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...

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

DD#37: Venting

Oh my! Once again, I've let a day pass without blogging! What's up with that? How can I become so distracted that I simply forget something that's important to me? Well, OK, yesterday I was distracted by my anger.

When I'm angry I need to vent - to feel that I can say whatever awful thought I have and remove it from my brain so I can deal with it. It's very important to me - having a witness helps me make it real and sets it free from being trapped in my head where it constantly circles around and around and eats away at my peace of mind. It most certainly destabilizes my balance, and I feel pulled toward old acting out behaviors. I think and act in extremes when I'm angry - I become superlative -  no moderation in sight - "always" and "never" are the operative words in my vocabulary. I often say that I feel like I want to hit someone then take a nap, because it also exhausts me.

Now, while I've never hit anyone, I have fine tuned the creative art of venting. It's usually as simple as calling a friend and asking her for 5 minutes to hear my tirade - free of judgment - to just agree with me even if she doesn't. When I stop to take a breath, steam vented, anger subdued, I can see the humor in what made me angry and laugh about my perspective. It has produced a kind of catharsis that is concrete. My venting has given me insight and I can now address whatever it was that I felt angry about and my need to feel angry about it.

Co-operative venting is particularly satisfying. When I call a friend to vent who says she also needs to vent, we become partners in recovery. We can see each other's silliness and laugh. The real value of venting is not in the harsh words I need to convey loudly in colorful language - the benefit of venting is the laughter. As I hear myself I begin laughing and it is healing. We can laugh at ourselves and at each other. What a gift. Anger to laughter in 5 minutes. Why haven't they written volumes on this? (Maybe they have and I just haven't looked for them?) In life (my ongoing learning) I am presented with the gift of hearing and seeing myself - and oh, what a vision that is when I'm banging on my high chair tray because, once again, I didn't get my way...

Monday, February 22, 2010

DD#36: Ready...

Here's Monday again. This Monday doesn't feel like a "monday", full of irritation that I have to work at my job another day. Feeling depressed and angry that I even need a J-O-B. This Monday feels full of hope - the 1st day of the rest of my life, to use an old cliche'. 

I'm excited about a new phase in my life that is taking me closer to supporting my healthy, prosperous life doing what I love. How can anything be better than that? (OK, I can think of some things that are JUST as good like, love, good health, happiness, connecting with others, but this is a life-long dream for me, and feels attainable - for real.) I'm looking forward to sharing this as it unfolds - more will be revealed because this student is ready!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

DD#35: Waiting

It's Sunday and I didn't blog yesterday - not because I didn't remember (which has happened the other times), but because my day was consumed with waiting. I do waiting pretty well up to a point, then it becomes stressful for me to continue to wait. I want action. I want answers. I want results. I want to see the Rule Book. Waiting past my threshold makes me irritable, impatient, angry, restless, and ready to point my finger and blame anyone and everyone who is causing me to wait beyond  my tolerance level. 

Yesterday my day was pretty well planned out: I intended to visit Mom then do my grocery shopping, arrive home, fix my lunch, and generally do my weekend chores. I arrived at the facility where she has been receiving care for the past 3 weeks at about 11:15, well within my schedule. I walked to her room and the bed was made but she was nowhere in sight so I began searching the hallways knowing that when they get her in her wheelchair she often wanders around finding others to talk to. 

As I rounded the corner, just past the nursing station, there she sat - slumped over, legs akimbo, with her left arm dangling over the side of the chair looking like she'd fallen asleep. I approached her and touched her shoulder while asking her if she needed to go back to her room for a nap. She didn't respond, so I spoke a little louder, "Mom, it's Toni. Are you OK?" Still nothing. I was terrified and thought the worst - maybe she'd died out there in the hallway without anyone there to hold her hand and comfort her! I shook her shoulder and spoke to her again and she opened her eyes a crack and mumbled something.

I called a nurse and said I'd never seen her like that before - what was wrong? The nurse tried to rouse her and we got her back to her bed, thinking she was just sleepy. The nurse kept reassuring me that she'd just seen my mom passing the nurses' station about 10 minutes prior to that and that she'd been wandering around the hallways most of the morning. When we got to her bed, the aide, a big strong man, physically lifted my mother out of her wheelchair and placed her on her bed and they began taking her vital signs and continuing to speak loudly to her trying to rouse her from her stupor. She wasn't responding coherently and mumbled infrequently, just fluttering her eyes and drifting off again.

After checking her vital signs a few times to determine that all were well within normal limits, they called 911 to have her transported to the hospital - this was going to require much more than they could provide at the facility. I was in tears and couldn't stop myself from thinking this was the end - that she'd made a decision to depart. Even though it's always a possibility and even more possible given her age (almost 87) and condition there was a part of me that wasn't ready - perhaps would never be ready for her final transition.

As always, the firemen and EMTs that arrived were so gentle and kind and efficient, working as a team to determine her condition so they could take their next action. One took her history from me while the others worked around the close quarters of her bed, trying to get a response from her, calling out her vital signs and generally doing their jobs. 

They were going to transport her to the emergency room of the hospital she'd left exactly 3 weeks ago. The one who was taking information from me asked me if I was OK to drive and it hit me that he recognized how emotional I was and was concerned for my safety in the middle of all this smoothly run chaos. I couldn't stop crying but told him I could drive and would meet them there. 

When I got in the car, I called my sister, who was in class all day. Thankfully it was close enough to lunch time that they were on their break and she could talk. We're so fortunate to have each other to share the responsibilities and emotions that are associated with this situation. I poured out my fears while reassuring her that I'd call her if she were needed, but to continue her class and let me know when she was on her way home and I'd give her an update.

