her own life. The shackles put on her, the ones she accepted so that her children could have some stability.

At this point, there is no hope for reconciliation, no hope for working it out. My mother died when I was twenty-three. Through the years that followed her death I held a lot of resentment toward her. How dare she die before we could make things right? How dare she leave me in this world alone? I thought that I had gotten past most of the crap and that I had forgiven her for that. And for the hurt-filled years. I know that most of the stories I share about her now are the good ones. But, now I wonder how much more I need to grow before this truly is behind me.


Even so, I know that I'm strong enough to face anything that crosses my path. I know that sometimes it takes more strength to stick around than it does to walk away. I know that there are blessings in each moment and each breath I take. In all the years between that morning in the bathroom and today, there has been only one time that I wish I'd finished the job. Each and every day other than that one, I have been really glad that I'm alive.

Because of this, I will keep doing my best to live my life to the fullest of my abilities.
Namasté.
Ant

Sunday, June 09, 2013

Quiet and Peace

CloudsThere are moments in my life when I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that I am blessed. These past several days were filled with those moments. Tonight I sit here - chai gently steaming in my mug, music softly playing, and the cats all dozing in various positions scattered around my room - and I am filled with a sense of contentment.

I was able to avoid most of the noise of the Ohio Bike Week events (thank you so much!) and was able to spend some peaceful evenings knitting quietly, sleeping soundly, and generally relaxing. I finished a pair of sock in record time (for me). I watched rabbits nibbling grass and playing some crazy game of bunny-tag and even got to see a young quail wandering around the yard. I listened to birds singing out their morning tunes when the sky was barely showing a hint of light. I luxuriated in the feel of sunshine on my skin while drinking my coffee and knitting. I fell asleep with the echoes of laughter in my dreams and the tendrils of serenity in my heart.

There were days filled with color-splashing and music while I prepared for a shop update. Frenetic knitting and sharing progress pictures with the fantastic group I am part of (Tour-de-Sock) filled my downtime while working. Conversations with my kids and scritches for the cats filled in every other "free" moment.

Through all of this time there were also moments of sorrow for the passing of the time (those good moments really do pass too swiftly), contemplation for the direction I want to face (positive steps toward the future), and moments filled with Light and Spirit.

To the ones who contributed to those moments: Thank you, with all of my heart.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Dreams and thoughts

WritingLast night I had the strangest dream...

No, there weren't people laying down their weapons and putting an end to war (for those who don't get it, it's a reference to a song my mother used to sing). Instead I dreamed that I had been in a car accident. When the doctor asked me what the last thing I remembered was, I told him that I had been crying while driving to my first day at work. I was crying because I'd left Brianna with a babysitter for the first time and it was tearing me apart. That was a very long time ago. In this dream I had lost more than thirteen years worth of memories and was a stranger to myself. My cat was gone and there were three others in this house that everyone told me was my home. I was eighty pounds lighter and had muscle definition. My children were no longer three and eight years old, instead they were sixteen and twenty-one. I had tattoos where there was once undecorated skin. I had a boyfriend who had a huge family and I knew none of them. Nothing in the house looked familiar to me. None of the people in my life looked familiar to me. Some things that people were telling me were so unfathomable that I felt like screaming and locking myself in a closet somewhere.

When I woke, my heart was racing and I could barely catch my breath. I was terrified. It took a while before everything started to sink in and I was able to look around the house with some confidence that I did indeed live there and that I remembered how the cats came to live with us and the various movies and books that I'd shared with my kids. It took a little bit longer for me to realize which state I lived in. That one was really weird.

As I went about the day, my mind returned to that dream and I thought about the changes in all that time. Simple things like text messaging and Facebook. More complex things like my business and my relationships with people. Huge historical events like the Twin Towers attack, weather events like the tsunami in the Indian Ocean, and personal events like the loss of my grandparents and my Dad's entry back into my life. There would be so much to relearn and try to figure out. It truly makes my head spin with the enormity of it. And made me feel very alone. At this point in my life there are only two people who have been in my life for longer than this dream entailed and they are my children. That's not entirely comfortable.

