Slowing Down

I have been moving at a  pretty fast pace lately. Whether it be traveling from one side of the country to the other or in my interactions with those I love; warp seems to be the speed at which I move these days. So I was more than a little ticked when my therapist “suggested” that I take more time in all aspects of my life. In other words…

S L O W

I T

D O W N

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When I wrote B that recent letter I shared with you… I was ready to be done that day, move into a new home the next and be in court a couple of weeks later. That is the way I do things once I decide to do them. Final Decision=Changing My Life For Good.  Let’s cut through the crap and start a new chapter. But my therapist says that type of thinking is self sabotaging and creates more pain in the end. Incidentally, B’s therapist also feels this way.images-7

One example she has given me to highlight this type of thinking is that if you are driving 100 miles per hour you are going too fast to see the little important things along side of the roadway. Things that may influence how fast you continue to drive or if you need to stop or slow down. When you are going that fast nothing is crystal clear and everything becomes a blur. Decision making, instead of being thoughtfully planned out, becomes spur of the moment and as a result it creates pain and suffering. To quote her:

“You have to remember that not all suffering is the same. The suffering you may face from leaving before the time is right may be nothing compared to the years of regret you might have because you didn’t take the time to work through the things that needed to be addressed even if that does result in divorce later on. Usually going at a fast rate of speed only leads to serious pain and regret.”

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According to her, speed will destroy what it is I ultimately want to accomplish.

“If this marriage ends due to knee jerk reactions,” she says “then you will not learn to trust yourself or the decisions that you make. Doing that takes thoughtful planning and seeing each part of the decision-making process come to fruition. That’s when trust in yourself begins to build upon itself when you see things coming together because you took the time to do things right and get what you need in the final outcome.”

And so I am trying to slow down and put into place the things that I want and need for my future. Although I do not know what that future holds I want to be sure that when I get there it contains all the things I need to live this second half of my life on my terms and not to be left holding a speeding ticket because I took the laps too fast.

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The Truth About Ourselves

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During the past 18 months I have learned that sometimes navigating the truth about myself takes me through deep, muddy waters that leaves my soul chilled to the bone. But the wonderful thing is that I can change, if I so choose; all the while knowing that meaningful change takes time. For change is a process, we cannot rush it, and it will happen in its own time.

There is a beautiful prayer I once heard written by a Benedictine nun which goes something like this: “Dear God, show me the truth about myself no matter how beautiful it is.”

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And it is really true that there is beauty in who we are and what we do even if we fail to recognize it. Sometimes it is buried deep and you need a bulldozer to dig it out. Sometimes that beauty sits on the surface of our souls. And sometimes we just have to let a little bit of light in to let it reflect all the amazing facets of our personalities that are like a diamond which shines and dances across the room. Most importantly, we don’t need someone else to validate this beauty in us. It is there for us to enjoy alone if that is what we please.

We can see ourselves as even more beautiful through our own eyes when we view our own truths about ourselves and acknowledge those truths.  Some of those truths will be transitory while others occupy a more permanent place on our journey but the most important thing is to grant ourselves grace while moving forward with eyes and heart wide open and refusing to punish ourselves any further for those times in life when we just didn’t know or do better. We are all imperfect and it is a waste of time to cling to “what was” instead of trying to make “what is” even better.

So with this in mind, today, as I go about these minutes that are granted to me; I will try to be kind to myself because if I can’t even grant that simple thing to myself how can I expect to be kind to others?  I will also try to bring myself into, and be mindful of the present moments that I am witness to, knowing that things are the way they are suppose to be right at this moment in time. And I will bask in these moments of newfound acceptance knowing all the while that change takes time and I am doing the best I can right now to find greater peace and understanding through the transformation that it occurring deep in my soul.

I will be patient.

Sparkle

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Several months ago I wrote about the chandelier that has been sitting in my garage for the past year.  You can read about it here Assigning Meaning To Things

The fact that B knew the emotional significance to me about having this hung and it never was done still stings a little but for the most part I have let it go. He is busy. We are busy and he hates doing electrical. I am giving him the benefit of the doubt that not hanging the chandelier is not an indication as to the depth of his love for me or how he feels about our relationship. It is all I can do.

All this week B has been up at Boy Scout Camp with the boys. He takes a week off of work every year to make sure that they have that experience. It is hot. It is dusty and he has to work very hard to make sure that Andre’s autism does not get in the way of him having fun and building memories. It is a fun week but an emotionally tough one too. Sleeping on cots in tents is no longer my idea of fun so I am grateful that he does this because he loves our kids and wants them to experience all that they can.

