What Is Right With Me

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So often in life we concentrate on what is wrong with us – the things we cannot do, our shortcomings and our foibles. We examine our “issues” so often that we can recite them in our sleep and as the list grows sometimes it feels like there is so much “wrong” that we don’t know what we can possibly do to change what we have told ourselves is “fact.” So what if today, we changed things up a bit and decided to concentrate on all that is “right” with us. How would that influence our beliefs about ourselves and make a “so-so” day into one that shines and puts little skip in our steps.

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Here is my list for today in no particular order. I would love to see yours in the comments section.

  1. I am a good researcher. I find things others can’t.
  2. I am a good friend. I can keep a secret better than anyone.
  3. I am interested in others lives and enjoy being attentive to their experiences.
  4. I am interesting. I have a breadth of knowledge about many things and I try to keep up with current events.
  5. I am a fierce Momma Bear and advocate for my children and march on in my efforts when others would have given up.
  6. I fight for the things that I love.
  7. Family is important to me and I try to make sure that those I love know that they are valued and loved by me.
  8. I love to travel, meet people, and learn from my experiences.
  9. If a puzzle needs to be solved I am your gal.
  10. I am not afraid to walk up to a person and start a conversation.
  11. I am fun and do the unexpected like take photos of my friends who could not attend our group event, blow their pictures up, staple them to sticks, and carry them through the city with me photographing them at places like the CHEERS BAR in Boston.
  12. I am smart.
  13. I recognize and honor my intuitiveness.
  14. I work hard when something needs to be done.
  15. For the most part I am content with what I have and have no need to “keep up with the Joneses.”
  16. I know how much that I really don’t know.
  17. I am compassionate with loved ones and strangers.
  18. I am a good writer.
  19. I try to stay in touch with others and send cards and letters to others so that they know that they are on my mind.
  20. I work hard at preserving my family history so that my family can learn from our past.
  21. I am able to self-hypnotize so that I can quickly relax and get to a peaceful state of mind.
  22. When I do get down in spirit I work hard to lighten the load so I can return to a place of happiness.
  23. I do small things for myself (like a warm candle-lit bath) on a regular basis.
  24. I read on a regular basis.
  25. I exercise often.
  26. I am a seeker
  27. I sing well.
  28. Integrity is important to me. I try hard to be fair and honest.

Hopefully after making this list you too will see that there is so much good in and around you that when things become challenging you can whip out your list and give yourself a boost to face the coming day. We all have our gifts which need to be acknowledged and celebrated far more often than we do. In remembering what is good about ourselves we can offer it to others or wrap those things around our own selves like a blanket on a cold rainy day. For knowing ourselves gives us the ability to live freely so that what we do aligns with who we are. Amen!

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Hunt And Peck

So I had my shoulder surgery last Thursday and along with it a steady supply of good pain forgetting drugs which pretty much explains why I have not been writing along with the fact that I am pretty much reduced to hunt and peck which is truly a pain in the ass. There you go…the longest sentence known to mankind.Photo on 11-15-17 at 9.53 AM

Seems as though I am going to be wearing my new fashion accessory for at least another month which means that words are short and sweet…and I am not! This reminds me of when I broke my tailbone and had to carry around a blue rubber donut to sit on for six months and everyone assumed i had a terrible case of hemorrhoids. Let’s face it pain makes you grumpy and when you take meds to dull the pain you get constipation so everything kind of sucks all the way around…except girlfriends…who allow you to cry on their sofa about the state of your marriage, cover you with a nice warm blanket, and hold your heart for you while it is crumbling into a million pieces. And while B has been taking care of me his heart is not in it…he just wants to leave…and I can feel his heaviness in the air, between the sheets, and in his touch.

 

His girl friend (not girlfriend) of 33 years says “Really? Thirty years and now he wants to go? I mean, shit, most people cant make it 30 minutes! What makes it so unbearable at thirty years that he just can’t get over it?”

The only answer I can give is that he wants something else…he doesn’t know what…just anything but this. Anything that reminds him he is a perceived ‘failure’ at something as sacred as marriage.