We arrived at the emergency room at 11:50AM and began the waiting. More history required along with the vital signs and various pokes and prods for lab work. I cried as I watched her react painfully, crying and pulling at her arm to stop the pain from the needle being inserted for her IV. I thought of when my daughter was little and didn't understand and couldn't express in words when she was in pain. Her startled reaction when she felt the sting of the needle for an injection or blood drawn. How horrible it was to watch and want to protect her but knowing that what was being done was necessary. Here was my mother, helpless, not aware of her surroundings - being stuck, and moved, and invaded in so many ways - it broke my heart. Strangers were calling out her name and talking to her and all I wanted to do was tell them to get out and leave her alone.

Her assigned nurse came in with the computer stand and we went through yet another session of history - current meds, medical conditions, past surgeries, allergies and more, more, more, as I worried about whether I had missed anything important. (Let me warn you, learn all you can about your family members. If you accompany anyone without a full knowledge of their medical history there are too many "unknowns", and they'll hesitate to proceed or take many more tests than necessary just to be safe.)

More needle jabs as they needed even more blood for tests. More witnessing of her crying out automatically reacting to the pain even in her semi-conscious state. More waiting. More waiting. More waiting. Finally the ER doctor determined what had caused the episode (a TIA) and what the possible options were, but nothing was resolved until the results of a urine sample were available. More waiting.

 I sat by her, holding her hand, talking to her as if we were having a conversation. I reminded her of the time she held my hand the whole 48 hours I was in labor with my daughter. How, with every contraction, I had squeezed her hand so much that it was painful for her to move it for days afterward. How she had said it was absolutely worth the pain because she now had a beautiful granddaughter. Remember, Mom? What a wonderful Grandma you've been to Jenn and how much she loves you. How much happiness you've given your Granddaughters Hallie and Mary Joy. How your Great Grandson, Christopher gives you a hug when he sees you. Remembering all of the good stuff - the happy times that would remind her how loved she is.

More nurses, lab people, pokes, finishing the history, and more waiting, waiting, waiting. Seeing her lying helpless, in pain, and not knowing how to help kept reminding me of how little we control in this crazy world. By this time Mom had begun a series of muscle spasms in her legs and feet that were causing her to arch her back and grimace as she jerked and twisted on the gurney. It was as if she were having a seizure and it was appalling to watch helplessly. They didn't seem concerned that it was due to a medical condition and I wanted to scream at them to do something to relieve her discomfort. Couldn't they see that she wasn't resting, wasn't calm, was probably in pain as she moaned and cried out.

My sister arrived at 5:30. I'd now been here 5 1/2 hours and my tolerance for waiting was nearing its end. When the lab results came back positive for a UTI, the doctor decided to admit her for treatment there. I could stop the sensation of free-falling - I had the sense of a safety net to catch me. A decision had been made and I knew what would happen now - more blood drawn and more waiting. 

At 6:15 I watched the lab tech go to another room to get samples after the nurse told him he needed to draw blood before she could start the antibiotic for Mom. I was furious with him for not rushing to my mother. Didn't he know we'd been here since noon! How could he calmly go to another room when his lab work was all that was needed to get the healing antibiotics coursing through my mother. It was like watching someone else cut in line ahead of us and I was way past my patience level and into the blame zone. It was his fault if my mother got worse! The nurse didn't insist strongly enough! Who was to blame for this whole thing anyway? I wanted to take names and kick a---!

Mom began a whining sound and was trying to find her way through all of the wires that connected her to the monitor so she could rub the area around her IV. We saw a dark red streak running up the vein from the IV and called the nurse. She was having a bad reaction to the antibiotic, so it required more consulting with the doctor and, guess what? More needle jabs and more waiting. By now Mom was sporadically able to respond, not always coherently, but she acknowledged the spasms were painful and hurting her back. We waited, and waited. I was hungry (hadn't eaten since breakfast at 8:30AM), tired, and pretty close to hostile by now. My sister was tired, hungry, and patient - how does she do it?

They finally got all of the paperwork done to admit Mom and the young man arrived to transport her to her room. (Here's where I want to insert how loving and gentle the caretakers are in these places. I'm amazed and grateful for their compassionate treatment of their patients.) After she was settled into her bed, the PM nurse came in and said, "Oh, she's here. Are you family?" My sister and I both nodded yes, and then she said the words that put me over the edge. "Good, while you're here I can get some history from you." 

I shot a look at my sister and she said, "Why don't you go home so you can eat and get some rest. I'll take it from here." I argued that it was just as much my responsibility as hers and that I'd stick it out until Mom was resting. She reminded me that it didn't take both of us to do what one could do, so leave. She wasn't hungry, she was tired, but was OK with staying and giving yet another history. I knew that if I had to give another history I'd probably be an a-- to the nurse and alienate her. Of course I wanted Mom to get the best possible considerate care, so the last thing I wanted to do was have her nurse pi---ed at me and dislike Mom because of it. I left.

As I walked to my car I looked at my watch and it was 7:25PM and I was completely exhausted. I'd left my house at 11:00AM with all of the best intentions to have a nice Saturday - getting all of the things on my "To Do" list accomplished and then possibly spending some down time watching a good movie after dinner. I had no other plans, but life interrupted and scattered my intentions like litter. I spent the day on an emotional roller coaster because we never know where life will take us. Can we ever prepare for these interruptions? I'm not sure, but I think the best we can do is ride them out like a surfer who's unsure of the wave, but has practiced enough to know his board and what it will do. I've invested the time, energy and practice to know myself  at least as well as that surfer knows his board - pretty sure of my assets and my limits. Knowing myself is the only possible preparation for when life interrupts my plans. Like the surfer, it's amazing when I catch a good wave and it's a learning experience when life comes along and wipes me out. While on some level yesterday was a wipe-out, on another much deeper level, it was another good teaching wave...

Friday, February 19, 2010

DD#34: Co-creativity

I'm here to learn - learn whatever I can, wherever I can, from whomever I can. Some things interest me and I seek voluntarily to learn more, some things I have to learn to live, but the best learning is the gift of a freely offered nugget from someone I respect. Now THAT'S learning for real. 