But it also made me realize that I am so very grateful for the memories I have. And it's brought a new awareness to other aspects of my life. The friendships I have now are very important to me. My business (which is now officially a LLC) is something I treasure. The life I'm building... it's nowhere near where I'd like it to be, but I know which direction I want to take it. I will keep holding to those things.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Forward or backward?

I looked around my room last night and realized that the corner was once again cluttered with miscellaneous stuff. All of that stuff has its own place, I just happened to have dropped it all there (bits at a time) and didn't get back to it. It looks messy and is messing with the energy of the whole room. I think there are many areas in my life that are like that. It's not that I don't care about that corner, or even that I want it to be messy, but I get busy with other things and the corner falls to the back of my mind.

This morning I set a timer and got to work. The reason for the timer was so that I would actually stop since I had other things that needed to be done (like the dishes). Now it's much better and more organized. And we have a family bookshelf again, too.

The day has been long. I think it's partly because of so many things going through my head. That seems to be a trend lately, doesn't it?

I think about the people in this world. The suffering, the sorrow. I think about the joys and the triumphs. There is no end to the amazing creatures called "human".

And, as selfish as this sounds, I think about myself. I strive so hard to be understood. I apologize when I realize my mistakes (not always when they are pointed out to me, but when my heart realizes the truth). I make more mistakes now than I think I did when I was younger. Either that or I'm more aware of them. I feel more pain than I did when I was younger, more uncertainty, more confusion. Ideals that I held once so carefully now seem nothing more than a child's wish. My poetry is sparse and fleeting (I don't even have any of the new stuff since I failed to write it, only send it out in texts), my words feel as if they are drying up. Things that I once thought of as special about Me now seem the very things that cause the most issues.

I wonder if this is part of "growing up" or if it's something else. If this is growing up then I'm to just accept the way things are. If it's something else I need to figure it out and get rid of it.

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Overgrown...

If you follow this blog you may have wondered if I fell of the planet or something. No... I've just had a lot of thoughts going through my mind and very few of them were shareable. None of those things are resolved or dealt with or anything like that... but I started to feel as if those things have begun taking over my life, crowding out the good stuff, choking off the sunshine.

But I'll push myself up through the dirt and shake my petals free...

That's from a song by Dar Williams. One that I can barely remember how to play on the guitar. But I love it anyway and it always makes me feel a little better. So, onward and upward, right?

Kevin and I built a raised bed garden. It's a rather late start, but there wasn't any real way to avoid that. There were family things going on, rainy weather on the weekends (the only time we could work on it), and other things. Last weekend we were able to finish the fence and get the seeds in the ground. I'm a little worried about the tomatoes, but if they don't grow then we'll figure out something else. Gardening... I have missed that so very much! To touch the soil, to know that the seeds will soon become plants that will feed you and nourish your body, to know that you played a part in that. I am really looking forward to the first taste of fresh veggies.

I've also been absent from my cardio workouts, but not the strength-training. That, too has come to an end. The absence, not the workouts. My calves have felt on fire for the last two days, but that's completely acceptable and I'm viewing it as the phoenix rising from the ashes (nail in the foot, sunburn, and some weird cold). Now I'm ready to rise up stronger.

There are other things that I want to spill out through this keyboard. Pieces of my heart, thoughts that keep me awake, dreams that feel like ashes. But I know that won't bring more light into this world, so I will leave them unsaid and unwritten. Instead, I will continue doing my best to smile and help hold the world in love.

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Four Little Letters

MossIt's interesting when you come across something that really clicks in your head. All of a sudden it opens up doors to a broader way of thinking, settles something inside your soul, and brings a sense of understanding to your world. That happened to me in 1998, when I started learning about various religions. I won't go into a lot of the detail on here, but it's enough to say that I feel like I found my Path.

