Thursday, December 5, 2019

Releasing the Unseen Wounds

Here is another bit of writing that came across my view this week:
We are not meant to stay wounded. We are supposed to move through our tragedies and challenges and to help each other move through the many painful episodes of our lives. By remaining stuck in the power of our wounds, we block our own transformation. We overlook the greater gifts inherent in our wounds – the strength to overcome them and the lessons that we are meant to receive through them. Wounds are the means through which we enter the hearts of other people. They are meant to teach us to become compassionate and wise. – (Caroline Myss, b. 1952)
Hmm, this was interesting and funny as it came to me right after I whined about family and love again. It's important and it's taking me a couple of days for her words to stew inside me. I think I've done pretty good about my woundedness all these years, but sometimes stuff re-surfaces -- unresolved stuff. 

Annette mentioned us being warriors, and yes, warrior is a good term for us. We ARE warriors or we wouldn't have gotten to where we are today!

And there are different kinds of warriors. Just because we didn't go through some of the tragedies experienced by others, what we did and do go through has been traumatic for us. How we deal with it, even when it takes many years, is what matters.

It's not about the wound, but how we handle the scarring and strive to be better. We overcome the hardships. We make the choices to learn; we grow. Keeping quiet and holding secrets inside keep the wounds festering.

I want to work with this aspect of not staying wounded. I'm still not sure where it's going yet. There's a difference between staying wounded and daring to talk about it to show how far we've come and what we've accomplished. Talking about our wounds not only lets it out of us, but how we handle our issues can help others dealing with their own stuff. We have to be careful how we talk about it.
It's important to not come across as complaining, and I hope I don't. But it could easily slide that way. Many people fall into the woe-is-me mentality.

Maybe how we are handling our woundedness is the difference. It's not that we are wounded (we are all wounded in some way), it's the willingness and courage to do the work to heal! Yes, I am wounded, have been wounded, but now I am using my battle scars as badges of strength. Because, I made up my mind I am not going to stay wounded! (Hmmm, where is that statement going to take me?) 

I refuse to let the wounds of past love hinder my growth! Wow, that's a powerful statement for me. Let me put on my warrior shield. 

Oh, I just got a visual. All the warriors had shields, coats of arms. What would mine look like? What would yours? Wouldn't it be cool to design a shield and whenever we started feeling down, we could bring it out, call it up; a personal coat of arms to help remind us who we are and how strong we are?
Mine would have to have a cat on it ... and a hawk ... and a wolf ... and tree ... Wait, can't get elaborate. It has to be simple. Hmmmm ... Unfortunately, this type of design isn't in my artistic expertise. But even thinking to throw up my invisible shield when around others who ... challenge me ...

A good thing is I pretty much know who I am. I see the past ... failures ... not really as a failure at love, but as a strengthening of who I am, what I'm willing to compromise at/for ... again, I'm working on this ... and with love and compromise ... hmmm, not sure I am ever willing to compromise ME again.

Wait! I should say, "I AM NOT willing to compromise ME again!" And if this means I'll have to live alone for the rest of my life (except for a kitty), then I'm OK with that.
Once more I feel I'm on the tip of a revelation, but it's not quite there yet. There's something else. I'm looking for one more piece of gold. It'll come. I feel good.

Redefining Words and Terms to Fit Me

The sky is lighter today and I see hints of pale blue in the small patch seen through the trees from my seat. Soft little snow flurries are floating down. The brook's waters are a dark meandering strip with light bouncing on the ripples flowing between mounds of white covered rocks and banks which look like alien creatures making their way up brook against the current.

Gail mentioned sadness ghosts -- I like that term! It fits. Sadness haunts my memories as I constantly hold back from the guilt of not being a better mother. Maybe this is something telling us we really did OK ... because many of us do feel we weren't better parents.

Maybe it's all part of our universal lessons. What do we do with our not-so-goods? Do we throw our lives away in addictions? Do we get out of bad situations and make a better life for ourselves and help others? How many people succumb to the other side?  

What if we looked at the word "mother" and redefined it for us personally to know we are OK, we did OK. What if our job was to raise the kids just as we did, then it was up to them to set sail for their own lives. Our life then becomes doing what we did and do. 

Redefining certain words and phrases to fit the meaning for me is something I've been doing for a couple years. After all, why must other people's interpretations pertain to me? This is not a one-size-fits-all world. I AM Me and I don't have to be exactly like anyone else. (I think I always knew this inside which is why I always struggled around others.)

I read and hear things and then let it all stew as my being creates meaning for me. 
For instance, learning to understand what brings me joy is not necessarily what others see as joy.

I love the term wholehearted living and I’m designing the concept for me. I came across the term "sufficiency" last week -- which I know what sufficient means, but sufficiency? Somehow it feels important. I don't quite have this one yet.

