Friday, July 16, 2010

DD#65: Leader/Follower

Between busy-ness and lazy-ness, I've managed to distract myself from my writing since June 20th! In fairness to me, I have been writing pretty intense, introspective emails, and sharing profound bits of wisdom via phone conversations and personal contact, so I haven't really been avoiding my "work", it's just been expressed in venues other than my blog:>)) Time passes at a different speed since I don't have a J-O-B anymore.

I continue the process of sorting and clearing, but my work is sporadic at best. I'm much more interested in being with family and friends and doing fun stuff like dancing. Like a dream-come-true, I have been inroducing dancing into my life again and I'm so happy to have it. I'm grateful that I can still feel that wonderful body rhythm and move semi-gracefully. Not the flexible youth I was in my 40's but still no slouch on the dance floor. I have danced enough to lose my initial fear and rigidity and have begun to regain my confidence about being a good follower.

In dance, partner roles are referred to as "leader" and "follower". Now, these are a couple of pretty loaded words for me. While I easily (and gratefully) accept the designation as a follower in dance, I'm not so sure I'm comfortable with it in my life. In dance, being a follower means I don't have to use my brain for any of the dance steps. I don't have to do any mental manipulations about right or left foot, any combination of steps to remember, no technicalities. I can simply relax and feel the music and the subtle (or not-so-subtle) signals from my partner. I have a natural rhythm that guides me. When I'm in my head trying to remember steps, I tend to anticipate my partner's next move, therefore shifting my role from follower to leader, which tends to create confusion or frustration for the leader.  So, I appreciate being able to enjoy my "follower" status.

Years ago, before I earned all of my wisdom from dancing to my life's music, I refused to be categorized as a leader or a follower. I didn't want to fit into any mold - I liked thinking of myself as unique. (Don't we all?) Imagine my surprise when my Hand Analysis mentor read my hand and told me that I was a leader. I immediately told her that I really doubted that. I didn't need to be in charge and boss people around. I was particularly sensitive to the idea of being a leader (aka: bossy) since I'd been so harshly accused of bossing my little brother around like a tyrant. Although it chafed me, it was an accusation I bore because as I matured, I realized it was true. I've made my amends...:>))

My mentor then launched into an explanation of what being a "leader" really meant. A leader is a person who is willing to step up and take the responsibility of the choices and decisions inherent with the role. It's a person who recognizes the natural dynamics of groups and can take charge and keep order when necessary. What it's not, is someone who needs to be in charge or boss others around. At this, I calmed and began to embrace my role as a leader. I liked the idea of having the skills and wisdom to know when it was the right time to don this mantle and move forward. But, uh oh! There was a new fear! What if I made a mistake?!? What if I made a bad choice? My little commitment phobic, people pleasing demon reared her head up and said, "Oh no you don't! Don't accept this because everyone will  hate you! Everyone will be mad at you!"

When I expressed my fears, my brilliant mentor looked at me with a grin on her face and said, "Toni, it's not all about you." What did she mean it wasn't all about me? It most certainly was! I was the one who'd be in trouble if anything bad happened. I was the one who'd get blamed. It would be my fault.

She listened to me vent for a few minutes then gently reminded me that the reason it wasn't all about me was that I'm not here alone. My leader part knows to check in with the Universe and be the simple tool - be a channel for Divine work. I kept my sense of being unique but had a new level of awareness about what that meant. I was unique - my leadership gave me the opportunity to be creative and I understood that it wasn't all about me, but about my connection to the Divine and acknowledging not only my spark of the Divine, but recognizing it in others as well. I could shine by giving others permission to shine. I was free to express everything that I learned so I could lead others to learn about themselves. Wow! Now this I can do - with love in my heart. So, I am a grateful follower and also a grateful leader. Where do you lead and where do you follow in your life's dance?

Sunday, June 20, 2010

DD#64: Father's Day

OK, I think the whole Father's Day thing has brought up some stuff in me that needs to be released. I don't have any happy memories of Father's Day Past and always had a confusing and troubled relationship with both my bio father and my step father. I'm certain I transferred plenty of that confusion and trouble into my relationships with all the men in my life, too.

In the past, I've just treated Father's Day with a sense of obligation - find a gift and card and try not to tell the truth about what I really felt. I did the very same thing with my Mom. I remember many years of standing in front of dozens of cards, reading all of them to find the one that wasn't an obvious message of sappy love and devotion I didn't feel. "To the BEST Dad", "I want to be just like you, Mom", all sentiments that were not in my heart. I wanted to be a little honest - I loved them, but didn't feel any love for them for many years. I was just too angry at them for all of the things they did or didn't do as parents. I held their failings against them, never understanding how that played itself out in my life.

I carried my wound around like a weapon to use against me. I lived in a perpetual state of the victim - embracing my role. I accepted, mostly quietly, all of the abuse that I felt was heaped upon me by those who could sense my cooperation in that dynamic. I may as well have written an ad and posted in on Craig's List! "Looking for someone to punish? Well, here I am! Believe me, you don't punish me nearly as harshly as I punish myself - I'm the Mistress of Self-Abuse. I'm such a coward, I'll never tell you to stop. When I can't tolerate your behavior, I'll leave - until then, pile it on because I'm here to take it."

Gratefully, those days are mostly gone. But something is lurking around underneath and it's been poked by Father's Day. Painful memories have peeked up and asked me to take notice of them - shine some light on them and clean house again. This time it's not a complete disaster - it's not epic in its proportions - these are gentle nudges, not catastrophic shoves off cliffs into a free falling sense of impending doom. I'm able to feel them and see them for what they are: history. I can move through them as if lifting a veil that shadows my wholeness. I can walk through them with a sense of safety because I know my wounds no longer define me - they're not who I am - I don't feel hostage to them any more. So I can reach this Father's Day itch and scratch it feeling relieved that it hasn't de-railed me for more than a momentary lapse of remembering - a reflection on the pond of my life that fades quickly. Gratefully gone...

Monday, June 7, 2010

DD#63: Countdown

The countdown began today. On Saturday, June 12th I'm participating in my neighborhood garage sale. There are at least 75 homes scheduled to have sales. That's a lot of stuff people are trying to sell! I have more stuff to sell than space to display it. 

Because of some financial decisions, I'm divesting myself of many years of accumulated stuff - downsizing, simplifying, clearing, cleaning, making room for new energy to enter my life. I have been doing my release processes - it's just stuff - nothing I need to live a happy, fulfilled life. I've done my mental inventory and have a good idea of what I want to keep and what I'm letting go. Since I don't need it, it's part of the energetic balance I'm working with - recycle, re-use, re-purpose. Move things along to those who want or need them and voila! I'm ready to expand my amazing life even more - beyond what I imagined possible at any other time of my life. There's only one problem with that - expand how? beyond where? imagined what? What is my vision for my future? What do I really want? No cliches, no magical thinking, no fairy tale - what the heck do I see for myself in my future? How can I ask for what I want from the Universe when I haven't clearly defined it for myself?

So, even though the countdown has begun for the physical task of sorting, clearing, stacking, deciding, releasing, selling my stuff, an even more important countdown has been ignored. I'm pretty sure what I want is to clear out some things so I can take a deep breath and see some progress before I can make this real. I'm such a great planner, that so far it's been a challenging intellectual exercise - including, (promise not to laugh) an excel spreadsheet. I have mentally (and sometimes emotionally) let go of so much, but am resistant to jumping in and actually doing it. 

My daughter is a great purger - she is relentless about donating or selling what she no longer needs. At a garage sale, when I hesitate to sell something for a teeny tiny fraction of what I paid for it, she says, "the idea is to get rid of it, isn't it?" which snaps me out of my reverie about when I bought it, what I paid for it, what it meant/means to me. Surely the buyer can see the VALUE of this precious item that they're offering a pittance for, can't they? What this has taught me is to be much more judicious about my purchases, because if I don't need it, I certainly don't want to be torn over how much I paid for it when I either give it away or sell it at a yard sale. Now I have to get rid of so many things I wasn't judicious about purchasing and be OK with not only letting them go, but waving good bye with love - no regrets - release them to another's care.