And so….(this is where you write the end of the story because I’m too tired and need to take a happy pill) Besides, I bet your ending will be much better than mine.

 

Fast Pitch

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Well the condo is looking pretty good these days…wish I could say the same about myself.

It all started when I was on a ladder in the shower painting (a lovely shade of very pale gray, if I do say so myself.) Because laziness is a basic necessity while painting; I tend to stretch and paint rather than go up and down the ladder creating unnecessary stress on my knees. It would appear at my age that this type of thinking is a big mistake. For as I was reaching far further than the span of my wings; I fell backwards off the ladder and as I did, my armpit went over the door frame to the shower, while my body went forward. Ouch! Okay, it felt worse than ouch it was more like OUCH!

All week my shoulder and arm hurt but I kept thinking it would feel better soon. The next weekend I decided to be playful and tried to wrestle my husband on the beach. He promptly flipped me over like a grill master with a hamburger and as he did he accidently pushed down on my shoulder. OUCH!

And so for the past two months I have been in pain. Pain sleeping, when putting on my seatbelt, when reaching up, etc. Constant unrelenting pain that I have grinned and bared with grace.

Finally, I decided to go to the doctor who promptly sent me for an MRI which confirmed that I had a slap tear to my bicep. This would be fine except for the fact there is nothing that they can do but surgery in which they cut the bicep in the back, place a screw in your shoulder and re-attach the muscle into the screw. If you choose not to do the surgery, eventually that tear starts fraying and ” sawing” into other areas in the vicinity creating even worse damage resulting in a more comprehensive surgery with even more down time. As it is I will be in a sling for 4-6 weeks as this muscle kind of grows into the screw.

Surgery is set for November. The same weekend B and I were to go away together. Instead, I will be snoozing, with the help of some pain pills, in bed by myself. Another weekend shot. But I am okay with that because I am “re-inventing” myself and plan on telling everyone that the injury was due to my incredible 100 mile-per-hour fastball pitch which sounds much more impressive than falling off a ladder.  Even better, I will be stronger both mentally and eventually physically after mending and maybe this ole’ dog might even be able to learn some new tricks!

Life is good even when its not!

Trying To See The Light Through The Flames

I have to admit I am still searching for the light that is missing in this box into which I have crawled. Sadness seems to be the one emotion that I still feel. I am weary of being with a man who no longer loves me. The weariness lives in the marrow of my bones sucking them dry the richness of life squeezed out of them.

This weekend I was suppose to have a girls get together at my house on the coast. Everyone bailed. There was one reason or another and with this; I realized that there was not one person I could depend on. Not my husband, not my kids, not my friends…and I vagely thought about how I had better start depending on myself alone. So I headed up to the house. Me, myself and I.

As I got closer to San Francisco the air became thicker, filled with the smoke of the fires burning in Napa, Sonoma, and Santa Rosa. Some of my favorite places in the world up in flames. You could smell charred houses, burnt grapes and the bodies of those who were unaccounted for. Lives once vibrant and hopeful now trying to figure out what they will do without their homes,without their jobs and all their earthly possessions gone. Ninety six thousand displaced people all living in survival mode.

I took the back way on Hwy 1 instead of my usual route through Santa Rosa knowing that the I did not want to witness all the devastation. Nor did I want to get trapped on a highway that could become an inferno. So I drove along the blue waters of the coast, skipping all the unpleasantness except those kinds of thoughts rattling around in my head.

I arrived here in time to watch the sun set on the ocean with bats dancing to Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake in the nighttime sky and the waves of the ocean beating like drums as they broke against the rocky shore. I grabbed a bottle of vodka and drank to 30 years of marriage that is in the same predicament as  Thelma and Louise hitting the gas and driving off a cliff into uncertainty.

The next morning was beautiful and as I walked the cliffs I started to feel like myself again as the mist in the air washed over me, cleansing my soul. As I ambled on, the winds began to pick up and I thought about all those firefighters 50 miles away who would soon be battling them along with the intense heat of the ash as it rained down from the sky.

