Thursday, September 29, 2011

Something I'm Not and Practices in Compassion

Something I’m Not and Practices in Compassion 

            After a break you would think that the words would be flying, but they’re not.  In fact they feel twice as slow in coming, but they are coming.  I decided to take a walk tonight, again at the lovely Greenway park. I don’t know why I went, I had a headache and I didn’t want to be around people, especially considering how I feel about my weight lately.  I went any way.  That seems to be the definition of me right now, “it doesn’t make sense, hell yes let’s do it!”  For the most part I feel like I am fumbling around, blind, fogged in, no clue how to find what I’m looking for, hell I can’t even remember what I’m looking for right now.  The butterfly metaphor is still alive and working in my life and right now I am wrapped up tight in a cocoon.  I have a feeling I’m going to be here for a minute. 
            Tonight’s blog is about me.  But, Sara, you say, aren’t they all about you?  I suppose in a way they are.  The last month or so I have been stuck in a serious depression.  My mother suffers from depression and so does my grandmother.  I don’t like thinking that something like this might be hereditary, that sounds like a cop out, an excuse, but the reality of how I have been feeling  makes me think that sometimes as much as something might sound like an excuse, it really is the truth.  For the first time since I was a teenager I have actually reached out for help.  I email my friends, I’ve had lunches with them, attend social events, in other words I make myself get out of the house.  I’m even going to see a shrink starting tomorrow, despite my spastic fears that he will pronounce me a nut job and lock me up for the rest of my life.  Most of the time I just want to stay in bed, but I know if I stay there that this thing will eat me alive.  I do not get out of bed because I want to, or because I am making some positive affirmation about the day is going to be good.  I get out of bed because I must get out of bed, it is a matter of survival. Same with reaching out to my family and friends.  Typically, I would try to bear this depression alone.  I have this fear of running people off, boring them or scaring them with what I call my “crazies.”  Not this time though.  Oh, I’m still afraid of all those things, but I know better, because last time this happened I almost didn’t reach out.  I can say with certainty that yours truly would not be here tonight if my mouth had not opened one night at a party.  I don’t even know what made me open my mouth, maybe just straight will to survive, maybe it was divine intervention either way I’m alive because of it. 
            Writing has helped immensely.  When I start breaking down, which happens far too often these days, I turn to my journals.  I write it out like you would suck poison from a wound.  I know I have to get it out of me.  If it stays in my head I’ll think about it until I break down again, berating myself and then it gets really ugly.  So instead I write.   The blank page becomes my safe space, the holder of my sorrow.  I’m grateful for every line I write.  But still, I’m not a poet.
            I don’t think I ever will be.  Oh, by the end of the semester I will probably have a better idea of what poetry should look like, but it won’t be mine.  My poetry is too abstract, which I still find incredibly amusing.  The good thing about knowing I’m not a poet is that I’m starting to get over it.  At first it hurt, learning I wasn’t a poet.  I mean I’m a writer and I thought I liked poetry, so why am I not a poet?  I would go home after poetry workshop days and just cry.  Then last week I got an okay review on my poem.  It wasn’t good by any stretch but at least I didn’t feel like the professor had completely dismantled it.  I have to admit it didn’t give me a lot of hope.  I noticed things I could have done better, playing with form and language, but I also realized that a part of me didn’t want to be a poet.  Somehow realizing that there was something on this planet that I wasn’t good at and, most probably, I was never going to be good at was a shock.  I always thought I would be good at everything I tried.  Coming to terms with something I’m not hasn’t been easy, but it has helped me see the things that I am and things that I want to change.
            First and foremost I am a nice person, a compassionate person.  I’m the kind of person who steps over ants and grasshoppers.  I stop in the middle of the trail and use my foot as a block to protect snails from being run over by strollers.  I’ve been known to run out in the middle of the road to rescue turtles (running in flip-flops no less) and dogs.  I’m the person who takes your criticism with a smile, nodding my head emphatically as you outright attack me feeling as though you just punch a hole in my chest.   I’ll give the little kids with collection buckets my last dollar.  I’m the kind of person who doesn’t want to disturb anyone with her little problems.  When I hear a song that reminds me of an ex-boyfriend I sing along and wish with all my might that he is having the best life possible, whatever that might be for him.  I’m the peace maker, the diplomat, the people pleaser.  I’m the strong army wife, but not really.  I am the person who remembers everything, you can rely on me.  I’m a good girl.  I do my homework, I get to class on time, I don’t skip.  I drink, but not often.  I don’t do drugs.  I am the poster child for what you should do and be.