The closer it gets to the garage sale day, the more shaken I become at the thought of having to do this unpleasant task. When I was talking about this to a friend, she suggested that I shift my attitude from dread to excitement about how I'm building my new life. I'm still working on that...

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

DD#62: The Unwrapping

I love unwrapping gifts! (Wait - first of all I love receiving gifts, so I guess this is an example of how I can jump past the initial stages and into the excitement of the unwrapping.) So let me back up and start from the beginning.

I love receiving (and giving) gifts. The joy, the excitement, the anticipation, is enhanced by the love I feel for the person giving the gift. It opens my heart to receive something that is a reflection of someone's thoughts and feelings for me. Even though I know there are plenty of people who just buy something to give, the loved ones in my life feel the same way I do about gift giving and receiving. A gift is thoughtful, a symbol of my love for the person. I take my time and creativity into anything I make or purchase for family and friends. I focus on the recipient - our shared time together, my awareness of him/her as an individual, his/her personality, my feelings for him/her. It has to be "just right" and show my appreciation for our connection. So, in my world, gifts are physical expressions of our spiritual/emotional bond. So, imagine the excitement I feel when presented with such a powerful symbol. Of course I can't wait to unwrap it! Could you?

So here's my gift, beautifully wrapped, just waiting to reveal itself to me. I'm imagining all kinds of things about what it will be based upon the size, shape, and weight of the package. The wrapping is beautiful, especially when it's the result of the efforts of your child or grandchild. But what's inside?

Well, receiving and unwrapping a gift is how I perceive the unfolding of romantic relationship. I've asked and have been given the gift of opportunity from the Universe. I can see the size, shape, and weight of this gift, and he's appealing to me. I like the wrapping, but what's inside? 

Now here's where things begin to change. This gift is not to be torn open in excitement without regard to what it may contain. Its contents must be revealed to me slowly, over time. I want to tear into the unwrapping stage before I've honored the gift as a reflection of support for my vision of a loving relationship from the Universe. How loved I feel as I realize how tenderly the Universe has considered me - what I want, what I love, who I am, what I need - before presenting me with this gift. It's the same love and care I use when planning a gift for a loved one. This may not be the perfect gift for me, but I know the Universe will guide me as I carefully unwrap it - allowing the full expression of the loving intent to open me to new experiences along my journey. I am provided with another chance to open my heart and learn more about myself and him, while keeping my good judgment in tact. My wisdom gained from experience tells me that I can apply what I've learned and be both the giver and the receiver of this gift. I am the participant and the observer and it feels very balanced - and new, and a little frightening all at once.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

DD#61: Slow and Steady

I want spring weather! I'm tired of the cold, rainy, overcast days. According to my calendar, Spring sprang several weeks ago and we've only had brief glimpses of it so far. It seems my moods are closely aligned with the amount of sunshine streaming into my windows. 

I love the weather cushion of Spring and Fall - the lovely transition from cold/rainy winter and hot/sunny summer. This is quite unusual because transitions usually create a feeling of edginess in me. Transition equals change and while I'm pretty adept at acting like I'm rolling with the punches, inside I'm quaking with fear, doubt, and insecurity. 

For most of my life, I never admitted to feeling anxious or vulnerable about anything. Showing vulnerability meant that I could be identified as a victim and suffer the consequences - definitely not safe. Over the course of a lot of deep, therapeutic work I've gained much wisdom and have learned that there are circumstances when being vulnerable is productive.

I'm in the beginning stages of a romantic relationship and based upon past experiences, have come to understand that I must risk a certain level of vulnerability during each phase of the process. What to reveal and when to reveal it is always risky. As our connection deepens, true vulnerability is in staying authentically who I am while observing who he is. Are his words and actions congruent? Does he walk his talk or is he all talk? Does he make promises he doesn't keep? Does he remember what I've told him about myself and gather it into his feelings about me? Is he attentive and considerate of me? All of this and much more is recorded in my mind for review after each conversation, email, and time spent together. I know that if he is genuine, all of the same things about me are recorded in his mind, too. 

This slow dance is delightful and so different from many of my past experiences with men when I felt full of rocket fuel and shot out of the launch pad like a nuclear weapon with him as the target. I obsessed about all of the exciting aspects while totally blinded by all of the negative. Red flags? What red flags? I'm having fun, so there are no caution flags and certainly no red flags that I'm aware of! All became visible when suffering the pain of making another poor choice. Why didn't I see them earlier? Perhaps because I was moving at warp speed and everything was a blur except my desire to make this mere mortal my dream man. 

Now I'm older and wiser and so grateful for the slow dance. Sharing, observing, listening, feeling - how does it fit into my wants and needs in relationship. During this time of heady possibilities, how do I see "us" a year from now, five years from now and further out? Will the small stuff become so huge that it will be intolerable? What are the red flags? Maybe they're only pink flags - maybe no flags - all will be revealed as we slow dance our way into what we both  hope will be a fulfilling, loving, deeply connected relationship. We're both looking for the person we want to spend the rest of our lives with. Maybe we just may have found our last first date - we'll see as this unfolds...

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

DD#60: 2nd Post - My Two-fer

I'm smiling as I remember how it feels to dance. My body is still feeling the music and movement. I have this extended feeling for Contra dancing, rock, and belt-buckle-polishing slow dance - they all stay with my body for a few days afterward. It's like I have an amazing music/dance/connection echo - the memory is such a reflection of the body/mind/spirit perspective of what I treasure in my life and the vibrations are anchored, ready to be recalled any time I want to treat myself. 

Each time I revisit the experience, I feel the memory of dancing as the physical expression of partnership, yin/yang, leader/follower, cooperation. It takes the subtle physical signals and puts them to music. The gentle but firm pressure on my back or hand to lead me into the next step. The music humming through my body, joining my partner's vibration, becoming a single, smooth, sensual movement together. The powerful aphrodisiac of the eye contact when we spin in Contra dancing while the music leads us through the next step. The energetic connection of bodies dancing to hot, pulsing, rock'n'roll, belying the physical space between us.

It's delicious to tap into these moments of artistic communication, feeling my body, my partner's body, and how we created something beautiful together, something that connects us long after we've traveled to our separate beds. I'm anticipating the time when I can share the night of dancing and keep the physical connection in a single bed and I'm warm with the thought of it...

DD#60: Enough!

What to do, what to do? When there are so many choices it's hard to know where to start! Actually, starting isn't nearly as much of a challenge as knowing when to stop. When is enough, enough?

As I clear out my path for living my best life, I have attracted options I never knew existed while I stayed in hiding, buried by my clutter. As my mind clears out the obstacles, my body must decide to take physical action. I actually have lots of physical stuff to move out of the way and I'm in an old pattern of feeling overwhelmed by the sheer size of the job ahead. I have spent inordinate amounts of time and dedication in my head, I just have to get my body to cooperate. The head has started, but the body has said "ENOUGH" before I even made the first step. 

I've always thought that if I waited long enough the motivation would hit me like a bolt of lightening and I'd be spurred to action like a startled runaway horse who's been spooked by a snake in the path. Well, what I've learned is that, as tiresome and boring as it sounds, I must take action THEN the motivation will ensue. How tedious! I want to think my way through all this tough stuff. I want to wave my magic wand and have it all done. (Aha! I just made a typo that was profound! I typed magic "want" in error. Guess what? That's exactly what it is! Magic Want - not magic wand!) I want to worry about it enough to make it happen without my having to do it. 

So, basically, what I have started is not the work, it's the worry, and I'm having a hard time stopping. When is enough enough? Guilt, worry, and resentment are corrosive, like slowly dripping acid eating away at my spirit.Why is that the first phase of every project? Why can't I just skip it and create my plan and move forward? It's like I have to do my duty to my dark side before I can skip into the light. I'm setting my intention to activate my override command and skip the worry so I can smoothly, easily move into the idea, the plan, the action steps, the action, then any modifications required to assure successful completion of something that's important in my life. See? I'm waving my Magic Want...