Another outlook that opened (I think around seven or eight years ago) was learning about personality tests. No, not "which Harry Potter character are you" kind of tests, but the real things like Myers Briggs or Jung . Now, I have never taken the ones that require payment and I know that those are supposed to be more accurate. However, with each of the serious ones I've taken, I always seem to get the same answer regardless of which website it's on. Even the ones that I took several years ago.

I was clearing out some boxes in an attempt to get the house cleared of clutter and I came across some old notes. One had my 'score' on it with the letters INFJ and a couple percentages after that. Interestingly enough, this morning, one of my friends posted a link about the Top 10 Things Every INFJ Wants You to Know. Funny thing, timing. Especially when it involves someone in a completely different state. I looked over the article and caught myself nodding at many of the points. Then I decided to take the test again and see what had changed. Surprisingly, not a lot. My percentages are a little higher now (I=89% instead of 73%, N=38% instead of 37%, F=62% instead of 40%, and J=44% instead of 38%).

What does it all mean? Not much, in the grand scheme of things. But, it might help explain why I felt so drained after attending a conference a few weeks ago. It might also help explain why I really do prefer some things in my Life than others.

Of course, there are some who might say that all of this means nothing at all.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

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Friday, March 15, 2013

Reprogramming

I'm going to ramble for a moment. I shared a picture earlier today with a message about letting go of what you were brought up to believe.



And I thought about while I was on the treadmill. A meditation, if you will.

I was brought up to believe that having a lot of money was a bad thing. But without having more than enough money to cover our living expenses how can we donate to the charities we care about? I was also brought up to believe that being outspoken was impolite and unladylike. But if we don't speak up for our needs and the needs of those who cannot speak for themselves, how will we ever make changes? I was brought up to believe that only certain people deserve to be forgiven when they do wrong (and it wasn't me who was chosen). But, isn't it better to give everyone another chance? I don't mean over and over and they keep doing the same thing, I mean when they are genuinely contrite.

And, sadly, I was raised to believe that it was "over-reaching" to believe that I was extraordinary. Unfortunately, that last one seems to be the hardest one to overcome (and was strengthened when I felt hurt by other people). Don't get me wrong, there are plenty of times I feel pretty damn fabulous, but there are still small shadows of those words "not good enough" that creep in during odd moments of my life: when I'm writing my story; when things are rough in my personal life; when I'm looking at the 2-pound decrease on the scale; when I missed a deadline; when I hit the deadline with time to spare... I know it seems convoluted to have those shadows in the good times and the not-great times, but they are there.

I've gotten much better at weeding them out. It's a lot easier now to say, "No, this isn't right for me," and walk away from a situation. Even with the people I love and whose opinions I value. I think it's because of this that I was able to tell my Dad up front (after not being in contact for about three decades) about my spiritual choices and know that it would be okay. I think it's also because of the weeding out that I know better when to let go and when to hang on. Perhaps most importantly, I have gotten better about speaking up for myself against myself. Yes, we can be our worst enemy, as you've all heard. I'm not saying I've gotten past all the shadows, but they are much smaller now. During more humorous moments I think of them as starving to death because I stopped allowing them to be fed by anyone, including myself.

I'm not looking for anyone to tell me that I'm great, but I'd like instead, for folks to think about the words they heard when they were young and decide if they were true back then, and if they are true now. Chances are, they were spoken by someone who didn't know how deep the message would sink in. Good messages as well as the not-so-good ones, they all sink in. Pick a negative one and weed it out so that there is more room for the positive ones to grow.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Safety or silliness?

DoorknobLast night, just as I was falling asleep, I heard what sounded like gunshots. Four of them before I got the 911 dialed, two more while I was on the phone with the dispatcher, one more after I hung up, two more after the police got to this street. My peace of mind was pretty much shattered at this point. I nearly made another phone call to someone just to calm my nerves. This morning I wish I had called him... maybe I'd have slept more soundly.

I want to believe they were just firecrackers and that someone was just out there being dumb. Even though the wind chill was in the lower teens. Yes, that's what I want to believe.