"Daring greatly" is another term I've adopted and making work for me. So often throughout my life, I've dared greatly, and never realized just how much stepping away from the box meant.

The quest to define my life and beliefs continues. Sometimes it’s just changing the words around, so they better speak to me. I’m growing stronger and happier at living wholeheartedly.

Saturday, November 30, 2019

The Price I Pay to be Me

Sometimes in trying to find my own way, my thoughts go down unusual roads. These ramblings are not a faulting of anyone or anything. My intent is always to be the best person I can be, but I also have to BE me.

 There are many kinds of people in the world. We can’t all be the same. This is just the journey I follow in learning to understand and accept who I am while trying to resolve issues and heal emotional wounds so I can live more wholeheartedly.

The holiday season rolls around and once more I am teary. If I get what I want for the holidays – to be alone, to not stress over what to buy or what to bring, to not have to go anywhere or be anything other than what I am in the moment – why do I still cry during the holiday season?

I thought I was beyond this. I was fine right up to yesterday, Thanksgiving Day. Am I pretty much living the life I want? So, why do I get over emotional and sad?

Times have changed. Situations changed. I’ve changed. There’s no going back, nor would I want to. So, what’s the matter with me?

I felt I had a big hole in me from which my life energy drained. I had to stop the leakage. Unfortunately, plugging the hole also blocked out family. I know, it sounds like a terrible thing to say. After all, family IS everything, and I truly, truly, truly LOVE my family. So, why do I feel this way?

I first recognized it with my mum. My mum was everything to me, my rock, my anchor, yet, I always felt I had to set up kind of barrier around me to protect myself. Not from her physically, but there was something energy-wise I felt she pulled from me. It wasn’t intentional. She wanted the best for me. It’s just there was some tie between us which grew more pronounced as she aged and struggled to hold on to life … like she was trying to live through me (as long as what I was doing met with her approval, and often she didn’t approve, which I felt.) But I loved her so much!

Then I look back further in my life, to my childhood and the feeling others always wanted something from me, something I found it hard to give, that I couldn’t give. It was like I had to give up being me to be the one they all wanted me to be: parents, sibling, relatives, teachers, peers, lovers. I had to give up me to be liked …

And I never felt I was really liked in spite of that. I was always left feeling inadequate. I was never enough. I felt I was never allowed to be the real me! Maybe I just didn’t know how, always feeling others knew better than I.

Do I suffer guilt? Hell, yes, that’s probably a good part of it! I never feel I am good enough through other people’s eyes. But I’m much better than I was! I am striving to make sure I am good enough in my eyes … until the holidays roll around or I’m missing talking to family. Then I start feeling inadequate again to their eyes.

And, what about my sons and grandchildren? I can’t even find words. I love them dearly, but to be with them, while I enjoy it immensely, something flattens me, empties me. I feel like a muddy puddle drying up around the edges. Again, I don’t feel I can be me; something holds me back.

Sometimes I don’t feel they really care about ME. But I know that’s not true! I know they love me … but I don’t know if they truly know me, or if they are disappointed in me and see me as someone who should be a better mother and grandmother. Again, my fears and inadequacies kick in.

It’s not about them. It’s about me and my issues, my fears. Sometimes, when it comes to love, I’m all messed up. Maybe I don’t really know how to love. Maybe I’ve been hurt so many times by love, I’ve given up on love … but that’s another subject.

Monday, November 18, 2019

Living Wholeheartedly: Further Defining What It Means for Me

I came across the term “wholehearted living” from reading Brene Brown’s “The Gift of Imperfection.” Those two words spoke volumes, not in actual words, but in how the term reverberated through my soul. A fire was lit. This was it! This is what I’ve been working towards all along, and I grabbed onto that concept as if it was lifeline.

What first popped up in my mind were words about being a better person, such as: honesty, integrity, kindness, honor, gentle but strong; those qualities that define a good, kind person. Words I feel are important for living a good life. Ideals I want and believe I am. But it’s so much more …

And once I became aware, it began slowly working within me all the time. I’d catch myself in times of stress asking myself how I can live more wholeheartedly. I’d catch myself going down the rabbit holes of frustration and despair, but then those words would ring in my brain and I’d pull myself out. Live wholeheartedly!

I find I’m laughing at myself over certain situations. I’ve never done that before! Things that would upset me for days I am now seeing them in a different light. I’m able to re-look at how I’m reacting, reminding myself to live wholeheartedly and going over the few key words as to what living wholeheartedly means for me.

As time goes on, the life lessons and self-work continue to evolve. Life isn’t reading a chapter, taking a test and being done with it. Life constantly deals out lessons and challenges. It’s a continuing education. So, what does it mean to me to live a wholehearted life?