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

DD#:59: Hot Pursuit

What's up with this dating/mating game? It certainly seems to be feast or famine for me. I've been having so much fun dancing and flirting and have written about it occasionally. It's been INCREDIBLE for me. So here's my conundrum: why is it that when you meet one or two men you may be interested in getting to know better, suddenly the flood gates open and it's a deluge of men? Do we put out some kind of primal signal that we're ready to mate? Do men have a secretly fine tuned 7th or 8th (we all have a 6th sense) sense that makes them aware of female receptiveness? Like a dog whistle only dogs can hear, our female signal is only picked up by those with a Y chromosome.

After an empty space of 3-4 weeks without any male attention, in the past couple of weekends of joyous dancing the Universe has presented me with 3-4 men who could be interesting - in a possible romantic-interesting kind of way. It's exciting to feel their attention and our mutual attraction. 

So now that I've emitted the female signal, a flood of Y chromosomes have caught wind of it and are called to the chase. I've gotten an increased volume of emails on my online profile - including a couple of smokin' hot men who are way (WAY, WAY, WAY) younger who are in hot pursuit. I mean I have to admit that it's very tempting to be pursued by a man who is gorgeous, but my common sense tells me that this is the "Cougar" thing and I don't really want to be a Cougar. 

I'm into having fun, but have outgrown the risky-behavior kind of fun. My risks come in a different more mature variety now. Like taking the risk of being honest with myself and others, or the risk of speaking up when I need to, and the risk of being real. Now those are BIG risks! 

Anyway, I'm flattered that someone so young and beautiful finds me attractive enough to want to be with me, but, oh my, I just can't imagine myself being comfortable with anyone that age. What would we talk about, how could we get each other's frame of reference around perspective, humor, music, etc? Oh yes, in my state of being blinded by their physical beauty, I forgot, this is not about connecting through our deep conversations. It's about another kind of connecting - and while I'd be proud to share my years of cumulative wisdom, the idea of sharing my aging, saggy body is quite terrifying! 

So, fantasies aside, I will enjoy the male attention and keep a sane attitude about my goal of being open to a healthy, loving, deeply connected romantic relationship with the appropriate man for me. If he's not among the ones that I'm seeing now, I know that when the time is right, he's going to show up and pursue me just as hotly as a youngster after his Cougar!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

DD#58: Movement - physical and social

I have a happiness hangover - not from alcohol - from having fun. My body is slightly sore, my head is a little achey and my spirit and brain are feeling terrific. I spent another night of intense dancing. While I'm on the dance floor, I feel the joy of being in my body and don't give a care to how I'll feel the next day. I know that after more regular dancing I'll be able to wake up feeling flexible and healthy the morning after - even with fewer hours of sleep.

I drove to a night club an hour and a half from my home to join in a friend's birthday party. It's been many years since I've been in this particular type of venue and wasn't sure what to expect. The one thing I could be sure of, however, was that if my friend said it was a great place it most certainly would be a fun experience.

I was a little curious to see whether things had changed since my Friday and Saturday nights clubbing from years ago. In those days, there was plenty of alcohol consumed - not by me because I've always been a lightweight drinker - but by others in the clubs I frequented. The single men stood around watching and the women sat around bouncing in their chairs just waiting to be asked to dance. It was a highly competitive waiting game. Who would win the attention of an attractive man?

The men needed a few drinks before they'd venture over to someone to ask. Since I can only speculate how tough it must be to get up the courage to ask a woman to dance leaving yourself open to the possibility of being publicly rejected, I'll speak from my perspective - one of the women who sat with her friends or alone, hoping and praying I'd be asked to dance. I remember looking around the room watching women forced by social customs to sit in their chair moving in rhythm to the music, smiling, flirting (outrageously or covertly), giving every signal they knew to entice a man to ask them to dance. Sometimes it worked and others it didn't, but nearly every woman in the place wanted to dance. For most of us singles it was the only opportunity we had to feel the joy of dancing and safe physical contact with a man.

Well, the times have changed - a LOT! Last night I joined an array of men and women of every size, color, style, and age having fun on the dance floor. None of the women waited for a man to ask - when a song was played that moved us, we headed to the dance floor and danced. There were still plenty of men standing in groups watching and waiting, but women weren't waiting for them. Sometimes the men would simply join us on the dance floor, three or four to a group. I was asked to dance and joined on the dance floor by men of all ages and colors - everyone was simply feeling the joy of strutting their stuff to the music. There seemed to be no socially proscribed qualifications for age, gender, or ethnic background - the only requirement was to be free enough to have fun moving with the music. How liberating it felt to participate in this break away from the old rigidity around who should do what. The only expectation was to feel the rhythm, laugh, join in, be there, dance, flirt, smile, and occasionally bump into someone who was exuberantly movin' to the music.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

DD: #57 Stirring up Stuff

Each day I have seated myself in front of my computer keyboard, opened my blog and sat to ponder what will float to the top of my fertile mind. I've often thought of my writing as the cream that rises to the top - the richest part of my ever-busy mind. Of course there are a few other things that float to the top, too:>)), and I  haven't been able to wade through the other stuff to allow the cream to find its way up.

I've been blank! I've been busy thinking about plenty of other things, talking with friends and family, planning my work, and just having some fun. I've been enjoying my life - AND - I haven't written about it. Why? I really want to know why I'm reluctant to put it in writing. Is this a dry spell or something else more sinister? Is my evil sister, Procrastinating Polly back to haunt me? 

The ultimate egotist, Procrastinating Polly has been my nemesis on many levels through out my life. She's easy to blame because she's never far from the surface - waiting to take the only immediate action she's capable of performing: arrogantly pushing my purposeful, productive self aside to be ignored while I allow her free reign. It's just so easy to let her take charge! It's old, familiar and oh so comfortable to become her captive. I slip into my feelings of being  helpless to boot her out and nurture my inner victim. 

As with all egotist aspects, she's driven by my fear. Now what the h---, I say, can I possibly be afraid of in this amazing, wonderful life I have? Who knows for sure? I can only begin naming some of the exciting changes that are occurring in my life now and know that hiding in there among them is good ol' FEAR. Even as I embrace the aliveness I feel about being me, these days, there are always small parts of me (Procrastinating Polly among others) wanting to put the skids on forward progress because it's just too scary. It's DIFFERENT, it's CHANGE, it's UNKNOWN. Well, I could go on with a few more nouns, but the point is that all of this stirs up my STUFF. 

My stuff is like sediment. While things are calm, it settles to the bottom and things appear to be clean and clear. I know it's down there, but it's easy to forget. Through the years, I've done much inner work and filtered out plenty of sediment 'stuff', but there's still some lying in wait to be stirred up, sometimes unexpectedly. Just when things are sailing along on smooth waters, something happens to cloud my clarity with my stuff. Each time my stuff comes up, I get another chance to filter some of it out by being aware and noticing quickly that something's amiss. In the face of everything positive, I'm slipping into an old behavior - avoiding, tuning out, unplugging, delaying, exhibiting my feelings of fear. When I realize it, I can smile and nod in recognition, take out my tool kit and begin processing so I can move through it. The cloudy waters begin to clear as I use my tools to filter even more sediment so there's less available to dull my vision next time I wade into my own sh--. So, the forecast for today is CLEAR and SUNNY - not a cloud in sight:>))

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

DD#56: Dancing in the Now

OK, I'm admitting it - I LOVE male attention. I used to think it was a weakness in me - if I were healthy and strong I wouldn't NEED or want attention from anyone - everything I needed would come from the inside. I'm older and wiser now and understand more about what's realistic and what's magical thinking - what makes a healthy person. Old me = unhealthy and needy/healthy person = no needs! Now me - I'm healthy AND I LOVE male attention.