What crossed my mind several times is that there are people out there who want to make it illegal for civilians to own firearms. There is a man in a high governmental position who said to get a shotgun and shoot it into the air to scare the bad guys away (regardless of the fact that someone could get hurt with the falling shot). There are people who will argue that I am safe where I live and that the police will take care of everything. And I wonder what world they are living in.

When someone jumped over my fence last summer the police took seven minutes to get here. When someone was pounding on my front door (even after I shouted out to them that they had the wrong house) a few months ago the police took six minutes to get here. When my car window was shattered a few summers ago the police took more than ten minutes to get here. When they are called for domestic violence, fights in back yards, and even the raised voices of at least five or six people in the street, the police take time to get here. In that time, there is no one here to protect what is mine to protect. I'm not talking about the crap in my house, I'm talking about the life of my daughter. I'm talking about my life. I'm talking about precious things that can not be replaced.

Yes, someone could argue that the shots I heard really were firecrackers this time. They could argue that the person who jumped over the fence was just passing through or that the man pounding on the door meant no harm or that the shattered window was probably an accident. And, it's possible that in the area they live in none of these things ever happen. But here? And where I grew up?

Perhaps things just look different to a person who had a knife in their face at the age of 14. Or who sat in a closet waiting for the police to arrive and prayed that the baby in their arms wouldn't make a sound while a man was breaking into the window. Or who had a gun pointed at them in their own driveway while their 5-year-old tried to be brave enough to protect them and the infant in the stroller.

Until things like that never happen, I honestly don't believe that taking guns away from individuals is the right answer. I've been lucky and blessed. So many others are not.

(Note: you are welcome to leave thought-provoking comments, but if you leave anything hateful, it will be deleted.)

Thursday, March 07, 2013

Growing?

A Winter's WalkToday I heard a word that I'd never heard before and it started me thinking about what it really meant and how I could use it.

Maitrī. 

The translation I heard was "unconditional friendship with self." When I looked it up I found similar meanings.
Thinking about this most of the morning made my head swirl with ideas and emotions. I broke it all down and thought about each part by itself then put it all back together to see how it rolled around my mind.

Unconditional. adjective, 1: not conditional or limited : absolute, unqualified <unconditional surrender> <unconditional love>

To love myself unconditionally would mean that I would still love myself when I make mistakes. When I do something that causes harm to my inner core. When I don't feel worthy of being loved (perhaps most important). When I feel negative emotions toward other people. When I don't live up to my full potential. When I feel jealousy, rage, disdain, depression, impatience, and, yes, even hatred. I would have to love myself through all of these things. The things I forgive other people for exhibiting. The things I love other people through. If I can love someone else when they are less than perfect, why shouldn't I love myself during those times, too? This doesn't mean that I would encourage those thoughts of anger, it doesn't mean that I want my loved ones to be less than they can be, it only means that I love them through it. And that I will be there for them when they need me.

I would need to do this for Me.

Friendship. noun, 1: the state of being friends (one attached to another by affection or esteem)

Being in a friendship with myself seems like such an odd idea, but why not? Why not give myself that gift? Why wouldn't I? Being a friend to my Self would mean that I would listen (to my intuition), inspire, do little things to bring a smile, value opinions, and encourage myself to treat myself well. Other people do these things, I do them with other people.

I would need to do this for Me.

Self. noun, 1 a : the entire person of an individual

The entire person. Every bit of myself. The bad, the horrid, the beautiful, the spiritual. All of it. The desolation and darkness, the ecstasy and the illumination, the burning tears and the unfeigned laughter, the judgmentalism and the acceptance. All of it. The coldness and the fire, the hatred and the love. All of it. I would have to include every bit of me. Even the disagreeable parts. I can do this for the people I love. I have done it for the people I love (though, to be honest, I don't think they are capable of really hating another human being).

I would need to do this for Me.