            And there’s the word that started it all, should.
            Here’s how I really feel: empty and voiceless.  I want to scream at you for attacking me and scream at myself for allowing it.  I want to tell people to take care of their animals.  I want to tell people to watch where they are walking.  I want to talk to my friends about my problems no matter how small they might seem or no matter how many times I need to repeat myself and hear their reassurances.  I don’t know how to be a strong army wife any more; the last deployment nearly killed me.  I do not want to be the peace maker.  I am sick of being the luke warm diplomat and people pleaser?  Let’s not even go there.  I feel like getting drunk one of these nights and yes I’ve recently had an inkling to try pot.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I don’t want to be a nice person or follow the rules but something in me is no longer satisfied with the choices I am making.  I am a nice person, it’s just who I am, but there is a part of me that wants to reach out and punch someone.  Yes, I believe we’ve come full circle. 
            I don’t think I could ever actually punch someone, but I wish that I could find my voice. Fear overtakes me though and I’m left staring at my hands wondering why didn’t I say something?  One incident stands out in my mind from this past summer.  I may have related this story to you in another blog, but it bears repeating.  I rescued two beagles from the side of the road.  One had a collar with a phone number on it, so I called the number and the woman there said she would come get them.  Both dogs were emancipated; you could count every bone in their bodies.  They had sores all over them, cuts and scrapes, burs in their fur.  When the woman came I wanted to question her about the dogs condition, but the only thing I could do was timidly ask how the dogs got the cuts.  She said the dogs play around horses and they got cut that way.  I didn’t believe her.  I wanted to tell her that she needed to feed her dogs that she shouldn’t even be allowed to have them.  But I didn’t.  I was too afraid.  I watched her drive away and I knew I would never see either of those two dogs again.  I doubt very much they are alive today.  I felt I was just as guilty of hurting those two dogs as the woman was.  Why is it when I see things like this I can’t speak up?  Why is it I’m so afraid?  I wish I had the answers to those questions; perhaps it would have done those pups some good. 
            This semester at school has required my voice.  Every class requires participation and they are all so small that it’s impossible to hide in the crowd.  I have tried to use my voice but have managed to get smacked down in every class, either by student or professor.  So I got quiet, but the professors still call on you, so I don’t have a choice but to speak up. I try to keep my answers small and simple.  I would rather look stupid than say too much and invite conflict.  Looking at my situation I wonder if this semester is meant to help me find my voice.  It will not be easy, it is a difficult lesson.  I must learn to speak, to say what I need to say without getting defensive or angry.  I must learn to speak even though it might cause conflict, I must remember that not everyone in the world is always going to agree with me and as a good friend once said to me, not everyone is here to support me, sometimes that is the lesson. 
            “Opposition is true friendship.”  William Blake
            I might say that opposition is you getting punch in the face over and over and over again and you being really nice about it until you are bleeding all over the place, your eyes are swollen, your teeth are cracked and you finally figure out that you need to tell the person to stop or they won’t.  But still I get what Blake is saying, because I’ve said it myself.  The opposition is the lesson.  How can we have light without dark?  How can we learn if everything around us is happy happy joy joy?  No we need the opposition, we need the contrast, and I just wish I knew how to handle it better.  One way I think I could handle it better is if I had compassion for myself.  I realized a few days ago while writing in my trusty journal, that I have almost no compassion for myself.  I have compassion for everything else, even people who are nasty to me, but I left none for me.  Usually in a rough situation I send love, light pink candles, meditate and pray for guidance.  I realized that I’ve done none of these things for myself, even though right now I could do with a little love.  So I’m being gentle with myself, loving myself, even though it’s hard.  I even let myself light one of the candles I brought back from Fatima.  A long handmade beeswax candle that I call a mother candle, because the nuns at Fatima make them and Mary is so revered there.  I haven’t noticed much of a difference, but I have noticed a tiny difference and at this moment something is better than nothing. 
            For anyone who is going through depression I would urge you to reach out to those around you.   No, not everyone is going to be helpful, but you don’t need everyone.  You just need those precious few who are willing to listen.  As for me, I will inch out of my cocoon a millimeter at a time until I am back in the sunlight.  I will find my voice one word at a time.  I will plunge into the depths of myself and return, not as I was, but better, stronger, and more full of love.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Change in Posting Days