Soon an old lady came into view. I judged her to be about 80 and she was carrying a jet-black cane over her head. We passed one another with a smile and a nod; each continuing our own way with our own thoughts. A mile later we met again as we retraced or steps but this time I asked her “Why are you carrying your cane over your head?”

“To remind me how strong I am,” was the answer.

“Why do you need reminding of that?” I asked “you look strong enough to me that I wouldn’t want to take you on in a back alley somewhere.”

She chuckled as she began to explain that she was a fire evacuee staying with a friend. On Sunday, in the dead of night, she was awakened by the fire fighters from the station two doors down who were banging on her door.

“You have got to get out. You have got to leave now,” they ordered.

She wrapped a house coat around herself, grabbed a pair of pants, a shirt and her shoes,  went into the bathroom and grabbed her toothbrush. Then she picked up her purse, called the dog and left her house.

“It’s all gone now,” she tells me with not an ounce of pity in her voice.

“Why did I get my toothbrush?” she looks at me and asks the question as if I might provide an answer that would satisfy her.

“I needed my medicines but left those behind. Yet, I took time to get my toothbrush. A $1.50 toothbrush,” she says with a shake of her head and a laugh. “Crazy isn’t it!”

She tells me that her Grandmother’s china is gone along with her deceased husband’s favorite books, her wedding dress, and everything else she owned in the world. Pictures of her children on their first day of school, her collection of salt and pepper shakers, all her clothes and her piano at which she sang to start every morning.

“But I will sing again,” she assures me with a smile. “For I am strong and I am happy and I am ALIVE!!!!” she says with a great belief in herself  and sense of joy that literally takes my breath away.

“I will begin again and who knows what I will become? Opportunity is banging at my door just like those firemen did,” she says with determination and grace as she heads off down the trail.

“It’s never too late to re-create yourself,” she yells back at me with a smile.

Later that day I offer my house up to any family who might need it. I talk on the telephone to a man who skirted the police blockades just to return to his house and sift through the ashes that now contain the contents of his entire life.

“I found my son’s bronzed baby shoes,” he informs me along with a few other trinkets of a life that felt meaningful and alive to him.

“We will just have to start over,” he tells me a sob stiffelled in his throat.

And although he cannot see me I find myself nodding my head at his words. For many times in our lives we are forced to start over, not of our own choosing, but because of forces that intrude unexpectantly. We can choose to see sorrow as an opportunity or we can wallow in our own misery until the end of time ultimately robbing ourselves of our accomplishments and the ability to morph into something we might not have expected… Someone better. Someone Kinder. Someone Wiser. And Someone who depends on themselves for their own happiness and to create a satisfying life no matter what is thrown in our way.

Today I met so many amazing people…. survivors and volunteers alike. And in these meetings I came away blessed. I hope they will be too.

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P.S. Thank you to all the fire fighters, healthcare workers, inmates, sheriff departments and all the volunteers who have saved lives while risking theirs.

 

 

 

 

Dreams Of The Past And The Future

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When we were young B and I could never have enough projects. They kept us busy and talking to one another about the different aspects that we needed to consider when we were working together. We tore out the kitchen of a cabin we bought, we built a house in the mountains, we started a winery and built the building to go with it. We were busy, tired, and often content with the manner in which our lives were progressing.

These days B is done with projects. He wants nothing to do with them. I suspect some of this stems from having to leave behind our hard work for others to enjoy when we did not yet have that pleasure. Moving for B’s career made us give up some of these comforts and dreams. Not being able to experience the joy of our labors made it more difficult for B to keep up the hard work, determination, and faith that building requires. And I think that stress at work has limited his enthusiasm for projects.