Wholehearted living does not have a how-to formula. It’s not something with specific steps, not a one-size-fits-all; our lives are not cookie cutters. It’s not about copying Brown’s work into my lifestyle because we live totally different lives. It’s about taking her basic concept and reforming it to my life – mentally and spiritually. Yes, some things ring true, but other aspects I need to change around and put my words to it.

I’m developing my own definitions to fit me at this stage of my life. It’s not about setting my beliefs as gospel for anyone else. It’s taking the concepts resonating in me and turning them into assets for my life.

I am choosing how I want to live my life and I’m “daring greatly” (another term Brown uses) to talk about it. I’m sharing my experience in how I’m finding my way in this world. I write about coping with life issues; not as a sob-woe-is-me story, but to share how I deal with the challenges and how I’m always striving to be a better person … not to prove something to others, but to live the most wholehearted life I can.

I think about what living wholeheartedly means, and beyond those first words I mentioned above are peacefulness, calmness, patience, resilience, doing the best I can, goodness and determination. There are also the clich├ęs of going with the flow and finding balance. But I also consider: Taking the time to ask for Divine help/guidance; being true to self; allowing for imperfection; looking for joy and beauty every day; loving when I can and forgiving when I can, setting boundaries.

Creating boundaries is a bit of a toughie, but necessary for someone empathetic. Setting boundaries for me means cutting myself of from negativity/anger; not falling into media hype traps and avoiding people/corporations trying to sell me the next best thing.

Setting boundaries doesn’t mean cutting myself off from the world – although I am consciously doing so in many cases. It doesn’t mean I don’t have compassion. It’s about choosing what I can comfortably allow into my life. It’s about changing what I’m thinking about the minute I start falling into despair by some negative comment or event. 

It’s still a work in progress. I’m sure other aspects will surface, and I’ll make adjustments.

What does/would it mean to you to live wholeheartedly?

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Fear and Wholehearted Living

I contemplate the growing ice changes in the brook. What was a slim layer allowing the dark color of the water show through a couple days ago is now thick, ridged white shelves formed around rocks and along the brook’s edges. I find it hard to stop looking. I’m fascinated by all the curves and textures.

I came across this blog I’d started awhile ago and decided to finish it. It’s still appropriate …

I was hit with such a huge wave of fear I started crying. It came from a culmination of all the negativity on Facebook and news reports on TV, radio, and in the papers. It came from trying to do the right thing and allow people’s freedom of speech and getting slammed for it because some people took offense. It came from the media pushing the panic button over everything and anything.

It’s a fear that people can’t say anything anymore without someone else taking offense and going off the deep end. Any little piece of information is too easily taken out of context and blown all out of proportion. Has a fear drug or something been put in the, air, water, or food making friends turn against friend and neighbor against neighbor? What happened to hearing more than one side of a story?

I sat here with tears falling feeling like I want to isolate myself even more. I want to build a moat around my house. I’m afraid to say anything for fear others are going to jump down my throat if my beliefs differ from theirs. I try to avoid the negativity, anger, and hate as much as I can, but it seeps in. It’s hard to get away from it when it’s all anyone talks about. I’m afraid with the escalating drug problems and violence we are doomed as a people. It’s like the world, and now this country, has gone crazy.

But through the tears and fears came thoughts and questions. Yes, part of this stirred up issues from the past; fears at being ridiculed as a kid, being put down and made to feel none of my opinions ever mattered, and that I was stupid. However, while those old fears were triggered, I am not there now, and this is different.

I used to feel safe, especially here in New Hampshire. All the really horrible stuff happened in other countries, or, at least, in the bigger cities like Boston, New York, or Los Angeles. I believed in the United States fairy tale we were the best, strongest, and right. That is not so much the case anymore and maybe it never was. There have always been issues.

I believed all the wars and really bad stuff happened elsewhere. We were safe here, for the most part. Perhaps I should admit we’ve not always been as good as our history books portray. Look what happened to Native Americans, for instance, and with slavery. And we’ve had our share of wars and conflicts. (But this will be another topic to cover.)

So, how can I look at this logically now that I am practicing wholehearted living?

The first thing I have to do is pull myself away from my initial reaction; do the “Sleep on it.” I can think more clearly once my emotions calm … and if it’s too upsetting and nothing really pertaining to me, I have to STOP thinking about it! (Sometimes very difficult to do.)

I need to know when to walk away, not allow myself to fall down the hole of despair. I ask people to change the subject and if they can’t, I leave. I refuse to buy into the hype; the what I feel is harassment by the media. I wall off the fear and build a virtual moat around myself and home.

I change my thinking by working on a project. I’ll do something physical like paint or go outside. I’ll write, read, talk to someone with whom I can discuss anything.

Living wholeheartedly calls me back into the balance, goodness and peace that comforts me.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Enjoying a Favorite Meal

Ice forms around rocks in the brook just above the water level making ice ledges and chandelier-like crystals. Water continues to flow under the ledges. My current view is looking through the balusters of the deck railing. When it warms up a little more, I'll go out for photos. I did take photos of the moon last night and before it got light this morning.