Just to let my readers know I will be changing to a bi-weekly posting schedule.  No blog tonight, but I hope you all come back and read next week.  Thank you for your continued support!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Emotional Orphan

Thoughts for the Week:

Water should not be cloudy and fizzle. (I almost drank it)
Sometimes you need to remember there is an and, instead of always an either or.
When a leaf smacks you in the forehead, you best be paying attention.
Sometimes we choose to walk with others, and sometimes we choose to walk alone.  It is when we walk alone that we must remember that we made the choice to do so. 
God does not make broke things.  (from tonight’s meditation)

Tasty Tidbit #1: Turn Right

            For those of you who having been keeping up with this blog you might have noticed that I have been having some interesting times lately.  After a couple of good talks with friends and the weekend so close that it makes me want to skip class tomorrow, I am on the road to recentering.  I have started meditating which is both good and annoying.  I feel like I am starting from square one.  My mind wanders all over the place.  The first meditation I did I was wondering why I couldn’t hear anything or why the answers were grabbled.  I would ask a yes or no question and hear both answers.  As I wondered about this it popped in my head that I needed to breath. Being a smart ass to the Universe is one of my talents so I said I am breathing (yes I talk to the voices in my head, who doesn’t?)  I was advised to take a minimum (because lately I need more than the minimum) of three deep breaths and then ask, the answer will come out more clearly.  I have to admit it works, although it usually takes about five or six good deep breaths to get me started.  One example of this working was on Tuesday.  Anyone who goes to Austin Peay knows about the parking and traffic issues.  A little slice of hell to go with your tuition costs.  I was sitting in traffic waiting my turn to dodge through cars and pedestrians when that little voice said turn right.  I didn’t want to turn right, I wanted to turn left, but I took a couple of deep breaths and listened and found a back way home that is very simple and there is no traffic at all.  This morning I woke up expecting to feel terrified because today was my poetry workshop day.  As I meditated taking a dozen deep breaths a song started playing in my head, well the line from a song anyway, “Everything’s going to be all right.”  I remember thinking; I hope to God you know what you’re talking about. Of course it did.  I try to keep the breathing thing in mind now, especially since I have been having problems with panic attacks.  The breathing helps.  When I start to feel the anxiety taking over I start breathing.  I don’t care where I am, I just close my eyes and start breathing slow and deep.  I’m just so happy about hearing that little voice again, even if it tells me to turn right, when I think I want to turn left. 

Tasty Tidbit #2:  Not a Poet

            I have mentioned in at least one previous blog that I like poetry and that I would love to learn how to write poetry better.  I decided that this was the semester to take the poetry class offered at APSU.  Then during the first workshop I realized something, I’m not a poet.  I don’t get poetry and I’m not sure how to get myself through the next thirteen weeks.  Oh, I’ll get through it; I would just prefer not to feel humiliated every time we walk into workshop.  In my creative writing classes, there is always a weak writer, someone who loves to write but hasn’t figured out how to do it yet.  I’m that person in poetry class and it’s not an easy chair to sit in.  I’m embarrassed about my poetry, it sounds like a five year old clobbered it together for me two minutes before class starts.  The sad part is how much time I spend on my poems.  I spend hours, literally hours working on them.  I read them over and over.  I walk into class and they sound like crap.  I’m not just being a drama queen here; I mean they literally sound so pitiful.  The worst part of it is I now have to finish this class and get over it.  I have to deal with the fact that I pretty much suck at writing poetry.  The other nine students in my class weave these amazing poems.  They are all different, but they are all beautiful.  I don’t get most of them, but that doesn’t take away from the obvious talent the writers have.  I have been working this week to find a way to change my attitude about poetry class, but today again in workshop I heard myself explain that I’m just not good at poetry and that the poem I wrote was hard for me to write.  This is probably another one of those perspective changing things but for now I think I’ll stick to prose.

Emotional Orphan

            I decided earlier in the week that I wanted to write this week’s blog about parents.  More specifically my parents.  I wrote the first draft in my head, as I tend to do, and then started to write the second draft, but something was missing.  It felt whiny and overplayed.  I know I have talked a lot about my father in past tidbits and blogs, but not much about my mother.  I have been extra emotional lately, although better than the previous two weeks.  I still feel this intense need to be nurtured; the problem is I don’t know where to turn for it.  So this blog is going to be a little bouncy as I take you through my week’s worth of blog thoughts that began on Sunday afternoon, when we here in Clarksville got some rain, but in Dover where I was with my mother it was hailing and storming like a bitch.