However, recently we decided to sell a property that we have owned for about seven years. This has entailed ripping our a kitchen and installing new cabinets, countertops and backsplash. We have had to repaint the entire place put up new lighting fixtures and vents in all the rooms. It has been a huge undertaking but it has paid off with some unexpected dividends…a closeness that has been missing and the chance to re-visit all of the amazing things we have accomplished together. This isn’t to say that everything is perfect. It isn’t. But it is nice to experience some of our “old selves” again and it is nice to be engaged with one another once more. I have missed this over the past several years. I have missed just being with B and watching him sweat as we struggle to hang a cabinet. I miss having dreams which are flavored with the smell of hard work and the sweetness of a job well done. I have forgotten how just spending time together made me feel connected and how my admiration for my husband would soar when all we worked for came to fruition. And it occurs to me that the respect I feel for this man, who, when exhausted, keeps giving his all, is immense and inspires me to do my best too.

I wish we could work together more. Find new projects to create together. I don’t know that it has to be building but something… anything that will plant new seeds to understanding, respect and appreciation.  I thirst for finding commonalities again with the man that I love. I understand why B wants to lay down his hammer but for me these undertakings  that we embark on together give me a sense of hope and purpose. And even though I can barely move after a day of hard work I would gladly down numerous Tylenol just to spend quality time with B once again. For when we work together I see deeper more personal glimpses of the man I fell in love with and I hope he sees the same in me and it also feels as if there is nothing that we cannot accomplish.

 

I’m Depressed

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I’m depressed. There. I said it. I’m depressed.

Frankly, it worries me as I have never allowed myself to go there. With so many people depending on me and a sister who spent time in a mental hospital; I have never before let myself plumb the depths of the despair I am feeling. However, now I am trying to give myself permission. Permission to explore what is on the other side of two years of marriage chaos and confusion. Permission to grieve for dreams that have been pushed aside by reality and for children who struggle due to the challenges of autism. Permission to just feel what I need to feel, even if it hurts. And permission to feel those deep rooted emotions and to not intellectualize my feelings as all the intellectualizing I do just makes me hurt worse.

I will confess this intense feeling of sadness scares me to my core. Not because I am afraid to feel those lows but because when you have had a family member who has experienced hospitalization due to her mental health issues and you have spent years dealing with hers…well, I just don’t want to put my family into that vat of pain and helplessness you can’t help but feel when surrounded with all of that. Yet, my therapist said to me that I have the skill set to survive if not thrive while looking at those things that make me uncomfortable and sad. And after reading Thomas Moore’s The Dark Night Of The Soul I know that there is plenty to be gained by going there for a brief respite. But still, I hesitate, my feet in cement for fear of going in too far or deep. For fear of becoming like my sister. Of letting people down.  Of not “performing” the requirements that are expected in this one act play that I am living.

I know I need to take a look at what is coming up from the depths of my soul. I know that I need to allow myself to feel these intense feelings. I suspect that it is similar to drilling for oil while trying to contain the amount that surfaces at one time. And its also acknowledging  that what comes up will have to be refined in different ways depending on how it will be used. And I acknowledge that any spills that occur will give me new skills to better contain the overflow the next time.

If I had my way I would stay in bed for a week and pull the covers over my head. I would play every sad song I have ever heard and have a Bailey’s on the rocks sitting on my bed stand sipping it over several hours. Oh hell, maybe I would guzzle it instead. That is what I wanted to do today. BUT…I had to make breakfast and lunch for everyone, take them to school, take a kid to the doctor and another to get her allergy shots. I had to wait for the dryer repairman, do the dishes, and mop the floor. I had to pay bills, get the oil changed and attend a meeting. Tomorrow it is more of the same.

So, here I sit, one toe half in and half out of this deep sadness. This depression. Perhaps if I am brave enough I will step on in and let it take me where I need to go.  To places I have never visited but probably should. Only afterwards will I understand that there are things to be gained from examining things below the surface. And who knows…I may just strike the motherlode while I am exploring with the sheets making the perfect tent in which to hide away from the world.

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Attaching With Nothing In Mind

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Okay, I will admit it. I have a slight attachment issue that stems from childhood that I am working on with my therapist. This issue makes trust more difficult for me than the average bear.  It puts doubt ahead of belief and fear ahead of calmness. Needless to say, with the odd things that have been happening of late regarding my marriage; my attachment issues have been magnified. Not to the point of  extreme anxiety but enough to make me feel uncomfortable that I can trust what I see in this relationship.