While B has been gone this week, I decided to make myself happy. I decided to take a chance on the goodness I see in our relationship and where I think it is headed. So I called out an electrician and…HAD THE DAMN CHANDELIER HUNG!. It looks beautiful. It is shiny and looks perfect in the room. And it makes me happy which is the best reason of all to have hung it. IMG_9903

So there you go…happiness in a box; happiness within me.  May it inspire me to sparkle and shine everyday as it does. For it no longer matters to me who put it up; I am just happy that it is there.

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Be Your Own Gardener

Gone Missing Two

One of the most beautiful cities in America has got to be San Diego, California. We spent the weekend here because Gracie had a swim meet. The city is warm, clean, and has a wonderful mass transportation system. Architecture here is widely held in esteem and The Gaslight District teems with great places to eat and shops that beckon you in to spend those hard-earned greenbacks.

The aqua blue water sparkles and when you head out onto the open seas often you will find yourself surrounded by super pods of dolphins who love to leap up as if in a synchronized ballet as they chase your boat. Big yachts and little dinghies all line the piers and make me sea sick just watching them as they bob up and down. Yes, unfortunately, I am one of the Dramamine girls.

I had picked up B at LAX airport and we headed down to San Diego together. He had flown in from Florida where he had been on business. The next morning we had the car brought up from the valet so we could put our luggage in it and head off to the event which was a ten minute walk away. When we returned five hours later the car was still sitting there…strange.

B goes up to the valet stand.

“Can I have the keys to my car?” he asks handing them his ticket.

“Is that your car?”

“Yes it is”

“Well, sir, you have the keys. That is why we did not move it.”

“No, I don’t have the keys. You do. You brought my car around so we could put our luggage in it. I never had the keys. Your valet kept them. They were never in my possession.”

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And so it went. No one had the keys to the car. Not a soul. All 200 sets on the board were checked. All 200 sets were pushed so lights would come on. No keys for 30 minutes. ANYWHERE. I emptied my purse just in case. That was a major ordeal but I did find a pair of missing eyeglasses, a coupon for a free car wash, and $7.38 cents in change; so it was not all in vain. But still no keys. Just as the discussion turned to hiring  a locksmith the trunk suddenly popped open…seems the keys had fallen on the floor and had been kicked under the desk. Keys found…crisis solved.

We headed back to LAX where B had left the car. The day he left Los Angeles he was almost late after being in standstill traffic for close to an hour. He raced into the airport,found a rooftop parking space and ran inside but now five days later there was no car to be found. ANYWHERE.

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You have to understand there are a total of seven parking garages at LAX.  Each garage consists of approximately five floors. We started at Garage 4 the one he swore he parked at. He turned white as a sheet when it was obvious that his car was not there and started muttering under his breath. I remained calm.We went through each and every floor hitting the horn button on the key fob. Nothing. Okay, well maybe it was Garage 6. He was in a hurry after all and it was also a garage that served American Airlines. I began to silently meditate.

We drove to the top open air parking where he swore he had been. Nothing. Same procedure…hitting the horn button as we went up and down floor after floor. Again nothing. B is more distressed while I remained calm and murmuring words of love and support. We have now been searching for 45 minutes and racking up fees as we go through each gigantic garage.

Garage Number 5 was our next place to explore. It didn’t have a rooftop but we went through it anyway. No car. B insisted that it was in the area but we had begun to wonder if perhaps it had been stolen by this time. We went to the attendant and inquired if they had anyway of checking what cars were parked where. Seems they did…only you had to know the license plate number and B did not since it was a company car.

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Enough was enough. By this time we all needed to pee. Badly. So we got out of the car, found our way to the bathroom and then joined B as he re-traced his steps. He swore he had come in through a walk-way over the street and when we took the escalator up there it was. We walked back through it and came to an open air parking garage and after searching a minute or so we located the car in a space that seemed to be inaccessible from Garages 4,5, or 6. There wasn’t even a proper marking of the space. WTH?

I have to say I was proud of myself. Whereas in the past I might have gotten frustrated and upset matching B’s angst as it rose. Instead, I made a point to be supportive and calm. While in the past I may have said something I may have later regretted like, “This is why you always take a picture of your parking space so you can find it again,” I remained mute of the helpful advice. So while pieces of me have gone missing (read the post prior to this) perhaps this is a good thing. And when trying to find and put the pieces of ME back together I think some empty spaces may be prudent so they can be filled with some kinder and gentler fragments to complete the puzzle that is the new and improved ME. The ME I CHOOSE to be.

 

Jigsaw Puzzle of Life

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We never enjoyed doing jigsaw puzzles until this summer when my 90 yo aunt introduced us to them while we sat on the summer porch looking over the lake. After that, Gracie and I were hooked.