This past weekend I went dancing both Saturday and Sunday nights and was nurtured and nourished by plenty of male attention. It was so much fun that I felt the glow long after. Saturday's Contra dancing left me so full of joy I had a hard time going to sleep because I was so energized by my experience. I kept replaying the night in my head, renewing the excitement and happiness. I was re-energizing myself instead of relaxing so I could drift off to sleep, subsequently I only got about 3 hours of rest which didn't stop me from doing it again on Sunday night:>))

Dancing gives me so much joy. It's everything I love about feeling connected while being present in my body. I love moving to the music, I love the touch, I love feeling the music, I love the male attention, I love the flirting, I love the connecting. What's not to love about all that?

I used to go out with friends expressing the "I'm just going to dance" perspective, but it was a lie. I went out with my paradoxical self. The desperate part was on the hunt and said, "I'm going to have fun and this time I'll meet my dream man". The fearful part was terrified and said, "What if nobody asks me to dance?!" I spent many hours sitting or standing around waiting for the right man to ask me to dance, certain the whole time that I was not worth asking.

I'm here to say that we can change that old stuff! I know more about who I am - my authentic self - the strong, attractive, confident, loving woman who has so much to offer. The woman who is definitely worthy of love - especially the most important love - love of herself. 

With incredible courage and willingness I have tackled the old beliefs that darkened my perspective and shined light on them. In the light of love and reality, they have shriveled like the wicked witch in the Wizard of Oz. They're just ashes to be dusted away when they show up in me. I know they will pop up unexpectedly, but now I can recognize them for what they really are and lovingly say "Good Bye" to them.

So now I LET myself have fun and shine knowing that it's happening to me here and now. Joy doesn't need to be viewed through my past or hide out and wait for some magical future. I'm Dancing in the Now!

Friday, April 23, 2010

DD#55: Loving My Body

I'm sitting at my desk in my jammies with pale pink & black plaid bottoms and a soft pink top. I love soft fabric against my skin. This color of pink makes me feel very feminine and soft, too. That's how I'm feeling these days - soft and feminine - receptive. I am very sensual - aware and feeling at a sensory level and how that colors my perspective. Part of my gift to me is loving myself in ways that are very different from "rewarding" myself. My sensual nature encourages the expressions of this self love in many forms.

I abused my body for most of my life - taking it for granted, ignoring its pleas to stop what I was doing - to be kind and gentle to this physical gift that houses my emotions, intellect, and spirit. I worshiped the intellect, sometimes nurtured the spiritual and beat the h-- out of my poor body - often referring to my body as "the body" as if it were somehow separate from me.  I hated my body - it wasn't perfect!

For as long as I can remember, I've compared my body to the "perfection" pounded into my head by a multitude of messages. I succumbed to the standards interpreted by the media, my family, my friends, and most of all, my inner perfectionist. I tried many ways to learn to love my body and accept myself on a deeper level than simply being defined by my body. It all felt like a lie. As I looked in the mirror and smiled and said, "I love my body!", inside I was screaming "That's a lie! I hate my body!" I punished myself by eating more and heaping on the abusive habits and the pounds. 

I was miserable and turned to my relief valve: magical thinking. Yes, I got into my head where I felt strong and reasoned my way into the kind of thinking that kept me in the misery loop at full speed. I thought up plans to "fix" me. I read about others who had overcome their hatred of their bodies by going on the latest diet. I was working harder to AVOID taking action than the action itself would have taken. Why? Because I wasn't ready to do what it takes to get what I wanted. I was looking for a silver bullet, the painless pill, the magic way to lose weight without having to do anything. I wanted a cure that didn't include the only thing that works: eating less and moving more.

Looking back on my journey, it's clear to me that I wasn't ready until I was ready. Sounds simple, doesn't it? Well, it's simply profound. Two years ago, I was ready. I didn't know I was ready, but I was led to a program that has offered what works for me: structure, accountability, balance, healthy foods, avoiding trigger foods like flour and sugar, and letting the Universe guide me. I didn't want any of these things, but was desperate enough to be open to giving it a try.

So, after losing 60+ pounds, I'm in a healthy, normal size body that I have maintained for about 18 months. Did losing the weight cure my magical thinking? Well, it did end my fantasies of losing weight and eating healthy - that's real now. Did it free me from my obsession with my body? Kind of. I'm much more accepting now, but realize that deep down inside, I imagined that when (if!) I ever reached this weight, somehow a much slimmer 20 year old would be reflected in my mirror! If that's not magical thinking, I don't know what is. What a shock to see my fat, imperfect body become the thinner, imperfect body of a woman in her early 60's! Who is this stranger? I was completely dismayed to watch my body shrink like a deflated balloon leaving behind sags and wrinkles that had never been part of my vision of me in a thinner body! (OK, I know I've used several !!! in a row, but this is powerful stuff for me!!) 

Anyway, now I love myself, including a special kind of love for my body. I love feeling healthy, more maneuverable, more flexible. I like that I take up less space. I like buying cute clothes in single digit sizes. I like being able to find stylish smaller clothes at a thrift shop for a couple of bucks. I like that my clothes fit on hangers instead of falling off one side because of how large they are. I like the admiring looks I get, (not from young men as in my 20 year old vision), but from older men, close to my age. I like feeling good about me - and as far as I'm concerned, I've almost completely let go of the perfectionism about my body. I'm more accepting and willing to do things that show my appreciation for this very important part of me. I take sensual pleasure in moving through my life aware on all three levels: body/mind/spirit. I now understand that our bodies are genuine gifts - they're the package that holds the other two gifts: mind and spirit. I like my package gift wrapped and beautiful in honor of what it contains.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

DD#54: More Lessons in Life...

Here it is, several weeks since my last entry and my commitment to do 90 blogs in 90 days is far from perfect. Guess it is my way of practicing a very important life changing philosophy for a perfectionist like me: progress, not perfection. 

I'd like to continue my last blog entry with the details of my conversation with Mr X and have been putting it off because I've learned that I'm a lot better at speaking dialogue than I am at writing it. I have it in my head, but somehow it seems overwhelming to write it with all of the correct punctuation --- and here comes my perfectionist! OMG - my evil twin has reared her ugly head again - yes, I'm a grammar and punctuation snob and she's large and in charge right now. 

What I can do right now is to share how courageous I was to take the lead in this very emotional conversation. How my willingness to speak my truth with clear, clean communication, gave Mr X the courage to speak his truth, too. What I learned from this very important call was that I was better equipped to take the lead in this situation. I have always remained passive and by my non-action, allowed others to make my emotional decisions for me. I have been a willing victim of other people's choices because I didn't speak up for myself unless I had been pushed into a corner and had to come out swinging. So speaking my truth was always confrontational - involving anger and frustration and major fear. 

In my commitment to being authentic, I understood that Mr X was not a bad man, but was going through a painful process and didn't know how to communicate it verbally. I led him through this process and at the end of our phone call, he said I was much braver than he was and that he didn't have the right words - I had helped him find the words and ultimately be honest. He was bothered by not replying to my email and it haunted him, but he didn't know how to handle it any other way. He also didn't see any options for "us" at this time since he couldn't imagine being in a loving relationship without his version of sex. 

In that single conversation, I learned much about him and it was clear to me then, that by making that call - taking the lead - I had cleared up any confusion over whether I was letting the best man I'd ever met slip away in fear. I understood that I wanted much more from the man in my life than sex. I believe sex is a very important part of a loving relationship and I want a partner (husband) who is open and vibrant -AND, I need to feel a deep spiritual connection too. 

We must be connected at all three levels: body/mind/spirit. If one is missing, the other two  just limp along until the road gets rough. Since the relationship isn't strong enough to survive the rocky terrain, it crumbles apart and falls by the wayside, piece by broken piece, leaving two very injured souls. Most of us have endured this horrible experience and carry the scars to prove it. I couldn't turn a blind eye to this very real scenario with Mr X, even though he had taught me what a loving husband could be. Mr X was adrift and couldn't see a life boat in sight - I faced my fear and helped him beyond his own, so we both learned from it.