You would think I would have attachment down. After all, I adopted four children and worked extremely hard on creating an environment in which attachment could occur as easily as possible. I read every book ever written on it. And I followed all the advice on how to attach to a child who has been through trauma. Turns out, I should have been working on myself in regards to my adult relationships too.

This week I told my therapist, “Let’s get on with this. Let’s not dance around the edges of these attachment issues. Let’s tackle them head on.”

“You have been,” she replied. “You are learning to attach to yourself again.”

“I want more.”

So she gave me this assignment.

Just work on accepting the moments that are good. When B reaches for my hand, don’t question the act; just savior the moment. Notice what it feels like in that moment. Accept the emotions that you feel. Don’t analyze, just enjoy.

Well, of course, I had to push back.

“Why attach myself to someone who may not want me? Surely, if we divorce it will make it hurt all the more,” I moaned.

“You need to do this for yourself to feel closeness if only for a minute,” said THERAPIST. “You become more attached to yourself when you are able to let down your guard and discover yourself through your relationship. This process opens yourself up to you. You owe it to yourself to go work your way through it so you can become a stronger you.”

And so I am giving it a try with my whole heart. Just accepting his love, his touch, his words without over analyzing, questioning, or doubting. It is hard after being together for so long and both having a way that we interact with one another.

I’ll let you know how it goes as I try to trust myself and this process.

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Rekindle Your Inner Spirit

 

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If you are like me everyday there are a million things to do. The list of things to do seems to get longer by the day. On those days where I am feeling bogged down by life, sometimes I feel a little sorry for Santa and his list of “wants” from all the little girls and boys on this earth. So many expectations, so little time. This is life today.

It is unfortunate that in this age we live in a society that values things over people, success over integrity and being busy over making time for ourselves. It is sad that we live in a world in which taking the time to commune with ourselves is pushed aside for things that are less meaningful and valuable to our spirit and our soul. Way too often we neglect the ” inner being” or “spirit” within us to our own detriment and ignore that place inside to whom we are suppose to go for answers, inspiration, and to just sit with while listening for those things that will bring us a deep sense of happiness. Too often we ask others for advice; trusting their “wisdom” over our own and forgetting to appreciate all that our inner being will share with us if we will just listen. Sadly, we also neglect to feed our inner spirit with those things that delight it.

I have been practicing taking the time to listen to my spirit for nearly a year now. It can be a hard thing to do. But I find when I take the time to commune with myself that often things are revealed to me that are greatly needed which causes my stress level to drop and a sense of peace to inch into those pieces of me that are run down and tired. I also find that I trust myself more because I know that I can count on my spirit to do what is best for me and to provide answers that will comfort and provide reassurance to the parts of my soul that are open and seeking. I find if I listen I discover that I am traveling the path I am meant to be on.

So today do yourself a favor. Make some quiet time for yourself and listen to what your inner spirit is trying to tell you. Then act on it and look for ways throughout the day that answers are put directly in front of you confirming what you have been told. For there is nothing more beautiful in this world than a woman who can trust in her inner being to guide her gently to her true and authentic self.

Amen!

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Living With Joy

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The last couple of weeks have been busier than usual. These days I find that I practically live in my car which is why I would love to have an old VW bus to decorate to my heart’s content as a travel around the world each year. Between school car pools, sports carpools, and the like, I put over 50,000 miles on my vehicle last year and I am going to be putting on more this coming year. Why? My new “job.”

My son, West, says I cannot call it a “job” since it is a volunteer position.

“Not the same as a real job Mom!” he exclaims.

I beg to disagree.

I have started working for an end-of-life provider. My job is to go visit people, spend time with them, read to them, do dishes…whatever makes their lives a little more comfortable. This is right up my alley.