Over the holidays, I met a man with whom I made a fabulous connection. I was "in love" with all of the exciting possibilities from my connection with him. We felt like two sparks of electricity charging each other in a dynamic, energetic connection. Zap! Zing! Zowie! It was love in the nth degree! (Can you tell I was pretty "charged" about "us"?)

Every time we would talk, it was like I'd plugged into an amazing source of energy and I felt expansive, loving, joyful, animated, dynamic, powerful, and amazed that I could feel so alive. I had pretty much resigned myself to living without the thrill of first love ever again.

While that didn't last (and neither did the guy:>)), I considered it an incredible gift from the Universe, letting me know that I was still here, still alive, and still a desirable woman. He was gone, but he left me with such gratitude for what he'd opened in me. So I thanked him and thanked the Universe and moved along with my life.

A few days ago a friend who had witnessed my excitement during this period was reflecting how enlivened she'd felt from just being an observer of these interactions - a vicarious participant in my new love. She wondered why we couldn't feel like that all the time. Why can't we just decide to feel like that every day? Well, at first it sounded like one of those eternal questions about wanting to be happy all the time. But I pondered it and wondered the same thing - why can't I just wake up every morning choosing to feel "in love" with my life?

After a few days of rumination (and a little bit of self-blame about not doing it "right") I spoke about it with my sponsor. She's a wise woman and gives her wisdom with love and compassion and I am so grateful to be the recipient of her gems. I asked her the "why" question and for the first time in my life of wondering about this very issue she gave me an answer that I truly understood. Are you ready? Here it is.

It's about complementary energy. Two individuals are perfectly whole in and of themselves and when they  meet they create something new. A hydrogen atom is fine alone and an oxygen atom is fine alone, but when they meet they create water - it's chemistry! The chemistry of life. It can create something phenomenal or it can create something unworkable, or it can create something unstable or it can create something stable. It can only happen when two (or more) meet. 

I started thinking about each of us as an atom floating around doing just fine - we're doing what we're here to do and life is good. Occasionally we bump into another person (atom) and that meeting creates something new. Sometimes the something new is expansive and sometimes it's diminishing, but it's always different than either one was on its own. Sometimes it's not another person, it's God/Goddess, art, hobby, work, or an idea that we bump into and the complementary energy creates something new. That expression of complementary energy defines co-creativity.

We co-create with others, we co-create with ideas, words, tools, and inspiration. In all of this the Divine is the ultimate Co-creator, bringing the floating atoms into our field, within reach, so we can effortlessly expand and co-create...

Thursday, February 18, 2010

DD#33: 4 Letter Words

Cursing, cussing, whatever you call it, is profanity. I remember when the use of any 4 letter word was considered taboo in polite company and a lady NEVER let one of those words pass her lips. In more formal times, it was considered acceptable for men to use these words freely in the locker room - or any all male domain, I guess - but not in front of ladies and certain other higher status men. (Our proud heritage of a classless society of equality among men conveniently overlooks the fact that those words were mostly written and enforced by men considered to be the cream of society. They were privileged and had wives, slaves and/or servants who were definitely NOT considered equal, but I digress.)

As a child I heard plenty of these words but was admonished if I used one within the hearing of an adult. I secretly used them - was even brave enough to use a couple of them in the company of my peers. We would whisper them and giggle with our hands over our mouths as if to prevent them from passing beyond our little group and into the world where we would be in big trouble for saying them out loud. The very act of speaking them was the beginnings of our rebellion against the rules. We had no idea what some of them even meant, but they were forbidden so we had to use them.

When I started my freshman year at San Jose State University, I had been working since high school to save enough money to help me pay for my expenses and live on the income from a part time job. At 20 I was older and somewhat removed from the typical teen rebellion of sex, drugs, and rock'n'roll. I'd had a different kind of rebellion. As soon as I left my parents' oversight and began living on my own several hundred miles from home, I made up for all the time 'lost' while living under the considerable control of my family. I acted out a lot doing crazy things, but always showed up for work and earned my way. I was responsible through and through, but the seeds of rebellion were planted. I tasted plenty of forbidden fruit.

Suddenly at SJSU I was surrounded by young people who were determined to break every 'old' rule and create their own new ones. I embraced my rebellious self and embarked on my long voyage of questioning everything.I was applying the philosophy that rules were just guidelines, some were to be bent, some to be ignored, some to be broken and some to be applied. I selectively decided which ones were mine and which ones weren't.

The old rule of cussing went out the window and I remember the thrill of seeing the shock on some faces the first few times I brazenly spoke the "f" word in mixed company. I felt so elated, so free, so intoxicated that I began using ALL of the 4 letter words I could remember, independently or in inspired groupings of my own creation. Oh, I was the mistress of 4 letter words - alert for looks of disapproval or shock from anyone within hearing range. I loved this new me. No more "f---ing" rules for me! No more "f---ing" good girl image. I was a "f---ing" rebel without a pause spewing obscenities in every direction. I was "f---ing" powerful and "f---ing" invincible - nobody could stop me. Nobody dared - I was a 4 letter force to be reckoned with.

Like anything new, the shine eventually wore off and I began to ease away from the gratuitous use of 4 letter words. They still crept into my language, but had lost their power. Now I simply used them for emphasis - to hammer home my point. They continued to represent my need to rebel against anything or anyone I considered an obstacle to having what I wanted. They became my angry words, my emotional descriptors. I could express myself with them when I didn't have words to define my feelings. 

The 4 letter words are quite passe' now - most people use them regularly. I still use them, but they're just another remnant of the old habit of pre-awareness expression - before I could put words to my feelings. As I learn more ways to express what's going on inside me, I can let go of the need to use 4 letter words. I don't release them easily - they still hold power for me and who I am - a rebel charting new paths, whacking down the old growth, on the watch for someone who's offended by how I chop down what obstructs my search for "f---ing" meaning in my life...