I took the lesson and walked away with a couple of bruises and incredible awareness of who I am and what I have to offer others. My courage to be a leader in modeling how to be honest and clear in our message to ourselves and others was validated and I am grateful. Living in my own truth and using my voice is a powerful way to live my purpose: I'm here to show others how to learn to love themselves fully and honestly, so they can love others in the same way. I'm willing to learn how to reach inside and communicate through that spark of the Divine that resides in everyone and connects us to each other as we move through the Divine Energetic Soup that unites us with our Beloved.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

DD#53: Getting there from here...

I've been on an intellectual/emotional/spiritual binge and didn't have the oomph to write, what with all that thinking, feeling, and praying going on. I was so caught up in my inner life, I hardly had time to do anything at all in my outer life beyond the bare basics of fueling my body and getting what sleep I could manage. Oh, yes, one more thing: talking the ears off of every dear friend with the loving patience to listen and support me in both my joy and pain. If I was forced to grow during this adventure, I was going to drag them along so they could learn too - kind of my payback to the Universe - my two-for-one deal.

I've known for many years that I don't have a good history when it comes to romantic relationships and when I decided to dip my toe back into the dating pool, it was with some trepidation and a vow to do certain things: be authentic (honestly me), be vulnerable, take big risks (big for me, anyway) by doing it different, feel the joy and be willing to feel any growing pains, and finally to remember to do relationship by committee (hint: I'm not always able to see through my blind spots, but family and friends who love me have clear vision and my permission to get my attention with a 2x4 if necessary).

So my dating game started several months ago on an internet singles site. Flirts, emails, phone calls, and coffee dates. I've met some interesting men along the way and learned something valuable about myself from each of them. This recent man (Mr. X) who crossed my path to teach me something was wonderful. I learned much about myself and him from our budding relationship. 

He was SO appropriate! Yes, absolutely APPROPRIATE! I was smitten from the 1st real date. I was in love with being in love and it felt SOOOOO great! He was perfect. After spending some time with him I made a shift in my consciousness and realized that because of this man, I was no longer asking the Universe for a partner - I wanted a husband. (OMG! Did I actually mean "HUSBAND"?) Well, yes, I did. This was the first man I'd ever been interested in who knew how to be a husband. He was my first role model and I was totally loving it and him. 

I planned my spring wedding and visualized my future life with him fantasizing about how phenomenal it would be - the two of us, blending families, traveling, laughing, joking, sharing, loving, deeply connected intimacy, the whole enchilada. This man brought out the best in me and said I brought out the best in him. What a match we were. We were blissfully engaged in flirty, witty emails and phone conversations, so stimulated by our exchanges that I eagerly anticipated every second I could spend with him. We played, we laughed, we talked, we teased, we planned, we enjoyed each other so much. 

Do you hear the sound of the approaching monster "Jaws" yet? Well, I absolutely didn't. Actually neither did he (at least I don't believe he did). We were spending as much time together as two busy people can and talking and flirting our way into "committed relationship" country. Then a little problem reared its ugly head (or didn't) and things began a rapid downward spiral. 

He couldn't imagine himself in an relationship without the "S"(ex) word and his Dr. was telling him that was history for him - he was devastated. He panicked and re-focused on getting busy with many projects to keep his mind occupied so he didn't have to think about what he used to think about all the time. 

More and more was being revealed to me about the perfect Mr X. What did he mean when he said he didn't want to be in a relationship unless sex was involved? Did that mean that the only reason he'd be interested in me in the first place was that he was attracted to me sexually? I mean, I've heard that men think of sex 60 times more often than women, but is it the ONLY reason to be with someone? What about having fun together? What about doing things together? What about enjoying closeness? What about all of the "alternative" methods of reaching sexual fulfillment? I was full of questions and he had one answer: no deal. 

I arrived home after a weekend away with friends and saw the writing on the wall - his email saying he wanted me to find a much younger man who could match my vitality and say good bye to him.  It broke my heart. I saw him as so much more than that. When we talked, he apologized and said he didn't want to hurt me but he just couldn't be with me - he didn't want to be with anyone. If he could be with anyone, it would be me because I was fabulous (I knew that!), but he just didn't feel anything anymore - that part of his life was a "dead zone" now and that was more than he could bear. The part of himself with which he most closely identified was MIA and he didn't know how he could recreate himself.

He asked for a couple of weeks to get used to this new version of himself. We would stay in communication via email and phone. I knew he was in pain and asked him to allow himself to receive my love and support and that we could make it through this together. 

We exchanged chatty emails and talked a couple of times over the next two days. When I knew he was coming to my home to help me do something he'd agreed to before the bad news hit him, I asked him if it was OK to hug. He said hugs were good, but when he arrived and I hugged him, he was noticeably uncomfortable and when I reached up to give him a peck on the cheek, he quickly turned his head fearing that I'd zoom in on his mouth, I guess. We had the same experience when he dropped me off and walked me to my door. 

How could it be so uncomfortable only two days after it had been so fantastic? I was reeling and trying my best to be patient and supportive. I wanted to honor his request for some time to get straight with this new situation. 

The phone calls stopped and we exchanged ever shorter emails over the next couple of days. Finally, I realized that even though this man's unilateral decision had impacted me and I was feeling sad and hurt, I had stepped into an old behavior of protecting him from my feelings. I wanted to suffer in silence so I wouldn't bother him or be too much trouble, or even feared to let him think I was deeply hurt. After all, I'm a strong woman who's survived much worse than this and bounced back. I would tough this out by myself. My old thoughts about men in general began to creep into my grief, but I knew it was just a flash of old stuff, nothing big. But here I was protecting him from me. 

I decided to send  him an email that was chatty and subtly referred to my sadness. It was beautiful and I edited it to say just exactly what I meant. I decided to take the biggest risk yet and hit "send". I anxiously watched for his reply the next morning (our pattern was my email at night and his reply early in the morning) and when I arose, there it was. His response to my missing him was "hang in there". 

When I feel connected to someone, I get a spiritual/physical feeling of separation when they detach. With two previous men, as they walked away from my home I felt them detach. I'd felt connected to Mr X, even as he drove away, even when he was in his home and I was in mine, I felt our connection like a physical presence. It's something I've always felt with people and I'm even more aware of it as I grow in recovery.

I was feeling Mr X detach and fearfully, I wrote another chatty email that night then checked my inbox as soon as I was up the next morning - no reply. OK, I'll be fine - just keep checking - OK, still nothing, but it's OK, he's probably busy, more OK's - it's OK, I'll be OK, OK, where the H-- is his reply??? I checked constantly that day, the next day and the next morning. By then I was a mess because my brain was in overdrive jumping from one scenario to the next. The one thing I couldn't deny was my sense that he was detaching. I thought of how I'd practiced being patient, letting things play out, waiting (W8NC), and taking the risk of trusting the Universe that I would be guided. I prayed, I meditated, I took my dilemma to quiet time, I talked with friends and sought their counsel. I wanted to call Mr X and be straightforward - was he in or was he out? What did his silence mean? 

When I talked with a good friend she told me to take care of myself and  honor who I truly am. That statement took me to quiet time again. Hey God, who am I really? Am I a willful, stubborn woman who MUST have her way? Is my need to call  him being manipulative? I was full of questions and decided to ask them and sit in silence until I received my response. 

I got my answer in the simplest of messages: Toni, you are a person who is clear and clean in your communication with yourself and others. You are courageous and appreciate clean cuts. You hate hacked off, strung out, messy endings. You're a practical woman who is resilient and will be OK with this no matter what the outcome, and a phone call would be taking care of yourself and honoring who you are. So I dialed his number.

Friday, March 26, 2010

DD#52: W8NC

That's what I'm learning - to W8NC! I remember many years ago, a young man I worked with would pick up his daughter from her kindergarten class and she'd spend a couple of hours with him in his office until her mom could pick her up. She was a delight and everyone loved having her there. She brightened our day with her five year old perspective on things. 