There is nothing quite like time spent doing a jigsaw. Life slows down, your senses are heightened and magic begins to happen as an image slowly begins to form. All that hard work and in the end you see the results unlike so many things we do in life in which we never “see” what we actually do. But the best thing about the jigsaw that happens is the time that Gracie and I spend together. We sit in near silence except for the “eureka” that is voiced triumphantly when we find an elusive piece.And sometimes in this quiet time a different type of magic occurs and little bits of conversation emerge that never would otherwise.

“Mom,” she says with a sense of pain and frustration that catches the words in her soft little voice, “Celeste (her nemesis) asked me in front of my friends, “Can you see out of your eyes?”

I give a snort of indignation.

“So what did you say?”

“I told her, what, do you see me with a white cane or something? How can you ask such a stupid question?”

“Well done. I hate when people try to get our goat and I am proud that you didn’t let her.”

These are the types of conversations that my tween and I have as we stare at 1,000 little pieces scattered over one small card table. Brief, sweet, insightful…I hear things I normally wouldn’t have as we sit in the silence together. It’s perfect amount for a 12 yo who is not sure she needs her mother anymore and enough for me not to put my foot in my mouth and say something unnecessary or unneeded. And in that, I realize our words together are a lot like those jigsaw pieces…small, misshapen, but often fitting together until a picture is created. And that is enough for both of us right now.

A No Negativity Day

urlPema Chodron

One of the things that Pema Chodron talks about on her Udemy lecture is exceedingly difficult but excitingly profound.

Chodron says that once a week we should strive to not talk or act out of a place of negativity and that by refusing to act out of negativity it creates a sense of heightened awareness. This is especially true to observe in regards to ourselves. None of that negative self-talk (I should have know, I should have done better, I am so stupid…or whatever it is you say to yourself that is done in a negative state of mind) is helpful; its only destructive. Chodron states that when we engage in negative self talk we are just throwing kerosine on the fire of our soul.

When you are going through an “almost divorce” it is difficult to not engage in self-talk that is defeating and detrimental. The “what-if’s” and accusations of all that is wrong with the relationship and YOU are difficult to not take on when a monsoon of sadness and negativity is swirling around you. But in order to see things with a new perspective and to gain our grounding we must.

So let’s challenge each other to each live tomorrow (Friday) within the positive instead of the negative. Then on Saturday we can go back to being as negative as we desire LOL!

Sit with the Frustration

frus·tra·tion
frəˈstrāSH(ə)n/
noun
  1. the feeling of being upset or annoyed, especially because of inability to change or achieve something.

As I go back over the notes I have written during my therapy sessions one thing is abundantly clear. My therapist keeps reinterating that I need to sit with the frustration I am feeling and just be. Another thing that remains abundantly clear is I STILL struggle with this. I guess I am rather like a two year old… I want what I want, when I want it. And this means NOW.images-2

Coming from a family where life and death hung in the balance by only the newest that science could offer; that lack of control and unsettledness continues to effect me in ways that I am still unpacking and just beginning to understand. When you have life-threatening illness at your doorstep for years it doesn’t stop banging on the door just because the patient is doing better. In my case I was not the very ill child, my sister was. But in those days parents tried to protect their other children from “the truth” believing that they shouldn’t have those burdens put on them at such a young age. However, in my case, the lack of true understanding and knowledge lead to envisioning things in my mind that were probably worse than any real facts would have been. And basically since that time I have spent my life trying to mitigate surprises and always planning ahead. Frankly, this just doesn’t appear to be compatable with sitting in the silence, sitting with the unknown or sitting with frustration very well. I want purpose and I want action…NOW DAMN IT!

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Making this “sitting with frustration” even worse is that I am suppose to wait until B makes his own discoveries about himself and his own truths instead of spoon feeding my perception of the truth to him. His process is suppose to be his own process but like a famous Hollywood director I have the script already written and filmed in my mind about how the scene is suppose to go. And because feelings are on the periphary for him which makes any sort of immediate action of self-discovery difficult; I am afraid that this film is going to be WAY OVER BUDGET both emotionally and financially.

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And so I sit. Tired and frustrated. Tired of sitting. Tired of waiting. Tired of thinking about all this sitting when suddenly it occurs to me that B is probably just as tired of waiting for me to just sit. What a gift it could be it I could just be comfortable being in this limbo and in doing so freeing him up to make his own discoveries on his own timetable instead of feeling the silent pressure of my discomfort in sitting having to sit with my frustration. This realization sends a shiver of freedom down my stiff spine as I contemplate what it would be like to let others set their own timetables instead of trying to get them run on mine. And just like a passenger waiting for a delayed train getting annoyed at the situation isn’t going to change a thing and it certainly isn’t going to get the train there any faster. So today..a breakthrough… I finally “get” that I must tolerate this frustration without disappointment or anger because in the end I am not in control of it anyway.