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

DD#32: Sleep

Another day almost got away from me without blogging, but this time I remembered just as I was settling in to that relaxed, warm place I hope for as I wind down from a busy day. That transitional place that takes me from the full-on energy of my day to the soothing gentle energy that precedes a restful night's sleep. I usually need about an  hour so, like an old woman, I toddle off to prepare for sleep allowing ample time to do my night time rituals and slip into drowsiness.

Most of my life I took sleep for granted - one of the lucky ones who fell asleep within 5 minutes of my head hitting the pillow and sleeping straight through the night. I didn't even move much so when I arose in the morning, the bed was barely mussed. Just a quick toss of the covers and it was made. 

Over the past 18 years I have learned to appreciate the rare restful night's sleep. I know the difference now - what it feels like to have delayed sleep, sporadic sleep, insomnia, restless sleep, poor quality sleep. I've experienced too many mornings feeling tired due to lack of sleep - or at least restful sleep. 

I remember fondly the years "before" - before sleep became elusive. Before I had to fight to stay awake during a quiet afternoon working at my desk. Before nodding off in front of the TV at night or while reading a good book. There are times when I think maybe tonight will be different and times when I just accept that it is what it is and I'll have to live with it. 

Prior to "before" I can't imagine ever thinking that I'd have sleep problems - at least not until I was really old and completely inactive. Actually, I don't consider my poor sleep as a result of being really old and inactive now, but back in those days, I thought the age I am now was old. No wonder my poor body is confused...

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

DD#31: The Power of Words

Aarrrgghh another missed day of blogging! I can't believe I did it again. This time I didn't even realize it until I was eating breakfast this morning and thinking about my day. I looked at my notes from yesterday and there it was: Blog! How can I get so distracted by other things in life that it completely slips my mind? I suppose that's why they say it takes 90 days to create a habit - not 30. So this is 90 blogs in 93 days as of today.

I want to beat myself up about it but after my miss on Saturday, thankfully, I've admitted that I'm not perfect so that's not an overwhelming need this time. (Although the Fraud Cops are still hanging around in the shadows waiting for a new situation to occur so they can catch me:>)) 

But Wait! There's more! The other part of this is that I now have a different recurring thought, "What if I become too relaxed about my commitment?  Like a rat chewing its way into a package to get at the food, doubt is nibbling at me. What if, in reality, I'm a lazy, dishonest, flake?" 

Doubt creeps into me and disrupts my sense of peace and serenity about my creativity. It smothers the joy I feel about expressing who I am - embracing the courage it takes to reveal myself to others. It makes me wonder if, in revealing myself, I have simply exposed myself as I really am instead of who I want you to think I am. Doubt twists and distorts my willingness to be vulnerable and trusting and makes me feel fearful and anxious. Doubt is driven by my ego - when it's all about me. Willingness, vulnerability, and courage are guided by faith when it's all about God/Goddess. How interesting that even the verbs used to describe the actions illuminate the nature of each: doubt is driven and faith is guided.

For me, this is part of the beauty of blogging. It's a way of learning about where my head goes so I can get out my tool kit and continue my internal remodeling project. My writing flows through me from my higher self and puts words to formless ideas and notions that float around as vague unidentified feelings. Now there are words and with words comes a clearer view of what's happening. My head now knows what my gut has known all along. With words comes the opportunity to create a new vocabulary - my internal dictionary can now expand with new meanings and language. The power of words has always fascinated me and I'm grateful that, like a 3 year old who's encouraged to used their words instead of their fists, I can stop flailing around at shadows and use my words to shed light on them. Let the power of words continue to guide me faithfully to being the person I came here to be - my I AM.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

DD#30: The Fraud Cops

I was lying awake in bed last night and it struck me that I hadn't blogged on Saturday! My first urge was to get up and at least write a few lines, but it was about 2:00AM and therefore, Sunday . And more important, it felt like I was doing something dishonest just so nobody would know that I hadn't been perfect. Another episode of an old tape about living in fear of getting caught by the "Fraud Cops". 

Much of my life has been spent in fear of someone recognizing me as a fraud - a phony who's just pretending to be a responsible adult, but is really just a frightened five year old. Fortunately, that happens less and less due to my commitment to live consciously aware of my thoughts, beliefs, and actions - to be fully present - me - here and now. Most of the time that's where I live, but there are some surprise attacks every once in awhile when I'm caught off-guard and ambushed by a dusty, out of date, unproductive, negative thought stemming from an old belief that may not even be mine. Something I learned from someone long ago and not even part of my own personal experience. 

I remain vigilant for the "Fraud Cops". My truth is that as long as I continue to recognize the beliefs and behaviors that are obstacles to my personal growth, I will be given the opportunity to change them. And that's fine with me...

Friday, February 12, 2010

DD#29: Small Stuff

It's Friday - again! I've had a whole week full of gifts. New people, compliments, validations, connections with old friends and family, love, appreciation - a beautiful life in every respect including all of the ups and downs. Interesting how even the downs are manageable now. My gratitude is bubbling up in me like a smile that you feel coming on because you're just so happy that even the small stuff gives you joy. Speaking of small stuff, it's in the small stuff of my day that I find profound joy - the little miracles that add sparkle to my life. Like wearing something my favorite color of green or blue and seeing the color reflected in my eyes. Joy.

Last night about 8:30 after I returned from my meeting I walked to the mail box to check my mail. As I reached into the space I felt a package - a plump 5 x 7 envelope lined with bubble wrap. I squeezed it wondering what was inside and who had sent it to me. When I reached the street light near my house I checked the return address and saw that it was from a dear friend. I'd just seen her at the meeting and she hadn't said anything about sending me a package. My curiosity ran away with me as I felt the squishy package - what could she be sending me that she couldn't just hand to me when we saw each other? It wasn't my birthday, or any other gift-giving holiday - what, what, what was in the package?