Many years ago when I worked in a long-term ventilator care unit I spent time with the dying. I thought there was nothing more tragic than dying alone so when I knew someone was on their way out I used to spend time with them so when they crossed over they were not all by themselves. We don’t come into the world alone and I don’t think we should go out of it alone either. Just my humble opinion.

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Admittedly, I will probably not be with any of my new friends when they die. But I hope that I can make them laugh a little, help them cry a little, or tell their life stories if that is what they need to do. I am fine with it all and I am exciting for this chance to give of myself in whatever way is needed.

This week has also brought our family to its knees. My sweet niece (I’ll call her Sally) is an amazing woman married to a wonderful man (I’ll call him Joe). They have four young children. This holiday weekend Joe was seriously injured in an accident and has been designated an Asia B in regards to paralysis. This morning he is once again in surgery his second in three days. It brings home the fact that life as we know it is often fleeting and can change in an instant. It reminds me that those I love are so much more important than the everyday irritations that life brings our way. Irritations that distract us and take up time best spend on other things like the people that bring meaning to our lives.

Think of this… if you live to be 80 years old that would be a life span of 960 months or about 29,000 days long. For me, that means if I am lucky, I have a little less than 8,500 days left on this earth.  When I can see the “actual”  number of days I have left suddenly it seems like a shockingly brief period of time. And when I think back to the number of days that have been spent worrying about things that never came to pass I cringe. Life was never meant to be a struggle yet so many of us live like that is all it us.  Struggle is what Joe is facing. Everyday ordinary life is not a struggle for most people in the United States.

So today, lets all try to live our lives joyously, whole heartedly and with gladness in our souls. Let’s tell our loved ones why we are proud of them and what we love about them. And lets all try to make a difference rather it be big or small. For life is meant to be lived fully and when we practice living fully we find happiness within ourselves… Amen to that!

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The War Of Words

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Recently, I have been thinking back to the days when the boys were young. Those were the days and many of them I would never like to repeat. They were stressful with meltdowns and words that took a cruel aim to the heart.

“I hate you” “I wish you were not my mom” “You’re a whiney little jerk” “Mom, he called me a butt.” Those kinds of things. Normal, yes, but the frequency at our house was 100 times what was normal. It was exhausting.

I remember at one point trying to get the boys to think before they said something. Hard to do when you are seven and in the heat of the moment. Hard for me to do now at 55+ and if I am honest; I have never been a model for saying quiet well-thought-out words.

During these early days of chaotic boyhood, a friend once  told me what she asked her kids when the War of Words was going on. I thought it was genius and wished I had done more of it as they grew up. She would ask her kids:

Is what you said kind?

Is what you said helpful?

Is what you said loving?

Often times just by asking these questions I found I could bring a temporary respite to all the chaos. It was a blessing. It taught my kids that words have meaning and repercussions too.

Recently, I was thinking back to those times and I decided that those questions of yesteryear were valuable not just for kids but for me too and I have been trying to be mindful before I speak by asking myself these questions before spouting off. I have also added two other questions to ask myself before responding to others:

Is what I am about to say true?

What is my motivation (honest) for saying what is on my mind?

Admittedly, it is hard for me to remember to ask myself these questions before talking. Often, I fall far short of where I would like to be. But usually, if I just pause before speaking, I can do a quick inventory in my head of the answers to these questions and decide whether my response is:

True

Honest

Loving

Kind

Helpful

 

If what I am about to say is not any of the above; I am trying to learn to shut my mouth and keep it that way. As a person who has shot from the hip most of her life this is a real learning experience for me. A challenge akin to climbing Mt. Everest. It is not easy. It takes a little bit of awareness and planning. But every time I succeed in being mindful I know I am getting to be one step closer to the person I want to be which gives me hope that maybe one day before I die I will master this ability to speak mindfully and to shut my mouth when needed. But somehow I suspect that it might take my deathbed to figure it all out if even then. Yet, I keep trying because I know for the sanity of all involved that when I am kind, loving, honest, helpful, and true I give the best of myself to those who deserve only the best of me.

Amen (so be it)

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