Sunday Afternoon

            My mother is creative.  She can paint anything, sew anything, and craft pretty much anything.  I’m not sure there isn’t anything crafty that she can’t do.  Lately she has been into scrapbooking.  There is a store near her that is a big scrapbooking store and she found out they have Christmas card classes.  There is one a month and she wants me to go.  I don’t have any interest in making Christmas cards.  I only send about three out a year so I don’t feel a big need to have them around, a box will last me a solid four or five years.  But this is my mother and I like spending quality time when I can, so I say I’ll go to the class.  Ben left for Georgia Sunday morning and I left in the afternoon for round two of card making.  While we are on the third card it starts down pouring.  All I can think about is that I left my windows open at home, with a fan in one of them.  At first I say it’s no big deal, there’s nothing I can do about it anyway, than it starts to hail.  The anxiety kicks in and I have to breath.  I tell my mom I think I need to leave.  To which she answers, but I drove you.  Fuck.  I forgot.  I had dropped my Jeep off at my mom’s house and she drove out here.  I apologize to my mother, I know she wants to stay and finish the other two cards, but now I’m worried about my animals.  What if the hail tears a hole in the screen and the cats get out?  I give it a minute and repeat my request to leave, again apologizing.  She gives in this time and the lady gives us the kits for the remaining cards and mom drives me back to my Jeep.  I drove home and got there just minutes before it started raining in Clarksville.  I was glad that my animals were safe and that the inside of my house wasn’t soaking wet, but I couldn’t get the look on my mom’s face out of my head.  Late that night I was still thinking about it when I was trying to get to sleep.  This is what I wrote in my journal.
“My mother feeling like she had wasted her time and her money looks at me.  I was always such a disappointment.”


            Tuesday’s and Thursday’s I spend about six hours in the library doing homework.  Today I am finished with my homework and I am just sitting and staring at the wall.  I’m thinking about my parents.  I’m thinking about how I was never good enough from the very start.  I think about my mom telling me how both my father and her wanted a first born boy.  I think about the pictures in my mother’s house, the one’s of my brother.  I think about how I desperately want my parents to love me, to treat me like a daughter who is loveable.  Then I wonder if they are capable of loving me that way.  I go home after school and try to cry, but the tears just refuse to show up.  There is just this burning ache in my chest that I can’t get to go away.  I can’t cry.


            Wednesday I began the composition of the first draft of this blog.  I talked about how competitive my mom always was with me.  How she was jealous when I got boobs (big ones anyway, she had what I consider to be a perfect C cup until a few years ago), and how we were always competing for who lost the most weight when I was in high school.  How there were so many times when I had to play the mother in our relationship.  I talk about the fact that I can’t talk about another woman with motherly like affection because she gets jealous and pissed off.  I talk about how much it hurts that both of my parents know that I write a blog, but as far as I know, neither of them read it.  I talk about how pushed aside I felt when my little brother showed up.  How my father would scream at me when I asked him to help me with my math homework, so I stopped asking and took the F’s.  I talked about the last walk I ever took with my father, the one where he outlined my life including which college I would be going to and I told him I wasn’t going and he could go to hell if he thought I was going to live his dreams for him.  I think about my mother convincing me to join the Air Force and the disaster it lead to.  I think about all these things.  I feel like an orphan, but both my parents are alive.  I am an emotional orphan and I feel like I am starving to death.  Not from lack of food but from lack of nurturing.  Wednesday night I finally cry, the burning in my chest eases.


            After my cry last night I decided I would be a bad student and not spend all day cooped up in the library.  I would go run some errands that I needed to run and worry about finding a parking space later.  It rained again Wednesday night and this morning was crisp and beautiful.  Some people would have called it dreary, but there was something shiny and beautiful in it to me.  I decided that I would go to school and I would study.  I drove out to school, parked, and started walking to the library which is where I spend the majority of my time.  I was only about a quarter of the way there when I just dead stopped.  I wasn’t thinking about stopping, I just did.  I stood on the sidewalk trying to figure out why I stopped, did I leave a candle lit at home?  Had I forgotten a book?  As I stood there I realized that I didn’t want to be there, it was that simple.  So without thinking about, which I’ve decided is the best way to follow spiritual guidance, I jumped back in the Jeep.  I wasn’t sure where I was going; I didn’t feel a need to go home. It popped in my head that I would like to enjoy today, the weather so crisp and fresh, so I decided to head over to the Greenway Park and take a walk. 
            When I got to the park I thought about what I said to myself this morning in the mirror.  I said, “You sure are putzing today.”  I have a little saying that I recite in the mornings from a book called The Seven Whispers, and I’ve listed my little prayer here for you.

Please help me to…

Maintain peace of mind (theme of the month)
Move at the pace of guidance (today’s theme)
Practice certainty of purpose
Surrender to surprise
Ask for what I need and offer what I can
Love the folks in front of me
Return to the world 