I sat at my desk and reached for my scissors to cut the package open, but kept turning it over in my hands worried about where to cut it so it didn't damage the contents. I finally held my breath and made a very (VERY) narrow cut along the sealed edge, just wide enough to create an opening. Inside was a folded square of fluffy pink material tied with a beautiful vanilla satin ribbon. What was this? Maybe a pair of slippers or socks? Maybe a cute winter hat or scarf? 

Tucked inside the ribbon was a silver edged note card with a picture of a dove carrying an olive branch over the caption "peace". Inside was a lovely note from my friend thanking me for something I'd given her. I was so moved by her words - short and sweet expressions of how the gift was having such a positive influence on her and how inspiring it was.

I was smiling as I untied the ribbon and unfolded the soft, fluffy pink material, noting that it couldn't be slippers, socks, or a hat. It was folded around a small, pink organdy gift bag. I opened the bag and tipped the contents into my hand. There rested the most gorgeous pair of earrings in my favorite color of green. The glass beads were shiny and smooth and I couldn't wait to try them on. 

But there was something more important to do before I tried them on. I dialed her number and shared my joy with her. How much the gift meant to me, how I couldn't wait to wear the earrings she'd made, how deeply I appreciated the time and love that went into her design and how delighted that she'd thought of me and known my favorite color by simply observing me, not needing to ask. 

She was so happy that she'd made me happy and that I'd shared it with her. These are the true expressions of love and appreciation. Small miracles of connection that bring me joy...

Thursday, February 11, 2010

DD#28: Wisdom

Today makes 4 weeks of Daily Discipline Blogging - almost half way to my 90 day commitment. I've really enjoyed the flow of writing. It's like getting a mystery box full of gift-wrapped packages, I never know what will show up, but I'm excited to unwrap the next one.

My mind has been occupied with assessing options for decisions about my finances. This is quite embarrassing to me because I earned huge amounts of money at my last corporate job but got laid off there in 2003. Since (OMG! it's been 7 years!!!) then I've been financially challenged. A few attempts at starting and earning my living being in business for myself taught me that I'm much better at selling other people or things than I am at selling my own skills. 

In retrospect I've also made some poor financial decisions. We can't see into the future and know the outcome of our choices, we can only choose and pray for things to work out well for us. One of the promises of the 12 step program I work is "we shall not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it" and I remember a wonderful mentor of mine who shared these words of wisdom when I was busy berating myself for a mistake I'd made, "Do not judge your past behavior by what you know today." Who can know what the future holds?

Remembering those profound words and that promise keep my harsh inner critic quiet. I need only tell her (I'll call her Maudie because she sounds like a Maudie to me), "Maudie, thank you for reminding me of what I don't want in my life - now let's focus on what I DO want." Maudie is calmed by those words of gratitude for her and relaxes, thereby letting me create a change in the pattern of an old behavior that has haunted me since I can remember, causing many dismal days - even weeks, months, years. She's much more manageable than when I first started speaking up, which proves to me that, with intention, connection to HP, and practice, I can create incredible changes in me and my life. I am grateful - every day...

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

DD#28: Finding Options

The Universe is creating options for me - always. So much of my life has felt like I didn't have many options - there was one, maybe two to choose from, or worse, none - the "skin of your teeth" version of "just get through it the best you can" scenario where you have no clue that there might be a variety of choices available. We don't know what we don't know.

How do I find out about all of these options? Well, I ask HP for hints, and I have a veritable gold mine of highly creative friends and family rich with options I hadn't thought of in my little cocoon of "I must do it by myself". I've learned how to ask for help and it's amazing how much simpler (and more fun) my life has become. I only have to ask. When I hear myself talking about what's troubling me, it gives me permission to hear another perspective and - Voila! - options! And they're from people I love and trust - how great is that?!?

When we don't know what we don't know, there's always help available to get us through the illusion that we have all the answers and must do everything alone. I'm banishing ALONE!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

DD#27: From Dream to Plan

I just "got it"! The secret to how successful people manifest what they want in their lives. They change the language and beliefs from the "Dream" category and into the "Plan" category. Just changing my language has been enlightening. Instead of thinking about all of the reasons I can't have what I want I ask "how can I have what I want?" It's that simple. Nothing new, I've used it plenty of times, but it feels new in this particular circumstance that I'm in right now.

My "dream life" has always felt unattainable - it's just a dream. When I think of it as possible I can ask the Universe/God/Goddess to help me with a Plan - the "How". Now my plan can't contain foolish objectives - it has to be real for who I am now and not who I used to be - a 40 year old with a fear-driven ambitious drive and plenty of energy (or at least willing to push myself beyond exhaustion). I'm now 60+ with NO desire to push myself fueled by fear. So I'm not putting anything on my plan that smacks of unrealistic magical thinking like: get a part-time job to supplement my income, go back to a sales career where I work 80-100 hours/week, win the lottery, wish it, receive a large inheritance from a distant relative I didn't even know - you get me, the stuff that ain't gonna happen.

Instead I'm writing about what's important to me in this final third of my life. What does it look like? Who's with me? Where am I? What am I doing? How am I supporting myself? What's my source? (OK, I know that one - HP.)

I once took a seminar about how ordinary people achieve extraordinary things in their lives. It takes three components: vision, heart, and action. (See it, feel it, do it.) All three are necessary, so don't think just because you have one or two of these characteristics that you can succeed - that's magical thinking.

Over the next couple of days I'm going to create my vision, then consult my HP for a plan of action, and put my heart into it - really feel it, see it and make it happen. What's "it"? More will be revealed I'm sure...

Monday, February 8, 2010

DD#26; Being Right or Happy?

My day has been busy with phone calls and catch-up work. I had 3 items to follow up on today. After all my years of experience I am still occasionally surprised at how much time making a few business related phone calls can take. Call number 1 is an erroneous $15.85 charge on my phone bill. Here's how my typical day goes with 'only' 3 personal business phone calls to clear the paperwork off my desk.