One afternoon, I stopped by to ask her what she'd learned in class that day. She was always eager to share her new knowledge with us - keeping us up to date with the latest in kindergarten education. On that day, she looked at me, smiled and said, "We learned how to wait in line!" She was very happy about offering that bit of wisdom and it made me laugh to think that they had to "teach" waiting in line to children. (Although, as a former teacher, I knew how important it was to establish boundaries and rules to help children (and the teachers) create the best learning environment given class sizes at about 25-30 kids per teacher. It was true that learning how to wait in line was an important part of that curriculum.)

Through the years I've thought of that many times and laughed at how cute she was standing there in her little dress, with her red, curly hair and blue eyes.  The other day it suddenly occurred to me that I still hadn't learned what she was learning in kindergarten - how to wait in line - how to W8NC. I get impatient  and prickly when I have to wait for anything, whether it's in line or for something I want - especially if it's something I want. When I want something I want it NOW, not later - definitely not a W8NC attitude. I have trouble waiting patiently to let things play out in their own time. I want to get out my carving knife and start whittling that square peg to fit it into a round hole. I want to FIX it, DO something so it's to my liking, taking charge, pushing through it, manipulating it, doing something, thinking I can get the outcome I want.

Lately I've been given the gift of some life experiences that I can't control and while my urge is to manipulate them, I've decided to finally learn how to W8NC what happens - in the Universe's time, not mine. Turning whatever "it" is over to the Universe/HP/God/Goddess, is the only way I can know if it's ME or the Universe that is working on the outcome. How can I know when I'm so skilled at working it my way? Unless I'm willing to W8NC, I can never know whether it's God's will or mine. My will has taught me many a good lesson, but I've mostly refused to LEARN from those gifts. So, on my knees, tired, and bruised, I can rise up with the faith, courage, and support of all who love me (including myself this time around:>)) and actually LEARN and APPLY this experience of letting go and living in the day and allowing things to unfold as God intends. No struggle, no hard work, no fight involved - just me and HP holding hands and trusting that all will turn out for the best. W8NC allows me to remember that the Universe has 3 answers to prayer: "yes", "not now", and "I have something better planned for you". That gives me hope and patience to W8NC how this becomes another miracle of growth and recovery - and for this I am grateful...

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

DD#51: What I don't want to feel

A few weeks ago I took a huge risk with my feelings. I risked feeling incredible joy without a "guaranty" of a positive outcome. I knew that feeling the joy and being present for it was worth the risk of feeling the pain of living in the unknown. I've written about my black and white thinking before - I want to have everything be "yes or no" "all or nothing" "right or wrong" "now or never". I'm torn between feeling a need to stay with it and nurse it, nurture it, pour myself into it or just trash it and move on. The in between - unknown, mystery, waiting, patience, time - are hard for me. 

I knew how to fear feeling joy just in case it would end (as, of course, it always did, my cynical self said). One day I realized that, what the heck, I was around for the pain, so I may as well feel the joy, too. Things began to change, but the thing that never changes is that things will change - joy will change, sorrow will change, pain will change - none of it is permanent. It takes living in the present, accepting the unknown and feeling all of it. For the most part, I feel gratitude for all of it - pain and joy. I'm feeling, so it makes me real. Right now I'm feeling the pain of lost wishes, hopes and dreams. The joy will return and so will the wishes, hopes and dreams, but somehow they will be different - they'll be more anchored, closer to reality as they are after every time I take the risk of feeling joy without fearing the pain...

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

DD#50: Flirting

Oh how I love to flirt! I'm shameless! I have a special man who's becoming part of my life and I'm enlivened by our shared flirtations. I'm not overtly sexual, but sweet little snippets of hints of whispers of possibilities is SO much fun. A look, a smile, a light touch, a few words whispered or a laugh at a shared embarrassment are powerful communications in romance. 

My mother says I was born flirting and I always assumed it was natural for everyone. She loves to tell stories of how I enchanted everyone around me, how I flirted and engaged them even before I was able to carry on a conversation. As a child, my flirtations were my way of showing how I liked someone and wanted to be liked. Flirting had no sexual implications, I just seemed to know how to say nice things to others to make them feel better and that made me happy.

As I aged, flirting took on a darker element - it was no longer harmless. It was being perceived as a sexual invitation and I suffered painfully as a result of doing what came naturally for me and what that meant to men I met. I was inadvertently sending out sexual messages when all I really wanted was to have fun, safe ways of connecting - not promising. I thought of sexual flirting as something deeper - what I shared with the man in my life, not messages cast out to all men transmitting my availability. 

I had to learn how to NOT flirt, to be conscious of every nuance of possible hidden messages in words, movements, and looks when around men. My behavior became stilted, frozen in fear that I would be sending signals that would cause problems for me. I stopped feeling light and free around men and waded into the heaviness of fear that I would be misinterpreted and suffer the repercussions. The words "appropriate" and "inappropriate" became my guidelines. I had a new rule book to memorize and practiced my new "not flirting" with a seriousness that was alien to me. Being around men was no longer fun and exciting - it was fraught with potential consequences that brought up past painful experiences.

Like everything we put into practice, I became adept at learning how to dampen my messages, but in the process I also dampened my spirit. Somewhere there had to be a happy medium, where I could be the fullness of me and communicate safely. I hated hiding who I am as protection, but I needed to find the place in me where I could express myself honestly instead of hiding.

I began by talking openly and honestly to my friends - men and women - about communication - how it's interpreted, what meanings are implied or understood, how to communicate without fear of endangering myself. Since my creative art is communication, I was like an old master who had to learn the fundamentals before exploring the uniqueness of his individual signature. 

I had to fine tune my signals and develop my own style. I was learning the art of subtle flirting without subjecting myself to interpretation of how others perceived me. It was not my job to try and decipher someone's opinions or thoughts, only my own. If my motivation for my behavior was without sexual intent, I was not responsible for how someone received it. 

Flirting became fun again! It was no longer communication exclusively for men - my flirting includes my women friends. It's about seeing the humor in our hubris which is not gender specific. It's about subtle manipulation of words and phrases. It's about expressing who I am and my perspective on life. It's about fun and I'm enjoying the connection flirting creates with family and friends. I'm a flirt again and loving it...

Monday, March 15, 2010

DD#49: Slow Dancing

I've just been listening to some oldies that I love - Etta James: At Last, Tracy Nelson: Down So Low, and Candi Staton: He Called Me Baby. Beautiful words and music for slow dancing. I was thinking of these because I've met a man I want to slow dance with and it feels so lovely. I want to be  held in his arms and feel the connection of the two of us moving together while we let the music guide us. When I dance the feeling of my body moving to the rhythm of the music is pure joy for me. To share this with someone I have feelings for expands that feeling, and deepens our connection of body/mind/spirit. While I listen to these songs I can close my eyes and imagine feeling our bodies moving smoothly, skin touching skin, feeling our shared heat and it makes me smile. I want to slow dance with the man I love - soon...

Thursday, March 11, 2010

DD#48: Mr & Mrs Right

What is love to a love addict? I never would have thought of myself as a love addict, but my mind changed when I took a look at my past a few years ago and realized that I had not been able to create a healthy relationship with a man, nor even sustain an unhealthy one. 

I was a serial monogamist and thought of myself as a loving, caring, big hearted woman who had always been "done wrong" by her man. I'd loved and lost so many times I had come to expect it as inevitable. Men always left me - either physically or emotionally - they departed. Why? That was my lament. I had so many things to offer! All of my friends and family confirmed that they were as mystified as I was about why I couldn't find a "good" man. We assumed that all of the good men were taken - the common complaint of most singles.

I mixed and mingled at many different venues, searching for Mr Right - the man who would fix me once and for all. The man who would love me unconditionally. I created a long list of attributes and characteristics I wanted in my Mr Right. I listened to motivational tapes and relationship tapes and then watched love stories wishing and hoping I could have the kind of love they had. I cried my eyes out wondering where I'd gone wrong. I was angry, I was hurt, I was disappointed, I was resentful - they just didn't see the real me that was hidden inside all of the dysfunctional addictions and fat. Like the movies and books, Mr Right would recognize me for who I really was and fall in love with me. His love would coax me out and allow me to reveal my true identity - Mrs Right! 