            When I meandered into the park this morning that second one was on my mind, I thought maybe this is what spirit wanted me to do right now.  I moved slowly in the park, trying to drink the air.  It smelled so good.  I stopped to touch rocks and trees and moss.  There were snails all over the place and I stopped to watch them too.  For anyone who doesn’t know snails are pretty much sacred to me.  A weird thing to consider sacred I know but they have always been present in my life, in fact in high school I made what I called a snail god for my first stain glass project.  Finding or seeing a snail or its shell has always been a sign that I’m on the right track.  I watched the snails wondering how many other people saw them or if they were just there for me, like a special gift.
            Being a “dreary” day, there were very few people out on the trail, which I enjoyed immensely.  I walked the entire length of the 2.6 mile trail enjoying every minute, appreciating every breath of fresh air and yes talking to Spirit about my parents.
            At first I was still in my original blog mode, the one were my parents simply didn’t love me.  There is a part in Sue Monk Kidd’s book, The Secret Life of Bees, where the main character Lily talks about how it was too much if both her parent’s hadn’t loved her.  “Some things were not possible in this world.  Children did not have two parents that refused to love them.  One, maybe, but for pity’s sake, not two.”  If you haven’t read this book I highly recommend it.  That’s how I felt.  I just couldn’t figure out how I could be so broken, the way I put it is how God could have made me so broken, that my parents couldn’t figure out how to love me.  I thought about these things as I walked up the trail.  There was something in me that little voice probably that was nudging me to change my perspective.  To look at my parents as humans.  I told the little voice that I did see my parents as humans; they were just humans who couldn’t seem to figure out how much I needed them to actually be my parents, even at 32.  I wanted to see through the eyes of love but sometimes I felt like there was no damn excuse why they had acted like they had or were still acting.  Even though my mom said it was okay about the card class I could see and hear the disappointment in her.  I had done it again, disappointed her, when was I going to get it together? 
            My walking and my conversation continued and as it did things that I wrote in my first draft began to untangle a bit.  The thing that felt the strongest was the question I had asked myself on Wednesday, were my parents capable of loving me in the capacity that I needed them to love me?  I thought about that question for a long time.  I didn’t feel like I was asking for anything extraordinary, I just wanted to be loved.  I just wanted to be good enough, even if it was just for a moment.  I figured that if I felt it for a moment that moment would preserve me for the rest of my life.  My next thought was that I didn’t want to write all of this stuff and have people think what horrible parents I have.  They aren’t horrible; I just honestly am beginning to believe they don’t know what to do with me.  After my walk I also believe that they have so much trouble loving me because they have so much trouble loving themselves.  I know they are human.  I know that children do not come with manuals and I know there is a lot I don’t understand about being a parent because I’m not one.  I try to understand it from their point of view, but it’s hard.
            As I walk the wind seems to pick up each time I hit a clear thought or at least a thought that has some clear thinking behind it.  As I walk I remind myself that (according to my beliefs anyway) I picked these two to be my parents.  I wanted to learn something from them.  I choose them with clear intent, when things were much less complicated, when I got the whole picture.  So what was I trying to learn and why?  The answer seems simple.  I must learn to love myself.  I feel it’s more than just simply having a love for oneself; this is an even deeper more fierce love that I must protect.  I wonder if that’s why have Athena sitting on my desk, a gift from a dear friend.  Is she here to show me (through wisdom), my own inner strength?  The protection bit comes in because I tend to give all of myself away until I am completely spent and most of the time I don’t notice until things start erupting around me. 
            I realize that I love my parents, even though they have trouble doing the same for me.  I realize that in a way I need to be my own mother and my own father.  By the time this realization comes I have made it to the end of the trail and started back, my pace is quicker now.  I will have to tend to myself with great awareness and balance.  It always seems to come back to those two for me.  Be aware, be balanced.  As I walked I laughed to myself and wondered out loud if that was what I came to learn this lifetime.  At that moment a leaf hit me forehead.  I mean it swooped out of the tree and attacked my forehead.  It was a tulip poplar leaf, yellow and brown with two tiny holes in it like someone had been having lunch before it flew in my face.  I got the message though.  I would tend to loving myself.  I would find a way to forgive my parents for not being parents or at least not the parents I feel I need in my life.  I will love them and I will forgive myself for being harsh to them and not learning this lesson sooner.  I would change my perspective about my parents and I would love myself.  I twirled the leaf in my hand and then released it onto the waters of the Red River and watched it float and bounce among the rocks. 

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Saying Thank You

Tonight is brought to you by:  A Wildberry Mojito, A Large Glass of Tattoo Rum and Coke, and a piece of string cheese.  Have fun!

Tasty Tidbit #1:  Fridge Quotes

            As my readers might have noticed I like to add quotes into my blogs.  Sometimes funny, sometimes a bit more serious.  Tonight’s quote section is actually from my fridge door.  I have a bunch of those magnetic words that you put together to make different statements.  Good times.