I get everything assembled on my desk (I'm very organized, you know) - papers I need to follow up on, notepad, pen, and water or coffee by my side. My questions are pretty simple, this won't take much time at all, I tell myself, knowing all the while that for the 3 phone calls I need to make I will probably dial several different numbers several times and STILL not get things settled. But I'm going into this with a positive attitude that will result in a positive outcome, right? 

First number on my list of 3: dial the call, listen to the menu of options, listen again to make sure I'm selecting the right one for my specific need (or the closest guess because actually none of the options really identifies my topic), make my selection and get a recorded message, so I leave a voice mail hoping someone gets it today. 

If someone actually replies today, I usually get a call back while I'm on the line waiting on hold after making my menu selection for another call. Now here's my dilemma: do I lose my place in the queue for this call to take the incoming call or not? I take a chance and decide to let it ring through to my voice mail. OK I'm still in the cycle of call 2 and waiting after 20 minutes - do I keep holding or quit this call and try call 1 again? At 40 minutes on hold, I decide to cut my losses and try another time when the lines aren't so busy. ( when? at midnight? at 3AM? Not likely since their business hours are M-F 8 - 5 Central Time.)

I check my voice mail and dial call 1again. I listen to the menu of options, listen again to make sure I'm selecting the right one for my specific need. With my option selected, I wait on hold for several minutes listening to lousy music, as I count the number of interruptions asking me to continue to hold as my call will be answered in the order in which it was received. Finally, someone answers!

"Hello, this is Alice. How may I help you?""
Me: "What was your name again please?" (I'm getting this in case I need verification of my call - I'm so smart!)
Me: "Thank you Alice. OK, here's what I need ..."
After numerous questions:
Alice: "Sorry, I can't help, let me transfer you to the department that handles that."
Me: "OK, thank you again for your help." (I stay very polite because a) this call may be monitored for customer service training and I don't want to be the "worst customer" example they use for training how to deal with crazies, and b) if I'm not nice they may just cut me off "accidentally" and I'll need to go through all of this again.)
I listen to dead silence for several minutes with my fingers crossed, chanting my mantra "hope, hope, hope". In the middle of my chant a dial tone buzzes in my ear with the mechanical message, "If you'd like to make a call, please hang up and dial again." Disconnected! And I was NICE! But like the commander at an old fort surrounded by the enemy who's sending runners out with pleas for help from a neighboring ally, this is only the first attempt and I'm still optimistic that this will go well, if only I can get through to the right person.

Right! I dial the number I have for call 1 again and go through all of the same stuff as before but now I'm even more confused because I don't know which menu option applies to the department I was being transferred to, so I select the same option which I know is wrong, but I'm in a tight spot here and I've cycled through the entire menu 3 times. I go through the whole story again with "Charles" whose department still can't solve my problem so he'll transfer me,etc. 

Me: "Wait! - before you transfer me, please give me a direct dial number for the person who can help me." (I'm finally catching on!) 

I am connected to the next department which also can't help me and will happily transfer me to yet another department that can surely help me. This goes on several times and I still don't have a complete answer to my question about how the charge got there, but they'll credit me the amount in question because I'm such a good customer. 

During these calls I take copious notes including the names of the several employees I've reached. I just know I'll need to refer to them on future calls after I get my next statement and the correction doesn't show up. I take the papers I wanted to clear off my desk and put them in the ever growing "pending" stack (still on my desk in plain view howling at me like a hungry cat that never lets up) and make a note in my calendar to follow up if I don't receive the proper correction on next month's statement.

My morning is shot, it's time for lunch, I'm frustrated, I have even more paperwork on my desk and more notes in my calendar to follow up on. Another non-productive morning and I'm ready for a nap. I have to rest up because calls #2 and 3 have entered the "undone" zone. I'm convinced this is how, a few pennies at a time, the large corporations rake in MILLIONS of dollars from their customers who finally wear out and give up and pay the darned $15.85 - but I'm too cheap to do that so I continue to waste untold hours of my time (which is obviously worth about 3 cents an hour for all of the work I do) to correct an error. Sometimes it is more important to be right so I CAN be happy...

Sunday, February 7, 2010

DD#25: Thoughts...

I want to feel light and happy - all the time. Is that unreasonable? I've been told that we attract to us what we think and on some level I believe it. Our thinking influences everything in our lives - like Henry Ford said, "Whether you think you can or think you can't you're probably right." That's why I want to think happy thoughts and positive thoughts and banish the darker, sadder thoughts - those "what ifs" that plague me when I'm feeling a little low. 

I begin to feel afraid that really bad things will happen to me if I don't straighten up and think happy thoughts. It reminds me of when my mom used to tell me to stop crying. It was like if I stopped crying whatever I was crying about would stop, too. How crazy is that? I just realized that's how I feel when I'm thinking darker stuff - like if I stop thinking or feeling it, whatever is causing it will disappear and I'll feel happy again. 

I'm confused about this and rambling, but it's bubbling up in my head and I wonder where it's taking me - to happy thoughts, sad thoughts, worried thoughts, loving thoughts, this thinking stuff has me in a quandary. I need to change my thinking, but I'm not sure it's possible to attain perpetual happiness and still be real. It's how I know that to be human is to have a full range of feelings and thoughts that take us in every direction, not just a one way street with no signs, cross streets, detours, or alternate routes. Gotta take the bad with the good...

Saturday, February 6, 2010

DD#24: Hanging out

It's a rainy Saturday and I have the golden opportunity to hang around in my jammies all day and do whatever I want to do (or not do). What a gift! I'm looking forward to a day of doing a whole lotta nothin' and enjoying every single minute of my leisure. I promised myself not to feel any guilt - nope, I won't waste a single second of it:>)) Hope you make your day fabulous, too - see ya tomorrow...