Meanwhile, I walked around like a huge magnet attracting men whom I  referred to as "emotional fixer-uppers". They needed me to care for them in some way and I confused their need with love. Funny how I never realized my own stuff - everything that made me choose men who mistreated me - I didn't have any respect for myself, how could a "good" man have respect for me? 

I don't mean to disparage men - there are millions of excellent men out there, but I was attracting men who were my mirror - they reflected back to me what I didn't want to see in myself. Who could make something like that work? Two people who needed to take a closer look at who they were and who they wanted to be and measure that gap. We were like two people who can't swim trying to save each other. The result is two drownings.

Funny how things work - once I became willing to take a look at myself and do some work on me, I started attracting people into my life that are loving, nurturing, smart, caring, funny, and I so appreciate them because they, too, are mirroring back to me the things I like about me. Oh, I still get plenty of opportunities to trip over my stuff and see something new that I can change, but now I have so many helpers - men and women who will lend me a helping hand and witness my growth. Maybe I can actually be Mrs Right and attract my Mr Right - only this time, it will be real - not a fantasy. He will be real and I will be real and we can be real together - REALLY!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

DD#47; Surrender

For me, surrender always meant giving up, submitting. It was a negative word carrying with it all of the negative feelings of failure and I'd had plenty of failures in my life, so I never wanted to add more. Since I've been in recovery in a 12 step program, I've come to understand surrender in very different terms. It represents a feeling of peace and serenity now. 

I was trapped in my mind for so many years - my mind was my master - pushed by ego into constant rumination and circular thinking. Sometimes self-talk worked to break the cycle, but not always. I tried meditation, and hypnosis, among other forms of relaxation therapy, but was rarely able to quiet my  mind. It was always busy, busy, busy exhausting me with sleepless nights and unproductive days, caught in the web of my own thinking, struggling like a spider's victim trying to escape but getting pulled in deeper and deeper. 

Have you ever had one of those Chinese finger cuffs you get at the fair or a carnival booth? They're woven bamboo and you put an index finger in each end. It's deceptively simple and so much fun until you try to pull your fingers out and realize they're stuck. The harder you pull, the tighter the weave on the bamboo and the stronger their  hold on your fingers. The only way you can remove your fingers is to gently push them in a little deeper, which opens the weave enough to free you from the grip. I spent my life pulling harder and harder as the cuff tightened around me, never knowing that gently pushing a little deeper into my stuff to free myself was a form of surrender. 

Someone wise said that surrendering is an act of faith from an untrusting person who knows that it will make a difference. Like learning how to release the finger cuffs, I've learned to trust that I can ask the Universe to help me surrender beyond my own mind. I can surrender those obsessive thoughts, I can surrender my fear or panic, I can surrender my anxiety, I can surrender my anger because I've been willing to risk it and it has worked! Yes! I'm here to tell you that it works for me and it can work for you, too. Surrender all of it to the Universe God/Goddess, whatever you consider to be the Divine Light in your life - you will be amazed at how much freedom you can have when you jump off the merry-go-round and make a stand - stop the spinning and surrender - feel it - isn't it fantastic?

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

DD#46: She-creature revisited

I've been thinking more about my she-creature and how I can see her from a new perspective. She's part of me - always will be, so there's no killing her off like some villain in a novel. Besides, there are times when I love to take a look at her and recognize the power she used to have over my life. As I mentioned previously, I spent most of my life inside the cage looking out while she prowled around in control, leaving me to suffer the consequences of her behavior.

As I talked with a friend about the circumstances that bring her quickly to the surface to demand control of my thoughts and actions, she shared her concept of her she-creature. Rather than a fierce tiger, pacing back and forth, snarling and growling to be released, she thinks of her she-creature as a wild horse enclosed in a very large corral - contained, but not constantly rattling the cage to weaken it and be free to consume her. 

I really liked that image, so I decided to see my own she-creature in a similar way. She's beautiful, wild, and full of energy. While she wants to be free of the fences, she recognizes the boundaries they represent. She tosses her head, flares her nostrils and lifts her tail as she gallops around releasing energy in a safe enclosure. It's more about boundaries than cages. She represents that wild, edgy part of me that I really appreciate - that I embrace.

It reminds me of when I understood the difference between setting a boundary vs building a brick wall around myself. Of course nobody could scale or break through the brick wall and I was safe, but I was trapped inside, never free to experience life and that's the only reason I'm here - to experience life in all of its flavors. Setting a boundary for myself so I could set them for others meant I could feel free to grow and expand because, unlike brick walls, boundaries are fences - I can see beyond them and others can see me through them.

My old she-creature tiger in a cage could never be calmed, I had to worry fearfully that she might escape and lock me in the cage again. She always wanted me to be in the cage where I was helpless to defend myself against her will. It was a life of either/or - black or white, all or nothing. 

My she-creature wild horse is enclosed for our safety. I can care for her, nourish her, keep her safe from predators and the elements. Inside her fence, when she's feeling jumpy, skittish, over excited, or irritated, I can soothe her with soft words, sweet songs, a gentle touch - and we can respect each other. 

She understands this but at times needs to chafe at her boundaries - wanting to feel the freedom of thinking she could run until she drops without ever worrying about anything in her way - no obstacles. What she doesn't know is that she can never really do that - there are obstacles everywhere. It's my job as her caretaker to understand this for her and maintain the boundary for our safety. She can see me and I can see her and we're both safe...

Saturday, March 6, 2010

DD#45: She-creature

I'm not feeling very creative today - I'm having a hard time letting go of my love addict. She wants to take control of my budding relationship with a wonderful man. She wants to feel disappointed because she had certain expectations and they haven't been met (I know (I KNOW) better, but she still doesn't). It isn't a big thing, it's small, but she's quick to anger.

I wonder whether I can ever completely detach from that addictive part of myself and just be free. I believe that she's always in there, pacing back and forth in her cage, lurking around waiting for an opportunity to jump out and control my thoughts and actions. Oh, the lurking and jumping are not nearly as strong as they used to be. I know how much progress I've made, but sometimes the power of my reaction over what my intellect tells me should be a small thing, surprises me. I've learned to recognize that she-creature inside me, she dwells alongside Maudie the Critic, Angry Alice, and 'Fraidy Female - some of the darker facets of my personality where she prowls. She's ravenous when she senses fear, anger, guilt or shame - gorging herself on my peace and self-worth. She's a demanding dominatrix when she feels in control. 

I think back to how much of my life has been a reversal of roles - I've lived trapped inside the cage where she belongs.
These days I feel more like she's in the cage and I am free to grow and expand in safety. Now her attempts to control me are less threatening growls and snarls. She's fierce, but she's also old and cranky - not as strong and agile as when she could whip me into submission and keep me trapped in my darkness. Ahhh, freedom - it feels so ---- well, free!

Friday, March 5, 2010

DD#44; Techconnections

I'm having problems with internet connection because they're working on the cable in my neighborhood. I hate the technical disconnect! I've grown so used to instant connectivity and am spoiled. I'm impatient to begin with and this tries me even more!
Back when I'm thoroughly, predictably, constantly, instantly connected...

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

DD#43: Honesty

Last night I sat on the edge of  my bed in the midst of my nightly rituals and realized that my day had spun past without blogging. My initial reaction was to run to my computer and make a half-hearted attempt to throw something online to relieve my conscience, then I thought what a lie that would be. Since my goal is to maintain honesty with myself and others, I knew that wasn't the best option. The better choice was to realize that it was OK to skip the day and make certain I blogged today, when my heart was in it.

What is honesty? Is there a difference between honesty and truth? I think there is. For me, truth is factual - from our intellect - it can be confirmed by the facts, but doesn't necessarily include ALL of the facts. Therefore, the truth can actually include lying by omission or even be colored by personal interpretation of the facts. Honesty is inspired by connecting to the Divine - in our hearts - what lies deeper than the truth. It is heart-centered and expressed from the place within us that recognizes when we are speaking or thinking with the wisdom of our soul.