The crows are extraordinarily busy today. I’m not sure what they are doing. I don’t usually see them like this. Pele spent about an hour up on the table beside me watching them, too. Then the gray rats came, a couple of blue jays, and a morning dove which I chase away from the deck.

I put out a suet for the woodpecker and the little birds, chickadees, nuthatches, titmice, cardinals, and gold finches are here after the seed I threw out on the deck.

Those who know me know I have issues with food. I’m probably not the strangest eater around, but I certainly have my ups and downs with food. I do not eat healthy and probably never will. I don’t go in for all those healthy fads.

One habit is I go for long periods without eating, then will eat too much or grab whatever is handy. I’m just too busy (or lazy, however you want to look at it) to do the prep and cooking. I don’t mind clean up, but all that other is just too time consuming.

I am trying to be a little better. However, there are a couple of foods where I can easily eat myself sick. One is tiramisu and the other is shepherd’s pie. Simple shepherd’s pie: mashed white potato with milk and butter, peas, corn, ground beef, salt and pepper.

I love, love shepherd’s pie and it’s even more special when I don’t have to cook it! It’s not that I can’t cook, I just don’t like or want to. Today I had such an opportunity. My neighbor, Andy, loves to cook and the other day we went to the store and got the ingredients. I buy, he cooks. It works for the both of us.

Today he made an amazing shepherd’s pie and yeah, I ate too much. I couldn’t help it, and now I’m stuffed and won’t need to eat anything else tonight! I was doing the happy chair dance as I ate … and I have enough for the next couple of days. Simple comfort food.

I never used to talk too much about what I eat. There’s always that shame factor, those who are quick to pooh-pooh my meal choices. Now, however, I want to be OK with what I eat and the choices I make. Living wholeheartedly teaches me to celebrate who I am, the imperfections along with the joys. It’s who I am and there’s nothing wrong with it – as long as I am happy and working towards a greater good for myself.

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Committing and Focusing

Friday morning leaves still remaining on the trees were being ripped off in the fierce wind. Some piled in a thick layer covering the deck. Cardinals, chickadees, nuthatches, and titmice scratched through the accumulation to pick through the couple handfuls of seed I tossed out.

The lights occasionally blinked off and on during the day as I worked on this week’s newspaper edition. Acorns smacked hard on roof and deck making me jump every time and scattering the birds. Branches plopped down and scratched at the side of the house. Eerie shadows reflected in the sunlight through a window in ghostly images dancing against an inside wall.

I have so much stuff to write about ... but to write, I need to allow enough time for the thinking. I get a little spark, an idea, a sentence or paragraph. My attention keeps getting interrupted, and unless I keep working, the spark dies and turns into a cold ember. Hmmm, this is something to think about.

The butterfly bounce (what I call jumping from project to project before finishing previous ones) doesn't allow time needed to nurture the flames of creativity. Butterfly bounce fires tend to be chaotic flash fires which quickly burn out when my attention is grabbed by a different project idea leaving me feeling unfinished, like there's a hole in me.

My favorite poet, David Whyte, once said, “The world will pay attention to you, if you pay attention to it.”

I feel that way about creativity; whether I am writing a poem, doing a pastel painting or working on a book, photographs, or gardening. Paying attention to the project at hand becomes a two-way street. Focus narrows and, even though I can be excited about what I’m doing, that concentration opens a connection.

Divine Presence comes during these moments as whatever I’m working on pays attention back to me. The excitement mingles with a sense of peace and love inviting unseen help (angels, muses, etc.) Words and ideas flow, and I am filled with joy.

So, what does this mean?

Distractions and bouncing from project to project is hectic. If I'm continually scattered with a myriad of things going on all at once, that doesn't allow me to be quiet and get the help from The Divine. I get frustrated with too much going on. My stress level rises which allows self-doubt and negativity to creep in.

The lesson: If I let myself calm down and ask for help to get through it all, magic happens (at least it’s magic to me.) Here’s some of what I’m doing to slow my mind and stop the hectic butterfly bounce:

This revelation has me revamping my studio to not allow myself to get caught up in too many projects at the same time. (I had four easels set up with four different paintings in various stages.)

I’m taking the time to relax and let my mind calm down. (When my mind explodes with multiple ideas, I’ll take a couple notes and let others go.)

I’m putting some projects on hold – I don’t have to do everything now … and I’m not going to let myself feel guilty about it.

I’m not allowing myself to keep thinking about what I’m not getting done and focusing only on the now. Already I feel less stress.

I’m going to calmly focus on the projects I choose to work on and commit to finishing them before starting more.

I make these decisions to help me in my quest to live wholeheartedly doing the best I can with joy and love.