Friday, February 5, 2010

DD#23: Yin & Yang

Intro: In 2009 I saw a very funny musical - Avenue Q. It was a laugh out loud kind of funny - funny songs, funny dialogue, funny Muppet-like characters being visibly operated by actors on stage. (It's always amazing to me that even though I can see a person whose hand is making the motion and speaking, my attention is still focused on the puppet!)  Anyway, one of the characters is a recent History major graduate who has moved to NYC to make his fortune and he's broke. During a down moment, he sings "It Sucks to be Me". The lyrics were funny and yet so descriptive of the mood he was in and, of course, I could relate to the times I've been there, too.
On the 2nd Wednesday each  month I facilitate a fantastic group of women - my Miracle Makers Group. I love doing this work so much that it actually energizes me. I'm so uplifted by the time they depart, it takes me quite awhile settle down enough to sleep.

At our January meeting I shared my excitement over how I am feeling at this time in my life. I feel on the edge of a precipice, ready to jump out into the air and fly - to soar - to accomplish something I never dreamed I could do. It's so powerful in me, it's like a premonition for the direction I'm taking. Something HUGE is happening and I'm enlivened by the anticipation of doing what I need to do to welcome it into my life. I expressed that for the first time - ever - its great to be me!

My women friends took turns visualizing wonderful support for my expectation of great things on my horizon. One friend had an image - a vision - that created an incredible vibration in my whole body/mind/spirit and I use it often as a reference point when I get distracted - it brings me back to why I'm here. I'm going to share it with you because I want to see it in print, too.

She saw me standing on a high bluff overlooking the ocean. I was wearing a very feminine, soft, sheer, light dress that was shifting with the breeze and I was surrounded by light. As she looked deeper into the vision she saw that I was directing the ocean below me.

I was stunned and my body was vibrating so rapidly that I was literally shaking with excitement. How could she know that she had seen through my outward expression of me and into my inner realms? 

I have always felt I had a well developed masculine aspect - it was a defense against ever being a victim again. I have been very successful in business by applying this aggressive Mars energy. I covered my fear with anger, driven to compete for everything. Needing to be the "best" at whatever I tried because I didn't think I had any value unless I worked harder, did better, and beat everyone in life.

I've always had some small piece of me that was safe to express as a woman, but I considered it a very small part of my essence. I thought feminine meant weak, clingy, submissive, and dependent. I would never allow myself to be something so pitiful. It would place me in the unsafe position of being victimized. I resented women I thought of as feminine because it seemed they always got what they wanted through manipulation - they didn't have to work for it like I did.

What I've learned over the last year is that there is much strength in feminine softness. There is a resiliency that is remarkable in its power. I can use my voice without a shout or bravado, I don't have to confront anyone to stand up for myself. Misunderstandings don't have to be fueled by anger - communication, asking for what I want or need can be a gentle way using my voice. I've never felt stronger than I do now as I find my power in my feminine - my beauty inside and out and my surrender to that Divine aspect that connects us all. Fear fades and love emerges - it's GREAT to be me...

Thursday, February 4, 2010

DD#22: PNP

Progress not perfection. Those are the words of wisdom that give me a chance to make mistakes and learn from them and move on. That nurturing phrase releases me from my well developed inner critic who says "if you can't do it perfectly, don't do it at all" or "why did you do (say)that you idiot" - that voice in my head that tells me I'm not enough.

I've written about the fine line that's created by my all or nothing thinking - it's like walking a tightrope where I'm balanced precariously just waiting for a little breeze to send me into the free-fall of my reaction mode. I've been working on the difference between reacting and responding and am always guaranteed another opportunity to practice my newly developed skill. Reactions are fear-based - from my intellect - ego driven. Responses are faith-based - from my heart - my spiritual connection.

Every time I encounter an occasion to practice responding I can take a breath and remember that in my recovery I strengthen my spiritual connection with love. Progress not perfection widens my path of recovery - it removes me from the tightrope and gives me so much more latitude to take small diversions to explore amazing new areas of my life where I can mistakes, laugh, learn and move on and that lets me get better at other things. More will be revealed and I can't wait! Oh, wait - that was a reaction, my response to this wider path is GRATITUDE...

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

DD#21: Habits

Wow! I'm at the 3 week mark. Blogging is on its way to becoming a habit. Speaking of habits, I was wondering whether it takes longer to make a habit or break a habit. My thinking is that it probably depends upon how long I've been living with the habit and how much of my life is impacted by the habit. Sometimes habit is another word for addiction. Breaking a habit or an addiction used to give me the opportunity to do some swappin'. What will I get if I give up that? I was pretty short sighted, seeking immediate gratification - something tangible. My short sightedness translated into a reluctance to be motivated by intrinsic reward - I tended to fall into the extrinsic, quick trade-off. I was looking at the bird in the hand vs two in the bush and grabbing for the one I could see and feel right now. Never mind the promises of what I'd get if I just trust...

A perfect example is when I decided to quit smoking. I'd been totally dependent on cigarettes for years. The only time I refrained from smoking during my adult life was from the day I found out I was pregnant until my daughter was 9 months old. I returned to university to finish my bachelor's. A person can't study without a constant stream of snacks and cigarettes, can they? I subjected my daughter to second hand smoke until she was 6 years old. My husband and I both smoked at home, in the car - everywhere. The only time she was free of the smoke was while at school or visiting her grandparents (both reformed smokers). 

The summer she was 6 my ex and I decided to quit smoking. It was his idea and I joined him to be supportive. After a week, he 'sacrificed' himself and lit up again while encouraging me to continue my no smoking campaign. He promised not to smoke around me or my daughter, so I agreed. Now I was in this completely alone because at work 3 of the 4 people in my office smoked at their desks. I used to be one of them, but now I was a traitorous non-smoker that had to suffer in silence. 