Honesty requires courage, but gives us the opportunity to apologize or make amends when necessary. Honesty frees us from guilt or shame - there's no need to push down honesty - it flows freely through us and with the appropriate  follow-up action it clears us, freeing up space for life energy to ebb and flow without accumulating more of our "stuff". 

As I'm honest with myself, I can be honest with others, too. Clearing out the stuck "stuff" is quite exhilarating and I recommend it - go ahead, start now. Think about something that you wish you would have done differently and what you would change. If you're honest with yourself, you'll see your part in what happened and can then clear out some of your "stuff" to make space for light and love to enter and help make your divine shine visible to yourself and others...

Monday, March 1, 2010

DD#42: Dream to Reality

Last night I had a fabulous time: friends, music, dancing, new love = WOWSER! I'm Happy, Happy, Happy! Yippee, Skippee! I want this feeling every day, all the time. I'm experiencing "Complementary Energy" at its peak!
Thank you to the Universe for lighting the way for me to move from dreams to reality. It's happening...

Sunday, February 28, 2010

DD#41: The Moon

I've always been fascinated by the full moon - La Luna - she represents our feminine aspect. It was beautiful in the clear sky last night and will be again tonight. I feel cheated when it's lost in the clouds and I can't see it clearly. 

I remember riding in our car as a child and watching the moon out the window, thrilled by how it followed us no matter what turn we made. It had chosen to shine on me and I felt connected to it. The moon loved me and watched over me, protective, smiling, always there, even when it wasn't full. 

Last fall on the night the moon was closest to earth, I was taking my Grandson home after he'd spent the weekend with me. The full moon was sitting on the horizon huge, orange and so close we felt its hypnotic power over us. No pale two dimensional photo, it was alive and we wanted to reach into it. Climbing through the foothills I knew if I steered directly toward this beautiful orb it would enfold us.

It has always had a deep, profound effect on me - pulling me towards it like the ebb and flow of the tides it controls. Sitting in my hot tub with the gentle light of a full moon caressing me and softening everything around me makes me feel safe and nurtured. Unlike the sun's burning hot rays, from which I need to protect myself, the moon's light guides me gently through the shadows of the night, lovingly lighting my way.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

DD#40: Little Boxes

Every time I wrestled with an old belief or problem to a point of feeling a sense of resolution, I thought I could put it in a box, wrap it with a note saying "DONE/FINISHED/OVER/ENDED/FINAL" and put it on a shelf. I dusted myself off and moved forward freed from ever having to address that issue again. 

I've dealt with a litany of issues: mommy issues, daddy issues, sibling issues, love issues, hate issues, forgiveness issues, resentment issues, man issues, health issues, weight issues, work issues; food issues - I've used up plenty of tissues dealing with my issues. But I'm an imperfect human living in an imperfect world, so I was bound to bump into a situation that brought my shelf of neatly wrapped boxes tumbling down around me - UNFINISHED - again.

I have sporadically kept a journal for many years and one day when I was cleaning my bedroom, I discovered an old journal dated 5-6 years earlier. Thinking I'd chuckle looking back at how little I knew then, I sat down to read some of the entries and was dismayed to see that I'd written about the very same stuff I was still dealing with! What kind of progress is that anyway? I felt awful - like I was stuck in a time warp destined to repeat my painful choices without ever seeing the results of changes I'd manifested in my life. I was so distraught that I tore up the old journal pages determined to never be reminded of how little I had changed despite all of my efforts to grow spiritually and emotionally. 

As I continue to ask the Universe to show me results from my willingness to shine a light on the many obstacles that hide me from my Sacred Self, the Universe says "Yes!" and I get an opportunity to see what I want to change. As long as I keep asking, and stay conscious of my feelings and actions, I can open each box carefully and examine the contents with a new perspective. Oh, there's that piece from when I thought I was being a good friend, but the truth is that I was simply terrified of being rejected. I didn't give freely, with an open heart. I gave with a fearful expectation of a return - that they would like me and need me and never leave me. Right - I didn't know how to be an honest friend who loved herself enough to know that she didn't have to earn the right to be here by working harder, giving more, and being the most agreeable person ever, just to be accepted. Yes, I remembered that and continued to learn more and practice being honest and authentic. 

Now I'm happy it's not DONE - I get to improve it every time I'm in a situation that encourages me to be real. Over time my separate little boxes have merged into a larger, more profound blend of lots of little facets of me representing the wholeness of me - who I AM, why I AM here, and how I AM gratefully living my life connected to the Divine in myself and everyone I encounter.

Friday, February 26, 2010

DD#39: Maybe

It's almost lunch time and I'm hungry, so this will be short and sweet (I know you'll be relieved not to have to wade through a long one:>)).

Today my sister and I had to complete a huge package of paperwork for our mother. She will most likely (90%) not be returning home from the skilled nursing facility where she's currently receiving care. The paperwork is mind numbing and required us to go through all of her files in search several verifying documents necessary to determine her qualification to receive the benefits. 

Three things are going on for me: dealing with the amazing level of bureaucracy we live with - there are forms to sign saying we didn't want to file a particular form; the feelings associated with 'invading' Mom's private files; and the awful realization that she's clearly not leaving the nursing home, while in the back of my mind I'm thinking maybe, just maybe she might...

Thursday, February 25, 2010

DD#38: The Sun

It's a beautiful sunny day - finally! We've had so many rainy overcast days that I began to believe the sun was never going to emerge again. I've never been a sun worshiper, my skin is very fair and, as a child and young woman, I suffered through many severe, painful sun burns. (The upshot of this is that I now have to be inspected annually by a dermatologist for skin cancers.)

I wanted to be tan and sought every trick to tanning that I could find: baby oil & iodine, tanning lotions & creams, daily exposure in 5 minute increments - never between 10 and 2, heck, I even tried olive oil and crisco! Oh, and lest I forget, the Coppertone self tanning cream that turned me a bright orange with dark orange elbows, knuckles and knees. I could have posed as an upside down traffic cone! I was determined to make my skin turn brown, but all it did was go from pale pink to dark red and blistered.

At the age of 29 I discovered sun block with PABA and it was a real treat for me to protect my skin and enjoy limited exposure outside. I still covered up and wore a hat, but just being outside in nature was exciting.

Over the years, I've armed myself with increasing levels of SPF coverage and still wear a hat, with very little exposed skin, but have felt safer to venture out on sunny days. Every outing requires me to spray or spread sunblock on any part of my body that risks even a slight possibility of peeking through my garments. I can't just casually run out of the house on a whim. Stepping out the door requires me to be armed with sun block and all of the accouterments I've collected to guard against the punishing rays of the sun.

My preparation sometimes irritates me, but I know it's necessary and I do it. There is an upside to all of this hiding from the sun, however; my skin is still quite youthful for my age - unharmed by years of sun damage.

So even though the sun has been my enemy, I've discovered that it's also my friend. I lived for several years where the mornings were either foggy or slightly overcast and the sun burned through it by about 10 or 12. It was just a way of life, like snow in Minnesota - I was used to it. In Sept 2007 I moved to Folsom, where the sun is like a fiery weapon hurdling UV rays at us with 100 degree summers. No more of the soft, gentle sun shining through the trees, filtered and tolerable. Knowing this, I arrived armed with my sun protection program. 

What I wasn't prepared for was the amazing energy I feel when I wake up to sun in the morning. It's like a shot of caffeine - and I'm decaffeinated. When the sun is shining through my bedroom windows, I awake feeling ready to start my day - alert and alive. Quite a change from the slow starting, slow moving, dullness I feel when it's overcast or dark out. The sun became my friend. I love the seasons with the sunlight visible when I arise. My friend the sun is smiling at me. I think of one of the pictures drawn when we're very young, with the house, the tree in the yard and the sun shining big fat rays of yellow down on everything. It's as if I've been given a gift and makes me smile at the sun smiling at me...