I believe in you

I will always love you

Chaos has truth

Serenity is balance and wisdom

Transform dreams

Inspire courage

Remember compassion

Laugh, hope and heal

Saying Thank You

            The past couple of weeks have not been a lot of fun for me. Although I do my best to keep this blog upbeat and focused on the good and positive, I find it important to recall that old adage, shit happens.  For about a month shit has been happening, not snowballing necessarily, just one thing after another.  Don’t worry we’ll get to the positive stuff a little later.  First we get to paddle through the river of pooh, the one that will get us where we want to be rather than were we are.  Let’s not even get into the “you’re exactly where you are supposed to be,” just yet.
            Today a good friend reminded me that it’s all about perspective.  Perspective is something that’s been missing for me for the duration of this little life test.  I lost perspective, lost trust in myself, and basically lost myself.  I’ve gone so far off my center that I don’t really remember what the center looks like or how to get back there.  I stopped meditating, stopped eating healthy, stopped paying attention, and stopped listening.  In other words I went totally human and forgot that I am a spiritual being.  I forgot that I have help if I ask for it, and I forgot to pay attention to what the Universe was trying to show me.  I was stumbling through the darkness, looking for something but I wasn’t exactly sure what I was looking for. 
            Now I might have mentioned in previous blogs the fact that we learn primarily from what we tend to term “the bad stuff.”  Many of those “bad” experiences carry some of life’s greatest lessons, if we are willing to learn.  I might also have mentioned previously that the point is not just to experience the lesson and learn from it, but get to the point where we ask for the lesson.  I guess saying, Bring it Universe, is pretty much the equivalent of asking for it.  I asked and then forgot to listen.  If I had listened I would have been prepared for the challenges that came up in my life this past month, I would have been able to handle them, but for some reason I decided to ignore the messages, that turned into outright warnings, that turned into, sucks to be you.  Not that I think the Universe has it out for us, we do have it out for ourselves, and we do it so well too.  At least I know I do. 
            I spent a year getting myself to the place where I wanted to be.  I exercised, meditated, spent time writing, and began eating healthy, along with several other things.  I stripped my life down and rebuilt it from the ground up.  For months during this transformation whenever I or someone else would do a tarot card reading, one of two cards, and most of the time both, came up in a reading.  The first was the Emperor.  To me, and this is not an exclusive definition by any means, that card means foundation.  The second card that kept coming up was, Death.  That card usually freaks people out.  Thanks to charlatans who like to tell people that they are going to die when this card comes up, or that someone they love is going to kick it.  The death card, again in my opinion, is a sign of transformation.  The old butterfly cliché comes into play here.  “Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over…it became a butterfly.”  I knew I was going through some heavy transitions so the card made sense to me.  I was working on becoming the butterfly.  To do so, I needed a strong foundation.  So I worked to build just that.  I guess a part of me wasn’t ready to take flight yet, because I find myself right back where I started, or at least close to that point.
            I don’t know when the breakdown of my habits began.  One moment I was putting organic in my mouth, the next I was putting as much as I could into my mouth.  I stopped going to the gym.  I backed down from my newly formed foundation because that foundation didn’t match with the people I loved.  I bowed my head and said yes of course I’ll do it that way.  Somewhere in there I stopped meditating, what was the point anyway?  I stopped writing for awhile, didn’t see much point in that, and somewhere along this dark road I lost the trust I had in myself.
            This lack of trusting myself has been reflected back to me in a couple of huge ways.  The first was when my husband and I had a major breakdown in our finances.  Used to having extra money, I kept allowing us to spend the way we had been when Ben was deployed, and then one day I didn’t have enough money to pay a bill, so I rolled it over to the next pay check.  The next pay period two bills and so forth.  I didn’t tell my husband for the first couple of months.  At first I thought I could just fix the problem.  I didn’t redo our budget until it was too late.  For three days I heard, “go check the bank account” but I couldn’t make myself do it because I knew what I would find there.  Playing the ostrich did not help me at all.  By the time I looked, of course we were in the hole.  Thank God for earth angels or we would have been completely screwed.
            While going into the hole was a terrible experience, and a flashback of troubles I had with finances when I was younger, I have to say in its own terrible way it was a good thing.  It made me stop completely.  I got smacked in the face so hard by that 2 x4 that it took me a good week to get my bearings.  This is a part of what I wrote in my journal just after this happened.
“Today I was slapped in the face.  Today I was stripped to my core.  It’s not over yet, but the healing has already begun…some part of me is altered.  Message unequivocally received.  I will pray that I have learned the lesson… I do not hate or fear the blow I have been dealt, I only fear I will not learn from it.”
            It’s strange to me that at my most vulnerable point, at my darkest hour, I can still reach for the lesson.  I wonder if that is being spiritual or just completely insane?  The point is that the blow I was dealt smacked me into my senses, at least for a moment.  I redid our budget, so that we had a true bearing of how much money we had coming and going.  I also set myself some goals, something I hadn’t done in God knows how long.  I reorganized myself and started again.
            Then school came around.  The first day I came home crying.  Then the second, then the third, every day was one stressed misery after another.  My schedule got changed, changed again, and then changed a final time today.  The reason it got changed is due to the panic attack that I had at school.  I damn near ran to the register’s office to change my schedule.  All I could do was pray for help and try to breath.  I was crashing hard and fast.  I didn’t know how to get out.  But I got out.  My prayers were answered, things snapped firmly into place once I gave in and listened.  Everything fit together perfectly and although I don’t completely feel the weight lifted from my shoulders I know it will be. 
            I was granted some time with my friends tonight.  I have missed them dearly.  I was concerned that I would turn into an energy sucking vampire after all the experiences I have been through in such a short time period.  To save on negativity I have only mentioned these main two, but believe when I say it was ugly there for a moment.  Tonight, my friends nudged me back to my center.  They listened to my stories and offered sound, compassionate advice.  They did not tell me I was stupid for the mistakes I made, nor did they in any way cut me down.  Instead they gently turned me, as good friends do, to look at the brighter side.  To find the light within, better to remember that the light was there and to trust it.  We all go through things in life.  Some of them seem life threatening, some feel humiliating, and some make us feel trapped unable to escape.  I feel I have dealt with all three of these lately, but with just a couple of hours talk, my friends were able to pull me back.  I am not at my center, but I am closer.  I know that my center is there and that “this too shall pass.”  I will find my center again, brush off my foundation, and rebuild.  This time, hopefully, it will be stronger, and wiser for the experiences I have gone through.  But the real point of this blog tonight is not to whine about my problems in life, we all have those.  My point tonight is to say the words that I feel we don’t say enough.  I want to say thank you.  Thank you to all of my friends who are there whether life was joyful or crashing down around me, who are willing to listen, who will help without judgment, who pray for me, who lift me up, and who encourage me and support me.  Without you I could not find my center.  I can only hope that one day I will have the honor of helping you.  Much love to you all and thank you.