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Putting it all back together... Can I do this for myself? Can I really have an unconditional friendship with myself? Perhaps it is my struggle with this concept that keeps me from believing that someone could have an unconditional friendship or love with me. Sometimes I see the brightest glow of renewal and hope for Me. Other times I struggle to see the  beauty inside. 

At this moment, I will hold my inner Self with the tender compassion I hold my loved ones. And I will think of building a better friendship with Me.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Words...

Payson StoneThere are words that are filled with character and history and make you want to say them just to feel them rolling off your tongue. These words are my favorites and my childhood was filled with them. Mostly from books, some just from browsing through the dictionary (yes, I know that's a book, but not one that people typically read.)

Ichor, sepulchral, petrichor, menagerie, illume... these words are filled with beauty.They feel so much more enriching than bloody liquid, tomb-like, earth-smelling, zoo, and lighten. Think about that for a moment.

These are the words I used to get queer looks for using when I was a kid. I once heard an "aunt" say that I used words too old for my age. I knew better than to argue, but in my head I thought, "If I know the meaning of the words and I use them properly, how can they be too old for me?" And so, I encouraged my children to use whatever words they felt like using. And taught them words that were "too old for them".

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There are other words, though, that cause sorrow and second-guessing. One of those words is "but". With those three letters a person hears that something about themselves isn't good enough. "Your grades are good but you can do better." In that situation a child learns that, even though they studied hard and gave up time with friends and favorite pastimes, it still wasn't enough. The effort should have been more. "That's beautiful but it's not my color," tells someone that the hours they put into making something, be it knitting or woodworking or welding, mean very little simply because you don't like the color. That can create such feelings in someone that they'd not want to keep going with something they enjoy because it didn't meet your standards.

I'm glad to see you but...
I'm happy for you but...
It's nice that you have hobbies but...
I'm glad you got a job but...
How wonderful that you're engaged but...
She's a beautiful child but...
He's got good manners but...

One that I have said: I love you but you piss me off. How heartless is that? I know what they read into those words. I love you, but not enough to allow you any mistakes. I love you, but it's not strong enough to forgive you for your inexperience in this world. I love you, but you aren't good enough for me to love you more. How do I know that's what they heard? Because, when it was said to me, that's what I heard. As a child those words slashed at me and caused me to wonder if I'd ever be good enough. As an adult they did the same thing.

A simple change in the word order would turn that word into something much more redeeming. "You make me angry but I love you." That change says that, even though you're mad, the love is still there and is the more important part. "It's not my color but it's beautiful," tells the person that you think their skill in making something is wonderful. The grades? Well, some things will hurt no matter how you word them.

There are people who talk about "constructive criticism" and how they are just "helping" someone strive for improvement. I can understand that. But when that is all they hear, they forget about how amazing they really are. Children don't need you to tell them that their grades aren't good enough when they've been trying hard, they need you to be happy for what they put their hearts into. Your parents don't need to hear that you wished that they'd done something different, they already second-guessed every decision they made for you. Instead they need to know that you appreciated what they were able to give you.

And, perhaps most importantly, YOU don't need to hear that your efforts aren't enough. Don't be pulled down into darkness by anyone's words. Especially your own. You are an amazing person. You will make mistakes. You will cause pain to someone's heart. You will fall flat on your face. But, You are a wonderful being, filled with Light and with Love and with Beauty. Tell yourself that. Now. Say it out loud. "I am going to make mistakes, but I am a wonderful being, filled with Light and with Love and with Beauty."*

Because, when we raise ourselves up to the level we are born to be, when we are reminded that we are wonderful, it's easier to shine brightly enough for the rest of the world.

Namaste.

Edit, 5:45pm: A very wise friend suggested that I do not affirm that I will make mistakes, instead keeping in mind that each moment I am perfect. Each moment I am doing my best, even i it turns out to be a mistake, it is still a moment of perfection. So, the affirmation should be, ”I am perfect in each moment and I am a wonderful being, filled with Light and with Love and with Beauty.”