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Teens & Alarm Clock Hell…266 Days To Fix This

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Somehow, I have become everyone’s personal alarm clock and I don’t like it one bit. Waking up my children has suddenly become a major chore. I don’t know what it is about teenage-hood but the fact is that everything moves slower on them, their ears stop picking up the decibels emitted from my vocal cords and their bones seem to collapse in upon themselves rendering them unable to hoist their bodies out of bed.

It used to be that I could bellow up the stairs and it would work.

“Kids, it’s a lovely day. Time to get up!”

Three minutes later their shiny smiling faces would be standing next to me, sweet sleep still filling their eyes. Now, I have to climb the stairs to hell to bring them down myself. In short, the trip up the stairs feels like being led to the gallows.

With Paul the first exchange of the morning usually goes something like this:

“Honey, time to get up!”

Nothing moves, nothing stirs. Mom walks over to teens bed and shakes him where he kicks his foot striking me somewhere in the thigh. I am still unable to determine if this is a voluntary or involuntary act.

“Paul, time to get up. Come on baby. Let’s go. Move out!”

GROAN. Slight twitch of left toe.

Shake again.

LOUDER GROAN. Slight twitch of right toe and so it goes until each part of his body has twitched but not yet moved.

“Come on baby. Rise and shine!”

“OKAY I AM GETTING UP NOW LEAVE ME ALONE!”

Fifteen minutes later I am still the only one down in the kitchen, the countdown to the bus has begun and I’m starting to burn like the bagel I put in the toaster 5 minutes ago.

In an attempt to remedy this hell of a routine I take taken many paths of desperation including LOUD alarm clocks that could wake the dead but somehow fail to wake my teens. I have cuddled with each child as they snore on. I have rung bells and I have banged drums. I have even resorted to ice cold water spray bottles which have resulted in nothing but an ugly attitude that manages to last into the wee hours of the next morning.

Is there no way out of this hell?

People tell me that I will miss all this when everyone is gone and out of the house but I doubt it. Because by the time the last one leaves the nest we will be retired and probably very weary of this lack of time management on the part of our teens.  Yet, I do hold out hope that the future will bring with it an uncomplicated way to start out my day. And, if it is true about what the experts say about the aging process, I suspect I will still hear, “OKAY! OKAY! I AM GETTING UP!” as I drift in and out of sleep. Only this time, those words will be uttered by a incredibly horny and somewhat naked 65-year-old man. And frankly this will be fine by me because instead of being the bell ringer it will be nice to once again have someone RING MY BELL to wake ME up in the morning.

A Marriage Of Stone

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Recently, I have started hand sanding rocks as a hobby. These are not ordinary rocks mind you, but Petoskey Stones direct from Lake Michigan. The Petoskey also has the distinction of being the state rock. These prehistoric fossil rocks were created long before dinosaurs roamed the earth and comprised of six-sided corallites. I love them.

The interesting thing about these rocks are that they are pretty ugly until given the care that they need. They often look like deeply pitted gray blobs while laying under the cold water but upon close inspection you can often just make out the outline of something more wonderful to come. My kids and I love scooping them out of the lake and lining our pockets, heavy with the weight of promise, as we make our way home.

Once home I begin the sanding process. Professionals use special tumblers as the rock can disintegrate if care is not taken. I just sand with ordinary sand paper. I start with 80 grit and move upwards until I reach a grit so fine it almost feels smooth as glass. Ever so slowly I sand away the imperfections of the rock, moving in a circular motion, like water carrying particles down the drain. As I remove layer upon layer the picture of what’s to come gets clearer and I can begin to see the exquisite beauty of each stone. Sometimes it takes days or weeks to get that kind of clarity.

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Marriage is a little like those rocks. Marriages are held together with layers of our personal marital history melded with the fossils of our past. Often a long-lived marriage looks like it has come right out of the water…cold, wet, pockmarked and oftentimes so ugly and plain you think about just throwing it back. But then you remember that with a little patience, effort, time and care you will begin to see each small component of the whole looking shiny and bright. Finally, after much polishing and nurturing the beauty of your stone/marriage comes to life and you can see what all that hard work has brought you…something precious, lovely and beautiful to look at..a showpiece that the two of you have created from something that came before.

And all it took to see such beauty was a little elbow grease and a lot of faith that there was something better underneath.