Thursday, September 1, 2011


Welcome to the 40th posting of 'Ritas and Rants!

Tasty Tidbit #1:  Fabulous Quotes from Bread Making Day

It’s your duty to be dirty. 

At least there’s no stooge here.

Thank you for not being stooges.

Squash Gone Wild

The Butt Loaf

I like mine thick.

I’ll go deep.

It’s ALIVE!!

On a side note, I wrote these on the back of a DQ receipt.  At the top it says, “Hot Sensations!”

Tasty Tidbit #2:  Circled

            Ah yes, almost finished with the first week of the fall semester.  We couldn’t start the semester without some good old fashion drama.  For some reason English professors seem to like to put desks in a circle.  It’s supposed to be good for workshops and discussions, great.  I’m not a big fan of the circle, because it’s hard to get in and out, plus it takes up time at the end of the class to get things straightened up again.  I was discussing this point with a fellow student and she was telling me that after our first class, in which we did not put the desk back in rows, the professor that had the room after us was pretty unhappy.  Since we both dislike the circle we decided to leave the desks in rows until the professor showed up.  Perhaps he had talked with the other professor and would leave off putting the desks in a circle, one can hope anyway.  We had barely come to this decision when another student came in the room.  She immediately let us know that we needed to put the desks in a circle.  We explained our position and the position of the professor in the following class.  She didn’t care.  She talked over us and began shoving desks around us forming the circle.  At one point she asked me how many people were in the class, when I told her, she told me I was wrong and picked out her own number.  I wondered why she had bothered to ask me at all (turns out I was closer with my number than she was, ha, ha, mature I know).  We watched as she put the circle into place.  Once the desks were situated, many so close together that you couldn’t fit a notebook between the desks, the other student and I turned our desks into the inevitable circle.  The other woman however would not quit.  She went on and on, basically about how she was right about the professor wanting the desks in a circle.  Her first mistake was coming in and giving two women twice her age orders.  Her second mistake was that she kept talking.  The term ass-kisser came to mind.  When the professor finally showed up he was grateful the desks were in circle position and of course you know who piped up.  The woman I had originally talked with looked at me from across the circle.  I smiled and shrugged my shoulders.  It’s going to be an interesting semester. 