In order to stay the course I gave myself permission to actively pursue another bad habit to calm my nerves long enough to make it through the rough first few months on my journey to become a non-smoker. I salved my craving for a cigarette by saying "OK" to as much food as I wanted. I could have anything, anytime, as much as I could cram down to satisfy that huge gaping hole left in my life when I gave up smoking. I told myself that I could gain weight because I knew how to diet and take it off as soon as I got past the desire to smoke. Cigarettes were a much worse habit than eating, weren't they? 

As soon as I justified my swap, I ate my way up an additional 20 pounds in the first month of my newly designated status as a non-smoker. I quit smoking! I was phenomenal! I could do anything! Ha! Watch me now! I couldn't fit into most of my clothes (I still had some of my "big" clothes left over from the last time I'd dieted my way down a couple of sizes.) and I was miserable, but I wasn't smoking so that meant I made a healthy choice. 

Within a couple of months the rubber met the road - I was a non-smoker who was now about 30 pounds heavier added to the already 20 pounds overweight I'd been when I started. See what I mean? It's a trade-off - I let go of the cigarettes and grabbed hold of food in a big way. I'd never done anything with moderation - all on or all off, no middle ground for Toni. There were so many times I agreed to let go of one bad habit only by allowing myself to indulge in another bad habit. 

So for today, I'm grateful that I've learned how to let go of a bad habit and not always replace it with one just as harmful. I'm learning to fill those gaping holes left by releasing an addiction - the big, empty spaces where the roots of it twist and wind through my entire life. I'm filling the holes with things that get me in touch with my connection to the Divine Light and that spark of Divinity in each of us. 

Is there a bad habit you'd like to release without trading for another? Take a look and see how much of your life would be affected if you let go of one bad habit - just one...

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

DD#20: Care...

Last week my mother suffered a mild stroke which left her unable to transfer to and from her wheelchair. After a brief stay at the hospital, she has been admitted to a skilled nursing facility - what we used to refer to as a nursing home. Somehow changing the name didn't change the environment of these places where we can park our aging or sick family members while they recuperate or deteriorate - or worse yet, just wait in a holding pattern in lifeless empty bodies whose souls have already departed. What keeps the body clinging to the earth realm when our souls have moved on?

The sights, sounds and smells of these facilities can be quite unsettling. It's disturbing to hear the shouts and moans of the residents who are disoriented and confused about who and where they are. My first exposure was last September when my mother was there to rehabilitate after a fall. She was coherent then and just needed the physical therapy to bring back her strength so she could return home and manage a minimum of self-care. This time, she's one of the disoriented and confused bed-bound residents and it's a crushing emotional experience to see how fragile and vulnerable she is.

Everything became real watching the extent of my mother's disability. My sister and I were both in tears after signing paperwork where we had to complete the Advance Directive and decide whether, if her condition worsened, we wanted our mother to be fed through a tube or not. Witnessing her condition has made me move into a deeper sense of love for her. It's funny how all the old wounds are quickly forgotten when we fear the loss of a parent. I focus on accepting that she's on her journey and I'm on mine and that we're both held in the loving arms of the Beloved. My gift to her is my care - nurturing, loving support that gives her comfort.

Monday, February 1, 2010

DD#19: Dear Diary...

I seldom know what will come up for me when I start my writing. Most times it's something kind of floating around me and when I start writing it flows through me onto the screen - it's like magic! I used to write longhand - paper and pen or pencil depending on whether I had decided I wanted a permanent record or a temporary one. Most of my writing was fueled by deep pain or anguish over some person, place, or situation in my life. I never wrote when I was happy or excited - just mournful missives to myself (how's that for great alliteration?) and very private.

Thinking back on my writing history I realized that it all started with my Christmas wish for a Diary. It felt like such a commitment to me and I was ecstatic when I unwrapped it. It was dark green faux leather with gilded scroll work and page edges. Gold letters spelled out "One Year Diary" and I thought how amazing it would be to have a whole year of my life recorded. As I held it in my hands, the weight of it felt substantial and best of all it had a lock and key. As a result of my experiences, trust was a major issue for me and I simply didn't trust anyone. My sense of privacy was always at risk - anyone could hurt me if they knew these very private thoughts.
I found a safe place to hide the key before I even wrote in it.

I remember my first entry: January 1st, 1958, then I joyfully recorded the day my sister was born on February 9th and bits and pieces in it over the next several years. It was a one year diary, but my entries were scattered here and there when I'd take the time to write about some boy I was in love with, a friend who'd hurt my feelings, my first kiss - you know, important events.

One day when I was about 25 a care package arrived from my mom and concealed in all of the wrapping paper and other stuff was this treasure trove of memories. The incredible thing was that it was still locked. I'd locked it so it would be safe from all prying eyes - these were my secrets and could ruin my life if someone read them!

Somewhere in the few things I'd carted with me through many moves was the diary key. Divine Guidance (although I didn't know it at the time) sent me directly to the old jewelry box I'd kept and there was the key - the passage through time travel - back to a time before all of the bad choices and unhappiness. Back to the joy I felt when my sister was born and the surprise and thrill I felt with that first love and first kiss.

I felt lighter as I leafed through the pages smiling at how innocent I was. The heaviness of my life lifted and freed me to remember the good times I'd written about in my diary - the things I'd considered important - love, friends, family and the joy they bring. No guilt, no recriminations, no painful choices to regret - just simplicity even in the trauma and complexity of my home life. In those times I was still able to focus on the best parts of my life and write about them. How resilient children and young people are. How much hope I had for all of the wonderful things I had waiting for me out there in the big world. I wanted to have that hope again - that blind faith that life will give us what we want; we only need ask. I wanted to believe in me.

It took me several decades of painful research to believe and have hope again. This time it's not with the innocence of youth, it's with the wisdom of experience and learning from my many mistakes. It's from taking what I learn and making it mine. I'm a flexible and resilient Crone and proud of it...