            I’m not sure where this blog is going tonight.  With the school semester just starting I haven’t had a lot of time to think about what I want to write this evening.  Things started off slightly upside down, which is normal for me, but it looks like things are smoothing out.  Tonight on my way home from school and paying the rent, I found myself noticing things I had never noticed before.  I know I talked about taking the time to really see your environment in a previous blog and I certainly don’t want to beat a dead horse to death.  So instead of telling you that tonight for the first time I noticed there is a side road named Hidden Spring, that I saw five U-haul trucks, New Hampshire, Maine, Newfoundland and I can’t remember the other two.  I won’t tell you about the large teddy bear on the side of the road marking where a child had been hit by a car or the golden brown corn across the street that is already being cut down.  I won’t tell you how glad I am that August is over, and that twelve months is too soon to see it again.  Instead I decided to tell you about an experience I had doing something called Morning Pages.  I wanted to tell you how I found my foundation.
            Morning pages come from a book called The Artist Way, by Julia Cameron.  This is not a book just for writers; this is a book for everyone in every walk of life, no matter what you call art.  One of the practices that Julia teaches is Morning pages.  Every morning you write three pages, doesn’t matter what you write, the point is to write three pages.  For me these pages serve as a dumping and a birthing ground.  For the most part they are the former, a place where the extra trash in my mind can find a home, a way for me to unblock so I can be clear and write.  At first I hated morning pages.  Hated them.  I grumbled, kicked my heels, bitched and complained that I “had” to do them, but I did do them.  I wasn’t perfect, I didn’t do them everyday like the program suggests, I missed a couple days or sometimes had to write them at night.  Despite my grumbling I did them and they started to work, which of course if when I stopped writing them.
            I put the stupid pages in a box and went about my business.  About a year later I decided to try again.  Again I wrote three pages a day, sometimes just writing blah, blah, blah to get through.  Sometimes I would write really big to fill the page up faster.  Again I noticed that after doing the pages for awhile something was changing, and again I stopped.  This time it took a lot less time for that “something” to happen.  A few months later I was desperately seeking a way to improve my writing.  I stumbled on the book while I was unpacking and setting up my meditation room, but it took awhile for me to get started on the pages again.  On August 11th, the same day that I started my goal lists to move toward my dreams, I also began my morning pages.  I haven’t missed a day yet. 
            It was two days ago, not even a month after I started doing my morning pages again, that “something” happened and this time I didn’t run away.  I hope you all aren’t holding out for anything too profound, although it was profound for me, it might not have the same impact for you.  It’s a bit like trying to explain a deeply spiritual experience, something is lost in the translation, but I will do my best to share with you. 
            The first couple of morning pages were much the same as before.  Basic mind dumping stuff.  After those first days I noticed lines of poetry, and story ideas popping into the pages as I wrote.  In fact one of the story ideas I will be using for my first story due in my fiction workshop class.  I continued to write and things continued to be mundane and then pop something would show up on the page.  Then on the 30th, something popped through that was altogether unexpected.  I was writing about school.  I was trying to work out how I would balance my schedule; this was when I was still feeling a bit upside down.  I knew that I wanted to do well with my work, but I also wanted to stay balanced with my friends and home life, not an easy thing with the classes I am in, as they are upper division and therefore fairly demanding of my time.  I thought if I could write it out maybe some idea would pop through.  And an idea did pop through.
            As I wrote out my hopes and fears I remember wondering if I could pull this off?  I didn’t want to be superwoman; I just wanted to make sure I balanced my life.  That was when the thought popped in, I can do it.  I know it’s simple, but for the first time in my life, I believed those words.  I wrote them on the page and I was astonished at their presence.  Just four little words, yet they possessed so much power.  It made me think of four cornerstones, which led me to think of all the work I had been doing in my life to build myself a solid foundation.  That foundation had just gone through a major earthquake and I was starting to question and doubt myself.  Those four little words were magic, they were better than magic.  For the first time in my life I knew they were true.  I wrote them again, just so I could savor the feeling of knowingness.  I wrote, I can do it.  The magic was not gone; I could still feel it like a steady pulse.  Something in me knew the truth of those words.  Perhaps it had been buried in my sub-conscious, or some part of my soul recognized the truth, I don’t know.  I just know that as I wrote those words I could feel the strength of my foundation.
            I wrote about my amazement in those morning pages.  I wrote about how I knew that those four little words were right, that they were true, and that I actually believed them.  This wasn’t fake it till you make it, this was actually it.  I was there.  As I wrote and wondered I realized that these four words are my foundation.  Four words, four cornerstones, so I wrote the words on a card, under them I wrote, these words are my foundation, a reminder to myself of the truth.  The next day I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to find the truth in those words, that I would write them on the page and the magic would be gone, but I was wrong.  I wrote the words again and again I could feel a steady strength within me.  I was grateful that I had taken the time to do morning pages, even though they are sometimes mundane and boring.  I was grateful that Julia Cameron found the strength inside herself to write The Artist Way.  I was grateful I found the words of my foundation and felt the truth and strength of their conviction.  So simple, yet so complete, I can do it and so can you.